Monday, 12 March 2018

Feeling Blue About Genes

How I think I look (left); how I actually look (right).

YOU see those ads for genetic tests all over the TV. One gob of spit and someone can tell you that your ancestors are a mixture of Outer Mongolian, Native American, Australian aborigine with, I'm pretty sure in my case, the lion's share of Common Peasant.

I live in Devon in the UK, a county that shares a border with Cornwall, so I was surprised to read that genetically I have little in common with my Cornish cousins. I have more in common with Anglo Saxons than Celts, which upsets me because I have always believed that underneath my short dumpy exterior was a tall, red-headed, feisty warrior woman trying to get out.

Unfortunately, what I actually am is a stumpwort to the bone. This is a term coined for the local people by poet Sylvia Plath when she came to live in Devon with husband and later poet laureate Ted Hughes. It doesn't sound a very flattering term but it is a wonderful word! I’m not sure what was in her mind but in my stumpwort brain it conjured up people who were short, dark, didn’t mind living in inhospitable places - and were possibly poisonous. That’s OK. I can live with that.

So what, I wonder, are the characteristics of us Devonian stumpworts? From personal experience I should say our good points are that we are, generally speaking, hard-working, stoic and loyal.

We stumpworts are not given to wild outpourings of emotion but espouse that stiff upper lip - far better in my opinion than that kind of emotional diarrhoea that makes people bare their most private souls on TV and the internet these days. No, give me a stiff upper lip any day. I much prefer repression to expression and I don't care that psychologists say that "keeping it in" is bad for you. I believe that letting it all out is even worse.  Every day I am subjected to some private outpouring that I think would have been much better kept behind closed doors. 

If I'm sounding like a killjoy, let me get on to the stumpwort's dry sense of humour with deadpan comments delivered in such a way that no one quite knows whether you are joking or not. The trick is to say the most outrageous thing and immediately follow it up with something mundane, without cracking a smile. The listener is left wondering, “Did I really hear that?” But we are not as witty as we think we are which is why a teacher once wrote on my school report, “Patricia suffers from a misplaced sense of humour.” My parents laughed out loud at that one, their sense of humour being somewhat misplaced as well.

Then there is the stumpwort's complete refusal to be impressed by anyone, which is why celebrities like to visit or make their homes in Devon. I reckon Angelina Jolie could walk into our local and all that would happen is that someone would look up and say "aye, aye," in greeting and get back to their cider and discussing the farm-gate price of milk.

So I'm proud to be a repressed, self-controlled stumpwort. We may not be the most beautiful things that God ever made but we have our uses 

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Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Shit, It's Snow!

I EXPECT all my friends who live outside the UK know that we Brits are obsessed by the weather. It's our primary topic of conversation and especially at this time of year. Although snow is not unusual in the winter months it seems to always take us by complete surprise and after few flakes of the white stuff the country grinds to a halt. We're quite pathetic - but at least we can laugh at ourselves!

Take a look at this little video below. It made me laugh!

*If you are offended by bad language, best not to view it!

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Saturday, 17 February 2018

Real Men Eat Yogurt

I HAD an email from friend and ex-colleague today. Just like my better half, he's not the most adventurous eater in the world. Here's part of his email:

I've just eaten a yoghurt, voluntarily. I also bought said treat, several days ago. In fact, it was past its sell-by date, but obviously you couldn't possibly tell by taste.

The last time I ate a yoghurt was in October, 2017, at the Arcow Quarry, near Horton-in-Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire. The first, and only other time I've eaten a yoghurt was on Shap Fell, near Penrith, Cumbria, in November, 2013.

That's quiche and yoghurt. I'll be trying pizza or pasta next, NOT.

I'm off to the fridge to get a Mars bar.

PS It was raspberry flavour.

Here's my very helpful reply:

Don’t let the fact that yogurt is essentially gone off milk full of bacteria deter you from trying another in 2019.

Forget about quiche because real men don’t eat it. I think you would like pizza as it’s basically Welsh rarebit with a bit of tomato and few herbs, which you could always scrape off. Pasta is only boiled flour and water – what’s not to like?

