Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Red Handed

Shoppers wait for H&M in Regent Street, London, to open

Schadenfreude - don't you love it?

Here's a pic from last Friday's Guardian G2.

One of my colleagues had the dentist on Thursday morning, so would be late into work. Except, when she was meant to be at the dentist she was pictured for the Guardian article queuing for Matthew Williamson's eagerly awaited range for H&M which was launched last Thursday in London.

Ouch!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hey Mr DJ

It started so simply. A rendezvous at St Pancras Eurostar for a quick trip to Paris...only to find mon C had booked tickets for a month hence. Right place, wrong time.



Not to let it put a downer on us, we hot-footed it to Hoxton (just round the corner from home) for drinks and dinner.

Neighbour Watch

I had received an email from our downstairs neighbour earlier in the day advising that new tenants were moving in (in place of the ladies who munch, who had moved out under a cloud it seems).

Mon C told me over drinks how he had bumped into them earlier when they were moving in. The guy, he told me, had "decks". Oh dear. Thump, thump, thump.

After our cocktails and beer, we headed of to Saf, but were laughed at when we said we didn't have a reservation. So, instead we went to the Diner where I had a Dixie beer to Xfe's Lone Star. I also had chilli cheese fries. Feel those arteries fur up.

When we got home the new neighbours were outside drinking.

"Hi," I heard them say to Xfe, "we're having a bit of a flatwarming."

"Great," said I popping my head round the corner. "We'll be down in 10 minutes".

Once inside I phoned Seb and Fred (the neighbours with the lucky balls) to see if they were up for it. F. was not, but S. certainly was even though, as I learned later, F. had told him not to get too friendly with them "just in case..."



I said to Xfe we'd just stay for a quick one. 4 hours later we were back home. For some strange reason mon C seems a little slower and less communicative this morning. He even muddled his bath oils, using lavender instead of sage.

Seb, it transpires this morning, is in Fred's bad books....

The New Neighbours

All will be revealed later...Let's just say we have an imminent trip to egg on comps coming soon. And I don't even like clubbing.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hey Fag

So, is it insulting and offensive to call a gay friend a fag?

I seem to have caused a friend great offence by texting a friend, "Hey fag! What's up?"

He simply texted me back to say that he understood that "fag" was a derogatory term, wishing me a good weekend. Full stop.

Of course it is. Buy I'm comfortable to tell my gay friends when I'm being such a fag (for example after a few glasses of pop after dinner when wanting us all to sing show tunes). Equally I'll tell them not to be such a fag when they're being over prissy about gym-buffing or skin care.

My own view is that while typically it is an insult, gay-to-gay use can be an appropriate, good-humoured put-down. It allows us to take the power out of the real insult. I certainly wouldn't be happy for a straight friend or other to suggest I was being a fag. Equally I wouldn't take kindly to some stranger calling me a queer. Yet, how often do I hear gay guys telling each other not to be such a queer? Is fag really any worse?

So, perhaps it was inappropriate. At the very least I could have been more sensitive to how I thought my friend might react. Even though I did intend it as slightly crass humour to raise a smile.

What troubles me is why a good friend would, at the end of the day, think that I wanted to insult him?

foto by findlay - http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotos_by_findlay/

Saturday, April 18, 2009


This is the view from our lunch table over the Old Course at St Andrews.

Lunch At Old Course



Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Porcelain Project

Last night we were at the Barbican to see some experimental dance-The Porcelain Project, presented by Grace Ellen Barkey & Needcompany.



This YouTube clip endures 4:55; last night we endured almost 90 minutes without interval. Part of our 2009 summer of culture programme.

The Belgian dance company's presentation starts with a table of stacked porcelain shuddering, the fragile white pieces falling to the floor-a bleak homage to the recent L'Aquila earthquake tragedy*.

Soon we hear the chime of procelain pieces as the artists, coutured in white porcelain body parts, clash against smaller fragile pieces. This brings us to realise that the smashing procelain first presented was in fact representative of the innocence lost by the Belgian children who suffered at the hands of the notorious Belgian paedopile ring, an incident only recently brought to a close with the jailing of Marc Dutroux.

The dancers reveal the wounds still hiding beneath the scars, recently brought to the surface by the painful "secret" intelligence claiming Madeleine McCann was snatched to order by a Belgian paedophile ring.

The small, chiming white porcelain pieces echoing the voices of the lost Belgian children, as fragile as the pieces displayed on stage themselves, their innocence lost as easily as the porcelain would shatter.

Then, with two male dancers intertwined as the separate halves of a whole, the Flemish supported troupe addressed the Belgian nationalistic divide between the walls and the oons, the phegm and the ish as we hear of a "king without a kingdom", before descending into an orgy of porcelain f**king.

We witness a porcelain phallus strapped between a dancer's leg, reminding us both of the power and fragility of manhood and bringing us to question if we are as innocent as the smooth, white uncorrupted yet fragile porcelain suffered on stage by the dancers; equally obstructive and beautiful.

Like I heard the guy behind me saying at the end as we left our seats, " I really liked that".



