Attempting to order a much-needed Friday pint of Hoegaarden after work last week, I was disappointed to be told that there was none to be had. ‘Seriously,’ the barman told me, ‘it’s not just us, there’s a worldwide shortage’. Now leaving aside the possibility that this might be TRUE, and that mighty beer behemoth InBev, formerly Interbrew has just run out of its cloudy wheaty goodness, one wonders about the high risk strategy the barman was employing. ‘Worldwide shortage’ presumably implies ‘ so no point trying somewhere else for your pint, better choose something else here’. But blowback misfire response = ‘so it’s about to run out everywhere and you should immediately leave in search of the last remaining pints in Edinburgh’. Anyway, I figured that explained why the last time I’d had Hoegaarden in there it had tasted manky, and opted for a glass of wine instead, before discovering rare as golddust bottles of lovely lovely ORVAL in the off license on the way home.
Courtesy of the koganbot comes notice of this new cyber-hang-out: paper thin walls. Key attraction for our patrons must be daily reviews of a reasonably varied assortment of tracks by a hand-picked squad of trig-friendly writers who’ve thrown away the PR blurbs and gone native. Downloadable too — so yeah, it’s kind of like a smarter MP3 blog, but the names involved (e.g. xhuxx eddy; sterling clover; and that’s just in the first three days…) suggests this might be a cut above. Don’t know what the catch is yet — I guess they’ll be trying to sell something one day, and until then it’s a community-building op, but whatever, I’m sold. Go check it out, duDeZ. Then come back and post up a storm on your New! and Improved! FT.
…No, fear not gentle reader, I do not mean the classic curse of the property-owning classes’ weekends, but something EVEN MORE EVIL!!! It is CD players wot insist on doing DIY glitchy remixes of all yr favourite records, despite all teh cash spunked on cheapo clean-your-cd-player cds with posh American ladies saying ‘when the music stops, play track three’ on them and claiming ‘the cleaning has now been completed’. OK, so our flat is k-dusty, which I can see is probably not good, but WHY OH WHY do some CDs work some of the time, and others never, and others all the time, and why does it sometimes happen at the start of the album and sometimes later, and why oh why oh why. I can’t afford to get another CD player :-(
(Inspired by Ned banter below) Wierdest on-street slagging I got this year = ‘ha ha love the umbrella mate’ (you need to read this with heavy sarcasm). Of course since it was pishing it down at the time, and I was (relatively) dry, shouldn’t it have been me laughing at them? Since when did umbrellas become definitively uncool? Or was I being jeered for only having a 1.99 job from the pound shop? Anyway, stung by this witticism I will be buying a hooded anorak forthwith…
Yes yes I know commuting is irritating by definition pretty much, although Mr Popkins might like to post his bus-ride reading idylls by way of balance. But since the end of my commuting is in sight I can confess how horrific the thought of any more time spent on Scotrail listening to their weak-as-weak-piss excuses is. Today’s irritation = not so much the delay as EVERYONE ELSE on the train, on their mobiles as if a fifteen minute delay (on a fifty minute journey) was the end of the world, flapping as to ‘no idea why, we’re just stuck out here not moving’ when the guard had announced the reason quite loudly (well over the tannoy) only a few minutes before!!! Actually the thing that irritates me most about commuting is other commuters, but this is because commuting is habit-forming, and their irritating habits (sucking down their coffee as if they were some sort of sophisticated Europeans — sorry, espresso followed by a shot of grappa is cool, hot milk with coffee extract is not; worst of all reading the sodding Metro (I ranted about this in a lecture once so fed up was I, which is definitely far sadder) well, irritate me. Of course my commuting habit is being irritated, so it’s definitely all to the good if I can quit both asap!
In the shop on the way back to P’s yesterday I wondered why my throat seemed stiff and I couldn’t breathe clearly. Then I remembered that I was wearing a tie. See, I only wear these bastards like three times a year tops — job interviews, weddings (if I can’t avoid it, open collar often goes down fine), funerals. (And with funerals one of my uncles always sidles up to me and straightens it for me, which is quite sweet, really.) At the moment circumstances dictate several hours of being tied up (DO YOU SEE!!) over three days. Grrrrr. So what I want to know is: WHY TIES? What’s the fucking point? Which arsehole thought this shit up? And where can I join a queue to kick his corporate ass. Peace out, dude.