Mars bars are full of goodness if you believe the old adverts. And they will help you to work, rest and play if you eat one every day. I’m pretty sure, but don’t quote me on this, that they are even healthier deep fried.

Nutrition Adviser to the Stars

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Monday, 29 January 2018

'Sniff By' Dates

Dr Crippen needn't have bothered with the hyoscine hydrobromide
he used to poison his wife, he could have opened a dodgy
packet of prawns and made her a sandwich.

I AM now, officially, a statistic. The Food Standards Agency reports that one in three of us is gambling with our health by using food past its 'use by' date. I'm afraid I am one of those people, although I am still here to tell the tale.

Obviously, if it smells like a post-mortem, is attempting to crawl out of the fridge on its own or is covered in slime, I give it a wide berth. Other than that, it's fair game.

If you have been religiously checking those 'use-by' dates all your life, don't let me persuade you to do otherwise. I don't want to be personally responsible for a virulent outbreak of food-poisoning. But, speaking personally, I rely on my own judgement rather than a date-stamp.

I'm not a 'use-by' person, more of a 'sniff-by' kind of a girl. If it doesn't smell whiffy, it's edible. 
Now it seems my attitude to those dates could be lining me up for some unmentionable gastric illness as I could well be ingesting salmonella, e.coli and listeria along with that squidgy brie smothered on my cracker.

I have a suggestion for the Food Standards Agency. If they want us all to stick to the 'rules', then don't make them so confusing. For there are use-by dates, sell-by dates and best-before dates. It seems the sell-by dates are meaningless and the best-before dates are created by the manufacturer as a suggestion because they want you to eat their products when they are in tip-top condition.

The only one that has any real value is the use-by date - the one I have been studiously ignoring. And even those are flexible up to a point, for manufacturers tend to err on the side of caution.Up to now I have tended to look on those dates more as a challenge.

Cheddar with a blue covering? Cut it off and eat the rest, is my attitude. A packet of custard powder that orders me to use it by January 7, 2009? I'll make that raspberry trifle when I want to and I may not want to for a few more weeks...or years.

I refuse to believe that a tin of beans that is perfectly safe to eat at 11.59pm, suddenly becomes poisonous a minute later. If it were true, Dr Crippen wouldn't have bothered using hyoscine hydrobromide to poison his wife, he would have opened a dodgy packet of prawns and made her a sandwich. In the interests of historical accuracy, Crippen TRIED to poison his wife but gave her too much hyoscine hydrobromide which caused her to go screamingly mad - so he shot her. Oh well…

According to the Food Standards Agency, we in the UK throw away 7 million tonnes of food every year, the majority of which could have been eaten. Wasting food like this costs the average household £470 a year.

As for all of those dates  generally speaking they are not regulated in the way many people believe. The current system misleads consumers to believe they must discard food because it's dangerous to eat when in fact most of the dates are only suggestions.

For now I'm going to continue with my "sniff" method. I haven't poisoned anybody yet. At least, I don't think I have. Which reminds me, I wonder what happened to my old schoolfriend who popped round for a sandwich in 2016? She hasn't been back since.

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Saturday, 13 January 2018

Trump Trumped

Don't make me come over there, Donald.

DONALD Trump has once again engaged mouth before engaging brain, this time calling various African countries, Haiti and El Salvador "shitholes".

I don't want to belittle the gravity of his utterings but you know what he needs, don't you?

My mother.

I can just hear her after reading about this on the news.

"Don't make me come over there, Donald. 

"You're old enough to know better.

"If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. 

"If I want your opinion, I'll ask for it.

"Oh, and Donald, go to your room and think about what you said!"

He'd better  not react in the wrong way either. "Wipe that smile off your face before I do it for you. And Donald, when you start acting like an adult, I'll start treating you like one. "

I'm going to  bang your two heads together.

She'd soon have sorted out his little spat with North Korea's Kim Jong-un too. 

