Pie-gate

Sometimes in the morning I’ll be in bed asleep upstairs in our loft and my eyes will go from being tight shut to wide open in a nanosecond. It’s because at that moment I get the scent of cherry pie coming out of the oven downstairs in the cafe. Well, that’s what happened last week – only rather than cherry it was apple and raisin with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon. Trust me I can tell the difference between a baked cherry and a baked apple. It’s taken years of sniffing to get it down to such a fine art. In fact, if anyone is ever looking for a professional pie sniffer then look no further than me folks because I’m your man. Eating pie is, of course, the obvious progression and, whilst I’ve never actually entered a pie eating competition, pass the spoon.

Anyway the reason I’m telling you this baloney is because something rather awkward has happened between me, my husband and a piece of crust. Yes, to coin the phrase by the late Princess Diana, “there were now 3 of us in this marriage”. Whilst thankfully my marital competition has proved to be completely edible, Guido has started referring to this weird episode as, Pie-gate. You know where I’m going with this one.

Baked especially to sell front of house, it was about the size of a cartwheel in circumference; cut into 16 perfectly proportioned slices. The surface was golden and crispy and was oozing lusciousness from every possible angle. Guido, surely, wouldn’t miss just one solitary slice?

Yes he would.

No he wouldn’t.

Yes he would.

No he wouldn’t.

There isn’t that much that turns my brain into indecisive mush except possibly Bear Grylls topless and a sugary filling, but there I was like Dr Jekyll transitioning into Mr Hyde in a cake shop. I picked up a knife and I cut. I hesitantly looked left. Then I craftily looked right. I checked for any possible witnesses to this unfolding crumb scene and then; and then I just ate it in greedy guilty gulps. It was like feeding time at the monkey house – both hideous and hysterical all rolled into one. As you can see I live a gloriously hedonistic lifestyle for a professional pie sniffer. I looked at the remaining pie. There was an obvious gap. Hmm. I had a light bulb moment. If I just moved all of the other slices 6mm to the left then 16 slices magically became 15. I let out a deranged Mr Hyde cackle of laughter. It clearly takes a while for his maniacal sugar rush to wear off. But who am I to judge.

However, the real test was to come 2 hours later.

“When I cut this here pie,” said Guido holding a cake slice confrontationally, “there were 16 slices. Now there are 15. Care to elaborate?”

I glanced over my shoulder like he was talking to someone else. However the problem is, when I lie, I blink excessively. It’s a dead give away.

“I have no idea,” I said blink blink, “what you’re talking about.” Blink blink, and double blink.

“Really?” said Guido.

He knew, that I knew, that he knew.

“Absolutely,” I said blink blink blink, “Pie, what pie?” Blink blink blink.

And I know what you’re all thinking. But let he who is without sin, cast the first slice.

Love lost and found

My parents got remarried yesterday. I’ll spare you every minutia of detail. But suffice it to say there would have been enough drama in the run up to write a blog post every day for the next twenty five years.

What I will tell you is my mother wore pink chiffon (now I know where I get my interest from) and my father wore his usual blue crushed velvet number. Which he was still ominously referring to as his “marriage suit.” Let’s hope this (number 4) really is its last outing. It’s a miracle of modern tailoring, and his ability to suck his stomach in for extended periods, that he still fits in it. After they exchanged vows my parents stared into each other’s eyes. It was actually quite moving. Outside the Registry Office Guido said I threw a box of confetti over their heads with particular gusto. I guess it was the relief it was all over. Then we took a cab to Boulevard Brasserie in Covent Garden where we met a whole bunch of their friends. I’ll give them this – my parents sure know how to throw a terrific party. They both looked very happy; like people who, whatever they have found again, had been given a second chance.

Today, in stark contrast to love (re)found, was love horribly lost. This morning I met Gary. We drank a coffee and split a double chocolate chip muffin at the cafe. I’ll be honest. The conversation was difficult. We spoke about him returning back to work at the airline. He was keeping busy working extra shifts – he said. I asked him if he was eating properly. He was trying to but keeping busy working extra shifts – he said. I asked how he was coping. He was coping by working extra shifts – he said. Everytime I mentioned Ted’s name, Gary wept. You cannot simply wash away all those years of loving together in four months. Bereavement is such a lonely torture.

“Somebody told me that how I feel will never change,” said Gary, “but how I deal with those feelings eventually does.”

As he left I hugged him and said we’d meet for lunch. He was busy working extra shifts, but he’d try – he said.

Later, when Guido finished lunch service, I asked him to come upstairs with me and we decadently had sex right in the middle of the afternoon. It was sex of the making love variety – as opposed to the sex of the jumping off our chest of drawers enthusiastically holding a tube of spreadable cheese variety.

I guess you could say Guido and I are neither a love lost nor one newly found. We’re in a category all by ourselves that’s called an ongoing “work in progress.” But what I do know is, whatever we’ve got, I never want it to end.

[Apologies for the technical glitch. And to any readers who get this post twice]

Melvin, and me

The rumour is that there are now two Melania Trumps. Or so conspiracy theorists seem to believe. This got me thinking and it didn’t take me long to begin to love the idea of having my own doppelgänger. Seriously, the possibilities could be endless. So over a lemon risotto last night I asked Guido what he’d think if there were two of me.

“Two,” he said, “of you,” he said, “at exactly the the same time?” he said. There was a short pause whilst he furrowed his brow. “I’d say one was more than enough.”

Personally I thought it was a terrific idea; everyone should have a spare. Provided I could find someone with convincingly bushy eyebrows, a nose shaped like a banana, and a pathological love of baked cheesecake, I reckoned it would be almost impossible to tell us apart. And I’ve already thought of a name for the other me.

I’m calling him Melvin.

With the right tweaks and a few days coaching I reckon Melvin would be completely interchangeable in everything I do.

Ever woken up on a week day and felt like crap? Call Melvin. Late night grocery store shopping on a budget? Call Melvin. A tedious lunch with my mother? Call Melvin. My mother would be so busy drinking gin and talking about herself she probably wouldn’t even notice it wasn’t me.

“Well, not at exactly the same time,” I said. “it’s not like I’m looking for an identical twin to hang out with and wear the same clothes.” I mean really, I’m not a complete freak. “Just someone I could call up once in a while to come over and fill in for me.”

Honestly the more I explained this the more convincingly logical it was becoming.

“Sounds complicated to me,” said Guido, “What if this Melvin guy turns up when you weren’t expecting him and you both ended up in the same place at the same time? How would you dig your way out of that one?”

You see, that’s what I love about my husband, his ability to seek answers to what is already ridiculously implausible. Though I suppose I only had myself to blame. I suddenly found myself wondering if Melania ever had similar conversations with Donald. I’d bet she did.

“And would Melvin be able to do that weird thing to me with his tongue in exactly the same way that you do?”

I almost dropped my spoon. As far as I was concerned the only thing Melvin was going to do with his tongue was talk.

“Well let me tell you something mister,” I said, “ if you think for just one minute that anyone is going to do that weird thing to you with their tongue – which has taken many many years of practice and most of it in the dark I might add  – it’s going to be me. So if this Melvin imposter ever suggests any tongue action I want to be the first to know.”

Mervin’s got some nerve. I didn’t like this side to him one little bit. I was hoping he’d be satisfied with office work, shopping, and lunch with my mother. Hell, I was even going to throw in cheesecake, but no, suddenly Melvin has to go and get his big tongue out.

I ate my risotto. Then later in bed I did that weird thing to Guido with my tongue. And I’m telling you – Melvin doesn’t stand a chance.

Aioli, and other vices

I try to be good. Often I fail. There is a very annoying saying – everything in moderation – which I’ve noticed is particularly popular with people who have slim hips and high metabolisms. And, whilst I like to think I have admirable genetic attributes myself, regular readers will know restraint isn’t one of them.

We all have our own personal holes in the road on the “being good” front. Sometimes I manage to swerve and sometimes I just go straight in head first. Cheesecake, clotted cream, a large Martini and a soggy croissant spring instantly to mind. Thought not all on the same plate at the same time.

But, it’s those small hidden vices which insidiously drip, drip, away.

We have a salt shaker on our table. I like to shake it. I shake it because it makes a weird noise like an angry rattle snake. Sometimes when Guido is quietly sucking his spaghetti I’ll jump up behind him and give it a twist. It’s amazing the combined pleasure a generous dusting of salt and scaring my husband half to death brings me. We also have a sugar bowl. In fact, we have two. One with demerara cubes and one with white granulated in a glass jar with a silver funnel on top. I sometimes plonk one lump in my coffee just for the hell of it. If I’ve got an early morning meeting in Shepherds Bush – which let’s face it, has to be depressing at the best of times – I’ll just pour an avalanche straight onto my Coco Pops and start slowly digging my way out. This could explain why I see pound signs in my dentist’s eyes when I visit his surgery every six months. You’ll also now understand why I have routinely resorted to The Banana Diet – a rare kind of masochism reserved for people with a highly developed but twisted interest in condiments and their alternative uses.

“Where d’you think you might want to spread this?” asked Guido last night somewhat provocatively in my opinion. He just happened to be holding a small dish of his freshly homemade mayonnaise at the time.

I’d just watched him put garlic, egg yolks and mustard into a blender. It sure beat what they were showing on Channel 5, I can tell you. He blitzed it to a paste and then slowly dribbled in olive oil to make a thick mayonnaise-style sauce. When everything came together he added lemon juice, then seasoned to taste. If you want to try making it, it should keep covered in the fridge of a normal person for up to 2 days. But obviously we’re not normal.

“It depends what you’re planning on serving it with,” I said as quick as a flash.

I was pretending to play it totally cool but I was secretly hoping for a bowl of something deep fried to use to start dunking. I do like a good dunk, and aioli is perfect. So there’s another item (vice) to add to my ever burgeoning list.

“I’m open to ideas,” said Guido, “but I’m definitely done in the kitchen. If you know what I mean?”

The aioli tasted good. I imagine it’s great with cold chicken or flaked tuna. Alternatively – try spreading liberally across a hairy thigh. Though I can’t promise what effect this will have on your hips.

Bring to a gentle Simmer, then stir…

I’ve always happily followed the belief, it’s not how big it is, it’s what you do with it. However now, it’s not what you do with it, but how often you get it out. Are you folks still with me?

You will not be surprised to hear that Guido wasn’t too pleased with me when I once divulged on this blog that we routinely had sex twice on a Saturday and every other Tuesday afternoon – especially if it happened to be raining. So in the – how often you get it out stakes – I’d always thought my husband and I were having more of it than the London average. But not so, according to an article I read by a sex therapist published in The Times.

According to The Dr, as I’m now affectionately calling him, you don’t have to go the whole nine yards, instead just simply get each other worked up a bit sexually on a daily basis. This regular toe dip in the shallow waters of arousal feels good and gets you going. Didn’t you know the most sexually satisfied couples amongst us get a buzz this way every day? But instead of a full on screw-a-thon they gaze, they touch, they sniff. I have to say this does sound less exhausting and time consuming, especially if it’s raining.

As you know I like to bring readers hot news on, well, getting hot, so The Dr calls this latest craze SimmeringIn reality I’d call this “getting all steamed up”. More of that, below. So naturally in the interests of modern science I decided to warm things up a bit myself on Sunday morning. But more of that, also below.

In the cafe kitchen yesterday I found Guido contentedly frying three eggs sunny side up. All four of them were a pleasing sight and whilst I do like to sniff a fried egg when I can, I decided to make my first “Simmer” move whilst I had the chance. I snuck up when Guido least expected it and sniffed him wildly around the neck. What can I tell you about that other than to say there was the faint whiff of Givenchy For Gentlemen and extra virgin olive oil.

“What the hell are you doing?” he asked flinching whilst simultaneously catapulting his spatula high into the air.

The Dr never said anything about catapulting. I had to think on my feet. What, I thought, would Zac Ephron do? I suddenly realised I’d sniffed before I’d touched or gazed so decided to do everything in reverse order. I stared deeply into Guido’s eyes fluttering my eye lashes. Then I reached out and took a firm hold of him. Nothing seemed be going hard other than his yolks. This was extremely disappointing. Nothing simmered.

The Dr says, by all means Simmer by text. I thought this was a terrific idea so later I sent Guido this to his mobile.

“Every time I think of you I get all hot under the collar…”

The three dots were crucial in my opinion.

Then I got this zapped back from Guido.

“???”

Today is now Monday. I’ve been Simmering for almost two days solid. And in the interests of modern science I can’t tell you how pleased I am tomorrow is Tuesday.

I just hope it’s raining VERY hard.

Ted

I wrote the following post – Imaginary Friends – back in November 2015. I’ve reposted it in loving memory of our friend, Ted, who read this blog avidly. We lost him on Christmas Day.

Last night, after the café closed, our gay friends Gary and Ted came around.  It was their monthly pilgrimage to The Spanish Onion to play poker.  I don’t know why Guido and I bother.  We might as well open our wallets at the front door and just hand them all our cash.  Not surprisingly, after a few drinks, the conversation drifted to my high school reunion trauma. As it turned out Gary and Ted had a couple of revelations of their own to reveal.

“I think you were very honest,” said Ted sucking an olive, “and brave too.”  He threw a card and drank some wine.  “I’ll raise you.”

“Be yourself, everyone else is taken,” said Gary profoundly staring at his cards.  “Though Ted hasn’t always followed that advice,” he sniffed, “you don’t know about Mary, do you?”  He threw a card too.  “I’ll see you and raise you.”

“Ah lovely, funny, sweet, silly Mary,” said Ted.  He lifted his glass and made a toast.  “To the woman I used to go out with.”  He chewed a macadamia.

“Mary?” I said.  “The woman, you used to go out with?”

“Mary dated a gay man?” said Guido.  “What was she, headless?  I’ll see you and raise you.”

It turns out that before Ted was, well, out, and before he married Gary, he had an imaginary girlfriend. Mary cooked cordon bleu, spoke fluent Cantonese, and played the oboe.  She was quite a catch.  It’s just a pity she hadn’t actually existed and Ted wasn’t straight otherwise I reckon they would’ve been perfect for one another.  The helpful thing about Mary was that she also had an irrational fear of crowds, so didn’t get out that much and none of Ted’s friends ever got to meet her. That was convenient.  I have to say I thought the oboe was a terrific touch.

“I didn’t care if people knew I was gay, but I did care if they thought I was sad and single,” said Gary.  So Gary’s imaginary boyfriend was named Eric.  Apparently he was quite a looker.  They pumped iron together at the gym.  That is unless Gary did actually happen to be at the gym, in which case he told people Eric was an eye surgeon and was busy mending someone’s detached retina.

“When I was a little boy I had an imaginary friend,” said Guido staring into space, “his name was Jose R. Sanchez.”

“Well I didn’t see that one coming,” I said raising my eyebrows.  “Your imaginary friend had a middle name?” I asked.

“Yes, but I have no idea what it was,” said Guido. “Gimmie a break, I was only six years old.”

Just for the record I’ve never had imaginary friends.  And frankly I was beginning to feel left out.

“Perhaps Mary and Eric could adopt Jose R. Sanchez and then live an incredibly happy imaginary life together,” I said.

Later that night I lay in bed next to Guido.  I couldn’t help but think about Jose R. Sanchez.  I imagined what sort of life he might have had and whether he would have grown up to be incredibly hairy.  I wondered if he might have a man bun.  I wondered if he would cook a decent risotto and whether he’d be partial to acrobatic sex.

I reached the sad conclusion these were yet more mysteries on which I can give you no further details. But please feel free to make one up.

All of us

In the story, A Christmas Carol, Scrooge gets home on Christmas Eve and is visited by three phantoms. One is Christmas Present. His purpose is to take Scrooge all around town and prove that both the wealthy and the poor seek solace in the cheer of the company of others. He’s introduced to people who are invested in sharing with others, and being grateful for whatever they have, regardless of their means.

The great thing I’ve discovered about blogging is that there aren’t any town boundaries. On line there’s no actual material distance or time zones. Visitors check in on you. If you’re lucky they’ll read you all the way to the end of your post. Then if you’re very very lucky they might even leave a comment about what you’ve written to tell you what they think.

Over the past three years I’ve had a bunch of regular visitors who have turned out to be a happy band of followers. For them it makes absolutely no difference what colour, gender, sexual orientation, politics or religion the writer holds, as long as he or she has conviction in what they believe and holds his or her own. Of course you can’t expect to agree with all of what you read. Left or Right. Blue or Red. Straight or GAY. Maple Surup or Mayonnaise. We keep our own moral high ground over individual differences because we’re invested in reading about each other’s lives. We cast a hook when we write and then reel each other in. That band of bloggers post poems, recipes, music, writing, pictures (of all sorts), personal thoughts, hopes and sometimes their dreams.

I’m no Scrooge but I know what I’ll do if Christmas Present stops by tonight. We’ll go on a blog tour. I’ll show the phantom the true meaning of what it’s like to seek solace in the virtual company of like minded others who are grateful for what they have. Who invest a bit of time to catch up with one another, regardless of our means.

So whether you’re a reader who’s never commented, you’ve done it only once and never again, or you’re a serial visitor, I hope you’ll join the band. All are welcome.

Have a Happy Christmas everyone.