Friday, March 26, 2010

Feeling like I'm in a Summer Wine sketch...

I managed to lock myself out of the house last night - not for the first time. There's that hanging moment just as the door closes behind you when you realise that you haven't got your keys on you, but by then the Yale latch is already shooting home and...ka-lick. It's too late.

I was due to play in a quiz, so there was no time to do more than take a quick peek through the back door keyhole. Had I stupidly left the key in there, so that it couldn't be unlocked from the outside? Yup. So a night in the car was looming.

Fortunately my quiz mates are versed in matters beyond the cerebral. They'd know how to hotwire your motor, and they certainly know how to get into your house. So after triumphing in the quiz, three of us beery fellows returned to Argyle Street to do some burglary. I'd left a top window open, and Tweets thought he'd have a go at shinning up the drainpipe. He could probably have managed it too - except that there was no drainpipe. The bare stone walls offered little purchase, and it's not every rugby player that can double as Spiderman.

I was all for smashing a quarter-light. The opportunities for hooliganism diminish with age, and I definitely don't get to throw as many bricks at windows as I'd like. But Roy (let-me-through-I'm-a-roofer) Button thought we should at least give the lock a try. The voice of reason.

We all had a go at jiggling around in the dark with my spare back door key, but as the keyhole was already blocked from the inside we had no success. Well, I knew we wouldn't. Finally Roy had to get serious and deploy the builder's equivalent of the Vulcan neck-pinch. It's an emergency measure, potentially very dangerous, and not something to be used lightly. He gave the door his special kick.

Now this is a kick apparently known only to roofers, tax collectors and the Grim Reaper himself. No door is proof against it, and certainly no door in Argyle Street. If I'd clapped my hands and cried 'Open Sesame!' it couldn't have been more dramatic. The door flew back with a yelp of apology at having kept us waiting, and we were in.

So next time you're locked out, my dears, or your cat's stuck up a tree, or you're surrounded by Klingons, don't bother the Fire Service with your little problems. They have far more important things to worry about. Just call your local Yorkshire quiz team, and leave it to them.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chinese sticky notes

Lately I've been getting spammed by Chinese pornographers (what a weird sentence to write). This tiresome lot are somehow able to get their messages posted here without Blogger's little 'trashcan' symbol attached, which makes them very difficult to delete. I do wonder at the commercial logic in this kind of persistence. I mean, if you step in some dog mess and can't quite scrape it off your shoe, does that persuade you to go out and buy a dog?

Anyway,I've finally got rid of them, but I've had to temporarily do away with my 'Recent Posts' gadget, otherwise they just keep popping back up again. Apologies to all who leave comments here if it seems as though you've been censored. I suppose I'll have to get myself one of those annoying filter things.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


If ever you need to make serious atonement for your sins, and there's no church or synagogue handy, then force yourself to sit through thirty seconds of this. It'll be more than adequate punishment for anything you might have done.

Alternatively, you could creep your kids out by telling them that this is their Uncle Vasily, and that he's coming to stay for a month.

Friday, March 12, 2010


I’ve gone all John Lennon recently, and started baking my own bread. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s an extension of the creative urge, or maybe it’s just a displacement activity – in lieu of getting down to some actual work. Either way it’s a cinch.
I’m using spelt flour. Spelt s-p-e-l-t. This is an ancient grain that was used before wheat became the standard ingredient for baking, and it gives the loaf a kind of nutty flavour. It’s also kinder to the digestive system, which is a big plus for health freaks like me (ho ho). I really like it.
Best of all, you don’t need any fancy kit – breadmaking machines and the like – just a non-stick baking tin and a mixing bowl.
Here’s my recipe for a small loaf of bread. Takes about ten minutes prep.
250 gm spelt flour.
I teaspoon fast acting yeast.
Pinch of salt.
Pinch of sugar (if you're in reckless mood).
Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, sundried tomatoes, or any other hippy stuff you want to chuck in.
200 ml. warm water.
Mix ingredients in a bowl. Add warm water and mix to a dough. This will be quite sticky, and you’ll wonder whether you’ve overdone it with the water, but it’ll be fine. No need to knead!
Put the dough into the baking tin. Cover with a damp cloth (I use a bit of kitchen towel) and leave in a warm place until the dough rises. Maybe 20-40 mins.
Shove it in an oven, pre-heated to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Bake for about 40 mins. Turn the loaf out of the tin and put it back into the oven for maybe another ten minutes.
That’s it.
Now you can go and live in the Dakota Hotel and tell the world that you’ve made your contribution to society and have no plans to work again. How fab is that?