03 January, 2007

move over, Matthew

I've tried to remain loyal.

I really have.

Since my crush on my darling Matthew Macfadyen began over a year ago (oh, my goodness, we didn't go out for our anniversary! and I didn't get him anything!) I have watched his various films many, many times, his television series "Spooks", religiously kept up with the chat forum where we all discuss his eye color, his accent, and try to sound happy about his marriage to actress Keeley Hawes. But...

He hasn't released a single new thing for us to hang onto since last November, unless you count his trip to Tribeca to promote a new movie (that still hasn't been released yet!), or the odd BMW voiceover (and since we watch only the BBC which has no commercials, there was no joy for me in that). Oh, and there was the voiceover for a documentary on the Nuremberg trials. OK, he gets points for his voice. But please, we need more.

So in an effort to remain plugged-in to that segment of the British male population who are crush-worthy, I have expanded my horizons. To these two gentlemen pictured above. And instead of going for beefcake this time, I've turned to The Intellectual. The Brain, as it were. You can vote for which of these gems of genius you think should be my first choice. Is it... Bamber Gascoigne, erstwhile presenter of the fabulous television quiz show "University Challenge"?, a completely absorbing and totally English programme where everyone, even the direst losers, is much smarter than I am. Honestly, the questions that are asked! And the suave, professorial charm of Bamber himself. Last night we watched a programme on the history of "University Challenge" (the English love to make programmes about their programmes and we love to watch them). So much wonderful language! It turns out that in this country, "flannel" can be a verb as well as a noun, meaning to mess about, I gather? And did you know they are "pink-coloured spectacles", not "rose-colored glasses"? These are discoveries I adore.

But my point is, while we'd watched "University Challenge" itself a lot, our experience of it was always with the rather surly, judgmental and curmudgeonly (but brilliant) Jeremy Paxman as host. Now my friend Bex from my screenwriting course is a producer on Jeremy's news programme "Newsnight" and she reports that he really is difficult. I can't have a crush on a difficult person.

Then there is Candidate Number Two, Matt Harvey, a radio personality also on BBC Radio 4, among other accomplishments. Yesterday evening as I was carefully negotiating traffic in Knightsbridge on my way home from the grocery store (yes! I drove all by myself! and no mishaps), I made the tactical error of turning on the radio. I know, I know, I was taking a risk in spending any brain power on anything, even turning on a radio, besides driving, and then I really got into trouble because Matt Harvey was a guest on the very entertaining Radio 4 programme "Word of Mouth." His topic yesterday was "Misused Words of the Year," which could have been clever enough just as that, except that Matt went the extra kilometre and spoke the entirety of his text in misused expressions! As in, "... which begs the question: why do so many people misuse the expression 'begs the question'? It does not mean 'raises the question..." Would you believe that there is an actual website devoted entirely to clearing up the mistaken usage of "begs the question"? You simply must go on it. I have wasted so much time on that site that could be applied to writing my blog. Hmm, perhaps that's a good thing. And then there's "World Wide Words,", whose existence alone proves, should I have needed bolstering on this subject, that England is filled with many, many people smarter than I am. A bit demoralising, but enough good fun at the same time that it's almost all right. My last suggestion for time-eating websites (it's completely addictive) is "Straight Dope," whose tagline is "Fighting Ignorance Since 1973 (it's taking longer than we thought."

The problem with television programmes, television presenters, radio shows and websites like these is that I'm smart enough to enjoy them, but I'm also just smart enough to see the enormous gap between the intelligence of the participants and my own! It's the sad reality of my cooking skills as well: I can appreciate wonderful food, and also the seismic, yawning space between truly inspired cooking and my own. Ah well, at least I'm a good audience.

But I digress. My point is, these men are definitely crush-worthy. And you should enjoy them too. I'm secure enough in my relationships that I can share.

Oooh, on a completely different and quite disgusting note, guess who John and I ran into in South Audley Street the other day? David Gest! Eeeew! We don't watch reality shows, and I know he's been on one of them recently, but in the flesh (I hesitate to use that word because of the awful images it conjures up) he's even scarier than he is on the printed or televised page. But it was fun to see a celebrity.

Not much else is going on. Anna, Becky, Avery and I were blissfully reunited yesterday and got to hear lots of good stories and see excellent pictures of their African safari odyssey over Christmas. I was sort of overwhelmed with a feeling of luck, and warmth, that in less than a year we have friends to miss, and to welcome home, and reunions to look forward to. So to celebrate, we kidnapped Anna and kept her overnight, watching the two girls turn my peaceful sitting room into Sylvanian mania. (rather a long post to get through to the part about Sylvanians, but hang in there!) Do you know what it's like when Sylvania has a snowstorm? It turns out that many, many packing peanuts, scraps of tissue paper and torn-up cotton balls fill the air. And the floor. And the bottoms of your socks. Sigh. But they had fun. And meanwhile I created, sort of accidentally, an amazingly simple and yummy thing:

Instant Tomato Ambrosia (sauce? soup? glaze?)

lots of good-quality fresh tomatoes that are just a little too old
olive oil
sea salt

Place all these things together in a saucepan, adjusting the amount of oil and salt to the quantity of tomatoes (I had perhaps a pound, and used 3 tablespoons oil and a couple of teaspoons salt). Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, crushing the tomatoes with a potato masher. Then strain through a colander into another saucepan, discard the seeds and skin, and... decide what to do with it. The glossy, golden shimmer of the olive oil against the deep fresh red of the tomatoes are beautiful, and the tangy, salty flavor just ambrosia. I think it could have been soup, if I cooked it down to be thicker. Or you could add fresh herbs and drink it, or you could add cream and it could be sauce for pasta. But I had two hungry children and ourselves to feed instantly, so I added a can of commercial plum tomatoes and some parmesan and it was spaghetti sauce. But that first spoonful of satiny flavor made me realize, sadly, how far even good tinned tomatoes are from the Real Thing.

John is out looking at real estate, and Avery's afternoon at Anna's her just turned into a sleepover, so I shall go make a marinade for my pork ribs and think about a side dish... or maybe I'll just look at my new crushes and try to choose...


cabadair said...

I really love your blog, Kristen, having been directed to it from laraland. The first picture you have is of the lovely Andrew Marr, I think. We are all lucky to have him, he's a national treasure. Please add him to your list! http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/presenters/andrew_marr.shtml

Sue7 said...

You're right, Helen. Andrew 'the ears & arms' Marr is in that photo but it has the wrong label. He used to be the Westminster reporter for BBC News.

Dead Ringers also used to do a mean impression of him. He's quite a character!

..........and speaking of Bamber Gascoigne, did you see Mark Gatiss portray him in the wonderful James McAvoy's film Starter for Ten?

I only dip into your blog when I get an alert in my Google box so you had better not forsake Matthew for too long!

In my experience, you can go off someone you see too much of. Matthew is rare and exquisite.........and maturing rather nicely !

Kristen In London said...

Thanks to both of you! And Sue7, don't worry, Matthew will always be special to me!