Although today isn’t going to figure in my Top 100 at the Gates of wherever I wind up, it has been one of the best ever examples of the old Buddhist adage, ‘Good will always come from bad’. Having had my Gmail account blagged, most of my contacts got a semi-literate email suggesting I’d been mugged at knifepoint in Madrid. It was, of course, a scam organised by mysterious Masonic supporters of Piers Morgan, and also a naked attempt to get money out of my friends and fans.
To say it messed up my day would be something of an understatement. I went round in the usual circles with Google, who were about as useful and effective as a colander in an Atlantic storm. Every Help message, Chat Room and Emergency thingy I went to promised THIS will work, but none of it did.
But the pleasing result was that mates from around the world emailed, texted and phoned. They offered everything from sarcasm, irony, and genuine sympathy at my plight. Quite a few asked what I’d been doing in Madrid, and had I tried the British Consulate for help. But the bottom line was lots of fun conversations with folks I hadn’t heard from in a while.
Another good result was that my post about it at The Slog got nearly 1,000 hits. The vast majority were David Icke apostles suggesting I learn Venusian, but hey – it’s all good for the stats.
Before the problem emerged, however, I had been John of Greengages. My elder daughter is addicted to greengage jam, and as she’ll be here in a couple of weeks, I was collecting the fruit on a near-industrial scale. It’s by far the easiest jam to make (because it tastes great almost no matter what you do) but the hardest to make set (because it requires little or no sugar). So the trick is to pick them on the early side, and then add special jam-setting sugar.
As for the mirabelles, there are now so many that I’ve been reduced to inventing a new harvesting method: shaken and stirred. You lay a waterproof outside tablecloth on the ground, and shake the branches. That’s it. We have two enormous buckets in the cellar containing air-tight bin bags – covered in wall-bricks to stop nosey wildlife getting in – and they’re crammed with ripe mirabelles. I reckon the only practical way to use them up is going to be fermentation and then bottling. Alcohol is filthy stuff, but needs must.
Tomorrow will be mainly prunes. You can dry, salt, cook-and-freeze, jam, or make liqueur from prunes. The last of these requires patience and rough Armagnac, but it’s a wonderfully forgettable experience when you drink it, in that it produces a trance-like state few other chemical equations can. The hangover the following day, however, is unforgettable.