Not so foreign muck

Burger King boss slags off British food – Marcus Wareing chokes on his organic Dorset crab

I won’t comment on the women thing (mostly because I don’t care) but, having eaten more than my fair share of freshly-defrosted pub meals, I really can’t blame him for saying British food is mediocre. Frankly, a Whopper is much tastier than some of the stuff I’ve had in ‘proper’ restaurants! And it’s made on site unlike, say, pub lasagne…

A delicacy from Cornwall - not a hoax

I do wish journalists would stop running to Michelin-starred chefs in order to get a tediously predictable reaction every time someone points out the bleeding obvious; what does Marcus Wareing know about ordinary food anyway? He makes elitist food for the rich! Does he ever set foot in the average greasy spoon or pub (not the gastro variety) where most people eat? Has he ever been told, upon asking for mash with his gammon, “Sorry, we’re out of mash but we do have baked potatoes”? Yup, true story.

Maybe he should eat at Aberdeen Angus Steakhouse and Harvester every day for a month, and then I’ll be prepared to listen to his opinion. “An insult to British gastronomy”, he calls it. If you stopped a random Brit in the street and asked them what gastronomy was, they’d probably say they got it right after Christmas and didn’t get off the loo for 12 hours.

Your guess is as good as mine

The truth is, what is on offer to tourists, foreigners (and British people) who aren’t lucky enough to experience good family cooking or expensive restaurants tends to be pretty rubbish. And that’s a shame because these people then go home believing ALL British food is rubbish – which isn’t far off the truth but is still a tad unfair I suppose.

I do like mince pies, after all.

Are you blonde but bookish?

Congratulations, have a biscuit.

*sigh* here we go again: Wah wah I’m not a vacuous blonde wah wah

Mariella Frostrup has managed to build a whole career on first dyeing her hair blonde and then complaining incessantly about what a sexist nightmare life as a blonde is. Every single interview I’ve had the misfortune to come across contains a new blonde-related whinge. Enough!

I’m a natural blonde, I read books (fancy that), I have a modicum of culture and am not afraid to show it when necessary (oooh), and yet I can’t say I’ve ever knowingly been discriminated against, mocked or singled out in a negative way for my hair colour. Nobody has ever so much as told a blonde joke in front of me. I can’t recall any other blonde celebrities going on about it either, certainly not to that extent anyway.

Just bottle it already

So what on earth is the woman doing wrong? Perhaps it has nothing to do with being blonde and everything to do with being smug and irritating? Perhaps she could refrain from mentioning having met George Clooney in every interview (only to go all coy when asked if she slept with him)? Perhaps she could stop saying things like “I never cease to be astonished that people are still stereotyped according to their hair colour” to make herself sound like some fearless campaigner for hair-related human rights?

The problem is, she doesn’t actually care about other people. For instance, never does she mention the much more real hostility redheads face, especially in this country. Never does she point out a blatant example of discrimination that happened to another blonde.

Nope, it’s All. About. Mazza.

She’s also guilty of doing this bloody annoying parent thing of believing the world is only worth saving because her precious kids will be living in it:

“This is the first time sexism has been on the news agenda in 20 years, and about time too. I’ve got a daughter and I want her to grow up in a different environment to the one I’ve slogged my way through; equal opportunity is a human right.”

1. Oh please. People like her are the ones who automatically call you selfish if you have no children because you can’t possibly care about anything, since you have no flesh and blood to hand over the world to. Because that’s the only reason one might care about the environment we live in, obviously.

2. “Slogged her way through” an unforgiving, blonde-hating, sexist world, has she? She’s only 6 years older than me and I call bullshit. I also can’t help but notice all that hatred wasn’t enough to stop her running to the hairdresser’s every six weeks to get her roots done. Draw your own conclusions.

Entitled Teenager vs. Real World

Teenage boy is turned away from Girl Guide meeting and predictably cries sex discrimination

He “assumed” he would be welcome, did he? Well he obviously assumed wrong! I used to be a Girl Guide (albeit in France, in a very conservative Catholic movement with strict no-boys rules) and I would have resented it greatly if a fellow member’s friend had been allowed to crash a meeting. The key word here is ‘member’. You don’t just wander in, it’s not the local library! The only non-members who were allowed to take part in meetings were people who were considering joining and wanted to see what it was like. This obviously cannot apply to him; what part of ‘girl guide’ does he not understand? What on earth possessed his friends to invite him without checking it was all right anyway? They at least should have known better. Oh wait, I know, they must have “assumed” it would be fine. Silly me.

