Sunday, 20 December 2015

A Year in Norwich: Marzipan and Mass

A very warm welcome to a new series I'm beginning as part of the "My Secret Diary" section of my blog. Boring as I am, small extracts from my life seem to go down well. So as part of a bigger project entitled "A Year in Norwich", I've decided to offer small snapshots of diary entries to readers of my blog over the coming year. After all, you never know when something interesting might happen and I've always had the ambition to record my life, or at least the funny parts. Here's a snapshot of yesterday:

Saturday 19th December

Marzipanning Christmas cake while trying not to gag at smell of brandy. Flashback to a week ago with copious vomit, blackout periods and a lost debit card. Worst, most ill (alcoholically induced) I have ever felt in my life. 2/10 would (WILL) never do again. Panic at blackout moments (a first and, vow to self, a last), not for own welfare but that of others, though was assured by housemate several times nothing offensive was done/said, and by others that everyone found events resulting in vomit-covered coat and various bruises funny and not at all an inconvenience. Anyway, the cake. Rolling out the most b***d-thin marzipan which won't stop sticking to the bloody sideboard however much cornflour separates the two. Eventually cover cake with nauseating brandy-apricot glaze (appealing in previous years) and fix on patchy at best layer of  marzipan. Hate marzipan, but much like all other Christmas traditions personal preference must take a backseat to tings without which Christmas would be well and truly ruined. At one point, after ten minutes, Mother is banished from kitchen with door shut behind her as overbearing  helicopter-parenting of a nineteen year old WOMAN who has been on cake duty for years is found to be unneeded, unwarranted and quite frankly irritating.

Cover botched yellow mess with tinfoil just in time to usher parents out door for six o'clock Mass. Listen at Mass to sermon about danger of rattling off prayers paying no heed to their meaning, and proceed to rattle off prayers with rest of congregation. Come up with two blog ideas and apologise for sins, though not out loud to priest at confession (opportunity for which was rather sprung upon one). I have no objection to confession--incredibly cleansing experience at times-- but personally feel I would need about a week to prepare. Not, I hope, because have overwhelming amount of sins which need organising chronologically or alphabetically, but simply because confession is, in addition to ever-popular "sign of peace" during mass, one of many awkward social interactions Catholics partake in. No wonder congregation attendance seems higher in Ireland than England. Many of the symbols used as part of Catholic Mass present social issues of inherent un-Britishness. 

At one point we are told to shake hands with our "neighbours", which begs the question first posed to Christ himself: Who is our neighbour? Do we firmly restrict ourselves to those either side of us in the pew, thus ending the madness soon after it begins, or do we turn to shake hands and command that "peace be with you" to those sitting behind us as well? What about those across the aisle whose mothers were friends with our grandmothers? And you never know if the crowd in front of you will turn round and offer their hands. In addition, there always seems to be one eejit who feels his neighbour is halfway across the church and thinks they'll be known as the most Christian of Christians if they make the treacherous journey to as many people as possible--all of whom are convinced the whole Church is looking at them and just wish it would end so everyone can continue fixing their eyes firmly on the floor, or the wall, or indeed anywhere that isn't another human being. At this point, after the shaking of hands, my mind begins to leap to what exactly my hands had been seen to be doingbefore the Dreaded Incident. Had I been scratching my head? Biting my nails? Oh GOD, what if the people I shook hands with saw me biting my nails? What if they had been biting their nails? Or something even more unsavoury? Then the arguably more serious dread creeps in: What if stoic insistence upon limiting handshaking to three or four people was taken as a snub by other, left-out members of the congregation? What if whisper is currently going round church about my limited ungenerous handshaking? Or weakness of said handshake? Social life within parish will be over forever. Nobody will ask me to bake for charity cake sale ever again. Might as well leave now and never return.