Monday, 29 October 2007


I've just found a really good quote for my ECA in yesterday's Observer, shame I had to hand it in by the 28th September, if you don't know what an ECA is check out Belle's blog, but in essence it was all about judging literature and the distinctions between canonical and popular literature. Kate Mosse, no not the supermodel but the one who co-founded the Orange Prize, dismissed this whole question with 'You can't compare a cheese sandwich with foie gras. The only question is: is it a good or bad cheese sandwich? Is it good or bad foie gras?'. Brilliant. Sadly I thought her book was a cheesy foie gras sandwich, but you can't win them all.

Sunday, 28 October 2007


I am very late to the party as this book has been available for over six weeks now, but I have to say that it gets better on each read and is not one to be missed.

You can buy it here.

As a taster here is one of my favourite poems, reproduced with permission of course:


My granny used to soak the spuds too,
making it easier to peel them later.
Part of the morning's ritual was topping
their pot with water. Later, after
fowl were fed and tae and bread were ate,
she'd peel them slowly, humming all the while
a medley of Moore's Almanac songs.

Steeping my potatoes now, as she did,
brings her Four Green Fields down the years to me.
Scaly and read, these Roosters, instead of
her soft Queens; mine tattle of modern machinery;
long scars that I smooth away with a stainless
peeler. I split them with a long, broad knife,
rinse them down and leave them by for dinner.

My parents ran a business together so Sunday was the one day of the week when we would all be together without interruption. My mother was not a natural cook, so the rituals of the kitchen were something she endured rather than enjoyed, but the preparation of the vegetables for Sunday lunch was a ritual of some importance, the soaking of the potatoes signalling the start of the main preparations for the meal, as the potatoes had to be peeled and parboiled, before they could be added to the tin to be roasted alongside the meat. It's been years since my mother died, but I can still see her hands as she peeled and chopped the vegetables and hear her voice as she sent me to the garden to harvest the herbs for the sauce. Once the preparations were complete we would sit drinking tea as she told me tall tales of her youthful exploits.