Archive for September 2009
Who ever said revenge was a dish best served cold may well have had Nelson Piquet Jr in mind when he said it. The son of the Brazilian world champion certainly got his own back in good style.
It all started back year, in at the Singapore Grand Prix. It was Nelson’s debut season and it was going far from well. It was clear that the Renault team was built firmly around Fernando Alonso, the two time world champion. Nelson’s role was at best a walk-on one. He was, allegedly, given minimal resources and track time to practise. His relationship with his flamboyant team manager was frosty and fracious.
Flavio Briatore was a former business manager of Luciano Bennetton, the fashion magnate. When his boss expressed a desire to start a Formula 1 team Briatore was pushed into the team principle’s role. He knew next to nothing about Motor sports and he had to learn fast. He left the mechanicals to the mechanics and concentrated on the business deals.
Pat Symonds was an old hand at mechanics, and a long serving member of the Bennetton-Renault team. He became Executive Director of Engineering shortly after Renault bought out Bennetton’s remaining shares. In the early 2000s it was this pair that brought Renault back to the front of the grid, racing neck and neck with Ferrari. They brought in Fernando Alonso from Minardi and cheered him on as he took two F1 Championships.
In 2008 they were reforming a new team line up. Fernando Alonso had returned from a miserable year at McLaren, and he was promised top-billing. His team mate was a young hopeful, Nelson Piquet Junior. This handsome young fellow came from a great racing pedigree. He had some success in GP2 and he had ended the season in second place. In 2007 he toiled away as the test driver at Renault.
But in 2008 he was underperforming as a race driver. Alonso was busy making his drive for the championship and Piquet seemed the forgotton man.
In september it was the turn of Singapore to hold it’s first race. Not only was this a street circuit, but it was also the first F1 night-race. Renault was having a difficult season and Alonso had only qualified 15th because of a fuel-pump problem. Briatore and Symonds hatched a fiendish plan to leap-frog him to the front of the grid. They told him to go into the pits for a quick stop, and as he entered, they ordered Piquet to crash.
He gritted his teeth and went for it, probably wondering if he was really being paid enough for all this.
In 2008 the rules stated that the pit lane closes for the first few laps while the safety car is out. As a result Alonso exited the grid a good few places further up the grid than when he left. He duly went on to win the race.
Piquet was questioned about the crash but he officially stated that it had been a simple mistake. He kept his mouth shut about any other motives for over a year.
By August 2009 Piquet’s relationship with his team had soured considerarably. If fact, it was to get downright nasty. Piquet had not performed to expectations and by August Briatore had lost patience and abruptly sacked him. A very public slanging match followed. But Piquet had one card to play up his sleeve.
He approached the FIA, and particularly Max Moseley, with testamony that he had been ordered to crash in Singapore. For Moseley this was manna from heaven. Earlier in 2009 he had been in a very public war with the heads of the F1 teams over the new rules for 2010. In the end the only way he could get them to accept a revised version of the rules was to agree to step down as FIA President at the end of his term. The humiliation, on top of various newspaper alligations about his private life, rankled him. This would be his payback against Briatore and his cronies.
Moseley ordered the FIA to begin an investigation immediately. Piquet gave his testamony on the record. Symonds was offered immunity from prosecution if he testified what really happened. He declined, out of loyalty to his long time friend, Briatore.
On 4th September Renault were charged with interfereing with the outcome of the race, citing a breach of article 151c of the international sporting code. They were called to an extrodinary meeting due on 21 September.
But yesterday, 16th September, it was Briatore and Symonds that chose to depart Renault, pleading no contest against the charges. Piquet and Moseley had their revenge.
Now we just have to wait and see what happens at the extrodinary meeting on the 21st. Stay tuned.
And who said F1 was boring?
Virtually from the day he seized power Muammar Gaddafi presented his country as a safe haven for international terrorism. Much as Fidel Castro had done a decade earlier, he set aside land for bases, instructors, bank accounts, intelligence dossiers, weapons and explosives.
As I have previously stated, Gaddafi wasn’t too fussy who he let in. Some of the factions of crazies that flocked to his banner were chalk and cheese.
