As a Macintosh user like me, you will be resting secure in the knowledge that your computer is much safer than those of your foolish Windows-using friends.
However, it turns out that our superiority is being mistaken for smugness by some bad people, and they are starting to write malware and viruses which could harm God’s own computers.
So, I’m recommending that you install the new, very good and completely free (it’s a privilege to write software for Macs so, obviously, it’s free) anti-virus software for Macs from Sophos. You may need to take care that your increased level of superiority now that your Mac is doubly secure isn’t mistaken for such a level of smugness that you warrant a punch in the face.

If his estate would like to contact me, I'd be happy to pass on the £25

If his estate would like to contact me, I'd be happy to pass on the £25

Mr Curtis was, unwittingly, a party to the World’s Best Ever Name Drop. Well, best I have ever heard and, therefore, best ever in the world.

Many years ago – getting on for 20 years ago in fact. More even – I was Deputy Editor of the Today newspaper’s gossip Column. Deputy Editor because there were two of us, and I wasn’t the editor. Actually no, there were two and a half of us – we shared a secretary with the Features Desk, the now rather more famous Kate Battersby. Oh, you have a Google go use it.

We used to print the usual scurrilous gossip such pages printed in those days, and had a lot of fun doing it. One of my favourite contacts was Jack Martin, an old Los Angeles hand who knew absolutely everyone in Hollywood and did us favours because he like our sense of humour. This was back when newspapers were allowed to have real senses of humour (man, I’m old).

So one afternoon I phoned Jack. “Ah,” he said, “I’ve just learned that Walter Matthau has had open heart surgery.”

Cool, I said. No one else had this story, a nice exclusive for us. “How did you find this out, Jack?” I asked.

“Well,” he replied, “I was in the bar of the Beverly Hills Hotel when I saw Dustin Hoffman wearing a sweatshirt which said, ‘I love Walter …’ and then this long, unpronounceable Russian name. Which I found out was Walter Matthau’s real name and that Dustin was wearing it to support his friend Walter.”

“Cool,” I said, “how did you find that out?”

“Well, I don’t personally know Dustin Hoffman, but I was with Tony Curtis so I got him to go over and ask.”

Tada! World’s coolest ever name drop. I told Jack that he should split our £50 tip fee with Mr Curtis but he said hey, he can get his own English newspaper gossip column. I told him to tell Mr Curtis to pop in and see us for his money next time he was in town and we’re still waiting.


Roxanne Violetta Julianne Rousée–Ward, born 1751 2 August 2010 Arnaud de Villeneuve, Montpellier. 3.48 kilos 51 cms. Mother and baby are both very well.

Say bye bye, children!

The current advertising campaign for McDonalds in France is based around the fact that, apparently, it’s absolutely fine to eat there if you’re gay, even if you’re not bold enough to have come out of the closet to your parents. Your money is as good as any other sucker’s, they reckon, especially as it would be illegal to refuse service to people on the grounds that they’re gay in France. (But congratulations to Psycho Talk for calling out Bill O’Nutter when he compared gays to Al Qaeda when talking about this ad)

While in Japan you need to be stark raving noodles to eat there.

Or even completely twisted.

So, some amateur French film-makers are fighting back. Good on them. Everyone, grab your Kalashnikovs and let’s head on down to McDo!

Stolen from Phil Plait - The Stupid, It Burns

I once had a news editor (Hi Dave! Come see us!) who said he liked me because, when I walked down the road, I looked around; up at the roofs, the second storeys, the signs, the people around me, what’s going on.

I once had a Geography teacher (Hello Mr Cant! Man, can you imagine being a teacher with the official surname ‘Cant’?) who said the secret to urban geomorphology (pronounced with a heavy Northern accent – he was a filthy northerner, we were posh public schoolboys) was Looking Up – up above the WH Smiths and Sock Shop shop fronts to see what sort of buildings were hiding behind them, when they were built, what they were about.

And this, well you can Google it for yourself; someone said, not that long ago or perhaps ages ago, who knows, “That’s not even wrong enough to be wrong”.

And I’ve said for a long time to everyone who can’t get away quickly enough that there are some people who look up and some people who look down. Throughout their whole lives. Some who lift their heads and some who just look down. Some who are interested in the wider world and some who have blinkers on all their lives and know only their own lives. People who, when you say, ‘Hey did you see those photos of that asteroid hitting Jupiter?’ don’t say, either, ‘Yeah, wow!’ or ‘No, where can I see them’, just say, ‘Duh?’ People who know why they should be buying a new LCD 119 cm television instead of a 108 cm plasma model but who have no clue that buying a four kilo bag of Haribo’s finest for their two-year-old niece is, perhaps, déconseillé by middle-class know-alls like me. And doctors.

So this article in the New York Times really spoke to me. Yeah, people who are so stupid, they don’t know they’re stupid. People who talk on their mobile phones, sip their lattés, brush their hair, do their make-up, don’t fix their kids’ or their own seatbelts, people who are stupid but don’t know it. People who, when I speak to them to tell them that their kids are running around in the back seat of their cars and who will, when they have an accident, hit the back of their heads with the force of a baby elephant falling off a cliff * reply to me either ‘Eh?’ or ‘Fuck off’. Darwin at work, but it’s a tragic fact that 49% of the population are below average. 49.9, in fact.

So. Do you look up?

