Treaties on Porridge

Presented in Good Press’ The Paper, August 2021

Notes on Piece: This piece, originally written for an Oats Zine that never came to fruition, is an experimental piece that combines familial tradition, British focklore, fiction and recipie crafting. Although out-of-style for myself, this piece is light-hearted and provides an ode to porridge, something I loathed as a child and love as an adult. It includes minutare glyphs, doodles, that accompany the writing. 

I)          Oats, are in fact, parcels brought to us by the Brownies that live under the stairs. To reject the oats, is to reject them (is, to bring misfortune upon your home).
Addendum A) Brownies will, however, be forgiving if you cannot accept their gift, due to illness or bodily rejection.

Authors Note: My own sister was cursed so that her body would reject oats. The Brownies  understood that it could not be undone, so let her be.

2)         Similarly, to eat oats unprepared, or prepared in the wrong way, will also incur the wrath of the Brownies, and may leave you with infestations of undesirable consequences.  I shall list some of the recent-historical examples of misuse of oats, and the consequences brought upon their home:

- In preparing oats for consumption, Ms Elizabeth Winthrope decided not  to bathe them in cow-milk, but in the milk of her sick goat. Upon consumption, Ms Winthrope’s husband lost his pallor, and begun expelling the contents of his stomach. Her goat passed two days later, and it took four-weeks of offering fresh milk from a pure white cow, newly made  mother for first time, for the Brownies to forgive her, and for her husband to improve his pallor and return to his work.

-  The use of oats in food products and as remedy for various ailments is long-expected by the Brownies. Unfortunately for Mr Bludrow of Cornwall, the Brownies take exception to their oats being used as a  remedy for the common venereal diseases, especially when contracted from adulterous acts. Mr Bludrow found himself with a fungal infection and separated from the former Mrs Bludrow, with the local courts finding in her favour.

- A common mistake made by those preparing oats, is forgetting to purify and bathe them for long enough before commencing cooking or further  preparing them. Most Brownies are forgiving of this transgression, but it is suggested you leave a note near your oat storage, to prevent the mis-preparation, in case your household Brownie is unforgiving.

3)         Oats are best used in the form of Porridge, though may be used in other forms, if  permission of your family or household Brownie is given and amenable. To gain permission, leave a bag of oats outside your backdoor overnight. If, come dawn, the oats  remain, your Brownies have given permission. Make sure to leave a bowl of fresh cow’s   milk out the next night, by your hearth (or failing that, kitchen sink) to thank the Brownie.

4)         To best honour your family, Brownies and Oats, cook the Porridge to the following recipe:

- Place approximately 3 heaped teaspoons of oatmeal, and 300ml of water (drawn cold from the tap) into a pan or glass bowl, 12 hours before serving. (The best time for this is before you sleep, but after nightly adulations).

 - After leaving to soak, add one pinch of salt. ONLY do this after throwing a small handful of salt over your left shoulder - NEVER right,  or you may blind your local Brownie. (this, however, can be skipped if you were greeted by birdsong as you woke up, or greeted a single male magpie before you begun the process of salting the oats).

 - Stir oats, water and salt using a wooden spoon. Do not use metal as it may reflect the face of the Brownies and incur their wrath, for they are shy in nature and do not wish to be gazed upon.

  -Place the pan over the stove (high heat) and an bring mixture to boil, stir  continuously. Once boiling, turn down heat and simmer for approximately  2.5 minutes – take care not to overheat or burn your oats.

 - Stir once (clockwise) before carefully pouring into a bowl.

 - Eat plain or without toppings. Honey, blueberries, or fresh garden fruits and nuts are recommended toppings.

5)         If you are concerned about your oats being tainted by unforgiving imps or malicious  spirits, immediately dispose of them by sewing the fields with tainted oats. Ensure that future oats have been cleansed, blessed (three times) before future consumption. This must be done as soon as they are cut and stooked. Cleansing can include but not limited  to: church bells ringing, parson preaching over them, or by gathering a bundle of Juniper and sain over the stook of oats.

6)         If you require your oats to be used for medicinal purposes, ensure you dispose of the oats properly- if not thrown away properly, you risk upsetting local Brownies and incurring bad luck to befall your household.

7)         Finally, it is recommended that you store your oats in a safe, secure, and air-tight container, either ceramic or glass. This is to prevent attracting Boggarts into your  household, as they are attracted to oatmeal, like many other malicious creatures, and will infest dwellings if they are aware of an abundance of oats available to them.

Addendum: The author notes that Boggarts are notoriously difficult to get rid of once inside the household, and will scare off Brownies, or eat them in certain situations. It should also be noted that Boggarts (otherwise known as Bugbears or Bwga), can only be scared away by extreme  intervention, and it is suggested that you always  hang a horseshoe on your front door as a preventative  measure. If you have children in your household, leave a bowl of salt by the entrances and windows of their  lodging, to prevent abduction, if you do attract one.

O)        The Author notes that these collection of notes on porridge and oatmeal was collected   and compiled whilst gathering documents left in a local estate, as well as through knowledge passed down from parent-to-child. It is recommended you also follow any     local customs, as Brownies have different local traditions and may consider it rude for  those to also not be observed. The Author cautions the reader against attempting to interact or capture your household Brownie, as they are extremely volatile when confronted and may forever curse your lineage.

© James Sunderland