Archive for November, 2009

Occasionally, I come upon the darling hunched over the tiny computer, utterly riveted by the flickering images on its screen. When he registers my presence he starts, blushes, and with a hasty alt + tab, restores The Financial Times and his composure. Of course, I know that having discussions – or worse still, rows – about this sort of thing is no way to maintain peace in the home. He is harming nobody; it’s only sensible for me to turn a blind eye. But I know what he’s up to. There’s no mistaking that avid gleam in his eye, no disguising the renewed passion with which he embraces me.

Oh yes, I know when he’s been looking at one of those websites. And last week, the moment came – as I suspect it inevitably does in these situations – when he asked me, shamefaced, to share in his filth.

“You’ve got to see this,” he said. “I know you’ll love it. Honestly, go on, just try it, for me. Just once. If you don’t like it we never have to do it again.”

And such is the force of his personality, that before I knew it I had agreed.



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Ah, Bucci, Bucci, what has become of you? This local Italian restaurant has been a favourite since the boyfriend moved to SW16 in 2006. It ticked all the boxes for a midweek supper place: open nice and late so we could meet there after going to the gym; the wine list was sensibly priced; the service quick and friendly. When they presented us with a complimentary pannettone one Christmas, we thought they has secured our loyalty forever. But it was not to be.

Just a few doors down the road from Bucci, there recently appeared a New Restaurant called Double Espresso. Now, we have yet to try it so I can’t comment on its quality, but it always seems to be full, and clearly it caused alarm and despondency in the hearts of Bucci’s management. Did they resolve to do even better what they’d been doing so well, to win back any customers whose heads had been turned by the new arrival? Did they try some clever marketing to local residents? Did they introduce new, seasonal specials? Did they offer added-value deals and offers? No. They decided, in their wisdom, to rip up the tried and trusted menu and start again.

Gone is the penne arrabiata, my order of choice when trying to be healthy. Gone is the carbonara, the boyfriend’s choice after a long run. Gone are the tricolore salad, the free bowls of olives brought to your table when you arrive, the specials board – all gone. In their place are a selection of more ambitiously priced starters, salads and pasta dishes, and an extensive entrée menu. (Pizza fans will be glad to learn that this section of the menu has escaped unscathed, but for some price hiking.)

Undaunted, we went ahead and gave the new menu a try, and I can reveal that a. three out of the four dishes we duds; b. our complaints were handled with a blend of indifference and bolshiness; and c. we won’t be going back.

Our starters were a tomato and pesto pizza bread, a favourite from the halcyon days before the chef/owner’s rush of blood to the head, which was the same as always – a bit greasy, but good stuff nonetheless. A green salad that came, according to the menu, with house dressing, vinaigrette or oil and vinegar, actually arrived coated in sweet, creamy goo – presumably the “house dressing”, certainly out of a bottle and pretty grim.

I was relieved to see that one main course that had avoided the cull was linguine vongole – a classic pasta dish that can be relied upon to deliver subtly fishy, garlicky goodness with a bit of a chilli kick. This was disappointing – bland, and too oily to eat more than a couple of forkfuls. But worst of all were the lamb cutlets. Instead of the charred without, pink within, crisp-fatted deliciousness one expects, these were the pinky grey of cheap salami, and again swimming in grease. Oh dear, Bucci. There won’t be a second chance. Still, it gives us an excuse to try Double Espresso without fear of disloyalty.

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And as for bloody squash…

I swear they do it deliberately. All you want is sugar-free orange squash, right? So why do the fiendish non-alcoholic-concentrate marketeers go to such lengths to ensure you end up with Orange and Mango, Orange and Pineapple, Fortified With Hydrogenated Fat, or – worst of all – Barley squash? The packaging changes every other week – as soon as you’re sure you’ve identified Sugar-Free Orange, they start sticking an identical label on some vile concoction that tastes like hair dye. How does it happen? And why? I’ll tell you, right now.

Scene: 11pm on a Thursday night. The production studio of @#, Soho’s hottest design agency. Present are Georgiana, the work experience girl who beat all other comers to the internship when the MD discovered that her daddy had bought Rupert Murdoch on e-Bay, and Mr Frostee (né Isiah Johnson), fast-tracked through the graduate diversity programme. The juniors are awaiting client approval on the new Robinson’s creative.

Mr Frostee: Yo, biatch, toast me another crumpet. The Frostster’s bored shitless.
Georgiana: Fuck off with the street talk, Isiah, you do it. I did the coke run 20 minutes ago, and you made me go to Topshop for your neon leopardprint footless tights at lunchtime. You’ve got to stop putting your fags through them, they like cost a fortune.
MF: I don’t fucking put my fucking fags through them, I’m not a spaz. I have to throw them in the bin on Regent Street before I get the 159 home, innit, cos if my Nan caught me in them I’d be so fucking grounded.
G: God! Can’t you like bulk buy, or something? Speaking of which, when are these cunts going to sign off their fucking artwork? I heard Ollie off X Factor was going to be in China White tonight and my mate Barnaby’s on the door.
MF: Chillax. Those mo’fos are so going to buy our Arctic Monkeys visual on the Lemon and Barley. That was the shit right there.

There is a sudden commotion in the corridor outside. In bursts Hector, the account director. His eyes are glazed, his tie askew, and there are visible squash stains on his shirt.

H: Arriba! How’s it hanging with my crew?
G&MF: Mumble incomprehensibly
H: I’ve got good news and bad news, right! The client’s loving the energy that’s gone into this campaign, they’re feeling the love. They are just so grateful that we’ve thrown real talent at their product. They’re predicting a great future for their relationship with the agency, and that means with you two guys, right? Yes!
G&MF: Mumble incomprehensibly
H: But! We need to push the envelope. They only had one tiny criticism of our work – they loved it, but they want more! Yes! More! The literal approach isn’t working for them. They want consumers spending more time engaging with the brand, feeling part of the great squash experience while they hang out on those gondola ends. And if a few million more consumers south of Glasgow buy Passionfruit, Lard and Oatmeal squash, then everyone’s a winner. Are you feeling it, team? Is the mojo flying around the old ethernet cables? Is it?
G&MF: Mumble incomprehensibly
H: Listen up! No more functional labelling. That’s so over. You read me? So. Over. They’re thinking interpretive design. They’re thinking viral marketing. They’re thinking quirky out-the-box packs that make orange look like grapefruit and sugar look like aspartame and starch look like water! Then we’ll be cooking with gas! Gas! Oh – and that last design that was a sell-out for Sugar-Free Orange? We’re sticking it on the Agave and Satsuma.

Hector sinks into an ergonomically designed chair, panting slightly. A muscle in his cheek twitches.

H: Let’s work it, kiddoes!

G: Fuck. I’d better call my dealer.
MF: Fuck. I’d better ring my Nan.

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