Friday 23 February 2018

Nightwatch: Cereal diner

Ailbhe Malone

Word on the street is that I am a Young Urban Professional. This would lead one to presume that I can do the things that are expected of a Young Urban Professional.

You know, get my hair cut every six weeks, own a 'good' black dress and not have cereal for lunch every other day. Well, I get my hair cut when it borders on becoming a mullet. And I prefer navy to black. And there's nothing wrong with cereal. I was quite happy to blur the edges of Being A Grown Up until one day I decided that I was going to do the most adult thing in my life to date. No, not start a pension. Throw a dinner party.

I rise early, and write a list of all I have to do that day. If Come Dine With Me has taught me anything, it's that forward planning is the key to being a serene hostess. Number one on the list: tidy the flat. I begin with fervour. No surface is left unwiped, no carpet left un-hoovered. And then I become bored. The flat isn't dirty, it's just full of stuff. If I could move the stuff elsewhere for the evening, then surely that would make my life easier, no?

Arms clutching magazines and old newspapers, I head towards my wardrobe. In it all goes, nestling snugly among jumpers and shoes. Brilliant. I go upstairs to tick 'flat tidying' off the to-do list. And hear an almighty crash. I race back downstairs to find my wardrobe in pieces on the floor. This can't be happening. I stand, in disbelief, waiting for an Acme anvil to fall on my head, and for little cartoon birds to fly around me. What kind of bedroom furnishing is allergic to sitting-room junk?

The show must go on, however, so I return to my list. Buy vegetables. Yes! I can achieve this. The menu is baked salmon fillets, green beans and mashed sweet potato. This will be wonderful, I'm sure. After a quick Google search to make sure that I know what a sweet potato looks like, I pay a visit to my local greengrocer. And am stumped. There are at least five things that could be sweet potatoes. But I am unfazed; I will simply ask the shopkeeper. Jamie Oliver does this kind of thing all the time. "Hello! Which ones are the sweet potatoes?" I cheerily ask. "They are all sweet potatoes," he replies. "These ones are from Jamaica, these ones are from Uganda, and these ones are from South Africa."

Right. Jamie hasn't prepared me for this. Warily, I ask which ones are most delicious. The answer? "All of them." Mr Greengrocer clearly has very little time for this. I hedge my bets and take one of each.

Back in the flat, I contemplate my three sweet potatoes, alongside Google images. I am a bit frightened of them, truth be told. I cover them with a tea towel and move onto a more pressing issue -- what to wear? I will obviously need my hands free for last-minute hostessing -- taking flowers and coats, and seating guests. And I can't wear anything too tight as I will be too full of tasty food. If only I lived in the 70s, I could wear a moomoo, that would be ideal. Unfortunately, that is not an option. I rummage through the newspaper and bits of wood and grab a top. Or, at least I think it's a top. I can't tell. The flat is suddenly in total darkness.

There has been a power cut. OF COURSE. Why wouldn't there be? It makes perfect sense that my evening should be as inconvenient as possible. And since we've got an electric cooker, there go any chances of making dinner. I sit in the pile of newspapers and dead wardrobe and feel very sorry for myself.

My guests phone me, "We're just outside, will you let us in?" What can I do? I have three terrifying sweet potatoes of varying ethnicity, a room full of junk and sticks, and no power. I do, however, have milk. And Cheerios. And guests to entertain. Cereal and wine it is then. Looks like being a grown up will have to wait for a while longer.

Irish Independent

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