We’re going to need a bigger van…

…for those trips to Europe.

Cigarettes are to rise in price again and there is now a system in place whereby no pack of cigarettes can cost less than £7.24. You can get a pack for less than half that in any other country in Europe.

Assuming we do eventually leave the EU, there will be a limit imposed on how many cigarettes we can bring back per person. There is no limit on how many you can bring back for your own use at the moment due to the EU’s free movement of goods rules but if you have loads, expect to have them stolen by border control anyway. So the imposition of a limit isn’t any reason to stay in the EU.

If the limit is, say, 300 (15 packs) then if you have a weekend in Europe you’ll save about £54 per person by stocking up while there.

The tobacco story is an old one. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t cheaper everywhere outside the UK. Even as a child, if we went to France or Spain my dad would take the limit home and so would my mum (who never smoked). Lately my parents often went to Portugal and brought me home five 50g packs of rolling baccy. At the time it was a gift worth at least £75 at UK prices. They paid half that. Unfortunately they are getting too old for those trips.

Oh yes, my parents are still alive. My father, a lifelong smoker and my mother, a lifelong passive smoker, are both still alive. Neither have experienced cancer. It’s not just me who defies NHS statistics. It’s the whole family.

Alcohol is also a lot cheaper in most EU countries. I noticed, in Germany, that whiskies like Famous Grouse were the same price in little corner shops as they are in big supermarkets here. I also noticed that only the idiots in charge of the UK have fallen for hiding tobacco behind doors and putting them in plain packs. Nobody else has fallen for this one.

Nobody else will fall for the utterly cretinous notion of putting all booze, including fine malt whiskies, into plain packs and hiding them behind shutters. Oh it’s coming. Plain packs for ‘non-approved’ foods is already being talked about as the Next Logical Step in the bullying of the entire nation. These thugs are never satisfied. Never. When they have total control they will start telling you how many steps you have to take every day – oh wait, that one’s already out there.

Now we have a tax on sugar. Initially on sugary drinks but if you think it will end there you really haven’t been paying attention at all. Imagine a world where Coke and Pepsi are in the same olive drab packaging with photos of meth mouth and Cyril Smith on every bottle. The company name relegated to 10-point Times New Roman. It’s all behind doors and you have to ask for it. Imagine it well because if you are under 50 you’ll see it in your lifetime.

Fancy a burger? You’ll get it with MACDONALDS on the olive green box in 10-point Times New Roman with a picture of someone syringing lard through an artery on the top. Actually not hard to copy. I like liver and it often has a large artery or two going through it.

Fancy fish and chips? It’ll be a lot smaller and cost more, not least because the chip shop has to buy olive green wrapping paper with pictures of Bernard Manning nude and a warning that all fish are so full of mercury that they will roll off the table if left unattended.

Oh I know. You’re scoffing. You don’t believe it can happen.

Go back to 2004 and tell the pub customers that soon they will be banned from smoking in there. Tell them they will buy cigarettes in drab green packs from behind doors and they will pay £7.24 for the cheapest brand. Listen to them scoff at you.

You’re going to need a van for a lot more than tobacco on future visits abroad. If you fly it will very likely be well worth paying an excess baggage charge.

As for smugglers, they’re likely to steal Mr. MacDonald’s favourite line.

‘I’m lovin’ it’.

Rule by thuggery and threat

The Dreadful Arnott and her minions don’t like dissent. Not even a hint of it. Question the Righteous Ones at your peril!

It’s really not too surprising that the Politically Correct and Lifestyle Controllers never have a bad word to say about terrorists. They work in much the same way. Say the wrong thing and they turn on you. They’ll insult you, abuse you, even physically attack you. Try to defend yourself and they’ll claim you’re bullying them.

Oh they haven’t blown up smokers yet, but they’d like to. They did once come up with a computer game where you were a sniper on a rooftop, picking off smokers in the street. They have also encouraged children to snatch cigarettes from people smoking in the street. Really. All officially sanctioned.

Should any smoker dare to respond to these attacks, we are ‘being unreasonable’. They are ‘only trying to help’.

No they aren’t. They are being themselves. Their natural selves. Vicious, spiteful thugs.

They will say ‘smokers want the ‘right’ to smoke anywhere!’

