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The Turkish Apple Cake

Wednesday 4th May, with brilliant sunshine, the black maple wonderfully in flower, mass murder in the fish pool (a seagull raid, our pet-shop man says, and recommends tripwire), and out there in the wide world, the signs and wonders continue. But first, by popular request, here is the recipe for the Turkish Apple Cake (pictured)

Ingredients: Cooking apples; about 675g weight, peeled cored and chopped. Juice of one lemon (two tablespoons or so); 50g chopped mixed nuts (as sold ready-packed in the Co-op); 50g sultanas; 100g sugar; 100g plain white flour; pinch of salt; teaspoon of baking powder; 1/2 teaspoon good vanilla essence; I large egg, beaten

Method: Lightly oil a cake tin (spring-formed, about 20cm eg) Preheat your oven to medium/warm (about 175C/350F). Put chopped apples into a large bowl, sprinkle with the lemon juice. In a smaller bowl, mix the nuts, sultanas, sugar, flour, salt and baking powder. Stir this mixture into the apples until all the elements are well combined. Add the beaten egg and vanilla essence & repeat the mixing. Be thorough. Dump the mixture into the cake tin, flatten it out with the back of a wooden spoon or similar, and bake in oven until lightly browned (this will take a minimum of 20 mins). Serve warm with cream or yoghurt, or plain and cool.Eat. This recipe is from David Scott's Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookery, sadly long out of print but still available.

Signs and Wonders: Women in Politics
What you have to remember about Liz Truss is that from her point of view, "Environment" (in the job title) is no more descriptive than the word "Secretary" (although she does, of course, take dictation). She plans to be the new Margaret Thatcher, she doesn't see why not (neither do I, really) and her current post is Secretary of State For Whatever-It-Takes. So when Liz insists we need to protect our pollinators, and then lifts the ban on bee-destroying neonicotinoid pesticides, when she defends the beauty of the English landscape but slashes subsidies for clean energy, (and is trying very hard to get fracking); when she starts bigging-up our EU Environmental Directives on the tv News (the same directives that conclusively blocked fracking development, in the Weald and elsewhere: until that route was closed by Liz Truss's own sterling work on deregulation!) after having protested for years that the EU is killing our farmers. . .You're wasting your time trying to keep track, whether you're a horrified constituent or a horrified environmentalist . . . Damn the contradictions, this is the politics of the way up. They aren't contradictions, to the enlightened insider's eye.

If you live in South West Norfolk,you're devout climate change denier, fox-hunting, gentleman-industrial farmer, and you still dearly want to ride on her coat-tails*, I don't know. Good luck to you, I suppose. The course of true love can be cruel.

My Fracking Round-Up And Why

& why did I waste my rant power on the Iron Lady In Waiting, when I could have been joining up dots on the latest Mysterious Extreme Energyland Horror Story ("wildfires in tarsands country" is not news, but this one is getting headlines!). Or reporting on the funny business at Horse Hill; the Lancashire anti-fracker whose Council decided to sue him, and then somehow changed its collective mind . . . Or on the other side, tales of global fossil fuel divestment, massive growth in public protests?

It's because I've been feeling the need to get back ad fontes ; to ask myself why fracking in the UK?. Why not Jeremy Hunt vs the Junior Doctors? Why not detention centre conditions? Why not the whole tragedy of the so-called migrant crisis? Why not the tragedy of the UK "housing crisis", the privatisation of London, or any other horrible symptoms of the savage behaviour of the super rich?** Why not the scary and really insane global antibiotics crisis and its causes? Even if I only want to get serious about climate change issues, why not we have to change our diets! Why not BAN FEED LOT BEEF? Why not campaign to get the mammon of iniquity (I mean McDonalds) to switch to selling only veggie-burgers (I bet it can be done, and by the way, soy is not allowed . . .).

It's because the topic fell into my lap, here in Sussex in the Weald Basin (Balcombe; Wisborough Green), and I trust localism. It's because my MP is Caroline Lucas. And it's because I'm sure of my ground: I do not feel helpless. I know the fracking industry would be a disaster for the UK, and I know there's an alternative to this "bonanza" (shareholders version) or this "energy crisis" (what they tell the public) already in place, fit for purpose and that could be implemented at once.

I'm sure about the health issues (the public health risks are a big issue, one of the main reasons why "the more people know, the less they are likely to want fracking near them"). I'm sure about the climate change issue. I'm sure that fossil fuel divestment is not only desirable, it's happening; it's the future. And I'm sure (this is where Liz Truss comes in) about the mindless political "will" that keeps on pushing to make fracking in the UK a reality despite all these crushing arguments (I'm being polite, I know that "will" is made up of cronyism, corruption, and the sheer, undiscriminate lust for power that lies (it's a fact of life), at the heart of every truly ambitious politician.

