Thursday, March 29, 2007

Finnish meatballs in a sour cream sauce

THE fervent little ball of fiery energy that is Bram seems to be burning out with just days to go before the smoking ban is introduced across the hostelries of Wales. I call him little ball because his appetite is such these days that he can only do up one button on his Joseph-and-the-Amazing-technicolour waistcoat that he wears every day to work.
Brammy has been on a mission over recent weeks, as readers of this blog will be well aware. It has been his intention to launch such an outpouring of human rage across this small nation that Welsh Assembly wallahs will shrink back under their blankets, turn off the lights and try to pretend they never even thought of banning us from smoking in public.
But it appears God has interfered with the highly-devout little man's plans.
First it came in the form of two local newspapers refusing to print his letter calling for a massing of the troops and a full-scale sit-in protest at the Boar's Backside on the fateful day - April 2. Then the Lord again moved in a mysterious way, ordering local shopkeepers to refuse him when he asked to put notices up in their shops calling the disaffected to his rally of the hard-put-upon masses.
And on Wednesday night came the final straw. He ambled his way up to the Boar's for a swift pint courtesy of his student card (yes, Brammy has himself a student card even though he must be in his hundreds by now and has never been within belching distance of a University) - only to find the place had caught fire!
Since then he has been wandering around, white as a sheet, muttering things like "Act of God... He doesn't want me to protest..." and other such witterings to anyone who cares to listen.
Perhaps he heard the Voice of God booming out that same night: "Hey, Rippers, where are we going for a pint?"
Becks, meanwhile, suggests that Brammy might be adding another song to his repertoire to play in the Abergavenny folk club of a Thursday night: "I didn't start the fire..." Eat your heart out, Bruce Springsteen.

Last night I cooked Finnish meatballs with spaghetti. Lovely. Recipe to follow later...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Beef Mince frittata with pasta tomato salad

WE'RE still pulling bodies out of the wreckage of the Great smoothy disaster of March 28, 2007. Well, to be frank, it was young Becks who was the worst victim.
Becks, you see, is rather partial to these peculiar full-bodied fruit smoothy-type drinks. He obtains what he calls a snapple from the House of Lard every Saturday and has even taken to satisfying his cravings on a daily basis.
Whether that obsession continues after today remains to be seen.
There I was with my back to the design desk trying to catch 40 winks without anyone noticing when suddenly a loud cry went up. Looking around there was blood on the carpet and no sign of Becks. Well, ok, not blood exactly - more the remnants of what's known as an innocent strawberry and banana juice drink - and its thick, gluey red substance can certainly make quite a mess.
The Prince of Darkness was looking stunned, having managed to avoid the splashback from this most dangerous of all spillages. Luckily there were no pets or sea birds in the vicinity because the mess resembled that of a rather nasty discharge from one of those very un-pc oil tankers which sometimes spill their loads on our pleasant beaches.
"Where's Becks?" we inquired, alarmed at the likely answer.
No one had seen him. And the time went by: five minutes, ten minutes, 15 minutes. Finally a search party was organised.
I found the innocent victim standing by the hand dryer, trousers in hand, clad in just boxers and socks, bemoaning his bad fortune and looking well shaken, and not a little stirred. He needed a stiff drink (and not a non-alcoholic fruit-based one) after that trauma. Thank God it was Wednesday club that night.

Ok, it's time I came out of the closet. I've got a bird. I'm fed up with all the speculation and innuendo that has been plaguing me in the office over the last month or so. For arguments sake we'll call her Wren, because she is a bird and once mentioned she wouldn't mind being in the Navy. Probably after four pints of cider, I think.
Talking of drinks we were out on Monday night and spent a pleasant evening in a Bristol pub. Pleasant, that is, until I suddenly realised that three pints of Red Stripe on top of a couple of other pints of lager meant your feet tended to wander in a different direction to the one your brain wanted them to go in.
The treat of the night was to be a Meteor (or is it Meatier? get it???) pizza from Domino's, but I was highly disappointed when said establishment was shut. Managed to wobble home with a pretty poor effort of a Chinese, then collapse. Sorry, Wren, but you will have to get used to it eventually, or chuck me. Come to think about it, I shouldn't really be putting ideas in your head.

