Category Archives: Coffee

Senses & Nonsenses…

One’s real life is so often the life one does not lead…

Oscar Wilde

IMG_0013Such are the senses, that we have more than five and fewer than six. Try tasting something without seeing it for instance; it almost always tastes like something other than what it’s supposed to and rarely anything other than chicken; listen to someone speak without seeing their mouths move or those unusual sounds that keep you awake at night when you’re trying to sleep that never turn out to be two thousand pound mice and you’ll forever be in that darkness— or even tasting something without smelling it and so on and so forth. Life is so much more than it appears to be, though it’s little more than it actually ever is. Unless of course, there is such a thing a two thousand pound mouse or you really were asked to shake and squeeze the band which gave King Tut its mildew…

My real life is far cry from the award winning, affluent, multi-faceted and admired jaunt and jolly through which my other self is no doubt enjoying somewhere where the senses are better understood and household pets and rodents are disproportionately large; but that’s not to say I’ll ever be to old to be everything I could have been-or too small for Autumn to call me sweetheart.

It puts me in mind somewhat rather of him— S; a splendid chap and so was his wife— K. At least she was when I knew her. She was smart too, in that sensible way that can get up the noses of people who try to sit down to quickly wearing tight pants, smoking whilst owning chest complaints and the intolerably foolish doing well, anything. She could and would point out the obvious with a style and punctuation, few of us would or could even dream about. I remember one such occasion at college, when she was trying to persuade S to disband one of his pro-radical movements— he liked to use meaningless compound phrases in those days— retro-activist-avist was his favourite— he said that it left dangling inferences suggesting guile and determination. K said it left an unpleasant odour in the air and a salty taste in her mouth whenever he said it. Her favourite saying on the other hand was, What’s with the finger E.T.? They were a charming bunch.

Anyway, he claimed the campus anti-everything lobby weren’t doing enough complaining about things that didn’t matter to anyone, so he founded the double A. E. B. The Anti-Anti-Everything Brigade, to which K merely pointed out that its tautology gave it ’all the noise of a harmless educational committee. Trying to point out the pointlessness of rebellion in the civilised world— is rather like an unwanted splinter’ she meant this quite literally; ‘a forgotten part of the Nation Union of Teachers perhaps’ she fancied, and besides, wasn’t it dishonest describing himself as a brigade, especially since he hadn‘t persuaded anyone else in actually joining him; that to disband an army of one was something that ‘reality just wouldn’t allow’ and perhaps he should try doing something useful instead like, drawing up a petition against himself and joining the N.U.T., ‘allergies allowing of course’, maintaining that she had read somewhere that ‘at least education had an ethos…’

S had missed the train again. It was the third time in as many days and he was starting to take the whole thing very personally. He wouldn’t have minded had it not been for the decrepit old fool in front of him who insisted on buying his ticket with an exact change he couldn’t really see; unless demonstrating the ability to distinguish the denomination of a coin by rubbing them against his eyeball counted as seeing.

As for me,I have a new cafeteria— reward for installing a utility next door, which brings me to my last point in a pointless exercise…

If you ask for and are expecting a cup of tea— but are given a mug of coffee instead…

It doesn’t taste well, and quite unlike either.

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The Gramm’azis’s a rude bunch. Even the term [just spoils my tea]…

When was their 1919 moment?

Besides the mobile-phone…

536031_10150755819601041_591256550_nGramm’azis sometime jump all over paragraphs, because in their rage they sometimes fail to recognise them as paragraphs; instead focus on a particular phrase. Even the term— perhaps even the use of Nazi in the plural tense— perhaps even the use of italics instead of the inverted comma. They’d complain that ia sentence wasn’t a sentence and didn’t make sense and blah to the la-de-dah, calling people stupid and whatever. And in one version of the universe— where cohesion, elision, endophora, hell, even the minor sentence didn’t exist— they’d be quite right, which is why I find the very term Grammar Nazi so apt. There really couldn’t be a more fitting soubriquet; it’s accurate with just the right hint of irony. Lucky for me however, I live in a galaxy far, far away from the one party state where a little sterilisation is OK. Because although language is a constituency of one, grammar is just one of the bits. Granted it’s one of the big bits, but without a complement of bits, shit gets sterile; and that would be— as long as you accept gramm’azis turd is safe to eat— an ineffective form of rule. And a contradiction: shit should not be fit for human consumption.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Standard English and think it ought to be protected. As a teaching tool it’s invaluable and as a means with which to measure English variance, there’s really no substitute, but holy-moly. I wouldn’t want to imagine a world where these guys go unopposed, which shouldn’t be too Earth-altering because they inhabit a really small place; it’s not even part of the planet. It’s a place with zero separation of spelling and grammar— which is a big no no Brown-Shirts, and if the metonymy offends you, you’re gonna love this one: grammar is based on sound, not words. The your, you’re, their, they’re, there place— I don’t know what to call this ego-enhancing pleasure-palace— is not a grammar problem, it’s a representation issue, it’s orthography; and yes, it’s annoying and best avoided, but in comment-boxes? Really? Is there really no higher place to call? Did pragmatics and deixis suddenly disappear?

That was me thinking out-loud. And that was me being flippant. And that was me wondering why anyone— and let’s be clear here— anyone with but a rudimentary grasp of language think it’s perfectly acceptable to respond to something with— wah, wah, grammar police wah fucking wah wah?

Clever people don’t do that. Linguists and language folk don’t do that. In fact the guys who are in a position to comment upon specific language uses, tend not to make the mistake of using too many logically fallacious statements, especially not ad hominem, tu quoque crap like your momma’s do— come on. I mean, god— is there some kind of high-register discourse convention for comment-boxes that I don’t know about? The one where anything short of five-part essay-standard formality is open-season for the sanctimonious? Aren’t comment-boxes supposed to be a convenient way to get a point across when you’re doing something you’re not supposed to instead of working? Are gramm’azis so blind-sided by blues-and-twos that they cannot see that good points sometimes come in shitty packages?

