Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Postcards from the Provinces #1: Leicester

Welcome to the first in an occasional series of postcards from the more ill-starred and unremarkable of Britain's medium sized, mid-ranking towns, cities and conurbations.

The first post comes from Leicester, the home of Walkers Crisps, reptilian MP Keith Vaz and the 'Grebo' artistic/sartorial movement.

Art: ‘Warbo’ was reputedly one of the pseudonyms of Andy Warhol protégé Jean Michel Basqiuat. This early work found near The Manor public house, former base of the Leicester City hooligan firm known as the 'Baby Squad', seems to indicate an artist still coming to terms with his identity.

Culture: In the 1980s Leicester was the epicentre of the almost instantly moribund Melody Maker/NME christened ‘Grebo’ subculture, being the fertile ground from which notable scene pioneers such as Gaye Bykers on Acid and Crazyhead sprouted. More recently Kasabian have picked up the musical baton.

Dance-floor Etiquette: A noticeable foible of popular dance in Leicester is a tendency to switch rapidly back and forth between moods of mouse like meekness and wild-eyed and unabashed sexual aggression, often within a single middle 8. Conversely, the men-folk keep a brooding vigil around the margins of the dance floor but are not so po-faced as to avoid making sport altogether, stepping in on occasion to steal an unusual hat.

Folklore: Pictured below is an area of wind-swept grassland in Thurnby Lodge(a council estate created after the city’s slums were demolished in the 1950s) which is reputedly stalked, according to local myth by a man with a ‘Freddie Kruger hand’.

Food and drink: A particularly foul regional take on Whiskey and Ginger Ale doubles as a kind of ersatz TCP, replicating both its noxious smell and its taste. If this sounds like something that might interest you I seem to remember the active element to be Laphroig Whiskey. If you plan to use this drink topically perhaps adding Baileys or Malibu to the mix may help.

Walker's Crisps may have been swallowed up by an international crisp conglomerate but Sandworth Brothers, one of the UK's biggest names in the sausage roll/tikka slice game is still resolutely flying the flag for Leicester cuisine in the nation's gut consciousness.

Indie Disco Review:
Mosh, St Nicholas Place.

Entry: Doorman are as inconsistent as is the norm. It is quite possible you will be marched outside to sober up in the rain simply for leaning on the bar. "Everybody does this in London" will not go down well by way of explanation, no matter how jokily it may be intended. The £2 entry charge becomes less reasonable the longer you spend inside.

Smell: Season-old shinpads.

Decor: Sumo's main, vain attempt to break up the dominant indie disco motifs of black painted walls and sticky carpets is to cover large areas of wall space with black and white pictures of callow young concert crowds, sharing an aesthetic resonance with Ezra Pound's imagist work
'In a Station on The Metro' . The faces are frozen in catatonic states of bliss, bewilderment or indifference, benign and oblivious to the events mostly not unfolding before them.

Refreshments: Cheap and nasty. The lager on tap is definitely something to avoid as it smells like piss and is only very slightly cooler in temperature.

Music Policy: Seperate rooms help to aggregate the worst horrors of the DJs' playlists. In the indie room there were odd occasions scattered across the night when it was possible dance to something which didn't make you feel dead inside. These were unerringly brief and followed by 'standards' from acts such as Oasis, The Killers and

Dancing: Drastically lacking in humour. A web of joyless circles, backs turned on each other.


Men: Young men adopt a contemporary variation of the Hijab skilfully crafted from their own straightened hair. There were so many helmets abroad that the dancefloor resembled a Sealed Knot recreation of the battle of Hastings at times. Worth further investigation if you're into Northern 'lad-rock'types, just.

Women: Thin on the ground. A gentleman's Field Mice t-shirt will definitely not recieve the recogntion it deserves. Lacking the self-assurance to share the smallest witticism or bon mot without recoiling as if from a phantom sexual attack. Stocky.

Physiognomy: The young men of the city create the disconcerting effect of having unusually small heads and comically over-developed torsos at the same time.

The authorities have the shit so locked down that police recently arrested a man for taking pictures of the council’s city centre Christmas lights. Violent tension around many of the city's nightspots was conspicuous by its absence.

Youth Culture: "Behind the times and playing it safe" J Phillips, Thurnby Lodge, Leicester

So there you have it. A few of the mundane eccentricites that came to light in Leicester, one of Britain's identikit, middle sized cities. Please share you're own experiences of the city with us. Promise to write again soon,

Lots of Love

Polish Ecstasy

x x x

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Saturday Big Race Preview: The Ladbroke Hurdle 14:40 Ascot.