" I'm going to bang your two heads together. 

"I don't care who started it, I'm finishing it! 

"Why? Because I said so. 

"You'd better start behaving because I'm going to count to three. 

"OK, stop crying you two or I'll give you something to cry about.  

"Now you both say you're sorry and mean it!"


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Sunday, 31 December 2017

Making Conversation

Sadly, I'm already there!

I'M not really a party animal but I can shake a tail feather or two should the need arise. I'm not so bothered about making a fool of myself on the dance floor – even if I do look like an arthritic pensioner on speed - as being stuck for conversation with a stranger.

I'm not like the better half who loves talking to people or, more importantly, listening to what they have to say. At the end of any occasion he is full of the stories he has been told and the interesting things he has found out. Just don’t get him started on politics. I’ve seen grown men weep after being cornered and subjected to his forthright views.

I’m not good at small talk and dread a silence descending on a conversation. I cast about for something to chat about as my opposite number throws panic-stricken glances towards the door. Or worse, I start babbling - and eyes glaze over and smiles fix on faces.

As a former newspaper person I tend to fill up the silences by relapsing into interview mode and people can feel like I’m interrogating them rather than chatting. I haven’t yet asked the questions: “Do you mind telling me how old you are?” or “Could you spell your name, please?” but I’m sure they will slip out one day.

Over the years I have tried to soften that approach and I have gathered a mental check-list of things to ask. They are of the "isn’t the weather lovely/dreadful for the time of year, what do you do for a living, where did you grow up, do you have any pets?" variety. I know to steer clear of politics (better half, take note) and religion so I don't ask anyone what they think of a hereditary third chamber or whether transubstantiation is a metaphor or a reality.

But after one recent encounter I considered changing my tactics when it came to the art of conversation. I was approached by a smiling man who said: "I was always told not to speak to strangers but you don't look like a serial killer." It made me laugh and broke the ice and we had a lovely chat about crime channels on TV and then about the beautiful walks in Devon where, hopefully, no serial killers are lurking.

So, I thought, from now on I'm going to ask an ice-breaker question and see where it leads me. The problem would be finding the balance between sounding interesting and humorous or coming across as a complete idiot you would walk naked across Dartmoor in winter to avoid. It's a fine line but I was willing to risk it.

I asked my family for some help in thinking up that icebreaker question and, surprise, surprise, they looked at me as if I were mad (believe me, I'm used to that look) and were less than helpful. One niece said I should start by asking: "If you feed a chicken sausages, will it lay a scotch egg?" I shook my head in despair but she justified it by saying I could then go on to talk about all the people who keep hens in their gardens. Yes, that's if they're still around to talk to and not pretending someone on the other side of the room is waving to them.

Most were total conversation stoppers rather than starters so I won't be asking: "Who do you think is responsible for the blame culture in this country?" Thank you, nephew. And he offered this gem as a way of getting into someone’s good books: "If you were a nose, I would pick you first." And there goes another one making a bolt for freedom.

I read somewhere that words contribute only 10 per cent to a conversation; the rest is made up of tone of voice and body language. So I'm practising not crossing my arms or legs in a defensive pose, relaxing my shoulders, keeping eye contact, nodding while other people talk and using my hands expressively.  I need to talk more slowly and in a slightly deeper voice than normal. All good tips I found on the internet.

This is great, I thought, and at the next family get-together decided to practise on relatives. I approached one likely candidate and clean forgot my "icebreaker" question, but suddenly remembered the one about the chicken and the scotch egg. I blurted out this “hilarious” joke and received a stony stare in return. So I started to babble about hens and gardens - then remembered my internet research and began to talk more slowly and a tone lower. I waved my hands about in what I thought was an expressive manner. I stared her in the eye and unslumped my shoulders so much that they were practically at my knees.

She looked at me unsmilingly for a few seconds as I waited for her response to my scintillating conversation. She finally said: "Are you drunk?" and walked off. That’s the thing about family members, there’s no sugar-coating any pills.

