Saturday, 28 February 2009

la latte continue: Summer of Rage?

la latte continue
Originally uploaded by bltphoto

Frothy Politics are over?

I was joking recently about the lack of protest about the messed up state of things and some of my friends rightly said this wasn't necessary a good thing.

I think the problem is we've yet to work out what world we want .

Why support the property market when it was bizarre unaffordable joke?

Why help support making cars when we are not sure we want to buy loads of stuff on credit? and as for pensions for bankers well.

The problems seems to be summed up in the slogans our jokey email exchange produced. Oh and the wonderful graphic our S knocked up he's a clever beggar, the sort we need more of to work out what to?


"what do we want, we want to go back to loads of cheap credit so we can get even further up to our eyes in debt buying big tellies, cheap bags from matalan and ready meals, when do we want it now"

"no taxation without relocation, relocation"

"give me freeview or give me Davina"

So what's the best way forward?

Friday, 27 February 2009

The final countdown: The MasterChef Final
Flavour, flavour, flavour....

Blimey that was tense, and frankly speaking a quite brilliant programme.It would have been an excellent food programme even if it wasn’t the final.
Seeing inside the top restaurants was fascinating, I’m amazed at how open these chefs are. They don’t need the publicity the hassle of filming entails (as they booked up months in advance), there can be only a couple reasons they agree to it. The power of the those 3 magic letters B.B.C or just maybe even Michelin starred chefs are obsessed to see if Sports Pr from Swindon can sear tuna properly!

By the end the final had come down really to Mat or Andy. I think sadly Chris was just too inexperienced. There are only so many meals you can eat in 25 years of life and every year the others had over him gave them 600 plus more chances of gaining that extra bit edge on him. Chris should pack his rucksack and travel the world as commis chef; he’ll be fine I’m sure.

Next up came Andy the producers really wanted me to hate him adding one last titbit to put me off he’s a North Londoner! But cooking the tuna dish in Spain with an entire 3 star restaurant literally watching him (did you see that even the waiters where leaning in to check him out!) took some courage and even though Andy used the term “I’m completely bouffed” by the end I had finally warmed to him, he was is a very skilful cook.

Lastly Mat who almost lost my support with the producers insist on telling us again his “journey” but the cooking he did in Copenhagen looked amazing. I don’t normally fancy these hyper stylised dishes but the skate and the steak tartare he cooked looked delicious.

I sort of knew he was ahead when they played one favourite tunes by Moby “god moving of the face of the waters" over shots of him on the dock in Copenhagen. I’m sure doing your tax returns would look heroic and inspiring with that sort backing.

So it was down to final 3 courses and it was genuinely tense, Chris’ dishes just weren’t sharp enough and poor old Andy stumbled (forlorn like Steve Ovett being passed by Seb Coe on the last corner) destined for another silver medal.

So Mat just won through with some incredible food, the only bum note to my mind was the chips with the spider crab chowder but the whole thing looked fantastic; he’s a deserved winner.

Post Prandial thoughts
Obviously weekday evening at 8 are going to be a bit empty for while now. I think this was best series of MasterChef I’ve seen. This brings me to a few last points. I think by the final the contestants had almost outclassed their judge’s knowledge. I think that the cooking was almost beyond the experience of Gregg and possibly even John (and this may heresy) they may need to get some guest judges in to help decide. Gregg was wonderful almost lost for words by the end and you could tell John was moved by how far the 3 lads had come.

Which leads me to my final point: reality TV gets slagged off a lot (and I’ve done my share of carping) but I think the difference with programmes like Masterchef and perhaps Celebrity come dancing is that unlike X factor or “come dime with me” you get to see people excel to do something you can’t do and do it beautifully. X factor and its ilk are about chav baiting, watching people mess up, belittle themselves (there is a hint of this in the early rounds of MC) and the winners normal aren’t sublimely skilled. But on Masterchef and the odd other shows like the young musicians show on BBC2 you see people get improve and achieve amazing things. And everyday people achieving excellence must something worth celebrating.

TV doesn’t get better than this.

Normal service will be resumed shortly.

There was these two Irishmen a Frenchman & Englishman in a trench in Ypres......

D, B&S It was pleasure as ever.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

The 16 Million pound question

The great carrot & stick, arse & elbow ID problem.

Scene: The Interior of a large Tudorbethan home in St George’s Hill Surrey

Man with weird eyebrows is nervously talking to a very rich man who’s not very good at his job.
“I say old chap would you mind awfully giving back the 16,000,000 quid we gave you?”

Very rich man who’s not very good at his job.

Man with weird eyebrows
“Ok, that fine, just thought I’d ask. Shan’t bother you again, I’m just off to send a summons to someone who’s 80 quid in arrears with their council tax, I’ll leave you to that lovely big cream bun your eating oh and is that my wife....”

Burleigh believable:

Penultimate MC Update: Almost at the final fence with Masterchef and it's a stampede of poshness as Matt, Andy and Chris have to cook for show jumping fans at 3 day event. They even have to cook for Zara Philips to mind the Chav Princess with her so posh she can barely talk accent and bad bleached hair she never comes over well. I know she's a world champion sportswoman oddly though in a sport that after the grand prix, the Americans cup and diamond throwing requires shed loads of cash (can't think where she gets here talents from)

Anyway cooking 200 hundred perfectly fancy "boudaful plates of food" is impressive and it almost went pear shaped for all of them. In the end even Zara P seemed impressed. Wouldn't you be tempted to serve the royals layers of gossamer pasta with tiny pea puree hidden at the bottom!

MC question of the day: Is anyone else getting slightly creeped out by Chris' neck beard? It looks kind of itchy and wrong!

The teardrop explodes?: next up the really hardcore test, cooking for 8 16 starred Michelin chefs; this round is always astonishing with the contestants virtually going from zero skills to full on head chef in a day. Matt made these sort of Heston style chocolate tear drops encased in glucose that seemed to defy the laws of physics. I felt a bit sorry for Chris as his dish seemed over complicated and I'm never sure of savoury dishes with liquorice in them.

