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Corona quarantine diary
Autor de la hebra: Mervyn Henderson

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 22:38
Miembro
español al inglés
+ ...
PERSONA QUE INICIÓ LA HEBRA
And finally ... Mar 26

... because I've got to get down to a few KKK here, a walk down memory lane with P.G. Wodehouse's lovable toff, Mr Wooster:




Now, I was dashed if I could find that cane. The day had started just like any other, though. I tottered in to the morning room for breakfast at a quarter past eleven, quaffed some excellent Darjeeling and wolfed down a couple of wonderful kippers my man Jeeves had thoughtfully kept nice and warm in a covered receptacle, but as I was adj
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... because I've got to get down to a few KKK here, a walk down memory lane with P.G. Wodehouse's lovable toff, Mr Wooster:




Now, I was dashed if I could find that cane. The day had started just like any other, though. I tottered in to the morning room for breakfast at a quarter past eleven, quaffed some excellent Darjeeling and wolfed down a couple of wonderful kippers my man Jeeves had thoughtfully kept nice and warm in a covered receptacle, but as I was adjusting my monocle to have a look at Aunt Agatha's shares in the Daily Telegraph, ironed like the very dickens into a crease sharper than Balfour’s trousers, dammee if that bally cane hadn’t disappeared off the face of the earth.

I called in my man, the aforementioned Jeeves, for to tell you the truth I had an unconfirmed suspicion with regard to the cane. Jeeves appeared within seconds. It’s uncanny, you know. He's not the kind of chap who gets down on his knees to peep through the keyhole at the Wooster residence so as to be constantly on hand for the master, but he seems to have a kind of sixth sense that keeps him hovering close by permanently. It must be the way they train them at the Academy for Gentlemen's Gentlemen he attended down in the wilds of Surrey. A place called Coydon, or Croydon, or perhaps it was Coyldon. Who knows. Who cares, come to that. He shimmered closer, tray in hand, tall and imposing, not quite fully erect as the lower orders can never be, for they have to incline slightly at the shoulders, don’t you know, to indicate a certain amount of deference to their masters and the powers-that-be, but imposing nevertheless. He seems to move as if propelled by a small motor on the soles of those highly-polished shoes, too. Sometimes I cock my ears and listen as he approaches, to see if I can detect any pneumatic thingummajigs or hydraulic what-d’ye-call-thems at work, but no, the whole thing seems to be fully corporal. But I digress horridly here, so back to the point.

“That cane of mine seems to have disappeared, Jeeves,” I asked. “Have you seen it anywhere?"

Now, Jeeves doesn’t actually raise his eyebrows, not as such, not anything that could actually be pinned down to a description of raising, no. He rarely shows expression. The blighter kind of wiggles them as only he can, and it was this eye-brow wiggling he availed himself of as he replied on this occasion:

“Your stick, sir? I took the liberty of putting it away, sir. In a wardrobe in the west wing. I’m afraid I did not realise you would be needing it.”

Stick. That word again. My bally suspicions were confirmed. Now, Jeeves has taste and Jeeves has class and Jeeves is the manservant par excellence, as Oofy Prosser is fond of saying down at the Drones Club – old Prosser has tried to pinch him off me more than once behind my back, and I am flattered and most relieved to say Jeeves has always refused, loyal old dog that he is – but when he gets a bee in his bonnet about certain things, he simply refuses to let it lie. It could be my choice of a waistcoat, it could be a natty hat I’ve picked up for a song, and for the last few weeks it had been this cane of mine. A gentleman’s gentleman cannot, of course, say these things outright, but Jeeves has his own little ways of making his displeasure apparent, and he had said that word “stick” a little too often lately for me not to notice. Jeeves did not appreciate my cane and had spirited it away to a place of safe custody, doubtless hoping I would forget about it.

Now, call me a silly and impressionable young upstart, but I had been thrilled with the new cane. So much so, I own I had gone straight home to show it off to Jeeves, and frankly I could sense the man's distaste from the word go.

“Look at that shiny silver top with "BW“ engraved into it, Jeeves. BW. Bertie Wooster. Isn't that something?”

My manservant was a little cool.

“A most interesting … item, sir, I admit. Might I make so bold as to ask where the young master acquired his, ahem … stick?”

“Cane, Jeeves, it’s a cane," I rapped. “And that’s the best thing about it. I didn’t buy it. It’s a present from little Daphne, bless the girl. Absolutely spiffing, don’t you know.”

I was beaming at the cane as I said this, so I couldn’t actually see how he took it, but I did feel a certain stiffening in the atmosphere. A chilliness, one might say. And I knew he knew where I’d got it, too, before I told him. The question had been a blind. As a rule Jeeves never approves of my lady friends, but it was obvious he had observed imminent danger in this one. Do you know, at the very outset the blighter had even gone so far as to say he had an acquaintance who used to work for Pinkerton’s, if I wanted to “ascertain the background of the young lady in question”, as he put it.

As you can imagine, we Woosters don’t hold with that sort of caddish talk concerning the object of our affections, and I told him so in no uncertain terms. He retired hurt, and he had good reason, too. I was so taken with this little darling. We had only known each other a few months since a cocktail party at the Bassington-Ffrench's pad in Shropshire, and, while I hadn't actually folded her in my arms and popped the question yet, decorum prevailing, I knew it was only a matter of time. Bertie Wooster was in love, right in it, wallowing in it, wading in it up to the neck, drowning in it and then some, as I believe they say in certain parts of Brooklyn. And Jeeves knew that, too.

Still, one has to be firm with the great unwashed, I thought. Got to thump them back into line before they start getting ideas above their station.

“It’s a cane, Jeeves,” I repeated sternly. “The word is cane. Not stick. It’s a cane. C-A-N-E, cane. Now go and get said cane, will you, there's a good fellow. I'm due at the Drones in an hour."

He shimmied off dutifully, but left the rebellious atmosphere behind, hanging around like an unpleasant shroud.

A few days later I was happily toying with a whisky and soda in the library when the telephone rang. Had to answer it myself, a dashed nuisance, for that morning Jeeves had suddenly asked me to change his afternoon off for an important sally of his. Very polite about it he was, as was his wont, but I suspected he was still feeling sore about the Cane & Girl histoire, and this was his way of passively showing his discontent.

