December 2020 NEWSLETTER No 9

Hi Everyone,

Very best wishes to you all.

Some of our friends from the Café have had very sad times, losing loved ones and illnesses. It is a worrying and distressing time for so many people. We all send our love and best wishes to you.  We are all thinking of you and hope that soon we can meet again. Being locked down is not easy is it?

The Café along with the rest of the World is going to be very different, if and when, the various vaccines allow us to come together again.  I certainly miss the coffee. The biscuits and cake are probably a good thing to miss out on. Most of all it’s the company we miss, it’s such a happy, friendly welcoming place to visit twice a week. It has become part of the lives of so many of us. Whilst walking around I have enjoyed bumping into, well greeting at a safe distance, ‘people from the Café’, usually Rita. Perhaps like some other people, I’ve discovered walking for the sake of it, for the first time. Slowly, very slowly, I’m actually beginning to enjoy it.  Until lock down I wondered what legs were for.  People keep telling me about the birds they’ve seen. I’m so busy making sure that I don’t fall over, again, I unfortunately don’t see the birds. There are lots of super walks around Alcester in addition to the one Kirsty recommended in Newsletter No 6.  Fortunately, there are some short walks on hard surfaces, for winter, around Alcester.

Many of us will remember difficult times from our childhood. I was born in Coventry, my sister was 80 on November 15th, she was born the night Coventry was blitzed.  She said on her recent Zoom birthday party, we grew up not knowing anything different. Now we are all missing better times, like our parents must have done then. Growing up in and after ’The War’ in retrospect, must have been difficult. On a cheerful note, I’ve been reading, on Kindle of course, “Growing up in the 1950’s”, by Paul Feeney. I sit there reading and suddenly think, “I remember that and ………’.  Things really jog my memory. Which Primary teachers, influenced you?  Easy, Miss Beasley and later Miss McIntyre. Miss Beasley had taught my sister and Mum liked her, so how could she not provide a wonderful experience of starting school. We were having our nap the afternoon Mum had all her teeth out for a set of false ones.  Do you remember people doing that? I dreamed of Mum in pain, was sick and had to be taken home for Mum to look after me rather than herself. Miss McIntyre went to see the Passion Play in Oberammergau, when I went to ‘her’ Town a couple of years ago, I thanked Miss McIntyre for telling me go, literally giving me permission, to travel. Except for my Dad coming from Ireland, the only other person in my family who had been abroad, was Uncle Alf and he’d been to the Somme and Ypres. The author of the book of course talks about telephones, when I was 12, we had a party line, do you remember them. When I was 10, outside the Head’s Study, I was being good, not bad, his phone rang and he said, “go and answer that please.”  Answer the phone! This was the first time I’d ever touched a phone, let alone spoken into one.  Not something many kids in the UK would say today. I’m still not keen on phones.

Just wonder how much of a conversation starter the book could make. Make a change from Monopoly or Jigsaws. Asking each other to recall memories. It would also be relatively easy to make a sort of ‘quiz’ from this engaging book.

Q. Who was Muffin the Mule’s human ‘friend’? Who was her brother and my own question, her niece?
A. Annette Mills, (Sir) John Mills and Hayley Mills.

Q. What were the arrangements in your family for having a bath?
A. Mine, on a Friday evening, one after another in the same water, in a tin tub,

Q What sort of toilet tissue did you us? Was the ‘lav’ inside the house, or outside, communal or just yours?
A. Ours was outside, just ours and cut up copies of the Daily Mirror, no soft Andrex for us.

Q. Who had a ‘kiss curl’? What was his famous film called? Did you jive in the aisle?
A. Bill Hayley, Rock Around the Clock, (I went to the Lyric Cinema with Jill …… and she bought me a bag of chips afterwards. Could things get better?). Like to think that I jived, but don’t think I did.

Q. When did Mary Quant’s shop open? What was it called?  Where was it?
A. 1950 (that surprised me), Bazaar, Kings Road, Chelsea. (In the early 1960s I often walked past, it already seemed small and part of an earlier time.)

Q. Name of the group John, Paul and George played before the B………?
A. The Quarrymen.  Which Alcester resident played with the famous four.  Have to find that out for yourselves!

Q. Who remembers the launch of ‘the mini’? Who was the designer?
A. 1959, (Sir) Alec Issigonis.

Q. In which film did we hear the ‘Colonel Bogey March’?
A. Bridge over the River Kwai. (Released October 1957)

Q. Who remembers going to ‘Saturday Morning Pictures’?
A. I did, highlight of the week. I cannot remember the name of the cinema. 

