Monday, January 22, 2007

Roast beef with thick red wine gravy

FUNNY girl is now No 1 on my long list of favourite members of the opposite sex. Sorry girls (Agatha, Evans, what's-her-name-I-met-in-the-doctor's-surgery...), but when I see Funny Girl in the Yard I go weak at the knees. Well, admittedly that may be because I have spent the previous four hours drinking and have just got onto the Bloody Mary's, but I assure you she has a big effect on me.
Meeting up with my work colleagues again after such a long time away, inevitably a p*ss up ensued. Withers, bless him, was in charge of the news desk for the week, but he was in no way going to let that interfere with his drinking. The Voice boomed his way back into my senses while Marc proudly displayed the absence of "the Wart" and Rosey spoke enthusiastically about his latest freebie skiing holiday.
There's also a new girl having to fight her corner in the testerone fuelled world of WoS - Catherine, who has been taken under the highly dubious charge of reprobates Withers and Marc. Apparently she was not particularly well after her first encounter with the Yard and copious amounts of white wine, much to the whole-hearted admiration of the boys.
As everyone disappeared it inevitably finished with Withers, Catherine and I - and this was when I rekindled my love for Funny Girl. So much so I asked her out and got a really positive reply (by my reckoning, anyway).
Talking to Withers about this later he insisted that I was dreaming if that was considered an answer in the affirmative. He also offered this considerate response to why she had given me such positive signs.
"Rippers, you had her in a bear hug - she was scared to death. What else was she going to say?"
I like to think the hugging was mutual, but I have a nagging suspicion he may be right, a feeling enforced by something that happened as we left the pub.
Removing my copy of the Melbourne Herald Sun I waved it in Funny Girl's face and said: "You must see the picture of me as Yoda."
"I know: you've shown it to me already," she replied.
I think I'm going to have to start tatooing things on my body so I remember them, like the Guy Pearce character in that great film Memento. He had no short-term memory - I suffer from drunken amnesia, obviously.

SPENT the rest of the week recovering at home, though did have a good night out on Friday at Matt's pal Natalie's leaving do. She's so enjoyed her time on Celtic that she has decided to move to Carlisle after just six months or so in Cardiff. Who can blame her?
Ended up in the City Arms enjoying a brilliant set by my DJ, Withers and I burning up the dance floor to "Senses working overtime" by that great 70s and early 80s band XTC. Also met Abby, a 6ft 8ins student type with flowing locks who didn't stop dancing. She didn't appreciate the suggestion that she might have had some outside stimulants to keep up her energy levels.
Unsure what time I got home and settled for a bag of peanuts before bed.

VISITED the parents at the weekend and went to see the Gas fight out a dismal 0-0 draw with Chester. It's difficult to imagine the contrast between the crumbling Memorial Ground and the previous sports stadium I had attended, the SCG in Sydney. And the weather was pretty different, too. By the time I got home I was virtually welded to the steering wheel. Decided I had earned a House Special Curry for Yow's famous Chinese in Albany Road, next to the Claude public house. I guess that's the reason it's famous - at least, Yow has managed to buy a Mercedes from the proceeds so it can't be doing too badly. It's been there for years now, while other takeaways in chip shop mile (or Roath as it is better known) have come and gone. In fact, I remember my first spring roll at Yow's way back in 1978. Yes, I know, sad bastard. Maybe I do have short-term memory loss but there's nothing wrong with my distant recollections.
Which reminds me. My Dad and stepmum are moving into a more manageable smaller flat, so he ceremonially handed me over some photo albums. Pictures of me as a baby. There are some things you just don't remember.

Quiet day, Sunday. Spent most of it watching sport. Arsenal came from behind to beat Manchester United 2-1 in a totally Sky-overhyped Premiership clash, Thierry Henry scoring a last minute winner. I also cooked a nice Sunday lunch and decided to have a crack at my own red wine gravy. Try this:
Roughly chop 3 shallots, 3 carrots and 2 celery sticks. Put them in a baking tray, coat with some cooking oil and cook in oven until they start to brown. (about 20 mins on Gas Mark 5).
Transfer the shallots and a bit of the oil to a large stovetop pan.
Heat and add some plain flour. Stir around so that you have a thick, gooey, shallot and wine mess.
Add about a pint of beef vegetable stock and put in the carrots and celery sticks.
Bring to the boil, stirring continuously.
Then keep on a fairly high heat with lid on and cook for about two hours or however long the roast joint takes.
Just before serving, strain through a sieve and bring the gravy back to the boil.
Poor over roast beef, roast potatoes and your choice of veg, including the carrots and celery if you wish.

The new series of 24 began last night. Doesn't Jack Bauer ever take holidays (apart, that is, from the ones he spends in Chinese prisons).

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