Dabbler Diary – Hotdog-stuffed Crust

On Thursday Tony Blair stated that it was important to ‘de-escalate’ matters in Gaza. I’m not sure if he coined the word but I’d not encountered it before. In that night’s Question Time two panellists also spoke of ‘de-escalation’. Fascinating, the irrepressible urge to coin, to fill in ever tinier gaps in meaning. The word ‘calm’ didn’t quite do the job for Blair because you could calm something that is already maximally rough, whereas the salient point about Israel-Palestine is that it is on the way to getting worse. “Prevent escalation” would have done, but some people will never use two existing words if they can invent a new annoying buzzword. In fact this sort of thing doesn’t annoy me much. I prefer coiners to pedants. Pedants often claim to be word lovers, but really they’re just rule lovers. Word lovers split infinitives, start sentences with ‘But’ and invent Jabberwockies. Rule lovers write to the Telegraph or leave tiresome comments on blogs, but the thing about pedants is that they always, always get caught out themselves, in the end.


Being the owner of a garden trampoline, a Vauxhall Zafira and two small children, I fall naturally into the demographic described by AA Gill (sorry Malty) as ‘Boxsetshire’. Which means that instead of going out/having a life etc, my wife and I spend most evenings slumped in front of Boardwalk Empire or Game of Thrones with a glass of Aldi plonk in hand, and the ‘seasons’ that now divide our year are determined by HBO rather than Mother Nature. We’re currently on the long-delayed new Mad Men and have recently finished season 4 of Breaking Bad, which may well be the most awesome box set yet (and I include The Sopranos, The Wire and the second and third 24s (before it jumped the shark) in that assessment). It’s common for we Brits to lament our inability to do TV of this quality, but I think that’s the wrong way to look at things. The fact is, nobody has ever done TV of this quality before and we should be grateful for its existence. It’s a golden age. The unexpected drawback is that the mega box sets have diminished the movie. Even in the epic-est epic a lead character will only spend a couple of hours on the screen. Over a few series of Boardwalk Empire Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson character is on our screens for twenty times that, and takes on Shakespearean proportions. Tony Soprano, Don Draper, Walter White – these are men in full. A feature film now seems oddly fleeting and trivial.


That said, I did enjoy Skyfall. It was funny and had everything you could ask for, including a brilliant baddie in Javier Bardem. It was also possible to follow the plot. I’ve never been able to follow Bond plots and have always found the films a bit boring apart from the opening credits and the girls. Skyfall might be the most British Bond yet. I hope the Yanks like it as I understand we rely on them for the financials. (incidentally, I also saw a terrific frog film on DVD last week: Hidden by Michael Hanneke . It’s a very unusual, 1970s-style thriller in which the victim is the guilty party. Seek it out if you haven’t seen it.)


I knew there’d be a Twitter reckoning one day. You couldn’t design a more perfect format for bullying, malign gossip and reputation-trashing, but the trouble really began when the mainstream media started reporting Tweets and Twitter trends as news. Schofieldgate was the culmination. Now it looks like it falls to Lord McAlpine to take out the trash, and you don’t get much trashier than Sally Bercow (nor more pompous than George Monbiot). According to the Sunday Times, McAlpine’s legal team is going after as many of the thousands of tweeters and retweeters as they can, asking them to apologise and pay a nominal £5 to a children’s charity. This is heroic stuff. And while we’re on the subject, does anyone else share my feeling that we’ve seen quite enough of Tom Watson MP for one lifetime? He’s rapidly becoming the prig’s prig.


So did you vote for your police commissioner then? Exciting, wasn’t it – going into the booth and randomly selecting someone you’ve never heard of for a job that you only vaguely understand.

Actually things were a bit more interesting in Bristol, and for the first time since I contributed to Blair’s victory in 1997, I have ticked the box of the winning candidate in an election. Now there’s ominous for you. On Thursday I voted for George Ferguson to be Bristol’s inaugural Mayor  – despite the fact that he wears red trousers. He was the independent candidate with the best chance of winning and part of the point of this was to wrest council control from party politics. There was stiff competition: the Labour candidate was a groovy young cat and we cannot overlook the challenge of Dave Dobbs of The Birthday Party, whose manifesto was mostly taken up with an explanation of how the waters of Noah’s Flood came from the planet Mars. He managed 411 votes (or 0.46% of the total). Ferguson is more like Bristol’s Branson than its Boris, an egotistical entrepreneur who has brought theatre, microbrewing and café culture to previously rubbish parts of the city. The red-trousered philanthropist now has only one job, and his ability to do it is the measure of the success of the whole Mayor project: he just has to be visible.


