14 Nov

Happy Jewish New Year! Or as those in the know say, shanah tovah! (Bronx accent optional).

I’ve had a three-day weekend and it’s been beeyootiful. I’ve baked something tasty every day – lemon curd and lemon drizzle cake on Saturday, scones on Sunday and fruit cobbler and chocolate cupcakes today. I’ve watched films (Archipelago), bought books (Lampedusa’s ‘The Leopard’), changed my phone contract + phone itself (new Blackberry), visited a whole bunch of family in Leeds (granddad’s 80th), been to my brother’s new student house (on 3rd most-burgled street in Britain, apparently) and sat down and thoroughly analysed Anne Carson’s translation of Catullus’ poem 101.

In the immortal words of Sheldon Cooper, ‘bazinga’.

I’ve also rediscovered just how DAMN AWESOME my copy of Winnie Ille Pu (that’s Winnie the Pooh in Latin) really is. Like, seriously awesome. Here is a small excerpt. It is from ch.1. For a bit of context, Winnie the Pooh is sitting under a tree when he hears something:

Primum secum dixit: ‘Iste bombus aliquid significat. Nullus exstat bombus bombans atque rebombans significatu carens. Si est bombus, est etiam bombans aliquis, et unica causa bombi bombantis, quod equidem sciam est haec: apis esse.’

Postea iterum per longum cogitavit deinde dixit: ‘et unicus finis apium existentiae, quod equidem sciam, est mellificium.’

Deinde exsurrexit et ‘unicus finis mellis conficiendi,’ dixit, ‘est a me sumi.’ Itaque ad summam arboris niti coepit.

Isn’t that excellent? I think it’s excellent. You don’t have to agree if you don’t know any Latin. But if you do know any Latin, go and BUY THE BOOK. The translation is by a v clever chap called Alexander Lenard, and it was written sufficiently long ago that the adulatory reviews for it in the newspapers were themselves written in Latin. In the front of my copy I have written my name in sparkly blue gel pen, and also my form at the time, which was L4 alpha. Yes, I bought a copy of Winnie the Pooh in Latin at the age of 12. Pretentious, moi?

Now this post is about to simultaneously become pleasingly circular and also linked to the title – sort of tear-drop shaped, I suppose. Winnie the Pooh likes honey. And what do Jews eat on New Year? Honey! Yeah! Despite not being bears, nor having anything to do with bears. Honey. For a ‘sweet new year’. And because other bear-pleasing treats, like condensed milk, were not exactly desert-friendly for the Jews of 2000+ years ago.

Anyway, New Year. The funny thing about celebrating Rosh Hashanah as a religious festival, rather than – as is the case with January 1st – an excuse for a piss-up – is that you do actually think about the year in a wider context. Sat in synagogue (well, the Cambridge Guild Hall, because we don’t have a ‘synagogue’ yet), you can actually reflect on where you were 12 months ago, and where you are now. And when you think about a whole year’s worth of stuff you realise that actually, gosh, you’ve got a lot done, and achieved a fair bit, and yes you’ve had your ups and downs, and you will have again, but you’ll always have one day a year where you can think about it all and take stock. It’s like putting on a bracelet for every year of your life, but tying a ribbon around the whole collection – that ribbon is New Year, and what you do with that ribbon, that day to remember, will determine how you approach the next year. Every year you have to untie the ribbon to attach the new bracelet and you can stop and think about the old ones.

The metaphor is getting rather strained now but I hope you get what I’m trying to say. The point is that a year ago I had no degree, no job prospects, no tutor, no plan. Now, despite having what I would probably call the toughest year for me personally of my life, I have all of those things (even the tutor, oddly). So the point of the point is that even if things are going shitly, you may well look back and discover the whole is far, far greater than the sum of its parts.

So I enjoy New Year. Partly because of the honey. But mostly because of the thinking.


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