art world. Not that Alba is entirely new, a third-hand piece by Peter Fuller appears immediately after a three year old interview with Steven
i Campbell. Though to be fair, the
inclusion of ‘Auerbach v Clemente‘ is probably justified by the failure (again) ofAuerbach to ‘make it‘ on to the shortlist for the wonderful Turner prize (in spite of his Venice success), and Campbell deserves/will be nominated for/will not be
awarded a prize himselfone of these
days. I have other reservations; there are too many interviews. there’s a heavy bias toward painting and the text could happily be broken up by the judicious use of a few more headlines.
But these are minor criticisms. and this first issue ofAIba is very impressive. For a mere £1 there‘s a lot of reading — forty pages. seven articles, previews (an excellent idea). plus book and film reviews. Maybe the best thing about Alba is that it looks like it‘s going to be around for some time and I for one am waiting for Issue 2 (due in October) with interest and confidence. (Paul Keir)
0 An Omelette and a Glass oi Wine
Elizabeth David (£5.95 Penguin)
Pour moi there is no more
unappetising read than a recipe. That is why I‘m prepared to leap from the frying pan into the fire for Elizabeth David. for she it was who pioneered the modern cookery article. Previously. food columns looked like shopping lists but Anno David they are tasty morsels. as essential to the gourmand as pre-prandial drinks. This compilation comprises pieces covering thirty dedicated years as a pen-pushing epicurean, from the powdered-egg Fifties to the take-away Eighties. Here she is to be found travelling 200 miles to ‘collect‘ a dish of pork and prunes, displaying her legendary good sense (‘a bad meal is always expensive‘), venting her frustration on restaurateurs who take liberties with the Trades Description Act (“‘Notre patissier“ is a Camden Town Bakery‘) and excoriating publishers like those of Normal Douglas‘s Venus in the Kitchen who commissioned decorations from one Bruce Roberts; ‘Decoralions? Defacements would have been a more accurate description.‘ She is informative, witty persistently on the side ofsimplicity, and what‘s more, there is not a canned word in sight. (Jenni Allan)
_ BHOOZLING FROM THE BORDERS
What happens in Hamlet? You don't know? Hunter Steele thinks he does but he won't reveal all until next year when “Lord Hamlet’s Castle' (at which more
anon) tumbles out. Meanwhile we must
make do with ‘Candy', ‘The - Witchdoctor’s Song’ and, his most recent elltusion, “Chasing the Gilded Shadow’ (Andre Deutsch £9.95).
This last is long-leeted lor the Booker
- Prize and has been dubbed a brilliant,
bawdy spool. Set in a now damned part at the Borders during the reign oi James IV, the Scottish monarch who went rldabout in the 16th century. ‘Chasing the Gilded Shadow’ is
. preoccupied with the ancient sport of
‘broozllng’, a word Mr Steele is
' responsible lor resuscitating but irom I where he cannot remember.
In lull view at the glad-eyed nobles is Elizabeth Manners, a comely, wiry,
' dowry-less teenager who plays the l lield but settles lorthe hirsute,
tout-breathed Hunter oi Polmood on condition that he delays claiming his marital rights lor a year. This likely tale was occasioned, admits Hunter Steele, ‘by the lust to do something completely
. dlilerent-lrom the other books I’d
written, it not from all other novels. The basic story is rooted in a border legend. tounded on tact, and I came across it in James Hogg’s ‘Bridal oi Polmood’ account, which he probably acquired aurally irom some illiterate old lady with a lertlle memory. That was when l was 14.’ He is now a bearded 35 and has long since lelt behind the Borders. Long resident in France, where he once minded a chateau tor a Hong Kong banker, he lives auiourd’hai near Avignon, dividing his time between
38 The Li—s-tg:l~S September
writing and managing a music publishing company. He envisages returning home to Edinburgh eventually but, as belits a philosophy graduate, not before he has had time to think about it.
His main objective is to make a living as a writer. ‘Chasing the Gilded Shadow’ is due in paperback irom Paladin next year and transatlantic deals are aloot. Meanwhile, ‘Hamlet’ is on the horizon. ‘Was Hamlet mad, pretending, or both? Was he in love with Ophelia? Or with his mother? Was . he cowardly? Slcklled o’er? 0r merely outonsplred?’ Is this a novel where there are more questions than answers? Who knows? Apparently Hunter Steele does and you’d better believe him. (Alan Taylor)
,_ TRAVEL T
Spain isn‘t all sunshine and sangria. Stephanie Billen went to the historic, beautiful city of Barcelona.
