Autumn writings – Of Christians (with that name) Cabbages and Manure

12th November 

Incoherent ramblings on those Christians with a Christian name and cabbages and the best time spread manure on your garden.

‘Tis St Christian’s Day, that day we celebrate all those with the name Christian and not just a Christian name, though Christian is both. As I walk to work on this cold and foggy autumn morning, the world smalls of cabbage and manure – most strange. I hope this will not be a manure and cabbage day. As I finally arrive at my place of work, the cabbage smell becomes a veritable nauseous stench. How can anyone eat a vegetable that smells so bad?

The cabbage pong is coming from the canteen kitchens at my work. It is barely 8am and yet the kitchen staff are already cooking up cabbage – what is it going to be like at 12 when everyone heads for lunch?

Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli – anything of a cabbage ilk, just stinks. Had I the power to do so,  I would legislate to ban the  « public cooking ».of such veg.  I daresay there is something in the Geneva protocol on chemical weapons that might help me argue my case.

It is not simply the vile stench of such veg when it cooks, it is also the after effect – have you ever been in close proximity to anyone who had Brussels or cabbage for lunch when they let rip? – Some kind of independent breathing apparatus is required.

Has this got anything to do with Christian? History recalls that Christian was a cook in an XIth century Polish monastery – if the same site is correct he is also the patron Saint of Poland, and the Poles are reputed for their cabbage-based cuisine. I can only assume that they are cooking up cabbage in the work canteen in honour of St Christian’s day.

This still doesn’t explain the pungent pong of fresh manure in the morning air. . I guess that a few local gardners have been just a little too over zealous in their muck spreading.

« When is the best time to spread manure?» I typed into my search engine

« Early autumn » was the advice from one gardening website adding too that the best time of day was early morning.

Next question (that I haven’t found an answer for) « Who gets up at dawn on a cold and foggy autumn morning to spread manure on their garden?

Back to names

I have a couple of mates called Christian so Christian is their Christian name, out here in France though, you can’t have a Christian name, because we are a staunchly secular republic – therefore on official forms the nation’s administrators just ask for « prénom(s) » meaning first name or names.

France though, despite the separation between Church and state, is still a predominantly Christian country and those names that are of Christian origin are officially known as « nom biblique » or Biblical name, not that you will ever find this term on an official form, and talking of forms, it is illegal in France for any form to feature questions asking about a person’s religion or ethnic origin, though it is not illegal on the form to ask if a person likes cabbage.

And the reason I hate cabbage goes all the way back to my primary school days, where school dinners were so bad that even the rats scampering round the kitchen door would not eat them. Nothing quite as bad as institutional mass cooked food. I’m just wondering, which is worse, school food or hospital food.

So, every Wednesday the school lunch was a rock hard roast potato, a wafer thin slice of fatty roast beef and a huge dollop of nauseating, over cooked, slimy stinking green cabbage (I can smell it even as I write and the very thought makes me want to vomit.) And of course we had a huge dollop of cabbage because – « It is good for you » – boomed at us poor cowering kids by the equally dollopy Miss C (she was pretty gross in the weight stakes).

If you couldn’t eat everything that was on your plate (which generally meant everything) – you would in a very Dickensian manner shuffle up to the front of the dining hall and in mousey Oliver Twist tones, utter the phrase « Miss, I don’t want anymore » and Miss C would Bellow back Beadle like « WHAAAAAAT !!!??? » before embarking on a long lecture about poor emaciated African children dying of hunger, who would be glad to eat what we wanted to throw in the slops bowl. So, back down we would sit with orders to eat what was on our plate or there would be no playtime for us after lunch.

I never had the courage to say it, but

« Well Miss, if little African children want this stuff, you can bag it up and send it to them. »

Not so sure that starving little African kids wouldn’t have preferred to remain starving rather than eat the crap we had to eat at school.

And so concludes this rambling and incoherent post on Christians and cabbages.

Ps – I hope the manure isn’t going to used in the growing of cabbages.