Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Our Strange Neighbours

Voices drifted through my head at sporadic intervals as I lay there in a semi-state of consciousness. Mike nudged me and I woke up from our afternoon nap to learn that the voices were real. Listen he whispered as we both sat up on our elbows and strained to hear the booming male voice coming from upstairs, periodically interrupted by a female voice. It was hard to decipher what they were saying but the aggression in the man's voice was apparent as he became louder and louder. We looked at each other puzzled and I instinctively went to the front door, opened it and poked my head around the stairs to try and hear better. This is a much better place to stand I thought to myself as the conversation was much clearer although occasionally drowned out by the passing traffic. Mike came to the door and urged me back inside but I couldn't pull myself away - he eventually gave in and joined me at the door. Snippets of conversation drifted down the stairs....

'I thought we agreed to be honest with each other,' said the man.
Sounds of unfathomable protest from the girl - apparently her name was Ania, she sounded Eastern European.
Occasional words drifted through.... ashtray......Isabella
'Of all the places to go to........there are one hundred and one bars and you had to go to that one,' he shouted. The girl protested, but was interrupted. I wanted to hear her side of the story but he wouldn't let her speak.

I thought about the terrible Europap music that we'd had to put up over the last couple of weeks - one evening it was so loud that Mike went upstairs to ask them to turn it down but they didn't come to the door. It happened again and this time the door opened slowly with a girl cowering behind it.

'I only wanted to give you my number.' At last! a full sentence from Ania.
'Don't lie to me,' he screamed. 'I thought we agreed to be honest'. Other incomprehensible words, then 'my girlfiend found out'.
I turned round to find that Mike had gone back inside. Must have had enough I thought to myself, so I went back in to find him standing on the bed listening through the ceiling. This was too good to miss. I went back outside.

'George knows,' he said.
'GOD I HATE GREEKS,' she shouted.
'Don't be like that,' the man said gently. I found the softness in his voice disturbing and strangely odd and wandered if the good cop bad cop was something he was doing on purpose or if he was mentally disturbed. I pictured a tall, tanned, slighly balding man in his early thirties with a crazed expression on his face not too dissimilar to Jack Nicholson's in The Shining. I imagined Ania, a blonde fragile teenager, scared, innocent, helpless.

After twenty minutes we decided to call it a day and closed the door. Ten minutes later we heard loud noises again, this time they were not voices but other sounds - crashing, running, jumping. Was he hitting her? Was she running away?

At around midnight as we were getting ready for bed, we heard more voices through the ceiling. This time it was singing. We didn't have to strain to listen to his voice this time as it was so clear he might as well have been in the room with us. It sounded like he was singing in Turkish or Arabic - it sounded haunting, almost demented.

I've been mulling it over in my mind ever since and have failed to reach a conclusion. One thing I am certain of though - we won't be knocking on their door again in a hurry to ask them to turn their music down.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Recipe of the week # 1

Prawn and Monkfish in curry coconut herb sauce

This is the first entry in my new series of recipes of the week.
When I originally started my blog it was supposed to be about food, as you can see from my first ever entry (hence the title). Somehow though as I've continued writing, I've gradually started to go off on tangents and write about other stuff which I really like as well - a bit of variety is always good I think. As a result, my blog has become a bit of everything now, so intothepot ain't such a bad title after all as all the stuff I write about is going, well, intothepot; the pot being my blog I suppose.

We had a think about the best meal we've had all week and this week's was cooked by my boyfriend Mike - a delicious curry with monkfish and prawns. Unfortunately I had to steal a picture from somewhere else as the camera is completely buggered (as you can see here from these freaky pictures) - the curry did look very similar to the one in the picture except the chilies weren't quite placed in the same strategic way and our plates are white not red. The monkfish was delicious, a really meaty fish which is ideal for curries and was accompanied by onion bargies and a cold bottle of Kingfisher.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Best Thing I Heard Yesterday

I was sitting on the train on the way home from work when a song of old filled the carriages. I couldn't believe my was the best ringtone I've ever heard....then I realised what it was. It was the theme tune to the 80s sitcom Terry and June. If you haven't heard it you can hear it here - it's quintessentially British in every way and the kind of tune that would fill my heart with joy if I was abroad and feeling homesick. I exchanged glances with the man opposite as he was trying desperately to conceal a smile. I then began to think about other classic British TV theme tunes which would make great ringtones: The Good Life, Call my Bluff, Dad's Army, Man About The House...

