Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Media

playing hou- apartment

I saw an apartment this morning.

I was shown an apartment this morning. By a realtor.

This afternoon I put in a bid.

Then I went to check whether I could actually get a mortgage to cover it. Fortunately the bid was subject to financing. But it seems that I could.

The vendor is a long-distance truck driver and was sleeping so that he could drive overnight, so the realtor couldn't get in touch with him today. Tomorrow morning I might have a deal.

Alzheimer's cure found?

The BBC report a drug developed by the University of Aberdeen has shown "an 81% difference in rate of mental decline compared with those not taking the treatment".

Combined with the news that HIV is now effectively a chronic condition like diabetes, this is an interesting week in health news.

On a (very slightly) related note, my leg has been getting better. I was planning on ditching the crutch next Monday. But today I may have overdone things a bit, so I'll have to see how far it's set me back.

Monday, 28 July 2008


I can't believe how upset I am to find out that the shooting in a Tennessee church yesterday took place during a Unitarian Universalist meeting. (My three regular readers will know that I'm a UU too.) Some 25 kids were performing Annie to a 200-strong audience when a gunman opened fire.

I caught something about a shooting on the news, last night or early this morning before work, I wasn't paying attention. Now the full impact has hit me. And I wonder why. I have always argued strongly against the "Local Man Drowns"-mentality (supposed newspaper coverage of the sinking of the Titanic, whether a urban myth or not it's an apt description) and for keeping in mind the equal value of the lives of those we don't know or feel immediately connected to.

There's an expression in Dutch called "ver-van-m'n-bed", meaning "far away from my bed", the further away something happens, the more tragic it needs to be to make the news. Unless there is some other connection, such as religion or cultural ties - and this is a rough guess - I would say that in terms of newsworthiness the life of one Dutchman equals five Europeans, twenty North-Americans or white colonials (Australia, South Africa) and over a hundred non-whites. And it's the same everywhere.

Today the police announced that the shooting was motivated by hatred.
"It appears that what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to obtain a job, his frustration over that, and his stated hatred for the liberal movement," Chief Owen said of the suspect, Jim D. Adkisson, 58.

Members of the church tackled the gunman and wrested his weapon, a 12-gauge shotgun, from him. Witnesses say that Gregory McKendry Jr., 60, a church board member and usher, the man who died on the scene protected others from the shots with his own body.

The local newspaper reports that Adkisson's ex-wife used to be a member of the congregation.

Sorry for an even less structured blog than normal.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

He ventured forth...

From The Times
July 25, 2008

He ventured forth to bring light to the world

The anointed one's pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a miracle in action - and a blessing to all his faithful followers

Gerard Baker

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites.

And so it was, in the fullness of time, before the harvest month of the appointed year, the Child ventured forth - for the first time - to bring the light unto all the world.

He travelled fleet of foot and light of camel, with a small retinue that consisted only of his loyal disciples from the tribe of the Media. He ventured first to the land of the Hindu Kush, where the

Taleban had harboured the viper of al-Qaeda in their bosom, raining terror on all the world.

And the Child spake and the tribes of Nato immediately loosed the Caveats that had previously bound them. And in the great battle that ensued the forces of the light were triumphant. For as long as the Child stood with his arms raised aloft, the enemy suffered great blows and the threat of terror was no more.

From there he went forth to Mesopotamia where he was received by the great ruler al-Maliki, and al-Maliki spake unto him and blessed his Sixteen Month Troop Withdrawal Plan even as the imperial warrior Petraeus tried to destroy it.

And lo, in Mesopotamia, a miracle occurred. Even though the Great Surge of Armour that the evil Bush had ordered had been a terrible mistake, a waste of vital military resources and doomed to end in disaster, the Child's very presence suddenly brought forth a great victory for the forces of the light.

And the Persians, who saw all this and were greatly fearful, longed to speak with the Child and saw that the Child was the bringer of peace. At the mention of his name they quickly laid aside their intrigues and beat their uranium swords into civil nuclear energy ploughshares.

From there the Child went up to the city of Jerusalem, and entered through the gate seated on an ass. The crowds of network anchors who had followed him from afar cheered “Hosanna” and waved great palm fronds and strewed them at his feet.

