You know me: always happy to find a reason to turn my heels on the never-reducing pile of ironing, stick the dehumidifier onto its noisiest setting, and leave the house. Actually that’s a dastardly lie; if the truth be told I’m a terrible stay-at-home, cheered no end to sit in front of the fire, shouting at the radio, slipping into a reverie about having an airing cupboard, and last week even getting round to making the marmalade. I had had bowls of increasingly unhappy-looking Seville oranges lurking about the place and finally I pulled up my preserve-maker’s sleeves and set to. I won’t pretend the production of something you don’t have much taste for is particularly satisfying (I felt the same when I did my turn on Week Ending all those years ago) but fourteen jars of the stuff later at least it’s done.
And even though a sweet tooth isn’t anywhere to be found in my set of gnashers giving most of it away is nevertheless slightly galling, not least because you want the recipient of each jar to be able to taste the dreary effort that’s gone into the making of it; even if slog and quite hard work are not two of the palate’s most appreciated of flavours.
Dragging myself away from my preserving pan on Wednesday, I took part in an edition of Market Kitchen. I say took part in rather than appeared on because sitting on a high stool tasting bits of this and smidgens of that can’t really count as an appearance. I was fortunate enough to be positioned next to Lucas Hollweg, the Sunday Times food writer. A more delightful companion to munch on venison heart and smoked trout croquettes it would be hard to find. If his forthcoming book manages to reflect his innate charm then it deserves to do tremendously well. After Bambi and smoky fish we got to try some marmalades. Oh goody, I thought, my favourite. One had won a marmalade competition but to me just tasted of marmalade (and not even a sniff of effort could I discern), another was of quince (quite ok if you like red stuff on toast) and finally we snaffled bits of bread spread with a marmalade recently made for Posh Beckham to sate her pregnancy cravings. Apparently it had bits of gold leaf in it. An ingredient I can usually struggle on by without but which obviously when you’re a Beckham is as vital as salt or pepper. Unfortunately, it was quite horrid and was a jammy equivalent to wiping bits of tin foil on your fillings.
Thankfully, yesterday saw me back at home able to check on the skirting boards and banging my paella pan with a wooden spoon to ward off my neighbour’s pigeons. (Phyllis is quite the Dr Doolittle when it comes to verminous winged things; our perennial disagreement stems from my resistance to their charms being considerably more developed than hers. ) But being a media whore, who as a rule doesn’t come into contact with many punters, today I was chuffed to be allowed out of the house again and asked to accompany Paddy O’Connell to a fishmonger’s to chat about the British and their relationship with the glories of the seas. Twice in a week. Quite the professional. We recorded it this afternoon at FC Soper in Nunhead and it goes out as a tiny slice of tomorrow morning’s edition of Broadcasting House on Radio 4. Not only is working on this show always an absolute treat but doing it ten minutes’ walk from home makes it even more alluring: the job was done, farewells were said, and I was back behind my front door able to put off doing some filing in no time at all.