Saturday, 31 October 2009


Hope everyone realises the last post was tongue-in-cheek.... (cheesy grin!)

You won't find that I post much about politics here, but the present row in the press about cannabis has irritated the heck.

A quick summery. The UK govs chief advisor has been asked to resign, because he said that 'ecstasy', cannabis and LSD are less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes. Mr David Nutt wanted a classification by harm approach to substance abuse - fair enough.

But, and quite rightly, the chap is a scientist, and a good one. So he deals with the evidence he discovers and gets hold of and analysis in a sterile environment. So the evidence that leads to his conclusions is empirical, and expresses it mathematically. It has to be, it's the nature of the job.

But like most scientists, he misses the point. People aren't data points. They can't be assessed statistically, because there are other factors that don't on the surface, seem to directly apply in a an assessment of harm. It'd make life more complicated, and more importantly, more expensive, and clinical studies are driven by cost grants.

I'd argue, that his arguments ignore the supply chain. The guys that supply LSD, Cannabis, illegal alcohol and cigs share a common trait, and that is they are violent, ruthless, businessmen. They'll do what they have to do to make money, and that money is reinvested to make more money, no matter what it takes. Prostitution, slavery, illegal substances, vat fraud.

If you smoke cannabis or skunk, they may well import 50-100% pure substances, but by the time they hit their target audience, it being diluted by tobacco, garden weeds and brick dust. They'll be lucky if they get 1% purity.

Max Profit doesn't give a monkeys bum about the human cost and debris in the pursuit of profit, and whatever government or it's advisor expect of them, even if you legalise it, whatever 'it' may be, there's always going to be an underground trade in cheap products for quick profit for the supplier.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Like Wot She Said

"Y'can tell a Yorkshireman, but y'can't tell him much"

I know, it's a golden oldie. Which figures, considering it came from 'Er Indoors, aka The Bear.

She's quite right of course. Y'can't. Not this Yorkshireman. She's only allowed to say so because she comes from a village closer to Barnsley. Barnsley, or Baaarnsley as she calls it, everyone knows, is only honorary Yorkshire, due some unusual diplomatic cross border relations some hundreds of years ago between their good selves and Sheffield. Quite what those relations were have been lost in the mists of time.

All I can find out on Google is that it was some considerable time before t'internet was invented, and therefore the information is not reliably recorded. I have a sneaking suspicion it was my relations fault.

Sheffield, as we all know, is the true Yorkshire. It is also said that "If tha does owt f'nowt, tha does it for thisen, and never for minimum wage". It must have been a helluva favour.

Note - Edited because The Bear threatened to take me and my wheels to the top of a hill and let go. Wow, what a woman :) Also added Barnsley, Baarnsley, and Yorkshireman to my browsers dictionary. So now it's true.


Posted (as a reply, I should add) something light hearted about sex and disability on The Stroke Association forum, Talk Stroke. I was very cautious and discreet. At the end of a list of posts by carers basically saying "no chance buster, after looking after him/her, I'm too knackered". My post, as was theirs, wiped out by The SA. Three times, which kinda sums it all up. Story of my life. Funny :) Stroke survivors have normal lives don't'cha'know :)

Assuming everyone else is like anyone else I guess. Which, I doubt. In fact, heck I hope not.

What is 'normal'?

Saturday, 17 October 2009


Ok, not stroke related. Again. But as Terry Pratchett (bless 'is cotton socks) says in one of his books - "bugger it, bugger it, bugger'em". If you get the chance, read his stuff. Highly recommended, if you want a chuckle muscle transplant.

Uh, oh, got a journalist added (added? is there such a word?) as a follower. Quite a wonderfully scatty one too :) Now I'm in trouble..... ~chuckle~ !

Ahum. Anyways.....

This, for me, is the most satisfying time of the year.

Bottling, pickling, preserving, and most of the ingredients free. The local fields are bursting with blackberries, and seasonal fruit, such as apples, pears and plums are going to find themselves turned into jams and chutneys. There's something very rewarding about picking it yourself and seeing the finished product. Other than that, I insist 'Er Indoors looks for 'buy it quick before we chuck it' fruit and veg offers at the supermarket. Three cheers for my grandparents who lived through the war years.

I've been doing this for thirty years, and being one always conscious to watch the pennies, and hating waste - heck, even cauliflower leaves get turned into a creamy, peppery soup with garlic and croutons - I find it very satisfying. Oh, already said that.

Until about three years ago I only made it for the home, and since I use seasonal stuff, found October through to Christmas was my busy season. With All Hallows, Bonfire and Christmas in quick succession, Home Made's are our little bit of luxury. Besides it's kinda nice, particularly in winter, to taste a self made jam and remember the freshness of the fruit from summer.

Don't let the recipes for jams on the net fool you. Sure, you can buy fancy jars. Yup, there's them there fancy 'waxed' disks, jam thermometers and expensive preserving sugars, pectin powders and liquids. I've even discovered you can buy breadmakers with a 'Jam' function. These things all work too. You'll save a lot though using a well washed jar scrounged from a neighbour, kept hot. You don't need a jam thermometer. A spoonful of jam on a cold plate - when it's ready it it will set and wrinkle if pushed with a finger. You don't need pectin either - the juice of a lemon and lemon rind or a little sour apple do the job. Need a disc for the top?
A cup a pencil and a roll of greaseproof paper do the same job. And use ordinary sugar. Nothing fancy - equal parts sugar to fruit. Honey is a great bactericide, so substitute honey for sugar or add a spoonful to the mix.