Spent all day recovering yesterday from the Red Stripe episode. Last night, though, I decided I needed something substantial to eat and made what can best be described as a minced beef fruitata from a recipe I found in the Sainsbury's mag. Very nice, as it happens.
You need:
olive oil
A large sweet potato (thinly sliced)
1/2lbs minced beef
2 leeks
1 pepper (recipe says yellow but I used red)
2 large teaspoons of cayenne pepper
some cut chives or half a shallot (my preference)
three eggs (whisked).
What to do:
Heat the oil in a frying pan, then fry the sweet potato.
When it browns turn the heat down and continue for five mins to soften it.
Remove from pan.
Put in the mince, chopped leeks, chopped pepper and cook for 5-10 mins until mince browns.
Add the paprika, chives or shallot.
Stir and cook for another five minutes.
Add the eggs and stir until they set and then season with salt and pepper.
Put the sweet potato back on top and then heat under the grill for a few minutes in the pan, making sure the handle doesn't get too hot and that you have used a flame proof one.
Serve in slices with some pasta mixed with fresh tomatoes.
Very filling

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Beef Tenderloin with wild mushrooms

SHUTTS has settled on the type of car he wants. And just as you would expect of the tallest man in the world, he's going to buy a mini. Honestly. No sh*t. The man with a frame of 6ft 20 or so inches is going to squeeze into something that stands about 4 feet off the ground.
I'm already having images of him having to take out the front seats and cut a hole in the roof, then drive around like Dino, the dinosaur in the old Flinstone cartoons. Always one to count the cash, perhaps he will cut holes in the floor too and run around to save on petrol, making "vvrmm, vvrrmm" noises as he goes.
"Why the hell are you getting a mini, Shutts?" we all chirped in unison at this astonishing revelation.
"The Missus wants one," he revealed, shifting the blame as he is wont to do.
"But didn't you put your foot down and demand something a bit more practical?" I asked.
"No, it's ok. Mind you, we won't be able to fit any passengers in the back. Still, she's set her heart on it so there is little I can do about it."

Talking about people being badgered into things by their other halves, the Prince of Darkness is now the proud owner of a dog. He is decidely grumpy about this, having answered the pleas of wife and kids with the outburst "No, no, no, no, no". The Princess of Darkness totally ignored him as usual.
I'm not quite sure the dog that was chosen fits the Prince's image, however. You would think he might possess a hellhound, a black rottweiler or the hound of the baskervilles. Umm, not really. He's actually got a labradoodle, which I assume is a cross between a labrador and a poodle. How one of these is physically produced is beyond me. Doesn't seem possible. But there it is.
People around the Cwmbran area of Gwent will be locking their doors at the sound of its distant howling, quaking in their beds as the Prince strides the streets, dragging it on its midnight walks. Probably in a muslin bag.

Unable to get hold of veal this week, I instead bought a very tender piece of beef and followed a great recipe from Anthony Bourdain. First, though, I made up my own chicken stock by roasting carrots, shallots and celery in the oven then putting them in a large saucepan together with the bones of a cooked chicken I had bought from Sainsbury's, some thyme, bayleafs and back peppercorns. Filling the pan close to the top with water, I gently simmered this for about four hours or so, then strained the vegetables out with a metal sieve and poured the stock into a measuring jug.
For the tenderloin:
olive oil
1lb of beef tenderloin
A selection of wild mushrooms like Shitake and oyster mushrooms.
Double cream.
A small bottle of madeira wine.
Salt and pepper.

To do:
Heat oven to gas mark 4.
Wash the meat and shake on some salt and pepper. leave stand for about 20 mins.
Heat up a non-stick frying pan then add olive oil and a knob of butter. Wait for the butter or margarine to sizzle then die down, then sear the meat on all sides until nicely brown.
Remove meat from pan and put into ovenproof dish together with its juices. Put in the oven for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile heat a small saucepan, melt in some more butter or marge, then add the washed mushrooms. Cook until they soften and start to brown.
Add 2 fld ozs of madeira wine and scrape up the juices as you mix it. Add the shallots and continue to cook.
Remove the meat from the oven, poor the juices back into a frying pan and leave the meat to stand.
Heat up the meat juices then add 2 more fld ounces of madeira and bring to boil, add the mushroom mixture then 5 ozs of the chicken stock, stirring all the time. Boil rapidly until sauce is reduced by half, then add 4 fl ozs of double cream, turn down but continue to stir. Add pepper and salt as required.
Cut up the steak and serve with mashed potato, roasted squash and roasted leek. Then poor over the mushroom sauce.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Soup crisps

