91. A Recipe for Children

for you all

Little noisy children, then, aren’t
you nice?
          – just as you should be, yes
everywhere that we can think of
funny little creatures uncommitted yet
to all that crap we must believe & follow
adult masculine English, say
                             uncertain class & age
what commonplace delusions that you don’t
yet share
          of course now lots
totally fucked up & maybe even lost
but most alive & hopeful still
the future such a grasp of faith
actually here embodied
                       open & illuminating

So what do we need?
                    for more
little children to pass through
sometimes of life, sometimes of quiet
none of this easy & none of it a recipe
but what we’d need then is something like
                        an openness to your growing lives
                        & a way of adjusting all that is around
                        into your flourishing transformations
                        some sorts of food as varied & as comforting
                        as all that can be managed
                                                   & like too
                        spaces open and enclosed, full up & empty
                        you know, just every possibility
                        – someone1 needs to have produced these
                        & someone needs to carry this all on
                        somewhere to run & someone to turn to
                        softness & feeling totally assured
                        others just like when you’re bibbling & bobbling
                        & others totally unlike so you can learn good things
                                                        – whatever you need
                        time as well, to be on your own
                                                        staying engaged
                        & time to be caught up with others
                                                           a mad laughing mob
                                                           rolling down hills
                                                           little hills
                                                           giggling together
                        & words
                                good words attuned to you
                                           & about you
                                           engaging you in colloquy
                                           engaging you in nonsense
                                a constant gentle rain
                                language softened into mud
                                squidged up & scooped
                                                      all over you
                        & things for your bodies & things
                        for your eyes & things for
                        your ears & nose & your hands again
                        water & sand & mud & stone & wood & paper
                        plastic & metal & everything natural
                        & lots that is unnatural
                                                 stories & love
                                                 music & encouragement
                                                 peacefulness & challenge
                                                 & always
                                                          to listen
                                                          & to respond
                        Chinese feasts & barbecues
                        picnics & Christmas
                                            – all with as many others
                                              as you can gather
                        breakfast at Broadstairs or teatime in Coffee Corner
                        sitting on a sofa w/ everyone around or
                        just as many as fit
                                            on a mat out the back
                                            or even a large cardboard box
– this isn’t telling anyone
anything we don‘t know
just praising what is good
fall quiet now

       – are you alright?
this place needs noise now
needs everything said again
                            & done
whatever ceremonies are proper
that appear out of nothing
(like this whole ridiculous universe
                                     & like us)
doing what you do to help the child
                     be what you are
                     & will be
                       a person
                       true person
                       playing yourself
                       as your self
                       just as you are
                       can be

This is
        a revolutionary demand I’d say
        to do this truly & fully
        rushing in as absolute & unforgiving
        like a sundog over Harlow2
        like the digging up of relics
        of who we could have been
        like a poem by Sean Bonney
        like an urgent summons
        on someone else’s phone
                                – oh my god it’s you
                                  that’s who they want
                                  you’re wanted now
                                  to help us all
make this much better
                                  if too late for us
                                  for all our children
                                  & yours for ever3

Thank you – this is
a start again to say
the same words really
(oh thank you constraints of form that chose me!
but I don’t care
                 – for what is good
we can say again & again
with no loss of balance, only
just to do better is a gain
our eyes will burn
unless we open them to this light
of the new world continually around us
utopian hope lurking even in unrented shops
& we risk losing it
letting the old drop onto it
suppressing it into what we are
actually bound here as we are
we think ourselves free still
we carers & we parents
we know that you must be
not as we are4
but as we could be
          should be
in a world that is as it should be
as nothing else will preserve our lives
                                & yours

[So much I must say, so much I must finish with, ending what isn’t a recipe, except as I say it is, disordered as late summer sun collapsing into autumn. We must dig out what we need from it, if we’re to get through the coming winter & you, our children, flourish – rooty-tooting like glad tapirs in an uncomplicated alchemy, changing everything we live within into what will sustain us, especially our children for ever. “Always a good time to rebuild, now,” we say, as we serve you this dish to enjoy & nourish



1 that is us, dear reader or dear audience



2 or Mortimer’s Cross or the someone else’s Bridge: cold & luminous anyway



3 The political is children; the psychological is children. Socialism is children. Everything else is profitable infanticide.



4 insipid ghosts

89. A Recipe for Summer Pudding

for both Neirin Alexander Winstanley Smith-Spark and Ianthe Judith Smith‑Spark, who are so much in my care these days

This I hope as something to return to
every year when summer is at its fullest
as joyful ritual as any of Christmas
welcome this & help in preparing
then eat it up to live then
as good memory of a family rite

A process run on here of sharedness
communal rituals based on our flesh
in winter elaborate & rich, in summer
light, more casual, barely cooked
                    dipped into cold
no need for fake magics but
only the most necessary processes I guess
everyone helping in making & eating

We aren’t homeless yet or now
where you can plant some fruit bushes
these are what you need most of all
their brightest jewels against the green
a kilo of fresh-grown summer fruit
we can all pick together again
– these are the ones I think you’ll use: blackcurrants
(which around here grow extremely well
– undoubtedly one of those plants
inhabiting the land before us all
– we are the migrants
                                         strawberries – (tho’ not too many!)
both the plump beauties we cultivate
& the little bright aromatic wild ones
flourishing free & untended
& these too I often use:                 blackberries
                                                     & their hybrid offspring1
                                         a few early mulberries
                                         & a few late gooseberries
                                                      wine dark sacs
                                                      that escaped then
                                                      turning into fool
with a couple of sprigs of green sweet cicely leaves
& 250 g of caster sugar (fair trade
                         never beet!)
& bread
        a large sandwich loaf of white bread
        bought fresh the day before
        Dorringtons is best2

Outside the fruits’ bodily membranes
lie insects & birdpoo, mollusctrails, dust
& industrial poisons from any bought fruits
so immerse (in a colander) in cold water
& leave to drain then top & tail
                      select & hull
till the fruit you want is ready
add the sweet cicely leaves
                            if you can get them
                            but there should be some growing
                            in your parents’ garden
then leave over night in the cool of the fridge
mingling within a capacious bowl
sprinkled over it all the sugar
next day tip into a saucepan
stir in any sugar not yet sogged
gently warming over low heat
until it just about simmers
leave at that for a couple of minutes only
next gently prepare the pudding basin
(the one used for Christmas pudding fine
with kitchen paper sprinkled w/ almond oil
finally cut the bread into thick slices
trim off all the crusts & assemble it all:
a circle at the bottom of the basin
like the moon at the bottom of a pond
cut slices into triangles & build up the walls
little bits can fill any breaks & cracks

& rise up to the very top of this basin
fill it carefully with your fruity mess
only half way there then place across
a shelf of bread like a cross-strut
then all the rest
                  & seal with slices
right across the top and cover
– an inverted saucer or plate
its surface also glossed w/ oil
and place in your fridge
                         – the opposite of cooking this!
to penetrate utterly the bread
                               add a weight
to the top, maybe a tin
                        or press up against the shelf above
and it’s ready tomorrow already

Always the same beautiful element to serve it with
– rich clotted cream from out the farthest West
– fit for all heroes, princesses & bards
once you’ve turned it out:
                           a palette knife
                           around the edges to loosen
                           then invert into a shallow bowl
                           a marbled monument to summer
it’ll all keep in the fridge for several days
– unless you mother discovers it
                                 & scoffs the lot!

[Dear, bright little children, again, that’s it! The simplest & surest of transformations compared with all the complicated alchemy of Christmas, and beautifully composed of just bread, fruit, sugar & cream – food for honey‑tongued & noble bards, food for sea-nymphs & heroines of utopian vision. The whole idea is very uncomplicated; but I’ve taken some detail as often from my mother-source, Jane Grigson, and I’ll hold onto her recipe quite happily: it’s attractively marbled rather than oozy & monochrome, & the shelf across makes it less architecturally disordered. And I’ll hold hard too to a varied mixture, based on what your garden has produced – impurity in all things! There’s never the right recipe, just the one that’s best to use now.]



1 Thank you, Judge Logan



2 But your mother will advise: don’t eat the sandwiches!


75. A Recipe for Smoked Mackerel on Cabbage

for Martock, and everyone I knew there (and at Yeovil Grammar School – though how I rejoice that institution has long been totally dismantled!)

