Dear Adrian Mole

200px-thesecretdiaryofadrianmole

Dear Adrian,

I was so sorry to hear about the death of Sue Townsend, the comic genius who brought your diaries to a wider audience.  I know you felt that she was the one who profited from your private life, passing it off as her own work of fiction, but without her, the world would not have been exposed to your life, family and unenviable range of problems.

Your writing may not have been quite as clever or as intellectual as you believed it to be, but I loved it anyway.  I loved your intellectual posturing, your teenage angst and even your snobbishness: ‘Perhaps when I am famous and my diary is discovered people will understand the torment of being a 13¾ -year-old undiscovered intellectual.’

Your poetry had a simplicity and naivety that, unlike the work of your arch nemesis Barry Kent, went unappreciated:

 The Tap by Adrian Mole

The tap drips and keeps me awake,


In the morning there will be a lake.


For the want of a washer the carpet will spoil,


Then for another my father will toil.


My father could snuff it while he is at work.


Dad, fit a washer don’t be a burk!

But beneath it all, you were kind, loyal and brave, as you proved when you saved your sons from a burning house: ‘I have often wondered how I would stand up against fire, flood and tempest. Would I run in panic and try to save my own life?  Until tonight I suspected that I would do exactly that. But when I woke to the exploding glass and the choking smoke and the sharp flames on the stairs, I found that my own life was unimportant to me. Nothing else mattered apart from removing my sons from danger.’

Your diaries have been my most constant literary companions over the years.  During times of sadness or grief, I always turned to their familiarity, their easy humour and warmth for distraction and comfort.  You had the gift of making me laugh out loud: ‘I have just had the most humiliating experience of my life. It started when I began to assemble my model aeroplane. I had nearly finished it when I thought I would try an experimental sniff of glue. I put my nose to the undercarriage and sniffed for five seconds, nothing spiritual happened but my nose stuck to the plane! My father took me to Casualty to have it removed, how I endured the laughing and sniggering I don’t know.   The Casualty doctor wrote ‘Glue Sniffer’ on my outpatient’s card.’

I loved Sue Townsend’s other books too, but your diaries were the ones that resonated with me, that every teenager in Britain read during the ’80s.  You embodied the last thirty years with your experiences and opinions (often hilariously wrong) of social and political events.  As an adult, re-reading your diaries, I realised how much of the humour had gone completely over my head: ‘I have just realized I have never seen a dead body or a real female nipple. This is what comes of living in a cul-de-sac.’  Many of the references were also lost on me – who were Dostoyevsky, Sakharov or Malcolm Muggeridge?

Now, I feel sad that we’ll never hear from you again.  Would you be have embraced social media; tweeting and snapchatting, instead of writing your diary?  Would you have fathered more children with different women?  Would you have finally found love in the arms of Pandora, the love of your life?   I like to think so.  Surely she couldn’t refuse the man who could write: ‘Pandora! I adore ya. I implore ye,
 Don’t ignore me.’

Thank you for allowing Sue Townsend to share your life with us,

I’ll miss you,

Barb x

The Mighty Pen

 This is a short story that I wrote a couple of years ago for a creative writing course.  At the end there’s a plea for help… 

The Mighty Pen 

The printed sheet of A4 paper held disdainfully between his thumb and forefinger, Sebastian tossed it dismissively across the seminar room.  It competed briefly with the dust motes dancing in the late evening sunshine before falling gracefully to the floor, where it offered itself up to the class: the physical evidence of my literary failings.

“Writing is hard, Rosanna.  A real writer reaches deep into his soul, drags his demons out, screaming and kicking, before stabbing them through the heart to the page.  Every word is agonizing.  Every sentence drips with the blood of torment and pain.”

The other students were motionless, hypnotised by Sebastian’s words.

“Puns? Jokes?” He spat out the words with disgust, as if he couldn’t bear the taste of them in his mouth for a moment longer than necessary.  “A year into your degree and this is still your idea of writing?  A ridiculous story of a kitten who gets trapped in a photocopier?”

My voice was quiet and I couldn’t stop it trembling as I attempted to defend myself against Sebastian’s vicious tirade, “I worked really hard on it. You said we could write in any genre about what we wanted.”

The last few words disappeared in a high-pitched squeak as my courage drained away.

