Friday, December 28, 2007

gammon to last a lifetime

Danny Boy (the poipes, the poipes) has won the prize for the most unique Christmas present. Now I don't know what the young man has done to upset his in-laws (apart from rolling in pie-eyed most of the time) but they certainly know how to make a person feel loved.
There he was, delving into the parcels under the tree that were marked with his name, when he came across one that left little to the imagination. The shape of it suggested one thing, and one thing only. But The Poipes thought: "It just can't be."
But, stripping off the wrapping, his worst fears were confirmed. It was a coat hanger. A top-of-the-range coathanger, sure, and as he put it, "It will hold trousers as well as a shirt", but it's pretty difficult to paint it in any better light.
They did actually buy him another present to make up for it - three cans of deodorant. It went with the other four cans that he had received from various people. Are people trying to tell him something, I wonder?

The first Thirsty Thursday after Christmas became a pretty revealing adventure in which we finally learned some of the dark secrets that Roberts has been hiding in his dim and murky past. The secretive one has always managed to keep things under his hat before now, but there was a chance meeting with a former mate of his, over from Japan on a week's holiday.
Shockingly I can reveal:
* He was the bass player in a band called The Trees.
* He used to drink with a bunch of desperados in the Square Club, a now defunct Cardiff boozer for ne'er-do-wells.
* He and Tucker, the Western Mail soccer writer who also doubles up as a stand-up comedian, used to be big boozing buddies.
Ok, it doesn't reveal a great deal - but it's a darn sight more than we ever get out of Wales' No 1 rugby writer normally.

Back to Christmas dinner. Shopping the day before in Waitrose I ventured, "Do we need half a gammon or a full joint."
There was no doubt in the Fat Kid's mind. "We need the big one."
Now, bearing in mind there were just the two of us, plus two tiny tots, it did seem rather excessive, particularly as we were having beef as well, but I went with the flow.
When I got the joint back home I decided to boil it in a pan with fennel, black peppercorns, two onion halves and two carrots. Trouble was it wouldn't fit in the Fat Kid's biggest pot, so I had to cut it in two and do it in two batches.
The secret is to put the gammon in first and cover it with water, then bring it to the boil. Once boiled you then empty the water and fill up the pot again. At this stage you add the veg and the peppercorns, bring back to the boil, skim off the surface and then simmer for the best part of an hour. Rest it then for 20 minutes, and wrap in foil. When it has cooled down put in the fridge to heat in the microwave before eating.
I also chopped potatoes and parsnips, peeled the sprouts, and cut the swede into cubes.
Next day I put the oven on 180 degrees, boiled up big potato chunks and simmered for five minutes before putting in a roasting tin and adding goose fat. With the beef I added liberal sprinklings of rock salt, basil leaves, slices of red and green pepper and three garlic cloves, wrapping all this in silver foil and putting in the oven.
On another baking tray I smothered the parsnips with honey, chopped up two shallots thinly, peeled a couple of carrots, smeared goose fat all over, and put on the bottom shelf of the oven 20 minutes after the beef and potatoes started cooking.
Next I boiled up the swede for a good while until it softened, then mashed it and added a knob of butter.
Meantime I made pigs in their blankets by wrapping streaky bacon around cocktail sausages, and also made up a packet of cranberry and chestnut stuffing, wrapping some of this in more bacon, before using the rest to make small round stuffing balls.
When the beef had been cooking for just over an hour and the potatoes had browned nicely I removed them and the parsnips and carrots from the oven. I put the bacon rolls on a thin baking sheet, put some ready made Aunt Bessie's Yorkshire puddings on another, wacked the heat up to about 225 in the electric oven and put them in.
At this stage I boiled sprouts on the hob and filled another pan with smaller chunks of potato for mash.
After 15 to 20 minutes I removed the Yorkshire puddings which had risen and browned, then returned the beef to the oven.
When the potatoes on the stove had done I mashed them with butter and milk.
When the bacon and beef appeared done I started to load the plates up. Slices of beef, slices of gammon, yorkshire pudding, bacon rolls, stuffing, sprouts, mashed potato, roast potato, parsnips and swede.
I put the carrots and shallots into another pan, added 3/4 pint of cold water, mixed up four heaped teaspoons of Bisto gravy with a small amount of water, added that and brought the gravy to the boil, stirring frequently. When it boiled and thickened I started to heat the food plates in the microwave, finishing off with the gravy. The Fat Kid opted for apple sauce with hers, I went for horse radish. We spent the night blobbed out on the sofa watching Eastenders.