The first groups to arrive were radical Muslims opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Angry, zealous and capable of violence, they soon set up shop in the Libyan desert. From there they launched attack after attack on Israeli civilians and military alike.
The umbrella organization was the Palestine Liberation Organization. Their subsections varied from radical communists to right wing Ba’ath-aligned groups.
From there the next group was the Provisional Irish Republican Army. Although a vastly different religion, they were fighting, as they saw it, an Imperialist power occupying their land. They recieved arms and training before slipping back into Northern Ireland. Throughout the 70s and 80s they wreaked havoc against the British army. The PIRA mantained a working relationship with Libya right up to the late 90s.
A similar organisation was ETA, the Basque Seperatist movement. The Basque homeland was a province of Spain that had it’s own language and culture and aspired to become a seperate country. They recieved similar training to the PIRA, how to use car bombs, pipe bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices.
Just to mix the party up a little bit more he invited members of Germany’s Baader-Meinhof group to train. Instead they went to Jordan but he still provided them with arms and some rudimentary training.
In 1978 the Idi Amin regime of Uganda declared war on the neighbouring state of Tanzania, who promptly counter-attacked and led to a messy border conflict. Libya sent 2500 ground troops and Russian or Chinese-built tanks to aid Amin. But it was all to no avail, and the Libyan troops, minus tanks and weapons, were expelled to neutral territory.
The Libyans also aided local Arabic groups in Spanish Sahara, and he was the first to recognize their newly reformed country as Western Sahara.
It may have been the Libyan intelligence agent, al-Magrahi who taught the terrorists how to hijack a plane. He was the head of the Libyan national airline’s security for years.
The Libyans were not adversed to carrying out acts of terrorism of their own, the difference was that they picked targets well out of their depth. Their fighter aircraft took on the US air force during an exercise in international waters, and lost both aircraft. Gaddafi didn’t take it too well. The US cranked up the sanctions.
In 1986 West Berlin was home to La Belle nightclub, which was a favourite spot of the NATO aligned US servicemen. On 5th April at 01.45 am, the place was packed. The bomb went off near the DJ box, a natural focal point. Two US servicemen, Kenneth T Ford and James E Goins, along with a Turkish lady, Nermin Hannay. Two hundred and thirty people were injured.
Ten days later the US reacted like a wounded bear. Their air forces struck at military bases and terrorist training camps up and down the country. The mission was a huge success, in spite of the death of Gaddafi’s innocent daughter.
For Gaddafi this was far from over, and he ordered his agents to strike at an American civil target. They decided to pick a Pan Am flight out of London. It was the darkest moment in the long history of Libyan terrorism, killing a total of 270 people.
He stepped up the sales of arms to the IRA and the PLO, and urged them on to greater acts of violence.
In 1989 Libya went for a repeat performance in the Gulf of Sidra incident. In virtually identical scenario two MiG-23s faced down two F-14 Tomcats. And once again it was 2 – 0 to the United States.
After that things calmed down a little. By the nineties America became obsessed with the Middle East, the terrorist groups started to scale down operations and Libya started it’s long slow rehabilitation.
Ladies and Gentlemen I am afraid it is confirmed this time. Patrick Swayze has finally lost his valient fight against Pancreatic cancer.
He passed away late last night with his wife Lisa at his side.
Patrick was best known for his lead role in Dirty Dancing that turned him into an icon overnight. His picture became a permanent fixture in teenage girl’s bedrooms in the mid eighties. It was expected that the film would be shown in cinemas for one weekend then go straight to video. Instead it became a box-office smash that still captivates a certain generation of women. His later films fared less well, with the exception of Ghost.
In an age when bad behaviour among celebrities is considered acceptable, Patrick remained calm and always a Gentleman. He was incredibly faithful to his dancer wife throughout his whole life.
In addition to acting and dancing he also managed a horse ranch and he was an expert horseman.
He was 57 years old.
Well folks I am afraid it is obituary time again.
