Food and cooking

I’m not sick of fish yet but would die of surprise if I saw a green leafy vegetable on my plate. With so many plants growing freely around it always surprises me no green vegetables are planted.

Flatting helps one appreciate food at home all the more! It’s not that we can’t cook, because we both do pretty well in that department, but – us poor students – at home there’s nice food, one doesn’t have to work hard to jolly it up.

whisky & weaving

Here we are in the damp Scottish mists – now I know why they make so much whisky and weave so much – they need to in order to survive the damp. I feel like a fungus already.

 

 

 

Today I made my Christmas cakes. Rather late in the piece, I’m afraid, however they are done. I have two to give away and one to keep. I also made some shortbread from an untried recipe which is rather disappointing. I am putting a piece of it out of its misery as I write this. [For Christmas] I am having a duck galantine which I will cook in the morning, or the night before, and some salads. I don’t want to have to cook, then eat, a roast if it is hot.

I sat with another volunteer at lunch and she spent the whole time telling me how wonderful her microwave was and how quickly it did everything. I think I am too old to bother, and perhaps it isn’t really necessary for one person alone, as the cooking doesn’t take long anyhow, and the sound of making sauces and so on in it leaves me cold. I expect it would be good for you when you come in late from work, but the outlay would take a lot of saving on electricity! I was delighted when somebody else joined us as she proclaimed that meat didn’t taste as good done in one, and she didn’t think it all that wonderful.

Thank you letters

From young:

[Gift of a kite may explain – or not] Thank you for the kite. I flew it after we went roller-blading today… Sorry the letter is late. There wasn’t enough wind.

Thankyou for the blundiebus mirror, and the milky peewees (I bet you think I’ve lost my marbles!) No, seriously, they’re choice and so is the marble book and that impossible jigsaw puzzle.

fliers

thanks for the fun fliers. Live is going well apart from cofs and senezos. School has bene going well a part from sume upsets in th second turm.

 

 

Thank you for the money. School is beter than I thort. In Fact it is MUCH better than you thort. I am olso having drum lersons. it is cool. I Will pobebly get a c.d. ore a vido with my present. PS Thank you. by X

& somewhat older:

Thank you very much for the money you sent for my birthday. I didn’t actually buy a drink with it, I bought a hacksaw which I was in dire need of so thank you very much.

No way can I tell you how greatly I enjoyed the wonderful afternoon you gave me. Best of all seeing your splendid little house and charming garden and now being able to visualise what goes on in your busy life!

Thank you for giving me such a lovely day at X again. I’ve never not had a splendid time with you but this time was best of all.

This is to thank you again for the very great pleasure it was to me to meet you… It is a very long time since I have had such a happy afternoon, of so much interest and intense enjoyment… My interest and appreciation were so great that I actually felt a lifting of the weight of years – one of the hazards of extreme old age is a kind of creeping inertia and withdrawal from the present, and you have certainly thrust that aside for me. To see you again is something to look forward to.

Politics

Partner is away at the moment doing a dreadful course in Yorkshire which will teach him how to deal with a nuclear holocaust. He can pick me up from Greenham on the way back!

Not much has transpired since we last communicated (except the Falklands war!!!)

Oh, think of the boredom of an election – can’t say I am keen on any of them really and the radio will be full of speeches and rant.

…and in the process of freeing up the ‘wage freeze’ which the former government had in force, and so this round everybody is trying to catch up for about the last three years…

We continue to be regaled daily with snippets about the Rainbow Warrior affair – of which one of the nicer ones was a report from Paris of official indignation about the conditions under which the two French Army officers were being kept on remand awaiting trial. ‘As though they were common criminals’ was the complaint. I don’t know what the French think arson and murder count as in the criminal code.

the closed mind

…when I asked X what she thought, she said honestly enough, ‘I came with a closed mind, and I’m going away with a closed mind’.

