Favourite Things

The calendar yielded an old favourite today -one that, to judge from the website when we went to crib information for you, was brought back specially for the calendar. It’s called Glitter and Gold, and it’s a black tea laced with cinnamon and all sorts. That’s no description, coming from a self-professed tea-lover, but we did the research. It yielded no good result. Suffice it to say we’ve been drinking this tea for years without thinking about the contents much. It’s a Chinese tea, which, Julian Mallory of Excellent Women assures us is ‘always such a treat.’ To us it tastes of Christmas -the cloves, we presume.

Proving we can sometimes be reasonable, here’s an old favourite poem to go hand-in-hand with a favourite tea. It comes from Gaudy Night, and we have a sort of inkling we may have used it on here before. But we love it. ‘Conceited little thing’ -Peter meant in the Donne sense, we think -or not, it’s the poem we turn to when we want to still the world for a spell. (The joys of the boating scene, you understand, we savour for rereads only.) Between the giddy whirl that was yesterday, and the busy, half-mad bustle that is Advent as ordained by the claims of the world, we offer you this bit of literary respite.

That Still Centre

Dorothy Sayers, as found in Gaudy Night
Here, then, at home, by no more storms distrest,
Folding laborious hands we sit, wings furled;
Here in close perfume lies the rose-leaf curled,
Here the sun stands and knows not east nor west,
Here no tide runs; we have come, last and best,
From the wide zone through dizzying circles hurled,
To that still centre where the spinning world
Sleeps on its axis, to the heart of rest.

Lay on thy whips, O Love, that we upright,
Poised on the perilous point, in no lax bed
May sleep, as tension at the verberant core
Of music sleeps; for, if thou spare to smite,
Staggering, we stoop, stooping, fall dumb and dead,
And, dying, so, sleep our sweet sleep no more.

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Returning to Sayers

This week the Dachshunds of Dawlish join us in finally getting to grips with Busman’s Honeymoon. We here confess to having never read it before, though there’s no good reason why we should not have, considering our love of Dorothy Sayers. Our hardback folios make for awkward travelling companions, is at least part of the trouble. Equally though, the ending of Gaudy Night has always felt so balanced and resolved that we’ve never read further. (That’s not strictly true either; two years ago, we picked up Thrones, Dominations but though we liked it, we never know how much to count it.)

If you’ve never tried it, reading with Dachshunds is not to be undertaken lightly. In fact, we find these reading companions exhausting. They want to run around at a great speed, and we need quiet to read.  If we do settle them, we are then pinned to the chair while they sleep —we are of course, the human pillow in this instance. There hasn’t been much sleeping on their part though, because we’re still only 30 pages in and it’s Wednesday.

What we’re really doing, we’ve decided, is savouring this particular Sayers. We love Harriet’s company, and are reluctant to give it up completely. Once the whirl of the holidays is over we suppose we’ll read it in earnest in spite of the Dachshunds, because after so much people-time we’ll need the excursion to Talboys like a good cup of tea. Then, well then I think we’ll be about due a return to that boating scene on the Cherwell, because it’s been ages since we read it in context and anyway, we meant it about not wanting to give these characters up.