In Jerusalem and in surrounding Palestine, the Child spake to the Hebrews and the Arabs, as the Scripture had foretold. And in an instant, the lion lay down with the lamb, and the Israelites and Ishmaelites ended their long enmity and lived for ever after in peace.

As word spread throughout the land about the Child's wondrous works, peoples from all over flocked to hear him; Hittites and Abbasids; Obamacons and McCainiacs; Cameroonians and Blairites.

And they told of strange and wondrous things that greeted the news of the Child's journey. Around the world, global temperatures began to decline, and the ocean levels fell and the great warming was over.

The Great Prophet Algore of Nobel and Oscar, who many had believed was the anointed one, smiled and told his followers that the Child was the one generations had been waiting for.

And there were other wonderful signs. In the city of the Street at the Wall, spreads on interbank interest rates dropped like manna from Heaven and rates on credit default swaps fell to the ground as dead birds from the almond tree, and the people who had lived in foreclosure were able to borrow again.

Black gold gushed from the ground at prices well below $140 per barrel. In hospitals across the land the sick were cured even though they were uninsured. And all because the Child had pronounced it.

And this is the testimony of one who speaks the truth and bears witness to the truth so that you might believe. And he knows it is the truth for he saw it all on CNN and the BBC and in the pages of The New York Times.

Then the Child ventured forth from Israel and Palestine and stepped onto the shores of the Old Continent. In the land of Queen Angela of Merkel, vast multitudes gathered to hear his voice, and he preached to them at length.

But when he had finished speaking his disciples told him the crowd was hungry, for they had had nothing to eat all the hours they had waited for him.

And so the Child told his disciples to fetch some food but all they had was five loaves and a couple of frankfurters. So he took the bread and the frankfurters and blessed them and told his disciples to feed the multitudes. And when all had eaten their fill, the scraps filled twelve baskets.

Thence he travelled west to Mount Sarkozy. Even the beauteous Princess Carla of the tribe of the Bruni was struck by awe and she was great in love with the Child, but he was tempted not.

On the Seventh Day he walked across the Channel of the Angles to the ancient land of the hooligans. There he was welcomed with open arms by the once great prophet Blair and his successor, Gordon the Leper, and his successor, David the Golden One.

And suddenly, with the men appeared the archangel Gabriel and the whole host of the heavenly choir, ranks of cherubim and seraphim, all praising God and singing: “Yes, We Can.”

Because it's clever, damn it; and making fun of the bad guys is just too depressing.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Mosley vindicated

The Times told us on Thursday (yes, I'm a bit behind) that the judge had ruled in favour of Max Mosley in his invasion of privacy case against The News of the World. He was awarded £60.000 pounds in damages. That may not seem much, but it's a record in these conditions. However, Mr. Mosly may now be pursuing a libel case against the newspaper. (The costs bill of around £850.000 also goes to the paper.)

In his ruling, Mr Justice Eady dismissed claims that the orgy had any Nazi theme, saying that there was "no genuine basis" for the suggestion that Holocaust victims had been mocked.

"I decided that the claimant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to sexual activities, albeit unconventional, carried on between consenting adults on private property," he said.

The judge also flatly rejected the argument of the newspaper that there was any public interest or defence in recording the activities.

"There was bondage, beating and domination which seem to be typical of S and M behaviour," he said.

"But there was no public interest or other justification for the clandestine recording, for the publication of the resulting information and still photographs, or for the placing of the video extracts on the News of the World website - all of this on a massive scale.

"Of course, I accept that such behaviour is viewed by some people with distaste and moral disapproval. But in the light of modern rights-based jurisprudence, that does not provide any justification for the intrusion on the personal privacy of the claimant."

The News of the World has quickly identified the problem behind the judge's ruling, it's those damn Europeans!
Colin Myler, editor of the News of the World, said after the ruling that the newspaper still believed that publishing details of Mr Mosley's orgy was justified. He claimed it was "part and parcel of human dignity" that a person is responsible for his actions, pointing out that Mr Mosley headed up the "richest" sporting organisation in the world.

