AND DON'T DILLY DALLY ON THE WAY"
Off went the van wiv' my 'ome packed in it,
I followed on wiv' our old cock linnet
But I dillied, I dallied, I dallied and I dillied,
Lost me way and don't know where to roam.
I just stopped off for the odd half-quartern*
Now I can't find my way 'ome.
* old time measure of Gin - I won't be stopping for any when I follow the removal van, I'll take it with me!
The narrator of When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale is a eight/nine year old boy called
After driving for two days through
From early on in the book you are aware that Hannah is suffering from depression. Lawrence, who does not understand that his mother has mental problems, seems to be taking responsibility for his mother and and only sees his mum as either happy or sad; he is desperate to keep her happy and functioning on a more-or-less even keel. He is on tenterhooks all the time, continually trying to assess her moods and divert her from extreme depression to some semblance of normality.
Hannah’s mental state, and her rising paranoia about her ex-husband made me feel extremely anxious for the two children – of course mental illness is not infectious, but it can have a very powerful effect on people exposed to it, and their mother’s behaviour is taking its toll on Lawrence and Jemima.
Lawrence has two great interests, outer space particularly black holes, and the Roman Emperors – particularly the mad ones such as Nero and Caligula – having been given one of the Horrible Histories books on this subject by one of his mother’s friends.
At first this book reminded me of Mark Haddon's book ,The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, but actually the resemblance is very superficial, maybe it is the faux naivite of the language, When We Were Romans is a much darker book in every way.
What the hell are Police Community Support Officers FOR? I see pairs of them wandering around our local shopping areas, but I really don’t know what they are doing. I do know what they are NOT doing: they are not making arrests, they are not busting drug dealers, they are not catching truanting schoolchildren and returning them to school, at least not in this neck of the woods. On the BBC this morning I discover another thing they are not doing, they are not rescuing a drowning 10 year old boy, merely assessing the situation and radioing for police assistance, standing by for five minutes, so that when he was hauled out of the pond he could not be resuscitated.
I feel quite strongly about this for personal reasons. Many years ago my DH happened to be on
Apart from tooting his trumpet for him, the point I am trying to make is that going to help another human being who is in trouble is natural to our species, and is particularly so when the individual in trouble is a child.
Those Community Support Officers who stood and waited for someone else to come along, because they were not “trained” were not behaving in the way our society would expect adults to do in the circumstances, let alone people who have been taken on to act as quasi police. Let’s get rid of these pointless and expensive Blunkett Bobbies, and spend the money on real policemen and women.
I do love a good party, which is just as well as we seem to hold rather a lot of them. Any excuse will do, and at the moment moving house is an ideal reason. Tonight my DH and I are having a farewell thrash at the house we've lived in for 20 years - we're expecting about 50 of our nearest and dearest friends but I have not done much in the way of cooking as everyone is bringing a plate of something for the buffet and this morning I went and bought a tray of baklava from the Turkish bakers in Green Lanes. Last weekend my adult kids had 20+ friends of theirs for a farewell braai prior to them moving out finally and permanently. Obviously given their ages they left some years ago, but like homing pigeons they kept returning for days or months at a time. My contribution to the braai was a dish which is so commonplace out in South Africa that you can buy it ready made in cans, and I'm told there is a restaurant with the same name in Putney; It is great with braaied meats as a side dish but is also often served as a relish. Can be served hot or cold.
250 ml sunflower or corn oil
30 g fresh chopped ginger
30 g fresh chopped garlic
20 g chopped chillis (choose your type according to how much heat you like!)
3 onions, roughly chopped
500 g tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped - or equivalent of tinned chopped tomatoes
1 large green pepper de-seeded and roughly chopped
1 large red pepper de-seeded and roughly chopped
1-2 tablespoons curry powder of your choice
250 g coarsely grated carrot
1 large tin baked beans, undrained (450g tin)
3-4 tablespoons fresh chopped coriander
Fry ginger,garlic,chillis,onions in the oil. Add the curry powder of your choice and mix. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 mins. Add peppers and carrots and cook for 10 minutes. Add baked beans and cook until the mixture reduces and thickens slightly. You can get away with cooking for only 5-10 minutes at this stage, but the longer you simmer it, the more complex and melded the flavours will be. Remove from heat and add coriander. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.