Thirty Six: The Montpelier, Peckham, SE15 4AR

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The venue: The Montpelier, 43 Choumert Road, Peckham, SE15 4AR
The website: IS RIGHT HERE
The Sunday dinner: Beef
The price: £15.95
Hi there. It’s Sunday again. Which means it’s time for me to sit drinking and smoking in front of the computer, while telling Mr Jus it’s what all the great writers do to help the creative process. I like to believe he thinks: “Oh wow. She’s like Dickens. Or Coleridge. Or Hemingway. She’s Dorothy Parker for the WhatsApp generation” and feels all proud inside.
However, given that I am not a literary genius, we all know he’s merely saying to himself: “Why am I in a relationship with someone who thinks that being moderately off her tits on a daily basis is one of life’s goals? Why doesn’t she like cycling up mountains?”
Well, it’s mainly because I’m lazy and because I value my own vagina. I mention my front bottom, because one of Mr Jus’ friends reads my blog and says that I am always talking about it, so I like to ensure it features in each post. I guess I just don’t want to let him down.
Anyway, let’s get this done, because we’ve rearranged the living room this weekend, and I’d like to sit down to a rom-com later and just relax, trying out my new foot stool, because arthritis is looming, I value comfort and I’ve just realised I already feel light-headed.
Ok. So, imagine you arrive at the office on Monday, and a colleague, who we’ll call Skeletor, tells you that your hair is thinning and then decides to start filming you on his phone, zoning in on your skull, when you’re just trying to settle into the working week. It’s not on, is it?
That’s why I’ll now publish this photo of his head. I took it after he’d stopped filming me. Upon it, I have crudely circled areas of concern, including his ‘fringe’.
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Look at his stupid little feet.
On Tuesday morning, I saw yet another photo of a child with food on its face on Facebook and it ruined my whole day, if I’m honest. And I like children. And yes, I could eat a whole one. I just hate them with beans or peas up their faces. I don’t understand how parents can revel in it enough to bother taking photos. Just get a fucking cloth, not your camera. I don’t even like adults with food on their faces if I’m being honest, despite ‘facial cumshot’ regularly being in my top five porn searches. Odd.
My day didn’t improve, I’m sorry to report. I later read a comment on Instagram which referred to someone as being a ‘typical Capricorn’ which annoyed me more than it should have. Yes, there was a time I’d look to Toper and Grant for advice. Even Meg. But I was pre-pubescent. I didn’t know my own mind. Never trust anyone who asks what your star sign is. It’s the same as believing in angels, basically. Pure madness.
On Wednesday, Mr Jus and I had a Hello Fresh meal, and, because it’s clear that they’re not going to choose me as a brand ambassador, or give me a free holiday, here’s my honest review collage. I hope this reinstates your belief in me as an authentic alcoholic and culinary critic.
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And then the following photo appeared in my Facebook memories, which I hope demonstrates how much effort I put into my relationship and art.
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His cycling interview has gone down a storm over the past fortnight, according to my WordPress statistics. One person stumbled across it through performing this search, even though my post features all of those words, but not in that order. I have no idea if he is or isn’t:
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On Thursday morning, a member of staff was handing out little taster samples of coffee inside Marks and Spencer. I’d gone in to get a bag of Salt and Vinegar Chiplets, if you must know.
She gave everyone in the shop a little cup apart from me. I was loitering near the croissants, hoping to get a free sample, because I live for that kind of thing. But she ignored me. She moved outside. As I left the store, walking directly towards her and her tray of free treats, she turned her back on me.
I’m not ashamed to say I felt more than a little hurt. I’ve been thinking about it for four days. Why did/does she hate me? I’ll think back on that for the rest of my life, you know.
The day failed to improve once again. A pattern is emerging here. That bloke at work, who thinks Basil Brush is a squirrel, said that the literary character I’m most like is Miss Havisham. 
Skeletor then asked if she was bald in the book.
I trust these posts can be used in employment tribunals. Not ones being held against me, of course.
Later that evening, Mr Jus and I sat out in the garden, drinking wine, so that I could get bitten again, this time behind both knees. They’re weeping as I type, but not itching, which is a blessing.
“This a lifestyle moment,” he remarked, purposely trying to annoy me and thoroughly succeeding.
To be honest, I’d used the term “statement necklace” earlier in the evening – we all slip up every now and then – but he’d also referred to what he does for a living as a “HOLDER OF THE VISION” when I think it’s just a project manager role, but with jeans on, which means creative, apparently. A vision holder. I ask you. I tell you what he should hold. A can of Mr Sheen and a fucking duster.
We had a nice evening. And then, on Friday, we had another nice evening. That’s two nice evenings on the spin. I can’t be arsed to write much more about Friday. We just did laughing and booze and food. I really do want to sit down and watch a film tonight and it’s getting on.
On Saturday we rearranged the living room and Mr Jus allowed me to place all of the books on the shelves in order of colour, which has made me feel quite peaceful inside. I’d go as far as to say that it’s improved my quality of life by 3%. Not joking. I’d recommend doing it.
Sunday arrived, which is now, and I got a message from my sister at 09:15 –  a time that cannot be disputed as fact.
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I called my mum, who was just back from a week’s holiday in Menorca, to find out more.
“Oh it was horrible, Faye,” she told me. “He was chopping people’s arms off and everything. I got up to have a wee, but then when I tried to get back to sleep I was back in the dream. It was awful.”
“How many kids did he have?”
“Oh, I don’t know.”
“Bit of a shit nanny, aren’t you?”
I ended the call soon after.
The previous night’s activity necessitated a trip to CEX and Argos, which I’d like you to imagine as the shopping montage from Pretty Woman but with Mr Jus playing Julia Roberts, and me as Richard of Gere. By the time we’d finished it was late, and due to rom com requirements I suggested Sunday dinner at The Montpelier because it’s close to home. A side effect of the venue’s convenience meant I broke one of my cardinal rules of the Sunday Dinner Diaries: NO LIVE JAZZ.
I do not want to have to compete with a fucking saxophone to be heard. I just want to enjoy a relaxing gravy dinner.
The live jazz inside meant we had to sit outside. Thankfully, it was reasonably warm today. Shit for summer, of course, but ok. I chose beef, despite the horshradish, which made me do a wonderful impression of Sean Connery in my head, if I do say so myself. The acoustics in there (my head, not The Montpelier – too much sax) are great.
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Let’s remind ourselves how the food looked:
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Here’s my feedback for The Montpelier:
  • You should half the HORSHRADISH and throw in an extra spud as they were crisp and pleasant.
  • Your gravy consistency is within the upper quartile. Well done.
  • You advertised kale but served me green beans, which is probably against the law. But guess what? IT’S FINE. I like green beans.
  • It was a good piece of meat. I’ll give you that. I’m just sad Mr Jus finished his fish and chips and started wimpering for some from my plate.
  • The Yorkshire pudding was too brittle in places.
  • The courgette puree was mush and cumin. Nobody wants cumin on their beef dinner. Not a euphemism. Change that slop into a slack handful of peas and I may return. You’re convenient and you’re a pleasant little pub. Plus you serve Scampi Fries, so we understand each other in some ways.
  • £15.95 is quite steep. Plus you didn’t do mushy peas with Mr Jus’ fish and chips and one of his chips was uncooked, which I know isn’t a lot, but still.

“It was acceptable fish and chips,” said Mr Jus in his review. “But no mushy peas is a bit odd. I am deducting five points for live jazz too. But it’s nice that there are good pubs within walking distance. Please can we put the living room back to how it was? I feel unsettled by change. You’ve seen Dustin Hoffman as Rain Man in the lift scene.”

Yes I have. But I have also seen him counting cards. And I’m hoping that one day Mr Jus will be able to count cards too. To be fair, I’d take seeing him in regular, gainful employment.

