I've just been reading how huge our debts are. I know, I've known for years how, even in the times when we weren't at war and everything was apparently rosy, that the previous government deliberately disguised the amount of the national debt.
A number of schools were invited to apply to be part of a rebuilding project under a PFI - Private Finance Initiative - project. Never mind for now about all of the details, my present point is that, having applied and been accepted for a new build on a new site of our village school, we governors had to learn a great deal about the subject.
I could understand the figures but not make sense of them. So finally I asked the coordinator how it all added up. He explained that the company putting up the money for the building would spend out huge sums, but would heavily overcharge for management services provided. This would service their debt and repay themselves. It would be a 25 year project. Somewhere halfway, they would break even by paying off the original loan. After that, they would make a massive profit. So, I asked, why - since this was a government initiative, though being run by the county council - why didn't the government put up the money and save all those charges? This way, I was told with simple truth, the expense doesn't show up in public sector borrowing.
PFI schemes alone have put us in debt to the tune of an extra 200 billion pounds more than even that lying regime ever told us. It was about 8 years ago I found this out and I never trusted them one inch since.
Anyway. A delightful, if somewhat unusual, combination of food for dinner. Artichokes to start with. No careful cutting beforehand to serve just the hearts. Part of the pleasure to me is the slow pulling off of the individual leaves, the dipping in butter and the scraping of the artichoke flesh against my teeth. Then the careful removal of the choke, the immature flower, to reveal the heart as the final treat, worth all the effort.
After that, we had the first home grown runner beans. We could have had them a few days earlier if I'd noticed, for they were big enough. I love runner beans, picked young and tenderly unstringy. I like them best sliced long and fairly thick. Little chippy bits are easily overcooked, but broken into chunks doesn't expose enough of the tender inside. With it, we had some young broad beans, some small new potatoes - these, I didn't grow - and kippers. I've said before how fond I am of kippers and of anything smoked.
The Sage picked all the broad beans that were ready, too many for us, so I put a boxful in Al's van, together with a couple more cucumbers. I had cucumber sandwiches for lunch, but can't keep up with the crop.
The first aubergine and a pepper are ready to pick. That is, they will grow more yet if I leave them, but the plants crop heavier if the fruits are removed regularly.