All hail social media. In January, I lost my beautiful pussycat Mr Mew, and I have spent six long months worrying about him. But last week he came back. His return is entirely thanks to nice people on Facebook and Twitter posting pictures and then alerting me when a sad, similar looking stray was found living rough a few miles away. Mr Mew is a bit starved and missing a few teeth, but I’m hoping that with love, food and shelter he will soon be restored to his former slinky self. And I’ll never be rude about social media again.
I will, however, allow myself to be rude about the hoards of post Brexit whingers who claim to love democracy but object violently to anyone who disagrees with them. Bring it on you ranting luvvies, fat cat bankers and multinational corporations. Continue to alienate the humble voice of Middle England. Knock yourselves out calling us ill educated Neanderthals and spit a bit more venom and vitriol our way. You are showing yourselves in all your mean spirited, round headed, elitist glory, and what an unappealing lot you are. Note: you attract flies with honey, not vinegar; small wonder the majority of the country flew in the opposite direction.
Talking of honey, which I adore, I’m looking forward to the first jars from my revolutionary new beehive, or rather ‘Flow Hive’. Invented by a couple of Aussies, this ingenious creation has a partially formed honeycomb matrix within a transparent frame. The bees complete the comb and fill the cells with honey. We, the beekeepers, twist the frames and split the cells, and the honey flows into a tube at the bottom. Voila! Honey on tap. Apparently, the extraction is so gentle that the bees hardly notice it and so it is less stressful to them than traditional methods. And no beekeeper costumes are necessary. I’m a bit sad about not getting to wear a veil and blast smoke around but am nevertheless purring with pleasure at the thought of lining up my jars of home produced honey next to my jars of homemade jam. My only anxiety is that someone might actually want to eat any of it. The jars look so pretty with their handwritten tags, arranged with painstaking Sleeping With the Enemy precision, that I quite like just smugly looking at and counting them.
In fact, I quite like looking at all sorts of lovely things in a reverential fashion. I love being given bath oils but sometimes I can’t bring myself to use them and they just sit on the bath edge for years. It’s the same with special chocolate or candles: it pains me to eat or light them. My ancient teddy bear Edward, bought and presented to me in 1965, is still in pristine condition. I used to prop him up at the end of my cot and couldn’t sleep unless he was there, watching me, but I never touched him, apart from to brush his hair and give him a goodnight kiss. I tried to give Edward to my baby son but when he started to get covered in dribble my nerves couldn’t take it, and he had to go back on a high shelf. Paging Dr Freud.
Helping my son, who is now 14, make his GCSE choices has enraged me. Why have our schools become so obsessed with science? I understand kids studying general science until they’re 13, so that we all vaguely understand how electricity works, or the alimentary canal, or what happens if you strike a match when there’s a gas leak. But after that, if a child has zero interest in physics and chemistry, why do they have to keep learning them? As usual, much more time has to be spent on one’s weakest subjects to scrape a pass when one could be learning to fly in areas where one has talent. We’re in danger of teaching a whole generation of kids how to make crystal meth, leaving little time for them to create a beautiful sculpture. As adults, many of us prefer to visit the Louvre than to read a book on quantum physics. Funnily enough, many kids are the same.
I decided last weekend to try only to eat food that had been grown or produced in my own county, Herefordshire. I’ve always been passionate about supporting local farmers and am lucky to live near a small town which has excellent butchers and greengrocers. Imported foods used to be a luxury; now they’re a staple, and locally produced food is bizarrely referred to as ‘artisan’ and considered by those living in big cities as a luxury. I’m glad to report that we ate local bacon, lamb, beef, eggs, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, beetroot, cheese, popcorn, apples, strawberries, raspberries and … vodka. We should all raise a glass to Chase vodka, made from locally grown potatoes just a few miles from my house. Buying British has never been so pleasurable.