The reason I made such a big deal about Uncle Jim’s kebab was that it was so unusual: most kebabs you get were like the one I inflicted on myself (or, rather, with which I afflicted myself) at the Kebab Centre in Ruislip yesterday. Yuck. I couldn’t decide if it was the meat or the salad that imparted the rotting compost essence but the congealed grease that collected in my mouth and esophagus definitely came from the Beast that was passed off as lamb (as did the salt that had me attached to a water bottle for the next 6 hours: I drank as much water last night as I would, usually, in 2 days).
Numbers, or so, listed in bold and underlined.
Everyone has shit to talk about 2016, and so do I; but, I’ll minimise that, here. I finally sprang for two new pair of running shoes to replace the pair, featured in the photos here, that I picked up in Chattanooga in September 2015 and subsequently added 2253 running miles on before retiring them last weekend (with walking, as these were my usual day-to-day shoes, these had much closer to 4000 miles on them).
Over the Christmas break, we watched a shitload of TV and a bunch of really cheery movies (highly recommended of these are the drama Martha Marcy Mae Marlene and the documentary The Coming War With China. To recover from those you might want to find Twenty Feet From Fame. But, we also caught a bunch of shit tele and some old stuff. In keeping with the theme of the year, we downloaded a collection of the Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson) and spent the entirety of each show playing the middle-age white person version of Jew-Not-A-Jew (aka the straight person’s version of Queer-Not-A-Queer) by pointing at each corpse we spotted on screen and saying, “DEAD.” “Bob Hope. DEAD.” “Joan Rivers! DEAD.” “Gary Shandling, DEAD.” (By the way, that’s Not A Jew, Jew, and a little of both).
So, instead of the multitude of other celebrity deaths everyone is banging on about, here are the 17 I noticed but did not eulogise (and some of whom you may have missed):
17 January: Blowfly, 76
2 February: Bob Elliott, 92
16 February: Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 93
6 March: Merle Haggard, 79
3 June: Muhammad Ali, 74
17 June: Fred Tomlinson, 88
22 August: Toots Thielemans, 94
29 August: Gene Wilder, 83
8 September: The Lady Chablis, 59
16 September: Edward Albee, 88
30 September: Hanoi Hannah, 87
18 October: Phil Chess, 95
2 November: Dolores Klosowski, 93, American baseball player (Milwaukee Chicks)
7 November: Leonard Cohen, 82
25 November: Ron Glass, 71
22 December: Miruts Yifter, 72
25 December: George Michael, 53
In a similar vein, here are the other numbers of my year…
Obits actually in the blog: 16
Swindon’s Stagecoach Bus Depot in Old Town
Robert Ford, Madman Mayor of Toronto
Atlanta/Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field in apparent murder-suicide
The jihadi sparrow
The villages of Longford and Harmondsworth
America, the not so great pre-Trump version
New Years Honours of Note: 1 (for the name): Mr Fabulous Flournoy, (MBE)
Mileage (running): 1589.8, quite the slack year — the least in two decades of keeping track
Pub write-ups 1 January thru 30 June: 38
Pub write-ups 1 July thru 31 December (we moved house 28 July): 216 (254 for the year)
Recipes, such as they are, published here: 5
Brunswick Stew and BBQ Sauce
Malted Milk Ball Hot Toddy
Chicken Breasts done as if for Pakoras
International trips: Except for returning from Cork, technically a 2015 trip, 1 (Bremen)
Marathons: 1 (Wales Marathon)
Other races: 0, but a few planned for 2017
Weight (high): 169 lbs (12 stone 1 pound, Winter drinking weight)
Weight (low): 150 (10 stone 10 pounds, at the Marathon)
My second micropub in a row (see the Beer Asylum from Friday night), the Hop & Vine opened Saturday night and I finally made my way over Sunday for a lunchtime pint of porter. The atmosphere is industrial but the Hop Inn (Swindon) made it work so well that it has been district CAMRA pub of the year several times in the 3 or 4 years it’s been open and there’s no reason this one can’t do likewise, here.