There is so much fraud and mismanagement in Government it is frightening. Government hospitals and health services are in a sorry state but there is always money to show off and host conferences… One thing they are good at is throwing a party… I’m stuck here, there is nowhere to go. I can only do the best I can and trust I don’t get raped, robbed, hijacked or murdered. (No exaggeration, all are very real possibilities). Funny, but I manage to live my life without fear. We have our lovely weather, good shopping, movies and theatre and I still have a job and a roof over my head for which I am grateful.

There has been factional fighting in the council for a long time, with some members accusing others of just using it as a way to self aggrandisement etc. etc. Now the mayor is in the middle of a public scandal relating to some shady personal business dealings in X. The public bone of contention is that he used council phone and fax facilities to the tune of several thousand dollars for these business dealings, and also that he sent personal business correspondence on council letterhead. He doesn’t see that he has done anything untoward. So, once again, we wait for the mud to settle before we can see what’s what.

Our trials and tribulations of the past 4 months contain enough material for a long-running ‘Asian soap’. We have been under surveillance from Special Branch, ordered to leave the country and goodness only knows what else… but we are still here and alive to tell the tail! oops tale!

 

Food theories

Our friend has a different theory – that all the violence which seems to get worse and worse each year is a direct result of addiction to junk food. When challenged, he assured me that it was a well-proved scientific fact, and told me all about some experiments with rats or mice where the junk food group became pot-bellied, mangy and cannibalistic in two months, while the control group remained as sleek and fat as Pharaoh’s kine.

 

the dream

I had a long and complicated dream last night in which one of the bridge club widows (who in the dream was an American) came and assured me that the key to world peace was a diet of corn fritters, which toned down the most aggressive temperaments to coo like doves. She had various additional ingredients and cunning methods of cooking which would vary the taste to anything one liked more or less from roast beef to ice cream. There were lots of embroideries to do with a drink called Eirene and ways of getting people to take one or the other – but I suppose the most significant aspect of the whole thing was that it started with lots of people shuffling about – in a psychiatric ward! So much for hopes of world peace!

Money

I happen to be the most useless person in the world at keeping track of my finances (there are as yet undiscovered African tribesmen who could maintain a bank account better), and at the time of the wedding – and many times since, I’m embarrassed to say – I was seriously wobbly in a fiscal sense.

I have just vented my spleen on the local hospital management as a protest at the monstrous charges we have to pay under the reformed, streamlined, user-pays, homogenised, de-humanised health ‘service’. I’ll probably have to pay in the end but I guess a protest on the way won’t go amiss! I recently heard of a person who wrote to say she wasn’t paying on principle. The bill was handed to debt collectors. Their fifth letter contained the information that they had ensured that she now had the lowest credit rating possible and that in future no business in the country would lend her money, allow hire purchase or give her a mortgage.

I am very interested in the Heseltine-Thatcher quarrel, as Westland shares are one of my few remaining English investments. Obviously whoever wins the quarrel, I have lost most of my money in the company already – but at least if their future is worth squabbling about, presumably they are not going to be left to go down the drain without trace, and might one day get back to paying dividends and being worth more than the 2 1/2p that they are proposing to write the shares down to at present!

She seized half his capital and all the furnishings of his house. She then refused all his many offers of maintenance for the offspring and insisted on fighting it out in the courts at a cost in lawyers of some strange amount to each party. Then the judge by some miracle awarded her much less than X had offered her in the first place so she is ever skulking around sniffing for more!

I am alarmed at your state of having 2 mortgages and no job… I never have enough money – who does? – so for the past 8 months I have been taking in a student lodger… It has worked quite well – but of course it meant a lot of heaving around of stuff from one bedroom to another and the loss of privacy.

X wrote to me and said he was in S.E. Asia again until March. He must be about 90 by now. I hope if I live that long, that I’ll be able to get about like him at that age. (Silly idea really – I certainly won’t have enough money.)

no water

I moved into X’s house… He’s on leave… As soon as I moved in I found an unpaid electricity bill, I paid that and was pleased to have averted a crisis. Then I found an unpaid water bill and paid that. There was still water in the tank, so I didn’t know the water had already been cut off until the afternoon of 24th December.

Entertaining

As usual at 7.15 with us arriving and getting organised we started worrying that no one would come – but then half an hour later we worried if we had enough food/drinks.

