Blackberries are happening, by which I mean that some fruits have grown in hedges and things – nothing to do with those portable telephones that businessmen reputedly pore over. I am quite certain that nobody has ever noticed before that there is both the telephone called “BlackBerry” and the type of fruit called “blackberry”. I am very pleased with myself about that, and so you should be too.
I am quite similar to blackberries in terms of where I am live, and although that’s not to the point that I live inside a hedge – steady on! – there are some just a spitting distance from the door, as the crow flies. (If I spat out a crow – as I surely would, because crows are probably not tasty – getting it to land in some brambles would just be a case of making it fly the right direction.) I can, essentially, enjoy blackberries straight from the plant, although to be precise I pick them first.
(Until now, I’ve never considered eating the blackberries directly from the vine, plucking them off with my teeth, you know. It does hold some appeal – it would remove the problem of juicy hands. If I hadn’t started writing, it might never have struck me. That is the power of this thing.)
Such easy access has turned me into something of an addict. On Thursday afternoon, I went and gorged myself, until I felt horribly queasy and degraded. Maybe it did matter that I hadn’t washed my hands, but most importantly I hadn’t been discerning enough, and had allowed some quite unappetizing fruits to pass my lips. Wee, cobwebs, and the muddy footprints of wasps must have all been involved. My clothes were considerably less clean than they had been. I went back home on my bicycle, a ball of angst, and I jolly well ignored the rows of blackberries that lined the way, waiting for me.
That evening, we went somewhere and shook hands with a man in a suit, who slurped elderflower cordial from a coffee cup and chewed on a wedge of cucumber. I felt thrillingly anti-establishment, with my T-shirt still lightly soiled. I don’t think anyone noticed, actually. Even so, it was an awakening taste of debilitating addiction, and in a whole new way I can relate to the unshaven chap from the television who has been eating drugs.
Maybe it would be better to collect the blackberries in a plastic container, and wash them, and put them inside some yoghurt or a pudding for everyone to share. Wouldn’t that be nice? It would, yes. It’s a bit unrealistic, though. It’s every man for himself, you know.
Blackberries turn me into a greedy, sweating, panting animal, with sweaty sweatpants, but don’t think I can’t be a connoisseur. I’m experienced enough to know that it’s difficult to pick the right blackberry. Strong unripeness is easy to diagnose, and cleanliness should be too, but beyond that hurdle there are further questions. Blackberries flit between two unappealing ends of a spectrum: when less ripe they are too tart, but when too ripe they are a bit overpowering, like sharing a kipper with Nicholas Soames. For me, the ideal blackberry is somewhere in between, maybe closer to eating some Weetabix in the same room as John Prescott, but that’s just what I prefer.