Chef Charon (Neuf Stars Chef) talks from Maison Charon en Glasgow

When I start ze restaurant Maison Charon, I specify that ze entrance must have ze big glass doors, pas de valeur architecturale… zut alors!… non!…. mais… so my maître d‘ can see ze punters coming in more ways than one.

You English have ze saying… less is more… I take zis to my heart….so in Maison Charon…. we are, how you say…. minimaliste…. minimal decoration, minimal service and ze minimal portions pour la haute gastronomie.  You English have been watching too much of ze Masterchef avec Chef Michel Roux, so I am more than happy to, how you say, fart about with your food and construct ze tours absurde on ze plate and smear ze sauce avec merit artistique. Zis allows me to give you less and charge more…. you see?… I am anglophile!

It is also important… pour ze clientele who frequente Maison Charon zat I ensure there is bollocks complète on ze menu, so I hire l’expert en marketing to write zebollocks complète to describe ze dishes I prepare.  Zis is one exception to ze ‘less is more’ rule.. here… more description means we can serve less…..

I give un exemple of how less is a lot more.  Zere is a chef in Denmark… Chef Rene Redzepi of Noma…. amusingly ze best restaurant in ze world… mon dieu!…… and he collects ze seaweed, berries, grasses and other delectations du nature, serves zem up on a plate and… Voila!….. ze hyperventilation of ze clientele est superbe!.

I do zis at Maison Charon..only se ozzer day. I send a sous chef to Wandsworth Roundabout and Hyde Park  avec a book on  foraging and say I want grass, berries, anything edible…..   I get anuzzer sous chef to go to B&Q to buy some Welsh slate roof tiles et Voila!…. ze Cuisine naturelle a La Suède. I wanted to put ze description a La Pseuede… mais…. maître d‘ he says to me…. “Chef Charon… you have eighteen Michelin stars to your name…. even though you give them to yourself… this is a step too far….. to mock ze punter is Le Sport… to ridicule ze punter is not good business.”  So… with free ingredients from Wandsworth Roundabout, a few absurd smears of sauces, berries arranged at each corner of ze welsh slate from B& Q and much pantomime from maître d‘… we serve three tiles of grass, and edible leaves and berries and charge £38.50 per portion…. who needs an amuse-bouche when one can do zat?!

Ze best part?…. when I come from le cuisine...to le salon de la gastronomie….avec mon chapeau de chef on my head to take ze adulation of ze punters…. and tell zem how much they have enjoyed l’experience du Maison Charon.….. and tell zem we take ze  AMEX.   Aussi… I try very hard not to drop my fake  accent français

I wish you all a Joyeux New Year

Chef Charon

New Year’s Eve with a laugh with Jerry Hayes before you get struck into the Claret et al.

CRONYISM, DISHONEST JOURNALISM THE HONOURS SYSTEM AND WHY CROSBY DESERVES A DUKEDOM

“What has happened to the Independent apart from selling less copies than Goldfish Weekly? This was the paper which was to break the mould and put professional, impartial journalism at its core. That’s why it was called the Independent. But read today’s splash with care.
“Almost 30 Tory party members or supporters receive awards amid accusations of cronyism”, it screamed. And then there were the quotes from the usual suspects. Andy Burnham (yes, I thought he was dead too) was ‘outraged’ at a knighthood for Lynton Crosby and then goes onto a diatribe about the wicked Tories thinking that they can do what they like.

Well, this looks like a tale of Cameroonian baubles for the Bullers corruption unearthed by the painstaking skill of an Independent scribbler in the finest traditions of Her Majesty’s Press. But then let us read on. It is revealed by the head of the honours committee that,“26 out of 1,196 awards were for political services including Parliamentary clerks, Rosie Winterton, Ed Davey and Harriet Harman’s former adviser……”

To put it in legal terms the subheadline is complete bollocks and utterly misleading. I am not sure that we can go to journalist default mode and blame the sub editors as I thought most if not all of them had been sacked. It’s not just sloppy journalism it borders on the dishonest. It wouldn’t have happened under Andrew Marr’s editorship.

We Brits love our baubles adorned with meaningless medieval gobbledegook. And there is a modicum of cronyism from all parties. Who cares if some bag carrier from the Ministry of footpaths and dog shit gets an MBE? Who cares if Labour’s Chief Whip gets theDBE, after all she has had to put up with Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and now Corbyn? What we do care about is when the greasers, chancers, donors and arse lickers get pushed into the Lords where they have the chance to legislate. But honours at a political level have always been a means of control. Keep your nose clean as an MP for about thirty years and you’ll get a K. If you stab a PM in the back as a senior minister forget about a peerage.

