Saturday, 30 August 2008

Many blogging returns

Why Miss Jones is 100 posts old today. I know, we don't look a day over 75.

Thank you if you have read or commented on any part of it. Just dump your coat in the bedroom. And why don't you wear one of these?

Party ring?

Now, let's dance.

Apologies for the sound quality, but just look at the awesomeness of the Ikettes' moves. And Ike Turner here just reinforces the lesson that you should never trust a man in a poloneck.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Snowdon for the trophy

White smoke at TV Centre. The Strictly Come Dancing line-up is official. 

I am disappointed for the following reasons: 

Reason one: Stephanie Beacham cannot be in it every year. 

Reason two: After discussions with various female friends, I am asserting that we have been unequivocally short-changed in the hotness stakes. Let us examine the evidence. The women are: Lisa Snowdon (fox), Rachel Stevens (dwarfish, bovine, but nonetheless clearly a fox), Cherie Lunghi (fox for the dads), Christine Bleakley (bland teatime fox), Jodie Kidd (posh polo fox), Gillian Taylforth (older, borderline fox but shades it because crucially, as my friend Colin is wont to say, looks like she knows her onions), Jessie Wallace (not a fox, but seems like she'd be Up For It), Heather Small (not, to me, a fox, plus has a voice that could crack paving slabs).
Boxes for foxes ticked: 6.25/8

Let us now turn to the men. Mark Foster (fox with ludicrous Disney Strong Man physique), Tom Chambers (fox), Austin 'Hairpiece' Healey (fox potential, were he accepting of the receding hairline issue – chicks dig vulnerability, Austin), Don Warrington (bizarrely, borderline older fox), Andrew Castle (as bland as rice pudding, significantly less comforting, therefore non fox), Phil Daniels (less a fox, more a Jack Russell terrier), John Sargeant (adorable but profound non fox), Gary Rhodes (massive, massive cock – sorry Dad, I know you were inexplicably a fan but the apple falls many miles from the tree on this one).
Boxes for foxes ticked: 2.75/8

There has been a lot of talk of glass ceilings in the media this week. No one, though, is talking about the glass ballroom floor that symbolises the sexual inequality of hotness on Strictly Come Dancing. Perhaps, on reflection, I can see why this is. But ultimately, the line-up is irrelevent as the Strictly soap opera irresistibly weaves its way around whatever celebrity bookings they've scraped together. And anyway, like some Saturday teatime translation of The Breakfast Club, there will always be, in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions:

The Princess Dead-behind-the eyes, highly competent but ultimately unlovable (Emma Bunton, Rachel Stevens)

The LadyJock Hideously ambitious former captain of Games, again may prove unpopular (Gaby Logan, horse-riding Jodie Kidd)

The Ladette (with apologies for hideous 90s terminology) Game girl with throaty laugh, adored by men and women (Alesha/La Snowdon)

The Puppy: Blandly attractive pet to be trained by high-maintenance Camilla Dallerup (James Martin/Gethin Jones/Tom Chambers)

The Geezer: Cheeky diminutive tryer who throws himself wholeheartedly into Carry On-style, nudge-and-a-wink-laden but ultimately slightly nauseating routines (Dominic Littlewood, Phil Daniels)

The Lurch: Starts badly, ends badly (Dennis Taylor, Quentin Wilson, John Sargeant)

The Journey Man: Sportsperson who goes on a sequinned voyage of self-discovery and learns to move his hips independently of other body parts (Darren Gough, Matt Dawson, Austin Healey (?))

The Journeyman: Works hard, improves steadily, nobody cares (Carol Smillie, Andrew Castle)

I could go on, but I have to go and work on my new-series Strictly Bingo Cards/Drinking Game. Wield your Mecca dobber/take a drink/have a Hobnob every time a) Arlene fluffs one of her pre-written over-alliterative comments, b) Anton makes desperate reference to his heterosexuality, c) any of the judges make a water-based pun when critiquing Mark Foster (thanks to Miss W for this entry)… You get the idea, I'm sure.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

What fresh hell is this?

Following the boot/stiletto unishoe, and the shirt/jumper combigarment of my previous post, today in Dorothy Perkins I stumbled upon further joined-up madness in the dregs of the sale. A shirt (nice) sewn onto a skirt (OKish) to make a dress (TOTALLY DERANGED). Where will it all end? I will tell you. One day in the not-too-distant future every one of us will be wearing all-in-one adult babygros with hoods and laughing as we remember the dark days of separates.

I hung the skirt-shirt-dress on the end of the rail while I fumbled with the camera on my phone, and during this time someone actually picked the fabric behemoth up with genuine enthusiasm slash admiration. They proceeded to hold it up against themselves for several minutes in the mirror. Readers, I knew not whether to laugh or cry. As they pondered, I noticed them doing their Trying On Clothes face. Everyone has one – a highly individual combination of scepticism and studied nonchalance. In the same way, everyone has a Photo Face – the expression they effect when posing for a picture, which they think portrays them to their best advantage, and disguises their least favourite part. Most people's expressions are identical in any posed picture you see of them – in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, at a birthday party, to the left-hand side of the bride.

Mrs Jones, in her own words, 'can't wear hats' and I believe this is entirely due to her Hat Face, which is at once apologetic and embarrassed, so that as soon as she tries on any kind of headgear, it immediately looks all wrong. Confidence is key. The confidence to wear a hat. The confidence to know something looks good or not. The confidence to match your own stupid clothes together. 

And big breath in and out.

And I'm moving on.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

These boots are made for burning

I would like to be able to pretend to you, friends, that life is all swiss roll and mild sexual content, but the fact is, there are darker forces at work, all around us, all the time, and I cannot hide this from you. At any moment, we may turn a corner, only to be assailed by Fear and Pain, waiting to jam a sprig of unlucky heather into our buttonholes.

It happened to me today. No, no, don't worry, I'm OK. You know, in myself. But this morning I turned the page of the magazine I was flicking through, only for my eyes to be maimed by the sight of the Ugliest Shoes In The World.

I'm sorry that I have to visit them upon you in turn, but you cannot run from real life. And the truth is that someone, somewhere, finished the manufacturing of these boots, and said, metaphorically or otherwise, 'Hey guys, look what we made! High five!'

I think with their patent detailing, they may be essaying some essence of brogue. But what they actually look like is a pair of not very nice brown suede boots, with a pair of not very nice black stiletto sandals worn over the top. This, however, is such a repellant notion which goes utterly against all that is natural and right, that your brain refuses to entertain it – and instead thinks it is looking at a pair of bare legs which are actually made of brown suede, wearing a pair of black patent slingbacks. Which in turn would suggest, if you are the hapless wearer, that:

a) your depilatory and moisturising routines could use some attention
b) you are probably choosing to present your legs as being a dramatically different skin tone to the rest of your body
c) you are one half of a pantomime horse.

The composite garment is, any form, a wretched and deceiving creature. You're enjoying some recreational shopping. You're admiring a shirt, which appears to be displayed in a 'serving suggestion' style, beneath a sleeveless jumper, on a hanger. However, when you try to separate them you find they are stitched together, and the shirt you have fallen for is no more than two sleeves, a collar and half a decolletage. Oh yes, you can wear it, but only with the tank top that they – the Fashion 'System' – have deemed its perfect partner. Well, comrades, I will not be told. If I want to wear a tank top with nothing underneath – like some kind of sleeveless Michael Douglas-at-the-disco in Basic Instinct – that is exactly what I will do, and damn the chafing. If I want to own a blouse that is made from more material than the average handkerchief, I will not be stayed.

