While I am here, your Majesty, or Brenda, if I may, I do feel we have a lot in common, since neither of us is elected...
Helena married Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein
Louise married John Campbell, Duke of Argyll, Marquis of Lorne
Arthur married Duchess Louise Margaret of Prussia
Leopold married Princess Helena Frederica of Waldeck and Pyrmont
Beatrice married Prince Henry of Battenberg.
So Victoria set up her own Circus, running her network of agents across Europe. “Queen Victoria selected the most intelligent member of each European royal family, and ‘on any question . . . she obtained an opinion’.”* Her daily correspondence was mammoth. She had been instructed in surveillance techniques by Uncle Leopold, and was adept at reading and resealing letters and sending misinformation to foreign powers through her Circus.
her eldest daughter Vicky, married to the German crown prince. Vicky sent crates of sensitive documents to England from the Prussian court, and wrote to her mother in cypher to foil Bismarck’s counterintelligence efforts. After the Second World War, Anthony Blunt visited her ancestral home in Germany and smuggled Vicky’s personal papers back to Windsor. Blunt, surveyor of the King's pictures (are these jobs ever advertised? I could look at pictures), was a self-confessed KGB agent, pretty familiar with the dark arts, and clearly an excellent choice for wrangling sensitive documents.
George VI asked Special Branch to vet his potential son-in-law, because his family had Nazi connections. The Queen Mother allegedly referred to Philip as "the Hun". MI5 reported that his rooms were messy, his language “coarse” and that he enjoyed late-night drinking. Princess Diana and her butler, Paul Burrell, searched her residence for surveillance devices, the two of them rolling up carpets and taking down mirrors. All this and more is revealed in
*Victoria's second, morganatic (and hotly denied) marriage to John Brown, foul-mouthed, heavy drinking Highland commoner, allegedly resulted in an unspecified number, but no more than three, unacknowledged children, brought up in America or Paris or both, depending on the rumour.
More accustomed, previously, to the M42, I love it.
It is my own Route 66, my own Highway 61,
Badlands of Caithness
Sure, by Tummel and Loch Rannoch
And Lochaber I will go,
By heather tracks wi' heaven in their wiles;
If it's thinkin' in your inner heart
Braggart's in my step,
You've never smelt the tangle o' the Isles.
It was just a couple of years back, I discovered that not only were Tummel and Loch Rannoch and Lochaber real places but that quite as a result of an accidental departure from the A9 I was actually standing beside Loch Rannoch reading a signpost to Tummel, Lochaber and to the Isles.
|The approach to Loch Rannoch|
|The view from the hotel window|
Here, in the Highlands, in the distant, off-road Wilderness, is the Scotland for which people say they would die; here is the prompting of my own thought that Scotland is the very best part of England.
Make Chip with Stanislav, young Polish Plumber, chef and connoisseur, busy Making Better Life.
National dish of Great Britons, chip, but rubbish is usually. Even esteemed missus of Stanislav old friend and mentor, ishmael smith, is problem with chip. Ishmael come round my gaff, desperate for proper chip. Stanislav, she did it again. Raw inside and black burnt outside.
Why not teach her, Old Friend and Mentor? Here is instruction, as delivered to Scottish Women’s Volunteer Service in chip demonstration in Clackmacfuckery Village Hall.
Go down in garden, find where planted potato, called tatty in Jockbastard language in smart successful Scotland, best part of England, the noo. Locate tattyplant, hiding in weed and maverick turnip. Kick weed aside and pull out tatties. Search vigorously for leaf of dock, as bastard nettle not weed; grind leafs of dock into arms until have green arm, not finger. This is English joke or pune, as green finger is good at gardening, but not nettling. Howling and cursing like bastard, as leaf of dock is horse and cart economy rubbish alternative to proper medicine, prise slugs out of little holes drilled in side of scabbytatties, throw away and go down Tesco to get weedkilled tatties with no additional slimy protein.
In Tesco, many, many, many sort of potatoes are. Best for chip is Maris Piper and Edward King, but most will do, if no slug living inside or if not poison green or if no long wavy white sproutings like octopus arms have.
Stand at sink, peel tatties under running cold water.
Get front of jeans wet, so tell everyone this cold water not piss. Proper bloke not wear pinnie. Better get meat and potatoes frozen and wrinkly with cold water as more manly is. Pinnie is for happy bride and lady boy and jockbastard in kilt. We plumbers is used to torrents of cold water, with soluble but not very, sanitary towels, toilet paper, bits of poo and diced carrot. And sweetcorn.
Use Big, Fuck off knife to cut tatties into slices.
First cut a bit off tattie and place tattie on cut side to stop it rolling like bastard. Cut slices into sensible width of chip. If not expert like stanislav, do not show off knife skills, or deep fry finger ends.
Ratio of surface to chip interior is important. Big fat chip useless as not possible to cook inside and not burn outside. Throw raw chip in running cold water.
Wedding tackle already soaking so no problem. Running cold water remove starch and make crisper chip. Science. Ask Esther Blumenthal. Dry chip in teatowel. Clean, not teatowel of death. Discard wet teatowel and line a roasting tin with fresh dry teatowel. Spread chip to air-dry.
Prepare oil bath. Very Important not use chip pan or chip basket of set-on-fire-burn-down-house. Fire Brigade had Amnesty to hand in chip basket in caring Scotland but is possible chip basket is still hiding in Witness Protection Programme in cupboard under sink. Throw away immediately in special recycling containers for hazardous domestic waste in local dump.
Returning from expedition to highly technical biohazard recycling centre, rummage under sink for Big Saucepan, which is best for chip. One third fill with Rape Seed oil. Do not use Pig Fat to fry chip. Disgusting. Pig religion say Humans is Great Satan. Do not use Extra Virgins Olive Oil as they not get hot enough and give steamy, oily chip. Heat up oil. Not too much. If blue haze form, you is fucked. Throw away start again. Insert trial chip. If rise to surface, with pretty bubbles,
okay to put in more chip. Not too many or steam not fry. When chip blanched, take out with fishandchip slice. Spread in cold roasting pan, single layer. Blanched chip will continue cooking gently in its insides without heat. Blanch second batch as same way. Sprinkle salt over blanched chip to draw out water.
Take oilpan off stove and go and do something else.
When ready to eat, fire up oil bath to hotter than before but not blue haze hot. Add blanched chip, which should bend, not snap. Briskly fry until golden brown.
Remove from oil with chipslice
onto kitchen paper.
Serve on hot plates. Can put mayonnaise on side of plate if from Amsterdam, like in Pulp Fiction, but proper bloke tomato ketchup has and white bread spread with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Petroleum By-Product.
Proper Chip crisply rustle like golden autumn leaf. Not greasy. Not black. Not wet, limp and white. Not Fries To Go. When cold, filter and funnel oil into bottle and store in cool dark place. Do not keep reusing it like UnHappy Haddock or CodULike chippy shop or contract Grumpy Bowel Syndrome.
Anyway, good happy cooking with love from Stanislav.
"Why don't you write a book, my friend said to me, for forty years. There's enough books, don't need any more fucking books, books're the last thing we need more of. The last time he asked, a couple of years back, I wanted to say Well, in a sense, I have, it's called stanislav, a young Polish plumber."
|I stamp on you British. I do, I do (image created by mr verge||)|
mrs ishmael is on holiday for the next two weeks.