Friday, 6 April 2012
Wagner And Simnel Cake
Richard Wagner's Good Friday Music from Parsifal
The video is brief clip of a 1951 live concert by the Berlin Philharmonic and conducted by Wilhelm Furtwangler.
I was five when it was recorded and it was the year I started school. There was no school holiday then and Good Friday was just like any other school day.
The shops weren't overflowing with pricey Easter eggs either, because sugar was still rationed and chocolate was a birthday or Christmas treat. My brother and myself dyed hard boiled eggs and my father would help us draw on them. None of my family was good at drawing, but with the help of one of Dad's old fountain pens filled with Quink permanent ink, we managed to make our eggs identifiable.
Each Easter Sunday the family had lunch at my grandmother's and magically, without fail, she produced a Simnel cake. To this day I have a fondness for marzipan, so much so that when I worked in Switzerland, I undertook a course in marzipan modelling. (My own photographs are tucked away in the attic somewhere).
My grandmother was much like Leggy's - confectionery of any kind was usually involved in any visit to her home. She had two lodgers, a brother and sister and she provided them with full board all the years they lived with her. The sister, the headmistress at a local primary, died when I was about eight but her brother, the editor of a local evening paper, stayed with my grandmother until she too died. Every meal is her house was an occasion, whether it was an everyday breakfast or someone's birthday.
My grandmother believed in God. Every day she would rise at 5.30am and sit reading her Bible until 6am when she would start peeling the vegetables for the day's meals. One of her loves was music and when she acquired a gramophone - courtesy of one of her lodgers - the first record she bought was a part recording of Wagner's Tannhäuser. It was played regularly for years. She would have enjoyed the Parsifal.