This Frankenstein vestment is, in my experience, found in shops who imagine their customers to be busy career girls on the go, women who actually admit to having a working wardrobe. Oh yes, one of these superwomen can multi-task – breastfeeding triplets while simultaneously doing pilates and giving a presentation on corporate response to climate change – but can she select, and furthermore put on, two different items of top-half clothing in the morning? Oof, give her a chance. We only got the vote in 1928. Baby steps.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Dictionary corner part 462 - holiday special

Offshore frotting (noun) Safe-sexual water-bound physical interaction with attractive foreign stranger during vacation time. Origin: ANON.

With thanks to one of Miss Jones's favourite readers for this addition to the lexicon.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Train manners

I was on the train to work this morning, and we had reached the stage of the journey when more people were getting off than getting on. And as I began to enjoy the sense of calm that was descending on the carriage, I became aware of a repetitive, snip-snipping noise over my shoulder.

When I turned around, I saw that a perfectly respectable-looking woman (slightly reminiscent of Alison Steadman, wearing a smart red coat and glasses) had taken out some nail clippers and was very loudly cutting her fingernails. Clippety-clip, she went, as she propelled pieces of her dead tissue all over the train carriage.

I'm always surprised by the lack of inhibition displayed by my fellow commuters. Of course, it's not unusual to sit next to someone who is energetically applying foundation, or painting their nails and subjecting the rest of their carriage to the heady smell of solvents. But on one occasion, I sat opposite a woman who took out a pair of tweezers and began plucking hairs from her upper lip, while three blobs of eye-catching, luminous white spot cream worked their magic elsewhere on her face. Some part of me is admiring of anyone who can be so thoroughly unselfconscious and immune to the raised eyebrows of those around them. But there is no part of me at all that would be admiring if a shard of someone else's fingernail should land in my cardboard cup of coffee. Badly done, pseudo Steadman.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

The baking battle cry

As human beings, it is our duty to undertake great labours, take risks, push boundaries, strive ever harder, ever further, for enlightenment. That is what separates us from animals. Well, this and Topshop. The time has come for me to undertake just such an endeavour.

Readers, I invite you to join me on a epic journey that will take place over the next few weeks  – I, Miss Jones (34), will attempt to bake a Swiss Roll.

I believe I have been specially chosen to undertake this mission, and I will tell you for why. I was given a sign. I walked into the kitchen at work this afternoon and there on the worktop was the box of a Marks & Spencer Lemon Swiss Roll. And suddenly, at that point, in that kitchen, there was nothing I wanted more in this world than a slice of that Swiss Roll. But there was none. The box was empty. So why had it been sent to test me thus? It was a mystery until I remembered that a couple of weeks before I had been in East Dulwich's most upmarket French-themed salon de thé, and there, on display amid the everyday tableau of fruit tart and carrot cake, was a Swiss Roll. At the time, I only noticed the mere novelty of it - Swiss Roll? who serves Swiss Roll? – but today I realised it was another jam-filled voice joining in with The Calling. And The Calling said, 'Miss Jones, you must bake a large flat sponge, spread it with jam and buttercream, roll it up using all your skill and strength, and do not allow your bones or your spirit to be crushed in the attempt.'

Like all baking warriors, I developed my fear and respect for the Swiss Roll as a tiny child, watching Mrs Jones, the mistress of many kinds of cakes and biscuits, wrestle with the spongey beast, amid much under-the-breath mum-swearing and nervous breath-holding by the rest of the family. If I had been writing this last summer you would have heard about me scaling a previous personal Matterhorn as I emerged flushed but triumphant from the battle of Miss Jones v Meringues – pavlova, to be precise. I feared the making of them no longer. Now I sweep the challenge of meringues aside as though they were brittle castles of sugar, and I am ready for a new adversary. A creature that has fallen out of fashion, and is more elusive, but no less dangerous, with its knack for collapsing utterly in your grip during the critical rolling process.

I need only choose my weapons – raspberry jam or rhubarb jam? buttercream or fresh cream? go kamikaze with an Arctic Roll? – and It. Is. On.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

And another thing

Sometime soon I may stop banging on about the Olympics. But till then...

