Food’s off the menu… so comfort’s coming from other sources

For reasons I won’t bore you with at present, I cannot eat properly at the moment.

I cannot cook, either, which is proving very strange. Food is such a key part of our working week and of our weekends together that to be unable to enjoy it is rather tough. It has also caused me to daydream constantly about certain meals I wish I could enjoy, regardless of whether or not that would be possible.

For starters, I have been picturing both my favourite takeaway meal – a chicken burger with coleslaw, chips and chicken gravy from Country Fried Chicken in my NI hometown – and my favourite meal out, The Harbour’s fantastic fillet steak with tobacco onions and bearnaise sauce, a feast I enjoyed recently whilst on holiday at the north coast.

And I have been dreaming of meals of times gone by, my grandmother’s mince pie and my auntie Jean’s melt-in-the-mouth Sunday roast.

Now that the comfort of cooking and eating has, temporarily, been taken away, I have turned instead to books and music to console myself, and sustain me through the unpleasantness.

As far as the latter is concerned, I seek solace in my collection of the film soundtracks of the composer Thomas Newman, particularly The Shawshank Redemption, Little Women, Wall-E, How to Make An American Quilt and American Beauty. How on earth has that man never won an Oscar for his work?

The books I cling to in times of strife are the old favourites, the tomes I re-borrowed and re-borrowed from our local library as a young girl. The LM Montgomery Anne books are sacred to me, particularly Anne of the Island (in which she and Gilbert finally sort out their relationship), as are Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. My favourite of those is again the one in which her romantic future is secured – These Happy Golden Years details her burgeoning relationship with Almanzo Wilder and is also a corker of a tale of her first job as a schoolteacher.

Two of my old favourites

I have already looked them out and positioned them at my side, joined by Robin McKinley’s lovely retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story, simply named Beauty, and Lynne Reid Banks’ My Darling Villain (out of print because of a view its politics had dated).

Days are long at the moment, but I’m armed for the challenges.