Wednesday, 31 October 2007

My big fat family

Randomness as always. There was a Baptism over the weekend in Portsmouth and on meeting my family again, I was inspired to vlog about it...

A big sorry to all that normally 'read' my blog. I have been posting far too many videos lately, and this will be rectified in November with more words and less visuals.

'Big' and 'Fat' does not reference the girth of individuals in my family, but to their actual number. I have a lot of family members. This disclaimer is there to assure any family members who happen to find this video that I really love you all and yes you are all model thin.

(hehe)







Oh, and at four and a half minutes, it is my shortest vlog to date. Trimming the fat indeed!

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

An explanation



Okay, apologies to any regular blog readers now left. After a week of plov and another few days of pure videos, you are all probably missing my witty take on the world and on how humanity especially in my particular part of London affects my own kooky views on this tiny rock in space known as Earth.

And if you have got through that last paragraph, then you must have real patience.

It has been a bit of a weird week though and hence the amount of videos and plov. Firstly, I did make plov and I actually planned that week. Unfortunately, the response for that was appalling, so it will be a while before I reveal my culinary side. But I love cooking, in fact the only thing I love more are films. Cooking is a passion inside of me. The only type of shopping I enjoy is for food and for me an activity spent shopping inside a market for fruit, vegetables, fish and meat is surely a fantastic thing. And of course, today I was out and about in South London grabbing Snapper and Mutton.

Then over the weekend there was a Baptism to attend which was fantastic and I was 'The Godfather' to my little nephew, which was fantastic. I can see myself stroking kittens and chopping off horses heads right now...

Also, I have been video crazy. I am doing a bit more Jay and Kay as well as entering a competition to try and race from Budapest to Bamako and so I had way too much fun flooring it through the tunnels of the East End as well as a fun race onto the Woolwich Ferry. Well, a long queue for the ferry.

I love the ferry.

Monday, 29 October 2007

They will return...

I have not been ignoring you.



It has been a busy time since the Canary Wharf Film Festival and so I have been getting a little bit behind the adventures of Jay and Kay. Nevertheless, we have shot a little bit more and it seems that our two favourite East Enders might actually be leaving the confines of Poplar. Where will our inept duo head? All to be revealed...

Friday, 26 October 2007

My plov recipe

Today, the last of the plov blogs, I will explain how I actually made this signature dish. But in the way I actually cook it. You see, I rarely measure anything out. I got by handfuls and bowlfuls rather than pounds and ounces. Nevertheless, the pictures should help you visualise the making of this Central Asian treat.

First, you need a wokful of meat. It has to be fatty, so go to a halal meat shop and ask for 'Mixed Mutton' or 'Mixed Goat' as usually this is more fatty than regular cuts of the leg or shoulder. You need fatty meat for this dish to work. For all you guys spoilt by the cellophane wrapped stylings of the supermarket, you need to appreciate the slaughter of our four legged friends before you can properly eat them. Also a halal shop is a lot cheaper than Tescos etc.

So, heat a lot of olive oil in the wok. Add half of an unchopped onion. Let it go black. Toss out the onion and then add the meat. High gas so all the 'pink bits'; vanish.


(A 'wokful' - what a great measurement)

Make sure you have some roughly chopped white onions (half a dozen or so) and loads of carrots. I used well over a dozen.


(That's pumpkin on the right hand side, which I also made)

Once the meat has has been sizzling away (make sure it does not stick to the pan by stirring it), then add the onions and carrots to the mixture. Keep stirring, on high heat. Heat is good, but you got to keep stirring the meat otherwise it will stick to the pan and you'll get burnt bits. Keep going for 15 minutes, until the carrots are nice and soft.

In the meantime wash some rice (you could pre-do all of this). For a wokful of plov, 3-4 mugfuls of rice should do it. And then go back to your wok. Get out cumin, bay leaves, salt and pepper. And then add them in. Oh, measures, I forget, you all rely on measures. Well, a generous palmful of cumin (cumin is always good, you can add more), a fair bit of pepper (I suppose a table spoon), the same amount of salt (this is not a salty dish, the carrots make up for that) and a few bay leaves. Once they are walked in, fry for about a minute longer than add in the same amount of water as you have rice (so in this case, 3-4 mugfuls). Make sure the water is already hot.

