I was supportive of her giving Pancake Day an extra push, because I rate it as the third best holiday, after Halloween (which is all about sweeties) and Mother’s Day (which legitimises monstrous demands regarding lie-ins and pampering). Pancake Day is great because you know in advance what you’re having for supper, so no tedious mucking about going, ‘What do you want?’ ‘Dunno.’ ‘Pasta?’ ‘Yeah OK.’ Also, supper is effectively just a lot of dessert.
The pancake party began with each of us being given our own jug of batter and a turn at the Aga. ‘So we can all have our pancakes just how we like them,’ cried our hostess. Way to spin getting your guests to cook for themselves, Hoxie. She leaned on the Rayburn rail, swigging Waitrose Rioja, clearly on a later glass than the first one, bantering with the guest/cooks (‘that one looks a bit crepe, hahaha’). As my turn came to step up to the hob, I realised I’d never cooked, or crucially, tossed, a pancake before. Those are tasks I tend to delegate to Man of the House.
‘Ooh,’ Hoxie slurred, as I poured batter experimentally into the pan, ‘I see you like them nice and thick.’ Her elbow slipped off the rail. I felt apprehensive, because I knew I would soon have to try and flip this molten mess into the air. Several other guests were eating smugly and saying, ‘pancakes are brilliant, why don’t we have them more often?’ Everyone always says this, once a year.
Django came up to ask his mother for the Nutella.
‘Anything other than sugar and lemon is verboten, Django.’ Clearly the edict about having our pancakes just how we like them only went so far.
‘I want Nutella.’
‘Philistine.’ (She said it more like ‘phishistine.’)
‘He’s just a kid, Hoxie,’ I butted in, hoping to distract her so I could sneakily turn my pancake over with a fish-slice.
‘Age is no barrier to phishistinishm.’
‘Django, put that Nutella down…’
In the ensuring kerfuffle – Nutella is messy stuff - I got my pancake/scrambled egg out onto a plate. I quickly ate it before anyone saw, and was too embarrassed to try and make any more. I threw down a couple of glasses of wine to fill in the remaining time.
When I got home, the beginnings of a not-enough-food hangover clearly visible on my brow, Man of the House reported that he’d made the children ten highly successful pancakes each. ‘I could whip up some more batter,’ he said. He is a kind man. ‘No, you’re all right,’ I told him. ‘I’ll just have some pasta.’
Beth Miller. Published in Viva Lewes magazine, February 2014. Picture by Michael Munday