Saturday, 20 September 2014

Mostly about cheese by Sandra Horn



Chalk or cheese?
Sandra Horn
     Susan {Price} posed this question, so in the absence of any other inspiration I’m blogging about it. Well, cheese, obviously. Chalk isn’t good for much except making dust and shrieking against the blackboard fit to loosen all your fillings at once. Cheese, on the other hand…how can I extol thee?
     Here’s my favourite cheese joke, from Al Murray: ‘The French make 300 types of cheese. Keep going, chaps – one day you may get to cheddar.’ Except of course, he should have said Wensleydale. The crumbly sort, as was served on a slab of Yorkshire tea bread in the little café in the wall at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, in the old days. Sigh.
     My one-time boss, a formidable woman of strong opinions her whole team were supposed to share, once remarked, ‘I think we all agree that the French make the best cheese.’
     ‘Not all the time they can't make Wensleydale, they don’t,’ I muttered, thus putting myself in her bad books for evermore.  An attempt at a light-hearted Wallace and Gromit reference didn’t help. I didn’t care. And while I'm at it, bad cess to anyone contaminating it (Wensleydale) with such ridiculous fol-de-rols as cranberries or apricots. What are you thinking of? There will be a special circle of hell waiting for you, mark my words.
     I wish I’d put cheese in more of my books. I can only think of one, and it isn’t finished yet and might never be.  Mice, now… but their association with cheese is dubious, as you will know if you’ve ever tried baiting a (humane, I hope) mousetrap with it. Mice are largely indifferent to cheese, being somewhat low down the evolutionary scale.  Bacon will do, or chocolate.
     Once caught, we take the mice for a walk onto Southampton Common and release them, with the trap flap pointing away from our house.  Sometimes it takes them several days to find their way back, during which time we’ve grovelled about covering airbricks and any other outlets we can find with fine mesh. It doesn’t work. I do have a soft spot for them, though – in Nobody, Him and Me, they outwit the dreadful cat, Biter the Fighter.
     It got me accused of being a cat-hater, which I’m not, as witnessed by my lovable old tabby cat Miss Minkin in The Hob and Miss Minkin stories. She is too busy looking after her beautiful fur and taking refreshing naps to do more than just think about chasing mice and birds.
     Not like our local mob, who stalk round the bird feeders and get yelled at on a regular basis. Sometimes I shy my garden clogs, which are always within reach, at them, being careful to miss, naturally.
     Speaking of birds, which I was a moment ago, I seem to have a lot of them in the books . There’s The Crows’ Nest, Goose-Anna, birds galore in The Tattybogle Tree, a slew of pengiuns in I Can't Hear You! I Can't See You!, a crucial jackdaw in The Stormteller, a yellow canary in Babushka, an important seabird in The Silkie, and a special crow song by Ruth Kenward in Tattybogle the Musical. 
     You may not know this, but birds like cheese. They get our chopped-up rinds every day and always come back for more.They are clearly further up the evolutionary scale than mice. Or people who put cranberries in Wensleydale. And don't even get me started on mustard with cheese. Blurghhh!!!!!

10 comments:

madwippitt said...

Mmmmm, cheese. The French make jolly good cheese - but as you say, you can't help feeling sorry for them lagging so far behind British standards ... (Which reminds me of my favourite French joke - I assume it IS a joke - that when God made France and saw how beautiful it was, he made the French so the rest of us didn't all want to live there ...)
But chalk is important too - all those grassy downloads spread like a blanket over chalky hillsides, playing an important part in the creation of scrummy Wiltsire ewes milk cheese ...

Sandra Horn said...

True! I'd forgotten that. And the white cliffs of Dover, of course...
Thank you to whoever beautified my blog, by the way!

Bill Kirton said...

Cheese (mainly French, admittedly) is enjoyed in our house every day and it has that wonderful gift of interacting with wine - not in any digestive sense but in that the glass is almost empty, so you have another piece of cheese to go with it. But then there's some cheese left so you have to refill the glass.
Mind you Sandra, I was disappointed to learn that, by implication, my love of chocolate put me 'somewhat low down the evolutionary scale@.

Sandra Horn said...

Only if you don't like cheese!

madwippitt said...

Grassy downloads? What is with the spelling autocorrect? Downlands, obviously ...

Sandra Horn said...

I didn't even notice...read it as downlands

Lydia Bennet said...

I thought downloads was deliberate! Cheesy post Sandra! Nice train of thought. I can't eat cheese so I have to enjoy it vicariously! I'm fond of mice though so I applaud your use of humane traps and releasing the critters.

Debbie Bennett said...

Chalk is very useful. My kitchen carpet is full of as it gets walked in from outside where hubby is cementing lead-light windows for a huge pub refurb. Chalk is used to set and dry lead cement. When he came back from the glass suppliers with a huge bag of white powder, it looked like a coke deal.....

Enid Richemont said...

Forgetting cheese entirely - and I could - you have a musically brilliant ear for titles, Sandra. Love them.

Sandra Horn said...

Thank you, dear Enid!