Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Malice in Chunderland

I am not real.  I am a fantasy.  My own fantasy, admittedly - I think, let's be frank, nobody with a real, interesting life, would dream up someone as banal as me.  Even the fantasy of myself is pretty lame.  And this is it:  I collect objects that correspond to a spurious alternative universe where I have dinner parties, appreciative family meals, friends even, and grandchildren.  I may well have written here before about the wardrobe; the wardrobe that exists for a life I do not and never will lead, in which I have opera coats for the opera I go to once every two years (and don't enjoy), and evening wraps to wear with the evening dresses I don't own at the gala dinners etc that I never attend.  I have a drawer full of lingerie for the sex life I no longer even aspire to, and nighties for nights in which I will never wear them.  I have gardening clothes - and yes, I do garden, but I do that in the nightie that I don't wear at night, but slip on in the morning.  I have decorating clothes, but tend to paint in whatever I happen to be wearing at the time that the notion to redecorate hits, and then once they're splattered in paint (along with my hair, skin, and all surrounding surfaces - because I never put the old sheets down that I keep in the 'decorating' cupboard for this purpose) I either keep going until they're ruined and become 'new' decorating clothes that I'll never wear, or take them off and do it naked.  Yep.  I admit it.  I am a naked decorator.  I also have DIY clothes.  But I don't ever do DIY.  I have aprons.  They hang on a peg unworn.  In fact the only garment from my speciality wardrobe that I do actually use is my 'football' gear - leather trousers and longjohns that keep me snug on the terraces.

So that's the reason for one walk in wardrobe, four storage boxes and three chest of drawers.  Oh and because I'm at the top of my weight spectrum none of the 'normal' clothes fit me either.

But this isn't about frocks and costumes.  This is about props.  This is about 'Eric' the foot high bunny cookie jar that in my imaginary universe, one of the unborn as yet, imaginary grandchildren will at a future date, reach their chubby little hand into, and remove a homemade cookie from, and love me that little bit more.  This is about the collection of fruit shaped jam jars, that the same imaginary grandchild, or one of its siblings, will demand to have on the table when I'm making them breakfast from scratch when they come to stay in Granny's non-existent house in the country, and have a boiled egg from Granny's non-existent chickens.    This is about the ice-cream sandwich maker that the self-same grandchildren will crow over when I give them the star shaped one, made with my own home made ice cream from the ice-cream maker, and...  well you get the picture.  And if you don't, I have them all on facebook.

None of my children even want kids.  And you can guarantee when they do, those chubby little grandchildren will not be allowed sugar, and probably not allowed anywhere near evil granny.

And still I dream.  I can immediately envisage the dinner party where I take the lid off the new cheese plate that I bought this week on Columbia Road.  Who eats cheese any more?  Who isn't lactose intolerant, or gluten-free (which puts paid to the sweet Indonesian bread baskets with the net cloche lids)?  Who has dinner parties?  Who has friends?  I don't.  I can't even get my children to have dinner with me, without watching them pick over the food like it's impregnated with americium-241.  But, nevertheless the cheese plate is bought.  As well as a jelly mould (ground up bones anyone - oh you're a vegetarian?)   Big daughter is leaving for a couple of months to travel to Japan to acquaint herself with real radiation, and in my innocence I decide, well I'll cook her a farewell dinner.  Who needs friends when you have family?

Of course, it's all a ploy to use the cheese plate.  The meal has a centre piece, and it's green with a mouse on top and cats frolicking around the side.  (In life as well as ceramic.)  So I go to Waitrose and buy a nice hunk of something Italian.  I buy a jar of pickled pears to go with it.  I get some asparagus (I have an asparagus dish too - but in the end I forget to use it - another of the casualties of the kitsch collector is memory) and I make a pie.

It's to be torta da porro.  Leek pie - a Tuscan dish according to google.  Big daughter is a vegetarian so there can be no meat.  Bf is also a vegetarian but will eat sand if you assure him no animal has died in it.  Small daughter is just picky and doesn't eat anything.  But I'm inspired.  Leek pie it will be, except neither Waitrose nor Marks and Spencer have leeks.  Tesco is out too.  Okay so torta dei zucchini then, because everyone has courgettes.

Courgettes, however, are mostly water.  Water that keeps on coming.  I am surprised they don't export them to arid countries as an alternative to digging a well.  I add eggs.  I add a bit of cheese.  I think it's going to be like spanakopitta, but courgettapitta.  I lay out the filo pastry and scatter toasted almonds between the sheets, spoon in the filling, bake and voila - 35 minutes later it is ready to flip.  This method has worked well with chicken twice over the past week, but today - no siree.  It looks good until I turn it over and sauce oozes out, all over the bottom of the oven.  The eggs have not done their job and bound the pie together.  Rather the eggs have gone off on holiday and left the filling to run amok - home alone.  It's a pie in three parts.  Pastry.  Filling.  Liquid.

It tastes okay.  It does.  The daughters poke it with a fork and leave it on their plate.

This was not part of the fantasy ladies and gentleman.  This is not the stuff dreams are made of, neither culinary nor maternal.   In none of my alternate universes do crap meals made by mother feature high on the aspirational list of things to do before I die.  I know there are things more soul destroying that having your kids exchange knowing glances over the kitchen table, before they run out to the corner shop and buy the ingredients for brownies, which they have for supper instead (and don't bloody offer round), while one can only imagine glumly what they are saying about your cooking to your detriment.

Bf ate it.  He said it tasted nice.  I ate it.  It was ok.  Just ok.  Not horrible.  Bf wouldn't know a good meal from a three-legged donkey unless it comes curried, but he did like it.

Still, I did get to use the cheese plate.  Though now it's tainted with memories of inadequacy and failure.

That's the thing about imaginary lives.  They are just that.  Made up.
delicious tomatoes from the greenhouse on the revamped tea tray for the imaginary tea parties

bad pie

cheese cloche

good pie

fantasy summer dinner parties will have these troughs full of ice and cold beers

oh granny, what lovely jam jars you have