Oh well, the next time I need to talk to someone I will start by commenting on the weather and then ask them what they do for a living. If they tell me how old they are and how they spell their name, so much the better.

Happy New Year, everyone.

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Monday, 25 December 2017

Christmas Memories

(Published in Devon Life in December 2017)

Ideal Christmas gift: An Action Man deserter!

IS it that time of year already? It seems like only yesterday I was writing my December column for 2016 and wittering on about Umble Pie, made from the innards of a deer. Umble Pie is now so far from ‘umble that Heston Blumenthal serves it with powdered duck and smoked confit fennel. Powdered duck? Don't ask me…
Yes, Christmas looms on the horizon. I know lots of people love the festive season and everything that goes with it but there are plenty who dread the whole affair. There's the perennial cry of “it's too commercialised" and some think it's just for the children. I'm not surprised children love Christmas when you look at how much money we spend on them. It's shocking that some families get into debt because little Tyrone absolutely has to have the latest games console or else he'll be a social pariah (or a social piranha, as I heard one person pronounce it) at school. Some cost around £500, and that's even before you buy any of the games that go in it.
Oh dear, I'm becoming one of those boring people, always harping back to the good old days when all I got was a new frock and a tangerine in the foot of a (very small) sock.
But looking back at my own Devon Christmases I have only fond memories. Like most kids in the year dot, we had presents only at birthdays and Christmas. There was always one main present and several little ones, including the very un-PC gifts of sweet cigarettes and a chocolate pipe with desiccated coconut "tobacco". There was always an annual of some kind usually the Beano, Rupert Bear or Champion the Wonder Horse.
In my family there were strict gender demarcations which would make any equality rights officer these days shake their head in despair.  The girls had dolls and books while the boys had Meccano and, one glorious year, a small steam engine that powered the wonderful Meccano creations made by my brothers.
As for the main gift, one year I had a walkie-talkie doll called Susan with black hair and bright red lips. I still had her up to a few years ago when she finally gave up the ghost to depart for that great dolls’ hospital in the sky. By then she was minus her lovely black hair which I cut off when playing hairdressers one day. My mother tried to glue on some new hair so she looked like a minor male celebrity with a bad toupee. Susan was made of hard plastic so not exactly cuddly. Her ‘talk’ was a cry when you tilted her and her ‘walk’ a very stiff-legged perambulation from the hip when you pushed her, resembling not so much a little girl strolling as a Nazi goose-stepping.
Then there was the desk with the lift-up lid which, little swat that I was at Chawleigh Primary School, was one of my favourite presents ever, and one year a Timex Cinderella watch in a ‘glass’ (i.e. plastic) slipper.
As soon as we stopped believing in Santa we started assiduously searching for the hidden gifts in the run-up to Christmas. We children performed a fingertip search of the house and farm buildings which would make any forensic scientist proud but we never unearthed as much as box of crayons. It was only later that we discovered that all our presents were safely stored at my Auntie Rita's house in Wembworthy and were collected by my father on Christmas Eve when we were  tucked up in bed.
 Of course we saved up our pennies to buy presents for mum and dad. Dad nearly always got Polo mints because we had horses and they liked them! Mum was the recipient of a range of cheap ornaments which she pretended to love with a passion. They would stay on the sideboard for a few weeks before being quietly stowed away inside. Or if we were cash-strapped we watched Blue Peter avidly in the run-up to Christmas before cobbling together some flimsy pen pot or a Santa made of cardboard and cottonwool with the obligatory "sticky-backed plastic" holding it all together.
They managed never to look anything but delighted and I know it's a cliché, but it really is the thought that counts.
I’m not quite ready for Christmas yet but I will know that the festive season has well and truly begun when the better half delivers his one and only Christmas joke. He claims that one year his parents gave him an empty shoebox - and told him it was an Action Man deserter.
Merry Christmas, everyone.

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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Essential Christmas Tips

Think I might open up a few cans of this.
Do you think my family will notice?
IT'S that time of year again - the family fights, the tantrums, the crocodile tears and the melodrama. Yes, that’s the EastEnders Christmas special all wrapped up and ready to be broadcast.

