Saturday, 10 May 2008

Of cabbages and kings

We need a basket of oysters; a knife to open them and something to drink - champagne, white wine, Guinness, stout or ale or whatever we have to hand. Milk, maybe, if you are teetotal.

And we will open the oysters up slowly, one at a time, leave them on the table for a while to let their precious juices ooze, and then, only then, pass them round and talk…of cabbages and kings perhaps. What the Irish still call the craic.

This room might be anywhere. It could be a tenement in Glasgow; at Skara Brae neolithic village in the Orkneys, pictured, a smugglers pub in Orford; a log cabin beside the Chesapeake; a honky tonk at Crisfield; a tent in the San Francisco gold rush; a beach bar in Sydney; a pavilion at Surat Thani; a kaiseki room in Hiroshima; a palace in Versailles. No matter, so long as it is small and intimate. It will be fit for purpose.

It might be yesterday. It might be 100 years ago. It might be 1000 years ago – or more right back, if you like, to a Neolithic hut. Time and place are immaterial. The oyster is universal and invariably has been mankind’s companion.

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