Review: “Down the Kitchen Sink” by Beverly Nichols


Thumbs up for Down the Kitchen Sink by Beverly Nichols. Cooking/memoir.

Beverly Nichols wrote many very witty things, more than a half-century ago, on just about every topic, but most famously on matters of gardening and cats. I have never once been disappointed by him.

What do [cocktail parties] do to the mind? If one is a good guest, trying to perform one’s duties, they subject the mind to a series of violent pressures of which the most exhausting, in my own case, is a congenital incapacity for remembering people’s names. It is not so bad when there are only two of you. One can usually get away with… ‘Darling…such ages since we met…and what are you up to now?’ If one listens very attentively to the answer, which may be quite extensive, one can usually discover, by a process of elimination, what he or she is up to, and whether one is addressing the conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, and artist, a novelist, a deep-sea-diver, a member of parliament, a film star, and old school chum or…if the worst comes to the worst…one’s hostess. It is when one is joined by a third party that the agony becomes intense, for now one is obliged to perform the introductions. The standard formula, accompanied by a tortured laugh, is…’You know each other, of course…’ but sometimes this does not work, because it is quite evident that they neither know each other nor wish to do so. Whereupon, one is forced into what I can only call ‘Cocktail Esperanto’. A lot of men are called Charles, and one can often get away with a sound like Chlocks, particularly if one has previously filled one’s mouth with potato crisps. This token noise, delivered with a bow from the waist, and a graceful wave of the hand towards one’s companion sometimes does the trick. (A word of warning. This technique never works with Americans, who introduce one another as though they were toast masters at a city banquet.)

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