An incidental feature of the awesome Breaking Bad is the appearance of unfeasibly large pizzas. Twice, characters arrive bearing pizzas the size of tractor wheels. I do not exaggerate, they’re outrageous. These megapizzas, I thought, are typical of American excess. Americans lack our traditional hang-ups about snacks. They take for granted a birthright to shove into their gobs whatever sugary, syrupy or meat-based treats they desire without concern for propriety or decency or the dignity of the animal kingdom – hence corndogs, spray-on cheese and breakfasts combining bacon and maple syrup. However, something has this week been put through my letterbox which destroys any idea that we Britons are still resisting US-style culinary decadence. A local pizza takeaway is advertising its new gimmick: the hotdog-stuffed crust. This repulsive offering is illustrated in glamour-mag colours: a slimy puce phallus gripped by clammy dough. Whence came this vile idea? Domino’s cheese-stuffed crust was bad enough, then came KFC’s ‘popcorn chicken’, but filling every available crevice with meat looks like the endtimes to me. This has to stop here or it’ll be pork doughnuts and chocolate-covered meatballs. What we need, quite clearly, is a snack de-escalation. Let’s get Tony Blair on the case.

Dabbler Diary is brought to you by Glengoyne single malt whisky – the Dabbler’s choice.
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30 thoughts on “Dabbler Diary – Hotdog-stuffed Crust

  1. peter.burnet@hotmail.com'
    November 19, 2012 at 09:37

    Fear not, your reputation as the Anglosphere’s epicentre of taste and restraint battling Yankee culinary schlock is safe. You did not invent the hot-dog stuffed pizza crust, which is being advertized widely over here by a major chain. Sad, really, that a country that beat back Napoleon and Hitler lies prostrated before Pizza Hut. I battle regularly with a splenetic lefty who thunders gigantic curses at modern life using a lot of fast food imagery. I’ve always defended, but that pizza crust was a Damascene moment that almost converted me to socialism.

    Although, if I came from a country that favoured kippers and fried bread for breakfast, I don’t know that I’d be going on too loudly about pancakes and syrup.

    • kathywllms1@gmail.com'
      November 24, 2012 at 19:41

      Gosh, do people still eat kippers for breakfast?

  2. Worm
    November 19, 2012 at 11:37

    I’m with you on the ‘end of days’ food scenario, I’ve commented about it few times on here over the last few years, it’s on the increase and now moving into the mainstream thanks to the endless repeats of ‘man vs. food’ on TV, that celebrate gluttony and let people feel its ok and actually cool to eat obscene amounts of meat in an ‘ironic’ way

    I may have imagined it, but i’m pretty sure I heard Obama say the word ‘developmentalize’ in regards to Gaza this morning.

  3. markcfdbailey@gmail.com'
    November 19, 2012 at 12:36

    As a pedant who doesn’t have to wait to be caught out might I offer the latest topical gripe? Paedophile.

    A paedophile is a lover of children. A pederast is a lover of doing unspeakable things to children. Nothing wrong with the former, plenty with the latter. I mean, should being a Francophile mean one is a lover of doing unspeakable things to……………….Hold on. I might just have lost my argument.

    The sooner Fatty Watson disappears off our screens and out of our lives, the sooner I will lose my ulcer. And did you notice that Monbiot’s ‘apology’ was actually just a long paen to his virtue

    • Brit
      November 19, 2012 at 13:20

      Monbiot’s apology is as good as you could get from Monbiot. That is, from a narcissist with no awareness of his place or of the true nature of Twitter as a medium.

      This line is the key: I felt a powerful compulsion to do what I have done throughout my career: to help the voiceless be heard..

      This reveals that he thinks that what he did – that is, say on Twitter that McAlpine is a paedophile after watching Newsnight -is a form of investigative journalism that has gone a bit awry. But Tweeting rumours is not in the same category as investigative journalism, it is in the same category as gossip, and Monbiot’s Tweets on the subject are no different to those of Sally Bercow or any other Tweeter.

