Saturday, August 30, 2008

Run away!

So last weekend I find myself standing in a queue at our local off-licence. I say local. There is one that's closer, but the staff are terrible, spending most of their time in their little office in the back getting very high indeed, and generally not giving a shit about their customers, their shop, or their stock. And they know fuck all about wine. Which you don't expect in Threshers, you really don't.

Queueing in front of me - this is the borders of Essex after all, so bottle stores usually have a queue - are two Young People, one of either sex. The male one sported sequin clad gym pumps and a matching belt. They might have been a bit theatrical, their conversation suggested as much, but I have an inkling that when it comes to theatre, this young fellow has it in much more than just his blood. Oh, and he was wearing heavier makeup than a Northern lass out on the lash. The last time I saw that much foundation, they stuck the Gherkin on top of it.

Apropos of bugger all, the chap behind me suddenly leaned in close and said "Bolt!"



"I'm sorry?"


At this point he gestures vaguely to something that he is resting on his shoulder.

I had taken his utterance to be an imperative. He was telling me to run away. At first I thought it was a threat, that perhaps he was about to hold the man at the till at gunpoint until he had mixed him the perfect vodka martini, or whatever it is that these criminal types do. When I realised that he wasn't threatening, my next thought was that he was making an uncharitable (and homophobic) comment on the campness of the little theatrical Mary in front of me.

But my puzzled face had triggered a response from the harpy accompanying the chap, and she shrieked something about not everyone watching the Olympics. The chap then said to me "Bolt - he's the fastest man in the world."

"Oh, right," says I.

"He won the (whatever races it was) and broke (whatever world record or records he broke)."

"Did he? Well ..."

The harpy joins in again about not everyone watching the Olympics. They exchange views on whether it is reasonable to assume everyone in the country ought to have known what the guy was talking about because the vast majority of people have been sitting glued to their television sets for the last few weeks. (Perhaps I should have pointed out to him that I actually have a job, and whilst their number may be growing, I don't think you can accurately refer to the jobless as the vast majority of people in the UK. Not yet, at any rate.)

As if offering further explanation, the guy said "He's Jamaican," and indicated towards the thing over his shoulder again. I think it was a Jamaican flag. I'm not very good with flags. I'm not sure how this was meant to allow me to make more sense of the earlier exchange. The guy didn't sound at all Jamaican, though he could have had some ancestry from that part of the world.

What perplexes me is that I really do not understand what reaction he was expecting. What on earth did he think a random stranger would do when someone comes up to them and tells them to bolt?

Sport? No thanks. I'll stick to faggotry, thank you very much.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Base Knowledge

If someone were to create an on-line knowledge base for people like Gary Glitter, what would they call it? I mean, wikipedia is already taken ...

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Festive Season

We spent a long weekend at the Edinburgh International Festival. Or one of them, at least. The event has grown so much over the years that these days it's something of a cultural hydra, with the Fringe possibly being the biggest bit of it. And what a marvellous time we had - once we got there.

The train journey was bad, but could have been much worse. As a result of some severe delays and overcrowding, we got there almost an hour later than planned. It seems the latest money-making wheeze amongst the more desperate elements of the criminal fraternity is to steal copper cabling from railway points and resell the metal. Noice.

So, we got to Edinburgh a bit late, popped over the visit the friends we were staying with and drop off our stuff, and then headed out to meet up with a chum of mine from Aberdeen who had sorted out tickets to a magic show by young mentalist, Chris Cox. I might review that at a later date. After a quick bite and a change of venue, it was time for Scott Capuro, who really pushes the envelope of what he can get away with saying, and made me laugh a lot. He's actually friends with one of my dearest chums, and we've had dinner together, but since he spent most of that evening drooling over the waiter is doesn't really feel like I've actually met the man.

We did a late show that night: Slutty Livin' starring Livinia Slutford, the latest altar ego of and comedy vehicle for Jonathan Hellyer. Utterly, utterly amazing. Every time I see this guy perform I am blown away by his vocal talent. Of course, as Nick's blog makes clear, regular visitors to The Royal Vauxhall Tavern on a Sunday get to enjoy this kind of thing every week, and indeed, some of them even got to see the preview show in London before it launched in Edinburgh. In looking for a link to the show, I learned on Jonathan's web page that he was the guy who replaced Jimmy Summerville in Bronski Beat, and sang opposite Eartha Kitt on Cha Cha Heels - to my mind one of the campest pop songs ever recorded. Marvellous.

The next day I popped out earlier than my Lovely Husband™ to see a show starring Arnold Brown. He's a Glaswegian Italian Jewish comedian. As he puts it, three stereotypes for the price of one. Unusually for Edinburgh, he had a warm-up act. I can't remember the guy's name, but he wasn't very funny at all, and had awful comic timing. Arnold, in contrast, shone, but not as shiny as I've seen him in the past.

Later, my Lovely Husband™ joined me and we headed off to see Phil Kay in his 20th year at the festival. He and I studied philosophy together at Glasgow University, although we didn't know each other. I remember seeing him on TV a long time ago and thinking: he sits a few rows in front of me on Monday mornings. He was amazing, as always, although sadly his performance was seriously marred by his friends. He had generously brought a very large bunch of young people with him and given them free tickets. The rewarded his generosity by interrupting his show, talking loudly during his performance, and generally making a nuisance of themselves. To his credit, Phil tried to get them behaving a bit better, and managed to get the show more or less back on track, but we were both angered to see this lovely, gentle soul showing so much respect and having so much patience with a crowd of boorish loudmouths who didn't give him the same respect in return.

Sunday night, we had dinner with the friends that we were staying with, and that was a very pleasant evening indeed.

And then on Monday, my parents arrived ... more of that (and pictures) later.

Monday, August 04, 2008


One of the less acknowledged facts about healthy eating is that wholewheat pasta is much tastier than normal pasta, and has a much more interesting texture.

So far, so good.

Another not very well acknowledged fact is that noodles, as used in a variety of cuisines, particularly those of Asian countries, are pretty much the same as pasta.

Take these two facts, and add the third. It's much easier, in UK supermarkets, to get your hands on fresh wholewheat spaghetti than any other type of fresh wholewheat pasta.

Put them all together, and you can start using fresh wholewheat pasta to accompany stir-fries, pad thais, all manner of dishes. And it's yummyumum and then someomeome.