Friday, July 29, 2005

Tesco has long annoyed me with its ability to offer crap customer service whilst simultaneously making profits of about £5,000,000 per hour*. Today I went to the Tesco below my work (literally. We’re on the first floor, they’re on the ground floor) to get fruit. I had a coupon for 50 Clubcard points (which, for the benefit of foreign readers, you’d have to spend £50 to earn), redeemable against a punnet of blueberries. So I got my berries (and some pineapple, mmm) and stood in the always-long line. Got to the till and the dude scanned my coupon. Nothing. He tried again, looked at me and said ‘Um, you have to spend £5 to get this.’
Me: No. You don’t have to spend £5. You just have to buy some blueberries. Him: £2.73, please. [Scans coupon, again, nothing. Gives me my change.]
Me: That didn’t work, did it. And you knew, didn’t you.

OK, so it’s not that big a deal. But two things I hate are bad service, and people lying to me.

Do you ever look in your wardrobe and realise that all your clothing looks the same? And that the reason for this is that your clothing is pretty much all the same, or at least many items are a variation on your favourite items? The five styles I buy (and buy, and buy…) season after season, year after year, are:

Knee length, A-line skirts. There’s just something so right about them.

The perfect black T-shirt. I have some which are tight, some which are fitted but loose; plain ones, printed ones. Basically my style idol is Joan Didion in the author pic found on all her books: long bobbed hair, rock ‘n’ roll black tee, sunglasses, cigarette, gazing into the distance.

A good cardigan. I love a nice cardi, whether it’s crochet, v-neck, round neck, polyester or cashmere.

Jeans and denim skirts. Quest for the ideal denim skirt is now reaching mythical proportions, and is into its third year.

Sparkly knitted tank tops/cardigans/jumpers. Something about the combination of any fabric + lurex brings out the Bet Lynch in me.

*Tesco redeemed itself somewhat when yesterday my purchases were rung up by a nice young man whose name badge identified him as ‘Monki’.

Monday, July 25, 2005

There is a guy I work with who drives me fucking nuts. He cannot walk down the corridor to the kitchen without accompanying his journey with an assortment of whistling, doo-da-doo-da-ing, finger clicking and general relentlessly cheery noise. I hate him.

Another bizarre noise heard recently was my niece laughing. She’s nearly four and has, after too much telly, cultivated a crazy guffaw. She unleashed it on the bus, and it goes something like HYUCK HYUCK HYUCK HYUCK HYUCK, very loudly, with each HYUCK enunciated clearly and deliberately. I am all for encouraging children to express themselves and be individuals, but, my dear, there are limits.

The scene of the crime, above

I lost about half a stone on the Bilbao Salmonella Diet, and have put it all back on, now that I have rediscovered the joys of stuffing my face. On Saturday night I made a picnic for me and Steve, but as it was grey and muggy outside and there was a threat of flying ants, we ate indoors. Read the menu and drool.

Thin slices of salty Parma ham wrapped around chunks of melon

A Polish tomato salad, made from ripe vine tomatoes, finely chopped onion, olive oil and black pepper, mixed together in a bowl

Mags’ potato salad, which I adapted to suit my lazy cooking style. New potatoes, finely chopped gherkins, mayonnaise and a little bit of Dijon mustard. If you want to be healthy and/or fancy, use 2/3 mayo and 1/3 natural yoghurt, and add a chopped Golden Delicious apple.

Creamy, pungent Roquefort and crumbly Double Gloucester with caramelised onion, French bread and Hovis crackers

Mini pork and pickle pies. It’s not a picnic without them, as I keep telling my cardiologist

Bottle of crisp, cold white wine

Pudding was vaguely healthy, but actually not at all. I made a variation of Eton Mess, substituting blueberries for strawberries. And as I don’t own a whisk, I used double cream, which you could literally stand a spoon in.

Sunday morning we had tea and shortbread while discussing our mortgage. I realise that sentence manages to make us seem simultaneously bourgeois, twee and adult, but in fact the conversation went something like this.
‘Which one shall we get?’
‘Dunno. What’s the difference between them again?’

