Fake Nachos

Apparently these days it’s hard for people to figure out anymore between what’s real and what’s just journalistic fantasy.

Neil Armstrong Convinced Moon Landing Was A Fake,” I said as quick as a flash to Guido in bed late last night. I was acting like the finger on the pulse on-line news junkie I’d clearly turned into.

I looked out at the twinkling stars through our loft window. Maybe that giant leap into lunar dust wasn’t as big as everyone thought it was at the time.

“Well if anyone should know then Neil would,” said Guido.

I scrolled down to the next factual news item on my iPad. Whatever was breaking I was going to be all over it.

Woman Grows Third Breast,” I said as a matter of urgency. Female readers please take note.

I wondered how that might be possible but then I saw the very convincing photographic evidence. It was undisputable. Wearing a standard bra was certainly going to be challenging for her.

“I think some sad and lonely guys surfing the net might get pretty excited by that,” said Guido barely looking up from the Tex-Mex cookery book he had propped on his hairy knees.

I kept scrolling.

Kim Jong-un Voted Sexiest Man Alive,” I said. I re-read that headline a couple of times just to make sure I’d read it right the first time.

I looked at Kim’s picture. Hmm. You’ve really got to be into leaders who want to rule the world. Personally, I think you’ll have to count me out.

I could tell by the way Guido was fiercely flicking the pages of his cookbook that something far more important was running through his brain than the sexual magnetism of a despot.

“Utterly fake,” he muttered as he stared at a recipe, “you call this cooking?” Never before had I heard so much concentrated tutting in the space of only a minute. “I mean, just look at this,” he said holding the book a thumb print from my face, “Nachos in 5 Minutes, have you ever heard anything so completely ridiculous?”

“Utterly unbelievable,” I said. I even tutted in a display of total solidarity but frankly I was still struggling with the concept of living my life with three breasts. However, despite the fact that it was gone midnight the thought of melted cheese over potato chips in only five minutes was definitely appealing. I didn’t care if it was fake or not. Hey, count me in.

“There’s no chopped tomato, herbs, spices, Scottish Cheddar, or even a fresh mashed avocado.” There was another loud tut. “Anybody who makes food like that must be mad or desperate, or both.”

For some strange reason I found myself thinking about the sex god now known as Kim Jong-un again. I blinked. Throw in some nachos and I still wouldn’t consider it.

By the way. Here’s the recipe. Fake or not.

Nachos In 5 Minutes (Unbelievable But Completely True)

Open one jar of shop bought salsa sauce and one jar of shop bought guacamole. Tip the contents of a large packet of Nachos into a heat resistant bowl and sprinkle with grated cheese, some pickled jalapeño peppers (from a jar), and a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (from a jar). Melt the cheese under grill for about 4 minutes.

Navel-gazing

Naval-gazing:

Dictionary definition. Noun. “Self indulgent or excessive contemplation of oneself or a single issue, at the expense of a wider view.”

Jean-Paul’s definition. Verb. “Self indulgent or excessive examination of my husband’s oddly shaped belly-button, at the expense of any other parts of his anatomy.”

There are very few times when there’s anything worth watching on Saturday morning TV. It’s moments like those, with an opened packet of Oreos in one hand and a cup of hot frothed milk for dunking in the other, that God created our sofa. From my favourite position on it, propped up on a lumpy cushion, I get a really terrific bird’s-eye view of Guido’s body laying on the rug. I particularly like it if he’s only got on his underwear whilst he’s energetically pumping stomach crunches. It’s weirdly hypnotic.

“Fifty-seven, fifty-eight, fifty-nine,” said Guido counting them out this morning.

I was feeling exhausted just watching. As you probably guess I’m not a stomach crunch kind of a guy. I tried it once and I wasn’t able to get my head off the floor.

“What happens if you lose count?” I said peeling back the top of one of my cookies and slowly sucking the white centre off with my lips, “do you have to start all over again?” I asked optimistically.

“Sixty, sixty-one, sixty-two,” said Guido completely ignoring me.

I got myself comfy. I even put my glasses on so I could get to see better. Here’s a little tip for you. Magnified vision is vital if you want to properly examine any part of a guy’s hairy anatomy. And I’ve got to tell you, the view I had was better than a sun set on St Paul’s Cathedral Dome on a mid-Summer evening.

Today, as I was feeling even more bored than usual, I started mentally scoring his bits out of 10. Arms and thighs are exemplary. Big tick. I’d say 9/10 (though I suspect it’s because of all the chopping and squatting he does.) Abs are a tight six pack. Another happy endorsement. Anyone who sails past sixty stomach crunches without requiring an oxygen mask deserves 10/10 in my book. I accept his knees are a bit on the dodgy side, so a 3/10, but hey nobody’s perfect. It is however, when you home in on Guido’s belly-button things begin to go decidedly down hill. And when I say downhill, what I mean is turn odd.