And then you simmer. Yes, calm down and relax. Simmer for at least fifteen minutes, maybe twenty, depending on how hot your water is. Cover the wok when you simmer. Once this is done open the pan. Now you meat is well on the way to being cooked and everyone's mouths should be drooling over the deliciousness of the mixture. You're nearly there. Have a cheese twist or something to keep you happy.

Next, you have to add the rice (Basmati or any other rice such as parboiled is fine). This is the bit where it can go completely tits up. You need to whack the flame on high again, so the water starts bubbling. Then add your washed rice. Now, be careful as you can tip the wok here. As you add the rice, you have to keep stirring the mixture. The rice is going to soak up the water pretty quickly, so you have to stir the mixture to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. If you have a free hand you can add some saffron or paprika to the mix. It gives a nice colour. Allow the water to dry up. Then lower the heat, add 3/4 mug of cold water to the wok, cover and simmer on a low flame for 20-30 minutes.

Once this time has elapsed, open the wok, turn off the gas and serve. A simple salad is good such as chopped cucumbers or lettuce. No dressing of any sort, it will be yucky. Cooked pumpkin is also good (check back on Halloween) to accompany the dish. The perfect drink is tea, especially something like oolong, but even normal breakfast tea will do. Something to wash down the fat. And melons make a good desert.


(This is what it should look like)

Plov is a simple dish. You can add apricots or raisins, but I am a purist and I want to recapture the flavour of North-West China. Just carrots is fine by me. Plov is also a fatty number, that is a simple necessity for the taste. Do not be tempted to add chilli into the dish, it will do fine without eat. And most of all, bring a vegetarian along...

A more coherent way to make plov.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

The creation of plov!

Ghengis was a little hungry. A day of pillaging the oases of the Taklamakan and he realised that his tummy was rumbling. He also had an army of men to feed. Something had to be done. Hungry men would not be able to fight. Instead they would be thinking of the warm bosom of home; of their wives and of their wives' cooking skills. Ghengis realised that to garner his men for the next battle that they would have to be fed.

Ghengis managed to find a survivor amongst the rubble. At swordpoint he ordered him to make a feast fit for an army. The man debated. Either it was death by the army for not cooking or death from his wife for not cleaning the house. He decided to opt for the latter. After all, there was always the opportunity of make-up sex.

So our guy, let's call him 'Chuckles', asked Ghengis for a saucepan to put over his fire. After all, how could he cook if all his pans were lost in the pillaging. Ghengis promptly turned round his shield and presented him with a cooking facility. Impressed by the ingenuity of the Mongol horde he got to work. Chuckles said he needed meat and one of the archers shot a wandering sheep. Skinned, he chucked in the fat. By now, Chuckles was in trouble. The pillaging had left the town bare of any food. He stumbled on an onion patch and tossed one of them in the shield. The smell would at least distract the horde and allow him some time to think of what to cook.

He scoured the ground but all he could find was a few carrots left untouched by the pillaging. But as Chuckles turned to his shield, the onion in the pan had already burned. Panicking he lopped the onion out. Ghengis was displeased that he had burned the onion, but Chuckles managed to convince him that it was all for flavour.

Wanting to wield his sword, Ghengis hacked the slaughtered sheep into pieces. Realising that it would be his limbs next, Chuckles put the sheep into the shield. The fat and juices from the meat created an intoxicating smell and soon, everyone was looking forward to the dish on the stove.

All except Chuckles. What next? Well, with nothing else left, he threw in the onions and carrots, gently chopped. Soon enough they were frying away with the meat. But Chuckles knew he needed something more. Then he realised his underground supply of rice. Chuckles loved rice and had kept some in his cellar on the invasion. One of the soldiers checked it out and lo and behold, rice was a plenty. Gently washing the rice, he realised the carrots and meat were ready, but something was missing.

He appealed to the Great Kahn. He needed some spice, just a little to flavour the dish. Ghengis thought for a moment, and out of his back pocket got out some cumin. There was nothing fancy, but Ghengis enjoyed chewing on them to keep his brain in check. Mutton and cumin was a strange combination, but at the salivating mouth of the army, Chuckles threw it into the shield along with a bit of salt and a couple of bay leaves that were lying around the place. Then came the tricky bit. Chuckles got the washed rice and added it to the pan. All the water began to evaporate as the rice sucked up the moisture. Was it true, was this meal ok?

Chuckles covered the shield and prayed for a miracle. He really did not fancy being on the receiving end of a sword thrust. But what good was a couple of carrots and some cumin mixed in with mutton and rice? Where was the spice?

