EDitorial ± 24-Apr-2009

Ipswich Lunches: The Sanctuary, St Nicholas Centre

April 24th. Ipswich town centre. Today, in the sun, Andy's playing a runner named Francis 7 while I'm playing Logan 5. Worringly, our hand crystals have begun to blink red, which is why we need to outrun the sandmen (played by Roy Keane and his dogs) and seek Sanctuary off Cromwell Square. Follow?

This restaurant is relatively new and occupies most of an attractive glass atrium that's been melded onto the redundant St Nicholas church. As ever, consult the comprehensive Simon Knott for the full story. Andy had turned up to discover most tables had been reserved; we headed for some outside seating, peaceful among the gravestones. Some nice stuff on the menu, plus specials too. A friendly lady came to scribble down our order -- she sells sanctuary savouries -- and left us to sip ginger beer and contemplate our short span on Duran Duran's homeland.

Look up and you'll spy the utilitarian St Vincent House and the reclad Ipswich Central towerblock. Look down and you'll see a prawn, crayfish & tuna wrap, c/w well-dressed salad. That's quality. And there's a half-decent array of newspapers. And the breakfast sounds good. And it's buoyantly bustling inside there. And everything's Fairtrade. And there's lots of posters for a forthcoming gig by Ralph "Tickle On The Tum" McTell. Oh kay.

Time to pop back inside and peruse the coffee menu. Although neither's on the list, the nice lady's perfectly happy to produce both a mocha and a macchiato. Cake, must have cake: carrot, it is, and very good, like the coffee. Very little wrong with the world when you have a strong cuppa java, a big ol' slice of cake and you're sitting out in the sun idly chatting.

If it was a car -- Toyota Aygo with a fish on the back.
If they were passing by -- David Essex.

EDitorial ± 23-Apr-2009

Keane Appointed To Manage Ipswich

See more photos of the band at ITFC Shock news today as Keane were confirmed as the new managers of Ipswich Town Football Club. The popular piano rock band, winners of the Breakthrough Act category at the 2005 Brit Awards, are believed to have signed a two album deal with the club. There is also the option of an annual summer gig at Portman Road in conjunction with the V Festival.

The Sussex trio, comprising Tom Chaplin, Tim Rice-Oxley and Richard Hughes, are currently in the midst of their Perfect Symmetry world tour. Yesterday, they flew directly into Stansted from their concert at the Brisbane "Tivoli" to finalise negotiations with the club. After signing autographs for some lucky fans and examining players' iPods, they held a brief press conference before jetting off for a sold-out gig at the Osaka "Big Cat".

"On a day like today, so full of sunshine, is it any wonder that we're head over heels with today's announcement?" quipped an ITFC spokesman. "It doesn't get better than this," he continued. "With their plangent chords and epic lighter-waving melodies, we feel that these lads have the ambition to take Ipswich town spiralling back to the top flight of English football." He added: "We're immensely proud of this club's pop-powered past, from our unique 1963 appointment of Jackie Wilson through Barry "Eve Of Destruction" McGuire to The Band's Robbie Robertson (now immortalised in a statue outside the ground) and beyond. Sadly, Jim Morrison failed to get us into the play-offs. We wish him luck back in the studio and on the live circuit."

"Me and the boys are delighted to be given this opportunity," said Tom Chaplin, lead vocalist. "Nothing beats that magic moment between you and a huge crowd, and we look forward to bringing the joy back to Ipswich. Plus it'll be nice not simply to be known as That Bloke Out Of Keane."

Tim Rice-Oxley, winner of a 2004 Ivor Novello songwriting award, added: "We've always wanted to challenge ourselves, so when Steve Lamacq tipped us off about this opening, we jumped at the chance. We're really excited about getting started with pre-season training as soon as we've done T In The Park. And no, we don't see any rivalry with Travis landing the job at Carrow Road."

EDitorial ± 22-Apr-2009

TT0809, Week 18

And it's over. Season started WBW on 09/09, a game in which (a) Ed scraped all three, (b) Andy was injured, (c) Kev should have won a game and (d) Ed/Kev lost the doubles. Plus ca change, if you'll pardon my A-level French.

