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Head Wound

Hello, and thankyou for coming in today. Before we start I’d just like to point out that my current facial state isn’t normal. I would have worn a hat, but in the current surroundings I felt that would raise more questions than a brief explanation at the beginning of this interview would. So, my fairly unavoidably visible head head wound is due to my double life as a semi-professional wrestler.

I have to bill it as ‘semi-professional’ for tax-reasons as well as adhering to company policy. HR frown on moonlighting, even when it’s in a distinctly separate field. I think you should take that into account when considering this position, although it doesn’t affect all that many members of staff. I like to get that out of the way as early on in an interview as possible, so as not to cloud the air with it later.

So, last night was a title match with me billed as a face against Crippler Cranshaw’s crowd beloved heel and the natural escalation of ticket price demanded something more from us than our normal nipple tweaking, mat slamming fun fest. They upped the place of battle to a barbed wire (well, more chicken wire with ‘barbed wire’ written in red paint on a few clapboard signs that were zip tied through the large metal loops) cage containing a ‘typical family living room’ – subsidies from the home office have led to alterations in the scenarios we play out in the ring and each week they seem to focus on a different ‘message’ that we impart to our baying audience. This week’s ‘message’ was that while considered comparatively harmless, the lounge can be the most dangerous room in case of a home invasion, unless you are prepared.

The bout started as one would expect, with me in my usual attire of tweed plus-fours, smoking jacket, guards tie, wrestling pumps and pipe, sitting in my ‘front room’ listening to Camilla, née Shand previously Parker-Bowles now surname-less, gracing the hallowed grounds of Ambridge with her temporary presence. With a gentle knock upon the door, the only solid item in the walls of our field of battle, The Crippler™ (as he is known amongst his Definite Article loving fans) announced his presence and I stood up, turned down the wireless, adjusted my Guard du Crotch (part of my signature pre-match preparation, accompanied by the sound of a wine cork being removed forcefully from a bottle of Chateau Lafite 1979, and affordable expression of the classic which is having the value pushed upwards by my fans) and turned pantomime style to the door. With the audience shouting at me to avoid a door-opening situation and me holding my hands to my ears in the universal sign of not being able to hear their roar I turned the handle and the fight was on.

He sprung through the gap and turned a full 360 degrees, drinking in the crowds cries of disapproval at this tiny deceit, his cape flowing and gilded Nixon mask catching the light in that special way only it can. As he finished turning the crowd quieted and he slowly withdrew from a crouch to face me.

“What is this”, I cried, “an interloper in mine house? For what reason dost thou interrupt my radio listening on this frost eve?”

[The flowery language is written for me by a team of scribes selected by our shadowy overlords from the best of ITV’s sitcom writer’s room and then kidnapped during the dead of night and chained together in a room under Westfield’s shopping shed – so close, but just out of reach of the hallowed turf of TV centre to which they aspire]

“It is I”, he retorted, “The Crippler™! [pause for audience reaction] And I have come to…[further pause]…CRIPPLE YOU!”

And with that the bout began. We slipped naturally into a grapple, flicking seamlessly through the 3rd, 7th and 26th positions (a classic opener, made famous by Killa Kasparov in ’86), before breaking and flinging each other into carefully selected collapsible items of furniture. I extracted myself from the remains of a Louis XIII cabinet (replica) and grabbing a crossbow tried to put a bolt through through the head of my opponent. This was, of course, scripted and, throwing pieces of hostess trolley in my direction, he intercepted the bolt with his cloak and was pinned to the sideboard. As I approached he tore himself clear and launched at me with his signature move, the pinking shears. Gripping my head in a vice like grip between his powerful thighs he proceeded to lay punches down along my back in a zigzag pattern before throwing me effortlessly (with significant effort from myself, I might add) into an altered Ikea GRÖNÖ, which shattered at my touch.

I will stop describing the ebb and flow of combat at this juncture, as my contract forbids blow by blow accounts due to the impact on pay per view writeups, a significant income driver in these days since The World British Wrestling Foundation Society (Southern Division) has been forced from our television screen by the spectre of political correctness gone quite mad. Suffice to say that at one time I was hanging upside down from the collapsible paper lampshade as The Crippler™ pummeled my kidneys with a Jamie Oliver Flavo(u)r Shaker and at another time he was bent over the divan chair as I went about his behind with a pair of M&S slippers. It’s not as choreographed as some might say, but our sponsors do love their products to be used in contractually specific ways.

