Archive for March, 2005

Mother Jamie of Ricotta

Link: BBC NEWS | Education | TV chef welcomes £280m meals plan.

You’ve got to hand it to Jamie Oliver who’s all over the TV and Press today. He’s driven what was a small issue right up to the top of the pre-election agenda. He gingerly picked his was through the political minefield, keen not so much to apportion blame but to focus on the pence per portion on the plate.

Dressed in a nice suit, and stumbling gracefully through a Downing Street press conference, he was a far cry from the happy daze kula shaker mockney naked chef of the late 90s. I found his answers to journo questions strangely refreshing rather than PR processed fodder, I liked the fact that he seemed to be thinking of a proper answer, rather than using sound bites. For all his perceived arrogance, he comes across as someone who actually cares about what the Nation eats. And has consequently moved well clear of the TV chef herd to an entirely new league. It’s amazing to think the impact and coverage this has had when compared to say, Lloyd Grossman’s attempt to change hospital food. Channel4 must be loving it, so much so they’ve repeated the series as soon as it finished.

I remember being at school and the dinner ladies trying ‘healthy days’ i.e no chips once a week, and us all moaning about it. School dinners was just something to wolf down before going out to run around like mad. Towards the end of High School I remember taking sandwiches though, in fact the only time I got a detention was for starting a food fight in the canteen.

Perhaps in the future in addition to attendance and results records, (he’s my alma mater), schools will have nutrition reports too? As a wheeze I looked up the last OFSTED report (2001) on my secondary school, Cheadle Hulme High School, now called Cheadle Hulme College. They said:
There are insufficient rooms for food technology and as a consequence work is of a slightly lower standard than in other areas of technology because there are too many groups for the rooms available, which means that lessons have to be taught out of sequence so that students are designing products after they make them.

They are already paying attention to the detail that will improve the appearance of their work, so that when making a pizza for example they wipe away excess puree and arrange their topping in a decorative way.

Food Technology?! It was called Home Economics in my day, and training pupils to arrange toppings on pizza?! I asked my mum what sort of things I used to bring home, and strangely she had my sisters ‘recipe’ book within reach of the phone. So, we used to make things like, scones, bread, scotch eggs, lasagne, soups, curry, cottage pie, stew. etc. All using fresh ingredients from scratch under the careful eye of Ms Harvey.


And is it me or is the choir boy looking, Opus Dei following, science opposing Ruth Kelly (great pic on her own >homepage btw!) just a little bit odd? She reminds me of a bad clone of Winona Ryder in Alien Resurrection….

Back from Oop North… Holidaying in England

Hello, I”ve been in the internet hinterland that is Northern England visiting family and various museums hence the lack of posting. Here’s a what I got up to.

First up, took my two gorgeous nieces and family to Magma in Sheffield. It’s huge, think the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern times 3, and that’s just the bit they renovated, the actually full size mill was over a mile long.. one of dozens in the city employing huge numbers of people. Britain doesn’t have industry like that anymore. It’s weird to think of this as history, as there’s probably people alive who worked at that mill. Talk about dark Satanic mills; still, makes a change from castles and halls. It’s split into fire, water, air and earth sections. It’s a bit Millenium dome in approach, but works better, and you can use a full size JCB claw in the earth section which was great fun for me and my bro in law.

Next stop was the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, where we spent hours exploring, I was granted access to the archive and I finally go to look at the contact sheets of Tony Ray-Jones (of which I’ve written about before). Absolutely fantastic, all the mistakes and china graph mark ups.. loved it. Other great stuff included Smash Robot Family, Morph, IMAX projection room and this great statistic….

Then on to Lincs, and Normanby Hall and a nice peacock. Next day we went to a new retail park near Scunthorpe, where giant outlets sell things to giant sized people… Maybe these huge retail parks will be the museum spaces of the future?

Next a day out to Flamborough head (or something like that) for a chippy lunch and a walk along the headland. Next day we were off into Brigg for a trip to the farmers market, where I bought some cheese of this man, Who when asked the difference between his ‘Double Barrel’ cheese, and his ‘Vintage’ cheese, said “well, this one was susposed to be that one but it went a bit wrong, it’s more of an art than a science cheese making’ Bless that Man and his organic unpasturised fantastic cheese! Were he selling to Tesco’s they’d say, ‘sorry, it’s not what we ordered’ and he’d have to throw it all away. They don’t even sell unpasturised cheese anyway.. and it tasted great. Brigg also boasted a proper butchers, with a queue coming out the door, a sight not seen much in Britain these days.

The last place we saw on the way home was Barney’s Cafe du Chauffeur. Maybe the French text fooled me, in my mind I imagined this place run by a French chef and his English wife. Maybe offering traditional French Trucker food, such as a hearty steak frite, and maybe a slice of tarte au pomme. All washed down with a glass of vin rouge. Alas it served the usual, chips with everything.. Truckers must be THE most unhealthy people in the World.

So, in all, the most time I’ve spent up North proper in over ten years. There were some good things, like fish n chips and little high streets and vast open countryside, some great museums that were outside London. And some bad bits like crap food, massive soulless American style retail parks and desolate run down areas in parts of Sheffield and Bradford having lost the steel and manufacturing trades years ago. Grimsby too had lost it docks, I’m currently reading Cornucopia, by Paul Richardson, here’s what he says on Grimsby: “As it turned out, there was only one place in Grimsby still serving food at ten o’clock.. a big Victorian gin palace recently given a make over by it’s brewery masters. As I contemplated the menu a great weariness came over me, followed by a moment of rage as I realised that, in this once great fishing port, there was not a single item of fish to be had here, bar the tuna mayo sandwich.

a day trip to Oxford

Link: Sir Wilfred Thesiger – Pitt Rivers Museum. Went to see this little exhibition at my favourite museum in the world, Pitt Rivers in Oxford. More about the man here. Anyway, the exhibition was timely, what with British Forces in and around the Southern Iraq right now.

