Archive for 2012

Queer meme

19.11.12 § 2 commentarii

Unashamedly stolen from the magnificent Steve over at Lathophobic Aphasia, who in turn stole it from elsewhere. A short questionnaire addressing the hard-hitting issues affecting the place in society of the modern gay man:

How old were you when you knew you were gay?

God, I can’t remember. As far back as I remember having any kind of interest in unclothed human beings, it’s always been directed primarily towards the male of the species. I never played “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” games as a child (as far as I remember): I honestly can’t recall being all that interested in it.

One of my first memories of sexual arousal, however, one that still (coruscatingly) remains with me comes from my final year of primary school: I would have been about ten or so and just becoming aware of other people as sexual beings. Back then our teachers would get changed for PE in the same room as us (something which would cause not a little alarm and panic these days), and I recall looking up to see my teacher in the act of dropping his trousers. The image rather burned itself into my mind.

When did I realise that such feelings weren’t shared by other boys my age? That I might be one of them? Probably about age thirteen or so. I refused to admit it even to myself for at least a further three years, reassuring myself that it was “just a phase” while furtively staying up to watch Eurotrash on my tiny black and white telly in the hope of some gratuitous male nudity. Comical dubbing still causes a stirring in the loins even to this day.

Have you ever had sex with the opposite sex?

Oh god, yes. Not a few times: both in one night stands while utterly plastered and seventeen (the two being largely synonymous in my case), and with a couple of long-term girlfriends- in so far that one has “long-term” relationships when still in one’s teens. Given that I’m in a long-term relationship with another man and that my primary sexual attraction is towards other men, “gay” does not seem an inappropriate self-designation, but the fact of the matter remains that “bisexual” probably better describes my orientation in practical terms. Or it could just be that I’m not all that fussy.

Who was the first person you came out to?

Gods, I can’t remember. I think it might have been one of the members of the musical theatre group my mother participated in when I was sixteen or so, but I can’t be sure. I can’t even recall if my first coming-out-ee was male or female, gay or straight.

Are you out to your family?

Yes. I came out to my mother pretty early, and my father not long after that. Both of them were distressingly accepting and supportive (although my mother initially didn’t believe me, and replied airily “don’t be daft, you’d make a crap gay”), which really didn’t fit in with the angst-ridden scenario I’d constructed in my head.

All that said, however, I’m still not technically out to my grandmother. It’s pure cowardice. Given that I’ve not mentioned a girlfriend for some twelve years now, and I’ve spent the last ten living with another man (who is quite clearly A Gay), I think she might have guessed. She’s stopped asking me when I’m going to “settle down”, at least.

Do you want children?

Why, when beef is so cheap these days?

Do you have more gay friends or straight friends?

The vast majority are straight. Certainly, the only other homosexual I interact with on a daily basis is my husband.

Were you out in school?

No. All-boys grammar school. I’m sure the lads I was fucking at the time might have had an inkling, though.

Have you ever done Crystal Meth?

Surprisingly, no. It wasn’t all that popular in the late 90s, at least not down our way.

Have you ever been in a sling?


Have you ever done a 3-way?

I object to the vocabulary choice of this question. “A 3-way” is not an action. One has a 3-way, or is in a 3-way. But yes. Not since I’ve been married though. I’m the violently jealous type, and it would all end up in blood.

Have you ever dressed in drag?


Cher or Bette?

Neither. Dolly Parton all the way, baby!

Have you dated someone of a different ethnicity?

Yes. Well, for “dated” read “fucked”. If you line up my previous conquests, it all gets a little bit United Colors of Benetton. Or Crimewatch.

Been to Fire Island? Saugatuck? Key West? Ft. Lauderdale? Palm Springs?

Aside from “somewhere in the USA”, I’m honestly not sure where Saugatuck is. But no, I’ve never been outside of Europe.

Have you ever barebacked?

Well, yes. This was due to 10% drugs and/or alcohol (or just haste, on one occasion), and 90% youthful stupidity. At eighteen, one doesn’t really believe that things like HIV could actually happen to you. It took a nightmare HIV scare and an embarrassing little infection which necessitated a few trips down le centre de dépistage to take the entire affair seriously. On the other hand, after a few years together, the husband suggest we cut down on the number of condoms we were buying. I thought he meant we would simply dispense with them: we just stopped having sex as frequently. A disappointment.

