Monday, December 31, 2012

Per fregir el Xanguet

I felt bad telling about the xanguetes without giving you further details. Here's a Catalan recipe for those of you who haven't had enough of Yuletide gorging. Before you try cooking this dish, study the photograph carefully, and if that doesn't put you off, you are seriously in need of help.
Per fregir el Xanguet
paella o fregidora
farina blanca bona
col-lador o sedas

Agafar uns quants banquets i posar-hi sal , posar-ho amb molta farina , i després amb un colador o sedas treure tota la farina i ja veureu que os quedaran un a un.
Tenir preparat el oli ven calent i ja es pot fregir al gust de cada un.
i també podeu fer una truita:
Agafeu el xanguet i el poseu a fregir amb una mica d'oli i sal , quan estigui una mica fet , ja si poden posar els ous que calguin , depèn del peix que feu servir .Això va amb el gust de cada un.

Aquí .. a Catalunya tenim la Llengueta ..és molt assemblat al xanguet , però més pla .
També és transparent..

Origin of scrotes

I continue to be haunted by memories of my boyhood. Images come unbidden, as they say, and I don't know why. Hadley was an ordinary village, not much happened there, and I can't remember feeling sorry when I eventually left it to go up to university at the age of eighteen. Not just images of place - the High Street, the lane past Benbow's Farm, the wilderness of the old pit workings - but people too. Mr Potter, the butcher, fat and redfaced, like a character from Happy Families: Mrs Beecham, who was best known for the smell of the suppurating ulcers on her legs; Mrs Quinn, whose haberdashery was definitely out of bounds to a scruffy street urchin like me; Rowley. pronounced "roll-ee" and if he had another name I never heard it, whose sole occupation seemed to be loitering in the village newsagent's pining over the girl who served in there, a little ferret of a girl with shiny black eyes and tiny tomato breasts. Still, it was love as far as Rowley was concerned, even if he was three times her age.
Now I admit I am not painting the sort of travelogue picture that will cause you to jump into your car and go roaring off to Shropshire, but that was not my intention. Actually, if you do decide to roar, go visit Shrewsbury or the Severn Gorge at Ironbridge or the Long Mynd, but give Hadley a miss. Most of it has gone anyway, destroyed to make way for a bypass to get you quicker from the great wen of Birmingham to the soulless carbuncle of Telford. I'd like to say in its defence that Hadley formed my character, but then I don't want to blame an obscure little Shropshire village for the villainy that was my childhood. And adolescence. And a good chunk of my adult life, now I come to think of it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Menidia shmenidia, you eat them!

Wind back to the mid-80s. It is a lovely September evening in Barcelona, and I am peckish. Not hungry, just peckish, for I have had several days of gourmet living. So I pop into a Catalan restaurant called Can Chicoa and scan the menu for something simple. "Truita" sounds about right - it means omelette in Catalan. I go down the list, understanding most things till I get to "Truita amb xanguetes". No idea what xanguetes are, so I order it adventurously.
When I open it up, a sight meets my eyes that can still haunt me in the wee cow'ring hours. Xanguete is a tiny tiny fish, so tiny that the omelette was packed tight with them. Scores of them. When cooked, they become translucent and this serves to accentuate their little jet-black eyes. Imagine: dozens of pairs of pretty black eyes looking up at you pleadingly from the plate. The omelette was okay, but I hadn't the heart - or the stomach - to eat the poor wee cow'ring timourous beasties.
I believe xanguetes are, or are related to, a fish called "silverside", Menidia menidia. Long may they thrive, bless them, but not on my plate.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas spirit a la Trellis

Mrs Trellis, as ever, shoots from the hip.
Dear Emily, she writes, I am sorry I didn't send you a Christmas card this year, but you didn't send me one last year, so I thought, what's goose for the sauce - or whatever the expression is. Mind you, you're not the only one: the people who haven't sent me a card, you wouldn't believe! Still, it's the season of goodwill, etc, so I won't go on about it. Bastards.

It's all in the mind

Thinks: "I wonder what she'd look like on a tractor....."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Go for it, girl!

A 98 year old woman wrote this to her bank.


Dear Sir,

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my cheque with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three 'nanoseconds' must have elapsed between his presenting the cheque and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it.

I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my Pension, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for ONLY eight years.You are to be commended for seizing that brief  window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account £30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to re-think my errant financial  ways.