Sebastian narrowed his eyes and looked down his long, thin nose at me.  “This is a programme for serious writers and it’s better to tell you now before you waste any more of your time – or mine.  You have no real talent or depth in you.  I’d like you to leave my class.”

My cheeks burnt and the tears that filled my eyes threatened to reveal the extent of my humiliation. I didn’t trust my voice not to betray me so I gathered my notes in silence and left the room, my head bowed and my incriminating tears hidden behind large, tortoiseshell sunglasses.

What right did Sebastian have to criticise me like that? So my stories weren’t as emotional as Matthew’s pieces about the Jewish refugees or Emma’s account of her painful divorce.  But I’d liked my Copy Cat tale and a few students had laughed in the right places.  They’d stopped smiling once Sebastian had launched into his diatribe against me, not wanting to be seen to have a different opinion. They were just as bad as Sebastian, sucking up to him so he’d give them good grades for their mediocre degree at their mediocre university.   Well, sod the lot of them.

***

Sebastian poured another cup of coffee and broke off a piece of croissant. He popped it in his mouth and savoured the buttery taste as he sank back into the silk cushions of his armchair, his feet raised to the warmth of the log fire. Relaxed weekend mornings were a welcome respite from the constant student interruptions that plagued his working week.  He picked up the Sunday supplement and idly flicked through the pages.

An involuntary jerk sent his coffee cup and saucer crashing to the floor.   The magazine ripped as he clutched it towards a sudden stabbing pain in his chest.  The offending article, lying face-up on the luxurious Oriental rug, was the last thing Sebastian saw as his vision faded away, the words mocking him:

Number one on the Sunday Times Best Sellers list: Punning for Gold by Rosanna Bennett.

Martin Amis reviews the debut novel from this talented young author: “Bennett shows real depth and emotion in this incredibly well written journey through a beautifully constructed linguistical playground. In fact, Punning for Gold is just like anti-gravity – impossible to put down.”

Writing is easy

If you liked this, I’m looking for beta readers (yes, I hate that expression but it seems to be what they’re called!) for my children’s novel.   I’ve finally finished the first draft and really need a couple of avid readers (or writers) to look over it. It’s aimed at 8-10 year olds, is roughly 40,000 words and could be summed up as ‘Five go Time-Travelling’.  I’m not looking for a detailed grammar/punctuation/typos edit, but more what works/what doesn’t work/plot holes/continuity issues critique.  I hope the request isn’t too cheeky but every writing website I’ve seen says that beta readers (ugh) are vital – then doesn’t tell you how to find them!  I’m more than happy to do the same if others are also looking for readers.

It’s My Party

Today’s my birthday and I planned to celebrate with a cappuccino at a bar with the best view in Rome: it overlooks the Italian Men’s Swimming Team training pool. Forget the Coliseum or the Spanish Steps; this is the first sight you should see in Rome.

Yep, this lot. Sadly, they don’t let me into the changing rooms anymore…

However, I had a poorly child at home so, instead of checking out buff swimmers, I was reduced to drinking tea whilst watching our caretaker, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Yoda, trimming his knobweed.*  It’s one way to spend a birthday.

After I was finally able to drag my eyes away from this hunky Star Wars doppelganger, I saw that a friend had sent me this quote:


quote

I could read this two ways. Does it mean how old would you think you were if you didn’t know your age? Or how old would you like to be if you didn’t know your age?

Mentally, I like to think I have a pretty youthful attitude to life. In fact, my daughter told me this morning that I am as immature as a 5 year old. It’s true that I find slapstick, knob jokes and the word merkin amusing. However, I can also be a bit of a worrier, more so than in my youth – although that’s probably from having children, rather than ageing. Once you have kids, there’s SO much to worry about.

Physically, I’m healthy and aim for a fairly youthful jeans and Converse look, without straying into mutton dressed as lamb territory.  I’m fortunate to have my own stylist (aged 12) who tells me in no uncertain terms when I look totally ridiculous. For some reason, attempting to head out on the school run dressed in dungarees and a beret came in the ‘Oh my god, you’re so embarrassing, GO AND CHANGE’ category.  On the not-so-good hand, I’m beset with the twinges and niggles that come with being in my ‘40s, slightly overweight and suffering from hypo-flexibility (I told you, it’s a REAL THING).