Final score: 23.5/33

Thirty Five: The Mayflower Pub, Rotherhithe, SE16

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The venue: The Mayflower Pub, 117 Rotherhithe Street, Rotherhithe, London, SE16 4NF

The website: The Mayflower Pub

The Sunday dinner: Chicken

The price: £13.95

Hello, everyone. Hope you’re well. I just want to start by saying a great big thank you to those of you who ordered a Hello Fresh box last week using our code. So that’s none of you miserable little bastards, is it? Cheers. Nice doing business with you. I mean, how likely do you think it is that I’ll win the free Hello Fresh holiday now? In all seriousness, I think it’s a bit tight and I’m not very happy with any of you. To be honest, you’ve pissed me off. I get neck ache from poor posture when I sit and write these blogs, you know. And I have to have a drink because I believe it aids my creativity, so I end up feeling a bit sick and dizzy when I’ve finished. Yet paying £9.90 for six delicious meals and helping a friend is too much to ask, is it?

I’ll try not to hold a grudge. I don’t need real friends now that I’ve started chilling with my homies at Hello Fresh this week. ‘Chilling out with my homies’ means socialising, relaxing, and possibly smoking weed with close friends. Not that the Hello Fresh social media team is into that kind of thing. Yes, they use emojis, for sure, but that’s not indicative of casual drug abuse.

It’s just what the youngsters say these days. I know, because as a brand ambassador I can appeal, and fit in, with all social groups. Could I gain respect at an inner-city sixth form college? Yes. They’d think I was sick. Which means good and not perverted or gravely ill. I know, because I’m youthful and what’s called ‘street’. Would I be respected and well-liked in a Mecca Bingo Hall, amongst working class pensioners ? Definitely. I’ve got some good mates at the Acocks Green branch. Might I be revered by the members of a Knightsbridge Bridge Club? You bet. Have I already been drinking this afternoon? Of course.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I think I’m still trying to get a job where I can write bollocks like this for a living and then do some reading in the sun, have a nice swim and be clattered by 11am. But all of us borderline alcoholics want that, don’t we? I added swimming to make me sound slightly athletic, by the way. I’d probably go on one of those lilo things and just float around. Which is similar to swimming so I didn’t lie completely.

Anyway, that’s not happening any time soon, and as it’ll soon be time for work, let’s get on with it.

On Monday, I got a response to my blog post from not one, but two, Hello Fresh employees. Hence me not needing friends anymore, as I mentioned. So please never contact me again. One said the review actually made them ‘lol’, and the other wrote: ‘large guffaws coming from my desk as I type’. Yet neither offered me as much as a free teaspoon of fucking paprika. I wrote to them again that evening, because I had nothing better to do, Mr Jus had rustled up the latest dish, and I’d had my toys out.

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Polly wrote something pleasant back, but nothing about it said ‘PACK YOUR BAGS, YOU’RE FLYING TO BARBADOS’ so I’ve decided to give up my quest to win a free holiday. Mr Jus, God bless him, is still going strong on the old sales front, however. He tried to pitch the Hello Fresh deal to his mum on Tuesday. It took about fifteen minutes of him trying to convince her to try a box before he bothered asking if she’d had a nice holiday. To date she has not taken up the offer, so we probably won’t bother meeting up with his parents again.

On Wednesday I woke up after a dream in which I opened a lesbian detective agency called ‘Oranges’. I recall no additional details about my new business. I’ve been in some strange slumber situations this week, you know. One night, my dad’s mistress turned up at the house with her two daughters. She was old, with straggly hair and I was furious she had the audacity to turn up there. To cut a long story short, at one point she was sat on the sofa with her skirt around her shoulders and her 30 denier ecru tights around her calves, and her massive cock resting on her stomach. It was quite a shock and it bothered me throughout the following day, until I remembered that Mr Jus and I had watched the end of Tootsie a couple of nights ago. And a programme about a lesbian detective agency called Oranges last Sunday. We didn’t do the latter. Oranges is my idea. I might use it as the premise of my first novel. Think about it, Hello Fresh.

On Thursday, I bought my work colleagues a treat to show them just how much they mean to me.IMG_5875

I placed the photo on Facebook (18 likes, 3 laughing faces, one heart) and also tweeted Marks and Spencer, as I am more interested in engaging with large companies, rather than traitors who won’t buy a cheap box of meals from me, whatever fucking reaction icon they press. My cool, new friends, M&S, responded:

‘We’re sure the team are feeling very loved tonight! We hope they saved you a slice?’

I mean, it was kind of them to write back and I gave their response a like, despite the exclamation mark, but I’d have had more respect for the brand if they’d replied:

‘You tight bitch. Still, I bet they’re arseholes. Especially Skeletor. Hope you enjoy it.’

or

“Here’s a free holiday, Faye.’

But they didn’t. I comforted myself by reading this Facebook memory from two years ago. I had 100% battery when I took this screenshot. Thanks.

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I remember being so pleased he’d agreed to acting like utter dicks in a public arena. I laughed when he said we were misleading people because it wasn’t a quiche lorraine, as it contained broccoli. I was delighted when he suggested wrapping it in a tea towel, so it looked like “the baby is in swaddling clothes”. I remember loving him dearly and tenderly that day as we arsed about. I mused over how it’s only been in these later years that he has consistently failed to do things he’s asked, such as dust, which has led to the disharmony we’re currently experiencing.

Friday arrived and Mr Jus decided it was ok to post the morning’s WhatsApp conversation on Facebook.

It’s easy to spend time dicking about when you’re not in gainful employment, but I had a job to do and would have got the answer a lot quicker had I not taken two work calls, written a performance development review, and developed a CSR strategy during our conversation. I still found the time to set him a little puzzle later that day, of course.

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We met for cocktails and tapas that evening and a splendid time was had by all, I believe. I’m not sure – we were both a bit drunk. I don’t remember arguing or anything, so I assume it was fine. What I do remember is this very informative sign. But only because I took a photo of it.

IMG_5904On Saturday, I met up with a friend from Birmingham and wandered the streets of London aimlessly until our feet began to sting, which isn’t a pleasant feeling, but is nowhere near as bad as cystitis. Or insect bites, of which I have three fresh ones, including a belter on my bum, because I clearly don’t deserve any fucking peace or happiness in my life.

Mr Jus retweeted a cycling interview I’d conducted with him after he completed the TransContinental last year, which is further proof of how I can adapt my writing style to suit any brief and cover any discipline or genre. Yes, it contains gratuitous swearing, but what real life conversation doesn’t?

It proved more popular than any of these Sunday Dinner Diary posts and has been viewed around the world. I wondered if I should perhaps concentrate on sports journalism and write specifically for cyclists. I know what GRINDS THEIR GEARS (good), I know what makes THEIR GARMINS TICK (not sure if Garmins tick), I won’t SADDLE them with bullshit (good again). Then I realised that it bores the shit out of me, so I’ve decided not to pursue that career path.

The interview is here if you’d like to read it:  The Fish And The Bicycle

On Sunday, which is today, it was time for dinner, after a nice old lie in. Here’s the extent of my movement before 10.30am:

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It was to be a traditional one, for once. A return to my diary roots. According to the Mayflower Pub’s menu, it came with ‘Proper Gravy’. And, despite being annoyed at the upper casing, that bold claim definitely sparked my interest.

We decided to walk to this week’s venue and it was a most enjoyable hour, despite the route taking us through a couple of industrial estates. The sunshine and warmth was a blessing, plus Ripley did not get too tired and die at the roadside, which is a grave fear of mine these days.

Here’s a montage to set the scene.

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View of the river, hanging baskets, undead dog on a jetty, historical information – it’s looking good so far, right? Well it’s about to get a whole lot better. Here’s the starter:

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I love Scampi Fries. And I will always warm to a place where they’re in stock. If you also like Scampi Fries, we’ll probably be great friends. Unless you’ve committed terrible crimes, or your favourite colour is pink, or a whole host of other reasons.

