EDitorial ± 30-Nov-2010

TT1011, Week 11

Big game tonight: could well have been shown on Sky Sports 37, or maybe Eurosport. Defiants, clinging on to 2nd position, versus the unflappable Britannia Sparrows, relegated last season like our sorry selves. Conditions are terrible, snow and slush everywhere. Thankfully we're playing inside.

No team points for PC Andy tonight, and could well have crumbled completely after a torrid opening against top-of-the-averages Colin. Recovered to land an end against Mr Sparrow and play a couple of corking backhands against Bill. He'll have easier nights.

Two trouble-free wins for Ed bookended the showdown with Colin. Two games all, into the fifth, nothing between them before Colin pulls away. Don't mind losing a game like that.

Leaving Andy, fresh from London, to get full value with three five-enders. Beat John, just beat Bill, then a super-tight encounter with Colin, edged out 11-9 in the decider.

Up to Ed and Andy to bag the doubles for the draw: two matchpoints down, saved them both, and won the game. Five to them, five to us: good game.

EDitorial ± 29-Nov-2010

Light Lunches: The Food Company, Marks Tey

[presenting a guest review by Andy Cassy: thanks!]

A mid-week social meeting led Andy out south in to Essex, way beyond our usual range, to a cafe he'd seen signs for but not quite sure where it was. As it happens The Food Company is very easy to find provided you leave the A12 at the right junction (Marks Tey, not to be confused with the previous Stanway shopping park).

Looks like a bleak brick block furniture store from the outside but you gape in wonder as you enter and drift past the handmade chocolate and sweets counter through in the depths of the food hall -- reminiscent of its namesake just over the border back in Suffolk. Best not to take the kids with you unless they have their own spending money or not feeling well enough to eat otherwise it will cost you a fortune.

Having whetted your appetite with the upmarket fare, you are directed upstairs to the cafe. As you'd probably expect being 20 miles closer to Big City you are greeted by an equally upper-middle class cafe -- pay at the counter and your order is swiftly delivered by the efficient waiters. Soup was yummy and the fish cakes huge and filling as you'd expect for outer London prices.

Saving himself for coffee and cake, our intrepid reporter over-faces himself with a delicious, mammoth slab of Rocky Road (best yet but far too rich and filling -- will take the other half home for tea). With his guest polishing off a fluorescent pink bun, complete with matching edible flower, we depart an hour or so later having been well fed and equally gaining a few lbs whilst losing a few other pounds. But not before wandering round the upper floor home ware items - must be a really special chair to be worth £2,500 (recession, what recession?)

If it was a car -- Mercedes SLK
If they were passing by -- Jamie Oliver.

EDitorial ± 25-Nov-2010

TT1011, KO Cup, Round 1

At first glance, we thought we had a bye into the second round of this year's knock-out cup. Not so: first round game to play against our comrades, the BT B52s. Being in the dizzy heights of division 1, the onus is on them to win each game and by the largest number of points. Every points counts.

PC Andy's brought a spectator, a lady, and is out to impress. Despite being out of his depth and with a harsh handicap, he conjures up some cracking shots, perhaps still riding high after his first league point earlier this week. Shame that those opponents are super-consistent. And none of us really come close to cracking Stuart's spinny serve.

Ed and Andy C have their moments, Ed beating Don outright and the two of them coming back from 20-15 down to win their doubles. Over time, though, the B52s' lead grows and grows, and the result isn't ever in doubt. Free to focus on the league, again.

EDitorial ± 23-Nov-2010

TT1011, Week 10

Calling all cars, PC Andy has won his first game. Repeat, PC Andy has finally won a game.

Me of little faith, I thought he'd blown it. Playing the bottom team in the bottom division, and up against a kid -- Ed! -- in the opening game of the night, he was ahead more than once before losing (a) concentration and (b) the game. Never going to beat their best player in his second game, it came down to his third & final match.

