I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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* One exception: short stories.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Cultural base widened


Here’s my eight-year-old grandson Zach. The photo demands explanation, but first a little of Zach's CV.

Indoors his nose is close to some electronic device or other. Telly watching is divided between soccer and teenager programmes.

On holiday he was willingly hurled into the swimming pool by Daniel, he played ping-pong and soccer shoot-outs with his dad, and during the scorching afternoons he could be heard kicking a ball against the villa wall. He volunteered to go kart-racing.

On Saturdays at home he plays soccer with youths who are mainly much taller. Despite his shortness he is the team's best goalie although he also plays conventional attack/defence in the field. He is routinely voted The Game's Most Valuable Player.

A typical lad de nos jours.

Here he’s in costume as Jane Seymour in a school play about Henry VIII. VR admits herself baffled in that the play is somehow "satirical" and might be "grown up". There you have it.

SO DULL After my early-morning stint at the computer, I return to bed where VR and I discuss matters of little moment. Like: why is corned beef so called? The answer is incredibly uninteresting. Corned beef is processed with salt, originally in largish crystals about the size of corn grains.

Corned beef cans are rectangular in cross-section, gently tapered and come with an opening key. Why? The key is mated with a tag and then rotated; removing a strip of metal round the can, avoiding jagged edges typical of can-opener usage. The tapering allows the meat to be pushed out without damage, leaving it ready to be sliced.

A small prize for anyone who can reveal previously unknown facts about a domestic item which exceed the above in dullness. Lying allowed.

21 comments:

Sir Hugh said...

Sago (unfortunately a frequently served favourite at Bradford Grammar School dinners in the 50s) is the dehydrated spawn of a rare Indian frog which I am glad to say is becoming rarer:

“…they breed after the yearly monsoon in fast-rushing streams, but their habitat appears to be becoming increasingly dry."

Daily Mail, 12/7/2014

Roderick Robinson said...

Sir Hugh: Congratulations on embracing the spirit of the competition if not the letter of the rules. Far from being dull, this news is alarming. It is quite possible to throw up for retrospective reasons.

BGS sago pudding I have forgotten; what I do remember is tinned potatoes. Utterly transformed, but not for the better.

Stella said...

If I only had a photo of a Spoolie......

Zachary sounds like the greatest kind of kid, perhaps he has inherited his grandad's energetic mind. Is he a Method actor?

The Crow said...

I once had a device for removing the eyes of fish prior to baking them, the eye on the face up side being replaced by a caper or a circle of lemon or lime peel.

It also came in handy for propping open the mouth of a barracuda whilst you stuffed it with a lemon. Trying to hold open the 'cuda's mouth with your free hand was a dangerous exercise. Much better to use the eye-plucker.

mike M said...

There are a number of different methods of "pasteurization", each using a different temperature and exposure time. Let's call the item milk.

Roderick Robinson said...

Stella: You have approached dullness from another direction, relying on a complete absence of detail. I could of course Google Spoolie but that would be to miss the point; it was the nature and the style of the explanation I was interested in. A good attempt and many (though not I) would have thought you started out with an advantage - being a Canadian. But the spark of life burned too brightly and in the end could not be suppressed. Finishing with points de suspension was a good idea, hinting at inanition.

Zach's school reports which reach heights of ecstasy I tend to regard as unbelievable rate his reading ability at that of a child of eleven. The good news is he recently read an adult biography; the bad news is it concerned a soccer player.

Crow: You could of course be lying - not that this would disqualify you. The conviction that you are lying grows when you refer to a process whereby a barracuda gets eaten. My limited experience of barracuda suggests that this is the reverse of what normally happens. However, gouging out the eyes of fish is lurid, and stuffing lemons into a marine predator is over-dramatic: I was looking for dullness; thus you fail twice over. I suspect you are incapable of being dull.

MikeM: Not only a dull subject but dully told. A double whammy. Pasteurisation was an excellent choice since, as I understand it, the milk is not even brought to the boil, merely taken to a higher temperature. Quel ennui! Alas, I knew something about pasteurisation (even if it turns out to be untrue) and thus there was no revelation.

Verb. sap. Let this be your first and last attempt to enter such a competition. You wouldn't wish to get good at this subject.

Ellena said...

Headcheese is full of head and empty of cheese. Why so called?
Dull enough or does one need a partner in bed for discussion prior to commenting so?

The Crow said...

But...but, you said we could lie.

Stella said...

You are all hilarious! And too clever.

The Crow said...

Okay, here's one (familiar?): explaining to a two-year-old the process and purpose of watching layers of paint dry.

It's similar to trying to explain why a spit shine isn't one if you don't use spit. (It isn't, you know.)

mike M said...

It's so difficult to turn up a boredom that you've not experienced! I'm afraid I felt just a slight thrill of discovery when I read about the tapered can. I'm going to pick one up and at least eyeball it at the store. Never liked corned beef, and now I've found that it isn't even traditional Irish fare. Only America could turn goulash into Beefaroni.

Roderick Robinson said...