No we don’t. We would quite like the right to smoke in our homes and cars – you know, our own property – but the antismokers don’t want to allow that. We smokers only want to be left alone. We don’t demand every establishment allows us to smoke. We never have. You can have nonsmoking pubs and restaurants, as many as you like. We won’t smoke in them.

Nut we can’t have even one smoking establishment. Not one. We are to be banned from smoking in the grounds of hospitals, in our own cars, and there are moves to ban it in private homes.

So who is being unreasonable? The smokers, who just want to be left alone, or the antismokers who want total control over everyone’s lives at all times?

I know, there are antismokers nudging each other and saying ‘Another bleating smoker’ but it’s not just the smokers.

Vapers are getting the same treatment. Booze is to be restricted and plain-packaged – warning labels will be first. As with smoking. Any non-approved foods (it’s not what you approve of that matters, it’s what your Masters approve for you) are going to be hiked in price soon, and what you can have will be so bland that you won’t feel like eating it.

That, of course, will solve the imaginary ‘obesity epidemic’.

It’s never going to stop. The control freaks will enlist your help to beat up a group they don;t like. They’ll tell you you can get bacterial infections from the residue of something that’s been burned, that you can get cancer from second hand steam, that one daily glass of sherry will make your liver die a slow and agonising death… it’s all lies.

People believe lies. They believe them no matter how ridiculously absurd you make them.

Every lie controls your life just that little bit more. Whether you smoke or not, whether you drink or not,. whether you live on burgers and chips or tofu and hand-knitted yoghourt.

These people do not want to control one group. They want to control everyone. Everyone.

Bit by bit, they’re getting there. Don’t think it can happen? It’s happened before, more than once.

Pass out the overalls, we’re about to become old style communist China. Or North Korea.

It can happen.

It’s happening right now. It’s so blatant that if you can’t see it, there’s only one reason.

You don’t want to.

 

Going Large? The price is your children

Well, one more day to meet the unreasonable self-imposed deadline to get Longrider’s book out. It’s still possible. I’ve sent the first draft covers and as long as they are OK, we’re good to go. I have all day tomorrow to make changes because the pelmet lies dead at my feet after a two-day battle. It’s intact, I can re-use it but it’s off the wall at last.

I didn’t even have to bleed for this one. Result! It has surrendered for the glory of the Sontaran empire. Oops. Did I say that aloud?

 

Anyway. The modern world despises those of generous waistline as much as it despises smokers and anyone who likes a glass of sherry once a week. I’m okay on the last one, I rarely drink sherry.

Obesity, the Department of the Bleeding Obvious has finally discovered, is at least partly genetic.

Parents account for about 20% of the total fatness of their kids. The idiot reporting this says this means that each parent contribute one-fifth of their kids’ future BMI measure. They didn’t listen in school.

Bollocks. Parents each contribute 50% of the rancid little monsters’ genes and if one has the ‘conserve food as fat in case you don’t get any more’ gene, the kid has a 50% chance of being a fat one. If both parents have it then the kid has the gene for sure.

The actual science would be that around 20% of chubby children are genetically made that way. It isn’t something that applies to every family.

Yet it’s enough to have the Righteous in a tizzy. They don’t like this idea that the thing they want to control can’t be controlled. Who will pay them if that is the case?

Oh, ‘intervention’ is still needed. Fancy word for ‘control’ but that’s all it is. It also means that the righteous can claim that every – EVERY – parent is responsible for a fifth of their kids’ fatness and therefore take them all. It’s a lie, but aren’t we used to that by now?

Some people retain energy better than others and that means they can get fat. It has always been so. In times of plenty, those people do indeed get fat but when times are hard, they are most likely to survive a time of famine.

It’s how the human race has survived. By having people who are different. Crops like bananas and chocolate and wheat are clones. All the same. A disease that kills one will kill them all. They have no differentiation so they cannot get past a killing stroke.

Humans come in different types. That’s what keeps the race going. Some of us are immune to certain diseases, some are susceptible. Some of us are not affected by heavy drinking and smoking, some are killed by it. We’re different and that’s what keeps us going through tough times.

The medics want to make us all the same. Kill the deviant. Make the British Standard Human.

When they’ve done that, one small virus will kill the entire human race. If one is affected, all are affected.

Don’t be wheat.

