My Life So Far
“Happy, loved, privileged” would about sum it up. Years ago, I went to a seminar for would-be novelists, and the tutor, a successful playwright, said no one with a happy childhood could ever be a writer. Well, that’s me done for then.
I grew up in South Africa, shamefully unaware of the horrors of apartheid, one of my few political memories being my mother coming home covered in egg yolks from being pelted for protesting against the regime on the Johannesburg town hall steps.
At 10 I was so mad about horses I wanted to marry one and couldn’t see why not? My father’s suggestion of a lot of little centaurs as children seemed a great idea. When I got to fourteen, boys seemed a better idea.
Uni and etc
Flunked out of Cape Town university where I had variously gone in for Drama, Fine Art, Architecture and a BA in French. In those days you could hop about from course to course. Finally persuaded my long suffering parents that I had to go to France to learn French. So off to the Sorbonne, where instead of getting a taste for Baudelaire and Bonaparte, I fell for Boef Bourguignon and Burgundy.
My inspiration was the woman I worked for as an au pair: she went to three bakeries each morning – one for the croissants, one for the baguettes and one for the gateau. And she gave the children, age 18 months and 6 months, exactly what she gave the rest of us, only three hours earlier. If it was steak and salad for supper, at five o’clock she’d make a miniature salad with oil and vinegar, two tiny seared rare steaks with a chopped shallot and herb reduction, and then the older child would have hers in her high chair and I would whizz steak, salad and gravy in the liquidiser and spoon it into the baby.
So I went to the Cordon Bleu in London and learnt to cook. I wish my father had lived to see that I did finally stick at something.