There is also a lot of press outrage at the award of gongs to civil servants. This year’s Joan of Arc is Lin Homer. I know Lin of old. I was counsel (for Labour actually) in the Birmingham postal ballot fraud when the election commissioner likened her handling of an election as ‘worthy of a banana republic’. But she was looked after and wreaked havoc and disaster at UKBA, the Department of Transport and now as chief executive of HMRC. She should have pensioned off years ago. I don’t give a toss about her DBE which comes with the rations, but I do care deeply about a charmed life and a massive pension pot worth millions…..”

Read the rest

Advice for first time freelancers on creating robust contracts

Advice for first time freelancers on creating robust contracts 

One of the biggest concerns for many people who start working for themselves is how to go about making sure their work is on a firm contractual footing.

A freelancer must expect to do work ‘up front’ and then be paid for it at a later date, and although this is also true for most people in PAYE-based ‘paid employment’, for a contractor it can be more of a worry.

So whether you are a freelancer, sole trader or anyone else working on a contracted basis, how can you make sure your business documentation is watertight legally in order to protect yourself when dealing with clients?

No single rule

The truth is that there is no definitive ‘one size fits all’ answer. Many different factors can come into play, depending on the type of work involved and the time scale it is due to be completed on.

For instance, some jobs may have a definite deadline by which everything has to be delivered and signed off on by the client before an invoice will be issued.

In other cases, the nature of the work may be on going, and regular payments by instalment may be made along the way.

In any case, the important thing is that everything should be clearly laid out and agreed by all parties before any work commences.

Factors

A good contract for a freelancer should make it clear exactly what is expected, when it should be completed and how payment will be made.

Some companies can take as long as 90 days to turn around an invoice payment, whilst others will settle outstanding amounts almost immediately. Payment methods vary too – the contract should specify whether remuneration will be made by bank transfer, cheque or even cash.

Any deductions should be clearly stated too – some contracts may include penalties for late delivery, and international work may sometimes include country specific tax deductions.

When it comes to money, that is where most business disagreements lie, so having everything clearly set out and agreed to from the start means everyone knows exactly where they stand.

Invoicing

Making out invoices in the correct way can also be an essential part of making sure you get paid on time.

This aspect of freelancing can be difficult for someone who is not experienced in handling payments, so having a third party look after your financial settlements can be a cost effective and time effective service to use.

When dealt with correctly, invoicing should be a straightforward process, and as long as you have full knowledge of the terms in your contract, you will be able to budget responsibly in advance.

Professional help

Of course, part of working for yourself is having a willingness to take on tasks that might fall outside of your core services or skills, but by the same token, there are some areas in which using third party professional outsourced help can be fully justified.

If you are every asked to sign a contract that is unclear or has aspects you don’t understand, you should always take advice before you commit to something that might turn out not to be in your best interests.

West London Man – The series – with sound files. I’m writing some new episodes.

 

Tuesday December 29th 2015  

West London Man (24) : Diamonds are not forever
15th January 2009
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (23) : Half baked Alaska?
16th November 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (22) : It is crunch time
1st October 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (21) : Upwardly beautiful and officialdom
4th August 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (20) : A trip to Sainsbury’s
2nd August 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (19) : A short holiday in Padstow, Cornwall
29th July 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (18) : Der Peitsche
13th July 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (17) : Jolly Snorting Weather….
7th July 2007

Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (16): “I busted a mirror and got seven years bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five.”
3rd July 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (15): 15 – love to George…
29th June 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (14): Royal Ascot – First Day
17th June 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (13): Friday 13th…
13th June 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (12): Panic buying
10th June2008
Text Version
West London Man (11): Biscuits
10th June 2008
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (10): Caroline talks to a friend….
5th June 2008
Text Version
West London Man (9): Short suits and other matters…
June 3rd 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (8): Legal advice…
25th May 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (7): Pre-dinner….
25th May 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (6): At home…
20th May 2008
Text Version
West London Man (5): To Lords for a spot of cricket…
17th May 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (4): A bit of gazundering…
17th May 2008
Text Version
West London Man (3): Talks Stagflation….
16th May 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (2): A trip to Lords is coming up…
13th May 2008
Text Version | Audio Version
West London Man (1): With the first hot weekend of summer…
13th May 2008
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man 26: The La Guardia Archipelago

West London Man 26: The La Guardia Archipelago

Following his arrest at La Guardia Airport  in New York City (Episode 24), George has been relieved  of the diamonds and jewellery he received from financier Bernard Madoff and is now a guest of the American authorities in a nearby detention center. As an Englishman with refined cultural and culinary sensibilities, George considers these austere surroundings akin to an outer circle of Dante’s Inferno or perhaps to Scotland. His defense counsel, the well-known New York lawyer Scott Greenfield, shepherds him through the American legal system while his wife, Caroline, secures matters on the home front.  Although storm clouds continue to gather, George has resolved that he will not be broken by his present circumstances. Allowed writing materials by his captors, he has begun to compose an epic memoir….

