Saturday 25 November 2017

39 years

That's the gap between the first time and the last time my bloke ate in Mac Donald's.
Here for your delectation is an interview with him on the subject:


                                                 Dr Lockett eating a small cake in Lourdes.

Me: "So, Dr Lockett. When did you first sample a Mac D's product?"

Dr L: "It was in LA in 1979 during a full-on filming session for - err, I forget the film title, one of those USA youth nostalgia things - American pudding or something. Anyway, I was in a band who were performing in a prom dance scene. Lunchtime arrived and we were bused to the place of the yellow arches - in McCarthy Vista (odd road name, eh?)
As a vacillating vegan/vegetarian/macrobiotic type, I remember feeling as if I was entering a giant plastic version of a Hieronymus Bosch painting full of hellish meat smells. Anyway, I decided to go the 'whole hog' as it were and ordered a Big Mac."

Me: "Nice?"

Dr L: Putrid. And vast. I also had strips of greasy cardboard called 'fries' and a vanilla milk shake the size of Florida."

Me: "So you felt quite full up then?"

Dr L: "Understatement."

Me: "So, fast forward to 2017, and your second Mc D tasting event. Why, in fact, did you go in one of these establishments."

Dr L: "Despite hanging around in a queue outside the 'Capitol' opera house, no-one had a ticket to sell, or rather there was some woman but she refused my reasonable offer and flounced off home to watch Netflix and probably bin the ticket rather than give way . . . where was I? Oh, yes. So I had to buy an actual box-office ticket and felt guilty about spending money on food too "- (sob).

Me: "And Mc Do was on the square, quick and cheap."

Dr Lockett: "Yes . . .yes. I admit, I entered the place."

Me: Did you see any leering clowns?"

Dr L: "No. But also few actual people. They seem to have installed sort of petrol-pump machines where you poke the screen to order what you want - or at least have resigned yourself to eating ."

Me: "Fish Mcmuffin? Locust-burger? a bag of salad?"

Dr L: "Don't hate me but . . . I did it - purely as an experiment and/or conceptual art piece. 39 years had passed so I ordered exactly the same things."

Me: Big Mac, fries and a vanilla milk shake."

Dr L: Nods. "Except they don't do milk shakes now. So I had a beer. That was okay."

Me: And the 'food'.

Dr L: "Putrid but not so vast - possibly the difference between the French and American market. I'd imagine now in LA you'd have to bring a trailer to 'take out' a Big Mac and fries."

Me: "What was the taste like:"

Dr L: "Fries - greasy cardboard - at least some things in life stay the same, eh? The meat. Oof. Right, let me think about this . . . tasteless, anaemic, steamed beige flannel, with a hint of kerosene."

Me: "Sound like the dog treats we give the hounds if they don't bugger off when we're on a walk."

Dr L: "No. Those are quite tasty."

Me: "So, will you be going into the place of the yellow arches again in 39 years time."

Dr L: "It's a date. I'll be a hundred. If I make it we'll both go and have a dystopia burger, fried grass and something distilled out of wasps."

Me: "OK. You're on. Thank you Dr Lockett for your time."


Jim Delligatti, inventor of the Big Mac. He died at the age of 98 so he must have steered well away, and consumed a lot of broccoli.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Building No 61

Building and pool - our local freshwater pool, fed by the incredible 'Alet' source that just runs and runs - even after this amazingly dry summer.
The pool is only open between July and September; it's then cleaned and emptied and spends the rest of the year inviting people like me to imagine 1960s film set scenarios involving bronzed, perfectly -teethed people clad in candy-spotted bikinis or striped swim trunks with belts (see marvellous pic below), keep fit sessions on the poolside, martinis, and possibly Burt Lancaster passing through on his tour of residential pools in the neighbourhood.

Alet's wonderful 60s? early 70s? architecture

 A couple of groovy guys with belted trunks    And a happy spotty lady

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Taking the time

just to look - and refresh the other senses.
I have a fairly busy morning - post office, emails, phone calls, housework, editing, etc, and I nearly didn't join Mark on a dog walk, but I did, just to the point where I doubled back across the fields and they continued onwards. As a 'psychogeographic' nerd, I love to see familiar objects including people (and dogs) from far away in relation to myself.
So, I stood, or rather, leant into a sturdy cypress hedge out of the brisk northerly wind and waited for them to come into view along the sandy track that leads into the hills. I must have missed them, or they took a different path so I didn't see the figure of Mark and the three varying sizes of dog shapes pacing the path. But I did observe in detail everything else: the sunlight encroaching onto the distant hills, highlighting in green-gold every clump of brave trees that cling to their summits, the swift multi-toned clouds, black dots of birds, a red tractor - stark in contrast to all the autumn yellows and browns, the scent of cold earth and trodden grass, the sounds of nothing other than wind in branches.
It was perhaps only seven minutes or so, but nourishing for my senses that were about to be put back into normal daytime activities.

