Monthly Archives: December 2018

Dough comfort

The ginger biscuit dough yesterday looked a bit funny. Not that I am worried. The biscuits will either work. Or they won’t. And what’s 300 failed biscuits between friends?

I used my trusted and very worn Vår Kokbok from the mid 1970s. Mother-of-witch equipped me well when I left home. I first made ginger biscuit dough all by myself the first Christmas in the Brighton Bookwitch Towers.

That was the day when the Resident IT Consultant went out shopping for all our Christmas needs. After multiple trips lasting until about four pm I was hungry and wanted us to eat lunch. He looked at his watch and conceded that OK, we could have an early lunch! Turns out his watch had stopped and he’d been on eleven o’clock all day.

Anyway, I was worried about my dough, because every single year when Mother-of-witch made it, we never knew if the biscuits would fall to bits or not. So instead of asking for her recipe – as she never remembered from one year to the next which one she picked last year – I turned to my very own Vår Kokbok, where it said that this dough rolls out really nicely and there need be no concerns about how it handles.

So yesterday I just wanted to read that sentence again.

It wasn’t there. All these years I’ve been calmed by a non-existent reassurance.

Having said that, the biscuits have always been fine. None of the older generation’s issues.

I also made some soup. Kale soup was one of them. That well known Christmas speciality, which I discovered a few years ago was merely a family Christmas tradition and no one else makes it. It’s in Vår Kokbok too, but I can make it without looking in there now. Seeing as it’s such a tradition.

Finished my kitchen stint – the Resident IT Consultant had taken himself off to Edinburgh for the day – with a Temptation for our late dinner. Didn’t need Vår Kokbok for that either.

The bad deal

What a shame. A celebrity author who is hurt – or perhaps merely surprised – he doesn’t feature on any best books lists. Despite his books being liked by children!

Good grief.

Not DW this time, but his namesake David Baddiel, about whom I’ve previously said not altogether lovely things. I note how naïve I was, now that I’ve read this blog post by Gareth P Jones. (Who, incidentally came up with a very similar title to his post. Great minds.) Gareth is an actual children’s author. The not rich kind.

The kindest and fairest thing I can say to Mr Baddiel is that he might be quite a good author of children’s books. I don’t know, obviously, not having been supplied with a copy when I didn’t want to engage in one-sided publicity for him. However, there are a lot of quite good authors out there. And they can’t all make the best lists, no matter how much they wish.

I know this because I very recently looked through my 2018 books, and having only read somewhere between 100 and 150 books, some of which don’t qualify for best of Bookwitch rules, I had to discard a big number of really excellent books. Books I’d enjoyed a lot. Because I’d enjoyed a few others even more.

That’s how lists work. It’s rather like winning Wimbledon. They are playing because they are the best, and they don’t finish until the bestest of them all has beaten the rest.

The ones that disappeared

Unlike the Rohingya refugees that you can at least see, however awful their reality, there are others whose fates are not worse, maybe, but they are invisible. Or so it seems.

Zana Fraillon has written a story about three children, presumably sold into slavery by their [unaware] families. Or they were simply picked up from a problematic situation after some disaster or other.

I’d have liked knowing where Zana’s The ones that disappeared is set. But perhaps it makes no difference. This kind of thing exists in many places, and this way no one is excluded.

Zana Fraillon, The ones that disappeared

The children manage to escape, but that only sets in motion new problems. They are illegals, and they are frightened, not to mention hungry and cold and tired, and they don’t know who to trust. When one of them is split from the others, they meet another child; not a slave, but a boy with concerns of his own.

The reader follows the children as they try to make the best of a bad situation. This is a children’s book and you’d want, even expect, a solution to the dire circumstances they are in. But how realistic would that be? And we know that life is rarely perfect.

Will the injured child die? Will any of the others? There would appear to be no responsible adults anywhere, and children need those if things are to normalise.

It’s inspiring, not to mention astounding, to see how capable such young children are. Can be. Have to be. And then you realise how impossible the situation is. There are slaves like them everywhere, controlled by bad adults who lie to them.

While the rest of us don’t see them, even when they are right there under our noses.