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Searching for Elephants - Episode 4

This week Angus is talking to Emily Kate Brewer, John Hurd, Naz Patel, Beth Jones and Melvyn Nwajei about how they celebrate.

In a weird and wonderful conversation, we talk Fasting, Nut Roasts and the computer game, Football Manager.  

Naz - Hello!

Angus - Hello - and welcome to Searching for Elephants the LifeSearch podcast!

Naz - You can’t hear me breathing, can you?

Angus - You know what you’re right, I can hear you breathing.

Naz -You can? Okay. Hold on.

Angus - Hey Melvin!

Melvyn – Hey how you doing? 

Angus - This week I'm talking to five LifeSearchers: Naz Patel and Melvyn Nwajei, are here with me right now. And Beth Jones, John Hurd and Emily-Kate Brewer should be here shortly.

Naz - Is that better? Melvyn, can you hear me breathing?

Melvyn – No.

Naz - Okay, good.

Melvyn – Why, is hearing somebody breathing bad? It means their alive surely. 

Naz - Well, it's a podcast. I don't want to be like, you know. Exactly.

Angus - And we're going to talk about the end of the year and how we celebrate it. Christmas for most people in Britain. But there's also Hanukkah and lots of other ways to enjoy this festive and happy time.

Naz - Well, Beth, I can't see your face.

Beth - It’s all you’re getting. 

Angus - Hey, Emily Kate. Just waiting for John. Where's John?

John -- Sorry I’m late, people!

Beth - Hey, John.

Angus - Oh, there you are. Just sending you a message. 

John - Sorry.

Emily Kate - Makes a change john.

John - What maybe sorry or being late?

Emily Kate - Both!

Angus - Thank you for all being here today, or being here - for logging on and doing this little podcast. Who's got a quirky Christmas habit that they want to tell me about?

John - I'll go. Mine's not quite. I'm John Hurd by the way. An advisor on Team Adam. I've been here for five years. I was a really, really really, really really, really bad TI when Emily was in charge of me.
Melvyn – You keep saying that? You weren't a bad TI, John.

John - Emily. You wanna?

Emily Kate - No comment.

John - Yeah, yeah. No, I was awful. And now I'm an elite advisor, actually. The weirdest thing I do at Christmas is a more of a demand from wherever I'm having dinner is that I love roast potatoes. And this is gonna be controversial but I hate parsnips. Now my mom… I don't like parsnips, love roast potatoes. My mom in particular will cook the potatoes with the parsnips. That can't happen it should never happen it shouldn't be allowed. So I have to have my potatoes cooked in a separate little tray in the oven.

Angus - What is it about parsnips?

John - I just I don't I don't like mushrooms either. I don't know. I don't like them. Even though they're quite similar potatoes.

Melvyn – See being part of The fairness and diversity Team. I think you've been a bit discriminated. I honestly believe that parsnips should have their place at Christmas.

John - They have no place

Melvyn – Just not on your plate

John - far far away from my plate. I have extra roasties I love roasted potatoes. I love them. 

Emily Kate - Can I just ask why you couldn't pick the parsnips out?

John -They touching and just the juices and the sauce and stuff and whatever the fat and I don’t know what else is in there, there together aren’t they? It's like it's like this. Let's be honest. Again, more controversy here. Hawaiian pizza. What's that? What's that about?

Naz - I have to agree. Hawaiian pizza is ridiculous.

John - Yeah. Do you have grapes with your pepperoni? 

Angus - No but you know what you do have? If you're having like cheese after dinner, my dad loves cheese after dinner. Then you have grapes with that. And it's like it's the sweet with the sour.

Beth - You'd also have gammon with pineapple, or eggs, you know, depending on your preference. 

Emily Kate - For me, these are all Boxing Day foods that you would have so the cheese, we have what we call a boxing day buffet. And it's all like the leftover meat that you'd have from the day before and then my mom she gets all the all the cheese's out. And grapes for sure. And yeah, like crackers and it's just honestly it's quite overwhelming but it's just such a such a treat. And it sounds ridiculous but honestly it's just it's almost as good as Christmas dinner.

Angus - I love that, I love the meal after the big meal. I just always make the most unbelievable ridiculous sandwich that's just like two slices of bread and then everything roast potatoes, parsnips, gravy. Yeah, and now I'm now vegetarian so that changes the game we've got a button that roast and they're not really sure about that.