ALEXANDER Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, John Logie Baird... the greatest minds in WoS came up with an invention last night which, I am convinced, will push these old codgers into the dustbin of history. It shouldn't take a genius to work out that this "Eureka" moment came about in that Academy of learning better known as The Yard.
It all began with the Wonderful One himself, Withers, who was telling the Prince of Darkness, the Fab BB, The Voice of God and myself about a conversation he had been having with Rosey the previous evening when both were, I understand, rather tired and emotional from a long day on the alcohol.
The subject matter got on to crisps with Withers posing the quite understandable question: "Why the hell did anyone invent Prawn Cocktail crisps - and who eats them?"
Apparently a new barmaid joined in the conversation, explaining that they were her favourite flavour.
Withers wasn't convinced: "No one says Prawn Cocktail flavour are their favourite crisps. They don't taste of prawns for a start."
It was a worthy point which had the rest of us nodding in agreement.
I surmised that Prawn Cocktail was the only starter that had been turned into a crisp and that perhaps we could come up with a new range of potato chips based solely on this premise. You could have stuffed garlic mushroom flavour, melon flavour, pate on toast flavour...
Then it hit us, all at once. Withers and I looked at each other, the lightbulbs going on above our heads, and we both cried: "Soup crisps".
You could have a packet of tomato flavour, or oxtail flavour, or chicken flavour crisps with a container of hot water in a vacuum flask. You could then tip the crisps into the bowl, pour over the water and the crisps would melt. Then you could eat the soup.
Sadly the idea doesn't quite retain its appeal in the cold light of day although our casual sub Emma was quite keen to develop it further. "You could have a full three course lunch of just crisps," she suggested. "Imagine it: stuffing crisps, roast potato crisps, yorkshire pudding flavour..." Sounds like the idea might run and run.

Good old Captain Mainwaring, our blonds-have-more-fun features editor, has taken us rather literally when we have chirped in with comments about "Son of Len". So much so that she nearly asked the Terminator-like security guard how his Dad was. At this we were all falling about laughing. I think, somewhere, the captain had missed the point. Son of Len isn't really Len's son, you see. He just has an identical jobsworth attitude, possibly having spent his apprenticeship under Len Senior.
Of course, if he discovered his nickname Son of Len might be even less amenable. The writers are quite glad that the captain never actually struck up a conversation with him. The repercussions, particularly with regard to obtaining a pool car, could have been horrendous.
Interestingly, Son of Len has recently been much more cheery, perhaps because his mam has been putting his favourite filling into the sandwiches he caringly removes from his lunchbox every day - it's quite eery when he smiles at you, like the Terminator turning from baddie to goody between parts one and two. You are left wondering when he will turn back again, like his alter-ego Arnold Schwarzennegger does in Terminator Part Three, Rise of the Machines.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Curried mint chicken with peppers and rice

THE Fat Kid has been on the phone again.
"What are you buying me for mother's day?" she asked coyly.
"But you're not my mother Fat Kid! Why should I buy you anything?"
"Well, I am A mother. And I need some new trainers for the gym. They cost about £35."
The truth is I don't believe in Mother's Day - it's an invention of card companies who just want to make more money out of us all. But I DO believe in a quiet life. There is a cheque winging its way to her as we speak.
Big Boy is crawling now apparently, and he went swimming for the first time last week. He loves it, so the Fat Kid tells me.
Fat Kid also informed me she wants to take the kids on holiday. I told her it would cost £200 and asked where she was planning to get the money from.
After avoiding the issue she slipped in another question: "Are you taking us on holiday this year?" Having spent so much in Australia, it will have to be a freebie I reckon.

It's been a very busy Saturday at work. Lo and behold, Wales actually won a rugby match. Not only that, but it was against the English, so my colleagues are back to their crowing best. It will all end in tears when the World Cup comes around.

