"Beautiful," says the fishmonger in the Pantiles Farmers Market, "demonstrating the forward fin of a gurnard. Gurnards seem to be generally available nowadays on fishmongers' slabs, presumably because of the shortage of more popular fish like cod, haddock and sole, which are becoming, for many people, depressingly esxpensive. Though an enthusiastic eater of fish, I have not got round to trying gurnard yet, and eager to find out more about it, I have been doing some research. It is, I learn, a member of the Scorpaenidae family, which doesn't mean much to me, until I read that the French name for gurnard is rascasse; and rascasse, as gastronomes insist, is the one fish, which is an essential ingredient of bouillabaisse. The late Alan Davidson, author of Mediterranean Seafood, quotes the writer Joseph Méry as evidence:
"La Rascasse, poisson, certes, des plus vulgaires.
Isolé sur un gril, on ne l'estime guère,
Mais dans la bouillabaisse aussitôt il répand
De marveilleux parfumes d'où le succes dépend."
A winged leaf, caught on a single strand of cobweb by its two ends, dances and quivers as it pulls the almost invisible web up and down, as though trying to get free. Its shadow against the white wall behind it, where the web is anchored, meanwhile mimes the fruitless struggle.
Outside the Mind, mental health charity, charity shop, a notice reads: "Books £1 each." It strikes me that this generic statement somehow reduces the differential that exists between books as it exists, for example, between paintings or films or people, in much the same way, but without the irony, as does Books Do Furnish a Room - that clever title in the Anthony Powell sequence of novels A Dance to the Music of Time.