On Christmas morning I hear a discussion programme on the subject of happiness. One of those present quotes some familiar words - "All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.." She didn't acknowldege the source but they come from Eliot's Four Quartets, and without fail they instill in me a sense of deep calm.
I come across, in a French book on vegetables, a reference to le topinambour. The article begins: "It is only for us septuagenerians that a too often eaten "legume de guerre" can still be of interest today". I am not sure of the truth of that statement. Jerusalem artichokes make a fine soup and can be roasted or boiled and served wrapped in bacon to good effect, war time food or not. But I do know that French chefs are not fond of this relative of the sunflower. A once famous French chef, once bet me £25 that the word topinabour referred to the globe artichcoke. I took him on, and he had the good grace to ring me up the next day to confirm that I was right, but the bad grace not to mention the bet.
Listening to the voice of Pam Ayres, with its amused and michievous rustic swing, on a CD. She intoduces her poems with anecdotes, which add to their wit when she comes to recite them. Even though I have heard them all before - the account of having a wisdom tooth extracted is but one which comes to mind - the poems make me laugh out loud even when I think about them. During her recitations,there is something about the way she looks for the right word, finds it and then relishes it, as though it is some special item of food, which seems close to genius.