03 March 2006

delayed until?

They've finally admitted that the flight's delayed. Too late for me to go buy and drink beer of course, but what should I expect? Bastards.

airports & numbers

3 - bookshops

0 - number of bookshops carrying the book I want to buy

20 - minutes ago my flight was meant to board

1 - beers I've drunk

4 - beers I wish I'd drunk

3 - bottles of whisky I've resisted the temptation to buy

10 - times in a minute that I've looked at the departures board hoping to at least be given a departure gate

2 - bottles of wine in my backpack

1 - bag over the hand luggage limit

75 - percent chance of getting away with being over the hand luggage limit

12 - minutes it took me to regret eating a pizza instead of a salad

6 - times I was tempted while standing in the queue at Smith's to buy a signed copy of Being Jordan at £4 off the cover price, just for the humour value.

3 - times I thought of buying it as a joke present

15 - times I reminded myself I cannot afford presents, much less joke presents

13 - minutes after purchasing a pen in Smith's that I found the pen I thought I'd left on my desk

18 - minutes before my flight is meant to be taking off

2 - minutes spent looking at iPods

1 - minute spent in Fat Face. I left as soon as I saw something I wanted to buy

23 - times I've cursed easyJet for not putting up a "delayed until..." message so that I could go spend too much on several beers

8 - announcements over the tannoy that I've been unable to decipher

1 - announcements over the tannoy that I've been able to decipher

01 March 2006

the other stuff

Well, Apple released something I want but don't need. And can't afford. I think I predicted something like this.

I'm going to Belfast to cook for the multi-talented Jo and her mates this weekend. I haven't done a proper dinner party in ages, so am hugely excited. And Jo loves good food. It's always nice to cook for people that genuinely love good food. I hope her friends love good food. I'm sure they do. If they don't, they're going to get some anyway. It's all part of this wine tasting thing. It's an experiment. To do a food & wine matching dinner at someone's house. Cuz I think I could do that as a side thing. Maybe. When I'm not writing novels. Decent wine in Belfast though? In any case I've been running through recipes running from the ridiculous to the sublime and think I've got the right ideas. Keep it simple but good. Cookbooks are wonderful and dreadful all at the same time. So many ideas, so little time, skill etc.

Writing is becoming compulsive and my notebooks, when I don't lose them, are essential whenever I leave the house. For hardcore output, the keyboard seems better but for new ideas, the inspiration comes from the notebooks. Weird. The novel and short stories are battling it out at the moment. The novel's winning as it's more fun to write new stuff than to transcribe from the notebooks (for some reason the short stories all start in the notebooks).

I've started reading Don Quixote. It's remarkable.

the art

The second thing was the Dulwich Picture Gallery. A simple name for what seems to be one of London's best kept secrets. Or maybe I'm just out of the loop. This all exists in South London, a place I've been unkind to in previous posts. With good reason; some of it's rubbish. I've decided Dulwich is not. It's ace. Because up the road from the incredible restaurant (set 2 course lunch, £14.50, 3 course £16.50 - bargain) is this wonderful gallery. I went to see the Winslow Homer exhibit.

I'm going to digress for a moment. When I was a kid, just getting into double digits, possibly hitting pre-teens, I loved sharks. I had volume upon volume of shark books and learned as much as possible. One of the better ones (I can't remember the name) had a chapter on cultural views of sharks, from the people who worshipped them as gods to the often imbalanced fictional representations in Western literature and later film (Jaws, duh). There was a hugely powerful painting of a lone black sailor, flattened against the deck of his demasted ship, holding for dear life. The ship was surrounded by sharks and on the horizon was a waterspout - a seafaring tornado. Almost imperceptible further on the horizon is a big, three-mast ship. It's an incredible image, burned into my brain by the curiosity of youth and its own merits. There is tremendous courage as well as despair and it leaves the viewer desperate to know what happens. The accompanying paragraph explained that people were so concerned about the fate of the sailor when the painting was first exhibited (and ever since) that the artist had to explain that the sharks never get him, the waterspout misses him and the ship rescues him. The name of the painting is The Gulf Stream and Winslow Homer painted it.

The exhibition was astonishing - incredibly powerful and beautifully structured works, mostly of the sea. The best works gave the impression of movement; bold and striking snapshots of life with amazing light and commanding brush strokes.

The rest of the gallery was fantastic as well, small and perfectly formed. There were gems, including a couple of fantastic Canallettos (as well as Reynolds, Rembrandt, Van Dyck. Great art in beautiful but comfortable surroundings.

Of course afterwards the light was stunning and my internal debate as to whether I should take a camera came to what turned out to be the wrong, as I did not. So armed with my phone I took the following shots of the grounds and the art college building next to the gallery.

This is the art school attached to the gallery. I didn't get a decent shot of the gallery itself. No good light.
That's part of the gallery wall on the right.

The Gulf Stream

the food

2 new things in life today. 1, a new restaurant. Beauberry House is a grade 1 listed Georgian mansion nestled in a small park in Dulwich. Crazy Japanese fusion cuisine that looked and tasted amazing. Funky but pure and simple flavours. Exceptional beef, oysters, cod, chicken, tuna - all of our dishes were cooked to perfection. Seared tuna spring rolls, oysters wrapped in fried egg noodles served on a bed of buttered leeks in the half shell, tanaki beef - I'm still smiling thinking about it. And very groovy decor to boot. Check out the chandeliers:

Only one criticism - the fruit garnishing the desert was out of season and tasteless. Other than that? Awesome, inspiring and all those other comments that good restaurants make me feel but I'm nervous to utter lest my food geekery overtake me completely.

Sadly, it's in Dulwich. Which is, in technical terms, fucking miles away from Chiswick. Worth the journey though, I assure you. Go there. Eat there.

For the antithesis of the meal described, check this out.

28 February 2006

missed calling?

Stumbled upon this. Going to the 3rd world and setting up techie stuff eh? Tempting, though it may reveal that I'm not as much of a geek as I think I am. And of course, there's always the risk of running into someone like this.

git & gadgets

Pete Doherty's been arrested again. This time for stealing a car. Humorous tidbits include that it was in Birmingham and that he was in the company of two Dundonians. Oh, and he was in possession of class A drugs. But that's kind of a "duh" bit of info. He's become the class clown, with the teacher looking sternly at the class, commanding the children not to pay attention as it only encourages him. Well then, teacher, throw his scrawny smacked-up arse in jail. Then we won't be able to see him. And insist that every penny of royalties from his albums goes to drug rehab clinics. And not the Priory or any of those swank places, but real rehab clinics that help truly destitute addicts, desperate to get clean.

Apple is releasing a new gadget today. I have no idea what it is, but I'm sure that once I see it I'll think of some way that a) I can afford it and b) I need it. Both of these sentiments will be lies. Quite bold lies as well. I need no more gadgets. I cannot afford anymore gadgets. What if it's more than one gadget that's released? Oh dear.

27 February 2006


A dear old friend of mine once said that only when you embraced your inherent dorkiness could you truly be cool. As life rolls on it resonates more. I've got a lot of dorkiness to embrace, so it takes a bit of time.

The Ministry of Flailing, Cavorting and Evil sent me this brilliant link. It reminded me of so many conversations in St Andrews, ranting and raving about substandard theatre and drinking more, utterly convinced of my and my friends' creative genius compared to the world at large. Yes it was arrogant and bitchy but it was done with conviction. And we acted on our convictions, having fun and making some great student theatre. But mostly having fun. And drinking quite a bit of beer in the Cellar.

I'm writing a play about the aftermath of student theatre at the moment. It's got an awesome title. I'm not going to tell you what it is yet though.

Embrace the dork. Go on, you know you want to.

weekend roundup

Last weekend was excellent. Sometimes, living in London, complacency can hit and you can miss out. This is where house guests come in handy. They do stuff. They inpire you to do stuff too. Especially fun when you can split up at Portabello market so as you can check out foodie shops, foodie market stalls and wine shops while they peek at the clothes on the stalls. Of course temptations run rampant. In my head I'd emptied my wallet about 10 times at both the cheese stall and one of the wine shops. But in the end I only bought some homemade cookies. They were ace. But it was very cold. So lunch was munched with an Italian theme and aside from shrieking harpies in the corner an excellent day was had. As were a few gin and tonics and a couple of pints.

Saturday was a mixture of rugby and Peterborough. Rugby is a wonderful sport and Saturday's match was incredible, with Scotland's victory still bringing a smile to my face. Peterborough is a total and utter shithole. It's also a lot farther from London than you'd think. Fortunately, the company of friends helped dull the pain of place. The party I attended had a couple of strange ones, including someone I shared a name with and thankfully nothing else. I nicknamed him "product of cousins".

Sunday was a hangover followed by the most awful pub service in the universe. After waiting 2 hours our eagerly awaited Sunday roasts were cold and inedible. Fortunately there were irate, hungover women with me, so they complained and got the food struck from the bill. I'm terrible at confrontations like that, so I went outside to call my mum. Yes, I'm a big wuss. But it's a sad day that the local pub was dreadful while the big chain pub (an O'Neill's) was showing the Ireland-Wales match while serving brilliant food that came with free Guinness. So my hangover was beaten back by sausage baguettes and 3 pints. And table football.

A seemingly endless drive home, fighting to stay awake so as I could keep the driver awake and I cooked toad-in-the-hole for my folks. It was pretty good.