The ability to spot these mistakes then point them out does not require any particular skill or training, it really doesn’t. It doesn’t make you smart— it makes you an asshole. It means, at the very least you have a rudimentary grasp of language and are conscious of it. Our cueing systems are remarkable things, brilliant; they’re not toys to throw at each other. Now, most non-drivers can tell the difference between a good and shitty driver, and on this I’d steak a gamm’azis’ momma. Driving is not an inherent attribute. Language acquisition and development is pretty uniform the world over which means we are all, to some degree grammatical creatures, we are also contextual creatures— with few exceptions, I should know, I’ve worked with a few. But I’m also careful not to generalise too sweepingly and incur wrath from the fallacy police, even though those guys know how to party.

I can go on for weeks, literally. It was my job— Actually, I rarely left a dry eye, but I’d rather not. These people are ruining just about every article I read these days.

Bollockations—

I just don’t like the rude, it’s not contructive…

Damn you gramm’azis! All I wanted to do was read about cricket, drink tea and find my day!

I ventured and gained: nothing mind you, but still. Trial by coffee…

A life without adventure is likely to be unsatisfying, but a life in which adventure is allowed to take whatever form it will is sure to be short.

Bertrand Russell 

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Every now and then I get this craving for really good coffee— which wouldn’t be quite so torrid if the fridge wasn’t sporting some. Some days it practically spits it at me whilst endorsing the stuff at the same time; teasing me with breath so chilled it’s clearly a word of lost participles. It was being particularly unpleasant only the other evening, as I attempted to locate the cheese for a good strumming:

‘Hey treacle’ It said, ‘you look tired. Go on— make some— you know you want to…’

But since my cafeteria fell foul of complications due to wear and tear— the fridge gets torn into with the more industrial side of my language. It’s hardly civilised, but since I managed to get it to talk to the toaster— I’m afraid it’s become a little lippy!

Being without a vessel for your beans is monstrous you see, and the fridge knows this— it’s like trying to drive a car with no steering wheel. Today though, I just couldn’t be restrained.

So I buckled up and found a saucepan which was too small and filled it up with a too large a sprinkling of coffee; administered too great a volume of water; used a grind catcher designed for fewer granules whilst pouring into my inadequate mug, which was too close to the edge of the work surface— which allowed me the oppotunity to determine exactly how not absorbent enough the kitchen towel was to pick up the dribbles; the mug not large enough to entertain my drink; the catcher had butter-fingers, over-flew and trickled over everything; leaving me with a hard fought out pint of gritty coffee— and all the makings of a good clear up. All however— was not to be lost with, melancholy lost.

I found another mug of similar design and filtered the contents of the first mug into it and simply rinsed away the offending particles in the sink…

Unfortunately, my efforts were tepid and I sunk the lot in a superhero sized gulp—

Now I’m thirsty again;

Though I may apply Russian scientific principals to my labours and improve the definition of my practises…

You’ll find lots of things at my desk to assist me when the need is greatest…

Acorns were good until bread was found.

Francis Bacon

555751_10150808762961041_1512462874_nContinuing with the most unlikeliest of themes— an absolutism which despite appearances isn’t the statement of a complete cretin, considering ours is a time of constant hyperbole and overexposure to superfluous superlatives where all is garbage or great; it therefore makes its self a meta-sentiment which holds semantic weight considering the vastness of the post-modifying element of the phrase, and also quite appropriate owing to its observance to a law other than stylistics— something I happen to know a little about; but not too much.

What we expect and what are the unknowingest parts of the mundane exist only from our desire to rise above such trivialities in order to offer ourselves respite from whatever trappings we use to define our servility. Mine are deliberately superficial, affordable for the most part— in the least part not exactly cheap or morally legitimate, but congruent to my own sets of values. This tryphé may be subject to further discussion were it not of an impending consequence that I amend Mr Bacon’s alluring aphorism with something I hope is not unedifying. Acorns were indeed good, as was bread, but that was until breadsticks. Of course, once it’s possible to be in a position where you can purchase a packet of acorns at your local supermarket for recreational purposes, we may see this priority change hands once again.

I must confess, with some amusement I might add, that I had never have seen any benefits in eating breadsticks or anything else with them for that matter, because they’re a kind of non-food stuff. They’re not a snack and barely count as an accoutrement to a meal. I would never have ‘let alone’ imagined there could be any value in them outside their nutritional content, which is very little; and certainly wouldn’t have credited them with the sustenance required to cause astonishment— at least not in the quantity required for me to  link them to something as ‘surprising’. But with any such awe comes inevitability and with that we are led to the writing of the predicament I now find myself in— which is not so much the refuting of a man’s maxim, albeit not one of his best, than the fashioning of a new one.

Were I to say that I like the idea of inventors messing around in their garages, taking apart toys and microwaves to find something new that’ll change the world as we know it, would you say it was rather like being revolutionary born in Switzerland? Probably not, that’s why there are two different kinds of people, equal nonetheless, but that’s where my similarity to any form of revolutionary rests; being Swiss don’t got nothing to do with it.

I also like the idea of writers messing around in their studies, taking apart ideas and words hoping to find new ways to describe the world— they just need  something to help them do it. Things like breadsticks.

The other types of people are readers.

From the naturalistic point of view, all men are equal. There are only two exceptions to this rule of naturalistic equality: geniuses and idiots.

Mikhail Bakunin

And food, with the odd exception is food…