EDitorial ± 30-Jan-2012

LCD Synchronicity

Post-tea, me and The Boy are assembling some Lego in the name of a school art project, like we need an excuse. To assist our creative flow, we have music playing. Naturally, being the head stag, the tunes are of my choosing. We're both humming along to some familiar sounds from one particular favourite band of mine including songs such as Someone Great and I Can Change.

Day or so later, The Boy's keen to grab some more tracks into his own iTunes library, an eccentric mix including The Feeling, Birdy and The National.

[Boy] Who was that we were listening to the other day? Was it OC/DC?
[Me] Close. That was LCD Soundsystem.

Next day, I'm working from home and I'm taking the opportunity to catch up on some iPlayer radio shows. First up is Gilles Peterson, whose show goes out on Radio 1 at 2am on a Wednesday. As usual, I'm half listening and half writing emails. About 25 minutes in -- see tracklisting -- one particularly funky track jumps out. Voice of Gilles comes on to tell me that it's by a Bristolian jazz combo called Get The Blessing. No surprise, for as it happens, I've got their only two albums and became mildly obsessed with the most recent one, a CD called Bugs In Amber. It's been played so much in the house that The Boy can tootle along with the opening track.

But this is an as-yet unreleased song called "Americano Meccano". Ooh, exciting. Google tells me that the GTB boys have a new album coming out in March. That album is called: OC DC. Cue music from The Twilight Zone.

EDitorial ± 27-Jan-2012

Light Lunches: Holeshot Cafe, A12 Brightwell

No transport today and not much time, either. Whither shall we wander? In such circumstances, where would the man on the Clapham omnibus dine? Step out the back (front, actually), brisk sub-five minute walk, then hop on the bus, Andy. Don't need to discuss much.

England could still qualify for Euro 2008 when we last beat a path to the Bus Cafe. Same location but new owner and brand new branding for 2012 -- the Holeshot Cafe. Up the stairs and slide the door to reveal a classic retro diner style interior, all checkerboard floor and red seating. Busy builders' day, Friday, says the fella behind the counter: rush now over. What'll it be, gents?

Stylish (motocross?) menu lists burgers -- rookie, hacker or pro -- chicken breast, however you want it, or the inevitable (and Light Lunch favourite) breakfast baps. Half English for Andy, a plentiful plate with toast and tea, and BLT Bad Boy for me, a big ol' bap bustin' with flavour. Plus some freshly chopped red onion, doncha know. Locally sourced grub, too.

That Steve chap doesn't half get around according to the photos on the wall, whether he's instructing Gordon Ramsay, advising Barack Obama or chilling with Gandhi. All that hanging out with celebs leaves no time for baking, so it's a KitKat and coffee for dessert. Says the menu, "Eat the best. Be the best." You'd do well to stop at the bus.

If it was a car -- Leyland National.
If they were passing by -- Delia Smith.

EDitorial ± 25-Jan-2012

Light Lunches: Elveden, Thetford

Traditional day off for G's birthday. Up to me to book somewhere for lunch, but where's new, where's different? Yes, the Leaping Hare at Wyken (wot no review) is wonderful, as was Jimmy's Farm last year. Let's consult Don, a recent FOLLower (Friend Of Light Lunch) and fellow cafe botherer. Among his personal favourites are the Suffolk Food Hall, Bizzi Beans, and, ooh, the Elveden Estate. Where's that?

Past Bury St Edmunds and straight on till morning, or until you hit Thetford if you miss the turn. There 'tis, on the bend. Turn right, head round, can't miss it. Miserable late January weather yet quite a few cars here already. Through the food hall (much like that one on The Strand) and into the relaxed restaurant: G. pleased to be seated close to the open fire. Pizza Express-sized menu is well presented, a happy portent, and there's a handful of (mostly lamb-based) specials.

Skip the starters -- heck, it's only lunchtime -- and straight into mains. Tough choice. Scallops and black pudding on a posh plate for the birthday girl, venison burger with substantial chunky chips for the driver. Yum. Well, this is all very nice. Rest of the diners are the very definition of Ladies That Lunch: mums 'n' daughters 'n' friends.

Pudds look good too: my waffle with maple syrup did the job, and G's frangipane with honeyed nuts was to die for. Excellent coffee, too. Busy today, I ask the friendly waitress? No, it's quiet, she says. Place must get chocka when the weather's half-decent, hence all that outside seating. Not cheap but not expensive either; highly recommended. And if you've got any money left, you can wander round the "lifestyle" shops selling items you didn't know you didn't need.

If it was a car -- Mercedes ML.
If they were passing by -- Bunny Guinness.

