Confessions of an expat – don’t choke on the bones

roti 1
Handle with care: this roti looks soft and harmless but there coule be a chicken’s broken ankle in there

It was a bar by the beach at Pigeon Point, Tobago. We had only recently arrived in the island and were keen to try things out. Including the food. I had been looking up some of the oddities that were advertised, such as Buss up Shut. Apparently that was originally bust-up shirt, but given the Trini-speak treatment, and that is what it looks like – a shirt that’s been mistreated. And it’s a kind of roti.

Okay, what’s a roti?

To those not from Trinidad and Tobago, trying to understand their version of English, roti sounds like the past participle of the French word for roast. But no, it’s not a roast anything.  “It’s a… it’s kind of hard to explain,” said the very pleasant Indian-heritage woman who appeared to own the place. But the people over there were eating one, so we had a look and decided to give it a go.

The basis of the roti is a flatbread, like a chapatti or what in some countries is called a wrap – a soft piece of bread rolled up with some kind of filling.

roti 3
Highly skilled: they make the dough big and work it with sticks

I ordered a meat one and was taken aback to be warned that it would contain bones and I should be careful. The thing about getting used to another culture is that you have to tread carefully. In England I would have helpfully suggested that they take the bloody bones out – which I still don’t think would be an unreasonable request- but if that’s the way things are done, then who am I to argue?

In some countries butchery is an art, with carcasses taken apart by skill rather than brute force. But there are also places – Venezuela is one and this seems to be another – where all that’s required is a heavy meat cleaver and some muscle. Instead of disassembling by separating the bones at joints, they give the thing a hefty whack that no leg can withstand and abracadabra: two pieces of meat – plus shards of spiky, dangerous bone.

roti 2
Tasty, satisfying and messy – like a lot of things

 

One of life’s simple pleasures is watching people do something very well. It doesn’t really matter what they are good at, and butchery is as valid as sculpture or even accountancy. But wielding a sharp, weighty instrument instead is what gives butchery a bad name. It’s why when we say something was butchered we don’t mean a nice job was done, we mean it was the work of an unskilled, unsubtle person or a thug. There’s a horrible scene in The English Patient where a Gestapo officer takes someone’s thumbs off with a knife, but at least he does it skilfully.

But back to the roti. The fact that it is coming to be regarded as the national dish should not be taken as a criticism of TT food. There are plenty of local specialities that rarely make it onto the menus of posh restaurants, but the same could be said of many countries. In fact, the nations that do have a variety of famous dishes are the exception, rather than the rule. France remains the king of the food world, while Italy has taken the humble material that is pasta and come up with variations adorned with meaty sauces that can be found in every town from Alice Springs to Ankara.

roti 4
Eat in or take away

As for the rest of us, we’re comparative amateurs. What has the mighty USA got to call its own? The hamburger, that’s all. England? Roast beef, and maybe fish and chips. Spain? Paella.

It’s all poor man’s food dressed up. Paella might sound like a treat when you didn’t grow up with it, but all it was originally was a load of yellow rice with whatever was available at the time. In a restaurant you might find it loaded with seafood and meat, but 100 years ago Senora Gomez was lucky if she could find a handful of peas and a few scraps of leftover chicken to throw in, so she will have made damned sure the rice was tasty enough to appease her ravenous family.

India has done a good job of using a few herbs and spices that may have been used originally to disguise the taste of dodgy meat, while the Chinese have built a worldwide reputation on the distinctly unexotic monosodium glutamate. Obviously there are talented chefs who can whip up a chop suey or a curry that is on a culinary par with coq au vin or the most exquisite seafood salad, but there aren’t enough geniuses to go round.

There is nothing wrong with local food, wherever you are. It just might not be what you are accustomed to. You might, for instance, have a natural dislike of choking or breaking teeth.

 

Ref! Scandal!

The candid thoughts of Premier League referee Colin Preece, as recorded by our eavesdropping mole in the Duck and Peasant.

 Referee

Evening lads. What’s the smirk for then, Dave? Rumours? The world of professional football is full of them, mate. About a referee?

Oh, that. “Top ref Preece in love triangle” – that was in the Express, was it? Well I thought you might have some knowledge of that, because someone obviously talked to the media.

No, Baz, not Yvonne’s daughter. She’s only 16, for Christ’s sake. One of her teachers, yes, a grown woman. Twenty-one, if you must know. Just started at the school, teaching social studies, whatever that means. She did try to explain but I wasn’t concentrating, I suppose. And I met her because I take a keen interest in my stepdaughter’s education. So I went to a parents’ evening and she’s all “Oh, I’ve seen you on TV, haven’t I? Yeah, I’m an Arsenal fan,” she goes.

