Saturday, April 4, 2009

The not-so-good and not-so-great, number 10

It's been fully a month since Malcolm's last entry in this occasional series. He confesses that he found Tuscany too engrossing to take time out (decoded: too bibulous). Another reason is that, in logical sequence, he should now have reached "Blueshirt": a topic which needs a lot of temperate thought. Or intemperate vituperation.

Instead, today he offers a reflection on ...

Here we have some ambiguity.

Once upon a time, no respectable Irish gent, out of town, was seen without his blackthorn walking stick. It was an all-purpose instrument: it herded cattle; it suppressed weeds; it could be used as a pointer to guide tourists; gun-dogs happily carried it in lieu of game; it opened gates; it frightened off trespassers; it aided the stagger home after a good evening; it went well with any outfit: all-in-all it was an essential piece of equipment.

However, that was not its most terrifying signification.

Malcolm was reminded of this second meaning from yesterday's Guardian:
The apples of anger are being gathered in across the West Country, where one of England's best-known cider manufacturers stands accused of that most terrible of rural transgressions: pandering to London folk.

The bitter harvest began after the Gaymer cider company, makers of Blackthorn cider, decided to alter the recipe for their famously dry scrumpy. To the horror of devotees, they have sweetened the drink, lowered its alcohol content from 5% to 4.7%, and made it "slightly mellower".
One or twice, in extremis, Malcolm may have imbibed of this stuff. The best he can say of the experience is that, at least, Blackthorn was not sweet cider. It is local (from Shepton Mallet) and ought to have been protected with a formal appellation, like wines, cheeses or Melton Mowbray pork pies.

Clearly, Blackthorn cider has no place in this series of Irish curiosities.

So, to the real stuff.

At peril of one's sanity, health and hope of eternal glory, one should never, ever, ask for a "blackthorn" in an Irish-American bar. Particularly one which ever was frequented by the rock-music critic, Lester Bangs (top right). If Bangs was a "gonzo" journalist, Picasso was merely a dauber.

A "blackthorn" is -- settle for nothing less -- Black Bush whiskey, dry vermouth, Pernod, and a shot of Angostura bitters.

Pass the sick-bag, Alice. Quick! Sphere: Related Content

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