Wednesday rarely brings much productivity, and today is no exception, so I wrote this while I should have been doing other things. Ready for further adventures in freelance inactivity? If not, save yourselves while you still can, and study the mating habits of the leopard slug (courtesy of Simon).
1. The dog waited until I left the house and ate my Caramel today. I only went to the post box and came back to find him licking the wrapper with the most perfunctory, token display of shame. I can only imagine he was quite literally sitting and waiting for me to leave, having already worked out where I had hidden my afternoon treat. He's a bit like having the worst flatmate ever. "Oh, I thought it was mine, sorry". "Oh, you weren't saving that were you? I'll get you another. When my giro comes through. Oh, just leave the washing up, I'll do it later. I'll have a tea if you're making one, thanks. We're out of milk though".
I was less furious, however, than I would have been, say, on a day when I hadn't eaten ten salted caramels with that demented "if I eat them all, there will be none left to tempt me" logic.
2. I tidied my baking supplies last night (yup, wild times). This is a classic soothing activity of mine. I love nothing better that a neat pile of paper cake cases, graded by size and theme. The chaos of the world, the state of the Eurozone, the plight of the ginger seal; all recede momentarily. Anyway, it transpires that far from evoking a calm, frugal orderly world of fresh scones, my baking cupboard is evidence of a dangerous compulsion of Elton John proportions. I discovered: 13 types of edible glitter. 57 novelty biscuit cutters. 4 loaf tins. 14 types of food colouring. A whole box of Christmas baking supplies, including: special paper cases, the rancid plastic pine trees and Fimo snowman of my childhood Christmas cakes, a silver robin, three sizes of reindeer cookie cutter, plus the normal bell/angel/star/bauble/holly leaf cutter selection. I kept expecting to open a box and find Jane Asher in there, where I had imprisoned her some months earlier. Except for the fact that she is all over the papers at the moment, so either she has her Blackberry in the cupboard with her, or the newspapers are full of LIES, and that surely can't be, can it?
I wonder about this baking equipment thing. I bake about once a month on average, I reckon, habitually using the same four recipes (Nigella brownies, Trish's sponge, random cookie recipe from the interweb, Hummingbird Bakery stupidly delicious and easy cupcakes even though admitting to liking cupcakes is as bad as, I don't know, liking James Blunt or something). I watch the Great British Bake Off much as I might watch someone trying to ascend Everest solo - fascinating, but not remotely relevant. 'Cor, a croquembouche cone. Hard core'.
On some level, then, this hoarding of supplies is plainly Not About Cake. Rather, I have imbued baking with some kind of ritual importance, so that in my head it is a proxy for all manner of nurturing, and organisational skills. A bit like my friend the barrister telling me that if you had house plants they wouldn't take your kids into care. If I have baking supplies, I must be a Proper Mother. Things I have an unearthly respect for that also fall into this category:
- sufficient numbers of pairs of scissors
- not just sellotape, but parcel tape AND masking tape
- a sewing kit which is more than just one of those stolen cardboard pieces of crap from a hotel
- a selection of wrapping paper and cards
- many Christmas decorations of great antiquity and most importantly, one of those Scandinavian fabric advent calendars with pockets, where you put sweets in each pocket. I gave mine away in a competition on here a couple of years ago and have been trying desperately to replace it.
The only one of these I actually have is the scissors, but in my head, this is what a "proper" home should have. It doesn't come from my own childhood, where the only scissors were Prog Rock's left handed ones, and no one baked except on birthdays. Ok, Prog Rock did own, and use, a darning mushroom, so perhaps he has left quite a deep imprint of what a real home looks like. I don't know, the inside of my head is an oddly reactionary, 1950s sort of place sometimes.
3. Whilst making terrible, halting progress on my edits of doom (which basically amount to: DO IT ALL AGAIN, BUT LESS SHIT THIS TIME, KTHXBAI), I did at least work out what my absolute ideal career would be. I have been having a considerable amount of professional angst, recently, but I now know what I should be doing, so I can call off the pitiful self-flagellation. What I need to work towards is becoming a writer in residence in a zoo. I have found little evidence that such a position exists anywhere in the world, but I don't really see why that should stop me. Having recently discovered real positions both as an intern for "EUROPATAT, representing the interests of the fresh potato industry" and as a reporter for Poultry World, reality seems considerably stranger than fiction. Moreover, I would happily do it for free, in return, perhaps, for the occasional cup of tea and slice of coffee and walnut from the cafe and a pile of straw in the tapir house to sleep on. Go on ZSL, you know you want me.
Let's throw this open to the floor. Either:
- What arbitrary thing makes a house/flat a Proper Home for you?
- What is your dream job that does not actually exist?