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Monday, 12 May 2014

Add to your earthly pleasures

The best bread - squashy, slightly warm - is hardest to manage. Grip it and it collapses in one direction, cut it and it collapses in another, however sharp the bread knife.

Note: My mum called it a "bread saw" but the phrase angers VR. A North vs. South thing.

You need a bread slicer. Oh, no I don't, you say. It would occupy too much kitchen work surface. You would, I promise you.

The action is instantaneous yet sensuous; zing, and it's done. All memories of haggled, torn bread slices, pinched in the middle, despatched into oblivion. Cost £40 at Lakeland, made like a Lexus, infinitely adjustable. Too much? You're buying the aesthetics of a well-designed machine.

Cuts meat too. Zing! Zing! No more dining-table macho and that brouhaha with the steel. But don’t just watch; use it. The rotating steel blade will worry you but it shouldn't; it's designed to be safe. Use it and you'll be seduced. If it were a film star it would be Cary Grant (or Susan Sarandon).

JOE'S NUDGE
You sang it as a shaky school treble? So what? It has survived – magnificently.

Fairest Isle, all Isles Excelling,
Seat of Pleasures and of Loves;
Venus here will chuse her Dwelling
And forsake her Cyprian Groves.

.....

Gentle Murmurs, sweet complaining,
Sighs that blow the Fire of Love,
Soft Repulses, kind Disdaining,
Shall be all the Pains you prove.


Reasons why. Puts you there; says how it will go. Lovers so in love they may tease each other (Soft Repulses, kind Disdaining) - all the better to make up. Brilliant adjectives: all familiar, yet all perfectly set.

John Dryden!!! (1631 – 1700). I was so cruel on April 18 2014.

9 comments:

mike M said...

Wikipedia makes no mention of Dryden traveling abroad. I've Googled "idyllic island" and reviewed a very long list. England is not included. Ireland? As for the slicer, all my power tools are designed to be safe, as are AK-47's. Hand grenades are engineered to cause the buyer no harm.

Stella said...

All you need is a nice crusty artisanal loaf and you'll want to fling that contraption into the back of the pantry... You can even make the bread (and a hero out of yourself) by studying up on Jim Lahey's No Knead Bread. Easy and so good you'll want to rip it open with your hands. Ah, but you have already succumbed to the charms of the bread and meat slicer...... I cannot condone such a frivolous purchase, likely intensifying labour rather than saving it. Don't forget to disinfect after each use. What is it about men and gimmicks? :)

mike M said...

Little brother posted an old Roxy Music video on Facebook last night. I've had the answer ringing in my ears all day and just now recognized it. Avalon.

Roderick Robinson said...

MikeM: Well I hesitate in front of all that geography, but might the Fairest Isle be an imaginative construct: a mythical containment of unfettered love? But if you insist I suppose it could be England since Cyprus gets a mention and we know it isn't Cyprus. Not real England of course but a poet's version. In those pre-Johnsonian days (Patriotism: The last refuge of a scoundrel) patriotism was an acceptable state of mind as a certain WS was to prove in something rather similar:

This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,


Nowadays we are succoured by thoughts of the European Union.

As to dangerous appliances, I'm surprised. Paper can slice your finger and you could, I suppose, swallow an egg-spoon. A justification for that valuable US apophthegm: I should've stood in bed.

Stella: If you didn't live where you do I'd guess you'd just returned from a profound session of baguette-ripping in l'Hexagone. All those terrible disappointments that lie ahead; notably that displaced Gros Plante doesn't taste as nice when the snow's three feet deep as it did with a plate of oysters (opened by someone other than you) overlooking the harbour at Pornic.

But must baguette-ripping always supplant the eminently practical sandwich containing something moderately subtle like smoked salmon? Is the symmetry of two well-cut slices really so namby-pamby? My mind slides back a year or two and conjures up a younger Stella, flush-cheeked with enthusiasm, talking rhapsodically to her Ma about the sheer convenience of her new front-loading washing machine. And dear Ma, still scarred by the side-effects of the Highland Clearances, saying: "Ah but you can't beat my peg tub and my posser. Simple. Nothing to go wrong."

I tried to take a romantic view of the slicer, talking in terms of sensuousness. but you'd been seized by atavism: feral in full flow. Chuck the flat-screen telly and get out the crystal set. Scrub Tone Deaf from your schedule of visiting the poor since I'm given to other forms of gadget: to quote my grannie I reckon nowt to the earth closet, I much prefer one that flushes. I deserve my non-condonement.

Mind you, I enjoyed you in slagging-off mode. Contraption, forsooth. Last used when heavier-then-air flying machines were being discussed.

MikeM: Many a jazzman has riffed on Avalon. Which often means the tune's got sharps and flat. I can't even hum it but I'll YouTube it when the house has woken up

Roderick Robinson said...

MikeM: Re. Avalon. In fact jazzmen like Avalon because it's so simple. First I tracked it down to Nat King Cole; perfectly acceptable singing but the lyrics are unbearably banal, the lines driven by clunking rhymes. Decided to stick with instrumental and thus the Benny Goodman Quartet. Which led me to the quartet in 1959 (a great year for me; I moved to London) playing I got Rhythm. Loved BG's introduction; the tune is of course vestigial (good for jazz) and BG does an even more vestigial version - just a scatter of notes to get through the verse.

I played trumpet too, here's some kind of proof:

http://bbworkswell.blogspot.co.uk/2008/09/how-i-didnt-fit-battle-of-jericho.html

I need add no more. A passing diversion.

Stella said...

Well, as Julian Barnes just said in The Pedant in the Kitchen: You can't really know what you want until you've got it wrong the first time.

Avus said...

Reminds me of the lovely old (manual) bacon slicer in our village store, back in the '50s. Quite seductive watching it work. One turned a handle and the bacon joint advanced at a predetermined rate, slicing off strips of varying thickness which the operator caught as they peeled off.

You wax eloquent on yours - are you on commission?

mike M said...

Roxy Music's is a different Avhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzqBttT7PBEalon:

white stetson said...

your poetry studies appear to have led you to the superlative season for cruelty
one could almost say
I too have foresuffered - baguette slicing machines -
amongst the lowest of the - low
but that would lack assurance