Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Winter's Coming

I love the smell of chestnuts roasting. I love the sparks that fly, dangerously, off the miniature furnaces. I think, in particular, of the man opposite Charing Cross Station near to Maggi Hambling's memorial to Oscar Wilde. I don't know if it is the same man every year but there is always someone there. Roasting chestnuts tell me winter is coming. Strangely, I have never bought any. Perhaps I might not like them and the experience will shatter my carefully-created winter scene.

Time changes: some London scenes do not (as I discovered today).

In the old days one of the surest signs of winter in London was straw in the 'buses; but there is not much of it now. The chestnut roasters, however, remain: still as certain harbingers of the winter as the swallows are of the summer. At the street corners you see their merry little furnaces glowing through the peep-holes, and if you will, and are not ashamed, you may fill your pockets with two-pennyworth, and thus, at a ridiculously small expenditure, provide yourself with food and hand-warmers in one.
E. V. Lucas. The Wanderer in London. September 1906.

6 comments:

Rehan Qayoom said...

Always brings back memories of going to see the lights (as a child) in Oxford Street with my uncle, probably the first time we had roasted chestnuts and I've never stopped loving them since. Winter is my favourite time of year. Unfortunately we don't get any snow this side of London because we've polluted our air so much with shit that even though our ground temperature maybe -6 it only rains because the atmosphere is not cold enough, or we get sleet at most.

Red said...

Ems, you must buy roasted chestnuts because A) You're a woman of good taste, and you will certainly like them (they are delicious!); B) even if you don't, they're better than gloves in freezing weather. Just cradle that tiny wrapper in your hands... ah, I feel like I'm thawing as I type...

Regarding Ooze... As I commented at City Slicker, the slogan alone is enough to make me want to avoid them. Slow food ought to be cooked slowly, and I for one would gladly wait 40 minutes or however long it takes to be served a good, freshly stirred risotto. Having said that, I think I'll have to try it. I even ate at Pollo's... how much worse can it be?

City Slicker said...

But don't chestnuts remind you of Christmas, and it's still too early for that. Please say it is too early ?!

bighouselittleman said...

just landed here from city slicker blog

chestnuts are back and they are big

* (asterisk) said...

Oh, but how much does that little street up past Oscar Wilde stink of urine?! I used to hate walking up there of an evening, or lunchtime, or morning.

Ham said...

Try to make sure that you get freshly roasted ones, not the shriveled and dried versions. Mind you, isn't that a recipe for life?