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>Day 195: More Words about Music and Food

26 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: The Smiths – The John Peel Sessions

Given today’s blog title, the soundtrack should have come from Talking Heads (“…Buildings and Food”), or perhaps The Undertones (“…Chocolate and Girls”) – but no, it’s The Smiths (and about time!) instead. About whom, more later.

No, the title’s a cheeky reference to my mate Simon’s new blog, “Planes, trains & automobiles” which you can find here. It worries me that not are only are people choosing to read all the guff I post here of their own volition, but I’m now also inspiring people to start their own blogs! But you should read Simon’s stuff – he’s a top man and he knows how to write as well.

And badger him for recipes. You know he really wants to go there.

And speaking of recipes, I finally got round to the smoked salmon pasta dish I promised you a few days ago. Essentially a good way of using up some leftovers, it turned into a very tasty and filling (and calorific) meal.

No pictures, I’m afraid – it didn’t stay on the plate long enough.

Start by chopping and frying off some shallots in some olive oil. Add some mushrooms and garlic to the frying pan to colour and soak up the oil.

While this is going on, boil up a big pan of salted water and add a bunch of asparagus (trimmed at the bottom to remove any woody bits) – boil for about three minutes, chop into bitesize chunks and add to the pan. Then add your spaghetti to the water you’ve just cooked the asparagus in to cook, for around ten minutes.

Whilst all this is going on, chuck the best part of a pot of double cream into the frying pan, having turned the heat down first. If you have a calorie/cholesterol concern, use some creme fraiche instead. Stir around, and let it all warm through – keep the heat low and don’t let the cream boil. Cut your smoked salmon into strips, and add to the creamy mixture. Zest a lemon, and add the fine strips of zest to the pot. Finally grate a shedload of parmesan into the pot.

Season to taste with salt and black pepper. By now your pasta should have cooked, so drain and then throw into the pot as well. Stir it all round so the pasta and sauce are well mixed, then serve and enjoy with a crisp white to cut through the cream.

Stretch out on the sofa and expire.

But all that took place at the tail end of the day. The day started with a bit of necessary pampering at the hairdressers. I’ve gone to the same hairdresser for the last eight or nine years, with one of the same two girls cutting my hair each time. Imagine my dismay when I noticed they’d opened a dedicated Men’s hairdressers in the same village! Would they now refuse to see me and pack me off to the men’s bit? Happily no – I can still go and sit with the women, have a head massage and a coffee and have my hair cut by Debra or Alison.

It was Alison today – normally Debra cuts my hair and the original plan was for her to see me at two. However my interview (see below) had been arranged for four-thirty, so I was a bit concerned about rushing and being interviewed with an itchy neck – so I brought forward the cut, which meant going with Alison instead of Debs. And which felt awfully like cheating on your girlfriend, when I saw Debs in the salon later…is that a normal reaction?

Anyway – the interview. Got there in plenty of time, and was there for a good hour and a half, interviewed by two senior members of the finance team. How did it go? Who knows. I thought it probably went well, and I think I got across all the points I wanted/needed to get across – but inevitably they have other people to see and who knows how I’ll stack up against them?

Pretty well, I would hope. But now we wait.

As I said above, The Smiths today – an album pulling together all their Peel Sessions in one place. Don’t look for it in the shops – it’s not there. Some of the tracks have appeared on legitimate releases, including Hatful of Hollow, but you’ll have to search the outer reaches of the internet if you want to find them all together in one place.

The Smiths are, of course, wonderful. You don’t need me to tell you that. Accusations of miserabilism are just lazy cliché. Anything built around the wonder that is Johnny Marr’s guitar could never be anything other than joyous.

This just might be my favourite Smiths song. ‘There is a Light that Never Goes Out’.

“Take me out tonight – to where there’s music and there’s people and they’re young and alive”.

See? Pure joy. (We’ll gloss over the rest of the lyrics, I think.)

>Days 120 – 121: Pre-Latitude planning

21 July, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Various Artists – 12″/80s/2

Final ‘merged’ post, I promise – and a quick one, as there are some full-length daily Latitude reports to come shortly for your entertainment.

