Saturday, May 30, 2009

Words Lost on the M11

I suppose I ought to be making the most of this undoubtedly brief respite from blogger's block, or so I thought as I was driving down the motorway early this morning. And, just at that moment, a subject came into my head and I roughed it out in my mind, ready to commit it to digits later in the day. It was a cracker with the potential to be both provocative and witty.

Yet now, when I'm not dodging the traffic on the A12 and I've time to write it down, I've absolutely no idea what it was that I was thinking about - not an inkling.

Incidentally, an inkling; it's a strange word and nothing to do with diminutive inks - they would be, I imagine, small, dark, dank creatures that lived in wells and, despite their unprepossessing looks, essentially friendly so long as you didn't give them a nib in the groin.

Anyway, I'm digressing from my digression. The word 'inkling' is usually taken to have come from a 13th century original spelt 'ninkling', meaning an indistinct hearing of the use of one's own name. I often get an inkling that Pixie is calling me but I can usually move out of range - the garage is fairly soundproof.

Later today I found myself in Epping again, looking for somewhere to eat on a busy Saturday night. As I passed the Raj, the Indian restaurant I ate in last week, I noticed there was a table for one left in the window. I entered, sat down, and, just for a change, ordered exactly the same meal as I had last time.

It was delicious. Again.

The image has no relevance to today's touch of nonsense. Nor should it have. It's still nominally a free country.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Almost Monochrome

I spend an excessive amount of my working life in enclosed, dark spaces; it's a bit like being a coal miner but without the physical labour and the danger. It is not a career choice for claustrophobics or for those who cannot find ways of amusing themselves during the long periods of time when everything is running smoothly and there are no knobs to be twiddled or lamps to bash.

Today I had my camera with me so that I could download some images I'd knocked off during a meal break. Sitting at the other end of the lighting box, my colleague, Craig, inadvertently presented me with a glowing bottle of orange, neatly back lit by a desk lamp and contrasted against a monochrome DVD image on his computer. Why it should grab my attention, I don't know but I can only say that after several hours of watching pictures of people playing poker, any diversion is welcome. I wound the ISO setting on the camera up to 3200 (I told you it was dark in there) and this was the result; it's a bit noisy/grainy but I like it. With these exquisite little pleasures, the long day passes.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monochromatic Urges

I was sat in my hotel room, having finished one book and picked up another but barely started it, when suddenly this compulsion came upon me to make a monochromatic image. No idea why. Some people feel the urge for a pint of real ale or a chocolate hobnob. Not me; I'd been to the gym earlier for 30 minutes of sweating and limb creaking and all that blood swirling around had opened up a black and white pathway.

There it is. Hardly earth shattering but gently pleasing in a bucolic, rural sort of a way - a misty vista and a group of three.

And then there's this, photographing a platelayer's hut in a reed bed by a railway line in Norfolk. Obviously something else I felt was a better use of my time than sitting in a waterside hostelry with a foaming glass of Adnam's best and some sausage and mash in a rich onion gravy.

I really must get these aberrations looked at.

(Second blog this month - whoa)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Far Eastern Semi-Solids

For many years I've had a fondness for what an old friend of mine called 'Far Eastern Semi-Solids'. By that he meant food from India, China, Thailand, etc. Unfortunately Thai and Chinese, as least as served in the UK, are not to my taste but Indian or Bangladeshi, that's the business.

I had my first curry, a chicken biriani, in a restaurant in London Road, Leicester. That was in 1970 so quite a few more have passed my lips and lined my stomach since then. Over the years I have developed a standard by which I judge all Indian restaurants. It consists of a chicken dhansak with pilau rice, a bombay aloo and a stuffed paratha. By these dishes I measure the desirability or not of a repeat visit.

This less than perfect picture (taken on my phone - you get some funny looks if you start photographing food in an Indian restaurant with an SLR camera) is of the offering at the Raj in Epping, Essex. It's probably my fifth visit. The same meal every time. Enough said.

That last sentence worries me a little because, as I've mentioned before, I'm paranoid about slipping into ruts, even fur-lined ones. It's bad enough that Pixie and I almost always have a home-cooked curry on a Monday. Reluctance to embrace change, particularly once you've entered the bus pass years, is the slippery slope to mental decrepitude.

So many people are reluctant to welcome something new. For me the ultimate shock/horror headline in my local paper would be one that read 'Local people welcome new town/wind farm/supermarket/red light district'. It doesn't matter what is proposed, the human instinct it to resist it. Occasionally this is the correct reponse but not always, or, I would argue, in general. Resistance to change is not the recipe for a secure future.