To find out what happened you’ll have to listen to the podcast or download the script. The podcast has great music and sound effects as well as some pretty ‘classy’ acting!

Listen to the podcast (14 mins 21 secs)

Download the script in pdf format

Notes:
West London Man 25 was written by Colin Samuels, Scott Greenfield and Charon.  Colin Samuels and Diane Jankiewicz played the parts of the La Guardia Detention Centre guards.  Lawyer Greenfield was played by Scott Greenfield, a well known criminal defense lawyer in New York and author of the Simple Justice blog

Other episodes of West London Man

Time for a bit of Jerry Hayes blogging – always enjoyable and amusing.

PRESIDENT ERDOGAN OF TURKEY PRESENTS A TERRIBLE DILEMMA FOR THE WEST

29 Dec 2015 at 10:30

If August is the silly season for journalists desperate to fill pages with surfing squirrels and singing dogs, the Christmas to New Year dead space, where hung over journalists attempt to titivate a comatose nation with quizzes and stories that would normally never see the light of day, must be the the dopey season. A few days ago the normally well informed and sharp as a tack Fraser Nelson came up with a story so bonkers that I had to check that it wasn’t April the first, namely that Cameron was considering making Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary. The Downing Street flunky who ever came up with this one must have won a bet about who could get the most un-airworthy of kites off the ground. And then in the Times this morning there are some quotes from a Tory donor called Alexander Temerko (I know, never heard of him either) who will give squillions to ensure that Boris becomes the next Tory leader as Osborne’s living wage policy will be a green light for immigrants. Mr. Temerko was born in Ukraine. The age of irony is not dead…..

Read the rest of the post…

EastPark Communications publish an extensive range of magazines – many for local Law Societies.

EastPark Communications publish an extensive range of magazines – many for local Law Societies.  They are well produced and worth reading.  Simon Castell runs East Park Communications – so if you any publishing projects it would be a good idea to have a chat with him.  He has a lot of experience.

Other magazines published by East Park Communications

Tel 0161 5612776 / Email

 

And back to podcasting this Thursday…with US Lawyer Dan Hull

I am looking forward to getting back into podcasting again.  On Thursday I am doing a podcast with an old friend, Dan Hull, a US attorney and senior partner of Hull McGuire.  Dan does two blogs – one serious What About Clients? – the other What About Paris?  which look at the lighter side of life.  They are both very good blogs.

The post below will give you a flavour of the humour which Dan employs in his writing 

“Merry Christmas anyway, you bastards….”

“Since 1866, Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park (northeast corner near Marble Arch) has been important in Britain’s demonstrations, protests and debate. In 1872, the area was specifically set aside for those purposes. Here are among the best and most eccentric daily shows in London. Marx, Lenin and Orwell all spoke at Speakers’Corner there on Sundays, the traditional speaking day. For the dark history of this area of Hyde Park as the execution place know as Tyburn Gallows for nearly six centuries–everyone condemned to die could make a final speech–see the website of the Royal Parks.”

I still walk with a stick because of that bad driver….

Well there I was seven years ago, stationary at a junction, waiting to turn right… when a woman in a Volkswagen hit me from behind at 40 mph…

I had never had a bike crash until that evening,  and I’ve been riding for many years on roads, race tracks and the like. I rode long distances – Southern Spain – South of France and Northern Italy. I calculated my mileage from records at 160,000 miles over three  years. The most dangerous place to ride – largely because of the bad driving of some car drivers –  was London – some of them phoning while driving and two, I saw, eating sandwiches and talking on a mobile phone while driving badly.

I heard the screech of brakes and the sliding of tyres on wet tarmac. It is true that everything goes into slow motion when one is in danger. It was one of those “Oh…S**T’ moments… and then the car hit me. Unfortunately there was a car coming in the opposite direction. As the bike lurched forward, I could see a look of horror on the face of the driver in the car coming towards me. It was fortunate / lucky that I was able to twist the bars to the left.  The wheel gripped with enough traction for the bike to veer to the left, avoiding the oncoming car, according to the witness, by less than a yard – and then I went down, under the bike, and slid about twenty or so feet with my right leg taking the weight of the bike and the scrapes from the tarmac.

It is fair to say that I used colourful language as I lay on the ground. It was a performance which Gordon Ramsay would have been proud of. I could not move. A big guy ran over, lifted the bike and told me not to move. I moved my neck – my helmet was smashed in on the right side. My head was still attached to my shoulders and seemed to be working. As I tried to get up, onlookers brandishing mobile phones were intent on informing the Police, Ambulance, Coast Guard and, who knows, even HM Revenue & Customs, so keen were they to help.

