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The Scrivener: Premature Evacuation

By way of pastry brushes, a crumb-littered computer keyboard and face-down toast, Brian Barratt arrives at that uncomfortable subject, premature evacuation.

Brian assures us that the two signs/advertisements which he quotes are indeed genuine. However, this delicious Scrivener column should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt – or maybe a spread of salty Marmite.

For lots more brain-challenging fun visit Brian's Web site, The Brain Rummager www.alphalink.com.au/~umbidas/

If one may indulge, for a change, in the perpendicular pronoun, I confess that I bought my first pastry brush only a couple of years ago.

Over the years, I’ve cooked Chicken Marengo, Lentil Kedgeree, Strawberries Romanoff, Steak Chateaubriand, Lamb Tasting Like Venison (which gave us all the trots because the secret ingredient was juniper berries), Curried Tinned Pilchards, and many other culinary masterpieces. But I never made pastry. Too difficult. That’s why I didn’t need a pastry brush.
In this technological era, some of us have a new problem — it’s unwise to eat toast and Vegemite while operating a computer. Crumbs fall into the little gaps in the keyboard. They’re the very devil to extract.

The solution is to use a pastry brush. Two of them, actually. A large one and a little one for those hard-to-get-at gaps.
Toast and Vegemite — or Marmite for people who like high salt content — is also a risky item in the kitchen. One little nudge, and a slice can fall onto the floor. As you know, and whatever the wonderful television ‘Mythbusters’ say, it always lands face down. That is, the sticky side absorbs mouldy crumbs, last week’s floor-dust, and last month’s deceased flies.

No amount of work with a pastry brush can clean that lot off. But I discovered that there might be a remedy. A local butcher has a sign in the window: ‘Vacuumed Meats For Campers And Travellers’. So I tried vacuuming my piece of toast. No go. The whole lot went down the tube. That butcher must have a special vacuum cleaner designed for use on delicate comestibles.

There are other remedies. You can, for instance, use a knife to scrape off the sticky layer and its embedded detritus. That works reasonably well on Vegemite, but is hopeless with marmalade, which has a way of insinuating itself deep into all the little holes in toasted bread. Those holes are far smaller than the holes on a computer keyboard. A pastry brush won’t work, but you can try a toothbrush.

That’s fine. You rush to the bathroom, grab your toothbrush, and scrape the toast clean. And the next morning you forget all about that incident and clean your teeth with a mixture of Colgate’s ring of confidence and disembodied portions of desiccated flies.

Scraping and vacuuming at home are obviously not the real solutions to this problem. What we need is a complete evacuation strategy for the toast.

And this is where mobile phones come into the picture. I saw an ad. on telly, just last week, for one of those despicable devices. It has all sorts of extras such as texting and television, built in. There was the usual announcement in large print that it costs $0, and the usual extremely small print at the bottom of the screen, telling you that it actually costs about $1,800. Surely they should ban that sort of advertising? But it was another line which caught my eye.

‘Premature Evacuation Fee $200.’

Good gracious! For a moment, I wondered if this was a misprint for some sort of therapy for gentlemen who have a problem with, well, you know, we don’t talk about it in public.
Apart from that, I’m not at all sure that my dropped toast needs ‘premature’ evacuation. That would mean cleaning it up prior to dropping it. As the drop is not only spontaneous but also unpredictable, that is not feasible.

OK, I could wash the kitchen floor. What a good idea. But how do I cope when the toast accidentally slides off my plate and onto the dining room carpet? It’s fluff-time again.
A fast-food chain is currently advertising... wait for it... a piece of toast. However, the piece of toast which the little boy takes to his father is plain and dry. It has nothing spread on it. Not for me.

No, I think I’ll have another go at scraping off mouldy crumbs, last week’s floor-dust and last month’s deceased flies. Well, I mean, if I don’t take that precaution I’ll be dashing to the loo with another kind of premature evacuation, won’t I?

© Copyright 2006 Brian Barratt


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