The scenes at the end after where contestants were filmed seemingly in shock were actually very moving the camera lingering almost too long on even posh Andy who looked totally spent.

So the final is almost here! All sensible people want Matt to win but even beardy Chris is finishing strongly!

One Last thing:
So what sort of fancy Masterchef tea are you going to have tonight? You should have something at bit special to celebrate don't you think? I may go for some good chicken with some fancy greens of some kind or maybe something with saffron in it.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Which side are you on?

The Genius of Don Mcphee:
After seeing this masterful shot again, I wrote a long post about my whole experience of the miner’s strike and how it affected community and people I grew up in and with but then I realised what I’d written was half formed bile at best ! Particularly when Don Mcphee picture tells the story much better than me. Go here and read the story of the two main characters and if it doesn’t move you well you are David Cameron and we’ll know which side you are on the..... wrong one.

Common as MC.

Of Cabbages and Kings* : Master Chef Update

It’s been said that I’ve become obsessed with the class undertones of this year’s Masterchef well that may be the case but then they go and film at Buckingham bleeding Palace home of Britain's least favourite family what’s a dirty trot like me to do.

The lickspittles and forelock tuggers who work for Lizzy and her brood eat fairly well it seems, even if they do it in contravention of the labour laws! We know this as one of the liveried 3rd Toadies of the back stairs claimed only to be allowed 15 mins for lunch so Matt and the MCboys had better pull their fingers out. Of course the Queen is exempt from most laws as well as being tight so adequate breaks for middle age men who are still called a Page is not surprising (obviously Charlie boys toothpaste won’t squeeze it’s self).

The food the MC crew knocked up looked like not too bad high end canteen fare, less apes, peacocks and ivory more grilled fish, ratatouille and sweet corn!!!

Good news on the Chris front as he did well and posh boy Andy who obviously would much prefer to be up stairs with his snooty mates than spud bashing in kitchen with the 4th under-postillion of the Corgi Kennel floundered somewhat.

More posh people to cook for tomorrow hurrah!

Couple more things tonight I know reality shows aren’t real but you really don’t need to cross the river twice to get from MC HQ to the palace!

Oh and Gregg Wallace is a Millwall fan.

Flippin' excellent: The chez BLTP Pancake Day menu in the end was spinach, bacon, mushrooms and cheese filling and to follow some of excellent Xmas marmalade! And the secret: Nigella’s recipe (with an extra egg added) and a nice brand-new pan!

* Queen surely? Ed.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Black Forest Watch

Mac MC Update:

Off to chilly jockland for the obligatory cooking with army sketch in MasterChef tonight.
Contestants always seem to make a big deal of this sort thing tonight McPosh Womble Andy was floundering obviously he was less of backpacker than perhaps we first thought used to the "not so rough guide" it seems as he didn't like tins of "standard meat for the use of "and K rations.

It's strange because arguably in Scouts is one of the places where I (and my brothers) learnt to cook. We did cook bits of food at home but fending for ourselves at camp was a great laugh and excellent training. We were fortunate to have a proper leader "Skip" who pulled strings and got us a campsite where we could cook on fires and chop down tree etc.

He also insisted we ate well so we ate cornbeef hash, cooked breakfasts and steamed bread and butter puddings etc most of which we cooked ourselves for our patrol.

On one memorable occasion we had to build a platform 15 feet up a tree and cook a meal there! So a few peckish squaddies wouldn't be that much of challenge you just need to bash enough spuds and make enough custard.

After the field test it was back to the barracks where this time Chris floundered making posh snap for what the programme called officers but I think were NCO's (not that it matters to anyone but the Army).
Anyway this was to my mind flawed "team challenge". Flawed because until now it's been dog eat dog and so to expect contestants to work together is a bit odd (even though it's the basis of professional cheffing)
Sadly Chris wasn't bossy enough and Andy took over but the army boys didn't notice and gave their rather muted approval by banging on table.

Tomorrow it's off to the palace!

"Baking doesn't get any batter than this"

I must introduce and thank my own personal masterchefs whilst up in Yorkshire last week I was fed really well (as usual) by my Bros, who having families have an excuse to bake endless goodies.

Our A made a variety of his famous eponymous biscuits this time half dipped in chocolate. These were an exercise in precision and restraint and went too quickly to photograph. Whilst our S went all Nigellla on us and produced this here wonderfully over top birthday cake (it's on the cusp of camp don't you think ) for one of my nephews .

I'm sure John might have scoffed a little (he's rarely fulsome in his praise) but t'old Gregg would have disappeared in pool of drool... good work fellas!

Lastly Pancake Tuesday:
Are you having Pancakes tomorrow?
If so what to put on 'em lemon & sugar, nutella, cheese, marmite?

Hello Mrs Erskine is your Gizzi in....

Marvelous name of the day: Gizzi Erskine

Who apparently is a foodwriter & tv presenter (author of “eat y’self fittahhh! sorry that should be thin) who clearly didn’t go to a northern comprehensive in the 1980’s with name like that (she clearly can’t have done because according to her website she’s 29, longest 10 years of your life that 29th show biz year......).

Here favourite meal apparently is a sausage sandwich, nurse the screens!

This must the best Fall song ever, well today anyway and a ludicrously literal video as well hurrah !

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Have you done your homework?!

Tales from Sunday evening: “the secret reader”

On the way home the other day I was sat diagonally across from a youngish woman; a slightly serious looking type with the shoulder length dark hair with the odd grey fleck . She had on a long dark coat and one of those shiny “ethnicy” scarves with flecks of gold in it. Anyway the only thing that really stood out about her was she was reading a slim book which seemed to be a mountain biking catalogue. She didn’t look the cycling sort and the book cover looked odd, it looked chopped up. Trying not to stare I worked out that the book she was reading was backed with the pages from a cycling catalogue.

