RHUBARB & CUSTARD by 4160 TUESDAYS (2018)

 

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My scent of the days is 4160 Tuesday’s Rhubarb & Custard.

It smells like…………rhubarb and custard. But not only the classic British pudding, which I love and sometimes viscerally miss – especially rhubarb crumble and custard, a classic ending to a Sunday dinner when you are so full you just want to collapse onto the sofa and listen to the birds sing from the garden,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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but also, and for me just as delicious (this morning, after randomly reaching out for this perfume from my futon, I found myself badly craving confectionery – there has just been far too much healthy home made cooking going on recently)     the boiled sweets you get in a crumpled white paper bag filled with sugar coated hard boiled loveliness that were always my favourite when you got them after school at the sweet shop in the newsagents at Dovehouse Lane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oh my god I used to love these. Lemon bonbons too. And I quite liked Kola Kubes, even if there was something rather odd about them (that I kept coming back to). Chocolate limes somehow repelled me, the way the clashing liquid chocolate interior melted into the crunchiness of the coloured citrus in a way that I knew wasn’t right, and dad was always all alone with his blackcurrant liquorice, barley sugars, and striped humbugs, which only he liked.

 

 

 

I loved the tartness and milkiness of Rhubarb and Custards. The contrast between the acidic fruit taste (my grandmother Ivy always bought me hard boiled sour cherry sweets as well which I loved equally : I would eat a whole packet in one go until the roof of my red mouth actually hurt)  – and the vanilla custard flavouring, packed around it dusted with smashed tiny icicles of confectioner’s sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

One spray of Sarah McCartney’s tender childhood gourmand brought all of this rushing back this morning. This very likeable and easygoing scent convincingly captures both the dessert, with real fruit, and the sweets, though as the composition tilts into a simple warm vanilla, the acerbic tang of the rhubarb gradually fades (if never completely), leaving you with a sweet, nuzzly array. Today I find all this enormously comforting.

 

 

 

 

 

It is strange when you think back to those times when your world was so much smaller. And yet looming equally huge. A small being, growing up, with terrors and excitements, the immensity of sensation and uncovered feelings; the delights of simple pleasures; the fastening on to what you knew you definitely liked; the things that defined you.

 

 

 

 

And things like a bag of sweets – in America you would say candy I think – were so exciting.  You would daydream at the back of the classroom just thinking about the moment the bell would go and you could get out of school; take the 893 bus, your goal only your Rhubarb & Custard, or the Double Decker or Milky Way or Refreshers chews (my goodness I loved those as well; chewy fizzly things with a great dollop of sherbet in the centre that made your mouth pop – I would arrive home alive and effervescent dying to watch TV and put off my homework as long as humanly possible). I would walk down Dovehouse Lane, linger, past Gwen’s house if we were walking home together; sometimes dawdle via Helen’s down Bourton Road, and then after a while after a mug of tea at hers go round the corner and down the road past Owen’s,  then Julianne’s, then turn round the corner again and eventually get home to number 51:  all with the pleasantly tired afterfeeling from school and the lingering sugar taste of whatever confectionery I had just been eating and savouring immensely (as though, at that moment, your world was nothing more than the ever disappearing sweets at the bottom of the paper bag; sugared sheddings adorning the inside as you pudged down your finger to access the sorry last one; eat every crystal.)…… It is amazing for me to remember all these memories again, today; as adults we eat and enjoy so  many things ( I can still go into a slightly religious trance eating chocolate), but it is not quite the same – that time  when your entire world was perfectly concentrated in one, adrenalizing, single sugar rush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D reminded me also this morning of this, which I had somehow forgotten in the brainless sands of time. Roobarb & Custard was also the name of a TV programme, a cartoon that was shown five minutes every night just before the news.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watching the intro music just now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

