Tuesday, 30 November 2010

I'm coming out...

I am no longer anonymous, insofar as I have now "come out" to my flatmate Mo. I'm not sure why I decided to this evening over a pile of ironing and a glass of terrible wine (a gift from a friend I probably won't be coming out to anytime soon if she keeps making offerings like that!).

It needed to be done, I think. She may have started to think me odd(er) for taking so many pictures of general Shepherd's Bush scenes on my phone and for generally being overly enthusiastic about all things W12. I think she also deserves to have the right to say "you can blog about this" or not as the case may be as unlike my former flatmate we do actually enjoy venturing out into the Bush together. I've also recently started to wonder if it's time I needed some real life quality control as you virtual lot are worryingly too nice and complimentary about this here blog.

So hello to you Mo! I hope you enjoy reading and don't mind the occasional reference to your very fair self. I hope you like (and "get") your affectionate nickname and continue to enjoy being referred to occasionally as I may refer to our future Bush adventures.

(Please don't move out!) x

Friday, 26 November 2010


This morning as I walked to Shepherd's Bush tube from my Shepherd's Bush flat I witnessed an uncomfortable Shepherd's Bush scene. As I stood waiting for the "green man" at the traffic lights in front of West 12, I was distracted by some commotion to my right under the (forever present) scaffolding near Ladbrokes. A man and a woman were arguing. This is nothing unusual in W12 where residents are frequently visually and aurally exposed to domestic disputes outside our windows.

However, at the risk of sounding very judgmental of the usual Shepherd's Bush suspects, this did seem different. He was dressed in a smart overcoat and suit, wrapped up in a scarf and leather gloves against the freezing temperatures; she was dressed more casually in jeans and a warm jacket. I'm confident in saying that both were younger than me. As the red man stubbornly remained I continued to watch their animated argument (his hands were very "Italian" and she kept taking steps back or to the side of him, clearly trying to evade his verbal assault). I was then truly shocked to see this man strike the woman across her face with the back of his leather-gloved hand. There was enough force in this that she stumbled to one side. He seemed to have some magnetic pull to her as he followed and remained in her personal space. She then pushed him away and ran a few steps in my direction, retrieved a phone from her jacket pocket and seemed to be calling someone. He followed her with less pace, appearing to know that she wouldn't run away far, and he stood by her side outside HSBC watching her every move as she talked on the phone. I made a step in their direction. My instinctive reaction was to approach her to see if she needed any help. At the same time I contemplated calling the police. My brain then kicked into a different gear and questioned what I was potentially willing to get myself into at 7.30am on a Friday morning. I also asked myself who he would blame for an interruption; me or her?

Sharp beeping tore my eyes and thoughts away from this moral dilemma and the green man beckoned. I crossed the road in autopilot but looking back at the girl, crying, on the phone and the man now standing a metre away, calm and letting her finish her call. It was then I wondered why she hadn't completely ran away from him?

By the time I crossed at the other sight of traffic lights and reached the entrance to Shepherd's Bush tube and looked back, they had moved on and I couldn't see them.

I'll be honest, 10 minutes later I was sat on the tube reading my Sport magazine and trying to talk myself out of buying a cinnamon skinny latte on the way to work. But now I'm kind of itching with a lingering guilt. I'm wondering if my instinctive reaction, to intervene or call the police, was what I should have done. Why didn't I take action when I wax lyrical about being a moral citizen? Would I have prevented further injury by doing so? And was I genuinely right in being reluctant to interfere because I could have potentially worsened the situation? Or was I just being plain lazy, preferring to ignore?

I suppose I'll never know the answers to all of these questions as our reactions in these situations can never be as intelligently thought out as our analysis of them in hindsight. I find some faint reassurance in not knowing the couple's background and therefore being completely incapable of making a fully informed assessment (not that there is ANY excuse for violence). However, there is no comfort for me now as I sit at my desk (without that coffee) and realise that I will never know exactly what happened after they left my field of vision this morning...

Monday, 22 November 2010

I love to laugh, loud and long and clear...

In the early stages of this blog I reviewed a very good comedy night in Shepherd's Bush called Knock2bag. Nearly a year on I decided I was in serious need of a laugh again and so a few weeks ago flatmate Mo (the nice new one) and I made our way to the comedy night in one of Shepherd's Bush's premium night spots, the converted subterranean Edwardian public convenience (i.e. old underground toilets) that is Ginglik.

