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Please help me! I’m trapped in an episode of Masterpiece Theater

chestnuts roasting on an open fire

What are these, you say? I’m glad you asked. They’re CHESTNUTS. ROASTING ON AN OPEN bloody FIRE!

Yes. Yes, they were very nice. That’s not the point.


Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: January 3, 2008, 8:39 pm

So is that chestnut pan one of those intriguing instruments hanging around Badger’s fireplace? I thought they might all be things to use on the fire, or on the help (Covington comes to mind) – or for use with a consenting adult (ahem) or sumpin. I mean – who knew?

Was Jack Frost nipping at your nose? Or were you nipping at the Jack (Danial’s)?

Comment from porknbean
Time: January 3, 2008, 8:58 pm

..and I’m guessing the mustelids were the tiny tots with their eyes all aglow…

I’m so jealous. I love me some Masterpiece Theatres.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: January 3, 2008, 9:37 pm

Well, while you lot argue the toss about politics on the other thread, I’ll just busy myself with the domestic stuff (Badger’s politics = ‘anyone who wants power isn’t fit to hold it’).

McGoo is right, of course, the chestnut pan is a cast iron device with holes in the base, on which you place the chestnuts (having first slit them – they explode if you don’t). Judging when they’re done is an art form. I am no Michelangelo.

Still, if you chip the blackend bits off, every fifth one tastes really good.

We have guests tomorrow (if they’re good, we’ll let them leave), one of whom drinks whisky. Her Ladyship said the visitor could partake of her Christmas Glenmorangie – at which, I let out a strangled yell and muttered something like ‘over my dead body’ (not always the wisest thng to say to a stoat, of course).

Anyway, today I bought a bottle of Teachers for ‘guests’ and bade Ladyship sample it.

Ever seen a stoat drinking cough mixture?

What would I know about whisky? Cognac’s my poison.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: January 3, 2008, 9:59 pm

Chestnuts explode? How rude!

Teacher’s. Um….a blend….ew. (No offense.) Save it for visitors that you don’t like. Or try it as a topping for vanilla ice cream. I kid you not.

Badger – when you said you have guests tomorrow – the Monty Python death scene in Meaning of Life immediately came to mind. Don’t eat the salmon moose.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: January 3, 2008, 10:00 pm

I’m sorry, but I’m compelled to post this:

A group of chess enthusiasts had checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the hotel manager came out of his office and asked them to disperse. “But why?” they asked, as they moved off. “Because,” the manager said, “I can’t stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.”

Comment from Lokki
Time: January 3, 2008, 11:08 pm

Like Masterpiece Theater? Hmmmmm.

Interestingly enough, on New Years Day, Mrs. Lokki and I enjoyed (and very much, thank you), the Masterpiece Theater production of Moll Flanders which seems to fit the current circumstances in which our Weasel finds herself, quite well, Yes? No? Perhaps? I shall leave you to be the judge:

All the exploits of this lady of fame, in her depredations upon mankind, stand as so many warnings to honest people to beware of them, intimating to them by what methods innocent people are drawn in, plundered and robbed, and by consequence how to avoid them. Her robbing a little innocent child, dressed fine by the vanity of the mother, to go to the dancing-school, is a good memento to such people hereafter, as is likewise her picking the gold watch from the young lady’s side in the Park.

Her getting a parcel from a hare-brained wench at the coaches in St. John Street; her booty made at the fire, and again at Harwich, all give us excellent warnings in such cases to be more present to ourselves in sudden surprises of every sort.

Her application to a sober life and industrious management at last, with her transported spouse, is a story fruitful of instruction to all the unfortunate creatures who are obliged to seek their re-establishment abroad, whether by the misery of transportation or other disaster; letting them know that diligence and application have their due encouragement, even in the remotest parts of the world, and that no case can be so low, so despicable, or so empty of prospect, but that an unwearied industry will go a great way to deliver us from it, will in time raise the meanest creature to appear again the world, and give him a new case for his life.

It’s quite a story.

