Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hip hip hurrah!

Today is my blogiversary! This blog is two years old today. I’m amazed I’ve kept it up. Also, today is the first anniversary of my burglary. I still haven’t replaced my laptop, so for half my blog’s life it has been typed on borrowed computers.

Friday, May 30, 2008

scallops again

All that shopping made me hungry, so I headed to M&S to pick up something suitably yummy for dinner.

From their Cook! Fish range, I selected Wild Scallops with a minted pea dressing – “succulent sweet wild Alaskan scallops with fresh baby spinach and a light crème fraiche and minted pea dressing” - £6.99, 316kcal, “serves 2”.

To accompany the scallops, I bought my favourite frites (£1.19, 410kcal, “serves 1”) (so much for no more carbs!), and some cherries for dessert.

M&S portion control is all over the place – I felt the scallops would be a bit of a stretch for two, whereas the frites could quite easily be enough for two. Also beware the cooking advice – they say 8 minutes for the scallops, which by my reckoning is way too long. Overcooked scallops are not good.

Dinner was very delicious – the minted pea dressing was very subtle, but complimented the scallops perfectly. I think Kensington Place started this minted pea thing with scallops (it’s one of their signature dishes), and I would say M&S has achieved a rather good supermarket version.

an evening at Ted Baker

I detect a new training programme for Ted Baker’s sales staff. They are trained to be friendly and engage with customers and lead the customer on to more purchasing opportunities. That’s ok with me; what I really dislike is the crude high-pressure sales technique one can come across in other shops. Reiss certainly was quite unpleasant a few years ago; I don’t know what it’s like now because I haven’t gone back!

Anyway, I got an invitation to Ted Baker’s Summer Evening of Shoppping with a 20% discount. I needed some shirts, so I thought I’d better check it out.

My Bank Holiday foray was to check out the scene in advance. What I didn’t say then, was that an assistant helped me with jacket sizes, and when I said I wanted to look at shirts, told me to try on a few for size because “this season we are cutting our shirts slim”.

Did she just call me fat??! Cue Hedgie leaves shop fast.

However, the lure of a bargain and Mr Baker’s shirts drew me back last night.

Luckily, I still seem to fit into my old size of shirt. :-)

However, the lighting in the changing rooms is very unforgiving – it makes me look like a pregnant hippo!

Right, that’s the end. My exercise programme is going into high gear and No Carbs! None!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

what I did on my bank holiday weekend.

I love the wet weather. For most of the weekend, I stayed snuggled under the duvet, making sporadic forays to the kitchen for more te and chocolate biscuits.

It’s really the most amazing feeling there is, to be in bed listening to the rain patter down outside.

Unless it’s havinf a bank holiday extension – heh heh! Everyone has gone back to work but I have two more days of weekend left! Yippee! :-)

Boz recently blogged the seductive charms of a ‘me’ day in London. Here follows mine (although without the helpful illustrations, I still haven’t replaced my camera :-( )

Bank Holiday Tuesday - Slept in late. Eventually got up. Reorganised the packing of the Christmas decorations (don’t ask). Put sofa throw in the washing machine. Made breakfast – oats porridge made with filtered water in the microwave, topped with chopped banana, honey, Greek yoghurt and semi-skimmed milk. Followed by a cup of tea. Soundtrack: Madonna: Hard Candy; The Last Shadow Puppets: The Age of the Understatement; Hot Chip: The Warning; and the best bits from Hot Chip: Made in the Dark.

Made a jug of Java in the cafetiere. Drank it. Caught up on the newspapers. Read about a scandalous sex book in Germany – apparently sprouting avocado stones can be used as masturbatory aids?? WTF???! Need to google to find out more.

Put throw in tumble dryer. Put jumper in the wash. Showered. Got dressed.

Cycled around Clapham Common for a bit. Went up Clapham High Street to have haircut, stopping on the way to look at the menu at Trinity, where I’m having lunch tomorrow. They’ve just brought in a new menu! Yum!

On the way back from the hairdresser, decided to stop by Macaron for a half-baguette and Moens for four slices of herbed Italian ham, which I had with slices of perfectly ripe, juicy and tasty tomatoes already in my fridge. Absolutely the most totally awesome ham and tomato sandwich. Bliss. :-)

Then I caught the 137 to Sloane Square and mooched pleasantly up the King’s Road. Looked in Peter Jones, Oliver Sweeney, Ted Baker and Waterstone’s before finally buying a bottle of shampoo at Kiehl’s.

Then caught the bus back home for tea and chocolate biscuits. Napped.

Dinner was lemon, chilli and crab linguini, followed by a bout of The Apprentice on the sofa with the flatmate. At last! Michael Sophocles is fired! Result!

Perfect day. I would adapt so well to not being a wage slave.

the end of green politics?

Catherine Bennett, in last Sunday's Observer:
"We are what we do. The piercing wisdom of the Anya Hindmarch bag in relation, at least, to middle-class green consumers is confirmed yet again by new figures showing a decline in sales of organic food and, outside the home, by a general apathy in the face of Heathrow's third runway and the exclusion of airline emissions from the watery I'm Not a Climate Change Bill.

Events in Crewe and Nantwich illustrate the difficulties of politicians intent on doing anything, such as carbon-taxing to avert catastrophe since a) no one really believes it's coming, b) they'll be dead anyway, c) the recession has left them much too fearful and poor to care, and d) they won't vote for anyone who tries to make them.

So Brown won't make himself more unpopular by reducing airline emissions or introducing personal carbon allowances. Neither he nor Cameron nor Clegg will, to their collective shame, unite behind an effective carbon policy which, appearing identically in every manifesto like the nasty nougat in every box of chocolates, may put the interests of future generations before contemporary self-pity. And when Cameron, versatile friend of both glacier and motorist, finally prevails, his strategy for 'green growth' has as much chance of holding back the rising seas as did the Anya Hindmarch bag.

And fair play to the bag: at least you could carry stuff in it."

Love her line about Cameron's flexibitity. So true. Sigh.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bags Part 2

The Guardian last weekend published some photographs by James Mollison from his latest project The Disciples – photos of fans at rock gigs. Quite amusing to see Marilyn Manson and Rod Stewart fans dragged up as their favourite pop star.

Less so for me, however, was the pic of Radiohead fans.

Chuck Klosterman explains:
“What is far more fascinating is the way true fanatics can see aesthetic consistencies within the seemingly unremarkable. Until glancing at these photographs, I had never realised that the defining quality of a die-hard Radiohead fan was the wearing of a diagonal strap across one's torso. What does that even mean? What do these people hear on Bodysnatchers that makes this visual determination so self-evident? It's not like this extraneous strap is some kind of widespread youth trend that lead guitarist Johnny Greenwood is spearheading; this is not like thousands of teenagers getting Beatles haircuts because that's the style of the time. It is not a look that will spill over into conventional society.

This personal choice has something to do with proving that you are not like a normal person, and it suggests you understand something about Radiohead that the average citizen cannot see or hear or feel. It goes to the nucleus of why pop music matters - at its highest levels of achievement, rock'n'roll is supposed to serve as "lifestyle music". It should have the potential to inform every single decision about being alive. And for these photogenic goofballs, it obviously does.”

By "diagonal strap" Mr Klosterman (American?) is referring to the visible part of an over-shoulder messenger bag. Of course, these are far more prevalent here than in the USA. However, from the photo it is very clear that the vast majority of Radiohead fans wear these bags. Pretty alarming, for me – I love wearing using messenger bags too (great ones at Mulberry and Ted Baker)! – moreover, like the other Radiohead fans in the photo, I wear jeans with jackets, jumpers, and dark denim. Also waistcoats (or cardigans). Argh! I am clearly part of a social sub-group!

As I have said before, I absolutely love In Rainbows, Radiohead’s latest album. I kind of lost the plot with Kid A. My boss bought me Thom Yorke’s semi-solo effort The Eraser, which I also loved. Encouraged, I went back to the dreaded Kid A. I last played it (or, as I remember, the first 3 songs) 8 years ago as soon as it came out. Unfortunately for me and many other fans, this album was the anti-OK Computer: Radiohead did it deliberately to piss us off! I was absolutely amazed trying it again – it’s gorgeous, in every respect the equal creatively of OK Computer. It just took me 8 years to catch up with it!

So I bought the other intervening albums – Amnesiac (which I think is their weakest) and the much better Hail to the Thief. But In Rainbows is definitely another career peak for them. Absolutely magical.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Greener than Thou

Carrier bags are potent symbols of status and taste. Gay Banker recently posted his boyfriend’s bag hierarchy theory; we’re absolutely on the same wavelength because I do the same! – But now, the age of the shop logo’d carrier may be coming to an end. The supermarkets especially are promoting the idea of ‘bags for life’ in order to save the planet.

I’m really good at home – I use my woven recycled plastic (good!) fairtrade (excellent!) carrier bags flown in from South Africa (Oops!). However, I’m struggling to train myself at work. Usually I run out at lunch and buy myself a sandwich and a few bits of fruit to last the afternoon. Working in Kingston, I am blessed with the choice of M&S, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Asda all within easy reach. In my desk drawer I have ‘bags for life’ from all of them. Somehow, and I stress not by design, I always tend to end up at Sainsbury’s and Asda with bags from M&S or Waitrose. It bothers me slightly – will people think I’m some sort of Hyacinth Bucket character? Even worse – am I??! So, picture my relief the other day when I finally found myself at M&S with an Asda bag. The glow of righteousness was truly blinding.

Quote London

"Living in London is a wonderful thing, but it's dangerous in a credit crunch. However gloomy the predictions on house prices, food prices and share prices, as a Londoner, it can't escape your notice that a swathe of the population appears to be completely unaffected. We are sharing our city with Russian oligarchs, City whizzes, steel magnates and retail billionaires, not to mention the landed gentry, a handful of Hollywood actors and Madonna. Granted, these super-rich citizens might comprise a tiny percentage of the population, but their near-constant presence in the papers creates a false - and persuasive - impression that their rarefied lifestyles are the norm.

