Wednesday, February 9

Something New

Following a humongous absence...I shall be blogging my Restaurant Review Column for those who don't get The Messenger - the monthly Manchester magazine.

What excitement!

Tuesday, August 25

My recent email interchange...

The below is a transcription of a recent email exchange between myself and Peter Rigby. I was attempting to email Peter Rigby - my foster sister's father, in relation to wedding arrangements for his daughter.

My sister suggested I put it up here for the amusement of others. I have blanked out our email addresses for obvious reasons.

As per all email exchanges, start at the bottom and work your way up.


----- Forwarded Message ----
From: ""
Sent: Tuesday, 25 August, 2009 2:26:20 PM
Subject: Re: Rachel's wedding and table

Don't forget the oil-streaked bit of the stripper... that sounds like it would really liven up the hen party...

Afraid I have to confess that you really have got the wrong Peter -although if I were the real Peter I would also be amused that you were embarrassed so him and I must have something in common!

And yes, I will regale this story at future dinner parties, I hope you get over the embarrassment.

Would be interested to learn how you come upon my email address in the first place?


Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2009 21:08:33 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Re: Rachel's wedding and table

Do I sincerely have the wrong Peter..?

The real Peter would think it amusing to pretend it wasn't himself so I felt excruciatingly embarrassed at having discussed gyrating strippers to an utter stranger... I'm all in a confusion now.

I'm terribly sorry if you are the wrong Peter. But looking on the bright side, I'm sure secretly you are utterly delighted to have erroneously received the below - it's a good dinner party anecdote surely! :-)

From: ""
Sent: Monday, 24 August, 2009 12:44:58 PM
Subject: Re: Rachel's wedding and table

Hi Natalie, I think you have the wrong Peter...

That said... I think its only fair that you arrange a gyrating, oil slicked stripper for Ray's hen night... I will let you know if I am available -hen nights are free!

Peter (the wrong one)

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2009 08:53:15 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Rachel's wedding and table

Hi Peter,

How are you? I hope my mother behaved herself for you and Carol...

Two things:

One, I heard you are looking to get rid of an old desk. I'm looking for a desk - I'm converting my dining room into a reading room and would like a writing desk. I wonder if you would consider selling it to me - and how much would you like.

Two, there is NO WAY I am arranging a bl**dy stripper for Ray's hen night. If she wants one, tough titty. I'm the chief bridesmaid in charge of organising the hen night and it will be a quiet, calm affair with no baby lotion and gyrating men thank you very much! Just had to clarify that. I have my reputation to protect and all...

Pass on my regards to Carol and speak soon!

Love Natalie xx

Wednesday, July 22

A Pre-Raphaelite Dr Who would do well for me thank you very much

I have just finished watching 'Desperate Romantics' - the new BBC six part series on the lives of the Pre-Raphaelites. I was terribly excited on hearing of its impending arrival several weeks ago - the Pre-Raphaelites have been my favourite art group since I was first introduced to them by my terribly boho and bearded art teacher, Mr Grundy, when I was about fourteen. (For anyone who also loves their work and isn't aware - the Manchester Art Gallery has a fantastic 19c room holding a briliant permanent collection of their stuff.

Excitingly they have one of the Ophelia paintings. Not the infamous Millais' 'bath-based' one (my favourite of all theirs, no doubt in part due to near-tragedy tied up with its creation)

but the lesser-known Hughes' which features Ophelia on her branch just before her fall.)

The series thus far is fantastic - it couldn't fail to be really, the PRBs are an ideal meld of artistic andeavour, bohemianism, rebellion, debauchery and idealism... all wrapped up in period costume and out of this world names like, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (It is I think the finest name ever conceived. It makes one swoon just reading it surely :-) )

Watching it, however, got me wishing that the wardrobe department of the Desperate Romantics had been brought in to dress Matt Smith this week. If anyone hasn't seen, (and is at all interested!) the sneak previews of the new Dr Who garb, look see:

As most know, I have been finding it hard to deal with the imminent departure of Dear David, my Dr Who par excellence. Viewing the new look Dr Who has NOT allayed my fears in the slightest. I mean... WFT!! Who the bollocks was responsible for THAT get up?? WTF are they doing putting a bow tie on a TWENTY YEAR OLD?? I can only assume this abberation of good sense is attributable to some desire to make him look more grown up - given the debacle about his age... In which case - why didnt they just choose an older actor?? If that's not the reason in any event... and this is presumably then some crass effort to acheive the Dr Who 'eccentric Englishman' look, there are plenty of more inspired and sophisticated ways to achieve his brand of vintage geek... without resort to something so crudely obvious as a bow tie and tweed.

Have they nooo subtley.

