Sunday, 12 December 2010
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
and while sitting next to an old man
turning pages of The Secret Life of France
on the Jubilee
(opposite a man
who read Lenin's biography)
I thought of you as I left
and with each footfall to my door
And I cursed you
for making me write
I hate desperate poems
Thursday, 11 November 2010
Sunday, 10 October 2010
Sunday, 26 September 2010
Underground, a father is explaining to his young children that it's busy because the Pope is in London today.
'But daddy,' one proclaims, 'the Pope's old.'
I smile as I board the tube to travel away from the epicentre.
Saturday, 11 September 2010
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
And then I was told there was no tube from Paddington. The tube trains may have been running but if they weren't running from where I was it was no use.
I asked for help. A friendly Transport-helper-person (I've no official name to hand) told me to get the 205 bus from outside. Lovely, I thought as I bounded to the bus stop full of hope.
I was greeted by this at the bus stop:
So the upshot was, over an hour and only two simultaneously-arriving-and-quickly-filled 205 buses later, I turned around and went back into Paddington. I was too late to meet the person I was meant to.
But it was alright... at least I wasn't a doctor or other important integral cog in London's Big Ben... or something.
Monday, 6 September 2010
TfL have allowed ‘Around a hundred extra buses, escorted bike rides, marshalled taxi ranks, and capacity for 10,000 more journeys on the river.’
On Twitter people seem more annoyed about the Guardian’s ‘obvious’ headline, ‘Tube strike to cause mass disruption across London.’ Some are excited about having an excuse to cycle and @therealmilesyuk is: ‘Secretly a bit looking forward to London anarchy caused by tube strike.’
Royal Maritime and Transport (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), (maintenance and engineering staff) go on strike at 5pm today, and other RMT and TSSA Tube staff, ‘including station staff and some drivers’, begin at 9pm. They’re facing 800 job cuts because of Oyster card success – In a similar vein to supermarket staff who’ve been replaced by self-service check-outs and cinemas where you only need your bank card to pick up tickets.
I’m particularly interested in the words ‘some drivers.’ The strike is predominantly maintenance and engineering staff, so I’m thinking ‘most drivers’ will still be driving my tube trains.
In fact I’m willing to bet on it. I currently commute from Bristol to London. I get into Paddington then take the tube to work. At the end of the day, I take the tube back to Paddington. Miss the last train and I’m in a bit of a predicament.
I can’t ride a bike back (I can ride a bike…I just don’t have one). I haven’t worked out what buses to use. Oh, and it’s my brother’s birthday so I want to get his present to him. The BBC may think me an ‘irresponsible traveller.’ Let’s see if they’re right tomorrow.
Saturday, 28 August 2010
Sunday, 8 August 2010
They told us the stigma attached to signing on no longer existed. Encouraged us to do it. Or leave the country.
I moved home. I volunteered for Oxjam for three months, which I'd recommend to anyone for meeting lovely people and getting experience while raising money for a good cause. I went to Copenhagen for the Climate Summit. I wrote 20,000 words or so of my novel. I put months of effort into applying for an internship I didn't get. I volunteered again for a community based project.
And then I started to get scared. To grow increasingly morose. My family were beginning to believe I'd become a loser. Many of my school friends were in the same boat. We sat in pubs in the rain (it may not have been raining but it adds effect) with furrowed brows, scraping the barrel for mutual support.
Then I applied for a dream job. Combining everything I love. Travel, writing, social media, video and photography. I went to an interview and gave everything I had.
And I got the job.
So I'd like to say thank you.
Thank you to my friends and family for helping me to keep my chin up. Thank you to the many kind people on twitter who have given me support over this year. To Ed. To the two train bloggers Jools and David. Thank you to my tutor Joe, travel writer extraordinaire. Thank you to my friends at Waterstone's past and present. To my old housemates. To my mother, with her boundless love and patience, in spite of being one of the most impatient people I know. To my sisters and brother, not least for helping me make videos. My father. To Kate, whose sofa has been a constant comfort and who has allowed me to become a secondary housemate. To my school friends (Lara, Roxy, Ju, thanks for the cameos). To my grandad, who commented on my application even though he doesn't know what social media is. Who told me I was the best.