Plus, that boy is an idiot; if he wanted to visit a convent and the nuns didn’t let him in, would he be making such a fuss? Actually, he probably would… In this world of rights without responsibilities, God forbid that anyone should be barred from doing exactly what they want.

“Guiding bosses have fiercely defended their stance, saying it was ‘vital’ in today’s society for a girls-only group to be available.”

Couldn’t agree more. I asked to go to an all-girls school at the age of 12 after being badly bullied by boys at my previous school, and it was like a breath of fresh air. I loved the Guides but would never have joined in the first place if boys had been allowed, which would have been such a shame as I would have missed out on a wonderful experience. OK, I’m an extreme case as I totally hated boys as a teenager and never wanted to come into contact with one ever again (I got better) but I do think it’s healthy for boys and girls to do some activities separately.

My old school started accepting boys the year I left, which made me feel sad and was against their principles (the school was originally founded by nuns and there were still a few teaching there), but they were probably not getting enough girl pupils and losing too much money. Nowadays boys and girls are used to being together all the time and probably see it as cruel and unfair to be separated, but that’s because they can’t see past their hormones.

Apparently boys do better at co-ed schools (probably due to the girls’ ‘civilising’ influence, ha ha) but girls do better at single-sex schools, and I can see why. Girls behave very differently when boys are around. They’re suddenly in competition with each other for the boys’ attention, which is not conducive to a good atmosphere; I saw it with my own eyes in my last year at school, when the new boy in my class acquired a groupie following on the first day! Before the male invasion, no one cared what you looked like and there was no stigma against being academic. A breath of fresh air, I tell you. And contrary to the stereotype, the girls were not bitchy at all.

Same thing with the Guides. The uniform may have been just a little bit on the unflattering side but there was no one to laugh at us, make us feel self-conscious or label us “fit” or “minging” (see below – pic from the web, don’t try looking for me!).

Ahhh, bliss.

Now imagine wearing this in front of boys

Give them 2.5 centimetres…

I just felt like wasting some of my time on this little tantrum by Peter “I hate metric” Hitchens.

I am shocked when I hear people of my generation, raised to speak English and the direct inheritors of 20 generations of free men and women, thoughtlessly giving measurements in totalitarian metres and litres.

Well, let’s not get too carried away there Peter. Just because you happen to be used to a particular system doesn’t make it any more natural or intuitive or less totalitarian than another. It just makes it something you’re used to. As for it being totalitarian, it’s a legacy of the French Revolution! I’d love to hear your definition of ‘totalitarian’.

Would you still hate it so much if it wasn’t a French invention? Hmm? Be honest.

Recipe books and celebrity chefs likewise drivel about grams of butter and flour.

That’s because metric is much more precise and universally understood, especially when baking. Americans (who don’t like metric either) use cups, good luck cooking with those instead.

The fanatically metric BBC is dedicated to giving rainfall and snowfall in centimetres and millimetres

They’re not so fanatical when it comes to giving high temperatures in Fahrenheit for that extra heat factor!

Though it is always noticeable that the weights of newborn babies are invariably given in pounds and ounces. As Steve Thoburn’s friend Neil Herron remarked, if babies’ weights were given in kilos, most people would not know if the child involved was the size of a baby elephant or a small tomato.

If babies’ weights were given in kilos, “most people” would soon learn! Try telling a French mother her baby weighs 7 pounds and 3 ounces and watch her panic. Not so intuitive now, huh?

Kilos, metres and litres sound – and always will sound – cold, ugly, alien and oppressive to me

And imperial measures sound archaic, unnecessarily complicated and just plain bizarre to me. Tit for tat.

No wonder the metric system appeals to communists and similar fanatics. It satisfies their craving for neatness and regularity

Yes, God forbid that measurements should be regular! It makes so much more sense to have UK and US gallons, doesn’t it?

Mind you, in France I have bought butter from farmers by the ‘livre’ (pound) and eggs by the ‘douzaine’ (dozen), two centuries after revolutionary law abolished such things.

Actually, a French livre is exactly half a kilo. It’s a metric measure that still uses an old, pre-metric name. Sorry to disappoint. As for the eggs, this is true but there is obviously a demand for other quantities as you can now buy boxes of ten eggs in British supermarkets. Condolences.

Hell according to Peter Hitchens

I cannot imagine a kilogram, let alone a gram, or a metre or a litre or a hectare. I work out what they mean by converting them into the proper measures that have their roots and origins in the land, as I do – an acre is a day’s work at the plough, a fathom the width of a man’s outstretched arms.

