20 March, 2006


Our weekend was blissfully uneventful. We had booked a new babysitter for Friday evening and my Lifestyle Consultant had got reservations for us at the Savoy Grill. However. During the course of Friday I did get my boiler fixed (the lame porter Iain even brought me flowers to apologize for my trauma) but not before I had a complete nervous breakdown. Get this: John called me when he got to the office to see if the repair guys had come yet, and of course they had not, and I just absolutely lost it. Honestly I was near to tears, what with being cold and dirty, and for some reason my mobile phone wouldn't charge and a DVD was stuck in the player so I couldn't even lose myself in some fictional world. Well, I hung up tearfully and went off to make beds, feeling sorry for myself. Sometime later I heard the front door slam. Scary! Who knows who has a key to my flat. I came upstairs stealthily, lurking around corners on tiptoe, when I saw John! "You did not sound like you wanted to spend the day alone," the dear man said. "That's what partners are for." Well!

I realized I did not have the heart to go out for a killer dinner; what a waste to pay a babysitter and swallow a solid-gold dinner when I was just too tired. So we canceled everything, and I went to fetch Avery at her playdate with Jade. They looked angelic in their matching uniforms and Nina, the Russian nanny, reported that they had done their homework and had dinner. This is a very typical setup, I have found, in the better families of London. The children are fed by the nanny at 5 o'clock or some such hour, and the parents come home and have their own dinner separately, the children being tucked up in bed with a nice sedative or whatever so as not to cause any stress in the household. As we walked home from Marylebone in the frosty twilight, I said contentedly, "Well, it looks like you had a nice time." Silence. "Didn't you?" "Well, Mummy, I just don't think I'm sophisticated enough to play with Jade. She seems like a, sort of a teenager and I'm just a little nine year old."

I said, "I think you're sophisticated in your own way, but what about Jade seemed so old?" Avery hesitated. "She... she... talked about... IT." "It?" "You know, THAT subject. She had Barbie and Ken doing some things that I know are definitely not appropriate for my age." Oh dear! I diagnosed some older stepsisters somewhere in the background. "Well, let's have Jade to play at our house sometime, just as a return favor, and we'll see what she gets up to when there aren't any Barbies." Although the prospect of their playing with Avery's many horse models does not inspire confidence, as far as husbandry (animal or otherwise) goes.

We got home to the most luscious pork spareribs in the world. I had gone all out and shopped at Selfridge's Food Hall, a truly divine experience, and had bought a huge rack of Gloucester Old Pot (sometimes called Old Spot, I don't know which is truly correct) ribs, a superior, beyond organic type of pork that the butcher assured me was of even higher quality than free range.

I marinated them in a mixture of random things pulled from the pantry shelf: molasses, honey, Lyle's golden syrup, soy sauce, Japanese mirin (a sort of rice wine), and the leftovers of last night's mustardy salad dressing. I mixed this all up in a bowl and poured it over the ribs, and then they slow-roasted in a low oven, perhaps 300 degrees, for nearly three hours, being turned twice and swirled around on the marinade in the dish. Don't forget to line your baking dish with foil, and then you just ball it up and throw it away when you're finished, and the dish is clean underneath (a must with these sticky marinades and long cooking times). With these ribs we had sinfully rich mashed potatoes (nothing beats a combination of creme fraiche and single English cream) and steamed artichokes. Have I ever in my life steamed artichokes without letting them boil dry and burning the hell out of the bottom of the pan? I don't think so. It never seems to hurt them but it makes cleanup really annoying. But a delicious comfort dinner on a cold night, and it basically cooked itself.

Saturday I was given a Day of Luxury! I slept late and was greeted with a plate of very perfect scrambled eggs with sour cream, the eggs having been a total indulgence from my food frenzy at Selfridge's. "Mabel Pearman's Burford Browns" they were, the brownest shells, embossed with some very Englishy rearing griffin, the yolks as yellow as the sun, all served up with toast soldiers and a cup of tea. Plus something to drink called Oranapplgina which was Avery's own invention. It all came with a very impressive menu in a fancy font, which I have saved in my underwear drawer, under my "smalls," as the English say. After breakfast we did nothing. Or rather I did laundry. Just before dinner-preparation time the phone rang and it was Anna, asking Avery to come spend the night! So I got her through a lightning-fast shower and we sped to Harley House where I dumped her, protesting to Becky that she had enough on her plate without a sleepover date, but she was on her way out to see "The Producers" with her houseguests. A whirlwind of gaiety.

Yesterday we saw "The Pink Panther" and it was truly ridiculous, but we found ourselves laughing anyway. Steve Martin is just funny no matter what he does, and Emily Mortimer was adorable as his little French secretary. A long walk home via John Lewis department store where we bought very dull things like a food processor and a coat rack and a spray bottle for long-suffering Dorrie's ironing duties.

I'm going to spend the day honing my new skill: adding hot links to this blog! As you may have noticed in this post, you can now click on various words (just the colored ones, sorry) and be sent to exciting websites where you can virtually visit our after-school snack haunts, read the menu of favorite restaurants, see the hotel where Avery and I will spend our Scottish Highland spring break (that will have to wait till I know where we're staying!), even order bookshelves just like mine! Be sure to comment on the blog post, or email me, if you want me to add a link. This is getting serious, this blog stuff.