Monday, 29 November 2010

Dreaming Of Apples

Woke up with an inexplicably strong need to have an apple, but I thought it would be too weird to eat an apple at 4.30am, so rolled around wide awake until the alarm rang at 6.30am, when I rushed right into the kitchen and bit into a gloriously crunchy, juicy Braeburn

And the pear - my breakfast, together with a second apple. 

Friday, 26 November 2010


For a special event happening soon, and also appearing in the upcoming issue of The Great Unwashed

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

In The Bathroom

Thursday, 18 November 2010

And Now, For Something Completely Different

Geffrye Museum, July 2010

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Best Price

Warning, gentle readers - This post will most likely turn out to be a massive rant which includes the kind of swearing a Russian stevedore would blush at. It may or may not also include jibes at Barbour jackets, tourists, overpriced coffee and of course, Uggs. Look away NOW if you think you'll be offended. 

Things around here have been fairly hectic recently, which is why I haven't posted much. I've had a semi-permanent spot at the Tea Rooms since the end of October, and I enjoy being there a lot more than most of the other craft fairs I've done this year, so it is fairly likely I will return there next year.

However, the one thing that puts a damper on it, are the customers. Well, the non-customers, actually. What really pisses me off is that fact that, because the Tea Rooms is billed as a 'Brick Lane market', the people who shop there often expect ridiculous discounts, or just want things for stupidly cheap prices. I've tried to grow a thick skin and just brush it all off, but a couple of experiences this past Sunday really got to me, and I figure if I let it all out into the interwubs, then I can let go of my rage and behave in a civilised manner next weekend. 

Anyway, incident one - Home Counties* family look at a shawl I have on sale (but not SALE!) for £10. I'm hiding behind my display stand, keeping a surreptitious eye/ ear on them. Teenage daughter is trying on the shawl, tying it various ways. I don't expect them to actually buy it, because, let's face it, they're just here for the 'Brick Lane Experience'. Then, I heard Daddy saying to darling daughter 'Ask her what her best price is, go on, ask her what her best price is'. 

Seriously, What. The. Fuck?! My best price is a fucking knuckle sandwich to your teeth, how about that? I'll throw in a set of knuckle-dusters to the groin for free! 

Darling daughter ended up deciding against the shawl, which left me both relieved and disappointed. Relieved, because I didn't have to yell in public, and disappointed, because I wanted to tell them that my 'best price' was the price on the tag, no more, definitely no less.

They then proceeded to browse the stall across from me, Daddy picked up a globe costing £8, and of course, used his favourite pick-up line on the stallowner. He, of course, has been dealing with these idiots for a lot longer, and told Daddy in bored manner '£5'. That's a huge percentage off, and you'd think Daddy would be pleased with that. Guess what happened? 

'How about £4 for it instead?'

How about a bull crushes your two Land Rovers and shits all over your Barbour jackets instead, darling Daddy?

*Barbour jackets (on both Mummy and Daddy), public school accent, puffy hair, puffed out chest, general smug demeanour. 

Incident two - similar incidents have occurred before, but, this just joined forces with everything else to help turn the day into a huge turdball.

Two tourists - short shiny plastic jackets, huge-arse cameras (possibly more on that later), hyena giggle. They look around at my display, spy the Cat Power! postcards, and shriek 'Ohhmygodthisissonice!' Which of course pleases me, because I am vain and neurotic and constantly seek the approval of others. Why the fuck do you think I have this blog?

So, you'd think the fact they said 'Ohhmygodthisissonice!' is a good sign, which will lead to them buying the card and paying me with cash money for a card with a cute kitty and rainbows on it, right? You're so innocent. 

Hyena girls: 'How much is this card?'

Me (aka dark mass of seething hatred for humanity, but still with a smile on my face): 'They're £1 each.'

Hyena girls (faces fall, eyebrows rise): 'Oh' (puts card down, exit stage left).

Why does this piss me off? Because the same thing happens so often - like card, exclaim loudly, ask price, don't want to buy card anymore.

Dudes, I know £1 for a postcard is about 70 pence more than a postcard of the London Eye, and I'm not about forcing people to buy my shit (I don't even like trying to make small talk with potential customers cos I always think they'll think I'm just trying to sell them stuff. It's also why I prefer to hide behind a huge stand instead of standing in front of my stall). BUT, you obviously like it, and I know because you said to your friend 'I really like this card' or 'Ohhmygodthisissonice!' or something else very similar, with some variations. 

