Agentnaz's Blog

Modern Prufrock. Conjurer of Woes and Worries.

Category: Television

Food

In the back of my mind there is ‘Generation Game’ style conveyor belt laden with food that revolves endlessly, night and day.
Where it comes from and where it goes I’ll never know, but it never stops.
Any time I look quiet or pensive, like I’m contemplating great philosophical matters, I’m probably just watching a lasagne go past.
I’m always hungry.
Food has become such an obsession in our time. Our consumption has reached obscene levels of excess.
Television has been overrun by programs about food. Sometimes they are soft, hazy, day-dream affairs with voyeuristic scenes of food being sensually massaged around the work surface. They exist in an alternate reality where cooking takes place in a timeless, uninterrupted trance, with no one storming in to angrily demand ‘where is my football shirt I can’t find my football shirt YOU must have put it somewhere now my life is ruined’ or to simply reduce you to tears with ceaseless, screeching demands for a fifth Peppa Pig yoghurt.
The other kind of programme is the extreme opposite. ‘COOKING DOES NOT GET TOUGHER THAN THIS’ we are threatened. Masterchef brings us scenes where food is not lovingly prepared with care and attention but frantically thrown together, laced with stress and anxiety. When their time is up the contestant is forced to stand by and watch whilst the judges rile themselves up, sneering and leering over the plate like they’re about to gang-rape a risotto.

Heston Blumenthal

Heston Blumenthal

The most notable by far though must be Heston Blumenthal, who inhabits an entire genre, if not world, of his own. Never has there been such a focused, determined and vile display of waste and squander. The effort and lengths to which Blumenthal goes to find new ways to turn food into extravagant spectacles of excess is shocking. Some say it’s the space between cooking and art. I say not all spaces need to be filled. How disdainful must one be of poor, starving people to put on public display a meal that is so big its not actually possible to eat it? There’s also a touch of the macabre about creating a dish out of various animals that have been stuffed with one another. A duck that’s been stuffed with a goose that’s been stuffed with a pig which was once beaten about the head with a frightened turbot. I thought I’d give it a go. But I couldn’t quite break down my own culinary inhibitions and the closest I got was a huge cake, that when you opened it up, was full of fucking cake.
As a parent of young children I find our mealtimes are in danger of being over saturated with urgency. When I was growing up my parents worked a lot and meal times became a scattered, indifferent exercise in apathy. Vegetables became a foreign concept and potato waffles, burgers and beans moved in to rule my appetite. We ate separately and at odd times. The worst thing that arose from this was not malnutrition -it was the fact that no one talked to each other.
One thing I value amongst the most precious and worthwhile aspects of family life now is the simple act of sitting at the same table at the same time over the same meal. It’s not just to teach my youngest to use her knife and fork. Its a chance to come together as a family and share time together. That time isn’t always harmonious but we will keep trying.

There’s no pleasure to be gleaned from eating food that’s been prepared under stress. I find just as little enjoyment in eating food that’s been prepared as a novelty, or as some sort of joke, as you can never be too sure who the joke is meant to be on.

It’s fine to be creative, even innovative with food. But with so many starving in the world, with poverty on our own doorstep, someone should tell him. ‘Heston – don’t play with your food’

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Tv

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Big Brother is on the television again. The concept of the show has strayed far beyond the philosophical exploration of the Orwellian idea of Panopticon Surveillance.

I’ve got a few ideas for gameshows.

You’ve Crossed The Lion!
Contestants are put up in luxury accommodation with a gourmet shopping budget, all the entertainment facilities anyone could ever wish for. Every Friday night a wild mountain lion is released into the house and contestants have to do their utmost to goad, bait and generally irritate the lion to breaking point. Any surviving housemates will be considered ‘winners’, all of whom will gain automatic entry to the lottery for Medical Treatment. Animal rights will of course be of paramount importance. If at any time the animal becomes too distressed, a trained marksman will be on hand to shoot the contestants. All of them.

Bear With Me!
Contestants are filmed going about their daily lives, sharing their their working day, their social lives, their thoughts and private moments – all whilst tethered to an angry grizzly bear. At the end of the series, contestants will be invited to reveal how they have discovered ‘who they are’, and an exclusive magazine photo shoot with the bear, who they will no doubt have married soon after the show has aired.

GangBand!
Each episode a fresh new boyband is dropped into some of the toughest gang warfare zones of Mexico, Columbia and China, armed only with a rudimentary introduction to street-slang, some cosmetic products, and a Hello Kitty Beatbox. They will have to decide whether they will face the terrifying initiation rites of joining one of the gangs, survive as a GangBand in their own right, or bring peace to the region with their unique musical talents.

I’m awaiting feedback from the television companies.

Good Morning Tombliboos

Right now I’m being subjected to a very (VERY) early morning screening of an ‘In the Night Garden’ DVD. It’s a fantastic program because it’s the only thing in the world that snatches my daughters attention away from me for a random few seconds at a time.If I suffered from micro napping this would be perfect. I could sleep every third or fourth second and pretend to be interested in Macca Pacca washing his sodding stones in between. We’d all be happy.

Unfortunately I don’t suffer from an exotic sleeping disorder. Just a mild form of modern nihilism, and just generally being a parent. There’s also the cat, but that’s a whole separate tome of misery on its own, on which I’ll elaborate another time.

I have not slept much in the last couple of years. I have a 19 month old daughter.
I’m beginning to think these two facts may be connected somehow…

When you really need sleep, there’s rarely just one thing that prevents you from doing so. Things conspire and unite against you, to ensure your sleepless night is written in stone before u even climb the stairs.
Mostly my daughter, often the cat, sometimes my own frantic inner dialogue.
Research apparently shows that lack of sleep can have a profound psychological effect and has even been linked to mental illness. Logical reasoning, mental arithmetic, decision making and memory all suffer demonstrably from lack of sleep.
So exactly how is one meant to function without sleep? There’s plenty of advice (and products) geared towards helping you get more sleep, but what about when that’s all a pile of crap because you live your life in the real world and not in a bloody magazine rack? What’s really lacking is some good solid advice about how not to lose your job when you can’t speak without dribbling, how to walk to work with your eyes closed and above all, how not to go mental and kill everyone.

I try to snatch any quiet moment I can for myself. These moments are few and far between when even a trip to the toilet usually involves being accompanied by a small child.
The few minutes I have on the train each day are almost entirely consumed with making sure I don’t drift off into a surreal dream world because if I do, I will almost certainly miss my stop, and introduce an extra layer of strife and anxiety into my already frayed existence.

The things that bring me peace are playing a musical instrument, reading, and writing, and it’s precisely these things that I’m struggling the most to fit in. I know if I could work these back into my life, I could swing the balance back into some kind of stability. Even more than sleep, I crave the time and space it takes to be able to this.

In the end it seems that sleep isn’t the be-all and end-all of everything. What it comes down to is the quality of the time you have to yourself. If you find yourself on your own, and still just thinking how shit everything is, well, you have only your own company to blame.