Of course now I was really intrigued: what sort of book would need covering? Was it precious? Was it a secret diary? Was it a soon to published best seller being kept under “wraps”? Or maybe it was just smut! We’ll never know she seemed quite engrossed so it probably wasn’t about mountain bike spares.

It was peculiar I haven’t seen a backed book since well, when one of our tedious homework duties was to back our text/work books. Of course being horribly diligent I use to take care with mine where most people just chucked any old wallpaper on (wood chip was good for picking at in class) I would choose an attractive Image.

The one at the top to my shame is the cover of Rampage (starring the Daring Defenders) weekending 2 Nov 1977. In which seemingly “Surfer! Hulk! Namor! None of you will survive... The death of Warrior wizard!”

Sadly I hadn’t heard about Guy Debord yet in 1R so I didn’t have the gumption to back my books in sandpaper so it would slowly destroy my classmates work!

Anyway thought it was appropriate it being Sunday evening the classic time for homework. Even now we all seem to have some to do on even if it’s just unloading the washing machine or making lunch for tomorrow. Anyway hope you had a good weekend and let’s hope this week is full of adventure and surprises. Take care and if you haven’t finished your HW by now you can always do it on the bus on the way to sch....

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Ahh! Saturday!

Great Gregory!?

Not sure I'll find owt as wonderful as this this weekend, it's possibly the greatest distance between the marvelousness of a record sleeve and the shoddiness of the music contained there in! But who cares when you've got Gina!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Train in vain an ongoing series.

The Eeyore of public transport returns:
I'll get back to the fluff of competitive cooking and hot tunes later honest.

The paper today has an editorial about train fares it's rather odd in tone as it sort of denigrates railways as a "middle class luxury" like the Opera and then praises them. I am in support of most of what they have to say, shame they don't put some of the blame on to the present government for not sorting out the mess of privatisation or to invest in public transport in a meaningful way. I'm half with them when they say commuter care more about seats and reliability but train aren't luxury whatever they may think.

I was talking (sorry ranting) about all this the other day after having to pay an extra 70 quid when the Midland(may they rot in atheist hell) Mainline's ticket machine refused my debit card (it's boring annoying story*) and after a weekend of closed overland services, closed tube networks and stations, my regular over crowded morning commute the situation is clear.

Public transport in Britain is never going to get better.

I've been using public transport (I had a mini for 10 mins in 1990!) all my adult life and all we've done is swap one set of problems for another. I rarely do a long distance journey that doesn't have some problem, delayed trains, overcrowding, maintenance work, overpriced tickets, no buffet, late running, horrible stations, cancelled trains.

On my way to work today my train was delayed by 9 mins, not a life time but time I won't get back and which I could of used to do more work, eat my muesli more slowly, shout at thought for the day etc.

Tonight on the way home the bus I get will have a takeaway box full of gnawed chicken bones smeared in ketchup dumped over the back seat, the constantly being done up Cannon street station will have buckets collecting drips on it's slippy cracked floor, on the delayed train the seat next to mine will have it's cushion missing and we will wait in a crowded carriage outside London bridge station for five random minutes (a problem of congestion that's been going on at London bridge since oh 1840!).

I'll get off at New Cross next to the hoardings for the East London line extension which we'll be told in a few months isn't going to be finished on time and head out down the dank little side exit passed the regular ticket tout. None of this may happen but something else similar will. I should get a car and join the rest of Britain queuing outside Tescos or on the M62 to get into Ikea I suppose.

* oh and I got kicked in the head by a pair of walking boots on the same journey too!

Masterchef exclusive!!!*

The secret location of MasterChef HQ revealed**

Well a quick walk round the block and I can reveal the location of Gregg and John's lair.

Thanks to Russ for the tip off .Here is the photographic proof.

It makes sense though as it's just round the corner from JT's restaurant in Smithfield !

* well except to the 300 students who live there!
** and to the hundreds of people who work in the offices in the street!

Bastwick Street, London EC1.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Chris, Christopher, Crisis

MC Update: Little Dancing flavours:

I know I’ve been remiss in all this but I’m afraid firing rockets, being daft with my smaller relatives and eating top cakes (see later).

Tonight’s final of the semi finals only had one aim for me that was that someone called would Chris get into the final and Ideally posh backpacker Andy would be slung out with his backpack and rough guides into the veg peelings and fish bones.

The semis have definitely moved onto FOOD, so sending the 4 finalist to restaurants to challenge their skills was good. Having a master class in Japanese food or Poulet bresse would be ace. So lamb was trussed and samphire steamed , sadly one Chris (the Greek Londoner father of two) was a bit out of his depth but came round the others battle against fancy dressings and harsh but fair head chefs.

Back in Masterchef HQ (more which later) they did their own versions of what they’ve learnt and finally enter the critics.....

Charles Campion, Kate Spicer and of course everybody's favourite celeb cyberstalker Jay “I’ve never even set foot in Clapham honest” Rayner.

Timings the thing here and sadly things got away for old Chris and Mat (father of 3) but sadly not smarmy Andy who probably ended a head of the rest with prissy north African fare. Thankfully Christopher’s (youngish no kids yet) Pear Tartin had the critics drooling so he stayed and Mat’s dream of family fish restaurant continues.

It's a Mash Up:
Tonight was mash-tastic with it being served 4 or 5 times. It’s strange how mash has come back into fashion. As a kid it was just mash we never really had bangers and mash in the way it’s big thing now, it was always sausage bean and chips in our house. Now a days it almost a religion back then it was what you had for tea.

PS: Is a Masterchef Family Guy mash up anyone elses idea of Tv heaven?..

he eats like a Welshman don't you think he eats like Welshman...

Hoyland we have a problem...

Watch this film:

To prove I do have better things to do that prattle on about BBC2 foodbased talent contests here's my lastest film.

