Lucy Corry’s Blog: Not a lady who lunches

A startling confession from Lucy Corry — she just doesn’t enjoy lunch. 

I have an embarrassing confession to make for someone who likes to eat: I am hopeless at lunch. That is, I’m hopeless at making lunch for myself. If other people are involved, I’ll happily spend time and effort putting something together.

Going out for lunch is a joy. But when it’s just me, my general attitude is ‘why bother?’. Now that I work from home most of the time, you’d think it would be easy to treat myself to a lovely lunch. But there are always other things to do at lunchtime, like walk the dog or hang out the washing. Eating a well-balanced and leisurely meal doesn’t seem to be a priority.

Looking back, I wonder if I have always had issues with lunch. At boarding school, we made sandwiches for lunch immediately after breakfast and before doing our cleaning chores. An array of grim fillings – slices of grey, powdery boiled egg, rounds of greasy luncheon sausage, sweaty cheese, beetroot and coleslaw – were laid out so we could put them between slices of thin white sandwich bread.

Twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays), we got homemade biscuits (this was hugely exciting because the biscuits were generally a) enormous and b) delicious) so if necessary you could forego the disgusting sandwiches. I think this is what I did most often, in hindsight.

I remember some enterprising boarders the year ahead of me had convinced a few day girls that these sandwiches were delicious. They’d make extra and swap them for money to then spend at the tuckshop. I have to say, none of the day girls in my year were that stupid. Or maybe I was too embarrassed to offer them a beetroot-stained sandwich.

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In my second and third years at university I worked at a campus cafe over the lunch break several days a week, making coffee, doing dishes and serving up heavily spiced and salted wedges with blobs of sour cream.

It was funny how many people who’d always ignored me at lectures suddenly twinkled charmingly at me in the queue when they realised I controlled how much sour cream they’d receive. My shift would finish at 1pm and I’d quickly whip off my uniform to rush to a lecture, always worried that I smelled like chips. I can’t remember eating proper lunches in that period at all, though it was the age of the muffin so perhaps I just ate a lot of them instead.

Any dreams I had of journalism being the career where you regularly enjoyed a three-martini lunch were soon dashed by my first newspaper jobs, where any kind of lunch break was a rare luxury.

Apart from a brief period in pre-financial crisis London, where I occasionally experienced some of the city’s finest dining spots thanks to PR firms with deep pockets, lunch was a strictly al desko affair. My London newsroom reeked of reheated soup and ready meals, which people would eat over their keyboards because there wasn’t anywhere else to go.

And yet here, working in the comfort of my own home, with plenty of space and a fridge at my disposal, I just can’t seem to get excited about making lunch for myself.

My husband goes off to work with last night’s leftovers, my daughter goes to school with a lunchbox of various delectable items and I find myself eating peanut butter on toast. I know this is wrong on so many levels, but I can’t seem to switch it up.

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In his best-selling book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything, US behavioural scientist BJ Fogg says “there are only three things we can do that will create lasting change: “Have an epiphany, change our environment, or change our habits in tiny ways.”

While I wait for the epiphany, I figure I can try changing my environment and my habits. Who knows, sitting at the other end of the dining table to eat my peanut butter on toast might be the start of something wonderful. Watch this space.


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