To those of you who joined my Facebook groups: Hannah, Tom H, Holly T, Holly W, Leslie, Steve, Ellie, Carly, Katie M, Loralei, Jenny, Gina, Kyam, Laura J, Diego, Sam W, Ruby, Katie P, Tanja, Kimberley, Adam, Amy, Emily G, Emily M, Ella C, Cherry, Annie M, Fran, Becky, Steph, Maria, Mel, Jessi, Rachel B, Shaun, Ed, Greg, Antonia, Nathan, Kwojo, Alice C, Richard, Jalon, Lucy, Olivia, Katherine, Dave, Thea C, Henry, Charlene, Lara, Justin, Tom A, Lu (my wonderful mother), Ben, Ella P, Nieves, Elena, Thom, Daniel, Fikir, Roxanne, Jools, Sian, Kate, Natassia, Lee, Owen, Joe, Fred, James, Annie McG.
I went to a bar in Bath last night and saw swathes of women walking around in strapless dresses which only just skimmed the underneath of their buttocks. Nearly all of them were wearing impossibly high heels. I wondered at what point women collectively decided they needed to look like this. Would men cease to want to sleep with them if they wore something slightly more flattering? Of course not.
I think a sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look - Women Sort Yourselves Out
highlights these issues pointedly.
And it's the way women talk about each other as well. In Mean Girls there's a brilliant scene where Tina Fey says to an audience of high school girls: 'you all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it OK for guys to call you sluts and whores.'
How many times have you heard Camilla Parker Bowles referred to as a horse? And what does Charles get? Big ears... If someone told me I had a big nose I'd say 'Yes?' because I do have a quite a prominent nose. But call me equine-features and you're insulting me as a person.
How many unattractive male actors and comedians can you name? And female?
Feminism has achieved a lot - but it's painful to hear people still taking the man-hating whinging woman perspective as its face. Feminism in the original sense is about striving for equality while celebrating differences. I'm still waiting for all women to be celebrated by all women and men for who they are, not what they look like.
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Another classmate wears a suit and tie and smiles
Another update tells you how much another kid loves their job
And you sit there and think, I don't want to pretend.
I don't want to wear polyester.
I hate polyester.
Friday, 16 July 2010
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Thursday, 1 July 2010
I was hit a couple of years ago by the Arches on Gloucester Rd. It felt like someone had punched me really hard in the side (although I've never actually been punched in the side so this is mere conjecture).
Last night I went out to meet some friends. We were standing outside the Golden Lion when there was a noise from behind us. I felt two spots of moisture on my feet, the guy next to me asked what had happened. There was nothing there. Then I spotted part of an eggshell.
"It was an egg, look," I pointed.
"Where is it?" he asked.
We couldn't see the rest of the egg. I looked myself over, he looked himself over. There was nothing on us. Then someone sitting at the table pointed to the guy's pint glass. The rest of the egg was suspended in his cider. Benedict style.
We were stunned. Although I hate the pricks who throw eggs, I couldn't help but be impressed.
Then, as I was walking past the RSPCA shop later, alone, I nearly jumped out of my skin as an egg obviously intended to hit me smashed against the glass of the shop window. With that my momentary respect faded.
Monday, 28 June 2010
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Another favourite is my nearest Thali Cafe in Montpelier. They've just opened a new one in Clifton and I think it'll be the first restaurant at the top of Hensman's hill to actually be successful. On my menu this weekend past was a note explaining that the chicken was free range and the fish sourced responsibly. Both places make fantastic food at incredibly reasonable prices (the pie mash and 'groovy' I just had was £5.50). At a point in time where we can't really afford to ignore the damage farming is doing to the environment, it gives me hope to see that change is possible. If they can do it, I don't see why everyone else can't. Let's take greater steps toward re-localising the food production and farming responsibly...
Have a look at the Thali Cafe's more eloquent explanation here.
Friday, 14 May 2010
Friday, 23 April 2010
Monday, 5 April 2010
Friday, 2 April 2010
Wednesday, 31 March 2010
By the time I reach the Odeon I am considering jacking it all in and stuffing my face with KFC. Against all my ethical principles, probably.
Bravely, I march up the street and opt for a similarly gross option - a cheese & onion pasty from Greggs and an Easter cornflake cake.
I stop in front of Stanfords on Corn Street and gaze longingly at the sonic travel toothbrush then drop crumbs from the cornflake cake down my front. No one has seen, I brush myself down and head to the central library to look up some origami techniques.
