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Friday, September 28, 2018

Comic Cuts - 28 September 2018

In many ways I think that I'm reasonably adult in my day-to-day life. I do shopping, I pay bills, I even brush my teeth without being told to. All signs that I'm a grown up.

So why do I find it so utterly impossible to hard boil an egg?

Let's be clear, here. I'm not the world's biggest consumer of eggs and, normally, if I choose to have eggs, I can whip them up to make a very tasty scrambled egg for my toast. You can do something similar in the microwave, allowing the egg to puff up into an almost-omelette. (I say "almost" because I don't put in any butter. But you can mix in other ingredients – I've been using a lot of our small cherry tomatoes.)

Over my forty or so years as an adult you can count the number of times I've tried to make hard boiled eggs on the fingers of two hands max – possibly on the fingers of one hand – and I can say with that hand on heart that the results have never been successful. When I try, every eight to ten years, they always come out imperfect and a lot runnier than I want. Faced with this devastating disappointment, I give up for another decade until I stumble across a recipe by accident... which happened the other day. I don't know what caused this brain-spasm, but I found myself looking at a page explaining how to cook a hard boiled egg in the microwave. I thought I'd give it a try.

I followed the instructions to the letter, but it still turned into a disaster. I heated the water, pricked the eggs to stop them exploding, boiled the eggs for six minutes on half-power, let them sit for another few minutes and took them out... tapped the shell, which fell away... and the egg was uncooked. Un-bloodly-believable!

I still had two eggs, so I thought I'd stick them back in the microwave for a couple of minutes to see if that made any difference. A minute later there was a loud bang. I'd forgotten that the microwave defaults back to full power when it's stopped, and one of the eggs had exploded. At which point I gave up and rather than my much anticipated egg and bacon roll, I had a bacon roll... which was delicious because in the time I'd spent cleaning the microwave meant that the bacon had become beautifully crisped under the grill. The egg might have been a disaster, but the bacon roll was one of the best I'd ever made.

I ate my bacon roll while watching the first episode of Killing Eve, which has been getting a lot of good press. And the praise is well-deserved. I'm now half-way through and gripped. This is the second series in a row that has me looking forward so keenly to the next episode, as I managed to finish watching Bodyguard on Tuesday.

As a fan of Jed Mercurio's Line of Fire, I was expecting something tense, but I was a little worried it wouldn't live up to all the hype that has surrounded it. Well, I thought it lived up to my expectations. The death of a major character was unexpected – perhaps more who the character was rather than the death itself, although it's not the first time that's happened by a long chalk. Hitchcock did the same thing in Psycho, where audiences went in thinking that Janet Leigh would be the plucky heroine whose survival led to the capture of the mystery killer, and Spooks pulled off the same trick in episode two by killing off one of the main characters introduced in the first episode. Once you've shown that anything can happen, your characters are in genuine peril for their lives.

I can't have been the only person watching who thought that, during the uncharacteristically happy ending, the car was going to blow up.

Going back to Killing Eve, I was thinking about why I like this so much. It has all the tropes of a fairly typical spy drama, although in this case it is an international assassin who is being hunted, but the characters are just so much more colourful. Men in grey suits are replaced by women in fluffy pink dresses and dialogue about tradecraft is replaced with actual conversations. Even in the best spy dramas (such as the recent Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy adaptation with Gary Oldman) the characters are ciphers; you cannot say that of the brilliant but way out of her depth Eve (Sandra Oh) or the sociopathic, steely-eyed Villanelle (Jodie Comer).

When I began writing this I thought I'd have another bash at making a hard boiled egg. I did them on the hob, boiled 'em for ten minutes and... well, you can see the results below.  I feel very grown up!

Some random scans...

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