Today’s been the hottest of the year so far here – 38°C, which is 100°F.
Having spent most of yesterday in the kitchen perfecting the whorehouse burgundy chutney, I’m used to heat. You know what they say. And I can stand it. I drip a little. I also lose all sense of time, and forgot completely I was supposed to go for drinks at a friend’s. Luckily, she gave me a call and I whizzed round complete with an apology jar of chutney and a jar of redcurrant jelly. Still, everyone else was very glamorous and I was hot and sweaty. I guess that’s what happens when you spend all day either digging things up or boiling things.
The weather at the moment reminds me of the Fast Show Channel Nine weather, with the wonderful Caroline Ahearne.
I was also reminded of the fabulous ‘What did I say, Roy?’ character, complete with huge glasses and great perm. She’s obviously a precursor to Judith and Peter, two of my favourite Come Fly With Me characters, even down to the ‘Stop showing off!’ lines.
So I spent most of today inside too – in preparation for a party tomorrow. I’m taking a Mississippi Mud Pie because when I made it for the Eurovision party, the sauce was almost inhaled by Deb and Nancy, so it seemed like a winner. It’s good, but a bit too chocolatey for me! In fact, it’s been a week of cakes, what with the fete to raise money for various dog charities. I took five cakes that I just pulled out of the freezer. That’s what I love about hard work today. It makes hard work tomorrow unnecessary, and you can look like a miniature Delia Smith without being all floury and sweaty. I’d made a batch last year when I had a glut of eggs when Steve and Jake were away. I think I’d made eight or ten or so. In fact, it must have been more because I’ve been pulling them out of the freezer ever since. Lemon drizzle cake. Orange and Lemon cake. Ginger cake. Cherry cake. Coconut cake. A sponge for a giant jaffa cake. Coffee cake. Chocolate Cake. I’d done the works and I’ve been doling them out ever since.
If I may say so, the coffee cake was supreme. I pulled out some of last year’s frozen walnuts, mixed up some buttercream and ended up with a huge coffee and walnut cake – not quite such a usual sight in France. I’d gone in to get a piece of cake, having spent the day serving in the bar, and when I asked what I should have, a lady recommended the coffee and walnut. It looked so good that I didn’t think it was mine and I was jealous of my own cake. Then it sank in that it was my cake and I realised what it must be, every day, to know me.
I jest of course.
Cake-making is in my blood, I think. It’s my Nana’s fault. She’s a cake-baker extraordinaire. She never skimps on ingredients and her Mary cake, her coconut cake and her cherry cake are beyond comparison. I have a lot to live up to. Also, I don’t have her magnificently weird cold hands. She would have made an excellent patisserie chef. Her fingers are always icy.
I wish I had a photo of that cake, but it was eaten before photos could be taken. That’s a good sign.
I’m also taking potato salad. This will be an entirely home-made production with my own onions and potatoes. In fact, only the oil in the mayonnaise is bought in. Fruits of my labours.
I did venture outside for a little while, but it was so very hot it was like being under a hairdryer and I was sleepy in minutes. The good thing about old French houses is that they regulate temperature pretty well if you keep doors and windows and shutters closed. It was a mild 21° inside, despite le chaleur.
I’m not really one to comment on the heat or the cold. I always remember Peter Kay’s sketch about old people and heat, with him ending ‘Shut the F*ck Up and have a Solero!’. Whilst that might work in Manchester, I can’t remember the last 38° day we had, and all manner of warnings have gone out to French people, since 15,000 people died in the last canicule or heat wave. 15,000! That’s like my entire town and then some!
Here’s a dodgy ‘filmed off television’ video of that very sketch.
This is what I sound like, except not a man, apparently. I was quite heartened last night that my French friends said they always understand me when I speak English, and my French/English accent is ‘leger’ – this means ‘light’ or ‘slight’ which made me skip hoops. I do try. I don’t ever want to be anything but what I am, but it makes a big difference knowing that you don’t sound quite so ‘angry English’, especially when I used to have my London colleagues ringing me up to say the word ‘stuff’ – they say something that’s more like ‘staff’ – and that’s violent misuse of the ‘u’, which is an Uh, not an Ah.
I just knew. I’d get a phone call like this.
“Hey, how’s Manchester?”
“Grey. How’s London?”
“Sunny. I’m just going to put you on speakerphone…”
And thus it began. Can I say ‘stuff’? Can I say ‘bath’? Can I say ‘gooseberry’? Can I say ‘under’?
And so on.
They had a long list they liked me to recite so that they could all have a good chuckle.
Oh well. Perhaps in France I can shake off a little of the comedy value. I learned Spanish in Latin America and have a pronounced Latin American lilt and vocabulary, which causes my mainland Spain friends much amusement. I have a Brazilian Portuguese accent that makes me sound like a gangster from a telenovela. My Japanese is great because it’s unlike most other words and so therefore, learning it from a very well-spoken Tokyo lady, I just copied her exactly. The only trouble is that my Japan voice is about two octaves higher than my England voice.
I’m sure it’s all highly entertaining to everyone who ever listens to me.
Honestly, I don’t care. A little accent is a charming thing!
Anyway, if you’re in France, stay in the shade and try not to be too jealous of my cake-making skills. Tomorrow is going to be as hot as it was today, and since it’s a garden party, I might take my own parasol with me, just in case! I don’t want to be fighting for the one solitary shade tree! Who’d have thought that I’d ever sit out of the sun, having had so much rain and grey in my life? And who’d have thought that French is the only voice I have that isn’t comical to everyone listening?