The Great Scotch Egg Robbery

I was amused by a story in Britain’s Daily Mail last week of how an entire police force in southern England
became the butt of jokes after appealing for witnesses to the theft of a packet of Scotch eggs worth 1.65 British pounds. (Php122).

Scotch egg halved and served with mashed potato, gravy and vegetables

Scotch egg halved and served with mashed potato, gravy and vegetables

A woman was caught on CCTV walking into a shop and picking up these traditional British snacks before eating them and leaving without paying.

The police apparently spent a month investigating the crime before launching an online appeal in a bid to identify the woman.

Scene of the 'great Scotch egg robbery' in southern England

Scene of the ‘great Scotch egg robbery’ in southern England

However, the petty nature of the offence led dozens of web users to mock the force for its over-zealous policing.
Police has now deleted the appeal, after a witness came forward claiming to know who the thief was.

Amusement aside, I was reminded at just how delicious Scotch eggs are – that’s probably why the woman couldn’t resists them.

A Scotch egg consists of a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs and fried. There are also mini versions using quail eggs.

Fortnum and Mason, the famous London department store which supplies members of the Royal family, is said to have invented the Scotch egg in 1738.

They are usually a picnic food and home-made, though they can also be served as a main course with gravy and vegetables.

Although it’s a traditional British snack, similar dishes exist around the world including here in the  Philippines. Kwek-kwek are eggs with orange breading sold as street food dipped in vinegar, sweet and sour sauce or gravy.

Kwek Kwek on sale

Kwek Kwek on sale

In the Netherlands and Belgium, Scotch eggs may also be called vogelnestje (‘little bird’s nest’) because they contain an egg.

Brazil also has a dish that is very similar, if not a version, of the Scotch Egg called ‘Bolovo’. It also features an egg in the center but the dough does not contain any meat.

When I’m making pica-pica, this is my Scotch egg recipe.

Scotch eggs - tasty pica-pica a food

Scotch eggs – tasty pica-pica a food

500gr       sausage meat
5              hard boiled eggs, with shells removed
1              large raw egg
Dry breadcrumbs
Pinch of salt, ground pepper, nutmeg
Small quantity of flour
1 tablespoon water

Dust the hard boiled eggs in a little flour. Mix the nutmeg, salt and pepper with the sausage meat and divide into five equal portions. Place on a floured surface. Wrap/mould the sausage meat around the egg, making sure there are no gaps. Beat the egg and water together and coat the meat-covered egg with this and then breadcrumbs (you may have to press the crumbs onto the meat).

Deep fry in hot oil (360F/185C) taking care as you put the eggs into the oil. Cook for about 5/6 minutes. If you don’t have a deep fat fryer, they can be cooked in oil in a frying pan, turning frequently to ensure the meat is fully cooked. Drain and serve hot or allow to cool and keep in a refrigerator for a cold snack later.

English Pork Sausage Meat

1kg          lean pork
500gr       pork belly (fat)
400gr       fresh breadcrumbs
2t             sage
1t             thyme

The Scotch Egg Challenge takes place in England each year

The Scotch Egg Challenge takes place in England each year

Remove any bones or rind from the pork, and pass through a mincer. Mix in the bread and season generously. Pass through the mincer again. Fry a little of the mixture to test for seasoning adding more herbs and pepper if necessary.



Eleventh hour, eleventh day, eleventh month

On Sunday, November 10, Britons and members of Commonwealth countries around the world marked what is called Remembrance Sunday.

It’s held on the second Sunday in November, which is the Sunday nearest to 11 November, the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War in 1918. It commemorates the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts.

The poppy, the symbol of Remembrance Sunday

The poppy, the symbol of Remembrance Sunday

In Britain, Remembrance Sunday is marked by ceremonies at local war memorials in cities, towns and villages, attended by civic dignitaries and ex-servicemen and women.

In London each year at the Cenotaph, Queen Elizabeth, her husband Prince Philip, Prince Charles and other members of the Royal family lay wreaths. They are joined by politicians, military, government officials and Commonwealth representatives.

Two minutes’ silence is held at 11am, before the laying of the wreaths. The silence represents the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, when the guns of Europe fell silent.