just plunged me down a rabbit hole of deep remembrance, the zoingy moog squelch of the buzzsawing main theme: wow: I can see myself as a five year old – or was it older?  – sat goggle eyed in front of the screen on the carpet in front of the fireplace when it was on, ravenous for dinner; the travails of a green dog and a pink cat, and a narrator posher than I remember –  the name of the cartoon obviously referencing the old fashioned traditional dessert that some people dreaded having to eat after their main meal on Sunday but which I basically  loved (my mum grew a lot of rhubarb down the garden as a lot of people do, along with runner beans and sweet peas : how I loved those flowers’ delicate, refined scent);  and the smell of the gorgeously sour magenta and green stems bubbling up with sugar as they were boiled in a saucepan, filling up the whole house, is a memory I have very vividly but also want to experience in person again this summer.  I love rhubarb – as does D  – and it is something that you can only buy on import here in Japan as a gourmet item in louche supermarkets; tiny stalks wrapped up  in cellophane for petite experiments with foreign ingredients in expensive restaurants (although some farmers’ markets have started selling it in certain places). Still, it is not a well known fruit  – so it is possible that perfumes like Hermès’ Rhubarbe Ecarlate, a chic approximating of the fruit in a stringent grapefruity atmosphere of Parisian cologne that I think is quite nice might be appreciated for its smell but not ring any particular rhubarbian bells in those Japanese perfumer wearers who may try it. Aedes De Venustas’ austere take on rhubarb similarly has a velveteen, woody deep gravitas that I also quite like but it does not quite fit my personal, more down to earth associations with the fruit. Comme Des Garçons Sherbet Rhubarb is much better in that regard – I like its upbeatness. On a whim I recently, in Italy, bought L’Erbolario’s Rabarbaro for Duncan : a rhubarb-centred fresh summer cologne that smells like a more purpled and fruit tinged Kenzo Pour Homme, but which will most definitely be best enjoyed when the weather gets much hotter. For today, if we are talking rhubarb (and we most definitely are), then 4160’s Rhubarb and Custard gets the pink and yellow Sports Day rosette.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Going back to rhubarb and custard  (sorry, I have nothing else to do today),  the fruit ladled in with the English tinned version of crème anglaise  – almost all households that I knew of made their custard from a powdered packet, or else you had cans of Ambrosia, which I loved and would sometimes steal a can of and eat cold with a spoon from the direct source upstairs in my bedroom; also their delectable cold rice pudding: heaven!  —— musing on this hot, regular pudding this morning it also brought back memories of personal domestic irritations and niggling bȇtes noires. We all have them: I read yesterday that since the quarantine has been lifted in Hubei province and other places, the law courts have been flooded with files for divorce from couples finding that they simply couldn’t tolerate living with each other all day in cramped spaces with nothing to do but stare into their computer screens trying to avoid each other and won’t take it a single minute longer ; the suffocation of warm, heated interiors and net curtains peeping outside for other signs of life; the smell of the grill; the annoying little foibles of other people that drive us crazy even when we don’t know why; those that make you grit your teeth or shout out loud to just stop it; family flare ups over pittances that can turn into full scale domestic armageddons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of mine was definitely the un-kosher mixing of the rhubarb crumble and custard together. I can’t remember which people in my family, as we sat gathered round, committed this grave tabletime sin – I know I tried it a couple of times myself and then couldn’t eat it; I think others did it voluptuously just to spite me but it made me sick. And still does. In one whirl of the spoon my world is ruined. I like to keep these things separate. To enjoy as mutual complements. I can’t stand it when Duncan stirs his cappuccino too much either – the tinny spoon continuously tapping the side of the cup really puts my teeth on edge, as does any scraping on earthenware or stoneware pots and dishes ( I die internally);  or when he folds foods into each other on the plate (no!!!!: leave the maple syrup where it is, and don’t mix it actually into the porridge, like this morning; I can’t bear it. Please leave the honey actually in the centre of the yoghurt where I placed it à la Grecque (blending it just turns it into cat food).  