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The Guardian Weekend 23 December 2017

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23 ee
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d
Answer this:
Thomas Eaton’s
tips, plus bonus
festive quiz
I’m a turkey
whisperer
No crib for a bed:
your spare-room
photos
You better watch out!
Meet the surfing Santas, river swimmers and others hitting the great outdoors this Christmas
16
99
7 Hadley Freeman
8 Tim Dowling Plus Bim
Adewunmi’s First take
10 Your view Plus
Stephen Collins
12 Q&A Harriet Walter,
actor
15 Experience I’m
a turkey whisperer
Features
16 No rest, ye merry
gentlemen From
parkour to a river
swim: what outdoor
types do in the holidays
28 ’Twas the night
before Christmas And
there was not a bed
to be found: guests
share their spare-room
horror stories
34 Your starter for 10
Weekend quiz setter
(and Cubs’ Mastermind
winner) Thomas Eaton
on the tricks of his trade
Fashion
39 Blind date Ivan, say
hello to Harry
40 All ages Fair Isle style
for men
42 Jess Cartner-Morley
Lady in red
43 The fashion edit Top
10 gorgeous earrings
45 Beauty Sali Hughes
picks perfume presents
Food and drink
46 Yotam Ottolenghi
Stress-free festive
recipes. Plus up-tothe-wire booze-buying
51 Thomasina Miers
Fabulous fish biryani
52 The new vegan
Meera Sodha’s festive
pilau with beetroot,
cauliflower and
coriander chutney
55 Restaurants Felicity
Cloake dips into
Thames Lido, Reading
Body and mind
67 System upgrade
Incredible, exhilarating,
exhausting: what on
earth is Zoe Williams up
to? Plus My life in sex
68 This column will
change your life In praise
of escapism. Plus What
I’m really thinking:
the reluctant guest
Berger & Wyse
Space
58 Back to the 50s
Mid-century heaven
in a city home
62 The Space edit Top
10 statement rugs
64 Alys Fowler Why
labelling plants matters
65 Let’s move to Bexhillon-Sea, East Sussex.
Plus All the places
I’ll never live
Back
69 Howard Jacobson Plus
Crossword and Quiz
70 That’s me in
the picture
BERGERANDWYSE.COM
Starters
COVER AND THIS PAGE: FABIO DE PAOLA FOR THE GUARDIAN. THANKS TO RIVER ISLAND AND SPEEDO FOR THE T-REX JUMPER AND SWIM CAPS
S
Co t a r t
nt e r s
en
ts
THIS PRODUCT IS MADE FROM SUSTAINABLY MANAGED
FOREST AND CONTROLLED SOURCES. PRINTED BY ROTO
SMEETS GROUP BV, DEVENTER, NETHERLANDS
16
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 5
Hadley
Freeman
How to cope with Christmas on your own? Easy: savour every moment
hristmas on one’s own has a bad
reputation, for reasons I understand
but will never accept. How To Cope
With A Solo Christmas is a headline
that turns up this time every year, studded among
the 10 million other headlines about the “easy”
way to cook a Christmas dinner for 35 people, and
how to buy the perfect present for every person
you know. Quite why these ambitions, which
should only ever be attempted by the certified
insane, are presented as normal and universal,
while staying in alone and eating all the mince
pies is pitiable, is just one of the many things
about Christmas this Jew will never get fully on
board with. Other Christmas mysteries, for the
record, include why shepherds were watching
their flocks in late December and, while Google
solved for me the mystery of what myrrh is
(“natural gum or resin”), I still have no idea
why anyone would bring it to a baby. (“Hi Mary,
I wanted to bring some onesies, but the shop was
fresh out. So here’s some resin.”)
A lot of the anti-solo Christmas prejudice is
based on another assumption I firmly reject,
which is that being alone means being lonely.
I lived very happily on my own for 15 years,
and I suspect that the only people who equate
solitude with sadness are jealous of those who
have the courage to choose a less traditionally
sanctioned path. Sort of like how it’s always the
parents of the nightmare toddlers who insist that
without children one’s life is meaningless. Oh pity
those childless friends, jetting off to Thailand for
Christmas, instead of cooking a dinner for 35 and
wrapping 212 presents!
Christmas has become a fixed idea in people’s
minds, a kind of checklist of stereotypes
forged over the decades by Charles Dickens,
Hollywood, advertising and cookery shows. The
chaotic kitchen, the warm glow, the awkward
racist relative, the overstuffed fridge followed
by the overstuffed turkey and the overstuffed
people, and, most of all, the family: the idea that
Christmas should be endured at least as much
as enjoyed is as tenacious as the assumption
that children are an essential component in a
fulfilled life.
I have had many big family Christmases
and, no question, they can be wonderful. But
throughout my 20s I often chose to do Christmas
on my own, and I am here to tell you that a solo
PHOTOGRAPH BY SUKI DHANDA FOR THE GUARDIAN
C
Christmas is awesome. One Christmas Day was
spent on a beach in Goa, lying in a hammock
and re-reading Kathleen Winsor’s bodice-ripper,
Forever Amber. I managed to cope. Other years
I stayed home, eating the king of meals – a jacket
potato with cheese and beans – and watching
as many of the 10 greatest Christmas movies as
I could before my eyes fell out (counting down,
Bad Santa, Gremlins, Edward Scissorhands, Elf,
It’s A Wonderful Life, Scrooged, Trading Places,
White Christmas, A Christmas Story and The
Muppet Christmas Carol. This list is scientifically
proven and cannot be argued with).
There is, of course, a difference between
choosing to spend Christmas on your own and
having aloneness thrust upon you. One year
I arranged to meet a friend, C, in Delhi. C had
suffered from addiction problems, but he’d
cleaned up and we were going to spend a few
days together, celebrating his triumph. But when
I landed in India another friend called to say C
had died, possibly from an overdose. In shock,
I booked a hotel, thinking I would numb out to
CNN as I waited for my flight home, soothed by
the sweet tones of Anderson Cooper. But then
Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, so the only
thing to watch on TV, to distract me from my
friend’s sudden death, was millions of Pakistanis
mourning another sudden death.
It was a strange Christmas, but, surprisingly,
not a bad one. I thought about C, and the
Christmas at home I wasn’t having. But I also read
a lot, and in the evenings went to a curry house
where the waiters got to know me well enough
to put in my usual order as soon as I walked in.
On my last day, waiting for my dal, they gave me
a box of Christmas crackers as a leaving present.
Family Christmases are wonderful, but I
opted out because I needed to break out of
the familial role I constructed for myself as a
child, and few occasions make you fall more
easily into those roles than Christmas. Really,
the holiday should be about rest, recovery and
happiness, and sometimes being alone is the best
way to find that.
Now I have a family of my own, solo holidays
are off the table. But when I think of that night in
Delhi, emotionally wrung out but starting to get
better, pulling crackers with a waiter, I know that
was my most pure Christmas.
@HadleyFreeman
Tim
Dowling
Second
life
t is the time of year when my wife and
I enter our annual dispute about the
correct date to purchase a Christmas
tree. My wife always wants to buy it
too soon, and regards my insistence on waiting as
part of my traditional bid to ruin Christmas. It’s
not: I’m always optimistic about the expedition
itself, hoping to recreate a magical childhood
memory which, in hindsight, may belong to
someone else.
But my wife is ill; she’s been in bed for
three days. With nobody to pester me about
the Christmas tree, the errand recedes in my
consciousness. I wake in the middle of the night
realising the ideal purchase date has passed.
On Sunday afternoon I think about taking the
boys off to get a tree – a jolly, apple-cheeked
memory for all of us to cherish – but none of
them is dressed, and anyway the weather is foul.
On Monday the children are up and out – two
at work, one at a lecture – before I get dressed.
On Tuesday the house is silent when I come
downstairs. I go out to my shed, alone.
Just before lunch I go in search of the dog, and
find it sitting on the middle one’s bed, alongside
the sleeping form of the middle one.
“What?” he says, blinking.
“Don’t you have work?” I say.
“Tomorrow,” he says. I shut his door. A minute
later, I open it again.
“You, me, Christmas tree,” I say. “One hour!”
“No!” he shouts, pulling the duvet over his head.
Forty-five minutes later, I am back in my shed
when the middle one, fully dressed, suddenly
opens the door and leans in.
“Are we going, or what?” he says.
We climb into the car with the dog and head for
a nearby park. The sky is a hard blue, the air clear
and cold. Walking across the open space with
the dog chasing squirrels over piles of leaves, my
mood begins to lift. It’s too bad the other two
aren’t here, I think, but they would only take up
I
I’m always optimistic
about the tree
expedition, hoping to
recreate a magical
childhood memory
which may not be mine
8 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
room in the car that could be more profitably
occupied by tree.
“Where is this place?” the middle one says.
“I can’t quite remember,” I say. “I passed it the
other day on the bus.”
“How do we even know we’re going the right
way?” he says.
“There,” I say, pointing.
In a fenced-off corner of the park we find a little
hay-strewn enclosure, ringed with fairy lights
and filled with netted trees. No one else is there.
A man with a beard emerges from a wooden
cabin, scowling.
“Yes?” he says.
“We’re looking for a tree,” I say. He looks at me
as if I’ve ruined his day.
“OK,” he says.
“What kinds do you have?” I say, brightly.
“They’re all the same,” he says. I point to a tree,
and reluctantly he slits its net and holds it up for
us, thudding the trunk against the frozen ground
to spread its boughs.
“What do you think?” I say.
“It’s good,” the middle one says. “Tall, though.”
“How tall is that?” I say.
“That’s 8ft,” the man says, with transparent
irritation.
“Wow,” I say. “We should probably look at some
more. Can we compare it with, say, that one?”
The man de-nets the tree I’m pointing to. I hold
it up next to the other one. The little dog sits,
looking up at both trees.
“It’s got a good shape,” I say.
“That’s a 9ft,” says the man.
“Nine?” I say. “Can we even do nine? Let’s
get a nine!”
“The first one is way better,” the middle one
says, his cheeks as red as apples. This outing is
almost a match for the false tree-buying memory
I hold in my mind. Except for the man. He’s
slightly bringing me down.
“Fine!” I say. “We’ll take it!” The man exhales
impatiently, re-nets the tree, and takes my card.
“No need to get the car,” I say. “We can carry it
through the park!”
“Wait, what?” the middle one says. The
man pulls my card from his machine, along
with the receipt, and regards me with
unalloyed contempt.
“Merry Christmas,” he says.
@IAmTimDowling
First take
Bim Adewunmi
Until school forced me, I do not
remember consuming much poetry.
Finally, I went beyond the pop
culture nuggets of Auden and Larkin
and the sonnets, and instead learned
to dissect Heaney and Hughes and
“conflict poetry” to the standards
of an exam board. The curriculum
tried: my first Walcott came in Year
10 or 11, and Love After Love is
perhaps my favourite poem, still –
but well, you know.
At least I learned a valuable
lesson from reading the works of
those many dead, white poets: I go
to poetry to be moved. I know; it
is a spectacular burden to place
on a literary form. And yet when
I first read, “We took turns to bury
each other”, the opening line from
Burial, a poem by South African
poet Koleka Putuma (below), it felt
to me like that burden weighed
nothing at all.
Winter is the time for poetry.
Nature gets dramatic at this time
of year, and we attempt to match
it as best we can. There is nothing
better than wallowing in the words of
a stranger when things are dark and
gloomy and you feel a bit Bette Davis
in Now, Voyager. When Putuma
writes “(your silence is too loud
for this noisy place)” in In Public,
and the wind picks up outside, the
feeling in my chest is something akin
to flight. When I saw her perform
her poem Water, a blistering take
on stereotypes and the history
of apartheid, I burst into tears.
of apar
makes me feel
Her poetry
p
angry and vulnerable, which
angry a
can be good things, even when
can be
they’re not exactly welcome.
Everything is subjective, of course.
Everyt
I hold to the romantic notion
I ho
that certain poems come to
th
us as and when we need them
u
the most.
@bimadew
ANDISWA MKOSI
The Christmas-tree seller emerges from a cabin, scowling
Small data
Starters
Your
view
Last week, a 54-yearold virgin wrote
about waiting to find
a connection before
having sex. You said:
46% Lighten up. Just
have fun
36% Good on you. Sex
isn’t everything
18% When it happens,
expect to be
disappointed
LO COLE
Letters, emails, comments
In an otherwise fine interview
with Glenn Close (16 December),
she suggests that men and
women’s “biology” is different,
and that this is OK. I think we
should be more forceful and
change the culture of masculinity
utterly, so that every man treats
a woman as a person, not an object.
If this doesn’t happen, then sexism
will pervade.
Patrick Dale
London
A timely article on homelessness
(No Place Like Home, 16 December)
just before Christmas’s excesses take
hold. I was manager of a homeless
charity for 10 years. I left, no longer
able to perfectly describe “the type
of person who becomes homeless”.
Fifteen years on, the challenge to
categorise is even harder. Sadly the
causes now are easier to identify:
Tory austerity agenda, defective
welfare claimant system, mental
health cuts, greed-led housing
model – a more divisive society.
Mac Downes
Feltham, Middlesex
Well done all (The Year I Found My
Voice, 16 December). I remember my
dad, a union man, coming home
bleeding, having been to oppose the
BNP in Thamesmead. My first demo
was anti-hunting. I went mainly to
smoke weed with the crusties and
square off with some poshos, but
the cause remains a noble one.
SalviaPlath
On theguardian.com
Stephen Collins
10 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
Hadley Freeman (16 December)
misses the point. JK Rowling does
not. Johnny Depp’s private life
is of no interest to her. If he has
committed criminal offences, let the
law take its course. She is interested
in his ability as an actor.
If we insist on airbrushing from
history any artist, whatever their
field, because of their private
behaviour, we will have to remove
every Caravaggio from the walls of
the world’s art galleries, and delete
the music of talented megastars.
Most things really are complicated.
Humans are flawed. Genius, no
more, no less.
Anthony Vear
Hillsborough, County Down
We live in the Lakes, where it rains
a lot, so my husband and I always
wear waterproofs and walking
boots. Would we make your tenuous
“we dress the same” lineup (It Takes
Two, 16 December)?
Anna Lister
Cockermouth, Cumbria
Poor David Guetta (Q&A, 16
December). Such a charmed life, yet
his Cuban model girlfriend snores.
Kate Fryer
Bristol
Tom Dyckhoff ’s Let’s move to
Pwllheli and the Llŷn peninsula
(16 December) mentions the
strength of the Welsh culture
in the area, but fails to explain
that most people there speak
Welsh on a daily basis. Anyone who
follows his advice and moves to
Llŷn will discover the best way to
get to know the people is to learn
the language. Find courses at
learnwelsh.cymru.
Eirian Wyn Conlon
Yr Wyddgrug/Mold, Cymru/Wales
Email weekend@theguardian.com or
comment at theguardian.com by noon
on Monday for inclusion. Submissions
are subject to our terms and conditions:
see http://gu.com/letters-terms
Starters
Q&A
Harriet Walter, actor
orn in London, Walter,
67, joined the RSC in her
30s. In 1988 she received
an Olivier award for her
performances in Twelfth Night and
Three Sisters. In recent years, she has
starred at the Donmar Warehouse in
all-female productions of Julius
Caesar, Henry IV and The Tempest,
set in a women’s prison; the trilogy
will screen on iPlayer next year.