So, if I didn’t know how old I was, I’d probably think I was about 35 (yes, I’ve knocked quite a bit off – but, tough, it’s my blog).

But how old would I like to be?  Tricky.  I’d love to go back to my teenage years if there was no school, homework or pimples.  My twenties were fabulous except for the stress of university exams, working in a job I hated and the death of my Mum.  Maybe my thirties?  I had a career break, was at home with two lovely small children and hadn’t started having all the aches and pains that I have now.  But I was sleep deprived for five years, changed hundreds of nappies and went through the terrible twos twice.  Forties??  I’m on another career break, I’m experiencing life in Rome and my children are becoming independent. But I have to deal with Italian bureaucracy, missing friends and family, and my children are becoming independent (it’s a double-edged sword).

Ok, I’ve got it. I’d like to be living the life I’m living now, but be ten years younger and not lose any of the experiences I’ve had.  Back to the drawing board with that time machine…

Excellent, mention of time travel – can squeeze in a sneaky David Tennant pic

Excellent, mention of time travel – can squeeze in a sneaky David Tennant pic

If you understand the question better than I did, how old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

*Knobweed is a plant, in case you’re wondering.  I’ll let you know if I catch Signor Yoda trimming anything else.

When The Going Gets Tough…The Tough Go All Benny Hill

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Hey look! My boyfriend’s on the
front cover of Smash Hits!

My memories of my teenage years have become so distorted over the years that I have almost convinced myself that I was a Wild Child, spending weekends cruising the Med on my boyfriend Simon Le Bon-Bon’s boat or going on Christmas ski-ing holidays with Wham.  The truth, however, is slightly more mundane.  Most of my weekends involved memorising lyrics from Smash Hits, watching The Dukes of Hazzard and not getting invited to the cool parties.

In the Eighties, long before GHDs, teeth whitening, Brazilians and push-up bras, it was almost impossible for adolescent girls to achieve the polished, super-model look of teenagers today.  Before I convinced my parents that contact lenses were vital for exam success, any chance of a boyfriend and my future happiness, I relied on huge Deidre Barlow style glasses.  Add orthodontic braces and a fringe cut by my mum, and I wasn’t exactly rocking a look that many teenage boys could appreciate.   The friends I hung out with also battled against debilitating conditions such as acute acne, flyaway hair (no Frizz Ease in those days) and that wretched ailment known as ‘thunder thighs’.  But, with the aid of the little ammunition we had (Chelsea Girl rah-rah skirts, blue eye-shadow stolen from Woollies’ make-up counter and Rimmel’s Hide the Blemish), we tried our best.

Our tentative forays into partying would usually result in some mishap but occasionally, we’d decide that there was only so much Miami Vice we could take, and attempt another night out.   On this occasion, my best friend, Jan, and I had targeted The Restoration which was a bit of a dive but cheap and, with a combined budget of £5, that was a good thing.  It also had the important distinction of serving underage drinkers.

We stood at the bar, drinking snakebites, while Jan fiddled with her new demin skirt, ‘It’s too short, can you see my pants?’  I didn’t really want to look, as Jan was wearing an ill-advised G-string and had run out of Immac so it was not a pretty sight.  ‘Pull your skirt down,’ I hissed at Jan.  Two boys were heading our way: Rob Bennett and Mike Hobbs from the Boys’ Grammar.  It had been a day of great excitement when there had been a joint drama production between the Girls’ and Boys’ Schools, although only those taking part had actually met any boys and the rest of us had merely wasted copious amounts of lipgloss, Harmony hairspray and zit cover.   Rachel Thompson had pointed Rob out to us, adding that she’d got off with him at Paula Allan’s party.  Which we’d not been invited to.  Obviously.

'Hello ladies' Photo © Chris Craymer

‘Hello ladies’
Photo © Chris Craymer

Rob fancied himself as a bit of a smooth operator; he’d modelled himself on George Michael with cropped jeans, espadrilles and a white vest (a look he’d hastily revamp when George finally came out).

'Ooh, sexy'

‘Yes, I know I’m wearing a snood in the middle of July’

Mike had gone for the full-on Nik Kershaw look with bleached mullet, snood and fingerless gloves.

We made stilted conversation about revision, TV and the subtext of The Breakfast Club.  They bought us a couple of drinks (result!), then Mike suggested going back to his house for a ‘coffee’.  His parents were away.  All night…  After a trip to the loo to discuss this new development, we agreed to go.  I was staying the night at Jan’s so as long as we were back by midnight, we’d be fine.