      If anyone decides to fight McAlpine some interesting test cases might come out of this. People like Bercow won’t like their best defence – which is that their tweets are unimportant and read or believed by very few – because their entire sense of self-worth is based on the opposite.

      • peter.burnet@hotmail.com'
        November 19, 2012 at 13:43

        When I screw someone over, I apologize profusely and add that I really must learn not to be so trusting and compassionate.

    • Gaw
      November 19, 2012 at 16:37

      You spelt ‘paean’ wrong. I suspect this was a deliberate ruse to smoke out the pedants. If so, it worked.

      • Gaw
        November 19, 2012 at 17:28

        BTW connoisseurs of Monbiot’s humbuggery might want to google his falling out with Chomsky. Extra helpings of mental contortion and spiritual grief. He’s a wonderful caricature of a certain sort of Englishman – perhaps Noseybonk might put him under observation at some point?

      • markcfdbailey@gmail.com'
        November 20, 2012 at 10:19

        Give that man a prize. Although not mentioned, I am assuming that you spotted the missing commas and question marks, as well as the misplaced full stop?

        • Worm
          November 20, 2012 at 12:06

          oooh – so your post was actually a cunningly devised trap, Recusant? Quality blogmanship on display here!!!

    • Brit
      November 19, 2012 at 21:35

      I suspect it’s too late to reclaim ‘paedophile’, alas. It wouldn’t be advisable, for example, to go around loudly declaring that you were one, and then adding as a postscript, “as opposed to pederast, naturally.”

      • Worm
        November 20, 2012 at 11:57

        hahah brit, imagining someone doing that made me do a genuine LOL!

  4. jgslang@gmail.com'
    November 19, 2012 at 14:39

    As the partner of Pizza Express’ first ever waitress I (we) have no time for these bizarre confections (and PE ain’t what it used to be – no rats in the kitchen, probably, for one thing). Just Say No. And having done so, be thankful that no one has as yet brought to these shores the Australian Meat Pie Floater:


  5. ian.james.warren@gmail.com'
    November 19, 2012 at 14:47

    That reminds me…must de-escalate the kettle

  6. nigeandrew@gmail.com'
    November 19, 2012 at 15:20

    I’m pretty sure I remember ‘phased de-escalation’ as Pentagonspeak from the Vietnam War, along with suff like ‘terminate with extreme prejudice’. If you ask me, ‘escalate’ is an offence against English, let alone ‘de-escalate’…

  7. nigeandrew@gmail.com'
    November 19, 2012 at 15:21

    make that ‘stuff’ not ‘suff’…

  8. davidanddonnacohen@gmail.com'
    November 19, 2012 at 18:56

    I have never before encountered the hotdog stuffed crust. An Anglo-Canadian venture if ever I’ve encountered one.

  9. george.jansen55@gmail.com'
    November 19, 2012 at 22:10

    A hot dog in a crust is a fine old American dish, though this is the first I’ve heard of it being a pizza crust; we call the older version “pigs in a blanket”, See Wikipedia on this; I note that its entry says that the English use “pigs in a blanket” for sausage wrapped in bacon–here I think we Americans seem the more restrained.

  10. peter.burnet@hotmail.com'
    November 20, 2012 at 00:19

    Nuance, George, nuance. Our British friends could tell us all about it. Piggies-In-A-Blanket is a new-world gastronomical delight that takes pride of place beside barbeque and jumbalaya. Pizza with a hot dog in the crust is proof the Revolution was an offence against history.

  11. Gaw
    November 20, 2012 at 07:53

    Isn’t this dish actually the bastard child of the pizza and the corn-dog (an abominable ‘biscuit’-covered sausage on a lolly stick)?

  12. Gaw
    November 20, 2012 at 07:55

    Or perhaps it’s fusion food – a cross between pizza and the toad-in-the hole (a delicious and wholesome combination of oven-baked batter and sausage)?

    • danielkalder@yahoo.com'
      November 20, 2012 at 14:56

      Fusion, it’s definitely fusion.

      • Wormstir@gmail.com'
        November 20, 2012 at 22:04

        Like the Brundlefly

  13. info@ShopCurious.com'
    November 23, 2012 at 11:18

    I’m so glad you mentioned the plot thing about Skyfall, Brit – it’s my first time following a plot of a Bond Film too. I thoroughly enjoyed it and didn’t go to sleep as I usually do.

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