Tomorrow is softball night, but I will not be attending this week. I did go to last Tuesday’s game, to sit and watch, and it was freezing, and I had just bought a coat, so I put it on and people made fun of me. The coat was billowy and smock-like (I returned it the next day), and on windswept Primrose Hill I looked like a shivering Pablo Picasso clutching a beer in one hand and trying to keep my bag from blowing away with the other.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Finally, some good news.

I might be living in a new home by September. Or October, as these things often overrun. We’re buying a flat in south-east London (leafy, hilly, nice cafes, restaurants and bars, affordable), a five-minute walk from the station, and a ten-minute train ride to London Bridge. While this makes me very happy, it’s also making me freak out a little bit. Not cos I’m scared of buying a place with my boyfriend when we’ve never lived together (although I am, but only a tiny bit), or because we’ll be in debt for 25 years, but because I get really, really, really attached to where I live. And my current home has, for two years, been a happy batchelorette pad, all mine. So I guess really I’m scared of two things: change, and sharing. Which I actually knew already…

But for our sisters Stateside, some bad.

This sucks. Can I write and object to this appointment, even though I don’t live in the US?

Friday, July 15, 2005

Wow! Finally! I can add pics to my blog and I don't have to download some claiming-to-be-simple-actually-difficult program to do it!

This was taken about two years ago, on Southwold pier. We had a lovely weekend there, and only one major but hilarious bust-up, in the middle of a boating lake, over whose fault it was we were going in circles and running aground. Happy two-and-a-half years anniversary, Steve.

Bean sprouts, avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, capers, salami, cous cous, beans, sugar snap peas, mint, cucumber, walnuts, red onion. Admittedly, those are the ingredients for three salads and not one, but what salads they are… And the quiche! The quiche… Warm, buttery pastry, leek and stilton filling, made that morning. Sadly the two chefs and owners of Kastner & Ovens are women, or I’d be hanging around there in a low-cut top trying to get a date with one of them…

Yesterday I went to the vigil in Trafalgar Sq with a few friends. We expected it to be silent – or low key, at least. Instead it was more of a rally/2012 Olympics showcase. A poet whose name I didn’t catch read some bad poetry, and someone else read some bad poetry too. Mayor Ken’s speech deserved and got applause, and his voice was breaking as he spoke. He is genuine in his love for the city. Trevor MacDonald read a poem by Maya Angelou, which was lovely. But we all felt the vigil might have been better with less talking, more reflection, less mentions of the Olympics.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Birthday weekend was great, but today I have major birthday come-down. Plus I forgot to brush my teeth this morning, which doesn’t help. Saturday Jean was here so we went to the V V Rouleaux playground fair, which was cute but really expensive. Then we went to the V V Rouleaux shop, where you really can spend £8 on five pieces of ribbon. We met Emerald for lunch and then went home to get ready. My birthday party was great fun, with a good mix of people and three cakes (well, four, if you count a box of Krispy Kremes). Steve bought me two cakes (and a third was hidden in the fridge at home), my sister baked a cake, and Mags provided the donuts. So really that’s five cakes. I’m on salads for the rest of the month.

Biggest surprise (and biggest, heaviest gift) was a sewing machine, a joint gift from Steve and Therese. Everyone I know is getting cushions and/or lavender bags for Christmas/birthdays from now on.

Sunday was a day of birthday surprises and a day of feasting. Brunch in bed listening to the new Sufjan Stevens album, afternoon tea at Liberty (with smoked salmon sandwiches, scone with cream and three types of jam, champagne, a pot of Earl Grey and lemon chiffon cake), and dinner at Inn the Park. When Steve booked the restaurant, which as the name suggests is in the middle of a park (St. James’s, to be exact), he didn’t realise that VJ Day celebrations would be taking place. So we sat on the terrace forking artichokes into our mouths as various regiments marched past. I wanted to wolf whistle the sailors but Steve wouldn’t let me, and when I made a comment about how, let’s be honest, most people join the military cos they want to kill people but don’t want to get in trouble for it, he asked me to keep my voice down. Hah.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Yay, we got the Olympics. Hurrah. Cos I really don’t pay enough tax already, and would very much like to pay more. Also, London has too few tourists.

Is it too late to get a cheap, beachside villa in Croatia?