Yes, fish are glittering & slippery
always leave me a little unsure
but here my imperfect grasp is remedied
through already processed product which
cook themselves up minimally problematically
& remind me always of the mackerel men
selling the catch off the backs of lorries
straight up from West Bay1
the nearest bit of coast due South to Martock
so holidays there meant a caravan by West Bay’s shingle2
& this isn’t how anyone ever ate in Martock anyway
grilled or fried with potatoes & peas or boiled cabbage
which you don’t need me to tell you how to make
but this dish much more full of divine & inflowing splendour

Cooking is what cooking is
and what food is has everything
to do with the infilling of imaginary’s belly3
as pragmatic a reason as possible please
so make whatever approximation you would like
it’ll be true as anything else: 4 or so smoked mackerel fillets
                                – peppered is great
                                an onion (or half)
                                a carrot (or half)
                                some mushrooms
                                white cabbage
                                              a fair amount
                                              all split into shards
                                (or you can veer from
                                the type & bastard mix
                                always good – nice
                                pointed spring cabbage yes
                                and some greens
                                                even kale
                                                not any savoy
                                – misguided & a fault I find)4
                                a little marrow
                                                or courgette5
                                a pepper green & shiny
                                maybe some peas
                                and some things lighter also
                                                        broccoli sprouts
                                                        or chard
                                                        even lettuce
                                plus added to all these
                                                        ground pepper
                                maybe some chillies
                                or your favourite chilli sauce
                                important the fish sauce of Vietnam
                                & a little soy a must

Let us be thankful for that which is
& whatever congeries of vegetables have come through
reverberating endlessly
sliced finely to hand
                      – except those you’ll use softly
                        as a bed above the rest
then fry up the onions, carrots
                                & the chillies
                                (if you like
& add in the cut up vegetables
all within a large & heavy pan
let them begin to work & season now
w/ a bit of pepper & a little soy & added too
a useful splash of fishy sauce
then cover for a little
say 10 minutes or more
& like a melting glacier rich juices begin to form beneath
drop on your soft bed of more tender leaves or shoots
& add the mackerel after them
                              then cover again
you can leave it be on a lower heat
for half an hour or less – no
                              fashionably wilted greens but
a thick & mixed up British mud of vegetable & liquor
serve this lovely stodginess with rice
                                       – it’s nice!
                                       (still we are children in some kind

So here it is like the debris of a former world
recast as something newer, dark & nutritious
food like compost to nourish up your belly
leaving you heavy but full of fertile vigour

[Though eating mackerel reminds me somehow of childhood, we actually rarely ate them – I think my mother, East London middle-class, was a little uneasy about fish sold off of lorries on the village street. But, she’d approve the nourishment & all the vegetables. The recipe was suggested to me again by Ginie (& it’s like a Chinese hotpot dish6), but ending up usually played out this way (depending on what material there is). It is a matter of inhabiting, in the food, and in the writing, what actually you do inhabit, and inhabiting it fully, even down to the dark rich lower depths that are what we spring from & must return to. Not Dorset shingle, but Somerset mud. Not purified origins, but that appalling multitextual sea we drift on.]



1 now chichi incomer artisanal Dorset – Café Surf at last



2 the alternative was Burnham mud



3 thus making it constant & real. And, yes, Keston, we are what we ate – are you not a materialist, then?



4 steam it & it’s delicious – serve buttered (w/ a little nutmeg & lemon juice also, plus pepper)



5 a mock-heroic marrow – either adds a little added substance like sweet stodginess



6 hmm – might work well with glass noodles included? – & preserved radish, yes

61. A Recipe for Coconut Cream Tapioca with Mango

For Neirin & Ianthe, who I’m sure will like this, &, in a couple of years, try making it as well as eating it

OK then, my little ones, this
like you is very much a work in progress
improving as we go along like you
& like you cheering, even ludicrous
full of potentiality to transform
now, except to you, things are never new
& this recipe gains from its mirroring
throwing back an individual & thus disordered mess
against the commonplace of branded uniformity
except they aren’t, but vary quite pleasingly
like little children again, each a separate self
so we’ll make these as small pots
to eat where & how we wish
sweet transient drops I offer

For it we’ll need
(it’s almost believable)
here to make 2 portions
                        30 g tapioca – not big balls for bubble tea
                                       but littler that’ll grow like seeds
                        30 g sugar
                        160 ml coconut milk – well mixed!
                        40 ml single cream (but rich!)
                        + either a can of mango purée
                          or 1 fresh, soft, ripe mango
                          depending on what you can find
things needed simply thus
                        place all but the mango in a little pan
                        & put on a low heat
                        stir it & check it
                        everything frequent
                        when it sets to boiling
                        lowest heat that’ll simmer
                        still stirring occasionally please
                        & in about 25 minutes or more
                        you’ll find this translated
                        not commonplace but creamy
                        when the tapioca pearls
                        have gained their translucence
                        soft, oh yes, as frogspawn
                        – meanwhile if you’ve got fresh mango
                        perfectly ripe1 & delicious
                        cut off & peel one side
                        then process into mush
                        put this inside 2 little pots
                                          ramekins or jars
                        so it’s a low level
                                            oh a fifth
                        then once the tapioca is ready
                        let it cool a little
                                             but not to set
                        then spoon on top
                        & eat at your leisure
                        just at room temperature2

