Sunday, 31 January 2010

In countdownmode - now D-8

I have been scurrying round today unearthing archives for the retrospect of my involvement in marketing science which I am due to give in Adelaide. Looking at old work files is depressing - so much effort of which so often little came. Even worse one can see looking back that much of the effort at the time was misdirected and clearer thought would have produced more at less effort.

I am now in my anecdotage - I have a repertoire of stories with which my friends are becoming regrettably familiar. At least though my tales have a beginning, a middle and an end. I have acquired a little voice recorder to which I am starting to entrust these reminiscences for the edification and perhaps amusements of future generations. There remains the slight techncal problem of gettingmy words from the voice recording onto paper. I am looking for voice recognition software which will take the files which the recorder will helpfully create on my PC and turn them into Word files ready to be edited.

Archives kept on PCs are very vulnerable - they die either with the PC or if they survive that they die with their creator. I propose therefore to go through my collection of photographic prints and discard the bulk of them. the others I shall put in albums with some annotation. But who will ever look at them? I have inherited old albums full of photographs of scenes from the past of which I know nothing and showing people of whom I know nothing. My collection therefore should be small and such as to be of interest to younger family members who would like to know something of their forbears.

More constructively I made some lamb curry for my supper - a very English curry based on cold lamb from the freezer and curry paste but I though quite successful. Cooking for oneself is an odd business - mostly it is something easy, though I eschew prepared meals, and a bacon sandwich is always a tempting option. On occasion though I take the trouble to prepare something a little better and enjoy sitting down to a table laid as for guests - Lucullus dines with Lucullus.

Catering for guests always has the problem that one cannot be in two places at once. One wishes to be with one's guests and also in the kitchen. I do not have the size of kitchen nor the ability to talk and cook at the same surrounded by guests with their pre-prandial refreshment.

Careful selection of dishes helps, with something either cold or like soup needing only serving to start with. A main course is trickier though as a celebrated chef wrote recently the trouble with amateurs is that they try to get everything ready at once - items can be kept hot.

My ambition is to serve a souffle but I have not yet attempted even the necessary rehearsals. The principle is very easy. The preparation clearly needs very close attention. Pancakes straight from the frying pan are easier - if I called them crepes, cooked them and piled them up in advance it might serve. I could then serve them flambe with flaming brandy. Catering after all is a branch of entertainment.

A few warmer days have seemed like Spring. The snowdrops are already flowering and in a neighbour's garden daffodils are already in bloom. The willow trees at Whitcombe at the bottom mof the hill on the way to Dorchester already have a pink tinge when one sees them as one comes down the hill. Whitcombe was a thriving village once but has never been the same since the Black Death. The next dip intheroad takes on past Came. Thomas Barnes the vernacular poet ot the ninethteenth century held the living as Recor, a far from onerous charge with only one or two cottages and Came House. Came House is not big as such houses go but is very grand in style. We once went to a Carol Service in the disused Came Church, very chilly indeed, and afterwards to mulled wine and mince pies in the Grand Saloon of the House, very chilly indeed.

The builder was the brother of Lord Damer who in the 1770's acquired Milton Abbey where he blended the ruins of the mediaeval Abbey with a large new mock-Gothick house, now a school.

Offended by the sight of the surrounding village he moved it away from sight to what remains a pcturesque street of cottages but to the inconvenience of the inhabitants. One man who was brave enough to go to law to keep his property was ruined. The site of the old village became a lake with a surrounding landscape shaped by Capability Brown who was very good at that sort of thing. The lake was drained it is said to prevent it being an aid to navigarion by bombers in 39-45 and has never been reinstated but the landscape as seen from the school remains delightful. Lord Damer's figure in an elaborate marble monument in the church shows his unlikely support by angels.

I have been looking for a picture to include but can see nothing that fits. I am mindful of Alice's comment in Alice in Wonderland, "A book without pictures is very dull."

So that is that.

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