Friday, 31 May 2013

The New Bane of My Existence is Brioche

Beloved bought me a baking recipe book by Paul Hollywood (a master baker and becoming celebrity chef baker)

This is how he terms it.

I think of it more him buying a list of things he wants to eat and expects me to make. He resents this interpretation of events.

And yesterday he found a recipe for a kind of Brioche (French faffy bread of faffiness that is faffy) and the recipe for it is even more faffy than your average faffy French recipe. Supposedly it’s sweet, rich and very very light. Now I’ve made brioche before and it didn’t even remotely resemble this recipe

Because I looked at the recipe and saw “500g flour, 250g butter, 5 eggs” and declared that it isn’t bread, it’s cake. It’s cake with yeast in it. It’s cake without enough sugar. But it’s still cake. Twice flour to fat and lots of eggs = cake batter. It’s a sponge cake pretending to be bread. It also has 140ml of milk which, with the eggs (let alone the butter) is a metric fuckton of liquid.

But, fool that I am, I agree despite it taking 2 days. And I try to knead it. Oh how I tried.

I would not wish kneading this stuff on my worst enemy. It isn’t bread dough. It’s porridge. Cement porridge. It’s a batter. It’s the gloopiest, stickiest, nastiest stuff you ever did do battle with. You could build buildings with it, it resembled sawdust suspended in vomit, it looked like something they serve you for breakfast in Scotland, it grabbed hold of spoons and wouldn’t let go and if you go it on your hands then, suck it up because you ARE losing a layer of skin. In frustration I corralled the sticky mass into a food mixer and, something I hardly ever do, tried to get it to do the kneading. And the motor nearly burned out. This stuff nearly killed my mixer. It still has sticky goo invading its crevices. A long, hard rehabilitation awaits before it can rejoin kitchen society

The funnies part was when Beloved read aloud the instructions to “tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into balls”. After trying to murder him (damn he can move fast when he wants to), I made a hasty dam to stop the substance from oozing off the counter top.

After wrestling it into the oven (not a cement mixer which may have been more appropriate) and cooking it we did end up with something that very closely resembled bread!

And we cut into it and it was so incredibly light – you could cut it with a butter knife.


It’s unsweetened spongecake with a crust and a bread-like flavour. It tastes like bread, it has the texture of cake. Which is, apparently, correct – but but but why would anyone want this? Why do you want bread with the texture of cake? Why do you want crumbly bread? WHYYY?

And why would you spend so much time and energy making bread with so little substance? Why? Because this is French cookery for you – endless faff for damn little reward *harrumph*

It is a little redeemed watching Beloved try to make sandwiches with it.

In defence to the recipe, I have found 2 issues that are Beloved’s fault:

Flour. He assures me he hasn’t mixed up my flour containers and put the wrong kind in the wrong tub. He swears he hasn’t. He’s also a lying liar who lies. Because that “strong white bread flour” had wholemeal in it.

Butter. When I say “I need 250g softened butter” he interprets that as “250g of spreadable alleged-butter”.  Which doesn’t solidify when fridged of course.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

I Bite my Tongue

Senior Partner #1 likes me to be “discreet”  about my sexuality and in a million ways tries to poke me back into the closet as much as I can. Usually I bite my tongue

Senior Partner #2 loves having a gay lawyer and will use me for bonus novelty points whenever she thinks it will earn some prizes; she treats me as a toy. Usually I bite my tongue

I have a colleague who makes life very difficult because we have been instructed to “avoid each other” because he can’t keep a civil tongue in his head. I’ve nearly bit my tongue through on that one.

I bite my tongue because arguing with one’s bosses is something to be done sparingly and they both do things I won’t bite my tongue about, so I have to stock up my Awkward Conversation points. I bite my tongue because the firm already believes they are being tolerant by hiring me. I bite my tongue because I don’t want to be considered awkward. I bite my tongue because this is far from the best time to job hunt – and I know there’s no guarantee any other job I get will be better

One of my neighbours can’t formulate a sentence without a slur. I bite my tongue

One of my neighbours’ child needs his mouth washed out with bleach. I bite my tongue

One of my neighbours thinks they’re wonderfully sweet when they comment on how we’re almost like a “real couple”. We get some variation of the same patronising bullshit every week. I bite my tongue.

