[lit-ideas] Re: Thereabouts

  • From: John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Lit-Ideas <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 7 Dec 2015 15:28:05 +0900

Have you heard of the Common Potoo? Found in Amazonia, this insectivorous
hawk, has evolved an artful camouflage. Perched on top of a broken palm
trunk it fades into the break. Looks exactly like the broken bit. Devilish
cunning that bird.

Another favorite from our recent visit to Ecuador was the Hauxin
(pronounced "Watson") and nick-named "stinky turkey." It consumes large
leaves and has a digestive tract so designed that it renders the flesh of
the bird disgusting and inedible to potential predators. "Alimentary, my
dear" instantly comes to mind.



On Mon, Dec 7, 2015 at 3:06 PM, david ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>

Searching in a London Sainsbury’s for something to cook, I ran my eye down
the line of fresh chickens. All but one were identified as “British,”
which would have been fine. Here though was a St. Andrew’s Cross on the
label. Scooooootush chucken! Had to buy it. As I wandered in search of
Marmite and other items I intended to take back in my bag, my mind decided
to tackle the problem of what Scottish chickens might be named if I owned
some. People in Glasgow call women, “hen.” “It’s down the road a wee way;
you’ll find it on the left, hen.” Maybe they’d call hens, “hen” too?

Beer categories might also be a possibility: wee heavy, lager, bitter,
export, sixty shilling. The shilling designation, says Wikipedia, was
based on the price per hogshead: sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety shilling
were pretty standard. Last time I was in Scotland the chalkboard behind a
bar said that the seventy shilling would cost three pounds fifty. Or some
such price.

In 1909 Macay brewed a cheap pale ale and a cheap stout, the fifty four.
Imagine dialog between the fifty-four hen and the ninety. I bet the
fifty-four would be a bit like Cheddar; the ninety would be a bully:
Fifty-four: “What’re you having then, hen?”
“Twice as much as you chum.”
Fifty-four: “No, that would be if I addressed you as a forty-five. Ninety
is twice as much as forty-five. Not fifty-four. 'Out in the forty-five'
and all that. Have to be standing on my head to go from a fifty-four to a
forty-five. That would be very odd, I should say. Very odd indeed.”
“Not as odd as your head will look when my beak’s done with you chum.
Back off and shut up. Top of the pecking order me, and don’t you forget
Along comes the sixty shilling, “Make mine a deep-fried Mars bar, if you
will, pet. I’m feeling peckish.”

We had a dinner at my sister’s house: lamb with all the trimmings,
Christmas pud, stilton and port. We pulled paper hats from crackers. In
Oregon it would be odd I think to have Christmas dinner on another day;
less so in Britain. After a walk in borrowed wellies, we piled into a
country pub, hoping for lunch. The landlord explained that he was fully
booked…by people having Christmas dinner in party hats pulled from
crackers. Eventually he squeezed us in. The steak pie was great. With
chips and gravy.

Crackers, the whole journey really, popping across the pond for such a
brief visit. But worth it.

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

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John McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
Tel. +81-45-314-9324

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