Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas, St Agnes and Hypatia

About four years ago, I blogged about making Christmas puddings with my father, because I was too sick to stand and cut and grate and chop and mix and beat and stir. Two years ago, I blogged about feeling much better, and being able to do it on my own. This year, I'm a little late in making them, but am hoping a liberal extra dose of St Agnes's finest will make up for this in flavour.

Each year we stir and make a wish. And while a wish is supposed to be secret, I'm writing to invite my readers to make a virtual pudding wish. The puddings are currently boiling and simmering away. It's too late to stir them, so it won't hurt if you add your wish in the comments box.  I'm hoping you might think about adding a word for my friend Hypatia, who is having breast surgery on Tuesday, rather sooner, and more radically, than either she or her oncologist had hoped for. She is such a fierce thinker, is Hypatia, and so keen to get back to work and be with her students and colleagues, but she has a few trials to undergo first. So I hope you might, in even just one word, wish her courage or health or strength or concentration or peace or calm: whatever you would wish for yourself should this ever come to you. And even if you don't want to log on or write anything, please spare her a thought or a wish or a prayer or a blessing.

I realised a moment ago the tremendous irony, serendipity or unconscious convergence in my mention of the not-particularly-special brandy, St Agnes's, that I used in the puddings, since many of the legends of St Agnes describe how this third-century Roman martyr had her breasts torn off with pincers before her eventual beheading. She is now the patron saint, among other things, of breast cancer patients.



I can't find a text on line, and don't have a copy at home, either, but I do recall the thrill of reading Lampedusa's account of the little St Agnes cakes —  white icing and red cherries? —  in The Leopard, too.

Well, it's just getting weird, now, so to bring you back up into my world, here and now, here's a clip of the fabulous Ben Winkelman trio. Ben here is playing keyboards, but we had the CD of him on piano and this track filling the house as we breakfasted and as I tied up my puddings. Ben gave Joel half a dozen lessons before he headed off to New York to make his fortune, so we think of him as ours, of course.

7 comments:

ana said...

Hypatia, I send you the warmest of virtual hugs and the promise of many actual prayers.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Hypatia, I am so sorry you have to go through this, and do hope it all goes as well as it possibly can. A couple of thoughts:

#1: I have found that calling on the ancestors helps when one is in a dark place. Pick the most heroic forebear you have, and remind yourself that her or his blood is in your veins.

#2: Two of my dearest friends have been through this, and they are both now fully recovered and thriving.

Suse said...

Health. To you both. To us all.

Alison said...

Hypatia, I wish you the best of health and strength...
Alison

Mindy said...

Hypatia I wish you fortitude and that you will be making your own puddings next year and for many years to come (should you want to).

Sulpicia said...

Every good wish to Hypatia, I hope that everything goes as well as it possibly can. I hadn't seen your earlier post asking for suggested entertainment before, but would second the audiobook suggestion. I'd particularly recommend the BBC dramatisations of Lindsey Davis's Falco books, with Falco very pleasantly voiced by Anton Lesser. My mother enjoyed them very much while recovering from her own cancer, and I'd like to think Hypatia would like them too.

Bavardess said...

Hypatia, I wish you fearlessness in the face of the unknown. And now I want Christmas pudding.