Eric Joyce trolls me by proxy

Out of courtesy, I sent a link to my blog post about Eric Joyce’s expense claims to Eric Joyce’s email.   I just received this charming response:

Hello M.K Hadjin, it’s Eric’s partner here. My name is India Knight. I read your Twitter account with increasing alarm. Obviously you’re both not well and horribly lonely. You’re also boring. I have more than once suggested that Eric take out a restraining order, but he seems to pity you.

I’d hate to write about you, but I’m longing to, quoting your 18 months’ worth of texts and your odd, stalkery painting of a man you’ve never met. Would that be ok? Is that what you need – attention? Do let me know. Or don’t. You are very much lolzy, whatever happens. But you knew that, right?
Get better!
India Knight
She was kind enough to send a postscript:
BTW, planning to post the cut & pasted below on my public timeline. See also my column in the Sunday Times. Such an interesting topic, insane women getting crushes online.
Sadly for India Knight, whoever she may be, I don’t read the Sunday Times.
What’s interesting about this letter is that my name is misspelled exactly in the same way Eric misspells it.
Such drama about a painting.  Honestly, he couldn’t just say thank you and put an end to the matter?  Maybe I’m just unimaginative, but I can’t find anything odd or stalkerish about sending a gift to someone who was interested in my art and wanted the gift.  I do have the emails from him to prove that he wanted it.  He told me what colors to use and what size to make it.    If he changed his mind, why didn’t he tell me?  He had plenty of opportunity.
It’s a pity he couldn’t simply give a polite response.  It’s all I wanted him to do.
I’ll leave it to my readers to decide whether that makes me “not well,” “horribly lonely”,  “boring” or  “insane”.  To me these accusations seem way over the top.  It sounds like what a very self-absorbed person does when criticized :  refuse to admit any wrong,  attack and devalue the person doing the criticizing.
Seems to me that it takes a lot more energy to conscript one’s girlfriend into writing vicious emails than it does to just say thank you.
Update: After I wrote this post, I got the following response:
Wow. Instant blogpost, like a letter through the door. Maybe back to the hospital? Meanwhile, we’re making a harassment complaint, plus you’ve slandered me, so there’s that. ENJOY YOUR REALLY GREAT, UNLONELY LIFE! XXXXXXXX from Not Eric : (
I’m unclear as to who thinks they’re being slandered here or why.   Also the talk of a harassment complaint is odd, since Eric never asked me not to contact him.
So I send a polite reply making these points, and get this response:

Please stop contacting me. It’s very aggressive. You’ve encouraged people on Twitter to contact me online.  I have no concerns at all about what you blog about.  If you contact me again, even by this means, my only recourse is to contact the police.  This is my final communication with you.

best wishes
eric joyce
 All my friends did was ask him why he didn’t say thank you after receiving a nice painting.   I’m just not seeing aggression there.    Aggression would be insults and threats, right?  Insults like “not well”, “horribly lonely”, “boring”, “insane”, “odd and stalkery” and threats like “I’ll write nasty things about you in my column” and “we’re making a harassment complaint, even though you’re not really harassing us.” But fair enough.  He made a formal request for me to stop emailing him and I’ll respect it.  I just don’t see why he had to troll me first.
But since he doesn’t care what I blog about, I can freely write about it.
Sadly, he never revealed what he had done to the painting.   I worked for five months on that painting, which is the longest time I’ve ever worked on a single painting.  I thought it would be representing me in Joyce’s office in the House of Commons so I agonized over it quite a lot.  It was a big investment of time, energy and love.    I wonder what he’s done with it.  I guess I’ll never know.
Update #2:
People are telling me Eric Joyce has deleted his twitter.
Update #3:
Apparently he’s back.  That was a short flounce.
Update #4:
Both Knight and the papers have apparently misunderstood which artwork I sent to Joyce.  It was not the portrait sketch I made of him.  That was just something I did for fun one evening.
The painting I sent was this abstract landscape, using the colors he specified (red, purple, and green):
Red, Purple, Green, mixed media, 70 x 100 cm, by M.K. Hajdin

Red, Purple, Green, mixed media, 70 x 100 cm, by M.K. Hajdin

The reason it took five months to finish is because it went through many stages.  Halfway through, Joyce said it wasn’t red enough, so I had to add a lot more red and adjust all of the other colors.  It’s got more red in it than I’d use, normally, but that’s what he wanted.

Epic Shortbread Fail

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’ve been struggling to express my half Scottishness through the making of shortbread.

It’s butter, sugar and flour: how can anyone screw that up?  And yet, I have managed to find way after way.

Yesterday I made one perfect batch.  So perfect that I got a little overconfident.  I thought that I had this shortbread thing figured out.  Now I know how to make shortbread, I can look back at my hilarious past mistakes and laugh.

So I set out to make another pan of shortbread today.

So maybe you were wondering what happens when you don’t measure the butter carefully enough and add too much of it to the shortbread dough.


This was supposed to be shortbread, after I scraped it out of the pan

This was supposed to be shortbread, after I scraped it out of the pan

Apparently too much butter keeps everything from sticking together.

I wonder if my Croatian side is having a bit of revenge, after my arrogant claims of Scottishness permeating my being? Croatian me is saying, “Screw this baking shit. Go have a burek.”

Update:  I have discovered that mixing Epic Shortbread Fail into cherry yogurt results in something that tastes a lot like cherry pie.   Yum.


Shortbread success at last

Today I made shortbread without burning it!  It was only a bit damaged when I loosened it from the pan with a knife.

Shortbread success at last!



It’s a good thing, too, because lately I have been wondering if being half-Scottish means I’m literally only half Scottish, like a hermaphrodite (in which case, which of my arms is Scottish?  Which of my legs?  etc.) or if Scottishness is sufficiently pungent to permeate my being even though it only came from one parent.

