Saturday, 13 November 2010

Saturday 13 November 2010

Having weighed myself last week and discovered, to my horror, that I am carrying the equivalent of a litter of shetland ponies around with me, I have embarked on a diet.
I'm trying to come to terms with soup, something with which I do not become regularly involved. Oxtail is very nice however, and I've come to like Red Pepper with Goat's Cheese, although the Chunky Vegetable is far too much like watery minestrone for my liking. I've never liked minestrone much at the best of times, its only saving grace being that at least it had the decency to appear with some pasta in it. Now, it appears in disguise, with no pasta, trying to pass itself off as a vegetable medley. Get thee gone, Chunky Vegetable! I have seen through you to the bottom of the bowl, quite literally.

Friday 12 November 2010

Van Gogh painted a twisted church, so I thought I might like to photograph one. Why, you may ask, would a committed atheist want to go about photographing churches? Well, despite the curious and deluded ideas behind their construction they are in the main quite beautiful creations. I'm often struck by the paradox that many artists (and indeed composers) have produced religious work of outstanding quality. Than again, many creative people, including myself, are a bit bonkers. There was a lot of money in it too, back in the day. Many a painter made his reputation and a few bob by knocking up the odd crucifixion scene, or an instructional mural. They were like graphic novels for those in the congregation (nearly all of them) who could not read.

Thursday 11 November 2010

Through my window I can see the weather vane of the local church which, being the godless soul that I am, I have never attended. Nevertheless, the spire and the golden cockerel which spins in the wind are a comforting sight. Sometimes, when the weather is more inclement, the outline of the construction can adopt a more sinister appearance.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Taking photographs of TV offers great opportunities for experimentation. I must confess that some post production was employed in Photoshop to doodle in certain areas. However, I think I like the air of mystery which is created by this.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

I had a dream in which Damien Hirst and I were taking long exposure photographs of Janice Battersby from Coronation Street. Sadly, I don't know Damien Hirst, and I'm sure this is a project that neither he nor Janice Batterbsy will ever be interested in, and even if they were, they'd probably go ahead and do it without me.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Monday 8 November 2010

Today's photo is an infrared view of Brompton Cemetery. Unusually for me I have chosen to keep it in colour as the otherworldliness of it is highlighted much better.
The diet, despite my trepidations, isn't too bad. I've signed up on t'internet to a company that sends me all my food for a month, divided into breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners. The first day has gone ok. My butterbean and carrot soup was surprisingly edible, and the Paella - which featured tuna strangely - was quite filling once I'd added a couple of roasted peppers. (I'm allowed additional vegetable accompaniments within reason).

Sunday 7 November 2010

It's often worthwhile photographing the doodles one composes during a meeting while one's colleagues are discussing the merits of 'going forward' and 'making a difference.' Such work can often offer an insight into one's state of mind and possibly highlight deep-rooted anxieties.
I'd be grateful for suggestions.
As I embark on a diet tomorrow in an attempt to combat the state of my fat liver, I thought it best to weigh myself in order that a chart of progress could be set up.
Oh, the horror! I'm on the obesity cusp, which, now I think about it, is a good name for a fat rock band, Obesity Cusp, or else for a portly Victorian jewel thieif and international spy.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Saturday 6 November 2010

There are five thousand stories in The Bush of Shepherds, and this is one of them. (The picture is another story altogether.) Last week, I found a black Nokia phone on the tube, and since then have been attempting to reunite phone with owner. Unfortunately, the owner of the phone doesn't speak very good English, and so I have been negotiating the terms of return with various of his friends.
Someone rang me last Saturday and I told him I would be free all day Sunday to meet up and hand the phone over. No one rang. Then I had a call Friday morning, and gave someone else my address so that they come and pick it up. It took about twenty minutes to spell out the name of the street, and consequently I suspect no one wrote anything down as no one turned up.
Today, however, I was coming out of the second hand CD shop in Shepherds Bush when my phone rang again.
'It's about this phone, Mr Rob,' the man said. 'We are not sure how far away you are.'
'Where are you now?' I asked.
'Shepherds Bush,' he said.
'So am I,' I said. 'I'll meet you outside Morrisons in five minutes. I'm wearing headphones and a green parkah.'
I'm not sure why I handed out the physical description. There was no one else but me waiting outside Morrisons. In retrospect I regret giving him the short notice as a few minutes later a rather breathless pair of Turkish men staggered round the corner and waved at me.
They were effusively thankful, which was nice. I was a little disappointed that no one suggested sexual favours by way of a reward, but c'est la vie.
The next time I find a phone on the train however, I'm handing it in to someone official and letting them deal with it.

Friday 5 November

This is my street. Even without the long infrared exposure it's a bit of a surreal area in itself, tucked away between Housing Estates and within two minutes walk of an Underground Station that no one has ever heard of.
Christie, West London's best known serial killer, lived just around the corner and frequented what was my local pub. I was barred once, for two days, for impuning the honour of the landlord's wife. Sadly, it was turned into a hideous theme bar in the Eighties, with decor so garish that no one dared enter. It was closed within weeks and then demolished. I think there might be a community centre there now. I've never thought of change as being a particularly good thing. In this case I am right.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Thursday 4 November 2010

I think it might be interesting to post a photograph a day for the next month or so. I'm a surrealist at heart and firmly believe that surreal situations occur everywhere, but that only certain people can see them and make them visible to others.
Whilst on the South Bank this summer I turned a corner and was confronted by this gentleman, in the act of assembling some form of costume. The lady emerged from around the corner just as I raised the camera, and adds somehow to the strangeness of the scene.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Wednesday 3 November 2010

My experimental photography has taken a strange turn, as you can see. There's very little photoshop involvement, apart from a black and white conversion and some dodging and burning. It's all old-fashioned smoke and mirrors. Hopefully, I can post some more when I've developed the technique a bit further.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Sunday 24 October 2010

It’s that bipolar time again. Recently, to escape the rain, I ducked into ‘The Green Man’ on Edgware Road and ordered myself a large whisky. Within thirty seconds I was accosted by one of those men who just like to wail about the state of the world. I don’t mind that particularly. It means I don’t have to say much.
‘I had an ‘eart attack you know. They won’t give me no disability. Thing is, I’m a butcher, and if I stand up for more than two hours my ankles expand four inches.
‘Thing is, if I went in and said I was bipolar I’d get ninety-five quid a week extra. I reckon there’s no such thing. In my day, people called it ‘being a bit fed up’”.
So, I’m a bit fed up.
I tend to do crazy creative things when I’m a bit fed up so I started a painting of David Bowie’s ‘Aladdin Sane’ cover. I’ve also been watching ‘Spartacus’ on and off. One could base a drinking game around Spartacus, where one would have to take a sip of drink every time a penis was referred to, or down a shot every time John Hannah mentions bums, poo or wee-wee. I don’t think even Paul Gascoigne would get to the end of one episode before passing out.

Thursday 21 October 2010

It was the Ugly One’s birthday this week and his chosen restaurant for the celebration was Aroma in Shepherds Bush, the ‘Eat As Much as You Like’ Chinese Restaurant. The lady who showed us to our table had a somewhat grim demeanour and a semi-permanent scowl. I suspect she thought that, as fat people, we would no doubt eat far more than the twelve pounds charge would cover. I did my best to match her expectations.
We got home just in time to catch ‘The Apprentice’, one of my regular addictions each year, in which this week the teams had to produce bread and other baked products for sale to clients such as hotels and on a market stall.
One imagines that Melissa is what a Su Pollard Mogwai would turn into if one fed her after midnight. If I had to live with her, I fear I would be forced to murder her in a manner involving blunt instruments or strangulation. Melissa somehow managed to win the task, but only because the other team was so woefully inept and she had a military mind running her kitchen.
The surgeon, whose name escapes me, Dippy, Zippy, something like that, was fired.
Back to Holby City for you, sunshine.

Sunday 17 October 2010

I am glad to report that Wagner has been saved for another week. Hoorah! I made celebratory chicken curry in his honour. I want Wagner (although it has been established that this is pronounced Vagner, Louis Walsh has a blind spot and insists on calling him Wagner, as in Robert Wagner) to go through to the final, knocking Simon Cowell’s remaining dreary groups back into obscurity.
Seeing Kröd Mändoon must be a portent of hope for the world.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Saturday 16 October 2010

I’m enjoying the X-Factor this year, especially as Simon Cowell has been put in charge of the groups, and doesn’t seem that keen to deal with them.
The acts were supposed to sing songs by their heroes but I suspect many of them were told who their heroes were. Cowell’s bunch of young chartreuses, Belle Amie, chose to sing ‘You Really Got Me’ by The Kinks, which isn’t suspicious at all since, as we all know, most teenage girls worship Ray Davies and no doubt have all the Kinks albums.
I am backing the wonderful Wagner, and entreat you all to vote for him to get through to the final.