Comment from Lokki
Time: January 3, 2008, 11:10 pm

Oh, and Enas? Oh dear. That was how-you-say? BAD

Comment from Dawn
Time: January 4, 2008, 12:17 am

I liked Upstairs Downstairs.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: January 4, 2008, 3:27 am

I only tried roasted chestnuts for the first time the other day, from one of these Dickensian chestnut-roasting doodads that inhabit Parliament Street in York around Christmas, and I was none too impressed. But then I’m not a huge fan of nuts apart from peanuts (which aren’t actually nuts, of course) and pistachios. Oh, and my own nuts, which are obscenely proportioned and full of male sex hormones, blueprints for superluminal drives and starstuff.
What did strike me though, and I mean that purely metaphorically, were the shells. They’re like some sort of composite material like fibreglass or something. I wonder if mice use them to make catamarans out of and compete in long-distance sailing competitions which’re sponsored by luxury Swiss watch manufacturers? It’s possible.
I just have a regular small alcovey hearth below a chimney lined with stone things and the fire sits on top of a cast-iron jobby and burns away merrily, but I must admit that I have been giving a lot of thought to aquiring a firebox like the one situated in the coastal property with buried weapons and old men standing around a hole, if force by necessary. But, I have a question: can you burn coal in them, or is it just wood and peat and things of that nature? I mean, burning peat is enough to make an Enviro-weenie cry, but it doesn’t have the same effect as coal, which tends to make their heads explode with sheer indignation.
‘Jesus fuck, it’s cold, I’m going home to light a nice fire.’
‘A fire? I hope you’re burning carbon-neutral, organic, recycled elephant poo from some African village.’
‘No, of course not. I only burn really dirty coal. The dirtier the better. Filthy, in fact.’
‘ZOMG, fascist war-mongering babykiller!!1!’
‘Who are you, and what’re you doing in this cubicle?’
Fire in a black metal box. That be magik.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: January 4, 2008, 8:25 am

You’ve opened a floodgate here, Gibby, I’m afraid: fires are an abiding passion.

In theory a stove is considerably more efficient than an open fire (though only when the doors are closed) so you do get a lot more heat from your fuel and (again, in theory – it doesn’t always work out that way) they are easier to keep burning overnight than an open fire.

Against that, and after much fiddling around over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that open fires have a special magic of their own – all that lovely radiant heat, not to mention the scents and sounds.

If you do decide to get a stove and if you’re going to burn wood, you will almost certainly be told you need your chimney lining with stainless steel pipe, which (guess what?) is about ten thousand times the price it costs in the good ol’ US of A.

If you want to burn other solid fuels, you’ll probably be able to get away without a lining.

Many of the stove makers and fitters screw up their faces and make the sign of the evil eye if you say you want to burn ordinary coal, but they are being precious. It burns beautifully, but you do need to keep an eye on the stove outlet every now and then, to make sure it isn’t becoming clogged with soot.

The alternative is either anthracite or manufactured solid fuel, of which there are dozens of varieties. They burn hotter than coal, produce less soot and are easier to ‘keep in’. On the other hand the damned stuff costs a fortune and doesn’t usually produce such a nice looking fire.

Warmists and eco-loonies reckon that burning wood is ‘carbon neutral’ but they are, of course, famously mad.

Here at Badger House we usually light the stove with stolen Greenpeace placards and then proceed to burn baby seals.

E-mail her Ladyship if you can stand any more ‘stoves I have bought and run’ stuff. It’s a bit of a minefield and there are rip-offs to avoid. I’d be happy to bore on the subject,

Ooh, look. Here comes the man to empty the septic tanks. Isn’t country life an endless source of fun and games?

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: January 4, 2008, 11:08 am

Here at Badger House we usually light the stove with stolen Greenpeace placards and then proceed to burn baby seals.

You two are definitely my kind of people.

