Wednesday, December 2

A Tale of Two Dining Tables

I returned to Bristol earlier than planned last week, just in time to see a bed being removed from the top bedroom which is becoming a second editing suite, the first editing suite was whirring with the business of getting footage prepared for the new editor.

At the bottom of the house a Camera Boy has been busy operating knurling machines and drills, metal shavings crunch underfoot in the the kitchen and the dining table has many tools on it. Carpets and furniture are glittery with the shine of metallic dust - Christmas simply isn't Christmas without it.

In the middle section of the house, The Director was surrounded by women and cake and was getting flummoxed, he’s spent the last several weeks in cars with boys and cameras and has forgotten how women carry on; Zena was in doing lion research, Mrs Moneypenny was getting the government-related paperwork in order and Miss Whiplash was unveiling her current collection of winter clothing. Last year it was floor-sweeping, furry filmstar cloaks, this season she’s channelling her inner intrepid-reporter via cream flak jackets and fur-lined underwear.

On Monday The Director flew to America to talk to people in the offices of National Discovery and I went back to The Smoke...

Last night I was engaged to give a cookery class at a private house in Hampstead, the idea being that I prepare tapas for the hostess and her guests while talking about what I’m doing, they join in with the making if they want, then everyone gets to eat the food - somewhere along the line the original intention was lost.

I arrived and was shown by a maid to the vast kitchen/dining room fitted with a big shiny cooker, double-sized double sinks and impressive granite work tops completely obscured by gadgets; 2 juicers, a breadmaker, a microwave, remote control units, toys, little bottles of condiments, jams, medicines and a footspa, there is not a handspace of work surface visible.

The kitchen is dominated by a massive table, covered with a cloth and decorated all along a wide central section with 6 big vases of flowers, dry fruits stuck on tall stalks, swirls of feathers, glittery pine cones and trails of beads and sequins leaving not quite enough margin around the edge of the table for the 14 place settings already laid out - there’s nowhere to put any food.

My breathless client had forgotten about it being a cookery demonstration. She talked very fast about all the dogs and children that needing taking to vets and flute lessons...

Are you ok to just carry on? Juanita can show you where everything is and help you peel things. I’ve got no idea how many people I’ve invited but they’ll be here in a couple of hours, I should be here just before and we’ll have a little champagne – will the food be done by then?


  1. ((*gasp))

    You must have Zen coming out the wazoo to hold it together. Don't these people know who you are?

    I have little doubt that you whipped it all together with aplomb despite the obstacles.

    Still, all the commotion must be quite exciting...ideas are taking on visible forms and things are would be hard not to get caught up in the hoopla.

    The Karmic Boomerang will return to bless you for taking care of "those" artsy folk who are notorious for being unable to tend to themselves.

  2. I have two approaches to cooking: drink all the champagne beforehand or ... er that's it, just one approach then. Which do you endorse?

  3. The rich are different than you and me...they are snotbags with no inkling of just how lucky they are.

    Or this other quote comes to mind: "To know what God thinks of money you have only to look at who he gave it to."

    What a witch. Would have been tempted to walk out with some crystal or silverware.

    Larcenous, bitter Moo!

  4. I'd like to come to your restaurant when the time is right. Considering your wonderful imagination and creativity the dishes should be gems.

  5. Kitchen nightmare with the flaky hostess!

    I would rather have been with the metal shavings and Miss Whiplash!

  6. she has a footspa in the kitchen?

  7. Good grief. If they have somebody called Juanita already installed, aren't they sick by now of tapas? Yes, the footspar in the witchen worried me too.

  8. Donn - Hmmm I like the idea of having zen coming out of my wazoo. The karmic forces may feel that I could have spent my energies on more deserving causes.

    Inky - drinking all the Champagne is an excellent way to get out of any situation. It certainly means that you don't get asked again and that can be a Good Thing.

    Mrs Cow - although I might agree from where I'm standing right now, we do have to remember that it's the dreadful ones that make the best copy.

    Thank you Mr Write - I will invite you to the opening party.

    xl - I will be very glad indeed to return to the bosom of Whiplash.

    Nursey - there is no end to the stangeness of other people's kitchens.

    Gadj - It is of constant wonder to me that I work for people who employ women like Juanita without appreciating their considerable culinary talents. I spent several months in Italy employed as a cook by posh Italians all the while being coached in Italian cooking by their native staff.

