Look, it is Victoria Day again, up here in the off-white North. Or it might be: you can’t know with these three-day weekends, which day is supposed to count. Our political masters shift everything to the Monday, the way the “spirit of Vatican II” shifts to the nearest Sunday — or elsewhere, as the case may be. That way, no one will take their obligations seriously. But in secular terms, today is definitely the bank holiday, and that’s what really counts.

Fire-works and fire-crackers we still get: a fine demonstration of loyalty to the Crown, on the surface, though I wonder inwardly if the multiculturalists out there are consciously celebrating Her Late Majesty, whose birthday was actually May 24th. I like to imagine her tiny person, enhanced with hoop-skirt and calash, sitting as upon the marble throne within the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, Bengal. We have a Victoria Memorial Square here in the Greater Parkdale Area, but it converges, incongruously, on a monument to our heroes from the War of 1812, some of whose remains are buried nearby. Her Late Majesty was not even born then.

Whereas, Curzon’s magnificently odd memorial, in what is now misspelt “Kolkata,” remains a tourist magnet after all these years. Note, it is a twentieth-century monument, and as so few others were built that solid, our distant descendants will dig it up and take it for typical of our times. Just as they will find the landfill to which we consign all the used packaging from around here, and conclude from its location that the Greater Parkdale Area was in Michigan.

One crore, five lakhs of silver rupees: that’s what it cost to build that absurd parody of the Taj Mahal, on what was once Hooghly swamp, and at a time when the capital of British India was anyway being transferred to Delhi. Paid for largely by the voluntary subscriptions of Her Late Majesty’s long-mourning admirers, among the princes and peoples of the great Subcontinent. I cannot think of a more worthy cause.

Back here in Canada, I associate the day with fudge-making. My mommy and I used to make it together in a house along Edith Street in Georgetown, Ontario — from a recipe I surely still have filed away, and ought to have looked up. Let me say my mother’s recipes were infallible. One had only to follow her instructions exactly. But this is something I have ever been loathe to do. That is because I am a “creative” person. I like to experiment.

Yesterday, for instance, I tried to recall the principles of fudge-making, after a lapse of one half-century or so. As people love to collect recipes, here is how mine progressed:


Into a stove pot of convenient size, spill:

— All the cocoa powder that won’t fit in your storage tin.
— All the coconut milk powder, ditto.
— A few spoon-twirls of buckwheat honey.
— Enough water to compound the above into a thickish paste.

Keep adding water till you think, “Enough!” Heat to boiling while stirring merrily. Then stop stirring, and turn the heat down slightly. Wait until it looks right, and feels hot enough when you stick your finger in. (A candy thermometer would be useful, but hey.)

Then take it off the stove and add:

— As much bourbon whiskey as you will part with.
— A slurp of the rum in which a vanilla pod was steeping.
— Soft butter (lots).
— Your last four prunes, all chopped up.
— Generous pinch of kosher salt.
— No hashish at all.

Beat this, savagely, until the shine comes off. Beat it more, gratuitously. … Aha, just recollected, should have used a wooden spoon.

Pour into oblong baking dish greased with coconut oil. (A square one would be better.) You may lick the pot while you’re waiting for it to cool.


Perhaps I should mention that this essay in fudge-making was a total failure: worse than some of my Idleposts. Tastes interesting, but not what I expected. The texture is all wrong: soft, but not like icing. More a syrupy goo with lumps of a more gritty nature. I think I created a chemical concoction of sufficient complexity that only God could sort it out. My mommy, for her part, would have been appalled.

And would have recalled one of her adages, which, as the others, applies to life more generally. “Fudge is easy to make, dear,” she would say. “But it is even easier to mess up.”