Combating mediocrity in the modern world…


The Best Steak in London and a Complicated Farce

Thursday was my tenth wedding anniversary, and a wonderful day it was too. Following the theme of “trying to get more out of living so close to the centre of London”, my wife had booked tickets to see Noises Off! at the Old Vic theatre (shortly moving to the Gielgud I believe). We had to find a restaurant for dinner which wasn’t too far from the theatre and would serve us fairly quickly (always one of the difficulties of mid-week theatre-going, unless you want to grab fast food, which wasn’t really suitable for this occasion).

We opted for the Skylon restaurant, in the Royal Festival Hall, which we’d never been to before, but was running one of the Evening Standard promotions (two course & a glass of wine for £20). The restaurant is enormous, with high ceilings, set in the front of the festival hall, and was very busy when we went. Our table wasn’t immediately ready, so we were ushered to the bar for drinks. It was a bit cramped in the bar, which was basically an “island” in the middle of the room. There wasn’t an awful lot of room to move around, but we didn’t expect to be there for very long, so we didn’t mind too much. It was only about 10 minutes before we were called to our table (how do they do that, they seem to know exactly who to go to, even in a room full of people?). We were given a window table, in a corner right next to the waiters’ station, which was perfect. The view across the Thames, with the Savoy across the river and nightfall wrapping around the city, was wonderful.

Sadly, being gluten sensitive, there was nothing on the set menu which I could eat, so we chose from the á la Carte menu. Having expected the set meal, I was conscious of the price difference in the á la carte, so I chose the cheapest steak from the grill – the Onglet steak. I’ve never had onglet steak before, but I was delighted with what I got. I ordered it rare, and a little while later I was presented with two enormous pieces of steak with the tiniest of watercress salads (more of a garnish than a salad really). Oh my god, it was the best steak I’ve eaten in London. It was full of flavour, not like those insipid but extortionate fillets. It had more flavour than a ribeye and was much more tender – no veins of gristle here. The middle of the steak had that purple, slightly jelly-like texture while the outside was slightly blackened and full of flavour. I would definitely recommend the onglet steak to anyone who’s a fan of full-flavour rare beef.

We had our coffees and made a slow wander towards the theatre, which was maybe ten minutes on foot. I’ve never been to the Old Vic before and found the lobby and bar very busy and cramped. The seats, however, were fairly comfortable and we had a good view from the stalls.

Noises Off! is a brilliantly funny light-hearted lift. Selsdon almost steals the show in the first act...

So, the play itself… I’m in a bit of a difficult position here, as I don’t know how to describe it without spoiling the plot. Brilliantly funny is one way, I suppose, but not very descriptive… Broadly speaking, it’s a farce about a play which is itself a farce. The first act sees the cast on the night before opening, running through a technical rehearsal of the play. The second act sees the backstage during a mid-season performance, and the final act returns to front stage as the season draws to a close. The first act gently introduces the plot of the play which is being rehearsed, while the second is all done in almost complete silence backstage. This really tests the cast’s physical / slapstick skills and I thought was the funniest and most intricate part of the play (it won’t spoil anything if I say “watch out for the cactus”…). The final act sees everything falling apart onstage, as the relationships between the actors completely collapse.

I’m conscious that my description of the play is woefully inadequate, and that there are other websites which go into the plot in greater detail, but I think I wouldn’t have enjoyed the play anywhere near as much had I known the full plot. It’s good to have that fresh mind to come to the play, so with that, I don’t want to go into it in too much detail. Suffice to say that it was brilliantly funny and shows off the astounding talent of the cast. If you’ve not seen this yet, it’s well worth getting tickets while it’s still on.

The Little Book of Trite Aphorisms

Well, maybe someone might have noticed my twitter feed down there on the right. There are a few mentions of Wisdom of the Undressed and The Little Book of Trite Aphorisms, so I thought I would explain what it’s all about.

