This morning dawned bright but overcast in Prestwich, where we had a moderate turnout for the High Mass, celebrated today by Father Mark Brackley, fresh from his long run as Lenten preacher in Burnley. Still no word from Frank in India regarding the 'order status' of our new purple High Mass set, but never mind. The choir rose to the occasion singing the first Asperges of Lent with aplomb, Ken even finding time to take these pictures for you.
After Mass and the Baptism I went to see how Josie is recovering after her hip operation the other week. Because she is much younger than the average age of hip replacement cases, she has to rest for twelve weeks after the operation, I found her in a special chair looking bored so nipped home and picked up DVD boxed sets of Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, Raffles and Jeeves & Wooster, which should see her through to the fifth week! I went home for lunch (a partridge, game is plentiful and cheap at the moment) which I enjoyed with a glass of Dorset parsnip wine which my brother gave me. I enjoyed the partridge very much, the wine came in useful to glaze the accompanying peach along with the meat juices. Mind you, the very fact that parsnips can be turned into something resembling slightly off dry sherry is remarkable in itself. As I write I am getting ready to return to Church to take people round the stations of the cross, we usually get a good turnout for the first one, sloping off then picking back up for Palm Sunday.
A few years ago I was invited to the house of a very well off friend on a Friday in Lent for dinner. He said that I was not to worry as it would be a meat free dinner. Fishy canapes and champagne led onto seared tuna with caviar, crab bisque and lobster, washed down with Puligny Montrachet and one of the very rare eisweins which enjoy such favour with the landed gentry of England. It was in no way penitential and I felt something of a fraud. The senior cleric at the other end of the table seemed content though and I am not Saint Francis. I pondered on this last Friday as I had completely forgotten the Lenten Friday rule, in my haste and great moral laxity and it is a funny thing, meat free Fridays in a time when Fish is the most expensive protein which many of us eat, I look forward to a cod loin or a Dover Sole far more than I would a pork chop and I am not going to make the fish die in vain nor deplete the stocks of cod to cook it in such a way that it becomes penitential. The scarcity of natural resources puts a different meaning onto days of abstinence and I wonder if we would not do as well to share food with the hungry as to chose one protein over another for the remaining Lenten Fridays. I shall keep you informed as to progress on this but do not worry, I know the idea of not having enough is half of the penance, not the having of fish rather than fowl.