Virginia Barton

Reflections on a Lithuanian re-birth

A quietly tenacious people, the obstinate bravery of the Lithuanians has triumphed in the face of what must often have seemed an implacable foe. We of the bulldog breed could yet learn a thing or two from all three Baltic states.

A society that has forgotten caring

The care of the aged, which most often falls on women in their middle age when their children have flown the nest, is demanding and exhausting. One needs the patience of a saint and the strength of an ox, quite apart from endless charity and a robust sense of humour.

Shopping is a monumental experience

Ever since I was thrown out of pottery classes for persistently crying into my clay, I’ve had a weakness for sculpture. The frustration of not being able to make my hands do what my mind so clearly saw, melted into passive admiration.

A musical jungle on the streets

There is nothing much more hopeful than a busker. From time to time (not too often, the public is quickly bored) a young man plays his trumpet outside our branch of Marks & Spencer’s.

Of shells and a winning Junta of Jesuits

Shortly after I saw those shells at the Ashmolean Museum I decided to cook Coquilles Saint Jacques à la bordelaise (scallops in white sauce with a spot of white wine, but it sounds more tempting in French).

Final preparations help ease the funeral pain

A very old friend has her funeral instructions in her desk, and her shroud upstairs in a cupboard. “If you don’t believe in everlasting life, of course death frightens you” she said. Then she quoted the words of Pope John XXIII: “My bags are packed, I’m waiting to be fetched”.

The last night of the Proms

It’s one of those hallowed British customs and everything must stay the same. A move to change anything is fiercely resisted, as when it was suggested that “Land of Hope and Glory” should be thrown out for being too jingoistic, and “Jerusalem scrapped for being too godly. I ask you!

2 August 2013: Mint julep, anyone?

Did Miss O’Hara drink mint julep on the porch while entertaining the doomed Tarleton twins? Where does the name “julep” come from? And how do you make it?

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