Macbeth a tragedy? It’s nothing to lack of gravy

By Charlotte Hofton

Friday, January 10, 2014


Macbeth a tragedy? It’s nothing to lack of gravy

Lord Chamberlain's Men perform Macbeth at Osborne House.

THE VIEW FROM HERE ISN'T life fun just now? Floods, winds, lashing seas, roads blocked, ferries cancelled, Christmas up the spout and, ah yes, that sinister patch of damp on the landing is now starting to drip water.

Best get the roofers in if you can, which you can’t, because they’re all booked up.

Still, look on the bright side. Things could be worse. You could have been at the Christmas dinner held at Freshwater Conservative Club, an occasion of catastrophic proportions outdoing anything the weather has thrown at us.

Think, too, of the great tragedies of history. Pompeii, the rape of the Sabine Women, King Lear — yet none of these was anywhere near as horrific as this ghastly yuletide meal, which left Freshwater Tories "red-faced" and having to apologise for the catering arrangements on its premises.

What about Macbeth, I hear you say? Banquo’s ghost suddenly popping up at the feast and blood all over the place — as meals go, that surely takes some beating.

Well, yes, a nosh-up certainly short on hilarity but Shakespeare never mentioned any lack of gravy.

Gravy. That’s the clincher. Although the meal at the Freshwater Conservative Club had been arranged by a "hiring party and another individual" and was not actually the responsibility of the club itself, it was a fearful embarrassment for the Tory members.

"I have been told the food was late, going out cold, and they even ran out of gravy," said club secretary George Cameron. "People, quite rightly, got upset."

Of course they did, George. And you were absolutely correct to offer compensation and an apology, even though you maintain "it is nothing really to do with the club".

That may be all very well when it comes to legal niceties but we’re talking gravy here. Overcooked Brussels sprouts, lumpy bread sauce, all these are mere bagatelles. But running out of gravy! That’s the last straw.

Why does the secretary imagine these people booked their Christmas meal at Freshwater Conservative Club? Obvious, surely, even to the most dimwitted Tory.

The clue is in the name. Conservative. Synonymous with gravy, you see, George.

The Conservatives are the ultimate gravy party. You only have to look at Eric Pickles to think of rich, slurpy gravy dribbling down his chins. The prime minister’s smooth cheeks speak of Bullingdon Club gravy boats, their contents infused with port wine and truffle oil.

Nor do Tories stop at gravy boats. Many of them are extremely fond of gravy trains, too.

So if nothing else, the club secretary and his fellow members should have ensured a constant supply of gravy for their guests. People expect this when they dine on Tory premises.

The fact the meal was cold and late was neither here nor there. Being cold and late is what we’re all used to with this government and its energy and transport policies.

Should news of the Freshwater Conservative Club’s great gravy fiasco leak out to the nation, it will be all up with the Tories. If they can’t be trusted with gravy, we might as well see what Ed Miliband can do.

He doesn’t look much of a gravy man but he might rustle up some sort of guacamole jus, or whatever it is the Labour chattering classes enjoy.

I see our MP is in choppy waters, with a crucial motion about his political future due to be discussed today (Friday) by the IW Conservative Association.

I suggest he storms into the meeting armed with a portable stove and a stock cube and shows them how it’s done. That may be his only hope.

There are other ways to cut back at Christmas

TAKING down the Christmas cards, I do my customary trawl of the year’s design trends. Robins are holding steady, though sheep are on the rise, particularly if they have snow in their horns.

That pair of creepily saccharine Raphael cherubs sprawled on a sill have, thankfully, all but disappeared but frosted berries remain inviolate.

The three kings are, as ever, popular among not very religious people, as it does the job without having to involve the full-blown Nativity. More horses than Madonnas this year, though baby Jesus just managed to defeat puppies wearing Santa hats.

But they are all very welcome and appreciated and I shall be sorry if the trend continues for people to stop sending cards in favour of giving to charity.

I think this is a pity. Yes, I see the point but sending cards is often a charitable act in itself, showing kindness and friendship and reminding others they are still remembered and loved, even if circumstances have changed.

Christmas doesn’t always come up to expectations and for many, receiving cards and displaying them to cheer their homes is a real boost to their lives.

Charity is important but with parents spending an average of £312 on presents for each child and families splashing out around £133 on Christmas Day food (but throwing away around a fifth of it) perhaps the savings could, without too much sacrifice, be made on other things than the goodwill that cards bring.

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