Sunday night listening to Tom Waits

I was probably about 19 years old when I first heard Tom Waits. So that is about thirty years listening to him and now my children, or at least the eldest one, are getting close to 19 and it seems about time that they should be getting him too. So I have decided we are listening to nothing but Tom all week and for Sunday night we have started with One from the heart. 

We will see how we get on.

Outside it has been the last day of our Indian summer. There are brown leaves on the ground but it feels as if the trees are all holding back and keeping their green leaves up there to take the last few days benefit of heat in the sun. The ground has been brittle and dry and I spent time this afternoon clearing some space for garlic. The seeds should arrive this week from the Isle of Wight. I have grown garlic before when I shoved a couple of cloves into the ground and forgot about them for six months.

It was warm enough for the barbeque this afternoon. I cooked a spatchcocked chicken marinaded in garlic, lemon juice and sumac. But the highlight was the squid.

All that Wards had yesterday were huge squid too big for the pasta I was going to cook. Last night I used up the tentacles and a few slices from the body and the rest of the sac went into the fridge.

As the barbeque got to its hottest I took the squid out of the fridge and cut it in two. I then put a few light cuts down it and smeared it with garlic, olive oil and chilli.

It only needed a couple of minutes on the rack over the coals and it was done. It was then sliced up up and mixed in with chickpeas, rocket and more olive oil. My lunch tomorrow.

And another thing about last night …

And another thing about last night – I was asked why it was that I became a lawyer and the best thing I could come up with was a combination of Petrocelli and a lack of imagination. Then all I could remember of Petrocelli was that he lived in a trailer and his wife had blonde hair. A dubious couple of chareteristics to base a career on. Serves me right I suppose.

Did I mention how bad the food was. I wasn’t paying so there should be no complaining but I went looking forward to something half decent. But you can tell things have gone wrong when the highlight of the meal was the sugared mint leaf and two raspberries plonked on top of the pudding.

There was some confusion as to what the pudding was. Someone though it was a lemon tart only spoiled by the spoonful of goat’s cheese served on the side. I thought it was some sort of attempt at Crème brûlée and the reason why my neighbour thought it was a lemon tart was the sourness it had developed whilst going past its use by date. As for the goat’s cheese that was sour cream that was not meant to be sour.

There have also been culinary joys at home this evening. The weekend was set off nicely on coming home last night to find a scene of devastation in the kitchen. There were good marks for children for making supper but these were shot down by the chopped up pieces of onion left on the chopping board, the opened tins of tomatoes and the miscellaneous knives, forks, plates and cups that had made it half way across the kitchen towards the dishwasher and had then somehow lost the will to go any further.

Come morning all children seemed determined to blame each other including the youngest who seemed to think she had done enough on getting one of her siblings to pick her plate up and then to take herself off to bed.

There has been a form of revenge this evening by serving them fish. There was some sort of perverse pleasure in telling them they were having pasta for tea and watching the relief spread over their faces and then following that it up with the  news that the pasta was coming with mussels, squid, prawns and red mullet. Notwithstanding the sour faces it was all pretty good and most of it got eaten.

There were no small squid so I picked up a monster. I was reminded whilst buying that that there maybe something therapeutic in cleaning the one squid there’s bugger all calming doing a hundred. This one was a mass of black ink and as I washed it down the sink I regretted not deciding to make some black rice and then remembered the approbation that would have been heaped on my head if I tried.

As the water for the pasta came to the boil I fried off garlic in olive oil and allowed to take on some colour. A dozen or so halved tomatoes were then tipped into that.

A small pan with a lid was put on a high heat and I threw in the two handfuls of mussels. They were given a shake after three minutes and then left alone.

Another pan was then put on a high heat. Olive oil was added. As it started to smoke I put in the prawns seasoning as I went with salt and pepper. They took about three minutes and I put them into the pan with the garlic and tomato.

The pan went onto the high heat and I put in the sliced squid. I am paranoid about squid. Either it needs to be cooked fiercely for about a minute or it needs to be left for hours. The only inbetween is a  soggy elastic band in the mouth. I just about got them before they started to toughen and they went into the other pan together with the mussels and their juice

There was a bit of liquid in the bottom of the large pan and I stirred some creme fraiche into this.

