Who occupies the Porcelain Throne?

Tyrion Bercow has stated he will not let Boss Johnson prorogue (ie shut down) Parliament, thereby forcing a no-deal Brexit on Halloween.

Does he have that authority? I’ve no idea. I thought the Squeaker’s job was as a sort of referee in the House of Conmen to ensure the unruly rabble stick roughly to the rules.

As for Bozza, does he have the power to close Parliament? I don’t think so. I think he has to ask Mrs. Queen to do it. And I suspect he might have to put it to a vote before he can ask Mrs. Queen. Even if he does, she might, quite reasonably, just respond with ‘ This entire charade has royally fucked one off and got right on one’s tits. Get back to work you chubby lickspittle. And buy a bloody comb’.

I’d love to see that on the BBC 🙂

I don’t think Bozza wants a no-deal Brexit. He’d much rather have a trade deal in place. Unfortunately, the likes of Guy Thermostat and Tusky Don want to make the UK suffer for having the temerity to leave their new empire. So they won’t negotiate. It’s the Tessie Maybe crap ‘deal’ or no deal at all. In which case, no deal is the only sensible option.

Food will not stop arriving. I live on a farm of which the UK has many. We currently export food. If they don’t want it, we’ll eat it instead of importing theirs. Oh and when UK lamb isn’t available, our biggest supplier is New Zealand. Who are not under the control of the deranged dictators of the EU. So that won’t change. Neither will most of the imported vegetables which come from non-EU countries anyway because Europe has the same seasons we have.

Donnie Trumpton is not going to take control of the NHS. Our own government can’t control the swollen management structure and ridiculous spending of that insane organisation. Why would any other government even want it? It has more bean counters than actually useful medical staff already.

We are not going to be forced to eat chlorinated chicken. We have plenty of perfectly good British chicken. We will, of course, be forced to continue drinking chlorinated water (well, not here, we have UV-treated and double filtered well water, but you lot have to drink it).

In the midst of all this, Cersei Lucas has schemes of her own. She plans a National Unity Government because she claims Bozza is ‘unelected’ and also racist and mysogynist. Therefore she wants to replace the entire government with herself and a cabinet of unelected white women. They will take charge.

She is the only green MP and she wants to take control of government. Personally I wouldn’t trust her in control of a strimmer.

We have our very own Game of Thrones in the UK now. I’m just waiting for Al the Oily Fish to resurface and proclaim himself ‘King in the North’. I hope there are White Walkers. I already have blue eyes.

It’s chaos. You might as well shut down Parliament because none of the buggers have a clue what they are doing. They’re just making it up as they go. Priti Patel has spoken of bringing back the death penalty and there is talk of only allowing immigrants to come here if they make over £30,000 a year. Most people in this country don’t make that much. Heck, I don’t even get close these days, although I used to just make that much after decades of working as a research scientist, consultant and lecturer. It’s hardly the common wage. So if that comes in, do I (born here) no longer qualify to live here? It’s a complete shambles.

The main issue is a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU and since the EU will not negotiate, well, I’m glad I have a Japanese car and not a German one. The Japanese will still sell us parts for my car. All you Audi, Mercedes, Volkswagen etc drivers… well, don’t break anything. No matter how keen the German car companies are to sell you their cars, the EU isn’t going to let them.

We’ll be eating British bacon instead of Danish or Dutch. British made blue cheese instead of French. Pasta made from non-EU wheat. There’s plenty of non-EU wheat. The rest of the world grows it too, as do we.

Avocado doesn’t come from the EU so the soy latte hipsters don’t need to cry into their straggly beards or use undue exercise to lift their pencil-thin biceps to wipe tears off their glasses. Not even the male ones.

If the EU refuse to negotiate then ‘no deal’ is the only option left. There is no other way unless Round Boris gives in. If he does, the Tories are a spent force. Their supporters fell away in droves while Tessie piddled away three years to get the most ridiculous surrender deal forced into existence with threats, then couldn’t get anyone to accept it. They have been drifting back since Boris took over, they have moved from voting Brexit party back to Tory.

But… if Boris screws this up, it’s all over for the Tories.

