The changing of the seasons; hot and sunny, warm and sunny, cool and sunny bring about those primal changes in us. Exciting summer adventures to be had, overseas trips to enjoy, winter breaks to plan for – so much to do, so little time to do it.
The kick-start to this year’s warm spring, to be hastily followed by a scorching summer, comes by way of the annual Muscat Festival – which is not unlike a county show really. This is our third visit and although one might expect it to be a bit same(ish), which of course it is, there are still enough new things to keep us interested and delighted at the local bash. Unusually, this year we made a number of purchases from the ‘Around the World’ exhibitions of arts, crafts and all things fancy. We came away with a kite on a stick which, though it might sound a tad dull, is in fact an extremely good toy and it cost us no more than the loose change you might find at the bottom of a pocket where fluff is made. After this initial purchase from ‘China’, we went crazy with a rather gaudy necklace from “Tanzania’ and a make-up/pencil case from “Uzbekistan’; the latter being beautifully embroidered and the former very much a matter of taste. The child, we decided, should be tattooed – as a mark of ownership and just in case we needed to identify her should she ever get lost. Job done!
We enjoyed a cup of sweetcorn kernels with lemon and salt, which is a hugely popular fast-food snack in these parts, followed by a large swirl of candy-floss on a stick (cotton-candy as we now call it) which caused the uncontrollable urge, for those susceptible to a sugar rush, to run amok for fifteen minutes before collapsing into a sorry pile and moaning about everything and nothing. Such is a kid’s life. Cleverly, we arrived just before opening time at around 4pm and left as the crowds were pouring in, thus avoiding the five hour traffic queue that was reported when the world and his dog decided to head home at the same time. If only all life was like that.
Domesticity, shudder at the mere mention of it, still takes precedence and it seems an age since we embarked on any meaningful, mad-cap adventures where we risk life, limb or even a child. As much as the intention is there, there is always something more pressing that prevents us from getting out and about. Have we lost our adventure mojo? One would think so but were you to witness our feverish activity whilst planning this year’s summer hols (and a winter extravaganza too), you would indeed be praising our spirit. This may well be our last chance to pass off myth as reality before someone gets too old and wise to know better. How long will it be before the axe of stark realisation falls to inflict the gaping wound of awareness and those seasonal presents that are left under the tree are surely courtesy of Mum and Dad and not the rotund chap, all beardy and dressed in red with a ho, bloody ho, ho, ho!? We have it in mind to head north, way north, to see the certain gentleman before it’s too late.
Hanging about the house does have certain advantages; you manage to get around to all those niggly little jobs that always seem to be put off until later – like buying a live crab and cooking it, for example.
Having researched the issue on the internet (well it all looked so easy at the time), things never quite turned out as planned. That’s the problem with your celebrity chefs’ cooking shows and Christmas books – everything always turns out so bloody perfect! Well not mine, matey! People need to know this sort of stuff. People need to know that they are not perfect and that it’s okay to cock it up in the kitchen (move along now, no euphemism here). Maybe a new TV series is needed – ‘REAL COOKING’ – fly on the wall stuff with the good, the bad and the downright dangerous. Masterchef has had its day, it’s too nice, too normal; we need something new that we can all relate to, something REAL LIFE. This immediately brings to mind a past attempt at reality TV. A pilot episode of ‘Nude Men Fishing’ was filmed but never quite made it to the editing suite. Could have been a hit, me thinks. This was to be followed by a second series of ‘Nude Men Sailing’ but that one didn’t even get passed the pub door. Only one other old man could testify to this being absolutely true – name and address supplied. Anyway, I digress. If you would like to spend 29 minutes of your valuable lives watching a silly old codger try to kill, cook and eat a mud crab then this is definitely for you.
If not, then here is a synopsis of events; buy crab, realise it’s alive, put in freezer to ‘sleep’, stab in the eyeball to make sure it’s dead (genuine error as it should have been the mouth but which hole is which?), back in the freezer as he’s obviously still alive’ (the stabbing sparked him into action, I can tell you!), tie him up, put it into boiling water but pot is too small, procure industrial size pot from canteen, boil him, cool him in ice, break off his claws and legs, eat the contents of his head and the meat from claws, make a small sandwich with remainder, retire for a nap. A certain spider-crab caught off the Isle of Wight and immediately cooked onboard the good ship Tom B’ aside, this was the finest, tastiest crab ever consumed. It will certainly be repeated but for now, there is a lobster giving it large at the fishmongers. It really was absolutely brilliant! Astonishing! Bit like a good book I know.
As the first chapter of a much anticipated novel nears completion, the job now at hand is to find a literary agent who is willing (or stupid enough) to take it on to punt around for a publication deal. Rave reviews accompany the opening chapter; ‘The new Harry Potter for the next generation’, ‘an exciting and devilish good read’, ‘a breath of fresh air in a stale world of clap-trap fiction’ “I couldn’t put it down, I still can’t, I carry it around with me everywhere’, and ‘an exciting new writer of sheer brilliance with a blinding talent for writing best-sellers that simply rakes in the dosh’. Admittedly all self-acclaimed but that should make those publishers sit up and take a bit of notice, eh? Maybe an anonymous benefactor will raise some funding on a ‘fund me’ website and get this literary masterpiece into print. Maybe not? Suffice to say, it’s a ‘rollicking good read’, based on many a true story gained from twenty-five miserable years in the casino industry; ‘a revelation with laugh out loud anecdotes’ (author’s acclaim again). Get in touch publishers and agents but only if you want to strike it rich with ‘a genius of the pen’ (I really must stop it now). For your delectation, a short extract from ‘Slugs, Snails and Casino Tales’.
Chapter 1 – Business as Usual
“Get his money!”
How do you top that?
Until the next time,
Run fast and stay low,