Shrove Tuesday, also know as Pancake Day, takes it's name from the verb to shrive - from the Old English scrīfan - meaning to confess and/or to gain absolution. Today it's fallen out of general use but is preserved in Shrove Tuesday and in the saying 'short shrift', which was originally the time for confession or absolution given to a condemned prisoner before his execution, but now means to give a matter little attention or consideration.
Introducing some new members of the Toque household: Ferdinand, Jemima and Crispy.
We bought these Indian Runner Ducks back in September and this morning, on Pancake Day, we got our first egg, which is destined for the pancake mix.
I submitted this to Lamebook, but for some reason they haven't used it.
I thought it was rather good.
There's a debate raging about what to call English sparkling wine.
We live just down the road from the English Wine Centre, I've even attended an English wine tasting session there, and Mrs Toque drinks English bubbly hand over fist. So, obviously, I think I'm qualified to have an opinion, despite the fact that I'm more of a real ale and red wine drinker.
It should most definitively not be called 'Britagne', as suggested by Christian Seely of Coates & Seely, because its nationalistic and it reminds me of that dreadful 'British wine' (a wine produced from imported grapes) as opposed to 'English wine' (a wine produced from English grapes).
It should not be called 'Pippa'. No discussion required.
But I'm going to throw 'Blubren' into the mix. Blubren is Middle English for 'to bubble'.
Del Monte is to start selling its bananas individually wrapped in what have been dubbed 'banana condoms'.
The translucent sheath comes with in-built 'CRT', or in other words, 'Controlled Ripening Technology'.
The inclusion of this technology in their ‘coextruded polypropene wrappers’ will, Del Monte says, lengthen the shelf life of a banana by up to six days.
Apparent viewers were left shocked and outraged by Christina Aguilera's routine on last night's X Factor.
Not me, I think we should have much more of this sort of thing. In fact, please just cancel the X Factor and have only this.
I bet she raises a few cocks.
On her chicken farm (you perverts).
Due to an ongoing smear campaign against me by Steve Uncles of the English Democrats Party the Witanagemot Club (latterly the English Free Press) is hereby ended, I would like to thank all members, past and present, for their involvement.
My online involvement with the CEP is also ended in order to prevent Steve Uncles using me as a stick with which to beat the CEP, so it's goodbye to englishparliament.net as well
The Witanagemot Club was an attempt to promote the campaign for an English parliament, an attempt to network and increase cooperation and traffic between like-minded bloggers (a forging of a blogging 'English movement'), and a tool for disseminating news and information. It was, I think, a success. But times move on and so too does the way that we use the internet. Most blogs now have the ability to syndicate content, and that along with services like Twitter and Facebook has made blogrings like the Witanagemot Club increasingly redundant. And as for forging an online 'English movement', I have to concede that I have had the opposite effect because it is a sad fact that there are a large number of English nationalists - symbolised by Steve Uncles and Mark Cotterill - with whom I will never see eye to eye; though had the English Democrats not been led by fools, things may have been different and we might now have a popular English nationalism acceptable to the mainstream. Alas that was not to be.
As for the smear campaign against me, I'll say this: My newborn daughter is not a "dog"; I am not separated from my wife; I am not a member of either the BNP or UKIP, nor any other political party; I am not anti-English, anti-white or an Anglophobe; I do not live in Canada (though quite why that should be an issue I do not know); I am not a national council member of the Campaign for an English Parliament, not since 2005; and I have never 'hacked' anything or illegally obtained EDP mailing lists.
I will continue to syndicate news from my own blog for all those who used the Witanagemot for that purpose.
This weekend Mrs Toque and I are celebrating our fifth anniversary. So I'm off for a long weekend in Devon, and I've decided to take her with me as a reward for good behaviour.
Five years ago I was blogging about my first, and to date only, poncy haircut, an ordeal forced upon me by our upcoming nuptials. How time flies.
Exasperated by my unkempt and often disheveled appearance, and with just eleven days to go to our wedding, Mrs Toque phoned up her hairdresser and booked me in for an appointment. This was a turn up for the books - Little Man in a Toque had never been to a posh salon before - for me it had always been the barber's shop, the sort that is usually situated adjacent to the boozer or bookmakers and owned by a proprietor that resembles a Greek or Italian pirate brandishing a cut-throat razor.
Barbers shops are great places, a last bastion of male sanctuary, where lewd and politically incorrect jokes can be told, or dignified silence can be observed, without women talking about emotions and stuff. Typically, when I'm in England, I will go to the barbers when I am hung over on a Saturday. I just turn up, no appointment necessary, and take my place on a bench with the other customers. Tabloid newspapers, mens magazines and a TV showing sport (football, horse-racing, F1 or rugby) are the in-house entertainment. Chat, if there is any, revolves around those sports; the page three girl, or rather her breasts; how you came to be so pissed last night, and with whom; and cars. But pleasantries are not necessary, and conversation is only offered on the mutual understanding that it is wanted.