Boxing Day and I suddenly realised the full pain of being a Gashead. I watched my football team draw 1-1 at home to Luton who, by the end of the match, had only eight players left on the field having had three sent off. Oh, the humiliation.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dinner's in the dog

WHILE most of us were enjoying a luxurious, belly bursting dinner on Christmas Day there was a bit of a surprise in store for the Little Bowling Ball.
Brammy travelled up to enjoy the festivities with his brother's family in the wilds of Powys. The round one who, incidentally, does appear to have started to lose weight (damn his eyes, I don't really fancy thinking up a new nickname for him when I love the current one so much) is nothing if not a creature of habit. And every year he waddles down to the local pub with brother and sister-in-law at his side. On this occasion his nephew from Australia was in attendance, too, I understand.
As the christmas dinner roasts away quite nicely, they proceed to sink a fair few pints of old scroat to "build up the appetite".
Then they struggle back up the hill, rolling Bram along as they go, to settle down and gorge themselves silly.
Imagine their surprise and shock, then, that on entering the house it appears to have been turned over by some cowardly, opportunistic burglar who has, quite literally, ransacked the place.
But first impressions can be deceptive. And it was when they discovered the family dog chewing off the legs of the nephew's golf bag that they began to piece together the true nature of what had taken place.
Apparently the dog (best description from Bram "dunno what make it is but it comes up to about my knees - miniature poodle, perhaps?) has turned from meek, mild household pet to mad dog in the blink of an eye. As well as decapitating the golf bag it has also managed to knock the flower pots from the window sill. And the full horror is yet to come...
Walking into the kitchen, the gathering are horrified to find just a collection of bones where the Christmas turkey had been sitting on the table ready to be reheated. The woofer had scoffed the lot.
Fortunately there was still beef in the oven and the family had to make do with that.
I have a few little suspicions about the validity of the story, though. A. This was a mild mannered dog and b. If you see the amount of food the Bowling Ball consumes on a Saturday you soon realise the guy has a phenomenal appetitie for a person of his dap.
Could it possibly be that, using the excuse of a visit to the loo, he escaped out the back door, sneaked into the house, gorged himself on turkey, placed bones in strategic places near the dog, wound the dog up then escaped back to the sanctity of the pub?
I guess we shall never know.

As for myself, Christmas Day was a delight ... for about 10 minutes. That was before I had to assemble the first of many Taiwanese made kids' toys for the Vin Man and Big Boy. As soon as they opened a parcel to reveal another "do-it-yourself" item, I instantly felt the Christmas spirit drain out of me.
Not only does each particular "toy" require a skilled engineer, carpenter or such to put it together, but they must also have an A level in understanding intricate tech drawings with bits all over the place. And, of course, there is always a screw missing. And I don't just mean in my case.
The worst moment came when we had to put together a "Baby Quad Bike" for the Big Boy. Bloody hell, never had such things in my day I can tell you. You were content with action man, a subbuteo set or, in one extreme circumstance, a brilliant game called pro-shot golf, where a stick the size of a golf club held a little action figure on the end and by pulling a lever up and down you could make him play shots. You could even change the clubs in his hand, too. Provided me with at least 10 minutes of excitement, I can tell you.
Anyway, back to Baby Quad. Having fitted the wheels, and screwed and screwed and screwed until it all seemed relatively right, we found we had one cable still open to the elements. By this time I was really losing it. "Perhaps that is just how it is meant to be," said the Fat Kid.
"Don't be so b***dy stupid. It's got to go somewhere, hasn't it? These bloody kids things, whoever made them are a bunch of tw**s." You get the picture.
Anyway, having finally managed to put it together, with the kids driving me crazy asking for drinks of water, crisps and chocolate while we are doing it, we then realise the battery must charge. The Big Boy is dying to climb on board, but he can't. It only takes a mere 10 hours to charge, I then discover. B*££*+!s
My Christmas dinner, however, was somewhat of a triumph. I'll give the full recipe later cos at the moment I am dying for a pint and Roberts is hanging around making me nervous.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

