Follow the Leader

Tuesday 26/4/2005

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Diary and Notes

During this election I have been making extra special effort to watch the leaders and see just how they look, how they come over to me, the man in the street - are they looking tired, are they overly tanned, do they have spots of blood on their teeth? These things aside, what I have been observing above all is how happy they look, whether they seem content with their lot in the world, for I believe this to be the foremost characteristic we should look for in a leader.

I'm not actually talking about politicians here, but those who guide us or those we are drawn to, to be guided by. I shall use as a case in point - a guy I know called Dan who is studying political philosophy. Dan (as far as I can tell) is not a happy chap. I have never heard him say anything positive about anyone or anything. He complains about the weather, foreigners, his work, having to cook his own dinner, not being able to cook his own dinner and just about anything else that might be the topic of conversation. I think it is also relevent that Dan is a follower of Nietzsche, that most depressing of philosophers, who himself was an unhappy man and died of syphilis at an early age. I have known other people who folllow political/ethical/religious doctrines who have also been generally unhappy - people with guilt complexes, people who thought the world was going to end, people who thought they'd sinned and would be punished, people who thought they had sinned and had been punished, all manner of depressives, fascists, reactionaries and bigots. I'm not having a go at religion or philosophy here, all I'm doing is asking why anyone would choose to follow a doctrine that made them unhappy - or more importantly, why would anybody follow somebody who seemed unhappy themselves, what have they to teach?

In looking for somebody to guide you through the maze of existence, what can be gained by following somebody who seems to be less happy than yourself? If somebody claims to know the answer to what life is about, surely their knowledge (if true) would not make them worse off. Hitler was an unhappy man, I would never had followed him, Stalin likewise. I doubt Thomas Hobbes was the happiest of chaps, nor the cynics, sceptics, soviet style communists, arch capitalists, neo-conservatives, anti-globalists or ultra environmentalists.

I'm not arguing for unbridled hedonism. All I am saying is that if I were choosing somebody to follow, it would be somebody who seemed happy and content in themselves, somebody who seemed to find the peace that everybody all shouts about - but wasn't shouting themselves.

These people I talk of are probably just a dream, a wish - they probably don't and never did exist, but in choosing somebody to follow, even if it's out of three no hopers, I'll still pick the person who seems the happiest, the one who seems to have gotten closest to sorting his own life out before he embarks on the nearly hopeless task of trying to sort out everybody else's.

I am watching you smile men in suits. Watching and seeing if your smiles are genuine. I think I shall give my vote to whoever I feel, deep down, is the most satisfied in himself. At least I wont have been lied to or spun - this one's not so easy to fake.


Less politics more dinner:

Spätzel are a sort of German home made pasta. They're long and thin but not normally well shaped - being a more rustic creation. They're normally served with crispy bacon bits on top but I didn't do this as I thought it might clash with the fish.

Hoki: This is a really cheap alternative to cod/haddock and with the dwindling fish stocks should be sold in every fish and chip shop everywhere. If anyone can tell the difference between a fillet of hoki or a fillet of cod I'd be surprised. If you're too snooty to eat hoki, buy some cod instead and perhaps a bone will get lodged in your throat.

Cake Blog

A chocolate corn flake cake from one of the local bakers (I might go back to making cakes tomorrow) - doesn't it look all sad and lonely - I ate it to ease its suffering.


  • Poached Hoki with Horseradish Sauce and Braised Celery Heart
  • Spätzel
  • Baltic Rye Bread


    Poached Hoki with Horseradish Sauce
    200g Hoki Fillet
    50g Butter
    Little Lemon Zest
    50ml White Wine
    1 Celery Heart
    1 Tbsp Creamed Horseradish
    Flat Leaf Parsley
    White Pepper
    75g Plain Flour
    1 Egg
    1 Tbsp Milk
    1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
    Pinch Salt


  • Hoki: Melt a little butter in a pan. Trim the celery heart and cut into two lengthways. Fry the celery until brown on both sides. Add a few thin slices of lemon zest and the wine. Poach slowly for 5 minutes then add the hoki fillet and poach for a further 10 minutes (the celery should be soft by this stage). Remove the fish and celery and keep warm. Turn up the heat and reduce the liquid by 1/2 then add the rest of the butter, the creamed horseradish and some chopped flat leaf parsley. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the fish.
  • Spätzel: Sieve the flour and add a pinch of salt. Mix in a beaten egg then a little milk. Keep mixing until a thick paste forms then add a little vegetable oil and mix again to form a thick batter (almost dough consistency). Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. When the pan is boiling, wet a chopping board and lay the batter on the board. With a sharp knife cut thin strips of batter and scrape off the board into the boiling water. Boil the sätzel for about three minutes then drain and serve.


    *All quantities are very approximate and for a single person