Monday, May 31

Tell Tale Signs



When I'm in a new neighbourhood I always check out the small ads in the newsagents windows, this is a section from my local.

You may need to click to enlarge image

Friday, May 28

The Boys Are Back In Town

... I was saying to my friend Eryl
The manly tide has now risen beyond our armpits, the crew swooped home from a filming trip a few days ago, Miss Whiplash and I are doing the doggypaddle in a testosterone-and-pelican-case sea.


So I visited my parents for a dose of normal life.

My mother likes things neat, there isn't quite enough to dust at home so, despite being a card-carrying atheist, she is on the church-cleaning rota and goes along once a month to help polish the church knobs, I have been told that the village vicar is a particularly rebarbative lady.

We went along to the local pub, my mother exchanged gossip with the barmaid. For long minutes Dad and I listened to the details of Mrs Welling's kitchen refit and Miriam down-the-road who had gone to stay with her daughter for a few days, then there was quite a story about a broken washing machine. Finally both women stroked their chins reflectively while trying to think of more news, the barmaid said

well, that's about it, I don't think there's anything else to report


Mum said .... there's the vicar's marriage

WHAT!!!!

last month - she was stuck at an airport because of the volcano dust and met a man, they can't keep their hands off each other, they're getting married. She announced it from the pulpit last Sunday.

Sunday, May 23

Last Calm Weekend


Tomorrow the house will be bulging at the seams as the crew will have all returned from the latest filming trip. Yesterday, however I was quite alone in the house when a child came to visit, he’d last been here about a year ago when he was four years old. Not sure if he remembered the house he stood in my kitchen with a puzzled look on his face then he thrust his finger in the air with inspiration, he did know this place, he turned to me and said

Didn’t you used to keep men here?


I recently had a message from a friend asking me if I was off gallivanting - such a lovely word, one that might describe an interesting way of moving; something involving high stepping, prancing and the tossing of one’s plumed head, I think gallivanting is a more energetic form of catering



After writing about my recent encounter with Bearpit Man it dawned on me that the reason that I could now understand his words was because he seems to have overcome a speech impediment, an aspect of him that I hadn’t properly registered before,   like when someone you know shaves off a moustache and you can’t work out what’s wrong with their face.

I saw Bearpit man again this morning pushing a big wire shopping trolley that he had ingeniously modified for his catering forays, he showed me around the trolley’s compartments stuffed with thermoses and stacks of cups that he had pre-dosed with coffee powder and sugar

Saturday, May 22

Disgruntled

I was hired by a company that produce an organic range of food products. They wanted me to perform a cookery demonstration for some church-going folk (in their church). Loads of planning and preparation was involved, recipes were to be supplied in advance so that the congregation could follow along as I was cooking, I was hoping that they would sing the recipes to the tunes of my favourite hymns while I cooked – sadly this did not happen.

After a week of testing many variations of courgette fritters and rhubarb desserts* I was looking a bit green and a friend asked me if I was getting well paid for this job, I replied indeed not, the money for this is derisible.

I produced a 3-course supper for 30 people in one hour, there was laughter and applause, as I was packing up people came by to say some very lovely things and I left the church feeling entirely delightful.

The following day the lady who hired me called, not to thank me but to make a tight-lipped criticism of a small aspect of my work - something that could have been spotted and resolved before the event. I remembered that she signs emails off with this little homily

'Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.'




* Rhubarb Mess
Serves: 2
4 dessertspoons sugar
the juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange
200g rhubarb cut into inch-long pieces
2 individual meringue nests broken up
a small handful toasted almonds
2 tbsp double cream, softly whipped


Put sugar, orange juice and zest into a pan and bring to boil (the pan should be big enough to contain the rhubarb in one layer)

When sugar is dissolved, turn heat to medium, add rhubarb put on a lid and poach for a couple of minutes, or until the rhubarb has softened, take off the heat and let it cool.

Carefully remove the rhubarb with a slotted spoon, put into a large mixing bowl with the broken meringues, whipped double cream, and half of the almonds, combine gently.

To serve, spoon the mixture into glasses or ramekins and sprinkle over the rest of the almonds

Monday, May 17

Queasy, Cheesy, Japanesey

That man is still on the roof. I called up to him from the street to see how he’s getting on. He disappeared then reappeared inside the house so he could yell down at me from the closer quarters of a window. I now know that his name is Cheesy. I propose that his activity is more of a squat than a protest, Cheesy insists that he is protesting about 50 years of injustice. I say that it's difficult to tell that from the pavement and maybe he should make a banner or something.

I go on to my own house, walk upstairs and look out of the window. He is hoisting a surfboard up on a pole.




