I'm not sure how I've managed to avoid sharing this rather startling piece of information but, a couple of months back, I had a letter inviting me to take part in the popular TV series, Come Dine With Me.
There were the obvious objections to accepting the invitation: allowing myself to become a prey for Dave Lamb's devastating voice-over commentary (uproarious as long as you're not the target) and having strangers and a film crew rummaging through my knicker drawer. However, there was that enticing carrot of the £1000 prize money so that - momentarily at least - I did find myself wondering: "Which of my many and various kitchens should I use?"
By which I mean: should I use the one at Amici, Kennington (great starter of scrambled egg and melted feta on bruschetta)? Or Chimes of Pimlico (first rate Fidget Pie, which, if you've never had it, contains apples, gammon and herbs)? Or The Vineyard, Camberwell (excellent traditional keftedes - Greek meatballs - with feta salad and tzatziki)? Or, perhaps, The Loft, Clapham (unbelievably delicious Gloucester Old Spot pork belly with watercress mash, orange and mint carrots and home made spiced apple chutney)?
The best solution would be to persuade our friend Sophie to let me use her kitchen - or, better still, since she is an excellent cook, get her to prepare the meal and then nip out just before the guests turned up. This option was heartily endorsed by Sophie's mum, Wendy (an avid watcher of the show), but, unfortunately, didn't get around the problems of Mr Lamb's rapier (or, rather, 'hatchet') wit or the drawer-rummaging which would be far more potentially embarrassing with, as it were, someone else's drawers!
So, all things considered - especially the fact there are so many books and things on our own dining room table that we've not sat at it for years and I doubt that, these days, I could cook anything more sophisticated than boiled egg and soldiers - I decided to let the invitation go unanswered.
Still, it was nice -- I think -- to have been asked...