He argued the newspaper had been a victim of European privacy laws which judges in the UK had to implement. "Our press is less free today after another judgment based on privacy laws emanating from Europe," he said.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

A Right A Day 26

Right to education

Article 26
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

A Right A Day 25

Right to social protection

Article 23
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

A Right A Day 24

Right to rest and leisure

Article 24
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Monday, 21 July 2008

update from sick-bay

VAD Minnie MouseHi there, on Friday I posted about having yet another fall thanks to my wonky calf muscle. What I didn't mention was a completely useless trip to a rude family doctor (not my own, it was after hours, this was at a special station next door to the ER. I'm starting to feel I should've gone there instead.)

Speaking of ER, after getting a couple of crutches on Saturday morning I decided to tough it out and go see k.d. Lang that evening after all. I used two crutches for the trip to Amsterdam, but decided it would be easier to just take one to the concert. So K compared me to Dr. Kerry Weaver from the show. Ohhh, close enough: Dr. Kerry Weaver to Jerry Markovic (the receptionist): "Your IQ's not 150. Mine's only 145." But I suspect she might've been more interested in all the women at the concert than I was.

Smurfette Anyway, I'm walking almost without pain now, but I will persist in using two sticks for long distances (travel to and from work) for another week just to make sure that this time I give it time to heal and not have another setback like the ones I've been having for three weeks now. Then after that we'll see if I'll keep on using one stick or not.

PS. if you don't like pussy, don't do a google image search for "nurse" with SafeSearch Filtering off.

PPS. I realise these with all the talk about Kerry Weaver doctor pictures might've been more appropriate, but I couldn't be bothered. Except pondering the purchase of a cardboard cut-out Doctor. (The same warning for googling "nurse" also applies to "doctor".)

O yeah, I'm still looking forward to this one happening to me. Dr. Kerry Weaver: "All right, which one of you smart-asses stole my crutch?" A colleague I met in the hall after lunch told me to "Get a move on, will you?" though.

A Right A Day 23

Right to employment

Article 23
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

A Right A Day 22

Right to social security

Article 22
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

A Right A Day 21

I'm an idiot. I completely let this slide. But I will continue. I hope I'm doing this right (i.e. consistent with previous posts...)

Right to free elections

Article 21
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

fish pie!

fish pie

I promised you pictures...

fish pie

fish pie fish pie
fish pie


Two videos I found on the BBC's news website:

Three white lion cubs born last month have made their first public appearance at a safari park in western Germany.
>> link to video <<

Jaffar and Nala, two young African lion cubs have become the focus of attention at a North Yorkshire theme park.
>> link to video <<

Friday, 18 July 2008

nice car

shame about the parking...

parking skills?

Taken from the overpass between the Jaarbeurs and Utrecht Centraal trainstation.

sex, lies and videotape

In a Trial About Privacy in Which None Remains
as the New York Times calls it, Max Mosley, head of Formula One's governing body FIA, is suing the News of the World newspaper for invasion of privacy after publishing a story about an S&M assignation with five women which, they alleged, had a nazi theme. (One of them wore a German airforce jacket and some - faux - German was spoken, it must be true!)

Mosley asserted that, as a son of World War II nazi sympathisers, it would be just about the least sexy thing he could think of. Women A, B, C and D testified for Mosley, saying there was no such undertone to the scenes, whilst woman E, the one that sold the story to the newspaper and taped the session for them, declined to testify.

The real issue, to me, is whether the newspaper had a right to publish it - nazi theme or not. They argue it's in the public interest, but I remember a great quote in one of the article on the story in the Times of London, saying that what interests the public does not equal the public interest.

The Times seems to enjoy reporting on this, not shying away from the titillating details (blameless sex stories, I bet they're grateful to the News of the World):
Max Mosley, the motor racing chief, begged a dominatrix who had spanked him at an alleged Nazi orgy for more brutal punishment at their next encounter, the High Court was told.

At the next party, filmed secretly by the newspaper, he was bound, shackled, given 15 lashes from a flayed whip, then tasted six of the best from a woman wielding a toshido martial arts cane.

“It’s hardly surprising that she drew blood, which needed to be dealt with by the application of a surgical dressing,” Mr Warby said.

The prostitutes, in their evidence, had sought to present it as “some kind of worthy activity attended by the most strict health and safety precautions as if it was being carried out by the Bondage and Sadomasochism Regulatory Authority,” he mocked.