For our first ‘Saturday Big Race Review’ our focus falls on Ascot's 14:35, The Ladbroke Hurdle. A relatively young race, it has been dominated since its inception by Nicky Henderson and Pipe Family horses. It was won last yeat by Sentry Duty who went on to have more successes in large field handicaps and appeared in last season's Champion Hurdle.

As will become traditional we will look at the race from two perspectives: those of 'The Form' and Ten Year (or eight year in this case) Trends.


From a form perspective there seem to be two races which hold the key to a better understanding of this race.

Firstly, the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham which was won on soft ground by Khyber Kim from Harry Tricker on his seasonal debut. The form of that race was given an almighty boost at the weekend when the Twiston-Davies trained hurdler (Khyber Kim) came late to outstay Paul Nicholls Champion Hurdle Prospect (and odds on favourite) Celestial Halo in the Boylesports International Hurdle. With Alan King’s Medermit occupying third place the form has a strong look to it. Harry Tricker a five length second that day is the ante-post favourite for the Ladbroke currently trading at around 6/1.European Dream who finished 6th that day also re-opposes on Saturday.

Harry Tricker has raced many times already this season (so therefore undeniably race-fit) and was arguably well in with the weights that day giving the winner over a stone and 5lbs to European Dancer. Nonetheless he is still on favourable terms with many of the likely protagonists with the 3lb (weight off) claim of Jockey Andrew Glassonbury. Additionally he will certainly not mind the soft going that may arise at Ascot.

Greatwood Hurdle 2nd Harry Tricker

The second race is 3:15 at Newbury last Saturday, an arguably weaker affair won by Nicky Henderson’s Fairyland. Frontier Dancer (2), Dani’s Girl (5), Gee Dee Nen (7) and Henderson’s Know The Law (unseated rider) all re-oppose on Saturday. Second to Sixth finished in a heap five lengths behind the victor and give the form a somewhat muddy complexion though it is notable that it was Frontier Dancer’s first run of the season. The winner had raced several times already this autumn and Frontier Dancer, who by all accounts needed the run will be the horse to take from this race. The only note of warning I would sound is that he has no winning form in the book on going worse than good to soft and the sole win on good to soft came in low class affair at Warwick.

Other horses with strong form which doesn’t lend itself easily to comparison are Paul Nicholls’ top-weight Pepe Simo and John Jo O’Neill’s Get Me Out Of Here. The latter’s run in a Newbury hurdle identical to lasts Saturday’s (two days earlier) was taken in a ponderous time, fully ten seconds slower than the one won by Fairyland. As race times are arguably less of a guide in National Hunt racing he is unexposed and as such could be open to further improvement.


Based on the trends from the past 10 years you are looking for a horse:

• Aged 5 to 7
• Finished in the first 3 last time and posted their highest RPR
• Carrying 10-9+
• Officially rated 122 to 136
• Run no more than once this season
• Run in 5 or less handicap hurdles
• Second season hurdler
• Favourites have a poor record in the race with only 1 winner and 1 place from 8 runnings. 7/8 winners have been priced between 7/1 and 14/1.

Trends indicate: Frontier Dancer, Tullamore Dew, Argento Luna, Mighty Moon,

Trends analysis: There are a few live contenders that miss out by virtue of being third season hurdlers such as David Pipe’s Mamlook (6th in this race last year). Of those highlighted Argento Luna could be worth a look but Frontier Dancer is the one stand out at a decent price (available at 12/1 across the board at the time of publishing).

Nigel Twiston-Davies' Frontier Dancer


An exceedingly tough race to call as there are numerous dark/unexposed horses lurking at close to an each way price. The two who I’ll highlight are Harry Tricker on the back of his Khyber Kim form and Frontier Dancer on the back of trend satisfaction and likely improvement.


Harry Tricker 1* 6/1 (best price advised 12:30 thursday 17th)
Frontier Dancer (each-way) 1* 12/1 (best price advised 12:30 thursday 17th)

You may rest assured that I will back each of my selections with 1 point equal to a dickens (£10).

Monday, 14 December 2009

Player Haterz: #1 Best Xbox games of 2009...

New to Polish Ecstasy is a regular gaming column where I will be hoping to bring the latest games, news and tips. To start this off I thought i’d bring you my top 5 xbox 360 games of the year. I realise there are several games I have missed off due to not playing yet, but once my royalty cheques stop bouncing I will be purchasing and reviewing Borderlands, Left for dead 2 and Assassins Creed 2.