So who will end up sitting on the Porcelain Throne?

As they say in Wales and probably much of the UK… it’s shit or bust time. You either do what you have to do or you face the consequences.

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Things have been chaotic here for weeks. I am behind with two books and it’s nearly time to start the Halloween anthology. There is one more week of the chaos and then in September we are closed to visitors for the entire month.

It’ll be get back to work time.

Epstein’s Monster

So, Jeffrey Epstein is dead. Apparent suicide. Is that even likely?

A difficult one for me. I cannot contemplate suicide, it is actually an impossibility for me. I might contemplate the eradication of all other human life on the planet but suicide? It cannot happen.

Epstein, however, was looking at charges he was almost certain to lose. A guilty verdict was pretty much definitely going to happen. So he would have been facing the loss of his rich boy lifestyle where he could buy whatever and whoever he wants, then life in prison or a few years on Death Row before getting basted in oblivion juice or a seat in the voltage chair, whichever option is available in the state he gets convicted in.

So, in his situation, perhaps he saw suicide as the better option. I don’t know and I don’t suppose we ever will.

The internet is abuzz with conspiracy theories and it’s really not surprising. Epstein was linked to all sorts of big names with his paedo racket. Yesterday, papers were released implicating many high-faluting big names and today he is dead. Coincidence? Maybe.

I’ve tried to piece it together but the story is full of inconsistencies, speculation and wild theories. He was on suicide watch, then he wasn’t, then the camera on the suicide watch he wasn’t on mysteriously failed long enough for him to die. The officers watching him or not watching him were sent away while someone did ‘maintenance’ on something unspecified.

The Russians are blamed, of course, though why Russia would have any interest at all in this case is not explored. No Russians were implicated in Epstein’s papers and Putin is not connected in any way. So why would Russia care at all? More to the point, Epstein might have implicated enough people in government to almost bring the USA to a standstill. Why would Russia want to stop that happening?

I think we can put the ‘Russia’ nonsense under ‘Oh, I cut myself shaving! Putin nudged my elbow with a nanodrone!’. Putin has quite enough problems of his own at the moment. If the American government wants to collapse under a wave of paedo charges, why would he even interfere?

Then Trump gets blamed. Naturally. Trump gets blamed if it rains on a holiday or someone’s cat gets mange. He’s been blamed for the school shootings carried out under his presidency. No other president was blamed for the ones that happened under their watch. Trump’s administration was prosecuting Epstein. If they didn’t want his secrets known, why didn’t they just leave him alone, or quietly ‘disappear’ him? Oh, all governments do that. There have been a few suspicious high level ‘suicides’ and ‘accidents’ in the UK too.

Trump is not implicated in Epstein’s Paedo Island escapades and is on record as having permanently banned him from his golf courses for trying to get into the knickers of the underage daughter of one of his employees. Also, Epstein could have taken down a lot of those in Trump’s target sights. So no matter how hard you hate Trump, he had no reason to kill Epstein and many reasons to see him go to trial.

One of the British Royal Family was implicated in the released papers. Could the Queen have ordered Epstein’s disposal? How much influence does the British Royal Family have in an American prison? Enough to set up a hit within hours? I doubt it.

The Clintons are in the frame also, of course. Lots of records of them flying to Paedo Island and so far, no absolute evidence they did anything untoward while there. Could the Clintons have arranged a hit inside a prison, while cameras mysteriously fail and guards are taken off a duty they are not allowed to leave? Well they’d have more chance than the Queen but even so, I think it would be pretty difficult.

It appears that Epstein either tried to commit suicide once before in that prison or was attacked. Either way he ended up in a cell on his own. So was he on suicide watch or not? Did the cameras fail or not? Were there cameras? Were the guards taken off their watch or were they not watching in the first place?

So what are the facts?

Epstein died in a single occupancy prison cell.

That’s it. That’s the only actual fact we have. We don’t even know for sure if he was on suicide watch. Everything else, all of it, is speculation at this point

Just to make it a bit worse, someone is saying he might have been ‘switched out’, that the corpse in the cell isn’t him, and he’s alive and hidden away by his rich pals somewhere.

