Saturday, February 27

The Last Straw

Bracing myself for an afternoon at the Crazy White House I decided to go and see some Art; first to an exhibition of William Eggleston's photos, which inspired me to go mad iphotographing with my iphone. Spotting an Indian sweet shop I went in for some Egglestonesque pics, the owners were charming and talked to me about sweet-making. When I moved in for some close up shots I noticed that there was a jet black human hair embedded in one of the knobbley orange balls I'd been planning to buy.

I erased the hair image from my head with a visit to the Wellcome Collection which has some brilliantly weird stuff - and a great café.

Arrived at CWH feeling mellow and happy. Then the children came home and it was all shattered. Having recently been in a household with normal, happy, only slightly fighty, children, the awfulness of the CWH children is like having the world turned up to horror-movie screaming pitch. I’ve been wearing earplugs but still I hear them ordering the staff around and see them helping themselves to fistfuls of crap from the easily accessible sweetie drawer*.

When they do get brought to table for supper they are plugged into one of their many electronic games and the nannies bring other toys to distract them from the fact that they are eating. Two adults spoonfeed the children, I ask the five-year old why he won’t feed himself
I don’t want to look at the food

This is the nightly ritual, the adults plead and wheedle but the children rarely eat much. They get down from the table and are given more chocolate, the boy starts taunting the dog, his mother says

Don’t do that he doesn’t like it

No stop it look he’s trying to get away from you

This goes on for quite a long time, eventually the dog yelps and the child starts crying - I am so angry that I snap and tell him

And if I see you do that again I will bite off all your fingers

CWH Lady looks a bit shocked and I realise that I am questioning my previously held belief that Murder is Wrong so I say that I am sick and I really won’t be able to come in any more

*why do parents do this? It might be 'Natural’ and 'Organic’ but it’s still fat and sugar.

Wednesday, February 24

French Exchange

While I was living in France I wrote several posts about my neighbours who lived in the big house down the road, Mme B wears long stick-on nails, tattooed maquillage and six-inch heels, her husband has a military haircut and cashmere coats. Mme B is a mighty force to be reckoned with and quickly became my staunch ally, getting out her typewriter and bashing out firey letters of application, resignation and complaint on the frequent occasions that I needed them.

Her young and feckless son Jules, has arrived in London, his English is minimal and he needs help with job applications, I suggested we meet last Monday and sent him the time and address of a meeting place. He was very late and explained how he navigates the city using just the tube map, getting to a station that he thinks might be about right, then wandering around until he stumbles upon the place he wants to be. He’s been doing this for three weeks now. I told him to get a proper map and improve his English trés vite.

I sent Jules a rewritten version of his cv and he asked if we could meet again so that he could practise speaking English, we made a rendezvous for the hour before I started work today*

Blow me down if he didn’t do exactly the same thing again - arrived late because he’s using the bloody tube map, I was striding away up the street, swinging my shopping basket furiously, he saw me and ran after me, trying to keep up and apologise at the same time. I took the opportunity to practise my French rebuking vocabulary, English people rebuking in French (or at least me doing it) just makes French people laugh, he didn’t seem nearly chastised enough for my liking.

* I’m back at the CWH – DON’T give me a hard time, it’s just for a week and I need the money - it isn't improving my mood.

Sunday, February 21

Dances With Whales

Last week's cooking job came with in-house entertainment, it was half term, no electronic games in the house and the television was curiously only able to receive a signal for a couple of hours each day, so the children had to work out what to do for themselves, after a bit of bored flopping around someone has an idea

Let’s put on a show!

they disappear excitedly to start rehearsals, only to return after an hour, the project has been abandoned due to artistic differences.

The two girls then decide that they will do 'Dancing On Ice’

One child strips down to her underwear and the other ran off to get her swimsuit and goggles on, they explain;
in Dancing on Ice you have to have bare arms and bare legs

They wafted around the kitchen, describing their sequinned outfits, one child dancing with a stuffed whale while the other, embracing a column of air, told me about her handsome partner

He has long brown hair and a blue hair band

then she stopped dancing and asked her friend

Do we have to be in love with our partner?

