Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gingerbread Porridge

I was sitting on the kitchen floor the other day with my iPad, half-in and half-out of the doorway to get some of the feeble WiFi reception that dribbles down from the modem upstairs; my  husband was nearby, pushing tiny strips of fish finger into Kitty's sparrow-mouth followed by a spoonful of beans.

"Na naaaaaaaaa," said Kitty, her mashed-up food slowly collapsing from its position on the roof of her mouth to flop onto her tongue. She then keeled forward gently to rest her forehead on her highchair tray, her fat grubby hands splayed on the plastic either side of her face. She's been doing that a lot recently; I don't know what it means.

Then an email arrived from someone I used to work with at The Times, called Claire. That makes me sound terribly grand, doesn't it? Like we used to write long witty pieces about the increasing popularity of traditional parlour games at Notting Hill dinner parties. In reality I worked part-time on the Times Magazine's reception desk and she was the chief sub-editor, which meant that if everything went perfectly no-one thanked her but if anything went wrong it was all her fault.

It wasn't the easiest place to work, the Magazine, especially not when you were a) the receptionist and b) part-time; it made you officially the lowliest person at the entire newspaper because at least the messengers got a bit of paid holiday and knew their way around.

And there were some horrible people. Not horrible, horrible - people always think working at newspapers is like All The President's Men and working at magazines is like The Devil Wears Prada but in actual fact it's just some grubby open-plan office with towers of dusty paper and the faint smell of lick.

Most newspaper or magazine offices could be anywhere. And the horrible people were just boringly horrible. They didn't make catty, arch, comments that sent you racing to the ladies' to sob, they just sort of refused to acknowledge you because you were so lowly and shit.

But Claire was always lovely to me. She looked me right in the eyes when she talked to me and never did a thing where I'd say something and she'd look at me as if my chair had started talking. Among other people who were nice to me were Hannah Betts, (with whom I became obsessed and started copying the way she dressed), and my husband.

I only spoke to my husband once on the phone when I was working at The Magazine - when he had so much post that I had to send a parcel van to his house to take it all and had to ring him to ask when he'd be at home to receive it. We had an unexpectedly nice chat. He is terribly friendly, my husband - much friendlier than you think he's going to be and I was astonished at his bothering to make jokes on the phone. When you work on reception and send people their post, no-one bothers to waste jokes on you or or tries to be charming. And when they do, you notice.

So I hunted him down and married him. Ha ha! (No, seriously.)

Anyway, so Claire emailed me and said Hiya, I'm working in PR now - do you want some free stuff? I usually absolutely catagorically say no to any freebies because it makes all this feel far too much like work. And it feels so self-important and crass to mouth off in some kind of superior way about what I think about this brand of biscuits or that kind of oat-free snack.

But you remember people who were nice to you when you were really little and shitty and want to do them a favour, for what it's worth.

So: Dorset Cereal's Gingerbread Porridge is actually pretty excellent. It comes in a chic brown box with a cute picture of a runaway gingerbread man on it. In the box are 10 sealed paper sachets of porridge that you can mix with milk and cook in the microwave or on the stove. I thought it was delicious and I don't even really like porridge.

Although it says it's limited edition, which probably means that it is only available in a few select branches of Waitrose within the M25.

That's the thing about PR: 50% of it really works - you just don't know which 50%.

Amy I haven't forgotten about your request for child-friendly fish pie. Coming soon. Like, tomorrow.

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