There were a lot of alarming things about my husband's house when I first moved in. He lived in it like a little lonely bat shivering in one corner of a huge creaky, dark forest. The front door was chipped and turquoise, the number of the house printed out onto A4 paper and sellotaped to the glass-bit over the door. There was a roll of kitchen paper in the downstairs loo.
He didn't own a cafetiere despite having a moderately serious coffee-drinking habit; the convection hob either boiled everything dry or only heated up to baby-breath temperature, the thin grubby blue carpets left over from the previous owners (who moved out 6 years previously) wouldn't get clean with any amount of vacuuming, the canary yellow paint in the living room made everything look jaundiced, the lino was curling and wan and for some reason almost every picture he owned was hung in just one room.
But the most freaky thing was that there were no clocks. I know I have got a sort of mania for clocks, but even so. There were so many rooms, but no clocks. Not even in the kitchen.The first thing I unpacked was my bedside clock, a large retro silver thing with bells on top and a handle. At first he scoffed at it but I quickly found him in the mornings looming over from his side of the bed to squint at the time. (Just like he scoffed at the idea of a thermal cafetiere, but now declares it his favourite thing in the house.)
Now there are clocks everywhere. Kitchen (1 - huge one) bedroom (2) bathroom (1) living room (1) my room (1), the nursery (1). His study - zero - because he seems to be happy telling the time off his computer. Me? I need a clock.
And I need lists. I need lists like I need air. I don't even do very much with my time but I need lists in order to organise the nothingness, otherwise I will categorically not send my niece a birthday card, or ring the curtain man or write about bottarga or invoice that newspaper for my £95 kill fee.
When something is on a list, the liklihood of it getting done increases by a factor of 10. I used to write lists down on post it notes and stick them to things, or on scraps of paper and balance them in prominent places on my desk. Now I have a clipboard. It is red and it sits to the right of my laptop and serves the dual purpose of list-holder and mousepad.
Clipped to the board is a lined sheet of A4 paper, divided into 2 by a vertical pencil line. One column is for scribbling down things when I am on the phone, or off websites. The other column is The List. When the A4 page is full, another is clipped over the top, so that any vital notes made or things left undone don't get thrown in the bin, they merely move another layer down.
I love my list. But sometimes I fear I may have come to rely on it too heavily. If something isn't on the list, I instantly forget about it, meaning if it occurs to me that I have to do something, I often find myself racing to the list to write it down before I forget about it and the baby arrives home from hospital and there are no nappies.
I think this Lorraine Pascale girl looks to me like a list person, too. In the first episode of Baking Made Easy, she declares a love of online shopping, which I'm also mad for. I always think that making lists and a devotion to online shopping are two sides of the same coin.
She made the other day roast garlic and baked camembert, which struck me as a totally genius dinner idea, so I re-created it at home the other night and it went terribly well.
Lorraine Pascale's roast garlic and camembert
2 bulbs garlic
1 camembert in a wooden box
3 bay leaves
a bit of olive oil
1 Lop the tops off the garlic bulbs. Having first smeared butter on the base of whatever tin you're going to roast the garlic in (so it doesn't stick and have to be chipped off) put the garlic bulbs cut-face down on the butter. Chuck on top the rest of the butter, herbs and sprinkle over some sea salt. I also drizzled over a bit of olive oil.
2 Shove this in the oven at 200C for 45-50 mins. 20 mins before time is up, unwrap the camembert and peel off the sticker that'll be on either the upper or lower side. Then slide back into its box, without the lid, make a large cross in the top and put in the oven to cook for the remaining time. Eat with toasted rye or sourdough or whatever you fancy.