Ian McMillan: The silence of the Yorkshire pudding batter...

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As 2015 dawned, a few weeks ago, I decided that I needed a new hobby to keep me occupied when I’m not strolling about thinking poetic thoughts. So I decided that in an increasingly noisy world I’d start collecting silences. They’re quite hard to come by, but if you listen hard enough you can hear them. Or not hear them, which is more to the point. I’ve narrowed my search down, too; I’m not just after any old silences from anywhere, I’m collecting Yorkshire Silences, because like anything Yorkshire they’re the best. I’m going to stick them in an album marked Eee By Shush. It might be an unexpected best seller next Christmas.
Let me share a few with you now. Quietly, of course. Keep the paper still.

The silence of the Yorkshire pudding batter waiting in the bowl. You’ve mixed it, making a lot of noise with the fork and the cracking eggs. The kitchen has filled to bursting with the rapid gloop-gloop noise of batter being, well, battered. Now the fork has finally come to rest. The batter has stopped shifting. Silence. Until the fat starts sizzling and the puddings go in.

The silence that descends on the room when I say, “Does anybody want a slice of my lovely home-made cake?” Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word ‘lovely’. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked them at all, should just have bustled in with a rattling hostess trolley and distributed the cake. This particular silence is a short one, just hanging in the air for a moment before the excuses start and people say they’re full or they’ve got to get off or their on the No Cake diet. But for a moment the silence is exquisite and full of promise. The promise that somebody might want my flipping cake.

The gorgeous silence just before a penalty is taken by any Yorkshire footballer at any Yorkshire football ground, league or non-league, well-appointed stadium or muddy park ground. Like the Cake Silence this is a short one and indeed it makes the cake silence seem long. It’s the silence from the home fans that tells you the goal will be scored. It’s the silence from the away fans that tells you the goal will be missed or the keeper will save it. What a Yorkshire silence: tiny as a jewel, bright as a star.

The silence when any portly Yorkshireman looks in the mirror in the fitting room of a shop as they try new trousers on. They are breathing in as far as they can without causing serious internal injury. They are standing very still so as not to make any of their wobbly bits wobble. There is a silence that is part anticipation, part hope, part inevitable disappointment. The trousers do not fit and the silence is shattered by a long exhalation and a moan.

The silence when the new Yorkshire baby has just, finally, nodded off. The last whimper has dissipated. The last sob had evaporated. There is just silence. The grateful parents turn to leave the room, silently. One of them steps on the creaky floorboard. Ah well, it was silent while it lasted.

Let me leave you to collect your own. You’ll need a net that’s all holes. For the silences.