Pancake Hints

Another thing that happened when I was trudging around the autumnally glum seaside resort was that I received an unsolicited pancake hint. I had stopped to tighten a loose shoelace, near an ice cream kiosk. The kiosk was shut, it being blustery and cloud-louring and out of season. A biddy with a demented number of bags passed me by, stopped, and turned just as I was straightening up from my shoelace-tying exertions. In a mournful voice, she offered me a pancake hint, then went on her way.

This was not the first time I had been given a pancake hint at a seaside resort, and as I headed off towards the steep steps up to a lawn and a crazy golf facility, I cast my mind back to an earlier occasion. It was a different seaside resort, and a different pancake hint, but the weather was similar, and so, curiously, was the biddy, though this previous biddy had fewer bags about her person and we were nowhere near an ice cream kiosk.

That made two seaside-based pancake hints. You might think the making of pancakes is a simple matter and that I have been given two hints too many, but I disagree. Whenever I make pancakes I like to mull over the hints I have received, both that pair of seaside ones and other pancake hints given in wholly different circumstances, far inland. I would not claim always to act upon the hints, for I think we all tend towards our own habitual pancake-making techniques without really giving them much thought. Dobson was a glorious exception. He never made his pancakes in the same way twice. He would take a conscious pause as he approached his skillet, and summon to mind one of the numberless pancake hints stored in his throbbing cranium. How he selected the hint he was about to use is the subject of one of his most engaging pamphlets, On The Judicious And Non-Repeating Deployment Of Pancake Hints (out of print). Intriguingly, Dobson mentions in a footnote (page 9) that he also received one of his pancake hints at the seaside, though maddeningly he does not inform the reader at which resort. Mind you, nor have I, and in my case there are two seaside resorts you will be thumping your forehead against a solid panel in frustration that I have failed to divulge. But one day I plan to write my own pancake pamphlet, a sort of hommage to Dobson’s, and until then I am keeping mum.

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