Dear friends, I have a confession to make.
Do you remember that time when you came for dinner and I had prepared those succulent, soft lamb shanks? You enthused at length about how the meat fell away from the bone and melted away in your mouth, giving you the perfect balance of lamb, mint and seasoning. You told me how in awe of you were of my cooking skills; how impressed you were that I had slow cooked them for six hours; how you would have never had the patience to cook such an amazing meal, especially with a toddler to look after as well.
I smiled, looked coy and said, "It was nothing, and you are welcome".
Do you know who actually prepared those succulent lamb shanks? The local supermarket. I just shoved them in the oven for a couple of hours and hoped for the best, along with the dauphinoise potatoes that you said had just the right amount of cream and the honey glazed, roasted carrots that you asked me the recipe for (I Googled once you had left and emailed you).
Let's not even speak of my 'home made' strawberry cheesecake desert. You can probably guess that too came from the chilled aisle.
Why do I do this? Why do I lie to my oldest and best friends and new acquaintances that I had spent hours in the kitchen, slaving over creating a meal? It's nothing personal; let me assure you, I do this domestic goddess fakery to everyone. It has now become second nature to me. It's like I actually believe I made those cookies for the church back sale, even though I bought them from the Waitrose cake counter and roughed them up a bit.
I take the praise, the accolades and I don't feel guilty. Maybe I need some form of therapy?
The cakes I made for the PTA sale at school, the Halloween party I threw where the parents gushed over my 'hand decorated' cup cakes, the extravagant Bob the Builder and Princess birthday cakes I have paid someone with actual talent to make for my children while I sat back and took all the glory until now, have been my deepest, darkest secret.
The sad fact is I can actually cook. I can bake and I can decorate cakes - but for all the public fawning and praise it generates, it is actually a thankless task. I don't have the money to buy the best ingredients, the time to prepare everything from scratch or then inclination to clear up a kitchen that looks like an explosion in a supermarket.
So I fake it. I cheat and let Tesco take the strain.
I have also taken this a step further with 'growing my own' vegetables. A while ago, I got it into my head that I would grow my own vegetables in my snail-infested garden. I became obsessed with the idea that I could grow my own food - after all, how hard can it be? It turns out that it's very hard indeed. I failed with carrots: they rotted in the ground before they were even a few centimeters long. I failed with tomatoes: they too turned to mush before my eyes and were pecked at by birds. Chilies, peas, broad beans, cucumbers, rhubarb and courgettes all went the same way to vegetable heaven.
I estimate that I have spent around £150 so far on seeds, compost and containers in a desperate, futile attempt to cultivate a vegetable garden, basically intended to impress strangers on Instagram. That is enough money that I do not want my family (or indeed, strangers on the internet) to know I have failed in my quest to be green fingered.
I am not proud of what I am about to confess next as it makes me look slightly unhinged, however, at the weekend I went out and bought a bag of cucumbers, courgettes and rhubarb.
I strategically placed them in the vegetable beds and containers at 5am while the rest of the house was sleeping. I got my tools of deception ready - secateurs, a hand shovel and some gardening gloves - and eagerly awaited the sound of my husband and children thundering down the stairs for breakfast. At the sound of the first bedroom door slamming, I ran out to the garden and started to pretend to harvest the fruits of my labour. Thankfully, the only other person who ventures into the garden is my two year old, so no one had actually bothered to look at my dismal vegetable patch of death. When I retuned with a bucket full of fake, homegrown freshness, I was met with cheers of delight and told how clever I was. I cheered myself at the fact that I had remembered to remove the stickers.
Why do I choose to deceive everyone? In all honesty, I am lazy but I want people to think I am great, really great at something. Will I stop now that I have confessed? Not on your nelly. As long as the praise keeps coming, I'll keep faking.
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