Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend...

“Ingratitude is treason to mankind.” James Thomson

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Where can I recycle some chip fat?

How is it that Heston Blumenthal isn't really very fat? I made his triple-cooked chips on Sunday and I don't know how we will not be very very fat now knowing they are in the world and can be created with nothing more than potatoes, oil, water and a pan. They have shells of delicious shattering crispness filled with creamy fondant and are well worth the extra time required. Perhaps we will get thin rejecting all the substandard chips we might otherwise eat because we now know they are just not up to the task.

In googling the recipe, I also found this, which I urge you to read. Michael Winner is such a glorious tit! And he seems to revel in his tossery, which is sort of disappointing. I always imagined he'd be ignorant of his own wankerishness and self-importance, which is the is the best sort of tit for laughing-at purposes I think, but in any case, he is entertaining in ways he could not possibly anticipate (the tape recorder bit is a highlight), and excellent value for your couple of minutes of reading time.

(Oh god, am I blogging about Michael Winner being a tit? Newsflash, someone alert the authorities, etc.. I think I got so het up about the chips that my enthusiasm got the best of me and I have rather lost my way here.)

Now that I think about it, it's rather amazing that I have lived half of my life in the US an half in the UK - two nations which have embraced fried as the sixth food group - and have never before deep-fried anything. Some skills are best left unlearned. It did make the house smell quite badly of frying fat and old people* for a day or two so I don't plan to do it again soon.

*Why? I don't know either. Ideas on a postcard please.

Monday 25 January 2010

Missed Connection

I would like to declare publicly that if you were on your way to the park today with your darling little Yorkshire terrier and someone sounded their horn at you, it was not me. You were on the pavement, walking your dog, and I was in my car turning left into the park entrance (you remember, I was in the beige Saab), and I waited patiently for you to cross my path and walk into the park ahead of me. I was there to walk my dogs too, and I was in no hurry at all, and either way had no reason to beep at you. You were after all just exercising your right to use the pavement like any other pedestrian, and I was giving you the right of way, as endorsed by the Highway Code.

So despite everyone going about their business doing what it was their God-given right to do, and despite using my left indicator, I got a telling-off from the well-coifed and be-lipsticked woman behind me who took issue with something and beeped her horn. In my mind, she was cackling And your little dog too, AH-hahahaha but that's just conjecture.

In any case, you clearly thought I had beeped you and gave me the glaring stinkeye so hard I thought you might hurt yourself. I parked up and thought I might have a moment to stop you and clarify that I hadn't beeped you, but your dog finished peeing and you went on your way, stopping again briefly to give me another stabby look that said, perhaps, I have memorised your face and your registration plate.

So, sorry for that. That woman was a pain in the arse. I was just minding my own business and wanted to tell you it wasn't me, but you walked away too quickly and only your murderous look remained. In accordance with the Highway Code, I never use my horn aggressively.

Thursday 21 January 2010

Wherein I again use the asterisks thing. And maybe overuse italics. And fail to get to grips with keeping the text in one font.

My grandmother was 94 when she died and her skin was just beautiful. The first thing that occurred to me when I saw her in the casket (sorry) was that she looked younger than when she was alive. That may be some sort of casket magic though, what with gravity and the, uh, stuff they do to make you less shocking-looking. Is it wrong to sit looking at your beloved dead grandmother and think god please let me have inherited the great skin but not the dementia?

I am sort of obsessed with age and death. (When you read that, I would like it to sound more Bergmanesque and less vain please.) 

When I turned 40, I found myself announcing it with slightly inappropriate or at least unnecessary frequency, solely in the hope of getting someone to say I didn't look it. Just mentioning in passing that, yes, I'm 40. I turned 40, did I mention? I actually told a group of, well I'll call them acquaintances because they weren't total strangers, that when I turned 40, I needed to find a good hairdresser to give me a sharp, edgy new look because otherwise I always end up with a middle-aged haircut because I'm 40 and when I go to the hairdresser's they just see a 40-year-old sitting there.

Do I live in a far-off era where a woman mentions in passing that she is a shade over 22 and everyone gasps in disbelief and denies that such a thing is possible? Which when you think about it is slightly insulting. You are so old that we can't quite believe how old you are. You look quite ordinary but actually you are very very old. Who woulda thunk it?

To my immense and lasting displeasure no one else is living in this olden-days-tyme with me because I don't think anyone said that thing about how I couldn't possibly be 40. No one. Not a single person. I was secretly, silently crushed that no one expressed shock and denial even though I know that the whole thing is a little perverse and really doesn't represent what I like to think I stand for and even if I don't look 25 35 younger I'm perfectly normal looking. So what if I often while away a morning moment or two propping up parts of my face with my palms and deciding which bits (jowl winch/chin implant) to surgically alter.

What with all the not-working and not-earning and watching my productive years draining away, I am worried that one day I will look back and clearly see all the wasted time and bad decisions and regret my spinelessness and utter refusal to challenge myself. So on one hand: worried a bit about losing my youthful beauty.* On the other hand: quivering in helpless terror of the relentless march into regretful old age and miserable death. See!? - only a little vain but a lot worried, which means I'm brainy, right?