 

The Revenge of the Poultry from Beyond the Gravy…

Salmonella and Campylobacter. Sigh. I have grown enough of these in a single experiment to bring down a medium sized city.

Oh it’s easy, when you use growth media designed to make them grow fast. It’s how we find them quickly when there’s an outbreak. It’s also how we test food before it goes on sale. Sometimes it’s in the supermarkets before the test is complete but we can recall it pretty fast.Heavy contamination will show up in 24 hours but it takes about 4 days to be certain it’s a negative.

We test for other things too but the big names in chicken and turkey and general poultry are Salmonella and Campylobacter.

At the end of the experiment, everything goes into a big pressure cooker called an autoclave. Fifteen minutes in there and there is no life anywhere inside it. It’s not magic, it’s exactly the same principle as a home pressure cooker, just scaled up so you can fit a disobedient technician into it. In the past, we actually used home pressure cookers in the lab as benchtop sterilisers for small amounts. of stuff. Now there are custom built benchtop ones. They do the same thing but they look more sciency and they have timers so they don’t go bang if you forget.

For these two nasties, all you need is to have the centre of the meat exceed 80 decrees C and they’re dead. Cook that chicken properly, don’t handle salad with chicken grease on your fingers and you’re fine. It’s only dangerous when it’s raw, or when you let it contaminate stuff you aren’t going to cook.

I’ve never had either infection despite my cavalier cooking methods and despite working with them (and other nasties I haven’t personally caught) for almost 40 years. They aren’t hard to kill.

They are, however, very hard to get rid of at source. For Salmonella, many UK poultry farms use a vaccine introduced via drinking water. It won’t wipe them out but it will reduce their numbers. On a bird carcass, Salmonella is mostly surface contamination. Inside surfaces too – it lives in the guts and can get into some internal organs. Still, that’s easy. As long as the surface is cooked, it’s dead.

Campylobacter is a little different. This one lives in the gut too but it can get into muscle tissue. It can be inside the meat. That’s the one you need to kill by cooking the chicken all the way through. Getting the centre of the meat past 80C is enough – you don’t need 200C in the centre. If you achieve that, you have a roast chicken that will shatter like glass when you try to carve it and will probably be about the size of a quail.

Minced/ground meat is a special problem. For any meat. If you have a beef steak you can flash-fry the outside and the inside can be pretty much raw. The only contamination is on the outside. Ostrich steaks are also best quick-cooked. Even though they are birds they don’t seem to suffer Campylobacter infections.

If you make steak mince, you have mixed the outside contamination all through the final product. It’s now internally contaminated and – as with sausages and burgers – you need it cooked right through.

So with poultry mince you will now have both Salmonella and Campylobacter all through the finished product. Nasty.

Not if you cook it thoroughly. It’s mince. If there are no pink bits left then all the bits are cooked and the nasties are dead. I admit, when making any dish with mince, I cook the mince completely before starting with any added sauces. I take no chances with high risk foods.

Should the mince be a no-risk food? That’s impossible. You can never be sure the processing plant is perfectly sterile even if the starting product is clear of pathogens. The processing plant is staffed by people and if you sterilise your staff in an autoclave their productivity will suffer and you might get nasty letters from their relatives. People carry diseases. It happens. Deal with it.

How do you deal with it? Cook it thoroughly and wash your hands after handling raw meats. Disinfect kitchen surfaces (the spray stuff is good enough, you don’t need a flamethrower) and wipe down with disposable paper towels, not a cloth. A contaminated cloth is a stupid thing to have in a kitchen.

That’s it. That’s really it. Poultry, mince, any raw meat is a risk but it’s an easily managed risk. Just do what your grandparents did. It worked for them and it’ll work for you.

Each year, the article says, 830,000 Americans get sick from eating contaminated poultry. There is no excuse for this. All it takes is a few simple things – proper cooking and kitchen hygiene.

You are not going to eradicate these bacteria at source. You’re dealing with living organisms and chickens are, it must be said, among the most disgusting of living things.

But they taste so good. Just cook them properly.

 

Why is this news?

Apparently, warning children that snacks are going to make them fat just makes them want the snack more.

Surely every parent already knows this, starting with the very first parents right at the dawn of humanity? Tell a child they can’t have something and their brain immediately defaults to ‘You’re keeping the good stuff for yourself!’

