Sunday, 31 January 2010

Utter Balls!

Ed Balls, the UK Government’s resident embarrassing uncle, has been let out of the cupboard again. Despite holding down his full-time job as Children’s Secretary, Gordon Brown’s Siamese twin and all-round prick, Balls has still found time to create a website that teaches grandparents to be… grandparents.

At a cost of £60 million, the ridiculously named is stuffed with patronising bollocks designed to bring grandparents round to the ways of the State. Consider some of these stunningly brilliant articles: Seven ways to be a grandfather, What to feed a pregnant woman, How to make teenagers eat their greens. For £60 million I would have expected a cure for cancer, not this condescending tosh. Come to think of it, wasn’t £60 million the amount of dodgy expenses trousered by MPs last year.

I particularly liked this little nugget from a discussion about what your grandchildren should call you: “Pretty much any noise your new grandchild makes can be claimed as the word for you, even if not in your own language. When your grandchild grunts 'Ugogo', that’s Zulu for Grandma, or ‘Thakur-da’, when it's Bengali for Grandad.”

However, the quote that managed to send a shiver down my spine was this one: “Grandparents often have strong and sometimes strange opinions”. Oh really? By this, I think Balls means that grandparents can often be possessed of common sense and non-PC points of view. Can’t have that now, can we? What’s the point of brainwashing them at school only to have the work undone when they see grandpa at the weekend?

No doubt the bug-eyed twerp thinks he can reprogram the nation’s elders and get them more ‘on message’ once they’ve read the wisdom contained on his silly but expensive little website. It never ceases to amaze me how Marxists genuinely believe propaganda can change people’s views if you ram it far enough down their throats for long enough.

Right… I’m off for a Buckfast and Vimto followed by a Cillit Bang chaser; I simply can’t stomach any more Balls.

Scrambling back to eggs

The humble egg could be about to make a comeback in our diets thanks to Margaret Thatcher. It turns out that the Iron Lady was apt to guzzle 28 of them in a single week prior to her election victory in 1978.

The release of her private papers has unearthed a copy of the Mayo Clinic Diet, a popular regime of the time and a precursor to the Atkins diet. In an effort to slim down and make it through the door of No 10 without touching the sides, Mrs T stuck to her Mayo Diet and managed to shed 20lbs in fairly short order, largely thanks to eating eggs.

And Maggie wasn’t the only one to go to work on an egg and shed pounds at the same time. Mrs T’s former advertising guru, Charles Saatchi, the modern art collector and husband of St Nigella of Lawson, existed on a diet of nine eggs a day and shifted 60lbs of blubber as a result.

So, it seems eggs are good for us after all. Remember all those scare stories from scientists (this was before global warming scare stories were popular) when we were told even three eggs a week would clog up our arteries with cholesterol and we’d be dead in no time at all? It turns out that it was all rubbish. The cholesterol found in eggs doesn’t directly impact on blood cholesterol levels. Yet again, the scientists got it wrong.

However, not only are eggs not bad for you, they’re positively good for you. An egg contains a third of the daily dose of vitamin D we need. Normally humans get the majority of their vitamin D from sunshine, but as we haven’t seen any proper sun since last September, eggs ought to be a very important part of our diet. They’re even a good source of iron and vitamin B12. And if you’re at all worried about salmonella poisoning, apparently British eggs are 99% free of salmonella, so you can probably enjoy them raw or lightly cooked if that’s your wish.

I’m off to toast some soldiers and dip them in a nice big runny egg. I suggest you do them same.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

The Pyjama Game

Only in the UK could a supermarket find it necessary to introduce a dress code. That's right, you heard me correctly... a dress code.

Tesco, the UK's biggest chain of supermarkets, has had to introduce a dress code in its St Mellons store, Cardiff. The company has asked its customers not to wear pyjamas when shopping. Apparently, droves of single mothers from an adjoining council estate have taken to strolling the aisles in their nightwear and fluffy slippers. It seems to be a fashion. Other customers complained about the casual attire of a minority of shoppers and Tesco has introduced the rule as a response.

