EDitorial ± 26-Feb-2010

Ipswich Lunches: Suffolk Origo

While our facefeeding was in full flow, that Fabio Capello was in town (note) about 400m away opening shiny Suffolk New College. Our Italian buddy remarked: "I visited this ... city long time ago when I was a player." There we go, instant city status. He wouldn't be drawn about either Stoke Bridge or Roberterry.

And I dream I'm on Eagle Street, a boulder's roll from Janet's. Over there is Central City Comics, home to Grant Morrison and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Over here is Suffolk Origo, home to Noam Chomsky and The Koran For Dummies. In fact, it's only when you glance through the bookcases here that you suspect that there's some sort of angle -- this is a Muslim community centre doubling up as an internet cafe, or vice versa. Whatever, the chow is cheap and plentiful and good.

Spy-like, I come in from the cold to find that the brio trio have commandeered a comfy couch. Choice is also threefold: potato (baked), pizza (slice) or pasty (assorted). Giant Cornish, please, plus a bag of Walkers and an Oasis, all for less than £3. Margins must be minimal. Old Ipswich b&w images by Francis Frith contrast sharply with new Ipswich panoramic colour images of the rejuvenated waterfront. Like them a lot, hanging above the flatscreen monitors.

That processed pastry disappears soon enough and we're on to the sweet course. All remaining carrot cake (with cream filling) is spoken for afore I get there; Rene is kind enough to share his. With space still to fill, I'll take some Carte D'Or, which, at 40p a scoop, is a subzero steal. It comes to me that I used to visit these premises for Game Gear goodies. That dates me.

Lady behind the counter hasn't done an Americano before, but it comes out fine c/w caramelised biscuit on the side. Cosy and warm in here with ample reading material (inc. "normal" mags like Q) to browse: should I stay or(should)Igo?

If it was a car -- Renault Twingo.
If they were passing by -- Will Self.

EDitorial ± 23-Feb-2010

TT0910, Week 21

There was a time when you'd find one or more of us over in the TT hut several lunchtimes a week. A quick mini round robin to establish bragging rights, then over to the hub for sarnies. Time moved on and we'd go over less often, maybe once a week. Then Grenvyle "left" the mother company and we kind of abandoned the idea entirely. Could this drop-off have resulted in the Defiants' lamentable recent form?

Quite a novelty, then, on Monday for me and Andy to find ourselves back over there, both playing the odd shot that we'd never try in a proper match. And Anshul was keen for a brief practice prior to tonight's game, so we had a solid 15 minutes to & fro.

Lo and behold, we won tonight! Brace for Andy who turned up late and left early, and maximums for Anshul and Ed!! Double exclamation madness. Maybe there's something in this whole practice thing after all.

EDitorial ± 22-Feb-2010

John Hegley, The Maltings, Ely

It's entirely possible that I may have written about John Hegley once or twice before:

By now, I hope you'd know that he's a rhymin' Simon, not adverse to a verse, the Mario Lanza of the mesmeric stanza. Think of a word, double it, he'll couplet. Yes, a real live says so on his passport P-O-E-T. Check out this 80 second YouTube clip for a sample.

Three of us Hegley hangers-on -- me, G. and Eldest -- hot-footed it to touchy-feely Ely. In to the Maltings, grab good seats and here's the main man and some other bloke playing a double bass, of course. This was Keith Moore, unsung accompanist and occasional euphonium player, underpinning the main man's mandolin strumming.

Nominally, tonight's performance was titled Monsieur Robinet, to do with John's paternal French heritage, hence the title of one song, Bob At Work. More familial works included Grandmere, lovely, and Angie Boo, about his sister. Plenty of old faves too with Eddie, Armadillo, Luton Bungalow and a riotous Max The Dog. My highlight was the the John Cooper Clarke rap of Guillemot (I Don't Eat Krill A Lot), with the great man set free to strut the stage with a mic while Keith riffed along. What an inspiration.

EDitorial ± 19-Feb-2010

Ipswich Lunches: Janet's

An inanimate start to the day when the much loved though undermaintained Boardman seized up on me at the end of the road. Bloomin' back brake wouldnae budge. Dragged it like a reluctant dachsund to Cyclelife. Ooh, your caliper's corroded, squire. Best get that fixed under warranty at Herr Halford's. They unbudged it -- I'd advise you not to use that rear brake -- and sent me on my way. Phew, got wheels for today's lunchtime rendezvous.

Freewheeled round the back of the Co-op -- oops, Vergo -- emerging on to The Wash, aka Upper Orwell Street, a throughfare as well cared for as my bike. Yes, we're in the burgeoning (must look that up) Mint Quarter. Here, opposite the Koh-I-Noor, squashed between Fresh Kebabs and the City Grill, with its lovely fairgroundy spearmint green signage above a pure white PVC frontage, lies Janet's. Here come the girls -- well, one of 'em -- after the masculine possessively named Al's, Jack's and Kenny's.

