Dude someone cold tried to break into my car

Luckily Audi door technology was more than a match for the burglarious wazzocks, and they managed only to break off and jam a metal sliver in each lock, rendering the car un-openable even by its legitimate owner (me). With a bit of jiggling of Leatherman screwdriver and pliers I managed to un-jam the passenger side so I could at least, you know, drive the car.

I dare say they were after the satnav, which I am not dumb enough to leave in the car, although I am dumb enough to leave the mount attached to the windscreen, as if to say ‘Please fruitlessly damage my car doors in a vain attempt to defeat the electronically-coded central locking with a nail file’. What is particularly cheeky is that they did it in the little car park at the back, in full view of my living room and overlooked by five other flats and innumerable houses and people walking past.

I do not have a girlfriend so that car is basically all I have emotionally right now.

I am damn unsatisfied to be killed in this way

I have had a nice relaxing day chomping bacon, reading Hikaru No Go and listening to Julian Gray & Ronald Pearl’s Baroque Inventions. In between times I am also reading Richard Fortey’s The Earth: An Intimate History, and plotting the delicious curry I will be making later.

So it is a good day all around really. Also, more songs from the Archway Guitar Quartet:

Liberals under the bed!

I think this is brilliant. This really is a genuine book, not something made up to discredit American conservatives, like a sort of inverted Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The best thing though is the Amazon review which says:

I loved this book! Not quite as good as the last book, “Help, Mom, There Are Jews in the Attic!”, but still a great jump-start program for getting the youth involved in the party. Can’t wait to read the forthcoming “Daddy, Come Quick, There Are Coons in the Garage!”

I do not know much about American politics, but I can’t help thinking it is a bad sign when the word ‘liberal’ has become an insult.

Feveral ufeful Inftruments and Contrivances

I just got through reading London’s Leonardo: The Life and Work of Robert Hooke. It is not very good, but Hooke is so interesting that it doesn’t really matter. Scientist, engineer, inventor, astronomer, horologist, architect, city planner, natural philosopher, professor, hypochondriac, surveyor, diarist, the comparisons with Leonardo are not idle. It is strange that he is so little known, but like Leonardo, he was interested in everything and tended to flit from one subject to the next without actually finishing things. I am the same myself (I am not saying that I’m a genius: that is for others to say. I’m just better at starting things than I am at finishing them).

One nice bit in the book is Hooke’s to-do list for October 1663, which I think underlines the point:

  • Prepare a paper on what should be observed and recorded for a history of weather
  • Make and demonstrate a hygroscope from the beard of a wild oat, with an index
  • Prepare two thermometers invented by Christopher Wren, one of tin, the other of glass
  • Make an artificial eye
  • Arrange for a suitable concave glass to be made and use it for projecting a picture in a lighted room
  • Cut out a piece of dog’s skin and stitch it together again to see if it will grow
  • Take lodgings in Gresham College and supervise the operator in making a new air-pump and a machine for measuring the force of gunpowder
  • Show microscopical observations of a common fly and of moss growing on a brick
  • Take care of the [Royal] Society’s repository in the west gallery of Gresham College and place a label on each object so people can know what it is and its provenance
  • Get ready to demonstrate to the King [Hooke’s] new device for taking soundings at sea without using a line
  • Graft feathers onto a cock’s comb

I love that. Insanely ambitious doesn’t even begin to cover it! Of course he invented and built many extraordinary things and is justly famous for his Micrographia full of astoundingly detailed engravings of insects and plants and minerals under the microscope, and discovered Hooke’s Law, and designed telescopes and barometers and watches and astrolabes and sextants and air-pumps and hygrometers and magnetometers and gravimeters and cider presses and calculators and windmills and, bizarrely, a ‘whale-shooting engine’, but you have to laugh at the sheer intellectual exuberance and chutzpah demonstrated by a list like that. I think we would have got on.

Now I am reading David Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals, which is really intresting and not a dusty old book of phillersophy like you thought. It is like one of those great drunken conversations about life that you have when you get back from the pub, only Hume was probably not eating a kebab at the time.

I think it would have been great to go down the pub with Hooke and Hume for a pint of Leffe and some nuts, and intellergent conversation. I need to invent a time machine as many of the people that I really want to talk to are rarther inconsiderately dead.

Chicken Finchley

This is a delicious recipe that I invented really late last night when I was drunk.

You will need:

  • Chicken pieces (breast or thigh is good for this)
  • Vegertable soup or similar
  • Pasta
  • Garlic, pepper, salt, thyme, rosemary, olive oil

How to make

  1. Smash up the thyme, rosemary, pepper ekcetera (if you are a cookery genius like me you will have a pestle and mortar handy)
  2. Brush the chicken pieces with olive oil and roll in the smashed herbs
  3. Pop them under a hot grill and meanwhile put on the pasta to cook
  4. When the pasta is done, drain and toss with a little olive oil, and add the soup and garlic, cover and simmer on a low heat.
  5. When the chicken is done (poke a knife into it and see if the juice runs clear) shred it into lovely bite size pieces, and stir into the vegertable goo.
  6. Serve with a chilled LAGER or similar.

This is a great recipe when all you have is some sad looking chicken and some things in tins, and you are drunk.

Actual food may not match picture. Or be as nice.

Bird feeder excitemint

I have got a bird feeder! I went up to the Welsh Harp reservoir to fly my kites today and popped into the super garden centre they have there, with a little cafe and everything. They have got a massive bird care section, with every type of feeder and bird bath and computerised electronic jet-wash where you put 10p in the slot and huge soapy rollers come out and scrub the bird clean from top to bottom, and then give it a coat of wax. Actually no that last bit was a dream.

