Thursday, April 29

Cake Off

It has been a month of absences and missed birthdays, the crew that set out 5 weeks ago for Costa Rica were stranded in Madrid on the return journey so a filming trip in Spain was scrambled earlier than originally planned now everyone is late and has missed events and each other.

Back together in the production office we know several ways to celebrate – but it always starts with cake. Whiplash set the ball rolling yesterday with a classic carrot cake topped with her Ultimate Frosting Experience. Today I responded with a sticky ginger and lemon cake*. Tomorrow belongs to Cake Boy who has promised us his famous strawberry cream sponge ...

*follow the link and add ginger wine, more lemon juice/zest and chopped walnuts (worked fine without the apple)

Wednesday, April 28

Snapshots From The Last 7 Days: Catalonia

Driving from Santander to Barcelona was easy enough, but once in Catalonia things got a bit confusing. The Catalan people have their own language and like to name/number their roads or not as they see fit, I spent 4 hours being lost in the spaghetti knots of roads around Barcelona trying to find my way to where the crew were working.

There are currently a series of unofficial referendums being held around the Catalonian towns and villages to try and get support for independence

In Barcelona I handed over the van to the cameramen so they could drive the kit home. The Director and I then took off for a few days on the rocky Catalonian peninsula of Cadaqués.

The centre of Cadaqués is maze of crazy-paved and cobbled streets which will become dead ends or steps or simply a rugged sort of rocky riverbed, quite a lot of streets are unnamed and most houses don’t have numbers

I had a go at making a map of Cadaqués

I had booked an apartment on Picasso Street, the landlady emailed me to say that there was no house number but I should call when we arrived and she would take us there. We wound our way down around the mountains and parked the car in what seemed to be roughly the right bit of town, suddenly before us we saw Picassso Street and felt triumphant, I called the landlady:

Me: Hola – Isabel, we’re here - at the end of Picasso Street
Isabel: Which Picasso Street?
Me: It has a furniture shop at the end where I am
Isabel: No you’re at the wrong Picasso Street, you need the short one.

Isabel came to our rescue riding this moped

Tuesday, April 20

White Van Woman

Funny the way things work out; my diary says that I am abroad working at a glamorous international music event - the Icelandic volcano has put paid to that idea and, unbelievably, my would-be employers have decided to go ahead with their festivities without me.

Meanwhile the film office has been smoking with activity; the film crew got stuck in Madrid on their way back from Costa Rica. Miss Whiplash and I spent the weekend pacing around her desk and pointing fingers in the air as we hatched cunning plan after cunning plan. With typical brilliance Whiplash managed to fix a new filming schedule so that the crew can be occupied filming ants in Barcelona while awaiting rescue...

I have just collected a van huge enough to accommodate fifty hundred cases of filming equipment and some passengers. In the morning I will board a ferry for a 24-hour journey to Santander, I will then drive my great white leviathan towards the Mediterranean where I hope to find shining faces waiting for me.

Actually their faces might be shining, but from the reports we’ve been getting I expect the rest of their bodies to be quite nasty; someone has a fungal infection, one of the Camera Boys has a swollen leg and everyone is itchy from insect bites. The outright winner of the horrible disease competition though, is The Director with the many parasites that are currently burrowing around in his skin, this is much more impressive than last year’s return from Costa Rica when he played host to just a single botfly, then, we tried to entice the botfly out of his arm by strapping something fatty over it's airhole, the point being that it will burrow up into the new food, in search of air and thus get out of its human host*. The top picture shows my purchases for this purpose from the Italian delicatessen down the road, I bought a lovely bit of speck but it wasn’t bendy enough and the pork fat turned out to be easier to fit.

Gruesome body events are an occupational hazard for film crews and is the stuff of many a pub anecdote, we know someone who hatched spiders out of his forehead while trying to edit his footage and there is a very well known cameraman who used to remove his trousers at the drop of a hat to show the hole in his leg made by a hippo.

* Youtube has some very gross footage of botfly removal – don’t go there!

Friday, April 16

How To Deal With Awkward Customers

It has been a 'Watch and Learn' sort of week, this weeks theme demonstrated some ways one might respond to difficult requests from people;

Example 1
I was in the film production office which is full of ant talk; a crew is in Costa Rica, trying to film ants and avoid getting washed away by rain or eaten away by fungus. The Camera Boys still in the office are impressing us with their latest hair and eyebrow styling while simultaneously trying to arrange the next trip, Zena is back on the research. She reported this conclusion from a world authority on myrmecology

Ants will never do a task that is beneath their abilities.

this turns out to be an appropriate response to so many requests

Example 2
before heading over to my cooking job, I decided to try out the 'Exclusive Jamaican Restaurant’ that has recently opened it’s doors in my neighbourhood, it’s way too exclusive to bother with a menu. before I was seated the waitress said
What you wanna eat?