The opponent: Tom, nice guy, barely played in the last 30 years, turned up tonight as a favour. Tight, edgy games, neither player able to force much of a lead. Two games all and into the deciding end. Andy goes behind early on, then comes back to lead 10-7, and their man puts it off the end of the table. Yes! Me and Rene were there the night when Andy scored a point for Defiants. Well, Rene had gone to the gents, but I was definitely there.

Otherwise, two nearly three for Rene, losing a five-ender against nifty Neil, and straight end wins for Ed. When older Ed played younger Ed, and Ed was asked to call a coin toss, he called ... wait for it ... Eds! How we laughed.

Great fun in the doubles, going to an extended deuce in the fifth before Ed and Rene lost. Nonetheless, a memorable night.

EDitorial ± 22-Nov-2010

Cardinal Cine

Nine years, oh my goodness, since the first film. Seven years since the 5th book. Three-and-a-bit years, yikes, since the 7th and final book. Time, at long last, for the 7th and final film, part 1 thereof.

Full post-roast Sunday pm family outing to the World of Cine for the obscure Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows. Other cinemas are available. Retrieve pre-booked tickets, reclaim car park fee, and remove ourselves from the milling foyer into screen 3. Reaching into the man-bag, I'm about to hand out the freezer bags of goodies -- wine gums, jelly beans, Tongue Tangles -- when Wifey points out that the World of Cine sweet sweeney / confectionery constables / percy pigs are watching. They'll have you, she says, quick as that. Wait 'til the lights go down. Wise words.

Minute or so later, a child, one of mine, whispers something to his mother. She turns to me: they want popcorn. But I've brought stuff! That may be, she says, but they want popcorn.

Us responsible parents head back out. What size should I get? Go large, I suggest. Really? Really. Cinegirl unfolds a bag, crams it full of popcorn, flattening it down several times, and hands it over. £4.60, please. Sharp intake. We hand over the money. Oh, I say, and an empty bag, please.

Er, I'll need to ask someone, she says. She consults a colleague who looks equally non-plussed. Sorry, she says, I can't give you an empty bag. But there's some over by the pick 'n' mix. I head that way and nab three nicely flat PnM bags.

Back with the kids, I carefully decant our single large popcorn into the smaller bags, then dispense the decent sized portions to the grateful kiddywinks. Their munching (and unsociable rustling) takes them comfortably through the trailers and well into the film itself.

Really enjoying the big screen action, delightfully dark, depressing and downbeat with some nastily jumpy bits, when a little voice says into my ear: Dad, have you got any sweets?

EDitorial ± 19-Nov-2010

Light Lunches: Riverside Tearoom, Orford

Friday, half-twelve and I'm twizzling my bezel in tachometric anticipation of The Trip. Are Coogan & Brydon the TV friendly faces of Cassy & Broom? Convoluted route takes us past Foxburrow Farm, Five Winds and the smart British Larder, overly restauranty for an 'umble light lunch. Tangled up in a slow convoy through Tangham, Andy times his run and powers past a "Safer Suffolk" police car. No blues and twos ensue, phew.

More miles: bonjour to Butley Barn, felicitations to Froize Inn. Tis an orf'ly long way to Orford. Wanted to make it to the Riverside Tearoom before weekend-only winter opening, and we have. Brisk stroll from Quay Street to the eponymous quay, left before your toes get wet and along a bit to the black shed-like structure. Now 1pm, nobody else around so we'll have the sunny table by the window. Their website is dead on: this is "the tearoom with a magnificent view", and we've got the best seats in the house. Out there sit boats, water and, within spitting distance, enigmatic Orford Ness, pagodas and all.

Hard to beat, though we're here to eat. Soup didn't grab me; mine's the BLT with mayo. I realise service is going to be quicker when you're the only customers, but our orders arrive PDQ. Plus the young ladies are incredibly polite. Plus they've got newspapers. Maybe anything would taste good in that spot, but that is undeniably a top notch bacon sarnie. While we're nibbling and gawping, a couple of other hungry horses arrive and can't help but crowd our personal space. Live and let live.

