Sunday, 20 June 2010

Madoff/Clegg/Cameron/Brown - spot the difference.

I like to try out supermarket own-brands. Often, it's once. The own-brand bread is universally pretty bad but if you toast it, it'll do. If you want to eat it as bread, buy the good stuff. It's much better.

There was once a can of curry sauce on sale for 8p, and I'm talking last week, not last decade. It wasn't very good on its own but as a base sauce for a curry, with some proper Madras mix added, it turned out okay. So I can get the start of a curry for 8p. Hard to beat that.

Some things work on the own-brand scale. I can't tell the difference between Red Bull at a pound a can, or the own-brand versions at four for a pound. Other things don't work. Cheap coffee is just not worth the saving. I'd rather drink it less often than buy the cheap stuff. I probably should drink it less often anyway. Between the espresso and the Red Bull clones, my caffeine intake is likely to be at a level that would turn a doctor pale. Then I'd tell him about the booze and the smoking and he'd probably blow an artery.

Today a box of wine caught my attention. Normally I avoid boxed wines because you can't gauge how much you've had. This was one litre of Spanish red in a box for about £3.50. Well, I thought, give it a go.

It looks okay. It smells and tastes like homebrew rather than anything from a Spanish vineyard. As far as trying out the own-brands goes, this will be a 'once'. I can make wine this bad myself and a lot cheaper too.

I think it might benefit from a visit to the freezer. Worth a try.

It's not true that the more you pay for wine, the better it is. I've had some very nice ones in the £4-£8 price range and been served some very bad ones in the 'HOW much?' price range. It's all about the taste you prefer. If someone wants to educate your palate so you'll appreciate, and then prefer, much more expensive ones, don't let them. It'll cost you more.

Well, the budget approaches, and this boxed homebrew is likely to be all that many of us can afford. We'll be paying more duty to help subsidise the government's own booze habit. Apparently it's only harmful when we drink it. It doesn't harm politicians at all. That's why they take all our money away, to stop us buying it, then buy up lots of the most expensive stuff and drink it. I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if there was a duty-free cigarette counter in Westminster too.

There's no need for a wine cellar in Westminster at all. I see no need to have one, and I don't see why anyone needs one. If someone wants one and stocks it with their own money, fine, but it's not a necessary thing for a government to make us pay for.

Wine cellars used to be important. Stocks would come over by boat and then be transported by horse and cart, they'd be infrequent so you'd need to buy a stock when it was available. Now we have supermarkets and corner shops and getting hold of a bottle of wine really isn't difficult at all. A child could do it, and often does, and with more success than the adults.

Politicians are trying to make it more difficult for us to get booze. Restricted shop hours, penalties for late-opening pubs, nagging about binge drinking when only a few actually do that and they aren't listening. Meanwhile they use the money they take from us - at a time when the country is in debt up to its eyeballs - not to repay the debt, but to restock their wine cellars. How dare they nag us about drinking? How dare they tell us we are a 'strain on the NHS' because we like a tipple? How dare they allow supermarkets to refuse to sell to a parent if their child is with them because 'they might give it to the child', and all the while use the money they claim they need to take from us to rebuild the country for their own booze shopping?

Labour are already bleating about this but they have no right to speak. They are as guilty of wasting money on such fripperies as any, and they have been doing it for thirteen years whereas the new gang are just getting started.

I'm self-employed which means I don't have a salary income. Some months I make loads, some months nothing. I can't splash out in the good months because I know the bad ones are coming, so I have to even it out. In those bad months, spending is curtailed. Essentials only until the income flows again. The reserve is not for buying steaks and smoked salmon when the income is low, it's there in case of protracted low-earning periods. Then there's the tax, payable in advance, which is actually due at the end of this month. There are definite and expected costs - gas and electricity bill, mortgage, council tax, lab rental and income tax and so on. Then there are unexpected costs - a burst pipe, a broken piece of lab equipment, computer breakage, and so on.