If you're anything like me you are staring at a pile of unwritten cards and frozen into immobility by the remembrance that you are hosting the family Christmas day dinner this year.

Still, over the years I have amassed a few tips to help me over the festive period.
  • Be sparing with the red food colouring, otherwise your Christmas nibbles will look like you’ve accidentally sliced open an artery while cooking.
  • Do not blindly follow last year’s Christmas card list. A certain percentage will have died, divorced, had a sex change or moved to Timbuktu, probably to get away from Christmas.
  • Never do those Christmas quizzes which ask for things like your month of birth and the first letter of your name so they can ascertain your ‘Christmas fairy’ name - not unless you want to be called Sparkly Knickers for the rest of your life by your young niece.
  • Always leave your Christmas lights carefully wrapped around cardboard to avoid hours of frustration and rage as you try to untangle them, only to find three hours and a bucket of tears later they don’t work because one of the hundred bulbs has blown.
  • Wrap up a box of chocolates so that if someone you weren’t expecting turns up with a present you can quickly write on the tag and give it to them, as if they were on your mind all the time. Make sure it’s chocolates you particularly like yourself so that if they’re not needed you can eat them after Christmas. Actually, better be on the safe side and wrap up two boxes of chocolates, plus a couple of bottles of red wine and maybe some nice perfume and that scarf you’ve had your eye on for a while.
  • Do not offer to make Christmas decorations with children under the age of 10. By the time you’ve finished with all that glue, glitter and tinsel you will look like Liberace’s twin.
  • Don’t believe parents when they tell you their children are ‘just as happy playing with a cardboard box as the present inside’. I can assure you, you will get some very sideways looks if all you give their child is the old box your Amazon books came in. Don't ask me how I know...
  • Gentlemen, do not buy your wife any kitchen appliance, ‘sexy’ red underwear that’s too risque for a burlesque dancer or a woolly bed jacket that’s too boring for your granny, or a box set of Top Gear DVDs, a car-cleaning kit, any book by a super-model that tells you how they lost two stone in a week, or a Black and Decker drill - not unless she has expressly requested such a gift.
  • Remember, just because that liqueur tastes like melted toffee swooshed around in cream, it still contains alcohol. A few glasses before cooking dinner is not recommended - as I found out to my cost one year.
  • Don’t forget to say well done to ALL the children in the nativity play, even though your nephew, Third Shepherd From The Right (the one with the crooked tea towel on his head kicking the child next to him) was the best by a country mile.
  • Disconnect the front door bell so that if unwanted visitors turn up, you can pretend you haven’t heard them.
  • And finally, sweep the chimney, hang up your stocking and wait for Santa to bring you everything you have ever wished for.

Have a great Christmas.

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Monday, 27 November 2017

Supergran at the Supermarket

I have a gun and know how to use it.

I’M not averse to a little shopping - trying on shoes, finding that perfect dress or buying jumbo Toblerone, that kind of thing. But supermarket shopping is a different story. I find it hard to get excited over bargain packs of baked beans. And you won't see me with my calculator working out whether it's cheaper to buy a mammoth box of soap powder or three little ones.

Then there’s the way supermarkets make it impossible to work out the comparative prices of certain items unless you have a degree in mathematics.

I was looking at the tomatoes this week. There were loose ones, priced per kg; some in a bag, priced per lb; and others wrapped on a polystyrene tray that were priced per tomato. I presume it’s all designed to confuse the shopper so that they might accidentally pick up the dearest item.

Supermarket prices, too, go up and down all the time. You don’t know from one day to the next what price your kilo of butter will be. The government tells us inflation is at an all-time low, working it out with a supposedly representative “basket” of goods. I don’t know what the government is putting in its shopping basket - a packet of Polos, a dog lead and a book called How To Pull The Wool Over Voters’ Eyes, I should think.

