My Husbands New Film

Check out the trailer of my husbands new film. Be warned it is quite racy. Oh-er missus!

PLEASE do not watch is you are under 18 or easily offended.

A full official scene from ‘id-iology’ will be released onto Vimeo on Monday 21st May.

Official id-iology site: http://www.id-iology.com/

Black Barn website: http://blackbarnproductions.co.uk/

The New York Times does Dollar Store

Courtsey of Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

What every human seeks is companionship, the feeling that among all the billions of people on this planet of ours there is at least one person that can see you for who you are and shares common beliefs.

I am not alone.

The New York Times journalist, Henry Alford, has ventured into the world of 99 cent store dining. His aim was to create a meal a night using only ingredients from the dollar store and then end this experiment with a dinner party for some poor souls …. or friends as we like to call them.

Alford found that the dollar stores didn’t have any butter, good olive oil, flour, fresh vegetables. So far so British pound shop. But it seems that American stores have refrigerated sections. Oh the luxury! So Alford made a chicken dish one night (I’ve sampled canned meat but I think I would have to draw the line at 99p chicken…) and made soup with frozen peas (yum) and broccoli.

I was interested to know whether the journalists dinner party was of the same, ahem, calibre as my own dinner. As soon as I read that his first course was an antipasto tray consisting of pepperoncini, olives, artichoke hearts, salami and Brie, I knew the answer. Finding artichoke hearts in my pound shop would be like finding a Christmas tree in the Sahara desert. This course was followed by chilled pear soup with a star anise floating on the top for decoration. STAR ANISE?! Artichoke hearts?! What sort of pound shop was this? The gourmet Upper East Side pound shop? A pound shop in Brunei? My pound shop is in an area of London called Holloway. It would be hard enough to find those ingredients in a local Holloway shop let alone in the pound shop.

To continue to read from Alfords menu would depress me. You can read the results for yourself here.

Suffice to say his pecan dessert looked very pretty and tasty though perhaps it lacked the ‘creativity’ of my dinner party cakes. At least thats what I like to tell myself.

Sign Language

The peeps at the extinct Bad Gas website did what no-one else has been bored enough to do and collected photos of pound shop signs. Here’s a selection (all following text and pictures courtsey of © Bad Gas 2003-2007)

The pound coin; the word “pound”; the £ symbol. They stimulate a Pavlovian buying reflex in poor people…The unavoidable logic of the Regal-smoking, dole-sucker runs thus: “That shop sells all sorts of crap for a pound; I have some pounds in my pocket; I will buy all sorts of crap.” Tapping into this thought process is the key to clawing back some of your income tax.

As with all successful low-end retail operations, you need a shop front that can lure the blurry-tattooed, pushchair-pushing, burger-munchers away from the daily booze-and-fags run to Budgens. To this end, you need four ingredients: clumsy wording, pound signs, tattiness and tackiness.

Bright colours can be a very useful tool for hypnotising penniless passers-by. But make sure the shop looks dirty enough or they won’t feel comfortable entering.

Remember: the customer always has a choice. But apparently not the choice to pay just one pound. The shifty plus signs lurk amidst the gaily dancing pounds to ensure that the Trade Descriptions Act is obeyed. Clever.

Smash the punter in the face with a big green word. And it works, too. This shop is so popular that people have been stealing pieces of the sign as mementoes.

A hand-painted fascia can give your outlet a personal air. And the sinister coin shape lurking behind the list of items on sale is a consumer psychologist’s wet dream.

There are so many letters missing in this sign that the pound-shopper has to stop and stare to work out what it says. By that stage they are hooked.

Dinner Party from (Pound Shop) Hell

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Remains of Will’s Hansel and Gretel Cake

“At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.”

- W. Somerset Maugham

The great writer would have been sorely disappointed if he had arrived at my pound shop dinner party on that chilly November evening. My guests certainly did not eat well or wisely.

Finding guests to come had been surprisingly easy. My friends were curious to see what I’d created and foolishly not scared of possible food poisoning. Maybe I should have have written that disclaimer on the invite: ‘the host takes no responsibility for the death of her guests.’ But without knowing that their lives were in peril, I had six people arrive at my house one Saturday evening. One guest had bought a tiramsu with them as a gift specially sourced from their local pound shop in Surbiton. Knowing as I do that a tiramsu is usually made with fresh cream and alcohol, I suspected this might not be the nicest tasting version of the italian dessert ever made. I quickly checked myself: who am I to complain when I was about to serve my guests soup made with coffee creamer?

Yes my infamous coffee creamer bean soup was the first course. I can understand how disgusting it is to contemplate a soup made with a powder intended as a substitute to cream but I think the soup is rather nice – its creamy, and with the addition of butter beans and fair amount of stock, pretty tasty too. Everyone agreed: they’d never have guessed it wasn’t made with cream and…SHOCK HORROR…people even asked for seconds. It could only go downhill from here.