The pasta was about done now but still needed a minute. So the small pan went back on the heat and I took the time to cook off four red mullet fillets.

It was then a quick matter of assembly:-

– drain pasta and pour into large, warmed bowl

– pour over prawn, mussel, tomato, squid sauce

– make it look good

– lay over the red mullet fillets

– season well with as much salt, pepper, chopped parsley as it needs.

Then eat. There were some in the family that just ate the pasta. The rest ate the rest.


Future cities and Living Good

So that was an interesting night. Somewhat unexpectedly I had been invited to dinner at the Tate. The meal was part of a series of events taking place over the weekend on and around the theme of The Future City which will include coach trips out to Anfield to hear some of the biography of Homebaked through the narratives of the people who made it happen.

The invite said 7.00pm and I got there early. in someways this was the highlight of the evening. It was glooming with the sun going down in a pink sky and the Mersey was looking good and so it was good to spend ten minutes leaning on the metal railing fence and watching the water, one of the ferries arcing over towards the Wirral and other boats heading out to sea.  There were people walking around, tourists and locals, and there was a sense of what a good space could be by the river. Then it was time to go in.

Inside I felt something of an interloper. Apart from a C grade in my O’level art acquired some 35 years ago there is now nothing about me that would allow me to get away with giving a positive answer to the question ‘Are you an Artist?’ And the confessing up to being a lawyer sounds a bit of a let down. Fortunately I wore my Harris Tweed suit and wearing wool on a warm evening towards the end of September is as good a talking point as any.

There had obviously been an interesting day of talks on the topic of future cities with there being some quiet conflict between those who see regeneration purely through the eyes of development and ultimately profit and those who would like to apply a little more imagination to the process. I thought back to the buildings I had walked past and through to get to the Tate. The black monsters on Mann Island looming over that part of the city. How long are they going to look shiny and new and what use will they put to in a hundred years time or will they be ground back into the ground by then.

During the dinner I found myself trying to talk to the arts editor about it. The building we were in was more than a hundred years old and not as a means itself for profit but as a storehouse for grain and the other goods that came up the Mersey. But the black monsters had been built so they could be filled with apartments, hotels and shops. It seems as if there is a colossal lack of imagination that surrounds any realistic expectation of what our future cities might be. I am not sure I made much sense to the lady from the Echo and I suspect that she was bemused when the best that I could come up with to describe what we should be aspiring to was ‘something nice’!

at this point it would be good to put in a picture of the sun setting over the Mersey but there was no camera to hand but I am listening to Dan Penn singing I’m Living Good which sort of the same.


Listening to Roy Harper drinking beer

Home alone for two evenings with the kids and still in one piece. The cats have disappeared and the laptop is still working and the kitchen table is covered in the mess made by the eldest two’s art. Random art seems to involve random mess to be cleared up later.

Home alone is a good opportunity to stock up on new music to help stave off any chance of boredom. Yesterday I picked up Roy Harper’s new album. He is 75 and still going strong.

He is one of those names that lurked around the edges of the 1970’s, singing with Pink Floyd on Wish you were here and giving his name to Led Zeppelin’s  Hats of to Roy Harper but I have never really been able to get much of a grip on him.

Years ago I bought a second hand copy of HQ, partly because I liked the cover but more because I wanted to be able to listen to him singing When an old cricketer leaves the crease. That was probably all I listened to. Last year it was re-released on CD and I spotted a copy in Probe and listened to the rest of it and found myself enjoying it.

I listened to the new album on the train down to Nottingham this morning. Having done my small amount of work it helped set me off to a good deep sleep. That is a good thing.

Back in Liverpool this afternoon there wasn’t time to go back to work but I had to into Sport’s Direct to pick up a pair of Speedo’s which for some reason are required for son. It is not really the season for picking up swimwear. The good thing was they were all in the sale. The bad thing was they men’s and women’s were all tucked down near the floor and I found myself pulling out pink bikini bottoms trying to work out which sex they were for. Sport’s Direct is not my natural habitat.

Walking back to the car I managed to pass The Ship in the Bottle and picked up a couple of bottles of golden hoppy ale to go with supper.

Supper was meatballs in tomato sauce and spaghetti. It went down very well.