DAY 30: Easter Sunday


Politics, history, rum and chocolate

I woke with a sore heel and aching legs, probably from my gardening exploits but quite how that translated physiologically to those limbs I do not know. I limp downstairs to find a note saying the Easter Bunny may have visited my front garden. No evidence that I can see, thus far.

I started off the dough for some bread then breakfasted with the Marr Show (an unfortunate title when your think about it.) We had Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust providing same and considered thoughts about how we got to the current pretty pass with the coronavirus. Have the government really been listening to the likes of him, and yet still made a pig’s ear of the whole affair? Then Lisa Nandy made her first appearance as Shadow Foreign Secretary, seeming sincere and on top of her brief but clearly under instruction not to go for the government. Maybe we will see that happen when parliament returns. 

But then we had to put up with Ashok Sharma. the Business Secretary, standing in front of carefully erected screens saying Business is Great (Britain) – neither appropriate nor very sensitive (nor even accurate if the truth  be told) when he was being asked about deaths and Personal Protective Equipment. But not to worry, he mouthed all the platitudes he could pull out of the cliche bag all Cabinet ministers are supplied with these days. Marr did least interrupt him to try and pull some facts and admissions from him, but the smarmy git carried on regardless. I would not trust him to direct me to the nearest corner.

I stayed on BBC1, sipping cold coffee, to watch a rather delightful little programme with Gareth Malone and Karin Gibson telling Britain’s Easter Story. A bit of a romp through time and England – Bristol, Glastonbury, Leeds, London and Wells blending Pascal myth and music with nice little nods to inclusivity. But we started with the Diet of Whitby – not (just) the fish and chips but the tumultuous politico-ecclesiastical debate which aligned Britain with Roman rather than Celtic Christianity. Year’s ago I enjoyed Melvyn Bragg’s ’Credo’ which culminates with the crucial theological (and political) decisions taken at Whitby – long before Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’  immortalised the ruined abbey.

I wandered outside with desultory thoughts of a bit more planting since the weather was fine again. A neighbour hailed me over the fence. He is helping to clear the ground for another neighbour who is unwell, and needs some heavy stones to hold down the membrane he plans to lay. I have plenty.  In return he asks me to supply a glass which is returned, rubber gloves on hands, filled to the brim with spiced rum and coke. Now gin and dry martini is my Christmas morning choice of drink, but I have usually made do with a wine at lunchtime for Easter. I had no idea of the amnesiac effect of rum on a near empty stomach. I found myself wondering what I was supposed to be doing when I made it to greenhouse, so I made my way inside and pretended to pay attention to something about the natural world on TV.

Emerging later to do some planting and see to the chickens, I am again engaged in conversation with the neighbours and, purely to be sociable  you understand, feel obliged to partake of an afternoon run and coke. Some how I managed to plant a shrub, re pot some courgettes and cucumbers, by which time all  was capable of was watering the garden.

Inside the natural world was still displaying its wonders on the TV, so I began preparing a rack of lamb to be eaten with Aardman Animation’s Chicken Run homage to wartime Prisoner of War capers. 

But before that this time I read to my grandsons by phone rather than Skype. They are still living in a tent in their garden and are full off beans, making things, and engaging with the book by developing their own theories about the plot and its characters. The Master is a hit so far, though I do have to bowdlerise some of it’s more dated phrasing…

Much chocolate was also taken today, but only one of the miniature chocolate eggs clandestinely deposited by my daughter in my front garden came to light – and then only when I received a clue. Meanwhile another neighbour sends me a photo of strange symbols made with plants and grasses  which has appeared on the path outside his front door. Did I know anything about it? I do not, but we agree that it is weird if not worrying, and harks back to earlier plague times.

Later I watched a sad little film called The Pier about an Irish emigrant tricked into returning from America to West Cork where his irascible old father is dying but wants his son to help collect debts before he dies. The old man demands a Druid funeral and to be cremated, giving rise to the best line in the film. When she learns that the deed has been done, a pious neighbour utters the wondrous words: “Oh Jesus, you’ve had him roasted like a Protestant!” (Catholics used to look askance at cremations.)

The lasted episode of The Nest had more twists andirons than an umbilical chord, so there is still plenty to unravel in the final episode.

Too much TV ? Well maybe, but it is Easter and after all that rum perhaps it is all I am good for. The wind get up after midnight, and the temperature is certainly dropping as I go up to bed.

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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