Too green for a free life?

I’d been toying with the idea for years, longing to be released from the tyranny of bad management, stifling office politics, endless pointless meetings, inflexible routines, the deadening soullessness of commuting and the vicious back-biting that is rife in our industry.

Unsure whether I could survive, every few years I persuaded myself that changing jobs was the answer. A different boss, a new subject, working in-house, in established teams, starting from scratch … I tried every variation I could think of – as an employee. After 20 years creating a broad CV (I was proud of it but there was no denying it was choppy), there was only one option left: freelancing.

Within days, friends remarked about how happy and relaxed I looked.  My confidence and self-esteem rocketed; the precariousness of my financial situation mattered not at all. I was free. “Why didn’t I do this years ago?” was my constant thought.

Former colleagues used my services, almost all giving me repeat business. Driven by the fear of no income, I had offered to work on projects at home and as a gap-filler in-house, I was available for consultancy advice and to be a workhorse. So, when the early rush of commissions slowed down, saying yes to a friend who asked me to fill a six-week press office spot was easy. “That means a regular invoice!”, said a voice in my head.

The down side began to emerge when I worried about what to wear. Here at home, anything goes; occasionally, nothing goes as well (if clients knew I was naked, my hourly rate would change significantly … not necessarily for the better). On day one, when the clock woke me, I groaned; surely freelancing means not being ruled by alarms to meet other’s expectations? When I saw my desk, and heard whispered asides as the in-house team complained about a boss, I knew I had got it wrong.

Without thinking, I had recreated what I had set out to leave behind – a form of prostitution (anything for anyone anyhow, as long as it earned me money) and it made me feel cheap. Freelancing was not the easy option, as I was beginning to discover.

A symphony in green (Avocado and walnut salad)

Half a ripe avocado (or the whole thing if no one is counting your calories)

Handful of chopped walnuts

Lamb’s lettuce

Walnut oil

Himalayan salt and black pepper

  1. Do you really need instructions?
  2. Sprinkle the walnut oil onto the lamb’s lettuce and toss gently (I used my hands). Pile it into the middle of the plate.
  3. Run a knife lengthways through the flesh of the avocado, cutting down to but not through the skin, to create strips. Run the knife through it again, across the strips, creating chunks. Scoop them out with a dessertspoon.
  4. Pile the avocado into the middle of the lamb’s lettuce which, inconveniently, will spread itself out all over the plate making the whole thing go flat. Fiddle about as much as you wish to try to prettify it but it’s mostly pointless. It would probably be better dotted all over the lamb’s lettuce.
  5. Sprinkle the walnuts around.
  6. Grind over the black pepper and sprinkle on some salt.
  7. It’s really not a recipe, is it.

Does it look better than it tasted? Or did it taste better than it looked?

With lamb’s lettuce on the turn, a perfectly ripe Hass avocado and not much else, this is a bit of a scratch lunch. But it was good – light and pretty, for all its greenness – and very filling thanks to the walnuts.

I tried a bit of it with a little lime juice, to see if it added anything, but all it did was kill the subtle velvetiness of the avocado and drown the nuttiness of the walnut oil. It’s best as a very simple platter (though anchovies might be good next time).

This blog first appeared as an article in PR Business, in which I had my own column (what a thrill that was!)

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