Wednesday, 8 September 2010

A Nice Cup of Tea

7/9/10 Afternoon.

Feeling very down after my trip to the clinic I was happy to go to the Ealing vicarage for the first tea party of the autumn, a cup of tea and a nice sit down, the restorative which never fails an English person.

I took along my fruit cake. I had followed a quick recipe which involved boiling. It seemed a bit dry so I made holes with a skewer, threw a large amount of sherry and brandy over it and set it on fire, that works wonders on most food.

When I arrived Fr. Bill was putting out the biscuits, chocolate side down for some reason. He didn’t think many people would turn up due to the great tube strike which began last night. My Japanese friend wouldn’t be there as, for some reason that she has never explained, she has just started training to become an electrician.

Beyond the French windows in the sitting room, his garden still looked like an hay field. The room contained one old lady, aged ninety three, in a neck-brace.

“You are much too early,” she told me, and I felt like saying, “shut up you silly old cow.”

Instead I joined Bill in the kitchen. He was fretting about God and science. “I am a great reader of the New Scientist,” he said, pointing to the latest issue on the kitchen table, next to the Guardian and his home made plum jam.

“Stephen Hawking is completely wrong,” he said, “science is as subjective as anything else, and religion is not subject to empirical science, it’s not Boyle’s Law, it’s subjective and experiential. "He’s right when he says we’ve got multi- universes, ten to the power of five hundred out there, but the whole thing is so incredible, so large,” I missed the end of this as he carried the tea tray in to the old lady.

“Isn’t it odd the way the sun goes in then comes out again?” she said which seemed to sum up the conversation really. No one knows much of anything or not enough for any conclusions.

“I spend £3.40 every month for that magazine,” said Bill, undaunted, “to keep my parishioners abreast of science. And that is the only time this vicar will mention breasts, I can assure you.”

We like a bit of music hall at St. Martin’s.

Marjorie, a mere ninety years old arrived in her own car. I usually find her interesting but this afternoon she seemed a bit odd. There is a church Ball coming up in November and on the form where it asked if there were any dietary preferences, she had stated that she didn’t want any offal.

“Are we likely to have offal at the ball?” said Bill, highly amused. She said she had recently been to a dinner where they food had been bad, in fact, they had been “eating the insides of human beings.” She insisted on this.

The room gradually became crammed with large tea quaffing people, many of them happily stuffing in my cake, apart from Marjorie, who said she had just started a new diet. The unhappy German arrived with his ghastly wife and they immediately began quarrelling as she was one of those suspect English people who prefer coffee and he had to go into the kitchen to get it.

After that chore he settled down to my cake and I felt a bit annoyed seeing him take a very large slice, perhaps because this very day marked seventy years since the start of the London Blitz. Marjorie, who married a Pole during the war, was a bit off with him too.

She told me that two of her daughters had died of cancer, one ovarian the other breast. Oh dear, there seemed to be no end to it, almost everyone has terrible grief somewhere in their lives. But as usual she did lift my spirits a bit; “They could do very little in those days,” she said, “not like now when they are trying out so many new things.”

Then she told me about her grandson, Jean Michel Villot. Apparently his mother died, his father refused to see him, and he lost his job all at about the same time. His response was to go off on an expedition to the Arctic with the dashing Bruce Fogel. He climbed a wall of ice 30 ft high. While he was doing this he heard a voice saying, “Take the rope, Jean.”

“I asked if it was the voice of God,” Marjorie said, “but he said, no, it was the camera man, hanging upside down by his feet.”

Although he had never been on skis before, he skied for two days and nights, without food, to reach his destination.

That is the kind of story I need, and the kind of adventure I need too. I’ve just read in “Paws,” the Battersea Dogs magazine, about a dog sledging excursion in north Norway to raise money for the dogs’ home. I wouldn’t mind doing that, although the person writing her account fell off her slay at one point and had to run to catch it as the darn dogs don’t stop. Wonder just how fast I can still run these days?

On the way home I stopped off in Morrison’s supermarket and spotted my first mince pie of the season, or rather the non-season, or perhaps this is now the “peri-Xmas period?” In the doorway there was a doleful looking Asian youth with a bucket, collecting for the flood victims in Pakistan. I gave him some money but he didn’t smile or make eye contact and I couldn’t help wondering if the money would get to the desperate people. I was too embarrassed to check if there was a charity number displayed anywhere. I decided to take it on trust - I want to help, but am I also trying to bribe a cruel God?

1 comment:

  1. Oh Jane -I confess, I am one of those suspect people who not only prefers coffee, I never drink indian tea or any tea with milk, which is as far as I am concerned a product of the devil's bottom!
    Has this rendered me beyond your personal pale?