rabbit and gammon suet pudding

GREAT news! I now have the keys to the executive washroom, just like Jack Lemmon in that brilliant comedy the Apartment. What I will have to pay for this privilege I am still waiting to learn.
On Tuesday the long wait came to an end with a phone call from the Boss who, after alerting me to the fact we all had free invites to the opening of a new Vodka bar in Cardiff, slipped into the conversation that my application to become an Executive Editor in the new-fangled Meeja Wales operation had been successful. Wooppee!
Immediately I was informed by Roberts that my membership of Boozeday Tuesday would be torn up and I was no longer welcome at Wednesday Club. "You'll be hobnobbing with the gentry from now on," he inferred sniffily.
But like those entirely honest lottery winners who appear on the news every week I can declare here and now that my new lofty status "won't change me a bit" (Just put a bit more black dubbin on those shoes, so that I can see my face in it, please, Shutts).

Tuesday night in the Yard with Wren, the Prince, Roberts, Withers, Danny Boy (the poipes, the poipes), Smashy and Nicey and the news is filtering through about who got which jobs. Nicey informed me that my recollections of Friday night's Echo party ommitted the fact that I had rolled my trouser legs up to my knees and performed a perfectly reasonable impression of Angus Young out of ACDC in Highway to Hell. Apparently there are pictures. No doubt they will turn up in the tabloids thanks to some kiss n tell merchant jealous of my new elevation to Godlike status. For the moment I am denying all knowledge while desperately trying to obtain the incriminating material.
Tuesday was a good night as the election results filtered through. Nicey is Head of Content, Martin Wells head of production and the Greek, as expected, will lead the way in sport with Blanchy as his deputy and Smashy as one of his assistants. Congrats all.
Long after I was tucked up in my bed I understand the Poipes came up with the worst chat up line of all time (bearing in mind, of course, that he had no intention of it being successful, or so he assures me). When introduced in the Buffalo Bar to a girl from Blackwood in Gwent, his alcohol confused brain somehow persuaded him to ask: "Do they have sandwiches there?" Strange is not the word.

Thursday night was about the third official goodbye to the Fab BB. I get the feeling the Wonderful Withers of WoS is already trying to give me the slip on the basis that he cannot be seen to be consorting with management. When I arrived at the Yard the place was packed but of the WoS crew there was no sign. In dire need of a drink I texted Withers. "Where are you guys?" I asked.
The answer came back. "Champneys."
I'd never heard of it but remembered someone had once mentioned a secluded bar at the top of St Mary's Street.
Having walked the entire length and found nothing vaguely resembling Champneys, I questioned the Wonderful One again.
"It's just before you get to Mill Lane on the left hand side," he told me.
Ah, Champers, he means. As opposed to Champneys, which I understand is some luxury retreat where people go to lie around in mudbaths and generally spoil themselves. Tw*t.
There is a good turn out and though the San Miguel comes in at £3.60 a pint at least there are quite a few spare seats. Eventually we all drift on to the new Vodka Bar, called Revolution and situated near Dempseys opposite Cardiff Castle.

