I once lived on the same street in Chesterfield as EDWARD CARPENTER, the celebrated socialist, poet, vegetarian and activist for gay rights. But we weren't there at the same time. Edward stayed there in 1877.












Cleyhole Cake

Why is it called a Cleyhole Cake? Because I stay near Stranraer, also known as the Cleyhole, and I invented it, and since Dundee FC's duplicity dumped my team into the 4th division I'm not eating any cake that bears the name of that town.


12 oz  mixed fruit
4 oz margarine
1/4 pint water
4 oz sugar
8 oz self-raising flour
2 heaped teaspoonfuls cocoa powder
1 orange

Put the fruit, sugar, marge and water into a large saucepan and simmer it for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool down.

Cut the orange into halves. Squeeze the juice and pith from
both halves into the pan. Next, stir in the flour and cocoa.

Scoop the mixture into a greased cake tin and bake in the middle of the oven at about 150 degrees Celsius for up to an hour and a half, depending on whether you like your cake light brown, dark brown or black.

It's delicious and it's suitable for vegans. They don't sell anything as good in supermarkets nor, in my opinion, in cafes either.​​​

I can't speak for anybody else but I want to have my cake and eat it. What else am I going to do with it? I'm not going to make a tasty cake and then just throw it away uneaten!


Did I mention that I used to live in Chesterfield? For a good few  years my MP was Tony Benn. I met him lots of times and he was a genial and friendly guy. I also encountered Dennis Skinner but I'd sooner not talk about him. He was awfie rude. Now my MP is Alister Jack but please don't blame me. I never voted for him, obviously, (nor for David Mundell when I stayed in Annan) but I know somebody who did so and then boasted on Facebook that she had voted twice by post because her husband was away and she thought she would borrow his vote and send it along with her own. She also told her son to vote for Jack so that's at least 2 votes he shouldn't have got. Aye, and one electoral crime committed too.

Sometimes I used to go to a Costa coffee shop that was around 5 miles or so from our house. Then, another Costa's opened up just around the corner from where we stayed. It seemed daft to drive for 5 miles when I could walk 200 yards, but it was also silly to walk 200 yards to buy coffee when I could make my own, at home, for free. So I never drank Costa's coffee again.

No cure yet for the Coronavirus,

including these:

Here's a handy list of things, provided by The Ferret, that won't help anybody fight off or cure  Covid-19.

1. Vitamin C. There's no evidence that Vitamin C helps a body fight against  COVID-19. If it did so, we would all have been told to eat lots of fruit & vegetables, and I suppose thousands of folk would be arguing that the authorities are trying to take away their right to eat crisps and pizza instead.  In fact, we are advised to eat fruit & veg but that's a general bit of good advice and nothing to do with the virus.

2. Garlic. It'll not do anybody other than vampires any harm to eat garlic and it's a tasty addition to a diet but there's absolutely no reason to suggest that it's of any use against the coronavirus.

3. Drinking water every 15 minutes will just make you go to the toilet a lot more frequently. The idea that it might rinse the virus out of your throat and into your stomach, where it will be destroyed by acid, is a daft one. It won't.

4. Dettol. Some people posted photos on social media of bottles of Dettol where, on the back, it mentioned killing coronavirus germs, but this did not refer to new virus COVID-19.  If Dettol killed C-19 there'd be none left in the shops and we'd all have been given our very own bottle of the stuff. The makers of Dettol have never claimed it's of any value against C-19 and have also advised people to sling a deafie at Donald Trump and to not inject themselves with bleach.

5. Sunshine. There's no evidence that heat makes any difference. It wis sunny and warm in Spain an Italy, where in April the virus was killing more people than anywhere else in Europe.. There's nothing wrong with enjoying a bright day but don't get burnt; it'll hurt and it won't make any difference to whether you do or don't get infected.

6. Alcohol. Washing your hands in vodka isn't going to help because the alcohol levels in neat vodka are not enough to protect against the virus. And drinking it to excess is a bad idea; it could affect your immune system and make you more likely to become ill.

7. Even though a doctor has apparently said otherwise, plugging in a hairdryer and directing the air into your face and up your nose will do nothing for your health other than to possibly give you a nasty burn. The doctor that suggested that this would be useful is not a medical doctor; he's a Doctor of Education.

To the above we can add reiki, acupuncture, prayers, Hopi ear candling, crystals, Tarot and so on.


And let's not forget that thousands of folk die from malaria, TB and AIDS every week. None of the above suggestions help with those conditions, either.

Talking of Tony Benn, when his old colleague Barbara Castle (who, now I think of it, was born in Chesterfield) was dying in hospital, Channel 4 sent a team to his house to ask him to record an obituary for her. By the time the crew left he had done James Callaghan, Denis Healey and himself as well.

There's a clickbait advert on the net that asks "Do you have royal blood?" What a strange question. Royal blood is no different from normal, run of the mill blood. It's the same colour and circulates around the body in exactly the same way. Likewise, the aristocracy don't possess better- developed taste buds than anybody else, and their ears don't provide them with exceptionally high quality sound that the rest of us are unable to appreciate. On the other hand, it's quite possible that many of them don't know how to boil a kettle. 

