SMILE FIRST THING IN THE MORNING. GET IT OVER WITH.
In his first bestselling memoir ‘Mukiwa: a white boy in Africa’ Peter Godwin described his childhood in Zimbabwe – or as it was then called, Southern Rhodesia – how he served as a conscript in the Rhodesian army and how he came to espouse the cause of a free, multi-racial, democratic state which came into being with ZANU winning the first open elections and Mugabe becoming Prime Minister. When a Crocodile eats the Sun is his second book of memoirs. The title, which may perplex people, is an African expression for a solar eclipse. Solar eclipses are thought to be very bad omens, and only occur when men have displeased the sun.
Godwin, who now lives with his wife and children in New York, returned to Zim when his father had a major heart attack (which he survived); and like many adult children of ageing parents, started to cope with the challenges of supporting and caring for them - always a tricky task - and made impossibly difficult by his parent’s refusal to leave the country they loved and considered their home.
Godwin’s parents, like my own, went to
The complete collapse of law and order, the land grabs, forcible evictions from farms so that they can be handed over to Mugabe’s cronies as political rewards, the shattered economy and the government fomented violence towards any who attempt to challenge Mugabe’s rule are vividly documented. Over two million Zimbabweans have fled, in the main the black middle classes, and who can blame them, indeed Peter Godwin’s mother is still managing a medical clinic well into her seventies because there are so few doctors left in the country.
What makes this book so much more than just a record of the willful destruction of a once prospering nation, is the personal story of Godwin’s father. To his amazement he and his sister discover that far from being the quintessential English colonial, his father is actually a Polish Jew whose mother and sister died in Treblinka, and who only escaped the same fate because he had been sent to
For anyone who is interested in
Arghhh….if I hear the word “issues” coming out of one more person’s mouth on TV, radio or anywhere else, I will go stark raving bonkers. Gender issues, race issues, identity issues, religious issues, political issues, educational issues, witness protection issues, and on and on and on.
The word has lost all original meaning and everyone in public life, and I do mean EVERYONE, seems to toss it around as though it makes whatever they are banging on about relevant and serious. In ten minutes of the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning I must have heard the word used a dozen times by different people. Then I started reading notes made by someone in the Metropolitan Police Service for a talk given to London Youth Magistrates and came across this bullet point which illustrates exactly what is getting me so aerated:
“Development of Diversity Issues relating to Gun, Gang and Weapon Issues.”
What PRECISELY does that mean? Answers on a postcard please.
I have issues with “issues” …or should that be “ishoos”.
From hence forth, this blog will be an “issues” free zone.
As Monday night is always pasta night in our house, every few weeks we end up having Charcoal Burner's spaghetti, especially if my daughter happens to be at home. Ever since she was two-bricks-and-a-ticky high this has been her default pasta choice. In fact at our local family restaurant Capri it was the only thing she ever ordered for so many years that Luigi stopped offering her the menu and just brought a plate of it automatically; she has eaten it all over the world and considers herself an expert on the dish. It may be teaching grandmothers to suck eggs by posting a recipe, but we have had loads of arguements as to what should really be included in it and this is my version which I took from the excellent recipe book Pasta for Pleasure by Moyra Bremner and Liz Filippini, way back in the dark ages.
SPAGHETTI ALLA CARBONARA
Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a starter
150g bacon pieces/lardons
50g freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon oil or butter
Ground black pepper
Fill a large pan of water to boil for cooking the pasta.
Lightly beat the eggs and stir in the Parmesan and a good grind of black pepper.
While the pasta is cooking, brown the bacon pieces in a large pan.
When the pasta is al dente drain it – but leave a small amount of water with it, and tip it into the pan with the cooked bacon, stir well and take off the heat (if you don’t take it off the heat at this stage the eggs will scramble). Now add the beaten eggs and Parmesan and mix everything together. The fat in the pan, the water clinging to the hot pasta and the eggs and Parmesan will blend together to make a creamy sauce.
Serve immediately with extra Parmesan for sprinkling over the top of each serving. Variation 1: Variation 2:
Chop a small onion medium fine, cook gently with the bacon pieces. When both are lightly coloured (don’t let the onion brown), pour in half a glass of white wine and let it cook gently until it has reduced by at least half. Finely chop some flat-leafed parsley and add it to the egg and Parmesan mixture.
Continue as for the above recipe
Stick to the first recipe, but beat 2 tablespoons of cream or crème fraiche into the egg mixture.