wind­ing down the longest month

-- January 28th, 2016 --
evening st paul's This ever­last­ing month of Jan­u­ary!  It feels so much longer than other months, a month to get through, full of solv­ing innu­mer­able small prob­lems, a month that, at the end, leaves me feel­ing a bit as if I’m just one month older with­out much to show for it. It’s a month in which you mea­sure how windy it is, in your tall metal home, by feel­ing the bed jig­gle under you, or watch­ing the water jig­gle in your drink­ing glass, or lis­ten­ing to the build­ing squeak and creak. windy neo The build­ing really sways back and forth.  And the rain just keeps com­ing down. january rainy window Nat­u­rally, after Christ­mas, Jan­u­ary is also spent unsub­scrib­ing from all the places from which I bought Christ­mas presents, who now bom­bard me daily with spe­cial offers I just can­not live with­out.  Except that I can. I bet you know exactly what I mean. The best thing to do is to bun­dle up and get out of the house, see what secrets my new neigh­bor­hood can give up, to keep me cheer­ful.  It doesn’t get much bet­ter than com­ing upon a kitty in South­wark Cathe­dral, liv­ing in a Nativ­ity scene. southwark kitty nativity He came for­ward to be pet­ted. southwark kitty petting It turns out he’s famous!  Doorkins Mag­ni­fi­cat, res­i­dent kitty.  The Cathe­dral shop sells all sorts of mer­chan­dise with his lit­tle face on it.  And he has his own Face­book page, nat­u­rally. And because the human world is end­lessly cre­ative, and British cul­ture is end­lessly tol­er­ant, there is space on the Mil­len­nium Bridge for an artist to crouch in the bit­ter wind, turn­ing dis­carded chew­ing gum into works of art.  Four hun­dred of them, as it turns out.  After John saw him work­ing one day, I ven­tured out with my cam­era to cause a bot­tle­neck in the steady stream of pedes­trian tourists, and cap­ture the magic. gum art1 Wouldn’t it be won­der­ful to live with such an atti­tude that ordi­nary annoy­ances like chew­ing gum clut­ter­ing up a pris­tine bridge only present you with an oppor­tu­nity? gum art2 Because no two pieces of gum get stepped on in quite the same way, the vari­eties of imagery are infi­nite. gum art4 The fun of it is in look­ing down, in the spirit of dis­cov­ery, when every­one else around you is gap­ing at St Paul’s Cathe­dral.  Although I do plenty of that, too.  It is so beau­ti­ful, in any weather. grey afternoon st paul's Cook­ing some­thing is always cheer­ing, espe­cially turn­ing an old favorite on its head and com­ing up with some­thing slightly dif­fer­ent.  I give you: cod cakes (although they need a snazz­ier name, clearly).  This is the dish for you…