15/11/2020

My feelings on paper

Barbara Warsop, Sheffield, Yorkshire

 

WOW, What a lovely group of people you all are. 

After my fall last week I have had good wishes from Shirin, Norway, Mark, South Africa and Mary in Norfolk. With thanks to Margaret for her astuteness. My wrist and arm are still painful but are on the mend. Thanks to all.

 

Yesterday I had a knock at my door. I wondered who it could be visiting me at this early hour when I was still in my dressing gown. It was the postman with a parcel, I thought I don't remember ordering anything. He left the parcel at my door and stood back and I thanked him. The post mark was Norfolk so my mind went to the journal friends.  

I couldn't wait to unpack it.  It was very light weight and had lots of bubble wrap and tissue paper wrapping like pass the parcel. I felt like a child again whose birthday was today. It was a lovely mug and card from my friend Shirin in Norway. What a wonderful thought that was. It cheered me up no end.   

 

All these good friends are the one good thing to come out of the misery of Covid 19.

 

Shirin and I change recipes and she sent me her Thai fish curry recipe. We were discussing the merits of sauces and she mentioned Worcestershire sauce. I was telling her about Sheffield's own Henderson's Relish. She had never heard of it and suggested I write about it in the journal.

 

So here is the story of Sheffield's own relish.

 

It was Henry Henderson who in 1885 concocted his first batch of relish originally at his home at 35 Broom Lane Sheffield. Henderson`s relish is still being made and has been in uninterrupted production within a short distance of the site from when the first bottle was filled after moving to a small factory at 4, Leavygreave Road, Sheffield.  

Henderson's relish is affectionately known by Sheffielders as Hendos.

Us Yorkshire folk would not dream of eating a meat and potato pie without our Hendos sprinkled on. It's a unique taste. It's a tragedy if we run out. I quote (oh no the bottle's empty).

It looks like Worcester sauce but its a relish not a condiment and does not contain anchovies like the Worcester sauce does so it is suitable for vegetarians. It is not fermented. The ingredients are a secret but it has vinegar and sugar and warm spices in it and tamarind.

There is no substitute for it, it is spicy and fruity.

It can be sprinkled on cheese, toast and added to gravy - and of course meat and potato pie.  

The business is now in the hands of the Freeman family who promised to keep the recipe secret. It is now run by Pamela Freeman. Because of its small business premises it was only sold around the south Yorkshire and Derbyshire areas. But more recently 2013 they have moved to larger premises on Sheffield Parkway with larger vats that can produce more relish. So it can be sold further afield.

Lots of stories abound about the Hendos relish.

Actor Sean Bean once  ordered a batch to be sent to his film set in India. Chef Marco Pierre White became enthusiastic of its charms on a live radio tasting. MP David Blunkett uses it on his shepherds pie. The Arctic Monkeys are die-hard fans.  

 

After the move of business to new premises the old Henderson's building became empty and it was such an Icon to the Sheffield people an historic building that Sheffield University has bought it as part of their campus. And converted it to a public house with the history to be maintained in it. It is situated by the side of the university building and also the super tram stop, so is to become part of Sheffield University.  

Recent news of Henderson's relish is that its been seen for sale in Inverness Scotland. So the company are extending their sales to other parts of the globe.  

Henderson Relish is a proud product of Sheffield history.

15/11/2020

Care in the time of Corona

Shirin Jacob, Ålesund, Norway

And the people bowed and prayed

To the neon god they made

 

The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel 

 

Sometimes I find it useful to revisit the most important values in my life. They have changed in the quarter century since I started examining them. Loyalty is number Five. It is in my Top Five, but relegated lower, after I noticed the different aspects of Loyalty. I decided I didn’t want the blind loyalty given, for example, to Hitler but the more warm, embracing unshakeable love and support. Re-evaluating my personal values and priorities periodically helps me navigate the maze of my life. It clarifies who stands with me in the safe center and who can be relegated to Mars.  

I had a sleepless night on Saturday watching Biden and Kamala’s celebratory speech. I liked their warmth and kind words. I appreciated Biden mentioning his wife in glowing terms right at the start of his speech. What is the reason I like him? He has suffered. And shown Courage. He has walked through the valley of darkness, through unimaginable pain, lost two children at different points of his life, deals with Hunter and his very public shenanigans with love and loyalty and is a good man. Not bitter and angry.  

