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Sunday, 8 May 2011


 I realised a few years ago that I seem genetically programmed to develop a new - albeit minor - physical problem every few years. At the age of nine I was diagnosed as partially asthmatic, at 12 I had my first migraine, at 16 I became short sighted, at 18 depressed and at 21 I got hay fever. Now on the scale of human suffering in the world these are, quite clearly, minor problems. I have not been repeatedly beaten against my will, forced in to slavery, used for hideous genetic experiments or been surgically operated on by a man possessed by the Devil who had gouged his own eyes out and then decided to cut open my rib-cage and hang my skin by steel wires like the guy who spoke Latin in Event Horizon (a bloody good film if I recall). Nevertheless, not having much suffering to draw upon for inspiration other than these minor problems, I feel beholden to have good bitch about them once in a while, hence the topic of today’s title.

  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of the migraine (you lucky, lucky bastards!) people have varying symptoms, lasting for varying lengths of time. In my particular case the initial sign of a migraine is a sudden partial loss of vision, which makes it very hard to see all of somebody’s face, or read anything at all. This area of partial blindness then proceeds to wander all across my field of vision, treading wherever it wishes with lots of flashing lights, before buggering off and leaving me with raging headaches, an aversion to light and loud noise, weakness, nausea (which can often lead to vomiting) and in one case numbness down the length of my left arm. These will usually last me anywhere from forty-five minutes to three hours, leaving noticeable residual effects for about twenty-four hours. 

  To offer an example of how a migraine might affect your vision here is a picture of Scarlett Johansson’s face:
    Beautiful, isn’t it? Who would not want to look at it? ; Its subtle curves, the perfect proportions in harmony with the golden ratio.... But now look at the same image through migraine vision:

  Alternatively you can stand up quickly after you've sat still for a few hours and probably experience something closer to the truth. I guess I just wanted an excuse to look at Scarlett Johansson’s face. It’s an awesome face.

  But I digress.

  Usually the only cure for such a malady is to lie down in a darkened room and drink water. As lame as this may sound however, this has allowed me to listen to many of the dramatised works of Charles Dickens and a lot of Melvin Bragg’s In Our Time (as music just tends to make the headaches worse) providing me with knowledge of the literary history of good and evil and the evolution of the whale. Another advantage is the obvious excuse it provides you for not having to do anything useful, as physical exertion almost always makes you sick. In this hectic day and age, where we are forever pressed to work ourselves to the bone before burning off stress by drinking ourselves in to a coma every weekend, migraines can be argued to be something of a circuit breaker or surge protector, as excessive living (including excessive laziness, stress and alcohol) forever triggers them.

  However, the main disadvantage is that excessive living forever triggers them. Indeed if I even eat too much cheese, chocolate, ice cream, drink too much coffee, or enjoy a night at a house party playing ring of fire, there is a good chance that I will get one the next day. The only real preventative seems to be to lead a healthy life, keeping your body hydrated, eating well, sleeping neither too much nor too little and not drinking to excess... which I suppose is also an advantage. Damn it. I've just disproven my own argument.

  By having reached something of a dichotomy I fear I can go no further. Suffice to say that I consider them a pain in the ass, but they seem to offer some sort of measuring stick for telling me when I need to slow down or speed up. As a result I feel I can’t damn them to Hades, as was my intention. Therefore, on the universal percentage rating, my migraines get 50%. Scarlett Johansson's face naturally gets 100%. 

