It’s been five years since I sat huddled inside the hallowed walls of Ely Cathedral against the cold fenland night. I was there for one of their less frequent services; a sermon by the Domestic Goddess herself, Nigella Lawson. I worshiped, adored, stood in line like a pilgrim, and made an offering, all in an act of devotion that I found more emotional that you would associate with a book talk and signing.
There is great power in offering thanks and I genuinely believe that saying a simple ‘thank you’ is one of the most perfect things that you can do.
Flashback to October 2012 and I nervously approached the microphone to ask a question in the Q&A section of Nigella’s talk to accompany the release of Nigelissima. I had been singled out by my idol as she had spotted the rather fabulous hat that I was wearing! I asked Nigella what advice she would offer to an aspiring food writer, feeling that this question was more than appropriate given that she had praised her own beloved author and inspiration, Anna Del Conte, in her talk. The advice I received was simple – if you love writing, then write! Write about what you love to eat and write in your own voice, a trick that ensures authenticity and a uniqueness that does not labour to be different for its own sake. It’s great advice. I queued to have my copy of Nigelissima signed, went home, and wrote about the experience of meeting my idol in a blog post called On Idolatry, which you can read by clicking here or on the quick phone picture below that serves as evidence of this first meeting.
Last night, I practically vibrated as I approached the microphone to speak to Nigella, very publicly, once more. You all know me – I have no fear of public speaking but what I had to say was almost too much for my corset to contain.
I said thank you. I thanked Nigella for eleven fantastic books which combine a love of food with prose that entertains as well as informs. Recipes are all well and good but it is the stories that accompany them that make them special, that make me want to cook them up in my own kitchen and feed them to the characters in my own story.
Then I recounted the tale that I have just told you and thanked Nigella for her advice and her encouragement. I told her that since receiving this advice I have had two books published, I write regularly for two rather fabulous magazines, that I am always writing and, when I am not writing, I am baking. What I wanted to scream at the top of my voice was “I FUCKING LOVE WRITING SO MUCH AND I GET TO DO IT FOR A LIVING THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!” but I held that in because I was in a Cathedral. That’s probably why I was vibrating.
Nigella could not have been kinder. She congratulated me and was happy that her advice had been useful. As I stood in the queue to have my copy of At My Table signed, I clutched a copy of my own book, Deliciously Decorated, to me until I could make my offering. There’s a part of me that has been on cloud nine all day to imagine that Nigella may at some point read something that I have written. I would still like to bake a cake for Nigella Lawson – I have imagined it and, maybe, just maybe, one day…
I was not the only person to ask a question in the Cathedral last night; a few steps behind me in the question queue was another young woman who asked for Nigella’s advice as an aspiring food writer. I look forward to hearing that young woman’s thanks in five years time. I sincerely hope that she takes the advice that Nigella gave me five years ago and repeated last night. It’s great advice.
I am so glad that I had the opportunity to say thank you. Who knows where the next five years will take me and my writing. I cannot wait to find out.
First thing’s first though… I’m going to curl up with a cuppa and Nigella’s latest and dip myself head first into her rather wonderful world for an hour or so.