On the Eighth Day

30.10.14 (Day 312)

08.42

On the eighth day, God was into his second week, grew bored of what he’d created, so decided to fuck around with it.

It’s been eight days since I last posted a blog entry here. There have been recipes – posted and cooked – but other than the odd bit of cooking, I’ve been busy. In the wrong ways and for the wrong reasons.

The clock says 08.42 (Actually, it says “Dee dah dee dah, dah dah dee dee”. Then it does it again, just to make sure I heard it. Every fucking hour. Twice. I hate repetition – and many other things – and I hate that fucking clock) and I’ve been awake for three hours. The rest of the safe household remains asleep, as is the norm most days. Any minute now the dog will be sent down to see the butler and the in-house caterer will feed it.

Until then I’m watching repeats on TV (a bit of a theme here), whilst playing with my device (another theme). I’m watching Frasier whilst writing this on my reclaimed tablet. Right now I could kick a kitten through an electric fan (Doctor Frasier Crane).

Right now, I wish I had the time to spill myself over the sofa, watch repeats and feed my face for the day, whilst leaving everything to a butler. I wish I was mindless, unable to think; play mindless games and not engage this brain which is a poisoned chalice. I wish I could switch off. But I can’t. I don’t have time but I have more time than most, as I don’t have a job and I have people to look after.

I wish I could wallow all day in my pyjamas but I don’t have pyjamas to wallow in. I sleep fully clothed in case I ever have to run and for fear of rape. And I’m tooled up.

I can’t sleep in. I can’t be lazy. I have to do things; everything. Whilst being watched and judged for what it’s assumed I’m doing, or not doing. What the butler saw. What the butler did without anyone seeing (make sandwiches late at night). If only dogs could talk. He knows as we speak most mornings when it’s just the two of us up. Birds of a feather. People think he’s cute. Some say that of me. Others think I’m a cunt.

I am stressed and tired. I’ve lost two days and a wife; practically, literally and actually. I’ve also slept with my sister and was up all night with her. And that was just Monday.

On Monday my real, adopted sister – The Courts – turned up at the safe house, destitute. Due to circumstances prevailing at the time, she had to spend the night on the street. I stuck by her but didn’t sleep as I was watching over her.

The real wife – the mother of my kids – has filed for divorce: release from one prison at least. The other one leads her own life which I hope to remain a part of. Time will tell, as it can now that it’s passed with the last wife. Lots of stories to tell of what this butler knows.

Never kid a kidder. I can call most bluffs by spotting the tells. Poker terminology with which I’m becoming reacquainted having played the game fairly successfully over this past week. Recreational, therapeutic writing aside, poker and chess have been my main preoccupations on this reclaimed, regained tablet and I’ve found a chess app which doesn’t insult my intelligence: Thresher allows me to play any chess engine and as such, it is challenging. At least one of the engines has beaten some of the grand masters at chess, effectively justifying and qualifying this tablet’s pseudonym, or orthonym of Little Blue.

On the poker front, things are going okay. I’m on 888 now. That’s 888.com, as opposed to a bankroll. The latter stands at $125, so I’m playing cash games and tournaments with blinds and buy ins respectively as dictated by that bankroll. I started at lower than that level before and done well. I can do it again. I’ll keep you posted and if I don’t, you’ll know it all went a bit tits up, much like the wife.

On a practical front there’s not much I can say for mainly legal reasons. Suffice to say though that things are being taken care of, and so am I, by the people who love me for some reason. Do they? If so, why? Because I’m me? That’s what the wife used to say. I love them as I have a lot to give.

And then it all went right. Well mostly. Some left.

I found out I’d lost three friends today. At least two of them passed in tragic circumstances; it was a bit like Romeo and Juliet. But that’s another story. So that’s six of my travelling friends lost in less than a year. Some weren’t loved and others loved too much.

This will remain as something to remind me; of something to remind me of days gone by; wasted but gained.

And so endeth the eighth day. Onto the next. What would God do? Grow ever more bored and look down.

Mushroom and Broccoli Pasta Bake

From the Restaurant at Home cook book

image

Although a jar or tin of sauce makes things easier, making your own sauce is worth the effort. The sauce can be made in bulk, divided up and frozen for future use.

