The Runcible Spoon – A Question of Attitude

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The Runcible Spoon (Also Known by Others as a Cake Fork)

These last few weeks there has been a minor ‘domestic’ rumbling; it is usually at that gentle simmer where you can leave the pot bearing some wintry stew-like concoction for a while to attend to more important and pressing matters.  Until, of course, it starts bubbling a little too violently and seeping out from under the lid.  Then the issue requires immediate engagement.  And perhaps a stir or two.

How we act, what we say is all linked to attitude.  What motivated us to do or say?  What drives us?  Attitude can have a marked effect in how we choose to deal with others.  Our own attitude may be mild and forgiving and their own attitude may be excused by a variety of extenuating circumstances.  It’s not exactly a question of justification but sometimes it is more appropriate to turn the eye, to excuse, to forgive.

Surprisingly, these two matters are linked.

There are some attitudes that I do not appreciate.  I don’t like snobbery, it rankles me that some person or other has the cheek to think themselves better, superior, more perfect than another.  When someone makes an unjustified claim on another motivated purely by such an attitude then I will rise to the victim’s defence quite quickly, regardless really of my own personal view.  I’d rather help guide that someone to a more balanced approach, I prefer to both sides of every story and live in hope that one day they will be able to also.

Therefore, I find it a gross insult to be labelled ‘snobbish’.  Not least because of the complete injustice in such a claim.  And this is what lies behind the small rumbling ‘domestic’.  My husband has dared to, deludedly, call me a snob.  I was livid, annoyed, frustrated, hurt and insulted by turns.

Some behaviours are often motivated by a snobbish attitude, it is true.  However, just because one behaves in that particular way, can you forcibly conclude what their motivation is?

I don’t think so.  And I would hope not.

Just because I behave, or act, in a certain way in a certain circumstances should not mean that I am motivated by such an undesirable attitude.  I wouldn’t like others to assume that.  And I certainly wouldn’t like to find the slightest trace of such an attitude in me.

Today I found myself defending a particular demographic of parents, sinisterly described as ‘undesirable’, and a little boy who was labelled ‘naughty’.

Perhaps some parents aren’t as good as they could be or as good as we think that they should be.  However, the sad case is that many people, parents included, are victims of circumstances.  It’s not merely a question of ‘education’ as in what school one attends or for how long but of a vast array of complex issues as well as, often, a lack of opportunities.  And when those issues are repeated generation after generation, can you really feel anything but sorry for both those parents and their children?  I wouldn’t like to write it, or them, off as a hopeless case.  Even from very dire backgrounds, people have time and again turned things around for themselves and for their children.  Just not everyone can.  It is easy to judge from the comfort of a presumed moral high ground but it only perpetrates the problems and the divisions.  We need more compassion.

The little boy who was labelled ‘naughty’ is a good friend of mine, he’s a lovely, sweet child but he does have specific ‘issues’ that are in the process of being identified and helped.  His language is behind that of his peers and when he gets badly frustrated (and who can blame him really?), he has been to known to bite.  Is he motivated by mischief, by badness as that word ‘naughty’ suggests?  No.  He is frustrated by the handicaps that he faces day in, day out.  And he cannot even express how he feels.  Worse still, ‘naughty’ can quickly become a label that follows a child throughout their entire life and, unfortunately, also leads easily to prejudice, exclusion, discrimination.  We need more compassion.

Instead of judging people, instead of presuming, we need to think a little harder before we speak, we need to think a little more carefully about how we view our fellow man.  Yes, I may like ‘nuances’ but I think they help us be better people and make the world a better place.

I resent being called a snob.  I am a working class girl who loves my humble (and oft slighted) neighbourhood.  I have no desire to be ‘better’.  I avoid as much as possible any tendency to superiority or of thinking that I am somehow better than another.  I have few airs and graces.

I was naturally upset at the accusation.  I didn’t like the subtle inference that my motives and attitudes were being questioned.

I was very happy to find a certain utensil in a shop.  I have never seen them for sale before; they are slightly old fashioned admittedly.  A lot of people are heavily condemnatory of ‘gimmicks’ and write off most kitchen equipment as such.  (Maybe it’s another incarnation of that ‘making do’ attitude).  I say that if a tool can make your job or life easier or happier then go for it.  To each their own and to each the right to choose what he wants to use.