And it all went from there. Discussing football, Dave, that’s where. We went for a drink – not here, obviously, I’m not that stupid. Ended up back at her place looking at memorabilia she’s got. She was a Thierry Henry fan but she also liked Dennis Bergkamp, and she thinks there is a resemblance between me and the Dutch master. What do you reckon? More Tony Adams? You cheeky git.

Can we talk about football now? Thank you. Yes, Arsenal, as it goes. Because, Baz, they’re having an interesting season. They’ve got a chance of winning the Premier League. Funny squad, though. Full of great players who don’t do it week in, week out. Unlike me, Dave, yes, very funny.

I mean people like Tomas Rosicki, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere. They’re in for a couple of games and all’s well, and then they’re injured again or something. If they could put out a full squad for months at a time they’d be walking it.

Cheers, Gary. Half a bitter, thanks. Because, Baz, I’m cutting down. Don’t want to get a beergut like you, do I? Don’t want to be dead at 50. It’s got nothing to do with her, and she is not “the girl I’m living with”, as you so salaciously put it. Salacious. It means having sexual overtones or something. There’s nothing wrong with looking after yourself, and I’ve got to stay in shape for the refereeing. You can’t run up and down a pitch for 90 minutes trying to keep up with Aaron Ramsey if you’re dragging your stomach behind you.

Anyway, go on, what do you lot think about Arsenal? You hope they keep it up, do you? They’re not going to lie down and take it? They’re not going to roll over when the big boys are all over them? Gentlemen, enough of the innuendo. You’re about as subtle as a centre back. Yes, Gary, that was quick. Cheers. I’ll tell you what her midfield is like, mate, it’s skilful, energetic and it does a lot of pressing. That what you wanted to hear? It’s none of your frigging business and I’ll thank you to stick to football matters in future.

 

 

 

 

Dear Whoever – Disasters and atheists

She's young, she's innocent, she's growing up in our dirty old world. And she's wondering what the hell is going on.
This is the world through the eyes of a child.

girl bomb

Dear Whoever,

I’m praying to you but I don’t know who you are. My grandparents used to pray to God, but now lots of people say there is no such person and anyone who’s religious is just imagining it. And other people say there is, but not the one that Christians call God, the one who had a son called Jesus. They have other names for their god. Whatever, this is what’s on my mind this week.

Natural disasters. What’s that all about? Earthquakes, like there was this week in Taiwan. Loads of people killed and injured for no apparent reason. I can see why people in previous centuries thought those sorts of things were divine punishments. Even today there are people who think that – mainly those who haven’t had much of an education.

In the developed world, where we’ve all got some kind of grasp of science, we can either imagine how an earthquake or something happens, or at least we will believe the experts who tell us how and why they happen.

Tectonic plates, seismic shifts, all that sort of thing. We don’t really understand, but we know somebody who does, so we’re not afraid that it’s going to happen to us if we do something bad.

I think that’s why there are so many people nowadays that don’t believe in God. They think humans are so clever that we can work everything out for ourselves.

I suppose that’s true up to a point. Scientists are finding things out all the time, or at least coming up with theories. The Big Bang Theory, for instance. That really makes me laugh. The idea that the universe wasn’t created by a brain, a mind, but by an unexplainable event way, way in the past, that started life on earth, and we’ve learned more and more and become more and more sophisticated to the point that now we’ve got space stations and brain surgery, microwavable popcorn and Justin Bieber.

I’m not knocking Justin Bieber. A lot of my friends like him and I suppose I must admit he’s quite cute.

But getting back to the debate, God vs science, the atheists often argue that if there was a god, how come bad things like earthquakes happen.

And all I can say to that is this: “I don’t know.” But if it’s all down to us to solve the world’s problems, we’re not doing a very good job of it, are we?

It’s a complex subject, probably the most complex one you could possibly think of. And wasn’t the Big Bang Theory disproved recently? That’s the thing about humans and science. We accept one theory until further down the line somebody proves it wasn’t true all along. So having faith in something a scientist tells you is just like having a religious faith.

In all the years man has roamed this planet, fouling it up as he went, nobody has proved that God didn’t exist. I know that’s not as good as proving that he does exist, but each to his own, in my opinion. Non-believers just like to mock other people, I suppose.

