I am avoiding a "my son went to school" post because I would cry. I am not even posting a picture of him looking like a shrunken person in a uniform way too big, being all brave. I am leaving that till I feel able to cope without weeping. Suffice to say that this week, instead, I turn to Mothers Solace (aka Mothers Ruin), gin. And a jolly good reason for gin, the Tories (aka as a Mothers Ruin).
The soon-to-be-built on land at the rear of my house is my foraging ground. Last week, I rooted round the old drove road and picked up a good 3 ice-cream tubs of sloes and bullace. Apparently, the bullace has a sweeter taste, but really, they are much of a muchness. I have seen bullace that are red and orange, but most are basically sloe like. That is to say, small, purple/bluish (with a blueberry lustre tinged with darker shades), slightly larger than a big blueberry, but more ovoid, and with a lovely blue bloom on until rubbed. If your sloe find has thorns and is a shrub sort of size, with fruit close to the branch (and usually, the thorns: buggerit), then it's a sloe. If your find is small tree sized, and thornless, with the berries in more of a cluster, then it's a bullace. You can usually find them alongside each other and in any good sized hedgerow. Some purists say you should wait until the first frost to pick, arguing that a sloe gin or brandy made with frosted sloes or bullace is of a deeper palate. I say, bugger that, it's got to mature anyway for months, and I need it in time for Christmas, i'm buggered if I can afford many Xmas presents this year, a small bottle of Bullace gin is your lot. So, I pop them in the freezer overnight and purchase a great huge bottle of cheap gin. I am not bothering with "posh" gin, although some people will tell you it matters. For me, the taste of fruit and sugar means I can overlook the quality of gin.
Next, get yourself a bucket with a lid, a big pickle jar, or if you are me, a MASSIVE plastic jar which once held over 1,000 gherkins (thoroughly washed and sterilised. Don't ask,it was once one of daughters eating jags). For every 75cl of gin, add 500 g of sloes or bullace, and 250g of sugar. Some people like more, some less, taste it in a month and add more if you want. Smoosh the defrosted berries with the sugar with the end of a rolling pin. Add the gin. Lid on, and shake. Shove it in a dark cupboard. For the first week or so, shake it every day. Then every week. When it's ready (when the sugar has gone, it's a nice gloopy texture and dark colour), decant it carefully through a jelly bag into your chosen bottle. Give it to someone you like or drink it yourself.
Where do the Tories fit in? Well, their recent "leaked" (for which, read : judiciously thrown out info to test the waters) documents on plans to woo female voters make me need a gin quicker than mine is maturing. Shorten the Summer holidays? For why? To urge mums back to work. It annoys employers. No need to ask *them* to change, natch. Fiddle about with benefits a bit more? Why not just give back the ones you've nicked? Or, how's this? How about you stop thieving money from the comprehensives to pay for "Free" schools, so every child can get a fair whack? How about you stop shutting down reading schemes, Bookstart, libraries, Surestart? How about you stop slicing school bus services? How about you stop cutting to the bone those public sector jobs that women actually do? How about you stop presiding over one of the biggest periods of female unemployment since the 1980s? How about you explain what is happening to those women who now no longer get child benefit, and thus to NI payments that were linked to that? How about not penalising women who are carers, or mothers of the disabled? How about not shutting or cutting to the bone special needs services? Or services for the elderly? (It's mums who care for kids and elderly relatives, after all). And it goes on..... and on.... Tories. The party of really hating women and thinking that they're too thick to notice. Pour yourself a gin and have a think. If you were one of those women who voted them in, take a look. Better off? Thought not. Every woman is allowed an error. Well do I remember my mum voting for Thatcher because she thought she'd be better off under a woman. Nope. A Tory is a Tory, and even the women are men. Raise your glasses to a clearer sight next election. Before it's too late.