Wooden furniture, mirror on the wall, no pictures, large chalkboard listing plentiful options. Not my mother's son for nothing and those greengrocer's apostrophes leap out, notably dinner's and breakfast's. Grenvyle got no further than the top leftmost item, the all day breakfast. Not quite up to that, so mine's the humbler less bellybusting English breakfast. Couple of newspapers (Sun, EADT) on the counter, where you order -- fried slice or toast? -- er, good to have the choice, and a pleasant change not to be paying upfront too.

Local radio is unobtrusively playing and the fruit machine is punter-free. Here's a pile of buttered toast for me and Rene to fight over, plus assortments of double egg, bacon, beans, et cetera, unassumedly delivered by the main man. He doesn't say much but managed to give the impression that nothing was too much trouble. Much satisfied scoffing ensues.

Small range of hot pudds on the big board: this is Janet's, not Berridges. Four letters suffice: c-a-k-e, presented in clingfilm. Can't go wrong with a piece of sponge, and I've had worse cups of coffee too. Bloke says this place has been here for 11 and a half years. He's clearly the man who began it, Janet.

If it was a car -- Minivan.
If they were passing by -- Adam Woodyatt.

EDitorial ± 16-Feb-2010

TT0910, Week 20

Yeah yeah yeah, history is bunk and all that, but last time round we drew against this lot. For tonight's away leg, our top team were on show: that'd be Andy, Anshul and Ed, in strictly alphabetic order. As Danny Baker would say, Nothing Can Go Wrong Now.

Except that I acted on some bad information and went to the wrong venue. By the time I got to Ransomes, Anshul was 2-0 down but then showed considerable bottle to come back and win 3-2. That's the spirit. Next up, Andy: great game against wily Ken but went down in the 5th. No shame in that. Ditto Ed's first game, another coulda-been five-ender against tenacious Pete. So that's the opening trio of games all gone to five ends and us losing 2-1.

Curiously, the next five games were all over in straight games, including most notably:

  • Pete v. Andy: momentous opening end finishing 21-19 to Pete; you only need 11 points these days
  • Ed v. Brian: a win!

With maximums for two of our opponents, surely Andy could ensure that Brian went home with nothing? Terrific game, very fast, but you could almost tell that their man wanted it more ... which meant that Anshul and Ed (unbeaten in doubles for 2009) paired up to wallop Brian/Ken and land a consolation third point. Final score: 7-3 to them. Our collective mojo is sinking.

EDitorial ± 15-Feb-2010


In which we find Part-The-First of How To Speak Like Da Yoof, or a plain English guide to understanding your teenager.

It being cold underfoot with the outside snow, the inside underpowered insulation and the internal counter-instinctive desire to keep the heating off for as long as possible, my feet are wearing their seasonal slippers. Bounding upstairs, I miss my footing and come down hard on a carpeted step. No harm done and, more importantly, no one to see.

Day or so later, up I go again and down I come again. Emerging from her room, Eldest laughs and cries out:


You what? Stack, she says: it's what you say when someone falls over. Ah. In my day, I say, puffing on my dad pipe, it was Enjoy Your Trip, but she's already (wisely) wandered off.

That evening, chicken with wraps polished off, I'm first to take my plate out into the kitchen. Here's Eldest, again, who plonks down her plate next to mine. Oi, sez I, put yours on top of mine, please. As she does so, and you can see where this is going, I yell Stack! Cue much laughter, at least in my little head.

Now, it's de rigueur at Broom Acres -- at least for me and the kids -- to shout this out whenever we're creating a crockery tower.

Next week: Part-The-Second -- I Went There.

EDitorial ± 12-Feb-2010

Woodbridge Light Lunches: The Moorish Lounge

Clever headline in the Guardian from when Lenny Henry played Othello said:

An Audience With The Dudley Moor

Which brings us in a mini roundabout near Notcutts way to The Moorish Lounge, our first time back in Woodbridge for yonks. Replacing the venerable Captain's Table -- you know, a short walk up from the Riverside -- it's only recently opened. Appealing name and setting: curiously, a sign by the entrance is pushing "coffee and cake."

Our party of four quickly becomes five, then six, a record attendance. Helpful waiter and waitress hold our hands through the Med-style menu where the idea, like Saints, is to mix and match two or more dishes. Some are ordering individually, others are sharing. Visions of that scene in Gavin & Stacey where everyone's choosing Indian takeaway only for Smithy to take exception:

They're all dipping into mine going "Oh, yours is really nice!" I'm like, "Yes it is, that's why I ordered it!"

Maybe 'cos I was hungry already, but a few complimentary olives would have been pleasant while we were waiting. Anyway, here's our homemade flat breads, a Scrabblicious herby quinoa tabbouleh and a chicken, chorizo & cannellini tajine -- none too generous, that tajine, though all very flavourful.

