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Javoll sind wir noch ein und auch gedoppelt

June 2003
Our periodic trips to Westminster for meetings began last November when the leaves had long since left the trees and I was intrigued to find that in a public garden just off Horseferry Road there were some ginkgo biloba trees. These trees are associated with the name of Goethe, I think he had one or more in his garden in Weimar and he wrote a romantic poem associating his love for an 18th century muscular German matron with the double leaves of the ginkgo. As one we are doppelt, it ends, or words to that effect. Romantically-inclined Germans go all soppy over it, or did, I’m not sure they do still, though they might. You can also make an infusion from the leaves of the ginkgo that is said to ease muscular tension when consumed. Never tried it myself though will do when chance pertains.
Anyhow, during the winter, we were unable to identify which of the trees in this charming London public square was the ginkgo because they were all bare of leaves. But now, in the sunshine, we can see them shining out and so pay homage to the great man. There we were, Hilary and I, in our suits and carrying our laptop cases, saying: ‘ooo look, there it is, javoll sind wir noch ein und auch gedoppelt’, while the scantily-dressed office girls sat on the grass, wondering what the bloody hell these idiots were finding so interesting to point at. Then we got the number 88 bus to the next meeting.
Much as we were tempted, we did not have the courage to steal some leaves from said tree to make an experimental infusion, though might manage it one day, when fewer scantily-dressed girls are sitting on the grass pretending to eat their tuna and mayonnaise sandwiches, eyeing us so critically.
Have you noticed the change in office workers’ sandwiches over the years? Increasingly, they have become full of a whitish sloppy substance, to replace the smooth but not sloppy pink ham and fish paste of yore. We get these slop-filled sandwiches whenever a meeting we attend has sandwiches laid on. I find them not too bad but a bit overfull of ingredients that all taste pretty much as one. I’m not sure if I closed my eyes whether I could say if I was eating avocado, prawn and mayonnaise, or chicken tikka massala. Some of them have a bit of dried-up bacon in which acts as a variation on the texture, which can be a nice change. But every day? One must eventually turn into an homogenous white slop, based upon the theory that what you are is determined by what you eat. They’re popular though, so perhaps it’s me that’s out of line with what goes on in the world. White slop rules, OK. OK?
More on St. John’s Gardens in Westminster on my Ginkgo Biloba in London page.
More comments on the social history of office workers’ lunches on my Slop-Squelched Sandwiches page.


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