I woke up feeling terribly gloomy yesterday morning. I felt awful and depressed and really unable to get out of bed in a way that I haven’t since I had morning sickness, what feels like several hundred years ago at the start of this wretched pregnancy.
My morale up until now has been based on doing the following:
1 Not counting down the days left. I stubbornly refuse to think or talk about how pregnant I am. I just say “It’s due in May” and pretend to myself it is at least three weeks later in the year than it is. I have been 7 months’ pregnant for at least 6 weeks. Otherwise you are like a prisoner, trapped in your huge, ungainly body marking time until your parole date. You may as well just scratch lines onto the kitchen wall with a fruit knife and be done with it.
2 Reading anything to do with fashion, clothes and weight loss obsessively and every so often suddenly spending a fortune on a pointless accessory. Once I am no longer pregnant I will go back to slopping about in bootcut jeans and grandad shirts – but for now the image of a slim and fashionable me stops me from lying down on the floor and screaming “I don’t want to do this anymore!!!!!!”
I am so obsessed at the moment with clothes and accessories that I’m like an horrific pastiche of what people fear a Western woman is: just a goggle-eyed grasping lunatic, who actually believes that putting together a correctly fashionable outfit is an achievement, or sourcing a pair of absolutely au courant neon striped gym shoes for Spring/Summer constitutes “work”. I went on a special trip to Selfridges to pick out a ruinously expensive charm necklace for my husband to buy me, according to the fashion for a husband to reward a wife with a present after she has had a baby. I cannot stop thinking about this necklace because when I have it, you see, my life will change for the better.
It’s as if I unconsciously believe that the right clothes and accessories will make all this go away. My back won’t hurt, my facial bloating will subside, I will be able to sleep, I will be able to bend down, my varicose veins will disappear. If I am dressed correctly the first few horrendous weeks of leaking bosoms and traumatised knicker-area, followed backbreaking months of still being overweight and creaky while hauling around a glassy-eyed newborn, stopping Kitty from killing it/herself/me, won’t be so bad.
Ha! Haaaa haaa haaaaaaaaaaa.
Then I come away from the iPad or the laptop, having found myself almost buying a pair of shoes with cat faces on them for £500, (because they might be the shoes that change my life for the better, you see), and I feel guilty and sick.
3 Doing stuff with Kitty, no matter how much of a hassle it is. I allow indoor play and general telly-and-biscuit wallowing in the afternoons, but in the morning, I try to go out.
But I think I have hit a wall. I can’t do anything anymore. I have to leave stuff scattered all over the floor for someone else to pick up because I can’t. You will think: “That’s fine, you’re pregnant, enjoy not having to pick stuff up off the floor!!” but I don’t like it. I don’t like having to rely on other people. I don’t like having to be helped up out of chairs, (my husband responds by trying to pick me up under the armpits, like a cat). And I don’t like having to say to my husband, when he comes downstairs from having put Kitty to bed, “Sorry but can you put away those Megabloks?”
No matter how awful I feel I’d always rather do that sort of thing myself and enjoy the warm glow of martyrdom. Occasionally when I am on my hands and knees clearing up some awful spill to rival Exxon Valdez, usually also involving broken glass, I feel so sorry for myself that it’s actually quite fun. But now I really just can’t do any of it. I honestly think one wrong move and something will snap, or get squashed, or fall out, or tear.
And there’s two months to go. TWO MONTHS!! And it won’t stop fucking snowing. I don’t know why I’m even bothering to despair. My own raging voice floats about my ears, getting fainter and fainter, further and further away like a tiny person trapped under some floorboards, far away and you think you can hear a voice and say “Can you hear that?” and everyone shakes their head and says “no”. That’s how futile my complaining is.
Just to make myself feel worse I decided to make one of What Katie Ate’s recipes, torn jealously and resentfully out of The Times Magazine two weeks ago. I don’t hate Katie Ate, but she did make me feel grossly inadequate for most of a weekend. But then, that’s what weekend papers do – they make you feel a bit shit about your life, whether your are pregnant and miserable or not.
Anyway, so I made this stuffed pork loin thing as a kind of penance to atone for my sins of pride and envy, sloth and too much online shopping.
And it was terrific! Although overcooked and slightly shoe-like. But that is not Katie’s fault as her cooking times specified were for a larger joint of pork than mine and I, like most English people am too sccaaarrrred of underdone pork to be bold about reducing the cooking times.
The really wonderful thing about this was the amazing stuffing – really, really delicious and magical. Give this a go just for that.
2kg pork loin
For the stuffing
250g dried apricots
100g pistachios, shelled
2 apples, grated
50g butter, melted
2 cloves garlic
chopped parsley, sage and thyme
salt and pepper
two handfuls of sourdough breadcrumbs (we happen to always have sourdough bread in the house but if you don’t, I’m sure any old breadcrumbs would be fine).
1 Chop the onion and garlic and cook very gently for about ten minutes until just softening – don’t let them take any colour at all and don’t worry about them being raw because you’re going to cook the shit out of them later. Take the pan off the heat and set to one side.
2 Chop up the apricot and pistachio reasonably small and put in a bowl. Then grate over the apple, throw in the herbs and the breadcrumbs, scrape in the onion and garlic, pour over the melted butter, season with a good pinch of salt and four or five turns of the pepper grinder and give it a good stir.
3 Unwrap your pork loin. If you can’t see how in the hell you are going to get loads of stuffing in and then tie it back up again, you can always fillet off a bit of the underside of the joint with a sharp knife and put aside for another project (does that make sense?)
4 Flip the pork over skin-side up: if it has not already been scored, then score all over in a diamond pattern. Then rub with a lot of squashed sea salt.
5 Turn the loin back over and press in the stuffing. Roll up and tie as neatly as you can. The stuffing will inevitably clatter out of both ends, but just press it back in as best you can. I cooked my joint on its end, to stop the stuffing falling out and to get an even cook of crackling round the side but if you have a larger, long joint you won’t be able to do this.
6 Put in the oven at 240C or top whack for 30 mins, then turn down the temp to 180C and cook for another hour. If you want to bake some apples alongside this for a kind of self-preparing apple sauce, put some small eating apples (naturally sweet so you don’t have to faff about adding sugar to cooking apples) 30mins before the end of the cooking time.
This is hell to slice as the stuffing splurges out everywhere – you need a REALLY sharp knife, but it was very delicious.