“Wooster Residence,” I said grandly into the instrument.

I could hardly hear the voice at the other end. Blow me if it wasn’t like the chap was whispering hoarsely into a handkerchief:

“Wooster? That girl of yours, guv’. The one that’s been over a few motor car bonnets. Round a few corners, so to speak.”

“What?” I spluttered. “Who the devil is this? Do you mean Daphne, sir? How dare you, you absolute bounder? What do you mean by it? Of all the dashed …”

“Save it, moosh. Stow it. She’s in trouble, and that’s all you need to know. Better get yourself down to the Dog and Duck in Belgravia at the double if you want to sort things out.”

Click.

“Hello, hello? Who is this?” I demanded to know again. But that was all.

It was all I needed to know, too. My damsel was in distress and I had to save her.

I pulled on my hat and coat. Couldn’t find the cane, though. “That cad Jeeves again,", I thought, but it was hardly important, and so I rushed out to find a cab.

“Step on the gas,” I told the driver as we weaved through the London traffic, working myself deeper into my Sam Spade role by the minute. “There’s a guinea for you if you can get me there in ten minutes."

Well, the chap drove like a genuine hero, and it wasn’t long before I was striding purposefully into the Dog and Duck. There weren’t many people in there, but I could just see dear little Daphne’s bobtail at the edge of one of the booths at the back. I was jolly well about to dive into whatever fray there might be, when through the glass screen in the next cubicle to my horror I saw her lean over and drape her arms over some man sitting next to her. I caught my breath as I tiptoed over and sat around the screen where I could hear them. It still makes the Wooster blood boil to think of it again, but this is what I heard:

“Oh, you are a one, you are, Tom Perkins," I heard as she backed out of a lingering bouche-à-bouche. “Stop fretting so. There’s nothing to worry about. The Wooster’s about to fall for it. I have the idiot eating out of my hand, especially since I gave him that rotten old stick you stole from that old fool Bartholomew Woolworth at the garden fête in Peckham. The initials worked a treat.”

“Bartholomew Woolworth,” I breathed, aghast. “BW. The scheming little …”

Her companion seemed a mite grumpy. He wasn’t convinced.

“How long’s it going to be before we can get our hands on some of that money?” he griped.

“Tom, Tom my love, I'm sure he's going to pop the question any day now. Then, just as soon as I have that ring on my finger, I'll walk him up the aisle before you can say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Then we can do what we like, and if he wants to divorce me it'll cost him, I can tell you. I’ll get at least half his sponduliks, and we can clear out to New York or wherever we want. It’s in the bag, really it is.”

I crept out of the bar, crept into a cab, and crept back home. I was creeping around the lounge when Jeeves came in.

“Hullo Jeeves,” I said miserably. “Had a good afternoon off? Hopefully it was better than mine.”

“Very good, sir, thank you, sir. I had a very agreeable afternoon indeed with an … an acquaintance of mine, sir. I believe I mentioned him to you the other day, sir."

There was something about the way the cove said it that made me look up.

“Is there anything I can get you, sir?"

“No Jeeves." I thought for a minute. “Oh, but there is something you can do for me. Go and find that stick of mine and burn it. Burn it to a cinder and throw the ashes to the four winds afterwards, will you? I never want to see the blasted thing again."

“Your cane, sir?" I couldn't tell whether the blighter's face showed triumph or surprise.

“No, Jeeves. Not the cane. The stick. S-T-I-C-K, stick. Burn that stick.”

It was triumph, I could tell this time.

“Very good, sir. Thank you, sir. Thank you.”

And, as he moved away to the door, I saw a crumpled handkerchief drop to the floor from his pocket.

“Jeeves.”

“Sir?”

“While you’re at it, you might step out and send a little wire to Miss Daphne telling her I’ve gone away. To France. Africa. Australia. Somewhere far away. The farther the better. For at least the next ten years, something like that.”

Could the beggar be smiling? It was so hard to tell.

“I hope you will excuse me, sir, but I have already taken the liberty of doing so. I mentioned some urgent business over several years in Tuscany, sir. Thank you, sir.”

And, before the little motor propelled him doorwards, I spoke again:

“And, Jeeves …”

“Sir?”

"Thank you, Jeeves. Well done, thou good and faithful servant and all that.”

He had the good grace to pretend not to have a bally clue what I was talking about, and allowed an air of vague perplexity to cross his features.

“My pleasure, I’m sure, sir.”




[Edited at 2020-03-26 09:56 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-26 09:58 GMT]
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Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
 

Beatriz Ramírez de Haro  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 22:38
Miembro 2008
inglés al español
+ ...
Thanks Mervin Mar 27

Your diary makes my quarantine so much nicer!

[Edited at 2020-03-27 07:26 GMT]


 

RobinB  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 15:38
alemán al inglés
Make your own face masks Mar 27

The President of the German Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer) is appealing for everybody to wear simple face masks when they're outside the home. Press release (in German):

https://www.bundesaerztekammer.de/presse/pressemitteilungen/news-detail/reinhardt-raet-zum-tragen-von-einfachen-schutzmasken/
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The President of the German Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer) is appealing for everybody to wear simple face masks when they're outside the home. Press release (in German):

https://www.bundesaerztekammer.de/presse/pressemitteilungen/news-detail/reinhardt-raet-zum-tragen-von-einfachen-schutzmasken/

On-the-fly translation:
"Even wearing simple masks can help curb the spread of the coronavirus"... Simple masks made from cotton or other materials are just a workaround, but they're better than nothing, he said. "My advice is to get hold of simple masks or make them yourself and wear them whenever you're in public spaces. Masks like this can't guarantee that you won't get infected, but they can help a bit to reduce the risk of infecting other people or getting infected yourself."

He then goes on to say that people should not use or buy professional masks, which must be reserved for patients and healthcare workers only.

We should all follow this advice, wherever we live. Anything and everything that helps cut the spread of the virus at this critical time is worth doing.

