I've recently bought the ultimate festive recipe book, 'NIGELLA CHRISTMAS'. In capitals. It really is that good. A whole chapter on preparation, and on how to appear perfect when you've actually just changed out of your jammies five minutes before the guests arrive. A whole chapter on cocktails. And (my favourite), a whole chapter on Christmas baking.
I love Nigella. I want to be her friend.
Big Al used to say (before he met me, of course), that the reason he and Kylie were not married was because she hadn't yet met him.
I know, deep down, that the reason I'm not Nigella's best friend is because circumstances have kept us apart and that, if we did meet, she'd want to be my best friend too. We'd be kindred spirits. I would be the Diana Barrie to her Anne of Green Gables. The Edina to her Patsy. The C3PO to her R2D2. You get the picture.
If we were friends, we would exchange tips on the best places to buy magic knickers or which newspaper makes the best recyclable Christmas wrapping (I suspect she's a Telegraph reader).
I used to dream of being Delia Smith's god-daughter, but lost all respect for her after the debacle on the Norwich City pitch. Too much sherry at half time, methinks. So Delia has been relegated to the back of the kitchen book shelf and is only retrieved when the situation requires an emergency chocolate bread and butter pudding (probably more frequently than is healthy).
'How to Eat' and 'Domestic Goddess' led me to Nigella's Christmas book and the situation in which the Knees family found themselves this evening.
After a long day in school and office, we were tired and probably not in the best frame of mind to be pushing 2lbs of cake ingredients around a too-small bowl and most of the kitchen work surfaces.
Big Al kept glancing at the book cover and the picture of Nigella bursting over the top of her festive dress whilst holding a plate of roast potatoes (rolled in mustard powder and cooked in goose fat? I can't wait to find out). I suspect he was aware of my crush and jealous of the potential competition.
He really shouldn't have worried.
The eggs separated in the mixture and I had to crush and sieve the cloves myself so people will be picking the stalks out of their teeth until Twelfth Night. I've just realised that I forgot to switch on the oven timer and have no idea how long the cake has been cooking. I'm a disappointment to Nigella and I know it's only a matter of time before I have to hand back my apron and say a tearful good-bye.
I'll join Delia in football's Division Four and will crack open a bottle of Croft's Original.
Chocolate bread and butter pudding, anyone?
PS: PM - I know I said I would stay away from the PC and tend to my post-cake kitchen, but I'm hoping that the tidy-up fairies will take pity on me and pay a visit.