Daily prompt: Quinoa


Quinoa looks gritty. Don’t know whether it is. Don’t care. Don’t plan on finding out.

Course it probably isn’t. Gritty. What with being the latest superfood and all. You can con all of the people some of the time and some of the people etc, but if it was as gritty and boring as it looks, food production companies wouldn’t be spending the squillions they are to flood the shelves with it, and paying people to rant on about its phenomenally stupendous health benefits. Because the general public would give it the two fingered salute sooner rather than later, being connable but not, on the whole, masochistic, and the companies would be out of pocket and stuck with warehouses full of unsaleable grit. Company shareholders wouldn’t like that, and company CEOs are, let’s face it, more interested in shareholder happiness than in public inner health.

Look what happened to kale juice. It might make your eyes sparkle and your hormones sing, but only the most fanatically dedicated could endure the truly horrible, hold-your-nose-as-you-drink taste of the stuff and not even hospital coffee bars and canteens (full, perforce, of the most health-conscious captive audience even created) stock it in their cold cabinets.

They do, however, have row upon row of coconut water. I thought coconuts produced milk, but presumably that’s because I don’t eat enough quinoa to know my arse from my elbow.



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Daily prompt: Yay, way to go!


We humans are very good at ‘savage’. Not content with the physical kind – although there’s still more than enough of that around – we have gone on to develop emotional, social and financial savagery into fine arts.

I don’t know if cave men practised social savagery, but it’s certainly existed for far longer than I care to think: slavery, sweated labour, child labour, class suppression, racial suppression…War… There might have been a vague excuse for it once: we knew no better; believed that these divides and inequalities were the natural order of things. But we do know better now – or pretend we do. But we still go on exploiting each other with brutal insensitivity and as much vigour as we think we can get away with, without being called on it.

Financial savagery, now – we’re not even likely to be called on that. It’s fashionable. Admirable. Maul, suck dry, cheat, undermine, overwhelm… However you manage to end up with the financial prize is just fine as long as you win, and never mind the carnage or the collateral damage. If you even notice, given current levels of consuming self-interest.

But despite all this, in some ways emotional savagery is the cruellest of all. You can survive social and financial drubbings if your inner self is still intact: your soul, your heart, your ego, your self-belief – whatever you like to call it. Once that’s gone, you’re in real trouble. And it seems that destroying other people’s self-belief is the game du jour: get yourself to social media and poke as many sticks in as many eyes as you can possibly manage. Vent that spleen. Spread that bile.

The veneer of civilisation is depressingly thin.


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Daily prompt: I’ll keep my ballpoint, thanks


Whenever I see auctioneers waxing lyrical about antique inkstands, I’m always slightly bemused.


I know auctioneers are paid to wax lyrical about everything, and I know antique inkstands can be things of beauty in themselves. But I have to wonder how many auctioneers experienced the reality of using a pen that you had to dip in the ink every few words. Did any of them sit at school desks like this




with inkwells like this filling the appropriate hole at the top?


Well I did, you see.




And while I didn’t use a quill (old yes, antique not yet) I did learn to write using a steel-nib pen like this and there wasn’t anything particularly lyrical about the experience. Those pens had minds of their own. They crossed their nibs, spat blots, ran dry mid-word and splayed out like the legs of stubborn donkeys when pushed too hard.

And then there was the ink. It was mixed from powder and inkwells were topped up about once a week. But if the ink was getting low, you were quite likely come up with a glob of sludge when you dipped, with very messy results.

So I can’t get too excited about inkstands and even less excited about the quills that might have dipped into them. They might look romantic in hindsight, but I’m sure they caused their users endless trouble and countless rewrites.


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Daily prompt: A tribute to political incorrectness


A long time ago when my children were small, you could get (and many did) a child’s harness with a lead attached, to tether your child to you (or to the pram of an even smaller child if, like me, you had them all two years apart) as you walked down the street.

Presumably those of delicate sensibilities (and probably no children) objected to these harnesses. Perhaps they thought it smacked of walking the dog and was therefore offensive. But see, you tether the dog to stop it running away from you, possibly into the line of traffic or something similarly dangerous, and small children are equally impulsive and unpredictable. However ‘good’ a mother you are, you can’t foresee your child’s every move, and some of those moves can leave you gasping. There was method in those harnesses, and the children themselves didn’t see anything doggy about them, so why the fuss?

But they went anyway, just as a timely smack on a nappied bottom went – something my children were also subjected to. Fortunately they assure me it didn’t scar them for life.

I can see that smacking had to go. It’s far to open to abuse. But there are times – oh yes, there are times! – when I still can’t help feeling that a short, sharp, well-placed smack would work wonders. And not all the recipients would be small children.



