Childish Sniggers

I’m not proud of this. I’ll start by saying that.

It’s something that many a person would tut at and dismiss as childish and immature.

Which it totally and utterly was.

But bloody hell if it wasn’t one of the best chuckles I’ve had all day (the other being throwing a banana peel at Carole).

The beauty of a gazillion satellite channels is that their programming starts at different hours of the day. And when it’s not whatever show it might be, there’s usually infomercials. And where there’s infomercials, there is fun to be had. That’s so true, it’a almost a well-known Chinese proverb.

Now, Nicole doodah off of the Pussycat Dolls telling you about something that stops your face “breaking out” is all well and good. After all, you really don’t want to wake up and found that your face has broken out. Of what I’m not sure. But it definitely happens because people kept saying it. And Nicole kept nodding and saying reassuring things because she had a thing that could prevent the outbreaking. It was all very moving.

But then there’s the man who is so enthusiastic. He’s a British guy but he’s always on these infomercials. And he’s always extremely enthusiastic, even when he’s showing you what is, essentially, nonsense. Look, for example, at a vacuum that is so strong it can suck up nuts and bolts.

Why can it do that? Why? I have never looked at nuts and bolts on a surface suitable for hoovering and wished that I have a vacuum that could lift them right off. What you want from a vacuum, if you’re honest, is something that won’t suck up something you don’t want it to suck up just when you think “Well, I hope it doesn’t suck that up. I should probably turn the hoover off and pick that up…”. What he sells are ones where you’d get as far as “Well, I…” and then there’d be the amazing sound of a nut rattling round the insides of your home suction device.

Anyway, today he was creaming himself over steam cleaners. “The toilet!” he exclaimed. “I love cleaning the toilet…” before he showed us how you can clean it at arms length with a steam cleaner attachment. Now, I’m sorry, but I have steam cleaned toilets and I know there’s still a moment when you hope to god your last meal stays down. Because whatever way you slice it, you’re more than likely going to run across the smell of hot urine at some point.

But this all fell by the wayside when a little “satisfied customer” video started, in which a woman – who had already explained she had children aged 5, 3, and 1 – was overjoyed by how well the steamer worked on her entry way and was perfect for keeping her front of house tidy.

Yeah. I know. So childish.

But if you’re going to bandy around words like “front of house” and “entryway” I cannot be held responsible for what happens.

And, as that enthusiastic man says, you can’t under-estimate the power of steam.


Sleeping With The Granary

Looking after Carole
When she is poorly sick
Is not something taken lightly
Because she rules with a big stick.

Can I have breakfast in bed please?
A pathetic voice will ask
Although it’s not really a question
It’s a mandatory task!

And then it comes to lunch time
And the puppy-dog eyes are there
So another meal eaten in bed
Because I’m made to care.

And this illness is all well and good
And bed rest can’t be beat
But I’m kind of regretting the wholemeal toast
‘cos there’s crumbs upon the sheet.

There’s one thing that I’m not keen on
As I lay down to slumber
And that’s the feeling of toasty dust
Because I’m sleeping with a crumber.


The Emperor’s New Lottery Ticker

Right, let’s get this cleared up. Are we, as a nation, in any way surprised about that “winning” lottery ticket that had been washed turning out to be fake?

Judging from the news websites and the front pages of a variety of papers it would appear we should be. But are we? Surely no-one actually believed that she had the winning ticket? Even before it turned out she’d tried it once before with a scratchcard and had numerous alleged crimes to her name? I mean, really?

If you did, then I suppose yaay you for seeing the good in people. But, Pollyanna, come for a walk with me on the cynical side of the street and look at the evidence.

For starters, what are the chances that you could wash the winning lottery ticket in some jeans, find it in the pocket some weeks later and be able to only read the winning numbers while everything – every last feature that could in any way be used to identify the ticket had been entirely eradicated? I’ve never washed anything in the pocket of a garment only to find that the middle section is almost entirely intact.

For seconders, she went to the media after her claim. Camelot confirmed there had been several hundred claims regarding the winning ticket but this was the only one which had any kind of media coverage. Because when you’re on the cusp of trying to con £33 million out of an organisation, the best thing to do is draw a lot of attention to your washed ticket by conjuring up an elaborate back-story involving frantic efforts to dry the paper with a hair dryer. I’ve dried pieces of paper in the past. It is not that hard to dry a small square of paper with a hairdryer. There’s no need for it to be frantic.