In the toilet someone has written on the cubicle door:
'In answer to the question scratched in a desk in the reference section of the library: Can you write something about nothing? Yes.
Nothing is a state of mind. It is the alpha and omega of despair. It is the element of emptiness. It is the irony that holds the universe...'
Someone has written 'what a load of rubbish' next to it.
Downstairs, I sit down in the children's section by the window. An eighteen metre drill is boring a hole into the earth - it's amazing. If my friend Ruby and I had had one of those when we were little, perhaps we would have understood the impossibility of digging a hole in my back garden to get to Australia.
Friday, 19 March 2010
I studied Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. In the final year I had the opportunity to take the module I had waited two years for, Travel Writing. My tutor was travel writer Joe Roberts, who I have an enormous amount of respect for. He, for want of a better word, 'nurtured' my writing skill and helped it become what it is today. For that I am grateful.
The module involved both reading travel literature and writing it. I went on a trip to Tipi Valley with my friend Katie Monks and wrote it up when we returned.
I read books about travellers, such as Chatwin, 'discovering' countries, writers like Yiyun Li and Jan Morris bringing their homelands to life and writers like Hemingway drinking their way through fictionalised versions of their experiences, in places seemingly more exotic than England (often only as far as France or Spain).
I poured over Gerald Durrell's childhood in Crete and swam alongside the fisherman in Hemingway's sea.
My bookshelf is almost entirely crammed with travel literature.
So then, the only way to find out if travel literature is inspiring, is to read it. If you only read two travel related books (one of these is a very thin volume, I promise), read The Songlines, by Bruce Chatwin, in which he discovered that the Aboriginal Australians could sing every feature on the landscape of Australia, like a map made of song - and Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises, a novel by Ernest Hemingway about Bull fighting and bad love in Spain as experienced by a very lovable alcoholic.
I don't think that travel writers and novelists do the travelling for you. Rather, they compliment what you already know, if you've seen it. And if you haven't been to the places they describe, they bring life to them, usually romanticising them almost imploring you to go there.
How many of us wanted to go to Kefalonia after reading Captain Corelli's Mandolin? I know I did.
Sunday, 28 February 2010
I read Jonathan Safran Foer's thoughts on fish farming last week. I had heard about his new book a couple of months back and was impressed by the idea of it, to say the least. At the bottom of the piece in the G2 supplement, were details of a book group event in London. Jonathan would be attending and discussing his book, Everything is Illuminated, my favourite book by a living author (to put it morbidly), with its Chris Ofili-esque cover.
My heart sank. My boots were heavy. Everything happens in London, I thought. Every Thing.
And then yesterday, I was sitting in the staffroom at Bath Waterstone's, where I work, talking to my friend Tom Abbot about it.
'But Jonathan Safran Foer is in the Bath Lit Fest line up,' he said.
'WHAT?!' I replied.
'Yeah,' he fumbled around under the Saturday papers and pulled out the programme.
'Here,' he pointed.
'Sunday 28th February, 2pm,' I read aloud, 'that's tomorrow!'
And so, today I caught the one o'clock train from Redland to Temple Meads to Bath Spa. I phoned the box office and asked for directions, then headed to the (thankfully) well-kept toilets on the platform to apply my make-up (I was not about to meet my hero with a bare face).
I walked out of the station, up the road and turned down Henry Street and across the cobbles to the Masonic Hall, where I almost walked into Jonathan, who I was not expecting to be milling around. I don't know what I was expecting, that he be flown in last minute in his own private jet? Not often on a writer's wages.
I stood in front of him, pointed at him and said to the woman selling tickets in the entrance 'look, he's a real person.'
I don't think even I would be able to respond to someone pointing at me and talking about me as if I was some sort of post-illusory Pinocchio, so I wasn't surprised when he didn't respond, instead ascending the stairs to the 'writers only' room.
I could have said anything, I could have held out my hand and introduced myself. I could have told him how much I admired his work. As we have read, I did neither of these things.
My friend Holly Thacker has been photographing events at the festival as a Bath Literature Festival Photographer. I was extremely relieved when she turned up. I had been biding my time before the talk recommending his books, displayed on a table by the entrance, to people who hadn't read him before (I had been asked to by the bookseller who hadn't read them).
I bought a copy of Jonathan's new book, Eating Animals, and went inside with Holly.
We sat on the left hand side near the front. I was nervous. I was excited.
Holly and I talked a bit about weirdos. A man at a festival event had told Holly he was part of the New World Order. Now we were sitting in the Masonic Hall and she had been asked whether she would be infringing copyright by taking photographs.
'What, copyright on his face?' I asked.
'No on the hall. It's the Masonic Hall. Could be some kind of secret. As if a 'secret society' would call the building the Masonic Hall,' she said.
'You'd better watch out, they might abduct you and try to pull your face off, claiming you to be a reptilian lizard, shouting 'show your scales!'' I said.
We mused over the symbol of the all seeing eye and of the keys.
'I like the crest with the handbags and the pens best,' Holly said.
(There really was one).
Everybody started clapping, and Jonathan walked through the centre of the room to one of the throne like chairs.
For almost an hour I sat and enjoyed his intelligent and funny answers to the questions he was asked about his book. I liked his analogy between monogamy and vegetarianism (spending your life not having everything you want all the time but enjoying it nevertheless).
He was everything I had hoped he would be.
The floor was opened up to questions. I had rehearsed mine over and over in my head so I would not cock it up. I raised my arm. Everybody else's questions were a blur around me as my heart thudded away in my chest and my palms sweated over My New Book.
I was the last question asker.
I took the microphone.
'Is it on? Hello? Oh yes, Hi.' Oh my God pleasedon'tfuckthisuppleasedon'tfuckthisuppleasedon'tfuckthisup, I said in my head and then, miraculously,
'would you suggest (could would imply he wanted to) a way we can begin implementing the re-localisation of the food production?'
'I'm glad you asked that...' he began.
Oh thankyouJesus, I said in my head.
I had temporarily redeemed myself. He said, if we wanted to, each one of us could cut just one meat based meal a week, or even just those burgers we eat when we don't need to, but eat just because they're there. And if we each did that, the effect on the factory farms would be felt immediately. Eventually we might in that way be able to make the move back to the way things were. 40% of damage to the environment results from our obsession with meat. Imagine what we could achieve with a slight menu re-shuffle! This man can do no wrong.
When the talk was over, a woman came over to me and asked if she could take my email down. She asked if I'd heard of guerrilla gardening. I told her I'd been introduced to the concept last year and found it very exciting. She was part of a movement in Bath, the members of which have a lot of war-time dig for victory spirit. It's very sweet. I wrote down my email address in her mini-green-moleskine and told her about my quince jam. She was impressed.
I joined the queue to have my book signed by Jonathan.
I reached the front.
'Hi how are you?' He asked in a monotone voice.
'What's your name?'
'P-H-I-E,' I finished, 'I wanted to bring my copy of Everything is Illuminated, my favourite book of all time, for you to sign, but my sister wouldn't bring it to the station,' I said.
'Why was she in the place where the book was?' he asked.
'She was at home.'
'Where had you been before the station?'
'Er, at my other home, I'm living at home at the moment and my parents have split so there are two houses.'
Oh my God why am I wasting my ten seconds of talking-to-my-hero-time telling him I live with my parents?! I thought. I could be telling him how I loved the way he manipulated the language in Everything is Illuminated so that the Ukrainian way of speaking English came through, or Oskar Schell's 'Heavy Boots' in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Or how I had translated the numbers the grandfather in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close had dialled into the payphone on my own battered blue mobile so I'd know what he was trying to say to his lost love.
But I didn't instead I 8653 69 4376 22688 69 3825464 7273687!
'Another time,' he said.
Sunday, 14 February 2010
'Does no one clean these windows?' asks the boy, who is almost forced to be pressed against them by space deficiency.
His father pretends not to hear, mutters something about the little girl's toilet request in thick cockney. The boy points to a plan of the train stuck to the passenger wall and the letters WC on it as if his father is the most stupid man in the world.
'Alright, alright, everyone will be getting off soon,' the father says.
'Dad, what does obstruct mean?' the boy says.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
I wake up to the obscene sound of Grieg's electronically remastered-for-mobile-technology Hall of the Mountain King, commonly referred to as 'the theme tune to that Alton Towers advert a few years back.' It is the automatic alarm sound. It is truly horrendous. I haven't been able to sleep much, not because I am due to see Mother Meera today, but because I was planning YouTube stunts in my head.
After breakfast and a cup of tea, I collect my things and trudge through the streets of Bristol, lamenting the existence of 'morning people' and remembering why I never go out before 9am.
At St. Georges, usually used for concerts, a side door is open for the trickle of people arriving to see Her (with a capital 'H') to enter through.
The first thing we are ushered past is a merchandise table. This surprises me and at first I think perhaps Darshan isn't free after all. I'm compelled to buy something and even though I want a wristwatch with Mother Meera's face on it (£25), I opt for a passport sized photograph of Her (50p) and some sandalwood incense emblazoned with Her face and the inscription 'always remember the divine.'(£2) I may possibly be allergic to it. But I can't be allergic to God, surely?
After I have made my purchases, I find a corner of the foyer to sit down in. I want a little space. When I look up, my mother's friend is standing in front of me. Paradoxically, I am glad to have the company. We walk up to the room Mother Meera is due to arrive in at 10am.
The first thing I notice is that a lot of people are wearing purple. This is apparently by random choice. secondly, there is a woman dressed all in white near the front with a large bird's feather in her hair.
We are told that when Mother arrives, we will be led out one row at a time to kneel in queue formation down the centre of the room before ascending to the stage, where She will sit, awaiting our turn for Darshan, 'the bestowal of Love, Light and Grace.'
She arrives, a small woman with a red dot between Her eyebrows, wearing an orange sari, the scarf around Her shoulders.
We sit for around an hour and a half in silence before it is our turn.
I find that it actually hurts me to kneel in the centre of the room. I hope it will not hurt when I am kneeling in front of Her. As I ascend the stage, my heart starts beating faster. Not out of excitement but because I get stage fright, it's like graduation day all over again. I am three then two then one away from Her.
Then it is my turn. I bow my head and touch (but don't push as the laminated instructions stated) Her orange covered feet. She touches my shoulders lightly and then gestures my head up so that my eyes meet Her eyes. I don't know what I'm expecting. Rays of light to emanate from them? She looks at me but I see nothing at all in Her eyes. Then she looks to her right and I think 'was that a flash of disappointment in Her eyes' then She looks to the floor signifying the completion of my Darshan.
As I walk away, thinking I felt nothing. I realise that I do feel something. I also realise that it did not hurt me to kneel in front of Her and that my heart no longer beat fast when I did so. I walk past all the chairs and out of the room to go to the toilet. Ideally, I would have preferred to have clicked my fingers and the other people in the room melt away so that I can reflect on my experience, but instead I have to make to with a toilet cubicle, where I decide, still in a state of calm, that what I feel is comparable to the feeling I had in the Notre Dame, the Sacre Coeur, the back room of one of the shops in Glastonbury, a small Stone Circle in Tipi Valley and even the feeling I imagine you get after you have come up on ecstasy. Awe.
When we reach the door to exit the building, a flurry of snow is whizzing past it. Outside, the snow envelopes us. It lasts all the way down Park Street. Then just stops and the sky is as blue as it had been that morning.
Sunday, 7 February 2010
Friday, 5 February 2010
"I have just returned from stationery club. Initally we sat in the wrong place until 7.11pm. Things were looking dire until a girl approached us after she saw the stationery club emblem stabilo pen placed in front of us. After a few very dangerous moments of thinking that stationery club was going to be the three of us only, Sophie realised that all 20 or so members were sitting upstairs.
Then the real fun sarted. Nobody understood me because I wasn't on twitter. The main man had 5 stabilo related questions for us all to ponder and A WORRYING AMOUNT of twitter people who were unable to attend had sent hilarious emails to be read out like stationery club haikus and fascinating and contentious questions such as 'do you find the stabilo a bit scratchy?"
Sunday, 31 January 2010
Vandana Shiva is amazing. We were tired and freezing cold at the halfway point but it was still a pleasure to hear this magnificent woman.
At this point with the cold and the tiredness, I nearly burst into tears when he announced that there were 100,000 of us. Being part of something so huge and so, so important was humbling. It was also the moment Joanna and I had the revelation that a Bailey's coffee was just about the best thing in the world we could think of, other than the world leaders agreeing.
Helena Christiensen. (From Fashion Model Directory)
Yes it's true, she is a nuevo-supermodel but she's also a photographer and great speaker. We were impressed. I found it quite empowering.