The girl with the whale continued dancing and replied dreamily

I’m in love with mine

Wednesday, February 17

The Week In Review

Last Thursday
Email from Chanel Lady telling me that I was not chosen to cook for them this summer – Hoorah!

Email from Desperate Lady needing an emergency cook next week - Hoorah!

Decree Absolute at The Crazy White House

CWH Lady and I had a brief and unsuitable relationship, like one of those Britney Goes To Las Vegas ones. Once I’d announced that 'we could no longer go on with this madness', the last weeks of our affair became a peculiar tentative marriage of convenience, I needed her money and she couldn’t imagine surviving without a cook. I tried to be honest and constructive about why we were not meant to be but ended up saying a lot of ‘It’s not you it’s me’ kind of things like:
The British are so innately slovenly, I could never achieve your high South African standards*

there were so many things that I couldn’t even begin to say to her.

Smell is so important, yet I repeatedly fail to acknowledge this: Household odours are very distinctive; a mix of foodstuffs, heating source and cleaning products combined with children, laundry (often dirty) and pets; this household’s particular mixture set me on edge the minute I walked over the threshold.

My husband comes to London and submits to weekend of eating, visiting curio shops and art galleries, concedes that cinemas seem more comfortable here and that it’s fun to look at art and other people and sundry weird stuff, says he will think about making second visit later in year.

Baby Sister and I meet up, I am initially drunk merely with freedom from CWH Lady, but then we go to Italian restaurant and try the Prosecco...

In the evening I make another attempt to appreciate Chekov, Three Sisters at the Lyric, Hammersmith. Am I the only person who finds this man an utter bore? The reviews called the production Lively, Modern and Bold, I saw irritating people moaning around a table and left at the interval.

Visit my cousin, we go for beans on toast at nearby café, he is blind and I suddenly become acutely aware of roadworks, wonky pavements full of deep puddles, stupidly placed bollards and dog shit.

Turn up equipped with supper for Desperate Lady (new client), she just wants nice food on the table. Her house has an Aga and a woodstove and smells of rice pudding, it makes me ache with pleasure.

I made an Easy Chocolate Mousse
Bring 300ml double cream to boil, take away from heat and add 200 grms of broken-up dark chocolate (70% cocoa), beat together until all chocolate melted.

Transfer mix to a bowl set over another bowl of iced water and add a further 300ml of double cream, whip up into soft peaks

at this point, personally I would stop and eat this now, but if you want to make a mousse out of it beat up 2 large egg whites in a separate bowl until you have stiff peaks, pour in 100 gm sugar gradually, beating all the while until you have soft meringue, fold this into the chocolate mix and eat as soon as you need to.

* that is quite true, I routinely have to clear a festering beast or toxic substance, such as lead shot, off the work surface before I can roll out my pastry, it is very easy to leave an upper class British kitchen in better condition than I found it.

Thursday, February 11

Cut Myself Shaving

On Thursday mornings I go over to my local day centre for elderly Asians where there is a yoga class in the lounge before the serious telly-watching gets under way, we do lots of corpse posing and we're supposed to be breathing but I keep getting distracted by the smell of chapati-making in the adjacent kitchen.

It must do some good because I always come away feeling very chirpy and want to tap away on my laptop, trouble is, in an attempt to smarten up before yesterday's interview I shaved the bobbley bits off my coat and nicked my fingers with the razor

taptap ouch taptap ouch

Has everyone already seen this? - love Bill Nighy, bloody Blogger has sliced the edge off though!

Join the campaign

Wednesday, February 10

Swimsuits In The Kitchen...

My days with Crazy White House Lady are nearly done and I have been looking for alternative employment. Agencies are sending me to meet potential clients, today I went to see an archetypal Chelsea couple who want a chef for their summer residence;

I had a very early appointment, Madam showed me in to their apartment, her Chanel suit made me think of the way I decorated birthday cakes as a child, her make-up and coiffure are solid enough to last a month if necessary, eyelashes mascara'd like black gerbera daisies, hair appears to be a safety feature.

