Sunday, 25 December 2016

The Metaphorical Pond

Some years are like that, aren't they? You think you've got the whole pond to swim in, and then overnight everything changes, and all of a sudden nobody's going swimming today. These ducks are not old enough to have seen this before: they're genuinely pissed off and confused. Hey, what happened to the water?

Young people, too, probably think this is the WORST. YEAR. EVER. I don't blame them, but they're wrong. I'm old enough to remember the Great Plague of London of 1665 (actually, I'm not, but it feels like it this morning – I never learn, I don't even like the sound of "mulled wine"), which was swiftly followed by the Great Fire of London in 1666 (and the Great Insurance Claim Backlog of 1667). Now those were bad years. Getting older is all about perspective, getting things in proportion, remembering to breathe.

This time of year is about many things, but for those of us who agree that the year ends around now, and especially for those of us in northern latitudes where daylight has just shrunk to its minimum, and is just starting to expand again (please remember to breathe, planet Earth!), it's a time for reflecting on the year that is passing into history and anticipating the year that is about to start.

So, being a bit of a contrarian, that's exactly what I won't do. I did have some seasonal thoughts a few years ago (A Day Like Any Other Day) which still seem appropriate, so I'll simply refer you there. As for the rest of it, my best advice is: remember to breathe. And go easy on the seasonal refreshments; remember you're not as young as you once were.


Alan G said...

Too late! I've already over-indulged on champagne and mince pies, and it isn't 1 o'clock yet. I will absorb your sage advice and hope to do better next year. In the meantime, please continue to keep your excellent blog going and don't be too sensible yourself.

Mike C. said...

Thanks, Alan, what could be more pleasing than to have one's blog read on Christmas Day? Best wishes for 2017!

Same to anyone else reading this -- I've got a "three-bird ballotine" to cook (turkey, pheasant, and chicken) or what my daughter insists on calling a "turphucken"...


Zouk Delors said...

Not above killing birds(or having them killed) at Xmas, then, Mike? From previous posts, I assume you'd balk at the ortolan in this dish:

"In his 1807 Almanach des Gourmands, gastronomist Grimod de La Reynière presents his rôti sans pareil ("roast without equal")—a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an ortolan bunting and a garden warbler—although he states that, since similar roasts were produced by ancient Romans, the rôti sans pareil was not entirely novel. The final bird is very small but large enough to just hold an olive; it also suggests that, unlike modern multi-bird roasts, there was no stuffing or other packing placed in between the birds. This is referenced by Vi Hart being called a buskeygooseantenduckneatealcockridgeerwingailusharktinbler."

I assume you're on top of the new series of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, which kicked off this week with a Christmas special featuring a running riff on "turkeys vote for Christmas", somehow evoking the Brexit referendum without once explicitly mentioning it.

Mike C. said...


Having spent one pre-Xmas week stretching the necks of turkeys at a certain farm, I have no problem with the killing, though I admit it did nearly put me off the eating... For about 24 hours.

I think the golden rule is "never eat any bird small enough to put inside a quail"...