Wednesday 30 November 2016

Petitions: not worth the paper they are not written on

Usual suspect
My last post was a tongue in cheek nod to the silly season with a hot gypsy side salad.

Imagine my obvious pleasure to learn that the new British five pound note contains traces of animal fat. The note, made of plastic, is virtually indestructible, unless you decide to burn it. Perchance to leave it in your trouser pocket and expose it to a heavy wash, spin cycle optional, and it will come out pristine and brand new. Hoorah, I hear you say. No more soggy notes and heavy labour matching up friable fragments so you end up with two definable serial numbers: thereafter trotting to the local bank to convince a dozy spotty teller to proffer a replacement. We truly live in wondrous times.

Some sectors of the populace are not convinced. In fact the presence of rendered animal fat has upset the vegetarian fraternity (and sorority) and indeed they have been moved to pen a petition, to wit: The new £5 notes contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and other clueless sods in the U.K. We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use. Apparently over 15,000 signatures have been garnered from folk with nothing better to do. The Royal Mint and government are dearly worried and are considering recalling all five pound notes. All future issues will contain only the finest tofu lightly seared with extra virgin olive oil. ARSE. This will make the notes more palatable to meat eschewing, whining, pansy minorities. Anyway, who gives a fuck about what the Jains want?

This sort of thing is likely to tip your gallant host over the edge into frank insanity and propel me on an incendiary bound frenzy. And let’s be honest, my propensity to ‘burn stuff’ is never too far from the surface at the best of times. Just one more push.

Saturday 26 November 2016

Dog Days of Summer

We are fast approaching the 'silly season', well at least in the southern hemisphere. That time of year renowned for its lack of meaty news stories. It is no coincidence that this time coincides with the closure of Parliament and the law courts. Seasoned journalists need to cast a finer meshed news net to capture stories for the delectation of the eager reading public. Tis the time of year when we hear of how 'Mittens the kitten' became stuck up a tree. Heart warming stories of the frivolous type which momentarily restores our gentle faith in humanity and distracts from our trite, meagre and often pointless lives (steady Flaxen). I am not interested in those stories today. Instead I'm going to share a few news headlines which have made me smile. Don't expect to feel all warm and fuzzy inside after casting your meat pies (eyes) over this sorry collection. If you are a seeker of wisdom then I beseech you to close down your browser, NOW and go and delve elsewhere. For here lurks madness which appeals only to those endowed with a twisted, nay sick, sense of humour. And if you are kind I might even be tempted to throw in, gratis, a few hot flamenco gypsy dancers. Hola!

Whether it is a well placed typo, a weird statement or sentiment, or a phrase which  simply defies belief, I now place them before you like a ferret dropping a well chewed Kiwi.

Read on and weep

Yes, that is a woman: A face that would worry rats
A face that launched a thousand binges. I suspect, at some time or other, we have all been tempted to 'freshen' up the black bean beef. And let's be honest who would notice the difference?

Who said pasties are not 'hot and sexy'
This one reminds me of the classic scene in 'American Pie'. The poor bugger in this story should have waited a while before putting his twinkle in the hot meaty goodness (silly sod). Luckily for future generations, this moron has voluntarily decided not to have kids. And for that we thank him.

Too clever
This is funny and clever. For god's sake give this journo a  pay rise, he or she deserves it.

"Who's a pretty boy, then?"
Poor Tommy is no longer with us, he is no more, bereft of life and joined the choir invisible. He is an ex-budgie. I'm hoping they put the intrepid Inspector 'Kipper' of the Yard on the case. Can't be having unsolved suspicious budgie deaths now can we? Spoiler alter: Twas the cat.

One word-Magic mushroom
Here we leave reality as we know it and enter a parallel universe fuelled by psychedelic drugs. Actually this one reminds me of the 70s, if only I could remember the 70s........

Not an easy word to spell
O the irony. I can sympathise as I'm not the best spella in the world. That said, with the ubiquitous spell chucker, there is no excuse.

Naughty ferret
My personal favourite. I've owned ferrets (no shit, you say) and I'm at a total loss how anyone can confuse a dog with a ferret regardless of anabolic steroid misuse. Just goes to show how gullible and stupid some folk are. 

