Well, woe is me, ochone, ochone, the summer
is ended and autumn schedules are back with a vengeance. Mind
you, August's weather made it feel like September, particularly
after a glorious July, and in some ways it felt as busy as
September too. So all those little projects I had promised
myself to do over the summer went by the wayside.......as
usual. This is not my favourite time of year, as I have opined
before [you do a lot of o-pining - Ed] [I'd prefer to opine
than be opinionated or pining - Billy] Anyway, on with the
What's on the menu
I am of the vegetarian persuasion, which is not as much a
statement as it once was of way-outness. I do eat eggs and
dairy produce but for many reasons, including that cows produce
19% of the world's methane and about 4% of global warming
gases (or so I've read - I haven't done my own survey, thankfully),
I think a vegan or near vegan diet is even wiser - apart from
anything it means the whole world could be more easily fed.
Now obviously a lot of those cattle are reared for meat but
still a fair percentage must be dairy cattle, which entails
the killing of male calves and frequent pregnancy for the
cows. Quite a few of the meals I cook, upwards of half, would
be vegan or very close, beans, pulses, tofu and seeds and
nuts providing a great range of possibility for cooking.
It's a lot easier to be vegematarian than
it was. With wholefood stores common and the availability
of Chinese, Indian and other foods, many of us are spoiled
for choice. There were the days when an omelette was what
was automatically offered when out eating. Now most restaurants
and cafes have at least one main course which is specifically
vegetarian - though vegans must find it much tougher. The
odd restaurant resists having any vegetarian main course,
or fails to advertise the fact that they do, and must suffer
- vegetarians have omnivorous friends (well, mostly I would
guess) and if vegetarianism is taken into account in choosing
an eatery, they are losing omnivorous custom as well.
But I would still have gripes. I don't
eat out that often but still, many of us have our favourite
eateries, either locally or when we head out a bit further
or are away. How often they change their menus I'm not sure.
What I am sure is that the 'vegetarian option', sometimes
unhelpfully described as 'vegetarian dish of the day' rarely
changes. And using that term tells you absolutely nothing
about what is on offer - they would never just say 'meat/fish
dishes of the day' so why do it for veggies? While the omnivore
has a choice of perhaps five or six main courses, and can
return to the same place five or six times therefore without
eating the same dish, vegetarians are going to tire very quickly
of the same dish. And, no, don't make it packet tortellini
which you just add a sauce to; you can buy that in Lidl if
you want and is poor value eating out, especially when it
comes in a huge plateful with nothing accompanying it (your
stomach is going to feel heavy until the next day).
These restaurants and cafes could greatly
expend their vegetarian main course choice by one simple expedient.
Any vegetarian starter should also be offered in a souped
up (so to speak) version as a main course. Now a few restaurants
do this, and many more will do it if you ask, but even us
hedgematarians don't always think of asking. So if there is
falafel, mezze, a Greek salad, or even deep-fried brie, whatever,
as a starter, restaurants should put a price on it as a main
course. Even a soup could be souped up with additions (croutons,
a side salad) to a main dish. And there should be a clear
indication of what is available for vegans. And watch some
more veggies roll in.
There is one other gripe I will offer.
Vegetarian food should be fully nutritious and combine everything
you need for a healthy diet. This includes protein and it
is easy to achieve at home. Simply having vegetables with
your vegetables (even done in a nice sauce and differently),
however, is not fully nutritious; there needs to be something
specific - tofu, nuts, pulses, beans - which will provide
that protein. Some restaurants and eateries have not seemingly
learned this yet.
I don't get a huge crop but I do grow asparagus.
Now there is an advert for vegetarianism (though if it's flown
in from far away it's not a great idea for the world) though
now only a memory from early in the summer. Anyway, bon appétit!
Which is an interesting phrase for a veggie to use seeing
France is not the greatest place in the world to be having
renounced eating dead animals.....
If there's going to be a revolution.....
It nearly stopped me in my tracks. A blue poster in Belfast
on a wall usually adorned with Sinn Féin muriels or
other visual material. It wasn't very big so I had to examine
it close up to be sure I wasn't imagining things. I must say
it made me laugh all the way home - talk about trying to be
all things to all people. "If there is to be a revolution,
there must be a revolutionary party" it said in the largest
typeface. Then various visages in the middle. And underneath
was "Join the revolution, join Sinn Féin"
along with the e-mail address and phone number (a mobile).
