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A Funny Thing Happened Today – Day 2…..

I’m back! I’m doing day 2 of 365.

Luckily something mildly amusing happened this morning to enable me to write anything at all here. This 365 is gonna be a tough one.

The local weatherman on BBC breakfast television walked off screen during his forecast. He was halfway through when he suddenly said something like “Let’s do that again, it wasn’t flowing right”, obviously not realising it was a live broadcast.

I’ve been unable to find out his name (haven’t really made that much effort) so here’s a picture of him.

photo (5)

A Funny Thing Happened Today……..

I’ve been struggling with writing. This is nothing new, I always struggle with writing. The main reason is that it’s hard work and I’m lazy.

So, in an attempt to kick start a writing habit, I’ve decided to attempt a ‘365’.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s where you decide to do something every day for a year. It’s usually reserved for creative types: my daughter is a photography student and set herself a goal to take a self portrait every day; my cousin is an art teacher and her 365 was a new drawing (mostly of her dogs – although that may have been the point).

The trouble with this task I’ve set myself is that I know at the start it’s doomed to failure. I can’t imagine I will get my arse in gear and tenaciously do it every day. I have all good intentions with these things but am easily bored (and, as I’ve already said, Iazy).

Anyway, my ‘365’ is to write every day for the next year about something funny which I experience every day. To be clear, this just has to be funny to me not necessarily to you so don’t rush to bookmark this blog in the hope of a daily dose of hilarity.

The reasons for my choice of subject are threefold. Firstly, it forces me to write every day and I’ve read that the more I write, the better I will get (you can be the judge of that). Secondly, it forces me to find something positive about each day – although that does introduce a risk that I’ll end up like some kind of middle aged Pollyanna; flouncing around the internet screaming about how glad I am before throwing up half a bottle of gin in an empty Ben & Jerry’s container. (That won’t happen, of course. I don’t drink gin. It’ll either be wine or Jack Daniel’s).

But I digress.

Thirdly, something might actually happen that is so funny I’ll use it in a future set. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday……..

This all seems like a great idea but I’m mindful of the fact that I’ve been off work today after a weekend and feeling all happy and creative and positive and that. Will I feel the same way tomorrow when I get back from work? Not fucking likely.

So, onto the task itself. What happened today which amused me?

As part of my research I watched the introduction to hit 70’s children’s program ‘The Banana Splits’. We all know that one of them was a dog and one was an elephant but what were the other two? I know. I looked it up. Bet you don’t know.

Fans of Lee Evans might also be amused to know that the head came off the mallet when my husband was bashing in stakes for the new fence and nearly broke his leg.

But, like I said, it’s about what amuses me.

My Week at The Edinburgh Fringe (or 50 Ways To Lose Your Liver)

If there’s one thing I learnt at the Edinburgh Fringe it’s that comedy is really, really hard to get right and a small Pinot will set you back around ¬£4.60. And you should take comfy shoes with you. If there’s three things I learnt at the Edinburgh fringe…….

 

Anyway, this year was our first experience of the festival and, in fact, our first visit to Edinburgh. What a beautiful city (if you overlook the disruption the building of the tram is causing)! It had a great party atmosphere, loads of fabulous traditional pubs (try Rose Street if you’re up for a challenge) and a wonderful variety of people.

 

Our purpose was to see some live shows, comedy in particular, and we spent a lot of time at the free fringe as it’s important to support up and coming acts. This had absolutely nothing to do with the ticket part of our holiday budget being accidentally subsumed into the alcohol one (yes, I’d subdivided the budget, what’s your point?).

If, like me, you’ve not been to the fringe before, you will need to take a bag with you which is the perfect size to store one hundred A5 pieces of card in until you come across a handy filing receptacle, otherwise known as a bin. These cards are circulated by performers and students who live in The Royal Mile in dwellings constructed out of discarded wet wipes and misplaced dreams.

This lady won a prize for most determined fliering.

Our first day of the free fringe saw us hustled into the underground cavern that is the Kasbar at Espionage (Victoria Street) to watch ‘Pandora’s Box‘ performed by Joanne Jollie. It’s midday and I sit there, glass of wine in hand, ready to be ‘Fringed’. I have to say this wasn’t a bad start to my experience. The hour passes as Pandora tells you her story of how she became one of Barnsley’s premier strippers, punctuated by well known songs adapted to suit each chapter of her life. While the delivery of the spoken sections of her performance could have been smoother, her humorous reworking the songs to fit the story was clever and powerfully performed.

Although we saw some truly awful acts (you have to admire their determination), there are some gems to be found in the back streets of the city.

Gemma Arrowsmith is performing at Le Monde at 3pm every day with her ‘Defender of the Earth‘ show (preview here).

In a nutshell, it’s a sketch show about an ordinary girl who finds herself in the unenviable position of having to save the earth from certain destruction. This may sound weird (of course it is, it’s the Fringe) but it works brilliantly well and you’ll enjoy the whole hour as she takes on the persona of a small child, a soviet space dog and even Cheryl Cole. An absolute gift on the free fringe!

The other gem we found hidden within¬†Dr Ettrick-Hogg’s Manly Stand-Ups at Espionage was James Hately. His fifteen minute journey that was ‘The Name Train’ had us (and others) crying with laughter and I will definitely be seeking him out in future.

