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Room of one's own: Sophie White celebrates the small irritations

Medicinal moaning is essential, says Sophie White. If we can't rant about the little things, the bigger things would utterly crush us


Red Curry with pea and haddock

Red Curry with pea and haddock

Red Curry with pea and haddock

Obviously, there's no easy way to be weathering our current situation and, of course, even less so if you are in the front-line trenches of the essential services. But for the purposes of this column, let's park the far graver issues and focus, instead, on some very shallow problems. It's easier, we can all agree, to rant about the petty things than to actually contemplate any of the real tragedies of the last few months.

If the pandemic has a tag line, it's probably: 'Alone, together'. I propose we amend this to 'A moan, together'. Sure what unites us better than a communal bitch? And so let's whinge together about the petty stuff to distract us from the far more terrifying fallout.

One of the low-grade struggles of recent months is that everyone I know has been on extreme ends of a spectrum of isolation: either they are completely alone, or else they are so covered in children at all times that not having a toddler saying your name a thousand times an hour is just a distant memory. If only I could hand over just some of my abundant company, and my solo friends could lend me a little of their blessed solitude... but there's no happy medium.

I've had to get more creative to carve out a scrap of time to myself in this little house that I am so lucky to have. The problem is that anywhere I happen to be instantly becomes exponentially more attractive to my sons and husband, and they flock to me, no matter how unwelcoming I am.

I tried skulking around the bins, the gross junk pile in the corner of the garden - all the most unpleasant areas of the house, but still they come. "I just want to listen to a bloody podcast in peace!" I want to shout but, of course, I don't.

As much as I'm seeking solitude, they are seeking reassurance - well, maybe not Himself, who just doesn't want to be parenting on his own.

Finally, I hit upon a solution: Bluetooth headphones and a shower cap mean that I can stand in the shower, listening to my podcast, and enjoy a few blissful minutes of me-time. If I close my eyes, I can even pretend there aren't two or three children in the room with me, screaming my name over and over.


Room to cook is also a thing of the past, but if I'm making something my kids don't like, I have the double bonus of both cooking in peace and them not stealing bites from my plate. This fish curry is the perfect child repellent and is delicious.


Red Curry with pea and haddock

Serves 4

You will need:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons good-quality red curry paste

1 butternut  squash, peeled and diced

800ml stock

2-4 tablespoons Greek yoghurt

4 haddock fillets

Two big handfuls of frozen

Asian-style veg

80g frozen peas

Rice, to serve

Chopped fresh coriander, to serve

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C, 395°F, Gas 6. Heat the olive oil in a large pot and sweat the diced onions, the sliced garlic and the sliced fresh ginger. Add the red curry paste and the diced butternut squash, and cook until the squash is slightly softened. Pour in the stock, and then simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Blend until smooth, then stir in the Greek yoghurt to get a nice saucy consistency. Set aside.

2 Put the haddock fillets on a tray and bake them for about 10 minutes, or until they are firm and cooked through. Add the handfuls of Asian-style frozen veg and the frozen peas to the sauce you set aside earlier. Heat gently. Put the cooked haddock fillets and the rice in a large bowl, pour over the sauce and sprinkle with some chopped fresh coriander.

Sunday Indo Life Magazine