For starters we have the celebrity chef and renowned soak, Keith Floyd. It was this man that we have to thank for making cooking while drinking acceptable TV viewing.
After leaving school he worked as a junior reporter on the Bristol Evening Post, before taking a career in the Army. He left as an officer after a few years with no real direction. In the end he followed a path into hospitality.
In just a few years his talents led him to own his own restaurant, and then a chain of them. From there he entered Television at a time when celebrity chefs were far from cool or unconventional.
His method was a lot less starchy than his contemparies, he often seemed to make it up as he went along while drinking copious amounts of wine along the way. It was this devil-may-care attitude that made him popular, yet it was also his undoing.
Keith fought alcoholism in the way we would fight the attentions of an amorous page 3 girl.
He lived the life he wished for when he moved to the South of France and lived among the farms and the chataeus. However personal happiness eluded him and he was divorced four times.
To his friends he was generous to a fault and once personally guarenteed £30,000 worth of drink for a party. It was this flamboyance that led him to be declared bankrupt in 1996.
But his health and finances never fully recovered. He collapsed in a pub in Staffordshire in 2008. He finally died of a heart attack yesterday. To the public and wine-merchants all over the world he is a character that will be missed.
So I will leave you with a bit of footage of what Keith does best.
Just over forty years ago the king of Libya decided he had earned a break. His back was hurting him and he was starting to despare at the breakdown of the relationship he had with the more urbane members of his cabinet. In the fall of 1969 he flew to a remote spa in Greece to see a private doctor and perhaps get his thoughts in order.
In the early hours of 1 September 1969 the security guards based in the Government buildings, the National television stations, the joint Armed Services headquarters, and many other places, got a nasty shock. The lights of oncoming army trucks were the first surprise. Was this an exercise? Why the hell hadn’t they been told? Soldiers began to spill out of the trucks and swarm around the buildings. Hang on, were those guns real? The next shock for the hapless guards was a rifle-butt in the ribs.
A coup was under way, a coup supported by, the very man left in charge of the country, Crown Prince Sayyid ar-Rida. He would declare a 27-year old Captain as the new head of the country and then abolish the monarchy. For his pains he would spend years under house arrest.
The mysterious young man who seized control of the country was Muammar Abu Minyar a-Gaddafi.
He ahd been born at the height of Rommel’s campaign in Africa. As an infant his much needed sleep was often broken by the passing of a convoy of Afrika Korps truck. Small wonder he turned out a little cranky.
His was the youngest child of Mohammed al-Gaddafi and Aisha Bin Menier, born in the dry desert of Sirte. From an early age he was known for his good looks. He went to a very conservative, traditional school where he became the leader of a small group of friends. At was the same crowd that followed him through prep school, and into the military academy. They were at his side the day he seized power. He formed the revolutionary command council to lead the country and, within a year, made himself Prime Minister.
Perhaps strangely, he promoted himself only to Colonel. Many have asked why not General or Marshal of Libya? Well, it is hard to say. Gadaffi seems to see himself as a champion of the underdog, the refugee, the dispossessed. Yet, in truth, he had not really had a hard life. He wasn’t the whipped dog that Hitler was, nor the delinquant who became Saddam Hussain. He was just a fairly successful junior soldier with a head full of dreams and a few friends with guns.
Once he had consolidated power he set out to become the Fidel Castro of the Mediterranean. How he managed any of this is mostly due to the fact that the majority of American Intelligence agencies were fixated on the deteriorating situation in South East Asia. And they were especially wary of communists, something al-Gadaffi never professed, or turned out, to be.
In the early seventies the eastern Mediterranean was torn by war. The conflicts in Palestine and Israel were hotting up, the communists were consolidating Yemen, and Turkey invaded Cyprus. Arabs everywhere were gaining the strength to assert their independence from American oil barons.
Libya became a focal point for Terrorism International. Islamic Extremists, Communist Insurgents, Irish Nationalists, even German crazies were welcomed. The only thing these motley crew had in common – they were anti-imperialist, as Gaddafi saw it. He gave them camps, money, training, bank accounts, everything they needed to spread fear and havoc in the world.
