Monday morning and I am heading south on Harley Street towards a rendezvous with ramifications, a date that is also a terrible coincidence. The last time I was on this page I had just been despatched to the Viva Mayr clinic in Austria to have colonic irrigation. Bizarrely, here I am again, on another assignment to have the same treatment, this time at its new London outpost. Why oh why do section editors keep sending me to do this? I rack my brain for answers, for clues, a hint, a sign, but nothing springs to mind. Any ideas? Keep them to yourself.
Speaking of deep cleansing, the Cumbrian family firm Lakeland has just previewed its Christmas range at the Oxo Tower, a day of unbearable excitement for kitchenalia aficionados. I love Lakeland’s endless, thrilling gadgets to core, hull, pip and stone, plus its devotion to stain removal and a lint- free life. So what’s new? Apparently spiralisers are down, microwave egg poachers are up and souping is the new juicing. The next big thing is fermentation, the process of turning cabbages (UK sales up 39 per cent) into um, delicious kimchi and sauerkraut. Even Tom on The Archers is doing it, so it is officially A Thing. ‘Jan,’ says a Lakeland personage, ‘you would be amazed how easy it is to ferment.’ Actually, I say, with a melancholy sigh, I wouldn’t. However, what is not to love about the darling new jars, complete with little blowholes to aid the fermentation process. At night, in the darkness of the pantry, I like to think they whistle and chirp, like a pod of lightly vinegared whales.
At Glyndebourne, the crowd goes wild for my friend Lise Davidsen, who is making her debut there in Ariadne auf Naxos. Lise is the 6ft-plus 30-year-old Norwegian lyric dramatic soprano currently being hailed as the next great singer of our time, but you would never guess from her modest manner. Backstage after the show, she pads around barefoot, unfazed by the timber-rattling ovation that greeted her performance — and the reviews have been ecstatic, too. The Telegraph hailed her as ‘magnificent’; the Guardian went with ‘one of the greatest voices I have ever heard’. But my girl doesn’t want to know. ‘Don’t tell me!’ she cries, hands over ears as she prepares to get the bus back to her B&B in Lewes. Lise never reads her notices in case they affect her performance. So she sings on in Sussex, in happy ignorance that she has caused a sensation.
Should Kirstie Allsopp take note? The television presenter has been in the news for declaring on Twitter that having a washing machine in the kitchen is ‘disgusting’. Cue outrage from thousands of inverted snobs who bridled at a baron’s daughter telling them what to do with their pants. In the Daily Mail I wrote that perhaps it said something about the fruitiness of her partner Ben’s socks (God I am hilarious) and the storm raged on. Displeased at the fuss, Kirstie took to Twitter to say she was leaving Twitter, then wrote online about exactly why she was leaving Twitter, although she would still be making marketing announcements on Twitter, which is why — let’s be honest — she was on Twitter in the first place. Shall we pause to consider for a moment that Edward VIII abdicated the throne with less fuss? And may I say something else? Those who invite reaction by their actions can choose, like Lise Davidsen, to ignore it, but only the foolish try to control it.
Home for Lise is a remote town called Stokke, which means log in Norwegian, which is all you need to know. Dad is an electrician, mum worked in healthcare, no one in the family is particularly musical. When her parents come to her concerts, everyone cries together afterwards. This creature in our family! How did it happen? Lise grew up wanting to be a nurse, then a pop star, then the new Joni Mitchell, but never an operatic. Her story is already incredible, and suggests that one’s miraculous, incredible, personally bevelled destiny is out there waiting; you just have to keep going, beating against the tide, until you find each other.
Oh dear. Back in Harley Street it is time to prepare for serious business, as Theresa May would say. But no treatments today (hipp hipp hurra, as they say in Stokke); just an examination by Dr Sepp. My new diagnosis sheds light on my current physical state, suggesting that I am vanilla intolerant and magnesium depleted, which makes me sound like a fragrant but broken-down bomb. And who could argue with that? Certainly not Kirstie Allsopp.
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