Friday 15 October 2010

Santander are vexing me now. Their suspicious activity software is way too sensitive and seems to trigger warnings whenever I buy stuff from t’internet. I had to ring them up and went through a robot system which read out my recent purchases, and I had to press 1 to confirm that it was me that actually purchased them. I want to deal with real people. Had someone with common sense examined the purchases they would see that it was minor purchases and exactly the same sort of thing as I’ve bought in the past. If someone was regularly buying Vin Diesel’s underwear on e-bay, you’d think Santander would make a note of it and register it as normal behaviour.
I haven’t had a celebrity omen for some time. I did see Ginny Weasley from Harry Potter on the Central Line some weeks ago but I’m not sure if she counts. She’d be a negligible omen at best.
Today, however, I was coming out of Edgware Road station and saw Kröd Mändoon going in. Strangely, some time back I saw Rula Lenska exiting this very station, rising up the stairs with her scarlet barnet shining like a hairy dawn.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Thursday 14 October 2010

Back in the Seventies TV Comedy was a mixture of standard sitcoms – spread over a wide spectrum of quality and funniness – and genuinely cutting edge ‘experimental’ work. Even there, the quality was variable. Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which, although it emerged from other mould-breaking programmes, was the flagship of the new way of doing things. Although much of the Python canon has stood the test of time, there is much of it that seems ill-judged and a little tedious today. Other programmes still shine as masterclasses in half-hour comedy. ‘The Good Life’ is still shown regularly and seems as fresh today as in yesteryear, as does ‘Steptoe and Son’, ‘Dad’s Army’ and of course, ‘The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin,’ a truly groundbreaking and somewhat philosophical series about an intelligent man’s fight against the banality of existence. Many would argue that the series owed its success to Leonard Rossiter, cast as the legendary Reggie, and this view has its merits as this was undoubtedly Rossiter’s finest hour. The show was simply different, though, in terms of writing, acting, directing, the surreal shots of Reggie’s inner thoughts as when a hippo appears every time his mother-in-law is mentioned. There was also the clever use of the catch-phrase which in this series was not only used in its traditional way, but as a metaphor for the tedious repetition of daily life. Every day, Reggie set off for work through the Poet’s Estate to arrive at Sunshine Desserts, where the forces of entropy were represented by the letters falling from the name of the company above the door, day by day.
It was a truly classic and brilliant series, and therefore one can surely understand my concern when the BBC planned to remake it.
If there are Comedy Gods, (if there are any Gods at all, I would imagine the best ones to have would be comedy ones) I hope that they have their thunderbolts and lethal sarcastic barbs aimed squarely at Clunes and the BBC. Despite the lukewarm to hostile response to the first series, the BBC have made a second series. Ironically, this Reggie – complete with overloud and hysterical laughter track - is more closely related to the worst of Nineteen Seventies comedy than to its original incarnation. It’s a crude clunking abomination of a show, and I am at a loss to understand why the BBC didn’t just make a completely new series since this seems to be only popular with those who don’t know the original, or don’t know any better.
It’s a shame. I used to like Martin Clunes. Oddly enough, my mother hates him, but then she always did have a bit of psychic foresight. She must have seen all this coming.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Wednesday 13 October 2010

My baby Olympus E420 has acquired a new lease of life. Having got my new Nikon I was preparing to sell the Olympus, but fate stepped in. We’ve been cleaning out the attic and discovered – among other things – a box of old Olympus lenses, filters and attachments. I sent off for an OM adapter, and now I have a whole new kit.
The most confusing thing about this is that most magazines and books have been telling me that I have to have a digital camera adapted to take infrared photographs. I have a dedicated infrared filter from when I used to use ‘proper film’ and thought I would try it out. Surprisingly, via various lengths of exposure, both cameras produced infrared images with dark skies, white clouds and ghostly blue and violet trees.
The Apprentice is back on TV. Hoorah! And the Chilean miners are being piped to the surface in a claustrophobic tube. Hoorah!
Apropos of nothing, for reasons known only to themselves, Prince Charles, Camilla Merton-Parker and Pope Herr Lipp all visited the Underground Bunker this year. C&M didn’t linger too long. They thanked us for our sterling service, asked us what exactly it was that we did and then complimented us on the pristine state of the lift. They went on to Brixton market after that and Camilla was given free mangos. You’d think she could afford fruit, wouldn’t you?
The Pope had a nice cup of tea, blessed our kettle and then went on to Lambeth Palace. I think he’d rather have stayed with us. They don’t have Hobnobs at Lambeth Palace, or the Vatican either, it appears. Just Garibaldis. Despite the fact that he thinks I’m the greatest evil facing civilisation today, I feel rather sorry for him.
Peter Tatchell was planning to pop round and arrest him, but there was a signal failure at Seven Sisters and he was stuck at Stockwell for forty minutes so nothing came of it.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Tuesday 12 October 2010

What with the recession and the plight of the Chilean miners, not to mention Alex Read and his fight with Mr Kong Watson, I have been just too worried to type. The Secret Underground bunker in which I work is feeling the pinch and the Powers That Be are drawing up lists and checking them twice, trying to work out who’s naughty or nice.
To take my mind off things on Sunday I made some spelt flour cinnamon and honey cookies which looked amazing, but tasted like Chilean miners’ armpits. I gave them to the Ugly One to feed to the ducks in St James Park.
Recently we purchased a Barefoot Contessa style Kitchenaid; a great red beast of a machine which not only produces perfect cake mixes, but minces meat and kneads bread dough to a point where my bread rises to the perfect shape of a chubby dwarf’s belly. Previously, my bread has sunk and resembles the flat and lifeless abdomens of evil thin people.
On 26 August, my ancient bread tin having given up the ghost I ordered a 2lb adonised industrial bread tin from De Cuisine, an online company who seemed to have cornered the market in bread accessories.
Having heard nothing after two weeks I rang their helpline and spoke to a very friendly brummie.
‘My order number is 78666,’ I said.
‘Oooooh, the number of the beast,’ he said. ‘That don’t bode well. Hang on. Ohhhh… adonised bread tin. Now, I can tell you what’s happened there without even looking it up. My son and daughter-in-law, right, they’ve gone and gone on holiday for two weeks and left me with all this. Can you imagine?... What I did, I’ll tell ya, what I did was, I ordered the steel bread tins not the adonised ones. Now, the adonised ones are on order, and I should be able to have one out to you Wednesday. I know you’re keen to get on with your baking, so we’ll do our best. That’s part of the problem, you know. Baking has become really popular. It’s the new knitting.’
This all sounded promising, and I hadn’t had to say a word as the garrulous brummie had dealt with the conversation all by himself, so I got on with my life. I baked a series of 1lb loaves in some old bread tins that seem to have been passed down to me from First World War bakers who took them to the trenches by the look of it, but two weeks later I got a bit vexed and did a search on t’internet for feedback about this company.
It didn’t bode well, as the nice brummie had already pointed out. Some people waited months for things to arrive. I didn’t want to wait months. I tried to ring them again, but the number was permanently engaged. Luckily, the website which held most of the complaints about this company handily provided an additional number.
I got through straightaway. It was the friendly brummie again.
‘Oh yes… I remember. Number of the beast, yes. Right, well, the adonised tins are on their way to me. They should be out to you Wednesday,’
‘But that’s what you said last time.’
‘I know, and I apologise, but I’m hoping that we’ll be able to ring you with good news on Wednesday.’
‘You will ring?’
‘Yes… or I can e-mail.’
‘Please do both.’
Wednesday dawned. By lunchtime having received neither call nor e-mail from De Cuisine I rang their secret number again. A nice brummie lady answered me this time, and things became somewhat surreal.
‘Oh, yes, six six six, sir. The gentleman’s with another customer at the moment but if you hang on he’ll be with you in a tick.’
The nice lady put the receiver down and muted conversation ensued, which suddenly became louder and clearer.
‘Yes, but there’s sawdust everywhere.’ she said
‘Is it sawdust?’ said the brummie man.
‘Yes, look at it. It’s all over everything and it’s into the computers. Look, it’s thick.’
‘Oh yes. Sawdust.’
Long pause. ‘Well…. That will have to be dealt with.’
There was a rattle and the brummie man was through to me.
‘Hello sir, it’s the number of the beast again, isn’t it?’
‘You were supposed to ring me today.’
‘Yes. I was going to ring you later this afternoon. If I can just explain what’s happened, someone from our delivery company has died.’
‘Yes, died. And everyone’s at the funeral today, but the anodised tins will be here tomorrow and I’m certain that you’ll be receiving a dispatch e-mail tomorrow.’
‘Ohh Kay.’
To be honest I was a bit stunned by the audacity of the explanation. As an excuse it’s a corker, being both disarming and unexpected. In retrospect I should have frothed and raged and demanded my bread tin be couriered in by helicopter, but the dead body tactic did for me.
However, the next day, the brummie did me proud and a mail did indeed arrive confirming dispatch and the lovely bread tin arrived the next day and is now doing sterling work providing me with decent sized loaves.
So, De Cuisine are not, as many people seem to think, a scam. They provide very good equipment, but are somewhat laid back about sending it out. I can recommend their adonised bread tins, but be prepared to wait.

Monday 13 September 2010

It has been many months, O My Brothers, since I have recorded my general views on life. In the interim I have been diagnosed as giving a fat liver. This is hardly surprising, as I suspect that amongst my circle, I would be the one who ate all the pies. (The Ugly One would be he who ate all the cakes.)
I have been sent for blood tests and must return this Wednesday to see a liver specialist who ironically is fatter than I am.
Following this page’s campaign to discover the true age of Pineapple Studios’ Andrew Stone, Andrew appeared in the reality show ‘Dating In The Dark’ which billed him in a subtitle as Andrew Stone, 37, which is at least a step in the right direction since throughout Pineapple Studios the rather well-preserved Stone insisted he was 28. I’m still of the opinion that he’s 39, but I suspect that we’ll never get that confirmed.
The most disturbing aspect of all this business is that he got his father to lie and insist to the press that he was born in 1981.
He was in Big Brother as well, teaching the housemates to sing and dance for a video task. They seemed as eager to get rid of him as the record producers in Pineapple were.
This was the final series of Big Brother, at least on Channel Four, and it was a little anticlimactic. The much awaited ‘Ultimate Big Brother’ in which former winners and ‘notable’ housemates competed for the title of Ultimate Housemate was again, a bit of a damp squib, made damper by the presence of Coolio, whose alleged bullying of transsexual Nadia earned him three warnings and resulted in him leaving early, although it seems that these warnings and the majority of his abuse was not transmitted. The surprise contestant was ‘Slick Vic’ Victor Ebuwa, who I hated during his term as an original contestant, but now seems to have matured and grown up. I kind of like him now.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Monday 10 May 2010

again I’m obsessed
this time it’s with a Nikon
D three hundred S

People may well wonder what I have been doing for the past month, as well they might. I am a little curious myself as the weeks seem to have whisked by.
Actually our government underground secret bunker was on overdrive due to the forthcoming elections. I don’t know why we bothered. They still haven’t sorted it out.
Half of Sheffield didn’t get to vote, and some of Hackney, and various other parts of the country, although really, if you do want to vote, I wouldn’t leave it until 9.30pm.
There was no queue at our Polling Station. I voted for my MP and then my Councillors. There were no crazy parties this time standing for local election. Usually you have a plethora of minority groups with long names and strange convictions. The longer the name, in my experience, the stranger the convictions.

Monday 12 April 2010

blisters on the lips,
it could be from pineapple.
not the studio.