Ellena: Hey, you're asking me. You're supposed to provide the answers. We call that stuff brawn which is a synonym for strength (eg, Despite all his brawn he couldn't get the top off the jar).

We don't just discuss dull stuff, just unimportant stuff (ie, matters of little moment). If you're in the neighbourhood you're welcome to check us out. The bed's king size.

Stella: A small correction. Together with you all we're hilarious.

Crow: You're being elliptical and thus encouraging me to show off. See below.

All: The first sonnet I ever wrote (April 2009) was eventually dedicated to Crow. I rose to her challenge (I think) on the subject of watching paint dry. It's horribly wordy, most of the sentences are incomplete, and by starting with painting over the walls in a house previously occupied by others I cheated (but you'd expect that, wouldn't you?)

Sonnet – Paint drying

These colours were not ours. Too bright? Too fair?
Another’s family’s concealment needs
Barring our quick possession of this bare
Regressive record of domestic deeds.
Our brush implies a tyrant’s power – a blade
To cut away unwanted otherness
To scour, excise, delete or amputate
Interring then remaining evidence.
A hand-swept wave of green stops up the eyes
And throats of calling, drowning memories
Creates a hardening seal to authorise
Our ownership of coloured histories.

We watch, paint dries, a thickness evident
In years, decades, a time-based insulant.


MikeM: All is not lost, dear friend. Judging from this latest comment it seems I've turned you into a philosopher.

Blonde Two said...

An armchair was first named thus because it was impossible to sit down in one whilst wearing a sword (it still is, I tried yesterday). The arms (sword) had to first be removed and were usually laid at the feet of the sitter. I imagine we are lucky that it wasn't christened a footchair.

Roderick Robinson said...

Blonde Two: Do you know, I think you've got it. This is excruciatingly boring, yet new to me. It's also entirely uncharacteristic. You've won the prize which I warned was a small one. I'm re-posting a sonnet I wrote back in 2010.

Sonnet – Hateful love

Don’t tell me of your loves but of your hates,
For love contains such blurry variants
As duty, honour, civilised dictates,
Self-sacrifice, denial, diligence.

Anathema can shine a caring light
Upon the limits of your honesty,
Love goes unquestioned, while your latest spite
Is tested for its authenticity.

Your dislikes tell me most, but note this catch,
I need conciseness, wit and evidence;
A critic lacking surgical despatch
Deserves the rebound of incompetence.

Hate me but do it with sufficient art
And like as not I’ll suffer Cupid’s dart.


I don't think you need be embarrassed. You're much more given to enthusiasm than to whingeing.

The Crow said...

I can't recall reading this sonnet before, but it is one of the best, most direct and realistic one you've posted.

I'm going to print this one and read it at next month's open-mike poetry reading. This is good.

BlondeOne said...

A sonnet, I am impressed and really liked it. Please don't tell Blonde One but I am not really sure what a sonnet is ...

Blonde Two said...

... and now I can't even remember my own name ...

Roderick Robinson said...

Crow: I'm flattered. Feel free to claim you wrote it, that way it'll be you who attracts the lightning. If you do read it aloud it's worth rehearsing a bit because there are one or two traps. There should be pauses between the items listed in lines three and four but, alas, (no one said verse is easy) the pauses shouldn't be too long otherwise the verse will sound corny.

When you come to the final couplet it's possible to adopt a slightly different tone of voice, but you'll need to experiment. The phrase "like as not" is not typical US idiom and you may need to rehearse it several times before you're comfortable with it.

Blonde Two (or Blonde One if she's sailing under a flag of convenience): This is a Shakespearean sonnet, there are others including the Miltonian which I tried once and couldn't get on with.

It is written in iambic pentameter (ten syllables to a line) as is virtually all the poetry in Shakespeare's plays. It consists of three quatrains (four-line verses) with a rhyming sequence: ABAB CDCD EFEF ending with a rhyming couplet (two lines).

Thus it has a fixed format and that's a comfort to me. Cleverclogs like Lucy and my late mentor, Joe, write poems in unrhyming vers libre and Joe used to urge me me to try this. However, I don't write poems I write verse and I was never at ease with free verse, even though you'd think it would be easier. This sonnet is slightly better than the other thirty I've written and posted, possible because it's entirely truthful.

Lucas said...

As an admirer of your sonnets I like especially in this one:
a. the subject
b. the way the argument builds
c. the way the lines sing more and more towards the end. You make it sound easy but you and I know it isn't. Hope to see more.

Lucas said...

Sorry, just to clarify my previous comment refers to "Hateful Love"

Roderick Robinson said...

Lucas: Hateful Love, first posted in 2010, has been recycled. Joe went to great lengths to encourage my early attempts at verse; here's what he said about this sonnet:

"I would like to add that this sonnet is not only Shakespearean in form, but in sentiment and felicity of expression as well. Several lines might have been written by the Bard himself including the final couplet."

I seem blessed by your family in that you appear to have stepped into his shoes. I appreciate enormously the support you provide, even more so the poignancy of this "transfer". I don't write many sonnets these days but knowing you might read them is a definite carrot.