Sunday, 27 September 2009

Country Phial

A lovely day here in Cornwall. London Acres is bathed in warm sunshine, across the field the river twinkles; peaceful silence broken only by birdsong. Time to go out then.

In the nearby lane, I met an elderly lady; she was snaffling blackberries from the hedgerows. The old soul was chatty and enjoying the warmth. She was also on the lookout for sloes.

I nipped back for two carrier-bags.
What better than to gather succulent blackberries during a gentle afternoon stroll around the nearby fields, an amble down to the path by the river. Both have blackberries galore - lovely with a dollop of cream, or in a pie. And also, the sloes.

Christmas has many disadvantages, but one compensation is sloe gin. Smooth, sweet, sticky, it brings comfort, a warm fuzzy swaddling as it slips down; the loathsome period recedes. Of course, you have to know to make it, so here are some instructions.

1) Collect lots of sloe berries - don't leave it too long, get out there over the next couple of weeks or you'll find they've started to turn. Good luck with this bit if you live in Newham. In fact, good luck generally.

2) Buy two 70 cl bottles of Asda Smart-Price Gin.

3) Get two empty 70 cl screw-top spirit bottles from your friendly publican.

4) Prick each of the sloes a couple of times.

5) Fill each of the four bottles half-full with gin, and a third-full with sloes.

6) Bung in a load of sugar, but leave a bit of space at the top of each bottle.

7) Give each of the bottles a really good shake. Oh, put the tops on first - sorry.

8) Place the bottles upright in a warm place. Inspect them monthly. Add more sugar, give them a bit of a shake. Put the bottles back unsampled.

9) Christmas Day. Drink four 70 cl bottles of sloe gin. You may need a friend to help you with this bit, eventually.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Show of Hands

What's been happening in the world of politics over the summer? It's usually a quiet time, but a few gems have emerged that we could touch on.

Nick 'Camel-Toe' Griffin, failed anorexic and leader of the British Lunatic Party, was pelted with eggs outside Parliament and forced to abandon a press conference. That's democracy for you. Police are poised to interview around sixty million suspects. An inspired media reporter revealed that following the assault on his person, Hitler-esque Griffin was 'whisked away'. But why eggs? Surely instead, samosas. Preferably frozen. Or just bricks.

After her over-publicised collapse from nervous exhaustion, 'popular' Scottish singer Susan Boyle received a comforting telephone call from none other than ... Gordon Brown. An attempt to show his caring side, perhaps. Or was it the beginnings of a support group?

Finally, because I've been wrestling with my MA thesis over the summer, I have yet to investigate Peter Mandelson's latest appointment. In particular, I'm keen to identify the democratic process by which he became Business Secretary. I'm assuming that, like (nearly) everyone else in Chuckles' er team, Rasputin has received a ringing endorsement from the electorate. It's just that I don't remember any such process taking place. I wonder what I'll find?

One Year On

11 September was the final day of my MA in Professional Writing. All work complete, thesis handed in. I've had a truly happy year, a wonderful experience. I'm so glad I left my job and took the plunge. The course was absorbing, fulfilling, fun. My fellow students were a great crowd, a real mixture but homogenous to the end. I've made some good friends; people I would never have met had I stayed in industry, with knowledge and views I was thrilled to encounter.

My tutors were fun, supportive, at times inspirational. For my thesis I had a terrific supervisor. I can't fault this course. My only difficulty was that there was so much on offer, so many options, extras, additions to the core activities, that I just physically couldn't do every single thing I wanted to - but that's hardly a complaint.

We had a lovely final day. Lunch at a local Italian in Falmouth. An afternoon meandering into a barbeque at our Course Leader's house, the place where a year ago we'd come together during our group 'getting to know you' project at the outset of the course. Full circle then.
Now, with all this knowledge and experience crammed into my head, it's time to earn a crust in the outside world. The next challenge.