Things appeared ok, until our meals arrived just five minutes after ordering. Don’t get me wrong, I like prompt service, but this felt too soon. Let’s have another look at my chicken. Not a euphemism. But if you do want me to send you a photo of something a bit blue (I mean x-rated when I say ‘blue’ – not that my vagina is that colour), feel free to DM me. Thanks.

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Look how close Mr Jus’ pint is to the end of the table. Then look at the little grubby plaster that’s on his finger. Then look at the chicken skin which is NOT CRISPY ENOUGH, and then look at the broccoli, which is neither here nor there and was a bit too hard. After that, look at the Yorkshire pudding, which was decent enough. Then look at Mr Jus’ plate again and say out loud: ‘WHY DON’T YOU JUST MARRY THE HORSERADISH SAUCE, CHARLES?’ Finally, look at the gravy which is not even that proper. Let alone Proper. Hmm.

I’ll tell you straight. It wasn’t great. Yet the place was buzzing with people and clearly doing a roaring trade. It just didn’t do anything for me. Or for Mr Jus:

“This was poor,” he sighed, somewhat dramatically. “The beef was horrendously over-cooked* and it didn’t seem like a proper piece of meat. The whole thing reeked of mass catering. The speed at which it arrived made me suspicious. The broccoli was cold, and possibly pre-blanched and then microwaved. It was a nice location, but an expensive meal that didn’t do anything for me*.”

*so about medium.

*I told you it didn’t do anything for him.

On the walk home, I saw this, which I am going to get Mr Jus as a Christmas present, in case he fancies a wank over Genesis. I imagine he’s bored of masturbating over the ‘No Jacket Required’ album cover by now. That was a Phil Collins/sperm production reference that didn’t quite work, but I’ll leave in.IMG_5942

We stopped off for a drink at a pub and Mr Jus took this photo for me in the toilets. Don’t be afraid to scroll on. It’s nothing blue. Not that I’m saying his cock is the colour blue. I mean the x-rated thing again.

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Seeing this sort of made up for my disappointment with today’s dinner. Actually, I have no idea why I just typed that. It really didn’t. I laughed for 1.5 seconds at most.

Final score: 16/33

 

Thirty Four: Hello Fresh



The venue: Freshness through the front door
The website: Hello Fresh
The Sunday dinner: CHOOSE FROM A RANGE OF DELICIOUS OPTIONS – DELIVERED
The price: £9.90 for three meals through the introductory referral, which you can access here.  The regular price is around £34.
This week, I’m going to review Hello Fresh. Hopefully, it’ll make them rethink their decision to not let me use Mr Jus’ referral code to get £25 off my first box, just because we live at the same house. They’ve missed a trick there. We should both be allowed accounts.  We’re likely to order more from you if we’ve both got our hand in the game. Think about it, Hello Fresh.
After this rave review, I hope they make me an honorary Hello Fresh member and send me boxes to review for free. I am also quite willing, and able, to be a brand ambassador the company, travelling the world reviewing their recipes, although I am unsure how the travelling element comes in. Doesn’t quite fit with the product’s home delivery situation, but I’m extremely keen to be permanently on holiday and I just thought I’d put it out there for their social media team to consider. Think about it, Hello Fresh.
I shall even refrain from swearing this week, so that Hello Fresh can see that I can be respectful, and show them how I could brand ambassador the fuck out of their excellent company. Perhaps they’ll just award me a week’s holiday in Spain, while it’s still warm, as the first place prize in the ‘Hello Fresh Blog Post Review Competition’, which is a contest they’re not actually running. Think about it, Hello Fresh.
Mr Jus and I have used this home delivery service, which provides all the carefully measured ingredients you need to knock up a tasty meal, for the past two weeks.
Our first box cost just under £10, for we had a discount code. And you can have one too. Perhaps you’ll use ours when you place your first order. Here it is, just in case.
And yes, I know I’m being pushy, but you have to remember that Mr Jus is out of work and times are hard. I’ll just stop this paragraph here, and start a new one, affording you a bit of time and space to consider our predicament.
Sobering, isn’t it?
‘Maybe she does need our help with getting her Hello Fresh discounts,’ you’re probably thinking to yourself, or maybe saying aloud to your partner, or to your cat, or to a doll that you talk to and pretend is alive.
I’m just sure none of you want to see us go without and would like to support us in our hour of need.
I don’t like to make a fuss, or exaggerate, but if we can’t afford to order next week’s King Prawn Risotto with Tender Asparagus Spears and Dukkah Spice, we’ll have something akin to a humanitarian crisis going in this household, and you lot will have blood/rice on your hands. Once you pop Hello Fresh, you can’t stop Hello Fresh. Not that it’s like a weird cult, or you just get delivered Pringles for your tea, but it’s so good you’ll never want to let it go.
I apologise for the capital letters in the recipe title above. It’s just Hello Fresh’s house style. They also use too many exclamation marks in their material, which is the only off-putting thing about this clever culinary concept that is taking our house – and our tastebuds – by storm. Here’s a prime example.
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Seriously, if they don’t give me at least one free meal box and a weekend in Bath (with breakfast) for this review, I’ll be livid. I truly believe I can help Hello Fresh reach a new customer demographic: decent, vibrant northerners, with working class ideals, who can sniff a rip off at a mile off. Here’s an example I saw in the piss-taking part of Peckham today:
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£12. I ask you. AND ARE THESE FLOWERS EDIBLE??!!??!!!
You can enjoy three romantic, yet healthy, Hello Fresh meals with a loved one for less than that. If you use our introductory code. Remember – you’re not under any kind of contract and you can pause your order at any time. Mr Jus finds the Hello Fresh app particularly useful for account management and has spent a lot of time exploring its contents, rather than doing any fucking dusting.
Hey, I have another creative idea. I could work with Hello Fresh on a refined Sunday dinner recipe, with brilliant gravy, that would become Hello Fresh’s signature meal selection. The Sunday Dinner Selection.
The chefs and I would probably need to spend a week in a kitchen, working up ideas, perhaps somewhere like Mauritius. The possibilities for brand fusion, if that’s even a term, are endless. Why wouldn’t a successful company want to hook up with a foul-mouthed blog writer with a social media reach of 12?
Anyway, let’s quickly review the week, so that I can get back to blowing smoke up Hello Fresh’s arse. Anal smoke which it thoroughly deserves.
At 2am on Monday morning, I was rudely awakened by three new insect bite blisters, who wanted to demonstrate how painful and itchy they were. I suppose because the others had started to heal, God, or the universe, decided I must continue to suffer, even though I have done fuck all to those little bastards and had no quarrel with them until now. I will punch those cunts out of the sky if I see them approaching. Psst. Hello Fresh – I’ll take this paragraph out if you want to publish this in your employee magazine or wherever – it’s not a problem. I’m flexible. Like your meal boxes. I’d like to go to Hawaii too.
Tuesday brought me this Facebook memory from 1 August 2015, which only served to remind me that my hair was, and has remained, an absolute mess for two long years. And an additional 40 years before that too.
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Still, at least my legs, with all their lumps and bumps and open, weeping sores, looked like two out of date Lion Bars, so things didn’t seem too bad. People enjoy Lion Bars.
On Wednesday evening Justin of ‘BASIL BRUSH IS A SQUIRREL’ fame, cooked curry for his colleagues, of which I am one. I don’t think I can claim overtime for attending, which is a shame. I’d already spent eight hours in their company that day and it’s frankly draining at the best of times. Still, it was a very kind offer and I was happy to accept. He’s asked whether I’ll be reviewing his meal in this week’s post several times, which came across as a mixture of annoyingly repetitive curiosity and neediness, which wasn’t attractive.
Here’s Justin preparing our food. On Wednesday, 2 August.
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That’s right. He tried to poison us with out of date broccoli, the sinister bastard. Here he is at work again, where he is simultaneously cooking, DJ-ing and smiling with battered glee, no doubt at something witty I’d just said.
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The curry was superb. Here it is. He sloshed a bit up the plate, so a point removed for presentation, but look at him above. He’s wrecked. Let’s give him some credit.
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Justin was a great host, who cooked a delicious meal. Despite being as rat-arsed as the rest of us, he delivered. I could barely stand, let alone use a hob. Our glasses were never empty of wine and our hearts were never vacant of love and laughter. Or perhaps just tolerance.
The Uber ride home lasted forever. I started to feel anxious that the driver was planning to murder me, throw acid in my face, or just drive around until he’d earned in excess of £1,400 for the trip.
I sat up straight in the back so that he thought I was a high-ranking police official, and wouldn’t attempt any funny business. I don’t imagine they slouch, apart from Columbo, but he’s fictional, and just a detective, whereas I saw myself more at commissioner level. I then spent time typing on my phone, so he’d think I was in constant contact with MI5, but I was actually just writing a status update on Facebook.
On Thursday afternoon, I finally got dropped off at home. I’m lying. I was safely home by midnight, where I promptly had a midnight mass (poo) which was a bit weird. I blame the broccoli.
Work was harrowing, and not helped when Mr Jus sent me a photo of him having a pint near the swimming pool at Shoreditch House, where he’d been poncing about, and not dusting.
He asked what sort of film I’d like to watch.
“Something easy going,” I replied, work-weariness etched in my voice. “Something uplifting, perhaps. Maybe a quirky romantic comedy. You know, a pleasant, feel-good sort of vibe. Relaxing. Light-hearted. You know.”
He chose Alien Covenant.
On Friday, Mr Jus and I stayed up until 3am, which is crazy, because remember when we were in Jamaica at Christmas and he phoned to complain the music was too loud at 10.30pm, even though it was Christmas and people were on holiday?
He’d been out drinking, so was all lively and jolly when he returned, with a touch of slurred arrogance. My companion for the evening had been this guy:
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Not even Ralgex. Just a dirty, Wilko muscle rub. That’s how little I care for myself. My self-loathing means my aching shoulders and neck suffer.
We chatted away for hours on all manner of topics, and even though I was wincing in pain, and he was still doing ‘slurred arrogance’ at times, it was lovely.
We ended the night, as many people do, by watching Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’ video. Neither of us realised that Lionel was her teacher, so were horrified at this blatant abuse of power/gross misconduct situation, passing itself off as an entertaining pop video. It was weird. Sinister, even.
I did a bit of research on it today, which is Saturday, as Mr Jus slept, and came across this quote from Lionel:
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I laughed. And then I saw this post on Facebook, and I laughed again, because my nanna was insulin dependent, so I don’t think my slobbering gob could have lessened the impact of her diabetes.
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After I’d stopped laughing, I remembered that I was supposed to be reviewing food. Let’s have two collages. In one shot, you’ll see that I’ve used the packaging as a cushion for the garden chair, upon Hello Fresh’s helpful packaging suggestion.
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And now let’s have a Hello Fresh review poem, to show how versatile I can be. I hope to prove to Hello Fresh that I deserve a high paying part-time job, or at least an overnight stay in Cleethorpes, with a meal at Steels thrown in. And breakfast. My poem is called ‘Hello’.
Hello
Hello, Hello Fresh, here’s why I think you’re so great:
Top-notch, tasty dishes, delivered straight to my plate*
Particularly the duck dish – so deliciously divine
And the steak’s pepper sauce was pretty sublime
Creamy linguine? Well, I don’t quite mind if I do
Roasted broccoli? No, not after Wednesday night’s poo**
I love you, Hello Fresh, as there’s no messing and no fucking***
And I love you too, Mr Jus, thanks for doing all the cooking.****
*front door or maybe at an agreed point – possibly with a trusted neighbour.

