After a mere nine weeks of being in lock down I find it amusing, no, scratch that, I find it fucking irritating that my Ever Patient Husband still has no idea where anything goes in the kitchen. Our trendy Joseph knives, which by the way are utterly useless because they’re blunt and always have been do not go in the knife drawer where we keep the cheap and cheerful knives I once bought from B&M Bargains at the last minute for a camping trip (remember those carefree days when we could lightheartedly skip off to the wilderness for a weekend of sausages, roasted marshmallows and nights snuggled into a warm sleeping bag in a cosy tent?). The B&M Bargain knives are really good and have always been razor sharp and a third of the price.
He has no idea which drawer the spatulas go in either. How can you live in the same house for years and not know where the fucking spatulas go? Even my kids know that.
So, now I’ve got that off my chest, we get to the lobster.
Last week, or maybe the week before, who knows anymore what day it is or even if it’s still 2020. Some time ago, EPH came off the phone to one of his many friends called Dougie. Now, as you know dear reader, we live in Scotland and most men that EPH knows appear to be called Dougie. This isn’t pronounced Duggie, it’s pronounced Doooogie if you live in Scotland. This is a very important distinction that being English, I get reminded of constantly.
”Dougie can get us a lobster for tonight!” EPH exclaimed excitedly.
”That’s nice.” I replied hoping to fuck that he didn’t expect me to cook it.
”You could make lobster Thermidor.“ He said hopefully.
My heart sank. Here we go. Yes, it’s only two months since I lost that Michelin star and left the French Five Start establishment I’d been working in and learning exactly how to make lobster Thermidor starting with a live lobster.
“That’s a good idea.” I replied. Why I didn’t say ‘why don’t you fucking make it if you‘re so bloody clever and leave me alone to be introspective and grumpy which is precisely how I’m feeling right now, but you wouldn’t know that because you never effing ask!’
Anyway, this particular Dougie has a mate who has a mate who can get hold of fresh lobster. Edinburgh is pretty much on the sea so the harbour where this mystery fisherman hangs out is about fifteen miles East of the city. EPH and Dougie arranged to meet at a Travel Lodge car park off the Edinburgh ring road and make the exchange. Dougie got wine and we got lobster. It was similar to exchanging those puppies from puppy farms in supermarket car parks, but we would be eating the creature instead of welcoming it into the bosom of our family.
EPH arrived home with a cool bag which he presented to me with glee like a cat bringing home a mouse. I peered inside and sure enough there was a live lobster with its claws secured safely by elastic bands. It didn’t look too happy, but then neither would I if I’d been exchanged in a Travel Lodge car park for a bottle of Chardonnay (a nice one, not one of those overly oaky ones).
“Right then.” I said out loud. As the fan of our blog will know, this it what I say to myself when I am about to do something I don’t want to do. The fact that I was saying out loud on this occasion meant that I really, really didn’t want to be doing what I was about to do.
Top chefs advise killing the lobster before plunging it into boiling water as it’s a more humane way of killing the creature. That seems fair enough to me and so I watched short video of Gordon Ramsay dispatching a live lobster using a big, sharp knife and placing it carefully on the cross shape that is on the back of the lobster. The irony of plunging a sharp knife into the sign of the cross on the back of a live creature was not lost on me.
Now, EPH and I have been watching Ozark. It’s on Netflix and there are three seasons, each with ten episodes which we felt would probably see us through to the end of lockdown. We watch about four or five episodes a week. If you haven’t seen it, I can highly recommend it. Marty and Wendy Byrde, a not so happily married couple, get involved in laundering money for a big Mexican drug cartel and without giving too much away, Wendy finds herself ordering the killing of a particularly unpleasant character in the series. She feels empowered, emboldened and not nearly enough remorse. A glint appears in her eye and she likes the taste of power over other people.
I stand above the lobster, knife in my hand, channeling my inner Wendy Byrde. I hold the power of life and death in my bare hands, I haven’t even had to order this killing, I need to do it myself if the family are to eat lobster Thermidor that evening. I am poised. I breath in deeply, centring myself, entering a Zen like state and then plunge the knife (one of the B&M Bargain ones) assertively into the hapless creature. It dies instantly.
Youngest Daughter has filmed the entire macabre scene on her phone.
”For God’s sake don’t ever post that on social media or show your friends!” I cry. We’d have every left wing vegetarian in the whole of Edinburgh publicly shaming us and avoiding us in the street.
”No mum, I won’t.” She says. “It was interesting though wasn’t it?”
”Hmmm.” I muse.
The now deceased lobster is placed carefully into a giant pot of boiling water and cooked for about ten minutes, ready to be turned into lobster Thermidor. EPH has studiously kept away from the entire operation and enters the fray once the beast is lifted from the pot.
”It’s not quite cooked is it?” He helpfully suggests as he faffs about with a You Tube tutorial on how to get the meat out of a lobster whilst trying to get the meat out of the lobster at the same time.
Happily, I was nowhere near the sharp knives at the time of his utterance. I can, after all channel my inner Wendy at a moments notice now. The lobster killing potency has entered my very being.
I promised you a newt. And a newt you shall get.
We have a couple of ponds in our garden and plenty of tadpoles in the spring. As you know, EPH has been working hard on his Important Projects during lockdown and our garden is looking splendid. He is now using the garden as an excuse not to do any kind of domestic chores whatsoever and is in the middle of an Important Project called ‘clearing out his man cave’. I am still cooking the family evening meal, despite working full time, except of course when there’s a BBQ in the offing in which case EPH takes charge because fire is involved and having a vagina and not a penis means that I can’t do things that involve fire (apparently). I think this works in reverse when it comes to operating the hoover.
I was in my office during the day earlier this week, working away on building the business, taking it in new an interesting directions so that we can pay our mortgage when I heard EPH husband cry,
”Bec! Come here!”
Being the loving wife I am, I make positive noises when EPH spots things in the garden because I know this makes him happy and having a harmonious marriage is very important. “Right then.” I say to myself as I get my head out of a marketing funnel and into interesting things in the garden spotting mode. I make the journey down the stairs and into the garden where Youngest Daughter and EPH are both peering intensely into the pond. I dutifully join them.
”What is it?” I ask, as we all stare at the long, thin, spotted item in the murk of the pond.
”It’s a newt.” Replies EPH with joy and wonderment.
”Is it? Are you sure it isn’t a leaf? I say matter of factly
“No, it’s a newt, I looked it up, it’s an Alpine newt. They’re not native to the UK so it must have been introduced.”
”It really isn’t” I think to myself, “it’s most definitely a leaf.” I remain silent.
EPH picks up a handy twig and starts poking the ‘newt’. I wait silently at the side of the pond staring at the obvious leaf.
”Ahh, it’s a leaf.” Says EPH. “But I definitely saw an Alpine newt, there’s definitely one in there.”
”Ok then, I’m off back upstairs to my office now.” I said as patiently as I could, thanking the universe that my extra special lady vitamins had arrived earlier in the week so I no longer felt like stabbing him. No need to channel my inner Wendy for a leaf newt.
As I write this week’s blog, EPH has just arrived home with another bag containing a live lobster and a helpful suggestion that tonight’s dinner ought to be Lobster Linguine.
”You could make lobster linguine.” He suggests.
”You could just fuck right off.” I think and then carry on typing.