Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Passing heads, paper and sliced bread

From my desk I watch through the raindrop-splattered window a head bob past over the hedge and now a jaunty umbrella.  No one passed slowly every one is hurrying with urgent purpose.

For a while I was quite pleased with the thought that I had been able to track down in Shakespeare's plays the two uses of the phrase "burning daylight" meaning to be in a hurry, with the help of a hefty and charming book called Shakespeare's Words. I bet you could have googled  it, says a friend. We try. He is right. But I love the book no less and given the need I shall use the book before Google in future. Provided of course that it  is to hand. Problem of  loyalty already.

On a whim I buy a packet of white,sliced bread. No such object has entered the house for as long as I can  remember. What is my purpose? I think it must be to reproduce the sort of sandwich or slice of buttered toast found in high street cafes, which I have never found unpalatable. At home I make myself a cheese and Branston pickle sandwich. My teeth sink into mush. They meet no resistance. This simply will not do. Yet thousands of people would be disappointed to find their bread of a different texture. Food for thought.

5 comments:

The Crow said...

In our family, that spongy white stuff is called cotton bread. I eat whole grain breads now - much prefer them, unless it is a dense whole grain white bread. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? Tastes very much like homemade, and makes great sandwiches and toast.

I've been thinking of you a great deal lately, hoping you are doing well - or, at least, better.

Rouchswalwe said...

I would crawl on broken glass for a delicious slice of German Bauernbrot, which can't be found here. And ... the crusts can be used to help babies when they're going through teething.

Roderick Robinson said...

Use the book before Google. Why? Suppose it's upstairs when you're down, etc.

Doing my French homework I read through about ten pages and underline the words I need to check. Once I used to lie on the couch with the book and my dictionary uncomfortably balanced; there might be seven or eight underlinings on a two-page spread; to avoid flicking backwards and forwards in the dictionary I would check them in alphabetical order and inevitably some words would get missed.

Using my online Oxford Hachette I now check each word as it comes regardless of its alphabetical order. If for some reason OH hasn't got it, I Google it. More particularly if it's a phrase I Google the phrase. Yes, the phrase can be sought in the dictionary but often this involves sorting two or three dozen phrases in a column of smallish type; Google takes me there in one.

Checking ten pages of underlined words (not the most congenial of tasks) used to take me an hour. Now it's done in ten minutes.

Frequently I allude to hymns in Tone Deaf - I remember one line but not the initial one (and that's how HA&M lists them). Google is particularly good on searching for religious stuff and I've never been stuck with a hymn.

Yes I am cutting out serendipity but then, if that's my aim, there's no more serendipitous tool than Google.

As I get older I forget words yet may need something immediately for the novel. There are various techniques for travelling from the definition to the word itself. Writing sonnets (perhaps this is an argument for not writing sonnets) I have the online rhyming/synonym dictionary open. Perhaps it's cheating.

My most recent large French-English-French dictionary (I regularly replace it) cost nearly £40. It's on a shelf within arm's reach of my keyboard. Yet it's so big it's an effort to lift it out on my desk. I have the feeling it's the last one I'll buy.

I have recently re-read Out Of Arizona and came upon the passage where Chris Day says books are what they leave behind; only the spines are necessary as reminders (He makes an exception for poetry). When I originally wrote that I did so because I needed some contrarian views that illuminated his character. More and more this attitude seems prescient. Both of us have condemned sentimentality in other areas; should we examine this with regard to books?

Joe Hyam said...

Crow My present resolve is to start making bread again on a regular basis. The spongy white stuff has been a nasty experiment.
Your thoughts are appreciated. It is good too to hear about the lives and progress of others. Keeping in touch with friends is hard to quantify, but a powerful tonic. Thanks for being around.

R German bread when I have eaten it has always been a varied and and exciting experience. At home when things are normal I make rye bread, and sour dough bread as well as trying to experiment with other breads. For me bread is probably the most satisfactory of regular home cooked food. My daughter and her family who recently had a holiday in Jordan are currently making Bedouin bread at home with the help of an upside down wok.


RR I use the dictionary facility on the Kindle regularly as I do the note-taking facility. I suppose however my recent experience with Shakespeare's Words simply pointed to a the fading pleasure of the feel of paper and board, the weight and smell of an old fashioned book. I remember, enjoyed and sympathised with the passage in Out of Arizona. Yes, where books are concerned I shall long remain an unapologetic sentimentalist.

Joe Hyam said...

Crow My present resolve is to start making bread again on a regular basis. The spongy white stuff has been a nasty experiment.
Your thoughts are appreciated. It is good too to hear about the lives and progress of others. Keeping in touch with friends is hard to quantify, but a powerful tonic. Thanks for being around.

R German bread when I have eaten it has always been a varied and and exciting experience. At home when things are normal I make rye bread, and sour dough bread as well as trying to experiment with other breads. For me bread is probably the most satisfactory of regular home cooked food. My daughter and her family who recently had a holiday in Jordan are currently making Bedouin bread at home with the help of an upside down wok.


RR I use the dictionary facility on the Kindle regularly as I do the note-taking facility. I suppose however my recent experience with Shakespeare's Words simply pointed to a the fading pleasure of the feel of paper and board, the weight and smell of an old fashioned book. I remember, enjoyed and sympathised with the passage in Out of Arizona. Yes, where books are concerned I shall long remain an unapologetic sentimentalist.