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Cooking Up a Storm – Wonder if Jeffrey Archer’s Free for Dinner?

I am having to get up early despite the fact I am officially on holiday as the builders who are currently turning the back garden into a Somme look alike arrive at 7 a.m. There is a ridiculous “What will people think?” part of me that means I can’t appear in front of them clad in my granny nightie and Nora Batty type sheepskin slippers—as you can probably deduce, vanity is the prime driver here rather than modesty.

One of the discussions between the Drama Queens in the car during one of our prolonged “trips of terror” otherwise known as clocking up DQ no. 1’s driving hours was how you could go off a song once someone you hated liked it—remonstrance from me that hated is not a word you use about people. This has always been one of my mantras to the extent I once overheard one of the Drama Queens at the pre-school stage saying very piously “hate is a word we don’t use in this house” when some small friend declared they hated peas—or more likely the food in general in my house. However, hating friends aside, I have to confess to a small frisson of disquiet when I read Jeffrey Archer’s selection of the best short stories in The Week. Amongst his top five he had nominated two of my all time fave raves, Sredni Vashtar by Saki (actually I’d include almost all the Saki short stories) and Bernice Bobs her Hair by F. Scott Fitzgerald which I used to use (very unsuccessfully) as my teenage guide to how to attract a man. It’s not that I ‘hate’ or even dislike Jeffrey Archer, in fact I think he is rather a splendid character, but it is disconcerting to find you have so much in common with someone who is so very different—or perhaps more accurately it is a tribute to the great short story that appeals to such different people.

One of the stand out features of my trip to the UK is the way in which all my Sydney friends rallied round the helpless husband—he is in fact not all helpless, being far more competent than me in the kitchen department, but judging by the offers of dinner and delivery of food parcels he is obviously rated as unable to pick up a kitchen spoon or more worryingly seen as delectable dining companion by all my nearest and dearest female friends. Perhaps it is time the nightie and slippers got a makeover for his benefit rather than the builders. Humiliation continues to be heaped on in shovelfuls in that the Drama Queens are demanding that I get copies of all the recipes for the delicious dishes delivered to our doorstep. I just know the end result—I will slave away to recreate the dish only for my assembled expectant crowd to stare disbelievingly at the plate and declare, “But this isn’t what Judy/Diana/Libby’s X looked and tasted like” and like an unsuccessful Generation Game contestant I will be sent home having failed to imitate the masters. (N.B.: you really will have to be my Generation to remember the Generation Game though I was pleased to see Brucie is still going strong with a starring appearance at Wimbledon—wonder how the lovely Anthea is going? Still twirling presumably).

I have just come across the most fabulous George Eliot quote that I have stuck up above the stove to cheer me up as I wrestle with yet another “Mummy Surprise” dish:

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” And on that note am off to pursue life as actor and writer. Please send all future correspondence c/o my agent.

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