Monthly Archives: September 2006

Zealotry and dark sunshine

On Saturday afternoon I lunched with a religious zealot and some hecklers. It was unplanned.

I’d wandered into town for a bite to eat pre-film, of which more later, when I was attracted by noise and a large crowd. As I got closer I saw a flip chart and a shouty American, and then a plucky young Brit shouting back. The American was spouting forth about how evolution is fake (using the old “everything has a designer” nonsense), showing diagrams of the dimensions of Noah’s Ark (“he took baby animals, not fully grown ones”), claiming the Earth is 4000 years old, and that sort of thing. The Brit was telling him he was an idiot.

Interested but hungry, I bought a sandwich and returned to watch the argument (resolving to keep my mouth shut, as I’d only get wound up if I joined in). More than one heckler was now involved.

It was scary and creepy stuff. The zealot, a relatively young man, was clearly experienced at this – more experienced than the hecklers. He knew all the tricks, such as deploying the “look, a shiny thing” change of subject whenever anyone started demolishing his argument; requiring proof of any assertion made by a heckler but refusing to offer any when the same question was asked of him; presenting discredited evidence; and so on. And all the while, his comrades circled the group, handing out leaflets.

Most of the watchers knew it was all nonsense and cheered on the hecklers. One heckler, most likely an academic, probably a philosopher or similar spod, knew his theology better than the zealot. It was no use: as in the wider world, the American shouted loudest.

Scariest of all, when the zealot finished a few people applauded and went up to congratulate him. I hurried into Waterstones and cuddled the new Richard Dawkins hardback, The God Delusion.

Thence to the Picturehouse, for Little Miss Sunshine with Chris, Louise, Andy and Chef. Satirical, dark, funny. Superb. I’ll say no more on that, as I hadn’t even seen a trailer before watching the film and it was all the better for that, I think. But if you have seen the trailer, see the film anyway.

Avaragado’s rating: frozen yoghurt

Next up: Cotto, a new restaurant next to the Tram Depot on East Road. This too met with my approval, though it might not suit those (a) on a budget and (b) with Chef. Expensive tastes, these city boys. “I didn’t think I ordered port,” indeed.

Avaragado’s rating: too much salt

Chris took a selection of photos during the day with his new camera. Yes, we went to pubs too.


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It’s what she would have wanted

Knocks, enters.

Bows—from the neck—walks forward, shakes hand, bows again.

We saw The Queen tonight. It’s odd to watch on the big screen what is, in essence, a historical drama-documentary for events as recent as nine years ago. (But I guess no less odd than the recent spate of September 11-related films.)

Thank god it wasn’t a Hollywood treatment. No, actually, that might be quite funny.

The major players in the drama are all well realised, her maj herself in particular – Helen Mirren looking like a morphed version of herself and the real Brenda. Philip is suitably grumpy, Charles permanently paranoid and fiddling with his cuffs, the dear old Queen Mum half-cut, and Tony Blair all bright eyes and cheshire grin in the heady early days of his premiership.

There are no villains in the film; everyone tries to do the right thing, even if it’s entirely the wrong thing given the circumstances. It’s a very sympathetic portrait of the Queen, in fact – stuck between the traditionalists and modernisers, with her own instincts letting her down.

Tony Blair is portrayed more or less as the hero of the piece: not exactly the saviour of the monarchy, but certainly the one giving it a slap when it needed it. Some people will harrumph about this, but it’s hard to say that he did anything wrong. (The film shows how the newspaper headlines were entirely pro-Blair at the time; I wonder what the Daily Mail’s film reviewer thinks of it.)

The week after Diana’s death was of course completely bonkers and increasingly surreal, and we see it all: from Blair/Campbell’s “people’s princess” speech to the crowds in Hyde Park applauding Earl Spencer’s eulogy in Westminster Abbey. It brought back a lot of memories, not least Tom at the Wrestlers telling us that yes, he would be open on Saturday, the day of the funeral, because “it’s what she would have wanted”.

Excellent film.

Avaragado’s rating: one green olive

Exits walking backwards.

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We are victorious

It’s taken a few weeks, but victory was ours last night in the pub quiz. Andrew, his friend Richard and I emerged four points ahead of the second-place team with a score of 50/70.

About half of those points came from Andrew’s near-encyclopaedic knowledge of Bananarama, Belinda Carlisle and Cher’s musical adventures. OK, not so much on the Cher. But very impressive nonetheless. Now, if they’d played Belle and Sebastian… then I’d have sat there going “Ooh, yes, I know this one…” and not been able to remember the title.

My share of the winnings will keep me in White Lightning and UHU for a few days, anyhow.

(Scene from last Friday:


BIG ISSUE SELLER: Big Issue! Big Issue sir?

ME/ANDREW: No thanks.


BIG ISSUE SELLER: Big Issue sir?

ME/ANDREW: Still no thanks.


Persistent but forgetful.)

Oh, and Andrew won the bingo, too.

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Pasta la vista, GCC

Oh, what an awful subject line. I do apologise.

Goodbye Siam Thai, Hello De Luca Cucina & Bar. Whenever we went to Siam Thai we were approximately the only customers, so I guess there’s no real surprise it’s disappeared and the Italians have muscled in. I don’t know how long it’s been open in its new guise, but we went there last night for the first time.

Packed to the gills it was, barely room for our table-for-five (Me, Andrew, Chris, Louise and Andy). Yet some bread’n’oil appeared within seconds, and we disappeared it almost as quickly. My inner cynic wondered whether this was a signal that they wanted us out as speedily as possible, but my doubts were misplaced – we weren’t hurried at all.

I’m afraid I was the only one drinking the white wine. It’s such a burden. (OK, Chris helped out at the end of the evening.)

The food was very good. As far as I recall. I don’t think we annoyed any of the twosomes sprinkled around us.

Avaragado’s rating: one unwanted piece of tofu


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