This week I read that a great way to get hits on your blog was to put the phrase sugar cube (1) into the title. I confess I read this on twitter and didn’t give it more than a cursory glance but it interests me to contemplate what makes us click on one link over another. The biggest influence on whether I’ll click on a link from twitter relates to the author. If the person posting is it is a friend or someone who has made me laugh or think in the relatively recent past then I’m more likely to click. Then there are the cleverly worded tweets; the ones that perhaps feature a play on an established idea or phrase.

Plenty of research suggests that numbered lists and how-to guides rank highly for people and I suppose I fit this pattern as well with ‘Five ways to creating a magical Christmas’ probably influencing me more than ‘A magical Christmas.’

Not that this kind of thing affects how I title my own blogs. Possibly because I don’t make any money from doing this, I’m not driven towards attracting traffic. It’s nice of course but I prefer one comment to eleventy page views, a reference on twitter to a surge in hits. To be honest I’d feel a bit strange about trying to phrase a title to influence clicks. It’s not that I don’t care - why else would I announce blog posts on twitter? – but that to do so would feel too overtly as though I was working on it and nothing kills joy quite like something becoming work. I love creating recipes but since I’m putting together cookery courses at the moment it suddenly feels far more strenuous and far less intuitive.

I like to go with the mood. Just as I like stories that go off on a tangent and serve little purpose beyond amusing me. For instance, when I was growing up there was a strange cupboard in my room. It was full of curious things my parents had stowed there. For some reason there were sugar cubes (2) and I used to suck them until my mum told me my teeth would fall out. I didn’t really like them but the horses in the books and annuals I obsessed over seemed to feature them a fair bit and I wanted to know what the fuss was about.

In fact the first time I really consumed sugar cubes (3) was last September in Turkey. Wherever I went I was given small glasses of strong tea that needed sugar to make it palatable. They came in large pastel coloured boxes that sat quietly next to computers and phones, as a vital part of conducting any business.

Still on my sugar cube (4) to do list is drinking absinthe because I do love a good ritual...

The classic French absinthe ritual involves placing a sugar cube on a flat perforated spoon, which rests on the rim of the glass containing a measure or “dose” of absinthe. Iced water is then very slowly dripped on to the sugar cube, which gradually dissolves and drips, along with the water, into the absinthe, causing the green liquor to louche (“loosh”) into an opaque opalescent white as the essential oils precipitate out of the alcoholic solution. Usually three to four parts water are added to one part of 68% absinthe. Historically, true absintheurs used to take great care in adding the water, letting it fall drop by single drop onto the sugar cube, and then watching each individual drip cut a milky swathe through the peridot-green absinthe below. Seeing the drink gradually change colour was part of its ritualistic attraction. (Credit)

Doesn’t that make you want to just make like Van Gogh and go chasing after colour and expression, casting body parts as you go?

No? Just me then?

Truly, you don’t what to go crashing into a starry night above swirling olive trees and just lose yourself in an orgy of abandonment in Arles fuelled by mad nights with the impressionists in Paris?

Ok, I’ll let it go.

I guess ritual is the key here. This blog is a ritualistic activity and I play to my own rules. To play out my ritual according to a set of precepts is to deny the very pleasure I take from creating it.

By now you must be wondering about who invented sugar cubes (5) and if you aren’t then I need a fifth thing as I started with my title. The first four free flowed like the bra burning cousin of the cube; the one the family talk of in whispered tones, you know... loose.

Well it was Jakub Kryštof Rad in 1841. He was the director of a Morovian sugar factory and at that time sugar came pressed into cones that you hacked pieces off. Allegedly his wife was clumsy and after cutting herself asked why it didn’t come pre-cut.

True story.

Twitter to horses to see to absinthe to a cack handed wife. 5 top ways to integrate sugar cubes into a blog.

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