So we have a case of suspected swine flu. Not a big deal so far, but I'm keeping an eye on the little one, making sure her temperature doesn't rise and she's nice and comfy. Poor little mite, she's missing all of the fun of the last week of term, but isolate her we must, as per the NHS regulations. Of course, I'm seeking revenge on the swine flu virus by making my favourite belly pork recipe. The DH once told me that here in the West Midlands pork is not a meal, but a way of life. He's right. Every little independent cafe in town, every butchers and a few fast food trailers all sell the beloved pork and stuffing batches/bap/cobs, and long may the pork products reign, that's what this goode huswyfe declares. Anyway, here's the recipe, which is more of a suggestion, really.
Slow Roasted Belly Pork with Garlic and Oregano
Ask your butcher to score the skin of your belly pork (buy it in one piece and not those piddly slices, you'll not regret it). Get your joint home and chop a goodly amount of garlic together with some fresh oregano (thyme or rosemary will do), mix the herbs and garlic with olive oil. Now, massage this embrocation into the belly pork, remembering to rub it into all of its crevices and in between the scoring of the skin. Season all over, thoroughly. Cover it and leave for at least an hour to marinade, and up to 24 hours in the fridge. Roast the belly pork for 30 minutes per pound in a slowish oven (125/150). When it's time is up turn the heat up to full blast and crackle that prok skin for ten minutes or so (keep checking and don't leave the kitchen). Yummy. Serve with garlic and chilli greens and mashed/crushed spuds.
Now, it will come as no surprise to regular readers that my political inclinations embrace neither laissez-faire morality nor laissez-faire economics, so I've been very interested in reading some of the articles by Phillip Blond, which have been fluttering around the press over recent months. And today I read a good blog post by Gerry Hassan arguing that Progressive Toryism/Red Toryism can't work because:
"It is obvious from this that Red Toryism is incompatible with the main body of thinking in contemporary Conservatism. This points to the Cameron Conservatives portraying themselves as radical, while staying close to the Thatcher/Blair consensus which has brought the country to the brink of ruin. This means that ‘blue Toryism' will prevail in debates within the party and once the Conservatives are in office."
It was an interesting blog post, but not entirely successful in refuting Blond's main ideas, which are really worth a read (no matter the colour of your politics or the country in which you live). However, what struck me was how perceptive and encouraging were Hassan's final thoughts:
"Intellectually, this signals the shape of the future faultlines of British politics. These are less defined by left versus right and more by authoritarianism versus radical decentralisers. The events of the last week have just defined the character of each side a little more clearly. On the authoritarian side stand Blair, Brown and Cameron, and most of their parties. On the other, decentralist side, can be found Red Toryism, John Cruddas and Labour reformers in Compass, and the Lib Dems.
The new establishment which has arisen in the last thirty years is fixated on a narrow and very hollow idea of ‘freedom' which is centred on our power to consume, shop, spend money and see ourselves as atomised, individualised ‘selves'. It still has control of the two main parties, most of the media and corporate opinion, while the radicals who see the sorry state this has led the UK to, have much less power, access and status, but a coherent case and a growing body of opinion prepared to listen to them."
Too true, Gerry. This voter is listening, and learning.
Now, onto wackier things. No, nothing can be wackier than British politics, so I shall re-phrase that last bit. Now, let us relax and indulge ourselves in a bit of vintage nonsense.
Ahh, the Victorians, so pathological in observing the social niceties were they that they could not bring themselves to publish the actual problems on the Problem Page, leaving the reader to guess at what was bothering Hopeless, from Stafford, from the delicate responses of the Agony Aunt. In this case, the Agony Aunt was Annie S. Swan, who, poor thing, was inundated by the missives of the Victorian lovelorn and desperate. Here are a few of her responses, as published in The Woman at Home magazine, circa 1890.
Certainly, MARGUERITE, absolutely decline all future acquaintance with the man. He is a coward and a poltroon. Cut him dead on the street, and everywhere else you may happen to meet him. I should take no other revenge. It would do you no good to make the matter public, and the probability is he would not care. Men like him are not easily wounded. You can very well leave him to One who has said, "Vengeance is mine."
I have not much patience with CONDOR BIKE. In the first place, she has no business to be secretly engaged to anybody, and if secretly, why? No.1 is sure to mind if his sweetheart accepts a bicycle from another man, even if he has not paid her any particular kind of attention. I should advise "Condor Bike" to lay the case before her own father and mother.
ORCHID. - It is a pleasure to answer such a tidy, concise, and practical letter; you give us no trouble at all. For your questions. 1. Soap frequently causes pimples, especially the cheap, much advertised kinds; Clever's are good, so is Dr Mackenzie's arsencial soap.
I hope you enjoyed those as much as I did! I've learnt such a lot from Mrs Swan: avoidance of poltroons at all costs; never accept a bike from a gent; and arsenic reduces pimples. I may post a few more, if they prove popular, so speak up gentle reader!
But before I go, here's an ancient Gaelic prayer that I hope you'll enjoy.
As the hand is made for holding and the eye for seeing, thou hast fashioned me for joy. Share with me the vision that shall find it everywhere: in the wild violet's beauty; in the lark's melody; in the face of a steadfast man; in a child's smile; in a mother's love; i n the purity of Jesus. Amen.