In a fun-packed issue tonight, The Slog delves into the vexed issues of open fires, all things bucolic, beers too alcoholic, unreliable Ukrainian reportage and the bizarre mathematical calculations of health bureaucrat Jenny Harries
Starting today, Winter is allegedly going to stage its Last Stand by giving us five nights of sub-zero temperatures. In my gite here I have a real-fire “insert” that blazes away happily behind its glass, and in some ways it’ll be sad to (probably) stop using it later in the coming month. However, in myriad other ways, it won’t. This might all sound a little “Bah! Humbug”, but real fires have to be cleaned out and the ash thrown away. It gets windy here of a winter’s morning, and so many’s the time Fire Man returns indoors looking like Grey Zombie the Snowman thanks to the ash hitting the fan.
Even when there’s no wind, ash has an uncanny knack of drifting about before landing on newly-washed black jeans, desert-boot footwear and the black tie you put on for Jean-Claude’s funeral later. Ash doesn’t brush off. It kind of expands with only slight dilution, and it’s a major error to be persistent unless you’re trying to achieve the effect of an old cretin whose damp clothing has been gradually consumed by fungus. At my age, it’s a very fine line indeed between looking cool and looking homeless.
Smoke escapes when one opens the glass to replenish the several large trees engaged in the process of becoming ash, and in that smoke are tiny particles involved in the transmutation. More commonly referred to as dust, these settle on every piece of furniture in the room and in a chap’s head hair – also adding body to any glass of wine left unattended for too long.
Last but not least, every insert fire has its own little idiosyncracies because more often than not, they have been made and/or fitted by French people. The one I wound up with has a choice of two output levels, factory steel moulding and ‘out’. One false move, and the user can rush from being polar explorer to nudist and back again in the space of a few minutes.
But visitors do like the smell of a real fire. Such is lost on the owner, because one’s nasal passages adapt to the constant aroma and screen it out. It’s my theory that in fact the facial hooter’s interior needs regular excavation of all the ash up there, but I couldn’t swear to it.
Engaged as I am at the moment in trying to sell Sloggers’ Roost, it is amusing to observe stars in the eyes of metropolitan victims trying to escape the City-Covid-face-nappy nightmare in favour of the bucolic life in Aquitaine. “Ah, the wonderful smell of burning aged oak” they say on entering the property. I smile and give a slightly knowing nod, my lips remaining sealed on the ash issue.
‘Bucolic’ is one of those odd words that really shouldn’t mean what it does – viz, Green Acres and the honest life of the paysan. It’s a word that ought to be medical.
“There’s a new virus variant,” claims the Bloomberg news hack, “which could preface a 21st Century Black Death called Bucolic plague”. Or alternatively:
“I went darn the doctors’ dinneye,” said Isadora Wettleg based in the Suffix County town of Lower Spigot, “an’ ‘e tol’ me, roight, that my little angel ‘as got a terrible case of projectile bucolic”.
“My husband so enjoyed the bucolic life, he became a hopeless buc addict. So he gave up bucs, but wound up a hopeless alcoholic”.
The lack of intellectual stimulation available in la vie bucolique makes such a Rake’s progress entirely credible.
The bucolic life’s tendency to evoke incredible boredom relieved by the consumption of strong alcohol is well-catered for in France – probably still the most agriculturally biased major nation in the EU. There is one particular brand based in Alsace called Fischer, which specialises in finer brews using somewhat off-piste ingredients – for example, three types of relatively rare hops.
This sounds very cerebral and discerning, but in reality Fischer beers are ‘get-you-pissed’ as much as anything else. However, they make a very nice “apero” beer at 5.5%, and so – having a few months back noticed the 3-hops line extension (I’m not supposed to drink wheat beers) I decided to give ‘les trois houblons’ a whirl.
The result was more whirly-pits than whirl. Using extra-strong spectacles halfway down the bottle, with difficulty I focused on an alcohol level claiming to be 7.2%, although had it said 72% I’d have gone along with the verdict.
Most brewers have at least one very strong beer in their output. Many years ago while still in the advertising business, I pitched for an 8% beer and – trying to sound tuned-in to the beerage class – asked the marketing director, “What role does this product fulfil in your portfolio?”
His reply was a classic of wit:
“I couldn’t define for you its role in our portfolio, but I certainly can give you a very clear consumer role….it’s a major leap forward on the way to meths, and it’s job is to dull the pain of rising pavements”.
MSM words are infinitely more easy to lampoon than ‘bucolic’ and ‘portfolio’. Unfortunately, they are in turn far more dangerous, thanks to the deadly match between between gullible recipient and plausible propagandist.
Let’s start with the Ukraine thing. “Russian leader’s top brass afraid to reveal Ukraine invasion blunders, claims Sir Jeremy Fleming, head of the GCHQ intelligence agency”. What you’re being asked to believe there is that plucky Ukraine is pushing the Russian bear back. Even sillier is this bit of British arms-dealer jingoism, “How a British-made missile launcher helped keep Vladimir Putin’s army at bay”. (Both courtesy of the Daily Telegraph)
If you want to read the full range of completely bonkers somethings, then this is the link to today’s Washington Post – which saw fit to completely ignore the noose tightening around the scrawny necks of the Biden crime family in the Ukraine theatre.
Or if you want the erudite and awake American empiricists’ pov, you could do a lot worse than tune in to Helena Glass’s latest post showing just how brazen this attempt by the sons of the Dallas shooters around Potus is to hide their hegemonist aims.
But I leave you tonight in the same vein of humour as I began. The London Times warns us that we must ‘keep on wearing masks because of high levels of coronavirus’, quoting the same UK Health Security Agency that has been dependably wrong about everything to do with the viruvaccine Covid 19 nonsense since Day 1.
Indeed, Dr Jenny Harries – boss of the UKHSA (clumsily renamed disaster area formally known as PHE) said that “3.5 million people in England have had coronavirus in the past week”.
Think about that insane statistic for a few seconds. Covid 19 has been around in Britain for just over two years. There are fifty-two weeks in a year…..so 104 weeks so far.
3.5 million times 104 comes to 364 million. The UK population – even allowing for deliberate migrant undercounting – is in the region of 80 million.
So at that rate, Ms Harries wants us to believe that – despite lockdowns, masks, social distancing, “life-saving” vaccines and vaxx passports – this virus is still infecting us at a rate high enough to give natural immunity to a population four and a half times bigger than ours.
There are only three countries on the planet with over 300 million citizens: China (1.33 billion), India (1.17 billion) and USA (307 million).
There are some irreparably stupid people out there.