Saturday, February 11, 2006

Of mice and herring

Check me out!


The herring have returned to the Forth Estuary, seventy-five years after they were driven away or exhausted by thoughtless and persistent over fishing – by members of my family. Now they are returning, from breeding grounds in the Baltic and on the Scandinavian seaboard, from Iceland and Greenland and some mysterious icy depths. I saw two today, in oil and a tin. We all partook of the lubricated flesh, on toast with cream cheese. We may well buy more and store them up, dead shoals in their tin coffins, bathed in embalming oil for viscosity out of water, neatly placed in our many new white plastic containers. Perhaps in years to come archaeologists will come across them and marvel at their unexpected discovery lurking under our windowsills, the treasure of the herring catacombs.


5am and Syrus the cat caught another mouse. Some poor rodent soul, scavenging to feed himself and the family caught unawares. There were apparently dull thuds and other odd noises as the cat finished of his mortal enemy on our bedroom floor. He was clearly satisfied with the kill and the consumption but still ate a hearty cat food breakfast half an hour later. Fortunately I slept through the entire event thanks to my crystal clear conscience and having spent the previous day in Birmingham. Ali described it all to me in graphic detail however. Cats don’t seem to understand electricity or heat or keyboards, what do their parents teach them?

Later as I stood in the kitchen eating a fried egg roll and looking out of the window a passing rifleman shot twice at something (not me thankfully) in the woods across the road. He disappeared with a colleague as if in pursuit of something, something larger and more interesting than a mouse or a herring I suppose.

The house is also going through a phase of reorganisation or reinvention. Furniture is moving, items are being put away, and new shelves, units and drapes are appearing. For a few days I thought we had a poltergeist but then it turned out to be more natural than supernatural. Having as big (and as complex) a family as we do means that our house has to be Tardis like in its adaptability to deal with the constant sets of changes, expansions and occupancy that we enjoy. It all works anyhow.


1 pack of pancake mix.
2 eggs. (preferably a little overage)
250ml of cold water.
A drop of blue milk.
Oil & pan.
Source of heat.

Mix up the stuff. Cook the lot a small ladle full at a time in the (hot) oil in the pan. (when the batter bubbles all over it’s time to turn or flip the pancake). Eat straight away with syrup, condensed milk, butter and a fork. I’ve no idea what is in the pancake mix, it looks like wall filler.

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