Deborah Ross: 'Nigella always recommends using your index finger to turn off the TV, but I believe that any will do fine'

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The Independent Online

If you ask me, the best recipe for this time of year has to be the one called: How To Get On The Case Of A Teenager Who Is Meant To Be Revising For His Exams. This is an excellent summer dish, although if the teenager has to do retakes, which is now looking extremely possible, it can easily be reheated and served again in January. In both instances, good accompaniments might include an icy stare and a clout round the ear.


A very shouty voice (Asda do good ones)
A finger
A copy of 'Wuthering Heights' (or similar great work of literature)


Turn up the oven to 200C as you may want to put your head in it. Or his. First, you must interrupt your teenager who, chances are, got up at noon and is now sprawled on the sofa, working his way through the box-set of The Wire (for the second time, yo). Using your finger – Nigella always recommends the index finger, but I believe any will do fine – turn off the TV. Next, using a nagging tone of voice, available from most supermarkets, ask something along the lines of: "Shouldn't you be revising?" If he comes back with: "Chill, Mum, chill," do not. Chilling will only ruin the flavour of the fight to come.

Instead, bring yourself up to a simmer, flourish Wuthering Heights or any other set text (Paradise Lost works just as well) and say: "Shouldn't you be reading this? It's English tomorrow, isn't it?" Although some don't feel it is necessary – Delia doesn't feel it is necessary, for example – you may wish to then add: "They are not going to examine you on The Wire, you know." If he then replies in Wire-speak, insisting that Wuthering Heights is "a poor book, yo" and "boring, most def" let yourself reach boiling point, bring out that shouty voice (M&S also do them) and scream: "DO YOU WANT TO END UP WASHING DISHES? DO YOU? DO YOU?" Finally, place a head in the oven. It may be his, it may be yours. This is always a matter of personal taste.