Thursday, 22 July 2010

Postcards From The Veg: The Arctic Circle

Right, so, for those of you not in the know, Neil has buggered off on a journey around the world to find the answer to the energy crisis (or any other crisis you can think of)via the medium of vegetables and today I received a postcard from the Arctic Circle. Yes, I know he was in Cape Verde last week; I can only assume that his geography skills aren't that hot. Like the rest of him, being in a rather chilly location. Heh.

Here's what he had to say:

Greetings Vegemites!

The dwarf pirates of Cape Verde were more than helpful - one of them, Sneezy, happened to have a good doctor friend who also treated the son of a transport magnate. Twenty-seven quick phone calls later, and I was on a flight to Norway, and then transferred to a luxury cabin upon an expedition ship headed for Longyearbyen, a port situated on the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago.

It was pretty cold, and my luggage had mysteriously disappeared. Later I saw a member of the crew walking past in my best feather boa. Still, the crew was polite, if a little light-fingered. They pointed out many of the wonders of the area to me, including icebergs, ice floes, and icebergs. And polar bears, including a little orphaned bear we found floating on an enormous frozen celeriac. No, actually, it was an iceberg.

The little polar bear - nicknamed Roary - was delightful as long as it wasn't annoyed. I fed it cows' milk fortified with a paste made from Swedes. That's the inhabitants of Sweden, not the vegetable. Well, I don't think polar bears eat vegetables, do they? And there was a plethora of Swedes on board, attending an iceberg-shaped souvenir selling convention. Nobody missed a few.

So - world peace via vegetables not achieved this week, vegemites. But one little polar bear kept happy. Perhaps the little things are all we can really aim for. Huge happiness can only be made up of so many tiny good deads, right? I mean deeds.

Signing off until next time,



This trip seems to be taking a macabre turn, wouldn't you say? Hmm.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Crying Out For a Trained Professional

Hubby and I watched The Fellowship of the Ring again last night (definitely the best of the LOTR films, as the other two seem to get stuck in slo-mo hell every now and again) and I was struck by the way the Ring of Power (worthy of capital letters, methinks) got lost. And became myth. And then became legend. You get the idea.

When Gandalf comes across that ring at Bilbo's birthday bash, he's not sure what it is. So he goes off to Minas Tirith and, there in the cellars, he looks through a heap of unnumbered dusty scrolls until he finds a very accurate depiction of the Ring of Power and its horribleness.

The library obviously didn't have anybody in charge of it. It was a mess. It occurred to me - and I said this to Hubby before he shushed me - that it needed a properly trained librarian to bring order to chaos. And I bet if a librarian had been working there people never would have forgotten about the incredibly important ring in the first place. That librarian would have made a note of it somewhere and things that should not have been forgotten wouldn't have been.

Just saying.

Now, Terry Pratchett, he has the right idea. He's put a trained professional into his library in Ankh-Morpork university. Nobody point out it's an orangutan, okay?

Monday, 12 July 2010

From verdant shores

Just a quick one before I have to take the toucan for a walk: my post for The Bookseller's Futurebook blog went up today, talking about my experiences trying to get published and producing The New Goodbye. And I hear word the music video has gone under the editor's knife, so that should be with us soon, in all its technicolour, stop-motion glory.

In other news, I'm surprised to find they've never heard of asparagus here.

Postcards From The Veg: Cape Verde

Phew! After an anxious weekend spent wondering what has happened to m'blog-buddy, I received a letter this morning. Things had indeed got a bit hairy for him while travelling from Fuerteventura by boat, but his common sense and chutzpah carried him through:

Dear Vegemites,

I took a slow boat from the Canaries, planning to sail around the Cape of Good Hope to reach Madagascar, but after only a few days on a barely seaworthy vessel (never make your travelling decisions at 3.00am after a large amount of tapas and Napoleon Brandy, that's all I have to say) it became obvious that the captain did not have my best interests at heart. I was locked in a small cabin and fresh drinking water was only provided if I agreed to perform the Macarena every evening for the amusement of the crew. It was humiliating, and in no way helpful on my tour to find out about the top secret usages of vegetables around the planet.

