DAY 69 – Satan

November 14th, 2013 Comments Off

Many articles and draft chapters of mine lie abandoned having 
[At this point, I not only lost the wifi at the Wellcome Library, where I was composing this text, but some 200 carefully crafted words went into some black hole of the internet, lost and gone for ever. Shame on you, Wellcome! Give me back my words! What follows is a feeble attempt to reconstruct them.]
run into insuperable problems, crashed on the rocks of the indigestible word ‘neoliberalism’. We all know what it is, the cost in terms of closed hospitals, broken lives, the sacked workers, the cut benefits, the starvation, the misery, the insolence of office, the law’s delays… Sorry the mind wandered off as so often. But the fact remains that the word doesn’t have the buzz which makes it easy to (e.g.) get thousands of SWP members shouting ‘Neoliberalism OUT, OUT, OUT!’; or, in my own composition for the crowd at the Emirates:
‘We hate Hayek and Friedman; We hate the IMF too; We hate neoliberalism; but Arsenal, we love you.’ (Tune of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.)
No, it doesn’t seem to create a counter-hegemonic thrust. So after much reading Gramsci and a few Mars Bars, I’ve come up with the idea that we should borrow from our Iranian brothers and sisters and replace it with the term ‘Satan’.
Satan Smiting Job with Sore Boils circa 1826 by William Blake 1757-1827
Satan smiting Job with boils
It’s short, it’s easily shouted; and if you’re in a crowd in Trafalgar Square, the chances are that most of them are against Satan. (Those that are for him are probably doing bad stuff in some back alley.)
[Another side issue: What's all this talk about an 'ageing population'? I'm ageing, and I don't know anyone in the population who isn't. I did a random survey, and the 3% who claimed not to be ageing were clearly in denial. There were many who saw ageing as an advantage (they'd be able to buy cigarettes or get a Freedom Pass). Stop talking about it as a problem, and, if I may coin a phrase, grow up.]
My redrafted book now starts:
‘Satan’s first victory was the CIA inspired coup against Allende in Chile in 1973; but the major success for Satan arrived with the installation of the so-called ‘Washington Consensus’ in the 1980s under the leadersip of Reagan and Thatcher. The Satanic IMF forced the governments of Africa and Latin America to dismantle their welfare provisions and sell off national assets to overseas investors; the result was naturally the wholescale indebtedness of Africa, with accompanying crises of famine and disease.’
Put this way, it all looks completely logical, and Satan, like Terror, is a worthwhile enemy. This blog now calls on its faithful audience to declare war on Satan, and to have nothing more to do with him.
There were complaints that a previous recipe (what can that have been?) was too boring. To compensate, here, pirated from the Metro, is a potato and harissa cake supplemented with cayenne pepper and Scotch Bonnet peppers. It’s clearly powerful stuff  - you could add some tabasco if there was still a faint flavour of Maris Piper. To look at Metro readers on the Tube, as I do frequently, they look a pretty quiet bunch; but judging from this recipe, I’d steer clear of one of their dinner parties. If it started with such a potato pie, it might end in crack and strip poker.
Cook this tonight: Potato and harissa cake
Make this delicious potato and harissa cake (Picture: Oli Jones)

The humble potato with hot harissa will satisfy any spice lover.

INGREDIENTS (serves 2-4)
5 Maris Piper potatoes, halved
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
90g spinach
½tsp sugar
1tbsp harissa paste
1-2tsp cayenne pepper
2 scotch bonnet peppers, sliced
10ml olive oil
½tsp salt
Black pepper

Step 1:
 Parboil the potatoes for 10min so they are semi-cooked. Drain and cool. Grate the potatoes into a mixing bowl, sprinkle with salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne pepper and stir.

Step 2: Sauté the onion in a frying pan with olive oil. After 4min, stir in the garlic and Scotch Bonnets. Fry until the onions caramelise, then mix in the spinach and sprinkle in the sugar. When the spinach wilts, add seasoning to taste. Cool a little then mix into the bowl of grated potato, stirring well.

Step 3: Pour some olive oil in a frying pan on a low to medium heat. Add half the potato mix and flatten with a spatula. Spread the harissa paste over evenly and sprinkle the cayenne pepper across the surface. [Hey, hadn't you added the cayenne pepper in Step 1? Is this more?] Pop the rest of the mix on top and flatten, then cook for 10min.

Step 4: Flip it over by placing a large plate on top of the pan, then fry until the potato is cooked, about 10min. Top with some butter to serve if you wish.

Step 5: Light the blue touch paper and stand well back.


It’s going to make my fingers ache typing it, and it belongs in an earlier episode of this history (am I becoming obsessed?), but I can’t resist Jo Shapcott’s poem ‘Scorpion‘ which I came across today:

I kill it because we cannot stay in the same room.  I kill it because we cannot stay in the same room with me sleeping. I kill it because I might look away and not see it there on the wall when I look back. I kill it because I might spend all night hunting it. I kill it because I am afraid to go near enough with glass and paper to carry it outside. I kill it because I have been told to. I kill it by slapping my shoe against the wall because I have been told to do it that way. I kill it standing as far away as possible and stretching my hand holding the shoe towards it. I kill it because it has been making me shake out the bedclothes, look inside my shoes, scan the walls at night. I kill it with two fast blows in case one isn’t enough. I kill it because I can. I kill it because it cannot stop me. I kill it because I know it is there. I kill it so that its remains are on the heel of my shoe. I kill it so that its outline with curved sting remains on my wall. I kill it to feel sure I will live. I kill it to feel alive. I kill it because I am weaker than it is. I kill it because I do not understand it. I kill it without looking at it. I kill it because I am not good enough to let it live. I kill it out of the corner of my eye, remembering it is black, vertical, stock still on the white wall. I kill it because it will not speak to me.

Gentle readers, you who have been complaining that I present poetry and music sans commentaires, without any critical analysis, I feel that the above piece, with its naked emotion, does something to justify my position. Plus there are any number of bloggers out there with Ph. D.s in critical theory who are better placed to write a couple of pages on Visions of Johanna (say). Let them.

So, to move from scorpions to lice: here’s Bert Brecht singing his ‘Lied von der Unzulänglichkeit des menschlichen Strebens.’



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