Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Free fall

I was struck by an idea; I know, a vision of an old short- grey-haired old geezer with a metaphorical bottle that has bounced off his cranium. But this idea is not a new one (I suspect it's not new in any sense, but it certainly isn't new to me). And I revivify this idea in honour of the inspiration of its outward form...

It started such a long time ago; about the time when I was dumped for the first time by the very first love of my life. I could not unders
tand how I had been so deceived! Was it deliberate, was I a trusting moron? Probably, but more interestingly this led me into searching for answers; this is a geek's search... I can cite a number of books in this search - the Parkers' the Compleat Astrologer, Stand Gooch's Total Man, Sagan's Cosmos, Lyall Watson's Supernature, Morris's the Naked Ape, Jung's Red Book, etc etc. Even Mein Kampf (and also the Iron Dream, the really disturbing and brilliant fantasy/sf denunciation by Norman Spinrad). This ouvre of the 20th century skitters around the edge of consciousness for me whenever I stop thinking superficially for a bit (not for too long, it hurts too much and you lose too many friends talking about this stuff).

There is a point between our innermost selv
es and the outer world where light shines through from the outside world into the interior illuminating the dim indistinct shapes within our subconscious minds - this light is what we call reason, but it it is nothing of the sort in truth; it is light shone through the prism of our conscious minds that is trying to impose some sort of order out of the chaos. That prism is a reticulum, if you like, of the past experiences which have shaped the way we put a gloss over the deep darknesses within ourselves that reflect the shadows of the world outside us - or is that the other way round? The truth is that we (the collective superegos to whom I'm talking at the moment) are merely guests (and even unwanted guests) in the biological engines which are our bodies.

But in spite of this, the visitation rights are
worth it. I believe that it was Watson (or was it Gooch) that suggested that Angels were merely the light of the firing synapses of our conscious mind seen from our unconscious cerebellum. Fascinating stuff, because the connections between the cerebrum and the cerebellum represent a kind of biological Heath Robinson affair that barely functions in any real sense (and what was that light I saw under water in the Thames, going down for the third time - I jest not). Sleep is there so that the two can come to some kind of reconciliation and can continue functioning. But occasionally the prism that filters the light from the outside and the dark from the inside which gives that light shape and purpose meets and creates a pattern of beauty, emotion and light which is something of the inspired - sometimes of genius itself.

Amongst the angels for me are the improbable company of Bryan May, Brian Cox and Patrick Moore; for when it comes to light from distant place
s shining into the deep recesses of our minds, nothing can beat the wider and all-encompassing view of the cosmos which astronomy in all its forms gives us. And Patrick was 88 just a short while ago (4th March); I hope he will forgive me, but he now looks like a vastly corpulent Davros, but I hold him in the greatest respect. He inspired my enthusiasm for the wider universe and has sustained it for nearly 50 years. His Observer's Book of Astronomy led me into deep waters (studying, briefly, with a local astronomer, even to trying to grind my own speculum, which I'm sure my mother broke in order to stop me spending so much time doing it)... and then on to think about other things. Thank you Patrick. (My god, he's eaten someone!)

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Pickled red cabbage

Basis is from the following:


  • 1kg (2¼lb) red cabbage, cored and finely sliced
  • 2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 bramley apple, peeled, cored and finely sliced*
  • 4tbsp salt
  • 2 x 568ml bottles distilled malt vinegar
  • 1 cinnamon stick, lightly crushed
  • 1tbsp cloves, lightly crushed
  • 1tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1tbsp ground coriander*
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin*
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes*
  • 6.5 level tbsp muscavado sugar

You'll also need: Sterilised jars with vinegar-proof lids - hard to know how many, but these are 2 x 750 ml and 1 x 500 ml jars

The items with asterisks against them are my additions.


  1. Place the finely sliced red cabbage and onion in a bowl and sprinkle over the salt. Mix well. Loosely cover the bowl and leave the vegetables overnight.
  2. Put the finely sliced apples on a baking tray and sprinkle some lime juice and a some of the muscavado sugar over the apples
  3. Wash the cabbage and onion in a colander under running cold water to rinse off salt. Drain well and pat dry with kitchen paper.
  4. Put the cabbage and onion on the bottom shelf of the oven, the apples on the top shelf and put the oven on for 20 minutes on minimum, remove and let both cool right down.
  5. our the vinegar into a pan, add the spices, and bring to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the granulated sugar. Leave the mixture to cool.
  6. Pack the vegetables into cold, sterilised jars, pressing down well. Pour over vinegar, ensuring that each jar has some of the spices and that the vegetables are totally covered with vinegar.
  7. Seal the jars with vinegar-proof lids, label and store in a cool, dark place for at least 2 weeks before using. It will keep for up to 3 months, stored in a cool, dark place. Keep jars in the fridge once opened.

Vinegar on the go with the spices in added the chilli flakes and sugar after removing from the heat once boiled.

Cabbage and apples having been dried out in the oven.

The finished product - at least 2 weeks.

This was a real shot in the dark; I had bought the red cabbage and apple to do braised cabbage and apple, but realised that it wouldn't go with anything I was going to cook (yep, I really plan my cooking week)! So as I had most of the ingredients needed I thought I'd give it a go; I had to buy the big jars and work out how to sterilise the jars - which gave rise to a fat, grey-haired balding guy roaming Tesco's trying to find Milton sterlising tabletsl I asked a young assistant who didn't know and roamed a bit mroe, but eventually got them. It has to be said, this is a lot of effort - the 30 minutes prep time the original says mat be true for someone who knows what they are doing, but it's more like a couple of hours for me spread over a weekend - and I've still got to clear some dark space for the jars. But it does smell good!