Saturday, 9 May 2009

Guilty Pleasures (not technically a meme)



Lovely Foxy emailed me a link to a Guardian article about how top chefs secretly love crisps/salad cream etc. Actually quite fun (and secretly reassuring) to read, although I say Spot The Pseud. I don't think homemade blueberry pancakes count as guilty - doesn't a REAL guilty pleasure have to have a brand name in front of it? So as a tribute (mostly to Angela Hartnett - I think I love her) I am giving you a selection of guilty pleasures. Not really guilty pleasures, because obviously I'm too embarrassed to admit to them (lard! Marion Zimmer Bradley! "Clouds Across The Moon" by The Rah Band! Aaaaaaarghh!!!) but the socially acceptable ones...

Food : BabyBel cheese. Walker's Prawn Cocktail crisps. Fanta. Findus Crispy Pancakes. Hellmann's Mayonnaise. HP Sauce. Lemon barley water. That horrible (yet compulsive) tinned chicken supreme you can get from M&S. The chunky peanut butter KitKat. Cheap shish kebab in limp pitta with hummus and extra pickled chillies, hold the salad. Bearing in mind that I'm on a very low carb diet, most of these are things I have feverish withdrawal dreams about (as are pasta, roasties and toast).

Books : How dangerous is it when you work in a bookshop to admit that while you do mostly read interesting and worthwhile literature, sometimes you crave the book equivalent of a bag of crisps? To which end:

"Gone With the Wind" - a pot-boiler, true, but the absolute queen of pot-boilers. It has transcended its pot-boilerdom in the same way that Bizet's "Carmen" has.

-anything by Jilly Cooper - to be read behind the adult equivalent of a bikeshed, chewing your hand so you don't shriek out loud with delighted schadenfreude as she blithely describes inner-city comp school children as "black and terribly sweet really", and play Spot The Hero (he's inevitably the one with a dog - also English, posh, charmingly slobbish) Or Villain (foreign, greasy, cruel to animals, into kinky sex).

And. With a deep breath, I will admit that I am currently sniggering in secret over "Fools Rush In" by Anthea Turner. It was notorious in my W*terstone's days as the book that sold about 47 copies nationwide (well, in W*terstone's, anyway), never even made it into paperback, and ended up mostly pulped. It is, nonetheless, an object of awful majesty. It cost me 1p plus p+p on Amazon. Not only is it a testament to the most hilariously twee, self-congratulatory personality I've ever come across, but it is also ghostwritten - and even that didn't stop it being compellingly terrible. Only a genuine fool would ask a very very bad chick-lit writer to ghost her autobiography. Some choice phrases: "My little hand strayed to the chocolate box" (she's in her 30s at this point), "My eyes filled with tears as I watched him drive away in his Jaguar" (good to know that as your One True Love drives out of your life you can appreciate a fine automobile) , "The gentle British holidaymakers (this is in Magaluf! - ed.) were devastated by the news of Princess Diana's death. I gave them what comfort I could." She also has a disturbing tendency to refer to her more successful sexual encounters with the phrase "It was good to be in experienced hands". I am torn between recommending it (seriously, it's a whole Fray Bentos steak 'n' kidney pie of awfulness) and really not wanting to give it any more press than this. Examine your consciences. 1p on Amazon. I will say no more.

Music/TV/Film: - I think I'll do that next time. I'm exhausted by the literary equivalent of a binge on salad cream and tinned pineapple rings.

18 comments:

Tania Kindersley said...

'My eyes filled with tears as he drove away in his Jaguar' is best line EVER. I am going to recite it to myself every morning on waking.

I too adore Babybel. Also love a really crappy pork pie, not the posh ones. And have an unfailing love for a Quaver. Otherwise am of course tremendous food snob.

For books, I actually have a secret cupboard of shame. Out on display on shelves are Mrs Woolf, Mrs Parker, F Scott Fitz, both Eliots, Paul Auster etc etc. In cupboard of shame is: Dick Francis, Agatha Christie, Jilly Cooper and Georgette Heyer. But then I discover that AS Byatt adores Georgette, so perhaps she can come out of the dark. All those moody aristos in tight breeches; be still my beating heart.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Tania - It truly is a work of inadvertent comic genius. The love scenes are a particular delight. Apparently in Real Life the orange-tanned and bouffe-haired Grant is about 5'5" and has a worryingly big bobbly head like a dashboard ornament. I also love a really crappy pork pie. Had a very high-quality one once which simply fell apart before I got it home. What's the point of that? Hot water crust should be rockhard and lined with cold lard and that odd dog-foody jelly. If I wanted flaky pastry I'd have gone for a Gregg's cheese pasty!!!
Don't start me on Georgette Heyer. Or, for that matter, Mary Stewart. First ahem ladylike stirrings were for the gardener in "Touch Not The Cat" (swoon).