Oxford’s a nice relaxing place to elope for a day or two. We got there Wednesday night, and went out about on the town in the evening. It’s one of the few town that has some sort of night life, rather than a no go area in the evening like most UK city centres. We stumbled on Quod, and decided to stop for dinner. Chicken Terrine for starters and Lamb steak with dauphinoise potatoes and redwine sauce. Yum. Then who walks in? It’s Rick Stein! I went over and told him what a nice bloke he was, here’s a picture

Then the next day the Italian President was in town to pick up an honourary degree, check the link out.. The University’s Public Orator, Professor Richard Jenkyns, will highlight – in Latin – the reasons why Italy’s head of state is being honoured Latin! Liz lent him a motor, however, by driving it into town, he perhaps missed a PR coup by not getting the Park and Ride. The most senior Police Officer there was a Detective Inspector.. full dress uniform, the other Officers said, ‘no pics of the inside of the car’.. then these two stoodunts arrive, and turn out to be the Old Bills Neice and fella, and they get a proper good look inside! Still it was nice acting like a pap for a while.. plus the break gave me a chance to try out my new Nikon D70…

The Time Lord and the Torrent.

So the New Doctor Who episode has been posted as a BitTorrent. I like this quote from Annova.
It is believed to originate from a DVD of the episode sent to a Canadian broadcaster and news of the leak has come as an embarrassment to BBC executives. Surely it’s more of an embarrassment to the CBC who leaked it. Other web musings and whispers: The guy who did it has been caught, or has left a very obvious trail back to himself, (bet he’s shitting it!) The torrent is an rough cut, without much of the sound effects…

Sci-fi fans, eh? No other interest group foams at the mouth nor chomps at the bit quite so much. Scott Bakula said as much in today’s Metro 60 sec interview. I’ve always said that sci-fi fans are a very discerning, loyal, picky and knowledgeable group of people – you definitely feel their presence. You’re aware that they watch the work very closely and that it’s important to deliver good stories and be honest and truthful – otherwise they’re on you.

The thing for the Beeb is, it’s thrown the whole file sharing issue into the spot light. Most TV people still don’t really get online. Radio and Music do, they’ve been offering all Radiio channels live online and up to a week later on demand via radio player for ages, but TV are really going to get caught out by this if they’re not careful. The crazy thing is, with no advertising revenue model to loose, the BBC should be right at the heart of delivering TV content via various means, and iMP is a step in that direction, but it only takes something like this to de-rail things or panic people into making wrong decisions.

Personally I reckon this is a watershed for the BBCTV, it’s the first time one of it’s prime time shows has been pirated pre TX. It’s going to be a massive wake up call to big dramas and blockbusters series.. and like so many things, (internet itself, email, mp3’s, iPods) it always starts with the geeks.

As to watching it, I’m not even a big Doctor Who fan really, so I’ll pass. Actually there seems to be a bit of a die hard fan back lash against watching it… as one Doctor Who sage who sits behind me said today, “I’ve waited 15 years, I can wait three more weeks”.



Check this… Metallica played on a classical guitar and mixed into Take 5. Hear it here. Totally mixed up, but so beautifully played… Amazing covers in a flamenco style, but as Gabriela points out.. “We’re from Mexico, not Spain”, says Gabriela, “and we don’t play flamenco. Our music is more like a blender, with rock’n’roll and jazz. Do you want to hear some Metallica?”

Listen to Mr Chang too, it’s almost housey in rendition. Now I love a good cover version as much as the next man. A personal fave is the Gourds cover of Gin and Juice, which for me, ranks as one of the greatest ‘re-imagining’ of a song I’ve ever heard. Maybe that’s the thing with a cover version.. it’s not just about shifting it into a different style, that’s easy. Take Me First & the Gimmie Gimmies, who do punk covers of easy listening choons, it’s fun, but a gimmick. It’s a lot harder to try and distil the original sentiment into some new sprit.

I found Rodrigo y Gabriela through the increasingly excellent Andrew (a fellow beeber) is ramping up his weekly(ish) show and getting better and better.. well done to the fella, and if you’ve got any unsigned music, he’d love to hear it. mail

Edit Magazine – issue 1

Edge of Darkness.

The subject of violent and shocking images and their place in the media is a subject I’ve covered before on this blog before, here and here.

Getty have a feature on subject in the first issue of their new online mag, Edit. They’ve asked picture editors from publications around the world about what they consider taboo; And the results are interesting. European, particularly French and German publications, push the boundary of what’s acceptable. UK editors tend towards iconic ‘aftermath’ images, and US editors have to pick their way through a much bigger cultural, political and social minefield… It takes conviction and a strong belief in the truth and the power of editorial to publish a photo of hanged and burned Americans in a publication like the LA Times.

The slightly reassuring thing I took away was the fact that no one publishes images like this just for a hike in ratings and circulation, no one had exclusive over any of them. When you’re handling imagery this strong, you don’t mess about.

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
March 2005
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