EDitorial ± 30-Sep-2011

Woodbridge Lunches: Honey & Harvey

— [newer, better review here] —

New cafe, said a friend. In that Woodbridge. Been there yet? I have, he said. Actually, he's far too well-mannered to play Light Lunch Let-It-Ride. Though that's what he was thinking, the blinkin' bounder.

Bit like Cafe Kitsch, Honey & Harvey -- for that is its Ting-Tings name -- is hard to spot. That's prime real estate, bang in the middle of the Thoroughfare, twixt Boots the chemist and Hudson the jeweller, yet oddly camouflaged. We're inside, out of that darn heat, and not entirely sure what the score is. There's a motley selection of pre-packed sarnies on the counter and no obvious menu 'cept from hot drinks. Oh-kay. Time for some Q&A with the slightly scary serving lady.

Can you make up a sandwich? No, she's gone for the day. What cold drinks do you have? None, there's no fridge. Any crisps? Sorry, no. Ever felt you're in a Python sketch? Thus we each grab a prepack, help ourselves to some iced water and head into the belly of the beast. Far too good a day to stay inside so out the back we go: it's oddly busy out there though the shady spots are taken. BLT, BTW, was unexceptional.

Andy ducks back inside to fetch sweet stuff, for we must have cake. He returns with a monster slice. It's good. It's very good. Halfway through a mouthful, the formidable lady appears with my flat white: sorry, she says, it got specked with some chocolate sprinkles. Oh. In my mind, I said I wasn't happy and asked her to make another one. But no words emerged. Wasn't hot enough either. Hopefully you'll have a more satisfactory visit.

If it was a car -- Koopa Clown Car.
If they were passing by -- Mr Tumble.

EDitorial ± 26-Sep-2011

TT1112, Week 3

Ping! Out go Rene and PC Andy: thanks, boys. Pong! In come Steve and Kennedy: welcome, men. Unlike Arsene, we've been busy in the transfer market. It's long been recognised that the BT Defiants team is a sleeping giant. And with less than a year to those Olympics, we need to get serious and get ourselves Back Up Where We Belong. Anyone got Gere's number?

We so mean it this season that we've already postponed one game where we'd have had only two players, thus giving away three points to the opposition. That was the old Defiants. You want promotion? Well, promotion costs. And right here is where we start playing. Cue the music.

Down to that Felixstowe in the SteveMobile. Conditions: mild. There's tonights opponents, the redoubtable John, Frank and Cyril. If Les had been there too, that would have been All The King's Men. Wild beasts, the lot of 'em. In brief:

  • Ed got all three -- naturally, ahem -- though sweated in beating Cyril, losing the first end
  • Kennedy also got all three -- nice! -- improving as the night wore on to the point of being on fire against defenceless Frank
  • Steve said hi to division 3 with a tough game against canny Frank, going down in straight ends, but he did well to bounce back and win his other two

Graciously, Steve offered the doubles to Ed and Kennedy, who then made short work of grabbing that final point. Opening match -- 9-1 -- gotta be happy with that.

EDitorial ± 23-Sep-2011

Michael Nyman, The Spa, Felixstowe

Idly browsing online, I saw a jarring combination of two proper nouns: first was Michael Nyman, second was Felixstowe. Like a Tex Avery character, I shook my head and re-read the announcement:

Pacitti Company presents the World Premiere of On Landguard Point
— Composed by Michael Nyman
— Performed by Michael Nyman & The Michael Nyman Band with soprano Marie Angel
The Spa Pavillion, Felixstowe, Suffolk, Friday 23 September

The great Greenaway collaborator at The 'Stowe? Crazy! That'd be like seeing Philip Glass in Norwich. Have to admit that I had to double-check that this was the man himself and not some sort of avant-garde tribute act, more in keeping with The Spa's more usual fare.

Down the A12 we drove, parked up, and walked in to take our seats. Immediately clear that, although a good crowd, it wasn't a sell-out (shame), and that the event had attracted what Neal Stephenson might call Persons of Quality. House lights dimmed, on came the musicians, followed a minute later by a diminutive fella in big specs. He bowed to very generous applause, took his seat at the piano, and off we went. Whoosh!

Those boys and girls in the band can't half play. It's highly technical stuff and must be a devil to perform. Sound is hard to describe but carries you away, similar to being in the crowd for Philip Glass. There's barely a moment between each piece, no time to breathe, and Mr Nyman doesn't say a word, merely acknowledging the clapping. I guess that's fine for both parties.