 

I also had some late night’s finishing A Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. It was a very good study on winning and losing elegantly. I think you can tell so much about people’s character by how they lose, rather than how they win. What do you think? Nadal or McEnroe? Losers who take off their medals as soon as they are decorated, with disdain written on their faces; those who can’t acknowledge that the best man/woman won? With painful, long excuses and justifications as to why they lost instead of just congratulating the winner? The Williams sisters.  

We are looking forward to watching Barbet Schroeder’s “General Idi Amin Dada,” a play-book for all dictators, I’m sure. My husband was reading an article that described Amin as compelling, delusional, charming and crazy in turns. “His idea of the world was purely personalistic. He was an Amin-ist” (Slate.com).  

 

I leave you with the image of the South Korean boxer, Byun Jong Il, who lost a match in the 1988 Seoul Olympics for headbutting his Bulgarian opponent. He refused to leave the ring for more than an hour, so in the end the officials just turned off the lights in the stadium. The photo is his enduring legacy. A child who didn’t learn to lose elegantly.

Time March 09,2012

15/11/2020

Restrictions for many

Hilde Schöning, Buchholz, Germany

This week ends with two massive sighs of relief - Trump has not been re-elected and a company in Mainz has developed a very promising vaccine! That was exactly the kind of news you long for in the cold November rain. 

 

It is often foggy in the morning during my cycle to work. Schools are still open although many students and teachers are quarantined and the head of Germany's teacher association claims we are practising a salami lockdown in schools with more and more schools being temporarily closed. It remains to be seen, so far the numbers of infections have not significantly decreased since the beginning of the month and the new restrictions.

15/11/2020

Words from Wood Lane

Susan Neave, Beverley

Joe Biden as President-elect in the USA (whatever Trump may say), and the prospect of a vaccine for Covid being available for some groups before Christmas. Quite a week. In East Yorkshire the number of infections has risen rapidly recently, for no obvious reason, so just as well we are already in lockdown. Neighbouring Hull now has the highest figure in the country. May have to evacuate to North Norfolk!!

 

Had my flu jab on Tuesday. Afterwards I made coffee in thermal cups and took it to the nearby Coronation Gardens, which has plenty of seats, and met up with a friend. Did the same again this morning with a different friend. Just found a lost notepad that I’ve been searching for, on and off, for a week. It has a very distinctive cover – a 1950s furnishing design, ‘La Chasse’ for Edinburgh Weavers. I’ve used it to note down computer shortcuts. It was on my desk, hiding under a folder, in a place I’m sure I had already looked several times!

15/11/2020

View from the Top of the Hill

Linzy Lyne, Pateley Bridge

Hello Marie-Christine, so glad to hear you enjoyed the photo of my view from the hill. It's my perspective on the world, which accompanies me every day as I work at the kitchen table. The hill opposite is called "Greenhow Hill" and leads up to the desolate and windy village of the same name which sits on many old derelict lead mines, now hidden under the earth and rock. Because I'm constantly looking at a sloping horizon and a huge sky with constantly moving clouds, I think I am becoming slightly lopsided. It's always windy here and the shadows formed on the meadows change the colours across the valley all day. You will be very welcome to visit if you come this way but bring warm clothes! 

 

Lovely to hear about you taking the cattle out to graze, how different from the conveyor belt farming practices on modern farms. Here the cattle are brought in from the fields by farmers on quad bikes and chased along the yard by people brandishing blue plastic pipes. When we first moved onto a farm twenty years ago, I asked the farmer where I could buy milk and he replied "Sainsbury's". I think he was bitter because he had to give up his dairy herd as it wasn't viable and we were moving into the former dairymaid's cottage. There is a building on this farm which they call "the dairy" but it's now the home of the cattle crush, which is used to restrain the animals when they are having injections or getting their feet washed.

 

I too wonder about the validity of the "oldest sweet shop". There is also an "oldest chemist shop" in the town of Knaresborough, not far away. It was harder to disprove these claims before the Internet! The sweet shop is of course very famous and usually has people queuing down the High Street, which can be a hazard as the pavement and road are very narrow. It's a tiny shop, with floor to ceiling shelves of big sweet jars with all the traditional favourites. I leave it to the tourists, not being a big sweet fan. I expect they're doing fine in lockdown as they ship about three sacks of sweet parcels every day to customers around the world.

 

Not much changes here, even in lockdown. Our other window on the world of course, is the TV and we spend more time than we should following world events. It was such a joyous occasion last weekend when Joe Biden was at last confirmed to win the election! We joined in with all the happy revellers in the US and around the world and wept with joy to hear his speech, full of dignity and optimism.