How many Madonna CDs do you own?

None. I barely own any CDs at all these days: my entire music collection is pretty much on mp3. Aside from a few early 80s vinyls, which I treasure but have nothing to play them on.

Name of your first love?

Can’t remember. Marcus, I think. Actually, no, it turns out to be James, on re-examination of the school photo.

Do you still talk to him?

No, haven’t seen him since school.

Does size matter?

My husband reassures me that it doesn’t.

Biggest turn on?

Too many to mention. I’m an equal-opportunities pervert. I will confess a weakness for men wearing a shirt and a pair of tight black trousers, though. This has occasionally led to trouble at work. Apparently managers look unkindly on chefs knocking off the waiting staff on the premises.

Biggest turn off?

I find men who are too “put-together” a turn off: immaculate hair, sculpted body, hairless torso, elaborate yet chic tattoos, fashionably tight clothing? All does nothing for me. I prefer my men a bit rough around the edges, personally. Also piercings below the neck.

Ever been harassed due to your orientation?

Once or twice, when I was younger. I might have mentioned an occasion here before. It tends not to happen anymore, which is a godsend as I’m not entirely sure I’m wholly beyond the stage of wanting to settle such things with my fists.

Worst gay stereotype that applies to you?

What, aside from an unquenchable yen for the cock? I dunno. I can be unnecessarily spiteful at times, but I’m not sure if that’s being a bitch or just not having worked out all my anger issues. Or just having an utterly poisonous personality.

Would you marry if you could?

Good god no. One husband is more than enough, thank you.

Would you rather be rich and smart or young and beautiful?

In honesty, I’d be happy with just the rich, and let smart go hang. Although being young and beautiful might be a novel experience: I feel sure that when I was young I was doing it all wrong, and I’ve never been beautiful.

Ever had sex with more than one person in a day?

More than one person in an hour, actually. I see no reason to go into details here.

Do you have any tattoos?

Yes, a couple. One says “but the Devil sends cooks...”, a sentiment which just reeks of gay lib attitudes.

Do you have any piercings?

Not anymore. When I was eighteen and such things were fashionable, I had my eyebrow pierced and a couple of rings in my upper ear. I grew out of it. I was once tempted by a nipple piercing, but the piercing artist (why are people wielding piercing guns considered to be “artists”? It utterly baffles me.) informed me that I have unusually small nipples and that the endeavour would be entirely fruitless. Piercings of the genitals nauseate me, and navel piercings on men are risible.

Would you date a smoker?

I’m married to one. I am one.

Do you know anyone who has died from HIV?


Grinder or Scruff?

I know what the former is, but not the latter. In a committed, long-term relationship, such things are unnecessary. One can spend all afternoon trying to have sex but failing without recourse any technological aids.

Are your best years behind or in front of you?

I really don’t like to contemplate the question. I’m pushing thirty and am going through not a little panic that the former might be the case.

Got Porn?

Yes. I refuse to divulge exactly how much, for fear of seeming like some kind of sad, flasher-mac wearing, basement-dwelling pervert.

Make out music?

No. I’ve mentioned before that my musical tastes aren’t really suitable for this kind of thing. Making out to Squeeze’s Up The Junction would rather kill the ambiance. God only knows what impression The Jam’s Going Underground would give.

Ever been in love with a straight guy?

Yes, at school. Although “love” is perhaps the wrong word to describe this particular species of adolescent crushing and obsessiveness.

Did you ever have sex with him?

Yes, the ultimate result being us awkwardly avoiding each other for the rest of term. Some things are far more satisfying in thought than in deed.

Have you ever been to a nude beach?

No, in spite of living remarkably close to one. I have little desire to get my cock out in public. Not only that, I am phenomenally hairy and feel rather uncomfortable even taking my shirt off in public, let alone my pants.

Have you ever been to a bath house?

