August 19, 2007 at 12:28 pm (blog, Family & Friends)

Yesterday I arrived in Edinburgh. Guest of my friend Rich and his partner Vic. They are in London and will arrive this evening. It was raining when I arrived, and Rich had said the key to their basement flat would be under a vase. Their basement flat is on an impressive terrace designed, Google tells me, by the 19th century Victorian architect William Henry Playfair.

I walked passed the US consulate building, having being impressed on my right by Arthur’s Seat, the impressive peak that overlooks the city centre. The first vase I looked under yielded a couple of sleepy worms, as did the next two, and I got worried that I had the wrong address and would have a tough time convincing anyone that I wasn’t an opportunistic burglar. Then, out of the blue, a young blond chap called Jimmy appeared and let me in. Rich had not told be about Jimmy, he probably didn’t fit under a vase which is why he was in a car.

He, I guessed, was a tenant or long-term guest he was setting off.  I then set off to see my sister, Shappi. She is heavily pregnant and performing her show Carry On Shappi every night. It was a surprise to learn that on some nights she does up three shows – taxiing about town, scuttling down the stairways and alleys that give the city its charm and character, doing a spot as a guest, meeting her husband, also a comic, for dinner then doing another gig and coming home. It’s fun and hectic. I saw her show, it was fun but of course, being heavily pregnant affects the consistency of her energy.

It is now 12.35. I will walk to Bismillah Butchers in town and buy meat to cook for Vic and Rich who arrive tonight. I will of course pop in to see my sister too.


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boy and bird

May 19, 2007 at 7:59 pm (blog, Family & Friends)

Other than the owl perched on his shoulder, the school portrait of my cousin Daniel, aged nine, in my parents’ living room, resembles  that of any child in Britain. He wears a white shirt, tie and a big smile, his hair snipped by a seasoned hand.

In a surrealist school they’d twist his head to face the other way. In a few years a parrot should be used. Not as wise as an owl, but you can teach it to swear.

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Happy birthday Paul!

February 22, 2007 at 10:09 am (blog, Family & Friends)


22 Feb 2007. It’s my friend Paul’s birthday today. He is pictured, at a pub in Clapham, south London, next to my friend Sheila who was visting from LA a year and a half ago. Paul doesn’t celebrate birthdays, and certainly won’t his 85th today (it is in fact 35th). Anyway, I had better get to work. Yesterday I was 45mins late. I bought my boss a box of chocolates. Can’t pull the same trick today. I hope Paul gets married this year.

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Phil’s birthday

January 18, 2007 at 12:52 pm (Double espresso, Family & Friends)


It was my friend Phil’s birthday yesterday and he invited us to a Persian restaurant. Before that he’d sent out this e-greeting that a girlfriend of his sent him. As e-greetings go, it’s pretty hip. I will upload pictures of the restaurant later.

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Off Columbia Road

January 8, 2007 at 4:02 pm (Family & Friends)


Not many parts of London look like this anymore, but this street, off Columbia Road near the East End, is something. Took it last year while visiting Cass, a friend who is opening a shop there. He has a son called Indy. Here he is pictured below with Paul (left). We’ve all known each other for thirty years.


Cass took us for a look around his shop in September.


Not sure what the shop will sell. Paul and I, who live down south, rarely see Cass. When I spoke to Cass on Christmas Day I didn’t ask what the shop will sell.


We went for a pint. And a bite. Cass wouldn’t let us pay. And I wasn’t eating carbs or drinking that night so I had a salad. Painful.


Nothing like a drink with old mates. Even if I had water.


And here are their feet.


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Edinburgh, city of culture II

August 23, 2006 at 7:21 am (Family & Friends)


A fellow blogger asks if I will write more about my recent trip to Edinburgh. On my way to see an overpriced show on Saturday, my friend Rich and his girlfriend stopped at a shop called Richer Sounds (no relation). I decided to buy headphones for my i-Pod (did I just say ‘my i-Pod?’) Anyway, the guy in the store showed me this £30 set ($456) — black. But I got white. When I get home, however, I realised my i-Pod is black.

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Edinburgh, city of culture

August 21, 2006 at 8:06 am (Family & Friends)

Back from Edinburgh festival last night. Made straight for my friends Will and Phil’s house. I call them Will and Disgrace. Phil said the Swedish “lass” he’s dating was having swings. “My girlfriend has swings,” Will chipped in, “two in the garden.”

Most people head straight for shows at the Edinburgh festival. But culture is surely not paying £10 to see Oxford graduates cross reference books they’ve read in shows intended to be funny (by dint of the fact that they are posh, from Oxford and know who Iago is). Funnier are the two small patches of hair I’ve lost at the back of my head. What could they be? A tumour? Cancer of the hair? I’m not too bothered now. It’s the least of my problems. Maybe they result from too much meat. As soon as I reached the city, I found my venue of choice:


I asked the man inside, who was very nice, to hand over all of the minced meat in his tray. He said: “Are you sure?” I am 34 years old. I was sure. “How many you feeding?” he said.

“Three,” I said.

Then he plucked three small chunks of meat and placed them on his board.

“That’s all you need.”

For myself, I wanted to say. Then I thought maybe I’m being greedy, my stomach is playing tricks. I bought double what he suggested and took it to my friend Rich who was waiting in his car. He felt the bag and gestured “What are you thinking? Go back.” I went back, and amid much joshing the butcher relented and sold me the rest. Then we went home, cooked, and went to see children from Oxford cross reference books in overpriced shows.

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Shappi Khorsandi, stand-up comic

August 15, 2006 at 8:13 pm (Family & Friends)


Dad calls, sister’s got a review in the Standard. She’s got some coverage for her show Asylum Speaker in Edinburgh this year, but this review made him really proud. He kept reading it to me. I said, “How do you feel?” He said I keep thinking of her as a child, growing up. I said: “But how do you feel.” He said: “Feel? Hmmm. When Khomeini was returning [to Iran from exile in France in 1979] they asked him the same question. He said ‘Nothing’, he got a lot of stick for that. But now I understand, a sense of happiness, maybe you want to cry.” Life has its good days. Shappi has survived years of us telling her what to do. “Be political, be this, be that.” Now she’s told us where to go, and we’re happy to be there.

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