Butterballs on the dining table

Years ago – I can’t remember exactly when or where – I recall having overheard someone comment rather unfavourably or at least ironically upon the seeming paradox of a member of the nobility who hadn’t any central heating in their highland castle (it might even have been a reference to Crathes castle from the owners of whom my family apparently derives some heredity) but there were always butterballs on the dining table.  Personally I dislike butterballs; I find them picayune and unmanageable. I prefer instead a tub of Kerrygold pure Irish salted butter with a sensible butter knife (perhaps with a bone handle if I were to divulge myself). And a large loaf of sourdough bread à côté. Nonetheless the butterball affectation is not entirely lost on me.

It’s a matter of choice.  The decision of what so-called luxuries we hope to sustain is oddly unrelated to anything as token and vulgar as cost. It involves an assessment of what if anything one derives from a particular object; and, how we interpret its message to others. Clearly butterballs have nothing whatever to do with necessity – at least of the Bohemian nature which I confess my erstwhile physician has incrementally impressed upon me. My friend is a very close replica to Uncle Edouard in JP Donleavy’s Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B.  While my friend doesn’t to my knowledge regularly partake of air ballooning he has otherwise apparently accomplished every imaginable entertainment both au naturel and at table. It would require an independent volume or more to capture his lifetime of global adventure, an element of which he instils in all that he says and does. In a word he is the consummate gentleman, truly the man’s man.  Yet in spite of this elevated acquaintance he has unwittingly taught me after many years of professional and indulgent association that when it comes to the trough, the imperative is a country seat (and a happy dog), a vast harvest table, a supply of Veuve Clicquot and a spirited application at the barbecue (or stove) preferably after a refreshing dip in his meadow pool. Otherwise there is no pretence! The recommendation is purely driven by superior ingredients comfortably rendered.

Some people make a display of their reputed parsimony by driving an ancient (but luxury) vehicle while at the same time living magnificently. The point must be (as far as I can see) that some people evaluate real estate more admiringly than automobiles. And so on and on it goes. For every individual there is a corresponding gem, that one item of allure without which one could not bear the deprivation.