Epiphanies and Exasperation

Crumbs. A new decade. It’s the law that we look back and reflect, right?

I’ve started 2020 in my 50s. Well, just 50 to be precise. No need to overegg the whole age thing. It occurred to me that the next ten years will be gone in a flash. They do as you get older, why is that? Anyway. I’ve never thought anything much before about the starting of a new decade. But by the time the next one comes and bites us on the bum, I’ll be 60. 60!

This has to be the decade, surely, when I get my act together. Become a world famous writer and all that. These past six months, I’ve made a lot of changes. To me, they were pretty major: I gave up covering my greys then had all my hair chopped off. From shoulder-length brunette to grey pixie overnight. What will people think, I wondered? Funnily enough, no one even noticed.

I signed up to Lookiero and bought a load of new clothes to go with my new image. Clothes that hadn’t even had other people in them. Come on, I’m a skinflint. I’m happy to buy an amazing coat on eBay for £15 if it’s no good to the current owner. I haven’t worn any of the new clothes yet. Um…

I spent approx. eleventy billion quid on new make-up and life-changing skincare from Glossier. Are people stopping me in the street to comment on how bloody fab I’m looking? Nah, of course they’re not. I mean, it could be said that I was already pretty fabulous before I started all this nonsense. I’ve reached peak awesomeness. Or maybe not.

My epiphany as I start the new decade? I’ll do as I am. My life won’t change a jot if I lose weight, shave my head or start wearing rock chick clothes. It might if I actually crack on with the thing I’ve stopped and started (or vice versa, more accurately) and actually do something about my dream. Is 50 too old to start being fabulous? Obviously when I’m a famous writer, I’ll have to stop being so spiffing or else Richard Curtis and all those other super Suffolk types will be too intimidated to be my friend. Maybe I’ll just stick to hiding under the kitchen table every time someone knocks on the door. Best not to change too many things at once, eh? I’ll be writing under there, though, oh yes.

Of Sense and Sense-celebrity

So I have an email, asking if I’d like to audition for a new cooking programme on Channel 4.  Good grief.   I’m the last person who should ever be on telly doing anything.  In fact it’s a wonder I’m allowed outside on my own, unsupervised.  But cooking, competitively, against professional chefs?  Crumbs.  I get anxious just writing a shopping list.

Nope.  I will not be going on the gogglebox. No way.   Probably… but wouldn’t it be a hoot?

In preparation, I embark upon a self-induced technical challenge.  The Greek God encourages matters by ‘interviewing’ me, Noel Fielding style, as I whisk and whirl around the kitchen.  Well, I say that; he mainly pretends to wear a terrible shirt and gets in my way a lot.

I’m not sure daytime TV is ready for me, effing and blinding, falling over as I search for the wooden spoon and wearing blue plasters all over my hands and face.  In fact, I had a terrible premonition when I wrote this blog post yonks ago.  But I’m wondering… cooking, whilst holding a conversation without swearing, and remembering to hold my stomach in… I could do that, couldn’t I?  And let’s face it, if you’re going to have a complete nervous breakdown, why not do it on national telly, right..?  Hmmm…

Imagine the joy it would bring to my friends and family, ever-supportive:

‘She’s always been a liability but it turns out she can’t cook either, the poor old girl.’

(You could do it though.  Go on.  You can borrow my hold-it-in knickers?  This is the link)

SAD – Seasonal Added Disaster

Hello?  HELLO?  Blimey, where’s summer gone?  Well, I know where it went, the useless, tricksy git.

I had a text from my brother at the beginning of August:  Just thought you’d like to know we took Mum out to the usual place for her birthday.  Lots of fun but possibly too much fun because she had a heart attack when she got home and now she’s in hospital.

Never one to avoid a bit of drama, my 79-year-old mother ended up being strapped to a board like a Hannibal Lecter murderous maniac, loaded onto a private plane by a fleet of firefighters and sent from Jersey Hospital to Oxford for an emergency triple bypass.  Heaven only knows what stunt she’ll pull for her 80th birthday.

So most of August, for me, was spent on the M25 and M40, dashing between the office,  pitta kitchen and hospital.  I am utterly traumatised, mainly from having to spend endless days trapped on a small ward of old biddies letching over the unsuspecting male black nurses.  Good grief.  Those poor blokes.

