Wednesday, November 7, 2007

put the finishing touches to the guardian article and sent it off - it's a very basic tutorial - most of what I do is for people who already know the basics so this was refreshingly simple. It was quite a small piece to be able to fit everything into though - so I hope it works OK. It'll be published in January in a saturday pull out on video editing.

Expressions of shock from the section editor - delivering copy days or weeks AHEAD of a deadline is virtually unheard of in the publishing industry, but I'm trying to get ahead - knowing that George could throw my schedule out of the window at any moment.

Now starting to label up the anatomy poster - latin names for muscles, organs and bones which all have to be right and spelled correctly (not my strong point)... it's going to be a long dull job and if I get any wrong, I'm going to look pretty stupid because I just know nobody's going to check it before it's printed...

Last Sunday was the South London Food Club - a group of friends meet up every so often to have dinner originating from a different country. One member picks a country, and everyone else has to look up a recipe from that country, cook it and bring it along.

We've done Ethiopian and Russian in the past... This sunday was English. We had stuffed Ox heart, shepherds pie and steamed pudding. Mons and Abbey bought Chicken Tika Massala (which has recently been voted the UKs most popular dish)!

I made Stargazy pie - a traditional dish from Mousehole - a small village in Cornwall in which whole fish are cooked into a pie with their heads sticking out gazing at the stars. apparently there's a story that one particularly bad winter in this fishing village the storms were so bad that it was too dangerous to fish. One fisherman Tom Bawcock set out with his boat and managed to bring back enough fish to keep the village from starving.

Tom Bawcock's eve is 23rd of December and every year they celebrate by cooking the dish he made from his catch - Stargazy pie:

8 sardines - gutted and with the bones taken out, but whole with the heads and tails left on.
5 hard boiled eggs
a handful of parsley (my addition)
bacon (I left the bacon out as I don't eat red meat - it's possible that in the original recipe they only used bacon because salt was so hard to get hold of)
Pastry (I bought it ready made)

arrange the sardines around a large flan dish so the tails are in the middle and the heads are sticking up at the edges. put the rest of the ingredients around the fish. place the pastry on top, cutting holes for the heads (this is a little fiddly, and you end up patching the pie with stray bits of pastry). glaze with an egg and bake for about 20-30 minutes in a moderate oven.

It tastes great, although looking at the list of ingredients, I doubt the legend... if you've got pigs, fish, chickens eggs, flour and fat (for pastry) you're probably not on the verge of starvation...

Next South London Food Club: Mexican
I've heard it said that all Mexican food is the same - it's just that the bread is folded differently.
I've never really liked any of it, but I've got a feeling that's because UK Mexican resturants are all aimed at the "office party" crowd - i.e. easy to order, easy to eat and plenty of hard liquor.

- so I'm keeping my eye out for anything you won't get served in a UK mexican resturant.

two weeks old and he's managed to cry himself to sleep for the first time (that's a milestone, believe me). doesn't seem to be getting any less cute, and amazingly seems to sleep relatively regularly through the night. Most nights he wakes up once, but goes back to sleep quite quickly.

We thought we'd never let him sleep in our bed, but it does get him to drift off so we can put him in his basket. for the first time last night, he was put in his moses basked while awake and didn't scream - he just went to sleep. maybe he's learning. maybe he's trying to lull us into a false sence of security....

Why do baby cards all have "it's a boy" or "it's a girl" on the front? the parents they get sent to KNOW whether they've had a boy or a girl. They're the only people in the world who really don't need to be told and yet every single card tells them.... I mean, you don't get a birthday card with "you're a bloke" written on the front, do you?

Health visitor
the health visitor came round yesterday to check up on George and Lisa... her primary job seemed to be to find out whether Lisa had post natal depression. she spent an hour trying to focus on the most miserable parts of having a baby and trying to work out our anxiety levels...

health visitor: "so you were told at 22 weeks that the baby might have a genetic disorder - that must have been stressful - how did you feel?"

HV: "so you ended up having a cesarian when you wanted a water birth - that must have been stressfull - how did you feel?"

HV:"many mothers feel depressed after having a baby - how did you feel?"
Lisa: "I felt fine"
HV: "with so many other mothers feeling depressed that must have left you very isolated and alone. that must have been very stressfull. how did you feel?"

Ok- she didn't really say that - but it felt like she might.

I've decided to make a 50 minute documentary for television. I'm going to do it entirely off my own bat with no funding and no backing in the hope that I can offer it to a distributor who will sell it to TV channels around the world. I'll then get royalties on it.

Apparently, this is a dumb idea because you don't make nearly as much money out of selling stuff that's already been made as you'd make out of convincing a TV channel to fund you (apparently 2-3000 for a showing of a pre-made documentary vs 100,000 for making one!)

so why do it like this?

2 reasons:
1) I can make just whatever I like. I can follow my interests and I've got nobody telling me to sex it up, dumb it down or hire ant and dec to present it.
2) I don't have to spend 5 years (not an exaggeration) trying to convince people to fund my idea - I can have the idea today and start working on it tomorrow.

I've just finished my first documentary done this way (on the evolution of sharks) and I'm pleased with the results. Did it make money? I don't know - the distributor has taken it to an international TV market in Cannes and is trying to sell it now... stay tuned to find out whether I have any success.

meanwhile I've decided to make another....

"Going to Gliese" (
if you've ever wondered whether mankind will ever make the leap from this solar system to colonise planets in other star systems, Going to Gliese is the documentary for you! it'll outline the challenge and talk to leading experts in the various technologies needed to colonise the stars.

I'm going to make this programme using interviews and 3d animation - and I'm going to do it in High definition.

so nothing too ambitious, then...

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