EDitorial ± 25-Oct-2013

Woodbridge Light Lunches: The Firestation

In that there Woodbridge, there are certain retail institutions, much like Jack's in Ipswich. One such is the bread shop on the Thoroughfare, properly known these days as The Cake Shop Bakery. They supply Lux Farm among many others. Even though it broke the first rule of Light Lunch -- must have at least one table -- we did a cut and run trip there way back before weirdness ensued outside Costa. Next to Woolies. Ah.

As elongated as TCSB is, it never quite stretched to the end of Jenny's block. Next door at 21A was Splash, purveyor of rubber ducks and misc bathroom oddments. Not no more, it ain't. Splash is sunk and the TCSB barons have only gone and opened their own cafe. Despite having nothing to do with Ghostbusters, it's called The Firestation. A nod to the indisputably more firestation-y Cafe Bencotto?

Meet you there, I said. But -- and this is clever -- there's no meat there. Hello, Museum St Cafe. I didn't see any blatant "we're veggie" flashing neon but that seemed to be the message. That's fine. We're grown-ups. Everything edible is displayed on the counter and it looks mighty good. I order what they're having, which turns out to be "homity pie", apparently a trad British open pie made with spuds, onions and leeks. Salad on the side, please. Seated on rustic benches, our plates o' goodness arrive, bedecked with colour. We're reminded of the lamented Butley Barn, a joyous outing where we didn't quite know what we were eating but it was darn tasty. Same here, except that Mrs Andy is able to point out the red quinoa and oversized couscous. Tangy blood orange San Pellegrino to wash it down. Eclectic yumminess, ahoy.

Place has a feel all of its own with some comfy chairs, Planet Patrol prints adoring the walls, inc. Sgt Pepper and Sendak images, and a decent selection of mags, inc. the Indy, The Stage and Private Eye. Enough with the filler: let's do cake. Point and choose. Treacle tart and a top-notch macchiato set me up rather nicely for the weekend. It's good. It's very good.

If it was a car -- Nissan Leaf.
If they were passing by -- Meg Rosoff.

EDitorial ± 22-Oct-2013

TT1314, Week 5

A mild evening. Jug of water up on the filing cabinet. Blackcurrant squash available on request. Clean-ish colourful kids' cups from which to drink. Even a hint of M&S biscuits to come, on offer to guests -- obviously -- and winners. Time for a thorough warm-up with Andy, Yang and Ed, everyone looking sharp. All is set for the big match.

Into our manor walk representatives of the Manor Club, namely wake-up Winsley, mellow Michael and cordial Kevin. That's a strong line-up, and, like last week, another team who got relegated alongside our underachieving selves. In brief:

  • only 1/3 for Andy, winning in straight ends against Winsley before 3-1 defeats to the other two
  • only 1/3 for Ed, winning an epic opening encounter against Martin then resting on his laurels to lose to Kevin and caving in against Winsley: poor
  • maximum 3/3 for Yang -- star of the night! -- also beating Martin in five ends and landing an impressive hat-trick

Andy valiantly stepped aside for Ed and Yang to do the doubles, again. Once more, however, they threatened to win before snatching defeat. Still, 5-5 draw against Manor, mostly thanks to Yang: we'll take it.

EDitorial ± 16-Oct-2013

TT1314, Week 4

Fully thirteen months since our previous visit to the Con Club, aka Rosary HQ. Back then, things were looking up for both of us in the heady heights of Division 2. However, it didn't exactly pan out for either of us, both teams securing relegation to the basement. As a wise man once said, "there are no easy games in div 3 of the Ipswich & District table tennis league". Let's play ping-pong.

There's short serve Dave, number-plate spotter Tony and speedway Bob, all of whom know which end of the bat to hold. Gonna be tough. In brief:

  • only 2/3 for Ed -- there goes the 100% record -- phoning in an abject performance against Tony to lose in straight games
  • only 1/3 for Andy, outhit by Bob and also falling to in-form Tony
  • a very good 2/3 for Yang, recovering from losing to Tony ("hit the big green table!") to win his other two games with some impressive recoveries and lunging smashes

Since the Defiants runs as a meritocracy (now that Kev's stopped playing), that'd be Ed and Yang making a first doubles appearance. Wasn't to be, though, so both sides settled for the 5-5 draw. Then everyone, including the higher league Rosary team with John Gillett etc, back to the refurbed bar for an amicable drink.

EDitorial ± 14-Oct-2013

Bug Me Not

Adam and Joe. Heroes, obviously. Though not together an awful lot at the mo' due to Cornballs striking it big in the world of film. Shame, since their 6Music podcasts have been a joy and very nearly life-sustaining on some arduous car journeys. Less up to Ikea, more down to Italy.

While Head-In-The-Clouds swans around Bel Air, hairy Count Buckulees may be spotted closer to the Broads: he's a Norwich man these days. For the last five years or so, he's been presenting BUG, an evening of music videos interspersed with non-enlightened YouTube comments. New editions of the show, now up to BUG14, are to be found regularly at the BFI Southbank. Closer to home and within easier driving distance is the Norwich Playhouse, and that's where we're headed to catch The Mighty Beard.

It's not the greatest start, me leaving work a bit late. Then the wind's against me and I'm texted to bring in some chips. I'm home at 6:30pm. The show starts at 8pm and we haven't yet eaten. Tickets are reserved and are for two seats on the front row. It's not going well.

