Monday, March 31, 2014

How to really get along with your neighbours

Our cats Harriet and Beatrice have the habit, very occasionally, of following us up or down the street when we pop out. They're most fond of this at night, and would prefer it if we walk at a very leisurely pace to allow them to stroll just behind us, though if the occasion demands they've also been known to break into a brisk canter to keep up with us. This habit, I think, is entirely charming, so often of an evening I like to take a turn myself around the front of our Lalorian gardens, taking in the evening air and seeing a few sights with the cats.

It has been my fond wish that, one evening, a neighbour will be out in their lawn, and they will say, with a tone of inquiry in their voice: "hello, nice night to be out!"

"Yes!" I will say. "Just taking my cats for a walk!"

And there the conversation will end, with the neighbour thinking "why, what a charmingly quirky fellow he is, with attractive and well behaved cats!"

This evening I had my shirt off, because it was hot, and I was going for another walk up and down the footpath with Harriet (who is the most fond of walks). Actually I kind of had to persuade her to come with me for a walk - I sat down on the driveway until she walked out of the garden and onto the footpath and then joined her. (I didn't try calling her. She hardly ever comes when you call her). But she seemed happy enough to come, and so there we were, two intellectuals enjoying the cool of the evening. We got a couple of houses down when Harriet, as is her wont, jumped over into the front garden of one neighbour, and wandered up the driveway. A moment or so after that I saw a white flash - it must have been another cat, and Harriet ran after that. Not sure what to do, I kind of hummed and hawed, loitered a bit, and tried walking back a bit to see if Harriet would follow me. Nope.

So I tried walking back to the driveway Harriet had walked up and called her name. She duly presented herself again (the offending white cat apparently having vanished), and I began walking hopefully back up the path. Harriet didn't really seem interested, and I lost sight of her again (with her grey coat she's quite difficult to spot at night). Suddenly, horror of horrors, a car turned into the driveway! I quickly saw Harriet wasn't on the drive anymore, and then managed to spot her in the garden again. I called to her, but she didn't seem inclined to come at all. I kind of shifted from one foot to another awkwardly, fully aware that I was a strange shirtless man standing for no apparent reason outside the house of someone else who had just arrived home to see me there. 

Okay then.

"Um.... just trying to get my cat" I said. "She was on your driveway".

"Oh, she's all right isn't she?" said the neighbour.

"Yes," I said. "I can see she's in your garden. She's quite hard to spot because she has a grey coat....."

Then, for added verisimilitude, I called: "Harriet! Come on Harriet!"

She didn't come, of course. She hardly ever comes when you call her...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Flavour Review

What tastes better? The holes in Swiss cheese, or the holes in cinnamon donuts? This is a question that has perplexed man through the ages, ever since holes were discovered back in the ninth century by Albert Einstein. And yet until now, no-one has thought to perform a comparative study of the two.

Here at WTFF Flavour Review, we work hard to eat food for our valued readers, so we set out to sort this matter out once and for all. Taking part in the most high-tech complicated study the world has ever known, we ate several cinnamon donuts and followed it up immediately with a meal of several slices of Swiss cheese. Then, because we weren't certain whether we had tasted the right sort of holes or not, we ate several more slices of cheese and several more donuts.

Although at various times in history, conmen, shysters and hucksters have tried to pass off the hole in the middle of a bagel as being equivalent to the hole in the middle of a cinnamon donut, there's no mistaking the true, sweet, yet piquantly spicy flavour of a proper donut hole. It is undoubtedly true that a well-crafted donut hole completes the perfection of the donut, while contrasting elegantly with the rest of this classic food stuff. As Bertie Wooster says to Jeeves, "Top hole!"

We all know the taste of a classic Swiss Cheese hole. Later imitators, such as the holes in Cheezels and Burger Rings, have their uses (putting on fingers, for instance), but they are no competition for the true Swiss Cheese hole. Though small, these pleasingly round and flavoursome lacunae in the body of the cheese sweeten the bitter tastes and are said by the Swiss to be full of healthy, life-giving properties. (Later attempts to use hole-punchers to give cheddars and camemberts an authentic Swiss appearance have been doomed to failure). Yes, truly the hole in Swiss cheese is one of the most glorious Epicurean experiences on the face of this earth. Holy Moly!