(Mark Warby is the QC, for the News of the World)

I'm labelling this post b(ack)log, but the judge's ruling will be next week, so technically it's still current...

Aside: a little coincidence. The Times (of New York) has been running ads for a movie called Choke, including along the Mosley article. Remember breath play is dangerous because it's unpredictable, boys and girls.


EDIT: From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

unlucky Friday

Should I be grateful it isn't the thirteenth as well?

This morning, for the first time this week, I believe, I made the 6.30 AM bus. Then when we got to the station the driver actually stopped at the drop-off point to save us from getting mobbed by workers from the biggest supermarket in the country. I even caught a train earlier than usual, the one I see driving off in the distance most days.

I shouldn't have let this fool me, of course, but I did.

Having allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security, I fell flat on my face bounding up the stairs to the train's upper deck. My right calf muscle simply gave way underneath me and the next moment there I was, sprawled out on the floor.

After I had scrambled back up, gathered my pride and my possessions, and found a seat, the conductor stopped by. I discovered I left my train card at home. Fortunately he let me off with a warning to buy a ticket for the next part of my journey. (I meant to do that anyway, as the always check you on that stretch.)

I wonder what's next.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

play this!

K bought k.d. lang tickets for Saturday.

There's something about her, I almost would. Almost...

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


As I walked out of the drugstore at the station - 12-pack of xl condoms in one hand, open bag that I'm trying to stuff them in in the other - I realised I was stepping into the exact route my colleagues take from one building to another.

So far, the bus driver and I have only had oral sex. Not for lack of trying: I simply couldn't get a regular sized condom to fit his cock. And I don't feel I particularly missed out on anything, he can, as K so delicately puts it, suck my box 'till my nose bleeds (sorry he that was TMI, boys) and I enjoy giving head. But if you have the whole menu at your disposal, why stick to one dish?

He's coming over tonight. He's working late, so he'll be there around midnight. I'll try and get some sleep before then.

Monday, 14 July 2008

what's going on here?

You heard it here first: SK said no to sex. I'm so tired that I said no to a midnight visit from "my" bus driver...

copy/paste begging

Last week I got on the train back home from work when a young man started handing out these leaflets, strangely enough he didn't come back to pick up the money. Presumably the proximity of someone in authority spooked him.

What caught my eye was the copy/pasting on this much-photocopied piece of paper. It reads:
Madam, Sir,

I am [ poor ] and have [ 2 children ]. I'm out of work. We have nothing, just a little money to pay for a room and buy some money.

Thank you.

Friday, 11 July 2008

in which Subtle gets pissed on and pissed off

Hi there, this is SK speaking to you from on the road. I find myself on a bus between Almelo and Hengelo, in the far east of The Netherlands, stranded on my way to visit my sister and her boyfriend.

I say stranded because that's what it feels like. In reality Dutch Rail has organised touring cars to ferry people between the two towns separated by broken points. I did my good deed for the day and informed a couple of Asian students (one had just yesterday graduated as an aerospace engineer in Delft, I later found out) of what was going on. Otherwise they may have stayed on the train and would have gotten a nasty surprise when it went back the way it came. A young man who overheard this approached me in the station and told me it had been a very nice thing to do. I blurted out the first thing that came to mind, which was that I just thought they could use the help, or some non serquitur.

After waiting fifteen minutes in the pouring rain, the first bus we saw offload passengers from the other direction parked somewhere at the opposite corner and didn't pick any of us up. The misery was only mitigated by something akin to the spirit of the Blitz amongst my fellow passengers and my forethought to bring an umbrella (which, earlier, I had to retrieve from a train I had already exited in Amersfoort.)

When another bus finally arrived I braved the torrential rain and ducked to slide my boarding case into its cargo hold and insinuated rather than outright pushed my yay on board. The weird thing was, the bus wasn't even half full when the driver stopped more people from entering and drove off. Others called out to him, but they were ignored.

By the way, we also stop at all the tiny stations in between. The man that just got on at Borne smells like stale beer and industrial desinfectant.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

the Subtle Knife family photo album

paternal grandparentsA few days ago my mother called to ask me to scan some pictures for her and my father. They've already had two collections of family pictures made after Dad won a discount on the first one and I'm guessing these will be used in the next one.

