Last night I was lying on the couch in a drug-induced state courtesy of some prescribed medication following a medical procedure that is too stomach churning to talk about so I’m not going to mention it. The drugs were working quite nicely but then Archie came into the room holding a ‘gut-string’ guitar.
‘I just love the sound of this gut-string, mum and hey, I’ve written a new song. Do you want to hear it?’
But I didn’t really have a choice because Archie found a position in the room and started playing the gut string and singing his new song. While he was singing he was tapping his foot and poking out of his boot was a wooden stick with bells on it that Santa had given Alfie a couple of Christmases ago. As Archie tapped his foot the bells jingled and the gut-string played and with me having well exceeded the recommended dose, I was seeing and hearing a complete band.
That’s when Archie snapped me out of my near-coma by saying, ‘Mum, I’m putting the band together.’
What band? There is no band. There is only Archie who has a couple of guitars, a few harmonicas, a didgeridoo, one of Alfie’s toys and too much spare time.
‘Mum, I’ve been thinking. I’ve decided I’m not going to Uni next year. I’m going to get some mates and a car and we’ll travel around Australia and get work gigging in pubs. Wouldn’t that be awesome’.
Drugs are a good thing. They mellow out ‘horrified’ and leave you instead feeling stunned. ‘What do you mean, Archie?’
‘Mum, you’ve got to do these things when you’re young.’
But you don’t have to do these things. You don’t have to do them at all. You can be normal and go to Uni and do some study and work weekends in the menswear section of a department store selling ties, socks and jocks like the rest of us did. We didn’t think of going around Australia in a beat-up car as an alternative to a tertiary eduction.
And we certainly didn’t think of shocking our mothers with major lifestyle changes so soon after returning home from horrendous medical procedures. We at least waited until the next morning.
So Archie’s downstairs writing more music for ‘the band’ and I’m upstairs filling out his application to numerous colleges. As my mother said to me, ‘You’ll thank me when you’re older’.
It’s nearly Melbourne Cup Day and as I’m having a group of girls over for lunch that day, I’m practising making chicken sandwiches. I made these tonight and there were so many fights over them in the kitchen that there are none left for the lunchboxes tomorrow. I had no idea a decent chicken sandwich would be so popular. They key is to poach your own chicken which is very easy to do.
Poached Chicken Sandwiches
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Makes: 5 Sandwiches (10 slices of bread)
Cost: Inexpensive compared to dining in a cafe
2 free-range chicken breasts
1 bay leaf
1 small white onion
5 black peppercorns
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots, green tips included
1/3 cup pinenuts toasted in a frying pan
2 tbspns finely chopped chives
1/2 cup whole egg mayonnaise
10 slices good quality white or wholemeal bread
Place the chicken in a medium saucepan with the onion, bay leaf and peppercorns. Pour in enough water to cover, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Set aside and leave to cool with the lid on. Once the chicken is cooled, slice it into fine pieces. Place the chicken in a bowl with the celery, chives, shallots, pine nuts and mayonnaise and mix until well combined. Season well with salt and pepper. Spread 5 slices of bread with the chicken filling, top with remaining bread, then cut each sandwich into 3 fingers.