Executive decision to go above decks for dessert. Those exterior tables seemed mighty inviting; reality is somewhat cooler, this being mid-November. Warmed, sweetened and jolted by standard order of double macchiato and carrot cake, both more than up to scratch. A man could grow to like this place.

If it was a car -- AC Aceca.
If they were passing by -- Philip Pullman.

EDitorial ± 17-Nov-2010

Deadly 60 Cards, Full List

It isn't just about the Paninis: other stickers are available. Playground tastes move on, and The Boy is now collecting Deadly 60, based on the excellent CBBC show of the same name. Tellybox programme is presented by housewives' favourite Steve Backshall, who tracks down villainous creatures from around the world, some big, some small. Who can forget that encounter with the Scolopendra centipede? Ugh.

These are trading cards, not stickers, and glossily presented for the princely sum of a pound a pack. There are 165 in all, some of which are harder to get than others. In fact, you have common, rare, super rare, and the one-off ultimate Steve card. Nice if you can get it. I had problems tracking down the complete list, so here it is:

  1. (rare) Hippopotamus
  2. (rare) Black Mamba
  3. (common) Fat Tailed Scorpion
  4. (common) African Hunting Dog
  5. (rare) African Fish Eagle
  6. (super rare!) Nile Crocodile
  7. (common) Caracal
  8. (common) Honey Badger
  9. (super rare!) Great White Shark
  10. (rare) Bottlenose Dolphin
  11. (common) Tiger Snake
  12. (common) Pelican
  13. (common) Paralysis Tick
  14. (rare) Lace Monitor
  15. (common) Redback Spider
  16. (common) Bluefin Tuna
  17. (common) Australian Cuttlefish
  18. (common) Duckbilled Platypus
  19. (common) Toadfish
  20. (super rare!) Saltwater Crocodile
  21. (common) Ghost Bat
  22. (common) Sloth Bear
  23. (common) Praying Mantis
  24. (common) Saw-Scaled Viper
  25. (rare) Gharial
  26. (super rare!) Bengal Tiger
  27. (common) Scutigera Centipede
  28. (common) Wrinkle Lipped Bat
  29. (rare) Reticulated Python
  30. (rare) Spear Mantis Shrimp
  31. (common) Lionfish
  32. (rare) Chevron Barracuda
  33. (common) Gannet
  34. (common) Hornet
  35. (common) Adder
  36. (common) Goshawk
  37. (common) Otter
  38. (rare) Peregrine Falcon
  39. (common) Raft Spider
  40. (super rare!) Polar Bear
  41. (super rare!) Brown Bear
  42. (rare) Wolverine
  43. (rare) Bald Eagle
  44. (common) Tiger Rattlesnake
  45. (common) Mountain Lion
  46. (common) Gila Monster
  47. (rare) Harris Hawk
  48. (rare) Alligator gar
  49. (rare) Alligator Snapping Turtle
  50. (rare) CottonMouth
  51. (rare) Caribbean Reef Shark
  52. (rare) Lemon Shark
  53. (rare) Tiger Shark
  54. (common) Candiru
  55. (common) Giant Anteater
  56. (common) Pink River Dolphin
  57. (common) Burrowing Owl
  58. (common) Goliath Bird Eating Spider
  59. (common) Army Ants
  60. (rare) Lancehead Viper
  61. (common) Humboldt Squid
  62. (common) Tarantula Hawk Wasp
  63. (rare) Red Diamond Rattlesnake
  64. (common) Pacific Octopus
  65. (common) Wolf eel
  66. (super rare!) Orca
  67. (rare) Steller Sealion
  68. (common) Racoon
  69. (common) Skunk
  70. (rare) Jaguar
  71. (super rare!) American Crocodile
  72. (common) Poison Dart Frog
  73. (common) Vampire Bat
  74. (rare) Eyelash Viper
  75. (rare) Harpy Eagle
  76. (common) Bullet Ant
  77. (common) Velvet Ant
  78. (rare) Whale Shark
  79. (common) Solifuge