** I did have it and it was really good, but I wanted to make a joke about Justin’s broccoli again. And my witching-hour bowel movement.

*** We can change this bit, Hello Fresh, if it’s too coarse for our brand partnership. I wrote it in eight minutes, which I hope demonstrates that I am a fast, creative worker, who deserves a chance. To be honest, I’ll take a free bag of carrots pushed through the letterbox at this stage. Whatever.
**** To be fair, I shouldn’t be expected to get involved, because I’m at work all fucking day.
Final score: 29/33
The link to the great discount again: HERE. IT’S HERE.

Thirty Three: Coalition, Brighton

The venue: Coalition, 171-181 Kings Rd Arches, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1NB

The website: Is here.

The Sunday dinner: Burger and fries in a box

The price: £9.95 or thereabouts. 

Another week, another late offering. I’d apologise if I owed any of you anything, but I don’t. I’m still grumpy, by the way. And tired. So very, very tired. I guess it’s partly down to blood loss from my legs. 

Let’s cut to the chase. The meal I’ll go on to review is burger and chips, served in a box on Brighton seafront. The venue is billed as a nightclub on its website, so if you’re hoping for a climatic culinary crescendo, you’ll be sorely disappointed. However, if you’ve visited to see some alliteration using the letter C, you’re in for a treat. I’ve already thrown one in and we’re only in paragraph one.

I was hoping to review fish and chips, so I could complain how expensive and shit they were in comparison to their Cleethorpes’ counterparts. Some more alliteration for you, right there. 
We all recognise that I write a food review blog without the requisite skill set, but I do know good gravy and I know good fish and chips.

I’ve worked at Steels and Ernie Becketts, which are both world-renowned establishments in the seaside town of my birth. I imagine that you’re scoffing at that claim, you cocky cunts (more alliteration). You shouldn’t be. It’s true. Unfortunately the venue, chosen by one of Mr Jus’ friends, served hotdogs or burgers only. Oh and nachos. So it’s not my fault that I’m bringing nothing more refined to this week’s table. I had no say. Cyclists are bossy. 

Let’s cover last week VERY quickly, because it’s already this Tuesday. 

On Monday, I got my first Trello message from Mr Jus. If you haven’t heard of the app, here’s a description. 


You did dare say it, LIFEHACKER. Dare I say you need to get a life? No. I dare not. Especially as I’m a black pot in a glass house. Still, I’ve always wanted perspective over all my projects and a sidekick, so this sounded great. However, I soon discovered there’s nothing ‘awesome’ about receiving a notification from your partner that you need to buy dog poo bags. 
I wrote back to Mr Jus to remark upon how thrilling Trello was. 

Well I did put it in the blog. Needless to say, I’ve since deleted the app and moved out. 

On Tuesday, my tights got stuck to my open sores, which was rather unpleasant, even before I started worrying I’d develop denier poisoning, if there is such a disease, on top of my rampant sepsis. That evening, I made a collage of some of my favourite leg bites to post on Facebook, because I still don’t have children (that I know of) or a hobby. Here it is. What I find most attractive is the coarse black calf stubble in image two. It’s a route my blunt Venus Breeze was not prepared to negotiate. I bet Blow Job Barrymore’s kicking himself he rejected me and my weeping pins. 

On Wednesday I washed my front bottom with Molton Brown shower gel to gain the trust and respect of the beautician who was to carry out intimate waxing on me. I wish I was lying, but I am not. She hadn’t returned my call at the weekend, you see, and I’d been worrying that she’d taken a dislike to my vaginal region during our inaugural meeting, or it had upset her in some way, and that she was avoiding me. So, when she confirmed our appointment I thought I’d make a real effort down below for her. I know that’s really weird, but I also always plan what knickers I’ll wear for my cervical smear test the night before. Not that the nurse gives a fuck, of course. I guess I’m just considerate. 

On Thursday morning, I thoroughly enjoyed the distress in Mr Jus’ voice as he told me about his dream in which I was nonchantly having sex with another man in the house. 

“HE WAS AN OSTEOPATH,” he wailed, still half asleep. “AND HE WAS TALL. AND HE HAD THESE STUPID FUCKING WIRE FRAMED SPECTACLES ON. YOU JUST SORT OF SHRUGGED WHEN I CAUGHT YOU.”

