Friday, August 10, 2018

Moving On 2 - Last Suppers

So you have successfully cleared your cupboards and your fridge, donating as much as possible, and trying not to imagine how many families would be fed for a week by the 3/4-filled jar of red lentils you just poured into the bin. You're leaving in less than 48 hours, and do not have time to find someone to take 2 half-used packets of Basmati rice, a jar of Mrs Elswood sweet sliced pickles and a bottle of Paul Newman's honey-mustard salad dressing. It is nearly 3 pm, and you have to eat something. Time to go to the supermarket (and deposit the unopened food items with ok sell-by dates in their donation bin).

Here's the thing - what may a vegetarian without a working oven, or any pots or pans, or dishes or plates, and who packed the kettle already - what might such a person bring home for lunch and dinner?

And don't forget the lack of cutlery, or drinking utensils.

I came home with some Tyrrell's sweet chilli crisps (only £1), a plastic pot of tomato and wheatberry soup, an innocent strawberry smoothie, a roll of tall bin bags, a few avocado sushi and - the piece de resistance - vegetarian spring rolls!

Note to self:  there were no sachets of sauce included - WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Well, possibly that the sweet chilli crisps would ameliorate both the lack of sweet chilli sauce and the crunchiness of a fresh spring roll. You were wrong.

Another note to self:  Modenese-Chinese fusion is not well-represented by using precious artisanal balsamico as a substitute for soy sauce.

I weep for my carbon footprint today. Now, back to the final phase of packing - the suitcases!

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Moving On 1

Some boxes in the garage

Boxes. Cardboard boxes. Cardboard boxes with all the flaps still present, rather than ripped off in haste by whoever had to stock the shelves. I decided to go with wine boxes, the ones that held 6 bottles. I figured that even when they were stuffed with the heaviest books, if necessary I would still be able to carry them.

The guys in the Majestic Wine shop keep a wall of empty boxes ten or so high to use instead of shopping bags for customers. When the wall was at least 6 boxes high, once a day they would let me take as many as I could carry. That would be 7. After a few days of this, someone asked me if I actually even liked wine. I explained that I am kind of allergic to alcohol (true - albeit mildly. It makes me feel like fire ants are crawling across my scalp. The ants are ambling, rather than fighting. Still, it's not very pleasant. The same thing happens to me with chilli).  I didn't mention that I mostly drink Palwins Number 10. Say no more. It took me several days to dare to ask the grumpy one if I could use one of their shopping trolleys instead of my hands. 

Actually, people can be so lovely. As I tried to push a laden supermarket trolley of vari-sized boxes over the cattle grid leading to the main road, the security guard forbade me. "The trolleys do not leave the car park!" After explaining my situation, promising to return it within 30 minutes and a bit of a chat to find out more about him, M. let me go. Upon my return, S. in the wine & beer section said if I came back the next day, he'd flatten and save me a few more. Over the next 3 days I got c. 75 boxes from this lovely man. And, as I plodded up and down Ballards Lane, trying to control a trolley that clearly had vertigo, various people offered me more containers, or names of people to ask for in other supermarkets. And all this during the worst of the heatwave. So so kind. Nu, I made sure to call the manager to name-check the guys who were so helpful, although I did not give details in case M. got into trouble for letting a trolley out of bounds!

The best part? Instead of the companies paying money to destroy these boxes, we were recycling. Evviva! 

So, for two weeks I was obsessed with boxes. And packing tape (the cheap kind doesn't stay stuck in the heat). And freebie newspapers with which to wrap, and stuff crevices (one day in the far future I shall unwrap a Rosenthal soup tureen and wonder who on earth Clare Balding was). So far I have packed 170+ boxes. Who knew that somebody like me would have so many books? & photographs? slides... -ves ... papers ... STUFF.

Shabbat is nearly here. Cannot wait for a bit of a rest.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Gentleman Gigi Loses It

Juventus goalie Buffon explains to referee Oliver that he does not agree with the last-minute penalty kick awarded to Real Madrid that might end his team's fantastic fight-back (Photo:  Getty Images)
My beloved L impressed me the other night when she mentioned that she had heard about a great football match that Roma had recently won. I asked her if she had also heard about the dramatic end to the Juventus - Real Madrid tie and she had not. Of course, I had to tell her all about it!

Whether or not you are a tifoso, the sheer drama of that evening was utterly intense. For a full match report, here is something from the Guardian. Suffice it to say that Juve were 0-3 down from the first leg in Italy. They came to the Bernabeu, surrounded by Madridniks, and against all odds fought back to level the aggregate score at 3-3. In the 3rd minute of added time, with the game seconds away from the extension of 30 minutes extra-time, the referee gave a penalty kick to Real. Of course, if they were to score, the game would end immediately, and Juve's fightback would be for nothing. 

L tells me that Gianluigi Buffon, one of the greatest goalkeepers ever to play the game, and coming to the end of an illustrious and successful career, also has the reputation of being a gentleman. She was shocked to hear how he responded in this moment of disaster.

