FRIDAY: This week has featured some nice sandwiches, most notably the leftover basa (aka Vietnamese river cobbler) fillet and Philadelphia cream cheese with sun-dried tomatoes. Because I just picked up some nice French cheese from this season's global market for next week's pique-niques, I decided today to have some more of the excellent Wensleydale before it goes bad. My bread is a big crusty triangular wheat roll with sesame and poppy seeds. The problem I had this morning was when I discovered that the 2 sides of my scalene sandwich were longer than each side of my square sandwich box, presenting a bit of a mathematical conundrum. I considered the problem for a bit, positioning the knife in various positions atop my sandwich. When I finally decided that a single cut would prove challenging at best and impossible at worst, and that the sandwich probably needed 2 cuts minimum to solve the geometric mystery in front of me, I ditched the box and used a plastic bag. Problem solved.
This morning I noticed an ad in the Guardian selling vacuum cleaners at John Lewis. I was intrigued by the Miele S6220 Cat and Dog Vacuum Cleaner. My own vacuum cleaner has a special attachment to remove dog and cat hair from carpeting, and this is how it's described in the instruction manual. But an actual vacuum cleaner for cats and dogs seems like a rather bizarre innovation. Even my late cat Wesley, the mellowest and most philosophical puss I ever knew, would surely have objected if I'd ever tried to use a vacuum cleaner on him. Surely a brush would be a better choice, even for the woolliest and sheddingmost of pets. If this had been an American ad, it would probably be called a Vacuum Cleaner with Special Attachment for Removing Pet Hair From Carpeting, or something equally wordy and unpoetic.
I wonder if Miele also make hamster shampooers and budgie mops.
MONDAY: Today I have my first sandwich of the French cheeses I bought last week: some very yellow Normandy camembert with chopped red pepper and coarsely ground black pepper on a fresh wholemeal breadcake. Simple yet perfect.
The other day I heard a snatch of my favourite symphony by my favourite composer, Beethoven's Ninth. Instantly I was propelled back to my Los Angeles days when I used to see the LA Philharmonic perform its summertime concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. The concerts were basically a large communal picnic with entertainment, with the casually dressed crowd bringing their bulging picnic baskets and copious bottles of wine to nibble and sip as the sun slowly set over the outdoor amphitheatre while the orchestra tuned up for its stirring performance. This was something I looked forward to every summer.
And then it occurred to me that, in the UK, "Hollywood Bowl" conjures up a completely different image, because it refers to a national chain of ten-pin bowling alleys. Whether it was named after the Hollywood Bowl in California I can't say, although I don't think anybody has every actually bowled in the amphitheatre. I do remember at one concert when I accidentally knocked over our bottle of wine which went rolling loudly down each tier of the concrete seats, eventually coming to a stop when it smashed into the back of the bottom tier, splashing its redness all over the back of the beige trousers of a man sitting in the front row. It was a most embarrassing "strike", not to mention a waste of a fine merlot.
After the horrific crash on the M5 this past weekend which resulted in a fireball of cars and trucks, I e-mailed an American friend about the accident. As I am an American living in Britain, not only do I try my best to speak only British English here, but I also try to translate back into American English for my American friends and family. Because most Americans don't know what an "artic" is (short for articulated lorry), I described the accident as involving 37 vehicles including 7 semis, which is what Americans call them (short for "semi-trailer truck"). Suddenly I had the image of 5 semi-detached houses -- 2 lots of 2, obviously, with another one ripped from its neighbour -- lying crushed and flaming in the middle of the motorway.
I suppose anything's possible these days…