Mixologists everywhere will be happy to learn that the Martini in its pure form, is back in fashion!

Yes, this simplest of cocktails can make even the most cack handed of barmen look like Brian Flanagan – just as long as you’ve got the Georgia Satellites playing the Hippy Hippy Shakes in the background.

The rise in popularity of gin over the past ten years (sales have tripled since 2009) has seen a new breed of gin drinker emerge. They like their gin to be the star of the show, not a member of the choir in a Singapore Sling or a Long Island Iced Tea.

I’ve always been partial to a gin. My dad would buy me a gin and tonic if we were out at the theatre.

For a girl who would happily be seen out in pyjama bottoms and a pair of Doc Martens, wielding a G&T in the foyer made me feel that sophistication was in my grasp. My dad however, said I just looked like a more refined wino.

Later, I’d have a French boyfriend.

Fabrice was the manager of a supermarket and a taxidermist on the side. I know, right. My parents couldn’t have been happier at this aspirational choice.

As six o’clock approached at his Le Touquet home, his younger brother would reach for his guitar and begin strumming some sad French ballad by Georges Brassens, about a peasant, a lump of wood and an undertaker.

His father would reach into the fridge for the gin and a bottle of vermouth and we’d all be grateful for an aperitif to offset the grief.

The bitterness of the drink matched the bitterness of Alain’s singing. I’d will it to be over and, in the meantime, kept my eyes firmly on the olive bobbing around in my drink.

Because my boyfriend’s father would mix a perfect gin martini. Quite close to the recipe as prescribed by Noel Coward: a glass full of gin waved in the general direction of Italy, garnished with a green olive.

I’d like to say now that I enjoy a martini because it makes me feel my youth hot upon me, but generally speaking I order it because it’s low calorie.

And, if you eat the olive, it’s actually a meal.

A votre sante! Or, as Fabrice would say to me after dinner, ‘Let’s get stuffed!’



I’m writing this on what I shall call Slate Grey Sunday on the weekend after Black Friday. After all, this week in late November has taken on the tones of a paint chart in the run up to this absurd commercial con trick.  

Black Friday is under a cloud this year because, while the number of things bought has risen, the amount of money spent has fallen. By 12%.

That’ll teach the retailers for trying to hoodwink us!

Here in the UK Black Friday is a fairly recent thing and we don’t go for it like they do in the States (thank God).

There, according to the website, there have been 12 deaths and 117 injuries since 2006.

Over here, there were some ugly scenes in Asda a few years ago – folk brawling over a cheap telly and such – but generally speaking, Black Friday has been met with a certain British cynicism and we’ve kept the brawling for the pub.

There might be one or two genuine reductions, but a Which? Investigation has revealed that the 87% of products could be found at the same price or cheaper at other times of the year.

I’ve been especially cynical since the year that I was producing a Breakfast show on the radio and we’d sent a reporter into town for some early reax from the hoards we were assured would be present.

“How many voxes have you got?” I asked the reporter at 7am, ready to put this, our lead story to air.

“Two,” he replied. “And one of those is only here to return something to the store before he goes to work. Thought he’d take advantage of the early start.”

Black Friday. It’s like bloody Brexit. It’s a trick we’ve all got wise to.


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