I bite my tongue because I’ve already riled up one neighbour enough to leave snide little menacing notes on my home and car (for over a year now – they’re starting to repeat themselves. I ask you, is it that hard to keep the hate fresh? At least show some originality). My car has been scratched, a lot. I don’t feel safe enough to risk alienating more neighbours.

One of my friends is married to a very noisy bigot. She won’t keep her mouth shut, they’re a really awful person. I try to avoid her – but that inevitably means I avoid my friend and when we do meet, when I complain he gets a long argument (and then complains). Inevitably, I end up biting my tongue

One of my friends has a hanger on even she knows is offensive as hell, but she’s desperate not to upset her.  Whenever her friend puts her foot in her mouth, she silently pleads with me not to say anything. I bite my tongue.

One of my acquaintances needs to do a lot of editing to their internal monologue and it keeps slipping out. But when I point out what they’ve said, they can spend in excess of 3 hours on dramatic apologies and reciting all the wonderful things they do and attitudes they have. Most of the time, I bite my tongue.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Computer has Changed. Bad computer.

Firefox has been giving me all kinds of grief lately, fighting with Flashplayer, eating computer performance and generally being a nuisance.

I applied my usual tech support methods. I swore at it. I frenziedly clicked the mouse. I swore at it some more. I restarted the computer. I swore at it some more. I turned off the computer and went and read and pretended I didn't want to use the computer anyway, so there. I then swore at it some more. I even *gasp* reinstalled stuff.

None of it worked. I know, I was shocked too.

So I poked Beloved and insisted he do the magical arcane computer thing. I assume sacrificing a goat was involved (this is how you make computers work, yes?)

And I came back to find my computer no longer has Firefox. It has Chrome.

This is why I don't ask him to fix things. Now things are Changed. I don't like Change *huffs in a corner*

Also, we're decorating. Which is probably silly since we've also kinda-not-idly discussed moving

Monday, 20 May 2013

On straight, cis folks and Civil Partnerships

A day of debate on Marriage Equality has brought many things, lots of arseholery, of course – but bright sparks like Gerald Howarth’s nasty homophobia becoming that rather awesome #aggressivehomosexuals hashtag on twitter. Well played my siblings, well played indeed :).

But it also brought a huge amount of debate about straight, cis folks (since there are straight trans people who are currently in civil partnerships)  having access to civil partnerships and I am rather annoyed. So let’s look at that.

Before I begin this, I feel the need to remind everyone what a civil partnership is and what it was created for – the history people like to forget

It was not created as a choice equal to marriage that allowed you to gain some legal rights while avoiding the kyrarchy/tradition/religion/whatever connected to marriage. It was not a union that meant something different or special from marriage. It was not created as a union for people who are uncomfortable with marriage for whatever reason, want to protest marriage or object to marriage or change marriage or, indeed, do anything else to marriage, our culture, our society, our tradition, our religions or any other damn thing in the entire country or even the world.

Now, it’s possible you can repurpose civil partnerships to do any or all of the above, but that wasn’t what it was created for, it's not what it is.

Civil partnerships were a turd of homophobia, polished up all shiny, to be fed to GBLT folks because we were fighting for some legal recognition and marriage was considered too shiny, too special, too precious to be sullied by the likes of us. It was a way to concede some of those rights while still making our lesser status in society clear and overt. It was another legal entry in the annals of “why nasty GBLT people are beneath the precious cishets”.  It still is.

Don’t ignore that. Don’t forget that history. To do so is dismissive, privileged and homophobic.

And I say that as someone who is in a civil partnership and am painfully aware of how civil partnerships are treated.

This is what we are trying to fight now with marriage equality. We are trying to remove the law that says we are less, our families are less, our loves, are less, we are less. We are trying to get the highest authority in the country to stop legitimising homophobia, to stop broadcasting that we are lesser people with inferior lives, to stop insisting that we are less due respect and full membership of society. That is marriage equality and that is what we are fighting. And there is a lot to fight – there are some very needed amendments for this bill coming up and some more Tory sabotage to fight against.

But today we spent hours talking about cishet people and civil partnerships. I don’t know if Maria Miller is right and there will be all kind of delay for the bill – it’s likely she’s lying she is, after all, a politician and a Tory so chances are good. But I’m unwilling to take the risk and, regardless, we still spend hours during a debate on equality for GBLT people talking about the plight of bloody cishet people

Does everything have to be about you? Seriously? Is it actually possible to do something without cishet people deciding they absolutely have to be involved?

