Tuesday, 5 April 2011

My Twitter column from a UK magazine

A load of rhubarb
As a proud Yorkshireman I think the European Commission spouts a load of rhubarb and should be covered in manure similar to that used to cultivate the stuff.
These are the people who tried to take the wind out of Brussel sprouts, straighten bananas and standardise carrots.
Now the Yorkshire Rhubarb Triangle, yes it does exist, has been awarded Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) by these mentally unbalanced individuals who sit in judgement upon us. This means that the pink vegetable now ranks alongside champagne and Parma ham on a list of specially protected food and drink.
The Yorkshire Triangle from whence comes this weird vegetable is bounded by Leeds,Bradford and Wakefield. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle where aeroplanes and ships mysteriously disappear, but, as far as I know, the only things which have disappeared in the Yorkshire version have been a few pigeons and a motorised pudding last seen heading over Ilkley Moor.
The word “rhubarb” derives from the Latin rheum barbarum, meaning the barbarian from the banks of the river Rha (Volga), but the large leaved Siberian native was a welcome immigrant to the Yorkshire Dales.
Local farmers, and there are only 12 left, developed secret methods to produce the tender and sweet version of the rhubarb which has fans world-wide. I can reveal exclusively that the closely guarded techniques involve an upturned bucket and lots of manure, just like the European Commission.
Rhubarb was a secret weapon in schools in the 1950s. It has remarkable laxative properties and if your mother didn’t get a dose of castor oil down you the school dinner lady would get you with rhubarb and custard. This is why many children of the 50’s spent an unhealthy amount of time in the bathroom and I think that giving the damned stuff special status is a direct threat to human rights.
West Yorkshire once produced 90 per cent of the world’s forced winter rhubarb from the forcing sheds which were common across the region. That distinction now rests with honorary members of the Houses of Parliament and European Commission who produce enough rhubarb to feed the world’s population for the next 10 years.
Product designation means that all producers must not only be in the designated area but will be extensively audited to maintain standards.
Doesn’t it make you proud to be British?

Fat chance of beating obesity
Despite less visits to the gym and a love of high fat foods people in the 1960s were slimmer simply because they were more active, a new government report says.
Makes sense to me. We have become a nation of couch potatoes thanks to technological advance and the Internet age, and is it getting any better for all the hype about it? I think not.
Rates of obesity in adults have risen from 1-2% in the 1960s to around 26% today. Now that is one heck of a jump, but I think hardly surprising. There’s many a young mum today that thinks food grows in packets. Their idea of a balanced diet is walking down the street with a can in one hand and a fat hamburger in the other while you’re trying to plug your iPhone into every bodily orifice. Do kids sit at tables any more?
The figures say that in the 60s we walked more, did more housework and used the car less. In 1967 66% of those surveyed said they wanted to loose a stone compared to just 46% now. Which to me just shows that many of them couldn’t care less what they look like, and some even think they look attractive lugging around an extra four stone.
The supermarkets scream at us to have five portions of fruit and veg a day. Fine, I’m all for that, so why don’t they stop packing everything in plastic and making it look so unappealing?
Bring back brown paper bags I say, and in some cases not just for the veg. Oh, and if that doesn’t work revert to rhubarb in schools.

Try talking to your back
Don’t scientists talk some tosh?
The latest ramblings say that group “talking therapy” is better for a bad back than medicines and painkillers. Oh yes?
I suggest this particular boffin has never had a good dose of sciatica as yours truly has. It was four years ago and I tried talking to it in very strong terms, still do. I can’t describe the language in detail in a family magazine, but it’s similar to that heard at a Premier League soccer match every weekend. And, do you know, it didn’t listen?
Whether it was because I was talking on my own I don’t know, but I can’t think it would have made much difference with another half a dozen sufferers there.
There are various types of back pain. Disc trouble, sciatica, bone disease and muscular problems. None, I suspect, respond much to being spoken to. For a start, have you ever tried turning around and talking to your back? You could do yourself a mischief and then you would need therapy!

Barking up the wrong tree
There is to be a large, and no doubt barkingly expensive, government consultation about introducing competency tests for potential dog owners.
I think it’s rabid. There cannot be few subjects left upon which those who must be obeyed haven’t done a consultation.
The old dog licence, which had remained at 7s 6d in real money for years, was scrapped because it was costing them more to collect it than was gained in revenue. But competency tests, oh give over!
There is a problem in this country with irresponsible dog owners and dangerous dogs, it is a source of great annoyance to me as a dog owner.
I suggest the problem lies with the corrupt breeders of dangerous dogs, the idiots who keep them as status symbols and the authorities who turn a blind eye unless a pit bull bites them on the rear.
Compulsory micro-chipping is suggested, we all now trot around with doggy dropping bags and about the only place you can go in peace with a dog is into the countryside. I suggest the owners and breeders are given the treatment.
Microchip all owners found to be keeping dangerous dogs. By doing so if they ever acquired another dog the chip would alert the police who should go round with the largest police dog they can find and allow it to chew the owner’s differentials, slowly.
If that doesn’t work slap a collar on the owner with a large bell and a sign saying: “I am a half wit”.
They wouldn’t do it again.

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