A Mouth Full of Popcorn

My stomach already hurts in advance of my dinner – massive bag of Minstrels and a large vat of sweet and salty popcorn.

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That should see me through the film

For it is ‘date night’ – for want of a better word. And there must be better ways of putting it.

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#couplegoals

So – I’m ‘off out’ with my other half to the cinema, against his will for three reasons:

a) it’s midweek and he hates going out on a school night

b) he’s probably missing some sporting event on some obscure channel. Latest obsession is speed climbing. (Honestly, it’s a ‘thing’.)

c) he hates the cinema

BUT! Tonight, he is less reluctant, for the viewing material is his choice…

Well, my choice actually. In scrolling through Instagram, Kate Hiscox (@wearsmymoney) alerted me to the ‘one night only’ showing of Coldplay‘s documentary. Tonight. November 14th in case you are not reading this in real-time.

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I booked it and told him only that I was ‘taking him out somewhere, that it was a surprise, but that he would love it’.

Big mistake.

Huge.

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The next few hours resulted in Jack Bauer-esque interrogation and guesses about at what I had done/booked/organised/sorted.

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Until he finally worked it out. Loves a surprise my husband…

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Hates these too

Anyway, he worked it out and seemed okay with it.

Am hoping this is a rare cinematic occasion where he’s actually watches the cinema screen instead of his Twitter feed.

For he is not a cinema fan in general – too dark, too many people, means a late night for him – whereas I will go and see pretty much anything on at the cinema.

I love the immersive experience of it. The escapism, the dark, the phones-away element.

I even enjoy the adverts at the beginning, before you get to the trailers for new releases. Yup, I’m ‘that’ person. My favourite is for the sound system, featuring all the vibrating silver beads. (Don’t judge.)

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What? It soothes me

I’ve always loved logos and imagery and when the Touchstone Pictures logo popped up on screen, you knew you were in for a treat. I’ve selected a few favourites:

 

 

Pure joy in these films IMO

My preferred seat, if available, is end of aisle. Husband too, purely for the extra legroom.

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Me, I like it for the potential loo break if a film is over 2 hours, although I try to avoid excessive liquids in these situations, because I get scared if no-one else is in the ladies.

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Photo Credit: memecenter.com

I have flashbacks to a horror film from the 80s called ‘Demons‘. (There’s always an issue with horror films and loos.) The person either doesn’t return their seat. Or if they do return, then something bad has happened to them. In the loo.

In terms of the cinema itself, I’m really not choosy.

I love my local VUE. Great for Wagamama lunch option too.

The Everyman experience is wonderfully cosy, but the snacks aren’t up to much, although the cookie dough thing is pretty spesh.

Reel are a fab local option for me, especially over half term with a load of kids in tow. Doesn’t require a second mortgage.

Also, I have certain friends for certain films.

The crap dance films where the hoodlum boy falls in love with the posh girl over a love of dance. I have a great friend for that.

Or the super sad films where I will cry – alot – and know that my cinema buddy will not judge because she will be sobbing in equal amounts too.

Or the Bridget Jones-type films, where it requires a group of you to go en masse and then dissect the film on a whatsapp chat later that night, quoting favourite lines from it.

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So if you’re heading to the cinema tonight to watch this Coldplay film, please:

Don’t be super late. I am not standing up to let you down the aisle when I’m midway through enjoying the opening titles.

Don’t sit behind me and rest your shoes on the armrest gap bit. Especially in summer, wearing open toe shoes.

Don’t eat cheesy jalapeño nachos next to me, behind me, in front of me. Anywhere near me, thanks.

Off to empty my bladder for tonight.

Dx.

 

 

Back to the Future

To say that I am film-obsessed is an understatement. Maybe not as much today as in my youth, but I put that down to the loss of Joan Rivers fronting Fashion Police on E! However, this year the Oscars came good for me in the form of Marty McFly. (And the envelope drama at the end, of course.)

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Part of the ‘Be Kind, Rewind’ generation, my childhood bedroom was plastered wall-to-wall with pictures of my heart-throb Michael J. Fox, plus guest appearances from Andrew McCarthy, C. Thomas Howell and Kirk Cameron.

I would sit for hours on my faux-hamburger bean bag, creating imaginary meetings and conversations.