  9. What a busy household you live in! New lodgers, cake and metal shavings... it's no wonder you're spending time away these days. Your blog is truly great reading!
    Btw, what did you prepare for her?

  10. I know you have a way with an axe and a gun. Given your profession and some of your clientele I wonder if knife throwing and poisoning are also a part of your repertoire.

  11. *slips in Zen from Miss Lulu's wazoo and requires footspa*

  12. I could anyone get flummoxed in the company of women and cake?!

    I would also like more details about the fur-lined underwear. It's cold here - gotta get me some of those!

  13. I feel quite strongly that feathers and glitter belong on showgirls, and not dinner tables.

  14. Speechless! Apart from being with Glory that is. I can only imagine going from ONE glittery dining table to another... You need some great costumes for this sort of occasion. Next time - grab the fur lined underwear just before you walk out with the champagne... Then serve the tapas and thank Juanita profusely after everyone has complimented your culinary delights. Make sure you turn smartly on your heel and step out proudly so no one sees the silver cutlery shoved down fur lined undies...

  15. Christ. People have no idea what is involved in pulling off a culinary masterpiece. I'm with the silverware down the undies trick, you can sell it on ebay and you'll never have to work for them again. P.S. Feel free to steal my macaron business. I'm too darn busy making cushions at the moment anyway.
    Joey.L (posting on Ricardo's side of the computer). xxxx

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  17. Ana - caught between the busy household and the mad rich ladies - what a choice!
    The menu included a pumpkin soup with chili and cinnamon then lots of small dishes.

    Mrs Eyeball - I do indeed have a deadly knowledge with poison, did I mention my other job as a Hit Woman?

    MJ - sorry about that, I should get the houseboy to follow with a mop more closely - I am a veritable snail when the zen flows.

    Kat - I will ask Whiplash who makes the fur-lined underwear you will have to ask for help with all the lacings

    Glory - feathers and glitter belong anywhere but dinner tables.

    Ange - silver cutlery shoved down fur lined undies... Ouch!

    Joeyjorickyroyale - no one could make macarons like you, so it's unsteablable, but I might just come over and steal macarons when you're next baking

  18. Mmmm. I get this all the time: I need this job right away, I've practically done it for you already, it's in Microsoft Word, I need it right away, all you have to do is print it. And me sitting there with a sandwich in my mouth.

    Everyone knows better all the time, until they need help, except they still know better, and they give you none of the room to do your fucking job (or live your fucking life).

    I can swear here, right?

    Best of luck with the transition.

  19. I got all homesick then when I saw the Hampstead word crop up, tis my old stamping ground. What avenue was it - Bishops? Winnington? or another?

    How do you manage to cope with your house not your own - all those men everywhere and with all those gizmos - I'd be in tear after a week I think

  20. I'd be tempted to bring Miss Whiplash along for the added fun. She could be the silver service waitress. They'd love her.

  21. Hey Mr NEWDAD - you know my life so well.

    Frenchie - you must now that I'm impossibly discreet. I'm not really coping with the house not being my own, that's why I'm in London.

    Mme D - I am begging Whiplash to run away with me and form a cabaret troupe. She says that I need to understand bribery better

  22. An opportunity missed: you could have done a demonstration of how to make pumpkin jam in a foot spa.

  23. Donc ,le lit étant enlevé de la chambre à coucher ,vous vous êtes couché dans un scintillement de paillettes en sous-vêtements de fourrure-rayés sur une table massive, couverte de tissu et décorée ??? :)

    Therefore, the bed being taken away by the bedroom, you lay down in a sparkling of spangles in underwear of fur - scratched on a massive table, covered with cloth and decorated ??? :)

    C'est du Gauguin !!!!

  24. La vache! How do you hold it together? I'd be throwing the canapés at the lady and storm out, grabbing a bottle of Champagne while I slam the door shut. I am looking forward to part 2. Is there a part 2?

  25. Kevin a demonstration of how to make pumpkin jam in a foot spa
    I need you to come along with me to the next one

    Crabbers - Tu l'as exactement cheri!

    Mrs Mum Is there a part 2?
    There usually is - we'll see

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  28. Dear Lulu -

    My, the people you meet and the places you go. How did it work out in the end? I am not sure what a "tapa" is - is there peeling involved? Poor Juanita. Poor you. I hope at least you got paid. A lot.


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