Working on my bolognese

We were making a lot of bolognese for our twins since they started eating solids – east to make, has some veg in (and we lace it with courgettes and spinach so they get an extra dose of greens), and can be eaten with and without pasta. Before them it had been a long old time since I’d made a bolognese for myself. Even then, effort was minimal. Onions, beef, tomato – of course. A bit of garlic, herbs, tomato paste – naturally. That’s pretty much where it stopped though. I cooked it quick and was happy with whatever the result was, but I guess I stopped eating it as it wasn’t knock out flavour.

Now that’s all changed. I’m using nice plum tomato passata (or blitzing San Marzanos myself), freshly ground beef, adding bay leafs, Parmesan rind, balsamic, red wine, actually using a real soffrito combo. Not to mention cooking the thing on the lowest possible heat for hours. You get the picture – my finally taking my bolognese seriously.

I do a lot of variations, but here is the most recent I did.

Read More »

A merger of unequals

Jess sat in her office looking out at her team, wondering what they were all thinking as she swiped through an “integration plan” someone had paid a couple of million for. It all looked so simple on the screen. This was just putting the nuts and bolts together though. People was always another matter.

It’s not that her team had any particular loyalty to their brand, to the company, to Bleecker Insurance, it’s just that Bleecker had always attracted a certain type of individual and that was not the type of individual who was attracted to Dreadnought Reinsurance – the company they were walking down the merger isle with. Jess’ team was young and focussed on how to drag the (re)insurance industry into the 21st century, even if kicking and screaming. Dreadnought was a survivor of an era of companies with similar names – Titanic, Endeavour, Fortress – all long since put down. Dreadnought still transacted a significant amount of business using paper. In a world where cash was disappearing and you could reliably video chat through WhatsApp with your customer on the other side of the world, Dreadnought kept all policy documents in paper, often hand delivered and stored in a warehouse somewhere in England or Scotland.

These same warehouses had often suffered catastrophic flooding or fires at times when it paid to have no documentation. It just happened. Wrongdoing was impossible to prove with armies of lawyers at the ready to defend the cause.

This was the type of place that was supposed to merge with Bleecker. It made economic sense on paper, but Jess wasn’t clear how the dinosaurs of Dreadnought who still went drinking at lunchtime would mesh with her team who, though they weren’t shy of a drink, spent most of their free time at work talking about how they might improve a piece of tech or increase presence on social media.

She was only on page four of the executive summary (which was twenty pages long) when Tim walked into her office, sheepishly and clearly on a fact finding mission he had no interest in completing.

“Hi Jess.”

“Tim. What can I do for you?”

“Is that the integration plan? I drew the Oliver straw and had to come and ask. I’m hoping to be treated better than Oliver if that’s ok…”

Jess couldn’t help but laugh out loud, “Don’t worry. Also, I’m only on page four, so I don’t have anything to tell you, even if I could. Which you know I can’t.”

Tim knew he had to squeeze something out and that the best way was just to linger around and wait.

Jess looked up finally, “all I can say is that we’re going to have to bring a few guys into our team. There might also be some system they want us to integrate. I’m almost certain we’ll have to change branding and all that.”

“I heard that John and Lydia are jumping ship.”

“What!? Who told you that?”

“Lydia’s chief of staff. You know how we’re friendly.”

“Reliable?”

“Course! It’s no done deal, but you know how against this they were. There’s a newish startup that will probably take them. They need experience. Not the bullshit they’re merging with mind you.”

Jess continued flipping through the pack as Tim stood there checking his phone. She landed on the new org chart of her department. She beckoned Tim to look over her shoulder at this piece of information. It was a large nail in the coffin of her career Bleecker – well it was probably more accurate to call it Dreadnought now, Bleecker didn’t seem to exist based on what Jess was reading.

“The fuckers are making you a co-head but it doesn’t look like there’s anybody under you.”

“Look, they want us to use there fucking paper system to back up our cloud policies. Have they lost there minds? What fucking cretin consultant drafted this thing?”

“One paid by Dreadnought to tell them what they want to hear.”

“I’ve had enough of this,” Jess chucked the paper report on the floor, “time to hand in the notice.”

Tim did a little fist pump and then walked out in front of Jess. There’s no way they could stay.

Weaving elements of life

I hate to think of time as limited and something that needs to be divided up. Endless prioritisation exercises are needed to try and all of a life into those divisions. Of course I do prioritise it, but I really hate to. Things tend to go in the immediate “I have to” or “I want to” files. The former is typically the daily grind at work plus to real have tos – eating, drinking sleeping. Though these also fit firmly in the latter camp. I can’t bring myself to call a nap a waste of time. It may take up a division or two and mean I don’t complete a piece of work on a particular day, but I love to do it and it feels good.

These divisions don’t haunt may as they may some. I don’t clock in and clock out. They cast a shadow though on my desire to write. I only want to write when I want to, when I enjoy it. As a hobby that’s right. Still, I wish I could ease up on twine of the “have to dos” which may make me more likely to get that time back to write more than I have for the last several months.

I’m sure I could just be more disciplined. Where’s the fun in discipline though?

Hobby or work

If I swapped my day job for writing, would I enjoy it to the same extent? I feel no dread or sinking feeling when I sit down to write. Though, I also do it at my leisure. If I’m not in the mood to write, I don’t. Could I be good at writing? Could I […]