Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Looking at the state of the living room - those piles of books here, that pile of DVDs there, the layer of dust on the mantlepiece (I only dusted it last month, I don't know where it all comes from) - I wonder, yet again, if this place couldn't do with the occasional bit of attention by one of those strange chaps with the lumps on the front. Not to do the cleaning and tidying, well not necessarily anyway, but to look disapprovingly or to need to sit down somewhere, that sort of thing. I know how it feels: there have been times in my life when I could have benefited from somebody saying: "you're not going out like that!" or "I think you're over-thinking that one," or, more usually, "you know that thing that you said you were going to do? Did you remember to do it?" Of course, this would need to be said in a gentle and loving way as I don't respond terrifically well to nagging. Mind you, I'm told I don't respond terrifically well to such requests made in a gentle and loving way, either, though I suspect the personal agenda of the source of that opinion.

Anyway, it's all looking a bit untidy at the moment.

Evidently I've gone through some sort of mild depressive episode over the past couple of months. Which is strange as I haven't felt depressed. Tired, yes, but then I have been over-flogging a couple of dead horses. Pissed-off, certainly, but if being pissed off was a key diagnostic for depression then most of the country outside the City of London would be under the doctor for it. And yet... There are things depressives do and I've been doing them. Such as fretting about official letters that won't go away when you put newspapers on top of them and then just turn out to be sales pitches for new gas boilers or new ways of paying your electricity bill by selling your children to utility companies. Or worrying about the local train services - ha! I might as well worry about the state of the customs depot on Krakatoa. And somewhere in one of those four piles of books on the sofa is the book I think I'm reading at the moment. Odd little things that you don't notice yourself until they're dug in as habits but which somebody else might quickly pick up on and challenge. Or not, as the case may be (I've had feedback on that one, too!)

I'll just have to be more careful. All the evidence suggests that we're going to be entering a Winter of dismay, I'll just have to take care not to bring too much of it home with me.

Note to self: buy some Harold Hare comics and a crate of cream soda.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Inkwell impery

I'm hoping to start catching up with myself some time soon. Ish.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Damsons in distress

The cold snap has arrived and I've wheeled out the slow cooker again. Chickpeas, carrots, leeks and walnuts: a stew on day one, a vegetable accompaniment to sausages on day two and soup on day three. Nothing special but at least comfortable.

I think I've taken the last of the fruit from the garden. I've put a big bag of rowanberries in the freezer for the family jelly maker (my sister). For the most part it's been a productive year. The pear and the fig disappointed (badly-timed frosts put off the bumble bees and chalcid wasps) and the damson has underperformed again (frost and exposed site; I'll have to sort something out over the winter). So I had enough damsons to be too many for everyday use and not enough to start jam-making with. I didn't want to waste them so I had a bit of a think. In the end I decided to make a sauce, a keeper for in the fridge.
  • A dozen or so damsons
  • Some vegetable oil
  • A small red onion
  • Two or three hot green chilis (Jalapeno or, if you're up for it, the hot sweet ones that you get in Asian markets)
  • A good-sized lemon
  • Cinnamon
  • White wine vinegar
Stone and quarter the damsons. Finely chop the onion. Coarsely chop the chilis. Gently stew them in the oil with about a third of a teaspoon of cinnamon until the damsons have broken down. The skins will start to colour the pan. When it becomes a violently rose pink it's ready for the next step. Grate in as much lemon rind as you fancy then add the juice of the lemon. Let it simmer for a few minutes until it's quite thick then pour it into a sterilised jar. Deglaze the pan with a splash of wine vinegar and top the jar up with it.

It's kept a week so far. Hot and tart, it's a nice add-on to a cheese toastie.

(I'd always wondered how a Turkish restaurant I know got such an interestingly-coloured chili paste.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mystery tour

A felicitous mishearing on the train:

"We will shortly arrive at Lancaster. This train will then become the service to Bahrein and Morecambe."

Sunday, September 12, 2010


The small niece-child was telling me a phenomenally-animated version of Alice In Wonderland. We had the white rabbit and falling through a strange hole in the ground; then we had to eat some sweets to get through a very small door and we met queens both white and red. I was enthralled.

I still don't believe the Blues Brothers went to the Mad Hatter's tea party, though.

Friday, September 03, 2010

The Blue Lamp

In the ceaseless war against crime Greater Manchester Police are utterly ruthless. Not only do they deploy attractive young policewomen with huge brown eyes to the Piccadilly Gardens patrol...

...they put them on horseback.

I was nearly arrested for drooling.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Learning with father

Overheard on the tram:

"Daddy, what's that blue light for?"

"That shows when there's an emergency."

"What's the green light for?"

"That's an ejector seat."

"Oh. Then what's that red light for?"

"When that's on you can talk to the driver and he'll tell you off for pressing that big red button on the door."

"What happens if you press it and ask him for sweeties?"

"He tells you to fuck off."