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Freedom of speech

Following the death of The One True Monarch, a complete twat by the name of Jaki stood outside of her fish and chip shop in Muir of Ord (up in the Highlands) shaking a bottle of champagne and declaring "Lizard Liz is dead" and "London Bridge has fallen", posting it on social media.

Aside: For anybody who missed the explanation, "London Bridge has fallen" is the not-even-remotely-secret code phrase that informed police and other services before any public announcement was made.

Now, we live in what is supposed to pass for a democracy. That means one can call the royal family a bunch of freeloading fake celebrities (or worse) without being hung for it. Compare and contrast with somewhere like, say, Thailand, where merely questioning the royals may well be a life ending event.

However, she really should have read the room. It's okay to be anti-royalist. The Prime Minister, who was the last PM to see her alive (and the fifteenth the Queen has seen) once screamed about the abolition of the royal institution.
But, really, when the major broadcasters wipe their schedules... when pretty much every major event over the weekend is cancelled... when the country goes into ten days of mourning... when the one person who was better known around the world than any football player or pop star you can mention, who brought crowds of tourists by the hundreds of thousands to London, and who so deliciously trolled some clueless American tourists... the person on every banknote and postage stamp (including some other countries)... has died...

...that is absolutely NOT the time to break the champagne and toast their demise.

Not surprisingly, she had to be rescued by police as her fish and chip shop, so uninspiringly named "Jaki's Fish and Chip Shop" was surrounded by a crowd who pelted the place with eggs and ketchup.

People think that "freedom of speech" allows one to say whatever they want. Within certain levels of decency, that is generally correct. However "freedom of speech" absolutely does not isolate or protect against the consequences of the things that are said.

So, I feel that Jaki was entitled to toast the demise of the Queen, just as I feel that trashing her business and ensuring that she'll not exactly be popular anywhere in the country that the Queen loved around town is perfectly suitable karmic retribution.
And, given that Jaki is the owner of Jaki's Fish and Chip Shop and was standing outside for her little display... what a stunning way to flush her business down the U bend. I'm impressed by the level of complete and utter cluelessness.
I bet she votes Conservative, too.


What concerns me is the NFFF, or the National Federation of Fish Fryers (I didn't even know that was a thing!) released a statement saying that they "have been made aware of social media posts in extremely bad taste and completely against all of the values our organisation and industry hold dear".
The board of fish fryers then took the decision to revoke this Jaki's membership and request her to remove all mentions of association with the NFFF.

I'm not sure I can agree with that. Yes, the imbecile said something rather unpleasant at possibly the worst possible moment. But, guys, you're effectively "cancelling" her for having an opinion.
What happens, for example, should the values that you hold dear extend to, say, homosexuality, immigration, race, Israel, Islam, class divisions, Ireland's border...?
What you should have done, if you felt that you had to do anything (and no, you really didn't), is release a strongly worded statement that the comments made by this person absolutely do not reflect you. That is all.
Otherwise concern yourself with the intricacies of frying fish. What oil, what temperature, the one correct way to batter a cod, that sort of thing. And stay the hell out of politics, ethics, and other people's ill-judged half-arsed incoherent babble.

Or, let's put it like this. If I ran a fish and chip shop, I may well be considering dropping you. Jaki was completely wrong, don't think I have the slightest bit of sympathy or even a violin to play. She may well have ended her business. That's on her. You, as a board of fish fryers, have no place wandering into that quagmire. You are demonstrating very clearly that one of the values that you do not hold dear is freedom of speech. The ability of an idiot to publicly make a fool of themselves. The crowd that turned up in response. The police that had to intervene. I think that's a pretty effective demonstration of how well her thoughts were received. You, fish fryers of Britain, did not need to intervene. You should not have intervened. Are you now going to intervene with any and every other business where the owner expresses a thought that you don't agree with? Have you even publicised a list of all of the values that you do agree with?
Sorry, NFFF. Jaki is stupid beyond belief for sure, but you... you're hanging on to her coattails.


