Faffing for England

  I’ve had a couple of conversations this week about my modus operandi. One of my readers rightly pointed out that I’m a classic case of Little Red Hen Syndrome. LRH, you may remember from bedtime stories of yesteryear, thought it would be neat to bake some bread and all her farmyard pals thought so too, until they were expected to contribute.  And when Little Red Hen realised none of them could be bothered or was competent to help did she say, ‘Okay. I can just as easily pick up a loaf from Sainsbury’s’? No. She said, ‘Bugger it, I’ll do it all myself.’

I’m full of bright ideas. Everyone says so. They just don’t understand why I feel the need to execute them. Right now in my kitchen I have four containers of hard-boiled eggs in the process of being coloured for Easter. I’ll tell you what I’m using, just on the off-chance you feel like having a go. The eggs are white. Brown doesn’t really work. I had to go to Fallon & Byrne to find white eggs  –  Dublin’s equivalent of Fortnum and Mason. Who’d have thunk it. White eggs have become a luxury item. Anyway, they are being gently coloured in: blueberry juice, cold red zinger tea, a solution of turmeric, and green stuff in a little squeezy bottle from the Baking Equipment shop. And I just know Mr F is thinking, ‘Why, oh why?’

I was talking to a writer friend today too. She regretted a morning spent faffing instead of writing. But I’m a firm believer in faffing. Whether it be genuinely creative faffing (see above) or merely poking the fluff out of the computer keyboard crevices, it’s A Good Thing. It allows the cerebral wheels to spin and often, in my experience, helps untie some knot you’ve been wrestling with. My friend is one of the most industrious people I know but she doesn’t feel that way. She was raised in a high-pressure family and that’s a hard thing to get over. It makes me realise the gratitude I owe my father. He once spent ten evenings making a curtain pelmet out of hardboard and a hand drawn fleur-de-lys template.

‘Why?’ the neighbours asked. ‘Was there nothing on the telly?’

‘A dust trap.’ they said. ‘Could you not find anything you liked at the Co-op?

My Dad, God rest his soul, could have faffed for England.


And a couple of entirely unconnected items. The ever-stupid Daily Mail came up with a good one yesterday. TV cook Nigella Lawson was photographed on Bondi Beach wearing one of those all-encompassing burquinis. ‘A fashion blunder’ according to the DM. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the airhead who wrote that headline that getting your kit off in public and exposing your lived-in body is what most of us would call ‘a blunder’. Likewise, getting sunburned and running the risk of melanoma. And if the very pale-skinned Miss Lawson, whose children lost their still-young father to cancer, chooses to be cautious, what bloody impertinence to criticise her. But you know, I only scan the Mail so I can bring you these occasional morceaux of fatuity.

Finally, a question. Why do health food shops always smell so unappetisingly vile? Leave it with you.

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