The ales are gravity fed but the taproom is visible across the bar. They have several gins and a large variety of bottled beers. I’m especially interested in the 2L refillable growler for takeaway purposes (although, I have to smirk whenever someone here uses the term “growler” in the American context knowing all to well what the vernacular definition is).
The couple that run the joint are still excited and friendly so it might be good to catch them before they get surly and rude. I, along with 1000’s of others, supported their license with the Hillingdon Borough Council and now it is time for us to support them with regular custom.
I always have my doubts about chippies that claim to be “Award Winning,” but the Aquarius in Ruislip Manor deserves any accolade received. The fish was perfectly steamed inside a succulent batter crust and the small was incredibly filling: it would have been good value for money even as a run-of-the-mill bite of cod, but I awoke this morning wishing I had bought some extra to reheat for breakfast and lunch.
The Ruislip Lido is actually a reservoir and, sadly, currently not open to swimming due to the oily silt in the shallow lake. It was getting dark as I arrived so, rather than explore the wood surrounding the pond, I sought out the Water’s Edge pub on the north banks. It is hard to miss as it looks more like an art deco lodge and, although sitting on the edge of a bank of nondescript flats, it is flanked by woods on either side as you look for it from the south side of the Lido.
It seems a serviceable enough place although more of a carvery restaurant than a pubby pub. I took my watery pint of Doom Bar out to the decks to let my sweat cool a bit since it was quite hot inside. Two girls came out for a smoke wearing shorts and mid-drift tops, one with spray tan of a tone I would call Kerala or maybe Russet. They talked — in heavy Irish accents — about some party they attended. The chestnut one was pretty funny: “so, Muggins here tries to break up the fight just as [lad’s name] bottles the boy. Had blood all over me face, I did, and my white top was ruined.” I never found out what happened to the fellow, though.
While still catching up on Friday’s pubs, the Sunday run seems easier to finish writing (mind you, the Sunday pub will lag behind, as well).
Timed to reach the Good Yarn at 9 am serving time, there were an awful lot of real runners out this morning (running the wrong way, it seems). By the time I left the pub, though, the traffic had increased so I did the return along the A40: noisier but there are fewer cross roads that way. Speed during the two halves of the run was 7:00/mile and 7:30/mile.
At the bus shelter near West End and Station Roads I found Spectacular London Puke number 2: a beauty which was hard to tell if it involved rice or cabbage or what.
I went for a run today, like most days. Nothing special: I have done roughly 8 miles every September 11 since my flight to Edinburgh got cancelled that morning in 2001. Then, when I returned home I found the corpse of a Jihadi Sparrow who suicide piloted his ass into the side of my house. You can never escape it, these days. But, you must always be vigilant.
The run was nice, marred only by assholes on the canals and at the pub stop. The Great Ealing Battlements (above, now renamed ‘Northala Fields’ for some reason) originally built to keep the hordes from the Boroughs of Harrow and Hillingdon out of the quieter — and more civilised — London Borough to our south and southwest are now a recreation area complete with a motorway view to add some breathing challenge to a family day out. I run past this on a regular basis, lately, and it reminds me that the Donald’s plans for a wall (a great wall, the BEST) are nothing new.
Near at the end of the run, I snapped this shot of HM Prison Ruislip. The photo had only a coincidentally September 11 link (this is where the worst of the potential future terrorists are re-educated to become drones of society); I shot the picture just because the site was used for the high school scenes in the Inbetweeners, a film I TiVo’ed only to see the Ruislip Gardens neighbourhood scenes and fast-forward through the rest.
I mentioned the Chinese Sex Chair before. I removed the arm-rests (which double as *ahem* posing supports) a few years ago and have been using the mahogany piece as a garden table but on the day’s run, whilst not thinking about nor even considering the horrendous anniversary today marks (Pinochet should have died in the Hague!) I came up with this idea that I could turn this piece into something Mediterranean…Greek or Cypriot, like. Updates to follow (I haven’t yet mixed the right shade of blue). Just a note, though: while the US frets about Arabs pantsing them in public, the Chinese have been taking their lunch money for decades (thanks go out to Ronnie Reagan for both). Opa!