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Look back in bemusement.... - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Look back in bemusement....

Don’t mention the Ashes.


You know, there can be little doubt that one is resolutely in the provinces when the headlines – the headlines, mind you, for the Beeb’s regional coverage page – for one’s county run to, ‘Neighbour hears smoke alarm sound’, and, ‘Girl refuses man’s offer of lift’.  Not that there’s not the exciting news, of course: ‘Traffic warden warning to drivers’, and, ‘Recycling reaches district high’.


The news in and of London, by contrast, seems to revolve around two-million-pound burglaries, stabbings, murder by train, poisoned Russians, threats of death or GBH, and a world record attempt for longest-lasting game of poker.


Still and all, it has been, to note another very important headline, a bumper year for the stone curlew.


Don’t mention the Ashes.


Frank Johnson has died.  Superb writer, with a gimlet eye (and that’s sufficiently hackneyed a phrase that he’d never have allowed it in his copy).  Fascinating chap, and an ornament of Fleet Street in the old way.  Master of the parliamentary sketch.


Looking back at some of the things he said of Heseltine, Callaghan, Mrs T, Shirley Williams, and Woy Jenkins, amongst others, one is at once delighted and awed by his wit and his unerring instinct for the telling detail, and stunned, even now, by his audacity.


Looking back at many of the things he said of their followers, especially of the woolly centre-left stripe and the real Left, one can only salute his cheek:


‘One arrived to find Mr Heseltine engulfed in his own peroration. A huge audience was enthralled. He bellowed at them from beneath that blond mane which causes him so often to be mistaken from behind for Mrs Sally Oppenheim. He was thundering along the lines of: one nation, one Reich, one Heseltine.’


‘Mrs Shirley Williams, who is regarded by some of the more primitive followers of the SDP as possessing divine status and miraculous powers, unsuccessfully applied to the Speaker for an emergency debate on the water dispute. At first, one assumed this was because the dispute was beginning to threaten supplies of the only water used by the SDP: Perrier water.’


I can only imagine the abuse he got from Hezza’s acolytes … or those who thought themselves including in and demeaned by being included in the class of ‘the more primitive followers of the SDP’, of course.


Do NOT mention the Ashes.  Oh, sod that for a lark, let’s mention the Ashes.  One simply cannot – especially when one’s side are the tourists – in essence give away the first two Tests and then expect to battle through.  I quite like Jones G as eye-candy, although he’s no Cook A; but as a batsman and as a wicket-keeper, he is simply dead weight and does not currently merit selection at this level.  And whoever is responsible for leaving Monty out of – and thereby all but supinely forfeiting – the first two Tests, wants to be severely dealt with indeed.


Best wishes and deepest empathy – let us hope one never need extend sympathy – to Ashley Giles, of course, whose wife has been diagnosed as having a brain tumour.  To Stine (Mrs Ashley) Giles, wishes for a swift and full recovery.


I believe I have mentioned that, since she attended an FE course on the Higher Nosh, the Baker’s Daughter has been driving her family to branch out into sandwiches, soups, salads, light luncheons, and other forms of profitable takeaway.  Also, with the daily specials and the like, there is a certain amount of experimentation and testing-out going on.

‘Seasonally’, it is alleged.

Thus far, the star of Advent in the way of new and experimental sandwiches has involved turkey breast with a cranberry-pear chutney, some sort of white cheese, and, I think, pine nuts.  Mind you, this is from a purely visual examination coupled with a second-hand description.  It’s said to be quite good, but somehow … it’s just not my sort of thing.

I’ve a feeling that this will get interesting, as the BD comes up with ever-increasingly outré sandwich combinations.  Watch, as they say, this space.


I do realise that it’s at once traditional and newly once more fashionable to smoke fish, and prawns, and cod roe, and, well, everything, but it does seem to me that restaurateurs and fishmongers alike are going, well, overboard with this.  When the cheeses, the fish, the meat, and everything save the pudding has been smoked, it’s the least bit much for the old palate, isn’t it?  

On the other hand, the real mystery is probably this: Why are so many producers and retailers of organic-certified food such humourless, smug, self-righteous, crusading twunts?

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6 comments or Leave a comment
shezan From: shezan Date: December 16th, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Those Frank Johnson quotes are utter classics. The Torygraph had some more. The one on Roy Hattersley wasn't 'alf bad.
Unsuccessfully, as it will now emerge, I had resolved from the outset that there were two subjects which had received sufficient airing on this page and would not be mentioned further: Wagner and Mr Roy Hattersley.

Concerning the one: nobody in his right mind would deny his capacity for the sublime, his surges of lyricism, his sheer weight and scale, but there is also his torrential prolixity, his essentially outdated nineteenth-century ideological attitude towards his art, his foggy symbolism and an epic tedium which modern audiences should surely not be expected to endure. These are some of the drawbacks of Mr Hattersley.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 17th, 2006 02:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Indeed yes.

I'm especially fond of his accounts of Maggie and Ted Heath exchanging glares, which, God knows, was a regular occurrence.
shezan From: shezan Date: December 17th, 2006 10:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Indeed yes.

Where did you find yours? Are there collections I might get?
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: December 16th, 2006 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Twunt???? (good one...)

Well, okay. If anyone's authorized to coin words, you certainly are.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 17th, 2006 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, heavens, not mine at all, coined long ago by some folk genius.

I cannot take credit for it.

Dunbar I'm not.
bufo_viridis From: bufo_viridis Date: December 18th, 2006 12:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ashes to Ashes!

As for the sandwiches, sandwiches are okay, it's the "fashionable improving" of traditional stuff like Christmas turkey (for you) or fish (for us). Improved tradition, an oxymoron, if I ever know one.
6 comments or Leave a comment