It’s the village party tonight… As the noise is so terrific it doesn’t matter much who is there – conversation is all but impossible.

tiddly speaker

The old boy patron of the society (who opened the Exhibition) had obviously been wined and dined too well by X – was so embarrassing – really quite tiddly.

 

 

If you want to come you can have the camp bed here but I know that only a night or two is possible without me suddenly going mad. Such a creature of habit am I too.

… and then we had afternoon tea at the Vicarage for a select few – ugh – but it wasn’t too ghastly and I just survived. ‘Being social’ is just NOT my strong point – but then you know that.

She made a super rich cake and put it where the dog can’t reach it. X moved it to a place that was a gift to the dog who ate about 1/8 of it but wait – after nearly giving up with rage – she made another and filled it with layers of cream and put cherries soaked in brandy on top and put a throw-over over and SHUT doors … sudden scream from X – the dog got in and had pulled cover off bring the cake to edge of table – spoiling top cream only…

She would be very happy for X to come and stay there – she is quite firm that he would be more comfortable and better fed there and I rather agree! She has ‘turning out of her room’ down to a fine art… she is worried about putting Y out of his routine of sitting in the armchair in the kitchen and watching TV… He finds it hard to admit that he is older. Oh dear, what a mouldy old lot I make us out, but we really are rather dull and set in our ways and I do feel two or three days would tell X all he needs to know about our insular views. Old memories are all very well but when the names are all missing the conversation tends to be ‘Oh, of course you know who I mean – dear old so-and-so with the wife’ and the audience has to guess until we get the right person or all give up in disgust!

[After a memorial service] X had got a bun fight ready at the house which was for the family, relations, friends and village people who remembered him. So it was all a bit mixed as the village method of having a tea is to take their cup and plate and pile the latter with all the grub it will hold and then retreat to the available chairs and bad luck to those who come later – which inevitably would be the relations and friends!

Telling it how it is

X remarked how well we all looked: retirement must be good for us, and he really must try it some time. I said, ‘What a good idea’ and hoped afterwards that I had not sounded too enthusiastic. But it is really high time that he did – he’s sixty-nine, and so conservative that John Bull would look liberal pink by comparison – and by and large he’s about 80% responsible for whatever failings in morale there are among the staff locally.

You said you thought I might be too young to see the hang-ups, I can see the hang-ups and aren’t blind to them but if a person grows up looking at what they might be getting out of life had they done something else they wouldn’t enjoy the decisions they have made. Anything works if you try. If only you could be here to see… you’d understand. I am young but am really quite grown up too and I like to look at things in a positive sense ‘cos if I always think negative I’ll be a negative person when I’m older.

I proposed an amendment which supported the declared intention to help poor people … I wasn’t allowed to get away with ‘poor people’ – it was variously described as Dickensian, patronising, etc. and ‘lower income groups’ wormed their way in instead.

That reminds me of a decorator that was here just before we moved in. He was meant to re-varnish the windows which were heavily water stained and badly neglected; so what does he suggest? ‘You’re wasting your money on these windows – you’ll never make them look good. Why not re-paint the kitchen instead?’

In the course of the day I managed to drop my old glasses, and broke the frame, which was convenient in that it saved any question of trying to use the frame again (which I did the last time I had a change of prescription). The nice young optometrist looked at it and said it had been a nice frame once – all the rage about the time he was starting work twenty years ago.

the frig

Men are wonderful inventions – X gaily went off leaving the refrigerator full of an odd chunk of bread and a bit of cheese and various jugs of orange and milk – I suppose he hoped Y would deal with it, or perhaps he imagined it would keep for a month. The house seems to be having the clean-up that can’t be managed when he is there, and the sheds have lost a lot of treasures by my unkindly hand. 16 old tobacco tins for storing hypothetical screws and nails went quite firmly… I hope he doesn’t notice that a pair of waders that had rotted over the bunion spots have gone from the shed as I am sure they were very treasured but weren’t ever used judging by the spiders and cobwebs surrounding them.