Work and relaxation

I'm having an easy weekend. I should go and mow the grass (though in my defence it rained during the night so it's still rather wet) but I don't think I will. Or maybe just the potager with the little mower if I feel like it.

The thing is, as of Monday we're entering into peak period. That means a half hour extra a day through until December something-or-other. I'll be getting up at quarter to seven instead of quarter past, to be at work no later than about quarter past eight to drink my tea, then change, and finally clock in at half eight (instead of nine). I have chosen to do my extra half hour in the morning, so if I need to go to a rendezvous or the post office, I can do it before everything has closed as I finish at quarter to five in the afternoon.

It also means working every other Saturday morning, starting at 5am. Plus, I'll be spending the time in plonge, not doing my habitual work, which means seven hours of mind melt being a biological robot.

Still, can't complain too much. I have a job, I have an income (just about!), and I have a place of work that's only twenty minutes down the road (at 45kph), and best of all, I pretty much work entirely autonomously.


The company has also taken on two employment agencies who are now on-site every Monday and Thursday. It seems that France is also suffering from The Great Resignation. People don't really want to come and do this sort of work, certainly not for the unimpressive pay offered, and loads of people are turning down CDIs (full time contracts).
Personally, I think that's a bit crazy. Yes, I could probably bail on this job and get myself a nice six month placement that pays me twice what my hourly is now. But then what? For me, I feel that there is safety in a CDI. It opens up doors such as bank loans and such as - unless you do something bad enough to get fired or the company goes bust (or has to take drastic measures to avoid going bust) - you effectively have a job for life. CDI is a Contract of Duration Indeterminate.

This means a stable job. I can envisage, health and company fortunes permitting, getting up and going to work every working day for the next twenty(ish) years. Well, it's been fourteen already...

Stable job translates to stable income. I can budget and save, knowing that my pay will be more or less the same and regular. Actually, it does vary a bit (will these Saturdays be paid or will they be counted as hours)? But there's a base line I can depend upon.

This translates to fiscal stability should I want to have a bank loan. Something mom was very against was borrowing money (either loans, mortgages, or credit cards). So my only loan was a little one because I needed a car in a hurry. I have no plans, but, should things change, it's an option.

It also translates to professional security. Being on this contract, my employer is not entitled to transfer me or modify my salary without my agreement. This is a little loose because of clever wording like "polyvalent", but pretty much my job is my job and I'll continue doing it.
On the other hand, with fixed length or agency contracts, the company is perfectly able to offer you a new contract at a completely different position and potentially with a completely different pay. After all, what you did has ended, this is the new - it's like fire and rehire without the messy paperwork. Of course, you can always walk away, but then that leaves you looking for a job.

It also translates to various perks such as paid holidays, better rights for sick pay, and all sorts of other perks according to the company. I receive a 13th month in my January pay (which is a massive boost as effecively I'm paid twice that month), as well as a "prime d'anciennite" (perk of being there a long time) which is currently something like 2.5% of my monthly pay, which works out to be about €40 a month. These are brut figures, what arrives in my pocket is a little less. Doesn't sound like much, but it's a little under €500 (brut) a year. I also get one extra paid day off per year.
Granted, most of these perks didn't kick in until I had clocked up ten years, but you know, when it comes to work you pretty much have to look at it as a long term thing. Otherwise you'll just be bouncing from one place to the next until you hit whatever age (somewhere around 50) where nobody wants you any more.

The disadvantages of CDI? If you want to end your contract, you must give notice and work until the end. I think (but don't quote me on it) that it's one month minus any outstanding paid holiday days.
If something major happens, the company is entitled to suspend a contract within various legal frameworks. This happened when Covid hit, we were put on "chômage technique" where we worked... what was it, three days a week? Social security picked up the shortfall (not 100%, but not bad).
And, finally, right at the beginning you are on a trial period (duration stated in contract). If you don't seem to fit or get along, they can let you go without compensation. If you pass the trial duration, then that's it, you're a full time waged employee.


