The benefits of private health care

A lawyer woke up after surgery and asked, “Why are all the blinds drawn?”

“There’s a fire across the street, and we didn’t want you to think you’d died.”


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Book Review: Garrison Keillor ~ Lake Woebegon Days (1985)

Garrison is a radio star in the mid-West of the USA. His show is a slow conversational series of supposed memories. He speaks in a drawling and yet compelling voice and once hooked…. If you’ve heard his voice then the stories have a wonderful intimacy. He draws you into his world and you share the laid back passions of life in a dull-as-ditchwater town where nothing happens.

Nothing happens except that something is always happening. Lake Woebegon Days is the antidote of 24 ‘News’. Time is measured in decades where nothing is forgotten. Incidents on the sports field are etched in memory and school experiences are vivid years later. Passions are roused by very conservative views on religion with heated, but icily polite, debates. Every denomination is represented and each one is a ghetto of prejudice. Garrison’s satire keeps it kind, loving and wonderful. The quotation is about religious identity:-

Our Lake Woebegon bunch was part of the Sanctified Brethren branch known as the Cox Brethren, which was one of a number of ‘exclusive’ Brethren branches- that is, to non-Coxians, we were known as ‘Cox Brethren’; to ourselves, we were simply The Brethren, the last remnant of the true Church. Our name came from Brother Cox who was kicked out of the Johnson Brethren in 1932- for preaching the truth! p106

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Incredible sky scene

Nature as art

Richard M.

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Len Deighton on Etonians

Eton, Oxbridge, Buddha class: sadistic, self-sufficient apparatchiks who controlled Whitehall by stealth, wealth and consanguinity and — no matter how friendly — inevitably closed ranks against intruders like me.

Len Deighton. Hope (1995) (Kindle Locations 1945-1947). HarperCollins UK.


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Del’s culinary tips for a healthy heart

Do you ever use vegetable bouillon? A popular make sold by Tesco is Marigold at £2.00 for 150 gms. The ingredients make interesting reading with salt at the top of the list, it forms almost half (44.6%) of the total weight.

There is another organic, vegetable bouillon sold online by It costs £1.99 for 250gms. It is 0.1% salt. That is 446 times less salty than the Marigold version. As you can imagine the Marigold version once reconstituted only tastes of salt, a bit reminiscent of sea water. The Real Food Source version tastes of very little, a bit like pond water.

Hard to know what to recommend really at least the pond water will not ruin your meal whereas the sea water one will certainly do that if you’re not careful. Another consideration is price with Marigold coming in at £13.40 a kg and Real Food at £7.96 so a big difference there. That is probably in part down to the packaging, Real Food in a simple polythene bag and Marigold in a highly engineered tub. A foil lined wax card tub with a metal bottom and a polythene lid. Try recycling that! So if you must have the stuff go for Real Food, a clear winner when all is considered. True eco warriors might consider getting down to their local pond with a gravy boat where the stuff is free.

In the interests of impartiality I should add that a non veggie OXO cube is 30.7% salt and the reduced salt version is a mere 21.3% salt.

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Animal rights activists are thrilled

At a convention of biological scientists, a researcher remarked, “Did you know that in our lab we’ve switched from rats to accountants for our experiments?”

“Really? Why the switch?”

“Well, for three reasons. First we found that accountants are more plentiful. Second, the lab assistants don’t get so attached to them, and finally there are some things even a rat won’t do.”


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Book Review: Laurent Binet ~ The 7th Function of Language (translated Sam Taylor) (2018)

Binet wrote the brilliant historical novel HHhH (2013) about the assassination of Heydrich in Prague in 1942. Naturally I bought this new book, without reading a review, and found myself engaging with a French intellectual. It was very bracing.

The 7th Function of Language is a multi-layered novel. Firstly it’s a satire on mid-20th Century French philosophy. Very unpromising material unless you happen to be a genius. Fortunately for the reader Binet is a genius. Secondly it’s a political satire about the presidential race between Mitterand and Giscard d’Estaing. Mitterand was a serial loser and would do anything to achieve victory. The 7th Function of Language was to be the key. Finally there is a further satire about the intense intellectual debates within philosophy. Binet creates the Club Logos. There are thrills and spills.

The 7th Function of Language achieves the impossible. It carries the reader along a wave of French intellectualism and is a thriller. This book needs to be read. It isn’t a casual read but it is magnificent. So if you’re tired of police procedurals, sadistic murders, celebrity biographies and cook books this is for you.


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