Do you want to take the turd that is civil partnerships and maybe use it to fertilise something better, something different? Great! Do so! By all means fight to use civil partnerships to create something good; so long as you remember and respect the history of civil partnerships and what they represented – AND STILL REPRESENT. Remember, civil partnership isn’t a special toy we got and you were denied, it’s the scraps off your table you expected us to settle for.  Maybe you can make more of it than that – I hope you do.

But do it on your own damn time. This law is about achieving equality and righting an injustice on a marginalised group. It is not about you, cishet people. But you are deciding to use us, our fight, our struggle to further your own goal. It doesn’t matter how interesting or worthy or progressive or excellent that goal is – it’s supremely entitled  for you to jump on us like this for your own agenda – especially if you risk derailing or delaying our actual struggle for equality.

I’d like it if we could secure our seat at the table before we focused on whatever gourmet meal you intend to make from the crusts and scraps you threw to us.

Other Amendments to Marriage Equality

Beyond those 3 that are attracting a whole lot of attention, there are a number of other amendments as well, some of which are worth commenting on

Religious freak outs. We have a whole load of amendments that say, basically, the churches need protecting from the icky icky gay folk. These are pretty much redundant since the bill already lets religious groups be bigots over and over again including with that ridiculous quadruple lock. There is no need for these amendments and their inclusion just adds fuel to the fire that poor religious groups are being forced by the nasty gay folk.

Chaplains. A provision to protect chaplains from the icky icky gay folk. I vehemently oppose this. It’s one thing for private religious bodies to practice their bigotry (which I strong disapprove of anyway) but that goes beyond the pale when chaplains provide services for the government and are paid with tax payer money. My tax money shouldn’t be paying for bigotry against me.

Adultery &Consummation. These archaic concepts are, at the moment, defined by penis-in-the-vagina (PIV) sex and are generally inapplicable to same-sex couples. But, to be frank and as I have explained before, they’re also pretty ridiculous for opposite sex couples as well. The amendments would remove all mention of both of these outdated concepts from the law – I approve wholeheartedly.

Trans provisions: there are a number here. Firstly one that preserves pension rights for couples when one partner transitions – an obvious yes and needed.

The current law allows a marriage to be voidable should one party be trans and not tell the other. The amendment would remove this – and I heartily agree. Should they wish to end the marriage there are already tools to end it. I do not think being trans is such a super-special clause that it needs its own voidable clause, nor do I like pressures of disclosure being pushed on trans people.

The law as it stands requires a cis person in a marriage to a trans person to statutorily declare they want the marriage to keep on after the trans person transitions. This is exceedingly icky and the amendment removing it is badly needed – this sets a presumption that they will want their marriage to end, it sets a presumption that cis people automatically need an out from marriage with a trans person – it sets up an ideal that being married to a trans person is a terribad fate that people need rescuing from and that most people would – should – flee from. As I say above, nothing will force you to remain married, we already have a pathway to ending a marriage without having to impose this insulting presumption of dissolution and forcing couples to take steps NOT to be automatically divorced.

There is also an amendment allowing the altering of marriage certificates to reflect a trans person’s gender and birth certificates of their children to reflect their parents’ gender. Definitely needed.

In the past, trans people have been forced to annul their marriages to transition (since same-sex marriage was illegal). There is an amendment to allow these people to reinstate their marriage and have it listed as continuous. Definitely something to support – they did not want their marriage to end and had that forced on them by a bigoted law, time to correct that.

Marriage Equality returns to parliment

The marriage equality debate comes up for debate again today, as you can probably tell by the number of Tories frothing and spreading bigotry on various news channels – and someone’s rattled Lord Carey’s cage again.

We now go into the amendment stage. When we did this with Civil Partnerships, this was when the Tories did everything they could to scupper the law by throwing as much mud at it as possible in the hope that it would stick and drown the law – things like sibling marriages et al. No doubt the same is going to happen here.