I want to review Ginglik as a venue on another occasion. I've found myself under Shepherd's Bush Green on a number of drunken Friday nights. As a result I appear to have about 4 separate Pay as You Go Ginglik Membership cards (including one in a completely unfamiliar name) but I will have to be honest when I say I fail to have a solid enough recollection of the time (and money) spent there. However that is hopefully soon to change; Mo and I are planning to have our Christmas night out there in a few weeks (lazy, us? yes sir!). I will endeavour to stay sober enough to take in some of the atmosphere, alcoholic beverages and music selection for blogging purposes.

So back to LaughatGinglik, the regular comedy night held at Ginglik every fortnight. Mo and I got there in good time and with good seats and drinks secured we waited for our laughing muscles to be exercised. Readers can rightly assume that I have a sense of humour that borders on, nay sinks deeply in to, the dirty and filthy side. I can laugh about most things. Mo on the other hand I wasn't too sure about despite knowing her most of my life. She is one of my most ladylike friends (admittedly this isn't too hard a title to hold) and neither curses nor makes filth-filled-innuendos in haste. That said she always laughs when I do and not always out of her charming natural politeness. In fact the more time we spend living together the more I realise she does have an "edge" to her sense of humour and our night at LaughatGinglik pretty much confirmed it.

The theme of the night was sketch comedy and all acts did indeed abide by this in a variety of different ways. There were 6 acts in total and in a change to the original schedule the night was hosted by the very funny duo Allnut & Simpson (seriously I wonder if the pairing of one fat smiley bloke and one odd looking skinny bloke will ever fail - apart from Corden & Horne of course). Mo and I managed to get a laugh out of every act and actually for one of the acts we appeared to be the only two in the audience laughing (more out of nervousness than anything else - Nathan Dean Williams' monologue of an Aspergers-esque son who relays tales of sexual harassment at the hands of dinner ladies to his mother - a blow-up doll whose breast he strokes throughout the sketch - did invite laughter more out of disbelief than humour). A favourite for us both was Nick Mohammed whose slick performance of a number of different characters was broad, accurate and convincing. I personally enjoyed Late Night Gimp Fight whose comedy was slightly closer to the bone or on occasion more sensitive bone marrow. We both enjoyed The Unexpected Items, a foursome who worked well together but with strong individual performances including a very talented young lady (probably younger than me) whose literary version of Britney Spears' Womanizer had me belly-laughing. Their other sketches included this one, "Gap Yah" which I've since learnt has a cult student following.

Ginglik was an excellent host; not too big, not too small, manageable queues for both bar and loos (despite the Ladies becoming Unisex by the management halfway through the night). I also have to say my future review of Ginglik may already be biased as one of the barmen kept giving me some of his pistachio nuts (and this is not one of my afore mentioned filthy innuendos) every time I ordered more drinks.

Each and every time I go to a comedy night not only am I reminded that I have stomach muscles but also that laughter genuinely is one of the best things for the soul. I'm sure there's a reason for it probably to do with the right hormones getting to the right places, but I always feel a little lighter and a lot more positive about life after I've spent nearly two hours non-stop laughing. For this reason I have no doubt I'll get my laughing gear to LaughatGinglik again in the near future, and I recommend you do the same too.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Spice up your life... Raj Of India

I love curry. Curry probably doesn't love me, because I don't mess about; I eat it all up, cleaning my plate with peshwari naan.

After being full of enthusiasm and hunger for regularly blogging about finding the best curry in Shepherd's Bush I have featured only one lonely review to date, Ajanta Tandoori. This is my second, Raj of India on Shepherd's Bush Road.

Located very close to where Mo and I dwell the lights of the Raj have long called out to me and what better excuse to indulge in some spice than Mo's twenty-something-ed birthday. On the night in question we actually made our way with a slight wobble to the Raj of India as it was the seemingly perfect sequel to the comedy night at Ginglik (to be blogged about). I do love a good local weekday night out in Shepherd's Bush.

The welcome was charmingly typical of curry houses in UK. Doors held open for you, chairs pulled out, napkins rested on your lap, inner thigh stroked as they do so... kidding. There was no thigh-stroking. But there were poppadom condiments on our table already, a total palette tease. An extra bonus was that they included my favourite coconut chutney which i could literally pour down my throat until it re-emerged out of my nostrils and ear holes. We didn't have to wait too long for poppadoms to scoop up the chutney and coconut and chilis and wash it all down with Cobra on draft. I was also charmed by high chintz factor demonstrated in the general decor and elaborate cutlery and plates. These with the thick patterned carpet which I'm confident had been in place since the restaurant opened in 1996, left the restaurant pleasantly lacking in pretention.

