Fashionista

There – I’ve done it!  I now have a rip in each knee of my Marks and Spencer black jeans!

It took a while to twig on that torn trousers aren’t the outcome of an unfortunate scrape with an ill-fitted screwhead or the perishing of cheap cotton, but are actually designed like that. And I’m not one to miss out on a fashion!

Admittedly, the tear is not as neat as some. The left knee in particular has a hanging flap of material rather than a slit; admirers would be entitled to wonder if the jeans were torn or part-cut to shorts. But they draw the eye – and that’s the point!

And the knees that now protrude are not, I suppose, my most endearing feature. Bulbous and veiny, they don’t quite replicate the smoothness of younger people’s. More like a barnacled whale surfacing. But I’ve not overheard anyone saying, ‘Take a look at that – what does he think he looks like?’ And in the grand scheme of living a life, would I care anyway?

In fact, I’ve gone as far as cutting a tinier slit at the top of the right thigh. One of those that gets passers-by thinking, ‘Was that a tear, or was it my imagination?’ More discreet than the knees and right up there with the trend, methinks.

The top slit also offers a teasing taste of the dragon tattoo I had installed a few weeks back. Designed by yours truly and pretty damn original, the dragon circles the entire thigh – fiery nose-to-tail  so to speak! I’m getting some great looks down the gym, although that could just be curiosity about the set of hoop earrings along my left ear. Individually they’d be nothing, but fitted as they are like the Olympic symbol they look great! Only the lucky ones get to see the matching navel stud!

The only thing with an earring set is keeping the ear clear to view. No point otherwise. My hair’s quite long, and I’ve been using a man bun for the last year or so. But I’m now seriously thinking of getting a one sided shave style and keeping it long and pointy on the right side only. I bet the bouncers at ‘Hard’ (my all-time favourite club) will love it! They still won’t let me in wearing my green Doc Martens or furry parka though. I’m working on it! Incidentally, the parka is identical to the one I wore on my Lambretta in the mid-60s. What goes round, eh?

Anyway, must dash. I’m well ready for a vape. Photos to follow; there’s only a couple of pictures left in my Box Brownie, then I’ll pop the film into Boots for developing.

 

Copyright © Paul Costello May 2016

 

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Ferrero Rocher

For a number of years I’ve sung with a group called Sounds Familiar. About twelve of us regularly sing at residential care homes and day centres, aiming to bring greater enjoyment to the lives of those perhaps less fortunate than ourselves. As the name suggests our songs, from the 30s to the 60s, hopefully sound familiar and people can easily join in if they wish. We love singing and it’s great seeing our passion shared by the people we sing for, either by singing along or just tapping their feet.

We’ve never charged to sing, but any donations we’re offered go to the local Alzheimer’s Association – so far we’ve raised about £3,000.

Occasionally I adapt the lyrics of a well-known song to offer a more entertaining performance both for audiences and ourselves. For the month of December we switch to our Christmas repertoire of traditional songs and carols, and for Christmas 2015 I adapted the words of We Wish You a Merry Christmas to depict what a typical Christmas Day might be like! Entitled Ferrero Rocher, the following lyrics were well received, though because of its mildly rude connotation we only included the ‘Aunty’ verse in settings where we knew it would be appreciated!

You are welcome to use these lyrics in your own performances, in which case it would be nice please if you’d mention my name and website.

Rocher_Ferrero

Ferrero Rocher  

(To the tune of ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’)

 Your poor tree has started flopping

The needles already dropping

The light lead is in a tangle

And a bulb doesn’t work

 

(Chorus)    Enjoy Christmas Day

Wave troubles away

Eat mince pies, After Eight Mints

And Ferrero Rocher

 

A scarf knitted by your grandma

A book that you never asked for

Some socks that you’ll never wear, and

The gloves are too tight

 

Enjoy Christmas Day

Wave troubles away

Eat mince pies, After Eight Mints

And Ferrero Rocher

 

Cheap crackers that won’t ignite, pa-per

Hats always very tight, cor-ny

Jokes only make you sigh, and

A small plastic frog

 

Enjoy Christmas Day

Wave troubles away

Eat mince pies, After Eight Mints

And Ferrero Rocher

 

The table is fully loaded

You eat till you’ve all exploded

There’s no money in the pudding

And you have to wash up

 

Enjoy Christmas Day

Wave troubles away

Eat mince pies, After Eight Mints

And Ferrero Rocher

 

The Queen’s message now of course is

Just before Only Fools and Horses

And a fire starting in East Enders

Brings festive good cheer

 

Enjoy Christmas Day

Wave troubles away

Eat mince pies, After Eight Mints

And Ferrero Rocher

 

Your aunty is soon departing

Spent hours on the sofa far … (tiny pause)

Too much food, and it won’t be long till

You can all go to bed

 

Enjoy Christmas Day

Wave troubles away

Eat mince pies, After Eight Mints

And Ferrero Rocher

 

(Chorus

 tune)         And wherever you are

Both near and afar

We wish you a Merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year

 

Merry_Christmas

Copyright © Paul Costello November 2015

www.paulcostello.me

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Costello – Writer       Website: www.paulcostello.me       Twitter: @PaulCostello8

Donuts and Toilets

On a recent trip to Stroud I spotted a postie delivering letters to the Wy Wong takeaway, and since my mind works in mysterious ways I imagined that the white envelopes scattered across the mat were from dissatisfied customers answering that very question.

