Quite a lot has happened since my last post. Do you recall, dear readers, how down in the dumps I was before the interview with Marie Rayner? Speaking to Marie was enough to buck me up, but she's not the only wonderful person to light up my life this week.
On Friday Benji - my Benji - asked me on a date. Typically, it all began in uncertainty and confusion. I was at my desk at work after making a few witty comments on The Guardian website, thinking about getting a real CV together and applying for some better jobs. My fingers, however, were typing 'how to become a celebrity chef' into the Google search engine. I was just about to press ENTER when an e-mail from Benji flashed in my inbox. It was to the effect: Hi Piggy, do you have plans for lunch?
There were two factors at play in my failure to respond. First, I was paralysed with excitement. I had never received a personal e-mail from him. Second, I wanted to be true to my White Witch persona and act cool. So I waited for a full hour before going to the toilet so I could walk past Benji's office and assess the situation. His office was empty, so I asked the girls at the front desk whether he'd gone for a run. Words cannot describe my disappointment upon hearing that he'd gone to a Tory fundraising luncheon in London with Petronella. God, I felt stupid. I thought, Piggy Fair, you are a total moron, undeserving of a boyfriend, let alone a dream job, expensive flat, husband and four children. Nonetheless, I maintained my composure and hoped that he wouldn't fall for Petronella.
I stayed at work until 5:20 pm that afternoon, and that is the latest I have stayed at any workplace EVER. That was all the waiting I could take. When I saw sleazy Patrick striding from his office towards my desk I got up and left.
The next morning - Friday morning - Benji and Petronella both arrived at the office late, but separately. I ignored them, and when Benji went into his office, I went into Patrick's office, which is right nextdoor, and asked Patrick whether he needed anything.
What do you have in mind?’ he asked, peering lasciviously over his smudgy glasses. He looked like Glen Bulb (as I may have mentioned before) and sounded like Humbert Humbert. I found myself wondering just how old he was. I thought he could be anywhere between 35 and 50. By accident I actually asked him aloud how old he was. He’s 28!
Then I went and bought a poxy, packaged ham sandwich and ate it while strolling around the university grounds. My frame of mind was very bad and I kept noticing how old I looked compared with the female students. Then I spiraled downwards into thoughts about my erstwhile best friend, Poloma, who I met at Bath Uni ten years ago. I thought about how she stole my boyfriend and ruined my life. Such negative reminiscences were making me lose the will to live, so it was just as well that there was an e-mail from Benji in my inbox when I got back to the office. It was to the effect: Hi Piggy, I'm planning a jog around Nunton Farleigh tomorrow. May I drop in for a cuppa around 2:30pm? I immediately replied something like: Sure, I'll make some afternoon tea. Since then my heart has been alternately fluttering and soaring. I know I should have the emotional maturity to resist swinging between despair and euphoria on the strength of a single e-mail, but let's face it - I don't!
The big day arrived and Baz and Shaz went nextdoor for lunch (with Hettie and Rufus), giving me the run of the cottage. I considered baking Petronella's orange and almond cake, just to mess with Benji's mind, but thought the better of it. Instead I did a lovely 'no bake' lemon, coconut and raspberry slice (recipe to follow). It was divine, as one might expect, and so was our little date.
In fact, it was my second best date ever, after that time Martin (now in prison) took me to the Ivy and we sat next to Nigella Lawson and that silver fox husband of hers, Charles Saatchi. The weather was dreadful and I kept waiting for Benji to call and say he wasn't going to come after all. In the end, he arrived in his car, not his balaclava. I made a pot of tea and we sat in the sitting room and watched a bit of the Australian Open women's final, chatting lightly and eating my stupendous lemon slice. I opened up a bit about the Farmer Wants a Wife experience, which Benji knows about, of course. I was funny about it and he said he thought I'd been a 'jolly good sport'.
It was all pleasant, but rather low-key - not flirty - and I thought nothing was going to happen. He was so handsome and lovely with that big smile that I wanted to lean across and suck his face off, but I couldn't. Then, when we were on the doorstep saying goodbye, he got suddenly nervous and fidgety and I realised he was going to kiss me.
'You're the funniest woman I've ever met,' he said, laying a hand on my shoulder, 'and so pretty. Not many women are funny and pretty.'
Petronella, I thought as he leaned down and planted a gentle, but fulsome kiss on my mouth. I'd forgotten what it's like to kiss someone you're really attracted to. 'Thrilling' is the only word for it. And he tasted of lemon icing and good digestion. Absolute bliss.
Unfortunately, as he was backing his Audi out of our driveway, I saw that Baz, Shaz, Rufus and Hettie had been watching the scene from the window of Rufus and Hettie's sitting room. I gave them a sharp look and went back inside.
It must be obvious to you, dear readers, that the clincher with Benji wasn't my GSOH or my ravishing looks, but my lemon, coconut and raspberry slice.
You will need:
For the base:
- 200g of crushed biscuits or biscuit base
- 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup of dessicated coconut
- Zest of 1 lemon
For the icing:
- 2 cups of sifted icing sugar
- 40g butter, softened
- Juice of 1 lemon
And here is what you need to do:
- Line an average cake tin with baking paper.
- Mix base ingredients and press base into the cake tin. Cool in the fridge.
- Mix icing ingredients, except raspberries. When base has cooled, spread icing onto base and then decorate with raspberries. Cool in the fridge.
- Cut and serve with double cream.
I love citrus desserts, and this is one of the best. Simple to make, sweet and tart to eat. Tastes even better when consumed from a handsome man's lips.
More from food