I don't have many talents - special gifts that you are born with. I can't sing. I don't dance. I am fairly artistic but no Picasso (mind you - he was crap!). The natural talents I have that others can not do - even with training and practice seem fairly pointless. I can touch the end of my nose with my tongue - handy if you are short of a hankie but not much use otherwise. That's how I know snot is salty! I know you are all now seeing if you can do it too. Are you special enough and talented to do this? No? Well luckily for you a long tongue isn't really a useful asset, is it?! I find a sharp tongue can come in handy though!
I am also quite bendy. When I was younger I could lie on my stomach and bend back to place my feet on my head! I can climb stairs in the lotus position. I can still put my foot behind my head - I used to be able to do both legs at the same time! I feel I really should have been more popular in my prime! Useless talent but great party trick. My ability to do it these days correlates to the amount of alcohol I have consumed. My willingness to do it has always been in direct proportion to alcoholic intake! Another useless talent for which I have no use or application.
In the absence of talents I have to rely on skills - things learned and practised and of use. I confess I have many useless skills too. When I gave up work a year ago today to come to America I decided I would use my time wisely to learn many new skills and become a more educated person. I thought I might do a Masters (being rather fed up of being a Jack) or maybe even a PHD (So I could become a Doctor. 'Which Doctor?' you may ask - not a Witch Doctor - a real one of something useless - PHD in literature or history or some shit like that) or an MBA. MBA's are really expensive and I realised even if I liked the title I didn't have an ounce of interest in 'Market segmentation analysis' and 'Net promoter scoring'. People who do must be very dull!
I decided to develop other skills - maybe go to an art class.Maybe... I haven't yet! I joined a belly dancing class having already got some skills in shimmying. The teacher was recovering from a hip replacement and her son took the lessons instead. I didn't think the need for a hip replacement was a good advertisement for Belly dancing. Her son was very serious and focused on technique. It was no fun at all. I wanted to shake my coin belt and tassels like shakira and he wanted me to understand the difference between 'raqs baladi' (proper belly dancing) and 'raqs sharaq' - westernised belly dancing. I didn't care - I just wanted to have some fun!
I have mastered one skill I never thought I would develop. I may not be a Master of literature or a Master of Business Administration but I am now a Master baker! The standard white sliced bread in the US is grim. It is sweet and nasty. Anything edible by good bread standards (Italian, French) costs a fortune. There is a very trendy bakery near where I live that bakes on the premises, has pretentious French signs and a bistro type cafe and charges $13 for a freshly baked spelt loaf! $13!!!!
Within 3 days of being in the states, having no furniture or belongings to speak of, I decided to try something really radical. I made a loaf of bread...without a bread machine! Delia told me what to do. At first I was confused - with words like 'clenched knuckles', 'good pummelling', 'punching all the gas out' and 'knocking down' I thought she was training me for Fight Club. It turns out you have to be angry to make good bread and I was fairly pissed off at the quality of American bread, amongst other things, so I was ready for the challenge!
My husband buys me comedy wedding anniversary presents. He knows I don't like to be considered 'a wife'. I don't like the connotations of marriage and didn't even change my name so he plays on this. One year I got an steam iron. Another year he got me a water butt! I pretended the dough was his head, for a really airy loaf. If you are wondering what I buy him - I don't - I'm more than he deserves (and don't forget, I can put my legs behind my neck and have a particularly long tongue- what more could he ever want?!)
I just read this to him and he said 'if only that were even half true.' It is true - I can do those things - sadly for him 'willing' and 'able' are two different things
Anyway - last year he got me a 'Kitchenaid Mixer' to piss me off. It backfired. I loved it! I have to confess I have always wanted one - not to use - just as a kitchen accessory. Nigella Lawson has one so it is a must! My mixer has a dough hook. According to Delia you can use this to knead bread 'if you are lazy, weak or just tired' (pompous or what!). As I am all three most of the time, my dough hook is a godsend.