I decided not to ask what the osteopath’s cock was like, although I was, and still remain, rather curious. I could see Mr Jus was peeved by my dream behaviour, but I was happy he was bothered.

At work on Friday, I filmed Gary of ‘THERE IS ONLY ONE TYPE OF MONKEY’ fame, trying to guess what a ouija board is. He had no idea. Here’s a transcription of his best guess, which came after I’d spelled out the word ‘ouija’. 

“Oh. So it’s Japanese. Because of the spelling. Oriental. You eat it. Like a Bento box. Am I close?”

“Only to getting the sack,” I told him. “This is worse than you not knowing what a corsage was last week.” 

To be fair to him, he did come up: “A massage that you have around your body’s core” which I thought showed promise, alongside sheer idiocy. 

I’d like to make it clear that I respect and appreciate Gary. And I don’t want him to take me to an employment tribunal. He’s very good at joining me in counter attacks against the not so mighty Skeletor. Sometimes we even high five about it. 

On Saturday I told Facebook what I was up to as per usual.

They were confiscated from me upon arrival at Peckhamplex. Mr Jus felt embarrassed, but not embarrassed enough to take this grainy photo of me collecting them at the end of the film with the pink raffle ticket I’d been presented with when they were quarantined.

And no, they’re not extensions and I haven’t PhotoShopped this – it’s my real hair, and the lighting is poor, haters. 

The film made me sob with sadness, joy, pride , patriotism and hope, by the way. Mr Jus didn’t cry because it “didn’t contain animals in peril”.

A friend suggested he should watch War Horse, but he told me he couldn’t bear to.

“I’ve seen the play, it was bad enough with puppets.”

Mr Jus has been cooking like a boss during what now appears to be his retirement. It’s great. I also do SHIT ALL housework. Sounds superb, doesn’t it? It is. And I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I did whisper ‘Why me?’ when I learned this was on the cards for tea. 


Which brings us to Sunday and our trip down to Brighton to meet up with some of Mr Jus’ friends, for I don’t have any, save a woman I worked with at Birmingham City Council in 1998. 
Let’s have a reminder of the food at Coalition. 

It looks like I’m having champagne, but it’s just an ice bucket with a bottle of house wine in it. It looks like there’s a brioche lid sauce, but it’s just the shadow off my phone strap. It looks like it’s warm and sunny, but it was as windy as fuck on that sea front.

The staff at Coalition were attentive and pleasant. I’ll give them that. But it’s a nightclub that serves burgers and hotdogs during the day.  And I wanted fish and chips. Or even a Sunday dinner. It’s been a while.

At the end of the day, it was a decent enough burger and chips. It’s nearly 9pm and I haven’t got time to say much more. Let’s ask Mr Jus to do the honours. He’s going to say the burger was over-cooked. But remember he expects them rare, so don’t trust everything he says. 

“Over-cooked burger. Too dry. But I did like my chips. And the wine. I like Brighton and I enjoyed seeing my friends. But we should have some gravy soon.”

I knew he’d come round to my way of thinking. 

Final score: 21/33

Thirty Two: Crossroads Cafe, Bellenden Road, Peckham, SE15



The venue:
Crossroads Cafe, Bellenden Road, Peckham, SE15 


The website: http://www.crossroadscafe.info/hello/


The Sunday dinner:
BREAKFAST ONE


The price:
£4.70

Hello. This week’s review, which is already late, will be short. I have neither the time nor the energy to put a great deal of thought or effort into this post. It’s already 7.40pm on Monday evening and I am tired and I am distressed. Why? Because my guitar gently weeps. Oh, it’s not my guitar. It’s one of my main fucking limbs. 

Not content with biting my throat last week, insects have violated my walking apparatus causing blistering, open sores. I haven’t slept properly for three nights as a result, so am as mardy as my arse. Which is a Grimsby/Cleethorpes saying, that makes little sense, I imagine. I can’t be bothered to explain. In short, I will be angry and not funny. ‘”Nothing new there,” mutters Paul Benbow, as he relaxes in his Austrian hot tub, I imagine. Although the image I conjure up has him wearing a suit in there, as I do not wish to see his bare body/nipples. 

Right. Let’s do this before the sepsis takes hold. My friend Lashes, who also suffers from crippling anxiety, sent me an article a few weeks ago about a bloke who got sepsis from a ladybird bite, so my concern isn’t that far-fetched. She fully understood the distress it would cause, but sent the link anyway, which I actually respect her for. 

Despite using my Monday Mantra AND playing Daniel Bedingfield’s ‘Gotta Get Thru This’ six times on the trot as I walked to work last Monday, the week didn’t start with the levels of optimistic spirit I’d hoped. 

Lashes, who features twice this week, had used Bedingfield’s floor-filler after reading an article about how music is a great motivational tool. I didn’t think there’d be any harm in giving him a whirl. I don’t have a problem with Dan. It’s only his sister, Natasha, that I am still pissed off with, because of her pronunciation of the word ‘hyperbole’, in her only UK number one – ‘These Words’ – back in 2004. I went a bit Paul Gambaccini there. I hope you appreciate that I looked up those additional pop facts, despite my leprosy. It might come up in a pub quiz. If it does, and you win, I want 30p. 

While I enjoyed Daniel’s dulcet tones, my dog started poorly. Justin asked me if I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards as soon as I walked in to the office and Skeletor made me a cup of tea in the smallest cup he could find in the kitchen, because he thought it’d be funny. The last laugh was on him, however, when I promptly threw it over myself. 

The lack of liquid meant that I only had third degree burns over a quarter of my leg, rather than the whole limb, so I’d probably still have been able to model swimwear. 

I took myself off to the toilets to clean up, and walked into air thick, warm and cloying with someone else’s morning dump. Great. If someone were to join me in there, which they did, I knew I’d be the prime suspect. I thought about announcing my innocence, but instead spent the rest of the day thinking about how she must have returned to her team and gossiped about my rancid backside. And how everyone would just think I did horrible shits in the workplace, and forget about my skills as a dynamic thought leader. 

Tuesday featured a trip to the gym. I am a fan of the cross-trainer, upon which I also perform some rhythmic writhing in time to my music to add an element of dance. I like to think I look cool and sexy, but I often catch a glimpse of myself in action, and I don’t. 

Hand on Your Heart by Kylie Minogue, born on 28 May, 1968, the eldest child of Ron and Carol, started playing. I’d added her greatest hits to my gym playlist when I was a bit pissed. I listened to the lyrics. In short, a bloke has finished with her and she’s not having any of it. She keeps pestering him. “You sound fucking desperate, love,” I told her, while remembering the time I wrote a pathetic letter to a man who broke up with me, begging him not to, and driving to Walsall, of all fucking places, at 2am in the morning, to protest my love in person. And, while he allowed me to fellate him that night for my troubles, the arrogant prick, nothing good came of it. He also looked like Michael Barrymore, so it pisses me off even more about the petrol money I wasted. 

On Wednesday evening I attended an awards event at The Emirates Stadium. A colleague was worried her heels would get caught in the grass, until I assured her the ceremony wasn’t taking place on the actual pitch. Let’s have a quick look at the food: 
Awful. Beef, a potato fondant thing, tortellini and leeks. Two carbs, living on just one plate. And, no matter how much I love gravy, I don’t think it goes with pasta. Especially when it tastes like cheap, tinned oxtail soup. Australian Gary (who believed there was only one type of monkey until around five months ago) thought the food was great. Skeletor and I shot each other a knowing look that said: ‘Gary is both easily pleased and uncultured’.

On Thursday, I mostly felt tired and sick. I saw two pigeons fucking, but didn’t get as excited as I usually would, because of feeling sick and tired. 

On Friday, my mum came down for the weekend. I made her play my fun game of ‘WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE?’ You can watch it HERE if you can be bothered. 

Later, Mr Jus played the game too. You can watch that one too, by CLICKING THESE WORDS. Multimedia, guys.

