Everyone round our way (by which I mean in the WhatsApp groups I belong to) seems preoccupied with food at the moment. Our excellent local Indian takeaway is doing its best to keep going, and keep us going, so on Friday night we ordered a meal – only slightly marred by a thick haze of sanitiser – and ate like kings. Unlike our previous cat, Captain Oates is not that keen on curry, as you can see, but he wouldn’t have got some anyway. We must have cut down on food waste in our house by about 50%. We don’t squander a single crumb, and leftovers make repeat appearances in increasingly unconvincing guises until they have gone.
That’s one good thing.
It reminds me of something I came across while researching Bluestockings, in Pauline Adams’s wonderful history of Somerville College, Oxford. She quotes a ‘Bursar’s Song’ written in 1933, all about making the most out of what you’ve got – however unpromising.
I produce from my larder (and what could be harder?)
New dishes in endless variety.
It provides an incentive to genuine inventive,
I claim it without impropriety.
If at breakfast there’s fish and you don’t like the dish
And in fact you refuse to partake of it,
Next day I may choose to produce it in stews,
Or rissoles or Scotch eggs I may make of it.
I never despair tho’ you turn from jugged hare;
It can soon undergo metamorphosis,
It’s not recognised when it’s subtly disguised,
And as curry with rice quite amorphous is.
If you sneer at rice kernels they change their externals;
As soup they’re an absolute winner:
If it comes to the worst they may well be dispersed,
As savoury scallops at dinner.
Another good thing: since last week I’ve learned chiff-chaff, chaffinch and curlew. I’m hoping they’ll come in useful soon.
Workwise, I’ve drafted another chapter of my brief biography of Josephine Butler. I’m on a roll with that (mmmm. Bacon roll. On sourdough with English mustard and black pepper, please). I added a narration to the PowerPoint presentation I use(d) for talks on Ladies Can’t Climb Ladders. Now I just have to think of a way to make it into a downloadable video. If I can get it to work, I’ll record a series – called ‘Behind the Scenes of History,’ perhaps – revealing the AMAZING things so-called ‘ordinary’ women have been doing throughout history to change their world and ours. Would anyone be interested?
Meanwhile, we’re doing our best to preserve in ourselves what’s best about living in a global and local community. That includes trying to keep cheerful. We all have different and personal reasons to know how serious a situation this is, but the dark isn’t so frightening if you know there are lights shining somewhere, steady and bright; the more the better. You might not always be able to see them, but they’re there. Keep your little flame burning.
See you next week.