It was 13:29 when Nelson dropped down into his armchair, a mound of mangled wood and cheap leather, less arranged and more dumped in the centre of his back room. It put him two metres in front of an old Philips CRT 29PT9421 and next to an inoffensive table from a chain that erroneously claimed to sell oak furniture. In anyone else’s home, the set-up might have been quirky – the mossy wallpapered walls, the bareness of it all; it had Vogue potential, the type of thing you had to ‘get’ – yet, with all things considered, including Nelson Flood himself, it was just a bit seedy.
May was the cruellest month for Mai. She disliked her name as much as she disliked the sliminess of eels, the graininess of chickpeas, her upper lip hair, her periods, Molly showing off the Victoria’s Secret scalloped plunge bralette in the changing room, her profile pic, not having a dad, her mum’s job, her best friend Sophia moving to Cambridge for a better school, the rain, her curly hair, maths, PE, being an only child, and most recently the word ‘referendum’, or as her friends said, the R word.
When we first moved to the cul-de-sac I thought that meant we’d made it. Over the years we had levelled up through all types of living situation (age one: bedsit, age five: basement studio, age nine: rental flat) and beaten the final boss, a private landlord who refused to admit the damp on the ceiling was a result of dicey bathroom tiling and not us ‘pouring oil down the sink, clogging my drains’. Eventually, Mum told Sam either we left the flat or she’d leave the marriage, so he found a job with a company car in a coastal village fifteen miles west of the city, and that’s when we arrived. Age twelve: Cul de sac.
Some find the whole matter of eating easy, while others find it hard. I used to be on the wrong side of this great divide and somehow, to my own surprise and relief, leaped over to the other
side. This book is my attempt to explore how this switch was possible.
BUTTERMILK AND OAT CHICKEN SCHNITZEL from Anja Dunk’s Strudel, Noodles and Dumplings.
LITTLE POTATO DUMPLINGS WITH SPINACH CREAM from Anja Dunk’s Strudel, Noodles and Dumplings.