Sunday, 8 August 2010

Edinburgh Fringe

So the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has well and truly started, my splendid husband Frog and Mark Quinn have taken the ever popular UnWrong Quiz from it's normal venue at the Montague Arms in South London, to Bannermans 212 Cowgate Edinburgh, with very special guest Theo Morris providing the music between rounds. Yesterday was their first show, and where was this devoted friend and wife? That's right, in London - can we all say "inadequate holiday allowance"?

Grr the need to work and earn money to pay bills! Still I'll get to join them later in the week.

anyhoo... I am following events as closely as possible from London, so here is a little update. First off, an interview with Mark by endingburghgirl

Their first show apparently went well - Andrew Collings of radio fame had a show at the same venue immediately before and stayed for the UnWrong Quiz and enjoyed it, who wouldn't when you can win a marrow! Check out his twitter feed:

CollingsA: "Joined in with #unwrongquiz at Bannermans straight after my show today, 1.45, w @mark_monkey69 & @frogmorris. I won a marrow! You could too"

CollingsA: "@theomorris I liked your songs, by the way, esp. Cold War one"

Huzzah for Theo! So glad it is all coming together.

1.45pm (1hr) 7th - 17th August 2010
PBH Free Fringe at Bannermans,
212 Cowgate Edinburgh EH1 1NQ

Frog also has some other gigs lined up:

11pm Monday 9th August 2010
The Vault, 11 Merchant Street, Edinburgh

10.30pm 10th August 2010
Ryries, 1A Haymarket Edinburgh, EH12 5EY

6pm Friday 13th August 2010
Cabaret Voltaire (SpeakEasy) 36 Blair Street, Edinburgh

7.15pm Sunday 15th August
The Voodoo Rooms, 19a West Register Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2AA

If you're in Edinburgh you should most definitely also check out the brilliant Charlotte Young, her show Audi, Vide, Tace also at Bannermans runs from 18th - 28th August daily at 1.45pm

Martin White's (Of Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra & Dave Gorman's Radio show - amongst other things) new musical Gutted from 6th - 28th August

I confess I am feeling rather lonely and miserable to be missing the first few shows - not just because I am rubbish at being away from Frog for any length of time - a day at work is too long on it's own! But I really wish I could be there supporting everyone, and being part of what I know is an unforgettable experience for them.

Good luck guys - miss you all loads, and can't wait to see you later this week. 

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Manners maketh the man (or woman for that matter)

I work in retail... a bookseller in fact. So a large portion of my day is spent behind a till providing customer service, we always have to remain polite and friendly. I wish the same could be said about some of our customers.

I apologise in advance if this post sounds like the script for the next series of Grumpy Old Women, but honestly what has happend to manners these days!?

I say a large portion of my day is spent serving at the till, a large portion is also spent with my friend and I grumbling about the customers once they've left the shop.

My key pet hates...

If you are listening to music please do us the courtesy of taking at least one ear phone out when you come to the till, how do you expect to hear the price when you are deafening yourself and us with rubbish from that weeks Top 40?

Oh and by the way shouting 'what?' or 'how much?' at us when we have already told you twice, is not nice.

We're very happy that you have lots of good friends with you, who like to chat whilst you buy your snacks and books - but shoving products under our nose, turning your back on us and continuing your conversation while we try and ask you if you'd like a bag or tell you the price may one day result in a smack in the head.

The same goes for phone conversations - call them back! or if it really is that important wait before you come to the till, or if you really do need to do both a once, a quick smile and a 'sorry' while we serve you is just about acceptable, just make sure you're listening to us too.

Learn a few simple phrases - 'Please' and 'Thank you' go a long way to stop us looking for something to throw.

And please, for the sake of all that is good and honorable in life don't ever click your fingers to get our attention when we're working (yes it has happend).

Ok lets imagine that hypothetically we sell inter campus bus tickets - coming up to the till and just saying 'Tickets' really isn't going to get you very far. try, 'good morning, could I have 5 tickets to...... please?' -  it's amazing how much quicker we'll serve you as a result.

If we're serving someone, coming to the side of the till and demanding we find you a product or answer a question is not going to work, we will always respond "I am just serving this customer, I'll be with you in a moment ma'am / sir" - you wouldn't like it if we stopped serving you to talk to someone else, don't try it yourself - it is plain rude, and will automatically get you to the back of the queue.

If the shop is busy, and you've made it to the front of the queue - don't suddenly wander off to keep browsing, a quick dash for something is just about acceptable, but please pay for what you've chosen then start again. Or at least say something, 'sorry, I forgot...' is a good start, handing us a credit card and then wandering off leaving everyone waiting is not good. Equally if we're putting the transaction through  going outside to take a phone call just at the 'please enter your pin' point is not good either - don't do it!

oh, and swearing at me because I don't sell chewing gum, that's not on either. I realise you have a unhealthy oral fixation, and the trauma was intense... but still....

