Age, and stuff

If you’ve been paying attention here, you’ll know that I broke a bone in my foot in July, and lost a whole summer. Now I’m beginning to recover I find that being sedentary for two months has aged me by about five years. You know what they say: use it or lose it? I didn’t realise how quickly this would take effect. Can I get my strength back and shift the stone I seem to have gained? Good question. One seems to be dependent on the other but I’m not quite ready to start jogging again and anyway, the end of the novel (draft 2) is in sight.

Talking (writing) of jogging, one effect of my injury is that currently, I am able only to wear trainers, or flat ankle boots. Choice of the latter is constrained by the fact that my left leg needs a built up shoe, and the only boots that fit the bill are in winter black and workman brown, neither of which are attractive with butterfly pink or sunny-sky blue, cropped trousers. Trainers remain the option of choice.

I have two pairs of built up trainers. Both pairs were expensive, I needed good ones to support the considerable impact of my feet on the pavement when running. One pair is quite clean and smart, if such a description can be applied to a running shoe, the other pair, if they were cuddly toys, would be described as well loved.

I had the left foot of the new pair raised quite recently. I wouldn’t have bothered had my daughter’s cat not taken offense, when we visited her new house in Chorley, and peed on the raised member of the old pair, as it stood innocently on her new hall carpet. I didn’t realise what had happened until the smell made itself known, on the long journey home to Magicbhunkshire.

Without wishing to drone on too long about trainers, the newer pair, the obvious option when returning to work, where trainers are generally disapproved of, have developed a squeak. I don’t know if it’s my new, skewed gait that causes it but one foot advertises my arrival with a nauseating holler. I feel like blind Pugh with a squeaky stick.

Wherever I go in the shoes, people turn to see who is coming. The corridors at school are long and smooth. You can imagine the noise as I head for my classroom. I’m an aching, hobbling, squeaking, creaking woman. No wonder I feel my age!

Moving swiftly on, and reminiscing just a little, I can’t remember if I ever mentioned Julian Codd. We were school friends when I was in my early teens and I worshipped him. He, oblivious to this, would tell me of his sexual experiences with his long term girlfriend, to which I would listen with a mixture of curiosity – I had no sexual experience at the time, and anguish. He wouldn’t have made great dating material, and the prospect terrified me anyway like Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Super Star:

Yet, if he said he loved me,
I’d be lost. I’d be frightened.
I couldn’t cope, just couldn’t cope.
I’d turn my head. I’d back away.
I wouldn’t want to know.
He scares me so.

Such is the nature of teenage love.

One day I was watching Top of the Pops and to my shock, the head of Julian Codd, loomed on the screen, dancing to a song – I wish I could remember which. I still remember the jolt in my stomach.

There is a relevance to this, and it illustrates the intensity of some childhood experiences. On Friday evening I sat watching TOTP, 1962 to 1974. The rest of my family were communing with digital gods and I sang my socks off, knowing every word of LOLA, with Elton John at the keyboard (I never noticed how much Ray Davies resembles The Joker), and Maggie May (with John Peel pretending to play the mandolin). Sad to say I didn’t see the youthful face of the, by now surely, wrinkled Julian Codd, but I looked and looked. One day!

The Scottish Problem

Is it me or is anyone else, who thinks themselves British-English, a little hurt by the apparent hatred many Scots seem to feel for us? I’ve always thought of myself as racially tolerant, and actually, perhaps this is the problem, I never thought of the Scots as a race. I thought they were one of us. Not English, but British.

What surprises me most is that they seem to think they are the only people frustrated by our government. Every person in the country must, by now, feel disenfanchised by some action or other. Lucky old Scotland has the luxury of opting out. Not so the rest of us.

One thing I haven’t heard mentioned in all the debate and rhetoric, is whether their proposed Scottish government will be any better? Will they have only one party to choose from i.e. The State? If they go for the multi-party system as we currently have, how will they prevent short term thinking? If PR then how will it work?

I am saddened that so many want to leave, but if they do go then as far as I’m concerned, they’re on their own. No sterling, no help, a foreign country. When the oil runs out, Scotland, please don’t come running back, and don’t blame your poverty on having to pay your share of our joint debt.


Tuna and Pasta Bake

Serves 6, allegedly

This was so good that I made the recipe for 6 and three of us ate three quarters of it i.e. 50% more than we should have done.

I cooked it in a large, straight-sided frying pan of about 14″ diameter that could also be put in the oven. If you don’t have one then a roasting tin or lasagne dish will do. I’m lazy about washing up so happy to skip a pan if possible.

The remains of tuna and pasta bake
Probably should have taken the picture before we devoured it.



2 Tins of tuna in brine, drained

250g pasta, boiled for 10 – 12 minutes until al dente

Corn or rape seed oil for frying

1 large tin chopped toms

1 stick celery, chopped

1 onion chopped

1 pepper, any colour, chopped

4 large mushrooms chopped

Half a chilli including seeds

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 Tbsp fish sauce

Black pepper

Cheese sauce

2oz (50g) butter

2.5oz (60g) plain flour

2 (1 litre) pints milk

Salt and white pepper

6oz (150g) grated mature cheddar

Half a teaspoon English made mustard


2 Slices of wholemeal bread whizzed into crumbs mixed with 2 – 4 oz (50 – 100g) grated mature cheddar


Pre-heat oven to gas 5 / 375f /190c


Fry all the veg, apart from the tomatoes, in the frying pan until the onion is soft.

Add the tin of tomatoes, the garlic and the fish sauce and pepper, then stir in the cooked pasta and the tuna. Leave to cool while you make the sauce.

Cheese sauce

Melt the butter gently until liquid and stir in the flour to form a smooth paste (take it off the heat at first to blend) cook slowly for a minute, stirring all the time.

Increase the heat under the pan and pour in a a dosh of the milk, whisking constantly until blended, then start using a wooden spoon to make sure to bring in the thickening sauce from the corners of the pan. As soon as the sauce starts to thicken, reduce the heat a little to prevent burning. If lumps start to form, remove from heat and get rid of them with the whisk.

When the sauce is thickened, stir in the cheese and mustard, taste and season if necessary.

The sauce needs to be quite thick. It should move, but slowly in the tilted pan. Use the remaining milk to adjust the consistency.

Putting it together.

Pour the sauce to cover the base, then top with the breadcrumbs/cheese.

You can leave it now until you need it. Chill it if necessary.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, possible a little longer from chilled.

Serve with salad.