David Cameron’s Memoirs – Sneak Preview

The country has let me down, you know. Let me be quite clear on this; you have let me down, all of you, and I’m so disappointed I have resigned, and will now be able to take many more holidays with my money in Panama.

I bet you didn’t even know that my clever old Dad practically invented tax dodging, which is really called efficient money management, of course. Because of him, I was born very well off, and had quite a struggle to make my way in the world.

When I was young, people realised I was extremely clever, and a jolly nice sort, and Dad sent me off to Eton, so he could enjoy my company. While I was there, there was absolutely no trouble of any kind, and there was certainly nothing about cannabis.

And, you know, going to Eton was quite surprisingly useful, as it let me get into Oxford University to continue my education afterwards. Hardly anyone realises that one simply has to do that sort of thing, no matter how easy one finds it. You must ignore my good friend, Lord Ashcroft, who says in his book, which isn’t as wonderful as mine, that I behaved dreadfully at Oxford. He pretends that I used to spend a lot of time with James Delingpole, smoking cannabis, and listening to Supertramp. [1] 

Now, listen, it’s jolly obvious that none of that is true, as I actually joined a club of people who understood that money had no great importance, and spent a lot of time appreciating fine wines. Or spent time appreciating a fine lot of wine. It was something like that, as far as I can remember. Take no notice of my fine friend, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who says the Bullingdon club was a truly shameful vignette of almost superhuman undergraduate arrogance, toffishness and twittishness”. He forgets that we would generously give the ashes of fifty pound notes to beggars, and besides, good friend though he has always been, he is a bit Turkish in origin, and can’t really be trusted at all, about anything.

Because Oxford showed everyone how clever I was, I became a member of the Conservative Party. And I was elected as an MP, for Witney, a place that had previously had a Labour MP in 1999. The country clearly needed me, and I soon became leader of the Conservative Party, and then Prime Minister. That’s the most important job of all, so the country was jolly lucky to get me. And, you know, I was jolly pumped by all that, and went around making lots of pledges, vows, and promises. When the time came, and I hadn’t fulfilled any of them, I simply had all trace of them deleted from the Internet. [3] After I explained how this would help to clear up the mess I claimed Labour had made, especially the financial disaster they caused, not bankers, everyone was very pleased.

You can’t keep all the chaps happy all the time, of course, and a large part of my united Conservative Party hated Europe,  and had been complaining about it ever since we went in, in 1975. [4] I was keen to unite my wonderful party, and decided to call an advisory referendum, in order to show these chaps who was the boss. Letting the public imagine they are having a democratic choice about things was an awfully wizard wheeze. I was bound to win this one, you see. Then everyone would unite behind me, preferably without their usual knives, and all would be well within my Europe. Gosh, I was jolly pumped!

I wasn’t too bothered by the shocking lies being told by the frog-faced fellow, Garage (ghost writer, please check this name) and good old Boris, and completely unconcerned by the way some quite nasty racists were joining in with the #Brexit campaign, as they were calling it. Naturally, it would have been undemocratic of me to intervene, and attempt to counteract their lies in any way, especially as they pointed out that we didn’t need any experts warning us about the dire consequences of leaving.

I was certain people would understand that this was not a vote about getting rid of coloured people and Muslims. And we didn’t need an expert to tell us they couldn’t possibly win by driving round in a bus with a huge lie on the side. I knew £350m was the wrong figure, you see, and we were working hard to dismantle the NHS, so why would we spend money on that?

On June 24th, I found that the public had betrayed me, as a quarter of them had voted to leave the EU, in spite of me doing almost nothing at all to explain all the huge advantages of staying in.

So, rather than bothering to sort out the utter mess I had made, I just resigned to spend more time with my money. 

The End.

[1]  Lord Ashcroft’s book that Isabel Oakeshott wrote for him.
[2]  Wikipedia: The Bullingdon Club
[3]  Rewriting history to make me look super.
[4]  The Tory split on Europe.

Online webcam project, part 2.

Trigger warning.

Stop! Don’t look at the following photographs if you are offended by ugly applications of hot glue.