2014-08-30 13.56.43‘Because it wasn’t the weightwatchers version I asked for,’ might be one reply, or ‘because as always I was still hungry after eating it.’ Or simply, ‘because you forgot to put in the prawn crackers.’ That sort of thing.

Naturally, I jotted these thoughts in the Moleskine writer’s notebook that follows me around, its pages rich with wacky catering snippets – a source of writing inspiration only surpassed by people’s moronic mismanagement of mobiles in public.

A lot of material has come from Indian Restaurants – probably because I’m in them so often. The chicken madras in the Rice ’n Spice at Haywards Heath according to the menu contained ‘avid black pepper’. In the Bengal Lancer at Llanelli you could get a ‘potion of chips’ (spooky).The Bilash at Rugeley offered ‘King Prawn Roshuni – a pleasant dish of king prawns made by our chef,’ which sounded, well, really pleasant. When I hurried the order along at the Jalsagor in Hereford the manager said he’d ‘hasten the papadums in a minute.’ And in the Taste of India at Leominster the menu described chicken tikka as ‘tender pieces of lamb cooked in …’. I wondered if it might have been ‘torn’ chicken – torn, that is, between whether it was a chicken or a lamb. It got eaten, so we can’t ask it now.

Elsewhere, a sign in Tesco exhorted me to buy puddings: ‘Life’s Short – Eat Dessert First’. In the same store a man asked the shelf filler if they had any Camp coffee. ‘Ooooo, I’m not sure. Now let me see-ee.’ And in a lovely cafe called Quinns in Worcester the menu offered ‘a lovely large bowl of home-made soup, lovely salads, lovely old-fashioned puddings and orange squash served in a lovely plastic cup with a straw’. Lovely. I was, however, appalled to see 30p for a glass of tap water with ice and lemon at Nice Things cafe in Ledbury, a charge sensibly removed by new owners.

Further afield, I liked the English blackboard menu outside the Hotel Verol Restaurant, which included chicken breast with chips, chicken wings with chips – and chicken tights with chips, presumably a thirty denier Las Palmas speciality.

I'm sure there's a chimp in here somewhere.

I’m sure there’s a chimp in here somewhere

And during a three-night stay in Bangkok I took a shine to a nearby fish restaurant – Kuang Seafood – which had numerous fish tanks fronting the street. Families and business people filled the room each evening, waiters brandishing huge trays of mouth-watering delicacies and chefs periodically lowering their nets into the bubbling homes of red snappers and catfish. In Thailand what we know as prawns are called shrimps; and tucked among the long list of shrimp dishes I found ‘Baked Chimp with salt’. I didn’t fancy the salt and opted instead for crab curry and fried rice with fish.

On the move, I particularly enjoyed the jolly Welsh trolley man on Arriva trains between Manchester and Cardiff. Happy in his work and determined to offer travellers a new experience, his operatic rendition of ‘Just One Cornetto’ lightened the atmosphere of a crowded carriage, as did his later promotion of sea serpents and snake venom in as deadpan a way as one might sell Walkers crisps or KitKats.

And on a bus near Gloucester I overheard a woman telling fellow travellers they should try a cafe in Herne Bay, Kent which sold ‘the best garlic bread in the world’. Okay – tomorrow perhaps.

I’m used to restaurants glossing their menus; outrageous descriptions are now so commonplace that I rarely bother noting them. A roadside Brewers Fayre listed ‘fresh, hand-battered, pole-and-line caught Cornish cod, served on a bed of chef’s chunky, crispy-dipped potato strips and topped with a jus of caper-infused mayo rich in mountain tarragon’. To you and me, fish and chips with tartar sauce. Even M&S gets in on the act with ‘handcrafted, British pork sausage rolls’. And I found a fine example at the Seven Stars pub in Ledbury: ‘complex, muscular yet graceful, with fine length and lovely maturity’. Not as I had imagined some sort of sex service, but a bottle of Bolinger for fifty quid. A stark contrast with the pundit on a TV wine tasting who glugged some red and got ‘a WVS clothing store’.

2014-11-04 11.04.31

Only last week I found that a Weston-super-Mare seafront cafe had thoughtfully placed its menu on the outside wall.

Only two choices. But which first, that’s the exciting thing?

Eenie, meenie, miney …

 

 

Copyright © Paul Costello November 2014

Utterly Undiscovered by Paul Costello. A hilarious Bed and Breakfast memoir set in deepest Shropshire. Order through bookshops or direct from http://www.fineleaf.co.uk

Website: www.paulcostello.me                 Twitter: @PaulCostello8

Marmite and Anchovies

Ask a hundred people, ‘Do you like Marmite, yes or no?’ and there’d be near enough fifty in each camp. Marmite is the old favourite – the one that comes to mind. Ask another hundred, ‘Which product do you most associate with loving or loathing?’ they’d all say Marmite. Clever marketing by Unilever, I’d say.

