Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Korner Kitchen in Bromsgrove: anti-panini nirvana

My dear hooligans in arms, thank you for bearing with me during the hiatus since my last post. As you'll see shortly, I have not been idle.

No, indeed. Rather, I have been eating egg and sausage sandwiches. Just for you.

(Okay. Maybe an insy bit for me. But still almost exclusively for you.)

How in blazes (you may well demand) did I get my hands on an egg and sausage sandwich?

(I should perhaps point out, lest you be taken aback by their femininity, that those aren't actually my hands on the photo.)

… But, yes: how in blazes? After all (you may reason), I'm an Oxford blogger, ain't I? And what is Oxford if not the antithesis of egg and sausage sandwiches of the type depicted above? Oxford, panini capital of the world.

Well, it just so happened that I found myself, not so very long ago, in the township of my youth: a moderately desolate kind of a place – too large to have retained much charm; too small to have accumulated much buzz – called Bromsgrove.

Now, finding myself in the (unforgiving) position as Bromsgrove tour-guide elect, it was my duty to acquaint my companion, whose charming mitts feature above, with the sights of the town.

Except that Bromsgrove doesn't really do sights.

What it does do, though – with a modicum of aplomb – is tastes. Courtesy of the Best Thing About Bromsgrove: a small emporium named (with elegantly poised tackiness) Korner Kitchen.

If you're ever in Bromsgrove (stop laughing, will you?), check out the KK. It is seven flavours of superior. It is exceptional. It produces the finest, hottest sandwiches you will ever stuff, yolk-smearingly, into your ravenous gob – the pappy white bread cleaving to your palette; the morning sausage burning your tongue.

This is the Ur Sandwich. The anti-panino.

And it's yours for only £1.80.

Only in Bromsgrove.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Barry Delaney Wears Dress to Funeral; Journalists Collapse in Paroxysms

So. Judging by the story's viral contagiousness, you may well already have read about Barry Delaney (above). He commemorated the death of his friend Kevin Elliott (killed in action in Afghanistan) by attending his funeral dressed in a fluorescent yellow dress and pink stockings -- in accordance with a pact he had made to do so, should Elliott be killed.

In other words: journo-wet-dream.

For what could be more delightful to a lazy-penned hack than a story that combined so many heady ingredients?:

  • topicality (mounting Helmland province deaths, growing public antipathy and all)
  • transvestism (a potent google-magnet of a topic, if ever there was one … want proof? Consider the following graph, in which the popularity of transvestite searches is measured against the ever-reliable yardstick of those for doughty 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli)
  • tragedy (chasing the Princess Diana dragon)

… and, most important of all:

  • trash

Yes, trash. By which I mean those vast segments of British society that any decent broadsheet regards with towering, bile-swollen condescension, trembling hatred and hyperventilating incomprehension.

The commoners.

To see what I mean, read Mark Townsend's nauseating coverage of what is (I'll freely admit) a bizarre story. Or make do with a few extracts:

It was just after 10am last Wednesday when Delaney squeezed into a tight lime-green mini-dress and donned a pair of 99p pink knee-high socks. Then, assiduously avoiding the mirror, the 25-year-old poured a neat vodka – his, and Elliot's, favourite drink.

– 'Assiduously' … and that faux-literary dash after vodka. Leave off the false afflatus, please.

His reminisces last Wednesday were interrupted by the blare of a car horn from the forecourt 120ft below. It was Jonathan Wells in his Vauxhall Vectra, ready to take Delaney to his best friend's funeral. Wells made no mention of Delaney's odd attire during the two-mile drive to St Mary's Church in Dundee's centre.

– Was it really necessary to name the car?

The pact was Elliott's idea: a year ago, while the friends were watching Delaney's widescreen television together, he began hypothesising about his funeral.

– and, now, the reference to his 'widescreen television' … as if this were somehow a noteworthy detail.

They had been friends since 2005, when they were introduced by Elliott's 22-year-old sister, Kirsty, and hit it off immediately. They had bonded in the drinking dens of Dundee – their favourite haunt was Fat Sam's. They were inseparable except for Elliott's long tours in combat zones.

– 'Their favourite haunt was Fat Sam's'? What? Seriously: what?

What the fuck kind of a tone is this article meant to be written in? The whole thing oozes cliche in a way that is alternately (sometimes simultaneously) inept and sardonic. It seems to be an attempt to straddle cloyingly maudlin sentimentality and spiteful tongue-in-cheek mockery.

It is simultaneously one of the most bizarre pieces of writing I have come across in the Guardian and one of the most repellant.

... don't you think?

Monday, 7 September 2009

Life recorders: a childhood dream realised

Techcrunch is running a story in which it speculates that 'life recorders' may become ubiquitous.

These are devices that record and store (via photographs, GPS data and suchlike) every moment of one's life.

Every shade of amazing, in other words, at once.

When I was a wee boy (you remember hearing about me as a wee boy, don't you?), I actually used to imagine that, when one died, 'heaven' consisted of a big computer console (this is back in the days of Kings' Quest, natch) that offered once massive instant replay of one's whole life. One could view it as a map, on which one's lifelong travels were highlighted; one could replay key scenes from various camera angles.


Privacy? Shmivacy. I WANT ONE.

(Without the Microsoft logo, though, please.)

Cogwheel Dogs. Yes.

In a brief interlude from important matters such as Special K masochism, Dr Hugh Brady and the inexcusable, barely comprehensible mediocrity of the panini, I bring you an announcement.

The band in which I play, Cogwheel Dogs, has released an EP today, called Greenhorn. I've gone into this at more length on my rambling music blog Heavy Soil: here's the dramatic announcement I just wrote over there.

Mindful of the intellectual elitism of my audience here at Intellectual Hooligan, though, I'll confine myself simply to offering y'all a link to download the new EP for free. Yes, that's right: free. Like oxygen. And the caterpillar that was nestling amongst the florets of your broccoli.

And here's a link to the Cogwheel Dogs website which I'm going to call grungy folk blues for the hell/SEO of it.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Pretty pretty Oxford photos

The Hooligan went a-snapping, yesterday. His mission? To seek out Oxford's hidden beauty spots, off the tourist track.

I started off with The Red Lion. Check out that radical wide-angleness. I applaud the choice of red: not your common-or-garden primary hue.

Then Oxford's fine Euro Bar – accommodation for the discerning traveller:

But my greatest discovery was the wonderful multistorey car park behind the Westgate Centre shopping complex (if complex be quite the word).

The above stairway has an odour that might be described as homely. Were one a sewer rat. But it looks amazing. I want to go back there at night time (because I reckon it'd be a really cool and fun place to hang out in the dark) and see what shadows are thrown.

Here's a view from the top, down into a bizarre courtyard:

And as well as affording plenty of nice angles and jommetry, there are some damn fine textures, too:

So, Oxonians: check out the Westgate carpark while you still can. (And boy do I expect the tourist hordes to descend upon it like locusts, now that it's been mentioned on this blog.) It won't be around for long, y'see: demolition is around the corner.

And I'll warrant that the gleaming new multiplectacular structure that takes its place will be way less interesting.

Here's a slideshow of all 'em fotows:

(See, I did slip in an Oxfordy shot, just for you sticklers.)

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