Tapas and the Edwardians

All my own work…

I spent a very enjoyable day cooking tapas last week. A day away from the pressures of pension scheme funding, book publication and the rest and an opportunity to learn a new skill. I was on a one day course at the Abinger Cookery School and the dishes I produced included braised octopus and chorizo, Andalusian Chicken, Patatas Bravas and spicy meatballs. When I say ‘I produced’ there was a lot of guidance and help from their head chef, Jake Pinn. Needless to say, he didn’t have to help me eat the results – in fact I’d demolished half of it before remembering to take a photo.

The Tapas experience prompted a number of thoughts. First, the sheer variety of cuisines we now take for granted. When I was growing up we were much more insular and foreign food was viewed with suspicion. We’ve come a long way since then, even if some of us seem to want to retreat into insularity again.

The second thought was how varied creativity is. I spend a lot of time writing – plays, poems, the novel – and a lot of time playing music and singing but probably not enough time creating with my hands, or using other senses – taste, smell, sight. A few days later I was at a meeting in Farnham of arts practitioners from across the county and was impressed, as always, by the range of people’s activities and skills and by the projects involving co authorship with people who would not consider themselves creative.

This last was a bit of an antidote to a feeling which has dogged me lately, a sense that we are living in a bubble with is about to burst. A lot has been written about the Edwardian Summer which preceded the First World War and the way that the peace and certainties of the time were shattered by the wartime experience, the trenches, the gas, the devastating mortality rate. As we enjoy a peaceful existence now with access to a range of leisure activities, cuisines, art forms, entertainment and sport, I’m aware of the dire consequences of inactivity on climate change which may be about to shatter our certainties, our lifestyles and our peace.

I am aware of course that there are many who do not share these benefits, don’t have access to all of this, and that is a stain on the way we have moved in the last 40 years, but that was also true in Edwardian times. Creativity can help in both these areas – by communicating, expressing, educating and by involving a wide range of participants, not just the privileged few.

So I’m encouraged – by the artists I met, by the youngsters I saw this morning with their climate protest placards, and by the hope that we can turn all this around. In the meantime I’ll not stop eating the tapas – or celebrating the fact that Blessed Assurance is now out!

Tony Earnshaw

2 Responses to “Tapas and the Edwardians

  • Thank you, Tony, for this. The Edwardian Summer is a perfect analogy.

    • Tony Earnshaw
      5 years ago

      Thank you Jane. It’s been hovering around my mind for a while!