I had my freelance writer friends over for lunch yesterday; we’re the Christmas Party refugees of the publishing world, no office soiree for the sole trader, and so we’ve taken matters into our own hands. Ms. Food arrived bearing homemade fudge, bubbly, biscuits and dip, while 6 foot Ms. Travel swished through the door looking very va va voom in a fishtail dress, promptly disappearing into my kitchen to assemble a Banoffee (as in banana and toffee) pie, an English dessert suddenly doing the rounds of Sydney.
“I don’t understand how it can be English,” she mused, diligently soldering condensed milk to the bottom of my saucepan. “It’s hardly the banana capital of the world.”
“Maybe it’s the Jamaicans,” I suggested. “Plenty of bananas in Jamaica, and plenty of Jamaicans in the UK.”
“Hmmm…” Ms Travel said, her brow furrowing in concentration as she ground Oreo cookies using the mortar and pestle.
Then my Man Town writer friend L arrived, also looking very snazzy in the tres chic trousers she picked up during her recent Parisian trip. She was packing bubbles and Belgian chocolate – come right in! I introduced L to Ms F and T (or Fun and Trouble, if you will) – and Ms F and T to each other, come to think of it – this time last year, and we’ve all been catching up since. L, as you may recall, is the writer I tracked down after the Sydney Writers’ Festival workshop debacle.
“I told another friend I was catching up with my stalker today,” L said, settling into the courtyard. “And she said, ‘L, you’re just too good to people, that’s your problem, you’re even kind to the weirdos.'”
“I’m so glad I stalked you,” I said, filling her glass.
“Me too,” she said. “You’re much better than my last stalker!”
Last but not least we had a man in the mix, a very old, dear friend of mine, the one and only Panamaniac, who has relocated here from Panama via Washington DC. The Panamaniac used to edit the business section of La Prensa before accepting a diplomatic posting in DC; now life has brought him to Sydney and Man Town seemingly for our express benefit; Llew and I are thrilled. I’ve known the Panamaniac since 1989; we met at college in Canada and yes, he has seen me with a perm.
So we were five. Five very happy campers, plus one roundly derided Christmas tree that didn’t meet with Canadian L’s approval. In fact, she even took a photo of our Christmas tree so that she might better mock it later at home with her family. This from a woman whose last tree was the cat’s scratching post with a Texta tree drawn down the side. I mean, the nerve!
Anyway, tree ridicule aside (it’s real, and it’s very nice, and it’s not our fault the North Americans go completely over the top with those ceiling scrapers and fire hazards – this is Australia!), in case you’re wondering I made Jamie Oliver’s fish pie using snapper fillets, served with a monstrous green salad and sour dough. It’s surprisingly rich, but very tasty. After we finished all the bubbles, I cracked a French chablis because, well, it’s Christmas. It was bloody good, too. As was the Banoffee pie. All told, lunch was a five hour affair, and I’d like to see any office do it better, because these freelancers are doing it for themselves.