Sinead Ryan: 'Biggest drama in theatre is getting to loos'
I was helping out last week at my amateur dramatic society's production of 'Grease'.
My job - dressed as a Pink Lady resplendent with fuchsia wig and satin pink jacket - was to 'sell up' at the interval; point people toward the popcorn and sweets, flog raffle tickets and programmes - all necessary extra income to fund local AmDram, which I've been involved with for many years.
The show was staged in the local community hall but as I stood there be-bopping punters toward the money-generating stuff, a queue formed to ask me where the loos were.
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No problem - out that door, down that corridor, on the left.
When the queue began to snake back into the room I realised the perennial problem of womanhood ... just two cubicles for a room holding 300 people.
The blokes, naturally, zipped (and unzipped) in and out in a jiffy, while some of the ladies inevitably missed the second act's opening number.
It's such a basic thing, right? But there's no denying we ladies take just that little bit longer so it would make sense for venues to recognise that when designing their facilities.
The fragrant Joanna Lumley has begun a campaign called 'More Loos' for British theatres - although beautiful, many were built in Victorian times when indoor plumbing itself was a novelty. Our own Abbey Theatre has also been criticised recently for its lack of loos for women, especially as more of us go to the theatre than men, a situation it claims to be rectifying. It's not the only one.
It really shouldn't be that difficult in this day and age to spend a few euro so the rest of us can spend a penny.
Mum knows best when it comes to cooking skills
Despite the popularity of the celebrity chef, and the fact that most professional restaurant chefs still seem to be men, it's at home that most of us learn our cooking skills, and mainly from our mothers.
My own mum has her collection of 'proper' recipe books, but most of the dishes she made during my childhood came from an old smudged and well stained diary, dated 1974, in which she jotted down ingredients, methods and recipes cobbled together from friends, neighbours and stuck-in newspaper clippings, yellowed and crinkled with age, for meringues, chicken pot dishes and 'exotica' like curries, pasta and other foreign dinners.
She is a great cook and I'm afraid I was a pretty poor student. It wasn't until I left home and had to fend for myself that I picked it up the trial-and-error way and now have a scribbled cook book of my own, which I return to far more often than Nigella, Jamie or even Darina.
So I was sad to see the results of a study from Safefood, conducted by a variety of universities, which revealed that children are no longer learning basic cooking skills at home.
Many adults surveyed remembered being given cooking 'jobs' when they were kids, or even preparing entire meals for their family. Dinner was a combined effort.
These days, busy lives and two working parents, not to mention the massive array of foodstuffs in supermarkets, means that even when we do cook, it's often with pre-prepared ingredients and a few fresh additions thrown in. Just 6pc reported only making all meals from scratch with raw, fresh ingredients.
So, is adding a jar of ready-made tomato sauce to pasta you've boiled and chicken you've fried, cheating?
What about using a curry sauce or powder, instead of getting out the pestle and mortar and grinding down coriander seeds and garam masala? Surely that's OK?
Cooking is one of life's basic skills, and it would be great it if was a mandatory school subject. It leads to better health, less obesity and dietary balance. Mum said so.