Trying To Do The Right Thing

This has not been a good week in the Warrior household. I’ve had one of those weeks where things fall apart big time, not helped by the fact that I can’t escape.

Being back at work doesn’t help as teaching online makes my head spin, and not in a good way. Looking back on it, what makes everything extra annoying is I was actually trying to do the right thing, but every time it back fired.

On top of the whole Corona horror, Rob’s job has become a worry as his place has to make a load of redundancies and he is in that worrying stage of should I jump or should I wait until I am pushed? As the the voluntary redundancy offer is a good one, but he would be unlikely to find a job as good as the one he has at the moment.

This doesn’t help his anxiety and depressions AT ALL, and I am sympathetic, of course I am, but whatever I say is the wrong thing and he has got extremely beady eyed about all of the (many) Amazon packages I am having delivered. Every time one arrives he will quiz me on what is in the box, why I needed it, and how much it has cost.

I am reduced to smuggling boxes in up my jumper because it drives me INSANE having to justify my purchase of face cream when a) I had run out b) it’s my own money I worked hard for and I’ve paid all of my proportionate share of the joint bills and c) not buying face cream is not going to save us if he does lose his job.

It’s all part of his illness, of course, and I know it is his way of controlling things, but it has caused a number of arguments.

The most recent was one of my first Trying to do the Right Thing.

Daughter is 12 this week and I wanted to make her birthday as special as possible in lockdown. I decided to HOME MAKE her a lovely birthday cake. Conscious that Son gets upset if I make cakes because they have egg in and he is allergic, I decided to make him some lovely strawberry tarts.

One of the ingredients I needed was custard (Bird’s Custard was invited by Mr Bird for his wife who was allergic to egg as well). Off I went to my lap top to Ocado to edit an order we’d booked a while ago. ‘I’ll get a few packets,’ I thought to myself. ‘They’ll last for ages and we all love custard.’

I thought they seemed a bit expensive but put it down to people stock piling. The delivery arrived and cue a number of irate texts from Rob. (This is how we communicate when we argue, always via text) He was LIVID! Why? I asked. CUSTARD! He replied.

It’s for Son! I protested, an alternative to birthday cake. I’m doing the right thing!

FIFTEEN PACKETS? He roared from downstairs.

Turns out there’s three in every pack

Ahem. Ah yes. It would seem I hadn’t ordered five sachets, I’d ordered FIVE PACKS OF THREE.

Stupid Ocado and their tiny writing.

I have been getting increasingly worried about the children spending so much time in their rooms. Son has grown up a bit and is happy to throw his old parents a bone by popping in to chat with us every now and then. (I am still finding it difficult to get my head around how big and hairy he is, I still think of him as being around 8 and Daughter 6. Will I ever accept them as adults I wonder?) But Daughter rarely leaves her room.

I read somewhere you have to just force teenagers to take part in family activities and (hopefully) they end up enjoying them. I’ve had some success with this in the past when dragging them on walks, so I thought I’d do the Right Thing and make them pay Trivial Pursuit after dinner – all of us one big, happy family.

It did not go well. They moaned the whole way through and Daughter made it clear she couldn’t find our company less interesting. I found myself getting increasingly manic so I ended up playing a mad cross between Blanche DuBois and a Red Coat at Butlins saying ‘Isn’t this FUN!?’ a lot.

In a particularly enthusiastic moment I leaned forward and bounced my head off Rob’s shoulder managing to snap my glasses AGAIN but this time with no super glue to repair them. As I had done before, I wedged the lens back in and hoped for the best.

The next day, again doing the Right Thing, I insisted we all went for a healthy walk in the LOVELY SUNSHINE because they were going to TURN INTO MUSHROOMS if they spent any longer ROTTING AWAY IN THEIR ROOMS IN THE DARK!

So off we jolly well went and it was a gorgeous day. I made everyone take big breaths of the fresh air and Dog bounded around happily. Then it happened, as I was gazing up in the air yelling ‘Look, everybody! Look, darling! Is that a kestrel?’ I walked into a lamp post and the lens fell from my broken glasses’ frame and shattered into a million pieces on the floor.

