Monthly Archives: November 2012

Uninvited Meat

On Friday I went to a Mexican restaurant with some friends and I was telling them about the last Mexican restaurant I had been to, where I discovered chicken in my vegetarian chimichanga.  Now, I’ve been vegetarian for 33 years, and I’ve had a few experiences where people have tried to, shall we say, slip some meat in (fnar) – but the vast majority of these incidents have been abroad, in countries where vegetarianism is really not understood (“You eat moule, yes?”, “Is only meat in the sauce, ok”).  I was shocked that a chain restaurant in the UK should have such poor practices when it comes to food hygiene and my friends agreed that it was pretty poor.  My food arrived and I had a very good look at it – seemed fine – but then I chewed upon something strange and chewy; what do you know, another meat intrusion in to my meal.  The restaurant was barely apologetic and knocked 50% off my meal.  I’m British.  I’m rubbish at making formal complaints.  I shrugged and moved on.

On Saturday it was my boyfriend’s turn to cook, and I asked if he’d make lasagne since I’d not really had a proper meal the night before and I wanted something nice.  Unlike me, he eats meat – loved meat – and so he made two lasagnes, one veggie and one with meat.  Can you guess what’s coming?  After living together for 18 years, with no meat based errors occurring in our house – not even a spoon stirring the wrong pot – he goes and gives me the beef lasagne.  I knew immediately that something was wrong – it was chewy and grey and nothing like veggie mince.  So now I’m not even safe in my own home!

It feels as though the universe is trying to force me to be an omnivore and yet, if it really wanted that, it could have made the meat taste nicer.  It was all hard and fibrous and completely unpleasant.  I remain steadfast in my beliefs.  The next battle will be the office Christmas meal, where the vegetarian option is a parmesan risotto – parmesan is NEVER vegetarian, since it always contains animal rennet. Sigh.  I feel good about being a vegetarian, but it can really make you in to the sort of moany twat that I dislike – ‘Oooh, what are the chips fried in?’ ‘Is there gelatine in that cheese cake?’ ‘what kind of stock did you use?’.  I hate being that person, but until restaurants, hotels, and boyfriends buck their ideas up, I have no choice!

In other news, I have twice been in supermarkets that have been playing Christmas carols; this is really taking the piss.  As a neighbour of the Rhubarb Triangle I know when shit is being forced, and this is just a cynical attempt to encourage consumers to spend more money over a greater period of time.  That said, I really need to get my act together and not leave everything to the last minute this year and end up in Lush screaming at the assistants.

I’m considering taking a top tip from Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi and making some policy changes in my life – the first one being that I make all the rules and that no-one is entitled to challenge this in any way.  How clever is that?  I may end up storming in to the back office of ASDA and insisting that Slade is removed IMMEDIATELY from the PA system until the 10th of December.  I will also punish all restaurants (and boyfriends) who do not follow strict food handling procedures with death by tahini.  I had hoped to achieve world domination through working for the local council, then progressing up the ranks, but the recession put paid to that scheme.  The Morsi approach is much more straightforward, and requires far less actual work.

Right, I must go – tonight’s my turn to cook and I need to find something to slip in to my boyfriend’s meal that he finds morally repugnant – not sure what that will be!

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Look at Me, Ma! I’m Doing a Blog!

For reasons that I will explain shortly, I have resolved to blog more regularly.  We will see how long this lasts.  Without the push and motivation of the Benrik community, I just need to sit right here, on my arse, and write a bloody blog.  So that’s what I’m doing.

Here are the questions that my celebrity friends have been asking me this week:

What’s Going On?

Why, thanks for asking me that, Marvin!  I’ve just finished my annual stint at the Leeds International Film Festival – as usual a heady mix of pleasure, rage, and my obstinate refusal to fill in the audience response forms at the end of every film.  Pleasure at watching some interesting films.  Rage at the ABSOLUTE LACK OF MANNERS THAT PEOPLE DISPLAY IN THE CINEMA!  And this whole audience response thing – I don’t know about anyone else, but it can sometimes take me weeks to let a film settle in my head; I refuse to give a score out of five to a film as I wander, dazed, out of the cinema.  Some films seem like stinkers, but they stay with you in a way that makes you respect it – and that might be a process that takes months.  I certainly could never know how I feel about a Lars Von Trier film straight away, I need to mull it all over.  But after a bit of mulling and musing, here are the films that I enjoyed at this year’s festival:

Sightseers – Imminently due out on general release, exec. produced by Edgar Wright – it’s like Nuts in May but with murders in it.  Worth watching for the visit to the Pencil Museum.