Still, the guy in the long skirt had the most amazing eyes...

*a really clever touch-The Porcelain Project was first presented in 2007, almost 2 years before the earthquake.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Cooking

Did you like my cooking?



On Sunday I made a rosemary, lemon and garlic roast chicken with roast potatoes and garlic-fried steamed green beans (actually, Xfe did those).

This was followed with bread and cheese (well, we are French; mon C naturally and me by marriage). No wine.

But what to do with the leftovers...

Well, first a frittata which Xfe prefers cold - like this:



It was made from the left-over chicken meat and the roast potatoes, medium-sliced.



Take 6 eggs, and beat. Add seasoning (I still have some Old Bay seasoning, which adds a unique extra tang to any dish). Assemble the sliced potato and shredded chicken in a small shallow frying pan, pour in the beaten egg, and cook. Finish in the oven.

And then a laska.



I took the carcass of the chicken and boiled it for 40 mins. The lemon, herb and garlic infused skin added depth to the flavour. The lemon you see was stuffed inside it's cavity to keep it moist.



Once it was cool I stripped it of the meat it had left, sieving the stock which I put aside. Then I diced the bacon I'd used to keep the chicken moist while it was roasting.

Next I reduced the stock before adding finely chopped shallot, the chicken, the bacon. I added some fish sauce, soy sauce and the hottest chilli paste that I've ever had. This one has ginger and mango. It's from La Reunion.



Ouch, I promise - it will blow your head off.

My laska will have the coconut milk and noodle added just before I'll eat it.

In between I made a banoffee pie. These are my ingredients.



Hence the coconut milk (for extra toffee sauce, which I'm stirring furiously above) I can use for laska. Mon C thought the former delicious-the pie and the sauce. I prefer savoury, he loves sweet. Which is why I made it for him...




The end:



Well, not quite. I still have left over. This is the coconut milk (left) and the premier cru chicken stock in jelly form (right) which I'll freeze in ice-cube portions and use when I need it.



In the meantime I'm having a glass of champagne. But it's not just any champagne. It's M&S half-price champagne.



Half price 'cos you only get 2 glasses from it. Usually I get 4, though Xfe tells me in France they get between 6-8!!!!

Hope you had a happy Easter.

Monday, April 13, 2009

All About Meat

Today I'm making Xfe banoffee pie, using this recipe. I've been brought up to rely on the BBC.

Earlier, I thought I was going to faint watching something found on the internet that is compulsive and repulsive. In the end the repulsion outweighed compulsion, and I couldn't finish watching it.

I had to walk away from the computer.

Later I googled to see if there was any urban-legend myth to it (like the exploding office chair).

Unfortunately in only 2-clicks I found something far more grisly and disturbing. I almost fainted.

I don't consider myself squeamish, but this was nauseating. I thought that I was going to puke and I've felt sick ever since and retched a couple of times. The image is in my head. I can't undo it.

Yet, I'm drawn to watch some more-reading accounts of the video I didn't even get to the worst part; why?

Perhaps it's all about meat.

Yesterday I roasted a chicken with a rosemary, lemon and garlic paste I'd made as a marinade. I rubbed this under it's skin before covering with streaky bacon and leaving overnight.

At my parents I had to semi-prep a couple of rabbits that a neighbour had given them. They were already skinned and gutted, though the giblets were still intact and inside. I had to get rid of those. I also had to deal with some intestine.

That was all rather unpleasant. I'd never had rabbit, and I don't think I will again...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Stovepipe

Stovepipe

Last night we went to see Stovepipe, a National Theatre production in the shopping venue West 12 in Shepherd's Bush.

It's an indoor promenade performance; audiences observe Iraqi mercenaries fighting it out whilst being guided through five-star hotel bars, seedy brothels, and war-torn desert landscapes.

In it the audience are witness to the action. We are the congregation at Christopher "Griff" Griffiths In Memorian service, and find ourselves singing Bread of Heaven.

Cast included Shaun Dooley.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

We Are Returned

Adidas Super 14 Jersey Swap - possibly the gayest straight thing you've ever seen? Just continue down to the bottom of this post and you'll see what I mean...

Can you tell what it is yet?


We're back from our mini-break visiting my parents in the Howe of the Mearns, which is Lewis Grassic Gibbon country.

It was a nice, relaxing break. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, visiting my parents' is a complete antidote to a stressful life in London.

It's great to rediscover some of my favourite home things that I don't find here, such as delicious butteries (aka rowies, Aberdeen rolls*) for breakfast:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2384/2322207602_cd4796eab9_b.jpg

and this other delicacy from the baker. Can you tell what it is?



Yup, it's a macaroni pie. Yum!




Aberdeen City*I've always said to Xfe that a rowie tastes like a flattened croissant. I'm not alone-the well known food writer Theodora Fitzgibbon pointed out butteries are practically the same, apart from the shape, as the ordinary French breakfast croissant.

Aberdeen Butterie Rowies

Ingredients: 1 lb flour; 1 oz yeast or 1/2 tablesp dried yeast; 1 tablesp sugar; 8 oz butter; 4 oz lard; 3/4 pt tepid water; a pinch of salt.