Aaaanyway, our peak production time, the mad rush headlong into Christmas, is now just beginning. Oh.... god.... Zzzzzzz! [warm up the kettle, I'm gonna need tea!]


Melon disaster

I had a melon that was ripening up nicely.

Now? The joys of having wildlife.

A pre-sampled melon
A pre-sampled melon.

So I have cut a nice looking one off the plant as half of it has the characteristic ribbing. It may, or may not, ripen off the plant. But honestly, I think I would prefer a melon that doesn't ripen to one that looks lovely right up until the point some little furry bastard sinks their teeth into it.


Lunch / Dinner and Cheese

I had planned to do a trial run making a stew, buying what I needed from the supermarket. But... that all sounded like a lot of bother.

So instead I bought a pack of potatoes.

The supermarket now stocks three types of cheddar... (It's! A! Dis! Grace!)

This is what real cheese looks like
This is what real cheese looks like.

Not shown is the supermarket own brand. It's not bad, it's certainly not that rubbery orange stuff trying to pass itself off as "cheddar", however it isn't aged for very long so it resembles cheddar but isn't the way I like it.

On the left, my habitual cheddar. From my country of birth, Seriously Strong extra mature cheddar. It doesn't say how long it has been aged. It just punches you in the face and says "long enough". No argument.

And on the right, the new one. I've not tried this yet. Hailing from The West Country, a handmade cheddar aged for nine months. West Country Farmhouse is a protected name (AOP in French) which refers to handmade cheddar aged for at least nine months, and produced in Somerset, Devon, Dorset, or Cornwall. It's a conglomerate, so there is no specific location of manufacture.

I have an open Seriously Strong that I'll be using today. When that runs low, I will probably open the West Country and maybe try them side by side.

My cheddars of choice so far have been:

  • Seriously Strong (finally available here in France!)
  • Cathedral City (unavailable in France)
  • And one that I don't remember the name of - it was Canadian and aged for twenty four months.
Maybe West Country can be added to the list? Given that it may well come from actual cheddar craftsmen in actual Cheddar, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this one!


A little aside here. A long time ago (circa 1995ish), a friend and I went to Cheddar Gorge. Unfortunately it was closed... for cleaning or some idiotic reason like that.

So we got ice creams and pulled over into a car park on a road surrounded by epic cliffs.
As I was eating the ice cream, I noticed a sign on one of the cliffs. "I wonder what that says?", I said.
We both looked at the cliffs and said "yup, doable", and set about climbing them. The one in the middle illuminated by the sun, starting pretty much where the label "Cliff Rd" is.

A pleasant cliff to stroll up and down.
A pleasant cliff to stroll up and down.
Picture from Google Streetview; © Google

When we got to the top, the sign was something like "DANGER OF DEATH! IT IS STRICTLY AND EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN TO CLIMB THESE CLIFFS."
Well, why the hell didn't they put one of those signs at the bottom?

But, you know, the car was down there in the car park. So we turned around and climbed back down.


Right. Back to lunch. The first thing I made was Betty Crocker cookies, a pack sent over from England that mixed up with softened butter and a dash of water. Even I couldn't screw that up. The best part? Firm on the outside and gooey on the inside, the way a cookie should be, and not like the French burnt offerings trying to pass themselves off as cookies.


I made nine. One was eaten warm as a test, and then to verify that test, it was necessary to sample a control cookie. Seven made it to the fridge (to keep the flies off, the windows are open).


Two large potatoes were selected, washed, oiled, and then baked slowly. And when I say slowly, I mean like the speed of Sunn O)))'s chord changes. Look up their Live at the Mayan concert on YouTube, you'll understand... just don't have your speakers up too loud at the start. It's perhaps the least accessible music to actually find an audience (though not for long, they'll be deaf by the end of the show).

Anyway, the spuds were cooked for a whole hour at 200°C in the Halogen cooker (the timer only goes up to 60 minutes). They were turned, and cooked for another hour. Which is about the speed Sunn O))) plays.

Potatoes in the halogen cooker
Potatoes in the halogen cooker.