Why would you think this is a good idea?
I suppose as long as you insert 'going with the nap' it shouldn't be too much of a problem, that is until you want to remove the poor hedgehog.

No comment
That looks like a very contented dog.

I do see the resemblance

Got it all: dwarf, sex, badgers and syndicated chef. Isn't life great?

Enough to put me off my vindaloo
For once I'm lost for words. I'm off to lie down and take my medication.

As promised

                                                                     Bloody gypos

Thursday 24 November 2016

Nature vs Nurture

You don’t have to be a genius to realise that women tend to live longer than men. When I visit my mother in the ‘Old Folk’s Home’ it is clear that the old ladies outnumber the old fellas by a heavy margin. It is not too far from the mark to describe the home as a ‘Granny Farm’. And to be fair there is the air of vegetation amongst some of the poor inmates, er, clients. A wise man once said: “Old age is a shipwreck”. Not only is old age a shipwreck, some of the wrecks have accumulated a heavy crust of barnacles and the anchor has long since drifted away…….
So why do women, as a group, outlive men? Do men take part in riskier pursuits? Does testosterone drive us to violence? Are we more stressed? Maybe we take less care of ourselves and eat and drink less healthily than women? Are men exposed to hazardous work environments? Could it be that when we become ill we are less likely to visit a health professional? I can certainly relate to this last piece of folk wisdom, or as I like to call it: “First sign of death I’m off to the doctor”.
I think there is an element of truth in all of the above and perhaps combined they help to explain the observed discrepancy to some small degree. Also noted is that males are more prone to cancer overall, than females. And this being the case and accepting that cancer is relatively common, especially amongst the aged, it may go a long way to explain life span differences between the sexes. Many factors affect predisposition to cancer and environmental factors as mentioned previously may have their role to play. Certainly stress, testosterone and unhealthy living contribute to cancer predisposition although not as great as you might expect. Certainly not as great as finger wagging, lifestyle controlling politicians and doctors would like you to think: but that is another story, for another time.
Cancer is essentially a genetic disease and I’ve always suspected that the difference in cancer rates between the sexes may come down to genetic differences, but to date I hadn't seen any hard scientific data to back up my suspicion. Speculate no more! Researchers publishing in the prestigious, Nature Genetics, found that females have an extra copy of a gene which confers a degree of protection from cancer. The gene represents another line of defence against cells growing uncontrollably. Tis no surprise that this gene is carried on the X chromosome. Males only have one copy of the X chromosome while females have a luxurious, two. The gene in question is called a 'tumour suppresser'. If a mutation occurs which destroys its function then the affected cell is not necessarily cancerous but becomes predisposed. Generally, further mutations in other tumour suppresser genes are required to provoke the cell to become cancerous. Because women have two copies of the gene, both copies need to 'knocked out' to achieve the same mutational state of the male counterpart with one copy.
Researchers estimate that this gene may be responsible for 80% of the bias in certain cancers. Overall males carry a 20% excess of cancer burden in comparison to females. So once again an important trait in humans is mainly down to genetics and only marginally influenced by how we live our lives.
The debate concerning the extent environment and genetics differentially influence our make up as humans has become contentious; bitter and understandably carries political overtones. For instance, there is very strong evidence that our innate intelligence is mostly determined by genetics and the influence of environmental factors is marginal. Wise politicians and educators stay quiet on the issue. Scientists who talk openly about the issue are shouted down and branded as fascists. Just because society, or some aspects of it at least, do not like the findings of objective scientific endeavour doesn't mean it is not true. Science, or good science, should be indifferent to whether it is in accord with prevailing mores or political correctness. Anyone is free to disregard what they like and on whatever grounds, but let us hope Anyone never becomes a scientist.    

Saturday 19 November 2016

Harden up

The world is a tough place and let us not diminish it's impact. That said, sensible folk navigate life's minefield with care. The foolish man runs amok and suffers accordingly. The wise and prudent man treads carefully as if in a burning building.

Friday 18 November 2016

Tipton Secondary Modern c1972

It was a shit school- but burnt well

I was rummaging through some old documents the other day when I found this newspaper clipping betwixt the pages of an old book, entitled: 'The Art of the Incendiary'. The news article concerned the tragic conflagration which engulfed my Alma Mater the day after I graduated.

