Sunday, 22nd November, 2020

[Day 251]

Today is what is popularly known as ‘Stir Up Sunday’. To any people, particularly those living in more rural communities, this is the day traditionally when people started to make their Christmas puddings, giving them plenty of time to be baked and then mature with liqueur before Christmas Day. It used to be the the tradition in some households that grandchildren used to help their grandmothers (typically) prepare the cake – sometimes, small coins (such as a silver 6d was included in the mixture). But the words ‘stir up’ actually relate to a much older tradition – the Collect for this particular Sunday used the words ‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people‘ but the words themselves got a little displaced sideways to refer to culinary rather than theological, activities. I dare say that many of these old customs and traditions are dying out but there must be some elderly members of the community who remember them. Before I went down on my walk this morning, I listened to the radio station ‘ClassicFM‘ and heard the classic recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto by Jacqueline Du Pré who career was tragically cut short by MS at the age of 28. She was only 20 years of age at the time she made the classic recording – and is still regarded by many as one of the greatest cellists of all time. Listening to the recording and contemplating why it was so distinctive, it occurred to me that it was the exquisite timing of her phrasing – she seemed to pause for about a fifth of a second before entering each phrase and this gives an additional poignancy to her rendition. In fact, many followers of classical music will listen to a cello recording and say ‘That was the Jacqueline Du Pré recording‘ and as it was made in 1965, it had certainly stood the test of time being recorded more than half a century ago.

I collected our newspapers early as I tend to do on a Sunday and made contact again with my friendly Asian newsagent with whom I hd exchanged web addresses last week. His style of cooking seemed to evoke great admiration both in California and in London and I resolved to see if I could try and sample some of the style of his cuisine when (if?) I ever get to London again. In the meanwhile, he had read some of these blog entries and quite enjoyed them. After we had a pleasant stay in the park we walked home meeting nobody in particular (the Sunday ‘crowd’ in the park does differ quite a lot from the people we meet during the week – after all, the weekends do have a somewhat different rhythm to the weekdays). After a chicken dinner (prepared in the style of what I think is sometimes called ‘Spanish chicken’ – onions, peppers and tomatoes fried off and then added to a white lasagne sauce and baked in the oven for an hour) served with broccoli. Delicious, even though I say it myself. Then in the afternoon, we watched the France-Scotland rugby match where e had anticipated that the French would overwhelm the Scots – it was actually quite a hard-fought much with the scores level at half time but the French eventually prevailed as we thought was inevitable.

I have read in the Sunday newspapers from a usual well-informed source (Tim Shipman of the Sunday Times) that the days of Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, may well be numbered. The word ‘on the street’ appears to be that Boris Johnson has protected her ‘for now’ and to avoid giving the impression that he is bowing to Labour pressure. But come the reshuffle of the government, scheduled for early in the New Year, after Brexit is finally done and vaccines my be in sight to deal with the coronavirus then Priti Patel might be shuffled sideways to become the Chairman of the Conservative party (i.e. concerned with party organisation) as she is already the darling of the Conservative faithful. What is especially interesting is the notion being put about that she is moved because she is not particularly competent in her role. Perhaps if she was, she could resort to intellect rather than having to shout obscenities to her staff – to my mind, this is an indication that she is surely out of her depth. One of her university professors has opined that her MA at the University of Kent was so bad that he practically had to write it for her!