Anyway I got a little bird feeder that sticks on to your window with suckers, because I do not have a garden sadly. So now I am sitting waiting for some birds to come and investergate the food that I have put in it. There is a choice of chef’s specials including a mix of exotic seeds, and some lovely fat out of the grill. If there was a bird Michelin guide my establishment ought to have at least three crossed knives and forks. Anyway I am trying not to get too excited because apparently it can take up to a month for any birds to notice that you have a feeder there.

I had another super walk along the brook the other day and noticed some pretty amazing birds! They are Mandarins. They are quite rare I think as there are only about 1,000 pairs in Britain. It is also a symbol of happiness in China where it comes from. So that has cheered me up!

It was a nice day at the reservoir flying kites, except unfortunately I managed to break a leading-edge spar on my Matrix. Carbon fibre is terrific stuff, until it breaks into about a million little sharp pieces, luckily it did not poke a hole in the sail, but I nearly got a big splinter of it stuck in my finger. So now I need a handy source for Skyshark Competition Airframe 5P which ideally would not cost any money.

I brought my fighter kites as well but it was really a bit too windy for paper kites, so I flew my brilliant little MAC ripstop fighter which is very fast and twitchy like a racing motorcycle, except it can survive being piled into the ground at high speed unlike a motorcycle. Hurray for the return of kite flying season!

On the way back I sat by the lake bathed in golden evening sunlight and watching various coots, ducks, geese and swans ekcetera. There was an Indian family there with possibly the two cutest little girls ever, who were very excited about the birds, and one little girl was totally amazed by the swan and kept trying to reach towards it and touch it. She was pretty much in love with the swan! I thought that was brilliant. I love it when kids get excited about things because they have never seen whatever it is before so they are not bored and jaded like most grown ups.

In conclusion then, it is a wizzo world.

Animals

A cheeky robin. It is not the one that lives at Henrietta’s Pond, whom I call Reginald, but a little way further along the brook. I do not know how big a robin’s territory is so it might be Reginald’s next door neighbour. I will call him Richard.

This is Henrietta the Pekin duck who is the undisputed boss of the pond. You can see her cruising majestically around with various of her subjects tagging along in her wake, and she often hangs about (as here) with Martin, the mallard drake. I do not know what his wife Martina thinks about it, but she is probably too scared to take on Henrietta, who is quite aggressive and once tried to eat my shoes.

Generally if a squirrel realises it’s been spotted it will freeze quite still and hope that you don’t notice it. This one is doing a semi-convincing impersonation of a twig.

One of the pair of Canada geese who have just returned from winter holidays. They are big, big birds, you have to get up close to them to realise. I was trying to take some photos of the coots and moorhens, and the geese kept coming up and menacing me for food. Everyone has heard the saying that a swan could break your arm; I think one of these could give you a nasty Chinese burn if it had a mind to.

Blue tits are very pretty, and it is great to see them flitting and fluttering from branch to branch in the golden spring sunshine. Their song seems curiously inappropriate though, as it sounds like Butt-Head laughing.

Plants

Forsythia

Cherry

Magnolia buds

Horse chestnut. The teardrop explodes!

Not sure about this pretty shrub, I think it is a Photinia, probably P. glabra.

Welcome to Jazz Club

Here are some bits and pieces that we recorded last night in Matt’s living room. It is the Archway Guitar Quartet’s debut release! I hope you like it.

Samosas

This is how I make them anyway.

You will need:

  • Samosa pastry (ask at your local wizzo Indian grocers or they might have frozen spring roll pastry at the supermarket, it is the same stuff basically. Ideally, go to ‘Goodeats’ in Long Lane, Finchley, where the man is really friendly and has loads of delicious Indian snacks and ingrediments. I am not affiliated with him though except that I like his shop, and enjoy eating its contents.)
  • Potatoes
  • Chick peas
  • Regular peas
  • Some meat if you like it
  • Optional sweetcorn
  • Green chillis
  • Seasoning: you can use whatever you have, I like to crush up some cumin and coriander seeds, and then add some fresh coriander, which I always have in massive bunches around the kitchen, because it is delicious. Lots of chilli powder if you like your samosas spicy.

How to make:

  • Boil the potatoes
  • While they are boiling, cook the vegetables and/or meat.
  • Defrost the samosa pastry but do not let it dry out too much, keep it in the wrapper or wrap it in a damp teatowel. If it dries all the sheets stick together and then it is a pain to separate them.
  • Mash the potatoes and drain the veg and bosh everything together in a big pan with the seasoning.
  • Add enough water to give it a nice mushy clumpy consistency, not too wet, not too dry.
  • In a wok or big frying pan, heat enough oil for deep-frying.
  • Take a strip of pastry and put a spoonful of goo at one end and then roll the other end around it in a roughly triangular sort of shape. Brush the loose end of the pastry with water and press to seal it.
  • When you have made enough samosas, pop them into the oil three or four at a time and fry until crispy and golden. The oil must be nice and hot as otherwise the samosas will just disintegrate into limp, sad little parcels. Let it heat up again for a few minutes in between each batch.
  • Dry on kitchen paper.
  • Using a hand or other instrument, put each samosa into the large hole in the front of your face and chomp thoroughly until eaten. Wash down with LAGER or other cold, fizzy beer.

Samosas are great because it is like a little curry pack lunch. They are also delicious cold, if not more so. The nice thing is you can make the goo and keep it in the fridge and make a fresh little batch of samosas whenever you want them, or if a tall handsome curry-loving man comes round to visit, such as me.