March 23: anglo-saxon and farts

There is a word in anglo-saxon (I can’t remember what it is) that means the relationship or kinship between two men who have slept with the same woman. In anglo-saxon times where relationships and status would have been codified and legalised more formally than today such a state of being would probably have implied specific rules or norms of behaviour. Today, depending on individual personality and behaviour, it could imply any number of relational modes. It could be unspoken or the subject of quip or resentment, depending on circumsatnce and character.

There is another word I know to exist but which I have forgotten and, despite my best efforts, cannot trace. It is the word for the noise that you make after you have farted to give the impresssion that the fart was not a fart but another noise, the squeak of a shoe on a floor, a sound emitted from your mouth. I cannot recall whether this word can also refer to burps or any other unseemly exhalation, or indeed whether it is a word that refers to any subsequent act or gesture made with the intention of reconfiguring other people’s interpretation of an earlier act or gesture.  Whatever the word was or still is, it highlights a very useful concept. In retrospect we often rework an earlier act and look to fool others or even ourselves that the earlier act was of the same nature as the latter. They are everyday acts of deception and self-deception that keep our world such a complex minefield.

In fact, like the anglo-saxon word for a co-intimacy-sharer, it is perhaps because there is no ready term that springs to mind for the phenomenon that such ideas are so fertile. A word can lock down a meaning and drill the life out of it.

March 22: my shopping list

My Shopping List




Creme Fraiche but no fresh cream

And 3 red herrings



Sugar free

Goose fat but no fat

And 3 red herrings

A vegetables (Aubergine Apparagus Artichoke)

No C vegetables (Carrot Cabbage Cauliflower)

Caffeine free

Saucisse de Toulouse but no Saucisse de Cumberland

And 3 red herrings



Ask your local gamekeeper*

Pancetta but no bacon

And 3 red herrings

Pulled pork

Coconut oil

Charred A vegetables


And 3 red herrings

And 2 lbs of Gluten

Good Appetite!

*Advice given in The Guardian

March 16: creating drama where there is none and suppressing drama where there is some

In the gym today a man called across to someone going into the changing room: Trying to sneak past me, are you?  They laughed. They were friends and greeted each other. I make this kind of remark too. Here he is! I say, as someone comes in the door, as though we had just been talking about the new arrival. Or talk of the devil! Even though we weren’t talking about him. Your lot got battered the other day.( Arsenal losing 1-0). All we are doing is creating colour, drama even, where there is probably none. We just want something to be going on while we’re standing around.

However, when there is really something going on, something difficult, something embarassing, something awkward, we suppress the drama, we don’t mention it. We say All right Jeff? (Jeff’s wife just left him) or Good morning Sammy (Sammy’s in trouble with the boss) or Hiya (Julie’s got cancer). We skirt the drama, if there is one.

It might be there is an optimum colour we want in our everyday conversation. There may be a mathematical formula for this. Nothing too vivid but with a dash of story, preferably fictional.

March 9: hat man grabs oscar

I am disappointed in Mark Rylance. He has let us all down. Mark Rylance likes to wear his hat indoors, even at Oscar ceremonies. It is normally a trilby. This doesn’t look right to me. For an actor of his ilk it can’t be right. The trilby is too jaunty. You can’t be jaunty all the time. If he wore different hats this would at least reveal a playful quality rarely apparent in his mostly ponderous acting. He could wear a fez now and again, or a bowler. We would look forward to his hats. At his death it would be Hat man dies. Hats, in any case, are suspect. They are worn by men unhappy about hair loss or artists (artists in the fine arts). For artists in the fine arts, which includes art teachers, hats, preferably brimmed, represent creativity.  I once saw Daniel Barenboim in a hat on a record cover. This was ill advised. He is a musician not a fine artist though he is and was losing his hair. It made him look like a show-off, which is the last thing you want going through people’s minds when they are listening to him playing Beethoven. Hats are mostly dubious, politically. As a politician, a hat might well cost you your career. There would be speculation. Why does he have a hat? What’s he covering up. In this, it is much like having a personal trainer, a guru or a personal astrologer, though the latter could work in America. You could never trust a politician with a hat. Much like a beard in that respect. Or facial hair in general. Much frowned upon. In deep winter people wear wooley hats to keep them warm as the head is where 80% of the heat goes from. That last fact is nonsense, by the way. Where else would the heat leave from, as it is the only uncovered part of the body? If you pulled your trousers down over your buttocks, 80% of your heat would go from there. Perhaps even more.

March 3: right brain left brain

After thirty years it’s finally come round. The realization that the right brain left brain stuff is mostly bollocks. You remember how they said things like that if you get to an appointment early you are analytical and if you get there late you are creative. And there was me thinking you were just bad-mannered. Maybe that’s a creative act too. Well, apparently, as I heard on Radio 5 Live yesterday, it’s not that simple. The brain is a bit more complicated.

Of course, not being a brain surgeon, I never had any proper authority to speak on that matter. But the real issue for me has always been the word creative. In many ways Shakespeare, whose working method of collecting and collating major sources as well as interpolating bits and bobs of fragments and vocabulary he had heard around town or in official or non-official documents,  seems to have been that of a magpie. One might easily see this as a civil-servantish, mostly analytical working method. Anyway, now the secret’s out. Right brain left brain was bollocks anyway, notwithstanding how you define creative and analytical.

I don’t know if I’m happy or not that the thing I’ve been ranting about for twenty years has suddenly dispersed in air, into thin air, as Shakespeare that faceless analytical pen-pusher would have said. I suppose I’ll find other things to fret over.