Wednesday, 29 February 2012


Treating myself to some home made Peruvian ceviche (pronounced say-vee-chay) this evening.

In Peru it's something of a national treat - they even have a ceviche day in June. I was introduced to this method of cooking while on my travels in the seventies.

First prepare a home made sweetcorn, potato and apple salad. You know the thing. I'll be going for a supermarket salad pack with chopped apple, tinned sweetcorn and - ye small gods forgive me - a mix of home made mayonnaise, black pepper and salad cream from a bottle. I know. Sacrilegious.

Don't worry about anything wilting. This is very quick. The beauty of ceviche is it's simplicity, but don't let the simplicity fool you. Here in Britain we tend to cook our fish using heat. This is cooked cold.

You may well have noticed I'm well into my pickles, and this perhaps where my pickling habit got it's hooks in me. The more 'specialist' - by that read for personal use because of the expense - doesn't use vinegars, but citrus. It's not good to waste the excess citrus fluids once the fruits and/or veg have been eaten.

Ceviche is traditionally prepared using leche de tigre, that is, lime juice that has had chilli pickled in it, and in my case, celery and onion. I'm not sure the latter two add anything, but I like onion and celery in other dishes :)

I prefer to slice from whole fish, any fish, it's good to experiment, and slice very thin slices. Rinse in cold water. Sprinkle with a fine sea salt, and strain the citrus - in my case, lime - over the slices. I'll be using some bass.

Serve immediately. Immediately? What happened to the cooking? The lime begins to cold cook the fish. You'll notice the edges of the fillets will begin to take clear, as the protein in the fish breaks down. Try it :)
If you don't mind experimenting, try a large fillet of fish, with a good sloshing of lime and/or lemon juice, a pinch of pepper and plenty of crushed garlic (optional) place it in a sealed container in the fridge for a couple of hours or three. Serve.

Though I usually use white fish such as bass, sole, plaice, and haddock or pollock, I've tried this with oily fish such as mackerel and I was pleasantly surprised.

A quick aside. There's nowt wrong with powdered chilli, nor bottled supermarket lime or lemon juice. I'm not THAT fussy. Usually. :)

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

If you go down in the woods today....

The Sun Newspaper, that champions it's "Report a Benefits Cheat Hotline" is really scraping the bottom of the barrel today with an article today about someone disabled having the cheek to have a day out at an amusement park.

Part of their income is the carers allowance her hubby receives. As they claim income support, he won't get the £58 a working family would. Nearer £27. And carers allowance has strict conditions attached, for instance that they have to provide care, day and night for at least 28 hours a week. Assuming you could hold down a full time job, and do those 28 hours, that works out at a measly £2 an hour to care.

Oh, hang on a minute. Unemployed, and caring for a disabled person full time? Make that 96 pence an hour for AT LEAST 28 hours. £00.96 !

The Sun in it's wisdom fails to mention that.

Disgusted of Llangadog, who is probably disappointed not to be named said :- "She's been on benefits about ten years. It's a joke. She is paid all that money for a bad back and goes on roller coasters."

How dare they have fun? Out? Out? Fun? Shouldn't be allowing people with bits that don't work well - out.

Right, fair enough. She was unwise, and was likely to make her health worse. But the media and government winging about disability benefits fraud, currently running at 0.5% of the total Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) fraud problems should not force people to be afraid to go out, and worse, enjoy themselves.

I'm afraid I'm in trouble then. Twice in two days I've hung wobbling onto a Bear for a slow walk to a local shop. A journey that would normally take her 25 minutes alone, across a wild flower field. I sat and rested frequently - no choice - and we threw the ball for the dog. It was fantastic fun.

Won't be doing it for a while. It took us about 50 mins, I hurt so much I can barely shift, and the pain has made it hard to get sleep, so I'm exhausted. But it was worth it.

Hey, that's three times this year I've left the house, and it's only February. Cool. I suppose I should be careful, eh?

Monday, 27 February 2012


In suddenly occurred to me as I bashing away with my trusty mortar and pestle that it wasn't too long ago I would probably be accused of witchcraft.