One of my favourite meals came from a TV programme involving Ken Hom. It mixes the wonderful flavours of curry with mint.
For the marinade you need:
2 Chicken breasts cut into chunks
The white of an egg
2 teaspoons of cornflour
(marinate in fridge for 20 minutes)

Ingredients for the sauce:
Chopped red and green pepper
1 chopped garlic and 1 chopped red onion
Dash of soy sauce, dash of chinese rice wine
5 fluid ozs of chicken stock.
2 tablespoons of Madras curry paste.
2 teaspoons chilli bean sauce.
chopped mint leaves.

To do: Heat a wok so it is very hot, add groundnut or vegetable oil and when it starts to smoke quickly sear the marinated chicken until it turns golden, then remove and set aside.
Cook the garlic and red onion in the pan, then add the peppers, soy sauce, rice wine and stock. Cook until the peppers soften, then add the Madras curry paste and chilli bean sauce before returning the chicken to the pan.
Stir regularly and reduce liquid until you have a thick, chinese style curry sauce.
Add the mint and spring onions if desired, and serve on a bed of rice.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Saveloy, battered sausage, chips and curry sauce

YOU can't trust anyone these days. There I was waiting patiently in the canteen for my lunch and chatting politely to the manager when he dropped a bombshell on me.
"So the old chef has left then, has he?" I asked innocently.
"Oh, you mean Dirty," he replied.
"Dirty, why do you call him that?" I inquired, dreading his answer as I did so.
"He was a very dirty man. Dirty kitchen, never washed his hands, even when he had been to the loo. A filthy individual."
Oh my God, I thought. The bloke had been working in the canteen for well over a year - and I had eaten there nearly every day.
"Do you not think you might have told me about this a bit earlier?" I wondered aloud.
"Didn't think, really."
I'm surprised we haven't all dropped down with Salmonella poisoning.

We've got a new security guard, too, who we have nicknamed Son of Len. The old Len was what the more unkind members of our staff would dub a jobsworth. He was shifted off to our printing press in the bay, making way for his clone, Son of Len, to move effortlessly into his place.
Last night we spent a highly amusing few seconds watching Son of Len do his famous impression of The Terminator. As he walked through the front car park a car alarm went off and he span viciously on his heels and used his x ray stare to try and locate the offending vehicle. You could just see the cogs whirring in his little brain as the data registered. "Does not compute, does not compute".
This was followed by another car alarm, from another direction, and once again Son of Len swung into action. If he had been in possession of an Uzi the cars in the vicinity would have been sprayed with bullet holes. This scenario continued a few more times until it seemed Son of Len was going to self-destruct, the chaotic confusion causing his circuit boards to overload. As he wobbled off towards the side lodge we were doubled up on the pavement.
"Hasta La Vista, Son of Len."

A few beers later and it was off to the chip shop for saveloy, battered sausage, chips and curry sauce. Some of my colleagues have commented on the distinct lack of recipes and cooking on a blog entitled What I Cooked Last Night.
Tough t*tty.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Marmite on lovely French bread

THE Wonderful Withers, forever plotting on how to get free drinks out of people, last night came up with a classic. There we were, drinking in the Immoral Inn with Brammy, Keri the worst copytaker in the world and a chorum of Bram's Celtic Harem. Now most of us had our drinks in front of us within easy reach and completely visible to all. Withers, as the contrary one is wont to do, had a different idea. He thought it would be a jolly good idea to place his pint of SA right behind my right elbow on another table. Having drunk more than half his pint he guessed that at some stage his luck would be in and, sure enough, as I swivelled to ask him a question my elbow brushed the remnants of his pint and knocked it over.
The Wonderful One's consternation was beautifully choreographed. "Bloody hell, Rippers, that was a full pint. What are you going to do about it?"
To which I replied: "What twat would leave a pint behind someone's elbow anyway?"
Anyway, just to keep the peace I bought him a new one. I wait with great anticipation for his next free-pint obtaining ploy.

