I know I’m lucky to be a novelist, but I have to admit, sometimes I miss working in an office. Only because the lunches were so great. Especially on Fridays.
Back in the days when I worked in Sales Promotion, flexing my literary talents by writing such copy gems as Honey Monster’s Soccer Pop-Up’s for the back of Sugar Puffs cereal boxes, we’d all down tools at lunchtime. And even if there was a boardroom lunch and we had to stay in the building, it was always fun to nick sandwiches from the trays from the outside caterers, sneaking corners of coronation chicken from under the cling film.
But on Friday lunchtimes, we’d religiously pile into All Bar One to reward our week’s work with a big fat lunch and a couple of large glasses of chardonnay. Oh, happy days.
The non-participation, non-event lunch is the writer’s curse. And the concept of a whole hour of free time in the day, outrageous. You’d think since Emlyn and I both work at home and we’re kid-free at noon, that we’d slope off for long lunches, but the guilt is too great and the time for writing always too short.
But we still fantasize about lunch, like real working people do – usually from about 9.30am in my case. But there’s no fancy ciabatta, or sun-dried tomato or salady nonsense round here. Instead, ravenous at 1pm, we meet like cave-people down by the fridge to forage for last night’s leftovers. Sometimes, we’ll splash out on some supermarket sushi, or take-away chips, but only on Fridays.
It’s not so bad now the sun has come out and we can eat our cold curry in the garden, but we eat and then get straight back to work. Only yesterday, Emlyn was reminiscing about his old office lunch hours when he’d eat his sandwich in the park and ogle at all the girls for the other 58 minutes. It’s not quite the same with just me. And I don’t think my tracky bottoms are doing it for him.
But I have to admit that I get very jealous when I hear about people having a big corporate lunches. Fancy being paid to do my favourite thing all the time. I only get to have a lunch date once a month, if that.
We met a lovely MP on holiday last year who diets during August, because he has to attend so many big lunches the rest of the time. I couldn’t bring myself to get the violins out. And city boys are the worst culprits, although our rich friends say times are leaner these days.
But it’s not just them. Publishers, of course, are renowned for their lunching habits. There was once a fantastic panto at the end of the London Book Fair when a famous agent and publisher got up on stage to sing the ballad, ‘the long and winding lunch’, to the tune of The Beatles, ‘long and winding road’. Never a truer word sung.
With that in mind, I’ve spent this week corrupting my fabulous new editor into a Friday lunch date in May. To be honest, it wasn’t that hard. But I can’t wait.
In the meantime, my March lunch date is today. (I’ll tell you about April’s exciting lunch plan in a future blog.) I’m off to glam up to go to the AGM of ‘Rubbish Mothers’, an elite club of which I am a proud member. It involves bunking off for a boozy lunch to a nice Thames-side restaurant with some wonderful girlfriends. Do I feel guilty? Course I don’t. The long and winding lunch and rubbish mothering go hand in hand. Try it sometime.