DAY 81: Rainbow Nation

February 8th, 2014 § 0 comments

The recently appointed Rain Tsar, charged with dealing with January’s catastrophic flooding, has discovered that – as I could have told him – the rain was the result of the ‘butterfly effect’ (referred to earlier; and see Edward Lorenz’s seminal paper). The butterfly responsible, flapping its wings flightily in or near Brazil, is being hunted down by British special forces; who will break it on a wheel, as is their custom.







(See William Rees-Mogg re Keith Richards, 1967.) This is the usual line followed by Tsarists, as we know. Even more hopeless, of course, is the theory being peddled by some of our Ukip comrades according to which the floods are a consequence of the gay marriage legislation. Someone here has patently failed to read the passage in Genesis 9.11-13 (the bit about the rainbow); in which God clearly promised that even if the church were ruled by married sodomites, as from time to time it probably has been, there would be no more floods. As James Baldwin said: “The Fire Next Time.”

No, I can only urge the oppressed masses of Somerset and their neighbours to overthrow the rain tsar – and indeed the tsarevna and tsarevich – to shoot them, and set up rain soviets. It’s our only hope.

At this point I’d better include one Sam Hodgkin’s link to a Farsi karaoke version of the Internationale.


An alternative atrategy might see the Somerset levels converted to the production of freshwater fish (which already thrive there) on an industrial scale; converting the normally conservative Brits to a diet of pike with crayfish sauce. (It might reduce the number of teenagers getting smashed on cider, and increase the amount of Omega-3 in the nation’s diet. What’s not to like?)

pike_16x9-1For political reasons, I’m skirting round the question of quenelles de brochet, which would otherwise seem obvious.

Pike is a freshwater fish with a deep flavour that compliments the luxurious richness of crayfish here very well. It has many little bones, so be sure to remove them all before you start cooking.


For the sauce
  • 12 freshwater crayfish, heads, claws and tails separated
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 250ml/9fl oz single cream
  • 300g/10½oz watercress, hard stalks removed
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
For the pike
  • rapeseed ol
  • 4 pike fillets, each about 200g/7oz, skin on, pin bones removed
For the sorrel
  • knob of butter
  • 1kg/2lb 4oz sorrel leaves

Preparation method

  1. For the sauce, place the crayfish heads and claws into a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Add the raw tails to the pan and poach for two minutes then strain the liquid into a clean pan. Add the single cream, bring to the boil and reduce by one third. Remove the tails from the saucepan using a slotted spoon. Extract the flesh and set aside.
  3. Stir in the mustard powder to the sauce and add the watercress. Return to the boil and simmer for two minutes. Place the sauce into food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the sauce into a clean pan and keep warm until needed.
  4. For the pike, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat. Add the pike fillets, skin-side down. Fry for three minutes, or until the skin is golden-brown.
  6. Turn the fish over and cook for a further minute. Transfer the fish onto a baking tray and roast in oven for 6-8 minutes or until just cooked through.
  7. For the sorrel, heat the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. When bubbling add the sorrel leaves and cook through for about two minutes, or until wilted.
  8. To serve, place a small mound of wilted sorrel onto each plate. Top with a pike fillet, pour over the sauce and finish with three crayfish tails per person.

But I expect what my readers really want, as usual, is a commentary on the effect of rain on Piglet’s entry into the symbolic order.

If you remember, Piglet had, in order to escape from the floods, to communicate with an anonymous ‘Other’ by naming himself (‘Piglit’), and asserting his identity (‘Me’):

Screen shot 2014-02-07 at 23.39.00and, as Lacan reminds us in SPL, a letter always arrives at its destination. We are not told who was responsible for the incessant rain, and why the authorities had left it to the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood to carry out a painful self-analysis.

At which point, I can’t resist quoting the following (from a recent article on renaissance algebra, why not):

‘It is interesting to recall here Lacan’s reaction in his Instance of the letter to de Saussure’s representation of the signifier and the signified strata as two parallel horizontal wave figures correlated by vertical lines. Rather than horizontal strata of ‘upper water’ (signifier) and ‘lower water’ (signified) anchored to each other by the vertical dashes, Lacan suggests reading the diagram as one horizontal stream flowing under another, while vertical drops of rain flow between them [Lacan (2006)].’

Make of that what you can. And why is Piglet throwing a bottle, or breast substitute, into the surrounding amniotic fluid? Who will be fed? Poe, of course, deals with messages in bottles as well as purloined letters. It seems appropriate to devote today’s poetry corner to his watery work ‘Annabel Lee’

It was many and many a year ago,
   In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
   By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
   Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
   I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
   Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
   My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
   And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
   In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
   Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
   In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
   Of those who were older than we—
   Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
   Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
   Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
   In her sepulchre there by the sea—
   In her tomb by the sounding sea.
Enough of all this. Let’s move on to Jasiri X’s recent track ‘Checkpoint’, with its references to Nelson Mandela and other hip-hop heroes.


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