It was lovely to see Keri, the worst copytaker in the world, again. I used to work with her about 17 years ago in the early days of WoS. She always gave us a good laugh, not just because of her sunny disposition, but also because she treated English as a foreign language, as befits a good old Ely girl (that's Ely, Cardiff, the place twinned with war-torn Baghdad - not the one within throwing distance of Cambridge University).
My favourite Keri story is the one where a hack ringing in his story described a footballer as a bit of a prima donna. Keri tapped it out without fuss and when the copy turned up she had intelligently translated it. "Pre-Madonna" It said. So there WAS life before Madonna then.
She greeted me like a long-lost brother and told me: "You haven't changed a bit", the fact that I parted company with my hair a little while ago seeming to escape her attention.
Then, getting straight to the point, she laid in with: "I hear you went on a blind date?"
Now where this mythical rumour came from I have no idea. I passed it on to my spin doctor.

Got home last night feeling extremely tired. Having bought a French "baton" of bread the other day I just had the energy to spread on some marmite, then it was off to bed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

My parents sunday lunch

IN the voice of that famous film trailer man: "Chris Beckett is... THE TICKETMASTER". Seems the artist formerly known as Becks has a new string to his bow, according to sources close to the talented one. The news reaches me from two of my most reliable sources, Rosey and Withers.
It appears Becks is prone to invite his close friends to join him for an evening out, watching rubbish bands and such like.
Those pals, not wishing to hurt the sensitive designer's feelings, generally say, "Yes, I'll think about it" believing that by the time the gig comes around their words will have exited his memory. But Becks is far too clever for that. His plan, hence the new nickname, is to actually go and BUY the tickets, then invite erstwhile friends to part with their hard-earned dosh and spend an evening watching, say, Dartz. "Absolute garbage," as Withers put it, and I don't think he was talking about another band appearing on stage at the Barfly. Having done this twice now, the cohorts are wary. In future they will just be saying "No thanks, mate, no hard feelings."

Talking of bands the highly influential Nathan, a kind of modern Tony Wilson of Hacienda and crap telly show fame, managed to wangle me two tickets for the Kaiser Chiefs at the students' union. Now the last time I was at Cardiff Uni to see a gig was The Jam in 1979, so I was viewing the evening with as much trepidation as anticipation. I decided to ask along Scooby as I needed a fellow "oldest swinger in town" to bolster my confidence.
Turned out it wasn't too bad after all, a nice mix of people, some decent cheap beer at student prices and a cracking performance by the Chiefs, so much so that even I was chanting "Chiefs, Chiefs, Chief" like some American baseball-loving bozo by the time it came to calling for an encore.
A little gaggle of student girls were stood next to me and I decided to impress them with my psychic powers. "You can join in the chorus to this one - you only have to know five words," said whatsisname, the lead singer (got to remember their names they are going to be a huge band over the next couple of years). Turning to the little fresher next to me I whispered: "Na, Na, Na, Na, Na". Wow, was she impressed, looking all starry eyed when the Chiefs blasted into the song. Genius or what? Well, what? really. It was blindingly obvious. Either students these days are even thicker than they used to be, or the girls were just along for the ride and had never heard the Chiefs before.
All in all an eventful night, with Scooby helping a girl to her feet who appeared to collapse from heat exhaustion and, I hate to suggest it, but maybe too much alcohol or even a funny tablet or two. I also managed to squeeze my plastic glass due to an involuntary tic (that's old age for you) spilling three quarters of my pint over the floor and getting stares from all around as if I was a drunk. How very dare they! Crowned it with a nice pint of 5 per cent Heineken in the Tut (now known by its old name of PCs but it will always be the Tut to me) before going to bed.

Woke up bleary eyed for a full day at the office on Saturday, plonked the post outside Scooby's door and left him to sleep it off.
Quite a busy day, Wales lost another match and blamed another referee, this time for not allowing them enough extra time at the end of the game to turn defeat into victory. Our sister paper the Western Mail had already used Clock-Gate, and every other Gate imaginable, so the headline writers were no doubt struggling on Sunday. Can't wait for controversy to strike at the local Market Garden so they can have "Garden-Gate" blazened across the front page.
An eery feeling crept over me when I reached home late that night. The Alarm was off, the door unlocked, the post still outside Scooby's door. Had he failed to recover from our night out? From what I remember he was fairly sober - not that I remember much.
Decided that maybe he had just popped out before me, but when he hadn't returned on Sunday morning I thought I had better send a text. "U ok, Scoob?" was the gist.
Turns out he had received a phone call at home in the early hours of Saturday morning inviting him around to a mate's for an impromptu party. Not ready to call it a night he set off at about 2 in the morning.
Nice to know some of us old 'uns can still hack it.

