The forty days are upon us, and yesterday I indulged my nephew by flipping a few comestibles of a recipe traditionally developed to use up all the ingredients not permitted during the fast, and for which I therefore had to make a specific trip to the Co-op, as is right and proper and thoughtlessly patriotic (what other type is there?).
But word has reached my ears that some of you – some of the English contingent1 – have been treacherously applying maple syrup to their pancakes. This cannot stand. Pancake Day may be a lousy, lacklustre tradition, an orgy of the kind of substitution of stodge for gustatory sophistication that rightfully got English cooking a bad name, but it’s our lousy tradition, it’s what we do to start Lent, and if you can’t do it properly then you might as well, I dunno, drink cachaça and dance in the streets for four days. Maple syrup! I ask you! They have a maple leaf on the Canadian flag, a country where it is legally permitted to speak French, for crying out loud. The only acceptable thing to put on your pancakes is Golden Syrup. That’s proper Englishness. Good Queen Bess herself still visits each and every vat they brew2 of the stuff where she ceremoniously gobs on her finger, sticks it in and wiggles it around a bit, and duly proclaims, “There. Now that’s one’s. All fucking one’s,” before hopping onto a unicorn and riding off to take high tea with St. George, or whatever else it is she does to Keep Our Country Great, Gawd bless ’er. [Wipes away a moist, dewy tear.] Maple syrup indeed! Light up a Gauloises and grate some garlic onto them, why don’t you, Jacques? Bof!
So yes, the forty days are upon us. For Lent this year I shall be giving up precisely nothing. This is because God doesn’t exist,3 there’ll be enough dust when I die, so I don’t see why I should spend a month of the brief interregnum shovelling yet more of it into my craw.
1 This really whittles it down. My readership numbers are hardly such as would challenge Cantor, and a significant proportion of those seem to be non-Brits, presumably with a scholarly interest in sarcasm, gratuitous intellectual name-checking (cf. supra, bitterly), or dated tubbish anecdotalism.
2 Infuse? Congeal? Irradiate?
3 Sorry if the last five hundred years passed you by and you had yet to realise this.