Monday, 29 December 2014

The Wheatsheaf, Old Glossop: a Review

It snowed yesterday (Saturday). Of course, where I reside in south-west Manchester snow rarely lasts, as the climate is too mild. Fortunately we are only a few miles from the Pennines, the so-called backbone of England. The journey towards the High Peak of Derbyshire was enchanting as the sky shone down from a perfectly azure sky turning the scenery into one gigantic piece of jewellry, dazzling with opals and diamonds.

[Image description: the pub cum restaurant's front façade; © The Wheatsheaf]

My companion, my assistant for the day, and I had set course for Glossop to meet an old, mutual chum. I could find no mention on Tripadvisor so had to look elsewhere. Google’s top recommendation for lunch on a Sunday, with 4.8 out of 5, is The Wheatsheaf situated close to the parish church in the conservation area of Old Glossop. We were greeted warmly by the family-run and family-friendly staff. Service throughout the repast was affable and for the most part efficient (and for those of us into redheads, an absolute æsthetic delight!).  The village pub cum restaurant is not only popular with locals but also with the many walkers that pass through to or from hikes on the high hills. Lunch on a Sunday is served from midday till eight in the evening (food last orders).

We arrived at one to find the place fairly empty; ninety minutes later there was not a seat to be had and standing-room only at the bar. There were families with babies/toddlers, retired couples, groups of young mates, a couple of gay chaps, middle-class posh car types, walkers in their paraphernalia, as well as locals. This rather suggests a place with an all-round good reputation. Our friend had dined there several times on previous occasions and pointed out that we would not be disappointed.

A warning for those allergic to pet hair: the pub allows dogs in the bar area, though I saw none in the eating side.

I tucked into a hearty sunday luncheon of half a dozen large and succulent slices of Mettricks' ‘High Peak’ (the local reared high hill) lamb with roasties (roast potatoes), Yorkshire pudding, and dark, thick gravy served with a side-dish of juliennes of tasty and unblemished orange carrots with florets of cauliflower and broccoli. This I washed down with a pint of Wren’s Nest (which I later discovered is brewed quite literally round the corner at Howard Town Brewery), a real ale (artisan-created as opposed to mass-produced), with a pale amber hue, a mild flavour and an oh-so-smooth texture. The beer’s flavour complemented the nutty flavour of the lamb just so.

[Image description: a bottle of Wren's Nest; © Howard Town Brewery]

For dessert, I selected home-made bread-and-butter pudding and opted for the custard accompaniment (one could also have chosen, cream or ice-cream). The pudding was laced with raisins and glacé cherries, so it may have been constructed from panettone slices. Whatever, it was totally delicious. The little jug of piping-hot custard was thick and the right side of lumpy - exactly the way I like it. Interestingly, the barman-cum-waiter (a very fetching ginger!) expected me to select custard. I wonder whether he is a fellow custard-lover! To accompany the sweet, I opted for a black coffee. There was no hint of bitterness; indeed, the blend was naturally sweet and mild; spot on with the creaminess of the bread-and-butter pudding.

A little aside here: I hate it when one orders black coffee and end up with a stained cup; the bowl in this instance was spotless, save for a few drops of the caffeinated nectar I was unable to swallow. Clean crockery! And on the subject of cleanliness, the cutlery was not watermarked - which either means the kitchen had a very expensive dishwasher or the knives, forks and spoons had been polished post-washing. The table too lacked any kind of stickiness or food detritus; neither did the menus, which also had nary a trace of residue on the covers nor on the laminated pages.

This might also be the appropriate juncture to point out the pristine state of the gents’ WCs. The sanitary-ware was unmarked and there was no malodorous aroma in the urinal area. The floor was clean and dry. There was pump-dispensed soap by the sink. And, although the hand-dryer was kaput, a supply of paper-towels and a table-top bin for the soiled ones had been conveniently placed near the wash-basin. I could not see a disabled convenience (I later determined there is not one) and there was no hand-rail down/up the two steps to/from the gents and the ladies. However, they were shallow in depth and there was a handy ledge above the dado-rails either side of the steps upon which I was able to lean to aid supporting myself.

The bill came to just under sixty pounds (£60), which for two courses apiece and five drinks (including two that were alcoholic) was a very reasonable price.

Despite being packed out, we were not rushed nor made to feel that we needed to vacate our table.

I certainly would return for a meal in the future and recommend The Wheatsheaf to my regular readers.

[Image description: post-prandial stroll down Church St. South,
the parish church to the right]

"Irene's home cooking with Bobs passion for meat have made The Wheatsheaf Steakhouse dining room the No 1 Pub in the Glossop area for quality food."

