Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chocolate Teapot or Strong Black Coffee.

Here is a wee taster of THE book I am writing and hope to have published before I die! This is chapter 12 or something!

Chocolate Teapots and Strong Black Coffee

Around mid evening I got my usual weekly criticism from my ex husband. On a good week he only calls once to let me know what a dreadful mother I am, or what a money grabbing floozy I am or to let me know the latest scandal someone (normally him) has dreamt up concerning me, and how this is causing him embarrassment. I wish I had done, or at least had the opportunity to do, half the things I am said to have done! As usual he managed to wind me up (wish I could control that) and I returned to the table fizzing with anger. I am not going to take advantage of the fact you will never hear his side of the story and spew forth all my gripes and grumbles about my ex. What I will do is warn you- before you have children, check your relationship is solid, and very importantly, look carefully at your partner- is he the Strong Black coffee type or the Chocolate Teapot type.

When I was pregnant I read a huge variety of books on pregnancy, childbirth and babies. All had a confusing amount of different ideas on how to get you and baby safely through the first months. So many different, and often contradicting, ideas it made my head spin and actually made me more nervous, rather than soothing my troubled mind. Now I believe you should be made to do a university type degree on parenting before you get pregnant, just to make sure you are up to the job!

My head was so full of information from various “Baby Gurus”, but when push came to shove and I was sent home from hospital with these two tiny babies, all these words of wisdom were forgotten. I was filled with panic and self doubt. Were they too hot, too cold, hungry, in pain, ill? Was I holding them wrong? Was I putting them the right way to sleep or the wrong way? Was baby poop meant to look and smell like that? Was I supporting their heads sufficiently or would I cause them irreversible damage? No new mother is sufficiently prepared for the responsibility of looking after their first born alone (single mums, I salute you-you deserve a medal). With neither of my parents living near me I looked for support and help from my husband.

Now comes my main point of contention with all the books I read; not one of them prepared me for Disappearing Father Syndrome! There was not a single page explaining what to do when Daddy opts out! I know we women are famous for being able to multi task but; being tired, hormonal, terrified of my new responsibilities, and still being expected to carry out my duties as cook, cleaner, entertainments manager, good listener and sex goddess was beyond me. I am naturally quite an independent person, but even I had to admit I could not do this solo so I turned to my husband Sam for help and support. Silly, silly me!

Sam had never really showed much interest in the pregnancy: - he missed most of the pre-natal classes; he thought I said “it’s wind” when I told him “it’s twins”; he found the idea of feeling the babies inside me kicking repulsive and even managed to miss the birth! Initially Sam took one month off work to “help me”. Should have been bliss-Mummy, Daddy and our longed for (hard to achieve) babies. In reality it was a disaster!

The main problem was the night feeds (as the girls were premature and tiny; they needed feeding every two hours). By the third night I actually had to get up before the feed and make Sam a cup of tea before waking him up, otherwise he was in a foul mood. I know lack of sleep is like a slow torture, you feel ill, disorientated and miserable (if anyone wants to get a secret out of me, just deny me sleep and I will tell all). But I did not need Sam to let me down now. Anyway after one week he went back to work-so for him life went back to normal and in his head everything should have gone back to normal. That first day I was left completely alone with the two screaming pink bundles (otherwise known as my daughters) I finally realised that my husband was the as much use as a chocolate teapot. So what did I do about it? Nothing. I struggled through my daughters’ infancy alone and slowly watched my marriage crumble.

All my friends were aware, from early on, that the cracks in my relationship with Sam were growing to ravine size- probably because I kept phoning them and telling them! Resentment, tension and stress built up over eight years (I don’t give up on anything easily) and finally erupted like a volcano. End of marriage, start of bitter divorce.

By no means does it have to be like this. You might strike it lucky and find your husband is a natural at daddyhood. My friend Sues’ first husband was the chocolate teapot variety but her second husband was a double espresso of strength and support. He took his turn doing the night shift, changed nappies, fed the baby, took the baby for walks and made sure Sue had special time to herself. He wore his baby pouch with pride; he was an expert on colic, botty wipes and new more about mastitis than any of us! He was, and still is, an absolute star (I wonder if he has a brother or cousin looking for a ready made family?!) However, on the whole, we mummies need to take control in this situation (as in every other situation!) Two umbilical cords need to be cut- the babies and that which binds your husband to you as his mother figure. Time for partner to act like your partner and not your eldest child!

My advice to you is; before you consider having children with your partner assess how he performs when you have a serious bout of flu (fake it if you have to). If he looks after you, mops your brow, does the washing, cooking and general house stuff (even if it is not up to your standard) you are safe to consider having his children. If when you are ill, he still expects you to cook, clean, pamper him and have sex, then you have four choices; ditch him; check he has enough money to pay cleaners, cooks nannies etc; gird your loins for a tough few years being like a single Mum but with added “duties” or resign yourself to a life without children!

The Recipe:-

If you have a Chocolate Teapot of a husband, I commiserate – make yourself a good, strong cup of tea. Open packets of any kind of biscuits drenched in chocolate and get dunking! You deserve it! Make sure you do not dunk too long or you will be spooning slops from the bottom of your cup! Or you could make the following cake to have with your friends, whilst you moan about your useless other half!
I am not a fan of either coffee or sweet things (I am sweet enough-ha,ha,ha) but this cake is FAB and fairly easy to make.

Espresso and Hazelnut Cake.


300g unsalted butter
480g shelled hazelnuts
4 tablespoons of instant coffee (splash out on a good one)
180g dark chocolate (70%)
6 eggs
220g caster sugar.

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.
Make sure your food processor is baby puree free!

Grease a 25cm cake tin and line with parchment (unless you know your tin and you know the cake will not stick!)

Roast the hazelnuts in the oven until brown and when cool rub the skins off them. Grind in food processor into a fine paste.

Dissolve the coffee in 1 tablespoon of boiling water.

Melt the chocolate with the butter and the coffee in a bowl over simmering water. Cool and add hazelnuts.

Separate eggs and beat yolks and sugar in a mixer until pale. Fold in chocolate.

Beat egg whites in mixer until stiff and carefully fold into mixture.

Pour in to tin and bake in oven for 40 minutes.


Remember if you have one of those rare species-“The Strong Black Coffee Husband”, save him a piece!


  1. Very good!

    I think I am a chocolate coffeepot

  2. Wow - cannot wait to read your book. Is it to be published as true life or fiction? I am a tad worried about potential lawsuits!!

  3. Hmmm - and I'd turn off the phone so you don't have to deal with the wrath and can fully enjoy that cuppa!