As winter approaches, a young man’s fancy inevitably turns to thoughts of Nigella Lawson. Or at least, this man’s fancy does. She’s such a charming, well-spoken woman, I could quite happily sit and watch her read the telephone directory… so long as she made a few amusing asides every now and again. It’s fun watching her flirt with the camera as she cooks away, but she was equally engaging company on the pop-genealogy programme Who Do You Think You Are?, tracing her European Jewish ancestry. Rather shocking to learn that her great-great-great grandfather actually fled to this country to escape a criminal conviction! If I said that the Dutch legal system’s loss was our culture’s gain, would I sound like some sort of pesky liberal? God forbid!
The only problem with watching Lawson’s cheffing shows, which for some bizarre reason are only available on DVD in Australia (no wonder they call it “the lucky country”!), is that it so often leads to hunger… and disappointment, when I remember that I’m on a diet and can’t cook. I know that many comedians have mocked her for using rarefied ingredients, but really they’re missing the point. Her shows are “comfort food” for the brain… like reading a PG Wodehouse book, or similarly cosy middle-class fare. It’s aspirational and idyllic… I just sit back and let it wash over me, then fantasise about punting past “dreaming spires”, and being able to understand the menu in fancy-schmancy cafes. The last time I visited Oxford, for a very happy stroll around the Museum of Modern Art, I ended up slouching off to Burger King for lunch, like the oik I truly am. Sigh… if only I could be one of the fake friends Nigella pretends to have dinner parties with on TV!
As if I needed any other reason to admire the woman, she also has access to Tracey Emin’s notorious installation, My Bed (1999)… a work which I’ll continue to defend to my death, dammit. I remember reading somewhere that Emin had visited Lawson to replace the condoms which form part of the piece. Not sure if that was a joke, but it’s an image I think we should all meditate on.