She is married to actor Guy Paul,
and lives in London.
ALAMY
B
What is your greatest fear?
Wasting my life.
Which living person do you most
admire, and why?
Judith Clark, on whom I based my
character in the prison trilogy. She
has served over 35 years and turned
herself around. She is an inspiration.
What is the trait you most deplore
in yourself?
My short fuse.
Property aside, what’s the most
expensive thing you’ve bought?
I spent £600 on Rudolf Nureyev’s
ballet shoes after he died. He was
the biggest idol in my life and
influenced me hugely.
What do you most dislike about
your appearance?
My skin colour – it’s dull.
Who would play you in the film of
your life?
Me, of course, but for the flashbacks
I would have Charlotte Gainsbourg
because, from certain angles, she
looks a bit like I used to.
What is your most unappealing
habit?
Criticising my husband’s
unappealing habits.
Which book changed your life?
Germaine Greer’s The Female
Eunuch. I was coming up to 20,
which is a very good time to read that
book. It made me feel that I wasn’t
weird for not quite conforming to
people’s notions of femininity.
What did you want to be when you
were growing up?
An actor. When I was really young,
I wanted to be a fishmonger’s wife.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Watching a lot of nonsense on
YouTube at night.
To whom would you most like to
say sorry, and why?
My mother, because I didn’t
appreciate until after she’d gone that
she was a vulnerable human being.
I just expected her to know
everything and be everything.
What or who is the greatest love of
your life?
I don’t believe there’s one love. At
the moment, it’s my husband.
What does love feel like?
In some way your life is doubled.
You’re you and the other person.
What has been your biggest
disappointment?
When I got to 40 and realised
I hadn’t read all the books I needed
to read to understand the world.
If you could edit your past, what
would you change?
I would never have gone on a diet.
I would go back with the knowledge
that not being perfect is fine.
If you could go back in time, where
would you go?
I’d go anywhere I could to meet
Shakespeare and have a long talk.
How do you relax?
Reading. I’ve just had built
a brilliant window seat at home
where I sit and look out or read.
How often do you have sex?
Often enough to make me happy.
What keeps you awake at night?
Everything. I’ve one of those brains
that doesn’t quieten down.
What song would you like played at
your funeral?
I went to a funeral where they played
Cheek To Cheek: Fred Astaire
singing “Heaven. I’m in heaven… ”
Everyone smiled. I’d like that.
Rosanna Greenstreet
12 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
The greatest
love of my life?
At the moment,
my husband
PSST! OUR LITTLE
Starters
Experience
got my first guitar when
I was 12, and it’s been
a slow process of selftuition since then. I also
play piano and violin, but I only
play the guitar to the turkeys on the
Rhug Estate farm in Corwen, north
Wales, where I work.
It began as an experiment. Rhug
is an organic farm, and the main
principle is to create as little stress
as possible for the animals. But the
farm is on the side of a main road,
so some get spooked by loud noises:
the traffic, machinery or sounds
from the car park. We started
playing the radio to them overnight.
We’d put on Classic FM when we
were shutting up at 7pm and leave it
on until we returned in the morning.
The turkeys in particular
responded really well. So we started
playing the radio all day, every day.
Then my boss, Lord Newborough,
I
thought, “What if the music was
much more up close and personal?”
He knew I played guitar and
suggested I had a go. I think my
facial expression may have shown
I was a bit flabbergasted by the
request. I thought he was joking.
But we tried it. And from the
moment I started strumming, the
turkeys crowded round. I got the
impression they enjoyed listening
to me play. They started pecking on
the guitar and plucking the strings.
That’s the result of organic farming:
you get inquisitive animals, rather
than ones that are scared.
I don’t know how to describe
the noise they make. People often
say “gobble”. They did a lot of
that – they were almost like a choir,
gobbling away in response to my
music. After seeing how much
they enjoyed it, we did it again –
and kept on going.
I’ve now performed in front of
hundreds of turkeys. If you put
hundreds of humans in front of
me, I’d never be able to perform
(my guitar abilities are fairly
limited). I sing Welsh folk songs
and ones my dad would have loved
to hear, like the Animals’ House
Of The Rising Sun – that’s the one
I like playing most. I play pop songs,
too, like Kylie Minogue, but with a
folk twist.
I’ve been described as a turkey
whisperer. It’s like a horse
whisperer, but not as glamorous.
I don’t have a magic touch – anyone
who played to them would get the
same reaction, to be honest.
The turkeys arrive here as dayold chicks at the beginning of
June; more than 1,000 of them
are delivered. They’re kept in a
controlled environment for the
first couple of weeks, but as they
develop into larger birds, we slowly
introduce them to a free-range way
of life. From the first light of day to
nightfall, they’re out grazing in the
fields. We’re a 6,500-acre farm, so
they’ve more land than they need.
They’re not chicks for long.
You’ll go home on a Friday evening
and come back on a Monday, and
you’ll think, “Bleeding heck, where
did these come from?” All of a
sudden, they’re huge. We’ve got
Norfolk Bronze and Hockenhull
Blacks. Are turkeys ugly? I wouldn’t
want to say. They’re not exactly
cute and probably won’t win any
beauty contests.
Turkeys are the noisiest of the
bunch on the farm, but they’re
also intelligent and curious. We
hang up CDs for them, or put
pumpkins in the fields at Halloween,
which they love – anything new,
they’ll check it out.
I’m an animal lover and it’s
important to me that the turkeys
are happy. But I’m not a vegetarian.
Getting so close to the birds doesn’t
make me think I have to give up
meat. Farming is a mega industry,
but here the focus is on quality
of life. Having worked with them,
it’s impossible to imagine turkeys
in cages.
I will be eating turkey at
Christmas, and it will be a Rhug
Estate one. Millions of turkeys
end up on the Christmas table all
across the UK, but at least I’ll know
where mine came from and that it
had a good life.
In January, when all the turkeys
are gone, I won’t be sad. It’s a short
wait till June when the new chicks
arrive. It’ll be quieter when they’re
not here, but on such a big farm,
there’s always something to fill the
silence. Elin William
Do you have an experience to share?
Email experience@theguardian.com
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 15
AS TOLD TO SOPHIE HAYDOCK
ANDREW JACKSON FOR THE GUARDIAN
I’m a turkey whisperer
Every New Year’s Day, the Hamilton
family head to the river. For others,
it’s a three-mile Boxing Day run
or a parkour jam. Daniel Masoliver
meets the people who won’t
be spending Christmas on the couch
Photographs by Fabio De Paola
Come on in,
16 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
Dedham swimmers, led by
Stuart Hamilton (third from left),
photographed in the river Stour in
November. ‘This is Constable country,
and in winter we have it to ourselves’
the water’s icy
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 17
Fell runners prepare for the Boxing
Day Dawdle or Dash in Shropshire.
‘We have raced in sunshine and
rain, over frozen ground, deep mud,
thick snow, but never cancelled’
PREVIOUS PAGES: THANKS TO SPEEDO FOR CHRISTMAS SWIM CAPS
The swimmers
Normally, there’s only one way to get into 4C
water: in a hurry. From Southampton to Sydney
via St Petersburg, an in-and-out New Year’s Day
dunk is a long-established custom; the image of
hordes of swimmers charging en masse to meet
the wintry waves a familiar one. But go down
to the picturesque banks of the river Stour at
Dedham in the early morning of 1 January 2018,
and you will find an altogether more sedate, lowkey gathering, as a small but committed group of
swimmers pull on their wetsuits ahead of their
annual New Year’s Day swim. “We get together
our thickest wetties and hoods and gloves and
boots,” says Stuart Hamilton, 53. “Every year
when we first get in, everybody complains about
the cold, but that’s part of the fun, to suffer a bit.
And to overcome the suffering.”
This will be the fifth year running that Hamilton,
his wife Cathie, daughters Tiffany and Candy,
son-in-law Danny and friend Kevin, brave the icecold currents of the Stour as they attempt to swim
the 2.3km from Dedham Mill to Flatford Mill. The
route, meandering along the Essex-Suffolk border,
is one they know well: in the summer, Hamilton
organises an annual Mill 2 Mill event on this same
stretch of water, drawing up to 350 participants,
all eager to enjoy a leisurely dip followed by a
riverside picnic. The New Year’s Day swim, by
contrast, though advertised to all comers on the
Outdoor Swimming Society’s website, seldom
draws more than a half-dozen hardy regulars.
“Very rarely does anybody make the full
distance, because it’s so cold,” says Hamilton,
a barrel-chested gym owner from Colchester.
“At the halfway point there’s a footbridge that
crosses the water – that’s always a good target.
If we can make it as far as there, we’re doing
well.” Meanwhile, awaiting them on dry land are
Thermos flasks full of warm, milky hot chocolate.
“The water can be anything from 12C down to
2C. That is very cold. A normal swimming pool
temperature is in the mid-20s. So I make sure I fill
up those flasks.”
While Hamilton and his family comprise the
core of the group, it was his friend Kevin Sheath,
a keen amateur triathlete and wild swimmer, who
initiated the tradition. “Being out on the river
is absolutely gorgeous,” says Sheath, 56, who
swims in the river year-round. “This is Constable
country. Our finish point, at Flatford Mill, is
where his Hay Wain was. If you go in the summer,
it’s like Clacton beach; there’s rowing boats,
stand-up paddleboarders, kayakers, fishermen –
the whole world and his uncle. But in the winter,
you can have the river to yourself.”
It’s this peace and tranquillity that keeps the
swimmers coming back year after year, says
Hamilton’s daughter, Tiffany Wood. “Christmas
can be a bit indoorsy,” she says. “You can
overcook yourself on it all, get cabin fever.
As a family, none of us likes to go out partying
or drinking; we socialise by going for a bike ride,
or a swim. It’s great to get out into a real wild
space where you can’t see any buildings or roads,
where there are no Christmas lights or music.
It wakes you up, makes you feel alive.”
Find your nearest swim spot at
outdoorswimmingsociety.com
The fell runners
If hauling yourself out of bed on the morning
of 26 December feels like an uphill battle, spare
a thought for Geoff Sproson. For the past 39
Boxing Days, bar none, he and brother John
have organised the Devil’s Chair Dawdle or Dash,
a steep three-mile round trip up and down the
muddy tracks and rocky moorland of Shropshire’s
Stiperstones national nature reserve. “Our first
event in 1978 was purely a local affair,” says
Sproson, 70, who took up the sport on his doctor’s
advice, to help him recover from a footballing
injury. “We had about 60 participants – mostly
lads from the football club. We thought it would
be a one-off.”
They were wrong. Last year, the Dawdle or
Dash drew 460 participants, with another 150 →
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 19
20 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
spectators lining the course and cheering on the
walkers and runners. Numbers aside, not much
has changed over the years. The start-finish line
is today, as it has always been, at the Stiperstones
Inn – the pub that has been in the Sproson family
for half a century; Geoff ’s daughter is the current
landlady. At the halfway point, some 600ft above,
sits the Devil’s Chair, the craggy quartzite outcrop
that rises from the heather-strewn hills of the
Stiperstones Range. It’s a tough course, and has
seen its fair share of casualties. “You have to go
up a very steep field, and then on top you pick
your way through large stones and boulders for
a good half-mile,” Sproson says. The event goes
ahead, whatever the weather. “We have raced
in sunshine and rain, over frozen ground, deep
mud, thick snow, but never cancelled. Several
people come back with grazes and cuts. And there
was one year early on, when an aunt of mine
broke her ankle and had to be carried off the top.”
The rewards for braving the uneven terrain are
much the same as they have ever been. “A gallant
group of local ladies still provide sandwiches
and soup to every runner and walker,” Sproson
says. “And an intrepid band of supporters from
the Shropshire Mining Club still encourage weary
souls with a drop of the hard stuff at the summit.
They’re getting on a bit, but they still take a
couple of cases of whisky up.”
There’s a core contingent of regulars who take
part. “There are people who started doing the
event as young boys or girls who are not only still
doing it, but whose children are doing it, too,”
Sproson says.
One regular is Stiperstones-born Viv Jones,
73, who used to play football with Sproson,
and now lives 25 minutes up the road, on the
outskirts of Shrewsbury. “In 39 years, the only
one I missed was last year,” Jones says. “I had
a bit of a problem with my knee. I’ve got to have
a new one some time, but at the moment it isn’t
bothering me, so I’ll do it again this year, under
the hour if I possibly can. I had two minutes to
spare last time.” Jones is spurred on, in part, by
fraternal rivalry. “My brother Neil hasn’t missed
a year. He’s 63, so 10 years younger than me, and
he always gets over the line first.”
For local races, events and advice, go to
fellrunner.org.uk
The Paramount Parkour crew get ready
for their Christmas Jam, organised by
Ruel DaCosta (far right, in Santa outfit).
‘At the last one, we had 70 people doing
back tucks in two concentric circles’
THANKS TO RIVER ISLAND FOR T REX CHRISTMAS JUMPER
The parkour crew
This Christmas, up to 100 parkour enthusiasts
will celebrate the festive season by running,
vaulting, clambering and crawling their way
around a purpose-built gym in Milton Keynes.
“We wanted to celebrate not just parkour,
but movement itself,” says Ruel DaCosta, 32,
co-founder of Paramount Parkour Academy
and host of the Christmas Jam, now a regular
fixture in the calendars of parkour practitioners,
or traceurs, nationwide. “We invited dancers,
gymnasts, kickboxers, people from all walks of
life who had one thing in common: making art
with their bodies.” Thirty people showed up to →
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 21
Santa stand-up paddleboarders in Poole Harbour. ‘I haven’t fallen in, but you can get pushed,’ says Jeff Pangbourne
their first Christmas Jam in 2013; this year they’re
expecting more than three times that number.
“Parkour is like dance, but over obstacles,”
DaCosta says. “It’s an expression of movement,
but over urban landscapes, turning a town into
a playground.” He opened his gym, the UK’s first
dedicated parkour training facility, to create an
environment for traceurs of all levels to hone
their skills in a safe environment.
On jam night, the doors stay open to all comers
until 3am, with high-energy music blaring out
through a specially set-up sound system. While
the gathered crowd play around on the gym’s
elaborate scaffold rigs, ramps and foam pits,
the DJs (DaCosta’s brother and nephew) will
play a soundtrack of dancehall, drum’n’bass,
bashment and reggae – though there won’t be any
overtly Christmassy music. “There are people of
different religions who come along, so we don’t
force Christmas on them,” DaCosta says. “But the
Christmas spirit is there, in the sense of meeting
up with friends who you don’t see often.”
The showstopper moment is always the “backtuck circle”, DaCosta says. “It’s what Paramount’s
jams are known for. Anyone who can do backflips
joins in and we all do them in a Mexican wave
style. At the last one, we must have had 70 people
doing back tucks in two concentric circles.”
It’s a highlight for Charlie Higgs, 23, an
ambulance dispatcher who travels 25 miles from
her home in Bicester to attend the jam. “When
I go to training I’m like, ‘Right, I’ve got to get
my back tuck so I can join in the circle at the
next jam’,” Higgs says. As a keen gymnast and
cheerleader, picking up new skills is part of the
appeal. “The atmosphere is so friendly. I’ve had
issues with my confidence in the past, but they’re
all so good at pumping you up. Even the tiniest
skill that you get, everyone is so proud of you.”
Find a parkour community near you at parkour.uk.
