In the bread section of the supermarket I was startled to see a tall baguette labelled ‘Pain Flute’. I was reading in English and thought the store’s labelling team had gone all poetical on a dark winter’s afternoon. Isn’t there a poem by Tagore which talks about the flute sounding the notes of the writer’s pain? When I’m trailing round supermarkets I often have low moments, and could easily imagine myself playing a pain flute at such times.
It sounded like a theatrical prop that might be used by a Japanese actor in Kabuki, perhaps a samurai sword transformed symbolically in the course of the action into a musical instrument, cutting through the formalities with its high, plaintive wail.
A moment later, of course, I came out of my reverie and remembered that ‘pain flute’ is a French term for a variety of baguette. But I had been briefly transported from the world of aspirational boulangerie to one where everyday objects carried mysterious, illuminating overtones.