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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lemon Curd.

I like lemon curd now.

I know, I know. Hold the front page, stop the clocks, call off the search.

But it’s true! I do! And I didn’t! I mean, I really didn’t. My mum will attest to at least 14 occasions where I’ve been near lemon curd and balked at the idea, screwed my face up into a ball of disgust and banged on about how putrid the very notion of a curd of lemons is.

And then one morning, just days ago, I woke up and I needed it. I needed the curd. Just like that.

I don’t think I’m pregnant. I’m not sure lemon curd is the kind of thing pregnant people crave anyway. Don’t they just crave lumps of coal? Lemon curd is about as far away from a lump of coal as you can get, in colour and consistency. And taste. Mmm, lemon curd.

(Is the word 'curd' beginning to sound warped to you, too? Good.)

Anyway, no coal for me thanks, I’m on a lemon curd diet. Soon after the wondrous morning of curd-wakening, I was in the jam aisle at Asda looking for something I’d never cared for before. I bought their finest and smothered it on toast.


My craving was satisfied. Then I started to worry. How many other people were there like me who hadn’t been buying lemon curd? Cursed with such a terribly unflattering name, production is probably dying off at the same speed as old people.

It dawned on me there were all kinds of food old people love that I don’t buy. I used to eat Jamaican ginger cake with my Grandma. Is that still in production? I haven’t bought one in years. I can just see the Jamaicans now, barely two pennies to rub together, hoping just one more granny buys their cake before popping off.

Never fear, Jamaicans! You’ve come to my attention! I think I can single-handedly rescue lemon curd and Jamaican ginger cake from production abyss. I can buy it in bulk. I can give it to friends. I can stand next to the jam and send out subliminal messages to young people picking up Marmite.

'Oo! Lemon curd! That's just what I fancy!' I'll say, and they'll suddenly realise Marmite is so last season. Curd is where it's at.

Crumbs. I’ve taken on a big responsibility. I'm like the new Spiderman of Aisle 12, spreads and preserves.

I better go, Asda’s open and those globules of lemony sugar aren’t going to sell themselves.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Baby Blues

With the tent successfully erected as the sun set over the magnificent Gower, waves crashing against a not too distant shore, we cracked open a chilled cider. Footloose and child free.

Players in this weekend being Gareth and myself, my sister Tammi and her fella, Colin. We like hanging around with other childless couples who don’t want children. It means we can spend our time commenting on the things we’re enjoying now but couldn’t if we had dirty little pesky children running around demanding our every second of attention.

Tammi and Colin have pretty much decided child-rearing isn’t for them. This spurred Gareth and I on. Hurray! Other people who’d favour freedom and finance over poo and sick! We were in good company.

We spent the weekend lazily meandering between our campsite, the local pub and an exquisitely beautiful beach, where we downed shots of rum before hitting the sea to bodyboard. We went quad biking, and got up when we bloody well felt like it. All to the chorus of the strained parents and whining children in our campsite arguing over muddy shoes and fizzy drinks.

In the pub, Tammi got stroking a dog and soon the owners were chatting away. They happened to mention to our slightly sozzled crew that the dog was a child substitute – this couple had forgone children for a life on the open road. Naturally, we pounced on them.

‘We don’t want children either!’ I exclaimed. ‘How did it work for you?’

The next few hours were spent listening to their tales. ‘Prepare to lose friends,’ they warned. ‘And people will presume you’re infertile.’

But we were not deterred. This couple were us, just 15 years later. They were in good shape, hadn’t lost their physique to the emotional and physical drains and strains of parenthood. They were cheerful and not, as I’d feared, weird.

‘Did you know that if you have a baby, it renders everything else you could possibly do to reduce your carbon footprint, completely obsolete?’ I said, keen to impress our new friends.

They did mention that we might experience the odd pang of regret once in a while, in the years after the body can no longer provide, but the mind still wonders. But by then, I wasn’t listening. They’d said everything I wanted to hear. Negatives I wasn’t looking for.

Fuelled in confidence that if they could do it, we would to, we left them to their beer and headed inside for an intense game of poker, the mentioning of which serves only for me to gloat of my winning.

The following morning, Colin bought the Observer.

‘The happiness years: Once the kids have grown up and left’ said the well-timed headline.

