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The heavy door swings open, the lights flicker on. He is hungry, and having no time or skill for lobster thermidor, nevertheless decides to make a masterpiece.

Ingredients tumble from the shelves into his enthusiastic hands. Just the very basics - an economy bag of pasta, almost-stale bread, cheap American cheese. Selecting the plate that looks the least dirty from the rack, he lays it ceremonially on the sideboard, where it stays, humbly awaiting its charge.

Ah! What we're missing is music! A quick trip across the hall, and suddenly the kitchen (indeed, the house) is filled with something not in the least bit culinary. A mobile phone now lies dangerously close to the cooker, a modern egg timer. Pasta twists and turns in the saucepan, half-forgotten, while he sits pretending not to read someone else's fashion magazine.

When at last the water boils over, he leaves the Lose 7st in a Week diet in another world, caught up in the quiet joy of sliding warm food onto a plate. Someone else's pepper shaker and a spillage of ketchup provide the finishing touches. Suddenly proud, he steps back, admires his work, takes a photo. Behold! The master chef!

Meanwhile, the dinner guest steals back across the hall to consume his creation, and by tomorrow will have forgotten. New recipes, each more disgusting than the last, will take their place. But for the next few days, the room will reek of ketchup, and simple bloated happiness.

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