"Why shouldn't I have that?" we think, as our Visa bills ratchet up to the sky. "Because I'm worth it" might be the best advertising slogan ever penned, but as a credo for living, it's a bloody disaster."

- Laura Craik, Evening Standard

Monday, May 19, 2008

Good Lord!

Rush along now to The Guardian site; this blew me right off my chair.

Germaine Greer singing the praises of Victoria Beckham:

"Real elegance requires not only a great dress, but a discriminating and disciplined wearer. Suddenly I was reckoning Victoria Beckham among the all-time greats, alongside Wallis Simpson and Coco Chanel."

Actually, Germaine makes a very strong point. It’s also nice that someone serious is saying nice things about Victoria – it’s really not fair and too easy and cheap to take pot shots.

And it’s wonderful that the founding spirit of modern feminism can write such penetrating fashion analysis!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cans Festival

Well, if even the mighty TimeOut has only just got round to posting Cans Festival pics, I as a humble blogger am not too bad.The festival was amazing, and spectacularly popular: would you believe a one hour + queue on a gloriously sunny Bank Holiday Monday to get into a mangy old tunnel underneath Waterloo Station?Banksy curated a crew of graffiti artists from around the world, and enthusiastic young spray can fans had the chance to add their own work too. Huge fun, and some amazing work as well. Banksy’s hoodie was very strong.

I might upload it later when Blogger's image uploader is cooperating!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

One Nation Under Guard

I went to the Cans Festival in Leake Street under Waterloo Station this weekend, and felt I had to post the following from the catalogue (badly credited but I thin it's by Henry Porter):

In 2008 Britain is enjoying the most serious attack on personal freedom and privacy ever mounted during peacetime. Technological advances and changes to common law are threatening liberties we have held sacred for centuries, all of which is being met with barely a murmur of disapproval. Apparently if you've done nothing wrong then you've got nothing to hide, but if you've got nothing to hide then surely there's something wrong with you?

There are over 4.2 million CCTV cameras in the UK, more than one for every 14 people.

Over 600 agencies are now authorised to access personal records such as details of phone calls, emails and websites visited. These agencies include groups such as Local Authorities, the Charity Commission and the Marine and Coastguard Agency.

In the year 2006/07 there were over 32,000 such interceptions. Less than 20,000 of these were by law enforcement agencies.

All journeys undertaken on motorways and through town centres in the UK are recorded by the network of automatic number-plate recognition cameras with information retained for two years.

The National DNA Database permanently holds the DNA details of nearly 4 million individuals - proportionally the largest in the world.

40% of black men in the UK have their DNA recorded on the database, compared to 13% of Asian men, and 9% of white men.

You do not need to be charged with a crime to have your DNA recorded and it is an offence to refuse to do so.

The National Identity Register is being formed as part of the ID card scheme and will form an audit trail every time you interact with the state, such as apply for benefits, use NHS services or enrol in education.

The register will eventually contain information such as your medical records, school reports, and employment history. Information that the government has already announced it will sell to commercial companies.

Laws introduced because of terrorism mean you can currently be detained without charge for 28 days. The Government wants to increase this to 42 days. Essentially abolishing the right to trial by jury (habeous corpus) has been the foundation of British law since l215AD.

Under section 44 of the Terrorism Act over 75,000 people were subjected to a "stop and search" last year in London alone. Less than 1% were arrested, the majority of these were for crimes unrelated to terrorism.

'It is poor civic hygiene to install technologies that could some day facilitate a police state'

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

One sees strange sights on the tube these days . . .

. . . Boris Johnson, 11am on the east-bound circle line at Victoria Station. Surrounded by a gang of suited acolytes, but no obvious tv cameras to be seen.

And in other Boris news, a sad reflection on the state of Google these days:

(click on pic to make bigger)
'yippee Boris wins' arrives at THIS blog?? WTF??!!!

Ok. I promise. This is the very last post I make bemoaning the unfairness that is Boris winning the mayoral elections. Moving on now.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Please not Boris

Please not Boris, originally uploaded by Lerotic.

a desperate plea

. . . and so it came to pass


Poor old Ken. He didn't deserve to go this way.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Three cheers for the weekend . . . hic

Settling down behind my desk and hoping for a nice, quiet, chilled Friday afternoon . . . went out last night with the office to say goodbye to a colleague and can report several bottles of pinot grigio mixed with spicy, greasy “Thai” food scrambles your liver, despite gallons of water and vitamin C before bedtime.

My boss and I shared a ‘vegetarian feast’ – one of the dishes was fiendishly hot. Unfortunately, we were both too smashed to work out which one it was so we ended up being annihilated by the chilies.

so how was it for you?

Just as well I voted before work yesterday – afterwards would have been impossible.

I’ve always thought of myself as a decisive voter: not so much this time. At various stages of the campaign all three leading candidates appealed - in the latter stages I hovered between Ken and Brian as my No.1.

Wanted to vote for Ken as frankly he was the best candidate but simultaneously send him a message about Arrogance, al-Qaradawi, Dubious Funding Strategies, 2ce is enough etc etc etc. Didn’t want to be so shallow as to vote for Handsome Gay Hunk Mr Paddick but I think that’s how it turned out in the end:-(