Some people are very sweetly declaring sadness at our impending emigration. To this I inevitably exclaim that they couldn’t possibly see us less than they do already. Seriously. We are like modern-day hermits. It’s not that I don’t love my friends, or value the time I do, occasionally, spend with them. It’s just that, generally speaking, getting out of the house is so overwhelmingly difficult that the horror of it looms large over any social occasion. And so I’ve been trying to overcome The Fear by facing it, head on. Grabbing the bull(shit) of parenting by its horns, if you like. The following is how my efforts have been rewarded.
On Friday, I brought the kids to the library. It took 35 minutes to leave the house (“The books! Where are the books?? Why have you taken your socks off? Put them on RIGHT NOW! You! Come back here! Do NOT go outside with no clothes on! What-is-the-baby-eating-oh-God... No it’s fine, it’s just Mummy liked that lipstick...”) before we piled into the car (“GET UP OFF THE FLOOR!”; “Will you STOP taking your socks off!” “Do NOT close the window on her head!”) and set off. A fraught hour’s book-borrowing later (after being told off by various library staff for “allowing” my children to free-wheel down the very steep ramp on their scooters; ha! As if I had any say in it whatsoever) we were FINALLY on the way home. Then the Boy stopped to look at a quite cool, albeit possibly homeless, man, lounging outside the building.
“Do you want to die?” the Boy asked, curiously.
“Dying. Is it what you want?”
“Well why are you smoking then?”
“Ummm...” (puts his cigarette-holding hand behind his back)
“I can still see it. Don’t you know it makes your lungs full of black coal?”
“I do know that, yes.”
And he stood and stared at him until the man put his cigarette out.
On Thursday I had decided that it was high time I got the Baby out of the house occasionally. I don’t know what I was thinking. Anyway, I made a plan to meet a friend at a park about 5,000 London miles away, packed us into the car, and away we crawled. Forty-five minutes and 4 miles later (yes, driving in London is that shit), I was trying to parallel park, while the Baby’s contented gurgles turned ominously to ever-increasing wails behind me. I glanced back at her and saw THE LOOK; the look that babies give you - a cross between a panicked plea and a resigned warning – nanoseconds before they BARF ALL OVER THE PLACE. There was so much sick. She covered her baby-grow, the car-seat, and Mr Monkey. I called my friend and, sobbing, stuttered something about never leaving the house again.
But I did. I left with the Girl, just yesterday in fact. She’s wheezey again, so we nipped to the doctor, then to the pharmacy. The pharmacy is one of those oldey-fashioned ones, jam-packed with nonsensical items at toddler-grabbing-level, like soap-on-a-rope, and plastic beads, and disgustingly-smelly-yet-strangely-expensive perfumed candles. “Put that down!” I must have hissed 17 times. She ignored me, as she always does (I was just glad she wasn’t stamping her foot, jutted-out-hands on her hips, try-and-fucking-make-me look in her eyes). As I was collecting her wheeze-u-like inhaler, I heard the unmistakable sound of breaking glass, followed by the unmistakable sharp intake of toddler breath.
Anyone need a Lemon, Ginger & Nutmeg scented candle, complete with shards of glass? It too can be yours for ELEVEN. POUNDS.
And that is why I never leave the house. Because inevitably, I am shamed, puked on, and drained of financial resources on cack.
So you’d think that with all this home-staying I’d have been cooking up something of a storm for the past few
weeks. Sadly, no. I have however,
resurrected a gem of a recipe from my early London days, which feels
appropriate to indulge in again – closing the London circle, or something. Also it’s ridiculously easy and quick, and quite
delicious. AND I have a photo!
You don’t need to be a genius to work out what it is. If however you’ve been spending too much time indoors with small children, and your brain isn’t working quite as it should be, it is simply:
Pasta with Smoked Salmon and Peas (Also crème fraiche and lemon)
You need: (for two gluttons)
- Pasta (Penne, or other solid-ish pieces, about 250g)
- Smoked Salmon (a pack of smoked salmon pieces is fine, about 150g; otherwise a similar amount of sliced smoked salmon, cut into pieces )
- Peas (a generous handful of frozen)
- Creme Fraiche (about 300ml)
- Lemon (juice of ½, and one teaspoon of zest)
- Black pepper (as much or little as you like)
Put the pasta in boiling water, and simmer. Add the frozen peas after about 10 minutes, bring back to the boil, and drain once both peas and pasta are done (which should happen more or less at the same time for pasta which takes about 12-14 minutes to cook).
Drain, return to pan, put over a medium heat.
Add the crème fraiche, salmon pieces, lemon zest and juice, and stir, while it heats through. When the salmon starts to turn opaque and the cream sauce starts to bubble it’s ready.
Season with black pepper, if you like that sort of thing; also a tablespoon of chopped mint or dill stirred through is great.
Eat in a dark room, with closed curtains and doors locked, while raising a toast to supermarket deliveries and reminding yourself that NO GOOD ever came of going outside.