The paddleboarders
Like Santa Claus himself, the all-red, felt-andflannel get-up worn by this group of stand-up
paddleboard (Sup) enthusiasts comes out just
once a year. On the other 364 days, the floating
Clauses are better known as Easyriders, a Sup
club based on the Sandbanks side of Poole
Harbour. They’ve been donning their festive
finery every year since 2013, when a roving,
paddleboarding Santa called Jay Manning first
introduced them to the idea of the Santa Sup,
a tradition now honoured by paddleboarding
communities across the UK.
“It’s usually the last Sunday before Christmas,
and I look forward to it every year,” says
full-time music teacher and part-time Santa
Elaine Williams. “I remember the first time
I saw it, it was such an amazing sight. You just
wouldn’t expect a whole load of Santas to be
paddleboarding off the Dorset coast.”
Meeting at the club’s trailer in the harbour,
the Santas paddle out to sea for up to two
hours, weather dependent. With no set plan or
destination, they might pootle along parallel to
the shore, or venture out into the deep waters
of the shipping channels. But either way, they
have the harbour largely to themselves. “You
don’t get other people out on the water; a lot of
the yachts are taken in for the winter,” Williams
says. “From the position you’re in, standing up on
the board, you see so much more than you would
from a kayak, or from walking along the shore.
These views, and the peacefulness that you
experience when paddleboarding, are the main
attractions for me. With the right conditions,
there’s no other sport like it.”
While the Sups are fairly stable, and most of the
Santas are experienced paddleboarders, with sea
temperatures hovering around 10C, they all wear
thick winter wetsuits under their fancy dress, in
case of an untimely tumble. “The atmosphere is
quite playful,” says Jeff Pangbourne, 67, who has
been paddleboarding for eight years, and taken
part in the Santa Sup for the past three. “I haven’t
fallen in, but you can get pushed. A couple of
years ago some people decided to push each →
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 23
other off, and then everyone else joined in. It got
quite wet. But regardless, it always makes for
a bit of a spectacle. We tend to do it quite close to
the shore at Sandbanks, so if people are having
a leisurely walk, they can see us all on the water.
People will stop and get out of their cars to take
photos. We wave at them and shout ‘Happy
Christmas!’ There’s a lovely atmosphere.”
Find local courses, clubs and events at bsupa.org.uk
The ramblers
On Boxing Day 1963, Jean Todd and her husband
Don wrapped up in their winter coats and headed
out for a long walk around Virginia Water Lake
in Windsor Great Park. “We had a son of two and
decided to walk around the lake with him in the
pushchair,” Jean says. “My son’s 56 now. Since
then, we’ve increased the size of the family, but
we haven’t changed our Boxing Day walk.”
They often shared their traditional
circumnavigation of Virginia Water with an
assortment of friends and visiting relatives. So
when the call came out from a member of the
East Berkshire Ramblers – a walking group which
Jean and Don had recently joined – to organise
a Boxing Day walk, the Todds offered up their
ready-made route. “It was about 12 years ago.
Our kids had more or less given up on the walks.
They’ve grown up and married and they do
their own thing now, though we do still spend
Christmas together,” Jean says. “I said, ‘Look,
we’re doing this family walk every Boxing Day,
let’s turn it into a Ramblers walk.’”
Since then, Jean and Don have been joined
by around 30 people each year. This year will
be the sixth that Frank Bush and his wife
Mavis have accompanied the Todds on their
four-and-a-half-mile ramble. “It’s the perfect
way to blow the cobwebs away. And we get a
chance to talk about what we’ve done over the
last few days – not so much about presents at
our age,” laughs Bush, 75, a retired police officer
who is in awe of some of his fellow walkers’
energy and enthusiasm. “Some of the 80-yearpluses go up hills like they’re mountain goats.
They’re amazingly fit.”
Part of what makes the Boxing Day walk so
accessible for all ages and abilities, however, is
that the route is fairly flat, and provides ample
opportunity to stop and take in the scenery.
“It really is a lovely park,” Jean says. “When you
think of a park, you think of flowerbeds and short
grass, but the Great Park is just open land, a lot of
it wild. It has everything: ponds, streams, woods.
Near the end, we come to a waterfall. It’s very
fast-flowing and beautiful.”
“There’s a lovely atmosphere,” Jean says.
“All the children have their new bikes and
scooters. You bump into people and say hello,
and then most of us go to the local pub. We
thoroughly enjoy it. I’m just hoping the time
doesn’t come when I can’t do it. We’ll keep going
for a few more years yet.” •
Find somewhere to walk this winter at ramblers.org.uk
24 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
The East Berkshire Ramblers in Windsor
Great Park, where a Boxing Day walk
is organised by Jean Todd (third from
left). ‘I’m just hoping the time doesn’t
come when I can’t do it’
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 25
@RobinHoodsBae: ‘Building/digging theme for the single beds together this year’
Your childhood bedroom (and duvet cover), next to the dog house, under the ironing board: where
Sleep tight
@great_defector: ‘Mum suggested brother make bed up on floor under ironing board. Brother is staying at friend’s house’
All photographs and captions supplied by Christmas guests
will you be sleeping this weekend? Rhodri Marsden knows the quirks of Christmas hospitality
@charliechar: ‘It’s a comfy but very literal bed at
my parents’ house’
@ThatMrStirling: ‘I’m in a thin fold-out bed in
what was Mum & Dad’s dining room, with piles of
random stuff. I’m essentially in a storage room’
ne of the many curiosities of the British
Christmas is that while most of us are
familiar with the chorus to Slade’s 1973
hit Merry Xmas Everybody, you’d be
hard pushed to find anyone who remembers the
rest of the words, other than a nagging sense that
“red-nosed reindeer” is in there somewhere. In
fact, the opening to the second verse is as follows:
“Are you waiting for the family to arrive? Are you
sure you’ve got the room to spare inside?”
I know the answer to the second question,
because I’ve seen the evidence. Over the past six
years, it’s become a Christmas Eve social media
tradition for people to tweet me pictures of the
cramped, shabby, gaudy, improvised and
inappropriate beds they’ve been assigned to wake
O
@MagsTheObscure: ‘Last year I had a door under
the mattress, this year I have the room where the
dog sleeps’
@princess_knicks: ‘Thanks to my mum for the
bedtime company…’
up in on Christmas morning. Ranging from recliners
topped with threadbare blankets (and a cat) to
airbeds in bitterly cold utility rooms, the pictures
offer a reminder that, while we spend more per
capita on Christmas gifts than any other nation,
hospitality isn’t always our strong point. There’s
just not enough room (or duvet covers) at the inn.
It started innocently enough. On Christmas Eve
2011, I tweeted a picture of my view from a single
bed in the corner of my sister’s old room at my
parents’ house. (My old room, now that it contains
a wheezing Dell desktop and a malfunctioning
printer-scanner, has come to be an “office”.) The
floral duvet, austere decor, knackered soft toys and
a sense of the room having been preserved in
aspic since 1992 seemed to strike a chord; without
@JulieNicholas_: ‘Tonight I’ll be sleeping next
to the dryer, the swish & the wardrobe at my
brother’s house in Dublin’
@PeterC78: ‘This scrap of floor is earmarked for
my bed. Mum’s even hoovered the floor this year’
containing anything stereotypically Christmassy,
the picture managed to convey the essence of
Christmas. People tweeted their own pictures in
a gesture of solidarity, so I shared those, too, to
a sizable audience who were probably staring at
their phones to avoid talking to their families. The
whole thing snowballed, and every year I get
asked if I’m doing it again (last year, a quiet genius
on Twitter called @crouchingbadger came up with
a suitable hashtag – #duvetknowitschristmas).
I’ve been sent thousands of photographs over
the years, these mundane pictures of neglected
rooms and weird domestic scenes; they’re things
guests would never normally get to see – because
you’d make an effort to tidy up for those guys; but
for family, it’s different. You do your own thing, →
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 31
Children returning to the family
nest may even be accused
of treating the house like a hotel.
If only; at least then they
might get a choice of pillows
@RobboRobson21: ‘This will be the view from my bed tomorrow.
I’m going to have night terrors, aren’t I?’
unique to you and your kin, and if that involves
your younger brother being forced to sleep under
an ironing board, well, that’s just how it is.
We tend to have a good idea of what awaits us when
we’re Driving Home For Christmas (or battling with
planned engineering works on the TransPennine
Express). I would always arrive at my parents’
house on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, walk in,
sit down as they watched Deal Or No Deal and
spend 15 minutes railing against the premise of the
show while they pondered whether the contestant
should have accepted the banker’s last offer. If Noel
Edmonds referred to someone choosing a box as
“making a manoeuvre in live play”, I’d say, “I’ve
had enough of this”, and leave the room, tutting.
32 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
@FranksMildYears: ‘Same room as last year, different equations.
I’m still none the wiser’
At that point, Christmas had truly begun. Deal Or
No Deal was axed last year, and we’ve not yet found
another tradition to replace it.
Later in the evening, before I head up to my
modest yuletide bedroom, my dad goes through
a detailed rundown of which electrical appliances
need to be switched off, which ones need to be
turned off at the wall, and which ones need to be
unplugged completely. It’s unclear whether he’s
trying to save a few pence on the electricity bill,
or fears we’ll perish in an electrical fire, but it’s a
serious business that I show respect for, despite
wondering what the big deal is.
After all, spending Christmas in someone else’s
house, even if it’s a house you lived in as a child,
requires consideration and understanding, as you
adapt to new ways of doing things. Mealtimes may
be bizarrely early or distressingly late. Thermostats
may be set to Greenland or Congo. Possessions
may be tidied away when you’re not looking,
leaving you hunting for stuff you only put down
for a second. Since your last visit, furniture may
have been replaced without your approval. You
may be shouted at for leaving a plate on the
pouffe. Children returning to the family nest may
even be accused of treating the house like a hotel.
If only; at least then they might get a choice of
pillows and be allowed to walk around the building
during the night without being confronted by an
alarmed parent wielding a hammer.
The pictures I get sent each year tend to fall into
a few regular categories: 1) the box room, jam-
@publishingnuria: ‘Yes Mum, it’s a total mystery why I didn’t come home before now (my brother gets an actual bed like the favourite child he is)’
packed with tat, including well-thumbed crime
fiction, electronic drum kits, chin-up bars and
exercise equipment, Sanyo cassette players,
broken remotes and upturned furniture hidden
by tartan throws; 2) the two single beds provided
for a couple, definitely not pushed together and
very carefully separated by a bedside table; 3)
blank, featureless rooms, empty except for a bed,
without even a lampshade; 4) creepy things
placed to watch over you and guarantee you a
troubled night, including terrifying dolls,
ominous busts and headless mannequins; 5) beds
adorned with childhood duvet covers featuring
fairies, racing cars or Superman, retrieved from
the bottoms of drawers and deployed by parents
in a mischievous attempt at low-level humiliation;
6) disorienting decor choices, including wall plates,
curtains patterned with swirls of brown and
orange, and hangings (such as one asking What If
The Hokey Cokey Is What It’s All About?); and
7) claustrophobic scenes where second cousinsonce-removed are placed within touching distance
in a confined space and wished “sweet dreams”.
This social media escapade has taught me
how keen we are to peek into other people’s
dysfunctional situations – maybe because it
reassures us that our own circumstances are as
weird as everyone else’s. My own Christmas will be
spent with my parents and sister, as usual; I’ll
perform some wireless-router servicing and other
light IT duties, hide in the other room when there
are disagreements over vegetable preparation, and
indulge my father’s insistence on reading out every
Christmas cracker joke, regardless of its comedic
quality. I’ll also receive a couple of gifts that cause
no surprise whatsoever because I specifically
requested them. And tomorrow night, I’ll sit at my
laptop, sharing a new selection of festive JPEGs
sent to me by strangers all over the UK. We’ve had
a lifetime of adverts depicting the “perfect
Christmas”; now it’s time to remember that our
own imperfect, slightly rubbish Christmases have
actually got quite a lot going for them •
Rhodri Marsden’s book, A Very British Christmas,
is published by HQ Stories at £9.99. To order a copy
for £8.49, go to guardianbookshop.com or call
0330 333 6846.
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 33
What does it take to be a great quiz writer?
Is it:
a) fiendish intelligence
b) extensive library
c) lucky pen?
34 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
Portrait: Sophia Spring
Answer: all of the above.
Weekend’s quiz
master Thomas Eaton
reveals his secrets
can’t pinpoint the exact moment
I realised that quizzes would play
a major part in my life, but the Cubs’
Mastermind tournament seems a good
place to start. I was 10, and my specialist subject
was Lenin. (The irony that the Scout movement
had been banned in the USSR was lost on me.)
I did, however, win – and from then on was not shy
about putting my general knowledge to the test. There are no short cuts to acquiring a quizzer’s
general knowledge. Mine came through a lot of
reading when I was young – neither structured nor
even age-appropriate, but definitely omnivorous.
I read children’s encyclopedias, the Guinness Book
of Records, Usborne histories and compendiums
of facts. Poring over atlases full of now-defunct →
I
countries, I savoured names such as Tashkent and
Ulan Bator, and began learning that staple of the
quiz world: capital cities. Meanwhile, Top Trumps
left me able to reel off recherché facts and figures
about Olympic athletes, second world war aircraft,
footballers of the 70s and diesel locomotives. When
I was recovering in hospital after an emergency
appendectomy, my parents brought me the
Ladybird book on Warwick the King Maker: the
ruthless machinations of the Wars of the Roses,
they figured, would be the perfect postoperative
read. Dad had form in this regard. When I was born,
my mother asked him to bring her something on
the maternity ward. I think she was expecting
Nova magazine, rather than a biography of Stalin. As a sixth-former, I became a contestant on
Blockbusters. My classmate and I won our first
game, but though I completed a gold run, our
reign as champions was brief. Next match we
were out, walking away with £120, an embossed
dictionary, a sweatshirt (never worn), a digital
organiser (never taken out of the box) and a radio
cassette player that survived years of student
accommodation and shared flats, eventually
expiring deep into the 21st century. For the
record, the presenter Bob Holness was an
absolute gent, taking meals with the contestants
and putting them at their ease. Since then, I’ve
worked on seven quiz shows and never come across
another host mixing with contestants off set. We
were also chaperoned by a no-nonsense Scotsman
who, since we were all between 16 and 18, laid
down the law on alcohol and everything else.
When I left university, I wasn’t aware that there
was even such a job as quiz writer. (Frustratingly,
University Challenge was off air for my entire
college career.) But then I saw a job ad in Media
Guardian: the Channel 4 quiz show Fifteen to
One was looking for writers. The first part of the
interview was a 50-question general knowledge
test; no problem there. I’d fantasised about a job
interview that was simply a list of quiz questions
and here it was. The second part was sitting mutely
and politely nodding as the host and producer, the
late William G Stewart, held forth. He emphasised
that this was a serious examination of general
knowledge, not a mere gameshow. Anecdotes from
a long TV career were mixed with a discussion
about the Elgin marbles, which he wanted to see
returned to Greece. The interview took place under
a portrait of his friend, the Carry On star Sid James.
I got the job. The office in Putney, west London,
had the forbidding air of a Victorian schoolroom
rather than a hip production company. The
fledgling internet was mistrusted as a source for
questions and instead we consulted an impressive
in-house library (I don’t expect many quizzes now
have a full 20-volume set of the Oxford English
Dictionary). And in other ways, too, it felt like
a show apart. Shortly before I joined, Bill, as we
knew him, had personally sued a former champion
who entered under a false name – to get around
the rules against appearing more than once. Fifteen
to One was Bill’s fiefdom and he was its (usually)
36 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
benign dictator. Long after the series was
cancelled he remained a generous host, keeping
up with former staff at an annual Christmas lunch.
