Saturday 04 May
There’s Curry, and then there’s Inevitable Curry. Although very similar in appearance, and virtually identical from the point of view of the chap manning the tandoor, they are ideologically quite different. As we all know, Curry is a popular meal choice involving various strands of Indian cuisine, served either in restaurants or delivered to the home in, as my “Visit Britain 1971” guide from the Maltese tourist bureau would have it, elegant foil containers. Inevitable Curry is a different kettle of Corica Soborna altogether, and is more of a convention than a meal per se. In our business, Inevitable curry most often occurs in between a soundcheck and an evening concert. After the final notes of the souncheck have been sounded, if any mention of eating is at all made, it will simply be one of the chaps saying “Food?” There may be a response from one of the lads of “No, the ex is having my guts for garters over the house and I’ve had to bring sandwiches,” but the nature of the dining is never dicussed. Pointless really, as experience tells us that within five minutes, the Raj Poot Contemporary Indian Cuisine located conveniently by the stage door will be occupied by the half of the band which didn’t fancy just beer at the Wetherspoon’s.
It is never discussed, it is inevitable. Last Wednesday, I found myself waving my arms about in front of a band for Kevin Fitzsimmons’ Sinatra Spectacular in Windsor. As I was in charge, I had to hang back after the soundcheck to sort a couple of things out, and I found myself on my own. No matter here, I thought and asked a passer-by where the nearest curry could be procured. I got my directions, and when I arrived, some of the lads had already commenced on the Inevitable Curry proceedings. This is where Inevitable Curry differs from Curry, as it is always consumed against a backdrop of mild tension resulting from the opposing factors of – 1-The showtime-created deadline
2-Lads coming in one by one, ordering at different times and creating a cloud of confusion in the kitchen
Factor 2 usually leads to the main courses hitting the table just on the edge of the acceptable time for getting back, so another hallmark of the Inevitable Curry is the mild heartburn and indigestion through the first half of the show. Equipped with this knowledge, next time you go to a band concert, see if you can work out who’s been to the Inevitable Curry, who’s had liquid dinner at the Frog & Gearbox and who’s having their goolies pulled out through their wallet by the ex..
Mind you, there are few things in life so enjoyable as the anticipatory early stages of an Inevitable Curry. Prior to the soundcheck, there will have been the drive to the gig, with concomitant traffic fun, loading in and setting up, and then the run-through itself. By the time that the opening shots of the Inevitable Curry are fired, your average chap is completely ready for a big chilled bottle of Cobra, and the customary too many poppadoms. These latter are essential for getting a good foundation for the heartburn to come.
At this particular I.C. in Windsor (The Mutton Xacutti, by the way, was absolutely first-rate), there was an excellent example of another common phenomenon in the Eating Out Arena, which of course is that if you’re dining out with Her Indoors, her food is likely to go wrong. I checked with the chaps about this, and it seems to be the case that a woman eating out with a man or group of men is statistically far more likely to have a meal which is burnt, raw, frozen, wrong, or containing hair than a man is, or as far as we can tell, a woman dining just in the company of other women. In this case, Her Indoors’ nosh didn’t turn up at all. She was starving as well, and when the pageant of indian goodies turned up at the statutory five minutes to going away time, her Chicken Bhopal was sadly absent. The lads in the kitchen tried to salvage the situation by knocking something together quickly, but what they could do in the time didn’t look too appetising, and so H.I. made do with vegetable side dishes and a bit of the Mutton Xacutti. She was left a bit hungry and jaded, we all felt guilty for having had a slap up meal. The First Law of Mixed Dining Out had been upheld.
On Sunday, I was in the Royal Opera House to play my nine notes with the BBC Concert Orchestra for the Olivier Awards. Like any prize-giving ceremony, it became a curious concatination of the grandiose and the tedious, featuring lavish set-pieces from West End shows interspersed with old luvvies banging on as they do. The orchestra sounded great though, and the opera house is just magnificent. I took a shot from my seat at the back left hand side of the band to give an (admittedly rather murky) idea of how it looked.
Outside, there was a resonant mixing of the opulent and the slightly tacky. God alone knows how much they paid to shut Bow Street down and then cover it in red carpet, but then the decorations were pictures of the actual Awards themselves glued to hardboard backs. PDF on MDF, if you like. With the temple-like appearance of the opera house itself, and the cheering throngs of folk, it all added up to give a cheerful frissance of a school production of “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum”. Anyway, here they are-
Aren’t Swedish people fabulous? You may recall that the entire Dr. Marten feet in ribbons trauma started on a site visit to the Waldorf to meet a lady from the Swedish Chamber Of Commerce about their annual Knees-Up, or Knan-Upp. Well it was the gig last Thursday, and what a belter! Right from the word go, the dance floor was packed with very groovy Swedes of all ages, who surprised us by requesting loads of Abba stuff. I say surprised, because us cynical old English gits couldn’t imagine a do for the British Chamber of Commerce in Stockholm where cynical old English gits like us would prise themselves away from the free bar for long enough to request that the Swedish Function band do a load of Beatles numbers. And then dance like billy-o to it as if not only was there no tomorrow, but not much left of today. Originally, they had wanted a twenties theme, but changed their minds along the way for a more top of the pops approach. Hence, we were in white tuxes with art deco bandstands, looking like Jack Hylton’s mob whilst emitting disco-tastic sounds like Earth Wind and Fire! Here’s a shot of us just before it all kicked off-
Sorry about the blurriness, by the way. I fear that I have something stuck in the iPhone. One of the Swedes actually came up to me and congratulated the band on the tightness of the phrasing of the trumpet section! Now that’s culture! They were also cultured enough to come out with a couple of trays of splosh after we’d done. What an excellent nation.
The last newsworthy item this week involves more experimentaion with The Golden Menu at Mr. Kong’s. We’d had a rehearsal of an Ellington set for a big dance festival this Saturday, and feeling happy with ourselves for having had a bath in the best harmony on our planet today we retired to the Dog And Duck to enjoy that wonderful mix of late afternoon sunshine and beer. A quick pint turned into a slow three or four, and then beer hunger came over us. Moments later, six of us found ourselves around the big table in the back room at Kong’s, and The Golden Menu was ordered up. However, the G.M is a four seater, and we needed more things. Callum Au was on the team, and being half chinese he made a couple of suggestions. Following on from his discoveries, here is the amandment to the Golden Menu, this time for six. For those of you who may have missed out on this the first time, here it is again, with the new bits added in. It’s a meal everyone needs to experience, but if you are going with a woman, watch out for the The First Law of Mixed Dining Out.
MR. KONG’S OLYMPIC STANDARD DINNER FOR SIX-
Hot Sake for six and a Tsing Tao Each. Drivers have green tea.
Prawn Crackers & Chilli Oil
Four portions soft shell crab
Two portions Spare Ribs in Salt & Chilli, baked in paper bag
Two Portions Steamed Prawn Dumplings, more chilli oil
Con ching baby squid
½ Drunken Chicken
6 Razor Clams
½ Crispy duck and Pancakes
2x Mongolian Crispy Lamb
Beef Brisket In Hot Pot
Pork Belly with Garlic Shoots
Cantonese Stir Fried Beef
Seafood Ho Fun
Pak Choi in garlic sauce
Probably no room for rice or noodle, but order if you must
More from the shed soon,