Snap and crash

As I can’t wear my contact lenses to work as I’d left my monocle at school, I had to make an appointment with the Optician which was bizarre as we were both in masks – him a proper medical one – me a dust mask Rob had unearthed from the garage. He insisted I wear it as being ‘Fifty, fat and asthmatic’ I was at high risk. Thanks, Rob. I thought.

Daughter is clearing sailing into the choppy waters of tweenage hell. When I have asked her about whether she is looking forward to turning 12 her response was a monologue on how birthdays were a human construct, and she was only 12 because society had decided a year was 365 days and really she had done nothing by being 12, if anyone should be celebrated it should be me for giving birth. When I asked if that meant I got the presents and cake, it apparently did not.

Despite her cynicism and lack of excitement I had enough for the both of us, and decided to embark on making a cake. Regular readers may remember I am not a good cook – at all – and past experiences with cake making have not been positive ones.

Undaunted, though, I decided to take on the challenge and used Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Victorian Sponge recipe. This was a bold move for me but I was doing the Right Thing, I reassured myself.

I had the usual series of incidents which included a spoon breaking…

The incompetent breaking of a number of eggs which didn’t seem to crack – they either exploded, sending fragments of shell across the entire kitchen, or collapsed inwards so an odd membrane slicked over the yolk and white which looked awful.

Eventually, everything was mixed, transferred to pre-greased cake tins, and put in the oven for 20 minutes or so. When I got them out of the oven I was delighted. They looked great! A little burned, but hey ho – at least they’d risen beautifully. Then I read Hugh’s advice to do the following…

Hmm that sounded a bit odd, never heard anyone say drop the cake tins to stop it sinking before. And they looked quite good already…

No! I should do the Right Thing! I thought. I will do as Hugh says. So as instructed I lifted the tins and dropped them (I hope you’re not doing that on the work surface! Rob yelled at me. No I’m bloody not! I’m not stupid! I replied).

And the result?

Both of them SUNK! Immediately! I was fuming! I will never trust Hugh again.

Sob! My poor sunken cakes!

Thanks to Hugh ruining my cakes I had to make it again and I am pleased to say it came out beautifully. (This time I did NOT ‘drop them on the floor from a ruler-length height’)

Isn’t it beautiful?

I filled it with a combination of whipped cream and strawberries and it worked really well.

Whipping cream proved to be an absolute nightmare. I was sitting with a whisk and a bowl full of cream for about seven years this morning and nothing was happening.

In despair, I wondered whether I was using the wrong cream. ‘Hey Siri,’ I called to my phone, ‘can you whip double cream?’

Siri sent me to this link which reassured me that you could use double cream. Great, I thought. A video telling me how to do this properly, because whatever I’m doing now is not working.

Have a look. I love the instructions here. I was expecting a long, detailed explanation but got this woman saying ‘just whip it’.

It worked though. But in the time it took to thicken I could have got pregnant, given birth and raised another teenager.

And Daughter’s response? ‘It’s a bit sweet,’ she said before she returned to her room, family time over.

A few months ago Daughter’s favourite thing was the MacDonald’s breakfast and we never seemed to get there in time as we had work or school. So for her birthday I got the MacDonald’s recipe for sausage and egg McMuffin and ordered all the ingredients.

I left her to sleep in as long as she liked in the morning and when I saw the first stirrings of life I leaped into her room, flung open the curtains and declared we were ‘going out! For a MacDonald’s breakfast!’

We got into the car and drove round the garden up to the kitchen window where Rob was waiting and served the most glorious home made sausage and egg McMuffin. The whole car smelled like MacDonald’s – it was glorious!

Daughter wasn’t quite as impressed as I was, but did eat the Muffin (taking out the egg first as she doesn’t like eggs any more) and said it was nice. Result! My brother thought it was a genius idea and I’ve sent him the MacDonald’s recipe. My only regret is I didn’t remind Rob we had hash browns in the freezer.

I just texted Daughter to ask was she ready to go out to dinner at Pizza Express (our usual birthday venue) and her response? ‘I don’t mind as long as we are not going in the car to to “drive there”‘ (!!) Cheeky mare.

The absolutely BRILLIANT news is my book is still – to my complete astonishment – selling. Only a copy every few days, but I’ve had some lovely reviews and the fact that people are exchanging money for the contents of my head is bloody marvellous.

You can buy it here if you fancy it!

Stay healthy and strong.

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