Monday, May 22, 2006

I HAVE BEEN: Tagged... by * (Asterik) and I tag Wrinkled Weasel, Hang the DJ and Spangly Princess

I AM: Who I say I am.
I WANT: To visit every country in the world.
I HATE: People who talk too much.
I MISS: My Grandma.
I FEAR: Being disliked.
I HEAR: My alarm go off every friggin' morning.
I WONDER: Why people eat Dolmio.
I REGRET: Pissing my money up the wall at University.
I AM NOT: At all bad in the kitchen.
I DANCE: A lot when I'm doing the cleaning.
I SING: Along to just about everything.
I SEE: The computer screen.
I CRY: When I'm angry.
I AM NOT ALWAYS: Confident when people think I am.
I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: A perfect semi circle to hold my glass with.
I WRITE: Less than I would like.
I CONFUSE: My students.
I NEED: A holiday.
I SHOULD: Be more patient.
I START: Lots of things...
I FINISH:..only the ones that mean a lot to me.

I've finally been Humped

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A Perfect Saturday

I've been complaining recently about the fact that for the last few weeks we've been having great weather during the week and then it's rained all weekend. It's been depressing me as I've sat staring out of the window at the grey skies pining for a bit of sunshine. But last night I thought sod it and we planned a film Saturday which will involve a film at the cinema and a film later on at home.
Saturday morning for us is the best part of the week - we usually get up, have coffee and pastries and read the papers with Saturday Kitchen on in the backround.

So we've decided to watch The King this afternoon with Gael Garcia Bernal which promises to be good with the star of Amores Perros , The Motorcycle Diares and Y tu mamá también . Going to the cinema is one of my favourite things as we always sneak in food and a big bottle of beer to keep up going. Who else thinks it's uncivilised not to be able to buy beer in the cinema?

This evening I'm going to cook Spaghetti alla Puttanesca which literally means Whore's Spaghetti, so called because it's easy and quick to make saving the, er, extremely busy ladies time I suppose. I love this pasta as it combines so many of my favourite ingredients which include tomatoes, black olives, chilies and anchovies (it also has capers I'm not so keen on but I had them a long time ago so I'm going to give them another go.)

After dinner, we'll pull our favourite Ikea Armchairs (really they are great and you can rock in them) up to the TV and settle down to watch a film with a coffee and brandy - a habit my boyfriend has got me into as I didn't like Brandy before (in terms of alcoholic drinks that I don't like that only leaves Whisky, but it'll take some doing to make me like that.)

So have a great weekend eveyone and don't let the rain get you down. Oh dear, the sun's just come out.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Five Reasons Why I love London (because it's so similar to Italy)

I lived in London for a year in 1999 but for various reasons moved back to Leicester. During these 6 years I found myself craving the company of the big smoke. Sardine tin tubes, bumper to bumper traffic and exorbitant rent did not deter me from wanting to reside in this superbly intoxicating city. I always seem to find myself bumping into people from my past. I bumped into an old friend from school the other day in the Tescos next to my house (I had to make excuses for my chavy attire - I was wearing tracky bottoms and had just nipped out thinking I wouldn't see anyone I know) and bizzarely ran into a friend I'd lost touch with from Dubai in the college where I work. Anyway, that aside, I've realised that the reason why I prefer to live in London over any other city in the UK is because it's so similar to Italy for the following reasons:

1. People don't queue for buses in Italy and neither do they here. It's generally a mad scramble with elbows aloft, walking sticks waving and whatever else people can get their hands on to use and prod in the general direction of other people trying to get on - you can even sneakily jump the queue if you time it right and join it at the opposite side just as the doors open and nobody says a word. In Leicester (my home town) people stand in a perfect line and if anyone ever tries to jump it someone will always complain. I think it's a ridiculous sight to see people standing in line like soldiers on parade. I don't see non-queuing as rudeness, just common sense - it should be every man for himself, although I would offer old Doris a seat if she didn't have one. My cousin in Milan offered her seat to an elderly looking lady once to which the woman snapped 'Ma pensi che sono cosi vecchia' - 'Do you think I'm that old'. She hasn't offered her seat to anyone since.

