... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Friday, June 17, 2011

321: Bloom

Leopold Bloom, by James Joyce
Happy Bloomsday. Today is 16th June, the day in 1904 the action took place in James Joyce's epic Ulysses. A guy or two wander around Dublin; eats a kidney, teases the cat, has a shit, thinks about tits, does some latin, history, puns, wordplay, fuck, cunt, I've made it to about page 200. Another 532 pages to go until the final 22-page sentence. I've tried to read it a couple of times, and it doesn't seem as impossible as people like to make out; it's just so long. At least it has a narrative, characters, location, plot; unlike Joyce's later work Finnegans Wake. Someone once told me Finnegans Wake was their favourite book. It is impossible to think highly of the kind of mind who would claim that. Anyway today is about Ulysses; celebrate good times.
Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liver slices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.

Along the way, out to buy his breakfast offal, his mind changes to pork kidneys however we stuck with lamb due to my housemate (a fellow Joyce-curious offal-eater) being a muslim. I'm sure Mr Leopold Bloom would have eaten with relish the spicey dish we concocted, served with chicken and lamb sausages and champ with lots of butter. It was the best meal I have had in weeks. While Mr Leopold Bloom wanders to the butchers his inner monologue wanders further afield and takes us to a place where:

Turbaned faces go by. Dark caves of carpet shops, big man, Turko the terrible, seated crosslegged smoking a coiled pipe. Cries of sellers in the streets. Drink water scented with fennel, sherbet. Wander along all day. Might meet a robber or two. Well, meet him. Getting on to sundown. The shadows of the mosques along the pillars : priest with a scroll rolled up. A shiver of trees, signal, the evening wind. I pass on. Fading gold sky. A mother watches from her doorway. She calls the children home in their dark language. High wall: beyond strings twanged. Night sky moon, violet, colour of Molly's new garters. Strings. Listen. A girl playing one of those instruments what do you call them : dulcimers. I pass.

Whereas we, one hundred years later, can stroll around the corner to cheaply purchase delightful food and drink from across the world : hallal from the butchers and the Asian grocers ; haraam from the Polski Sklep and Bottle Top. A four pack of Guinness still not three quarters down, the last pissfilters in the shop – chopped, soaked, fried and flavoured – served in a rich creamy sauce of spices, peppers and onions. The champ of champions made by lovely Irish hands. Sweetcorn decanted from the tin and microwaved in butter. The unbalance of expectation caused in chicken sausages and reactions range from delighted to disappointed.

He fitted the book roughly into his inner pocket and, stubbing his toes against the broken commode, hurried out towards the smell, stepping hastily down the stairs with a flurried stork's legs. Pungent smoke shot up in an angry jet from a side of the pan. By prodding a prong of the fork under the kidney he detatched it and turned it turtle on its back. Only a little burned. He tossed it off the pan on to a plate and let the scanty brown gravy trickle over it.

I stubbed my toe, my tiny little dweeziltoe – the one with the two seperate nails, permastained a yellow pang – my teeny little leftytoe as I ran to the kitchen with food excitement in my eyes. I fell to the floor in painful-beyond-pain unable to communicate the sudden shatter : I need a slipper on each foot, but where in the boxes are they. The toe forgets itself and conversation turns to oysters, yellowman, Dublin and all. Plates are refilled again and again, but stomaches only get fuller. A bowl of leftovers remains for flouring and frying for wellstocked mornfeast. Bloomsday closes.


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