The police came knocking on my door a few days later with all sorts of questions. And of course I had an alibi. On the morn of the fire I was in the company of fellow ex Tipton school pupil, Sally Ault. As I distinctly recall we were involved in extra curricula activities in my unkempt bedroom. Sally's testimony, bless her heart, was unshakable and remarkably consistent. 

The evidence against me was circumstantial at best. And just because I'd had my shoulder length blond locks sheared on the afternoon of the incident proved nothing. The Inspector was unrelenting in his questioning and hung in there like a ferret clinging to a rabbit's neck. Confess, confess! Tis true the suspicious youth seen hanging about at the time matched my description exactly, as several witnesses were willing to attest, but I'm a great believer in doppelgangers and parallel universes and such. Wisely the witnesses had an epiphany and recanted. On second thoughts the youth's hair looked more mousy brown than golden hued. This ruled me out in a thrice. No way it could be me as I had just washed my golden locks which bedazzled in the sun and bathed the scene in an ethereal glow as if a cleansing H bomb had gone off in Tipton High Street. Here is a gratuitous tip: never use cheap shampoo or conditioner- false economy and I should know. Have I digressed? Anyway, without witnesses or a confession the poor Inspector was bereft of a conviction. No court in the land would have convicted on the evidence to hand and rightly so. It is better for ten guilty men to go free than one innocent man to be unjustly convicted. Isn't our justice system wonderful? The arsonistically (not a real word) inclined miscreant was never caught and probably lurks unrepentant within our very midst waiting for an opportunity to assuage a hunger which never abates.     

Is there a statute of limitation on this sort of thing? I suspect after 44 years it would be very difficult to identify the perpetrator and gain a conviction. Best to let it go then, eh Inspector?

Sally on the day of our graduation- I wonder what she is doing now?

Thursday 17 November 2016

Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth......

There is a precedent for this sort of thing, ya know
Tis been a rough week for many parts of New Zealand. First the earthquakes quickly followed by widespread flooding. For all her beguiling beauty, Nature is an unpredictable and vicious bitch. But according to the self-styled Bishop Tamaki of the ‘Destiny Church’, New Zealand, the current mayhem represents the wrath of god directed against the sinner. Specifically, the ‘Old Testament’ deity, Yahweh, is punishing the good folk of New Zealand for the heinous sin of homosexuality. Considering that most folk hereabouts are heterosexual it seems a little unfair and downright indiscriminate. But the warrior storm god of the Jews has always been a grouchy, testy sort of deity, prone to much smiting on the slightest provocation. Remember what happened to the Tiptonites?
Arse big sore arse. Arse.

'O woe to the Tiptonites’! 

As soon as the ‘Plague of Ferrets’ becomes manifest I’m buggering off to Australia.
Not as far fetched as you might think

Monday 14 November 2016

Did the earth move for you?

I see no ships
There is much I love about New Zealand: a place of great natural beauty and contrast. In the winterless north the climate is sub-tropical while in the far south the weather is akin to that found in Scotland and lush bush land gives way to majestic mountain peaks. I love the gentle nature of the society. While it is true that all of societies’ ills can be found here, they do not occur to the same extent as beset the UK, Europe and the USA and inexplicably the economy is thriving. I love New Zealand’s isolation. The hurly-burly of the world’s political maelstrom passes us by as we bask in the South Pacific unmolested by quarrels petty and profound. New Zealand is quaintly insular. The media is highly egocentric and almost oblivious to major world events. NZ rugby is king and dominates the newspapers to a farcical degree. The Kiwis are friendly, without guile and wonderfully frank. My dry expressionless humour is often misinterpreted. The other day at a health and safety meeting I made the suggestion that staff should be issued with Tasers in the remote possibility of violence in the workplace. I even suggested a YouTube video describing how to make one from an electric fly swatter. The room went very quiet until the Chairperson chimed in: “I was thinking along the lines of psychological techniques to defuse potentially dangerous confrontations”. No one picked up that I was just joking and I didn’t have the heart to disabuse the good folk attending the meeting, although I did receive a couple of odd looks.
For all the positives and advantages of living in this wonderful country there is a downside. New Zealand sits fair and square on multiple seismic fault lines. At midnight last night a 7.5 magnitude earthquake rocked large swathes of the South and North islands. I awoke to violent shaking that seemed to go on forever. Vases crashed and the house groaned. I went out onto the deck (probably not wise) and felt the piles under the house sway side to side. After, what seemed an eternity, the shaking stopped. All through the night we experienced major aftershocks. There has been significant damage to parts of the country and as I write two people have been killed, this is likely to increase as the emergency services scour remote areas. My home city has suffered damage especially around the dock area. The Cook strait ferries remain anchored forlornly in the bay unable to enter port until significant structural repairs are made.  
Tsunami warnings have been issued for much of the east coast on both islands however, at this time it is unlikely that there will be a significant surge.
Tis wearing on the nerves especially as aftershocks continue to occur at an alarming rate throughout the day. It appears that this quake was as large as the one that devastated Napier in 1931 however, lucky for us the epicentre occurred in a sparsely populated region. Still, the damage is major and likely to run into billions of dollars. As this follows not long after the Christchurch quake it is bound to put a severe strain on the NZ economy.
And so life goes on. Hopefully no more 'biggies' for a while as every tremor adds another streak of silver to my crown of spun gold............