Not personally. There’s one just opposite the stop from which I catch the bus to work, and it’s always interesting to watch the furtive comings and goings. Some men will brazenly walk directly from their car and straight up to the front door with an insouciant grin, others will scuttle past, turning in only at the very last minute. I have yet to recognise any locally significant figures of authority, though, which is disappointing.

What gay gene did you miss out?

I wasn’t aware that we’d determined it was wholly genetic? Oh, I see. Probably the ones responsible for cleanliness, at the very least.


21.9.12 § 0 commentarii

Alfie Boe: Chipper Jesus?

I envy the Greeks

14.9.12 § 5 commentarii

The Hellenes, I often think, are those Reconstructionists who have the greatest stylistic elegance and panache. For example, witness the following Hellenic marriage ritual:

It looks recognisably like a wedding (something most Neopagan "handfastings" fail to entirely), yet is also clearly a Pagan ethnic ritual. The costumes are elegant and unfussy, with a few nods to classical clothing here and there but far from being the getup of a re-enactment group. The ritual actions look on purpose, and the liturgy has only minimal reading from a print-out. (Why is it so difficult for most Neopagans involved in ritual to just sodding learn their lines? If you absolutely must read from something during ritual, at least make the effort and read it from an appropriately grimoire-like bound book. Not a printed sheet of A4.)

Contrast, if you will, virtually any video of a Druid rite. The robes are preposterous, the beards menacing and the delivery wooden. Actions lack any grace, and what are supposed to be portentious silences appear to simply be awkward moments in which the participants have momentarily forgotten what they're supposed doing.


Grub up

8.9.12 § 6 commentarii

I don't post enough about food qua food. Plenty of bitching about cooking it for people I don't much like, but not all that much about actual food. While this is never going to be a recipe blog (I lack the appropriate camera skills), it would be remiss of me as a chef to not include the occasional recipe.

So here is something from this weekend's specials board:

Braised saucisson sec with lentils and caramelised apple

You will need:

  • about two inches of saucisson sec, or similar dried sausage
  • a handful of lentils, maybe 150g? Use lentilles vertes or Puy lentils, not the nasty red things hippies eat. Soak them overnight, or for a few hours before you intend on eating them.
  • a clove of garlic.
  • half an onion.
  • a couple of cèpes. Fresh, for preference, although dried and reconstituted also works. In extremis, normal field mushrooms work, but avoid the fancy Asian shit.
  • a good glug of a decent red wine
  • thyme. As much as you can stand.
  • veal stock. Or beef stock, if you're not in the habit of making your own.
  • half an apple.
  • maybe 100g of sugar? Possibly less.

(This is actually how chefs work. I have yet meet a chef who will religiously measure out ingredients instead of just eyeballing them. This is why we don't all have lucrative cookbook deals; and why those of us who do get ghost writers in to actually do the testing and measuring minutiae.)

What you need to do:

Dice your onion and slice your sausage, the latter on the bias to a thickness of about three millimetres. A pound coin. Any thicker and the sausage is a bit chewy, thinner than this and it burns too quickly. Chuck both in a frying pan over a medium heat with some low-grade pomace and sauté. Sliver your clove of garlic and chuck it in after a couple of minutes. This is also an appropriate point to add your thinly sliced cèpes. Sauté for a further few minutes until the garlic and onion begins to colour, then add the lentils. Muck it about a bit. Use some of that wristy motion and toss the whole lot like you're some kind of pro.

Glug in the wine (actually, no, if you've got it lying around, use vermouth. Not the sweet kind, obviously. That'd be wrong. Or use beer. It gives a really interesting dimension to the finished dish. Just don't use a nasty beer like Budweiser.) and let reduce for a few minutes. Add in enough veal stock to cover the whole to a depth of about half a centimetre. Add the thyme: a good pinch or so. Enough that you can taste it. Obviously fresh thyme, the dried stuff is of the devil and sticks between your teeth unpleasantly. Perhaps a quick squirt of tomato purée would not be contraindicated at this point. Cover and allow to simmer over a low heat for about fifteen to twenty minutes, or until the lentils are tender. You might need to top up the liquid occasionally. Use water for this, not stock, otherwise it will go salty.