Which of course has been the standard conspiracy theory since Elvis.

Was he murdered or did he commit suicide? Will we ever know?

More to the point, does it matter? He documented everything. Filmed things with hidden cameras. His flight logs are public knowledge. All that information is still there even after his death. Does his death exonerate his accomplices?

It also seems a bit silly. If one of your gang is in prison and paperwork emerges that implicates the rest of the gang, do you kill the imprisoned gang member right away? The paperwork is out. There is no escape. Killing the imprisoned gang member just brings out a mass of speculation and draws attention and accusations all round. It’s a stupid thing to do.

Was Epstein killed or did he commit suicide? I have no idea.

But either way, this monster is just going to get bigger.

Voter ID

There has been much bluster and babbling over the idea that we should have to prove who we are when we vote. ‘It will prevent many people from voting! Those who have no voter ID will be excluded!’

Actually I had a simpler idea. We are all sent a voting card. Put a dotted line down the middle and mark one half ‘To be retained by voter’ and the other ‘To be retained by poll station staff’. When you vote, one half of the card is yours to keep, the other half goes in a box at the polling station. That card cannot be used again. You cannot hand it to someone else and even the dodgiest of polling staff cannot make use of half a card.

It even works with postal votes. You include the relevant half of the card with your postal vote. No half-card, the vote doesn’t count. No photo ID necessary.

Amazon have a new thing for deliveries. It has long been necessary to sign for any package containing whisky (I know there are other types of alcohol but those are irrelevant) and more recently, to sign for anything sharp – from a cleaver to a craft knife. This allows the delivery person to show they have seen you and determined that you look to be over the relevant age limit for those things.

Well, it seems one Amazon delivery driver once thought an under-18 was over 18. So, if you order any of the age-limited items from Amazon now, you have to sign and show photo ID. Yes, you have to prove who you are in your own home. Even a wizened old curmudgeon like me. It’s an irritant but I have a driving licence and passport so it’s a minor and somewhat amusing bit of silliness. Not so funny for the Amazon drivers. Instead of just ‘sign here please’ they now have to wait for every householder to go hunting for a photo ID and if they don’t have one or can’t find it, well… they aren’t allowed to hand it over and will probably have to try again tomorrow. The wasted time must be enormous.

Where are the howls of ‘But Uncle Bob doesn’t have photo ID. How will he be able to order vodka and machetes from Amazon?’ The silence is deafening.

If you miss a signed-for delivery from the Post Office, you have to go to the depot to get it. You will need to show ID. Not necessarily photo ID, not yet. Still, you have to show ID. If you are picking it up for someone else you have to have proof of their ID.

Want to open a bank account? You need ID. Want to claim benefits? Show your ID. You cannot function in this country without some form of ID and if you want to leave it, you need a passport.

That has nothing to do with Brexit. I have seen the wailing and rending of cloth of those whose ‘fathers came to this country and will not be able to leave because they never had a passport’. How did they get in then? The UK has never been in Schengen. You have always needed a passport to get in and out. It’s the only legitimate way.

Unless you are prepared to drift across the Channel in a dinghy or cling to the bottom of a truck load of frozen pizza. Those seem to be legitimate ways too, these days.

The funniest part of it all was when Labour, who cry the loudest for Votes for People Who Aren’t Real, had a conference that nobody could get into without showing ID.

You need to show ID for almost every move you make, certainly for every interaction with authority and increasingly for interactions with shops and deliveries. Why not with something as important as deciding who’s going to run the country?

As I said above, everyone is sent a voting card. Currently you don’t even have to take it to the polling station with you. It’s a waste of card, ink and postage. Why not make use of it? Use it as the voter ID and the problem is solved.

Who’s going to object? The usual suspects of course.

And we all know why.

The Chance I Missed

I spent four years working as a janitor in Local Shop. I was there over a year before anyone other than Boss knew what was really on my CV and when they found out, they inevitably asked ‘What the hell are you doing here?’

My answers ranged from ‘Hiding from the Mafia’ to ‘It’s a secret Government experiment and I can’t talk about it’.