EDitorial ± 23-Jan-2012

Monday Redunday

Mondays: bit rubbish, aren't they? Bob Geldof plain didn't like 'em. Dave Edmunds, when asked, expressed a preference for the weekend. New Order took to 12 inch to voice their antipathy. Both (a) The Mamas and (b) The Papas felt that you "can't trust that day". If there was a Favourite Day Of The Week category on olde style Family Fortunes, the answer "Monday" would surely elicit that notorious raspberry noise.

BIM -- Big Important Meeting -- at 10:30am today, all of us gathered around a speaker phone. Blah blah debts blah blah restructure blah blah job losses. What was that last bit again? Redundancies across the board, everyone affected to be notified today. Crikey. Nobody wants to catch the eye of anyone else in the room. All this before the first cafetiere of the day.

Those of us who've been with The Company for a few years are somewhat battle-hardened, having been through this selfsame experience more than once. Worst of these was the first time in 2008 when, unannounced, Big Boss Man turned up from that London in his fancy vintage car. Now he's a good guy, but it quickly became obvious that something was afoot. He installed himself next door, scene of this morning's BIM, and called the deskphone of my colleague sitting opposite. Come and have a chat, he said. Cue the walk of death for the unfortunate individual. When the shellshocked party emerged, another nearby phone rang, and so the morning progressed, all of us twitching like the keenest of birdwatchers. After that, those of us lucky enough to still be in gainful employment would joke about hearing Bill's Bentley (name and make changed to protect his identity).

Or there was the highly motivating day in late 2009 when another BIM was called with the news that further posts were to go: no classic car downstairs this time, but we were warned to look out for an email from HR. That crafty ploy from inhuman resources transferred our Pavlovian fear from the phone to the Outlook "bing". Did the fortunate few receive a quick note to say "don't worry, you're safe"? Nope.

Same story today: the news will come by email. Most of us, being 21st century hi-tech workers, get a fair few of these, so nerves were jangling. Nobody could say when the dreaded electronic dismissal might arrive. By lunch? Possibly. By 2pm? Maybe. By 4:30pm? Yes, half-four it is, convenient for those who get in early and are packing up by that time. May propose to those upstairs that the next round of Russian roulette be in the form of the game Killer Wink: if the boss looks your way, you're out. Or, like picking the chorister to do Once In Royal St David's City, that everyone in the room close their eyes, and you better hope that your shoulder isn't tapped by management.

Sympathies to the Monday Four who got some unwelcome news today. Austerity, posterity.

EDitorial ± 20-Jan-2012

Light Lunches: Cafe 46, Wickham Market

More than three years back, four of us took tea at the Tea Pot at 46 High Street on the square. Mid-2011, three of us lunched at the relocated Teapot Tea Room at 70a High Street off the square. Early 2012, two of us -- we are hardcore -- returned to the original location to check out the latest incarnation.

Cafe 46 is the catering component of Vintage Forty-Six, the place for your "modern decorative collectables", it says here. Can't comment on how much it's changed inside since we ate outside in 2008. Today, however, is of the filthy wet variety, so in we tootle. Struck by the pleasing ambience: chalk specials on the board, papers laid out, old wooden furniture, Jamie Oliver salt and pepper (if that dresses your salad), retro signage on the walls. Here's a key difference from the Teapot: we were greeted with a smile from the ladies behind the counter. Hello!

Right, what to have? Andy's in like Flintoff and goes for the three cheese on toast with chutney. I was gonna have that. Time to turn some tables and sip some soup. Good leek and potato, great corn bread on the side, and a generous portion too. Unlike Andy's single flat-ish piece of cheesy bread. Tasty if stingy. At least he was able to use the free WiFi.

Place filled up during our savoury course. That done, it's back to the counter of promises to be talked through the treasury of sweet temptations. Carrot cake can't be denied for either of us, and it's top notch, as is the highly caffeinated flat white. Sorry, Teapot: it's Cafe 46 by a knockout.

If it was a car -- Morgan Aero 8.
If they were passing by -- Tim Lovejoy.

Update: 06-Mar-2012

Jilian from Cafe 46 has been in touch to say that she's "taken on board the stingy cheese on toast and shall change the bread to a thicker, bigger slice!" Nice one, Jilian, and good luck with the business.

