One of the few things freelancers miss after leaving the treadmill is a steady flow of perks. Whatever they were for you, the chances are they won’t exist or, even if they do, you won’t be able to claim them on expenses and, even if you can, it’s you who has to earn enough to pay yourself back. Some perk.
Instead, simple aspects of freelance life become the treats: being free to meet a friend for coffee (but you can’t charge the coffee) or skipping round an exhibition during the day then catching up on work at night (but you can’t charge overtime) or taking advantage of sunshine midweek and working at weekends (which no one understands). It all adds up to freedom – the biggest perk of all – but, as freedom soon becomes a way of life, it rarely counts as a perk.
So, when an invitation arrived inviting me to an exclusive East Meets West lunch with cookery writer and television chef Anjum Anand, with the expectation that I will try to gain a commission for an article about it, singing for my, er, lunch is a very definite perk. Love her television programmes. Keep meaning to buy one of her books. And now this: Anjum showing us quick and easy ways to use paneer (Clawson paneer, to be precise) with us eating the results. I was happy to set the alarm and go commuting to the Good Housekeeping Institute’s demonstration kitchen.
What a stage set. Round tables beautifully laid … brilliant turquoise table cloths sprinkled with dark red chillies; sparkling glasses (filled with fizz as we arrived); a deep purple orchid on every place setting; stunning table arrangements of the same orchids in vases full of red chillies; a beautifully designed menu, instantly evoking the atmosphere of India; plus knowledgeable and friendly hosts, from Clawson, on each table to fill gaps in our knowledge about paneer. I have no idea how often other food writers go to this sort of do but it was far from typical for me.
And, being me, I gorged on every dish – all six of them – while trying to fathom the unfathomable reason why paneer had never made it into my shopping basket when I regularly order mutter paneer or sag paneer when out for a curry.
And then there was the goody bag – an unexpected (at least by me) extra perk. A packet of paneer; a balti dish; Anjam’s recipes for the day; a box of ginger tea; and a copy of Anjam’s New Indian, the book that accompanied Anjum’s BBC television series, signed by her at the end of the lunch. I went home with a light skip in my step despite being weighed down by my heavy stomach (due entirely to self-inflicted excess).
Whatever type of freelance you are, perks will be few and far between so grab them when you can. But if you treat them as freebies, you’ll find the invitations stop coming. The very least you can do is give them an honourable mention in your blog. Watch out for the recipes; they are perfect freelance lunches …
Excessive greed left me far from perky
- A couple of spoonfuls of paneer tikka masala
- Half a wrap of paneer fajitas
- A ladleful of Thai noodle paneer and vegetable curry
- A skewer of grilled paneer, peppers and onion
- Two large dollops of paneer and spinach curry
- Every last scraping of a glassful of layered berry and paneer cheesecake
Here’s a visual taster in the video taken on the day (if you blink, you’ll miss the back of my head): http://ow.ly/2JFiG