I'm not normally a competitive type of person. I'm more of your "let's all pull together", "we're all in the same boat", "do unto others" type of guy. Never having excelled in anything I have always been a bit down on competition - it's OK if you are the kind that win, but I have always been an "also ran" in life's great steeplechase. I know I risk being accused of self-deprecation : after all, "everyone is good at something" as my Year 2 Junior School teacher, Mrs Turner, used to say. But even as a 7 year old, I could detect a look of what just might be pity as Mrs Turner said these words, she knew it was a fib and she realised that I knew it as well. "You see", she said, "you're very perceptive" as if it proved her point. I remember trying to look the word up in my Woolworth's First English Dictionary and not finding it there. When I remembered the conversation years later - and I had upgraded my dictionary - I realised that she was probably right.
If I am good at anything, it is baking a first-class Yorkshire Pudding. Ask any of my friends what they most readily associate with me and you will get very few answers that include phrases such as "ready wit", "sparkling personality" or "craggy good looks", but you will have a good few Yorkshire Puddings doing the rounds. I'm proud of my Yorkshire Puddings and just a little competitive about them.
Now I have a good friend who believes that she can bake a decent Yorkshire Pudding (I don't want to mention names but for the sake of argument let's just call her "E"). She has gone so far as to suggest that her Yorkshires are better than mine. Once she accused me of having bought mine from Tesco's - to a true Yorkshire Pudding baker there are few insults lower than this. I have on several occasions challenged her to a "Battle of the Puddings" but she normally manages to avoid the confrontation. However, she has become something of a culinary stalker : she buys the same Yorkshire Pudding tins as mine and often questions me about my recipe. There are certain things you just don't talk about and one's treasured Yorkshire Pudding recipe is one of them.
Now the other day I received an e-mail. It was one of those circular things which asks you to send 10 coca-cola ring-pulls to an orphaned dwarf in Tennessee - well that kind of thing. The appeal related to "favourite recipes" and one was asked to send a copy of your favourite recipe to the person whose name was on top of the list. It didn't take me long to work out what was going on. Nice try E but you will need to get up earlier in the morning to pull that old trick on me. I will forgo the pleasure of having 1,244 fascinating recipes coming through my letterbox. I will risk the witch's curse for breaking the chain. You are not getting my Yorkshire Pudding recipe E!