Currently feeling a bit queasy due to sampling of dessert recipe trials involving cream and meringue for a cookery demonstration that I’ll be performing at in a couple of days.




This morning I saw an enormous and instantly recognisable shape walking along the street towards me, for the last 10 years this man and I have stopped, grinned and exchanged noises before moving on, his impenetrable West Indian accent means that I have never understood the actual words of what he says, I think of our exchanges as being like a mini episode of the Clangers, so I was quite surprised today when I discerned actual words

Him: Hey how you doin’ ?

Me: I'm Good – where are you off to?

Him: I’m goin’ down the bearpit* to feed the homeless people

Me: What are you going to feed them?

Him: Food

* I don't know what the bearpit is either

Friday, May 14

Still Gruntled

Rootling around in Bristol's delicatessens is the surest way that I know of staying gruntled. On one of these expeditions today I was diverted from a meringue hunt by a man with a lot of cheese.

I came away meringueless but accompanied by a perfect lump of wrinkly skinned Robiola. My new BFF suggested that I use some of it in this recipe from the legendary Silver Spoon cookbook.

Robiola Triangles

some Butter
some olive oil
8 slices of bread, crusts removed
7oz robiola cheese
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
1 lightly beaten egg
2 tablespoons double cream
some salt


Pre heat oven to 350 F. Grease a baking sheet with butter. Cut each slice of bread into two triangles, drizzle each with olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Mash the robiola in a bowl and stir in the Parmesan, egg and cream until fully mixed. Spread the mixture on the bread triangles and place on the prepared baking sheet, bake for about 10 minutes – serve hot.




Earlier in the week we staged a pie-in, the last lunch party for the departing crew. Dazed by lack of sleep we were grateful for the instructions on how to manage this product.

Thursday, May 13

Rock Paper Scissors




One of the Camera Boys has a snake - it is half his age and twice his height

When he goes away to film the snake usually goes to visit the Camera Boy’s parents

Camera Boy has just moved to a new house where there is another Boy With a Snake

There is also a Girl With a Hamster

This time the snake will stay home

The Camera Boy is hoping that they will all get on together...

Wednesday, May 12

Gruntled



The recent volcano activity has caused quite a lot of upset to our scheduling and a sense of doubled disruption has infected the house. Meetings were missed, negotiations for future projects have been jumbled up and remade and all the while the house has been engulfed by the preparations for filming trips. This week two schedules were being arranged and rearranged, big open cases are spread over the floor making us move around with a sort of high goose-stepping motion. Yesterday I was feeling quite disgruntled.

Since a recent short visit to a very concretey bit of California we have learned never to assume that any materials will be readily available. The crew will need to make a set to contain some laboratory ants, one of my jobs was to put a spadeful of earth from our garden into the oven for sterilisation. We are sending (clean) dirt to America.

At 2am this morning one crew came back from filming starry skies and at 7am I waved off the other crew as a car took them to the airport, the cases have all gone. Today I will be in the house on my own, calm has descended, I wonder if this feeling is gruntlement.

Friday, May 7

Working At Home




With no other work happening at the moment I’m making myself useful in the film production office which is busy with preparations for the next filming trip.




The production office occupies the same house that I live in; once I get out of bed I am effectively at work but without the benefits that most people get from working at home.

In the early days of this office-in-the-house arrangement, when I wasn’t really concentrating, I got up early one day and put some dye on my hair. Not wanting to get dye on my clothes I didn’t get dressed, it also seemed reasonable to put some bleaching paste on my moustache. Then I went downstairs to the kitchen to make breakfast. I put the kettle on, saw a pile of clean laundry and started doing a bit of ironing, my feet were cold from standing on the kitchen floor, I put on the nearest shoe-shaped things which were a pair of large wellington boots. Just as my paste moustache was dried and cracking and I realised that I should wash it off, a Camera Boy, who had let himself in early and quietly to prepare some camera cases, walked into the kitchen - I think he is scarred for life.

Tuesday, May 4

Campaigning Via Telepathy



Looking out of my bedroom window this morning I noticed a man on a nearby roof gesticulating, there were banners and whatnot too, but his flags were furled and illegible. Not sure if this was purely for my benefit I decided to try and find out what he wanted to communicate.

The man’s hairdo declared his tribal allegiance so I walked across the street to the cider-drinkers community headquarters and asked them about their friend.

He's protesting about the supermarket, he was throwing the roof tiles off yesterday

Is he doing it alone or are you taking turns?

No we’re all doing it, I’ll be up on a roof this side of the road tomorrow.

I feel the protest lacks clarity.
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