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Surrendering onions

I’ve been away. I know. I have noticed. Thank you for your patience during the disruption to your service.

I’ve been terribly ill, you see. Sick, so sick. Morning sickness it is. Was. It’s over now – sort of. I still get the odd billowing wave of it, bobbing up around my solar plexus but I’m no longer a drooping, greyish figure haunting my house. Urgh. I hate – hate – people who say that horrid thing to pregnant women – “You’re not ill, you’re pregnant.” Really? Because it feels an awful lot like norovirus to me.

Anyway I feel better now. And I had my 12 week scan – just one spratling, thank god, in the right place – and so I can start moaning on about being pregnant again. The other thing that’s happened is that I’ve finished putting together that book I was talking about. In the end it really wasn’t very much work, it was just impossible to do anything feeling so sick. Ten minutes typing, 1 hour lying down, ten minutes typing, one hour lying down. SO SO SICK. I got some pills off my doctor, The Beast, in the end. I just couldn’t take it anymore. But they only took the edge off, it wasn’t like I was bouncing out of bed in the mornings.

I honestly am still reeling from how awful it was. It just wasn’t that bad with Kitty. And I wasn’t that tired either. But for the last six weeks I’ve been wiped out, asleep from 1-3pm every day. Wiped out like chalk on a blackboard. And then wake up feeling like shit. Poor old Kitty. Or rather lucky Kitty – she has eaten biscuits and watched telly solidly for six weeks. But thank god for telly. Thank GOD! What would we have done without it.

I am trying not to think too much about being plunged back into a babyhood. I am trying to look on the bright side. I must have learned something since Kitty was born. It surely won’t be as awful as it was. I don’t want to go mad again, I really don’t.

It has to be different this time – for one, Kitty was brought home to a house that didn’t have any children in it. It was a grown-up house, really quite spooky in a lot of ways – silent and strange and unfit for a baby. These days it has a chattering lunatic nearly-two-year-old in it, dropping crumbs and kicking balloons and watching telly and running from one end of the house to the other for no reason other than youthful high spirits. The changing mat now has its own room, rather than squatting on the kitchen table. The kitchen extension means that everyone can slob about in the kitchen, rather than me being at the stove, running out every ten seconds into the living room to make sure everyone’s okay.

And maybe I’m different. Broken in, broken down. Resigned. Institutionalised. Used to that special sort of monotony you get with small children, so intense particularly in babies. My expectations from life are different now. I am surrendered, like onions.

Surrendering onions is a slow but pleasing task. It is what you do if you want very soft, aromatic, almost creamy onions (for an onion gravy for example, or a tangle alongside some sausages) and the trick is to cook them for a good 1.5-2 hours on the lowest heat on your smallest available burner.

You slice them into rings, reasonably thinly and scatter them in a pan with some oil – and butter, if you like. Then sprinkle over a generous pinch of salt and put a lid on and leave them. Do not turn the heat up and do not poke them about too much. Take the lid off if at any point the onions start to even think about sizzling. Towards the end of the cooking time, the onions will almost in a matter of seconds collapse into themselves – they will surrender. I can’t help but think of motherhood like that. But not in a bad way.

 

Bond, villain

I hope you don’t mind my husband butting in on our conversation (that is not my husband above, that of course is Daniel Craig).

My husband, Giles Coren, will only be with us for a moment. He’s just got a few words to say. It’s a piece that was supposed to go in The Times on Saturday, you see – only they wouldn’t run it. It was about James Bond and there’s been too much Bond, they said, someone else is doing something on something or other. So write something else, yeah Giles? Well my husband is an accommodating sort of chap so he said okay then – but it’s such a good piece it deserves to be read and Tweeted and to bust out from behind the paywall will make him so very chipper.

I promise this won’t be a regular thing.

Coming soon: a recipe!!!


BOND, VILLAIN
(The piece they tried to ban. Warning! This contains plot spoilers…)

by Giles Coren

 
There is a moment in the new James Bond film so vile, sexist and sad that it made me feel physically sick. If you have not seen the film and fear a spoiler, then look away now. Or cancel your tickets and do something less horrible instead. Like pull all your fingernails out.


In short, there is a young woman in this film whom Bond correctly identifies (in his smug, smart-arse way) as a sex-worker who was kidnapped and enslaved as a child by human traffickers. She is now a brutalised and unwilling gangster’s moll. She gives no sign of being sexually interested in Bond, merely of being incredibly scared and unhappy. So he creeps uninvited into her hotel shower cubicle later that night, like Jimmy Savile, and silently screws her because he is bored.

That is vile enough. And totally out of keeping, I’d have thought, with Daniel Craig’s Bond. But it gets much worse when she is later tied up with a glass of whisky on her head in a hilarious William Tell spoof, and shot dead in a game devised by the baddie. We knew already knew the baddie was bad, so there was no plot developing element here. It was merely disgusting, exploitative, 1970s-style death-porn (like when Roger Moore torpedoed the beautiful girl in the helicopter in The Spy Who Loved Me and then joked about it – a scene from which it has taken me 35 years to recover).