I found what I thought would be the ideal case for the camera and Pi in the kitchen. It was one of those Tesco plastic food boxes with clips and a watertight seal, and it had nasty cracks in the base in just the right spot to cut a hole for the lens. Using a variety of inappropriate tools, I made the necessary hole, and fixed the lens into it with hot glue.

Ugly hot glue!

As I warned you, very ugly hot glue. Note that it covers the join between the two parts of the lens, which I hope will ensure our good Welsh rain can’t get in between the lens elements. The next steps were to screw the inner lens cap in place, and mount the Raspberry Pi Zero inside the box. I was going to put it in the same part of the box as the lens and camera, but every arrangement I tried had the USB wireless antenna rather close to the camera and its cable. So, I mounted the Pi Zero in the lid of the box with a goodly lump of White Tac.


A notch in the edge of the box, for the power cable, was the next thing. It’s at the bottom, and only a very small percentage of the rain around here falls upwards, so it may be OK without any sealant. I have more White Tac if there is a problem…


Getting the camera to take a picture every ten minutes is not a problem, thanks to cron and the bash shell.

The intention is to use lftp to upload the pictures to the web host, but finding a decent example of code that will do that is not proving easy. Please feel free to comment if you have something suitable.

I shouldn’t have too much difficulty hacking out a web page for the picture to live in, as I am not planning anything fancy, so I’ll just use HTML, like the rest of my site.

Online webcam project, part 1.

Having decided to share the view at the back of our house with the rest of the world, I’ve finally got started. After all, it’s a pretty amazing view at times. Here’s what it was like recently. Even when it’s blurred, it’s good!


I’m using a standard Raspberry Pi camera, and a Pi Zero to do this. Here’s the camera. I took a cheap Vivitar wide angle converter, made a hole in the rear lens cap, and glued the camera’s mounting kit to it, using a cheap glue gun.


Here’s the current state of the thing.


I connected to the PI with x11vnc, and took a test shot. The result is nicely in focus, thanks to the cunning design of the adapter lens, and gives a good wide angle view of the study.


Next, I need to set up the Raspberry Pi to upload pictures to my web site every few minutes, make a page on the web site for people to gawp at, and put the Pi in a waterproof case.

How not to do photography.

Well, I woke up this morning… (generic blues verse)

I woke up at four in the morning, for no obvious reason, and noticed that there was very bright moonlight outside, and pretty fog in the lower ground areas. The moon was very high, though, and I would have had to use a wide angle lens, which would have made all the trees look small, so I decided to wake up again in a couple of hours, reasoning that the moon should be about 30º lower in the sky, by then.

Amazingly, I woke up at six-ish. A quick squint through the viewfinder  showed I was going to need 30 second exposures. So I went and got the tripod, and opened the bedroom window wide. Autofocus couldn’t find anything to lock on to, so I switched it off. Turned the focus ring to what I thought was infinity, and it looked OK in the viewfinder.

Mistake one. It was actually quite badly out of focus.

Mistake two. I had been taking pictures for eBay, and had left the camera set on low resolution.

Mistake three. I realised this after four shots or so, and thought I had changed it, but forgot to press Set.

Mistake four was stopping to load the first four pictures onto the computer to see how they looked. While I did that, it clouded over.

Incidentally, I have no idea why WordPress chooses to put the pictures in a sequence that is unrelated to the order they were taken in.

Mistake five was not bothering to get the remote shutter release thingy, as I thought any shaking from just pressing the button would hardly matter in a 30 second exposure.

Here are the results. Try to pretend not to see any of the problems, because they are really rather pretty anyway…..



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A duck roast.

duck01 We had a roast-in-the-bag duck crown in the freezer, but I wanted to feed the three of us, so I bought a couple of extra duck breasts. These Gressingham duck items seem to be in most UK supermarkets, and they are rather good. I also didn’t want to have all the faff of cutting the duck off the bones after it was duck02cooked, so I decided to remove all the bones before starting, and combine all the meat into a single roast. On the left, you can see what is inside the roasting bag. The legs, and the tail end have gone to other customers. I often use the leg joints for confit duck.

duck03Anyway, I sharpened my boning knife, and set to… here I have cut away the wings, and started to separate the breast from the rib cage, taking care not to cut the skin.


duck04By this point, the rib cage, spine, and shoulder bones have gone into the stock pot, along with the wings, and are being boiled up for a lovely stock. The whole thing is a bit untidy, as this was the first attempt at this task, so I cut off the untidy edges, and rendered the fat from them, to add to my collection of duck fat. duck05When I have enough, I will be able to do confit duck legs again.

