Monday, 26 August 2013

Yes, We Have No Curry

Keep it coming!

But surely you miss having a decent pint of English beer, don't you? And then there's the question about how it must be hard not having BBC 1 to watch, or having no Sunday newspapers, just like we have back at home.
And so these are just some of the things which I'm often asked, by British  people,  since I arrived in Normandy all of those years ago.
And my response is always the same. Firstly, if you're talking about having a decent pint of Kronenbourg or ice-cold Heineken, just like you enjoy drinking back in dear old Blighty, you must consider, if your very small brain is able to consider anything, that Kronenbourg is French, and Heineken is about as English as the Great Wall of China. And as for the BBC - well, here's a great British institute which is rapidly falling apart, and has nothing better to offer us than Eastenders and Strictly Come Dancing. And as for the Sunday newspapers which we all love and adore...
But if one can live without television and newspapers, one thing which is sorely missed over here is Indian cuisine. There are no Indian restaurants in my part of the world, and although the thought of burning the roof of one's mouth with a vindaloo may seem a trifle strange, sometimes I just wish that I could get in my car, drive into town and satisfy my craving for all things hot and spicy.

Of course, the French do sell microwaveable curry meals, but these are about as appetising as sandpaper, and about as spicy as jelly babies. No, what I want is at least a decent vindaloo, with all of the wonderful things which should accompany a good curry. The owner of the Turkish restaurant which I sometimes use DOES have chicken curry on the menu, and to be fair to him, it's not that bad. However, there are no Indian-style side-dishes, and the interior of his hotel lacks the decor which makes an Indian restaurant what it is: huge brass elephants, images of the Taj Mahal and the traditional background music.

My wife, who is French, finds it difficult to understand why a man would want to put his body through so much agony, just to enjoy a good, spicy meal. However, this doesn't prevent her from occassionally cooking me a chicken curry, which I insist must leave my mouth burning with rage. At last, after several attempts, she has finally come to understand that spicy food will result in a happy husband, although I must admit that snails in garlic butter are also quite good.

So if you're (a) reading this, (b) very rich and (c) not quite sure what to do with your money, come over to my part of the world, buy a restaurant - there's loads of them up for sale - and turn what was once a crummy pizzeria into an Indian restaurant. And be assured that it WILL be a good investment, because I know of at least one person who will be wanting a table every Friday night.

And don't forget the bloody elephant and the Taj Mahal.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Joys Of Driving In Britain

Dirty toilets, expensive food and terrible service, but...

Oh what a pleasure it once was, after driving for hours along one of Britain's overcrowded and crumbling motorways, to be able to stop the car and stretch one's legs in a Little Chef restaurant.
There used to be hundreds of the red and white buildings scattered throughout the land, but following his fall from grace, and the emergence of swankier motorway service areas, our dear friend is on his last legs, and the number of restaurants has dwindled to just a few.
Park the car, get out and admire the scenery. The bins are overflowing with rubbish and there's a terrible stench of exhaust fumes wafting in from the nearby petrol station. But don't hang around outside, because inside is the place to be.

This is GREAT!

A smiling girl greets you, and when you tell her that you would like a seat next to the window, she happily leads you to your desired table, wiping away crumbs and spilt coffee with a cloth which has seen better days.
Do you want tea or coffee, as you scan the menu? Well, I'll have tea, but it's a hell of a job wondering just what I'm going to eat. The girl is back with a small pot of boiling tea and a dirty cup in which to pour it. Have you decided what you want? The fish and chips sounds quite good, but not as good as those which you can get back at home, and I haven't come all of this bloody way to eat an omelet and chips. No - it will have to be the Olympic Breakfast, which is served all day, and the thought of which is already making my mouth water.
The girl returns to the kitchen, and when the chef returns from smoking his cigarette, he gets to work on preparing my mammoth meal. The smell of sizzling bacon and sausages fill the stale air, as my thinly-sliced chips fry merrily away. I burn my tongue on my tea, as the chef busies himself with my fried bread, mushrooms and baked beans. A family of four are greeted by the smiling girl, and as they are driven like sheep to a table in the corner of the restaurant, the mother - a dreary looking individual who's having a hard time with the kids - comments on the smell coming from the kitchen. But all I'm interested in is my plate of greasy, unhealthy, calorie-charged food.

