Monthly Archives: December 2015


Please, darling, no more diets…
I’ve watched you jogging lanes and pounding treadmills.
I’ve even shed two kilos of my own.
But enough. What are love-handles
Between friends?

                                       Blake Morrison (British poet and author, b. 1950)

I’m writing this on Christmas Eve, to publish on Boxing Day, so there can be no mystery about why I chose the quotation! Today I have been making bread and cranberry sauce, and making a fish pie, and writing a detailed timeline for the big Christmas meal, which this year we shall enjoy in the evening, by candlelight. Lunch will be a groaning cold board with hot new potatoes…so will there be any room for turkey at 8.30? Of course! There has to be.

Although I dislike greed (I detest the way people shovel food on to their plates at a buffet, for example) I have never been one for miserliness either. Catering for family and friends I have one important rule: if in doubt, provide more. My days of enjoying the preparation of food are long gone: my ex-husband and I gave many great parties over the course of 35 years and I always did everything myself, sometimes utterly exhausting myself in the process.  So now I am rather tired of it – and instead of being in the kitchen, I’d much rather be reading a book. BUT serving a good meal to people you love is such an important, caring act – and therefore it must be done.

What’s more, somehow the idea of a sitting down to a wonderful feast when it is dark and wintry outside becaomes, in my mind, an act of defiance. Life is so short and the darkness can be frightening, so let us open a bottle of wine and sizzle a steak on the griddle….while we can. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. And just for Christmas, forget worrying about the waistline!

But the eating and the merriment should not be mindless. On the contrary, mindful enjoyment is essential of you are a thinking caring person. The includes the awareness that in the West we waste so much good food, while millions of poor people across the world scrape about without enough to eat.  You might think that thought a ‘downer’, but it should never be forgotten. Even those who count themselves poor in Britain are rich beyond the wildest dreams of a families like those I once met in Lalibela, Ethiopia.

Waste and greed are obscene…but at the same time, it is surely also a sin to be joyless. Don’t you think?Isn’t that why the character of Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has entered the imagination and the language. Scrooge is joyless; unwillingly to spend money on his miserly self he also wishes others to be as miserable, as cold, as wanting. He is transformed by three successive visions of his life, past, present and future, forced by the Spirits of Christmas to see that while his unhappiness had its toots in things beyond his control, it was very much his fault that he allowed that misery to pullute his own life and the lifes of all those he met.

What is the opposite of Scroogery? Why, the joy symbolised by a warm fire, a sizzling turkey, lights and generosity, of course! So indulge yourself, as I shall. And then maybe a little diet in January…..