They'd probably be right.

Bloke down the road has had some front teeth roots removed, false teeth fitted, and as result was in pain and had developed an infection. So he was given antibiotics and painkillers. I'm not sure what annoys him more. His discomfort, or the 15 quid it costs him for the prescriptions.

"Can I have some of your famous tooth ache mix Wheelie?" Ah. The toothache mix.

It's horrible, I told him. "Don't care". Gross, I told him "Don't bloody care". You need to keep taking the prescription I told him. He pulled a face. "I tried bonjella" Ah. Localised pain. Any good? "Hell no". I'm not a medic mate. "I don't bloody-well-care-alright?" Sigh.

Toothache, I'd normally say go to the chemist, be good, pay up, and buy, yeah, buy, some clove oil. But I had a quick look, discovered some week old packing well past it's use-by date - no wonder it was infected. Removed it. He's got classic denture rub too.

So I've done a deal. He visits me three times a day with his Amoxicillin and co-codamol. He takes them in front of me. And in return he gets to rinse with my 'magic tooth mix". I don't charge :)

So what is this magic mix? Kitchen cupboard chemistry.

1/2 tsp Ground cloves.

The active ingredient. Today a dentist will still use clove oil. It's 15 bob a pop at the chemist, but an 'infusion' of ground cloves in hot water for a few hours does the same job. It tastes horrible. But after the initial shock, it's an effective localised painkiller. Never, ever gargle with it. You have been warned.

A pinch of Chilli powder.

Yep, you read that right. The active ingredient of chilli's is capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide if you're into biochemistry) Doesn't that give a burning sensation? Oh, yes. Briefly. As anyone who likes a good con-carne will tell you, the nerve endings dull afterwards. It enhances the rapid effect of the clove.

Pinch of Salt.

Salt has long been used to keep things sterile. On it's own, it's a useful gargle for sore throats and a rinse for cuts, and to bathe cuts and burns. Common name, Sodium Chloride. It stings initially. Not to be gargled in this context though.

A good spoonful of Honey

Taste? Certainly. But Honey is a natural antibiotic. It's been used, like, forever, to pack wounds in battle, in poultices. The Romans used it extensively for hundreds of years, and something they no doubt learned from us more civilised Brits.

Flavouring. Anything you like. As I said, without it, it tastes 'orrible. I use lemon juice and a teeny bit of sugar. Almond oil or vanilla seems popular. Not essential.

Stick the lot in a jam jar, add water hot enough to touch, put on a lid, shake vigorously. Remove lid, allow to cool, replace lid, and over a couple of days shake now and again. Rinse, not gargle. This stuff never seems to go off. Naturally.


Why not gargle? Because the action of the cloves will catch the back of the throat, and cause a gag reflex which will make breathing difficult. I know, I've done that. Not good.

I'm a - whatever I am, and you try stuff like this at your own risk,

Friday, 24 February 2012

Aw gawd.

Someone accused a learning disabled neighbour of pinching £10 from them. Someone
else she visits got to hear about it, had a go at her, the lass goes to their home to protest her innocence, and gets a black eye from yet another person for her trouble.

In context
she'd done that before from other people, initially denied it, later admitted it, and repaid it.

So her dad gets brassed off, accusations bounced back and forth, and then I have to bring all my hard won diplomatic skills to prevent all out war. I'm reasonably pleased with the outcome. Got seven people to the 'I'm not talking to them' stage. But they're all taking to me, thank goodness. Better than them kicking seven bells out of each other....

Wassit got to do with me? Because I was there when the alleged theft took place. Unfortunately, as usual, I was invisible. It's not impossible that it happened, if you can move faster than a speeding bullet. In the end, I got everyone involved to notice I can be quite, quite, visible when I have to be.

The sad thing is that the youngish lady accused of the theft is addicted to cannabis leaves. 'Weed'. By all ye small gods, These bleeding heart reformers who want to see drugs legalised should get off their pseudo-intellectual high horses and get down and dirty with people like me who deal with those on the ground.

