Day 111

Level 2 Chi Kung. Microcosmic orbit.

A week or so ago I phoned our elderly neighbours from down the road, as I had heard that Julian was ill in hospital and I wanted to check if Margaret, his wife, needed anything. To my surprise Julian answered the phone and announced that he was out of hospital and greatly improved but that Margaret was very ground down by hospital visiting and feeling rather low. He put Margaret on the phone and we made a date for her to come down for coffee and cake. On impulse, I invited three other people: another neighbour I know Margaret is fond of, a woman from my print-making course, and a friend who I have been trying to catch up with for weeks. Then of course I kind of regretted it when I developed a streaming cold, but it seemed bad to cancel. Anyway, it was successful in that everyone seemed to enjoy themselves (those that came anyway – the poor friend with whom I have been trying to have a catch-up had to drop out on account of being trapped at home with a projectile-vomiting 7 year old) but I felt too woolly-headed to participate much in the conversation (unusual for an extreme extrovert like me). Everyone was full of praise for the ginger crunch and elderflower cake though, and especially for Nick’s apple pate (in the French sense of pate de fruit – English people would probably call it fruit cheese) made from our own apples. I didn’t get feedback on the banana cardamom bread (which had had a rather chequered career as it was 5 minutes off being cooked when I had to rush out the door to pick up Katie yesterday and ended up being left in the turned-off oven) as people mostly took slices home with them, unable to fit another bite and muttering that, next time, they’ll skip breakfast! I sent a box of ginger crunch home for Julian, and got this lovely message back:

‘Dear Jessamine,
Thank you very much for your excellent and interesting home-made confection. It is delicious and it is a kind thought that I warmly appreciate.’

I do love old-fashioned manners – particularly when they sound like they might have come from one of the more charming Wodehouse characters.

In the evening we went to the NT Live showing of Stephen Fry live at the Royal Festival Hall. Very funny, very gossipy, definitely made me want to download the new book. Fry talked very movingly about Oscar Wilde and what reading first his works, and then various biographies had meant to him growing up as a gay teenager in deepest Norfolk. The highlight however, was a wonderful story about Prince Charles coming for afternoon tea on New Year’s Day, when Stephen had a houseful of guests including Hugh and Jo Laurie, Rowan Atkinson and John Canter. Oh to be a fly on that drawing room wall…

On the way to the show, I realised that, what with rushing about tidying the house and entertaining the guests, I had had nothing to eat all day except a small piece of cake. We didn’t have time to eat dinner before the show but we did pop in to the Rivington so that I could have one of their famous Scotch eggs. Well, what a revelation: a soft-yolked egg in a subtly-spiced coating of yummy pork, served with really good tartare sauce and a big green salad. So good!

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