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.