I took the train up to Birmingham New Street. It was already packed when it arrived at Malvern and, when it pulled out of Worcester, it was standing room only to Brum. The German Christmas Market is on in the pedestrian precinct and there was something on at the Arena as well. So Brum was very busy. I walked through the market stalls and came to a standstill by a stall which was selling German cakes - listed in English. Now if there is anything I am partial to, it is kasekuchen - not the inferior English product but a true German one. So I asked if the cheesecake on their list was really kasekuchen and could I see it? And yes it was so, we have kasekuchen waiting for suppertime!! The other real oddity is that they had a singer and a band at the top of the Town Hall steps, right by the Floozy in the Jacuzzi and he was belting out Der Tannenbaum with a lot of oompahs from the band.
One result of rearranging the book collection is that I have come across several books I had forgotten about and have put aside to read. So I read The Mediaeval Manichee on the train. I remembered visiting Mont Segur, the last stronghold of the Cathars in France where hundreds of them burnt themselves alive in 1244 rather than be taken prisoner by the Catholics. It is in the middle of a forest. The sort of thing we don't have in the UK any more, miles and miles of rocky hills covered in thick forest. When we got there, Mont Segur is on top of a high rocky outcrop where no trees can grow and you have to clamber up a very steep path to get there. So we got out of the car (no one else there at all) and looked vertically up to the fortress. All around were hills covered in forest. No other sign of any people at all, no houses, no cars. And what was worse, it was totally silent. No birds sang. As if the land could remember the calamity and was still weeping for it.