The visages, fair enough, included martyrs for the cause Bobby
Sands, Máire Drumm, and Mairead Farrell. Other well
known (!) Sinn Féin/Irish republican figures featured
included Fidel Castro, James Connolly (OK, he was a fellow
traveller/martyr and he did live and die in Ireland, and was
a highly significant figure, though born in Scotland of Irish
parents), and Nelson Mandela. Fidel and Nelson were successful
revolutionaries though very different in their later approaches.
But my main question is would this be the same revolutionary
Sinn Féin that is a prospective government coalition
partner in the Republic with Fianna Fáil, that other
well known revolutionary party, or would it be the Sinn Féin
that has refused to come out against Raytheon in Derry? We
look forward to more evidence of the non-violent revolutionary
nature of the party in question, now that the armed wing is
A bit of a holiday
Why is it that my summer holidays are endlessly fascinating
and yours just of average interest? I mean, if we each go
somewhere different each year, why, on the law of averages
you would expect 'your' holidays to sometimes be more interesting
than mine? But, not a bit of it, mine are consistently more
interesting than yours. I could easily talk about mine for
half an hour [or more - Ed] but my tolerance for listening
to your holiday stories, well, please don't exceed one minute,
two minutes if I ask a polite question to show I've been half
listening. I guess I just happen to visit more interesting
places and have a more interesting time than you, as well
of course as being a better raconteur....
But, out of a desire not to gloat on my
magnificent holiday escapades (dodging nearly extinct tigers,
climbing active volcanoes, swimming with sharks, and working
on my all over tan in a clearing in the primeval jungle, or
something vaguely like that) I will draw a veil over them.
Except to say that, as I was travelling light this year I
picked up reading material as I went, English language books
being relatively easy to acquire second-hand in many countries.
One acquisition at €1 [ha, ha, you were within the Euro
zone, don't know of any wild tigers or many vicious sharks
there - Ed] [well, as the African proverb goes, "the
sharks on land are worse than the sharks in the sea"
- Billy] was a book by Doris Lessing, "The Good Terrorist".
I knew of Doris Lessing though I had never read her work and
respected what I knew of her as a competent author and commentator.
I was rather shocked by this book, published
in 1986. The reviews on the back cover intrigued me; I immediately
felt it was rather suspect but was so intrigued I decided
to read it to see. While some aspects of the ten or so primary
characters are well drawn, overall they are right-wing caricatures
written by someone imagining what left-wing and incompetent
revolutionary squat-dwellers would look like. Virtually all
are deficient as people. The main character, despite an epiphany
where she decides her Englishness outweighs her revolutionaryness
[no such word - Ed] [just invented it, didn't I - Billy] has
never got over the break-up of her birth family and is constantly
trying to recreate a sense of family and belonging, even by
cheating her parents and friends. Two of these ten characters
are suicidal and dead before the end of the book. The squat
votes on whether to work actively in support of the IRA, and
when such overtures are spurned they then make an offer to
the Soviet Union! Two of the shadowy 'baddies' are seemingly
both of Irish-Russian parentage. I could go on. Some of the
characterisation is fine but politically - it's rubbish, absolute
stereotypical rubbish. It just doesn't ring true - except
of course to the right-wing British press of the time who
praised its 'realism', like they knew what violent-revolutionary
squat-dwellers might be like. That book was published twenty
If politics is the art of the possible,
then art would be wise to steer clear of impossible politics.
- - - - -
Well, that's me for now, when I write again
the cool of October will be hitting. I like the warmth of
summer but, paradoxically or not, I also like cool mornings
when you warm up as you get going, me on my cycycle, heading
up the road. And so the seasons turn, and soon the leaves.
At which point I will 'leave' you before you get 'browned
off' 'out of your tree', see you soon, Billy [there's
been enough tree-sonable talk from you anyway - Ed].
is Billy King? A long, long time ago, in a more
innocent age (just talking about myself you understand),
there were magazines called 'Dawn' and 'Dawn Train'
and I had a back page column in these. Now the Headitor
has asked me to come out from under the carpet to write
a Cyberspace Column 'something people won't be able
to put down' (I hope you're not carrying your monitor
around with you).
Watch this. Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman
pass by (because there'll almost certainly be very little
about horses even if someone with a similar name is
found astride them on gable ends around certain parts
of Norn Iron).