Out of the Frying Pan (2)

(Not to be confused with my original Out of the Frying Pan post from February last year)

I’m in two minds whether to fly this evening. We’re packed, we’re all checked in, our hosts are ready and waiting, the weather looks good and the boy can hardly wait and is literally twitching with mounting anticipation, but then I read this:

Official crime figures show the UK has a worse rate for all types of violence than the U.S. and even South Africa – widely considered one of the world’s most dangerous countries.

Seriaas? Seriaas.
Well – sort of, anyway – it is from the Daily Mail.

Completely violent: SA beaten back into 3rd place in hysterical Daily Mail article.

It’s nice to see that while SA is only the third most violent country on earth according to this survey, it somehow maintains the perception of being the gold standard when it comes to criminal naughtiness. Give it a couple of years and everyone will be comparing their violent crime rates to the UK:

Oh yes dear, I know Dennis was mugged twice last week, but it’s still nowhere near as bad as the UK.
And it’s not raining.

But I’m seriously considering a last minute change of destination to somewhere safer, like Baghdad or Kabul. Or maybe being adventurous but taking just a bit less risk by heading to Salzburg, famous as the historic birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Knifecrime.

EDIT: It’s a good job that forum is down for repairs. They’d be having a cadenza over this one.
Excuses central: more buts than a goats’ night out at Teazers. Hahaha!

Our wine, your wine

Living in South Africa has many advantages: the weather, the nice people, the lack of Gordon Brown, the amazing scenery and – especially for us folk down in the Western Cape – the easy access to some great wine.
I know you can get South African wine in the UK as well, but let me make this abundantly clear: there is the South African wine that gets exported to the UK for sale in Tesco, Asda and Thresher and there is the South African wine that we keep here for ourselves.

Sadly, there seems to be a new trend developing: to try and sell those commercially-named “export” wines over here, presumably on the grounds that if it’s good enough for Tesco, it’s good enough for the South African public. And we’re more used to the easy to understand wine nomenclature of <vineyard> <cultivar>, we’re starting to see ridiculous brand names like Railroad Red and Tall Horse appearing on the supermarket shelves of Constantia Pick n Pay – usually in the household cleaners and solvents aisles.

Step forward Flagstone Longitude. I’m not sure where it came from, but it ended up in our kitchen and it bears all the hallmarks of one of those “wines for over there”: Silly name, absence of any named vineyard, importer in Guildford on the back and that all important management style bullshit for people to read at their London dinner parties and nod pseudo-sagely.

Effortless access to masses of information and penetrating technology characterise our modern life. Yet, the more time-saving devices, the less time we seem to have. The more accurate our satellite navigation, the less we know of our origin… [etc etc etc… continues for another twenty minutes without actually making any reference  whatsoever to wine.] 

Oh do [shut up]*.

Flagstone Longitude is a red blend. For the novices among us, that means that there is more than one variety of grape in there. No problem with that, some of my favourite wines are red blends, especially the “Big Reds”, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot. I have to say though, most of my favourites tend to have two or three grapes in there, rather than the… er… eight in here:

wine

That’s: Cabernet Sauvignon 53%, Shiraz 31%, Tannat 6%, Malbec 5%, Petit Verdot 2%, Cabernet Franc 1%, Pinotage 1%, Merlot 1%. Wow.
Strangely reminiscent of our recent election results, with the leading cultivar just failing to secure a two-thirds majority thanks to Shiraz’s last-ditch “Stop Cab Sauv” campaign.

Presumably, those dinner party guests in Hampstead will muse over the unbelievable skill of the vintner in adjusting the delicate balance of the blend by adding subtle  “1%” touches of Merlot and Pinotage. Ja right.

Just so you know (because we know) you’re drinking our leftovers. Enjoy!

* careful and sensible self-censorship in case my mother reads this.

Tenuous terrorism charges

Now I know that terrorism versus civil liberties is a contentious issue and all, but I firmly believe that prevention is better than cure. And so, where there are reasonable grounds for suspicion that a terrorist act is going to take place, I would much prefer to see it nipped in the bud. Certainly that rather than some sort of rucksack- related Tube massacre and the security services telling us “Oh yeah – we kind of thought that was going to happen”.

That doesn’t mean that I am in favour of all the new laws which have recently been brought in in the UK by a struggling ZaNu-labour Government, though. The whole 42-days detention is a little OTT as far as I’m concerned. But of course, with the changing face of the terrorist threat over the past few years, some tightening up and realigning of the laws was certainly necessary.

But have these laws got a little bit daft now? Nothing so simple as “murder” or “rape” – two men in Blackburn have been charged (and here I quote):

…with possession of an article in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that possession is for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.

…over a plot (which didn’t exist) to assassinate Gordon Brown. Bit of a mouthful, hey? I wonder if the officer who read the suspects their rights had to have a little crib sheet to make sure he got it right.

OK. Enough of that. I am going to go and switch the kettle on in circumstances where the heating of water together with the possession of dark brown powder may give rise to a reasonable chance of preparation and inbibing of a pleasant morning beverage.