haddock 1

Do politicians know their arse from their elbow? Do the politicians know what they are  supposed to be agreeing  to ? The Stormont  House Agreement  that the Big Talks  was all about ,just before Christmas, in Norneverland ,seems to be as oblique and as opaque as ever . They’ve argued the entire thing out over three months but they don’t seem to know what they agreed to . They made a merry song and dance about it too. I’d hate to see any of them haggling for a rug in a Marrakech souk. By the time they got around to closing the deal and sharing the mint tea, they wouldn’t even know what they were buying  in the first place.TV Mike Nesbit   has talked of his fear that the agreement could easily unravel because the language used  in the document they agreed to was so wooly and ambiguous that they  could really have agreed to just about anything depending on how you’d want to interpret it . Well is that not always the case with politicians, anyway? it begins to sound and look like a  lovely surreal episode of “Yes Minister” . Is n’t that what politics are really like? In fact ,isn’t that what politics are really about?

Politics are no place for people who are set in their ways ; people who like to call a spade …a spade.For example, you  would need  to be able to argue yourself in and out of hell and place yourself in your opponents shoes  too.You ‘d need to be able to stand up and blether, fillibustering for hours on end.You should be able to argue that black was white and why you thought that ..yes , pigs might actually be able to fly after all.You should be able  to debate why you thought   that  a tomato really shouldn’t be a fruit after all .It had more of the  vegetable about it after all . My long -gone grandfather insisted on sprinkling  sugar on his tomato. He thought it was only right that a fruit should taste sweet and “fruity “; A fruit as brightly coloured as a tomato …should be sweet  as a fruit pastille…. the sweeter the better. Politicians should be able to argue that fowl were fish and fish was fowl, shouldn’t  they? It should be part and parcel of their skillset before thinking of ever becoming a politician at all.

Speaking of fish. I do like a nice bit of fish .The thing about fish is  that once you’ve tasted absolutely fresh fish, you are spoilt forever. There is no  substitute for the texture and flavour of it. Those wee stiff frozen boards from the frozen pack in the Birds Eye freezer cabinet  will never cut the mustard again. You’ll be ruined for all time. It will be as ashes on your tongue.Which brings me to a small problem . This is not a good time of year for our fishermen. The weather is against them .I  dare say not one of us would volunteer to go out on the ocean with the snow falling hard ,chasing those silver darlings . That simply means that fresh fish is  a lot rarer in the winter months. It is usually expensive too.  I am inclined not to buy  as much of it from  my local “fish man”  at this time of year  as the stuff on sale  seems mostly taken from a  deep -freeze and there is a real difference in taste.Spoilt subtley, but still perfectly edible , you see. It doesn’t take long for that to happen.

Of all the fishes that are  available locally , I still favour a nice  piece of haddock fillet .Of couse, you have to be careful not to overcook a bit of fish .My favourite and simplest way is to wash the fillets well and make sure there are no bones .  There’s nothing worse than a mouthful of fishbones…..A Mouthful of Fishbones …it sounds like the title of a Tom Waits’ song somehow .Anyway , every one of those wee spiney buggers need to be removed . I then place the fillets  in a shallow oven dish , grind on some black pepper and a pinch of good salt flakes; a wee shake of dry rosemary and a little parsley goes well with it …not too much!: a little milk ..just enough to stop the fish sticking ; pop into a pre-heated oven for exactly twelve and a half minutes and get it out quickly onto warm plate and serve up with creamy champ and whatever vegetable takes your fancy.It’s even good with sticky  chipotle chillie beans.Perfect.. just don’t let it cook any longer …and  the fresh fish costs only about three quid per person for a good portion .What’s not to like? So support your hard=working  local fishermen , when you can.

It’s a pity politics weren’t as easy to support..


  1. Sherdy January 31, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    Harry, as far as cooking fish is concerned, you’re living in the past.
    Buy yourself a microwave, prepare your fish as above, and hey presto, depending on the size of the fillet, 2-3 minutes and it is cooked to perfection.
    Melt in your mouth, succulent heaven!

    • Jude Collins January 31, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

      There’s only one way to cook roach. First, cut the head and tail off the fish, then gut it. Next, go out to your back garden and find a piece of flat, slightly rotting wood. Place the roach on the wood and put both in an oven pre-heated to 180. After half an hour, take out, throw away the roach and eat the piece of rotting wood.

      • paddykool January 31, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

        I wonder which of you two buggers will get a shot at “Masterchef” , first !!! ….I’ll have to give the microwave method a go there Sherdy …next time I’m in a hurry.