In turn he became an agent for the Soviet Union. They gave him the first MiG-25 Supersonic jets available outside of Russia. They retained cordial relations right up to 1991.
Gadaffi developed his ‘Green Book’ in imitation of Chairman Mao’s little Red Book. It was a collection of Islamic doctrine, tactics, methods, and rambling nonsense. It came in three parts:
Part 1: The solution of the problem of democracy
Part 2: The solution of the economic problem
Part 3: The social basis of the third universal theory
Libya’s guest list was quite the rogues gallery. Palestine Liberation Organization, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Abu Nidal, Black September, Irish Republicans, Basque Speratives, the Baader-Meinhof group and Idi Amin’s regime in Uganda. He certainly wasn’t fussy who he let in.
Consequently Libya’s fingerprints showed up in many a terrorist atrocity. The US Ambassador had packed his bags and gone home as early as 1972. In 1984, Britain followed after a horrific incident that left a Policewoman dead.
Yvonne Fletcher had been on duty, holding back demonstrators outside the Libyan embassy in London when a sudden burst of gunfire erupted from the building. Several officers and demonstrators were hit, but Police Constable Fletcher died of her injuries within the hour. The embassy was soon surrounded by armed police and army special forces. Eventually the ‘Ambassadors’ (to use the term loosely) were expelled from the country. No one was arrested for murder of an unarmed officer on the streets of the UK.
Gaddafi’s only response was to bemoan that his ‘ambassadors’ were not being allowed to go about their duties.
Years later a bomb was detonated in a Berlin disco, leaving three dead and nearly two hundred wounded, many of them NATO servicemen. An intercepted telex (an early fax machine) from the Libyan embassy in East Germany seemed to point to Libyan involvement.
UTA flight 772 in central Africa, from Chad to Paris was bombed. Libya was chief suspect.
Soon the American state department were asking questions about what they should be doing about Libya? Sanctions? International pressure?
They also had a beef with the Libyans. Gaddafi wanted to claim the Gulf of Sidra as Libyan international waters. Now perhaps this was not as unreasonable as it sounds, as the bay in entirely contained within Libyan coastline and it is far away from regular shipping lanes. But the US objected to this proposal.
To show them who is boss Gaddafi launched two SCUD missiles at the small Mediterranean island of Lampedusa where a small US Coast Guard listening post was located. However the SCUDs proved to be wholly inaccurate and fell into the ocean.
By now the American President, Ronald Reagan, had had enough. He ordered his Air Force to make tactical air strikes on Libyan airfields and barracks. One bomb landed in the compound where Gaddafi was staying. Although he himself escaped injury his adopted daughter, Hannah was killed. Unfortunately no picture of her seems to exist.
Losing a daughter had a profound effect of Gaddafi, who, naturally, swore revenge. In 1988, tragically, he would have it. He summoned one of his best agents, Abdelabaset al-Magrahi, to come up with a new bombing plan. This man was a Libyan Intelligence agent, and also the head of security of Libyan airlines. He knew better than anybody how to get a bomb on board an aircraft.
Flight PA-103 was flying over Scotland when the bomb onboard blew it’s neck wide open. The fuselage and the cockpit were ripped asunder and the flaming wreckage landed on several houses in the town, killing many more people.
The Colonel had avenged himself, at least in his mind.
In the following years Gaddafi concentrated on arming and training as many guerrillas as he could. He stepped up arms shipments to Ireland and Palestine.
But as far back as 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, Gaddafi could tell the world was changing. Slowly, surely, he started to backtrack on twenty years of terrorist activity. He offered to pay compensation to victims of the bombings. He sought to restore diplomatic relations with first Britain and finally America. He is the only terrorist leader to have done so. It may yet ensure his survival.
But in spite of this gesture of penance he remains a dictator who ruthlessly puts down domestic dissenters. His internal security apparatus is cut from the same cloth as Saddam’s secret police.
Muammar Gaddafi is still an all-powerful dictator of millions.
He only just managed it but Lewis Hamilton will start the Italian Grand Prix on pole position. He was pushed hard by an outstanding performance by Force India’s Adrien Sutil of all people.
