Monthly Archives: February 2011

Those sandwiches

They are easy to do. Really.

I’m talking about the sandwiches I made for yesterday’s interview with author Katherine Langrish, and that I somehow suggested were awfully complicated.

Previously I had admired the next-door neighbour’s nifty little blinis with toppings, and I admired the way her helpers swept through the room with little trays of blinis to be waved at the guests. I thought I could do that, too. Possibly. But the mere idea of standing for weeks frying blinis, before you could even say sour-cream topping, struck me as too much. And I didn’t have a band of helpers.

This was back in the days of hosting selling parties, and you really do have to give people something to nibble, and I wanted to avoid crisps. So I returned to thinking about the blinis, and worked out that I could use small slices of nice bread instead. In my case I made the bread, but that’s not essential.

And as for toppings I took what was in the fridge; cheeses, boiled eggs, veggie paté, smoked salmon. That kind of thing. Put a little of that on each slice of bread, and then went and looked round the kitchen again.

You are bound to have some olives, grapes, prawns, tomatoes, peppers, pickled gherkin slices (well I have, anyway). So you put a little something of that on top of what you’ve just made. And it may just be a tomato slice, but it looks much prettier.

Mix and match on trays or large plates.

The sandwiches

My former selling party selection bites were much smaller than the sandwiches above, so looked more attractive. This time I was aiming for lunch and people being hungry, so size mattered.

NCIS: Los Angeles – Lockup


NCIS: Los Angeles continues to outshine big brother NCIS. Lockup this week might even have been the best they’ve done so far. When he called to talk about it, Son certainly thought so, and we didn’t talk more about it because I hadn’t watched it at that point.







Nate was back, although possibly only temporarily. At least they didn’t kill him off. This time. It could be, of course, that he will be back intermittently.

Not everyone was so lucky, but sad though it is to see a character die, it makes for a better show to keep changing. Within reason.

Presumably we will return to this terrorist plot at a later stage. Sam needs to avenge his personal loss.

Kensi might have been eating doughnuts, but she can still jump around on the roofs of vehicles with the best of them. It’s she who calls the shots, and Deeks who follows.

And Nate has become quite violent for a psychologist. Also, what’s between him and Nell?

I’m less convinced about Callen’s surveillance of the cemetery, but it might be one of those long term plots, I suppose.

They needed him out of the way this time. Could it be that they economise by having one actor less each episode? One in, means one out? And not just by dying. You can just go somewhere else for a week or so.

(Photos © CBS)

I Am Number Four

Ever vigilant, the witch caught hold of someone who had managed to get himself invited to the advance screening of I Am Number Four earlier this week. To be perfectly honest, I seem to have missed the book by Pittacus Lore (yes, really) almost completely, and I first heard of it from Charlie, who is the very same one who got to tread the red carpet. After some suitable arm-twisting he has furnished me – and you – with a report from this grand affair.

‘As we clambered off the high speed train at London’s Euston Station, we triple-checked our tickets. It was definitely tonight. We hadn’t come on the wrong day or turned up in the wrong city, so were off to a good start!


After a quick change into more formal attire at the hotel, we stepped out into an ice-cold London city centre. A short walk and pizza later we arrived at the Apollo Cinema, Leicester Square – early as usual. So early in fact, that the red carpet was still being rolled out. We stepped gingerly over the man taping it down and hurried into the warm foyer of the cinema.

I Am Number Four posters adorned the walls and large cardboard cut-outs of Alex Pettyfer, Dianna Agron and Theresa Palmer stared down at us. This was definitely the right place! Paparazzi and camera crews were awaiting the stars’ arrival. Camera angles were tested and speeches rehearsed. Officials with clipboards hurried around, checking everything was in order for the 300 attendees.

After twenty minutes we noticed a small line forming outside the door. All three of us agreed not to mention that we weren’t meant to be here – it was warmer inside! So, we looked busy and shuffled our tickets about, avoiding the security men’s gaze.

Eventually six o’clock arrived and the front doors were flung open. We asserted that we were guests, and they motioned us downstairs. Prime front row seats were attained as a result and we waited for the actors and director, D J Caruso, to arrive while munching our complimentary toffee popcorn.

The event ran like clockwork and various competition winners and Disney staff began to take their seats. The young man next to me complained about how it would be “too Disney,” oblivious to the fact that the movie is based on a book! At the same time the presenter from T4 – Rick Edwards – began to do a little fill for the crews and lots of bustling took place – important people were arriving.

A few minutes later Alex, Theresa and D J Caruso walked out on stage to tumultuous applause, screaming and whistles. They looked a bit shocked, but gave a short introduction to the movie. It was fantastic to see the actors in person! Finally, Caruso uttered the words “Enjoy the movie…” Lights dimmed, stars exited the stage and murmurs passed around the audience.

The chirping of crickets and a rainforest at night filled the auditorium. Number Three slept in his bed. A creak alerted his Guardian to a presence outside. He unsheathed a long, blue pommeled knife and approached the door silently. Everything was calm outside. Suddenly a cacophony of explosions and the whole building was smashed to pieces! With his Guardian killed, Three jumped out of the back of what remained of the hut, followed by …

Three down. Six to go. John Smith is Number Four.

And so the film continued, with enough twists and turns to stay interesting and fresh while faithful to the novel. Content-wise, the story has romance, action scenes galore (most notably the end) and the odd shock or scare! It keeps you completely absorbed and the actors and actresses portrayed the characters almost exactly as I imagined them to be.

When the credits rolled, applause erupted. Interviews and reports were filmed outside and the once empty foyer was packed. A great film and an even better experience! People were buzzing and we excitedly nattered about the ins and outs, alterations and additions and the lows and highs. I can’t speak for the rest, but I could have easily continued watching the second film!

The sequel – tentatively penned as The Power of Six – is due out in book form in late August and I honestly can’t wait! Books hold a more permanent hold over me. They always have and I think they always will. The depth of character and events is never the same with a film, no matter how well produced they are.

The next book and film can’t come quickly enough. Until then I’ll have to amuse myself with explaining in detail the night’s events to all my friends. As they say, a picture paints a thousand words, but I’ve always thought twenty thousand words paints an extraordinarily detailed picture…

I just wish I’d managed to get some autographs!

Charlie, February 2011′

I Am Number Four

Great first hand account, and I would suggest a speedier sprint next time and there may well be autographs.

Just a thought.

Us ordinary mortals can go and see the film in a few weeks’ time. Half term, or thereabouts. Bet there will be no carpet of any colour…

You’ve got male voice choir

It’s the coincidence-ness of the iPod I like. As I began reading the article in G2 about the decline of Welsh male choirs (it’s not cool enough, and they expect you to come and practise twice a week…) my ear caught the song shuffling forward on the iPod next to me.

For the duration of the two pages I was accompanied by the Treorchy male choir, singing Unwaith Eto’n Nghymru Annwyl, which I’m not even going to begin trying to say. Pretty tune, though. Here it is, sung by Richard Griffith, all alone, because I couldn’t find a choir version on YouTube.

And then I went looking for a nice video clip with the Treorchy men themselves, and after a lot of them faffing about on television shows with Tom Jones and others, I decided that this one is much Welsher than the rest put together. And it’s Myfanwy, which I can almost pronounce.

I hope the Welsh choir tradition will be rejuvenated and that young boys will find a reason to turn up and sing. Maybe if I tell them the girls like it? (Girls do, don’t they?) It sends shivers up and down my spine, and it’s a fairly normal sort of spine.

Go on. Sing!