Deborah Ross: Tales from my father's footstool

If you ask me...

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If you ask me, although the multi-talented Ms Gwyneth Paltrow does indeed invite parody – "Come in! Make yourself at home!" – I am entirely in awe, and can see that her new cookbook, My Father's Daughter, is probably going to far outsell my cookbook, My Father's Footstool, in which my father's footstool gives tantalising glimpses into its glamorous lifestyle, talks fondly about my father – "A very decent man; always a pleasure to help him take the weight off his feet" – and all interspersed with recipes, as if we might care.

Although My Father's Footstool does not come endorsed by Madonna or Jay-Z, even though they'd both really love it, it does share the assumption that just because it can make a decent Sunday brunch, as it so can (my father's footstool is famed for its blueberry pancakes), the rest of the world must be interested.

"Isn't it?" my father's footstool might ask loftily, with no self-awareness whatsoever. "The world will still turn without my recipes, you say? Even though I am so obviously superior to all the other footstools out there? Even though I am so obviously a perfect specimen, if a little icy? Even though your father took me to Paris when I was 10, because he wanted to be the first man to show it to me? Even though it isn't easy for a man to wander the streets of Paris with a footstool under his arm? I find this all very hard to believe, and would ask you to take your scepticism elsewhere. As it is, I have a very busy afternoon during which I intend to further lose my grip on reality. Honestly, I'm seriously glad I'm your father's footstool, and not yours."

Still, my father's footstool does, at least, accept that it has some way to go before becoming the full-on, Paltrow-style brand with rock-star spouse – "Alas, I am shacked up with your mother's pouffe, who is most ordinary" – and a website which dispatches a monthly newsletter. In the latest newsletter, Ms Paltrow offers the following: "At home, we've recently made the change to organic hand sanitiser, which we always have in the car for the trip back from school and from play dates."

Yes, Ms Paltrow does invite parody, and do accept the invitation if you must, but remember this: have a good wash first, particularly if you suspect you might be a bit common. And this: although my father's footstool does not insist you sanitise your hands, it would ask you to wipe your feet. Yes, indeed.

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