ONCE upon a time, not so long ago, women grew up in the belief that their place was in the home.
It was an era when academic achievement was measured by a girl’s skill with a needle and thread, where a pair of oven gloves and a pinny were as much a part of the school uniform as ties and blazers, where Fanny Craddock wasn’t just a strange saying your parents used as a swearword substitute.
When I look back over history, I count my blessings that I was not brought up in such an age.
The feminist in me is, of course, disgusted that older generations were forced to endure such inequality. But the motives which govern my disapproval are in fact more to do with an absolute certainty that if such was the case today, I’d be an enormous failure.
It seems my cooking abilities peaked at a young age, when tasked with making sausage rolls in Year Eight food technology.
The wide-eyed young pupil who received a C grade and ‘soggy but edible’ footnote would no doubt be filled with dismay at the young woman who thought it’d be funny to dress a scouring pad as Posh Spice and call it a ‘Victoria Sponge’ for Sheffield Food Festival.
That’s why the apparent resurgence of the superwoman who can whip up a pavlova within minutes, grow fresh herbs in plant pots and hand-craft her entire winter wardrobe is a scary prospect.
Any attempt at making fairy cakes would no doubt end with me sobbing into a plate of incinerated buns, eating raw egg mixture from a bowl. I only have to glance at a bunch of flowers and they keel over and die.
And as for my talent with textiles, I’d frankly much sooner stick needles in my eyes than knit with them.
Every time I log on to Facebook or Twitter I am confronted by pictures of pals’ culinary creations, usually Photoshop-ed and sitting atop a pretty cake stand to achieve that uber-quirky look. Their efforts are applauded by fellow members of the domestic goddess set.
And leading the way for this breed of woman is Pippa Middleton – sister of the future queen and famous for having a backside like two chestnuts in a stocking – with her new book on the ‘art’ of planning parties.
Apparently, the offering includes instructions on how to create your own maypole, advice on arts and craft activities and with good, old-fashioned recipes (presumably her butler took notes from her cook on those ones).
I haven’t had the (mis)fortune of reading Celebrate, but by the sounds of it the book is not the answer to my undomesticated prayers, or bound to prompt a conversion to the Twee Army. The extracts make me glad my invitations to soirees at Chez Middleton have been getting lost in the post all these years.
So for now I shall continue to pitch my proverbial tent in the Don’t Make What You Can Buy Camp, resigned to a life of manufactured clothing, ready meals and shop-bought sugary snacks.
Not that I wish to rain on Pip’s parade. In fact I hear there’s some excellent advice in there on creating the perfect Guy to throw on a bonfire.
You know, for when you’ve run out of copies of Celebrate...