Cod steaks and Venice

Cooking a birthday meal for my partner yesterday – cod steaks cooked with romano and chilli peppers – I’m enjoying this cooking, shame it’s taken me a few decades to realise it. And there’s another side to it I like. You occupy your mind when cooking – by thinking, by singing, by listening to the radio. I don’t like voices or music when I’m reading or desk-working or writing. But cooking – the radio’s a great companion. I could be revisiting hits from the 1960s. Or listening to the news or (God help me) phone-ins on topical subjects – legalising drugs or street cleaning or whatever exciting topics they dream up. Brexit! No – not Brexit!

So last night – what was on the radio? A Radio 3 feature in the Venetian ghetto – its origins, its role as a magnet for Jews from Spain after they were expelled in 1492, its remarkable musical and literary culture. I’m fascinated by Venice, and by Jewish history, so here was a perfect case of serendipity. And it took me back to walking the Camino, and that sense I had of a remarkable medieval culture, when Moor and Christian and Jew lived in creative tension cheek by jowl.

So there you have it – cod steaks, Venice, the ghetto, Spain. I need life to be a little like that. When the small things come together in ways you don’t expect, and – put simply – make you happy.

The only problem,  for Hazel, she had to listen to me explain as we sat down to eat why a radio programme on the Venetian ghetto was special. She smiled, patiently.

Christmas morning

My daughter Rozi introduced me to a favourite song over our Christmas breakfast of smoked salmon, mushrooms and scrambled egg. ‘A cliche to be cynical at Christmas,’ the song’s called (yes, that’s right), by a band called …. Half Man Half Biscuit.

I ran down to the river at 8.30 this Christmas morning, and said a big Happy Christmas to every one I saw – five people in all, three of them ladies walking dogs – happy smiles and hellos. And two grumpy men.

But not a time to be cynical.

Not just at Christmas but every minute of every day of every year cynicism is an omelette…

That should have been ‘a complete’. Thank you spellcheck, that’s a beauty. Let’s try again.

Not just at Christmas but every minute of every day of every year an omelette is a complete waste of space.

Before we suspect another’s motives, question our own omelettes.

And that is quite enough of that.

I’d intended a serious point for this Christmas blog. But we all ended up laughing instead. 

One problem with writing blogs – you can be too b….. pompous.