A Great New ‘Squeeze’ Documentary

This fantastic documentary about British New Wave pioneers Squeeze was aired back home on the BBC a couple of weeks ago. Like Nicky, the band grew up around Deptford, and they may have been known to kick a ball through the dusty streets of East London together at times! They’ve also become a big part of American culture too – the song Up The Junction was a fitting soundtrack to the end of the midseason finale of AMC’s Breaking Bad recently.

Squeeze: Take Me I’m Yours

Damien Hirst’s New Spin Painting Rugs

Young British Artist Damien Hirst is famous for his shocking art installations that force people to contemplate mortality and death. His latest artworks released this week are slightly more mundane than this, however.

These rugs will go better in your front room than a tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde, but given that they range from $48000 upwards, we’re not sure they’re for walking on. Especially since they’re 100% wool! Maybe Hirst created the rugs for people who say ‘modern art? I wouldn’t wipe my feet on it!’

Adele’s Skyfall James Bond Theme!

Adele’s soaring, swooping new Skyfall song, the theme to the latest James Bond film starring Daniel Craig, is out in all its glory. The release marks Global James Bond Day, the 50th Anniversary of the first Bond film, Dr. No.

Adele teamed up with producer Paul Epworth to write the theme song, who she also worked with on her 2011 album ’21’. The theme was recorded with a 77-piece orchestra in London’s Abbey Road Studios. Adele said of the experience: “When we recorded the strings it was one of the proudest moments of my life!” The song was released at 0:07 am UK time, early Thursday evening in America.

Great isn’t it? Now, here are snippets of the other James Bond songs from the 22 films until Skyfall. There are some classics in there we’d almost forgotten about, but some absolute shockers too!

It’s a difficult decision, but we think we like Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die song the best! He performed it at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace don’tcha know? The biggest shock to the system though might be the news that James Bond is actually 50! But having seen a few of the pictures from Skyfall, it looks like he hasn’t aged a bit. Here’s our favorite:

Lastly, could we be celebrating James Bond without a nod to some sort of parody? British comedy legends Adam Buxton & Joe Cornish recorded separate versions of the theme to 2008 Bond film A Quantum of Solace for their radio show, and listeners picked the winner. Both are hilarious, but which do you think won the public vote?

Paralympics Closing Ceremony & Our Favorite Pictures

Last night’s Paralympics Ceremony was a site to behold. Everyone’s raving about Coldplay, Rihanna and Jay-Z, but for us the whole thing was bloody fantastic. And, of course, it’s all about the athletes. Here are some of our favorite images from the event. If there was one summer we could have been back in Blighty for, this was it…

Blimey, what a sight!

British archer Danielle Browne… fab nails!

Paralympic Swimmers… Beautiful!

British runner Richard Whitehead

British swimmer Susannah Rodgers

Prince Harry and Australia’s youngest ever Paralympian Maddison Elliot.

South African Oscar Pistorius, aka Oscar Pistorius

Team USA archer Matt Stutzman

Iraqi Ahmed Naas and Wildan Nukhailawi

Tartar Sauce

Yesterday marked the beginning of National Fishing Month back in Blighty. As there’s nothing much else on the calendar this summer (ahem, Olympics), we’re certain this piscine party will be everyone’s main point of focus. And we’re getting in on the action with this week’s British Pantry, the ideal accompaniment to a nice bit of fish: Tartar Sauce.

A delectable mix of mayonnaise, dill, lemon juice, chopped pickles and capers, this is one of our all-time favorite condiments. We don’t sell any branded varieties in-store, but instead send people around to A Salt & Battery. They make their own from scratch to a recipe they won’t share with anyone – not even us!

We recommend a dollop with a portion of steaming battered haddock and a cold can of shandy. Reminds us of wet summer holidays on British beaches… here’s hoping the Olympics isn’t a washout!

Nicky’s Dad Ted Perry MBE

We’ve got a piece of family history for you today on the blog. Here’s a picture of our dear owner (matriarch to the British expats of NYC, unofficial consular-general and shoulder to cry on for these missing home), Nicola Perry with her sister Louise and her dad Ted on the day he received his MBE.

Check out that handbag!

