So, I had a meeting in Bury St Edmunds today, which was due to start with a sandwich lunch at 12.15, with the formal part at 1 o’clock. It takes about 45 minutes to get there and I had to allow 10 minutes to park and walk, so I had plenty of time to do this’n’that before leaving. However, it was a bit of a surprise to notice it was 5 past 12 and I hadn’t dried my hair yet. I started aiming the drier at my head, then realised I had all the papers to print out for the meeting – anyway, I was still in the car by 20 past so that was all right.
Or so it seemed. Every slow lorry in Norfolk and Suffolk was being taken on the A143 today and most of them were in front of me. I was patient, as what’s the point in belting past one when you can see half a dozen more in front going no faster? A few miles from the Bury bypass, a police car came up behind, lights flashing. We all moved over as far as we could, and a few minutes later came to a car stopped by the side of the road, a police car behind it, with the offside front wing stoved in and an elderly woman in the passenger seat. In the next field there was a yellow Air Ambulance helicopter – but the car didn’t look badly damaged. A couple of hundred yards later, on the other side of the road, a car was off the road, tipped into the ditch and against the hedge. In the next few minutes, two more police cars and two ambulances sped past from the Bury direction. I couldn’t help thinking that they just didn’t need all those police officers and paramedics, but I suppose better too many than find yourself wanting. Anyway, I was quite glad I hadn’t left home much earlier and I was even less inclined to overtake.
I socialised purposefully before the meeting proper, and then one of the items of business was for each chairman to give a verbal report. Darlings, there was a veritable plethora of chairmen; twenty-four of them, although one was a Chair of Chairs and gave his report later. Since my branch of the society starts with W, mine was the penultimate report and I chatted away happily for a few minutes, enthusing about what we’d been doing in the last few months and … oh you know, how I usually talk, but I was actually saying something and not just waffling. As I stopped, with a mention that this year is our 20th anniversary and we’re celebrating at the Christmas lecture and we haven’t finalised the arrangements yet, but it’s highly likely that there will be Cake! – the Chair of Chairs said “thank you, Z, that was delightful.” Oh I say, I thought, and I thought I’d been talking too long.
I had taken the precaution of wearing a bright pink shirt, which I’d ironed specially, so that I would be highly recognisable too. Hah.
I went into town to get some vegetables and arrived in time to help Al pack up the shop and then went to buy some wine. I opened a particularly nice bottle the other night, and discovered that I drink less when it’s good wine, as I sip and savour rather than cheerily glug, so I spent more than usual with the reasoning that it would cost no more per night as it would last longer. When I got home, I toasted nearly the last of the loaf I bought yesterday (what happened to the rest? I wondered) and cut it into snippets and put on bits of the cheese and terrine and took it all, with the wine, into the drawing room to cheer the Sage before dinner. I was very cheerful, which is also good, because it encouraged him to kiss me. Later, Ro came home, so I toasted the very last bread and did more snippets for him. He was frightfully impressed, and asked what was for dinner. I told him about the organically-farmed salmon and said that, as it was delicately flavoured, I would poach it in a court bouillon. “Huh?” “A court bouillon. ” “Yes, I said ‘huh?'” I told him that I would cook some vegetables and herbs in water and then cook the salmon in the resultant broth. “Right. You mean stock then.”
Well anyway, I used carrots and shallots and fennel, and separately poached more carrot, spring onions and the rest of the fennel (because they were neatly sliced and lightly cooked) and then cooked the fish, arrayed it on the vegetables and then reduced the stock (okay, Ro, have it your way) and added saffron and butter for a sauce.