Tuesday, 23 February 2010

I'll get my coat..

My life at times goes from the sublime to the ridiculous. From the highbrow to the mundane within the course of a conversation. Last week I was at a dinner flanked by a Lord on one side and an MP on the other. I make coffees for a living so, trying to sound worldly wise and grave and grown up was something of a real challenge. I deal with the day to day minutiae of life and rarely have to give a formed opinion on anything other than whether a daughter’s hairstyle looks lush in a certain style or whether or not the jeans/top combination is ‘immense’. My son who is studying government and politics ‘A’ level, just by-passes any opinions I might have and talks directly to his father. As I generally only have time at the weekend to read the News Review pull-out section of the paper and perhaps the odd movie critic, then I really am out of practise regarding scholarly discussion on pressing party politics. To be honest, if I had all the time in the world I very much doubt I would venture far beyond the news review, unless the Style magazine was still hanging around and hadn’t been purloined by a 14 year old daughter.
To say that I was a little nervous in making sparkling conversation with these two men then would be something of an understatement. Hubby was far away at the other end of the table, not that he’d be any use anyhow. He has long since given up any hope that I might actually know anything about the cabinet, especially given the fact that when he last asked I replied, “What cabinet? The one with the books in or the one with the albums?”
“Jeeze Alice just tell me you at least know that Gordon Brown is the Prime Minister?”
I did know this. Of course. But what happened to be in my favour that night was the fact that I had Samuel Pepys on my side. I am slowly becoming an expert on my fellow diarist and could, I’m sure, use him for my individual round on Mastermind; the fact I’d crash and burn on the general knowledge side though puts me off applying. So I was able to say to the minister on my right with much confidence, that “Pepys writes in his diary that, apart from the great fire, in 1666 Naval Officers got into terrible trouble for not disclosing the ‘prizes’ they took from caught enemy ships but kept the goodies for themselves. A sort of 17th century expenses scam? Fancy? It was going on even then?” After that, the minister seemed as nervous as I’d been and suddenly didn’t feel inclined to talk politics at all, in fact he was more than happy, like most of us, to talk about the kids and the general anxiety that their insouciance creates. The Lord to my left was equally far too uncomfortable to join the conversation on random drug testing in the armed forces as he had, by his own admission, been a bit of a 60’s hippy. He was joking but that brought us nicely around to the subject of rock music, a subject I know quite a bit about due to my son’s loud and regular playing of it. The evening passed far more pleasantly than I could ever have hoped for.
The weekend that followed passed, as is customary for a February half term in this house, with a virulent tummy bug. The Red-Head was the first felled. All night she vomited and vomited. Our Monday morning excursion to an old friend in Wiltshire had to be postponed whilst I disinfected every surface. To no avail because on Tuesday morning, whilst the Red-Head had recovered her verve, Hubby lay green in his sick bed. We left him there and drove to Wiltshire regardless.
Sarah and I have been friends since we were two years old. Her husband was once a city banker earning millions. He was remote and absent a lot of the time. No doubt that happens when making millions. These aren’t the type of men who cuddle up with you on the sofa of an evening with a bag of Doritos and a jar of salsa, happy to watch American Idol, as I pointed out to Hubby. Luckily for Sarah’s husband and consequently Sarah and her family, he packed it all in just before the financial crisis. Now they live the ‘good life’ in an old farmhouse, surrounded by the rolling fields of Wiltshire, where they keep pedigree sheep.
I thought I was clever turning up with a tin of scones and a large pot of Rodda’s finest clotted. That was until I shooed the chickens away from her path and walked into her fabulous, warm, under-floor heated kitchen and saw, like some carbohydrate Bonsai, freshly made pasta dangling from a wooden stand. The pasta wasn’t the only domestic wonder. There was fresh bread in the oven, home-made jam for the children to spread on it and if you can suspend disbelief, home cured Breasola for the adults. Before we went to bed, her husband took the cling film off what I thought was forgotten pancake batter, but which turned out to be in fact, home-made yeast. Home-made yeast? For God’s sake. He added it to some flour in a bread machine and the next morning voila, artisan bread. We enjoyed it as much as we could before my 8 year old proceeded to puke and reluctantly, I repacked the car, waved my farewell to Tom and Barbara and drove the long journey home again, pink plastic bucket under my daughter’s chin all the way.
As I drove under a dark sky, a metaphoric dark cloud gathered. I considered the people I’d recently met, those far greater intellectually and others more domestically adroit. If they are sublime, then really, I am quite ridiculous.


blunoz said...

Oh no! So sorry to hear about the stomach bug making its rounds. My oldest son had it a week ago Thursday, and then my wife and I both came down with it on Saturday. It made for a miserable weekend.

I can relate on not being able to talk politics. Actually, I also don't really follow any sports teams either, and I find that's more of an impediment to me when sitting with a group of guys on the ship.

DL said...

Never underestimate yourself, AB! I've no doubt that what you consider to be fairly modest talents will leave others awestruck.

Best wishes,

jinksy said...

I'm so enjoying your posts, I can see me working my way backwards through them in search of your beginning- please tell me, you've not been blogging since the eighteen hundreds...