I have no great distaste for the people of Glasgow, individually. And possibly even collectively, when they take time off from posing like boho-art-school-scenester-clones or squandering money on designer costumes to squash their oh-so-ample irn-bru and tunnocks tea-cake fueled curves into or smelling of drink and wee at 11 in the morning, that is. BUT why oh why oh why oh why is it that when descending on board their hornby 00 trainset of an underground railway they can’t be arsed to hold on to their tickets so litter them across the turnstyles, the station concourse floor, the steps down, the plaform, like an outrageous slug trailing a rancid secretion of flimsy cardboard. Is it because they are too cool for tickets so want to pretend they have not bought one and are breaking the law (rebels!)? Because the nasty nasty brown and orange colour scheme is not sufficiently retro (or the wrong retro?) for their razor-honed fashion sense? Is it just because they are lazy as fuck and putting a ticket in a pocket or a bin would deplete their valuable energy reserves?
(Also: mystery, why is their underground so sodding small? Because during the night it secretly doubles as transport for gnomes? Because the council ran out of money when digging it? Because the average height of a Glaswegian is several feet below the UK average due to poverty, poor housing and monstrous inbreeding?)
The most repeated joke doing the rounds yesterday at the Grange ground in Edinburgh was that the only thing stopping Scotland from being a Test side was the impossibility of ever having 5 days without rain. Not that that has ever stopped England mind, but as light rain turned heavy, turned light, turned heavy again, and the groundsmen performed ever more complicated formation movements with the covers, and the day wore on, it seemed more and more appropriate. And painful.
Do I feel a chump for spending five hours sitting in the rain until the match was finally declared cancelled at about 4pm? Yup. We were convinced that Cricket Scotland would find some way of squeezing in their statutory 10 overs to avoid having to refund the 4000 strong crowd (but give or take 1000 hospitality tent punters who presumably ate, drank and schmoozed their way through the day exactly as if Scotland and Australia had actually been battling it out with willow and leather.) Thank heavens for Deuchars IPA is all I can say.
The Scots propensity for laying claim to everything under the sun was in full evidence (Kant — Scottish, as my university tutor used to say): apparently they’re responsible for the modern game because bloke who captained the bodyline tour was Scotch. Excuse me while I choke on my balls.
But it was all good natured. My companions, more used to Easter Road, couldn’t imagine a football crowd sitting it out for that long with no promise of a spectacle. Nor would they have nipped out for sparkling wine and — I shit you not — caviar from the Stockbridge grocers. The best photo opp. was the point that the bloke dressed as a pint of IPA met the see-you-jimmy-hatted gang with the blow up kangaroo. Kids played, well, cricket behind the stands put up for the occasion. So someone was happy. Biggest spontaneous boo of the day went to the announcement that the First Minister was on the premises: Jack McConnell attracting more opprobrium than Caladon — fuck-awful cod-opera singers, imagine G4 off that there tv show doing Flower of Scotland and other sentimentalist fuckwit classics.
Disappointed though? Yes.
“The difference between Schoenberg and traditional music might be demonstrated with the help of a bon mot of Schumann’s that one can tell whether a person is musical by his ability to continue performing a piece more or less correctly when someone forgets to turn a page. This, precisely, is not possible with Schoenberg.” TW Adorno, in Essays on Music.
“I’m looking for lines you don’t expect coming at you. I’m driving along in my car sometimes, listening to the radio, and I can predict what the next line and the next line of a song will be — I can tell you what the writer’s going to say before he gets there. And I’m right. And if can predict it, anybody can predict it, and that’s mediocre writing.” Harlan Howard, Nashville songwriter, quoted by Nicolas Dawidoff, In the Country of Country.
I’ve been stir-frying again. Regular readers will remember that this has long been a source of pleasure and pain round our house. Anyway for Christmas I asked for a book about Chinese cooking, so I could learn to do things proper like, and given that there are two Chinese supermarkets within 5 minutes walk of the flat, and I had no idea where I would be living / working by the end of the year, it seemed to be a good chance to get to explore the various foodstuffs, more and less exotic, available. So obviously I’ve only used the book twice so far, both in the last week or so, and both times only to cook chicken :-)
But, but, but I can report one (so far) totally ace discovery (the lesser discovery is the numminess of sesame oil as an ingredient): the virtues of feathering. Chop yr chicken. Mix with flour and egg white. Refrigerate (20 mins, or as long as it takes to chop all the other ingredients, basically). Put the pieces into a pan of boiling water, off the heat (oil worked better the first time, but seemed an unnecessary extravagance, and since the first batch was breast, the second thigh meet, I’ve no means of comparing the effects). Stir for two minutes. Drain, and set aside. Do the rest of the stir-fry stuff and then chuck in chicken pieces at the end, cook for a little longer. And lo and behold — chicken with that great takeaway texture, cooked through but still soft and not at all dried out. Num.
Inevitably, no change on the job front after all, and although we’re moving, it’s literally 20 seconds walk away. So hopefully more experiments in the future: and, of course, you’ll be the first to know, dear reader.