I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.

From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person.  My mortgage and loan payments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank by cheque, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an offence under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope.

Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to complete.  I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative.

Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Solicitor, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me.  I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service.

As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:

1: To make an appointment to see me.

2: To query a missing payment.

3: To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.

4: To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.

5: To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.

6: To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.

7: To leave a message on my computer (a password to access my computer is required.  A password will be  communicated to you at a later date to the Authorized Contact.)

8: To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 8

9: To make a general complaint or inquiry, the contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year.

Your Humble Client

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


At the end of November,we went to the Natural History Museum in London at the invitation of my old mucker Roger Booth. Roger is resident coleopterist, and a world authority on beetles. Nature is wonderful, Nature is amazing, Nature is breathtaking, etc, but nothing prepared me for the stunning variety of beetles we saw in the museum collection. Every shape size and colour you can imagine, and then some. And, according to Roger, it is estimated that there are still zillions of species waiting to be discovered. 

Particularly fascinating for me was his work on identifying and cataloguing the myriad insects in old collections that are only now being sifted through. In order to do this work, he has to consult really ancient books and documents, you know, the kind with blotting-paper pages and where the s's look like f's. On top of that, most of the descriptions are in Latin. Furthermore, the old entomologists delighted in naming species after characters from Greek mythology, so Dr Booth also keeps a copy of Lempriere's Classical Dictionary by his side.
Great stuff!

Friday, December 07, 2012



What follows is true, and in no way exaggerated. 
Ikey Lee, the ancient village roadsweeper, touched me up when I was about eight years old. When I was about twelve, a married woman at the local shop where I helped out at weekends talked dirty to me and even rubbed herself against my genitals, causing a sensation that surprised me. When I was about thirteen, the projectionist in our local picture house showed me his erect penis. When I was at summer camp, again aged about thirteen, an older boy, "Flog" Ferrington, invited me to masturbate him, which I did with great interest. When I was fifteen I worked the summer at a bottling plant, where some of the women - the married ones - liked to make coarse suggestions and grab at my genitals as I passed. All of the children I grew up with will remember Uncle Albert, who seemed to get a kick out of leaving the door of the outside privy open when he was at his business. And I have already told you about wheelchair-bound Jack Lockley, who used to play absentmindedly with his penis, until his sister would come out and tell him to put it away.
I am not innocent either. When I was about fifteen, I made a grab for Cynthia Brown's breasts, a brief encounter that I deemed worth the pain of the punch she gave me in response. I remember, in the same era, helping Melva Davies, who was about ten, to climb down from a wall, and got a stiffy from the pressure of her bottom against my bundle as she slid down. On another occasion, I persuaded Melva to show me hers if I showed her mine.
That is the sum total of what I can remember about childhood sexual abuse, received or dished out. In case the grundies of Scotland Yard are reading this, I wish to make it clear that I do not intend to make any accusations or bring charges against any of the above "child abusers", living or dead, and I am pretty sure that Cynthia B and Melva D bear no malice for the incidents when I was naughty, if indeed they can even remember them. My guess is that ALL of you reading this have similar stories to tell. My guess, too, is you were not scarred for life by such incidents; they were just part of growing up.
Envoi: Will the coppers PLEASE stop going for the easy targets, and start going after the seriously evil bastards who really did sexually abuse young children, above all, those who exploited their positions of authority and trust in order to satisfy their lusts. And leave the other ninety-something percent of us alone?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

I promise, moreorless

The Scout Promise reads: "On my honour, I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law." There are variants to accommodate other faiths, so, for instance, Muslims say "Allah" for "God". In countries where the Queen is not head of state, the oath is changed to "...and to the country in which I am living".
Now, according to Sky News, there is a move afoot to accommodate atheists. In a spirit of helpfulness, I propose the Scout Promise be simplified so that it fits our modern age more exactly:
"On my honour, whatever that is, I promise, if it's not inconvenient, to do my best to do my duty, whatever that is, to nobody in particular and to keep the Scout Law as long as it doesn't interfere with my personal life. And if you give me grief, I'll say you touched me bum and then you'll be for it."

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Beating the system

A farmer, who had been refused planning permission to build a shelter for his horses, got round the prohibition by erecting this table-and-chairs set, which didn't need planning permission. You gotta love it. My thanks to Claudia G for this.