Good Christmas Quiz?

Son in law Graeme’s Pea and Mint Soup.
450g bag of frozen peas800ml hot water, straight from the kettle.
1 tbsp of vegetable bouillon powder or vegetable stock cube or stock pot.Small handful of chopped fresh mint to serveCream to serve if you want it.
Tip the frozen peas into a blender, pour over the hot water. Leave peas to defrost. Reserve 1 tbsp of peas to serve.Add handful of chopped mint and the vegetable powder/paste.Blitz the mixture until smooth.  Heat the soup and then add the handful of pear, remaining mint and optional cream and serve.

 Paul Hollywood’s Treacle Sponge Pudding. Sent by daughter Rebekah
Serves 6 (Rebekah says for three if they are brother in law Graeme and my grandsons, Rory and Coby)
A rich recipe that combines the Scottish love of treacle with the English love of golden syrup to give you the best of both worlds. A very simple recipe that just needs a little time for steaming.

115g golden syrup
1tbsp black treacle
100g unsalted butter, well softened
100g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
110g self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder

  1. Butter a 1 litre pudding basin.  Spoon 50g of the golden syrup into the bottom of the basin.
  • Put the remaining syrup into a large bowl and add all the other ingredients. Beat together using an electric whisk: start off slowly, then gradually increase the speed and mix for 2 minutes until all the ingredients are well combined. Pour the mixture into the pudding basin, on top of the golden syrup.
  • Place a piece of baking parchment over a sheet of foil and make a large pleat in the middle, folding both sheets together (this allows for the pudding to expand as it cooks). Put the parchment and foil on top of he pudding basin, foil-side up and secure with string, looping the end of the string over the top of the pudding and tying it to form a handle that will enable you to lift the pudding in and out of the saucepan.
  • Put the basin in a larger streamer, cover and steam for 1¼ hours, topping up the boiling water if necessary so it doesn’t boil dry. (If you don’t have a steamer, stand the basin in a large saucepan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the basin, then cover the pan with the lid and simmer for 1¼ hours, topping up the water as necessary.)
  • Remove the pudding basin from the pan, take off the foil and parchment and run the tip of a small, sharp knife around the edge of the pudding to help release it. Invert a large plate over the top of the basin and then turn both over to unmould the pudding. Serve piping hot with custard, or cream.

KIT and Carers’ Zoom Groups.

Both groups have continued to meet, Carers’ on the first Friday and third Tuesday of each month.  Anyone who would like to join KIT should contact Carole and me for the Carers’.  You will be very welcome.

Christmas Hamper:

Di Gittus has very kindly donated a Christmas Hamper.  Eileen will put the names of all of our carers and KIT group in a ‘hat’ and one lucky person will win the hamper which will be delivered early December.

*Eileen has drawn the lucky winner who is Margaret Lampard.  The event was filmed by Kirsty and hopefully you’ll be able to see it here.

Flu Jab and other Jabs:

Following last month’s reminder, has everyone had their flu jab? Hopefully we’ll soon to able to queue up for a co-vid jab. Seems first time there’s an advantage in being old(er).

Volunteers Christmas Coffee Morning.

Committee are arranging a coffee and biscuits Zoom meeting for our wonderful group of   Volunteers on Friday 11th December for about 30 mins, from 1100. Carole and Kirsty will be sending out joining invitations nearer the time.

Orchestra of the Swan.

Release videos every other week and can be accessed on:

Victoria Wilson.

We enjoy some super people who visit and perform for us.  Many of us remember Victoria Wilson a wonderful singer, who has been many times to the Café.
She has kindly sent us a message wishing us well and hoping that we all have a happy Christmas.  She is looking forward to joining us at the Café as soon as possible.

Victoria is thinking of making a small pre-recorded show to put online.  While we are waiting, we can try,
Web:, Facebook: torawilsonmusic, Twitter: VicSopCabaret where examples of her wonderful singing can be found.


Carole has suggested asking Alexa* to play music.  Apparently ask her to play 1950 or 1960’’s music or whatever.  In a friend’s house I asked; ‘Where’s Chris Brannigan”. Alexa said, ‘he’s dead’. I haven’t spoken to her since.

*for anyone who doesn’t know who Alexa is, can I suggest you ask a 10 year old?

Previous Newsletters have made lots of good suggestions, have a look for ‘Newsletters’ on our website:

Bye for now keep safe and hopefully we will meet again soon.  Although Christmas 2020 is going to be very different to any other, hopefully we will still be able to enjoy ourselves. 

Happy Christmas to everyone

Chris Brannigan