My get-up-and-go has got up and gone. The irritating thing is that I can’t go with it. Lock-down affects us all in different ways. I don’t actually mind staying at home but I do miss the creative kick in the pants that cooking for friends gives me. It’s all too easy to default to beans on toast when there’s only two of you.
There’s nothing wrong with that, I hear you say, and you’d be right. I’m partial to them myself. But I feel obscurely guilty for not bombarding you with 101 Ways To Use Vegetables Fit Only For the Compost Bin or how to turn tinned Russian Salad into a nutritious meal for a family of four. That sounds as though I’m having a pop at other food writers and I’m honestly not, there are scores of very talented people currently offering good advice and delicious recipes.
Like a lot of home cooks (that’s all of us at the moment) I’ve been making the comfort food of my childhood, I’ve been using up my leftovers and apart from my recent online cheese orgy, I’ve been thrifty with ingredients.
But the perky wartime make-do-and-mend trope is beginning to grate. Frankly, I’m bored. I want to eat lobster and foie gras and blinis thick with caviar, preferably all at the same meal and cooked by one of my favourite chefs in one of my favourite restaurants. Sod it, they could even serve me B.O.T. and I’d be happy. Family health issues mean I can’t nip out for a takeaway but what I really miss is the ambience of a busy restaurant and having one too many glasses of wine with friends I can actually hug.
This is a ridiculously middle class moan. I know. I’m slapping myself around the head as I write. I’m not homeless, alone or broke. And if you’re a health worker or care worker or refuse collector or anyone else who is risking your life trying to keep society going against impossible odds, I apologise. I’m not about to run screaming into the street, maskless and gloveless, banging on my neighbours’ doors and shouting “get me a lobster thermidor or I’ll cough on you”. I am cognisant of my duties as a responsible member of society. I’ve got a hand-painted rainbow in my kitchen window, ffs.
Truly, I’m not making light of the sacrifices being made by NHS workers and others. I salute you and I’m immensely grateful to you. I would prefer the lock-down to continue than for the government to lift it prematurely. Lives depend on it, including my family’s. If I’m mocking anyone, it’s myself. But I know a lot of people are finding isolation tough, many for reasons infinitely more serious than mine.
I’d just like you to know you’re not alone. And if you are and the walls are closing in, if the kids aren’t giving you a minute’s peace, if your introspection is turning ugly or you just want to hear a friendly voice, drop me a line or a ‘phone number. I’m not a trained counsellor, although I know several I can put you in touch with if needed, but sometimes a problem shared is a problem halved or at least put into perspective. I’ve been so grateful for the kindness of friends since lock-down began. Small gestures can have a big impact and even a quick ‘phone call can stop you going totally doolally.
I hope I’m making sense because this has all gone a bit stream of consciousness. From baked beans to half-baked. If it wasn’t for the cryptic crossword I’d be communicating in grunts; I swear my IQ is now lower than the outside temperature and my vocabulary is shrinking daily. Never mind. We can swap nice, short, four letter words (I’ve been hearing a lot of those lately from friends similarly immured), exchange recipes and cheer each other up by laughing at stupid things like politicians and what the cat said when confronted by Tesco’s own-brand instead of Whiskas. Well, it works for me. Stay indoors, stay well and stay sane but most of all, stay in touch.