Emily Kate - Will you have a nut roast on Christmas day then?

Angus - Yeah, yeah, I'm quite Flexi I'm not the best but my mom has said that there will be there will be a nut roast at the at the Baigrie house.

Emily Kate - This might sound like a silly question. But what is a nut roast? Because I've never eaten it and I just don't have a clue.

Angus - I think the best way to describe it is essentially a  meatloaf, but made of nuts. 

Beth -  There’s quite a few other things in there as well. So you get some herbs and spices and breadcrumbs. And you can use your shallots and your mushrooms and you can blend all of that together. I make it myself because I'm vegan. So yeah, and then you get a few different types of nuts, obviously your favourite ones can be there. And we also make like a little spinach mushroom stuffing that like gets layered in the middle of it as well. So it's like a three tier nut roast and it's absolutely divine. It's all in the process of the cooking each individual thing which gives you that such a rich flavour.

Emily Kate - Oh wow!

Melvyn – I have noticed something about vegan foods, they do tend to be a lot more flavours and because my partner been veggie, I've actually been introduced to all this food I just would just normally not have. So for Christmas, I will have Oxtail and I'd have the nutroast, as well as the parsnips and the potatoes. But no, no turkey. 

Angus - Is anyone else not eating turkey Christmas?

Naz - I have never eaten a roast turkey because my mom always says, not worth it. It's too big and it will be dry. But I'm Muslim, so I don't really celebrate Christmas the way probably the rest of you do. My Christmas generally is Eid, which we do twice a year. It does consist of a feast. Three times a day. 

Angus - Wait, sorry, three, three meal three, three feasts in one day?

Naz - Yeah so there's our feast for breakfast, which isn't your usual breakfast cause it's meat. You know, we'll have lamb chops, chicken legs and things for breakfast. And then we'll have a feast again a couple of hours later for lunch. And then we do the same again for dinner.

Angus - Is it always the same. So breakfast, lunch and dinner always the same food?

Naz - Hum, the breakfast and lunch is quite similar the dinner sometimes can change is generally we’re kind of, crawling to the table by the time it comes to dinner because it's so full from breakfast and lunch. And but we still we do enjoy the, for us, Christmas time is the fact that everybody is together. And it's the only time of the year that every one of us in my family and I've got a pretty big family. I have five sisters and a brother. And we're all scattered everywhere. So it's the only time that we can all get together and all my nephews and nieces and things can be together. And on Christmas day we, is now somehow become a tradition for it to be at my house. Suneal's been pretty good with his Beef Wellington, which is what he'll do. And then we'll also have roast chicken and either lamb or salmon. So the feasts that we do in my house, they're a bit extra because we have everything and John you might like this, potato wise we have three different types of potatoes.

John - Glorious!

Naz - Roast Potatoes, Dauphinois potatoes, gratin potatoes with extra cheese, you know, it's just the way it happens…

Angus - Can I just stop you for a second? So how all this food? How long are you cooking for? I mean, presumably people bring their own dishes?

Naz - No so for me, it’s like yeah, don't bring anything.

Angus - Wow!

Naz - I have pretty good, it's all about timing. It's all about the timing. Generally I'll have pretty much everything stuck on my cupboard, so I know kind of what I'm doing. And Suneal deals with a beef because he's obsessed about beef and he won't let me cook it, so he deals with the beef and I just do everything else. And we do have parsnips I mean I just don't get why not like parsnips, John. I'm really sorry. Have you tried it?

John - I have. A long time ago to be fair, but…

Naz - Mine's always honey roasted. So if you haven't had that, then try it.

John - Honey Roasted?

Angus - Honey roasted everything is great.

Naz - Yeah.

Angus - Honey roasted life.

Melvyn – I'm just thinking maybe up into Christmas all wrong. I mean, three meals rather than one. That is now begining to sound like I would want to adopt that.

Emily Kate - Naz I thinkg you're gonna have five extra guests.

Angus - And then I think if I had that I would sleep to new year. So Eid falls at a separate time to Christmas. When is that usually?

