Monday, 31 December 2018

Board game, never boring.....

Christmas is a time for families, so they say, and during the season, every family finds its inner board game, and suffers the attendant yawns. This year proved to be a game changer for me, when Younger Niece introduced me to the most deranged activity since It's a Royal Knockout; I am talking about Bugs in the Kitchen. No arena for the slow and meditative types this, the chief characters of this game by Ravensburger are a pair of electronic bugs, ingenious little gadgets that when switched on, charge head-on through a morph-able labyrinth of knives, spoons and forks. The aim of the game is to capture the little buggers into one of four "dens" each presided over by an individual player. In turn, each player rolls a die to determine what part of the labyrinth to gain permission to alter, thus modifying the progress of the charging bugs and increasing her or her chances of netting a bug in his or her den. Each entry by either of the bugs into whatever den wins the player a token, and the player with the most tokens at the end of each game is the winner. Sounds daft? It is, and gloriously so, affording Christmas revelers, weary with food, booze and seasonal bonhomie a post-seasonal rush of adrenalin. Believe me, this innocuous game reduces otherwise sane and hungover adults to nearly-hysterical ciphers begging and pleading the little plastic pests to move in their direction. Friend, these electronic amis will light your fire and ring your bell and fill you with such conviviality towards the insect world that you will never again swat away a fly or try to murder a wasp. Somewhere, out there in the wider universe, I'll bet that BITK groups are forming leagues and holding heats and championships, alight with joy as the bugs charge about the labyrinth. Sadly, I won't be joining them. Come 2019, I'll be returning to sober normality - well, normal for me. A happy New Year to all.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Crumpets, Kermit and A Christmas Carol

One day, a few short weeks ago – possibly because of the newly-fledged bite of the colder weather - visions of hot, buttered crumpets danced in my head. That night, to my delight, I witnessed an advertisement for Warburton’s version of the same, presented by the finest bunch of troupers that twentieth-century puppeteers ever spawned. Friend, I hesitate not to inform you that I LOVE the Muppets. I have always had a soft spot for Miss Piggy and Fozzy and above all, Kermit the frog – and there they were, my favourite puppets – Fuppets? – extolling the virtues of my bonne bouche of choice. Needless to say, I went out the next day and added liberally to the pensions of the Warburton shareholders, and have been doing so since. It is impossible to mention the Muppets at this time of year, of course, without throwing in a credit for their movie interpretation of that Christmas story by Charles Dickens. Ah, how the Inimitable would have approved of the Muppet's A Christmas Carol! How he would laughed at Gonzo masquerading as himself, the author of the tale, alongside of Rizzo Rat, and to see popular actors and cartoon characters bring home the story of redeemed greed to today’s audiences. And how he would have lauded the understated performance of the unassuming Kermit in the role of the beaten-down Bob Cratchit. And I’ve no doubt that Dickens would rage to discover that, 160 years following its publication, the message of A Christmas Carol is at least as relevant as in the Victorian environment of inequality and exploitation. On that note, I’ll finish this frog-blog and wish all readers a happy Christmas and in the words of the immortal Tiny Tim, say “bless us, everyone”.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Night and Day

If you have ever fantasised about spending an afternoon in a 1930’s pastel paradise, with guys in dapper suits and gals in flapper dresses partying to the strains of the saxophone, then the Night and Day: 1930’s Fashion and Photographs exhibition, current at the Fashion and Textile Museum (83 Bermondsey Street) is for you. The items of clothing are organised into themed tableaux bearing sumptuous names like “Happy Days are Here Again” and “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”, followed up by “Thirty from the 1930’s”, that is, thirty photos of Cecil Beaton’s fashion creations. Really, your eyes will pop and your mouth water at the line-up of frothy, frilly day dresses and luxuriant evening gowns in the understated styles of the 1930’s. And the curators haven’t shied away from showing the darker side of life back then. In the Smaller Gallery, Brother Can You Spare a Dime is a rolling film montage showing the rise of fascism and revealing the shocking social inequality of the time. But hurry: you have only got till January 20, 2019, to see this exhibition.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.....