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Alan Turing Blog-Post Passes 100,000 Views!

[Image description: statue of Alan Turing draped in rainbow flag and bedecked with cards, flowers and candles]

It is quite incredible more than one hundred thousand (100,000) folk have read my article on my queer hero, Alan Turing. It is my top post by far.

To all my readers: many, many thanks.
Much appreciated.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Offensive Language - @#!!*{&¡?$

[Please note that words or phrases that may cause offence (offense) will appear throughout this article. If the reader is likely to be offended and might become upset at being offended, then read no further!]

Yesterday The Indy newspaper asked what one called food from a Chinese restaurant, as apparently a populist politician had justified one of his party's prospective candidates use of the word "chinky". Below is a link to the article and the headline, followed by my comment and various folks' response before I sum up at the end.

'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Like ·  · 
  • 305 people like this.
  • Colin-Roy Hunter Criquaer
    Write a comment...
  • Colin-Roy Hunter Criquaer I am fifty years old, liberal and non-partisan. I have called Chinese take-aways chinkies all my life. My Concise Oxford Dictionary (2001 Ed., p.247) states that the term "chinky' is offensive if used in relation to a Chinese person, but NOT in relation to Chinese eateries. Offence is in the ear of the listener or the eye of the reader. Context is all.
    Like · Reply · 63 · 15 hrs
    • 'Ian L. Hannaford Well stated Colin-Roy Hunter Criquaer!
      Like · 2 · 15 hrs
    • Dimas Putra just stop calling chinese ppl or foods 'chinky' if they are offended because of that word
      Like · 7 · 15 hrs
    • Robert Miller i suppose you get your daily mail from the paki shop too ?
      Like · 40 · 15 hrs
    • Ian Richardson Your;e kind of 30+years out od date. I'm aware there are some eledewrly donsausrs who;ve never cottoned to changing their language. 99% of us who were brought up with it have and dropped the tearm years ago.
      Like · 13 · 15 hrs
    • Annie Johnston So a Chinese person who is offended at being called a 'chinky' would be fine with a takeaway being called that, because the dictionary says so. Garbage!!
      Like · 18 · 15 hrs
    • Cat Furniss Robert- brilliant. You win comment of the day.
      Like · 5 · 15 hrs
    • Andy Palmer Consider this - you and some others are ordering take away. Imagine you don't know everyone really well. 

      One guy's Chinese. 

      Do you suggest a 'chinky'?