Naz - So we have two Eids. So essentially, we have two Christmases. So the only difference between Eid and Christmas is we don't have a Christmas tree. Other than that, it's filled with decorations. We give presents, we obviously have our three feasts. So we have two one is, which I'm sure a lot of people know is that at the end of Ramadan when we finish fasting, and then one is kind of a few months later after what we call pilgrimage and that's another one of our Eids. Both of them consist of a lot of presents and things like that. I mean, my children will wake up and expect there to be a heap of presence downstairs. I mean, Amelia will wake up and say, Mommy, can I go into the front room? Because she knows that's where it will be. So I mean, I guess I'm lucky because I get to do it three times. Twice on Eid and then Christmas time. So yeah, it is nice to be able to kind of get together with our families.

Angus - Yeah, totally. John, what are you gonna say?

John - Is it's actually a bit of a sidetrack so sorry, but my… It’s so weird. Not weird, but my wife's mom has married a guy called Mo, he’s from Tunisia, he’s a Muslim man and she's now Muslim as well. And I don’t know if it’s a different region or different country, but they don’t actually say ‘EE-D’, they say, ‘I-EE-D’. Is that?

Naz - Yes. So it's basically where it’s the pronunciation of it. So you kind of have to say it from your throat. I mean, to be honest, I am so used to saying just ‘EE-D’. But yeah, that is, that is the right pronunciation of it. 

John - ‘I-EE-D’.

Naz - Yeah.

Angus - Nice one!

Naz - You say it better than me.

John - I'm learning more and more about it

Naz - Is it because you want the three feasts, that’s why?

John - That's literally well, no parsnips. But yeah, the majority of the three feasts.. 

Naz - Well you'll be happy to know it’s the only time that we don't have the parsnip. We save the parsnips for the Christmas time, not for Eid time. 

John - Lovely. 

Melvyn – So you celebrate Eid and Christmas as well. I wonder whether we are able to do that without it being awkward, or celebrating on your behalf.

Naz - Of course you can.

Melvyn – Because then we can have the feasts earlier. Because I'll tell you one thing, I don't think we celebrate enough things. We do celebrate Christmas. And obviously there is Easter, but I think we should do more celebrations of other people's celebrations as well and join in the fun with them. And then that way, we'll learn to understand people a lot more. And we'll get to eat a lot more as well.

Emily Kate - I have to say though Melv. With Eid, and Naz you mentioned about the fasting, I absolutely take my hat off to you guys. And how you do that. I've tried to try to do it myself. And just I couldn't, I hold my hands up. I just failed miserably. So yeah, I absolutely love the three feasts. I'm all for that. But the fasting I just think you guys are amazing for for doing that. 

Naz - It just it's definitely hard. I mean, I've been doing it for a long time, but I can’t say it’s easy. But essentially it is mind over matter. And that's the only way I see it. And like I'll always try and think there's probably somebody out there that's a lot more worse off than me. And I just need to go a couple more hours, and then I'll have a feast again. And that's probably what keeps me going which essentially is is the time to kind of spend with your family and appreciate kind of everything you have. And I think this year, it's been such a crap year for everybody's probably going to be more so now that you'd really, really appreciate it and really make that effort of spending time with your family this time rather than every other year. You might think Can I make it can I not make it? Whereas this time around? It's like I can't wait. Can't wait to be together with my family. 

Emily Kate - Yeah. 

Beth - Taking things for granted. Sorry. 

Angus - Yeah, absolutely. Well, that the different thing this year is that like, is anyone not travelling to family? Is anyone sort of going okay Coronavirus? Let's let's have a smaller Christmas therefore kind of be more responsible? Is anyone doing that?

Melvyn – I've never really had family around at Christmas. It's always just been new years, I've tended to look forward to. And this is probably because I spent a lot of time in retail. And in the entertainment business and around Christmas time. You're always really really busy. So for me, it's always gonna be a small one. And my family is so widespread now that I'm just used to that. 

Emily Kate - My grandparents live in Shropshire. And they, throughout the whole Coronavirus thing, they've been so cautious that my granddad won't even let my nan answer the door. And he's just so worried because she's got bad, bad chest problems, unfortunately. And so they've kind of been thinking all should we come down? Should we not come down? And what to do really. And I think they've taken the decision not to not to travel this year. So which is a real shame, because my mom is so worried about them being on their own. But equally, I would absolutely sacrifice this Christmas to have them for many more to come. 

Melvyn – Emily, can I ask Are they able to use like WhatsApp and you guys could have a virtual meal? 

