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This is way cool; if you disagree, I pity you.

Recipe taken from Nigella Christmas by Queen of Gastroporn Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £25)

1 large or 2 small onions
100g streaky bacon
large bunch of parsley, from which you can get a good 2 handfuls of leaves
75g butter, plus more for greasing dish and extra 15g for buttering top (if not stuffing turkey)
250g vacuum-packed whole chestnuts
250g breadcrumbs
1 x 435g can unsweetened chestnut purée
2 large eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
good grating of fresh nutmeg

Peel and roughly chop the onion and stick the pieces in the processor with the bacon and parsley. Or chop finely by hand.

Melt the 75g butter in a largish, heavy-based pan and, keeping the heat fairly low, cook the processed mixture until it softens, about 10 minutes.

Remove to a bowl and, using your hands, crumble in the chestnuts so that they are broken up slightly, then mix in the breadcrumbs and chestnut purée. This isn’t very hard to do by hand (a wooden spoon and brutal manner will help), but an electric freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment is the agreeably lazy option.

If you are making this in advance, then let it get cold now, otherwise beat in the eggs, season with only a little salt (remember the bacon will contain some) and a good grating of fresh nutmeg and fresh pepper.

If you want to stuff the turkey with this on Christmas morning, be my guest; otherwise butter your dish or foil container, add the stuffing, spread the 15g butter on top, and bake, uncovered, in the oven underneath the turkey for 30-40 minutes, depending on how full your oven is.

Annoying little cunt

The perfect definition of irony has to be Justin Bieber being beaten to death with a hardback copy of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species.

Irony is nowhere apparent in Alanis Morissette’s song Isn’t It Ironic? the lyrics of which merely list things that happen that might tend to spoil your day. She is Canadian, but it’s no excuse.

Recipe taken from Nigella Christmas by Queen of Gastroporn Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £25)

150g currants
150g sultanas
150g prunes, scissored into pieces
175ml Pedro Ximénez sherry
100g plain flour
125g breadcrumbs
150g suet
150g dark muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 large eggs
1 medium cooking apple, peeled and grated
2 x 15ml tablespoons honey
sprig of holly to decorate
125ml vodka to flame

Although I stipulate a capacious 1.7 litre basin, and cannot extol the utter gloriousness of this pud too much, I know that you’re unlikely to get through most of it, even half of it, at one sitting. But I like the grand, pride-instilling size of this, plus it’s wonderful on following days, microwaved in portions after or between meals, fried in butter and eaten with vanilla ice cream for completely off-the-chart, midnight-munchy feasts. But it wouldn’t be out of the question – and it would certainly be in the spirit of the season – to make up the entire quantity of mixture, and share between smaller basins – a 2 pint one for you, a 1 pint one to give away. Three hours’ steaming both first and second time around should do it; just keep the one pudding for yourself, and give the other to a friend, after it’s had its first steaming, and is cool, with the steaming instructions for Christmas Day.

Put the currants, sultanas and scissored prunes in a bowl with the Pedro Ximénez, swill the bowl a bit, then cover with clingfilm and leave to steep overnight or for up to 1 week.

When the fruits have had their steeping time, put a large pan of water on to boil, or heat some water in a conventional steamer, and butter your heatproof plastic pudding basin (or basins), remembering to grease the lid, too.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining pudding ingredients, either in the traditional manner or just any old how; your chosen method of stirring, and who does it, probably won’t affect the outcome of your wishes or your Christmas. Add the steeped fruits, scraping in every last drop of liquor with a rubber spatula, and mix to combine thoroughly. Scrape and press the mixture into the prepared pudding basin, squish it down and put on the lid. Then wrap with a layer of foil (probably not necessary, but I do it as I once had a lid-popping and water-entering experience when steaming a pudding) so that the basin is watertight, then either put the basin in the pan of boiling water (to come halfway up the basin) or in the top of a lidded steamer (this size of basin happens to fit perfectly in the top of my double-decker couscous pot) and steam for 5 hours, checking every now and again that the water hasn’t bubbled away.

When it’s had its 5 hours, remove gingerly (you don’t want to burn yourself) and, when manageable, unwrap the foil, and put the pudding in its basin somewhere out of the way in the kitchen or, if you’re lucky enough, a larder, until Christmas Day.