Mother of two, Elaine Carmody, was the first customer to be escorted off the premises by a security guard after she was discovered pushing a trolley dressed only in her PJs. "I just don't understand it," she said. "I go in other shops dressed in my pyjamas and they don't say anything." Clearly miffed, the 24-year-old continued: "I walked in with my trolley and the security guard came over and told me to leave. He said it offends people. But I've never seen anyone offended. It's just when I'm in a rush or busy with the kids. I would usually put a coat over the top and it's not like I'm flashing the flesh or anything."

Another mother interviewed by The Daily Mail said: "Do they have any idea how difficult it is to get three kids off to school when you are a single parent? You haven't got time for a cup of tea, never mind getting all dolled up! I won't be bothering with Tesco anymore - I'm off to Aldi." I'm surprised she didn't add... "Just as soon as I've been down the Job Centre and picked up my benefit."

More salty nonsense

Kellogg's is going to remove 30% of the salt in its breakfast cereals following pressure from Britain's Food Standards Agency. Despite slowly reducing the salt in its cereals over the past twelve years by 45%, it's not enough for the bureaucrats.

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (just make the cheque out to CASH!), a pressure group of salt-fearing medics, says: "We are thrilled that Kellogg's has finally acknowledged that people don't want salty breakfast cereals."

What a complete arse! Why would Kellogg's wilfully force salt down its customers' throats? I imagine the salt adds to the manufacturing cost so I doubt very much they include it if their customers really don't want it. And if that were the case, why are Kellogg's products so successful if their cereals are so salty and crap no one wants to buy them? I wonder how many brain cells Prof MacGregor possesses if he can make such stupid statements as that.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Blow me down

Motorist Michael Mancini, a furniture restorer from Prestwick, Ayrshire, has been fined £60 and given three penalty points on his driving licence for the heinous crime of blowing his nose while stuck in a traffic jam.

Michael was stationary, in neutral with his handbrake applied when he used a tissue to wipe his nose. Stuart Gray, a local policeman, zealot and trainee Nazi, approached Michael and issued a fixed penalty ticket for £60 on the pretext that Michael was not in control of his vehicle. Clearly, with his handbrake applied and the vehicle being stationary, I would argue he was in control of his van. However, the procurator fiscal decided otherwise and the case was pursued.

Incidentally, PC Gray is known locally as “shiny buttons” for his particularly zealous attitude to his work. He once earned notoriety for doling out a £50 fine to Stewart Smith, another Ayr man, who dropped a £10 note from his back pocket. Mr Smith was charged with littering.

Michael is going to fight the case although under the ridiculous Napoleonic Scottish legal system he probably won’t be able to claim any costs. Perhaps we should all chip in with a donation in order to fight this stupidity. As for PC Gray, I suggest he be suspended pending a full medical report as the man is clearly not the ticket… fixed penalty or otherwise.

Frankly, I’m not surprised at this story. My own daughter had her expensive camera confiscated by an idiot Scottish policeman and is still waiting for it to be returned six months later. I know some very nice Scottish people but this really does their country no credit. Not content with dominating the cabinet and generally screwing up the nation’s finances with their perverse policies, the Scots appear now to be losing the plot completely.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Sanity at last

The UK Government’s chief scientific advisor, Professor John Beddington, has courageously called for climate change sceptics to be taken seriously. In a remarkably candid outburst, the professor admitted that some climate change scientists had exaggerated claims about man-made global warming and intimated that they had not helped their cause by refusing to share some of the data on which their more cataclysmic forecasts were based. He called for more honesty from the climate change science community.

Thank heavens for a shred of sanity in this whole climate change debate. Let’s remember that the world has only been industrialised for 250 years, and even then it was a slow start. We don’t know the full extent of the impact human activity has made on the world and it’s vital that the science is conducted in a scrupulous manner. If we are responsible for catastrophic climate change in the future then it’s vital that something is done. It’s too important to get wrong or to allow a bunch of freaks to over egg the climate change pudding.