[I have got this recipe by reconstructing a gorgeous pudding Ginie & I regularly buy at Waitrose, that combines the mango/tapioca/coconut we variously got in some Malaysian dishes at the C & R in Rupert Court3, but gaining a hit of pure West Country cream. The home made version is a little rougher, but fresher. The tapioca cream could be spiced – cook in a cardamom pod or two, sprinkle cinnamon – but, really, it’s just a good specific taste as it is.4 Try it, dear little children! Not just for its own sake, but as a post‑colonial relic, linking these grandparents’ childhoods, one of tropical tastes & Singapore streetfood (and beyond, the exoticism of cassava cultivation – beware the cyanide!), with the other’s stodgy but comforting English nursery food of the days of Empire, what all good children named frogspawn.]



1 is all, too & absolutely



2 Yes, it is a Laodicean dish! Embrace this! Never stark antinomies, fit only for Manichees, but all the infinite gradations of actuality.



3 We look forward to taking you now it’s reopened, as we took your mother & Uncle Nick.



4 Other variation is to use sago pearls – though our local East Asian store, Oriental Spice (now reborn as Oriental Phoenix), next to the launderette at Hockerill, doesn’t stock them, nor any of the local supermarkets shelve dry sago or tapioca.

52. A Recipe for I Don’t Know What

for someone close to me

Can I really give you this advice
everything hanging in frozen air
great stillness and profound arranging
all this emptiness within
we know one moment it will switch
a full plenary of rain
or the dingy mush when heaven is obscured
but today bright, delicious

OK, well, how can I
except as an other
in a world where what the gods wrote
is a phrase for laughter
& quite rightly not honour
for what the gods are is familiar
as ourselves
             their huge absoluteness
like vast capital letters
to say: this is more than troubled optics
dismal banality of entoptic flux
oh let them then be counters or relics
we shuffle to work out the final sums
our lives suddenly ending up as here

So, they’re contained & quivering
vibrating within this flawed blue bowl
heaped then in holiness
                        children &
                        parents &
                        partners &
                        families &
                        houses &
                        distances &
                        money &
                        its lack and
                        the decay of things
                        their inadequacy
                        & besides
                        the whole nature
                        of rule & control
                        & the point at which
                        what we’ve got is still better
                        than the guys w/ hatchets & big hammers
                        & then too
                        that absolute
                        sense of difference
                        to the world
                        & people
                        we are variously
                        born into

                        I can’t see
                        your collection
                        I expect
                        I’ve put
                        the ingredients here
                        & then
                        what processes
                        of lives & aging
                        of saying & not saying
                        of meaning & projecting
                        of hoping & of fantasising
                        carried on or rejected
                        the rules are rigorous
                        & I don’t understand them either
                        I think it needs
                        negotiating tenderly
                        as if a dark room
                        approaching the little one
                        & I know
                        you can do this
                        & do it so often
                        that all can be well
                        as the room’s vacuity
                        will surely decay
                        within hazes of nothingness
                        into human love acting

Then, like
it’s starting to bake
let it cohere
around what there is
& who there is
that runs around
laughing with life
believe in this
as your gods
hidden within
this sorry world
to redeem us yourself

[I got this from nowhere but here, and having stood here, all my life.1 I don’t really know what can help you; here is where “hope” and “faith”, like brown and red sauce in an unreconstructed cafe, make the whole mess better is the plan. Somehow & nevertheless these things may work – tenderly, not splurging, never to gain, but to live within & give. Yes?

But nothing is really from nowhere & I did get some of this recipe from Kenneth Rexroth’s poem “A Sword in a Cloud of Light”, from the sequence “The Lights in the Sky Are Stars” (dedicated to his daughter, Mary), The Collected Shorter Poems (New Directions, 1966), p 239 – tho first encountered by me with surprised delight on an A-level English “unseen poem” paper I was teaching.]



1 To lead on further, through the pressure of the maintaining of the reality of powerfully projected mental forms I’m exploring, as you know, through Dion Fortune, Stortford’s greatest student. Thank you here then too, Dr Theodore Moriarty, and all at The Grange.