Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Forgot the title...

The scene: a dark corridor. A high door in a steel frame, red padded leather. A darker corner beside the door. Stealthy scritching.

“Oh hello. You can’t be?”
“No… Surely not… That was years ago.”
Unobtrusive bounce.
“Really, it can’t be. But you look so familiar: eight legs, round brown body. I mean, how many of you can there be? Besides, I’m sure I recognize that left foreleg.”
Left first front foreleg twitches.
“It’s the music, right? I mean, last time you were in the corner of the loo. Now you’re by the door. Or… Are you here to say goodbye?”
“No, I’m just being silly. I mean, it’s been years, and besides, that one’s very purpose was to terrify me by threatening to run over my toes in the middle of the night.”
“What do you mean, you were only joking? How on earth was I supposed to know it was a joke?”

“It is you. That is so weird. But really, could you stop the Czech laughing? It doesn't really tell me it's funny. It just sounds creepy.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry, that was mean. But it does sound sinister. Really. Maybe it’s the accent on the "a"? Look, I’m sorry about all the hoovering lately. And the mop of death to cobwebs. It’s just, I need my deposit back, you know?”
Scornful bob.
“Oh. Yeah. The music. That is kind of annoying, I know. But the internet’s been cancelled, and I’m left with what’s on this knackered laptop.”
Resentful twitch.
“I agree. I mean, I don’t even understand why it has to be the soundtrack to Glee. I guess it’s fun? And Mercedes’ voice is pretty good.”
“But you’re right, it’s pretty irritating the 6th time around. And the Imogen Heap was making my voice weird.”
Baleful leg waggle.
“So… will you miss me?”
“Um. I’ll miss you? I mean, I’ll miss this flat. It’s been lovely.”
“I mean, I’ll really, really miss this lovely flat. Spiders, weird scritching and all.”
“I guess I’m supposed to be missing the amazing cultural opportunities, the buzz of life in a glamorous Central European city?”
Bob. Bob. Waggle. Bob. Bob.
 “It is beautiful. Absolutely drop dead beautiful. And new location is… well… it means comparisons are pretty painful.”
Scornful twitch.
“And I never really did take advantage of the many cultural opportunities. I mean, I hardly learned any Czech. I never learned to like beer or dumplings, or the finer nuances of Czech wine and Slivovice. I don’t own any interesting antiques, and I haven’t developed a deep knowledge of Czech landscape artists of the 19th century, or Nationalist poetry, or similar. Basically I’m a failure when it comes to living abroad.”
Backleg sproings a filament.
“But I’ll miss it. I’ll miss it so much.”
Sproing. Sproing.
“Odd really, since it was supposed to be such a short stay. Five months… Seven years… I guess I’ve done a lot of growing? That’s good, right? That I took advantage of the growing and learning stuff?”
“You’re right, I could have grown anywhere. But I guess if you have to grow, it’s nice to do it somewhere pretty. There’s something very special about being able to walk somewhere beautiful and brush up against a memory. Good or bad.”
“But really, this move is good generally. Better job, closer to family, old friends, and so on. Nice to be back somewhere where I understand things easily, where things aren’t quite so hard.”
“Just that nothing is ever wholly good or wholly bad. Sometimes you have to give things up. Even really nice things. And it hurts even when it’s the right thing to do.”
“God, I’m going to miss it.”

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

In which some things are typed upon a keyboard. Which is progress.

Interestingly, Google has not forgotten that I exist, although I may have forgotten it exists?

It's all very existential, I'm sure.

In the meantime, and in the spirit of truth, harmony and justice, gently nudging along my blogging muscles*, here's a straightforward extract from Peter Ross' The Curious Cookbook which is a collection of historic recipes with editing and commentary. Because of course, my life can only be improved by knowing how to roast a swan, make cock ale, porpoise with wheat porridge, and that once upon a time a pastry case was called a "coffin".

So without further ado, here, verbatim is "Triumphs and Trophies in Cookery, to be used at Festival Times, as Twelfth-day, &c." by Robert May in "The Accomplish't Cook", 1660. Because clearly this man is a master of the art of party-planning in a way that Ms. Pippa Middleton can only dream of being.

Make the likeness of a ship in paste-board (cardboard), with flags and streamers, the guns belonging to it of kickses (odds and ends), bind them about with packthread, and cover them with close paste proportionable to (modelled in) the fashion of a cannon with carriages, lay them in places convenient as you see them in ships of war, with such holes and trains of (gun)powder that they may all take fire; place your ship firm in the great charger (serving dish); then make a salt round about it, and stick therein egg-shells fill of sweet water.

Then in another charger have the proportion (model) of a stag made of course paste (pastry), with a broad arrow in the side of him, and his body filled up with claret-wine; in another charger at the end of the stag have the proportion of a castle with battlements, portcullises, gates and drawbridges made of paste-board, the guns and kickses, and covered with course paste as the former; place it at a distance from the ship to fire at each other. 
At each side of the charger wherein is the stag, place a pie made of coarse paste, in one of which let there be some live frogs, in each other some live birds; make these pies of coarse paste filled with bran and yellowed over with saffron or the yolks of eggs, gild them over in spots ...being baked, and make a hole in the bottom of your pies, take out the bran, put in your frogs, and birds, and close up the holes with the same coarse paste... Being all placed in order upon the table, before you fire the trains of powder, order it so that some of the ladies may be persuaded to pluck the arrow out of the stag, then will the claret-wine follow, as blood that runneth out of a wound. 
This being done with admiration to the beholders, after some short pause, fire the train of the castle, that the pieces all of one side may go off, the fire the trains, of one side of the ship as in a battle; next turn the chargers and by degrees fire the trains of each other side as before. This done to sweeten the stink of powder, let the ladies take the egg-shells full of sweet waters and throw them at each other. 
All dangers being seemingly over, by this time you may suppose they will desire to see what is in the pies; where lifting first the lid off one pie, out skip some frogs, which make the ladies to skip and shriek; next after the other pie, whence come out the birds, who by a natural instinct flying in the light, will put out the candles; so that what with the flying birds and skipping frogs, the one above, the other beneath, will cause much delight and pleasure to the whole company.
Now that, Ladies & Gents, is a party.