Every serviceman and servicewoman knows the value of hot chow.
They may have been fighting, training, travelling, working, digging, or trying to clean the barracks – and the duty day may have extended far longer than anyone could have foreseen – but it all can be brought into line as long as there is some hot chow.
Likewise for the civvies who may be firefighting, working, cleaning, or caring in our own battles. If there can be one plate of hot chow at some stage of the day, they can carry on. If there has also been an up-spirits bugle it is almost as good as a holiday.
Same here in lockdown. Up-spirits is 1500 hours, hot chow is 1800. The rest of the day can be good or bad according to luck, but as long as we can drink up and chow down we can win.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Court of Christmas Justice would like to welcome you to this afternoon’s execution. We have prepared a criminal for you and will be dispatching him shortly in a spectacular manner.. But let us give you some of he details of his crime before the headsman takes over.
As you know, today is Christmas Day – a festival day dedicated to kindness and good will towards all. It is also a time when good things are eaten and drunk, often to excess. Boxing day sees many a floor being vigorously scrubbed. There are traditional foods and drinks that bring happiness to all – and one of them is plum pudding with brandy sauce.
Now no-one would accuse the well-known hotel of being stingy with their celebration – they put on a magnificent buffet within their main ballroom and made sure that there was enough wine, beer, soft drink, and other goodies to fill all. There was music, Santa, attentive staff, and an atmosphere of jollity. Indeed, their dessert line was as long and as replete as anyone could ask for. And they essayed plum pudding with sauce.
I suppose we should have taken warning from the sign that referred to the beige liquid next to the pudding as ” Sauce Anaglise “… It may well have been. I have never visited Anaglise but they may slurp this stuff from tureens. The awkward part is that someone may have thought it to be brandy sauce as the English like it.
The English are a sturdy race. I admire them for this. They can stand a great deal of fire. And they like brandy sauce for their plum pudding that needs to be served with care. They are wise people.
The beige liquid, on the other hand, resembled something that you would normally consult a colour chart for. Come to think of it, a good semi-matte indoor emulsion would probably have tasted better. One would have been prepared to put on two coats.
As it is, we have determined which chef made the sauce and he is waiting in the tumbril for his march up the stairs. Those of you in the front rows may wish to cover your plates when the time comes in case he splashes. It is not so much the fear of blood as the horror of beige liquid.
I am a person of my times. But my times may not be right now. I am brought to this conclusion when I read the social media posts that would nag me away from a steak, a glass of whiskey, or a Catskill comedian.
Fortunately I live in a country that will still allow me my choices in nutrition, drink, and comedy. We have not yet had our life’s spectrum changed to shades of grey, pink, or green. We can still cheer for red, white, and blue.
My table is a private one – the comforting centre of a family’s meals. We see meat, red and white, on it regularly. If I am the cook, it is presented as well as I can manage, and I like to think that it has a great deal of comfort. In any case, the plates come to the washing-up sink pretty clean. I’d be happy if I didn’t have to shepherd hem through after that point, but that’s another story…I need not read how sinful I am for feeding my family…
Drink? I rarely rage through the suburb blind drunk and howling. Not that I don’t want to, mind, but the price of liquor these days means the best I can manage is occasionally standing in the front yard naked and singing. The neighbours have stopped watching.
As far as comedy goes, I am a throwback to the days of Wayne and Schuster, Burns and Allen, and Red Skelton. I want my jokes clean. I can mentally supply all the dirty words and political bias needed to spice them up, so the person delivering the comedy can leave them off.
I live at home.
That means I get to drink at home as well. And I ‘m not talking about buttermilk. I have a liquor cabinet and a wine rack and enough clean glasses to host a block party.
The advantages of drinking at home are many:
a. There is no danger of being over the .05 % alcohol limit on the road. The car is parked in the carport, I am parked at either my dinner table or in front of my fireplace and I can have that cocktail without trepidation.
b. The cost of the drink is much lower than the same thing in a pub, club, or restaurant.
I do not begrudge the licensed premises their prices and profits – I realise that they pay far more in maintaining their business than just my pint or martini. They must have a fair return to be there.
But I do growl when I see the price of half a bottle of whiskey being charged for a cocktail that has one jigger of liquor in it tricked up with a show and a shot of water. If I was incapable of making a better cocktail I would have to accept this, but I own a Savoy book and good implements and know how to measure and shake.
c. I can have what I like, rather than what is on offer at the bar. My tastes are pedestrian enough that my local bottle shop can cater for any whim. I do not whim often, but stick to what I enjoy and to what does me good..
d. It does me good. A daily tot ups the spirits without drowning the intellect. I feel the master of the house when I can call for a glass…even if I then have to go and prepare it.
e. I can afford to treat friends who call. And there is none of that multiple buying frenzy that happens when a group meet in a pub. I am standing the rounds in my own house and while I might pour many, I only need to drink the amount that suits me.
f. No Zone Of Smoke to pass through coming in and out of my house.
g. I can go to bed when I like. This may involve putting out the cat and the visitors, but the mat is a big one and accommodates them all.