 

 

 

Bloke in the Kitchen. Pork chops with something ricey

kitchen

Taking the mystery and fear out of cooking

paella 2
Whizz up something like this and then…

Paella might be the classic, the best known of all the random rice dishes, but it doesn’t have a monopoly on the principle.

What you’re doing is using rice as the bulk of the meal and adding flavor and dietary goodness. That’s how paella started out: it was a cheap and easy way of feeding the family. The rice provided the bulk and you just added whatever you happened to have. If you lived in the countryside you might have chicken or some other kind of meat. On the coast you could possibly lay your hands on some squid or octopus, mussels, clams, whatever.

Those of us with access to supermarkets don’t have to go and kill an animal or get wet finding seafood. But we can use the paella idea. The main difference is that with paella the rice is cooked with the other ingredients, whereas we’re doing it separately.

COWBOY TIP

Part of paella’s appeal lies in the fact that the rice is yellow. You can buy yellow rice. Or you can buy saffron and dye the rice with that while it’s cooking.

Saffron can be quite expensive, but turmeric does the same trick, so you could use that instead.

chops
…plonk some of these on top

INGREDIENTS

Long grain rice

Saffron or turmeric (if you don’t have yellow rice).

Onions

Garlic

Pork chops

Mushrooms

Diced vegetables (not frozen or canned -do it yourself)

You’ll need a big frying pan to do everything except boil the rice.

METHOD

Fry some onions and garlic, chop some mushrooms up small and add them. If you also add peas, celery, red pepper etc. (chopped up small), you’ve got a paella-type dish going. When the onions are starting to brown and everything is soft, scoop it out and put it aside.

In the same pan, fry the chops. The pan should be oily enough already.

While that is happening, boil some rice and add the saffron or turmeric. Throw in half a chicken stock cube for extra flavour if you find it lacking the first time you do it.

Drain the rice as well as you can.

Remove the chops and set aside, keeping them warm.

Put the rice in the pan. Don’t use any more oil, because what you’ve got there is highly flavoured liquid gold. Nothing is wasted. You’ve got the taste of the onions, garlic and mushrooms and the juices from the chops.

Add the onion and mushroom mixture (including the extra vegetables if you used them) and let the whole thing sizzle away, stirring to spread the savoury flavours around.

When all the flavor is in the rice, serve with the chops on top.

 

The wisdom of pop songs – Rebellion, morality and abuse

The human condition explained in three-minute bursts
rebel
Standing by their man: the girls don’t care what anybody says. He’s not a troublemaker, he’s sweeeet

It is not pop music’s job to present the world in a politically correct way. When pop and rock were young they were about rebellion. It was all about F*ck you, I’m doing it my way. But the songs are written by individuals, people with their own views on morality, and things have certainly changed.

Rock’n’roll began in the 1950s, when the transition from child to adult acquired a new stage and a new name: teenagers. Even then, though, the kids who were riding on Elvis Presley’s coat tails were pioneers and the world had yet to see how they could gain power and independence.

What Elvis did looks pretty mild to a generation that grew up looking at porn on the internet. So he waggled his hips a bit: whoopee dee. Go man go.

The main problem affecting teenagers in those days was that they had nowhere to go and no privacy. Being promiscuous is a lot easier if your parents aren’t on the premises on guard duty 24 hours a day. And that is what teenage rebellion is concerned with really. Yes, it’s about what you wear and having to go to school when you don’t want to and being expected to eat what’s put in front of you. But for many, if the girl or boy of your choice was in bed waiting for you, you’d have that homework done and that broccoli eaten in no time.

to sir
Just say no, Sid

Notable among the few who didn’t go along with the rebellion were the Beach Boys, whose early material contained wimp-outs like When I Grow Up to be a Man and Wouldn’t it be Nice. Good songs, but it seems that Brian Wilson was resigned to not getting his rocks off until he was 21.

Such tame acceptance was the exception, though. Everybody else was trying to kick doors down.

Songs with a moral message didn’t start to sneak through until the second wave of rebellion, in the hippie-powered late 60s, some of the barriers had been knocked down. While the barriers are up and stopping you from getting into trouble, you can rail at them all you like because nothing’s going to happen.

Thus it was okay in the 1967 for a schoolgirl to sing a love song to a teacher, as in To Sir With Love, written by men but sung by young Scottish minx Lulu.

