June 18, 2014
Had a lovely lunch with some friends the other day. Invited folk over and asked them to bring a bite and a bottle. And I didn’t coordinate suggest or organise what people brought. It was entirely their decision. Whatever they felt like bringing. I’ve done it before and yet again it worked incredibly well. Amazing really. The first time I did it I had a few texts and calls in advance asking what to bring, but I abdicated responsibility. “Whatever you like, honestly”, “Would a Greek salad be ok? ” ” Really, it doesn’t matter. Buy a packet of crisps or make a pavlova, I really really really don’t mind”. Because I don’t . I don’t care. If we had ten tubs of coleslaw and nothing else I would be happy. Partly because they would have all brought the aforementioned bottle as well, but also because we can send out for pizza if we need feeding. It is their company I want. Their tales, their laughter, their fun. The food is incidental. But incidentally it has always been fabulous. And bizarrely it has always worked out every time I’ve done it. Some bring starters nibbles, others mains, some sides and some desserts. Amazing. Or is it? In truth it is probably what we should expect rather than numerous identical dishes. But it does surprise me how well balanced the spread always seems. And so bloody yummy. One thing many of my friends have in common, is that they are good cooks. And there is a swapping of recipes and tips as we tuck in.
This time the sun shone on us and we enjoyed the new garden furniture. It’s a table and settee. Worked perfectly and I am so pleased with it. Especially as we’ve never had decent garden furniture before. And the day became evening and we kept going. Some left for their evening adventures and those like me who had no plans for the night continued to chat and drink and play the music louder. Ah how simple to enjoy the conversation and camaraderie. Friendship is a wonderful thing.
June 15, 2014
I have blogged before about my father. I was very close to him as a child. Closer than to my mother as he had an air of mystery about him perhaps. Working away from the home for much of the time when I was very small, and returning often gift- laden on a Friday night. Maybe a comic – I was a big Bimbo fan, or the best present ever was a diamanté hair clip. I remember being in my parents double bed when he came back and gave it to me. I think I had measles hence the special treats of being in parents bed and a sparkly present. I worshipped him.
He very very rarely did the admonishing. Discipline and manners were left to my mother so he could always play the fool and just be fun. But once when I was about three or four I refused to go up to bed. I don’t know why. I think perhaps my parents were having one of their parties and I wanted to be part of it. But in truth I don’t know. Anyway, I refused. So mum asked dad to take me upstairs,which he did. And for some unbeknownst reason my memory is of being taken to the spare bedroom, next door to where Kate and I had our bunk beds. Perhaps they were decorating our room, putting on the polystyrene tiles we would later push our nails in to with such satisfaction. I don’t know.
But he took me up and told me to get undressed and I refused. He told me again. I still refused. And so he had to undress me. I remember making myself as rigid as possible and trying to keep my arms by my sides so he couldn’t get my jumper off. But of course he overcame my attempts and pulled my clothes off and put my nightie on. I started sobbing loudly. But I never gave in. All the time being as rigid as possible. And then hauled to the bathroom and made to clean my teeth. Except I wouldn’t so he did it for me as I continued crying.
And then carried back to the bedroom as I refused to walk. “Get in to bed now Sarah,”he told me. And I said no. I don’t know why on earth I was being so truculent, but I wasn’t giving in. “Get in to bed. Now.” He ordered. And I stood there. Trying to be defiant but with tears streaming down my face I conceded defeat and got in to bed. “Nos da cariad bach,” he said, as he always did. And left the room.
I would probably not even remember the event were it not for the fact my mum told me about it when I was grown up. Apparently dad came downstairs in tears after all this and mum asked him what on earth was the matter so he relayed the events to her. He wasn’t concerned that he might have hurt me with all the pulling and shoving he’d had to do to get me undressed. He feared the lesson he had taught me was that force will always win so there is no point fighting. He was terrified he had “broken my spirit.”
I think we can safely say he didn’t.
Happy Father’s Day Dad. Wish you were still here to celebrate it.