Violence and dispute and the potential breakdown of a community over a tenner. Sheesh :(

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

I've somehow managed to 'follow' myself. Don't ask me how. How's that for ego surfing? :)

I've found this intriguing technique to get some time to myself. Put the TV on, nod, "yeh, yeah" a lot, and pick a program no-one but I like. They glaze over, get bored and wander off. Old episodes of Time Team are working a treat at the moment......

Folks, not doing too well at the moment.

Oh, we're fine as a family, no bills to worry about. Seriously. Not a one. Odd nowadays I'm told.

Nah, the pain in the ribs is making sleep difficult, and I've only ever done 4 hours a night anyway. Not sure why it is, but bits'n'pieces I've worked so hard to get working, like, forever, seem to slipping back to their previous state.

That's bad because I'll wobble more, fall over more, despite the little rails around the house on the stairs, bathroom, in our two toilets, entrance, exit, upstairs and downstairs (Yes. Two Toilets! aren't we posh!?) because I reach and miss. Co-ordination is all to pot.

Bear, ever hard working and practical, suggests that I've kept going through pure willpower for yonks and that the lack of sleep has eroded it. I railed against that rather, because it suggests the little improvements I fought so hard for for so long were mind over matter. I get how powerful the mind is, but I'm not sure I agree.

Anyways. I've agreed to go to the doctors. When I'm ready. But no hospitals. No way. NO Chance. Ain't gonna happen.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Bless :(

Vicar Murder

While the top echelons of the Anglican churches fret about issues of theology such as gay marriage and women bishops, there's a quiet army, while doubtless being aware of those issues, have just got on with the job.

There are numerous labels. Vicar. Pastor. Mrs Jones next door. Because of their beliefs, they open their homes to the most vulnerable of society. Something those outside religion would often be reticent to do.

They work with drug addicts, drunks, alcoholics, people with violent tendencies, those with mental illness, domestic abuse, drifters, struggling families, those who'd rather spend their Jobseekers on an expensive take-aways and beer than cook. Beaten up prostitutes, thieves, drug users padding out their income at someone else's expense.

There's a ground force of those who care for others. Not only Jesus believers. They're quiet and unrecognised and just on with the job. In the established churches they get varied amounts of training, mostly inadequate for the task they voluntary take on.

They learn very quickly that they are making themselves vulnerable and opening their homes to many that society consider to be beneath notice and undeserving of help, at great personal cost.

They don't do it for accolades and glory. There is no X-Factor for caring.

They've no time for deep theology. Just feeding the hungry, keeping the vulnerable warm, and risking life and limb.

And sometimes they pay with their lives. Bless you Rev. John Suddards

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Playing with the technology today.

I started at about 8 years old building valve radios/transmitters from bits I could cadge, obtain, snaffle, purloin. I went on to become one of the Gang Of Four at our school who were excused lessons to attend the then Shirecliffe college computer courses in 1970-75.

To put that in context, I was also doing the same thing with bicycle parts too (other peoples), and to fess up, bribing the Alsations behind the corner shop with my Dads best steak, nicking the own-branded bottles from their yard and taking them around to the front shop and getting a refund. If you're old enough remember how it worked back then with bottles. Extreme scrumping.


2012 brings me with a now aged PS3, an Android HTC phone and a 5 year old flat screen TV - and this cantankerous home-built computer. I'm not into games much, (well as much as I'd like to - but £45 a pop? No ta.) So I have this technology, vastly underused, and I found an App that enabled me to connect through my home network to the PS3. Interesting.

I've been watching some 'Myth Busters' snippets from the Internet to my mobile, over my home network, home network to the PS3 beastie, through to my TV. A teeny bit jerky, but how cool is that? :)

Easily compares to the little bit of work my mates and I did on paper tape, punch cards and the then ageing IBM golf ball printers for Apollo 14. No monitors available to the monkeys behind the scenes in those days.