You spoon the yoghurt and then take on a little bit of honey. Don’t dazzle; dip your headlights. Obviously, I know that it is his right to do whatever the hell he wants to with his breakfast, or dinner, or lunch, but I am just saying  – I know you have similar pet hates, and I am dying to hear them. This can be hilarious:   I remember Helen actively wanted to kill people who ate with their mouths open. Or had long, greasy hair (a loathing I have inherited from her directly and have to keep in check when I come into contact with such people in public on the bus)). We all have things that grate on us when we are all cooped up inside together: asking Duncan if there were any such things that drove him crazy about me this morning he replied with an unhesitating yes: never throwing things away (‘ you’re a hoarder!’); squeezing the toothpaste from the middle  – why do you do it? ; oh my god, not putting the lids or caps back on anything grrrrrrr it’s so annoying ; never putting your clothes away, leaving oils and gungy fragrance crap on lightbulbs, god I hate that; ugh,  stained bedsheets from essential oils you drip all over the place; is it really necessary to have so many pots of rooibos tea crowded round the bed? I know he also detests all my perfumed experiments, the scented sticks stuck in random places, the goo, the mess;  the vaseline; the very worst being once when I stupidly heated a vat of frankincense crystals up in the oven in our old house, turning the smell environment into a vast, catholic mass –  that I loved – it smelled amazing –  the problem being that every future dish from that oven then tasted of charred olibanum; bread and butter pudding a la frankincense; frankincensed chicken; (I learned my lesson with that one); me aside, he also can’t stand it when old Japanese men pick their teeth grossly with toothpicks or make strange gurgling noises with their throats (or spit out snot into the street or even on moving escalators ); I can’t stand it when office ladies here won’t drink directly from their own plastic water bottles, but tip it – slowly, slowly, daintily, up gradually towards their mouths until a polite little drop tips gently onto their tongue: at that moment I always feel like rushing towards them with a hose pipe and hydrating them forcefully, but of course I know that it is precisely up to them. I know that. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duncan told me also surprisingly that his mum Daphne can’t stand the toilet seat being left up; it must be closed (you could have told me! All these years, Daphne………….I am sorry and will never do it again). His dad shares my deep, deep hatred of tea and coffee that isn’t hot enough ( Duncan, this morning’s tea was really substandard. I was so miserable drinking that tepid crap, in which you hadn’t left the tea bag in long enough, and put too much milk in to boot – you know you are supposed to heat the entire tea cup with boiling water beforehand; I was miserable as I sipped at the failed Earl Grey just after I had woken up); both Rod and I, and my mum too, must have our coffee piping hot or it makes us heave  (my sister Deborah, conversely, really, really hates it, and flies through the roof if any scalding drink comes near her cat-like tongue); my brother Greg and I when children used to challenge each other to make the perfect marmalade sandwich, in which a Mother’s Pride white loaf would be commandeered to create the idealised proportions of butter and bitter orange marmalade, spread to the edges and cut just so; (oh my god, I have just remembered  – the rage of butter when it has been refrigerated too much and cuts holes in the bread in the morning and you immediately lose the will to live; No No No keep it at room temperature in a nice white ceramic dish, please – – – –  I beseech you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The list could surely go on and on. We all have our foibles and pet hates and things that truly irritate the hell out of us at times  – when we have the luxury to do so. It can’t be helped. We are only human. Last night, on the brilliant recommendation of Michael, we watched an amazing, very beautiful documentary called The Joneses, about a family of what I suppose you might call misfits, in a trailer house in Jackson, Mississippi, a close – if quite argumentative – family with a lot of problems, illnesses physical and mental, serious financial issues and even big challenges in terms of identity and hidden secrets: there were some really crippling scenes, and the levels of emotional honesty and the dignity they consistently upheld were heartrending, yet very uplifting. We finished it, together on the bed with the cat, feeling purified, tranquil, and grateful. It brought home what is important. People we cherish. Being stuck at home, bored out of our brains, on Saturday and Sunday rainy afternoons as kids. Tedious, tedious, football matches playing on Match Of The Day. The exhortations upstairs to bring down your cups and to tidy your room.  And then the wondrous, delicious, smell of the Sunday roast downstairs……….  wafting into the living room from the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