The bout was only billed to last for 20 minutes, due to only having forty 50 pence pieces ready to be inserted into the meter, and we played the crowd right up to the button. In the dying moments I removed a razor blade from the chinese puzzle box that had fallen ‘to chance’ under my hand after a heavy fall through John Lewis Mystic Square glass table, and while thrashing amongst the beaded safety glass opened a small cut in my forehead. Blood streamed as I stood, with my theatrical shaking of my head and general scooping of said fluid aiding the effect. I rounded on my attacker and, spoiler alert, performed my signature move on him, pinching first left then right nipple, before hooking his nose from the middle of his confused face and flinging him over my right shoulder into a, until that time, carefully avoided stack of Habitat vase-ware. He at last lay still and with a flourish of arm and leg entanglement I pinned him, the referee (the second of our match, after an hilarious incident involving the first and a porcelain petunia) declaring my win after a slow and, for once, uninterfered with 3 count. I stood, leaving my opponent feigning unconsciousness amongst the flapping neon tetras of a broken fish tank, and walked out of the cage into the bosom of my beloved audience.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, why did you choose us over other financial service establishments?

I have interviews to give this week. I have a chunk missing from my forehead due to an interaction with a low bookshelf while visiting my mum this weekend. This is the explanation I am tempted to go with.

Books 2010

57 books read this year, so up 12 on last year. And, as usual, some stats:

Graphic novels: 22 (otherwise excluded from here-on)
‘Proper’ books: 35
Paperbacks: 14
Hardbacks: 3
Ebooks: 18
Of which were on the Kindle: 14
Of which were read on my new Kindle since September: 10

So, almost half the books I read this year were ebooks, almost exactly the same proportion as last year. Also this year there were 6 non-fiction books (with 2 more still sitting half read by my bed), again the same proportion as last year. I am nothing if not consistent.

So, books of the year. This was surprisingly easy, as book number 57 wins – How I Escaped My Certain Fate, by Stewart Lee. If you like comedy and especially if you like Stewart Lee then you must buy this now. It’s about £6 on the Kindle and Waterstones are currently doing it half price at £6.50 (as usually it’s a very expensive paperback at £12.99). It’s part autobiography and part dissection of three of his most recent shows, all accompanied by footnotes that probably are over half of the text.

Here’s the list:
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Film 2010

…and not the god awful screen rendered turd with Claudia Winkleman. I saw 10 minutes of it and decided that if I ever have the chance I will run a bulk eraser over the stacks of hard drives that they use to store the master recordings for the good of mankind.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming and Download

So, this year I watched 52 films. Lots less than in previous years, but I’ve been too busy drinking (and have probably missed out a few from my list).

Here’s the big list (in sort of reverse order) and the traditionally pithy reviews. Italics are rewatches, bold is in the cinema:
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Movember

As I already posted (in overly effusive and probably annoying style) over on my booze blog I have decided to take part in the joys of Movember this year – growing a moustache for November in aid of men’s health charities in general and prostate cancer charities specifically. My approach to it is slightly different to most people’s – I’m used to having facial hair (and have done so for about 10 years) so the initial removal of said hair (from my face) is the important bit for me. Anyways, I done did that already, and have photos to prove it:

The Full BeardThe DechinningThe Piccadilly WeeperThe BikerThe EntertainerThe Misjudged Chaplain

The final picture of my naked jowls will have to wait until my blotchy face has recovered from its trauma (ie. tomorrow morning) and I hope (if I remember) to document my incredible moustache growing prowess over the next 30 days. I suspect it will not be successful – the first time I grew a beard I was asked if I was Amish. I really don’t like the abbreviation ‘Mo’, -tache is much better. Aug-tache isn’t as good a name though and would have led to Australians (the lovely chaps who started the whole thing) with chilly faces.

So, if you want to be lovely and sponsor me then you can over on my ‘Mo-space’ on the Movember site. At the time of writing I have raised £5, go me.