Carbon Capture and Storage isn't happening. Hinkley Point is a lunatic money pit, and even Liz Truss must be aware that the drill or drop oilmen are lying. That HVHF UK shale gas bonanza is a monstrous threat to our future that doesn't even exist, but like a false and evil idea, it can still destroy us, on its way to the dustbin. Fracking or not, the lights really might be going out, one of these chaotic winters. . . And yet, still this government refuses to back clean energy. Refuses to invest in post-fossil fuel research and development; in distributed energy development, in recyling; in energy efficiency. Turns down all the major new employment opportunities on offer, in favour of a few temporary posts for cleaners and (very unhappy!) security guards at the oilmens' armed encampments. Why? Out of pure spite? No. Lust for power, lust for status, lust for plain old corrupt backhanders.

The tide really is turning against fossil fuels, all over the world. The HVHF extreme-energy extraction line, here in the UK, has yet to be broken. Five years on, there's no High Volume Hydraulic Fracking in the UK. Technically; not yet. One year at a time. One week at a time, all you can do is keep on, keeping on saying no.

And when or if this "battle" is won, go on to the next.

Enough for now.


Dheepan; Jacques Audiard

Tamil Tiger officer masquerades as an innocent press-ganged survivor of the Civil War, and gets shipped to France with a "wife and child" who never met him before. They are dumped, more or less, on a grim tower block estate, infested with ratlike hordes of rival drug gangs, where Dheepan is to be "caretaker". And amazingly, they make it work. Yulini, the supposed wife, finds an unlikely job as cook and carer for the ? brain-damaged, silent father of a charming, but clearly insanely dangerous young drug lord. Claudine, the little girl, goes to school; people are nice to her; there are bad tantrums, but she starts opening up to life. Dheepan and Yulini start to have a relationship. . . It's gritty, it's engaging. But then, I don't know what happens. A former colonel tries to recruit Dheepan as a terrorist in the cause of the lost war, he refuses but goes crazy and decides to start his own private war anyway. Everything blows up! There's blood and bodies everywhere and lots and lots of guns! Is this a tragic outburst of PTSD? Nope, nothing like. But I won't spoil the outcome for you. Kalieaswari Srinivasan is brilliant as Yulini, the angry young woman who's lost everything; she does all the changing, the mourning, the struggle to survive versus the need to revolt against horrible circumstance. Dheepan just glowers, broods and blows up. A movie I was gripped by, until about three quarters of the way through, and then (to me) it looked as if somebody just got bored, or somebody just loves guns.

Eye In The Sky

I can't prove it and the time frame is tight! but this is like a direct reaction to Harriet Harman's needling Dave Cameron rather meanly about Drone Strikes (just after that UK commissioned Drone Strike, you know). I even seem to remember, because I happened to be watching, that Harman asked the PM exactly this question. "What would you do if a child was involved? Would you consult anyone? What's your legal framework in that case?" So here we are, pothering about the relative risk of killing one little girl in the blast, or letting 130 odd Kenyan shoppers die in the suicide bomb attack we can see being set up, right now, right before our eyes . . . And the drone hovers way up high above the house, and the drone pilot weeps in his bunker, thousands of miles away, and the general, of course, is back at the chateau where he always was. Agonising in comfort. No, let's be fair, not a lot of comfort, with the legals and the ministers (especially the irritating female one) nagging on about legal frameworks.

DCI Tennison (Helen Mirren), or I suppose it must be Assistant Commissioner Tennison, rtd by now) was sleepwalking. Aaron Paul's character should have spotted he'd agreed to be paid for killing people when he joined up. The worst line in the movie (up against some crackers) went to the late Alan Rickman. I felt for the IMDB user wailing that military drones can't do that! They can't hover in place for two hours, while the line of command sits around nattering! I suppose he didn't notice the beetle? I loved the beetle, of course. But aside from the sci-fi flourishes, and the completely meretricious "moral dilemma", somehow I didn't feel my time had been wasted. The supporting cast, esp in the Kenya location, played it as if it was real.

& Before I forget. . .

Here's a link to my Hannah's Bookshelf interview. Mainly about being North Manchester, but Bold As Love sneaks in, along with Joanna Russ, Jane Austen, Zombies, and Charlotte Bronte


**Maybe what I would say about these topical horrors can be said, legally, only in fiction.