madness frozen out
bones interred together warmed
peace buds in waiting
January 29, 2013
madness frozen out
bones interred together warmed
peace buds in waiting
January 29, 2013
I’ve recently removed the requirement for comments to be ‘moderated’ before they appear – on both my blogs.
I didn’t consciously put them there when I first created the blogs but, getting emails asking for ‘approval’, I suddenly thought “Why do I need to approve them?”. It’s an unnecessary delaying step; if someone has taken the time to comment I’d ‘approve’ it anyway, whether I liked it or not.
What might someone say that I wouldn’t want to appear? Well, I would not want a lot of four word expletives – I’d find them tiresome and some of my followers might find them offensive.
WordPress says not approving increases the likelihood of spam, but the spam filter seems to be very good at picking those up and getting rid of them. I suppose if a lot of meaningless spam began to appear I’d have to think again, but hopefully this won’t happen.
To my mind, if comments are to have any value then they shouldn’t be subject to whether I ‘approve’ of them or not.
So now they are not.
January 20, 2013
Because I have no particular theme for this blog, I am often torn between several subjects. I’ve shunted off classic photography to another blog, but even that’s a problem as there are so many commonalities between cooking, which I often write about on this blog, and the processing side of ‘classic’ photography (ie on film) – measuring, timing, weighing, careful attention, care (even love) – come to think of it, much of that applies to the taking of photographs too.
As I’ve said before, I’ve no need of the WordPress daily prompts; my problem is how to find the time to write about everything which motivates me to write, especially as I have an hiatus in my soujourns on internet as I spend two days away from home attending to the ‘communications’ needs of the small charity for which I work (and I’ve recently introduced a weekly blog for that, though it’s a very simple one).
Then there’s the whole ‘grump’ thing; I originally set up this blog to ‘have a go at’ so much I find wrong with the world, particularly the UK, today. And I’ve written almost nothing about music, which has been an inseparable companion for the whole of my life. It’s coming: I’ve got a major grump boiling up about ‘Classic FM’ radio, which – X-Factoring everything including Beethoven – is getting close to being shut off permanently in my home.
This afternoon I made a small pot of tea (my Romanian wife doesn’t drink it), Yorkshire tea of course (no, it doesn’t grow on the moors here but we know how to select the best) and, fancying something sweet, I spread a couple of slices of my home-made bread with ‘strawberry’ jam. But I don’t like strawberry jam! Except for a very small summer window, strawberries with any really ‘good’ taste no longer exist. The ‘window’ coincides with one of my pet hates – Wimbledon – but this is the English strawberry season.
However, the strawberry jam I ate this afternoon would blow your mind. I say ‘strawberry’ but this was made with miniature versions of the fruit we buy, or maybe grow, here – between 0.5 and 1 cm across. They grow on the lower slopes of the Romanian mountains and are called ‘Fragi’ (that’s ‘fradge’). Even as jam they taste extraordinarily good, but picked fresh on a Romanian mountain they explode in the mouth insisting “This is what a strawberry should taste like”.
That’s not to say there’s nothing in the UK which tastes good – there are many British bloggers I read who show that to be untrue – so today I’d like to sing the praises of red cabbage, which I’ve been cooking to accompany quickly seared slices of pork shoulder around taking some pictures and processing the film for a grumpytykepix photo post – probably tomorrow morning.
The picture above isn’t up to much but I forgot to tart up the plate and take a photograph before I dived (or is that dove?) in.
So, for two people: chop up quarter of a small red cabbage (they’re actually purple of course). Chop up a large shallot (or onion) alongside. Spread freshly ground black pepper over it, sprinkle on a pinch of salt and a handful of juniper berries, tip into a saucepan with a knob of butter and a bit of oil (any good oil will do so long as you avoid the over-publicised poison – margarine). I’d add a chopped up Granny Smith or Bramley apple but then my wife wouldn’t eat it. Put on a low heat with a tightly fitting lid for about 45min, stirring occasionally, until it’s well cooked. Delicious and the perfect accompaniment to pork. I tried some Stella Artois cidre with it (it was a cheap offer in the local supermarket). OK, but a poor substitute for the real thing from Somerset, or Britanny.
January 18, 2013
Although I love to labour over complex classic French recipes, I also like to throw things together quickly, especially when I’m using my female ‘multi-tasking’ alias. Such was yesterday – when, among other things, I wanted to scan a film and do a post for my photo blog. Accomplished. However, seeing that a number of people had dropped in to my ‘About’ on this one, while I was quickly ‘throwing together’ a meal which reminded me of my student days I thought I’d expand a bit on my ‘About’ bio.
Towards the end of my apprenticeship (so approaching 21 years old), when I was studying for a Higher National Diploma in Applied Physics, I was awarded a scholarship to go to university to do a BSc in Physics (clever little sod at that time despite spending most of one year doing gigs up and down the A5 – no M1 motorway then – as the thimble-toting washboard/ukulele player in a skiffle group. Anyone remember skiffle, Lonnie Donegan, a real musician?). By then I was beginning to want to change to something involving writing but I took up the scholarship in London. It lasted only a year before I made a determined attempt to get in to journalism, a goal I reached in about 3 months.
Suet dumpling and Baby Belling
Back to student days. We received our student grant in three amounts a year, one at the beginning of each term. Being totally unskilled in financial management, and caring even less, we spent most of it in the first few weeks. So, what to eat for the rest of the term?
I invented a kind of large biscuit, basically the same recipe as suet dumpling, but flavoured with an Oxo beef cube (or maybe Bovril?), flattened out to a circle about the size of a dinner plate, which went under the grill of the bed-sit Baby Belling cooker for a few minutes. That was ‘dinner’ most days of the week (unless I had a good win at poker).
