All posts by thirteenfingers

3 miserable verses

A very vague novel idea. Here are some openings, although they all work well together as one. I like verse III the most. A novel that is like a contemporary American work, painfully real but very poetic in its awfulness. Reveals the misery of the mundane, the desperation of the every day. Finds romanticism within the ordinary. Something magical will happen to this otherwise average character – but the world will never lose its grittiness. No frills, in spite of it.

I.
Up until now, any money I’ve had, I pissed it away. I don’t fucking know where any of it went. I imagine myself chucking a lit match onto a pile of cash. Sometimes it makes me feel sick; other times, I rejoice in the cleanliness of having nothing, and wish perhaps that I had even less, less and less to lose. The shame of privilege always kicks in.

II.
I am disenchanted with my life. My father compares me to every other person my age, and older, and younger, but always more successful. They are more hardworking than I am, I must be lacking, all of my fucking money is gone. And I am a brainless imp beneath the manager, who spends her 8-hour shift writing up the staff rota for a soulless suburban high street store.

III.
It is good to be ragged and pained. It is worth it. You might then learn something. From disease and dust, from the grime and gore. There rises the man. Not from the sand nor ocean, not sun, nor hope nor glee. The man, the woman, the beast arises, from the grimness, gutter, blood and rot; crime and anger, deception, foulness, fear and lust. There it grows, there it blossoms, flowers in the rancid muck.

Prose and featured image by Y.L.H.

Eating the way you’re meant to in Madrid

The restaurants in Madrid frequented by the local Spanish people serve simplistic dishes that are full of singular, intense flavours. Fresh ingredients are centre stage; olive oil, sea salt and lemon are complimentary additions. The traditional paella is rich with dark, cooked tomato. The cuisine is modest, down to earth, and is absolutely all about the act of sharing food and drink with good company. Food bursting with love! Beautiful Madrid.

Butternut Squash Risotto Recipe

My famous butternut squash risotto recipe, with spinach, pancetta and pine nuts. Beautiful colours; strong, autumnal flavours. Don’t be put off by the lengthy method – this recipe is all about putting one thing aside, whilst you move onto another. Very therapeutic. Interestingly, I have never used wine when making this particular risotto. I am prepared to pay for my sins.

Butternut Squash Risotto (Serves 4)

Ingredients
50 ml olive oil plus some for drizzling
1 large butternut squash
Salt and pepper for seasoning
1 large white onion
200g arborio risotto rice
1 litre vegetable stock, give or take
100g grated parmesan
200g fresh spinach leaves
80g diced pancetta (or you can cube some yourself)
50 g fresh pine nuts

Method
Preheat oven to 190-200C. Prepare the butternut squash. Peel the skin and remove the seeds. This can be tricky: I suggest a large knife, and placing a tea towel underneath your chopping board to prevent any dangerous slipping. Cube the prepared squash into roughly 2cm cubes, doesn’t have to be neat. Place squash in large baking tray, drizzle generously with olive oil. Season. Mix it all about so everything is coated in lovely oil. Place in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the squash is really browning on the edges and getting chewy on the corners.

Whilst the squash is cooking, start the risotto. Prepare the stock: heat roughly 1 litre of water in a saucepan and add the appropriate amount of vegetable stock cubes or gel, whatever you like. Whilst the stock is heating, cut the white onion into cubes, as small as you can manage. But don’t grate it. Heat the 50ml of olive oil in another large saucepan over medium heat, then add the onion and cook at a good pace, until soft and golden on the edges.

Now pour your 200g of arborio rice in with your onions. Stir so that all of the rice grains are coated in the oil. Cook them so you can hear the rice sizzling, until it begins to go translucent slightly. At this point, you can begin adding the hot stock to the rice, one cup at a time. You add a cup, stir occasionally, until most of the stock has been absorbed, then you add the next cup.

Tip 1: If you have the waxy end of a parmesan block left, after you’ve grated your 100g, you can add this block into the rice during cooking, and it will add even more flavour. Remember to remove it once done.

Tip 2: You will have to adjust the temperature of your heat throughout cooking. This is fine and good to do! If the risotto is bubbling like crazy, turn the heat down! Also, keep your stock hot so that it is easier to work with, but this doesn’t necessarily mean keep the heat on under it. You can usually just keep the lid on the stock saucepan whilst cooking.

Continue adding the stock until you reach a consistency you are happy with. You may use less or more than the 1 litre I suggest here. I always try the risotto in order to tell if it is done. The rice should be al dente, not sloppy. You want bite and movement, but not like a thick mash you have to flick off of the spoon. Once satisfied, add your grated parmesan to the risotto and stir to melt. Now, add all of the fresh spinach and stir it into the rice so it is all covered. It will wilt itself. Turn off the heat and allow the risotto to sit. This is good practice.

Check on your butternut squash. If it’s done, just turn off the oven and let it sit in there. I usually put my plates into the turned off oven at this point, to warm them up. Now cook your pancetta in a frying pan, and brown your pine nuts in another. Both will be done very quickly, so keep an eye. I like the pancetta very crispy, that’s easy. The pine nuts must be kept moving around the pan though, so that they are browned evenly and don’t burn.