Bigger: Donut holes. 
Cheesier: Swiss holes. 
Complication: what about cinnamon donuts with jam in the middle instead of a hole? 
Conclusion: yum.

Tomorrow, join the WTFF Flavour Review again, as we delve into the relativity of space time, the metaphysics of Hegel, and the pants of Ernest Hemingway as we examine the question: what lasts longer: a glass half empty, or a glass half full?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Catalogue des amoreux

Fell in love with a poet,
Changed my name for a rhyme.
Went out with a solipsist -
I became a figment of his imagination.
Had an affair with a marching band leader
Because he wanted someone to two-time with.
Had a fling with a plug
Because I turned it on.
Now I've just learned to live with myself
No funny business, though.
Because gay marriage is wrong, man.

Comments on the comments about the focus iin the comments

You know what gets me? The inevitable focus in the media on the lack of focus in the media on the March in Marchers, that's what! Because even with this inevitable  focus in the media on the lack of focus in the media of this important event, where is the lack of focus in the media on the inevitable focus in the media on the lack of focus in the media on this.... er.... um.... hang on....

You know what gets me? The inevitable lack of focus in the media on the march about the lack of focus in the media about the.... wait.... hang on....

So, in the end, I think what I can say, conclusively, is that it is precisely this lack of a lack of a focus on a focus on a march that may or may not have happened in March that is really dragging our country into the gutter. I think.

And we really ought to do something about it.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Did I forget to mention Atilla the Hun?

Hello everyone! Let's talk about Mongolia. I bet you were all just sitting there and thinking, 'I wish Tim would come onto his blog and talk about Mongolia, but I know he won't because it's just such an obscure subject'. Well I'd make no such assumptions if I were you, because as it turns I know heaps about Mongolia. Or one thing at least. Horses. It's all about the horses.

Yes, Mongolia is basically the tale of the beautiful relationship between a man and his horse. From the horses, they get milk*, and from the milk they get curds, and from the curds they get wonderful cheeses like Kashk. (Here is a picture of Kurdish women preparing Kashk in a village in Turkey, and being Kurdish they are not Mongolian but I bet they would be if they knew how to.)

But this is not enough for the industrious Mongolian and his horse. Oh, no, not nearly enough! Not only do they make cheeses, but their fermented drinks turn out to be made from milk as well. Arkhi is a kind of Mongolian milk spirit, and from the run off they make curds, Aarul, as well.

Mongolians even sing. (I bet you weren't expecting that, were you?) Mostly, they sing about their horses:

[the songs] often use horses as a symbol or theme repeated throughout the song.

Their favourite instrument is  the horse-head fiddle, thankfully not actually made from the head of a horse. And they also practice throat singing, a type of singing in which one person sings two notes at once, thereby rendering him or herself - hoarse. 

This has been a blog post about horses. I mean Mongolia. But usually both at once. Thank you for your time.

Mongolians letting their hair down in their spare time.(Image from Wiki).

*For the purposes of this blog post they do anyway.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Autumnal hymnal

It's autumn! And today we travelled to Kyneton and, while waiting for the train back, we went for a toddle around the gardens where I picked up some oak leaves and began writing poetry on the back of them. This, observed the Baron, was one of the most hipster things I have ever done.


I once was green
But now I'm brown. 
I loved the tree - 
It let me down.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Homage a la Spectator

When I first started subscribing to the Spectator I'd read it religiously, cover to cover, concluding with me flicking through the magazine to see if there was any cartoons I'd missed. It was quite an exhausting exercise, and rather unprofitable too, as at the time I probably should have been looking for jobs (or, at any rate, filling out a form saying I'd been looking for jobs). It got to be ridiculous; I didn't even have much time to read books. I'd barely have finished one issue of the Spectator before I received the next issue, and then the trouble would start all over again. Pretty soon the back issues were mounting up. I have a habit of leaving magazines folded open on the page I'd been reading on tables and benches and floors and toilet seats, a sort of casual domestic filing system, you might call it, so that didn't make it any easier to sort stuff out either. For a magazine largely devoted to current affairs, it was bloody hard to keep up with.

