Greg's Occasional News & Views

31 December 2017

Hope you all had a splendid Christmas with family, friends and copious quantities of food. We did! As I wrote last time, the run-up to Christmas itself was occupied extremely pleasantly with a birthday outing to Carluccio’s in Stratford and the Imperium double bill. Excellent!

Christmas itself we spent on our own which was no bad thing. Penelope had recently contracted the Winter Lurgy which was doing the rounds and very kindly passed it on to me – coughs, sneezes, runny noses, sore throats and a general feeling of un-wellness pervaded our household on Christmas Day so it’s a good job we weren’t required to be polite or sociable.

The requirement to be polite and sociable came the next day, Boxing Day, when Nick, Lucy and Annabelle came over for the day and overnight. Ms Playchute prepared a marvellous feast and we had great fun playing with various games and other distractions which had magically appeared underneath our Christmas tree.

I guess most of you know by now, Boxing Day is a British invention and was traditionally “the first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box.” I guess it’s typically British to want to have two Christmas days – rather like the Brexiteer’s idea of our exit from the EU – we’ll have our cake and eat it too! Too bad the rest of the EU doesn’t quite see it that way.

Christmas treated us very kindly. My present to myself was a crock for baking my sourdough bread. OMG! It is fabulous. As you know, my sourdough is already “award winning.” However, it does occasionally suffer from collapse if I don’t get the timing absolutely spot on. It’s still very good even though it may not have the full volume it should have. With the crock, though, so far (three loaves) it’s been fantastic. I guess it’s the tipping the dough into the hot crock and covering it immediately with the lid to trap all the steam. It’s as if someone had taken a bicycle pump and inflated the dough. Light, full-bodied with an elegantly chewable crust. I just need to work on getting slightly more “tang” in the taste – any advice or suggestions on how to make it all a bit more sour will be gratefully received.

Penelope very kindly gave me a copy of I, Maybot by John Crace, the Guardian political sketch writer. Crace is the one who coined the phrase “Maybot” to describe Theresa May’s robotic (and idiotic) pronouncements on Brexit and politics generally. Her first robotic phrase was the now famous, “Brexit means Brexit” which she repeated whenever anyone asked if the government had any idea of what they hoped to gain from leaving the EU. Then, during the farcical general election campaign, the phrase was “strong and stable” which her government was anything but.

As you might imagine, the book is very funny yet enormously sad at the same time – sad because it’s difficult to imagine how on earth we ever reached this point. Perfect bathroom reading.

Stop Press: John Crace has an article in this weekend’s Guardian looking back at 12 months of Theresa May’s incompetence as Prime Minister. As always, he hits the nail on the head:

Towards the end of January, Theresa spells out her vision for Brexit in her Lancaster House speech. Britain will be leaving the single market and the customs union, though very much hoping that the EU will give us all the benefits of both, without either having to pay a penny or being obliged to abide by any of its regulations.

Yep, we can have our cake and eat it too!

On Thursday we traipsed across to Northampton with Annabelle for our postponed expedition to the Jungle Book at the Derngate Theatre. You will remember that we had been booked to go on the Sunday before Christmas but the heavy snow had prompted the theatre to cancel the performance. As you can imagine, re-booking was somewhat of a challenge as the production was already very popular. So, when we did eventually re-book the only seats available were split – two at one end of the front row and one at the opposite end.

I had somehow imagined that we would get to the theatre and kindly ask everyone if they would mind moving one seat to the left so that Penny, Bubble and I could all sit together. I approached the middle-aged man and woman sitting next to Penny and Bubble and began to ask whether they would mind moving. Before I had finished the chap announced emphatically, “We’re not moving anywhere!” Well, there’s the spirit of Christmas, I thought to myself. He was refusing to even listen to the suggestion that he shuffle one seat to the left which would, in fact, have moved him closer to the centre of the stage. It mattered not, of course, and the performance was excellent and we all had a grand time, even if I did quietly hope that he would have a flat tyre on the way home.

And so, 2017 grinds to an end. Things must get better next year, mustn’t they?

Happy New Year to you all.

Love to you all,


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