It's unfortunate that the longer we stood in the cold, the greater the desire of many to disappear to find coffee. It was so cold that I had split skin on my hands, so I think they can be forgiven!
Hannah is one of my best friends in the whole wide world. I missed her at the march but managed to arrange to meet up on Sunday 13th December at Klimaforum where I filmed this. Really, I felt a little naive about what Climate Camp were hoping to achieve so I asked questions to this end. Fikir's hat was pretty awesome too.
one last thing...
A recipe from Christiania for the vegetarian stuff they were doling out... I went into the tipi kitchen and asked them for it. Actually it's just a list of ingredients:
chickpeas butternut squash, potato, pumpkin, onion, garlic, leek, soy chunks, tomato puree, ginger, coconut butter, herbs, soy sauce. For cous cous parsley, carrot, sultanas, cous cous.
I might do some culinary experiments in the future.
In order that you might understand my un-chronological blogging, I refer you to Borges' Garden of Forking Paths in the hope it might explain my ability to simultaneously be marching,interviewing Jonathan Neale, looking to the future, enjoying Christmas and making snow angels. It is the best excuse I can offer.
SMC 29th January 2010/ 31st January 2010
Saturday, 30 January 2010
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Sunday, 24 January 2010
This morning, I notice a rash around her mouth, either an outbreak of acne or eczema or similar. And I think, the poor woman must be stressed. Here she is, stuck behind a till dealing with all manner of freaks on a daily basis for no money.
I say, 'Could I have a bacon bap please?'
She says, 'I'm just going to wash my hands first, is that okay?'
'Yes of course,' I say.
'Would you like a drink with that madame?'
(the madame grates, I'm not a plump middle aged woman who smells of patchouli and I don't think for a second she would normally use the term).
'No, thank you.'
'Okay...Have a good day!'she says, leaning over the counter to assert her geniuneness.
'You too,' I say (I really hope she does).
It's like a mask. What I want to say is, 'where are you from? What are you doing here? Are you alright?'
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
As we enter, the DJ calls out from his box above the dance floor 'talking of sexy bitches, this one goes out to...' and I smile. I haven't been to a gay bar for years (the last time I went, I almost threw up because I inhaled too much foam at the foam party). I've almost forgotten what they're like. There's some moving pictures on the wall that would really screw with your head if you'd taken acid, girls dancing with their tops off, proudly baring their bras, guys dancing with their tops of, proudly bearing their, er, pecks.
In the smoking alley, a transvestite stands at the end, smiling coyly through bright magenta tinted lips. She wears a blonde wig, mini skirt and a white tank top. She has quite a well developed upper body.
Elegantly, she lifts a fag to her lips as a blonde boy straight out asks Kate, 'so are you a lesbian then?' to an applause of laughter.
Inside a girl walks up to Emily, who has a boyish dress sense and a mohican and says 'oh my God, oh my god, my friend thought you were Gok Wan!' More laughter, this time from Emily and her girlfriend.
After some suitably camp 'of the moment' tracks (Lady Gaga etc.) what sounds like most of my old tape 'Hits 95' is played. When 2 Unlimited - No Limit comes on I shout to Emily, 'do you remember when they used to play this on Gladiators, as one of the Gladiators stood on that podium?'
She replies, 'I loved Gladiators, I joined the fan club. Shadow sent me a Christmas card.'
It takes a long time for my sides to stop hurting.
Finally, at 3am, as a tequila and lemonade (even the barman asked if I was serious) headache sets in I decide it's time to leave. Kate and I jump in a taxi and go home. I have one of the Worst Hangovers Ever the next day, but it was worth it.
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
Go to Somerfield's, realise they have neither aubergine (eggplant to non-English-types) nor courgettes. They are rubbish. Although I like them more now that they've merged (or been taken over by?) the Cooperative. Even though I lost my Cooperative membership card with my wallet in Copenhagen. Anyway, head to onions, then to veg/salad area. pick up the following:
2x red onions (of which you will use 1 1/2 later)
1x garlic bulb (of which you will use 2 cloves later)
3x carrots (1 of which you will use later as it's pretty long)
bag of white potatoes (er, maybe 5 or 6 you will use later)
2x those long thin peppers (you know the sweet red pointy ones)
a handful of bog standard mushrooms (of which you will use 4 large ones, maybe 6)
bag of spinach (you'll use most of it saving a little for side salad)
quite a few tomatoes (all of them)
waltz over to the bit where the spices are. Buy ground cinnamon and if you don't have any either nutmeg or cumin (in this case nutmeg, realise you never needed cumin anyway)
pick up a tube of tomato puree.
