Seasonal Nogson

When books were great

Never one to jump on a bandwagon, here's this completely original idea.

This graph quite clearly shows why books were brilliant from about 1920 to 1950, and why they are now all comparatively rubbish.



 For the benefit of those who are interested in the Life And Work Of Mr John Simm, Actor, I present the following screen captures from "Rumpole of the Bailey, Series 7" in which he essays the part of a juvenile delinquent. They date from 1992, and are vintage example of flippyfloppyhair.

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The morning after the day before

I think that in what is one of the most interesting and complex elections for a generation,  the BBC have severely let themselves (and therefore us) down with their coverage. Frivolous, inaccurate, overblown, inconsistent and uncoordinated (website and TV calling some seats in different directions!) Andrew Neil wasted on a D-list celebrity barge. Graphics that would have been rejected as too ludicrous by The Day Today. 

There were, however, a few highspots. First, David Owen taking Paxman to task for this frivolity, and making the first grown-up assessment of the situation without mindless spouting of a party line. Of course, they cut away from this.

Second, David Butler. (Who was sadly inaudible owing to the BBC's Sky feed being all buggered up this morning. I'm now watching on the internet.)

On the political front, I'd shout out to Margaret Hodge. Well done to her for taking on and thoroughly defeating the odious Griffin, and addressing this in her speech.  While I'm congratulating people who wear the other coloured rosettes, I was also pleased to see Rushanara Ali win in Bethnal Green and Bow. In blue, Chloe Smith, Justine Greening and Priti Patel are my top wins. All three of these will be in ministerial jobs very soon, if everything works out as I hope that they will.

Looking forward, I reckon a reformed second chamber, elected on some form of PR, a reduction of the number of MPs and a consequent package of boundary change are the likely consequence of the current situation - maybe even a PR option, with a referendum ultimately wrapping up the whole reform package. But this is likely to take several days (if not longer) to resolve. The Turnip Taliban will kick and scream about this, I have no doubt, but I think the centrists will carry the day. Expect much hyperbole and blood letting from has-beens and no-hopers in all parties trying to drag themselves into the limelight at this time. The role of the Orange Book LDs will be critical, and how they relate to the (general much more left-ish) LD activists.

I also expect a lot of disgruntled activists from all parties complaining about how the *national* campaigns were run. I don't think this is fair to any of the party leaderships. Personally I think that Labour's national campaign (I speak not at all of the local activists) was very nasty, but actually quite effective in protecting 10-15 key seats. The Tories did not "throw away" the lead during the campaign - the drift had happened from Christmas to March, and we actually gained ground during the campaign. The LDs never had the breakthrough they trumpeted, and suffered the classic squeeze - only marginally improving their vote share; but their campaign actually prevented a total meltdown which was certainly on the cards. It is only the difference between expectation and reality that makes this seem so disappointing for them. 

And still the local elections to come!


15 hours of happy telling from 7am until the polls closed at 10pm. Much higher turnout in our ward than usual, and a jolly time with activists of all political persuasions (many representatives of two flavours of socialists, an itinerant Green and the very occasional LibDem).

The administration in my polling station was excellent, but it seems to have been a total shambles elsewhere.

Note for eaters of fish

You can't beat a fish finger sandwich.


5 fish fingers per person (1 box == 2 people)
Some grated cheddar (optional, but pretty essential)
Mayonnaise (must be very white and out of a bottle; don't make your own)
Ketchup (Daddies for preference, but I haven't run out and bought an emergency bottle from the chippie recently, so it had to be proper Heinz)
Butter (Salted)
2 slices of white processed bread. I used "Warburton's" Toastie. Takes exactly 5 fish fingers. Inferior sliced white can only accommodate 4 without squishing them slightly.

Fish fingers 12 minutes in the oven @ 230C on a greased baking tray, flipping after 8 minutes with a palette knife. Careful! Don't split them. And don't turn them onto a preexisting crusty bit from another finger, or they'll stick.

