Some­thing all kitchen coun­ters should have


FRI­DAY, 6.00PM: The good woman calls from the open road to tell me that she has got me a present. As I wait for the car to pull into the yard, I start think­ing about what this present could pos­si­bly be. Maybe it's the lat­est Spurs jer­sey, or a DVD on the life and times of Roy Or­bi­son. Or per­haps even an In­dian meal pack for two from Tesco - which al­ways goes down a treat.

Then the door­bell rings and be­fore me stands the young lad, hold­ing a plas­tic bag. He hands it over and I un­wrap a brand new food pro­ces­sor. Not what I was ex­pect­ing, but a wel­come ad­di­tion to our arse­nal of culi­nary de­vices nev­er­the­less.

SATUR­DAY, 7.30AM: The young lad is in the sitting room, glued to the lat­est Voda­fone com­mer­cial where the Black­berry Boys are click­ing their fin­gers, hum­ming that catchy tune. He sways from side to side with them. Then he gob­bles down his por­ridge (we're just wait­ing for the day he re­alises por­ridge is not all that, and the word yuk en­ters his vo­cab­u­lary) and re­quests a smoothie. Like a tro­phy, our new ac­qui­si­tion takes its po­si­tion on the kitchen counter.

For its maiden spin sum­mer fruits, ba­nanas, some nat­u­ral yo­ghurt and a dol­lop of ice cream are pumped in. The young lad knocks back two mouth­fuls, be­fore he starts to pick the seeds off his tongue. Unim­pressed, he points to the In­no­cent smoothie car­tons in the fridge. 'I'll have one of those in­stead,' he growls, his de­meanour changed to that of a sea­soned drinker propped up at the lo­cal bar. The younger lad is rock­ing away in the cor­ner, eyeing up what's left in the young lad's glass. It is a steely-eyed look, one that I haven't seen be­fore.

3.00pm: At some stage dur­ing last sum­mer, a nut that helps to hold the lawn­mower to­gether dis­ap­peared over a fence. I fum­ble about in the shed, try­ing to mea­sure up di­am­e­ters so that I can fetch a re­place­ment and through an open win­dow, the good woman sum­mons me into the kitchen. She thinks she has dis­cov­ered the se­cret to mak­ing heav­enly bolog­nese. I sam­ple a spoon­ful and my knees go weak. She tells me she has blended the mince in our new food pro­ces­sor.

It is a stroke of ge­nius. The young lad hears what's go­ing on from across the gar­den and be­ing fond of his grub, vol­un­teers to be a taster. He nods his ap­proval - Bis­tokid style - and we ad­vise her to get out the large cook­ing pot. For the next three days we eat lit­tle else. Though I tell him he can't have it for break­fast.

8.30pm: Up­stairs I can hear snores while down­stairs the good woman has had an­other brain­wave. Into the food pro­ces­sor goes crushed ice and some Bai­leys. She gives it a few sec­onds to do its thing, be­fore fill­ing us both a glass. As we clink a toast, I can think of worse ways to end the day.

Then she tells me of her plans to make home­made soup to­mor­row and delights at how use­ful the ma­chine will prove dur­ing the prepa­ra­tion of baby meals. Its in­tro­duc­tion to our home has trans­formed our do­mes­tic menu be­yond all ex­pec­ta­tions.

I look for­ward to tack­ling some of the more ad­ven­tur­ous cur­ries that are out there over the com­ing weeks. I would go so far as to say that present-wise, a food pro­ces­sor sur­passes a Spurs jer­sey for use­ful­ness any day. But then maybe that's just my tummy talk­ing.


Read­ing about the death of El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor, it struck me how some­times we can be pre­sump­tu­ous about cer­tain peo­ple's mor- tal­ity. That be­cause some char­ac­ters are al­most larger than life, we get more of a shock when we hear they have passed away.

Tay­lor was one of these peo­ple. She was a high-pro­file me­dia fig­ure that at one stage dur­ing her life, reached the pin­na­cle of her pro­fes­sion. For a fleet­ing mo­ment in time, there was no one big­ger. Michael Jack­son was an­other. Paul New­man too. Here at home, and on a broad­cast­ing smaller scale, we had Gerry Ryan - right up to be­fore he died, he was the king of the air­waves.

It got me think­ing about peo­ple who are un­touch­able at this present mo­ment and how even­tu­ally, they will lose the battle with time.

We have R&B sen­sa­tion Rhianna where Madonna used to be; Barcelona dom­i­nat­ing the world of soc­cer; Natalie Port­man the mod­ern­day El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor and Johnny Depp the cur­rent Hol­ly­wood golden boy - though that par­tic­u­lar ti­tle changes hands more fre­quently than most. In the mod­el­ling world where once it was Glenda, now we have Ge­or­gia; Ber­tie and Brian have been re­placed by Enda and in equine cir­cles Long Run has taken over from Kauto Star. While Hur­ri­cane Fly could very well be the new Istabraq. Ben 10 is the new Flash Gor­don and Will Fer­rell has taken con­trol of the ribs that Chevy Chase used to tickle. Liz McDon­ald took over from Bet Lynch.

I sup­pose the moral to be taken from each of these sto­ries is that if you are lucky enough to reach the top then en­joy the view, be­cause noth­ing, or no­body, is go­ing to last for­ever. Ex­cept maybe Dot Cot­ton.

She thinks she has dis­cov­ered the se­cret to mak­ing heav­enly bolog­nese. I sam­ple a spoon­ful and my knees go weak. The young lad nods his ap­proval

El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor was a larger-than-life fig­ure, who at one stage dur­ing her ca­reer, was the most fa­mous ac­tress in the world.

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