Thursday, January 12, 2006

I, Baker

This wholemeal loaf is my second attempt at baking bread. I am pleased with the result.
When I opened the oven door at the appointed time and an actual loaf had arisen in the tin I was satisfied out of all proportion. I strongly recommend this activity, especially if you have a little time on your hands and can cope with making an unholy mess. Do not forget to coat your hands (back AND front) with flour before kneading the dough. Otherwise, much sludge sticks to your hands and can only be removed via a humiliating trudge to the sink. I forgot twice which is why the loaf looks small - a substantial quantity of the original dough never made it to breadhood.
I'm going to push on to more advanced breads which looks like being expensive (this is a highly uncommercial enterprise). Raisin Bread, for instance, looks like setting me back about £30 to buy the ingredients. Unless you can buy 1 tablespoon of brandy. Next week - rye bread. Incidentally, I stopped eating bread recently. I only really wanted to make it. That's quite chefish.
I've just received a text message which suggests to me that I might have unsuspected powers as a motivational speaker. I had coffee this afternoon with a friend who was dreading going to a restaurant with her work colleagues tonight. I said, without any serious intent, that she should take it upon herself to be the one who made the party swing and get everyone involved in the conversation (she is quite reserved and self-conscious and seems to have a downer on most of her co-workers). I added that, on her way to the restaurant, she should think of something good about everyone who would be there. Cheesey and obvious, I know, but that was the spirit it was said in.
Well, as things turned out the planted seed insisted on growing and she had a good time and BIG THANKS to me.
This has made me acutely aware of the extent that things said casually can have an effect on others, good or bad.
Clearly, the next step is to take my own advice now that it has been safely tested on someone else. You see, I'm realising that I have developed a survivor mentality. I've been going into most situations in life with the goal of getting through them and, folks, that is not LIVING!
Ok. Enough words. Let actions speak.
I will bake a better man.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

coat hanger...not for the squeamish

This bizarre accident happened to an actor I know a few months ago in London. Acknowledgments to Ed for relating the tale. Paul, the actor, has a second job as a croupier/dealer at poker clubs and casinos. Naturally, the job requires that he wears a suit. He arrived at an engagement by taxi one evening, got out and pulled his suit (which was on a hanger) out of the back seat. This must have been a bit of a struggle because he yanked it out with enough force for the hook of the hanger to find its way between his eyeball and eye socket. In blind panic, he raised his hands to his face to try to remove the hook, thereby leaving his suit hanging from the 'peg' of his eye socket. Understandably, his instinct was to get it out of there asap and subsequent tugging freed it by ripping a big gash down his cheek which required plastic surgery.
Fortunately, his eye suffered no serious damage.
Almost certainly a unique event.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

big shoe

I broke my foot in '99. The funny thing was.....they gave me a special big shoe to go over the plaster which just happened to match my own summer footwear.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

long walk

A few years ago two friends and I set out from here to walk across Britain - about 200 miles. Only two of us made it to Robin Hood's Bay on the east coast. Don't worry - the third person didn't die en route - he had to take a bus home because of family bereavement. I feel quite proud of this endeavour. If nothing else...I KNOW how far 200 miles is, especially when there are some small mountains between you and the destination. And there is a heatwave. I was hungry all the time except for a half hour respite after our modest meals.
I could tell you lots more about this but I'd rather relate an encounter with a proper walker. A couple of years after my epic stroll I was in the south of Spain on a rock climbing trip. As we were walking to the crag one day we saw an odd figure coming towards us down the dusty road. He wore a pair of battered shoes (ordinary street shoes, not hiking boots), old shorts and a threadbare shirt. Balanced on his head was a plastic carrier bag containing obviously not much. He was about fifty years old. Naturally, we stopped to talk to him. He was friendly but not overly talkative, more interested in what we were doing than in telling his own tale but we managed to wheedle this out of him after a while.
He had set off several months previously from his home in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in North East England which, for the benefit of my International Readership, is a fuck of a long way from southern Spain (at least 2000 miles by my reckoning, given that he could not have travelled with the directness of the crow). He had done this for several years. Worked through the winter then set off walking for 4 months with just the barest minimum of possessions. Day after day, not knowing who, if anyone, he would meet. All he really said about it was that there were good days and bad days but no two days alike.
We said goodbye and he went on his way but I swear to God he took a little piece of me with him. I still think about him now and then because he was doing something that I have a very strong urge to go on a long pilgrimage to nowhere in particular ...on foot and just live each day as it comes, rough or smooth. It's not about 'finding yourself', it's just living with the unfamiliar. I'm resigned to the fact that, like most of us, I will probably never fulfil most of my dreamy ambitions. But this I can't let go of.

Friday, December 23, 2005

dead seal

I went for a walk by the estuary the other day and came across a dead seal. I looked at it for a couple of minutes then turned for home. I hadn't intended to terminate my outward journey just there but the seal was unlikely to be topped as a point of interest.
Often the most interesting thing I see down there is a dead animal - dead sheep in varying states of decomposition, a gannet fairly recently, gulls (dull).
Often you see a glove and wonder if it contains a hand. Maybe I'll find a human corpse one day. I don't think I really want to, though. A cow or a whale would be better.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

bicycle thieves

Some evil, rotten bastards stole my mum's bike. It's only when you've been wronged that you truly know how liberal you are. I would like them to be THRASHED in public.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

no news is... no news

Regular readers of this blog (ie no-one) will recall that I swallowed some glass a little while ago. My condition is stable/no symptoms.

nervous breakdown?

Today, for the first time, I attended what used to be known an an industrial therapy unit and has a modern name so bland I can't remember it. I'm going because I've not been too happy for a while and haven't been working and the govt. agent dealing with my case thought it might be a good idea. As you might imagine I was a little apprehensive arriving at this 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' kind of situation. Things went smoothly as I met the man in charge of joinery and woodturning (my activity of choice) and his assistant who were agreeable chaps. They told me it was a quiet day and introduced me to the only two other clients. I introduced myself to Tony who told me his name then asked very directly and loudly "NERVOUS BREAKDOWN????"....I replied no, not exactly then he fired off a salvo of questions along the lines of "MARRIED?...CHILDREN?....HAVE YOU EVER WORKED?" which I gave the appropriate answers. "WELL WHAT HAPPENED, THEN?" this point I asked about his background. "WORKED 20 YEARS AT STANDFAST.....GOT 3 KIDS...I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE FUCKING HELL I'M DOING HERE"
Fortunately the gaffer intervened and sent him off to paint a bench and got me started on the lathe. Which went well.
What happened was exactly what you don't want to happen in such circumstances; an immediate public discussion of the reasons why you have been sidelined from normal life. However, I coped with it pretty well and in a strange way it kind of set me up. I found myself suddenly accepting my situation and feeling comfortable with it. Poor Tony is still falling.
Best wishes to you all x I began my work the song Mad World by Gary Jules came on the radio. I kid you not.