After Fifteen to One, I worked on a short-lived
quiz called Greed, hosted by Jerry Springer.
It was an American format with a top prize of
£1m, the largest ever offered by Channel 5, but
the initial run was only eight episodes – too few
to overcome teething problems and build an
audience (it was Channel 5: nobody watched it).
I joined the BBC as a writer on the Weakest Link.
On that show, certain topics were off limits because
the host Anne Robinson struggled with their
pronunciation. She couldn’t say “apocalypse” at
speed, so there were no questions about the film
Apocalypse Now. She also had a problem with
Greg Rusedski and Antarctica, although we could
use south pole instead. Furthermore. For ease of
reading. The questions had to be written. In an
odd chopped-up style. Which. Once mastered.
Was difficult to stop using. At other times. After so many years working on them, do I have
a theory as to why people love quizzes so much?
Partly I think it’s an opportunity to show off,
a form of intellectual one-upmanship. It can be
argued, of course, that it’s just a test of memory,
the ability to recall facts; mere trivia, and
nothing to do with intelligence. But watching the
bespectacled gladiators of general knowledge on
TV has a surprisingly enduring appeal. Big cash
prizes raise the stakes, notably in the case of Who
Wants To Be A Millionaire. Even when nothing
more than prestige is up for grabs, it can be
irresistibly compelling: Mastermind created a folk
hero when taxi driver Fred Housego won in 1980,
answering questions on the Tower of London; the
final was watched by 18 million people.
Doing this professionally means I tend to see life
through a quiz-tinted lens. Can I get a nice question
out of this or that fact? Mentally or literally, I’m
always noting down nuggets of information – from
books, newspapers, conversations, documentaries
or the rabbit hole of the internet. Wikipedia may
I’d fantasised
about a job
interview that
was simply
a list of quiz
questions and
here it was
be prone to errors and mischievous editing, but it
is a wonderful jumping-off point for ideas; what
printed encyclopedia would contain the rules of
Deal Or No Deal, or explain the conventions of
WWE wrestling?
The quiz writer is a magpie by nature,
a collector of facts and curiosities. I’m no expert
on the composer Delius, but I do know that as
a young man he spent time in Florida growing
oranges. Doubtless this has no relevance to
his music, but it’s the odd details that tend to
linger in the memory. Visiting the Indira Gandhi
memorial museum in Delhi, I was struck by the
fact that she was assassinated while on her way to
be interviewed by Peter Ustinov.
EM Forster’s epigraph to Howards End inspired
the title of the cult BBC quiz Only Connect – but
what I mainly recall from the novel is Leonard
Bast’s bleakly ironic death; the frustrated literary
man crushed by a bookcase. When the Stones’
guitarist Keith Richards hurt himself falling from
a library ladder, I saw the kernel of a neat “what
links” question. A favourite source is the Oxford
Dictionary of National Biography, a work that
manages to be both authoritative and addictively
readable. Answer this: who is listed as “publisher
and swindler”? “Art historian and spy”? “Jacobite
heroine”? Congratulations if you said Robert
Maxwell, Anthony Blunt and Flora MacDonald.
In what other reference work would Ethelred the
Unready rub shoulders with Jade Goody?
The best questions, especially for TV, have the
“I should have known that” factor. They might
appear tricky or obscure, but the answer has
a familiar ring. Writing very difficult questions
is all too easy, but they don’t make for an
entertaining quiz. Ideally, questions should
reward lateral thinking. For example, who said
in a 2016 interview that, in his new job, he’d
like “a nice corner office or at least an office that
has corners in it”? It was Barack Obama, shortly
before coming to the end of his eight years in the
Oval-shaped Office.
An interest in eastern European languages
isn’t much use in quiz writing, but it led to one
of my favourite questions: which letter worth
10 points in the English version of Scrabble is
worth only one in the Polish edition? It’s Z. And
for a cricketers’ special of the Weakest Link,
commissioned after the 2005 Ashes triumph,
I was able to go full-on nerd: which Sri Lankan
cricketer has longer initials than his surname?
The former bowler WPUJC Vaas. Multiple-choice
questions allow contestants to take an educated
guess (or just guess) and, depending on the tone
of the show, a comedy option will raise a laugh.
When the innocuous-looking question, “In what
sport does Fanny Chmelar [pronounced Shmeller]
compete for Germany?” was asked on ITV’s the
Chase in 2011, presenter Bradley Walsh’s fits of
giggles went viral. That single question helped
establish the show as a ratings winner. How are quiz shows put together? On most,
a team of writers will work on a bespoke database.
9
13
Pit your wits against
Thomas Eaton in his
special festive quiz*
1 Which seasonal figure was
murdered by his brother, Boleslaus
the Cruel?
2 Why does a Welsh
hamlet in the
Tywi Valley get
extra post at this
time of year?
3 A Brit award
winner in 2017,
which singer’s stage
name was inspired
by watching Steptoe
and Son?
4 Why was “covfefe” in the news
in May?
5 What festive item was first
recorded in Britain on Cornhill
in 1444?
6 Whose six wickets won
England the Women’s Cricket
World Cup in July?
7 Settled this year, what
did the legal case Naruto vs
David Slater involve?
8 What first hosted its annual
Christmas lectures in 1825?
What links:
9 All these people (above left and
above right)?
10 Churchill; Winter; Enable; Wings
of Eagles; Capri?
11 Golden Slumbers; One Day I’ll
Fly Away; Half The World Away;
Real Love?
12 Viscum album; ilex aquifolium;
hedera helix?
13 The people, place and animal
pictured left?
14 William I (by Ealdred of York)
and the Emperor Charlemagne
(by Pope Leo III)?
15 Lifting device; green tea;
greylag; Antonio Banderas;
four-time Lord Mayor;
New Order bassist?
GETTY (7); REX/SHUTTERSTOCK (2); PA
* Solutions below (no cheating!).
Thomas’s regular quiz is on page 69
1 Good King Wenceslas. 2 Bethlehem postmark.
3 Rag’n’Bone Man. 4 Donald Trump tweet. 5 Christmass
tree. 6 Anya Shrubsole. 7 Selfie taken by macaque
monkey. 8 Royal Institution. 9 Isaac Newton; Cab
Calloway; Sissy Spacek; Dido; Justin Trudeau, all born
n
on Christmas Day. 10 Winners of Classics in 2017:
2,000 and 1,000 Guineas; Oaks; Derby; St Leger.
11 John Lewis Christmas ad songs 2017-14. 12 Seasonal
al
plants: mistletoe; holly; ivy. 13 In 12 Days of Christmass
song: Lord’s cricket ground; drummer Ringo Starr;
Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan; turtle; Billie Piper; Steve
ve
Coogan as Alan Partridge. 14 Crowned on Christmas
Day: London, 1066; Rome, 800. 15 Panto characters:
Jack; (Widow) Twankey; (Mother) goose; Puss in Bootss
(voiced); Dick Whittington; (Peter) Hook.
They submit questions, backed up by a couple of
reputable sources, having first checked they’re not
repeats. Long-running shows are especially hard
to write for, as every conceivable question seems
to have been asked. This was certainly the case
on the Weakest Link and the Chase, where I now
work. Question writers have to get creative and
think of new ways to ask old questions. It’s now
standard practice for questions to be sent out
to external verifiers for double-checking, giving
producers a fig leaf if a mistake slips through.
Outright howlers are mercifully rare. What’s
more common is problems with alternative
acceptable answers. It may seem straightforward to
ask which Italian composer wrote the opera Otello.
Verdi, right? Well, his is the more famous, but
Rossini also wrote one. In the studio, a contestant
once (correctly) guessed “Custer’s last stand” when
“the Battle of the Little Bighorn” was the expected
correct answer. (The question: at what battle on
25 June 1876 did a Native American force defeat
the US 7th Cavalry Regiment?) This is the moment
when there’s a sharp intake of breath and heads
turn towards the question writer (a member of
the questions team sits in the gallery, just in case).
It’s also increasingly common for quizzes to have
an adjudicator at recordings, who can act as an
intermediary in the event of a dispute.
The Guardian quiz is a different animal. For
a long time, it was written by legal commentator
Marcel Berlins; when he took a few months’ break
in 2002, I was asked to fill the gap. Eventually
this absence became permanent and I have been
devising the weekly quiz ever since. Almost.
At one point it fell victim to a redesign and was
dropped, which prompted a reader to send in
a question of her own: what links the crew of the
Mary Celeste; Benjamin Bathurst; the Guardian
Weekend quiz? Answer: all disappeared without
explanation. It was restored the following week.
The magazine quiz is a world away from the TV
shows. The questions are down in black and white,
to be considered at one’s leisure, with none of
the time pressure (or the cash prizes: sorry). And,
naturally, Guardian readers are a formidable bunch.
I receive occasional complaints that it’s too difficult
and am told, very rarely, that it’s getting too
easy. Any factual errors are politely drawn to my
attention. Usually, this happens when I stray too
far from my comfort zone, like the time I muddled
Transformers, Decepticons and Autobots. As
a subeditor reminded me, “That’s what happens
when you try and get down with the kids.” But mostly people seem to relish the challenge.
The quiz has featured at a reader’s wedding and
has even been turned into performance art: as
part of Antony Gormley’s One and Other project
in 2009, a man called John Major (not that one)
read the Weekend questions from the vacant
fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square. And even now,
after writing quizzes for almost 20 years, it rarely
feels like work. I’m still waiting to be tapped on
the shoulder, told that the dilettante life is over
and it’s time to get a proper job •
The G
Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 37
9
Weekending
fashion beauty
food mind
space gardens
puzzles
SARAH LEE, SOPHIA EVANS, BOTH FOR THE GUARDIAN
Blind date Harry, 21, journalist, and Ivan, 24, activist and writer
Harry (on left) on Ivan
Ivan on Harry
What were you hoping for?
Good conversation and
someone who knows what
they want in life.
First impressions?
I thought he may be slightly
geeky, which is perfect for me.
What did you talk about?
We put the world to rights,
from the transphobic,
rightwing press to how fickle
our generation is on social
media. And my magazine and
his novel.
Any awkward moments?
I guess when he ordered six
desserts. But I’m very glad
he did, because I ate almost
all of them.
Good table manners?
Yeah, he didn’t stop for air
while he was talking, so the
meal took three hours to eat.
Best thing about Ivan?
He is driven and wants to help
change society for the better.
Would you introduce him to
your friends?
I’m sure they’d all get on.
Describe him in three words
Passionate, driven, complex.
What do you think he made
of you?
He may have liked me, but
I don’t want to say point blank
yes in case he gives me 2/10.
Did you go on somewhere?
We got the same tube home.
And... did you kiss?
I try not to after six desserts.
If you could change one
thing about the evening,
what would it be?
I’d have liked another drink
because we weren’t done
putting the world to rights.
Marks out of 10?
7.
Would you meet again?
Yes, we’d be good friends.
What were you hoping for?
Not much, because you never
know how blind dates will go.
First impressions?
He seemed like a nice guy.
What did you talk about?
Writing, the media, the LGBTQ
community, among many
other things.
Any awkward moments?
No.
Good table manners?
Yes.
Best thing about Harry?
He’s easy to talk to.
Would you introduce him
to your friends?
Maybe.
Describe him in three words
Friendly. Chill. Shy.
What do you think he made
of you?
Maybe that I’m nice and
interesting.
Did you go on somewhere?
We took a walk to the tube
together.
And... did you kiss?
No.
If you could change one thing
about the evening, what
would it be?
I’m not sure.
Marks out of 10?
7.
Would you meet again?
Maybe.
Any awkward
moments?
When he ordered
six desserts
You never
know how
a blind date
will go
Harry and Ivan ate at
Flavour Bastard, London W1,
flavourbastard.com.
Fancy a blind date? Email
blind.date@theguardian.com.
If you’re looking to meet
someone like-minded, visit
soulmates.theguardian.com
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 39
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W eke
We
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23 D
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2017
017
17 41
Fashion
What I wore
this week
’Tis the season to wear all red. By Jess Cartner-Morley
The Measure
Going up
R
42 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
PHOTOGRAPH: DAVID NEWBY. STYLING: MELANIE WILKINSON. HAIR AND MAKEUP: SAMANTHA COOPER AT CAROL HAYES MANAGEMENT
Charles Jeffrey Not only a fashion
designer and club promoter; he’s an
artist, too. See his exhibition at the
Now gallery in London.
Anastasia Not the singer, but the
Kardashian’s brow expert, recently
dubbed the Lazarus of eyebrows for
her ability to bring a dead brow to life.
Bears The new bees. See Ralph
Lauren’s Polo bear and the Penfield
bear. Hibernation is not an option.
Girl power The Spice Girls
references are coming thick and fast,
thanks to young people discovering
them on Tumblr. See the return of
Buffalo London for evidence.
Wearing pyjamas all day The best
thing about Christmas. Make them
nice, though: a cheery print brings a
bit of glamour to the 11am kir royale.
Malia Obama’s padded coat
Specifically, the way she wears it:
off-shoulder, à la Balenciaga.
Going down
1
2
3
4
Jess’s four best
1 Zip jumper, £129, whistles.com
2 Dress, £139, hobbs.co.uk
3 Pearl shoulder top, £25.99, zara.com
4 Velvet skirt, £59, stories.com
Jess wears shirt, £39, topshop.com. Skirt, £390, by
JW Anderson, from matchesfashion.com. Sandals,
£188, intropia.com.
Gorpcore Fleeces are fashionable,
but washing them is 16 times more
damaging to the ocean than using
microbeads. Goes against the
outdoorsy vibe, doesn’t it?
Drip’n’chill The annual vogue for
having an IV drip, then chilling out,
h
iin order to survive party season.
JJust have a bath and an early night.
Samantha Jones We’re all about
S
Charlotte Goldenblatt – rechristened
C
Charlotte Wokenblatt by genius
C
IInsta account everyoutfitonsatc.
Digisexuals People who get their
D
kicks through computers only. Ugh.
k
The jumper around your waist The
T
beta way to tie your clothes. Instead,
b
go crossbody. Tie your jumper over
g
tthe shoulder in a sideways loop.
NOW GALLERY IN GREENWICH PENINSULA; GETTY IMAGES (2); CHANNEL 4; REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
idiculous at my age that I still can’t
get enough of Christmas. Every year
I’m here with my bowl of Christmas
pudding and I know I should shout
“when” to signal no more brandy cream but…
I just never do say when. I say bring it on, instead.
I cry at the adverts, including (furtively) at
the really rubbish ones when everyone else is
eyerolling. I put Mariah on my running playlist
from the first of December without fail. (Sounds
weird but trust me, totally works.) I never visit
fewer than two grottos. I go into John Lewis for
some ribbed tights, make a sneaky detour to the
Christmas shop (just to have a look) and before
I know it have broken my solemn promise not to
buy any more tree decorations this year. They had
fluffy owls! And tiny wooden cabins! What was
I supposed to do?
I would be well up for believing in Father
Christmas, if it weren’t for the fact that I foresee
some issues over workstream that could result
in crucial targets not getting hit on the morning
of the 25th. So I will content myself with making
sure that “he” gets a mince pie and a largish
whisky, which – I imagine – helps the Sellotape
marathon go with a bang.