There followed a report on how couples could expect to be £600 per month better off, endure less arguments, more hobbies and activities, less stress and more happiness. And, what’s more, they’ll feel ten years younger.

‘You’ll relight the fire, for life in general and each other,’ it declared.

Well, we’ll just cut out the middle man! Genius! Our £600 a month of happiness starts right now!

Smug in our self righteous decision to remain barren, rich and lonely, we headed home.

Home, to the news that one of my very best friends is up the duff.

I squealed in delight when she told me. A baby! A little tiny cute baby, for me to buy miniature Nike Air Max’s for! And a baby gro! And a bib that says: ‘I’m cute!’

My mind waivers. I’ll see how my friend gets on. If she positively glows from the whole experience, maybe I’ll declare my womb available for rent.

But if that baby so much as throws up on me, then it’s goodbye parenthood, hello yacht in the Caribbean, £600 a month for life and a ten year reduction in age.

Baby, it’s all down to you.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Running Away

So there I was, just a humble not-so young girl who likes cake and needs to run a few miles a week to keep the bits that could go podgy from doing so. Because there’s no way I’m giving up cake.

I needed a gym membership. Now I’ve moved around plenty, I’ve been a member of countless gyms. I should have known an evil, over-priced under-maintained gym from first whiff. But I was conned, duped, fooled into parting with – ouch - £500 a year.

A six foot lesbian showed me round Fitness First, waving to people as we toured. ‘Alright Pete?’ she said, smiling. ‘Going for a drink later?’ What a friendly place! Everyone knows everyone and they drink together! Where’s the dotted line, I thought, I’m not just going to keep in shape, I’m going to go drinking with Pete!

Little did I know Pete was a plant and big fat lesbian had no intention of drinking with him later, or ever.

The assault on my gullibility didn’t stop there. For your benefit, I’ll put in brackets the information she didn’t give me at the time.

‘Over here, we’ve got the steam rooms, sauna and ice room.’ (The steam room has never worked and we have no plans to fix it. The door doesn’t shut on the sauna, letting out vital hot air and aiding our carbon footprint.)

‘Girls changing rooms, plenty of space here.’ (Not at the times you’re planning to come, when there won’t be room to tie your shoelaces.)

‘Showers, free soap and shampoo dispensers.’ (The showers will take turns at being out of order, the soap will run out soon and don’t expect us to fill up the dispensers.)

‘Plenty of running machines. You can plug your headphones in and listen to any of our six channels.’ (You’ll mostly have to queue for the running machines and the volume control doesn’t work so it’s either silence or so deafening you can wave goodbye to hearing. Your membership fee alone would fix the problem, but we'd rather put that towards opening another gym.)

‘I mentioned the six channels. We’ve got Sky Sports, MTV, E4, the History Channel. (We’ll play local news on every channel, on a loop.)

‘Here’s the stretching area. Plenty of gym balls and weights.’ (The number of gym balls available here will slowly decrease, we won’t replace popped ones. Soon you’ll be fighting over the final one, and it won’t be the right size for you.)

I’m thoroughly against an escalator taking you into a gym. Surely the last place you need an escalator is on your way to exercise, but lo, Fitness First has one. (This will mostly be broken. Because we know how weird it feels to walk up a broken escalator. Just somehow different to stairs, isn’t it? Always that risk element that it might start while you’re on it, sending you arse over tit.)

Ignorant to all the information here bracketed, I signed up. And for two years, every exercise routine was endured through gritted teeth. Paula Radcliffe suggests you count to thirty while running, to take your mind off running. I’ve got my own method. I count all the things that annoy me about Fitness First.

Sometimes I left comment cards. They did nothing. Most of the time I gave nothing but a cheery smile to the receptionist, with their fake nails and Americanised training which has them greet me by name: ‘Hello Kimberley, enjoy your workout.’

No! No I will not! You don’t know me, don’t use my name. And I will not enjoy my workout because I’m here under duress. I only exercise so I can eat cake, and I’m only here because your small-print committing me to 18 months minimum was so small I missed it. Now go fix your escalator and leave me in peace.

I’ve never said that to a receptionist. And now my contract is up and I’m leaving. There’s a new gym just opened up around the corner and I’ve got a brand new company to make a silent list about.

You know what? I think all this inner fury has me burning more calories than the happy people all around me. Maybe I shouldn’t leave after all.
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