Normal life has resumed but I’m all out of kilter.  Being self-employed, I’m all out of money too.  But that’s character-building, right?  Hey ho.  Another two weeks of toil and we’ll have a cheeky few days in France.  If I can pretend to be French, I can pretend to be rich too, right?  I’ll just practise my shrugging for now.  C’est la vie, hein?

I’m steadfastly ignoring the heredity nature of traits… not so worried about my heart health but concerned that Boots know something I don’t judging by the label on their parcel..? Ooh ‘eck…

Of Menopausal Mania

Life has hit an all time low.  I tapped on a pic yesterday to bring up more info and sat there, tutting, for a minute or two ’til I realised the terrible truth: the pic I’d clicked was in a magazine.  A proper one, with pages to turn and a tea-stain on the front.

I fear for my sanity sometimes.  Perhaps it’s the bite marks left after three months of daily b*llockings in a law firm earlier this year? (Directed at everyone, I hasten to add. How thoroughly enjoyable!)

‘I just don’t think I’m a [insert name of bastard law firm] sort of girl,’ I bravely emailed the HR lady before flouncing out, going home and having another cry.  Good grief.

Had my brain disintegrated after a year of street food-ing?  Was there flour in the nooks and crannies of my thinking department?  Perhaps the hormones had taken over the asylum and I was over the hill; a menopausal maniac who shouldn’t be let out unsupervised?

My children – and even the dog – would say all of the above is true but they are horrid and not to be trusted.

I run a successful foodie business.  I’ve just started working a few days a week in another law firm where there’s cake, not confrontation.  There’s a new secret project on the go… no wonder my brain works more slowly?  It’s not broken, it’s just got a lot of tabs open.

A ten-year life plan seems hellishly long when you’re hot flushing, have creaky knees and can’t find the car keys but the plan would work more effectively if this bloody magazine picture would just hurry up and load…

Sod it

Of Simplicity and Spuds

‘What’s the ****ing point of a fancy loaf of bread or making poncey sauce when you can buy it cheap in the shops?’ shouts one of the ghastly Gogglebox blokes when forced to watch Tom Kerridge’s ‘Top of the Shops’.

Life would be quicker if I did one huge haul of fluorescent sauces and sliced white once a week.  But oh, no.  Why make life easy?  Even whilst cooking for other people all weekend we still go home, wash up and start again for ourselves.

The 70s were all about convenience.  Mum would drive to the little local supermarket to buy a packet of Smash rather than walk round the corner to Vic le Riche’s rickety little stall with the honesty box on his muddy farm drive for a bag of freshly-dug Jersey Royals.  Not really more convenient.  She probably just wanted to keep up with the times.

A neighbour would bring mackerel after a day out fishing, or crabs which clattered around the kitchen floor while us lot stood on chairs, screaming.  I don’t remember us eating those goodies though; probably saved for the grown-ups while we ate our reconstituted spud.

Lurch from the 70s to the yuppie years.  Working for a merchant bank, it was all excess – any excuse for champagne and eating out.  Lobster? Chateaubriand?   Yes please.  Madness really.  But it was the norm.

Now?  I’m at *that* age.  I want good food but can’t be bothered to faff.  I’m knackered and curmudgeonly.  I eat the things that still make my parents grunt at suppertime:  leftover Jersey Royals, roasted in a bit of oil, then dunked in a fried egg.

Instead of reaching for Nigella, if I want to bake a cake, I use Mum’s old ‘4, 4, 4, 2′ recipe for buns (4oz self-raising flour, 4oz caster sugar, 4oz marge, 2 eggs).  Beat softened butter (I still use Stork, for nostalgia!) with sugar ’til pale; add the flour, then the beaten eggs.  Go wild, pop in a dribble of vanilla extract.  Dollop into (buttered & floured) cake tins.  The whole thing takes about 20 mins, including the 15 mins baking (180 in a fan oven).  Feeling yuppie?  Bit of whipped cream with a little bit of icing sugar and sliced strawberries in the middle.   Lush.

Homemade lunchbox muffins.  What child wouldn’t want those?  Not us 70s kids, to be honest.  We wanted Penguins.  And I still have a soft spot for a Club.  Mint, please…