I’m a relatively new initiate in the Twittersphere, and I’ve noticed quite a few followers whose biography has a link to some sort of porn website. This was going on for a couple of months, basically since I joined. Now, I have to say that this bothers me. I’m not particularly prudish in myself but I kinda don’t want spammers following me. I doubt very much that the followers are genuine… I suspect they’re bots which have been automatically programmed to tweet every so often.

The Wisdom of the Undressed

I have noticed that the spammers generally fall into two categories. The first consists of ones who have a porn link in their profile and just try following lots of people but don’t tweet anything. The second category have the same porn links in their profile, follow lots of people and tweet pseudo-philosophical nonsense. I’m completely baffled by these posts. They range in content from attempts at advice, via trite clichés to meaningless nonsense. The only reason I can think for these posts is that the spammers think they give the tweeter some sort of depth or intelligence. Quite frankly it doesn’t work.

For the first couple of weeks, I just blocked the spammers. Then I blocked them and reported them as spam. I don’t think it’s ever going to stop, but at least I feel like I’m doing my bit to keep some of the accounts offline. Then I decided that there might be some sort of comedy value in some of these tweets, so I decided to take screenshots of the posts on my phone and upload them to tumblr under a blog entitled The Little Book of Trite Aphorisms. One of my favourite posts is included over on the left there… I decided to use tumblr for a blog, rather than another wordpress site, as it seems a little more basic and the medium works well for my needs. I also wanted to keep it separate from my main blog here, which is for a more varied collection of posts. The only major gripe that I have is that I can’t see how many hits I’ve had on tumblr and no-one is posting any notes or comments just yet, so I have no clue to the levels of traffic.

Well, I hope you drop by and have a look at The little Book of Trite Aphorisms and enjoy what’s there. At the time of writing this blog, I only have twelve “Gurus” spouting forth their wise words. I have no doubt that the number will gradually increase. If you have a chance to browse over there, I’d love to hear some feedback – you can post a comment either here or on one of the tumblr posts over there.

25 Things

This was originally one of those Facebook memes which did the rounds. You’re supposed to write 25 things about yourself, tag 25 people (so that they can write 25 things about themselves) and then post it. And the interminable chain of diarrhoea goes on and on.

This is my post:

Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app), then click publish.

1. I haven’t filled one of these litte thingies out since the first flush of excitement at having the internet and email in my own home (it was dial-up back in those days).
2.So I have no idea why I’m filling this one out now.
3.And I’ll probably struggle to think of 25 things which are interesting enough, or at least not too embarrassing, to put up here.
4.So again, I have no idea why filling this one out, only I have a different reason now.
5. I have thought of something not too embarrassing, although it may not be very interesting.
6. While I was the goalkeeper for the school U16 hockey team, we lost a match 11-2.
7. That was the last match of hockey I ever played for the school.
8. I’m not particularly fond of hockey anymore.
9. I’m running out of things to put down here.
10. So far, out of ten items on this list, I have probably only given you one actual fact from my life. That’s quite an achievement isn’t it?
11. I am not very good at typing and thinking at the same time. That will probably explain the spelling mistakes in any of my emails or messages.
12. I have an irrational fear of foreigners – this makes me literally xenophobic.
13. I am an accomplished liar (see 12, above).
14. I really am struggling to find anything else to write, and I don’t think I know 25 people who will want to read this nonsense. Oooh, does that count as 2?
15. That doesn’t count as 2, no.
16.I am a lazy creature by nature, so any housework which I do should be recognised as an enormous triumph.
17. I’m going to have to stop making up silly stuff to fill out the rest of this list.
18.It is one of my goals to stop making up silly stuff to fill out the rest of this list.
19. I’m really not sure that number 18 on this list is a realistic goal.
20. I was born in Dudley, which is a good thing as it was close to where my mum was at the time.
21. I have nearly finished this list, and most of you will know no more about me than when you began reading.
22.I have been randomly leaving a space between the numbers on this list and the beginning of the sentence. And none of you noticed did you?
23.I have no words of wisdom for anyone. Ever. So don’t ask.
24. I dislike musicals.
25. I especially dislike musicals about Nuns.