Last week I had the pneumococcal vaccine, courtesy of what is still, mostly, a beneficient National Health Service.
Unlike the flu shot, it is a one-off and should, as they say, See Me Out.
However, while I tend not to have any repercussions from the flu shot, this one gave me a sore arm, like, really sore for 2-3 days and still quite tender after that, as well a day or two feeling Vaguely Crap, that well-known unspecific medical condition.
Thought this was All Over, but this morning, discovered I had a Sore Armpit. Don't know whether this is a final repercussion, a muscle I pulled and didn't realise, or, since partner had something yesterday that might have been a virus and involved various aches and pains, whether it is that, though on the whole I would say I feel a good deal less Vaguely Crap than a few days ago.
A general condition of Slob-Out was declared and has not yet quite terminated.
There has been the most ominous-looking light over north London for several hours now - a sort of copper colour. The sky is covered by a greyish cloud with wisps of whiter cloud drifting across it.
No rain, a bit of a breeze wafting through the trees in the street, but so far, nothing stronger.
The effect is somewhat John Martin-esque, or possibly requiring figures to run through the pocket park behind the house crying 'Heathcliff!' 'Cathy!'. Or at least, the foreshadowingly brooding overture to such.
I assume this is something to do with Hurricane Ophelia, even if so far this part of England is not supposed to be affected. This morning when I went shopping it was sunny and unusually warm, but I put that down to the Little Summer of St Luke.
They walked slowly back towards the villa in silence. Lady Bexbury was conversing of novels with a well-looking fellow of middle years, that to Beauf’s astonishment spoke English with a somewhat Cockney accent though he was as bronzed as any Neapolitan. She made introductions and Beauf apprehended that this was Traversini’s dear companion. Should be entire ecstatic, said Lady Bexbury, would you stay to dine the e’en. Although Beauf felt that all he wanted to do was to return to Naples and brood in his room, or if Julius was around, tell him what had passed, he could not refuse.
Sure it was a very fine dinner, especial had they not been expecting any company. When they had finished, and night had fallen, Lady Bexbury offered that the sight of fireflies among the olive trees was most exceeding pretty, why did Flora not take His Lordship to see 'em? Flora bit her lip, then smiled and said, sure 'tis indeed the prettiest thing, let us go view 'em. And somehow, as they walked towards the olive grove, their hands found one another. Over there, said Flora, that quite menacing red glow? 'Tis the burning mountain Vesuvius: here are lesser fires.
She gestured towards the little sparks of light darting among the olive trees. Indeed 'twas a most exquisite pretty sight. He turned towards Flora and saw his own pleasure mirrored on her face. Mayhap it was the romantic setting; mayhap the excellent wine they had drunk had somewhat to do with it; but he put his arms around her and kissed her as no decent man should kiss a respectable young women before they had reached an understanding. And Flora kissed him back as no respectable young woman should kiss a man that had not already spoke to her papa.
At length they drew away from one another. Beauf began stammering an apology: oh, fie, said Flora, you must have apprehended that I too was quite overcome. She looked down at the ground. 'Twas most exceeding pleasant, I liked it quite extremely, should greatly desire to do it again: but, dearest Beauf, 'twould not be right. I hope, said Beauf, I should not take advantage of your kindness - Flora looked up with a bewitching smile and said, sure I have the greatest confidence in your honour. But m – my godmother has conveyed to me certain matters concerning the sexes –
And, said Flora, drawing herself up and looking like a small Valkyrie, I daresay there are those would condemn her for sullying my maiden innocence or some such nonsense, but I find myself in entire agreement with her that 'tis a shocking thing the way young women are kept in ignorance of matters so very material to their lives and happiness. Why, said Beauf, I fancy my stepmother would be in agreement with such arguments. And when one goes ponder over the topic, 'twould at least be prudent were young women given some warning concerning how some men carry on.
