Knuts Party, or Death of Christmas

A Knuts Party or Knut’s Dance is a tradition in Sweden (and apparently now in Hackney) on St Knut’s Day (13th January) which marks the end of Christmas and the festive season. It is also known as “Dancing Out Christmas” or “Throw Out The Tree”. We have at home long celebrated the end of the…

Pap and Gruel and Invalid Foods

I read a lot of old novels during lockdown when I was on furlough, and they have reminded me that there are a lot of traditional sickbed foods designed to help you recover from illness which you don’t hear much about any more.

I’m not talking about the really nutty stuff like using salted owls flesh to treat gout or mixing ox gall and urine to relieve sciatica – I mean just classic invalid nourishments which have been used for centuries.

Can they still do us good today and help us get through this pandemic, which will be going on for a while despite what people say?

Lets check in with some medical doctors, and see what they think.

Fight the Flu

Would you like to glow with health and vitality? Does this seem impossible to you under the current conditions? If you’ve been feeling flabby, ill, or exhausted, read on. You are not alone. I’ve been talking to Dr Nathan Curran, who doesn’t think it has to be that way. He’s here to help us get…

Last night I dreamed I went to the charcuterie house again…

On they walked and walked, till suddenly they came upon a strange cottage in the middle of a glade.    “This is chocolate!” gasped Hansel as he broke a lump of plaster from the wall.    “And this is icing!” exclaimed Gretel, putting another piece of wall in her mouth. Starving but delighted, the children…

How To Throw A Swedish Crayfish Party or Kräftskiva

Sweden is an unusual country. What happens there is this. Most of the year they exist in a black dark. A few months of the year the sun is out all the time, even at midnight. At this time all Swedes shut up shop and go to stay in little red box houses on the…

I’m Fondue You

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the natural birth of fondue was long ago in remote Alpine huts when, snow-bound and with only stale bread crusts and cheese rinds left to eat, some genius melted the cheese, added a dash of home-made kirsch to stave off the cold, and created one of the most…

Dancing Lions & Lucky Lettuce

This is the time of the year the terrible Nian comes out of the dark to feed, and roams the neighbourhood looking for vulnerable people it can snap up and crunch down. The Nian was originally indigenous to rural China and was close to extinction in the 1800’s, but over the years has interbred with…

Halloween – the poet, the witch and the eel

Halloween is a night when witches, devils, and other mischief-making beings are all abroad on their baneful midnight errands. This year was no exception, at our dark shrouded hovel. But why am I talking about it, when I should be poeming about it? Up in old East London Things roam on claw’d feet We dare…

Killing the Corn-Spirit or Hello, Dolly!

In the village of Siddington in Cheshire in the shadow of the monolithic radio telescopes of Jodrell Bank, lives a gentleman with an unusual hobby. Raymond Rush makes corn dollies, and at Harvest Festival time decorates the local church with over 1,000 of these sinister pagan relics. In his workshop next to an old hand…

Bunny Chow & Pinch Punch

Saying “Pinch punch” and spitefully poking somebody or just saying “White rabbits!” before midday on every 1st of the month is a popular folk tradition whose origins have become hazy with the passing of time. Almost nobody remembers now that the “pinch punch” was a symbolic blow to cast out evil spirits from people around…