Yes, this is a blogpost. Yes, it’s Christmas day. No, it isn’t a scheduled blogpost – I’m actually writing and posting it today. Yes, today as in Christmas day. No, posting to my blog on Christmas day doesn’t mean I’m eaten up with misery and self-loathing. It just means, for the second year in a row, I’m getting to have the kind of Christmas I want – quiet, solitary, and tranquil.
I had a nice lie-in (though, to be fair, I didn’t get to bed until around the time that most kids were probably waking up). I went for a stroll in a local park (which was actually pretty busy – apparently people don’t all have their Christmas dinner at lunchtime anymore). Later on I’ll have my dinner – having it late, at a time that suits me – and try and find something to watch on the TV. I’ll probably find time for some random wandering round the internet, too – I quite enjoy the sense of the net being like a real world town, empty and half-deserted for the day. Well, the English-speaking web, anyway; obviously for the majority of the world’s population, not being Christian (or, alternatively, the kind of Christian that celebrates Christmas on a different date), today is just another Sunday.
I did encounter a small fly in the ointment preparing for today, which had to do with the non-availability of courgettes (or zucchini, if you speak a variety of English that refers to the vegetable by its Italian rather than French name). I realise courgettes are deeply out of season, but they could still be flown in or grown under glass. (Either thing would be horrible for the carbon footprint of my dinner, obviously, but it’s Christmas and, let’s face it, the carbon footprint of an out-of-season courgette is as nothing compared to the carbon footprint of a turkey.) But it turns out the shelves had been cleared of everything but sprouts and parsnips for the last couple of weeks in every supermarket, and even my local greengrocers. (Yes, I have a local greengrocers; my brutalist 1960s high-rise estate is on the edge of a middle-class enclave; within a half mile there are places without number where I could, if I wanted, drink a coffee-and-steamed-milk product in the company of twentysomethings whose idea of aspirational urban living was formed watching Friends.)
So, anyway, yes, the lack of courgettes has denied me of my opportunity to make what I was planning on having for my dinner – a rich tomato-based vegetable stew loosely derived from ratatouille. (Sliced mushrooms and courgettes, an onion divided into eighths, crushed garlic, a chunkily-chopped carrot and some butter beans (the last two both parboiled) all whacked into a pot with tinned chopped tomatoes, a couple of vegetable stock cubes, loads of herbes-de-provence, some fenugreek, turmeric, cumin and tarragon and allowed to simmer gently for an hour or so. You’d think the fenugreek, turmeric and cumin would make it like a curry, but all the flavours combine together to make a stew that doesn’t really taste of any one ingredient – not even tomato, oddly.) I could have had a go at making it without courgette, but I couldn’t see an obvious replacement, and anyway Christmas day is not the best time for culinary experimentation, since the chip shops are all shut if it ends up truly disgusting – always a distinct possibility when I cook something for the first time. I was at least able to track down some purple sprouting broccoli, so I will still be able to have some vegetable-based excitement later. (To people as childish as me, purple sprouting broccoli is exciting because it turns its cooking water purple.)
Well, I realise this hasn’t been the most riveting of posts – is there another day when I’d think I could get away with telling you what I didn’t eat for dinner? – but I hope it’s been no more dull than any of the other traditional Christmas messages. Whether that’s the Queen’s little homespun homily – she managed to say things that will resonate with readers of both the Daily Mail and The Guardian, proving that if nothing else she is incredibly skilled at walking a rhetorical tightrope. Or the well-meaning intellectualism of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s attempt to put the Occupy protests in the context of the Book of Common Prayer’s response to 17th Century mercantile capitalism (which proves once and for all that you can take the clergyman out of the university theology department, but you can’t take the university theology department out of the clergyman). Or even the Pope’s sermon, in which he urged us to ‘see through the superficial glitter of this season’; apparently he temporarily forgot that he was himself swathed from head to toe in the most outrageous bling – all of it worn because it was Christmas.
Anyway, I hope you are having/ had a good day, and I’ll end by wishing you a merry Christmas.
Which I’ve just done.
So I’ll…er…go away now…