Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Food and drink

Saturday February 11 2017

When there are great big thick elaborate sandwiches going for a quid each at the end of the day in Strutton Ground I am sometimes tempted to have one too many, i.e. two.  I did that yesterday, and although I love these sandwiches, they hate me, and when there’s two of them, they can act on this hatred.  Which meant that my internal organs were in no state to confront the ferocious rugger game between Wales and England this afternoon.  England eventually won with a well taken but still somewhat lucky (for England to get the chance I mean) late try.  But for most of the game Wales had looked better and England were consequently, for most of the game, behind.  (The more usual procedure is for England to look better and for Wales then to win with a late try, Wales having been behind for most of the game.) I’ll take the win, but it would be nice if, one of these weekends, England could simply race away to a nice big win.  As it was, when I fret about a game on the telly, I often console myself for probable disaster by deliberately doing something else, to put it in perspective, to distance myself, to consume irrelevant aroused energy, blah blah blah.  Today I got several quite significant household tasks done.

The other Six Nations rugger game today had involved Italy.  Let’s just say that the Georgian rugby team, if they were watching, must now be feeling even more pissed off.  They would surely have done better against Ireland than Italy did.

Tomorrow, I expect France to slaughter Scotland.  If they do, England will be top and the only unbeaten team.  If Scotland win, well, jolly ho Scotland.  Rugby remains a very important game. 

Football, on the other hand, is only a game.

LATER: France didn’t slaughter Scotland but they did defeat them, and England are indeed now the only team with two wins from two.  France and Scotland both looked good, and England beating France is looking better and better.

Tuesday January 31 2017

Africa is big, and Africa’s rivers don’t help in cutting these huge distances down to size.

More from Tim Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography (p. 119):

Most of the continent’s rivers also pose a problem, as they begin in high land and descend in abrupt drops which thwart navigation. For example, the mighty Zambezi may be Africa’s fourth-longest river, running for 1,600 miles, and may be a stunning tourist attraction with its white-water rapids and the Victoria Falls, but as a trade route it is of little use. It flows through six countries, dropping from 4,900 feet to sea level when it reaches the Indian Ocean in Mozambique. Parts of it are navigable by shallow boats, but these parts do not interconnect, thus limiting the transportation of cargo.

Unlike in Europe, which has the Danube and the Rhine, this drawback has hindered contact and trade between regions - which in turn affected economic development, and hindered the formation of large trading regions. The continent’s great rivers, the Niger, the Congo, the Zambezi, the Nile and others, don’t connect and this disconnection has a human factor.  Whereas huge areas of Russia, China and the USA speak a unifying language which helps trade, in Africa thousands of languages exist and no one culture emerged to dominate areas of similar size. Europe, on the other hand, was small enough to have a ‘lingua franca’ through which to communicate, and a landscape that encouraged interaction.

I’m guessing that Africa’s famed natural resources (although not of the mineral sort – those natural resources just suck in thieving foreigners) also helped to split the population up into lots of little enclaves, by making it possible for quite small communities to be economically self-sufficient.  Not very self-sufficient, as in rich, but sufficiently self-sufficient not to die out but instead to keep ticking over.

Friday January 13 2017

Sport yet again.  And yes, I’ve still got plenty to tell you, in January, about one of my favourite days out last year, which was on November 28th, which I have already written about five times already.  There was the shining moment described in this, and the three earlier moments linked to from there.  And there was this next shining moment.  And now there is the Spurs Shop, which looks like this:

image

Not very exciting, I think you will agree.  But the stuff inside, the sort of stuff I have never ever seen before gathered together in one place, was, for me anyway, a remarkable sight:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimage
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So, what do we see there?

1.1: is a cardboard model of the old Spurs stadium, the one they are about to trash and replace, yours for £30, but you have to construct it.

1.2: Spurs clothes.  Lots of Spurs clothes.  Plus big Spurs slogans.

1.3: Spurs cards to tell your associates that this is your room.  Really.  Very blurry.  Only realised that this was what they were just now.

1.4: Spurs mugs.  It says everything about the state of the Premier League that I looked at this photo, and read Kane as “Car Nay”, like he’s from Africa.  Alli, like Kane, also plays for England.

2.1: More Spurs mugs, this time with the tasteless cartoon cock, rather than the tasteful and elegant proper one.  AIA is an Asian insurance company.

2.2: Spurs clocks.

2.3: Spurs wall stickers and, click and look on the right, Spurs flags.

2.4: Spurs luxury rugs.  (And more Spurs clothes.)