I tried to post it on yourtube but warner music group censored it because
in a tribute to all the early 70's Apollo launch clips I watched as a kid, I used ELP's version of "Fanfare to the Common man". The sharp eyed of you will see that ELP made a healthy living out of robbing other peoples tunes and that FTC is actually by Aaron Copland who orginally borrowed it off the common man (probably) .
A further irony being that Copland enjoyed a healthy relationship with a "borrowing" tunes , using hymn tunes in "appalachian spring" and using traditional mexican tunes in his el salon mexico etc. It's not nicking if you nick from poor people or god! I am not impuning AC work here he's one of my favourite composers especially as his mexican stuff sounds like the theme from "the magnificent seven" I am just saying the music industry are knobs!

Anyway enjoy the film unless you work for WMG.

The films stars are a lot less bitter and more joyful than I and the slow motion bits are very pleasing and yes some of the camera shots are nicked from NASA but all their stuff is in the public domain so there!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Music , Music, Music.

Green Saturday?
Domestic tasks for Saturday am, followed by doing my re-cycling. After a trip to bottle bank it was down the market, the guy in the butchers was doing his part for the ozone layer by recycling his jokes! I went the extra mile (well quarter) and did some more re-cycling (buying second hand singles from charity shops, counts doesn’t it?)

For the price of a Coldplay LP download I got 3 cd LPs and 16 vinyl singles. Not a bad haul:
Here’s how they have enlightened and entertained me so far.

One of them has got that Nile Rodger’s guitar on it (and is a solid cold classic)
One of them has got George Melly and song about a tank on it.
One’s got a picture you can colour on it. Which rather wonderfully is on the back of a record which contains a version white horse the other side is a song about unicorns which are also white, so the picture was rather easy to colour in (I didn’t go over the edges or anything!)
One of them settles the long raging debate: who’s best Transvision vamp or Eighth Wonder?
One of them has a picture on the front that made me come over all unnecessary.
Another showed that if you play the Bangles at the wrong speed they sound like a slightly camp German house dance outfit.

The 7 ABC singles prove that record designers use to try harder at designing record sleeves, perversely when you consider how much faff graphic design was before Photoshop.
One of the ABC platters also proves that “SOS” is their worst single.
One of the haul (Tunnel of love of by Fun Boy Three) shows what a bunch of miseries they were!
The Lps. Are rather good, while I type I am finally listening to most of Hank William's recorded output. It’s taken me a while to warm to his voice. Of course I now want to go “Honky tonking”, it’s always sounds more genteel than binge drinking in Yates wine lodge. Also I sort of wish “Rooty Tooty” was my “Sunday gal” as well.

I haven’t listened to the Billy Preston cd yet but the compilation of Freakbeat London bands is good.
Especially the track below I always thought PP Arnold sounds like the author of bird watching guides.
“Is that a godwit or hedge sparrow?”
“I’m not sure, have you looked it up in PP Arnold?”
“ yeah but I wasn’t sure I’ll check it in Holland & Holland...”

I also got a copy of Merry Christmas Everyone by Slade because it had the picture sleeve, on which Noddy and the boys are all wearing red reindeer noses, Dave Hill’s makes him looks like a rabbit.

On the subject of Eighth Wonder and at the danger of getting drummed out of the indie boy & girls club they don’t sound that different from those dance remixes of Altered Images use to do. Yeah I know sacrilege but the sometimes the ears hear the truth that the heart seeks to conceal.
Oh listen Hanks now on the “Pan American Queen on the way to New Orleans......”

PP. Arnold Feat the Faces " (If you think you're)Groovy

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Heart Disease ?

Greggs will conquer all.....

Originally uploaded by bltphoto

Friday, 13 February 2009

Which ways the bar.......

That’ll be members of the media complaining about senior civil servants filling their boots on private sector corporate junkets and other examples of general free loading then? Can you really make any moral high ground out of a huge pile of volu vents, vats of free white wine, drifts of gratis preview tickets, Jumbo loads of free flights, belt buckle threatening schedules of lunches at the Ivy, traffic jams of black cab fares, limitless brown envelopes crammed with tickets for the World Cup, bulging trawler nets of prawn canapés at Wimbledon.....

Thursday, 12 February 2009

MC Update week 500!

It’s toasted, it’s nutty, it’s tasty, it’s sweet, it’s The MC quarter final.

What did we learn from today’s show?
Well the power of blogs! Was it me or did they the slightly posh tones of India knight utter the phrase “father of two...” this is in direct response to this blogs 10 minute campaign for sexual equality in the MC kitchen fact.

What else oh yes, how hard is it to cook breakfast?
I am liking this cooking breakfast test, most of the fancy Dans who enter MC don't see to able to make an omelette or grill a sausage, they’ve obviously spent too much time with couscous and tians of crab and not enough time in the cafe.
One lass Michelle had a hard time on the eggs Benedict and was put onto just scrambled by a head chef who sounded like the Wurzle’s roadie.

So after the "fire" of the 18 hr cooking test it was the cook off which after some liver, Pear and apple surprises (and a classic look from Gregg) it was won by Michelle with some classy far eastern spicing.

Masterchef quote of day:
“These are very, very, very big daddy veggies”
(Who else Gregg “turnip botherer” Wallace)

On to the final via the disappointing ambition test which winnowed down the pack further. Once the root veg was dissected Leaving posh backpacker Andy (no mention of any kids but there was that Ozy lass at the fullmoon party in Goa....), new mum Michelle and full time mum Rachel!

Andy knocked up some North African fare, Michelle more spicy Malaysian (?) dishes and putative deli owner Rachel British plates of food. I thought Andy had made a school boy error with his weedy looking rice pudding (one tip for Mc contestant never stray far these isles when it comes to puds) but it didn’t matter too much.
In the end Rachel went back to her dreams of a bistro and presumably well paid husband, teeth don’t whiten themselves after all!

And Michelle who had come back on the rails just missed out so Andy “I’ve always travelled I was born in Singapore” won out with his quail and pomegranate.
Next time it's the semis!

What else have we learnt ?
That the crystal voiced India fisher (that's her brooding at the top) use to be a Doctor's assistant and is linked to everyone’s favourite retro Sheff crooner Richard Hawley, her brother was in the Long pigs with RH.

Another thing we learnt: is that Masterchef HQ is somewhere near Moorgate in the city we may need to do some more detective work to track it down.

Scents and the city

I already have!
Originally uploaded by bltphoto

Urban Aromas:
Getting to work can be a pain unless you work from home and even that has it’s downsides I imagine If someone nicks your milk it’s probably the cat and you can’t leave pithy whiny notes for cats (not that they can’t read it’s just they have no shame). But anyway my Journey to work involves overcrowded trains and a needlessly slow bus journeys it’s not the worst journey though but it does have one particular torture a sweet one curiously. As you come out of the “eastern” exit of Cannon st. station there’s a warm blast of frying bacon. This is a full on drenching blast of smell not a distant whiff of Danepak or that dispersed steamy savoury café smell (both of which are good) this is you head in then pan next to the mushrooms and the popping and squeaking fried eggs aroma all fired through a jet engine. Not just a waft of hot ham but your entire head is enveloped in a hot salty bacon gust. It’s so strong you can also almost imagine the smell of crusty fresh cut bread and brown sauce and the warmth of the meal through the slightly squidgy bread......

And yes having had some muesli or some mornings nowt this makes me intensely hungry. This is all made worse by the fact that the source of this hot hammy blast is unidentifiable, there’s no immediate café or snack bar it must be from the canteen of the office block above. It should of course be banned by law for crimes against drooling commuters.

I now that some people favour the world of Aduki beans and mung bean paste but I’m sure such intense savouriness could even make Gillian Mckeith exude a small drop of salvia and the merest twitch of her shrew like nose. It’s like I say a sweet torture.

It’s opposite of the smell of the working men’s club next to our school bus stop years ago which was near the club extractor fan and was suffused with smell of stale sour beer and fags. Or the strangely grim smell of burning mutton that hangs around McDonalds or the sour stench of vinaigrette (?) that Subway reeks off.

Apart from the “ham’ornado of Gammon st. station”™ there’s the evocative floral waft outside Liberties, the crushed veg smell of the market and the sour chill of Neal’s yard dairy’s shop.

So what’s the best smell where you live? Let’s avoid the top of baby’s heads and the napes of people’s necks and stick to geographical scents shall we?

When Satellites attack!

Originally uploaded by bltphoto
It had to happen sometime the Russians have rear-ended an American satellite. It is pretty crowded up there! Amazingly the US firm who owns the communication Satallite has spare already up there to move into place which makes the extra packets fo post-its I keep in my desk draw look like fairly small beer.

The BBC seem to think that this is the site to go for Space Junk but as we know there is only once place for the arcana of earth orbit.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Man about town:

Don’t* it always seem to 12.
There’s no use complaining about things changing in London, “It will be (as I always say) nice when it’s finished” so I merely want to record how much the area round Centrepoint has changed recently. What with tosser Boris deciding to choose boring bland shops over sticky carpeted music venues when he makes space for Cross rail (BTW why would anyone want to get to Ealing any quicker?).

You can imagine his eyes lighting up with glee at the thought of posh flats for Tory voters, I imagine he got a congratulatory note from Shirley “convicted Gerrymanderer” Porter.
So the Astoria has gone but also my barbers across the road and the kebab shop on the corner (which use to be up TCR). But also the light shop on the corner of Shaftsbury avenue moved on and Virgin Zaavi is closing lets hope what comes after is as useful/interesting/musical/sticky.

Meetings I’ve missed:
Why is selling tangerines with bits of stalk attached now the norm?
Who the hell thought a “Pink panther 2” remake with “use to be funny” Steve Martin and “was never funny” Beyonce Knowles Edmonds would be a good idea?

Good news:
I saw Paul Gambuccini in the street just now and he informed that my tuna and olive salad bap was a definite hit and that it had been a hit with Gene Pitney in1965 and Alma Coggan 3 years early.

*My spellcheck wanted to change “Don’t” to “doesn’t” Bill Gates being less of a poet than Ms Mitchell!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Just POP(ping) ART for some evap luv........

Tip top tins?
Distinctive retro stylings but a whole can of worms (sorry) when it comes to the cultural resonance of these near opposite of Robinson jams dodgy icons.
Bet you don't get world geopolitics & Art & Design 101 in Tesco Metro!

Also has anyone ever made up normal milk from evap?

Article of the Day

Read This:
I must admit I don't always like George Monbiot's writing mainly because he comes over like the short of bloke who you'd dread to get caught in a corner with at a party, as he'd just go on and on. He seems a tad joyless and worthy, the sort who'd berate you for type of Humous you buy.

But fairs fair his piece in reply to Hazel Blears' recent crowing is a fine example of a journalistic shoeing. Blears called him out and has got a right royal pasting with a straightforward weapon : The plain facts of her voting record.

I almost felt sorry for her at the end as blow after blow fell. The shame is she's the sort priggish politician who won't notice this sort of thing and has motored through life with no self doubt or nere a sideways looks.

I'm not sure I'd want to live in a country where George was in charge but we will always need people like him to keep us honest

Monday, 9 February 2009

Coward way.

TV comedy:
Couple of things what do people think of the Cowards on BBC4. I can see what they are trying to do and I quite liked the smoking judges sketch but I didn't really laugh so basically a failure as a comedy show.

Still don't know why BBC3 didn't recommission "Pulling" a genuinely good sitcom that was cruel but daft full of recognizable (if exaggerated) characters oh and they all just happen to women.
One reason could that Sharon Horgan is in new Channel 4 series about talent agents. Regardless of the quality of the new show it does show one of the failings of British TV comedy it's obsessed with the media virtually every comedy (good or bad) is either set or seen through the prism of the media. What was refreshing about the likes of Pulling is the characters hardly ever mention the big broither or aren't obsessed with shopping channels (like most comedy writers are) you know like real people.

Winter wonderland

Snow Drops & Clumps of John Nettles
Off to Oxfordshire for the weekend to see friends and had an excellent time thanks folks!

And in tribute to all the awards given out here are my nominations for last 48 hours:

Time team comes alive before your eyes panorama of the weekend:

We had an excellent walk on some local hills called "the Clumps" it was an astonishingly beautiful snowy day, clear and sunny so you could see for 10-20 miles all around.

The clumps themselves contain Iron Age hill forts as did every other ridge and vale we could see. The whole area seemed to be full of Christmas card vistas filled with nestling pretty Saxon churches or Norman abbeys. I did like the contrast to Deptford which has plenty of history what with the river, the docks, railways etc. But Oxfordshire's history seems almost geological and the view with the exception of Didcot power station unchanged (if you squint) for centuries. I was looking up the Clumps on wiki and Tony Robertson and the mad one in the hat have already been their which makes sense.

Grand tour of Britain cultural landscape big tick of the winter schedule: Having been to Goatslands or "Heartbeat country" and had some chips in Holmfirth and being born near the original Coronation st I was delighted to find out that Wallingford is officially "Midsummer Murders land"and that half the town has been in the series as extras some of them several times, so much so they have to wear wigs to avoid recognition . Next on my list the Howard's Way coast and Catweazel's hamlet....

Home decoration tip of decade:
To add a hint of "theatre" to any room why not put up a framed picture of 18th century Astronomer. This essential advice is brought to you by Museum Of Art Oxford (well a slightly gushing description of one their exhibitions). I am thinking of going for Tycho Brahe for various reasons chiefly his silver nose not pictured!
(Not sure their other exhibit naked South American woman gets hosed down with high-pressure jet helps with what to do with that dark corner in the hall way though).

"I think you've got too many ingredients on your plate Belinda" aka Masterchef is seeping into every aspect of my life menu of the week:
We had an excellent meal in on Saturday, some delish fish soup was followed for me by the roast lamb with Savoy cabbage, various tasty mashes and a Jus. But also nestling on the plate like a John Torrode fake indignation magnet was what the French (?) menu writer had called a "Cornish Pie". This had intrigued us thinking it might a timbale of veg or some such. But no it was tiny pasty it was delicious, but I fear G&J would have exploded by now.

Having said that why stop at pasties why not have a little chicken & mushroom pukka pie with coq au van or maybe a teeny tiny lasagne with the spaghetti vongole. Food should be fun and it did make me smile.

Gigs I wished I'd attended of the season:

Over at Ms Woo site she's talking about gigs you regret not attending I'm quite fortunate in that I've seen most people I like and the only ones I regret I'd need a time machine to see. But I do wish the Snowdrop Teas had been being served in Swyncomb yesterday. Please do accept that I'm not being the least bit ironic here what so ever, I genuinely love the idea that there are places were people can go to see at drifts of snowdrops (and wolf's bane!), admire an 11cth century church, listen to choral evensong and probably best of all eat home made cakes and drink tea. Sadly the bad weather had meant it was called off doh!
That being said walking in the crisp utterly beautiful woods around the church, checking out rabbit and deer tracks, seeing a hare dash across the snow, the woods alive with rustling leaves as the sun melted the ice, the crunch and squeak of the virgin drifts under our boots was more then wonderful. The exercise sans cake was probably good for me to. Also it pleasing on the way to station to see the sign for "Christmas Common" (as it should be) covered in snow.

If you are Watlington way next week and it doesn't snow again, the snowdrop teas may well be rescheduled but get their early for the pick of the best cakes!

Ladies and gentlemen let’s cook.

MC Update:
Masterchef will you stop with the sexism already?
Tonight we were told that one contestant was a “Rachel mother of 3” twice but no mention of the male contestant’s reproductive status. If the contestants talk about their families fine but stop with the “shouldn’t you be at home cooking fish fingers” insinuation it’s two thousand and chuffing nine*.

Nice twist tonight the endurance test a good test of ability and stamina still didn’t seem to count for much in judging though.

Mystery ingredient: You never see peas on MC not crushed or pureed just peas with a bit mint I love peas me .
*She did win so she won’t mind.

A load of Hot air

Apropos nothing:
I think as a regular blogger I've found the subject I'm eminently qualified to talk about "hot air blowers".
I had chance to use one of Dyson's new Airblades yesterday and it was the D's Bs. Biggest step forward you can dry both hands at once, who knew! Also speaking as someone who's job use to include changing those fiddly circular towels a lot less bovver for the cleaners Hurrah!

Friday, 6 February 2009

Like being given a big kiss by a lemon

MC update:
After being prodded here it is:
Someone rang up just as MC was starting and I try not to be so shallow as to tell them to ring back after I’ve watched some with bald bloke eat a meringue. So I pressed record and then watched it all a bit disjointed, the second half first.

Reading about the original designer of Playmobile Hans Becks who died this week I found out that he had strict rules as to what they could depict in 7.5 cm plastic.

"no horror, no superficial violence, no short-lived trends”

(which could be good advice for all contestants on MC!)

So in honour of that I decided to instigate “the Playmobile Masterchef employment test” i.e. you can only go on Masterchef, if you have a job depicted by a Playmobile figure.

So builders, policewoman, fireman, nurses, famers all ok, sports pr, advertising consultants and publishers probably not. This does mean however that Pirates, Vikings, lion tamers and even the Devil can go on the show hurrah!

Last night they would have passed the test with flying colours as we almost had all the village people. All except that is no member of Lakota Sioux chose to serve up a “fusion” Bison meat Thai curry. We did have a Fireman, a Policeman, the obligatory hapless student and a farmer’s daughter.

Sadly we also had a publisher called Morag, who was obviously more at home ordering in restaurants than cooking in them. Morag fell at the second hurdle partly because the British public won’t march on parliament because the banks have nicked our money but we will burn down number 10 if someone wins Masterchef with the sole intention of turning their ill gotten holiday home into chi-chi B & B serving “Franglais” food!

Last night’s show was surprisingly about food and a rare thing happened I actually fancied one of the dishes. I know this sounds odd but unlike other cookery shows I rarely think watching MC that looks really tasty. But last night “train engineer” Martin (you can definitely get the Playmobile figure of him with a hard hat, a big spanner and an appealing tiny little clip on inspection lamp) made a herb and vegetable soup which just look great really fresh clean and tasty.

Maybe it’s the way they shoot the food or the way Crockett and Tubbs force whole mouthfuls of food in at once. Crockett sorry Gregg seems to get the handle of the spoon to almost touch his forehead as he tucks into another pud, his eyes rolling into his head like a bespectacled Essex shark in a suet frenzy.

But no I often don’t often think “mmm that looks good” partly because after having seen some Kite-surfing web designer sweating into his chocolate fondant it’s not always that appealing.

Down the market: I know it’s the law for all food programmes to film at Borough Market but it is getting a bit dull. Nice place and all that but there must be other markets. I know budgets won’t stretch to a day in Bury buying black pudding but west London must have somewhere that sells the odd conference pear and cerrano ham?

The way it’s going you half expect to see the customers in the background of a shot to be Rick Stein, Jamie and Heston all with camera crew in tow enthusing over the same packet of pigs trotters. I think the only chefs never to film at Borough are “Big Chef little Chef” and that’s only because the snooty types in Neal’s Yard dairy refused to make a picture of a cross channel ferry out of bits of stilton, cheddar and Staffordshire oatcakes!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Eating without relish

Step away from the fork lady?

I was having tasty salady lunch earlier and a couple came and sat on the table next to me the woman had ordered an Indian chicken dish with rice. When it arrived she spikes a lump of chicken and then froze it in mid air while she picked up the squeezy ketchup bottle and gently eased a small red currant sized blob of sauce onto her tikka. She then careful chewed the morsel. Nothing that odd she was just seeing if the sauce was ok but then she did it again with each nugget of chicken. For a particularly large lump she had take 3 bites which necessitated 3 tiny squirts one after another. It was all I could do not to grab the bottle squirt it over her plate. God it was annoying she ate like small mammal as well with no relish (pun intended) as if it was poison he companion didn’t seem to mind.

It reminded me of a colleague who use to eat a sandwich by pealing back 2 mm of Clingfilm for the crust and then slowly gnawing away , abrading the eating face with the tiniest bites holding the sandwich in two hands like harmonica each butty taking at least 10 hours to be slowly eroded. the fact she wore fingerless gloves while eating didn’t help either.

I know this all fairly intolerant but you know it’s like those people who are proud of eating a marathon in obscure ways “well it’s funny right me and Mam share one coz she likes nuts but I only like the bottom bit, so I puts it in the fridge and eat the bottom toffee bit and then when Mam comes round she has the nuts arrrgghh”

Reg Varney for Pope

God is dead but only on the 168 to Penge

I worry I’m turning into a rationalist Cyril Fletcher as I’m indebted to Ms L from North London who forwarded this press release from Brand Republic .

The god botherers it seems are spending their tithe money on some bus advertising. I always thought the initial atheist ads weren’t blunt enough they should have said “God doesn’t exist” we seem to have got a bit mealy mouthed since Michel Mourre ran into Notre Dame shouting “God is dead “.

As BLBW pointed out you can’t claim God exist to be a fact because you can’t prove it and also if you prove he exists you undermine the basic tenet of Christianity that you simply have to have faith in his existence alone.

Here’s my re working of the ads.
Russian Orthodox Church: “God Exists so kiss my Icon, serf”
The other one should read "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God (taken from Psalm 53.1) but we seem to think he speaks with a lisp”
Psalm 53.1 only goes to New Cross by the way catch psalm 73 for Stokey.....

The other Evangelical’s ad should read “There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life as long as you are not gay or an abortionist, or a bit different in anyway”

My ad would read
“God is dead.
So that's one less thing to worry about, but did you leave the gas on and double lock the door? Well did you? You'd better turn round and check, otherwise you'll think about it all day, go on check it, check the gas is off, check it, check it, check it..”

Here endth (this lisping is catching) todays sermon.

There will be milky weak coffee with a skin on it served in the school room and can I remind people that next weeks carol concert has been cancelled because it's February....

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

More chestnuts vicar

Recent events reminded me of the old joke....

It's new year and people are detoxing and dieting it's sensible thing to do my grandad died from too much salt...

He got run over by a gritter..

*Please be kind people I've not had much work since the the News Huddlines was cancelled*

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The Best Snow songs ever ...

A few Flaky choices:
Over at the Wordblog we've been putting together a list of the best snow songs. Here it is I'm not going to stand by every choice but well we all love a good list and there's some gems here and new things to check out I'm sure.

Please feel to suggest others.

The Word reader’s favourite songs about snow are:
Amiina -Kurr
Amiina, feat. Lee Hazlewood- "Hilli (At the Top of the World)"
Aztec Camera -Walk Out To Winter
Big Country - Wonderland -
Black Sabbath -Snowblind
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band -Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
Capt. Beefheart - Steal Softly Through The Snow -
Carol King -Snow queen
David Essex -Winter's Tale
Dean Martin - Let it snow
Donald Fagen -Snowbound
Fleet Foxes - White winter Hymnal
Fountains of Wayne - Valley Winter Song live
Genesis - Snowbound -
Glasvegas - A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like A Kiss)
Goldfrapp - Felt Mountain
Gregson & Collister - Snow in Philadelphia
Jackie Leven - Snow in Central Park
Lindisfarne- Winter Song
Little Feat- Six Feet Of Snow
Midlake - It covers the hillside
Mike Oldfield -Tubular Bells
Negură Bunget – (IIII) Iarnã
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds-15 Feet of Pure White Snow
Ooberman -Here Come the Ice Wolves
Scritti Politti-Sun in Snow
Ann Murray- Snowbird
Surfin Dave and the Absent Legends' LP In Search Of A Decent Haircut - Living White Hell
The Albion Band - Snow Falls
The Doves -Snowden
The Leisure Society - The Last of The Melting Snow
The TMBG version of -New York City'
Tori Amos -Winter
Townes van Zandt's - Snowin' On Raton
XTC- Snowman

Higher education

Horizon BBC2
Watching an interesting and balanced programme about cannabis on Horizon: the keen fan of the stuff at the beginning of the programme seemed familiar I think he might be a mate of a mate or someone I met at a festival which figures

Anyway later they went to a top secret commercial cannabis lab, the presenter couldn't show us the address, sadly the firm has a website with their address on it!

