Snow drama

We’ve just had a dump of snow that has come and gone. Probably at least twice what the UK has had during it’s latest ‘Snowpocalypse’. For example, on Sunday Mrs S and I were driving across to the south west of the Island and big white flakes were coming down like nobody’s business, hitting the ground then disappearing. But then we’re geared up for it over here, all weather tyres and every other car is an AWD or a 4×4. Some AWD’s being more equal than others. The Winter tyre change is just something you do every year. Those with only traction on one axle tend to have a spare set of Winter wheels ready for driving. There’s none of this nonsense with ‘The wrong kind of snow’ either. We get the same kind of cold wet and heavy type of stuff as the UK, and the occasional six inch fall is treated with insouciance. Anything more, well, road clearing is mostly done by local contractors who have their own chainsaws for clearing fallen trees. On rural roads they don’t wait for the Council workers to get out of bed, the problem’s in front of you buddy, you fix it. Likewise, airports and suchlike keep running no matter what. It takes a fall of over a six inches (All right, fifteen point two four centimetres) within twenty four hours to come anywhere close to shutting those down.

Today there’s no snow left except for the odd north facing slope or compacted pile of dirty ice shunted over into a sheltered corner, slowly melting in the rain. Business as usual. No drama. Only a month or so away from Spring. Even then we’ve had serious snow in April, over two feet on one occasion, which was my first encounter with the term ‘snow day’. There’s even been the odd strinkling in June around the 49th parallel. But that’s weather in the northwestern Pacific rim for you. And we’re about the same latitude as Bordeaux, France.

Not that it matters, it’s all Milankovich cycles, Solar irradiance and changes in albedo anyway.

Apart from the cold outside, Windows 10 is screwing with my wireless keyboard and mouse setup. Both started playing up out of the blue two days ago. Tried fixing with the Logitech receiving package, but no improvement. Windows 10 is truly shite. Every update brings new fuckups. I haven’t had this much messing around with an operating system since MS-DOS, which at least had the benefit of being a stable platform. Windows 10 with the latest upgrade is a buggy, unreliable pile of crap. Mostly because I’ve had to go digging through Device Manager to reconfigure the power management settings after this last fucking update. Not just in one, but all devices, from USB hubs to Mice and Keyboards.

From an ex-support technicians perspective, there were only two versions of Windows that were any good. Windows 2000 because with service pack 4 it was almost bulletproof and Windows 7, because it was the last Windows package to do what the bloody hell it was told, and not allow some Microserf to remotely mess around with your well-configured systems. It’s why I used to switch off the latest update until the tech forums reported all clear. XP was barely tolerable, Vista was utter crap and 8.1, well, best avoided if you want my advice. 10 is a complete abortion. The ‘Home’ edition worst of all.

What scrolls my knurd is the constant basic system changes every time a new bell and whistle becomes available. I spend time and energy setting up my laptop to do exactly what I want, when I want it to. I don’t want the fucking thing to keep second guessing me. Firstly it’s annoying, secondly it’s time wasting, and thirdly it’s completely patronising. It’s got to the point that if old Spoonbanger petulantly did drop a nuke on the good old US of A, I’d bloody cheer if ground zero was Microsoft.

Update: on the topic of driving in adverse conditions, I’ve always wondered why, given Northwestern Europes propensity for cold wet weather, that most vehicle retailers don’t simply spend a couple of extra hundred bucks on all weather rubber for their vehicles. The Ice / Mud ‘All Season’ rating would seem to be the most sensible choice, rather than trust to less grippy compounds which are only really effective above 7 Celsius. Not that there’s much advantage because Summer rubber doesn’t add to the grip if you spend half your time (Like the majority of UK drivers) in heavy traffic commutes.

For a personal anecdote, our Geolander G95’s hold the tarmac nicely in all conditions (Tried and tested) from temperatures in the high 30’s Celsius, heavy snow to intense downpours and packed ice. The rear tyres are due to be replaced with a new pair at 130,000KM (80,000 miles) this September. Still with 1mm remaining on the ‘safe’ tread. Wondering which make is best for your shiny tin box? Start here with a 2017 survey.

All of the above is rather academic really, if as JuliaM puts it so succinctly in the comments, “No machine is worth much if the meatsack behind the wheel hasn’t bothered to RTFM!”