EDitorial ± 17-Jan-2012

TT1112, Week 13

Big, big game tonight, the equivalent of the Manchester derby, with the team in first place (us!) up against the team in second (Hadleigh). Thinking of the bigger picture, Andy gracefully deselected himself leaving Ed, Kennedy and Steve. If any extra motivation were needed, Hadleigh's team included one Mick Pollard, unbeaten this season. Tasty. In brief:

  • maximum for Ed -- yes! -- spinning past Mick's pimply penhold in the opening encounter before looping round good ol' Ken and Rupert
  • brace for Kennedy, losing 11-8 to Mick in the fifth end but doing well to knuckle down and defeat Ken over five ends
  • none for Steve, his first duck this year: lost 11-9 to Ken in the fifth end of an epic match with four deuces, then succumbed to Mick and Rupert

Ahead 5-4 going into the doubles, 10:30pm, and the Ed/Kennedy combination blew hot and cold against that of Ken/Mick, a clash of styles more than evident. Inevitably down to the fifth end on a long night, 5-4 ahead at the change of ends, and they didn't win another rally. That'll be 6-4 to us and consolidate our Etihad-esque position.

EDitorial ± 16-Jan-2012

Nordmyra, An Ikea Adventure

me: So, is B. coming?
E: Yep, I said we'd pick her up.
me: Fine. Rose, you ready to go?
R: Nearly. Is it alright if I. comes too?
me: Er, yeah, I suppose so.
G: Really? That'll be seven of us. You know we'll never fit those chairs in?!
me: It'll be fine.

[on the road at 6pm, arriving Ikea Thurrock at 7:15pm -- easy peasy -- and straight into restaurant for mandatory meatballs, then the obligatory meander through the showrooms while parking bottoms on assorted dining chairs, finally hitting the self-service warehouse around 9:15pm]

me: Right, aisle 11. There they are. How many are we buying?
G: Well, six if they've got them.
me: Er, they've got four. No, five. I guess we're taking the lot.

[pulls out first cardboard box, not a convenient rectangle but an almost perfect and unwieldy 80cm square, and stacks five of 'em on the industrial trolley before heading for the till and out to the car]

me: OK, everyone in the car and let's see what space we've got.
G: They won't fit. No way.
me: [watches as kids 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 quickly fill up the car] We shall see. Mind your feet in the back, chair number 1 coming through.
R: It's squishing our feet. Can't you move your chair forward?

[after five minutes, a grand total of three boxed chairs are wedged into the car, leaving only two in the car park]

me: Anyone got any scissors or a penknife? No? Bear with me, this won't take long.

[uses front door key to rip tape from remaining two boxes and begins to stack contents on the concrete, then painstakingly slots chair legs, seats and small packs of screws into available boot space; satisfied that boot will close, nervously glances right at pile of photo frames, storage boxes and tealights: further shuffling ensues]

me: [gingerly closes boot and climbs in to slightly cramped driver's seat] See?

EDitorial ± 13-Jan-2012

Ipswich Lunches: Bella Napoli

Meet 12:30 at the electric charging points, he says. I'm over there for 12:35 and it's blinkin' parky. Eventually I call him at 12:40. Leaving now, he lies. There's more to life than time, you know, but not much more. It's agreed that we should point the motor due east towards that there Ipswich.

Influence of Friday the 13th directs us to a corking parking spot (as per K's Coffee Lounge last week) by the under-construction Travelodge on Duke Street. Over there is the more than acceptable Cafe Marina. Up there is the so-so Something Yummy. Over here is the as yet undetermined Bella Napoli. Quick run through of those Italian credentials on the signage:

  • pizza -- yes
  • pasta -- definitely
  • chips -- maybe
  • panini -- probably

Now 1pm and the joint, it jumps: mostly student age (UCS is over the road) but not all. Pizza boxes -- ooh, lots of Scrabble points -- clamber to the ceiling. Large overhead menu also lists risotto and jackets. A moment or two of decision paralysis, then we're done and sat by the window sipping refrigerated beverages.

Feels like the best part of 10 minutes before our orders emerge. Yum, big steaming bowl of penne with spicy sausage for me, while Andy's panini is "the best I've had". High praise: top bread, he says. Hadn't anticipated this level of freshness and fulness. Boyton Boy has room for pudd and goes for the tiramisu, which is delivered with a swish and poshly presented on a plate. I'll settle for a latte and that's good, too. Until there's a Cafe Bencotto in Ipswich, Bella Napoli will suffice.

If it was a car -- Alfasud.
If they were passing by -- Simon Calder.