Into the car at 6:50pm and G's telling me we'll be late. I, though, retain my super-optimistic la-la-la approach. We'll be fine. I put my foot down, powering through the rain and onto the start of the A140. We're making good time despite the 50/30/40 pick-a-number speed changes. Then we get behind a slow-moving lorry and even I'm finding it hard to sustain my aura of denial. He turns off and we get motoring again. There's no music in the car. That would spoil the hi-tension atmosphere.

Around Newton Flotman, I stick on the phone sat-nav since -- and this won't help -- neither of us really knows where the Playhouse is. I've had a tiny bit of forethought and punched in their postcode. Come on, Nokia Maps, give us a sign. ETA 19:54, says the display. Yes! Two minutes later and we're slowing. ETA 19:55, it now reads. No!

At 19:56, on an unknown street, the nice lady says that we've reached our destination. I do not see our destination. A passing pedestrian points over the bridge: go on ahead, I say, get our seats and I'll park. G walks off, I park and run, taking my seat as Adam bounds on stage. I hate to be early.

EDitorial ± 10-Oct-2013

Literary Ipswich

This humdrum town has held its own arts festival, Ip-art, for a good few years now. There's music, dance, film and many other categories, plus there's always been some quality book-ish stuff with author appearances (hello, Jasper Fforde) and opportunities to get creative (hi, short story competition). For 2013, though, the offerings seemed a tad sparse. Then word emerged of a spin-off. As Happy Days spawned Mork & Mindy, so Ip-art would spawn Literary Ipswich, aka Ip-lit.

Not being able to make the D.J.Taylor or Michael Morpurgo events, I made it down to the Town Hall on Friday evening for "Bright Futures" to hear a panel discussion between three debut authors, all with UEA Creative Writing qualifications:

  • Joe Dunthorne, him what wrote Submarine and who did a v. funny reading from his new Wild Abandon novel
  • be-capped Canadian D.W.Wilson, previous winner of the BBC National Short Story Award, natch
  • Sarah Ridgard, local potato lady who wrote Seldom Seen and who provided another witty reading

What could have been a dull old evening turned out to be highly amusing and insightful. Very well done to Georgina Wroe, by the way, for keeping the flow. Asked about how they write, Joe and Sarah talked about the need for daytime silence whereas call-me-Dave likes to do his stuff from 11pm onwards while listening to music. And he's got a couple of lyrics from The National stuck to his laptop to keep him going: my sort of guy.

Getting back home afterwards and once everyone had gone to bed, I sat down at the kitchen table and stared down that scary blank piece of paper. Some sort of story came together over the next few hours, though not quite the one I'd intended. In the small hours, you'd have heard the Canon printer whirring as it chugged out my single page.

Sunday evening, that same folded page was in my pocket as I cycled down to Costa Coffee for the festival's final event, another Writer's Cafe (previously), this one to be hosted by up-and-coming Emma Healey. Full of cold and powered by Lemsip, I wasn't that bothered about standing up to read, then I heard myself accepting a reading slot, number 15, the final one of the night. Great: plenty of time to revise and review my one-pager. I was scribbling on the A4 when I heard a familiar name being announced after only 10 minutes: mine. Those names are being picked out in random order. Oh well, nothing for it but to get up and do it. Which I did, getting a few laughs, most of which were in the right places. Usual eclectic selection of extracts, poems and monologues from some friendly faces. Always good to give and receive a few kind words, too.

So, let's have more of the same next year, please. Nice one, Sara Newman.

EDitorial ± 8-Oct-2013

TT1314, Week 3

Only our second fixture of the new season and already we're giving away points, what with us having only two players available tonight. No matter. Pedal to the metal as Andy whooshes us out to the hamlet of Holton St Mary, home, much like Stonham Barns, to some Owls.

Present from our previous visit are good old Rupert and not so old Denise, accompanied by slightly less familiar face Chris(tine), who we've also seen before. In brief:

  • another 2/3 for Andy, winning five enders against both Rupert and Chris (with edges galore) but then going down in straight ends to Denise
  • another 3/3 for Ed -- woop-woop! -- not losing a single end, obviously powered by Lemsip Max

Another Broom/Cassy doubles show, another win to claim a 6-4 win, then post-match feasting on a McD's sticky toffee muffin and latte. Sweet.

EDitorial ± 1-Oct-2013

TT1314, Week 2

Previously in the BT Defiants saga, our heroes had been less than heroic and so were staring relegation squarely in the face. Despite our people speaking to their people over the summer, naught could be arranged, hence the upcoming 2013/14 season will see Team Defiants back in the murky depths of division 3. T.O.W.I.U., as that Yazz sang.

Redknapp-esque wheeler-dealing saw a power player swap, high-scoring Kennedy heading up to division 1 while our new best buddy Yang comes down to join us. Plus Steve's still around, or will be eventually once he's back from his world tour. Where's Cassy? He's back Back BACK after that incident twelve months ago. And Ed's always around.

Opening game having been postponed, first game sees the all-new Broom, Cassy and Li line-up emerging from the tunnel. Facing us are some of Steve Branton's Kesgrave prodigies, namely BT Bright Stars. This year's incarnation -- well, tonight's, at least -- features unknown Natalie alongside daughter Hannah and dad Nigel. In brief:

  • 1/3 for Yang, outhit by Natalie and outspun by Nigel
  • 2/3 for Andy, getting nowhere against Nigel and saving a matchpoint to scrape past Natalie 3-2
  • 3/3 for Ed -- woop! -- winning a sweaty and even match v. Nigel

First time in yonks for the Broom/Cassy doubles show, Yang generously scoring, the chaps doing enough to secure that extra point for a fun end to a fun evening. Solid 7-3 start.