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Mummy crush

I love the Autumn.  After months in flip-flops the prospect of the next few in socks and boots is bliss.  Now we’re really into Autumn proper and the freaky Indian Summer has passed, I can now fully embrace jeans and jumpers. I don’t have to shave my legs, or worry about bikini waxing.  In fact, I could grow an all-over winter pelt and no-one would know.


People have started moaning about how dark it suddenly gets as the change of the clocks looms on the horizon, but this is always my happiest time of year. Autumn is so romantic.  Slow-cooked stews and buttery baked potatoes. Big thick duvets.  Sunday roasts in the pub by the fire.  Gloves.  Finding fivers and forgotten lipsticks in your winter coat pockets.  What’s not to love?


And OK, it’s a bit harder getting up, but I adore the bright chilly mornings here on Brighton seafront, when the gold stones sparkle against the purple sea and the beach huts gleam.  I like the mounting excitement in our household about Halloween and bonfire night and kicking up piles of autumn leaves in the park with the kids after school.  And seeing my breath for the first time by the light of a streetlamp, which makes me yearn for my youthful smoking days.


And of course, telly.  After months of working like a loon on my new book, when most things cultural have passed me by entirely, I’ve re-surfaced in order to be a consumer of modern popular culture.  But this year, I find myself a little disappointed.


Having been in the grip of the tyranny of X-Factor before, this year I can’t bring myself to devote the necessary hours.  Even ironically.  We tried to watch it, but the kids became catatonic with boredom.   The only thing they really liked about it was the Yeo valley boy-band advert, which is genius.  And the voice-over man, who we all try to impersonate.  His breakfast comedy sketch made me laugh.  (See link below)


So, the X-Factor is officially pants.  And from the press this week, it’s not just me who thinks so too.  It’s just not the same without Simon, although Gary Barlow is a great replacement.  I did admit to a friend on the phone that I started out with a little bit of a mummy crush on old Gary.  ‘What’s a mummy crush?’ my ear-wigging seven year-old asked.  The big one eyeballed me and then said to her sister.   ‘She’s going to crush him.’  The middle one stared at me, aghast.  ‘You’re actually going to lie down on top of Gary Barlow and squish him?’ Annoying that she thought I was capable of it.  Even more annoying that she told all her friends.


Actually, I think Gary works the stubble and nice suit look very well.  Fortunately, I’m married to a man who can do the same.  Emlyn looked particularly gorgeous going off to the Crime Writers Awards at Grosvenor House the other night, where he met the actress who plays Sarah Lund in the brilliant ‘The Killing’.  He’s got his own Daddy crush on Sarah Lund.  Her of the jeans and jumpers.  A bit like me, I like to think.


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Viva Jamie


We like playing Pre-recession, Post-recession in this household. It’s all subjective, of course, but it’s fun once you get into it.

For example, Pre-recession destinations include Ibiza and Iceland.  Post-recession places include Norfolk and Paris (so un-trendy for so long, but now oddly desirable again).

Jordan is Pre-recession.  Fiona Bruce is Post.

TV shows in the Pre-recession category include everything associated with Gordon Ramsay, Grand Designs and Top Gear.

Jules Holland is Post-recession.  As is Glee.

You get the idea.

And I think, on balance, Jamie Oliver comes out as Post-recession too. And this is from a girl who rails against the cult of the celebrity chef.    Yep.  Hands up. I’ve done a U-turn about Jamie.  And I don’t think I’m the only one.

When he first came out and did that whole moped malarkey and became Sainsbury’s whipping boy, everyone got sick to the back teeth of him.  He was called a ‘fat-tongued ****’ if you remember.  A lot.

I never really believed he had all those ‘mates’ in his trendy loft apartment.  I always thought they called him the fat-tongued thing behind his back.

Nobody liked him.  In fact, I can recall a drunken night back in the last century when we burnt Mr O’s first cookery book in the garden.  Sacrilege for writers to burn books, I know and very mature, however our vitriol knew no bounds.

But credit where credit is due.  Jamie does so many thinks right.  Not least of all, his latest cookery show, where he’s been doing a whistle-stop tour around Europe and bringing us the best recipes.  And contrived though it all must be, many of the situations he gets into seem very real.

Most admirable of all, however, to my mind, is that he actually eats what he’s made on the show.  He’s not waiting for the lowly public to taste his creations, he actually shoves the just-cooked food in his own gob.  Inspirational.

We live around the corner from Jamie’s Recipease shop.  It’s pink.  Being a Dad of girls, I suspect one of his kids chose the colour.  But as a shrine to all things Jamie, it works. The staff there are uber-friendly, the food is delicious.  It’s also very handy for birthday and Christmas pressies.

They used to have pizza stations where you could take the kids to make a pizza and they’d wrap it up for you and you could cook it at home, but mercifully, the kids have been banished, such is the demand for cookery lessons.  Jamie, it seems, is not only good at putting his ideas into practice, he’s happy to adapt them too.

Perhaps Jamie should do courses in how to be successful, as well as how to cook the perfect risotto. Dave and Nick could pop along after work with the new cabinet. After all, Jamie survived the last government and came out on top with shed loads of wonga.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the new government could say the same thing too?

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