Friday, 23 October 2009

Can I Play With Madness?

Have you ever been in the scenario when you're sitting on a bus with an empty seat next to you? There you are happily going about your own business, reading a book, listening to music or simply staring out the window daydreaming. But then you come to a request stop and another passenger gets on, a passenger who at first glace you know straight away isn't quite right. It's the way they bounce onto the bus and thrust their money violently at the driver before making some bird-like chirp, a whistle and then launch off down the gangway with eyes has wide as saucers. Invariably their trousers are too short, the hair is severely clipped at the side with a plume of madness on top and they carry a blue plastic shopping bag crammed with newspapers and other detritus by their side. You crane your head and look out the window, square on and you are thinking "oh please, oh no, please please don't sit next to me." Naturally, just by emitting that very thought, you become a magnet. The person whips their neck around, focuses, jerks their head to one side, barks and move towards you with great big strides. They plonk right down next to you and introduce themself, saying something like "I've got Bisto in my pants, it makes my bum itchy". Oh dearest headcase, out on day release, why do you aways find me?

I was thinking these same thoughts after I bought Sarah from finger and toes lunch from Whitecross Street market a couple of weeks ago for WMPC. But first some background. As the market has become quite a bustling centre for the local lunchtime crowd, I thought it would be nice to take Sarah down there and sample some of the finest street food that this city has to offer. Funny concept that though, street food, in London or the UK for that matter. Even funnier is the fact that there has been a lot of song and dance recently about the burgeoning pavement catering scene that seems to be developing across the land. Some mad hatter has even come up with the British Street Food Awards which was launched at Whitecross Street a few weeks ago, fully endorsed by Messrs Pierre-White and Worrell-Thompson. Brilliant. Except if you take a walk down this otherwise unassuming street in EC1 on market day, the food varies from Thai to Indian, Italian to Greek, Mexican to Brazilian and is hardly British at all. Let alone street. And what is British street food anyway? Hot chestnuts are all I can think of.

Of course, I am ranting here. Excuse me but I am finding all this hoohah slightly confusing. Nevertheless, Whitecross Street is still a great place to get grub and I left it to Sarah to decide where we should go for lunch. She settled for one of the Thai stalls going for ginger tofu and rice and I took a plastic tray of chicken massaman curry. There is quite a nice pub called The Two Brewers, the proprietors of which let you bring in your food from the market as long as you buy a pint but alas it was rather busy so we had to make do with the adjacent park. No matter, we soon found a bench with table and settled down, having a good chat as we ate. We were then joined by another luncher however, who asked if he could sit with us. Sure no problem. But shortly after getting his tupperware box out which seemed to contain nothing but dark cabbage leaves, he proceeded to start pad out a rhythm with his hands on the table surface. The alarm bells started ringing when he picked up a stick from the floor and asked "is this your stick?" and began to drum with it whilst throwing chunks of green matter into his mouth. His mobile then rang which he answered and had a conversation that went along the lines of "yeah I feel so much calmer today, the sun is shining, I don't feel angry at all". At this point, becoming slightly paranoid that I was sat opposite Jeffrey Dahmer, I started to wolf my massaman down with brute force. I don't know if Sarah was really aware of the guy sitting with us and what he was doing but I had a bad feeling about the situation so I ate my food quickly and wanted to get the hell out of there. To cover things up, I explained that the speed eating was a family thing which she accepted with good grace. Call me shallow, call me a coward, call me idiotic. I don't care, I have had my fair share of nutters on the bus so sorry Sarah if you felt that lunch was rushed somewhat, I did what I had to do. Still I bet I got your blood boiling at the start of the second paragraph though eh! ; )

Thankfully come dinner time, the office was devoid of madmen as my boss was off for the day so I was able to enjoy my meal in peace and quiet. Sarah's contribution of leek quiche with lentils went down a treat. Although Sarah had misgivings about the pastry, I felt that it looked and tasted fine. The leeks were lovely and sweet which were surrounded by a luxuriant cheesy cardigan but I must admit that the pink facon (fake bacon) didn't fool me. Not a bad substitute but not quite the same for this carnivore I'm afraid. The lentils were also very good, with creamy goats cheese, sweet roasted peppers and parsley to give them extra lift. And the balsamic vinegar still hit the spot! A really good combination.

Thanks Sarah.

Leek Quiche and Lentils with Goats Cheese, Peppers and Parsley



  1. The other day I got on the bus and it was like that scene in Forrest Gump. One guy actually had his hand on the seat next to him so I couldn't sit down.

    That guy didn't bother me too much, I seem to come across crazies all the time (sometimes at work!) and he seemed to be more at the harmless end of the scale.

    Bit of a disastrous day though, what with me forgetting to put the sour cream in the quiche, getting balsamic vinegar all over my bag, and a crazy man at the table! That's nothing compared with a couple of days later though when I fell flat on my face on the way to dinner at Fifteen...

    Glad you liked the food, anyway.

  2. I once worked in a doctors' surgery in Camden and came across some top quality nutters. My favourite was a woman who thought she was a cat. She had painted whiskers onto her face and didn't speak. She meowed. She also only ate cat food. And if things couldn't get any weirder, always walked around with a slit at the back of her skirt (showing her smelly bum) so that her tail could grow.

    She's now locked up apparently.

  3. I always attract them on National Express coaches. On really long, broken down journeys...lovely post FU

  4. I always seem to attract the crazies on the bus too. A man sat down next to me, cracked open a can of beer and then whispered sweet nothings to it.

    ...which was nothing in comparison to the man who ranted and raved about the indecencies of being in prison. Horrifying...

  5. Well done fingers and toes on the food, and nice write up Dan.

    Browners - that cat woman nutter sounds like the absolute best, what a shame she's been locked up, not entirely sure I appreciate the stinky cat bum aspect though. I work near Camden now and your right - it is full of nutters and wierdos. Amazing.

    The best crazy I remember was 'Mad Les' who lived down the end of the street when I was a kid - he had long ginger hair and a bushy beard, wore a green army style jacket and stalked around with wild, intense staring eyes. His antics?

    Among other things, he climbed on his roof throwing boxes of chocolates all over the place into peoples gardens.

    But slightly more sinister, once, when I was about seven, playing in the nearby woods alone...(No idea why I was on my own) I was startled by the crack of a stick breaking and spied 'Mad Les' loping towards me along the path, through the bushes carrying a black bag over his shoulder and talking to himself....I was terrified and hid behind a tree, as he stalked past he was saying to himself "If I dont get rid of this bag I'm going to cut my throat"!!!? God knows what was in it - I imagined a body - I ran the other way as soon as he was out of sight.
    Ahhhh the distant carefree days of childhood eh?

  6. You make me really laugh (and in a good way)