The Anonymous Widower

London Takes Charge of One of its Lost Sons

There are cities, mega-cities and then there is London, a unique blend of people, races, buildings, transport systems and history.

Today the city of my birth and most of ancestors took control and welcomed me back and protected me.

The first thing I did was go and get my copy of The Times and have a coffee in the local Deli. I’ve never been able to do this before at any time of my life.  But the Deli was selling smoked salmon from the Butley Oysterage in Suffolk,so my adopted county was making its presence felt. If only the rest of the country had only half as much get up and go as London and Suffolk have we wouldn’t be having a recession.

Also in the morning I registered at my new doctor’s.  No problems at all and very different to when registration last happened twenty years ago.  I should say that there was one small problem in that I forgot to take the urine sample I’d provided in the morning. But even that was quickly solved by a two-hundred metre walk home from the surgery to collect it and a  quick walk back. My short term memory may be suffering, but I’ll get it back, by practice.

I then took a bus to St. Paul’s and took a few pictures on the so-called Wobbly Bridge, which is one of my favourite structures.

I then walked through to Carluccio’s in Smithfield to have some lunch.

And then London sent me an angel in the form of a female oriental banker, who’d just arrived in the UK, who was exploring before starting work in the New Year.  We chatted for a minute or so and then she asked if there was anything to see in this part of London on a very cold day. So I showed her the wife market description in the meat market, St. Bartholomew the Great, Bart’s Hospital and then the Museum of London.  I can still see my sons performing in the Nativity play at the church and my mother-in-law in the hospital after having her heart valve replaced.

We then walked through the city to Leadenhall market before having a glass of mulled wine in a pub.  She then went home from Bank and I walked through the city back to the Barbican and the Waitrose in Whitecross Street.  When we lived in Cromwell Tower, there were no supermarkets in the area. But it was a pleasure to be in an area with so many happy memories. Luckily we were away for the weekend when the Moorgate tube crash, which killed nearly fifty,  happened.

The Waitrose there though is in some ways more homely and much less crowded than those at the Angel or the Holloway Road, but it had everything I needed and it was only a short walk away from the bus home, which ran on a much less crowded route to a stop just a hundred metres from my home.

So thank you London!  Thanks also go to my charming companion for a lovely couple of hours in the afternoon.

December 22, 2010 Posted by | Food, World | , | 1 Comment

Giving Away My Gluten-Free Cookery Books

Over the years I’ve been given a lot of gluten-free cookery books, as people think that these are an easy present for a man who lives alone, who is a coeliac.

Most have gone into the cupboard and have never been used more than once. If I need a recipe it’s usually because I’ve got some ingredients and want to cook all of them together, so I just use Google.  That’s how I found the recipe for Dundee lamb chops.

So now all those I’ve never used more than once are going down the Oxfam shop in Dalston.

One thing I am going to do is put a pad computer on the kitchen wall.

December 22, 2010 Posted by | Food | , | 2 Comments

Ginger Chicken with Lemongrass

This recipe was published in The Times yesterday. It is one of Lindsay Bareham’s and I’ve used hers before, as they are simple, quick and delicious on the one hand and often gluten-free on the other.

The ingredients are as follows and the quantities serve two.

  • 20g ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 onions, 145g in total
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets
  • 300g potatoes
  • 2 tsp lemongrass paste or 1 large lemongrass
  • 300 ml water
  • 100g frozen petits pois

The method is as follows.

  1. Peel and thinly slice the ginger into scraps the size of shirt buttons.
  2. Slice the garlic into thin rounds.
  3. Finely slice the onions.
  4. Heat the oil in a lidded pan, stir in the onion, ginger and garlic.
  5. Cook, stirring often, over a medium-low heat, encouraging it to soften without browning.
  6. Slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces and stir into the semi-cooked onions.
  7. Peel and slice the potatoes into 50p-size pieces. Quickly rince and add to the pan.
  8. Stir in the lemongrass paste or buised lemongrass, then add the water. 
  9. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, semi-cover the pan and cook gently for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender, the chicken cooked through and the liquid slightly reduced.
  10. Season to taste.
  11. Add the peas, bring to the boil, immediately reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes until the peas are tender. Serve in bowls with crusty bread and butter.

I think I’ll give it a try this week.

December 22, 2010 Posted by | Food | , , | 1 Comment

Claiming Winter Fuel Payment Without a Birth Certificate.

I’m 63 and have never claimed the Winter Fuel Payment.  In 2007, when I was first eligible, I had many other things to do with C’s illness an eventual death.  I should have claimed in 2008, but I was after the cut-off date.  Last year my son was dying with pancreatic cancer, so again it was the last thing in my mind.

So this year I decided that I’d better do it. I phoned the help line number, 08459-151515, who said they’d sent me a form in 2007.  As I was claiming Widow’s Benefit at the time, I suppose I ignored it.  They said they’d send another, but it never arrived.  Or at least I never saw it.

So yesterday, whilst the weather was so cold, I decided to have a go.  At least I was in front of the cut-off day in March, so I should get it this year.

I updated the form on the Internet and printed it off.  But it needed birth certificate for proof of age! My birth certificate was unique in that it had the wrong date on it, which had been officially changed a few weeks after I was born. But I have not seen it since we last moved in 1991. I paniced a bit and ordered a copy on-line, but that won’t be here until mid-January.

So again I phoned the help line ans told I could take two of my passport, driving licence and medical card to the nearest JobCentre Plus to get them verified. I searched the JobCentre Plus website and there is no office finder as you get on any chain of shops website. After perhaps twenty minutes of searching, I found that the nearest one was at the other end of the road on which I live. Within ten minutes my passport and medical card had been copied and certified.

Everything was in the post by lunchtime.

So it was fairly easy in the end, but why can’t it be like how you purchase a Senior Railcard.  That is totally on-line and must be a much cheaper system than the one they have for the Winter Fuel Payment.

I know not everybody has a passport or a driving licence, but these people could just take everything they have got straight to the JobCentrePlus? And why is there no list of JobCentrePlus offices on the Internet?

Perhaps, the whole system is designed to employ more bureaucrats and reduce the take-up of the benefit? Or am I being too cynical?

December 22, 2010 Posted by | Computing, World | , | 2 Comments