The whole dish can be cooked in advance and reheated. In fact, there are two distinct stages to our pasta bake: assembly then later cooking. Use anything you like for the filling. This just happens to be mushroom and broccoli.

(Serves 4)

For the sauce

Place 1 tablespoon each of butter and flour in a pan over a low heat. Add an equal amount of milk and stir continuously to make a paste. We’re looking for something resembling wallpaper paste, with no lumps.

Gradually add more milk and flour in equal measures to make a basic roux. We need around a litre. Keep stirring and add butter to taste.

Add 1/2 kilo of cheese and melt it into the white sauce over a low heat.

For the pasta bake

Boil some pasta. Around 100g per serving.

Fry around 1/2 kilo of mushrooms in some oil over a low heat until soft and dark brown.

Boil, steam or microwave about 1/2 kilo of broccoli.

Drain the cooked pasta and pour it into the pan with the mushrooms. Add more oil and toss to coat the pasta.

Pour the pasta, mushrooms and broccoli into a large Pyrex dish or baking tin. Pour over the cheese sauce, season with salt, pepper, herbs and spices to taste.

Sprinkle grated cheese on top, then bake in an oven at 150c for 60-90 minutes.

Serve with garlic toast.

A little vague or complicated? Let us do it for you instead.

Steak in and out (Sandwich)

From the Restaurant at Home sandwich menu

image

A quick, easy and cheap steak sandwich:

(Serves 4)

This can be made using just one pan. It helps if you also have an oven and a microwave though.

You will need

4 frying steaks: cheap ones will do, around 2-4oz each and about 1/2 cm thick. Any thicker, just tenderise them (pummel them with your fist if you like)
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
4 small baguettes
A dollop* of butter

To cook

Fry the onions in the butter over a medium heat until soft and golden brown (texture like sun). To speed this part up, microwave the onions in a little cooking oil for 4-5 minutes, stirring half way through. Then fry the onions over a high heat for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to an oven proof dish and place the dish in an oven to keep warm at a low temperature (about 130-150c)

Make sure the frying or grill pan is as hot as possible; smokin’ in fact. Fry the steaks for no more than 20 seconds per side for medium rare. Don’t move them around in the pan (except when you turn them over): let them stick to the heat. Transfer to a dish and put them in the oven to keep warm and rest

Cut the baguettes in half (lengthways) and drizzle with oil (Bread or baps would be just as good). Fry them in the pan for 30-40 seconds until crisp and brown

Remove the onions and steaks from the oven and place them in the sandwiches. Horseradish sauce, English mustard or ketchup make good toppings

Serve with fries, corn cobs or as they are

Chicken Mass Dinner (Sandwich)

From the Restaurant at Home sandwich menu

Chicken stuffing sandwich

One of the boss’s wife’s favourites (she likes a mouth full):

This is good for using up left over roast chicken. It’s like a Christmas dinner but with chicken instead of turkey and jam (yes, jam) in place of cranberry sauce.

For the filling:

Chicken (no, really). White or brown meat are equally good
Jam (strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant or apricot are best)
Sausages or sausage meat, for the stuffing; or stuffing
Mayonnaise
Seasoning (salt and ground black pepper)
Any left overs from the Sunday roast (broccoli, sprouts; even potatoes: sort of bubble & squeak. Add some cold, congealed gravy too for that full lunch-in-a-sandwich thing)
For the bread:

Bread (white, brown, granary; ciabatta, baps or rolls: all are fine)

Butter the bread and put the filling between two slices. Serve as is, or toasted

Another Day of Rolling the Dice

22.10.14 (Day 304, still)

12.42

I’ve been awake for seven hours now and for most of that time, I’ve been fighting: with technology that doesn’t work (it took me two hours to compose and send a couple of emails); with people who think they want or need me and with a system designed to drive myself and people like me away and into the ground, where we’ll no longer be a problem. Unfortunately for them, I don’t give up; I will not be kept down.

These are daily frustrations and those who have never had to deal with this sort of thing won’t understand. I wish I could say that I hope those people will never have to deal with what I do on a daily basis but I actually wish they would. Then perhaps they’d realise what the fight is like. I used to be one of those people but having lived on the other side now for almost a year, I’ve developed an empathy, sympathy and understanding that most of those people will never have to possess. These are the people who ask why things haven’t been sorted out by now; the people I challenge to spend just one week out here and see if they survive. Most wouldn’t.

