Excuses. Excuses. ‘Excuses’. How such a pathetic little word can conjure up a myriad of negative feelings is a mystery. Whenever I hear the term I often think of a judgemental sports teacher (not a particular sports teacher, but more of a generic sports teacher that seems to have been a miniscule but nevertheless influential character in the lives of most people) snatching a note from the hand of a notoriously un-sporty pupil:
‘Bloody hell Jenkins, what’s your excuse this time?’ the word excuse proffered in a nasal and offhand fashion suggesting that even a broken neck and debilitating bout of rickets would not be a sufficient reason to avoid cross-country.
It’s a word that teachers never utter with surprise (unless mock surprise) or sympathy (unless mock sympathy). It is invariably said with derision and followed by a scornful sigh. It was always a moment of great satisfaction when, in the occasional times when the excuse was genuine and worthy of a significant amount of pity or sympathy (car crash/illness/emergency hospital visit), the look of disdain was replaced by one of guilt. You could be sure that a whispered and reluctant apology would be forthcoming at the end of the lesson.
Anyway, what does this apparently irrelevant and potentially insightful voyage into my school days have to do with food? Well, nothing really. But I thought that rather than launch straight into my own excuses for not writing anything for the past week, I’d begin by discussing excuses themselves and putting them into a context that most of you should be familiar with, thereby getting you ‘on my side’ as it were.
So, metaphorically at least, I am now that red-faced boy at the front of the class who has arrived late wearing trainers instead of the regulation black shoes. Without his homework and no dog to blame it on. And has forgotten his sports kit, and where the sour-faced teacher may be delighting in my predicament, most of my class mates are rooting for me for they know that there must be good reasons for all of this.
And there are. There are good reasons why I’ve still not yet posted the much requested falafel recipe. There are good reasons why I’ve not been replying to your wonderful comments. There are good reasons why I’ve not yet written about the second part of our preservation adventure. There are good reasons why I’ve not relayed the story of the further foraging adventures, the wild mushroom risotto, the homemade pizzas, an apple and blackberry crumble made almost entirely with free produce, tasty cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy, supremely good coffee from the Monmouth Coffee Company and a trip to the market where I met a couple who raise their own Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs.
Starting with the falafel – we did make them. We made perfectly formed, well-spiced, nicely cooked little rounds of tasty chickpeas and some delicious flatbreads and a batch of hummus to serve them with. And then the camera ran out of battery which shouldn’t be a problem for someone with a girlfriend that is an editor of at least one photographic publication but we decided that instead of search for a charger, we’d rather eat our dinner while it was warm. No photo, no recipe.
For the second part, I’ll bracket all that together under the umbrella excuse of having other stuff on, namely learning to drive.
After putting it of for seven years, and spending a further twelve months learning how to control an automobile without damaging anyone or anything, last week I took my (second) driving test.
And I passed. I passed with flying colours and just four minors and can now drive a car, unaccompanied, on any British road. The downside was that a vast chunk of last week was taken up with an intensive driving course which somewhat negated my ability to write.
Oh, and we had my brother staying with us as well so I couldn’t well spend the remaining free time, the time when I wasn’t behind the wheel of a small car, tapping out a few thousand words for the blog. Don’t get me wrong – you are all very important to me but I know my priorities. And they shall be resumed forthwith.
In the mean time, feel free to head over to my other blog and read about things that aren’t food related. A lot of it is about the US Election and Sarah Palin.
Normal service shall be resumed with the utmost haste.