Saturday, 7 March 2015

Broadcast from a Part-Time Fried Chicken Taster...

There has been some significant change in my life recently. After more months of stress than I care to think about, I have left my job and I am about to start on a new one this Monday. My new job will be much more interesting than my last one with more room to be creative and develop. I will also be working with a close colleague who also happens to be a lovely friend so I am massively looking forward to getting started on this new chapter in my life and leaving all the stress of previous experiences behind me. Also, the new job is part-time! Yes! That means 4 days a week during which I will not be working! I know what you are thinking: 'Lazy Arse!' But I can't deny I am ridiculously excited about the prospect of devoting more time to my hobbies. Of course I could never afford to work part-time for the rest of my life, but after more than 10 years of long hard slog in the world of work, I feel depleted, tired and really ready for a change of pace. A different working schedule is just what I need to recharge my batteries and get my creative juices flowing....and..hopefully it will also mean more blogging hours!

So, things I learned this week are:

  • A childhood idol of mine died. Yes, I am referring to Leonard Nimoy. Obviously I knew he would die someday and that he was old enough to be my grandfather, but nevertheless when I heard the news I was shocked. I had been watching him on TV since I was 6 years old and he felt like a very permanent part of my imagination while I was growing up. Mr Nimoy had a good life and he had achieved a lot, so really we should celebrate his life as much as we mourn his passing. I started watching Star Trek many years ago and it was the Original Series with Kirk and Spock that I watched the most in those early days. I loved Star Trek and it may sound silly but the show and the characters provided a refuge for me when I felt insecure, anxious or depressed. If I could not fall asleep at night, I imagined walking the corridors of the Starship Enterprise. If I was having a trouble staying calm during an exam, I would ask myself, 'what would Spock do in this situation?' I can't say I am the most logical of people, but the character of Spock was always my favourite and I even had a pair of rubber pointed ears when I was kid and novels about planet Vulcan that I read and re-read. I did feel this was inherently geeky and I can't say I felt comfortable broadcasting my love of science fiction around either my primary or secondary schools, but science fiction and the many stories that accompany the genre have always made me feel excited and happy. Mr Nimoy, although I was aware he was not actually Mr Spock, was inexplicably tied up with the identity of the character and I had read both his autobiographies as a teenager. Of course I did not know the man personally, but from his writing he seemed like a nice person who was kind to co-workers and fans alike. Science Fiction is an unusual genre because it contains such fervent and faithful fans and followers, who care deeply about the source material and are also creative with their own ideas. Science fiction actors have been some of the most fan-focused and pleasant people in the acting world that I have met and read about. This is especially true of Star Trek actors, who take the time to meet fans at conventions, answer fan mail and really get involved in the creative process of building their characters and the Star Trek canon itself. This was very true of Mr Nimoy who helped to build the character of Spock and his famous traits such as the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, the Vulcan salute and the famous Vulcan motto 'Live Long and Prosper'. So from one small long-time scifi fan to Mr Nimoy: Rest in Peace up there among the Stars.
  • My husband is on first name basis with his car mechanic and is very fond of him. The fellow does the MOT for my husband's car and is named Bobby. Last year when our car broke down on the way to Cornwall (a mere two hours away from a small town called Marazion), we spent the rest of the journey riding in the front of a recovery truck with a cheerful and very talkative 19 year old rugby obsessive repair man. Later that afternoon when we finally arrived at Marazion, our defunct car was nosily and unceremoniously dumped next to our holiday cottage in full view of 30 or so curious pensioners. We were the talk of the complex of holiday cottages for the entire next week and were forced to have the same repeated conversation with everyone we met about our now useless and smoking car. One of these overly eager pensioners (it is true what they say, people outside London are massively more friendly to strangers) recommended a garage nearby that would be able to fix our car. My husband faithfully called the guy up and he fiddled and tinkled with the vehicle until he assured us it would work. We paid a large amount of money and shakily drove the car on the long journey back to London at the end of the week. Around a week later, the car broke down again. We felt swindled and a bit desperate. Then came the epic task of deciding what to do. Our car is an old car. But we love it. It is small, silver and totally unimpressive, but it is our 'Trusty Steed' and it gets us everywhere we need to go (except for Cornwall apparently). We consulted our parents (both sets), our friends, our work colleagues and everyone had a different opinion: 'trade it in for a new car, sell it, scrap it, repair it, don't pay the money, pay the money for repairs and improvements' etc. Everyone also had even more extreme views about mechanics: 