life's inessentials

The tongue-scraper
"The notion of a tongue-scraper may sound a little odd," reads a punter's testimonial in the catalogue. Hmm. Perhaps the adjective that Austin M. from Santa Rosa, USA, couldn't quite call to mind was "medieval". Maybe Austin is hinting at the tongue-scraper's obviously occult origins: "It's really amazing (disgusting, actually) to see what comes off a `clean tongue'." Awesome and yet repellent visions conjured from otherwise unremarkable organs? Any self-respecting soothsayer out and about without the 14th-century divining must-have, the tongue-scraper, would have seen his credibility evaporate quicker than chicken's blood.

The art of foretelling the future doesn't seem to have survived the centuries as well as the tongue-scraper - Austin's parting prophecy isn't exactly Delphic in its poeticism: "Also, I belong to a wine-tasting group and having a clean palate is quite important."

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