Title: Cocaine Nights
Author: J G. Ballard
Five people die in an unexplained house fire in the Spanish resort of Estrella de Mar, an exclusive enclave for the rich, retired British, centred on the thriving Club Nautico. The club manager, Frank Prentice, pleads guilty to charges of murder – yet not even the police believe him. When his Charles arrives to unravel the truth, he gradually discovers that behind the resort’s civilized façade flourishes a secret world of crime, drugs and illicit sex.
Unsettling, addictive, shocking and slightly depressing Ballard has created another world of crime, sex and immorality. Switching from a high-rise to the Spanish south coast his laser-like observations on the world around him are magnified beautifully. As a reader I can never help but be drawn into the lives of his complex and disturbingly identifiable characters like a moth drawn to a flame. Another memorable venture into the fascinating mind of a great author – I await the forthcoming film of High Rise with anticipation.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
What: Sunday Brunch with the Ladies
Where: The Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe, South Bank – London
Ambiance: Light, airy and fresh decor with big windows with which to admire the Thames banks including lovely views of St Paul’s Cathedral. Arriving a little earlier than my brunching partners, I secured a banquette which looked preferable to the long, shared dining table in the centre of the room -reminiscent of School dining halls. The service was good although slightly overzealous as we were asked about five times if we were ready to order before we’d been able to peruse the menu.
Food: As brunch has become de rigueur in the capital and competition is rife I was slightly disappointed to see a lack of choice and innovation. The standard three variations of poached eggs with hollandaise were there along with a full English.
I had the eggs Florentine with hollandaise on the side – after one sickly affair I am always nervous that my breakfast will be swimming in the rich sauce. Eggs perfectly poached, beautifully runny yolks on both, but the spinach was gritty, the muffin as lightly toasted as one could without it being bread and a cold hollandaise. Edible but not great. Complaints could have been made but the restaurant was hugely busy given the Globe was having an open house event so we couldn’t be bothered to wait any longer.
Still hungry after the eggs, the three of us shared a strawberry and pistachio cake which was a new combination and one that really worked – a mixture of sweet and salty. Alas the cake itself was dry and burnt on the outside which was a shame.
Drink: Lots of tap water – one of the party was hungover – and I had a Belvoir lemonade which was a revelation and one that I will be repeating!
My friend had rather an elaborate English breakfast tea which was accompanied by a mini milk bottle of which even the weakest tea drinker would have struggled – but the thought was there I guess.
Rating: A disappointing 3 out of 10