Sunday, March 05, 2006

2006-01-13 021Why the low bloggage?

- I've got work to do. And in an bid to not do it, I've been emailing all and sundry (links carefully neglected as I'm not sure who is my sundry).
- Not much has happened.

Highlights of the week include getting ensnared by vanity, through Schmap begging use of one of my pictures. I said yes, as I thought they could have taken it anyway, plus it means I get to add it to the list of projects my photography has been used in. I'm not sure if they go above or below the Jews for Jesus group who wanted an olive branch (and still haven't apparently used it).

Other features include a trip to somewhere that added twenty minutes to journey times on the M25, where I learnt lots of stuff I discovered I already knew (due to, er, my brother working on the project many years ago).

And it's so nice being given money on a train (the deposit for the overshot party). Especially when the strangers all round try to work out why some young man has just handed another young man a wodge of money, and yet there's no clingfilmed parcel making the return journey.

Pancakes are fun too (as are identifying the potential animals formed by the batter dregs), especially trying to teach someone else, and absent-mindedly remembering how to toss them mid-conversation. The tossing only worked because I wasn't thinking what I was doing. Although pancakes do also lead to not eating enough, and therefore being unduly affected by Skittles the next day (sorry Dan).

Which is my own weird way of saying I saw Munich, with my brother, on Orange 241, after eating in the same Chinese place as we ate years ago, possibly when we discussed the visited project, and both of us having exactly the same, which somehow managed to appear larger than last time, only I managed to defy convention and finish first despite using chopsticks to pick the noodles out from round the fork and spoon that came embedded in them. Obviously I was worried about missing the start of the film, and forgot that there are twenty-five minutes of adverts first.

So Munich? Um, still not sure. I think it's all morally dubious yet complex, but can't be bothered to get into the conundrums unless I have to, much preferring to look at the pretty people and laugh at the shamelessly poor continuity, which had shades of Mahabharat (the comical 80s television version, complete with the very educational traditional counting game of "how many times will you see the same person die?". So much more interesting that Sesame Street's "And today's show was brought to you by the letter ζ"). For example people would run down the same stairs thrice, or a corpse would do a volteface between shots.

Anything else? A dinner party I was an hour and twenty minutes late for. I blame Edgeware Road, and rashly abandoning the Hammersmith and City line in the naive belief that the District line would be quicker and to avoid a flautist maiming Simon and Garfunkel songs. A cold half hour later, I was beginning to suspect I might have made a mistake. Especially as somehow I ended up becoming London Underground's public information service, as the assembled masses decided I knew what I was doing and could decipher the mystical destinations which weren't on any of the official routes.

Eventually I got to Earl's Court, and having found West Brompton station when I was sort of after West Kensington, and after cursing the logic of house numbering systems in London, I arrive. I get introduced to a cacophony of girls in pink, and thus am duly chastised for wearing red and thereby adding to the pain. People make polite conversation. I soon realise it is only going to be polite small talk all evening. Oh, how I do so very much love small talk.

Do you?
How interesting.
Does he?
And how long has he been doing that?
How fascinating.
How jolly lucky.
Do you think so?
And why do you think towns over there have such odd names?
Yes, I suppose they must. Do you know, there's actually a place just north of Durban called "Shootmenow"? Of course, it's a corruption of the Afrikaans for "young hedgehog"...
With a hedgehog? Gosh. Brave man.

There's nothing like starting a meal with grace for inflicting maximum despair. Although that can soon me surmounted by and awareness that once again our hostess has perfected her frugality, and so it's 3 new potatoes each, a bit of chicken and some casseroled vegetables, of which it soon became apparent had all been cooked until the last one softened. And is this a parsnip or a bit of leek? A courgette? You always know how to surprise.

And if you think my unspoken thoughts were unkind, one of her flatmates actually said upon tasting it, "Well done you", with a slight tone of amazement. By the way, if I should ever cook for any of you, and if you should happen to make a similarly patronising comment, then you may discover that not only is the bird so fresh it's actually flying, but also the dish presented is likely to be coq au visage.

Which of course sounds like some crap gay porn film. Admittedly, the whole stewed mess was suspended in a translucent off-white and slightly bitter sauce, so I've just come up with my next devastating line (which of course I'll never use), for whatever the next hapless meal happens to be: I've tasted nicer semen.

Only, I've just realised the implications of that (look, it sounded good, ok?), and it's probably not true. By which I meant the tasting, not the nicer, although that's... um, well, look, I'm a scientist and, er, curiosity is the better part of valour or something, and er, this is going the same way as that poor sixth-form biology teacher who responded to heckling, which propounded the idea that semen tastes of vanilla, with the immortal words "no, it doesn't".

Getting back to "well done you", after that distinct period of well-done-me, which more precisely leaves me feeling rather parboiled instead of well done, is it me, or does the phrase suggest that the speaker is either offering such faint praise as to be damning, or is proposing the complimented has risen far above their base state, which is not only surprising but rare enough to receive true commendation, and thereby begs the question of just what their base state really is, and whether a not very good meal is greatly above it.

So after the light refreshments, and a growing perception that most of the people assembled come from the nice-but-dim, and coincidentally really rather rich, social cluster, came the traditional enforced merriment of board games. Pictionary; works really well when most people don't know each other, nor know how they think.

Somewhat unsurprisingly the hostess's team won (but I was playing the girl who when enquiring what I did heard the word "environmental" and thereafter asked me questions about recycling. Az - never become a doctor, as every time you meet anyone they'll wang their foot on the table and ask you identify the fungus, even if you're neonatal surgeon). But as every time I've been to anything she hosts Pictionary is involved, and I'm guessing I'm not the entirely of her social life, this does somewhat suggest that she plays it quite a lot and, judging by her responses to a single line, has memorised every answer in the set, so not even slight rampant cheating could help (I still maintain it was an exploration of the rules, and it was quicker than drawing a "wrist watch").

But perhaps it was the endless conversations about God that got to me. It wasn't really about God, more about the new prayer cushions in St Agamemnon's, and the unrelenting "Oh, St Odeon? Do you know Filly Bucklebust? She was at school with Urtica Di Oica? Oh you must know her; tremendous fun. Married Jollychap. No, no, the younger brother. Yes, that's her. Well, yes, her cousin, Pip Longstocking is getting married to the rector of St Spume. Yes. Quite. Good old Hemmy".

And what is it with Christians and doing outreach work with "the young people"? And it's normally used by people who, in any non-Christian-sex-after-marriage-so-marry-early, non-marketing-core-demographic sense, are still somewhat young themselves.

I miss having people I can talk too, and go and have fun with. That's partly what rankles slightly; the hostess used to be fairly fun, whereas now the peak of her talents is thoroughly amusing Jane Austen quotes left of twee blackboards in the kitchen. Well, I imagine they're amusing if one knows Pride and Prejudice and cares about either the quote or the presence of shelves in the closets.

Happy thought indeed.


If you're in Earl's Court again for something that tragic, get in touch with me at once, and come over to my place for dinner instead. I'm a pretty decent cook, and don't stint on the portions ;)
I may have to take you up on that, although you don't have to be a decent cook; a big bowl of pasta with a suggestion of tomato puree flung at it is fine. And I should warn you; I am very dull - why do you think I let fools talk about recycled God all evening?

But I think that's the annual token attempt at staying in touch done for this year. And at least this time we didn't part with her saying she'd pray for me.
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