  80. (common) Crown of Thorns Starfish
  81. (common) Black Reef Shark
  82. (rare) Black Eagle
  83. (super rare!) Tooth-Ragged Shark
  84. (common) African Killer Bees
  85. (common) Sidewinder
  86. (common) Vulture
  87. (common) Smokey Jungle Frog
  88. (rare) Leopard
  89. (super rare!) Lion
  90. (common) Aye Aye
  91. (common) Chameleon
  92. (common) Fossa
  93. (common) Leaf Tail Gecko
  94. (rare) Gorilla
  95. (common) Baboon
  96. (common) Chimpanzee
  97. (common) King Cobra
  98. (common) Tokay Gecko
  99. (rare) Clouded Leopard
  100. (common) Water Monitor
  101. (common) Whip Spider
  102. (common) Pangolin
  103. (common) Mangrove Cat Snake
  104. (common) Tarsier
  105. (common) Thresher Shark
  106. (common) Yellow-Lipped Sea Krait
  107. (common) Wolf
  108. (common) Eurasian Lynx
  109. (common) Musk Ox
  110. (common) Arctic Fox
  111. (common) Yellow Anaconda
  112. (rare) Piranha
  113. (rare) Spectacled Caiman
  114. (rare) Giant River Otter
  115. (super rare!) Black Caiman
  116. (common) White Lady Spider
  117. (common) White Tailed Eagle
  118. (common) Orb Weaving Spider
  119. (common) Crab Spider
  120. (common) Pike
  121. (common) Green Vine Snake
  122. (common) Russell's Viper
  123. (common) Parrot Snake
  124. (common) Golden Orb Spider
  125. (common) Perentie
  126. (common) Stingray
  127. (common) Quoll
  128. (common) Ocelot
  129. (common) Little Pied Cormorant
  130. (common) Gabon Viper
  131. (common) Brazilian Wandering Spider
  132. (common) Bengal Monitor
  133. (common) Rinkhals
  134. (common) Giant Trevally
  135. (common) Warthog
  136. (common) Mugger Crocodile
  137. (common) Scolopendra
  138. (common) CoachWhip Snake
  139. (common) Tegu
  140. (common) Black Rhino
  141. (common) Fishing Bat
  142. (common) Boa Constrictor
  143. (common) Bushmaster
  144. (common) Black Marlin
  145. (common) Cape Porcupine
  146. (common) Shovel Snouted Lizard
  147. (common) Fishing Cat
  148. (common) Monocled Cobra
  149. (common) Stork-Billed Kingfisher
  150. (common) Great Hammerhead Shark
  151. (common) White-faced Capuchin Monkey
  152. (common) Argentine Grey Fox
  153. Skull Card -- Speed Burst
  154. Skull Card -- Anti-venom
  155. Skull Card -- Venom card
  156. Skull Card -- Bacteria
  157. Skull Card -- Lockjaw
  158. Skull Card -- Tranquilliser
  159. Skull Card -- Pack Attack
  160. Skull Card -- Crush
  161. Skull Card -- Big Bite
  162. Skull Card -- Bitten in Half
  163. Skull Card -- Hunger Pains
  164. Skull Card -- Quick Sand
  165. (super rare!) Ultimate Card Unbeatable

Another way of looking at the list:

  • 108 common cards,
  • 12 skull cards,
  • 33 rare cards,
  • 11 super rare cards,
  • and 1 ultimate unbeatable card with Steve himself

That's your lot. Seems pretty successful, so maybe this will become Series 1 and there'll be others to follow.

EDitorial ± 16-Nov-2010

TT1011, Week 7

Rearranged game against mid-table Rosary Blue on a cold night. PC Andy's walking his beat, Andy C's back-back-back, game on.

  • maximum for Ed, outspinning Peter and outlasting Dave, not losing an end
  • maximum for Andy, overcoming Dave in the fifth and Peter in the fourth
  • respectable brace for Rene, outrunning Dave in another five-ender but going down to Peter

No problems for any of us against poor Neil, yet to win a game. Should have invited our other Andy along, then at least one of them would be guaranteed a point.