My mum and I were thrilled to hear with how much we sound like common, northern, male dockers. We also thoroughly enjoyed being chastised for how we’d opened a packet of Cheddars. Like we gave a shit. We’d had two bottles of Prosecco by that point. 

Let’s quickly review this week’s meal. I haven’t kept this short at all. It’s 9.07pm and my sores are leaking down my shin. The liquid’s clear, you’ll be relieved to hear, but I could do with having an evening scratch. Hungry? Let’s eat. 
We had a late breakfast on Sunday at my favourite local cafe – Crossroads. It is not themed in the fashion of the soap opera of the same name, although I am named after one of the show’s characters, fact fans. 

Until a few years ago, I believed I’d been named after Faye Dunaway, due to my excellent baby cheekbones. But no. Turns out I’m named after a character in Crossroads called Faye. Far less glamorous. What makes it worse is that the character of Faye Mansfield, my namesake, was also FRIGID. Look. 

Crossroads is a traditional cafe with traditional values and a yellow menu board. Here it is. Just look at those prices if the light isn’t blinding you. Minimal spelling errors too. 
It also has a fruit machine, as you may have noticed. Not that it’s a selling point. I like it at Crossroads because it’s not pretentious or expensive. The woman who works there is warm, friendly and really makes you feel welcome. I feel happy about her attitude towards the fried breakfast experience. She should win a customer service award. Or at least get a tip from me in future. I feel bad I didn’t leave one, but I paid on my card. I’ll pop in and give her £3 tomorrow. Or £2. Or just not bother. Anyway, here’s my meal again:

I made the schoolboy error of failing to ask for tinned tomatoes rather than regulation ones, so I’ll take a couple of points off, although it’s completely my fault. I was devasted, truth be told, but I didn’t want to cause a scene and get them replaced. Although the lovely lady would have been happy to do so. 

The sausage was superb. I’m not saying it contained more than 80% meat, or even 20%, but it was an exemplary example of a sizzling cylinder. The bacon was thick and crispy enough to catch my attention. And keep it. The fried egg had that heady combination of part runny, part solid yolk. The toast had a cracking crust and the tomatoes weren’t bastard tinned ones, were they? 

The coffee at Crossroads is a mug of frothy milk with a spoon of instant granules lobbed on top. If you’re working class, you’ll know that a coffee made with just boiled milk is a right treat, so this just added an extra frisson of delight at proceedings. The drink was included in the £4.70 price tag.

And finally, because I’m still rambling on, and it’s now 10pm, Mr Jus gives us his verdict:

“I was disappointed you didn’t have the roast dinner. I admire your commitment to being such a good daughter. Having that meal reminds me that I’m confused whether a full English breakfast or a full Irish breakfast came first. And what the differences are. And who thought it was ok to call it a ‘full Irish’ if the other had been invented…”

He carried on for eight minutes on the subject, but I drifted off and started thinking that I’m not a good daughter because I firmly tell my mum to stop talking incessantly and I almost lose my shit over it, which is not kind and nice. I also say ‘WAIT’ to her when crossing the road like she’s an ageing Labrador. I’m not a good daughter at all. 

Mr Jus was a good host to my mum and made her two delicious meals, and didn’t tell her to shut the fuck up, so I haven’t slagged him off much this week. WELL DONE, JUS. I’LL MAKE UP FOR IT NEXT WEEK. 

So, despite not being a traditional Sunday dinner, my meal did not disappoint me. I couldn’t face cabbage at 11.30am. I shall return to Crossroads to sample one. They’re just £5.90. Get in. 

Score: 28/33

Thirty One: Côte, Covent Garden, London

The venue: Côte, St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, WC4

The Sunday dinner: Langoustine tails, steak frites, peach crumble – consumed on Saturday evening. 

The price: £13.95 for three courses.

THE POSITIONING STATEMENT: I’ve been advised that if I wish to continue featuring ALL TRUE stories about Mr Jus, which I do, I must “temper them with some happiness”.

Turns out he thinks people will believe I’m deeply unhappy and trapped in a loveless relationship (mostly untrue) and that he is a crazy weirdo (completely true). As I’m a crazier weirdo, who often tells inanimate objects to “PISS OFF” and who has cried in front of a mirror on several occasions to see what I look like (fucking awful), I didn’t realise it had all become a little testing for him. 

I felt really bad that I hadn’t considered his feelings. He’s a bit disconcerted, you see, as some of his friends read these posts and get an insight into what goes on behind closed doors. He starts to tell an anecdote and is interrupted, because they’ve already read about it in the blog. 

Feelings of regret and respectful understanding soon turned to blind panic. If I was banned from moaning about him in every third paragraph, where would I get my material from? He’s my main source/sauce. Let’s face it – Mr Jus is the star of these posts.*

*He isn’t. I am. I put the graft in. He’s just one of my muses, alongside gravy granules and booze.

So, here’s my disclaimer: I’m happy. Mr Jus makes me happy. I love him. But that does not mean I don’t think he’s a selfish little twat at times. And he thinks I’m a bloated borderline alcoholic. We all have our faults. But relationships are about acceptance and laughter. And we laugh a lot. Mostly due to my brilliant comedic timing and acerbic wit, but I’m more than happy to be the main contributor. I’ve always been a giver. And now, I give to you, dear and valued readers, a round-up of the week that was…

On Monday, I decided to take decisive action to address my many failings. I realised that I must first develop a mantra. I needed a positive mental attitude. Early ideas included:

  • YOU CAN ALL FUCK OFF
  • STOP EATING AND DRINKING, YOU GREEDY BITCH
  • CALM YOUR SHIT DOWN, FAYE

I quickly concluded they were far too sweary and aggressive, which are just two of the ugly traits I’d like to distance myself from. 

Thankfully, because I’m an esteemed food critic as well as inspirational, motivational woman, I was able to rustle up a RECIPE FOR SUCCESS, combining my two passions of business leadership and culinary excellence. Care to know the ingredients? Thought so. And I’m happy to share, unlike the sneaky shit that is Colonel Sanders. It’s a simple dish, that’s also vegan, gluten free, contains no nuts and is suitable for the lactose intolerant. Here it is, in all its twee glory:

Serve a soupçon of serenity, topped with a tablespoon of tolerance, delivered with a dollop of determination. 

I quickly workshopped my RECIPE FOR SUCCESS to develop my MONDAY MANTRA:

Serene. Tolerant. Determined. 

Serene. Tolerant. Determined. 

Serene. Tolerant. Determined. 

Now say them aloud. Go on. Don’t be shy. 

Serene. Tolerant. Determined. 

Feels good, doesn’t it? 

They’re the three things I have decided to spend the week, and then the rest of my life, striving to be. You can join me if you like. Use my Monday Mantra. Embrace my STD.

I told my team about my new approach to life and they immediately set about trying to boil my piss, rather than doing any meaningful work, as is their way.

I just smiled and used the Monday Mantra. I was determined to be tolerant of their childish ways and remain serene. 

Of course, by around 10.45am, I was fucking fuming, and the day didn’t improve much thereafter. 

Tuesday arrived, signalling my second day without booze, which didn’t help my mood. I suppose I’d remained in holiday-mode because I was constantly reminded of it, as it took Mr Jus eight days to put his fucking suitcase away. 

We watched Wimbledon highlights that evening and drank sparkling water. I asked Mr Jus who he wanted to win. He chose the match’s underdog. I was happy with his thinking as I always like a giant-killer. I asked if he’d change his mind if he learned the player had a unicorn obsession and collected/believed in them. 

“No,” he advised. “That would be ok. I’d only change my support if I found out he was an advocate for the Italian police force.”

It’s clearly going to take him a very long time to get over that incident. 

On Wednesday morning, as I got ready for work, Mr Jus randomly decided to open a new business; a dog grooming parlour on my side of the bed. Here he is with his first customer:

I left him to it, worried safe I’d choke to death on a hairball as I slept that night, but comforted by the fact that it’d only a matter of time before he lost his fucking marbles good and proper. 

