Tag Archives: Dave Allen

Eating the stale bread

You can’t mention Dave Allen’s stale bread too many times. It’s good enough to bring up again (the sketch, not the bread), which is why I’m doing so. (The idea that you can’t have today’s freshly baked bread until you’ve eaten the stale bread, and then tomorrow you…)

Usually at this time of year I plan what I will read over Christmas. I might have one or two really special books, and I decide that reading them will be my Christmas present to myself.

And every year I remember – too late – that I never have time to read, between getting food onto the table and taking it off again, and the odd other bit of household chore. The kind that’s quicker to do yourself than to ask someone to help you with.

So right now I’m reading a Christmas book. There are more than two weeks left, and whereas I’ve made no preparations at all, I’ve been feeling slightly off-colour, so am permitting myself to read.

It’s the one that arrived last week, but isn’t published until May next year, and it was either read it now or find that it has to be hurriedly done in five month’s time. Because somehow Christmas, the tables and fifty other books got in between me and it.

And, well, I reckon we can always buy food instead of cooking. Had a quick look online. Sainsbury’s believe party food is a packet of crisps, and Marks & Spencer had the most divine looking canapés [almost] ever. It’ll be a hard choice.

I know. I’ll be making them myself. But one can dream a little.

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The onion fryers

I’m reading a real onion fryer kind of book right now. I almost got impatient with the Resident IT Consultant for coming back from his walk, because I was reading so comfortably and there he was and I had to make conversation instead. Who am I kidding? I did get impatient, but only quietly. It was just the right kind of day for reading; chilly and dark, and it was so inviting, there in my holey armchair. (Don’t worry, I’ve covered the holes with a blanket for the moment. Tartan. Because we’re in Scotland.)

Despair had been creeping in, because I’d had a few books I wasn’t rushing to get back to. They don’t have to be real onion fryers (that’s my name for them, borrowed from Adèle Geras, who has described the can’t-let-go-of books as ones she reads while stirring the onions she’s frying for dinner), but I like to feel a certain longing when I think of returning to my reading chair. Coming up with other things to do instead is not a recommendation.

What I find so amazing is that my current onion fryer was offered by a writer so diffident, but who truly belongs to the very greatest of children’s authors, that I’d have snatched it out of their hands, had we been in the same room.

I have a few onion books sitting around at the moment. One of them was also of the hard to come by kind, as I only found out about it by chance and then had to ask for it. Now, is it wrong to be so desperate for onion style sequels by – I would think – one of the more reliably bestselling authors of today? Should I leave an excellent book by someone who is less in need of another review, in favour of a needier book? In fact, is that why I had to ask for it? Did the publisher feel it needed less TLC?

For about a year I’ve carried a book round with me on trips, expecting to ‘read it next’ and when I finally got to it the other week, I was rather underwhelmed. I didn’t mind it, but neither was I making excuses to go and sit down with it. All I wanted to do was to grab one of my onion fryers instead.

I think my reasoning here is along the lines of that intelligent Dave Allen sketch about bread. You have fresh bread, warm from the oven. But you have a bit of yesterday’s stale bread, and you must eat it first. Which means that today’s lovely fresh bread will be tomorrow’s stale offering, which you have to eat before… And so on. Whereas I reckon I can just as well toast yesterday’s bread tomorrow as today, so will eat the new bread first.

The same goes for books. I’m all set to read every one – or most – of the onion books now. And maybe when I’m done, there will be more of them waiting. Just not sure what to do about the ‘toast.’ Because I do like toast.