I've always enjoyed a good Ballardian dystopia and although I haven't read High-Rise, I was keen to see its big-screen adaptation, directed by Ben Wheatley and starring Tom Hiddleston. In High-Rise, life in a luxury apartment building in — "a future that had already taken place" — begins to spiral out of control as the (literally) higher-ups clash with the residents from the lower floors. "Successful people don't want to be reminded when things go wrong," one character notes. The film is dark, satirical, often wickedly funny and with meticulous attention to the 1970s period details. Hiddleston is excellent as ever as the enigmatic newcomer. High-Rise isn't perfect but it is a keenly observed, if troubling, piece — a must for anyone who loved SimTower.
2. Brunch at Beany Green
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was keen to try the brunch at Beany Green but wasn't expecting it to happen so soon. Fortunately, the wonderful Brian of Brian's Coffee Spot organised an Easter Sunday brunch outing for a few coffee bloggers — Dan from Cups of London Coffee, Jess from Eating East and me.
I am generally of the opinion that broccoli is too healthy to feature in a brunch dish, but I can happily make the exception for Beany Green's broccoli and corn fritters, which came with all of the basic brunch food groups — avo, poached egg and bacon — as well as chilli pesto. Delicious and very filling, although I still had room for some toasted coconut bread (almost, but not quite, as good as their banana bread) and a couple of coffees. Beany's diminutive Broadgate Circle location was the perfect place to shelter from the bank holiday showers with excellent company.
3. Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
I've had Nickolas Butler's 2014 debut novel on my iPad for months but only just got round to reading it. I'm glad I did. Shotgun Lovesongs is an understated and rather old-fashioned story of four close friends from a small Wisconsin town. Henry is still farming his family's land; Leland has become a famous musician; Kip is a commodities trader; and Ronny is a washed-up rodeo star. The friends — and the wife of one character — take turns to narrate a chapter, with the story skipping forward (and sometimes backwards) to significant events in their lives. There are weddings, separations and a number of secrets that have remained hidden for years. Male friendship is central to the story, though, and Butler has created a warm and sympathetic group of characters, whose friendships seem very realistic.
4. The Camberwell Arms
There are so many great restaurants on Camberwell Church Street that it takes a considerable amount of time to visit them all. Last Saturday, we had a family lunch at The Camberwell Arms, which was another new one for me. The gastropub is cosily decorated and it was bustling when we visited, with several other groups. The menu is complex and interesting — you probably won't see steak or fish and chips featured. I liked the sound of the gigantes plaki (butter beans in a tomato sauce) but wasn't keen on the feta it came with, so I went for the cod with new potatoes and wild garlic. The fish was delicious, although (perhaps ignorantly) I was expecting a more garlicky taste. The service was great and we had a lovely relaxed meal.
5. Coffee update
I have drunk between two and five cups of coffee per day for the past 15 years or so; that's over 15,000 cups of coffee! But much as I love the drink, I've decided it's time to cut down. In fact, I'm going cold turkey and won't even be drinking decaf. My last coffee was a delicious single-origin Flori Opal from Peru, brewed through my Aeropress. The only problem is that I'm now going to need a new blog name. Suggestions on a postcard, or in the comments, please!
Oh, and happy April!