Dennis the Menace meets Raymond Blanc

I phoned the legendary Old Stokie last night to check where he’d be and where we’d meet up for the FA Cup Semi Final at Wemberley on Sunday. After inquiring about Mum he moved on to the main business of his life in the moment of this call. ‘I’ll tell you what Winger,’ he said, ‘I’ve only just gone and bloody electrocuted meself.’ If a rusty old train could talk, that would be the sound of OS’s voice. He went onto to explain that what had happened was that he’d broke a knob off the cooker, which is gas, but which has electric parts for the ignition and so on, and that after he’d tried to switch the oven off with what remained of the knob he’d introduced a screwdriver into the equation and that by making contact between the screwdriver, the shaft that had previously held the oven knob, and himself he had completed a circuit and been ‘thrown right back across the room.’ He was cackling like a maniac by now. ‘Lucky the fuse board has got a tripper unit on it or I’d’ve fried,’ he said.

I asked him what it was that was going in the oven anyway. ‘Bloody oven chips,’ he said (he has long held it against me that I once served these up to him here in Norwich). When I asked what he was having with them he named a product I’d never heard of: Hunter’s stewed steak. ‘It’s bloody lovely it is,’ he said. I didn’t know what it was but when I learned that it was meat in a tin I replied that it sounded repulsive. Further investigative questioning revealed that Hunter’s stewed steak is, in fact, intended as a pie filling. ‘So you’re having pie filling and chips for dinner then?’ I said.
‘I don’t eat pastry, winger,’ he replied, ‘I try not to have too much cholesterol.’
It’s lucky there’s no cholesterol in fags then.

In the end, I arranged for myself and grey man to go round there in the summer and have oven chips and Hunter’s stewed steak served to us on the terrace with a bottle of Sancerre. OS said he’d wear that Colman’s mustard apron I bought him for a present once to do the serving. ‘I dunna bloody like mustard,’ he said when I asked if there was to be any gentleman’s relish, sauces, or whatnot served with his meal. No, it was all to be plain fayre.

The item that I first took to be a spinning top in the recipe picture I requested, as per below, is, I imagine, the remnants of the famous broken knob. Some years ago OS asked would I do a speech or say a few words at his funeral. I said Yes, so long as he didn’t mind people knowing the truth, but I have the feeling he’ll live to be a hundred and ten and that he’ll have to do mine instead.

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103 Responses to Dennis the Menace meets Raymond Blanc

  1. OS says:

    If I ate a lot of saturated fats, I would have self-combustioned. I think my heart murmur has gone now. It’s stopped fluttering since I had the shock. The gas man was coming in the morning to do a safety check. I’ve rung up and cancelled him. If there’s a knob broke on the cooker, he’ll disconnect it at the mains. I’ve just ordered another online. Eighteen bloody quid for a plastic cooker knob!

    I’ve just noticed the 5% fat on those chips. I’ll check out Aunt Bessies next time I buy any, but I’m not sure they sell Aunt Bessies at Aldi.

  2. markelt says:

    I’m not eating that.

    I thought at first that surface looked suspiciously clean but I’m heartened to see a grimy bit at the bottom of the picture.

    And can I just add that I spent some time choosing the right font for that sign and when I mentioned the fact to OS, his eyes glazed over, the ungrateful swine.

  3. Stephen Foster says:

    I’ll have yours then.

    If you think a personage who eats mined pie filling and chips for his dinner gives a stray fart about the relative merits and demerits of serifs and sans serifs then you know less about human nature than I thought greyman.

  4. Ovookla says:

    I’m shocked to hear that you don’t even eat Fray Bentos tinned pastry. My sons were given tins on leaving home, and also the puddings, and thought it was wondrous how the grey slime turned to crispy golden pastry, or slightly less grey puddings. Pragmatic, moi?

  5. OS says:

    I was more concerned the slug Cupid darts didn’t hit me in the leg. I’ve just spent an hour on the phone with greyers, and all he did (while he was emptying and filling the dishwasher – *thinks* – if it takes that long, then why doesn’t he just wash up like normal folk?) was talk about animal sexuality. I was truly astounded that dolphins are bisexual. Apparantly, the males use each other’s blowholes. That’s way better than men bored holes in telegraph poles. And this topic, winger, was because we were discussing your repressed homosexuality!