2. People wear sunglasses in all weathers. In you were to wear sunglasses in winter in any other city, you'd probably get the same reaction as if you were to wear a BNP T-shirt in Brixton. Not that I don't think people who wear sunglasses in winter aren't complete arseholes, I just like what it represents - the fact that people can do whatever they want (although this is slightly contradictory as Italians are probably one of the nations that conform the most in terms of fashion).

3. The pizzas in London are decent. Just a short walk from my flat there's Pizzeria Pappagone, La Porchetta and Pizza Delique. When I go to Pappagone I sometimes forget I'm in England - the staff are all Italian and the pizza is to die for - a gigantic melt in the mouth disk topped with delicious fresh ingredients such as artichokes, parma ham and buffalo mozzarella. Outside of London there are some ok pizza chains but the base is usually akin to cardboard and the cheese a 'watered down' version replacing most of the mozzarella with cheddar. I feel sick.

4. Cafes with outside tables. Soho is one of my favourite places in the summer - I remember taking a friend there last year on Saturday morning and having breakfast at Bar Italia. We sat outside in the sunshine and sipped (albeit expensive) coffee. You just don't get that cosmopolitan atmosphere anywhere else. Some British cities are trying, although a couple of steel tables next to the roadside just doesn't cut it.

5. Vespas. And plenty of them. Whenever I hear that beautiful sound of the engine (which I do quite a lot in London) it inspires nothing but pure nostalgia.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Top 100 Films

A great little idea stolen from * (asterik). The following is a list of the top 100 films voted for by the viewers of IMDB. The ones in bold are the ones I've seen. I'm always looking for new films to watch so I'm going to slowly make my way through the whole list and try to watch the ones I haven't seen yet. There are a few too many Lord of the Rings if you ask me and I can't believe there's not a Carry On film in sight.

1. The Godfather (1972)
2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The Godfather: Part II (1974)
4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
5. Shichinin no samurai (1954)
6. Casablanca (1942)
7. Schindler's List (1993)
8. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
9. Pulp Fiction (1994)
10. Star Wars (1977)
11. Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966)
12. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
13. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
14. Rear Window (1954)
15. The Usual Suspects (1995)
16. Cidade de Deus (2002)
17. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
18. 12 Angry Men (1957)
19. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
20. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
21. Citizen Kane (1941)
22. Psycho (1960)
23. Goodfellas (1990)
24. Memento (2000)
25. North by Northwest (1959)
26. C'era una volta il West (1968)
27. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
28. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
29. Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, Le (2001)
30. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
31. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
32. American Beauty (1999)
33. Fight Club (1999)
34. The Matrix (1999)
35. Vertigo (1958)
36. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
37. Taxi Driver (1976)
38. Apocalypse Now (1979)
39. Paths of Glory (1957)
40. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
41. Se7en (1995)
42. Untergang, Der (2004)
43. The Pianist (2002)
44. Chinatown (1974)
45. Léon (1994)
46. Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001)
47. The Third Man (1949)
48. American History X (1998)
49. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
50. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
51. Boot, Das (1981)
52.The Maltese Falcon (1941)
53. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
54. L.A. Confidential (1997)
55. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
56. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
57. Alien (1979)
58. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
59. Sin City (2005)
60. M (1931)
61. Rashômon (1950)
62. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
63. Modern Times (1936)
64. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
65. Metropolis (1927)
66. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
67. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
68.The Shining (1980)
69. Raging Bull (1980)
70. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
71. All About Eve (1950)
72. Some Like It Hot (1959)
73. Double Indemnity (1944)
74. Vita è bella, La (1997)
75. Aliens (1986)
76. The Great Escape (1963)
77. Rebecca (1940)
78. Touch of Evil (1958)
79. Amadeus (1984)
80. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
81. The Sting (1973)
82. The Incredibles (2004)
83. Jaws (1975)
84. Crash (2004)
85. Strangers on a Train (1951)
86. On the Waterfront (1954)
87. Batman Begins (2005)
88. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
89. City Lights (1931)
90. The Apartment (1960)
91. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
92. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
93. Forrest Gump (1994)
94. Braveheart (1995)
95. Blade Runner (1982)
96. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
97. Donnie Darko (2001)
98. Nuovo cinema Paradiso (1989)
99. Finding Nemo (2003)
100. Ran