Yesterday, while drafting this post, I threw some chicken legs, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, a lot of lentils and a very large ‘bouquet garni’ into a Romanian gypsy pot, added pepper (a lot) and salt (very little), covered with water and left to simmer till tender. Then I made my large suet ‘biscuit’ (flour:suet two to one) but instead of Oxo laced it with parsley and sage. Rolled out very roughly to fit the pot, dropped on top of the chicken then in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Simple, quick, but deliciously, warmingly filling on a day when snow is falling.
Into Fleet Street
So, having finished my first degree year I decided not to continue. I walked down Fleet Street, then the true centre of the Press, and called in every editorial office saying I wanted a writing job. “Have you any experience?” was the inevitable question in each one. “No”. “Well come back when you have”.
I was lucky. A good friend’s sister had a boyfriend who was a journalist with a north London newspaper group. He took me to meet the editor. “We can’t give you a job”, he said, “but if you want to come in every day and do whatever we ask we’ll buy you a beer and sausages lunch in the pub every day”. Of course I took it.
First I had to learn to type. I was put in front of a very ancient Underwood typewriter and given a para, which used every key, to type over and over again. It wasn’t ‘The quick brown fox …’ and it’s not repeatable here. I mastered the typewriter.
Then I was sent out on every imaginable kind of story – court reporting, council meetings, accidents, sports events, more than I can remember now. I loved it. I learned so much, but particularly how to make a front page story from nothing, how to condense a story into a selling headline, what makes a good picture, how to cut a story to fit a space without losing its essence and, most important of all, the fact that you can never, never miss a deadline.
Fleet Street again
It was time to attack Fleet Street again. The walk of three months before was repeated, to no avail until I reached Bouverie House, headquarters of a then renowned publisher of trade/technical journals, Benn Brothers. The Editorial Director, Mr Woolley (no first names in those collar and tie times!), agreed to see me. He listened to my story then asked, “Do you know anything about chemistry?” “Not a thing”, I said, though I did have to belatedly sit and pass the GCE ‘O’ level chemistry exam to take up my BSc Physics scholarship. “I’m sorry”, he said, “but the only vacancy we have is on a weekly chemical industry newspaper”. “I’ll take it”, I said, and surprisingly he accepted that. That was 1962.
Again my luck was in. As I have written in my ‘About’ piece, the editor of the chemical industry news journal, Mike Hyde, a superb journalist, was one of the two biggest positive influences on my journalistic life; although he ‘threw me in the deep end’, giving me a major story to cover on my first day, he was always there to advise, guide, correct and understand, helping me to continue to accrue the knowledge and skills which had begun earlier on the local newspapers. He also sent me, for the first time in my life, all over Europe, including Communist Europe, an invaluable experience for someone in their early 20s in the 1960s. (Imagine arriving in, say, Prague, not a word, sign or speaker of English anywhere, everything in Cyrillic. You learn very fast!).
At that time I set myself a target, to be an editor and have an income of £3,000 a year (£42,000 or much more in today’s money) by the time I was 30. I achieved it two years earlier than that, no small credit to Mike Hyde.
Nowadays the chances of a keen young writer being able to repeat my experience is about nil; without a degree in journalism, media studies or the like they’ll have no chance. This has done nothing for the standards of journalism today. The appreciation of the value of learning by experience, as I did during my apprenticeship and my early times in the Press, has been replaced by the idea that everyone MUST go to university. It’s a sad, destructive nonsense.
So now – 1962 – I’m a journalist; I’ll continue the story another day.
January 1, 2013
HAPPY NEW YEAR
to you all
may your year be full of rainbows
November 29, 2012
A deep thought minute
click to click is time enough
the wind raged sea calmed
I haven’t published a haiku, I haven’t written a haiku, for some time.
What I have found is that, for me, composing a haiku requires a certain state of mind, a calm which has been missing from the recent hustle and bussle in my life, mainly catching up on some work projects which had slipped. But there has also been the attempt to get back into film photography, some of the hassles and frustrations of which I’ve been documenting on my other blog, grumpytykepix. And then there are some aspects of everyday life in the present-day UK.
The work catch-up is almost complete. I have finally accepted that getting back into film is not going to be a easy as I thought. And the irritation of so many things imposed upon us, mainly by politicians and the mass media, is being resolved by writing about them (even though my promised ‘grump’ on this blog is, as yet, only in draft).
I’ve been fascinated by a picture published some time ago on one of my favourite photo blogs, ‘Shimmering Grains’. It showed what seemed to be a calm, almost ethereal, scene of the sea. In fact, it was taken during a gale but the sea has been calmed by a long time exposure. A perfect illustration of the oft mis-voiced ‘quote’ – “As tyme hem hurt, a tyme doth hem cure”, Chaucer; or “Time is the healer of all necessary evils”, Menander.
The picture above is a screen grab; the original picture is at:
But if you find beautiful photographs of things natural therapeutic, I’d recommend following this Swedish photographer’s blog.
August 9, 2012
All else mute they look to dawn
Winter waits restore
August 4, 2012
August 3, 2012
Biscuits cut from sky
Baking in the summer sun
Heaven gives look up
Alt for American audience:
Cookies cut from sky
Baking in the summer sun
Heaven gives look up
These shapes immediately brought to mind the tiny ‘biscuits’ which are a part of any celebration in the part of Romania I know well – the northern part. In many different shapes – crescents, stars, cones and many others – they are known as ‘fursecuri’, which I cannot translate but can pronounce: foor-sec-oorr. The only picture I could find of them is: