Sunday, September 29

Let's hear it for chlorinated chicken

Cases of most common food poisoning rise 30% in Scotland. About 80% of incidents of campylobacter food poisoning are caused by contaminated poultry, especially chicken. Chlorinated chicken to the rescue? Scotland prays for no deal Brexit and an American trade deal.

Saturday, September 28

Weekend curry

Mutton curry remains a favourite, makes a regular monthly appearance. A hangover from Mrs G’s days circa The Cut, more than 30 years ago. Her colleagues included a number of Indian foodies who presented the good lady with a cook book written by a lad named Michael Pandya. It forms the basis of our foray into the exotic. A treat...highly recommended. On a day like today – atrocious weather – real comfort food.

We want a general election

As a self-confessed leave-voting Gammon Jamón ibéricon, Gudgeon remains fixated by Brexit (take my entertainment where I find it). The faux outrage by Parliamentarians is so much hot air – “Please, Miss, Boris’s pulled my pigtails.” Debate is mirrored by recent books, not least in Ian McEwan’s ‘The Cockroach’. I’ve yet to read it but am forewarned by Robert Shrimley’s review in today’s papers. “By the end of this short, occasionally elegant and no doubt cathartic fictional essay, McEwan has inadvertently given readers a fresh insight into the arrogance and contempt that liberal society feels towards those who have dared to defy it by voting for Brexit … reads like a piece written in a blind fury. There will be homes in the leafy suburbs of deepest Remainia where this work will be read with delight and lauded for its genius.” …Conversely, Dominic Sandbrook’s ‘Who Dares Wins’ takes us back to Britain of 1979-82, when life really was interesting, when three short years became the crucible of the modern Britain that still (I hope) exists. “It was a turning point, a realisation that the decline of Britain was not inevitable (as the political classes had accepted until Thatcher’s election).” Regretfully the current political class have yet to get with the programme and want to take us backwards, to throw in the towel.

Thursday, September 26

Constitutional implications of judges’ ruling

Sir, For more than 300 years legally unconstrained prorogation has not threatened parliamentary sovereignty (or even violated conventions). All those years, a simple act of parliament could have eliminated the “threat” by limiting times and occasions of prorogation. Boris Johnson’s prorogation, too, far from being the “constitutional vandalism” that Lord Sumption calls it, left room for parliament to pass just such an act, or one blocking this prorogation itself, or to replace the government.

The Supreme Court judges also failed to respond to the government counsel’s point that in 2014, Lady Hale, for a unanimous Supreme Court, rightly stated that giving royal assent to bills is a “proceeding in parliament” that the Bill of Rights 1689 forbids any court from questioning or impeaching. The procedures of prorogation are even more obviously “in parliament”.

As well-intentioned but constitutionally unauthorised law-making, this judgment undermines the rule of law and the constitutional settlement.

John Finnis, QC Professor emeritus of law, Oxford

Pulling the trigger and such like

Watched 2-3 hours of Parliament on the box yesterday. What a ding-dong – almost as entertaining as the rugby. Lots of confected outrage from the usual suspects…humbug indeed. They’re a sly lot, these people. I recently listened to a repeat of Sumption’s series of Reith Lectures and realised how easy it is to be seduced by a reasonable sounding old cove preaching goodness and light. Ken Clarke, holding court this morning, is of a similar ilk. His softly, softly, catchee monkee approach belies an authoritarian with total contempt for the rank and file.

Tuesday, September 24

Highway maintenance

Filling potholes, clearing gullies and gutters, chopping wood…toting barges and lifting bales.
Let’s hear it for waterproof clothing.

The righteous and the wicked

“Hedge funds battle tech companies for the brightest and the best,” states an article in today’s papers. “It’s not all about the machines. The arms race is about human intelligence and marrying that with technology.” Top talent is also an issue for our law firms, with UK Magic Circle organisations offering six-figure starting salaries for kids straight from school. I’m told the top American firms in London are paying newly minted graduates £140k. It’s funny how we view these things. We have less of an issue if the individual is a talented footballer – that’s a god given talent, freak of genetic lottery. For the former, however, such eminence is viewed a result of privilege – rich parents, the right school, Oxbridge and Harvard.

Brighton... First they came for our fox hounds, then they came for our schools and Range Rovers. Then they decided to eat each other instead.

Sunday, September 22

There but for fortune…

‘This was the first flat I lived in. It was a Victorian tenement flat called a “room and kitchen”. We had this room and one bedroom, the toilet was on the landing shared with the neighbours.’ Yep, been there, done that (I recognise the hair and fashionable attire) – except it was single room sans bedroom in the basement beneath a bookies. Doesn’t have to define your life. ...But then that leads us on to the much maligned concept of ‘meritocracy’ and the questionable belief that you are what you make of yourself. Having recently bumped into a couple of individuals I started out with I have to acknowledge an element of the ‘sliding doors’ rationale. That and Kirsty’s line about “There was a lot of diversity, and I definitely aspired to have one of the houses at the top of the hill,” she says. “That’s what you don’t get in these peripheral estates.” Emphasis on the second sentence.


Autumn has definitely arrived (blocked gutters and squally showers). Blackberries from the hedgerow and yogurt for breakfast, boiled brisket (ageing milk cow, heavy on the root vegetables) and a rich cabernet-driven Médoc for lunch. A succession of brutal gladiators on the box.

Saturday, September 21

The idyllic homestead

“In my house beautiful there would be no wifi, no phone signal, nor BBC radio or television.” Sounds rather familiar, though a “beautiful year-long hallucination” would be to gild the lily.

Latest review suggests more should be done to introduce county lines to national parks. Plonker Gove has a lot to answer for.

“Everyone blames Wigan and Stoke for Brexit but we should really be blaming Cornwall and Devon.”

Friday, September 20

Not that the old hag (or the party) has changed

It is good, in the midst of all this, to be reminded of the leader of the GLC, Ken Livingstone, trying to offer £53,000 of taxpayers’ money to the Troops Out movement, and to read once again his view, that “what Britain has done for the Irish nation . . .” was “worse than what Hitler did to the Jews”. Livingstone’s sidekick at the GLC, John McDonnell, called for talks with the IRA on “peace in London”. Interesting, too, to be reminded that during Tony Benn’s and Ken Livingstone’s attempt to take control of the Labour Party for the left, Margaret Beckett, no less, was found screeching “traitors” at the sensible minority who wanted Denis Healey to be leader of their party.

Friday fish

“Lobster mash topped fish pie, containing Dover Sole, mussels, tiger prawns, Grade One Scottish salmon and smoked haddock.” At least that’s what it claimed on the wrapper. Score 5/10 – my search for a half-decent store-bought fish pie continues.

World Cup

Am watching Japan v Russia on the box... Friends are en route. Eight days (three matches) flying cattle class: £8,500. That's an awful lot of beer.

Thursday, September 19

The Monarch

Commenting on David Cameron in the manner of William Sadler, aka Gino Fish: "I know of no such person."

Onwards and upwards

The homestead is enjoying a spell of fine weather and we’ve put in a fair few miles walking on the moor. Weary that I am, however, outstanding chores reared its head today as the mower hoved into view. I love our life – esto perpetua, as the posh boys say, and placate myself with the thought that my aches and pains are the result of a life well lived.

Pots and kettles

“Sir John Major will today compare Boris Johnson to a dishonest estate agent as he urges the Supreme Court to rule that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful.”    ...Is that the worst he can come up with: an estate agent? I still haven’t forgiven Major – an unmitigated disaster of the first water – for Black Wednesday. George Soros and the Bundesbank are in my black book too.

'The' most important issue...really?

“A majority of the public recognise the climate crisis as an emergency and say politicians are failing to tackle the problem, backing the interests of big oil over the wellbeing of ordinary people.”    ...Given the accompanying picture in the Guardian article, however, it seems to be more of a problem afflicting young women. One would assume ordinary men prioritise securing a well-paid job in the oil & gas industry and putting a roof over their family’s head.

Wednesday, September 18

Manual labour or desk work?

Trust me, there’s no comparison – especially when it comes to audits. I really, really, really, hate paperwork. Someone had the effrontery to question the veracity of my response to their query. Fortunately, given I have difficulty in recalling what happened last week, I’m one of those sad sorts that retains notarised transcripts of meetings that took place in 1988 and 1993.

Tuesday, September 17

Worth reviewing a year from now

RNLI donations surge (or not) after criticism of its work overseas. One donor said he had struggled to donate because the RNLI site had crashed under the traffic load. Others said they were setting up direct debits to support the work of the charity overseas and as a riposte to the coverage in the Times and MailOnline. An RNLI spokesperson said: “The volume of responses we have received on this matter is vast and ongoing – the overall picture is changing constantly at the moment, so it may be several weeks before we have a full understanding of its impact on donations to the RNLI. This is such a polarising issue … we have also received some very negative responses, including people contacting our supporter care team requesting to withdraw or reduce their support for the charity.”    The number of non-politicised and scandal-free charities we can give our money to diminishes year by year. I guess the left would prefer we increase taxes in order the government can donate our money for us.

Monday, September 16

If your number’s up…

The authors looked at evidence from around the world, including one review of 17 trials involving more than 250,000 people. Their conclusion? There is no convincing evidence that health checks significantly reduce your risk of dying — whether it be from a heart attack, stroke or cancer. They may pick up undiagnosed high blood pressure, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes in some people, but this doesn’t appear to translate into worthwhile benefits.

Way to go, girl

North Devon’s poor white trash just don’t get the European Union, says Kirsten Johnson, the Lib Dem candidate for North Devon. Where the fluck do they get these people?