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Hello, old friend

My Guy and Look-In were torn apart for pictures, lyrics to chart hits and snippets of information about celebrities. My filofax, (because apparently I worked and needed a filofax aged 11), was full of notes from friends, acknowledging my fully fledged addiction.

I cut my teeth on shows like Mork & Mindy, Family Ties, Growing Pains and Fresh Prince. I couldn’t get enough of American films too: The OutsidersPretty in PinkCan’t Buy Me Love, Mannequin, plus all the Back to the Futures. Okay, so the third BTTF wasn’t so great but I managed to go to the Premier and that was big news for my 15 year-old-self. Alas, the Fox wasn’t there. His aunt had died.

But if there was a million-dollar question along the lines of “in which year did BTTF3 Premier?”, I would know without hesitation the answer is 1990. I know this because I was 15 in 1990 when I went to the Premier. Great scott – I’m a genius.

That same year, Pretty Woman was released. Not only did I own the same yellow Sony walkman that Julia Roberts had in the bathtub scene, but I also had a Hunza dress, made from that crinkly swimming costume material of her street walker outfit. Admittedly mine was less short and hooker-y, with a satin puff-ball bit at the bottom and black velvet splatters all over it .

 

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I feel I’m truly torn between the old and the new. How can I resist my old favourites when they are aired? Bueno Sera Mrs Campbell, Calamity Jane, The Poseidon Adventure, Tootsie and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – the list goes on. For years, I dreamt of marrying Russ Tamblin until I realised he was Tom Thumb, but then swooned again when I discovered him as Riff in West Side Story.

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“Now I know Tony like I know me…”

I also noted down in my Purple Ronnie diary that if I had a boy (with Michael J. Fox obvs), I would name him Caleb – after one of the seven brothers: Adam, Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frank and Gideon. (nB. This was proudly typed with no help whatsoever from Google.)

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Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

 

The feeling of being transported back to something memorable is just the best. Much like a song can remind me of a film, they have also become the soundtrack to my life:

Firstborn (emergency C-section) – ‘I don’t feel like Dancing’ by Scissor Sisters was playing in the operating theatre, so I know the song was released in 2006.

Secondborn (elective C-section) – ‘I Gotta Feelin” by Black Eyed Peas, so I know this was a 2009 release. (I’m great on radio phone-ins for ‘name that year’.)

On my wedding day, I didn’t want a traditional wedding song played as I ‘step-together’d’ down the aisle. I say ‘I’ because if left to husband it would have been ‘Ossie’s Dream‘.

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For me there was only one choice – ‘Moon River‘ from Breakfast at Tiffanys. My great Uncle Harry was the key chorist at Great Portland Street Synagogue and he sang so beautifully as I walked towards the tall, nervous man under the chuppah humming Ossie’s Dream.

A bit like the ‘useless’ knowledge Dev Patel picks up in Slumdog Millionaire, I can’t say that my memory has made me a millionaire, but I’ve checked, and the next episode of Mastermind features a specialist subject of Seinfeld. If they’re running with that, it can’t be long before I get my call to participate…

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“In which year did Michael J Fox’s aunt die?

 

Food for Thought

Food glorious food, I truly eat to live and still have my very first cookbook.

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I made these as a kid

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not obsessed by food (*thinks of sister-in-law’s spag bol and salivates*), but I do kind of, sort of, plan my day around what I’m eating. Husband is no different and will often walk in from work and lovingly greet the fridge as if it were another child.

I also have a fair few like-minded friends. There’s the one that compiles an ‘eatinerary’ for trips abroad, plotting what restaurants they will visit and the friend who has a dedicated meal-planning notebook. To be fair, notebook friend has to contend with a nut allergy, a milk allergy and a fuss-pot toddler. (Did I mention that she was a vegetarian?) Busy life, big family, after-school activities – you can see the sense in planning. As Benjamin Franklin says:

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Whilst husband calls me stubborn, I say ‘tenacious’. I hate to fail and firmly believe in the mantra:

‘If at first you don’t succeed, call it ‘Version 1.0′ and try again.’

For example…

Folding a fitted sheet correctly. Whilst my kids watch You Tube videos of FULLY GROWN ADULTS (ffs) opening ‘Shopkins’ packets, this is my ‘thing’.

