How will I cope without make-up? Everyday, except for Sundays and holidays, I sit in the make-up chair and get done. Eyes closed, rollers in, head back, my makeup is applied. I do my own mascara and lipstick but the rest is put on by an expert with powder and puffs, brushes and sponges. When I leave the studio I look really classy – What am I going to do when I have to make me own self look wonderful?
Well, I am attempting to get myself organised, but it isn’t easy. I have no interest in the girlie things in life. It’s what happens when you grow up not being blonde and blue-eyed in a blue-eyed blonde country. But I admit I do have problems with girlie twittering. When women go on about their skirts and stuff, I bury my head in my paper.
However, I crawled out of the make-up chair and we rehearsed the show. Today I wore very high green shoes and a lovely silky top which is covered in stains. It attracts oil, tomato and butter, all of which was on today’s show and consequently on my sleeves.
Michel Lemoine cooked belly of pork. Sooooooooooooo delicious. Couldn’t be simpler – served on a bed of veg with a deep brown stock, cooked slowly for at least two hours in the oven, and then served with buttered purple sprouting broccoli. Interesting that modern French cooking, said Monsieur Lemoine, is accommodating new healthy cuisine by not making sauces with butter and cream but by just reducing the liquid that comes out of cooking. I thought the end result tasted like the best school dinners I had ever had. Jun Tanaka said his favourite meal of all time was belly of pork. He said all of the chefs loved it and that I should eat the fat. Easy for him to say – he looks like a Japanese mannequin. Tall slim and into deep sea diving. I look like I’ve taken a dive but not into the sea. But it was was easily the nicest belly I had eaten all day.
Jun then decided to smoke haddock. Not literally – he put Lapsang souchong tea in tin foil in the bottom of a saucepan and put the heat up. The smell in the studio was reminiscent of Shanghai, not that I’ve ever been there, but it’s how I expect Shanghai to smell. Then he put two little pieces of haddock in the top steamer and steamed it for three minutes only. New potatoes were cracked, not mashed, with pepper, olive oil and a little tomato paste. Then the haddock was quickly pan-fried and served up with the potatoes and a perfectly poached egg. I don’t know about you but I have tried swirling me water, putting in vinegar, not swirling me water, bringing it up to a rolling boil, but it never works for me. It did for Jun. Jammy bar steward. I opened the poached egg on camera and when that yellow yolk oozed out, I gave Jun my telephone number just in case he was ever in the need of some adult conversation.
Michel completed the menu with caramelised apple tart. Yes, he used French golden delicious apples. The pastry was sweet and the custard with vanilla was sublime. His tip was to always use a deep pan then the flan is bigger and better. We ate at the hob with Giles Hulton and Jenna Bailey. Miss Bailey is 26, daughter of a doctor and a mum… She was writing her thesis at Sussex University and came across some research about a secret correspondence club in the late 1930’s and 40’s between 26 lonely women who wrote to each other using nom de plumes. Electra, for instance, was really called Rosie. She chose Electra cos she really loved her daddy. The book that Jenna has written is called ‘Can Any Mother Help Me?’ It’s a lovely read. You get a sense of period. You meet strong, real women, 6 of whom are still alive. Electra is 101. The photos and letters included are priceless.
Young, blonde, blue-eyed Jenna from Canada had perfect teeth, no cellulite and Edgar – a perfect Mexican boyfriend to boot. Well, not to boot exactly, more to kiss. But am I leaving the best till last.
Giles Hilton is about the most unlike geezer for me. He is thin, very English, gentle and ever so top drawer, but our noses are utterly compatible. We taste tea together and agree on everything. Today we did Roobosh – South African Red Bush tea. Decaffeinated and recently made popular by Alexander McCall Smith’s number one detective agent, Mama Ramotswe. Me and Giles have been sipping it for years. Slurping tea with Giles on a Thursday afternoon in Wandsworth will count as one of life’s little pleasures. We want to makes six documentaries where he teaches me to smell proper and I teach him how to swear proper. I bet you can’t wait.
21 shows to go, not to mention my birthday. I said don’t mention my birthday! See ya tomorrow.