News From Home 17, Part II
11/24/2004 (updated 11/24/2004)

I ran into Hashimoto this morning, as he was on his knees measuring the grass (he uses metric scale). He said that to understand grass, you had to get down to grass level – indeed, sometimes he spent hours on end lying there, empathizing, feeling the mighty pounding of a dog’s feet, seeing the sprinkler water arcing down from a distant heaven. He is genuinely appalled at the loss of the lantern – this time, he truly believes it is gone, not merely residing in a parallel dimension. I told him I intend to purchase another, perhaps a wooden one as something of a change. He said he knew of a man who carved them down in Japantown, beautiful craftsmanship, best cedar materials. He would be honoured to take on the project himself, and would get the ball rolling without delay.

This Eighteenth Century fad may have gone too far – merely getting dolled up in the styles of times past, with a few Hawaiian patterns thrown in, was not enough for three High School students last week. Not content with dressing like Thomas De Quincey, and talking like Thomas De Quincey, they decided to throw a laudanum party, so that they could get out of their brains like Thomas De Quincey. Arrests were made, ugliness ensued, and I hope this won’t put the dampers on a sociological phenomenon.

Mavis’ brother’s candle business, My Old Flame, is going great guns, and is currently expanding in the area of television. Instead of just watching and hearing your favourite programme, why not smell it too? Current best sellers are:

Friends – those girls wear expensive perfume – out of all proportion to the rent they are supposed to be paying. That New York smell of dead cockroaches behind the sink panelling, and old take-aways in the fridge.

The Office – warm electrical smell of photocopier, ancient coffee, bad aftershave, rubber-backed industrial carpet.

Big Brother – unwashed feet, month-old bed sheets, stale pizza crust.

Restaurant lovers will be glad to hear of something a little out of the ordinary opening on a piece of derelict ground behind the hairdresser’s. Called ‘The Bottom Of The World’, this is an authentic reproduction of Ernest Shackleton’s base camp in Antarctica – a humble and weather-beaten shack, with the supplies from 1914 - tinned goods, snowshoes, etc. - still stacked around the walls. The clientele are fed at crude trestle tables, while a soundtrack of howling wind plays incessantly. The menu is surely for the adventurous, but having taken the plunge, penguin is a lot better than it sounds, especially fricasseed as goujons with a lichen and squid ink sauce. And better not complain to a hard-of-hearing waiter that the Pilot Whale tastes blubbery, lest he thinks you are paying a compliment. Seal en Croute, Pickled Seagull, Tern Eggs Benedict – all uncharted waters for most diners, but there are culinary treasures to be discovered here. Iceberg lettuce seems to come with everything; did I mention the ambient temperature is a steady 2 degrees Celsius? Appropriate dress is provided. Only the most hardy ask for ice in their drinks here, and when they do, it comes in a block a foot square, with an ice pick. All in all, a popular destination on an intolerably hot day.