Lockdown Unlocked – A blog from a social distance by Thomas Willshire #9 Food

Eating one’s feelings is not recommended but what if that feeling is boredom? Is boredom a feeling or a state of mind? Is there a difference? Should I deep fry my boredom or roast it? The answer to that last one, obviously, is deep fry. Always deep fry.

In my most recent post I focused on my mental health but the truth is my morale represents an inevitable through-line for this blog so today I thought I’d discuss one of my crutches.

Fortunately, it’s not the consumption of food that makes me feel good, it’s the preparation. If I enjoyed eating food as much as I enjoy making it, I’d resemble a dugong by now (fat shaming sea mammals is something of a nadir for me and I’m deeply sorry).

Recently I seem to be in a competition with myself to find the dish that requires the most ingredients. East Asian cuisine is excellent for this. I have a Rick Stein cookbook that’s several inches thick but only contains three recipes. If you haven’t found yourself loudly bemoaning the lack of galangal to a shelf stacker at Sainsbury’s you’re not doing it properly. I’ve been following recipes that take so long to prepare my legs get tired from all the standing up.

Polly shares my boredom-induced culinary enthusiasm and we cook together quite regularly. This would have been impossible in our old flat in Streatham Hill with its wall mounted fridge and solitary cupboard. In that kitchen preparing a Pot Noodle presented a challenge. Here in Selhurst we’re blessed with a kitchen big enough for us to cook side by side and we’re very grateful for it. Our current favourite things to make are flatbreads that require over-night resting and nurturing. Polly and Fergal aside, I don’t think I’ve worried or cared about anything more than the Lebanese Mountain Flatbread we made the other day. So much time had gone into it. So much love. When we finally rolled the bread out and chucked it onto a ferociously hot copper pan it was almost too much for me. After all, watching your little flatbreads rise up and fly the fridge is one of life’s most beautiful dances.

I wasn’t totally honest earlier. I probably gave the impression that I haven’t been eating to excess during lockdown. I totally have. Not to seriously unhealthy levels but I’ve definitely been indulging myself more than normal. I reckon I’ve put on about half a stone. Last week I was unfurling the full length of the tripod we use for video chats and Polly thought a narwhal had beached itself in our living room (I’ve done it again)! The question: ‘What am I going to eat for dinner?’ and my attempts to answer it have been giving me an illusion of purpose. I spend the morning plotting dinner then most of the afternoon making it. Of course, once you’ve cooked the bloody meal, scoffed it, had an unnecessary second helping and put your cutlery down that sense of purpose evaporates. What now?

Thank goodness for alcohol.

I’m very happy to say the first draft of Act One is in the bag and I’ve made some progress with Act Two. I’m back on track but I’m very aware it’s a narrow, winding one so I really ought to take care. In my first post I promised I wouldn’t go into too much detail about how I go about writing a play for fear of boring you all. However, a lovely someone has recently expressed an interest in reading about my approach and now I don’t know. The good ship self-indulgence probably set sail once I started writing a blog in the first place so maybe I’m being precious. We’ll see. Thanks so much for reading!

Thomas Willshire is a writer/actor/comedian who just about lives in London with his wife, Polly and dog, Fergal. He considers himself the fortunate product of a supportive and loving environment.

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