About this Blog

Four Wise Monkeys is designed to unite my desire to develop as a writer with my urge to blog. It is based around the proverbial Three Wise Monkeys, with the focus being on the human senses rather than moral principles. Each post will relate to a sense represented by a monkey: "See no evil, Hear no evil, Taste no evil, Smell no evil." My hope is that blogging in this way will encourage me to think of blogging as a kind of writing exercise rather than something to distract me from my writing.


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Four Wise Monkeys pebbles by Aimee Daniells.

Sunday
Apr202014

Mint Tea

Regular monkey readers will know that I get obsessed with particular tastes for a while before moving onto something else; currently it’s fresh mint tea. I drink mint tea quite often, but usually I use teabags for their convenience, and mostly if you ask for a mint tea in a café round here, you’ll be given a teabag. The surprise of a fresh mint tea when you were expecting a teabag is deeply gratifying; they tick the same boxes but they’re two entirely different experiences.

There’s a subtle sweetness you get with fresh mint tea that isn’t preserved when the leaves are dried, and – weirdly – a shadow of something ever-so-slightly salty. This is a drink that tickles both taste and smell in equal measures; one of those flavours where it’s difficult to separate the two. It’s the smell, I think, that gives you the ‘this is definitely mint’ feeling, but the taste that brings out all the strands of mintiness, separates it from all the mint flavoured things that have nothing much to do with real live mint. What I particularly enjoy about fresh mint tea is the combination of both senses somewhere at the back of your throat, the sweetness of the taste and the freshness of the smell colliding and bringing together the flavour. It’s hard to imagine the flavour of mint with either smell or taste missing. So entwined are these two senses, that this is probably true for most things, but with fresh mint tea, it’s particularly evident. So many monkeys in one sitting!

And on that note, I’m going to boil the kettle…

Monkey by Kieran Hazell (www.ownbeat.co.uk)

Tuesday
Apr152014

The Hour of Hope

So long as I’ve had enough sleep (which is often debateable), I like being up before everyone else, especially on a bright, blue-skied morning. There’s plenty of aural pleasure going, what with the birdsong and the quiet roads, but it’s the light that I especially like, the cleanness of it as the sun rises into the day like an early morning stretch, polishing the leaves and spotlighting the blossom. The gardens are people-free, ruled by birds, their shadows flitting across puddles of sunlight as they hop between branches, and all the shades of green are showcased at their best. At this time of day, the world is full of promise and everything is still achievable. This is the hour of hope.

Monkey by Clive Wesley Dennis 

Sunday
Mar302014

Talking to Monkeys

I’ve been having trouble finding monkeys recently, which has served to illustrate their significance. There’s no devastating trauma going on here, but we’re having a bit of a tough time, and handling ordinary life is taking more energy than it normally does. Desperately searching for a monkey this week, for a small thing that gives me great sensory pleasure, made me realise not only how important monkeys are for general happiness, but that how accessible they are to me has a direct correlation to how settled I am in life. Monkeys are important for taking stock, for being able to pause and appreciate something good in the world, no matter how difficult things are. Monkeys are the blossom on the trees; the warmth of spring sunshine on your back; the smell of fresh ginger on your fingers or onion in a pan; the sound of birds in the morning; the hiss and crackle of grilling bacon… As I list them now, I remember them, and I set off towards a new week, determined to spot all the monkeys, and take the time to say hello as I rush past.

Monkey by Kieran Hazell (www.ownbeat.co.uk)

Saturday
Mar152014

Green Feathers

There was a parakeet in our garden the other day. Parakeets are a common nuisance in parts of London, but not here; here it was very much out of place. It was breakfast time. I was well into my ordinary routine, sitting at the table with a bowl of porridge and a book before getting ready to go to work. Glancing up to see that flash of green (accompanied by a brash squawk) felt like a good omen: here was something unexpected, hopeful almost, a small treasure inserted into an ordinary morning. Its colour more intensely bright than anything else in the garden, it seemed like a beacon, a shiny jewel. And it did have an impact on the rest of the day. I’m certain it was only because it cheered me, because it put me on the lookout for small treasures, but that’s good enough for me. Those rare green feathers sent me out the front door with a sense of hope and possibility that an ordinary weekday morning would have lacked.

Monkeys by Tony Pickering (@mrpickers)

Friday
Mar072014

Beetroot

I like everyday magic, especially when it’s related to food. Kitchen alchemy is a source of pure pleasure to me, and I get very excited by the magic created by combining flavours and textures, and by the healing powers of food. One of the things I love about cooking (and eating!) is the way it involves all the senses. And one of the most pleasing ingredients on the visual plane is the beetroot.

I always thought I didn’t like beetroot, subjected, over the years, to too many slimy pickled things in jars; when I realised its true earthy deliciousness, I started using it all over the place. I love the deep purple of a cooked beetroot, but what I love even more is the ridiculous pink that it bleeds into everything else. It’s almost unbelievable that it would come from a natural food. The beetroot’s colour infects everything else so quickly and so intensely that you have to admire its brazenness; this is a vegetable that demands to be noticed. Cream cheese icing coloured with beetroot (excellent on a chocolate beetroot cake) is a great advert for this: such an over-the-top colour produced by such a small amount of something so wholesome.  It would have you believe it’s been coloured with chemical nasties; I enjoy its sense of humour.

There’s nothing that doesn’t please me about looking at beetroot; that it even seems to take pleasure in itself provides an extra level of brilliance.

Monkey by Clive Wesley Dennis