If you are a Games savant, as I am, it will no longer be a surprise to find yourself becoming emotionally involved with all manner of sports you may normally turn your nose up. Boxing, for me, is one of the more unlikely.

The BBC have tried to colour up the GB boxing team by casting them as some kind of
Lock, Stock…-style band of lovable scrappers, with special graphics showing mugshots of 'The Beijing Seven' and profiles of each competitor, complete with fascinating trivia and occasional nicknames which may well have been invented by Guy Richie.

Their profile of super-heavyweight David Price reads: 'Nicknamed "Dynamite", he is a qualified central heating engineer.'

Now, while I am admittedly over-enthusiastic about punctuation, there is something strange and unfortunate about the way these clauses seem to be related. If I was to hire a central heating engineer to come round to my house and meddle around with things like, oh, highly flammable gas and the like, I wouldn't enjoy the thought that the nickname 'Dynamite' might somehow prove pertinent.

It was encouraging to see David Price doing his best to inhabit his
LockStock-alike alter ego after he knocked out an opponent in an early round. Price ran over to the ropes and bellowed into the crowd 'YER BASSTARD!' entirely audibly, thanks to some manner of ringside microphone. The BBC chose to silence this outburst for the U-certificate early-evening highlights show, but I would have enjoyed it more if they'd overdubbed his profanity with the words 'YOU'RE BUSTED' using the too-plummy voice of a jobbing actor. Budget cuts are, I assume, responsible.

Monday, 18 August 2008

With apologies to the sisterhood

I'm not at all proud of what I'm about to write. I've been sitting on my hands for the last few days, trying to keep the shallow sentiments that will follow from wreaking their wrongness on my keyboard. But it is no good. They must out. 

I simply cannot bear the on-screen wardrobes of Hazel Irvine and Sue Barker.

I know this statement is a hateful affront to womenkind. I know it. After all, how marvellous it is that women are presenting more hours of Olympic coverage than men. How refreshing not to see the same old salt-and-pepper-haired boys' club, legs splayed across the sofas, making tiresome jokes about the women's volleyball competition.

And I can understand that Sue and Hazel may not be keen on any kind of coquettish get-up that would undermine their position as serious broadcasters of integrity, women who've been doggedly ploughing their furrow for years in a historically male field, and are finally reaping some primetime benefits. But would it be beyond the capabilities of any of the parties involved to find them some non-fripperous, properly grown-up presenters' attire that's, like, smart and nice?

Who unleashed this procession of boxy, unflattering, three-quarter-sleeved shirts that is taking place on my screen? It's as though someone doing work experience at the BBC put a load of Adrian Chiles' washing on at the wrong temperature and everything shrunk. And then some parsimonious member of the wardrobe department said, 'Well, there's still plenty of wear left in these. I suppose they'd do for Sue and Hazel.' I turned on the TV one morning last week, and I swear Hazel and The Chiles were wearing the same outfit – preppy pale blue shirts with beige chino-style chinos. And on Saturday, two female friends and I were watching the afternoon coverage when they cut back to Sue In The Studio. The three of us, in perfect unison, recoiled in horror at her candy-striped top with criss-cross, pirate-style lace-up feature around the neck, not unlike the reviled Manchester United shirts of the early 90s. On other days it's not unusual to see a saggy, baggy polo shirt on show that makes our host look like she's off to volunteer at a kennels. Oh for a chic trouser suit for La Barker.

So there you are. I am a wretched person. As I type this, I can hear the marching footsteps of an army of angry lady sports presenters heading for my house. Look, there's the glow of their burning torches through my flimsy curtains. They should be careful. Some of those tops don't half look flammable. 

Friday, 15 August 2008

It'll never be over for me

I worry a good deal about one particularly sad day that draws ever nearer. And that is the day when I am T.O.F.T. – Too Old For Topshop. I am thinking about trying to sell that acronym to the marketing monkeys who valiantly work to create these demographic short-cuts, yet who are constantly undermined by the time it takes to explain what they mean.