Ghengis, impatient, ripped the lid off the pan. He held his sword to Chuckles. Our cook had no option, but to serve the Great Kahn. Ghengis sniffed at the food. But there was no time for this. He took a mouthful. And then he stopped chewing. His army looked at him. The Great Kahn looked back. All was silent on the field.

Suddenly Ghengis let out a great laugh. All the army laughed and cheered. Chuckles thanked his lucky stars. And in the process, came up with the dish we know today as:

PLOV

---

(You see. Archaeologists have imagination too)

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Encounters with Plov (2)

From Charglick in the east to Kashgar in the west, it took a friend and myself 51 days to cross the Taklamakan Desert, a part of the ancient Silk Road. To this day, I still do not know why or how we made it across, but we defied mortality and managed to make it across.

But what kept us alive was the regular injections of fat you would get when ordering a bowl of plov. On all my previous visits to Xinjiang, obtaining plov was a relatively simple task. FInd the big burly chap next to the Kazan and pay him your cash. But out in the desert it got a bit more complicated. Unlike before, I was not bypassing the small towns, in fact I was stopping off at every possible hut along the way.

Plov is a luxury dish. In fact it is a big thing in rural areas. Much like you do not expect English families to cook a roast dinner everyday, it is the Samna with plov. It is only freely available in the cities due to the large population that can sustain a plov cooking lifestyle. But out in the sticks...

One other thing that I noticed while travelling in rural Xinjiang. The matriarchal nature of the Uyghurs. Now, this may not appear in any fancy texts or any lousy study from some dumb American University, so let me be the first person in 'The West' to publish this fact. Yes, the Uyghur people are matriarchal. In fact in the countryside, the women really dominate. It seems that in the cities the traditions of Uyghur mama is starting to break up and men are finally achieving equality. But in the country, it is mama that does the cooking, mama that runs the household and most importantly, you better pay mama the bill otherwise she will kill you.

No joking, these women scare the life out of me. They are beautiful, but frightening. Like a supernova is beautiful but yet frightening due to the impending doom.

So there, it is official. The Uygurs are a matriarchal society, based on my own observations. No one else has published this fact in the west (go on, try google). They are more so in the countryside. So do not give me any crap about Islam suppressing women, because that does not happen out in Central Asia, no way, I have seen men getting beaten up on the streets of Xinjiang by these women. Arm in arm mother will walk with her four daughters while the men walk two steps behind. Men do not accept the money transactions it is all done through the eldest woman there. The mamas, they cook a mean plov, the best I have ever tasted. And to all the Uygur women reading this, please, pretty please, do not beat me if I mucked up your recipe. Okay?

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Encounters with Plov (1)

My first encounter with this tasty dish was on my travels to China in 1999. Unlike most people who made a beeline for Tibet or decided to hug the East Coast, for some reason I had my heart set on China's exotic North West, its largest province, Xinjiang. Like Tibet it has a recent history of unease with the communist state. Unlike Tibet, its cause is not as fashionable.

But I was not there for the drama, nor was I there for the chicks (famed in the Middle Kingdom for the long-long hair and big-big eyes). Nope, I was there for the desert.

Eh? Why go all that way to see a desert?

I don't know. I just like it. Deserts and eveything else.

Well, I ended up in Kashgar, 19 years old and already with a few tales spilling out of my backpack. And I had ventured into the bazaar and looked around. The melons on sale were quite good and despite the obvious health warnings had not once disturbed my gut. I had a few salty samsas that morning and so was hungry for something a bit more fulfilling. And then I found the difference. Maginificently prepared and staring at me from a big kazan was a dish that instantly tickled my senses. Ordering a dish, I paid my few pence, sat down and entered the world of plov...

---

It was another three years before I would experience the taste of plov. I had finished some archaeology in China's east and what better way to use up my summer than to head towards Pakistan, the difficult way. This meant going overland all the way until I hit Karachi. Of course this entailed taking on the Karakoram Highway. On the way, I treated myself to plentiful bowls of plov, each more delicious than the last. Oh the memories of such a trip...

---

My last encounter with plov toook place in 2003. It was winter and I had just completed a stupid bet with another Londoner about being able to walk across the Silk Road in one piece. After a couple of months, I ended up on the other side in barely one piece. But I was kept together by the bowls of plov that was served along the way.

Interestingly, it was on this final trip (so far) that I got to know more about the plov dish and of this big part of Central Asia...