We skipped starters and both ordered different chicken mains. Mo ordered a House Speciality Achari Chicken Masala and I went in big choosing a Chicken Balti Masala (medium hot), which I haven't had I think since I went to a-rough-around-the-edges-BYO-booze delicious curry house in Birmingham, which I actually believe is roughly where the dish originates from. Perhaps this is why I was left a little disappointed with my choice, I can pretty much cope with a "hot" dish as long as there is good flavour there, and sadly compared to Mo's there wasn't the flavour injection I was craving. The balti was certainly rich but more in the "stewed" sense as opposed to layered flavours. Luckily for me, Mo is a sharer and so my manners were thrown out the window and I enjoyed taking advantage of this as her dish was very good. We shared peshwari and plain naans (good but not the best I've had) a Bombay Aloo and yet more Cobra.

Though there was nothing wrong with the meal I wasn't as impressed as I had hoped to be after hearing very good reviews from other Bush-ites. On the plus side the service was excellent complete with "very hot" towels. The total cost was reasonable (around £38.00 if I remember rightly) and we left content, with full bellies and certainly more of a wobble to our walk so I will award Raj of India 6.5 out of 10 poppadoms. Seeing as it is virtually an extension of our living room (and we sharply noticed it does takeaway til late) I expect I'll have the opportunity soon to try a different main course very soon, maybe even sans wobble.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Feels like home...

I am back in Shepherd's Bush after a lovely long warm and indulgent break in South East Asia. Despite a peskily persistent case of jet lag, I feel relaxed, energized and have a new sense of focus. I also have a spanking tan and a lovely caramel tint to my hair which would usually cost me around £80.00 to achieve. At the high risk of stating the obvious, I have always loved holidays but it is only in my more recent (financially) independent but work-commitment-heavy years that I truly appreciate them.*

There are many reasons why I love holidays:

- It often means uninterrupted time with those you love most (or fancy most, i.e. NewMan) - a surprisingly rare priority in our lives.

- Rest is good for our souls. We cannot and should not run on empty. Take or make time to recharge your batteries.

- It's very cancerous-ly incorrect, but God I love bathing in the sun, being coated in a warmth that soothes away niggling worries..

- ...and white bits can provide no end of amusement.

- If you're abroad you get to experience new things, be it culinary delights or foreign social customs. (It's apparently perfectly normal in Malaysia to purposefully shut doors behind you; in the face of anyone behind you being optional.)

- You break all your own rules: you sleep in alarm-free, you eat what you want when you want and you enjoy alcoholic beverages at any time of the day you wish (just me?)

- You have time to think, and you have time to not think.

- You get to come home. Even if home is a foggy, cold Shepherd's Bush in November where the only golden glow to be seen is in the fallen leaves covering the pavement and the skeletal trees on the Green stand as bare as my white bits. It's home.

*If you feel a swell of jealousy building up and you are grimacing at the audacity of this post, can I kindly ask you to remember I am a single woman in her 20s who works bloody hard (and have done pretty much since I was 15 years old) and right now I am fortunate enough to be free of money-sapping mortgages or offspring. Apparently, and despite my current best intentions, this may not last forever. Also when the world ends and everything crumbles down I will be alone, homeless and penniless (but nicely tanned and rested). (If you're still feeling a smidge jealous, please don't - look at my freakishly long toes in the above picture - 10 long thin peanut-toe burdens I have to bear everyday!)

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

If we took a holiday...

Hey there Bush fans... I am on holiday from tomorrow in a far away place for a few weeks. This holiday will be a first of many things for me:

* My first time in Asia
* The first time NewMan and I spend more than 3 days together not to mention two long-haul flights (gulpus massiveus).
* Our first time on holiday with another couple (but they're my friends so that's ok, well for me at least).

I had wanted to get some quick blog posts in before I went, one about the comedy night at Ginglik and another about the curry that Mo and I had after said comedy gig in Shepherd's Bush (we seriously exercised our stomach muscles that night!), but work and narrowing down 2 wardrobes to just 20kg of luggage has taken over my time and energy. I promise to have these and some tales of my holiday posted as soon as I can upon my return.

That is of course counting on NewMan not drowning me in the India Ocean and me managing to avoid death by chicken satay.

Have a great few weeks and look after the Bush for me...