My mind has gone. I felt it fading away about two months ago but it’s really gone now. Bye bye. I can’t read anything and am starting to do things like order 5 of the same thing on Ocado when I only wanted 1 and leaving the iron on.
When I was just newly up the duff I was reading Bring Up The Bodies and although I didn’t really understand what was going on, there was no doubt that I was genuinely reading it, enjoying the, you know, atmosphere, if not actually taking on board any content. But then, like the bloke in Flowers for Algernon, I gradually ground to a halt, got stupider and stupider, more vague. I read fewer pages every night until my Kindle battery ran out and I just didn’t bother to recharge it.
And that was the last literary thing I read. Now I read newspapers and Twitter and that’s it. I can’t even really concentrate on films. It’s not forever, I know, but it is annoying. It happened with Kitty, too, but things were easy then. I just sat about humming to myself, eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and ordering things off the John Lewis website. Now, with nothing to read and nothing to think about all I do is obsess over when this will all be over and I don’t have to be pregnant anymore – or ever again.
I am constantly struck by the pitifulness of the pregnant woman-with-toddler combination. Whenever I saw them in the playground I always used to think “Oh god, you poor cow.” And now it’s me. Yesterday, as I pushed Kitty’s buggy through the freezing rain I was brought to mind of a character in The Mayor of Casterbridge*, the tedious Thomas Hardy novel, (which I hope for your sake you have not bothered reading): little Fanny Robin, pregnant out of wedlock by a scoundrel soldier and forced to walk for miles and miles through the snow, 8 months gone. I think that’s what kills her. Or maybe she dies in childbirth. Anyway, it’s grim and I dwell ghoulishly on poor Fanny Robin as I am forced, bookless, to focus inwards.
It will do that to you, being pregnant – it makes you selfish, self-pitying, green-eyed. It makes you covet things – slimness, agileness, more help or the life of the woman whose children are all at school.
This is an inappropriate introduction to my recipe today, which is for bread and butter pudding – probably the antithesis of all this stark moaning. If stark moaning were a foodstuff, it would be a bad cheese sandwich from a motorway service station. Bread and butter pudding on the other hand, is the food equivalent of a really brilliant wedding speech.
I am not going to provide you with completely exact quantities for this because your pudding dishes will all be different and it’s a very simple thing to make, so being very precise doesn’t matter and you can judge things by eye yourself. And if I say that, you know it must be true.
This is based on Delia Smith’s recipe, so if you can’t handle the vague quantities thing (and I wouldn’t blame you), do seek hers out online.
So here we go, Bread and Butter pudding.
Some white bread
ground cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg or all three
some mixed candied peel might be nice? But don’t go out specially for it
3 eggs (ok you really DO need 3 eggs here)
some lemon zest if you have it
Preheat your oven to 180C
1 Generously butter your pudding dish. Then start buttering slices of white bread on one side, cutting them in half – rectangles or triangles, up to you, (crusts on) and arranging them in the dish.
2 You ought to be able to get about two layers of bread in here, and between the two layers, throw in some currants and sultanas and a sprinkling of spice or spices. Be generous. I used only Allspice, but a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg would be lovely as well.
3 Repeat this on the final layer.
NOW – this is the bit where you have to judge for yourself how much cream and milk you need. You don’t want the egg-and-cream mixture to be slopping over the sides, but you want the top layer of bread to be soaking up the mixture from the underneath. Err on the side of caution and add less than you think you need – you can always top up the cream and milk afterwards.
Stir all this round and then pour over the bread. Give it a small jiggle. Mix some more cream and milk together and slosh over if you think it needs it.
5 Finish this off with a sprinkling of granulated sugar, if you have it, then shove in the oven for 30-40 mins. The eggy mixture ought to be just set.
Eat with custard or more cream, while staring into space.
*Fanny Robin is not, of course, in The Mayor of Casterbridge but in Far From The Madding Crowd – I TOLD you I’d lost it…