Thursday 9 November 2017

I can't believe it's not, was, is, might be, might have been, maybe never again, butter

Interesting how we all act on 'scientific discoveries', or on what 'they' tell us - they being government groups set up to inform us about what we should be eating and doing in order to maintain our health.
I recall the NO FAT scare in the mid eighties? well, for the last few decades in fact. I had friends who went on scary diets where they would only drink skimmed milk, eat no-fat yogurt and special no-fat cereal bars, and cook with one squirt of an oil spray - not even a squirt, a microscopic misting of oil.

I was looking for an 80s diet food image but couldn't resist the sauna exercise suit . . .

We kept on with the butter - in fairly modest quantities. It tastes nice, where as Utterly Butterly, does not. We kept sloshing the oil into bolognese, stir-fries, curries and so on, and after having blood tests for a medical 'M.O.T' discovered that our cholesterol levels, etc, were fine.
It's like eggs in the 1970s. After Edwina Currie's (what sort of a name is that . . .) declaration that salmonella was present in most of the UK's eggs, sales crashed and four million hens were destroyed. It seems she had meant to say 'much' rather than most; what a difference a tiny word can make. However I think 'much' would have still had a fairly drastic outcome.
And how many veg and fruit a day is it now? Five? ten, eight and half, does that count peas? How many peas is a portion? Who decides all this and how much fruit and veg do they eat?
We're having a butter shortage in France at the moment which has been compared to shortages during the war. Shelves are devoid of the rectangular foil packets but plenty of Marge-U-Like, or whatever the French equivalents are. Apparently this is due to lower milk yields, a bad grazing year (dry weather) and massive exports of butter, cream and pastries to the newly-French patisserie-loving Chinese, who will no doubt in time be having a health crisis and told to eat, 'I can't believe it's not butter' instead.


                                                                         mm, yum

Rationing would probably be good, for our own sakes as well as the long-suffering dairy cows. Less butter, from better cared for animals. Anyway, we should all eat less of everything in our overloaded part of the world: less fat, certainly less sugar, less alcohol, less meat; more cabbage and lentils, and more education about how to cook, shop, avoid food manufacturers hype, and take anything 'they' say with a massive shovel full of salt.


Monday 6 November 2017

Friday 3 November 2017

Back from computer holiday

not that the ailment has gone away, but I've just decided to write through the pain . . . such a hero.
Trigeminal Neuralgia. What a bastard thing. It has been called the worst pain known to man - yippee, and it is certainly pretty vile.
I think I have a type which is a little unusual - always against fashion, that's me . . . most people have a 'typical' TN which seems to be set off by touching the face, cleaning teeth, etc; mine (I hate to say this - as if I'm rather attached to the thing!) appears to be rather more random, and I suspect is linked to another pain - in the neck - literally. I've had this one on and off for about thirty years and various tests have revealed nothing. I reckon it's one of the pair of Submandibular glands that reside under one's jaw bone and produce saliva - my personal theory, and one that was crushed by a particularly vicious old 'specialist' I saw a couple of years back who told me the two could not possibly be related. Excuse me, I live with this . . . you don't.
So, what's it like, this TN thing?
Imagine some repulsive and abusive old relative that you only ever see once a decade phoning you up and telling you they are going to come and stay for a while. Before you can protest, they are at the door, pushing it open and hauling their case up the stairs. They settle in, take the best armchair and show you their new range of taser weapons which they will zap you with if you don't do exactly what is required.
You creep about doing all the right things or what you imagine are the right things, but inevitably they are not and you receive a few warning stings in the face. You know they are not going to move out in a hurry so continue to walk on eggshells, placate, move quietly, but then remember that the old sod actually likes taunting you, and whatever you attempt to do to improve the situation, won't. New tasers appear: ones that send zig-zags of hot electricity coursing through your teeth, tongue, scalp until you weep.
Yep, it's that bad. After a few days you start to contact the bailiffs (doctors/acupuncturists/neurologists, etc) to try and evict the offenders, now well and truly ensconced in your sitting room, feet up on the sideboard and all the weaponry lined up.
Last time, the growling Dickensian uncle as I like to see my own particular TN, grudgingly packed up his torture equipment after a month and shuffled off to catch the bus back to wherever he came from. I sighed the biggest sigh of relief ever and started my life up again. This time, he's outstaying his 'welcome' and more bailiffs will have to be contacted. In the meantime, I've realised it doesn't make a salt grain of difference if I write or not - something I have been avoiding as it seemed to make the pain worse, so, YES, I can lock myself in a room he doesn't know about and get back to my latest book at least.