Saturday, 15 October 2011

Quick Quintet: After the Rain

5 Things I Like About the Rain:
  1. The sound it makes as it drums on the roof - as long as I am warm and dry inside
  2. The fact that it gives you an excuse not to do a fat lot
  3. The smell of the wet earth after the rain has stopped
  4. The way it helps plants and flowers to grow
  5. The wildlife that comes out to play in the puddles

Friday, 14 October 2011

Quick Quintet: We Go Together...

5 Top Colour Combinations:
  1. Red and white - it works for Liverpool FC, England, Father Christmas and me!
  2. Purple and green - designer types may call them aubergine and avocado, but whatever it's called, they just look good together
  3. Blue and yellow - sun, sky, sand, sea - it's a winning holiday combination
  4. Orange and yellow - spices in the bazaar; tantalising
  5. Black and gold - Greek vases and boxes of chocolates

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Quick Quintet: Tastes Like Chicken

Whenever people eat something a bit different - frogs' legs; snake; crocodile; squirrel - they invariably say, 'it tastes a bit like chicken'. This is probably because chicken is such a versatile meat that it can actually taste like almost anything itself, even squirrel. I like chicken - yes, free range organic and all that, and it goes very well in a variety of dishes.

5 Great Chicken Dishes:
  1. Roast chicken - with roast potatoes and fresh green vegetables, or in fresh white bread sandwiches with lashings of mayonnaise
  2. Lemon chicken - the Chinese restaurant in Marlow High Street was my introduction to this particular favourite
  3. Kadai chicken - a perennial winner at Indian restaurants worldwide
  4. Chicken Pad Thai - the benchmark of a good Thai restaurant, and usually a perfect serving size to leave you replete but not stuffed
  5. Chicken Mee Goreng - one of the best hangover cures ever

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Quick Quintet: Female monikers

A friend of mine has just had a baby (as yet un-named) girl - I offer my congratulations. Obviously the health of mother and baby is of paramount importance (they are both fine by the way, except the poor baby may be suffering from excessive cuddling - if there can be such a thing) but the naming will be a serious matter.

According to a recent survey the most popular girl's name in New Zealand is Olivia. The fact that the most popular male name is Oliver reveals either a lack of originality or a determination to call your child Oli; I'm not sure which.

I have a double confession - I haven't got a middle name (a fact which has always miffed me somewhat), and I used to dislike the name I have. Now, I really appreciate it - Katherine has a regal dignity to it; Kate is pure and elegant; Kitty is a Celtic twist; and Katy is an adorable way for my family and certain friends to show affection. Some call me Katie Pie, which I like because Kei Te Pai (pronounced the same way) means 'good' in Maori.

Now, I'm not for one moment suggesting that I have any influence at all on what moniker my friend may bestow on her baby (I don't like the name Monica, by the way - even before the Lewinsky/Friends associations), but I do have certain girls' names that I prefer to others.

5 Girls' Names I Like:

  1. Rachael/ Rebecca - I've never met one I didn't like
  2. Juanita - I read a book when I was a child where the heroine had this name - it might have been something by Rumer Godden - I forget the novel but I remember the name
  3. Sophie - although it does sound best with a Northern English accent
  4. Emma - even Jane Austen's self-obssessed heroine can't ruin this name for me
  5. Zoë - I have no idea why

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Quick Quintet: More Music

I used to love buying records. There was the trip to the record shop in Marlow, Maidenhead, High Wycombe or even London, flipping through racks of vinyl while feigning nonchalance and knowledge. And then bringing the thing home in a big bag and playing it over and over again on the turntable; scrutinising the sleeve notes and memorising the lyrics - you'd invite your best mate round or take the record to their place and you'd sit in semi-silence in a darkened room drinking cheap Soave from a porcelain mug and absorbing the ambience. No? Just me then.

Anyway, I don't buy much music now. I pick up the odd thing through the music press, personal recommendation, or random radio station, but the mainstream junk does very little for me. I don't own an i-pod or download music to save to my computer; I'm old-fashioned enough to like to hold the real deal in my hands, taking in the artwork and design, and listening to it all in the order the artist intended. So yes, it's been a while, but the latest albums (I still yearn to call them records) I've bought are as follows:

The 5 Most Recent Musical Purchases:
  1. Let England Shake - PJ Harvey
  2. Suck It and See - Arctic Monkeys
  3. The Horrifying Truth - I Am Giant
  4. Hollow - Cut Off Your Hands
  5. Build a Rocket Boys! - Elbow

Monday, 10 October 2011

Quick Quintet: Fictional Lions

The Weevil told me that she recently watched The Wizard of Oz for the first time ever, having previously been too scared of the witch. Her children kept asking her what was going to happen, and she couldn't tell them - I wouldn't tell them but would wait for them to find out; suspense is a wonderful thing.

My favourite thing in that film is the cowardly lion - of course he has courage all along, but he just doesn't know it. There is no point being brave if you haven't got a principle to support. I think I worked that out on first viewing. I must have been terribly precocious. Anyway, it got me thinking about my favourite lions, as you do.

5 Fictional Lions:
  1. The Lion that ate Albert in Marriott Edgar's poem
  2. Aslan from the Narnia series of books - I realised the god-complex involved and was a little bit of afraid of the fierce but fair beast
  3. The three lions on the England coat of arms
  4. Parsley the Lion from The Herbs
  5. The Lion King - I wasn't a fan of the film but when we saw it on stage at the Lyceum in London, I was blown away 

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Quick Quintet: High Days and Holidays

I used to love the summer holidays during my student years. I have heard that some people didn't - apparently they got bored. Where was their imagination? True, the holidays seemed to stretch on forever, but that was the joy of them. You could always postpone that essay on Marxist interpretations of linguistic theory while you went to pubs in the afternoon and drank real ale in the sunshine.

When I was little there were games to play, when I got older there were boys to see, and there were always books to read and, if you were lucky, countries to visit. Inter-railing around Europe was a teenage rite of passage. And then there were the summer jobs. We went hop-picking or worked in factories and shops to save up for the holiday, or the records, or the clothes or the fags. And we thought how lucky we were that we would never have to do this full-time. Clearly we were wrong, but we were young and life was fun.

Now life is still fun, but holidays are shorter and every day off is precious. When we can mark it with a celebration it is even better. Here are my favourite:

The Best 5 Holidays*:
  1. Christmas: Family; friends; food; bubbles; lights; tinsel; glittery stuff; good cheer and, if you're lucky, snow - who could ask for anything more?
  2. Easter: Now that I no longer have to run around the forest in my pyjamas, I love Easter. It's a time of rebirth and new beginnings; a chance to catch up with friends and family; lambs and daffodils; green grass and the promise of Spring.
  3. St George's Day: A chance to celebrate all things English, recite Shakespeare, listen to Britpop, drink real ale, eat cheese and pickle sandwiches and even indulge in a spot of Morris Dancing.
  4. Harvest Festival: The cornucopia of colours; the abundance of wine; the church  floral arrangements and window displays with sheaves of wheat; the bigs hats and village fetes; the collections of canned food for the aged; the chance to use words like bounty, abundance, and cornucopia.
  5. Guy Fawkes night: The smell of cordite and mischief in the air; bonfires, baked potatoes and toffee apples; fireworks exploding in showers of colour in the night sky; a brisk chill and the thought of witches; and, if I remember rightly, a damn fine rave or two.
* You will notice, these are all Northern Hemisphere-based holidays - as I've pointed out before; they just don't make sense down here.