Monthly Archives: February 2008

Everyday Tooting racism



Overheard outside St George’s this evening, a conversation between a middle-aged Indian bloke (MIB) and a late-middle aged guy of possibly middle-Eastern descent (MED):
MIB: …not so bad, but it’s the Rumanians and Bulgarians who are the real problem
MIB: Yes, it’s all gone down since they came
MED: You never used to see vodka on the streets. It’s the first time I’ve seen vodka on the streets in this country. And it’s ever since they came over here
MIB: Disgusting.
MED: They’re on the streets drinking at 8.00 o’clock in the morningWhat a load of b****cks. Get yourselves to a provincial English town and watch the (English) schoolkids drinking half-bottles of vodka out of brown paper bags before you blame it all on the East Europeans. Or even simpler, just stop reading the Daily Mail.

Juan Muñoz retrospective at the Tate Modern


bridge180.jpgFor years, whenever anyone mentioned the Tate Modern, I’d fall guiltily silent, because it’s one of those places that I hadn’t been to, and didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t particularly interested in going either. Despite coming from a family of artists (or perhaps because of it) I’ve never been that motivated to go and look at art, and particularly not modern art. Then one day a couple of years ago,I was passing by on my bike, and decided to go in. And in an instant, I was a changed person.  I realised that I didn’t really know my own tastes at all, because I didn’t exercise them much, but when it came to it, I actually liked a lot of modern art after all. And I loved the Tate Modern. It’s one of the best venues in London for just hanging out in, meeting people in, dropping in on a Sunday etc. A few pics of my trip yesterday here.

The most exciting moment of that first visit to the gallery back in 2006 was seeing Juan Muñoz’s Towards the Corner (1998). It lived and spoke like a piece of music that you could walk around in, and I was transfixed. That being the case, I was thrilled when I heard earlier this year that the Tate were doing a whole exhibition, Juan Muñoz, A Retrospective. I would have rushed down on the day it opened, but a number of other pressures and commitments meant I couldn’t. So yesterday, when the sun was out and I realised I had a couple of hours if I dashed down on my bike, off I went. It’s amazing. Go and see it.

I was interested to read this about Crossroads Cabinets (1999) “[…]a contemporary ‘cabinet of curiosities’
– the Renaissance idea of bringing together disparate objects, whether relics,
works of art, freaks of nature and other oddities into a single collection.” 
A bit like my blog, I thought, and wished that I called it ‘Jonathan’s Renaissance Cabinet of Curiosities’ instead of ‘boring but useful’ (especially as it’s neither of those particularly, anymore).

I also nipped into the Picabia, Man Ray & Duchamp exhibition, and picked up another wonderful book of Susan Sontag’s articles, this one containing a brilliant one on dance called ‘The Dancer & The Dance’.  I also became a member, and got in all the exhibitions for free, had lunch on the outside bit of the members room (it was warm) and got 10% off in the bookshop. My kind of Sunday.

I want a budda bag


scrambled_salmon.gifDan and I tried one of these in Fulham Road today. I’m afraid it’s a must-have.

On the left, sunflower seed bread with scrambled egg & smoked salmon. Slightly out of view, a salad of cucumber & coriander, julienned carrots & right out of view, tomato & mint salad. That’s a fairly typical breakfast these days. I’m beginning to think that breakfast is a much more interesting meal than dinner, thanks to low-GI eating.

More sundays like these


crisiswaht.jpgTo the ROH again to work with Ballet Black. It’s days like these that I love my job, to the extent that I almost envy myself doing what I do. Imagine being paid to play on a glorious grand piano in a cavernous studio at the Opera House with a studio full of gorgeous dancers doing lovely balletic things to the music that’s coming out of the piano.

Imagine, on a bright Sunday morning in February, being able to play music that you’ve always loved in an almost perfect acoustic, to a discerning but appreciative audience. Imagine drifting along briefly afterwards to the top floor cafteria at the top of the world in Covent Garden, and bumping into David Fielding (left), and a host of other people you know and love (going back over 20 years, in some cases) as well as meeting new people, who will undoubtedly be part of that wonderful constellation of friends & colleagues that sees you through the next 20 years as well.

Imagine cycling back down the Strand and through a demonstration in Trafalgar Square (incidentally, I didn’t know what the demonstration was about, but I was
staggered to hear a folk song that I have on a very arcane cassette of
Albanian folk music that I bought in Zagreb 25 years ago blasting out
of a car on the Strand. It all makes sense now I realise that the demo was to
do with  Kosovan independence), and up the Mall towards Buckingham Palace on one of the most glorious sunny days of the year so far (see pics).

Imagine being able to stop off at Clapham Junction on the way back, to have coffee with another old friend & colleague, in which work, pleasure & friendship are so mixed up, there are just no lines anywhere.

Not bad for a day’s work, I reckon.

Cigarettes in Herbal Hill



As fellow ex-smoker Chris & I were walking down Herbal Hill this afternoon (after lunch with fellow ex-smoker Dan), we happened upon the largest pile of fag-ends I’ve seen since, well, our own collective ashtrays on an average night in our smoking years. And then to St Georges, where patients in gowns paced around the carpark in the freezing cold, desperate to up their nicotine levels before returning to
hospitalization.  All familiar territory – but god, am I glad it’s over.

GI diet recipes #4: Grilled salmon with stuffed mushrooms



Also done in 20 minutes if you do it in the right order.

Put some basmati rice on to cook first

Salmon: Mix about a tbsp of sundried tomato pesto with two tbsp of low-fat Hellmans. Add in a few breadcrumbs if you want, or some bits of finely chopped fennel. Try adding anything to this basic mixture for fun (except parmesan cheese – it tastes vile with salmon). Cover the top of some salmon fillets with this.

Mushrooms next: mix up some breadcrumbs, black pepper, dried rosemary, the stalks from a packet of medium sized closed cup mushrooms, and a tbsp of olive oil. With a teaspoon, paste the breadcrumb mixture into the mushrooms – it can be domed on top.

Arrange the salmon & mushrooms on foil on a grill pan, and put under a hot grill for 18-20 mins.

Mean while, slice some courgettes, douse them in lemon juice, black pepper and olive oil, and then chargrill.

About 5 mins before you’re ready to serve, steam some snow peas.

While they’re cooking, grate about an inch of ginger, mix with half a tsp of mustard and a sloosh of soy sauce.

Put it all on a plate.

The breadcrumbs are not very low gi, and there’s more oil than a puritan would allow, but it’s all good fat.

GI diet recipes #3: 20 minute chicken salad



Douse a chicken breast fillet in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic & a pinch of cumin & black pepper (don’t let it rest, otherwise it will start to cook in the lemon juice). Chargrill.While it’s cooking, make 3 salads. 

Salad 1
Sliced tomatoes, chopped mint, balsamic syrup.

Salad 2
‘Bistro salad’ out of a bag + some cucumber, peeled and sliced on a mandolin. Dress as you like – this one’s got honey, mustard, garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil on it.

Salad 3
Chopped celery, courgette, red pepper, apple (peel on) & fennel. Dress it with a splash of lemon juice, then stir in a mixture of yoghurt, extra light Hellmans and ½ tsp of horseradish sauce. Add about a tbsp of Holland & Barrett salad sprinkle.

There’s a very high GI wholemeal roll on the side, but what the hell. 

And yes, all done in 20 minutes if you move fast.