Anyway, it turns out I probably shouldn't have worried about keeping up with it. Because the Spectator doesn't really seem to be worried about keeping up with itself, either. The magazine comes out on Friday for the weekend but never arrives until after the weekend. Sometimes it misses Monday, too, and arrives on Tuesday. Sometimes it lazily appears in the letterbox on a Wednesday, presumably after having had a dawdle around the neighbourhood to see the sites.  And sometimes it leaves things up to Thursday, whereupon, having almost arrived it scratches its head and wonders if it mightn't like to leave things up until Friday, after all. This leaves open the terrifying but somehow wonderful possibility that sometimes, the previous issue might not arrive at a person's house until a few days after the latest issue arrives. Indeed, perhaps one day I will go out to the letterbox and find the long-delayed 1771 issue has arrived:
I have observed, that a Reader seldom peruses a Book with Pleasure 'till he knows whether the Writer of it be a black or a fair Man, of a mild or cholerick Disposition, Married or a Batchelor, with other Particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right Understanding of an Author. To gratify this Curiosity, which is so natural to a Reader, I design this Paper, and my next, as Prefatory Discourses to my following Writings, and shall give some Account in them of the several persons that are engaged in this Work. As the chief trouble of Compiling, Digesting, and Correcting will fall to my Share, I must do myself the Justice to open the Work with my own History.

It's Thursday at the moment, as it turns out. Having just collected the mail, I see that though there is a letter from my father, a copy of Earth Garden magazine (which I swear we have already received anyway*), and some other unimportant item of paraphernalia**, my Spectator still has not arrived. I regard this prospect with sublime bliss and contentment. If journalism largely relies upon a progressive diet of outrages and scandals and scandalous outrageous topping the previous weeks outrageous scandals, the Spectator, being a conservative magazine, never changes. It is greatly reassuring to unfold the latest issue, or the previous issue, (whenever either of them arrive) and to find that the world is getting worse, and there is nothing we can do about it. And the cartoons are pretty good, too. 

*Psst. Article by me and the Baron in it! Buy this fine publication! 
**Dunno, probably an overdue bill or some such. 

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Solemn thoughts for a Sunday evening

I should brush my teeth but I want a biscuit. There are no biscuits around the house. But I keep not brushing my teeth just in case a biscuit should miraculously appear. This seems unlikely. So instead of eating a biscuit I will drink a cool glass of water. It has a depressingly unbiscuit like texture and a taste that is not particularly akin to the taste of biscuit either, like so many things in this troubled, tormented world.

I will keep hoping for a biscuit for another half hour or so. You never know.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Show-off sesquipedalianism

This was just a silly thing I wrote trying to include as many sesquipedalian (six-syllable) words in as short a space as possible.

Hat tip to Sir PWAF who first used the phrase 'show-off sesquipedalianism'. What follows next is my fault.

And Abecedarians
And Old-Tipperarians

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Forgetting Hollywood, one celebrity at a time

There's a character in Italo Calvino's story-novel-book thing If on a Winter's Night a Traveller who is teaching himself to unread. That is, instead of looking at printed words and instantly knowing what they mean, he is trying to be able to look at words and not know what they mean; every day he practices unreading in the hope that one day all printed words will have completely lost significance for him.

I feel a little like that chap these days when I looked on a list of Hollywood celebrities and realised I had no idea who these people were. It is a particularly refreshing feeling, to each day know fewer and fewer of these people. Perhaps one day I will wake up and not know of any celebrity at all, and what a pleasant absence of knowledge that will be. Browsing through a long list of people being famous for being people who are famous taking photos with other people being famous for being people who are famous becomes a rich and rewarding experience, like meeting strangers for the first time and discovering how boring and dull they are. They have all starred in films I haven't seen or been the sons or daughters of people I don't know or been involved in some scandalous contretemps with other equally fatuous people or been in songs I haven't listened to and are probably pretty shit anyway. What is a Leto? Do they all have to come with a Jared? Why is Channing a Tatum?

A while ago I would at least have known vaguely that I ought to have seen such and such a film that so and so was in, and been able to sort my whosiwatsits from my watchicallits. But this year, these lists often inspire in me complete apathy and ignorance: there are names of people I will never know  and never care to know.

It would seem my long years not watching television, avoiding film, disregarding popular song, and ignoring all but the most unpopular news stories while spending most of my time on unsocial media sites like blogger are having an effect. I can't wait to see who I'll forget tomorrow. My only regret is that I won't be able to remember which unimportant person I'll have forgotten in order to be able to take pleasure in it (though I'm certain everyone will keep talking about them anyway, so maybe I'll be able to find out that way).
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