When those are done, remove the pine nuts to a small bowl, and let the pancetta sit. Take the squash from the oven, and put roughly half to three quarters of the cubes into a food blender or bowl with hand blender. Or you can blend with a fork with some elbow grease. Blend to a smoothish paste.

Scrape the paste into your risotto. Stir to combine – it will turn a stunning orange hue. Serve up the risotto onto warm plates. Evenly serve the cubes of squash left onto each mound of risotto. Now evenly serve the pancetta on top also. Place the pine nuts in the bowl out onto the table, with a spoon, so people can garnish as they wish. Also make sure you serve with some more parmesan to grate over. Gorgeous!

Kids in Heat – Hannah Lou Clark – Lyrics

I was swimming in your eyes, at the heart of the storm, until the earth washed me up in the belly of a beast. I was dancing in your eyes, at the brow of your mind, until the earth drew me back through the turnstile.

We’re just kids in heat, bodies in a reckless beat. We’re just kids in heat, waiting ’til we find our feet.

Let me wipe away your tears, lick the salt from your skin, until we can’t tell where you end and I begin. I’ve been dreaming of your eyes, in the blue of the storm, instant replays in my mind are unsuitable sin.

We’re just kids in heat, bodies in a reckless beat. We’re just kids in heat, waiting ’til we find our feet. We’re just kids in heat, bodies in a reckless beat. We’re just kids in heat, waiting ’til we find our feet.

Listen to ‘Silent Type’ EP by Hannah Lou Clark:

McQueen ‘Dante’ Show – Live Blog

I am writing this as I watch McQueen’s show ‘Dante’ – my mother is passive-aggressively banging things around the living room. The lights at the show have come up – the drums have started so I have just paused the video so I can go and get my headphones. I think this will make the experience more intense…

The headphones are on.

First look is out on the runway. Second and third, looking around as if stumbled upon this throng of old people, poorly-dressed people. Arrows pointing up and down the body and sheers revealing the very finale of the back, McQueen’s famous bumster. I love the long hair like thick rope swinging across the back. The fit of these trousers is perfect, how is that? The fur collar and cuff coats are so sexy but I hate the shoes. Although it also helps me understand how McQueen wanted to portray women.

A model has come down the runway in mini skirt with her legs bare, it’s so attractive. And horns and lace are beginning to show up on the pieces. The loitering males are all shorter than the women and staring at the women. I love the mix of grey and sheer nude.

6:09 – the skeletal mask clasping across a lace face, maybe the most iconic look of this show. I love her. I love the grey and nude so much.

The first black model of the show appears like a flame and sticks out her red tongue as she strokes the low arch of her back – power. McQueen obviously directed the women to hold and stroke their bodies throughout the show, as they have all been doing it.

A female model has just clutched the face of a male model like he is a sorry child and she has no sympathy.

There are pieces here I don’t like but I think that’s the idea.

The purple is garish and even more so used as a pinstripe fabric – but pale lilac corset. These women look like the sadistic office workers of the underworld. They file your sins into alphabetic order.

A purple arrow clearly points down into the floor, down to the woman’s vagina, down to hell. Am I reading too much into this?

The lights have gone down again, flickering around the church window depicting Christ, there is bizarre shouting and an out of tune concert seems to play. Oh my god.

Satan’s imp stumbles down the runway with black unicorn horn – grey faces. Does this model realise what jumpsuit she wears? Pointed spikes boned corset zip back. The tight denim mini splattered with bleach, the high neck sleeveless vest like sex on legs!

A woman hides her hand beneath her blazer onto skin – sheer nude backs look like nothing. There are people in the audience talking???

That bare back again, bare chest on sheer embroidery. It gets better and better. Another woman handles a male model like a flea in her way whilst more arrive with their knees and thighs and lots more flashing out from trailing coats – they hold their space between their legs, in her hand over her fishnets, made you look!

I can’t get enough mini skirts.

Lace face arrives again to eat your heart.

It’s going too fast for me now and I can’t keep up.

This beaded piece at 20:47…. overtaken by the roaring priestess in black widow lace! Lace drapes her horns! She has stolen the show. Her fingers curled as she raised her head like a bull witch, matadors flooding the runway to tame the beast! And a high-collar corset clenches at a woman’s waist and breasts and slows her steps to…

Has a man ever felt the pain of corset and heels? I mean the pain to hold it in? Hold in your body, hold in your toes. Strings are playing. Final call. McQueen walks out. I have shivers from the top of my brains down my thighs, shins, back to my eyes again.

If you can’t find a friend, make one!

About to watch ‘May’ on Netflix again. I last watched it on a strange, sunny morning at home, and had to pause it for lunch. It is so peculiar and addictive. The perfect horror movie. I am painfully hungover and wanting something to get lost in and inspire me. Currently listening to Coheed & Cambria for this reason. Also have watched every Grimes interview I could find on YouTube. It all seems to be working.