Once that was done, they were cut upon and the insides smooshed up with a little butter. Scrambled egg was dropped on top, and a large dose of Seriously Strong on top of that. This was all passed through the microwave for a minute to make the cheese the correct amount of melty, and a dash of black pepper on top.

A late lunch, or early dinner
A late lunch, or early dinner.

And, of course, cookies to finish.


Now, I guess, to upload this and then go deal with some grass so I can tell myself that I did something useful today. ☺



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VinceH, 11th September 2022, 00:36
Aha. You clearly have already seen the interview I mentioned about the Queen and the Americans. Absolutely brilliant - it amused me greatly when it was first told during the jubilee celebrations, and still does now. 😁 
And to clarify something I don't think I made clear (or say at all); while I said the pro-free speech/anti-cancel culture brigade were being wierdly ironic about Jaki - yes, I think she was a blithering idiot for what she did. 
But their responses are still ironic!
Mick , 11th September 2022, 03:19
I get paid 4 weekly too. I was always getting in a mess as I'd look at my bank balance and spend it. Then all the bills would come out. Arrrgh! I ended up getting a second bank account just for bills. Instead of going spend crazy for the first x weeks, i got depressed as to how much pay left on payday after I'd transferred necessary funds to the bill account. 
Cheese: besides it being rancid spew, at least Truss is proud of it. We make more of it than the French apparently. She's very proud of the fact. 
Plenty of anti royalists about. I'm sad the Queen has passed myself, but happy Charles is next in line. Can you imagine if it was Andrew?
Rick, 11th September 2022, 10:43
If Andrew was next in line, it would at least give the Daily Mail plenty to write about so they could lay off Meghan for a while...
Rick, 11th September 2022, 10:50
I am not sure that you make *more*, the articles I have found says that Britain now makes more *varieties* than France, some 750 or so different types of cheese. 
If you make more, then why in 2014 was two thirds of cheese imported? That. Is. A. Disgrace! ;) 
Rick , 11th September 2022, 10:59
I get paid on the fifth of every month. Aside from the paper and phone/internet, the bills come out between the 7th and 14th. I also have an automatic transfer of €150 to my other account for paying the various insurances (home, car, me...). 
The way I have it running is that I always keep a cushion of €1000 in the account. And can spend as necessary down to that limit. 
Since I am not a fancy eater, don't have new computers or big TV, don't have vices like smokes or booze, and don't socialise or even go out much... I usually end the month a little ahead. So the difference is then pushed over into a savings account, where it can slowly accrue and be a reserve for things like new car, new mower, etc etc. I may eventually even think about <gasp> a holiday! 
There are many sacrifices along the way and some might find it intolerable, but I'm quite content to sit here alone and watch the birds frolicking on the roof. Well, a day doing that instead of hitting the town probably saved me something in the region of €100 buying stuff I don't need and overpriced food... Do that every weekend, that's four hundred (plus fuel), which is like a third of my pay! Thus, I can either be broke or I can watch the birds. Tweet tweet... 
David Pilling, 11th September 2022, 19:15
I sometimes find myself moderating a mostly US audience, I come across as against free speech, and they understand that living in a tyrannical country without their freedoms it is to be expected. Non the less I suspect we could not discuss here commissioning a crime. As they say there's no freedom to shout "Fire!" in a crowded cinema. 
When I was a kid, we practically chanted "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me". Hard to do that but probably a good attitude. 
Does not seem to be where the world is now. 
Rick, 11th September 2022, 20:10
Words can hurt, but these dad it seems like a lot of people are actively looking for reasons to be offended. 
Rick, 11th September 2022, 20:13
I don't think it's lawful to discuss commissioning a crime across the ocean either - US Code §373 for example... 
VinceH, 11th September 2022, 22:20
If the pen is truly mightier than the sword then "sticks and stones may break my bones... But words can cut much deeper." 
Rick , 11th September 2022, 22:31
Edward Bulwer-Lytton only said the pen is mightier than the sword because he'd never seen a katana... ;)

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