I hate eating my pudding or cake with a large (dessert) spoon.  It feels awkward, ungainly and something very akin to stuffing my face, rapidly.  I like to use a teaspoon (if the consistency requires) or, preferably, a fork.  It adds delicacy, refinement and pleasure to the savouring.  However, there is an even better, more suitable utensil, designed for this express purpose.

I had found cake forks.

I bought two and proudly bore them home.

And there the ‘domestic’ started.

Apparently, eating one’s cake with a cake fork makes one a snob.

Other than the emotions that I have already described, I was bemused.

Is it really criminal to want a cake fork?  Is it really snobbish to want a cake fork?

This was a utensil chosen purely for practical (a case of the ‘right’ tool for the job) and emotional reasons.

Despite the fact that this is a rather elegant more, I’m sure, and ‘elegance’ is something that is never usually associated with me, I like using a cake fork.  Well, we all have our little idiosyncrasies.  Surely I am allowed mine.

The ‘domestic’ will rumble for as long as those forks are in the house, which, as I’m having my way, will be a very long time.

Besides, the issue has taken a new turn in the last day or so.  I have taken to referring to this much maligned utensil as my ‘runcible spoon’.  Husband is convinced that a cake fork is not a spoon.  However, he was less certain about whether it is ‘runcible’ or not.  And thus one of literature’s greatest etymological debates of the last century left the hallowed halls of academic sages and is now just as fiercely fought over in this more modest milieu.

What exactly is the runcible spoon?  Is it merely an adjective for a piece of cutlery or does it have greater meaning and use?

The husband decided to go with that well used allegation that is summoned forth whenever bigger, more complex words get bandied about: I was making it up.  Then he had second thoughts.  He told me to look it up.  I told him that I knew perfectly well what I was talking about and as he didn’t, he was the one who had to look it up.

The worm had turned.

Or the cake fork.

In the end I took pity on the poor, uneducated spouse and equipped him with my beloved compendium of Edward Lear’s works.  This hardback edition was my father’s, which says something about him, then it was found on a shelf by a member of the next generation for whom it became regular bedtime reading, which says something about them too.  Husband actually knew some of the words of the Owl and the Pussycat, but not the essential part.  He read the words of that romantic tale then explored further.  He read, he stared, he questioned, he stared, he mused and then he laughed.

It seems that many things can be described by ‘runcible’, not just a spoon for eating mince and sliced quince.  But for now, we will restrain our usage to just cutlery.

And our botanical lore will be forever enhanced by that fascinating species, manypeeplia upsidownia.

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16 thoughts on “The Runcible Spoon – A Question of Attitude

  1. HOw else would you eat cake ?

    ON the other hand:
    ” I always eat my peas with honey
    I’ve done it all my life’
    They do taste kind of funny
    But it keeps them on the knife!!!!

    another old English joke!!!!

  2. I had to look up cake fork. In the US we generally call them a “dessert fork” and I’m a fan. As someone with a smaller, narrower mouth, the usual standard sized forks aren’t comfortable. We did have some salad forks available at one time and they were much more comfortable to eat with. Then we found a whole new set of utensils and it came with a much smaller than usual alternative fork in addition to the dinner ones. And they are perfect! I believe they are dessert fork size and because the kids say so, we will now refer to them as cake forks. :)

  3. I like your description, domestic rumble. Having survived many a domestic rumble myself in nearly 45 years of marriage, I know this one will be settled and on to another. The precious moments in between are the only ones that count, however.

    • That sounds a very positive description of marriage there! But it is only a part of the story and journey and you’re right, the other times are much more significant and precious. Thanks for commenting. :)

  4. Your friend’s little boy sounds a lot like Sam. Hugs to them whomever they are, and wishes that it should get better soon! And my mother-in-law, who is the most down-to-earth-sensible soul is one of the few people I know who INSISTS on setting a salad and dinner fork out with a meal. Do we tease her? Yes. Do we think she’s a snob? NO. Just someone who has to wash extra dishes.

    • Well, I draw the line at extra washing up! Thank you, as always, for your support and advocacy, it is greatly appreciated. I think he may well have very similar problems to your Sam which is why I can maybe bring a little knowledge, understanding and appreciation to your tales of family life. Frustration is horrid and not being able to express yourself is even worse. :)

I'd love to know what you think, concrit is especially welcomed on fiction pieces. Thank you.

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