To get to Mike’s, we had to walk through the local park where the boys thought it was hilarious to pretend someone was following us and kept saying, ‘I can hear footsteps.  Wait, he’s in the bushes now’.   Jan and Rob, walking in front, suddenly came to a halt by the entrance to the Outdoor Pool.   ‘What have you stopped – ‘ I began before I realised that there was some major snogging going on.  I shyly looked at Mike who, without breaking eye-contact, starting moving in for a smooch.  The reek of Old Spice blended with White Lightning fumes threatened to overpower me as he leant in closer.  His tongue protruded intimidating from his wet lips and had just begun its journey into my horrified mouth when SLAP!

‘Ow, bitch!  Whadya do that for?’ we heard Rob yell.

‘Just keep your hands to yourself, thank you very much,’ said Jan huffily.  ‘I’m not some bloody slag.’

‘Alright, alright, keep your knickers on.  Oh, you have.’

‘Come on, Barb.  We’re going.’

‘Oh, don’t be like that,’ said Rob in a conciliatory tone.  ‘Look, why don’t we go for a swim?’

We snorted, but he said, ‘No, really I’ve done it before; you can climb over the fence.  There’s a tree we can use.’   After a lot of umming and ahing, he talked us into it.  We found the right tree which had a thick branch lying across the wire fence.  Rob climbed the tree and cautiously put his weight onto the branch.   The branch moved, his foot slipped and he fell onto the branch.  Fortunately, his testicles broke his fall.  ‘Owwwwfubugratbags,’ he croaked, his eyes watering.   This was possibly the funniest thing we’d ever seen (we really didn’t get out much).

‘You alright?’ I asked, when we’d eventually stopped laughing.  After clinging to the branch for several minutes, Rob gingerly picked himself up and carefully pulled himself along the branch before dropping down on the other side of the fence.    Mike helped us up the tree, copping a hairy eyeful as we struggled onto the branch in an extremely unladylike fashion, and Rob caught us as we jumped to the ground.

We’d never broken into anywhere before and I was terrified we’d be caught but at the same time I didn’t care if we were – it would be worth it.   We looked out at the moonlight glinting off the vast expanse of empty, calm water before us, usually full of screaming kids and old ladies wearing flowery swimming caps.

‘Come on, get your kit off!’ shouted Mike, pulling his t-shirt over his head.  We stripped down to our underwear.

‘No, you’ve got to go totally commando,’ said Rob.  ‘It’s not skinny-dipping if you don’t.’

‘Oh, for god’s sake,’ said Jan, pulling off her undies and quickly jumping into the pool.  Being easily led, I followed suit.  I caught my breath as I hit the water; it was glacial but refreshing and exhilarating.  The boys leapt off the diving board, shouting ‘Geromino!’ as they bombed into the water, where Jan and I fought off the boys’ octopus-like hands.

After half an hour or so, it turned chilly.  Rob and Mike got out of the pool and dressed swiftly.  ‘Good idea, I’m freezing,’ said Jan, climbing out.  ‘Hey, where’s my stuff?  I left my clothes here’.

‘Come and get them, you little tease,’ Rob sneered, holding something out in his hand.

‘Yeah, really funny,’ said Jan, ‘hand them over’.

I pulled myself out of the pool, goose bumps popping up as I shivered in the cool night air.  ‘Crap, he’s got mine too!’

Oooh, matron © Rex Features

Oooh, Matron  © Rex Features

Mike and Rob were throwing the clothes between them as we chased them around the edge of the dark pool, dodging deck chairs and sun loungers, hands held over our bouncing bagzongas.  At this point, I’m grateful this happened in 1985, long before iPhones, WhatsApp or YouTube were dreamt up.  I’m not sure I’d be able to laugh if a video of us running around in the buff,  chasing two boys Benny Hill style around a swimming pool, was doing the rounds.

‘Give them back!’ I shouted.  Rob ran into the changing area and threw the clothes on top of the changing cubicles, ‘Help yourself.’

I climbed onto a bench and tried to get the clothes.  I found my skirt and Jan’s top but couldn’t reach the rest.  It was now midnight and we’d had enough.  I pulled the skirt on, like a very short strapless dress, and Jan wore the top, which just about covered her dignity.  She was not happy about the loss of her new skirt and kept shaking her head, ‘£3. £3 that cost me.’