June 12, 2014
I love the Bush theatre, and tonight was no exception. A fabulous intimacy for a wonderfully acted play, Incognito. I’m not sure what story it was trying to tell us and if there was an overacrhing narrative it went over my head, but the numerous vignettes by the four strong cast were engrossing, believable and enjoyable. They each play four or five characters with only accent changes to help us know who they are. And they were spot on. Some poignant, some funny, some intense. I could have watched a whole play about the lesbian couple who fired off each other brilliantly. But the theme is of memory, reality and self. How do they interconnect? What is real? Is there only now? Or at least, that’s as far as I’ve got in my understanding. It would probably be worth seeing again to try to work it out better. But the main enjoyment was the actors. Every one spot on. Memorable. Three stars.
June 12, 2014
Just seeing Bill Nighy was enough. Let alone actually getting to watch him for a couple of hours. He plays Bill Nighy of course, but this time he is a highly successful restauranteur who comes to visit his ex-lover in her squalid flat a year after his wife has died. His 18 year old son had dropped in first, surprising Carey Mulligan as she hadn’t seen him since she left the family home once the wife had discovered the affair. He set the historic scene for us so that we understood what a lovely, privileged life they all led together whilst Carey and Bill carried on. And Carey loved Bill’s wife too – everything was just lovely apparently. No one mentioned the betrayal of the affair, or what they were doing to the wife.
But I digress, and without spoiling the plot suffice to say that Bill Nighy is cast as the go-getting thatcherite, a self-made man, a guy who ‘makes things happen’, whereas Carey is the caring middle class girl who has chosen to work with ‘kids at the bottom of the heap’, living in a freezing flat and commuting from one grim area of London to another. But of course Bill’s character has humour, wit and charm – although his assertion that ‘listening is half way to begging’ was a brilliant characterisation of his misogyny. And Carey is not entirely left wing do-gooder but she does feel her vocation to help ‘even one child’ out of the gutter.
Nighy was a joy and Mulligan’s body language conveyed her inner feelings. But surprisingly I didn’t feel the chemistry between them. That raging passion that had consumed them. I think it was good, but not fabulous. But I have hope that actually this will improve as the run continues. Three stars
I arrived before the others. Well, that’s not technically true as one of us had turned up the night before in error – glad my friends make stupid mistakes like I do – but I was the first to arrive on the correct evening. And what a place to walk in to. Fabulous in its very impressive frontage and even more so in the welcome warmth and buzz feel of the Holborn Dining Room – the restaurant in the hotel. It has the feel of an expanded Wolsely, The Ivy, Balthazar – you get the drift. High end brasserie stroke club, with that quasi Parisian lighting and some banquette seating near the bar and lots of tables in the huge huge expanse of the room.
As I walked in the staff greeted me with ease and competence and offered me to go to the table or hang around the bar for a while. I chose the latter and he settled me on a great, large high table by the door and drew up some stools for my missing mates. The Chablis arrived and I watched the world go by. The staff were more interesting than the customers – one in an outlandishly checked suit, stripy shirt and trainers. And I loved it. An eccentricity that suited the place. I so enjoy watching people excel at their jobs and admired the reception staff (all guys last night) welcome people – some as if old friends – and make them feel special and set them in the mood to know they are going to have a great night. And all with efficiency. there was no hanging around wondering where to go or who to ask – the guys were on point and watching everyone and serving their needs.
And of course when the others arrived we decamped in to the body of the restaurant and chose from the menu. Brasserie-style with eggs benedicts and steaks available but also quite a bit of fish including lamb with a green sauce that has anchovies in. Luckily i didn’t opt for that but had a lovely tomato and onion salad to start and then steak. Both of which were enjoyable, helped down by a small amount of wine (oh, alright then, more than a small amount). The service was friendly and easy and the only reason it doesn’t get five stars overall is that the food was not outstanding. It was good. Better than the Ivy, streets ahead of Balthazar, but not as good as the high end restaurants. But hey, it’s not pretending to be Dinner or Maze and I’d definitely go again. And again.