42 Comments

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42 responses to “RHUBARB & CUSTARD by 4160 TUESDAYS (2018)

  1. OnWingsofSaffron

    Oh, I love this! At the one moment, one is whirling in vivid, fantastical memories of childhood sweets (so Proustian), next moment, before you blink, you’re bang in the middle of pet peeves: oh for god’s sake, stop stirring the bloody spoon, will you?!
    It’s just like the little Roobarb film, but the other way round: a goofy, pink dog (or is it a cat?) lumbering over a lawn and jumping into a tree, and then before you can grin you have the poshest narrator warbling in Queen’s English as if it were the coronation! I absolutely love that!

    • So pleased to read this.

      I mean I COULD easily have finished the piece on a ‘perfect’ ending before the cartoon, but then I felt like continuing, and then before you know it we were in China and Mississippi and god knows what. I like just letting things go where they want to go.

      Writing this put me in a really good mood for the rest of the day though.

      Thanks for always reading!

  2. Hello Neil, What a wonderful blog. I kept thinking, “I know! Absolutely! Oh my god, that’s me!” You have observed and described the mood, the tension, the irrelevant things which inflate to irritate us. You’ve also illuminated the important things.
    I’m delighted that Rhubarb & Custard set you on this train of thought. Thank you.

  3. David

    Thank you for the peek into your childhood!
    I used to bring back packages of Bird’s custard powder with me to Brazil, along with different kinds of British tea, whenever I visited the supermarket in my Mom’s town in western Massachusetts. The supermarket there has quite an extensive British food section. I don’t think there is a particularly large British expat population in the western hill towns of Massachusetts (known as the Berkshires). I think with BBC America and the streaming services that broadcast British TV programs exclusively (there are 2: Britbox and Acorn TV), discerning American viewers just want access to British products….back in the day, bars in NYC always wanted to hire a British bartender, you know, to class up the joint….I just knew Harry and Meghan would move to Los Angeles. They are going to make a fortune giving speeches to corporations (many Americans would topple and shove white boards, coffee stations, Barb in accounting, Hal in sales, just to breathe the same air as a Royal {or former Royal, as the case may be}). And I smell a Netflix deal in the works… I am a huge fan of the show Vera….I even participate in Vera chat groups where we discuss such pertinent topics as what brand of tea Vera might be drinking….Ringtons was the conclusion. Have you tried that brand?

    Rhubarb is amazing. When I lived in Japan one of my colleague’s grandparents grew it on their farm in Nagano. She used to give me some. I made jam with it. It’s simple to do because of all the naturally occurring pectin in rhubarb… no special jam-making experience necessary….OK, my comments to you reached a point of digression that required me to type in brackets, so I’ll end just by thanking you for frequent postings.

    • As I said before, no comment is too long – I love it. And I had no idea that rhubarb was grown in Nagano (or that Harry and Meghan were moving to Los Angeles. I actually admire their bravery in doing what they want to do…..)

      Does rhubarb jam come out tasting like rhubarb? I find some fruit comes out too bland when made into preserves, and loses its flavour. I like really good raspberry jam with scones and cream, and other kinds of berries as well to a certain extent (though D is the real berry boy) : my favourite is definitely apricot.

      • David

        The rhubarb jam I have made still retains a tartness I like. I usually add the juice of half a lemon when I make jam, just to make it even more sour. The absolute best fruit for making jam (is it preserves in the UK?) is kinkan (kumquats). The pectin contained in kumquats is off the charts. It’s almost fool proof: chop up about 2 cups of cumquats (the seeds need to be removed), put them in a sauce pan, add about a half cup of sugar, some lemon juice (or white wine, a few tablespoons), heat the mixture on medium heat, stir until the kumquats start to fall apart, let cool, then put in the fridge overnight. You will have jam the next day. Kumquats are pretty cheap in Japan, if I remember correctly….I’m not sure if they are in season now.

      • YES!

        Amazing you should mention this, as when we went to our friend Katya’s house (I wrote about that in the Red Magnolia piece), her neighbour brought round some kinkan jam that she had made, which we just ate with spoons as it was, and it was PERFECT. I really love sourness but with strong orange flavour – ultimately I am way more of a Marmalade Man as I adore citrus in general – and she had got the sugar/ tartness ratio JUST RIGHT.

  4. Oh, dear… There I had been naively thinking that this was a subject people were deliberately avoiding writing about so as not to open a Pandora’s box of peeves! (And yes, what an unexpected twist after the serenade to dessert and candy [that is what we Americans call sweets].) I can’t stand when people pick their teeth with their fingers and don’t immediately go wash their hands. And then argue that their saliva is not that dirty.
    I’m glad it sounds like the exercise was cathartic for you and D. At the end of the day, as long as our hearts are bigger than our warts, we carry on…

    • It wasn’t really an exercise, in truth – we were just talking about it lightheartedly this morning over breakfast when I said I was in the mood for writing something more comical and childhoodish (the second I smelled that perfume this morning my mood was alleviated : I had all these memories come rushing). Otherwise I don’t think I would have written anything today as I woke up a bit cold and groggy.). But not to say that my messiness and his (former – he has given up and focused on art instead – FAR more fulfilling ) fastidiousness haven’t caused massive scathing rows in the past. Right now is like elysium though in truth. I could go on like this until next year no problem if I had the money to do so. Inside is harmony. It’s what awaits me that is not.

