Octavia is my Lab Rat

As someone who loves, and I mean loves, fairy lights the sheer range available in the pound shop in December was severe temptation. I was almost salivating. I had to get myself out and away before considerable damage was done to my pocket.
Now, in the cool light of January,my decorations down, cards undisplayed, but fairy lights still twinkling as they do here all winter, I found myself thinking of those lights again. I returned to the shop, imagining I might, in a more restrained, less Christmassy frame of mind, be able to choose wisely from the selection.
All gone.
We have moved onto St Valentine’s Day. So I could have bought heart shaped candles, various tacky objects in shades of red. No fairy lights. Perhaps it’s a blessing. But I am thinking that if they have the same wonderful array next year, all the friends to whom I give presents will get at least one string of lights for Christmas.
Meanwhile, Octavia made a fleeting return to the capital and we ate together on Sunday evening. She is my lab rat, or guinea pig if you prefer, when I am trialling new dishes on visitors. Unusually we ate at mine. This was because I was making soup and didn’t fancy carrying it around to her house. The chances of spillage which would have been messy, were too high. My experimental dish was a Freekeh salad. Now I have had Freekeh in a local restaurant but not been able to buy it. Apparently it sells out very quickly. So Lyn very kindly got some for me in Auckland, and then Celia managed to bag a packet which was part of my Christmas gift from her.
So now I am Freekeh rich, but with Brexit looming, I don’t think I’m going to be rich in much else. I am particularly worried about fresh veg as I eat a great deal of it. I might get by on home grown tomatoes in the summer, but there’s no chance of that in April.
Maybe by some miracle the MPs will put a stop to the madness and we can reboot. Brexit’s wounds are going to take a long, long time to heal, whether we leave or stay. The bitterness, the hatred, the anger the referendum threw up will leave scars.
I have just watched Brexit: the Uncivil War, a drama about the campaigns starring Benedict Cumberbatch. It left me thoughtful, and more than a tad depressed. I had seen part of it being filmed in 2018 and been told by one of the crew it was to air the night we left the EU. In that case, I hope I never see it, I replied. But we are still in the EU, and it has aired. Watching it on catch up I didn’t get the full complement of ads in the breaks (it was a Channel 4 production for anyone looking to find it) but I did get that it had been sponsored by Lexus, so presumably that was the type of buying power the anticipated audience was expected to have. Not I. Among the more ridiculous accusations levelled at remainers is the one that we are the metropolitan elite. Some of the poorest parts of London voted solidly to remain. My own neighbourhood among them. Apparently, and especially as I read the Guardian, I am also a member of the chattering classes, which perhaps I am, though not alas with any influence. The term was coined by Auberon Waugh whose politics were more than a bit extreme.
We are seeing the unedifying spectacle of MPs, journalists and others being racially abused; women having misogynistic comments hurled at them by a group of vociferous pro Leave protesters who gather outside the Palace of Westminster. How anyone hearing them could embrace a future where their views dominate is a mystery.
I don’t agree with Owen Jones about much, but when he says the right wing press and the language of hate and prejudice that adorn its front pages has much to answer for, he’s right. He didn’t mention the lies the Mail and the Express serve up on an almost daily basis. According to them, climate crisis is a lie, we are overrun with malign foreigners, the NHS is being bled dry by health tourists. All these stories have been shown to be false, but still they keep peddling them. It worries me that the newspaper proprietors push this trash, it worries me even more that people buy these newspapers and want to believe them. That is self-deception on a frightening scale.
But I can only take a little of Brexit at a time. It looks horribly like I shall be living in an ex EU country very soon. Any problems will be blamed on the EU which has become some sort of whipping boy for the right and far right. Any success, any minor survival, will be hailed as victory. And as I don’t want to see my country go down the pan, I and my fellow remainers will be doing our darnedest to make something positive out of this disaster, and not relying as the leavers seem to do on fairies at the bottom of the garden.
So expect recipes, pictures of MasterB, poetry, anything that distracts and keeps me sane while this lemming like race to destruction continues. Meanwhile, beneath the surface my legs will be paddling like billyoh.

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8 thoughts on “Octavia is my Lab Rat

  1. Wow – that was a little trip down the rapids. From Fairy lights to economic Armageddon with a culinary side conversation. You are not alone in that swirl and your decision to turn away to other pursuits is my preferred plan as well. Will wave as my raft circles yours.

    • Jolly good, and perhaps we can swap recipes as we pass. The food was the main topic in my mind when I started writing, but the fairy lights intruded in my thoughts, and it went on from there.

  2. you speak for me as well, Isobel. We’ve punched well above our weight for decades. We are, I fear, about to become politically the small offshore island we geographically are, shrinking economy, inward turning, mean-minded. I’ll be in there fighting the rearguard action along with the rest of us, and celebrating all the lovely diversity and freedoms that being in the EU has brought us. And as for the chattering classes – I expect I am a part of them, but like you seriously a-typical, since I believe a decent income is supposed to be a pre-requisite!

    • It’s interesting that the term cahettering classes is used in a sneering, derogatory way, yet it refers to people who are socially and politically engaged, a good thing one might think.

  3. Re freekeh, I’d never heard of it till just before Xmas, when Waitrose had a new recipe card with it in, featuring it as one of their products – one I was unable to find, until I found it in a blend of quinoa and something else, might have been chia seeds. It was a lovely recipe, cavolo nero with roasted squash and fried halloumi – so nice I made it twice in one week! I’m putting in a link to the recipe – I understand you are eating vegan (correct?) but I think it would be lovely even without the halloumi. https://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/en/home/recipes/recipe_directory/c/cavolo-nero-withroastedsquashandhalloumi.html

    • I eat a lot of quinoa, and I think Freekeh is just another alternative to make the grain part of the diet more interesting. It is not, I think, GF, so unlike quinoa not suitable for those with coeliac disease, but otherwise a nice nutty taste.
      I have added avocado and sunflower seeds to that’ particular salad. I think black beans, lentils or even chick peas could work well too. I am eating vegan, about two years now, and still enjoying the adventure. I had some cheese at Christmas and felt very uncomfortable for about thirty-six hours. I think it’s quite hard to digest. Are you not dairy free?

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