#Keepcalmandsewmasks #Atamemberssewingmasks
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Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member because it was not in line with site rule

Zibow Retailleau  Identity Verified
Isla Mauricio
Local time: 00:38
Miembro 2019
inglés al chino
+ ...
April Fool's Day Mar 28

The Mauritian PM said last evening that shops would reopen on 1 April. Today is the third day of this extreme lockdown. Three online shops are supposedly still operating. Practically everything in these shops is sold out, though. What are you going to do with just olive oil, I wonder? Make a tree leaf salad? In one of my friends' area, some households hang red flags outside their houses to signify their hunger.

'Who will come to their rescue?' I asked.

'Don't know,' she
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The Mauritian PM said last evening that shops would reopen on 1 April. Today is the third day of this extreme lockdown. Three online shops are supposedly still operating. Practically everything in these shops is sold out, though. What are you going to do with just olive oil, I wonder? Make a tree leaf salad? In one of my friends' area, some households hang red flags outside their houses to signify their hunger.

'Who will come to their rescue?' I asked.

'Don't know,' she answered.

I hate to imagine the guaranteed chaos on 1 April. But who knows? Because of the obvious food shortage, maybe the lockdown will be extended. Luckily, there are trees in the garden. Tree leaves in abundance.


I would like to thank you, Mervyn, for starting this post and your contribution to it. It's comforting to have a space to share our experiences amid this havoc.

Stay safe and stay strong!
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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 16:38
Miembro 2005
inglés al chino
+ ...
Not wearing masks to protect against coronavirus is a ‘big mistake,’ top Chinese scientist says Mar 28

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/not-wearing-masks-protect-against-coronavirus-big-mistake-top-chinese-scientist-says

Angie Garbarino
 

Brian Joyce  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
francés al inglés
Mad dogs and Englishmen Mar 28

Hello all
Zibow, I must say I have much more sympathy for those that are hungry, then those that have Covid. Why, well because hunger is a terrible pain I can sympathise with.
Our fair and noble Prime minister has gone down with the virus, this has already raised a frenzy of debate about the "rise of the immune". In a little while we will know if the PM is immune or not, but if he is immune that raises questions about the role of testing in identifying the im
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Hello all
Zibow, I must say I have much more sympathy for those that are hungry, then those that have Covid. Why, well because hunger is a terrible pain I can sympathise with.
Our fair and noble Prime minister has gone down with the virus, this has already raised a frenzy of debate about the "rise of the immune". In a little while we will know if the PM is immune or not, but if he is immune that raises questions about the role of testing in identifying the immune , and their eventual role in the virus environment.
I am sure you all have your thoughts about this, is it madness to accept the idea that your going to get Covid anyway no matter how many precautions you take. And some people are saying it may be better to get it early, so that you be part of the immune community and help get society back on its feet.
Here for now we can still go food shopping in relative calm, but for how much longer? Maybe next week it will be me with the red flag.
Take care. B
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Yolande Hivart
Austria
Local time: 22:38
Miembro 2016
alemán al francés
Who wants to be the next guinea pig? Mar 28

I find it mad to want to be the first one to get it to be immunized while hospitals are overcharged and there is neither tested medication nor vaccine.
I for my part even if I would have to get it or to be immunized do not want to be in the first wave.
Thank God, I have been accepted for the government emergency grant for lost earnings.
For now i can see the next month a little less worried, only go out for shopping once a week and for the rest of the time only spend time at ho
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I find it mad to want to be the first one to get it to be immunized while hospitals are overcharged and there is neither tested medication nor vaccine.
I for my part even if I would have to get it or to be immunized do not want to be in the first wave.
Thank God, I have been accepted for the government emergency grant for lost earnings.
For now i can see the next month a little less worried, only go out for shopping once a week and for the rest of the time only spend time at home or on my balcony.
I have lots and lots of book to read to improve my translation skills.
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Kay Denney
 

Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Miembro 2004
italiano al alemán
+ ...
Why has this thread disappeared from the homepage? Mar 30

(and also from "recent forum posts")? At least I can find it only through the history in my browser...

Hoping everyone is fine.


Fatine777
 

expressisverbis
Portugal
Local time: 21:38
Miembro 2015
inglés al portugués
+ ...
Where is the continuation of the current diary? Mar 31

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

“Government bought faulty coronavirus tests from unlicensed Chinese company”, thundered the headline in the rag this morning. It had to come. PM Sánchez’s hair is getting greyer by the day, and he’s only just turned 48 (technically, he's actually only 12 years old - born on 29 February 1972). The moaners and groaners in the opposition moaned and groaned that he had dragged his feet and, now he’s up and running, after going through the usual motions of pledging their support, they’re out for blood.

Down to El Corte Inglés to get in the goodies for the weekend. Only one escalator up now, and only one down, and not in the same area of the store either. And only two of the three entrances operational. The two-metre separation criterion meant that I started the queue right back near the end of the cheese ‘n’ cold meats counter. Not that that means anything to most of you, but suffice it to say that it’s a much longer distance than something very long indeed.

I’m fed up washing and cleaning afterwards, let me tell you. I washed all the plastic and tinfoil bits and pieces used to wrap up the ham and turkey and cheese, the Cornflakes packet, the plastic wrapping on the mozzarella, and even the cardboard around the beers, anything the employees’ corona-infested gloved hands, the cashier’s corona-infested gloved hands and my own corona-infested gloved hands had touched. Then I found I had to wash my hands again before I put all the meat and cheese into the tupperware containers in the kitchen, and then I picked up my big shopping bag where I’d put all this to put it away, found I’d forgotten to clean its bloody handles, cleaned them, washed my hands again and … then I remembered I had to go back down to the fruit and veg shop too. FFS ...

They reckon we’ll be out and about again by May. June, more like. Although Donald reckons the US will be back to work by Easter. By June he’ll be telling us that the original announcement was fake news on fake media by a fake Donald Trump. Jeez.

Have a good weekend!!


[Edited at 2020-03-27 16:20 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-27 16:46 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-27 16:49 GMT]


I hope you had a good and safe weekend.
Can you continue, please?
I hope everyone is doing well.


 

Tanja K  Identity Verified
Alemania
Local time: 22:38
inglés al alemán
It seems it has been moved Mar 31

Christel Zipfel wrote:

(and also from "recent forum posts")? At least I can find it only through the history in my browser...

Hoping everyone is fine.



