I have a new purpose in life
Monthly Archive for July, 2002
I have a new purpose in life
Gaaa…. ain’t that always the way. Here I am, wasting time before getting started on a job. I remembered that I haven’t been to Niina’s site for ages. Lots there I want to look at and read and mail Niina about… but I don’t have that much time to waste. Gotta get a train to London in an hour. Must get a move on!
Yay! I just saved a butterfly.
It had been fluttering around, on and off, all morning, in a gap between the window and the blind, about 8 feet above my head. I got up on my chair and used a broom to gently guide it towards the open window. Eventually we made it. Was very rewarding watching it flutter away over the rooftops of Sheffield below me.
Reminds me, last night just as I was closing the windows up here, a moth made a dive to get into the house. He maneuvered past me, Luke Skywalker-style, turning on his side to squeeze through the last gap of window before bursting triumphantly into the void of the living room (and probably aiming a single fatal bolt of laser energy at the stereo cabinet). It was an awesome sight. I never really thought of moths as very aeronautical creatures.
To my list of “currently reading” below I should add Fast Food Nation. I know I’m going to make it to the end of this one, and soon, it’s pretty un-putdownable. Yeah, the Hunter S Thompson is good as well, but somehow I can’t get quite so worked up over a collection of letters.
Yee-ess! Guy has finally got his site live – and it’s a big improvement on the quarter-finished version I saw a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed browsing around, reading the Photoshop tips, admiring the stylish pornography. Thank you Guy, wonderful stuff
Well, I finally did it. I finally got on my bike again.
Last year I had a huge resurgence of interest in cycling just before Lola was born. When I went back down to London I took my bike with me, cycled to work and back (about 15 mile round-trip) every day. But when I left Hard Reality last October, I left my bike behind (for various reasons – no space in the car when I did my big office unload, lots of trips on the train with no car, lots of trips on the car but not passing close enough to South Kensington, lots of passing close to South Kensington without being sober enough to cycle in a straight line, etc etc etc). So my bike rotted away in the bowels of 60 Sloane Avenue for nearly 9 months.
Cut to… well, a few weeks ago really. Like a solar-lunar eclipse with all the planets in alignment, all the factors required for me to collect my lovely old rust 1988 Saracen Trekker (no name as yet… well, bloody stupid idea giving your vehicles names, isn’t it) were present. So I drove over with Mark and bunged it in the car. It’s been in the garden a while now, wheels on, wheels off, grease off, grease on. I kinda did a half-hearted clean-up and service, nothing like the one it needs but at least it’s rideable.
And then this afternoon, as a test, I took it down the hill to Langsett Cycles (for some chain cleaner) and Safeway (for some tomato juice and tabasco sauce – yeah, virgin marys day!). Bugger me it’s hard work getting back up Addy Road with shopping on the back.
And then this evening I met up with Ian for a proper little cycle ride. Rode down to Hillsborough to meet him, I’m sure the wind when cycling downhill didn’t used to sound that loud, still it was fun charging down Rivelin Bank and hoping that my brakes would hold out at the bottom. Just before I left, Gill had been moaning about Sheffield drivers being crap and not used to cyclists, and shortly after meeting Ian I got my first experience of this – woman beeping us and waving her fist because we were riding two abreast (even though she had a whole other lane to do as she pleased with).
We got going along the A6101 Rivelin Valley Road, climbing gently (well, gentler than Addy Road) towards the Peaks. Another example of driver brainlessness at the bottom of Hagg Hill, where a guy in a beaten-up old white Fiesta waited for us to come virtually in front of his car (Ian was about 2 feet away) before hammering his foot down and accelerating out of the side-road almost into Ian. I made the universal “dick-head” symbol on my helmet, I’m sure the driver missed it but I like to think it provided some amusement to the queue of drivers also waiting to exit Hagg Hill.
At the end of the road we turned left onto the A57 back towards Sheffield. Another fun incident with motor vehicles – a car overtook us at about 60mph, just as a motorbike was overtaking the car at about 80mph, and another car was coming the other way. I’m still not sure how we all managed to squeeze side-by-side on the two-lane blacktop, but somehow we lived to tell the tale.
