Now, much as we may like to pretend that we care not a jot for what others think of us, I suspect that actually, most of us care very much indeed. And it can come as something of a slap in the face when we find out the bitter reality of how people truly perceive us: take this blog, for example. Clearly, I had hoped to present myself as a highly discerning, cultured individual with impeccably refined tastes - a knowledgeable connoisseur, a doyenne of sophisticated living. And yet. An email arrived a couple of weeks ago, out of the blue, that indicated that perhaps, just perhaps, others see me differently.
For the email was from Holland's Pies, purveyors of "proper pies and puds" (although I quite like the concept of an "improper", minxy sort of pie), proudly produced in Lancashire for over 160 years. Would I like to try them? Well, once I'd come to terms with the fact that rather than the ethereal, waif-like Florence figure I'd hoped, I am clearly coming across as a good sturdy, pie-eating sort of girl, I decided that YES, I would. Because unless I've had one at a chippy without realising it, I've lived in Manchester for the best part of twenty years now and NEVER HAD a Holland's pie. This is clearly a serious offence for a girl married to a Wiganer - I'm fairly sure divorces have been granted over smaller matters than this; indeed, Twitter was aghast when I confessed to my lack of pie-eating experience, collectively deciding that I probably hadn't had any kind of childhood at all (or indeed, perhaps any kind of adulthood either).
Anyway, Holland's promised to send some pies, and I thought no more about it until last Friday, when I came home from work and was met at the door by a boy with a face full of eager news. They're here, he whispered in a voice simultaneously hushed by awe and quivering with repressed, disbelieving joy, come and see. Tugging eagerly at my sleeve, he led me into the kitchen, where an air of reverence pervaded and Mr Liz was so overcome that words failed him entirely and he could only point at the worktop with an arm that I SWEAR was trembling slightly. For here was a bag, a CLOTH BAG, proudly proclaiming HOLLAND'S PIES and containing a whole FAMILY of pastry-based goods. It was hard to know what excited him more - the pies themselves, or the bag that SPOKE of pie...
So, we had pies for tea. The sausage roll was consumed as a "starter", a kind of carbohydrate warm-up, followed by the Meat Pie (beef and pork), the Steak & Kidney Pudding and the Cheese & Onion Pie - please don't worry that this meal sounds unhealthy, as I served it with carrots, thereby negating any potentially adverse effects. For me, the Cheese & Onion was a clear winner - essentially Northern fondue in a pastry case - while Mr Liz preferred the meaty options. I think the Meat Pie might be an acquired taste that my Southern-raised sensibilities are not yet ready for, but I look forward to trying the Steak Pie (maybe not the Potato and Meat one) that has been secretly stashed in the freezer to prevent over-excited boys eating themselves into a meat coma at one sitting. These pies were sent to us free, but we were not pressurised into saying nice things about them - Holland's genuinely seem very confident in their own product, and are keen for more people to try them.
So, whilst I'm obviously still a junior, trainee sort of pie-eater, I feel that I've completed another stage of my application for a permanent Mancunian visa. And if you see a jaunty boy out and about with a Holland's Pie bag, then do give Mr Liz a wave.