In that moment, Gigi Buffon lost it. I don't think we know exactly what he said. Afterwards he apparently said that he meant every word. Huffpo published quotes including:

"Cosa ho detto all'arbitro? Avrei potuto dirgli qualsiasi cosa ma lui doveva avere la sensibilità per capire il disastro che stava facendo. Se non hai quella sensibilità devi stare in tribuna a mangiare le patatine e mandi qualcun altro perché significa che non riesci ad arbitrare queste gare. Uno che si comporta così, al posto del cuore, lo ripeto, ha un bidone dell'immondizia, perché è troppo eclatante."

With my limited Italian I understand this as not sharing the actual words he used at the time. Buffon basically says that if the ref doesn't have the sensitivity to get what a terrible thing he is doing, he shouldn't be a ref, and should go sit in the stand and eat some chips! Then comes the quote that has already become a meme throughout Italy - the referee has a dustbin instead of a heart!

So, Buffon was sent off, and thus denied his team their best chance of responding to the penalty. Juve had to bring on poor old Wojciech Szczesny to face Cristiano Ronaldo, the scorer of 40 goals in 37 appearances this season so far. Ronaldo buries the penalty. Real Madrid win. 

This is already so last week. Except today L, armed with her new calcio knowledge, greatly enjoyed the latest Snoopy cartoon:

Why would anyone leave the crusts on pizza? Surely they have a dustbin instead of a heart?!
If you find any other examples of this meme, do let me know, and I will link to them. I may also need to send them to the idiots who sent vile & angry texts to the referee's wife. For crying out loud!

Update - here are some Twitter examples of the meme (#BuffonDiceCose):

When Harry Met Sally
Oliver gets some chips
(my favourite so far) Buffonic version of Jane Austen
& finally:
a sweet cartoon of Gigi's mama taking him home after the game

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

John Ehle R.I.P.

John at his table in the Gloriette Cafe in the early 1980's
(Photo:  ajf)

John Ehle was an American author who was one of North Carolina's greatest writers, and considered to be a key figure in the emergence of Southern Appalachian literature as a presence in modern literature. For a couple of years in the 1980's, he and his family lived down our street. Through my youngest sister's friendship with his daughter, I did a little babysitting. John also gave me my second ever non-synagogue-related job (the first was doing the Xmas post), i.e., in those pre-computer days, typing up his handwritten draft pages for the novel on which he was working at the time. Looking at his bibliography, it seems likely that it was The Winter People, but I honestly don't remember. What I do remember was finding him regularly upstairs at the corner table in the Gloriette Cafe where he would happily spot you a hot chocolate and a good conversation. To this day I appreciate the attention and respect he gave to a teenager with literary pretensions.

I was sad to hear this week of John's death at the end of last month. Although we had not been in touch for many years, my sister is still fast friends with his daughter, so I had heard news of him now and then. His beloved wife, Rosemary, sat with my family and friends at my Ordination service, and we were also very occasionally in touch. The thing is, with both of them, no matter how long it was since last you met, they made it so easy to pick up again and once more feel connected. My thoughts and prayers are with Rosemary, Jennifer and the rest of their family at this time. May his memory be for a blessing.

Citizen Times obituary
Winston-Salem Journal obituary

The Journal shares a letter recently made public, in which Harper Lee comments on John's work, saying:

"John Ehle's meld of historical fact with ineluctable plot-weaving makes "The Land Breakers" an exciting example of masterful storytelling ... he is our foremost writer of historical fiction."

NCSSM obituary

Appreciation of John for his 70th birthday from the Greensboro News & Record in 1996

The Gloriette is no more, but the arrow points to where John was sitting in the photo above.

PS  When packing up my stuff, I found a plaster cast from a broken wrist when I was c. 23 - my only cast up to this point (poo poo poo). The first person to sign it was Rosemary, John's wife (but that's a different story). The rest of it is covered with friends and half the QPR squad. I just noticed today that John also signed it:

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Bulge in the Old Onion Bag

Sometimes there's a day where, even though the sun is shining, it feels like everything's gone pear-shaped.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Moment of Joy

On a day when there has been such very sad news (thinking of the family & friends of Lt-Col Arnaud Beltrame), and when so many friends are making their voices heard in the USA in a struggle to change policies and save lives (#marchforourlives), forgive me if I take a moment to appreciate the absolute joy expressed by a young man beginning his career (who happens to have been discovered by my favourite football team!) Congratulations to Paul Smythmaking your debut for your country today, and then scoring the winning goal!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Cat Stops Play

Adding insult to injury, the Turkish club Besiktas has not only been knocked out of the Champions League football tournament by Bayern Munich, but they've also been charged by UEFA for allowing a cat on the pitch. According to the BBC, the exact charge is "insufficient organisation". As if anyone has ever been able to herd a cat!

Meanwhile, on Twitter, the cat was voted MoTM:

That reminds me of a previous MoTM winner at Loftus Road vs Leicester City a couple of years ago: