Sunday 26 February 2023

The Sunday Ishmael: 26/02/2023

 Check sky for avians, if clear all, go down in garden, keep wary eye  for birds drop from sky, kick bird body aside, remember disinfect boot after, 
look for turnip in weeds, take firm hold and heave, ignore scream as turnip root showers head with claggy old dirt - easy mistook for bird launch nuclear strike on head, driven mad by avian flu, doesn't mean not manly. Repeat until run out of turnips. Stagger into kitchen and dump turnip, dirt, weed and slugs on table and call for Olga, happy bride. 

What's this then? Is table not compost bin.

No, is for eating British Veg to make Britain Great.

You is mad. British don't eat turnip. British eat asparagus from Peru, tomatoes from Spain and push lettuce to side of plate.

Scottisch people eat Turnip.

No, Scottisch people throw rotting Turnip at politicians.

What about NeepsnTatties?
Stopped eat NeepsnTatties after discover freeze-dried Pea and McCain's keep families together Oven Chip.

Is Government edict. Eat More Turnip.
Thérèse Anne Coffey (born 18 November 1971) is a Conservative politician serving as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs since October 2022, after a stint as (yes, I know its hilarious) Secretary of State for Health and Social Care from September to October 2022. This week she used her platform in the House of Commons to exhort the British to eat local seasonal produce. Especially, for some strange reason, turnips.
Apparently wholly unacquainted with  the range of magnificent foods that can be grown in Britain, she opted for turnips. Probably the first thing that sprang to mind.
For our non-UK domiciled Ishmaelites, you may not be aware that shelves in British supermarkets have been empty of fresh fruit and veg for a couple of weeks now. In Orkney, of course, we are used to it, as our supply ferries won't run when there's "adverse weather conditions" - bloody big waves. One winter, the locally-owned Pentland Ferries managed to get a container of fresh food across when the Government-subsidised Northlink ferries couldn't cross the Pentland Firth. The snow was so bad, though, that the container lorry couldn't make it out of St Margaret's Hope and across the Barriers, until an enterprising fairmer towed the container lorry with his tractor into Kirkwall, to the general jubilation of the scurvy Orcadians.
Them spoiled English, though, are just not used to the old empty shelves routine, clearly not accustomed to stocking the freezer and getting some tins in, and they are outraged. Where's our Pak Choi, they caw, our beefsteak tomatoes, our fresh peaches, grapes, peppers, cucumbers and chilies? How do you expect us to keep body and soul together without our out-of-season fruit and veg? And how have you allowed this to happen? the middle class indignantly demand. Not the wuckin' class, obviously, cos they just eat mushy peas, famously mistaken by Peter Mandelson for guacamole (mashed up avocado). The excuses reasons given are - extraordinary weather in Spain, snow in Morocco, and, of course, Brexit - our local farmers can't be bothered to plant veg under industrial-sized polytunnels because they have no European slave labour to harvest it and they can't employ British labour at the minimum wage because the public won't pay the additional costs of producing fruit and veg under humane levels of pay and conditions. For the most part, however, with the occasional dissenting Cassandra, the real reason for the shortages is not given. 

We are at war. 
Into the second year of a major European land war. I seriously think that all those Brits waving blue and yellow flags, sending old jumpers and blankets and the occasional gung-ho son itching to shed blood, had no idea at all that they themselves might be adversely affected by supporting plucky little Ukraine. They don't understand why their electricity and gas prices have gone up, why the cost of living is soaring and their food choices have to be constrained. They will still be completely bemused when the missiles come crashing into our air space.
Given that we are at War, here's a handy recipe from the last major war:

Lord Woolton’s Pie 
During the Second World War (1939 to 1945), Britain depended on vital supplies of food, equipment and raw materials from overseas, notably from North America and the Empire. These goods were transported in thousands of merchant ships, which were vulnerable to attack by German submarines (U-boats). As there were not enough warships to protect thousands of individual merchant ships, they were grouped into convoys with naval escorts, making them difficult to attack.
Merchant shipping was placed under Admiralty control on 26 August 1939, and the first convoy sailed on 2 September. During the course of the War a total of  450 convoy series were run - not much to equip a nation at war. The British population was dependent on the food it could produce itself. Gardens were converted into food growing - but there was always the "Hungry Gap" when the supplies from last year ran out before the food crops started yielding in late spring. There was little meat to be had, food was rationed and the Government set about teaching the population to cook using available produce, issuing a series of leaflets with recipes. Lord Woolton’s Pie is an example of a dish that was so successful, it became a legendary wartime recipe. As overseas supplies became increasingly threatened by the war, there was a push towards home-grown produce and self-sufficiency.