‘We’ll have to go home like this,’ I said.  There was no sign of the boys.  We walked back to the pool where we found our shoes and bags.

‘How are we going to get out?’ Jan asked.  ‘There’s no way we’ll get over that fence on our own.’

The exit was through metal gates in a single-story building, which were locked at night.   Jan looked up at the roof of the building. ‘We could get over the roof,’ she said, ‘It’s got to be easier than going over the fence.’

By climbing onto a table, I managed to hoist myself onto the roof.  Jan got up on the table and I pulled her onto the roof.  There was a bike rack against the building on the outside wall and we lowered ourselves down onto it before jumping to the ground.  Then we had to walk the two miles back to Jan’s.  Fortunately we only saw a couple of people and we quickly ducked down into gardens as they passed by.

We made it back to her house without being mugged, attacked or, even worse, ridiculed.  Jan’s Dad stood in the hall waiting for us.

‘What bloody time do you call this and what on earth are you wearing?!’

Needless to say, he went mental and Jan was grounded.  As was I, after he’d called my parents.  But at least it gave us time to recover before our next attempt at a social life…

 

You Can’t Keep a Good Weeble Down

Not only am I starting to look like a Weeble but I also have the flexibility of one.   I’ve always known that I’m not a naturally lithe person* (being the only person at primary school to fail Level 4 BAGA when I couldn’t perform a crab proved that) but when I found myself thinking how great is this device to pull on socks, I realised some drastic action was needed.

So, in an attempt to become more Betty Spaghetti than Weeble, I’ve started going to a Pilates class.  At an Italian gym.  Where the teacher doesn’t speak a word of English and I speak only coffee shop Italian.  My Italian friend comes with me and, when she remembers, she translates the instructions.  When she doesn’t remember, I just try to copy what everyone else is doing.  Which is ok except that, apparently, in Pilates it’s all about doing it right, not just doing it.

The first lesson started off quite pleasantly: lying on a mat, which I could cope with easily.  Things got harder from there.  In a standing position, we had to grasp our left ankle with our right hand, whilst holding our left hand in the air.   It was humiliating.  The OAP next to me clutched his ankle effortlessly, whereas my hand could barely reach my knee.  The teacher kept repeating the instructions to me, loudly and slowly in Italian, in case my difficulties resulted from deafness, rather than physical inadequacy.

No one could be expected to remember everything – tight pelvic floor, loose shoulders, stomach in, breathe.  I don’t generally forget to inhale in the normal course of the day but I found myself on the verge of turning blue several times during the lesson.

The final straw came when we were using some sort of inner tube to stretch our leg muscles.  With the tube around both legs, we had to balance on our right leg, stretching the tube out with our left.  Whilst our hands were lifted above our heads.  And, of course, not forgetting tight pelvic floor, loose shoulders, stomach in, breathe.  After managing to hold this precarious position for at least three seconds, my balance failed and I toppled over, crashing into the OAP, who successfully took out a skinny, yet buxom blonde, dressed in shiny black lycra, who had been performing the exercises in perfect robot fashion.  My embarrassment was lessened slightly by seeing the smug smile wiped off her flawless face by a nimble octogenarian.

The next day, I could barely get out of bed, as there wasn’t a single part of my body that wasn’t sore.  Even my fingers hurt.  But I returned to the scene of my humiliation the following week.  It wasn’t too encouraging when the teacher rolled her eyes as I walked in, but the class was a definite improvement over the week before, in that I didn’t knock over any elderly folk.

This week was my third class.  We were working our thighs and stomachs.  Worryingly, I’d had a roast lunch the day before (complete with sprouts and cabbage) and there was far too much lifting bottoms off the floor and sticking them in the air for my liking.  We were doing an exercise that involved lying on our backs, thrusting our bottoms up and alternately raising one leg up and down.  The teacher had come over to my mat to manually force down my rigid shoulders.   My fears came to fruition as I gave a big push to lift myself off the floor and I let out a huge fart.  Huge.  Like Vesuvius erupting.  Complete with the matching sulphurous smell of rotten eggs.   Mortified, I stared up at the teacher who wrinkled her nose and eyeballed me like I was a piece of inflexible dirt.  I closed my eyes to shut out her expression of disgust but I could still hear the sniggers from the rest of the class.