Try: customize --> further customize forum posts --> then check the box for 'Covid-19 outbreak' list on homepage

This brought the thread back for me, and couple of other toppics I hadn't known about


Christel Zipfel
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 22:38
Miembro
español al inglés
+ ...
PERSONA QUE INICIÓ LA HEBRA
Wednesday 1 April ("White Rabbits", as they say in the UK on the 1st of the month - not sure why) Apr 1

OK, I’ve been dragging my feet on the quarantine diary. Given the interlude, I was initially going to write a hands-on (well, hands off, but you know what I mean) “report from a hospital in Bilbao”, but decided against it. As an April Fool, see. The date, see? But, really, it’s not a laugh.

Yes, it’s been a few days. I was woken up to it yesterday evening by Chris S writing in private (thanks Chris!). Reasons various, among which the corona struck a little too close for co
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OK, I’ve been dragging my feet on the quarantine diary. Given the interlude, I was initially going to write a hands-on (well, hands off, but you know what I mean) “report from a hospital in Bilbao”, but decided against it. As an April Fool, see. The date, see? But, really, it’s not a laugh.

Yes, it’s been a few days. I was woken up to it yesterday evening by Chris S writing in private (thanks Chris!). Reasons various, among which the corona struck a little too close for comfort on Saturday, entailing a lot of calls to doctors and waiting around, amid work and other things.

Plus I was pissed off, quite frankly. Bit of an incident on the Spanish forum, and my initial comment got zapped by Rule 9, which seems to read “Anyone who claims to be a translator can come along and laugh at the rest of you, but you’ll get zapped, not him, despite your 15-year membership and his one-day membership”. It irked me quite a bit, but thankfully my second comment was much better, and they left that one alone!

It had been a while since I’d been zapped, because I was a naughty boy some years ago and got zapped more than once, and even suffered the greying-out pending checking (all you see is the post in grey, and they keep the post for ages in, er, well, “quarantine” would be a good word) before it can go out. That went on for so long in the end that I contacted Jared about it, and to his credit he said Fair enough, and cancelled it.

Anyway, let’s get on with it. Next up …

Got a teenager at home studying for English literature exams? Forget those glossy little notes booklets. Want an insight into the mind of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the "Man who would be King, with a Bit of Help from Her Indoors"? Well, here you are then:

Imagine the scene. You’ve been working your tail off for the King of Scotland all afternoon, doing what you do best – severing heads with your trusty axe, in at the sharp end of the fray cleaving all around you, hacking people to death. A gory day, but also a glory day. You remark as much, in fact, to your comrade-in-arms Banquo, as you leave the battlefield: “So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” As you trek happily back to your castle to knock back a few wee drams and either exercise your seigneurial rights with one of the kitchen lassies, and/or give the missus an almighty seeing-to as the warrior’s repose, you hear that your boss is ecstatic with your prowess and outstanding loyalty. You would whistle “Perfect Day”, but Lou Reed won’t be around for another 800 or 900 years.

Alas, if only you hadn’t told the lady back in Inverness about the Witches ...

All hail to Macbeth, Macbeth King of Scotland, they had screeched at you. King of Scotland? King? Me? Me the King? But I can't be King, you think, I'm only a lord. There must be dozens of people in line for the throne … there's, let’s see, there’s the King himself, to start with, then there's his two sons, also the Earl of This, the Count of That, the Thane of the Other – the list of loyal subjects is endless. But wait - talking of loyalty, or lack of it, you remember that not only have you given the Norwegians a good kicking today, but one of your own who threw in his lot with the Scandinavians is even now being put to the sword on the wet Scottish heath, and you’ve been given his title and lands in view of your battle kill count. Not quite so endless after all, that list. And it could be cut back a little more, mayhap. Cut back, yes. CUT. The thought fairly gets your fingers a-tapping on the handle of that bloodstained sword of yours, doesn’t it?

Back in Inverness, although you’re obviously a tried and tested master butcher, you hadn’t realised your lady was such a homicidal maniac herself.
“The King and his entourage arrive at the castle this night,” she hisses in your ear. “Kill them all, Macbeth.” When you demur a little, you listen in awe as she tells you that, had she known its father was going to turn out to be such a fucking wimp, she would have ripped the new-born baby from her breast and bashed its brains out on the ground. Wow, you think. The triumphant strains of “I, I will be King, and you, you will be Queen” would come into your head, except David Bowie isn’t around yet to do Heroes.

So you can’t help moving on to the Dirty Deed itself. It’s easy, really - after a pleasant dinner with Their Royal Highnesses, you just tiptoe into the King’s chamber, deal him a quick one-two with your double-sided length of sharp cold iron, and later cry treachery by a few innocent guards, whom you instantly dispatch. Easy as falling off a caber.

It doesn’t end there, though. The two princes escaped, for one thing. You’re set to be crowned King, but people are already beginning to talk. There’s your crony Banquo, for example. He’s been moaning ever since the two of you met the Witches that they hadn’t prophesied anything good about HIM. Perhaps, you decide, life would be a mite easier if Banquo weren’t around anymore, and in 11th century Scotland there’s no shortage of likely lads who could help you out with Banquo for a consideration. Three of them, there were. Three of them in Macbeth’s case. Oh, what were their names, now? Let me see, they were called “First Murderer”, erm, “Second Murderer”, and … oh botheration, do you know, I can never remember the name of the third mur- … oh yes, “Third Murderer”, that was it.

Meanwhile, back at the castle, the situation is getting out of control. Even dead, Banquo keeps popping up everywhere to embarrass you. Your Trouble and Strife is going round the bend, and finally you’re rumbled and on a wanted list. You still clutch at the ultimate prophesy by the Witches, though – Macbeth cannot be killed by a man of woman born.

Beat that!!!

It definitely lulls you into a certain sense of security, and so you just can’t resist jeering about it to Macduff as the two of you battle it out at the end. Oh yeah? says Macduff, busy thrusting and parrying, What you don’t know is that I was born by Caesarean section, and so your “by woman born” bit doesn’t count.

What rotten luck, eh? And so you literally lose your head to Macduff. Rather unlikely, too, the Caesarean bit, but that’s the way Shakespeare has it.

...