Saturday, September 14

Sunny Saturday

Late off the mark this morning. Both nearby towns are chock-a-block with locals and visitors alike taking in the sun. Friends visiting Scotland send postcard from Aberdeen. A plaintive one-liner: “It hasn’t stopped raining.” I read foreign landowners north of be border face being stripped of their property under Labour plans to set a residency requirement and a limit on how much one person can own. Richard Leonard, the Scottish Labour leader, has set out a land reform agenda that hands much privately owned land to communities. Can’t help thinking the place is fast becoming reminiscent of Zimbabwe. Both used to be great countries…one of them once had a football team. Back home for the racing from Doncaster, the St Leger.

Friday, September 13

Early start

Though 14th is the Harvest Moon, for all intents and purposes if you are up early this morning it has arrived – has lit up the homestead. Unfortunately and much to the annoyance of our tawny owls, all turned black at five when the moon sank below the ridge. Sunrise is due at 06:31.

What a great day! The sun shone and the barbecue worked overtime. Nuked meat aside, the salad harvest continues to produce. I don’t believe we’ve ever grown so much quality green stuff. Let’s hear it for global warming. Post-Brexit supply chain problems hold no fears. I’m sure our African/American/Asian neighbours can more than compensate for any Dutch/Spanish shortfall.

Wednesday, September 11

What other things are men thinking (and not telling us)?

They would rather we didn’t watch ‘sport’ with them. It’s just something they used to be allowed to do on their own and while they can live with us joining in, the fact that we don’t know all the little rules but nonetheless want to have them explained as we go along, and regardless of not being quite up to speed with all the little rules, we will have a view on how the game is proceeding, is something they find a bit annoying.

One foot in the grave

This week’s mail brings news of yet more acquaintances, one a friend of more than four decades, another an old golfing partner, consigned to retirement/care homes. However comfortable the establishment, after being appraised of the cost, I’d suggest your money is better spent drinking yourself into an early grave.


“Corrupt, undemocratic and hypocritical: I've seen Brussels at its worst.” Good grief, woman, what did you expect to find. Our own people aren't exactly shy of climbing on the gravy train when the opportunity presents.

It’s the way you tell ’em

In this overly sensitive politically-correct age of ours, when the rejoinder ‘Big Girl’s Blouse’ has grown-up journalists such as Alice Thomson wet themselves, it’s worth reminding everyone what life used to be like. Am currently reading one of Georges Simenon’s ‘Inspector Maigret’ stories, Pietr the Latvian. Originally published in 1930 the stylistic differences are obvious. However it’s what’s said that really denotes the period. I can’t imagine, for instance, a contemporary fiction writer attributing a similar sort of mindset to his/her hero:
“Every race has its own smell, and other races hate it. Despite opening a window and puffing relentlessly at his pipe, Inspector Maigret could not get rid of the background odour that made him uncomfortable. Maybe the whole of Hôtel du Roi de Sicile was impregnated with the smell. Perhaps it was the entire street. The first whiff hits you when the hotel-keeper with the skullcap opens his window, and the further you go up the stairs, the stronger it gets…”

Tuesday, September 10

The bucolic countryside stirs

Slept in after late night following the debate in Parliament – a sorry shower, the lot of ’em. Woken by baying hounds, neighbours on quad bikes exercising the pack. Not to be outdone, others have cranked up their chain saws (stress on the multiple). Visited by family of red deer – stag with impressive set of antlers, a hind and calf.

Sunday, September 8

Onwards and upwards

The trail-running crew are out in force this morning. I won’t say there are more women runners than men these days but I do seem to see more of them. Attended a neighbour’s shindig last week and couldn’t help noticing everyone’s daughter was six-inches taller than me. Guess it comes to us all.

Nothing new there then

Must have been close to midnight when we spilled from the Dog & Duck. Temporary ceasefire’s holding, though everyone seems to be operating on a hair trigger. Most want their day in court: a general election, so they can settle scores. Even then I doubt anyone will get the answer they want and community spirit will continue to fester. Bad as things look I still view it a pale imitation of the 1970s. 

Thursday, September 5

Cheese of the month: Queso de Valdeón

Maybe a pale imitation of Cabrales but it still makes your eyes water. Begs a strong red wine.

Eating your granny... Large portions of neighbour’s retired milk cow. Tastes out of this world, albeit she needs a lot of long slow cooking.

Wednesday, September 4

Overturning gendered roles

In the manner that Victorians sent small boys up chimneys to scrape and brush soot away, I push the diminutive Mrs G. through small windows to shin across sloping roofs while barking orders from below. The homestead’s guttering required attention and you can only get to it from above.

Tuesday, September 3

Deserting the sinking ship

Seems barely a couple of weeks ago we were in the yard being buzzed by swallows. Now it’s just the occasional lone bird heading south. Redstarts too, on their way to Africa. Leaves are falling but the grass is still growing.

Monday, September 2

Just sayin

Years of austerity and Brexit uncertainty have created a generation of authoritarian younger voters who are less interested in democracy than strong leadership, research suggests. A study of more than 5,000 people found that two thirds of younger voters were in favour of “strongman leaders” prepared to defy parliament.