Tuesday, 20 February 2018

I Parallel Park

Once, I lived in a one-way street with tightly-bound on-street parking. I was an expert at parallel parking on the left-hand side of the road.  Looking over my shoulder, I could, thanks to power steering, nudge my way into a space just longer than my car and end up with it neatly straight, placed at a few inches distance from the kerb.  I might wake up the next morning to a broken wing mirror and a curry splatted onto the windscreen, but at least I knew my angles.

I thought this skill for keeping things on the straight and narrow was, like making brownies, one I had acquired for life. But it turns out it was just for particular situations, and my son kindly pointed out to me the other day that, whilst my brownies remain roughly square, my parking has become skewed.

Parallel parking is an occasional activity these days - I travel by train as much as possible, and when I do have to park, it's usually in a marked out space, or a street-side so ample and so generous that I can drive into a space headfirst.

For reasons of basketball, though, last week I had to get into a small space: mercifully left-hand side. It took me five, or maybe seven, attempts of backing in, checking the kerb, realising I was adrift, heading out to start all over again. My son sat patiently with me throughout, occasionally opening his passenger door to look down and see where we were up to.

It was a companionable sort of dance this - me edging in, him checking, me edging out, him offering encouragement, me edging in, him checking, us chuckling, me edging out, him commenting on his game's highlights to pass the time before I edged in again. 

Back home, we concluded I need more practice, or less practice. Either way, I'm up for it.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

I Rate My Jams

I have been wondering how to rate my jams - the 11 jars plus one of blackcurrant I received from my Longest Serving Friend for my birthday. Five jars in, and I'm in danger of losing the plot. I haven't been sure how to do the rating - I've been mulling over categories such as 'Jamminess', 'Blackcurrantiness', 'Jamminess' ... and generally going around in circles. 

Inspired by marking some assignments, I have decided to use categories I'm used to - ones which are used to judge essays. The four categories are:

Presentation - How's the look of the thing, the grammatical integrity of its label?
Structure - how do the blackcurrants sit together? Is there a sense of flow and logic?
Content - How relevant is the jam to the question set?
Knowledge and understanding - Does the jam understand what it's trying to do?

The table below is a work in progress. I'm five jars in, seven blissful more jars to go.


Knowledge and Understanding
St Dalfour

Slim and elegant

Predictable and shapely
Loose – random placement of blackcurrants in a thick enough syrup.
Blackcurrant-lite compared to the others but maybe not compared with budget versions which my LSF didn't consider birthday material
This jam does not understand that it’s a jam. It thinks it’s a form of entertainment
Fortnum and Mason

Conservative and purposeful
A dense, thick jam. More of a spread, with its own definition of integrity
This jam, whilst rich and privileged, lacks self-awareness. It approaches toast as if it is triangular and crustless
Wilkin & Sons Ltd
Traditional yet stylish
A delightful texture which accommodates to any surface: toast, bread, spoon, tongue
The baby bear of blackcurrant jams. This jam can do no wrong, but it is risk-averse.
worthy and lower case

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference
Get your act together, Sainsbury’s
Somehow, the blackcurrants are whole and plump
Tart and sweet. Best of both.
This jam has the maturity to know when to lay it on thick. Every spoonful is a coming of age.
Oh pl-eeease! Streamline! I like the lid, though.

You know how I feel about Waitrose

Waitrose Duchy Organic
Jam is a classist issue

M & S
Come on M&S. Get in a new graphic designer. Maybe my friend Pixie.

Bonne Maman
Perfect. Does what it says on the jar. But what about Bon Papa?

Goetre Farm
Perfectly acceptable home-made appearance
Perfectly acceptable home-made structure
Perfectly acceptable  home-made content
Perfectly acceptable  home-made understanding of jam

Friday, 2 February 2018

I Grind My Teeth

... at least that's what the dental hygienist suggested to me today. Not that she suggested I start grinding them (in fact, maybe she was suggesting that I stop, but she didn't say that or offer me any suggestions, and neither should you). She suggested that night time grinding might be the explanation for wear and tear. I thought of mentioning eating as another possible explanation for wear and tear, but decided not to as I had a suction thing in my mouth by this stage.

And earlier today the Council suggested I won't get listed buildings consent for some loft alterations I want to make. When I look out across the town centre, at some of the various shop fronts clad in garish plastic, I wonder what the objection could be to me making an internal improvement to a building which has already been internally improved / altered by many people in its past: especially as this objection is designed to preserve some things that no one ever sees.

The hygienist also said that my teeth were stained green. Although I'd not noticed this, in the interval between her hypersonic jet cleaning and her more traditional tooth pick cleaning, I claimed peppermint tea in my defence. This was a precautionary measure in case she mentioned crème de menthe, or moss.  She said that chlorophyll is good for me, and I can keep drinking peppermint tea, but I have to brush my gums in the crowded part of my mouth with more discipline.

Before I wrote to the Council asking for their permission, I thought they'd be enthusiastic about my plan to upgrade an unused part of my home into useful space. I'd imagined it light, spacious, airy. And me, being a poet, looking out over rooftops before going downstairs to make peppermint tea.

Before I went to the dentist, I felt quite okay about my teeth. I have the same three fillings I've had since my sugar-fuelled childhood, and only one of those filled teeth is currently heading towards greater catastrophe.

I think I may grind my teeth particularly hard tonight, in-between bouts of snoring and dreams about being hemmed in, or losing all my teeth.