The Ugly One is on a diet currently, which is why he had none of my Cornish Pastie. Consequently, I am free to choose all my own dinners. This may not be such a good thing, as I suspect I will end up eating pies every day.
Meanwhile, naughty Louis Spence from Pineapple Dance Studios (If you haven’t been watching this series then you have missed a treat) appears to have revealed the truth about Andrew Stone’s real age on his twitter page in a conversation with none other than Denise Van Outen. Denise asked if Andrew was really 28 and Louis replied as follows:-

@dvobumpalicious not 28 darling I beat him in junior star time I was 16 & he was 14 you do the maths darrrrrrling,did I just say that? oops
10:14 AM Mar 14th
I think we can all do the math. How old is Andrew Stone? It would appear that the secret is now out and that Andrew Stone is actually at least 38, probably 39 by now.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Sunday 11 April 2010

Latitude (n) An expression of Latvian pomposity.

I forgot to mention yesterday – as I got carried away with the relationship between the rock world and the classical world – that I spent a small fortune on music. I found a double CD of vintage sex songs, i.e. jazz and blues numbers from the twenties with somewhat racey lyrics. My favourite so far is ‘I Need More Grease in my Fryin’ Pan’ and the sublime ‘Banana in My Fruitbasket.’
The age of Andrew Stone, lead singer of Starman (featured in the marvellous Pineapple Studios on Sky One) is still a mystery to many people and the subject of many google searches. One forum had a posting from a lady who remembered him from school and thinks he is at least thirty-four. I think he’s forty. I’m looking at the neck, and I’m thinking ‘That neck is forty!’
He claims he’s heterosexual as well, but my Gaydar is beeping like a Chernobyl Gayger Counter.
Recently, Andrew went on ‘a lads’ night out’ with his baby manager, Rob. I think he must be lying about his age as well. He claims He’s twenty-one but I suspect he’s twelve. They filmed Andrew trying to chat up some young women in a spookily empty pub which was intended to bolster his butch image, no doubt, although ultimately he came across as a creepy lesbian stalker. Poor Rob stood about looking slightly embarrassed, rather like a teenager who finds himself in the same bar as his drunken mother.
My culinary exploration today was The Hairy Bikers’ Cornish pasties, for which I had a recipe downloaded from the BBC website.
The recipe, so I surmised, gave the amounts to make one pastie, which was a little alarming as it suggested I use a dinner plate as the template for my pastry circle.
However, it did turn out to be a very lovely, if massive, pastie. I ate half of it with chips and saved the rest for another day.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Saturday 10 April 2010

Yak (n) A probiotic drink with half the fat bacteria of other probiotics

‘When life looks black and cares attack, how sweet it is to pot a yak.’ – PG Wodehouse.

It is my wont, when spirits are low, to hie myself to the big HMV in Oxford Street and browse copiously amongst the music. Surprising things can come to light. I had not realised for instance that Rick Wakeman had made so many solo albums (including one inspired by the Lord of The Rings’ and a soundtrack to the silent version of Phantom of The Opera.)
I also had to text the Ugly One when I saw that Roger Waters had penned an opera which starred no less a figure (and not many can boast that they have so large a figure) than Bryn Terfel, the opera world’s Welsh Meat Loaf.
The lines between rock and classical music are blurring suddenly. Wakeman (himself classically trained) is interviewed in Gramophone magazine this week, expounding on his theory that Prokofiev was the creator of the concept album (and who are we to argue?), while the reviews include the latest release from classical composer John Lord, who used to play the keyboards for Deep Purple.
Rock star’s children, meanwhile are moving into the film industry and tonight we saw ‘Moon’, the highly impressive film from Duncan Jones, once known as Zowie Bowie back in the days when his dad David thought that such a name might be a good idea.

Friday 9 April 2010

Guttersnipe (n) A snipe that lives in a gutter

I met with the Ugly One and we went to see ‘Clash of The Titans’ in 3D. Remakes are always dodgy territory, especially if one has a particular fondness for the original. For its time the 1981 COTT was an epic mythic spectacle with an all-star cast and a script which gave weight to both the Gods and the mortals.
The CGI and the 3-D gives this version a realistic feel that could only be done with Harryhausen's stop-motion back in the day, but something was lacking. Certainly, the original idea of the Gods playing a form of real-life chess by moving pieces about on a board was a far better concept than this one, where the other gods hardly get a look in, and no name checks, so we're not actually sure what gods they were supposed to be.
Liam Neeson as Zeus seemed to think he would play the part as a bored old glam rock star in glittery armour, while Ralph Fiennes (as Hades) turned his camp meter right up to eleven. All that was missing was a moustache he could twiddle while purring 'Oooooh, I'm ever so evil, I am!'
However, I enjoyed the rest of it, and laughed (no doubt with the other old COTT fans) when Perseus picked up the clockwork owl from the original movie and was told by Liam Cunningham in no uncertain terms to leave it behind.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Phlegm (n) The thirteenth moon of Saturn, named after the son of Zeus by Anathema, whom he seduced in the form of a pig.

I had to go for an ultrasound this evening, which was mainly to check whether the antibiotics I have been taking have caused any damage since a blood test seems to show that enzyme levels are a little high in my liver. As it turns out, it appears that the problem is that I am just too fat.
This is upsetting news, as I had considered myself merely curvaceous. I think I would have preferred some obscure but curable condition.
To cheer myself up I bought a couple of Cornish pasties and a bottle of wine. I also bought the Ugly One a copy of the Dean Martin ‘That’s Amore’ album, for which he expressed a disturbing desire when he saw it on TV.
When I got home I found a personalised leaflet from my Labour candidate, a Mr Gurney, who is photographed grinning with his Labour activist colleagues, one of whom looked spookily familiar.
It turns out to be Beinazair from Big Brother 10. I’m not sure she’s a very good endorsement for Labour. She didn’t even get into the Big Brother House and got sent home on a bus.
As most readers know I work in a secret government bunker underneath the Brixton Academy. Things are moving into overdrive now that an election is looming.

Wednesday 31 March 2010

Nailfile (n) A lover of nails

One of my favourite comedies was the short-lived ‘Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace’ which took the form of a mythical horror writer (Garth Marenghi) looking retrospectively at his seminal 1980s series ‘Darkplace’.
I watched the last three episodes this evening and bemoaned the fact that comedy of this calibre is left unrecognised while the BBC regularly churns out dross in mass quantities. I sat through a whole episode of ‘The Big Top’ some time ago and I’m still traumatised.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Hench (n) The reinforced strap which connects two cups of a standard brassier. See also LUMBERGUSSET.

Over the previous week, whilst dogsitting Henry Tiberius Bond, the bipolar terrier, I busied myself with a whole mess of cooking, which included an authentic lamb madras (Henry finished off the leftovers), Northern Thai Ginger Curry, some Chicken patties, pizza and Italian pasta broth. Over the weekend I assembled the filling for Chicken Pot Pies and tonight I finally found time to make the pastry and stick the bloody things in the oven.
They were lovely, although next time I think I might have to add a touch of spice, or at least, some more black pepper.

Monday 29 March 2010

Nauseous (n) Trade name of a Steps tribute band of the mid 2000s.

My mail order Indian Spices arrived, I did not get my Rasham Patti chillies as they are out of stock, but I did get my Kashmiri chillies, a replacement bag of Rasham Patti chilli powder and some complimentary Bombay Mix in a bag, which was nice.
I also replaced my cardamoms, which have been been bleached white by the passage of years. It really isn’t a good idea to have spices that are older than some of your friends.
Talking of the passage of years, I am becomingly increasingly enamoured of Louie Spence, the camp superstar of Sky 1’s Pineapple Studios, and increasingly nauseated by Andrew ‘I AM Showbusiness’ Stone.
Last week, Andrew’s very nervous manager managed to arrange a showcase performance by Andrew’s band ‘Starman’ in front of the movers and the shakers of the British Music Industry, (Well, the crawlers and the nudgers anyway).
Most of them left the performance with comments along the lines of ‘far too camp for me,’ but Andrew held a somewhat different view and felt everything had gone fabulously.
For some time now, the Ugly One and I have been debating the age of Andrew Stone who seems somewhat well-preserved although ostensibly 28. In a recent interview, however, things become a little clearer:-

“ ‘I was born to be on the stage,’ said Andrew, 28.
‘The minimum I want is a No1 hit and I know I'm going to make it big. ‘I've been in this game for so many years and I know my time has come.
‘As an artist, I could learn a song in an evening and a dance overnight, so I feel very sincerely that I'm ready to crack the world.’
The show spotlights relationships between Andrew, the outrageously camp Louie and their boss, Debbie Moore.
And, amazingly, the fame Andrew so desperately seeks appears to be coming to fruition.
Since the show started, he has been able to jump queues at B&Q and gets free burgers at McDonald's.
‘Showbusiness is my life,’ he said. ‘I love it when people recognise me and it gives me a massive boost.
‘Louie loves it too, although he might not admit it.
‘We've known each other since we were 10 years old when we used to compete against each other in dance competitions in Norwich. It's weird how things have come full circle.’ ”

OK.. It has been already established that Louie is forty years old, so unless the 22 year old Louie was in competition with ten year olds in Norwich at some point, something is gravely amiss.

Saturday 27 March

Voluble (adj) Capable of adjusting the sound on an electronic device.

For the last week we have been looking after Henry, our friend Robert’s loveable but bipolar dog. Henry’s moods alter between comatose and manic, the manic exhibiting itself in Henry throwing his toys around the room as if they are stunned prey awaiting dispatch.
This evening, Henry had to be banished to his owner’s flat for a few hours as we went to see Peter Gabriel at the O2 performing his new ‘Scratch my Back’ album.
Despite looking now like a cross between Anthony Hopkins and Phil Mitchell, and sporting a designer Jedi master hoodie, Gabriel has lost none of his power to dazzle and amaze. I have seen him perform live three times now and he always leaves me stunned.
What also left me stunned was the O2 vending machine which required £3.90 for a bag of Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles.
I had a vision of Daleks rampaging through the dome, blasting any and all vending machines with their lethal rays and screeching ‘Extortionate! Extortionate!’

Thursday 18 March 2010

Perturb (v) To attempt to dislodge the headgear of a Sikh by means of a long stick.