Sometimes, as I am tutting over whatever ludicrous music is playing on the giant video screens (I mourn the demise of Radio Topshop – what are you meant to do if you lose your companions in the phone-signal-proof basement, or you're on a shop-date and want to request Careless Whisper?) or standing in front of a mirror in the middle of the shop squeezing a dress on over my own slightly mumsy jeans because I can't be bothered to queue for the changing rooms, I catch a long-limbed teen in shorts looking me up and down with barely contained derision.

I am going to work on writing shorter sentences. That was ludicrous.  

Anyway, at these times I wonder exactly when a dour security guard will sidle over, whisper in my ear, then lead me discreetly but firmly by the elbow to an unmarked door. On the other side, I'll be shoved down a size-14-and-over shaped rubbish chute, and I'll be falling, falling, until I tumble, dusty and disoriented, through an exposed-brick faux-fireplace into a branch of Jigsaw. So far, I've always left the way I walked in, albeit a mysterious three hours later after falling victim to the Topshop Time-Lapse Continuum. But still – tick tock, Miss Jones.

One of the signs that The Time Is Coming is the fact that I am ever-more baffled by some of Topshop's merchandise – and never more so than when I saw these just the other day:

They are bowler hats in glorious 80s tones of Lady Diana royal blue and what I can only call 'hot' pink. They may turn out to be the autumn/winter headgear of choice for Peaches Geldof, but they just made me think of Torvill and Dean doing Barnum – or was it Mack And Mabel? And if you can remember either of these, you may just have ticked one of the boxes on the women's magazine survey entitled 'Are you T.O.F.T.?' 

(When I got home, I did some research on both those Torvill and Dean routines, and discovered that no bowler hats were featured in either. This is another Bad Sign for my future in Topshop – I am hallucinating about ice dancers and bowler hats through sheer mental decline, rather than an indulge in any modish young people's  recreational drugs.)

In short, I'm just not feeling the neon-bright bowler. It smacks of the circus – and while burlesque may have been assimilated by fashionistas the world over, I'm not expecting to see Anna Wintour on a unicycle any time soon, or Zac Posen sending models down the catwalk in cardboard clown cars, throwing buckets of glitter over the front row. So is it time for me to bid so long, farewell to To'Sho'?

Wait a minute. There is one tiny thing in my favour, and I plan to cling to it, like a spaniel clings to a tennis ball. I am exactly the same age, to the very day, as the empress of Topshop, Katherine Anne Moss. When it's over for her, it's over for me. The day Moss turns her back on TS and steps out in a Debenhams twinset is the day I ride down that magical Oxford Circus escalator for the last time. Which makes me quietly confident that, as Timi Yuro once said, it'll never be over for me. 

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Dictionary corner – US special

1) Yesterday, on their early-evening Beijing highlights programme, the BBC showed how US television was choosing to cover the continuing success of swimfreak Michael Phelps. I think it may have been NBC who described him as 'the winningest athlete in history'. Apparently, 'winningest' is a perfectly legitimate adjective in the US – but not over here, of course, because it sounds COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS.

2) Meanwhile, Miss L and I are in a pre-holiday hotel-booking frenzy. Just today, Miss L received an automated reply to one email enquiry which read: 'I will be away from the office on a personal renewal returning Monday 18th August.' I do not know what a personal renewal is. Discounting baptism or gender reassignment, I'm assuming it's some kind of grandiloquising of the mythological 'duvet day', where the jaded office worker emerges from the chrysalis of their bedclothes to live again a butterfly. 

Next time in Dictionary Corner, I attempt to ascertain if grandiloquising is a proper word.

Monday, 11 August 2008

The Temptations Of TK Maxx

Dig if you will, as Prince once said, the picture. You are shopping in Lewisham, in one of its many knock-down, cut-price shopping palaces. To be specific, you are in the Temple Of TK Maxx. You have in your hands a piece of Alexander McQueen. Proper actual McQueen. Not McQueen for Topshop. Not McQueen stitched by destitute Chinese orphans and sold by ruthless agents of deception on Ebay. The genuine article, in your increasingly damp grip. And that is not all. There is more jammed onto the rails in front of you. And it is reduced by 80 whole per cent. 80! 