Flora gave another of her enchanting smiles and said, but she avers that young women should also be informed about their own natures: and that they should know that they may find that there is a traitor within the citadel that undermines their resistance to a siege. Beauf looked at her and considered upon this – was it a confession? – that she too felt ardours that might lead them into most improper conduct together. Indeed, Flora said more soberly, I come to an apprehension of her meaning. But she says, too, that does not always import for better for worse &C.
We had better, said Flora, be returning to the villa. She sighed. Flora, said Beauf, dearest Flora, at least say that I may speak again, when we are back in Town and not beguiled by romantic surroundings. She sighed again. You may, dearest Beauf: perchance we may find that 'twas entirely a glamour and you may go find one more apt to duchessing than I. I do not think so, he said. In all our travels have seen none that moves me as much as you. Flora made a little noise, almost a sob, and then turned towards the villa.
The coachman was mayhap a little displeased at being routed out from the kitchen and flirtatious conversation with the buxom Giulia, no hag-like sorceress. But he went ready the horses, and Beauf took his leave of Lady Bexbury and Alf, bowed over Flora’s hand. As he mounted to the carriage, and it began to drive away, he glimpsed, through a window, the fleeting sight of Flora kneeling by her godmother’s chair, her head in her lap, Lady Bexbury stroking the golden curls. Beauf thought that he would have welcomed an attack by banditti as a distraction from his troubled thoughts.
There were no untoward happenings on the road back to Naples. At their lodgings, he found Julius alone – he had not expected Bobbie to be in, but Quintus had regular habits. Is a dinner of some medical club or such, said Julius, seeing Beauf look around, that Quintus was invited to. But, dear friend, you look troubled. Oh, Julius, sighed Beauf, going to sit beside him upon the chaise-longue, indeed I am troubled, for Flora – was’t another woman I would say, goes play the coquette, but 'tis not Flora’s way – Julius put an arm around Beauf in the old way.
Beauf rested his head upon Julius’ shoulder, thinking of all the times they had comforted one another. He was blessed in having such a friend. Surely marriage, especially marriage to Flora, whose own dearest friend was Julius’ sister Hannah, would not come between? Julius remarked that he was going to see a very fine garden the morrow, would Beauf care to come? Indeed he had not seen so much of Julius lately, would be most agreeable to spend time in one another’s company. That would be exceeding pleasant, he said, do you desire my company. How not, said Julius, smiling.
This week's bread: the Blake/Collister My Favourite Loaf, white spelt/wholemeal/einkorn flour, made up with the remains of the buttermilk.
Saturday breakfast rolls: the adaptable soft roll recipe, 4:1 white spelt/buckwheat flour, maple sugar, dried blueberries.
Today's lunch: New Zealand venison loin medallions, panfried in butter, served with sweet potato oven fries, cauliflower florets roasted in pumpkin seed oil with cumin seeds (I think these could have done either with being cooked a bit longer, or broken up into smaller pieces), fennel cut into thinnish strips, healthy-grilled in olive oil, and splashed with elderflower vinegar.
Oh, David Mitchell, I normally like and approve of your columns, but this one?
Which made me think of pretty much all societies, 'throughout history', where just because there was a belief in a higher power didn't mean that there wasn't massive conflict over: who was the real higher power and how best to worship that higher power. And even when there was a generally accepted overall belief system, there are differences within between schools of thought and practice (cf persecution of Christians or Muslims who are not of the predominant category within a particular nation). Heretics get persecuted at least as much as infidels.
And you may like to think
I know in my heart that had I been brought up in such a setting – say, in Anglican Victorian England – I wouldn’t have quibbled with those answers and would’ve been comforted by them.
That would Anglican Victorian England which a) pretty much invented the concept of honest doubt and b) within the C of E, massive conflicts between High and Low Church, no? Not so cosy.
Paging Mr Blake and the Ever-Lasting Gospel. Written at the same time that a large number of actual clergymen had gone into that line of work because they were the third son and it was a living, and why would anyone trouble themselves over the 39 Articles? and it gave them plenty of time off for hunting.