On the other hand, if climate change has been wildly exaggerated, we may all be about to wreck our economies and consign ourselves back to the Middle Ages because someone decided to get overexcited.

There was a time when scientists investigated, carried out experiments and then published results. Unfortunately, scientists seem to be confusing their function and turning into advocates for change and getting involved in politics. This partisan activity, especially when it’s based on exaggerated or uncertain evidence, gives science a bad name and could end up causing more harm than good.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

What price knowledge?

Reader ProScience takes me to task in my previous posts for spreading falsehoods and tells me to 'look at the evidence' contained in scientific journals. He makes a good point. I spend a lot of my time looking for scientific journals as part of my research. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of them are not available for free. Even in the age of the internet it seems that scientific papers, produced in universities and other research centres, actually cost a lot of money to read. Of course, if you work or study in a university, your institution will have a subscription to many of the publishers that charge for these scientific papers so this is not an issue. For the rest of us, access to knowledge, some of it paid for by the public purse, is much harder to come by. Perhaps ProScience or someone else can tell me why institutions don't publish their research online so everyone can benefit from it.

Food nazis alert!

Children have to be some of the fussiest eaters in the world. In fact, I think there’s a direct correlation between age and fussiness. Look at the evidence… when we’re kids we’re constantly being told we have to eat our food up and finish our vegetables or there’ll be no pudding. By the time we hit middle age we’re being told if we eat and more of our main course, we won’t be allowed any pudding. Middle age brings on the ability to hoover up any sort of food and store it around the abdomen for later use.

With children, it’s different. Feeding them good-quality food that they’ll enjoy and eat up is a challenge. Kids are inexplicable drawn towards chicken nuggets and fish fingers, like a junkie is drawn to smack. So, hats off to Annabel Karmel who has produced a range of interesting and tasty ready meals for little people. Her website looks great and I can imagine that many a busy working mum has cause to be grateful to Ms Karmel for making it easier to feed children quickly with tasty and nutritious food that doesn’t require them to start cooking from scratch after a hard day at work.

Unfortunately, some hair shirt-wearing food fascists have discovered that some of Ms Karmel’s ‘Eat Fussy’ ready meals have a teeny amount of added sugar and salt. This in some people’s eyes is tantamount to feeding children unrefined cocaine. But what’s the point in selling food that’s so bland children won’t eat it? Surely, even the puritanical health nazis can understand this? Besides, the connection between hypertension and salt is not fully proven.

If we carry on stripping out every last grain of salt and sugar in the food we eat, not only will that food be totally inedible, it will render us unfit to travel as a nation. Our taste buds will become so accustomed to totally bland food that we will be unable to eat anything when we travel abroad. Our food is already fairly bland compared with much of Western Europe, and yet I’m not sure if our hypertension rates are any lower than, say, Portugal’s, where salt is very much a feature of the national cuisine.

Perhaps the attack on Annabel Karmel’s ready meals has more to do with the media’s fascination with knocking down people it feels may have become too high and mighty or… successful.

Friday, 22 January 2010

A national scandal

A report obtained by the Conservatives has unveiled that more people leave hospital malnourished than those who enter the care of our hallowed health service. The latest figures state that of the 175,000 people entering hospital last year suffering from malnutrition, a shameful 185,000 left hospital undernourished, an increase of 10,000.

Now putting aside the fact that people who are malnourished shouldn't really be released from hospital, what do those figures mean? Well, either none of the 175,000 managed to get better nourishment during their stay (unlikely) or more likely, many more people than suspected actually develop malnutrition during their stay. Some 10,000 patients develop malnutrition in hospital having entered the system in a perfectly well nourished state.

I can well believe those figures. I entered hospital a fairly fit 47-year-old and left having lost 15% of my bodyweight, calcium deficient and in really poor general health. What chance do the frail and elderly stand? The food served is nutritionally questionable at best, but served in the unique way that only the NHS knows how. Mealtimes are a total turnoff. Add to that the lack of attention and lack of time for nurses to attend to those who find it difficult to feed themselves, and it's little wonder that we are looking at nothing short of a national scandal.