3.1: Spurs luggage tags.  And I don’t know what those yellow striped things on the right are, if you click on that.  Some kind of Spurs bags, I think,

3.2: Spurs 5M retractable dog leads and Spurs dog collars.  For actual Spurs supporter dogs, I mean.  Not Spurs-supporter priests.

3.3: Spurs doormats and Spurs thermometers.  Like a lot of the stuff in these pictures, I only noticed the Spurs thermometers now.

3.4: Spurs tea towels and Spurs trays.

4.1: Spurs fridge magnet pens.

4.2: Spurs jelly babies and Spurs “snowies”.  (Learn more about snowies here.)

4.3: Spurs white teddy bears.

4.4: Spurs flipflops.

5.1: Spurs footballs.  So Spurs supporters actually play this game?

5.2: Spurs scarves.

5.3: Spurs sterling silver earrings.

5.4: Spurs iPhone cases.

Out in the open, there were also Spurs cranes, although there was no price tag on any of them:

image

No, not really.  Not Spurs cranes for sale, just Spurs cranes working away on constructing the new Spurs stadium.

Monday December 19 2016

Indeed:

image

On the left: Iceland (Lower Marsh), 50p.  On the right: Tesco (Warwick Way), 75p.

Identical bottles, with the same green tops.  But the Tesco one is, I believe, ever so slightly darker.  Is it perhaps fifty per cent more concentrated?

Saturday December 17 2016

imageThis morning I was out and about in the greyness and gloom of Victoria, and the more entertaining things I saw was this guy, wearing a suit.  And a swimming cap.  He was talking with a guy wearing a Santa elf hat, outside a pub, and inside the pub was a table full of more guys in strange headgear.  Mr Swimming Cap and Mr Elf had to be part of that.  Some kind of office or re-union pre-Christmas get-together, presumably.  With a strange headgear theme.

Click to get the bigger picture.  I now wish I’d got more of the suit.

I like how the hat is wrinkled, like an alien in a cheap and ancient SF movie, before this kind of thing was done properly.

Saturday December 10 2016

Yes, The Railwa.  I had continued my odyssey from Seven Sisters on the regular railway, to White Hart Lane Station.  And from the platform, and then when I got outside, this was what I saw.  The Railwa:

imageimageimage

As you can see from the picture on the right, The Railwa used to be The Railway Tavern.

The y Tavern bit has disappeared because this is one of the many, many British pubs that has recently been shut down.

The other night they had a telly show about this, but it seems that it’s not all doom.  Pubs are being shut by Big Booze, and often then turned into blocks of posh flats, which are more lucrative.  But, some of the pubs are being saved, and taken over by The Community.  Accompanying this is the rise of “craft beer” (I at first misheard this as “crap beer"), which seems to be a mixture of regular beer and fruit juice, and as such, sounds right up my street.  When it comes to drink, I am a girl.  My alcoholic drink, on those rarish times when I am in a pub, is: lager and lime.  So it’s all going my way, apart from if I go to one of these new pubs and find it full of The Community.

To be a bit more serious, what I think I see happening here is that the old Working Class, the sort that used to smoke, and watch football teams while standing up and wearing cloth caps is ceasing to exist and what remains of it is being kicked out of the pubs by the new Working Class, the sort that doesn’t smoke, and designs websites and manages brands and works in call centres and which spent this weekend at the Robert Rauschenberg exhibition at Tate Modern.  The fate of the Railwa is what happens when an industry goes through a transformation of this sort.  Many of the old institutions collapse and get trashed, like the Railwa, by the look of it.  Others get transformed in accordance with the new dispensation, as perhaps the Railwa will be.

Friday December 09 2016

Alice Robb writes about the strange relationship between humans and cats:

When a stray cat wandered onto the tracks of a midtown 7 train last month, the MTA halted the entire subway line until the animal was out of harm’s way. At the same time, the U.S. government euthanizes millions of stray cats each year. They’re a disaster for the environment: One conservancy organization has called cats the “ecological axis of evil.” ...

There was no single, obvious reason for cats to have been domesticated, says Robb, like meat, or milk, or fur.  They are famously unbiddable.  And they can be very nasty to us.  So, how did it happen?

As I talked to scientists, it dawned on me that we weren’t necessarily the ones who were driving this relationship. House cats sidled up to our first settlements 10,000 years ago, because of big changes we started making to the environment. All of these animals crept into our settlement and were eating our trash - animals like badgers and foxes, in addition to small wildcats. They got into this new niche and exploited it.