So while I will buy wine and whisky, I am not going to fill a cellar with it when I'm flush with cash because that cash flow is not guaranteed. I certainly wouldn't do it with other people's money. the government thinks their cash flow is guaranteed, that all they have to do is put up duty and we'll keep paying it. People can brew their own booze, they can get booze and tobacco from the EU and more and more are converting diesel-engined cars to run on the waste cooking oil from chip shops. All those activities are directly driven by rising duty. The whole country can see that apart from about 650 cretins who live in a big house, disconnected from the real world.

They jailed Bernie Madoff for taking peoples money, promising to invest it, then spending it on himself.

I would like to ask the current government, and the past one, how his actions are different from theirs? As far as I can see there is only one difference between the government and Bernie Madoff.

He didn't take the money by force.


TheFatBigot said...

I freeze sub-standard wine in ice cube bags then use two or three at a time when cooking. Not in cakes, but you know what I mean.

Leg-iron said...

Cooking wine! Why didn't I think of that?

Stewart Cowan said...

Cheap coffee can be truly awful. I drink far too much Carte Noir, but as I don't take milk or sugar, it probably only works out at a couple of pence per cup.

As for your income tax, LI, you have until the end of next month.

At least I hope so because that's when I'm paying mine.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

A chef once told me that you should never cook with a whine you wouldn't be happy to drink.

Plan B is to pour out several glasses of the stuff and leave it to breathe overnight. Or over two nights. Often, that does the trick.

Angry Exile said...

"Normally I avoid boxed wines because you can't gauge how much you've had."


Snakey said...

He didn't take the money by force.

Excellent point.

B Manning said...

'Cheap coffee can be truly awful.'

Try Percol Expresso (strong and intense, c.£3/100g). Not freeze dried.

Two spoonfuls (+ sugar) in a medium size mug. Well worth the price - best instant on the market. Tesco and Waitrose sell it.

Stewart Cowan said...

Thanks. I'll look out for it in Morrison's this afternoon.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"...converting diesel-engined cars to run on the waste cooking oil from chip shops..."

You don't actually need to do a lot of conversion, it pretty much just works.

otoh, chip fat doesn't have the lubricity of real diesel, so after a while it destroys your injection pump.

Checked the cost of those recently? It would pay an awful lot of fuel duty...

Anonymous said...

Checked the cost of those recently? It would pay an awful lot of fuel duty...

Depends if you would rather pay fuel duty to the govt or support a manufacturer?

Captain Ranty said...

'Preciate the link, Leggy.



Mrs Rigby said...

Dim question. Freezing wine, how would that improve the flavour?

Leg-iron said...

Obo - I left it with the lid off. Worth a try. I'll see if it's any good tomorrow.

Tonight is Ledaig and mixing that with cheap red plonk will make Satan rejoice.

Leg-iron said...

Stewart - you're right, I get that wrong every year. Still, better to be ready a month ahead than a month behind!

Leg-iron said...

B Manning - I am a big fan of Percol even though I have a Gaggia machine. Sometimes it;s too much trouble to set it up.

Nescafe do an instant espresso too, but it's not to my taste. For those whpo prefer it mild, perhaps.

I use one and a half teaspoons of Percol in an espresso cup. Then wonder why I'm still wide awake at 5 am!

Leg-iron said...

Mrs R - I meant freeze-distilling it. Take off the juice and lose the ice. The alcohol melts long before the water.

It's turned a few dreadful homebrew wines into passable brandies.

Leg-iron said...

Weekend yachtsman/ Anon

It depends, I suppose, on how much duty you save before the pump goes. Not having one, I can only speculate but the higher the duty, the more viable the pump replacement.

Rather like smoking. The higher the duty, the more viable the smuggling.

The cost of fixing a pump/paying a fine eventually gets overtaken by the saving on duty. I think we're at that point now.

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