(*non-statistical fact made up for emphasis)

Me: You do control-a, control-c to copy everything, then click the W icon to start Microsoft Word
Her: One click or two?
Me: One if you click there, two if you go through the Start menu
Her: OK then what?
Me: Then you do control-v to paste it all into Word so you can edit it how you like it. When you’ve finished just repeat the process but copying from Word and pasting into your e-mail to send it back to me.
Her: Wait, wait! Don’t complicate things, tell me how to send it back to you when I’ve finished editing.
Me: But it’s the same process you’ve just done.
Her: No it’s not!
Me: OK call me when you’ve finished.

Oh, they say, you’re so lucky living in the South of France, all that great food you get there. Lucky, lucky you.

Actually we buy it all at Lidl. Well, nearly all of it. The only stuff we don’t buy there is:

  • Asparagus. This we buy from roadside huts or the guy under the arches on Saturday at the market.
  • Olive oil. Not the cooking quality stuff, the rubbish we still buy at Lidl. No, I’m talking about the sipping-quality stuff. That comes from Domaine des Costieres or perhaps, soon, the Sommieres Co-op. And not the Co-op that gives Dividend stamps either.
  • Baby cereal. The kind you put in her bottle to keep her quiet in the morning.
  • Duct tape. Ditto.
  • Flaked almonds. Lidl don’t sell them.
  • Coffee. That comes from the torrefactor in Avignon. Actually this is a lie, the terms of my house arrest no longer allow me to travel away from home for long enough to get to Avignon during their hours of opening. Our coffee now comes from Lidl. But it’s shit.
  • Tea. We have PG Tips flown in from the UK.
  • Nappy sacks. Ditto.

Things that we buy from our Lidl that you may not get in yours if you don’t live in the South of France:

  • Merlot in 3- or 4-litre boxes. Apparently if you live in Burgundy you get cheap Burgundy and in Alsace, cheap Alsace. And also apparently if you live in Chichester you get South African Pinotage and serve you right.
  • Foie gras. We get the cheap kind in tins which is cut with pork liver and the good stuff in a jar, a whole foie (well, one lobe), 4 euros something or other.
  • Goat cheese. Better than Carrefour’s too, but not as good as from the lady on the market.
  • Costieres de Nimes rosé. Very nice.

So I wrote: Just baked the first Camembert de Printemps, the first Camembert of the year made with the milk of cows turned out to pasture for the first time since the winter up in the frozen north of France – very tasty. Rub with a cut clove of garlic, drizzle with whatever white/rosé you have lying around, bake in its wooden box for +- 15 minutes, dip your soldiers in it, nice supper.

…and then I realised I write more about food to my chum Eric in Atlanta than I do to everyone else, so here’s what I added to the last post for his benefit: Soldiers! They call them mouillettes ‘little soakers’ here; actually chunks of home-made sunflower seed bread with some AOC butter on them from Poitou-Charentes (there are only 2 AOC butters, the other’s beurre d’Isigny but it’s not as good). Crudités, raw veg is good too but I’m not on a health kick tonight. Drinking rosé from just up the road, Costieres de Nimes, €1.79 a bottle – yeah, we splashed out a little on the expensive stuff. Wednesday we’re going to the olive oil co-operative to taste last year’s harvest, wanna join us? We’re already eating the ones we picked from our tree that I cured over the winter, I’ll send you some if you like!

I’ve been making strawberry jam – too sweet  - and yoghurt – the secret’s in the straining! – too. And baking cookies and madeleines, wild mushroom sauce for Mother’s Day magrets, rice pudding, olive oil ice cream and sauce vigneron with the bavettes too.

Yeah, I’ve regained my taste for cooking I think.

Here’s what I’ve just written to Columba Blango, the failed LibDem candidate down in Peckham.
Dear Columba
You were kind enough to respond to my questions about being an ex-pat voter, and I’d like to thank you for that. The only other person to reply, out of all the candidates in your constituency, was the Conservative who said, basically, ‘We hate Europe and want nothing to do with it.’
Anyway, Sorry you didn’t win.
I’m writing now to express my concern that your party leader, Nick Clegg, appears to be considering doing a deal with the Conservative Party.
Frankly, has he lost his bloody mind? What? I was at school and then university during Thatcher’s evil reign and he and his henchpersons are her devil-spawn. Am I the only one who sees that? Please, encourage Mr Clegg NOT to treat with the Tories at all, they are very, very dangerous people. ‘Oh we can control them when we’re voting with them’. Right. You can see where that leads.
If your party did do a deal to put the Tories into power you’d lose an awful lot of supporters. I voted for you for the first time at this election because the Labour Party had proven disappointing in too many respects recently, despite having done some great things. I did so hoping that you’d provide a new start. Well, bringing back the Tories is the kind of new start off to which you really shouldn’t get. I’d never vote for you again, and I suspect many others would feel the same.
Kind regards,

Chris Ward

Cooking is the addition of heat and common sense to good-quality ingredients.

At polling stations there should be two queues.
1. Queue ==> this side to vote for the candidate of your choice;
2. Queue <== this side to get a free lottery ticket.
You may choose only one queue. You can have EITHER a vote OR a lottery ticket.
This will achieve a number of useful ends. The stupids who, mysteriously, have equal voting power to me will choose the free lottery ticket thereby leaving only clever people like me to choose our government. It will also ensure a full turnout. And it will remove the problem of people turning up too late to vote thereby ‘disenfranchising’ them via their own stupidity anyway.
The lottery draw would have to be capped, say at 5 million, but it’s a small price to pay I feel.
I can’t see any downside to this really. Anyone? Bueller?

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