LIFE ON THE FARM
Do you struggle to find decent food in the supermarket? Have you ever wondered how to be self sufficient? How to as Steinbeck once said "live of the fat on the land". Well it might be time to give farming a try.
Anna Worth, former social worker turned farmer shows us how to do that by giving us a tour of Seasons Farm. After her Mother's death she decided to buy some land and start growing her food. As a lifelong gardener and animal lover, Anna used these skills to get herself started in a notoriously difficult and physically draining business.
She acquired the land in 2018 and has turned it into an emerging business with Sheep, Horses, Ducks, Chickens and Plants as her partners.
The key to farming is diversity. With multiple sources of income available. Anna's focus is crops, seeds, plants, lamb, manure and eggs. Each animal having a purpose beyond just being regular pets.
Anna Worth, the Owner and new Farmer is interviewed here, detailing how and why she got into the business and why everyone should consider it.
It can be rather challenging, I having spent one whole day on the farm struggled maintaining focus, discipline and actually doing any work. It's especially challenging when your boss for the day is your own Mother and especially when she favours her plants and animals over her children. Farming is not for the faint hearted, and I'm starting to realise it might not be for me.
However, it is becoming a necessity for those concerned about the reported food shortages the UK will have after Brexit and Covid-19. Farming is becoming more and more essential everyday. With Anna having organic status, you are what you eat is more relevant now than ever before. Look away Gillian McKeith!!
HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE COCAINE?
Pain, pressure and pleasure are three words chef de partie Josh Watson uses to describe his profession. It’s much more than a profession though isn’t it? It’s a passion, a way of life, a method of expression. Pierre White and Gordon Ramsey are the reference point for what it’s like to be a chef. But the life of a chef isn’t spent shouting on tv screens.
It just isn’t that easy. The 80 hour working weeks don’t get any better they stay the same. You just find a way to deal with it. How do most deal with it? Well, let’s just say when it becomes too much, a facilitator is needed. And if you need a facilitator look no further than cocaine. We’ve all heard these stories. It almost feels like a stereotype at this point. “Most Chefs use drugs to cope with the work load- it just never stops”. Is it the workload or the drug use that never stops? “Both. One fuels the other and it’s a balancing act”. It’s spinning plates while finishing plates. Organised chaos.
Josh’s role as a “chef de partie” means he is in charge of one particular section of the kitchen. This could be the hot or cold section, vegetables, pastry, butchery and the larder. Josh has been a part of most of these sections in a relatively short career. He has moved around them like a pinball bouncing from counter to counter, fryer to fryer, and plate to plate. This may sound like bottled anxiety to you or I but chefs relish in the challenge.
It can be difficult to imagine what an 18-hour shift would be like. Especially in a kitchen. Most of us can’t stand spending 30 minutes in our own kitchen. Let alone one where the only time you get to take a breath is when abuse is screamed at you. Bad family reunions aside, that’s not something I’ve experienced. But to Watson it is a common occurrence. “There’s a lot of shouting and screaming, but it’s better to let it out than to keep it inside”.
When the frustration and anger born from the lifestyle, the orders and the customers get too much a good old scream would do a lot of us some good. Like an emotional release valve that never seems to empty. So, who wouldn’t turn to drugs? A cheeky line couldn’t hurt. Surely?
Cocaine use is rife in the hospitality industry. It is a real danger posed to all of them. Addiction is normally born from suffering, anxiety, stress and depression. To a lot of young chefs’ drug use is the avenue they take in order to cope. It’s relief in the unrest. But how do you solve a problem like cocaine?
It’s a problem that has a solution that the higher ups don’t really want to solve. Because the only way to solve it, is to hire more staff to cover the hours. It is simple but expensive. How can this industry get away with this treatment of their staff? Don’t they have rights? Watson informs me he had to waiver his rights to get the job. “When I joined, I had to sign a contract that said I couldn’t complain about the hours I worked or the injuries I got”.
I look on the screen, I notice his marks. I ask for a closer look. They are distorted through his phone screen, but not so much for me not to see them. Burns, bruises, and scars tattooed across his body. Not by choice of course, it feels a lot more like branding than inking. But as he shows them to me, he looks down at them with a sense of pride. These marks surrounding him have become like badges of honour, each one telling a story more intricate than the last. “I got this one from the fryer” he says while showing me his arms. One could confuse the marks for self-harm but this feels more like self-sabotage.
I felt that despite the stress of the job satisfaction could be found at the end of the month when all the hours add up into pay. But that’s not always the case. “The salary is very low for the hours you work because you’re normally not paid per hour”.
While doing further research I found that the average commie chef salary is £20,625 a year. Hardly an incentive for someone who works up to 80 hours a week. Especially when a lot of that salary is spent on drugs. “I’ve seen guys get paid then take 3 days off work and have no money left for rent”. Cocaine isn’t the cheapest of vices. It’s like mining, hoping for gold and ending up with coal. And then turning around and dumping the gold you do find in the fire. A vicious cycle that seems never-ending. I ask what he thinks about the money being wasted, he stops me mid-sentence. “How can it be wasted? If you’re working 80 hours a week, what’s the point if you don’t have a blow-out”.