That need led to the creation of this pie, one of the most popular wartime recipes, which was named after the wartime Minister of Food. It’s a root vegetable pie, including the infamous ‘Doctor Carrot’ and ‘Potato Pete,’  blended with oats and topped with a pastry crust. Note that there is no fat used in the recipe and the pastry doesn't get an egg-wash.

Ingredients – filling

  • 1lb seasonal vegetables such as potato, turnip, swede, cauliflower and carrot
  • 3–4 spring onions
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable extract
  • 1 tablespoon oatmeal
  • Chopped parsley

Ingredients – pastry

  • 8oz flour
  • 1 level teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of powdered sage (optional)
  • 1 pint cold milk and water


Dice the vegetables and spring onions. Cook together with the vegetable extract and oatmeal for 10 minutes with just enough water to cover. Stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking. Allow to cool.

To make the pastry, mix all the dry ingredients together then stir in the milk and water, and roll out the mixture. Put the filling in a pie dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley, then cover with the pastry.  Bake in a moderate oven until the pastry is brown and serve hot with brown gravy.
Note that the enemy was Hitler, not Putin. Russia was Britain's ally during the War, which could not have been won by the Allies without massive loss of Russian life and their dogged determination to beat Nazism and resist territorial incursion.
I saw the 3-part Putin documentary available on i-Player. As always with these documentaries about events that have happened during my recent lifetime, I'm left astonished by how much that was going on I had no clue about. Was I not paying attention, or was the News very carefully curated? Anyway, I highly recommend the documentary. It reinforced my conviction that we have been made Russia's prime enemy in order to support America's concept of the global world order and Boris Johnson's hubris and his attempts to save his career. A small exchange between Putin and David Cameron stays in my memory. Call Me Dave attempted to chide Putin on his stance against gay marriage. Putin robustly told him - "we have a demographic crisis. There are not enough babies. If we let men marry men, there will be fewer babies". The accompanying look spoke volumes. Why don't you know this? Don't you also have a demographic crisis? What's the matter with you? Putin is a man of sentiment and logic. He cried when he was elected President, but he wouldn't allow sentiment to hinder the requirements of the state. It's worth remembering about Putin. If you let men marry men, there will be fewer babies. The state needs babies.

 If you are taking steps to eat seasonally and locally, can I remind you that it is wild garlic season? Brilliant in soups, stews and sauces, it also makes fabulous pesto. This is my wild garlic patch - note that it is soon to open its little white flowers, so it is perfect for harvesting. 
You don't need a garden - this stuff grows abundantly in the wild - by river and canal banks, under trees in woodland - just take yourself out for a walk and follow the garlic perfume.

The snowdrops and crocus are in glorious flower and the daffodils are about to burst from the bud. You can't eat them, 
but the orange stigma of the crocus is saffron, much prized and most expensive.


thanks to editor mr. verge, there are now three anthologies of the collected works of ishmael smith:

Honest Not Invent, Vent Stack  and Ishmael’s Blues are all available from Lulu and Amazon. If you buy from Amazon, it would be nice if you could give a review on their website.
Ishmaelites wishing to buy a copy from lulu should follow these steps :

Thanks to editor mr. verge, there are now three anthologies of the collected works of ishmael smith:
Honest Not Invent, Vent Stack  and Ishmael’s Blues are all available from Lulu and Amazon. If you buy from Amazon, it would be nice if you could give a review on their website.
Ishmaelites wishing to buy a copy from lulu should follow these steps :
please register an account first, at This is advisable because otherwise paypal seems to think it's ok to charge in dollars, and they then apply their own conversion rate, which might put the price up slightly for a UK buyer. Once the new account is set up, follow one of the links below (to either paperback or hardback) or type "Ishmael’s Blues" into the Lulu Bookstore search box.  Click on the “show explicit content” tab, give the age verification box a date of birth such as 1 January 1960, and proceed.
Link for Hardcover :
Link for Paperback :
At checkout, try WELCOME15 in the coupon box, which (for the moment) takes 15% off the price before postage.  If this code has expired by the time you reach this point, try a google search for " voucher code" and see what comes up.  
With the 15% voucher, PB (including delivery to a UK address) should be £16.84; HB £27.04.
No, I've not forgotten about the SNP Leadership Contest, I'm just frightened of Ash Regan.


Bungalow Bill said...

