Tuesday, 18 April 2017

What happens when I go out to lunch!

Today I went out to lunch with a friend. Very nice it was too. We went to a tapas place in central Manchester: three tapas for £15. Of course, I was difficult and wanted the goat's cheese and spinach croquetas, one of the day's chef's special, not included in the 3 for £15 deal. I decided to go ahead anyway. Live life to the full, say I, even if it costs you a little more! But then our delightful Venezuelan waitress got all excited and said that as we were now ordering 5 tapas off the ordinary list (2 for me and 3 for my friend) we qualified for the 5 for £25 deal. Together with my "special" for £5, the end result, pricewise, was the same. If only all in life could be resolved so simply!

Of course, my glass of wine cost me rather more than it would have done in Spain but you can't win all the battles. And my friend and I had a good meal for just under £20 each and a good chinwag into the bargain.

On the tram on the way home I checked my email and other media stuff and what did I find? During my absence, that devious Theresa May has decided to call a general election! When I got home, Phil was listening to the news on the radio. There was the lady herself, sounding off about how the country could choose, not between political parties, apparently, but between a strong government (?) led by her or a wishy-washy government led by Jeremy Corbyn, backed up by other dribs and drabs of wishy-washy parties.

When did our elections become so personal? This is supposed to be a democratic battle between the ideologies of different parties, not a reality TV style personality contest. A person could get annoyed and want to escape into other things.

So here is a story I came across about a woman who bought a box of books for £14. The story did not say why she chose to buy a box of books. She wasn't expecting to find anything unusual in it. It turned out to contain an English first edition of Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment", published in London in 1886.

I wonder if it had a special version of that old book smell that I have recently heard described as being as appealing as the smell of chocolate.

The lady who found it sold it for £13,500. That's one very expensive book. The seller said she had “secretly hoped for £10,000”, but thought she was being optimistic. “I was over the moon yesterday, I’m having some building work done, so the money will be very helpful, but I might squeeze in a holiday as well,” she said.

That was £14 well invested!

And then there are pilgrimages. We hear a lot about pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain: the Camino de Santiago. Well, it seems that pilgrimages in the UK are coming back into fashion as well, probably spurred on by the success of the Camino.

Anyone who knows anything about Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales knows that there used to be regular pilgrimages in England centuries ago. Henry VIII and his mate Thomas Cromwell put an end to that tradition in 1538 when pilgrimages were banned as part of the moves against the church. "Holy" relics could no longer be worshipped and shrines visited by pilgrims were destroyed.

The pilgrimage business took off in Spain over the last thirty years or so. In 1984, 423 pilgrims completed the final stretch of the Camino de Santiago; by 2006, the figure was 100,377, and last year it exceeded 278,000, 6,000 of them from the UK. Is this down to social media and films and tv programmes featuring the Camino? Whatever the reason, pilgrimages are now part of the tourist industry.

Understandably and unsurprisingly British companies want a share. And now pilgrimages are back in business in the UK. The British Pilgrimage Trust was founded in 2014 and this year have doubled the number of public pilgrimages they offer.

Just as well really. We might end up thrown back totally on our own resources by Brexit, including the creation of our own Caminos!

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