Meanwhile, take your apple and core it. Then cut it about a bit artistically. I slice it thinly horizontally, giving pleasing rings of apple. But you can be a bit butch and cut it into wedges. Either works. Take another pan and put the sugar in it. It should be a fairly small pan, as you're not caramelising that much. Sprinkle over the merest suggestion of water and place it over a medium heat. Allow the sugar to caramelise to a very light brown: just after it stops bubbling, basically. Because you're not a big girl, you do not fear hot sugar and throw your apple slices/segments in with insouciant abandon. Muck them about a bit in the pan (do not stir vigorously: you are not attempting to make candy floss.), ensuring that the apples are fully coated in the caramel.

By now, your sausage-mushroom-lentil mix should be ready: glistening invitingly in the pan, with only the merest of liquid sheen over the lentils. If it sticks to the bottom of the pan, you should have added more liquid earlier. This weekend I've been finishing it with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. So do that and then serve over a couple of thick slices of toasted sourdough. Garnish with the caramelised apples, and perhaps something peppery and leafy. Rocket is my normal standby, but at this time of the year it tends to be a bit grim. You can sort yourself out at this point really. Cress isn't actually a bad shout.

Serve with something red and full of body. An agressive wine.


6.9.12 § 4 commentarii

Intoxicated, I worship my gods in the dark,
Carry me there, carry me home.
Through the land of dawn's dark sister,
Carry me safe until the gates are opened.


2.8.12 § 5 commentarii

Sometimes prayers fall silent halfway through. Sometimes composition is to difficult: the central image is too weighty to be supported by surrounding ornamentation. Sometimes, a hymn never really gets started. In those cases, we're left with fragments. Some of them good and worth returning to. Most of them not. However, out of some kind of spiritual housekeeping, in this post I offer up some of the fragments that I've been carrying around.


  For Rigantonā:

Mārodēwā, eχs·yo semet medu wlatēs,  Great goddess, pouring the mead of the land,
Rīgantonā, magesos cassorīganī,  Rigantona, shining queen of the plain,
ne·tē tarbū, ton anwan aramū sepū.  I do not chase you, I whisper your name.
Catous nabā, Eponā, ma wo·tē gniyū  Lady of battles, Epona, in your service,
donyos collaweni rīgei emmi.  I know more joy than any prince.
Buet ton bodiyā mon woproyon.  May your favour be my reward.
Con argantū rīganyās wor canī talū,  With royal silver on a bright brow,
nou lomanā sterānon ambi ton monim,  or a bridle of stars around your neck,
dēwā noibā, dligis moinīs brigowlatēs.  holy goddess, you deserve the treasures of power.
Rīgantonā, wēdū tī, noibolaχsarī,  Rigantona, in your presence, in holy splendour,
are·yon·mī arās wolougon comarcū.  I ask that you grant your light.
Sepos tē, pāpon est temeslei  Without you all is in darkness.
Wēdū aidou, dūcī sedū ni·tē sedū,  Before the sacred fire, I sit and I wait.
Rīgantonā, nemesos cassorīganī  Rigantona, heaven's shining queen,
are dedmīs, dū·tī sin daunon eχs·semū.  for the sake of your power I pour out my praise.


  For the ancestors at Samonis:

Are dubusentūs, au dubutīresī,  Along dark paths, from a dark land,
au dubutegesī, rātī lētoglēssās.  from a dark hall, with grey walls of clay.
Ougros so wintos, ougron sin tīros,  Cold the wind there, and cold the land,
ougros wo aballās, duburīgyē Sucellī.  cold under apple-trees, in Sucellos' dark realm.
Cliton mon aidu, cliton sin baregon,  But warm by my hearthfire, and warm is the bread,
cliton sin curmi, are·yo woset dū swūs.  Warm is the ale, which waits for you here.
Loucos wolougos, dīsclairet are sentun,  For you a bright light, to brighten your path,
Po loucotegos, yon arewoset sī wenyā.  To a bright hall, where family waits.
Rēdosagyete senisamones, sentus est adcoros.  Hurry now ancestors, the way is open.


