Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’

Pile of uncooked prunes

I like my daily prune.

I took a jar of cooked prunes to Corfu.

Seems eccentric–my mother must have had a hand in establishing the habit.

“Keeps you regular, Robin!”

There’s a funny side to prunes–mention of them can make people smile.

(Anything to do with body functions tends to bring a smile to English faces.)

The word itself has a comic sound– PROONE and it’s wrinkled appearance is not beautiful.

BUT they are delicious when soaked first and then gently stewed and allowed to cool.

The prunes here are from Agen–a couple of hours to the north west of us and they are extra as the French say of something special.

Some people eat them dried.

I prefer them after they’ve been through the Method–soft and melting in the mouth–as an essential part of breakfast.

The Method (for a pound of prunes):

  • Empty the prunes into a saucepan.
  • Cover them with boiling water.
  • Let them stand for a half hour.
  • Gently bring them up to the boil.
  • Cover them and let them simmer for another half hour–covered.
  • Leave them to cool then store them in the fridge.

Here’s one in Meredith’s breakfast bowl–heaven she says!

“There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune….”–                                                                                                          ~Jack Falstaff to Mistress Quickly in Shakespeare’s Henry the Fourth Part One.

I couldn’t possibly comment on that–but I have enough faith in prunes to take a jar of them to Corfu.

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Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked,
I cried to dream again.”

We are a couple of hours from the Mediterrenean here, so this is no island paradise; but Caliban’s friendly welcome to Ferdinand in Shakespeare’s Tempest flooded into my mind as I set  off on my walk at 7.30 this morning.

The birds had been up betimes–taking over from the cicadas we heard last night.

Cicadas in April..?, we asked ourselves.

The golden oriole scolded me for being late, but the rest were happy talking among themselves, sounding like:

“a thousand twangling instruments–hum{ing} about mine ears!”.

Things get going early here–a few neighbours had dropped by already.

Early callers!

They seemed a little nervous when I appeared and moved on to a quieter part of the meadow.

The pheasant hopped into the undergrowth when he spotted me–his squawk sounding like an steam train on its last journey to the breakers’ yard.

I played Ferdinand  in 1965 at Salisbury Repertory Theatre–my first professional Shakespeare.

I’d been Prospero too, the exiled Duke of Milan, in a school production a few years earlier and seen John Gielgud play it at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The play is an old friend.

Ferdinand is hardly one of the great parts in the repertoire–his main job being to look convincingly awed throughout. Awed by the island, awed by Prospero’s daughter, Miranda–well and truly AWED!

As I descended into the little valley, surrounded by these magical sounds, I felt a touch of Ferdinand’s awe rising unashamedly in me!

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It’s raining, it’s pouring…..

And the hail was so heavy yesterday it left the fields looking like it had snowed.

Just to reassure me that Feste in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night didn’t get it all right when he sings:

Hey Ho, The Wind and the Rain.

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man’s estate,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
‘Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate,
For the rain, it raineth every day.

But when I came, alas! to wive,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain, it raineth every day.

But when I came unto my beds,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
With toss-pots still had drunken heads,
For the rain, it raineth every day.

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain.
But that’s all one, our play is done,
And we’ll strive to please you every day.

These two photos of our bitter almond tree were taken just a couple of days ago—and remind me that things will change again– for the better!



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