Monday 1 June 2020

Being looked after

At the start of Coronarama, An Post gave each household in the country a brace of postage-paid post-cards as their contribution to combatting social isolation. I dithered for a loonngg time about who would get this limited / precious resource from me. Eventually they went off to the chosen two. As I was handing them to Pete-the-Post, I asked if he had any spares and got another handful. That meant
I could send one to everyone in the audience. Feedback suggested that this simple action was the best thing that happened to the recipients since the lockdown got in the way of their consumption of lattes-in-cardcup. Efven in the best of times, I was far to mean to lash out €3.50 on a cup of joe, even with added Oatly unmilk. But a pal at work asserted that she had one every working day because a) she enjoyed it b) she could afford it because she was in work c) it was a message to say she deserved a treat. Both the postcards and the cappuccinos said "somebody cares" and that's important all the time not just in pandemonium.

I was chatting along these lines with Dau.II on the Daily Show from Cork and she drew my attention to Grace Dent, once-upon-a food columnist with the Grauniad, who now has licence to write about whatever comes into her head because there aren't any restaurants to review. At the beginning of May Dent was writing about being a food puritan in her own kitchen. "It was time to dispose of the aubergine. The one I acquired 39 days ago. Once firm, noble-seeming and purple, it now sat there looking forlorn – mottled in places, with a slightly jammy undercarriage. I picked it up several times on Tuesday and edged it closer to the bin, but I couldn’t bring myself to make the final push: chucking food would be an admission of defeat."
She then goes on to riff on how she was dreaming of the day when she could bust out of this Sarajevo mentality and eat something bright orange, crisp, piping hot and loaded with salt, MSG and bad cholesterol. Looking after herself, virtuously polishing her plate, wasting nothing . . . because there was a war on: it was all getting too wearing.

In January, I wrote about how Old Vic cared when my widowed mother was assigned a billet in a nursing home for the final 4 months of her life. When she was much younger, in uniform for much of WWII, it wasn't an easy life, but at least there was someone in the background to cook the food and there was enough of it, Her own mother had a much harder life, with butter, eggs and bacon all rationed at just enough to get by on. With two adults in the house, my grandmother was allowed 2 eggs a week, and you may be sure that The Man of the House got them both. That went on for 6 years, so you can see what ordinary people are capable of enduring. It is nevertheless entirely appropriate to deliver a slab of flapjacks, a dozen eggs, a pot of marmalade or a postcard to show you care.

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