Today I started a blog. Why?
Yesterday I enrolled for the course in Biography at the University of Buckingham. Why?
The answers to these two questions have a lot in common.
On Wednesday evening Paul Burns told me at the New Inn of the film that he and Penny had just seen at the multiplex in Milton Keynes, Julie and Julia: they'd loved it. A month earlier Matt Wills from Colorado Springs, a retired lawyer and newly-minted historian and who like me is married to a Julia, had written to me, enquiring whether I'd seen it yet.
I already knew the film was about Julia Childs. Her Mastering the Art of French Cooking is one of the six books in my kitchen library that five years ago I rebound while doing a bookbinding course at the Richmond Adult College: its case had come loose over the time I had used it since I had bought it in the Sixties.
She is not an inspired or inspiring writer like my Three Graces (Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson and Marcella Hazan, listed in alphabetical order since it's impossible to list them in order of merit), but she tells you precisely and authoritatively how to do what it says on the spine of the book. Do this, do that, then do the other, and voilà: bon appétit!
So I suggested to my Julia that we went see a film about two other Julias. It told two stories in parallel, scenes switching back and forth in time from one to the other.
One is about Julia Child as a diplomat's wife in postwar Paris learning how to cook à la française, then collaborating with a couple of Frenchwomen to write a cookery book for "servantless American women". After eight laborious years they finish it, but then struggle—finally successfully—to get a publisher for a book of that size.
The other is about Julie Powell, a bright young wife in a boring fulltime job who undertakes the daunting task of not only cooking every one of the 524 recipes in MAFC within one year but also writing about it on a blog, with her success in this goal resulting in her receiving offers to publish her story.
That's enough for today. We've asked Tony Seaton to supper to share the boeuf bourgignon I cooked yesterday from the recipe in MAFC and to debate whether the film makers were justified in showing Julie making the dish with far more carrot in it than the recipe specified.
At least, gentle reader, you'll now have some idea of why I've started this blog: I'll say more tomorrow.