I always said that when it happens, I would like to be on the other side of the world.
But I wasn’t. I wasn’t even around the corner. I was here with Arabella as her world fell apart. It’s over with the boyfriend, the one who’s been visiting us since she was 11. Now there was certainly no romance back in those days, in fact the dating only really began when she was 14 (but lasted a number of days) and then I think there were a few more days of romance when she was 15. By the time she was 16 they weren’t speaking but when she was 17 it was, ‘I’m going to marry him, mum’.
The events that took place to change ‘we’re not speaking’ to ‘I’m going to marry him’ were caused by me when I innocently decided the family needed to get away from Sydney’s longest and coldest and wettest winter and booked a holiday to Far North Queensland where it was the dry season and the temperatures rarely fall below 28C (83F).
Except that what we discovered when we arrived was that Far North Queensland was experiencing it’s coldest ever winter and despite it being the dry season it poured with rain every day of our holiday. One day there was a rare break in the downpour so we rushed out of our apartment and headed to the resort’s pool area. I was quite happy to recline on a pool lounge and not talk to anyone but Carl being Carl, struck up a conversation with the couple next to us who were holidaying with their three young daughters.
Stranger than fiction it turned out that the woman lying on the pool lounge next to Carl was Sophie, a woman who had grown up on the neighbouring property to the boyfriend’s property and not only was she their neighbour, she used to babysit the boyfriend and his younger brother. She still lives in Gunnadah because a decade or so ago the boyfriend’s parents introduced her to a local man who became her husband.
When Arabella became aware of the connection she took a photo of us with Sophie and her husband and emailed it to the boyfriend she wasn’t speaking to. He, of course, couldn’t believe we were poolside lying next to family friends and so the lines of communication were once again opened and the day after we arrived home from our cold and soggy tropical retreat, Arabella was on the train for the seven-hour journey to the property in Gunnadah.
She came home from her country sojourn announcing he was the love of her life and that she was going to marry him.
Fast-forward 10 months and it’s splits-ville.
One afternoon she rang me and said, ‘Something happened today, mum’.
‘I got another piercing’.
‘That had better not be on your face’.
‘Well it is, mum.’
‘Did you get your nose pierced?’
‘Yes I did, mum’.
So she arrived home with a red and swollen nostril containing a piece of shiny metal and told me it was sore. I said, ‘Arabella, I thought we were done with the piercing phase. Didn’t you get that out of your system when you were 14?’
‘It had to be done, mum’.
‘No, it didn’t actually.’
When Arabella was 14 she went to one of those ‘tolerant’ schools. That did her no good whatsoever. We ripped her out of there and put her into the School for Princesses. No tolerance shown there! The piercings were all removed except for the ones they couldn’t see and one set of studs in her ears.
Last week she walked to the princess school with the metal in her nose. When she arrived home I asked, ‘Did you see the Deputy principal?’ (Who is also her mentor).
‘Well did she see your piercing?’
‘Well what did she say?’
‘She said it looks hideous.’
‘Well did you tell her I agree?’
‘She already knows that mum’.
But somehow, because she has but a few days left at the school before her final exams, the school is choosing to overlook this extra bit of metal. Pity.
So the piercing is still there and that’s how you recover from a broken heart.
Did you do anything ridiculous after a break-up?
Piercings or no piercings, I still love my daughter and this is her all-time favourite meal. She likes it because she calls it a vegetarian pasta and just overlooks the fact it has nice, crunchy, crispy slices of pancetta.
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: This is dinner for a family for just a few dollars.
- 1 tbspn olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
- 1/2 glass red wine
- 800g tinned crushed tomatoes
- 1 bunch of basil, leaves only
- 12 slices pancetta
- 400g spaghetti
- parmesan cheese, shaved
Pre-heat oven to 200C.
In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook until translucent (about 3 mins). Add garlic and cook gently being careful not to let it burn. Add chilli flakes then add red wine and allow to bubble. Add tinned tomatoes and basil leaves. Season then simmer for around 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place pancetta on an oven tray covered with baking paper. Place in the oven and cook for around 10 mins or until crispy.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on the packet. Drain.
Place pasta on serving plates, top with tomato and basil sauce, add pancetta and top with shavings of parmesan cheese.
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