Thinking that policemen look younger and regularly saying “I remember…” are both very clear signs of age. This statement doesn’t hold true in my case as I avert my eyes at the first sign of a policeman, in sure and clear knowledge that I’m guilty of something or anything, and I try not to say “I remember….” as the dots are hard to pronounce and yet are probably the only things that I do remember. Memories come to me when I’m writing, sleeping, cooking or at any time other than when remembering would contribute to the conversation or would facilitate the smooth running of every day life. The box is full, but someone keeps moving it from the last place that I put it down. Every now and then I run into a contemporary, whom I may not have seen in years, and we chat animatedly over several hours during which time no names, proper nouns, dates or titles are mentioned as they are temporarily forgotten until after we have said our farewells. The conversation was in no way spoilt as we both knew the names and titles in question, they just weren’t forthcoming on demand. It’s quite a relaxing way of talking in that it avoids the pitfalls of mistakes as nothing is mentioned that could be incorrect or misleading, there is just agreement. This is an ideal situation, of course, that can only be achieved with seniority but which leads me inexorably to the pleasure of “l’humour de l’escalier”. This phrase relates to that moment, on the way home after a particularly trying event, when the perfect riposte manifests itself and has to be wasted. There is a wonderful book, a copy of which I have sadly mislaid over numerous house moves, that is called “I wish I’d said that”. The reason for this post is that I have just remembered a couple of things from that book and can’t resist but to share them with you:
A short conversation between Jean Harlow and Margot Asquith, the acerbic aristocratic wit.
Jean Harlow: ” Oh, hi there, are you really the famous Margot Asquith” (pronouncing the “t” as in “got”)
Margot Asquith: “Yes, my dear, but the “t” is silent, as in Harlow.”
I’ve forgotten the other one now, so I’ll carry on eating my bread and cheese. The cheese is a wonderful Cantal Entre Deux and the chutney is Green Tomato and Apple which was made by Mary Cadogan.