A young woman – a student at the local Arts Ed in Chiswick, saw everything and volunteered herself as a witness. The driver, a lovely woman in her late forties, her daughter and the daughter’s child were distraught. As I didn’t die or suffer life threatening injuries I did not want to waste time with the Police. Have you ever waited for a copper to turn up at a non-fatal RTA? Could be days! I certainly did not wish to go to one of our hospitals. Hospitals are full of ill people, some  infested with MRSA and other nasties – and, frankly, I did not need any more problems that night. (Quite apart from the fact that I am told that hospitals do not serve Rioja in their waiting rooms and I had no desire to sit for six hours next to people with knives in their arms, other injuries, or those who may be harbouring some appalling tropical disease after their holiday to tropical regions)

Codebreaker’s wife (Codebreaker wrote for my blog occasionally) is a nurse. She lived nearby. Plasters covered the wounds – I then hobbled to The Swan in Chiswick for a couple of glasses of Rioja and a few absolutely fantastic Silk Cuts. I had to operate on several of my cuts later in the night when the larger wounds split with the swelling – but a needle and thread did the business. The Doc was not that impressed this morning with my auto-surgery and told me that I should have had a scan for my head. He was appalled when I told him that I had been drinking Rioja with a friend of mine, an ex Slaughter & May partner, until midnight. That also did the business. I asked Doc if I was OK, after he shone lights into my eyes and ears, took heart rate etc etc – to which he replied that I was. I agreed with him.

Wine is a great healer!. Still puzzled as to how the woman driver did not see me. My helmet was very yellow, as was my jacket – and the bike is one of the biggest on the road. THINK Bike?

 

I used to ride motorbikes…and enjoyed doing long distances to Italy and Spain

Here is a post I wrote many years ago (2007)  before a lady driver drove  into me in her car when I was waiting to turn right and I ended up with a cracked spine and walking with the aid of a stick – I still have to use a stick to walk:

This is a parking sign. It shows that the space is reserved for motorcycles. The markings on the road also say ‘Motorcycles only’…. so why, three times this week, have I arrived at 7.00 am to have breakfast at a cafe to find a bloody car parked in the parking bay I use ?

I had to go and park my motorbike in a Pay & Display zone and pay £1.50 for the privilege. Twice this week! (I am turning into a grumpy old git by the day)

So, yesterday…. I parked my bike on a yellow line, just behind the car, and waited. Having seen the offending car drive off the previous day at about 7.15, I had a hunch that I might meet the driver. I did – a young woman. She approached and had the grace to look a bit sheepish. Politely, I asked her if she would mind not parking in the bike bay, explaining that there are few free bike bays in West London. She apologised with a smile. Great!… everyone calm, no-one teed off. By way of contrast – I saw a courier asking a bloke to move his car from a bay some time ago. The bloke in the car told him to ‘F’ off and went into the Bank. The courier dismounted, walked off up the road, returned with a traffic warden and the driver was ticketed. It was quite amusing and, given that there were, by this time, quite a few couriers and other bikers pulled up near the bay, the driver was in no mood for bravado or practising his command of  Anglo Saxon expletives.

And now, inspired by Belle de Juremen shopping… or, to be more precise, my attitude to shopping. Curiously, with the exception of gadgets, cars (about ten years ago), bikes and other gizmos, I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in shopping. It would not occur to me to go off on a shopping spree to buy clothes. When I wore suits and ties everyday – I’d go to the appropriate shops, at best twice a year, and buy ten shirts – almost certainly blue, quite a few identical, and select a few ties. When I bought suits, I’d buy two and get a spare set of trousers for each. Same principle with shoes. Casual clothes are even easier – five pairs of exactly the same jeans, trousers, shirts, polo shirts… two pairs of deck shoes. Done and cleared in about thirty minutes.

It is quite a different matter when it comes to buying a motorbike…. I pore over the magazines, read reports… look for pictures on the internet and go for complex test rides. Mind you… I have had nine Honda  Fireblades, eight Honda Blackbirds, one Ducati 916…and a few other Honda makes. … so maybe I am a bit rigid in my choice of bikes!

I got stopped by a Spanish bike cop years ago at 6.00 am on a motorway near Mojacca.  The road was empty )not a soul – empty) and I was doing just under 190 mph. The cop showed me my speed on his ‘machine’.  The cop fired a flare into the air, waved me over and told me that I was going a bit fast.  He laughed and asked if he could sit on my bike.  I sat on his bike and we smoked while smoking – communicating in a  curious mix of Spanish, English and French.  Nice chap.  He did warn me to drop the speed nearer the big cities on my way back.  The Guardia Civil cops in those areas were not so amusing when it came to speeding!  I took his advice.

 

I have a feeling – when I am settled in Scotland – that I will buy a second hand Honda Blackbird and ride again. Older second hands ones are good value and not expensive.  Few riders will have had the opportunity to ride their bikes fast in this country.  I hope I can buy another motorbike.  I am only 63 this year.  A man can dream?