by Lola Kirigin
While the taste of the bitter-sweet funeral service lingers on, another farewell wave from the departure lounge is here given.
His zest for life, with all its pleasures was not limited to his self-indulgent gourmet pallet, albeit extravagant. If his stories were exaggerated, his deeds were even more so.
George’s involvement and generosity, during the building renovation work of the cottage-home which was to become his last, and where Rev. Hugh Thornton was first able to move into followed by Rev. Malcolm Allsop and Christine.
The food passion and cooking style being quite labour intensive, requires much planning and preparation, increasing manifold when catering for many people. This happened repeatedly and on many varied occasions at The Christian Community, from welcoming new or visiting priests into the community, to special events and conferences, he was once addressed as the “Godfather of the African Seminary”. The signature desserts - the appearance of the Pavlova ablaze with an abundance of berries, for an evening New Year’s celebration was his customary contribution gesture of Joy.
He stretched his capacities to the limits, even when he was in and out of hospitals and very debilitated with pain and in his movement. His last advent Fair and the lunch menu of “The Greek Meal” fund-raising event, were incredible. The scale of what he managed to produce, with the help of others, including his carers, no doubt, was nothing short of a miracle, when, with the additional stress of load shedding and the longest time of power cuts ruined much of the carefully prepared filo pastry delicacies. He shared afterwards, how much effort that took, and we laughed about the fact that in most Greek kitchens, as well as restaurants, there is usually a Greek grandmother hiding there, cooking from morning till night, otherwise how would it be possible to do all that, on a regular basis, without becoming a slave to the kitchen.
You had to forgive the jokes in “bad-taste”. He once fibbed, that he had prepared a fish head and miso soup, for a fundraiser meal-sharing event. I naively believed him, in my eagerness to try it, only to realise he was just kidding.
On another community meal-sharing event, he became annoyed with the person who, had remarked on the missing salad dressing, to accompany a meal I had prepared. After giving them a piece of “The George treatment”, that person became remarkably humbled rather than offended, which surprised me.One of his favourite movies, “Babette’s Feast” is a poignant example of what he admired and himself achieved by this art of communal cuisine and nourishment.
Even though he was regarded affectionately by so many, and appeared to be gregarious, he also admitted a difficulty in fathoming people and relationships. He took solace in the more reliable world of gardening. Herbs and greens which appeared in countless community salads and the flowering plants which would not disappoint him, when carefully tended.
I have one such treasure from many years ago which was given to me, by Reingard, after a particularly intensive advent fair event. This pot plant has blossomed every year since, in springtime and unfolds in full bloom at advent time.
In the words of the social verse….
George, your virtues have LIVED, LOVED and continue on, in THIS COMMUNITY !
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