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!


84. Screen Memories Maybe of Bideford Fair

Not ordinary on the quayside
mongrels move across (we are they
of gryphons & tapirs & people &
all free creatures – not marred
we choose carnival & laughter
night-time suddenly sparks and shines
the dust smells of meadowsweet
we are fierce, miswritten humans
now opening history to the full at midnight

not triumphal – heavy struggle
we are devoured within
a buffet of profound perversity
irrationality of the non-human
always back in the old mud again
something brutish & smearing
home is the horizon – it glitters
somehow we are still wading up the beach
trust, intensified, one of our great truths

83. Some Distich, Alright?

At this time we are brought to a crisis, an acute worry, that glitters with joy that here at this point we, the ordinary mongrels, must move to act against the non-humans (for so they have declared themselves – self distancing from ordinary people’s lives as if we were bêches de mer crawling across the sea bottom, and they full human beings collecting us from above to sell and eat1.

At this time the carnival opens, with scarlet flaggings and well-dappled pellicules covering the quay, at night-time with all the glorious creatures we hope to become: tapirs, gryphons, anything with hooves – alas! we cannot be reborn as these – unless we choose not to be victims & break at last, burst through all the forces that threaten us, so that then, in an eyeblink, all of history turns miswritten & we are at last welders of new being for ourselves, using laughter not worry, as the pattering sparks fall harmlessly into the dust & their fierce shine will protect us, here on the quayside at midnight now, suddenly smelling of meadowsweet2, let’s gather at carnival & meet.



1 trepanging



2 from the banks of the Torridge here

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

73. And What Has Been Miswritten Now?

Laughter, though, sustaining
all this miraculous disorderliness
nostalgia of the non-human
– it glitters! somehow slippery as
oh, bêche-de-mer – what allows this?
joy, skipping through our mongrel lives
to the horizon, that buffet of possibilities
triumphal perversity playing within our memories
it enacts our redeeming so

Some stodgy manifestation follows
not together, but smearing & misguided
where are the poets then? no warning
our bodies still always mock-heroic and alone
no triumphal re-entry now, but sedative
the misunderstanding is great: all gods broken
imagine it’s intensified & shining, the split
not spoken, not written, a right shard of shit
devoured in irrationality, profoundly marginalese then dead