Saturday, May 20, 2006

2005-10-01 024 WindfelledIt's odd; I post when I don't have time to post, but when I do, I don't.

So some recappery:
- Went for an odd, if somewhat drunken meal at a proper grown-up restaurant, with illustrations of bestiality and everything. The odd comes from the general ambience, as the outside is like a tornado in a garden centre, the interior anything theatrical (and theatres apparently have air conditioning coated in flaky gold paint, some of which intermittently drifted down), the music playing in the background is scarcely restrained to just the background and is a looped tape of shrieking women, the food is a mixture of God knows what (cue explanations of tzatziki as being like "raita", which possibly is a bit less helpful than I meant it to be), but the lamb's nice (and vegetables so lightly scalded that the broccoli phototroped during the meal) as was the attentive waiter, or at least the self sustaining wine glass. Which makes it very hard to know how much you've drunk, which is possibly why we decided to try pineapple-smuggling, which was made a bit easier, and somewhat less fun, by the waiter bringing us a plastic bag. Although I'm not sure what to make of a restaurant which serves a fruit platter at the end of the meal consisting of one pineapple, some grapes, some underipe bananas, some impossibly glossy red apples and green apples (the type that you know are all show, thus bitter, and lo-and-beholdly are), a couple of battered oranges, one token kiwifruit which one could have played cricket with, and whichever items the previous recipients have chosen to deposit amongst the fruit (yes, they came out, went back in, came out again replenished); all this with no cutlery, which is possibly why we chose to purloin the much recycled pineapple, so not only would they lose the centrepiece, but also we have have a chance of eating the fruit we (and the last 30 customers) have paid for.

The best bit? Due to the lack of ashtrays, yet in spite of the scorched velour tablecloths in a multitude of colours, all the smokers thought it was a no smoking restaurant, and went outside to smoke (at state helped by it being midsummer, whereas now it's only the leaves which say it isn't November). I like, upon being asked where the rest of the group is by the waiter and if they know they can smoke indoors, to be able to reply, somewhat gleefully, that I don't think it's occurred to them.

The name of this hideously over the top and rather deranged restaurant? It's not Sarasota, however many times I say it is. Sarastro, I think, apparently is not a contraction of "Sarah's Bistro", but the name of a character in the Magic Flute. It's on Drury Lane (just look for the plants) and the meal we had was the set menu, which was listed as costing £25 [no idea what the bulk rate was], of which I paid £10, as it was subsided (and possibly explains why I liked it).

- While browsing in Tate Modern's shop (and am I the only person who persistently refers to "the Tate", when I mean Tate Modern? It does seem to have eclipsed the old one, although it's probably only the late opening that's done it), trying not to notice how many thousands I could spend in there, I discovered who Mucha is. My mother used to have a copy of Job, and was quite cross when it was damaged. I think we can guess what her birthday present is going to be this year.

But I'm trying to work out if Job would have the same appeal if it was Rizla. Does Job still exist as a brand? And why are cigarette papers named after someone bad things happen to? Or is it a comment on the patience one needs to successfully use the product?

- I discovered that the reason Sarastro didn't mind the pineapples exiting stage left was that one of them was going mouldy. Hence hackage, internettage, buyage and bakage, et voila, un gateau d'ananas à l'envers (avec les cerises glacé enfantine). Although I still hate cooking with electricity, and fan assisted ovens are a bloody nuisance for cooking cakes.

- I was pressganged into watching American Beauty (ok, so it's my copy, and I am pressganging the pressganger into watching Eurovision tonight), while eating Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. The only problem with seeing films one knows is that one laughs before the punchline, one flinches as the scene cuts to what will become flinch-worthy, and otherwise general bemuse SG.

- I discovered that running while carrying PUDC is possibly a bad idea (it comes of seeing my brother crossing the far end of a street, running down a parallel road, having a bus and crowds get in the way, and so missing him. And of course this is when Orange decides to Network Busy permanently, as I try to ring him, he tries to ring me, and my mother tries to ring me, each time necessitating getting my phone out of my bag for the signal to drop. It's amazing what a well placed, and somewhat annoyed, "What?" can do to curtail my mother's usual loquaciousness. Especially as by this time I'd given up checking to see who was ringing, so it was anonymous irritation.

Ok, so I'd been running round cursing plane trees all day. Plane trees have nice fluffy (er, it can't be the seeds as they produce fruit) down, which they shed with great ease. Except being a plane tree, it comes with an equal mix of spikes. Now add in strong winds and no sunglasses and owie-owie-owie. Thursday afternoon consisted of Londoner doing their best impression of Cairoites, mid-sandstorm; creased eyes, bolted mouths, heads down and every other person trying to get something out of their eye. If ever the world needed to go a bit Brief Encounter, it was then.

It was also quite odd noticing the way people became invincible. They'd just stumble out into the road, in the hope the streaming taxis would stop, as looking down the road meant being blinded in the same instant.

And aren't building sites great? With their plumes of wind borne dust, sand skittering out of open bags, and bales of Rockwall slowly fraying in the wind. Hang on, doesn't Rockwall do nasty things if it gets in the lungs? So what does it do to the eyes?

- I went to my brother's (which is currently my cousin's) to test temporarily defrosted meat, which he claims is mine, and ended up having his version of spaghetti bolognaise (you can tell it's from the same family, but it's not the same as mine, although his is quicker to cook), while watching Shaun of the Dead (he'd made me watch Spaced in preparation while I was living with him, and then I moved out). The film is a slight case of "It's him! It's her! Who's tha.. oh, it's him".