Also, this year, I get to dress a bit like him,
because top-to-toe red is currently a power
wardrobe move. There is nothing particularly
original about crimson having a fashion moment
in winter. But what was different on this season’s
catwalks, and has filtered down to the high street
and into the combinations we pull from our own
wardrobes, was what to wear with your crimson
sweater or skirt. Not urban and fiery with black,
not holly-berries-in-the-snow with ivory, not
subtle and tonal with tan or cream. This season,
red goes with red.
If you have a red skirt and a red sweater, wear
them together. Don’t worry about whether the
shades are the same; it’s better, really, if they
are not. Burgundy and flame orange is fine, as
is brick with traffic-light red. And don’t stop at
two elements, if you’ve got more to hand. A red
coat is the perfect finishing touch. The effect of
red-on-red is less harsh than you would think.
The mix of shades mellows the effect, rather than
sharpening it.
There is no such thing as too much red. Not this
weekend, anyway.
@JessC_M
Fashion
The edit
A party dress or trouser
suit will benefit from
a pair of jazzy earrings:
think fun and colourful
Ring the changes with a new pair of earrings
2
1
3
4
5
STYLING: MELANIE WILKINSON; GETTY IMAGES
9
10
7
8
6
1 Grey and orange drop earrings, £18, oliverbonas.com. 2 Editor’s pick: give your winter slouchy tailoring a minimalist touch with these layered hoops. Still
a statement, but a subtle one Black layered hoops, £17, cosstores.com. 3 Floral drop earrings, £12.50, marksandspencer.com. 4 Orange fans, £8, riverisland.
com. 5 Petal drop earrings, £14.50, topshop.com. 6 Tubular drop earrings, £23, stories.com. 7 Gold earrings, £155, by Alighieri, from net-a-porter.com.
8 Pompom bead earrings, £12.99, mango.com. 9 Green resin earrings, £30, jigsaw-online.com. 10 Editor’s pick: these starry chandeliers are perfect for
Christmas, but will see you into next season, too. Wear with a silk blouse Falling star earrings, £58, jcrew.com.
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 43
Beauty
Sali
Hughes
Left perfume shopping to the last minute? Don’t worry
e’re now at the last-chance saloon
stage of gift-buying, when so many
of the men in my life reluctantly and
needlessly visit the shops at the most
dizzying time imaginable. Perfume may seem
a route-one choice, but it’s entirely possible to
dash in and out of your local Boots or John Lewis,
for a high-quality, mass-market scent that seems
more thoughtfully chosen than it perhaps is.
Gucci Bloom (£52), for example, while not
entirely my bag, is a solid and impressive choice
if your loved one enjoys the hugely popular
Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb or Chanel’s recently
launched Gabrielle. Floral fans will love this
elegant, long-lasting, soft white floral with
rounded edges and a beautiful bottle. More my
poison is Les Infusions de Prada Amande (£79.90
for a huge bottle), a soft, mellow, cosying scent
that almost smells like pudding, but mercifully,
stops a fraction before it gets there.
Another fragrance that unfailingly puts a smile
on my face is Hermès Eau de Mandarine Ambrée
(£65.45), which somehow smells potently of
freshly zested mandarin oranges without being
spiky and acidic (particularly an hour after
spritzing), and of warm amber without the
PORTRAIT: ALEX LAKE FOR THE GUARDIAN. MAKEUP: LAUREN OAKEY. HAIR: ELLA BASHFORD AT BADU
W
1
2
Try these
1 Les Infusions de Prada
rada Amande,
£79.90, johnlewis.com
om
2 Clarins Eau Dynamisante
misante, £30,
johnlewis.com
3 Gucci Bloom, £52, boots.com
3
cloying heat characteristic of the ingredient.
It’s both instantly uplifting and bright and, later,
almost snuggly and wintry, making it ideal for
those who like a year-round signature scent.
I was hugely sceptical about Chanel’s modern
take on No5 (I’m generally unkeen on franchises
of a classic, much as I’m unkeen on flavoured
Bailey’s – why tamper with perfection?), L’Eau No5
(£52), but I can see why the original is too blowsy
and strong for some. This is a much lighter, less
risky perfume to offer as a gift, and lasts much
longer than one might expect at first sniff. It also
layers well with the original, and is arguably a more
appropriate daytime choice for those who prefer
not to leave a cloud of perfume in their wake.
Finally, Clarins Eau Dynamisante (£30) is
an overlooked classic. It’s an extremely fresh,
gender-neutral scent that, despite its affordability
and ubiquity in department stores and chemists
worldwide, somehow still causes people to stop
and ask what I’m wearing. Always polite and
wearable, it deserves far more praise than it
gets and is often just the thing for those who
think perfume is intrinsically heady, sweet and
obtrusive. Go on, convert them.
@salihughes
The beauty roadtest
Winter scented candles
By Weekend’s All Ages model
David Yang
Having recently moved to New York
for work for a few months, I find
any quick fix that will cheer up my
temporary apartment and make it
more homely very welcome indeed.
Plus, it is a well-known fact that
a scented candle is the answer to
all your holiday-season woes:
perfect for relaxing, escaping,
gifting and re-gifting.
The White Company’s Signature
Winter Candle (£20) has notes of
cinnamon, clove and citrus, which
instantly bring to mind reruns of
Home Alone and boozy family
dinners. Variations on this blend
are a dime a dozen at this time of
year, sure, but this one is well
balanced and really fills a room.
The warm, intoxicating and
addictive Diptyque Feu de Bois
candle (from £26), meanwhile,
transforms your living room into
a cosy log cabin deep in the woods.
Muji’s Feu de Bois candle (£4.95),
on the other hand, is a much
subtler affair – and at a fraction
of the cost: lacking the potency
and intensity of Diptyque’s more
pronounced offering, this little
brother is like the secondhand
smoke drifting over from the cabin
next door.
I have never been one to
underestimate the power of scent
and its nostalgic sensibilities,
but Jo Malone’s English Oak &
Redcurrant candle (£45) really did
catch me off guard: musky, rosy,
bright with redcurrant and
mandarin, and hearty with roasted
oak, this candle captures the
crispness of winter mornings. This
is the one I’ll be lighting until I fly
home for Christmas.
Next week: All Ages model Leah
Alexxanderr-Caine on curl creams
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 45
Food
Make it easy on yourself
We all need dishes that can be thrown together over the
Christmas holidays. Photographs: Louise Hagger
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To serve, lay the aubergine slices
on a platter, overlapping them
slightly. Spoon the yoghurt sauce
over the top, then scatter on the
fried onion mix. Sprinkle over the
cumin seeds, coriander seeds,
pomegranate seeds and lime zest,
and serve.
H
Roast aubergine with curried
yoghurt, caramelised onions
and pomegranate
A breath of fresh air for tired, jaded
tastebuds. Serves four, generously.
3 large (or 4 regular) aubergines
100ml groundnut oil
200g Greek-style yoghurt
2 tsp medium curry powder
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 lime – finely grate the zest to get
1 tsp and juice to get 2 tsp
Salt and black pepper
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
30g flaked almonds
½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and
lightly crushed ½ tsp coriander seeds, toasted and
lightly crushed 40g pomegranate seeds
Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas
mark 7. Use a vegetable peeler
to shave strips of skin off the
aubergines from top to bottom,
Gem lettuce with anchovy
mayonnaise
This take on the caesar salad was
inspired by a meal I had earlier this
year at Olympia Provisions in
Portland, Oregon. With some good
crusty bread, it makes a lovely light
lunch in its own right, but it’s also
fabulous alongside grilled tuna steak
or leftover Christmas turkey. Serves
four as a light main course or six as
a side dish.
the lettuce cut side up on a large
plate, then spoon the mayo on top.
Sprinkle on first the remaining
tarragon, then the olives and red
onion slices. Tear open the eggs, put
them on top of the lettuce, sprinkle
with a pinch of salt and serve.
Rice, yoghurt and cheese fritters
Yotam Ottolenghi
so they end up with alternating
stripes of dark purple skin and clear
white flesh. Cut the aubergines
widthways into 2cm-thick rounds
and put in a large bowl. Add 70ml
oil, half a teaspoon of salt and plenty
of pepper, then spread out on a large
oven tray lined with baking paper.
Roast for 40-45 minutes, until dark
golden brown, then remove and
leave to cool.
In a small bowl, mix the yoghurt
with a teaspoon of curry powder,
the turmeric, lime juice, a generous
pinch of salt and a good grind of
pepper, then put it in the fridge
until later.
Heat the remaining two
tablespoons of oil in a large frying
pan on a medium-high flame.
Once hot, fry the onion for eight
minutes, stirring frequently, until
soft and dark golden brown. Add
the remaining teaspoon of curry
powder, the almonds and a pinch
of salt, and fry for two minutes, until
the almonds are lightly browned.
6 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and
finely chopped
4 large eggs, plus one yolk extra
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
¼ tsp dijon mustard
4 tsp lemon juice
75ml sunflower oil
450g little gem lettuce (ie, about 4
large heads), trimmed and quartered
2½ tbsp olive oil
5g tarragon leaves
Salt
50g pitted Kalamata olives, torn in half
¼ red onion, peeled and very thinly
sliced (30g net weight)
Put half the anchovies in the small
bowl of a food processor, add the
egg yolk, garlic, mustard and two
teaspoons of lemon juice, and blitz
to a smooth paste. With the motor
still running, very slowly add the
sunflower oil in a thin stream, until
the mixture emulsifies and comes
together into a thick mayonnaise.
Thin with a tablespoon or two of
water and pulse until the
mayonnaise is pourable. Stir in the
remaining anchovies and set aside.
Half-fill a small saucepan with
water and bring to a boil. Turn down
the heat to medium-high, gently
lower in the eggs, boil for six
minutes, then drain. Put the eggs
under cold running water for a few
minutes, to stop them cooking any
more, then peel.
In a large bowl, mix the lettuce
quarters with the olive oil, the
remaining two teaspoons of lemon
juice, half the tarragon and a
quarter-teaspoon of salt. Arrange
If you’ve made more rice than you
need, as I so often do, this is a great
way to use it up. That said, these
fritters are so good, they’re worth
making from scratch, too. If you do
so, you’ll need to start by cooking
150g uncooked rice. Serve with a
simple salad as a snack or first
course. Makes 12 fritters, to serve
four to six.
400g cooked basmati rice, at room
temperature
100g Greek-style yoghurt
2 eggs, lightly whisked
2 tbsp rice flour (such as Doves, not the
glutinous Asian variety)
80g mozzarella, roughly grated
60g gruyere, roughly grated
15g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
10g tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
1 lemon – zest finely grated, then cut
into wedges to serve
Salt and black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
Put the rice in a large bowl with the
yoghurt, eggs, rice flour, cheeses,
herbs, lemon zest, three-quarters
of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of
pepper, then mix until you have a
thick, well-combined batter.
Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a
large frying pan on a medium-high
flame. Once hot, add four 65g dollops
of the batter mixture (ie, about three
heaped tablespoons each), pressing
the fritters down slightly with a
spatula until they’re about 8cm wide
and 2cm thick. Fry for four to five
minutes in total, carefully turning
them halfway, until golden brown→
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 47
FOOD STYLING: EMILY KYDD. PROP STYLING: JENNIFER KAY
alf the challenge at this
time of year is to plan
what you’re going to eat
on Christmas Day and
to stick to it, so the last thing you
need from me is more ideas about
what to cook. Sure, every year
there are recipes that claim to be
the ultimate and only way to cook
a carrot, potato or turkey, but the
menu you devised way before 2017’s
avalanche of Christmas advice even
started will in all likelihood still be
more delicious. So, no festive recipes this week.
Instead I offer meals to provide
light and easy relief from the main
event. These are dishes you may
well be able to put together largely
from what you’ve already got in the
cupboard or fridge; though quick to
make, they are confident enough to
hold their own against the bird and
all the rest. Not only that, but they
are as good as light standalone
meals as they are as support
acts for the Christmas leftovers:
pair the little gem and anchovy
mayonnaise salad with cold roast
turkey or chicken, for example,
and you might just wish you’d
put the two together for the
main event itself. And if that gives
you one more idea of what
you could make on Monday,
I’m (sort of, but not really) sorry.
Happy Christmas!
oil, lemon zest, garlic, a quarterteaspoon of salt and a good grind
of pepper, then transfer two
tablespoons to a second bowl.
Put the cabbage wedges in a large
bowl and season with an eighth of
a teaspoon of salt. Pour the larger
portion of oil mixture over the
cabbage and toss to coat. Arrange
the cabbage on two oven trays lined
with baking paper, and roast for
20-25 minutes, until the edges are
crisp and golden brown (swap the
trays around halfway through, so
both get time near the higher heat
at the top of the oven). Transfer the
cabbage to a platter, then leave to
rest and cool for five to 10 minutes.
Mix the lemon juice into the
remaining oil mixture, then drizzle
evenly over the cabbage wedges.
Scatter the tarragon and pecorino
on top, finish with a good grind of
black pepper and serve •
and crisp on both sides. Repeat with
the remaining batter and serve hot –
you want the mozzarella to be stringy
when you cut open the fritters –
with a squeeze of lemon to finish. Roast cabbage with tarragon
and pecorino
Serve this at room temperature, so
the pecorino keeps its texture and
flavour. It’s lovely as a side for roast
chicken or sausages, or with a
selection of cooked veg. Serves four.
120ml olive oil
2 lemons – finely grate the zest, to get
2 tbsp, then juice, to get 2 tbsp
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Salt and black pepper
2 sweetheart cabbages (aka pointed
cabbage), outer leaves discarded, then
cut lengthways into eight wedges each
10g tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
30g pecorino shavings (use a
vegetable peeler)
@ottolenghi
Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of
Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.
Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas
mark 7. In a small bowl, whisk the
Drink Fiona Beckett on last-minute Christmas booze shopping
3 Frangipane mince pies
Serve
Se
e with
2 Glazed ham
DAN MATTHEWS FOR THE GUARDIAN
T
(£7.99; 12% abv), a smooth Italian
white, is always a reliable favourite,
as is the latest (2017) vintage of the
Exquisite Collection Clare Valley
Riesling (£6.99; 12.5% abv), which
would be good with any spicy riff
on turkey leftovers. The Exquisite
Collection Ribera del Duero 2016
(£6.29; 13% abv) is an equally
foolproof red, but I’m not sure I’d go
for the 40-year-old tawny port Aldi’s
been touting, the problem being
that after this period of time, it’s
more about the wood than the fruit.
Marks & Spencer is always good
for a gift bottle, and it’s stocking
some pukka rums this year,
1 Christmas canapes
here was a time when
I used to enjoy taking
Christmas food shopping
right to the wire, leaving
everything until Christmas Eve and
seeing what I could pick up on the
day. Maybe it’s a sign of advancing
years, but that now seems an
unnecessary level of stress, so I’m
hoping I’ll be done and dusted by
the time you read this.
Except I know I won’t. However
well organised you are, there is
always something you forget,
whether it’s a present for your
brother-in-law or a bag of ice for
the G&Ts. And it’s sod’s law that
someone in the family will have
already helped themselves to that
special bottle you were saving for
Christmas Day.