And that’s exactly where it was headed; straight down the culinary ladder from Michelin to Little Chef in one course. Oh the main course. Horror movies could be written about it with the main course in the starring role. That’s how ugly, horrific and wholly unappealing it was to look at.

I had an idea to make a Moroccan tagine. I knew that I could pretty much get all the ingredients needed form the pound shop: almonds, apricots, tomato sauce, some spices, chickpeas. Rather than make this tagine vegetarian (which is retrospect would have been a wise move) I decided to be clever and buy tinned meat from the pound shop. It was made by a respectable UK brand (the same that make the tuna) so I had my fingers crossed that it wasn’t made up hunks of old horse. The meat chunks were covered in a sticky, sickly brown gravy. So I put my meat in a colander and washed off the gravy hoping to leave behind a nice meat to make up my tagine. I was left with ribbons of the most horrid fatty ‘meat’. Into the pot it went along with all my other ingredients. If you’ve been unfortunate to ever try tinned meat beforeyou’ll know that it has a very particular flavour. And that flavour infused the whole stew. I tried to disguise it with herbs and spices in the same way that heavily spiced curry was invented to disguise rotten meat, but to no avail. It tasted awful. A stony silence fell over the dinner table as people just willed themselves to eat as much of the gloopy stringy dish as possible.

I won’t mention any names, Liam, but some guests were great experts at moving their food from one side of the plate to the other to make it look as though they’d eaten something. Clearly a skill learned in adolescence when your mum gave you horrible green vegetables to eat.

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Remains of my colourful cake – look, mostly gone!

Dessert ended on a high. My boyfriend and I had much fun creating Willy Wonka style cakes with half a marble cake each and a lot of frosting, chocolates, biscuits and sweets. The pound shop is a treasure drive for the sweet-toothed. My dentist bill goes up if I just walk through the entrance of the shop.

99 Cent

99 Cent by Andreas Gursky

© Andreas Gursky/Courtesy Phillips de Pury & Company

It makes my heart do flip-flops. Gursky has found beauty in the banal . Maybe I could sent him on a photographic assignment to north London. I think even he’d be hard pressed to find the beautiful in my little pound shop.

I was also impressed by this persons take on Gursky’s photograph http://www.flickr.com/photos/lyza/49545547/

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(Click on the image for a larger size version of the photo)

Day….oh 148 – I’m Back!

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Spring has sprung and all around us are the joys of nature that a new season brings.

Last week in the countryside I leaned on a wooden fence to gaze at the lambs bouncing merrily across a daffodil strewn field and thought “Finally, you are mine for the eating”.

The Pound Shop bet is over and I can eat fresh produce once more.

So busy have I been gorging myself on bloody flesh, gooey cheese and the greenest of greens, that I seem to have completely neglected this blog. Indeed I didn’t even write about the final death throes – of the bet not me.

A quick reminder: The bet was to survive 30 days buying only things from the 99p store including food.

I won the bet (and I use the word ‘won’ very loosely) and claimed my prize of One Gold Coin of the Realm from my brother who had originally challenged me. There were rules to the bet and admittedly I slipped up a number of times. For example: I was out with a friend and hungry so my generous friend bought me a meal. After almost a month of no fresh food you’d think I’d order a salad or half a dozen side orders of vegetables but no! My palette had become so accustomed to the sugary processed flavour of pre-packaged food that I ordered carbonara pasta – the stodgiest thing I could find on the menu. Ironically, you can quite easily find ready-made carbonara in the pound shop. And by some clever fluke the restaurant where we were eating had managed to make my pasta taste exactly as if it had come from a tin…

I also didn’t exactly manage to refrain from partaking of the odd tipple of wine. I think this is completely forgivable as I am half Italian after all. Wine is like breathing to the Italians and you wouldn’t want to stop me breathing right?

So I’ve finished and plan to become a temporary freegan next. If I can find any who live in London. Man, are the freegans elusive! Trying to get in contact with one is like trying to find a sober Irishman on St. Patrick’s day. Impossible. So if anyone knows of any (freegans not sober Irish guys) please contact me by leaving a message here.

The pound shop blog is not quite over. There are still a few things that I did not quite get to writing about like my pound shop dinner party and Henry James.

So watch this space for more…

Day 23 – A dog’s dinner

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If you’ve had sleepness nights wondering what kind of horrors I’ve been eating, wonder no more. This is the thing of true nightmares. Tinned meat. Its unique quality is that it manages not to look or taste like meat at all. And no, of course I didn’t eat this…it went straight into the bin and I doubt even a freegan would take it out again.

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