She talks in the loud confident tones commonly heard in Harrods and at the better ski resorts. Her husband, grinning at her side, interjected occasionally;

People will come through the kitchen in their swimsuits you know

I will want to come in picking at the food – you have to slap my fingers

But mostly we are silent while she talks at length and I get lost in the details of the room and things like her fingers and earlobes which are encrusted with round knobs of jewellery, I suddenly heard her saying

...I move the table around a lot, sometimes it’s at one side of the room, sometimes the other and I often have it put out on the patio, there’s lots of tableware ...and flowers I love doing all the design...’

When it was over I walked up the road for breakfast at the Victoria and Albert Museum and ended up staying in the building until it was time for my date with CWH Lady.

Later I checked the small ads
This was one I thought I might go for


we are looking for a lady who can cook indian food for 1 time + body massage.
can be around 21-26
urgent require,
pay=£250 for cooking + £50 for transport between zone 5-6 + 150 Body massage.

Tuesday, February 9

Top Tip: Peel The Base Off A Saucepan In Just Several Hours

Put a pot of beans on then go to sleep. This has the special bonus of making the house smell funny.

Sunday, February 7

Pot Heads

The Australians reckoned that having come as far as England they might as well 'do Europe' while they were at it, they have disappeared, leaving me alone in the Pop Flat with Felicity. It feels like we're doing a middle-aged remake of an 80s comedy series.

Felicity gets back every evening from a job that she loathes, she deals with the horror by smoking her way through a large amount of marijuana, then she gets really hungry and prepares a late feast – usually something involving lots of vegetables and rice. The only pot big enough to hold the quantity of food she thinks she'll want to eat has part of it’s side broken off along with one of the handles. There's a lid from a different pot that sits on top of the one-eared pot and I've got rather fond of the sight of this odd pairing.

So imagine my sadness the other day when I saw that the mismatching lid, had broken in half – but it's ok - I’ve mended it, we only had string and sellotape in the house, I think the string will work best.

Thursday, February 4

News From The Pop Flat

From Monday to Friday, I live at the top of a house in London. When I moved in at the beginning of last month, the lower floor was occupied by Half a Pop Group and their recording studio, they also have a Child who slept in the room next to mine - I’d just got used to the Child sidling into the room where I happened to be and giving me a good staring. Then, ten days ago, Half a Pop Group took the Child, left London and some Australian musicians turned up to replace them and use the house and recording studio.

I’ve heard the piano playing and caught fragments of song, but now they’re moving closer. Today I heard high-pitched, wailey singing in my kitchen and knocking sounds, a bit like DIY, I wondered if a partition was going up.

I gave up trying to find a use for Facebook and went to investigate. A tall man with spiky hair was puffing away on a big joint, his trousers were really tight and short and very low slung, he must’ve bought them when he was twelve, I wonder if he loved them so much when he got them that he has worn them constantly and now he's grown and can’t get them off. he looked up and beamed when he saw me:

Hello Darling

Hi, you got everything you need?

Yeah Rockin’

What you up to?

I'm putting some drum tracks down

I can now see that the knocking noise is coming from a digital drumming device connected to his laptop, a girl’s singing drifts up the stairs.

They're busy - I’ve got to get out the way so I came up here

OK, d’you want some tea?

Yeah Rockin

Wednesday, February 3

New Eatery - Opening Soon!

Over the weekend I took a tour of the neighbourhood with my man and we noticed that a restaurant we used to frequent had been renamed, there was a board out the front with the words BRING YOUR OWN written on it.

We looked at each other

Bring your own ...???

Bring your own ... money?

Bring your own husband?

then we got it at the same time
Bring your own dinner!

If it turns out not to be that kind of restaurant we have decided that we will jump into this obvious gap in the market - a restaurant for all those people who know what they like.

We're going to make it 'All You Can Eat' and 'Self Service' and for people who like buffets we'll have trestles for them to put their stuff on.

We'll provide the drink.
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