Saturday, June 13

Wandering through the aisles of the Co-op several weeks ago I happened across a most wonderfully labelled packet of food in the deli section.

'Ambient sausage-rolls'

Utterly intriguing.

Wednesday, March 18

So. Two substantial changes planned for the House of Barbosa in the near future.

First change. For a one-month trial period, I shall be upgrading to 'Vegan'. This next step of my journey to Sainthood has been some while in the coming; my addiction to all things cheese has however, caused no end of procrastination. I feel the time has now come, nevertheless, for me to step into a new world of dairylessness.

I am actually quite looking forward to it. The family aren't. Understandably. In mitigation I would say I am not a demanding veggie, thus, there is no reason to expect me to be anything other than my unexacting self as a vegan.

Change number two. Having decided I shall resist the urge to move out of my current abode immediate upon qualification, and anticipating my search for London-based employment to be futile in the current climes, I have decided to do some home-improvements.

Particularly, I shall be granting myself one of my 'One hundred things to do before I die' wishes, and shall gift myself my own library. Handily converted from the currently-existing dining room.

This is horrendously exciting. First improvement will be to take up the carpet and revert to the lovely original wooden floorboards (originally covered over as plebeian house-hunters apparently prefer carpet. Will require large sanding machine and glaze or some such thing I reckon) Second, as an utter cliche, but nonetheless a marvelous one, the purchase of a large old leather armchair.n(Sudden thought, I pledged to buy no more leather furniture. Hmmm - perhaps this aspect needs some reassessment). Third, purchase of a 'full of character and charmingly battered' writing table. Fourth, import of Persian rug from lounge into 'library'. Fifth, naturally, installation of multitude of book shelves.

Oh joyful.

I should take up pipe-smoking too. That'd work.

Which would itself require a smoking-jacket of course. Red and black silk blatantly.

Maybe a Fez even.

Oh the possibilities. If only I could install a domed roof...

Monday, February 2

Sleeping with your eyes open

A friend’s birthday this weekend saw me holed up in an idyllic and remote 17th century Welsh cottage/farmhouse.

As the pictures demonstrate, wood panelling and stone-flagged floor were in abundance – as was a massive open fire, which promptly became the focus of the weekends activities. The first evening was spent mainly in the enormous dining room as our eagerness to ‘play with the fire’ resulted in us utterly flooding the lounge with smoke. A note to all fire neophytes – DO NOT place more than three logs at once on an old open fire. You are inviting the firebrigade otherwise.

The most exciting part of the weekend I think, excepting the new found ‘cow-racing’ game on the Weeeeeee, was by sojourn in the most beautiful four poster bed i have ever had the opportunity to sleep in. It is/was ENORMOUS, an Empress I am guessing.. but I can never remember the names for bed sizes above King so I can’t be sure.

I was devastated to discover that I would not be inhibiting the double bed room – it was rightly reserved for the birthday boy and his wife. However, being the hippy-esque couple they are, at 3am in the morning as we all staggered into our respective rooms, Matthew kindly offered to allow me the opportunity to pass the night in the Wonder-bed. (No smutty thoughts please – we are all grown ups here...)

After an appropriate period of refusals with thanks, I gleefully relented and jumped in excitedly next to Claire.

Now ordinarily (that is in circumstances where one hasn’t imbibed several bottles of wine and glasses of port) the incident would have ended here. But naturally being drunk, I had to push my luck. As Matt turned out the lights and all went quiet, I began to moan loudly that things were not as they should be. That much as i appreciated the offer of spending the night in the Empress Four Poster and fantastically many-beamed room – there was simply no point in me being in it – if the room was so dark, I wasn’t aware I was indeed IN IT!

Matt – being of a most patient and quick-witted nature, and perhaps knowing that if he didn’t act quickly, I could continue in the same vein for hours, jumped out of the bed and rummaged through his rucsack.

Within moments a hend-held torch was on my bed-side table. Matt upended it and turned on the beam to reveal the full splendour of the old beams and tapestried bed roof.
To his question of whether this was ok – I could now go to sleep happily aware that I was in the Wonder-Room - I relied enthusiastically... that it was now perfect, my dream-bed experience was just as it should be.

I am sure the beam of light spent many an hour marvelling at the glint of the mahogany in the evening light. Shame that I could not enjoin as I have yet to discover how to sleep with my eyes open, indeed I was asleep before Matt returned to his side of the bed.

Friday, January 9

Hamlet 'n' stuff

So seven months after by initial booking... I finally attended my much anticipated evening with Mr Tennant and colleagues. It was touch and go for a while whether he would actually return due to his back injury in late December but, praise be to the Lord, he arrived back on the boards the very day of MY arrival!

