Monday, January 21, 2008



If you’ve all moved on too far with the media meme, please feel free to skip this post, if not here’s my media consumption for last week.

What I read:

Newspapers - the Saturday and Sunday Times – always the film and play reviews, although I’ll have forgotten all the ‘must-sees’ by Tuesday, book reviews ditto and AA Gill’s entertaining restaurant review. I love his writing, but sometimes his conceit and cruelty are horrible. Here he is at his most vicious on another columnist’s breakthrough diet:

What struck me as particularly poignant about this modern odyssey is that it was the clothes that X felt she’d let down[…] There was no sense of sprawling, dimpled, adipose guilt for her husband, as her fatted, sweaty bulk schlepped across the marital bed, extinguishing all thoughts of carnality.

How ridiculously pitiful and dysfunctional all this is, how utterly pathetic, how self-pitying and snivellingly vain it is to try to impress your trouser suits [...]

Well, all recipes work, if you know how to cook. The Kama Sutra works, if you know how to shag. It’s not diets that fail, it’s you, you miserable, spineless, sticky-fingered fridge magnet.

When he got to the review bit, the restaurant - Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester - didn’t fare any better, but in spite of myself, I laughed.

A slice of media I consumed a few weeks back has been giving me indigestion since. It was a letter from someone writing in with the fascinating news that since President Chavez had put the clocks back half an hour, it’s now possible to know exactly what time it is in Venezuela by turning your watch upside down. God, I wish I hadn’t read that because I’m always doing it. Go on, bet you can’t resist checking it.

Books :

La cuisine des paresseuses (the lazy woman’s cookbook)

I’m enjoying this because it’s also the lazy woman’s way to read French – a sort of token, low-brow French lesson, interspersed with some nice easy recipes and of course it gives me an excuse not to venture out onto those scary streets where I’d have to actually speak it.

The Time Traveler’s Wife

A really unusual and intriguing story where six year old Claire gets to meet her future husband for the first time when he time-travels from his 36th year. He whooshes naked in and out of her life for the next fourteen years as he time-travels at various ages, until they finally meet in the present when she’s 20 and he’s 28. Of course she knows him at once, but because he hasn’t yet reached the age of his first time-travel meeting with her, he has no idea who she is. Yeah, I know, but trust me, it’s brilliant. The great thing about being given books as gifts (this was given to me by Cliff) is that you get to read stuff you’d never choose for yourself. I thought I didn’t like fantasy, until a while ago, when I was given The Testament of Gideon Mack, which I started reading out of politeness and ended up loving, so now I’m a convert.

What I watched:

A documentary DVD called Hearts and Minds on the Vietnam war, which should be compulsory viewing for all megalomaniac presidents and prime ministers. An interview with General Westmoreland showed him urging us to understand that the Vietnamese are not like us – life is cheap to them and they don’t value it. We saw an occupying army making virtually no attempt to understand the culture of the people, chaos caused by indiscriminate and wanton destruction of homes and livelihoods, an absence of planning for the future and the insistence that the aim was simply to establish democracy, but of course any comparison between Vietnam and Iraq is nonsense.

What I surfed:

My usual blogroll, answers to the crossword and some really good food blogs I’ve just discovered. It’s amazing the trouble some people go to to cook and photograph fantastic food. But by the time I’ve gone through them all, there’s only time to make a salad.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Pills - anti-sickness, anti-depressant, anti-stupidity?

I’ve been tagged by Cliff to reveal what I've consumed media wise, which is nice, but because I’ll feel a fraud if I write only about the sensible things I’ve done and also because I’m a compulsive confessor of my weaknesses and mistakes, I feel I should mention first the incredibly stupid thing that I’ve also done.

How do you deal with the cringing embarrassment of doing something really, really stupid? An immediate and total sense of humour failure, followed by a good dose of self-flagellation is a pretty standard way for me and yesterday I excelled myself.

We’re in France at the moment and I was out shopping and looking for a cash machine. One miraculously appeared, so I popped in my card. Sadly, there was to be no satisfying little drum role before the machine released my money. Nothing happened and panicking, I stabbed repeatedly at the cancel button, but my card had been eaten. This, it turned out, was not surprising since I had not put my card into a cash machine at all. I had been bewitched by desire and in my head it had simply morphed into what I wanted it to be.