Back on The Royal Mile, we stood and watched a workman for ten minutes before realising he wasn’t a street performer and then we made fifty quid after falling asleep on a bench for half an hour.

However, we couldn’t go to to the Fringe without having some established performers show us how it should be done. We needed to be choosy, as we’d blown the ticket budget on healthy food, educational trips and yoga classes.

Our first choice was Jo Caulfield, who is playing at The Stand in York Street with her show ‘Thinking Bad Thoughts‘. We’ve seen Jo perform before and I wondered whether we’d be seeing the same act with a couple of new jokes thrown in. Not the case. An hour of new material had the whole room LoLing out loud in stark contrast to the acts we’d spent the day watching.

The Stand is a great venue with an intimate feel allowing you to connect with the performer and Jo was keen to take advantage of this; only the confident (or late) sit at the front.

Jo relates her stories to the audience in relaxed conversational way which can only come from experience and confidence in the quality of your material. Described as ‘waspish’ and ‘a stalwart of the circuit’, Ms Caulfield is definitely worth an hour of your precious Fringe time so you can make your own mind up.

The other show we made the financial effort to see was Josh Widdicombe’s ‘The Further Adventures Of..’ . I booked this later in the week because Jeff was getting fed up of being dragged (by me) into dubious venues because ‘this might be funny’.

Josh had put on on an extra date at The Pleasance Dome as his other shows were sold out (if there’s someone you really want to see, book before you go as good shows do sell out quickly). Crossing my fingers that Jeff would find at least one joke funny, we were led into what can only be described as an oven on a medium heat and took our seats at the back (thus avoiding any ‘where are you from?’ confrontation). We weren’t disappointed as Josh presented an hour of witty observational stand up that had everyone roaring. The buttercup joke is either my favourite or the only one I can remember, but it was a fantastically funny act and I lost two stones!

I left Edinburgh with many happy memories, disfigured feet and an enlarged liver – you should do the same!

 

Why I Don’t Cook with Bread

I should have known from the moment Jeff tipped the chopped ham into the sink that my ham, cheese and potato stuffed loaf was doomed.

I’m quite an accomplished cook but two things defeat me. The first is rice pudding; what should be the simplest of desserts seems to be beyond the realms of my capabilities. I have tried more times than I care to remember to bake a mix of pudding rice, milk and sugar to a soft, creamy consistency reminiscent of my childhood but to no avail. Eventually I have had to accept that a can of ambrosia creamed rice is as near as I’m ever going to get.

My second nemesis is cooking with bread dough and, knowing this, I decided to make aforementioned stuffed loaf on Saturday and thought I’d share the recipe with you:

  • Make up the bread dough as per packet instructions (yes, it’s from a packet because mixing flour and yeast together is incredibly difficult and much cheaper than buying it ready mixed….. oh). Leave the dough to rise in your airing cupboard for about an hour.
  • Boil around 500 grams of new potatoes until tender – easy. How hard can this be?
  • Chop up 400 grams of thick ham and slice a bunch of spring onions. This is going to work!
  • Mix 500ml of creme fraiche with around 200g cheese. Use the cheap grater your husband bought at a jumble sale which is only slightly more useful than using a piece of tin foil with holes cut in it.
  • Season to taste. Your taste, sod everyone else.
  • Roll out just under half the dough until it’s around 25 cms round leaving the imprint of a line of ink from the side of the ruler. Place onto a baking sheet which is just slightly too small but the biggest one you have.
  • Halfway through rolling the dough ask your husband to tip the ham into the sink. Scream at your husband that he’s an idiot and attempt to fish the ham out from among knives, lumps of wet dough and a bowl you’re soaking.
  • Rinse ham in a colander (you’re not an animal!)
  • Chop the potatoes and pile them onto the base which has started to rise again due to ham incident. Decide there are too many potatoes and discard a third of them. Repeat with the ham freezing the leftovers for future use since the recipe clearly doesn’t know anything about ‘correct quantities’.
  • Dollop the creme fraiche and cheese mixture on top. Wonder how exactly you’re going to dollop it since it is the consistency of milk but carry on anyway.
  • Use five pieces of kitchen roll to soak up the ‘milk’ which is running off the sides of the base and garnish the whole sorry mess with a flourish of spring onions.
  • Roll out the remaining dough so it will cover the piled up ingredients using your growing desperation to help force it into shape.
  • There’s no need to moisten the outside of the base with water because it’s now swimming in milky creme fraiche. Simply plop the top over the prepared contents.
  • At the speed of light, due to the ever advancing milk-come-lava-flow, fold the edges of the base over the edges of the top. Use a fork to ensure it’s completely sealed. Feel convinced it’s not completely sealed.
  • Paint all over with beaten egg and transfer the baking sheet to the oven.
  • After five minutes, check the oven to make sure that part of the seal has indeed broken and liquid is seeping out onto the baking tray.
  • Inform your husband that dinner will be ready in an hour, it may be a bit dry and he’d better eat it without any comment.
  • Pour a large glass of wine and ignore anyone who says ‘is it ready yet?’. Pretend you are Nigella Lawson which means it will miraculously look gorgeous once cooked.
  • Take pie out of oven and compare it with the picture in Good Food Magazine

Just Like the Picture!

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(It was actually very tasty)