What a brilliant night. I've now discovered the best bloody mary in Cardiff, made with pepper vodka, tomato juice, tabasco and Worcester Sauce. "Where's the celery? They give you celery in New Orleans?" I explained to the extremely patient barmaid.
"Just coming sir," she said and next minute there it was, a stick of leafy brilliance poking out from a magnificent cocktail. Curry in a glass. I had a couple more, too.
The place was rammed and there were a few famous faces around. Roberts introduced me to former Wales international rugby player Neil Jenkins. The last time we'd met I presented him with an award. It was many moons ago, back in the days when I had hair. No wonder he smiled faintly and pretended he knew who I was when he obviously hadn't a clue.
Meanwhile, Mad Liz turned up to brighten up the night. First she danced insanely to every sound that came on... then she took a liking to the stags heads adorning the wall. At one stage she was politely told to return one as she smooched lovingly with it around the room.
This led to the invention of a new dance. I don't suppose it has quite the Street Cred of Souljah Boy, but the running stag soon caught on with our lot. It involved putting a curled finger either side of your head and charging towards each other making strange mooing noises. I didn't know stags moo'd but you learn something moo every day. Boom, boom.
At the end it all got a bit emotional. Baker Boy and Catherine Mary, who have had a few disagreements in the past, made friends again while I paid tribute to the Fab One and all he has done for the great ship WoS. I'm sure he will be a great asset to the Peeps. We will miss him greatly.
By this stage I had stripped off my fave shirt, although to be fair I did have on a T shirt underneath. Sadly when I climbed into a taxi just after one in the morning, the shirt was still nestled comfily on a couch in Revolution. At least I went home with my baseball cap and have an excuse to return to the bar again some time.

Friday morning bought the hangover from hell, but I had plenty of things to do. Bas is now fixed, thank God, and I had some last minute shopping to do before setting off for the South East on Saturday.
Opting for an early night my sleep was pretty intermittent, not helped by a congratulatory text from Ballsy at four in the morning! Of course, you can't tell how much people have had to drink when they send a text but the clue was in the timing. I guess if she was saying it, the words would be something like: "M'out wiv Lau..uh Evns and sheesh told me yer've got the job. Sh'brillliant mate." Thanks for the kind words... no matter the time they arrived, Ballsy.

The drive up to Lavernham (a good 250-mile trip) went as well as could be expected though I was still feeling a bit dozy.
I arrived at Wren's mum's at around 3.30pm and after a bit of a chin wag and a lovely cup of t we then spent a romantic evening at the Black Lion in Long Melford, a lovely little hotel which also boasts the best restaurant in Suffolk (not my words but those of the East Anglian Daily Times).
There were a few teething probs, like the heating in our room didn't work, but the dinner was excellent. Wren enjoyed a terrine of Partridge and Hare in an apple cider jelly followed by a whole Sea Bass, while I experimented with Cod and Leek fishcakes followed up by a Suet Pudding containing rabbit and Gammon. These were all served with seasonal vegetables and were lush.
The following morning there was another hiccup. No hot water. But the very friendly staff explained there was a plumbing problem that they were having to sort out and that we could use another room if we needed to shower. Their customer service could certainly teach Cheltenham's stuck-up Hotel Du Vin a thing or to.
There was a lovely cooked breakfast, with Long Melford sausages to die for, and on top of it all a £20 discount for any trouble we had encountered. A lovely Christmas treat.
After writing this blog it's off to Southend, where the Vin Man is currently enjoying his fifth birthday party and the Big Boy has probably eaten all his cake. Merry Xmas to all my readers...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A bowl of mixed nuts

IT was one of those mornings. I woke and peered through bleary, screwed-up eyes at the clock on my bedside table - it had just clicked around to 8.59am. Oh, bugger. I had a minute to get showered, drive into work and then prepare for conference. I decided I wasn't going to make it.
I made pretty quick progress though and was out of the house in 10 minutes. Got into Bas, turned the key... and nothing happened. I had a flat battery on what must rank as the coldest day of the year.
In the end I ran for the bus, and finally got to work 40 minutes late. A pretty poor start to another nightmare Saturday. And all because of the Echo party...