And it offers a spirited avenue for social exchange. In a room full of strained conversation, Marmitetry yelling:

‘Listen everyone! Hands up those who like Marmite.’

Half the people raise a hand and the mood lightens. The ‘Not been a bad day’ gambit is gone, and conversations move swiftly on.

But Marmite doesn’t have it all its own way. There are plenty of other contenders.

‘Do you like anchovies?’ would not be the greatest chat-up line on a blind date. Personally I love the salty little creatures, especially to spice up a pizza topping. Change the question to black pudding (or lard – same thing) and you might get a good slap. But I’d wager the outcome for both on a wider headcount would be 50-50.

And it’s not just food where opinion is polarised. Social media is a good candidate. From its original idea of connecting people socially, Facebook has developed into a must-have tool for commercial organisations and those espousing causes like ‘Save the Thin-Skinned Wombat’ or ‘Buy My Hand-Crafted Lemon Curd.’ I should know – I use it to promote my book, Utterly Undiscovered.

www.fineleaf.co.uk/titles/utterlyundiscove.html

There – I’ve just done it again! But to use Facebook and Twitter effectively, you have to trawl through a mountain of other stuff, and I hate that. I’ll bet a joint survey of users and non-users would confirm split interest.

Staying with electronics, the Kindle is a contender. Yes, usage grows apace and book sales have shrunk, but pros and cons for each format surely leave equal numbers enjoying both.

Book ReaderThe same applies to predictive text (PT). I’ve had mobiles where PT works perfectly and others where the text comes out weird or rude. For everyone who swears by PT, I know as many people, some far techier than me, who loathe it – though qwerty keypads have to an extent sidelined its use.

Back to food, and how about kippers? Traditionally a breakfast dish, yet arguably one of the sharpest, most lingering tastes you could offer a palate dried up by eight hours of rushing air. In Utterly Undiscovered, My Basil loves telling guests about the bride-to-be who stayed the night before her wedding and chose kippers for breakfast. Definitely an acquired taste – you love ’em or hate ’em.

Olives evoke a similar response. Personally I like green olives, de-pipped and stuffed with pimento, anchovy or cream cheese. But I’m less keen on unpipped, unstuffed olives, especially black ones, where the sourness of the olive prevails. There are those who won’t touch them and those who demolish a whole bowl, waiting for the chicken to come off the barbecue.

On the move, I love public transport. Always have done – bus, train, boat, plane. It’s escapism and adventure – away from routine and responsibility. Must be the nerd in me – from train-spotting days on the Southern Region. And these days, as a writer, it offers a rich source of material, not just about places I go but people’s behaviour. But there are as many who use public transport only as a last resort, preferring the security and control of their own car.

The train may take me to a National Trust property, where I’m offered a guided tour. I loathe guided tours. The herding nature of tour guides means going at the pace of the slowest and in the direction you’re told. I remember once a guide calling ‘Come by!’ like One Man and his Dog. And does it really matter whether things happened in 1489 or 1490? I’ve paid my hundred pound entrance fee and want to poke around by myself. But for others, the tour is a godsend – safe, sociable and included in the two hundred pound entrance fee.

AnchoviesOr I might be on the way to a reunion, as long as it’s with a few close friends. Three or four hours in a room with forty others, usually same sex, many of whom weren’t friends fifty years earlier, haven’t been in touch since and likely won’t be again is hard work. But many people do thrive on such reunions. I suppose it’d be okay talking about Marmite. Or anchovies.

Other foods spring to mind. ‘Bits’ in orange juice seem equally loved or hated. Likewise mushy peas. I enjoy both – nothing like mushy peas with fish and chips occasionally.

And a major contender must be offal, particularly liver. A cheap and plentiful source of protein and iron, liver was, until the outbreak of BSE (Mad Cow Disease), a commonplace product, warranting eye-level space on supermarket shelves. But when cattle began turning in circles and being put down, politicians, who spend their entire working lives turning full circle and putting each other down, banged the final nails in the offal coffin. I love a rich liver and bacon casserole. I make a good one myself, and I’m always delighted when an enterprising cafe places it proudly at the head of the menu. Consigning these tasty innards to a small corner on the top shelf surely belies their popularity.

So those are my contenders for ‘Love or Loathe’. There must be more. If you think of any, ask a hundred people on the street, and let me know.

Paul Costello © September 2013

UTTERLY UNDISCOVERED by Paul Costello

Hilarious tales from a Shropshire Bed and Breakfast!

cropped-paul-and-book-7-13-3.jpg

Available through bookshops (ISBN 978-1-907741-30-2) or direct from Fineleaf Editions

www.fineleaf.co.uk/titles/utterlyundiscove.html

A fabulous holiday read!

www.paulcostello.me

@PaulCostello8