My loved one said nothing, although it would have been easier to bear if he’d shouted that I was a silly cow. At least then I could have taken on the martyrdom of the oppressed and reminded him of the unhelpfulness of name calling.

While I guarded the machine, he went in search of help. It came in the shape of a very grumpy man, impervious to my apologies, who opened the machine, declared that he couldn’t find the card and with a Gallic shrug, closed it back up and abandoned us.

While I remounted guard, my loved one went to a nearby chemist and bought tweezers. These are not the implement of choice for removing credit cards from narrow openings and it was while I was poking around with them that it occurred to me how dumb I would sound if the police suddenly wanted to know what was going on:

Them: So, tell me again why you put your credit card in a parking ticket machine.

Me: I needed some cash

Them: But wasn’t this machine painted the same bright yellow as all the other parking ticket machines?

Me: Well, yes, but…

Them: But did it have the same display of debit and credit cards that cash machines have?

Me: Well, no, but …

Them: So, in what way exactly did it resemble a cash machine?

Me: Um …it had an inviting, credit card shaped slot.

Fortunately, when I rang the bank to cancel the card they weren’t interested in how I’d lost it.

Now there's no time left for the tagging post, so I'll do that next time.

Friday, January 11, 2008


The new me

Two of my nearest and dearest announce they’re taking a break from blogging and a tiny bit more of the inclination to post my own blog evaporates. Apathy, boredom, depression and emptiness – the blogging blues look set to stay. But then, just as I resign myself to life without a blog, the lovely Wendy sends some persuasive comments and motivation returns. My head is so easily turned!

I know it’s way too late for Christmas stuff, but, as all good politicians say “can I just say …” then go ahead and say it anyway. So, those round robin Christmas cards. I’ve always thought there’s something odd about the people who write them, referring to themselves in the third person, recounting dreary, humourless lists of family achievements, but conveniently leaving out the only interesting bit about Uncle Arthur’s prosecution for an incident on Clapham Common. This extract from one of ours made me laugh: last winter we had to shorten our vacation because of the sudden death of A’s brother in December. But we were compensated in March with beautiful weather and excellent snow conditions. He sounds perfect for that Samaritans job.

I’m a compulsive list maker and always have huge To Do lists on the go and deal with them something like this: now, what shall I do first, send back the dud parcel from Amazon and take it to the post office, which will mean rummaging round for suitable packaging, or order that new food processor? – hmm, difficult one that. So, my new year resolution is to stop deluding myself - face it, you ain’t ever gonna send back that parcel while there’s a choice, so no more than two things go on the list and nothing gets added until they’re both done. How difficult does that sound?

My only other resolution is to cut down on alcohol. A while ago I was leaving my daughter’s house when she thrust a book into my hands. “What is this? Alcoholics Anonymous - you think I’m…you think your mother is an alcoholic? are you crazy?” And then she wanted to know how long it was since I’d had a day without a drink. I couldn’t remember, although I know it wasn’t the day I had a hysterectomy 6 years ago – “but… but… it’s only wine at mealtimes, I never get drunk and besides, I don’t have a health problem, apart from a neck that creaks a bit when I turn my head - but then I’ve done nothing that requires me to keep looking over my shoulder - and a little trouble sleeping." My loved one's going to keep me company, but I'm not sure how successful it will be if his face, when he drank a glass of orange juice recently is anything to go by.

A ten month rental of a cottage in the country results in a mammoth session of packing up, cleaning and finding space for the tons of extra stuff we’ve accumulated. We spend the first hour and a half back home tearing the house apart looking for the bag with the bits that go with the TV, only to find that I’ve already unpacked them and put them in a ‘safe’ place.

I reorganise the contents of kitchen cupboards. They're full of duplicate bottles of chilli, Worcester and pizza sauces in varying stages of congealing goo. I decide to put things into spare storage jars, but I’ve miscalculated the capacity, and now I have to find room for a storage jar and a quarter box of salt. I notice that another storage jar contains some exotic lain flour because I couldn't find my glasses when I was writing the label and hadn’t noticed that the p belonged to the bit that didn’t peel off.

To hell with it, I’m going back to my disorganised ways. Happy New Year to everyone.

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