Pic: Dawn over the Moffat hills today: the sky was streaked with brilliant turquoise and shocking red
It is confirmed by The Lady magazine that Dawn French has lost 10 stone - or to put it another way, half her previous weight. When I was at my largest, expecting one or other of my children, I approached the reception desk of a French hotel. 'One at a time please' said the receptionist without raising his head, 'Sir'. It is the Prince of Wales' birthday today: happy birthday, Sir. I have met HRH once, at a reception at St James' Palace in aid of Temenos, an organisation close to his heart which was run by my then next door neighbour, the poet Kathleen Raine. Temenos is the Greek word for sacred space, not a mis-spelling of the second person plural of the Latin verb 'to hold'. KR shared her house with the remarkable visionary painter William Collins RA and had carried a torch in her youth for Gavin Ring of Bright Water Maxwell (who was gay). The resulting book of poems On a Deserted Shore possess an incantatory, mesmeric quality. I was a supporter of, and sympathiser with, the late Princess of Wales but believe that Prince Charles should be allowed to work out his personal penitence in the spirit of 'Judge not, lest ye be judged'. I wrote a complaint to the BBC last week, following an - in my view - cowardly attack on him by an academic, Mary Beard in an opinion piece comparing him to General Gaddafi. Sometimes people complain about bad language, but in my view gratuitous attacks on people such as Prince Charles are just as corrosive to our quality of life. Talking of quality of life: last week I bought a pheasant for £4 from Wallace Bros, our excellent Moffat butcher - not expensive. I cooked it in a small oval casserole dish, browning it well all over in a mixture of butter and oil, with an onion (quartered), two carrots cut into big chunks, half a dozen cloves of garlic a handful of black peppercorns and a chicken stock cube, water to three quarters of the way up the bird. I brought it to the boil and transfered into a medium oven for an hour or so. I took the pheasant out when it had cooled, brought the liquor back to the boil and threw in some couscous grains. I have enjoyed cold pheasant with couscous and mango chutney over the weekend, with some baked squash for my vitamin D quotient, and am astonished at how much meat there is on the bird.
There is a vote for 'Keep Calm and Carry on Reading' as a title for the book of this blog to be published by Moffat Book Enterprises in 2012. Other, new possibilities include:
For You the Year is Over (too many old war movies?)
Write! Read! Book! Blog!
Diary of a Provincial Lady
By Birnock Water I Sat Down and Blogged
Serpents in Eden - and other animals
Flies in the Ointment (offering the possibility of a follow up volume: More Flies in the O)