In terms of getting back to basics, I think one thing we tend to forget is that cameras can only do one exposure setting at a time. The camera and film don't average anything.
It seems to me that 10speeduk is doing exactly the right things to control the contrast in the scene, it is just a matter of fine tuning, i.e. adding a bit more more light on the subject and picking the right exposure peg.
My opinion is that as far as exposure goes for any portrait, the placement of the face trumps everything else when the shutter drops. The only question that matters to me is "where do I want the face to fall on the film?" (in which zone?)
Because of my opinion/choice, the only value I see in taking various spot readings is to verify that my face reading makes sence, not in finding an average to set the camera to. For reflective readings, sure, verification using other spots is a reasonable practice, but the face reading is all that really matters to me in the end. A single incident meter reading (or gray card reading) accomplishes the same goal and eliminates all the guess work.