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King Kong Kudos

All the kids in my tenement block used to play ‘King Kong’ games, during which we took turns to terrify innocent girls with our growls and dangling arms. (Good training for life in 1970’s Glasgow). An old poster for the movie caught my eye today, and I got to thinking how much the sequence of King Kong films tells us about our ongoing wrangle with sexual mores in the 21st century.

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Soldiers in the Army of the Word

Trigger Warning! This post contains content of a poly(syllabic) nature and addresses the trans(actional) paradigm of human discourse to illustrate that wrongspeak and wrongthink are illusory, subjective products of an immature, oppositional mindset likely to deliver unfashionably binary outcomes. Okay? Glad we’re all on the same page. (All three of us I suspect, by this point but hey-ho.) Editor’s note: To optimise your Outside Inigo experience, this post is best read out loud in a safe space.

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Goatherd Pie

Goatherd Pie is a lot like shepherd’s pie but a little hornier. Beef mince, chopped onion, carrot, celery, garlic, chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, a tin of toms, rosemary, thyme, or your own favourite herbs. Cook in a pan for as long as you like – 20 minutes at high heat is enough, but slower with heat lower is tastier. Also your guests have time to get hungry and will, as a result, be less critical. Top the beef stuff with potato mash zizzed up with Parmesan, a fresh egg and butter. Serve much later than promised, so that your guests are already drunk and starving, and everyone will compliment your skill. The process, as performed by my own fair hands, can be viewed on a short but sweet video on Youtube by clicking here : INIGO’S GOATHERD PIE The video was shot on location (my brother’s tiny, sordid kitchen in Glasgow) and a lot of malt whisky was consumed while the camera rolled. Enjoy!

Absolutely no goats were harmed in the production of the video “Goatherd Pie at Inigo’s”

Chillification

My relationship with chillies got off to a bad start. I had very little interest in food until aged about 25, when my girlfriend tried to persuade me that Indian food was a great thing. To me, Indian food was a cult thing that dodgy people did in weird, purple and green fronted high-street clubs, which smelled of sharp, alien poisons. Having coaxed me over the threshold of one, I bravely submitted to a portion of chicken Korma. I like it very much. We returned to this restaurant -I wasn’t going to risk any other just yet- the following week, and each week afterwards. And every week I inched my way up the heat ladder until I was devouring Bangalore Phal Dash -a rather hot dish- and demanding they take it to the max of chillification. The young priests in the Deptford Tandoori were amused by their new convert and cheerfully piled on the capiscum until I could just about fry popadoms with my breath.

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400 is a big number

400 pounds in cash felt like a lot of money to me on June 17th 1992, as I handed it to a bookmaker in the betting ring at Royal Ascot. At odds of seven to four, I was backing a two year-old filly called Lyric Fantasy to beat her twelve rivals in the Queen Mary Stakes. This was, at the time, the largest bet I had ever placed on a racehorse. The gates opened, she burst out of the stalls, shot into the lead, and cruised to the winning line five lengths clear of the second. It was the fastest time ever recorded for a sprint at Ascot since the course opened in 1711. You can see the race on Youtube by clicking HERE

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Mince, tins and appetites

Like sex and money, food can be the highlight of your life or the cross to which you are nailed. Famine to feast; we live on see-saws, tipping between what we want and what we need. Where necessities are scarce, innocence truly is bliss. In the webless world of 1960’s Glasgow, kids like me had no idea if any part of their home life was ‘normal’ or ‘average’. I lived in a tenement flat with my parents and my older brother. Every family I knew lived in a tenement flat. Our home featured zero bathroom facilities, but we had the use of a toilet cubicle -outside on the ground floor down twenty steps- which we shared with five other families. In my street this was perfectly normal.

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2019 just left, by the way

I’m not waving goodbye to the year 2019 so much as crumpling it into a ball to throw at the basket. There’s a tide in time, and some years -like the one just ended- my tide is out. Out of sight. Wishes out of reach, plans out the window, and things running out; like my patience. I’ve become very impatient with the years, particularly since they started flashing by without bothering to wait for me. I began last year daydreaming on a beach and for all I have to show for 2019, I might as well have stayed there.

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Will Spywoman Catch Spyman?

The surveillance expert listens to your moaning orgasm, and pushes the button that starts the secret camera in the lamp beside your bed. As your lover groans in ecstasy, the agent removes his headphones and reaches for a beer: the microphone hidden in the picture-frame on your bedroom wall has done its work. The evidence of your infidelity is now conclusive, unarguable. You will be exposed for a cheat and a liar.

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You Stole My Soul

One book? No contest – it’s got to be Moby Dick. This 19th century masterpiece remains (in my humble opinion) one of the finest works in the English language, and a ripping good yarn to boot. You don’t need to be seamen obsessed (spellcheck please) to love this hymn of praise to life on the ocean wave. There’s something for everyone between these pages. Don’t believe me? – ask the Guardian newspaper : “The book features gay marriage, hits out at slavery and imperialism and predicts the climate crisis. 200 years after the birth of its author, Herman Melville, it has never been more important.

