Tag Archives: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Soap Dramas and Domestic Power Struggles

Feeling I needed to rest my knee after some full-on glamping training, I decided to have a bath instead of a shower.

And I needed to warm up. It was a cold morning, and I hadn’t lit the fire because I’m going out to lunch, and the old chap is downstairs in his study. I could have put the heat pump on, but an innate meanness makes me feel I’d rather burn wood that I’ve already paid for, than use electricity that I’ll have to pay for in the future – probably through the nose.

I don’t often have a bath these days, mainly because I can’t trust myself not to go on adding more and more hot water, until I finally drag myself out, weak and exhausted from all the heat and steam, and need half an hour to cool down and recover. This seemed an attractive prospect this cold morning, so I put on the hot tap – hot first, so there isn’t a cold layer of water at the bottom, and sashayed off to make the bed.

I was waylaid by the thought that  I owed a thank you note to a friend for our dinner with them on Sunday night, so went to the computer instead. Thought I’d have a look at stats and notifications while I was there, replied to a few messages – suddenly remembered the bath! The water had reached the top, but at least was not over-flowing. But it had run cold, so I could put my hand in to let out some of the luke-warm water. As I stepped into this disappointing bath, I thought to myself – I may have to give up blogging.

I put my hand behind me into the soap dish and found it empty. Empty! I knew I’d put a fresh bar of Pears soap there only the other day. Why the old chap had to use the soap from the bath, when there were already three bars of soap in soap dishes in the hand basin was a mystery I grimly decided to solve. Three bars, because my son always gives me black Spanish glycerine soap to match my black and white bathroom. But the black soap does tend to stain white flannels, so I put an extra bar of inoffensive Pears glycerine soap there for flannel-using ablutions.

Soap has been on my mind since reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s  ‘Love in the Time of Cholera,’ a few weeks ago. One of many delicious incidents was between an elderly married couple, and how their marriage had nearly broken up thirty years before over a bar of soap. For a few days she kept forgetting to put a new bar of soap in the bathroom, and would remember each time she went in for her shower. On the third day her husband came out of the bathroom in a tantrum and accused her of leaving him without soap for a week.

Neither would back down. The petty argument developed into hostile silence between them, and he then went to stay at his club for three months – finally he had to come back home because they were re-furbishing the club, but he moved into another bedroom. He had to come through hers though, to get to the bathroom, so if she was in there, he lay on the bed, waiting. One day he fell asleep, and when he woke couldn’t be bothered to get up. “It wasn’t a week” he said. She then admitted she had meant to replace the soap each day.

It was the perfect illustration of the petty squabbles that grow into huge rifts, simply because no-one will back down, or admit they were wrong. I have some friends, married now for nearly forty years, and she told me they had had their first row the night they came back from honeymoon and moved into their first home. “Paul said the toilet roll had to have the paper hanging down behind, and I said it had to hang down the front.”

“What happened?” I asked. “I let him have his way,” she said … and she’s been letting him have his way ever since! So they’ve never had any power struggles because she just gives in. It’s when we change, that those sorts of rackets can cause relationship breakdowns. If both change, the relationship may survive, but if one can’t give up their need to control, then the other for their own self-respect has to go, or engage in endless power struggles.

There was no power struggle in this case. I simply asked him rather coldly why he needed a fourth bar of soap. The poor chap had no really convincing answer, unless domestic blindness qualifies, and in the interests of compassion I let him off the hook.

Glamping training? This is beginning to eat up as much time as blogging. Glamping is short for glamour tramping, and means we walk for some hours every day, while our luggage is delivered to our destination. We arrive at a comfy cabin, with a masseur waiting, a glass of wine and a platter of nibbles, before showering and enjoying the gourmet meal provided. We then relax into our freshly made up beds. The next morning we set off across another farm, the sea on one side, rolling hills on the other, to arrive at another destination equipped with masseur, wine, platter etc.

I’m ten years older than the friends I’m going with, and hoping I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew. Twice a day I set myself on the road, trying to get fit after months of sitting in front of the computer. After striding up and down a length of flattish road, I walk round and round the cemetery, figuring that I also need to practise walking on grass and rough terrain. I’m becoming increasingly nervous. The closer it gets I will need your prayers or goodwill, depending on whatever you think is appropriate !

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

Reading Honie Brigg’s blog on her Italian holiday has had me in a fever of greedy desire as I scrolled down the pictures of their foodie feasts. Finally last night I could stand it no more, and cancelled the plans for our evening meal. The old chap didn’t fancy mushroom risotto, so he had a steak pie with all the trimmings, and I meditated over the risotto, fortified by a glass of wine.

Gently fry an onion in a little olive oil or butter – I use a bit of both so the butter doesn’t burn. When the onion is soft, add plenty of finely chopped mushrooms – I estimate three to four per person. When they’re soft, stir in three quarters of a cup of Arborio rice, or other risotto rice, and gently fry till the grains are translucent. Add a glass of white wine and let it bubble away. Then keep adding- in small amounts- hot chicken or vegetable stock – I used vegetable bouillon cubes for this emergency risotto. When the rice is cooked and has absorbed as much hot stock as it can take, I stir in a big knob of butter, cover it and leave for about five minutes.

Serve with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan, followed by salad, and eaten with a glass of wine, of course – in this case I had a bottle of Gewurztraminer already open, so it was that. And the whole thing- served in a big white Victorian soup dish with a broad blue rim – was delectable … and the nearest I could get to Italy.

Food for Thought

The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.                                                                         The last lines of the novel Middlemarch by George Eliot, whose real name was Mary Anne Evans. Great Victorian novelist, 1819 – 1880


Filed under cookery/recipes, culture, great days, humour, life/style, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized