Everybody else has made their comments about the mindless thievery masquerading as social protest. Not much I can add except to say that the sheer nitwittery of it all can be summed up by the picture in the paper today of the bespectacled wannabe in the knitted tam-o-shanter and the mujahideen scarf carrying his personal proceeds from the looting in Hackney.
Of course, it's not only people I don't know approaching me that cause confusion (see previous post)...
There I was, walking down the Toll Road (the most salubrious location in Harrow), when I recognised a couple walking towards me. Hadn't seen them since 1976. Had been her flatmate's boyfriend for two years, had lived next door to her for a year, had been present on the day that he had moved into the road and met her for the first time.
"Chris? Anne?" I greeted them. "You haven't changed a bit, blah blah".
We agreed that no-one had changed, blahed for ages, they told me how their kids were doing, I told them about mine.
And all the time, I failed to notice that tiny gleam of panic in both their eyes. Not that they only had one eye each, but "all four of their eyes" seems like such an odd thing to say, doesn't it?
So when, having not seen them for 35 years, I then bumped into Chris a week later in Waitrose (do I have any life outside of Waitrose?) and greeted him with "Small world", he had to admit that neither he nor Anne had any idea who I was.
I have noticed them in the aisles of Waitrose a few times since then. As if by unspoken mutual arrangement, we avoid bumping into each other.
Walking past the cheese counter in Waitrose, and a voice says...
"Mike? It is Mike, isn't it?"
I admit it. Why shouldn't I? It is true, and I haven't done anything to be ashamed of. Not recently, anyway. It is a woman of a comparable age, vaguely familiar, who has attracted my attention. "How are you, how have you been, it's been ages," she continues. "Yes, but I'm sorry, I can't quite..." She smiles understandingly, but offers no further clues. I persist. "I am terrible with names." She doesn't offer hers. "You will have to remind me - how is it we know each other?" I enquire. She continues to smile and keep her own counsel. "Could it be through the Choir?" I venture. "St. Mary's?" she responds. It seems she does sing with a choir. But not the Harrow Apollo Male Voice Choir to which I once belonged. Unsurprisingly, really. "Did your husband play rugby for Roxeth Manor?" She denies the existence of a Mister Mysterwoman. "Phoenix RFC? The Questors? The Open University? Ealing Arts Club? The Malcolm Saville Society? The British Science Fiction Association?" I am grasping at straws now. She nods reassuringly, as if this random collection of organisations doesn't mark me out at some kind of intellectual gadfly. "None of those," she says, continuing "Wasn't it though Wager Street Social Services?" "No, I haven't ever had anything to do with the Social Services." (As if!) At this point my spouse turns up. "Aren't you going to introduce us?" "Yes, this is.. an old acquaintance. My wife." They nod cooly at each other. "Anyway, nice to see you again, we must keep in touch." "Yes, we must. Keep well." We walk away and my GLW gives me that look that says "I don't know what you do, but I do wish you'd stop doing it."
Listen, I was only idly flicking through the channels. I'm not even usually in on a Wednesday evening (calm down, burglars, the house is well guarded - the GLW has a black belt; uses it to cinch the waist of her black dress - the one she wears to KICK BURGLAR BUTT!) but this evening I was lounging around the ...errmm... lounge. And I came across something called "Britain's Got Talent", which, on the evidence of this show, it patently don't.
One of the performers was something called a Pixie Lott. An unlikely Pixie (is it one of the Geldorfs? They all have names like that, don't they), and it sang. It sang... oh, I shudder, it sang a song in which it made the unforgiveable rhyme.
There are three unforgiveable rhymes in rock music.
1) Arms/charms. Listen - you might be in someones arms, but you are NOT, repeat, NOT "feeling their charms". In all probability you are feeling their shoulder blades, or, if a little more friendly, their gluteus maximus. Or their pointy bits pressing into you. Or your pointy bits pressing into them. Or even (and why not?) their pointy bits pressing into your pointy bits. But you ain't feeling their charms. Confess - you don't even know where the charm is located in the body, let alone whether it is a bone, a gland or an organ, do you? Thought not.
2) Knees/please. Even when a long established creator of classic folk/rock moments like "Homeward Bound", "The Boxer" and "The Lone Teen Ranger" (yeah, no kidding), Paul Simon still attended weekly classes in the art of songwriting. Probably realised that he needed to the day he hacked out "Cecelia, I'm down on my knees, begging you please..."Face facts, brothers and sisters, if you humiliate yourself with the knees in the dirt pleading schtick, there's only one place you are headed. And it isn't a lifetime of marital bliss and equality. Might as well slap on that apron and them marigolds, 'cause you'll be bottom of the household totem pole forever more.
3) And now, to the sin committed by the Pixie Lotts; I speak of Waiting, and ... ... ... oh, you know what's coming don't you? ... ... Anticipating.
Not only one of the most overused rhymes in popular music, but also the most inappropriate.
Waiting - sitting round until something happens. Anticipating - doing something BEFORE something happens.
So you cannot be both waiting for, and anticipating, the same bleeding thing, Ms Lott. Just can't happen. Throw away your rhyming dictionary, and buy a proper one that TELLS YOU WHAT WORDS MEAN!
In this (slowly) continuing series, in which I attempt to explain to women how we men can't help it, we are just made that way, I reach the tricky area of the kitchen and the man/spoon/pan interface.