Friday 11 November 2016

On the 11th Hour, of the 11th Day, of the 11th Month...

On Flander's Field
On Armistice Day I've chosen two poems for my blog. One was written in 1914, the other sometime late 1917, or early 1918. The contrast couldn't be more pronounced. 'The Soldier' was written at the beginning of the war in 1914, while .'Dulce et Decorum Est' toward the end. If Rupert Brooke's poem represents the romanticism of war as typically portrayed in the 19th century, Owen's masterpiece is thoroughly modern: mankind stripped threadbare in the 20th. 

Both poems exude courage, but not of the same kind. Brooke should be read in a genteel drawing room amidst applause from modest, silly young women, in bustles. Owen is best read alone in a darkened garret by old men who have seen too much of life. Tis best to be alone if you are going to shed a single, silent tear. If 'The Soldier' is uplifting in a superficial emotional kind of way, 'Dulce et Decorum Est' cools martial ardour. The first poem is uplifting to the soldier going to war, the second should never be heard, but whispered to Statesmen who contemplate war.  

It is salutary to note that both these brave young men lost their lives in this terrible, modern defining, conflict. I often wonder how Brooke's poetry would have evolved if he hadn't died in 1915? Imponderables can make men mad- sensible men are content with this reality (not really).

Read and weep, but in the right company

The Soldier

IF I should die, think only this of me:
    That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
    In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
    Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
    Washed by the rivers, blest by the suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
    A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
        Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
    And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
        In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Rupert Brooke

  Dulce et Decorum Est 

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime ...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under I green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie:
Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen

Thursday 10 November 2016

Here Be Giants

Nothing to see here.....
A colleague forwarded a You Tube video to me the other day as she is well aware of my fondness for the bizarre and weird. I've imbedded the video, entitled: 'Why is the government hiding living giants on earth in 2016?', at the end of my rant. If you can't face watching the 15 minutes of utter drivel, read this: A long time ago, fallen Angels mated with women and produced giants with superpowers, both physical and mental. These giants are still with us today and are hell bent on destroying the human race. Actually this is mentioned in the bible but no one except bible literalists and backwoodsmen from Arkansas take this sort of thing seriously. Sophisticated Christians and theologians are happy to accept the relevant passages, and similar, as story telling, allegory and therefore not be accepted as literal truth, unless you are stark raving mad (wibble bottom).

Large Men in Black Suits

Enter the CIA, stage left. Nefarious government agencies want access, or have already gained access, to giant DNA in order to manufacture ‘super soldiers’ or ‘Uber Men’. People who investigate too closely have been threatened and/or have accidently plunged down disused mine shafts.The narrator, Steve Quayle, reckons he has spent the last 40 years of his life investigating this most disturbing and perplexing phenomenon and believes people should be told and prepared before it is too late. How we, the people, can be fully prepared to fight off a division of 20 foot, super soldiers, he doesn’t say. I have a problem getting out of bed in the morning and the thought of confronting a giant in combat gear is likely to encourage me to stay in bed a little longer. Don’t we have Batman, Wolverine and the Hulk to save us from hybrid giant mutants? I’m starting to digress.   

