Impending war

War has been inevitable for some time, but its timing has been unclear until today. As I write this, MPs are voting on whether to support the government’s position to support president Bush’s unilateral and illegal invasion. Despite massive opposition by the British public, it looks unlikely that our elected representatives will take much notice of this fact.

We (the public) also keep being told that regardless of our opposition and protests before the war, we must support the government and British forces once they head into battle. Is this right? I’m not sure. If I was opposed to the war beforehand, why should I suddenly flip over to back the government and rah-rah for the troops?

(Update: the votes are in. 217 MPs voted for the amendment, 396 voted against. Current estimate is that 139 Labout MPs voted against the government. I’ve emailed my MP, Nigel Griffiths, to see which way he voted.)

On the one hand, I would like to see my position that this war is a really bad idea vindicated. I’m confident that no matter what happens over the next couple of weeks, history will bear this out. But a faster way for this to become apparent would be for America and Britain to be handed a bloody nose on the field of battle.

On the other hand, one of the reasons I am so opposed to the war is that so many people are going to die as a direct consequence of it. Regardless of Saddam Hussein’s human rights abuses, and general wickedness, it’s our governments that are giving the orders for people to be killed. The best way to minimise these casualties would be not to go to war at all. Failing that, there are likely to be fewer people dead if the war is fought effectively by British and American troops, and is over quickly.

So I either secretly wish for bloodshed and a hairy furball of a conflict, or I wish for an outcome that will leave George Bush vindicated and smirking in the short term. I find both options quite distasteful.

Gamecube – at last!

Yesterday I called around, er, a number of branches of Dixons in Scotland to see if I could find one with both a Gamecube and a copy of Super Mario Sunshine in stock. Fortunately I didn’t have to go too far. The Falkirk branch had ‘cubes, and one copy of Mario left. A very friendly assistant laid it aside for me, and Alex and I went there first thing this morning to pick it up.

For a change, the customer service at Dixons was excellent. Euan, the guy who had laid the ‘cube and game aside for me was there this morning, and we chatted for a good fifteen minutes about what accessories and games were worthwhile. He was a gamer himself, which meant he knew what he was talking about, rather than spouting the usual “Um, it’s got good graphics” twaddle. He did try to sell me the extended warranty (as they all have to try), but he was friendly about it. He didn’t make me feel under pressure to accept it, and of course I didn’t.

I came out of Dixons feeling all happy. Not just because I had a Gamecube tucked under my arm, but because I had been sold something by someone who cared about the product, and who cared about the store. I was made to feel like a valued customer.

The feeling didn’t last long. Alex and I had got up early and we hadn’t had breakfast yet. So we went into the Greggs bakery nearby for some breakfast rolls.

“I’ll have roll with bacon and sausage, and a plain white roll please.”

“Okay, so that’s a roll with bacon, and a roll with sausage, and a plain white roll.”

“No, a roll with bacon and sausage.

“You want both?


“We don’t do both. Wait a minute–Suzanne? Can I do a roll with bacon and sausage in it?”

“No. Well, you could, but we’d have to charge you two pounds, for two rolls. The bacon and sausage aren’t individually priced.”

“So do you want two rolls, then?”

Sigh “No, I’ll just have one roll, with sausage, you muppets.”

I didn’t actually speak that last bit aloud. And I had a stronger insult in my mind than just “muppets”, but this is a wholesome family web site, and it’s not past the watershed yet. It’s not like the rolls were pre-made, either. They had metal catering trays of bacon and sausages, and they assembled the roll right in front of my eyes. But apparently they’ve never come across the concept of a bacon and sausage roll before. Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous…

(Oh, and later on in the afternoon I went out again and bought a copy of Super Monkey Ball 2. Monkeys! Balls! They’re super!)

Chicken wings

I cooked some chicken wings this evening. I did a batch in barbeque sauce for Abi and Alex, a batch in the hot sauce I brought back from my Boston trip, and another batch with a variation on a recipe devised by Lisa (of Burnt Toast blog).

My version of the sauce consisted of margerine, tabasco sauce, Encona Hot Sauce, and a splash of vinegar. It tasted pretty good, but lost a lot of heat while it was coating the wings in the oven. Also, it didn’t stick to the wings very well. (I suspect the Xanthan Gum in the bottled stuff may have something to do with its coating qualities.) Overall, the home-made variety was quite promising.

Earlier today, though, I managed to find a source for the “real” Buffalo Wing sauce: the Rosslyn Deli in London imports a variety of American foods, one of which is the Anchor Bar Original Buffalo Wing Sauce, as served at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY. One of the reasons for making my own sauce was the scarcity of the bottled product on this side of the Atlantic. But now I know where to get it… Yum.

Gamecube (again)

This afternoon Alex and I traipsed around town, looking for a branch of Dixons that still had Gamecubes in stock AND was selling Mario Sunshine as part of the £99 bundle. Unfortunately, we had no luck. The special offer bundle varies from store to store: some branches allow you to choose from 5 games, whereas other branches give you a selection of 6–Mario being the sixth. It’s hardly unexpected, then, that the stores with Mario were sold out of ‘cubes. Also, as they’ve now reduced the price of all GC games to under £25, the game shelves were looking rather bare, too.

Some of the stores did say that they were expecting new ‘cube stock towards the end of this week. I’ll probably keep poking my head in every now and then to see what’s available.

Gamecube price drop–a plot?

I’m starting to wonder if the huge Gamecube price drop at Dixons isn’t part of some cunning plot by Nintendo to just shift large volumes of ‘cubes in advance of their big game releases this year (Metroid, Zelda), or just to have a stronger claim at second place in the console market in the UK (getting the edge on XBox).

Dixons and Nintendo would have to be in it together. A rumour “leaks” out of Dixons to the effect that they’re about to drop the GC from their retail line-up, and have dropped their prices to shift all their leftover stock. Nintendo puts out a denial. Everyone who had been thinking about getting a ‘cube at some point in the indeterminate future now thinks, “Hey, now’s the time to get one at Dixons, but I’d better grab one before they run out.”

Dixons shifts a couple of thousand units in the space of a week or two. Then they put out an official press release stating that they never intended to stop stocking the ‘cube (confirming Nintendo’s official line all along), and that the price reduction was just a special offer. Presto, you’ve just hooked a bundle of customer who might otherwise have just let the ‘cube pass them by, and waited for the next wave of consoles.

That would be pretty cynical, wouldn’t it?