Really I was there because my consultancy business went down the tubes for a variety of reasons and I was skint. In the end it actually did me a power of good. I learned a lot about the inner workings of food shops, who worked there, how they thought and why food poisoning happened. I now have a few reasons for food poisoning events that I could just share here but well, this kind of information is worth a lot.

I’ll tell you what though. It’s not the staff. Well, in a very few cases it could be but the mainstay staff? No, they get the blame but they aren’t the problem.

Anyway, I digress. The point is that I had Devo’s song ‘Whip It’ on vinyl for many years before I worked in that shop and I missed an incredible opportunity in the four years I worked there. It only came to light in a conversation with CStM this very evening.

So here, much too late for me but perhaps of potential use to any current cleaning staff out there, is what might have happened if Devo had been cleaning staff:

Wipe It

Grab that wipe
Clean the surface right
Dust in the seam
Scrub it till it’s clean

When there’s dirt upon the floor
You must wipe it
Later on there will be more
You must wipe it
Every surface, every door
You must wipe it

Now wipe it
Get it clean
Wipe it up
Use the spray
Get the brush
And the mop
Get all that dirt out
There’ll soon be more
So wipe it
Wipe it good

If it’s spilled upon the ground
You must wipe it
It’ll stain and turn to brown
Unless you wipe it
Clean that mess away
Really wipe it

I say wipe it
Wipe it good
I say wipe it
Wipe it good

Grab that wipe
Someone’s spilled the milk
If it gets in the cracks
You cannot get it back

When a table’s soaking wet
You must wipe it
Oh you haven’t finished yet
Still you wipe it
When it’s done, there’s something else
Go and wipe it

Now wipe it
Shine it up
Make it gleam
See your face
Clean that toilet
Hold your breath
Oh it’s a bad one
It’s up the walls
So wipe it
Disinfect
Clean it up
Perhaps repaint
Go outside
Take a breath
Hold on to breakfast
Or you’ll be forced –

To wipe it
Wipe it good

Cooking with Lard

A conversation with CStM about deep frying this evening. Mostly because we’ve just bought a deep fryer. It claims it should be filled with vegetable oil and not olive oil – apparently that’s unsuitable. Has to be corn oil or sunflower oil. Well it uses so much that olive oil would be prohibitive anyway, due to cost.

Then again, olive oil has been shown to have health benefits whereas corn oil definitely doesn’t. Still the fryer says it won’t work.

Anyone my age will remember the ‘chip pan’. A saucepan with a mesh basket for deep frying – mostly chips, but basically anything. When it was cold you couldn’t get the basket out because it was in a saucepan full of set lard. It was only washed when the lard needed to be changed.

It didn’t really need to be washed. There isn’t a living creature, microorganism or otherwise, that could survive in boiling lard. Once the heat was turned off, that damn thing was sterile.

Yes it was a high-risk cooking thing. There were many TV ads about what to do if it caught fire and that childhood indoctrination is why I insist on having a fire blanket near the cooker. Never needed to use one but it’s there just in case.

It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time. Is cooking with lard really as bad as they say? Or is it going to one day be scoffed at, like the ‘butter is evil, buy our plasticine substitute’ has been debunked? I’ve always preferred real butter. No substitute comes close.

I’ve fried meat in butter and it’s well worth it.

I think the clincher for me was fried bread. Some years back, the radio in Local Shop (while they were still allowed to use it in the back room before the ‘public access’ licencing became silly) had a talk show on. The DJ didn’t believe ‘fried bread’ was a real thing. Really. The youth have no idea what that is.

So what is it? In the old days, you’d have a lot of fat left in the frying pan and fat is food. You can scrape it into the bin or you can use it to fry something else or you can have it right now by frying some bread in it. If you were poor, as many people were, you could get that extra energy rather than waste it.

Fried bread, done properly, is gorgeous. If you have never experienced it you’ve really missed out. However, it does not work with modern cooking oils. It has to be in hard fat.

Maybe there’s a food scientist who can help with this. If you try to make fried bread in vegetable oil, you get a soggy mess. If you do it with lard or butter or bacon fat, you get a crispy result like a fried version of toast.