Blood and Fluids

Predictably, Mr Mugumbo, sorry Quayle, offers no corroborative evidence whatsoever. Not a jot. No images or independent testimony. Nowt. However, he did intersperse his video with the usual stock scenes of scientific endeavour; coloured fluids flowing through tubes and blood being squirted into tubes. At the end he finishes with a barely relevant quote from arguably the greatest intellect who has ever lived, Sir Isaac Newton. And here it is:

"About the time of the end, a body of men will be raised up who we turn their attention to the Prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation, in the midst of much clamour and opposition"

Newton, for all his scientific rationalism and sagacity was a bible literalist, an alchemist and a firm believer in magic. All this is understandable considering the scientific and religious milieu of his time. You can read more about Newton's preoccupation with the esoteric, here.

What happened to the scientific revolution and adherence to good evidence?

Unsupported hints, drama and unwarranted speculation. Mr Quayle places great store in the rumours of cannibalism in the Solomon Islands during the Second World War. He asserts, with no justification whatsoever, that both American and Japanese troops (Japanese snipers perhaps?) were eaten by giants during the island campaign. Even if cannibalism did occur at this time, is it not more likely that the acts were performed by the Solomon Islanders themselves? This appears to be a more plausible explanation considering the native's proclivity for consuming human flesh, especially brains. Occam's razor anyone?

Who needs evidence when you have giants?

Nowhere during the video is there any concrete evidence proposed for the existence of giants currently roaming the earth. Innuendo and hearsay- nothing that would stand up in a court of law.

There is no God

For amusement, but not edification, I visited a site which is considered 'Pro-giant'. Dutifully I entered the poll concerning a belief in giants. Ninety % of respondents believed in said monsters. Not particularly surprising/inspiring considering the declared nature of the site. Then again, 12 million of the American public believe that their country is being ruled by lizard people and 41 million are of the opinion that Barak Obama is the Antichrist, go figure?

Story needs zombies (and hot gypos)

This video has almost got it all: government conspiracy at the highest level; hidden mythical creatures ready to pounce; biblical prophecy akimbo; tubes and cannibalism. All it needs, for completion, is a few hot gypsies  jelly wrestling. On second thoughts I might just be adding my own preference with regard to the jelly wresting (don't knock it until you've tried it).

Therefore, in conclusion, this video panders to humankind's atavistic needs and satisfies the vulnerable and emotional susceptibilities of the usual suspects: the terminally hard of thinking, ill-educated morass of blinkered idiots and fools. Gullible folk without a critical thought in their head, who are willing to accept the most preposterous assertions without hard data.   

Frankly, I live in hope and despair for mankind in equal proportion.


And another thing. Why isn’t jelly wrestling an Olympic sport, yet?


Sunday 6 November 2016

Gravity II

A concerned reader writes: "Dear Flaxen, I confess I'm  a little worried about your mental state. Your writings lately seem even more bizarre than usual and what is this pre-occupation with Japanese snipers all about? Surely there hasn't been any Japanese snipers hereabouts for over 70 years."   

FS: "Thank you for your heartfelt concern. I assure you I am quite sane. My psychiatrist, Prof. Mugumbo, reckons I'm toward the extreme end of the 'normality' spectrum, so there are no grounds for your concern. I'm not expected to descend into the black pit of insanity any time soon. 

As for the obsession with  Japanese snipers: Aren't we all just a little afraid of Japanese snipers? Isn't there a Japanese sniper nestling deep in all of our psyches, dwelling in dark hardly fathomable places within?" 

Just to show how sensible and sane I've become I've decided to write a very, very, sensible post about gravity.

I wrote a piece over a year ago about the mysterious force of gravity. You can check it out here. Newton in the 17th century was able to describe this mysterious force very well but had no idea what it actually was and how it could operate at a distance. Gravity is the weakest of all the physical forces and is dependant on mass. Simply said, the greater the mass, the greater the force. A force which decreases between two objects according to the inverse square law.