(The famed plov rush)

Monday, 22 October 2007

What is plov?

Plov! Palov! Pilav! Pilaw! Polo! A variety of names to describe this most wonderful of dishes, the undisputed king of the ‘rice and meat’ menu and filling the heart of many a Central Asian warrior with the energy in which to repel another invasion or to trade the vast distances from their homelands.

Plov is simply a magical dish, something that should be savoured with plenty of hot tea and followed by plenty of melons. But what exactly is Plov as outside Asia it is almost unheard of.

Well to put it simply it is chunky pieces of fatty meat garnished with rice, carrots, onions and cumin sprinkled with a little salt, pepper and a few bay leaves for flavour. That’s it. Those simple ingredients have razed cities to the ground, allowed for the export of silk and have kept Central Asia a far saner place than it actually is. There is probably no other single food that has been more instrumental to the development of human history until the discovery of the chilli by the Old World in the 15th Century.

Four years after tasting my last dish of plov in the cold wastelands of Urumqi, I finally bit the bullet and took my first attempt at this sacred dish. May I add that I am now the Master of Plov!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

The Plov Master

Right at the beginning of this blog I asked if anyone here likes Plov. Well, yesterday I cooked this, the King of Central Asian dishes. And it was mighty fine. This is not normally a food blog, but for the next week, we will be talking about one thing only. Yum!

Saturday, 20 October 2007

A blogger's blog

Well, thanks to the huge number of people for visiting the blog this week. And a special thanks to the two that have replied to my request. I am still a little bit suspicious of the high number of visitors to this site. As of yet, I am not Mr. Universe, nor am I a famous movie director, but I cannot mock the number of visitors, thank you whoever you are!

I started this blog just as a cheap way to garner publicity, but I have actually quite enjoyed doing it and so continue blogging (with the occasional vlog) simply as a bit of pleasure. It's interesting, as this blog does not really have a particular topic. This is not really a film blog or a blog about London but just a mish-mash. Each day throws up a different post. I suppose that this blog matches my emotional state on a daily basis. When I am feeling good, bad, kinky, funky or whatever. It seems to get posted. Occasionally I have a special set of topics. But most of all, this blog is a very personal account of the life of me.

The ego has landed...

Friday, 19 October 2007

The mutton roll man

Go to any Sri Lankan shop early morning and at round 10am you will see a bunch of half starved Ceylonese looking up and down the road, waiting for a sign of hope. Many of these Sri Lankans have probably started their shift early that morning, many have come off night duty and a few may be retired. But they all have the same gleam in their eye. And they are waiting for their special treat.

And here he comes, driving a silver honda. It may not be much, but in the boot of his car is a bounty so delightful that half the diaspora have travelled from miles around just to get him. Hot, fresh and filled with the spice and memories of the motherland, despite all our infighting, tsunamis and bickering, the goods that this simple man delivers have kept us going through think and thin. They have also contributed to many a heart attack along the way.

But health hazard or not, come 10am, the roads around every Sri Lankan shop comes alive with the joyous sigh from our collective tastebuds. the mutton roll man has delivered. And it is mighty tasty.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Er, hi.

Yeah, this is more directed to the guys and girls who view this blog through myspace. Who are you all? For some reason, in recent weeks I've been getting ridiculously high numbers of people viewing this blog. Are you all really reading this? Or is my ticker actually playing up? So yeah, drop me a line in the comment box whether you're viewing this through myspace, blogger or facebook. It would just be nice to know who you all are.

And I also hope you enjoy reading all the posts. To all those that are new, feel free to flick through some of my personal faves over the past few months:

Summer.
Where I'm from.
The Ham Ferry (part of a London's river crossings).

I still can't believe the amount of people that are allegedly reading this blog.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

What do women really want?

Note that I actually don't mention the important things such as a relationship, a partnership between two people or even love.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

UHT - The Devil's Milk

While I travel, I make a conscious effort to eat better. I make sure I pack in plenty of fruit and vegetables. An easy thing, considering the quality abroad. And I try to eat plenty of fibre. Nothing is worse than that uncomfortable feeling before a ten hour coach ride.

But, one of the surprising things about travelling to more exotic locales is the difficulty in getting fresh milk. Just in case I have not yet mentioned it, the majority of the world is lactose intolerant. Yoghurt and cheeses are not so bad as the lactose is soured out of those products. But milk is a definite no-no, particularly cows milk which has vast amounts of lactose.