Emily Kate - So every Sunday now my mom will go on house party and bearing in mind that my grandparents are in their late 70s. You will see maybe a chin or forehead. Oh, it's really funny. But it's that's their way of connecting. So I'm sure absolutely that we will get together in some format, yeah explaining how to use house party to a couple of people in their 70s. Late 70s was was really quite interesting.

Angus - And what about Do we have any interesting traditions, interesting, like whether that'd be a family tradition, you don't know where it came from? Your grandparents, grandparents, grandparents.

Beth - We had, well, from my children when they were younger, we would give them a treasure hunt. So we would have hidden often really good presents in really obscure places, whether it's in the garden or around the house. And they each have their own set of clues and then maybe 10 of them so and you know, so then they'd have that so that would sort of take us up to maybe lunchtime. And then we'd always keep a present back for the washing up. So whoever washed up or if they both washed up after Christmas dinner, they both get a really good present like the best present ever so they'd have to you know it'd be an incentive for them to help tidy. And then always the following day, they would get something as well just to sort of because otherwise it can be such an anti climax. So it was sort of like spreading the presents out rather than it just being in one go like I had when I was a kid, and then all of a sudden, there's nothing left to do. 

Angus - So does that mean that you're buying presents that either child could have and be happy with? 

Beth - No, they had their own specific presence it hidden in specific places with their own clues, but they would they would sent off at the same time, so you know, that would be yeah, yeah. Yeah, it's just just a nice thing. They would get excited about it. 

Angus - Cool. Melvin, do you want to tell us about your dirty little secret?

Melvyn – I don't really know how to answer that one. 

Angus – The Solar lights? 

Melvyn – I was gonna try and hide this. People are gonna think I'm so sad. 

Angus - I bet you I bet you more people than you think will go actually, I'm with you. 

Melvyn – Basically, every year I I add lights to the house. And it's actually quite funny because I don't like what I'm okay with heights. But being 17 Stone, I don't particularly like to climb ladders. So, but every year I'm getting more and more brave, because I've got so many lights now they've actually got to go higher. So I've actually got a ladder can reach the roof. But I only went halfway up this year, so half the house is sort of clad in lights. And hopefully next year, it would raise a little bit and then in about three or four years, we might actually have the whole house done. 

Angus - How many lights have you got?

Melvyn – 25 at the moment? So there are different types of lights. So you've got fireworks lights, and they just basically look like fireworks just, you know, you'd have to see the film footage, I guess. I've got net lighting, then I've got strip lighting as well. And what I'm actually really looking for is a mechanical deer. But unfortunately, they don't do solar mechanical deer at the moment because the technology isn't there. But I might have to be tempted actually to just get the deer and stick on the roof anyway.

Angus -  I'm guessing the mechanical bit is the head coming up and not the whole prancing bit? 

Melvyn – Well, you've got the mechanical deer with the head coming up and down. But then you've also got a train set as well. So... 

Angus - the train set? 

Melvyn – Well, basically, some years ago actually used to have the mechanical deer and the train set. But they were all powered, 

Angus – Are we talking a kind of large lit trainset in your garden? What are we talking about?

Melvyn – Pretty much yeah. 

Naz - I feel like I need to see some pictures or something. 

Angus - Oh, me too. Me too. 

Melvyn – It's like It's like a neon it's made out of, you know, neon lights. So it's sort of it's 2D. So it's like a neon set. So from the side on it looks like a train set. But if you stare at it directly, it literally is just a line. But it's like neon bent to look like a train. So when it's lit up at nighttime, it looks crazy. But I don't have that anymore or the deer. But I don't want to buy it unless it's solar powered now because eco. 

Emily Kate - I was going to say Melv I've seen the footage and you saying that you've got 25 lights absolutely undersells what you have done there. I was expecting you to just show me the front of the house. But Melvin has almost like a walkway that it's all lit up with. Yeah, the net lighting. And if we're talking about lights, there's about 50,000 individual little lights isn't there so honestly it’s a work of art. 

Melvyn –You didn't say individually if you say individually, I can’t tell you the number because don't forget each each light is like one of them is a string light or 500 LEDs. So that's just one of them. And the fireworks lights, they're 300 LEDs each. So I've got eight firework lights at the moment. 

