Sunday, 20 November 2011

Three Pepyses and a cheese and tomato baguette

I went to the local baker this morning to buy a sandwich for lunch and asked the girl behind the counter for "a baguette with cheese and tomato." She smiled the winsome grimace of a Pole, and immediately put something in the microwave, which I assumed was a baguette. It was a strange thing to do, but I thought perhaps she was trying to make it toasty in a damp, microwaved kind of manner. She then held out her hand for payment. "How much is that?" I asked. She looked confused, shrugged in a sort of "I can't speak English" kind of way, and pointed at the other girl behind the counter, who sauntered over and asked if she could help. I asked for a baguette with cheese and tomato and she got to work, whilst the first girl took a random pasty out of the microwave, stuck it in a paper bag and put it on the counter. "Who's that for?" I asked. She pointed at me and smiled a sarcastic Eastern European smile. "But I didn't ask for a pasty." She shrugged, put the heated pasty back on the shelf, took a different, random pasty from the display, and carried it to the microwave. "Is that for me too?" I asked, somewhat incredulously. She nodded. "But I don't want a pasty." She smiled. I left the shop.

We went to a music quiz in Bishop’s Stortford tonight; me, Philippa, Dylan, my parents and Michelle from the choir. We travelled to Thaxted beforehand, but got stuck in dreadful jams on the A12 somewhere near Stratford. Yet again, London’s infrastructure finds itself creaking under the weight of so-called improvements. We sat in stationary traffic for 30 minutes because they’d closed an underpass for what seemed like no reason. There were certainly no workmen present... just lots of red and white flashing cones.

When we finally reached Thaxted, my mother had created the most astonishing spread of food. The only thing missing was my parents' customary open fire. Apparently the last time they “lit up”, an entire room of people had to be evacuated, because the whole thing started smoking so badly. The chimney sweep can’t fir them in for a full month, so we’re all keeping our fingers crossed there’s not a cold snap before Christmas this year! I think, perhaps, in Thaxted there's an opening for another chimney sweep, although my Mum swears that no one in the village would ever turn their back on the one they already have.  

The quiz was excellent. We came second, but lost to a team who can only have got about five questions wrong in the whole evening. Perhaps they were autistic... or robots. We consoled ourselves with the knowledge that they’d had one person more on their team, so if you divide the end scores by the number of players, we beat them hands down! We sang all the way home. ELO mostly. My whooping cough still gives me a bit of gip, but it's so lovely to be able to sing again!

Back at the ranch, our mad rat, Pol has just bitten Michelle in an incident which has got to rank as one of the more embarrassing pet experiences of my life. We had a mad dog when I was a child who used to bite joggers. She was a bit embarrassing – especially when she started to bite children’s faces as well.

350 years ago, Pepys returned home from work to find his wife in an upstairs chamber alone with his friend John Hunt. He was initially troubled, but his mind was somewhat eased by the fact that it was washing day, very cold and that the upstairs chamber was only place where Elizabeth could entertain in front of an open fire. Pepys then went to the christening of his cousin Judith’s child. Rather confusingly, Pepys had been chosen as a godfather along with his cousin Samuel Pepys of Ireland. In those days, a godfather was often allowed to chose the name of the child, and Pepys picked the name... Samuel. Three Samuel Pepyses in one room!

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