The great insight of Einstein was to realise that gravity is not a force as such but the consequence of mass distorting space/time. Space is an actual physical entity which can be warped and bent by mass. The greater the mass, the greater the distortion. In this regard gravity represents an artefact of matter-how weird is that?

Einstein predicted that mass should initiate gravitational waves propagated at the speed of light and ever since physicists have been trying unsuccessfully, until now, to detect these elusive phantoms of the universe. The problem is that gravitational waves, or ripples in the fabric of space time, are hard to detect. Only catastrophic stellar events are expected to produce waves within our modest capability of detection. Thus, massive twin black holes orbiting each other, or other prodigious events, are required to produce ripples in space-time large enough to be picked up on earth.

Enter the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravity Observatory) programme in the US. This ambitious programme was designed to detect gossamer, ephemeral, gravity waves. In principle the concept is simple. Shoot light down a 4 km vacuum tunnel and bounce the light off mirrors thus increasing the distance the light has to travel. Before the journey the light is split into two rays and off they set in different directions through the labyrinth. Ultimately the separated light beams are reunited at a detector. If the beams arrive back at the detector at exactly the same time, then paradoxically, there is nothing to detect as the merging light rays cancel each other out. I don't have space to introduce the concept of electromagnetic wave interference here. However, there are some great resources on the web and a quick Google search will satisfy your curiosity for intellectual enlightenment.

According to LIGO researchers, they managed to detect the union of two black holes 1.3 billion years ago. The gravitational waves engendered meandered at the sedate pedestrian speed of 186,000 miles per second and became manifest at earth to impinge on LIGO's light rays as they pulsed through their 4km plus sprint. This incredibly faint ghost of the event was picked up by LIGO's detectors in September last year. You bet someone(s) is going to reap a Nobel prize for this and deservedly so for detecting a change a thousand times smaller than the width of a proton. The tiny ripple in space time interferes with the light beams and when they are reunited they are no longer in perfect phase. This phase interference can be detected and measured. In fact there are two detectors, one in Louisiana, the other in Washington. For a result to be considered significant, simultaneous detection of the gravitational wave is required by both instruments. 

So what does this mean for the future direction of cosmological research? To date, all that we know about the universe is down to the detection of electromagnetic radiation of varying wavelengths. The ability to detect gravitational waves opens up a whole new vista of research and will allow clever physicists to explore the nature and fabric of the universe in ways novel and diverse. I will endeavour to inform as the story develops.

Isn't science just fucking wonderful?  

Ripples in space and time
Ya see? If I was stark raving bonkers mad I wouldn't be able to pen such a serious blog article, now would I? soapy tit wank. 

Friday 4 November 2016

Flaxen Saxon’s: ‘Cooking Asian Extravaganza ’

Where's the two veg?

Cuisine on a budgie
As my gentle readers have no doubt guessed, I’m a cosmopolitan, urbane and sophisticated type of fellow. I have eaten in MacDonald’s and KFC outlets throughout the known world. Therefore, I am more than qualified to comment on filthy, dirty, foreign food. For today’s culinary edification and gastronomic bypass, I’m going to consider food from the arse end of the world- Asia (Arse).
Read and Weep or Bon Appetit depending on perspective?

