This morning I am making a pot of chicken and vegetable soup for my convalescing neighbour. I learned to make wonderful motherly Jewish chicken soup from Claudia Rodin’s book on Jewish cookery. The trick is plenty of chopped fresh parsley. Chicken soup is something I make perhaps once a month and I have several variations, but all of them from Claudia Rodin. Simon Schama has pointed out that: “Claudia Roden is no more a simple cookbook writer than Marcel Proust was a biscuit baker. She is, rather, memorialist, historian, ethnographer, anthropologist, essayist, poet …”
Two of Una’s friends, a lesbian couple madly in love, are coming for Sunday lunch. Lovers make me gloomy because I am not in love myself and new lovers eat very little. They will gaze into one another’s eyes and make private jokes and toy with the roast lamb, tell us that they can fit into one another’s clothes, exhibit their twinned tattoos, entwine their feet under the table, go on and on about being synchronized in multi-orgasmic bliss while the rest of us take second helpings of ciabatta and talk about the weather . So I shall give them a light green couscous and some grilled chicken and save the lamb for the loveless and hungry. Una is a romantic and wants to create a magnificent chocolate souffle with crimson rose petals scattered on top. I tell her that women who are in thrall to lust do not eat. She pauses to consider thisand says they have not yet adopted a dog. That might mean they are not committed to any notion of lasting love because the parenting of dogs is a consolidating couple activity.
I lie in the bath and think about Step 6 and my obdurate hanging onto unhelpful attitudes and habits. There is another quotation stuck up on the tiled wall, with the ink running. I should probably stick up definitions of the word ‘progress’ because sometimes I feel I am stumbling backwards.
“AA is not a plan for recovery that can be finished and done with. It is a way of life, and the challenge contained in its principles is great enough to keep any human being striving for as long as he lives. We do not, cannot, outgrow this plan.” – Alcoholics Anonymous (3rd ed.), p. 311