I ran a writing workshop at Highsted Grammar School for Girls in Sittingbourne, Kent this week. 'How many of you in this room think you're great?' I asked. Unsurprisingly, not a murmur.
An hour later the room was pulsating with greatness, all the greatnesses we agreed to recognise and appreciate in ourselves.
I am great at making scrambled eggs. My secret is the dollop of creme fraiche I add just before the end of cooking time that keeps them soft and velvety. Then I sprinkle them with chopped chives.
|Scrambled eggs with 'dry-fried' day old croissant slices|
People love my scrambled eggs.
Between 11 and 14 I'd have been the girl in the corner of the room staring hard at the blankness of the white page beneath the phrase, 'I am great at...'. Perhaps with encouragement I might have been able to recognise that I was great at 'reading'. Or, 'reciting by heart all the names of the books in the Old Testament'. But it's never too late to recognise your greatness.
The inspiration for this exercise came from a blog I discovered by accident: Greatness & Gratitude. One of my favourite posts is: I am great at walking in stilettos. I am grateful for laughter. I would love to be great at walking in stilettos.
I am also great, according to my nine-year-old grandson, Oliver, at making fish fingers. Of course the making is less making and more slipping out of a frozen box and baking until they're crisp and golden but I'm happy to accept the accolade.
And I know the secret of fish fingers. I'd already been inducted into understanding their greatness by my great niece and nephew, Ffion and Iwan. They have to be Bird's Eye. They have to be cod.
Oliver's other Nan tempted him with Waitrose fish fingers. But they didn't even nudge greatness. 'Too fishy,' Oliver said.
12 fish fingers between three under tens = 9 plus 3 left over. And it was while reading Nigel Slater's Eating for England, a bite-size feast of everything peculiarly British - Spangles, Fray Bentos Pies, Steamed Puddings, Garibaldi Biscuits, Iced Gems, Bisto and hundreds more - that the idea of a fish finger sandwich came to mind.
Okay, I made it with hand-cut slices of black olive bread rather than 1960s homogenous Mother's Pride but I retained the authentic heart of the sandwich with a good lick of Heinz Tomato Ketchup.
I can't really say it reminded me of my childhood. Fish fingers only came on a plate with chips and peas, with thin slices of bread and butter on the side, when I was growing up. And while a sandwich made with the few remaining chips might have been tolerated at the table I suspect a fish finger one would have been frowned upon.
But I was reminded of the fish finger's greatness: crisp and soft, white flakes of cod in a golden coat. McDonalds knew what they were doing when they introduced the Filet-O-Fish, although you won't find cod in any of them. It's Alaskan pollock or hoki which, my young culinary advisers tell me, isn't great enough.
Hungry Writing Prompts
Write about your greatness.
Write about the person in the corner of the room.
Write about walking.
Write about a sandwich.
Write about hard and soft.