Rene generously stepped down for the doubles and watched Ed & Andy cruise through the first two games before losing the next two. Fifth and final end, them ahead 10-8, and we scrape back to the deuce. Matchpoints for either side before Andy finally nails a backhand winner, giving Defiants a pleasing 9-1 win to celebrate today's royal engagement.

EDitorial ± 15-Nov-2010

Light Lunches: Waterfront Cafe, Bramford

[presenting a guest review by Margaret Broom: hi, Mum!]

Although this actual visit is not in the "Light Lunches" mode, a light lunch can be obtained in this waterside cafe. We had been twice before, and on one of those occasions my husband's lunch had been forgotten and he ate his after I had practically finished mine. This fact notwithstanding, we decided to go again and do an "official" review as the food is fine.

On a sunny day like today, it is a very pleasant location. The lake is only a few yards away and looked quite blue for a change. We managed to have a table in the sunnier part of the cafe, and our meals arrived after a fairly short wait. The menu is quite extensive, jacket potatoes and burgers along with various pies, sausages, fish and chips, soup and "breakfasts". I had chicken breast with mash, peas, carrots and a Yorkshire for £4.95, and my husband had a steak and kidney pie with similar accompaniments for £3.95 which we thought pretty reasonable. The food was hot and plentiful and with two teas the bill was £10.50 so not bad.

Now the downsides, which are fairly minor! Having pulled out the teabag from the mug, there is nowhere to put it, so it has to sprawl wetly on the table. The other point is that the chairs are not straight-backed and so it is very awkward to get "into" the table when there are people at the next one. It seemed impossible to do so today without vaulting over the table itself, and we had to sit elsewhere until the "sunny" table became free with a bit more space.

There are newspapers to borrow and the staff are friendly. Just change the chairs!

If it was a car -- ???.
If they were passing by -- "someone with simple tastes".

EDitorial ± 10-Nov-2010

LCD Soundsystem & Hot Chip, London

Previous London gig trip was day-time, hot, by train and family friendly. Latest trip is night-time, cold, by car and decidedly solo. Was gonna let the train do the hard work before realising that I couldn't get back from Ally Pally -- yep, Alexandra Palace -- and still catch the last loco (11:30pm) out of Liverpool Street.

Made it to Muswell Hill, somehow, simple as A12 / M25 / A10 / A406 / A105 / A109 / B151. Missed the A105, but hey. Asked the local kebab shop bloke for the whereabouts of the People's Palace: end of the road, mate. Found a convenient on-road parking spot and joined the freezing queueing crowd for a gig that should have started 10 minutes ago.

Through security, past the food stalls and the token exchange booths, and into the Great Hall. What a great hall. Hooooge great space. Barely time to take in any more before the Hot Chip boys hit the stage with And I Was A Boy From School, very good. Been a fan since I caught them on the Mercury prize awards a while back. Unlikely looking fellas, like the Tomorrow's World house band featuring Godley & Creme. They sure can pump out a sound. Straight from One Night Stand into Over & Over, everybody's favourite track. Before you know it, they're off, having started late. Time to queue for the loo and hand over some cash for a Caffe Yum latte. Extra shot, please.

Really, though, I'm not here for Hot Chip -- they're the bonus ball. I'm here for the US headliners, the mighty LCD Soundsystem. Who? Hard to explain. Bit like a funkier New Order but, IMHO, with better tunes. Speakers are kicking out 10CC's I'm Not In Love, heaven knows why, then the LCDs slowly appear. They launch into Dance Yrself Clean, first track on the new album, and I'm a very happy man. Place is filled with young groovy man-bag toting hipsters with ubercool SOs, plus me. Drunk Girls follow -- that's a track, by the way -- and later we get into the extraordinary All My Friends:

We set controls for the heart of the sun
One of the ways that we show our age

You either get it or you don't. As if it couldn't get better, it does, stepping up into an epic Yeah (chorus: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah) which goes on for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, I lose track. Until it finally morphs into a wall of white noise, reshaping and emerging as the haunting Someone Great. Last track -- alas, they've hit the curfew -- is the superbly uplifting Home, played out as 500 white balloons descend. Ears are ringing, senses stunned, and it's out into the bracing night air of N22.

