I'VE come up with a name for my old, new car. The little white Corsa has already provided me with endless hours of, ahem, amusement.
It all started on Sunday morning when I was going to take it for a nice long drive for the first time. The plan was to collect Wren in Bristol and then drive to the parents for lunch. My new vehicle had other ideas.
Thinking I had turned the alarm off I tried to enter, only for a piercing scream to attack my ears. I pressed the key fob a number of times and finally it pip, pipped and stopped, just before I received a severe beating from annoyed neighbours being woken from their Sunday morning slumbers.
Good to go, I climbed into the car, connected the stereo system Charlie, my friendly neighbourhood mechanic, had fitted for me, and turned the key. Splutter, gurgle, stop. And nothing but nothing was going to make it start. The battery was dead.
Brilliant. There followed a round of phonecalls to parents, Wren and the AA. Was I going to dinner or not? Didn't look like it at that point.
Fortunately the repair vehicle turned up a mere 10 minutes later. Fortunately I lived around the corner from him, he was just starting off on his shift and decided it was an easy first call to make.
He fitted wires to the battery, charged the car up then tested it. "You're going to need a new one pretty soon, but it should get you to Bristol," he told me. Happy days. Back on the phone to parents and Wren to alert them the plans were back on.
The journey was pretty uneventful, but at least my new car showed a bit of poke on the motorway. The only slight worry was that when I turned the engine off, my CD continued to play on regardless. Hmmm.
Next day I was woken at 7am. The car alarm was going again. Doh. I reached out of the window, pressed the key fob and thankfully it stopped. It did seem a bit flakey to me, though.
I took my purchase for a drive though and he seemed fine. I stopped off for a swim then went to the doctor's for an appointment to test my collesterol. Just as I was leaving the car I noticed that the passenger side door lock was up. I could have sworn I closed it the day before.
Walking around the car I found out the reason. Some little git had decided to shoehorn open my door at the top, in exactly the same way they did to Boo last year, forcing me to drive around without being able to open my windows. I've had the car for less than a week. So it's off back to Charlie's for more repairs. I haven't seen my new vehicle since.
Oh yes, the name?
Basil, of course. Because it has been nothing but Faulty since I bought it (boom, boom!). Also I can imagine whipping it with a branch a la that comedy creation of John Cleese pretty damn soon.
The Prince of Darkness is Lord of the Ales. No doubt about it. I think I enjoy the taste of more than the odd lager but the Prince is on a different plane.
A story comes to my attention that on a Sunday morning he likes nothing better than to lie in bed, watching the Andrew Marr political programme on the BBC.
Apparently his young son, eager to please the Master, pops his head around the door and asks if he can get him something. A cup of tea in bed, perhaps, or maybe a croissant?
Not a bit of it. "There's a can of Stella in the fridge, son, that will start the day off well," orders the Dark Lord. Salute him, you must.
I bought some Chilean Mussels from Sainsbury's the other day. They were cooked and you can store them in the freezer which is handy. So I got them out the other day and wondered what I might do with them.
I found a recipe in the Observer mag, but I didn't have all the ingredients (particularly shell-on uncooked mussels) so decided to adlib.
Pack of cooked mussels
three red chillis, chopped
two cloves garlic, chopped
Pepper and salt
A large dollop of Oyster sauce
A small number of parsley and basil leaves, ripped up.
A couple of cubes of stock which I had stored in the refrigerator, made from roasted carrots, roasted celery, shallots and some flour (see below)
What I did:
Heat the oil in a wok, then add chillis and garlic and stir and cook for about a minute
Add the mussels and stir around
Add pepper and a bit of salt
Then add a dollop of Oyster sauce and some stock and bring to the boil, cooking and stirring.
Stir in the leaves (you can use coriander) then serve.
This takes a bit of time, but is pretty nice.
You roast up some carrots, celery and sliced shallots in the oven on gas mark 4 or equivalent for about 2o mins, sprinkling oil over the top.
Then put some oil in a large saucepan, put in the roasted veg and add the flour. Stir and mix in, then add a pint or more of vegetable or chicken stock or even water. Add also some peppercorns. Bring to boil and then simmer and reduce for three or four hours. This should be thick and coating back of the spoon at some stage. Drain out all the veg then fill up ice cube trays in the freezer to use on occasions like these.