    NB: greyers and Mr Pink and Gorgeous George and Little Joe are going to Wemberley. We’ll do a three-way contact and all meet up on Wemberley Way.

  6. OS says:

    Ask him about mallard sexuality. He knows stuff.

  7. OS says:

    Fray Bentos steak pies, Ovookla. I used to love them. In the flat tin, and it takes three quarters of an hour to get the tin opener around.

  8. Stephen Foster says:

    an hour on the phone on a Monday afternoon with your inane fantasies?

    it’s a busy afternoon in Cheshire Life and no mistake : )

  9. OS says:

    NB: Since you gave me that sign, Mark, number one grandson, Samuel, says I’ve got to have all the doors lowered. I like the font. It has a sort of animalistic sexuality about it. 😉

  10. markelt says:

    Slugs don’t have love darts. Snails do. It’s all a matter of taste, not appetite.

    Some hermaphrodite slugs try to bite off each other’s penises while mating to decide once and for all who’s going to be the daddy. And still none of it is as weird as the mazy vagina of a common mallard. Isn’t that right OS?

  11. Stephen Foster says:

    Dear other blog readers and passers by: these two may look vaguely sordid but all it really means is that one of them is a bit geeky and subscribes to The New Scientist.

  12. How nice – those chips were made just up the road from me – and when the wind is in the right direction the whole area smells of oven chips. No wonder I can’t bear to eat them at all!

  13. And on a different matter – I thought the entire worksurface was grubby – until I cleaned my laptop screen! My apologies OS.

  14. Ovookla says:

    Yes but Katharine the fact that you and I can’t eat these things (or – whilst we’re on the subject OS, tinned Irish stew) is not something you and I are going to debate our latent lesbianism over, for 10 texts (ffs!). It just makes us finer diners and less precious. And, if we have to involve animals, we don’t need New Scientist to tell us not to eat food that is indistinguishable from Chum, or in the case of oven chips, the glue works (what they did with the Cow Heel they didn’t eat) in Blackburn.

  15. Daftburger says:

    Gentleman’s relish, you just can’t help yourself, snigger!!

  16. Ovookla says:

    So I knew it was a euphemism, googled it, and I concede, if I had ever managed to drink 12 pints+ I couldn’t have told the difference between Tyne Brand Irish Stew and the aforementioned. But, in self defence, I did eat Fray Bentos pies and Vesta curries as a student, I just couldn’t after I did the whole marriage, children schtick and ended up feeding all the pets, and I can’t eat muesli after the guinea pigs, or melon and English lettuce after the spitting iguana and the geckoes. I’m sure I should be pitied…

  17. Ovookla says:

    Or perhaps I shouldn’t listen to Al Read all day in the car OS. It gives me damp seats and my neighbour and I shouted at a border collie ‘Now then! Now then!’ The one that got us worst was ‘Cave Man’ when the wife says ‘Don’t think you’re going to sit there sharpening your flints all day. I want you to do something with that dining room wall – it’s wringing wet…

  18. Stephen Foster says:

    When we were kids in the Isle of Man we went to school near Castletown brewery. I’ve never been able to touch beer since 😉

  19. OS says:

    +1 🙂

  20. OS says:

    I’ll never eat another duck egg again. Ugh!

  21. OS says:

    Greyers, if ever I go into a maze again, I won’t be able to stop giggling. I shall, of course, be peeping to see if a mallard’s penis is around the next corner. I would hate to come across one of those.

  22. OS says:

    You, obviously, weren’t brought up near a vineyard, where they use donkey dung to add that tang that you connersers think is a touch of ‘earthyness’.

  23. OS says:

    Apologies accepted, Katharine. XXX

  24. OS says:

    Ovookla, honestly, as I was warming the steak and gravy up in the pan, because of what winger said, I was thinking to myself that should try Butcher’s Tripe Mix one day. It would go well with some mushy peas and bread and I Can’t Believe it’s not Butter.

  25. OS says:

    I need to get my head around this post. You don’t eat children, do you Ovookla?

    Hold on….

  26. OS says:

    …and with that, we seem to have gone a full circle from Baxter’s Pie Filling to the Salford Sausage Maker’s butcher’s shop sketch. You couldn’t make it up. And all because winger was walking his dog and decided to bother me. 🙂

  27. Stephen Foster says:

    Congratulations OS you have won today’s award for Most Comments On a Post About Oneself.

    Your prize is a tin of Spam.

  28. Ovookla says:

    Plus ca change OS, plus ca change – sorry I’ll need greyer to put the circumflex on the c, or whatever they’re called.

  29. Stephen Foster says:


  30. Ovookla says:

    Yeah, I know, I just rang a friend, do they call you Chris Tarrant at all those blogmeister meetings you go to?

  31. markelt says:

    One subject that did come up in that hour long telephone conversation was the undercurrent of homoeroticism of The Floor Scrapers, which OS may or may not have likened to his memories of the glistening, grimy torsos, submissive postures and furtive glances from the days he worked down the pit.

    Back then I’d imagine they’d of* seen tinned steak as a bit hoity toity. I remember days when having tinned salmon was seen as a treat.

  32. markelt says:

    I think this is a more elegant explanation.

  33. Ovookla says:

    And didn’t everyone’s Mum have a tin of ham, some silverskin onions and a tin of vegetable salad for ‘surprise’ visitors who never came?
    I remember Sir Les Patterson using the vegetable salad as a technicolour yawn to get bumped up to first class on some show.

  34. markelt says:

    I dreaded the days when my mum told me lunch was ‘salad’, which consisted of watery lettuce, half a boiled egg, some cucumber, luncheon meat and salad cream. Still better than Findus Crispy Pancakes though

  35. Stephen Foster says:

    So that’s what Sam Whaley-Cohen does in his spare time.

  36. Stephen Foster says:

    Lunch? Born in a castle were you?

  37. markelt says:

    In ‘Castle. Yes.

  38. Stephen Foster says:

    Oh v good: mild spattering of applause.

    Stepfather Spanish Henry was very keen on the convenience of Smedley’s tinned potatoes. He used to saute them with garlic.

  39. markelt says:

    I do recall mention in a book somewhere of some upwardly mobile Stoke urchin approaching a butcher at Tunstall market for some foie de veau.

    My mum’s speciality for tea* was spaghetti bolognese which had a sauce made with mulligatawny soup and tomato puree. I loved it, including vomity parmesan out of a tub.

  40. calvininjax says:

    It’s the same with our Jack. *

    *Strictly for Al Read aficinados. 😉

    Does 40 comments constitute a record?

  41. markelt says:

    Did you notice that my salad contained something called luncheon meat, which was I think just cheap no brand spam in thin slices, sometimes with egg in the middle like a sliver of gala pie? I didn’t even know what luncheon or gala pie was back then of course, but if I was given it now that’s what I’d be thinking about. That and the lettuce.

  42. markelt says:

    Mention duck sex and the world goes mad

  43. Stephen Foster says:

    Perhaps it’s because of the rhyming slang Elt.

    It’s only when very sad things happen that we see these figures Calvin.

  44. Daftburger says:

    Did your mum used to cut eyes and a smile in your luncheon meat?

    Goes very well with brarn souce on a sarnie! No salad obviously!

  45. OS says:

    Spam is nice fried, with a runny egg.

    Hold on…

  46. OS says:

    I think its a Mac thing. You can always tell when a skint, part time, fiction author and a skint proper writer are joining in. They have all that stuff. I think its something to do with their middle-class gayness.

    Anyway… as you say… or they say…

    plus ça change


  47. OS says:

    NB: Oświęcim.

    We wus there. 😉

  48. OS says:

    My favourite snappin’ was baked beans on bread and butter when I worked down ‘tpit. That and a drink of water out of a Tizer bottle. Then a chew of baccy. Then a pinch of snuff if it was a bit dusty. I had nostrils like a dragon in them days.

  49. OS says:

    Hah hah. The ‘visitors who never came’. I do it now. I’ve just chucked a jar of silverskin onions in the bin. They had a sell-by date of Jan 2006.

  50. OS says:

    You forgot the radishes.

  51. OS says:

    Cheshiric humour. Again. Ho hum!

  52. markelt says:

    Oi Daftburger

    She didn’t, which explains a lot.

  53. OS says:

    I don’t know what gala pie is now. No doubt you will explain it as we’re walking down Wemberley Way, or the next time we have black goat soup at the new Elt Towers.

  54. markelt says:

    Born in Versailles were you?

  55. OS says:

    >Does 40 comments constitute a record?

    I aint done yet. 😉

    Momo would be proud of me, Calvin. He’s back now he’s served his weeks ban. I thought that was most funny.

  56. Stephen Foster says:

    Gala pie is pork pie with a swimming festival in the middle.

    Nb. I heard some bastards have closed down Tunstall Baths.

  57. OS says:

    Oi, Daftbugger!

    >Did your mum used to cut eyes and a smile in your luncheon meat?

    I do it now, but in a different way. Every afternoon when I pick the boys up from skool, I make up a bowl of fruit for Thomas Trubble. I never do it the same way twice. He’s always giggling at where I put the half bananas amongst the strawberries and blackberries and apples and oranges and raspberries and grapes. Two half bananas can make up a super pair of devil’s horns, or two elongated eyes, or two big teeth, or, if I just cut the end off, a reet big nose.

  58. mikethegerm says:

    Condiments and the Potteries man don’t mix. For years, my Dad put soy sauce on spag bol. All foreign, in’t eet duck?

  59. Stephen Foster says:

    🙂 But that’s surely more to do with the usual vicissitudes of being a Fale fan than by dint of being a native of the Potteries?

  60. OS says:

    Ding-dong; ding-dong. Ding-dong; ding-dong. Ding-dong; ding-dong. Ding-dong; ding-dong.

    And OS clocks up the magic 60 comments. Beat that you Proles! Ho-hum!

    Hold on…

  61. mikethegerm says:

    You may go to the semi-final via your vintner, tailor and Rules, but I’d bet that your misguided brethren will take the more familiar course of early opening at the Lithographer’s Fists, wee on the hard shoulder, early ejection from the stadium, and afters at Watford Gap.

  62. markelt says:

    Why is 60 magic? Surely we’d need a century on this ramble.

    Mike is completely wrong of course, just peddling a tired stereotype, the dirty soapdodging inbred.

  63. Stephen Foster says:

    There’s never been a century on here; pls send some awaggers over to get the knock going then deliberately leave it at 99 as per the usual the bastards…

  64. markelt says:

    Just to get the runs up and for a bit of Winger’s favourite intertextuality. My mum made her spag bol for me a few years ago. I hadn’t eaten any for maybe 20 years. And what i discovered was that although the sauce was nice, it wasn’t a spag bol. It was minced beef with mulligatawny soup and tomato puree. Because she was of the generation that didn’t just cook stuff, they made sure it stayed cooked, the spag had been boiled until it was the thickness of my arm and I’d gone beyond tubs of dry spewy parmesan. I didn’t know whether I was better off or not for knowing what a ragu was and what al dente meant and all that. Mind you. I’d eat it every day for the rest of my life if she was still around to serve it.

  65. mikethegerm says:

    Onion, mince, tomato soup, “cheese” that smelled like puke from a tub in the cupboard. And soy, if you’re feeling a bit cosmopolitan. I imagine we were considered a bit lah-di-dah for even having soy in the house.

    Leftover spaghetti to be fried in butter with egg and cheese the next day.

  66. Stephen Foster says:

    O my God: rechaufé cuisine! Proper la-di-dah, almost certainly not Valeities at all; spaghetti in in our house: hoops in a tin.

  67. markelt says:

    Hold on a minute. Never mind the fruitless quest for foie de veau in Tunstall, aren’t you the person who once published a cheat’s recipe for lobster thermidore you’d got from your stepfather. Don’t come all prolier than thou.

  68. Stephen Foster says:

    He was my culinary epiphany, but he was also Spanish; he spat on that Italian boiled bread rubbish before grinding it under the sole of his rather small leather shoe size 5.

  69. markelt says:

    I’ve just dug out the fruity Rowan Pelling’s review of your book about the journey from your so-called working class roots.

  70. mikethegerm says:

    Ha! Was it prawns and dairylea?

  71. Ovookla says:

    I LOVE prolier than thou…. is it original? she asked, heart stopped, eyes like lamps, innocence about to be shrivelled. Just given my brother lunch, and what I like about eating with family is that we used to do it to the radio, and even now we don’t bother to talk at the table. Mum used to heat the Pyrex plates in the gas oven so that the gravy seethed over them and occasionally she’d shatter one (the shards went nuclear) to get help in the kitchen. So brother and I talked after eating, and I’ve burned him an Al Read CD to go home with. And he said ‘You did onions like Mum did – you can’t get them like that anywhere.’ By which he meant fried so they’re a mixture of translucent and toffee-ish to go with our sirloins which was high praise indeed but not more so than the empty plate. The fat is cut and out on the window ledge for the birds. If I’d thought I could have made ‘honeycomb mould’ which was Carnation milk frothed with a turning contraption and two whisks and mixed with the hot bit from a jelly. Next time perhaps.

  72. Daftburger says:

    I’m proper working class potteries, although born in Fanny Deakins so not really! ;). We never ever had Spaghetti Bolougnaise (can’t even spell the foreign muck) possibly as it wouldn’t go with oatcakes but more likely because the only meat we could afford had to be boiled or cooked for hours, I’m so proud!

  73. markelt says:

    I think it’s been around for ages. Or I made it up just then, if you prefer. 🙂

  74. OS says:

    I’m a Scrag End Boy meself.

  75. OS says:

    I’m surprised (and disappointed) that nobody has asked what was in the other tin! The one with the flower on the top.

  76. Stephen Foster says:

    It’s only fear of knowing the answer what’s stopping them.

  77. Ovookla says:

    Actually I thought it was a Marie Curie flower and I remembered something about Winger’s mam and Uncle Joe’s Mintballs – so I assumed it was some sort of secret reference. Or alternatively I’ve dreamt the whole lot up and remain on a different planet to the rest of the blog. Doubtless you’ll put me out of my misery OS. And just so you know – no I don’t eat children, they and their pets still eat me out of house and home. So today it was a full minute’s calculation of whether I keep the steak fat for eldest’s dog or put it out for the birds. In the end I divided it between them, and put the dog’s bits in the freezer. ‘Waste not want not pick it up and eat it’ .

  78. markelt says:

    Pip the border terrier is being treated to portions of the rind off the camembert I baked for our supper last night, drizzled with olive oil and with a few thyme leaves from the garden. Crusty bread. Washed hown with a cheeky shiraz.

    Just in case anybody still thought I was in touch with my working class roots.

  79. Daftburger says:

    That’s one lucky dog having that. Have you any videos of when he’d drunk the shiraz as drunk dogs are soooo funny!

    Aren’t thyme leaves salad? Anything greyn is salud!

  80. markelt says:

    She. Don’t be fooled by the beard.

  81. Ovookla says:

    Bearded she’s on shiraz… You have an interesting life Markelt, quite Rabelaisian in fact.

  82. markelt says:

    You don’t know a tenth of it. 🙂

  83. Ovookla says:

    We still don’t know what was in the other tin or if it was a Marie Curie flower OS ? – I ask as an interested party since I no longer support Marie Curie or Macmillan, it’s all seemed a bit self-referential since I got cancer myself – bizarre I know, but well done you for supporting them. And were they mint-balls?

  84. Stephen Foster says:

    I don’t think that is so bizarre; charity-supporting yourself does seem odd.

    Now, if someone could just get going on Toast Toppers or Yeoman’s Instant Mash we could surely get this thread up to the magical figure.

  85. Ovookla says:

    Well it may just be my weird little world, but I supported the Wiltshire Air Ambulance this week after my market day shop because I thought with all these motorbikes whizzing past me on the bends, it was more likely to be life-saving this month. So apparently my unconscious thinks self-interested is OK but self-referential is declassé. (Probably the wrong word but I found that little box with all the special characters.) I was determined not to be the one who mentioned Angel Delight, or Florida Frozen Orange Juice, all those things that came in English sizes in the seventies and now seem like laughably small portions for one. What is it we have to get to? 99?

  86. Daftburger says:

    Ahhhh instant mash, for mash get smashed! Spent a lovely Christmas, hungover obviously after a particularly good night at Maxims, Sammi Belles or whatever it was called then, at Keele having mash, the instant variety supplemented with butter, real butter, and beans for my Christmas Dinna. God Save the Queen, the fascist regime……….. Sweet!

  87. Daftburger says:

    “What is it we have to get to? 99?”

    An ice cream with a flake in will be lovely, with straberry sauce and nuts on top! 😀

  88. markelt says:

    I believe they still sell Toast Toppers.

    I bought some Sandwich Spread recently and it was exactly as I remembered. All wrong.

  89. markelt says:

    PS I think you could creep it up to the magical ton with a few interlectewal Proustian references and ou sont les neiges d’antan and whatever.

  90. stephen Foster says:

    ou sont les neiges d’antan?

    is that like meringues in custard?

  91. markelt says:

    Four quenelles!

  92. OS says:

    Slam! Bam! Kapow!”

    Hah! Now I’ve got ’em, Rõbĭn!

    How have you got them, βåtmãn?

    The tin has fooled ’em, Rõbĭn.

    They don’t know what’s in it, βåtmãn?

    No, I can tell, Rõbĭn.

    How can you tell, βåtmãn?

    Cus they’re talkin’ about feeding birds and getting dogs drunk. That’s the sign they’re trying to bluff me, Rõbĭn.

    You get more like the Ĵökër by the minute. I luuurve you, βåtmãn.

    Hush, Rõbĭn! You’ll have us Social services after us if you say that!

    Sorry βåtmãn. Can we go to the βåtcãvë now?

    Yes, Rõbĭn. I think I need to go to the toilet. I’ve been dipping into the tin.

    Not-Into-The-Tin, βåtmãn!!!

    I’m afraid so, Rõbĭn.


    To be continued in the flea pit on a saturday mornings, after the Pathe News and the main film of The Lone Ranger Rides Again!

    Hold on….

  93. Stephen Foster says:

    Three French Hens.

    * it’s tortuous stuff but un fair chance he’ll be an authority on the sex lives of French chicks *

  94. Daftburger says:

    More likely French cock! 😛

  95. Ovookla says:

    Oh fGs! And to think I discreetly mailed SF worried in case you’d had a shock mending the cooker. Well obviously a few thousand volts has cheered you up, revealed a Continental quirkiness to Batman and Robin, and I’m betting on Liquorice….

  96. OS says:

    >and I’m betting on Liquorice….

    Ahem… errrr… nope.

    SF was getting warm. 😉

  97. OS says:

    * Me or greyers? He’s the ace at bestiality. He knows stuff. We been through this earlier.

  98. OS says:

    Edit for Daftbugger: You’ll have him going into his shell again.

    Ha Ha Ha, Boom! Boom!

  99. Daftburger says:

    Or finally get him to crack! 😛

  100. Geraldine says:

    This whole mad, wonderful thread started because OS nearly got himself electrocuted, which judging by the above did him no harm at all. The things I remember were tins of ‘fruit cocktail’ and Carnation milk being added to various puddings. Anyway, I’m very happy that OS has survived to make it to Wemberley on Sunday, we will be cheering for you over here as well!

  101. stephen foster says:

    Isn’t there something super you can do with Carnation Milk involving boiling it up to caramel in a pan?

  102. Geraldine says:

    I’m not sure I would describe the result as super but I do remember that the unopened tin was boiled for what seemed like hours and this turned the contents into a thick, caramel-like substance. I must have been a nervous sort of child as I remember always being worried that the tin would explode!

  103. Stephen Foster says:

    That was the very thing, : ) by the way, congratulations on being the first 100 posts poster in the history of the humble blog *doffs cap.*

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