Ann Rickard blames celebrity chef Nigella Lawson for leading her astray.
Ann Rickard blames celebrity chef Nigella Lawson for leading her astray. RANDOM HOUSE BOOKS

Just one more slice ... Nigella said I could

WE DO get a lot of mixed messages coming at us in today's fast world, agree?

If you are like me you take all of them in. Depends on the force of them how long they stay - most are fleeting - but it can mess with your head if you let it.

One minute I am told by a stern bloke on the Lifestyle Channel that I must declutter and I'm not just talking about my closet.

The mind must be decluttered, emptied of all that is not useful. All the crap floating dangerously about in there like space junk has to be corralled, sorted and most of shipped off to the nearest welfare shop.

The next minute I am told, usually by a well-meaning television chef on the same Lifestyle Channel, that I must embrace and absorb all of life.

This almost always means chowing down on a mountain of food.

Then the health-nuts come on the same Lifestyle Channel and tell me the true meaning of life can be found out in the woods running along a leafy path to a sylvan glade where nymphs and good fairies will shower me with blessings. 

Many mixed messages. And that's just in one evening of telly viewing.

Personally, I prefer to go with the well-meaning chefs.

I love it when Nigella tells me that eating well means cooking well which in turn means living well.

"We should be getting pleasure out of everyday indulgences," she tells us before whipping up a giant bowl of butter cream frosting to smother over her triple-layered chocolate cake.

Okay, I'll go with that. 

But a flick to another television channel and someone else it telling me a fulfilled life lies in a strong core and I should get off the couch and do some crunches.

Balance is the key of course. 

I haven't found it yet, despite a thorough search through the closet of my mind and a good look around that sylvan glade.

But I'm not giving up. Every day I start with good intentions.

Feeling saintly, I pull on the jogging gear and at least look determined. A walk, more a shuffle if I'm honest, and half an hour later I'm feeling reasonably good about myself. 

Sometimes I even polish my halo and go for a swim after the walk.

More a treading of water in the middle of the pool than any actual over-arm shenanigans but still ... it counts.

At least the decluttering of the mind lasts while I'm in the pool.

The next bit is where the Nigella influence kicks in.

I know I should have a breakfast of raw kale on wholegrain toast with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds, but there is Nigella's voice going off in my temporarily decluttered head telling me life is short and I absolutely must indulge myself.

So it is pancakes with crispy bacon and maple syrup.

Then the mind starts to clutter again with all the guilt and negative thoughts that bacon tends to bring on and I want that stern bloke back in my headspace telling me to throw out the mind junk and where is the health-nut lady to take me back to the sylvan glade?

On and on it goes throughout the day, all sorts of mixed messages imposing themselves on me until around 6pm when Nigella takes over completely and I open the wine bottle and think about preparing a dinner of pasta with eggs and cream and chorizo and a kilo of shaved parmesan ... and there are double chocolate Magnums in the freezer with my name on them.

I can but only try.

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