 

So now Trump is refusing to go. We'd been saying for months "suppose he won't leave?" No surprise there, it was bound to happen. What is really worrying is that the rest of the Republicans are not making him concede, they are too afraid of losing their jobs. He is firing people at random, anyone who displeases him is out, including top security and election officials. There are many questions about his behaviour. Is he going to use his newly appointed stooges in the Pentagon to release classified information which he can alter to "prove" his innocence? Is he going to use the military to quash the election result? Is he actually a dictator, worse than any in the third world, who will try to stay in office permanently? Perhaps. Or perhaps he'll be gone by Sunday.

 

God forbid that he runs for president again next time. I don't think the world can take it.

 

Oh yes, stop press, Dominic Cummings is leaving Downing Street at the end of the year! Vive la change!

15/11/2020

Vie de château

Marie-Christine, Blois, France

Donald Trump, after the election of Joe Biden.

 

We know his faults. He lies continually but also tells the truth some of the time. He is lazy but also energetic. The greatest put down: he is not "chic", his hair cut, face powder, his tweets, no friend to the bien-pensant "stars of the moment"... that allows him to charm the "populo" and the "rural" - it's takes no time to see they are more numerous than the chic smart ones - that's why the newspapers are saying Trumpism will survive Trump, because the problems which created his support are still there. And I heard a respected observer of American politics say that Trump has put economics for the US on the positive side for many people and that why the vote for Trump was higher than expected. "The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes" said Churchill. In popular French: when the sun is shining, and Trump say it's shining, that doesn't necessarily mean it's raining. 

Georges Frêche, socialist mayor of Montpellier from 1977 to 2004, used to say, "Des gens intelligents, il y en a 5 à 6%, moi je fais campagne auprès des cons" (note 1). And he added, "j'ai fait trois campagnes intelligentes où je parlais aux gens d'économie, d'emploi et d'investissement et je les ai perdues. Et j'ai fait vingt sept campagnes rigolotes à raconter des blagues de cul, et je les ai toutes gagnées"(note 2).

Instead of being angry all the time, the communication advisers of D.T. should have told him to tell jokes on the top of his lies - he seems too pompous to have been able to tell jokes. Boris Johson in 2016 followed Georges Frêche's advice: "Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts". 

I am not a Trumpist, nor do I appreciate the "jokes" in politics.

I also can't stand all the "mother and apple pie" that bien-pensant politicians want us to believe. Their fairy stories are also lies and weaken real politics, for example: the promises to pour millions into the NHS, or Sécurité Sociale, wonderful laws to cure unemployment and to reduce taxes... when they have no practical intention to carry them out. And anyway, decency of intention is not enough. 

I was astonished, looking at the video of people gathering in Time Square for the Biden election, to see only one or two Star and Stripes flags there. In France, there is the same attitude toward the name of France (you are supposed to say "the Republic"), you are not supposed even to possess the flag. On the Place de la Bastille, on the election day of F.Hollande, the tricolor was the rarest flag. And you are not supposed to sing the National Anthem except in a football stadium. 

Biden's victory and his wish to unite Americans will hopefully oblige him to follow a politics which will fulfill the basic needs of underprivileged Americans. 

Before the 20th of January, let's keep hope alive, now is the time when we need a man capable of sympathy and fellow feeling in the world's top job.  

 

What are going to be the challenges after Covid ?

It is clear that our environment is going to be completely modified by what we are going through - our plagues a kind of endurance test, our "seven wounds of Egypt". 

I don't have answers for the questions I am asking myself. Perhaps some of my questions mainly apply to France. 

This morning in the UK papers, I saw the photos of empty Canary Wharf and that ignited my questioning. 

Is the finance industry still in need of a special location to exist? That was my first self-question - I read that 40% of the EU financial services are already gone to Germany. The same for our local banks, in the time of online finance? 

We can wonder about national money itself when Amazon and Alibaba are getting bigger and more powerful than most national states.

Are "bullshit" jobs going to survive? It seems that these jobs are now the majority, just spinning things out, just keeping things going. But if they cease to exist, the unemployment will be abyssal.

Are my savings in the bank safe? Will I get my pension at the level I was supposed to?  

Will the health system be able to provide care for all at a good level of quality? I am getting older and will be the patient when I will no longer be the doctor.

I own my house. Am I going to be the payer of the deficits that the states created with the Covid spending? The French government is starting to vibrate about a kind of "rent" when you own a piece of land.  

If the airline companies are closing, shall I be able to go to the USA to see my granddaughter Flora? 

