To be perfectly honest, the timing was a little disappointing. However, when the accurately predicted snow did descend on the little town of Walsall, it did not let us down; there was lots of it. Shame it didn`t fall on Sunday night.
Dispatching children off to their various utterly wonderful seats of learning, each child sniffing the lard coloured sky in the hope of a day off, it seemed that the end of the world had been merely a rumour and the maelstrom had not closed Walsall`s palaces of education and thereby ruin the day`s learning. That job, for now at least, remains with Serco. As the snow continued to fall and realising that the finest examples of academe in our picturesque town would be closing at lunchtime, like Captain Oates I wandered out into the garden in the general direction of the shed where I knew for certain lurked two sledges. It took some time to find them.
Sure enough, just after lunch, the waifs returned bedraggled, wet and frozen following the inevitable closure of their “nourishing mother of studies” and future alma mater studiorum. Dad thawed them out with hot chocolate and toasted bagels with cream cheese then found hats, gloves, scarves and boots. The arboretum was stunning. After such a marvellous afternoon out in the elements, something warming was required for tea.
In a large wok or frying pan, gently fry two finely chopped onions and three or four bashed garlic cloves in olive oil. When the onions have softened, sprinkle with paprika, a splash of sweet chilli sauce and add finely sliced chorizo and three or four cored and sliced red peppers with the seeds removed. I prefer to use a jar of marinated sweet red peppers called Papryka Marynowana, available at a reasonable price from all good Polish delicatessen. The sweetness of the marinade is nicer than the bitterness of fresh peppers. For a vegetarian alternative, substitute chopped sweet potatoes for the chorizo. Stir in tomato puree, chicken or vegetable stock, oregano and some brown sugar. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Allow the soup to cool and then whiz it with a blender. In a separate pan, fry more thinly sliced chorizo, re-heat the blended soup and garnish with the fried chorizo and fresh basil.
To serve, decant the soup into a number of thermos flasks using a funnel if necessary. After stopping to buy some fresh, crusty bread, take the flasks to the Hi`s and Lows Emergency Homeless Shelter at The Crossing at St Paul`s near Walsall bus station. As well as the soup, take jumpers, hats, coats, gloves, socks, toiletries, board games, books, magazines and snacks, tea, coffee, sugar, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, more biscuits and a little bit of human compassion for people forced to sleep out in the snow that the rest of us enjoy playing in.
If you wish to donate, you can contact the Emergency Homeless Shelter by telephone on 0800 917 2069 or 07980 238 203.
In what remains of a civilised society, everyone is entitled to soup and a little bit of understanding.