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Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?

(François Villon, Ballade des dames du temps jadis)

I’ve had some coffee for breakfast this morning. Takes the edge off the hangover and stops me trembling. For me, making coffee is a ritual. I have various machines to help me.

I think drip machines are a disgrace. You can never get the full flavour of the coffee from drips of water.

For long coffee, the French press method where you apply quite a lot of pressure draining almost all of the coffee’s flavour is my favourite way. Just press slowly.

For short coffee, Greek/Turkish/Lebanese coffee cannot be matched. The way to do it is to purchase double (even triple) roasted strong coffee and have it ground to a powder thin consistency. Most home coffee mills cannot grind this finely. Then you put 1½ teaspoons of coffee and 1 espresso cup of water, and sugar, according to taste, into the coffee pot. Leave that on very low heat constantly stirring it in the process. When the coffee is about to boil raise the pot away from the heat, pour the foam on top into the coffee cup. Repeat that process again, and finally pour the rest of the coffee and enjoy.

For full enjoyment you may need a cigarette with your coffee. I find it gets the bowels moving. Helena Bonham Carter taught me that.


I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all … I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye.

Sally said I was a sacrilegious atheist. I probably am. The thing Jesus really would’ve liked would be the guy that plays the kettle drums in the orchestra.

(J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye)

I read The Catcher in the Rye thirty years ago and thought it dull and badly written. A couple of years ago I read it again; I still thought it dull and badly written. Anyway, sorry to hear the old bastard’s dead. He had a better life than most of us, I suspect. Screwing 18-year-old girls, drinking his own piss, and so on.

Before his death, J.D. Salinger’s publisher, Hamish Hamilton, worked with him to produce jackets for reissues of his books (originally planned for June, they are now due out next month).

Simon Prosser, publishing director, Hamish Hamilton: “There are strict rules about J.D. Salinger’s covers. The only copy allowed on the books, back or front, is the author name and the title. Nothing else at all: no quotes, no cover blurb, no biography. We’re not really sure why this is, but it gives you definite guidelines. Last year we decided it was probably time to re-design the covers, and we wanted a unique typeface that stood out. We commissioned Seb Lester, the highly regarded type designer, to hand-draw a font; that font, on the cover of these re-issues, is a one-off and is known in-house here at Hamish Hamilton as the ‘Salinger’.”

The obituary in the Guardian is by Mark Krupnick, who died in 2003. I wonder who wrote his obituary?

R.I.P. Jerome David Salinger, born 1 January 1919; died 27 January 2010


Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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