A friend who taught me right from wrong
And weak from strong.
That’s a lot to learn.
What can I give you in return?

don't stand
And you’re not helping the situation by clowning around

Twenty years later Sting, who had been a teacher before finding fame with The Police, was urging her Don’t Stand So Close to Me, because there was every chance they would end up at his place doing an intensive class in sexual intercourse. And while that wouldn’t have gone down too well at any time in history, the AIDS scare of the late 70s had seen the start of what looked like (but wasn’t, as it turned out) a new Victorian era.

The issue of teenage pregnancy, which the contraceptive pill had promised but failed to resolve, was treated as a source of shame until Madonna got on the case in 1986 with Papa Don’t Preach, in which she informs her Dad that she is keeping her baby.

And now look at the world, dads might say.

madonna
Keep, it, love. Nobody’s arguing with you

There was a saying in the hazy hippie days and into the aimless early 70s: If it feels good, do it. It wasn’t an original thought, and the song that came out of it (Della Reese and others recorded it) wasn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last to bear that title. Not different versions of the same song, but different songs with the same name, because it’s a thought that strikes similar characters of different generations.

As so often, it doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, but then it’s just a snappy title and they are just pop songs.

luka

Sexual and physical abuse may never have been fashionable subjects for songs, but then they weren’t talked about much until relatively recently.

Two that must embarrass the Who’s highly respected leader Pete Townshend are both on the band’s 1969 rock opera album Tommy, and both written by the late bass player John Entwistle. First there is Fiddle About, in which wicked Uncle Ernie gleefully describes molesting a young boy, while Cousin Kevin brings us a similarly gruesome tale of tying the deaf, dumb and blind kid to a chair and torturing him. What larks we had in the 60s, children. Many people – presumably including Townshend and Entwistle – actually thought they were quite funny at the time.

Suzanne Vega wiped the smiles off with Luka, in which the girl of the title asks the neighbours to ignore her plight as she gets audibly knocked about.

You’re only hit until you cry
And after that you don’t ask why
You just don’t argue anymore.

Compare that with the Crystals’ 1962 song He Hit Me (and it felt like a kiss), written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. This was apparently inspired by an abusive relationship suffered by their babysitter (Little Eva before she became famous with The Locomotion) and was meant to condemn the violence, which perhaps goes to show that irony (saying the opposite of what you mean) doesn’t really work in print or in song. The story goes that Eva had provoked the boyfriend by her relationship with another man, and saw his violent reaction as proof that he loved her. It’s a festering stew of twisted logic, masochism and sheer stupidity that wouldn’t be allowed to enter our ears nowadays.

he hit me
Yes, them again. Hmm, so you’re not going to press charges against this ‘rebel’, then?

But that’s how we got to where we are now, the age of political correctness: people wanted to save us from ourselves.

There is a very different take on hedonism, which tends to take hold soon after the carefree boom has started to fade: “If it feels good, it must be risky and bad, immoral and dangerous to your health.” But that’s a fine, upstanding, clean-living adult thought, and there’s very little room in pop music for that kind of thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kaycee’s Klasic Films – The Bridges of Madison County

Siobhan Kennedy-Clarke’s classic film reviews
Our fictitious reviewer Siobhan (KayCee) didn't have much of an education but she's passionate about films

bridges

How can you go wrong with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep there both always good aren’t they? Well this is a great example both getting on a bit even when it was made 1995 but life ain’t just for kids is it. Clint is a photographer who is doing a job for a magazine taking pictures of bridges in you guessed it Madison County I don’t know where that is but it doesn’t matter America somewhere and Meryl is a housewife around there whose husband and kids are away for the weekend. Clint turns up and she shows him the bridges there covered which apparently makes them interesting.

Sounds like a recipe for hanky panky don’t it and your right even though there both middle aged she’s bored rigid with her life in the sticks and he’s a red blooded male and honestly any man who finds himself in that situation with a woman like her and any woman with a man like him there bound to do it aren’t they.

What makes this a bit different is that the relationship is a sort of flashback because the Meryl character is dead and her son and daughter are going through her things and come across a diary and other stuff that tells about the affair.

Honestly its as romantic as hell you know its wrong but its a little glimpse of happiness for both of them and you can’t hold it against them I reckon.

Clint directed it and I wonder if he’d always wanted to get his hands on Meryl and this was a way to do it. I suppose you shouldn’t think like that but it’s a possibility isn’t it. Just perfect casting though I suppose and anyway that’s by the by it’s the film we’re looking at not real life.

Its sort of peaceful and it keeps going back to the son and daughter and your thinking go on give her a break she was a good mother and so what if she had a bit of a private episode it didn’t do no one no harm did it.

