‘Guess what?’ I say to my sister, ‘I’ve made my own marmalade!’
There is a good deal of laughter from the other end of the phone and my sister goes off to share the hilarious news with Ma, who’s round there because she’s been struck down by the Mighty Cold that seems to be catching up with everyone.
‘Even I’ve never made marmalade,’ Ma mutters, sounding incredulous and impressed at the same time.
Actually, this is more about my role in the family as the opposite of a Domestic Goddess. As a former school cook, Ma’s culinary skills are pretty impressive, whereas it’s a well-known fact that if Tom didn’t cook for me, I’d live on toast and pasta. Sewing? I fell out of love with sewing in my very first lesson when I stood up and discovered that I’d stitched my square of gingham fabric very firmly to my gingham dress. My sister is the Queen of Curtains, and contrives the most amazing, lined, interlined and weighted creations. My own, much simpler, efforts are produced with a great deal of ill-temper and swearing.
The thing is, though, I’ve always believed that if I can read a book on the subject, I can do it if I want to. It’s not arrogance, truly, it’s more about being the product of one of the last grammar schools standing, where we were encouraged to believe that anything was possible if we put our mind to it. Unfortunately the downside of that legacy, for me, is that I put all the blame on myself when things don’t work out!
Dismal, overcast days and waiting for news on the writing front is a recipe that can lead to dark introspection, if I’m not careful. So this has been a week of making my own sunshine and doing rather than waiting. I’ve made fourteen jars of marmalade, picked up a tapestry that I started many years ago (the one on the left in the photo’s mine as well – now, that is boasty!), I’ve resumed my Welsh lessons, got the hang of the hula-hoop (to Groove Armada, Mags, instead of Hardcore!) and entered a poetry competition. Okay, it won’t last, especially with Novel 3 calling, but a bit of ‘can do’ has chased away the January blues and, judging from my sister and Ma’s reactions, not just for me.