[Edited at 2020-04-01 06:57 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-04-01 06:58 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-04-01 07:01 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-04-01 17:24 GMT]
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Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
expressisverbis
Yvonne Gallagher
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 22:38
Miembro
español al inglés
+ ...
PERSONA QUE INICIÓ LA HEBRA
And finally (again): Apr 1

Me, I've got 6K and a few more K to be getting on with, so I'm afraid I have to leave you with this one, which should keep you going for a bit. If you've read it before, well, then you've read it before, so tough luck. If you haven't, prepare yourself for dénouement. A tragic tale of the dismal demise of a rollicking writer who fell from favour. In my version he goes out with a bang, and deservedly so too:



Hôtel d’Alsace,
Rue des Beaux-Arts, Paris
... See more
Me, I've got 6K and a few more K to be getting on with, so I'm afraid I have to leave you with this one, which should keep you going for a bit. If you've read it before, well, then you've read it before, so tough luck. If you haven't, prepare yourself for dénouement. A tragic tale of the dismal demise of a rollicking writer who fell from favour. In my version he goes out with a bang, and deservedly so too:



Hôtel d’Alsace,
Rue des Beaux-Arts, Paris

29 November 1900

My darling Mosie,

It has taken me some time to pen this, which is likely to be my last missive. As you know, it has been over three years since I shook the filthy dust of Reading Gaol from my feet and began my voluntary exile in France. And some five years since I arrived at Newgate Prison, and thence to Pentonville and Wandsworth.

I recall that the constable, a rough-looking creature so impossibly ugly it actually hurt my eyes to contemplate him, jeered as he led me from the dock:

“Looks like you’se goin’ down for a few years, Wilde, you fackin’ Paddy queerboy.”

Dear me, I almost fainted with the aggressive vulgarity of it all, but I simply could not let that pass. I fixed him with one of my special stares - you know, that baleful one I reserve for sneering straights, which makes them so nervous and drives them into silence, and stood with arms akimbo, wrists on my waist and fingers pointing outwards, head cocked on one side. Drama, Mosie, drama. Drama or nought.

“Chief Superintendent”, I began sarcastically, “it so happens I have spent most of my adult life going down. I have turned it into an art form, in fact. You might say I have been there, done that, and got the two-tone pink weskit. I have partaken of every fruit in the orchard, my good man, including, like Adam and Eve, the Forbidden Fruit. Which, I might add, is the sweetest and most delicious fruit of all. Did you see that photographer as we left the dock, sir? It was me he was photographing, not you, obviously. Do you wish to know why, my friend? Because at the very least, Inspector, I have lived. I have lived life to the full. I have been wined and dined with such food and drink as you can only imagine at the best tables in London and the Home Counties, my plays and other works have been celebrated at theatres and publishing houses up and down the country, and I have had the great and the good hanging on my every word in the lounges of luxurious mansions of which you have never surveyed even the outside, let alone the interior, with the ladies giggling and blushing shyly behind their pretty fans, and the gentlemen scowling jealously at my easy wit and flamboyance and success with their dainty fillies, but grudgingly realising they must remain silent, powerless to match the master wordsmith in their midst.”

“I admit I have made mistakes”, I went on. “All men make mistakes and they learn, as do all women. The difference between men and women in this regard is that men learn so exceedingly well that they are invariably capable of repeating their mistakes in exactly the same way.”

I had the bounder under my spell, Mosie. His eyes bored into me.

“So, Sergeant”, I challenged him, “that has been my life. Now tell me about your own life. Tell me about those jolly evenings of yours after work at the Dog and Duck, swilling the vile otter’s urine that passes for ale there with your cronies. Your idea of merriment and wit is doubtless to break wind loudly as a comely wench sets down those foaming chipped glasses on the rickety table, treating her to a gratuitous whiff of your foul breath as you stare brazenly at the generous bosom jiggling temptingly beneath the white blouse and slur boozily, “If you’re sellin’ the puppies, Margie, I’ll give those pink-nosed beauties a good ‘ome, you see if I don’t, hur-hur-hur”. And later you wend your way back to the drab tumbledown hovel of a place you call home in the East End, heavy with the hum of the rotting corpses of dogs, cats, drunkards, beggars, streetwalkers and poor unwanted newly born infants rising up from the dark dank depths of the River Thames. Walking into the bedroom of that wretched abode your nostrils wrinkle, detecting the most nauseous flatulence, and there you find your lassie snoring her head off, in curlers, with her teeth in a dirty glass on the bedside table in a dreadful space so tiny there is no room to swing a mouse, never mind a cat. Yes, your unlovely lady. You know, in my heyday the audience included ladies who were inevitably overtaken by age, but they used their money and their power to purchase the best clothes and other accoutrements to conceal the passage of time as best they could. What unkind tongues might call “mutton dressed as lamb”, but for the female half of your luckless, loveless, lustless marriage it is simply a helpless, hapless, hopeless case of mutton dressed as mutton. You therefore decide to repair to a cold outside toilet for a short solo session to satisfy your pent-up baser urges, peering downwards into the grimy, heavily skidmarked underwear around your ankles, having had the foresight to plan ahead and keep an image in your mind’s eye of Margie’s quivering appendages to bring things nicely to fruition. Oh, and have you and her indoors been blessed with parenthood, Officer? A grunting herd of unruly, ill-mannered, inadequate inarticulate brats, mayhap, with the bleakest of futures before them, their only prospects being to join Mr Peel’s Finest and thus follow in their father’s footsteps or, better still, to enlist in the armed forces and have the splendid opportunity of travelling the world, meeting all kinds of people from different countries and cultures, and savagely bayoneting them to death in the sovereign name of Tricky Vicky, or Steady Eddie or whichever tiresome, arrogant handlebar-moustached oafish buffoon succeeds her on the throne of this green and pleasant land - which must surely be some time soon.”

“Yes, Constable”, I rapped, “That is the man you are - “A Man of No Importance”. I realise that the adroit reference in the five words I have just pronounced is lost on you now, and indeed shall be always, and I instantly regret having literally wasted my time by uttering them to you.”