Monday started with a bit of a shock – a call from my mate in Southampton, Simon. Simon’s coming to Latitude with me and my first reaction to his obviously subdued tone was that he wouldn’t be able to make the festival. If only that had been the reason for the call. Unfortunately he was calling to let me know that he was being ‘let go’ by the firm along with around 30 other partners. Yet more fall-out from the economic environment. Latitude might just have come at the perfect time for him then – a chance to get away, drink, be distracted by some quality music and ‘chill’. Here’s hoping.

Following that bombshell, it was off to the hairdressers for a light trim. Alison rather than Debra today, which has its plusses and minuses. Alison probably gives me a better haircut than Debra – but at the end of the day it’s about more than just the haircut, isn’t it? No? Oh. Anyway, we had a good old chat about festival experiences (Alison’s not long back from Download – rather her than me) and, with a head massage and coffee thrown in as well, it’s a nice way to spend half an hour or so. I should go more often.

Out of the hairdressers, and into the butchers, for pies. Pie, chips, beans and gravy for tea. Doesn’t get better etc…

Thence to Tesco’s, for last minute festival provisions. Given my poor experience at Glastonbury, the own brand Red Bull stayed firmly on the shelf, to be replaced by a gallon of Lucozade. And some cider. And white wine. Not, I should stress, to be drunk simultaneously. I also got some tomato juice and cranberry juice, to keep my vitamin C levels up. And to mix with the vodka, of course.

So to Tuesday. Off early doors to my parents, who had cards and gifts for Son No 1 and Wife No 1, who I was seeing the following day (more details to come above shortly!) And then to Warrington to sign on – and to make my excuses for my 13 week pep talk, which had been arranged on my behalf for the Thursday I was away down south. This is the one where they tell you to start spreading the job net a bit wider, and accepting that you ain’t going to earn what you want to earn, I think. I’ve also got to provide evidence that I’ve been actively looking for work, and not wasting my time sat in front of a computer screen typing pages of rubbish. Hmmmm.

Then back home, for my farewell meal of yet more homemade pizza before leaving Mrs W to her own devices for five days.

Did I mention yet that I am SO the daddy of homemade pizza? That I absolutely OWN this particular dish? Oh yes.

Today’s soundtrack – before we start getting all Latitude-specific – is from a 3-disc compilation of ’80’s hits released on 12″ vinyl. It is the second of two such compilations, which I hope explains the somewhat obscure title of the compilation. Anyway, it’s got some good stuff on it, including the Associates, Human League, Heaven 17 and Lloyd Cole, amongst others. It’s also got a track by Belouis Some, but we’ll gloss over that one, shall we?

So in tribute to the great Billy MacKenzie, here are The Associates performng ‘Party Fears Two’. Excellent beret sir!

>Day 66: Shave and a Haircut – Two Bits

20 May, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: David Bowie – Bowie at the Beeb

…as Bo Diddley might have said, once upon a time. ‘Shave and a haircut – two bits’ is, as you might know, the classic chugging ‘Bo Diddley beat’ that he used in the majority of his songs, and that can also be heard in Eric Clapton’s ‘Willie and the Hand Jive’ and The Smiths’ ‘How Soon is Now’ amongst others.

And today’s tenuous link comes down to the fact that, yes, I had a haircut this morning. And a shave, come to that, although I managed that myself. For the haircut, I took myself off to see Debra and enjoy a bit of pampering. It’s a lovely experience, the haircut – especially nowadays when the hairwash includes a head massage, and I get my own little cafetiere of fresh coffee. And a bit of girly chat, of course.

And given the proximity of the hairdressers to the local quality butcher, it would have been extremely rude not to pick up some pies for tea tonight. Steak for Mrs W, Steak and Ale (natch) for yours truly. To be served with chips and beans. And, in my case, a litre of gravy. Mrs W, not being a Northerner, does not fully understand the concept of gravy – the need for summat ‘moist’ (copyright Peter Kay) with one’s tea. Sadly the delicacy that is the ‘dip butty’ is also not on the Mrs W menu.

Made a loaf with oat and bran in it yesterday. Very tasty for breakfast, especially toasted, but unwise to eat before leaving the house. The bran content has an unnerving effect that I barely managed to contain at the hairdressers. Too much information, I know.

Had a nice email exchange with a friend this morning re Glastonbury. She’s going for the first time (a Glasto virgin, if you will) and is sorting out the necessaries for camping. She’s fretting a bit but she’ll love it. Even if it rains. Probably. Had a quick look through my list of essentials today and decided to invest in a big waterproof army surplus poncho via the web. Just in case, you understand.

