no celery

Putting my stylishly brogued boot to my tender Scots behind, I am blogging just a wee bittie this morning to keep my sporadic dairy from becoming utterly moribund.  Being about the happy business of transforming a gladmaking engagement into someting altogether more glorious is, as it turns out, is rather distracting, innit.  Those wishing for the journalistic delights of hearing this story told in style know where they can go…

Yesterday, the Ring-bearer and I added to our golden brood by purchasing wedding bands—one each seemed sufficient, although we read in the Seraphaville Times that a seasonal five of the blighters would this year retail at the incredibly low price of $475 Canadian.  This was hogwash, alas.  Still, fine gold rings were to be had at a still very reasonable and more reassuring price in the old-fashioned jewellers we patronised.  The proprietor has an old-world way with the flannel too.  When trying on the chaps’ bands, I joked that Mrs B.A.-to-be liked the broadest ones best since they would most clearly announce to all the women in a five block radius my married status.  “Ah,” he replied with a charming grin, “Quite right—I don’t blame her…”  Reader, he got our custom.

Yesterday was also completely priest-ridden.  More priests than I could have shaken a stick at—which is just as well since I’m sure Canon Law is pretty down on threatening clerics.  And besides, none of them really deserved a beating.  Priest shortage?   What priest shortage?  And now we are off to sample the Gallic delights of Montreal, where more of the DC’s fine family is to be found.  To that end, I finish this post with an ‘eartfelt au revoir!

Encore plus tarde. [Er, I promised the DC I’d try to get all my cod French out of my system before setting foot where it may be found offensively lame…]


Well, dear and faithful few, what reward for this long  blog-drought?  Naught, I fear (for the moment at any rate) but a meagre haiku.  I am safely and most happily arrived in the household of my fair fiancee, and this is just a wee heids up to announce that gladmaking fact.  The following verselet was composed on my way thereto, and you should probably take into account my inevitably distracted state of mind when appraising it.  More from Seraphaville when the delirium of it all subsides so do keep checking in now, won’t you.

Ocean Pie

Floating high above

Forked-over mashed potato,

Mid-Atlantic cloud.

Well, having acquitted myself of hostly and chivalric duties by forbearing to post more detailed news of my recent personal epiphany until the the lady in question had herself had a chance to do so, I have some wee beans to spill.

In the very week of my reception into the household of the Faith (Laus Deo), my household (i.e., me) has been blessed with the presence of a certain Canadian lady blogger.  Dear Seraphic Single, my e-dealings with whom over the last months many of you will have witnessed, has been the ideal houseguest –  even to the supererogatory point of consenting to be associated with me in a somewhat more personal way than mutual blogging usually entails.  I shall make myself more clear (and a grateful nation gives thanks).  Seraphic S and I are, as she has charmingly explained to her parents, “walking out together” (and a grateful nation gives thanks).

I am naturally in a state of giddy delight about all this, but will spare you all the gushy, emo-bloggery.  What I will say is that this has been quite the most wonderfully odd fortnight of my entire puff.  Moreover, the good lady herself wishes me to mention to all who have recently been scouring the muddy dregs of the e-tmosphere for photies of me that the those currently available do not, in her fond estimation, quite do me justice.  That is to say, none of them are worthy of the brush of Hans Holbein, whose more attractive subjects she endearingly insists I resemble.  Honest.

This tribute to her (as this, albeit cack-handedly, is intended to be) must be wrapped up now (and a grateful nation gives thanks), for I can scarcely string together two consecutive words without grinning and giggling .  God bless the gorgeous wee beastie though, eh?

 … “trifle”.

As if my poor dinner guests did not have enough to contend with at the old Palazzo Ben’Ambro, I recently concocted a quick, easy and utterly cheaty pud.  It can only by the most athletic stretch of terminology be described as a trifle, but what it lacks in authenticity and sophistication it makes up for on the ease and temporal economy fronts.  If you would know the secret of this dish, you need but read on. 