I moved into position for the kill, shaking my head gently from side to side, head bowed. Then I raised it slowly, eyelids half-closed at first, and then suddenly opened them wide as I looked into his repellent features. Always theatrical, Mosie, theatrical or die:

“Yes, my good fellow, I am going to gaol tonight, but so are you. You shall go to a different kind of gaol, perhaps, but you are just as much a prisoner in your own private hellhole as I shall be. More so, in fact, because after all, I have been sentenced to only two years’ hard labour, and one day I shall have paid my debt to society and shall be released from the services of the State, whereas you have been sentenced to life, my friend, and I swear by all that is holy that you shall serve every single sad and sorry second.”

Do you know, sweet Mosie, I fancied I saw a little tear or two travelling down his cheek as he pushed me down the stairs and proceeded to kick the living daylights out of me. Violence, violence, it is the only language the lower orders understand ...

But, like that policeman, the only recipients of my words now make it all a waste of time. Farewell to the rousing applause. Adieu to all those packed West End drawing rooms. My theatre, hitherto full of cheery, happy faces, lit by dozens of fine chandeliers all around and alive with row upon row of ripples of laughter, is now only full of empty seats, dark as night, and silent as the grave, and I walk my deserted stage alone, driving my boots down especially hard as I do so in the desperate hope that the sharp echo of my footsteps on the boards shall drown out the cruel catcalls and merciless booing I hear in my head ...

I left Reading with that huge essay I was telling you about, the tortuous gloomy reflections of a young Irishman wracked with pain, smitten with the love that dare not speak its name for a member of the upper échelons of Albion’s high society. My publisher insisted on changing the name, however:

“Don’t be a fool, Oscar”, he warned me, “we can’t possibly bring it out as “Me and My Nob”.

“You are quite right”, I said. “It should properly be, of course, “My Nob and I”.

“No, no”, he sighed, “what I mean is the censors will be down on us like a ton of bricks from the word go.”

And so he plumped for “De Profundis”. A bit lame, I thought.

But why write or speak at all if it is not appreciated? Let me give you an example. In the first few days here in Paris, I got talking to a little Dubliner playing the violin outside Gare St Lazare. He offered to play a tune just for me, don’t you know. A famous melody, which instantly brought me back to the rolling hills and lakes of County Fermanagh I frolicked around when Mamma sent me to Portora Royal in Enniskillen to make a man of me. And make a man of me it did. O Mosie, such memories, playing with the big boys’ conkers behind the bicycle shed ...

“Oi tink ye’ll be knowin’ da Londonderry Air, so ye will, sorr,” said my violinist when he’d finished.

O, thank the Lord I was born in a respectable part of Dublin and studied at places such as Portora and Trinity College. Imagine the chagrin of having to speak like that all the time. And the name, Mosie, his given name! Seamus O’Sheugh. Heavens, I feel grubby just writing it, let alone saying it.

“Oh yes, the Londonderry Air. Naturally I am acquainted with it, my dear Seamus”, I simpered, “I have been intimate with many a London derrière, believe you me, but one of my main reasons for travelling here is to take a closer look at the Paris variety. Woo, woo!”

But damme if the confounded nincompoop merely looked at me blankly with knitted brows. The lights were on, but nobody home. Not a hint of a reaction. Pearls before swine, or I never saw it.

Nevertheless, despite his horrendous name, atrocious diction and dullness of intellect, Seamus was quite the gentleman (and a closet case, I suspect), and helped me out in all sorts of little ways. He assisted in getting me rooms and showed me around Paris. He also took me to a darling club in one of those seedy streets around Pigalle, “Les Garçons”, where there was nary a woman to be seen, apart from the owner, a rather severe-looking lady with close-cropped hair.

“She bats for de udder soide, Mister Woilde”, Seamus whispered to me at the bar.

I decided to take this as a fresh opportunity, and so I tried again:

“Well”, I quipped, “if she bats for the other side, she may also have bowled many a maiden over. Woo, woo!”

The man just stood there looking at me quizzically. For God’s sake …

“A maiden over”, I repeated, helplessly. “You know. Maiden – maiden over. As in cricket. And, er … knocked her for six on a deliciously wet sticky wicket, perhaps … er, howzat?”

“How’s what, sorr?” was all he said, so I let it lie.

The sign outside “Les Garçons” was rather naughtily tongue-in-cheek, I thought – it said “Members Only”. Smiling devilishly, I had just opened my mouth to address Seamus on the subject in jest, but I closed it again because I was rapidly coming to the conclusion there was little point in such an enterprise with the likes of Mr O’Sheugh.

Considering the ghastly murders in Whitechapel a few years ago, the stage name of the star turn at “Les Garçons” was in rather bad taste, but I suppose Jacques Le Stripper was as good a name as any for an entrepreneuse to pull in the crowds. Our Jacques was from the colonies, big and black as a badger’s bottom. He came on and stripped, and then danced and strutted around for a while totally naked. There was even a contest one night. We paid a few coins for a ticket to guess the weight of a particular part of his body – no prizes for guessing which, my boy - and the prize was none other than a tête-à-tête with its proud owner the following evening. After a while a bald man came out with a special set of elongated scales, and Jacques laid his monster out on them. What luck - mine was the closest guess at a whopping 12 ounces! As for my winnings, I was anxious to avoid any scandals with M. le Juge, and in that regard I could not take any chances with my busybody landlady, who was always prowling around. I thus implored Jacques to be discreet when he arrived at my rooms, and the darling man complied wonderfully. He dutifully slipped in the tradesman’s entrance and came up my back passage. Woo, woo!

But that was some years ago, and now I am ill, dreadfully ill. Ill and practically penniless, and I feel the end is near. Ever since I moved to this mean little hotel, my wallpaper and I have been fighting a duel to the death, Mosie, and one of us has got to go.

The publisher was kind enough to send over a man to make some arrangements for me, but I am afraid to say that lately the only arrangements he is making are for my impending demise. The other day he was writing things down in a little book, and at one point enquired softly whether I would care to be placed in Père Lachaise cemetery when the time came.

Prostrate on my horrid bed and hardly able to move, I gave him a weak little smile and proffered my thanks, but shook my head and told him I would not be seen dead in the place. Can you believe he actually wrote that down in his notebook, Mosie?