Think hard about what you're missing... Wine! Spend 2.99 on cheap, exceedingly shit red (vino da tavolo, or 'table wine' to you and I will do just fine but make sure you have a decent corkscrew as the cheap corks are a bitch to get out).
Insist that you DO NOT need a plastic bag at the checkout and hastily stuff veg into rucksack lamenting bag of potatoes. carry pre-bagged stuff that won't fit in hands.
Triumphantly gallop (or gambol) home over slushy ground.
Get one fuck-off (large) pan, one medium and one small.
Whack oil in monster pan. Dice onion, crush garlic, chuck in when oil is hot (turn on hob first obs) dice peppers while singing along loudly to the Moulin Rouge soundtrack for the first time in years. Wonder when music cuts out, whether neighbours have burrowed into your internet and pulled a connection somewhere to shut you up.
chuck in peppers and mince. desperately try to ease cork from cheap red. In a panic throw in one of those chicken stock pots from that sell out chef. Realise this is no longer a veggie moussaka anymore but tell veggies to just substitute with veggie stock pot if they're listening.
Ask sister to help get cork out, yell that mince is going to dry out any minute. Have tug-of-war with bottle and corkscrew like the Giant Turnip tale. Give up, take out corkscrew, pull out cork with bare teeth. Consider how long it's been since last dentist visit. Remember that you owe money and that's why you've not been back.
Pour half the bottle (that's right, half) into the pan. Stir. Put more pepper than salt in (use common sense here, a pinch if you're too stupid).
chop tomatoes and mushrooms roughly. Chuck in. get pinch of nutmeg and pinch cinnamon. Chuck in. Stir. Squeeze about 1/4 tube tomato puree in. Rinse spinach. Chuck in. Wait for spinach to 'deflate.'
Cover pan and simmer while you finely slice the potatoes and put in medium pan with boiling water and a little pinch of salt.
Get what's left in the butter dish (a knob, ha ha ha) and put in small pan. Add flour to make a ghee. Slowly add milk. Realise you didn't have enough ghee, add cream. Realise it's still too thin. Add flour several times over. Add 2 eggs. Get handheld whisk. Advise everyone the country over to purchase electric whisk. Wonder why the top always ends up as plain cheese sauce rather than the fluffy deep top it's supposed to. Probably you need to use just the egg white. After ages get sister to whisk and thicken while you strain the cooked potatoes.. Transfer mince-y bit to ceramic-dish-for-ovens. Grandpa calls. Just as brother is talking to him, say 'FUCK!' really loudly in the background as you realise you have the wrong dish. Cover mouth and raise eyebrows and hope Grandpa didn't hear. He's old, he probably didn't. Transfer into Mega-ceramic-dish-for-ovens, take slices of potato and carefully create potato blanket over mince-y bit. 'Yey,' sister announces to suggest bechamel type sauce is thick enough now. Grab pan, swish sauce over potato, grab cheese sister kindly grated and whack on top. Shove whole thing in oven for about twenty minutes, glad mother is late home from writing-classy-thing.
Serve to family. Observe wondrous silence of everyone enjoying meal (other than brother's 'no points for presentation' and 'more potato than I had in mind' (he doesn't like potatoes))
Title dish: Mussange, Messaka or Shepherd's Mussange (mother thinks a cross between moussaka, Shepherd's pie and lasagna).
P.S sorry about lack of pictures, left SD card at makeshift office.
Sunday, 10 January 2010
The inflatable globe is caged and then released and then caged again. When the cage structure comes undone at the wheel, Joanna insists on stopping to help fix it. She's already stopped once to paint people's faces.
I think these guys are very sweet, silently raising their message written on the tops of umbrellas.
Joanna asks if someone can paint her face for her. I step up. Then realise everyone will know my fingers aren't as slender as I'd like, for the rest of the day. Then figure it's in aid of saving our planet and think, what the hell. She asks me to write 'act with love.'