Rol said...

"Examine your consciences. 1p on Amazon."

Are you selling your copy?

Make it 2p and that's a 100% profit.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Rol - especially if I charge £2.75 for postage and it's less! Need to spread the love.

Nora Johnson said...

Time to 'fess up! I don’t have a secret cupboard of shame since I’m something of a hoarder - set texts from college days are still propping up the bookshelves more or less alphabetically. So you’ll see (Thomas) Mann next to (Henning) Mankell (wonderful Wallander) and Brecht cheek by jowl with (James Lee) Burke. This once had unexpected results. Glancing at the shelves one day (tut-tutting & frowning deeply at all the Germanic stuff), one (supremely well-read) acquaintance at last drew breath, fixed her gaze on one particular book and commented in a most approving manner, “Oh, I see you like Doris Lessing at least?”
“Er, no,” I replied anxiously. “Actually, it’s Gotthold Lessing, the eighteenth century German dramatist.”
She didn’t mention books to me ever again…

The Poet Laura-eate said...

The Anthea Turner autobiography sounds as ghastly as she does and is doubtless a very faithful rendition of the real thing, ghost writer or no. Car crash reading or what? I imagine she'd be a dreadful 'lay' having to tidy the boudoir and primp herself for at least an hour in lieu of foreplay. Though why she would need a lover when she has a mirror...

My guiltiest pleasure is Chat It's Fate and Take a Break's Fate & Fortune Magazine (incorporating the columnist Texas, the Psychic Horse') Often hilarious yet strangely comforting hokum, these monthy 'fixes' are the nearest I get to a full-blown wimmin's magazine. I don't regard Private Eye as a guilty pleasure, but essential reading to find out what's really going on!

Foodwise, I deny myself nothing as being too lavish (unless I really can't afford it), but then I eat quite sensibly as a matter of course and the luxury foods I like would be too rich to quaff all in one sitting.

French Fancy said...

Aw, I wish I had the chance to try the chickeny tin thing from M&S. Now that is the sort of thing you miss living in the Land of Food

A question for you - how many bottles of perfume do you have?

Steerforth said...

Pork pie with egg in the middle, ELO, driving very fast...

Oh God, that's Jeremy Clarkson.

Excuse me while I attach a hose pipe to my exhaust.

Aparatchick said...

I had to google her, having never heard of Anthea Turner. She does sound like a train wreck: Celebrity Big Brother, 100 Worst Britons, husband #2 leaving his wife for her, the wedding sponsored by Cadbury, the "Perfect Housewife" multi-media empire (really? Perfect Housewife? People watched it?), and a show called "Help Me, Anthea, I'm Infested" (I saw that on Wikipedia - they were making that up, weren't they?).

But I'm truly sorry to say that this part about her motorcycle accident made me laugh heartily: "at the last minute it was decided that Anthea would sit on the back of the truck, she would also take her cue from somebody behind the camera which, unknowingly to the camera crew, became the same cue used to ignite the pyrotechnics." Unknowingly to the camera crew - wanna bet?

OK, I'm saying 10 Hail Marys and an Our Father right now.

Perfumeshrine said...

"An object of awful majesty." You know how to excite and provide huge intrigue, lady!! I had no idea who the hell this person was and now I must seek out the little hand that strayed into the keypad...er...the chocolate box, I meant.

Speaking of chocolate and guilty pleasures, I can't keep myself from shredding dark chocolate on almost everything :/ It's a good antioxidant I lullaby myself into thinking and it makes for instant dessert. And pita with hummus is just too good for words, although I haven't ever found a ready-made one to really like (I know, I am spoiling the game, but not for want of trying!) I do love me some Ruffles though from time to time: how's that for cheap guilt?
Pity one has to abandon these in view of bikini season :-(

I rather think Agatha Christie is nice. No need to hide her. I usually read her while on plane, makes the fellow passengers gain a whole new layer of ...interest. (LOL)Seriously, it makes time fly!

