This header is, unusually for me, quite literal. We have a glut of avocados and I have made guacamole, avocado starters with prawns, avocado dip with Roquefort, avocado halves with lime juice and black pepper, avocado and cream cheese sandwiches, avocado segments with spring onions, avocados with rocket pesto. And about 50 other stranger than strange concoctions. But can anyone really have too much ripe creamy perfect avocado?
My writing project is crawling along at a snail’s pace and driving me crazy. I keep reminding myself what Thomas Mann said: ‘A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people’. And if I don’t get this project completed by the time we go on holiday next week I shall have to take it along. Sit and sweat over my dreadful sentences and fact-clotted paragraphs instead of wandering around admiring wild flowers.
This morning I got up early and sat rewriting and rewriting for an hour — but as the sun came up, quick as a thunderclap, the way it does in Africa, I saw troupes of francolin and guineafowl running about on the fields near the cottage and went out to look at them. No babies yet but so lovely to see wild birds unafraid of humans. They were very curious and came as near to me as they dared. Heavenly, and the turgid writing just had to wait.
Today I am making a vegetable soup for elderly people with tuberculosis who come along to the clinic and have to wait all day in the cold and wind. They need hot food and I have been delegated. Needless to say I want to make an unbelievably good peppery watercress soup because I have a bucket of fresh watercress, but rib-sticking food is called for so I am doing an old-fashioned Scottish Cock-a-Leekie soup witha whole chicken, a chopped marrow bone, carrot, onion and plenty of barley as well as soaked prunes. Not everyone likes prunes in soup but these are not obvious and will help the digestive juices flow, she said indelicately. It is a classic Scottish Burn’s Nicht soup and I will never mess with the recipe. In the bad old days I threw in some whisky but in truth most dishes that taste good with liquor really taste better without it.
And then I have to help organise the local farmers’ market tomorrow and write leaflets and rinse armfuls of bok choy. I love doing this, it is only in sobriety I realised that I could have spent my adult life quite happily peeling vegetables and stirring the stock pot in a country restaurant.
But instead I am a writer because I cannot not write and so at some point I shall have to stop making soup and reading/writing blogs and talking food politics with stall holders and painting a water colour of a graceful green and white leek suspended above scrubbed oaken table with a crumpled checked yellow napkin and a chameleon in a crisp white wig. And go back to working out what is wrong with the last 30 pages of my text.