18 and 19 November 2010: 8/10

Better than Wednesday.

Today was unreserved loveliness.  I went into East Sheen Primary School and taught 14 ten year olds to bake bread, make soup, and fry pancakes.  In their brand new kitchen we kneaded, got stuck, got unstuck, sliced veg to make vegetable soup, mixed and fried pancakes and generally had a good time.  They spontaneously burst into song while they kneaded which was great and they were a sweet and kind group of children.  They all tried the soup which was pretty brave considering it had Swiss chard in it (none of them had seen that before) and Savoy cabbage (that’s a big ask for any child) and lentils (immediate reaction:  ewwwww, I hate lentils) as well as tame veg like potatoes and carrots and tinned tomatoes (or canned tomaytoes as the Canadian, Henry, and I called them).  Most of them loved the soup and all of them loved their bread.  Some made dough balls, one made a really good looking baguette-like loaf, a couple put their dough in tins and carved their initials in the top, some made that looked like big dog poos and one even made a face!  They scoffed their bread.  Hot out of the oven – no butter, no nothing.  I know they don’t control the food shopping but I sincerely hope pester power can sell good bread just like it sell junk food and toys.  Kids will eat good bread, in fact they like it better than white sliced in a bag.  The idea that they don’t is just nonsense.

After spending the day yesterday suited and booted and doing the final course about business ethics at the Institute of Business Ethics, I had a good chat with Rose (the one who is fun even down a mine).  She was baffled at what she felt was my extremely strong negative  reaction to the Penguin meeting.  I could not explain it to her except that, as I wrote, I just thought I added nothing to Helen’s life and so felt on the back foot – she held all the cards and it was as if I was going cap in hand to someone (just thought I’d throw in a lot of different metaphors there).  There are so many people just desperate to commercialise creativity that the people in the creative industries (publishing, tv, radio, fine arts) have too much power.  They get to dole out the “exposure” sweeties to the madding crowd that presses on them crying, “me, me”.  I don’t ever ever ever want anyone ever (have I said that enough) to think I am desperate.  There is something so humiliating about being desperate and I am not desperate to write a book.  I am determined virtuousbread.com will work.  If a book helps, great.  If a tv programme helps, great.  If baking with a couple on a blind dates helps, great.  Within reason, and as long as the integrity of virtuousbread.com is maintained, there is a lot I will do to ensure it is a success.  But write a book for it’s own sake?  I just don’t see it.  I have a short attention span.  I don’t work at all unless I have a deadline.  I would have to stay at my desk for several hours a day for several months and that would drive me mental.  Who would run the business while I did that?  Who would I talk to?  And yet, and yet…doth I protest too much?  Was I secretly hoping that Helen from Penguin would just say, “we are looking for someone to write a book about THIS and you are so marvelous we want you to do it sight unseen, face unknown, writing unread!”  Who wouldn’t?  Realistically that is about the only thing that would galvanise me to write a book (a subject and a deadline and some money thrown in for good measure) and as it is unlikely that will happen soon I have to sit back with a sigh of relief and say, “phew!”.  Nevertheless, I still feel like an idiot. 

However, a little less so since talking to Rose (whose attitude was sympathetic in an oh, get over it kind of way) and receiving a lovely comment from a reader about how meetings should be less about goals and more about appreciating the time.  It’s a great comment and you should really read it.  Scroll down to the comments box here.

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