I didn’t want to start this latest dispatch on a melodramatic note, but please indulge me: if you never see or hear from me again, thank you for your patience, your hospitality and, above all, for buying the books. In case you didn’t already know, at the end of this week I am jetting off to an exotic location to work on a fantastic new project. I can’t give away too much about it, so let’s just say that it is further than the corner shop and not as distant as the moon. Seriously though, it is far-flung enough for me to worry about it: the length of my journey; how I will cope with the culture when I get there; and the million and one things on my to do list I must strike off before I finally get comfortable on the airplane.
I realise I am beating around the proverbial bush here, but this is for good reason. I really cannot talk about what I am doing for the following four weeks. No, I am not becoming a guest at Her Majesty’s pleasure; and no, I am not joining the Secret Service, but nonetheless if I let the cat out of the bag I would have to kill you.
Well, maybe not. I would struggle to snap a twiglet let alone engage in fisticuffs with a grown man, but for the final time: no, I can’t tell you what’s happening. If you did inveigle me to spill the beans, I wouldn’t kill you, but I would have to give you a stern dressing down.
In all seriousness, I would love to reveal more. I have never been less than honest with you during this past year of blogging. Sometimes, I should say, to my own detriment: during these times of financial insecurity, it is difficult to admit one’s own shortcomings and personal failures. Particularly as so much of my business is tied up with my family and my heritage. They are as intrinsically linked as salt and pepper, lemon and lime, sugar and spice… to the extent that whenever I pitch my business or redraft my biography it is difficult not to stop and reflect upon the long and emotionally cobbled road that has led me to this point. Maybe I am being overly analytical, a bout of stock-taking prompted by the fact that my life is about to undergo another seismic shift, but do believe me when I tell you that there is rarely any spin to my blog entries. I don’t want to impress you, or make you think that I am someone I am not – I am merely writing about my life.
Again, friend, this is why I would like to tell you everything. As if we were sitting down for a coffee at a table in a comfortable, sun-dappled tea room and I was blethering (Nothern Irish word for chatting too much) away as usual. All I will say is that this project is very, very exciting, that it could be a big deal for me, both personally and professionally, and that I am very flattered to have been offered it. In many ways, along with my appearance at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, it represents the culmination of everything that I have been working towards all these years. I would not be so naïve as to use the term “Big Break”, as if I had just dazzled Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole with my (cough, cough) singing prowess but like I said, it is a very big deal.
Speaking of Cheryl Cole, I’ve recently fallen in love. With my brand new iPhone 3Gs. Seriously, when I’m not browsing for new downloads from the App Store, I’m updating my address book or fiddling with iTunes. You know, generally being the annoying friend who doesn’t listen to what you’re saying but focuses all their attention on their latest toy. Well, that’s me. I used to have a Blackberry, but I found pastry was getting stuck in the jog wheel, so I moved to an iPhone as its ‘wipe clean”. Really, it’s been an epiphany. I would say that it has changed my life if it didn’t sound so ridiculous. I feel like a new man, just like Alexander Graham Bell must have done when he first devised the telephone (Yes, I realise there is some debate over whether the famous Scotsman is really responsible for the invention; it’s only an analogy).
But how does this relate to Cheryl Cole, you might ask? Well, like all good gadgets, the iPhone saves you the trouble of actually using any of your digits. Thanks to voice recognition software, just think of the number of kilojoules you will save by not having to press a few buttons. However, last week when I fancied listening to some silly, feelgood pop music, I held up the receiver and clearly said, “Play Girls Aloud”. To my surprise, and presumably to his too, the iPhone starting calling my old university friend Ross Thompson. I don’t know why this happened. I can’t explain it. “Girls Aloud” does not sound remotely like “Ross Thompson”, even with my clanging stone jug of a Northern Irish accent. And, as far as I know, Ross was never a member of a pop group, let alone one comprising solely of skinny, leggy ladies. But, at univesity Ross was rather famous for his late night jamming sessions on his guitar singing a song he wrote about Sandra Bullock. ‘Sandra B, oh Sandrah B……’
It’s been a strange time of year all round. Pretty soon I’ll have to start thinking about writing my Christmas recipes, even though the festive season is just under four months away. The very thought of that makes me shudder. I detailed my loathing of the Christmas rush in last year’s blog, Novocaine And Turkeys, so I shall refrain from ranting again here. Suffice to say it’s soul destroying carting a fowl-filled bucket up and down the motorway at all hours of the morning – both ends. In my line of work, I’m away before the sun rises and home after it sets, so I do feel as if I am living the life of a vampire, albeit one who inhabits shopping centres and Aga outlets.
Further, my two new cookbooks, veg. and cake. will soon be released, but they will ship after I have jetted off to the place which I cannot talk about. Therefore, you will be in the strange position of seeing the final product before I do. Again, as I look at the four books placed together, I can’t help feeling this marks the end of a very long and tiring road, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey. It is moments like this that make months of hard work worthwhile. I’m just sorry that I can’t be there to savour that moment, that’s all.
(Incidentally, if you line up the spines, as one might do with Roger Hargreaves’ Mr Men books, a kitchen implement should magically appear before your eyes. Try it.)
There’s so much more to say, but I’m wary of taking up too much of your time. A lunch break is only so long, and you still might have the medium Sudoku to do. I could tell you all about how I recently met up with the lovely Emma Jones from Enterprise Nation TV – I travelled up to her house in Shrewsbury to do a piece on making muffins for the busy home worker – and I could fill you in about an upcoming film premiere in London that I hope to attend with someone pretty special. But time is tight, and my to do list isn’t getting any shorter.
While I’m away, I’m hoping that I can keep you up to speed by tweeting away on Twitter, and by changing my FaceBook status every now and then. At this point, however, I’m not even sure if I will have access to the Internet at all – for a man who compulsively checks his messages approximately two hundred times a day, you can imagine that this will come as quite the shock to the system. In any case, if I do go incommunicado for several weeks, don’t worry too much about me.
Well, maybe just a little bit.
Lets chat again in October