EDitorial ± 10-Jan-2012

TT1112, Week 14

First week of the second half of the season and the Bright Stars are out tonight. Somehow we never quite got round to playing them in the first half, despite that being our very first scheduled game. They're here now in the form of younger brother Peter, older brother Matt (previously) and wildcard Eddie. In brief:

  • maximum for jet-lagged Kennedy, just in from Kennedy NY
  • maximum for Ed, just in from Columba House
  • brace for bad-back Andy, losing over the full 5 ends to Fast Eddie

Good-natured game though hard to hear yourself think (and indeed the score) what with Ansons and Comets going at it on the other table. Oh, should probably mention that our 9-1 win puts us top!

EDitorial ± 9-Jan-2012

Cholesterock 'N' Roll

CHO is for chocolate for which I'm a junkie
Could I give it up? On my back, there's a monkey
A Twirl with a cuppa: the ultimate dunky
But top of the pops must be KitKat's large single finger bar

LES is for less, must cut down on the fat
Avoid trans and polys, choose mono-unsat
No more late night snacks being watched by the cat
Less sweets and less cake? Do I not like your proposal

TER is for terminal: live with the knowledge
Your health is at risk: did you not go to college?
Buy lentils from Ipswich and mixed nuts from Norwich
And for breakfast each day, have a big bowl of warmed rolled oats

OL is for olives, take all that you wish
From the Mediterranean diet, pick a dish
You eat enough fruit? Well, five a day, -ish
Most important of all, try to eat mackerel, pilchards and sardines

EDitorial ± 6-Jan-2012

Ipswich Lunches: K's Coffee Lounge

One of them thar tip-off Tweets (capital T?) popped in from friend M (he who said no to sweet stuff at Starbucks) talking of a new cafe in The Swich. Like to think I'm slowly building a web of eatery informants that may one day rival Sherlock's homeless network. Worthy of a review, he questioned? Andy, fire up the Bapmobile.

Having a good Friday when you can park outside Ladies That Lunch, a handful of even-numbered doors up from our destination. In a clearing in the Fore St stands the attractively painted K's Coffee Lounge enticing the casual passer-by to "dine with us". They're on.

Loads of light and space, the odd nook, lots of wood and Anna Sparkle cushions and, with some nifty netting, enough length for indoor cricket should they wish to diversify. Open less than a week so pleasing to see other punters in here: like John Lennon said, we're not the only ones. So far, so good, and sofa for us down the far end near the heater. Pasta, salad, wraps on offer. Tuna panini for me please, Claire, and the chauffeur, being awkward, would like to order from the breakfast menu. All fine. Panini's good, with zingy balsamic-ed salad bits, and Andy enjoys his HP-doused bacon sandwich.

WiFi: check, just about reaching the bowler's end, and papers too. Cake to be had, naturally: they recommended the prewrapped Honeybuns "Snowy Hills" bar, a ginger and polenta shortbread with lemon sponge. Thought it would be OK; was gorgeous, esp. between sips of strong coffee. Isn't the most obvious location down there but they're bound to attract regulars and I'll definitely be back there myself. As the ad once said, K's is captivating.

If it was a car -- Dodge 400 (Chrysler K Car).
If they were passing by -- Jason Kay.

EDitorial ± 3-Jan-2012


Waking up on the first work day of the New Year -- yay -- I did what anybody else would do. Picking up my phone, which doubles as the alarm, I shovelled some smartcoal into the sluggish internet browser and hit Google. For I was anxious to discover the prime factors of 2012. Expecting a string of 2s, 3s, 7s and 9s, that tiny glass screen said:

2,012 = 2 x 2 x 503

How very queer. Yes, that first "2", and yes, that second "2", but can we really do no better than a chunking great "503"? Odd. Literally so. Then I glanced across at my bedside radio clock only to see it reading 07:29. What, you think it was going to say 05:03? I'm no Dan Brown.

As Middler observed when the revellers in our front room were wishing each other a Happy New Year, we're all going to die in 2012. Maya, may not. Is it any wonder that you sometimes hit a web page saying "Error 503, service unavailable"? As one of the darling children may observe while seated at the dinner table, "your Mum's unavailable".

Also, "503" happens to be the name of a delightful orchestral track by Hans Zimmer. Disturbingly, this piece appears on the soundtrack of, er, Angels & Demons. Yep, a film about the Illuminati (them again) featuring the Hanks character from both The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol. Get my drift?

Of course, if you go looking for this stuff, you will indeed find this stuff (warning, couple of big words coming up). This 503 malarkey is a choice example of apophenia, "seeing meaningful patterns in random data". One particular type of apophenia is grandly known as pareidolia. Now we're into the whacked-out world of Rorschach inkblots (who watches the Watchmen?) and the Nun Bun. Another session, we'll discuss the significance of 2012 being MMXII.

You will see the number 503 sometime today.