I have no answer - in fact, I try not to believe the bad answers I am giving myself. Churchill again, "In finance, everything that is agreeable is unsound and everything that is sound is disagreeable."

Just now, better go and have a glass of wine with Rob. Carpe diem. 

 

Home holidays

I will finish this week the book of Colette Beaune - a celebrated historian here in France - "Jeanne d'Arc, vérités et légendes". It's a difficult thing to separate truth and legend, legend is generally much nicer.  

The good thing about reading history is that it shows life is possible without many things we find comfortable and think we can't do without, electricity, health care, cars, airplanes, smart smooth roads, central heating, hot and cold running water, fridges, washing machines, computers, telephones, internet...
We don't need these accessories to feel free.

What happens when a major failure of telephone and internet lasts more than 10 days? It happened in our street in May, somebody had cut the fiber cables. I often think about communication with our children, one in southern France and the other in California. What to do if we were completely cut off for a long time: Should we plan on a meeting every two years in a specific location at a special time? In the last century, the families would meet at All Saint's day at the tombs of their ancestors. You would always meet somebody there you had known for a long time, somebody you might have not seen for a long time, which gave the occasion a lot of tenderness.

Another lesson of history is that one does not have to "buy" all the received ideas of our time, there are alternative behaviors and views. The statistics say that through six persons - you met A who met B who met C...- we know everybody on earth (six also is the number of people in a room which puts those present at risk of catching Covid when one is infected).

Rob counts like that with poets' handshakes: he shook hands with... who shook hands with... who shook hands with... You quickly arrive at Homer, which is where it seems he wants to be. 

 

Lovely music of peace and consolation to share: 

O Isis und Osiris, Sarastro Magic flute second act (the one I heard was sung by Harry Peeters) and Franz Schubert Du bist die Ruh D.776 op.59. Youtube it.
(Sheila: I love this piece of music Marie-Christine - a real old favourite of mine, makes me tingle all over. Saw The Magic Flute in London many moons ago and have loved it ever since. Exceptional! My favourite recording is Otto Klemperer with Gerhard Unger as Sarastro).

Remembrance Day:  

For the first time, the Queen wore a mask in public. Let's hope that she will continue to set an example.

 

Translation notes:

1) Intelligent people, they are 5 to 6%, but I campaign for the dummies.

2) I have done three clever campaigns speaking to people about economy, employment, investments, and I lost. Then, I did twenty-seven funny campaigns telling bawdy jokes and I won them all.

A walk by the Loire. Blois at dusk.

15/11/2020

Thin Air

John Mole, St Albans

UNMASKED

 

Liberated faces

break into a smile

 

although they still wear

that distant look;

 

such freedom

not yet to be trusted,

 

such promise

yet to be fulfilled.

 

A furrowed brow

extends each lifeline

 

searching out

its lost horizon

 

while beyond

the present moment

 

ambiguous future

grins from ear to ear.

15/11/2020

Youlgrave lockdown

Dianne, Youlgrave Derbyshire

 

First week of the second lockdown over. I do hope there will be some sort of return to normality by Christmas  so families can meet up again. I hope the care homes that are working so hard to make it possible to allow the residents to see their loved ones are able to do so. I hope the plan to enable students to return home without being a risk to their families is carried out successfully. I hope the vaccines prove to be effective and give long term immunity. I hope that the families who have to depend on food banks to feed themselves will be in a better position soon. I hope Barbara is making a fast recovery from her fall and will soon be back to enjoying her walks. What a lot of “hopes” but things are looking more positive and hopeful.

 

I don’t seem to have done much this week and wonder where the time went. Time seems be going faster without the usual activities to mark the days. Child care, swimming lessons, shopping, Pilates, drama group, craft club, meeting up with friends, cooking meals for the family – none of these are happening at the moment.

 

Our daughter-in-law has been given a date in December for an operation on her shoulder. She has been in a lot of pain for a few months suffering with a frozen shoulder and the physiotherapy and injections have had no effect. Teaching with one arm in a sling isn’t easy. Because of Covid she was resigned to the fact that the most she would be offered would be another injection. But as long as she and the surgeon can stay virus free until 14th December it will go ahead. 

 

Today, Thursday, was a lovely bright Autumn day after a dreary few days so into the garden for a bit more tidying. Our large ornamental cherry tree had shed most of its leaves in the wind so I cleared some of those and set some bulbs which I was given by a friend in early September. Unfortunately I can’t remember what they are. Hopefully I will have a nice surprise in the Spring. 