Thirdly and, for me, most crucially, it was mentioned in the news that she had a heart condition. That’s just a little bit too X-Factor for me. Elaborate back-story and some kind of heart-wrenching (in this case, literally) medical issue which could crush all your dreams in a heartbeat. Or in this case, a missed heartbeat.

In my experience, these situations only come with a genuine heart condition if you happen to be on board a plane in a 1970’s disaster movie, alongside a nun, a couple who have split up but are travelling together for some unknown reason, and someone with a guitar.

So, please tell me you weren’t sucked in by this – the Lottery winning equivalent of a spam email from your bank telling you they’re upgrading their systems but, for some reason, need you to remind them of your account number.



Book ‘Em

There are a lot of celebrity-name cook books out there at the moment.

There’s that one that Bear Grylls has written (the foreword for), for example. In which Bear talks about his favourite foods and all the health stuff he eats between drinking dirty water through a tube up his bum, fighting real-life bears for a bit of pre-masticated salmon and trying to make something tasty from a half-rotten beaver.

And then there’s Davina’s.

Davina, who is to health and fitness what Carol Vorderman is to both the internet and Sudoku. That is to say, the inventor of it all. Davina has, for quite some time, been adding her name to weights, hula hoops, mats, pedally things and countless other things. But now she’s taken a leap into writing her own nutritionally balanced book about Carbs or something. There is literally nothing this woman can’t turn her skills to.

And then you look at the back of the book where she thanks someone who “takes the foods that I love and makes something amazing out of them” or something.

Which does sort of imply that other than Davina saying I quite like mince and I quite like potatoes, she’s not had a lot of input in, say, a recipe for cottage pie. Or whatever it may be.

I quite like burgers and I quite like chips, but I’m not going to write a recipe book – essentially adorned solely with my name – and then thank McDonalds for taking the foods I like and making something tasty out of them. Or the fact that I like ice cream and peanut butter, so I’ll be thanking both Ben and Jerry for the amazing recipes they have that combine the two of them.

And now Davina’s all over the bloody Lakeland catalogue with her Y-shaped peeler and a variety of different machines which convert veg into something that is still veg but could be mistaken for something else. Including one thing that is like a pencil sharpener for a courgette.

The mind boggles. But I would like to thank Davina and all these companies for bringing everything together so I can blog about it.


You’ve got to hand it to quinoa.

Before it became the latest faddy super-food, recently falling to second place behind spiralizing everything that moves (something Carole wants to do, and I have no desire for) it went out of its way to be as unappealing as humanly possible.

For starters, it’s small and non-descript. It looks like crumbs. Nasty hard crumbs. Like a bit of something which shouldn’t be eaten. I don’t even know what it actually is. Or where it comes from. Or why. Which is exactly what quinoa wants. It doesn’t want you to know what, where, why or how. It just wants to be left alone.

And as if that wasn’t enough, it then manages to have a name which, when said out loud, bares no resemblance to the letters in its name. When you see quinoa you don’t think “keenwah”, you think “kwin-oh-a”. But no. Quinoa is crafty. You can’t ask for “kwin-oh-a” because you’ll be laughed out of a shop and never allowed to enjoy its entirely flavourless goodness. Yeah, and then you’ll be sorry.

But if you make it past the name thing, and find yourself in possession of a bag of pale and uninteresting hard lumps, it’s still not finished with you. Because you have to rinse the bloody stuff. Not just once. It’s not just a quick run under a tap to make it less sticky or whatever. No, quinoa practically demands a full washing routine. It has to be rinsed several times – several being a very vague term when it comes to rinsing the nasty off a tiny ball of whatever the frick it is – because without rinsing it tastes nasty. Almost as if it’s not really supposed to be considered for eating.

And, the bags of quinoa also advised against eating it raw. It’s not even that appetising cooked, so why you’d think you’d enjoy a hard, bitter ball of something-or-other is beyond me. But it’s clearly another point for quinoa in the “really, don’t eat me” stakes.

And when you’ve rinsed it and rinsed it and rinsed it again, you get to the cooking part where it transforms from a dull, featureless ball into a slightly bigger, softer, sometimes burst open featureless ball devoid of any flavour unless something is imparted to it during the cooking process.

And yet there’s a bag of the stuff in our cupboards. We’ve eaten some for tea tonight, admittedly far outweighed by a large number of vegetables.

You know you’re eating something that has tried its best not to be eaten when kale can actually liven it up.