All utensils should be warm before starting. Makes about 15.

Method: Mix the sifted flour and salt into a basin, then cream the yeast with the sugar. When it has bubbled up add it to the flour with the water, which must be blood heat only. Mix well, cover and set in a warm place until double the bulk, about thirty minutes. Cream the butter and lard together and divide into three. Put the dough on to a floured board and roll out into a long strip. Put the first third of fats in dots on to the top third of the pastry strip and fold over like an envelope, as if making flaky pastry. Roll out, and do this twice more until all the butter mixture is used up. Then roll out and cut into small oval shapes ( or small rounds ). Put on to a floured baking sheet with at least 2 in. between each one to allow for spreading. Cover, as above, and leave to rise for three-quarters of a hour, then bake in a moderate to hot oven ( 375 degrees - 400 degrees/ Gas mark 5 - 6 ) for 20 minutes.

Stovepipe

This evening we're off to see Stovepipe, a National Theatre production in the shopping venue West 12 in Shepherd's Bush.

It's an indoor promenade performance; audiences observe Iraqi mercenaries fighting it out whilst being guided through five-star hotel bars, seedy brothels, and war-torn desert landscapes.

En route we're going to take our own stand against a possible UK al-Qaeda terror plot by shopping this afternoon at Westfield, conveniently located for the play this evening.

Art imitating life, kind of...

In the meantime

Just how gay is this?

If you don't believe me, well go figure "slo-mo replay"!

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Tree - 4 April

Today my firm made more people redundant.

For those of us still in employment they are offering sabbaticals for a minimum of 6 months at 10% pay, with a guaranteed job on return. Otherwise there is an enforced pay cut - of at least 3.85% - though in return we get 2 "extra" weeks' holiday.

Which I'm taking as a second summer holiday, in St. Tropez with mon C and his parents!

Tomorrow we're heading up north to not-so-sunny Scotland. We fly from Heathrow T5, which gives me an excuse to save as I spend; a brand new MacBook at duty free prices.

But these are difficult times and in recognition I'm just away to open a bottle of half-price pop; though this is not just any half-price champagne, this is M&S half-price champagne.

In the meantime some things remain constant. Here is the tree as at 4 April.



You can see it 1 week earlier here.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Someone Left My Cake Out In The Rain



Last Saturday we saw the new-to-London musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

It has the most gratuitous and pointless moment of theatre that I have EVER had the joy of witnessing. I couldn't help but cheer when, dressed up as green cup-cakes with all the confectionery trimmings, the chorus boys' candles mounted on top of their heads lit up as they spun around following up Jason Donovan's prelude to MacArthur Park.

High drama, deep meaning? Absolutely not. It's done simply because Donna Summer sang it and they can dress it! Just play 38 seconds into this....


Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again


Isn't that the most amazing and pointless disco-lyric ever? How could you not cheer green-dancing disco cup-cakes? Fabulous!

The musical has had mixed reviews all round. There's a less than enthusiastic review from The Independent.

Priscilla is gloriously gay and high camp from the moment you enter the Palace Theatre; they sell cocktails in glasses that light up in rainbow colours; on-stage the non-stop swirl of costumes (there simply because they can) are fabulously OTT.

Jason Donovan is adequate. Tony Sheldon as Bernadette gives a meaningful yet subtly understated performance. The songs are predictable. There's not much desert, and the bus prop is no doubt as high maintenance as former matinee idol, and now buff boy, Oliver Thornton's Felicia.

Dripping gratuitous, toned chorus-boy flesh, diva-disco numbers and winning wigs, there's an obvious gay audience. But gay or not, young or old, the entire audience were well up for an OTT night of feel-good fun.

Priscilla is a celebration of stuff that is good to be gay. If you want to see a musical with meaning, then see something else, but if glorious gaiety is up your street then Priscilla's your main man.

And I want one of these costumes for fancy dress!

http://blog.calsun.canoe.ca/mediam/priscilla.jpg

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Financial Fools' Day

Today, Wednesday 1st April, has the feel of an almost historic day.

The sun shone brightly in the morning. I was in no rush to get to the office in the City, given that we were facing the challenge of the G20 protesters. I didn't shave and I didn't wear my suit.

I usually walk to work in the morning; past Old Street, sometimes down Moorgate, otherwise past the Barbican and Barbican tube station and Smithfield Market, then onto Holborn Circus.

Along the route I passed by only 21 people in suits. The majority of City workers were wearing jeans and trainers. Then how there were so many badly dressed middle-aged men, who really didn't quite know what to wear to work outside a suit.

Some pictures from the protests in the City, though the crowd were moving on as I was passing through...

securing Paternoster
Securing Paternoster Square, where the Stock Exchange is.

DSC04573

police rush
Riot police rush to another location.

riot police

Tesco
Even protesters must eat...

Tesco lunch
Though the irony of protesting against globalisation and shopping in Tesco is lost on these protesters.

DSC04583

Against this, we have the optimism of Obama's visit (the last, great hope for the future).

In the city



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