 

Then I went for a walk along the river to collect my rescue hen eggs from a friend. The river was in full spate after all the rain and the noise of it rushing along enthusiastically added to my enjoyment. There is a pool which was created many years ago by damming and deepening a short stretch of the river (pictured below). It is a popular spot for locals and visitors in summer but I have never seen anyone in it at this time of year. However, today there was a young woman swimming. Wild swimming has become very popular as swimming pools and fitness centres were closed during the first lockdown and are now closed again. We are also being told that wild swimming is good for improving our immune systems and may also help prevent us from getting dementia. Certainly improving our immune systems would be really useful at the moment. The women I know who do it are fanatical about it and tell me how wonderful it makes them feel. I did enjoy a swim in Hathersage open air pool a few weeks ago but that pool is heated and the river is freezing!

Walking back home I stopped to look at the village notice board. Normally it would be covered with posters advertising events at this time of year – Christmas concerts with Youlgrave Band and the Peak Wind Orchestra, pantomime, Christmas markets and coffee mornings, carol singing around the village, school nativity...

Only a school raffle advertised this year. However one of the prizes is a holiday cottage in Cornwall for the last week in January so I need to buy a few tickets. Ever hopeful!

 

Thank you all for your interesting entries and photographs. Last week I particularly enjoyed John Mole’s poem, Annabel’s lovely photo with the pink clouds and Sheila’s photo of the beautiful shell sculpture.

15/11/2020

From Twickenham

David Horovitch, Twickenham

 

Isn't the defeat of Donald Trump a reason to be cheerful? And the discovery of a vaccine much sooner than anyone had dared to hope? And today I hear of the resignation of Dominic Cummings.

 

It's a grey day, rain beating down on my courtyard, so I probably won't be able to go for a walk with Alex, a weekly fixture in my locked down life, but things are looking up, aren't they? Aren't they? I'm a little surprised at the reactions of some of my friends to these items of news, particularly the vaccine. 'Too soon,' one of them said, 'What about the side-effects? Remember thalidomide? 'She would refuse the vaccine and so would two of my other friends. No-one finds miserabilism more seductive than me - I'm fond of quoting Robert Lowell's 'If there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it is probably an oncoming train' - but thalidomide was a long time ago now and don't scientists and pharmacologists learn from their past mistakes? Maybe I'm too trusting but, if I were offered the vaccine I'd take it like a shot, well it would be a shot I expect, in the arm probably. I googled its side effects after this conversation and found it had been tested on 44.000 people with a 90% success rate and no side effects except, in some cases, hangover-resembling headaches and muscle pains. There's a lot of conspiracy theory stuff around  and I suppose David Ike who denies the existence of the virus and opposes vaccination altogether (as did Bernard Shaw) would suggest that it's a hoax perpetrated by the The Giant Lizards. And the Jews. And the cyclists. Why the cyclists? Why the Jews? On the whole, I'm inclined to trust conventional medicine. In the same' side effects conversation' my friend pointed out that penicillin had been so overused that it had lost or was losing its efficacy. With typical l'esprit d'escalier, it came to me when I woke up this morning that penicillin had only worn itself out after practically eradicating scarlet fever, tuberculosis (at least in The West) and serious diarrhoea and curing most cases of pneumonia and that science will move on to other panaceas, all of which will be provisional and contigent.
Life's like that. It moves and not always in the direction we want. There is no bright sunlit upland where Joe Biden will not have his work cut out dealing with a divided US, where the scientists will find a cure for coronavirus which has a 100% success rate and no side effects, where the absence of Dominic Cummings and the possible return of cabinet government might not bring something unimaginably awful in its wake - but in the meantime there do seem to be reasons to be cheerful. The rain's stopped. I'll get my walk. Things change. "There's nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.'

 

It's been odd working on Leontes and Winter's Tale all on my own. Odd and unsatisfactory. A lot of the joy of being down at Windsor doing the Alan Bennett play was the company of other actors. 

I have never met Michelle Collins who is playing Hermione and will only meet her virtually on the day. It's a wonderful part though and I'm grateful for the chance to read it. His behaviour in the first three acts is as paranoid and solipsistic as Trump's and his reaction to the news from the oracle that his wife is innocent - 'this is mere falsehood' - anticipates - 'Fake news, fake news,' by 400 years. I'm practising my hand gestures. I've asked Margaret to post a link to the Youtube reading here and I hope that some of you will tune in. 

 

With all my very best wishes to you all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTge-zIXRkg&feature=youtu.be

© 2020 Margaret Steward  Proudly created with Wix.com