Lucy Fishwife said...

Nora - I am constantly being nagged to alphabetise my books but I like keeping them in a strange order that makes sense to (only) me.. ie "Talented Mr Ripley" next to "Impressionist" by Hari Kunzru (identity-theft, unscrupulousness) which leads, via Hari Kunzru's "Transmission" to "Ghostwritten" by David Mitchell (odd cyber-geekishness), etc etc etc. My set texts (Medieval French etc) languish next to The Golden Bough as mythological in nature...

Laura - It's gripping. I read it in one sitting as if wolfing down a party-pack of Matchmakers. Totally not worth the paper it was printed on but nonetheless excellent. Think prior to any bedroom shenanigans she disinfects the affected area. Private Eye required reading in Fishwife household as the only publication that tells the truth! My New Age guilty pleasure = Linda Goodman. I love an astrological generalisation, me.

FF - when living in the Land Of Food I had cravings for baked beans ("haricots en sauce tomate" not remotely similar), Cheddar, and cottage cheese, perversely. Now miss packet mousseline and 4am baguette with steack-hache-frites in it. Not sure how many bottles of perfume I have - wardrobe shelf full, also many 2.5ml samples. Promise I will count and let you know...

Steerforth - I promise you you're not Jeremy Clarkson. If you were, you'd have written that in capitals. I'll see your eggy pork pie and raise you cheap sausage rolls with brown sauce.

Aparatchick - It totally fried her face, you know. I shouldn't laugh as she has in fact made a full recovery. Friend of mine says she was the only other person in a spa pool with the fragrant Anth 'n' Grant - they looked at her as if she was a tramp, then summoned a flunky, pointed at her (my friend) and said "Why?" ...

PS - You saint. Dark chocolate so nearly virtuous it barely counts as a guilty pleasure! Hummus also frankly health food! Substitute the words "cheap milk chocolate" and "sour cream dip" and you're further down the road to perdition. Love Agatha Christie too; one of my favourite guilty movies of all time is "Murder on the Orient Express". Love the music, love Albert Finney, most especially love Wendy Hiller.

JRSM said...

Coke spiders. So very sophisticated.
I've never read a Jilly Cooper novel, but to my surprise she keeps popping up and writing affectionate, funny introductions to very good, long-neglected books EM Delafield, Barbara Pym, that sort of thing). This prevents me from being able to properly dislike her. Very unsettling.

French Fancy said...

*Jennifer Jason Leigh as Amy Archer* -

that caught my eye and I thought, my goodness The Archers have gone very upmarket. This is true, btw!

Perfumeshrine said...

Ah, the princess Dragomirov(sp?)."And I need my beauty sleep!" in her booming deep voice... A glorious character played by a great Dame.

mysterycreature said...

I love all Jilly Cooper books. I generally get slghtly snobbish about books (I don't mean to, it just happens), but Jilly Cooper writes the most self indulgent books I know. The literary equivilent of Ben&Jerrys, just with added sex! The most sumptuous, ridiculous, downright brilliant escapism in the world!

Glad to know I'm not the only one who enjoys them in secret!

Lucy Fishwife said...

JRSM - the very annoying thing about Jilly Cooper is that I don't think she's dim at all, but when she writes a novel she obviously loses her confidence and (sorry guys I love her too but I can back this up with evidence) BORROWS from other authors. I hasten to add, only in her early novels (the ones with girls' names). But yes, she is evidently very well read - and has taste!

FF - I think you'll find that's Fran Katzenjammer you're thinking of...

PS - "Her name was I believe a Miss Free BODY"... pure class.

Mysterycreature- In which case, blushing, I refer you also to the mighty Jennifer Crusie. Same thing only funnier and American. Also more sex.

katyboo1 said...

I confess to loving reading absolutely dreadful autobiography's of 'slebs' for fun. Now I may have to buy Anthea's even though I hate her. This is all your fault, damn your eyes.

It is cool, cool, cool, to love Georgette Heyer as any ninnyhammer knows.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Katyboo - It's totally worth 1p. (Oh and postage). My last appalling sleb bio was "Paula, Michael & Bob" - torrid, ghastly, detailed. Bloody awful prose too("Her blue eyes sparkled with mischief as we met at the parents' evening" etc). Once again, frankly unputdownable. You realise now this awful truth is out I will have to change name and relocate as can't hold my head up as a serious Booksellah any more.