Sunday, February 05, 2006

samedi soir

What the 'kin 'ell is going on, it's Saturday night and I'm not out, or Alright For Fighting (by the way, the last Elton John record of any quality was a b-side, on the reverse of 'I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues', and as for Candle In The Wind, feel free to judge the lyrics for yourself, now that we've all calmed down from the mass hysteria that possessed the nation, and absolutely nothing has changed at all other than a man and a woman who love each other got married), no, I'm sat here streaming my pearls of something for you to enjoy and perhaps even comment upon. Still, I do have the pleasure of listening to some hot lick selections from the record collection, and rediscovering some old friends. And also, I'm approaching another birthday, and there are always those couple of weeks of purdah while I consider the ageing process and my progress in life, or rather lack of it. Seethe, seethe.

The most obvious consequence of now being well beyond thirty is that whereas I once had hair like the late Marc Bolan, complete with cascades of natural curls and ringlets - I knew women who were forking out forty quid and more to have hair like mine - I now look like Grunt and Phiw Mitchell. There's no evading the baldness, so it's "Number four, please", and enjoy the first cup of decent tea in weeks. The consequence of the tea is that I won't sleep for hours yet; the Greek Genius' first recommendation to me was to give up caffeine, as it was having some serious and unrecognised [by me] effects. Firstly, I had a tremor like Ozzy Osbourne on a bungie. Secondly, I was getting more wired than a telephone exchange, and was snappier than a crocodile on the rag. Thirdly, it was beyond a crutch. I couldn't account for the amount of tea I was drinking - I estimate it at a gallon a day, but to be honest I'd lost count by 10am, and the sixth cup at work, I was lining them up, and that's on top of the pot of tea I'd drink when I got up. I kid you not. Caffeine withdrawal is dead easy, much easier than fags or booze, but the headache is awesome, believe me. And it's harder to avoid tea than gin. And now, if I have a cup of tea or coffee, I won't sleep for hours. But the Genius always insists on offering me a coffee when we meet. Ha ha. Anyway, the tea at the barber's is some compensation for the fact that my hair is now a source of sadness to me, when once it was just so beautiful...

Enough wistfulness. I went to the pub the other night, which is something I rarely do; working in a boozer for two and a half years has made me very choosy about where and with whom I drink; and it turned out to be a terrific experience. I took some associates to a place fairly close to where I live, and we were in their early evening before we went for a Chinese - we took him by surprise - and we doubled the numbers in the place. Well, everyone got their tipple and was making wry and oh so clever comments about the decor, whilst I was noting the presence of the late and aforementioned Mr. Bolan on the stereo. Well, the barman strolls over to our table, and puts down two bowls of Wotsits and salt 'n' vinegar, compliments. Nice! Then, as I'm getting down to getting pally with one particular associate and associated assets, pointing out to her that my experience of this particular hostelry was that the music is always ex-chellent, mostly because it is in essence a lift of my collection with a few bolt-ons to cater for the masses - such as the Smiths, to which she was tapping her toes, and recalling that teenage gloom which I exorcised with a completely different set of vinyl - when the same barman comes over and asks if we have any particular preferences on the music front - so I comment that I know he has some Creedence Clearwater and lo, we are Travelin'. How often does that happen? Most places, it's an earfull of shite; Best 80s Dogwank Party Album Ever, The Very Best of Simple Minds (that's a long album, then), &c; and it's blasted at you at such a volume as the staff can't hear what you're ordering at the bar, so you're leaning across like Quasimodo in an effort to tell them what you want, and find out how much cash they want, but this was so different. Loud enough to be heard and enjoyed, quiet enough to allow conversation of a discreet nature. Ah, a pleasure.

Much like the supper which I have just partaken of. My special Chicken Liver Fricasse. Or as they might say in some parts, 'Frahd Chickin Lehvers, boy'. Take one generous knob of butter or marge, and over a low heat soften half an onion, which you've slice real fine, and grind in a good bit of black pepper. Then whack up the heat and chuck in a handful of livers, which have been coarsely chopped, and as it all sizzles and crackles, keep 'em movin', and add a few drops of tabasco sauce. Once they've greyed, perhaps have a poke at 'em with a knife or fork, and as they've stopped bleeding that's the time to add the magic ingredient, which is something red and garlicy from Nando's, and as it all fries up and starts to darken and the sauce thickens and you get those lovely tangy bits round the pan, finish off with a good fistful of cashew nuts. Still stir for a couple of mins, savour the smell, then scrape it all into a bowl, making sure you get all the juice, and serve with a slice of [ideally bitty brown] bread. Parfait, mes amis. Then for pud, a small tin of pears and some upmarket ice-cream.

Is it a wonder that I'm a right old porker?

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