But autumn and winter are pickles and chutneys. Unlike jams, they last forever. Well, mine do, so there's not really such a thing as an excess, assuming it doesn't get eaten :)

About three years ago, as an experiment, I gave (and posted!) relatives and friends jars of home made piccalilli and sweet chilli sauce for Christmas. Oh, my. Guess who's having to make extra piccalilli today so it's well matured for December ? The demand for Wheelielilli is phenomenal.

I won't bother posting a recipe. Google it. It's so simple. A few tips though. Add a few spoonful's of chopped red, yellow and green peppers to each jar. They add a splash of colour., and they add to any sweetness.

Try Malt Vinegar. It'll give a darker sauce, but a gorgeous flavour. Likewise if you use a dark cane sugar.

If you can't get (or don't want to pay for) shallots don't feel guilty about it. Chopped spring onion, fairly big pieces, added raw to the mix before you pour the mustard/vinegar sauce on
works well, as does cheap, own-brand supermarket silver skin onions :)

A good Piccalilli should have a bit of crunch, and that's definitely true when it comes to the Cauliflower. I have my own recipe, but those on the web invariably say "boil in the sauce for 10-15 minutes" DON'T DO IT !! Instead, take your time with the cauliflower. Sit in the kitchen, put the radio on, and using a small knife work your way through the beastie cut the florets at an even size. Try and keep the stems short, but don't discard them. Put them aside. Afterwards, chop the stems into tiny pieces, and add them to your bowl.

That will take awhile. While your doing that, put a big pan - bigger than you need - on the stove with lots of water and a spoonful of sea salt, and bring it to a rapid boil. When you've finished, throw it in the pan. That'll cool it, but wait for it to come back to the boil, and when it begins to boil, time it for three (3) mins. Immediately sieve it into the sink and run it under the cold tap to stop it cooking. Allow to drain, then use as per the recipe. Voila, cooked but crunchy cauli.

Phew. Give me a little while and I'll post a quick and simple recipe for a sweet Chilli sauce/dip/preserve, and some tips on how to use it as an unusual preserve.

By the way, 'Er indoors went to my me some camouflage trousers t'other day. Couldn't find 'em. Went to the doctors, said I'd got back pain. He said it's my age. I said, "I want a second opinion." He said "You're ugly".
I bought some HP sauce the other day. It's costing me 6p a month for the next 2 years.

And finally.... I went to the doctors the other day and I said, 'have you got anything for wind', so he gave me a kite.... ahum.

Thursday, 8 October 2009


I'm one of those odd people who read statistics, even though I think their a load of old cobblers. I guess it's because I have a knack for them - forget psychics, just show me a mess of figures. One of my old school reports - I must have been the grand old age of 9 - says "this lad is either going to be the next Sherlock Holmes, or a Pathologist."

True, dead things don't bother me. At 5 years old I had dissected everything I could get my hands on, and by 15 I was trying to take apart any willing young lady I could get my hands on to see how they worked. Didn't find out then, don't know now.

As the aforementioned Mr. Holmes observed :- "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"

My dad often said the same about my mother. Over 40 odd (very odd) years later, how right he was.

Couldn't see myself doing pathology. In the end, did a brief spell as a butcher, so yon teacher was almost right. But man, do I know my meat.

Holmes was a selfish, arrogant smack-head. That didn't appeal to me. So stats it's been.

It was with interest then that I poured over the crime stats for my area. Apparently, in this little leafy corner of our fair city, we have, not in any particular order, above average to high incidences for burglary, same for assaults on the person, zero for murder, above average for attempted murder, zero for rape and sexual assault, car crime, including theft,(average) all categorised according police attendance, and marked on some peculiar map based on political boundaries in colours from yellow (low) pink (average/above average) and bright red (high).

It's true - sort of. But it's a classic case of lies, damn lies and statistics. Criminals are people who have been naughty and have been caught. Everyone else either hasn't been bad, or hasn't been caught yet. This kinda stuff is expressed as incidents per 100 population. That's about every 55 households. My street has about 160 households.

So 'high' might be 2 incidents of any one offence per year. But being local, you know where its at. Shots fired at a home. Uhuh, that's 'im at 49. Him who's house smells funny when you walk past. Car theft? Yup, someone nicked his rather expensive car. He spends some time 'helping police with their enquiries' and 'under protection after hospital treatment'. While he's in there, there's a mysterious fire - during searches police find a cannabis farm. That explains the funny smell and the odd fault on the street light outside. I'm up to five offences?

The other house that had burnt down a couple of years ago - rebuilt, renovated, nice family there now? Same back then. Oh hang on, that was a local smack-head. Call that 10 offences then.

Burglary. Now, no burglar operates in their own area. Why? Because they have to live near their victims. Those victims aren't going to like that. Nor does an illegal cigarette dealer, heroin dealer, car thief or con man.

So if you're ever looking a crime stats for your area, remember, crooks are idiots. If by some mischance they live nearby, they won't for long. But the chances are they don't. The stats are misleading because they imply they are local. The reality is they are targeting your area from the outside. Your area is victim of, not a producer of :)