The ‘new’ Bond’s immediate response to the killing of a tragic, abused, indentured slave woman is to say, “waste of good scotch” (this must be the ‘humour’ Daniel Craig said he was keen to put back into the role) and then kill everyone. He could have done it three minutes before and saved her. But that wouldn’t have been as funny, I guess.

That Macallan (the whisky brand on her head) presumably paid to be involved in the scene, as part of the film’s much-touted product placement programme, is utterly baffling to me.

Personally, I am ashamed, as a journalist, of the five star ratings this film garnered across the board from sheep-like critics afraid or unable to look through the hype, to its rotten soul.


I am ashamed, as a man, that women are still compelled in the 21st century to watch movies in which the three female outcomes are:

1) Judi Dench’s ‘M’ dies, and is replaced by a man;

2) The young abuse victim is shagged by Bond and then killed for a joke; and

3) The pretty girl who manages to remain chaste despite Bond’s ‘charms’ is rewarded at the end with a job as his secretary.


And I am ashamed, as a British person, that this film will be mistaken abroad for an example of prevailing values here. It is a sick, reactionary, depressing film and its director, Sam Mendes, should be ashamed of himself, all the way to the bank.

How not to look like a fat frump when pregnant

You will notice, because you are smart, that I almost never promote anything on this blog. “Oh it’s too much like hard work,” I say to the occasional food person who gets in touch wondering if I’d like a free packet of spelt. “I’m so lazy,” I say. “I’ll never get round to it, sorry.”

But the fact is that I’m not interested in food freebies. (Sometimes I wonder whether I’m interested in food full stop.) If I want something for free I will say to my husband: “I want some rare albino truffle please,” and he will make a phonecall and it will turn up on my doorstep and I won’t even have to write about it.

But clothes? Cloooooothes?? Special nice clothes for preggy ladies that don’t make you look fat or pinch your bump or squish your boobs?

“Do you want some?” asked my friend Celia. “From ME+EM. We want you to be a sort of brand ambassador.”

“FUCK YEAH” I screamed. I didn’t even stop to say “Oh but why me? I’m so shit and fat and ugly. You don’t want me, you want someone more glamorous and interesting.” No, I did NOT say that, I just asked how much stuff I could have. Should I hire a parcel van to drive to the shop? Because I can do one on my Addison Lee app…

Then I immediately started to fret about it, as I always do. That the clothes wouldn’t fit or wouldn’t be nice and I would take a lot and then not wear them but have to be nice about them anyway. And then I would break our special bond, the one where I tell you the absolute truth about absolutely everything and don’t try and sell you anything, ever.

Don’t worry. I am not leading you a merry dance. This shit is for real. It’s amazing. There are dresses here that make you look, if you’re under, say, 20-24 weeks like you’re not pregnant. Especially from the front. And after that, they just expand like magic so even though you look like a Sherman tank, you feel comfy.

Pregnancy wear is mostly so so horrible. Massive floaty things with a big print. But this is all terrifically chic. And THE best long-length jersey vests and long-sleeved t-shirts EVAH.

THERE’S EVEN A SALE ON RIGHT NOW!!!

These are the things I got, which are particularly excellent and I recommend to you, pregnant or not. More original, I think, and better fabrics than Isabella Oliver or Seraphine – though God bless them both, eh? Where would we be without them.

On the ME+EM website they do a thing where they use skinny models for all the clothes, so you can’t really imagine how they would work on a massive pregnant arse and giant blobby tits, so this is my edit for anyone with a blubbery mess to cover up.

Just think of me like a very badass Gwyneth Paltrow, yeah?

Almost all of this comes in different colours and is available HERE. The sizing is very generous. I am 5’6” and weigh in at 10 stone 3.5 and fit into a small.

Crepe swing dress. MAKES YOU LOOK NOT PREGNANT. £104. You will wear it everywhere and it’s crepe so it won’t get bobbles.

Tuck neck swing dress. This is just so cool, such a nice shape. Great with long boots, ankle boots or little slippers. £115. I will be wearing this on Christmas Day.



Extra long layer T. The last word in long-length long-sleeved tops. Soft as a kitten. £42. There are also excellent vests at £19 each. Fucking BARGAIN.

V-neck box pleat dress. Very similar to one at Isabella Oliver but a nicer colour, a more slimming fit and less expensive at £104

An amazing thing. If you only get one thing when you are pregnant, get this. It is sort of drapey and concealing without being heavyweight so you don’t end up looking like a piece of soft furniture. It also has lovely long sleeves. I plan to wear mine until it has holes in it. Knit sleeve 3/4 jacket – £119

And a snood. Because I’ve decided that I hate scarves. Wide rib snood – £68
 

Happy shopping and have a great weekend.