‘Would you like to come in for coffee?” she said. Now, before you go getting the wrong idea, the last time anyone asked me in for coffee with nefarious thoughts in mind, Margaret Thatcher was still in Number 10. No, we’d been chatting at a meeting and walked homewards together.
“Oh,” she said, “you’ll have to forgive us, the place is a bit of a mess.”
The house looked like an illustration for Homes and Gardens. I was expecting that. People who apologise for the mess nearly always have a Howard Hughes view of domestic clutter. The people who don’t apologise nearly always live in the sort of place which my mother would describe you could stir with a stick.
There was no dust, no Lego on the floor, but it was when she opened the fridge that my domestic insecurity hit new highs.
The fridge was a miracle of cleanliness and Tupperware.
It was like those fridges on telly. The ones in the adverts are always being opened by yummy mummies and everything within is in perfect order, with the featured product in centre stage. Jings, even the incredibly fat people who can’t understand why they got fat always open the door to bulging tidy organised fridges.
Our fridge is a food-based version of Jenga, that game with the wooden blocks carefully piled in a tower. Remove the wrong one and the whole lot comes down.
In our fridge, the challenge is to reach, say, that packet of wafer-thin sliced ham. You need to call on the skills of Indiana Jones lifting the Golden Idol at the beginning of Raiders.
One wrong move, one wrong packet displaced, one accidental nudge of the leftover roast and the whole lot could come out in an roaring avalanche of sausages, bacon, beans in plastic containers and that strange brown stuff my son likes on toast which looks a bit like chocolate but tastes weirdly nutty.
There are jars with things in them which may have been jam, or pickle. Now they are certainly preserved, but we can’t remember what they were in the first place. There are faintly green things. Some have become family pets.
And most worrying, just beside the little light, things float eerily like the scene in Alien. That worries me.
Welcome bride, groom and the lambast man
“Well,” she said, at the table next to me in the coffee shop. “I just told her, you get right back upstairs and get that muck off your face, madam. If you think you are going out looking like a cheap tart with your dad and me there, you can think again.”
“Quite right,” said her friend, who looked like she knew a thing or two about a well-ordered fridge.
“Oh, yes,” said the woman with the objection to make-up and cheap tarts, “I gave her a right lambasting.”
What a word. You know you’ve witnessed a right good ticking off when the word lambast has been used, although it does sound a bit like a nippy Italian car – “Let’s take a turn to Troon in the Lambast.”
“And how did she take that?” inquired the friend of Madame Lambast.
“Och fine,” she said. “Of course, she blubbed all the way through her wedding vows. Can’t think why, it’s the third time she’s said them.”
Frozen brekkie wasn’t the best
LAST week I was down in London, in a hotel which claimed to be a Best Western. I would dispute this since this howf bore no resemblance to The Searchers – not only the best western ever made, but the only one in which John Wayne actually acts. No, wait, The Shootist, mebbe. Or True Grit.
Said hotel advertised a “continental breakfast”.
Which continent they did not specify, but Antarctica would seem to be missing a frozen croissant.
No half measures
Stored safely in the fridge, at all times, however, are the half things, those bits left over, carefully encased by my husband in cling film. He keeps baffling bits of food.
Half a tomato. Who keeps half a tomato? Who needs half a tomato? Who makes a salad with a half a tomato? Would you not, in the course of making cheeky wee cheese and tomato toastie, pop the remaining tasty tomato morsel into your mouth, thus ensuring that you hit that all-important five-a-day target?
Oh, here’s a large tablespoon worth of M&S cottage pie. Why not finish it? What was wrong with the bottom left-hand corner of the serving? Admittedly, it says “for two” on the box, but we all know that’s only true if the two people in question are a pair of super skinny catwalk models who usually only eat organic air-dried spider-webs, so you might as well whale in and have a ball with the whole cottage pie, or are we preserving this bit for the pixies?