Tuesday, 6 May 2014

A Book to Read over Breakfast in Bed

Posted By Daisy

We Enjoy Slumbering - www.marcjohns.com

LAST FRIDAY I set off on my holidays. To Ealing. Four tube stops away. As I stuffed  a toothbrush and some underwear into my tiny overnight bag, closed the peeling bedroom sash window, flicked a goodbye sign  to the closed door of the TV room where one of my flatmates sits nightly watching Danish thrillers on her laptop, this message whooshed into my phone...

Happy days.

And for the next two mornings ( we were going to the countryside for the day), my aunt delivered a breakfast tray to my bedside locker. There's nothing like drinking strong tea from a silver teapot and nibbling on a bit of buttered toast while flicking through pages of old 'House and Home' magazines, or reading a few short stories from the Maeve Binchy book I found in the guest room bookcase, before settling in for that important second sleep.

It reminded me of having a boyfriend. When we were 21, S used to deliver chocolate biscuits and tea on a beanbag tray to the spare room at his parents house where I used to stay.

During a summer on a Greek Island, where we camped for a month, he'd slap fried eggs (cooked on a tiny stove) into soft bread rolls with ketchup, and I'd feed the camp cat with stolen milk sachets. Afterwards, we'd lie with our heads sticking out of the tent door, laughing and singing and learning the words to 'Two Little Boys'.

I've only had one Bad Boyfriend Breakfast. A few years ago, I walked downstairs to the sight of a blond golf-addict fling clattering his knife and fork together on an empty plate, the smells of a full Irish lingering in the kitchen air.

'I didn't have enough for you,' he said, and was promptly dumped after which he resumed his all-weekend golf sessions with gusto. (He used to call his sitting room 'The Players Lounge'. Enough said.)

My two years with W (a wolfishly handsome guy with neither job nor ambition) were defined by food- especially breakfast in bed.

I'd make homemade chocolate croissants in the kitchen in my bare feet, cutting the ready-made pastry into little triangles and rolling shards of dark chocolate up inside it. I'd melt squares of chocolate in warm milk in a pan for hot chocolate, and wobble back upstairs, balancing everything on a tray complete with a flower in a glass.

Weekend mornings were spent dripping crumbs onto the newspapers in bed before falling asleep and waking up already kissing.

When W moved to the country, to a cottage on a bend in the road near the sea, we'd eat slices of toasted brown bread with butter and Ballymaloe relish and smoked Clonakilty rashers, or soft goats cheese, litres of tea and an egg cup of chocolate buttons for dessert.

We'd bring the dog to Baltimore for some moonlight kayaking, and spend a few hours stirring up the phosphorescence with the tips of our oars, paddling further away from the group to be on our own, the water lapping the sides of the kayaks. And later, after a hot shower, we'd drink chilled cava and share a cigarette on the porch of the old hotel near the sea. For breakfast the next morning, there would be scrambled egg and smoked salmon, and homemade raspberry yoghurt, as the dog waited patiently on the flag stoned floor.

At the farmers market near my house, we used to eat breakfast burritos sitting on the sea wall, legs dangling as we watched the cranes  lifting the huge shipping containers across the bay.

I want more breakfasts in bed, brunches and farmers markets. I think it's time to bite the bullet and start dating in London in earnest.

Elevator Pitch: A girl grows up in a not-deprived background with parents who adore each other, and becomes anorexic. She moves to London, becomes a successful writer and editor, rubs shoulders with many celebrities, gets married and buys a BMW coupe. But she still isn't happy.

It's Bridget Jones without the redemptive self deprecation or humour. Jones laments her grandfather getting killed in a bicycle accident, simply because it scuppered her chances of dating a boy she fancied. And in the saddest sentence I've ever read, she writes

'I wish I could rub out my life, twiddling knobs as on an Etch an Sketch, and start again........I think, if I had the chance, I would do every single thing differently.'
However, it's a great read, and Jones' description of her mother is poignant and  brilliant:

'The tradition in our house, if we children were working our way through the Quality Street tin at Christmas, was that she wouldn't take her own sweet but would wait, like a well-trained Labrador, until one of us spat ours out with disgust.....She would eat that one for us, to avoid waste.'

Elevator Pitch: A collection of short stories and features which Maeve Binchy wrote for the Irish Times. Full of observations about life, (both stories under the titled of 'Women are Fools' are definitely worth reading for anyone who has a tendency to choose the wrong man. Also, Binchy was single until her late thirties and it's lovely to see how independent she was and how much gusto she applied to life), it's a lovely book to dip in and out of.

Comparing Maeve and Liz, I am reminded of this:

'Two men look through the same prison bars, one sees dust and the other sees stars'.


  1. Loving your breakfasts, in fact loved reading this blog! Your writing is so descriptive that you actually take me there. : ) x

  2. Brekkie in bed is def one of life's simple pleasures! Thanks Amanda for your lovely , encouraging comments- they are much appreciated x