On Friday night we left work determined to have a drink. But it was immediately obvious to Withers, Marc, Danny Boy (the Poipes, the poipes) and myself that this wasn't going to be easy. They were already queueing to get in The Yard and it wasn't even 6pm. Seems like Black Friday had been brought forward by a week.
Eventually we settled on the City Arms, knowing full well that it was rarely packed there any more. We even, wonder of wonders, found a table. And soon the Prince of Darkness, having inquired about our drinking habits via text, arrived to join the melee. The last pay day of the year and we were determined to have a good night.
The City Arms was ok, but the company wasn't up to much. There were three pie-eyed Cardiff City fans determined to sing loud songs while being genuinely disruptive and, horror of horrors, SMOKING in the pub.
So we opted to move on to the New Model Inn next door.
Danny Boy purloined a buxom young BBC wench who was determined to chat up the Fab BB and, when unsuccessful with that venture, moved on to the Prince. The Poipes, meanwhile, was content to admire her buxomness. She was a bit mad, though.
Then off we went upstairs to the Echo do where there was a good turnout. It didn't take long for us all to hit the dance floor - what with it being the Fab BB's unofficial leaving party.
A few more beers, a bit more Christmas cheer and I had managed to persuade the DJ to play Oops upside your head. Gathering a few like-minded idiots we scrambled on to the dirty floor to perform rowing motions to the Gap Band tune.
For some stupid reason I also decided to engage in a 'mock' fight with Nicey. Well, that was what I was supposed to be doing. Somehow at one stage my knee managed to make contact with his nose - a foolhardy action which no manner of apology could forgive. Poor bloke's eyes were streaming. Hope nothing's broken.
Swingler, meanwhile, the Echo photographer who seems to make a habit of being outrageous at the Echo Christmas do, had by now begun a food fight. Only thing was, no one else was playing.
As usual the wonderful one lost something. This time it was his suit jacket AND his phone. And as usual I found them by looking about three inches from where he was standing, crying out with apoplexy at the way the miserable world always picked on him. Numpty, as Woody might say.
Eventually decided to call it a day and wander home early so that I could get in at a reasonable time for the busy day ahead. Imagine my astonishment when I discovered on arrival that it was, in fact, 1.45 and I was totally bladdered. The only thing for it before bed was a little snack of mixed nuts. Thank God I am off work next week.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I WAS all of a quiver this morning. There it lay, on my desk. A letter postmarked Buckingham Palace. At last! The OBE was here, the knighthood in the bag, fantastic. Either that or the Queen was cordially inviting herself to the final meeting of Boozeday Tuesday.
"One has a bit of a buzz on," she might have written. "Wowy, wowy." That's if she has a copy of the Prince of Darkness' guide to drinking.
As it was, this was nothing to do with our Prince. It was in fact the Prince of Wales inviting me to an exhibition of the Royal Collection Trust, which is taking place in the drawings gallery at Windsor Castle to celebrate his 60th birthday. Not really up my street, I must confess.

Meanwhile, it appears The Voice of God has decided to revisit the book of Genesis. The Voice is now the proud owner of a snake, would you Adam 'n' Eve it? So what does he call his snake? Sammy Slither? Ka, like the one from the Jungle Book film? Maybe Slippery or Scaley?
When you ask him he has a special patter in which to reveal the Information. In his deep, booming voice he says: "I call it Ursula Blake, my f***ing snake".
Weird is not the word for it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

WoS Xmas party (lamb shanks and many thanks)

WHEN the boss finally decides to move on I can see him fitting into the role of motivational speaker. His performances at our Xmas parties are, quite frankly, legendary. And this time was no exception.
With the impending arrival of One Team Meeja Wales I guess this goes down as the last of the Wales on Sunday parties, even though we are talking of having revival evenings every year.
The WoS xmas party, for anyone who has worked with us or been unfortunate enough to encounter us, tend to turn into mad contests to test every ounce of stamina. I remember the first one was at a rather sleazy Cardiff hotel which doubled up as a venue for prostitutes to peddle their wares and started off on a Tuesday evening at about 7.
After that they began earlier and earlier including one famous year when we had barely touched base in the office before we were off to the Queen's Dungeon for a quick snifter. This was the famous time when one of our number, a certain Smiffy, tried to molest a waiter at a local restaurant and got us banned for life.
On another occasion ex-Echo editor Richard Williams, joining us from the Liverpool Post and as yet to take up his role with the newspaper, was greeted by a gang of scousers wearing black curly wigs and false moustaches and shouting "eh, eh, eh!" at the top of their voices. The Greek, at that time deputy sports editor to myself, got very upset when we told him he could not have one of said wigs. "Why not?" he demanded.
"You don't need one. With that curly perm you already look like a dodgy scouser," we told him.

