You Need the Knack

Friday 15/7/2005

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Diary and Notes

I'm visiting my crumbly relatives down South today. It's a bit like being a member of the British royal family and having sex: It's an unpleasant job but must be done.

Now I've mentioned the 'olds' before. I may have called them by a variety of names, very few of them kind, but I love them really. I do however feel a bit like a visitor from another planet whenever I'm there. They seem to live in some bizarre time warp where the twenty-first century hasn't penetrated (and in honesty much of the twentieth neither). They live in a small village in the middle of nowhere (Wiltshire) where it is still the custom to doff ones cap at ladies and to grovel obsequiously to any member of the landed gentry who might want to ride through your house on his horse and trample down the begonias.

The oddest thing about the old folks is the gadgets they own, strange and weird relics from bygone ages that though of no monetary value whatsoever, are a gold mine of cultural history and intellectual interest - especially as none of them works.

Unless you have the knack of course, you always need to know the knack.

I'm not talking about operating anything unusual such as an 19th century steam tractor, I'm talking about mundane objects such as doors, toilets and showers. Nothing works unless you have the knack.

If I left you there on your own I can guarantee you'd die of starvation, thirst, disease or some other unpleasentness caused by neglect. Firstly you would be trapped in whichever room you went into first as you would not be able to open the door to let yourself out - until you learn the knack of course. And to compound matters each door has its own knack. Some you have to lift and pull the handle at the same time, some you have to give a small kick at the bottom, others you just have to get somebody else to let you out from the other side. To operate the shower requires even more training and involves continuous adjustment of the temperature gauge whilst your under it.

And please don't ask me about the kitchen. I get so angry cooking there that I have often threatened to stab people.

Is this normal of old folks or is it just odd country bumpkin types? Do all old people live a Hillbilly existence, winding cranks on the tv to get a better picture and rewinding video cassettes by hand?

It's not that they don't have things or they are particularly poor, it's just everything that arrives in the house takes on a life of its own after a few months. Nothing is immune - new chairs become deformed so that you need to know the knack of sitting in them so as not to become disabled, brand new stereo systems quickly become lazy and begin to forget pre set radio stations. It happens to anything and everything, static, mechanical, electric, nothing is free of the curse of the knack.

Will it be like this for me when I am old?

If so, please put me out of my misery when the time comes.


I've not made a simple curry paste curry on my blog yet so I thought I'd have a go. This is the sort of thing most people make when they cook a curry for themselves, some meat, an onion and some curry paste. It wasn't inedible by any means, but I'd much rather a proper curry any day. At least the crumblies seemed to like it.

Cake Blog

McVities Chocolate Digestive Bar: My housemates stole some of these the other day and today bought some out of guilt when I explained I nearly didn't get a cake for my blog.


  • Patak's Turkey Curry
  • Rice
  • Chutney
  • Naan bread (Shop Bought)
  • Salad


    Patak's Turkey Curry
    500g Turkey Breast
    1 Onion
    1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
    1/2 Jar Patak's Curry Paste
    100g Creamed Coconut
    Fresh Coriander
    1 Lemon


  • Slice the onion and fry until brown in the oil. Add the turkey breast (cubed) and brown for a few minutes. Stir in the curry paste (I had korma but I don't think it makes much difference as they all taste pretty similar). Fry for about 5 minutes more then add the creamed coconut and enough water to make a sauce. Squirt in a little lemon juice and simmer for 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh coriander.


    *All quantities are very approximate and for three people