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Daily prompt: Not glamorous, but interesting


My immediate reaction to ‘pluck’ is plucking chooks. Nothing beautiful, uplifting or spiritual about that, perhaps indicative of my plebeian soul. But nonetheless I do remember those chook-plucking sessions with fondness, possibly enhanced by the fact that the most memorable ones were just before Christmas. (We had chicken for Christmas, not turkey.)

Come the day, my dad and I would take ourselves out to the university farm (where my dad had free access to any produce on offer), the farm manager would wring the requisite number of necks (about 6, I think) and we’d bring the birds home to be suitable denuded.

Meanwhile Mum would have boiled the copper and the production line would commence, Dad at one laundry tub, Mum at the other. Each bird would be plunged into boiling water – a quick in and out – then Dad would strip off the feathers and pass the bird to Mum for cleaning – ie, a hand up the nether regions and a careful removal of guts.

This is a precise and delicate operation not for the faint-hearted, as breaking the gall bladder in the process means curtains for your chicken dinner. My mum was expert at it, and in hindsight (it didn’t occur to me at the time) I take my hat off to her. Nothing in her strictly correct and proper Victorian upbringing would have suggested that chickens had guts, let alone that she would one day learn how to remove them. I, meanwhile, was fascinated by the whole process. (My sisters not so much. Make that ‘not at all’.)

The other benefit of these chook-plucks was that we got to have chicken giblets for breakfast on Christmas morning. Again, you might shudder, but that would be because you’ve never sampled the delights of chicken livers, gizzards, hearts and necks (with skinned legs thrown in to thicken the broth) gently simmered to delicate toothsomeness. Poor you.

The downside of my close acquaintance with plucking chooks is that I am now quite critical of other people’s expertise (or lack of). All very well to buy your chickens ostensibly ready for cooking, but intensely annoying when you have to go over the bird removing pin feathers before it hits the oven. My parents would have been mortified if they’d missed a wisp.


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Daily prompt: How about something a bit more peaceful?


First we had scamper, then dash, and now we’ve got sail – an improvement as it involves less frenetic activity, but not something that inspires me to heights of creativity, even assuming I was familiar with creative heights.

For some people, sailing away on a cruise would be the height of enjoyment (if not creativity), but I am not one of them

The sailing away part would be fine – me, the limitless ocean, stops at interesting places… I could come to love that. But it wouldn’t be just me and the ocean, would it, and the thought of being trapped at sea with a few thousand strangers all out to Have a Good Time conjures up visions of Organised Games and Social Interaction that are enough to have me rushing (perhaps even scampering or dashing) for cover.

I am not good at group activities. Been there, done that. No more. Nor am I good at organised leisure time or organised tours. I want to see and do what I want to see and do, not what you think (knowing nothing about me) would interest me. And I want to see and do it in my own time and space, not at a time that suits you, and surrounded by those aforementioned strangers. Which quite possibly makes me a cranky old cow, but there’s nothing new in that.

Then there’s the food. Promos for cruises always wax lyrical about the food. ‘Fine dining’, they say. Or similar. And once again, this would be my idea of hell: trapped (even more tightly) at a table in front of a parade of courses, forced to sit there while more strangers exchange small talk, unable to leave without seeming crass and unmannerly – which I do try not to be however tempting.

Food and I are acquainted for reasons of survival. We do not do not spend hours in mutual love fests, and I’m pretty sure cruise managers count on foodie love fests to pass the time between organised activities. Which would leave me locked in my cabin for unspecified lengths of time. Cheaper to lock the front door at home.

And last but by no means least (for me) is the business of image. Participants in these sorts of cruises seem to like image – good gear, you know, and I simply don’t possess that kind of good gear, and would feel distinctly uncomfortable wearing it.

So that’s me done, for sail. See you tomorrow. All things being equal.


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Daily prompt: Which sort?


I like a bit of a dash – spray them around, in fact, like other people’s apostrophes: use them for colons and semi-colons because really, who cares? Or possibly even knows anymore…

I start sentences with ands and buts as well. Shame on me! Mr Ferguson and Miss Young would be spinning in their respective graves if they knew, but fortunately the grammatical shortcomings of former pupils aren’t likely to feature largely in eternal dreaming. At least imo.

Mind you, I have threatened to come back and haunt family members who say different to or different than instead of different from. Different from, folks. Different FROM! You don’t say I differ to you or I differ than you, so why foul it up if you use the word as an adjective instead of a verb? Yes OK, I have to admit I’m probably flogging a dead horse, but some of us die hard.

As for the other sorts of dash – you can forget the moving-fast one (see Scamper in previous post), but I suppose the dash-and-panache variety might have had possibilities. I do occasionally get glimpses of another me who might have enjoyed cutting a swathe through dreary convention and snotty pretension: sweeping past bitchiness with flip of the cloak or a smile and a joke. But Fate and Circumstance had other plans, which was no doubt just as well. Sustaining dash and panache would have been far too exhausting for such a dedicated sloth.


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