Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fusker lost

I have written several blogs about James May’s cat, Fusker.

The first blog was about our fight – one that became a bloody and noisy conflict that sent me to hospital for stitches and injection, but made me “top cat”.

For all his villainy, Fusker is a rather special cat. When I see him I growl, and off he scampers. He has a memory.

But Fusker has gone missing, and some of us are upset about it.

Being a petrolhead’s cat he loves cars and vans, as well as pretty girls and houses where he can sneak in unobserved.

So where is he? James and Sarah have bill-posted the immediate district, put notices behind car windscreen wipers, and placed circulars in letter boxes – so far (after 5 days) to no avail.

He could be in a house where the owners have not noticed him, then locked up and gone away on holiday or business. He could be in a builder’s van anywhere, or he could have come across a hungry fox – and foxes do live in an abandoned garden next to mine.

In James’s notice there is a fine photograph of the cat and a description of his habits. Omitted, though, is a warning that appearing friendly, he can suddenly scratch and bite.

Has anyone seen him (black with front white paws and white nose and bib)?

Our district is the duller without him.


We now learn that people close to the main road nearby had found Fusker's body and disposed of it.

So poor Fusker died beneath the wheels of vehicles he loved so much.

If there's a cat heaven, he will be much respected there.


First select your Brussels sprouts. They vary a lot in taste from the bland to the deliciously nutty. As far as I can see, you will get no indication of their taste by inspecting them on the supermarket shelf or market stall.

Sprouts are best consumed in the cold of winter My father would never eat them until the plants had experienced the first frost, though I have since eaten excellent sprouts before the arrival of cold weather. In the springtime they start to enlarge and become unpleasant to eat.

Look at the base of the sprouts. Freshly picked ones will have a clean, whitish base where they have been broken or cut from their parent stem. The longer they have been offered for sale, the darker and drier this base will become. Aim for small, tight sprouts with clean outer leaves. If the outer leaves are yellowing, do not buy them.

Trim off the base with a knife and peel off the outer leaves if they are bruised or dirty. The sprouts will then be ready to cook. Boil more than you need so that any remaining can be fried for a dish the next day - which is when they change taste and are just as delicious, if not more so.


You will need:

Brussels sprouts

Salt and pepper

Butter and/or olive oil

Nutmeg (possibly)

Ginger root (possibly)

Garlic (essential)

Into salted boiling water throw the trimmed sprouts. Bring the water back to the boil and time the cooking for 5 minutes exactly – or 8 for large ones. They will then be cooked, firm and at their very best. Strain the cooked sprouts and return them to the pan so that any remaining water will evaporate over heat. Now add a good lump of butter or some olive oil with salt and pepper. Add a pressed garlic clove. Toss the sprouts around in this until coated. Serve immediately. Many believe that a grating of nutmeg is almost essential – I don’t..

If possible, retain enough sprouts to fry the following day – or start from scratch. Put the boiled and dried sprouts into a frying pan with a little olive oil, or oil and butter, with some pressed garlic. Add pepper and salt. Fry the sprouts until their outer leaves are brown and crisp, almost black, by which time the smell, with the added garlic, will be delicious. Sometimes I sprinkle over some peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger root, or boil and fry a couple of pieces of ginger root with the sprouts. But they are quite delicious enough without this adornment.

Another way to eat sprouts is to trim them, divide them in half and then slice the halves into shreds. Eat these raw with onion in mayonnaise or fry the shreds quickly in garlic, olive oil, pepper and salt.