EDitorial ± 9-Nov-2010

TT1011, Week 9

Nine weeks in, wet and cold outside, and the team wheel of fortune has yielded the misfits who managed to put a "one" in the "Lost" column. Could Rene and Ed and PC Andy do better this time?

After a good warm-up, probably Andy's best chance of the night comes in his first match, up against bottom division stalwart Lydia. Straight games win ... for Lydia, proving too canny for our copper. Ed inches past awkward James with his awkward bat and Rene falls by 3-1 to new-boy Kevin, a natural hitter of the ball.

Easy for Ed against Lydia, ditto for Kevin against Andy, sadly. Rene has a further 3-1 loss to spinny James. Saving the best for last, Ed comes out top in an epic five setter v. Kevin, Rene outsmarts Lydia, leaving Andy to play really well against James, threatening to win more than one end but ultimately going down again.

Need the doubles to force the draw: step up Rene and Ed. Oops, never in the game. That'll be loss number two, then.

EDitorial ± 4-Nov-2010

Ipswich Lunches: Seasons Deli

Twas the lunchtime before Bonfire Night, necessitating a stop-off at the Firework Emporium: Andy to lay down four bullseyes for his village, me to drop two ayrtons for smaller scale celebrations at Broom Acres. Nose duly gunpowdered, down Foxhall Road a tad further and right into Wellesley Road.

Sprung into Seasons Deli, right there on the corner. Four window seats is all -- enough to satisfy the seminal Take A Pew light lunch guideline -- half of 'em occupied, but mother & daughter are now leaving, not on our account. As would be obvious from the next 40 minutes, trade here is nearly but not quite all takeaway. Lengthy list of baguette and bap options, plus paninis. Oh, the choice. Pick one, any one. Ok, a chorizo & chutney baguette, ta very much. Slice / spread / fill, there we are. What, you're eating in? Lady grabs it back and swiftly re-presents it on a large white plate, no salad required. Ditto the lack of piped Vivaldi music.

Multifarious are the boxes of crisps on offer. Anything different here? Oh yes, a bag of tomato flavour Snaps, still with that dragon on the front. Result. Cherry coke on the side, no glass, though could have had a Ben Shaw (like Wickham chippy). Downside of all that savoury choice is the tendency to Piaf: chorizo, like the view, is nothing to write home about, but should I have had the coronation chicken?

Spotted, a coffee machine towards the rear. Latte, please, and one of these tempting white choc topped muffins. Satisfying combination, and straight on a plate this time around. With only crumbs remaining, time to divvy up the rockets and jet off home.

If it was a car -- SMZ S3A.
If they were passing by -- Alan Alda.

EDitorial ± 1-Nov-2010

TT1011, Week 8

Best part of three years since our last encounter with the King's Men of Felixstowe. Good to see that lashing Les, junior John and foxy FredFrank continue to turn out, rain or shine.

I'd pre-warned Andy that I'd be late. By the time I arrived -- 8:30pm -- he'd completed his games, winning the lot, apparently with a sack of nets and edges. Twas ever thus. He was also busy demonstraing his mastery of simple thermostat controls.

Pressure on, averages wise, my turn. Full set of three to me too, though FredFrank took an end and threatened to take more. For someone in his late 70s, he moves like a lad of 17.

Rene made me look punctual by appearing around 9pm. Sadly, he wasn't at the races for the first two games, mind occupied by the pleasures of working for a major bureaucracy. At least he landed his final game.

By-the-numbers doubles win for Ed & Andy, despite FredFrank's wish that Rene should be playing, then onto The Alex for most pleasant coffee and cake.