My husband and I have been at each other’s throats recently. It happens sometimes and there is usually a period of a few days when we simply cannot exchange a civil word.
I, of course, think it’s because my husband is a fucking arsehole. And he maintains it’s because I’m such a cold, horrible bitch – times a hundred at the moment because I am pregnant and therefore “barely able to tolerate” his presence.
In actual fact, these rocky patches are so short and intense that it feels more like some sort of bad planetary alignment.
But the bad cosmic voodoo is not helped by the fact that we are both irritable shitbags and very good at saying very mean things to each other. Sometimes arguments are like an arms race, us firing the very horriblest things we can at each other, he culminating in something about me being boring and fat and me asking him if it isn’t time he went to see his shrink.
I, of course, think it cannot possibly be me. I am not grumpy, I am just bravely tolerating the horror that is pregnancy. But after a period of quiet reflection, I think maybe I do play a part in these marital breakdowns.
On paper, I probably come across as reasonably chatty. But in real life I often don’t say terribly much – I am conversational in bursts but most of the time, I am quite quiet. And I sulk. And fume.
I live in my head quite a lot, I suppose, whereas my husband lives his life out loud. He could never, for example, have an affair and keep it secret because at some point, while emptying his brain out through his mouth, he would just confess it.
So if I do something annoying he will tell me in plain language what I am doing that is annoying, (coughing, clearing my throat a lot, leaving the car unlocked, interrupting him, blatently glazing over while he is talking etc), whereas if he does something annoying, (leaving me to clear away his cereal bowl, not understanding that giving Kitty her lunch or tea ALSO involves wiping down the bloody highchair), I don’t say a word – I just rage internally about it. And it’s not impossible that this rage, suppressed, translates itself to frostiness and unpleasantness.
Marriage is played out so much in the domestic sphere, especially when you have children, that is it very difficult not to focus and obsess about small matters, like cereal bowls and irritating coughs. I often fail to take my own advice in these situations, which is to think immeditely about the nice things one’s husband does that cancels out the need to wipe down a highchair.
Like how my husband does bathtime, on his own, every night. I’ve always taken this for granted but I am now aware that other men do not do this. Some because they can’t because they work long hours, but some because they just don’t want to deal with the screaming and the bending over and the sweat and the toothbrushing and so they magically manage to walk in the door at 7.20pm every night.
I also never see a bill for anything, I live an entirely paperwork-free life untroubled by insurance, tax, mortgages or credit card statements; someone else looks after the garden; I haven’t taken out the bins or touched a recycling bag for 5 years; I get to give birth in any private London hospital of my choosing.
And there’s me moaning on about the occasional cereal bowl. I think Giles is right. It’s not him: it’s me.
So to make amends I made Giles a tart. Not a tart though, really, in the end – much more of a quiche.
I felt terribly grown-up making this because it felt very French, very accomplished. Like one really ought to know how to talk to the Queen, get out of a sports car and make a quiche.
It was also the first time that I have successfully blind-baked something and I am NO LONGER AFRAID!!
It was an onion and gruyere tart and it was absolutely terrific and I really recommend it – especially if you are racking your brains for good mass-catering buffet lunch solutions as we stare down the festive season like it’s the barrel of a shotgun.
Onion and gruyere quiche
make about 8 picnic-sized pieces
1 23cm flan tin. Ideally with a removeable base but don’t fret if not. Most flan tins are 23cm, but this is reasonably important so if it looks to you at a vague guess like much BIGGER or SMALLER, then you might have to think again
1 packet shortcrust pastry from the excellent and life saving Jus-Roll
3 large onions, sliced as thinly as you can
200ml double cream
3 eggs (I know, rather a lot)
salt and pepper
200g gruyere, grated
50g parmesan, grated
some thyme leaves – maybe 10?
Preheat your oven to 180C
1 Cook your onions on your lowest available heat setting with the butter and a large pinch of salt for TWO HOURS. I know this is a long time, but you just put it on the thing and forget about it.
2 Roll out the pastry and lay it in the flan tin. Trim the excess and then line with paper and then baking beads or beans or whatever. You can ALSO use cling film for this. I was worried that it would melt but it doesn’t. Use a triple thickness of film to line the pastry and then pour in the beads.
3 Bake this for 15 mins then take out the paper/film and beads and cook for another ten minutes.
4 Mix together your now gloopy sticky onions with the double cream, beaten eggs, cheeses, pepper, (the onions will already be quite salty), and thyme leaves.
5 Pour into the pastry case and bake for 30 mins.
Really delicious with a winter coleslaw or any kind of cold, sharp salad.