Down & Out In A London Kitchen

Esther Walker started a food blog called Recipe Rifle in 2009 when desperate and unemployed. In 2010 she married restaurant critic Giles Coren and far, far too quickly had a baby daughter, called Kitty.

Pride and joy

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 17 April 2012

At all times, in public, I try to maintain a critical distance from Kitty. If she is ever paid a compliment, I suck my cheeks in, raise one eyebrow and say: “She’s okay” as if I am talking about a mid-priced pair of trainers or a last-minute hotel room.

My husband has no such reserve. He will walk into a room holding Kitty and say “I feel so sorry for you all that your children aren’t as brilliant as mine.”

That sort of thing, alas, makes people hate you and wish bad things for you and I need all the good karma I can get, thanks. So any nauseating bursting-with-pride stuff I do in private. “You’re so BRILLIANT,” I hiss into her ear when we are alone. “You’re such a GOOD GIRL.”

But now Kitty has been invited to be a flower girl at a friend’s wedding in December, when she will be nearly two years old. And I have gone completely mad. “She’s going to be a flower girl!” I gibber at everyone I see or talk to on the phone. “A little flower girl...” my voice starts to wobble... “in a dress! With flowers! And maybe a little tiara?”

Only now do I understand why people bore strangers into a coma with details of their child’s life, their forthcoming marriages, their educational achievements, the minute details of their complex and rich personalities. It’s because it’s so exciting! Your little munchkin, all grown-up, in a dress, carrying some daisies, doing a grown-up job, walking down the thingy... excuse me for a moment... something in my eye... *weeps into keyboard*...

And of course now my dark side is coming out, my relentlessly pushy and competitive side that we all have, as parents. I am planning already, seven months in advance, to gain access to the wedding venue in the weeks leading up to the event. Kitty will be having some intensive training in walking slowly, not getting distracted by flowers, not shouting, not vomiting, not tripping over and so on. Just so that when people say “WHAT a well-behaved little flower girl,” I can suck in my cheeks and say, wearily: “she’s okay.”

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