I had a complaint filter into the Underground Bunker today via our Call Centre minions which read, ‘This lady has bruised her ankle and is pregnant because of some defective paving.’ This subsequently became known as The Tarmaculate Conception.
On TV this morning were Cornish shanty singers ‘The Fisherman’s Friends’. Yes, they wear a lot of Arran jumpers, but I was a little disappointed to discover that only three of them are fishermen, and the rest comprise of potters, artists and god knows what else. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find Rick Stein lurking in the back row playing a hurdy gurdy.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Cellophane (n) A protective plastic covering specifically designed for cellos.

On the Piccadilly Line this morning I ended up standing next to Charlie from Big Brother (that’s the cute gay Charlie, not the ugly feral Charley from Croydon). He was looking very well-scrubbed and wearing a nice suit. He caught me staring at him and shifted away.
Regular readers will know that I am a great believer in Celebrity Omens, and I haven’t had one yet this year. I am wondering however, whether he is enough of a celebrity to merit an omen. I imagine it would be a minor omen, portending something unsurprising along the lines of Ricky Martin coming out of the closet. Who can tell?
Another man on the Tube was wearing a badge which said ‘Daddy Has Meow Meow’ which was a bit tasteless given that this is another name for the drug Methedrone, which has sent several people to the great beyond of late.
Some CDs and books arrived today as well as my new 1 terabyte hard drive. Hoorah!

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Violate (v) To carve or mould into the shape of a stringed musical instrument.

I’m liking ‘Them Crooked Vultures’, as well as Gabriel’s new album which is superb.
I’m also liking ‘Caprica’, the prequel to ‘Battlestar Galactica’ which examines the origins of the Cylons on a planet whose design can be described as hi-tech 1930s Chicago.
I’m also liking Mumford & Sons and The Handsome Family, so I’m liking quite a lot today.

Monday 15 March 2010

Inseminate (adj) Completely devoid of Jewish people

Continuing with my obsessional Indian food mania, I got home this evening, dismantled an old coffee grinder, cleaned it, put it together again and ground up some spices to make garam masala. I have also found an online Indian supermarket that can provide me with the things they don’t sell down Shepherds Bush Market
The Ugly One was somewhat perplexed by all this, since we were watching Coronation Street at the time. Gail Tilsley has been arrested for the murder of her gormless husband and Rita’s come back from holiday with, I am sure, some sort of facelift, although it’s not on the Ivy Tilsley level of inappropriateness.

Sunday 14 March 2010

Coxswain (n) The Pagan Festival of post-coital disappointment.

Sunday Morning on Radio Three boasted ‘Iain Burnside celebrates wood, exploring its tonal properties and its wider cultural resonances.’ To my disappointment, some of its more racy cultural resonances weren’t explored at all. I think I may write a stiff letter of complaint.

Saturday 13 March 2010

Courgette (n) An iconic Nineteen Sixties American car which only came in red and ecru. It was the subject of various songs by artists such as Prince, Leonard Cohen and Val Doonican.

Of late, my bipolar obsessions have tended toward the kitchen. I’m working my way steadily through ’50 Great Curries of India’ by Camellia Panjabi.
‘This book will delight, educate and inspire anyone who longs to make authentic curries at home,’ says Nigel Slater on the front cover. He just can’t help sticking his nose in, can he? As people may know, I have an allergy to Nigel Slater.
It may be because he reminds me so much of Alan Bennett that I keep expecting him to say something profound about Thora Hird or the range of rotisserie chickens in Morrisons, but he doesn’t. Nigel doesn’t have a sense of humour, sadly. He just gets inordinately excited about the prospect of eating a courgette while it’s more or less still attached to its parent plant.
Today I made bread; a split tin loaf. It failed to rise to its expected height but is nevertheless very light and tasty. In shape rather than having the aspect of a country cottage with a curved thatch roof, it more resembles one of those flat-topped red brick pubs they build on the corner of council estates.
Then I made a Parsee Red Chicken Curry which wasn’t as red as I’d hoped it would be. I need authentic Kashmiri chillies for that, not the ‘so-called’ Kashmiri chillies I bought from Waitrose. Camellia Panjabi clearly illustrates the difference on page 58.
So, apart from the colour, which ended up being a kind of dark mustard bordering on russet, it was lovely.
This evening we saw ‘Telstar’ which starred Con O’Neill, whom I remembered fondly from a series years ago about removal men based on the film ‘Moving Story’.
It’s a stunning film. O’Neill in particular certainly deserves some kind of award for his performance as Joe Meek, the eccentric record producer who had a studio in his small flat above a handbag shop. Despite the tragic end it’s a joyous and wonderful tale of the triumph of creative genius.
Odd facts emerge from this; two of the guitarists in Meek’s band were Chas Hodges, who went on to be Chas from Chas and Dave, and Ritchie Blackmore who went on to Heavy Rock fame with Deep Purple.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Friday 12 March 2010

Cardamom (n) An Italian Mothers Day Tradition in which children post written greetings to the mother in question.

As part of our Book Club selection I am now reading ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ by Mohsin Hamid, somewhat reluctantly.
Last year the BBC did a whole series in which Andrew Lord Webber, with the aid of the public, Graham Norton and the ubiquitous Barrowman, selected a candidate for Eurovision for whom Lord Webber wrote a suitably schmaltzy tune.
This year, the songwriters are chubby professional cockney Pete Waterman and his evil sidekick, Mike Stock. Perhaps worried by the effect that Pete Waterman may have on BBC viewers with his menacing glare for six weeks, the PTB wisely cut the whole thing down to one show.
With his customary modesty, Waterman auditioned the hopefuls by requesting them to sing some of his old hits. ‘This is a classic pop song!’ he said, with absolutely no sense of irony, when requesting one poor boy to sing ‘Too Many Broken Hearts’.
A girl called Esma screeched, shouted and hit nearly every wrong note in the catalogue, but was nevertheless put through to the final three by Mr W.
Thankfully, the public have a great deal more sense than Pete Waterman and kicked her arse off the stage straightaway.
Our singer this year then, is a nice man called Josh with a large nose.
Due to the nature of Eurovision, and the fact that songs from the Stock/Aitken/Waterman stable tend to be pants beyond even the Ashley Cole level, we might actually stand a good chance of winning this year.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Rudder (n) One who ruds professionally and is an accredited member of the Worshipful Order of Rudders. Unqualified or acolyte rudders are generally known as prehensiles , having not yet been awarded the hensiles necessary for full ruddership and membership of the society.

I wish Ashley Cole would stop texting me pictures of his underpants. It wouldn’t be so bad if he was actually in them.
Today I had to visit another doctor, this time an OHS referral from the underground bunker who had sent me to an address near Liverpool Street in the shadow of the gherkin. That sounds like a good title for a novel, I thought, as I strolled past, ‘In The Shadow of The Gherkin’.
The doctor, a very nice but rather strange and intense individual, pronounced me fit and hale and capable of sustained and intense word processing.
So I left and met up with the Ugly One in the Vue at Westfield, where we saw a 3D Alice in Wonderland in their extreme auditorium. The White Queen is based on Nigella Lawson apparently, which is quite apparent when one watches the movie.
After that a KFC bucket was called for, and we quaffed it merrily, pleased with the way that the day had gone.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Facetious (adj) In possession or alleged possession of a fat wide head on which the face appears to be wider spread across the front than would be normally acceptable.

I had a very difficult time getting to the hospital for my monthly appointment with the Professor. There were signal failures everywhere it seems and I was stranded at Edgware Road for a goodly period.
Once at the hospital however, I went straight to the blood test department and took a ticket from their safeways deli ticket machine just in case I needed one, as the waiting time is usually horrendously long. It is a good job I did as the Professor, being a thorough sort of person, requested some blood tests anyway. Consequently my wait was a shorter one as my number still hadn’t come up by the time I got back there.

Monday 8 March 2010

Mildew (n) Word derived from the name of Shakespeare’s hero from the play ‘How’s About It?’

I had to stay home today to wait for the boilerman. He comes every year to check that our boiler is up to spec, and generally tells us that, like myself, it’s a bit old, but working OK.
While he was tinkering with the plumbing I was online and had got a message from a man in Saudi Arabia who had tracked me down on the internet.
‘You look like Michael Chiklis!’ he said, ‘I’ve been searching for someone who looks like Michael Chiklis.’
‘Michael Chiklis? The man from The Shield? That’s a coincidence,’ I said, looking at his online photo, ‘because I’ve been searching for someone who looks like Carlos from Desperate Housewives.’
‘I haven’t seen The Shield,’ said Carlos, ‘but I fell in love with Michael Chiklis in The Fantastic Four.’
‘So…’ I said, ‘You think I look like Michael Chiklis in The Fantastic Four as The Thing!’
I was interrupted by the boilerman who needed to check my gas cooker, which I had fortunately cleaned the day before.
Carlos from Desperate Housewives must have thought I was highly offended and had diplomatically logged off, although he did send me an apologetic message later.

Sunday 7 March 2010

Pilate (n) A Japanese pirate

I hied it off to the celebrity sauna, which I am now renaming The Celebrity Lookalike Sauna. Hugh Firmly-Wherewithal was there today wandering around in some outrageously tight white boxer briefs. I can’t think what he was after dressed like that. It wasn’t wild garlic or rabbits, I know that.
Back home, I cooked my famous Kung Pao Chicken. It normally has peanuts in it, but I had some cashews to use up so I chucked those in. It makes a very good alternative.
There have been several versions of Agatha Christies ‘Ten Little Indians’. The original novel had the ‘N’ word rather than ‘Indians’ and featured, as I recall, a golliwog on the front cover in a pool of blodd, or maybe I’m imagining the blood.
The title has been variously changed to ‘Ten Little Indians’ or ‘Then There Were None’ (which was used when we saw the stage play some time ago). Tonight we saw a version from 1974 with Richard Attenborough, Oliver Reed and Elke Sommer set not on an island but a remote desert hotel. It also featured Charles Aznavour who, upon arrival, headed straight for the piano and began to sing ‘Dance in the Old Fashioned Way’.
‘I hope he’s the first to go,’ I said to the Ugly One, ‘I can’t stand much more of this.’
Nor could the murderer apparently, for within minutes Aznavour was lying dead on the stairs poisoned by a spiked after dinner sherry.