What is the catch? You must, I'm afraid, be willing to channel Raisa Gorbachev as a style icon

Or a look that I'm calling Rodeo Cher.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

In which I am mistaken for a member of the orchestra

This weekend: more culture. It is practically pouring out of me and pooling around my silver sandals. Obviously it is raining a lot too. But still. I may as well be Melvyn Bragg. Lord knows, I'd love to have hair that thick.

Friday was West Side Story at Sadler's Wells, which was sometimes excellent but, ultimately, strangely unmoving. This is a significant flaw, clearly, since by the end of West Side Story, you should by rights be too distraught to connect one palm with other and applaud. I don't like to point the finger, but Tony, with his sensible chinos and buttoned-up pale blue shirt, just didn't seem to be the kind of man you fall in love with across a dancefloor. Maybe it was because I had been watching the introductary coverage of the Olympics earlier that day, but all I could think of when I looked at him, from our seats in the far reaches of the upper-upper-upper circle, was Matthew Pinsent...

...who has many excellent qualities which I lack – commitment, courage, strength, a history of getting up early – but impassioned leading man material he is, perhaps, not.

Then, on Saturday, back to the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, for which I wore a black dress. While we were sitting in the bar beforehand, sharing our table with a lovely all-male couple ('They're very friendly, the gays,' said Mrs Jones) one of them asked me if I was playing in the orchestra. Hmm. At least he didn't ask me to clean the table or fetch him a gin and tonic. Perhaps I just look like the kind of person who spent their childhood indoors practising scales rather than running around breathing in fresh air and sunshine (actually, that is exactly what I look like). 

But on with the show. Mrs Jones and I found ourselves in quite brilliant seats –  very close to the stage in an actual posho's box-type area, with room to stash your shopping and hooks to hang up your coat. The orchestra were right beneath us, playing the Romeo to our over-excited Juliet. 

We could see every bead of sweat on Charles Hazelwood's forehead. We could read the sheet music over the shoulders of the double basses. We did have binoculars. But anyway. Only a couple of weeks ago, when Miss W and I been in the same venue, gently perspiring in our cramped seats in the gods, we were wistfully wondering what it took to sit in one of those boxes. And now I know. Like the secret of good skin or a long life, it is old-fashioned good fortune, and nothing more. 

That was the last good fortune of the weekend. So much for the Canadians being a race of warm, friendly checked-shirt wearers. After I booked a hotel in Nova Scotia online last week, one of them has been attempting to take my credit card details out for a spend-up. O Canada. Bryan Adams would not endorse that, I am sure.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

The weight of the world

With a contented sigh, I can confirm that the Olympics really have properly arrived now that the Great Britain team has had its first episode of hapless calamity.

Boxer Frankie Gavin – a Genuine Gold Medal Contender. No, He Is. We Really Mean It This Time - has failed to make the correct weight for his boxing classification. He couldn't lose the cursed extra pounds in time for the weigh-in and tipped the scales 3lb too far. If you're already thinking, why can't he just fight in a heavier division, you are astute, and perhaps enjoying
Sport Mastermind as much as I am. But this is a no-go for 'Fun Time' Frankie (I'm not even making that up) because another British boxer has already qualified at that weight, and that is the Olympic Law. So now, Frankie Gavin – so special, he has a first name for a surname, like George Michael and, er, Barry George – is on his way home again with barely a scuff to his Team GB trainers.