And enough time for a quick (unofficial) Home made Text Adventure over Janet

Mary, Paul, Peter, wherever you are, Saluté :)

Friday, 17 February 2012

Spring Resolution

........ not to be so grumpy and serious.

Well, grumpy anways :)


I've nagged Bear to get me some fresh fish and shell fish. Non of this breaded stuff. Good old gal hates whole fish. She doesn't like the way they look at her. But, she bit the bullet and got me
a couple of Sea Bass. Whole Bass. Heads, eye's, guts everything.

The proviso is that I gut and clean them myself. Couple of days later, one is in the freezer, one is still in the chiller. How the heck do I gut and fillet a fish with one hand? Grip it between my knees? Answers on a post card please :)


Viewer warning. Serious here.

I've had, and to be honest, not for the first time, an odd experience. I do have an email friend I could ask about this privately, but I suspect I'm not alone with this.

My lasses cousin had, until yesterday, a cat for about 6 years. Lovely chap he was.

I was very distracted at 4 am while watching the news, by an intense - I've no idea how to describe it - image? sensation? internal video? My Bear calls it spidey sense. That Felix was about to be run over.

We found out that evening he was. I chose to do nothing. I could have prevented it. Keep Felix in because......? And if they had and it didn't happen? Or they ignored me and it did? Anyways, a very distressed family.

My lad has lost his job at a major international bank :(

Thursday, 16 February 2012

It was Bear and I's 26 th anniversary of the day we met t'other day.

She was 19, I was 27.

We were looking at some photo's her dad took when she was 13 or 14, and it was creepy.

We remembered she was one of my pupils I taught ice skating at Silver Blades rink in 1979, when she was 14, and I realised she was the little twot I had to threaten to chuck off my bus a couple of years later for having a go at some poor chap on a late night run to Stocksbridge (I was the driver with a bloomin' useless clippie.)

I remembered it because a conductor was called in for discipline to head office with a very similar personnel number to mine after a complaint. It took Arundel Gate (the bosses) a while to realise the poor chap was (a) A conductor (b) doing a totally different route, and (c) He was a different colour, with an utterly different name, and twice my hight.

Still docked him half a days pay for the time he spent in the queue. I wasn't popular.

Oops then, and Oops today. Ahem.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

It's life Jim....

A month ago we received one of those shiny multicoloured gung ho 'aren't we wonderful' mags from our local council. Tucked away in the middle of the rag was an article on "How the new housing benefit rules will affect you".

It was interpreted, for social housing tenants there would a £12 a week surcharge for any tenancy for every bedroom 'spare' more than the number of people. More, for a couple, they insisted, that's one bedroom for the pair.

So, for instance, you have a family of three, in a three bedroomed house, where two are a married couple, you get hit with a surcharge of £624 a year. Keep in mind that people get housing benefit on a low income.

Contrary to public misconception, not everyone on a council estate is unemployed. It would be fair to say there are, at least in my area, a lot of people are in part-time, transient or low paid jobs or disabled who are entitled to housing benefit.

Cue a flutter of panic. If the council say it it must be true? Yes? Nope. That hasn't stopped their carefully worded bull causing a lot of worry, and people knocking on my door magazine in hand to 'prove it'.

Remember, this was a month ago. It was passed by the Commons a couple of weeks later, went to the Lords yesterday, amended and sent back to the Commons. It will take awhile, but it will pass again, like the other eight amendments the government lost on using the Financial Privilege rules from 1634. Effectively, the Lords can be overruled on the grounds it's essential for the financial security of the country. End of discussion.

On the level of disability benefits I'm on at present, we won't be affected. Yet. But their twiddling with disability so who knows..... But that wasn't mentioned. Remember, no disabled person chooses the level of disability benefit they receive, work related or non-means tested. The Department of Works and Pensions does.

Either way, no bugger is going to insist that I should sleep with my wife if I don't want to. Legislate that.

