11 March 2006

party tales & foodie heaven

Yesterday, more was a accomplished than ever should be with a hangover. Because Thursday night was stupidly drunken (no food + booze of various nature = drunk). It needed to be stupidly drunken because I was at a party that I shouldn't have been. You see, it was a friend's girlfriend's birthday party. But 2 months after the actual birthday. Upon arrival at a bar filled mostly with strangers, I spotted my mate and joined him at the bar. Where he told me that he and his lady had parted company 2 weeks ago. So my reason for being at the party really, really didn't want to be at a party. Here comes an oddity of human behaviour; when you're at a party you don't want to be at, instead of leaving you just drink more. So many a champagne cocktail, whisky and beer (Asahi - pure evil) later, I was really rather drunk. And my friend had left. And I was speaking at length to a divorcee from Kentucky. Then another friend showed up, kind of rescuing me from the divorcee (who was nice, but had a monopolistic tendency when it came to chat). The other friend simply shouldn't have been there but for the fact that it is indeed a small world, and he's mates with the now-ex-girlfriend of my friend's brother-in-law, married to the now-ex-girlfriend's twin sister. Whose non-birthday party it was too. And a welcome-home party to boot as she and her husband (friend of my friend) had just moved back to London from New York.

Are you confused? Good. Now drink a bathtub's worth of booze and try to work it out.

So then an old uni friend of mine turned up, who was at school with the now-ex-girlfriend. I knew this was going to happen. In fact, it was the one expected event of the evening. However, I was delighted to find how lovely it was to see her. As she's really rather lovely. I passed the mobile number on of a mutual friend and they met up the next day. I was sort of chuffed that I'd played a part in a small reunion. Not at the time, at the time I was quite drunk and needed to go home. It wasn't until yesterday that I had any feelings of chuffed-ness.

The tube and walk home were a blur. I think I played Neil Diamond REALLY LOUD when I got back home.

Yesterday I edited the nonsense I'd written in both the book and the blog (erased forever, thank goodness) when I returned home. Not sure how Faulkner managed to write The Bear inebriated. I have trouble with my name.

After editing I went to the Van Riusdael exhibit at the Royal Academy and the Americans in Paris exhibit at the National Gallery. Both were cool, and I found myself quite surprised at some of the unifying themes of the latter. Especially as the individual artists had quite varied styles. Lots of pretty colours too.

Today was awesome. My folks, myself and a family friend went to Borough Market in Southwark to food geek out. I cannot believe it's taken me this long to get to this incredible mecca of London food. The very best veg, meat, cheese, fish, bread - everything. It was almost dizzying. I think I went through about 30 or 40 meals in my head as I walked around. Mountains of fresh-baked chocolate brownies, small wine merchants with obscure parcels of rustic French wine. Butter - oh, the wonders of proper French farmhouse butter in varying shapes and sizes. Basket upon basket of wild mushroom. We bought a lot of food. And most of this afternoon has been spent prepping it. I've got venison shanks marinating for pot roast tomorrow while there's pork belly slow-roasting in the oven for tonight's meal. And there's a lot of amazing bread. Proper, hand-kneaded bread that tastes particularly good with lashings of proper French butter. Spanish ham, salt cod, veg that looks natural - not waxed an polished but ripe and smelling incredible. Fuck supermarkets, this was the real deal and even if it is an hour of tube journey far better than going to bloody Sainsbury's or Tesco.

Southwark Cathedral rising over the market. My Dad in his Sherlock Holmes hat at one of the market entrances

Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter Bar - lunch was awesome. Ate oysters and drank porter.

One of the big fish stalls in the market - some truly cracking fish, but we were in carnivore form.

09 March 2006


How do you respond to the realisation that you're broke? Some people budget, strictly allocating funds to only the essentials for life; some people cry into a glass of wine, wondering where they went wrong; some people seek new and more bountiful employment to ensure their income catches up with their expenditure. I went to Fopp and bought four cds. And I really enjoyed it. I hadn't actually bought cds from a shop in ages. Amazon and iTunes (and possibly LimeWire, though not if the bastards at the RIAA are reading) have been the cornerstones of my music purchases of late, mostly iTunes. And I'd forgotten how brilliant some shops are. Especially Fopp. If you have a Fopp nearby, you should shop there, because it's wicked. Their selection is brilliant, the staff is helpful and LOVE music and you feel kind of cool being a customer. I felt young and, dare I say, hip. And this is the other thing. I've been enjoying fishing out cds and listening to them instead of playing my iPod through my stereo or listening to my computer. Don't know why. There is a tactile quality to holding the cd and taking it out of its case that isn't there with an mp3 file. Weird.

In other news, old ladies aren't allowed to wear hats and an ex-teacher in France has seen too many bad movies.

08 March 2006


Great name for album eh? Sort of like Synchronicity but without tantric-rain-forest Sting involved. Or talent, for that matter.


My favourites were legos. I had millions of them. It's one of those things that you bring with you into adulthood, that you had more legos than anyone. You may grow up not caring how big your house is, how cool your car is, whether your jeans are fashionable but when someone asks how many legos you had as a kid, the answer is always the same: a fuckload more than they did. It's like kids in seminary fighting over who's more pious. Or what I imagine that would be like. Devotion to the lego faith was maniacal, as was the need for recognition of that devotion.

