A tale of two niggles

A tub of Lurpak spreadable margarine on the left, Clover on the right.

In our nearly seven years of marriage Jane and I have got on remarkably well. We’ve had very few major rows, always make sure that we make up and sort things out before we go to sleep, and I still love her dearly on this the 2,436th day after our wedding. But like all relationships there are still a few things that repeatedly niggle, that we haven’t yet resolved.

For us there are two. (Okay, it’s probably more like: for me there are two. !!)

Niggle #1

The pronouncation of the meat that comes from pigs. As you are probably aware here in English-speaking-land we tend to name the live animal after the Anglo-Saxon words, eg pig, sheep, cow, and when it’s dead we refer to its meat after the Anglo-Norman word, eg pork, mutton, beef. (I think that’s right; I can’t remember where I read that.)

Anyway, Jane pronounces “pork” as poe-rk. Pronounced something like the surname of that great writer of macabre tales and poetry, Edgar Allan Poe, but with “rk” at the end. Edgar Allan Poerk. Whereas I — and almost everyone that I know outside Jane’s family — pronounce it as paw-rk.

Q1. How do you pronounce “pork”?

Niggle #2

Niggle number two is a practical one: how to scrape the margarine from a tub.

My preferred method is to gently scrape across the top layer of the margarine, working my way down in a similar fashion to the way that an archaeologist might excavate a tub of Clover: working evenly across the full length and width of the tub, gradually working down towards the bottom of the tub. The only difference being that I’d probably get quite alarmed if I found any bones or Roman coins in my margarine, whereas an archaeologist wouldn’t.

Jane’s method, however, is to treat the tub of margarine more like an open-cast mine or quarry: she will start at one end of the tub and dig down to the base of the tub and then work her way gradually towards the other end of the tub. (See photographs above.)

Obviously — obviously! — this eventually renders the tub a little unstable as at about one-third full you now have much more margarine at one end of the tub, which weighs that end down. More than once I’ve taken the margarine out of the fridge only to immediately drop it on the floor as I’ve pulled out the light end, and as the heavy end has slid off the shelf it has pulled the whole tub out of my hand. “My” method, however, evenly distributes the weight across the full length of the margarine tub thereby making it much more stable.

The other inherent danger of Jane’s method is what I like to call Spreadable Fat Tub Interior Side Detachment Syndrome™, or SFTISDS. Which is where the whole block of margarine detatches itself from the side of the tub and ends up as a loose lump of pure yellow rattling around the inside of a plastic cuboid tub. It’s like carrying a small box with a hamster running around inside it. I would imagine.

You can clearly see the Clover tub on the right in the photograph above is currently suffering from a pronounced case of SFTISDS.

Q2. Are there any other techniques that we’re missing?

Mil Millington would be proud of me!

… and relax!

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Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

5 thoughts on “A tale of two niggles”

  1. I’m with you on both those counts Gareth.

    Is it a boys v girls thing?

    Q3. Does she destroy the contents of ice cream tubs in a similar fashion to the contents of margarine tubs?

  2. Q1. Like you.
    Q2. Errr… We kind of do the length-ways things like you say, but forget to do it on the outsides, creating a erm… margarine-sink.

  3. Also with you on both. Pork like `paw’+`k’.
    My only amendment to the margarine issue is that sometimes, when a surfeit of slime has been taken, a small amount needs replaced by scraping the knife along the top of the tub. How this should then be reintegrated for subsequent forays is probably best left to the Advanced Course.

  4. I’m with Jane on the pork but with you on the marg. I’m afraid that I think of Jane’s (and my) pronunciation of pork as being the Scottish way of saying it, while yours is the English way.

    With regard to ‘spreadable’ butter and marg, I’ve found that a very satisfying way of rearranging the contents of the tub to the arrangement you prefer is to leave it sitting out in a warm kitchen for an hour or so, then shuggle (shoogle? is there an official spelling for Scots words like that?) the tub from side to side a few times, causing the near-molten spread to, erm, spread across the base of the tub.

  5. I got this in my email today from a friend, who clears a few things up:

    An archaeologist writes:

    Sorry Gareth, archaeologists use both methods you highlight (not sure about butter/marj, although there is an alarming trend to use your trowel for such purposes when on site), because both methods yield different information. So ‘your’ preferred method is used for obtaining information about specific layers, but a section or ‘Jane’s’ preferred method when you excavate down through the archaeology/ground to see if there are different layers, is also used. What distinguishes the archaeological method is that they record as they go down. Not really applicable to butter/marj as all you might get is the occasional lens of ‘toasty’ contamination of charcoal etc.

    I was going to draw you a diagram, but I realise that was just way too sad.

    I don’t know about you, but I thought that a diagram would have been perfect!

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