An accidentally sensational pizza

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 41

Emma — Jane Austen

I usually think of this as my second favourite Austen (after Pride and Prejudice, naturally), but on my re-read of all six, I found to my surprise that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had Sense and Sensibility. Perhaps it’s partly because I had overdosed on screen adaptations recently: the Kate Beckinsale and Gwynneth Paltrow versions from 1996, the 2020 film with Anya Taylor-Joy, and the 2009 Romola Garai TV series. I really enjoyed all of them, but I guess having seen four rather different perspectives on the novel, the novel itself didn’t really have much more to show me.

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Hands up who enjoys feeling old!

Have I got good news for you!

First: the following albums, released in 1983, are as close to WWII as to the present day:

  • Billy Joel: An Innocent Man
  • Police: Synchronicity
  • Marillion: Script for a Jester’s Tear
  • U2: War
  • Genesis: Genesis
  • David Bowie: Let’s Dance
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Metal Jester: the full story

Three years ago, I posted about an early 1990s heavy metal band, Metal Jester, whose singer Richard Whitbread had also been our singer in Anne Heap of Frogs. Since then, I’ve heard from Simon, the lead guitarist, as well as Martyn, who at one point auditioned to be the bassist. Simon sent me a bunch more material, and, well, here it is!

Artwork for demo tape: see below for the actual songs.
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What I’ve been listening to in 2020

Rather belatedly … Here is a YouTube playlist of my now-traditional top-ten list of the albums I’ve listened to the most in the previous calendar year. (See this list of previous entries.)

I listen much more to whole albums than to individual tracks, so each year I pick the ten albums that I listened to the most (not counting compilations), as recorded on the laptop where I listen to most of my music. (So these counts don’t include listening in the car or the kitchen, or on my phone.) I limit the selection to no more than one album per artist, and skip albums that have featured in previous years. Then from each of those ten objectively selected albums, I subjectively pick one song that I feel is representative.

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How much do different kinds of cups of tea cost?

(Grammar note: I think that “How much do different kinds of cup of tea cost?” would be more correct; but it feels wrong, and I am going with what feels right. See also: who vs. whom.)

Last time, I calculated that when I make a cup of tea, it costs 2.34 pence, made up of 0.8p for the teabag, 0.7p for the milk, 0.04p for the water and 0.8p to heat the water. That is using the cheapest regular tea available. But how much do other teas cost to make?

We’ve been drinking Earl Grey for many years, and more recently Lapsang Souchong. Since Christmas, we’ve added Lady Grey to our repertoire, too. We’re buying boxes of Twinings tea-bags for all of these, though no doubt there are more expensive and better options. Let’s look at the prices.

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The Spandau Ballet joke

So Tony Hadley likes to do a bit of gardening these days — he’s getting on a bit, the touring has taken its toll, and he enyoys growing fruit trees. He has a young apple tree that didn’t really take when he planted it last year and it needs some attention, so he goes to the garden centre to get some mulch.

When he gets there he picks up a couple of sacks at a decent price, but when he gets home and opens them up he finds that he’s been sold manure instead. Not what he needed at all.

So back to the garden centre he goes, and complains to the manager. The manager takes a look, crumbles it between his fingers, and says “Nah, I don’t think so mate, it seems right to me”.

And Tony Hadley says, “No, it’s manure, smell it!”

And the manager says “Mate, trust me: this is perfectly good mulch”.

And Tony Hadley says “Ah haha, ha ha. I know this, mulch is, poo.”

How much does a cup of tea cost?

However much I might lament the inexorable downward trend of everything that was once bright and good about my country, I was born an Englisshman and am still one today — which means I drink a lot of tea. (That me be the one aspect of Englishness that survives the current apocalypse.)

I am drinking even more tea than usual at the moment, because I am once more trying to lose weight — to get below that obese threshold, into the merely overweight. Tea fills my belly without loading up the calories.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 40

If I Never Met You — Mhairi McFarlane

This is is my fourth McFarlane book. (Previously: You Had Me At Hello, It’s Not Me, It’s You, Here’s Looking at You). She continues to impress and delight, although I do have to admit that by this point the plots are slightly starting to blend into each other a bit. Continue reading

Pulled pork

It wasn’t until my 2007 trip to Oklahoma that I realised the food called “barbecue” in the USA bears no relation to the charred-on-the-outside, raw-on-the-inside sausages that bear that name over here in the UK. My visit to Van’s Pig Stand in Norman, Oklahoma was a revelation to me. I experienced meat like I had never tasted before. I’ve never attempted to replicate the ribs or brisket — one day I will — but pulled pork is astonishingly easy.

So here’s how I do it.

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