If you’ve forgotten the festive
fizz, head for Aldi, which has an
impressive magnum of Champagne
Philizot Premier Cru (12% abv, 1)
for £31.99. (And it’s better than
Lidl’s, FWIW.) While you’re in
there, you might as well load up
with some back-up bottles in case
you run short: the Gavi di Gavi 2016
including a delicious Guyana
10-Year-Old (£26; 40% abv) in
a dinky 20cl bottle. I also like M&S’s
Spiced Christmas Cider, which is
mixed with clementine juice – a
lighter option at 4% abv, and good
value at £2.50 a bottle (2).
If you’re lucky enough to live near
a Booths, it’s selling a strikingly
original Japanese gin from Kyoto
called Ki No Bi (£44.50, also at
Master of Malt for £45.50; 45.7% abv),
which is flavoured with Japanese
botanicals including yuzu and
sansho pepper, and which should
nail it for the gin obsessive who
has everything.
And nothing is more Christmassy
than a bright red bottle of Lazzaroni
Amaretto Autentico (24% abv, 3),
which is made with amaretti di
Saronno biscuits. I’m thinking of its
culinary possibilities as much as its
drinking ones: it would be superb in
an almond cake or some frangipane
mince pies, say. You can get it at
Majestic for £21.10 a bottle, or £18.99
on the mix-six deal. It’s definitely
better than cheaper imitations.
@winematcher
The good mixer
Frenchie’s eggnog
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas
without eggnog. Serves five to six.
2 eggs
3 tbsp white caster sugar
60ml cognac (we use Hine)
60ml dark rum (we use Plantation)
30ml Frangelico
30ml walnut liqueur (try Cazottes)
½ tsp grated nutmeg, plus extra to finish
1 pinch ground cinnamon
180ml milk
120ml double cream
Blend the eggs and sugar on low
speed until they start to froth. With
the motor running, add all the booze,
then the spices, milk and, finally, the
cream, and whizz for only a second
or two more, or it’ll split. Put in the
fridge overnight. To serve, pour into
glasses and finish with nutmeg.
Gregory Marchand, Frenchie
Covent Garden, London WC2
The quick dish
Thomasina
Miers
Fish biryani is perfect for Christmas Eve: light, simple to make and comforting
he anticipation of
Christmas Eve, especially
if you have children,
is one of my favourite
things about this time of year. But
it can be exhausting getting to this
point, with so much still to prepare.
Ideally, you’ll have something
sustaining to pull out of the oven
when the children are tucked up in
bed tomorrow night, because you’ll
need all the sustenance you can get
to help you through the last-minute
present wrapping.
We rarely get a white Christmas,
but it’s usually frosty outside, so
instinct demands food that’s
warming and comforting. Fish is an
obvious answer, being both light
(ahead of the day of feasting) and
familiar. Rice, too, because it’s so
forgiving (see also Meera’s vegan
pilau overleaf ). This year, I wanted
a break from our usual kedgeree, so
have been experimenting with new
flavours, inspired by a trip to Kerala a
few years ago. Being so dependent
on fish and vegetables, the cooking
there is remarkably light, yet boldly
flavoured, and one brick-red fish and
coconut curry in particular caught
my attention. This is my version of it:
the spices work together to give soft,
mellow notes and a signature russet
colour that rivals even the most
enthusiastic Father Christmas (who
may well prefer it to mince pies).
Fish biryani
You can prepare everything a day
ahead, then pop it in the oven half
an hour before eating. Serves six.
Juice of ½ lime
½ tsp turmeric
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g skinless, sustainably caught cod
fillet (or other firm white fish)
400g basmati rice, rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
LOUISE HAGGER FOR THE GUARDIAN. FOOD STYLING: EMILY KYDD. PROP STYLING: JENNIFER KAY
T
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
½-thumb-sized piece fresh ginger,
peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
400g fresh plum tomatoes
1 green chilli, deseeded
¼ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp freshly ground coriander seed
¼ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
400ml coconut milk
Coriander and mint leaves, to serve
In a bowl, mix the lime juice,
turmeric and half a teaspoon of salt,
smear this all over the fish and leave
to marinate for 30 minutes. After
that, wash off the marinade and
store the fish in the fridge.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C/
350F/gas mark 4. Put the rice, bay
and cinnamon in a pan with a pinch
of salt, cover with boiling water and
boil for four minutes, until al dente.
Drain, return to the pan, cover and
leave to steam while you get on with
the next stage.
Warm the oil in a large pan on
a low heat and start frying the
onions, stirring occasionally. With
the onions on the go, put the ginger,
garlic, tomatoes and chilli in a food
processor and blitz until finely
chopped. Once the onions have
been frying for five to eight minutes
and have softened nicely, turn up
the heat to medium-high and add
the mustard and cumin seeds. When
the mustard seeds begin to pop, add
the ginger and garlic mix, and fry
until lightly coloured. Add the
coriander, chilli powder and garam
masala, stir-fry for a minute, then
add the coconut milk. Once the mix
is simmering, add the rinsed fish
to the pot, making sure it’s just
submerged, and cook gently for five
minutes. Once the fish is just cooked
through, take the pan off the heat.
Spread half the fish and its sauce in
a deep baking dish, and spoon half
the rice on top. Repeat the layers,
then cover with foil. Bake for 20
minutes, until heated through, then
leave to cool and rest for 10 minutes.
Serve scattered with torn mint and
coriander, and with raita and
chutneys of your choice alongside.
And for the rest of the week…
For seriously good fast food over the
holidays, wrap any excess curry mix
in chapati or naan and top with
chutney, lettuce, coriander and
raita. Make double the curry base for
the turkey leftovers: that would be
sensational with coconut rice, and
greens cooked with mustard seeds
and curry leaves. Happy Christmas!
@thomasinamiers
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 51
The new
vegan
Meera
very Indian auntie has
a special pilau recipe
that finds its way on
to the table at birthdays,
parties and New Year, and it is
often the subject of hushed-toned
debate in kitchens and Hindu
temples alike. “I think Asha uses
MSG in hers,” I once heard one
auntie whisper.
Now, pilau might sound
humdrum, seeing as we Indians
eat rice every day, but with a little
elaboration and extra effort, it
becomes one of the most
celebratory dishes a person could
eat. Layer upon layer of unbridled
joy: each grain of rice is rich,
plump and flavourful; morsels of
burnished vegetables lie beneath,
ready to be unearthed; and bright,
tannic bursts of pomegranate and
tongue-searing chillies slice through
the comfort blanket.
Of course, it isn’t just about the
flavour, but the ritual, too. Pilaus
have been at the heart of our family
celebrations from when I could barely
see over the kitchen table and they
have earned their place in tradition
as a familiar friend.
I am now an auntie myself, and this
is my special recipe. I’d be thrilled if it
became the topic of conversation in
someone else’s kitchen.
300g basmati
rice
600g cauliflower (ie ½
a big one), broken into bite-sized florets
400g beetroot, peeled and cut in wedges
300g swede (ie ½ a small one), peeled
and cut into 1cm x 3cm slices
Salt
2 ½ tsp garam masala
Rapeseed oil
Salt
400ml tin coconut milk
6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly
chopped
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 green finger chillies
1 tsp turmeric
1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
100g fresh
coriander
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp caster sugar
2 handfuls pomegranate seeds (ie,
from ½ pomegranate), to top
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas
mark 6. Wash the rice until the water
runs clear, then leave to soak in cold
water. Put the cauliflower on a baking
tray in a single layer and put the
swede and beetroot on another
baking sheet in a single layer.
In a small bowl, mix the garam
masala, five tablespoons of rapeseed
oil and three-quarters of a teaspoon
of salt, then drizzle over the veg on
both trays and toss to coat. Roast for
25-30 minutes, until tender and
caramelised in places (the swede and
beetroot may need a little longer).
While the vegetables are cooking,
make the sauce for the rice. Put
three-quarters of the coconut milk
(the remaining 100ml will go in the
chutney) into a blender with the
garlic, ginger, one green chilli,
turmeric and three-quarters of a
teaspoon of salt, then blitz smooth.
In a large frying pan for which
you have a tight-fitting lid, heat two
tablespoons of oil on a medium heat,
then fry the onion for 10-12 minutes,
until soft and golden. Add the
coconut sauce and cook for eight
minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the drained rice with 400ml
freshly boiled water to the pan, and
bring to a boil. Put on the lid, turn
down the heat to a whisper and
leave to cook for 20 minutes, until
the rice is cooked through. Take off
the heat, fold through the roasted
vegetables, pop the lid back on and
leave to steam for 10 minutes.
While the rice is steaming, make
the chutney. Rinse the blender and
add the remaining coconut milk, the
coriander (reserve a small handful to
garnish the dish later), a green chilli,
the lemon juice, sugar and half
a teaspoon of salt. Blend smooth,
then scrape into a serving bowl.
Transfer the rice to a platter,
sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds
and reserved coriander, and serve
with the bowl of chutney alongside.
@meerasodha
separatist flags). 8 The Execution of
Emperor Maximilian. 9 X: Malcolm
X; Public Enemy’s Terminator
X; Singer Sargent’s Madame X.
10 Played M in Bond films. 11 Songs
about Chicago: Elvis; Kanye West;
Sinatra; Sufjan Stevens. 12 Animal
misnomers: beetle, not a fly;
marsupial, not a bear; lizard, not
a worm; lizard, too; an echinoderm,
not a fish. 13 Rivers on the Isle of
Man. 14 Designed by Frank Gehry.
15 Succeeded by Sandi Toksvig:
the News Quiz; Fifteen To One; the
Great British Bake Off; QI.
Crossword See right.
B
Z
S I M O N
F
N
T I M E
D
V A N E S
I
S P I N A
A
S
S C O T T
M
E
H A W I C
N
N
E
Festive pilau with beetroot,
cauliflower and coriander chutney
This needs only some oil-dressed
leaves (watercress, say) to become
a complete meal. Serves four.
Solutions
Quiz 1 Claude Lévi-Strauss.
2 Chandrasekhar. 3 Atoll. 4 Wall
Street (sculptures). 5 Cycling.
6 Wishbone. 7 Catalonia (official/
52 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
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O
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S A
P O
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P
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PHOTOGRAPH: LOUISE HAGGER FOR THE GUARDIAN. FOOD STYLING: EMILY KYDD. PROP STYLING: JENNIFER KAY
If you’re still after a celebratory dish for Monday, look no further than a proper pilau
Space
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The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 53
Space
54 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
Restaurants
Felicity
Cloake
‘One whiff of baking bread and I’m out of the pool faster than a greased eel’
ve rarely turned up
anywhere so reluctant to
take the plunge. Winter
has chosen today finally
to get its act in gear, which is poor
timing given that this is probably the
only review I’ll ever do that demands
semi-nudity. Surely no selfrespecting critic visits a swimming
pool cafe without testing the water?
To my considerable relief, though,
this recently restored Edwardian lido
turns out to be more hotel spa than
council leisure centre. Steam drifts
lazily from raised, Italian-tiled baths
(a pleasant 26C, says reception),
where only the odd floating leaf
intrudes from the world outside:
a wooded, rather muddy riverside
plot just off the Reading ring road.
Thames Lido is not busy on my
visit, though several people watch
me like a circus attraction from the
warmth of the cafe area where,
I notice through foggy goggles,
a wood oven glows with the promise
of good things to come. One whiff
of baking bread and I’m out of there
faster than a greased eel.
Apart from the diverting view, and
once I’ve got over the sight of grown
adults tucking into Sunday lunch in
matching bath robes, there’s little to
mark this out as anything other than
a restaurant in its own right. Certainly
there’s not a hot mug of Bovril in
sight on a menu with the same broad
Mediterranean overtones as head
chef Freddy Bird’s much loved work
at The Lido in Bristol, and pleased as
I am to find no mention of small
plates after my exertions, it feels
unfair to have to choose just two
from such a glorious line-up.
Greed leads me in the direction of
a plump, creamy cushion of burrata
topped with satisfyingly bitter cime
di rapa and a salty green olive salsa
studded with oily, crunchy
breadcrumbs: a surprising combo
that proves quietly unimpeachable.
KAREN ROBINSON FOR THE GUARDIAN (2)
I’
My friend’s scallops come with an
unexpectedly delicate sweet herb and
garlic butter, heavier on the tarragon
than the garlic. “Very nice,” she says,
“if not quite what I expected.” The
simplicity of three fat scallops on a
plate is commendable, but if you’re
not going to sully them with bread,
for God’s sake make sure there’s
some on the table to mop up every
last drop of butter. I still feel a bit
weepy when I think about what we
had to send back to the kitchen.
She nabs the main course I had my
eye on – oxtail braised in Pedro
Ximinez with potato puree and
something called heritage kale,
which turns out to be perfect for this
chilly lunchtime: sweet and rich and
gratifyingly sticky – so I settle, with
only the briefest of sulks, for Ibérico
pork collar from the charcoal grill,
served pink with a tangle of wild
mushrooms, onions and sprouting
broccoli. It’s not the prettiest dish I’ve
ever seen, a sludgy symphony of
muddy brown, but the flavours are
beautiful, the blushing pork replete
with nutty fat, the sweetness of the
onion playing off against the fungi
and gravy. Texturally, however, it’s
soft, and tilting dangerously towards
mushy, a problem solved by a side
order of addictively crisp cubes of
fried potato, fiery with raw garlic,
and as obvious in their brazen
golden charms as the pork is subtle.
Ice-cream feels like the right note
to finish on at a good old-fashioned
lido, and they take it appropriately
seriously: there are at least 10
flavours on offer, and my trio arrive,
to my delight, in three separate dinky
little dishes, rather like a flight of
wine – and, at £5.75 a scoop, similarly
priced. They’re miniature works of
art, though: PX and raisin proves a
softer, tangier take on the classic
Thames Lido
Food ★★★★☆
Atmosphere ★★★★
Value for money ★★★★☆
Napier Road, Reading, 0118 207 0640.
Open all week, noon-3pm, 6-10pm.
About £35 a head; three-course set
menu £20, both plus drinks and service
rum-soaked number, while the very
grown-up-tasting chocolate and dark
beer doesn’t shy away from the
natural bitterness of its main
ingredients. Perhaps I have childish
tastes, but the deep, velvety salted
caramel is the one I’d happily swim
another 50 lengths for.
My friend, who’s ended up in
Reading by way of Armagh, insists
on an Irish coffee; off-menu, but
they’re obliging, even apologising
for the lack of Jamesons. “You can
tell a lot about a place with one of
these,” she hisses darkly before
taking a small, suspicious sip. Thank
God it passes muster: “Very smooth.”
By contrast, my rum and lemon
carajillo, the Spanish take on the
boozy coffee, is so pleasantly fiery
that my face is still glowing on the
station platform 20 minutes later.
Not only is Thames Lido hands
down the best swimming pool cafe
I’ve ever had the pleasure of warming
up in, but local intelligence suggests
it’s a strong contender for the best
restaurant in Reading full stop. Dive
in folks, the water’s lovely.
@felicitycloake
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 55
58 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
Glory
days
With a tweak here
and a splash of paint
there, this 1950s home
has been restored to
its mid-century
magnificence, says
Jo Leevers. Pictures
by Rachael Smith
elena Rivera’s south
London home came with
impeccable architectural
credentials. Housed in
the famed mid-century Dulwich
Estate, it was built by Austin Vernon
& Partners as part of a postwar
initiative to provide well-designed,
affordable housing. “When you find
a good piece of 1950s design like
this, you want to take care of it, not
change it,” says Rivera, a Colombianborn architect, who lives here with
her husband Hernando Alvarez, an
editor at BBC World Service, and
their two sons. The pair may not
have wanted to alter or extend their
home, but they could see ways to
improve it.
