It must be made clear that it was not the fault of the radio or the mallet or the blow torch. It was not the fault of the BBC, Radio 4, Kirsty Young or Shaun Ley. It was partially the fault of Nick Clegg but responsibility for the destruction of a perfectly good wireless and a pudding lies entirely with Little Michael Gove.
For some, preparing a Sunday lunch is as pleasurable an experience as consuming the result. Having the time and space to create something special without the urgency and utility of mid-week meals is a joy and a delight, especially with Radio 4 as a backing track. After breakfast at Broadcasting House with Paddy O’Connell and then doing the dishes and loading the washing machine to the Archers Omnibus, it is soon time for a coffee with the divine Ms Young on a desert island. This Sunday offered a rare treat as the castaway choosing the eight essential pieces of music, the book and the luxury was The Right Honourable Nicholas William Peter Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of what used to be called the Liberal Democrats.
He came across as a reasonable sort of chap and selected some nice music from Chopin to Shakira by way of Johnny Cash and Radiohead. He talked warmly of his parents, wife and children. Interestingly, the music he would like to be marooned with would evoke memories of certain times and places rather than the quality of the piece. There are rare occasions when celebrities are invited to appear twice on Desert Island Discs, notably comedians Arthur Askey and Kenneth Williams. In years to come, perhaps the future Lord Sportacus Clegg of Lazy Town will be invited back to share his memories of the present day and the “music” of the here and now. His new list* might include:
Billionaire – Travie McCoy
Nothing – The Script
What if – Jason Derulo
Turn my swag on – Soulja Boy Tell`em
All time low – The Wanted
Impossible – Shontelle
Pack up – Eliza Doolittle
Shame – Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow
Forget you – Cee Lo Green
(* List compiled by smaller hippos who think that Stella McCartney is named after a Belgian lager)
The nice Mr Clegg did rather well given that he was born just a few months before the summer of love and the release of Sgt. Pepper and was only nine during the summer of punk. Then came the bombshell at the end of the programme. Apparently, he occasionally nips out the back of the House of Commons for a sly Silk Cut. Quelle horreur! Quelle panache.
The midday news that followed featured the Prince and David Bowie fan as its top story, this time with a different tone of voice. Universities will not be able to charge whatever fees they like and a “cap” will be put in place. Maybe… possibly… it’s still under discussion, said Nick. A few minutes earlier he told us how “lucky” he was to have had a privileged and private education.
After the news and some witty nonsense from David Mitchell, Armando Iannucci and others, what better way to start cooking than by listening to the excellent Sheila Dillon on the Food Programme talking about students and food. With the oven chips in the oven and the microwave burgers in the microwave, it was time to prepare dessert as we approach The World This Weekend. In these difficult times, economies have to be made and standards inevitably slip. So the gratin de fruits et champagne sabayon avec almond praline had to be made with inferior cava. Times are hard, we are all in this together and we all have make sacrifices.
Cooks tip #1.
Instead of buying shaved almonds for the praline, buy whole almonds which are cheaper and have more flavour. Place the almonds in a cloth bag or in a tea towel and smash them using a mallet. If they complain, tell them that it is “tough but fair”.
Cooks tip #2
Do not listen to a radio interview with Little Michael Gove when holding a mallet.
Shaun Ley on The World This Weekend set out the proposition that the much celebrated Pupil Premium for “disadvantaged” children was not all that it was set out to be. The Pupil Premium was a Liberal Democrat idea to end inequality in education and was a very good one. After the May election which, as Nick told Kirsty, “nobody won”, the price of Libdem support was to commit additional funding to the education budget to pay for the scheme. “No,” said Labour, “not enough money.” The flirting continued. “Yes, yes, yes,” said the Conservatives, “come in, would you like a sweetie?”
The disgraceful, shameful and disturbing spectacle of government MPs cheering every cut to services for the less well off during the CSR statement will come back to haunt Clegg. Rather than patting Osborne on the back, he should have taken the knife out of his own. There is no additional funding to pay for the Pupil Premium and the crowing triumphalism of announcing a 0.1 per cent increase in the education budget is hollow. The data used by the coalition government states an increase of 0.7 per cent in pupil numbers over the same time period. This will result in a cut of 2.25 per cent on per pupil funding.
As for the Pupil Premium, this will be funded by cutting other things in the education budget, most notably Education Maintenance Allowance. EMA is an offer of between £10 and £30 per week to encourage young adults aged between 16 and 18 in “disadvantaged” circumstances to continue to study in further education. The money is intended to cover travel, lunch and course materials. It is now gone and will pay for the Pupil Premium which, according to the sums, will go to schools in wealthy areas who are unfortunate to have a minority of the “disadvantaged” in their midst. It seems the money will go to house train the poor who insist on using cava rather than champagne and teach their wretched brats some table manners. The budgets for schools with a majority of “disadvantaged” children will be cut. Disadvantaged kids and young adults who need EMA support tend to live in Labour voting areas.
When challenged with all of this on The World This Weekend, Little Michael Gove ignored the questions and spoke gibberish. He refused to accept that the few local councils who had been promised funding to re-build schools were telephoned on Friday night to “inform” them of further cuts. When he said that money was being invested in two-year-olds, the mallet fell and radio silence ensued.
Cooks tip #3
Instead of heating the champagne sabayon under a grill, use a blow torch until the surface is golden-brown.
Cooks tip #4
Do not attempt this technique when thinking of Little Michael Gove`s face.
We scraped off the blackened sabayon and decided to open a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia instead.