Arrived late to find Andy (dark blue BTL top) struggling against Hard Rock Cafe Phuket, our man playing way too defensively and staring down the wrong end of four matchpoints. Somehow, he survived and won the fifth. Nice one.

Easy win for Ed (black Rave), then here comes Kev (Kung Foo Fighter) against PlainGrey. Waddya know, Kev plays a blinder to gain his 6th point of the season. Another stroll for Ed and it's played four, won four to Team Defiant.

Then it all goes a bit Donkey Kong. Andy, who's not at the races, and Kev, who's mislaid his betting slip, both slip up. Ed lands his third, and this turns out to be our last point of the night. Not great, esp. since two-thirds of the opposition normally play in the bottom division.

Another season done, and we're done for. Done enough to stay up, we think, meeting our challenging but achievable objective. Pats on the back all round.

EDitorial ± 16-Apr-2009

From A Little Acorn To A Royal Oak

According to Radiohead's 2nd single, Anyone Can Play Guitar. That was back in 1993. Whipping forward to a dismal Thursday evening in April 2009, I was in a small crowd to witness Ella The Eldest's first live gig. I knew that she was going to fulfil Thom Yorke's prediction. I didn't know that she'd be singing too. Takes some bottle to stand up there.

Ella and Beth had been attending an Easter workshop at the newly opened Punch Studios in downtown Ipswich. Starting on the Bank Holiday Monday, the attendees had split into three groups and had picked a couple of songs to learn. Like something off the telly, they'd been told that they would be performing these same songs, live, in three days' time. Yikes. Their selection:

  • The Coral -- Dreaming Of You
  • Kings Of Leon -- Bucket

Their group had included one older talented lad who would do the trickier guitar parts and do the vocals. In a reality show stylee, he told 'em on the Wednesday that he couldn't make the gig on Thursday. Everyone else take one step back except Ella.

Here's 20 seconds of poor quality mobile phone footage from the jam night at The Royal Oak, Ipswich:

They did good, did Ella + Beth + Sol + the drummer + studio owner Joe. Afterwards, Webby from the Punch Academy came up to me: "How proud are you?" How proud am I? Hugely.

EDitorial ± 14-Apr-2009

TT0809, Week 12

What a match. Team who'd gone down badly in the first game came sprinting out of the blocks to take an early and unexpected lead, then got pegged back and ultimately defeated. Enough about that other match tonight, the remarkable 4-4 game between Chelsea and Liverpool: how did those daring Defiants do?

Up against Burch, Strutt and Pulham, executioners by appointment to Her Majesty, and it's balmy in the hut. First blood to us, Ed gliding regally past Brian. No surprise when Grenvyle, Prince of Scotts, levelled the score. And then, with timing fit for a coronation, enter King Kev. He waved, he weaved, he had a matchpoint ... and blew it, like a Prince Philip remark. Ah, how different the principality might have looked had he won.

Ed puffed and panted and handed his unbeaten crown to Colin, Strutting like a peacock. Breakdown of the monarchy ensued, though Grenvyle did land a couple of ends. Here's Ed to claim another remote colony, momentarily making St Margaret's regret their decision to bring back the Burch.

Last game of the night and a chance for Ed & Kev to disprove the popular notion that they can't play doubles, with Grenvyle's dead leg providing the scoring. We're up 2-1, they win the 4th to take us into the 5th. Which we lose. Still, time to make it to the empty bar to catch the first half highlights.

EDitorial ± 9-Apr-2009

Light Lunches: Sainsbury's, Warren Heath

With Her Maj down the road at Bury St Edmunds meting out the Maundy Money, time once again to invoke a fine tradition dating back one full year (come in Kesgrave Kitchen): let's head out on the Thursday before Good Friday. Bit of a brainwave to touch neither the A14 nor A12 and instead take the Felixstowe Road, passing the back route to the Orwell Crossing and the Suffolk showground (oops, Trinity Park) to a well known orange branded superstore. Salute big Sainsbury's at Warren Heath.

