I have often before noticed the phenomenon that after you come across a new word, you then find you hear it more often than you would expect.  The conclusion can only be that it’s about as prevalent as it always was, but you notice it because you are now aware of it.

In the USA in July, I had something I’d never eaten before, something which is very common in the States but which I have never, ever seen on any menu in England.  Grits.  Actually ‘cheese grits’.  A sort of mushy stuff made out of ground corn, or something, which is served with breakfast.  I enjoyed them, but couldn’t finish the whole bowl.

Since my return, I can’t believe how often references to grits have come up in books or newspapers or on TV.  They’ve been referred to several times on US shows and cartoons, it seems amazing.  In the past the word must have gone in one ear and out the other.

Similarly ‘corn dogs’.  I’ve never had one of these before but really enjoyed eating one in Kentucky.  A frankfurter sausage on a stick with generous, slightly sweet batter, something like yorkshire pudding mix but crispy on the outside.  So far two references to corn dogs noted since my return!

Well, grits I can leave, but I’d love to eat another corn dog!  Wonder if I can source one in London somewhere?

(The second picture is fried chicken with sweet waffles and syrup.)


Me and Plato


I’m always struggling with food issues and a few years ago came up with this idea of two horses in a chariot pulling in different directions – please see my poem The Compromise Chariot.

Like there’s one horse that wants to go on the correct, sensible route, but the other is out of control and pulls off in a different direction.  I am the charioteer who has to control them both and achieve some sort of compromise between their needs.

Now I’ve been sorting out books and by chance the other day came across the following regarding the philosopher Plato (429 – 347 BC), in a book called ‘A Classical Education – The stuff you wish you’d been taught at school’ by Caroline Taggart.

 “Plato … considered humans as … beings in whom reason was always fighting to control desire and emotion (he uses the image of the charioteer – reason – struggling to control two horses, one of whom – emotion – will listen to reason while the other – desire – can be restrained only by force.)”

I was amazed by this.  I absolutely swear I wasn’t aware of it and hadn’t ever come across it before.  So I am now rather stunned and proud of myself – because I have independently come up with the same (or a similar) metaphor to a famous philosopher, writing two and a half thousand years ago!  Okay, perhaps it’s rather an obvious idea for a metaphor and I’m sure lots of other people have thought of it too.

But now I feel like there’s a connection between Plato and me!  (I’ll have to look him up – I’m afraid I didn’t get a classical education.)