You are summoned from your reverie by the call of "Next"; the chair is dusted down, but not enough to prevent you getting other people's hair on your jeans; you are given a five second consultation on what you would like done; a napkin is tucked brusquely into your shirt; your head sprayed with musty water from a plant mister, and then you get a short back and sides regardless of what you asked for. This takes about five minutes from start to finish, but sometimes it seems shorter because the frantic clicking of the scissors or whir of the clippers can send you into a deep Zen-like trance.
In posher establishments the barber will offer you a paper napkin to dust yourself down with and will run some slimy substance through the stubble on your head before taking £5 from you and ushering you out onto the street, but to me this is just prolongs the humiliation. Usually on offer in these upmarket barbers is the X-treme sport of having your
skin peeled face-shaved with a cut-throat razor. A skilfully wielded razor is a sight to behold, but as I usually recognise the barber from the pub the night before I rarely take up this offer.
Anyway, today at 9am I set off for the 'hair salon' to "get a decent haircut". I arrived late, of course, having got lost, but as luck would have it there had been a cancellation so they could still fit me in. The inside of the place was open-plan and all natural wood, glass, chrome, halogen lights and mirrors. To me it looked to all the world like some sort of nightclub with the lights on. The girl at the front desk asked if I would like a cup of tea, and I replied "Yes. Thank you". She then introduced me to my hairdresser and disappeared.
My hairdresser ushered me to a cubicle where I was to take off my shirt and put on a black silk smock - or poncho or something - that came down to my knees. This I did. I looked in the mirror and raised my arms out sidewards to find that I looked amazingly like batman, but without the headgear. Next I was taken to a chair by a sink and given a head-massage with some smelly balm type substance. I guess this was supposed to be relaxing, but in these surroundings it just felt kind of strange. I was told by the hairdresser that if I felt uncomfortable with any of this then it was optional.
Hairdresser: "You know?....Some guys just aren't comfortable with this sort of thing. But it's free, so I say 'why not' eh? One guy that comes here...he's been coming here for years, he's a cop, a policeman as you call them in England, well....he never has any of this stuff done! I guess he thinks it's a bit gay or something.”
Little Man in a Toque: “Really?”
Hairdresser: “I'll tell you what we are going to do, just so you are OK with it. I'll wash your hair, and then cut it. And then I'll give your face a quick moisturise and hot-towel treatment. How does that sound?”
Little Man in a Toque isn't some macho guy by any means, but I am a bloke’s bloke and I like bloke things like football, beer and err....football and beer. I figured....I'm pretty damn sure that I'm not gay, and that I never will be. And if, on the off-chance that I do have some latent homosexuality, then it's probably best to go through with this test now before my wedding. Anyway, sod it, I'm not afraid to explore my feminine side. Stupid cops.
Little Man in a Toque: “Ummm...sounds good”.
So after the head massage my head was washed and I was escorted, in my silk robe, to the hair cutting station; a huge free-standing mirror with a comfy black chair in front of it. Tea was placed in my hand - I say tea but it was yellow and had bark in the bottom of the mug - and the real hairdressing and conversation began. Now Little Man in a Toque isn't a bad conversationalist, but he's not good at small talk - and remember this was early in the morning too. Unlike the barbers, where conversation is optional, here it was unremitting and apparently mandatory. The hair-cutting was painfully slow, and no clippers were used, so Zen-like meditation could not have been achieved even if it were practicable, and under those lights I was sweating like a pig in a fleece. Forty long minutes later my hair was cut and the girl knew more about me than my own mother.
I was sent back to the sink, sat down, and tilted horizontal to wash the hairs off my head. Then I was flipped vertical and moisturiser was applied to my face before it was covered with a hot-towel of the sort given out on aeroplanes. Flipped horizontal again I lay there with the hot-towel on my face for what seemed like an eternity.
"There, wasn't that relaxing", she said, as she removed the towel - my irises contracting to pin-pricks - and began to wipe off the previously applied moisturiser.
"Yes, very", I lied.
Then back to the hair-cutting station where my hair was blow-dried and waxed. And that was it! Almost. We went back to the cubicle where she got out another towel, dusted it with some powder out of a salt cellar, and wiped my neck with it. "There, all done."
And I had been, $45 dollars and an hour and twenty minutes out of my life, for a haircut. Still, the girl who gave me the tea was quite tasty, so at least I wasn't gay.
As it turns out the haircut was a decent one. Just the same as one I'd usually get from a barber, but without my side-burns which weren't up to scratch, and blow-dried to make me look like a ponce. However, you do take pot-luck with barbers sometimes so perhaps this was for the best on this occasion. Anyone know a decent barber's shop in Edmonton?
It was the postcard that he received from Nick Clegg that first aroused the suspicions of David Davis.