The Corona Chronicles – COVID, Cotillion, Computers and Cake

It’s hard to know really, where we stand with regard to the pandemic. On the one hand, more than 2 million Israelis have already received the first dose of the much-vaunted Pfizer vaccine, administration of the second dose is well under way, and, as of this week, anyone over the age of 45 is now eligible for vaccination. This latter fact, we are told, is due to a slowdown in the number of applications by over-60s to receive the vaccine and the resulting surplus of vaccine, which is being made available to younger age groups rather than having to throw it away (because it has a limited “shelf life”). Actually, the decrease in the number of Senior Citizens making appointments to be vaccinated should come as no surprise, considering that the successful rollout in December has resulted in about 70% of them having already received the vaccine.

On the other hand, the past few weeks have seen the daily numbers of COVID-positive tests, and – even worse – the number of seriously sick COVID patients in Intensive Care, and the death toll, spiralling out of control. On the news this morning, I heard that we have the highest morbidity rate in the Middle East and the 14th highest in the world! Of course, it will take some weeks for the effect of the mass vaccination campaign to be felt – and it does not help that certain sections of the population seem to think they are above the law and that their right to keep their schools open, and to hold mass weddings, religious gatherings, and demonstrations, trumps the right of the citizens of Israel to Life and Health.

Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens (such as Yours Truly) are stuck in our third Lockdown, which has just been extended by ten days to the end of January.

And what does one do when one is stuck in the house for days on end? Well, for one thing, I have been watching a lot of stuff on YouTube. I have found so many old favourites, BBC historical drama series from fifty years ago, (such as The Onedin Line, my favourite historical drama series EVER), children’s programmes (who remembers the 1968 BBC TV series The Railway Children?), full-length operas, even radio plays – which are perfect for listening to tucked up in bed on a cold, rainy day when you don’t want to get up and don’t even want to open your eyes. 🙂

And sometimes, one comes across something, quite by chance, that sounds a chord because it just seems so apposite to something else that one is reading, or thinking about. For example, one of the Facebook groups with which I while away the time, is the Georgette Heyer Appreciation Group. A question/comment concerning one of her novels, Cotillion, was occupying my thoughts while I was idly surfing YouTube and stumbled across this – how to dance a Regency-style Cotillion:

The cotillion (also cotillon or “French country dance”) is a social dance, popular in the late 18th-century and early 19th-century in Europe and America. Originally for four couples in square formation, it was a courtly version of an English country dance, the forerunner of the quadrille and, in the United States, the square dance.
Consisting of a main “figure” that varied from dance to dance, it was interspersed with “changes” – a number of different figures that broke out of the square formation, often decided spontaneously by the leading couple or by a caller or “conductor”. As you may have noticed, participants exchanged partners within the formation network of the dance. You may also notice that eventually, the dancers return to their original partners.
Something similar seems to happen among Israeli political parties whenever a General Election approaches – and this time is no different. For example, the old National Religious Party (itself a party formed by merging two earlier religious Zionist parties, Hamizrachi and Hapoel Hamizrachi) became Habayit Hayehudi (The Jewish Home) under the leadership of Naftali Bennet, but Bennett and his sidekick Ayelet Shaked broke away in December 2018 to form Hayamin Hechadash (the New Right), which ran on a separate ticket in elections to the 21st Knesset in April 2019. However, they failed to receive the minimum percentage of the vote to win any seats in the Knesset.
By the time the elections for the 22nd Knesset came round, a bare five months later (September 17th, 2019), Hayamin Hechadash had joined Ha’Ichud Ha’Leumi (the National Union) and Habayit Hayehudi to form Yemina (Rightwards). The Ichud LeumiTekuma party was formed by breakaway members of the National Religious Party and, as the name suggests, was itself formed by an amalgam of more than one party. (Confused? So am I 😉 ) At all events, in this round of elections, Yamina garnered seven Knesset seats, but then split up into Hayamin Hechadash and Habayit Hayehudi-Ha’Ichud HaLeumi.
Six months later (March 2nd, 2020), the three parties were back together again to run for the elections to the 23rd Knesset (Is your head spinning yet? Wait – there’s more to come) and dropped to 6 Knesset seats. They did not join the ruling coalition, but the leader of Habayit Hayehudi, Rabbi Rafi Peretz, broke away and joined the government.
Now we are in the throes of a campaign for the 24th Knesset, set to take place on March 23rd. (Seriously? FOUR General Elections in less than two years?) At the time of writing, the three parties are running on separate tickets. This, however, is – as they say at the airport – “not final”. The Bayit Yehudi party (formerly the National Religious Party, as you may recall), has just elected Hagit Moshe as its leader – the first time ever that a woman has been elected to head an Orthodox Jewish religious party. She is very keen to unify all the orthodox Zionist parties. Will this cotillion end with the reunification of the original partners? If you listen to Naftali Bennett – probably not. But Israeli politics being what they are – that’s really anybody’s guess!

And from elections to computers – and to another skill acquired/problem solved by Yours Truly who was, once again, forced to rely on herself because of the lockdown.
I believe I mentioned in one of my previous posts that my father made me a present of his old laptop, after buying a brand new one. And that it was so slow as to be of no practical value. Well – I have fixed it. At first, I thought I would have to re-format it, so I googled how to do that and, in the course of my search, came across the suggestion that I try first simply to re-set it to the factory default and reinstall Windows. I tried that – but it got stuck before I even reached “Reset”. My brother thought that it might be infected with Malware which was taking over the computer every time I connected to the internet and was using my laptop as part of a network to carry out DDoS attacks. So I disconnected it from the internet and made another attempt. This time, it seems to have worked. I am very proud of myself! 😉

And finally, to cakes. I find that baking is wonderfully relaxing – and since everyone seems to be doing it, YouTube is full of wonderful recipes, all of which, it is claimed, are so easy and so quick, that you will wonder why you never tried them before. So here is my take on one of the recipes I have already tried. I think it was originally a lemon cake, if I remember rightly and then it evolved into a chocolate cake and here it is in its latest reincarnation:



1 tub plain yoghurt (150g) – save the tub to use as a measuring cup
2 eggs
1/2 – 2/3 tub of sugar (depending on how sweet your tooth is)
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tubs of plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 heaped tbsp sweetened Chocolite (or you can use unsweetened cocoa powder but then you really need to use 2/3 tub of sugar and not just 1/2)
1 tsp instant coffee dissolved in a little boiling water
2 tsp rum essence


75 grams unsalted butter
Heaped tbsp Chocolite
Caster sugar (to taste)
Ground coconut
A few drops more of rum essence

  1. Whisk the yoghurt and eggs together
  2. Add the vegetable oil
  3. Add the sugar
  4. Mix well.
  5. Add the flour and baking powder
  6. Add the sweetened Chocolite
  7. Add the dissolved coffee and the rum essence and mix well.
  8. Bake in a small Angel Cake tin or a small English Cake tin for 30 – 40 minutes in an oven preheated to 180 degrees C.

    To make the frosting, melt the butter in the microwave till it is runny. Add the powdered Chocolite, caster sugar and rum essence and mix well. Drizzle it over the cooled cake and sprinkle ground coconut over the whole.

    That’s all there is to it. Bete’avon.

About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
This entry was posted in Computers and Internet, Cuisine, Daily Life, Modern Living, Politics, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Corona Chronicles – COVID, Cotillion, Computers and Cake

  1. caspurr & crew: ….pleez ta tell yur mom we wood bee happee ta help her N joy de cake…all we gotta due iz get outta “dodge” ta due sew 🙂 ….♥♥3

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