Wu Wei Sauce

Posted in Literary by Arasmus on January 6, 2006

It’s that time of year when small-talk is taxed with the topic of New Year’s resolutions. During this season, relative strangers feel free to ask whether you have resolved to leave the toilet seat down or to refrain from your pre-occupation with death by asphyxiation. I object to questions about New Year’s resolutions from people with whom I have not yet broken any laws. Frankly, it’s impertinent. In any case, and perhaps more to the point, I have grown suspicious of resolutions for two reasons. The first is rather Taoist. Have you ever noticed that when you resolve to quit or commence a particular behavior, the very act of resolution seems to awaken vested psychic interests from around the universe that congregate on your shoulder and conspire to dash your intention? Sometimes, it feels that if you didn’t make the resolution it would be much easier to achieve it. The Taoists recognised this in the principle of “wu wei” or action through inaction. The principle has influenced Chinese history for hours and potheads for centuries. And I can only agree because Taoists invariably look old and frail and I’m polite. My second objection to the Festive Inquisition is based on the belief that some things are better left to stew for a while. Take Worcestershire Sauce for example. In the nineteenth century, Lord Sandys, Governor of Bengal for Queen Vicky, returned to the English dales with the recipe for a spicy sauce that he purchased with the phrase “there’s a good chap” and an army. He hired two English chemists, John Lea and William Perrins, both from the town of Worcester. Lea and Perrins followed the recipe to the letter but the result was a barrel of digusting and undrinkable plonk. The two chemists wrote off the project, resolving to at some point develop a theory of international outsourcing. They never did. However, several years later, as Perrins was searching in the back of the warehouse for his wireless router, he came across the same barrel. Despairing at the probability that his wi-fi system was operating on the 802.11b standard, Perrins decided to hit the sauce. In the interim the solution had matured into the wonderful spicy concoction that we know as Worcestershire Sauce today. That was 1837 and the rest, as they say, is botany. So when you see me sitting at a bar, staring at the sultry stem of my cocktail glass – don’t bother me. I’m stewing, and in several years I’ll be spicy.


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