But come on, out of all the money you spent at Brick Lane that day, my postcard isn't worth £1 to you? How much do you expect it for? 10p? Free? It costs me about 70p to produce each one, and after paying rent on my stall and bus fares and everything else, it's not like I'm even making any sort of profit from these cards. I'm just wanna get some fucking rainbow cats out there!

Now, I know that most people associate 'buying things from a market' with 'having to haggle for the best price', probably because some guidebooks told them to. But, the Tea Rooms is quite obviously NOT a flea market/ car boot sale situation. There's quite a bit of rent to pay, plus we have to spend hours making and/or searching for the items we sell, then cleaning them, often researching their history, and ferrying them to and from the stall. Even if we do make any sort of profit at the end of a weekend, it may simply mean we're making 50p an hour. That's waaaaaayy lower than minimum wage. 

So if we ask you for £10 for that framed print, it's not like we're trying to rip you off. We're just trying to make the rent, and be able to keep doing this next week so you can gawk and bring your huge cameras here to capture some of that exciting (but not really) 'Brick Lane Atmosphere'. Will that measly £2 you've saved by haggling with us change your life in any way? Will you give it to charity, or even one of the homeless guys shambling around asking for change?

Another thing - I wonder if Home Counties Daddy dares ask the checkout chick at Waitrose what her 'best price' is when paying for his weekly groceries. Does his daughter go to H&M, pick up a blouse priced at £12.99, and then tells them she only wants to pay £7 for it? Somehow, I suspect they don't, because that would be so declassé of them. Obviously, we're not 'proper' shops though, and therefore our prices don't deserve any sort of respect. I wonder if they ask the manager at their local Barbour outlet (is there such a thing as a Barbour outlet?)  for a discount? 

If you're going to say 'But the customer is always right', then don't say it to me, because lucky you, it's very likely you've been fortunate enough never to have been on the retail front-line. If however, you want to send me stories of stupid/annoying customers you've encountered, then I'd love to hear them. Okay, rant ends, now. Thanks for putting up with this incoherent stream of rage, but I do feel slightly better now. 

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Bleeding Ghoulies

While the cool kids were out trick-or-treating this past Saturday night, I was holed up in my kitchen, cackling in glee as I knelt in front of the oven. The reason? I was waiting for my little ghosties and jack-o'-lantern cakes to come out so I could devour them. (But the real reason is that I'm way too uncool to be invited to any Halloween parties, and I suffer from acute social phobia.)
These little cakes are an homage to the Satan cakes Googy and I used to bake while we lived in the Pony Club - so named because they were devilishly delish. They're gooey chocolate cakes with a spoonful of Nutella hidden in the middle, and a far cry from the sickly, vapid fairy cakes supermarkets tend to offer. 
I've been sworn unto death not to reveal the secret of Satan cakes, though, and these ghoulish cakes were the result of me throwing some ingredients together, so I haven't got a recipe for you. What this post is, instead, is a kind of 'how-to assemble your own bleeding ghostie cake'. 

The silicon ghost and jack-'o-lantern moulds came from Sainsburys, but it's not a big deal if you can't find them. You can always bake them as regular cupcakes, then draw scary faces on afterwards.

You'll need:
Ghost/ Jack-o'-lantern silicon moulds (if you can find them)
Cupcake liners
Your favourite chocolate cake recipe
Your favourite red jam (I used a raspberry conserve)
100gm white chocolate
50ml milk (I used vanilla-flavoured soy milk*)
1. Preheat your oven if needed, and grease the silicon moulds. Make up the chocolate cake batter.

2. Drop a couple of tablespoons of cake batter into each mould, then add a teaspoon (or 2) of jam on top. Add more cake batter until each mould is about 3/4 full.

3. Bake for time required. Remove cakes from moulds and let them cool.

4. Once cool, start preparing the white chocolate ganache for the top. Finely chop up the white chocolate, place it into a heatproof bowl and heat up the milk. Pour the milk over the white chocolate and stir until you get a smooth, homogeneous mixture. Pour or drizzle the mixture over each cake, leaving a thin layer of ganache on top. 

5. Try and wait til the chocolate cools before eating. Watch as they magically disappear into your tummy! Spooky!

*The combination of white chocolate and vanilla-flavoured soy milk makes the ganache taste like condensed milk. I'm a fan.