Sunday I went to visit my folks who are a month away from selling their house and moving into a smaller flat. Enjoyed a beautiful roast lamb dinner so much I had second helpings.
They had finally found a big bloke to get up the loft after my miserable failures, and my Dad was waiting with a box of old Gashead programmes. "You can have these," he said. They date back to 1972.
It's been a very nostalgic weekend.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Christmas dinner in March

ALWAYS ones to bulk with convention, my sports desk enjoyed our Christmas dinner on Wednesday - three months after the festive period. Truth be told, we had a little bit of cash spare from freelances who choose to bribe us in order to get their stories in the paper. Not a conventional, or even legal, policy I agree, but as long as it isn't broadcast publicly (oops, what the hell am I doing)...
Anyway, we enjoyed a very pleasant evening at La Tasca, a Spanish Tapas bar in the Brewery Quarter of Cardiff. Shutts, failing to appreciate that I was poised to do his appraisal, made the first faux pas of the night. "Smoking or non-smoking?" asked the waiter.
"Non-smoking," said the soon-to-be-presented-with-his-p45 youngest member of our sports desk.
The ensuing outcry - if you can describe the hollering of myself and Roberts as an outcry - quickly persuaded the waiter that we would rather sit in a smoking area of the restaurant.
Once seated at a table for five squeezed into the space of a table for two, we were greeted by a pretty law student from the Czech Republic, who was trying to pay her way through university by waiting tables in Cardiff.
Roberts was immediately smitten while Rosey kept his own counsel, no doubt secretly plotting how he might get her phone number without any of us noticing.
Dismissing the a la carte menu, we chose the Tapas for a tenner option - and what a bargain that turned out to be. You each order three dishes off the tapas menu, but can keep re-ordering as often as you want. If we had not physically dragged Shutts, now a perfectly formed 19 stone after his brief romantic interlude in Rome last week, away from the table he would still be ordering now.
By the time we had gone through four rounds of Tapas, two bottles of red wine and a couple of San Miguels (for yours truly), Roberts was slavering and almost speaking Slavic. Shutts, by contrast, was showing more interest in the clientele at another table dressed as Rydell High schoolgirls from Grease.
When it came to the bill it was all left in the hands of Owenov, who had been charged with the scary task of protecting our windfall for the previous three months. Earlier that day he had given us all a bit of a fright, particularly the 6ft 10inch Hungry Hippo across the desk, by declaring: "Oh damn I can't find my credit card. My Mrs must have dropped it when she stole my wallet."
Fortunately it later turned up.
As he handed over said card to the Czech charmer, another problem ensued. The machine kept rejecting it. I wondered if they would have enough marigold gloves for the five of us.
"It's void," Rosey said. "What does that mean?"
Our waitress responded quick as a flash: "Deprive of legal validity; make legally void or invalid; avoid. Annul, cancel."
We all looked at her gobsmacked. Never try to catch a lawyer out when she can quote the exact dictionary description back to you. At that stage Roberts and Rosey both realised she was out of their league...

Back at the Yard the Fabulous Baker Boy and the Wonderful Withers of WoS were waiting for us to return. The Fab BB was in a right state. Having booked the next day off he was going for it in a big way. As he stumbled out of the pub he declared he was off to see "Debbie Dazzler". We doubted whether that was her real name. You've guessed it... Men Dressed as Ladies night had come round again.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Meatfeast pizza with extra chillis

THERE has been an increased interest in my private life recently, befitting a bloke who writes a must-read blog. So much so, in fact, that I seem to have acquired a press secretary.
Now, when I tell you it's Withers then I can imagine some would have a few misgivings. But to be fair, the wonderful one is pulling it off brilliantly. In The Yard on Boozeday the questions began flying thick and fast about how I had spent my weekend, who I was with and suchlike. Yet before I could answer, my new spin doctor stepped in to fight off the press pack with an aplomb usually associated with Alastair Campbell.
"In future I would ask you to address all questions to me," he responded with decorum.
And when they did exactly this he came up with: "Is that all you've got, honorable gentlemen of the press? When you have some facts come back to me."
As another hack waded in he didn't turn a hair, using the straightest of straight bats to make even the great Geoffrey Boycott proud. "You are on a fishing expedition, my friend," he smoothly replied.
Unfortunately, he told some of the pub lobby that he would be quite willing to conduct an "off-the-record briefing" when his client was "in the loo". I've had my legs crossed ever since. Not that I have anything to hide, you understand.

