Stolen dinosaur tree solstice!
When I was a kid, I used to have to walk through a farmyard to get home, and at certain times and in certain seasons I’d get bullied by geese. Geese are famously territorial - if you did Latin at school you probably had to translate that story about how they saved the Roman Capitol - and these ones were led by a gigantic monstergoose with a particularly bad attitude. Since they weren’t my geese I didn’t want to touch them, which meant I felt guilty when they threatened to bite me: rural existential stress.
The farmer was a fabulous old Cornishman in a brown tweed cap, and when he realised what was going on he came out and told me to whack the boss goose in the head with a stick if it got too close. Do that a couple of times, he said, and they’ll learn. Which they did - but not for long, I now realise, because geese are not wrong to regard humans as enemies; their ultimate destiny is to wind up as delicious Christmas lunch and a superb cooking oil for potatoes. Although it’s worth noting they don’t attack potatoes with the same vigour.
So, the deepest dark of winter is behind us. My daughter informs me there is a discussion in her school’s RE class of moving the Christian festival from its tentpole solstice position to one more likely to reflect the historical birthday of the man it notionally celebrates; perhaps the Church, never shy itself of pinching other people’s festivals, resents the appropriation of Christmas by Capitalism - arguably the true religion of the anglophone industrial complex. (I can imagine the move happening shortly after the abolition of the Monarchy, meaningful action on petrochemical industries and the election of a socialist legislature in Texas.)
Be that as it may, this year the Coco Cola Santa colours flew like national flags above a lot of the world’s great cities, and I made my first ever from-scratch Christmas cake including marzipan and icing. As an aside, I encountered a bonkers recipe and I’m drawing a line: marzipan does not need raw egg in it and anyone who tells you it does is selling antibiotics. I used a perfectly simple traditional German one: grind almonds, add icing sugar, almond essence and water. Done. Utterly delicious.
And so I find myself on holiday, drenched in ideas for exciting projects, and for the first time since December 2019, not stressed. Long may it last. I wish you all the very best for 2023. I’m turning my face to the sun.