Saturday 6 March 2010

Aspirate (n.) An angry snake

I didn’t go anywhere today. Instead I mooched around the house, getting on the Ugly One’s nerves while he was trying to watch ‘Poirot’. We were supposed to have gone to see The Wolfman at the new Vue in Westfield, but they’ve taken it off.
This evening I made Ghosht Alu Bakharah (which is probably spelt completely differently) which is curried lamb with plums. Despite the somewhat offputting mixture, it tastes very good.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Friday 5 March 2010

Predetermine (v) To get oneself suitably vexed and stubborn well in advance of a pending argument.

The Ugly One made sausage and mash. These days it’s never ordinary sausage and mash, not that I’m complaining. It was mashed swede, potato and spring onion with home made gravy, peas and roasted fennel. I am being slowly killed by indulgence.
Tonight we watched ‘Prime Suspect’, the original 1991 series in which Helen Mirren as DCI Tennison takes over a murder investigation when DCI Shefford has a heart attack in the Super’s office and dies in the arms of Sergeant Ottley.
I’d forgotten how good this is. Gripping, gritty, compelling, and with the occasional dash of mordant wit, it’s an acting masterclass from Mirren and Tom Bell as the old school Sergeant Ottley.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Pneumonia (n) A morbid fear of decimal currency which reached epidemic proportions when old money was abolished in 1971.

On a whim I bought a new filofax from the filofax shop in the West End, opposite Vivienne Westwood’s. My last filofax, which I only occasionalluy used, is a special Batman edition which came out at the same time as the original Michael Keaton film.
I’m going to keep it. I thought it might be worth a bob or two but having checked on e-bay I discover that an unused one has sold for £2.20.
My new one is a gooseberry leather domino, which looks as gay as it sounds, and is quite lovely.
Celebrities are dying like flies. It must be the latest fashion among the glitterati. Let’s hope it spreads to the Z-list.

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Quark (n) The call of an aristocratic duck. (v) To call in such a manner.

The BBC, which hasn’t made a sensible decision in years (apart from possibly to cancel Amanda Holden’s woeful sitcom ‘The Big Top’, although one also has to remember that it was the BBC’s decision to make it in the first place) has now decided to axe Radio 6 Music, which has caused a bit of a storm. Cerys from Catatonia has started a protest to save the station which champions new music and upcoming bands. She has described the decision as ‘like cutting off your little finger to lose weight.’
This rather painful simile seems to have roused the world of music and entertainment into action since as I was buying my coffee this morning in the San Marino I saw Gary Numan on their TV lambasting the BBC whose decision is based on the shaky premise that there are other commercial stations that provide the same service.
Gary Numan pointed out that there are far more that provide exactly the same service as Radio One, which plays only chart music (at least during peak hours). The executive who made the decision (a rather portly lady in a business suit who didn’t look as if she’d know her Aerosmith from her Elbow) bleated a little about ratings and audience expectations and seemed to imagine that the role of Radio 6 could be incorporated in Radios 1 and 2. I can’t see this as a viable option since their airspace is finite, and any incursion by Radio 6 programming would have to be in the low-peak hours when Girls Aloud aren’t squawking .
Anyway, I’d be grateful if people could lodge their protests with the BBC to save this valuable resource.

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Prioritise (v) To book someone into an expensive rehab clinic.

We saw ‘Angels and Demons’ tonight. Oh dear! From what I can gather, since I was laughing too much to follow the plot too closely, a Vatican priest had been creating anti-matter with the aid of what looked like some Victorian brass gas pipes, and some of the anti-matter had subsequently gone missing. Tom Hanks was summoned back to the Vatican to help look for it, and track down The Illuminati. They are a kind of Opus Dei Lite, and appear to be behind the theft, some killings, brandings, and the threat to send the Vatican into a black hole.
It wasn’t difficult to work out what was really going on. The real mysteries were how Ewan McGregor could have lived in Italy since the age of four and still have an Irish accent, and why Dan Brown is so bafflingly popular.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Sunday 28 February 2010

Fishkettle (n) The Aztec God of Kitchenware.

I was full of beans today. I cannot say why. I cleaned out the shelves on which I keep my spices and sundry comestibles, since they were somewhat unkempt and discovered several bags of noodles, some unopened cashew nuts and half a bag of rice, all of which I was unaware.
I also made some Polish Rye bread, but it didn’t rise to the occasion as much as I had hoped. It tastes lovely, but has the consistency of a small bag of sand, and it takes a full head of steam to get the knife in to it.
Nevertheless, I was determined to eat it and had some toasted with smoked salmon, and later created a somewhat stiff chicken and mayonnaise sandwich.
I spent the evening sorting out the music on my MP3 player.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Cochineal (n) An interesting example of onomatopoeia in that this is the word for sneeze in the Aztec dialect

I had a day off today, just on a whim, and went first thing to pick up the new DVD/HDD beast, which I left for the Ugly One to deal with and nipped off to the Celebrity Sauna.
No celebrities today, which was a relief, since they inevitably stalk me.
The Ugly One duly set up the new beast which is working perfectly, although in a perverse act of defiance the old one has now decided to work properly.

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Parasite (n) A designated area reserved for soldiers who wish to go camping.

Our DVD/HDD recorder has become progressively sicker over the last couple of days and now just flashes messages of distress at us.
Consequently, we have ordered a new one from The Great God Argos which I will be picking up tomorrow.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Balaclava (n) A Welsh harpsichord

I have to say that although I normally avoid reality shows, I am unaccountably hooked by ‘Pineapple Studios’ which takes the cameras inside the famous dance studio to show us the lives of the shy and retiring folk who work there.
One could be forgiven for thinking one was watching a mockumentary along the lines of ‘That Peter Kay Thing’ or ‘This is Spinal Tap’ since some of the protagonists seem completely unaware of the yawning void between the image they have of themselves and hard reality.
On the good side we have Louie Spence, the ubercamp Creative Director who, I am sure, will never return to TV obscurity. Like Julian and Sandy reborn in one muscle-bound volume, Louie is a lisping high-energy witmeister who can turn his hand to anything from having to ‘clean up poo. Someone missed the ¬toilet twice the other day and did it on the doorstep. I Am Not Lying’ to backflipping around the dancefloor to show a crowd of wannabee teenagers how it’s done. I love him.
On the dark side, someone really needs to have a word with Andrew Stone, the self-proclaimed ‘ready made pop star.’ He may have been ready made at some point, but things have gone off a bit since.
Andrew (‘Some people are IN showbusiness, some people ARE showbusiness. I AM showbusiness!’) is the lead singer of the (unsigned) band ‘Starman’, whose members and manager seem to think it is still the Nineteen Eighties. Like most people who want to BE showbusiness, Andrew and his band have worked very hard on their image and have done a professional photoshoot (during which Andrew got very concerned and lip-trembly about being upstaged by a lady in a loud frock, and Jesus the guitarist threw a hissy fit when someone got chocolate on his nice shirt), but so far don’t seem to have actually produced any music. Having said that, if you ARE showbusiness, that’s not really necessary, I suppose.

Monday 22 February 2010

Depot (v) To pour the tea.

Now our DVD/TV recorder has decided to throw a strop and refuses to record ‘Days of Our Lives’ which is a bit of a worry for me since characters are currently being murdered weekly. Doctor Marlena has had a mouthful of poisoned dip at the funeral of the last victim, and now lies close to death while her family and friends fall to their knees around the bed, clenching their fists and shouting ‘Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!’
John Black’s detachable and sentient eyebrows are so incensed by this turn of events that they have left his face altogether and gone off to find the murderer on their own.
I will have to purchase a new machine just so I can keep up.

Sunday 21 February 2010

Gully (n) The V-shaped depression in the neck which in men nestles the Adam’s Apple.

The odious Katie Price has a new series and in the trailer she hopes, somewhat optimistically, that nothing terrible happens to her this year. I hope that too. Well, nothing trivial anyway. Her vocal cords may get eaten by a ferret, which would make interesting tv, and improve the programme no end in the process. She may have a fatal attack of good taste and give her child a proper name, rather than Tiramisu. Who knows?
We had fortune cookies at dinner yesterday and mine said that I was destined to enjoy fine things and would never have a serious accident.

Saturday 20 February 2010

Dermatology (n) The study of Irish TV presenters.

her face is the rain
it dampens the atmosphere
pulls down all our skies

Robert and his dog Henry came round for dinner this evening and the Ugly One cooked Sweet and Sour Pork, which came out perfick.
When I plugged my mp3 player into the pc to play some ambient sounds, the computer went a bit weird and switched all its speakers off.
The Ugly One had to fiddle with the setting for ages to get everything back to normal.
I hate technology.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Vista (n) A popular brand of Nineeten Seventies New Zealand Packet curries.

the black dog is back
following me through the rain
sleeping on my chest

‘Holby City’ has been on twice a week, which is very confusing. We also watched ‘Wallander’, the Kenneth Branagh version, not the Swedish version. It’s very bleak. I’m surprised the man gets out of bed in the mornings. He’s suffering from depression because he killed someone, his artist father is in a nursing home, and this week men were being tortured and killed all over the Swedish countryside while his father escaped and went home to his studio to die.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Prevaricate (v) To paint fashionable veins one one’s legs in advance of old age.

My mp3 player is so full of stuff now that half the time I have no idea what I am listening to, and, while reading on the Tube for instance, can’t be bothered half the time to pull the machine out of my pocket to check what the track is. In the future, no doubt, I will have the option to have the name of the track and artist scroll across my eyeballs in an organic font of my choosing, but for now, I’m stuck with what I have.
I leave it on constant shuffle, which is perfect for me since it forces me to listen to stuff I may not choose voluntarily, and the tracks are a genuine surprise.
It is, as you may expect (or not, since you may not know who I am), an eclectic mix. representing the Classical community, we have Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi, Maria Callas and Philip Glass (among others). There’s a good representation of World music, which consists in the main of South American/Latino although I also have some Romanian gypsy music which was recommended by The Evening Standard. Then we have jazz and blues, from Charlie Mingus, Albert King, The Nigel Price Trio and some older blues artists whose names escape me, although I’m pretty sure they all begin with ‘Blind’.
Then there’s rock from Rammstein, Pink Floyd and Yes, some Beatles, Them Crooked Vultures, Frank Zappa, Syd Barrett, the complete Kraftwerk, some folky stuff from The Imagined Village (who do a very interesting version of Slade’s ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’) and a double CD of cover versions from The Ministry of Sound, a double CD of Erasure that I found in Barnardos, Siouxsie and The Banshees and The Editors.
I’m particularly fond of The Editors, who are the best band I’ve come across in the last few years. They seem to know what they’re doing, and they do it very well, which is all one can ask for.

