…of the week 6

Bake of the week: Double chocolate loaf
Film of the week: Silver Linings Playbook
Book of the week: The Home Corner by Ruth Thomas

It was HO’s birthday this week. A big one, as you can see from the picture above! He has been quite grumpy about it for quite a while now and the agony is being somewhat prolonged as we are celebrating with my family this weekend, so there will be more 40 balloons and compulsory badge wearing and another cake with 40 candles on. And my family. Singing, probably slightly drunkenly and loudly in the middle of a restaurant. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I did ask Mr Grumpypants of he only wanted a cake at the big lunch, but he decided that he wanted 2 cakes. Both must be chocolate. We compromised on a little cake for his actual birthday and a large one for this weekend. As it was the little cake was so rich that it took us 5 days to finish it. This was mainly because of the icing – it turns out that white chocolate buttercream is a tad sweet! One issue I have, however, is that I forgot to take any pictures of the process, so you’ll just have to trust me and use your imagination.

The original recipe is a Nigella one, but I have changed it around a little and you can find it here. The recipe is a little fiddly, adding boiling water and four at the same time and beating it in is not terribly simple if you’re prone to being a bit clumsy. I used a loaf tin liner but forgot to grease the tin, which would have made pouring in the extremely runny batter a lot easier. It did almost overflow the liner which was a touch dicey, so if you have a loaf tin that’s a bit on the small side then just watch out for that. It also stuck to the sides a bit at the top where it rose, but since it didn’t need to come out of the tin until cooled that was fine. It took FOREVER to cool down and sank quite a lot in the middle but it was absolutely delicious. The icing I made was very very sweet and only really edible with hefty bit of cake. I have been asked by D to make it again, but to leave off the icing – not a sentence I thought I would ever hear.

Next week Joy is on at the Silver Screening in Orpington, and when I went into my Amazon recommendations looking for a Saturday night movie, a previous David O. Russell film came up on the list. Silver Linings Playbook also stars Jennifer Lawrence which was a big plus for HO as he has a bit of a crush on Jennifer Lawrence and this kind of resigned him to the subject matter, which is not exactly lighthearted. This movie is billed as a rom com which I think is quite misleading. Although it has moments of comedy and moments of romance, it is defintiely not a genre rom com. The Bradley Cooper character (Pat) has just got out of a state mental institution and moved back with his parents as a condition of his release. It emerges that he is bi-polar and became violent when confronted with his wife’s affair. He has delusions and refuses medication. We go with him through a couple of manic episodes and these are the most sophisticated parts of the movie – managing to show both Pat’s confusion and increased agitation and the effect that the episode is having on those around him. At this point I should probably mention that my grandmother was diagnosed bi-polar manic depressive and was going through a manic phase when she was staying with us once, so I have seen a manic outburst like Pat’s first hand. This film gives a realistic enough portrayal to bring up some upsetting memories for me, and it could be that I didn’t truly appreciate the more comedic aspects of the movie as a result. Pat meets Tiffany, the sister-in-law of one of his friends, who appears to have her own problems. Her husband has been killed and she is treated as mentally unstable by her family. As the story unfolds it is apparent that she has some sort of personality disorder and the pair bond over their “crazy”. Tiffany uses Pat’s obsession with his ex-wife to trick him into entering a dance competition with her, the performance of which is the climax of the movie.

It is a slightly odd film. Although the first half seemed coherant and to be going somewhere, if not necessarily anywhere amusing, once the dance element got going I thought it started to get a little fuzzy around the edges, as if it wasn’t quite sure how to mould the story of 2 misfits with serious mental illnesses to fit the classic redemptive rom com ending without giving the impression that all you need to do to overcome your condition is meet the right girl. In the end it does manage to pull this off, with the dance competition and subsequent game day scene giving the warm happy glow with which every rom com should end.

Speaking of warm happy glows, the end of The Home Corner by Ruth Thomas also manages to leave you with one of those elusive satisfied smiles on your face. It is the story of nineteen-year-old Luisa who’s life falls apart in the last year of school and she finds herself working as a teaching assistant in a local primary school and still living with her parents as her classmates have headed off to university. After watching some today, I realised that what it reminded me of most was an episode of Girls, but without the sex and swearing, or in fact the obnoxious self-obsessed characters, but it had that sense of a person who is lost and a bit damaged trying to find their way when the stories that they are told about how their lives should go don’t seem to fit. It is essentially a coming-of-age story with a very likeable main character and the parts featuring the children ring particularly true to someone who listens to a 5-year-old narrating his world almost constantly. It also made me want to have a discussion about consent with my boys, though they are currently a bit young and I think there are a few other discussions we might have to have first. Meanwhile, I think I’ll save the cup of tea consent animation and hope that I remember where I put it!

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