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Revisiting Past Judgements

When we are out for dinner with friends the other week - we got talking about films and books. And the film 'The Last Samurai' was mentioned - I'm afraid I jumped in with a comment about it being dreadful, which was rather embarrassing (and rude) given our friend was saying how much he liked it. My lack of manners aside (which I must work on) I wanted to think about why I don't like the film, was I being prejudiced because it stars Tom Cruise, which in an of itself would mean I would normally avoid the film as I find him intensely irritating? After all this is a film which garnered critical acclaim and was nominated for 4 oscars.

So when it came on TV this week I decided to watch it, and to try and watch it with an open mind. Yes it was watchable and visually impressive. And I didn't not enjoy it, but wouldn't go so far as to say I particularly enjoyed it, I didn't get emotionally engagedt, to borrow a phrase from a friend I was a little 'meh' about it.  I watched the film when it first came out and I thought it was based heavily on the book Shogun by Clavell, whilst I have now discovered that it is not intended as a film of the book (which is a good as the lead characters are completely different!) it does seem to borrow heavily on story elements (isolated 'barbarian' westerner comes to Japan, is a prisoner of the tradititional Samurai class, becomes an adviser, friend to the Samurai leader, comes to respect and admire the culture, eventually becoming a Samurai himself during a civil war) .

Shogun is an epic novel at 1125 pages, which I loved when I first read it, it has a huge scope and a wealth of depth and detail which simply cannot be translated into a film of 154 min and I suppose it would be unfair to expect it to, the internal monologues, side stories, character expositions etc simply wouldn't be practical, but I still found the film a little simplistic.  Although I can accept that the film does give a glimpse, a window into the incredibly complex and fascinating culture of that Japanese Era (although I should point out that Shogun is set rather earlier in history than The Last Samurai film), and if I hadn't already read books about the period it would probably intrigue me enough to seek them out. But I shan't be watching it again, and I won't be buying it. But equally I shan't be so quick to be rude about it.

(I can't help but think though that without Tom Cruise I would have enjoyed it far more! oh and the American role in Japanese history of the time is predictably exaggerated if you don't believe me read the IMDB statement of  factual errors: Japan *did* seek military advisors in the latter half of the 1800s to form a modern Army. The only problem with this is that they didn't consult the Americans to assist them. The most successful army at that point was the Prussian (not yet German) Army, whom they recruited for training purposes... as well as British naval attach├ęs to assist in the creation of a modern fleet)

Having revisited my opinion of The Last Samurai, I thought I should also revisit the novel Shogun by Clavell and so duly ordered a copy through work - and it arrived the day before yesterday  -I'm only 86 pages into the 1125 pages but so far it is as brilliant as I remembered it from when I first read my mum's copy 11 years ago... I'll report back once I finish it!

If anyone else is interested in reading Shogun...

Shogun by James Clavell
first published in 1975, there have been many editions since. I have:
9780340776163 (2006) Hodder & Stoughton
RRP: £8.99

Blurb: 'The epic saga of Pilot-Major John Blackthorne, who is shopwrecked on Japan, the most alien of shores. The novel charts Blackthorne's rise from the status of reviled foreigner up to the heights of trusted advisor and, eventually, samurai. All as civil war looms over the fragile country'

If you want a copy, please buy it from a real bookshop, the sort you find on the high street - you'll miss us when we all disappear and you have no choice but to shop online!

Light London Moments

I so wish I had my camera with me today...

Bright bright sunshine
Dark clouds on the horizon behind the white Wren buildings of the Old Royal Naval College
Sudden rain out of a sunny sky
A group of foreign exchange students in bright clothes with lots of brightly coloured umbrellas sparkling in the sun walking along in a long 'crocodile'.


moral of the story - charge my digital compact and carry it in my handbag at all times.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The perfect crowd pleasing BBQ side dish

So, as my offering to Daren's BBQ I made a special sweetcorn salad / salsa - it is sweet and spicy and ever so more-ish and unfailingly garners lots of compliments-  I wish I could take credit for it but the recipe comes from my friend Ronni's cousin...I urge you all to try it.


Sweetcorn (canned or frozen, or fresh if you're so lucky)


Finely chop the onion & Garlic - how much you use is a matter of taste, I was using two large cans of sweetcorn so used a LARGE onion and two cloves of garlic.