First, take as many slices of (moderately) stale brioche (you may cut off the crusts if you affect gentility) as you have mouths to feed, and either toast them till light brown or (if you care even less about your cholesterol intake than I do) fry them in a pan with butter till equivalently hued.  Next spread the slices with a thick layer of good fruity jam (I used an excellent Scottish bramble jam, but if you prefer lychee and guava, well… ).  Finally, scoop some pre-softened fine vanilla ice-cream (check for the speckling of vanilla seeds) onto each serving and garnish liberally with ripe soft fruit (brambles and raspberries do the trick nicely).

What else you choose to do in elaboration or adaptation of this simple receipt is your own affair.  I served mine in bowls laid on a table with spoons (and, I confess, forks) provided for ease of conveyance from dish to lip and with a passable Brown Brothers muscat: eating it out of last night’s pizza carton with disposable chopsticks and washing the lot down with Vimto, whilst not entirely lacking in post-Bohemian chic, will win you no style points in my book.

I have foreborne posting a photograph of the dish in question here: Fr E, if he is reading, will know why…

A Gushy Encomium upon Emma Kirkby, DBE

The Great DameAfter nearly twenty years of distant adulation, I finally got to hear Emma Kirkby live in concert last week—and it was very much worth the wait.  [Worth it for me, that is–I didn’t take the liberty of asking Dame Emma how it was for her…]

My very first girlfriend at university was a nice girl who quite closely resembled Kirkby, and who was also a light-voiced soprano.  She broke my boyish heart within a few chaste weeks.  Eheu!

This, if anything, exacerbated my “pash” for Miss Kirkby.  She was now not only the great unavailable beauty and goddess of early song–she had also become the emblem of my Paradise Lost. 

But above all, her clear glassy voice, especially as exercised in  the early repertoire with which she had become most closely associated, was the purest enchantment to my soppy ears.  I first came to revere John Dowland as chanted by her–a “deep and meaningful” musical engagement that has by far outlasted any of my romantic ones.  She and Dowland have on countless occasions helped me to grieve, or to take my ease, or to recharge, or to rejoice, or to contemplate (and not just my own navel, either…); and they have together provided a substantial portion of the  soundtrack to my life.   I’m enormously grateful for all that.

So, finally to hear Dame Emma live, in an ancient Scottish kirk, singing baroque cantatas and in the most splendid voice was, well,  magical.  I had booked an unreserved seat, there being no numbered ones left, and managed to find one at the end of a row in the north aisle.  Sneakily, and on the pretext of not wishing to spoil the view of the lady seated immediately behind me, I moved the rush-bottomed chair round the pier to face the stage more directly, although there was no chance of a clear view of the Great Dame herself from any position in that aisle. 

A bewhiskered usher soon approached (and reproached) me, burring in a voice straight out of Dr. Finlay’s Casebook: “Now, this is grand, isn’t it?  But I’m tryin’ to keep the passage clear…”  I was forced into a partial retreat (of perhaps 20 degrees or so) around the pier.  Thus was my first experience of the celestial voice a blind one.  I saw Dame Emma only after she had sung the first of the cantatas of the evening, and only then because I stood to applaud her, using the opportunity to cross the aisle in doing so. 

I repaired briefly to the local tavern for some refreshment at the interval (only buying an ale at all to avoid the discourtesy of making free with the landlord’s facilities without recompense), determined upon my return somehow to command a better view in the second half.  I had not waited a score of years to be in her presence only to have her remain as invisible to me as if I had stayed at home with my well-worn discs.  So, spotting an as-yet unreproached old gent who had moved his unreserved seat into the north transept, next the reserved stalls, I followed suit and availed myself of a deliciously uninterrupted view of the Dame’s music stand and, in time, of the Dame herself.

Oh, but she was beautiful, and expressive, and elegant, and charming—and yes, dear Seraphic, her autumnal hair was big!  She sang Bach’s Ich habe genug most affectingly, and I shared the narrator’s deep satisfaction in the fulfilment of a long-held desire.  I clapped my tingly hands raw, and only just managed to gulp back a wild roar of Brava! as Dame Emma took her final bow (after favouring us with an encore – Lascia ch’io pianga ).  As she left the platform for the last time, the elderly gent in front turned to me jovially and said, “Well, you certainly gave her a good clap!”  My elation prevented me at the time from realising that this was a kind way  of saying, “You just about deafened us with your paw-thumping!”