And in the Philippines, the British and Commonwealth community came together to mark this very special day with a Remembrance Sunday service at the Episcopal (Anglican) Church of the Holy Trinity in Manila officiated by Bishop Arthur Jones, the rector.

Among the congregation were ambassadors from the UK, Australia, Nigeria and Canada as well as military and diplomatic representatives from the US, India, South Africa, New Zealand and Malaysia.

The address was given by British School Chairman, Simon Bewlay, who was honored by Queen Elizabeth last year with an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for services to education in the Philippines.

Queen Elizabeth lays a wreath in memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice

Queen Elizabeth lays a wreath in memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice

It was a  moving address and I’d like to share with you a short extract in which he made a profound point as to why most of us have never had to join an army, air force or navy to fight to defend our countries.

Mr Bewlay said: “I have never served in the armed forces, the nearest I got was being in the army cadets at school, hoping that being in the cadets would make an easy transition into national service (obligatory conscription into the military). As it happened national service was discontinued before I graduated. I never served.

The Royal family pays tribute

The Royal family pays tribute

My father did, he was a pilot in Bomber Command shot down on 7th November 1939 over Germany a week before his 27th birthday and just 12 weeks after his  marriage to my mother. He was the first victim of German fighter ace Joachim Munchberg, who went on to claim another 134 allied planes before he died at age 24 after his final aerial combat over north Africa.

My father and his crew, however, survived. They were all taken prisoner, were POWs in Poland and Germany and my father came home nearly 6 years after being shot down

But I never served.

Then I realized, the reason that I, and perhaps many of you at this remembrance service have not served in the armed forces, is because of the sacrifice of those men and women who did, the men and women who died serving their country so that we may live in freedom, those who made the supreme sacrifice, defending the great democracies of the world.

Prince William lays a wreath at Cenotaph in London

Prince William lays a wreath at Cenotaph in London

I can make this address, with humility, because the very fact that I have not been called up to defend my country, is testament that our fallen heroes did not die in vain.  We can remember not only with pride but also with profound gratitude, their service and the benefits they bestowed on their children and their grandchildren and succeeding generations.”

British firm awarded vaccine contract for DOH

British Ambassador Stephen Lillie

British Ambassador Stephen Lillie

British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has won a tender called by UNICEF to supply the Department of Health (DOH) with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) for the Philippines.

The vaccination program is part of the Department of Health� (DOH�) Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine provided by GSK is unique in that, unlike its counterparts, it has demonstrated ability to prevent not only pneumonia – the number one cause of mortality among Filipino children aged 1to 4 years – but also a host of other diseases such as meningitis and otitis media.

British Ambassador Stephen Lillie recently hosted a reception for those who are involved in this component of the Philippines’ Universal Healthcare Agenda.

�e have been very pleased to support GSK in its bids for the vaccine program here in the Philippines. Its success is a reflection of the excellence of GSK as a leading British and global company. It is also a testament to the commitment of the Aquino administration to transparent and open tendering. We�e delighted that British multinational companies can come here and can succeed in a free, fair and open bidding environment,�he said.

Norman Begg, vice president at GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals based in Belgium, acknowledged the Philippines as not only a great place to do business but also a great place to do research. He mentioned that many clinical trials are done by GSK with the assistance of Filipino physicians and hospitals in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Health Assistant Secretary Enrique �ric�Tayag thanked GSK for its contribution to the EPI through a study that will help create a more effective blueprint to administer the vaccination program. Assistant Secretary Tayag also called on the international community to help the Department of Health build its capacity to ensure the success of its vaccination program.

Embarrassed? You Bet

How embarrassing

How embarrassing

Can you recall embarrassing moments of your life?

One of my most cringe-making occasions was in London in 1968 when I told my then girlfriend I was going away for the weekend, so we couldn’t meet up. But instead I was planning to date another girl.

I booked a table at Spot 3, my favorite London restaurant. I arrived with my new date and we settled down to a convivial evening. Ten minutes later, the other girlfriend arrived with a relative for dinner and was seated at the next table – only inches away.

I must have gone the color of a ripe red apple as girlfriend number one looked daggers at me the entire evening. That was a memorable evening, but for all the wrong reasons.

I was reminded of this incident after reading of a new study in the UK among 2,000 people which revealed that many Britons embarrass themselves up to seven times a week.