'they cheat you, the break your car even more, they cannot be trusted, they don't pay proper tax, they charge too much' etc. We literally had no idea. Then my husband met Bobby our local mechanic. Talking to Bobby was like having a counselling session and getting your car fixed at the same time. An experienced car mechanic with a trusted business in our local area for many years, he had good online reviews, promised faithfully not to lie or cheat us and he reminded my husband of Tony Blair.....the way Mr Blair had been in early days when he was all about improving the UK and not bombing Iraq. Bobby fixed our car quickly and efficiently, he was honest about the price (which was painful but expected - like an appointment for root canal at the dentist) and he was so nice that all my husband could talk about for a week after was Bobby and his friendly conversation and our fixed car. So it was no surprise that this morning when Bobby called, my husband answered the phone as if we was talking to an old friend. 'See!' he said to me enthusiastically on his way out the door, pleased as punch that the car had passed its MOT, 'It is all about the people. You get the right people, who are good at their jobs and you can always get stuff done.'
  • This weekend we are experiencing a heatwave in the UK because of a 'warm wind' that is blowing over our lovely Sceptred Isle that has traveled all the way from the Caribbean. This is nice as it means warmer temperatures and sunnier skies, but I feel as if it is not quite the same thing as being in the actual Caribbean, which I imagine would be a lot more tropical and would involve a cocktail of some sort contained within a coconut shell sipped on a beach while wearing a sarong. Unfortunately doing this on Wandsworth Common in South London on a Saturday would make look like a weirdo.
  • Fried chicken, cheese and onion waffles and maple syrup do not make a good dinner. Last night I rode the bus all the way from work in Central London to the funky East End of London to eat dinner with three friends at a new fried chicken restaurant called Bird ( My friend Ashley expressed a worry that perhaps she was not young or cool enough for East London nowadays, something I have long suspected about myself , since I have never been that cool. Everyone in the restaurant could not have been older than 25 and our nice waitress looked like she might actually be 12 years old. I still feel pretty young at heart, so to suddenly find that you are among one of the oldest people in the room is a bit of a disconcerting shock. The couple on the table next to us had fashionable haircuts and cutting edge outfits and halfway through dinner decided to sit laconically on each other's laps oozing East London coolness. Ashley, Charlotte (who could pass off easily as a stylist due to her impeccable fashion sense) and Jen (miles younger than all of us) all studied the menu. After much internal debate, I decided on the two pieces of fried chicken on a cheese and onion waffle with maple syrup. I love waffles, I love meat with sweet sauces and if I could eat maple syrup everyday I gladly would, so I thought this was a good choice. The food arrived promptly, was hot and smelled delicious. Now, when I say that this dish was not a good dinner, it was not because anything was cooked badly. I do not fault the chef or the restaurant. It was just not quite my cup of tea. The chicken was nice, the waffle was nice and so was the syrup but together they made an odd and not entirely pleasant taste sensation. I could not quite cope with the cheese and onion flavour mixed with maple syrup. It seemed to coat my mouth and obliterate any other taste sensation. As I munched away, regretting not ordering something more normal like chicken wings, we listened to a series of loud late nineties and early noughties hits played across the restaurant bringing back memories of teenage dances and years of awkward obsessions with rap singers and pop stars. After a while we felt as if the restaurant staff were not playing these songs simply because they like TLC and The Notorious B.I.G but because they see them as retro hits. Jen, as young as she is, shuddered at the idea of songs from the nineties being retro. How old does that make us? If music we listened to as teenagers is considered retro?

  • Speaking of music, while I was in the bright yellow tiled bathroom of the above restaurant gazing at my distinctly yellowed appearance in the mirror while washing my hands in a cool retro-looking sink, I noticed they were playing different music in the toilet than in the restaurant. The song was nice, so I made note of the tune and lyrics and then sang it rather badly in the privacy of my own flat into my SoundHound app on my phone later that night. After several minutes while my high-tech and impressive phone did its mysterious thing, the song popped up in YouTube ready for me to view. It is called 'Budapest' and is by a new artist called George Ezra. I have always been puzzled by people who have a first name as their surname (such as Will Andrew, John Jacob etc) but I am not one to judge, so I gave the song a second listen and I love it! The video sort of makes me think of the daily commute on the London Underground, with everyone crowded in together and I like the sentiment of the song; giving up everything for the person you love.

The other news is that I am gearing up for International Women's Day tomorrow, starting a Scandinavian themed fan club with my friend Ashley, looking forward to two new BBC period drams about to start on TV and eating pea soup for lunch. But more on all that later...

Have a great Saturday one and all!