They have to try it, to find out why it’s not allowed. Tell them not to touch fire and they’ll touch it to find out why. In that case only once, but tell them not to eat chocolate and they’ll test that assertion over and over.

The antismoking crusade is what drives children to smoking. It’s bad, it’s evil, you can’t have it… so they have to try it and find out for themselves. Some won’t like it, some will. The same goes for alcohol, sugar, salt… That’s because children are people, and people are all individuals with different likes and dislikes. Something modern medicine can’t seem to grasp.

Children aren’t stupid. Repellent, unhygienic and despicable yes, but not stupid.

Children want to be grown up. They want to try grown up stuff. Okay, when we grow up we realise we were far better off being children, but what child knows this apart from those of us who never really grew up?

So, tell them they can’t have it and it’s grown-up stuff. It exists therefore someone has it. It must be the grown-ups. They want it for themselves. Why can’t we have it?

The concept of ‘one day you’ll be a grown-up’ is entirely lost on children. On most adults too. They cannot envisage the future, only the past – and for children it’s often just the ‘now’. That’s why children don’t see consequences, and why most adults don’t see them either. They cannot think ahead. They don’t know how.

I’ll soon be 57. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Most people follow a path through life. Not me. I just bumble through and most of it (barring a few utter disasters) seems to work out. I’m alive, and eternally broke, but I can pay the rent and buy food and put petrol in the car so everything is good. I don’t want to be rich. There is nothing I need that much money for.

I remember being a child. I had a Dalek suit made of PVC. It was floppy and didn’t hold the Dalek shape but it was fun. Armed with a sink plunger and a whisk. I had a Scammel tank transporter steel toy and a tank (can’t remember which) to put on the back. I melted many, many toy soldiers on the coal fire.

I had Action Man toys, Batman’s Batmobile with plastic flame from the exhaust, Joe 90’s car, Bond’s Aston Martin, many many more. These would all be worth a fortune now if I had thought ahead. Kept them pristine and in their boxes. All are gone.

But I was a child. Joe 90 died in a mid-air collision with Thunderbird 2. Batman and Bond failed in their missions in spectacular style, involving a screwdriver and deadly curiosity. I took things apart to see how they worked. I was not thinking of the future. There wasn’t one. There was only ‘now’. The future happens after sleep and it’ll be the same as today.

Yeah, I was told not to touch the drinks cabinet. So obviously I had a go at the sherry, the easiest one to open. I was strangely uninterested in my dad’s cigarettes but then he never told me not to try them. Either he assumed I couldn’t light them, or that I wouldn’t be interested, or that it was so obvious he didn’t need to tell me. Whatever the reason, they weren’t on the banned list so weren’t interesting.

I have stuck a knife in the toaster and I have run with scissors. I’m still here. The scissors were closed and held point down and I unplugged the toaster before digging out the stuck crumpet. They don’t tell you that part. Just the overall ‘it’s dangerous’, not the way to make it not dangerous.

Snacks won’t make you fat unless you eat a lot of them and don’t move much. That is not the warning that’s ever given. There is no safe level of biscuits or crisps – that is the warning and it’s patently ridiculous.

Children see it. Medics and pressure groups don’t. Can you?

Poverty makes you fat

I have a feeling those in real poverty (no home, no food, no free benefits) would disagree while pointing to their visible bone structure. Almost all of it, in the worst cases.

However, in the UK, poverty just means ‘on benefits’. Never mind that there are many on benefits with incomes that have exceeded my worked-for income for almost a decade. Never mind that they pay much lower rents and council tax than me. No, they are ‘in poverty’ because it suits an agenda. They like the title but they don’t realise it’s not their agenda.

They are not the ‘work in progress’. They are one of the tools for that work, and when their job is done they will be discarded. Don’t bother trying to tell them, they won’t listen.

Scotland, that model society for Panoptica, now wants to impose stricter ‘anti-obesity’ regulations because the ones they’ve imposed already don’t work. Of course they don’t work. They were never meant to work. If they worked, the fattie-haters would have to find real jobs instead of demanding more cash to fund their hate machine. It’s the same MO as all the other hate groups we pay taxes for.

