Eels And Pears Made For A Great Weekend

PUBLISHED: 10:15 07 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:23 04 May 2010

What a vibrant and creative Saturday it was in Ely. I spent most of the day at Eel Day as one of the judges in the Town Crier competition and it was wonderful, once again, to see so many people working hard to keep old traditions alive and encourage commu

What a vibrant and creative Saturday it was in Ely. I spent most of the day at Eel Day as one of the judges in the Town Crier competition and it was wonderful, once again, to see so many people working hard to keep old traditions alive and encourage community spirit in our city. How delightful to watch eel catcher Peter Carter making his eel baskets, the eel throwing competition and the medieval renactment. I am sure I speak for many readers when I say a huge 'well done' to organiser Tracey Harding; the Ely Lions Club, especially Ian Newstead, and our own town crier Avril Hayter-Smith who all worked so hard to ensure the event was such a success.

Last week, I said I was going to try some eel, and I did. I shoved a big piece of eel in my mouth only to find the skin inedible. The fish itself was fine - it tastes a bit like mackerel - but the skin was like shoe leather. I have no idea whether if you chew it for long enough it softens, but after five minutes of turning it around in my mouth I decided to find the nearest bin. Maybe someone can enlighten me on the best way to eat eel.

On Saturday evening I went along to the May Day Concert at Ely Cathedral and it proved to be a spectacular event that I shall remember for a very long time. There is something hauntingly beautiful about hearing children's voices in the cathedral with its amazing acoustics and the Ely Imps and the Ely Cathedral Choir were wonderful. When I saw the publicity photos of Clarinetist Julian Bliss I thought they must have sent us some out-of-date ones as he looked impossibly young to have achieved such a high level of fame, but he is impossibly young and extremely talented. His performance left the audience memorised. I have to mention the Ely Sinfonia, who provided splendid musical accompaniment and also music director and conductor Paul Trepte who held everything together perfectly.

To be perfectly honest, when I received the invitation, I wasn't really sure whether it was really my thing. I do go to a lot of concerts but they are usually the sort of concerts where men with floppy fringes belt out rock music and you have to be careful not to slip on all the beer on the floor, and if you stand too near to the stage you will probably get kicked in the head by a crowd surfer. So on Saturday night, I was taken out of my musical comfort zone and introduced to something new and I enjoyed every moment of it. Many thanks to Lesley AnneThompson and Sally Anne Ford for organising the event and looking after me on Saturday night.

I have spent a lot of time worrying about my poor old mum in the last few weeks and she is still in hospital waiting for her pacemaker to be fitted, but however sad you feel a few kind words or a light moment can make you feel more cheerful and lift your spirits.

A lighter moment I will share with you occurred last week. I took my dad to visit my mum in hospital and the battery in his hearing aid went dead. Dad took the hearing aid out and mum proceeded to tell him, as best she could using a combination of sign language and shouting, where the spare batteries were at home. When it was time for us to leave, mum said she needed dad to bring in some things from home. She was very specific and told him she needed a clean nightdress, some toothpaste and two pairs of clean knickers. As we were walking out the door, she shouted "don't forget my knickers, and remember, TWO PAIRS". I kid you not, the next day my Dad, bless his heart, came to the hospital with a carrier bag containing the nightdress, toothpaste, two pairs of clean knickers and...two pears! It made my mum laugh and it still tickles me now when I think about it. Thanks again for all the kind messages especially this week to the lady from Littleport.

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