Friday, 25 January 2013

from Russia with honey

The Systems Administrator greeted the news that I had offered to house the beekeepers' library in the spare bedroom with a look of mute suffering, combining an I hope you haven't bitten off more than you can chew sort of expression with fear that we would be liable to beekeepers dropping in at odd hours to borrow books.  The last time I saw quite that look on the SA's face was the Christmas I announced that my brother had given us a goat, in the brief interval before the penny dropped that this was a remote charitable goat somewhere in the developing world, and not a bleating animal tethered in our garden.  I explained that it was only some boxes of books, and I would e-mail the list out to members for them to collect at the monthly meetings.

The SA is otherwise fascinated by the workings of the beekeepers, and frequently describes them in terms of post-revolutionary Russia.  The local association is apparently a perfect Soviet, being a self-organising autonomous group at the bottom of the hierarchy.  Occasionally, if I get home from a particularly tetchy and non-productive committee meeting, the analogy switches to The Sopranos.

The Soviet comparisons sometimes extend to other areas of life, since one day recently when I was well wrapped up to go out in a thigh length leather coat with sheepskin cuffs and collar that I've had for years, and a close fitting grey knitted woollen hat, the SA said approvingly that it was a great coat, and I looked like a Russian partisan going out to fight the Nazis, only I needed a sub-machine gun tucked under my arm.  I think it's a pretty good coat myself, though I'm fairly sure the original sales line in the 2000 Boden catalogue wasn't an invitation to look like a WWII Russian partisan.

Meanwhile, the SA has escaped to Cheltenham with a great mate.  As the SA said, I'm going to be out at work this weekend anyway, and they've been eyeing up this meeting for a long time.  What was already set to be a good meeting has now acquired a superlative race card, since several races cancelled due to snow in the past couple of weeks have been rescheduled for tomorrow.  The Irish horses will be over in force, and may be fitter than the English contenders, since it hasn't snowed over there so training won't have been interrupted.  At one point there seemed to be a risk that the races would be pushed back until Sunday, but by then the SA and the SA's great mate had discovered that there was rugby in Bath on Saturday, so they were covered either way.  I don't grudge them the trip.  It's nice to be allowed one's own space now and then.

In the SA's absence I'm attempting to cook a pheasant that's been lurking in the freezer for rather a long time.  We were given it, but the SA finds game too rich.  I have never cooked a pheasant before, and this one may be too dry after spending ages in the deep freeze, but I don't suppose it's poisonous.  I've got a Savoy cabbage as well, and some frozen chestnuts I'm cooking with bacon and celery.  I might listen to a baroque violin CD of Andrew Manze playing Pandolfi while I eat them.

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