Friday, June 20, 2008



The song that kept buzzing in my brain during the wedding we've just attended in Casablanca


Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips is the book I read on the flight to Morocco, and it was just the ticket for reading on a journey, quirky, light and very funny. It is Marie Phillips’s first book and I look forward to what she writes next.

All the gods of Ancient Greece are living in London where they share a large, very squalid house (gods don’t do housework) in Hampstead, which they bought cheaply in 1665 during the plague. None of them are enjoying life, their powers are dwindling as no-one believes in them anymore, and being immortal isn’t much fun when you face an eternity of boredom.

Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and desire, has a side job answering sex-chat lines on her mobile, Artemis, goddess of hunting, has become a professional dog walker, while Apollo, god of the sun, is trying to build a career as a TV psychic, and Dionysus, god of wine, runs a nightclub called Bacchanalia down near Kings Cross; all very different from their golden days on Olympus.

As we all know, boredom often leads to mischief, and when Aphrodite decides to get her son Eros to meddle with Apollo’s love life to punish him for having turned an Australian lass into a tree, she starts a chain of events which turns all their lives upside down. Her little ruse misfires and a young cleaning lady and her rather boring Scrabble-playing boyfriend get caught up in the ensuing hoo-ha. In the end some of them go to hell and back before everything is satisfactorily resolved.

Its all good, lusty, over-the-top fun.



After three wonderful weeks of travelling in Morocco and the south of France I am feeling so laid back and full of the milk of human kindness that it seems impossible to rant about anything. However I will share with you three things that pissed me off during my blogging break.

The first was the security official at Gatwick, who, when presented with my plastic bag of shampoo, toothpaste etc (I had gone to great trouble to ensure I was carrying the correct sizes) quibbled at my contact lens liquid which was a half-full 120ml bottle, and confiscated it – something that has never happened at any other airport. He told me I should buy a smaller size in the Boots on the duty-free side. I explained that the liquid I use doesn’t come in smaller bottles. He said that in that case I should have decanted it into a smaller bottle. I pointed out that the liquid was sterile, and decanting it would mean it was no longer sterile….anyway, at the Boots on the other side I asked for a smaller bottle of the liquid and was firmly told by the pharmacist that it doesn’t come in smaller sizes (I know!) and that anyway contact lens liquids were usually fine with security. Huh!

The second irritation was that at a truly wonderful Moroccan wedding, with over 150 guests, at which no alcohol was served – it was a Muslim household – some of the male (Muslim) Moroccans saw fit to smuggle in Chivas Regal, Johnnie Walker etc, and whilst everyone else was drinking mint tea, sparkling water and soft drinks, they were surreptitiously tanking up whereas the UK/US contingent were scrupulous in honouring the custom of house and stayed sparkily sober until 7.30am when festivities wound to a close. Hypocrisy always annoys me.

And finally, en route home to London by TGV and Eurostar, Lille railway station got my goat. All but one of the electronic ticket readers was out of order, necessitating 20 minutes of queueing, we were then herded into a waiting area for some time before being able to descend to the Eurostar platform, and when we were finally allowed to go through, the only lift was not working which meant that disabled and elderly travellers with luggage – not to mention anyone travelling with a baby in a buggy – were left struggling down a fast moving escalator. When someone asked the railway attendant if they could take their luggage down in two batches they were told that if they went down, they could not get back up again to collect anything else. This helpful information was accompanied by an attitude of supreme Gallic indifference. A fellow traveller (French) turned to the DH and said that France needed someone like Maggie Thatcher to get the French unions into line…..only repeating what was said! So let’s hear no more of how crummy our railways are compared to the French ones.


As a family, we are intermittent pudding eaters; in winter we love our puds, but at other times of year a piece of fruit or cheese hits the spot. However, every once and so-often I have a craving for something sweet after a meal and this recipe is perfect. Make it, pop it in your freezer and it will be there just when you need it -and if you can add a chocolate covered finger biscuit so much the better!

Serves 6 elegantly, or 4 greedily

350g jar good quality apricot jam

2 tablespoons lemon juice
250ml double cream

28g amaretti biscuits, roughly crushed

Beat the jam with the lemon juice to slacken it. Whip the cream to soft peak stage, and fold it into the jam. Fold in the crushed amaretti crumbs. Spoon the mixture into a freezer container and freeze. There is no need to beat this ice cream as it freezes.