Comment from Lokki
Time: January 4, 2008, 11:20 am

Fire at Midnight

I believe in fires at midnight —
when the dogs have all been fed.
A golden toddy on the mantle —
a broken gun beneath the bed.
Silken mist outside the window.
Frogs and newts slip in the dark —
too much hurry ruins the body.
I’ll sit easy … fan the spark
kindled by the dying embers of another working day.
Go upstairs … take off your makeup —
fold your clothes neatly away.
Me, I’ll sit and write this love song
as I all too seldom do —
build a little fire this midnight.
It’s good to be back home with you.

Jethro Tull
From: Songs From The Woods

Comment from Dawn
Time: January 4, 2008, 11:42 am

Mice sailing competitions in little nut shells. How cute!

Comment from quark2
Time: January 4, 2008, 12:07 pm

Fires! A favourite subject of mine. I’ve a very nice
Vermont cast iron wood stove, which is only graced with
wood. Mostly free wood as there is a huge forest round the
farm. Loves my fires, keeps the other half busy cutting,
splitting, and gathering. Also gathering the small stuff
for fire starters is an art, to me anywhoooo.
Have any of you seen some loose horses running through
your lawns?

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: January 4, 2008, 12:56 pm

Vermont stoves!

Now that is taste!

Comment from Shuko
Time: January 4, 2008, 1:18 pm

I’ve been a party to both wood stoves and open fires, and I have to say that, although the wood stove heated our whole house in Idaho, the open fireplace we have here in Tennessee is easily my favorite of the two. I love starting up the fire and poking it around if I think it’s not getting enough oxygen (my excuse for feeding my subdued pyromania), and it’s really convenient right now, as I have a “supercold,” and if ever I need to dispose of a soiled tissue, tossing it into the fireplace and letting the vile little germies wither and die is most rewarding.

I’ve never roasted chestnuts, unfortunately. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a chestnut, or seen one without its spiny hull. I wonder what they taste like?

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: January 4, 2008, 1:20 pm


The spiny hulls taste terrible. The chestnuts – not so bad.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 4, 2008, 2:38 pm

You know, I’m not convinced a stove is right for a fireplace with an inglenook. An inglenook is already a sort of stove, isn’t it? Sure, this thing is efficient and all…but not that much heat escapes into the room. It mostly seems to be trapped inside the brick walls.

On the upside, the master bedroom directly above is always toasty, even with the central heat off. There’s a reason they built the fireplace, then built the house around it.

Comment from quark2
Time: January 5, 2008, 1:26 am

Chestnuts, so rare in the states. Theyis purdie when in
bloom. I have a chestnut coloured horse too. I don’t think
I would want to roast his nuts though.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: January 5, 2008, 1:42 am

Wasn’t there a chestnut disease that wiped a lot of ’em out back in the 20th century? Or am I thinking of Dutch Elm disease?

Comment from quark2
Time: January 5, 2008, 12:17 pm

Lost most of the chestnut trees in the U.S.,
and there was a run of dutch elm disease too.
I think there is a project of replanting
chestnuts here in the states. That is good.
The wild dogwoods in the U.S. are endangered,
I’ve got two that I protect. One is very old.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: January 5, 2008, 1:35 pm

quark2, What we need is a modern Johnny Chestnutseed to go around planting seeds.

I mean chestnut seeds, of course.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: January 6, 2008, 7:07 am

Hey! Look! Something shiny!