The first thing they did was
reinstate a window seat in the
living room. Rivera went back to
the original 1959 drawings and
discovered that what had recently
been used as a deep sill for plants was
marked on the plans as a day bed.
“It’s a really sunny spot with a view
of the garden, so it makes sense,”
Rivera says. She had it upholstered in
hot orange wool by Kvadrat.
She also designed a slatted
screen made from sections of
polished black walnut, which
looks every inch an original midcentury feature. It was inspired
by a structure that once flanked
the porch, but had long since
disappeared. A neighbouring house
still had theirs intact, though, which
gave Rivera a starting point. It now
works as a subtle divider between
the hallway and living room. “As you
move further into the seating area,
your angle changes and the panels
H
Homes
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 59
make a more solid screen,” she says.
The house’s original staircase
remains intact; it was built without
risers, to be less obtrusive. Rivera
replaced radiators with heating
embedded in the skirting boards
to free up wall space. The parquet
flooring is also original, with trims
around the edges made from
cork. But the windows have been
replaced: “If I had the money, I’d
reinstall the Crittall windows,
but double-glazed,” she says. The
shelving in the living room is by
Vitsoe. “Because it’s wall hung, you
see more floor space, which makes
the room feel bigger.”
The boldest stamp the couple put
on the house is colour, in the form
of furniture, paintings, and off-beat
finds collected over the years. “I’d
never have a monochrome home,”
Rivera says. An orange painting
by her mother, artist Mariana
Rebolledo, sits above the gas fire,
and a pair of 1950s “Penguin”
armchairs are upholstered in
pale green Arne Jacobsen fabric.
Deocorative objects include metal
bus route signs from a depot in
Bogotá; a set of vintage posters
printed in Stalingrad, discovered
in the loft of their previous home;
and a huge 1909 Stanfords map
of the British Isles that once hung
in Alvarez’s primary school in
Colombia. His brother became a
teacher there and, when the map was
deemed obsolete, he rescued it and
sent it to Alvarez in London.
“It’s made quite a round trip,”
says Rivera, who is equally welltravelled: she has just returned from
Latin America, as she combines
her London practice with working
on the Medellín Urban Innovation,
a project aiming to combat social
inequality through better city
planning. “It’s a good balance – it
keeps things in perspective.” •
asmallstudio.co.uk
60 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
Previous pages: vintage
‘Penguin’ chairs
designed by Theo Ruth
were reupholstered in
Arne Jacobsen fabric.
The painting above
the fireplace is by the
owner’s mother, artist
Mariana Rebolledo
(marianarebolledo.com).
The original staircase was
built without risers, to
be less obtrusive
Top left: a reinstated
window seat and, in the
foreground, a slatted
screen, designed to match
the original. Below:
vintage Ercol chairs
surround a G-Plan table,
with lights by Secto, from
skandium.com. Bottom
left: the vintage map once
hung in owner Hernando
Alvarez’s primary
school in Colombia
Get the look
House rules
Pet interiors hate TVs in social areas;
spotlights
What do you look for in furniture?
Grain, texture, good joints, sharp
detailing and function. A little history is
pretty seductive, too
Most treasured possession
A kitchen cabinet of my grandma’s.
The sound of its drawers brings back
memories of looking for sweets in
her kitchen
Best thing about your neighbourhood
The wildlife: last winter, we watched
a fox train her cubs to hunt in
our garden
House rules The football stays outside
and we all eat together
First piece of furniture you bought
An Ikea bookcase – not a keeper.
Nothing beats Vitsoe; it’s a gem of
a system
One thing you’d change I’d replace the
uPVC windows with Crittall frames, as
originally intended, but I’d cheat and
have them double-glazed
Worst decorating mistake Bad lighting.
There’s no need to flood a room with
60w spotlights, as I did 20 years ago
Biggest extravagance Setting up our
bedroom as a home movie theatre
From top: Octo 4240
pendant lamp in black,
£660, skandium.com.
Maguire solid wood
dining chair, £44.99,
wayfair.co.uk. Farrow
and Ball emulsion paint
in Vardo, £43.50 for
2.5l, farrow-ball.com.
Centauri coffee
table, £94.99,
wayfair.co.uk.
Nordic Light seven arm
foldable candelabra in
white, £110, husandhem.
co.uk. Jonny accent chair
in revival olive, £199,
made.com
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 61
Space
The edit
1
Floor your visitors with one of these statement rugs
2
4
3
7
6
5
8
10
9
1 Editor’s pick: a 90% wool, 10% cotton rug with a touch of Jimi Hendrix Luke Insect rug, 150x200cm, from £420, knotcollective.com. 2 Star-print cotton rug,
90x130cm, £24.99, hm.com. 3 Scandi teardrop rug, 120x180cm, from £315, johnlewis.com. 4 Chevron rug, 120x170cm, from £129, marksandspencer.com.
5 Lintu rug by Scion, 90x150cm, from £175, amara.com. 6 Moorish wool dhurrie by Wallace Sewell, 152x244cm, from £199, westelm.co.uk. 7 Bloomsbury
geometric wool rug, 170x240cm, £495, habitat.co.uk. 8 Alya rug, 160x230cm, £499, made.com. 9 Editor’s pick: add a splash of neon with this cotton rug,
handwoven in southern India Sticks rug, 120x180cm, £150, futureandfound.com. 10 Bantam rug, 120x180cm, from £395, lindseylang.co.uk.
62 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
Gardens
Alys
Fowler
If you like it, put a label on it
What to do this week
HEATHER EDWARDS/GAP; ALAMY
Visit this If you’re looking for
a garden that will put you in the
Christmas spirit, Kew Gardens in
London is putting on a display of
a million lights, including a glowing
sledge tree made from 360 wooden
sledges. Open from 5-10pm, until
1 January, closed Christmas Eve and
Christmas Day; kew.org.
abels matter. Particularly when you
are confronting a tray of compost or
a faint line scratched out in the soil.
You may believe you will remember
what you planted, but you won’t. Or at least
you might at the beginning of the season, or
for the first few trays, but once spring gets a
hold and every week there’s something new to
sow, then one row quickly fades into the next.
Perhaps you think that keeping the packet will
be enough of a reminder, and it may, but I spend
my life flicking off bits of seed packets that have
splattered across my clothes after going through
the wash hidden in pockets. A good durable label
is essential.
Most labels are made from white plastic,
and there’s a reason for this – you can spot
them against the dark soil and they can be
easily read. They may look a bit of an eyesore
if dotted everywhere, however. Black labels
are a good alternative, but you have to use a
special white pen – and this defeats the point.
If you write in pencil (ink often fades in the sun
and gets worn away by soil), you can bury the
label. Bury it behind the back of the plant, so
you’ll always be able to dig around a bit and find
it. Plastic labels are easy to reuse: to clean them,
rub them with wire wool. (This is the perfect
time to do such a job.)
There are numerous alternatives to plastic.
Wooden, slate and metal labels will last for
L
64 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
years. My favourite, because I am old school
and started my gardening career in the labelling
department, is indented metal using character
punches and a jig. Sometimes these pop up on
eBay, or new from Alitag. This is not a cheap
option, but if your true love is a geeky sort of
gardener, then I guarantee that if you splurge on
a set for them, all your Christmas wishes may
come true (you might also find that everything in
your life gets labelled).
Aluminium labels can also be written on using
a pencil – a cheaper option than a jig. These
are treated to make the pencil permanent; it is
possible to use an eraser to rub it off in the first
year, but after that it’s stuck. Again, Alitag is a
good place to get this sort of label. Copper looks
very attractive and you can to write on it using
a ballpoint pen, indenting a permanent record.
The copper eventually weathers to a muted
verdigris. All of these labels are best suited to
permanent plantings, because they are just too
dear for seasonal vegetables and flowers.
That is unless you use tomato paste tube labels.
These are the brainchild of Alison, an inspirational
allotmenteer from the Black Country whom I met
recently and seemingly recycles everything. Cut
off the top and bottom of a tomato paste tube,
then cut down the middle so you can flatten it,
and wash it. Cut it into strips of a desired size
and write on it with a ballpoint pen.
@AlysFowler
Plant this If you’re ruing a lack of
festive vegetation to bring into the
house, put that right for 2018 by
planting a holly: they’re happy in
full sun or partial shade and will
tolerate most soils. If you fear being
spiked as you deck the halls, Ilex
aquifolium ‘J C van Tol’ (below) is
mostly spineless and is self-fertile,
so you don’t have to have another
holly to ensure berries. Super-spiny
cream and dark green I. ‘Ferox
Argentea’ makes a great security
hedge, but doesn’t produce berries.
Check this Need five minutes’ break
from the family? Head into the
garden to check stakes on young
trees – expanding trunks are easily
damaged by overly tight ties. Loosen
any that are rubbing, and while
you’re at it, use sharp secateurs to
prune away any damaged branches.
Jane Perrone
Space
Let’s
move to
GETTY
Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex: a South Downs Malibu
hat’s going for it? I often (OK, not that
often) wonder what Bob Marley made
of Bexhill. Legend has it Marley put
on his first UK gig here in 1972, at a
Bexhill Lions club benefit concert to raise funds
for a local swimming pool. That’s Bexhill for you.
It confounds expectations. It has a reputation
as a gentle resort for retirees. And it is. But
underneath stirs a radical heart. It put on Britain’s
first car race, in 1902, had a socialist mayor in the
1930s and was a glamorous retreat for aristocrats
and stars (Fanny Cradock and Johnnie!). And
on the front sits the gleaming 30s De La Warr
Pavilion (where Marley played), an avant-garde
architectural curveball as unlikely as finding a
Picasso in Nuneaton, and still a pioneer of the
cutting edge. Bexhill’s latest about-turn, from the
fancy look of its latest homes, is to rebrand itself
as a kind of South Downs Malibu. Stranger things
have happened. Usually in Bexhill.
The case against Still mostly a place of model
railway shops and secondhand booksellers (ie my
kinda town), so, apart from its racier moments,
don’t expect Brighton or Gomorrah.
Well connected? Trains: to Brighton (about an
hour) hourly-ish; Hastings (10 mins); Eastbourne
(15-22 mins), Ashford (54 mins); London (just
under two hours). Driving: the evil that is the
A259 passes through, but it is, alas, your only
hope; Hastings 20 mins, Eastbourne 30 mins,
Brighton an hour.
Schools Primaries: All Saints CofE, Glenleigh
Park, St Mary Magdalene Catholic, Chantry
Community, King Offa and Little Common are all
“good”, says Ofsted, with St Peter & St Paul CofE
W
“outstanding”. Secondaries: Bexhill Academy is
“good”, with St Richard’s Catholic “outstanding”.
Hang out at… Heartened to see Di Paolo’s icecream parlour still going strong. Afternoon tea
(or, go on, cocktails) at the Pavilion: hard to beat.
Where to buy The seventh Earl De La Warr
magicked Bexhill from hilltop village to select
resort in the late 19th century, so most of the
town is late Victorian, Edwardian to 1930s. The
old village has pretty cottages and Georgians.
Large detacheds and town houses, £450,000£2m. Detacheds and smaller town houses,
£275,000-£450,000. Semis, £210,000-£400,000.
Terraces and cottages, £175,000-£350,000. Flats,
£90,000-£425,000. Rentals: a one-bed flat, £550£700pcm; a three-bed house, £875-£1,200pcm.
Bargain of the week Delightful four-bed weatherboarded cottage in the Old Town, £335,000,
with freemanforman.co.uk. Tom Dyckhoff
From the streets
Elly Gibson “Warm, friendly people. Lovely
two-mile stretch of coastline with a promenade
perfect for walking and cycling. Close to Hastings,
Rye, Battle and other lovely places.”
Michael Brown “Contrary to popular belief,
Bexhill is not where old people go to retire. That’s
Eastbourne; Bexhill is where their parents live.”
All the places I’ll never live
Coco Khan
I didn’t spend last Christmas Day
with my relatives. A nasty chest
infection had spread through my
family home, and unsure I’d be able
to secure a festive-enough hazmat
suit, we decided to celebrate when
everyone was feeling better.
This meant I woke up on the day
in an empty house, in an empty city.
I went for a walk around a silent,
tracing-paper version of London, the
overwhelming megalopolis muted
and drained of colour. Apart from
the house of Australians next door.
Their place was in full colour, loud
in both the carols blaring through
the windows and the Hawaiian shirtSanta hat combos they wore.
I found a note taped to my door.
It read: “If you’re home, come to
our orphans’ Christmas.” This was
an annual tradition for the Aussies.
Unable to afford the peak-rate airfare
home, they spend Christmas with
each other and other “orphan”
friends. Here, dinner’s whatever
everyone brings, and the wine list
is selected from the back of the
booze cupboard. Cherry B wine and
miniature bottles of tequila? Why not?
But with no public transport
running, the cheer is available only for
those in walking distance. That would
be easier if you lived in the city centre.
Like here, in this soon-to-be two-bed
in the iconic Centre Point building,
advertised on rightmove.co.uk. The
open-plan flat provides plenty of room
for lonely festive wanderers, while
the views could rival any Queen’s
speech. Who needs a fireplace when
you have a sauna?
@cocobyname
Do you live in Louth, Lincolnshire? Do you have
a favourite haunt or a pet hate? If so, please email
lets.move@theguardian.com by Monday 8 January.
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 65
Space
66 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
Body
System
upgrade
PHOTOGRAPH: KELLIE FRENCH; ILLUSTRATION: LO COLE, BOTH FOR THE GUARDIAN
Spin class hurts, says Zoe Williams. But VR spin hurts more
lot of fitness trends start in a spin class.
I don’t know why: maybe because,
once you’re on an exercise bike, you’re
committed on some elemental level
and, however much change they throw at you
(disco lights, nightclub soundtracks, new words)
it would take a lot more to get you off that bike.
Anyway, Les Mills is a fitness-preneur running
“immersive” studios in a few gym chains (I went
to a David Lloyd one). I was looking for virtual
reality spin, having forgotten that I have PTSD
from the last time I tried spinning (it was like
doing national service, with mean yelling and
impossible effort to no purpose, and the minutes
feeling like years).
Times have changed: the room is now pitch
black, and your fellow cyclists are just shapes;
confusing, but communal, like a prison cell full of
rogues in Victorian times. The instructor,
obviously blessed with some kind of night vision,
goes from newcomer to newcomer telling us that,
if we feel sick, we should just look away from the
screen for a moment. I am both taken with and
alienated by her can-do attitude. I prefer the
heavy-machinery approach: if you feel sick, stop
what you’re doing and have a lie-down.
As it starts, sharp little ceiling fairylights and
a concave screen at the front spring into life.
It’s basically a computer game, except with effort:
you’re on a race track, and you adjust the
resistance of your bike to reflect the incline you
see on the screen. There are 10 different “scenes”,
some of them quite bucolic (mountains and stuff )
A
and some quite sci-fi, where spaceships cruise
alongside you. This class, though, is heavily
invested in Route Eight, a mountainous and
dystopian future where harsh computer graphics
give you the sense of cycling through a world that
has ended and been recreated by someone with a
GCSE in computer graphics. It started off grey and
choppy; track two was more golden and discolike; track three was multicoloured; track four
was grey again; and the music was my least
favourite in the fitness canon, a kind of souped-up
jazz-muzak where repetitive beats are meant to
drill past your pain threshold, but there’s no
melody to awaken your joie de mouvement.
