Suran Morrison: Out of the frying pan and into the ire

It’s been a busy old week for the newsreaders’ serious voices. You know, that deep, concerned one they put on, and you just know they’ve binned the skateboarding duck story.

It was all a bit wearing, so I changed channel and stumbled across Gordon Ramsay. My word, that Mr Ramsay is a very shouty man, with all that screaming, hand-slapping and swearing. The man is a great cook, I’ll grant you, but his management style owes more to Stalin than Beeton.

You see, I suspect that Mr Ramsay, the great chest-thumping silver-backed gorilla of the culinary world, thinks we regard cooking is a girly thing, so he hits kitchens like Bruce Willis taking out Apache helicopters armed with nothing but a sweaty vest and a pair of sugar tongs. It’s a kitchen, for heaven’s sake, a place where lovely food should be created for people to enjoy.

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How can you hope to digest your balsamic glazed salmon and chips (all made with locally sourced, fresh, natural ingredients) when you know the kitchen underlings are being decimated by a deranged commis chef, off her face on snorted icing sugar, lurching about with an empty cooking sherry bottle in each hand, ranting about the failure of her pommes frites which Ramsay pronounced “terrible” – in language so strong that the bleep machine exploded?

Cooking is a caring thing. As a matter of fact, I care so much for my family and friends that I don’t cook. It’s my husband who helms the cooker. He likes cooking and we enjoy the great food he creates. There’s a growing telly trend to take those caring activities and turn them into the sort of event that has people screaming and crying and questioning the ref’s decision.

Baking, I ask you. Baking cakes. Don’t get me wrong, I am aware that within the Women’s Institute there exists a competitive element to a tray bake that makes Jessica Ennis look like a 10k fun runner, but the most withering criticism they dealt was a sharply drawn breath at a soggy Victoria sponge, and the recommendation that custard covers a multitude of sins (it does).

The sedate pastime of baking has become a matter of televised cake-rage, with people hurling vitriolic abuse over Black Forest Gateaux and scones.

And now, we have competitive sewing. This isn’t the high pressure world of haute couture fashion houses, where fortunes are lost and reputations ruined by the droop of an A-lister’s hemline on a red carpet. Nope, this is running up a little something on the Singer to a nifty 
Simplicity pattern. Where will domesticity as contact sport end?

I want to throw my hat in the ring right now and point out that in the ironing stakes I yield to no-one. You pass me the wrinkled, the crinkled and the crumpled and watch whilst my turbo steam hisses, smooths and creases in all the right places. Steaming Irons? Bags I judge.

This lady’s for turning . . back the clock please

Possibly the worst thing about the passing of a 1980s big hitter like Maggie is the fact that suddenly the telly is awash with hate figures of the past now looking like people you should be helping to cross the road. I’m sure I saw Nigel Lawson looming out of the screen looking like something that had just been dragged out of the King Tut’s tomb, desiccated and wizened.

The second worst thing is realising that you, too, have aged, and probably look just as grim.

Chants would be a fine thing . .

Mind you, Thatcher did have a great name to chant. Who of my vintage can forget hearing “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, out, out, out”?

Let’s face it, raging against the Lib Dem half of today’s coalition would be “Nick, Nick, Nick”, which sounds like a Jim Davidson tribute act. Not cool.

All play and no work for funeral

When a politician dies they sometimes get promoted to a sort of secular sainthood. Look at Donald Dewar, John Smith and Robin Cook. This isn’t meant as disrespectful. When they lived they were great men, cut down early by the Grim Reaper, who seems, dare I say it, to have approached the most recent recruit to the ranks of the front-bench dead with some trepidation, waiting some 87 years before deploying that scythe. Perhaps even Death had to dodge that famous swinging handbag.

But this particular politician may well buck the trend to canonisation. To be fair, trend-bucking was a habit for her. Whatever you think, Margaret Thatcher was a remarkable woman, but I doubt very much that Maggie will ever be accorded the glowing mistiness we give other dead politicians. That expensive state-funded funeral won’t help her reputation much, either. If we must have the gun carriage and Horse Guards, couldn’t they at least give us a day off? A nation standing about not working is a fitting tribute to the woman.