One of the problems with suddenly being made to do something you love on a daily basis is that you begin to discover how fickle you are. It’s a bit like moving in with a new partner. Not that I’ve done it that often, I hasten to add. It’s roses and romance all the way when you’re snatching a few precious hours together. Being obliged to watch him pick his toenails in front of Top Gear when you’d planned on Kirstie’s Handmade Hallowe’en is a completely different matter. No wonder so many of my friends choose not to share their living space with the loves of their lives.
Take cooking. I love cooking. This may come as a surprise to some. It did to me. For a fair proportion of my adult life I had no choice about the matter. If I didn’t cook, five people went hungry. One of them being me. I could peel potatoes with my eyes closed. Dice an onion in my sleep. I suspect I did on occasions. There was a brief, halcyon period when the younger members of the family took to the kitchen. Then five dwindled to two. I cooked every single bloody evening. I hated that chopping board more than words can say. Those few square feet of kitchen surface became my own private hell. Two went their separate ways at long last. I moved to Bristol. I lived on poached eggs for six months. I lost a stone … Now there’s a thought – The Poached Egg Diet – could be the next big thing.
Towards the end of the six-month poached-egg-honeymoon period, I began to realise something was missing from my life. It wasn’t my husband. It was food. Real, honest home-cooked food and all that went with it. Chopping. Frying. Roasting. Blending. Experimenting with flavours. Creating. I wasn’t forced to do it any more. I had a choice. I began to enjoy it.
At this point, the logical progression would be to tell you how my relationship with writing has deteriorated since we moved in together. My shoulders ache at the mere thought of a keyboard. I’m on the verge of Repetitive Strain Injury. If he interrupts One Born Every Minute just once more … And the truth is our relationship has changed. In the five days we’ve been living together it’s already become less romantic. In truth, it was only romantic before because we rarely saw each other. There are times when he infuriates me. I’m going to have to have a word about the laundry. And I wish he wouldn’t keep me up so late at night. But it’s a real relationship now. Warts, toenails and all (Top Gear would be taking it too far …). I’m actually putting words onto metaphorical paper. Creating. I have a choice. I’m enjoying it. Romance has its place. On the whole, I prefer reality.
So what was all that about cake? It may not be worth quite 500 words, but it’s going to give me the extra few I need to limp across the finishing line after a very long day. I’ll leave you with a picture of the finished Victoria sandwich I wrote about last night, baked for afternoon tea at the One25 drop-in this afternoon. Maybe there’s a good reason why I love cooking …