As we reached Crosspool I relaxed, mentally and physically. We’d pretty much reached the peak of our climb, just another lovely sharp downhill into Crookes and we’d be home for dinner. Oh no. Ian had other ideas. He passed the left turn “oh” I thought, “he’s going to take the one halfway down”… past that “ah, he’s going to turn at the traffic lights in Broomhill”… past that “perhaps that little road just after Richer Sounds?”
Oh no, he was going for broke. Being Ian, he wanted to make the exercise as torturous (and hence fitness-building) as possible. Took us right back down to the bloody ring-road, then back up the agonizingly steep (and long) hill of Crookes Valley Road/Barber Road. I had been so ready not to climb again that my legs just switched off. I watched Ian pulling further and further away, as I changed down to first gear and my legs span ineffectually on the pedals. I felt rather stupid as I was almost overtaken by pedestrians walking alongside me.
But somehow I made it back up to Commonside. It was only when I climbed off my bike and tried to walk in the front door that I realised quite how much that last half-mile had taken out of me. My legs barely supported me, it’s a cliché to say they’d turned to jelly but, well, I can think of no better cliché to fit the moment. As I walked from the bright sunshine into the darkness of the hallway my eyes flickered and everything went very wierd – dunno if this was blood rushing to/from my head, or what exactly, but it was quite bizarre. I somehow staggered down the hallway and into the kitchen, without collapsing on the steps. Spooning food onto my plate was bloody hard work, my hands kept flopping onto the table in front of me before they could make it as far of the serving dish. But somehow I did eat and drink, and gradually normal service was resumed.
I’m looking forward to doing it all again next week.
Mmmm… dunno whether it’s the monthly arrival of Observer Food Monthly along with the Sunday papers, but my cooking-muscles really felt like they needed excercising yesterday. I was totally entranced by the article on Ferran Adrià‘s restaurant El Bulli, worth taking a trip to Barcelona to sample it. My mouth was dripping from the description of the emotions which come with the food, I wonder how much this is really down to the food and how much down to the hype, the expectation, the trouble that most people take to visit such a far-flung place. It made me think back to my visit to the Café de la Gare with Guy, I know the food there was awesome, but also the setting, the circumstances, and the chef Bart’s enthusiasm combined to make it more so.
Anyway, this bit from the article said it all for me:
“I noticed a woman at a nearby table. She had put something into her mouth, and now her whole body shook slightly, as if she was having a fit of hiccups. She sat with her head bowed, her shoulders moving up and down, until she looked at the man she was with. She had tears in her eyes, and when she met his gaze, she started laughing – unafraid laughter that made him laugh too.”
So I spent most of yesterday in the kitchen. Not sure why it took me quite so long to prepare what I did (starter: buckwheat & wild rice blinis with smoked haddock paté and yoghurt. Main: A tart [wheat-free shortcrust made with brown rice flour, maize flour and oats. Really could have used some butter though for flavour] containing a kind of roasted pepper and egg-yolk flan mix, with green salad. Dessert: Indian-style rice pudding). I put it down to the fact that I did the washing up about 6 times during the course of the day (the food-processor seemed to come in for particularly heavy use). By the end of the day, my feet were killing me, and I had to spend a couple of hours with them in a baby-bath full of cold water and Epsom salts, while I read the newspapers, leisurely-like.
Most of the recipes, by the way, came from the Gluten, Wheat and Dairy Free Cookbook by Antoinette Savill, which I’ve kind of been avoiding using since I got it for my birthday, but now I’ve dived into it I realise it contains some really good stuff.
Somehow my life seems to follow my reading habits. When I’m happily breezing through books, I also seem to breeze through work. At the moment, everything’s a bit octopussy… tentacles of chaos everywhere. I’m halfway through so many books, I’ve lost count. Among the current batch are:
- Fear and Loathing in America by Hunter S Thompson (I’m actually getting somewhere with this one)
- Headstrong by Tony Buzan
- Wired – The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi by Bob Woodward
- The Five-day Course in Thinking by Edward de Bono (I’ve been “reading” this for about a couple of months – go figure!)
- Herman Hesse – Pilgrim of Crisis by Ralph Freedman
- Puckoon by Spike Milligan
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al Ries and Laura Ries
I’m sure there are one or two others as well. And that doesn’t include the several books I’m reading with Rowan at the moment (yeah, she’s already taking after her old dad)