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.”

Chris

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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.

Chris

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Note to our Grandchildren

You might remember us, as old
Have heard of stories, once long in time
Were told -But no, just like you
We were just young, that’s where your –
Long story, strangely what, began for you.

Tell your children, of what you know
Do not, like me, so grumpy grow
Smile when mistakes are made
Keep love and patience as your goal
Even when you’re down so low.

Your eyes will see sights not known to us
In time, your life might give you hurt and pain
Like dead leaves, blown across an endless sea
Head towards a lonely sycamore tree
Give it a hug, and know that fear, is superfluous.

You don’t need to know, which way to go ,
You will in turn grow, the while
In turn your family will look to you
Experience will tell you what to do
Sometimes you will see that smile.

A small upturned face, with eyes aglow
Will melt your heart, like July snow
Take their hand, and let them know
They are so very special, they in turn will grow
Life is worth the sadness – and the death of old.

While you grow old, and time slips by
Just take our lead, see that great blue sky
Write your storey so your kids will know
Their Gran and Grandpa loved them so
That’s you, not us – let your loved ones grow.

We love you all, and always will
Our time was small but never did
We care so much what others said
It doesn’t matter now, we are dead
You are all, our beloved Grandkids.

Mike and Jan

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It’s hard work loving a lawyer

Lawyers in love

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Photographing fires in Yellowstone Park

A photographer was sent to cover disastrous fires at Yellowstone National Park. Arriving he realized it was impossible to photograph anything from ground level. He asked his editor if he could rent a plane and take photos from the air. He agreed straight away.

At the airport he saw a plane warming up and he jumped in shouting, “Let’s go!”

The pilot took off immediately. The photographer called out, “Fly over the fires and make two or three low passes.”

“Why?” asked the pilot.

“Because I’m a photographer.”

The pilot was silent; “You mean you’re not the instructor?

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Ten Golden Oldie books for Christmas, 2019

Christmas is the book buying season with shelves full of celebrity cookbooks, autobiographies, star novelists and so on. They’re all sold at premium prices. Meanwhile there are millions of books which are superb and can be bought for a fraction of the price. The downside is that if you offer them as a present you look mean and despicable. Who am I to comment?

The following are not in order of genius but they are carefully curated just for you. And you can rest assured that they are readable, fun and you’ll enjoy them.

Autobiography

Tony Adams and Ian Ridley ~ Addicted (1998)

Tony was captain of Arsenal and England but this is much more than a sporting autobiography. He was an outstanding footballer and a hopeless alcoholic. He went on long binges and eventually was jailed for drink driving. His story is unflinching.

Crime (novel)

Mario Puzo ~ The Godfather (1969) (also a film)

In my view this is the finest crime novel I’ve ever read. It has a beautiful narrative arc and remains plausible throughout. The reason some novels become classics is because they are superb. This is one of them and deserves to be read.

Crime (fact)

Misha Glenny ~ McMafia: Seriously organised crime (2008) (also a TV series)

This book began an entirely new genre. For the first time investigative journalism impacted the consciousness of the whole world. Misha exposed systematic corruption at every level of society. So much so that entire countries can be regarded as criminal: including Britain. A terrific read.

Economics

Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner ~ Freakonomics (2005)

Levitt is an economist at Chicago University and Dubner is a journalist. Together they’ve an exceptional chemistry. Like Glenny they created a genre in economics. Economics became FUN! They produced insights revealing the workings of society and personal choice.

History

Ian Kershaw ~ Fateful Choices: Ten decisions that changed the world, 1940-41 (2008)

Many people still believe that there are inevitable events in history but Kershaw chooses ten very contentious decisions that literally shaped the modern world to show this isn’t so. He starts with May 1940 when Britain fought alone after Europe’s stunning collapse. The book ends with two decisions in December 1941. The first saw Germany declare war on the USA and secondly, commit to genocide as policy. Ten long chapters and top class historical writing.

Humour

P G Wodehouse ~ Life at Blandings (trilogy: Something Fresh, Summer Lightning, Heavy Weather) (1981) (numerous TV series)

Apart from unpleasantness occurring when he didn’t notice that Nazis weren’t jolly good chaps, Wodehouse is a comic genius. His career ended in the USA as he feared arrest in Britain. His stories are stupid but they’re written so brilliantly it doesn’t matter. Park your brains in a locker and enjoy.

Humour (American)

Carl Hiaasen ~ Omnibus (trilogy: Tourist Season, Double Whammy, Skin Tight) (1994)

Hiaasen lives in Florida. He writes crime and environmental stories which are brilliant. There’s a galaxy of grotesquely plausible characters. Everything in Florida is exaggerated and, by our standards, exotic. Total joy.

SciFi

Aldous Huxley ~ Brave New World (1932)

The grandfather of dystopia. This book still informs and resonates in our opiate fuelled world today. Viciously organised social hierarchies defended by drugs and genetic programmes are laid bare. Brilliantly written and thought provoking.

Thriller

Patricia Highsmith ~ The Talented Mr Ripley (1955) (also film)

The psychological thriller was turbo-charged by Highsmith with her Ripley series. Utterly chilling, without gratuitous violence but the violence that is there is all the worse for that: it’s controlled and calculated. Great writing depends on characters which are plausible and Ripley is very much so.

War (novel)

Laurent Binet (translator: Sam Taylor) ~ HHhH (2013)

HHhH = ‘Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich’ in German. Heydrich was the hangman of Prague and an evil genius. He was assassinated in 1942. This was planned by Czech resistance fighters and facilitated by the British. A fact based novel which is tremendous.

Chris

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