Sunday, March 23, 2008

Shocking Tolkein manuscript to be sold at auction

Inspired by the £60,000 sales price for a first edition of JRR Tolkein’s ‘The Hobbit’, a collector in Solihull has revealed details of a collection of hand-written manuscripts by the author.

"I found it in an old tea chest of oddments I bought at a car boot sale in Oxford," said retired market trader ‘Sailor’ Harry Billingsworth. "I didn’t realise it could possibly be so important as it just seemed to be a bit of whimsical nonsense about fairies or something."

The manuscript is an early draft of Tolkein’s famous ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy although in its hand-written form and under an earlier title of ‘Swords and Things’.

"Clearly he is just getting to grips with his saga. The setting isn’t in the majestic middle-earth, for instance, " explained Billingsworth. "’Swords’ is set in Middlesborough."

Mr Billingsworth explained that the cast of characters was also very different from the litany of Orcs and Wizards we have come to know so well over the decades.

"We may now think of Hobbits as little, jovial, carousing adventurers, but in this early manuscript it appears Tolkein had less affection for them, referring to them as ‘drunken short-arsed gits," said ‘Sailor’. "Instead of living in the ‘pastoral land of the shire’, they instead ‘wallow in the shite’."

There are references to the rich tapestry of the fantasy world back-story that has spawned an entire industry, although perhaps it would have been less successful had the original imaginings seen the light of day.

"The elves were so central to the battles throughout the history of middle-earth," said Billingsworth. "It is surprising to find that they were originally described as ‘those massed ranks of the tree-dwelling, pointy-eared twats’."

The manuscript was found hidden in an old medicine cabinet that is believed to have belonged to Tolkein during his distinguished professorship at Oxford, during the time he wrote ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’.

"I just opened the old cabinet and under several packets of ‘Mr Hollingberry’s Fabulous Powders’ were a couple of battered old notebooks full of strange drawings of dragons," explained the hopeful seller.

In addition to revealing some surprises about the origins of the saga of Arda the notebooks are said to also contain writing that was a complete break with Tolkein’s preferred ‘High Fantasy’ genre.

"There are some 25 recipes in there for a collection entitled ‘How to cook those Wild Mushrooms at the Bottom of your Garden’, said Billingsworth. "There is also a self-help book entitled ‘Write whatever you can remember when you wake up face down in your Mushroom Omelette’."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Delia to release even more basic sequel to “How to Cheat at Cooking”

Delia Smith, the world's leading television cook, has announced plans to release a follow up to her latest book 'How to Cheat at Cooking' which has become another of the author’s phenomenally successful guides for the novice chef.

The TV cook says that she came up with the idea for a series of 'cheating' books shortly after her tired and emotional appearance during the half-time break at the Norwich City versus Manchester City game in 2005. After a spirited first half supporting a lacklustre performance from the club in which she is a majority shareholder, Norwich, she took to the microphone and appealed to "the best football supporters in the world: we need a 12th man here. Where are you? Where are you? Let's be having you! Come on!"

"Obviously I had been supporting the lads hard from the director’s box. When I wrestled the microphone from the club announcer I was so sure they could make more noise because I could see double the official attendance," said the TV cook. "It was then that I wondered how the fans could find the time for fine cuisine and still get to the pub for a few liveners before the game. So I thought I would share a few of my secrets."

Delia said that she often had to knock-up a timesaving recipe using pre-prepared supermarket bought ingredients so that she could take her place at the player’s bar in time for the arrival of the ground staff at dawn.

"If I am running late, I save time by getting the cheesecake straight from Sainsbury’s," said the nation’s favourite cook. "I can let it defrost on the radiator at the Wetherspoon’s near the ground whilst I have a quick eye-opener before the game. And a go on the quiz machine."

Delia said that if it is a mid-week game then she has all the extra pressures of her busy media career to contend with and this can further reduce her time to prepare for the big match.

"When you are in a rush don’t be afraid of canned ingredients, they are something you can just get out and they save loads of time," she said. "After a hard day and a head long rush to the ground in time for kick-off I find that a can of Tennent’s Super on the bus acts as a good relaxer."

Many aspiring chefs wish to cook all their ingredients from scratch, however here Delia has a tip from her years of experience when trying to arrange a late night supper.

"Hopefully the Canaries will have won, and after a few swift halves in the player’s dressing room, it is time to head home. However it is usually late, and whilst there is nothing better for supper than the famous Flemish beef in beer dish - ‘Carbonnade de boeuf à la flamande’, this is a perfect example of how to cheat at cooking," she said, repeatedly. "I use pre-cooked meat from a kebab and I save even more time by not stirring the beer into the recipe itself, I just wash it straight down with a can of Kestrel Export."

Delia will be holding regular signings of the sequel, entitled ‘Cook by phone – Let’s be having you a takeaway’. Just take your copy along to the burnt-out Astra under the Carrow Bridge most nights after closing time at the ‘Queen of the Iceni’.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Fat gene enabler identified

Scientists have revealed details of the means of operation of the so-called 'fat gene' and its interrelationships with other proteins within the DNA chain. The identification of the gene, known by its genetic identifiers as LRDY, is seen as a breakthrough for millions of sufferers whose bodies are unable to naturally regulate their pie intake.

"The benefits of this large body of research into people's susceptibility to LRDY are numerous. We hope to be able to offer a genetic therapy which can be administered by injection, or orally in say a chocolate milkshake," said the leader of the research team, Professor J. Scott Billingsworth. "Not only that but during the research we collected enough free burger tokens to keep the population of Glasgow fed for at least 10 minutes. We have about a billion tokens."

The researchers say that those desperate for a reason to cancel their gym membership should check for symptoms which include a compulsion to queue outside a Gregg's Pasty shop and spasms of the nervous system around a salad bar.

A group of very large campaigners welcomed the news from the research team and said that it made an even more compelling case for cream cakes to be made available on the NHS.

"It is such a relief that it is an evolutionary trait dating back hundreds of thousands of years that compels me to drive the few miles to my nearest pub and order six packets of pork scratchings. Three times a day," panted Michaela Billingsworth of the 'Fat and Fit' campaign from the steps of 10 Downing Street. "Oh Jesus, I need a sit down. And a mars bar."

The research team however revealed that there was a statistical link between sufferers of excess LRDY production and the millions of people who suffer from the mental condition known as being 'big boned'.

"Despite the historic discovery made last year, it is clear that being big-boned is a mental disorder," said Professor Billingsworth. "The statistics show that 93% of 'big boned’ sufferers answered positively to the research question 'Would you like fries with that?'"

The LRDY gene exists to a greater or lesser degree in all of us, said the research team, however other proteins in the DNA chain regulate it.

"What is clear is that a person's susceptibility to LRDY is directly related to the production of the protein responsible for the American accent," said Billingsworth.