We have been fed a great deal of information with regard to the seriousness of Covid 19, and I thought I would offer something a little lighter by way of introduction to this month’s letter. I remember a few months ago, prior to lockdown, driving along one afternoon in the car listening to Radio 4. My ears pricked up when the programme featured a vital part of Cornish everyday life. It was all about the famous Cornish pasty. It was quite amusing because it centred on the annual World Cornish Pasty Making Competition held at the Eden Project. I didn’t realise it had been running for 18 years.
The reason it sparked my interest was because for the first six years of our married life, Debbie and I lived in the South West, four years in Devon and two years in Cornwall. We are still in touch with friends from Cornwall, and one of them, Christine, is renowned for her Cornish pasty baking skills. One story I heard while down there, which may or may not be true, was that early pasties would have both a savoury and a sweet element to them. The two sides would be separated by a strip of pastry running through the middle.
The competition, however, had four categories which were, Young People, Amateur, Company and Professional. I have to say listening to one amateur speaking about his radical entry, which included such ingredients as white wine and brie, made me think that Cornish tin miners of old would be aghast at the thought. Needless to say he didn’t win! You may be aware that it is enshrined in law that a Cornish pasty has to be made in the county if it is to be sold as a Cornish pasty. The Cornish are very proud of their pasty-making tradition. It is a vital part of their identity. That’s why there are still numerous family bakers churning them out. Let’s hope they are able to continue in the future once we are through this present situation.
When it comes to Cornish pasties I don’t know if you are a traditionalist or not. Don’t worry the question will not be on the next church council agendas! But the matter did make me think a little bit about the importance of that word, tradition. It is very easy to assume that any tradition is simply something which has always been set in stone from its beginnings – that it something which almost drops in from heaven ready-made. But for something to become established as a tradition means it will often have included over time a process of change and development.
The traditions we have embraced in the Christian church for centuries will include meeting together for Sunday worship, prayer, fellowship, Scripture reading and Holy Communion. We look forward to that time when we can enjoy these things again. But I also wonder if we might be seeing the start of some new traditions being established and becoming a norm in the way we do things, meaning that there may be a far greater lasting connection to social media, enabling us to reach a wider audience at different times, in order to share the good news with those who may never enter our church doors on a Sunday morning. It’s worth thinking about.
Blessings to you all. Keep safe and well.