“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”
“If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
may sicken and die.”
“Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun; it shines everywhere.”
“In nature there’s no blemish but the mind. None can be called deformed but the unkind.”
Shakespeare wrote his play ‘Twelfth Night’, or ‘What You Will’, around 1602 – an entertainment for the close of the festive season. In medieval and Tudor times, Twelfth Night marked the end of the Winter Festival, which began on Halloween.
It was a day of reversals, presided over by a Lord of Misrule, where the world was turned upside down. The King and all those in high office would become peasants and vice versa.
A special cake was baked, containing a bean. Whoever found it assumed the role of bean king and ruled the feast until midnight when the natural order of things was resumed.
Twelfth Night also marks the feast of Epiphany, a celebration of the Adoration of the Magi – a big event in countries such as Spain – which ushers in the carnival season, culminating in Mardi Gras.
Here in ‘the Shire’ (and other cider-producing counties) it also heralds the traditional season of orchard wassailing, an ancient custom of drinking and singing the health of fruit trees, to awaken them and scare away evil spirits – ensuring a good harvest in the following autumn.
At ‘Clive’s’, our nearby fruit farm (Upper Hook Rd – WR8OSA) this ceremony will take place on Sunday 20th January – led by the local, Worcester based, Faithful City Morris Men – as part of an annual Wassailing and Frost Fair.
For most of us, however, Twelfth Night is about remembering to take down the Christmas decorations, for fear of tempting fate and causing bad luck to descend upon our homes in the year ahead.
This morning was, therefore, spent clambering up a rickety ladder to stash away glass baubles in the loft, and dispatching our ‘special’ tree, with its crooked top, for recycling.
With journalistic Gem already back, hard at it, in the big city, working her notice on ‘Love It’ magazine, before embarking on fresh and exciting challenges at the ‘Sunday Mirror’; and teacher Nicci departing for Oxford, this afternoon, bracing herself for a busy Spring term, the Christmas holiday will soon become a fading memory.
I took time today to gather up presents, still scattered around the house, and spend a few moments appreciating them. We had made a family pact, we would cut back this year, but I still seem to have been the lucky recipient of many thoughtful gifts.
“No ifs or butts… this is a great gift – a goat!
Dad, I know they must be missing you in Africa, so now they have a replacement! This guy is just like you … always bleating on about something (just kidding!) Happy Christmas x”
From number-two daughter, Gem:
a signed, Pictogram rock poster by Swedish designer Viktor Hertz – David Bowie www.victorhertz.com
an ‘On The Road’ travel document case, from the British Library, where we recently saw Jack Kerouac’s original 120 feet long manuscript scroll,
and a Moleskine diary/notebook.
I had my present from Chris back in September – a Tricky Trees season ticket!
Funnily enough, that brings us full circle. Apparently, today, 6th January (Twelfth Night) is National Bean Day in the US of A.
So in keeping with the whole bean king/Lord of Misrule role reversal thing, it seemed only right that I should try out an ‘original and best’ Henry J Heinz recipe – chilli bean con carne with cheesy scones…
- 250g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 75g butter – diced
- 50g strong Cheddar – grated
- 1 egg – beaten
- 50ml milk
- Mix the flour and baking powder in a large bowl
- Rub in the butter and add cheese
- Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg and milk
- Mix the dough until it comes together
- Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and roll to a thickness of 5mm
- Cut out 8 rounds – 5cm across – & place on a baking sheet
- Brush with milk and bake in a preheated oven (200˚C) for 12 mins (or until they sound hollow when tapped)
Chilli con carne
- 415g can of (Heinz) baked beanz
- 2 tablespoons light olive oil
- 1 onion – finely chopped
- 2 garlic gloves crushed
- 500g minced beef
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 2 large red chillies – chopped
- 1 teaspoon hot chilli powder
- 2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- jalapeño peppers
- Heat the oil in a large pan
- Add the onion and garlic and cook over a medium heat for 5 mins – until softened
- Increase the heat to high and add the mince
- Fry for five minutes – until browned all over
- Stir in the tomato purée, chillies, chilli powder and mixed herbs
- Cook for a further five minutes
- Add the tomatoes and beanz
- Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes – until the beef is tender