Would the 17.4 million please stand up

Johnson, Gove et al appear to be engaged in some political limbo challenge. How low can you go? Hey I can go lower than that. So we are being shamed almost hourly by the ridiculous sabre rattling, the aggressive speeches, the threats against those who oppose them and their dangerous alt-right fuelled dreams.

I say shamed, but terrified would be more accurate. How many of you saw the Leave poster yesterday? It’s been taken down now but I may be able to find it on the web to show you. Well that didn’t take long, you can see it here.

One of the backers of this campaign is Arron Banks. Not the man you’d like find moving in next door. All the hallmarks of fascism are stamped over both Leave and Johnson’s government. The playbook is lifted from the rise of the Nazis. We are constantly told leaving the EU is the will of the British people; that to ignore the result of the 2016 referendum would be undemocratic, would let down the 17.4 million who voted in favour of ‘going it alone’. Never mind that the population is more than four times that number, that quite a few of the people who voted are now dead, and every poll shows most people want to stay in the EU, that large numbers of those who voted Leave are horrified at what is being done in their name. No, the tail must wag the dog and pull us all down. It would be nice if the 17.4 million stood up now and told the government to stop. It may only be if they do that the madness will end. Continue reading

Advertisements

Journey to das Boot

On a glorious autumn morning I am on the train to meet Older Nephew to take das Boot to the pump out at Ely and begin the process of winterising her. I have conflicting feelings about das Boot. I want to make improvements, I have ideas to make life aboard more comfortable, but I am also thinking the time is approaching to give up my car, and therefore das Boot. Older Nephew’s girlfriend is in London, and although he will still be based in the East, I wonder if his personal centre of gravity is shifting, and how often he will want or be able to join me when I am at the marina.
Continue reading

Plate licking good food

I like my food. Make that I love my food. There’s a television series at the moment with Jamie Oliver making vegetarian and vegan food without compromising on flavour.
The words in italics aren’t mine, they are used in the trailer by an anonymous voice. They are enough to stop me watching what may be a good programme with great recipes. The implied message is that vegetarian and vegan food is tasteless. What nonsense. They also suggest that these programmes are aimed at meat eaters. Wouldn’t it be nice if us vegetarians and vegans had a cookery programme aimed just at us, presented by reputable vegetarian and vegan chefs who don’t deal in analogue (fake) meats. One day.

Last Monday I went with my neighbour Helena to Broadway market where she was investigating a shop, normally a butcher’s, that was holding a vegan meat day. At the door a very nice woman offered me a vegan chicken nugget. Um, I said, I don’t eat chicken. Don’t worry, it’s vegan, she said. I tried it. It had a meaty texture and I wouldn’t want it again, but the dip was nice. Do you think it tastes like chicken? she asked. Um,again. I haven’t eaten meat for fifty years. I really couldn’t say. We had a chat. I explained that for me fake meat is an anathema. I can understand its purpose for people who struggle to give up meat, but that’s not me. Why on earth would I want to eat a fake version of something I didn’t like and don’t miss in the first place? She saw my point.

As autumn has tipped from being very Keatsian into something cooler, greyer and wetter, so my menus have undergone subtle changes. It’s still the season of mellow fruitfulness with a wonderful cornucopia of fresh produce to choose from, and quinoa salad has yet to pack its bags and settle under the duvet for winter, but soups, risottos and so on are suddenly more attractive.
I’ve been tucking into lentil and celeriac shepherd’s pie with lots of kale and leeks. Crumble (apple, blackberry, rhubarb) has become the pudding of choice. The other night I had said shepherd’s pie with kale, roast beetroot and onion gravy. It was heaven. I made my first celeriac risotto with a lemon oil and sage leaves. Delicious. I’ll be making that again. I have eaten quantities of noodles with green veg, tomatoes, mushrooms, spring onions and tofu. Fresh figs make the perfect snack.

Finger-licking good? How meagre, how half-hearted. This food is plate-licking good.

Matters of the Heart

Celia is in the running for hospital visitor of the year. It’s not something she planned, but over the last few weeks it’s been something of a revolving door with her husband Charlie repeatedly admitted with heart problems.

He went back in again a few days ago, and is undergoing something we are not allowed to call electric shock treatment to get his heart beating to the correct rhythm. I think it’s called electrical cardioversion.

Continue reading

Liars, Charlatans, and Democracy in Peril

The last few days in Parliament have seen some extraordinary scenes. Boris Johnson, a man who seems determined to drag the office of Prime Minister through the mire, has repeatedly used disrespectful and inflammatory language. He has dismissed the fears of MPs of the death threats, rape threats, arson threats they and their families have received. “Humbug”was Johnson’s response, apparently seeing this as some kind of joke. He even referenced Jo Cox, the MP murdered by a member of the Alt Right who shouted “Britain first” as he killed her, and said she would have wanted us to ‘get on’ with Brexit. BS.

Others have suggested riots if we do not leave the EU on 31st October. Suggested these riots almost as a threat, almost as a call for riots.

