The February Love List
Valentine's Day, the first hint of Spring and Boris's lockdown roadmap... there was lots to love about February, but here are some of my stay at home highlights.
Loved watching.... It’s a sin.
Is it right to say you loved a show that was so full of heartbreak? I watched It’s a Sin with my heart in my mouth, afraid to fall in love with some of the characters because of the story that would inexorably unfold. It is, after all, a series about AIDS and therefore I knew how it ended before the opening credits were even up. But I did fall in love; with the characters and the music and the friendship and the unbridled lust and love and joy and freedom of being a not-quite-adult with the world at your feet, and a daringness to be yourself in a way that hadn’t been allowed before. And it is perhaps this celebration of life that made me shout, ‘no no no no no no,’ into my hands every time another man died, which happened far too often - in the programme and, of course, in real life. I don’t know if having a son of my own made this show almost unbearable to watch at times, or whether the heartache was unbearable simply because I am a human being, but it stayed with me for days afterwards and is the most poignant thing I’d watched in a long, long while.
I should also say that I watched THAT Britney documentary on Now TV and wanted to cry for her and give her a massive hug. #FREEBRITNEY
Loved reading: This is how it always is by Laurie Frankel
This is a fictional novel about a couple with five sons, the youngest of whom, Claude, becomes their daughter, Poppy, just before the child starts pre-school. At the age of 5, Poppy’s parents don’t know what this means - is their child transgender, or is this just a phase? - but they blindly muddle through and support Poppy in every which way they can. They uproot the family and move across the country to a more progressive city in the hope that Poppy will be more accepted when she’s older, but the mention of who she was before unintentionally becomes a secret that the whole family is forced to keep, to the detriment of them all. This is not just a book about parenting a child who is different, it’s about the curve balls thrown at parents all the time, and the challenges, the hurdles, the joy and the limitless love that bind families together. I definitely feel like a better-equipped parent for reading it.
Loved listening to…. Something Rhymes with Purple
If words are your thing, and you’re fascinated by the weird and wonderful intricacies of the English language, then you might also like the podcast Something Rhymes with Purple. It was actually my dad who told me about it, knowing that I’m a total word-nerd at heart, and though I am sometimes sceptical about his recommendations, I do actually love it. It’s presented by wordsmith virtuoso Susie Dent (of Countdown fame) and her co-presenter Gyles Brandreth, and together they explore words, phrases and idioms around a particular theme. You will learn words for things you didn’t even know had a name, such as ‘to tartle’, which is that awkward moment of hesitation when you forget someone’s name during an introduction (which I’m absolutely terrible for), and histories behind phrases you inevitably use every day, but had never considered the origin. Who knew that the term ‘nosey parker’ came from someone being a voyeuristic park-keeper back in the day?
If you’re thinking this all sounds horribly geeky then you are absolutely RIGHT. But if that doesn’t put you off, you can have a listen on Spotify.
Loved eating… Crispy Tamarind Sprouts with Chickpeas, Peanuts and Shallots
If you’re a sprout lover (and I know they’re the most divisive of all vegetables, so I might lose some of you here) then this recipe is going to knock your little sprouty socks off.
It’s one of many amazing recipes from The Green Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer, which has been a gamechanger of a book in our house. Definitely give it a go if, like me, you’re a fan of one pot cooking that can be left to its own devices after the initial prep.
Method (serves 2): Into a roasting tin, chuck 500g Brussels Sprouts (peeled and halved), 200g shallots, 1 tin of chickpeas and 1 teaspoon each of cumin, ground coriander and chilli powder. Add a glug of olive oil and generous sprinkling of salt. Roast for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, mix 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste and a teaspoon of sugar as a dressing to go over your cooked veg. Once the veg looks crispy, pour the dressing over the top and serve with a handful of salted peanuts, fresh coriander, a drizzle of plain yogurt and your favourite flat bread.