Friday, 30th December, 2022

[Day 1019]

It was a busy day, one way or another. Very early in the morning, I rationalised one of those corners (is there one in every house?) where various things needed sorting out and putting away. I managed to rationalise a whole series of charging cables for mobile phones/iPads as well as a variey of plugs, adapters and other diverse charging cables. By and large, these are not interchangeable with each other so on another day, I will have to work out what cable works with which device. Then as it was a case of throwing our clothes on, collecting our daily newspaper and then heading for a friend of ours who is a French widow who had invited us for a ‘Christmas’ We were equally delighted to discover that our good friends, the Irish couple who happen to be the next door neighbours, had also been invited so we made up a very happy group of six. The conversation, jokes, reminiscencies and discussions about recent TV programs carried on apace for at least a couple of hours and then we popped home at about 1.30 in the afternoon. As we had been comsuming nibbles most of the morning, we did not need nor had we any real desire for much lunch so we did make do with a cup of packet soup before we started to think about the elements of our entertainment in the afernoon. On the spur of the moment, I did a last minute switch of two small occasional tables we have recently purchased to populate our newly commissioned ‘music room’. As a result of these switches, my heritage mini hi-fi system which I have relocated to our dining room to be used when we are entertaining now has its own little specialist table which is exactly the right size, and which occupies an unobtrusive niche and is a much better match with the surrounding furniture. The specialist little tables which I bought from the Oxfam shop in Harrogate now populate the ‘music room’ and the little table lamp which has an ‘autumnal’ look and feel shade now goes perfectly on the little oak tables. So all in all, although I was full of trepidation whether the switch would achieve the desired results, now that it is complete I am delighted I was bold enough to have performed it and I am more than pleased with the overall net gains.

This afternoon was devoted to a Christmas entertainment of our new neighbours who have been in their new house for about a week now. We had already bought a selection of party food when I visited the supermarket on Thursday so preparation was as simple as it could be. Instead, though, of balancing food on our knees, we decided to have our preliminary chats in our dining room and then, at an appropriate juncture, move into the dining room which we have recently tidied up considerably and where we can sit and chat with each other across the table whilst we eat. This revised plan was a great success, enhanced by the fact that I could have our newly music hi-fi playing some quality Christmas music gently in the background. When you meet new neighbours for the first time, there is always quite a lot of background information to impart and some of the questions we can answer whilst some (who is responsible for which fence) we cannot. I gather from the conversation at the end of the afternoon that they might be quite good soup makers as we were promised a sample of some parsnip soup enhanced with a bit of a specialist curry. Stretching back into my memory, I seem to remember that Baxters used to create a parsnip soup enhanced with a curry type spice but I may be mistaken in this. Anyway, I feel we have got off to a good start and I suspect that in the months ahead we may be sharing bits of our culinary tradition and delights with each other.

The media is naturally filled with the news of Pelé’s death who seems, by common acclaim, to have been probably the greatest footballer the planet has ever seen. The pundits are talking of Pelé, Maradonna and Messi but comparisons between them is difficult as they were of such different footballing styles. In 1958, he became the youngest goal scorer in the whole history of the World Cup and then scored twice in the final for the first of the three World Cups in which he played. Although the world’s greatest every player may have died, his legacy lives on. Neymar, the Brazil forward who moved level with Pele’s record of 77 international goals during the last World Cup, said: ‘Before Pele football was just a sport. Pele has changed it all. He turned football into art, into entertainment He gave voice to the poor, to the blacks and especially: He gave visibility to Brazil.’

This year, we have carried on with the tradition, well known in Yorkshire, to serve Christmas cake with a slab of cheese (preferably Wensleydale) on top of it. In my teenage years, in the the pub, the landladies used to serve this regularly to the patrons but I doubt the tradition survives to this day.