Bless the man, he also wanted to know what kind of casket I should prefer:

“There is the classic wooden variety, sir”, he told me, “although there are also versions made of specially strengthened kraft paper and other materials.”

My breathing was very laboured by now, and I said very slowly:

“My dear fellow, my frenzied past is littered with amorous encounters, but I have now reached the stage where I care very little whether I get wood or whether I do not get wood.”

Another of those puzzled looks, dearest Mosie. The end was coming fast, and frankly I was beginning to wish it would arrive a little faster. But no, there was even more disappreciation torture in store for me:

"And, er, Mr Wilde, would you like any music at the, er, event, sir? Something sober and appropriate … some, er, Gregorian chants, perhaps?”

Lord knows, Mosie, I did my level witty best until the bitter end:

“Given the state of my finances, my good man”, I croaked, “chance’d be a fine thing.”

I then watched in utter disbelief as the fool nodded and repeated it slowly while writing it down, “All right, so that’s … Gregorian … chants … a … fine … thing. Got that, sir”.

My time is up, Mosie. It is time for me to Meet my Maker. Love to you and the pretty boys always, and the last quip is for you, dear lad, for I am dying beyond my means. Woo … woo … woooooooo ….

...
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Chris S
expressisverbis
Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
Yvonne Gallagher
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 22:38
Miembro
español al inglés
+ ...
PERSONA QUE INICIÓ LA HEBRA
Thursday 2 April Apr 2

“Six residents dead and 35 infected at an old people’s home in Balmaseda”, sighs the headline in the rag. Are we still allowed to say “old people’s home”? Or is it a home for the elderly? Please don’t tell me it’s a third-age residence or something similar. Oh, I've got it now - "senior citizens' home". Don’t know about other countries, but up and down this one they all seem to be death traps for both residents and staff, whatever they're called. Balmaseda, incidentally, is fam... See more
“Six residents dead and 35 infected at an old people’s home in Balmaseda”, sighs the headline in the rag. Are we still allowed to say “old people’s home”? Or is it a home for the elderly? Please don’t tell me it’s a third-age residence or something similar. Oh, I've got it now - "senior citizens' home". Don’t know about other countries, but up and down this one they all seem to be death traps for both residents and staff, whatever they're called. Balmaseda, incidentally, is famous for its re-enactment of the crucifixion at Easter, with a young bearded bloke tramping through the streets bearing his cross. Easter, of course, has been cancelled everywhere. No need for it – plenty of crosses already being borne around here. And it’s not just Pilate busy washing his hands either.

And plenty of accusations too from Philistines and Pharisees in the corridors of power, but not many Samaritans to be seen. Again, I imagine it’s the same in other countries, but here after a period of grace amid solemn declarations … solidarity in this hour of need … we shall fight as one on our balconies … totally at the disposal of the government of the day … lighting a glimmering candle of hope [candle of hope?] … unswerving belief in the final victory … we shall fight as one in our lounges … putting aside individual interests for the common good … we shall fight as one in our kitchens … our day will come … we shall fight as one in our toilets … etc., it’s now business as usual for lawmakers and moaning minnies, and so shit-stirring is back on the agenda again.

I don’t have so much work these days, but I do miss my cheerful secretary. Well, assistant, really. Yes, an assistant. She’s been with me for yonks now. Years back work was becoming too much for little me, so I put an ad in the paper, and among the candidates was Idoia. She arrived for interview at the office one troublesome afternoon. If you’ve heard this one before, by the way, just stop me …

“Good afternoon”, she smiled to me at the door. “My name’s Idoia. The interview for the assistant/secretary?”

“Er yes, Miss, how are you”, I said, a little ruffled. “Er, it might be a little difficult to have the interview this afternoon. I’m usually well organised here, but I’ve got a problem with one of my more edgy neurotic busy-busy customers.”

I meant Ander. Ander Uriarte. Ander Uriarte was the helpful kind who rings up every hour to check on how it’s going and remind you how important and non-negotiable the deadline is, and he had given me a text which, as I ploughed through it, turned out to be nightmarishly technical with format problems to boot, and to cut a long story short I wasn’t going to be able to make the deadline. You know that horrible sinking feeling, don’t you?

“Busy-busy?” she said. “I know the type.”

As the phone rang and I saw Ander’s number on screen, I said to Idoia, “Bloody hell. Now I’m about to be made to feel two inches high, it’s 4 o’clock now, and I’ll never make it for 5 pm.”

“Don’t worry”, said Idoia, putting her handbag down on the table and taking off her gloves. “I’ll talk to him. These Anders don’t bother me. Call it a hands-on interview test if you like.”

”You? But you don’t know anything about the job, or know him, either, or …”

“I don’t need to know anything”, said Idoia. “Leave it to me. Oh, by the way, is your grandmother still alive?”

“What? My grandmother? What do you mean? No, she’s dead. Both of them are dead. Years ago, in Ireland. I hardly knew either of them. But what’s that got to do with –“

“That should make it a little easier for you, then”, she said mysteriously as she moved across to the phone.

She put the call on loudspeaker and we heard Ander say, “Hello, is Mervyn there, it’s about an urgent job, very urgent in fact, I just wanted to make sure it’ll be OK for 5, but really 4.30 would be better, or even 4.45. It’s urgent, you see, very urgent …”

Idoia smiled at me, mouthed “Urgent” to me, then stopped smiling before she spoke into the mouthpiece. “Oh hello Ander, good afternoon, this is Idoia. I’m afraid he’s not here at the moment. A really difficult day we’re having, and no mistake. … You didn’t know his grandmother died, did you?”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I tried not to gasp, but my jaw dropped an inch or two, and I waved my hands at her, mouthing “No, no, no ….”

But Ander had already gasped himself – “Oh no, I didn’t know, oh that’s dreadful”, we heard him say.

“Yes”, said Idoia, “yes, she died. In Ireland. Very sad. He’s in a real tizzy today. And he can’t go to the funeral, of course.”

Ander was aghast. “Oh no, oh no, this is terrible, how awful, oh, really, the job can wait, in fact, it’ll be OK tomorrow, or the next day even, it’s not actually that urgent at all, er, tell him I’m really sorry, won’t you, erm, Miss … erm?”

