Productivity has diminished of late in direct correlation with dog-owner general happiness. We embarked upon getting a dog after many years of deliberation and research. Morse (an inquisitive little chap named after the Inspector series that has meaning for us both) came to us via a Belfast family who should have known that a dog is for life, not just for Christmas. No matter, because we profited by gaining a beautiful, good natured pup who had been taken through the difficult early months of toilet training and night-time whining, arriving with us ready for proper training or, as Gemma seemed stated, boot camp. Naturally, all our best laid plans were abandoned regarding the dog’s use of furniture, but we remain gratefully dog-free in the bedrooms, and with most belongings intact and relatively chew-free, slippers aside. Some project work has continued however. A few drum lampshades have been upgraded using these handy little kits on eBay. I think this 50s vintage print teamed with the retro base bought for 50p at the salvage yard is rather charming. My thoughts will soon turn to the redecoration of ‘Lucy’s Grotto’, a box room piled high with all manner of creative accoutrements, but not yet. Whilst the paintbrushes lie fallow in the drawer, I decided to turn towards the skills of others for inspiration. I had once spotted on a Nigel Slater cookery show a mighty fine mortar and pestle; a wide, capacious article within which he was swirling all manner of exotic spices and botanicals. A brief search revealed it had been hand made by a sculptor as a gift to the chef. Well, chance be a fine thing, we happen to know a very fine stone sculptor, who kindly accepted the commission. Carrera marble was shipped from Italy during his latest sabbatical, and several months later this marvellous piece arrived in my kitchen, ready for active culinary duty.
Ali and I decided, much to my great advantage, that a skill swap would occur rather than a financial transaction. So far, this has involved the fruits of my pestle’s labour on a frequent basis, some decorative assistance, and an armchair partial re-upholstering. Like me, you’ll be thinking that I’ve lucked out in this particular deal. But we got to thinking, the skill swap is a form of egalitarian commerce that could be the next big ‘hug a hoodie’ initiative. Think about it – society could be transformed! I’m not clear how (a sure sign that I should henceforth never consider a career in politics) but we should all be thinking about it anyway….