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Things to be aware of

Feeling partially human yesterday. Got out of the house from my self-imposed quarantine to pick up some necessary items for my kitchen. A replacement electric hand mixer for my last one that has just died and a new German bladed bread knife which should last a few years. Another worthwhile purchase was one of those magnetic knife holders, which works brilliantly, keeping all my best blades to hand and nicely sharp, instead of losing their edges from being banged around in a kitchen drawer. As well as reducing the risk of Russian Roulette with your fingers every time you go looking for a sharp edge. Or having to resharpen before every use. I also bought some Barkeepers Friend, which is the only stuff I’ve ever found which is really good for cleaning burned-on clag off stainless steel pots and pans or oven glass.

The other good news is that the pain from whatever infection I had has now gone, subsiding into a mild localised itch, which is easy to resist scratching after an application of good old Germolene. Up until relatively recently we couldn’t buy said ointment over here, and Savlon or any other available ointment simply can’t cut the mustard, so we used to have to get visiting friends and family to pick some up for us whenever they’re in the UK. It’s always the same conversation gambit on Skype when they run out of gossip; “Anything we can get for you while we’re in Blighty?” So until it became available via Amazon we used to ask for large tubes of the pink stuff. Then there’s another essential we can’t get here, an insect bite pain relief product from New Zealand called Stingose. So that comes to us from the Australian contingent of the family. Beats the hell out of anything we can get in Canada. We don’t need sting relief that often but when the local mossies are biting, it’s bloody good kit.

The only blot on the horizon is hearing of Longrider’s loss. He’s a good guy, and shit like that shouldn’t happen to good people but it does. I always feel that mere words can seem very cheap when someone loses their soul mate. Any phrases meant to comfort often end up sounding lame, cliched and insincere. However, I’ve used the following stanza in a couple of funeral speeches, wrote it myself some thirty years ago when I thought my days were seriously numbered. LR, hope this helps.

Well maybe I’m around no more,
But what was life to me,
I could laugh and leave it any time I chose,
Yet when night folds itself around you,
And the dark is all you see,
My heart’s still yours when no one wants to know.

Best regards,

Bill

Unclean

“Unclean! Unclean!” Chortled Mrs S.
“Thank you dear.” I responded tersely. She knows I don’t respond well to false sympathy.

I’ve picked up a rather painful but not completely debilitating type of virus infection which means I currently have a bad case of spots before the ankle. Which has led to me popping painkillers like they were sweeties in order to stay half way sane and functional. For which the occasional bit of light relief is required from the late great comedy team of Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe a.k.a The Goons.

Just in case I’m infectious have exiled myself to the spare bedroom. I’d laugh, only that hurts even more. Bugger. Hi-ho. I console myself with the old stoic country axiom; what cannot be cured must be endured. These things last around two weeks maximum if you take care, so I’ve another eight or nine days to go. Note to self; lay in extra Ibuprofen.

Anyway, if my Doctor calls about my set of tests from last week to tell me, “Bill, you’re sick.”
I can reply, “Tell me something I don’t already know. I caught it when I went to get those routine tests you ordered.” Although this dose of the dreaded Lurgi won’t show up in those test results. Infections in the incubation stage are hard to spot.

So if I’m a bit slower than usual answering or approving comments, don’t worry. They’re on my to do list. Or my to don’t list. Whatever. Catch you on the flip side.

All this and it’s started snowing.

Have I missed anything?

We’ve had snow. Nothing much, just a hard sugar frosting which will be gone by tomorrow. So what’s the latest craze? Oh yes, it’s something called the ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ which has been sliding under my radar, so I’m having to play catch up.

Like with the documentary above. Watch it all. Seriously. Food for thought and an antidote to the screaming incoherence from the extreme side of both political aisles. ‘Dark’? Not really methinks. Just depends how naive you are. Or could it be said that the path to enlightenment leads through the darkness of accepting our own ignorance? Hmm. Sounds suitably apocryphal.

This weekend I’ve been introducing Mrs S to the work of Dr Jordan Peterson and the theories of Karl Jung. Her response was, “Why haven’t I come across this before?” I replied that I didn’t know. Which sparked off one of our long in depth conversations where I told her how I’d learned and failed until I found out how to reconcile and control the diverse parts of my personality. From which I derived the thought that there are people out there who rely on others not having integrated their dark side properly (I’m looking at you Skywalker! And your Father.) and thus gained the emotional distance necessary to reason. Perhaps because the only way to access these essentials to becoming a more rounded individual have previously been hidden in academic level psychology courses or been overshadowed by popular religion and new age psychobabble.