Behind them are the two Finns, Kimi Rakkonein of Ferrari and Heikke Kovelienen, another McLaren. The third row is the entire Brawn team, Jenson and Rubens. There is no love lost between these two this season and they will both fight to the bitter end.
This race will also see the debut of Vitantonio Luizzi who replaces Giancarlo Fisichella at Force India.
So the results in full are as follows:
Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:23.375 1:22.973 1:24.066 2. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:23.576 1:23.070 1:24.261 3. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:23.349 1:23.426 1:24.523 4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:23.515 1:23.528 1:24.845 5. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:23.483 1:22.976 1:25.015 6. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:23.403 1:22.955 1:25.030 7. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:23.578 1:23.207 1:25.043 8. Alonso Renault (B) 1:23.708 1:23.497 1:25.072 9. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:23.558 1:23.545 1:25.180 10. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:23.755 1:23.273 1:25.314 11. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:24.014 1:23.611 12. Grosjean Renault (B) 1:23.975 1:23.728 13. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:24.001 1:23.866 14. Fisichella Ferrari (B) 1:23.828 1:23.901 15. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:23.584 1:24.275 16. Glock Toyota (B) 1:24.036 17. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:24.074 18. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:24.121 19. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:24.220 20. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:24.951
Just lately one country has been in the headlines more than others, Libya. Once regarded as one of the two foremost terrorist states (the other being Cuba), it has sought to come to terms with the West.
But surprisingly little is known about the modern Libya and who it’s major players really are. Over the next fews weeks I intend to explain, who runs the country, and what happens within this emerging state.
In this first article I would like to explain some of the history of the country up until 1969.
The central seaboard of North Africa has always been prized real estate. It has been a base for the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, Greeks (under Alexander), the Persians who opposed him, Romans, Vandals, Arabs, Turks, Italians, British and finally the Libyans themselves.
The first people to use the fertile Libyan coastal planes were the Berbers, a nomadic people. They traveled as far as Ireland and Scandinavia before they petered out and assimilated with indigenous cultures. The next wave of visitors were the Phoenicians, who were a trading people. They were very sophisticated and highly mobile people who traded far and wide. Their sailing skills were second only to their sales and diplomacy skills. For the time they fought remarkably few wars, preferring to buy and sell their wares.
Their greatest city, Carthage (in modern Tunisia), would become the jewel in the crown of North Africa until they fell out with some rather aggressive rivals from over the water. At the eastern end of Libya another batch of colonizers were arriving from Greece. The Therans (inhabitants of modern day Santorini), were commanded by the Oracle at Delphi to seek a new home in North Africa. They founded five cities, the most important of these being Cyrene. Collectively they were known as the Pentapolis.
It was the uncompromising Romans, who turned the Mediterranean sea into their private lake. In fact, Rome was good to Libya, and the Libyans had a standard of living as high as Rome itself. They left in Libya several beautiful ruins, ampitheatres and forums. They didn’t just leave ruins, they left it in ruins when they were eventually driven out by the Vandals.
And so Libya remained for hundreds of years, until a new religion arrived in the area from the east. It would become one of the most powerful and influencial religions of our time. It was known as Islam.
The first Muslim leader to stake his claim in Libya was Uqba Ibn Nafi. He entered from the east, over land, and entered Tripoli in 644 AD. From there he worked his way along the coast all the way into Morocco and Spain. This early incarnation of an Islamic state gave way to the Ottoman Turks, also Islamic.
The Turks ruled through a policy of breaking down the country into three separate states. Libya would remain in this state for centuries until, for the second time, they faced invasion from the Italian peninsular.
By the early 20th Century the Ottoman empire was a shadow of itself and rightly deserved it’s nickname, ‘the sick man of Europe’. The Italians saw it as a soft target at a time when the whole of the African continent was being torn up by European powers. They commenced their first attacks in 1911, using early airplanes and dirigibles. Even so, it was a long hard campaign against determined Arab resistance. The war ended with a costly win to the Italians. But if the invasion was hard, the occupation was harder, on both sides. Counter-insurgency actions gave way to full-scale acts of repression.