The time is over for celebrity chefs, reports and all the other time-wasting crap that usually passes for action in the NHS. The time has come for sanctions to be applied to health care trusts that starve and neglect their patients. Let's say £1000 off the Chief Exec's bonus for every malnourished patient discovered. That should concentrate a few minds. And if any trusts need some help on how to improve their food and how to encourage patients to eat it, then see me afterwards. Usual fat-cat consultancy rates apply!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Earthquake Appeal

A group of bloggers has set up a website to raise money for the Haitian earthquake appeal. If you would like to donate some money towards the humanitarian efforts underway in the Caribbean then please visit the Bloggers for Haiti website and make your contribution to save lives and provide much-needed assistance.

A cause worthy of your support

The Tax Payers' Alliance has launched the Big Brother Watch campaign to fight back against the overbearing state and it's tendency to snoop and pry on the people who pay for its spying and eavesdropping. You can find out more about Big Brother Watch by clicking here. Definitely worth a visit. The campaign is also giving away free Big Brother Watch stickers which you can use to highlight your own examples of the state's abuse of power. You can send Big Brother Watch photos of the Big Brother state in action and they will post them on the website. A worthy cause in my humble opinion.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Ban butter

What is it about some medical consultants that makes them feel they have to make pronouncements as if they were the Pope? I refer you to one Shyam Kolvekar, a leading heart surgeon. Mr Kolvekar says he wants butter banned as a lot of people who come to see him have advanced coronary heart disease. Mind you, if you’re a heart surgeon you probably are going to see a lot of people with heart disease... it kinda goes with the job. It's a bit like orthopaedic surgeons complaining that a lot of people come to them with broken bones so let's stop sports and other dangerous pastimes.

Incidentally, Mr Kolvekar's comments were issued by KTB, a public relations company that works for Unilever, the maker of Flora margarine, a non-butter spread. So absolutely no conflict there. However, into the fray comes Saint Jamie of Oliver, who has issued a statement through his spokesman (another one who thinks he’s the Pope) criticising the butter ban and saying he doesn't like the whole kind of food police, we must ban everything, point of view. Absolutely right, Jamie! Well said.

However, could this be the same Jamie who criticised parents who feed their children "junk", describing some youngsters' diets as a crime? Is this the same Jamie who claimed 70 per cent of packed lunches given to schoolchildren were "disgraceful" and he would like to see them banned? Is this the same Jamie who also called for a ban on junk food advertising for children and spearheaded a campaign that removed chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks from school vending machines? It is?

Jamie isn’t stupid, is he? Jamie’s sniffed the air of public opinion, like a gazelle scenting a leopard on the breeze, and has decided that the public is getting a wee bit pissed off with people like Mr Kolvekar. They’re sick of being hectored and bossed around by the nanny state and would like to see an end to this bansturbation that we see all around us. Nice one, Jamie.

PS: Thanks to The Devil’s Kitchen for pointing out yet another case of rank hypocrisy.

Mail readers are mad... official!

I know that Daily Mail readers have a reputation for being rabid and right wing, but it looks as if the tide may be turning with a comment posted on the newspaper's website by one reader who responded to an article concerning the increasing punishment culture in the UK. More than £400 million is raised each year via parking tickets, speeding fines, litter laws and other so-called 'soft crimes'. Overwhelmingly these are aimed at the middle classes who pay up like good little lambs. Anyway, back to the Mail's reader who posted this hilarious little gem.

"I personally do not see anything wrong with the Police and other officials enforcing laws which our Government has passed in order to make the quality of life better for all of us. It is thanks to politicians like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown that Police and other officials have at last been granted sufficient powers to make our society a better place to live. If you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear.

The money raised in fines from wrong doers is put to good use by our Councils in that they employ more staff to keep order in the community, if that means fining yet more people for anti social offences then so be it. We must all obey all the laws which are put in place for our own good. Let us hope Gordon Brown wins the next election so that this good work may continue."
To be fair, I don't think this post was from a typical Mail reader. It's more likely a Mr G Brown from 10 Downing Street posting under a pseudonym. You can read more on the story here

Thursday, 14 January 2010


Miracles do happen. My friend Dr Jane the GP called and heroically volunteered to drive me to the hospital in her 4x4. I can't tell you how relieved I was. We made the appointment with a minute to spare and it was straight off to x-ray and then in to see the consultant. Thankfully Jane was there to ask questions which was very handy as I always forget to or don't know what to ask.

