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Caviar on crumpets

8 January 2003

Brenchley's First Rule of Everything: Everything takes longer. Longer than what, you ask? Longer than it used to; longer than it ought to; longer than was promised; longer than you'd think. The rule is universal in application, and has never been controverted. It was coined, of course, in respect of the creative process, particularly the writing of fiction; but its reach is broad and deep. Take, for example, the relentless partying in this syncopated season (who was it, which wit who defined syncopation as 'an uneven progress from bar to bar'?). I spent much of last week thinking 'Okay, party and dinner on Wednesday, dinner on Thursday but at least I get to spend Friday at home before big party on Saturday, celebrate my birthday and then it's over, rehydrate Sunday and get back to work on Monday...'

Guess what happened? A late invitation to dinner on Friday, no night off. Saturday's party was in Durham and not given on my behalf, I just co-opted it (lawks, 44 - I'm palindromic again. Which the year no longer is, we're out of sync - tho' it occurred to me that our generation is one of the few who will live through two palindromic years, unless stem-cell research really can elasticate the human lifespan). And sat up late over a bottle of armagnac and a Chalet School book, for treats; and so wound my way home Sunday and was immediately summoned down to the pub by my old mate Pete, to hear Tim Dalling sing Louis MacNeice, which is a very happy combination. Then back to Pete's afterwards, of course; and on Monday I really was going to stop all this drinking and do some work. So I went to the pub in the afternoon, but was really good, just the one pint and a read through the Luke story; and on my way home I stopped off to see Simon only to tell him about the story, because he'd been instrumental in helping me frame it. And it was not at all my fault that he happened to be going down to the pub to meet some mutual friends (and yes, I do know all the objections to that phrase, but I'm going to use it regardless; it's been around since 1658 or thereabouts, and there isn't a better - or would you prefer me to call my friends common?), so of course I went with him just for the one drink, just to wish them happy new year, it would have been uncivilised not to. And of course they were going to dinner after, and they wouldn't let me leave - and this is what I mean, it takes longer than you think to jump off a moving train, however steely your will may be. You're always further down the track than you expect.

However, here we are and I didn't go to the pub today, I only drank at home in moderation; and did some work and some useful things about the house, and looked up recipes for blinis on account of all this smoked sturgeon and caviar in my fridge; and my useful culinary tip of the day is this, that if you have no blinis and no bread, then caviar on crumpets is actually quite good. With sour cream and lemon, or else with scrambled eggs; either way is fine.

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© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.