      • Well, it sounds like you’re keenly aware of every moment and enjoying it to the fullest (twice – first in real time, and again when you write about it), so when (!) we are released back out into the wild again, you can go forth knowing you made the most of it while it lasted. I don’t miss the commute and bustle yet either.
        I wonder if the desire for comical and child(hood)ish things is a phase of the cycle of reactions we are all tumbling through? Yesterday I spent an hour watching Astérix and Obélix (dubbed in English), even though that cartoon was not a part of my childhood. Good clever silliness.

      • Absolutely. I’ll probably back to chilling and morbid by tomorrow

      • I love this analysis by the way: living EACH MOMENT TWICE

  5. Tora

    I loved your memories of candy!! I do not know any of the ones you mentioned, for me, it was those candy necklaces. I would sell my soul for one when I was 7 or so. They were not allowed in our house, (well, no candy was.) But, one summer when my parents were off golfing and the nanny was not paying attention, I took a bag of pennies I won in a scavenger hunt and bought a candy necklace at the shop about a 1/2 mile down the road. I ate about half of it walking home. And I remember being a little surprised that the candy itself wasn’t really that good. But the fact that it was a necklace was just so cool! It stuck to my skin in a creepy unpleasant way. But, I was still in love with my fantasy candy! Now it is dark dark chocolate. And anything salted caramel with dark chocolate. Or those Modjeskas, the caramel-coated marshmallows!

    • Yes I remember those candy necklaces being completely tasteless – I loved gnawing on the bracelets.

      You paint a photographic picture here though – I think for kids these things are like POSSESSIONS that we consume and then remember with great fondness later on.

      All of those chocolate things you mention here – o yes.

  6. Maureen Gardner

    Completely wonderful! I love all your essays. But being a huge rhubarb fan this one really resonated and took me on such a journey back to childhood places where sweets were, as you say, an important part of life! And to memories of family dinners because really that’s the only place you seem to get rhubarb! It’s 3.30 am here in NSW, Australia and your excellent writing is filling an insomniac/Covidinesque void. I can’t wait to pick some rhubarb from the garden when I arise, to cook for dinner tonight. Thank you for another lovely post.

    • And thank you for writing this. I love it when I just spontaneously hit on something that occurs to me in a moment, go towards the computer, and start writing – and then get responses from people like this one. I wonder what it is about rhubarb! Probably because, as you say, you only seem to get it at family dinners, although D has boiled some up a couple of times for us for dinner. The problem was that it was too LITTLE: I want a plentitude of it, in its juice, even if the way it moves around like seaweed under water – those strands of flowing, dark red hair – can also make it slightly disturbing.

      Also the fact that the leaves are said to be quite toxic – that adds a disturbing allure to the plant I think. A fruit you have to MASTER

  7. Maggie

    Can’t bear anyone else making my hot drinks, it’s just a waste of a hot drink not to have it exactly how you want it. And hot drinks in cafes are never ever hot enough – so you pay all that money and it’s gone in a trice. Not that I am fussy or anything…

    • Thank god someone understands me on this point. It is an obsession with me – and literally makes me angry. This morning’s tea was a damp squib, but then I made crap coffee today as well. Both SHALL BE PIPING. I have found in Italy that tepid is the actual standard way of serving coffee – I feel slightly nauseous especially if there it is a cafe latte that isn’t hot enough. It literally does make he heave, and I either have to drink it very fast so as not to waste the money, or not drink it at all.

      There is one cafe in the local station though that even if you don’t ask for it extra hot, it always is. I love depending on that point.

      I think I am much more fussy about tea though. My god. I mentioned ‘mugs of tea’ in the post, but in reality I have always hated them. It must be in a cup. A heated cup. And so hot that I can’t drink it at first. You want to sip it, and then put it down, seeing the steam come off it so it is almost scarily hot, and then when it cools just a slither you can drink it with actual pleasure.

  8. Robin

    Totally ramping up my Anglophilia here!! And loving it.

    Pretty standard practice here to combine rhubarb with strawberries for things like jam, pies, crumbles. The musky red sweetness of the strawberries plays well with the tartness of the rhubarb and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Not sure if that is an English thing, too.

    I grimace if I taste tea or coffee and there’s sugar in it, except for iced tea and coffee. My tolerance level for coffee that’s too strong or too weak is low. It’s just gotta be right. And old coffee, coffee that’s been made and sitting around staying hot for more than 20 minutes: ugh.

    I dislike overcooked steak — must be medium-rare — or conversely tough, under-cooked braised meat like stew. I can’t eat undercooked potatoes.