The new Italian masters were led, by 1922, by the first Fascist dictator of Europe, Benito Mussolini. It was he who violently crushed all opposition in North Africa. Moslems and local tribesmen found themselves penned side by side in guarded camps, starving and beaten.
This unhappy state of affairs continued well into the Second World War, when, in 1940, the Italians declared war on Britain. At the time the British were the occupiers of Egypt and had been since the late 19th century. Their one overriding achievement in the area was the building of the Suez canal, which could cut the time of a sea voyage to the far east by half. This narrow trench proved to be an objective of paramount importance to Britain and Italy, both countries with powerful navies.
And so it was when Marshal Graziani marched his men across the East Libyan border to fight the British and take the canal. Unfortunately when faced with a stronger, better trained force, the Italians were no match. The British drove them all the way back into central Libya. They may have driven them all the way back into Tunisia if the situation had not changed dramatically.
Two events happened almost simultaneously. The German dictator, Adolf Hitler, decided to bail out his flagging Italian allies on two fronts. First he invaded Greece, the plucky little country that had out-fought the Italians in Albania. This demanded a huge transfer of resources overseas. The second was the arrival of a new German force, the Afrika Corps and their impetuous General, Erwin Rommel.
This highly trained force hit the British hard and drove them back into Egypt. For nearly two years these opposing sides fought a see-saw battle along the north coast, both constantly out flanking each other by driving south, around the end of the other’s defenses.
Eventually it was another new arrival, British General Bernard Montgomery, who first held the line near Cairo. While it held he re-trained and re-armed his forces. Then when he was good and ready he pushed the Germans and Italians right back into Libya. They might have held on there but they were dangerously low on supplies. To add to their problems a new Allied army had just landed in Algeria and Morroco and was pushing hard eastwards.
The Italians and Germans abandoned Libya in early 1943, and when the British marched into Tripoli, they found it virtually abandoned. The battered country, strewn with wreckage, was now in British and French hands. Although fre they were very poor and the new occupiers were too busy fighting a war in Italy to pay them too much attention.
It wasn’t until after the end of the war in 1945 that the British found time to sort out the Libyan affairs. First, in 1947, they forced Italy to relinquesh all claims on Libyan terratory. Then, on 24th December 1951, Libya became the United Kingdom of Libya, as a constitutional monarchy. The new king would be a tribal chief called Idris I
At first things went well, Libya was admitted at a member of the league of Arab states in 1953 and still mantained a pro-western stance. British and American military bases were mantained. Aid was provided and agriculture began to prosper.
Then, in 1959, to everybody’s delight, oil was discovered. Lots of it, and good quality too. Libya soon metamorphasized into a modern, well heeled country, far from it’s long, impoverished past. It’s new federal government proved less effective than promised and it was dropped in favour of a single party monarchy ruled by the king and his closest ministers. The three main provinces of Libya were replaced by ten new regions, each with their own autocratic Governor.
For many years Libya led a the good life, it had no border disputes, it’s people had a high standard of living and they were floating on oil. To their east, in the recent decade, Gamal Abdul Nassar, had proclaimed himself the liberator of Egypt from the British. He became the advocate of hardline Arab nationalism, and fearlessly counter-attacked Israel.
The six-day war that followed aroused something new and powerful. Even though Egypt lost this brief war, they had captured the imagination of Arabs everywhere with their daring attack. Riots and demonstrations took place outside the British and American embassies.
Idris saw this new nationalism may one day be a problem. He instituted a policy of Libyan nationalism based on the monarchy, with only mixed results. The problem was that it looked too much like a personality cult, and he was at heart a country boy, with simple pleasures. He was ill at ease in the newly cosmopolitan Tripoli. He liked the British and Americans who had fought with him against the Italians. And he lacked the ambitions of the new Arab Governments aligning against the west. Within the armythe Free Officers Movement were biding their time.