I asked what was being served, she folded her arms, cast her eyes heavenwards and started reciting a list

stew vegetable
fry chicken
goat stew
salt fish
ox tail ...

I asked what the ox tail was like

It is like chicken

Example 3
I was cooking supper and two little girls were playing shop in my kitchen - they had set up a joke shop;

Shopkeeper girl: Hello Madam, what do you want?

Customer girl: A whoopee cushion and a big nose please

Shopkeeper girl: Anything else?

Customer girl: Chocolate

Shopkeeper girl: It has to be a trick

Customer girl: A chocolate trick please

Wednesday, April 14

When Life Gives You Lemons ...

This morning I spied some fat, warty and outrageously expensive lemons in my local gourmet grocery. A friend had recently rhapsodised at length on the joys of an Amalfi lemon salad so I took out a mortgage and bought a few. I have since been online checking out recipes.

This recipe looked good but once I got Googling I couldn't stop and I have ended up discovering many other uses for a posh lemon, those listed below are mostly from this place I have added a couple of my own ideas


Amalfi lemons
1. Soften rough elbows
by rubbing half a lemon on your elbows each evening before bed.

2. Lighten age spots
. Rub a cotton ball soaked in Amalfi lemon juice on the age spots. You will notice them lighten within 6-8 weeks.

3. Calluses on hands or feet can be reduced and softened thanks to the acidity of the lemon. Put a slice of lemon on the corn and cover with a band aid overnight. Let the lemon act during sleep, it will facilitate the removal of the hardened skin. Or put half a lemon in heels of your shoes during the day to get the added benefit of more tallness.

4. Blackheads and blemishes, rub lemon juice on your blackheads at night right before bed and notice a difference in a few days. For blemishes, dab a cotton ball soaked in Amalfi lemon juice right on the blemish several times per day.

5. To improve concentration put a few drops of lemon essential oil in a diffuser.

6. Stop your partner snoring, sew an Amalfi lemon into the back of their pajama jacket

7. Improve your posture, practise walking with an Amalfi lemon on your head

Do join in...

Thursday, April 8

Slugs and Snails

This week I have been cooking in the depths of rural England, back to the house where little girls danced with whales, here are some of the week’s high- and low-points

1. The place is now full of little boys - the meals were appropriately themed; last night’s supper was worms in a compost heap followed by mud pie with extra dirt.

2. This is a no-electronic-games-allowed household, most of the boys were outside, happily running around thwacking things, but I discovered a sad-faced child called Oscar in the pantry, he was fingering something he called a DS. He agreed to wash his hands and help me make pizzas.

3. Oscar wants to be an actor and shows great promise, after flinging something to the floor during supper, his mother insisted that there would be no mud pie until he picked it up, he left the room roaring
I am now going to kill myself

4. I stayed on the premises this time, I dislike 'living-in’, but it’s a long commute and The Director is away stalking vampires.

My bags were taken to a converted barn adjacent to the main house; a vast split level space with fat oak floorboards and stone gable ends - it is wonderfully empty, a bed one end, a sink the other and a huge old tub somewhere in the middle. It is the old hay loft and harness rooms and is over a mill race - in daylight the sound of the stream rushing under the building is charming. At night I realised that the big empty space of my apartment is a supersonic amplifier, it was like being trapped in a giant’s bathroom with a broken flush - I have not slept a wink for four nights.

5. There is no internet or phone signal at the house so I found a big empty pub with wifi. I went there this morning at 9 am and sat down at the only table with an electric socket, then some people came in; two couples and a teenage boy, none of them appeared to have a neck and they were clearly all very closely related. They walked past the empty tables and came to sit with me - they weren’t being at all friendly, finally one of the men said
We always sit here

6. While I was preparing supper tonight Oscar lurked nearby, finally he asked me
What do you really do for a living?

Photo by Mark Peterson

Monday, April 5

Encouraging The Young

The best coffee in the world is served in the lesbian café close to our office. Last week the Camera Boys came back from the café enthusing about an opportunity they'd seen for earning extra income. Later in the day Whiplash and I went over and checked out the ad;

Sperm Donor Wanted

Single woman, early 40's seeks reliable sperm donor

- No involvement needed/expected

- cash payment made for donation

- genuine adver

On our return Whiplash was scornful

She wants 'reliable sperm' - do you think either of you could produce reliable sperm?

the following day one of the Camera Boys turned up newly shorn in readiness for an imminent filming trip I said

Good hair - it makes you look very youthful

At that moment The Director walked into the room and looked at the Boy

Useful! -It'll take more than a haircut to make him look useful

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