Desserts are restaurant-priced at a fiver a pop, so let's opt for teas and coffees instead. Place is filling up nicely by now. We wait, and wait, but there's kids to pick up and offices demanding our return, etc. Drinks to go would be fine and yet there's no real sign of our assorted beverages as we settle up. And then one of us is overcharged thanks to some dodgy maths. In the future, they may improve; for now, it's a bit of a mezze.

If it was a car -- Renault 4.
If they were passing by -- Omid Djalili.

EDitorial ± 8-Feb-2010

Charley White

Let me pick out not one but two firsts from that there weekend just gone:

  1. watching Charley Varrick, a great Walter Matthau flick, on telly
  2. enjoying a Flat White, a lovely new coffee, at Costa

Like what that James Burke advised us many years ago, there are always Connections to be made:

  • Varrick, a small time hood, inadvertently steals $750m belonging to the Mob...
       ...Costa was founded by Sergio and Bruno, two Italian brothers
  • during the heist, two police are shot...
       ...there's two shots of espresso in a flat white
  • Varrick and accomplice drop their guns into the river off a wooden bridge...
       ...only coffee shop open at that time was Costa in Woodbridge
  • thieves are pursued by a baddy in the form of Joe Don Baker...
       ...we sneakily ate baked goodies in the form of Co-op brownie bites
  • while his partner lays into the whisky, Varrick sips a glass of milk...
       ...the flat white is, apparently, "velvety, not milky"
  • Varrick is also a crop-duster and can be seen removing the chocks from his plane...
       ...for me, a caffeinated hot drink, for the girls, hot chocs
  • film released in early 70s...
       ...Costa started in early 70s
  • Wikipedia tells us that the Chinese restaurant in the film is now a Starbucks...
       ...Costa so far the only chain coffeeshop in Woodbridge
  • Charley Varrick is one of the "sleeper picks" at Clerkdogs
       ...not much sleep guaranteed after that much espresso
  • Varrick and partner set fire to their abandoned getaway car...
       ...we ran back to the car from Costa

(That's more than enough connections -- Ed)

EDitorial ± 2-Feb-2010

TT0910, Week 18

Dodo wall calendar had "TT reserve" against my name today. Mid morning I got the Capello call: Anshul's got a virus, so can you play? Should be fine, I said. Can easily put off that new CSI episode until tomorrow. Took a while to twig that tonight's Chelsea-esque opponents were sitting on top of the league with games in hand.

Poor PC Andy, newly recovered and fighting fit, never stood a chance, going down in straight games and then some. That beaten record remain intact.

Rene fared better, nicking a game off Nick and even taking the first end against Bernie, no mean feat. Fella played some good stuff and needs to show that form against other lesser teams, i.e. everybody else.

And me? Surely I could improve upon last time's big fat zero? Er, no. Much huffing and puffing and cracking games against both Nick and Rob, but all for naught/nought. Bummer.

Plus a doubles defeat for me and Rene, so that'd be 10 (ten) for them, 0 (zero) for us. Awful.

EDitorial ± 1-Feb-2010

Tops In The Playground

Did Poundland. Done Argos. Dusted the Co-op. Woolies would've been wonderful but is weirdly AWOL. Into MPV and up to big Sainsbury's. Skate through to the non-foods toy section and yay! Behold this weekend's grail, a smattering of gaudy boxes each containing a:

Mega Bloks
Battle Strikers
Turbo Tops
Reload Striker

Fair trips off the tongue, don't it? In late January 2010, as it happens, you're nobody at your 7-11 junior school if you're not packing at least one Battle Striker. By all means, go ahead and ask your dad to find you a £10 starter pack, as long as you pay him back. That'll get you your own launcher and controller (essential). But prepare for disappointment when you debut the accompanying underpowered turbo top. See, you really need to invest in a standalone reload striker. Choose from 15 models, all available separately for a further £5...

There's something both deeply cynical and wholly admirable about this latest ploy to part kids from their pocket money. Last year, it was the diabolo. Last term, it was GoGo's Crazy Bones. Now, if you go to Google and type "battle space s", it'll zeitgeist the following:

  • 4th position -- Battle Star Galactica
  • 3rd position -- battle studies
  • 2nd position -- battleships
  • 1st position -- Battle Strikers

You and your opponent use your battery-powered launchers to spin your top into a fury, you hit it to release the whirling dervish, then try to bash your mate out of the plastic arena. Course, this is no more than the latest evolution of the Battling Tops (by Ideal!) that me and my brother had when we were in shorts. Gotta respect those Mega Brands toy technicians for taking the idea, moving it on and milking it still further.

When he came back from school today, The Boy was full of it, mighty proud to have finally beaten one of his pals with the superior control and defensive skills of Tank. Like the hokey-cokey, that's what it's all about.