1 February We are off to see Lucy in Nottingham today. While she cooks us dinner, we are planning to go and see The King’s Speech. I’m beginning to worry that we might actually be breaking the law by not having yet seen it, since everyone else in the whole of western civilisation is talking knowledgeably about Colin Firth’s sensitivity and the amazingly accurate historical detail, blah, blah, and I am feeling left out. I too want to join in discussions about Colin Firth’s sensitivity.
I am not a good passenger, but all is going well until we reach Nottingham city centre. As usual, I panic and squeal melodramatically as Mr Young lurches his way across lanes while negotiating a complicated one-way system. “Argghh!” I shriek, gripping the edge of my seat and slamming my foot onto my imaginary brake pedal. “Oh, do stop making that noise!” he says irritably. “You’re putting me off!” “Watch out!” I shriek again, even though I know he is driving perfectly well and that we are in no danger. Mr Young heads into the nearest multi-storey carpark. It's miles away from Lucy’s flat, but we are both aware that we don’t have a choice; we either walk a couple of miles or Mr Young abandons me – no doubt still shrieking and futilely foot-slamming – in the nearest layby.
The cinema is so full that there are only two seats left, both in the very front row. We have to wedge ourselves as far down in our chairs as possible so that we can stare up at the screen, but even then it is still difficult to take the whole picture in at once. At this close range it is very hard to avoid Colin Firth’s Oscar-nominated sensitivity, especially when every pore on his sensitive chin is magnified to the size a grapefruit. But at least we’ve now seen it, and yes, it really was amazingly good and Colin Firth’s sensitivity made me cry. And we won’t be guilty of treason any more.
We arrive at Lucy’s flat with slightly blurred vision, stiff necks and popcorn kernels stuck to our fronts (if you are forced to adopt a supine position in a cinema seat an unavoidable consequence is that you tend to miss your mouth far more often. Just thought you might like to know.).
She cooks us crabcakes, risotto and a pavlova. I am immensely impressed. When I was the same age, I could only cook scones. This was because I liked scones, and so couldn’t really see the point of wasting my time by making anything else. Admittedly, it was hardly a dish that lent itself to creating a three course meal, but I can’t remember caring that much at the time. Too busy eating scones.
2 February Mr Young is trying to lay down the law again. Bless. He tells me that he doesn’t think I should write about him so much in these columns. “But why?” I ask him. “Because it’s shouldn’t just be about me,” he says. “People will get bored if you talk about me all the time.” “I don’t just talk about you,” I say. “Don’t be so bigheaded. In any case, I know for a fact that my reader loves it when I talk about you. You are a figure of fun, the bumbling husband character, the target for my rapier wit.” “Ah,” he says. “You mean the Terry to your June?” “Yes,” I say. “The Ernie to my Eric, the Manuel to my Basil, the Baldrick to my Blackadder. The Laurel to my Hardy.” “Ha!” he says. “Well, that doesn’t put you in a good light, does it? Hardy was the fat one!” I look at him pointedly in a way that I hope conveys the fact that making fat jokes is certainly not the sign of a rapier wit. But he is too busy chuckling to himself to notice.
3 February I am shopping in Waitrose and bump into my sister. She tells me about a new moisturiser which all the beauty magazines are rhapsodising over. “It’s called Baby Bottom Butter,” she says. ‘Waitrose Baby Bottom Butter. It’s only £2 a jar. I’ve got some and my skin feels great.” I insist that she takes me over to the relevant aisle immediately so that I can stockpile. But the shelves are empty. Apparently there’s been a boom in Baby Bottom Butter. The market has bottomed out. I wanted to get to the bottom of this, so I had the cheek to ask an assistant. (Oh, come on! Surely you can’t expect me to resist?) “No, madam,” he said. “We’ve completely sold out. And I don’t know when the next delivery is coming in. It’s been very popular.” “Could you reserve one for me?” I ask, smiling in what I have always believed to be an endearing way. “No, sorry,” he says. He looks at me suspiciously. Perhaps my endearing smile is bordering on the manic. (It can happen.) “I could bribe you,” I say. I am only half-joking. He takes a step back and looks horrified. I almost expect him to call Security. “Only joking!” I say, adjusting Endearing Smile to Reassuring Smile. But it’s too late. He is clearly appalled and I have probably completely blown any chance I might ever have to own cheeks as soft and plumply smooth as a baby’s bottom.
Although I could always resurrect my scone-making skills.
As I recall, my cheeks were definitely smoothly plump during that period of my life.