Saturday, 20 February 2010

Not so PC

I've followed with great interest recently the cases in the British press of householders protecting their properties and their families against thugs or thieves - only to find themselves warned or arrested because the police considered that they may have stepped over the line by using more than "reasonable force"

Not that many years ago, I was attacked at my front door by, quite frankly, a couple of nutters who had been convinced by a drunken mate of theirs that I was the cause of his spectacular downfall. Truth was, his wife had left him, and the country, and his not inconsiderable income had gone because he'd, to be blunt, p***ed it up against a pub wall. I'd refused to support the lifestyle to which he would have liked to become accustomed. I may be soft, but I ain't stupid.

So he hired a couple of thugs. So, "Nothing personal mate, you don't us, but we have a job to do" they said. The resulting altercation left one of them with a broken wrist, the other with a rather sore head, and both of them staggering after a rapidly disappearing get-away car, before the police arrived.

Guess their mate failed to inform them that I might be slight and skinny, but I was brought up in a very rough area.

The reaction of The Great British Constabulary? That I was a wimp. I should have 'finished the job'. I should have held 'what's left of them' until they arrived. That as a married father of young children, I should have 'broken their bloody necks', and I should be 'ashamed of myself'.

It was gratifying that a few months later to be told by the police that they had discovered who was behind the attack, paid him a visit, and because their hands were tied by lack of evidence, left him "under his desk, wetting himself and crying like a baby, but otherwise unharmed, sir". And left behind an coincidently dropped name. (Chuckle!)

Which, all in all, is a satisfactory result. But it saddens me that in a few short years, Political Correctness and Performance Targets have taken over to such an extent that would nowadays be impossible. And arresting a householder for defending their own? Perish the thought.

Here's a couple of Coppers Blogs. Their funny, ironic, but make some quite serious points.

PC Bloggs - Diary of a twenty first century Police Officer

Police Inspector Blog (Inspector Gadget)

Both have published books based on their blogs - highly recommended.


In case, by the way, you've wondered why I post in large text, it's because some Stroke Survivors have vision problems. My apologies to those who use small screens, laptops and net-books.

You'll find me around the UK Stroke association. I'll let you work out which one is me :)

Monday, 15 February 2010

Follow the Bear

It was the 24th anniversary of Bear and I meeting yesterday. It wasn't a typical boy meets girl situation either. I lived alone, and liked it that way. She, 19 years old, and almost 10 years my junior, spotted this bloke she wanted, and within a week moved in. The next month saw her frequently sat outside my front door on a suitcase.

When one day I opened my front door and found a determined and scowling young lady, arms crossed, 8 hours after I'd dumped her and luggage on my door step, I thought "Hmmm, interesting....."

Friends and relatives regularly buy her Paddington Bear Teddies (It's an in joke - the clue is on the label). Indeed, while they call her Pads, I prefer to call her The Bear. Because she's a grizzly.

24 years, and 3 children later, we're still going strong. I wouldn't have her any other way :)

Wednesday, 10 February 2010


Guess it had to happen one day.

It would seem I'm going to be a granddad.

Should point out I have a daughter from a previous marriage, who's hitting her late twenties, but
I haven't seen her since she was seven. So it's a bit bitter-sweet. I still keep her cup in our cupboard in case one day, y'know.....

But Chuffin' 'Eck I'm going to be a Grandpa and it's official !! My 21 year old got like negative, negative, then positive on one of those commercial tests, then did a 'pee test' for the docs and, well, her first midwives appointment is early March, because their a bit busy :) Meanwhile, she throws up if she has a cig (hah!) throws up in the morning, throws up after a coffee, aches everywhere, but.....

I am so chuffed. I'm going to be a Grand Dad !!

Bear, meanwhile, walked slowly into the kitchen, shut the door, and wouldn't come out for half an hour. Bless.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Call me Crazy

Or even bonkers* :)

At, well, I can't be exact because my bedroom clock is a load of wotsit, but my internal clock said 03:06 am. I shot bolt up awake absolutely wide awake, which is no mean feat, utterly convinced that errm, I'm not sure how to describe it....

Something moved from where it should have been. I don't mean furniture and stuff. I mean something about the way things were, from where they should have been. So I shuffled downstairs, and half way down, the Elder Cat started yowling, and scratching at the front door to get out. Then the local dogs started barking, and the cat was getting desperate, so I opened the door, let her out, and followed her as she shot up the path.

Looking down the road, I noticed a few people were stood at the end of their paths in their dressing gowns looking confused and gosh, it was cold. There were a few bedroom lights on too. The local magpies and rooks were wide awake and scattering overhead.

After a few freezing minutes, I went indoors, waited for the old girl to come back in, and went back to bed. At 06:24 (checked on this computer) Sniff the cat did the same again, but I didn't get the same sense.

