Get 'stuffed' this Thanksgiving, along with some cello
This weekend I'm one of the lucky ones who gets to spend a bit of time in my family 'bubble', eating dinner and taking a bit of time to relax and shoot the breeze. I'll also be playing a wedding by the sea, with my protective armour of long underwear and wooly items packed underneath and around my fancy black dress. My fingers are already crossed for the warmest weather October can muster. And speaking of muster (does that word make anyone else wonder about ketchup and relish?), I am starting to think about the warm lentils we're bringing to dinner today. They come coated in a salty red wine vinegar and mustard dressing, which makes them irresistible. It's a slippery slope- if you eat the lentils, you really need to compliment them with a glass of Pinot Noir. Once you've had some Pinot, then you should sample the roasted vegetables, in which case you may as well try the mashed potatoes, gravies, stuffings... oh my! You see? But where was I? The stuffing. It got me thinking about writing this Thanksgiving email, which got me preparing some Bach, which got me thinking about being stuffed, which got me thinking about the meaning of such an expression... bear with me, I'll sort it all out. Just keep reading.
Let me explain by starting with the title of this post. Although we don't really use it in Canada, I've watched enough British television (Midsomer Murders, anyone?) to know the expression "get stuffed" and to associate it with a good measure of anger, frustration and insult. I'm sure it has particularly rude origins, but today it has a milder meaning which translates to 'get lost'. As it turns out, depending on who you're talking to, to get or be 'stuffed' can have several different meanings. The first I'd heard of this was from my mother, who likes to tell stories about the days when our family lived in Scotland. At the time I was just a bairn, so I have no memory of it myself, but the story goes that some woman, somewhere, said she was stuffed, and the next thing you know, congratulations were offered, champagne poured, cigars lit. Okay, perhaps that's a wee exaggeration, but the point is, in Scotland you're not full of Turkey, you're having a baby! In Australia, to be stuffed means to be tired or broken down. In France, they have the word bourré or bourrée, which means to be full or drunk!
Which brings me to Bach. Certainly, Bach ate too much from time to time- have you seen his portly portrait? And no question he enjoyed more than a drink or two, after all, the man was sometimes PAID in beer! He also knew how to make enemies and once got thrown in the slammer for taking up a duel. So there is no question Bach got stuffed in every sense of the word. I think we can even sort of count pregnancy, considering the man had twenty-two children. However, it's not Johann Sebastian's temper or indulgences that got me thinking about all of this, but that French word bourrée. You see, the suites are THE most famous music for unaccompanied cello, if not the most famous cello music of any kind. Since they are for SOLO cello, they also make perfect pandemic music and something I've enjoyed sharing with you each month. So far I've played the Prelude and the Sarabande movements to Suite 3. It gave me the idea to do more of the third suite so my audience can eventually have all movements in their inbox. So with this in mind, I opened my book of suites to number 3, and look what I found!
What kind of stuffed are you this weekend? Full from too much dinner? Tired and broken down? Into the Pinot Noir? No matter where you are or what you're up to, I hope you relax and find joy in whatever the moment has to offer you. Thanks for reading, and without further ado, here is Bourée 1 and 2 from J.S. Bach's brilliant Suite No. 3 for Solo Cello.