Atecoman est moi wreχtuwon rogeneson,  I recall your deeds, not unmindful of fame.
Nest ancoman clutī senisamonon.  It is fitting that we remember tonight,
Yālos est dū comanē, yon wertāt blēdanī.  At the turning of the year.
Mātres mon mātros, atres mon atros,  Mothers of my mother, fathers of my father,
are atecoman dī·swūs newū sin curmi,  in remembrance I pour out beer for you,
are atecoman ad·swūs berū sin baregon.  in remembrance I offer you bread.
Edete atawū con snūs sinnoχti, gabete sindā adbertā.  Feast with us tonight. Accept these offerings.


  For Latis:

Dīnewomos nowyolindon,  We pour out a new drink,
    lati nertāt·yo luχtun.    liquor that strengthens the crowd.
Līnāmos otlon lowenū,  We fill the cup gladly
    ar' Latēs nēbolītū.    for Latis' joyful ritual.
To·bere sin cormi bruwyon,  Now bear that lively beer
    ambi labarobruwon,    around the talkative crowd,
yon bardos dī·canet briχtu,  while the bard declaims a rhyme
    ambi medu bracāton.    about malted mead.


  A fragment of a poem for Lugus at Lughnasad:

Nu garyū menwanē, I now call to mind,
    saneston rosenon,     an ancient tale,
Nowiyū ad·wēdū Told anew,
    sugaryūs suwreχtūs.     with well-wrought words.
Ro·cuclowa cantlā, I have heard songs,
    ambi clowos Lugous.     of Lugus' fame.
Dercon daweti·yo, His eye that burns,
    dīgalī nemesos.     with heaven's vengeance.
Wlidubi wlaticon At the feasts of kings,
    Ro·wāta cowidwā,     I have told tales,
Ganon are glanon, Of his birth by the shore,
    gabaglan wogaisī,      his weapon-winning.
Nu·c canū calmiyon, I sing of the skilful one,
    cailācos altiyos.     the foretold fosterling,
Com·yo berte messun, When the harvest was taken,
    braton en magesi.     treachery in the fields.


  Another one for Lugus:

Outronēmī to·agis, You come in terrible beauty,
Lugus belisamos, Brightest Lugus,
rīχs ac barnaunos, King and Judge,
wogaisū ac telmī. With spear and snare.
Lucaton laχsaron, Bright burning eye,
derceti·yo wreχtūs donyon. which sees the works of men.
To·rege son yānon, Stretch out your justice,
to·rege trougocariyan. Stretch out your mercy.


  Sucellos Cintuatīr:

Ā Sucelle Cintuatīr, Sucellos first father,
nu te garyet ton gnatos Your child now calls you
eχs sondū bitū wo sowonan. from this world under the turning sun.
En sulissobi aballon, In your apple-strewn halls,
tande sūs dubnūs rodubūs down in the dark earth's depths,
ate·moi līna paryon. Fill again the cauldron for me.



Cladiwos arewedet dedmin, A sword guides the law,
ambidurnos en argantolāmāi. hilt in a silver hand.
Lāmoletanos nec lāmocaletos, Open-handed, not miserly,
rīχs dagos ernat cowīron, a good king shares out the truth,
wor sindan donan, wo sosin nemos. over this earth, under that heaven.

Fish & chips

8.6.12 § 3 commentarii

Your average Brit, I have noticed, behaves radically differently while on holiday in contrast to when he or she is at home. It seems almost impossible that the Tourist sitting in front of me, clad in shorts, ill-fitting T-shirt and a miasma of sweat and suntan lotion, is the same shirt and tie-wearing white collar worker that lives next door to you. Having had the oppurtunity to observe a number of them at close hand over the years, I have reached the conclusion that at some point between (say) Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Moriconium (perhaps somewhere halfway along the A31), the Householder submits to a wholly perplexing transformation and becomes a Tourist.

