This week I wish to share with Dabbler readers a single fact. It is one that came to my notice some years ago and which has, ever since, exerted a curious spell over me. I read a lot, and I regret to say that much of what I read I forget. There are books, both fiction and non-fiction, read within the last twelvemonth, which I would be hard pressed to give a satisfactory account of. Mind like a sieve, as my father used to say. (He was also fond of the phrase “dim as a Toc H lamp”, but that’s another story.) Anyway, the point is that some things do stick in my head, immediately and irrevocably, for no apparent reason. And once I learned, from Nixon’s Shadow by David Greenberg, that one of Richard Milhous Nixon’s great pleasures in life was the mashing of potatoes, it was unforgettable.
Apparently, the ex-President used to mash potatoes to relieve his myriad stresses and strains. One day I must do further research on the matter, to discover the style of his potato mashing. Was he calm and methodical, or did he mash aggressively? Were his mashings always done as part of meal preparations, or did he just get some potatoes and mash them for the hell of it? These are neither deep nor important questions, but I find them fascinating.