You learn something new every day, they say - and do you know what? They are right!
I was cooking again tonight, ably assisted by my friend who had come over to see me, catch up, and eat. But mainly eat. One of the ingredientsu I was using was fresh nutmeg. For those of you who shop at Aldi, Nutmeg is a spice used in cooking. As its name suggests, it comes in nut form which has to be broken open to reveal the actual nutmeg spice inside.
However, there is another spice inside the nutmeg "nut". Around the nutmeg is a fibrous covering. This covering is called Mace, and is the other spice. However it needs to be handled with care, and of you use bare hands you should avoid touching your eyes (or anywhere else, boys) without washing your hands first as the mace fibres can cause irritation to the eyes and sensitive areas.
In fact the well known anti mugging spray MACE was derived from extract of that spice, and in medieval times travellers would carry a pouch of ground Mace upon them, with which to rub into the eyes of any potential muggers. Muggings were common place in Medieval times - especially during the period when Hemp became the first recreational drug. Soon after, the use of ground Mace became widespread as a deterrent, and scenes like the following one were played out daily:
(A merchant travelling through town is approached by a local)
Local: Good Morrow Sir, pray tell me: what wares do you have for sale?
Merchant: Good Morrow to you good sir - I have oils and perfumes from afar to sweeten the aroma of the lady in your life - wait, what doth you now?
Local (having pulled out a Turnip): Cease thy jabbering! Give me thy purse, or I shall beat thee to death with this Turnip!
Merchant (pulling out his bag of ground Mace): A pox on you and your Turnip! No monies will you take from me today! But you shall take THIS!! (throws the Mace in the locals face and rubs it in)
Local: Aaargh!! Mine eyes!! They doth burn like a blacksmith's furnace!! Oh apothecary, where art though? I need soothing ointment for this pain!
Merchant (merrily making his escape): 'twas fortunate I had my Mace with me - although it is perilous having to get so close in order to make it affective. If only it could be sprayed instead?.....
Or something like that.
I had a discussion with a friend tonight about Christmas, and children, and how the magic is kept alive for the kids. My friend said that she doesn't do Presents under the tree for her kids, they get all their presents in a big sack each in their room.
I said that I didn't agree with that - and I punched her in the face. I then went on to say that you need to keep the magic alive for as long as possible, and the way I would do it would be like this:
• each child gets a small stocking, or pillow case in their room with small presents in. I had a pillowcase when I was a child and inside would be a yo-yo, some plastercine, a colouring book, a Satsuma, and a lump of coal.
• the children would play with their small presents (or coal) until Mummy and Daddy - or Daddy and Daddy (this is a modern world, folks) - got up. Then everyone would go downstairs to see if Santa had been and left presents under the tree.
• The big presents would indeed be under the tree - and the illusion of Father Christmas having visited would be made by a half eaten mince pie, and half a glass of milk on a table. For extra effect you can leave some reindeer poo on your carpet (dog poo will do - its easy to find locally, and the kids won't know the difference), and a hoof print nearby. Make sure to do more than one hoof print - unless the Mummy is going to pretend to be angry and say:
"Tsk! That Santa has been here alright - and his brought that one legged, Diarrhoea stricken Reindeer with him again. I'll be having words......"
• Everyone then sits down together and opens the big presents. One person could be in charge of giving the presents out even.
Following these few simple tips will ensure the Magic of Christmas stays with your children for longer each year.
I very sadly learned today that someone that was in my year at School, died recently aged just 40 years old. To my shame, I didn't immediately recognise the name, and I'm struggling to picture her in my mind.
It is a real tragedy to die at such an age. 40 years is nothing, and at times like this we are reminded just how fragile life is.
We fill our lives with frivolous things that mean nothing. Our pursuit of the material trappings of life, often causes us to lose sight of what is truly important.
It doesn't matter what you earn, how big your house is, or how new your car is. What really matters (in my opinion) is Family, and True Friends.
We only get one life - and we don't know how long we get to live it. So don't lose sight of the people you love and the people who love you.
Rest in Peace Claire Southgate. X