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Friday, 29 January 2016

Idyll schmiddle

A horrid earworm which attaches banal words to the fifth movement of LvB's Pastoral can easily put you off the whole symphony:

The countree, the countree,
It's better than the town...

What's more, it isn't true. I've got proof.

We lunched at The Three Horsehoes yesterday and it was immediately assumed we were there for the Pensioners' Special. Yes, we look old but not necessarily indigent. VR was satisfied with her fishcakes but the onion gravy that came with my bangers and mash betokened the industrial laboratory rather than the kitchen. Round about, old codgers made a point of not looking at their wives.

We emerged from the pub to an absolutely hideous smell. "Pig-shit," said VR who profanes rarely. The road was covered with unspeakable gobbets that had fathered the smell. Nearby the police spoke to a tractor driver whose trailer had leaked the gobbets.

Inside our car the smell was even worse; the tyres had picked up essence of crushed gobbet turning the interior into a rural sewer. Worse was to come. At home I garaged the car and since the garage is integral with the house the smell eased its way into the utility room and thence to the kitchen. Understand we're not talking horse manure, here; that's quite pleasant. Pigs are nominally vegetarians but this lot had surely feasted on the putrefying bodies of their dead comrades.

Today it rained; never had I so welcomed a downpour.

Tell you what: our previous home was in the intensely urban Kingston-upon-Thames area and nothing our town-life threw at us ever matched that smell. And I don't go for waiters who decide in a flash I'm at the bottom end of the food-chain - in either sense.


Sir Hugh said...

A bloggers gift indeed.

I thought I had the ultimate related experience about five months ago when daughter left a plastic bottle of milk under the passenger seat in my car which leaked, soured and soaked into the carpet which cannot be removed without professional dismantling of vast amounts trim. Despite repeated use of a high power liquid carpet vacuum and many other suggestions from sympathetic friends and relations the stench remained. After several months it has perhaps dissipated, or maybe I am inured.

BUT I reckon your stink must have been much worse, although it sounds as though it will not be as long-lasting as mine.

I reckon living in towns is far more dangerous consistently breathing harmful chemical particles emitted by diesel engines along with many other industrial pollutants, invisible, but deadly.

mikeM said...

A couple local and elderly gents pulled across an intersection into the path of a speeding milk tanker about a year ago. The trucker mostly avoided the collision (serious but survivable injuries to the gents) but the tanker incredibly swapped ends and overturned, ending up mere feet from a house. Many thousands of gallons of milk spilled out, soaking into the ground and then migrating through the old stone foundation walls into the cellar of the house. The basement was pumped and rinsed, but much milk remained to curdle in the crevasses between the stones. Unlivable to this day, and rumored condemned. There is a pig farm about five miles from my house, and I'd want it no closer. Breath holding during drive bys is de rigueur.

Roderick Robinson said...

Sir Hugh: So the Yeti breathes out pure perfume does it?

MikeM: An absolute nightmare, since I loathe milk even when it's supposedly fresh. I reckon in the Disaster Olympics (held as usual in Vladivostock) that would win a gold medal. Several, in fact, since the Russkies encourage cheating.

Avus said...

My earworm for the Pastoral is the song I once heard sung to it.
"Going home, going home,
I am going home."
(he should have done, and stayed there!)

Why is a "pensioner's lunch" the "bottom of the food chain"? Or was it just at that restaurant? Some I have had have been tasty and cheap.

Roderick Robinson said...

Avus: Chalkboards outside pubs in Herefordshire proclaim the cheapness of Pensioners' Specials at lunchtime. I prefer to use other criteria as my starting point. As a rule of thumb you get what you pay for, whatever the rare exceptions.

Sir Hugh said...

"Pensioner's lunch" for me refers to a free offering provided by my erstwhile employers - Yorkshire Bank. My role was with the subsidiary, Yorkshire Bank Finance Ltd which was a much more dynamic and hard negotiating sales operation than day to day banking. At pensioner's lunches ( I attended once shortly after my retirement) the main topic of conversation was the driving route these retired bank managers had taken to get there, and a detailed analysis of traffic problems encountered.

Blonde Two said...

I imagine that in town one would still require pork to eat?
Upon a late return from London yesterday, I felt required to stand outside my house for a while to inhale the Devon air. It smelt of ... air!

Roderick Robinson said...

Sir Hugh: A foretaste of what lies beyond the tomb, the deconstructed journeys becoming shorter and shorter, the discussion more intense and ever more futile. If one is to assume an omnipotent being in charge of our after-life it's reaonable to assume a Hell tailored exactly to what we would least like: thus the scene you describe alternating with late afternoon sales meetings devoted to the smallest discrepancies between budgets and subsequent performance.

Blonde Two: You gotta be a little more ingenious than that. Just think of what you enjoyed in London which wasn't available in Devon; what you were offering was apples vs. avocados. I used to do it myself, did it in this post to some extent. Our existence consists of one compromise after another: after the exhilarating moorland walk the blister. Earth never provides unalloyed bliss for longer than a second or two, there is eventually some form of let-down: tooth-ache, a tax return, the face of David Cameron hovering - as a hologram - as we bathe. This is the nature of real life.

However, if I take your proposition at face value there is no doubt I would have to give up pork. I couldn't live with this particular smell; it was inacapicitating and enormously strong. It was a cold day and yet I was at one point contemplating getting out the garden hose and sluicing off the car's wheel arches. Other than the smell of warming milk (and the sight of the skin that forms thereon) Big Brother would have me body and soul with this as a threat.

Lucy said...

City air makes men free, country air makes you retch. Still, at least you live in a land where the police rebuke the offending agrarian polluters; here they'd be nowhere to be seen until the next manif where they would be standing very much to one side while the tyres burned and the pigshit was piled deliberately on the highway.

I was interested to see one reason for welcoming the Iranian premier here was said to be the opening up of new markets there for French farm produce; highly optimistic as a possible destination for all the surplus factory farmed Breton pork not even the French want to eat any more - let the Shias eat andouillette!

In fact a pensioners' special here might well consist of andouillette, in which case you wouldn't notice the smell of pigshit in addition.

Be assured, I like living here, and in the countryside, if only because it provides enough personal space to mind my own misanthropic business.

Roderick Robinson said...

Lucy: Ah yes, andouillettes were something I liked to boast about; a way of being thought courageous. But I was hoist by my own petard.

In France I egged on my son-in-law to order one for lunch. The taste turned his face white. Laughing, I sliced off a piece to demonstrate I was an old hand and to show him up as a wimp. Then my face turned white or possibly the whole spectrum; I have never knowingly eaten something putrified but this must surely have been a trailer to that experience. Being English (though it hardly shows in the Languedoc) I have been warned about them by French waiters - as one might a child. A bit like puffer fish in Japan.