I have wondered if the hard fats have to be hotter so the surface of whatever is fried seals quickly and goes crispy. The vegetable oils are already liquid, they don’t need to melt, so they are cooking at a lower temperature. So they don’t seal the surface and have more time to soak into the food.

Which would mean that cooking with lard gives you less fat intake than cooking with vegetable oil. Most of the fat stays in the pan, not in the food.

Incidentally, these days, after frying up some bacon, we clean the frying pan. My grandmother didn’t. That bacon fat cooked tomorrow’s food. A friend of mine once described how, after he left home, he couldn’t get his baked beans to taste the way his mother made them. He was following the instructions on the tin – heat gently, don’t boil…

Then he visited his mother while she was cooking up some baked beans. In a frying pan. His words, as far as I can remember them –

‘The pan was bubbling like bloody Vesuvius. I said you’re not supposed to let them boil. She said fuck that, there’s two ounces of butter in there as well as yesterday’s bacon fat.’

Try that. You’ll be amazed.

We didn’t have an ‘obesity epidemic’. We didn’t have pompous arses telling us what we should eat (well yes we did, but we ignored them). We didn’t have things we couldn’t believe were not butter, we had butter. Not the processed plasticine that isn’t even margarine now. We didn’t have corn oil, we had melted lard. So why were we not all Weebles?

Well we also didn’t spend twelve hours a day sitting in front of computers playing at imaginary lives. We were outside playing real ones. That might have more of an effect than anything to do with food.

The fryer we have doesn’t mention lard in its instructions. Maybe it can’t handle that.

Maybe we have to get an old style chip pan to get the real deal.

Eradicate Whitey

Can’t happen.

Oh you could wipe us out and replace us with Africans but guess what? That’s where we came from.

Humanity, science is pretty sure, started in north-east Africa. Side note: real science is never more than ‘pretty sure’ about anything. All of science is open to question and open to new data. When you hear ‘the science is settled’ and the Word cannot be questioned, that’s religion. Especially if it has a repeatedly-predicted apocalypse that never actually happens. Climate ‘science’ has predicted far more Days of Judgement, and been wrong more times, than any religion on Earth.

Even so, science is pretty sure on this one. Humans first appeared in north-east Africa, pretty close to where the Bible says Eden was situated (yeah, couldn’t resist chucking that cat among the pigeons :D).

So, in the beginning, we were all black-skinned. Had to be or we’d have died of sunburn and skin cancer. White skinned at or close to the equator is not a good mix – okay these days we have sunscreen and clothes but back then, no.

It is therefore no surprise that the much-vaunted Cheddar Man, apparently the first human in the UK, was black. Of course he was. He would have migrated here from Africa. Just like everybody else, everywhere on the planet.

The thing is, having black skin when you’re getting close to the poles is a disadvantage. You cannot produce enough vitamin D in your skin to survive.

Note for the obvious retort – Vit D carries calcium and helps with bone growth. You can get rickets in Africa if you have all the vit D you need but not enough calcium in your diet. You need both. Oh, and no, you could not nip to the chemist for a pack of Vitamin D pills. In many places you still can’t.

So those who were born lighter skinned in the North did better that those who were born really dark skinned. Eventially we lost most of the melatonin and became the Honkies who are so despised, even though we are actually the same people.

It took thousands of years. It will take thousands to do it again but it will happen.

So sure, wipe out Whitey and fill the North with black Africans. Wait a few thousand years and you’ll have to do it all again.

They might come here hating us, but the very act of coming here, as we did thousands of years ago, means their descendants will become us.

We are not a separate species. White people did not come from different stock than black people or brown or any other shade of skin. We are one species. We all came from the same place, we just adapted to the place we lived in. All you white people who hate black people, your ancestors were black. All you black people in Europe who hate white people, your descendants will be white.

In the end, as with most things in life, your fevered rantings and violent purges will end up changing nothing at all.

Have a cup of tea. Smoke. Relax.

In the end, nothing matters enough to get a heart attack over.

Imperial?