Also at the end they had that usual voiceover "If you've been affected by any of the issues in this programme....." funny they don't say this on the editions of Horizon dealing with evolution or the big bang and speaking personally these "issues" have "affected " me a great deal.

If it’s Tuesday...

MC Update:

Spurious Job Title of the Day: Sports PR Manager ... no me neither I have suspicion he's the bloke who wanders around the edge of footy pitches on match day making sure the likes of Toby Tyke don't fall over the corner flag and of course he was called "Charlie"

MC relief barman:

Britain's Leading Beer Writer writes with his "A beer to go with Masterchef": it has to be something LOUD and yet predictable, but none the worse for that. Comforting like an old friend but with the occasional hint of spiciness. I'm thinking Young's Special London Ale or Fuller's ESB. Cheers PB.

Snow business

Originally uploaded by bltphoto

Back to work: (aka the Children of Armageddon*)
The trains weren't running so had to get the 171 which wasn't bad apart from the 2 posh girls (plum coloured coats, big rock engagement rings, loud mobile conversations with boy friends about being on the bus) who pushed in and nabbed seats off all us who were standing on the top deck .

Oh and the A-hole driver who over took our bus at the lights and skidded and hit us and then proceeded to berate the driver to compensate for his lack of genitals or higher brain function. His favourite line was "shat ap your a public servant, shat ap your a public servant" He got a hearty jeer when he finally "shat ap" and pushed his car out of the way off to spend the rest of the day blaming the world for him being an un-evolved numbnuts and Chelsea fan.

On the news we had lots of wingeing about the buses never stopping in the Blitz. Well things were more pressing then weren't they, if people didn't get to work convoys got sunk. Even with how shaky things are now a days lost work isn't going to end up with John Mills & Donald Sinden clinging to a life raft while day dreaming about meeting saucy WAAF's on crowded troop trains.
People stayed off and had a longer weekend including priggish types who write to the Telegraph.

* sorry this was the title of the book the guy on the bus opposite me was reading it sounded a bit over the top.

Good things about the snow: playing out, the quiet, an excuse to buy ginger wine, getting stuff done at home, watching the first episodes of The Wire.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Its Monday it must be....

MC: Update.

At work we have some powerful survey software called "Mosaic" and even though it's only formed of ones and zeros it's the nearest thing to dark sorcery you are likely to come across. If you type in your postcode it will to a spooky level of accuracy be able to describe your lifestyle/demographic to a Big Brother level of scariness, you may protest but deep down you know you spend 60 quid a week at Waitrose or own a people carrier or work in Arts industry. This software costs a fair few quid to licence but we could save all this I fear by using a far more powerful social divining tool...... Masterchef.

So let's see on Master Chef (and in life) all web designers are also surfers (and like prawns). Recent graduates are always over confident and yet don't know their " a from their e" or in this case coriander from parsley , even if they are widely travelled (cue pantomime looks from the "boys").

It goes on big boned Geordie lads always cook "traditional English food", slightly pinched sales execs called Verity are always "hyper organised" (also is there anyone in the M4 corridor not in sales) and of cause "experimental" chefs always fall at the first hurdle.

No great incident tonight although we had further prove that the professional cooking stage proves nowt when it comes to Hinge and Bracket's (sorry Greg and John's) final decision.


Snowed in:I decided to treat today as icey snowy gift and not spend all day watching telly so I did some washing and mopped the floor went out for some bits made some bread oh and made another little film....... as always I offer it to you as an indulgence. See what you think.

Listen the snow is falling all around

Well blimey! I can't even get on the south eastern website let alone their trains!

So is it wrong to go up the park and not go to work?

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Sunday News

Have you met my Brother and other stories just in....

I was listening to Mark Thomas’ excellent podcast about the financial crisis and he made a joke about the first time Barack Obama’s has a scandal about drugs in his administration the headline will be the “Audacity of Dope” well don’t joke about what you don’t wish for!!

"Hello emergency services I'd like to report a car crash!"

The last snow storm of the year?

Talking books.

I have started to listen to a bit of spoken word stuff on my daily commute sometimes, especially in the morning I can’t cope with music and the radio has patchy reception and frankly there’s only so much religious war and credit crunch I can take from the Today programme.

I listen to radio 4 & 5 podcasts, as well radio plays, I’ve also got an Alan Bennett best of recently.
One recent find was David Sedaris, I’ve seen him referenced by Andrew Collins amongst others but the other day I was in a charity shop and got a CD box set of his stories “Dress Your Family Corduroy Denim”.

Sedaris writes for the New Yorker and is really candid and funny about his childhood in this book. There’s a hint of wimsy but it’s cut through with bright light shone on his own failings and those of those around him oh and it’s funny. On tape he sounds a bit like Woody Allen.

I chose this one because we keep getting promised snow but it never turns up!! It also shows the humour and waspishness of his work and it’s beautifully written.

You can buy of his stuff here (for stacks more than I did sorry)

David Sedaris mp3 "let it snow"

Sunday Evening update : If Ski sunday need me as a weather god or owt I'm available for hire at good rates!
go here for my favourite snowing song!