EDitorial ± 29-Jun-2012

Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Need

Mum's not with us anymore but we still enjoy our Saturday outings to Got The Lot. She's less vocal now and I can park where I want. You can tell from her tin that she likes being out and about.

Best part of a year now since she passed. Funny thing is that, if she was still around, Mum would know exactly when it was. She had a head for dates.

That Saturday - bright as you like - Mum had her cornflakes and I had my croissants, two of those pricey Finest ones. Of a weekend, I like to push the boat out a bit. It would have been nice to share a four-pack with Mum. Better value, too. She'd tried one once with her jam. "Not my thing, David," she'd announced after a tentative bite. I'd finished hers. Waste not, want not.

At 11 o'clock, give or take, we’d headed out to the car. Dad used to drive us. Then Mum used to drive me. Now I drive her.

Got The Lot is on the edge of town. Dad didn't like coming here. He called it Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Need. He'd point to the pile under the sideboard - a juicer, some cork tiles, never mind the rest - then say: "Are we off to fetch more Things..."

Mum would interrupt: "I haven't got round to taking those back yet." So, when poor Dad's heart packed up, we carried on our excursions and it was easier to find a free table in the caff.

The car park was heaving. "Shame," Mum said, winking at me. "I thought we might have the place to ourselves." We crawled past the prize spots. "Let's go round again." Fifteen minutes later we nabbed a corker outside the entrance. "That, David," she said, "is a peach.”

Once inside we did our usual tour from candles through picture frames to soft furnishings. Midday meant lunchtime. Upstairs was the in-store restaurant - "the caff," Mum called it - and we managed to grab a good table. Mum perused the specials, then chose the soup and roll. I went for the jacket with chicken curry.

My potato was good. "Go on, Mum," I said, "try some curry, it won't kill you."

"Since you're my only son," she said, and took a teaspoonful. She grabbed her throat, smiled, and slid to the floor. I thought she was messing around. She could be wicked, my Mum.

Before I knew it, there were paramedics all over the shop. One of them, George, said it was her heart and that she'd most likely recover in the ambulance. I could tell she'd gone.

Got The Lot were really nice about it, even letting me keep the bits we bought that day for free, including a stripy tin that Mum had picked out. She’s in there now.

Saturday, touch of rain in the air, and me and Mum’s tin are off to Got The Lot. I wonder if they'll have curry on today?

(C) Ed Broom 2012

EDitorial ± 28-Jun-2012

Light Lunches: Next Costa, Martlesham

At long, long, last, Martlesham Heath has its very own Jacques Brel themed department store. Ground floor includes a modest Sensational Alex Harvey Band section. Confused and lacking Focus? You won't be if you watch this now.

Seven days ago the ribbon was cut on a shiny and substantial new Next Home & Garden store in up-and-coming Martlesham Heath. Here, in Austerity Britain, the punters are parked on the verges, such is the demand for soft furnishings and Olympics bric-a-brac. With escalators to the left and the right, it's up a floor to "the largest and fastest growing coffee shop chain in the UK". Cheers for Costa, as they say in Southwold.

It's 1pm and seemingly we're not the only ones wanting a light lunch. Not quite queueing out the door, but near enough. Our 20 minute wait is made tolerable by the kindly baristas bringing us long-stayers bottles of water and muffin tops. Not really. Eventually we hit the till -- "sorry for the wait" -- and I'll take a warmed all day breakfast bap, please, plus a white Americano. Normally I'd go back for a coffee after some savoury but there ain't the time.

Plenty of comfy seating with a pleasing view of the Bennetts car park, ideal for people watching. Bap, served with Heinz ketchup, is no more than OK and not a patch on what's available at Langers Snack Bar about 200m away. Best thing is the unassuming raspberry ripple cupcake, a soupcon of sweetness on the side. It's very good and loaded with butter cream. Yum. No whiff of WiFi or papers, shame, but not bad otherwise if you can cope with the queues.

If it was a car -- Enterprise Chevy Lacetti.
If they were passing by -- Gavin Friday.

EDitorial ± 24-Jun-2012

John Bramwell, Ipswich Spiegeltent

Choice is either to hunker down on the official Euro 2012 chair for the England-Italy quarter final, kick-off 7:45pm, or to head to Christchurch Park for an obscure Ip-art gig, kick-off 8pm. I'll forego the potential pain of the former for the potential pleasure of the latter.

Venue is the Spiegeltent, a colourful construction lifted straight from a turn of the century carnival. Wooden floor, tables, mirrors, lights. Rather lovely. As is the voice of one Ethan Ash, gamely on support and doing his darnedest to interact with the somewhat reluctant audience. Nice chap and thanks for the jelly babies.

Headlining tonight is John Bramwell from I Am Kloot. Who? Kloot have been going for a good ten years and probably came closest to hitting the big time when their Sky At Night album was in the 2010 Mercury list. I like to think I know my stuff and I only really know of them via Guy Garvey's 6 Music show. Not even the full three-piece lineup tonight, just Mr Bramwell, the front man. Sometimes one plus guitar is all you need.

Upfront, he manages to persuade the small crowd to gather round instead of hugging the walls, and he's off with that voice, which is something to hear and cherish. He does I Still Do off the last album and it's a thing of beauty. This one's about love ... and disaster, he says, introducing the next number while swigging his pint. He's relaxed, we're relaxed. Convivial is the word.

