Do you have a mask, father?

Our kettle has been slowly dying. The automatic switch off has decided not to switch on which means I have to either stand, holding the switch down or put something weighty on it. Obviously the former won’t work because watch pots never boil, so…

A while ago, an order of gin turned up and included, in the beautifully made cardboard tubes, four squares of composite wood used to protect the bottles. I have found them excellent for the gardener’s coffee cups outside. It seems they have another very effective use.

The beauty of the squares is that they are heavy enough to hold the switch down yet light enough to be bounced off by the boiling action in the kettle. Which was all well and good but, basically, we needed a new kettle. Which arrived today.

The old kettle was consigned to the rubbish. Which, pretty much describes Alresford Town Football Club’s performance tonight.

This was my third game barracking for the home team. My unbroken (though decidedly small) record was smashed to smithereens when Hamworthy finished the worthy 0-4 winners. It was fortunate that Nicktor bought both his boys tonight because otherwise I think the night would have been far from particularly enthralling.

Also, I managed to get a photo of Nicktor and the way he watches football these days.

Having seen James last week, it was great seeing him again and Matt this week. Actually I haven’t seen Matt for ages so that was a nice catch-up.

Obviously we started in a pub (the Bell Inn) where Matt demonstrated his ability to drink a pint quicker than is normally required. I guess he was very thirsty.

Then, on the way back to the football ground, Nicktor insisted that he wanted to buy three tons of hot chips from a fish and chip shop. Matt also wanted vast quantities of deep fried potato. As we approached the shop, James asked, in a very plummy Surrey-type accent, “Do you have a mask, father?” To which Nicktor triumphantly withdrew well-used mask from his pocket.

It made me wonder why it is thought necessary to wear a mask to get hot fish and chips. There is a counter separating customer from fryer and, probably, a perspex screen. Why is this necessary? And, more importantly, why do people do it? I guess it gives people some sort of comfort during this time of The Great Fear, as I’m going to start calling it.

But, back at the football ground, we met Fat Andy who is not particularly fat but is named Andy. I’d never met Fat Andy before, but he proved an entertaining addition to our little band. Actually, the whole social aspect of going to the football tonight was splendid. And thoroughly enjoyed. This is due to Andy, Nicktor, James and Matt all behaving, more or less, normally. Even in the midst of crazy pointlessness.

Just in passing, and as a weird way to finish this post, following a discussion about goats in olive trees (which Nicktor and I have seen) Nicktor told a story of when he had to go and collect three pints of fresh milk from a dairy. Declaring that fresh milk from a cow is spectacularly delicious, he told us how he drank all three pints on the way home.

While not that impressive as a story, I thought it eerie that when I reached home and looked on Flicker, I spotted a very interesting photo. Perhaps this was a very young and fresh faced Nicktor and a lady friend, out on the town in days gone by.

Today, this happened

Tonight in Mexico, in 1810, a group of armed men paid a visit to the Dolores sheriff, demanding that he release a load of prisoners. They succeeded in freeing 80. This action was ordered by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753-1811), a great Mexican hero who was called Zorro at school.

Miguel was a Spanish Roman Catholic priest who ended up being not just a leader during the Mexican War of Independence but also came to be known as the Father of the Nation.

He moved to Dolores in the 1790’s and was amazed at the richness of the soil. He decided he would teach the poor how to grow food. Both the Spanish import/export people and the wealthy of Dolores thought this was a bad idea. They, after all, wanted to keep it all to themselves.

Don Miguel gave an impassioned speech, pleading with people to join his cause, using the old ‘the lot is mightier than the few’ argument. Afterwards, he was a bit concerned with being arrested which is why he sent his brothers and a few other supporters to free the prisoners on 15 September 1810.

The next day he gave another rousing speech (it became known as the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores)) which resulted in him gathering together an army of 90,000 poor farmers and leading them into battle.

At first everything went well. He roamed across Mexico preaching about freedom and killing people. Or, rather, his army killed people. Obviously, being a man of God, Miguel wouldn’t have killed anyone.

However, all good things and all that, his untrained army ran into 6,000 professional Spanish soldiers. The farmers saw the writing on the wall and decided, being poor and alive was better than being poor and dead. A lot of them ran away.

Still leading a rapidly diminishing army, Miguel was taken prisoner at Norias de Baján (the Wells of Baján), beaten up a bit then executed.

At his execution, Miguel said “Though I may die, I shall be remembered forever; you all will soon be forgotten.” This turns out to be true because no-one remembers who killed him but the whole of Mexico knows Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.

Interestingly, while Miguel is heralded as the Father of the Nation, it was another chap, Agustín de Iturbide, who was the man responsible for winning the war which gave Mexico freedom from Spain.

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