Not too surprisingly, at the end of the lesson the teacher suggested to my friend that perhaps I should try something more suitable, like boxercise or weightlifting.   But she’s not getting rid of me that easily.  It should be her sworn duty, as a Pilates teacher, to encourage me on the path to suppleness.  She ought to look upon me as the challenge of her career; if she can help me to touch my toes, then her name would surely go down in the Pilates history books.

This is what I’m aiming for…it might be a tad ambitious

*Googling has since revealed that I suffer from a (self-diagnosed) condition called Hypomobility, where ligaments are tight and movement is restricted.  HWW, however, says it sounds like a made-up ailment and is refusing to believe that I’m not merely exceptionally unfit…

Locked Out of Heaven

Near where I live is Ponte Milvio, Rome’s oldest bridge.  First built in 206 B.C., the bridge has always been a site of interest.  According to Tacitus, the first century Roman historian and statesman, it was ‘famous for its nocturnal attractions,’ and was where the Emperor Nero conducted his debaucheries.  In 312, Constantine, the first emperor to convert to Christianity, defeated his rival Maxentius at the Battle of Ponte Milvio.

Today Ponte Milvio is better known as a symbol of love.  In 2006, Federico Moccia wrote I Want You, a story of young lovers in the north of Rome.  The hero tells his love interest of an old legend: if lovers wrap a chain around a lamppost on Ponte Milvio, lock it with a padlock and throw the key into the Tiber, then they will never leave each other.

It’s a beautiful story but one that was simply invented for the book.  The book and subsequent film were a big success, leading to life imitating art.  Thousands of young lovers flock to attach their love locks, inscribed with their names and the date, onto the bridge.

What if you visit and decide on a whim that you’d like to make a gesture of love but haven’t brought a lock with you?  Don’t worry – there’s usually a couple of vendors on the bridge who will sell you a lock for about €5; you can even buy a nice, heart shaped lock.

The weight of all these locks endangers the bridge’s delicate stonework and caused two lampposts to almost collapse.  Steel bars were installed along the bridge as official sites for the love tokens in an attempt to stop lovers attaching their locks to the lampposts.  It didn’t seem to make much difference so now they’ve been taken down and, instead, the city council regularly removes the locks from the lampposts.

So you may think your lock is a touching emblem of your everlasting love, but it just ends up at the city dump.  Who says romance is dead??

My favourite recipe: Banana and Chocolate Loaf

photo 5

I’m back into baking in a big way at the moment.  We had a Birthday Party for my daughter last week which needed a chocolate muffin birthday cake, an ice-cream cake, cheesy nibbles, lots of cupcakes for decorating and this loaf.  I love this recipe because it’s incredibly tasty and moist, quick and easy (not even any creaming of butter and sugar required), and because I can kid myself it’s healthy enough to have a slice for breakfast.  It also works well even if you don’t have all the ingredients;  I’ve made with without eggs (just added another banana), without butter (added oil instead) and with plain flour (chuck in an extra tsp of baking powder).  Sometimes I add a tsp of vanilla, this time I added a tbsp of Starbuck’s caramel syrup just because it was on the worktop.  Either way, this cake always tastes delicious!

Banana and Chocolate Loaf

Ingredients - makes about 10 slices

400g ripe bananas (weighed with skin on – about 3 large bananas)

1 tbsp lemon juice

300g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

125g caster sugar

125g melted butter

2 eggs, beaten

130g chocolate, chopped into large chunks.  Use any type of chocolate you like, I like milk best.  Chopped up Easter eggs always work particularly well.

Method:

Mash the bananas with the lemon juice.

Put the flour, baking powder and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

Add the mashed bananas, melted butter and eggs.  Mix well.

Add the chocolate chunks.

Spoon into a lined 1 kg loaf tin.  Give a bit of a shake to level the top.

Bake in the centre of a preheated oven, 160C / Gas Mark 3, for about an hour.  I start checking after 45 minutes.  The loaf should be well risen, the top golden and cracked.  When a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, then the loaf is done.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out on a wire rack and peel the paper off.  Leave to cool completely.

Slice and serve with a nice cup of tea.  Eat.  Have another slice.  Go on, you know you want to.

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