On the big day, rewrap the pudding (still in its basin) in foil and steam again, this time for 3 hours. Eight hours’ combined cooking time might seem a faff, but it’s not as if you need to do anything to it in that time.

To serve, remove from the pan or steamer, take off the lid, put a plate on top, turn it upside down and give the plastic basin a little squeeze to help unmould the pudding. Then remove the basin – and voilà, the Massively Matriarchal Mono-Mammary is revealed. (Did I forget to mention the Freudian lure of the pudding beyond its pagan and Christian heritage?)

Put the sprig of holly on top of the dark, mutely gleaming pudding, then heat the vodka in a small pan (I use my diddy copper butter-melting pan) and the minute it’s hot, but before it boils – you don’t want the alcohol to burn off before you attempt to flambé it – turn off the heat, strike a match, stand back and light the pan of vodka, then pour the flaming vodka over the pudding and take it as fast as you safely can to your guests. If it feels less dangerous to you (I am a liability and you might well be wiser not to follow my devil-may-care instructions), pour the hot vodka over the pudding and then light the pudding. In either case, don’t worry if the holly catches alight; I have never known it to be anything but singed.

The year after this gig in Tokyo he fell out of a hotel window in Amsterdam and died.

Recipe taken from Nigella Christmas by Queen of Gastroporn Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £25)

This involves a simple, but amply satisfying procedure. In advance, as soon as you get your bird home, remove any trussing, take out the giblets and stash them separately in the fridge. Before putting the turkey in the fridge, wash the inside of the bird with cold running water. Drain well and blot dry with kitchen towels.

The important thing is that you take your bird out of the fridge a good hour before you want to start cooking it, so that it’s at room temperature before you begin. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Now comes the bosomy bit. You take your turkey and, using your fingers, wiggle some space between the skin and breast of the bird, being careful not to tear the skin. (Mind you, turkey skin is so tough, you’d probably need talons to rupture it.) Into this space you’ve made, squeeze good sausage meat, or the contents of your favourite butcher’s sausages (900g of either should be enough for a 5.5kg turkey), pushing, pressing and coaxing so that it covers the whole breast.

Then, from on top of the skin, mould it a little with your hand so that the breast is voluptuously but smoothly bulging. Secure the flaps of skin over the cavity with a metal skewer so that the sausage meat doesn’t escape during cooking.

The skin really crisps up as this turkey roasts, and the sausage meat, which drips down into the breast as it cooks, keeps the meat from drying out. To ensure the turkey doesn’t brown too rapidly, cover it loosely with a sheet of buttered foil until halfway through the cooking time about 2 hours 40 minutes total for a 5.5kg bird with its sausagey faux-bosom). You could then dispense with the chipolatas (or stuffing if you can live without it), so this is a good way of cutting down on dishes to prepare, without making huge sacrifices.

The Pizza


The Funeral Parlour


The Removal Men


The Garage


The Park


The Pumpkin

Motörhead’s singer on the best tour diets, American cheese and food fights.

(Source: Observer)

My mother made this upside-down cake that went horribly wrong. I made her make it again and again, for years, because I liked it so much. It never worked, yet it always worked, if you get my drift.

I don’t eat vegetables. I eat potatoes and green beans and that’s it. I don’t care if you eat 200 artichokes, you still won’t last through a tour. Mushy peas, I like. Brussels sprouts, foul. I won’t eat anything with onions in whatsoever, I hate them – me and Ringo Starr have that in common.

When I lived in Heaton Moor Lane in Stockport in the early 60s there’d be 35 other people living in the same room, so it was kind of cramped. The basic diet consisted of creamed rice. Punch two holes in the can with an old beer-bottle opener and you can suck the Ambrosia out, no problem.

I developed a taste for cold food. I couldn’t afford room service so I started stealing food uneaten left out on trays. Cold spaghetti, cold chips, cold steak. Cold pizza is a perfect breakfast, with lots of salt.

Girls used to steal food to feed us, out of their parents’ fridges and from stores. I knew one bird who could steal a box of cereal from a shop while only wearing a tiny mini-skirt and T-shirt. Where Phyllis hid the cornflakes I’ll never know.

I was in the Rockin’ Vicars, which was the first British band to tour behind the Iron Curtain. A lot of photos were taken of us next to milk churns. We had dinner – some terrible borscht – with President Tito [in Yugoslavia], but I was down under the table and don’t think he was particularly impressed.

