Sunday, 4 October 2009


Made it to a few boots today but pickings were slim. I did find a nice little OXO tin a couple of inches long that I will keep my dip pen nibs in – neither my wife or I remember these small OXO tins so I guess it dates to before the second world war. Inside the lid the inscription reads “Children love OXO or OXO with milk, and thrive on it”. You what? Someone once told me that during a drinking game years ago they had been ordered to drink a large gin mixed with the juice from a jar of pickled cockles – OXO and milk must have come from a similarly tortured mind.

 One thing I had my eye out for today was a brass disk to complete the repair of my large inkpot and luck was with me when I spotted an old brass eight ounce weight from a set of scales on a blokes pasting table. “How much mate” I asked – “It’s got to be a quid innit” he offered. “Fifty pee” I offered in return. Sucking in air through his teeth he hefted the weight in his palm and pleaded “Look its brass and it’s got to be half a pound”.Eying his son who was on the verge of cracking up I threw back at him “Half a pound it is then – here’s yer fifty pee” and with a pained look on the poor chaps face we concluded the deal. (His son by this time had turned the other way – shoulders shaking with laughter).

I have always loved to cook and watch others practice their craft on TV so I was particularly saddened to hear of the premature death of one of the best of the breed – Keith Floyd - so as my own tribute to a character who has given me so much pleasure over the years I include here one of my favourite passages from culinary literature – I bet Floyd knew it and enjoyed it as well.

A mighty fire was blazing on the hearth and roaring up the wide chimney with a cheerful sound, which a large iron cauldron, bubbling and simmering in the heat, lent its pleasant aid to swell. There was a deep red ruddy blush upon the room, and when the landlord stirred the fire, sending the flames skipping and leaping up--when he took off the lid of the iron pot and there rushed out a savoury smell, while the bubbling sound grew deeper and more rich, and an unctuous steam came floating out, hanging in a delicious mist above their heads--when he did this, Mr Codlin's heart was touched. He sat down in the chimney-corner and smiled.

Mr Codlin sat smiling in the chimney-corner, eyeing the landlord as with a roguish look he held the cover in his hand, and, feigning that his doing so was needful to the welfare of the cookery, suffered the delightful steam to tickle the nostrils of his guest. The glow of the fire was upon the landlord's bald head, and upon his twinkling eye, and upon his watering mouth, and upon his pimpled face, and upon his round fat figure. Mr Codlin drew his sleeve across his lips, and said in a murmuring voice, 'What is it?'

'It's a stew of tripe,' said the landlord smacking his lips, 'and cow-heel,' smacking them again, 'and bacon,' smacking them once more, 'and steak,' smacking them for the fourth time, 'and peas, cauliflowers, new potatoes, and sparrow-grass, all working up together in one delicious gravy.' Having come to the climax, he smacked his lips a great many times, and taking a long hearty sniff of the fragrance that was hovering about, put on the cover again with the air of one whose toils on earth were over.

'At what time will it be ready?' asked Mr Codlin faintly.

'It'll be done to a turn,' said the landlord looking up to the clock--and the very clock had a colour in its fat white face, and looked a clock for jolly Sandboys to consult--'it'll be done to a turn at twenty-two minutes before eleven.'

'Then,' said Mr Codlin, 'fetch me a pint of warm ale, and don't let nobody bring into the room even so much as a biscuit till the time arrives.'

Charles Dickens – The Old Curiosity Shop – Chapter 18

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