Feels like there's a handful of hardcore fans here but mostly curious lookers-on, and it isn't long before he's won us over. I've been in Ipswich 3-4 hours so far, he says, and I'm loving it. I plan to be in Ipswich possibly another 3-4 hours. He's like your slightly dissolute art teacher from secondary school. There's an unscheduled intermission when he decides he needs another drink, and it's another 10 minutes before he returns with a Red Bull and vodka. Gods And Monsters is immense. Tonight's been an absolute pleasure, he announces. Agreed.

EDitorial ± 19-Jun-2012


I'll remember that particular Tuesday as the day my head exploded. Quite literally. Every sneeze felt like the Swan Vestas rep, tired from flogging his wares in the firework factory, had nipped into the gents for a cheeky ciggy. B to the A to the N to the G. Burned down to the ground, it was, what with all those Roman candles and rockets. Now the locals miss the distinctive smell of that ol' factory.

Returning from a bike week lunchtime sojourn to the Doubledeck Diner, we'd wheeled our wheels over the A14 and found ourselves on a Ballardian bridleway becoming overgrown. Never fear, we saddled up and skedaddled along through the undergrowth. Looking back, I can almost see the the clouds of nettle pollen. Towards the end of the ride, I was reaching for my standard issue man tissue, i.e. a single piece of kitchen towel.

Back in the air con of the office, it started with an a-choo. And another. Then a third. Again, again, screamed the Teletubbies of the tracheal muscles. Hurry the histamine! Cleanse the cavities! Purge the particles! Each expulsion takes it out of you: not only nasal irritants but an iota of energy. You sneeze, your head rocks back, you lose twenty Mucous Warfare points. Sapped, you are.

The eyes have it. Bad, that is. They itch. You rub them. They water. You dry them. They itch. Et cetera.

Seemed to me like the whole Piriton pantomime carried on for a good half hour, maybe longer. Even when it stopped, it hadn't really. Worst it's been in blimmin' years. Bless me.

EDitorial ± 13-Jun-2012

Barr Red Kola

Take your hols in Scotland and you'll find that your cottage kitchen has three taps: hot, cold, and Irn-Bru. Other chilled beverages are produced, however, from the mighty AG Barr company. Nip into Teighness Stores on Shore Road -- in the village of Arrochar on the bonny banks of Loch Long -- and you'll find not only the 'Bru but also the non-hellish 'ades, viz lemonade, limeade and cherryade, and maybe a cream soda or two. Nestled among these, however, is the grail: Barr Red Kola.

I'd popped into that particular Premier Stores for milk and bread. Fortunately I remembered those essentials and didn't just return with the red stuff. Plonking down my 330ml cans on the counter, the smiling lady felt obliged to tell me that these weren't included in the Barrs three-for-a-pound promotion: each can was daubed with "Special Price 45p". If required, I'd have forked out a quid per tin.

Part of the draw for RK, as we'll lovingly call it, is that as the Wikipedia page says, it's "virtually impossible to find in English shops". Now, it was my very good fortune to stumble across a stash once in a local Ipswich corner shop. They had it for a month or so, then it disappeared like a milk tooth left in a glass of Coke. Thinking back on this, I may have dreamed that whole episode after passing out during a marshmallow sugar rush.

We made sure to bring some back south of the border, Eldest ringing ahead from Glasgow on our final day to ask someone to clean out the stock in that Arrochar store. In Dumbarton Asda -- always wanted to write that sentence opening -- we added to our supplies with a 99p two litre bottle. Sweet. Literally. While there, we also came away with another quintessential foodstuff, a pack of Tunnock's Teacakes. Not the regular ones, mind, but the new dark chocolate variant. Yum. Search now begins for the elusive Tunnock's wafer creams.

EDitorial ± 8-Jun-2012

Spitfire And An Elephant

All those dreams of low-flying aircraft must stem from reading too much JG Ballard. So to stand indoors on a first floor gallery and almost be able to reach out and touch an actual Spitfire: well, you can imagine. A Friday in Glasgow. Welcome to the Kelvingrove.

We've let the train take the strain from Arrochar & Tarbet all the way into Queen Street station. Short hop on the clockwork orange subway from Buchanan Street to Kelvinbridge, short stroll through the park (thanks, helpful lady, for directions), past the statue of Robert Carlyle and we're here. In and wow. Quite the place they have here. Plus free admission. Double wow.

Pick a random hall to start and soon find myself drawn to a mighty odd painting on the far wall. Medium view of a town and dark blue sky with clouds is good in itself. However, in the foreground are three lifelike faces looking upwards, presumably towards the Unidentified Aircraft of the title. Weirdly haunting. It's by one Edward Baird, employed for a while as a war artist. He died young not long after the war. I like it a lot.

Completely different is a model and some old Pathe footage of the Railplane, a proposed propellor-driven form of transport. Idea was that a capsule would glide along on a raised track above a railway line. They built a test line near Glasgow in the 1930s but, despite lots of interest, the money never came through and the poor guy, George Bennie, died bankrupt. It's the very definition of steampunk.

Numerous other personal highlights included the Neon Elvis, Dali's stunning Christ On The Cross in a room by itself, the huge wall painting of Queen Victoria, etc. Plus there's an actual Spitfire, whose wing tips are no more than a shatterproof ruler's length away from the museum's edges, and below, Sir Roger the circus elephant. Go visit.