At least this shameful episode did not last long. On the fourth evening the crew interrupted me mid-hip-sway; they rushed to the side of the boat and pointed at the sail in the distance. The Jolly Roger! As they grew closer I felt hope and despair in equal measure; I had to hope they were a nicer bunch with less predilection for modern dance. I stood utterly still, my hands in the air, as they boarded the boat. They were a fearsome sight - none of them over 3 feet high, and armed with fake beards, pointy hats and cutlasses, they were the dread dwarf pirates of Cape Verde. They killed every single member of the crew, including the odious captain, and I sank to my knees, which brought me level with the eyes of their leader, Grumpy.

I didn't beg. I slowly reached into my bag and took out a radish I had been saving for the journey. I offered it to him - he took it, sniffed it, licked it, bit in, devoured it - yes! He was a vegetable lover, just like me! He unrolled a map on the deck and pointed to where the best vegetables grew around here, then offered me a slice of thick white fibrous vegetable with a sweet taste, which he called Manioc. It was delicious.

Having found something in common, he was delighted to help me out; he instructed his second-in-command, Bashful, to take me to their homeland, the beautiful Cape Verde, and it is from there that I send this letter. Awesome vegetables here, particularly the Manioc. There are two types - one can be eaten raw, and the other must be pulped and cooked to remove the natural toxins. The pirates grate them and sprinkle them over every meal, just as Italians would use parmesan. What an experience!

For now, au revoir, and keep munching,



That was a lucky escape, huh?

Monday, 5 July 2010

Postcards From The Veg: Fuerteventura

Yay! Neil arrived safely in Fuerteventura as part one of his mission around the globe to see how vegetables are being used in unique and exciting ways to combat a number of worldwide problems. His first missive has arrived for us underlings - let me share it with you here. Unfortunately, he forgot to take his camera so I've had to recreate his experiences through the medium of Playmobil. Neil is the Playmobil figure in green trousers.

Dear Vegemites,

Hail from sunnie Fuerteventura! Bananas, tomatoes, oranges and olives are widely available here but you won't find much in the way of a root crop, which makes the decision by SPROUT (Society of Progressive Research On Ugly Turnips) to set up shop here quite a surprising one.

SPROUT has been working tirelessly for the last three years on the sister project of CERN's LHD in the search for that elusive particle, the Higgs Boson. There is a little known quote from top Physicist Nils Nilssen - "The Higgs-Boson could be anywhere... so why not start by looking in the easy places? Take a trip to the Canaries and split open a turnip or two." This became the inspiration for the building of the Small Hadron Collider (seen in the picture below - Aliya), which is manned by Mr Harold Trike, formerly of Kettering, and a team of trained parrots.

The SHD (interestingly enough, situated within Mr Trike's own shed) works on mains electricity. The turnip is inserted into the GST (green slidey tray), which then is rammed at great speed into a set of rotating knives. The GST is then removed to the garden area, where the parrots pick over the tiny particles in the hope of spotting the Higgs-Boson. If this was to occur, the lucky parrot would emit three piercing squawks and would attempt to hold the particle still in its beak until the arrival of Mr Trike, whereupon it would be rewarded with a little bell and a cuttlefish. There have been a number of false alarms, says Mr Trike, but no solid results as yet.

When questioned about the likelihood of the parrots spotting an infinitesimally small particle, a SPROUT representative pointed out that, "the parrots don't know that they're looking for it anyway, and wouldn't recognise it if it slapped them around the beak with a giant cuddly toy wearing a tee shirt that said HIGGS-BOSON WOZ HERE on it. This is the upper end of theoretical physics we're talking about here.'

And now, I must away to the next stage of my journey. Good luck in all your endeavours, Vegemites!


Well, he sounds very chipper, doesn't he? He must be having fun. I wouldn't have minded a trip to the Canaries. I'm just saying.