There is a short and moving story, written by Rudyard Kipling called ‘The Gardener.’ First published in 1925, it is the tale of Helen Turrell, a well-off respectable woman of country stock, and Michael. Though Michael is, ostensibly Helen’s nephew, she lets him call her ‘Mummy’ at bedtime, by way of a “pet-name between themselves.” Helen fears that he might reject her, when, aged ten, Michael got the idea that his civil status was “not quite regular,” but instead their bond grows tighter. Michael realises after all that there were plenty of his sort in English history.
Chilli peppers are surely one the world’s great mysteries. On paper, objectively, they are horrible. They burn the tongue, set the face on fire and bring to tears to the eyes. Yet, when experienced, they surely count among life’s truest pleasures. From hot wings to hot and sour soup, from pizzas and nachos to the very best curries, there is little, it seems, that cannot be made better by adding some variety of chilli pepper, the hotter the better.
Hadrian’s wall stretched a full 80 miles across the province in Britannia, from Mais, the fort at Bowness on Solway in the West to Segundum, the fort at Wallsend in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the East. Construction began in 122BC, and when finished the wall stood 10ft wide and 13ft high and was replete with forts, gateways, observation towers and a defensive ditch running in front.
Reading the papers over the weekend, I could not help but be reminded that this week sees the 80th anniversary of the Blitz, the German bombing campaign against Great Britain. It began late in the afternoon of 7 September 1940, when 300 German bombers flew in over London to attack the docks in the first of 57 consecutive nights of bombing and was to last 8 months.