Just an afterthought, but why is open discussion of ideas being called the intellectual dark web? I know ‘Dark Web’ is one of those labels invented for the hard of thinking as far as the wide open prairies of the jolly old Interweb is concerned, but ‘intellectual’? Doesn’t that imply that many out in medialand are unable to discuss ‘uncomfortable’ issues like grown ups? Now as far as I can see, the TV talking heads seem to be pushing an agenda whilst not recognising their own blatant biases and how repulsively divisive and dishonest they are being. Whether they are just victims of mindless groupthink or deliberately being obtuse I leave to my last remaining reader’s good(?) judgement.

Indeed, it is my observation that all many talking media heads do is slap a cheap label on something then never actually think or re-examine the issue again, except to react to the label like a dog whistle. Like GMO’s being ‘Frankenfood’s’ or referring to genetic interventions to help would-be parents with a hereditary defect that can be genetically corrected as ‘Designer Babies’. Both of which are highly misleading. As are referring to certain practices being ‘kind’. By way of illustration, the evils of Eugenics and involuntary Euthanasia used to be defined as ‘kind’ by such luminaries as the Fabian Society in the early parts of the 20th century. It was only after large scale experiments conducted in Europe and the Far East between 1933 and 1946 had filled a few million graves that the whole matter was ditched as a really epoch-breaking bad idea. Until recently.

As for Dr Peterson’s online lectures, I do believe Mrs S has become quite a fan. Well, she’s watched ten of his YouTube videos plus a few on related topics this Sunday and she’s already asked me about buying his book; “12 Rules for life, an antidote to Chaos“. I may even send copies to the Stepkids.

A Marxist Joke

I’m very busy at present with a new job, some medical tests my doctor seems to think are essential, despite feeling quite well and full of beans. So not much time to blog. This post has been put together over a week or so concerning a matter than has made me crank the old lips up in an ironic half smile.

Here’s a question. When did the workers begin to seize the means of production? I ask my last remaining reader because it occurs to me that it wasn’t a Marxist at all who made it happen. Not Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Chavez, Maduro or Castro but ironically someone from the other end of the political spectrum.

I was over at Longrider’s blog last week I think, perusing the comments on one post and I suddenly had an epiphany. It’s a fairly simple exercise in applied logic with a large side serving of irony and I think anyone who doesn’t get the joke needs a quick jump start on the old frontal lobes with an ECT machine. I frequently see it said from left wing sources that ‘property is theft’ and that the workers should seize the means of production, but here’s a thing, what if the workers, of whom I count myself a part having spent much of my life as a working man, have already been taking a firm hold on the ‘means of production’ for several decades. At least in the UK. Certainly over here across North America where the practice is widespread.

No, I’m not talking about nationalisation, that’s just the bureaucratic state taking anything it can lay it’s greasy little mitts on. When it comes to actual ownership, the state and the individual are not the same thing, although the ‘State’ may be made up of a certain tranche of individuals it does not constitute an accountable entity. Indeed the ‘state’ is about as unaccountable as it gets with all the arse-covering that traditionally goes on in bureaucratic circles. I’ve seen state ownership first hand and it’s a process of managed decay, stillborn innovation, fear and inward bound loathing.

Now what I’m describing here is the quantum increase in small investors who are investing, crowdfunding, patreoning and supporting a wide variety of ventures all around the world. Literally enabling the means of production in a way that I think even old Karl would have gone “Yeah, Das Kapital, maybe needs a re-write.” Because the factory based society he designed his collectivist philosophy for died during the 1960’s and 70’s.

For my proof I’d first ask this question; where are the massive factories of yesteryear where thousands toiled? Where is the uniformity? In the much depleted corporate world? There are a few big employers, but nothing like the number of big industrial combines that once dotted the landscape. They’ve all been offshored, downsized, diversified and MBA’d. Where are the single workers collectives to ‘seize control’ of all the wealth generation?

The answer is very simple, via old fashioned much-disparaged capitalism. The kind of thing which allows people to put small pots of money in with larger pots to create investment. Pension funds, individual stocks and shares, government insecurities, gilts and all the rest. Through voting shares the individual investor is allowed a say in how a company is run and who runs it. In short, by purchasing shares they now have a small part ownership of the ‘means of production’. In the UK, this universal share ownership was most enthusiastically pushed by no less a person than, wait for it….

