The last ninety minutes have been a bit hectic, to be honest. I had been down at the park where a toddler had decided she liked my moves as I aimed to amuse her with some exaggerted dancing. She is at the age where she has discovered the joy of being flung around in a circle by either of her parents. She will run towards them, arms in the air and squealing with anticipation at being lifted up and flown through the air like a test tube in a centrifuge.
This made me late to get home but I did not worry. I had but one task to complete tonight. It is a colleague’s birthday tomorrow and a few days ago, I found two lemons on my desk, which is basically the way that my popular lemon drizzle cake is requested.
I had been out at lunchtime to top up on eggs and bought some fresh unsalted butter ready to get into it after returning from the park. The lemons had been sitting on my dining room table for a few days awaiting their fate and as I got a bowl of water and two bowls of dog food and put them outside for the dogs, I was running through the recipe in my mind.
I picked the lemons up from the table and my thumbs sunk into them. Somehow they had aged eleven years in three days, despite the relatively cool weather. One of them was half covered in mould. Dammit!
I grabbed the food bowls and two very startled dogs, locked them inside then jumped in the car with my purse. The local shop down the road, which I had coasted past only minutes before was shutting any second now and if I didn’t secure lemons from there, I would be left schlepping up to the shopping centre, which would add another half an hour to the task.
I just made it, bought three lemons just in case, got home to dogs who had only just realised I had left and re-positioned them and their dinners on the back patio.
I pottered about mixing the cake ingredients and sliding the tin into the oven around 15 minutes later, then suddenly realised it was pitch black outside and the dogs had ignored their dinner. Full of brisk efficiency, I marched outside, tut-tutted the dogs, mumbled something about starving Africans and picked up the bowls to bring them inside. As I neared the kitchen, I became aware of a disturbance on my arms. A light but thorough disturbance. I looked down and to my horror saw that my forearms seemed to have suddenly become very hairy. In fact, the dog bowls had been covered with ants, which were now in a state of high agitation and running up my arms.
The next five minutes was not pretty and involved wholesale slaughter over the sink, an undignified self-flagellation and a panic deluge of insect spray as the poor buggers realised they were under attack and started deploying formic acid into my forearms and back.
I had just about got things under control when the oven buzzer went off and I removed a golden brown sponge and placed it on a rack to cool before drizzling it with lemon juice and sugar. Tomorrow people will eat it and I will say, ‘no problem’ and the cat-ant-strophic episode which had been preceded by the massive lemon panic will be but a distant memory.
Half an hour later my alarm went off to remind me that the International Space Station, the ISS, was passing over Perth. I walked out into the garden and it was not until my husband suggested I faced the other way – South – that I saw it quite clearly moving rapidly across the backdrop of the Perth stars.
I waved. My husband scoffed but I had heard an interview with astronaut Chris Hadfield last week. He had confirmed that the Great Wall of China is not visible from space but what they can see are things that are in contrast, like the Palm Island at Dubai. It this case it was me – a tiny ant myself on earth waving and confident that they would see me because I was wearing plain light chino trousers and a black T-shirt. Take that, China.