Listen to Will Self’s latest A Point of View, on the malign influence of the older generation on the young, on the BBC Radio 4 website here.
Itsu is a Japanese-inspired chain of some 40 takeaways and a brace of proper restaurants that are scattered across London’s financial district with a few outliers, including one in Oxford. Itsu – which is a Japanese prefix meaning “when” – was founded by Julian Metcalfe, who is also responsible for Pret A Manger, so you get the semantic synonymy.
I ate in a branch of Itsu near St Paul’s a couple of weeks ago, and for some perverse reason I so enjoyed the experience that I returned to see whether I had been suffering from a hallucination: the decor had seemed so pleasing, the service so light-touch and the food so deliquescent.
Will Self’s review of Mark Kermode’s Hatchet Job, from tomorrow’s Guardian Review.
What a lot of skeuomorphs there are around nowadays – once you begin noticing them, they crop up everywhere. A skeuomorph, for those of you not design-savvy, is any derivative object that treats as ornamental elements that were functional in the original. One of my favourite examples is Anaglypta wallpaper, which I didn’t know – until I was told by the director of the National Gallery, no less – owes its raised ridging and epidermal feel to its origin in the tooled hides that adorned the walls of the wealthy in the 16th century. More modern skeuomorphs would include electric-light fitments designed to resemble candles (complete with artificial blobs of wax), and the half-timbered aspect of the Morris Traveller, that Anglo-Saxon hovel of mid-20th-century automobiles.
Will has written an introduction to this week’s 22nd birthday edition of the Big Issue. Do buy a copy:
“These accounts by Big Issue sellers of their favourite places do not read like conventional descriptions of ‘attractions’; they are the considered opinions of people who know a place bottom up – who’ve experienced it from the perspective of the pavement and cardboard-box-bash; who’ve filtered it through the harsh realisation that to be here, now, is all they have.
“This is the queered topography of people who for most of the time are simply not perceived by the great mass of moving in time-and-money motion, and for that reason they have a poignancy and evocativeness of their own.
The latest Real meals column from the New Statesman is here.
Five Guys is a US fast-food chain that’s been high-profile there for some years. This is for two reasons: way back in 2009, President Oburger – sorry, I mean Obama – made a televised visit to one of its burger joints in Washington, DC and since then he’s been subject to holding press conferences there whenever it’s too rainy for the Rose Garden. So politically influential has Five Guys become that when the Washington Examiner was scrabbling for objectors to the president’s new health insurance scheme – not, as you realise, a difficult task – it alighted on a franchisee owner of eight Five Guys outlets, who did indeed oblige by saying that he’d have to jack up his prices in order to pay the mandatory employers’ levy.
At the speed awareness course run by AA DriveTech somewhere in the arse-end of the Angel, I run into Stephen Bayley, the design guru. Bayley is the author of (among many other works) Sex, Drink and Fast Cars, a copy of which he rather opportunistically has in the Gladstone bag he’s lugging along at the end of his cream-linen-clad arm. A quick exchange establishes that he, like me, was nabbed by the speed cameras on Tower Bridge doing 27mph. Our admission calls forth from our fellow course participants, who are sitting on plastic stacking chairs waiting to undergo the “registration process”, that they – old, young, black, white, brown, male, female, gay and straight – are all guilty of exactly the same offence.
A while ago, a regular round-robin emailer, Hassan (big-up to him), sent me a link to a Palestinian “Gangnam Style” video on YouTube. In this, a group of young men living in the Gaza Strip do all of the things that the South Korean rich kids do in the original Psy pop promo. That they’re confined in what is – to all intents and purposes – a giant concentration camp soon becomes painfully clear: they have to push their car in to the petrol station; they have no money to hang out in stylish bars – and there are no stylish bars anyway; nor, for self-evident reasons, are there a lot of scantily clad young women around agitating their booties, so instead our posse is reduced to single-sex dancing on the scabrous strip that passes for a beach.