My great aunt used to talk about her ‘life abroad‘ ever after a weekend spent in Paris. Eight days in Barcelona and I‘ve started to do the same.
I knew I had to go from the moment I began receiving strange letters obliquely signed ‘Immaculada Conceptia‘. A brief ‘Ola’ — a word I thought belonged to bull-rings- would preface reams of script picturing ‘Spics‘ and ‘tortilla‘. anarchy and culture, and most of all. the hallucinatory chaos of my English friend‘s wandering mind. Latent maternal instincts came to the fore as I surveyed a grey British spring and asked myself was she eating, would she ever come back, and why were there bullet holes in the building she had gone to sleep on (sic) at five in the morning after a carnival? At the same time I needed to know more about triple martinis, street ﬂamencos and the place described as: ‘La Bohemia, which is full ofold, broken chanteuses singing ‘O sole Mia‘ and ‘No, je don‘t mind if I do‘; they have no teeth and you can laugh at them. . .’
The day came. Seven people had already said ‘Ola‘ to me, and that was before I had got offthe plane. The irreligious Immaculada was nowhere to be seen at the airport. I later learnt that sleep had forcibly reinstated itselfon her lifestyle, as usual at the most inconvenient time. Futuristic walkways took me to a train, a cab and a ﬂat overlooking the strangest thing I‘d seen all year, a huge piece of molten wax which turned out to be Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral.
The apartment was dusty and cool, occupied just then by two tanned bodies in underpants and a flying baby lynx they called a kitten. I was given a bowl of tea. Immanulada had gone to meet me at the airport . . .
Hours later and four of us were on the streets. Needless to say, our exact itinerary has been lost in the mist of time, probably by the afternoon after. We had a triple alcohol, accepted a lift from a stranger and ended up in a pulsating underground cavern on the Placa Real, which I would not be irresponsible enough to name. Conceptia dug her high heels into the toes of a lunging Spic, and we escaped to Celeste, a less alarming nightclub in the Born area of the city. As the lights dimmed, the two bodies, now decently clad, were
behaving strangely. One was performing an endless dance which involved sweeping the floor with his hand. The other was speaking English to a hideous. but available. Spanish girl, while I. not so helpfully, translated everything into French.
Suddenly I was no longer a
i teenager. It was 4am and I badly
' needed sleep. or an ice-cream. We
found a kind ofshopping precinct where predatory six foot transvestites marched purposefully through to a bar. We had another ' drink, then a cup oftea and an ice-cream in a cafe. Our ﬂoor-sweeper stole the small but exquisite tea-pot. Fortified, we went to our last port ofcall, cynics‘ paradise, the KGB.
Here there is nothing so familiar as disco-dancing or even hanky-panky. Beautiful people prowl through a mirrored room. ending up motionless by a long central bar as a loud synthesiser beat precludes conversation. Above them there is a balcony, on which the chic and aloof drink, and. above all, watch. There are no couples, but eye contact across the crowds is as tangible as laser beams, and once made, is a signal for two persons to leave. Gins downed, we subverted the rules of the game, made eyes at each other, and walked out.
I woke to the sound of noisy exclamations of disgust over the lynx‘s customary bowel movement in the shower. Definitely time to put the longest night of my life behind me and explore the teeming metropolis. Unfortunately on this particular Sunday siesta time, as we strolled through the notoriously lively Barrio Gotico, (Gothic quarter) the only thing that was teeming was the rain. But isn‘t it only supposed to do this ‘on the plain’, I kept thinking, humoured only slightly by my first taste ofauthentic egg and potato tortilla and the sight of the ﬂower decorations on the pavements turning green with the wet.
We walked on to the truly Gothic Cathedral, where a watery sun graced a courtyard of geese and threw silver onto the bowed heads of old ladies honouring departed souls by lighting candles in the murky interior. By contrast, when I finally faced up to the aspiring construction in our square, it was to marvel at the
architect‘s fun-fair baubles on top of