This was supposed to be posted on Monday. Let’s just say that the events of Monday were not conducive to writing about poetry, and instead I had a large glass of wine. I did, however, make a rather successful cake! (This deserves a mention because my successful cake to really-not-very-nice-cake ratio is a bit skewed in favour of ‘dry-ish sponge that sticks to the bottom of tins’ in recent times. This was an unusual, and therefore precious moment.)
It’s a Hugh-Fearnley-Thingamy (really, I cannot be expected to remember ALL of your names, double-barrelled people!) recipe I tried after tasting a (probably much more accomplished) version made by my friend’s mum. I tracked her down, extracted details of where I could find the recipe, and attempted it myself – it really was that good! A great way of using raspberries – not that you need an excuse. The raspberries were from none other than Grumpy’s Garden™ (Rich’s dad. He suggested the name Grumpy, I should add. It wasn’t just us being rude. He’s a great gardener.) The almonds were courtesy of my mum, as I was gripped with a sudden desire to make this fairly late on Sunday night, and no almond-stocking shops were open! In this moment of crisis, I did what any responsible grown up would do: called my parents and told them I would be arriving IMMINENTLY to relieve them of their almond supply. My mother rose to the occasion in magnificent style.”Do you want the good news or the bad news? I’ve got almonds. A whole pack. The bad news? They were best before August 2009.” I took the risk. And on hearing the joyous news that ye ancient almonds had proved a success, she commented ‘you can’t beat a touch of maturity,’ which I think is a good lesson for us all.
If you want the recipe, it’s here. (Raspberry Almond Streusel Cake.) If you want some of my cake, tough nuts. The only drawback to successful baking: it vanishes.
Anyway, on with the poetry! This Monday (ahem!) I’ve chosen a bicycle-themed poem. This is because, throughout August, and perhaps a bit beyond, I will be writing a series called A Summer of Cycling, about how over the summer holidays, we’re trying we’re trying to use our bikes much more as everyday transport. Cycling with children is an adventure in itself, but it’s something I am increasingly passionate about. To get you in the mood, this is a great poem about cycling. And harpsichords.
Dearest, note how these two are alike:
This harpsichord pavane by Purcell
And the racer’s twelve-speed bike.
The machinery of grace is always simple.
This chrome trapezoid,one wheel connected
To another of concentric gears,
Which Ptolmy dreamt of and Schwinn perfected,
Is gone. The cyclist, not the cycle, steers.
And in the playing, Purcells’ chords are played away.
So this talk, or touch if I were there,
Should work its effortless gadgetry of love,
Like Dante’s heaven, and melt into the air.
If it doesn’t, of course, I’ve fallen. So much is chance,
So much agility, desire, and feverish care,
As bicyclists and harpsichordists prove
Who only by moving can balance,
Only by balancing move.
Michael Donaghy (1954-2004.)