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[Previous entry: "Gore"] [Next entry: "Back yard blues" ]


19 April 2003

Life without Sophie: it's a busy thing. Deliberately so. I am not an idiot.

Thursday was Jean's birthday, Stephen and Candy were coming up from London, I had been inveigled into cooking a dinner for seven. It meant I could spend Wednesday shopping, that evening cooking; I had it planned so that all the intensive work would be done by Thursday morning when Roger came to collect me, so's I could idle all of Thursday and still be entirely ready for the meal, and so enjoy the day. All of which I might have done if I hadn't decided to stretch things one stage further than was reasonable, on the Wednesday night. Main course was to be a cassoulet of sorts, of lamb and garlic and sausage; I'd cooked the meats and the beans separately, all the time-consuming stuff, I'd had a bath, I should have stopped and gone to bed. I am not sleeping, which makes me stupid; I didn't stop, I thought I'd go the extra mile and get the dish assembled. So that needed a head of garlic simmering, while I layered beans and meats. My kitchen is small and cramped, I have no space to put anything, I was feeling flustered already by the lack of room; I was wearing my bathrobe, which has these heavy dangling sleeves; I reached over the garlic-pan for the meat-pan, and the sleeve caught the handle, and the pan tipped over. And in snatching my arm away too late, I somehow managed to catch the bean-pot and knock that off the stove too, so that the kitchen floor was swamped with cooking-liquors and parboiled garlic cloves and catastrophe...

Actually it wasn't quite catastrophic, the only food on the floor was the garlic and I have lots of garlic, I buy it by the pound. But I was deeply anxious about the cassoulet's tasting thin without the addition of the bean-liquor; and it took me half an hour to clean the floor and recover calm enough to go to bed, and of course I didn't sleep, so I was just anxious and fretful all the day. No great harm, in the end: we started with a mussel salad (warm and wet, but not of course to be confused with a Mexican dry soup), enhanced in interest at least by the discovery of razor clams in the fishmonger's that day. Note to self: bizarre, but razor clams cook quicker than mussels. Next time, I'll do them separately. Then a cold salad, confit of duck with red cabbage and watercress; then the cassoulet - which I reinforced with wine, and it did not taste noticeably thin - and then my signature dessert, the chocolate crème brulée with preserved cherries. Which I bruléed with a blowtorch, and poked at uncertainly to see if it was crisping, and so got a magnificent sugar-burn on my finger. Lord, but that hurts...

And then I barely slept that night either, but when I did I dreamed of Sophie, first time since she died. That was fine, she was dead but she came back and we were both of us pleased to see her, Misha and me. Misha is doing much less well in real life; I didn't get home till late on Friday, which I think must be the first time she's ever been alone overnight, and she really wasn't happy. It's taken me twenty-four hours to get her settled; and tonight Harry had a barbecue in North Shields, and I was under some pressure to stay overnight, but I came home and am very glad I did. I like to think I wouldn't pander to the neuroses of my pet, but she is genuinely upset and unsettled and I think I owe it to her to be here...

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© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.