I’m an anarchist, as most who know me know. Anarchy is not about chaos. It’s a belief in a system that isn’t governed but which instead relies on mutual co-operation to the benefit of all. I’ve only re-embraced anarchy since being out here and experiencing first hand what life is like for the downtrodden; the cast aside; the ignored and abandoned. We fight the governing classes.

Of course the political and societal system which we have has benefited me in the past but now it’s working against me. This morning has been a case in point, or microcosm:

My medical certificate for Alcohol Dependence is due to expire soon. A new one has been issued but the local doctors surgery are unable to send it to The Department for Work and Pensions, which is where it needs to go for my benefits to continue to be paid. If it’s not there in time, my benefits will be suspended. The required means of contact with DWP is by fax. The fax number is one which is almost impossible to find online but even if one has it, it is constantly busy. They just want rid of us.

I could make phone calls and ask people in authority to assist me. In order to make calls though, I need credit on my phone (I’m out). I’d have the required credit to contact people (and DWP) if DWP hadn’t docked my benefits. So I can’t afford to do what they require of me and which they have indirectly denied me the means to do.

So that’s another morning wasted and the battle will have to continue another day but my medical certificate expires on a date prior to my next benefits payment. If I were in receipt of the latter, I’d be able to make facilitating phone calls as an end to the former. Chicken and egg. Vicious circle. Being unwell is sometimes a full-time job.

So I’ve lost half a day which I could have spent building my business. Of course if that takes off, all benefits will cease and there’s no guaranteed income from a young business but at least I’ll be in charge. I don’t like to be controlled or dictated to.

Frustration at lack of progress this morning has been compounded by the usual needy ones needing me for really not much at all. I’m busy! Or at least I’m trying to be busy. When I don’t respond immediately to trivial requests for advice or assistance I’m asked what’s up? I really don’t have time to explain everything to everyone, which is why I always quote the same four letters: RTFB! It’s all in here: most of what almost everyone needs to know. I do make exceptions of course but for the most part, just read this fucking blog!

Meanwhile I’m arranging to meet my kids again and trying to build a business, whilst nursing a very painful leg (the one which was mashed up many years ago). The leg is so painful at the moment that I’d happily have it amputated. Perhaps I’ll donate it to the local kebab shop, or find another use for it. Long Pig on the menu this week then.

So that’s what I’m up to, that’s why I’m angry and frustrated and that’s why I can’t talk to everyone all of the time. For the rest of the day, I’ll be trying to build a business using the equipment I have. Things ought to speed up soon with the arrival of a new keyboard for the tablet I swapped the netbook I’m currently using and which I’m swapping back. The netbook is slow and the tablet is fast. With the keyboard, I’ll be on a roll and this is thanks like so much else to the generosity and kindness of my host family.

If I get anything at all done, it’ll be more than I’ve achieved over the last couple of days. In any case, I shall chill out later with some online poker.

Another day of rolling the dice, then playing a game which is much more skill than chance and therefore where I’m more comfortable.

Tomorrow’s (Yet) Another Day

22.10.14 (Day 304)

08.42

“I hear them saying, tomorrow’s just another day…”

(Madness)

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of all of this starting. It was one year ago that I split from the love of my once-upon-a-life and returned to Tonbridge, having been away for 12 years. Nothing much had changed, except me perhaps. A month after that, we realised we were still in love and I returned to Sidcup.

Then it all went wrong.

So I came back to Tonbridge again and it continued to go wrong. Relationships, beatings (both given and received) and everything else that’s been recorded here over the last ten months.

Last Christmas was spent in hospital with a turkey sandwich for Christmas lunch. My family would have been gathered around the dining table, enjoying their roast turkey and forgetting about me. I don’t even like turkey, so that’s fine. Ugly fuckers when they’re alive and dry and without taste when dead.

A lot has changed over the last ten months – for better or worse – and a few things have remained constant, including the wife and my current host family.

I really don’t want to spend this Christmas with the host family. I’ve imposed enough and if I were them, I wouldn’t me encroaching on what should be a purely family occasion. They are a second family to me but I have no real family at Christmas. Although bridges are being rebuilt again and despite being the season of goodwill to all men, my real family won’t want me around. I have gifts planned for them, despite us being estranged. Finances are limited but thought is not, so myself and the host mum are making something home-made and personal for my family. And it’s a nice thing which we have planned. I expect nothing in return.