      If no - it shouldn't matter whether he was there or not.
      Like · 10 · 15 hrs
    • Paul Bowtell Colin-Roy: well said, there are too many professionally outraged these days. Mountain out of a molehill springs to mind.
      Like · 3 · 15 hrs
    • Andrew Wale Still, now you know that some Chinese people are offended by the term, you will choose to stop using it won't you?
      Like · 5 · 15 hrs
    • John Walker I love to see the intellectually challenged trying to justify their hateful weasel words, we can now recognise them by the rancid political party they belong to, unfortunately they think it gives their archaic beliefs some sort of relevance.
      Like · 9 · 15 hrs
    • Cat Furniss Hey you guys! I just found the N word in my Oxford concise dictionary and it says its OK to use it as long as we're not talking about black people so we should all totally start throwing the n word around, screw what anyone else thinks , doesn't matter if it's disgusting in one context if the dictionary says it's OK!
      Like · 11 · 15 hrs
    • Cat Furniss I'm obviously joking, but just to clarify: offensive language is not OK *even if* the dictionary says it's OK...
      Like · 7 · 15 hrs
    • Nathan Harrison Is the dictionary a legal document ?
      Like · 3 · 14 hrs
    • David Waldock You know the OED reflects established use, and isn't the arbiter of offence, right?
      Unlike · 6 · 14 hrs
    • Jake Smith Are you sure It's not the one from 1951?
      Like · 5 · 14 hrs
    • Joanne Bradley Isn't it always funny, that its the white folk who tell us what the minorities are offended by
      Like · 7 · 14 hrs
    • Joanne Bradley Hey Cat, its ok for Black people to use the term themselves though eh, pc all for the white folk. You really need to do your research on the back ground of political correctness, whilst I am in no way defending the use of this tone the organisation who brought it out was the Frankfurt school of marxism, so as to silence debate. When are black people going stick up for me if I am called honky.
      Like · 4 · 14 hrs
    • John Walker Because white folk usually think they're right, Joanne. Sad but true.
      Like · 1 · 14 hrs
    • Roy Sholay I don't give a monkeys waft it says in the dictionary or what context the person used it in. If a person of that ethnicity is offended by it, that's all there is to it.
      Like · 7 · 14 hrs
    • Gary Galbraith Fair comment Roy. But what about those of them who aren't because they have a grasp of what 'context' actually means ?
      Like · 14 hrs
    • Ian Smith It must be the context that is important if not all of those rappers are racists!
      Like · 13 hrs
    • Jason Burke So I guess we'll have to stop calling Australians Aussies and they stop calling us Pommies. I believe Paki is a shortened version of Pakistani, like we abbreviate many things.
      Like · 13 hrs
    • Nikolay Krustev You are 50 years behind in time, end of story. No One cares what you called them. Do you go to a German pub and call it "lets visit the Jerry"?
      Like · 3 · 13 hrs
    • Davey Gwynne joanne, the difference being between black people and white people using the N word is black people deserve to reclaim said word AFTER BEING SCREAMED THAT WORD AT THEM AS THEY ARE BEING WHIPPED TO DEATH BY WHITE PEOPLE. is that clear? moron.
      Like · 4 · 13 hrs
    • Leon Reeves Colin-Roy Hunter Criquaer: Doesn't matter how eloquently you state your racism.
      Like · 6 · 13 hrs
    • Davey Gwynne oh and jason, ask some pakistani people if you can refer to them as "pakis" and see what the response is. go on, i dare you.
      Like · 7 · 13 hrs
    • Khayer Abdul If Chinese generally find it offensive then the word should be banned. There a reason why the old dictionary has it and not the new one I guess. And when people try succeed from poor backgrounds it's to better themselves and be a good example not remain a yob!
      Like · 2 · 12 hrs
    • Chris Singer I'm Welsh and have been called Taff for years. It's a term used sometimes in a derogatory manner. But do you know what I'm Welsh and proud of it. I to have always called my Chinese meals chinkies. I have never referred to a person as such. There is too much PC correctness that is causing divide. I agree offence is in the ear of the listener and eye of the reader. 
      Unlike · 2 · 12 hrs · Edited
    • Veruschka Jose Bryant Oh I see, so because you are a self proclaimed "liberal" it makes you immune from giving consideration to the derogatory historical context the word "chink" and hence the implied derogatory nature of a colloquialism like "chinkies". Do you also think that calling those black gob-stopper style sweets "niggerballs" is ok?
      Like · 2 · 12 hrs · Edited
    • Darlajaan Daulatiya Really, how utterly foolish it sounds.
      Like · 11 hrs
    • Jan Ennis-Clark No manners and loads of excuses for having no manners.
      Like · 11 hrs
    • Tom Mah I agree we must change our dictionaries to recognise the world has moved on , sometimes for the better. The fact that I may have used racist language all my life is no excuse not to change for the better. Language is often used to ' put people down'. ...See More
      Like · 10 hrs
    • Max Lee Hey colorless honky
      Like · 9 hrs
    • Colin-Roy Hunter Criquaer Thanks for all your comments folks, both the knee-jerk and more thoughtful ones. I am happy to attempt to understand other opinion - but that does not mean I have to follow it. I do not particularly care whether or not I cause anyone offence. Free speech is essentially about saying what you wish, in so far as one remains within the law. It is noreworthy that much art & literature challenges & offends.
      It is interesting that some commentators would like me to use modern English language usage, which presumably means I ought to be swearing every word and using the latest youth argot (I imagine many will be cringing at the very thought already).
      I am gay and disabled and label myself a cripple, a wheelie and a queer. I own the language, and as such, it cannot be used to make me feel insulted even if meant to insult. My use of such terms upsets some folk within my communities. But for my own amour-propre, my stance is appropriate to my personal well-being.
      The obsession with "correct" language is diversionary and reminds me very much of "1984".
      I for one shall not be telling folk what they can or cannot say; one is at liberty to take one's one stance and I am in no position to criticise such.
      Like · 

I was born in 1964. When growing up in north-west Cheshire there were no Indian take-aways (take-outs), no pizza parlours, no Thai restaurants, no McDonalds, KFCs nor Subways; there was however a Chinese restaurant, The Lantern, run by the father of my school-chum, Soo Yeung. In a sea of white faces, she was the only child of any other ethnicity in the school, until the arrival of some Vietnamese refugees. As I grew older my father began to work with and became friends with a black man, with a very posh RP accent. His son would occasionally come round to play with us or would join us for outings. There were no folk of any colour other than white living in our lower middle-class neighbourhood.

Back in the nineties, when one of my siblings was discussing which school to send  my nephews to, out of a choice of three - a lack-lustre lower middle-class predominantly white school; a very pushy academic middle-middle-class predominantly white school; or, a mixed-class, mixed-race school - I suggested the one that would allow the children to encounter the most diverse range of potential chums. And I am glad to say, my advice was taken and acted upon.