For all regular readers of this blog, you know how much I like my milk. And so you can imagine the horror I felt when I was browsing through Auntie today:

Defra denies UHT switch plan

And it's not even April Fools!

Monday, 15 October 2007

Self...

So it is official I have informed the taxman and so I can confirm that I am self employed. Just how much money I will make, I have absolutely no idea. At the moment it is not in the film business, but hopefully sooner rather than later, I will be able to make that next step. For the time being however, I have to try to wangle as much as possible.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Ugh

5am in the morning. Never a good thing. Working on a Sunday, even worse. The perils of self-employment.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Public v Private

A public persona is always good to have. I should always be careful about what I write on this blog as maybe, just maybe, one day, someone will actually trawl through this and take a look at some of the stuff that I wrote. And then they would go, 'but you said...'

(Maybe a life of politics is out of the question).

But as I am not famous enough to actually care about that at this moment, I can get away with what I want to say. Who knows, maybe I will go back and delete this blog from all the places that I have written it.

Or maybe, I am already political in what I write on these blogs.

To an extent I am. I am more political in what I write but in an obtuse manner. I like to have the viewer make up their mind, in fact I like to have the viewer ask questions. Often, although I personally only want one side of the argument to win, I can see the point of view of the other side. Hence, I don't like to make my views well known, but to let people decide.

Sometimes I am not careful about what I write. Or is that another level of spin to throw off commentators?

One things about the net. One slip up and the whole world can see. Ooops!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Haggis Tripping

I want to be weird and strange in what I write. I want to be twisted and kinky in what I post. And most of all, I want to laugh in a high pitched manner. This makes me feel good about my self. It makes me feel powerful, dominant. Ethereal, and baby, it turns me on.

Hahahahaha!

Am I going nutty like the beaver?

Do beavers eat nuts?

And why haven't I mentioned milk in such a long time.

I don't know!

Hahahaha!

Yeah and I want to scream in a high pitched voice while grabbing the area around my navel, dancing and skipping amongst the public like a happy man with his not-so-happy-meal (phew, got away with the trademark issues). Taking off my hat and rubbing salt into the pores of my eyes to sweat out the impurities that exist in these plasma ducts. And finally I want to smile at everyone that drops pennies into my scarf now lying on the pavement.

---

I ate haggis yesterday.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Community Leaders

In today's 'multicultural Britain' there always has to be a news report, somewhere, somehow about how ethnic minorities are screwing up this Great Britain. Crime is up, blame the blacks. Bombs are found, blame the Asians. Unemployment is high, blame the Poles. The Chinese don't really get a look in, but I'm sure in ten years time when China becomes a superpower there will be stories about Chinese bogeymen sleeping under your bed.

What then happens is that a 'community leader' is wheeled out by the press to reassure the English that the world is safe, multiculturalism is wonderful and don't worry, we do not venture beyond Zone 6. Your world is safe.

But I have to ask one question, especially to those from an ethnic background.

Have you actually met your community leader?

Who are these people anyway?

Man, I demand to see who my community leader is! And also, do I get a choice of two leaders? What makes these guys (note, they are never women) a representative, a mouthpiece for a group of people. Was there an election that I missed, did my community inform me, or is this an appointed position?

And who is the community leader of the English? Or the Scots or the Welsh or even the Irish? How come those guys don't have one. Nor do the Dutch, French or even the Spanish? But all the Muslims in the UK have one and so do all the Black people (that lumps together Africans and Carib beans).

---

There is something very tribal about this whole idea of a 'Community Leader'. I think it goes back to the misguided subject of Anthropology. As an Archaeologist, I have very little respect for those guys who takes everything from Zones 1-6 as a zoo. And it stems that anyone who is more than slightly tanned, has to be part of a tribe. Instinctively, they can't perform in 'advanced forms of government' but they instead have a loyalty to a 'Big Man'. And if we can deal on some level with this 'Community Leader' then the tribe can be 'tamed'.

---

Some examples to ponder.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

I am not so sick...

Now I am a little bit better, great! But I'm a guy, and pain, discomfort etc is not my forte. I am an awful person, but more so when I come down with something. Luckily my health is usually robust, but yesterday it failed. Cough, cough, cough!

Ugh, why does it have to happen. Bloody bunged up nose, crappy throat and chesty cough. Yuck, yuck, yuck!