Margaret Thatcher.

Karl Marx wouldn’t have seen the joke, but I do.

Everybody loves…

…BC wines. Except for Alberta. Which is about to have its local booze supply cut off. Which will be great for wine importers, unless the NDP leader has a(nother) brain fart and decides that for ‘fairness’ sake, no one in Alberta can buy any wine from anywhere. Until then, importers of wines from everywhere else on the planet should benefit from increased sales. There are good BC Grown Canadian wines, but nothing really spectacular and they’re all pretty limited in distribution.

The news is that we’re having a little inter-provincial trade ‘war’ in Canada over a pipeline which the idiotic BC Provincial Government don’t want built. Denying employment to the very people they say they work for. Between two provincial governments from the same party. Which should tell you something about the Canadian NDP.

Of course Ottawa should have stepped in and cracked heads for this blatantly stupid inter party spat, but they’re the opposition Liberals, who are ‘led’ by the excruciatingly cringe-worthy international joke Justin Trudeau. So they will do absolutely bugger all because, well, ‘it’s 2018’ Duh. Unless of course the alphabet soup, religion of being blown to pieces or Uber-Feminist demographic somehow get involved. As far as the Liberals are concerned, no-one else matters. So they’ll watch the NDP Governments in Alberta and British Columbia go for each other’s throats and hope to profit politically by their misfortune. That and they might have given Federal permission for the pipeline, but they don’t really want it built to appease the rabid environmentalist organisations. Who get funding from the same vested interests as Trudeau did when he got a two million buck boost prior to his election run. Not that they need it. The brainwashing has been very effective out here on the wet coast.

Which is interesting, as is the leak that arch meddler and speculator George Soros is funding an anti-BREXIT campaign to the tune of GBP400,000. Which is pretty small beer for him. That’s chump change from a Billionaires perspective. Is this a very public display of reverse psychology or an “I want the Democracy I pay for” gesture? Or is it a double barrelled move? I have yet to make my mind up.

An old favourite made new

I like Kent, his YouTube channel is well worth a look if you have the time. He does solid grub for outdoorsy folk to provide a warming welcome after a day out in the cold.

Essentially what his ‘mashed potato bombs’ are, apart from being ace comfort food, a different take on potato croquettes (See video below to ‘make from fresh’). Kids especially love them, and they’re a Sticker family Boxing Day favourite. Although don’t let that stop you preparing this treat any damn time of year.

Now I have an alternative method for the same thing which relies on the mashed potato being done British style. Firm, not all soft and creamy like the North Americans prefer. Nor the abomination that used to haunt 1970’s school dinners. When stirred, the British version (at least my preferred method does) tends to form a single mass rather than look like freshly made cake mix. The trick is to add a little butter while mashing so that the result becomes firm rather than sloppy. So you don’t have to use much, if any, flour. Which can leave a cloying aftertaste. Especially if your mash was made with one of the more floury varieties of spud.

So; starting with, say three and a bit cups of firm and slightly dry British style mash left to cool, crack an egg and whisk it properly with a fork so that the egg becomes a smooth yellow emulsion. Add about a half to your mashed spuds and mix thoroughly. Add a little salt and pepper if you like. I usually use a little more pepper because it gives the potato a bit more bite. You can even add a small pinch of cayenne if you like, but be careful.

Now if you’ve got it right, the mix, when stirred should tend to form one piece like a soft ball of dough. The ideal texture being not too firm but kneadable and not leave sticky trails when you roll it in your hands. Roll into balls, tip; bite size is best, leaving a little over half a cup of mash in the bowl. Make a dent in the ball. Add filling. Spring onions or Chives, a good strong cheese (A strong blue is particularly good) and bacon bits if you wish. A tiny smidgeon of sour cream or cream cheese will help to bind the filling, then use a little of the remaining mash to seal it all in each little ball. You don’t need much filling for each one or they will leak into the frying oil and the desired effect will be lost.

A quick side note; I’ve found alternative fillings like cream cheese and pre-cooked prawn or shrimp bits with Spring Onions or chives are excellent but honestly, the choice is down to your individual palate. Leftover Beef or burger bits, fine cut lamb leftovers in a tiny hint of mint sauce, chicken, whatever. Just so long as it is firm and not liquid. If you are that way inclined and your brand of vegetarianism allows egg as a binder, then even some heavily spiced Tofu can be used. If you’re a vegan, sorry, but you are missing out. It’s why very few people remain lifelong vegans. There is so much they miss out on, poor damned souls.

