Tales of the Unexpected

It’s not quite what you expect – no eerie intro, no Joan Collins bouffant hairdo, no suspended terror…just a quite serious proposal of marriage from a large shouldered, vaguely attractive Viking propping up the bar in the French House (fine Soho institution).

It’s late. I’m half cut. But boy have I had a nice birthday. An excellent night with the Hub: the French…Bocca di Lupo…Ronnie Scott’s bar (apart from the rather nice gin and the spectacular dreads of the cloakroom chap, very forgettable)..back to the French and voila….

A marriage proposal.

He was a bit squiffed but terribly earnest…and quite unsure of himself. He has a beautiful girlfriend. Lovely cheekbones. But she has a temper, apparently. I told him to find someone who will be kind to him when he’s old and who will make him laugh. I think it struck a chord. Anyhow, he did offer marriage. I had to turn him down. He’ll get over it. 

I’m married. But I’ve never been proposed to.

I got fed up of waiting and, pissed under a grand piano in 1996 in a Worcestershire farmhouse, I popped the question. We sort of agreed and passed out.

So, it came as quite a nice 45th birthday treat, to have my first proposal. And he’s only 32. Can you even start to imagine someone being even vaguely within radar who was born when you were in Lr IV?

I love stories of love and proposals…tell me how yours happened?

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The Best Cake #teamnigella

cake

I’m in my favourite day. Christmas cake day. And thanks to Nigella, it’s a pain free totally guaranteed to work day. The only thing that can go wrong is that I’ll have one too many glugs of the brandy bottle and forget to pick up the Boy from school. Will that get me onto the front page of the Sun? Or do I have to up the anti and shove some of the powdery stuff up my nostrils for that to happen? I think if I had a dead mother, a dead sister, a dead husband and a shit of a second one I’d’ve resorted to hard drugs too. Occasionally. I’ve only got one out of the four so I’ve stopped at alcohol.

If you fancy it, it’s the Easy-Action Christmas Cake, Nigella Lawson’s ‘Feast’, p92.

And it is easy and it is lovely.

 

 

 

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Empty Head

mincemeat2You know what it’s like. When your head draws a blank.

I’ve been kidding myself that I’ve been much too busy to write anything. Too busy clearing leaves from an otherwise trouble free garden. Too busy shovelling horse dung into borders. Too busy tying Quality Street (only the ones they like) onto the brass hoops on the advent ‘calendar’. Too busy Spurfing (that’s Spotify surfing. Nostalgia tripping. Time wasting).

I’ve just been lazy. If I don’t read poetry than I can’t write it and I haven’t read anything for weeks. Not a single verse. Until yesterday. So thanks to Elaine Feinstein and the solidly reliable Elizabeth Bishop for kicking my backside….(And thanks, Spotify for Everything But the Girl. It’s been a long time…)

 

Making Mincemeat

 

tick

tick

tick

tiny

feint smudged pencil ticks

in the margins

purposeful to the tick tail end.

Glasses slipped, apron flour bleached

and tied where that scoop of flesh met hip.

Gathering raisins, sultanas, almonds, hard crusted peel

lemons, oranges and

too old, oil-skinned Bramleys.

And suet, curded on the chopping board

severed from shining kidney clots, neat in a hand.

And sliding jars to find last year’s spice and

the half grated nutmeg

and the dark muscovado set hard in its bag.

Tick.

I open her book.

And her pencil marks bring that momentary heave,

that rounded heavy gap.

That swell.

I make my ticks next to hers.

 

 

 

 

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FoodInteriorsGardens (FIG)

You really need to see this because it’s fab.

A new blog by my chum Pascale.

Serious talent.

foodinteriorsgardens.blogspot.com

 

 

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Coat: Mission Impossible

I vowed that this year I’d BUY a winter coat. A coat that someone else had made. Cashmere. Sleek and expensive (I fancied – as in ideal but unobtainable – the red Dior, trapeze shaped, scarlet). My fingers would be saved from being needle-blunt-end punctured and I wouldn’t have to wrestle with placket pockets and broken machine needles. It’d be easy: present credit card, swathe oneself in the soft underbelly hair of a South American goat. I couldn’t do it though. I couldn’t find a decent coat that cost less then the price of a small car and I’ve worn down my shoe leather hauling my increasingly sad self from shop to shop to shop. So I made my winter coat again. Beautiful deep grey felted pure wool from the Cloth House and a cherry silk lining. I’ve worn it every day since I finished it a week last Thursday. Hope you like it….

Coat2013coat2013coat2013coat2013coat2013coat2013

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Fennel Silk: A Very Splendid Thing

I’ve had a very exciting time recently making a silk blouse for the lovely and enormously talented Niki at unifiedspace. Niki designed the fennel print cloth which is such a beautiful green (the photographs don’t really do it justice) and which was a joy to work. I’d like to have metres and billowing metres of it and waft around like Elizabeth Taylor (the later Richard Burton years)….

fennelsilkfennelsilkfennelsilk

 

Niki and I live about 400 miles apart, not ideal for regular fittings so I posted this off into the ether with a churningly butterflied stomach, crossing everything in anticipation. It’s fine. Niki’s happy. And so am I.

Clik (watch this space…)

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The Creative Industries

I embroidered some leaves.

It’s Autumn, after all. I know that because I’ve got an Arran sweater on and tights and my fingers are slightly cold even though I’m indoors and the air smells of damp and fungus and sweet marshmallow woodsmoke and there are elderberries in a pot in the kitchen waiting to be cooked into jelly. I left them overnight so that any livestock could escape: a very small snail with a shell as pink and as delicate as a baby’s fingernail and a spider abseiling off the work top.

embroidery: leafembroidery: leaf

I was in Manchester recently, sitting nursing a coffee in the Craft and Design Centre, scribbling a few things including snatches of conversations. Four women with presence: neat, A-line skirted, girdled, hair done, nail polished in a pale pink way, big semi-detached, plenty of spare cash for jollies, forthright. A priceless snippet…..

Coiffed No. 1: “She’s got the biggest wardrobe ever: it’s called the floor and the

things she wears. I wouldn’t go out with her it was that bad.”

Coiffed No. 2: “But she still has to get to work, I mean, get from the station or

bus or whatever dressed like that. In public.”

Coiffed No.1: “It’s the Creative Industries she’s in. They’re all like it.”

A pause for cake.

Coiffed No.1: “Why do you wear beige? It’s old. It makes your skin look beige.”

Coiffed No. 3: “It is! And it’s not beige…it’s fawn!”

 

I had another coffee just so I could stay and listen….and then this which just made me roar inwardly:

 

Coiffed No. 1: “His wife died.”

Coiffed No. 2: “Oh!”

A mouthful of coffee.

Coiffed No. 1: “His THIRD wife.”

Coiffed No. 2: “Oh! Really! Three?”

Coiffed No. 3: “He’s a multi-faceted chap is Don. Solicitor. Takes his dog to work with him.”

 

I’ll leave it there…..

 

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