Chris Hargreaves: Sunday lunch done, with just a little help from Delia
I HAVE completed a task this afternoon, a task usually unheard of by a man, certainly by a northern man anyway.
It involved a lot of pans, a lot of plates, and some severe heat, and after this task had been completed I held my hands firmly aloft and saluted the hundreds of thousands of mums and wives across the country who take on this challenge at least once a week.
Yes, I attempted to cook the Sunday lunch.
I must have been slightly drunk – no it can't be that as we are on a pre-Lent drink ban – maybe I was concussed, or maybe I was just full of foolhardy cockiness to suggest such an undertaking as cooking the Sunday lunch.
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As my wife set off to do mums, bums, tums, abs, and buns class, I set about digging out the ingredients for this daunting mission. In went the chuck, out came the peeler – Harriet my six-year-old daughter was now helping, and as her fingernails diminished with every potato peeled I pulled Delia out and looked up 'cheese sauce' for the broccoli.
Then it was time for the roasts to be prepared, as well as some dauphinois potatoes which are a pure winner, if a little indulgent for a Sunday afternoon.
All these things, these foodie treats, have looked effortless in their creation by Mrs H.
Timing is obviously of high importance and what with the chicken, the potatoes, the carrots, the peas, the broccoli, it is a job to keep the kitchen from setting on fire, and that's before I have even mentioned the 'roasties' – not forgetting the most important item on the plate – the Yorkshire puddings.
These were eaten for dessert when I was younger, lathered in syrup or jam, and scoffed down before heading down to the park for the third kickabout of the day.
Without putting you through the agonies of the detail, by that I mean the washing up, the amount of pots and pans needed, the temperature in the kitchen, the clearing up process, the stress of burnt food, overcooking, undercooking, never mind the thickness of the gravy, I will just say that I completed the mission.
At the end of the whole process the kitchen was a crime scene, I had lost two litres in sweat, and I felt ill.
Congrats to everyone who completes this epic task on a weekly basis, you are right, it takes hours to complete, hours to clear up, and is gone in three minutes. I used to watch as Mrs H senior created a Sunday lunch for six or seven every week. I swear she had five pans high on the stove at one point. I shall try to do the dinner again someday but I did reassure my wife that it wasn't half as good as her normal brilliance, although she did remark at the height of the Yorkshire puddings, insisting though that it was the new trays – that's right my dear it's the trays!
I DROVE back from Marsh Barton this morning and the most alarming thing about the trip to the recycling centre (tip) was not the price of the cars in one of the many garages, the fact that I cannot yet afford one of the Ferraris proudly sitting on one of the many showroom floors, no, it was the fact that every time I go there – usually a Sunday – I see the same couple of guys stood on a street corner freezing to death while 'wearing' a sandwich board advertising a bed or furniture shop.
A job is a job, I totally understand that, but in this day and age do we really have to put someone in a sandwich board and make them stand there for six or seven hours on a Sunday, the day of worship?
Surely the council aren't that narrow-minded, especially in today's economic climate, not to allow the advertising signs to stand on the corner alone, without a person inside.
Furthermore, would you really be attracted to a business where a bloke has the signage emblazoned on his body while eating his cheese sandwiches and reading his book, or rolling his own and listening to Def Leppard – all this while freezing on a street corner.
The answer, unless it is a protest, or a re-enactment of the suffragette movement, is a unanimous no.
I know how hard it is to push a business and to get customers through the door, so could the council please just allow signs to be safely positioned on a street corner on one day of the week rather than making some sort of law where it has to be mobile. It's fine for the conglomerate, they are already established, they don't need the advertising, small businesses do. If you're worried about the health and safety aspect, why don't you repair the numerous uneven pavement slabs that have an uncanny habit of tripping you up, or squirting unwanted rainwater halfway up your chinos?
The business would still 'get the business' while the bloke bored to death in the sandwich board could earn his money working in the shop.
If I am wrong I am wrong, but it just makes sense to me.
WHILE I am at it – business rates! They are truly a joke; small businesses are pushed to the brink anyway without the need for the council to ask for a ridiculous sum of money, and to gain what from it?
Most don't even get their rubbish removed or cardboard recycled. I'll carry on while I am on rant alert. I'll tell you exactly why small businesses struggle, why the high street is diminishing at a wicked rate of knots, replaced by a long line of out of town faceless 'superhypermarkets', places where you can buy a sofa and a bag of carrots on the same day.
The reason is simple – no rent relief and no business rate relief. Done.
Council tax, another joke! What do we honestly get for up to £200 a month? One street lamp, one bin removal and one recycle bin removal. Big deal. I will concede that despite all the tax that we pay, there is still one major benefit that cannot be denied, the brilliant NHS. OK Mr H get off your high horse, the rugby has just come on, and the girls have brought into the room a cake stand full of freshly baked delicious cupcakes. Can't be bad can it?
Three hours later, rugby won, Top Gear digested, now it is the turn of Mr Selfridge, washed down by another cup cake, and some tea, and maybe some slight melancholy brought on by the fact that the weekend has gone in the click of a finger.