Living in LA makes it so much easier to get food. I can have a full meal with two waiters and a table, brought to my door. Or order pre-cooked bacon strips, shipped to me in a polystyrene container of dry ice from Omaha Steaks. Yet I can’t buy boil-in-a-bag fish with parsley sauce, and there’s no proper Heinz baked beans, they’re in a different sauce. But mainly it’s the cheeses I object to.

My rider is a few biscuits, a few cakes, a meat plate, a cheese plate, some cigs, some JDs. I must say, I’m not completely fixated on Jack Daniel’s – it’s just that it’s the one with the best distribution system worldwide. At one point I mainly drank Southern Comfort mixed with Special Brew. What was I thinking?

If a bus driver says “You will not make a mess on this bus,” that’s tempting fate, isn’t it? I love food fights.

I once judged a spaghetti-eating contest, with Sam Fox. I just said ‘”Him first, him second and him third'”. They were gross, faces buried in huge bowls, covered in marinara sauce, I couldn’t tell one from the other.

I make a very good steak. I’ve never worn an apron – it’s beyond all reason. I prefer a completely splatter-free diver’s outfit in the kitchen.

Motorhead’s new single, Born to Lose, was released Monday on EMI.

Would they let Louis Walsh bugger them and make them famous and then be forgotten in like a year?

Black Sabbath are one of the most influential rock bands of all time. They practically invented the heavy metal genre. Ask many bands, particularly those with thrash influence from the 1980s, who inspired them and Black Sabbath will be on the list. Notable examples: Metallica, Megadeath, Anthrax, Slayer, Pantera, Sepultura, or more recently, System of a Down, Black Flag, Sound Garden, Silverchair, Smashing Pumpkins. Black Sabbath created some amazingly great riffs!

Now, whether you consider this rock or as probably more likely, teenage crap, is irrelevant. Because heavy metal has inspired millions across the world. And for this reason I think it is entirely reasonable to suggest that Black Sabbath had more influence on rock than Led Zeppelin, for example.

The loss of Tony Iommi’s fingertips on his fretting hand made him think of a way to simplify playing chords. As a result, power chords became an integral part of Black Sabbath’s sound. I guess you can call them important because of them getting rid of pop elements and making everything dark and heavy.

Black Sabbath helped create a new genre of music – heavy metal. Just like Nirvana helped create grunge. They are both innovators in their own league.

Plus, don’t forget, unlike The Beatles who relied on producer George Martin to make everything polished, add strings, horns, whatever to their songs, Black Sabbath recorded their first album in one take.

Well, OK, The Beatles recorded their first album in one take as well, but it was shit.

Revolting Pasta

One does not usually associate Italy in the last century with the symphony as a musical form. Ottorino Respighi wrote an early, derivative (although sumptuous) Sinfonia Drammatica but towering figures of Italian music like Goffredo Petrassi and Luigi Dallapiccola did not write symphonies. (Petrassi did compose a very fine – if increasingly unbearable to listen to, I find – series of eight concertos for orchestra). Obviously a guy with a lot of time on his hands.

I invested some years ago in the Marco Polo set of Gian Francesco Malipiero’s eleven numbered symphonies and five other named sinfonias played by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra conducted by the late Antonio de Almeida. These are fascinating compositions, rightly acclaimed by the leading Malipiero expert John Waterhouse. Whilst applauding Marco Polo and de Almeida’s enterprise however, I cannot but feel that the performances are not much better than “run-throughs” by the Moscow players. These works need much better performances to reveal their real depth. I would though certainly encourage others to give these symphonies a try! Anyone else know the recordings?

I am also intrigued to hear the single symphony composed by Ildebrando Pizzetti which, I have read, is a fine work. Alfredo Casella wrote two early symphonies (apparently influenced by Mahler) and a third symphony at the beginning of World War II but none of these is currently available – Casella’s music is only slowly beginning to be played much again after his very high pre-war reputation was damaged by his association with Mussolini’s Fascist regime.

CPO did record a couple of symphonies by Franco Alfano – primarily another composer of dull Italian operas – but I would certainly not rate these as masterpieces.

Many do tend to think of Italy – at least before the Berio, Nono, Maderna era – as a country of opera. It is worth taking some time perhaps to explore those composers who also wrote symphonic music.

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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