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Monday, August 5, 2013

Soup, Porridge and Pyjamas.

In case you didn’t know from all the cold, rain and extra kilos, it’s winter. And you know what? This winter is killing me a little bit. I actually quite like winter. I like the clothes, I like being snuggled up in blankets, I like roasting chestnuts over the open fire while I lay on my bearskin rug and drink port (no wait, I’ve never done that). But somehow, this winter has tricked me into liking three things I have never liked before – in fact, they are three things that I have always disliked so intently, the act of disliking them is a part of my identity.

Soup, porridge, and pyjamas.

I fucking hate soup. Soup makes me angry. And a lot of my close friends know that. If you invite me over for dinner, and soup is the only menu item, be prepared for a stony-faced dinner guest. Soup is not a meal, it is a glorified drink. It does not make me full. It does not make me happy. It does not impress me that you can take a bunch of real food and squash it into a runny bowl of slop. If you serve me soup, it better come with three things – an apology, unlimited delicious bread, and a main course afterwards. Otherwise, I will be clenching my jaw with annoyance*. But this winter, something weird happened.

I started having soup for lunch.

I’m mortified. I'm angry with myself. This is my IDENTITY I am messing with. I actually can’t even believe I'm admitting it now. But it’s true – I have started having soup for lunch. My only saving grace is that it has been born entirely from laziness. The only good thing about soup is that you just have to heat it up. That part of it is very appealing to my sloth-like nature. It is testament to how lazy I was feeling the other week that I actually decided to open the can of soup that has moved with me at least three times to new houses and pantries. I only still had it for emergencies – and not to feed myself. I figured if there was ever an old man with no teeth in my house who demanded lunch, I could resort to the can (I’m like the boy scouts and the Hyenas from The Lion King. I like to Be Prepared.)... but I never thought I would eat it. Things were pretty dire on this lazy, rainy, snugly day, and I opened the pantry to see two things on my shelf. Bi-carb soda. And Old Man Soup Can. I figured that, as much as I hate soup, it was probably better for me than bi-carb soda. So I heated it up. And I got out an ice-cream spoon (that’s all that soup spoons have ever been to me). And I ate the soup. And the weird thing was.... it was kind of good. When I went to the supermarket the next day... I bought more soup. Every fibre of my being was confused - my facial muscles were twitching with preparation for ‘stony-faced dinner guest’. It was even one of the posh, expensive types with organic lamb and a picture of a tomato in a meadow. And I ate it for lunch. And now it has become a bit of a habit. I have tried a couple of soups – always fighting the temptation to get angry and demand some ‘real food’ – and I even look forward to trying another one (organic chicken, with a picture of a potato in a meadow). This can’t be good... surely it’s soup that makes the slope into senility so slippery.

Soup’s not the only disastrous moral dilemma I have been struggling with lately. This winter has brought some other weird food habit. Porridge has always made me about as excited as soup. It looks like a bowl full of my textured ceiling. No really, if you look at the ceiling in my room, it looks like someone covered a paint roller in porridge and went to town (it’s actually a nice effect, however porridge-y). 

Porridge Ceiling. And a quarter defying gravity.

Every few years I would try to get into eating porridge because everyone is always banging on about how good it is for you and how it keeps you full all morning and blah blah blah, but I never really got into it. I would try equal parts porridge and honey, or putting heaps of fruit and crap in, but I still didn’t like it. And then this winter, it happened.

I started eating porridge for breakfast.

And I’m loving it. I’m fearing for my identity and aging tastebuds, but I am loving it. Bit of honey, bit of cinnamon, sliced-up banana. Sit in my rocking chair. Do some knitting. Talk to the grandkids. Delicious. I even look forward to getting up in the morning so I can eat it. Also, because the first thing I see in the morning is my porridge ceiling, so it’s kind of a subliminal hunger signal. But I’ve had porridge ceilings before, and never have they worked so strongly, so it must be this winter. What is this winter doing to me? Don’t get me wrong, I love trying new things. I’m always up for a bit of an adventure (as long as I can fit a nap around it). But I was firm and steadfast on not liking soup or porridge, and yet these last few weeks have been all about a good microwaved bowl of warmth. But it’s not even the most shocking of all. The most shocking of all started a month ago.

I started wearing pyjamas.

I hope it’s not too unladylike for me to reveal that I’ve never been a PJ person. Underwear, yes, pyjamas, no. Pyjamas get bunched up and twisted and annoying, and quite often I will take them off in my sleep (which lead to some embarrassing sleep-overs growing up... “Morning! Oh great, Lucy’s naked again...”). When I’m sharing a room on a holiday or at a slumber party, I will wear trackies or something resembling pyjamas, but in general I have never really slept in jim jams. Until this winter. It was so cold in my bed that I made a special trip to Coles and bought the cheapest flannel PJs I could find (unfortunately they only had size 18, so they are a little roomy), put them on that night, climbed into bed... and fell in love. Now it’s kind of hard get out of them in the morning. They are so warm and snugly. Like soup and porridge. I don’t know what’s happened to me – have I aged a few decades this winter? Have I conformed to cold-weather pressures? Am I trying to be like the winter girls in the magazines who have big knitted jumpers and snowflakes in their sex hair**? I don’t know. But I’m looking forward to winter ending so I can rediscover my identity and be myself again. You'll know where to find me. Stripped off under the covers, eating solids.

*Please don’t let this deter you from inviting me over for dinner. I am an excellent dinner guest with lovely table manners and a special dinner party laugh... and only the odd outburst of soup anger.

**I am actually trying very hard to be like them. They always look hot and spontaneous. I bet they roast chestnuts on open fires while laying on bearskin rugs drinking port... I’m gonna give it a go.

By Lucy Gransbury. Follow her on twitter @LucyGransbury. Or follow her in real life. She's probably searching for a bearskin rug.

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