Edinburgh Festival 2010

Edinburgh 2010

I done went to Edinburgh, as has been my wont on occasion over the last few years. Yet again I went to the festival and stayed in the excellently located flat with the wonderfully uncomfortable beds that I have the last couple of visits, and I went to see many things. I was also good and didn’t let my hunger for booze blogging materiel get in the way of wandering around between shows and spent most of my time surprisingly sober. I did get food poisoning from a dodgy shepherds (actually cottage) pie, that only led to me missing one planned show (Simon Munnery – the first half was, according to comedy buddy Michael, excellent and new, but the second half was stuff that you have probably seen before if you’ve seen him in the last couple of years), but other than that things went swimmingly.

There were a few things that I wish I’d made time to see, but above all of them is Joe Power. Yes, Joe Power of being exposed as a fraud (although only by inference) in Derren Brown’s recent TV series. His show has had the level of success that I would have hoped, although he has had some with people paying just to heckle and walk out before the end. Michael Legge wrote up a lovely account of his experience with him on his Award-Winning Blog. I really dislike Joe Power, although as I’ve never met him I think it’s fairer to say that I dislike the concept of Joe Power.

For those who like the sound of my voice, me, Michael and other comedy buddy Will Howells did a podcast. Well, we spoke and Michael turned it into a podcast. It’s here, but also clickable on the little thing below:

[audio:http://thomyk.podbean.com/mf/web/kph644/090_Edinburgh.mp3]

So, things what I done saw (most of which are represented in ticket and flyer form above):
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NomNomNom – The Votening

Hello lovely people. As I posted the other day the NomNomNom 2010 voting is now open and you can be lovely (see opening sentence of this post) and vote for my team!


Strange hand position due to a large gooseberry stain on my shirt

Voting for me and Melanie (The Tarragons of Virtue) is good because:

  1. Warm fuzzy feeling, etc, etc
  2. Mel could win some knives
  3. I could win some gin.

Mel likes knives, I like gin. Anyways, please click over to the website and do some votiness. Due to the voting system that Annie Mole is using you can vote once a day, so if you do feel like stuffing a ballot box please feel free to click over every 24 hours. I might even share the gin with you.

NomNomNom – Stuffed Loin of Pork

As I posted a couple of weeks back, I decided to do NomNomNom again, this time teamed up with Melanie Seasons of OmNomLondon. When discussing the division of labour for the day we decided that I would be entrusted with the burning of meat to make our centre piece and after some researching around on the internets we found a recipe on the BBC website and settled on a Loin of Pork stuffed with Apricots and Pine nuts. Before the day I had a couple of practise attempts (with a loin and a rolled shoulder, with the loin winning on ease of cooking and taste) but the recipe didn’t change much between start and finish.

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Recipe:

  • 1kg boned pork loin, butterflied
  • 1/2 a medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2tbsp chopped sage
  • 2tbsp fresh thyme
  • 30g crumbled bread
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 10 dried apricots, chopped

Firstly I gently fried off the onion with some of the sage and thyme, until it was very soft and translucent. I then combined it with the bread (the inside of a fresh french stick made into breadcrumbs as best as I could) apricots and pine nuts. This mixed together into a fairly dry stuffing which I added a little seasoning to.

On the day we got our piece of pork from The Ginger Pig and the butcher boned and butterflied the loin for us. However, he also recommended that we didn’t stuff it as I had done in my experiments (simply dumping the mixture onto the butterflied pork before rolling it up, as seen in the piccy above) and cut a small pocket in the meat which we filled with our stuffing. This meant that nothing fell out during the cooking and everything looked prettier on serving. I then rolled it up and tied it with string (I used cocktail sticks to hold it together in my experiments but the nice butcher also threw a small ball of string into our bag, along with the ribs that he had removed when preparing our joint – I had them roasted for my dinner…they were very nice).

To aid the creation of crackling (the most important bit of most porky dishes in my opinion) the butcher scored the skin while preparing it. I then thoroughly dried the top, rubbed it down with salt and olive oil before sprinkling some more big sea salt crystals on top along with the remains of they thyme and sage, and a few good grinds of pepper. It went into the oven at 250°C for about 30 minutes before cooking for a further 30 at 160°C and finishing at 200°C for 20 minutes (unintended but fortunate as it really helped the crackling). It came out pretty much perfect, although maybe slightly under done. I cut a slice for the judges and finished it off in a pan to ensure that it was cooked all the way though, leaving the rest to rest, during which it did finish cooking – the perils of cooking to a time limit with only a vague plan.

NomNomNom10 #nom10

The crackling was great, really crispy and flavoursome, but the pork was maybe a little dry – some fruity gravy to go along with our peas and creamed leeks would have made it perfect.

