Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Conversations With Ben #13: Bulgogi with gochujang as the base sauce

Ben: This came up on my Google news feed. I really don't understand this. What were they expecting with that road being so close? 

There's a really really nice house near us that we keep seeing but it's next door to a pub. When restrictions are lifted, that is going to be very noisy because I know it is next to a pub.

Rol: I like the sound of the double-deckers going past out house. Especially at night.

The busses that used to go past my old place I liked. It kept the timing of things. But if you buy a new build that is clearly next to an A road. Surely. Surely. You know what you're in for.

Having lived in a new build (albeit one that someone else had lived in for 18 months from new and we then lived in for 18 months and I suspect the new people won't last that long), I can confirm that nobody should ever buy a new built because the companies that build them don't give a shit about quality, durability, location et al. Bunch of crooks.

Even though we don't really speak or have much affinity, my dad is a joiner  and a bloody good one. I used to labour during summers from uni for him and his crew. Quantity surveyors don't even bother checking his roofs, they just trust him. I remember times as a kid where he wasn't happy with stuff and went back out, like a time I was 8 and he went back out at 9pm because he'd done something slightly wrong at a property and it ate at him so he went back to fix it before it had time to set. And he hates the idea of new builds because of the people who work on them.

My dad was a joiner too. You speak to the older generation of tradesmen and they are shocked by what goes on these days. No integrity.

It's almost like things were better in the past...

Ben sends this in reply...

I don't like it when I'm photographed without my consent.

That's why I recorded you instead.

You used the magic camera box. Probably stole my soul while you were at it.

I tried but nothing came out.

It's long gone.

Ben replies with a link to this video...


That's you and your soul duetting.

My soul is Mel C?


You're Mel C.

Surely I'm crinkly old Bryan. I don't feel like Mel  C. I've never once been sporty.

And neither has my soul.

I can't help the truth. This is the way.

Mel C was always my favourite Spice Girl. She was the most real, least cartoon.

You're thinking of these guys.

No. I would never, ever.

These guys? They're not really cartoons but I can see your mix-up.

The punchline to that should have been, "No, that was All Saints."

All Saints were something special. They made a RHCP song sound good.

I thought I'd share my tea with you. Made a wild mushroom bulgogi.

With pickled cucumber.

Well, not quite a bulgogi as I used gochujang as the base sauce.

That looks like something out of the food section of the Grauniad, which Louise has quit reading in horror.

I'll buy in some chicken dippers and oven chips for tomorrow.

Send you a picture of them.

And before you say, yes, they do vegan ones.

My sister has some vegan chickens. They won't even eat worms.

That's a Tim Vine style joke. I'm very disappointed.

It's a true statement. I can't help if it offends your Ben Elton right on alt-comedy sensibilities.

Alright, Lee Mack.

I like Lee Mack. He's old school without being old school. And very sharp.

I knew you wouldn't like him though.

Little bit of politics, as Ben Elton used to say.

Everything is politics.

Name me something, I'll show you the politics.


Ben sends me a 21 page report entitled "Snails, Mining & Climate Change: The Politics of Biodiversity In New Zealand". (I'll spare you the link.)

"Name me something, I'll show you something you're totally not interested in. 21 pages of it."

It's not an area I'm familiar with but the underlying argument is that politics encompasses everything in its exploitation. Also, whilst I'm boring you, in relation to our conversation the other day, Springer released this a few years ago and it was very good. Crude for academia but a good read and outlines why I am not neoliberal.

Is that Frank Springer?

Simon Springer.

And his amazing dancing bear.

Sadly, they broke up.

Political differences, I bet.

I always smile when I remember Paul Heaton saying The Beautiful South broke up because of musical similarities.

I like Paul Heaton.

Well, of course. He's a Marxist. He made sure every member of the band got equal royalties.

I like that he still lives in a terraced house.

And didn't he buy the whole street and give away the rest of the houses?

I'm not sure on that, I just know about having a house. He lived round the corner from some mates at uni. And he writes a cracking pop song.

No argument there. Though he's gone off the boil a bit lately.

It'll never be as good as Happy Hour.

Though he still does a good one.

Five Get Over Excited is my favourite.

Every time my phone buzzes with a text, I think it's you with another Marxist rant.

I think I've only ever done two or three Marxist rants at you. To be critical of the state isn't exclusively a Marxist endeavour.

Are you still putting my witticisms on your blog? Do you call it "Rol over Benthoven"? That's very bad if you do and I'd expect better wordplay from you.

I call it Conversations With Ben. Like Conversations With God, the dark side.

Most people seem to believe I make you up.

By most people, I mean 3 out of the 4 people in the world with nothing better to do with their lives.

I think we've covered the fact that I am definitely a person you manifested into existence to cope with COVID. You did know a Ben in Barnsley but he died 30 years ago.

And only I know where the body is.

Now you're beginning to remember.

I need a Sharpie to write it on my arm so I don't forget again.

When you're doing a PhD you get people try and impress you at weddings and other places of bigger gatherings.

Like they're trying to prove their intelligence and interests to you.

But it's like, I like comics and watching cartoons.

Mainly from older people as well.

Weird you should say that, because I was just typing that the older I get, the less time I have for intellectual snobbery.

But then I guess I've never been an intellectual.

Most of the time it's ok as I try to instantly move onto hobbies instead to steer it away but then sometimes you get those "university of life, me, mate" people.

The last 60 seconds of this is my answer to anyone who claims high art is better than dumb fun... I can't believe they edited it from the single version. It's the best 60 seconds Jon Bon Jovi ever recorded.

(Sometimes Ben's silence speaks volumes.)

I don't care your education level, I can still talk to you, They try and like prove themselves, like Ricky Gervais and his best mate in the Office.

Ricky Gervais is actually like that in real life though.

Start reeling off facts. Like, why would I give a shit about the capital cities of the world or the scientific name of something? It has very little relation to anything in my life. I'm awful at geography and I'm comfortable and happy to say that.

It's OK if you're a 7 year old. Sam knows all the capital cities. But he'll grow out of it.

Then again, what about pop trivia...?

I know what I know, pop trivia wise.

It doesn't make me better or worse in intelligence but there's a lot of people out there who think that's a marker of intelligence.

I'm not sure. I think they cling to it because they don't know much else. I certainly do.

But you're intelligent.

It's an act.

One more time, with feeling...


  1. I do enjoy these - good to know that the art of conversation isn't lost (as I fear it is in my case...)
    We lived in a new-build flat for several years and agree - never again. It was a lovely flat in many respects but we had so many problems at the start with things not being finished properly and an uphill struggle to get anything done. So much so that one day my long pent-up anger erupted I ended up taking, erm, 'direct action'... a tale for another day perhaps but it worked! Moved from there into our current tiny 200-year old cottage and, for all its little quirks we've never looked back. Time has certainly bedded it down nicely!

  2. C is H? She is the one who doesn’t question your conversations with Ben.

    Here’s a thing - My dad was also a joiner to trade. He was very disillusioned with the quality of the workmanship latterly. Trained to build kit houses that won’t last long.

    I think Bryan Adams is wearing mascara in that video clip.

    1. Haha! Or is Ben just short for Bent Copper...?

    2. I think Bryan wears mascara quite a lot. Bad skin.

      C + H is... CHIS?


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