The good news is that my leg is still mending. Technically it's still 'non union' but it's getting better. There's still some wobble in the fracture but we're making progress. The bad news is that I still need the cast for a bit longer but I can take it off at night. Even better, the consultant assured me that not only will the leg get better (eventually) but they may even be able to correct my leg length difference. I can't tell you how much that cheered me up. I really am feeling much more hopeful. There's a way to go yet and I know it's a year or so of hard work but I can see a tiny point of light at the end of the tunnel.

Anyway, a big thank you to Jane for stepping so heroically into the breach.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

More snow

Global warming continues with a vengeance here in Blighty... as you can see from the view out of the bedroom window this morning. I'm going to turn my heating off to see if I can't stop this infernal climate change. I may freeze in the process but it's surely a price worth paying in order to save the earth. Mind you, knowing my luck an asteroid will probably hit the globe just as we've managed to stop global warming.

I'm hoping the snow will melt before tomorrow as I have to make a 60 mile journey to the hospital and I don't have a 4x4 vehicle to go in. I can't drive at the moment so my 74-year-old mother has volunteered but I'm not too sure that she'll be comfortable driving in this sort of weather. Where's Father Christmas when you need him?

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

More nannying crap

The British Medial Journal has published a survey on the packed lunches that half of all UK school children eat every day. The study, which was carried out by Leeds University, claims that just 1% of lunchboxes (I think they mean the contents of lunchboxes) meet with the government’s new guidelines for the nutritional content of school lunches.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? The report claims that hardly any packed lunches contain vegetables and salad. What a bunch of sad wankers these academics are. Most kids don’t take salad or raw broccoli to school for the simple fact most of them don’t like it. What’s the bloody point of putting expensive items in a child’s lunchbox if all they’re going to do is throw it away? I don’t suppose most of the 19-year-olds responsible for this worthless piece of ‘research’ have any kids and wouldn’t understand how difficult it can be to get children to eat anything that’s healthy.

My guess is that these morons are going to be calling for legislation to control what parents feed their children. It can’t be all that long before we have another swathe of public sector employees whose sole job will be to police the contents of children’s packed lunches and issue warnings, fines and force parents to attend nutrition re-education centres. Their justification will be that ‘something must be done as we’re sitting on a public health time bomb’.

Am I the only person in this world who’s heartily sick of interfering busybodies poking their unwanted noses into every aspect of our lives and creating well-paid non-jobs for themselves with gold-plated pensions? Why don’t we just hand over our children to the state when they’re born and the government can then feed and brainwash the kids into vassals of the state? They'll soon be ready to work in Gordon’s tractor factories and collective farms as they partake in the long and glorious march to the sunny uplands of the rather nasty and dour form of socialist squalor the idiot seems intent on forcing us to live under?

Rant over!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Self-defence is no defence

Rousseau defined The Social Contract as a situation where the people of a nation give up some rights to a government or other authority in order to receive or maintain social order through the rule of law. In other words, we all agree not to beat the crap out of wrongdoers so long as the police enforce the law and keep us safe from the criminal classes.

It’s a fine idea in principle as long as the police actually enforce the law. Unfortunately, the law has become increasingly one-sided these days. An excellent example of this is the story reported in many of this morning’s newspapers, involving one Myleene Klass, a well-known ‘model’ and former girl band member.

Last Friday, Ms Klass was at home doing the washing up when she spied two teenage toerags in her garden attempting to break into her garden shed. She screamed with fright and then had the presence of mind to wave a knife at the miscreants who then promptly ran off, no doubt worried at their posthumous reputation should they find themselves unfortunate enough to be filleted by such a slip of a young woman.