Some ones that have pinged the radar:

Referendum. Yes, we need to turn out the whole country to vote on whether or not we get to get wed. Referenda in the UK are reserved for major constitutional changes for the most part, they’re not things we do casually and certainly not things we do for people’s basic human rights. So far, referendums and proposed referendums have been confined to things like EU membership, devolution, the voting system; constitutional structural changes all. We have only had 11 of them – ever - and none of them have ever concerned human rights being put up for popular vote. Even bigoted MP David barrows admits he’s only introducing the amendment to try and sink the bill.

Needless to say, the very idea of the whole nation of predominantly straight people voting on my rights sickens me and infuriates me. Add in the complete lack of any constitutional basis for such a referendum and it’s a blatant, nauseating piece of homophobia.

Discrimination Immunity apparently for registrars and school teachers and who knows what else – all will be given a pass from our current equality laws to be raging homophobic bigots under this amendment. No. Really fucking no. If a registrar wants their bigoted religion to control their job then they should have become a vicar, priest, rabbi, imam, or whatever their bigotry of choice is.

And teachers most certainly should never get a pass to be bigots. The harm this does to our children – in all schools and, yes, that includes private and faith schools. It’s especially important in faith schools that are already shown to be extremely hostile places for GBLT youth. Marriage equality will exist – teachers teach what exists. You don’t get to pretend something doesn’t exist because you don’t like it. You don’t get to teach children we don’t exist because you’re bigots. And we do not tolerate teachers denigrating people by race, religion or gender – so why should we do so for GBLT people? I am sick and tired of the unthinkable when it comes to other marginalised people being the publicly acceptable with GBLT people.

This is apparently something Cameron is considering as a concession to getting the bill passed. And that’s ridiculous – the bill will pass with the majority of Labour and Lib Dem MPs and the minority of Tories who support equality. The last vote passed overwhelmingly by over 225 votes. There is no need of concessions to pass this law. There IS a need for concessions for the Tories if they want to try and present this law as their baby, as I said previously. Whatever praise Cameron hoped for for being the prime minister who brought marriage equality is badly shattered by over half of his party opposing it and the nasty shit his MPs have been spouting since its introduction.  To claw back some of that sense of this being a TORY bill, he needs at least half of his MPs to vote for it – it’ll be weak, but something. Though snipping out pieces of the equality act to convince his party to support equality is a bit of a non-starter. Of course, he’s also running scared from UKIP and this government is deeply reactionary. In a classically-Cameron slapstick moment, he’s trying to push the “look how modern I am” while at the same time still woo the Swivel Eyed Loons (thank you Lord Feldman) who are champing at the bit and protest voting to UKIP, the BNP with better PR.

Straight civil partnerships I have to say I am bemused as to why straight people so desperately want access to the not-good-enough-for-marriage partnerships since I can’t see one damn thing it brings you that civil marriage doesn’t - beyond the fact that straight people simply have to be part of everything and in everything. But, hey if we want to continue civil partnerships (which is probably easier and less problematic than scrapping them after marriage equality) then by all means have them open to straight folks.

However, Maria Miller claims that this amendment would delay implementation by 2 years. I have no idea why – but then, I have no idea why it has taken this damn long to get marriage equality. I suspect it may be a derail and may be a lie or a figure plucked out of the air. While I don’t trust her, the fact that the ones proposing this amendment are the usual Tory bigots who hate all things equality and will do anything to destroy this bill makes me think that it is certainly designed to delay or derail marriage equality. I can’t imagine them supporting this UNLESS it helps damage, delay or destroy marriage equality. Much as I dislike Lynn Featherstone and her straightwashing and dismissal of Tory homophobia, she’s right when she says “beware opponents bearing gifts.” Again, this is what the Tories did when civil partnerships were first introduced – try to drown them in amendments.

Either way, I do not support our fight for equality being derailed and delayed AGAIN by entitled straight people deciding they need the lesser-not!marriage-we’ve-been-forced-to-settle-on. The idea that our access to the full institution should be delayed so straight people can also have the lesser-institution sticks in the craw.

It’s tempting to consider this battle won because of the success of the earlier votes – but it’s far from over, especially with the Lords looming over. At this stage we need to be vigilant over marriage equality being deformed, of amendments being introduced that would gut our equality in other areas, of “concessions” that would leave us with let another unequal institution and of delays and wrangles that could see us waiting yet more years for marriage equality to actually happen. Keep on fighting.