HERE follows the ballad of the burnt soup idiot. A sorry tale in which the composer of this miserable refrain emerges with little credit to his name and a bad smell up his nose.
There was nothing for tea, so my wife set to making soup before leaving early for work. I was out sharpish too in what is proving to be a stressful week (good stressful, mostly). Well, that’s my excuse for what follows.
After my wife left, my job was to sort myself out, check the doors, turn off the soup and get in the car. I did some of those things but not necessarily all of them.
Out all day, I rolled up at 6.30pm in the creaky old Volvo. “You forgot to turn the soup off,” my wife says. And I don’t have a Doc Martens-clad foot to stand on. All day that soup has been ‘cooking’; and all day my wife has been looking forward to the hearty and healthy meal she made first thing in a dash.
She is restrained in her dismay and I have so far avoided wearing a burnt soup pan for a hat. Remarkably, she volunteers to cook something else, so I scuttle off to hide behind my laptop.
There are days when you feel such a fool. Luckily there is no damage to the house, although a favourite stainless steel pan has suffered a charcoal indignity. And the house smells like a bonfire – a bonfire of my reputation as a reliable switcher-off of soup pans; a bonfire of my reputation as a man who can be trusted to remember the one simple task he is set before leaving the house.
My wife has just brought the pan in off the kitchen doorstep to show me. “About an inch of charcoal in there,” she says. It is fair to say that while she will admit to having done stupid things herself, she has not yet touched the depths of my five-star idiocy.
And wouldn’t we just have a guest tonight. While showing our visitor in, I apologise for the smell and own up to the offence. Maybe it doesn’t smell too much in the guest room, although that seems unlikely as I just went up to our bedroom to put on my old Levi’s, and the bonfire stench has embraced the attic.
There is an irony at the bottom of that burnt pan. Both my wife and daughter have occasionally texted or phoned, asking me to check that something has been turned off. It’s usually the hair straighteners my daughter worries about. So I dutifully go into her room and find them unplugged and in the drawer where they belong.
How superior and coolly unfussed I feel at such moments. Those two are always panicking about silly things like that. Sadly, I fear my ability to be a smart arse about these matters may not survive the ballad of the burnt soup idiot (to be played in a minor key while wearing a hanky over the nose).