I have been on a number of pro EU marches since June 2016. They have been characterised by good humour, politeness, warmth. They had a family feel. There have been dogs and children, wheelchair users. They have made me proud to be British at a time when my country, which I love, has been tearing itself apart.

I stood at Trafalgar Square over a year ago and, as I waited for the friends I was hoping to join, struck up a conversation with a a French family visiting London. They were warm in their admiration of the way this huge crowd was behaving. I have been with Americans who have taken photograph after photograph, and then decided they wanted to join in, be part of this. These marches, these demonstrations, have fostered such good feeling, such warmth from foreigners who had wondered whether London was a safe place to visit in these febrile times.

There have been no arrests. At the largest march over one million people of all ages walked together, calm, courteous even when abuse was shouted by the odd Brexiteer who had turned up to jeer. Some people tried to engage with the Brexiteers, to speak to them. They were repaid with swearing and threats, not dialogue.

I have only witnessed a Brexiteer demonstration by accident. There were only a small number of demonstrators, but they were loudly aggressive, threatening. One wore a Donald trump mask while others sang “We love you Donald, oh yes we do.” As a Remainer, I would not have liked to challenge them. The outcome would almost certainly have been violent. More than one person has said that Brexit has become like a religion, a particularly fundamentalist religion, where questioning and discussion, let alone disagreement, is treated as blasphemy and quickly suppressed, the questioner demonised.

This is a dangerous development. Democracy is a delicate creature. Look at history and see how many times people who thought they were secure were forced to flee their homes with nothing when anti-democratic, often populist, movements silenced debate and demanded adherence to a particular ideology; when the people comes to mean only people who belong to a certain group. Continue reading

Fifty Shades of Green

A sad day today. My kettle, which I have had since I was a student, went to the small electrical recycling event held at Kennington Park and did not come home. I honestly thought it was going to last me my whole life. It was second hand when I got it, a hand-me-down from someone who probably got a more sophisticated model that turned itself off when it boiled.

They don’t make the.m like this anymore

It has been with me through thick and thin, as an undergraduate and post graduate; as a newly qualified teacher right up to this morning when I boiled it for the last time to make my morning coffee. It’s been in halls of residence, slum accommodation, dodgy rental flats, social housing, my own home. But a while ago I decided to tackle the limes ale around the spout. Mistake. Once removed, I realised it had been stopping my kettle from leaking. I looked for ways to repair it. I found some advice but, lacking a soldering iron or any experience in using one, success seemed unlikely. I contacted the company that made it, Swan. They regretted they could not help, but they did offer me a substantial discount on a new kettle. A clever way to retain my custom and for me, a useful way of narrowing my choices. Still. Saying goodbye was hard and I kept putting the moment off.

Finally, this week, with Celia’s help I made my decision between a stainless steel kettle and a rather more expensive pale green model. It arrived this morning.

On trial


The picture shows it having its first boil, I don’t know why I sat it on a piece of bubble wrap, but I definitely felt it was on trial. Continue reading

Shambolic and Terrifying

Weeks are passing and I’m not posting. I can blame work, blame a social life, but overall I blame Boris Johnson. I have never found clowns funny, but BoJo is terrifying, the clown of nightmares. He has a cohort of cronies who are equally awful. And some of the press… OMG. The usual suspects: the Express, the Mail, the Sun somehow spinning that Parliament is being anti-democratic, when to the meanest intelligence, Parliament is trying to do its job. The same papers, and the cohort, are telling people that the Supreme Court is biased, that the decision of the eleven judges was due to undue influence by the EU. This isn’t just nonsense, it’s dangerous nonsense. Continue reading

Dog Days

I’m home again and heading to bed and a sound night’s sleep before work tomorrow hoping my mobile ‘phone issue will be sorted out by the time I wake.

I had a quick look at some photos taken over the last couple of days. Babush is the Leonberger/St Bernard cross I met at Wicken Fen on Thursday. Adorable or what?

On my walk to and from Wicken I had seen horses. Not the usual kind of horses of varied sizes and shades, but a proper herd; distinctive, beautiful. They watched me from a distance but didn’t approach.69828759-4F77-4649-A452-BC98CA034C33.jpeg
Continue reading

Under Fen Skies

Another lovely day at das Boot. And not at it. MasterB went back to bed straight after breakfast. 41C78D41-7634-4E54-BEFC-526D138054EBFor bed, read under the rug in the fore cabin. I had a couple of things to do at Burwell, filling the car with petrol the most important. So post shower off I went, returning via Reach and picking more blackberries for the crumble that is ready to go in the oven shortly. That’ll be pudding after I have eaten the lentil shepherd’s pie that’s also ready to go in the oven. There’ll be holey spinach as an accompanying vegetable.ED2E81A0-D01A-47D2-AAA7-7B73F2A45E33

I’m getting good at do the washing up in cold water. It’s not that there’s no hot water in the tank, it’s that the taps are sucking in air rather than water when the pump is on, and so they splutter and spit, sometimes sneeze, instead of flow.

Continue reading