I consider my own belly-button one of my more successful attributes. It’s a perfectly formed aperture which is just big enough to comfortably fit a M&M into it. Guido’s looks like his has just been severed and should still actually be connected to somebody. I got on my knees beside him to get a better look at it. Surely it couldn’t be as bad as I remembered it. However, being totally impartial on the scoreboard front, he was hovering just below zero on account of poor aesthetics.

“Eighty-eight, what the hell are you looking at, eighty-nine?” asked Guido still crunching.

“I’m just scoring your belly-button out of ten and it’s not looking good,” I said. Unfortunately just as I said that a small piece of Oreo cookie crumb landed in it, disappearing inside.

Irate:

Dictionary definition. Adjective. “Feeling or characterised by great anger.” 

Jean-Paul’s definition. Verb. “Feeling or characterised by biscuit or cookie throwing.”

A classic

Earlier this week Guido got super excited. Our local bar is a pub called The Garrison. Let’s just say it’s situated in the better end of Bermondsey (if indeed there is a better end). Lots of city types hang out in it. There’s a tiny cinema downstairs for hire and we’d been invited round to watch a private movie screening.

“What are they showing?” I yelled from the bath tub.

“I’m not sure,” said Guido, “but there will be gastro food options. And, there’s alcohol on tap. Does it really matter?”

Personally I’m not a big fan of cinemas, no matter what their size. My experience is that they’re full of people who can eat hotdogs even faster than I do. Guido loves cinemas. He loves the whole ritual. Queuing for tickets. Queuing for popcorn. Finding the row of our seats. Then listening to me moan for the next two and a half hours because the woman in front of me has enormous hair. He especially loves old fashioned cinemas like the Curzon in the West End. In fact, he asked me out there on our very first date but when we turned up it was full so we went back to his loft and, because we had nothing better to do, we had sex all night just to pass the time. I’m only guessing, but I think that was probably a lot more fun than My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

“I very well may regret asking you this but what’s your worst case scenario movie wise?” asked Guido.

“Well,” I said, “I’d hate anything which involved any kind of a sing along soundtrack or compulsory audience participation.”

“I see,” he said. He stuck his head around the bathroom door. I could tell he looked worried. I think he thought it was probably going to be Mamma Mia.

“Nor am I a fan of those movies where more than 90 percent of the cast end up being hacked to death with a big machete whilst on a remote camping trip, nor anything involving Hugh Grant naked.”

“I see,” Guido said again. He sat down on the edge of the bath. “So what about your best case scenario?”

“Oh anything foreign, as long as I can keep up, I’m a real sucker for subtitles.”

“Hey, maybe it will be my favourite classic,” he said. I knew what was coming. “Jaws.”

“Oh please no more Jaws.” Even sitting in bath water was making me nervous thinking about it. Guido and I must have watched Jaws, ten, eleven times together and every time he says exactly the same things at exactly the same times.

1. That woman running into the sea gets all eaten up.

2. This scene coming up is where a decomposed head pops out of a submerged hull, and;

3. Yeah, they definitely need A BIGGER BOAT!

If you ever make it to The Garrison I can highly recommend the smoked mac n’ cheese with skinny fries but remember to thoroughly brush your teeth before bedtime.

“If you don’t get into our bed right this instant ” said Guido, “you’re going to regret it.” There was a short thoughtful pause. “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.”

I flossed as fast as I could. I guess we’ll always have Southwark.

Nude

Last night our friends Gary and Ted came round to the café after closing time to eat linguine and play poker. Just to clarify. The linguine and the sauce was homemade. The poker was much more messy. Gary and Ted shuffle ruthlessly and constantly win. Ted makes Cool Hand Luke look like a pathetic loser.

“Did you know,” I said, “being naked surrounded by a group of people makes you feel good?”

Everybody stopped staring at their cards. If you’re ever looking for a conversation stopper, do try it.

“Honest to God,” I said, “I heard it on the radio earlier whilst I was in the bath.”

There’s been a serious study. It’s been published in (and I’m not making this up) the Journal of Happiness Studies. They’ve come to the conclusion that taking off your clothes around strangers is probably good for you.

“You’re making this baloney up,” said Ted. I could tell by his nonchalant use of the word baloney that he had the makings of a great hand.

“No, honestly,” I said. I made a cross my heart sign with my spoon. “Anyway, if it’s in the Journal of Happiness then it’s got to be true, right?”

I’ve never actually read anything published in that Journal before but I definitely do like the sound of it. The next time I’m having a down day I’m going to look it up and start thumbing through it enthusiastically to see where I’ve been going wrong. Putting clothes on in the morning, by the sounds of it.