The day’s highlight involved being thanked by a colleague for passing on my STD, which she’d decided to adopt. Mr Jus wasn’t so gracious and grateful when I gave him syphilis in 2015, so it was nice to receive her praise.

I started Thursday at the gym. It’s another aspect of my new regime and lifestyle. I’ve actually been four days on the trot this week, which I think is commendable. And shows determination. Here are some stats:

Calories burned: 2,747

Number of times I thought I was having a stroke: Between 17 and 35.

I arrived home at 7.40pm that evening, to an unconscious Mr Jus and the Tour de France highlights. He awoke from his slumber to ask me to put the oven on and not to talk during the interviews with Chris Froome. 

I serenely opened a bottle of wine and drank it with determination. I threw an ice cube into the glass, for I sadly did not possess the tolerance to wait for it to chill. 

Friday arrived, and not a day too soon. Skeletor, who is also a keen cyclist, told me how he’d once cycled up a French mountain alone and almost choked to death on some dry baguette and pâté. The tale cheered me up no end, and I’ve enjoyed imagining the scene, and his complete terror and utter panic, several times since.  

Bread was a thread that day, as I got home from work to discover Mr Jus had made a loaf AND cleaned the windows, like the tiny, proactive, bastard lovechild of Paul Hollywood and George Formby. Here’s his impressive bake: 

It was delicious. I tried to tell him how great it was, but the cyclist Geraint Thomas was on the phone. Not to him, but to the presenters of the Tour de France, so he turned up the volume to drown out my voice. I, understandably, found rude and hurtful, so shouted:

“I’LL GIVE NPOWER A RING TO SEE IF THEY’LL ACCEPT COOKED YEAST AS A UTILITY BILL PAYMENT, YOU IGNORANT, JOBLESS SHITE-LARK.”

I awoke on Saturday to discover a lump in my neck. I immediately panicked, believing it to be cancer, before realising that some cunt of a flying insect had bitten me twice in the throat. Phew. I only had to worry about sepsis, or how the swelling would interfere with my windpipe and restrict my breathing. I could sort of relax, but thought I should review a meal that night, in case I didn’t survive until today. 

We went to Côte in Covent Garden to take advantage of their pre-theatre dinner deal. I’ll let you into a little secret – we weren’t even going to the theatre. We’re that zany.  Mr Jus and I are frequent Côte visitors because of that offer but rarely catch a West End show. He did reveal that he’d quite like to see Bat Out Of Hell. I’m going to surprise him with tickets, but hope that we split up before it comes to the date of the performance, because I don’t like Meatloaf that much. 

I also thought it’d be more inclusive to review a restaurant that you don’t have to travel to London to visit.

There’s a Côte in Birmingham down by the canal at The Mailbox, for example. If you’re from Cleethorpes, you’ll find your nearest Côte in Lincoln, because you’re not quite sophisticated enough as a town, or as people, to have your own branch. 

I’m joking, guys. I’m still like you, deep down – just a little more refined and successful, that’s all. Let’s eat. With knives and forks. We’re not from Immingham. (North East Lincs Bantz).

One thing that annoys me about Côte is the obligatory “AND HERE IS YOUR COMPLIMENTARY WATER” announcement. And the worthiness of the receptacle it comes in. 

Listen, Côte, it’s a jug of tap water. You haven’t just surprised me with a free holiday or even a gratis green olive, so please stop bigging it up so much. There’s simply no need. It’s tiresome. Just an idea.

The set menu changes each month. Here’s what I had to choose from:


And here’s what I chose:

I’m afraid I’d got a bit friendly with the starter before remembering to take the photo. But who could blame me? The crisp, breaded coating was a light delight; the langoustine tails meaty and morish. Rocket afforded the dish a peppery punch, tempered and soothed by the generous pot of creamy mayonnaise vert. 

Jesus. I can’t be bothered to write a flouncy paragraph for the main course. It was decent. Good garlic butter. Mr Jus started eating my chips without an official invitation, which annoyed me. 

He then sat and stared at my plate as I tried to continue eating. I ended up cutting and serving him bits of my steak, like he was the family dog. Watching your boyfriend hanker after scraps can be quite off-putting. So I don’t blame Côte for  the marring of my main, but I’ll remove four points all the same.

The thing is – and I’m happiness-tempering here –  one of the many reasons I love Mr Jus is because he sometimes looks like a sweetly pathetic, innocent, wide-eyed, cute little animal. Very much like this chap:  

Look at him. He’s so cute. This fella and Mr Jus could be brothers. Who could resist that face? He even looks slightly troubled behind the eyes like Mr Jus does. Like he could snap at any minute.

Anyway, pudding was a peach crumble. The key findings were:

  • Not enough crumble
  • Too much peach
  • Melted ice cream

Mr Jus got his paws on the remains of that dish too, so he was quite happy. I gave him a pat on the head and a Dentastix from my handbag for being a good boy. 

I was a bit disappointed and wished I’d chosen the chocolate pot – my go-to safety dessert at Côte. I can, and will, vouch for that, should you venture to a branch near you, spurred by this review. Here’s what Mr Jus had to say:

“You can’t beat Côte when it comes to this deal. I always enjoy the food. I’d also like to say thanks to you this week, for being so supportive and for not making me feel pressured to get a job. It’s nice. Thank you.”

He wasn’t even being sarcastic, folks. He genuinely meant it. Which just goes to show how much he fails to listen to me. It’s a good job I adore him. Ignore the fact that I’m now legally obliged to remind you of that, due to his controlling and sinister nature. Have a lovely week, while I continue to suffer at the hands of this monster.


Final score: 26/33

 

Thirty: Malmaison, Manchester


The venue: Malmaison, Manchester

The Sunday dinner: Was a late tea on Wednesday evening. Moules Mariniére. I have had mussels four times this week. Thanks.

The price: £12

Returning to a busy workplace after a holiday, while your partner continues to read, relax and potter about, can be somewhat challenging if you don’t possess my strength of character and resolve. And many of you don’t.  I felt refreshed, revived and raring to go at the start of this week. It’s just who I am. I only cried for two and a half hours on Sunday night, for example. There’s no distress, anger or bitterness to see here. Well, not in this immediate paragraph. It is coming though.  

On Monday, several colleagues asked about my travels, told me I was glowing, and said how pleased they were to see me back. 

Three members of my team, however, led by Skeletor, called me David Dickinson and repeatedly told me to “GO MAKE TEA, YOU LAZY BITCH”. I love working with predictable, unimaginative bullies. I got my own back by a) boring them senseless with travel tales, b) not making the fuckers a drink all week, and c) filing a complaint with HR. 

If you’d like to know more about the calibre of these people, one tried to argue that Basil Brush was a squirrel this week. Another was surprised to learn that your eyelashes aren’t the set you were born with, that there is more than one type of monkey, and that Kent isn’t a city. The third is just a camp-walking, shit-talking skeleton. It was great to be back with the dream team.

On Tuesday, Mr Jus and I returned to The Woodhouse in Dulwich to claim the free fodder and booze I’d negotiated following a fracas over frozen mash. Here, I am, liaising with the zany Mike back in January. 


The venue also happens to be meeting place for cyclists after racing at Crystal Palace, so Mr Jus was keen to see his pals and talk about his Transatlantic Way Race experience. I couldn’t contribute to the fun, lengthy discussions about wattage, The Tour De France, or ‘top-tubing’, but I was able to share three stories about Mr Jus, in addition to the one about his numb cock, with members of the cycling community I’d never met. I revealed: 

  • How he elbowed a middle-aged Japanese woman in the Sistine Chapel, due to crowd-pushing frustrations, his anger management issue and spite. 
  • That when we had a curry in Rome after nine pasta-filled days, he asked for more popadoms. Which isn’t a crime, but he asked an Indian man, who was just another customer walking past, due to his inherent penchant towards racial stereotyping and his upper class sense of entitlement. 
  • When was in his twenties, he got stoned and was really freaked out when the wind repeatedly told him to kill himself, due to the wind being a wise force of nature that should not, on reflection, have been ignored.

