Friday, April 18, 2008

cream cake and Elvis

From: Linda (

Recently I wrote to you sharing my anticipation of finally receiving my pre-ordered copy of Always.

I also commented that much like my nephew not wanting to "use up" his new and very expensive athletic shoes by not wearing them, I wanted to savor once again entering Aud's world. I also do not want to use up the experience too quickly.

I have been reading Always since I picked it up from the bookstore three days ago. I am almost to the end and had to put it down. I have saved a bit, like the last swallow of a good wine or a remaining sliver of Italian cream cake.

I know you'll "make more," but for now I am going to wait until I am quietly hunkered down in my bed and enjoy every remaining chapter one delicious word at a time.

Applause, Applause, Nicola!

What is 'Italian cream cake'? English cream cake is basically a plain sponge cake (aka Victoria sponge) with plain whipped cream in the middle (occasionally accompanied by a smear of fruit compote, or jam, depending on the haute-ness of the cake) and dusted with icing sugar (aka confectioners' sugar).

When I was growing up, cream cakes were an occasional Saturday treat. On good days, Mum would splurge on one small cake to be divided among the whole family (two parents, five children). The pieces were not large. I savoured mine as long as humanly possible, squishing that luscious cream about in my mouth. Fast forward a few years to when I was sixteen and in love for the first time, with Una Fitzgerald. (Beautiful girl/woman: blue, blue Irish eyes, black, black hair. A hip-to-waist ratio that would put Salma Hyek to shame. And old-fashioned in many respects: loved Frank Sinatra, musicals, Elvis. I learnt to admire Frank, too; the others I grinned and bore because, well, if it made her happy, I got more kisses.) At school, Una and I had a lot of time together. (Some of it involving the inappropriate use of bathrooms, empty classrooms, the chaplain's office... See And Now We Are Going to Have a Party for racy details.) However, in the school holidays we couldn't get any time together: we were both from large Catholic families; someone was always around.

We agreed to spend a whole day together out somewhere, the seaside. We picked Scarborough. When the day came, I got up at the crack of dawn. I walked to the bus stop equidistant between her house and mine. I waited. And waited. I began to get frantic; Una was never late. I had awful images of her parents finding out about us and locking her in the cellar (they didn't have a cellar, but my imagination was a bit gothic--I don't react well to mornings). Then I finally spotted her in the distance: shoulders bowed, head hanging, steps small and uncertain. Oh dear god, what had happened? I ran to her. She was weeping. I held her. Eventually she told me: Elvis was dead.

I was stunned. Not that Elvis was dead--what did I care? I'd never met him--but that my day, my fucking special day with my first love, was going to be royally screwed because this, this velvet-clad git had died on a toilet. If he hadn't already been dead I would have killed him.

However (I realise this blog post is getting long), eventually I persuaded Una that a day out by the sea was the proper way to celebrate the life of her favourite singer (her favourite that day, tuh) and we got on the bus.

We wandered on the beach, went to the pub, went back to the beach, back to the pub.

So, we'd been drinking. We'd been in the fresh air. We were hormonal but couldn't have sex (crowded seaside town, for one thing; Una grieving--oh, I hate Elvis!--for another). So we sublimated one urge with another: we were hungry. We walked by a bakery. We stopped. We went in. We bought an entire cream cake. We then bought tickets to a carousel and sat on the bobbing painted horses and ate the entire cream cake. It was, of course, delicious. But I was bobbing up and down and going round and round and I'd been drinking...

It turns out that those tattooed men with missing teeth who run carousels don't like it when you throw up all over their ride.

Moral of the story: sex is better than cream cake, and Elvis sucks.

It turns out that I have bad luck with the timing of the death of musicians. When John Lennon died-- But, oof, this is already long enough. I'll save that story for another time.

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