“Apparently 850 British people were asked to fill out an online survey,” I said, “and it was found that those who spent more time naked were happier with their bodies.”

I thought this was terrific news. Who cares that the rest of the world is going down the pan. Just strip off and everything will be fine. Shout it from the roofs I say!

“Wow,” said Gary. “Perhaps the next time we come over to play cards everybody should take all their clothes off before the first round.” He paused. I think he was weighing up the pros and cons of how this might affect any winning streak. “Though I do realise this could make it difficult to concentrate if any one of us was holding a Straight Flush in their hand at the time.”

“It’s possible,” said Guido sagely, “that the people who were surveyed were happier with their bodies in the first place so were more likely to spend time naked, and it’s not that being naked made them any more happier.”

I don’t know about you but I had to get Guido to repeat that sentence three times before I understood what the hell he was going about. Maybe it’s just me, but I think he should just stick to linguine.

“Okay,” I said, “it’s fine for you, Mr Einstein with a six-pack. But what about the rest of  us who spend half our lives on The Banana Diet, and the other half sucking everything in.”

Relax. There is light at the end of this tunnel of nudity. Apparently the findings also suggested that seeing other people naked could be even more beneficial than being seen naked yourself. A brief surf of the net, for purely scientific purposes, confirms this is correct.

These guys at The Happiness Institute really know what they’re talking about.

Warm like the sun

“When I was a little kid I used to be terrified of the dark,” said Guido tightly tucked up next to me in our bed last night.

As he is now just short of about seven feet tall this is a very hard concept to get your head round. I suppose he was tiny once upon a time. As I’ve said to his mother Rosa, many many times before, it must’ve been a gynaecological miracle just giving birth to him. After all of those hours of squeezing and panting I think they should’ve erected a commemorative wall plaque at the hospital.

“I’d cry out and my Pappa would come up and turn the lamp on and he’d try to reassure me that everything was really alright.”

“I can imagine Juan bounding upstairs,” I said, “what did he do, pacify you with a dummy dunked in sangria?”

“No, silly,” said Guido. “He’d lay me down and tell me to close my eyes and imagine I was on the hot sand on our favourite beach just outside of Malaga. Then he’s ask me if I could feel the glow from the sun and I’d say yes and he’d pull the blanket up around my neck and switch out the lamp and then everything would seem to be okay again.”

“That’s so sweet,” I said, because it was. “Mental imagery can be such a powerful tool you know. I use it every time I look at myself naked in the mirror. I just pretend I’m Joe Wicks. If you threw in a wok and a high protein stir fry, frankly you’d be hard pushed to tell us apart.”

“Weren’t you afraid of the dark?” he asked.

“Not really no,” I said, “I was far too busy trying to drown out the sound of my mother chasing my father around our house with a frying pan. They spent almost all their brief and deliriously happy marriage trying to kill one another.”

Suddenly outside there was the sound of an ear drum exploding bang. It was loud enough to make Guido leap from bed to look out of the window and drag all of the blankets across our bedroom floor with him.

“What on earth was that?” he said.

“Oh, it was probably just Ethel in the laundrette next door. One of her barrels of hooch explodes from time to time depending on gas content. Either that or it was one of the night buses backfiring. Come back to bed would you?” I said, “and bring the bedclothes with you, its freezing in here.”

It was very cold in London last night.

He climbed back in beside me.

“You feel like an iceberg,” Guido said. So he snuggled up behind me and put his big hairy arms around my waist and nestled his chin on my shoulder. “Is that better?”

“Yeah,” I said. And I made the same, mmmmh…, kind of moan I usually only specially reserve for when I’m eating a slice of his homemade shortbread. It’s crumbly with a chewy chocolate and caramel topping on it. It’s totally orgasmic. I’ll divulge his recipe someday and you’ll all realise exactly what’s been missing from your lives all these years.

“Close your eyes,” Guido said, “and imagine you’re laying on a hot sandy beach in Andalucía. Can you feel the glow?”

I closed my eyes. Let’s just say I could definitely feel something.

Blue Monday

It may have escaped you but, Friday’s date was the thirteenth. To top it all Monday’s going to be what’s statistically the most depressing day of the year. They don’t call it Blue Monday for nothing. So to combat this double whammy, this perfect storm of worldwide malcontent, I decided to put on a happy face.

I got out of bed Friday and looked in the bathroom mirror. I’ve got to tell you it wasn’t a pretty sight. Despite the application of copious amounts of gel I had a tuft of hair which stayed stubbornly standing erect on top of my head like some sort of radio antenna. I smiled my best smile and got dressed. It was grey and wet and miserable outside and, although only about ten paces from our loft to the café backdoor, I still got soaked.