Sending a personal message to the wrong person can be embarrassing

Sending a personal message to the wrong person can be embarrassing

Common moments of acute embarrassment include walking around all day with your flies undone; gossiping about someone and then realizing they are right behind you and sending a personal email to the wrong person.

But such moments pale into insignificance when compared to some seriously embarrassing instances such as the New Yorker who was having a romantic evening on the eve of his 18th birthday with his girlfriend as his parents had gone to watch a movie.

As they lay in bed, they heard the telephone ring downstairs. For a laugh he suggested he give his girlfriend a piggyback ride to the phone. They were both naked.

As he romped down the stairs with girlfriend on his back, the lights suddenly came on and there was his entire family holding a giant birthday cake and all yelling “Surprise”. Needless to say, that the was last surprise birthday that family gave.

Or the woman sitting upstairs on a red London bus. Thinking the man in front of her was an old friend, she rolled up her newspaper and gently hit him on the back of his head. Alas, it was not her friend, but a rather puzzled gentleman wondering why he’d been attacked.

A really cringeworthy moment came when a couple drove to a local supermarket, only to have the car break down in the car park. The man told his wife to carry on with the shopping while he fixed the car. The wife returned later to see a small group of people near the car.

On closer inspection, she saw a pair of hairy legs protruding from under the car. Unfortunately, although the man was in shorts, his lack of underpants turned his private parts into glaringly public ones.

Unable to stand the embarrassment, she dutifully stepped forward, quickly put her hand up his shorts and tucked everything back into place. On getting up, she looked across the hood to find herself staring at her husband who was standing idly by watching.

The car mechanic, however, had to have three stitches in his forehead.

Interestingly, it seems the older I get, the less embarrassed I am. The other day my shorts fell down while strolling though a shopping mall. I stopped, pulled them back up and went on my way.

Embarrassed? Funnily enough, not at all.

Unholy row at luxury car factory

The Reverend Francis Cooke

The Reverend Francis Cooke

I can’t imagine this ever happening in the Philippines, but then this is a predominately Christian country. But in England, Bentley Motors, makers of luxury cars so beloved by Arab sheikhs, has sacked its Christian chaplain in case his presence offends non-Christians.

To add insult to injury, the chaplain, the Reverend Francis Cooke, was sacked just before Christmas.

Despite ten years’ service helping Bentley workers, including non-Christians, he was asked to leave immediately.

Bentley, which is now part of the massive German Volkswagen group, said: “We have a wide range of faiths and want to take a multi-faith outlook. It would be very difficult to have somebody from each faith.”

The clergyman was stunned by the decision which he called “ridiculous”. Over the past decade he has visited the company’s factory in the north England once a week in his chaplaincy role to chat to workers.

“I am not angry but more upset because I am very fond of the workers and they trusted me,” he said.
“There have been no complaints against me and my position is to help people and not just those who are Christians.

Bentley cars - so beloved by Arab sheikhs

Bentley cars – so beloved by Arab sheikhs

“It is not just about offering religious services. I provide counselling to workers who have stresses at home such as broken marriages. I would spend a few minutes with each person which would be enough to help them feel better,” he added.

Workers at the giant factory are furious. They’ve launched a campaign to reinstate the highly respected chaplain, who they said was an ‘important figure’ who had even helped one employee who had been on the brink of suicide.

A chaplain with another British company said he was not allowed to mention his faith unless the person he was talking to requests it.

“Almost 100 per cent of  those I visit or talk to are not Christians,” he said, “but I get requests to see a large proportion of them. Only one person has been offended by what I have said, and that was a Christian lady who misunderstood what I said.”

“I deal with those of all religions and those of no religion. I deal with families, the sick, those who are dying and even get asked to do funerals by those who are not Christians. I do not do my job to gain converts, but to simply carry out the highest demand of my faith, which is to help those who need help,” he added

Said one Christian observer: “A little bit at a time Christianity and British traditions are being wiped out of our lives. The stupidity of political correctness is erasing both at an alarming rate.”

Share the road

My first  bike ride was 57 years ago along Newtown Road in my home town of Southampton on England’s south coast. I can still recall the excitement I felt when I finally managed to stay upright for at least 100 yards.

