I accidentally created the best strawberry jam in the history of the world by misreading the recipe.
Two years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of making my own jam, and would have scoffed at anyone who peddled the yawn-worthy line that homemade tastes better. But, unfortunately, it turns out they were right. And jams and chutneys are a really good way to use up left over fruit before it goes off. In all honesty, I tend to make it because I don’t know what else to do with the seen-better-days strawberries in the fridge, and because anything that can be slathered on toast is welcome in my house. But most importantly, it makes you feel smug, and I love feeling smug.
I have been quiet of late. Which may be seen as inadvisable bearing in mind I’ve just started a blog that I hope will ascend me to heights of adulation and adoration. Starting this blog had a strange, not totally unexpected consequence: people found out my mother had died.
For me, the purpose of learning to bake and cook was to give me something to do in the wake of my mother’s literal wake. Someone told me that in the first 12 months of a bereavement, anything goes: literally any response is legitimate. My response was then, I suppose, underwhelming to those around me. I just sort of, continued. I went back to work pretty much straight away (in fact I traveled back down form Newcastle to London for a prior work commitment in between the death and the funeral), I didn’t turn to drink, I didn’t have a breakdown, I didn’t beat my fists on my chest in despair. I know my father worried about me, and I imagine so did my close friends. I was asked (with the absolute best of intentions) whether I was ‘taking it too well’. I wasn’t.
My Mother died in February last year. She was a lioness, and my best friend. She drove me up the wall, and I adored her.
Once I’d delivered the eulogy, and dealt with the myriad of legal and financial admin that goes hand-in-hand with life and death, I was twiddling my thumbs. I became fractious and didn’t like having time alone with my thoughts: it is hardly surprising in retrospect that it is easier to dispose of a loved one’s personal affects than it is the shock that they are no longer on the end of the phone. It can be very, very difficult to stop yourself dwelling on the future that now demonstrably willneverbe. Which is unhealthy and stupid and categorically Not What Mummy Would Have Wanted. But the thoughts persisted.