How we all chuckled. Well I did, which is all that really matters. Mr Jus will never invite me again, and I suspect some of his Lycra-clad comrades feel sorry that he’s lumbered with me, but I did listen intently at some points and purchased a round, so I’m not all bad. The fish had a decent batter, the chips were fat and crisp and the minted, mushy peas, although small in portion, packed in the taste. Of peas and mint. 

On Wednesday evening, I travelled to Manchester for an overnight stay at Malmaison. On a previous trip, I’d been booked into what appeared to be an exact replica of the hotel from The Shining, so was quite excited at the prospect of not being murdered as I slept.

I travelled with colleagues and wine, as is customary, and realised I was quite pissed upon arrival when I said to the 6ft 7 inch tall guest who held the lift door for me:

“YOU’RE A BIG ONE, AREN’T YOU? ARE YOU A CAGE FIGHTER?”

“I have dabbled,” he responded, so my weird, inappropriate greeting wasn’t completely off the mark, haters. I grappled him into a half Nelson until we reached my floor. I didn’t. There wasn’t the time, and I’d have needed a stepladder to reach the guy’s neck. There wasn’t one. And yet it calls itself a luxury hotel? You do the math. 

After dumping my belongings, I had more wine, along with some mussels and chips in the hotel’s restaurant. My post-holiday diet had already been shot to shit on Monday, so why not? They were DELIGHTFUL. I didn’t even bother to stop using a shell to shovel creamy, garlic sauce into my gob when I was joined by colleagues.

I slept restlessly, despite excellent black-out curtains, plump pillows and wine consumption.

At 3.23am, I was shat on from a great height. Turns out the cage fighter was into some right kinky stuff. I’m lying. He refused to sleep with me. Something about “not really being into old, orange antiques show presenters”, apparently. 

I jest. It is merely a metaphor. I just felt like I’d been shat on from a great height, because I was wide awake with a thirst on, and Malmaison had neglected to provide tea-making facilities. 

I watched two episodes of Will and Grace, grumbling away to myself, while feeling slightly hungover, and in desperate need of coffee,  before getting ready for breakfast. 

I had homemade, chunky, nutty muesli with prunes, Eggs Benedict with a bacon topper and three coffees. Why not? I was on holiday, I continued to misguidedly tell myself. The waiting staff were extremely attentive and friendly. Impressively so and worth a special mention. I shall always think of them fondly.

Feeling as sick as the pig I was, I waddled back upstairs to steal whatever I could lay my hands on. Here’s my haul:

It was during this minesweeping activity that I was left feeling remorseful. Not because I am little more than a common thief, but because I happened upon the kettle, hiding in a cupboard. Turns out they weren’t complete bastards after all. I enjoyed two further coffees and a packet of holiday biscuits to boot. Why not, eh? Trouble soon struck, which I shared on Facebook. As is my way: 

After my deft defecation, I promptly checked out, advising the receptionist that Brian would be requiring the company of his best plunger that day.

I hope you know that I didn’t say that. I’m only 80% as grotesque as I portray myself to be. For example, I recently considered having a wee in the garden, because I couldn’t be bothered to walk upstairs. But I only considered it FLEETINGLY. There’s the distinction. Anyway, I enjoyed Malmaison Manchester, although I couldn’t find a plug socket close to my bed, which was annoying.

And, because I’m not properly reviewing a Sunday dinner this week, I shall rate the experience. The Sunday Dinner Diaries now feature travel and accommodation reviews. I’m broadening its scope. 

Final score: 25/33

I’d usually stop here, but the week is not over. So let’s continue. 

I arrived back in London at around 9pm on Thursday evening. It’s just the kind of time influential business leaders keep. 

Mr Jus welcomed me home by telling me how he’d walked an attractive 30 year old woman back to the house to mend her bike earlier in the day. I consoled myself with the fact she’d have considered him to be a creepy, older, predatory stranger and potential rapist. I must admit, however, I felt a pang of anxiety and jealousy. And then sheer and absolute fucking disgust when I realised he’d helped a damsel in distress, but had failed to clean the fucking shower screen. Still, I merely made jovial remarks as I purchased tickets for a local cage fight in the hope I’d see lift guy again.

On Friday morning, Mr Jus didn’t help matters when he looked up from his Kindle, as he lay sprawled out in bed, to ask:

“Is it possible I could get another coffee?”

And, while I’d have loved to have continued to wait on him hand and foot, I had a train to catch. 

“Fuck off,” I replied, as I set off, for the fifth time that week, to make a genuine and lasting contribution to the economy and our society. 

I was pleased as punch the working week was over that evening, mind. 

Mr Jus and I celebrated by dining in the garden among ants’ nests and dried dog piss. 

He made a puttanesca – a dish requiring twenty minutes preporatory time, which meant there was little time in the ten hours he had available to him to clean the shower screen. 

He’s really taken to his new life of unemployment, wearing the same socks for days and singing the ‘Autoglass Repair, Autoglass Replace’ jingle, roughly every 17 minutes. He can also recite, word for word, two pay day loan adverts. He’s stopped short of ordering stuff from QVC, but I imagine it’s only a matter of days before we have our own machine for making cucumber swans. 

He told me he’d had difficulty unraveling washing from the machine. How I should ensure each mop frond is contained within its allotted area if I used it again, as I’d left some out when I mopped up water from the dog bowl. He sang the Autoglass advert refrain again, followed, inexplicably, by a falsetto version of ‘Bright Eyes’. 

I asked if he’d be hurt if he logged on to Twitter and read the following:

THAT OLD TINY PAEDOPHILE NEXT DOOR IS SINGING SONGS ABOUT DEAD RABBITS IN HIS GARDEN. I’VE HAD TO COME IN AND CLOSE THE WINDOWS. 

He said it sounded like it contained more than 144 characters. 

I’ve reviewed his CV this week as I know he’s been busy watching the Tour De France and must be exhausted. In his original, he mentions TWICE that he is CRB checked and can work in schools. I think this just raises suspicion. 

The ‘NOT A NONCE’ verification is called Disclosure Scotland now, I believe, so his certificate probably isn’t even valid, let alone a selling point. He’ll look at my amends when he’s finished watching cycling and not cleaning the shower screen. 

To be fair, he’s made an attempt this weekend to show more affection and appreciation. He also said he wouldn’t be comfortable if I retired and started up a dominatrix puppy fetish boarding kennel in Spain. So that’s something, isn’t it? He cares, doesn’t he? I mean, my dreams are crushed, but still. 

As a thank you, I’ve decided to give him his own section of these posts and elevate his weekly quote into something more substantial. What better gift to him, and to you, than creating ‘The Mr Jus Reviews’ YouTube channel.

The concept needs refinement, so I apologise in advance, but it’s a start. Here, in Mr Jus Reviews’ inaugural week, he tells us all we need to know about sake. Here’s the link.

Insightful stuff. Earlier today he asked: 

“You would tell me if you were unhappy, wouldn’t you?”

“Of course,” I replied, as I embraced his tiny frame. It was at that moment I wished I had the upper arm strength to hold him high above my head, like a mange-riddled Simba, and proclaim: “I SPELL OUT MY INNATE UNHAPPINESS EACH AND EVERY WEEK IN MY BLOG POSTS, FOR FUCK’S SAKE. HOW MANY CLUES DO YOU WANT? WHY IS THIS NOT SINKING IN?” before breaking into a rousing rendition of Circle Of Life.

But my arms are weak. So it didn’t happen. Instead, I held him close and silently prayed that he gets around to cleaning the shower screen before 7pm on Tuesday, 11 July, as that is the cut off point before I seriously start to lose my shit. And none of us want to see that happen. Have a lovely week.