So on to the Boss.
One year he decided to have a quick word in the ear of our chief reporter. The conversation ended with the chap handing in his resignation there and then.
The Boss always uses the Xmas party to make a lasting impression on his journalists - to outline his in-depth plan to take WoS onwards and upwards. Bouncing to his feet on one occasion, he announced in his delicate Glaswegian drawl (pretty well perfected for an honest-to-goodness Irishman): "A' wan' Shcoops, shcoops, shcoops!"
As tends to be the practice on these occasions everyone looked at each other, mouthing: "What on earth is he saying? Is he asking for the restaurant to bring out the ice cream."
But in his persuasive way the Boss found a way to explain what he was getting at. "Shhhhhhhhcoooops!" he shouted so loud the window pains rattled.

Later he dragged aside our newest recruit Rosey - who had only joined the paper on that day and must have been wondering what on earth was going on. He had yet to even see the inside of our office.
"Hey, you, Jimmy," shouted the boss, probably getting Rosey mixed up with someone else.
He then stood an inch from the face of his quarry and engaged him with a steely eye.
"Ah, wasna' shure whether to take ye on, but Rippers wanted ye so here ye are. Yah better not let us doon, A'm expecting great things from yoos."
Quite a daunting challenge for a guy who had been on the payroll for just five hours.

This year the boss had prepared to give a rousing final send off to the good ship WoS. "S'pleasure to work with ye, your the best crood WoS ever had I reckon (It's something he says every year which just signifies the rapid improved of the product). It's been fantastic."
On this occasion I sneaked away feeling rather emotional about the whole proceedings. But I understand the Boss went around, geeing up the troops until the early hours of the morning.
To the Fab BB, who is leaving us for the Peeps, he declared: "Ah wan yer to goo oot wi' a bang - I'm expecting two Shcoops from yer in yer last two weeks."
Not too much of an ask for a guy of the Fab BB's talent, but he has certainly produced plenty of those since he's been with us and will be greatly missed.
To Danny Boy "the poipes, the poipes": "Who do ye like and who do ye think is a c**t?"
And to Wathanovski, who has only been with us a few weeks since becoming a soccer writer on WoS: "Ah'm shure ye'll be fine in the new regime as long as ye keep producing the stories. Now let me tell you all about Celtic..."
As I say, I wasn't there so there's no way of verifying this, but apparently the conversation continued for the next half hour. Nothing to read here though about Gordon Strachan's mighty green and white army... probably because Wathanovski couldn't understand another word.

Lovely to see Kempy at the do - our first contact since she went off to have baby Paddy - and likewise Captain Mainwaring, who gave birth to George.
The food at Mimosa's in Cardiff Bay was absolutely spectacular, it must be said, the Lamb Shanks, Duck Salad and Oatcake and Cream left me feeling bloated but satisfied. When it came to going on, though, I left it to the younger set who apparently finished up at Buffalo until 3.15 in the morning.
Poor old Robot, though. He turned to the Boss and the Prince of Darkness and slurred: "See yoush inthe morning."
"Nah, ye won't son, A've booked the day off!" revealed the Boss.
The Prince meanwhile is on a week's holiday (no truth in the rumour he is spending it at the Priory)
Warriors as we are on WoS the guys who did show up, despite the green-faced appearances, put in a full day's work.
Outstanding. The Boss will be so proud, as no doubt he'll tell us in the pub sometime...

