Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Move over Delia...

For dinner tonight, I had very nice scrambled eggs, with ham, mushroom, onion grated cheese, and spiced up a little with a healthy dose of turmeric, mixed herbs, the ubiquitous salt (sea salt, of course) and pepper, served with a salad.  Yeah, check me, healthy as shit huh!

It was very nice, although I have to be honest, and say that I was aiming for an omelette, it turned into scrambled eggs when it became clear that the whole omelettey idea wasn't quite panning out as I planned.  The last time I tried to make an omelette (as an aside, has that first 'e' always been there in omelette?? I could have sworn it was spelled omlette... maybe that's the American way (although I'm sure that's omlet - maybe I'm just getting senile)) it wound up being the consistency of something Jenson Button could have thrown on his car and driven round the track. Let's face it, the fat lad here, can't do omelettes.

I like to cook, occasionally, although as my eggy disasters demonstrate, I'm not what you'd call a culinary master. I like to blame the tiny tiny kitchen my flat has, but in reality, I'm just not a great cook, although part of me for some reason, and despite all evidence pointing to the contrary, thinks that I could be a decent cook.

I need to cook more - part of my being the size of a manatee is down to my living for years on pizza, curry, Chinese takeaways, chip shop food, basically everything that is bad for me, in portions which would have choked a horse. I have to admit, I'm finding it hard to get out of the mindset which says "ach, stuff it, I'm phoning the Spice of Life for a carry-oot", although I know it would be much better for me. Take tonight's repast - pretty healthy, ok, eggs are high in cholesterol, but there are worse things, cheese is high in fat, but I didn't have that much, the processed ham would have been better had it been something, well, something not processed, but other than that, fresh onion, fresh mushroom, cooked with a mere waft of extra virgin olive oil in the pan, and to top it all, a salad. Yeah, you read that right, salad. It may not have been what I was planning to make, but what eventually got served up was pretty tasty (if not pretty on the plate!) and I liked it.

I have a whole list of things I want to try cooking, high amongst them at the moment is Chicken Adobo, which is a Filipino dish, involving chicken, vinegar, garlic, bay leaf, soy sauce, a vague concoction of spices, served on rice.  It sounds interesting, and most importantly, fairly straightforward, which is essential with me!

I do a decent attempt at a chilli, when I put my mind to it, with my (not so) secret ingredient - a glass of bourbon thrown in as it's bubbling away. I picked that tip up from a chef in a Mexican restaurant in the US.  I don't like kidney beans (the legume of Beelzebub) so I use normal haricot beans in their stead, and throw in some mushrooms to bulk it out, and generally, it's pretty darn good, although I never seem to get portions right, so any time I wind up making chilli, it tends to be what I have for dinner every night.  For the next month.

I will cook more, I have decided.  I liked making my simple meal tonight, it's inspired me to try other stuff.

I'll keep you updated!

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Gift of Quality

I've been on something of a West Wing marathon tonight.  The only DVD box set I have is The West Wing, and every now and again I'll wind up picking a few episodes and watch them.  Every time I do, I'm struck by just how well written and acted everything is.  As far as I'm concerned, it's the zenith of TV drama.  It has characters you buy into, stories which engage you, dialogue which is just fantastic, and is far and away, my favourite TV show, pretty much ever.

Watching the West Wing also makes me feel a little bit down.  Why?  Because I know I'll never create anything of that quality in my life.  It's something of a recurring theme for me, my ambitions are sadly not matched by my ability.  As I've said before in a blog, I've always had a vague idea that I'd like to be a writer, sadly, my literary skills are, at best, poor, at worst, embarrassing. I don't have the imagination of a Pratchett or Gaiman, I don't have the knack of writing witty and engaging prose of a Bryson. Sucks to be me, huh!

I have ideas all the time, I could be driving along the road and snippets of dialogue will occur to me, I could be thinking about something, or someone, and I will have imaginary conversations in my head, but somehow, when I try to write these down and then spin them into something coherent, it just doesn't happen for me.

Something similar happens when I press the button on my camera. I have ideas for grand images in my head, but somehow, when I come to take the picture, I just can't make the jump.  The effect is that reviewing my pictures tends to be an exercise in constant disappointment.

I fear, I am doomed to live a live of mediocrity. I am able to string a few words together, every now and again I get something decent, but for the vast majority of the time, my writing is bland, and very, very average.  Same with photographs, every now and again I will come up with something good (as can be seen with the photoshoot I did a couple of weeks ago, I actually got a few good shots out of it, which is something of a first for me, although that was mostly down to the model rather than me), but it's mostly very much 'meh'.

I am very jealous of those who are touched by genius, those who are able to write well, take amazing photographs, write beautiful songs. I wish I was one of them.

Sadly, I am not.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Projects, projects everywhere, and Still my Mind did Shrink...

I've got it into my head, that I need another project, something else to do. Despite Operation Diet 2.0 being on the go, despite my practicing for The Portraits, despite my finally picking up my camera and firing it in anger for the first time in months, the compound manner of my mind is working to persuade me that I need to do something else.

