11st 9lb (time to go up to super-middleweight?); alcohol units 0 (no booze since September 2010); Jamaican Woodbines 6 (early onset of psychosis, give up for Chinese New Year?); calories (not counting this week).
In an effort to get to grips with the culture of the Southern states of America, I have been scouring antique book shops for learned tomes on the history of the region. "The South", by Ina Woestemeyer Van Noppen, I found on a dusty bookshelf at Kudzu Antique Market in the nearby city of Decatur. It is a documentary study of "the Old South" from 1528 to "the New South" of 1958. Some of the language in the book has since been expelled from use.
"Everywhere in the South the possession of a certain degree of Negro blood relegates a person to a lower caste from which there is no escape this side of the Pearly Gates". And there are some interesting observations about the make-up of the Caucasian Southerner. "The maintenance of white supremacy over the Negroes is the essence of Southernism; abolish it and much of the regional consciousness would cease to exist".
Southern cooking is mentioned, too. "Outsiders complain that Southern dishes are overcooked, over greasy, and over juicy. But their absence in strange places is among the potent reasons why Southerners wish to return home." The author goes on to wax lyrical about hot biscuits "that bind the Southern province together with an authority almost as intimate as White Supremacy," corn bread, fried chicken, the endless varieties of pork -- spare ribs, backbone, fresh ham, boiled, baked or fired country-cured ham. Not to forget the veg. There's string beans, black-eyed peas, collards and "the potlikker left in the vegetable container which is reputed to have nutritive value, especially for pickaninnies." Political incorrectness galore. And I had not even made it past the introduction by Francis B. Simkins.
Alone with Cat
One of the bugbears of being a Trailing Spouse is the absence of the other half. This coming week, the Contessa, my long-suffering wife, is overseas on business, and I am left alone with the cat. Most males, especially ones in the modern age, would use this time to catch up on porn and boozing. I am a bit of a prude about "porn" (a much contested term of definition) and I gave up drinking in 2010 when I turned 40 (not a reverse mid-life crisis, I hasten to add). And so it's back to winter reading in the capital of the New South.
My old 1990 edition of A Dictionary of Political Thought