We didn’t win, that honour going to Rachel and Danny – Pilluelo and the Catalan Queen, but there was some rather good food knocking around for us to dig into afterwards. Plans are already afoot for next year…

Ta muchly to Annie Mole and The Cookery School for looking after us (especially the lovely Marcella, who put up with me being frantic in a kitchen for a second year running, and the guy who cleaned up the wall that I covered in stewed gooseberries when I dropped a bowl) and to all the lovely people who loaded us down with goodies when we left.

There’s also a post over on my booze blog about our dessert…

Karaoke Circus at the 100 Club

Another pair of months has past and another Karaoke Circus has been and gone. This time it was slightly different from the last couple as it was a) at the 100 Club and b) featured the Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra in its quite wide expanse – they filled most of the width of the 100 Club with strings and brass, and the stage with a harp and Jeremy Limb (of The Trap) on piano. Another thing that was different was that I had my Proper Camera with me, having been lugging it around as ballast in the bottom of my laptop bag – the bag falls over if it doesn’t have a camera in the bottom. As such there were pictures, which are up on flickr. However as I like pictures here are a few:

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Chris AddisonRobin InceDan and The Baron
The Shaft ChorusIMGP5412

The next Karaoke Circus is at Latitude and the one after that is at the Edinburgh festival at midnight on August 17th. I arrive at 2:30pm on August 18th. The fates hate me.

NomNomNom 2010

A year has passed and I’ve managed to yet again inveigle myself into the realms of the food bloggers of London – for the second year running I’m in the finals for NomNomNom.

NomNomNom is, quite simply, a cooking competition for bloggery types. You turn up at The Cookery School on the chosen day, dump your gear, run off to the nearby market and purveyors of tasty foods, and then return to cook a three course meal for four people – one portion is served to the judges, the other three shared around the hungry competitors. We’re encouraged to go for as local food as possible, respecting seasonality and organic growing, all of which is helped by the nearby location of Marylebone Farmer’s Market and The Ginger Pig. We also have the restriction of having at least one dish prepared without any cooking, for added interest.

Last year I teamed up with Kang, of London Eater, and cooked some rather tasty things (accompanied by raw veggies), but this year me and Mel Seasons of om nom London (and also my companion behind the bar at the Blaggers’ Banquet, as immortalised in photographic form in the local paper) have appeared on the scene as the mighty Tarragons of Virtue, and we will brush all before us into a tidy heap before placing them hygienically in a bin. They didn’t ask for a team name on the application form this time, but we have one anyway.

Blaggers' Banquet
Photo (c) Carmen Valino

Our menu is decided (well, as decided as the deliberately vague descriptions we’ve given will allow. Experimentation will be done) and contains pigs, raw things and whisky, so all the food groups are covered. The big day is on the 11th of July, when we and 9 other teams will compete for the coveted title of NomNomNom Champions 2010. Hopefully this year I won’t serve a Michelin starred chef raw carrots but will cook tasty things, both of which did happen last year, although only half of them by design.

There will probably be posts about experimentation to follow (especially as I have a nice empty day on Saturday) and hopefully glory in triumph, or at least free drinks in defeat. In the meantime, here’s what I done did last time:

iPad-ness

The iPad is now finally released in the UK and thus can the local holy faithful of Lord Steve buy the latest sacrement and make sure that he can afford enough baby orphan stem cells to run the immortality tent that he regenerates in nightly. ALL HAIL LORD STEVE

I am turning my back on the holy one and am not buying one. I say that now, but my weakness for shiny things is famed and the constant “SHINY SHINY” tweets from my various acquaintances almost turned me to the buy side. Thom not having received his yet, despite an early preorder, was a final nail into the coffin of my resistance, as being able to purchase one in person before the one that he ordered a month ago arrived would be schadenfreude enough to run my sorrow powered anger engine for months. Needing to buy food and having the Waitrose at Westfield being my most accessible supermarket on the way home (and also purveyor of fine meats and boozes) was also not helping. It looked like all signs were pointing to shiny acquisition. However, I managed to do my shopping with only a quick glance in the direction of the Apple store (all good acolytes can point in the direction of the nearest Temple at any time) and on my return home I saw this in an email which has happily reinforced my resistance coffin with shiny adamantium:

To quote Token from South Park – I’m out.