And every kid had their own names for certain pieces. An "uppy-downy" for one kid was something totally different to another kid. Because legos were kind of an on-your-own thing. Playing legos with someone else would always end badly for the following reasons:

1. There would be a fight over a piece that there was only one of.
2. There would be a communications breakdown due to the individual lego dialects developed over 100s of hours of solo playtime.
3. The person who built the cooler stuff would get beat up by the people not building cooler stuff. Even if they were bigger. How weird is that?
4. There would be rage and anger over whether it was ok for a lego person not to have hair or a helmet (it was just wrong, ok!)
5. There would be rage and anger over whether it was ok for a lego head to be used as a "one-y" in constructing something else.

And so on and so forth. What has brought on this stroll down a lego-brick lane? Well, I stumbled on this today. What does it mean? It means they had more legos than me. Gits.


When I chose the road less travelled, or the train to Leuchars, for my education, there were some lingering doubts over my choice. All of my friends from high school were in the States and St Andrews is an awful long way from, well, anywhere really. And while I've never regretted my choice of uni, there have been the odd times when I've wondered what would have happened had I stayed in the USA. Then I read things like this (pointed out to me by the ministry's own Irony), and I realise I made the right decision.

Other Stuff

Got all my filing done. It has resulted in the revelation that I am, in fact, totally out of money.

Before I realised this, I bought some photo albums to organise photos. Now that's an opportunity to waste serious time. So I've made a deal with myself that I'm not allowed to do any more organising until I write another 15,000 words.

I am slowly mastering my parents' car. I did drive a considerable distance today with the handbrake engaged though, so there's still improvement to be made. Quite a lot, I suppose.

07 March 2006

Giant SLR pics

Some more from my recent trip to Ireland, these proving to me that there's still a huge amount to be said for using traditional film cameras. Then again, it could just be the lens. I don't know but I really like the way some of these turned out.

Odd London pics

Snappy Snaps are thieving gypsy over-exposing bastards and no one should grace them with their custom. £30 for two rolls of film with cd transfer? Load of bollocks. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. In any case, they developed a couple of films for me today and unearthed some fun shots that I intend to share. Bastards.

This is the only one of a series of shots that came out ok. It looks odd, because that's not the sun, it's the moon, and I think I left the shutter open for about 20 seconds. All the others were badly blurred. Still not too pleased with it, as there's no detail on the moon, but everything else looks cool. And there's a weird twilight quality about it. There's also amateur lens flare kicking about.

This is my view everymorning when I exercise; riveting, really.

One of the few purposefully arty photos I've ever taken, and the first use of my tripod. I really like this if only for the reason that it's exactly what I wanted the pic to be. It's just a reflection but it came out as I hoped it would. Not common for my pictures.

a little conversation

Inner Nagging Voice: Now, repeat after me:

Me: No.

INV: Come on now.

Me: Fuck you.

INV: We've gone over this; I'm part of you, and at the moment nobody's fucking either of us. You. Whatever. Now, repeat after me:

Me: Ok, alright already.

INV: Cookies...

Me: Cookies...

INV: are...

Me: are...

INV: not...

Me: not...

INV: breakfast.

Me: breakfast.

INV: Feel better?

Me: Fuck you.

06 March 2006

cookie monster

So, I baked cookies in Belfast. But they weren't quite as good as I'd hoped. They were yummy, don't get me wrong. But I felt compelled to improve. I'm my own harshest critic. And if you'd ever met my mother, you'd know that's saying something. Anyway, I baked another batch tonight. And they were really good. Too good. I ate lots. So I'm still in the midst of a sugar rush, trying to sort through bank statements and attempting to resurrect a long-dead PowerBook G3 for a dear friend in need of a computer that doesn't crash when breathing on it.

Here's a philosophical question - if one travels far for a certain purpose, say to host a wine tasting and doesn't, in fact, host a wine tasting, but still has, as does everyone else, a fantastic time, is that a failure? Answers in comments.

And yes, I know I'm deluding myself, as comments are so rare, but go on, leave a comment. I don't bite.

Unless it's a cookie.

05 March 2006

thrown out

Jo threw me out while she cooked dinner on Friday night, to buy wine and poke about her new neighborhood. I took a few pics of Queen's University. Nearly got frostbite. But dinner was yummy, the wine tasted good and a couple of the pics came out ok, so it's all groovy.

The communicating passage between the old (right) and new (left) library at Queen's.


Queen's theology college

causeway and belfast

Belfast may seem a long way to go for a dinner party. Especially when you have to pass through Gatwick South Terminal, a dreadful hole that seems to have an unhealthy balance of neds and chavs flying through. But if the company's good and there's wine to be drunk then there's no distance too far. A lovely weekend, with Jo very kindly driving us up to The Giant's Causeway. Which may seem like a long way to go to look at rocks. But they're special rocks left by a giant, so there's no distance too far to go for that either.

It was a blast. In some cases of frigid air as it's bloody freezing at the moment.

A camera shy Jo pours herself a glass of wine. Her new kitchen is huge. And her flatmates are lovely.

Ellie conquers the large stones along The Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway
Not The Giant's Causeway, but cool pics nonetheless.