Monday, August 13, 2001

In an attempt to make the best of things, thinks how jolly it is, and probably how healthy, to go walking in the rain. Actually, at 05.45, it doesnít really matter, and no one expects any better of Scottish weather in August. And having a solitary breakfast at my desk is so much better than having a solitary breakfast at home. Thinks of the breakfasts of childhood: always something cooked. I suppose, logically, that my mother had a routine of baked beans with toast one day, bacon with mashed potato the next, poached eggs once a fortnight (Iím quivering at the thought of a soft poached egg, not having had one for years), always porridge (for my father), normally cornflakes (for the effete children). And weíd sit at table! With a tablecloth! This is not something which is in my lifestyle.

But this is the last day when I can get up to please myself (or to build up extra flexitime), as school starts tomorrow. Tomorrow, the ongoing adolescent-parent negotiations will start again, as adolescent has to be coaxed out of bed, drip fed breakfast (probably french bread and milk, though he normally claims not to be hungry, unless, of course, Iím willing to delay the getting to school process to let him buy a hot bacon roll). Then we will need to set out to school, which is in completely the opposite direction from work, and hope that he stays there. After delivery, I shall rush to work, knowing that with each minute Iím losing time which will have to be made up at the end of the day or, worse, in my precious Friday afternoon off, arriving stressed and tired, worried that he wonít stay at school, hostage to these feelings, but trying to tamp them down and get some actual work done. Itís not only him who looks forward to school holidays!

Then at the end of the day, thereís the parental routine of what he did at school? Nothing. Does he have any homework? No. Can he stay over at a friendís house? Not on a school night. Retreat to his room, sulk, in an attempt to get me to change my mind. Me, thinking that parents must be consistent, retreat to mine and try to study. He will probably say that he wants to be part of a normal family. Me, torn between pity and love, forbear to comment that nothing is actually normal and that statistically speaking Ö After an hour and twenty two minutes, thirty five seconds of the silent treatment, his better nature may come to the fore, he may apologise, give me a brief cuddle. Ifí Iím lucky, heíll want to talk, heíll normally choose the time when Iím in the middle of a problem or wanting to watch tv or reading, I keep having to remember that Iím the adult, the one whoís supposed to be mature; heís not being deliberately awful, well not 100% of the time, and that, somehow, sometime, heíll look back, just as I did, and want to apologise.

Supper tonight should be penne and tomato sauce. I may buy chicken. Thereís a Thai chicken curry ready meal, sole survivor of a bunch I picked out at the weekend in case the visitor was hungry. . If the weather continues like this, Iíll start making soup again. Thereís something intensely comforting about being able to go home and find food waiting which can just be heated in the microwave. (Oven cooking is the most tremendous treat, which I do about once every two or three months). The kitchen is almost henna-free and Iíve scrubbed the bathroom carpet, which had a little trail of henna stains (looking a little like a line of machine gun fire). Iíve banished the henna block from the kitchen as I really donít like the smell and, miraculously, adolescent #female has cleaned the measuring jug and it looks almost as if it never knew that henna exists (thereís still a residual greasiness).

Soup - yes, it tends to be onion based, with lentils and whatever vegetables I fancy getting, using a core combination of potatoes, carrots, swede, plus a few herbs - parsley for everyday use, coriander if Iím feeling fancy, dill or basil if I feel like a change. A good shot of tabasco, to keep the blood circulating. If Iím feeling lazy, I cook it in the microwave, if Iím more organised, it gets left on the stove to simmer slowly for a few hours. Sometimes I have venison, lamb, ham, chicken. Venison soup is absolutely delicious. I note that Iíve got loads of chickpeas, so may use some for hummous, some for soup and, of course, I still have pearl barley. You canít put more than a couple of fingerfuls into soup, or it drowns the texture, so one packet lasts for a couple of years. But using it is a link with my mother, so it stays in the storecupboard.

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