Vietnamese Cuisine, or cooking with napalm:
There is a certain skill involved with napalm cooking. Leave the meat one second too long and it is transformed from lightly charred to charcoal. The advantage of this cuisine is that you don’t have to kill the animal beforehand, thus zero preparation. This suits the lazy cook or the too busy on the go sort of individual. And let’s be honest we all lead hectic lives, these days. Scurrying about, going hither and thither like demented ferrets on acid.
I recommend using a projectile flamethrower type device for ‘basting’ the animal to perfection. Simply cover with a two second blast of seasoned napalm. For the best results I suggest just a pinch of rosemary. Please don’t use garlic; it detracts from the piquancy of this delicate dish. Allow the animal to run round screaming until it sticks to the nearest tree and then peel the meat off in hearty succulent chunks. Serve with rocket and shallots. A perfect meal for a picnic or for on the run/amok mom. Guaranteed to linger on the palate, long time.
Korean Food:
The Koreans are noted for their versatility when contemplating ingredients. Although to be fair, the main ingredient is usually dog. All breeds are suitable however, the younger the better. Dogs over a year old require prior steaming for at least two hours.
Bichon Fries:
Today I’m going to consider the ever popular dish, ‘Ten Minute Noodle Poodle’. First, obtain a litter of poodles. Your local dog pound should be able to access fresh specimens on demand. Choose wisely. The friendly puppy in the litter; the one who wags his/her tail and enjoys a pat is more likely to be compliantly and complacently tasty- yum.
Simply simmer for a good 10 minutes. This is sufficient to allow the effective removal of the pelt. Serve on a bed of noodles and spray with a little extra virgin olive oil for glazed, poodle noodle. Exquisite!
Chinese Food-Cake of Nanking
Simply take one Chinese town, rape lightly over a Japanese bayonet and place the heads in neat trite piles. Set alight to infuse with rich smoky flavours. Allow 70 years and pray for forgiveness. [Steady Flaxen, you are starting to stray from the path of culinary delights and into the realm of the surreal politics- Desist or I’ll increase the medication, again. Arse].  
Japanese Udon it?
Simply procure one diminutive simpering Japanese sniper. I understand it can be exasperating obtaining good quality Second World War Japanese snipers at this time of year. Ands let's face it who can find the time to traipse off deep into the Burmese jungle looking for a prime specimen. You may have to compromise and obtain the plentiful, but inferior variety, obtained from the quaint town of Dudley as it nestles like a chancre in the dermis of the be-hovelled West Midlands.
Remove the thick pebble glasses- they can be dangerous if ingested. Be careful when cutting out any rhotacisms, otherwise you will be velly solly. Anyway, before I digest, tis best to cook the sniper in its own juices and expose to 1500 roentgens for about an hour. Or those with an old fashioned nuclear weapon, 13 grays. Some advocate the addition of a mushroom plume however, in polite circles, tis considered ostentatious. Add a little Emperor Hirohito's special sauce. Believe me, it's worth it, and will ultimately turn you into a god or war criminal depending on the nuance and vagaries of historical and political expediency. Nuff said.

Al dente

Next week on 'Cooking with a Plum', Flaxen will see if he can offend a new continent, with aplomb.
It might be Antartica, can't say

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Consummate Professional

Welcome to my world

The things I do for the furtherance of science. I have been called upon once again to provide a control sample for a protocol. In the course of developmental and diagnostic genetic testing we often run a control in parallel with the patient’s sample. Fairly normal procedure and as most of our work is performed on blood samples this is not a particularly onerous task. However, in this instance the patient sample under consideration happens to be semen. All other males in the department have had their tubes tied off to prevent the production of further issue. I have not exercised such/much foresight. Therefore, the responsibility for the provision of a control sample has once again descended to rest firmly on my lithe, sinewy, slightly oiled body. To my shame and eternal damnation I did consider asking my student to provide (sorry Matt). But let’s be honest that’s not particularly fair. At least I get paid for my faltering, spluttering effort.

Tis not easy to produce a sample on demand in the clinical setting especially as there is nowhere set aside for this sort of thing. At least Fertility Clinics have a dedicated room, grandly titled: 'The Mastabatorium’. The dreaded deed has to be performed in the not too salubrious male toilet stuck in the middle of a busy corridor - not very conducive to semen production and any groans elicited need to be suppressed with gusto. At least the managers have removed the security cameras. I would hate to have my performance paraded on YouTube. You may think there is not much call for my bathroom shenanigans and feeble/febrile flailing, but you should never underestimate the power of the niche market. Anyway, I’m starting to digress. The point being: It is hard (pun intended) to perform under these circumstances. I did suggest that one of the young nubile research assistants help in this regard. Sadly no volunteers came forward, except one. The elderly tea lady offered her services, but I gratefully declined. I explained that her rotund form would not fit within the capacious male cubicle. I also pointed out that her chronic wheezing might attract unwanted attention from random folk passing by on legitimate business. Thankfully, she concurred. Luckily internet porn is easy accessed on my shiny IPhone. Not perfect to be sure, but it gets the job done, eventually

I’m hoping that this new test does not become too popular as I'm not getting any younger.

Miss Mugumbo, the tea lady. Know my pain