For months (actually, probably years), I've had a notion of writing and filming a short movie. As it stands it would be a very short movie, lacking as it does script, actors, or indeed, camera upon which to film.  I don't have any firm ideas for a movie, no thoughts of a plot, settings, characters or anything else, other than the desire to do it. This desire has been joined of late to make some kind of 'webumentary' (which I'm sure has to be an actual word by now, if it isn't, you read it here first, folks!) series, although again, I'm not sure what about, although I did have a vague idea that doing a 'Rough Guide to Fife' might be fun.

The idea would be to drive around Fife, go to some of the little villages which never really get mentioned (and of course, those who do) and just do a 5-10 minute piece on some interesting, and hopefully funny, facts about the place.  This idea was inspired in no small part by Anstruther. Home of the famous chippy.  Not only is Anstruther (or Ainster, if you are a local) famous for the Anstruther Fish Bar (which has been visted by royalty, Hollywood superstars and, of course, me), but it was, in the 18th century, also the home of 'The Beggar's Benison', or to give it it's full name, The Most Ancient and Most Puissant Order of the Beggar's Benison and Merryland, Anstruther. It was a gentleman's club, devoted to 'the convivial celebration of male sexuality', so in other words, a good old shaggin' club!  It had the worthies of the locale as it's members, and would meet to dine, to drink and to swap bawdy tales, review the cub stock of pornography. Remember, these were the dark days before the Internet, before VCRs, before 8mm projectors, hell, before Daguerrotypes, even (as an aside, how long do you think it was after Louis Daguerre invented his photographic process before he was round at a local girl's going "awww, come one, it'll be artistic, honest, I won't show them to anyone else, you can keep your skirt on, just whip your top off...").  The club also had "Posture Girls" who were there for the members to look at. Anyone think that look was all they did? Nah, me neither.

One of the most bizarre rituals was the initiation of new members, which involved, I'm sure amongst much else, the new initiate to be 
"...prepared in a closet, by causing his penis to be propelled to full erection. When it was thus ready, he was escorted with with four puffs of the breath-horn before the brethren and Knighthood, and was ordered by the Sovereign to place his genitals upon the Testing Platter, which was covered by a folded white napkin. The members and Knights two and two came round in a state of erection, and touched the novice tip to tip..."
Needless to say, you don't get that carry on at the local golf club!  It's these stories and anecdotes which I think are worth telling. Little snippets of history, which show some of the characters of the time. Another example would be a little known nail-maker from Easy Wemyss, who, when his livelihood was ruined by the industrialisation of the nailmaking industry, upped his family and decanted them into one of the famous Wemyss Caves in the 18th century.

The more I think about it, the more I quite like the idea. It would give me the chance to do some research, find out some interesting but pointless trivia (something which I'm sure everyone who knows me will agree, I have some kind of innate capacity for pointless trivia!), and who knows, something vaguely entertaining may come out as a result.

Anyone fancy joining me on this little venture?

Sunday, 11 September 2011

On this Day...

September 11, 2001, is a day which will resound through history, it is the 'day of infamy' of our generation.

No one will forget where they were when the attacks happened - I was in a meeting at work, which was eventually postponed so that we could go for security briefings (I worked for a defence manufacturing company at the time).  I remember watching the news on the big TV in the foyer in a stunned silence, unable, and perhaps unwilling, to believe what I was seeing.

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of the US. I love visiting the US, I had a long relationship with an American girl (who is also the only one of my exes I'm still on speaking terms with), if I though I could get a visa, I'd be on a plane tomorrow.  I remember watching the news feeling in turns sad, angry, disbelieving, incredulous, a whole tumult of emotions. I knew lots of Americans, both through work, and socially, and I knew that no matter what I felt, I wouldn't be feeling a fraction of what they were going through.

It doesn't seem like 10 years ago - I remember the feelings I had driving home, I remember thinking that the world had changed.

I'm not the worlds greatest poet, I'm not even average, I'm poor at best, but every now and again, I get the desire to write something.  I've created a little tribute to the victims of that terrible day.  I wish it were better, a better and more fitting tribute to them, but sadly, my meagre talents prevent it being so.  Nonetheless, I want to give it, regardless of it's poor standard, on this day, I feel it's important to show any tribute to them.

We turn our eyes unto the heavens 
Our thoughts out to the stars
We turn our memories to who were lost
Our anger at the scars
At 8:46, the world did change

The horror played out on TV 
But some how not yet real 
Our souls filled with the eerie sound 
Of silence after destruction's peal 
At 9.03, the world did change

Reality returns, we realise what's seen 
So we stood in awe, and we stood in fear 
We asked ourselves 'why'
Thinking of those that we hold dear 
At 9.37, the world did change

We will not forget them 
Though we may not know their names 
Honour the sacrifice of all those who 
Stood tall and railed against the flames 
At 9.59, the world did change

The darkness of the world unleashed 
The evil that men do 
But a nation great was so misjudged 
For pride and courage were born anew 
At 10.03, the world did change

2977 lives were lost 
2977 no longer see the morn' 
2977 stars new in the sky 
2977 angels born 
At 10.28, the world did change

10 years have passed, both quick and slow 
What was seen that day, never forgot 
The rending of our innocence 
We'd turn back time, but we cannot 
On 9/11, the world did change
 They won't be forgotten. My thoughts to them. My thoughts to the United States of America.