Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

BB's behaviourism lab

PORSCHE PREPARATIONS Once I’d driven it (see What’s a Good Present for a Hooligan?) I was regaled with stories about the difficulties of organising the project. Like the day Mrs BB inexplicably asked me to come out into the garden to see a withered dahlia while Younger Daughter rifled my wallet indoors, taking away my driving licence needed by the hiring company. And did I realise, I was asked, that my wallet lacked a driving licence for over a week? The two of them crowed about my inferior powers of observation.

Younger Daughter who was due to spend a couple of days with us, drove her Seat to the hirer to pick up the Porsche but was disinclined to take her cairn with her for reasons that can be imagined. Which meant that my first task was to drive YD to her home, 45 minutes away, in the Porsche to pick up the cairn. There must be something anti-canine about Porsches because the cairn appeared to suffer a nervous breakdown during the return.

CAKE QUESTION Elder Daughter and Peter stayed with us over my birthday celebrations and I was getting ready to take them to the bus station for their return to Luton when I was suddenly visited by a question I needed to put to Mrs BB.

How long does it take her to create those little cakes/buns that are done in paper cups?

Such questions arrive randomly but it’s no use telling Mrs BB that; she prefers to read between my non-existent lines and look for non-existent reasons. Thus I drove to the bus station (less than two miles), called in at Tesco’s filling station to pick up The Guardian, found they’d run out, drove back across the road to the main store, bought one there and then drove home. And you can guess what lay gently steaming in the kitchen when I opened the door. (Enhanced only with raisins I should add; the picture above came from Google).

“Have one while it’s hot,” said Mrs BB triumphantly. Delicious. But I must insist – however futile my insistence – that self-interest played no part in the question. Such questions crop up in my mind almost daily and the answers are filed away for random use (often in the novel) weeks or months into the future.

The answer is, by the way, twenty-five minutes


Julia said...

I think Mrs BB knows your subconscious better than you do in this case! I hope you had a great birthday, I'm a fan of August birthdays myself - I find they grow on you each year ;-).

Lucy said...

BB and cupcakes are not a pairing I would necessarily have made, but then again why not?

Sounds like your womenfolk love plotting, sorry the poor dog's psyche ended up as collateral damage.

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: Yes she does understand my subconscious but there are occasions - admittedly rare - when it is inoperative and she cannot be persuaded of this. When I was at primary school an August birthday was a disadvantage; I was always on school holiday and I was denied bringing in a cake to share with my classmates. Had I been born in December (as Lucy) I might have been more popular.

Lucy: I see I have written 514 posts and somehow have left a cupcake-less impression of myself behind. But what other - more significant - lacunae have also developed? Did you know for instance that I am congenitally incapable of playing babyfoot, that the smell of heated milk sends me retching to the sink, that I am a great enthusiast for the lesser novels of E. Nesbit? Verily, my character is more a piece of lacework than a Rothko. And yes the womenfolk do love plotting.

Something important has emerged from your comment. It turns out that seedcake cupcakes are possible and seedcake is my favourite. I believe we share this enthusiasm.

Julia said...

BB, I have an August birthday and had the same problem at school. When we were children we semi-solved it by taking in brownies on our half birthday in February, but we still missed out on the parties.

Now I'm a fan of an August birthday because it's a great excuse for a holiday, which seems to suit Europe's calendar quite well!

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: A half birthday! I was about to harangue Americans in general for an act of gross indulgence and then I turned to my birthday present, Information is Beautiful, a book which turns statistics into pretty patterns. There, on page 196, I realised how wrong I would have been. In a chart labelled Time to Get Away and sub-titled "Legally required paid annual leave in days per year" I learned that France leads the world with 25 days, Sweden is second with 20 days, the UK has 10 days and the US has precisely ZERO days. All I can say is you've outgrown your deprived upbringing.

Lucy said...

Seedcake came up the other day, in fact. We had to go to a funeral, and I said something like I was only going for the rock cakes, at which my spouse looked a bit blank. So I filled in that one of my father's favourite songs (or at least one that he often sang around the house, along with ''Enery the eighth I am, I am' his name being Henry) was about a man who went to his own funeral, a line of which went 'Look at the rock cakes, granite with knobs on...'

(You may deduce from this that my father was more music hall than Festival Hall. In fact my older siblings complain still that they were deprived of a visit to the Festival of Britain because it was politically disapproved of, though this was probably more my mother's initiative than my father's.)

At my father's own passing I expressed a wish to make rock cakes for the funeral tea, but my mother put the kibosh on the idea as somehow irreverent and inappropriate, so I was obliged to make seed cakes instead, which were apparently fitting and traditional on such occasions.

I rather like them, though they remind me a little of gripe water, and the seeds get between your teeth.

Barrett Bonden said...

There is something faintly risible about rock cakes, provided they haven't been over-cooked with the raisins converted into pellets of coal when they become entirely unbearable. Your mother may have had right on her side.

It sounds to me that the second quotation is from a song I particularly like. Another sample verse:

Look at your grandma
Bloody old haybag,
Isn't it grand boys,
To be bloody well dead.
So let's have a sniffle
Hell, let's have a bloody good cry,
And always remember the longer you live
The sooner you'll bloody well die.

Worth it for those two lines of the chorus. I bow to your greater knowledge of gripe water.

Rouchswalwe said...

Twenty-five minutes to heavenly tastes! That's how long it takes the bus to reach the beer mecca downtown! Coincidence? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps (my favorite Doris Day song).