Now give each filled ball a quick (just enough to round it, no more) roll in flour and paint with the remaining egg mix, then roll in breadcrumbs. Heat oil in pan then gently lower each one of the stuffed potato balls in to cook. I prefer to deep fry mine as you don’t need to flip them as with shallow frying, which runs an added risk that your carefully crafted creations will split and ruin the whole thing, but the desired end result is the same; crispy outside, melt in your mouth detonation inside.

So if stuffing the balls sounds like too much fuss and palaver, there is an alternative. Simply mix your finely chopped chosen filling with the pre-mashed potato and omit the sour cream or cream cheese from the recipe before putting on the egg wash and breadcrumbs. Just as moreish, just as tasty and just as calorific. Which is why I won’t be making any for myself any more. Although I’m very, very tempted.

Yet if you’ve made too many to be consumed at one sitting, despair not my last remaining reader, simply allow to the finished item to cool, then stick in the freezer on a tray for twenty four hours to set before bagging for longer term freezer storage. After that, feel free to take out and deep fry a few every so often to repeat the experience, because good things should never be done just once.

On Neutrality

I was talking to Mrs S recently about some of the articles I’ve been seeing about ‘transgenderism’ being promoted in schools. Her first response was short, pithy and Anglo-Saxon as befits a responsible educational professional of over thirty years experience. And she has taught sex education, or PHSE as it is known in the UK.

My response is when are we going to see the first child abuse lawsuits against the people who are pushing this gender bending agenda? Or should that read ‘an attempt to force a-gender?’ Who are the people behind this warped ideology and why are they allowed within ten miles of any educational establishment? If my kids were still young, those are the questions I would be asking while I had my litigator on speed dial. I’d want names and addresses so the perpetrators could face down my legal team in a court of law. And my claim would be six zeroes if any physical harm was threatened. Seven plus if physical damage occurred. Let’s face it, if one of the aggressive #metoo campaigners can seek six figure damages for hurt feelings forty years ago, how much would be granted for someone who had suffered real abuse?

Now I’ve no real concern about those whose sexual preferences run contrary to my own. What happens in any given bedroom post puberty is their own damn business and no-one else’s. Dress how you want, be surgically altered (So long as it’s on your own dollar that’s fine) But when it comes to children under seven I think schools have a duty of care to keep those under the age of puberty away from anyone who might harm them physically, mentally or sexually. Indeed, there are worthy legal strictures in place for this very reason. And when it comes to sex education in schools, I’m seeing a lot of clues which would indicate to me that all is not well. On both sides of the Atlantic.

Frankly, I suspect there are people whose sexual preferences involve pre-pubescent children ensconced in places of power and responsibility and that they are using their proxies to abuse the public trust. In short, the baby fuckers are driving this. Child abusers playing the long game. Sexually damaged cultural relativists imposing abusive sexual preferences on the immature and impressionable. Causing not just emotional but real physical harm from inappropriately administered gender reassignment surgery and hormone treatments, sometimes without lawful parental consent.

Indeed, from what I hear child is being set against parent and thus condemned to misery and probable suicide. Because the stats plainly show that those who do go through the trauma of a sex change have almost a 50% suicide rate. Not merely fifty percent higher than the general population, but fifty percent of all sex change cases. Half will kill themselves. That’s how bad it is, and no ‘rights’ will ever change that. Turning them into a privileged minority will not help.

Which I’m sure will end up like the scandal of First Nations children being abused (And even dying) within the notorious old Canadian ‘Residential School’ system. Guess what? The taxpayer will be expected to foot the bill for all the mutilation of genitalia and shortened lives caused by people who couldn’t leave those whose sexual self is, often only temporarily, a little further along the sexual bell curve than the majority. Yes, there are a very few people who have known from an early age what they were, but that is no reason to encourage widespread transgenderism in those under the legal age of sexual consent.