So how did they trick us into feeding them and taking care of them?
For a long time, it was probably just an accident. But there are reasons that cats made the transition, but we don’t have badgers or foxes as pets today. One reason is that cats have a set of physical features that, for completely accidental reasons, remind us of human babies. Cats have big round eyes located right in the middle of their faces, because they’re ambush predators and need good binocular vision. They have little noses, because they don’t hunt by smell. They have round faces because they have short, powerful jaws. This set of features, which is actually just an expression of the way the cat hunts, looks to us like our infants. That gave them a leg up on the competition, and made them an intriguing and charming presence, rather than a straight-up nuisance, like a raccoon.

I always assumed that cats were made welcome by our ancestors because they killed rats and mice, which gobbled up our crops.  But, says Robb, cats often can’t be bothered to kill rats, because of all the garbage humans emit.

There’s plenty of garbage for everybody. Cats and rats have been photographed sharing piles of trash. Why would these animals fight and risk their lives, when they could just comfortably graze together?

As for the suppose health benefits of keeping a cat, these, says Robb, are highly dubious.

It all adds up to a pretty good summary of the cat/person relationship.

Friday December 02 2016

Friday is the day here for cats and other creatures, so here, among other things, is a panda:

image

What this photo illustrates is the perennial problem of trying to chuck stuff out, which is that all too often, stuff is just too nice to chuck out.

I recall, a year or two after the Berlin Wall was dismantled, meeting an Eastern European lady, who complained about how the packages and pots and bottles in which produce was suddenly now sold was too good to chuck out.  Bloody capitalism.  Capitalist rubbish was better than what they had previously had as actual stuff.

In a modified form, I now suffer from this syndrome.  It has crept up on me more gradually, but throughout my lifetime, packaging has been getting ever better, probably because it is the sort of industry that politicians disapprove of, and have hence left to its own devices, an industry’s own devices invariably being better than any device devised by politicians.  The packaging industry, not having been “helped”, has thrived.

Beer bottles (the one in the picture still has beer in it so that will be consumed first), I have learned not to miss.  But even they are sometimes so artfully designed that it seems wrong to throw them away.

The coffee jar I will keep, because coffee jars are so structurally impressive.

But that panda has got to go.

