Yesterday, as on Good Friday last year and the one before, there was a party in my neighbour’s house (the cottage adjoining ours) with food consisting entirely of hot cross buns which she gets up early in the morning to bake. Last year I had thought we would be gone from here by now, having sold the house, but it didn’t turn out that way and perhaps Saint Joseph, patron saint of house-vendors, who is still buried at the front of the house, knew that the time was not right, or that I couldn’t do without the buns. We take in so much more than food at these festivals. Who was it that said, “man does not live by bread alone?” Well you know who, and this is the time of the festival of his death and resurrection, and I could talk about more than buns and the fact that on Sunday we will be eating lamb tagine with couscous and roasted peppers, followed by passion fruit pavlova. But why would I? Except to tell you this terrible, terrible joke about these men who went into a Chinese restaurant and began to have a dispute about whether there were any Jews in China, so when the waiter came to take their order one of them asked if there were any such thing as Chinese Jews and the waiter said, sorry – only orange, apple and pineapple jews. I thank you.
Gawd. Sorry about that, but I do rather like the joke and can picture it quite clearly as happening in a Chinese restaurant in Camden Town where my Dad took me a long time ago on one of our weekend ‘access’ days out. It was the kind of place (and the kind of decade) where people would go in and order spare ribs, which were listed in brackets as “chop” in case people didn’t know what it was, with a side dish of chips. It was so popular that it became known as ‘chip-chop’ (or was it 'chop-chip'?). And I can, as I said, picture the men talking about the various kinds of Jews, the waiter coming, then me bursting in like a completely inappropriate afterthought, holding up my hand and blurting something about Christian Jews. Because people always seem surprised that you can be one as well as the other. Or as badly. The definition of practising? That one is a bit crap at it, I suppose. Happy Easter.