Ms Klass immediate summoned the local police who, no doubt spurred on by the thought of an encounter with the fragrant Ms Klass, managed to prise themselves away from their warm canteen to attend the scene of the incident.

Alas, rather than trying to track down the wrongdoers, the police became exercised when Ms Klass told them that she had managed to frighten off the intruders by waving her kitchen knife at them. This, she was told, was inadvisable as she could be charged with carrying an offensive weapon. Apparently it is illegal to brandish any kind of weapon in self-defence, even within the confines of one’s own home. No doubt Ms Klass escaped being ‘banged up’ by the rozzers on account of her being pretty and famous; had she been an ugly middle-aged male, like myself, she probably would have found herself down ‘the nick’ being fingerprinted, DNA swabbed followed by a cooling-off session in the cells.

For those unlucky enough not to live in the upside down and topsy-turvy society we’ve created in the UK, such a scenario must sound totally alien and a little bit bonkers. However, it’s not so difficult to understand when you realise that the UK is not governed ‘by the people and for the people’ but is in fact ruled by a tiny clique of Oxbridge educated lawyers and other assorted layabouts who have absolutely no interest in doing anything that the public wants. They’re far too busy fiddling their expenses and pushing their own weird agendas to take any notice of what we might want or to ensure that The Social Contract is properly enforced.

Perhaps it’s time we took a leaf out of France’s book and got ourselves some guillotines. There’s nothing like the threat of cold sharp steel to concentrate the mind of a politician.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Tonight's supper

Piri Piri Chicken, Portuguese rice and fresh vegetables. Why can't hospitals produce simple, nutritious and tasty food like this?

You and Yours

Radio 4's consumer affairs programme, You and Yours, will be featuring an item on hospital food and nutrition on Monday at 12 Noon (GMT). You can listen on line at or you can listen at a more convenient time using the BBC iPlayer.

The programme will be talking to a group called Sustain. They're lobbying for improved nutritional standards in the NHS. I tentatively support Sustain in their efforts but I'm really wary of mandated standards as targets have a tendency to be warped and mangled once the bureaucrats get hold of them. Sustain also has a history of favouring diets that lean towards veganism, and that's one sort of nutrition that would have buggered up my recovery completely. However, Sustain has assured me that they only want the NHS to buy less (but better quality) meat and dairy products. Perhaps so, although I fail to see how the NHS could serve up any less meat since there was sod all of the stuff in most of the meals I tasted during my time in hospital this year. And as for dairy products... those were pretty thin on the ground too.

Personally, I'd prefer to see a all patients spending more than one week in hospital being entitled to an assessment with a dietician to sort out their dietary needs, followed by a suitable menu plan to aid their recovery. That said, I can just imagine the bed managers and clipboard merchants chucking everyone out of hospital after they've been there for 6 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds! They're no better than the managers of tractor factories in the Stalin's Soviet Union as they struggle to reach targets or face five years in a gulag... or lose their bonus in the case of the NHS!

Anyway, let's see what the programme is like and hope that it may make a difference.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Snow joke

The view from my window this morning. Just imagine how much worse it would have been if we didn't have global warming!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Dig for victory... or else!

Once the government got round to banning hunting, smoking, lightbulbs and clamping down on alcohol, I knew it would only be a matter of time before the swivel-eyed fanatics turned their attention towards our food. And so it has come to pass.

The UK’s agriculture minister, Hilary Benn, has proclaimed that we should all change our eating habits. The vegetarian minister wishes to ‘encourage’ us to eat less red meat in order to reduce the methane gas produced every time a poor cow farts. Methane makes up just 4% of the UK’s so-called greenhouse gasses and as the UK produces less than 2% of all global emissions, I’m struggling at this point to work out how a small reduction in the total number of British cows is going to make any difference to the fairy tale of global warming. Incidentally, what’s the weather like where you are? It’s -8 degrees here and bloody freezing!

So, the government has decided that all its subjects must henceforth keep a bucket in the kitchen that will be used for ‘food slops’ and leftovers. These must be scraped into the government slop bucket or else householders will face the threat of fines or imprisonment. The food will then be taken away for composting, no doubt with a massive increase in our council taxes to pay for this weekly service. One thing is for sure, the sale of air fresheners will rocket, until the government bans them.