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
Old houses are daunting
The ghosts are a-haunting
The bats are a-flapping
And ghouls are a-tapping….and you’d better fear….’cos I’m here….wooooo-oooooh!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
The staircase is creaky
The rodents are squeaky
The attics are musty
And basements are dusty….and you’d better fear….’cos I’m here….wooooo-oooooh!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
The dark nights are scary
You’re right to be wary
‘Cos banshees are screeching
Long fingernails reaching….and you’d better fear….’cos I’m here….wooooo-oooooh!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
The werewolves are howling
And phantoms are prowling
And zombies and witches
Eat corpses with stitches…. and you’d better fear….’cos I’m here….wooooo-oooooh!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With skeletons dancing
And ghost horses prancing
With Gorgons a-glaring
And their eyes staring….and you’d better fear….’cos I’m here….wooooo-wooooh!

Thursday, 11 October 2018

To 100 and Beyond – with Rachel’s Greek Yoghurt

Crunchy, creamy, munchy, dreamy, mouth-watering – it is difficult to describe Rachel’s Greek Yoghurt without descending into clich├ęs. Yet, this product has compelled me to contribute sound bites that express satisfaction with this - confection? – dessert? – treat? – truly, Rachel’s Greek Yoghurt defies classification. My only awareness is that when my upper oral part cries for a snack that is NOT laden with excess fat, salt or sugar, yet is a delight on the tongue and in the tum, then Rachel’s is the one. From start to finish, I thrill to the entire gastronomic experience, peeling aside the metal foil of the top tier to reveal the semi-sweet granules of granola, and then mixing these munchy bits gently with the softer, creamier stuff that lies beneath, followed by the indescribable pleasure of eating the crunchy, creamy, munchy, dreamy, mouth-watering, tongue-licky but never icky-sticky sensation that is Rachel’s Greek Yoghurt. Not being a clinician, I cannot verify the health benefits. But I do say that if healthy food always tasted as good as this, then – ye gods! We’d all live to 100 – and beyond. Single pots of Rachel’s Greek Yoghurt retail for about £1 – hurry, while stocks last….

Monday, 10 September 2018

The Vanguard of Feminine Footwear

Readers of this column will be aware of my high regard for feminine shoes with low heels. Just the same, to remind those of you in the know and to inform those of you who are not, I am in constant notional warfare with a manufacturing base that has failed to recognize that the feminine foot does not differ greatly in structure from that of the male ped. And that the working day of the average female runs – mostly - in parallel to that of her male counterpart. Yet, instead of wearing similar, comfortable and high-quality shoes as the boys, those of us in possession of the XX chromosome are bound to attach bizarre, ornamental appendages to our lower extremities, all in the name of fashion. Worse again, us double-exers who refuse to toe the line stand in danger of being excluded from polite and professional society – we haven’t forgotten you, Nicola Thorp. With this in mind, it was a nice surprise to stumble upon these bright, wearable foot vehicles. Retailing at £59.99 and bearing the Van label, available colours include pink and black. The soft, suede effect uppers are in endearing contrast with the white, chunky sole. Said heels are finished appropriately with the red-lip Van logo, and tied up with Van signature laces. Teaming perfectly with skirts and leggings, shorts and full-length trousers – even peeping cutely from underneath evening dresses - what is not to love?

Friday, 27 July 2018

Why life is a beach...

On the afternoon of THAT day, I filled the bath with warm water, bathed and towelled up. But I did not unplug the bath; no, I left the scented pool in situ, and I spent the evening dipping in and out, refreshing and relaxing as the fancy took me, between taskes on the settee, sipping iced water and contemplating pages of print. I had dissed off other options - beaches, parks, squares - as involving merciless sun and murderous public transport. With the kitchen nearby, and a ready supply of teabags and milk, bread and salad, drinks and snacks were ever at hand. Take one couch, a tower fan and jug of warer - why, life is a beach, and I love to lie upon it....