Sunday, 12 November 2017

October Plenty

At the end of last month, we went to the October Plenty celebration which is held every year in Borough Market in London. This market is a hub for traders in artisan foods. It began in the year 1014, located at the south end of the original London Bridge and, despite changing fortunes, continues to this day. It is a food connoisseurs haven*, situated immediately underneath the railway* track and the old arches close by London Bridge Station. This is not where you go for a cheap snack of cardboard bread, soggy chips or lumpy burgers* with unknown ingredients. It is a place for those who know what they like and intend to eat it with supreme and knowledgeable* enjoyment in every aroma, fragrance and tang, every flavour, savour and taste, every nibble, slurp or bite, and every crumb and fragment from the wrappers and containers.

* "haven" Insert vowel, clearly thick, so it is not misread as "heaven"

* "railway" The R intersection stands for "railway" so if the text said "rail" that would need a full outline

* "burgers" This is in the shorthand dictionary under "burghers" from which it is derived, via the German spelling

"knowledgeable" Always insert the dipthong in "enjoyable" to differentiate. Although not strict theory to put vowel signs in contractions, it would be acceptable to insert the dash vowel in "knowledgeable" if felt necessary

For the most part, each stall specialises in one category, such as cheese, speciality* meats and game, poultry, fish, oysters, olives, fruit, preserves, bakery and patisserie goods, wines and beers, coffee, tea, fruit juices and smoothies, cider, farm and dairy products, ice cream, chocolate, honey, spices, and many organic and “free from” items. It is truly* a gastronomic delight for the gourmand, epicure and foodie to get stuck into. There was an apple and cider tasting* event, lots* of local apple varieties on show and an information display, all to encourage us to take an interest in the different varieties, especially home grown ones. I need no encouragement really as I have over the years stocked my garden with small apple trees as far as space allows. I know they are pesticide free and, I am pleased to say, also mostly* pest free.

* Omission phrase "for the mos(t) part"

* "speciality" Ensure to put in the diphone, which here is placed before the Ish stroke as there is no room after. This is pronounced "speshi-A-lity" with the emphasis on the A. The alternative word and pronunciation "specialty" has no diphone and has the emphasis on the first syllable. Accented vowels can be indicated if necessary by placing a small cross against the vowel sign.

* "truly" and "utterly" Helpful to insert vowels in these as they are similar in outline and meaning

* "tasting" Insert the vowel, clearly thick, so it is not misread as "testing"

* "lots" and "masses" Always insert the vowel

* "mostly" Omits the lightly-sounded T

This was the ideal location for the October Plenty celebration. The procession consisted of folks dressed in historical costumes, the acting troupe who would be entertaining us later, musicians, the local Mayor, the Corn Queene* made entirely of wheat stalks, with fruit and vegetables for the detail, and lastly the Morris Dancers. We watched the procession go from outside the new Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the river front, and then, cutting through the back streets, we saw them again as they entered Borough Market*.

* "Queene" The organisers have spelled it thus as a mock-ancient spelling

* "Borough Market" It is prudent to always write a place name in full the first time it is mentioned, and then subsequently use a shorter version if available

The Mayor addressed the audience who were sitting around on straw bales, with a special mention of the atrocity that happened here a few months ago, and an exhortation* to prove that we will not be intimidated by those with such intents, and to enjoy the occasion. We then watched the Cautionary Tales, played out by the Fabularium actors on a small stage, dressed as various animals, getting into all sorts of trouble. I especially enjoyed the rather selfish and ill-behaved* Red Riding Hood, portrayed with a grotesque mask that suited her spoiled brat demeanour exactly. Mr Fox had eaten their leg of ham, and the left-over bone by his side led the other characters to believe that he had eaten Grandma. Grandma then turned up, with relief all round, but Mr Fox was blamed for the whole mix-up. The brattish* ugliness of the family made me feel somewhat sorry for Mr Fox, until I remembered that he had stolen the ham in the first place*.

* "exhortation" Silent H

* "ill-behaved" Helpful to insert the vowel in "ill" to prevent misreading as "well-behaved"

* "brattish" Keep clearly above the line, to prevent misreading as "brutish". Note that "British" uses halving and downward Ish, as a special outline.

* Omission phrase "first p(l)ace", similarly "second place" "third place"

Afterwards we wandered back to the riverside and with the chilly wind blowing off* the river I was reminded of the origins of this type of festival. Our distant ancestors had no supermarkets, freezers, canning operations or overseas imports of foods, to see them through the dead months of winter. Fruit can be stored for a time, if in good condition, or made into preserves, and root vegetables can be stored in soil clamps. Meat can be salted, fish smoked, milk made into cheese, and no doubt many other methods now long forgotten.

* "off" It is generally helpful to insert the vowel in "off" to distinguish from "for" but here useful to prevent misreading as "blowing over the river"

It is quite difficult for us to get into that frame of mind*, where everything must be* produced locally and then stored up for many months to come, with failure to do so resulting in starvation. However, we are still actually doing this in one small way, although not through necessity. This is normal Christmas behaviour, stowing away the food and treats, so that we can play at having our own little winter siege, when we are self-contained, self-sufficient and self-satisfied with our over-endowed store cupboards. October plenty reappears as December plenty, a time to stop work for a while, and appreciate and consume all the goodies that we have worked for and can now enjoy in a more leisurely way, at least* for a few days. (759 words)

* Omission phrases "frame (of) mind" "mus(t) be"

* "At least" and "at last" Always insert the vowels