Oh well, at least I could get some writing done yesterday.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Crossings over the River Thames 6 - Richmond Bridge



Marking my sixth stop down river, we come to the very pretty Richmond Bridge. Due to the way the river twists and turns at this point, the 'Southbank' is to the north of the bridge and so RIchmond, although a part of South London, sits firmly to the North East of this bridge.

But all technicalities are forgotten once you come to this part of the river. With lots of generous parkland on either side you only notice a few luxury developments when you get close too the town centre. And there is good reason for that. This part of the river does experience flooding on a regular basis. By the time I cycled past RIchmond, my bike had a thorough clean and my socks were hanging off my bag, drying in the wind. The tides creep up this far and regularly top the banks. However, thanks to the parkland on either side, there is no need for strong embankments to keep back the river. Something to keep in mind for the Thames Gateway developments. However, something tells me that riverside views sell a little better.

Richmond Bridge again, is two bridges built as one. Originally built in 1777, it is the oldest surviving crossing of the Thames in London, that is still in use. Something not realised when leapfrogging over the river. It was widened a little in the 1930's, on the upstream side, but the work was cunningly hidden unless you decide to actually look for it under the arches.



It is a narrow bridge to cross, but all credit must be given to the engineers of the 18th century for designing and building a bridge that is still in use today. Despite the ravages of over 200 years of tides and around fifty years of heavy traffic, the bridge still survives and provides an important link in this corner of South West London. Most of the people crossing the river at Richmond probably have no idea of the history of the crossing or the age of the span they stand or drive across. And that is the marvel of any good structure - timelessness.



So as I cross the river and look onwards, London itself creeps up on you. The subtleties of the buildings. They are getting taller, some more grandiose. But the city is getting more, 'city-like' and less suburban. The river is beginning to loose the last of its rural charms and depending on what side of the river you now choose to continue your journey, it is either very posh or not-so-posh.

And good. Rural charm is all lovey dovey, but there is plenty of countryside in the UK. You go there, it smells of manure and everyone goggles at you. Give me the metropolis anyday and I will revel in its funky beats and rudeness with eyes averting and decent food. As the river continues along its journey towards the sea, Richmond marks the point when this muddy little stream begins to take a more interesting turn.



Getting there: Nearest Tube and National Rail - Richmond Station (for the Southbank side). Bus routes 33, 490, H22, H37, R68, R70 and the N22 all cross over the bridge. Route 65 serves the Southbank.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Crossings of the River Thames - Update

It comes to that time of the month again, a little earlier than expected, to explore the river the threads itself like a ribbon through London Town. We've already crossed the river at the Hampton Ferry, Hampton Court Bridge, Kingston Bridge, Teddington Lock and the Ham Ferry.

Next up on the list comes Richmond Bridge. And following on from that, we have:

Twickenham Bridge
Richmond Lock
Kew Bridge
Chiswick Bridge
Barnes Railway Bridge
Hammersmith Bridge
Putney Bridge
Fulham Railway Bridge
Wandsworth Bridge
Battersea Bridge
Albert Bridge
Chelsea Bridge
Vauxhall Bridge
Lambeth Bridge
Westminster Bridge
Hungerford Bridge
Waterloo Bridge
Blackfriars Bridge
Millennium Bridge
Southwark Bridge
London Bridge
Tower Bridge
Rotherhithe Tunnel
Greenwich Foot Tunnel
Woolwich Ferry

and

Woolwich Foot Tunnel

on which to cross the river.

Full report on Richmond Bridge, tomorrow.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Winter is upon us

It becomes more difficult as the days become shorter to be inspired by the surroundings known as London. Home to eight million people, the largest in the EU as well as being its top financial centre, the coming of winter actually adds a downer to the processes of the city.

At 51N, we are far north of any decent place on this planet. It does mean glorious summers and equally inglorious winters. And winter is firmly gripping this flat island in the north east Atlantic.

And as the jobs have changed, I am doing a lot more early mornings. This means getting up in pitch black ad eating breakfast with the curtains closed and the central heating at full blast. Brrr.

However, before Christmas, it is actually bearable. There is something nice, Christmassy in the air. Maybe it is due to the fact that I am a big kid, but the air in the city before Xmas is actually quite cool. In every sense of the world. The cold air coupled with the spring in the step actually makes the beginning of winter, fun.

But, come January...

Anyway, we have a few months left before that kicks in.

Friday, 5 October 2007

The Spice of Life!