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: January 6, 2008, 7:21 am

I think you’re that man McGoo. You could make a cult out of it based on the Ron Paul model (note: I’m not critisising the doc or his ‘ZOMG teh MessageLOL1!!1’ just his nutty, internet-based followers). You know, to cover your expenses. And your unhinged disciples can follow you around the country as you grab your nut-sack and fling your seed all over the place.
You’ll be a national hero…or a multiple felon.
Chestnuts look very similar, in terms of nut, spiky, pulpy nut covering and leaf, to Horse Chestnuts, or conkers. Conkers used to be a British schoolyard game whereby you’d take your conker, prepare it over night to make it hard (by baking it slightly, soaking it in vinegar, painting it with wood varnish or – my favourite – swapping it for a brown-painted stone), bore a hole in it vertically and put some string though, tie it securely, and then proceed to swing it at your opponent’s conker. This’d be repeated in turn until one of you destroyed your opponent’s respective conker. This game was fun and slightly risky to your health because swinging what is effectively a small, smooth mace near another child’s soft, squishy body is never risk-free. Therefore The Government banned it.
There’s another game called British Bulldogs which is a ‘high level of violence and physicality’ game wherein the child who is it, the Bulldog, stands in the middle of the playground and the other kids stand at one end of the playground and on the mark, try to run past the Bulldog, who’ll attempt to grab one – by whatever means (see:’high level of violence and physicality’) – of the sons of bitches, and, if successful they’ll become a Bulldog too. Eventually there’ll be a shitload of Bulldogs all trying to catch some poor bastard. This, of course, has been mostly banned too. And in the places it hasn’t and in the written records that they haven’t got around to ammending yet, I hear the handwringers are trying to change the name because anything with the word ‘British’ in it is deeply, personally offensive to the people who’ve crawled over themselves to come to…Britain.
Luckily, I was born in the late seventies and attended school in the eighties, during Thatcher’s tenure, so I got to play Conkers, British Bulldogs and relax by watching Knicker-down Handstands (don’t ask) and by god, it was fucking awesome. I pity the children of today. They’re going to grow up like, well basically the people we’ve got governing us. Maybe that’s the whole point.



Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: January 6, 2008, 7:46 am

Thanks for your comment! It has been placed in the moderation queue, and if it is approved it will be published here soon!
What am I, a nuclear reaction? Stop trying to moderate me, Akismet, you mouldy sack of dog turds.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: January 6, 2008, 7:59 am

“…it will be published soon!”, my hind butt.

Weaz and Badger are sleeping one off, and the blog is on auto-pilot.

I think I’ll make some Eggs Benedict al la Micky-D’s. Let’s go see if I have any hollandaise sauce mix left first.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: January 6, 2008, 8:05 am

Not that sleeping one off isn’t a good thing, mind you….

Eggs Benny’s…..

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: January 6, 2008, 8:36 am

It’s half twelve. Slackers. I was up at the crack of dawn (not Dawn dawn) breaking ice with my face so that I could shave outside and then wrestle a tiger.
One link and you’re okay. Three and you have to get rescued from the spam trap. Two – as in my case – and you get left in ‘We’re moderating your comment’ purgatory.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: January 6, 2008, 9:10 am

Her Ladyship’s outside with lumps of bread soaked in fat.

She says she’s feeding the birds, but I reckon she’s trying to attract the attention of her relatives in the hedge.

I mean we must have weasels here…

I suppose this means I’ll have to pull faces to distract Akismet, while she sneaks Gibby’s post away from it.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: January 6, 2008, 9:29 am

That’s some impressive gurning, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Akismet is hanging on to my stupid comment like a dog with a severed human penis.
What kind of fat by the way. The good fat?


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 6, 2008, 9:45 am

Okay, okay…I kicked it loose. Hope that Tulsa Escorts lady in there with you wasn’t too annoying.

Comment spams these days go on for pages, sometimes with hundreds of links.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: January 6, 2008, 10:07 am

Thanks. No, the Tulsa lady is just fine. I love Okies. The Flaming Lips used to be one of my favourite bands (but, that’s mostly down to Steven Drozd, who is, of course, from Houston).
Jesus, I really came across as a whiny bitch. Sorry to everyone for that.
Eh, think I’ll go and make me a nice compost heap.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: January 6, 2008, 10:13 am

Compost… Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 6, 2008, 10:36 am

Incidentally, there’s no such of a program as Masterpiece Theater (or even Theatre) in the UK. The deal is, whenever PBS buys a program off of the BBC, they put an intro on it and run it as a Masterpiece Theater. They’re all different lengths because British TV is like that…

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: January 6, 2008, 12:45 pm

Chestnut blight! I knew it!

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