If you are by any chance reading this soppy old tommyrot, dear Dame Emma, I was the wild-eyed, black-moleskin-suited loon standing in the north aisle of the kirk, grinning athletically and beating my palms noisily together in dopey joy.  I am, I am told, quite harmless.  A thousand thank-yous.

Tag, tig, or kissie-catchies?Well, there’s not been a new post here for a wee while, so you’ll just have to be grateful for whatever you get. 

I’ve been tagged.  No, no, no—not for shoplifting or ram-raiding or defacing headstones in pet cemeteries.  Not this time, anyway.  I mean I’ve been sent a meme, a wee questionnaire.  By the next big thing in Canadian literature, Seraphic Single.  No, it’s no use asking me what possible interest any of the answers I’ve provided are, or to whom: just read and be grateful if I haven’t tagged you in turn.  Go on, you might even enjoy yourselves…

1. The rules of the game get posted on the beginning.
2. Each player answers the rules about himself.
3. At the end of the post, the player tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they’ve been tagged and asking them to read his blog.

What I was doing ten years ago:
I was a teaching-monkey (official title: “Lecturer in Social Science”) at an FE college. I taught philosophy (and other random stuff) there part-time, whilst researching for an MLitt. at my alma mater.

Five things on my To-Do list today:
1. Go to work.
2. Discuss some random stuff with the boss (who’s been off for a week).
3. Call the the relevant authority to discuss declaring my car off-road (and therefore tax-exempt).
4. Clear up the house (properly) after Friday night’s dinner party.
5. Read more of that inestimable tome, The Widow of Saint-Pierre.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Pay off the bank.
2. Buy and furnish a house.
3. Endow/fund assorted Catholic charities, projects, institutions, etc.
4. Offer help to family and friends.
5. Invest a small amount for personal use and ensure nothing was left after all of the above.

Three of my bad habits:
1. Surfing the net (yeah, like this is gonna help…).
2. General procrastination.
3. Fibbing to barbers/taxi-drivers.

Five places I’ve lived:
1. Dundee, Scotland.
2. W–lb–k (near Dundee).
3. Aberdeen, Scotland.
4. Old Aberdeen, Scotland.
5. Edinburgh (Athens Borealis, innit).

Five jobs I’ve had:
1. Bookshop assistant.
2. Beadle.
3. College lecturer.
4. University tutor.
5. Education/interpretation officer for “heritage” organisation.

Five books I’ve recently read:
1. Mary and the Fathers of the Church (Fr Gambero).
2. The Tragical Tale of Aelianus of England (Seraphic Single).
3. On (Hilaire Belloc).
4. The Red Door (Iain Crichton Smith).
5. The Temple of Death: The Ghost Stories of A.C. and R.H. Benson.

And of course I am reading The Widow of Saint-Pierre.  But who isn’t, right?

Five people or communities I’m going to tag:
In an effort to keep a Catholic and/or Scottish theme going, poor Mark, Cirdan, Catholic Teuchtar, Ebo and Cath are so getting tagged. Sorry, chaps…


The Widow of Saint-Pierre by Seraphic Single (Book) in Science Fiction & FantasyNever has there been such rejoicing over the making of a widow (excepting maybe Mme Clicquot).  I’ve ordered mine—when will you be ordering yours? 

Buy, buy, buy this fabulous new tome, freshly penned by the fair hand of a deserving Canadian gentlewoman keen to rediscover her Caledonian patrimony.

What—you’ve read this far into the post without yet having purchased copies for your self, family, friends and pets?  Rectify that immediately

See?  That feels better, now doesn’t it?  Think how much better still it’ll feel when the wee beauty pops through your wee letterboxes.  Why, it’ll make you want to begin the buying process all over again!

The author of this ‘blog would like to make it quite clear that he is not working on commission for sales of the aforementioned book—it’s just his natural kindness shining through…

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