When I ask him if he’s ever partaken in drug use at work, he smiles to me over the screen and says “you’ve got to do whatever you can to get through the day, I’ll just leave it at that”.
Hearing that makes me ponder why would anyone want to do this? Watson replies “I love food, not just eating but everything that comes with it”. I’ve never felt more foolish asking a question. If food is art then a chef is painter. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then so is a meal. If art is an extension of one’s self, then food is as well. Art with a much more direct interpretation. No paintbrush, no canvas. Just a plate and a knife and fork.
KING OF STATEN ISLAND REVIEW
Judd Apatow has had an interesting career. From “Knocked Up” to “Trainwreck” and now “The King of Staten Island. It feels like his directing career has been a launchpad for so many major comedy stars. Beginning with Seth Rogen, followed by Amy Schumer and now Pete Davidson is the star he is trying to break for this feature.
Davidson is an unconventional muse. He doesn’t scream leading man in the traditional sense. He isn’t tall, dark, and handsome more tall, gangly, and low energy. Perhaps that’s the reason it mostly works.
Drawing on his personal story of his father Scott Davidson, a firefighter who tragically died in 9/11. Davidson plays Scott whose father died in similar circumstances. Despite this Scott is a seemingly goofy, reserved, yet lovable young man. Much like Rogen in Knocked Up but underneath is much more troubled and burdened by his past. He’s self-destructive and self-hating. The whole film is centred around his attempts to move forward with his life.
With a talented supporting cast including Marisa Tomei, Bel Powley, Steve Buscemi, and a scene-stealing Bill Burr. Apatow creates the comedic environment for this feature to work. Each character has their own unique relationship to the lead and at times they come off far more endearing than Davidson’s character Scott.
A young man who is haunted by his father’s death and is now stuck in a permanent state of arrested development. He has a sexual relationship with one of his closest friends, Kelsey played by Powley. She wants more from the relationship and more out of life. But Scott is content hanging around smoking weed and giving dodgy tattoos to his friends. Scott is comfortable with what he knows and he doesn’t like change. The trauma that he went through as a child has been pushed deep inside. His younger sister’s leaving for college acts as a catalyst for change. It’s now just him and his mother.
While ignoring his friends and deciding to tattoo a nine-year-old boy, he has a confrontation with the loudmouth Ray (Bill Burr), who ends up connecting with Scott’s mum Marge, played by Tomei. Suddenly the man who doesn’t like change is consumed by it and he’s the one who started the process. He just can’t accept it. What’s worse is that much like Scott’s dad, Ray is a firefighter. It doesn’t feel like the change his mother needs, it feels like his father is being replaced.
The difficulty that Apatow has with his films has always been editing. Originally coming from a TV background. With the works “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared”. Apatow’s style has always been formless. He needs more time to tell his story and he lacks the urgency required to make this film into a complete success. The bizarre sub-plot of a pharmacy robbery and a sudden visit to his sister in college seem unnecessary, despite being entertaining. It’s only when Scott deliberately tries to sabotage his mother’s new relationship that he becomes unstuck. A final act at the firehouse where his father worked helps him cope with his pain. You just wish you got there 35 minutes earlier.
But, the degree to how this pain impacts him is as inconsistent as the tattoos he gives to his friends. It starts off with him listening to Kid Cudi’s “Just What I Am” in the car. Repeatedly shutting his eyes every few seconds and opening them confused as to what happened. That can easily happen while watching the film as well. Shut your eyes and you end up with a new character and a new location. But still dealing with the persistently inconsistent issue of Scott’s maturity and mental instability.
The film starts off a lot darker than it is. Normally, the opening scene sets the tone for the film, not in this case. It starts off by giving you the impression that grief will be a central theme. Overall, it comes across more like an aside. Something mentioned every now and then. Something that becomes more of a plot device and an excuse for the main character’s bad behaviour.
The characters around each approach him differently. His mother is initially passive but eventually gives him tough love, influenced by the rough and brazen attitude of her love interest. This needs to occur for the story to move forward. However, it is Powley’s performance of Kelsey that is more effective. As an old friend turned lover, their dynamic is archetypal of Apatow’s films. The clueless eccentric young man and the driven young women. She compares him to Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”. A character that is crazy and makes everyone around him crazy. But they mostly only appear that way because Scott is so placid.
Despite these flaws, there is an entertaining film there. Burr and Tomei have great chemistry. Burr’s stand-up comedy persona comes out in full force, and the romance is organic and unforced. Bel Powley does very well with an underwritten role and Steve Buscemi is fantastic as ever. The only criticism is the film leaves you wanting more from these characters. That might be a problem for other features but for this one, it is a success.
Despite being the youngest leading man that Apatow has used, this story feels far more grown-up. It confronts problems head-on without laughing them off. The female characters aren’t kill-joys to the male characters’ fun. Maybe because it’s a far more personal of a story than the others. While “Knocked Up” and “Trainwreck” were huge successes they were slightly goofier and screwball in comparison to “King of Staten Island”. Although, this film does contain a scene where a belly button is used as a Cat’s anus for a tattoo. You never felt those earlier films had much to say. They weren’t complete gross-out comedies; they did have tender moments. This one just has more and it is appreciated.