The cost and wait was infinitely worth it - he was quite marvellous... naturally :-) . I won’t give a critique of the play – as I have little capacity for that, but I’ll venture to categorise him in short as an energetic and humorous Hamlet who really brought to the fore his self-hatred and desperation at his own seeming cowardice. (and breathe...)

The cast on the whole were all utterly stunning – Polonious especially was fabulous and hysterically funny. One really notable feature was the sense one felt of Polonious/Ophelia/Laertes as a tight family unit... which I have never seen particularly presented in that light before. Coming from a close-knit quad myself, I really connected with them and watching them interact with each other was quite touching. For the first time ever, I felt a total sympathy with Laertes for his plans to murder Hamlet.

I received news today of what may well be my next theatre trip... the musical adaptation of... The Thornbirds!! My visit will be utterly post-modern ironic...NATURALLY . I suspect I shall, for the sake of tradition, attend chez mother... she and I having shared beating breasts for the Thornbird saga... and R Chamberlain in the eighties.

Notable reads for this entry is my current which is the collected diaries of Kenneth Tynan. I sincerely think he is a SERIOUS contender for a seat at my ideal dinner party. Which is some feat as it has remained unchanged for about six years! I REALLY don't know who I can oust though. CLEARLY can’t be Nature’s greatest creation ever ... and Shakespeare is unthinkable! Can I then REALLY oust Alan B?? I could I suppose just extend my party to five – but that would be CHEATING surely shirley??

I don’t know, I really just don’t know. I must give this issue more thought... one can’t rush these things can one?

Thursday, November 20

Missing Miles

I have been missing terribly Miles Kington's wonderful articles since
his passing, so last week did I a quick search of
The Independent Online to find some of his stuff that I may have

And in an ecological outrage, printed a load of his stuff off to read on my
journey home.

(Penance of one sapling planting to be carried out shortly.)

For those of you who may not have come across him, Miles Kington was
one of the Independent's regular columnists and the best thing in the
Independent for the 22 years he wrote in it. What i think I loved so much about his writing was that unusually for a satirist, his tone was utterly lacking in bitterness and instead had an apparent warmth for whatever subject he mocked.

If you did miss out on him - you really should indulge in reading some
of the links below, especially the first which is an example of his most prolific column entry - the minutes of the meetings of the 'United Deities'. I suppose they count as a series and probably/hopefully a collection of them will be put together as a book some day.

(PS. Apologies - my understanding of does not extend to how to do the 'link' thing so you can simply click and the article pops up. Copy and paste is the height of my sophistication in bloggness. )

The lord Thy God is a little likely to fly off the handle

Bah humbug its the annual Christmas card debate

Oh to be in England now the Britishness test is there

A few handy tips for the minefield of modern manners

Thursday, October 30

I knew the day was coming and I have been trying to prepare myself for it for some time.

The End of Tennant’s Days as Doctor.

Oh, that I should ever live to see it.

Foolish, vain hope that this time would never come to pass.

Love indeed IS blind.

Monday, September 1

I’ve been on a reading roll for the past five or so months. And by that I mean, everything I have been reading I have really got along well with. Most of my reads have been those that have been on my ‘Must Read’ list for several years. Ones that for one reason or another have been passed up in favour of others.

I could wax lyrical about all of them (with the exception of TWO. A.S. Byatt, Persuasion and surprisingly, Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and The Margarita – both of whom I begun twice and drifted away from twice)

The most memorable of all prize will undoubtedly go to my current, The Kite Runner. I am at page 277 and will finish it tonight. Mostly when I finish a book I enjoy I feel rather sad and ‘miss’ it for the couple of days or more it takes me to find another and hit that stage of ‘engrossment’ you get where you can’t wait for your lunch hour, journey home etc so you can start reading it again.

I am not sure whether I will experience that feeling tonight, despite the fact I think the book extraordinary and utterly engaging.

Reason being is that I have been feeling mostly pretty upset throughout reading the book. Today I cried for the fifth time. The first session I had with it, I sobbed. So much so in fact that when I got off the train in tears and got into my car, I had to sit at the wheel for five minutes purging my sadness before I was in state to start driving home! I then went to bed that night sobbing also.

I don’t think I am unusual in this respect. The Kite Runner was pressed upon me by my sister who warned me that I would find it difficult. My boss looked almost fearful when catching sight of it upon my desk and a colleague informed me he had comforted his girlfriend only a few months ago as she worked her way through it.

I’m sure most regular readers will have actually read it by now. As with most books, I am terribly behind the times. If you haven’t though, I do recommend it and a box three-ply of tissues.

Re. future reads…..I am sun-holidaying next month and require a couple of suitable books therefore. I do think that holiday books are a genre of their own and don’t have any front-running candidates at the moment. If anyone has any recommendations, I would most gratefully hear them.