    I can’t stand when people chew — or talk — with their mouths full. The worst.

    I don’t like it when cupboard doors are left open.

    A strong smell of dirty hair makes me feel queasy. Bad breath is horrible. I just want to scream and run.

    Ric doesn’t have any annoying habits at all, which is odd and lovely. He does have his idiosyncrasies but they’re non-annoying. Some food he prefers not touch other food on his plate. For instance, he doesn’t especially like other vegetables touching his potatoes, or gravy going where it shouldn’t. Sometimes if I’m serving I’ll snuggle his peas up against his mashed potatoes just to tease him. What bugs him — or rather, what he notices – is when people — and everyone does this; just watch Duncan next time you guys are having a meal — open their mouths long before the fork gets to their lips. Pretty much when the fork lifts off the plate. It’s quite an amazing lag time when you notice it, and it looks rather silly. I can’t train myself not to do it. Ric doesn’t do it. He noticed it when he was a kid and trained himself out of it. And he doesn’t like the feel of cold sheets when he slips into bed. He’d rather sleep on top of the blankets. Oh, people are interesting.

    I don’t know if any of this was really on topic, but it felt good just to get away from thinking about other things.

    • That was what I felt as well. Something snug and hilarious (this thing about the mouth being open long before is fascinating….I can picture it too clearly!)

      I meant this post to be just comical and sweet. It’s possible some people might have thought I was catharting my irritations with being in the house with D, but nothing could be further from the truth. We are living in completely harmony in these circumstances which is why it was so easy to write it with humour in mind (I mean the fact is, I really am a slob – I leave cupboard doors open and everything). Not hot enough drinks though really are intolerable.

      Funnily enough, when it comes to meat…….there is a whole other thing. I was a vegetarian for five years in my late teens and am very squeamish about it. We do eat meat, but it must be what you consider overcooked. I am REPELLED by medium rare steak, all fat on meat (I really don’t like how meat is cooked in Japan which is why I much prefer Chinese food). In fact, I can’t stand SOFTNESS. If the fish or meat is ‘tender’ or soft I go nuts. Thinking about it, this does cause strife in the kitchen as I harangue him about it constantly. The swordfish HAS JUST BEEN TOO SOFT RECENTLY AND I HAVEN’T BEEN ENJOYING IT.

    • Ps.

      Strawberries + Rhubarb?

      CANADIAN HERESY

      • Robin

        Try it and tell me if it’s heresy . . . or a match made in heaven.

        It really works out well between Ric and me; unlike the usual opposites-attract scenario of messy person and neat freak, we’re both pretty neat but not uptight about it. (Oh, yeah, and dirty dishes in the sink overnight: NO!!!) It’s wonderfully stress free that way. In other ways we couldn’t be MORE opposite. Ric doesn’t like movies (I know, I can’t wrap my head around that one either) and I of course live for them. I love vegetables, fish, shellfish, seafood, exotic stuff (the dreaded blue cheese you hate), herbs, spices, foods from everywhere in the world, and Ric could be happy with Ukrainian sausage and potatoes. We joke that he likes two colours in his food. Brown and white. Meat and potatoes. But no lamb. No sour cream, no yogurt. That’s right. And no vegetables except peas, corn and asparagus. Now that can drive me around the bend!!!! I’m getting frustrated just thinking about it.

        But we maintain separate places so I go home and have my avocados et al in peace, and he’s always buying me food I like. He even buys me lamb chops. Well, once. And even though he finds mushrooms revolting, he’ll slice them up and cook them in foil on the bbq for my hamburger. Ric: strictly no condiments. Ack!!

      • I know several couples like this, where the man is content with just meat and potatoes and the woman is screaming for salad. I wonder why that is?

        And why did you have to mention brown? It is a massive problem. I can’t watch brown films (so no westerns); can’t abide brown art (so no to most of cubism); natural wood is good, obviously, but brown is anathema to me. All brown food would be heartbreaking.

        As for blue cheese, I do like some of it, like Stilton, at the right time. Just not the sort of liquefying zombie’s foot fungus type smells that bring bile to one’s oesophagus.

      • Robin

        That just brought bile to mine. You paint a brilliantly putrid picture, sir. (I agree, some cheeses take it too far.)

        Brown. Yes! So dreary. Dirt. Shit. Seventies polyester, drapes, carpets, sofas, fake leather. Anything but brown!