What marks the Tourist out, to me, is his slavishness to convention. He thinks that because he is On Holiday, he must do those things which are done while On Holiday. It’s the urge that makes holidaymakers walk along the prom in the rain, swaddled in weatherproof gear and struggling to hold their hoods in place while battling into the gales at a forty-five degree angle. The reason why they sit in deckchairs eating 99s when the south coast is seeing its wettest March in decades. It’s the primal instinct which compels entire families to disgorge from their people-carriers in beach carparks, laden down with windbreakers, lilos, beach umbrellas, silly straw hats, those huge inflatable rings much-favoured by small children, beach-balls, garish swimming shorts, buckets, spades, suncream, sunglasses and myriad other impedimenta. It’s why they eat fish and chips.

Those of you with good memories may recall my mentioning having worked in a chippy. By which I do not mean your average punningly-named[1] neighbourhood fish and chip shop. I mean that for three years I was a manager at a 300-cover fish and chip restaurant located directly on the beach, with an attached takeaway outlet. I have, believe me, seen the Tourist’s mania for battered fish and chips at close hand, in all its gory, white-fleshed detail. It scares me. The chippy was located on the pier approach. Next door there was a ghastly chain pub serving generic pub food; accross the plaza a kind of surfer-themed burger joint; at the end of the pier a fairly unremarkable seafood restaurant; two hundred yards down the beach an entirely remarkable seafood restaurant. Along with stalls selling bugers, hot-dogs, ice-creams and so on and so forth. However, only at the chippy would there be a queue of more than a hundred people waiting to be seated. On a regular basis, a waiter would have to be sent to the back of the queue to inform the people waiting there that it would take at least an hour to get to the front of the queue, let alone be seated. Yet still they would queue, so great is the imperative that while At the Seaside, one should eat fish and chips. I still have nightmares about one August bank holiday. I spent the entirety of my three thirteen-hour shifts behind the frying range, mechanically dunking fillets of cod into rice flour, then batter, then hot oil. The till reports at the end of Monday revealed that we had served more than five thousand meals that weekend. Five thousand. Admittedly, Jesus managed the same over the course of a single evening using only two small fish (we used about a ton, all told), but I still think it’s pretty impressive.

The link between being At the Seaside and fish and chips is a remarkably strong one. In fact, one can use it as something of a tell when dining in a pub within five miles of the coast: chain pubs will serve normal pub food, indistinguishable from all the other pubs in the estate- a Harvester is a Harvester is a Harvester, be it situated on the beach or in the middle of Birmingham. Freehouses, however, will most likely style themselves as “specialising in seafood”. In many cases, this equates to a prawn cocktail (defrosted, water-sodden shelled prawns in a mix of cheap ketchup and mayo, lounging forlornly on yellowing iceberg) among the starters and then scampi and battered cod amongs the mains. Some self-consciously “traditional” places might have a pint of prawns on the menu, but it’s often rather uninspiring. I am fortunate that the Bear is not such a pub: the Head Chef is actually really good with seafood, and our weekend specials can vary from homely traditional classics like whisky-potted shrimp to elaborate Thai-influenced dishes with strangely named fish and red curry paste. I’ve learnt a great deal over the past year. Coming from a background in patisserie and viande mainly, I confessed during my interview that I knew dick about fish, and now I occasionally contribute the odd seafood special myself. I have a particular weakness for pork and fish together, so my suggestions have been things like garlicky king prawns with chorizo, salt cod and saucisson sec, trout wrapped in bacon.

However, the Tourist generally does not find such gastronomic triumphs tempting. (Besides, it is particularly heartbreaking to send a dish like these and have the customer request tartare sauce.) No, sir, after a long day working very hard at relaxing, with truculent young children in tow who would rather be playing X-box or MySpace with fellow prepubescent hoodies, he knows exactly what he wants: he wants cod, he wants it in batter, and he wants it served with chips, mushy peas and a wedge of lemon[2]. This, of course, gets pretty damn vexing. Unfortunately, visitors to Twynham are generally unaware that far from being a touristic hotspot, the town is actually just a place where old people come to collect their pensions until they die. There literally is fuck all to do here: we’ve got a big church, a rather underwhelming ruined castle and a market on Mondays which sells bird-houses, enormous knickers and knock-off country and western CDs. And that’s it. As a result, prospective day-trippers discover that by about two o’clock they have seen and done everything that there is to be seen and done in town. The children are moody and hungry, you’re in desperate need of a pint, and oh look, that pub has a wonderful large courtyard where we can sit outside. (Twynham is also remarkably child-unfriendly. There isn’t a pub anywhere with an actual garden or play area for children. The Bear’s courtyard is about the only place in town where kids can run around, let off steam and piss everyone in the vicinity off.) So, just as lunch service is winding down and I’m thinking about sitting down with a cup of coffee and a cigarette, bloody tourists come in all afternoon demanding battered cod and chips.

