Posts from November 2009

24
Nov 09

The FT Top 25 Pubs of the 00s No 22: The Lord Clyde

FT8 comments • 790 views

Walking past Disney Place through twirling snowflakes that melt on your nose and eyelashes, there’s a childlike magic in the air – it’s the last day of school! Er, I mean, work.

The last Friday before Christmas is of course Demob Day. Even if you have to nominally work for a few days the following week, you know it’s going to be in a half-empty office, and your most pressing concern will be improving your Souvlaki Tetris high score. Demob Day means you can finally relax. It means all the usual suspects will be in the same pub for once. It means arriving already half-cut thanks to extended lunchtime drinks with your colleagues. It means leaving work early anyway despite said lengthy lunch and bagging a good table.

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The Perils of Eating Vegetarian: “Fish” and Chips

Pumpkin Publog9 comments • 4,963 views

Pubs can offer many excellent things, as are being amply revealed in our Pubs of the 00s series. However, culinary invention is rarely one of them. Even self-proclaimed gastropubs rarely get further than putting ‘twists’ on the standard pub options — sausages, pies, burgers, sandwiches, fish & chips. Some of them just chuck the word ‘posh’ on the front of each and have done with it. This is because pubs should offer comfort and stability, and that’s what people want from them.

The Spirit Group (the managed arm of Punch Taverns) have, however, waded into the murky territory of food science, which they should really have left to the experts.

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The Top 100 Tracks Of All Time: 23. Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights

FT/7 comments • 1,507 views

There are 15 cover versions of Wuthering Heights on Spotify. They are all here in this playlist. Since Tom has covered everything I could say about the original here, I thought I’d look at these versions instead to see if there is a secret about the song that will be revealed. So in order of Spotify popularity:

The Puppini Sisters: They spread their Beverley Sisters for the noughties magic over Kate’s tragic, and in the process sing it as if they do not understand any of the words. Indeed they pronounce Cathy as Caffeine. Not trusting the original to be nuts enough they also add wacky milk bottle instrumentation, a musical saw and a thorough disdain for anyone who liked the original.

ANGRAAngra: I think its a non-native English speaking male singer trying it in a gentle falsetto. It is! Brazillian power metal, which only really comes on in a few drum fills and some underplayed choral guitars. Possibly a little bit too respectful, for a metal version the original has more oomph. Not bad though.

Hayley Westenra: I am guessing a country singer, again played straight but with an interesting set of lilting flutes in the background. Actually the backing is so tame we are tiptoeing into potentially Irish ballading/easy listening. Oh, she is a NZ classical music singer who later joined a Celtic band and is apparently quite big. Competent but bland.

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23
Nov 09

SPITTING IMAGE – “The Chicken Song”

FT + Popular69 comments • 7,235 views

#570, 17th May 1986, video

I wouldn’t say I was a ever a fan of “Agadoo”. But I danced to it – like “The Birdie Song” and Russ Abbot’s “Atmosphere” it was played at school discos when I was 12 or 13, to entertain the segment who were there to jump around and didn’t care about girls. I saw Black Lace as quite harmless, a thing apart from the rest of pop and not really to be judged on its terms: they were the soundtrack to marshmallow eating contests and birthday congas, nothing more. So in a way “The Chicken Song” taught me to hate them. Because “The Chicken Song” was something more: it was satire. Not only that, the B-Side was political satire.

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Three goat cheeses (cheesy lovers #40 – #42

FT + Pumpkin Publog/Post a comment • 705 views

Cone du Port Aubry

Raw French goats cheese, from Mons

Cone du Port Aubry is, as the name implies, conical. Internet anecdote says that the cheesemaker nicked his wife’s bra and used it as a cheese mould. If this is true, then the cheesemaker’s wife has alarmingly large and pointy breasts. My slice of cheese is a pale off-white on the inside, turning squishy towards the rind. The rind’s darker and partially covered in a pale grey bloom.