As for things you would rather keep secret, the Prince of Darkness let his guard slip. The Dark one apparently believes that every child should own a knife, cub scout style.
True to his beliefs he therefore bought a small, sharp implement for his 12-year-old son Felix. "Now go out and play," he ordered the youngster before opening the fridge and removing his third stella of the morning.
Sadly this story does not have a happy ending. A few minutes later the young lad was back, blood pouring from a finger wound.
"I just forgot to teach him to whittle away from his body," revealed the PoD.
I hear on the grapevine the Social Services are poised to act.

Last night my spin doctor and I went on to the Rummer Tavern, from where I went home to listen to my new Kaiser Chiefs CD while he stumbled in the other direction. My first port of call was City Pizza on City Road where I looked at the menu, then opted for the Meat Feast pizza before demanding extra chillis. Pretty hot stuff.
After eating the majority of the 12 inch inferno I lay on the bed listening to my CD, fully intending to watch the Liverpool v Barcelona Champions League second leg. I woke at 9.50pm, just as Steve Ryder was wrapping up the programme. Doh!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A marmite sarnie

WORD reaches me that my little friend Bram is trying his hardest to wind up the female population of south Wales. Forget political correctness and women's lib, Bram still believes there is a place in the world for the good old Male Chauvinist Pig.
I have heard from two reliable sources that, while out drinking with some of his Celtic newspaper 'harem', he revealed that he secretly marks them out of 10. I'm not quite sure what criteria he uses but I imagine brains, personality and conversation come well down the list. Of course, the ladies in question immediately demanded to know the marks he had given them. And like the brave soldier he is, Bram refused point blank to tell them.
What I really want to know is: How many marks do they give the roly poly Andy Capp lookalike?

With less than a month before the pub smoking ban hits Wales, I have been spending every minute of my spare time in the hostelries of Cardiff, puffing away like a steam train crawling its way to the top of a very tall mountain.
Bram and my mate Pete are now trying, rather too late it appears to me, to muster a protest. Bram's best idea seems to be a pub blockade where he gets all his mates to turn up at the Old Scroat or some such establishment, light up as one, then walk out when they are asked to leave. Yeh, that'll work.

To be honest, my late night forays around the pubs have curtailed my cooking of late. In fact, the most substantial evening meal I have had for about four days involved a marmite sandwich on some very chunky bread. Normal service will be resumed as soon as my liver tells me it's time to take a break from the booze.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Prince in a right old stew

THE Prince of Darkness is angry - very angry. He can't understand how the WAGs (footballers wives and girlfriends to the uninitiated) can be so thick. He was ranting about this last night to anyone who cared to listen.
"My youngster Felix knows more than these women," he stormed. "How can they be so stupid?"
Apparently what had evoked the Prince's ire was a recent television programme called WAGs boutique where these beautiful but mentally challenged individuals go to great lengths to prove how distanced they are from the real world.
"Who is the leader of the Tory party?" One was asked. "John Prescott," she ventured hopefully. In all, the Prince dictated about six of these questions in an irritable grumble. I could hear him filing his teeth in the background. There would be blood on the carpet before long.
And he wasn't reserving his anger just for the WAGs. Who on earth would want to date them? What were these footballers thinking of?
He put the argument succinctly. "Two months of sh***ing like a monkey, and what do you talk about when that's over?" And as his bitterness reached full flow he asked another rhetorical question, which would not have been out of place as an answer on Marje Proops' problem page. "It's alright when you're in bed, but you can't f*** her up the a*** in a restaurant can you?!"
By this time the Prince of Darkness reminded me of one of the self-righteous brothers out of those old Harry Enfield scripts. "If that Coleen walked in the room, dropped her kecks and offered it on a plate, I'd have to say 'COLEEN... NOOO!'