My friend Fiona was a career woman. Like a lot of my friends at the time she had a great job, plenty of money, all the perks she could possibly demand… and a part-time man. There was an era of my life when the latest accessory for the woman who had everything was the no-commitment relationship. Fiona called one such relationship “Three Days”. Once a month he’d fly up from Sydney and they’d do the long weekend thing, an arrangement she was perfectly content with. Many of my female friends longed for the perfect relationship – not true love, commitment and roses, but a man who’d leave them alone to get on with their busy lives and only be around when it was convenient.
Fiona asked me around for dinner one night, at that stage she was going out with a sailor, a Rear Admiral no less, whose home port was San Francisco. How marvellous we all thought, she has a boyfriend she only sees every 6 months, very clever. She asked me what I’d like to eat; Thai, African, perhaps Japanese. She was a rather put out by my reply. At the time I was working on average 14 hours a day (a relationship with a hermit living in a cave in Estonia would have been too much for me) and I wanted bangers and mash for dinner. I think the trend for good old-fashioned home cooking, like mashed potatoes, was spawned by exhausted careerists who needed to feel looked after, just for a while, before chaining themselves to the corporate juggernaut once more.
Fiona did her best with what should have been a simple task; boil potatoes until they’re falling apart, drain, add milk, lashings of butter, salt to taste, and then go to it with the potato masher. Worked for my mum every time. Unfortunately a glossy coffee table book detailing these instructions hadn’t been released and Fiona was way out of her depth. What should have been the pinnacle of comfort food arrived on our plates as grey, lumpy soup.
Fast food, disposable music and no-commitment relationships left me feeling empty and homesick. But I didn’t have time to dwell, there was too much work to do. I was dishing out instant gratification on commercial radio, highly researched and tightly formatted for maximum monetary gain. My head was full of call-out figures, familiarity scores and burn factors, that was what music had become to me. Slow cooked food, slow music that cooks and a slowly cooking relationship were way too inconvenient. But the day after that dinner I found time to buy a potato masher.
These days my life is a lot slower and I love it. Everything has changed. Who would have thought that the career-frazzled woman I used to be would become a happily married writer? Not me. Now I have time to think and cook and write a book that’s coming along way too slowly. And that’s okay. Other things have changed too. The Hubby and I no longer eat mashed potatoes but have discovered the delights of mashed cauliflower and it’s just as delicious and comforting. Fast food no longer enters the building and I’m feeling well and truly committed after 12 years of marriage. But one thing hasn’t changed. I still have that potato masher.