Thursday, 26 July 2012

Red, White and Blue


Having survived the Jubilee celebrations, when her Majesty was inescapable wherever you turned... well, her image, as the closest I got to her see her was this magnificent Jelly Beans portrait in John Lewis (Stratford):

I hasten to add, although no royalist, I could not fail to celebrate her glorious reign because the pub I went for Sunday lunch that long jubilee weekend was serving this in her honour. For Queen and Country I will eat a decent desert:

Now, of course, we await the Olympics. Given that I live, as the crow flies (well, a bus ride away), not that far from the olympic stadium some signs are inescapable: special Olympic traffic, Olympic bunting (official only, as local shop owners have been told to remove anything that does not comply), and even the torch. On Saturday, the torch relay skimmed past the bottom of my street in Hackney so I could not resist nipping out to see it. I must say, although the torch does look like a cheese grater (as is often said) and it is awfully 1980s bling gold, the guy carrying it looked very pleased. We all made suitable noises, took photographs and clapped as he jogged into the distance:

I forgot the torch was running around in town again today, so on my way to work was surprised to see one of the mascots in Highbury Fields for a special post-torch event (Wenlock or Mandeville? I can but shrug, as I haven't learnt to differentiate one from the other).

This will be the closest I get to the event, as I did not apply for tickets, but did any of you?

Friday, 20 July 2012

"Retirement" or "All Good Things Come To An End"

I've been admiring my leaving present cookery book since I brought it home at lunch time . All the recipes , contributed and written by the parents and beautifully decorated by the children with glittery stickers and wonderful drawings ( one , a weirdly wandering black felt-tip trail has been subtitled by the artist's Papa , "This is your spider" ) , photos and cards , are collected in a folder , covered with a tailored cotton slip cover . On the front there's a full size photo of me and one of the youngest preschoolers cheerily grinning and no , you're not going to see it ! You can see me here instead

(It really is time to buy that Pilates DVD , obviously !)
Recipes range from Oma's Pancakes to Thai Shrimp with Straw Mushrooms . There's Russian Egg salad , Fish Pie , Jugoslav Pilav , Chicken Piri-Piri , Crepe Suzette , Meatballs and Mash , Pink Risotto , four pages full of wonderful Indonesian dishes contributed by the father of twins , HOT chicken curry ( decorated with beautifully peaceful , weaving sketched swirls ) , scones , Pretty Trifle , Hearty Soup , a Vegetable Biryani for Madam Geraldine and the Thankyou-Geraldine-Bean dish . And lots more . Laughing photos of the children .... and their hands , carefully traced round ... something I'd do with all of them when they first came

I haven't got the heart to cook anything tonight . Oh , I'm going to miss them all .

Thursday, 12 July 2012

We Hadn't Even SEEN Any Blood Yet

Sonata: It's nearly time for my four-monthly check-up at the diabetes clininc ... which means having a blood test a few days before . So , earlier this week at 7.45 , I joined the queue by the hospital lab . It's always fairly busy , but on Tuesday morning the line was out of the waiting room and snaked half way up the hall . All breakfast-less , we stood ... and stood ... and stood , the queue growing behind us . No one was coming out , either .


Eventually someone did and we began to shuffle forward . By 8.25 I could see the door to the waiting room . By 8.40 I could see inside the door to the waiting room .

Unfortunately , so could the young man in front of me . Tall , gangly and presumably as hungry as me , he paled , his knees buckled , he swayed backwards and then pitched forward , banging his head on the door post with an enormous CRACK . And fell like a stone . Two nurses bustled up with a stretcher and pushed him inside .

"Well , that's one way to jump the queue " said someone behind me .

P.S. It turned out that the wonderful machine that prints out patient-specific labels for each blood sample had broken down and we'd had to wait for everything to be set up again , but I was finally seen and free to rush to the cafeteria at 9.15 . Meanwhile the young man emerged from a side ward , bled , fed and with a huge "egg" on his forehead at 9.00 . We all clapped .

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The End Is Nigh ... And I , For One , Couldn't Be Happier

Another two weeks and I'll have retired ! I'm going to sit in the sun and blink occasionally like an ageing tortoise .
If I don't spin off in the stratosphere between now and then , of course . At the moment , I'm assembling little presents for the pre-schoolers . There being nearly forty of them , I went for cheap and cheerful , while not irresponsible . Unfortunately this precluded buying of a huge sack of bright green lollies and bubble gum to shovel into plastic bags , tying a knot in each and hurling them over my shoulder as I leave .
I trawled cut-price shops till I found some 59 cent packs of chunky coloured pencils to add colouring pages , a ribbon and a little card to . An hour to assemble , I thought .Three hours later , I'm just finishing . My own fault .... why I started drawing a little mouse on each card as well the child's name and message , Heaven knows .
Still , now I've just got to find a suitable something for my colleagues . It's for moments like this that bubble bath and pralines were invented .
And what am I getting ? Ahhh! It's the worst-kept secret in town . Each mother was surreptitiously given a brightly coloured A4 sheet of paper in a plastic ring-fold sleeve a few weeks ago ... and lately these are being given back . Just not to me . Yesterday a colleague was riffling through a folder of them , chatting to us all as she went . "Curry Soup !" , she said surprised. "Oh ! Erm... I mean I must buy some Cup'a'Soup today . Curry-flavoured .... " she petered off lamely , it being half past eight in the morning and us all drinking coffee .
So it's a fair bet that I'm getting a collection of the mothers' favourite recipes . And I couldn't be happier .... it's a lovely idea . I'm fairly convinced the definitive Sajoer Lodeh ( vegetables in coconut milk ) recipe will be in there , too . The one that I promised you and colleague has been evasive about since I asked . ) The chances are , I'll be blinking like a fat ageing tortoise by the end of the summer .