Come along, children! It's time to get out and about again in the English countryside, and to see what nature is up to in. Or perhaps not nature so much, as Uncle Geoffrey and his two favourite young relatives, nephew Robert and niece Susan, who have been roaming the lanes of Middle England this very weekend, anxious to spot the life beneath the autumn mould ...
* * *
"Life beneath the mould," said Uncle Geoffrey, reflectively, repeating a phrase that had come into his mind from, apparently, nowhere. "That's an evocative phrase."
"Of what?" said Susan.
"Of decay," said Robert. "Of rotting leaves."
"Of compost heaps, doing their best to deal with tea bags, and failing," said Susan.
"Well, I was thinking of cheese actually," said Uncle Geoffrey. "A dozen years ago or more, maybe a score even, they decided to create a new British national soft blue cheese, and after a long period of competition looking for a name for it, they came up with 'Lymeswold'."
"Lymeswold?" queried Susan.
"Lymeswold!" exclaimed Robert.
"Yes, Lymeswold," confirmed Uncle Geoffrey. "It's a smelly name, isn't it? Makes you think of lime pits and mould. But that wasn't the idea. The idea was to come up with a very English name, a name redolent of the old countryside, of thatch and cider. At last the English have got a soft blue cheese of their own to go international with! That was the message."
"And was it any good?" said Robert.
"I don't think it was outstanding," said Uncle Geoffrey. "I think it was quite unassuming. It was bland and mildly tasty, in the manner of soft blue cheeses the world over. But they don't make it any more, which suggests that they hadn't got a world-beater."
"Our mother quite likes soft blue cheeses," said Susan, "but she usually goes for something called Cambozola. It's quite nice."
"I may well be wrong here," said Uncle Geoffrey, "but I think that Cambozola is actually a German-made cheese."
"German!" said Susan.
"With a name like Cambozola?" said Robert. "A sort of mixture of Camembert and Gorgonzola?"
"Half French and half Italian?" said Susan. "And you think it sounds German?"
"I never said it sounded German," said Uncle Geoffrey. "I think the Germans are too clever for that. When the British tried to think of a name for an English soft blue cheese we came up with something oh-so-English, something so heritage and touristy, and cheesy. The Germans did not make the same mistake. They did not call it 'Beckenberger' or 'Ullental' – they went for a name in which there was no trace of Teutonic origins. It's not as if the Germans are world-famous for their cheese. So why stress the origin with a German name?"
"I remember being on holiday in France with the family once," said Susan," and Mother wanted to buy some Parmesan cheese to grate over a dish she was making. But the epicier at the local food shop said he had never heard of it. 'But it's a famous Italian cheese,' she said. 'Why do you want to go buying an Italian cheese? What's it for?' he asked? 'It's for grating,' she said. 'Oh, if you want a grating cheese, what you want is so-and-so,' he said, and he named a French cheese. And it was then she realised that on the Continent people don't buy cheeses from other countries. They've already got all the cheeses they need at home. Same goes for wine and beer and cars and bread and almost everything. It's only the British who go cherry-picking and get Parmesan and ciabatta and German lager and French terrine."
Miles Kington writes: I would like to issue an apology. What I had hoped was going to be an informative discursion on English nature in the countryside has taken an ugly turn into a discussion of cheese marketing. If Uncle Geoffrey, Robert and Susan do not come up trumps tomorrow, I will have to reconsider their position.Reuse content