Today I met Paul Verlaine.
The great French poet’s words were used to alert the French Resistance that D-Day was about to start. The BBC broadcast Verlaine’s line “wound my heart with a monotonous languor” from the poem ‘Chanson d’automne’ to indicate that the D-Day landings would start within 48 hours of the broadcast, and they did on the 6th June 1944.
Seventy years on from D-Day I find Verlaine not on the radio but revealing himself to me from a butcher’s chalkboard in Oakham, Rutland, England’s smallest county. Below a selection of hams, plain, smoked, honey and mustard, there stands Verlaine, Lincolnshire chine.
Although not in Lincolnshire this butcher’s shop, Leeson Family Butchers, serves up Verlaine daily in the form of cured pork interweaved with parsley, Lincolnshire chine. Verlaine lived and taught in Boston, Lincolnshire and in his time in the county developed a penchant for this delicacy. After leaving Lincolnshire he complained to friends that as hard as he searched he could not find Lincolnshire chine anywhere else in England other than around the county itself.
It’s as difficult to find Lincolnshire chine now as it was then but when you do then pity the poor pig that was killed to produce it and instead of buying chine say hello to Verlaine who would, sensitive though he was, have perhaps given the pig little thought beyond its sensation on his taste buds, go home and read a few of Verlaine’s poems.
This said, forgive me dear pig, the chine is fine too.
6th June 2014