On yet another hand (cos who says you can only have two), taking stock of the staggering achievements of my middle years, there's no disputing that 1) I have finally succeeded in the eyebrow department - my eyebrows are beautifully shaped and reasonably symmetrical, despite the many years spent plucking the crap out of them - and 2) I make the perfect poached egg.** So time well spent then.

*Bonus - I was never very pretty to start with! Lemons + positive thinking = lemonade!
**There are three secrets. Go on, guess!

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Rattus rattus at us.

Anyone else worried about rats climbing up from the drains into your toilet bowl? Just me?

Is that an apocryphal, urban myth sort of thing, that rats can run up the pipes and lurk malevolently* in your bog waiting for you? I think I must've heard about it first when I was a kid and there was that giant-New York City-sewer-alligator kind of story going around. (And incidentally, if the sewer-alligator thing sounds crazy, here's the abstract of a New Yorker story which begs to differ. This article alone is worth the subscription. God I love that magazine. Anyway.)

So last summer when things were getting a bit, er, aromatic in the drains department, we had a visit from a lovely sewer bloke (from the Council? or Thames Water? I don't know who deals with this sort of thing now). He straddled the Edwardian manhole in our front garden and shared all kinds of interesting sewer-related information as he observed the water flowing from the taps inside. It turns out that old drains, they're a lot less drainy than we'd like. Ours were pronounced generally fine, except that there were rats - yes, a whole lotta rats - meandering in and out. "There goes another one," he said casually, and gave us a few tips on how to discourage them, which we acted on immediately. 

But now every time I use the downstairs loo I can't help but think how here's the bowl, and then there are a few feet of drain and then there's the pipe with the rats in and now I have a listen before I pick the seat up.

*Is there any other way to lurk?

Saturday 9 January 2010

Soap shmope.

Taking inspiration from Jaywalker, I am in confessional mode. Lets talk about the moderate level of self-neglect that has take place over the festive period. Not showering? Check! Not washing hair? Check! Brushing teeth sporadically (and I'm about to get those invisible plastic braces and I'm scared of what the orthodontist will say)? Yup. And also: living in pyjamas, wearing socks more than once, and then also wearing them to bed, and... but perhaps I should draw a veil over the rest. I have spent a significant chunk of time stewing in my own juices. I have a theory* that it's an extension of agoraphobia, and I remember doing this very same thing when I was 8 and I had my first bout of this desire to get and stay inside a thick layer of comforting warm nesty padding. Which I then wear for days. Padding which, admittedly, smells a little.

I am not inconsiderate. I deodorise. I wash (selectively). I am still reasonably civilised in my appearance. I am merely harking back to an earlier age, when being squeaky clean and befragranced was more for special occasions rather than every day. (Shut up, yes I am.)

But also, there is the relentless cold. I am wearing a vest, two long-sleeved cotton knit tops, a pair of leggings, a cotton knit skirt, a huge Muji smock**, a cashmere cardigan, two pairs of socks and a pair of tall leather boots. I am still freezing cold. Taking a shower feels like an insurmountable challenge. I am igloo-frozen, and the idea of taking my many layers of clothes off and then getting wet... It's just unthinkable.

Just to be clear, I have spent time with people who are seriously self-neglecting, and this is not the same thing. The long-suffering one with whom I live still buries his nose in my hair and says You smell nice. I say, Really? Because I'm pretty dirty. And he says You smell like you. Yesterday he said I smelled like digestive biscuits. I had by then showered and washed my hair and also cooked a curry, so... bit of a mystery that.

*I have a theory about pretty much everything, but that's a different story.

**...which I'm sure makes me look heavily pregnant. Meh, so what. Two fingers to Trinny and Susannah.

Tuesday 5 January 2010

So I said...

- ...I fancy something sweet. Is there anything sweet?

- There's Christmas cake.

- Yeah. I don't like Christmas cake.

- You could put some jam on it.

- And how would that make it better?

- .  ...well, I was just thinking about how you could make it different. Because you don't like Christmas cake.

Sunday 3 January 2010


Lovely sunshine yesterday. I took a walk down to the semi-derelict waterfront and had a wander. Pepys spent some time here doncha know.

It probably didn't look like this.

Soon I fear they'll knock it all down and build thousands of flats like they have everywhere else and there will be loads of boxes to sit in and nowhere to go when you leave.

On doit souffrir...

We blagged a coveted invitation to the neighbourhood NYE party this year, which was really great. I managed to glue on a great number of fabulously glamorous eyelashes - the kind that come in little clumps - and scratched my eyeball trying to remove them the next day. The glue is like the stuff you use to make model planes, and it dries to a scratchy, pointy crust. Where are all those overprotective nanny-state health and safety rules and regulations now that my cornea has been abraded I ask you?

I felt a bit bad when I saw the aftermath ready for recycling. We might have stayed to help clean up. But instead we came home and listened to loud (well, suburban politeness levels of loud) 80s music and for once we didn't carry on drinking, which was a great mercy for all concerned. Hurrah!

Happy New Year.