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

the royal wedding between kate middleton and prince william windsor, and the pizza I made

  That such a momentous occasion has passed in our lifetime is something that we as individuals and lovers of this sceptred isle should be proud of, yet nevertheless when the majority of people are asked the question “where were you when Luke made his pizza”, it is doubtless that thousands will reply that they were attending or watching the royal wedding. This is a point which sadly infuriates me because, as will be obvious to even the most minutely minded of persons, the royal wedding was actually staged to commemorate the making of my pizza. The fact that the making of the pizza went entirely unnoticed by the popular press whilst the wedding has been publicised to manic extremes has become something of a true vexation for me these past four days. Having finally emerged from my depression-induced, alcoholic stupor, I feel it is time that this point were brought to order. 
  The sauce for the topping of the pizza (comprised of garlic, onion, mushroom, red pepper and tomato passata) was in fact the source of the choice of military jacket that Prince William wore on the day of the wedding. The original pinstripe suit with trilby hat and spats shoes was deemed incompatible to the pizza’s colour scheme, and thus at the last minute he was forced to change to his regimental red jacket. The twenty-three buttons on the jacket (the front, the sleeves and of course the shoulders) are symbolic of the twenty-three minutes that the sauce simmered for before I deemed it suitable to be spread on the pizza.

  Whilst it has been publicised that Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress was designed with roses, thistles, daffodils and shamrocks to represent the four territories of the United Kingdom, the truth is that the dress was actually meant to represent the first layer of cheese on the pizza topping. The four plants actually correspond to the four key components of the mixed herbs (marjoram, basil, thyme and oregano) that were added to the cheese to improve the flavour. Also the white colour of the dress was intended to reflect the whiteness of the mild cheddar I chose to use for the first layer of the topping.

  The second layer of the topping was represented at the wedding by the (now) seven core members of the royal family, mimicking the seven pieces of salami I used to create a floral motif on the topping. Just as the seventh (or core) piece of salami sat at the centre of the pizza, so the Queen sits as the central figure of the royal family, whilst the other six (being Phillip, Charles, William, Harry, Camilla and now Catherine) are placed around her. The number of secondary members of the royal family present at the wedding (The other Dukes, Earls, Viscounts and so forth) were limited to correspond exactly to the number of pieces of sweetcorn which also constituted the second layer of the pizza topping. Covering the second layer is the yellow Scottish mature cheddar upon which the colour Queen’s dress and hat were based.

  The Stone of Scone (the symbol of British sovereignty used at all British coronations since 1603) is of course referential to the scone base of the pizza itself. Being a royal wedding, all is conducted under and above the majestic eye of Her Majesty the Queen, so naturally any royal is union sanctified by the sovereignty of the Stone of Scone. The truth of the matter is that Kate Middleton and Prince William’s wedding was designed to mimic the layering system of the pizza: The Queen’s authority (Scottish mature cheddar) presides over the immediate family (salami) and the extended family (sweetcorn) at the union of Catherine Middleton (mild cheddar and mixed herbs) and Prince William (homemade tomato topping) on the sacred foundations of the British Monarchy (the scone base).

  Having cleared up the theory behind the layout of the wedding it seems only fair that I now compare the wedding to the pizza on an even playing field: Whilst the pizza took approximately one and a half hours to make from scratch, the royal wedding had to be planned months in advance. Even on the day itself people from many hundreds of miles away were camped outside Westminster Abbey, waiting nearly twenty-four hours for the ceremony to begin; whereas the pizza cost approximately £5.36 of my own money to buy all the ingredients (with plenty left over to make more), the royal wedding cost millions of pounds in taxpayers’ contributions – many more times the cost of the pizza itself; though the pizza was both delicious and extremely filling (I could have split it in to two meals, but it was so nice I couldn’t resist it) I found the royal wedding to be virtually inedible, with the percentage of uneatable matter present far outweighing the proportion of eatable matter (though I imagine there are many who would happily have a go at the new Duchess of Cambridge). Ultimately as a meal, the royal wedding remains vastly inferior to the pizza, fulfilling none of the requirements one would expect from food.

  As a result of its taste, texture and fulfilment of all food requirements, the pizza scores an impressive universal percentage rating of 92%.

 Sadly having fulfilled none of the requirements necessary to satisfy my hunger, having taken all of the press attention from the true event of celebration and having never acknowledged it even once during the entirety of the ceremony, the wedding receives considerably less in the rankings. However, it regains marks for being a fitting representation to the majesty of my cooking skills and by being considerably lower in fat: 33%.