My first impulse was that it was a minor earthquake. There was one last year in the Stratford area that felt like an express train going through our living room, many miles from here, that caused no damage. But I've checked online and all I can find is :

February 07, 2010
Time: 13:17:47.6
Lat./Lon.: 51.956 -4.281
National Grid: 243.3 km E, 231.1 km N
Depth: 7.9
Magnitude: 1.2

So it's not that then.

Any ideas?

*not quite right, off their head, sandwich short of a picnic.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Oh, my....

It just had to happen, dinnit.

Had a 9 o'clock in the morning conference call to Tokyo, Japan, Tokyo Time. Tokyo is GMT +9 hours.

Picture the scene. I have a perfectly good two monitor and web cam set up set up on my desk. I can, and do use that for face-to-face conversations often. However, it's a little uncomfy for lengthy conversations, because I have my desk and computer set up on my left, the dining table on my right, and my rather comfortable Wheels, which doubles as my computer chair, sandwiched in-between.

With me in it. Ahead of me is my rather nice 42 inch tv.

It means I usually have to twist to the left to face the camera.

Since I have a hdmi input free on the tv, I thought, run the output that usually serves a monitor to the television instead, stretch the webcam across and plonk it on the tv stand. That way, I can comfortably face forwards. The camera was a bit wobbly, but a bit of blu-tak fixed that. With me so far? :)

Back to the time zones. 0900 in Tokyo is midnight gmt. The mob had retired for the night. I'm alone (hurrah!) I carefully set up the web-cam, angling it up so covered about tummy up.

There I am, best dress shirt, posh tie, suit jacket, chatting away. After about 15 minutes, I discovered that, contrary to English perceptions, Japanese businessmen do indeed have a sense of humour.

Unknown to me, the heat from my (Japanese made) television was slowly melting the blu-tak, and it slowly, slowly, dipped downwards. Below waist level. Guess who, thinking it wasn't necessary, was wearing nothing but his rather brief underwear?

Me, that's who. For the best part of 5 mins, they'd been talking to my nether regions, perfectly straight faced. But once one guy started laughing, that was it. Worse, it took me 2 mins. to notice why.

Now I'm the "Crazy Englishman". Oh, my, oh my, oh my.....

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

I say tomato..

One of the things about being a stroke survivor - particularly if, like me, you are prone to further mini-strokes despite being on half a ton of pharmaceutical medication - is that you're looking for alternative recipes.

I've rarely over the years used ready meals or sauces, and I haven't been in a pub more than once a year for nearly 30 years, and then only for the beer and Christmas traditional carols:)

However, as much as I love cooking, I've had to have a look at what I cook and make sure I'm not overdoing it with the salt (mainly). I'm told I'm pretty good at gravy's soups and sauces. I'm not a salt avoider, on the basis that a little bit can make a difference, and my dietician agrees.

However, I've found it's the simple stuff I have to avoid, like tomato ketchup, and baked beans because their high salt, high sugar. Don't be fooled by the labels.

Below is a simple homemade Tomato sauce. If your looking at it and thinking, hmm, that's a pasta sauce with a preservative, you'd be quite right. Killed two birds with one stone there :) I'm not going to give a exact amounts here - that spoils the fun. Play !

Tomato Ketchup.

400g (14 oz) Fresh and/or Tinned Tomatoes.

A good slice of fennel chopped. Well, looking at a fennel bulb, maybe 1/4 inch top to bottom?

Fresh Chilli - depends how much 'tang' you want. I use a teeny bit, chopped.

Coriander - I prefer a handful of fresh, but a teaspoon of powder is fine.

A pinch of black pepper, and likewise, sea-salt. One finger and thumb, no more.

1 desert spoon lemon juice, or 1/4 of lemon . If your using a fresh lemon, just throw 1/4 in.

1 large red onion, finely chopped, preferably minced.

3 cloves of garlic. Pull them out of the bulb, put them on the counter and beat the heck outa them.
THEN peel them - much easier. Then if you you want to squash them - hit em with a rolling pin.

1/2 finely chopped pear. Yup. Apple will do. Otherwise, if you realy must, 1/2 tsp brown sugar.

More to come....


Put the ingredients, except for tinned tomatoes in a thick bottomed pan, with a good glug of olive oil, on a low heat. Put the lid on. Simmer for 20 mins. That, in my opinion is the important bit. It belends the flavour.

Keep an eye on the onions and garlic, and make sure it doesn't burn. Add the tomatoes, and a cup of water. Not an American (8 oz) cup - just a cup of water, and bring to a simmer - don't boil, simmer until it's thick.

Liquidise it. So far you have a nice pasta sauce.

At this point, if you add a good dash of white/red wine vinegar, and reduce again, you have a tomato ketchup. If it doesn't thicken for you as much as you like, add (French) potato flakes, UK, cornflour, or USA anything as long as it gets thick :) But, I've found mashed potato works fine in an emergency.

I've found it keeps with the vinegar for 6 months in a cool dark place or the fridge.