I would like to say that God, or the gods, or some laughing cynical power gave it to me, but unless Husband is a wizard on the quiet, unless I was hexed (which wouldn't entirely surprise me,) I probably did it to myself.
Yesterday after school I took the kids to the supermarket, clutching in my sticky mitt the tenner prised from Husband's grasp before he deserted me for three days, plus the (shhh) emergency one I already had stashed. We only needed milk, bread and cat food, but as I couldn't be bothered to do egg and chips or hot dog and chips or any other junk and chips for tea, again; as the kids were piling on the guilt by running round like it was Christmas already, yet only daring to actually ask for the stuff on special offer, I told them to help me pick our dinner.
Daughter spotted the vegetable ravioli - she likes tinned ravioli, but not, as she puts it, the 'stuff' in the middle. She announced that she really, really wanted ravioli, especially if it didn't have 'stuff'. Please, oh please.
Okay, so we're on kiddy food after all, and I start suggesting a couple of things I quite like, to 'go with' - I have a childhood appreciation for tinned spuds. Actually I have an adult appreciation for them too, when they mean no peeling and they're hot in five minutes. Shame on me.
No, neither wanted that, they just wanted ravioli, a bowl (tin) full, each, at 60p a pop. Except then, Son doesn't. He's spotted the instant noodles and is begging for a packet with chow mein flavour.
What the heck, its very cheap, and they both had a 'proper dinner' at school (yeah, I know, joke, but I like to fool myself,) so I gave in.
At this point they're both happy. I'm not, particularly, because it means I have to find a meal for one, for me, or go back to plan A - crapola & chips.
This is where the devil crept in. As we headed off to the cat food aisle, I recalled that my beloved other would be out with his mates, eating at a Wetherspoons Pub. They are brilliant places, more like a relaxed restaurant with good beer on tap and they always have - compared to hotel food - a ridiculously cheap 'special of the day', usually on one of those huge oval steak plates that would double as a skateboard if you fitted wheels.
As we slumped our frugal way past the supermarket meat counter I encountered this very modestly sized sliver of topside steak. It was humming to me like a siren, singing of how much smaller than the other bits it was, how unostentatious and forgiveable; how heavenly it would be with a couple of sliced button mushrooms and a smattering of garlic. I mean, wow, steak for tea; how long has it been? Ages. Aeons have been filled with kids' quality sausages, mince, burgers, pasta and (gulp) fish fingers. I succumbed. My guilty secret.
I've got to tell you, after that I was on a roll and when more than a pint of good dry cider announced itself on sale at 99p and nestled cozily into my shopping basket, purring that it would top the lot off just perfectly, well hell, I hadn't the heart to put it back on the shelf. Bye Bye emergency tenner, hello smug night in.
Normality kicked back in as soon as we were home. The kids argued, stopped to eat, then argued some more, then found a 'must see' TV programme that ran for half an hour beyond their bed time. The well presented argument that this cartoon was a miracle which had averted world war three left me wondering how often they work together to set me up, but by then I didn't have the energy to put my foot down.
This meant that once they finally retired, I ended up padding in and out of the kitchen to monitor my long awaited steak and mushrooms, which were frying slowly whilst my own 'grown up' programme was on.
I gave up on creating a proper meal, couldn't find the garlic for love nor money, and ended up with just the steak and mushrooms - nothing else at all, not even a solitary pea. It was enough and I was very happy.
When it was about done, I set out my cutlery and (gosh, such a treat) a glass for my secret cider guzzling. Everything was prepped and ready. Everything but a bottle opener.
I've gone on too long already, but the upshot was that I got to my meal more than half an hour later. The mushrooms were sticky with the meat juices, whilst the meat was looking like it never had juices to start with. I shared the sofa with several 'might possibly do the job' bottle-opening implements discarded as each failed to do the trick ( and yes, they included a screwdriver, a toenail clipper and a monkey wrench. I am a saddo.) By then, of course, I also had this nice little cut on my hand. But the cider was open.
So today I pay for my treat. Do you know what?
I don't care. It was effin' gorgeous.