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Delia, hairy men and me

PUBLISHED: 10:05 02 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:05 02 October 2017

Delia and me and our pavlova. Picture: BB

Delia and me and our pavlova. Picture: BB


Lynne has been creative in the kitchen, while her husband has started to grow his winter coat to become beardie man.

Something wonderful has happened.

Lauren at work has asked me for my pavlova recipe... no one has ever asked me for a recipe before. I would have announced it first on Facebook and Twitter but I felt this column was the right place for such an extraordinary occurrence.

My cooking is very much that of a woman who reluctantly decides she must feed her husband and children because he’s working full time and they’re too young to use the oven. It was always standard fare − cottage pie; toad in the hole; roast; fish fingers, beans and mash; chilli; spaghetti Bolognese. Angel Delight, yoghurt, fresh fruit or banana custard for pudding. Pavlovas were for special occasions: birthdays and parties and it pains me to admit it but the recipe began with Delia... as did most, if not all, of my culinary successes.

My 1980s edition of her Complete Cookery Course is gravy stained, with a broken spine, and some pages are stuck together with goodness knows what but it is still the place I go for curried nut roast and beouf en daube. Over the years Delia has revisited some of her recipes and added new-fangled ingredients that were not available or not yet invented in the 80s. But I stick to the originals. Smoked paprika in the goulash? I don’t think so.

Anyway, Lauren asked for the pavlova recipe and Delia and I have happily passed it on. Vive la meringue.

But something not so wonderful has also happened.

After 21 years of increasingly intermittent service, the central heating boiler is now decidedly dicky and the tank in the airing cupboard is also on the blink. We gulped because we knew the cost of replacement would be very high − I suppose Crowdfunding isn’t an option? (No, Lynne. ED). Maybe instead of crowdfunding you could get crowdhuddling in which everyone comes round to your house and huddles together for warmth.

Like so many furry creatures, my husband has started to grow his winter coat... that is to say, he is growing a white beard. It used to be dark, then ginger. Last year, you may remember, he grew a beard for his starring role as Father Christmas at the Tyntesfield Christmas Experience, near Bristol.

They wanted him back again this year but due to prior commitments (I wrote a list) he is unable to give them Santa Claus, the Sequel. But he will get the look. He started growing his beard last weekend. On Sunday, he forgot he was not shaving and shaved half his face. Should he, however, be growing a beard at all?

This email came too late: “New research by male grooming brand men-ü has affirmed that East Anglia is a region of hair obsessed males.”

For better or worse I have learned that 77% of East Anglian men spend up to an hour getting ready for a big night out (amazing then that most of them achieve a look that indicates more like five minutes). Then I find out that while they spend a long time on their hairstyles: “14% are taking time to trim their intimate areas”. Stop! That is far too much information. Deodorant and a comb, surely that should suffice?

I’m not condoning the caveman approach to grooming but there’s nothing wrong with armpit and chest hair. In the last X Factor auditions I noticed that Simon Cowell has resumed his natural hairiness and was showing off his organic nesting material with an unbuttoned shirt.

I was interested too to see a BuzzFeed article with hairiness rankings from one to five bears. Henry Cavill (Superman) was awarded two bears; Antonio Banderas, three; Pierce Brosnan, three and a half; Hugh Jackman three and a half (I’d have given him four); Tom Selleck, four and three quarters; Sean Connery, five bears.

I don’t want my men (most of the above included) pruning back their hirsuteness. Let it thrive and flourish. I am married to an East Anglian man and he gets six bears.

• Spotted: a birth announcement in The Times of London: “... a son, Ivo, brother to Compost and Maggot”. What’s wrong with Mulch?

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