“Hello husband!” I waved cheerily, as I dripped all over the place, “How’s my culinary lover this fine and glorious morning?”

Guido was standing frowning infront of his chopping board with a big carving knife in his hand. He started to ruthlessly stab an aubergine. In my head I heard the violins from the soundtrack of the movie Psycho. Never before had I felt such sympathy for a vegetable. I moved swiftly on and threw open the kitchen door.

“Good morning London!” I yelled at the customers.

Everybody stared at me grumpily. Nobody said anything. Okay, I thought, I’m definitely sensing bad karma. I wanted to reassure them. Today wasn’t that bad, just wait until you get a load of Blue Monday. I sat down in the nearest booth opposite the customer I affectionately call The Lady With Bushy Eyebrows. This is because she does have big eyebrows which are only ever visible from over the top of her newspaper, even when she is simultaneously eating breakfast and sipping coffee. She makes Freda Kahlo looked plucked. I distinctly heard her say the words, oh no, as I sat down.

Guido has two nineteen year old identical twins work for him. One helps out front, the other out back. They both have names but I can never tell which is which so to make it easier for myself I only ever refer to them as, The Twins.

“Lovely to see you Twin!” I said jauntily. He sauntered over warily with a notepad. “I’ll have a slice of toasted happiness and a cup of positivity please!”

He seemed startled by my liberal use of exclamation marks. “Have you just taken a pill?” he asked, curling his top lip. I shook my head still smiling.

“No,” I said, “But to keep this real I’ll have a mug of hot water with a slice of lemon, and a banana please.” I mean, what better day to reboot The Banana Diet? I tapped Freda Kahlo’s newspaper.

“Today’s Friday 13th,” I said flashing my teeth, “traditionally bad luck. Personally I blame The Last Supper.”

Freda raised her big eyebrows, “Yeah,” she said, “Just be careful you don’t get run over by an oncoming bus today,” which I thought was particularly caring of her.

Later in bed Guido told me The Twins had grassed me up and that my happy disposition was scaring the customers.

“If you keep this demeanor up through Blue Monday,” he said, “I’ll have to lock you in a cupboard until Tuesday.”

I think he meant it.

Where’s the beef?

Paul Newman once famously said that the reason he remained faithful to his wife Joanne Woodward was his discerning taste. “Why eat hamburger,” he said, “when you’ve got steak at home?”

There is a point to this story.

All this week I’ve been in Sheffield working for a very demanding client. For the purposes of anonymity, and so I still eventually get my pay check, let’s call her Cybill. Against my better judgement I’d agreed to style everything in Cybill’s home hot pink. Apparently her ex-husband had hated pink. I was happy to help out but the finished look was always going to be like living inside a human sized version of Barbie’s Camper.

“My ex-husband Simon had an expensive love of silk ties,” said Cybill, “he had every design you could possibly think of and some of them were even pink.”

You know sometimes being an interior designer is just like being a shrink.

“And then when I found out he’d cheated on me I calmly took out a pair of scissors from the kitchen drawer and I went up to the bedroom and I chopped up every tie he ever owned into tiny little pieces.” She smiled as she said that. “And then when I found out who he was having the affair with, well, I went straight round to her home and threw a tin of pink emulsion over the roof of her car.

“Really?” I said.

I didn’t know whether to call the Police and report the whacko or just paint faster.

“My ex-husband was not what I’d call a dependable man.” Cybill looked around the room and let out a big sigh. “But pink is such cathartic colour, don’t you agree?”

Fortunately I’d been staying in a hotel nearby where nothing was pink. It was mahogany brown with tired looking purple tones and a weird sticky green stain on the carpet right where you’d put your feet when you stepped out of the bed. There was also a completely useless throw over the mattress which, when I rolled over in the middle of the night, it wrapped me up tight like one of Harry Houdini’s old straightjackets. Depending on how many shades of pink my day had been, I’d sit in the hotel bar before dinner. I’d have a warm Diet Coke and, to alleviate thoughts of psychotic Cybill, flick through a tattered visitors’ guide of the Yorkshire Dales. Then l’d drink four large glasses of dry white wine in quick succession, one right after the other.

On Thursday night I called Guido on my mobile. I’d never been so pleased to hear his voice. Apparently the heating in the loft had broken down again and he was in bed still wearing all of his clothes plus a balaclava on his head.

One of the things I love about Guido is his dependability. If there was ever a gas explosion in the café you’d find him standing upright once the dust settled still pickling a plum.

“What’d you have for dinner?” he asked.

“A hamburger,” I said.

“Well.” he said “when you get back here I’ll knock up a steak au poivre for you as a treat.”

I switched out the lamp and lay in bed thinking about pink bedrooms and Paul Newman. Trust me. I couldn’t wait to get home.