Friday, February 11, 2011

A Bit of Culture

This week to the British Library, to meet my sister for lunch and to visit the exhibition on the English Language.  I would like to say that this was fascinating, and they had certainly tried hard, with original early books and artefacts, alongside recordings of various types of speech.  However, nothing quite matched that shock of the raw one sometimes happens upon in hearing English actually spoken in its regional variations within England.  One time in a Lake District pub, overhearing three hound-trailing supporters discussing the relative merits of various dogs - there's a little world with its own language.  Another time, going just that bit further up the A1 and finding ourselves unexpectedly at sea in a service station,  asking the girl on the till to repeat things because we had no idea what she had said.

At the end of the exhibition there was the chance to contribute a sample of one's own English, choosing a word we used.  My sister chose "Slarky", which means "Smeared, as in a window, or windscreen."  I chose my mother's expression "like a padding-can."  This meant an untidy room or a scrow.  I have never heard anyone else say this, so I am not sure if it is Cumbrian dialect.

After lunch, I took the opportunity of popping in to the British Museum, with a view to seeing some of the 100 Objects, and indeed I did see a couple of them: the stone belt weighing five stones which was part of a ritualised ball game, and a carved stone pipe in the shape of an otter.

What caught my eye, however, was a golden funerary wreath from the Hellenistic art section, its delicate oak leaves and acorns as abundant and shiny as when it was made.

And this carved panel:

 from Hadrian's villa at Tivoli.

Finally, an Anglo-Saxon cross in red sandstone, from Lowther in Cumbria.

This week's knitting: another version of Knotty but Nice from Knitty Winter 2009.  I knitted this flat in DK, adding one extra pattern and fudging the cable by turning one back on itself at the edge.  This fits very closely and will be ideal for cycling, although it has to be said that it looks a bit like a swimming cap in wear.  I did use a larger needle for the cable section, but it still pulls in dramatically.

This week's recipe: recently, I harvested most of our leeks.   Trim the leeks but keep whole.  Boil until tender.  Meanwhile make a cheese sauce with butter, flour, milk and grated cheese, adding a teaspoonful of English mustard to add piquancy.  Wrap each leek in a slice of cooked ham and place two of these per person in a shallow dish.  Pour over the cheese sauce.  Reheat in the oven.  This was particularly frugal since we live a few yards from the Coop supermarket who pride themselves on discarding a minimum of food as waste.  To this end, they discount items heavily as they approach their sell-by date.  Packs of perfectly good ham were 20p, having started at £3.  That's what I call discounting.


SmitoniusAndSonata said...

That leek dish sounds good ! I make a version using endive instead of leeks . One of Husband's favourite meals .
I must pop into the British Library when I'm in London later this month . I could contribute my grandmother's "posing like a haddie" , origin unknown but certainly Scottish , for someone showing off .

Mary Lou said...

I have so enjoyed the 100 Objects, I envy getting to see them in person. No leeks here since we are under several feet of snow, but I always grow them and will try that recipe. Thanks.

Enid said...

My Mam used the ''padding can'' phrase; I don't know where it originated, but we both born and brought up near Wigan.

Raveller said...

The BL has quite a good website for the exhibit " Sounds Familiar? Accents and Dialects of the UK." I wonder if there's more online that what they "exhibited" in the actual museum. Here's the link: