Trying Not To Shout About The Sprouts

City Jackdaw followers may have seen my recent post about how, even in the midst of a national pandemic, the sprouts that we’d had for tea turned out to be the most disappointing thing, so far, of 2020.

Well today was the day of redemption. Or, to put it more accurately, today should have been the day of redemption.

For what day is it today?

Sunday.

And what do we eat on Sunday?

Why, Sunday lunch, of course.

It just so happened that this afternoon my wife’s mother was being discharged after a couple of days in hospital, and Jen was going with her father to pick her up.

“Keep an eye on those pans,” was her departing instruction to me, “when they start to boil turn them down.”

I think you know where this is going, don’t you? But there were mitigating circumstances.

Nine days ago Peter Sutcliffe, the man better known as The Yorkshire Ripper, died, having caught Covid-19 whilst still incarcerated for his crimes and refusing treatment. People of a certain age and geography will remember how his reign of terror paralysed the North of England as he struck in Leeds, Bradford, Manchester, Halifax, Huddersfield, Keighley and Silsden, before being finally caught in Sheffield.

And, coincidentally, as the news of his death broke (and was mostly celebrated), this book was already on its way to me:

And I was reading it while I was also on pan duty.

When they start to boil, turn them down

Well I remembered that much, and after putting my book down a couple of times to venture into the kitchen, found that both pans (one containing sprouts and the other mixed veg), were indeed starting to boil and so did as instructed.

Because the kitchen windows were steaming up, I opened the back door to let the air in, and then, to keep the cold draught out, closed the joining door behind me when I returned to the lounge.

It also kept out the smell of burning. Though Jen detected it as soon as she came home. Fancy that.

“What’s burning?”

“How do you mean?”

“Did you turn the pans down?”

“Yes,” I replied, thinking myself on safe ground.

We both went into the kitchen. Then it became a question of semantics.

“There’s no water in them!”

“They look okay.”

“They’re burnt.”

I peered in at the sprouts, picking up a fork to stir them around a little. “They’re not. Not all of them. Just the ones touching the bottom.”

“I gave you one job to do.”

“You told me to turn them down when they were boiling, which I did do.”

“And keep an eye on them.”

“You said to keep an eye on them before turning them down. I thought you’d be back sooner.”

“I thought you’d top them up with water when you checked them.”

She hadn’t mentioned anything about checking them after I’d turned them down, though I guess that sounded reasonable.

“You did check them again?”

I decided it best not to go down the verbatim route.

“Well . . . “

“Well what?”

“Every time I got to the end of a chapter the Ripper struck again.”

She looked like she was going to strike again, too.

“I should have known. You were reading . . . ”

Anyway, I didn’t think they were too bad. The sprouts were smaller than the ones of my last post, and so were softer, just how I like them. They just tasted a little . . . smoked.

Could barbecued sprouts be a thing? I’m not sure, but I think when Jen asks me what I want for Christmas this year I’d better say “Pans.”

Now the pots are all stacked up by the sink, and to get back into her good books I should make a start on them. But, speaking of books, you see, the Ripper is about to get caught . . .

Claws For The Weekend:Ripping

This post isn’t a book review, but I will share with you first what I wrote over on Goodreads when I finished Wicked Beyond Belief:


This book is from the perspective of the police force that was hunting the Yorkshire Ripper. In the time before computers, it documents the blunders that allowed Sutcliffe to keep on killing, and their desperation to end his reign as they realised he would just keep on killing. (In five years he was credited with murdering thirteen women and attacking a further seven, though it is suspected he is responsible for many more.) He was actually interviewed nine times without them realising he was their man. Officers’ health and marriages suffered as the force was totally overwhelmed by the biggest criminal manhunt in British history. For five years the north of England was terrorised by this man, when even female police officers were escorted to their cars after work as nowhere was considered safe. I can remember, as a child, the newspaper headlines every time the Ripper struck, and as a ten year old when the killer’s identity was finally revealed. This book reads like a thriller, and is the best crime book I’ve ever read. Appendixes include his confessional statement and interview transcripts.



Anyway.

Much to my wife’s chagrin, for some reason I like to keep her up to date with what’s happening in any book I’m reading. Even though I’m not talking about the grisly parts, I guess I may be a little taxing for her.

Yesterday morning, early yesterday morning, as she was getting ready for work, I knocked on the bathroom door, quietly as not to wake our student or the children. I’m thoughtful like that. She opened the door, half dressed, half awake, hair all tousled.

“Jen, they’ve started a covert operation.”

“What?”

“They’ve started a covert operation. In a world before computers, they have secretly began recording the Reg plates of men who are entering certain areas looking for sex.”

“What are you going on about?”

“They totally underestimated the number of men who were actively looking to pay for the services of a prostitute. They were shocked.”

“You’re talking about that bloody Ripper again aren’t you?!”

“Have a guess how many?”

“No.”

“In West Yorkshire alone-150,000 a month. In Manchester 4,000 a night!”

I let the numbers sink in. She let the door close quietly in my face.

I waited a few minutes. Let her floss. Knocked on the door again. She opened. Still wearing the look.

“Six times he’s been interviewed up to now.¬†Six times! His records misplaced. A file lost for a year. Mistakes are being made.”

“I think I made a big one twelve years ago!”

She left for work. I assured her that I’d let her know how things went.

So, sat with my book in the local coffee shop, I felt sure she would need to be updated with developments. The (short) text conversation went like this:

“They’ve got him.”

“Yippee.”

“I’ll let you know how the interviews go.”

“Can hardly wait.”

“Wait until you hear what he was wearing when they caught him.”

“I’m not coming home.”

I know secretly that she can’t wait to see what book I choose next. But as tomorrow is Saturday I will let her have a lie in first. Maybe leave it until 8.

Speaking of Saturday, have a great weekend, guys.  Give thanks for criminal databases.

See you on the flip side.