In yesterday’s Guardian I found an article about porridge. I took a look at it because my Phil likes the occasional bowl of porridge for breakfast. It appears that as well as being very good for you – slow release of energy and keeps your bad cholesterol at bay – porridge has become popular among the rich and famous, among whom are Nicole Kidman and David Cameron. Mind you, I’m pretty sure my Phil won’t appreciate having much in common with Mr Cameron.
There are even porridge making competitions such as the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship, which takes place every October in Carrbridge, Inverness-shire. What a wonderful notion! Its name comes from "spurtle", a traditional Scottish stirring stick shaped like half an elongated cricket bail. Now, me, I just use a wooden spoon and my porridge tastes fine.
The main content of the Guardian article was how to make the perfect porridge. This includes such things as toasting the oats to give it a "nutty flavour", leaving the oats to soak overnight, steaming the porridge, cooking it in a bain-marie and all sorts of other complicated stuff about the fineness or otherwise of the oats used. The executive chef at the Balmoral, according to the Guardian, claims that "one of the most important things is once the porridge is cooked, to turn off the hob, put a lid on it, and just let it sit there for 10-15 minutes".
Now, this all seems unnecessarily complicated for a breakfast activity, even for a retired ladylike myself with plenty of time to spend seeking perfection. Quaker Oats, who must know a bit about porridge as they have been producing porridge oats for ages and ages, produce a perfectly nice quick-cook porridge which takes about three minutes to produce. Why make life difficult?
One thing I did like in the article was the mention of a superstition concerning which way you stir your porridge. It must be clockwise as ''stirring anti-clockwise invokes the Devil." Goodness me! Life can be hard enough at times without stirring the Devil into your breakfast.
Away from the breakfast table, the difficulty of some people’s lives continues. There’s that very earnest-looking Mr Murdoch trying to convince us all that he had no idea than phone hacking was endemic at the News of the World. The £750,000 paid out to keep a certain person quiet? He knew nothing about that. Well, all I can say is that if he could approve a payment of that amount of money without batting an eyelid and asking what it was for, he really must have more money than sense. Maybe he treats the whole of life as a monopoly game.
We, on the other hand, have just been having a cultural time. On Wednesday, having spent the afternoon watching George Clooney get himself nominated as the Democratic candidate for the presidency of the USA in the film “The Ides of March” – well worth seeing, by the way – we followed it up with an evening of classical music.
We met some friends and went to the Bridgewater Hall in central Manchester, the rather fine modern building looking strangely eerie in the evening gloom. There we heard the Halle Orchestra play some Vaughan Williams, a bit of Dvorak and some rousing Elgar to finish off with, the latter conducted very enthusiastically by Sir Mark Elder.
At various points of the evening, however, my attention was distracted by the shoes of one of the lady violinists. She wore a pair of extremely shiny black patent shoes with a platform at least one inch thick and needle sharp stiletto heels that must have been six inches high. How she walked onto the stage, I cannot imagine. It’s a very good job she didn’t have to play standing up; she would have been in serious danger of wobbling off to one side and breaking an ankle.
Don’t get me wrong, I like an elegant pair of shoes as much as anyone and these were certainly very elegant, at least when she was sitting down. I can’t vouch for the elegance of the walking style they must have induced. However, as I said about porridge making, why make life difficult?