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Christmas Diary, Part II

30 December, 2008

Christmas Day went surprisingly smoothly, all things considered. The boys didn’t wake too early and sonofsoulcompost, when he did come downstairs, respected the injunction about not opening stuff right away. He took the prospect of having to defer wanton ripping of wrapping very well, barely any protest – I didn’t ask any questions.

The turkey turned out fine despite being given the minimum of attention this year. When it comes to the big bird I tend to follow Delia myself, but my brother, who dropped by mid-morning, has decided to push the boat out this year and told me that he had spent half the night preparing his according to the latest Nigella.

“You were up till when?”

“Well, gone midnight. After I had prepared it it had to soaked in brine.”

“Brine?”

“Yes. Nigella guarantees it to keep the thing more moist than anything else so I’m giving it a go this year.”

I am not convinced about the brine idea. I recall something from school about osmosis, whereby fluid will cross a semi-permeable membrane when solutions of differing concentration lie either side. In short, water (and hence, I reason, all that beloved moisture) will bid adieu to the bird and end up in the bucket.

Maybe I am wrong. She can’t have made it up, surely. But then perhaps celebrity chefs have to vie with one another to do something distinctive, offbeat or a bit strange, to leave a unique mark on the commonplace turkey. I try to picture Nigella in her beautiful, festive kitchen with her perfectly manicured hand up a turkey’s back end. But then I think she is probably having goose, much more classy I have always thought.

You know, I am not sure the brine made any difference in the end (based on a confidential third party report), but for some with these things the journey can sometimes be more important than the destination.

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Shameless Plug

14 May, 2008

It is now out there and available for purchase!

What is? I sense you thinking.

Why, Issue 5 of One Eye Grey, that penny dreadful for the 21st cntury, of course.

And so at last the tale of the Toll Raven is told and at its dreadful truth revealed. Go and buy it now, if you dare. No, better than that, buy lots and encourage your friends, family, pets, passing acquaintances, the man who reads your meter, the owner of the disembodied voice who whispers to you at night to forget the diet and eat chocolate instead to do likewise. And if you dare not, try buying it anyway but, instead of reading it yourself, perhaps pass it unnoticed to someone else and see if giant, hairy demon comes to crush them under its hideous, clawed foot.

Play your part in making OEG the cult success it deserves to be. And help make me famous in the process.

Soulcompost, over and out.

Party On, It-Dad

28 April, 2008

I was listening to John Humphreys the other day. Not on his usual Today slot where he pursues the unrighteous, the unworthy and the downright duplicitous with his journalistic sword of truth, but on his more empathic, sympathetic and, dare I say, touchy-feely Tuesday morning odd-slot filler before Woman’s Hour, On the Ropes.

Each week John interviews some poor unfortunate who has, at great personal cost, taken a stand against injustice or else suffered some terrible fall from grace. Some of the stories have been truly tragic, a few have had redemptive endings even though scars remain (I’m thinking here of his interview with the remarkable abuse-survivor whose name, I’m sorry to say, I’ve since forgotten), and one or two, like this week’s with lone mother Birgit Cunningham, are just poignantly sad.

Birgit, I learn, lives in a small shabby council flat up Ladbroke Grove with her young son. She’s close to broke, ekes out a living by working for a London publisher and, most nights, is just too tired from the demands of work and family and making ends meet to stay up past nine o’clock.

But – and this is why she’s sat in front of John – Birgit is no ordinary single parent. She once had a reputation for being one of the hottest items on the London and LA social scenes. An original It-Girl, her life a seemingly endless string of parties fuelled by daddy’s cash, cocaine and dieting. She is remarkably upbeat about it all, though; doesn’t regret a moment of it, not even a romance she had with Kevin Costner.

“So, how many parties would that have been each night?” asks John.

“Well,” replies the sanguine Birket, “four or five usually,” or words to that effect.

Sitting in the morning traffic, I try to imagine it. Before I had kids I didn’t go to that many parties a year; no, in two years. It’s different now, though. Children really subvert your social life. This past fortnight it’s been everyone in our NCT group’s third birthday. The parties are coming thick and fast. I can barely keep up with the social round. I’m exhausted merely at the thought. No doubt I’ll be plagued by nightmares of Kevin Costner in a clown suit as I crawl into bed at 9pm each night, high on apple juice and sugary icing.