Thursday, January 8, 2009
Patrick Swayze, Parisian Tunnels
We saw the interview with Patrick Swayze last night. He sure doesn't look too well, but on the other hand he is mostly very bright, cheerful and determined. Quite dynamic in fact. He has pancreatic cancer which is, apparently, one of the worst forms of cancer (I wasn't aware of that). Patients are not expected to survive many months and Patrick has already survived a year during which time he has made a TV series called The Beast which no-one thought he could manage. I had seen ads for the programme but didn't realise he was in it. Barbara Walters asked him if he had any sense of when he was going to die which produced a somewhat emotional reaction, understandably. She also asked his wife whether she was prepared to live without him. They have been married 33 years. Seem to be an unusual couple for show business; very happy together. He is talking about making a sequel for The Beast. I was very impressed by his attitude and I wish more people could be so positive when threatened by this life altering disease, I firmly believe a positive attitude helps. I always remember a friend in the States who was told he had lung cancer, he died then and there although the doctors had told him two years minimum, but he just gave up and lived a miserable existence until it actually happened. The Swayzes also said how hard it was when the papparazzi have him at death's door or keeep announcing how soon he is going to die. It takes away hope for his loved ones. Way to go Patrick, long may you continue your fight. We also watched a fascinating programme about all the tunnels underneath Paris. The tunnels were started by the Romans quarrying for stone to build; a large amount of Paris is built of the stone from the tunnels, including Notre Dame cathedral. According to the programme, there are miles of tunnels which nobody knows about with the exception of a particular group of people who explore them illegally and who leave pretty good paintings and graffiti on the walls. They entered through a disused railway tunnel where a hole has been knocked into the tunnel wall. The presenter was underground for 8 hours. No thank you. Then there are the catacombs with literally millions of human bones stacked into huge piles which have to be attended to regularly as they are not stable. The bones came from graveyards when they ran out of room for them. The pagans used to cremate, but Christianity said no. Nobody knows who's bones they are any more. These catacombs are visited by tourists. Then there are aqueducts running under Paris, which were also started by the Romans. There are more tunnels where both the Germans moved in to use as bomb shelters and unbeknownst to them, where the French resistance fighters had a base. They recently uncovered the cellar of an old beer brewery too. There is a rumour the French taught the Germans how to make beer. I wonder how true that is? Over the centuries they have had problems with subsidence and had to send in workers to shore up the tunnels. Obviously it was a dangerous job and workers got injured or killed. Because the nearest hospital was too far, they built a hospital over the entrance. Notre Dame stands over the top of the tunnels too, on an island where once stood a Roman temple. We were assured that large areas of the tunnels are completely unknown to the average Parisian but are regularly visited by "urban spelunkers". We had more of that white stuff last night which means the roads are bad again. Matt had to take the car in to the garage this morning as it is still playing us up. Otherwise we will "hunker down" and keep warm today. Here is yet another Weight Watcher recipe from my old cookbook. Cooked lamb is not something we have hanging around very often, but if and when we do, this is a very tasty dish. Persian Spiced Lamb Weight Watchers - a way of life Serves 2 1/2 small onion, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic 4 oz. tomatoes, roughly chopped 12 oz cooked lamb 1/4 tsp each of the following: ground allspice, mace, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, salt 4 fl. oz. chicken or beef stock 1 dessert apple, cored and finely chopped 1/2 tsp powdered turmeric 6 oz. cooked rice 1 lemon. Place the onion in a non stick pan with the crushed garlic, roughly chopped tomatoes and the meat, cut into small cubes. Mix together the spices and stir into the meat mixture. Add the stock, heat gently and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the apple. Fork the turmeric powder into the cooked rice until evenly coloured and put the rice onto a serving dish. Heap the lamb in the centre and serve with lemon slices. Have a great day.