Friday, December 07, 2007

corned beef sandwich

ANOTHER day, another Crimbo party, but I was still feeling pretty green by the time the Wales News shindig began at 6.30pm. A couple of beers and a few hellos and then it was off home on the bus - at least it would have been if the bus had turned up. Instead I had to wait in the freezing cold for 30 minutes until three No 8s came along at once. Of course, sod's law that I would get on the one that stopped at every point on the journey to pick up hordes of late night christmas shoppers.
Throughout the day more stories emerged of the high jinx at the Equinox do, including the time I earnestly tried to persuade a PR person to hand over an exclusive story while wearing a tie around my head. Apparently I wasn't the only one knocked for six by the cocktails. Friend of Withers managed to fall across a table sending drinks flying everywhere.
At least the PR girl who spoke to me at the bar is now fully aware of Wales on Sunday.
Having joined the company barely two months before, she introduced herself and asked where I was from.
When the reply came she nodded sagely. "I was in the office collating all the responses to our invite and they nearly all came from your newspaper. I asked one of the other girls why that would be. She simply replied 'oh yes, Wales on Sunday. They like a drink'.
Hope this doesn't get around. Meeja Wales newspapers have been doing stories for the last six months about the booze culture affecting Wales, in particularly in relation to their underperforming rugby team.
Fair play to WRU media manager John Williams then. He arrived at a leaving do for Rimmer, my erstwhile colleague at Westgate Sports Agency who has just taken the job of press officer for the new Wales coach Warren Gatland. As our colleague on the Snail, Simon Thomas, arrived and hot-footed his way to the bar gagging for a pint, John said caustically: "So this is the drinking culture you've been writing about, is it?"

Sorry for the lack of recipes lately, but I just haven't found the time to cook. Last night involved a corned beef sandwich with tomato, pepper and brown sauce. It hit the spot a bit better than the breakfast curry I must say.
PS Any information on the Prince of Darkness' late-night activities on Thursday night would be gratefully received. All in the strictest confidence, of course.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cold breakfast curry

"THE HORROR, the horror". I had an Apocalypse Now moment this morning when the Fab BB thrust his phone in my face and showed me a disturbing picture of a bloke looking remarkably like the bald-headed, topless, totally insane Marlon Brando from the aforementioned film. I was even more disgusted when I realised that said image was of me having apparently removed my shirt during the karaoke Christmas Party held by the PR firm Equinox. Free booze, free food, free entertainment - where could you go wrong?
By ordering giant jugs of some strange cocktail that bore a passing resemblance to Margueritas, that's where. Roberts (for I unreservedly blame him) decided it would be a good idea to order two of these jugs when, quite frankly, I was happy to continue merrily sipping away on the lager.
As I recall he sidled up to the bar, accosted the barman, and announced: "A jug of Mojitas, my good man." It was the start of the slippery slope as Myself, Roberts, Smashy, the Prince of Darkness, the Fab BB, Withers and Friend of Withers tucked in with relish (well, I'm not saying we added relish to the drink, but at this time anything seemed acceptable)
It was a short step from there to joining Mad Liz at the mic as she performed a highly original version of the Proclaimers "I'm gonna be (500 miles)" without apparently ever having heard the song before. She managed to make up the words, but did manage to sing them in a passable Glaswegian accent having spent the previous two weeks on holiday in Scotland.
Then settled back to watch the other brave efforts to entertain us, until finally getting a bit bored by the time Aled, a reporter from the Snail, stepped up to the plate. It just happened that at that moment there were plenty of empty cocktail glasses around containing redundant straws and pieces of lime.
For some strange reason, by this time sans shirt, I decided it was time to deliver my verdict on the unfortunate hack by means of throwing fruit and straws in his general direction.
Cannot remember much else, to be honest, but waking at 6am this morning, feeling like crap, I realised I was still half clothed and then recalled at some point buying a chicken curry off the bone at Dirty Dots in Cardiff's Chip Alley. Not recalling having eaten curry I made a quick trip to the kitchen where I discovered it, still neatly wrapped, on the draining board.
Well, waste not, want not...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

waggon wheels (rollin' rollin' rollin')

