7 February 2004
Whoo - there went the voice. I tried to answer the phone today, and the person at the other end thought I was white noise. Which actually I would quite like to be, as white noise is the last distant echo of the Big Bang, and I think thatís kinda cool; but itís not effective as a conversation mechanism. And with the voice went the ability to swallow solids, so what did I do? I made chicken soup, of course. I am my own Jewish mother.
And after the carcass and the vegetables and the herbs had been simmering for a couple of hours, ooh so slowly, I spooned off a couple of ladlesful and added a little cream for emollience and it was scrumptious. But draining a big pan through a colander in my kitchen is always a palaver, and I was feeling a little dizzy when I moved around, so I thought Iíd let the liquid sit on the bones while it cooled, get the last of the goodness out and Iíd strain it later. Always put off what you can, itís a golden rule. And I came back upstairs to bed, thinking how nice the house smelled, all chicken-soupy.
And I got up a couple of hours later and thought again how good it was to have the house so savoury-smelling; and I pottered about and fussed over Mishaís claws till she could bear it no longer (having had an ingrowing toenail, she now seems to have lost a toenail entirely, and it might be the same one, and what does this mean...?) and read a book and listened to the radio and went to have a bath.
And came out of the bathroom an hour or so later, into a house that smelled very redolent of chicken soup - and this suddenly didnít seem so nice, but rather a warning of disaster impending. So I hastened down the stairs, and caught that first delicate whiff of burning bones; and plunged into the kitchen to discover that (yes, indeed, youíre way ahead of me) I had left the slightest of flames burning below the soup-pot all this time, and all the soup was gone and there was just solid matter and encrustation left.
So I raided my larder for my WMD of choice [speaking of which, I should like to say just this once and get it on record that (a) this is not an acronym, itís an abbreviation; and (b) if it must have a distinctive plural then that plural is, beyond all question, WsMD. I am hearing WMDs with increading frequency, and it distresses me], and now the whole house smells of vinegar. Which is the only household hint you will ever get out of me: always hold on to old bottles of stale vinegar. Donít cook with them, but they will sometime save your favourite pan. Just slosh half a bottle in when youíve burned something beyond recovery, and leave it overnight. Come the morning, wash it off. Easy.
© Chaz Brenchley 2004
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.