One of the very few things I hate about saturated TV coverage of a major sporting event - and this is most true of football tournaments – is the way that the media assumes a perfect, unbroken divide between the sexes, in an 'Uh-oh, ladies. Say goodbye to 'im indoors for two weeks' kind of fashion. Men country-wide are assumed to be commencing an unbroken sofa sit-in in front of the television, building a stockade of empty beer cans around them in attempt to buffer the Endless Nagging. Every member of the female population, meanwhile, is somehow imagined to be frantically organising ladies' nights out to beige wine bars and writing impassioned letters to ITV2 begging them to repeat
Cold Feet.

To this, I can only say urgh. But still, some people believe it, and those of them who work in sports marketing must be wondering how to get more women through the turnstiles or onto the sofa, and cerebrally ingesting the commercial breaks or advertising hoardings. And they're really missing a trick in failing to exploit the weight loss issue inherent in competitive boxing. Why aren't they fighting stereotype with stereotype? After all, women everywhere, all of them, are constantly dieting, all the time, and never more so than right now, in preparation for that once-yearly beach holiday that every single one of us has, without fail, every summer. The Olympic boxing contenders may be striving to fit into the top end of an official weight bracket, rather than, say, a tiger-print two-piece with halterneck, but the principle is the same.

The readers of Closer would, I am sure, embrace a cover star like Frankie Gavin. Imagine him pictured with a championship belt cinched around his waist, customised with the markings of a tape measure, and the neon type claiming 'I lost 5lb in 24 hours and now I'm the lightweight champion of the world!' Think of the Fun Times Frankie and his boxing friends could have testing seaweed wraps for the readers of Cosmopolitan. The female sex would be cheering on the lads in no time, becoming afficionados of the sport only a short time later. And with the accusatory gaze of women's weekly magazines trained upon him, maybe Frankie would have felt sufficient pressure to shed the weight. What harsher spotlight is there, after all?

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Pink, Paxman and peppermint creams

I was on my way home from returning the Ill-Advised Tartan last night – just managing to limbo under the 28-day-returns threshold – when I saw someone else, an actual celebrity and a Proper, Clever One too, experiencing an episode of wardrobe dementia. There, pacing up and down London Bridge waiting to film something almost certainly involving his Eyebrows Of Scepticism And Also Of Sternness, was Jeremy Paxman, over-coordinating his hot-pink shirt with a hot-pink face. Times are hard for the BBC, of course, but you'd think one of his skeleton filming crew would have had a second to look up from their multi-tasking and politely say, 'Excuse me, Jeremy, do you have another shirt? It's just that yours is kind of the same colour as your face. If it wasn't for your hair, you'd look like a walking suit with shoes.' Something else they might say is, 'Jeremy, can we have a conversation about sun block?' And also, 'Jeremy, I know we are colleagues and everything, but you are looking kind of hot for 58.'

In other news, I was excited to see a Fry's Peppermint Cream on sale in Holland & Barrett today. Excited, of course, for two reasons. Firstly, despite being made exclusively from chocolate and sugar, the Peppermint Cream appears to have officially qualified as a health food. And secondly, I'd come to believe that the Fry's Peppermint Cream had become the JD Salinger of chocolate bars. If it wasn't for Dulwich's original, and most magical, branch of
Hope & Greenwood, I would rarely come across one, since its place on the cornershop chocolate smorgasbord seems to have been usurped by depraved varieties of KitKat and laboratory-concocted Frankenstein-style energy bars. I miss the elegance of the Fry's brand (apart from the blandness of the plain old Billy No-Flavour Chocolate Cream). Anyway, disappointment was looming, of course. When I opened it back at my desk, I found the chocolate was covered in that mysterious white bloom common to bars of chocolate given to you by your grandparents. Then I noticed it was past its sell-by date. This, of course, had only made it entirely at home in its lodgings on Camden High Street.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Patisserie Jones presents…

There has been baking in the Jones kitchen. 

The latest in an ongoing series entitled Cakes That Look Like They May Have Been Decorated By Contestants On The Generation Game, this is my Cake For A Fish Lover.

Who needs a diploma in sugarcraft when you can buy a packet of jelly sweets from Marks & Spencer and hamfistedly push them into some still-compliant icing?