Bit more progress on the job front – there’s a meeting coming up with an organisation in the near future, when diaries can be co-ordinated (not that my diary takes an awful lot of coordination at the moment). Bit of a flyer, but they are happy to talk to me, which must be a good thing. There are one or two things that I bring to the table that might be of interest to them, and I know a couple of people already in the firm who would (I think!) say nice things about me if asked…so let’s see!

Watched ‘Waiting for Guffman’ last night whilst Mrs W was convalescing with the bad back. Nice film from the Christopher Guest stable of semi-improvised films. Whilst it doesn’t quite hit the heights of Spinal Tap (playing Glastonbury – Yay!) or Best in Show, it’s still a good ‘un with some nice moments. It helps I think if you’ve ever been involved in amateur dramatics of any kind, as indeed I have, a loooong time ago! It’s currently dirt cheap in Fopp, about three quid I think – impossible to leave it there!

David Bowie on the soundtrack today – at the Beeb. This is a three-disc CD set that includes two discs of archive material, from early ‘Laughing Gnome’ era Bowie through the Ziggy years. The third disc however, that I am listening to now, is a one-off concert recorded for the BBC in 2000, covering the breadth of his career – and it’s an absolute cracker! Unfortunately, despite virtually every other note the man recorded being on Spotify, I can’t find the BBC stuff. Must be a licensing thing.

However the whole thing would appear to be sat there on YouTube – so as a sampler, here’s The Dame performing ‘Wild is the Wind’. Someone else in need of a haircut I think, David!

>Day 2: The Househusband

17 March, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: The Clash – Sandinista

You know those jobs you always mean to get round to – but never do? Well, I started getting round to them.

Nice start to the day – up and out into town, to sit in Costa with a cappuccino and a chocolate twist playing iPhone games for half an hour, before going to the hairdressers for a ‘light trim’. This is something I could easily get used to.

Hairdressers have moved on a long way since I used to sit on a plank of wood laid across the arms of the barber’s chair, the plank necessary to get me to the right elevation for Archie Stubbs to administer his ‘short back and sides’. Archie always used to perform some magic round the back of my head with a lit taper, to ‘seal the ends’ of my hair, I believe. Why don’t they do that anymore?

Anyway, I digress. The modern hairdressing experience involves a willowy blonde, a shampoo followed by a head massage, fresh coffee in my own personal cafetiere, and (ahem) an eyebrow trim. I recommend the eyebrow trim to gentlemen of my vintage, lest you begin to resemble Denis Healy (or, indeed, Mark Ellen).

Took a call from a recruitment consultant – an ex-colleague had kindly passed my details on. Nothing doing at the moment, but at least it’s one more person who knows I’m out there, looking…

Back home for pork pie, yet more coffee and bass practice. I can pick out the notes to the odd riff, but getting my fingers to go where I want them to is proving problematic. No mind, perseverance will pay off in time. He said, hopefully.

Then chores. I have known for a while that there have been foodstuffs lurking in our cupboards for quite a while now and a rationalisation of the stocks has been long overdue. The winner in the ‘longest past the post’ competition was the coffee whitener that passed its sell-by date in 2001, but it was not the only contender for most disgusting discovery on the shelves. Some instant coffee that had somehow turned into a solid indigo block probably took that prize.

On a roll, I then did a massive ‘chuck-out’ that has freed up plenty of space for us to hoard the next ten years’ worth of junk.

All in all a very satisfying day. And still not turned the telly on before sundown.

Anyway – Sandinista. iTunes has thrown up the second half of the double CD set (sides 3-6 in old money) and after a sound start (Police On My Back through to Charlie Don’t Surf) I’m now struggling with Mensforth Hill and Junkie Slip. There’s a great double and fantastic single album lurking in Sandinista, but my God, there’s some self-indulgent crap as well.

Stop press from Twitter: “Nevin: ‘Fellaini is Best In World'”. On closer inspection, Pat Nevin has stated that he believes Marouane Fellaini has the potential to be one of the best players in Europe….not quite the same thing….

So tomorrow – should be hearing from the Job Centre, 48 hours having passed since my on-line application. Best stay in for that. Few more cupboards to get through as well….

Categories: Clash, hairdresser