Excision – This was a strange film, but worth it for the amazing performance by AnnaLynne McCord.  A sort of Heathers horror affair, but pretty funny too.

Death of a Man in the Balkans – A really clever, compact film.  A man kills himself in his apartment, and the entire film shows what happens next – as recorded by the webcam on his computer.

John Dies at the End – This one lost its way a bit, but is still worth watching.  It’s based on a book that I knew nothing about.  Two stoner guys have to try and save the world from evil demons.  If you put a stoner in a film, I will watch it!

Here Comes the Devil – A very subtle Mexican horror, worth watching for the realistic way in which supernatural events are dealt with.

The Hunt – A more timely subject matter I can not imagine – what happens when a man in a small community is accused of molesting children.  Directed by Thomas Vinterberg and starring Mads Mikkelsen and his beautiful face.  This film just gripped me – you really should see it!

Persistence of Vision – A documentary about the animator Richard Williams and his decades-long attempt to make his ‘masterpiece’ of animation.  This film, in conjunction with a few conversations that I’ve had with Chris about some poor films that we’ve seen, really got me thinking about ‘getting something done’.  Williams worked for years and years trying to make the perfect animated film – in the end his obsession with perfection led to him losing control of the film and it eventually ended up as a second-rate cartoon given away free with boxes of cereal.  There’s a spectrum of creativity which goes all the way from ‘I don’t have much of a plot, or any really good ideas, but I’m going to write this book/make this film’ through to a Flaubert-like reluctance to put pen to paper until perfection is achieved.  Even though there are people who produce (what I consider to be) poor books and films, I have to give it to them for getting it done.  They didn’t criticise themselves into a morass of inaction, they just kept going, finished it, and convinced someone else that it was worth their time and energy.  I saw a documentary about Ian Rankin the other day in which he wrote the words ‘Christ, he needed a cigarette’ – I would never ever commit those words to paper – I would expect to be ridiculed – but Rankin did, and he’s a millionaire crime writer. So, back to the film, it was very thought-provoking!

Oh look!  Here’s my friend Joe Dolce with another question:

What’s a Matta, You (Hey)?

This week I have mostly been worrying about:

  • I ate some coleslaw that was 2 days past its Use By Date.  It’s been a few days, I think I’m going to be ok now.  The stupid thing is that I put it in my jacket potato, knowing it was out of date, feeling anxious about it – but put the bloody stuff back in the fridge!  I am an idiot. [I am also slovenly because it’s actually still in the fridge many days later]
  • I have a really big project at work – the biggest I’ve ever undertaken – which involves relocating about 30 OAPs from their sheltered accommodation while we get some asbestos removed.  Last week I had to go and tell them about this, and was fretting about it.  No-one attacked me with a walking stick, so I see that as something of a success.
  • I don’t want to die and I don’t want to get old.  I know that no-one does, but I’ve taken to waking up at 3am feeling absolutely terrified about the whole thing.  I think that the fact that my 40th birthday is now only 25 months away might have something to do with it.  I keep seeing old people on telly and they seem really confused and stupid and stuck in a timewarp – and they’re always getting robbed and murdered in their own homes and scammed and stuff.  I want to be one of those whip-smart oldies – like Tony Benn or Germaine Greer – but can I guarantee it?  Are the slow-witted old people I see on TV like that because they were always slow-witted, or have they declined mentally over time?  Having taken the decision not to have children, I am also in a position where I have no-one that I can emotionally blackmail in to sticking a pillow over my face if I become a complete imbecile.

What You Waiting For?

Good question Gwen!  I am almost certainly going to start making some changes.  Priority number one is to move house – it’s ridiculous that neither of us actually like our house or the area that we live in, and it’s time to get ship-shape and get this shit on the market.  We’ve kind of broken this house, though, so it’s going to take a while to actually get it into a sellable state.  Our cats have a fair bit to answer for too – but I can almost guarantee that they will not be pulling their weight when it comes to putting it all right – and there’s a very good chance that they will choose to do poos when someone comes round to view the house.  We may be here for some time, but I’m enjoying looking at new houses and imagining how they will fix every wrong thing in my life just by virtue of not being my current house.

I also think that forcing myself to write a regular(ish) blog, regardless of whether it is funny or clever or not (and to be fair, whenever someone does think that something I’ve written is funny, I usually dismiss them as an idiot anyway) is a GOOD THING.  It’s the mental equivalent of getting out of the house for a bit.

So let’s see how long I can keep this up for…