I thought it would be nice to share them with you too. Most of them were taken on my parents' wedding day in 1970. first off my paternal grandparents. This grandfather is the only one of my grandparents who is still alive, at 86. The men on this side of the family all seem to have a great head of hair. His also stayed dark until an advanced age, even now it's not completely gray. He smokes like a chimney stack and refuses to wear his hearing aids properly because they feel funny.

His wife died a few years ago after a quadruple bypass operation. It had been postponed for several months because there was some concern about the state of her kidneys and thus her capability to handle the major trauma that such an operation still is. Unfortunately, she did suffer from complications and spent some weeks on ICU without ever really regaining consciousness before she died.

I found it very hard to visit her there, partly because of the circumstances, but also because I was the one that drove her to hospital and told her that they did hundreds of those operations these days and she'd be fine.

She had a little sewing room at home, which was packed with an incredible amount of yarn. Everything I've crocheted for the last four years or so is made with yarn that came from her.

maternal grandparents

My maternal grandfather died while I was still quite young, 11 or 12 I think. The main memories I have of him are sitting on the couch, smoking either a cigar or a pipe (he also smoked cigarettes, but I suppose our visits warranted something special). He was quite deaf (both my grandfathers spent a lot of their working lives in factories) and drove an orange Volkswagen Beetle - which stank to high heaven. The few times I was a passenger, I spent with my face glued to the crack in the window.

He had a history of atherosclerosis and died one night when he went out for a walk as he would often do. I never knew whether he had a heart attack and subsequently fell into the canal, or whether he tripped and drowned. I suspect the former, though. After his death, suddenly the cupboard in the corner of our "play room", which had always been filled with (out-of-date) preserves and tinned food was cleared out. Again, this is speculation, but I am fairly certain it was a result of trauma from the "Hunger winter" at the end of World War II.

Unfortunately for my brother, there are several bald men on this side of the family. And they do say it travels through the female line, don't they?

My mother's mother is the grandparent I was closest to. When I was younger, she would visit every week and once I was old enough, I would walk her back to the bus stop. We would always joke it was "to make sure she was really gone." She's the only one I visited of my own accord (my parents didn't have much contact with Dad's parents from my early teens until late twenties), the only one I talked to and did things with.

She suffered from a series of heart attacks without ever knowing it. Two-and-a-half years ago, before Christmas, she started complaining of 'flu-like symptoms and for some time nobody knew what was going on. When finally it went so bad she had to go to hospital, she had several liters' worth of fluid build-up around her heart. After a slow start, the medication helped her improve a lot and eventually she was transferred from the cardiac ward to a "care hotel", a wing in an actual hotel with a couple of nurses to look after people who recover from illness, operations etc. Unfortunately, there she went downhill again and had to be hospitalised once more.

This time it became clear she would never leave the place alive (her heart muscle was so weak that a hole had already been torn between chambers) and eventually she asked to be administered morphine for the pain, even though this would also kill her. Until then she was tired but mostly lucid and apparently had the forethought to ask my uncles to fetch her mother's gold wristwatch from her home and keep it somewhere safe so that it could be given to me after her death. I didn't know about this until my parents and I were going to the private viewing at the funeral home and they warned me that my aunt might kick up a fuss over it, feeling she was entitled to it as the eldest daughter.

The other thing I inherited from her was the most practical thing: a moveable fan that has served me well last summer and a few nights this year.


My grandparents and parents, SK still just a twinkle in Dad's eye (although he's looking a bit serious there...) I wore that very wedding dress once - as a carnaval costume. My family are all so very sensible; Mom didn't put any emotional value on a wedding dress and remade it for me to wear. The little girl in front is one of my cousins on my father's side. My siblings seem to walk the third way between paternal and maternal relatives: on Dad's side all cousins are married with children, on Mom's they're single and childless. My sibs are partnered/married, but have no children.


This is a scan from a picture that's on display in my living room, my parents picking out their rings. Dad was still a smoker there. He quit cold turkey some time after I was born. I believe he never smoked around me, even back then some people knew that wasn't a good idea. Others didn't (and still don't!) want to know...

