Just How Perfect Are You?

A few weeks ago, society appeared to be divided into two camps. There were those who took the Coronavirus seriously, did as they were told, stayed in and didn’t excessively stock up on lavatory paper. This group consisted of ’the majority of people’.

Then, there was a second group, consisting of a combination of young adults who took to having house, street and beach parties (when the weather was fair) combined with a handful of the more elderly and dare I say it, faintly belligerent generation. (This latter group of septuagenarians and octogenarians claiming that if the war hadn’t got them, then neither would this piddly germ and frankly if they wanted to take their daily fifteen mile drive to collect The Telegraph, then they jolly well would). Within this group of ‘those who would not obey’, both parties blamed each other, not only for the spread of the virus but also the lack of the aforementioned lavatory paper.

However, times have calmed and we’re (generally speaking) all now doing what we’re told and life is tootling merrily along. Parents have lifted all time restrictions whatsoever on their children’s iPads and phones as they realise the hypocrisy as their own weekly ‘screen time’ update is into the double figures per day. People are finding enormous pleasure in the occasional arrival of an online delivery, far too much comfort in the contents of the fridge and most notably, starting to sweat at the rapidly declining contents of the ‘drinks cupboard’.

However whilst as a nation we have now joined together whether that be by clapping and cheering for the NHS, or simply the unity felt by ‘all being in this together’, there appears to be another two groups unfolding and emerging. They are as follows:

1) The ‘Mary Poppins’ variety

This group keenly suggests ways we occupy our newly found time by learning a new skill such as learning Swahili on Duolingo whilst baking gluten-free, fat-free canapés to go with alcohol-free drinks at six o’clock (and not a minute earlier). They are encouraging us to mimic their exercise regimes that would put Joe Wicks to shame and embracing our inner decluttered selves. The photos of their beautifully made-up faces in their perfectly neutral-toned harmonious homes are are seen by some of us mere mortals as ’inspiring’, but by others as ‘sanctimonious little f*****s.’ Whichever way they are viewed however, they remain calm in their down-dog yoga stance, whilst sipping herbal tea and micro-scheduling their day.

On the other hand there is a second group, commonly known as

2) Everyone Else …

This is a large collection of the population who will now happily pay a total stranger any amount of money to take their children and their sodding homeschooling off their hands; those whose wine o’clock which used to begin as soon as the taps were turned on at kids bath-time, now starts at lunchtime; those who regretted from day one having invited granny to stay and those who never again want to hear the patronising nasal tones of their husband’s boss giving his daily virtual meetings whilst having to tiptoe around the house with a screaming toddler, an hormonal teenager with attitude and a dog with diarrhoea who has just eaten the left leg of the sofa. Was someone having a laugh when they allowed hormonal teenagers into the same house as a mother mid peri-menopause? And as for the husband, well as soon as the sodding lawyer answers his sodding phone, the Decree Nisi will be thrust down somebody’s sodding throat …

But all is not lost. For one day, this too shall pass and we’ll emerge from our homes, irrespective of whichever group we had momentarily belonged to. And, as we step out, blinking in the sunlight of our newly found freedom, we can be assured of unity once again, unity in our extraordinary memories of a strange, strange time.

Kx

Rugby and Baking Bread …

When I was in England, I owned a bread maker. Cumbersome, bulky and noisy, it did however produce, with very little input from Yours Truly, a magnificent loaf.

Imagine for a moment if you will, the smooth, mellow smell of freshly baked bread drifting from room to room; Can you hear the blade of the knife cracking through the crust? Can you see the sharp crumbs exploding outwards before the knife finally reaches the air-filled soft pillow of bread lying within? And the silky butter glistening, sliding and melting into the billowing warmth until finally one’s salivating mouth can savour and devour the taste, the texture, the pure heaven of a simple slice of bread and butter?

From this, I trust you have deduced that I love bread.

With delights and joy such as this, is hardly surprising 12 million loaves are sold every day and that entire books have been written about baking a loaf of bread. And yet, since living here in New York, I have tasted only one good loaf and it cost just shy of 7 dollars. “7 dollars?!” I hear you screech … yes. It used to make me screech too, now I just whimper and close my eyes as I painfully hand over a ten dollar bill. Don’t even bother work out how much that it in pounds. It’s simply, a lot. There is cheaper bread, but it is grim, partly due to the excessive sugar content. So, because I am essentially tight, I bought an american bread maker, flour and yeast, and for the next consecutive ten days I made a loaf of bread. Surely in the long run, this would be more cost effective? Apparently not. Ten days, ten disasters.

Dropping a loaf of bread with the consistency and weight of a London brick makes quite a noise as it travels at speed down 49 floors in a refuse chute. The crashes, rattles and hollow echoes boom way their way down to the basement. Another disappointment. Another bread-making disaster.

The Colonel raises an eyebrow at the latest effort, a twitch of a smile faintly teasing at his lips. “No toast for breakfast then?” He tentatively asks, looking at the gnarled solid body of inedible, semi-cooked flour in my hands. I harrumph and turn to go to the refuse chute at the end of the corridor once more.

“I could use this thing to sodding knock you out,” I mutter, clutching my loaf.

“And half of Manhattan,” he snorts with laughter.

On his return from a trip to London, he brings me presents. Amongst the other more romantic trinkets, there is a kilogram bag of strong bread flour and some yeast. He is nothing if not eternally hopeful and practical. The flour is Canadian, the yeast British. I try again.

Loaf number eleven I could smell as I woke. I don’t do jumping out of bed for fear of dislocating something, but this morning was the exception. A little jump and consequently having to limp to the kitchen, I peered through the viewing window of the bread maker. Dear God it worked! Hallelujah!

It is not perfection, but with a little help from Britain and Canada, I have made my first half decent loaf of bread. The Colonel and my son are still asleep having been up all hours watching some rugby which apparently was quite important. They have since gone back to their respective beds looking dour.

I wonder if the prospect of bacon sarnies for breakfast will raise the mood. One minor issue if I’m having to import flour and yeast, I suspect my loaf of bread is probably going to cost significantly more than 7 dollars …. hmmm. Might need to have a re-think.

Katie x