Thursday, July 4

Book: Perdido Street Station, China Mieville Click for more info

Although I used to love reading as a child, there was a time when I, well, kind of grew out of it. Blame TV or videogames (smartphones didn't exist back then), but I just didn't seem to find reading interesting. But then I arrived in university and met lots of people, most of whom were smarter than me in that they had managed to hold on to their love of books. It was the exposure to these friends that renewed my own interest in books; and Perdido Street Station was one of the first books that I read during this renewal.

Which is probably why I hold it in such high esteem - if you had asked me in the past decade what my favourite book was, I would have cited this. It was magical, deep, tragic, adventurous and full of character - I didn't even mind the weird steam punk side of things here. I've been gagging to read and enjoy it again, and so now, over a decade later, I am.

And I have to be honest here - the second reading wasn't as great as the first. It's not a mediocre book by any measure... it's just not the perfect story I thought I had read. Where had all the imagination gone? What about the deep characterisation that I used think was the main influence in building my appreciation for that quality in other books? It just wasn't there.

All of course which goes to show that Perdido is by no means a classic book. It's good, like most books, for one reading, and perhaps if I had been more mature in reading I would have realised that the first time around? Of course it's still a special book for me personally as it essentially opened the door to me reading man more books (some better and some worse than Perdido), but sadly I do think that this'll be the last time I'll be reading it.

Wednesday, July 3

Film: This Is the End Click for more info

I'm just going to say it: I think Seth Rogen is losing it a little. Not him as an individual, but as a genre. I think he realises this too; there's very few reasons to play yourself as a cameo let alone in a whole film, and they're all to do with rejuvenation.

Hollywood philosophy aside This Is the End was funny enough to make a decent timepass, with the second half much funnier than the first. It had all the underpinnings of the genre - a loose plot, a moral lesson, a couple of overgross gags - and I didn't leave the cinema feeling it was a waste of time like I have other films of its ilk.

But still, I don't think there's any benefit to watching this on the big screen so if I do give it a recommendation it would be to catch it at home.

Tuesday, July 2

Food: Chicks On Fire Click for more info

Although the fun with Chicks On Fire starts with the name, it follows on all the way to the place, the menu, the proprietor, chef and eventually the food. It's all so happy and feel good, you begin to wonder if the place is on drugs. What we do have here is the simple concept of grilled chicken modified with various sauces and marinades (think gourmet Nando's), and after finishing my meal it was clear it was a winning formula.

The starters were interesting enough (I've never had a smear of humous before) but the main event was the chicken - I actually had a burger (which, was more of a very generous sandwich) and a quarter piece and all were very tasty and very spicy - there was no need for any additional sauces to top up the taste here.

So not much to complain about really - perhaps the bench seating was a little uncomfortable? I can't give an accurate indication of the price but I think it was all under a tenner per head which is great value in anyone's book. Recommended.

Monday, July 1

Food: Restaurant 2012 Click for more info

I have to say I did find it odd heading to a Holiday Inn to grab dinner. I mean what could we ever expect? Sandwiches? Eggs on toast?

But on entering I have to say I was relatively surprised: this was a clean and well presented restaurant and appeared in better shape than most places I've eaten at. Unfortunately that impression quickly faded once we got our food - we were essentially eating prepared ready meals, albeit pretty good ready meals.

But where 2012 really failed was with the service. Mistakes happen all the time, but it's how they are dealt with that matters. So when my Muslim friend went to great lengths to convince our server, his manger and the chef that the vegetable lasagne they received was full of beef mince we knew the place had lost any credibility it had.

The only saving grace was the cost - at around 8 quid per head for a main and drink using a Gourmet Card the price was nothing to complain about. Everything else, unfortunately, had lots.