Annabelle @ The Art of Flag-waving

The Scarlet Pimpernel


They seek him here, they seek him there;
Those frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven or is he in hell!
That demmed elusive Pimpernel.

They seek him near, they seek him far;
Under the sun and under the star.
They close the gates, they ring the bell;
To try and catch The Pimpernel.

They try so hard, but they try in vain;
For he eludes them yet again.
No matter where they try so well;
They cannot catch The Pimpernel.

Over land and over sea;
They cannot reach him, oh no, not he.
And no knows where he hides his bower;
The man with the name of the scarlet flower.

He rescues men from the guillotine;
With its evil blade, sharp and clean.
The women sing and shout his name;
While the evil search for who to blame.

They say he hails from English shores;
And walks about behind closed doors.
Yet no one sees him, for his disguise,
Keeps him safe from Prying eyes.

They seek him here, they seek him there;
These frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven or is he in hell?
That elusive Scarlet Pimpernel.

Baroness Emmuska Orczy


Annabelle @ The Art of Flag-waving

Imperfect but real

Italian opera captures the humanity of women like no other genre. Romantic and feminist notions of women are all thrown out the window depicting, instead, three-dimensional beings with their good, their bad and their ugly on full display. Tosca is one such protagonist – possessive, jealous, temperamental, loyal, devoted and highly vindictive. Criminal, even. This protagonist is no dainty little wallflower waiting for a white knight to rescue her nor a virtue signalling, opting to run to the State whenever there is a problem, SJW. Tosca is real.

If Tosca existed today she would not run to the HR department/lawyers whining of being groped by her boss. She would kick his balls in, shove a stapler in his mouth and not give a second thought to her dime a dozen admin job. She understood her worth and her power, an egalitarian who was not afraid to protect herself and her own using the very terms dictated by her oppressor. At any cost. Tosca is what feminism has miserably failed at.

This magnificent opera climaxes in Act II “ E qual via scegliete?” (Which route have you chosen?) where Tosca comes to her own choosing to protect her honour.

Evil, lascivious Scarpia blackmailing and threatening Tosca.

Murderous Tosca choosing her honour over consequences.


Muori dannato! Muori, Muori!
È morto! Or gli perdono!
E avanti a lui tremava tutta Roma.

There is a life lesson in this libretto that should not be ignored, real women fight back. Tosca is the real feminism.


Annabelle @ The Art of Flag-waving

Seafood Kang

This year I have received, and continue to receive, some very special birthday gifts which tickle me pink! But taking and taking makes me feel greedy, so I thought to share my secret and most prized recipe as a way to thank the generosity – my ultimate octopus soup. A meal which I could happily eat every day for the rest of my life, as you shall too once you savour its delights!

The first step is to source the freshest octopus you can get your hands on. Look for one which is alive and with the biggest available. Like an old cow, the bigger the octopus the more flavoursome it is. And also like an old cow, it is essential to break down its tough, rubbery texture with a little extra love – mechanical tenderisation. As a traditionalist, I prefer to achieve this by bashing the octopus against a reef rock, where the salty sea naturally disinfects the octopus’ from any existing parasites and cleanses it from debris and impurities. This can be the most fun part, as it releases stress. If rock-reef is not within your grasp, a large rolling pin or steel mallet will do the trick.

Once your octopus is nice and tender, the next step is to remove its beak. Pinch the octopus’ mouth pushing it out of its cavity as much as possible. Take care to not insert fingers in that nasty orifice, as the hooked beak may snap or you could discover some unknown clawed and angry animal laying dormant within it itching to harm. Better to neutralise it with a very sharp pair of scissors or a knife.

As this point, using a cleaver sever the head from the tentacles in one clean swoop. Open the head, remove the organs, taking care not to pierce the ink sac, as its bitter poison could ruin the meal.

Next, cut the octopus into bite size pieces, place into seawater with 2 cloves of garlic so to infuse a little pungency into its flavour. Depending on how well you have tenderised your octopus, gently simmer until cooked. As a rule of thumb, gentle beatings require 1 hour, moderately beatings require ½ an hour and for brutal beatings, a quick 15 simmer will suffice. Due to fossil energy, I think it my duty to always opt for the latter.

Once tender, some chefs opt to remove the skin and the larger suckers, I prefer to leave them intact – I love to play with the suckers on my tongue just before biting into them – fun and flavour, why waste the extra oomph? To serve, add extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and enjoy the ultimate mauveliscious soup!

For the health-conscious looking to shed some extra kilos, octopus soup will definitely aid their diet, whilst providing an excellent source of sustenance. Next time you’re at the fish market, grab an octopus, or two, and enjoy the ocean’s hidden gem. It thoroughly deserves to wear the most edible seafood crown. (I scoff at the claim that sharks are the kings of the ocean, let the octopus rule my platter!)



Annabelle @ The Art of Flag-waving