Monday 15 February 2010

Acrophobia (n) a morbid fear of circus performers

The Ugly One rang me in a panic at work, as Robert’s boss had rung our home, Robert having put us down as his emergency contact. It seemed that he had not turned up for work this morning, and was not answering his phone. Just to be sure I rang it myself, but it just rang for about a minute and then disconnected.
‘I’ll have to go round and check on him!’ the UO said, and promised that he would ring me when he found out what was happening.
My colleague, Mr WCS Harbinger (WCS being ‘Worst Case Scenario’) immediately began concocting visions of Robert lying dead at home being systematically consumed by his dog who would have no other source of nourishment.
As it turned out, R had been ill during the night, had slept through the morning and consequently had not rung in.
‘How is he?’ asked Mr WCS Harbinger.
‘Alive, but slightly chewed,’ I replied.

Sunday 14 February 2010

Billingsgate (n) Word used to denote the scandal of Beryl Billings, who was exposed by The Wrexham Leader in 1989 via taped conversations as the one woman in North Wales who voted Conservative throughout the Nineteen Eighties.

I had a dream the other night in which I was looking after some goats in a field. A man I had never seen before, a tall, chunky, gingery blonde man, came up to me and said ‘How did you get into keeping goats?’ to which I replied, ‘I used to drive pigs about.’
Yes. that’s what I thought.
This evening I made some seafood laksa with king prawns, Pollock, salmon and smoked haddock. I’m not sure how successful the final result was, as the smoked haddock tended to overpower everything.

Saturday 13 February 2010

Plethora (n) The placenta of the sperm whale. In the eighteenth century this was often collected, dried, cured, and used by whalers’ wives as shopping baskets.

On a whim, I decided to make my own pizza. Actually it wasn’t an immediate whim, as I had bought some packets of pizza base mix from Sainsburys earlier in the week.
So, I made the bases, and the UO had kindly made me a tomato sauce to spread over them. It was then just a case of strategically arranging some mozzarella and assembling the toppings. I had, being the sort of person who perennially overbuys, supplied myself with a plethora of toppings. One pizza had coverings of two sorts of salami, parma ham, olives, anchovies and roasted peppers, and the other had chicken, bacon, chillies, anchovies and roasted peppers.
Once they were ready, the UO fired up the DVD and we watched ‘X-Men origins – Wolverine’ in which Hugh Jackman reprised his role as the blade-fisted one. It was better than X-Men 3, but that isn’t saying much. On the whole it was very good. Gambit makes an experience. I’ve always thought his mutant power to be a stupid one, since he would be entirely helpless if playing cards had never been invented.
The pizzas came out very well, if a little weighty. Holding an entire slice just wasn’t viable so we had to resort to knives and forks.

Friday 12 February 2010

Loth (n) A square of translucent material which was traditionally used by mediums to cover and consequently dim the glare of electric light

As we were loth (we are often loth, it has to be said. If there is one thing which we regularly are, it is loth) to go out on Sunday to celebrate Valentine’s Day, I booked a table at Indian Zing in Hammersmith, which is becoming one of my favourite places to go.
I met up with The Ugly One in a pub called Salutation, and either they are very expensive or I haven’t been out drinking for quite some time. Two double vodka and cokes, in very narrow test tube style glasses, came to £12.80.
By the time I’d picked myself up off the floor, which I presume they pepper with sawdust from some of the rarest of Amazonian trees, the Ugly One had arrived.
Indian Zing was marvellous. I had crab claws and lobster.
I’m so posh sometimes I despise myself.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Thursday 11 February 2010

Persiflage (v) To constantly beat, e,g a wilful child or a carpet.

While sitting in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, waiting to be called in for a blood-test, my thoughts were drawn, as they often are, to ‘Coronation Street’ and the onscreen lives of Ken and Dierdre Barlow. The hospital has picked up some old ticket machines from a Safeways Deli Counter. The number on the LCD screen was 9. My ticket was 34, so I had quite a time to ponder.
I’m thinking of commissioning an opera based on the life of Ken and Dierdre, although I haven’t thought of a title as yet.
Ideally it would have a score by Philip Glass, and would be a Beckett-esque tragedy covering thirty years, one decade per act, and with a different person playing their psychotic daughter Tracy every time she appears on stage, just to keep it real.
Act I begins on a high note with the wedding of Ken and Dierdre, lots of choruses and a duet, but laced with a menacing counter-melody from Mike Baldwin, whose affair with Dierdre in 1983 initiates a feud that continues through the years until Mike’s tragic death in Ken Barlow’s arms in 2006.
After the blood test I had to have my knee x-rayed by two children. I swear they were on work experience or something. One of them had barely started shaving, and she was the one who looked the oldest.

Wednesday 12 February 2010.

Matador (n) A Spanish rug, placed at the entrance of the house in order that guests may wipe their feet on it before they enter the house.

We watched a very interesting Horizon documentary about infinity this evening which was presented in the usual pop-science way that the BBC presents science these days. Intercut with scenes of children who were asked for the biggest number they could think of (one of said ‘a hundred and twenty’) were interviews with working scientists and mathematicians who have long pondered the concept and presented us with some of their conclusions.
It is a sad fact that most scientists are far more eccentric in real life than any of their fictional counterparts, although it cannot be doubted that they are weirdly brilliant.
I did like the concept of the infinite hotel, which one professor (who looked and sounded like Marty Feldman’s Igor from ‘Young Frankenstein’) used as an example of how to understand infinity.
If, for instance, the professor booked a room at the infinite hotel, and it was fully booked, a room could be found by making all the guests move one room up, thus leaving room 1 free.
Thinking about that in depth makes me feel queasy.
I also learned that a googol is a 1 with a hundred noughts after it, and is a very big number indeed, not as big as a googolplex which is the number 10 raised to the power of googol.
Then there is Graham’s number, invented by Ronald Graham, a mathematician and former circus performer (honestly, he was trampolining on ‘Horizon’ just to emphasise the fact) which seeks to solve a problem in Ramsey theory involving n-dimensional hypercubes.
In layman’s terms, the problem is:-
‘Take any number of people, list every possible committee that can be formed from them, and consider every possible pair of committees. How many people must be in the original group so that no matter how the assignments are made, there will be four committees in which all the pairs fall in the same group, and all the people belong to an even number of committees.’ I am obviously not a layman, as I still can make head nor tail of it.
Anyhoo, Graham’s number is so big that there isn’t enough matter in the universe on which to write it down.
I confess that at this point I got a bit lost. I was on more familiar ground when they started talking about monkeys and typewriters, and a scientist has started a computer simulation to try and produce sections of Shakespeare from randomly generated text, although already he has surmised that to produce an entire line of Shakespeare’s text would take at least from the time of the Big Bang until now. So, given infinite time, the complete works of Shakespeare could be produced randomly by a monkey on a typewriter, but that gives me a terrifying partial glimpse of how long infinite time just might be.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Monday 8 February 2010

Flimsy (adj.) Exhibiting the characteristics of a Flim.

Coronation Street is getting a bit dark of late. Peter Barlow is descending into a self-created hell of alcoholic madness, possibly because he has never come to terms with the fact that he used to be Scottish and ginger, and some time back transformed, in true Doctor Who fashion, into an Italian Mancunian. Or maybe it’s because no one seems to recognise that his best friend is Keith Duffy from Boyzone, or realise that Kim from Hearsay is working behind the bar in the Rovers. It’s enough to drive anyone to the Newton and Ridley.
Meanwhile, Gail Potter-Tilsley-Platt-Hillman-McIntyre has been taken off to ‘The Lakes’ by her newest husband, Joe. (‘The Lakes’ for Corrie residents is a bit like Leicester is for Eastenders characters. Some people never return.)
Joe has refurbished a boat and ominously named it ‘Gail Force’. Joe is also in serious debt to a creepy loan shark, and has decided to fake his own death. He should have known better than to try and fake it in ‘The Lakes’. The power of ‘The Lakes’ will compel him to stay, and indeed he was dragged to a watery doom beneath ‘Gail Force’ while a baleful full moon shone down on Gail Potter-Tilsley-Platt-Hillman-McIntyre, falling to her knees on the jetty and shouting ‘Joooooooooooooooooooooooooeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!’
OK. She did shout ‘Joooooooooooooooooooooooooeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!’ but she didn’t fall to her knees. She should have. It’s the traditional thing to do in these circumstances.
Gail should have known better than to marry Joe. Out of her four husbands, three have come to sticky ends, and the other one ran off with a Geordie, which is worse than being gay in Weatherfield. However, as her husband sinks (possibly to re-emerge in Holby City), her son Nick returns, himself transformed into a less blonde version with new sticky-out grabbable ears.
I want to live in a street where you can go away and come back regenerated. I’d avoid ‘The Lakes’ though, and Leicester.

Sunday 7 February 2010

Mancunian (adj) A description applied in the Nineteenth Century to the Chinese residents of Rusholme. A film, ‘The Mancunian Candidate’ starring George Formby and Gracie Fields, detailing the trials and tribulations of one such immigrant was released in 1946, but soon withdrawn due to complaints about its depressing subject matter. Formby’s famous songs about Mr Woo were originally commissioned for this picture.

I couldn’t be arsed to go out anywhere, and planned a quiet day on the sofa reading my book, but the Ugly One decided to clean out the fish tank so I escaped to the bedroom and put all my books in alphabetical order.
At the moment I am reading ‘The Shadow of The Torturer’ by Gene Wolfe, which I read some years ago, and didn’t get on with. Now however, I am finding it a vastly more enjoyable experience.
‘24’ is back, and Jack Bauer is up to his neck in it trying to prevent weapons grade uranium reaching a dastardly foreign country. Oddly, the president of the country is the presenter of the Indian ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’.