Whatever. But it's annoyed me that unnecessary distress has been caused by a local council presuming the passage of a Bill. I've had people asking me whether they can have a child from a first marriage stop a few days a week to use their guest room. If their husband works shifts or nights, do they have to be disturbed? Their disabled with a condition that requires storage for specialist equipment? Their married and sleep apart? In a civil partnership or married and one or both are disabled, or what happens if we want more kids?

You might wonder why their asking me. Because the council has withdrawn funding for the local advice centre. It's democracy Jim, but not as we know it.

If you're very brave, read this...........

Monday, 13 February 2012

Slam Dunk.

It's just +4.4 °C outside, and my mate Mr. T. and one of daughters is downsizing to a smaller council house, from a four to a two bedroom.

His oldest daughter is travelling every day to get the new place ship-shape, and of course there's no gas or electricity, so she's dressed like an Inuit stripping layers of wall-paper with copius buckets of hot water we provide. I think she's bonkers. But way to go, girl.

I'm really pleased for him as he and his younger daughter (she has learning difficulties) have rattled around a house far too big for them to cope with, physically and financially for far too long. It's really great to see a family pull together.


Since Mr. T. has is moving less than two mins away, I'm wondering if I'll be allowed out unaccompanied to visit, sans wheels? I'm not going to hold my breath.

He's a real darts fanatic, and he "needs a mug to hammer". Should be intriguing. A bloke with two very Wobbly Knees versus a Bloke With a Stroke.

It has a certain comedic value, don't'y'know? Do you think I should tell him that I was a team captain some years ago? Nah. Perhaps not? Shhhh! :)

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Double Grrrr!

I'm chuffin' furious.

A local smack head is claiming they have information that I have been obtaining pain killers on the black market. Total and absolute cobblers. I unfortunately heard through a neighbour.

I'm diabetic. I don't have to pay for prescriptions. I don't have to pay for painkillers, or anything else.

One phone call, and they're delivered, free of charge. But they won't know that.

Looks like my doppelgänger has struck again. It's beginning to look like a police matter.

Addendum. Right that's that sorted. Not that I'm expecting any result in a hurry, but I was surprised how helpful they were, and they were straight about how much they could do and potential pitfalls. Fair enough. Much happier :)

Friday, 10 February 2012

Oh heck.

In helluva lot of pain over the last couple or three weeks. I hope our visitors haven't taken offence that I've been washed out and asleep, when I can get it, on the couch.

Pain is a warning signal that something is a bit out of sorts. I wish I could turn the alarm off. Man, it's bad, and then some. It's really annoying that it's on my left - non-stroked -side. I could really do without it. It's been three weeks now.

It isn't so much the pain. It's the way, if this makes any sense, it fogs your mind and gets in the way of thinking straight. I know what I want to do, but it's the pain is so overpowering. sheesh.

In case you're wondering why I haven't fetched some painkillers from the docs? Because they are likely to be morphines. I'd rather have the pain than be stoned out of my tiny mind.

Sunday, 5 February 2012


I'd forgotten how much a couple of knackered ribs felt.

I'd also forgotten it also gives you earache. I'll let you work that one out.

Long, long ago, aside from various chest operations, I developed an uncanny knack of falling from high places. Cliffs, walls, ravines. A lot of them quite notable. Mam Tor comes to mind. That one broke two ribs and both wrists too.

Free climbing? Mountaineering? Heck no. Fell running. Here's a map, a compass, those are your way-points lad, see later. On the Mam Tor occasion, I was chatting to a couple of nice german lads, and as they turned away one of their rucksacks hit me in the back. You don't feel a thing until much later.

I, out of gratitude later, applied to join Edale Rescue. "Nah lad" explained a soft Scottish brough. "Y'jinxed" :)

I once managed to fall from the head of a lion in Trafalgar Square. Don't do it. Gives you heck of a headache. Wrong turn maybe?

Those who know me now knows I'm terrified of heights. It's called extreme aversion therapy......

Friday, 3 February 2012

A quick share...

My feeling is, and has been for sometime that the drastic welfare reforms have largely slipped under the public radar.

Anyways, I won't waffle on. Please take a look at this. Death of Decency