Folk that dream of making a living from writing now have the opportunity to see their work published in Rolling Stone magazine. The drawback is that you have to pay them $2,000.

When you're a wee coal tit like this one, and ye've just flown into a window and knocked yourself dizzy, the best thing to do is to ask somebody to sit you in a nest made completely out of bird seed. All being well, you'll start eating your surroundings to build your strength back up and after a few minutes you'll be OK to fly away again. It certainly did the trick on this occasion.

If Dog Bites Man isn't considered newsworthy, why do the popular media still believe that Woman Has Breasts is worth reporting every day?


You don't have to spend money on food that comes in plastic containers. Make your own hummus by mashing up 1 or 2 tins of chick peas with a good clove or two of garlic and some salt, tahini and lemon juice. For chocolate pudding all you need is some Alpro custard and cocoa powder, mixed up together just as you would do if you were making a drink of cocoa. Mix a small amount of powder in a spot of custard to make a smooth paste and then top it up. But make sure to eat it on the day you make it because otherwise it loses its consistency overnight.


It looks to me that BBC3 is all about young adults with beautiful hair, classical torsos and glowing smiles having loads of fun and kissing each other. If you turn the telly onto the news channel there might well be an item about the problems of young people being bullied and feeling suicidal because they have a poor body image and consider themselves not pretty enough. I'm a wee bit surprised that nobody has made the obvious connection.

DEHENNA DAVISON, MP for Bishop Auckland in County Durham, is a radge, who finds it unusually difficult to recognise the difference between ordinary folk with conservative views and right wing extremist bams. She's been looking foolish for another reason recently; she sent a comic tweet saying that Richard Leonard is unpopular in Scotland because of his Lancashire accent. You'd think that the MP for Bishop Auckland would know the difference between Lancashire and Yorkshire, which borders County Durham and is where Richard Leonard comes from.


Richard Leonard grew up in Malton, which is only 50 miles away, as the crow flies, from Bishop Auckland. Ms Davison herself comes from Sheffield, which, of course, means that she is from Yorkshire too. Chuffin 'ell!

Chocolate Ginger Tiffin

Don't read this if you don't want to become as fat as the Empress of Blandings, but if you think life's too short to be worried you'll be needing:

2 or 3 handsful dried mixed fruit

1 large bar chocolate

1 pack ginger biscuits

2 tbs treacle

125 g marge

Put some greaseproof paper into a cooking tray. Beat the biscuits to smithereens with a rolling pin and put the wee bits in a bowl. Melt the marge and add it, along with the treacle and fruit, to the biscuit crumbs. Mix up the whole thing.

No cooking is necessary. Let it cool down and spread the mixture into the baking tray. Whan it's cool, melt the choc and spread it on the top, then transfer it to the fridge.


If a bald man was caught stealing tomatoes only a fool would claim that there was a connection between his baldness and the theft, but some dunderheids are quite happy to make sweeping statements about Jews, Muslims, women, black folk, the Irish &c. on equally flimsy grounds. Obviously, I'm far too reasonable a person to get involved in such bigotry so I'd like to make it clear that I'm only referring to a small minority when I say I've no time for dustbinmen, bus drivers, plastic coat hangers, door handles or people called Campbell.

If you watched ITV drama Des and also watched the documentary entitled The Real Des then you might well wonder what was the point of the drama when the other programme told the story more succinctly, less expensively and without making anything up.


Aye, David Tennant looked just like a mirror image of Dennis Nilsen but the real Nilsen was even more like him. Still, it was good to see the victims get a mention and their families a chance to talk about their feelings, and the two shows quashed for ever the image of Nilsen as a mild-mannered civil servant. It was bad enough that he was a murderer 15 times over but it turns out that he was unusually dislikeable and arrogant as well.

For a few minutes on 15 October the world, or at least the richer parts of it, smelled fresher. Peace broke out, there was less racism, fewer conspiracy theories were shared and the number of idle threats, insults and lies declined. Inappropriate use of the words fuck and cunt dropped by 95%. Then Twitter came back online and things turned to shite again.

Everybody has opinions but it's not always appropriate to share them. Here's a good example of when and how not to do so:

My friend Marie was having a secret affair with a man called Jimmy, who lived with his long time girlfriend. The only person she told about what was happening was her workplace best buddie, Liz, who was sometimes apt to be jealous. One day Marie came to work in tears; the previous evening Jimmy had told her that their relationship was over because he wanted to be fair to his loyal partner back at home. Liz took the opportunity to cheer Marie up and to get things off her chest at the same time, telling her that she had had a lucky escape; Jimmy was nice to look at but he was shallow and weak, a pathetic mummy's boy whom she had always known would break Marie's heart. Not only was he a moral coward but he was duplicitous and dishonest, and on top of all that he was thick as well.  A couple of days later Jimmy changed his mind, pledged his love to Marie and moved into her house.

Jimmy and Marie eventually got married, but Liz wasn't invited to the wedding. In fact as far as I know Marie never spoke to her again.

Vegans know that bourbon biscuits contain no animal products, but that they also lack the essential chocolatey quality that a proper biscuit requires. There's no need to worry; cover the bourbons with melted chocolate, leave them to set, et Voila! Penguins.

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