As a personal aside, at a house party in Oz recently I had a long involved chat with one openly gay man. We talked, compared our similar family histories which were rural, small village north midlands England. He said he’d known from an early age what his sexual preference was and I think was trying to work out for himself why our similar upbringings had turned out such very different people. For myself I was quite happy for him to be who he was and said so, but that I did not share his particular proclivity. And there the matter, quite rightly, rested. Although I got the feeling he was somehow unhappy with this state of affairs. How come he liked his own sex and I didn’t? To which my unspoken response was; sorry old thing but I’m not changing my sexual preference just to suit someone else. I’m happy as I am. I like women sexually and I’m quite happy to be married to one. Especially Mrs S. Even if she does drive me nuts sometimes.

To those promoting alternative sexual awareness in schools I only have this to say; please, please, leave children their innocence. Let them be children, at least until they’re about to hit puberty in high school. Yes it’s a bit hard on those few outliers for a few years, but better that than screwing up an entire generation. For which as yet unborn generations will have to pick up the tab.

As for the statement “Purposefully mis-gendering a transgender person is an act of violence”, that is what I can only describe as an inverted truth. I’ve seen and been on the receiving end of real violence, and trust me, simply saying ‘No’ to someone under the age of consent is not violent. One might even describe not letting the underage undergo a prematurely life-changing and purely cosmetic medical procedure as anti-violent. Physically beating others is violent, all else is peccadillo. Hurt feelings don’t count. Black eyes, broken bones, bruises and split lips do.

Unfortunately we have a generation of politicians and activists who don’t seem to be able to understand this simple distinction. Which will only lead to a massive bill to the taxpayers of the future, but no-one inside the bubble of power and privilege seems to get this simple reality. Either that or they are simply too short sighted to care.

Sauce!

Cookery and diet related post. A few observations on the low-carbohydrate lifestyle we’ve adopted here at Maison Sticker. First, too many almonds give you seriously vivid dreams. Second, after several weeks without potato, Mrs S and I allowed ourselves a portion of chips (fries) as a treat, result; again, hallucinatory 3D and full orchestral soundtrack dreams with CGI. Nothing unpleasant, but unusual for us both, so probably food related. Have decided not to have any more potatoes for the next couple of weeks. That was a bit freaky.

We are both slowly and steadily losing weight without too much inconvenience, although eating out is tricky because all the ‘casual dining’ sector has to offer in Canada is mostly deep fried food or salads smothered in sugar loaded dressings. I guess they’re just catering to their market, but I’m certainly saving a lot of money by not going out.

Instead I’ve been experimenting with our slow cooker or ‘crock pot’ and have worked out how to get the sauce nice and thick the way we both like it without cornstarch. The answer is Arrowroot flour or powder. Which has a similar calorie count to cornstarch or flour, but you use far less of it for the same amount of thickening. I’ve worked out that I can thicken a sauce to the same amount of glutinousness with half the Arrowroot as opposed to cornstarch, ergo fewer calories added to your diet. And no aftertaste which you can get with cornstarch. Especially if you add just a little too much.

Now arrowroot as a sauce thickener reacts differently to cornstarch. Whereas with cornstarch you can put your thickening agent in at any point in the cooking process, Arrowroot works best when stirred in as a cold roux, or water paste, toward the end of the cooking process. A roux being a mix of thickening agent and water in a two part water to one part thickener. But you all knew that didn’t you? Didn’t you? Well now you do.

For a pint of sauce, a half teaspoon of Arrowroot flour or powder should be mixed with a little cold water then added to the sauce juices about ten minutes before taking off the heat. Today I did a poached chicken madras (Two frozen cardboard chicken breasts, a handful of sliced mushrooms, three diced cooking onions and a roughly diced red pepper with a small diced turnip, half a pint of water, two generous teaspoons of curry paste and a pinch of cayenne) with the assistance of Mr Sharwoods Madras paste and an extra pinch of cayenne pepper. Left it in the slow cooker for six hours, stirring in an Arrowroot roux ten minutes before taking off the heat. Result; hot without being scorching, with the chicken falling apart and just enough zing for that lovely little chilli tingle inside the mouth, but not enough to send you running for the water jug. I served it with ten minute simmered Broccoli instead of rice and the verdict from Mrs S was “Bill, is it my imagination or are your curries getting better?” I’d just chucked everything in the pot and switched it on. Frozen ingredients included. No defrost, no fancy prep, just chop the veg up and sling it all in. Set on ‘low’. Walk away for the day, come back, stir in roux, prepare broccoli and enjoy.

All this, a days work and assembling a new dining table to serve it on. I was so damn impressed with myself I lit a candle.