Since the final success of the shortbread, I’m leaning more towards the permeating-my-being theory.

The thistle design didn’t come out that crisply detailed, but I suspect this is because I put corn meal in to add texture and it made those coarse holes.  With rice flour I bet it would take the design better, but rice flour is hard to get here while corn meal couldn’t be easier.

Here’s my Shortbread recipe:

  • 150 grams butter, room temperature (I hacked off slightly more than half of a 250 gram brick)
  • 100 grams caster sugar (I used American measuring cups – 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 50 grams ( 1/4 cup) corn meal or rice flour
  • 250 grams (1 cup) flour

Cream the caster sugar and salt into the butter.  Slowly add the corn flour while mixing with a spoon and then the flour, slowly, mix and mix until it goes through the stage of looking like crumbly pie crust and starts to stick together.   The corn meal or rice flour and the salt are optional but make a big difference to texture and flavor.

You can chill it before you press it into the mold.  Some say this makes the design come out better.

If you haven’t used the pan before, OIL IT!  Or the shortbread will stick.

Glob it into the pan and hammer it down with your hands as firm as you can for the best design.  When it’s smooth and even, prick it all over with a fork then bake in a 150 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  I had to use the bottom rack to keep the top from overbrowning.

Remove the pan from the oven, let cool 3-5 minutes, then loosen the sides with a knife and turn out the pan over a cutting board.  If the shortbread doesn’t pop out, tap it firmly against the side of the board.  Cut into wedges with a big sharp knife while still warm.

Tastes even better the next day.

Makes 8 wedges.

Artwork of the Day: Lily McDougall

The Headscarf by Lily McDougall

The Headscarf by Lily McDougall.  Source

Lily Martha Maud McDOUGALL 1875 – 1958

Born in Glasgow in 1875, Lily Martha Maud McDougall studied in Edinburgh and Antwerp, and later lived in Paris from 1900-4. She exhibited with the Society of Scottish Artists, as one of the first women to be permitted entry, and at the Glasgow Institute. She was best known for her still-life and flower studies in oil and watercolour.
From ExploreArt at Gracefield Arts Centre.


I feature art made by women on the Twitter hashtag #womenartists.

Artwork of the Day: Joan Eardley

Catterline in Winter by Joan Eardley.

Catterline in Winter by Joan Eardley.

Joan Eardley (1921-1963)  was a lesbian Scottish artist.  More about her life in this newspaper story and this video below:

Quote of the Day: The Trashcan Sinatras on Scottish independence

Like you needed another reason to love the Trashcan Sinatras:

It has always been a source of frustration to me that the generally socially conscious, community based, fair minded voting patterns of Scotland have been relatively futile in impact. In fact, for the majority of my life, Scotland has been governed by non socially conscious governments. It felt awful and frustrating to live through, still does, and now there is a chance, one chance, to take what will always be, to some degree, a leap in the dark and take hold of complete autonomy for ourselves.

John Douglas from the Trashcan Sinatras

Please read the rest of John’s eloquent statement at the Eddi Reader, here.

And here’s one of my favorite songs by the Trashcan Sinatras.  Brilliant, brilliant band.

Sunday Scottish reading

Beautiful Scottish shortbread.  Source

Beautiful Scottish shortbread. Source

If you’ve followed me on Twitter you’ll know I support Scottish independence.  I for one have had it with Scots people being treated like second-class citizens, discriminated against for their origin and their accents.

I’m not interested in giving a platform to Unionists on my blog.  Why should I, when they have the whole UK mainstream media on their side, clamoring about how everyone’s Bitter Together?  There are people who actually believe the Scottish Clearances were a humanitarian effort, too, but that doesn’t make it true.

Britain is busy dismantling the NHS, slashing benefits,  and otherwise running the UK into the ground;  Scotland’s best chance is to jump that sinking ship and strike out on its own.

Go read this link.  It has stories about Scottish independence and is free to read.

Yes Scotland has a website here.

The recipe for this beautiful Scottish shortbread pictured above, plus the thistle-patterned pan used to make it, can be found here.  Enjoy.

Artwork of the Day: Keith Salmon

Keith Salmon

Snow Shower on the Slopes of Ben Loyal, Sutherland, by Keith Salmon.   Source

I’ve been experimenting with acrylic and pastel myself lately, so I was pleased to find this lovely atmospheric work on my twitter timeline yesterday.  I love the sense of movement and the flickering effect of the snow.

It is by Keith Salmon, a British artist who is legally blind.

In the shimmering red-gold twilight, a Scottish castle

You all should go visit Scotland in the Gloaming right now like I’ve been telling you all week, because they just posted some amazing new pictures like this one.

Dumbarton castle in the gloaming

Dumbarton Castle Gloaming by baaker2009

Also there’s a group on Flickr.

Fun fact about Dumbarton Castle:  it has the longest recorded history of any stronghold in Great Britain, dating back to the Iron Age.

Here’s a historical view of the place from an antique engraving:

You can find it here, between Edinburgh and Glasgow:

Yes I still have “Drunken Sailor” lodged in my brain, thanks for asking.  I really don’t know what to do at this point.  I hope it goes away before Sunday, because I missed Sundays with Clyfford Still last week because of it and I don’t want to miss it again.

Blue sky and blue water at Barra, the Western Isles of Scotland

Yes, I still have that !@$^!$!! Drunken Sailor song stuck in my head and can’t write anything, so here are some lovely photos from a place my ancestors called home:  the Isle of Barra, one of the Western Isles of gloriously beautiful Scotland.

Traigh Eais, Isle of Barra

Traigh Eais, Isle of Barra, by Macgruff

Wish I were here!