Saturday, July 31, 2010

This is cool.

I'm now an 'in-house food and drink reviewer' for a local online magazine called Streatham Pulse. It's got my real name attached to it, so I guess this is a bit of an unveiling of sorts (not many of my friends/colleagues have known about this blog previously). It's been a kind of diary and a space to put thoughts down, but now may be the time to say,in the eternal words of Diana Ross - I'm coming out, I want the world to know, etc, etc.

So here I go, with the first of a monthly series of restaurant/bar/café reviews in and around Streatham. Hope you like, and check out the Streatham Pulse website and twitter account, it's a great idea and very ambitious considering its creator is running it singlehandedly. Long live the Pulse!

You can read my inaugural review of The Hamlet here and you can follow Streatham Pulse on twitter @streathampulse. Cheers.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wisdom (or lack thereof)

Um...what the hell is this picture supposed to mean? I'm offended. My tooth didn't want to leave, and now my face is protesting its loss.

I wake up and all I can taste is blood. The side of my mouth gapes open, palsied and floppy. My pillow is wet and stained with bloody saliva. It hurts to swallow and I can feel my cheek is swollen and tender. There's a dull ache in my jaw which makes me wonder if I can still open my mouth properly. When I try, I manage a fraction of its normal movement. When I sit up, the ache in my jaw moves up into the side of my head. I look in the mirror for some confirmation that I'm still me. A bruised chipmunk stares back at me.

This, my friends, may all sound to familiar to you. When you google wisdom tooth removal, you begin to think, jesus, they really should censor some of those youtube clips. Horrific. Oh, and funny. According to this very reliable internet source I found, around 80% of people will suffer some problems with their wisdom teeth at one time or another.

How can that be? I mean, why the hell do we still have these things? Apparently they're utterly useless as we don't really use them to chew anything, they push your other teeth out of alignment in most cases, and in some lucky people they never appear at all. Clearly they're not necessary in this day and age, so why haven't we evolved to lose them altogether?

Luckily some clever soul asked a similar question on amazon askville (what the hell?!) and I can pilfer the replies for a semi-intelligent quote (here it comes, just like 'the science bit' on a L'Oreal ad). In response to the query, 'Are people who don't have wisdom teeth "more evolved" than those that do?' the best answer, as voted for by the asker, was by bunchesofdonald, from Indiana, who stated:

"Wisdom teeth are like other vestigial characteristics such as the appendix and the tail-bone, they are remnants from detailing our common ancestry. Being born without wisdom teeth is pretty rare and it is certainly a genetic mutation, but in our current environment and with modern medicine it doesn't really make us more or less adapted, so it most likely will not be selected for or against. For now people who don't have wisdom teeth are mutants, just like everyone else."

Ha! So if you don't have them, you're a mutant.

Oh wait. Mutants are cool.
(I'm drooling again).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Bitter Sweat City

Image credit tompagenet via flickr

It's been 17 months since I started writing this blog. Give or take. And I have to confess, I feel like a bit of a fraud these days. I mean, take the title. London held so much for me back then, and it always will, but now it holds memories, not promises. I waited a long time to find what I was looking for in London, then I found it. I found him, more precisely. And now, every day I'm here feels like I need to start looking for somewhere else.

I've only been home for five minutes and it's 6.45pm. I finish work at 5.30pm, if I leave on time, which is rare at the moment, and it's taken me over an hour. That kind of daily commute wears you down after a while. Just getting onto the bus today, I took a couple of elbow jabs in my ribs, but nothing terrifying; it's just the average midweek homeward rush excitement that everyone who takes the 59 from Waterloo to Streatham seems to get.

On the bus there are shrieking children, crying babies in enormous prams, a host of not-too-personal stereos, and people sitting at the back of the bottom deck who frankly could do with investing in much more rigorous hygiene protocols. The bus driver is pissed off with us, with the traffic, with the weather - heavy tropicalian downpours one minute, sunshine reflecting off chrome bumpers the next. The air is dirty and heavy and all too still on the bus, as we all fight for elbow room for the Evening Standard, which every now and again gets rustled, irritatedly, by my travelling neighbour.

Increasingly I feel this beautiful, dynamic, crazy city is wearing me out. Maybe I am just prone to feeling more tired more often these days. Maybe I'm showing my age. Maybe it's just the first full week back at work in about a month and I'm feeling sorry for myself.

But the drive to move, to see, to go, is pulling at me, hard. The urge to take a leap, break free, do something worthwhile, and all those other clichés, is stronger than ever.

Luckily the man in my life is feeling the same way. It's a good thing I don't have to convince him about any kind of adventure. He was born ready. "Let's go and work in Africa", he says. "Let's run a bed and breakfast. Let's do a road trip across America. Let's run a jam farm."

Any or all of these options are attractive (especially the jam. Yum.) But the need to do something productive, from which I can gain tangible results, is important to me too. So we get to thinking about VSO. Something, somewhere at the back of my memory, reminds me that a maths teacher of mine once did a stint in Eritrea for VSO. Facebook comes into its own. BAM. I've fired off a friend request and an email faster than you can say 'opportunist'.

Mr B, let's call him, after 17 years or so, remembers me well. I'm tickled. But I'm much more interested in what he has to say about his volunteer experiences. He says it was the two best years of his life. He also says it was bloody hard work, and could be very isolating at times. He is keen to stress that the organisation might be very different now to when he was a part of it, but that they were looking for people who fit their mould, who shared the values and ambitions of the project. That they were matching people to roles, not the other way around, and that there were a number of hoops that he had to jump through in order to even get onto their books, as it were. The process from initial enquiry to beginning his posting was one year.

So I figure the end of next summer can be our own timetable for action. Maybe in another 17 months, this blog will have ceased to be what it originally was. Maybe I'll have to change its name, or start a new one. Whatever happens, you'll read about it here first.