Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Washing windows in the rain! Food matters. And the continued shortage of HGV drivers.

Weather maps show swathes of rain moving across the country. Nonetheless, I managed to run along the Donkey Line this morning before the rain arrived. If I had snoozed my alarm one more time I might have got soaked. Just after I returned home I saw that the window cleaners had arrived and were busy cleaning my windows. So I picked up my purse and went to the front door so that I could pay them before they disappeared. I just hate letting bills mount up. That was when I discovered it was pouring with rain, raining so hard that I needed my raincoat to go out to the van and hand over the money. 

Part of me questioned the advisability of washing the windows in the rain but I suppose they were getting rid of old grime prior to the rain adding new grime. I write that assuming that our rain is none too clean these days. Global warming brings global filth!

I’m still hoping we might get a break in the rain later to go for a walk. We shall see. 

In the meantime, I’ve been reading a book by the American novelist Elizabeth Strout. “My Name is Lucy Barton” is about family relationships, particularly mothers and daughters, and about growing up in small town America back in the 1960s. At one point the eponymous Lucy Barton, describes wanting to cook for her first husband, who came from a more sophisticated family than hers. 

“I married William when I was twenty years old. I wanted to cook for him. I bought a magazine that had fancy recipes, and I gathered the ingredients. William passed through the kitchen one evening and looked at what was in the frying pan on the stove, then he came through the kitchen again. “Button,” he said, “what’s this?” I said it was garlic. I said the recipe called for a clove of garlic to be sautéed in olive oil. With gentleness he explained that this was a bulb of garlic, and that it needed to be peeled and opened into the cloves. I can picture the unpeeled big bulb of garlic now - so clearly - sitting in the middle of the olive oil in the frying pan.”

Poor Lucy Barton! Small town America back then was apparently no more sophisticated than small town England. A friend tells the story of her mother serving long grain rice - a new kind of rice back then for those of us in the NW of England - with nothing to accompany it. The family, prepared to try anything and loyal to the cook, ate it up but agreed it was overrated. And I remember as a student going with a friend to an Indian shop in Leeds to buy the necessary spices to make a curry. How sophisticated we believed ourselves to be! Unfortunately we had no way of identifying the spices once we got them home. So instead of specific amounts of each, we just threw the lot into the mix and hoped for the best. It turned out fine but was almost certainly not what the recipe intended or indeed recognisable as any specific curry dish. We did serve it with long grain rice though.

Mind you, I’m still finding recipes that call for ingredients we simply don’t have in our local supermarkets. Perhaps we’re still not quite as sophisticated as we like to think.

Talking of food, here’s an extract from a letter to the Guardian newspaper, on the subject of school meals:

“I have received an email from my daughter’s primary school advising us that Lancashire county council has had to offer a reduced school dinners menu due to supply chain issues. We are required to pick from a menu basically consisting of soup and a sandwich or a baked potato. Once again, the most vulnerable in society will suffer as a result of this government’s abject failure to plan for the after-effects of Brexit. For many children who are in receipt of free school meals, it is the only hot, nutritious meal they receive in a day.

I have no doubt that House of Commons restaurants will be offering a wider menu than soup and a sandwich or a baked potato.

Andrew Kerin

Burnley, Lancashire”

Meanwhile, there is some debate as to whether it’s 27 or 127 European drivers who have applied to drive lorries in the UK. Either way, it doesn’t sound like enough. 

“What that shows is the global shortage,” said Mr Johnson. 

Hmm! Maybe it shows they don’t want to drive here.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

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