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Showing posts from November, 2014

Missing the point.

With her tweeted photo of a house, a white van and England flags Emily Thornberry has managed to blow any political capital that Ed Miliband may have been able to make from the Tories capitulation to UKIP in Rochester and Strood. She’s also exposed, at a stroke, one of the problems that Labour needs to address if it’s to be considered a credible political party.

The Labour party’s big problem, post-Blair, is that it doesn’t seem to remember what it stands for (hint: the clue’s in the name). There is a chasm between traditional working class Labour and the Blairish metropolitan elite, of which Thornberry’s tweet was a particularly sneery, unlovable example. It seems to have forgotten the working class, and if you neglect your traditional voter base,, you’re going to struggle.

What seems particularly odd is that the photo was of a white van. The shorthand is simple. White van = tradesman = works with hands = working class. This is the equation which should have been running through Tho…

Heart of Darkness

As even a cursory glance at the news informs you, the world can be a dark and unpleasant place. Innumerable horrors and degradations are inflicted upon people worldwide, grotesque acts committed as a matter of course. We tut, express disapproval, and go about our days.

Set against the global backdrop of general nastiness, it can be easy to overlook acts closer to home. Take, for example, the disturbing case of a bird sanctuary just up the road from where your correspondent types this. This place, manned and run by volunteers takes in injured birds and nurses them back to health. Harmless enough, who could possibly object to that?

Well, someone in Mawdesley does, as a sequence of attacks by night on the place have left hundreds of birds killed and maimed, bones broken, attacked by dogs. It’s the sort of action which causes as much confusion as it does distaste. Why on earth would you want to? The sane response is bafflement.

This sort of petty, small-village malice is a world away fr…

Singles Day

Living as we do in a world of shopping, where even your email tries to sell you yoghurt, where adblock is as essential to the online experience as a healthy sense of scepticism, and facing as we are the looming commercial behemoth that is the festive season, when would you imagine the world’s busiest online shopping day to be? Sometime soon, certainly, as people start to think about beating the annual December postal snarl-up. Something similar to the fabled Black Friday, when the US loses its collective mind in tsunami of credit card abuse.

So it comes as a mild surprise (not to mention a gentle reproof for being surprised, big wide world out there, don’t forget) to discover that it was yesterday. Nov 11th. Busiest online shopping day of the year. And the reason is the Chinese observation of Single’s Day. Essentially Valentine’s day for single people, single people buy themselves gifts, eat fried dough sticks (to signify the numerals of 11.11) and generally have a high old time of …

One job after the other

When my alarm went off this morning, I lay in the dark and thought about lists. The first thoughts upon waking (apart from the standard existential angst and dread) we as follows: Burgers, spare soup, fish pie, potatoes, millionaire shortbread, tarts, lemon drizzle cake. The prep list, written up on my whiteboard at work, waiting for me, the shape of my morning.

I am a chef, an occupation which requires order and discipline to work effectively. I am also, by nature, disorganised and somewhat messy. This clash is (in part) resolved by lists. Your prep list and your order list are your sun and your moon, imposing order on a situation which could all too easily spiral out of control*, one missed job, or ingredient unbought can spark a catastrophic chain of events. No jam? Can’t make Bakewell tart, no tart? Other desserts get hammered, the prep list grows, priorities change, other jobs get missed, maybe a regular doesn’t get the dish they want.

The approach has bled through to my non-kitc…