REMEMBER that famous film of the veteran US soldier in the wheelchair entitled "Born On the Fourth of July". Well I reckon the Prince of Darkness will star in the sequel "Born Yesterday".
Tuesday's Boozeday events were interrupted by a scruffy looking individual in a wheelchair who, however hard I tried to imagine it, bore absolutely no resemblance to Tom Cruise. Having been helped out of Sh*tty O'Grim's by a very kindly Smashy so that he could have a cigarette, the man in the chair, having drunk a steady stream of pints of Stella throughout the afternoon, decided to follow our motley crew to The Yard.
While the Wonderful One, Roberts and I were standing outside puffing on a tab, he rolled up to within a few feet of the pub back door and demanded: "Help me boys I am in desperate need of the toilet."
Withers was his usual christian self. Keeping his eyes firmly fixed in the other direction, he insisted: "I'm not helping him, that's Smashy's job. Anyway you might have to get his thingy out!"
Smashy, however, was firmly ensconsed in his pint inside and had not seen the dilemma facing us at a time of Goodwill to All Men.
At that moment the Prince of Darkness decided to join us for a cigarette. And, lo and behold, it was the macabre one who came to the rescue. Roberts, belatedly, sprang into action and they wheeled the poor chap, now fast asleep in his chair, down a ramp, into The Yard, and helped him into the toilet.
I can't record what happened within those confines because a. I wasn't going anywhere near the scene and b. Because the Prince and Roberts remained completely tightlipped when rejoining us at our table.
All Roberts would offer was "he's hardly an invalid, he's only busted his foot and he's got a plaster on that". He then insisted that our "war hero" would have no trouble leaving the confines of the men's room.
Ten minutes later and he was revising that assumption. "Come on Prince of Darkness, we'd better go and find him."
Moments later the Prince and Roberts emerged, pushing our poor vet out into the street once more.
Only Roberts returned. The Prince, he told us, had gone to help the poor blighter cross the road to O'Neill's.
Ten minutes passed... 15... 20. Of the Prince, there was no sign. Had he decided to push the geezer all the way back to his home in Culverhouse Cross, the invalid ordering "just a bit further mate," like that guy who carried a woman's pushchair to the top of a mountain in a famous episode of The League of Gentlemen?
Withers went out as a one-man search party to find him. He returned a few minutes later. No sign. He picked up his phone and tried to ring the Prince. There was a ringing noise on the table. The Prince had left his phone behind.
Finally, the Prince arrived, looking flushed and out of breath. "It's just not right," he said, shaking his scraggy main and turning puce from the cold and effort. "I pushed him into O'Neill's but they couldn't find the key to the disabled toilets. The bloke was very apologetic but it's a disgrace really.
"I then had to push him on to the Queen's Vaults. Thankfully someone knew where he lived and offered to make sure he got home. I had visions of walking the entire length of St Mary's Street looking for a toilet."
His mood wasn't helped when one of the Yard Birds (our politically correct nickname for the female members of the Yard staff) told him: "Oh yeah, he was hear the other day. Sick all down his front, p*ss*d himself. It's a regular occurence."
The invalid, I think she meant, NOT the Prince of Darkness.
I get the feeling the Prince might be hiding in the shadows next time the drinkers' version of Ironside comes asking questions...

Saturday night and we had an early finish. We were printing WoS in Birmingham so that they could shut the Cardiff press down and do urgent repairs. So we all decided to go out on the town to celebrate the birthday of Withers' flatmate Grace.
We decided to call this outing Super Saturday. It was like lifers being on day release from a maximum security prison, and we drank accordingly.
Smashy, the Prince, Baker Boy, Withers and myself were joined by Wren, Posh and Becks. Eventually we adjourned upstairs for their excellent Indie night Twisted by Design. And the booze kept flowing.
At one stage I bumped into one of my Beeb fan club Steffan, and to show our new cameraderie we took over a piano in a backroom - even though I have never played the thing before in my life. As a result we produced a quite effortlessly tuneless duet. Girlfriend Wren, frightened we would be chucked out or, worse, accosted by giant bouncers, stuck by her man. Or rather, she scarpered pretty quickish. Eventually an old bloke turned up and said: "Please leave it alone boys we have only just had it tuned."
At the end of the night, after voddies and all manner of other alcoholic mixtures, there was suddenly a great catastrophe. It began with Withers: "I can't find my coat!" he shouted.
I wandered over before he lost the plot, pointed to a coat three yards away and inquired: "Is that it?"
He looked at me quizzically. "Only when I have put my hands in the coat pockets and found something that I own can you call me a tw*t," he ordered.
Two seconds later I called him a tw*t.
Meanwhile, there was more upheavals elsewhere.
"I can't find my jacket," said Wren.
"Nor can I," declared the Prince.
"Nor me," said Smashy, making his way out of the building and down the stairs.
Within seconds I had found all three jackets. Just call me Coatfinder General.