Since then I’ve had many bikes and I have ridden thousands of miles. I still ride, though it’s a tad dangerous here with pot holes in the roads and so many drivers who simply don’t seem to notice us.

Cyclists in many countries are terrorizing roads and pavements

Cyclists in many countries are terrorizing roads and pavements

A lot of cyclists in Negros proudly display stickers in their car windows demanding that motorists ‘Share the road’. Unfortunately, many of the same cyclists are not prepared to play their part.

All too often one can see cyclists on major highways riding two, three and sometimes four abreast all chatting and not minding other road users.

Cycling on the pavement poses a danger to pedestrians, especially to senior citizens.

Cycling on the pavement poses a danger to pedestrians, especially to senior citizens.

Not only is this dangerous for the riders, it’s behavior not worthy of a responsible cyclist.

Around the world, cyclists are getting a bad name. Many seem to think the road – and often the side walks as well – are for their exclusive use. And look out anyone silly enough these days to think that a pavement is meant for pedestrians.

There are endless stories in many countries – my own included – of what is described as a thuggish minority of cyclists terrorizing roads and pavements and causing numerous accidents especially those involving senior citizens.

Share the road - there's room for everyone

Share the road – there’s room for everyone

Such riders have been dubbed ‘Lycra louts’ because they all tend to wear Lycra clothing and their behavior is ‘loutish’.

According to Kate Hoey, a former British Sports Minister, cyclists – not car drivers – are the real menace on Britain’s roads, claiming they are accountable for poor road safety and aggressive behavior. She describes Lycra louts as selfish, rude, law-breaking and infuriatingly smug.

Her views are based on a survey which reveals among other things that 50 per cent of cyclists in London ignore red lights.

The anti-social behavior of these cyclists has reached a point where many British politicians are now calling for laws to curb the behavior of cyclists who put lives at risk.

Fortunately, we haven’t reached that point in Negros, but I would urge all cyclists here to be a little more considerate, especially on major highways. And they should always remember that their mantra of ‘share the road’  works both ways.

Titanic to sail again

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer

Clive Palmer, an Australian mining and tourism billionaire, is planning to build a replica of the doomed liner, RMS Titanic.

The replica will be built by a Chinese shipyard for Palmer’s Blue Star Shipping Line. It will be powered by diesel rather than coal but will otherwise follow design plans approved by a historical research team and, like its predecessor, will have 840 rooms and nine decks.

However it will incorporate state-of-the-art engineering and navigational features plus a few differences below the water line such as a bulbous bow for greater fuel efficiency and an enlarged rudder and bow thrusters for improved maneuverability.

Construction will start at the end of next year. Palmer says the replica will be every bit as luxurious as the original. She is expected to make her maiden voyage from England to North America, the old Titanic route, late in 2016.

The original vessel, the largest luxury ship in its time, struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. It went down on 15 April 1912, leaving more than 1,500 people dead. The ship had been vaunted as “unsinkable.”

The original ill-fated RMS Titanic

The original ill-fated RMS Titanic

Asked if Titanic 11 will be unsinkable, Palmer said “It is going to be designed so it won’t sink, but, of course, if you are superstitious, you never know what could happen.”

A Titanic historian at Australia’s National Maritime Museum, Inger Sheil, said the connection with the original would not put people off sailing on her.

“Curiously, in spite of the name, I think there will be quite a few people who will wish to travel on it because of the Titanic connection.

When the James Cameron movie came out in 1997 there was an upswing in interest in cruising among the general public because of the Titanic movie. What I’d be interested in is the longevity of that interest. Would it sustain itself after that initial curiosity and novelty factor has worn off?,” said Sheil.

The new Titanic will add to Palmer’s tourism portfolio which includes golf and spa resorts in the Australian state of Queensland.

Some commentators believe building the replica is in poor taste given that 1,500 passengers and crew lost their lives on the original Titanic. But Palmer says already some 45,000 people have expressed an interest in traveling on Titanic II.”

An artist's impression of the titanic sinking

An artist’s impression of the titanic sinking

My hometown is Southampton in southern England from where the original Titanic left on her ill-fated voyage in 1912. Most of the crew who perished came from Southampton. I grew up with many reminders of the Titanic. My verdict? I think it’s a terrific idea and one day I’d love to sail on the new Titanic.