It’s surprisingly dense inside – the texture’s like plasticine – but it melts in the mouth. Initially the cheese tastes astringently herbal, and lemony-goaty. This fades into a contrasting creaminess with hints of coffee and chocolate and hazelnut. Towards the rind a soft mushroom taste appears, alongside some surprising fruity moments – tangerine, pineapple – and some prickly pepperyness. There’s very little bitterness in the rind; it’s soft and sweet and bright.

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The FT Top 25 Pubs of the 00s No 23: The Shipwrights Arms

FT + Pumpkin Publog11 comments • 874 views

shipwrights pic Unpacking my crate on the first day in a new office I glanced out of the window. The first thing I noticed was a pie with Hitler’s face.* The second thing I noticed was this unassuming, but tempting, little boozer.

“Excellent,” I said to my colleague, “There’s a pub opposite.”

“It looks a bit rough.”

This was nonsense. It didn’t – and doesn’t – look at all rough, it just looked like a pub. Alright, there was something unvarnished about it in comparison to Tooley Street’s other drinkeries – it was clearly not after the same clientele as Skinkers Wine Bar, or the anonymous booze barn that serves Hays Galleria.

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22
Nov 09

The Loudest Film Ever Made

Do You See + FT2 comments • 829 views

Spinal Tap does not go up to eleven. Crank could be cranked up a bit. Even a film like Transformers with its non-stop explosions and destruction does not come close to the new holder of this title. Enter the little movie that could, Tulpan from Khazakstan. Initially you would not peg this tale of nomadic sheep herding on the Khazak steppes to have the means to be that loud. In doing so you underestimate the natural sounds of storms, wind and very noisy sheep and camels. You also disregard the ear splitting volume of any motorised vehicle in this environment, and the associated increased volume of any music played to drown it out. And you are probably not considering quite how loud, and annoying, an eight year old child singing at the top of her lungs to deliberately irritate her father can be. All of this is deliberate in Tulpan, the noise just stresses the loneliness of steppes life.

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20
Nov 09

FALCO – “Rock Me Amadeus”

FT + Popular53 comments • 4,780 views

#569, 10th May 1986, video

The lyrics to “Rock Me Amadeus” cast Wolfgang M as casanova and punker, not that 95% of its English-speaking audience cared. We just got off on the bug-eyed spit-shower of consonants and the sudden detours into cod-Wagnerian backing vox. Almost everything about the record is staccato – the jittering drums, Falco’s jumpy gutturals, the layers of jabbing keyboards behind him.

It was a post-film cash-in, though only in the loosest sense: Peter Schaffer’s florid examination of genius and jealousy simply gave Falco the excuse to raid the costume box and party. Just as well – any attempted weightiness would have distracted from “Rock Me Amadeus” colossal likeability: its easy, addictive silliness that casts some of this year’s attempts at comedy in an even worse light.

JLS v Alexandra Burke: Album SCIENCE

FT4 comments • 677 views

Last year’s series of X Factor was far from depressing for fans of well-sung pop. If you were posted to Outer Mongolia last Christmas, here is a quick catch-up: Alexandra ‘Leona II’ Burke received the highest number of audience votes, pipping non-ugly boyband JLS into second. Both acts signed with the same management team and both have recently released their debut albums through Sony; both have clocked two #1 singles each since then. But which one has ended up the REAL winner? The only way to tell is…

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19
Nov 09

Tomme de Savoie, Fourme de Ambert, Abondance (cheesy lovers #37, #38 & #39)

FT + Pumpkin Publog/2 comments • 1,037 views

Tomme de Savoie

Raw-milk cow cheese from France, from Le Marché du Quartier

This wedge of cheese is grubby on the outside; gray and brown, pitted and wrinkled. Inside it’s a soft moist translucent creamy paste dotted with little holes. The inside tastes tastes tangy and bright and grassy and citrussy, the rind composty and dusty and mushroomy. It’s a happy contrast of taste and texture.

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