Friday, 27 November 2009

Dup egnops elcaert

I don't know why palindromes - sentences that read the same backwards as forwards: Gk. 'palin' = 'again': 'dromos' = 'running' - I don't know why palindromes should come to mind today, when a major focus of my attention is tonight's pud. The ever-stunning J. promises treacle sponge and custard. I can't say that this is a common dessert in France. It would be nearer the truth to say that 99.9% of French people are born, live their lives and die without benefit of that gorgeous, warm, womb-retro stodge, clarted with succulent golden syrup, nobly robed in steaming, smiling custard from which I will already have relished the skin from the jug.

Maybe it's the admission of a woeful sponge pud gluttony that leads me to a famous palindrome which you sometimes find carved into church fonts:

Nipson anomemata me monan opsin

It's Greek, meaning 'cleanse not only the face but sins also'. (To make it work you have to remember that 'ps' is a single letter in Greek.)

So often do palindromes disappoint through being over-contrived and not really meaning very much, ones like

Too bad I hid a boot


Anne I vote more cars race Rome to Vienna

- that it comes as a pleasant surprise to learn that W.H.Auden, consummate master of English in all its forms, should be credited with several quite outstandingly original palindromes:

Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?


Norma is as selfless as I am, Ron

I can imagine him sitting back at his desk, out of breath - it does happen - with his struggles to pin down some masterpiece like Musée des Beaux Arts ('About suffering they were never wrong, The Old Masters...') and suddenly realising that 'Are we not' reads 'to new era' backwards. A little thought, a welcome break from Breughel's Fall of Icarus that he's writing about, and suddenly it falls into place; he reaches for his palindrome book and writes it in. Another day, another palindrome. Yesterday's was:

Sums are not set as a test on Erasmus

Where Auden stood on sponge pudding isn't recorded, as far as I know, but I don't think he can have got through several years of boarding school without frequent exposure to this classic of English cuisine. As for me, I'm really looking forward to tonight's treat, although I may have to dose myself with Nocsivag: I occasionally suffer from reflux, and I wouldn't want my treacle sponge, palindrome-like, coming back on me.


Rog said...

Treacle Pud....mmmmm!!!

Campus Motto: Bottoms up, Mac

Dave said...

Treacle sponge or Spotted Dick? There's the question.

Vicus Scurra said...

Chelmsford is where Auden stood on treacle pudding. Careless git.

I will have to opt out, due to my dietary preferences, but if you would care to call round this weekend you can sample some of Mrs S's splendid vegan chocolate cake. Each small slice contains my annual sugar intake, but I am sure that you are made of hardier material.

Dave said...

If I may add, having tasted some of Mrs S's spendid cooking, one hardly notices the absence of dead animals.

Christopher said...

Rog: Yes, and I'd murder for a jar of red rum.

Dave (1): I think we've been here before. You're skating on thin ice with mention of Sp*tt*d D*ick. Sarah won't be speaking to you.

Vicus: I was in Chelmsford attending to my personal needs only a couple of weeks ago, but I saw nothing of this. As for your kind invitation, I'd be very happy to accept. About 15.32, say?

Dave (2): It's thanks to your testimonial that I feel so much easier in my mind about Vicus' invitation. Have you sold your BMC shares?

Sarah said...

Anyway it's 'Spotty' dick. Well it is if you went to an all girls school...har har.
It seems clear to me that men of a certain age and still obviously missing nannies touch, are the only ones finding comfort in the foul tasting, gut extending stodge puds. (I'm sure there should be loads of commas or full stops in there, but I can't be arsed)

Christopher said...

There, I knew it. A sprinkling of commas and full stops is like the currants and raisins in Sp*tt*d Dick (and if you went to an all boys' school you'd be aware that spelling of this delicacy was only one of many fundamental differences) - mostly too few, occasionally just right, never too many.

Anyway, Sarah, the other night we went out despite the promise of sponge pud and I had crème catalane au citron. I hope you approve.

Sarah said...

Yum that sounds nicer, though what a cream of Spanish lemon is.....*befuddled*

Christopher said...

Crème catalane au citron? It's a sort of unsweetened vanilla cornflower or arrowroot custard in a shallow earthenware dish, lightly flavoured with lemon juice, with demerara sugar on the top melted into a snap crust with a chalumeau (culinary blow-torch) and served with seedless half-grapes. Yum?

Sarah said...

Posh creme brulee ?

Christopher said...

Oh, v. posh. It's either that or profiteroles, but I've never cared for dark chocolate sauce.

I, Like The View said...

a man, a plan, a canal: Panama


(obviously, you have to leave out the punctuation, for this to work)