Am I missing out?

Do you subscribe to a newspaper online?  I only ask because I am teetering on the edge of buying a subscription to The Times. Without it, I feel I am missing out on so much. What, for example, could Giles Coren possibly have said in his column that made Alice Vincent of the Huffington Post (@alice_emily) write such a critical tweet? And why did Giles Coren (@gilescoren) respond so acidly? I will never know.

You can, of course, spend your life looking over your shoulder, thinking that you’re missing out on interesting conversations. I did feel slightly excluded when I was chair of the PTA of St Jude’s. Whole groups of parents would stop talking whenever I walked into the playground.

(In this year of the Jubilee, I think many people will find themselves similarly tongue-tied when they come face to face with the Queen).

Luckily these days I feel very much a part of the social whirl in Fitton. If I’m not brass-rubbing for the Fitton Preservation Society or reading Hilary Mantel for the Fitton Book Club, I’m drumming up support for Bums ’n Tums, spearing litter in St Jude’s churchyard, or arranging longiflorum lilies for the pulpit.

To put Fitton even more firmly on the map, I am thinking of setting up a Lively Minds Society, so that we can invite well-known personalities to lecture on subjects dear to their hearts.

We could ask the lovely Kirstie Allsopp, for example, to talk about crafts. Or would Giles Coren (see above) consider leading us through the intricacies of, say, fish?

We could invite political personalities  –  John Prescott, perhaps, or the rather interesting woman who runs the Green party.  (George Osborne might have a hard time coming to Fitton and trying to defend austerity. Sally in the charity shop next to Tesco Metro tells me that people keep trying to beat her down because they can’t even afford 50p for a pair of socks.)

I do admire that lovely Lord Leveson. I wonder if he’d ever consider visiting Fitton?

Invasion of the
Krispy Kremes

Sales of Krispy Kreme doughnuts are up 26% in the UK. I can’t help wondering whether, like grey squirrels, the invaders will drive out the native species. Will we lose Eccles cakes, crumpets, Chelsea buns, scones, and doughnuts full of strawberry jam?  I am thinking of Robin, of course. These days my snack of choice is usually a grated carrot.

Crunchy chocolate
ice cream

Here is a recipe that I often use, and thought I would share with you. It came to me in a flash of inspiration one Tuesday night when I felt I deserved a touch of luxury. Like TV cook Lorraine Pascale, I aim for utter simplicity, which is why my two favourite cooking appliances are the freezer and  the microwave.

Crunchy chocolate ice cream

  1. Scoop a generous amount of vanilla ice cream into an individual serving bowl
  2. Break up three of four chocolate biscuits of your choice and sprinkle over ice cream

As with all classic recipes, you can ring the changes.  Once, in the absence of biscuits, I threw over a handful of dry roasted peanuts, which produced an end result somewhat similar to Snickers.

Do please post more variations.


Love at the pub

 A rush of red hearts in the card shops  –  it’s Valentine’s Day again. I am, of course, delighted if you will be sipping Cava by candlelight, your eyes meeting across two dozen red roses. But please spare a thought for those of us who are less fortunate.

I hear there’s a special ‘Valentine’s For Lovers’ menu at The Red Lion  – chicken nuggets and chips, £12 for two.

Although quite how that’s supposed to stoke the fires of passion, I have no idea.

Dangerous dogs

There have been sightings recently of a broad-skulled dog with a studded collar running loose in the children’s playground in Smith’s Field. It may not be a pit bull terrier. But it certainly looks like it. Our local police community support officer has been informed.

As you know, I have never owned a dog. (We have, in the Harmsworth household, limited ourselves to goldfish.) But I can appreciate that the joy of owning a hairy pet can sometimes override the disadvantages of muddy sofa covers, scratched floors and a lingering air of recent flatulence. It is, as they say, a ‘lifestyle choice’.