Households who throw out too much or too little will no doubt be investigated for wasting too much food or those with too little in their buckets will be accused of disposing of their leftovers illegally. You couldn’t make this stuff up. I doubt whether the poor sods that lived through the worst years of the Soviet Union had to put up with this much intrusion into their private lives, and all for the sake of some loony eco warrior’s wet dream. Oddly enough, we are already forbidden from putting any foodstuffs into garden compost least mad cow disease enters the food chain. So God knows how this new system will work.

The government also has a few other treats up its culinary sleeve for us to enjoy. Special offers such as Buy One Get One Free (or BOGOF as it’s so charmingly known) will be outlawed on perishable food in order to stop waste. That will go down well with hard-pressed and overtaxed families, I’m sure. Also, Best Before dates will be phased out, probably to be replaced by a skull-and-crossbones logo with a date next to it showing the last possible moment of consumption before botulism or salmonella will set in. Restaurants and takeaways will also be forced to put health warnings on any dishes that displease the stick thin Mr Benn and any other ascetic types working in his Food Ministry.

I stupidly thought liberal democracy was all about increased freedom and choice. And yet here we are, supposedly one of the richest nations on earth, and our government is bossing us around as though Hitler is sat on our doorstep, waiting to eat our babies. It brings to mind the wartime Dig for Victory campaign and all the austerity and rationing that went with it. The sheer illiberalism of these control freaks is truly scary. I’m struggling to imagine what they’ll tax or control next.

Can anyone sell me an Australian passport?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Sushi sunday

Today I ventured to Bristol for an impromptu Sunday lunch and my first taste of proper sushi in more than a year. I had forgotten how much I love raw fish and sticky rice. I know it's not everyone's cup of green tea but if you do like sushi, and find yourself anywhere near Bristol, give O Bento in Baldwin Street a try.


The octopus was a bit chewy!

They serve Sapporo beer too!


I've had a few messages from readers over the Christmas break asking me how my leg is progressing and wanting to know if I'm walking yet. Well, I'm pleased to say that I'm doing quite well. After almost a year of painkillers and antibiotics I've managed to give them all up. I'm still using crutches and wearing a cast with a brace, but I'm hoping to lose that on January 14th and to start rebuilding my fitness in earnest from thereon in. I don't know how long it will be before I can walk but I do have a fairly big hill to climb now that one leg is about 4cm shorter than the other :-( I'm hoping to get some better shoes so that I can start learning to walk but I know it's going to be difficult and that I'll probably need a walking stick for the rest of my natural. It's an adjustment but after so nearly losing my life I'm trying to keep that minor inconvenience in perspective. Thanks to all of you who took the trouble to ask and to wish me well... it helps a lot. XTM

Saturday, 2 January 2010

It's been a while

It's been a while since I posted a food photo so here goes. With a nod towards Lavengro in Spain I offer you Spanish Chicken and Stromboli - just to reassure any European readers that I'm fully house trained and thoroughly international in my outlook. However, it doesn't mean I have to love the EU's political institutions...

Bread from Italy

And spicy Spanish chicken

Friday, 1 January 2010

Some good news to start the new year

Well I'm glad that one's gone. I won't tempt fate by saying 2010 has to be better as I made that mistake last New Year's Day. However, my instincts tell me it should be better and this feeling is in part due to something I read in this morning's Torygraph. It would seem that Peter 'Prince of Darkness' Mandelson has managed (note the word 'managed') to negotiate an indefinite exemption from an EU Directive (sounds softer than law, doesn't it?) that means we can keep the pint, mile and Troy ounce. Our masters in Brussels have yielded and we can now carry on drinking beer and cider from pint glasses and keep listing distances in miles on our roadside signs. It's a small victory against the long march towards European political union, but a happy one. I'm sure it's no skin of the noses of the gauleiters in Brussels and a small price to pay to keep the natives happy. Cheers!