If I can’t give up the papacy or my throne, what should I give up for Lent?

First is was Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands and now it’s Pope Benedict XVI, I don’t know, which elderly leader is going to pack up next? Hopefully President Robert Magabe of Zimbabwe. Still reeling with the news that Benedict is giving up the papacy for Lent and that he’s not even coming back after Easter, sent my mind racing because I’d forgotten that today is Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras  – unfortunate but no nonsense translation Fat Tuesday – and tomorrow is Ash Wednesday when we have to raid the fireplace for some soot to put on our foreheads and decide what we are going to give up for Lent. Well I have no crown to give up like Beatrix and Benedict – has anyone else noticed that they have the same names the lead characters in Shakespeare’s  Much Ado About Nothing (1598/9) and is that significant? I thought not. I’ve no crown to give up maybe, except the gold one in my mouth, but today, Shrove Tuesday, is a day not just to shrive (confess our sins) but to eat up all those rich foods in the larder. I must be too much a product of our times but the traditional use of pancakes to use up all those luxury goods sounds a bit lame these days. Don’t get me wrong, I like eggs, milk, butter and lemon juice too but even in austerity Britain, those ingredients do sound kind of everyday.

I wondered if I should be making more of an effort to turn today into something much more worthy of the title Fat Tuesday so I looked round the house for some luxuries to use up before tomorrow dawns and I have to go looking for some sackcloth to wear along with my sooty face.

Chocolates perhaps……

…some Turkish Delight……

….I still see fruit as a luxury too…..

…and there’s my friend Dawn’s  jar of Seville Orange marmalade – delicious…..

…not many walnuts left after Christmas….but three will do….

…some smelly cheese, of course….

..all of that should go well with a bottle of wine…..

…and some Greek olives…but it might be wise to leave the decanters alone.

I don’t know though, I don’t see me giving many of those ingredients up for Lent.

I won’t be giving up these Bolivian coffee beans either….but, hang on….there’s some double cream in the ‘fridge.

Perfect. I’ll indulge with double cream in my coffee for a truly Fat Tuesday and then give up the cream for Lent. You do the same Beatrix and Benedict if you can’t be bothered to toss a pancake.

The perfect music to listen to while drinking my coffee and cream has to be French and what could be more appropriate than the overture that Hector Berlioz (1803 – 1869) wrote for his final opera, based on Shakespeare’s play, Beatrice et Benedict (1858) – played with just the right bounce by Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields. Happy Fat Tuesday everyone but especially to Pope Benedict and Queen Beatrix. Happy retirement, you two – maybe you should get together.


  1. Oh golly gosh! after a browse through your photos it doesn't seem like a good idea to give anything up. i'm all for giving back instead.

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