Quality start with an absolutely prime parking spot outside the main entrance, the one you never ever get. For years, there was an OK cafe stuck on the far right hand side, almost part of the overspill area. Like an ageing film star, this place has had a lot of work done in the last couple of years and has re-emerged, well, larger. Cafe 2.0 is nicely curved & refurbed, mixing comfy sofas with more practical tables. Chiller has a decent range of J2Os and other soft drinks, much unlike The Garland. You queue, you read the overhead boards, you order, you find a seat. Food appears to be freshly prepared and, unlike certain other every-little-helps places, hasn't been sitting around for hours.

Within these walls, we're subject to the usual customer and colleague (for colleague, read staff) announcements, eg cleaner to aisle 9, and propaganda, eg 25% off all Tu clothing, etc. Credit, though, for providing some free newspapers: I spy Independent + Express + Sun. Food arrives within 10 minutes brought by an unsmiling lady laden with condiments. Those riff-raff can't be trusted not to half-inch the ketchup. Brown sauce, please, to spice up my artery-loving Jamie Oliver-approved All Day Mega Brunch:

2 x ( egg + sausage + bacon + tomato ) + chips + beans + mushrooms

Caloried up, my receipt informs me that "Using a Nectar card today you would have earned 10 points". Ain't life full of regrets. Up I get to requeue for dessert. Needing to balance those scales a tad, mine's the breakfast muffin with oats, cranberries, and other forest floor foodstuffs. Coffee? Of course! Surprised to see it listed, that'll be a double macchiato, please, nice lady. Wait there while I make it, she says, so I freeze and observe proceedings. All looks good. And by golly, it is good, really good, very very good indeed. Her skill? Expensive machine? Who knows or cares? Top cuppa java, to be sure, and an unexpectedly pleasant experience all round.

If it was a car -- Renault Grand Scenic.
If they were passing by -- Victoria Wood.

EDitorial ± 3-Apr-2009

Light Lunches: The Garland, Rushmere

Last week we ticked off one of the best named roads in town, that being Coprolite Street near Coffeelink. This week it's time for another, the marvellously monikered Humber Doucy Lane, home to Ipswich Wanderers FC, severe speed bumps and a pub. Stare long and hard into that tiny photo and you'll see some lovely lettering proclaiming this to be The Garland on (lower-case) humber doucy lane.

During a discussion about remaining eateries within biking distance of IP5 3RE, I'd mentioned this place. As it happens, our regular chauffeur returned from the G20 so that was all by the by. Outside on an overcast day is a sign saying "lunches all day", which is handy. Inside on the bar is a menu listing those same lunches, which is spooky. I'm already underwhelmed by the poor soft drink selection. Only one J2O flavour, no ginger beer, and I'm left with a miniscule mixer ginger ale: this ain't no Cherry Tree.

That menu is a brilliantly boiled-down to the bone selection of yer typical Englishman's essentials: chilli, curry, lasagne, chips, pie. Wot no lunchtime specials. On the flipside, it's straightforward to pick from so few options, and, to be fair, there's baguettes too. We order and take the drinks over to a free table among the horse brasses. On the wall hangs a clock from HMS Bear, like some discarded National Treasure prop. Half expect to see Nicolas Cage loitering nearby: why the long face?

We sit, we chat, we wait. And wait. HMS Bear ticks. And tocks. We started off hungry. We become hungrier. Should have bought a bag of salt & vinegar for starters. At last, a bloke who's chatting on his mobile brings our food over: "Pie?", he asks. I take this to be an oblique reference to the irrational number and mathematical constant since we've been waiting this long:

pi x 10 minutes

Course, my sausage & onion pie + mash + soft cabbage + carrots was very acceptable, but this was through the distortion field of that mauvais demi-heure, like what the French say. Plate was quickly cleared. Grenvyle's choice of the classic Dr Seuss dish, eggs and ham, also looked the part. No stinting on the mustard either, given that we had three sachets plonked down on our table. We dabbed our lips and didn't hang around for coffee.

