Bye bye Maxie, a matter of National Importance & being back on the wireless…

Bye bye Maxie, a matter of National Importance & being back on the wireless…

Did we just have our last Bank Holiday weekend of 2012?

A quick look at the calendar confirms that it was indeed, the last one, as Christmas is a mid-week affair this year. We’ve also had an extra day for Her Majesty’s Diamond jubilee, although the weather had read the script and washed it out. Much this same as the one last week, really.

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Max Bygraves on Friday. He was a performer that not only spanned the generations in age, but in appeal – I am advised that “Toothbrush” is still sung in schools today, as it was when I was a youngster growing up in the East End of London. I can remember the family get-togethers where Max’s music would undoubtedly feature at some point – and these gatherings would regularly span 4 generations – there cannot be many people around that were not aware of his work on some level, even today. He was also regularly featured on “Junior Choice” which was required listening at the weekends in the 1970’s.

Yes, he had his critics in recent years, but unlike so many of the so called “Entertainers” of the past 30 years, he still endured and there was nothing any critic could do to dent his popularity. Rest In Peace, Mr. Bygraves, thank you for the memories and your legacy.

The EPL has recently resumed. Yes, I would probably have made more of this, had there been something of note to shout about, but sadly, as a Saint’s fan, there has been little fuel for the vocals. We’ve played the League champions and runners’ up from last season and despite leading, lost both games. We also lost our first home game, to Wigan or some other northern lot. Yes, I know it’s 3 down and 35 to go, but as I write, we are the only team in the division with 0 points on the board. We’ve spent heavily (by our standards) in the transfer window and it’ll take a bit of time for players to integrate. I only hope our chairman gives the manager time to get things working – he’s a money man, not a footballing one and my fear is that he’ll be expecting instant returns, which just cannot happen. Our manager was odds-on favourite to be the first one aimed out at the beginning of the season, I doubt that has changed.

When watching Match of the Day on Saturday I noticed that Harry Redknapp was one of the two pundits. I’m sure I am not the only SFC fan that would rather have an effigy of Ali Dia in the seat than old saggy-chops. I am certainly not best pleased that my licence fee is being used to pay for his unwelcome presence – am I alone? I doubt it.

Anyway – to matters of National Importance.

Tea.

I’ve been a tea drinker since about the age of 9. Being 43 years, 21 weeks and 5 days old at the time of writing, that is a LOT of tea consumed. (15,858 days, to be exact, which at an average of 6 cups per day is 95,148 cups.) Like I said, a LOT of tea.

I’ve pretty much chosen PG-Tips as my everyday blend for most of that time, but I recently tried a rival blend, Tetley. As one of the leading brands in the UK, one would expect the tea to be of a similar standard to my usual. Wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever failed to taste tea as comprehensively as I managed with Tetley. Thankfully, I’d only purchased a smallish quantity, so I only had to suffer it for a short period, but never again.

Whilst I was in this period of self-inflicted purgatory, I was advised that “Yorkshire Tea” was the one to try – the actual expression used was “the dog’s bollocks” but that is somewhat irrelevant. At almost the same time, similar noises were being made on Twitter by one of my small band of correspondents. As I was getting it from two different and unconnected sources, I had to give it a try – in accordance with the 2012 policy of trying things that are recommended and not just being blinkered. So, with an order in preparation to that awfully nice Mr. Sainsbury, I added in a quantity of the aforementioned beverage but, as a safety precaution, also included a back-up of Old Faithful.

As it so happened, the water filter was due for a change and I always de-scale the kettle at the same time – so, when the YT arrived, it would be tested under optimum conditions. I also took the extra precaution of bleaching out my mugs, keen not to leave anything to chance – with such high praise being heaped upon the YT, I felt it only right to treat it with the utmost respect.