The reasoning is that ‘poor’ people make the ‘wrong’ food choices because they are in poverty. They can’t afford ‘proper’ food. The solution is to tax the cheap food to make it too expensive for poor people to eat. Since they still can’t afford the proper food, this will ensure they don’t get fat.

The logic makes a twisted kind of sense – we have fat poor people so if we put up the price of food so they can’t buy any, they’ll starve themselves thin.

This, the SNP believes, is another sure fire way to get re-elected.

What about thin poor people? Oh I suppose they won’t be around to vote next time anyway since with no fat reserves, they’ll all be either dead or too weak to mark an X.

The Scottish government absolutely hates any kind of business and wants to drive them all out of the country, along with any local jobs they might be paying local people to do. They also don’t want anyone importing anything. Who is going to add in an extra layer of regulatory shite just to sell to one little country who have declared they don’t want your products anyway?

Let’s consider a supermarket. South of the border, business as usual. North of the border, extra taxes on certain products, restrictions on advertising certain products, some things can be on special offer while other things can’t. How long before the likes of Tesco, Morrison’s, Aldi, Lidl, and more just decide Scotland is more bother than it’s worth? The latter two have a business model that hinges on low prices. If the taxes put their prices up to the same as Hamish McPricetag’s local shop in the hills, the entire point of Aldi and Lidl is gone.

Soon afterwards, so are they.

Meanwhile Tessie May threatens to make the UK a low-tax business haven if the EU piddle around on the Brexit deal. Good for her. Of course, Scotland will be busy increasing taxes until they top any EU country’s wielding of the tax hammer. Every country in the EU will be more attractive than Scotland for any business and right next door will be the Brexit tax haven.

If you were running a business now, what would you be thinking? I know what I’m thinking.

Scots, vote SNP. Fuck your country into the ground.

You know it makes no sense and I know you’ll do it anyway.

Raw meat

Recovering from the cold. CStM is taking longer but then I’m used to recovering from damage, due to many years of frequent practice. Still finding it hard to concentrate though, which is delaying book production but not for much longer.

Tomorrow I collect my car and Thursday the long trek to Scotland begins. This time, we’ll stop halfway or thereabouts because we’re both still groggy from infection and doing the trip in one go doesn’t appeal.

Anyhow, none of this is relevant to the title.

Who remembers the arrival of Carrefour supermarkets? Before they ventured into Wales, shopping meant visiting the butcher, the grocer, the fishmonger and so on. Suddenly it was all there under one roof, in a vast warehouse sized shop.

Lately, the supermarkets have taken to setting up bakery areas, fishmonger, butcher, delicatessen etc in-store. Less like a food warehouse and more like a one-roof indoor market. One crucial aspect remains the same though. It all goes into one trolley.

In those far off days, you’d buy meat in the butcher’s shop and it would be handed to you all wrapped and ready to go in your bag. The butcher would cut the meat, or slice the bacon, while you watched. No mass production in that shop.

Now it’s all pre-wrapped in shrink wrap (sometimes double shrink wrapped and damn near impossible to get into) and should be perfectly safe but… it’s made in a packaging plant. There is no possible way to absolutely guarantee that the outer wrapping is free of meat-origin bacteria. There won’t be many, but bacterial contamination can do something that chemical contamination can’t do. It can grow.

They won’t grow very much on a plastic wrapper in a fridge, of course – but if they are in a trolley and get on to other food, well…

Even in recent years, till operators in supermarkets would put your raw meat into a small plastic bag before you put it in your carrier bags. The carrier bags themselves were single use so internal contamination of the bag didn’t matter. Now they have to charge you for the small bags and for the carriers too. So you don’t automatically get either, and most of us re-use carrier bags until they fall to bits.

Add in the modern insistence on microwaving everything or cooking until it’s just warm and not properly incinerated and it’s no surprise that food poisoning is on the rise.

When microwaves first appeared, we microbiologists investigated their potential as rapid sterilisation machines. They were crap at sterilisation, so we still use high pressure steam in autoclaves. Bottom line: microwaving cannot guarantee food is completely bacteria–free although as long as it goes above 80degC in the middle, there should be nothing dangerous left.

Now the Food Standards Agency is calling for free plastic bags for raw meat, in direct defiance of the Green insistence that we have to pay for those bags.

I think there could be a small war brewing. Time to get the popcorn ready…