Monday, 30 April 2012
Sunday, 29 April 2012
What I discovered, on my way, was the assertion that Orwell had tattoos.
I find it hard to imagine tattoos on the body of that stern Etonian. Orwell, the
quintessential Englishman. But perhaps, just maybe...
I find it hard to imagine tattoos on the body of that stern Etonian. Orwell, the quintessential Englishman. But perhaps, just maybe...
seems that he had these little blue circles on his knuckles that the Burmese
believed warded off evil spirits.
It seems that he had these little blue circles on his knuckles that the Burmese believed warded off evil spirits.
- First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase 'a nice cup of tea' invariably means Indian tea.
- Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britannia ware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.
- Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.
- Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.
- Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.
- Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.
- Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.
- Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.
- Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.
- Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.
- Lastly, tea — unless one is
drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I
know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call
yourself a true tea lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by
putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or
salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If
you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting
the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in
plain hot water.
Some people would answer that they don't like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.
Saturday, 28 April 2012
Friday, 27 April 2012
Thursday, 26 April 2012
the lights to change. He gets it wrong and has to dash as the engines build their revs.
He pushes his bike on the pavement and walks on looking straight ahead.
I remember a time when he was buying reduced wine with a voucher in M&S of all places, reeling a jig at the queue unable to control his legs and already smelling like a crate of bottles clinking in a truck the morning after New Year’s Eve.
Just another town drunk with a story waiting to be told.
Monday, 23 April 2012
In a bid to get some energy into my sluggish winter body I have taken to experimenting with psycho-geography. Not in a big way because I’m not sure I fully understand it. But I’ve set off in the opposite direction to where the crowds are generally heading, plunging into side-streets that lead to uninviting warehouses where fruit and veg get distributed from. Gloomy places with shutter doors locked against the afternoon light: the loading of the trucks is an early morning business. Dirty cabbage leaves lie in the gutters along with the smear of orange or strawberry. Should anyone see you round here they look you up and down and you feel like a trespasser.
Sometimes I achieve the effect of getting lost. I’m in the city where I work and have absolutely no idea where I am. Here is a flash of sunshine and the air feels white and cold. There are flats on both side of the road. They’re white and clean with the orange stripe of a balcony. A woman in a summer dress stands on her balcony and smokes. She hasn’t seen me. She has black hair and a white comb set in her hair. Someone on the opposite side shakes out a white rug as if sending a signal. Dust puffs into the air. I could be anywhere until I turn down an alley that leads to the docks.
A red ferry sits on the brown-green water. A ghostly turret with dead flies and cobwebs in its windows sits on top of a long white building that might have once been a hotel. And this must have been the place where John and Yoko tried to get to get to Holland or France. The place where the man in the mac sent the both of them back.
Sunday, 22 April 2012
rise to glass
read for hours
grey as a
riding the lanes
as he flowers
Saturday, 21 April 2012
When he woke and heard the wind shaking the glass his first thought was a crazy one.
He climbs over her sleeping body. Feels around in the dark until his fingers touch
denim and leather.
Rain in the darkness.
Wind buffeting the trees.
The sound of these things.
Rain and wind on the skin.
The smell of rain, taste of the wind.
The shape of things that can’t be seen.
Mind you, it’s still dark now. Rain pulses on the black glass. Somewhere in sleep
he pictures that day in Glastonbury. It still measures up against everything that
he’s have been part of since.
Green-leaved, black-berried ivy spreads
in white rooms where the lights are all dead.
Friday, 20 April 2012
The girl reading the telegraph pole, she must have heard my feet or something. One of her fat friends giggles. The big girl steps away from the lamppost.
What she’d been looking at was this poster. A photo of a man lying on his belly on a bed. Wearing only his boxers, looking at the camera. Smiling. As if he was pleased to be photographed wearing next to nothing.
Now he’s pinned to a telegraph pole: a telegraph pole pin up for anyone to look at because it’s his eighteenth birthday. I know, because that’s what the sign says. The tiny car sinks on its springs.
I get in my car and drive home knowing that whatever else happens today, no-one’s going to post pictures of me on telegraph posts.
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Monday, 16 April 2012
His friend had hit a deer. In a car, that is.
I mean, he drove his car into a deer.
White wines also.
Saturday, 14 April 2012
Friday, 13 April 2012
Sunday, 8 April 2012
Saturday, 7 April 2012
Friday, 6 April 2012
Thursday, 5 April 2012
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
After the truck had dropped them off in the dusty yard, the sun beating down, Des lit another Player’s and King waited until no-one was looking.
The coast was clear. He grabbed the sack of unsold bread and buns dumped behind the baker’s.
King was near on seven foot and had thin white hair like an albino. He marched down the lane with the sack of bread, courgettes sticking out of his pockets. This bold initiative meant that food was, pretty much, free.
Sometimes King stole a ready-cooked chicken from the corner shop where the staff were none too clever. The only thing he regularly bought was Douwe Egbert’s After Dinner Coffee and crystals of brown sugar.
The trees were in full leaf and the sky was a perfect blue. King left the lane and stepped onto the track. He put the sack down and wiped his forehead. He looked back the way he’d come and waited. Hoisting the sack again, he followed the path that bordered the lake. He slowed his pace and started to look about him.
He could smell the water in the lake.
In many ways, he’d tell people, his was an idyllic life. He whistled a tune one summer’s evening drunk to hell, I lay there nearly lifeless…
It was an idyllic life. The trees looked so big and green. Work was plentiful and food was free for the taking but there wasn’t any money of course. Every penny earned had to be saved.
The lake, although popular with the Canada geese and even a grebe, wasn’t real. Gravel extraction had created a vast pit that was now filled with green-brown water. Until recently, the lake had been used for water-skiing. A pine-clad clubhouse had been built on the far shore. One night it had burned, but the walls remained and provided King with an easy supply of kindling.
King rounded the clubhouse and the bender came into view: a pod of blue and red canvas supported by hazel poles. The white ash of the fire-pit still smoked and the horse stood sleeping, its nose inches from the pink salt brick that it had forgotten to lick. ‘Scramble!’ King called and the horse jolted awake.
King wanted better things. He wanted a wagon, and, most of all, he wanted to travel: to put the old man and the town with all of its bad scenes far, far behind him - move on to something new.
Monday, 2 April 2012
The house is asleep. I think about resolutions when I hear a sound that’s either
someone breaking wind or someone unzipping their sleeping bag.
I contemplate this mystery and wonder what the year will bring.