Saturday 6 February 2010

Scouse (n) A small parasitical invertebrate which infests the armpits. Not as common today as in Victorian times when the practice of mutual armpit-rubbing was a secret vice among many sections of society.

I spent a relaxing afternoon making Penang paste. I’d already been out to the shops but had to go back to get cumin seeds. God bless Indian corner shops! This evening I made Chicken Penang which was so good I wanted it to bear my children.
The Sky ad with Gene Wilder singing a song from Willy Wonka is beginning to get on my nerves. Needless to say, the Go Compare ads haven’t got any funnier, or any more appealing in any sense. The meerkats have nothing to worry about.

Friday 5 February 2010

Acquiesce (v) To leak water until one dissipates completely, leaving only a greasy puddle.

Today I went into the underground bunker gentlemen’s toilet and someone was sitting playing Super Mario in the next cubicle. I could recognise the distinctive sound effects.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Thursday 4 February 2010

Mendacious (adj) Fabulously masculine

Sometimes fiction and reality interact to provide a surreal day. This morning I walked into the gentlemen’s toilet in the underground bunker and found a Traffic warden singing and dancing in front of the mirror.
Then there’s the Sontarans. I have two colleagues who bear such a strong resemblance to Doctor Who’s Sontarans that I cannot but help imagining them in warrior space suits. There is another one who comes in for meetings, bearing the same hairless dome. Maybe I am right. Maybe this is a small scout party on a reconnaissance trip to gauge the underground bunker’s defences.
Watch the skies, readers!
On a whim, having realised that I have no Bob Dylan in my CD collection, I popped into HMV and found two Bob Dylan albums in their ‘2 for £10’ sale. There never seems to be a time of the year when HMV are not having a sale so one might as well conclude that at any one time they will be selling cheap CDs of one sort or another.
I was delayed getting home due to a person under a train at Finchley Road, which is a very sanitised way of telling commuters that someone has flung themselves under the wheels of a moving train and has no doubt, ended up in various bloody pieces.
In these times of campaigns for the legalisation of assisted suicides, it should surely be an option that people who wish to take the ‘under the train’ route to the hereafter should be allowed to do so at a scheduled time and place. I would imagine the stretch between Uxbridge and Hillingdon on the Piccadilly Line would be perfect as it seems to be always closed for random spurious reasons.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Polynesia (n) A pernicious disease which strikes unexpectedly at parrots’ legs.

Midsomer Murders has become something of a National Treasure. DCI Tom Barnaby has been mopping up the blood and bodies in the sleepy Shire of Midsomer since 1997, so the entire premise of the programme has acquired a kind of tongue in cheek element.
The greatest mystery of Midsomer, however, is why DS Dan Scott (John Hopkins) went sick in 2005 and never came back. I’m not that fussed, as he was replaced by a cute Welshman, (Jason Hughes as DS Ben Jones) but I would love to know why his passing was so abrupt.
Tonight we watched DCI Barnaby investigate ‘The Creeper’, in which Rik Mayall was drugged and suffocated by Jenny Agutter.

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Nomad (n.) A wandering sane person.

Sausage chips and beans! Hoorah!
My favourite meals, despite my predilection for complicated exotic recipes, are the comfort foods of my youth, which generally involve either sausages or potatoes, or both.
The Ugly One decided, on a whim, that tonight we would have sausage, chips and beans, and very nice it was too.
Continuing from my hype diatribe of yesterday, I am rather surprised at myself since I never mentioned the I-Pod, perhaps the most pernicious of bad quality fashion accessories, not only because one is committed to having to use I-Tunes to upload music, but also because the product (as has been reported) is prone to breakages and the company are loth to replace the damaged items. Another problem is that the trademark white earphones are possibly the most sound-polluting headphones ever made. Whenever I hear the overloud hissbeat of an MP3 player on the Tube (and it has to be loud to be overheard on the Tube) nine times out of ten it is the evil white headphones of the Satan I-Pod.
And yet the I-Pod is baffling popular. Why?
‘They come in nice colours,’ a colleague told me yesterday when I questioned her rationale for planning to purchase one. That says it all really. We live in a culture where style is vastly more important than content or function. Where greed was good in the eighties, shallowness is the virtue of the Noughties and beyond.

Monday 1 February 2010

Impotent (adj) Incapable of erecting a wigwam

Our book club book this month is Alan Bennett’s ‘Talking Heads’, the scripts of his seminal BBC series in which he wrote monologues for famous actors of the day, including himself. One would have thought that in reading them without the benefit of the actor’s interpretation one might have lost something, but so far that is not the case. In the case of Patricia Routledge’s beautifully rounded tones, they are easy to imagine in one’s head, and for Alan Bennett’s own performance ‘A Chip In the Sugar’ I tried to imagine it as a Welsh voice. This worked remarkably well, and if one exchanged the placenames, i.e. Bolton, Bradford and Ripon with, for instance, Chester, Wrexham and Ruthin, one might never know that this had been written for a Lancashire voice, since the cultures are in essence very similar.
There are people in the underground bunker where I work with Blackberrys now. I have nothing against the Blackberry per se, but I have, over the course of my life, acquired an innate hype-sensor.
We are all slaves to many things, but slaves to the hype are the most common. What is it, for instance, that a Blackberry can do that a less expensive mobile phone cannot do? Yes, it has the QWERTY keyboard, which is designed for the thumbs of a small and rare South American monkey, but otherwise, what does it do?
The name Blackberry alone, it seems, confers a glamour which bewitches the most technophobic of us.
‘I’m getting a Blackberry,’ a friend announced to me recently, with such evident glee that I suspected it was a euphemism for penile excitement.
‘Why?’ I asked, which provoked a look of confusion, as if the question had not occurred to him until now.
I never got a proper answer, but the reason is, as I know, that they are fashionable. They may be the most annoying and impractical things on the planet but they are, as Americans would say ‘cute’ or ‘adorable’. I would call them memes personally, cultural viruses which infect the gullible, and are on the same level, culturally speaking, as Hula Hoopas, clackers and moon boots.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Sunday 31 January 2010

Brogue (n) A popular lesbian fashion magazine.

I took Henry for a walk, or rather, he took me. He had his own ideas about where he wanted to go so I saw no reason to dispute them.
Robert returned and took Henry home. Suddenly it feels very quiet and still, and I am haunted by the thought that something is missing.

Saturday 30 January 2010

Incurious (adj) Having a long felt want for a tattoo.

So, I braved the bitter winds of Bayswater and set off for the Thai supermarket. As some may know I like to make my own Thai curry pastes, and have been finding it very hard to get hold of Kaffir limes. They look a little bit like proper limes, but are smaller, darker and knobblier. They had no Kaffir limes, so I bought a small ordinary lime instead.
As recommended in my Big Book of Thai Curries, I painstakingly ground the ingredients together in a pestle and mortar. Quite honestly, I don’t see that doing it this way makes any vast difference to the result, so next time I’m using the food-processor.
The Ugly One ordered ‘G-Force’ on his DVD subscription list, not something I would normally choose to watch, but it was an enjoyable enough tale of CGI guinea-pigs and a geek mole forming an elite Task Force.
Henry sat and stared at me pleadingly while I ate my Spicy Coconut Chicken.

Friday 29 January 2010

Ballad (n) A naughty Chinese boy.

I took the day off today. My bruised ribs are giving me some jip. My intention was to visit the Thai supermarket to stock up on supplies. Instead I limped to Morrisons and bought a lot of ordinary things and some sausage rolls, and had a quiet cappuccino in BB’s café..
I didn’t have to buy much as we were expecting a Tescos delivery this evening.
We were also expecting a visitor since our friend Robert was going home to the Frozen North for the weekend and was leaving his dog Henry in our care.
Henry is a loveable mutt, but being essentially still a puppy he is both boisterous and inquisitive. After Robert dropped him off he whined and whimpered for a good half-hour and then spent the rest of the evening sniffing everything in sight.
We had to lock him in the bathroom when the Tesco man arrived in case he jumped up at him and knocked him back down the stairs.
Anyway, once all that was over and we wiped up the wee that Henry had done when he panicked in the bathroom, we settled down to watch the final of Big Brother.
Celebrity BB has been a bit of a damp squib this year. One would have thought, as this is the last Celebrity BB ever, that Channel Four would have made more of an effort to find actual celebrities as they have in previous years (One is reminded of the Jack Dee, Vanessa Feltz year or the Rula Lenska/George Galloway/Michael Barrymore year, or even the Germaine Greer/John McQuiddick times). Katia, Lady Sovereign and Thisqo? Please! It is little wonder that many people were thinking that BB had filled half the house with fake celebrities (as they did with Chantelle back in the day) who had to convince the real celebrities that they were famous.
Ironically, the competition was won by Alex Reid, the latest victim of the lamia Katie Price. He seems a very nice man, although not the brightest himbo in the firmament.
‘I love Katie Price,’ he told the assembled mob, who all then booed in a very satisfactory manner.
Henry followed us up to bed and slept between us like a furry bolster.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Tuesday 24 January 2010

Overt (v) To go out in public dressed as an egg.

‘Days of Our Lives’ is continuing one of its periodic dark and spooky periods. A killer is stalking Salem and has already claimed the lives of Pensioner and Supercop Abe Carver and has now bashed ace reporter Jack Devereaux over the head with a brick.
Supernatural signs have been visited upon the people of Salem, far more potent than my Green Man experience. Old Alice Horton has been seeing the floating head of her dead husband hovering over the sofa, and Maggie Horton has been hearing evil children singing nursery rhymes about chopping up members of the cast.
Jack Devereaux, of course, has returned from the dead before. This time, however, having been seen in the obligatory coma which at least one cast member has to be in at any one time, his wife Jennifer switched off his life-support at the mains. His body then shone and his ghostly glowing soul rose from the sheets and winked a final wink to the viewers before fading away into the credits. I don’t think he can come back from this as Jennifer has farmed out his organs to needy Salem transplant-list people.

Monday 23 January 2010

Overween (v) To miss the toilet when urinating.

