Friday, 16 December 2011

M-Eric Christmas Chums

'Tis certainly the season to be jolly, Chums. And not just because Gradgrind Shapps proposes curing London of Dickensian conditions by erm....suggesting huge fines that will sent people straight to debtors jail.

Those of you familiar with my ever lengthening column will be aware that my seasonal work as a Santa felt very threatened last year by the 'new 'news from DCLG that batty councils were waging war on our Christmas with new and unchristian names like 'Winterval', 'Festivus' and  'The Snowjob '. I was therefore delighted when that mighty organ , the Daily Mail revealed last month that this wasnt true at all , and I would be able to squeeze into the little red slacks and empty my sack in front of  Penge's children again.

To celebrate I asked the twins to do me a picture to illustrate our favourite Xmas song- 'When Santa got stuck up the chimney'. The thought of a large chap compromised, embarrassed  and losing his temper always raises a chuckle for some reason. Now I've been aware of late of a blossoming in the twins artistic ability- even the chaps in IT at Eland House are often pointing out those funny letter  'A'  shaped towers with round tops and spiky baubles at the base they have the habit of chalking onto the back of my suit jackets. But I was still quite taken aback by their uncanny interpretation of Father C-  I'm clearly talking about Uncle Eric far too much at bedtime!

I hope you have as much fun colouring this in as I had using it to wrap up a fox poo this morning. I blame those bin men!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Rubbish Performance

Last week I had the pleasure of watching my little Eric perform at his school Christmas show. This week it was his twin sister, Erica, who had the chance to shine. I am pleased to say she equaled her brother with a beautiful rendition of ‘Good King Wenceslas’ in which she changed a few words to focus on Uncle Eric’s pet subject.

It is a little known fact that Nick Sheridan-Westlake has the voice of a gelded donkey and I had hoped to source a rendition of him singing the Carol to accompany this blog post but sadly I could not find it. If anyone has a copy his virtuoso castrato from last year’s Christmas party please post a link below.

Good King Wenceslas

Old King Eric once looked out
From the House of Eland
Saw the refuse round about
Collected bi-weekly despite his command.
“They know it’s every Englishman’s right
To have his vindaloo
Collected each and every week
Not one in every two”

“Hither, Shapps, and tell me
Why councils aren’t doing
What it is that I decree.
It’s really got me stewing”.
“Sire,” Shapps said with servile voice
“They talk of localism.
Now they say it is their choice
To have alternate weekly provision”.

“Bring me Giles and bring me Nick”.
The hapless pair appeared.
“This localism makes me sick.
Who thought of this idea?”
“Sire, ‘twas an electoral pledge”
The SPADs had started fretting.
“You said it would give us the edge,
“If we stopped target setting”.

“Goodness gracious” said Eric
“Whatever was I thinking?
Can we get rid of this and quick?
I must have been out drinking.
If we are to win a place
In people’s affection
We must urgently replace
Fortnightly bin collection”

Sunday, 11 December 2011

God Bless You, Curry Gentlemen

Chums, I hate to waste a single slither of my delicious Dale Farm Turkey. If Mrs T had a penny for every time she’s caught me in the wee hours, gnawing on a bone by fridge-light, mayonnaise all over the place, the economy would be in a far better place. A dry old bird can really ruin the season (I am talking now about the Turkey). Bored of the usual Scooby snack style ten- storey sandwiches and Mrs T’s ‘coalition soups’ -watery and lacking consistency , I realised the answer was right under my nose, on most of my lapels and all of my ties: Curry!

A good curry keeps the meat on the waist not in the waste, what with those ever expanding gaps between refuse collections, and at the same time celebrates the multiculturalism our mighty empire has engendered. It’s cheaper than a pig-out at Spicy World after work -and I can eat it at home without listening to Uncle E’s chops smacking together around a dirty bhuna.

So in tribute to -and inspired by-Uncle Eric’s wonderful Curry College concept I took a few days away from armchair auditing and turned ‘korma cadet’. I secured a sous-chef job at my local emporium – the Mahabarata in Penge - on a voluntary basis as an intern.

Sadly I was chased from the kitchens, having tossed a Bob Monkhouse gag about ‘infatuation’ into the banter, and been caught with my hands in the big pickle jar once too often. However I did manage to ‘borrow’ a nice recipe for that most authentically Indian of dishes Tikka Massala. I hope they don’t spot it here ( as most of them can’t speak English, fit in a minute to go online in between 20 hour shifts or afford a computer with the sub-minimum wages I should be ok ). I’ve made a few tweaks, but didn’t want to come over all Anjum Anand.

By the way, for dessert I like to continue the Anglo-Indian theme with an Empire classic -Victoria Sponge.


Derek’s Winterval Turkey Leftover Tikka Masala


Turkey leftovers, if you have any
2/3 onions
2½cm grated ginger
3 garlic cloves
1 dessert spoon garam masala
1 tsp chilli powder
½ dessert spoon ground coriander
½ dessert spoon ground cumin
1 dessert spoon fenugreek leaves
1 tin chopped plum tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato purée
¾ pint / 16¼fl oz of water
1 dessert spoon of sugar
1 tub Greek yoghurt
fresh coriander (chopped)


1. Relentlessly chop! Apply any number of misguided or ill thought through cuts to the onions -then fry them with the ginger and garlic until they all start to turn brown.

2. Add the fenugreek leaves, these give this dish that authentic fragrant aroma- think a night at Spicy World or Samcam’s bathwater.
Treat yourself to a snifter of sherry.

3. Spice time. Add garam masala, chilli powder, ground coriander and ground cumin to taste. Cool as Giles’s hair or Hot as Uncle E’s collar.

4. Add the tomatoes and brusquely simmer this cheeky sauce for about five minutes. My wrists ache at this point. But that’s not unusual.
Next add the tomato purée, ¾ pint of water- or 480ml if you are stuck with a batty Eurocentric measuring jug. Add large Pinch of salt and sugar. Repeat till conscience permits. You will now have the makings of a redder- than- Ken masala sauce. Blend this mixture to a smooth sauce consistency. In your blender. Even my wrists aren’t that good.

4. Now add the turkey leftovers to the sauce and return the pan to a low heat and allow it to simmer and penetrate the turkey pieces. Like the big society your ingredients are finally all in this together.
Careful you don’t overcook them to breaking point. Celebratory slug!

5. Nearly forgot the spin! Now add the Greek yoghurt and spin it in like a SpAd to give the masala it’s superficial glossy piquant finish.
It doesn’t matter how it tastes now, provided it isn’t as tasteless as a night at a French restaurant with Aidan Burley and pals.

6. Garnish with freshly axed coriander to give the impression there’s anything fresh at all.

7 Serve with naan bread, pilau rice, three onion bhajis, a sag panir, prawn puree, chicken chat, tarka dall, aloo gobi etc etc

8.Eat while watching Bergerac on TV Gold or an art house film -such as The King’s Speech, a little gem I discovered recently

Alternative method: Call The Mahabarata in Penge on 0303 444 0000.
Free delivery. Free Poppadoms and sauces with orders of £30 or more.

Just don’t mention Derek T, they still haven’t forgiven me for tampering with their pickles!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Walking in a Pickles wonderland


Earlier today I had the joy of attending one of the twins school Winterval performance.  I knew my  little Eric had written his own song and had been practicing hard for the last couple of weeks but I had no idea what he was going to do.  So when he appeared on stage in the school hall and sang like an angel it brought tears to many eyes. I was the proudest Dad in the hall and now I cannot wait to see what his twin sister Erica does next week.

I would loved to have recorded the performance and share it here but due to an exclusive deal with SyCo Music  I am unable to. Simon Cowell has kindly allowed me to share the lyrics though.  Could this be this year’s surprise Christmas Number One?

Why not click on the YouTube link at the bottom of this post, gather around the PC, turn up the volume and have a good old office since along..

Walking in a Pickles wonderland

Councils are you listening?
Your assets are glistening.
What a beautiful sight,
And a value that's right
For walking in a Pickles wonderland.

Time to sell, it's the hour
Since we reduced your 'Revenue Spending Power'.
You've held them too long,
They're going for a song.
Walking in a Pickles wonderland

Did you know that Hampshire owns some farmland?
The council owns the home of Swindon Town!
Selling off the golf courses across Leeds,
Should help to keep the council tax right down.

What you sell is your decision,
That's the joy of Localism.
Walking along,
Singing a song.
Walking in a Pickles wonderland

Have you met this friend of mine from Serco?
He could do a quote for you right now.
Outsourcing services is the future.
And he is the man to show you how.

Cut the power and the heating.
Earmarked reserves are depleting.
Reduce straight-away
Executive pay.
Walking in a Pickles wonderland.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

It's Panto Time - Oh yes it is

Here’s the season to be jolly and I am pleased to announce with Winterval fast upon us that a truce in war between Uncle Eric and his axis of Evil versus the Army of Armchair Auditor.

To mark this unprecedented truce I was invited to a meeting that focused on increasing the rock bottom morale at DCLG. All the great and good were there plus Nick and Giles. Uncle Eric chaired the meeting and Poor Grant Shapps was asked to keep minutes – purely to keep him awake I think.

The meeting started with a suggestion that senior staff put on Christmas play for the troops. One option put forward was a Nativity play with Uncle Eric appearing from a (very strong) safety wire in the atrium as the Angel Gabriel. Poor Grant Shapps said he could play the part of the Baby Jesus as he could sleep peacefully in a manager. But all this was scuppered when it was pointed out we could not find 3 wise men and virgin. At this point Nick’s frail hand shot up and he said ‘but I am a…’ and before he finished Giles interrupted and said, too much amusement, ‘yes we know you are but it is the wise men that is the problem’. Those specials boys really do not get on!!

Anyway a decision was made that we would put on a pantomime and we have all been busy rehearsing - more details later folks.

In the meantime here is a festive puzzle to keep the little ones amused.

Online jigsaw puzzles from