Anyway, these are petty cavils, since the main
point is the sense of gradient: the track on the
screen rakes radically upwards, you flick your gears
up to the max, then you slog your way to the top of
that imaginary hill. The cognitive effect is bizarre:
exactly the same quest and reward sequence you’d
get from reaching the top of a real hill, but without
that disheartening inescapability of real life: if it
gets too much, drop your gears down and it makes
no difference because, after all, it’s just a screen.
Incredible, fascinating, exhilarating, exhausting
exercise: the minutes go like seconds. It’s as unlike
regular spin as Grand Theft Auto is unlike Scrabble.
@zoesqwilliams
This week I learned
Even though you feel the pain going slowly in
a stiff gear, you burn more calories going super-fast
in a light one
My life in sex
The hypersexual
monogamist
I think of myself as hypersexual,
or at the very top end of the range in
terms of sex drive. I have been
married for 18 years, and probably
have sex every day; several times
a week, it will be more than that.
I don’t seem to tire of it or get bored.
Sex is endlessly interesting to me,
whether it’s the joy of the quickie
or the sumptuousness of a full
afternoon in the sheets.
But I have only ever been like
this with my husband. I recently
found out I have an attachment
disorder: intimacy has always been
a difficult thing for me, and sex
with previous partners used to
leave me feeling slightly revolted
and sometimes even verging on
panic. I was very good at fending
off attention from potential
partners, and discouraging any
feelings from being born into any
kind of relationship. Most
especially, I was constantly falling
for the “wrong guy” – the one who
was emotionally cold, or distant,
or not available.
It was only when I met my
husband that I realised I could only
be with a partner whom I trusted
absolutely. Casual sex, which our
culture seems to deify, is not for me.
It was my husband who discovered
what I am really like, and who was
delighted to find himself with a wife
who is basically constantly up for it.
Sex is incredibly important
for me – I think of it as a healing
power – and I put it on a pedestal.
But should anything happen to my
marriage – divorce, death or disease
– I doubt I could manage it with
anyone else. In any case, I think
I have already had more than
a lifetime’s worth.
Each week, a reader tells us about
their sex life. Want to share yours?
Email sex@theguardian.com
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 67
Mind
This column
will change
your life
At the end of the day, escape, says Oliver Burkeman
ne of the many baffling aspects of this
baffling year has been the way people
keep recommending cultural
products – films, novels, TV shows –
on the grounds that they’ve got something to say
about “the current climate”. Apparently, after
a busy day in a world defined by Trump, Brexit,
brutal inequality, misogyny and looming
environmental catastrophe, some of you like
nothing better than to relax with a glass of wine
and run through the whole lot again.
Personally, I’m increasingly desperate for works
that have zero resonance with today, which is
why I’ve mainly been reading Victorian mystery
and detective novels. By all means stage your
production of Julius Caesar as a thinly veiled
critique of the president, but don’t expect me to
attend. I can’t have a single exchange over dinner,
or at a coffee shop, without that Coke-slurping
quasi-fascist muppet managing to dominate the
conversation, so there’s no way I’m spending an
evening at the theatre with him as well. I live in
the current climate. So forgive me if 10pm finds me
in the late 19th century, rereading EW Hornung’s
stories of Raffles the gentleman thief.
Escapism gets a bad name in psychology, for
the obvious reason that it involves avoiding
reality – and reality-avoidance, taken to extremes,
is a recipe for a shallow life at best, and some
serious disorders at worst. Yet it hardly follows
that it’s bad in moderation. Humans, wrote
Sigmund Freud, “cannot subsist on the scanty
satisfaction which they can extort from reality”.
ILLUSTRATIONS: MICHELE MARCONI, LO COLE, BOTH FOR THE GUARDIAN
O
68 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
You could go further: it may be that the survival of
democracy depends on not everything we watch,
read and discuss being about the survival of
democracy. “Our social lives are tyrannised by
democracy,” argues the philosopher Robert Talisse,
and “the tyranny of democracy undermines
democracy”. Healthy politics depends on our
sharing a big hinterland of culture and other
activities that aren’t about politics; otherwise, we
come to see our fellow citizens as nothing but
representatives of our tribe or the opposing tribe,
and can’t collaborate in the way democracy
requires. When every movie or novel demands that
you pick a side, it erodes the common ground on
which constructive politics unfolds.
Besides, at least when you’re engaged in pure,
wholehearted escapism, you know you’re doing
it. When I’m reading Victorian thrillers, I’m
consciously taking a break. By contrast, when I’m
gripped by the hour-by-hour soap opera of
Russiagate or Brexit on social media, it feels like
I’m confronting reality, when arguably I’m
practising a covert kind of escapism, ignoring the
e
important stuff for the gossip. In 2018, perhaps we
should aim to spend more time escaping and far
less marinating in politics, precisely so that when
n
we do engage, we make a difference.
If you’d like to feel high-minded about
spending the Christmas break hunkered down
watching Mary Poppins and baking shows, please
se
go ahead. Your escapism isn’t merely excusable;;
you might be helping to save civilisation.
@oliverburkeman
What I’m really thinking
The reluctant guest
So it’s that day again. I guess I will
accept your invitation to spend
Christmas with you, my lovely
daughter, and your family, but, like
last year, I will try to convince you
that I am very happy by myself at
home. I repeat that I won’t be lonely
and 25 December is just like any
other day to me – apart from the
luxury of the fact that the world
seems to pause for a moment.
I know you feel guilty if I am not
there, so I come along reluctantly.
I wish you realised that I find it
a little painful seeing the indulgence
of the children, the number of gifts
that I know will end up discarded
after a few months, while my simple
presents are discreetly put aside.
Somehow I never get it right.
I sit there for what seems like
hours, sipping my mulled wine as all
around get merry. Frankly I would
rather eat, but the Christmas meal is
served at some weird time between
lunch and dinner, by when I have
nibbled so many nuts to stave off
hunger pangs that my pile of roast
potatoes goes unappreciated.
At my age, I feel I have done
Christmas. Nothing will surpass the
excitement on Christmas morning
of one’s own little ones tumbling
into the bedroom with their stuffed
pillowcases, the sweat over the stove,
the craziness of it all. But I would
rather keep those memories tucked
away safely than have to create
new ones.
I am happy you all enjoy the
traditions,
and maybe each year make
tr
new
ne ones. So how about this year that
tradition
is leaving Mum at home,
tr
where
as a treat she can take a ready
w
meal
out of the freezer, sit in front of
m
the
th TV and revel in the fact that today
of all days, the phone won’t ring?
Tell
Te us what you’re really thinking
at mind@theguardian.com
at
Diary
Howard
Jacobson
‘I berated my father for being a soft touch, unless the person soft-touching him was me’
nowed in. Come and get
me. It’s a long time since
I wrote those words, if
I ever did. But I did speak
them in a desperate phone call to my
father – it must have been 50 years
ago – when a blizzard brought my
Austin A40 to a standstill somewhere
near Bolsover in Derbyshire.
Everyone rang my father when they
were in this kind of trouble. He was
known to be a man who would come
out and help you, wherever, and
indeed whoever, you were. I used to
berate him for being a soft touch,
unless the person soft-touching him
happened to be me.
“OK, so where are you?” he asked.
“In a phone box.” “Try to be a bit
S
more specific. Where’s the phone
box?” “Somewhere near Bolsover in
Derbyshire.” “What can you see
from the phone box?” “Snow.”
Such vagueness would have put
off a less indomitable man, but my
father relished a challenge. “Phone
box in Derbyshire, eh? Right. On my
way.” Three hours later, he was with
me, tying a tow rope to my bumper.
If it’s a long time since I’ve written
“snowed in”, it’s just as long since I’ve
written “tow rope”. How the world
has changed. Driving in the 60s meant
cranking, push-starting, towing and
drying the spark plugs with a rag.
It also meant having a father.
Well, he isn’t here to help me
this time. I’m in Burford in the
Cotswolds, a village I’ve often sped
through and thought how lovely it
would be to spend a few days
exploring. A beautifully preserved
medieval street sweeps down from
the High Wolds into a never-never
watermeadow valley of huggermugger dwellings, cottages and inns
and almshouses, now mostly gift
shops – but never mind – made of
buttery Cotswold stone. No two
buildings are the same, yet they are
all somehow of a piece. So
harmonious, those Tudors: it’s hard
to imagine what they found to fight
about. One day, I’ll park the car, buy
a countryman’s walking stick and
lose myself, maybe for ever, in this
loveliest of high streets.
And here’s my chance. I email to
cancel engagements in London. In
Cotswolds, roads impassable, see
you when I see you. People email
enviously back to say how beautiful
Burford must be in the snow. So why
aren’t I out there crunching through
it, marvelling, making snowmen,
enjoying the crystalline light, letting
time slip from me? Because I’m here
under duress. Because admiring the
works of God and man isn’t the
errand I’m on. Strange that it should
be so, but beauty is like love and,
when you haven’t given it permission
to have its way with you, you can’t
enjoy it.
Another time. Meanwhile.
Snowed in. Come and get me.
GETTY IMAGES
Puzzles Crossword by Sy and Thomas Eaton’s quiz. Answers on page 52
Across
7 Nina ......, singer
and civil rights
activist (6)
8 Portuguese
archipelago in the
north Atlantic (6)
9/2 Division roughly
corresponding to 15
degrees of longitude,
except that France
covers 12 of them,
Russia 11 and China
only 1 (4,4)
10 Phrase used by Bob
Dylan to describe the
women in songs “12”
and “35”? (5,3)
11 ....... Redgrave,
film star (7)
13 See 20
15/1 A neural tube
condition that stops
a baby’s spine and
spinal cord from
developing properly
(5,6)
17 Bookstore chain
that went into
administration in
2009 (7)
20/13 One of the
big six energy
suppliers (8,5)
21 Immanuel ....,
Prussian philosopher
(4)
22 20 17 town (6)
23 2001 French
comedy starring
Audrey Tautou (6)
Down
1 See 15
2 See 9
3 20 17 town (7)
4 Spanish port on the
Atlantic coast (5)
5 Area of Edinburgh
that is used as
a metonym for
the Scottish
government (8)
6 The Greek goddess
of magic (6)
1
2
3
4
7
5
6
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
22
12 Albert ........,
German-born physicist
(1879-1955) (8)
14 The Lord High
Everything Else in
Gilbert and Sullivan’s
The Mikado (4-3)
16 Arcade game
first released in
1980 (3-3)
21
23
18 Ian ......,
creator of Inspector
Rebus (6)
19 ..... Boots,
Broadway musical
featuring music
and lyrics by Cyndi
Lauper (5)
21 The capital of
Ukraine (4)
1 Which anthropologist
complained of
being mistaken for
a jeans maker?
2 Whose limit is
the maximum mass
of a stable white
dwarf star?
3 What word for
a coral island comes
from the Maldivian
language?
4 On what street does
Fearless Girl face off
Charging Bull?
5 Beryl Burton won
96 national titles in
what sport?
6 On a turkey, what is
the furcula?
7 Where are the
Senyera and
Estelada flown?
8 Which Manet
series was inspired
by Goya’s Third of
May, 1808?
What links:
9 Malcolm Little in
activism; Norman
Rogers in hip-hop;
Virginie Gautreau in
a portrait?
10 Lee; Brown;
Dench; Fiennes?
11 In The Ghetto;
Homecoming;
My Kind Of Town;
The Seer’s Tower?
12 Firefly; koala bear;
slow worm; horned
toad; starfish?
13 Glass; Dhoo;
Neb; Laxey; Sulby;
Silverburn?
14 Walt Disney
Concert Hall, LA;
Guggenheim, Bilbao;
Louis Vuitton
Foundation, Paris?
15 Simon Hoggart;
William G Stewart;
Mel and Sue;
Stephen Fry?
The Guardian Weekend | 23 December 2017 69
Back
That’s
me in the
picture
Ann Magnuson poses with other Club 57 regulars, New York, early 1980s
moved to New York
from West Virginia in
1978 to be an intern at
an off-off-Broadway
theatre. I was 22, with ambitions
of becoming a theatre director.
The city of New York was
bankrupt; it was a dangerous
environment. I still had memories
of having a switchblade held to my
throat within an hour of setting
foot in Manhattan, when I first
visited in 1975. But I was out every
night downtown: there were lots of
modern dance and theatre events
happening in abandoned spaces,
behind shabby storefronts.
And then there was CBGB,
the infamous punk-rock venue
on the Bowery. It was the centre
of cool for me: I saw a wave of
young bands there – Patti Smith,
Talking Heads, the Ramones.
It was there I got to know a guy
called Tom Scully; we discovered
we liked Dada and monster movies
and vaudeville.
In late 1978, we staged a New
Wave vaudeville show in a
Polish wedding hall, promoted
by a man called Stanley Strychacki.
He had been asked by the bishop
at the Holy Cross Polish National
Church to put on events in the
basement to bring in extra income.
It was at 57 St Mark’s Place, so
he named it Club 57. There was a
bar; Stanley asked Tom to be the
manager, but he wasn’t interested
and suggested I do it instead.
I leapt at the chance. I put on
events, booked people, tended the
bar. We had live music, theatre,
film screenings; everybody was
encouraged to participate. You
would see artists on the street and
bring them in – I’d run into JeanMichel Basquiat a lot. All these
people in the East Village ended up as
members of Club 57.
The club was a place to be
© MUNA TSENG DANCE PROJECTS, NEW YORK
I
‘The club was
a place to be
optimistic, to
be goofy and
colourful at a time
when the outside
world wasn’t
always hospitable’
70 23 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
optimistic, to be goofy and
colourful at a time when the
outside world wasn’t always
hospitable. The artist Keith Haring
would show up at poetry nights.
I remember he had a poem that
was like a William Burroughs
cut-up, where he would repeat these
words: “Lick… fat… boy… fat… lick…
fat… boy… lick… fat…” It annoyed
the hell out of the old-school
poets. They were booing him, so
he came over to the bar somewhat
dejected. I gave him a free beer and
said, “You’re my favourite poet!”
We became pals.
It’s great how we all look like
a theatrical troupe in this picture.
Photographer Tseng Kwong Chi
took the shot for the back cover of
Art After Midnight, Steven Hager’s
book about the 1980s East Village
scene. You can see how we’re
composed to look almost like a
sculpture. Keith’s there in the hat,
next to Patti Astor, the actor and
gallery owner, and the performance
artist Joey Arias. Tseng is there as
well, kneeling behind me. And that’s
me, lying on the ground.
New York’s Museum of Modern
Art has a show on Club 57; I’m
a guest curator. I love that people
who are usually overlooked are
getting their due. I’m sure anyone
in their 20s would consider it
ancient history, but I hope they’ll
be inspired. This was a time before
people were branding themselves
or thinking about becoming art stars
and making megabucks. It might
have been a filthy, rat-infested
neighbourhood, but for a brief time
the waters of creativity were pure
and invigorating.
Club 57: Film, Performance and Art in
the East Village, 1978–1983 is at the
Museum of Modern Art, New York,
until 1 April 2018 (moma.org).
Interview: Matt Barker
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