Archive for December 25th, 2006

Christmas message…and other things

I thought I might start by offering useful practical advice…

One too many drinks left you dizzy? Put your hand on something stable. The part of your ear responsible for balance — the cupula — floats in a fluid of the same density as blood. “As alcohol dilutes blood in the cupula, the cupula becomes less dense and rises,” says Dr. Schaffer. This confuses your brain. The tactile input from a stable object gives the brain a second opinion, and you feel more in balance. Because the nerves in the hand are so sensitive, this works better than the conventional foot-on-the-floor wisdom.

Why Rumsfeld got fired… This film is clever…and amusing.

As it happens… I have had quite a sensible day so far. Out on the motorbike early to take advantage of the clear roads. It was cold, but bracing – a short trip down towards Eton and then back to find our local Convenience store was open and, surprisingly, a coffee bar where I had several espressos. No newspapers, so I occupied myself by explaining to several puzzled tourists that Britain would be closed today. They were eating a loaf of freshly baked bread (no butter/marmalade/jam) at a nearby table and were obviously not aware of the possibility that absolutely nothing is open in this part of London. They looked hungry and a bit depressed. I suggested that they go up to Central London. As I never use the tube or buses I was not able to give an opinion on whether these services were running.

I could not be bothered to go to Sainsburys at the weekend to buy any food for today. I am unikely to pass away in the night with malnutrition… as I am dining on All-Bran, some toast and marmite and some very good cheese. I also have a bunch of grapes and enough Rioja Vina Ardanza 1994 Gran Reserva to see me through to the 4th Test tonight. Sometimes it is good to de-tox. Very relaxing.

Spot the apostrophe error on this M&S teashirt.

I remember, some years ago, we produced some black polo shirts to market our online CPD courses. The first proof shirts came back with the logo ‘Legal Practioner” instead of ‘Legal Practitioner.’ No-one spotted it – until, thankfully, I was trying one out at The Bollo and a friend asked me why I had a typo on my polo shirt. Easily done! ‘The Paris in the the spring’ syndrome.

Primrose Hill gets a kicking from Rod Liddle – excellent stuff.

I rarely enjoy restaurant reviews – but read them, nevertheless. Rod Liddle, writing in the Sunday Times, has excelled himself. I shall give you a taste of things to come with a few brief extracts: “Primrose Hill is a square mile or so of upper-middle-class mewing; pricey, dull, conservative, utterly dead to the rest of the world, home to our ruling class from all the estates, one through to four. Just to say the words “Primrose Hill” requires that strange, strangulated tightening of the mouth you get when suddenly — because you are in polite company — you are forced to swallow your own vomit.”

Liddle was reviewing ‘Odette’s’… and he comments: “Odette’s, you see, has a famous chef in residence — Bryn Williams, who has cooked for the Queen. Cooked for quite a few queens now he’s in Primrose Hill, I would guess.”

Liddle was not impressed with the cloves served with tuna: still — clove? With tuna? “It was an appalling combination. Any flavour the tuna may have possessed got its head well and truly kicked in. It was close to inedible; it reminded me of toothache. My girlfriend refused to swallow. Again.”

Read the full review – it certainly amused me. The waitress at Cafe Rouge, where I had scrambled egg yesterday, looked very puzzled when I started laughing.

I am off to eat some Toast and marmite… I shall return…possibly.

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The High Road and the Ivy…

There was a time when celeb Chefs were on pretty well every UK television programme to a point where one feared they would end up reading the News and..even, in an extreme case, training as pilots or cabin crew with EasyJet to get even more publicity by appearing in that truly bizarre programme – on Sky – ‘Airline’.

Thankfully… the British obsession with watching cookery programmes and then going out to eat or nipping down to Iceland, M&S, Sainsbury, Tesco to buy pre-prepared Boeuf Buggeroff et al, might just be coming to an end. I really do not want to see another Chef swanning about front of house in a restaurant, on TV, in a chemistry laboratory, or even driving a minicab. It is time for ‘Cook’ to get back in the kitchen and stop prattling on about ‘cooking things off’… and looking smug on Ready, Steady Cook and actually do some cooking for their customers who… perhaps naively, expect to eat food cooked by the celeb chef who founded the restaurant.

I put to you this postulate: If a ‘person in need of legal advice’ briefed a famous Silk and then found that ‘famous Silk’ had told his ‘sous-barrister’ to handle it… would that be fair? One cannot imagine such a situation ever arising in our ‘beautiful Game’ – yet Chefs get away with it all the time.

I went to High Road Brasserie in Chiswick this morning. I was wearing motorbike leathers – simply because I was riding a motorbike and my usual breakfast establishments were closed. The fact that my usual establishments were closed was not the reason I decided to put my leathers on. I simply felt that I should look the part…in case I bumped into King Herod, ruining Christmas for the children of West London, or handing out tax returns, or Good King Wenceslas – and…anything is possible in Chiswick since  ‘High Road House’ opened on the high street.

I looked at the breakfast menu at High Road Brasserie (Chef Impey pictured above with tomatoes on the ‘vine’ – even Sainsburys sell them like that now.) Good value, I am sure… but…when I saw the people sitting in there, at 9.15 this morning, and the ‘faux Parisien’ staff in their black and white outfits, with aprons, I thought… ‘Sod it’… I might not see another White Christmas (Apparently most Brits only see eight of these in a lifetime) and I really do not need to have breakfast in a trendy Chiswick brasserie simply because I was hungry. The truth is… I was worried about committing a solecism by actually wanting to eat something… and… I had the feeling that entering this hallowed establishment with those thoughts in mind, this morning, was not appropriate. [The Heinz tomato sauce and HP sauce bottles on each table – looked like a ‘homage’ to Damien Hurst but may have had a utility beyond the ken of some diners, unused to smearing sauce over their Oeufs Benedict]

Of course, I accept that many people who go to this establishment do actually eat… but… having been interested in Law for nearly 30 years… I always like to think about the mens rea and actus reus. I felt that I did not have either this morning.

I went, in the end, to Cafe Rouge and poured so much pepper on my scrambled eggs that I made the dish inedible. ‘C’est la vie’… but, having been to a detention centre in Perthshire (13 – 18 years old) which provided excellent teaching, the odd Scotland Rugby Captain, and other luminaries – and truly appalling food (things may well have changed) – I coped.

I wish you a Merry Christmas… I have noticed. by the time stamp facility on this software, … that it is now Christmas Day. I will return during the day… to other matters.


Astonishing thought this may seem, to some viewers, I am sitting in my Staterooms with an avuncular old gentleman from Lapland wearing red robes, which reminded me of the higher judiciary, who landed on my roof half an hour ago to drop off a couple of bottles of Rioja. Unfortunately my chimney has been bricked over… which was causing him some difficulty, so I let him in through the door to my roof garden. Nice Chap. Told me that he was looking forward to watching the 4th Test tomorrow night when his work was done. He’s just about to leave.

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