Packaging that is too good
Bonfire
Union Jacks having fun
What does Thames “RIB” Experience mean?
Deliveroo V sign
An allotment and two cats
On the connection between drinking lots of coffee and living a long and healthy life
Illness and coolness
Nelson statue in Greenwich
A pig and two dogs
The right moment and the right alignment
Why I like Cricinfo
Horizontal French signs
Pizza Express bus
Van Art
Another walk along the river
Getting better - but rather slowly
Steven Johnson on how coffee replaced alcohol as the daytime drug of choice
The footbridges of Shad
Taking photo-notes and an app for improving photo-notes
Blog often (this time about the sound and the vision of this evening’s Tim Evans talk to LH)
A bus ride and tea versus one of the best concert halls in the world
Out and about with GD1 (8): Non-human creature vans
Another way to photo my meetings
The first Brian’s Friday of the year tomorrow evening
Orange coloured London
The Beckton Sewage Works
On the triumph of modernism in the kitchen
Twelve 2015 photos
Confirming an offer I made last night to Rob Fisher
Food memories from the outer suburbs
The next but one London Big Thing
Antoine Clarke on herding drunk cats
A Morris Minor advertising a ping pong night club
Calories defined
An underground history lesson
Marmite crisps are back!
Weird wide angle lens effect
Alcoholic Architecture sign
Sorry!  No Photo’s!
Golden Cheesegrater with cranes
Keeping up appearances in Sydney
It begins (badly)
Pancake White Van
Out and about with GD1 (2): How mobile phones both cause and solve meeting up problems
More keeping up of appearances
Heaven aka the Barley Mow
Tim Worstall on “reserves”
Strange London buses
Another use for a drone
Bad taste
Not squash
White Vin Van
Photoing the photoers on Westminster Bridge
The ROH bar and its floating-in-the-air drinkers
Drunkblogging a new London Big Thing
Talk tomorrow – haircut today
Incidental Last Friday details
Another place to look out over London from
Christmas Day photos
Santa’s tired helpers
ASI Christmas Party photos
At the ASI Christmas Party
Scary bunny
Hot dog shadow selfie
Friday photo-puzzles
The uniqueness of our microbiome
At the Libertarian Home cost of living debate
Letterz
Halloween buckets
Strange bread
Two guys on Westminster Bridge photoing ice creams in front of the Houses of Parliament
Triple selfie
Bill Bryson on the miracle of crop rotation
Roof party
Out and about in the sunshine
ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
Cat photo and cat news
ASI Boat Trip 7: Other photographers
Colossal fun
ASI Boat Trip 3: Drink!
ASI Boat Trip 2: My photos were indeed better than they looked last night
ASI boat trip - one good photo to be getting along with
Quota photos of and from Tate & Lyle Park
Another London vista
Go Chef
Organised water
Guardian online is a group blog that trolls its own readers
A slightly foreign part of London
Happiness is a wallet that I didn’t lose after all
South Bank signs
Two bits of hospitality trivia
A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
Camel
ME Hotel Radio Rooftop Bar
Church really dwarfed by modernity
Happiness is still Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
3D printer sighted!
Scott Wiener on pizza boxes
La Porte des Indes
Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
Broad thrives properly on getting abuse
Fat bastard!
Pain in the midriff
A Strutton Ground shop and a Strutton Ground pub
Jamie Whyte on deferring gratification less as he gets older
Halloween is near!
The Heron Tower restaurant
Monty Panesar: “I piss on your short pitched fast deliveries aimed at my body!”
Pictures from Georgia and Warsaw
Rothko Toast
A Fleet Street lunch
Lunch at Gessler at Daquise
Michael Jennings - pictures of globalisation
What Michael Jennings has been learning about and will be saying about globalisation
Photoing people who are photoing food
Talking architecture at the Libertarian Home social
Classical CDs from Gramex
Six Nations joy
Brian’s Fridays will resume on the 25th of this month
Christmas Eve feast
Cheese or font?
Usain Bolt takes photos of photographers!
Another excellent spot to photo London from
Happy New Year
Les Rillettes Henaff
WWWhat a great afternoon!!!
Empty tables and empty chairs
No fruit juice
Choosing a Clean Food Outlet in Lawas is as easy as ABC
Just Righter
Another pub
The Armstrong Gun
Out to lunch with Alex Singleton
It’s interesting …
Female cows in TV advert shock
Thoughts on England not just keeping the Ashes but winning the series 3-1 (with asterisks)
And then give up and stay fat
Marmite spoons!
Merry Christmas
And here’s the proof!!!  Sixteen little square pictures!!!
Talk at Christian Michel’s
Cats know more about fluid mechanics than dogs
Why does a coffee lover not want coffee when he’s ill?
Blog hiati
Guerrilla webfare
To Serve Man
The long and short of conversation - Hitchens on YouTube
Graeme Swann on drink-driving charge after 3am dash to save kitten
Everyone?
iScream from Artisan du Chocolat
As strong and sweet as the free market itself
Yo! Sushi cat says:  Yo!  Stay away!
Incoming from Molly Norris!
“Is this a case of us operant-conditioning them or them operant-conditioning us?”
Sounds like a brothel with film star lookalikes
We’ll always have Chelsea
I never knew Marmite came in tanker lorries
Alfie the cat answers the Elmlea challenge
Sushi and scaffolding at Victoria
Why do pregnant women now do quite a lot of driving of their husbands?
The cats from out of town that cleared out the rats during the siege of Leningrad
My sleep and luggage and bus and fluid travel hell
My local Blockbuster Video just closed
Saying it with lights in the Victoria Station shopping centre that were still switched on!
Picture purrfection and a rather good Clive James piece
In other news …
Talking with Toby Baxendale
How building St Peter’s Rome split the Catholic Church and how marzipan was invented in Luebeck
The decor in Peter Jones - and where in London can I find a small ice-cube-making machine?
Quotes dump
Pull Tab
Magic bottle that makes dirty water drinkable
London Bites @ Sway
Summer break
Green eyed monster devouring cat food
Friend anonymous
Busy day and busy night
How technology has improved detention
The Vita-Mix 5000 at the Veggie Show
Register for your free pack and five £1-off-coupons
Acton
Even crazier crisps!
Vote for crazy flavoured crisps!
It could be a rather small funeral
Milk containers ancient and modern
Happy Christmas to all my readers
Gadget gold
There’s only one way to find out!  Fight!
Palming them off with a sunset
Inamo
England sinking fast
At Liberty 2008 all day
The uses of Jesus
When three’s company but four’s a crowd
Billion Monkey with icecream!
Jellennium Bridge
Big head and big something else
Heroic Billion Monkey falsely arrested by cop whom he photoed breaking law to get to chip shop!
Photo of some foodski
Crackers
Tea with CDs
Billion Monkey Alan Little?
Brian Micklethwait dot com quote of the day - soup
Democracy for sale – starting with football and beer
Berlin Billion Monkeys photo rat and cheese sand sculpture!
Renaissance Man
White Man’s Poison?
Fat Man on a Keyboard
That Rooney goal
Why photographing Big Ben can resemble being photographed with a sandwich
Male cows do not have udders
Spreading the word for free
Grassy car with blog