These are my home made cheesy pies.
They took me most of Saturday to make. I can’t begin to describe the complexity of the operation. No wonder pies, like cars, are made in factories. You wouldn’t suddenly decide to make a couple of Audis in the kitchen, nor should you attempt the infinitely complex procedures that pie makers have to perform. I’ll be leaving it to Greggs in future.
My pies were going fine. I had blind baked the pastry, cooked the filling, rolled out the tops, poked holes in them, brushed them with milk, etc. etc. It took me hours.
I put them in the oven and fell in front of the TV, mug of Darjeeling in hand. Exhausted, and with the knowledge I had a kitchen that would need several days to bring back into service.
I set the oven timer for twenty minutes but failed to hear it go off.
It was Tom Petty’s fault.
I went to see him last week, you see.
It was hot in the Albert Hall. The support band had finished an enthusiastic impression of everything an all-American rock band should be, loud but soft and sentimental. Good enough, but nothing to worry the headline act.
Two large Irishmen shovelled themselves past me, beer in each hand held aloft for presentation. The bigger of the two sat down next to me, I made a quick appraisal and decided that he was exactly twice as big as I was. His chair was the same size as mine causing an inevitable overflow. Fortunately, he wasn’t the sort of guy who minded bodily contact, seemingly content to export some of his warmth to me. When I leaned away, he followed, expanding into my space. He stank of beer and fags and cheese and onion. Maybe he’s the inspiration behind the pies.
The situation was beginning to get to me when Tom Petty arrived.
He walked on stage and started to sing “Listen to Her Heart” and I became very happy. It’s one of my most favourite songs in the whole world. My Irish friend was suddenly forgotten.
I have been to many great concerts but this was the very best.
As I slumped, pied out, in front of the telly, Sky Arts was showing a Tom Petty concert. So I forgot my pies listening to music.
When I remembered, they were a little overcooked. They had also exploded.
The good news is that the oven got a good clean.
The other good news is that it’s stopped raining and the chickens haven’t escaped today.
Oh, and I rewrote the first 6000 words of Due Diligence for a competition. And a biography of Jenny Parker.
And this blog.
And what’s left of the pies tastes very good.
I was never interested in history at school, maybe it was the teachers, maybe the subject but I have a feeling it was me always preferring to look ahead. Always trying to second guess what was coming next, living for tomorrow.
I do remember one thing a history teacher told me, though. His name was Mr. Conroy. I remember him particularly because he was responsible for my brief acting career. He cast me to play King Henry VIII in the school play, A Man for All Seasons. Although this brief taste of monarchy itself might not qualify me as an expert, at least it gives me some form of perspective.
Anyway, it’s not Henry VIII, or even my fourteen year old representation of him, that has coloured my attitude towards the Queen all these years. Mr. Conroy explained how the monarchy works, how having an unelected head of state protects us all against the worst excesses of government.
Imagine, he invited, a government intent on radical change. One that set out to infringe our basic human rights. They would have to get those draconian measures past the Queen and she would stop them. She is our ultimate protection against tyranny, or at least according to Mr. Conroy.
So, as long as we have our Queen, nothing really bad can happen to us.
There are critics of the monarchy who feel aggrieved that the opportunity to reign isn’t open to all. To those people I would point out that being the Queen can only be properly carried off by someone who is actually, well, royalty.
Another important quality of a successful Queen it’s that she doesn’t have a choice. Whether she wants to be or not, she’s got the job and got it for life. Surely a big advantage over someone like Tony Blair or David Cameron who would do anything to be in her position. Being Queen is a bit like being God, I suppose. It’s not a job you can train for. You have to assume the position, you can’t be appointed by someone else.
I’ve heard criticisms that the Queen is too posh, that she doesn’t lead a normal life and that she’s out of touch with common people. I don’t think a monarch can be anything other than posh and out of touch. If the Queen had to work in Tesco, or was a dinner lady, she wouldn’t have time to be the Queen. If she wasn’t posh, then who else could be?
On the whole, I tend to agree with Mr. Conroy that the Queen is a good thing. I think she does protect us from despots and that she has a valuable role in holding the country together and promoting good.
Long live the Queen!
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