I am very much enjoying my birthday weekend. It has been more sedentary than I imagined as I had a procedure on my leg on Friday, and due to the site of the wound, the chances of it breaking open and becoming infected are high if I move around too much. That gave me the perfect excuse to lie on the sofa (leg raised) and watch Local Hero yesterday afternoon. What a lovely film it is.
Plans were so fluid in the morning as to be next to non-existent. We are still limited to meeting outside in groups no larger than six, and after a very dry April, scattered showers were forecast. However, the skies were blue, and on Friday night I had been talking to Celia on the ‘phone. We thought elevenses would work. So I bought croissants, some vegan, and some with butter, then pains au chocolat (butter), orange juice and clementine juice. Cynthia arrived with a bottle of champagne and glasses. So organised. Charlie had gone to Notting Hill to spend the day with his friend Chris watching cricket, so Celia was unaccompanied. Michèle met me at one gate, and B&J arrived at another. It was very jolly and as well as cards I was given perfect presents, including a new doormat with silhouettes of cats on it. It’s very handsome. I am not sure what it says about my stage of life that I can spend so much time admiring my door mat, but there it is. Books, a picture, fudge which I ate watching the film, some hand cream Celia and I had found and tried out a few weeks ago, and that most necessary accessory for summer, a wine cooling sleeve.
Naturally Hartley joined us. J has started giving him treats and has made him a toy. He stayed close to her, rolling over and offering her his tummy. That cat just thrives on love and affection.
That might have been it, but the forecast was showing less chance of rain for the evening, so we decided on a takeaway from the Vietnamese restaurant, to be eaten in Celia’s garden. Mid afternoon I had an invitation from Reinhild and Mark to join them in their garden for drinks and nibbles. I had asked if they wanted to join our al fresco dinner, Michèle and Cynthia having other engagements, but Reinhild was chilled having met friends for lunch outside the café in Russell Square, so they politely declined.
It wasn’t a late evening, and I enjoyed some time at home with MasterB and let him outside for a while before bedtime.
Today started with blue skies and has been much nicer than forecast, but I have mainly stayed insiders, leg elevated, catching up with bits and pieces. I did make some soup, and washed some flower pots, one of MasterB’s litter trays, the compost bin. The soup is my new discovery. Last week Celia gave me a huge sweetheart cabbage and some celery which were surplus to her requirements. I looked online for celery and cabbage soup and found this one. It didn’t take much skill to adapt it to a vegan recipe. I added some ground ginger and cannellini beans to the soup mixture which worked well. The cabbage, blanched, then sautéed with chilli flakes and black pepper, turns it into a feast. It looked good, it tasted good. So good I have made it twice since. Result. I still have some of the cabbage, so I am going to try something I read about a while ago, using ribbons of it in place of tagliatelle. Watch this space.
Sleaze in government here has become almost routine. We are so habituated to Johnson’s lies and deceit that they barely register with large sections of the population. It’s not so long since politicians who have been so dishonest would have been forced to resign and see their careers disappear. Not so Johnson. Watching him refusing to answer a simple question about who paid the bills initially for the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat was gobsmacking. He claims the public isn’t interested. I was pleased on Gogglebox when the reviewers all were interested. What Johnson and Symonds have spent so much money on has become a subject of general conversation and speculation. One member of a Gogglebox family, trying to think what luxuries they might have installed, ran out of steam quite quickly, ending her list rather tamely with ‘an extractor fan’. The truth is, few of us can imagine why or how anyone could spend five figures refurbishing a flat that was perfectly adequate, indeed already luxurious by the standards of many. By yesterday Johnson seemed to be prepared to throw Symonds under a bus, claiming he loved John Lewis, (the favourite shop of the middle classes but reportedly not good enough for this refurb) implying his fiancée was less enamoured. This might help those of you who have no idea what I am on about. Now stories are coming out about how freely Johnson spends money, how it runs through his hands like water down a plughole. It somehow doesn’t come as a surprise, and it doesn’t stop him supporting cuts to services for and foreign aid for people who could make the money spent on the redfurb go a lot further and achieve a lot more good. But hey, when did Johnson ever care about anyone but himself?
The news from India continues to shock and sadden. The world’s response does not seem to recognise that if we don’t all do what we can to alleviate the situation we are all at risk. New variants may emerge which may be resistant to the existing vaccines. It’s no good thinking smugly that in our own countries the vaccine rollout is successful and that the number of deaths from Covid 19 has fallen, until the whole world is safe, none of us is safe.
On a lighter note, I am reading Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell and it is wonderful. I am also rereading The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss, and when I get my hands on her latest novel, Summerwater, it will be a happy day.
But now I need to get myself organised to go round to Octavia’s for another birthday meal in good company.
Stay safe. Keep well.