Sunday, 14th March, 2021

[Day 363]

Today is a day when two events are taking place on the same day – the first of these is Mother’s Day (or more accurately ‘Mothering Sunday’) and the second is my daughter-in-law’s birthday. So we have masses of cards, presents and calls coming into the house associated with either one celebration or the other. I was a little puzzled why ‘Mother’s Day‘ appeared so early this year – I tend to think of it as a Sunday near to March 25th (the ‘Feast of the Annunciation’) but I find after a little more investigation that the date (in the UK) is the fourth Sunday of Lent. Therefore, if Easter is early, then Mothering Sunday will also be early so that is one little mystery solved. Today being a Sunday, we engaged in our normal Sunday morning routine. I get up an hour earlier and then stroll down to collect our Sunday morning newspapers, getting back in time for the Andrew Marr Show which I am hoping might be particularly illuminating this morning in view of the fuss that is taking place over the Metropolitan Police’s catastrophic handling of the vigil taking place last on Clapham Common to commemorate the murder of the girl by a serving police officer. As I was making my way home complete with newspapers, I tend to take a banana with me to sustain me until I get breakfast. When I came to disposing of the banana skin I remembered an old ‘tip’ and decided to use the banana skin to give my walking boots a quick wipe. Although this sound odd, it is quite well documented that the large amount of potassium in banana skins is the beneficial agent when it comes to shine up leather. Incidentally, the same trick works with rubber car mats (not the cheaper plastic variety) – it appears that the natural oils found in banana skins are very similar to this occurring naturally in rubber products which may be drying out. This is all strange yet true – fortunately, at that hour in the morning, there was none around apart from the occasional jogger to see me cleaning my boots with a banana skin. On my journey down into town, I treated myself to a little concert on my trusty old iPhone – this time, I was playing J.S. Bach’s B Minor Mass and parts from the Matthew Passion. So all in all, I quite enjoy my little trips on a Sunday with a ‘free’ concert thrown in. We walked down to the park and there we met with some of our usual ‘park’ friends – as we all know what parts of the park we inhabit and congregate in, we tend to coincide more often than not. Needless to say, yesterday’s Rugby match (between England and France) was a great talking point. After a while, Meg and I struck for home and we bumped into one of our church friends who told us that we now had a priest to take services when we next go in a couple of week’s time. Nobody seems to know anything about him (not that that should matter at all) but it looks as though he has been installed in the presbytery already. Of course social contact with him and with fellow parishioners is bound to be limited until we are in further stage of lockdown.

This afternoon, as you might expect, was devoted to watching a 6-Nations rugby match – this time between Ireland and Scotland. It was a hard fought match and only decided in the last five minutes when the Irish clawed themselves ahead – it never ceases to amaze me how many rugby matches are decided in the last fine minutes or so of a game.

In the late afternoon, Meg and I decided to see if we could see anything that Mary Beard might have produced on the subject of ‘race’ in Roman society. We did find a well-illustrated lecture by Mary Beard which was fascinating and answered some of our questions indirectly. Whereas the far right in both Britain and America tend to look to antiquity for the ‘roots’ of white western civilisation, Mary Beard manage to dispose of the most facile of their arguments. She showed that how many statues although often displayed in museums as white marble, at least initially many of them would be coloured (garishly according to present day sensibilities) in which we can infer the skin tints and tones of ‘typical’ roman citizens. In short, there is quite a lot of indirect evidence that Roman society was relatively open and cosmopolitan and also with a degree of social mobility for some. For example, one gravestone found near South Shields shows that the person who had their monument erected for him had married one of his slaves who therefore became his wife (almost impossible to think of similar events happening in past centuries in the UK when slavery was still legal)