”Idoia”, she said. “Idoia Belaustegigoitia Irigoyen. I’m just helping out on a skeleton basis today, but (she raised her eyebrows as she looked over at me) I may be around more permanently soon.”

She thanked Ander and came off the phone. “Well, you’ve got another day at least. OK?”

I was horrified. “But Miss, er, Idoia, how could you do such a thing, lying to him like that?”

“Pardon me, but I haven’t lied to anyone”, the girl said firmly.

“Yes you did, you told him my grandmother has died”.

“No, I said your grandmother died. Preterite tense. Simple past. And she did die, didn’t she? Years ago. In Ireland. She died. You said so. She’s dead.”

I thought about this. “OK, OK, I can see that, but then you said I can’t go to the funeral in Ireland. That’s got to be a lie, surely.”

“But it’s true that you can’t go to the funeral because there isn’t going to be a funeral to go to, is there? I told Ander it was a difficult day, too, which is also true, but it was him that made the connection between the two concepts, not me. Come on, you know how people are about their grandparents here. He’s given you a break. He’s forgotten about your job already. And you said yourself he’s neurotic, he worries about jobs for no reason, he wants your job right now, quickly, on his desk, so he can have more time to worry about everything else he doesn’t actually have to worry about in the first place. So, is the job mine or what?”
And of course it was.



And don't miss tomorrow's special "Friday Cookery Day" - Translators' Lentil Stew. Sounds yummy, doesn't it?


[Edited at 2020-04-02 07:34 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-04-02 07:45 GMT]
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expressisverbis
Yvonne Gallagher
Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 22:38
Miembro
español al inglés
+ ...
PERSONA QUE INICIÓ LA HEBRA
Friday 3 April Apr 3

“Virus kills over 10,000 and destroys 100,000 jobs in one month”, wails the headline. Well, thank God it’s Friday.

And Friday means Cookery Day. For no particular reason. Certainly not because I’m renowned for my cooking skills, let it be said. I can do a dozen or so recipes well, another dozen not so well, and there are dozens more I don’t even bother with. And today it’s lentils:


Total cooking time: an hour, if that, in two user-friendly sessions, a
... See more
“Virus kills over 10,000 and destroys 100,000 jobs in one month”, wails the headline. Well, thank God it’s Friday.

And Friday means Cookery Day. For no particular reason. Certainly not because I’m renowned for my cooking skills, let it be said. I can do a dozen or so recipes well, another dozen not so well, and there are dozens more I don’t even bother with. And today it’s lentils:


Total cooking time: an hour, if that, in two user-friendly sessions, and you only have to actually work for about half of that. It really is a cinch, child’s play. It has to be for me, even though I do all the cooking around here between translations.

Ingredients for four people (or two chubby people, or two thin people and a kid, or three kids, or one chubby adult and two kids, three chubby kids etc.)

• 18 dessert spoons of lentils. The upmarket lentils that come in a cloth fabric bag, for best results, although some of the plastic-bag lentils aren’t bad either. Not that I spoon in those 18 spoons, but I used to until I smarted up, and now I know how many cups it is, and yes, I could tell you how many cups it is like they do in other recipes, but what kind of cup do I mean, and no, I’m not going to attach a photo. In fact, it isn’t even cups, it’s a mug full to the brim. So either you do the 18 spoons or you imagine a biggish kind of mug, and that’s 18 spoons.
• Two very large potatoes
• Two not so large carrots
• One large clove of garlic
• One medium-sized onion
• One biggish green pepper
• The Secret Ingredient

The good thing about lentils is that you can just decide to do them there and then. None of that soak-in-water-overnight bollocks the purists will insist on – that’s for beans and chickpeas and suchlike. You just take your mug of lentils and you’re away.

Step 1:
Put the minimum amount of water in the pressure cooker. You can put it on the heat straight away, because what you have to do isn’t going to take two minutes - throw in the lentils, peel the spuds and the carrots and put them in too, whole. You can peel the garlic if you like, although some people just throw that in unpeeled and take the skin off later. Two pinches of salt and that’s it.

Oh … no it isn’t, I forgot. Time for the Secret Ingredient. Take a good look around your kitchen. Anybody about? You don’t want any witnesses, you know. Especially Basque witnesses, because they’re so bloody holier-than-thou about their gastronomy. Not to mention the French. Reach into your pocket and take out the beef stock cube you put in there earlier to keep it under wraps. You have to do this just before you close up the pressure cooker, never before. Got to destroy the evidence before all the Basques come piling into the kitchen, see, nosing around, asking questions, tut-tutting, frowning and wrinkling their noses. Makes no sense to get caught reaching up into the cupboard for the packet, especially as it’s difficult to get to because you’ve hidden it away at the back, or leaving it all alone in the water as the cooker fires up, because anyone could stroll into the kitchen and take a look. What poor old Jamie Oliver had to listen to from the Spaniards when he suggested a bit of chorizo in his paella.

Wait until the pressure cooker button comes up and then turn it down to chug along on low heat for half an hour. Time it on the mobile, and Translator Lentils are up and running, and now you can get back to the shedload of dreadful, dismal, dreary, droning C-suite blaargh you have to translate for this afternoon.

Step 2:
Open the pressure cooker and drain off a bit of the liquid, maybe. Should be kind of level with all the bits in it Now you can stick a knife in and cut the carrot into discs, and maybe halve the spuds. If you do it before, they fall apart while cooking – doesn’t look good.

Chop the onion and the green pepper up fine, and fry them in olive oil on a low heat. Can’t let them burn. The onion has to “lose its pride”, as they say here, slowly. Just before they’re suitably soft to the poke, start warming up the lentils and the rest again, and simply throw the onion and pepper in there. Stir it around for a few minutes, and then turn off the heat. Finished. After an hour or two sitting there the fried stuff will have coagulated a bit into a delicious sauce, and then you just heat it up. Serve. Refuse to answer any questions on ingredients.

Simple, right? None of that odd stuff you find on Internet, herbs and spices and Oriental vegetables you’ve never heard of. Just a simple, fast, nutritious eat.

That’s it. Might post some nonsense later, but it’s back to C-suite for the moment.


[Edited at 2020-04-03 12:22 GMT]
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