They’re certainly not filling it with anything I buy regularly from the shops. Last year a big tub of butter was costing me £2, now it’s £2.39. I’d tell you what the percentage increase was if I could work it out.

I also have an unerring instinct for getting in the wrong queue. A man who’s lost his bank card? I’m in that queue. The check-out girl who finds the need to comment on every item as she scans it very slowly? I’m the one raising my eyes to heaven. A woman who’s decided she’s forgotten something and sets off at a trot to find it and is gone for ten minutes? That’s me two people back, drumming my fingers on a packet of fishfingers.

All this reminds me of a story I heard, which I’d love to be true but am pretty sure is just an urban myth.

An elderly American woman did her supermarket shopping and, upon returning to her car, found four young men about to drive off in her vehicle. She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun (this is America, after all) and screamed, ‘I have a gun, and I know how to use it. Get out of the car.’

The young men ran.

The woman loaded her shopping and got in the car - but she couldn’t get her key into the ignition. She glanced over her shoulder and spotted a football and two 12 packs of beer. A few minutes later, she found her own car parked a few spaces farther down. She drove to the police station to report her mistake. 

The sergeant to whom she told the story couldn’t stop laughing. He pointed to the other end of the counter, where four pale young men were reporting a car-jacking by a mad, elderly woman described as white, less than five feet tall, glasses, curly white hair, and carrying a large handgun.

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Friday, 24 November 2017

Do It "Dreckly"

Unless you're from the west of the England, you have probably never come across the word "dreckly". It's a great word and we use it all the time here.

It's short for "directly" as in, "I'll do it directly," or "I might get round to it sometime if I'm in the mood and can be bothered," or "This is so far into the future that I'm not going to think about it now." But sometimes it just means "later" and the promised event turns up a while later, it might be in an hour's time or it could be six months. You never quite know what you're going to get with "dreckly"!

It's similar to the word "manana" but not nearly so urgent.

My mother used this word a lot. Whenever you asked a question like, "When are we going to the seaside?" the answer was always, "Dreckly." Or it might be something like, "When will I be allowed to go shopping on my own?" Dreckly. "Can I  have a new toy?" Dreckly. "When will I be old enough that you stop spitting on your hankie and rubbing my face?" Dreckly.

It's symptomatic of a fairly laid-back way of life. Things will happen in their own good time and there's no point in worrying.

There, that's this post finished. I hope you all read it but if you don't have time now, try to get round to it dreckly.

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Friday, 17 November 2017

Artistic Licence

So you find this on your lovely white wall.

So what are you going to do about it? Give the child a good talking to and paint over the drawing?
Not necessarily...... Here's one dad's response:

Made me laugh!

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Friday, 29 September 2017

Food, Glorious Food

My Devon Life column for the Food and Drink issue in June. Take a look at the subscription offers - they're very good!

Here's a cheesecake. Not the one I made. Mine was considerably
messier - but tasted very nice!

HERE I am, a well-padded Devon Maid of a certain age. I bet you assume I’m a good cook. Well, you’re wrong. There are certain dishes I have got down to a fine art, like Sunday roasts and cottage pie but you will never find me in the kitchen rustling up a nice piperade or blanquette de veau, although I have been known to turn chicken stew into coq au vin by chucking in half a bottle of red wine.

I am quite good at cooking fish as I have a nephew who goes sea fishing off Exmouth and brings me mackerel and pouting. There’s nothing better than mackerel fillets, from fish that were swimming in the sea a few hours ago, simply pan-fried and seasoned. I use pouting as I’d use cod. Occasionally there’s a lovely big bass which I stuff with herbs, butter and lemon juice and bake in the oven.

He, incidentally, is a brilliant cook, unlike his brother whose foray into domestic science when he was at school consisted of flapjacks and sausage rolls in his morning cookery lesson. They were carefully packed into a cake tin and placed in his duffel bag. He then proceeded to play football with his friends all through the day’s playtimes while the bag bounced around on his back. In the evening he proudly opened up a tin full of a jumbled mass of cake, pastry and sausages

As for me, there are no home-made jars of chutneys and pickles lining my shelves or a nice sourdough or focaccia loaf still warm from the oven on my bread board.