When was the last time you ploughed a field then, Peter? As for metric measures being unnatural, they only are if you want them to be: 10cm is the length of the palm of my hand. One metre is the longest step I can take without falling over. One kilo is four butter sticks or one litre of water. One litre is a juice carton. One kilometre is the distance I can walk in 15 minutes. And so on and so forth.

Meanwhile, the mere mention of a ‘fl oz’ has me running for the hills!

These measures are rooted in daily life, are human, and honest, because they are polished in use, sound like what they are (can’t you hear a gallon sloshing in its bucket?)…

The metric system is rooted in daily life in every country that uses it every day. As for “human” and “honest”, these are totally subjective assessments based on familiarity. You can hear a gallon sloshing in its bucket? Good for you, so can I; I’m just not too sure about the size of the bucket… is it a British bucket or an American bucket?

… and because you can use them in poetry.

Do farmers care about poetry that much? I obviously go to the wrong markets.

There are miles, inches and fathoms in the Bible and Shakespeare, and if you converted them it would sound ludicrous.

This is from the “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for me” school of thought. Why not take back one kadam to honour the Hebrew God while we’re at it?

Indy doing his bit against metric

And how about Shylock demanding his half-kilogram (or 454 grams, given his precise inflexibility) of flesh? Or let us see what the BBC would make of Robert Frost’s beautiful poem Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening.

‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep And kilometres to go before I sleep.’

Now you’re just being silly.

The metric system officially doesn’t have such a thing as a foot. It scorns this useful measure, going straight from the metre down to the centimetre.

Oops, the Daily Mail’s chronic lack of research rears its ugly head again. It actually goes metre -> decimetre -> centimetre, adding a zero each time. And a foot is only a “useful measure” within an imperial context. In metric, you just measure 30cm and Bob’s your uncle. Need a bit more? No probs, here’s 35.8cm for you. What’s that in imperial? One foot, one inch and, er… some bits. Thanks but no thanks.

See, that’s the beauty of the metric system: it’s easy. All you have to do is add or remove a zero here and there. No multiplying by 3 or 4, no dividing by 12. No need to learn your 11 or 12 times tables (eek). For those of us who are mathematically impaired, it’s a total gift!

Interestingly, Peter Hitchens doesn’t feel the need to complain about the decimalisation of the pound sterling. Could it be because – gasp! – he’s used to it? Does it ruin his enjoyment of Dickens to read about David Copperfield receiving two half-crowns from his mother before being sent off to boarding school?

Mum gave me two half-crowns! That's like one Galleon, seven Sickles and four Knuts! Yay!

Pregnant nudity fatigue

Gratuitous pic of a bunch of semi-naked, heavily pregnant women to illustrate an article on conceiving against the odds – not work safe!

What on earth is the point of this picture? We’re told these women are pregnant, OK. I’ll happily take their word for it. I don’t need to see every square inch of their naked bodies, just to be sure!

What is this wave of exhibitionism that’s sweeping the nation? Whatever happened to some things being private? I’m already barely coping with the endless nude calendars everyone and his dog has done, is doing or is planning to do for some good cause or other – AKA vanity charity – not to mention the Daily Mail’s obsession with “bikini bodies” and “baby bumps” (extra points if both can be found on the same female celebrity at the same time), and now every pregnant woman wants to be Demi Moore.

These visual assaults have to stop!

By the way, the original magazine headline is “PREGNANT, PROUD AND NAKED!” I’m glad they’re promoting this story in a mature and tasteful way, without relying on lurid titles which might attract the wrong kind of sicko fetishist reader.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with this wonderful little ditty which says it all so well:

Pregnant Women Are Smug

It’sy Bit’sy?

This morning I saw in the Daily Mail yet another misuse of ‘it’s’. Here is the gem:

“Classic scene: The Sir Nigel Gresley steam engine makes it’s way through a snow covered tracks in York today”

‘A snow covered tracks’, huh? But never mind, today’s rant is about ‘it’s’. So, I post a comment saying “ITS, not it’s”.

Then some nincompoop feels the need to prove me wrong with gem #2:

“I’d argue that the original statement was a correct usage of the possessive apostrophe – as the train was making it’s way, because the way it was making belonged to the train.”

Oh dear. Head, meet desk.

The battle is well and truly lost. To add insult to injury, I’m now getting red-arrowed for putting him right!