Ultimately, I have no idea why. For a start, I find cod a particularly insipid fish, and don’t understand what’s so great about batter. I suspect that the impulse for fish and chips isn’t simply a desire for “plain food”- we do after all also have a steak pie and a burger on the menu- rather some kind of morphic resonance with the presque-marin environment. Perhaps they (rather charmingly) cling to the belief that the fish is caught and landed locally? It almost certainly isn’t. For a start, although Twynham technically has a harbour, it hasn’t supported a fishing fleet for the best part of a century. About the only seafood landed on the Quay are crabs caught by children on bits of string. These days, the harbour is more of a marina where the pleasure-craft of the rich bob unused for much of the year.

And there’s also the question of the fish. Neither cod nor haddock is endemic to the Channel. Rather more likely is it that your cod has been caught somewhere in the north Atlantic by some industrial trawler, not a picturesque little fishing boat. And that’s even when your fishmonger is a reputable local supplier who deals only in fresh fish. It’s far from unlikely that in fact, the cod has been caught and frozen, flown to China to be boned, skinned and filleted and then flown back to the UK to be distributed by a national foodservice company such as Brakes or 3663. And don’t even mention scampi: the fishmonger we use is entirely reputable but even as far as he’s concerned breaded scampi comes out of the freezer in bags.

What I would love to see is a new, liberated tourist, who has broken free of the shackles of convention and woken up to the fact that there is more to life than cod and chips. That a seaside holiday doesn’t mandate battered fish, fish whose most recent stopping-point was a refrigerated transport container somewhere outside of London. That perhaps if you do feel the need for something fishy when by the sea, it might be a good idea to seek out an independent place which serves locally-caught fresh fish, cooked in inventive ways. I would also like to see this New Tourist before the summer holidays, as my fryer can only take so many fish at a time and the less strain placed upon its ageing mechanisms the better.


1) Should I ever find myself opening and running one, I’ve already decided that it will be called “Oh, Cod, Why?”

2) The truculent young children will opt for chicken nuggets, generally. I always skimp on the chips and send a gratuitous amount of dressed salad with them, out of spite. The wails of “mummy, I don’t like salad!” can sometimes reach the kitchen, which brings a spark of glee to my cold, black heart.

Sod the Queen

1.6.12 § 0 commentarii

I fucking swear to god, the next Union Flag I see I will douse in gasoline and burn, like some kind of agitated Iranian. The Bear has the damn things everywhere, of course, and indeed some customers have been asking if we’re operating as some kind of BNP recruitment centre. It’s not just at work, either: when in Tesco’s earlier, I saw a box of Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers emblazoned with the bloody technicolour dishcloth.

I am aware that it’s all in honour of the pleasant old German lady who’s been occupying Buckingham Palace for sixty years. I’ve been doing my best to blithely ignore it all, putting the thought of a four-day bank holiday weekend firmly out of my mind. This has become increasingly difficult. A small child wearing a plastic Union Jack trilby cannonballed into me earlier, singing what I assume was supposed to be “God Save the Queen”, if atonally keening that phrase over and over again with no reference to the actual tune does indeed count as such. The urge to strangle it[1] with the bunting it was trailing behind itself was overwhelming.

Even though I find the ubiquity of the British flag (and that dreadful Diamond Jubilee logo[2]) to be remarkably unBritish, it is not this that irritates me. Nor is it the programme of (non-)events that irritates me: if the nation wishes to spend its money organising street parties in order to eat sponge cake and damp sandwiches with people they would never even dream of conversing with on any other day of the year, that is entirely up to them. If Sir Paul McCartney, JLS, Jessie J and other acts who tick all the appropriate minority checkboxes want to bawl their way through forgettable “hits” in front of Buck House, good luck to them. If floating down the Thames in a flotilla of dinghies seems to you to be the ideal way to fête Her Maj, good on you (do be careful, though, you might float all the way out of London: be warned that “official” celebrations outside the capital are strictly forbidden.)