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Enough machines already

how I learned to start worrying and hate the technology

In the year 2000 I was new to the internet. Up to that point I had resisted its charms because I instinctively distrust new things. But then -by sheer luck- I was invited to write for a national newspaper. I understood that like it or not, I would have to go online. I heaved a sigh, bought a computer, plugged wires into holes, read the instructions and soon learned how to waste whole days wandering the web. I loved the process – immediately. I’d always been a book nerd and now the ultimate library was parked on my desk.

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Green Fingers

By the summer of 1999 I knew I would be leaving London for ever, after twenty-five years. Excited to be heading into the countryside, I was determined to squeeze one last jest out of the tragi-comedy of urban life. The south-London council estate where I lived held an oddball collection of ageing hippies and layabouts, most of whom were stoned most of the time. I’d embraced the community in the spirit with which it embraced me, and done my share of self-medication. I’d altered my moods with so many different substances I was nearing saturation point. I was almost too bored to bother getting high. At various times I had been addicted to amphetamines, cocaine and nicotine, but had gone cold-turkey on all three. For a good five years my intoxication had been self-limited to booze and cannabis, and I was now weary of consuming the same old black hash.

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If it’s free it’s worth paying for

What a huge space the word freedom opens. “I’m free” conjures images of jailbreak, chains snapping, statues smashing, tyrannical empires collapsing…or perhaps the opening of a small window and a glimpse of the world outside. It’s in the mind, after all. What is your freedom worth? The loss of your partner? £1000 a week tax-free? (Spoiler alert – nothing is tax-free). Slaves in ancient Rome could buy their freedom. Freedom always came at a price and that’s why wealth is a form of slavery.

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Ask for Whatever You Want

Relief, that’s what we should be feeling. Getting over the fear, past the shock. Yes, you are a sexual creature : enjoy. It’s time to stop behaving as if every sexual engagement is still a matter of life and death. We are the fortunate fornicators -the new model humans. Put the inconveniences of morality to one side for a moment (something we’re all very skilled at doing) and accept that sexual indulgence ain’t what it used to be. Sexual indulgence has been civilised. It’s much easier to find, better understood, relatively unlikely to to kill you and a lot more sophisticated than you think.

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Four Iffy Characters You Need to Read

The Duff Cooper Diaries :edited by John Julius Norwich

I read this ten years ago after a long, drunken lunch with a retired posh spy who had known the writer rather well. On its release, the book caused something of a stir, at least among the kind of people who keep Who’s Who in the front room because they’re in it. A number of his close relatives wanted these diaries burned rather than published. Recording his adventures over a period encompassing both world wars, Cooper revealed himself to be an utterly shameless dog, totally consumed by lust: shagging, gambling and getting royally pissed. Nothing unusual about that, for a spoiled upper-class Viscount, but his public image -until the diaries came out- had been that of a rather serious politician who lived and worked (sort of) right at the heart of the British government in times of grave national crisis. The kind of plummy-voiced con-artist who, if he was alive today, would be all over the Daily Mail and the BBC dishing out goodwill and Coronavirus advice off the back of an envelope. Having said all of which, I loved the book, which is very, very readable, and finished it convinced he must have been tremendous fun to hang out with. He got the Distinguished Service Order for ‘conspicuous gallantry’ after six months at the front in WW1, and unlike many medal-bedecked aristocrats, seems to have earned it, by accounts other than his own. I’ve got a hunch his well-connected relatives had him posted to the heart of the action in the hope of killing him before he could disgrace the Norwich family’s good name. He and Churchill were good pals, and a month after France was liberated, Duff moved to Paris and became the British Ambassador. Probably to take advantage of the superior food and champagne. Armed with an ego to rival Jupiter, he went at life -and his bank account- like a crazed dervish, getting through enough indulgence for three normal men, And I say this as someone who’s had a good stab at the same approach. An inspirational figure for alcoholic sex-addicts who want to be dragged out of life on a burning cross, screaming for more.

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Odd Books to Hunt or Borrow

At the Sound of his HornSarban

A 1960’s peculiarity. Nobody’s entirely sure who the author really was. Sarban is widely assumed to be the pen-name of an already successful ‘mainstream’ writer who didn’t want this lurid novel muddying up their back catalogue. The writing is first class, and I’ll let the back-page blurb speak for itself: The Nazis had won the war and the Third Reich stretched from the Urals to the Atlantic. Central Europe was a vast hunting preserve, ruled with savage authority by Count Hans von Hackelnberg, Master of the Reich’s Forests. The Count’s passion was hunting and at night the sound of his horn echoed eerily through the moonlit forest as his weird hunting pack closed in on its prey. A pack of half-naked cat-girls, the inhuman creations of insane surgery, their bellies starved of meat…

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