Late season, I always try to take in a day of county cricket with my old friend, Charley “The Gent” Malloy. It helps us both to prepare for the inevitable winter withdrawal symptoms to come. The cricket season starts earlier and ends later each year, yet it seems to fly by faster than ever, in the batting of an eyelid. Where do the months go?
In order to investigate this temporal phenomenon, which I shall paraphrase as ‘in search of lost time,’ I decided to add a large packet of madeleines to the picnic. I had bought a large pack of shop madeleines for day two of the Sri Lanka Test, but the combination of The Lord’s Throdkin and other delicacies had rendered them unnecessary that day. Each time I looked at the packet subsequently, I wondered about shop madeleines with at least three months on the best before date and decided to leave them for another day. But that September expiration date was fast approaching. Besides, as any fool knows, when in search of lost time, what you need more than anything else is madeleines.
Charley and I spent the morning session in the pavilion, where we met a delightful chap, originally from Halifax, who lived in Sussex but preferred the delights of Lord’s to those of Hove. He spent most of the time on his gadget looking at the Yorkshire score when he wasn’t talking to us.
Both Charley and I were suffering under the inevitable back strain arising from the traditional pavilion benches, as explained in match reports passim. On this occasion, Charley had done his back gardening (side strain) while I had done my neck by falling face-first on the macadam while playing tennis with Daisy a few week’s previously. We both agreed that the relative comfort and sunshine of the Mound Stand would please us more, as soon as lunch was called.
Once comfortable in The Mound, we tucked in to one of my traditional picnics. An especially good smoked salmon sandwich (Scottish, not Alaskan, although we debated whether the next batch of Scottish salmon would be a foreign import if the referendum next week were to go “yes”). A fine bottle of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc. Some fresh fruit. A delightful prosciutto sandwich, which went well with the last of the wine.
Then, finally, the madeleines. No sooner had the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?
And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings nanny would hand me, after dressing me in my little sailor suit, when I went to say good morning to mama in her boudoir.
“Are you getting involuntary memory from these?” I asked.
“Yup,” said Charley. “I can recall the rare occasions in that grim North-Eastern mining town, when mum would put a small pile of cakes on the table and the whole family would fight like wildcats in the hope that a few crumbs might touch yer palate.”
“Hmm”, I said. “I think we might both be getting false memory rather than involuntary memory from these shop madeleines. Must be the lack of lemon zest. Still, they’re surprisingly good. I’ll have another.”
“Me too”, said Charley.
Indeed, we ate three or four each and Charley took the remainder home to share with his wife and bairns. Bless.
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