Mr. Sainsbury’s representative came and went, having delivered everything as ordered, which is unusual, but that is another discussion for another day. With everything packed away, the kettle was put into service and the box of tea opened. At this point, I feel it is Important to outline the preparation, brewing and finishing process that I follow for tea made with bags.

A clean mug is essential. There are those that will be saying “heathen” at this point, I know, but for me it does not taste right out of a mug that has not had close relations with cleaning materials for a protracted period, usually measured in weeks. In a previous life I had a member of staff that subscribed to the latter school of thought and would have a fit if a new cleaner took it upon themselves to put his mug through the “system”. A source of much merriment amongst the team when this happened!

Anyway – once the kettle has boiled, I pour a small amount of water into the bottom of the mug, swill it around and then drain, pop the bag in and fill the mug with the water. I always leave the tea to brew in the mug for around 3 minutes. If I remember, I might give it the occasional stir, but this is optional. At the expiry of the allotted time period, a brief stir and then, using the spoon, squeeze the bag out against the inside of the mug, near to the top. Then the milk is added, NEVER before, with bagged tea. The brew is now ready to be enjoyed at one’s leisure.

I also have a stock of loose-leaf tea which I reserve for special occasions, usually when I’m feeling decadent or if Her Highness deigns to pay a call. The lady in question “runs” the small apartment building I reside in and is therefore accorded the status of “Highness”. It so happens that I am referred to as “Young Man” or “YM” for short – which is a most accurate description. I digress. The loose leaf in question is Fortnum & Mason’s “Royal Blend” which works as well in the mornings as it does when used as an accompaniment to an afternoon’s conversation. In this case, the tea is brewed in the pot and broadly follows the process as detailed, with one exception – the milk goes into the mug prior to the tea being poured. The tried and trusted measure of one spoonful of tea per person and “One for the Pot” is observed in all cases. If it was good enough for our Winston, it is good enough for me!

Right – the verdict on the Tea.

My first reaction was that it would be put into the same class as Tetley. I tried 3 mugs full and was all set to write the exercise off as a “bad-job”, when I remembered that this had been recommended. So I had another 237 attempts available to try and “get it”. I’m now a week in and am still sticking with the YT. Every time I open the cupboard, Old Faithful is in there, sealed, but ready to be drafted in, should the need arise.

875 words on Tea – well, it IS of National Importance, after all.

I briefly touched on Twitter, above. I follow and am followed by two ladies who share a flat somewhere in the Limehouse area, in a building they refer to as “Contrary Towers”. I recently had one of those nights where sleep was proving evasive, so I made a mug of Tea and read through the journal they share, which is brilliant – helped by the different viewpoints of the two writers. They are a sit-com waiting to be written and in what is, I believe, a first, I’m going to provide a link here: http://contrarytowers.blogspot.co.uk/ do have a look – you can also follow them on Twitter, they are @clareangela & @almostsenseless should you wish to do so.

In other news, I recently took part in a week-long fund raising radio broadcast, covering the lunchtime slots for the week. It has been a long time since I’ve done anything of the sort and there was a point where I was all set to back out – at 11:59 on my first day!

But, as the link established we were “on air” and the adrenaline started pumping round. I don’t remember very much about the first one, but there was no dead-air, the causing of which is a hanging offence. I got an extra hour on my last day because the person following me was ill, so I took one hour and the person due on at 5pm took the other, so between us we covered it. I really enjoyed the experience and had a lot of support from various sources, which was great. The upshot of all this is that I’m doing a regular slot on Wednesday evenings between 8 and 10 pm. There is no real format to the programme yet, I do take requests but I’m afraid I won’t be playing any Boyzone, Spice Girls or similar – much more “music for grown-ups” with the odd bit of fun thrown in. One thing I have made a point of, though is always closing with the National Anthem for London – “Waterloo Sunset”. I’ve got 3 versions and which one I play is dictated by what went before it and my mood at that moment! I’m also quite happy to play stuff from unknown bands and artists, provided I like it, of course – so get those demo’s over to me, double lively.

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