No, what irritates me is that rather than having any time off at all, I shall instead be doing fifty-two hours on shift over the four days. I hope it fucking rains.


1) Current fashion, and the reticence of many “Yummy Mummies” to subject their darling sons to regular haircuts, has led to a veritable host of prepubescant children of ambiguous gender. Frequently, one can only be sure that the child in question is female if it is wearing a skirt.

2) Yes, I know it was designed by a six year old. I still think it’s bloody tacky. The Canadian and Australian Jubilee emblems are far more restrained and tasteful.

El blogare pezur del mun

12.5.12 § 1 commentarius

Cosài, n’amaic mai blogare a declarat de recènt ca jal è « el blogare pezur del mun » devoit a cal ca nun a postat nògla pe doje jèdme. Jèu lo recusài complait. O jèu san de clar el blogare pezur del mun, devoit a cal ca nun postài nògla despòi decèmbro, lanaica. Nun ai a avoit mult de blogar.

Peraltro, sebèn ca jèu n’aja nògla d’interesant a dair, chisài ai na caosa interesant en çal jèu lo pòs dair. Çò jè jal ca vojaltrei lezaitei acà — la lènga se daiç el dravean. Çalei d’èntra voi chi avaitei boane memòrie potratei nè recordarvo sa mai blog precedent. Jèu l’ai modificat bèn despòi.

El dravean jè na lènga romànica — d’evident — favlata antel zoi-zàpad del ch’è l’Òngrea en univers nòstro, jèntro Lac Pelsun e la Drava. Jèu maçnài ca jala av cènc annei ao bein çò adura, potèstro o paoc mai. Man recòrd ca jèu l’ai comensata durant el praim an mai al’unitversitat : le motivaseunei maje principale jara n’amurèt pel dalmasun veglot e n’envaja de crajar na lènga romànica bèn faça. Le lènge romàniche reçaip raje crítiche antela comunitat conlang : jale san criticate comu nojante ao banalei. Çalei ca cognusç mult dela filològea romànica – jèu me setài roi de maçnarme comu filologista – soal deriderle a caosa de soi manc de probaveltat : paochei capèsc comu complecata jè l’evoluseun stúrica dela famègla romànica.

Adunc, a mai la verisimilitúden jè fòrt important. Comu na varietat dela periférea, jala varda mult arcaïsmei perdoitei antele lènge del « còrd romànic » — j.j. français, catalan, taglan — de manèra fonològica e morfosintàctica. Pe esamplo, la leniseun intervocàlica jè assènta, e lei nomei ambizènerei san bèn mai frecoant ca en taglan ao spagnol vedran. Le caose noave san partazate cu le altre varietatei dela periférea, comu romanèsc, taglan del zoi e el veglot : la scàmbea del sistema bicasual romànic alei pluralei vocàlichei jè n’esemplo boan acà. Cèrtei, ai av multe inovaseunei specífiche ala lènga, comu l’/ɔ/ paragog, e la metafonesi trelusa antele furme vèrbalei.

De recènt, pòi d’acherait na còpea del tesi « The Linguistic Unity of Northern Italy and Rhaetia » (Hull, 1982), jèu ai soloit revisar la stúrea fonològica e alcoinei aspectei del gramàtica, en façant el dravean mai comu lei veçainei soi mai praçainei. San del’opineun ca’l latàn de Panògna setà plaça en o continuum cu lei latainei de Raetia, Noricum, Illiria e çò ca daiç Hull « Padànea » — o tèrm gloreus prestat malgratamènt sa naseunalistei de carater mai dubitavlo — e cosài el dravean mai jè de ressemblat açò : n’isola romànica en o mar de barbarei, favlanei zarman, sclavan e ongran.

Adunc sai. Sebèn jèu n’avis nògla de dair acà, nun foi osos.