It is well known that all the "great" chefs are male. There's a good reason for this. Only men would shout and swear in a crowded kitchen, thinking that this (a) is a good way to calm things down, and (b) is an efficient way to impart information, while (c) being aware that said s-and-s-ing gives the impression that what takes place in a kitchen is actually difficult, and not just a case of sticking the veg in a saucepan of boiling water the right number of minutes before you finish caramelising the outside of a lump of meat (ensuring, of course, that the frying pan occasionally catches fire like a Texas oil-well in a John Wayne movie, thus demonstrating that cooking is not only difficult, but downright dangerous too).
Women, on the other hand, make great cooks. That's not to say they necessarily are great cooks, but that they can make them. They write about it, or demonstrate how to do it, in calm tones, with simple instructions, and they write about things people want to eat. They de-mystify it ("You will never get out of a pan fundamentally better than what went into it, Cooking is not alchemy; there is no magic in the pot" - a woman said that) while at the same time making it fun (and yes, I do mean that kind of fun.)
And, believe it or not, we men understand that we do not necessarily know best in the kitchen. Even the most arrogant of us is willing to admit that women have a mastery of the kitchen that we can never hope to match. It's the multi-tasking thing, I suspect. Watch a man - he reads the recipe, measures all the herbs and spices into small pots ready for use, gets all the constituents chopped, prepared, and lined up, in the order in which they are to be used, and then proceeds down the line from left to right tipping in ingredients while timing intervals between additions with a stopwatch. A woman, however, reads a book while languidly opening cupboards, extracting packets and tipping them unsighted and unmeasured into the bubbling pot, while stimultaneously listening to Jenni Murray and ensure that the smallest child does not eat from the cat-food bowl.
There still remains, however, the one tricky area of the man/spoon/pan interface. It is the one place where we attempt to dominate the kitchen proceedings. Leave a pot bubbling, however gently, and a spoon nearby, and every man in the house will take it in turns to stick the spoon in whatever is cooking, and have a good old stir. every man. Husband, son, guest; they all know that the male is the sole effective wielder of the spoon (and seasoning adjuster - but that's another story). I'm sure it goes back to our hunter/gatherer days, when we used to break open termite hills and extract the contents on a length of bone with a conveniently hollowed out end, dashing back to the cave to show what we had collected before dumping them into the pot to contribute to the termite stew. Meanwhile caveman wife just calmly read a cave painting, milked a dinosaur, and ensured that the smallest cave child didn't clamber into the sabre-toothed tiger litter tray. And promised herself silently, that if he added just a single pinch of dried plant leaf, she'd give him one on the boko with the rolling club. And so it remains to this day.
And if you are planning on spending time in the kitchen today, may I just leave you with the sentiment once uttered by Johnny Craddock - "May all your doughnuts turn out like Fanny's".
Rather pleased to hear that the "For better or Worse" production mentioned below (which features a snippet or two of my own writing *hem-hem*) has sold out so they have added an extra performance. So the First Night is now the closing night, and there's a new First Night on the preceding evening. End of advertisement.
Opening night of ‘Bouncers’ at the Leicester Square Theatre Basement last night. This must be one of the most compact venues in the West End, a tiny room with a bar in one corner, forty or fifty seats arranged in two and two-half rows, and a playing area fifteen feet wide by eight feet deep. A friendly and supportive crowd filled the place – I seemed to be the only person who wasn’t on first-name terms with everyone else – as the room was filled with former classmates of a couple of the cast. Having your mates in the audience makes for an easy show, but the cast didn’t need them; this production would have stirred the most hostile crowd. Director/producer/actor Antony Law has made an excellent job of turning a fairly brief play (usually played in a double bill) into a value-for-money evening’s entertainment with some inventive physical business, and like Kung-Fu fighters, the cast deliver the lines with expert timing.
‘Bouncers’ is an actor’s delight. Four cast members switch back and forth between a multitude of characters - bouncers, punters both male and female, a rancid DJ, and more – at the drop of a handbag, and when played as well as this was, it is an audience’s delight too. Simon Higgins’s Judd gave the impression of only vaguely being aware what century it was, Luke Stevenson’s Les looked like a psychotic Tom Stoppard, Anthony Law’s Ralph looked as menacing as a rat with a flick-knife, while David Bauckham was given the plum role of “Lucky” Eric. Eric’s not so lucky after all – he’s the only character in the whole show who realises that there is a world outside the nightclub, and in four beautifully delivered monologues, silenced an hysterical audience and chilled them with his vision of what the bleak world of discos, alcopops, and casual sexuality really looks like; not so funny after all.
Sure, the play shows its age from place to place. The two punks come straight from “The Young Ones”, and young women on the prowl nowadays are much more predatory than the ones on display here (or so the CCTV/Police Action TV schedule stuffers would have us believe), but the disco classics used in the show are almost certainly still being played every night in some disco around the country to this day. And the thought that nothing has really changed for the better in the thirty years since the play was written is a bleak one that resonates long after the laughter has stopped.
It's not that I like to blow my own trumpet. Oh, can the false modesty, I am as pleased as I can be to say that some stuff I wrote recently is going to be performed ON STAGE by PROFESSIONALS. I, and a whole bunch of other local writers, have provided monologues to come out of the mouths of actors. Said monologues have all been lovingly stitched together by the talented production/direction people at Finding the Plot Productions to create an entertainment called "For Better or For Worse", being presented for one night only at the Compass Theatre in Ruislip. I shall be out this weekend shopping for a broad-brimmed hat, a Llaurence Llewwelllynnn Bowen floppy shirt, a velvet smoking jacket, and a malacca cane, so that I can attend the performance looking just like Oscar Wilde. Without the Reading Gaol-issue jimmy-jams and ball-and-chain, naturellement.
Tickets are selling like crucifixes at a vampire hunters' convention. Mostly to me, I suspect.