|These are actually Hugh's disastrous dumplings, but we ate all of my mum's dumplings so fast there was no time to take a photo, so this is just to give you the idea|
Gay men don't like me. I've always suspected this but lately I've come to realise that it's just a fact.
Actually, it's not that they don't like me, it's that they are totally indifferent to me, which I think is in some way worse. I am to a gay man what a 65 year old woman is to a 23 year-old builder from Essex: invisible.
I used to try to be fabulous and bitchy and engaging and flamboyant, in a sort of desperate caricature of what I thought a gay man might want in a woman - and it briefly aroused a faint flicker of interest from one or two gay men. But it was unsustainable and I soon slid back into my natural persona: anti-social, chilly, beady, unsympathetic. And the loose grip I had on their interest melted away like the only two snowflakes of a mild winter on a warm car bonnet.
Everyone else I know has a gay friend - at least one. Everyone. Even my 85 year-old Swiss-German grandmother. "I vent to Lausanne last veekend," she will say. "Wiz my PANSY FRIEND Alain G-!" and she will shriek with delight at the thought of neat little Alain with his kerchief and lovely manners and expertise in early Renaissance ceramics.
Even my husband has a huge gay following and gay men have always thought he was great. At parties I usually find him talking to some very high-powered gay man, who will be standing there in a £5,000 suit laughing, showing off a lot of very perfect teeth and sighing and saying "Oh Giles." And then I come up and stand there and smile, feeling like a frump, and the high-powered gay man's eyes will slightly glaze over when I say something. And then eventually I'll excuse myself to the loo and let them get on with it.
"Yeah that's a surprise they don't like you," said my friend Wendy, who has, I think, almost exclusively gay friends. "Because, you know, you can be quite a bitch and they quite like that."
I ought to take lessons off my mother: she is a gay magnet extraordinaire. But she's not a bitch. She just LOVES gay men, or anyone camp or anyone fabulous. I'd say it's because she's an artist, but she's not like that - she's not all dope-smoking and far-out, man - she's just a very talented figurative draughtswoman. And by that I mean she draws things and they look like what they are. And sculpture, ooh you should her sculptures. But there must be a flamboyant, "modern", arty side to her that makes all these super dooper gay men flock to her door.
I ought to listen to my mother more, in general. Like the other day, I wanted to make dumplings for a stew but instead of ringing my mother, who makes great dumplings, I looked up a recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Meat Book for a recipe and they were TERRIBLE! Hard and nasty.
So I meekly emailed my mother for her recipe and she sent it back and they came out perfectly - like little clouds. Perhaps now I can make dumplings like clouds a gay man will want to be my friend. But I doubt it.
My mother's dumplings
Makes about 8
"6oz SELF RAISING flour,
Salt & pepper,
lots of parsley (optional, but good with stewed lamb).
Mix to a soft, not too dry consistency"
[N.B. how my mother uses CAPITAL LETTERS about the self-raising flour, as I would. DNA: not a made-up thing.]
You can either cook these in a steamer, if you've got one, for 25 minutes - or rest them on top of your stew for the last 25 minutes of its cooking time.