I skinned the two separate breasts, rendering the fat from the skin, and put the breasts on the flat piece of meat. Out with the trusty supply of butchers’ string, and I eventually trussed the meat into a fairly tidy joint. duck06The picture shows the second try, because the first time I did it, the two separate duck breasts slid out as I tightened the knots. It probably wasn’t as funny as I thought…
duck07Here it is, in the handy aluminium tray that was supplied with the duck crown. I inserted a thermometer probe into the duck, as I didn’t want to ruin it by overcooking it. Anything over 50ºC would do that, according to the online sources I looked at. That’s 122ºF, if you are cooking in old money, as I believe some
duck09countries do. I roasted it at 180ºC until the thermometer started beeping, and took it out of the oven to rest while I cooked the vegetables. The heat in the outer parts of the duck were conducted to the centre, and I was quite worried as it achieved a core temperature of 55ºC during that time, with no additional heat.
But, as you can see, the meat was still nicely pink and succulent. I would have liked the skin on the outside to be crispy, and will use a much hotter oven the next duck10time I try this. Overall, though, I was very pleased with this meal. The sauce was a chicken gravy from the store cupboard (Bisto, since you ask) flavoured with some hoi-sin sauce. New potatoes, sweetcorn, and soya beans were good, too.





A recent lasagne…

IMG_20160830_173149Here are some of the things I used to make a recent lasagne. It’s fairly hard to see, but there’s a bowl of home grown garlic at the back, on the right. Just push garlic cloves that are too small to bother peeling into the ground. A few months later, they will have multiplied enormously, and somehow pulled themselves down until they are six inches underground. I have no idea how they manage to do that, but they do. I must remember to ask my favourite botanist, if he ever visits us.

IMG_20160830_175521This is the humble, yet powerful, Oxo cube that I used, to flavour the rather insipid looking beef mince. Some people tear the foil off, and crumble the cube with their fingers. Try this… Pull the little flaps out as shown, and hit the cube a couple of times IMG_20160830_175534with your palm, until it is flattened. Now you can just rip it and tip the powdered Oxo straight into the pan. Isn’t that clever? I would credit the source of the tip, if I could remember it.

IMG_20160830_175603That meat will need to be browned properly, of course, before you carry on making the sauce, but you know that, don’t you? I wasn’t following a recipe, just doing what seemed likely to be the way I have made lasagne before.

IMG_20160830_181542Now some recipes have you put layers of sauce in with the layers of meat and pasta. I don’t do that, mainly because it increases hugely the amount of sauce you will need, and tends to make the final dish sloppy. I have been known to put in layers of grated cheese, and that can work quite well, but this lasagne didn’t have any.

Making the sauce is something one IMG_20160830_182615ends up knowing how to do without measuring things. A lump of butter of a certain size. A big, but not too big, spoonful of flour. Do not forget Colman’s mustard powder, about half a teaspoonful. It’s not enough to make the sauce taste mustardy, but it will seem dull if you forget to put it in. IMG_20160830_182651The butter and flour have to be cooked until there is what one recipe book describes as a “biscuity smell”.

You can see how it looks after the first little bit of milk has been added, in the third shot of the pan. Gradually, more milk is added, until the sauce seems runny enough to add grated IMG_20160830_182728cheese. Please use a decent Cheddar, not soapy cheap stuff.

Lately, I have taken to cooking the layered meat sauce and pasta while I make the cheese sauce for the top, and that does help to prevent it from being sloppy. The result can be seen in the last IMG_20160830_194550picture, along with a salad that miraculously appeared while the lasagne was cooking.

Nice tins of cider also got onto the table, and made the meal even more pleasant.