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#Shopkins, shopkins! Once ya shop, ya can’t stop!#

Opening a jar of pickled cucumbers. Unless Ryan Gosling lives opposite me and I can feign weakness, me and the Jarkey can handle it.

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You really think I perfected my cheesecake the first time I made it? No chance. There were many versions and much critiquing. In my house we call it ‘TBF’. ‘Tried but failed’. TBF often gets used with dinners, clothing, the England squad. It’s so versatile.

Monday’s meal is always sacrosanct. The busiest day for after school activities, dinner needs to be a crowd-pleaser. Eldest calls it ‘Up the Bum Chicken and Crispy Rice’. (She’s very visual). Recipe at end of blog, but here’s a taster:

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Just look how the light catches her breasts…

Whilst I’m all for a cook-fest, I love eating at friends, going to farmers markets and trying new restaurants. I once read that you should always order out the dish you can’t/rarely make yourself. So if it’s Greek, I will almost always order chops. It’s not that I can’t cook them, but more that I can’t bear the lingering smell in my kitchen.

Posh or pokey, there has to be something that sticks in my memory and makes me want to return somewhere. I have a friend who by her own admission isn’t massively into cooking, but she once made a pasta bake and much like the blobs of oozing mozzarella she generously baked inside it, it sticks in my memory. As does her signature Banoffee Pie. I think she must add something magical to it, because I don’t even really like bananas.

Whether a place has got 3 Michelin stars or a drive-through, as long as its tasty, I’ll eat it. An unassuming pub near me does the most delicious burger and chips. Maybe it’s the dinky little condiment pots they bring to your table? The quaint wooden spoon with your order number on it? Or the cosy fireplace in winter? For me, I will go back every time for that dish. Only negative is that you pay at the bar upon ordering and I miss doing the ‘sign your palm’ thing we all do when we ask for the bill. (I also miss the ‘zip-zap’ noise from the old credit card machines.)

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Olden times

Whilst I enjoy reading social media threads about Penis Beakers or discussions about the best eye cream, I’m most happy when the focus is on food. My photo library is mainly foodie pics or screen grabs of recipes.

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Watermelon, Feta & Kiwi Cube. I will never, ever make this

As promised, ‘Up the Bum Chicken and Crispy Rice

Wash the chicken, don’t wash the chicken. Much like Brexit, it’s your choice and you will have your reasons.

Place chicken in an ovenproof dish. I use a Le Creuset dish. All about ease. One dish. Oven-to-table.

Pat chicken dry with paper towel. Salt and pepper all over. Cover with cling film and leave in fridge all day.

Rinse basmati rice until water runs clear and leave soaking in fresh water all day.

Remove chicken from fridge about half hour before cooking – I always cook from room temperature. Pat it dry again – helps crisp the skin.

Preheat oven to 200˚C.

Shove a whole onion and some garlic cloves, both unpeeled, up the chickens bum. I sometimes do a Jamie Oliver variation of this with a whole boiled lemon, garlic and thyme. I talked a friend through this  recipe, thinking nothing could go wrong. Foolish me. (She has since perfected it and now regularly makes it.)

Either way, it’s all up the bum stuff.  (Don’t worry – link is nothing sinister, just a clip from one of my favourite films ‘Wish You Were Here’, with Emily Lloyd. She was due to play Julia Roberts’ role in Pretty Woman. Fact.)

Spray chicken with some extra virgin olive oil and pour about half a cup of water around it. I mix in some chicken stock too. Shove in oven.

After an hour, pour drained rice around chicken.

General rule: 1 cup of rice, 2 cups water. 2 cups rice, 4 cups water, etc. Add some chicken stock to the water, pour onto rice and stir in s&p and a drizzle of oil. If you have time/inclination, fry over some diced onions and add to the rice, but I often just add dried crispy onions. Sometimes egg noodles too. Stir.

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Lazy option

Back in the oven for another half hour. Chicken cooks for 1.5 hours total.

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Rice angels. Never a grain of rice left

Some friends have argued this seemingly short cooking time with me, but I’m yet to kill anyone so I must be doing something right.

If all else fails, at least I can fold a fitted sheet properly…