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Multi-Tasking - a Piece of Cake!

And now, dear reader a story which will either prompt you to say "Absolute rubbish!" or "Hear hear, this man talks sense!" It all depends on whether you are male or female. Ladies hold the belief that only they can multi-task while men firmly believe this to be nonsense – they just do not feel the need to shout about it, all a matter of self confidence really.

Here follows a typical evening of my life and, modestly confident that I am no cleverer than my fellow man, I have to say that any member of my own gender could do this equally well. That is, should he feel that he has something to prove.

Here is how I wrote a story, cooked my dinner, watched television, answered a telephone call and made six loaves of bread all in one evening, possibly scratched my left ear as well but I can’t be entirely certain of that.

"Absolutely impossible," you ladies say, "how can he write a story, cook his dinner, watch television, answer a telephone call and make six loaves all in one evening?"

Modern technology helps, of course. Below I list all the ingredients necessary for this superhuman feat.

Wholemeal flour

Mobile phone

Heavy bottomed uncut glass


Strong white flour




Bottle Islay malt whisky



Salted Welsh butter

2 bread tins


Olive oil

Comfy armchair



Frozen meal (prepared earlier)



Remote tv control


DVD recorder

Frozen peas

Knife and fork


Large board

Tea towel

Airing cupboard


I use the American method of measuring flour, i.e. cups because it avoids having to get the kitchen scales out and the flour can very easily be scooped straight out of the bag. But first you need the water. Pour 425ml water into the breadmaker and add 3 cups of wholemeal flour, then add 1 and a third cup of strong white flour. On top of this add 2 tsp salt and 2tsp sugar, 1oz of salted welsh butter and a sachet of dried yeast. Now select the dough making mode and start the breadmaker. You will only be using the breadmaker for the dough stage because we want a loaf to look like a loaf and we do not want a hole in the bottom where the paddle was now do we?

Take your mobile phone, find alarm clock and set a reminder.

You now have an hour and a half and, at some stage, you will need to eat so put some water in the steamer and put it on the hob to boil (turn gas on and ignite) now peel a goodly quantity of potatoes. Drop the potatoes into the steamer and add salt. boil for just over 5 mins. While that is happening put some olive oil in the bottom of the Remoska and switch on. Now take the heavy bottomed uncut glass, unscrew the bottle of Islay malt, carefully insert two fingers of the amber liquid in the bottom of the glass (this won't be difficult, it always seems to go to the bottom), carefully add almost the same measure of water. Convey the glass to your lips and taste. Isn't that good?

Now sit down and write a few notes.

Peel one carrot and slice thickly, clean and slice half a leek.

The potatoes should now be ready so turn off the gas, lift the lid off the steamer, give the potatoes a good shake to get rid of some of the moisture and roughen the edges. Put the potatoes in the Remoska and give it a bit of a shake to coat the potatoes in the oil. Put the lid back on the Remoska.

Take another sip.

Put the frozen meal that you prepared on a previous occasion in the microwave and heat at defrost for about 10mins. I used a pork chop in tomato sauce for this one, you could use whatever takes your fancy but it is preferable that it is a meal you made yourself. Put the carrots in the steamer, salt and cook on a low heat. Give the Remoska a bit of a shake.

Search for remote, turn on TV, get tray and knife and fork. Remember always to refer to these implements as 'knife and fork' rather than 'fork and knife'. Etiquette and all that.

Throw a handful of frozen peas in with the carrots for the last 5 mins.

Put the fruits of your culinary labour onto a plate, place the plate on your tray along with the knife, fork and heavy bottomed uncut glass (top up if it looks like this is necessary, no just do it anyway!). Convey this to your living room where you will see your comfy armchair, sit, eat, sip, enjoy.

Now start putting some substance into this week's story, being careful not to overdo the facts. When you feel your brain overloading grease two bread tins and sprinkle the large board with flour. Return to your story.

The alarm goes off to say that the dough is ready but the phone goes off at the same time.

"Hello …. Hello ….. hello"

Yes its one of those ‘phone calls when you are met with two or three seconds of silence and then someone announces that they are from the A-Z Market Research Company and your input would be SO important and could you spare some time – it should only take about 10 minutes. After having asked for some further information I lay the ‘phone on the coffee table and go into the kitchen to see to the bread.

I take the dough out of the breadmaker and split into two, knock each piece of dough into the bread tins, cover with a teacloth and put in the airing cupboard for 45 minutes. I reset my alarm.

Meanwhile add another batch of ingredients to the breadmaker and switch on. Sit at the computer and start writing this week's story. After 45 minutes the alarm will go off so take the bread tins out of the airing cupboard and put in the top oven at gas mark 5 for 45 minutes. Reset your alarm.

During these proceedings you may feel free to fill and empty the heavy bottomed uncut glass as many times as you feel necessary to create a good story. Continue to sip and tap away at the keyboard. When the alarm goes off the bread in the oven will be ready so knock the loaves out of the tin, return the loaves to the oven but turn the oven off. The second batch of dough will now be ready so again split into two halves, put into the greased tins, cover with the teacloth and put in the airing cupboard.

This evening there is time to do three batches so you just keep on going round and round in circles until ....

Put the cooled loaves into a polythene bag and seal, place in fridge. This will keep the loaves moist and also ensures they are firmer to slice in the morning before putting them in the freezer.

By 10.30 the story is finished, the emails have been sent, six loaves of bread have been made, a meal has been cooked and eaten, Islay malt has been enjoyed and the TV has been watched.

Now go to bed.

So, come on girls! Who said men can't multi-task?


And a reply has arrived from Anita of Fort William


Apparently the myth of multi-tasking has been blown by the fighter pilot training fraternity. Apparently multi-tasking is merely the ability to scan your environment and prioritise tasks and that none of us can do two things at the same time – at least not well – try drinking a glass of wine and catching a ball at the same time!! Fighter pilots (usually men) are trained to ‘multi-task’ as they have to scan several different instruments, the external environment and talk to other personnel and, apparently, these men learn to do it rather well – comforting isn’t it? You have obviously taken to it, too.

The reason why women take to this approach more easily than men is that the female brain is generally using both left and right hemispheres more than men. They also have more neural pathways between the left and right hemispheres. So – there’s more going on in the female brain when she is answering the door on one leg, cooking the potatoes, holding the baby and writing a book at the same time .... Personally, I admire the ability of the male brain to concentrate on one task at a time – mainly because I drive myself mad these days forgetting what I was doing half and hour ago because I scan the bl ....y environment all the time and get distracted.

I bet you wish you’d never mentioned it now!!

Great snowy photos.


Bob's note: In all the years I have known you Anita I have never noticed the door on one leg. Which one is it, is it your right leg or your left one? But I am being silly really, its obvious isn't it - it must be the one with bells on!!


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