And there she is before me, like an angel, holding before her my meal. I look at the array of colours and smile: THIS is going to be GREAT. The bacon is salty - but that's not a problem. The chips are slightly overcooked - but you can't have everything in life. The fried egg should be running over my sausage - but the chef is having a bad day, and the egg is overcooked. Thank God that the fried bread is just as it should be - dripping in fat.

The family of four have opted for the fish and chips. Silly bastards, I think, as I pay the bill and head off to the toilets. The urinal is cracked and filthy, the floor is sticky and someone has scribbled their telephone number across the mirror. There's no soap in the dispenser and the towel is frayed at the edges. But with my bladder emptied and my stomach full, a sticky floor doesn't seem to really matter.

The girl wishes me a safe journey, and as I hear the mother complaining about her fish, I really want to scream out that she should have gone for the Olympic Breakfast.

Outside, the air is laced with diesel fumes, as a lorry goes rumbling by. Another happy family pulls up, and as the father eases himself from his car, I feel like telling him that it's best if he has the Olympic Breakfast. The man then starts talking French. Oh dear - this is going to test the smiling girl's patience to the limit, and the chef has probably never cooked for our continental cousins.

I pull away from the restaurant, smiling about just how Jean-Paul is going to overcome the language barrier, and as I see the familiar red and white building in my rear-view mirror, I let out an almighty saugage/bacon/fried bread/baked beans/mushrooms/chips-scented belch.



Friday, 16 August 2013

Oh What Fun We're Going To Have!

We're now off to Normandy, with Clare, Deano, Phil and Sarah - who are all SO excited about going on holiday.
But will their stay in France leave them feeling relaxed and calm, or will the four friends wish that they had stayed at home?

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The A To Z of Cooper & Joy - Part 2

D is for destroy. Destroy what destroys YOU, before it is too late. Tony Joy is a firm believer in destruction - destroying the lives of all those around him, but not his own. But even he cannot be blind to the fact that he too will also be destroyed, and self-destruct. Let's hope that his downfall is not too long in coming.

E is for escape. Their terrible deeds have finally caught up with them. They can no longer call Catford home, for if they choose to stay here they will have to answer for their crimes. But where will they go? The North could be another safe haven, just like London was in the beginning. And the South? Well, they do like to be beside the seaside...

F is for fear. Terrorising young women is something which Tony Joy lives for. To him women are just objects - they are there to be threatened and abused. How many women will he overpower? How many times will he regret his actions? Is he like he is because of his terrible childhood? Poor Tony was never a happy child, but is this a reason to vent his hate in such a vile manner?

G is for God. He is on Tony's side. He will guide Tony through the hardest of times. Tony is clearly insane, and when Dave Cooper hears for the first time, direct from Tony's mouth, that God will protect them, even he must admit that his friend is plainly mad, and in need of help.

To be continued.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The A to Z of Cooper & Joy

So now that the final part of "The Londoners" trilogy has been published, and Cooper and Joy have made their final appearance, here are just a few things which we have come to learn about two of the oldest teenagers in town.

A is for alcohol. Their preference is for lager, but they have been known to "ease the pain" with whisky. Tony Joy refuses to admit that he is an alcoholic, saying that if someone else had been in his shoes, during his miserable time in the Big City, they too would have turned to drink. Needless to say, throughout "The Londoners" trilogy, our two heroes spend a great deal of their time in their favourite pub, which is a safe haven, and a place where they run to when their world is crashing down around them.

 B is for bulging eyes, just like the ones above, which Tony uses to intimidate his victims. Dave reckons that Tony's eyes are the first thing you notice when you meet the man for the very first time. It is with these eyes that Tony mentally undresses all the pretty girls who come into the pub, and it is with these eyes that he drills fear into his victims. Now picture the shaven head, the bloated neck and the flabby stomach, and you will see Mister Joy standing right before you.

C is for Catford, where Dave and Tony believe that life will be just great. A pub to get drunk in, a twenty-four hour mini-market to steal from, and a filthy café where they can stuff their faces with greasy and unhealthy food. But Catford is far from paradise on earth, for it is here that our two friends will endure a terrible time. If only they had gone further up the line...


To be continued.