Lovely writing, Mrs I, as it was the last time out.

Bad Vlad wasn't wrong, was he, about the babies? Tricky one that for those who consider procreation a blight. We are in danger of liberating and asserting ourselves into oblivion, here in the Free West.

Anonymous said...

Take a look at this, Mr BB - small wonder Putin holds the West in such contempt :

Something about that snap of Therese sucking a cigar - and then it struck me. Has anyone seen Ken Clarke and T. Coffey in the same room at the same time? The resemblance is a shudderer.


mrs ishmael said...

Perfect, mr verge, the ultimate in Western decadence - Ken Clarke as transwoman Therese - why didn't I see that? These politicians, they'll do anything to cling on to the green benches.
As for that bounder in the stolen dresses.... I'm really not a liberal.

mrs ishmael said...

Thank you, mr B.B., too kind. I think Putin is right about quite a lot of things and we don't want to hear any of them.

Bungalow Bill said...

Good spot, Mr Verge, on Ken Coffey.

Yes, we are plainly a civilisation in terminal decay. I worry that this may be the terminal terminal decay (the End Days having been a feature of human history, of course) for we have the unprecedented technology to deliver the apocalyptic payload. I mean by that not simply and terribly the Final Bombs, but also the alteration of the very grammar of humanity which we are being required to accept as truth and kindness.

mongoose said...

Now that we are editing the literary works of the past, and the literary work of the past that foresaw the editing of the literary works of the past is itself now considered beyond decency, I have a plan. Everyone with an IQ over 100 should lay down upon the earth until the others starve.

Mike said...

Its in the Russian Constitution, Mrs I: for avoidance of doubt, marriage is a union between a man and a woman - only.

Mrs mike has an array of herbs and stuff growing in the garden. Chilli, coriander, sage, parsley, dill, basil, mint, capsicums - all prolific, unfortunately the local fruit bats have a taste for the capsicums just as they turn from green to red, so you have to be on your toes.

Mike said...

PS re the shortage of food on the shelves. Reminds me of the time in the 70s when there were similar shortages because of strikes of some kind. Idi Amin offered to send a boatload of oranges to Liverpool for the kids.

mrs ishmael said...

I'm envious of mrs. mike's garden - it sounds wonderful; but, of course you have the snake-pit hazard on your golf course, so your paradise is not unalloyed.
mr. B.B. - the signs are all around us: the goddess Gaia has petitioned Zeus yet again and requested that she shrug off the human vermin encrusting her - (I've been reading A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes, an entertaining re-telling of the Iliad and the Odyssey through the perspective of the women involved), and we are seeing the god's power - earthquake, disease, famine and War.

mrs ishmael said...

So, mr mongoose, what's your take on the Windsor Framework? I suspect that it is a crock of shit, a well-spun farrago of nonsense and the fact that it has Ursula's imprimatur is a bit of a clue that we are being sold the same old, same old, dressed up in new clothes.
It has heartened the dastardly Scots Nats, who now think they can have their cake and eat it too: Independence, membership of Europe and open trade borders with England, to whom the Scots trade 70% of the goods they produce.

mongoose said...

Pretty much that, mrs i. The deal is that the UK gives up their nuclear option of just invoking the NI protocol and advising the EU to stick their stupidity where the sun no longer shines. "Build a damn border if you want one. See how long it lasts." OTOH the EU has given up what they didn't ant anyway which is a load of BS hoopla abd out chits for sausages.

The Westminster boys and girls still do not understand that the project is the project. It has nothing to do with sausages or sovereignty and everything to do with centralised German control over European commerce, trade and 2hat they bafflingly call community.

The SNP bonus was of course so obvious that everyone saw it but poor fucking Rishi. The Tories, if they had any strategic nous worth a biscuit, would have accepted that they are nearing the end of their current term and have accepted Brexit as prize enough for a decades struggle, Drive a stake through the heart of the bugger and man up. Now it will all drag on and fester for another decade. That's unless Russian tanks roll across Europe to the Channel once again.

mrs ishmael said...

And the reluctance of the political class to totally quit Europe may be bound up with that whole layer of career opportunities tied in with Brussels. Being an MEP was quite lucrative, I understand.

Mike said...

Exactly Mrs I. If your profession is "walking the street" why walk in Whitechapel when you can walk in Mayfair?

mongo said...

Small mental typo about Russian tanks but you get the idea. The EU is German domination without violence. Well, the Rooskies won't tolerate that in the east but it seems that the Brits have become spineless enough to tolerate it in the west.