      • Glad someone understands. Quarries, many landscapes also are marred for me by this colour. Give me an English bluebell forest any day or a tropical jungle (or a glittering ocean). Dun, arid scapes – not for me.

  9. Tara C

    I so wish I had that 4160 Tuesdays perfume to spritz on right now! I love rhubarb and when it’s in season I make a crumble every week. My mother loves rhubarb so much she always grows it in the garden, she actually eats it raw dipped in sugar!

    As for the childhood sweets, we used to take a few coins and walk down to the corner store where you could get a small paper sack and fill it yourself from the low shelves filled with every kind of candy imaginable, 1-2 cents a piece. All in open boxes that you just reached into, unwrapped, totally unhygienic and unimaginable today, but back in 1970 that’s how it was.

    Pet peeves – I could go on all day, being somewhat OCD and very particular. I never order tea in a restaurant as it’s never hot enough or infused properly and poor quality teabags, ugh. People who eat with their mouths open, talk with food in their mouth, or smack their lips. (I had to start wearing headphones at work during lunch time as the guy in the next cubicle ate at his desk, smacking loudly.) People who use their finger to push food onto their fork instead of using a knife. (I can eat anything with a knife and fork.) People who fart, burp and spit in public. Leaving the toilet seat up. Leaving cupboard doors open, not putting things away where they belong. Splashing water everywhere in the bathroom, spilling coffee everywhere, and not cleaning up after themselves. The smell of most tinned food turns my stomach. I particularly despise onions and the stench they cause in the fridge and trash bin.

    I have been married twenty years with a man who does most of these things and I can tell you it has taken a lot of effort to overcome my natural irritation and outrage at these behaviours. He is a good, kind person and has many fine qualities but hygiene and manners are not among them. I put up with it because I’m 54 and have no interest in being alone or looking for another partner at this stage of my life, but I can tell you he is definitely my last husband. He is 15 years older than me and assuming he goes first, there will be blissful solitude in my home thereafter. I do love him, btw, lest you get the wrong impression, but he does drive me to distraction very often.

    • !!

      WOW, THIS HAS BEEN A REAL LICENSE TO LET RIP!

      You would go crazy with me. I am a chronic spiller – of coffee, of water, of perfume, and strangely, I almost ENJOY it; I love not caring. It feels voluptuous to me, as the frantic sponging and mopping that the reverse people do afterwards is far more annoying than the spillage in the first place!

      • Robin

        But do you glance at dust bunnies with casual indifference like I do? Or is that a slobbish bridge too far?

        (Ric loves vacuuming and has to do it every couple of days. I could wait until the bunnies turn into bison and then just kick them under the couch!)

      • I couldn’t give a damn. I hate vacuuming. D deals with it when it gets bad, though I do sweep in the kitchen as I like all the furnishings in there and the vista is ruined by anything on the (brown!) floor.

      • Robin

        I do like a clean bathroom, I gotta admit. No ring around the bowl or tub, no grungy soap muck around the faucet, no bits and pieces of flossed bits on the mirror, no grungy floors. No dirty/smelly towels and never wet ones just left on the floor or bunched up on the counter or over the edge of the tub. Towel rod, please! No socks either. Do I sound insufferable? Or do you have your standards too?

      • I wish mine were as high as yours – put it that way.

        I just need a cleaner, basically.

      • I don’t like filth – but at the same time the mental compression of housework obsessed nazis is even worse: some people spend their LIFE around all of this and it just makes me DEMENTED

      • Robin

        I’ve heard of those sort of people and seen them depicted in fictional works but I’ve never known any. I thought that was kind of a thing, or perhaps mostly a myth, of fifties housewives: frustrated, neurotic and deeply unfulfilled, trapped in their suburban homes with nothing else to do but polish the coffee table and keep up with Mrs. Jones next door. I take it you know some? Must be nervewracking to visit them. Oh, there goes a coaster slipped under your glass before you can set it down!

      • Not sure what to say….

      • Robin

        Really? I thought you’d have an amusing anecdote that would illustrate just how annoying the clean police can be!

      • I had better not go there.

      • Robin

        Ah. I think I understand.

  10. Georgia Kossifou

    😂👏👏OMG the over mixing thing had me laughing my head off and shouting ‘me too’!!, being so very particular so many things drive me crazy.
    So much fun to read about someone else’s..
    Gxx

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