Some things don’t change but I have in some respects. It’s all about helping others for me now; not so much about myself but I’ve not forgotten me as so many others have. I was hoping to have been moved on long ago and certainly way before Christmas but the moving on situation is another one which hasn’t changed.

I’m trying to move on. I’m trying to not outstay my welcome. I have the green shoots of a business emerging from Restaurant at Home with a few tentative enquiries already. No firm orders yet but I’m trying to remain positive. These things take time: I’ve done it before. And like before, it’s frustrating: technology which doesn’t work and constant interruptions from people who think they need me. If you text me and I don’t respond immediately, please just assume that I’m busy and let me get on with what I’m trying to do, which is to work and move on. Don’t keep sending me messages asking if I’m okay and why I’ve not replied; don’t simply ask what I’m up to as I don’t have time to explain. I’m just busy. If you really need to know what I’m doing, RTFB! There are other things I have to deal with. I can’t always be here and one day I’ll be gone: moved on. I do care but there’s only so much I can do. If only I got paid, for orders which aren’t yet coming in and for the work I do just being me.

It’s at this time of year that suicide rates among the homeless are at their highest. It helps the system which works against us to reduce their burden of numbers of people they won’t help.

I may check into Winter Shelter again this year. I made a lot of friends there last year; mainly males of a certain age – like me – who are classed as low risk and therefore receive no help. I know that at least three of them won’t be there this year: one was murdered and two took their own lives, through depression and frustration. I may join them yet.

Other losses were of my own making, I admit.

“I need a moment to reflect, on the friendships I have wrecked…”

(Madness again)

I might help in a kitchen at Crisis or Shelter. Business is partly about referrals and giving things away. I don’t have much but what I have, I will give. Maybe I’ll get something back. But I expect nothing in return; I don’t give to receive.

Have I changed? I believe so. For the better? Others will judge. I feel better about certain things in life and remain remorseful over others. Perhaps one day those who’ve not already found it within themselves to forgive me for what they perceived to be wrong, may actually find it.

I’m a person. I’m a trying person. People buy from people, so if the business does indeed take off, who is this person that people will be buying from?

I could go back out in the world and deny everything I’ve done. I could pretend; I could act; I could lie. But I don’t do that, honest. I have a past that I’m not proud of and although we all have baggage which should be left at the door (forgive and forget), I carry mine like a life’s burden; a self-imposed life sentence to make amends within myself for what I’ve done. I don’t deny nor hide my past. People will have to deal with the person. That’s why I’ve not separated the business from this personal blog. People then know who they’re dealing with and either trust me or don’t. Those who judge wrongly are those I’d never want as customers anyway.

So who are these customers dealing with? An ex-con? A recovering alcoholic? Or perhaps someone who made mistakes, fell on hard times but didn’t give up? A reformed character maybe? Someone who picked up the pieces and tried again: maybe someone worth taking a gamble on and placing some faith in?

Tomorrow will tell. Tomorrow is yet another day. Despite the last ten months, I maintain my faith.

La Folie.

Cheat’s Mash in Jackets and Loaded Skins

From the Restaurant at Home cookbook:

Two meals in one: mashed potato and loaded skins:

Jacket potato Mini sandwich spiral roll appetizers

(Serves 4)

To speed up the baking process of the potatoes, microwave them first: 4 large potatoes at full power for around 10 minutes

Rub some cooking oil on the potatoes and sprinkle them with salt. Do not pierce the potato skins

Place the potatoes directly onto the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 60-90 minutes at 190c, turning half way through, until a sharp knife passes through the flesh

Remove the potatoes from the oven and cut them into halves. Add a generous blob of butter to each halved potato and mash the filling in the skins. Scrape the filling out of the skins and serve as mash immediately, or store for future reheating. The mash will have a “baked” flavour (surprising that)

For the skins, which can be cooked immediately or chilled for future use:

Fill the potato skins with cheese and anything you have lying around or fancy (bacon is good)

Bake in a baking tray at 190c for 10-15 minutes

Two meals in one: done.