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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Yule Do
I didn't get to do my Little Women thing at the shelter on Christmas morning after all. It turned out that far too many cooks had turned up for the available broth, and so I was shunted on to general duties. In my case that meant three hours opening and shutting the door that divided the kitchen, storerooms, offices, etc. from the big day room where the guests were, and making sure none of the latter wandered 'back stage'. Ironically, I spent Christmas morning literally shutting the door in the faces of the homeless.

Not that they seemed to mind, and a full English was had by all. I quite enjoyed it, actually, despite having to stand in close proximity to a misplaced apostrophe ("Guest's" for "Guests'") far longer than is safe for a pedant. After a while, I began to cast myself in various gatekeeperly roles: I spent some time as Janus, the Dunsinane Porter, St Peter and assorted psychopomps. "I am the still point of this turning world," I told myself. "Stability and salaries lie behind me, before me the abyss."

But after a while the two looked much the same.

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Happily the only relevant aspect of appearance was the presence or absence of a volunteer badge: no badge, no entry. Though some of the guests certainly conformed to the rough sleeper stereotype (think of the cover of Jethro Tull's Aqualung), many did not; and conversely some of the volunteers were a bit scruffy (viz. yours truly), so without that I'd have been at a loss.

In kitchen training a lot of emphasis was placed on keeping the kitchen (and its staff) separate from the guests, so as not to spread infections and other nasties, especially as many homeless people have pretty poor immune systems.

You could have pictured yourself as whoever it is who shuts the door of the House of Commons in the face of Black Rod (who, if not homeless, is perhaps gormless).

After I first read about that little ceremony, Conan Doyle's Musgrave Ritual no longer seemed so bizarre.

Indeed, I missed a trick there! I like that ceremony - though of course I wish they'd keep the doors of the Commons shut against the undemocratic stoats ermines and weasels without.

I spent some time as Janus, the Dunsinane Porter, St Peter and assorted psychopomps.

Oh, lovely! Not the the Master Doorkeeper of Roke?


Ah, that's who the back of my mind was trying to think of!

Ooh, yes - I should have thought of him. I did however briefly consider the keeper of the bridge in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

And throw the guests off the bridge if they got the capital of Abyssinia wrong or flubbed their favourite colour? 😊