Ted was a truly remarkable man. After a successful career in the music industry, he founded Hyperion Records in 1980, a classical music label that went on to great success. Here’s an excerpt from his obituary in the Guardian:

“Ted Perry, who has died aged 71, was one of the most industrious and admired characters in the recording industry… [Hyperion Records] became one of the most important of independent companies, adopting an adventurous policy entirely inspired by Perry’s intuition as regards making rare repertory popular. Many thought that his enterprise was foolhardy, but right up to his death, he proved them wholly wrong; there was and is a public for the unusual when presented with discernment.”

He was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 1990 for services to music. Let’s see if Nicky will one day follow in his footsteps to Buckingham Palace!

Independence Day Royal Recap: George III

What with it being Independence Day this week, we thought we’d use our Monday Royal Recap slot to take a look at the last ruling monarch of the US of A: George III. It’s all very tongue and cheek of course and we’re more than happy with our corner of Greenwich Village and a warm Shepherd’s Pie every evening, thank you very much.

The rather dashing King George III

George III was the grandfather of Queen Victoria, and is most famous for being struck down with a mental illness while still on the throne. One common story told how he tried to shake hands with a tree believing it to be the King of Prussia! A film that’s well worth a watch is the marvellous British’The Madness of King George’ made back in 1994. Here’s the trailer:

A few other interesting facts about mad old George are that he fathered 15 children, his favorite hobby was farming and he was the longest reigning monarch up until that point. So that concludes today’s history lesson, which leaves only one more thing to be said: you know what America, you’ve done a lot better off without ’em…. Happy Independence Day!!

Our Signed Eastenders’ Cast – A Gift from Big Mo

Today’s your last chance to share your favorite piece of Cockney rhyming slang with us and be in with a chance of winning tea and scones for two and a tin of our Rosie Lee own brand tea to take home. It seems the perfect opportunity to share with you one of our most cherished items, which has a very strong Cockney heritage: a framed collection of signed postcards from every single member of the Eastenders’ cast!

For those who haven’t seen it, Eastenders is a soap opera set in the fictional East London borough of Walford. Its 27-year run on the BBC has seen more murders, cheating and philandering than the Old Testament – and it’s still going strong. Based in the heartland of Cockney London, it’s an ode to traditional working-class life in the capital that Dickens would be proud.

So how did this priceless artefact come into our possession, you ask? Well, here’s how. One evening a couple of months back, Nicky heard her phone ring at some antisocial hour which she knew meant the call must be from the UK. As New York City’s unofficial British consular, she answered entirely unperturbed. “Nicky, it’s Big Mo!” screeched the distinctive voice down the phone.

Big Mo, played by actress Leila Morse, is a 10-year veteran of Eastenders, who provides the unique blend of light entertainment, mouthy charm and petty crime that – now we come to think of it – is the genetic code of the archetypal affable cockney. Having known her and her mum for a good few years, Nicky was blown away to hear all the news from London – and at the end of the call, Leila said she’d pop a little something in the post. It now hangs pride of place in the store next to the restaurant.

An interesting piece of trivia – Leila Morse is sister to Gary Oldman! And while BBC America well and truly let us down a few years back by axing the show, it’s not hard to find with some nifty googling. In the meantime, here’s a clip of Big Mo in action – and for fans of Ricky Gervais’s Extras – yes that’s ‘Barry from Eastenders’!

Pie, Mash & Jellied Eels – A True Cockney Dinner

Since launching our rhyming slang contest on Tuesday, we seem to have stuck with the cockney theme. We always share a recipe or food feature towards the end of the week, so today’s offering is a proper plate of East London grub… and trust us, you’re in for a treat!

The streets of the traditionally working-class areas of east and south London used to be packed with pie and mash shops, of which sadly only a few still remain. Doing what they say on the tin, these establishments have served up minced beef and onion pies with mashed potatoes since the 1800’s.

But the item on the menu which catches most people’s eye, and is certainly the most peculiar, is jellied eels. Despite many people’s disbelief, they are pretty self-explanatory: eels in jelly.

The most commonly found, and thus cheapest, fish in the Thames, they were set in gelatine to draw out the toxicity of the polluted river. The liquid they are cooked in is mixed with parsley into a sauce (or ‘liquor) which is poured over the pie and mash. Delicious!

Our cockney rhyming slang contest is running until next Tuesday. Let us know your favorite term (either made up or real) and the best will win tea and scones for two and a tin of Rosie Lee tea to take home. Wishing you the best of Donald Duck (luck)!

Apples and pears…. stairs!