The small child has a cold. Her nose has been wiped, she’s been all Calpol-ed up and put to bed but has come back downstairs to torment me. She adopts the guise of a languishing Victorian model and drapes herself along the sofa. ‘Go back upstairs. NOW.’ I say. My temper is short, like the day that is in it. She ignores me and leafs through a picture book, (The Sniffles for Bear, which is somewhat fitting). She sniffs, theatrically. I try to get on with my work but the sniffs become more pronounced. I look up and wordlessly she points to her nose, her eyes wide and sorrowful. ‘I can’t speak properly,’ she says, in perfectly formed words. ‘It’s good that it’s night-time then, and your bed beckons,’ I reply.
My children have not been their best selves this week. Not once, have we left the house without histrionics. Is there a worse thing to hear at five to nine than ‘I can only find one shoe’? They say this blithely, swinging from a bannister while Himself and I upend furniture and use a brush to hoke out trainers from under the sofa. (That’s me obviously, because I am so vertically challenged, with arms insufficiently long for reaching).
Children have a marvellous way of making you feel as though you have failed spectacularly at life. Mine are currently ill-tempered and most un-eager to please. Dinners are shoved away and declared unfit for consumption. I don’t think the multi-vitamins from Boots are going to cut it and I fear the onset of rickets in these gloomy mid-winter days.
This evening I try a dish that my friend assures me they will eat: it is a stalwart in her house. So I duly buy the boneless sea bass filets from Sainsbury’s despite LSB looking unconvinced. This evening I set to coating it in seasoned flour. It makes a satisfying crackle as I lay it, skin side down in the pan. Since I’ve run out of chips and the children have taken agin boiled potatoes, I cook pasta and steam some asparagus. I finish the fish with a knob of butter, and dab a little on the fusilli twirls and vegetables. It is utterly delicious: a poem on a plate. I say to LSB that this rivals the fish dishes in Ginger on Hope Street and had the lovely Simon cooked it up for me there I would have happily paid £18 for it. Alas my children are less enamoured. The small child normally loves fish but this is ‘NOT THE NORMAL ONE. GET ME THE NORMAL ONE’ she sfumes. She refuses to eat the pasta until all evidence of fish is removed from her plate. The older child at least tries it but her disappointment is most apparent. LSB is not keen on fish either: unless it’s from the Sea Fry on Rosetta. He is going out later, so is drinking tea and eating a Kit Kat while the dreary repast takes place. ‘This is why men do overtime,’ I say, ‘to avoid coming home to this shit-show of an evening.’ He shakes his head and smiles but since he’s headed to the Northern Lights to rendez-vous with his buddies, he retains his capacity for goodwill. Mine has long since evaporated, as I wish would the smell of the fish.
The worst thing is that they finish at twelve tomorrow and are off until the eighth of January. Yes, you read that right. If you have any ideas for nutritious meals that I won’t have to eat in triplicate don’t be afraid to share.