The only time I tried to make bread, the better half used it as a door-stop. He thought he was hilarious. Me, not so much.

In my defence, I had been using an ancient bread-maker given to me by my mother who neglected to tell me that this machine had been made at the dawn of bread-making technology. It gave up the ghost half way through its cycle and fused all the electricity in the house. I reset the trip and as the dough still looked a bit ‘bready’ I finished cooking it in the oven. Not one of my better ideas.

I’ve given up bread-making for now but I am considering trying it again after reading that Paul Hollywood says kneading dough gets rid of bingo wings.

So each evening at around 6.30pm I am usually flinging open cupboards to see what I can throw together to make something vaguely edible, wondering if I can defrost a lamb chop or two before the starving man gets home for his tea.

Even so, I try not to get all my food in supermarkets and manage to visit a proper market now and again. I’m always drawn to those specialist stalls piled high with wonderful things like olives stuffed with garlic, fine cheeses and exotic sausages. Then there are the mounds of vegetables which taste so much better when they are really fresh and haven’t been languishing under cellophane on a shop shelf for a few days.

I have realised you don’t actually have to cook to present a delicious meal. What could be better than a plate of oat cakes with two or three different cheeses and pickles or a platter of assorted cold meats, chutney and fresh bread?

My absolute best no-cook creation is a cheesecake. Even the better half loves it. So here’s the recipe:

No Cook Cheesecake


125g digestive biscuit crumbs
5 tablespoons dark brown soft sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
75g butter, melted
450g cream cheese
2 teaspoons lemon juice
450ml whipping cream
5 tablespoons caster sugar
some kind of fruit, like strawberries, raspberries or oranges
a coulis and/or cream to serve (both optional)

1. In a small bowl, stir together the digestive biscuit crumbs, dark brown soft sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter and mix well. Press into the bottom of a tin with removable base.  Chill until firm.
2. Beat together the cream cheese and lemon juice until soft. Add whipping cream and beat with an electric mixer until mixture becomes thick. Add the sugar and continue to beat until stiff.
3. At this point stir in some of the fruit (roughly chopped), leaving enough to decorate the top of the cheesecake.
4. Pour over chilled biscuit base, and top with fruit. Chill for several hours or overnight.
5. Serve with a coulis and/or cream.

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Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Adult Celebrities Look Older Than They Did 40 Years Ago Shock

I HAPPENED upon a website which gleefully told me that some stars had become "unrecognisable" from their heyday. Must admit I had no idea who a lot of them were, either "before" or "after".  Lark Voorhies? Jaleel White? Lynn Whitfield? Not a clue.

But of those I had heard of, there were a variety of reasons why their appearance had changed  - excessive plastic surgery, weight gain and a debauched lifestyle all figured prominently.

But most of them had changed BECAUSE THEY WERE DECADES OLDER.

Take a look at former French film star Brigitte Bardot. Yes, she looks older now. Why? She's 82, for God's sake! And in a move I greatly admire, is one of the few female stars not to have had plastic surgery.

Some 55 years separate these two pictures of Brigitte Bardot.

Another star held up as ageing badly was Kathleen Turner. Poor Kathleen, not only had she had the cheek to put on weight she had also had the temerity to get to the ripe old age of 63.

Kathleen Turner pictured in the 1980s and 2017.
Bizarrely, several child stars were held up as examples of how celebrities change. So Rupert Grint, Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter series, now looks different as a fully grown man than he did as a young boy. You think?

Rupert Grint as a child star and now a young man.

And Jake Gyllenhaal looks older at the age of 36 than he did as a child actor at the age of 9. I don't know what the world is coming to.

Jake Gyllenhall has had a long, successful career and is now 36.

So, take the advice of Noel Coward and don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington.

Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington Don’t put your daughter on the stage She’s a bit of an ugly duckling, you must honestly confess And the width of her seat would surely defeat Her chances of her success.

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