In 1969 Idris left Libya for surgery in Greece, leaving his nephew Hasan ar Rida, in charge of the country. In the middle of the night, and virtually out of nowhere, army trucks began to surround the palace and Government buildings. Early the next morning Hasan ar Rida appeared on television to renounce his claim to the throne and pledged his support to the new Government. He soon dissappeared from public view.
Instead the new faces in Government were the Libyan Army Officer Movement. And at their head was a dashing young Colonel, Mummar al-Gaddafi.
This was something simple and delicious that I threw together tonight. You will need the following:
Two chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
Two thin slices of Prosciutto ham.
Two large potatoes sliced thinly
One red pepper and a handful of mushrooms, sliced.
Set your oven on at 180 degrees celcius and take two flat bottomed baking tins. Add a tablespoon of oil to each tin. Slice your potatoes thinly and layer in the bottom of the first tin. Season with low-sodium salt, pepper and oregano. Add a splash of olive oil and leave to bake in the oven for fifteen minutes, or until golden.
Take your chicken thighs and wrap them tightly in the slices of prosciutto ham, then place on the other baking tray and place on the shelf below the potatoes in the oven.
Finally chop your mushrooms and the pepper coarsely and place them in a baking tray with a splash of oil, pepper and oregano.
Bake for at least fifteen minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked (check with probe that it is at least 75 degrees in the middle) or until it is white in the middle. Once the potatoes are golden and slightly crispy, they are cooked. The vegetables don’t need long, barely five or six minutes until they are soft.
Plate up and serve.
Well ladies and gents, in my on-going search to bring you the best of the female of the species, allow me to present the reigning empress of Burlesque, Chrys Columbine. She is celebrated mostly for her ‘Birth of Venus’ routine, that has won praise from such figures as Dita von Tease herself. Not only has she been wowing the crowds of London town but she has also taken Dublin by storm, pulling the crowds in, night after night, at Leeson Street’s Sugar Club.
Not only that but she met with Ireland’s own interviewing legends, the batchelors of Ballydung, Podge and Rodge.
Roll VT Bob:
So we grabbed a dirty martini and sat down for a chat with this charismatic individual.
What were those two flirty feckers like during the interval? Did they try and pull you into their dressing room for a ride?
Not at all. They were actually quite calm and well-mannered, almost a little serious – guess they’ve done it so many times before.
Did you like Dublin? It is great for shopping and drinking
Definitely, I like the way there are so many cool shops and bars located within decent walking distances of each other. And there are several fantastic venues like Lillies and Odessa Club that I would never have known about if it hadn’t been for friends of mine dragging me in!
How did you find the Irish crowd, were they friendly or shy compared to the Brits?
They were incredibly friendly, really sweet and very full of energy – but not too raucous or sleezy at all. I find the Irish have a lot more of a positive outlook on life – they ain’t wingeing bastards like we Brits are I like the Irish a lot!
Where did you stay?
I’ve stayed in various really nice hotels when I’ve performed at Dublin Burlesque Balls, one was The Park Inn Hotel which was fab – very minimalist (whihc I do love), but had quite a lot of weird art around, of scary faces, another was gorgeous in a completely different way, very period, and apparently quite well-known but i can’t for the life of me remember what it’s called (and can’t find it in my emails). During Podge and Rodge I stayed at The Dylan – again fantastic hotel so I do feel pretty spoiled with regard to places Irish gigs have put me up in.
What are you planning on doing next?
I would like to carry on performing all over the world and delighting audiences. I have in the pipeline, some beautiful new concepts and routines with spectacular props which I hope to get out there, this year and the next. I would also like to help bring burlesque even more into the mainstream. What I mean is that it’d be great to see more on TV, for instance having it as the closing entertainment for Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, or as an interlude on This Morning, or something. I have thoroughly enjoyed the TV stuff I’ve done and definitely aim to do more. Well, if it worked for Podge and Rodge, can’t it work elsewehere on the screen?
Ms Columbine has been very successful in her career, grabbing the attention of everybody from French Playboy to the Mail on Sunday to, er, me. The world is the oyster shell for this icon of raunchy entertainment.
Photo credits go to these lovely individuals: