How A Blog Found Its Name

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When I first left home, nearly ten years ago, my mother gave me a recipe book. It was a dense, wire-bound book filled with crisp lined pages, into which she had sifted seventeen years of motherly love and fifty years of stirring, baking, chopping, burning, swearing, testing, tasting... It was filled with the flavours of home. How to roast a chicken and make Yorkshire puddings from scratch without having a nervous breakdown. How to throw together macaroni cheese when it’s grey and miserable outside and all you want is something simple, delicious and artery-destroying (it took me a long time to come to terms with how much butter goes into a cheese sauce. It’s a LOT).
 My favourite recipe was the one for apple pie:
Go to Marks and Spencer. Buy the nicest apple pie they have. Bake and serve with cream or ice cream. Delicious!
And, after all of her lovingly handwritten instructions, there were pages and pages of empty lines, just waiting for me to come along and fill them with my own tentative steps towards domestic goddess-ness. The sheer amount of blank space was slightly intimidating – did she actually expect me to be able to cook that many things? For the first year after I left home all I made were cheese toasties and Supernoodles. Ok, sure, I was amazing at making them (the addition of a wee bit smoked sausage makes anything taste better) but I couldn’t exactly write that down next to my nana’s trifle recipe.

More than that, though, those empty pages held the promise of all the things that were yet to come in my life. My mum sent me sailing off into the world, her first born, her wee girl, and in that book were not only the familiar comforts of my childhood but also an acknowledgement that I had a life to live away home, away from her. A whole world of measuring and mixing and whisking to discover for myself.

But the very best bit? Tucked away all through the recipe book were poems. Moving poems, funny poems. I would be flicking through recipes and then suddenly, in between the Victoria sponge and the yoghurt cake, there would be the wise, witty words of Spike Milligan. Or Wendy Cope would bubble up unexpectedly while I was trying to remember which layer comes first in a lasagne.
To my bitter shame, that recipe book - which came with me to every new flat, even to France for a year (when I added warm croissants and expensive butter to my repertoire), and ended up covered in bits of flour and sticky fingerprints and who-knows-what-the-hell-that-is - was lost at some point the last time I moved. I know. Every time I think about it, I want to cry. I was in denial about it for a while (like two years), but eventually I grew some balls and told my mum, who immediately agreed to write me a new one and didn't even try to make me feel bad about losing the first one. Legend. She hasn’t started it yet, but when she does, I’m hoping the poems will still be there in version two.
If you haven’t read any of Wendy Cope’s poems, you should.They’re wonderful. They’re hilarious, and obviously therefore not “proper” poetry, but so pithy and so true. Lately I have found myself pondering one of her poems in particular. It’s called ‘Being Boring.’ At first I didn’t get it at all – gardening? Not going to parties?? Bo-ring!
But since moving in with the Hubster and getting married, I think I’m starting to see what she’s on about. A calm place to shelter from the storm (and in my life, right now, the seas are pretty rough). A safe mooring. And when it came time to choose a name for this blog, that phrase was what I finally came up with after everything else I thought of was already taken just seemed to fit.
I do still go to parties, though. I mean, I’m not a total loser.
I’ll leave you with Ms Cope’s wise words on Loss.
The day he moved out was terrible -
That evening she went through hell.
His absence wasn’t a problem
But the corkscrew had gone as well.

All the beautiful images of Kyle baking are by my lovely friend Kristen of What Kristen Saw

5 boats moored

  1. You are a beautiful writer. I'm so sorry that you lost such a gorgeous gift but yay for your fabulous mum making you another. (would she make me one while she's at it? The women in my family have many qualities but cooking is not one of them.)

  2. So beautiful, and my heart breaks a little that it was lost. Something tells me you'll appreciate version two even more though.

  3. Thank you so much ladies. My mum read this and was like, whoops, better start writing that recipe book! I still sometimes dream that I'll find the original one again, but since we've moved flats in the interim it's probably unlikely. *sad face*

    Version two will be kept under lock and key!

  4. Now I feel like a bad mother! Cookery books for the girls (and in fact the boys) starting asap! Also ordered up the Wendy Cope poetry book. Job done!