Apparently Jacob Rees-Mogg has issued his staff with a style guide from the 1940s, including insisting on the use of Imperial units rather than metric.

The other things on the list, I could believe, but that one made me think it might be a spoof.

I recall an instruction for double-spacing after a full stop from an old and august scientific journal who still did things the way they did a hundred years ago. With typewriters. Modern word processors and printers do not require the clarification of a double-space after a full stop because the visibility of that full stop is no longer dependent on how hard you press the key.

It’s not necessary any more.

I, like others, initially confused his instruction ‘no comma after ‘and” with the Oxford comma, which is before the ‘and’. I have never seen anyone put a comma after ‘and’ so must wonder at the level of English comprehension within the Government’s staff. Perhaps I’ve been right all along. Perhaps they are all idiots.

Okay, it’s clear Jacob Rees-Mogg would have been far happier if he had been born a hundred years earlier. The modern hedonistic world is clearly not to his taste. However, I still cannot believe he insisted on using Imperial units.

I’d be fine with that. I was one of the last generations to be taught those units in school and I still use an Imperial micrometer and many Imperial measurements anyway. Since I was around 11 when decimalisation started, I assimilated both systems and now use whichever gives me the nearest fit. So I might well write ‘4 inches by 10 cm’ when providing a measurement of something.

Some years back I went to the tobacco counter in a shop and asked for a half ounce of rolling tobacco. The young girl behind the counter just stared at me. Okay, I changed the instruction to ‘twelve and a half grams’. She handed me the packet and with smug superiority, corrected me to ‘twelve point five’. I let it go. I wasn’t going to get into a fight over half an ounce of tobacco.

I doubt anyone under 30 can handle fractions now. They aren’t being taught. Everything divides by ten in this new and easy world. How they manage to divide by three or seven.. well…

I can work in millimetres, micrometres, or quarters, eighths and thousandths of an inch. Most of Jacob’s staff will be a lot younger than me. Do they know how many chains are in a mile, how many pounds in a hundredweight (it’s not 100) or how many gills are in a gallon? I very much doubt it.

Oh there are relics. We still use miles in the UK and beer in pubs is still served in pints (I recall the uproar when my dad and his friends found out the threatened new half-litre measure was less than a pint) but is anyone still using fractions of these measures? I believe they still use furlongs in horse racing but who, outside the racing fraternity, knows what that is? Farms are still measured in acres and hectares, for now.

Metrication is still slowly encroaching. Beer in cans is measured in millilitres. Whisky in Scotland is now sold as 30 ml shots instead of a quarter of a gill. Some road signs, for things that aren’t far away, are in metres rather than yards. The old Imperial units are still around but they are a shadow system, with much of the fractionation of the measurements forgotten by the new generations.

The best you’ll get now is a hybrid. Eleven point six miles. Three point five pints. You’re unlikely to hear gallons or gills mentioned and as for weight, well, they’ll have to Google for the conversion and that will come back as six point three stone. Assuming they have been taught what a stone is…

Jacob must realise this. Okay, Imperial units were a pain most of the time. none of it made sense, none of it could be logically deduced, you just had to learn it all. I recall being delighted that we could now just divide everything by ten when I was a child, but then my son came home from his first school, in the early nineties, delighted that he could recite multiplication tables up to ‘ten tens’.

They don’t go up to twelve any more. No need, no more twelve inches to the foot, no more twelve pennies to the shilling. They don’t need to exercise their brains so much now. And it’s starting to show.

So I taught my son the easy trick of the eleven times table. I also, gently, coaxed him to the twelve times table. Just to show there was a world beyond ‘everything divides by ten’. He is now one of the few of his age who, like me, just uses whichever system is the easiest fit.

So, would a modern politician, especially one who is clearly intelligent, instruct his staff to use a measurement system few of them know anything about? It doesn’t seem likely, does it? And what would be the point, if their reports will be unintelligible to pretty much anyone under 50?

That one item on the list makes me doubt the whole list. Even though Jacob Rees-Mogg looks, sounds and acts like a time traveller from 1850, I still don’t think he’d go that far.

I guess we’ll find out when his budget report is in guineas…