My embarrassing moment of the day came when I was returning to the Underground bunker from the Brixton branch of Marks & Spencer with a bag of biscuits and tripped over a kerbstone, hurling myself bodily flat onto the wet pavement. I suffered a grazed knee and a bruised chest. I was touched by the fact that a nice Portuguese man came to my aid, as well as a colleague who had been walking behind me.
‘You should be careful,’ said the Portuguese man. ‘If you fall like that you can break your spectacles!’
‘Thank you,’ I said. ‘I shall bear that in mind when next I fall.’
I felt more stupid than anything else, and what further annoyed me was that not one biscuit had suffered so much as a crack.

Saturday 22 January 2010

Scamper (n) A conman who lives in a tent.

I have seen today how easily superstitions or the concepts of ‘signs’ can emerge within society.
I got up this morning and the Ugly One was watching ‘The Green Man’, a somewhat vintage, although quite brilliant, black comedy starring Alistair Sim and a variety of British talent; Dora Bryan, Richard Wattis, George Cole and Arthur Brough (Mr Grainger from ‘Are You Being Served?’) playing the landlord of The Green Man itself.
Once it had finished I set off for the shops and went to up to Edgware Road to do some shopping. As I got on the bus to go two stops to Somerfield, I noticed that the pub behind me had been ‘The Green Man’. Then we passed a set of pelican crossings which was showing the sign to cross, i.e. the green man, and then, almost immediately, we were upon Marks & Spencer, whose large scale window artwork features a sketch of a man wearing presumably M&S clothing, but who is completely green.
Now, the gullible among us having had such an experience would say ‘Oooh, it must mean something’ and it is quite understandable that they should do so, but why should it mean something?
The randomness of events ensure that generally events conform to the laws of averages and probabilities. However, this also ensures that occasionally coincidences occur, and because our brains are hardwired for pattern recognition we connect those items which have symbolic value. Logically there should be no connection between a pub and an electric traffic sign, but because we have attributed a colour and the figurative symbol of a man to both we create a connection.
Yes, it was odd that this particular movie was shown this morning, but the rest of the green men have been in situ for quite some time, and pure coincidence can sometimes be a delight. There is nothing supernatural about it, and to those of you who habitually say ‘There must be something in it!’ I would ask you to think very hard upon the question ‘Why must there be something in it?’

Friday, 22 January 2010

Thursday 21 January 2010

Risotto (n) A famous German brand of cigarette paper.

On a whim, I decided to cook my signature dish, Welsh Baked Chilli Beef Risotto, which is an old Welsh family recipe handed down from the dawn of recorded vinyl. Being a kind fellow, I have decided to share this recipe with the world.

Roddy’s Welsh Baked Chilli Beef Risotto

(Y Risotto Cig Eidion Chillio Rhodri yn Crasu)

450 gms lean beef mice
1 beef tomato (blanched, peeled and chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
3 or 4 red or green chillies (chopped, one left unseeded)
3 red and yellow peppers (seeded and sliced)
2 cups of easycook rice (cooked, drained and left to go cold)
1 beef stock cube
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 large packet of tortilla chips
Mild Cheddar Cheese (or any cheese of your choice)
2 Tablespoons Groundnut Oil

In a large saucepan, fry the onions, peppers and chillies in the groundnut oil until soft.
Pour yourself a large vodka and coke, and drink liberally throughout the process.

Meanwhile, in a small pan heat 250ml of water on a low light and add the stock cube, ketchup and chilli sauce.

Add the meat to the fried vegetables and stir until the meat is browned, and mixed with the vegetables.

Add the chopped tomato and continue to fry and stir for 2 minutes.

Add the cooked rice, stir to mix and then add the sauce. Lower the heat and continue stirring until the mixture is mixed. Top up the vodka and coke as necessary.

Decant the mixture into a lasagne dish or baking dish and allow to cool a little. This might be a good time for another drink. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4.

Crumble the tortillas into a layer on top and then grate a generous layer of cheese on top of this.

Place in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes.

Serve a slice of the topping with each helping of the risotto, and praise the Welsh for their culinary genius.

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Fatuous (adj) Too fat to be called just fat.

reluctant morning
the light won’t get out of bed
because the sky sulks.

I was too tired for anything complicated for dinner so I got us a Marks and Spencer Lasagne al Forno, which I hope had the meat of several fawns in it.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Avatar (n) A Peruvian form of bitumen, composed of the crushed bodies of Gardner beetles (Dactylopius Avagardnerus). Gardner beetles were discovered in the Nineteen Forties by Hollywood actress Ava Gardner, who often spent her spare time in Peru, classifying insects and cage-fighting with nuns.

vodka and monsters
wetherspoons. three ninety-nine,
and then ‘avatar’.

After two double Smirnoff and Monsters (Monster being the new Red Bull, or, as far as I could tell, the old Red Bull called something else) the Ugly One and I donned our 3-D specs for ‘Avatar’ at the Shepherds Bush Vue.
It was marvellous, despite the fact that the lead female character looks like a blue Katie Price. I was particularly impressed that the US produced a film blatantly demonstrating the US tendency to muscle in on other cultures when there might be a profit in it. Particularly telling was the phrase from the brutal American general, ‘We will fight Terror with Terror!’ which has the strong and repellent whiff of George Bush about it.
The 3-D was outstanding, and this is probably the first film that uses 3-D intelligently rather than a gimmick. I did have to laugh at the use of the word ‘Unobtainium’ which is a phrase coined many decades ago in SF circles to describe those rare metals which the heroes of the works of authors such as John W Campbell and EE ‘Doc’ Smith used to discover on far flung planets, and which could not be found anywhere else.
Rather than hand them back, I kept my 3-D glasses. I paid for them. They are mine.

Monday 18 January 2010

Oology (n) The study of exclamations of awe.

people make demands
I am glad I’m not famous.
I’d be found in shreds.

Days of Our Lives is going through a spooky phase following the murder of pensioner-cop Abe Carver. Residents are plagued by the voices of children singing nursery rhymes with bad lyrics, and a Blood Moon hangs over Salem shedding a crimson luminance so bright one could almost imagine it was a studio light with a red filter on it.

Sunday 17 January 2010

Drench (n) A wooden device of the Gwent area of Wales, used for excavating and cleaning the nasal passages.

my chicken rendang
did not look like the picture.
cookery books lie.

London Transport have seen fit to close my local tube lines this weekend so I could not venture far. I therefore went to Morrisons and to the local cut-price bookshop which has opened recently in Shepherds Bush precinct following the demise of Books Etc.
I bought a book which promised me one hundred and eighty wok recipes, and set about making Chicken Rendang.
Although it looked nothing like the picture in the book, which shows something akin to some portions of Kentucky Fried Chicken, it tasted luvverly. Its appearance was somewhat like porridge, and I am baffled as to how the recipe can end up with what it is supposed to look like on the page. Having looked at some pictures online, my Rendang looks far more like those than the one in the book. I suspect that the authors may have used some Kentucky Fried Chicken in the absence of the proper dish.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Saturday 16 January 2010

Shannara (n) A mythical world where the gullible are tricked by magical means into reading the same story over and over and over again….

then there was the rain
it colours the whole picture.
a soaked tree glistened.

We have started a book club down in the secret government bunker, and the management of this has devolved to me, which is OK, as I can veto the rubbish books.
My choice so far, which my victims will have to read in May, is ‘The Day of The Triffids’ since I am keen to introduce people to real Science Fiction, rather than the Space Opera pap they peddle on the skiffy channel.
Those who know me know that I am an SF junkie and devour books with the same voracious saliva-raged fervour as Kerry Katona in a pasty eating contest.
I like to read the Award Winners when I can. If I had to try and categorise them, the Arthur C Clarke Award is most like the Booker Prize, whereas the Philip K Dick Award is more like the Turner Prize. The Nebulas and Hugos can be compared to the Baftas and the Oscars. Now and again you get a veteran writer getting an award for a book that may have sold well but was probably a sequel to something written forty years ago.
Then there’s the Locus Award which is voted for by the general public (democracy in these matters is never a good idea) and can be related to the TV Quick Award more than anything else. As with some other awards it incorporates fantasy novels, and invariably has a Terry Pratchett title in the finalists and something along the lines of ‘The [insert name of weapon, royal title, piece of jewellery or item of clothing] of Shannara’ (Vol IV of VII). It seems that any excuse for a Shannara novel will do. The latest one is about as asphalter who is called upon to fight the Dark Lord and is called ‘The Tarrer of Shannara.’
Further suggestions for ‘Shannara’ titles are welcomed.
Apart from the Locus TV Quick Awards, most of them do a good job in picking out the best, based on the criteria of the award. The Philip K Dick Award, for instance, goes to the best novel which went straight to paperback (since much of Dick’s early work was published in paperback with no hope at the time of a hardback edition) and often brings up a quirky selection.
This month, our book club selection is ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe, and is as far from SF as Katie Price is from a dictionary.
It is the story of Okonkwo, a Nigerian of the Nineteenth Century, a hardworking man of tradition, who is faced with alarming changes to his family and culture when European missionaries set up camp in his village.
I enjoyed it enormously.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Friday 15 January 2010

Homicide (n) A chemical developed by The Christian Right designed to kill gay weeds.

and a fat carmen
sang from a strong balcony
to her fat lover.

When one embarks on egosurfing, i.e. typing one’s own name into a search engine, one should employ discretion in analysing the results.
For instance, apart from the fact that I am apparently both a classical singer and the captain of the England Polo Team, I appear to have been cast as the central figure in the novel ‘Shadows of The Moon Dancing’ by Jim Green, the blurb of which tells me that:-

‘Roddy Williams must hide from the gangsters who have put a contract on his life. His grandfather, a retired Chicago homicide detective sends him to live with a friend and onetime partner who owns a trading post near the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.
Roddy becomes involved in the lives, history, and legends of three different cultures. Can he survive the intercultural conflicts plus the ancient curse that surround his new environment and still keep secret his hiding place?’

I don’t know, but I’ll try my best to do so. I’ve got some experience of intercultural conflicts, but I’ve not so far had to cope with ancient curses.
Talking of ancient curses, Ivana Trump has been remarkably lively and spry in the BB house for a woman of her age, especially considering the additional weight of her unfeasibly huge ears.
This evening the public evicted Katia, the girl who fell for 62 year old Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, not for his money, but due solely to his good looks and irresistible personality and charm. Also evicted was Heidi Fleiss, the ex-brothel keeper who now breeds parrots for hopefully non-sexual purposes.