And unless you live there or wish to visit the place and write poems about expensive London suburbs and rivers and bridges, it is probably artificial and contrived to insert Putney into a poem simply to make it rhyme. Why rhyme anyway? Why, indeed. Some modern poetry hasn't encountered a single rhyming word, hasn't flirted with structure, verse or form, and wouldn't know the difference between a couplet and a romantic dinner for two.I exaggerate but I admit to being a traditionalist. "All along the backwater, Through the rushes tall, Ducks are a-dabbling, Up tails all!" - Kenneth Grahame made me smile as a child and he still does today. His poem trips off the tongue and its rhythm is instantly memorable. I write poems that rhyme when the auditory leaps and jumps compliment the subject - but rhyme can equally sound laboured, can force the poem in the wrong direction and for the poet desperately in search of an elusive rhyme can become agonising, time consuming and exhausting. And exhaustion and overworking kill a poem.
Exhaustion and overworking kill inspiration too. Bertie Baggins has nowt to do with the latter but a lot to do with the former - it is apple stealing season and a doggy belly stuffed to its brim with apples needs to be emptied. Three times last night! He may find himself banished to the run outside this evening - Four-legged-friend and I need sleep.
Perhaps it is a lack of sleep that is to blame for this silly confectionery of a poem - simple, rhyming and child-like - or perhaps it is answering the need for a sleepily smile.
Apples into basket tumble,
Rolling, roiling cascades rumble.
Knives in peeling frenzy fumble -
Autumn harvest: apple crumble.
Head in hands in distraught grumble,
Poet plays with words in whispered mumble.
After easy rhymes for apple crumble
"Does anything rhyme with apple
I have made chutney for many years - some recipes have worked. Some haven't. Some I burnt. Some were too wet. Some too pippy (don't put bramble in your autumn chutney - it may seem a logical idea but fishing the pips out from between your teeth does not enhance the biscuits and cheese experience!). In some, the spices were ... well? Too spicey! But this is now my trusted recipe. It works. And disappears off the larder shelf pretty quickly - maybe I should make more ... maybe I need to beat Bertie Baggins to the remaining apples.
Ingredients for Bertie's Apples' Chutney
2 kg fruit - this year I used 1.5 kg garden apples and 0.5 kg tomatoes, but I have used an apple, tomato, plum mixture in the past and plan to use some rather late season rhubarb in the next batch (work, time and dog permitting). Stick to 2 kg and it will work.
500 g sultanas (big juicy ones work best)
500 g onions (I prefer red onions but ordinary ones are fine too)
1 kg demerara sugar (or a white granulated/ brown sugar mix is fine)
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp salt
750 ml vinegar (I like a mixture of red and white wine vinegars, but I have added cider vinegar and a splash of balsamic too - best to experiment with it and use what you have - these vinegars give it a darker, sweeter and more caramelly flavour than malt vinegars do, but go for malt vinegar if you prefer)
Also play around with the spices - if using plums a little kick of chilli is good.
As long as you stick to the overall fruit-to-onion-to-sugar-to-vinegar quantities this chutney works. Every time.
Chop the fruit and onions. Toss everything into a preserving pan and place on a low heat. Simmer to dissolve the sugar. Stir and keep stirring throughout - you are not making a jelly or jam so disrupting the pectin is irrelevant. When the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and stir intermittently while it bubbles gently. It will need to bubble, soften and reduce for several hours. What you are after is a uniform rich brown gloop. None of the fruit remaining should be the colour it was at the start. Any bits of apple can be gently squashed against the side of the pan. Keep bubbling (the whole house by now will smell of vinegar) until the stirring spoon drawn through the chutney leaves a shallow trough that does not rapidly fill with liquid. It is now ready to put into clean jars.
Eat with cheese, cold meats, pate, mackerel - anything really. But - according to Littlest - not custard! Or marmite. Or chocolate.