I Knead Dough


There isn’t much time to dramatize, satirize and criticize this week. I’ve been very buzy writing a revizion document for my students’ mid-term so haven’t had much chance to color my thoughts with British English. Still, I’m having an awesome time. Awesome like a foot long hotdog!

Any spare time has been reserved for food. I’ve been doing a lot of real cooking this week and it’s destroying my funds. In the area surrounding my school we could eat nightly at a range of moderately priced (£2-£3) restaurants including, but not limited to: a veggie Buddhist buffet, really good Thai food, pasta, pizza, A French staffed crêpe place and Chinese food. But I bought an oven a few weeks ago and it stares accusingly at me when I walk through the door, so I have to use it.

I’ve made (using your powers of imagination add the prefix vegetable to each of these dishes): Lasagne, another pasta dish and pizza. For the first time I have attempted to make all of these from scratch which has meant eating between 10 and 12 at night but it looks like you can really cook when you sit down to eat and the kitchen is covered with flour (even the Americans include the ‘u’ in flour). Making pasta and pizza dough has helped save money on the hypothetical, “one day I might”, never going to happen gym membership but each meal has cost £15-£20. Which leaves us in a quandary: We could eat out each night, sample a variety of cuisines that taste great, are very cheap and take no preparation from me. Or spend 5 times as much, have my evenings taken up by cooking and sit down to eat, an admittedly more nutritious meal, at 11pm.

Fresh food is so expensive here that it makes one wonder how it is possible to run a restaurant so cheaply. It is possible to buy a savoury crêpe (apparently called a galette) with an array of fillings and a sweet crêpe with a much wider choice of innards and a coffee from a surprisingly friendly French man for the same price as a butternut squash. The squash is great, but it isn’t a meal and when you consider the home-made pasta sauce, mushrooms and broccoli, on top of the time and energy spent punching, stretching and kicking fresh pasta into existence, you’ve spent a week’s eating out budget and a whole evening on one meal. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I wish I had the money to cook my own food every night.

P.S. Virgin Trains ticket collectors have been absolved of all their many misdemeanours and sins after refusing to let Gideon stay in first class on a standard ticket. For one day at least, I salute you!

By thelostartofconversation

The Party’s Over

At the end of a season there is a certain hollowness that lies within every faithful fan. Something that took a not insubstantial role in your life has been taken away and a small indefinable absence is left in its place. Not so for the party conference season. This season-end emptiness results from the game itself.

In truth I wasn’t fully engaged with the entire season. I don’t think anyone saw the Lib Dem conference as surely everybody concerned had this on repeat for four days. I read about the leaders speeches for the Greens and Labour because at that time I had an episode of The Thick of It to re-watch all week. Coinciding with the Tory conference was a break from “our man Ian Ucci’s” show (for a Beatles doco, because nobody knows anything about those 3 boys from Manchester) so I found myself being drawn into the melee.

Whilst Miliband went to the labour stronghold of Manchester, Cameron went on the offensive taking the fight way, way, way up the M1 to the simple, pleasant northern town of Birmingham. The last time I worked in the city the Tories were conferencing, why Brumingham? Is it the central location? Well, yes, but indulge me. Is it the “thick, clumsy and sexually unattractive” accent of the natives? At least partly. Or is it that it displays a perfect microcosm of Britain at large. A bland industrial centre made vibrant through an influx of different ethnicities, and now with its industry all but dead has nothing to boast of except for its curries, average sports teams and Frank Skinner (who’s from West Brom).

George Osborne got all the early headlines with his predictable swipe at the working class, insisting that “Britain does not need a Plan B” and later that “There is no Plan B!” His obvious disdain for rap aside, how can he deny the existence of a man who released a film this year? The answer came, to those eagle-eyed among us, a few days later. Ozzy was obviously trying to clear a path for his home(counties)boy Big D. Cam’ron subtly dropped the line “Aspiration Nation” into his closing speech, a clear sign he’s trying to enter the hip-hop game. Now Osborne’s attack can be seen as it was, a threat. A threat that with their control of law and order and finger on the trigger of a military attack, the Coalition rolls deep!

Cameron’s speech was of course largely bullshit: “The compassionate party”, “The party of the NHS”, “We don’t preach about one nation but practise class war.” His contempt for the public is astounding, as if we haven’t been paying attention for the past two years. The only people that could have believed his lies are probably still convinced of an American plan to bring democracy to the Middle East. I did agree with his self-description though – “I’m not a complicated man”. True.

At the end of a season there must be a winner. When it comes to pleasing the plebs (with his hi-jinks) and the party (with his popularity) there is only ever going to be one winner. The political colossus on his unimpeded rise to the pinnacle of British power is of course, Boris. BoJo stole the show, as he always does, with a few pop culture references the self-deprecating humour that defines us and his one-of-us public persona. I’m quite worried that to many people this makes him seem electable as PM. Boris Johnson is to politics as X Factor is to music: Entertains millions and seems like harmless fun but is driven by a predatory cynicism and demeans us all.

The Thick of It is back tonight, fictional horrible bastards are much easier to tolerate than the real thing.

By thelostartofconversation

One Last Push

It has been said before. Countless times. After every long period away from blogging the few of you who have read them all have witnessed many examples of, ‘The Comeback Blog’. Well chalk up another one for the collection.

At this point I am the boy who cried Wolfe. I don’t blame you for doubting me, if you do believe me I’d advise you to be a bit more incredulous in future as I do have the form of someone who is at best, delusional, and at worst a liar. That being said, I will try one final time to be a blogger.

One last push that will hopefully bring forth into the world (wide web) a life form. My intention, as with everyone’s offlings, is for it to be healthy and fully-functioning, have lots of acquaintances that drop by often and maybe even make a valued contribution to society. But alas, as with most, it will likely be a good-for-nothing little urchin that is only barely loved by its creator, with worrying social and physical deformities and a future laden with mediocrity and overwrought metaphors.

A disclaimer: The format I’d like to adopt is one of regular updates and very little planned content. This will most likely result in a lot of stream-of-consciousness rambling with little point or punch line. But what has kept me from posting in the past has been a fear of standing on a soapbox with nothing to say. Allow me these hopefully occasional journeys into the formless babble of a Boris Johnson TV apology and maybe we can alight on the other side of content and wit.

If anybody is reading me for the first time, welcome. I am a kindergarten teacher with a beard but luckily I no longer live in a country where this is illegal. For an example of what my life is like: Today I fished excrement out of a urinal.

I have my own method of motorised transportation! For the first time in my life I don’t travel on the moral high ground of those who don’t drive a car or a motorbike. I no longer wait at the bus stops and railway platforms of the environmentally conscious and I am forever saved from… having to get lifts everywhere with mates. The words car and motorbike were thrown in there as a dead herring. I live in a busyish Asian city, therefore I am a scooterer. At16 I thought that not even considering owning a scooter was a sign of my maturity, over the trials and tribulations, ups and downs and lazy clichés of the last nine years I have moved past this. It’s true, a university education and experiencing other cultures truly does open the mind.

This is basically it. Every week. Thanks.

By thelostartofconversation