First half is a selection of his filmic bits, while second half is the actual premiere of the specially written piece for On Landguard Point. For this, enter Marie Angel, the soprano lady in red, who adds further to the immensity of the performance. Didn't catch much of the libretto but what a noise. Huge tip of the hat to the Landguard Point folks for putting this on.

EDitorial ± 19-Sep-2011

Light Lunches: One Stop, Kesgrave

Never mind where we planned to go. That plan, like a iron bedstead on a rotten floor, fell through. Best if we invoke contingency plan "kappa" and set GPS co-ordinates accordingly. Gentlemen, grease your chains, mount your gel cushions and off we jolly well for a light lunch awaits.

Perfectly pleasant pedalling all along the notorious Grange Farm psychopath, pealing left on to Bell Lane with a piratical right into Penzance Road. Large lettering on the Post Office is full of promise: Christine's Pantry. Maybe because it's 1:30pm, but the cupboard is bare save for an unappetising refrigerated sausage roll two-pack and a solitary doughnut. Could learn a trick from the equivalent PO Stores up the road at Martlesham. Retreating rapidly, we pass the local Indian, pharmacy, butcher's (closed for lunch) and beauty salon to find the "open everyday" One Stop.

Wow. One Stop is to the Kesgrave PO Stores as Morrison's is to a Moscow mini-mart. Stacks of stock, wall-to-wall chiller cabinets of soft drinks and booze, offers, newspapers, you name it. All the pre-packed big names are here including prestigious Pork Farms and workaday Wall's. We're both suckered in by the £3 meal deal: can't resist a Sutherland deli "chicken & bacon caesar" wrap and bag o' Walkers and OJ. What's that, Andy, you've forgotten your wallet? Sheesh.

In search of more inspiring surroundings than the surrounding bungalowville, we head back down Bell Lane to the "Long Strops", a bridleway on the southern edge of Kesgrave. Weaving back in to Grange Farm, we finally espy a bench in Cedar Wood Green, a newly built area designed for local teens. While we're lunching, a couple of kids turn up for a kickaround on the enclosed 3-a-side pitch. And look, the ball's bounced over the fence and is heading our way. Here's my big chance. Rolling it forward, I glance up and chip the ball back, just clearing the fence. Sweet: still got it.

If it was a car -- Smart Old Blue.
If they were passing by -- Ken Loach.

EDitorial ± 14-Sep-2011

Harvest At Jimmy's, 2011

It's festival time, again, as the fondly remembered It's Immaterial once sang. Driving away from home, 10 miles or less, and we're bang into the car park, peasy. Accompanying Eldest and friend to V last month, we were herded into queues past sniffer dogs. Heading into Harvest At Jimmy's, stewards are all smiles and invite us to help ourselves to a free apple.

First order of the day is food. We've come to the right place. Buddha bowl? Risotto? Pure pie? Wood-fired pizza? Ostrich? Oh my, the choice is overwhelming. Mine's the chicken and spicy bean fajita from Chilli Gone Barmy -- lovely van -- hers is the lamb wrap. To be stretched out in the sun on a rug in the middle of a field in an English September is a fine state of affairs. Background music from the main stage helps too.

Can't miss Jay Rayner, both on stage or strolling around the site. There's the Guardian's very own Matthew Fort. That lady in the black is Fay Ripley. They're all here, even that there Jamie Oliver, apparently here to judge a sausage-eating competition. Such is his rock star status that if you're not in Jimmy's tent half an hour prior to his appearance, you won't see him.

Some six or so hours after arriving, I make my way down to the front of the main stage, hoodie up against the fresh drizzle. For I am specifically here to see Neil Hannon, aka The Divine Comedy. On he saunters, suave and bescarfed. No band at present, just himself at the piano stroke guitar. He's off to a flyer, failing to remember all the lyrics of The Lost Art Of Conversation and moving on to older material. Somehow that wicked charm carries the crowd and he can do no wrong, from an idyllic Perfect Lovesong to the Craggy Island sounds of Songs Of Love. He's briefly phased when a guy shouts out "I Love You!". Back at the keys, there's an epic Our Mutual Friend: love that song, and the sun's back out, and a dazzling rainbow arches over the stage. Final song is Tonight We Fly. Perfect. Then he's off.

Kids really enjoyed The Feeling: they put on a highly professional feelgood show, not unlike The Hoosiers last year. Parents retreated before the headline act, Eliza Doolittle, in search of a warming cuppa coffee. Could see her long legs from half a mile away. Sun long gone, did you think you'd brought enough layers? Think again.