Nowadays, I live on a middle-class housing estate on National Trust land not far from the parental home. I have Anglican, Agnostic, Atheist, Chinese, Church of South India, Hindu, Humanist, Muslim, Roman Catholic and Sikh neighbours. We get together for occasions like Bonfire Night, Hallowe'en, Christmas Carols, World Cup, the Olympics, BBQ's, Children in Need and so on. Folk share their baking, their garden produce and look out for one another's children.

I honestly cannot say that I do not see the shades of their respective skins - but only in the same way I observe anyone for new hairstyle, clothes, make-up, spectacles and so forth. In my neighbourhood there is only one person with whom I do not really get along, but that is due to personality clash - she is however white.

Am I racist? I often question whether I am. If I find I am judging a whole race - such as Jews after some atrocity committed by the Israeli armed forces - I remind myself that not all Jews are war-mongers, that many folk in Israel demonstrate for peace. I calm myself. I bring to mind the lovely Jewish people I have known and those with whom I am still acquainted. I ponder the warmest of welcomes at various synagogues I have had the privilege to visit. I turn my thoughts to the personal, to the individual and then it is impossible to feel anger, just a flowing of love for friends, for fellow humans. I suspect many folk occasionally re-act in an emotional knee-jerk fashion complaining about a whole race; but then, as they calm down, permit reason to take over. I do not think this is racism. The reader may - and is quite entitled to - think the opposite.

Readers of this blog are aware that I have health issues and impairments, I am disabled. It is obvious I do not have an issue with describing myself as crippled. Yes cripple can be pejorative; yes it can be a term of pity; but for me it is merely descriptive, for I am de facto crippled. I am also queer - gay, a poof or poofter, a shirt-lifter, a fudge-packer,…. These terms and many others have been thrown at me since I was a young lad. I am non-conformist and rarely succumb to peer-pressure: I like to think for myself and will not have my decisions made for me. Straight friends occasionally will use one or other terms in jest. I know from their facial expression, their body-language, the inflection and tone used and by the delivery. Occasionally - very rarely I must admit - I have had these terms launched at me in the street with anger, hate and vitriol. I can tell the difference. As I stated in my initial comment to the newspaper item, "Context is all."

I consider that words are neutral: it is how they are used that makes words good or bad. Even the phrase "I love you" can be filled with malevolence - ask someone who has been domestically abused.

So now then, do I ever get offended myself. I have been rattling my brain to think of an occasion when I have been and I genuinely cannot recall such. No doubt I must have been at some point in my past, but it must have been so slight as to make no lasting impression.

Of course some folk go out of their way to cause offence: this can be seen at its extreme in US shock-jocks, but also in the UK in commentary pieces in some newspapers or even on television.

However, whether someone has the intention to try to cause offence or not, it is within ourselves whether we actually become offended.

The use of the words "penis" and "vagina" are seldom heard on television programmes. They are anatomical words used by medics, biologists and so forth. So what is the issue? Perhaps some folk are discomfited by reference to toileting habits; others to the fact these body parts are involved in sex; for still others they have been told by those who raised them that these words are "dirty" and not to be used in polite society; and so on… The point I am trying to make is that one's own discomfort at the use of any given word can be quite personal, bringing emotional resonance to the fore and causing embarrassment &/or fear, which in turn is transmuted into taking offence. It is a form of deflection from acknowledging something which we do not wish to fully address or grapple with. We fear we may be racist, sexist, whatever, so we don a veneer of outrage to disguise what we truly think and feel or what we might think or feel. This is why many artists/writers try to shock and cause offence, to help us look deeper or in a different way at matters.

Language usage, naturally, does change over time. The term "gay" was included in reading-scheme books when I was at school: it meant happy, cheerful and carefree. Now of course the first thing that comes to mind is "homosexual". In the mid-1990's the GayWay reading scheme books were replaced with the name NewWay to take account of this fundamental change. Though my grandparents' generation still use the former meaning.

[Image description: one of the GayWay front covers]

When I use the term "chinky" it is affectionate: it brings to mind birthday parties and wedding anniversaries celebrated in my home town's solitary Chinese restaurant; it makes me recall all the occasions I have passed the time of day with the person out front whilst awaiting my take-aways to be cooked; I remember gifts presented to me for Chinese New Year given for loyalty to the eatery; and most of all it brings back family and friends no longer with us, who shared a chinky with me, especially my maternal grandmother.

Please don't judge me harshly for not wanting to let go of the term! %)