Emily Kate - You expect to see like Santa’s grotto at the end of it. It was amazing. 

Melvyn – Thing is that footage you saw didn't even have this year's lot that I bought by the way, I say by one light every year. It's not. I buy like quiet a lot. Don't tell the partner. She thinks it’s only one but it's actually way more and she goes, ‘isn't there more than last year’ and I went ‘yeah, just just the one just the one.’

Angus - And so have you ever had any any complaints from neighbours, have neighbours ever gone...

Melvyn – We've only been here a couple of years and the first year we we did it there were a few lights around. But this year everybody's putting lights up. So I think we've actually set the trend, but they can't compete.  I think I think they like it, you get, one of the things that I actually love is a 430 when the sun's just going down and all the lights they come on individually you see, and you can watch and you know when they're going to come on because you get to know which one comes on first. And as soon as they're all on. You can just basically dip your head and look out the window. You can see people walking past and pointing and some of them are standing and staring and going oh lights. So unless that's what I've done it for I've done it for them. So yes, it's nice to have light but I like people stopping and watching. That's what makes me feel happy. 

Angus - Absolutely. And Has anyone got a specific a gift that they're hoping to receive this year? Or? Or maybe, and obviously don't want to give anything away to anyone who might listen to this podcast, but like, have you? Have you bought anything yet for specific people that you're very excited to give them?

Emily Kate - I finished my Christmas shopping at the end of November this year, I needed to get it done. I'm excited that it's all done. And yeah, I just need to wrap the last few bits. But my favourite thing one of my favourite things about Christmas is watching my niece and nephew open their presents and just that sheer joy in their face. And I don't know if anybody else gets this. 

Angus - From Father Christmas of course?

Emily Kate - Yeah, of course, of course. And is when perhaps your dad will say, Oh, that's nice. Who's that from? And you'’’ turn around and say ‘it's from you, Dad, it's from you and mum’. Yeah, just no idea what he's bought. 

Melvyn – I've been told I’m too practical around Christmas. I have to buy a practical present. I've got to stop it. I've got to learn just to buy rubbish and give it to people. Because apparently that's what your supposed to do. You can't keep buying usable things. 

Angus - So I'm 100% with you there Melvyn. I'm like, I want something that I will actually love and cherish until next Christmas, if not longer. 

Melvyn – But that's not Christmas. You have to have the socks you don't need and the slippers that you’re just going to bin. 

Angus - I mean, I love a pair of slippers. So I'm definitely keeping the slippers.

John - All I want is Football Manager. 

Angus - What the game? 

John - Every year. Every year I get it from someone. 

Melvyn – Where do you find time to do that John? 

John - Just a couple of hours in the evening? Or maybe seven?
Angus -In between phone calls? 

John - Maybe. I probably could. Yeah, to be fair. And I've always liked it. It’s a bit boring, really. So every year as long as I get that I'm okay. 

Emily Kate - Do you remember the DVD that you lent me John on how to play football manager? 

Naz - I would hate to get the same gift every year. 

John - It's a cheap, easy win for whoever's going to buy it for me. So
Beth - Sounds good. 

Melvyn – So how about this for a controversial subject because I was asking my partner this the other day, you would never get your partner an apron, or an iron. Would you?

John - My wife wants a food processor. 

Melvyn – Yeah, but this is what I mean. If your partner asks for something, then that's fine. But if you go and say I'm going to get you an apron, then that is not fine. And this is what I find weird. We don't want to just stick with gender stereotypes. You know, we don't want to be like just stereotypical all the time to say look, I'm going to do the bins and you're going to do the washing up. But it always naturally gravitates to that. So I am doing the bins my partner does do the wash it up. It's really weird. But you don't want to be that way. But you are so I've got strut bar for my car. And she wanted some baking tins. However, if I just got her baking tins out of the blue, I'd be in trouble. It's weird. 

Beth - It's a balance, Melvyn. 

Melvyn – It’s the balance of terror!

Beth - My mother makes us all bags or purses or something. She's very crafty and arty. And she's very good at it, you know? And so I'm excited to see what perfection that she's made this year.

Melvyn – But do you have this thing as well, where you don't understand why the other person wants something. So for me, I didn't understand why she wanted baking tins. I thought it was just a terrible thing to get. But I have got them. So do you have this thing where you've bought presents for someone? But you're just thinking, do you really want this? But then they’re really happy to have it and you just have, you know, you're just like, oh, okay, great.

Emily Kate - You know, the way my aunt gets around it is I've got three cousins and they're all over 30 now, yet she still asks them to write Christmas lists every year. So they write a Christmas list of everything that they want. And it you know what, it's super easy, because then I can just text my aunt and say what would they like? And she picked something off of the list. Easy and done.

Angus -  It’s efficient. 

Emily Kate - It definitely it definitely is completely get what you're saying about Do they really want it. But Melvyn if it's on the list, it's definitely wanted. 

Melvyn – So going going away from this. I'm going to have three feasts forget just one Christmas dinner. And I'm going to get people to start writing lists. Thank you guys. 

Angus - Or what I did what I did this year, because so this is the first Christmas with my girlfriend, and I wanted to get it right, because she's away from home for the first time at Christmas. And I've got I've got a note on my phone, and from about August. Every time she would drop a hint. I would just be like - Get that noted down - and I've now got like a good list of 10-12 things. Okay, good. I feel secure.

Naz - Yeah, I was gonna say I could drop I could literally tell Suneal what I want and he'll still getting me some different. I’m like, what the hells this? What are you doing? 

Angus - Has he ever given you a? I mean not to drop him in it, but has he ever given you a terrible present? 

Naz - He's given me a lot of terrible presents. He'll, if you if you ever speak to him, he will always say how high maintenance I am. But I make it really clear. I'm quite straightforward. And if I don't like something, I'm going to be like, What is this thing? Beth may have heard of a couple of stories maybe of the things that he may have got me. And there was a time where he arranged for me to go to London for I think it was my birthday or something like that. But he also decided to book the Megabus to get me there. And I was pregnant at the time she made me see on this goddamn mega bus. I was so angry the whole way there. And then he made it up to me by, we went to the is it Grosnevor is that how you say it?

Beth - Grosvenor. 

Naz - Yeah. Yep, that's it. Yep. Um, so I was like, yep, this is what I want. I don't care how much it costs them. You know, get in there, get a room. Yeah. So yeah, he did make it up to me, but I will always bring up the Megabus. He knows better now. Never ever, ever. Do you book a Megabus for Naz, ever. 

Angus - That is a um, I feel like we've had some, some good takeaways from this conversation. I feel like LifeSearcher’s listening to this will will understand you all a bit better. No parsnips for John. Lights for Melvin. 

Naz - No John. You're gonna try the honey, honey parsnip. 

John - I'm gonna try some honey roasted parsnips, I let you know how it goes. 

Naz - I think I think that is gonna change your mind. And if it doesn't, then I won't speak to you again. 

Melyvn - You need to also tell him how to cook them. Because a lot of people they cut them wrong and they're not cooked properly. So they're a bit mushy and disgusting. So that's probably why John doesn’t like them.

Emily Kate - We have to do it two different ways in our household. So there's some of us that like crunchy parsnips. So they literally crack, or then there's some of us that like the, like the smoother ones. So it's yeah, bit mushyee. So the mushyee ones are at the top of the parsnip where it’s a bit bigger. And the shorter ones are at the bottom. So we Yeah, we're able to hit everybody and make everybody happy. So um, yeah, John, you definitely have to try it this year. 

John - We'll see I will try them. I’ll video it and I will try it. I will say I'll give it a go. I'll give him a chance. 

Angus - And if you don't like them, you know what you're getting for Secret Santa next year.

John - Oh we haven’t done secret Santa this year on our team.

Melvyn – That’s because you've got to wait two days for your present to decontaminate before you give it to someone else.

John - Yeah, I love Secret Santa. Anyway. 

Emily Kate - I do as well. 

Angus - Alright. Thanks so much, everyone. Thanks so much for doing this with me. And yeah, I love talking to you. It's got me feeling all festive. Hope you enjoyed listening. This has been LifeSearch’s podcast Searching for Elephants, which was created and edited by me Angus Baigrie and the music was composed and podcast mixed by my brother Patrick.

Everyone – By all, yeah really enjoyed it. Yeah, same. Thanks, guys. I hope you get what you need. And not what you want. Thank you guys. Lovely to see you all. See you soon. Cheers. Bye!

Angus - lots of love LifeSearch

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