Bridges 2

This was virginally a book and after the film they made it into a musical which might be okay I suppose if you like musicals I don’t find them very realistic myself.

One critic described the film as “total eroticism within perfect virtue” and I’m glad he did because I would never have found the words to say that but its true. There is nothing really explicit in it but they fall for each other so hard that you can bet they did some exploring and yet after a bath and a cup of tea their back to normal.

The touching thing is that they decided not to ruin her life or her family’s life so they just put their relationship in a kind of memory box and just thought about it and how things might of been I suppose. Sometimes things are better left like that because the magic could wear off pretty quick if reality gets involved but it must take some self discipline and I don’t know if I could do it personal.

 

 

 

The English Pedant – Me, myself and I

Pedant door
Whoever came up with this, congratulations and I’ll be happy to credit you if you let me know.

There is a basic bit of bad grammar that primary school teachers have been trying to eradicate for decades, possibly centuries. It is the child’s tendency, when talking about himself and another person, to say “Me and Charlie went to the beach yesterday”.

There are two things wrong with this: firstly, out of courtesy we should put the other person first.

Secondly, but perhaps more importantly, it’s not me, it’s I. If were talking only about ourselves it would be “I went to the beach”. So why should it change just because there’s someone else involved?

Having learned that it should be “Charlie and I”, off we go down the conversational road with the impression that me is a bad word.

It’s not. Me is used when we’re the object, the person on the receiving and. So “I talked to him” is correct. But when the other person is the subject and we are the object, it’s “He talked to me.” Just as he and him change around according to who’s doing the doing, so I and me change too.

So far, so good. But then we get to the point where something happens to both of us – we are the objects, not the subject. “It happened to him and me”. He changes to him, and I changes to me. It is not “It happened to him and I”.

It’s “between you and me”, not “between you and I”.

Going back to Charlie and me (not Charlie and I, because we are not doing the going), maybe it is because the name doesn’t change that people assume the personal pronoun shouldn’t either.

There are people who will go to any lengths to avoid referring to themselves as “me”. They’ll say “There were just the two of us at the meeting. Myself and him.”

It’s done with the best of intentions – it’s just misguided.

And that’s all from me for now.

Confessions of an Expat – Weather: you like it or not

palm trees
Arr, there be a storm a-brewin’ and no mistake

Science has produced some wonderful things, from space travel to swing-lid kitchen bins. But let’s not forget the natural things that add atmosphere – extremes of weather.

It depends where you’re living, of course. As a British expat living in the relentless heat of the tropics (currently Suriname), I look at the BBC world news and see that back in the UK they’re having storms and in the USA they’ve got a band of snow so severe that they’ve given it a nickname – Snowmageddon.

I belong to an expat group that meets once a month to have a few drinks and swap stories. Common topics are bureaucracy and the cost of living, but everyone likes to talk about where they come from too.

Once I talked to a couple who were from the south of Canada, and so sick were they of the heat in Paramaribo that when they went home for a holiday, they found Vancouver too mild and went up north because they wanted to be really cold for a while.

There’s an expression in the UK, often prefaced by something like: ‘my Dad used to tell me…’: ‘You’ve got to have a winter to have a summer,’ and while it would take a bit of research and interpretation to prove or disprove that, the thought is a pleasant enough one. How about a couple of feet of snow – the steady, thick, peaceful, Disney type – that lasts for weeks and forces us all to re-evaluate our need to leave the house (and certainly our need to use a car). Put another log on the fire, or turn the heating up a notch, and read the whole of the weekend papers, rather than wasting half a tree by only looking at one section. Perhaps for some people life really is like a Christmas card scene, a winter idyll spent cracking walnuts in their elbows, roasting chestnuts for loved ones and peeling satsumas (make that clementines – satsumas sound too modern and foreign).

snow
Blizzard? Pull yourselves together, humans

In an ideal world there would be a seamless transition from the snowdrifts into a balmy spring and a blazing summer. No slush or clearing up and certainly no March winds.

It may be futile to wonder why we should put up with coldish, damp days in exchange for warmish, overcast ones later on – but there is nothing wrong with a bit of December daydreaming.

Bring on the blizzard if it comes with a free heatwave next year. Let’s have the monsoon that heralds a hot, dry spell from May to September.