It's fuzzy, grainy and you can hardly see their faces, but I think it's a lovely photograph. I probably don't show or tell them how much I love them often enough.

Eleven months after the wedding, baby SK was announced to the world using this card (the inside is printed with the - private - details). A copy fell out of the back of my parents' wedding album, so I scanned it!


(The card is just the green part. Nice colour, huh?)

Sunday, 6 July 2008

chasing windmills

I couldn't withhold this gem from Cees Noteboom's Roads to Santiago. He's in the town square of Almagro, on his way to Don Quixote's home of La Mancha:
I read the poem on the statue of Diego de Almagro, captain general of the kingdom of Chile (...) He does not resemble Don Quixote, this knight on his steed, he charged not at windmills but against Amerindians, and perhaps ribs* this is why the world - rate* save for Almagro - has forgotten him.

I believe that of the two Don Quixote is the far more deserving to be remembered through the ages.

* mistakes courtesy of predictive texting on my cell phone.

On the page facing the one with this quote Nooteboom said something that reminded of something a blogger I like posted. (The poll and the comments seem to have disappeared, but obviously the question was "which of these was the balcony of Romeo and Juliet?")
Cervantes has demonstrated the power of the imagination once and for all, he only because I am standing here now almost four centuries later staring at the house, the hearth, the bed, the kitchen utensils of someone who is but an invetnion. Only once before have I experienced the same excitement, and that was when I was gazing up at Romeo and Juliet's balcony in Verona, jostled by a hundred Japanese with cameras.

Willym tried to fool us with the same balcony Nooteboom and the Japanese tourists saw. I'm proud to say I chose "None of the above".

PS. Just read the book! That way I won't have to quote every single paragraph I love on this blog - because there are just too many of them.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

it's alive!

A little while back, when Joe asked How's your love life these days? I was the first to respond, with a snappy "non-existent".

Funny how things can change so quickly. Six days later I mentioned that a bus-driver made a pass at me and tonight he called to ask if he could come over.

I said yes.

EDIT: it's the following morning and my lips are still tingling.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

See Aitch Oh Pee Pee Aye En Gee

I know, I know, Stash may laugh at me, do I call that chopping? But I thought it was funny that Shopping just happened to be the song that was going round my brain. Without even realising I bastardised it to Chopping.

I'm making fish pie and so far I'm loving it, who would've thought? I'm taking some liberties with the fish, although the base is still a couple of filets of fish and some prawns, but within that scope I'm adding what I happen to have lying around (Dutch prawns, pangasius, victoria bass, some smoked salmon, and a couple of small smoked mackerel fillets).

The prep amounted to roughly chopping a carrot, a stick of celery, a couple of small onions and a bunch of parsley, I didn't even have to peel or cut the potatoes because I bought them - partially - pre-cooked (it was that or carrying a big bag of spuds back home, with no prospect of eating them all). But apart from chopping it was all pretty much uncharted territory for me.

Today I made my first roux, my first bechamel sauce and even - I've been singing The Monster Mash too - my first mashed potatoes from 'scratch'. My family don't eat mashed potatoes, you see, there's no tradition of it. I wasn't much of a fan before today anyway and there's the whole carb thing. But now I discovered how nice good mash can be, I may have to be very disciplined... (See? Good thing I didn't buy that 2 kilo bag of potatoes!)

I got all my timings almost exactly right, had a bit of a scare when adding the milk to the roux, because my recipe said that after adding one third of the milk it should end up like a very thick sauce. Mine was still at the paste stages... But in the end it seems to all have worked out fine.

I'm not just happy that it went well, but that I was confident enough to change a few things yet perform the main points of the recipe without panicking.

One question, though: the recipe called for a bunch of parsley to be chopped and added to the sauce. I duly chopped up a bunch I bought at the supermarket and started adding. Are British bunches smaller than Dutch ones? Or was I stupid for stopping when it looked pretty much saturated with parsley?

Tuesday, 1 July 2008


Too good not to copy. These are the two sponsors of the Marriage Protection Amendment, obviously marriage is under threat - from homosexuals, not cheating Republicans...

Credits over at Joe.My.God.