I love the chilli. And why not. It is hot to the lips, colouring to the food and appetising to the nostrils. It is a fantastic little fruit, filled with vitamin c and has possible health benefits. Essentially, we are talking about one funky little cultivated miracle.

And so why yesterday's panic on the streets of London? It's not as if we're not used to the spiciness. Yes, coking chilli in oil will make your eyes water and your nose dribble. But it is a good feeling! And if you're used to eating it, then you better get used to the other delights that will occur to your senses once you come near it.

The chilli is a little mischievous. Just look at, the way its bright colours trick you into thinking of its innocence. The way it is shaped, just the correct side of kinky. It is a funny little fruit, not enough of it to make it your 'one-a-day' but still a delightful tickle on the senses.

So to create your own security alert, take a pan. Add a bit of oil, heat it up. Then add a pile of cut chills. Let it fry on high heat and wait for the boys in blue to turn up...

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Watch out! Close the streets! Chemical attack! Terrorists are attacking! Help! Mama!

Sirens go blaring past the bystanders, have now been sealed off from the centre of the world's greyest city. Anyone with a beard is already under suspicion, and make sure that you are actively eating at this point to show the world, 'George Double-Yah' and 'Uncle Gordon', that you are a part of the coalition of the willing.

Coppers, bent and not-so-bent, stand in their bullet proof vests and bulbous helmets, telling the general public that 'nothing is happening'. More streets close off. Someone says the word 'Chemical' and people scream. Can the barriers hold as the surge in humanity flees.

Panic on the streets of London...

People jump out of their cars, realising that it is quicker on foot. Buses are diverted away from the scene of the disaster, but still stop off to pick up Granny who wants to go one stop.

'I remember the blitz...'

The stock market tumbles. Sell, sell, sell is the keyword as savings and investments drop in value. No longer is the mighty Pound Sterling, so mighty. The tourists in the Algarve now have to splurge out that little bit more for their Fish and Chip supper.

And the price of fish and chips in London breaks the £5 barrier.

---

The problem with not having an ethnically diverse police force. Alternatively, for a quick and easy chemical weapon...

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

From 16 to 18

From today it will be illegal to buy cigarettes unless you're 18. So give a thought to the human rights of all those young people suffering from nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Yesterday it was 'legal' for 16 and 17 year olds to buy their fags. Today, they have been denied their cancer fix and have to actively break the law in order to lead a their lives, their way.

Ha-ha!

Monday, 1 October 2007

A month of screenings

It has been a pretty cool month for Babarouge and all things associated with my films. Two film festivals and last night's screening at a Brighton film club has made September '07 a good month for me. But wait a minute, I've already managed to get my stuff on the TV as well as lots of hits over the internet. So why have I put so much emphasis on 'live' viewings.

Is there a snob factor? Partly. Yes, it is nice to be 'screened' rather than 'broadcast'. The ego that people have made an active choice to turn up to see one of your films rather than stumble upon it by accident is kind of cool. And of course, there is kudos. The amount of forms you have to fill in which ask 'Film Festivals Attended' is depressing if you have attended 'nil. No longer will I have a glaring gap on these forms.

But no, that's not the reason why I love being seen on the screen.

Then is it the beauty of seeing your 'image' inflated to the size of a bus (or at least a small car), and hearing your creation in 'surround sound'. The big, brash, ego filling stance that lets you believe in 'the profession'. Well, yeah, there is something nice about seeing your film in what film makers still regard as the ultimate destination, 'da movies'.

But no, that's not the reason either.

Then what is so good about those screenings for greater public?

Well, I get to see the audience. I get to see their reaction. I love to see the audience's reaction, good and bad. You see, I'm still learning and instead of asking people you know, 'wotdoyathink', you can actually see how people, who do not know you, actually react to your films. So you can begin to see, what is working, what isn't. What needs to be fine tuned and what doesn't. The technical aspects are important, but primarily I am there to entertain. If the film is getting the reactions that I want, then I am on the right track. If it isn't, then it is back to the drawing board, but I can learn from my mistakes to make the next film better.

Yes, that is why I sit towards the rear of the screening hall. I can see your reactions. Yep, I saw 'you' laugh when no one else did, I saw 'you' stare blankly at the screen and I saw 'you' shake your head. Thanks, I have a better idea of what to do for my next pieces.

And yeah, it is an ego boost when the cute chicks laugh at your stuff. Well, the sense of humour has to make up for the rest...