I am very jam ready this year. I have all the kit. I will be off work. Nothing can stop me. Have the plums failed? Yes, yes, they have. Could be a bumper year for apple jelly yet.
This is the first time this has ever happened to me. I went to a cycle week event at the weekend and one of the marshals came up to me and stuck out his hand and said, “Hi, I read your blog.” The thrill. The next thing he said was, “That guy at work who thinks you look sixty is completely crazy.” That was the right thing to say.
The cycle ride was lovely too. Glorious weather. Loads of small children out on the roads. A feeling of slight smugness. One man had chosen to run beside his four year old. He wasn’t really dressed for it and I don’t think he fully expected the four year old to stay the course but children are full of surprises. And free pancakes at the end.
I couldn’t persuade Mr. Waffle and the boys to come. Too busy at home.
A friend invited me to a book reading and dinner after work a couple of weeks ago and very pleasant and entertaining it was too. It reminded me though of all the times we lost during Covid and how very grateful I am to have them back.
Michael (my resident news analyst and pessimist) tells me that energy rationing is next but at least we’ll be able to see each other. However, I would not describe myself as delighted by what this full page ad that appeared in the paper portends.
I remember commenting to a Northern Protestant friend that although the devil has the best tunes (he definitely does, Protestant hymns are so much better that we have taken some, in a spirit of ecumenicism, I assume – indeed, when the Church of Ireland bishops came out and said that Covid was particularly difficult for their services because they hadn’t been able to sing and singing was such an intrinsic part of their worship, it was hard to argue), they are really missing out on the Marian hymns. She was puzzled but intrigued.
I explained to her that May is the month of our Lady. When I was in primary school we had May altars. I used to make little ones at home with flowers from the garden. I also remember picking cherry blossoms for my Nana who came to visit regularly so I may have slightly conflated the delight at her visit with the general pleasure of picking flowers for display.
In primary school each year on a glorious May day we would parade around the school yard with a statue of Mary on a plinth, balanced precariously on the shoulders of sixth class girls, saying prayers and singing hymns led by the principal – who was a nun – with a loudhailer. I wouldn’t say I loved it – and sadly, I never got to carry around the statue which was a very coveted role – but I liked it better than lessons and the flowers and the hymns were always nice.
I am reminded of this because the weather is beautiful this weekend (top tip for any tourists out there, the nicest weather in Ireland is always in May/early June) and the Botanic Gardens and the Phoenix Park, both of which I graced with my presence (making poor old Michael come with me both times, Daniel was at matches, fortunately for him) were delightful. And at mass this morning the final hymn was Bring Flowers of the Fairest which filled me with nostalgic joy.
We now have 4 Ukrainian families living on our road. Herself met young Master Next Door in the course of her gallivanting and he tells her that they too have taken in what he rather sweetly called “Ukrainian guests”. Apparently they all gather gloomily in the converted shed in one of the houses up the road and listen to the news from Ukraine. It’s extremely grim. I am slightly in awe of my neighbours who spearheaded this. As well as putting up their own refugees, they are gathering up old laptops, ware, cutlery and pots and pans for Ukrainian families as well as trying to source more permanent accommodation and schools and everything else. Mr. Waffle dropped off our old bikes to a man in town who is reconditioning them for Ukrainian refugees. It is nice to feel that you are doing something, however small, but it’s only a drop in the ocean.
I had lunch with a former colleague of mine during the week. “Look at this,” said she and hauled out a letter informing her that she is going to be made a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur. I was suitably impressed. I also had lunch with an old friend who has decided to abandon retirement to head up an august (though small) body. I feel the quality of my lunch dates at the moment is high.