If it was a car -- Humber Hawk.
If they were passing by -- Michael Smith.

EDitorial ± 2-Apr-2009

TT0809, Week 26

Coming towards the end of the season now -- only two games left after this one -- and the nights are drawing out. Putting in an appearance tonight are the hardcore duo of Ed and Grenvyle, the team's Longest Serving Players. Two other players had to bow out when the game was shifted from Tuesday to Thursday. Remaining player continues to save the planet by taking a long haul flight to La-La-La-La-La-La-America.

Four months back, Rosary Green whooped us good & proper on a night when we were lucky to get nil. Hence hopes were not hugely high. And having already conceded three points, we then lost the opening three matches, Ed throwing away a big lead over Jason while Grenvyle got an end against Suzanne. Nonetheless, three played, 6-0 down.

Next up, me against Matthew, the better brother. I found myself 2-1 up needing one more game to win, and we went into a deuce. I had a matchpoint, lost it. He had several game points, lost them. I lost another. As did he. Finally I won 18-16 to gain an unlikely and unexpected win. Yay! Then followed it up with a straight games win over Suzanne. I am great. Officially. Shame about the doubles, but hey. Compared with our other games against this lot, we scored infinitely more points. Well, two. Also:

  • current thinking is that it takes around nine months to get to Mars
  • Apollo 11 had Michael Collins in the command module
  • a total of 12 people have walked on the moon, two each from Apollo missions 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17
  • nobody has walked on the moon since 1972
  • in The Time Machine, he goes to AD 802,701
  • above ground: Eloi; below ground: Morlocks

That'll answer some posers raised in the Black Tiles afterwards.

EDitorial ± 1-Apr-2009

Tesco To Take Over Lloyds Avenue Archway

Artist's impression (thanks to Neil Klotz) of Tesco, Lloyds Avenue There was some much needed good news for the Suffolk economy today, 1st April 2009, when it was announced that a new Tesco store will shortly be opened in central Ipswich. The retail leviathan is to build a "Metro" store in the Lloyds Avenue archway, creating up to 25 local jobs. Work is underway and preliminary scaffolding can already be seen at the rear of the arch.

Due to well-publicised recent heavy losses, Lloyds Banking Group was unwilling to extend its 80 year lease of the site -- although not finished until 1931, the original cut through to the Cornhill was made in 1929. When this became known, two potential bidders emerged and submitted plans to the council. It was felt, however, that Poundland's proposals were "not sympathetic to the mixed Jacobean and Gothic rhythms of the space."

Jaap Bos, future store manager, explained that Tesco had been investigating central locations for some time. "Admittedly, we were knocked back by your council's refusal to let us bring back the Cabman's Shelter to the Cornhill -- its rightful home -- as a Tesco Express. It's unacceptable that Tesco customers in this vicinity are obliged to walk half a mile to the nearest branch at St Matthew's Street. Or down to the ex-B&Q by Cardinal Park."

He added: "We're very excited about occupying a spot so full of local history, sitting between Footmans and Timothy Whites. Personally, I'm looking forward to working closely with nearby businesses, such as the market -- though of course we will be selling our own quality produce -- and many others. Did I mention our wide range of takeaways, wines & spirits and cigarettes?" Representatives from Pizza Express, Lloyds Tavern and M. W. Ashton Tobacconist's were unavailable for comment.

The scheme has already come under fire from townsfolk concerned about the lack of access from Lloyds Avenue to the Cornhill. Ian Collard, spokesman for Suffolk People Against Tesco Stores (SPATS), said: "Three generations of Ipswich people have got used to strolling under the arch, maybe going down to Mannings for a quick half or going up to catch a bus home. And there's talk of Tesco charging a minimum £1 spend to walk in the front and out the back of the shop. It's a disgrace. About time the council re-opened the old Cornhill Underground Station to let us get through for free, I reckon." Mr Bos would not be drawn on these comments, merely noting that any spend within the store would attract Clubcard points.