Sunday 31 October 2010
Best in show
Must end soon.
One Fine Day
Friday 29 October 2010
In this stupendous work, we scarcely know which to admire most -
the extensive erudition, or the unwearied,
we might say super-human, labour of its author.
Dr P. may well exclaim, with the Roman bard,
'Momentum exegi aere perennius.'
Dr Johnson's great Dictionary, in four volumes,
cost not one tenth the pains and research that
Dr. P's Pentaglot must have done.
Dr P. will not be rewarded during his life-time,
for the labour he has undergone
and the wear and tear of mind and body
which he must have experienced in the construction of a book,
that might be considered a hard task for a long life of
literary drudgery in the study,
free from every other avocation or pursuit.
What, then, must have been the destructive toil
by the midnight lamp, stolen from rest and sleep,
during the compilation of this
immense cyclopedia of dry technical terms,
definitions, and derivations.
A genuine review for the life's work
of a distant forbear which it was my privilege to peruse
in the British Library yesterday.
If only I could say,
'Momentum exegi aere perennius.'
about my humble scribblings.
In fact I have no idea what it means as Google translate
is no help at all,
so unless Mr M. is looking in...
I must just hope that it isn't rude.
Thursday 28 October 2010
I would want to find her,
even if we weren't related.
This sweet portrait,
by Jean Francois Bosio is called
Girl Feeding a Canary.
I have to confess,
it may not be her,
but she had a pet canary
and it escaped from its cage.
She followed it into the vineyard and called to it
and returned to the house
with the bird perched on her finger
which pleased her people so much that
they had her portrait taken lifesize
with the bird on her finger.
So it will do for me.
Tuesday 26 October 2010
Please excuse the brevity of my posts for a while.
I have been firing up the little grey cells,
unaccustomed as they are
to the rigours of academe,
in the pursuit of an elusive ancestor;
a fugitive of the French Revolution.
out of my comfort zone
Monday 25 October 2010
... in ten words,
with no word longer than two letters:
If it is to be,
it is up to me.
A pithy mantra from an essay called,
The Pleasure of Litter-picking
by Valerie Grove
Little Things that make Life worth Living
produced by The National Trust.
Sunday 24 October 2010
A walk first taken over thirty years ago,
and revisited today.
A golf course has taken some heathland;
a new housing estate encroaches,
but not all the jewels were plundered.
Thursday 21 October 2010
The perfect tea-table?
When the cocktail fashion was in full swing
there was a particular tea-table in London that remained notable.
Whether you were hungry as a hunter
or merely wanted tea and talk,
it met the case perfectly.
I must describe it because it seemed to me
the apotheosis of the tea-table.
Its beauty did not lie only in old silver and delicate china,
but in the intelligent way the food was served.
For the hungry there were different breads on a wooden platter
to be cut thick or thin as you pleased.
There were cheeses also on a wooden board
and a long dish of lettuce hearts and radishes.
There were home-made jams and exotic jams and aromatic honeys.
There was dark, sticky gingerbread and cream
to eat with it if you chose;
there might be an ethereal orange cake.
Lady Portarlington, whose table it was,
has a gift for associating beauty with essentials.
That combination of the elegant with the robust -
the wood and silver touch - stays in my mind.
Lest you think it unseemly to describe
so rich a feast in these austere days,
let me point out that the principle is perfectly suitable now.
No food cut about, no sandwiches to go stale,
nothing left to waste because it was uneaten.
Cheese from Neal's Yard,
The Tassajara Bread Book-
so now I just have to choose the cake recipes.
Nigel Slater has a
Double Ginger Cake
Fresh Gingerbread with Lemon Icing
and John Pawson has the ethereal
Orange and Almond Cake
with cardamom syrup.
Come into the Garden Cook
by Constance Spry 1942 .
Still Life of Salt cellar, Cheeses, Bread and Radishes.
by Maerten Boelema de Stomme 1611
Wednesday 20 October 2010
All things bright and beautiful
Early morning mantlepiece,
mid morning Pilates,
supermarket car park,
mid afternoon cosmos,
late afternoon washing.
dazzlingly, spotlit day.
Which version did you sing?
Monday 18 October 2010
Strip the Willow
Once upon a time
a little twisty twig.
It grew out of a low wall.
The little twisty twig grew little twisty branches
and was viewed as an interesting
and welcome addition to
the low wall.
The little twisty bush was novel and ornamental,
a charming, serendipitous curio.
The little twisty bush
surreptitiously lengthened its trunk
and became a little twisty tree -
a twisted willow tree.
It shed its twisted yellow leaves decoratively,
and shaded the greenhouse
a little too effectively,
because quite without anyone noticing
it had grown into
an enormous, jumbled mass
of serpentine branches.
It grew until you could no longer see
the gigantic Leylandii
One day it outgrew its strength
and one of its twisty branches split and crashed
onto the ancient but little apple tree cowering in its shadow.
Tree surgeons came and said, business-like,
'It fulfills two of the 4 Ds -
dangerous and damaged.'
And so the work began.
It took four hours.
It's amazing how much light
I'm going to grow some peas
up some little twisty twigs
Saturday 16 October 2010
My walnut whip cake.
Using my mother's walnut cake recipe
with a chocolate ganache icing.
(For Mr M.)
My Carlton ware lustre garlic bowl.
(For Mrs M.)
Thursday 14 October 2010
I saw the first of the twelve men
who landed on the moon's surface
over 230,000 miles away in 1969,
but I have been at least as moved and impressed
by the landings on the Earth's surface
of each of the thirty-three men
who were trapped
Wednesday 13 October 2010
With Sunil and Saurabh and Salil
and many other anonymous men and women
please hold the line
long, long silences on hold,
many new numbers,
to new departments,
promises to call back,
today, tomorrow, next week,
send a form,
credit a card,
write a cheque,
Please bear with me
Many reiterations of name and account number,
demented repetitions of the whole sorry story.
The telephone battery even gave out.
And that was just today.
I have been trying to get a refund
for the money that B.T took twice every month
for nine months
for our broadband account.
And today another man said,
'I'll sort this out for you.'
and I didn't believe him.
But he did.
The money is in our account,
but It has tainted this forever.
Roses from Bella
A vase of
The link goes to Wikipedia (where else?)
and makes nerdy chocoholic reading.
I too miss several of the discontinued varieties,
the Chunky Truffle, Bournville,
Almond Charm and Turkish Delight in particular.
And now I must fortify myself
for round 5 with B.T.
for the back story.
not our cat
Tuesday 12 October 2010
I'm always happy to see the rainbows again.
It's a seasonal event,
a spring and autumn,
when the sun is low enough to catch the prisms
on the landing window.
But you have to be vigilant.
It's a fleeting touch.