He too got fed PUDC, which wasn't that battered by running after him.

- While trying to collect a copy of death certificate, I had the registrar's receptionist comment that "oh, he died two days after his birthday, that's sad. My mother did that". It took me a while to realise she hadn't noticed that the year of birth and death were the same, so there was very nearly a "So, where'd she fit you in then?"

And isn't it brilliant when you can throw people into consternation by coming ten minutes before closing (well, they shouldn't close so early), filling in a form, paying, leaving as she bolts the door behind me and she makes a pointed comment about their opening hours, only for me to notice as I walk away that's it's still not half-past yet (and they're supposed to be open until 4.30).

- There's a hole in Tottenham Court Road. There's a dip in the tarmac, a couple of cracks where it's pealed away from itself, then a chasm down into the dark depths which is about big enough to get a coke can down sideways. And judging by the slump in the road, the hole isn't the only hollow bit. It's just south of the crossing by Warren Street station, on the Sainsbury's side.

It's amazing what you find out while popping up to post something through a nearby door, while trying to get back down in time to catch the last train home (having walked round the corner to see one bus I could get just pull away, and the alternative bomb past nearly empty, ignoring the stop completely). I ended getting the penultimate one (having just missed the one before), and discovering that the automated displays don't show anything over quarter of an hour away.

- I've been naughty. I've been buying DVDs again. And of course during the traditional watching the beginning to check they work (which didn't pick up the problem on the only faulty one I have - Spirited Away has few chapters where the chapter replays rather than going into the next. I also have a pre-film copy of The Beach which is bound in the wrong order, and so has extra WTFness). Can you guess what I've been buying from the following lines?

Fetchez la vache and God gets quite irate.

Can you tell what it is yet?

It was cheap, as were the other things I bought - which managed to skew Amazon's recommendations. Where once it tried to sell me such delights as "Building Construction: Structure and Fabric Pt. 1", now it suggests oddly titled things like "My Beautiful Laundrette" (never seen, never heard of and the title's not really doing it for me).

Which, by virtue of its eightiesness and, via Eastenders, Londonness, gets me to Line of Beauty, which just so happens to be available on the BBC's website (not sure if it's UK only. Suck it and see).

Hurray, hurrah and huzzah! The BBC2 site runs to more than poor comedies! Ok, so it does Top Gear as well, except they only seem to have put up the first episode of the series, which is quite annoying. I'm also still trying to find out what happened to Nevermind the Buzzcocks. I'm guessing it's finished, but I obviously missed the bit where they said it.

I'm sure that isn't all, but I'd better get up properly.


PS. Very unimpressed with the new version of Flickr. It took me a while to find how to search the tags on just my photographs. But now if you search for "Fruit" on Anyhoo, and then the results come up, it also has related tags for each photograph. Click on one of those, for example "Apple", and it displays anything apple from the whole of Flickr, until you click the dropdown to reselect yourself and do another search. And they've changed the address bar used, so instead of ending something like "/photos/anyhoo/tags/fruit/" it's "?z=t&w=56545618%40N00&q=drink&m=text". Maybe I'm odd in preferring the Ronseal approach.

They've added a function but done it so badly it feels like they've taken one out. They've made me think I ought to be able to do something while simultaneously not allowing me to do it (whereas beforehand it didn't appear to be an option).

And another thing; I don't like the way it displays 24 thumbnails in four rows of five and one of four (and it's not apparently connected to window size). That blank space at the end does not say "more to come". It says "The End", despite being on page one of three.

Laughed out loud, yet again, Mr Hoo. Thanks for that.

Yes the BBC2 broadband site (complete with advert for the UK TV licence) is only for UK surfers (apparently it's because they're the ones that pay for the BBC through their licence fee, and webcasting whole programmes is a bit expensive for the BBC - which I thought was a very honest answer).

Love the concept of a subsided meal.

I thought it was just rude Germans (as opposed to the other sort, which are as it happens quite numerous) that did the closing hours thing.

And I see what you mean about flickr, especially the URLs, although overall I think it has improved, and I found my way immediately to the function you referred to. ...But on re-reading I see what you mean about that other bit of the function and you're right, it is counter-intuitive. Maybe they'll sort it out. Have you linked to the flickr blog entry on their 'improvements'? That'll help them work out what to do next.

That's all.
BBC: thought it might be, but it's a bit odd as I have paid no licence fee (hence watching it on a website). Anyway, if you really wanted you could probably find a UK proxy. Not that it matters.

Subsided: well, technically they all are... Ok, so this was a special case which takes too long to explain.

Flickr: but if they fix it what will I have left to complain about?
You will always find something to complain about, of this I am sure. And I wouldn't want it any other way: your rants are always fun to read.

Are you aware of the hilarious subsided/subsidised mix-up yet? I suspect not.

Ah yes, licence fees. They're going to require all computer owners in Germany who use the internet to get German TV licences from next year, because TV is now available on the internet! I am outraged since I have no intention, no not even a suitable machine, to watch TV on the internet. I have registered my complaint at the Deutscher Bundestag (well, might as well go straight to the top - although it has been passed onto the Saxony state government), so we'll see what happens. And whether the BBC tries a similar stunt.
Subsided meal: well, the lamb was slightly overcooked.

Ok, ich bin ein dyslexic. It said subs-ed, I meant subs-ed; same thing.

I didn't even know Germany had television licences. But that's absurd. Surely they could just tally licence numbers to accounts on the website? So if you buy a licence (whether or not you have a television) you can access online content by linking the valid licence number to your website username/whatever, and if you don't buy one you can't (or have to pay separately).

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