We’re all very wise these days, if the expressions we use are any guide. A popular choice is the carousel-inspired ‘What goes around comes around’, i.e. if you do something (usually bad), the same will happen to you later.

lightning
We love a natural light show: just as long as it’s not too close

By extension, if we have an electrical storm of tropical proportions including – and some people swear they have seen this – balls of lightning coming in through the window and rolling over to the TV, while torrents of water sweep the streets without actually cleaning them (why does clean rain just make them dirtier?), are we not due for a long period of blue skies with the occasional harmless little white cloud like they have on The Simpsons?

Perhaps the only saving grace of bad weather is the sound of rain on the roof and windows when we’re not out in it. It’s a strange feeling to analyse, though, and I’m not entirely sure it is all about being grateful for the invention of slates and tiles. It is more to do with the sound and possibly the vibrations.

rain
Nature’s sedative: there’s nothing like the sound of rain

While ‘white noise’ is not generally regarded as a good thing, except for screening out noises we don’t want to hear, ‘wet noise’ could be prescribed instead of sleeping pills and sedatives – in fact it probably has already been introduced in Japan, where their adoption of weird ideas that turn out to be brainwaves is higher than most.

The sound of strong wind could have much the same effect, were it not often accompanied by the noise of flying garden furniture and dustbins barrelling down the road, never to be seen again.

As for thunder and lightning, the world seems to be split into those who love it and those who are terrified. Even normally logical people who know that sleet and hail were not sent to chastise us for eating chocolate will be quite happy to credit the sudden occurrence of a loud storm as being significant if they have just made a particularly weighty decision. It’s the incidental music of nature, the equivalent of the excited piece of orchestration that tells us during a film that something especially dramatic is happening.

Incidentally, has there ever been a thunderstorm on Christmas Day? And if not, why not? Imagine the effect it would have. We would all be sitting there with our mouths open and forks of turkey and stuffing frozen in mid air.

There is probably a meteorological explanation for the lack of natural fireworks at such a time of year, but if not it can be used to bolster the ever-decreasing list of life’s great mysteries – as eroded by well-meaning but unromantic science. Storm-related answers on an email, please, to chrismorvan@gmail.com

 

 

Ref! On Chelsea and a beautiful game

The candid thoughts of Premier League referee Colin Preece, as recorded by our eavesdropping mole in the Duck and Peasant.

 Referee

I tell you what, lads, yesterday I watched the best game of football I’ve seen all season. Yes, Baz, I make no apology for the fact that it was Chelsea. Cracking game.

Yes, I’ll tell you why. Okay, it was against MK Dons, who are not exactly giants of the footballing world, but they played football – they didn’t shut up shop and try to stifle Chelsea, and they didn’t try to kick them out of it. They played football as it should be played.

And Chelsea, for their part, they put out a full strength team and they took it seriously, gave MK a bit of respect even after it became apparent they could stuff them. They kept at it for 90 minutes.

Yes, of course, Dave, that’s what people should always do, but they don’t, do they? Half the time the big club names players you’ve never heard of and the smaller club decides they might not be as skilful but they’re every bit as big and strong, and they decide to dish out the rough stuff.

But this, lads – did you see it, Gary? Brilliant stuff, wasn’t it? Whatever you think about what happened at Chelsea early in the season, which we still don’t know and maybe never will really, they’ve got some great players and it was football’s loss when they were giving matches away. So they come into this match, FA Cup, which may be their best chance of a trophy this season, and they give it their all.

They’ve got such a lot of skill in the squad and in similar positions, so Hazard hasn’t been good this season but Willian’s been doing it, and Hazard starts and has a good go but it’s just not working for him at the moment. And then Oscar gets a hat trick. And Hazard scores a penalty, but you could see he still wasn’t happy with himself. He wants to do like he did last season and be brilliant every week. But with the teammates he’s got, it doesn’t matter so much. You lose as a team and you win as a team.

Cheers, Gary, I’ll have a glass of sparkling wine. No, seriously. I’m celebrating because it felt yesterday like normal service had been resumed and all the grumbling about overpaid players taking us for a ride was gone.

You’re right, Baz, it was a bit of a bombshell to find out straight after that John Terry’s leaving, but he didn’t make a fuss either, did he? Everything was done in the right spirit yesterday. Hardly a foul, and you had to keep checking to see there actually was a referee there.

And late on, MK were still having a go but still in the right way, and they get a good chance and Courtois, who hadn’t had hardly anything to do, he’s still awake and pulls off a good save.

It tell you, lads, sometimes life doesn’t seem so bad after all. Cheers, Gary. Your health, one and all.