Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Cold

Why do people (men, usually, I admit) claim to have the 'flu when what they have is the common cold?
I've had influenza perhaps twice. You're poleaxed for ten days or a fortnight; the muscle fatigue alone makes it impossible to move during the worst two days of it. But that ought not to diminish the rubbishness of the cold which, if you have several young children, you may well get twice a year.
Cold sweats, fever, the headache period when the sinuses are knackered, the nuisance of sneezing all the bloody time, the loss of your voice, the inability to eat, the general miserableness of it.
Yet if you say I was off for three days with the cold, you look rubbish.
Well, enough is enough. The cold is bad, bad news. I'm nearly over the cold. It's like toothache. You forget how bad it was once it's over.
What we must all remember is:

Hier Ich stann' Ich have the cold.

And I'm staying in my bed.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Jigot of Lamb

That being the Scots way of spelling gigot. You'll serve it on an ashet. Thus we indicate that despite our geographical position on the extremity of the continent, our culture is substantially European.

Stud a leg of lamb with three or four cloves of garlic and some anchovy fillets (one small tin or half a jar). Brush with olive oil, thyme, rosemary and black pepper. No sea salt; the anchovies will be enough. Roast for 10 minutes a pound for pink (15 or more for well done) plus quarter of an hour. Reduce the cooking juices with a dash of white wine and a knob of butter. Serve with haricot beans and potatoes.

Monday, 10 November 2008

TLS Anathem review

Tom Shippey reviews Neal Stephenson's Anathem in the TLS. All well and good. But it would inspire more confidence if he had read, and counted, the number of other books by Stephenson

Fats Waller

Imagine my horror to discover that the children (9, 6 and 3) don't pick up on the reference "your pedal extremeties are obnoxious". I tell you, providing a classical education is a nightmare these days. What do they teach them at school? One of the wonders of the internet is correcting such ignorance, by pointing here, say.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Neil Gaiman II: The Graveyard Book

What a pleasant story this is for children of any age over about seven, and any adults sensible enough to want to carry on reading very ingenious, very well-written stories. Murder, witchcraft, loss and difficult moral decisions. Things not being what they seem. Putting your trust in apparently dodgy figures. Discovering that respectable, well-behaved people are wicked.
Neil Gaiman is the Perrault, the Aesop, the Grimm Brothers, the Hans Christian Anderson de nos jours.