Archive for August 2nd, 2005

Stupid Is As Stupid Was

There’s something quite pointless and hopeless, almost poignant even, about using a blog to inveigh against newspaper opinions. Some are so far removed from your own experience that it feels like there’s little difference between writing an indignant riposte to an obnoxious column and hurling cushions at the TV in exasperation at Alfie Moon’s failure to choose between the Slater sisters on Eastenders.

Take Lionel Shriver’s Guardian column today, titled The troubles were tragic – but stupid too, where she basically puts the 3,600 deaths in the Northern conflict down to a mass outbreak of stupidity.

She says:

’In Northern Ireland, you can call the Troubles tragic, thorny or intractable – take your pick, so long as the adjective flatters the collective vanity of a people that feels uniquely cursed. The one thing you must not call the Troubles is stupid’

One of the things she may not have noticed, as a self-styled ‘loudmouth Yank’, is that beyond TV and Radio broadcasts, political websites and countless state-funded cross-community initiatives, talk of ‘the Troubles’ is very rare indeed, and is often a term used solely for the benefit of visitors. There were plenty of people who called the violence stupid. There are plenty of people who still do call the violence stupid. There is nothing wrong with calling it stupid. Indeed, far stronger language was used than ‘stupid’.

How could she have concluded that people don’t like ‘the Troubles’ being called ‘stupid’?

Yet in my radio editorials for the call-in show Talkback, one perspective I occasionally brought to bear universally raised hackles on both sides.

Ahh. You see, universally raising hackles on both sides among listeners to Talkback isn’t exactly the same thing as raising hackles among a representative sample of the general population.

People have more sense.

Lentils Without Prejudice

Years ago I thought of lentils as something eaten by fans of Ozric Tentacles and therefore something to be avoided. My stance on lentils has since changed, partly as a result of the recipe posted below, which I prepared yesterday on my day off.

Fry an onion until soft, then throw in a peeled and chopped tomato. Continue to cook for a few minutes. Get some chorizo sausage (not the salami sized stuff that gets sold by the slice, but the ordinary pork sausage-sized stuff) and chop it up. Get some serrano ham on the bone, some chopped carrots, a couple of bay leaves and stick it all in a pressure cooker, with about 100 grams of lentils per person, and enough water to cover the whole ingredients by an inch and a half. Throw in a bit of salt, and heat for half an hour or so. Read the instructions on the pressure cooker beforehand.

Delicious and not a sandal in sight.

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August 2005