Butter one slice of bread, then spread mayo on the other half, then spread ketchup on the mayo. The fingers go on the buttery side to get it to melt slightly, and the cheese is sprinkled lightly on the mayo-y-ketchup-y side (so it sticks) then turned onto the fish.

Don't forget to crush the two slices together with the flat of your hand. Then slice in half (if you're feeling delicate) and eat.

Amazingly delicious and very, very filling. You will not need two.

The Secret of Sherlock Holmes

I saw this play by Jeremy Paul with JB and EH on its original run, and, unlike many critics, I enjoyed it quite a lot. (Despite the fact that, as my mother pointed out, there were no women in it. To be fair, there were only 2 men in it, and they were Holmes and Watson.)

However, it is coming round again! This time with Peter Egan as Holmes. Peter Egan?! I like him, but Holmes? Let's see.


I made a vegetable soup yesterday for A to have for dinner (I was going out). I just  enjoyed the leftovers for my brunch today, despite the escapee bit of thyme from the bouquet garni which left irritating bits of stick for you to pick out as you ate it. Gah. That'll teach me (not) to rustically zizz it up a bit, rather than blitz it to a smooth puree and pass it through the seive.

This soup went as follows:

1) Chunk up a 3 decent sized carrots, a medium onion and a good-sized leek. While you're doing that, put a pan on a medium heat, and let it get nice and hot. You'll also need 2 good-sized potatoes, peeled and diced, but we won't be using them 'til later.
2) Put a big slug of good olive oil, and a knob of butter in the pan. When the butter starts sizzling, put the carrots, onion and leek in, and sweat them down until the onions are translucent and the leeks are wilted. Then add the potato.
3) Add a small pinch of garam massala and stir through. This doesn't make it spicy, it just does a bit of flavour and appetite enhancement
4) Add 2 pints of stock. I used chicken stock, but a vegetable stock would probably be better.

Brief aside about stocks.

Liquid stocks from the shops are all pretty great, but stock cubes are still way too salty. Why don't people make good stock cubes? They don't *have* to be that salty. Does anyone know of any that aren't? That said, Knorr's liquid stocks are also horribly salty; I made a mistake and bought a bottle because it didn't say "Knorr" on the online grocery description when I was buying stock-cupboard stock. Don't do it; they're nasty.

5) Add a bouquet garni of bay leaves and thyme [try not to let evil bits of the thyme twig you get at this time of year escape from the herby bondage]
6) Add a star anise and a few black peppercorns. Ideally, wrap them in a little bit of muslin, tied up with string so that you can fish them out later
7) Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon

Simmer for 20 minutes (or so) with a lid on the pan, until the spuds are tender, then..

8) Add a teaspoon of Marmite, and stir it in thoroughly. I love marmite in soups
9) Add a tablespoon ("a bit of a glug") of medium-sweet sherry, or madeira. I used sherry. It really is delicious. You can't tell what it is exactly, it just adds some more depth to the veg flavours. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes
10) Roughly blitz with a hand blender or blitz 'til smooth in a proper blender
11) Balance the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a little more lemon juice

Now, ideally, wait! Wait! Make it after lunch for dinner; or tomorrow. Let it cool down to room temperature, then heat it up again when you want to eat it. It'll taste much better.

Hotel Telly

 Even in the UK, hotel telly is rubbish.

I was reduced to watching quite the worst Sherlock Holmes TV Movie I have ever seen. 

It starred Edward Woodward. I like Edward Woodward. But as Holmes? *shudder*.
Anthony Andrews was Moriarty. Moriarty, it turns out, is an only-slightly-more-embittered Sebastian Flyte, cast back a generation.

This is it:

They are enjoying themselves fully, immersed in the terrible, terrible dialogue. Putting the subtitles up added to my enjoyment. I could read the line before they said it, and try to imagine how they were going to spit it out.