Bad news apparently, the animal kingdom has today said a tearful goodbye to something once known the world over as a 'flavescent snub-horn spotted quag'. Don't ask me exactly what one of these is. It isn't mentioned in any of the earliest incunabulum that I can see. Beast, fowl or furry fish, I know not. All I do know for sure is that if anything has the slightest amount of horn attached to its face, you can bet your life a thousand middle-aged and impotent Chinamen will want it, buy it, grind it to a fine powder and ingest it, regardless of 'inflated' price or medical risk. The good news is that somewhere in the middle of a bug infested haven, possibly east of Kathmandu for all I know, a magical moment has occurred. It would seem that a well known virginal, khaki clad BBC survivalist, wearing shorts that are far too tight for his scrotum, covered from head to foot in mosquito bites and insidiously large spiders, has tripped over a rotting log only to discover a new species of shite-eating dung beetle scurrying about on the jungle floor. No doubt surviving quite nicely away from prying eyes on the detritus of discarded takeaway scraps left behind by visiting rotund, wealthy big game hunters, complete with raspberry-ripple arms, corned beef legs, large bank accounts and enough pooled flatulence between them to float a small continent sized balloon.
I'll pause for your immediate outraged bronteum reaction.
Just as I thought, nothing. Not a sausage. And not surprisingly so. I was also unimpressed. It is not an interesting fact to any of us, unless of course your name is Nathaniel, you drive an off-grey Toyota Prius, part your hair in the middle, are a boorish, insipid little fellow, as nasally septic as a two-stroke motorcycle, complete with hairy ears, standing splay footed rattling a charity donation tin in the middle of Clydebank shopping centre in the pouring rain. Siobhan, not wishing to be rude, stopped at his behest. He regaled us with yet another somewhat pantomancer tale about a suffering hippopotamus that had passed on somewhere near Belarus. The locals had planned to have it cremated, but the gas ran out halfway through, so they had to finish the job off with hammers. The urn, by his description alone, was only slightly smaller than a dreaded Fiat by all accounts. Bit of a bugger getting such a semi-ustulate trophy up on the mantelpiece I would have thought. Siobhan dropped far too many chiseled ducats into his tin, smiled sympathetically and we moved swiftly on as he began to chant an incantation about whale hunters being the true Antichrist.
Now that really is interesting... Mr. Pewfodder always said it was me.
As a man of a certain vintage, I find myself hurtling ever quickly over the hill towards middle-age. Frequent trips to the lavatory during the wee small hours have been quite concerning of late. Nothing to do with my gentleman's sausage or my plumbing you understand, more to do with the strange things that one notices when all about you is seemingly still. Some years ago I allowed my local butcher to graze his muttony beasts in my bottom meadow, of which the grass is extremely lush and sumptuous. It made good business sense, my grass is kept short, his beasts are fattened for the kill. We both benefit financially.
Originally of Edinburgh blood, he is extremely lazy. Too much like hard work to pull his Oxford shoes on and trample through the dew-fresh meadow twice a week to check his flock. The east coast mob are more used to ringing their butlers and sending messages through English lackeys to those of a working class ilk. Far easier to daub their woolliness with luminous green numbers and count them off from the warmth of his Landrover with large binoculars and a sharpened pencil. Which is fine until the moon catches them in a certain light and if caught unawares, frowsty with sleep or occasionally stupend with the drink, can look as though the aliens have landed and are looking up at me, quietly inquisitive, provocatively chewing, watching, waiting, plotting, as I stand once more and pee.
It can be most disconcerting. Ovinaphobia coming from the blackest of black amongst the family flock is indeed wrong. A man needs his privacy. My height means that although my genitalia is obscured by frosted glass, my head is level with the small usually open window. I see them, they look back at me. Three hundred and forty seven pairs of staring eyes. No sound is to be heard. Only the wind. The one at the front seems to smile a calculating smile. Quite eerie, as if in a strange 'Roald Dahl' moment. I already carry the angry ghost of a battered and drowned ram around with me. Will I ever forget? However, all is not lost. I have my very own weapon of mass distraction. Not once in the 'War of the Worlds' movie did you see Tom Cruise in his fight against aliens ever break wind so loudly that it caused great hordes of startled, glassy-eyed green staring invaders to retreat at high speed across a lonely grassy meadow at 3am on a cold and frosty morning. Sound travels in the still of the night. So do frightened sheep it would appear.
Let's see the butcher try to count them now.
Seriously Spicy Lamb Stew
1 pint of homemade chicken stock
3 oz Scotch bonnet chili's, stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces.
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 pound of pork chorizo, remove skin
2 cups chopped red onion
6 large cloves of fresh garlic, smashed and cleaned
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 whole shoulder of lamb, boned and cut into bite-size pieces
1 tin red kidney beans - drained
3 bell peppers, red/green/yellow
Combine the first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan. Cover and simmer over a medium heat until the chilies soften, usually around 10 minutes. Puree the mixture in small batches in the blender.Cook off the fat from the chorizo, breaking the meat down until it is is fine in texture. Leave it to drain for 10 minutes. Add the chorizo to a large casserole dish with the other ingredients and leave to infuse for an hour. Gently fry off the lamb, allow the fats to drain off fully before mixing the lamb with the chorizo in the casserole dish. Simmer dish for 2 hours until the lamb is tender and fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper, add creme fraiche and a sprinkling of fresh chives before serving. Garlic bread and chilled lager finishes the meal very well. Enjoy.