Chop the chilli with or without seeds according to taste - I used one red and one green of the slim pointy ones from Deptford market.. not sure what type they are! But You can used dry chilli flakes, jaleapenos or anything that takes your fancy.

Saute the garlic, onion & chilli until soft and just changing colour

If you're using frozen or fresh sweetcorn cook now -

drain and put the sweetcorn in bowl, stir in the sauted onion garlic & chilli

Grate the zest and juice 1 - 2 limes - I like to 'juice' with a spoon so I can scrape out some of the flesh as well,

Mix the lime through the sweetcorn - and serve!

nom nom nom

Loving my Life

This has been a spectacularly good week. After a particularly hectic couple of days (10hr shift on Friday & 11hrs on Saturday working a bookstall) and a very lazy Sunday mostly sleeping, Monday was relatively quiet day at work - followed by a splendid evening out with my friend Ronni. We started the evening in The Old Brewery in Greenwich (and yes they do brew on site) for a quiet drink before heading across town to the Bloomsbury theatre where we saw Dave Gorman's show : Sit Dow, Pedal, Pedal, Stop and Stand Up it was being filmed for the new dvd, and as we were sat just off centre on the second row, I guess there is every chance we'll be on the DVD too ... it was a splendiferously funny evening and Dave Gorman. Although it was scary to realise that his show "Are You Dave Gorman?" which I watched most episodes of was 10 years ago! ergh I must be getting old!

Most of the rest of the week was fairly quiet, until friday evening when Frog and I went to dinner with some good friends at Hong Kong City in New Cross. As I was walking to the restaurant I was handed a flyer for a weight loss program - how rude! It wouldn't have been too bad but the same lady gave me another one on Saturday when I was in Deptford market - grr! anyway, back to our splendid dinner- good friends, good food, good fun!  We couldn't quite believe when we left that we had been there for four and a half hours, it didn't seem like half so long. We ordered the fixed menu for 5 - a fantastic range, I can particularly recommend the crispy shredded duck pancakes (the roast duck is shredded in front of you at the table) and the sizzling lamb (which is well named as it came to the table furiously hot and spitting) tasted utterly magnificent. It was the perfect setting for hours of good conversation and laughs. As we sat there with our friends talking all sorts of nonsense, I suddenly realised that this was exactly what I imagined my life in London would be like. So my job isn't perfect, we don't have a garden, and I can't afford all the shoes I so clearly need(!) but still life is pretty amazing.

Whilst we don't have a garden several of our friends do and Saturday saw us at Daren's BBQ - as soon as we arrived Frog took over the all important lighting of the barbeque... whilst we fired up the oven grill and started cooking, frog foraged for bits of twig and a fresh bag of coals, and even (shudder) fire lighters, we shall diplomatically blame the length of time it took to get to cooking temperature on damp coals... ahem, I know it sounds terrible that we cooked in the oven at a BBQ but the kids were hungry (as were some of the adults) It was still a brilliant day, lots of Daren's friends and family - little children running around and using anyone who sat still long enough as a climbing frame - yes it was my idea of heaven! The weather smiled on us - not too hot but not too cloudy - perfect lounging on the grass sipping wine weather. Of course given the company the guitars came out, and impromtu first guitar lessons were given to the attendent children - when asked how well they were playing I answered with perfect truthfulness that they were better than frog - mean aren't I!?

Big thank you to Daren and everyone there for a lovely afternoon / evening.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Frog Morris Presents: InAppropriation @ The Montague Arms

8th July saw another one of Frog's splendid evenings. We have already established in an earlier post that I am not the most unbiased of reviewers, but I don't think I am being too partial to say the caliber of the acts gets better all the time. From one headliner a month, we seem to be getting several acts with a claim to the title each time. 

This month saw a tentacle headed crooner HP Lovebox, the return of "Vox Wonder the Voice Activated Drawing Machine" with inappropriate collages. The mesmerizing Duncan Ward, who's performances bring a packed pub to stunned silence. Mark Quinn's Ice-Cream face brought the crowd to unbelieving laughter and tears in his best recieved solo performance at the Montague Arms to date. Vicky Gold presented an autobiographical piece featuring well known artist and the demise of their relationship, The band Trelawney were undoubtedly popular and brought a large crowd with them. And of course there was Frog - accompanied by his faithful puppets, 2 pints of milk and a bunch of flowers.

H.P. Lovebox

H.P Lovebox
Duncan Ward

Duncan Ward

Ice-Cream Face

Mark Quinn: Ice-Cream Face

Frog Morris & Piggy Wiggy

Frog Morris & Puppets

Vox Wonder

Vox Wonder - The Voice Activated Drawing Machine



Vicky Gold

Vicky Gold

And of course there are lots more photos of the evening on flickr !