The 16th October has been a day tinged with sadness for the last four years, as it is the anniversary of the death of one of my very dear friends. I wrote about Emily, and in particular some bookish memories, on this date last year, so I won't repeat myself too much again. Like last year, the best way to remember Emily seems to be to do something with Earl Grey tea, and fortunately I have had a slightly better experience than with last year's Earl Grey biscuits which I described in the comments on that blog post as "the consistency of lego bricks". This year, I contemplated some Earl Grey cupcakes, from my Primrose Bakery Cupcake book, but I'm not a huge cupcake fan, so when I discovered a recipe for a prune and earl grey tea bread, I thought I'd give that a go! It sounds a bit healthy, but spread with unsalted butter, it had a rather delicate flavour. The recipe came from Martin Dorey's Camper Van cookbook which I shall write about more in due course, as I've tried another fabulous recipe from it.
More excitingly, I managed to find decaffeinated earl grey tea-bags which I used in the recipe; I've not drunk caffeine for over three years now which has put off the consumption of earl grey in Emily's memory, so I shall be making a cup of that in a mug which I gave to Emily, and which her Mum gave back to me to remember her by.
In addition, I can report that I've now raised over £1500 with this year's epic swim, which added to the money raised last year with a less epic swim, means I've raised £3000 for Mind, the mental health charity, in her memory.
Emily liked singing, and I remember her encouraging me to join the choral society at the boys school down the road from our school in my last year at the sixth form, where I sang my first big choral work, Haydn's Nelson Mass - an absolutely terrific piece of music. Later on, when I was at university, Emily encouraged me to audition for the city choir when I discovered that they were rehearsing the Nelson Mass. So, finding out that one of my favourite choral composers, John Rutter, was running a singing day on 16th October, less than 2 miles from my house at the college where I used to work, and that the day would include a performance of his Requiem, I decided that it would be a wonderful way to mark the day, and I'm shortly off to celebrate my memories of our friendship, whilst wishing her peaceful rest from the difficult years that led to the end of her life.
Mazo de la Roche’s Whiteoak Brothers (1954)
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