1. Call of duty - Modern Warfare 2. Any game that can make my local MP, the scandal free Keith Vaz, angry due to the “level of violence and realism of the game” has to be at number one. Throw in the intense set-piece levels, double crossing sometimes crazy/confusing storyline, co-op spec ops mode and one of the most popular multiplayer games in history. The only downside to this game is getting rinsed in multiplayer by 12 year old rednecks for coming bottom of your team.

2. Skate 2. For many years Tony Hawks dominated the skate game market but trends changed from the ridiculous to the realistic tricks. Players wanted to do tricks that Eric Kostan, Mike Carroll and PJ Ladd do in their videos. Skate 2 brings this realism to a huge open world city with plenty of banks, ledges and rails to sesh when you are done with the story. Online modes are plentiful from challenges to free skate sessions, you can also film and edit your own tricks and lines to upload online (check the link for my efforts).

3. Fallout 3 - Point lookout (DLC). Fallout 3 came out in 2008 but Bethesda kept the game fresh by including new downloadable content. Point lookout is my favourite by a country mile. It is similar to the rest of the game in the sense of completing quests for XP and scavenging but this is more fun as you are battling inbred hillbillies, cult members and ghouls. One quest even requires you to do it on mind bending drugs.

4. Halo 3 ODST. It’s Halo but this time not as Master Chief. In this game you are playing as a rookie ODST who’s job is to find your team and piece together what happened in New Mombasa. In single player it requires a lot more stealth than the average Halo 3 player(i.e. dumb, racist, homophobic yank) is used to but when played in four playa co-op it is a lot more fun. Online it has a Firefight mode which is similar to Gears of war 2’s Horde Mode. I can only recommend this with three other friends as you’ll need them when cornered by a wave of flying brutes and chieftains.

5. Forza 3. Forza 2 was claimed to be the best driving game of all time, Forza 3 seems to have beaten this. The graphics are sharp, the number of cars and customisable options are huge. The tracks are based on real courses and do get a bit repetitive but this is offset by the inclusion of a rewind mode which helps you replay a bad section by rewinding to before it thus helping you to not have to redo the race. One main fun feature of this game is being able to tune, upgrade and customise your car to sell in the online auction house.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Holy Smoke: #1 Cohiba (Cigarettes)

In life's most profound moments of repose, leaning back on a comfortable chair after a heavy meal or sprawled-out, spent on your bedsheets a smoke seals the deal.

Holy Smoke is Polish Ecstasy's smoker's review. It will concentrate on cigarettes and rolling tobacco until such time as our palettes become sufficiently jaded to move into the world of cigars(for pleasure)or perish the thought, pipe smoking. This column is not for the haggard thirty a day man or woman but for those that smoke for pleasure, when the moment demands it.

#1 Cohiba Cigarettes

I made the discovery of this fine smoke one rainy evening in Knightsbridge a couple of months ago. Having arrived early for dinner and not wishing to dissolve under the downpour I strode across the road from my meeting point and past the doorman straight into the deep carpeted, womb-like warmth of Harrods. Wandering past the the perfumes and the footwear section I came to the tobacconist and stopped in, hoping to pick up something french. I ended up walking out with something a little more exotic. Cigarettes made by Cohiba (the famous Cuban cigar producer)supplied in a stylish black and old gold packet. Back outside I found a sheltered spot under the fabled department store's bottle green awnings to put them to the test.

It was pleasing to see that the tobacco described as Black. The term "Negrilles" ranks Cohibas as at least the equal in flavour strength to the dark brown "bruns" tobacco found in Gitanes or Gauloises Disque Bleu.

In the smoking they share many characteristics with their french cousins. Part-hollow filters are the order of the day with the richness and throat-warming effect common to strong cigarettes there in abundance, along with the faintly sulphuric odour. There is enough taste to cut through the richest of meals or mellow the taste of a post dinner Brandy.

Retailing at roughly what you would pay for a packet of Marlborough Shites in a railway station kiosk, their prolonged smoking is likely to bring about the deterioration of you health faster than your bank balance.

A small warning would be reserved for those that enjoy chain-smoking. The feeling in your torso after smoking a Cohiba Negrilles cigarette can be compared to eating one too many bowls of Trifle in that the thought of smoking another in the following few hours is unbearable.

Score: 8/10

Whilst smoking you might imagine yourself to be: Roberto Bolano (author), Garrincha(bow-legged genius).

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Return of Polish Ecstasy

The innocent day-dreams of springtime may have faded, bleached and dried by rays of fitful summer sunshine but as you hurry home through the gloom make sure you try your best to stay alert to new possibilities, for there, amongst the crisp packets and sodden autumn leaves you'll find one. Naked, tousled and glowing with the aura of rebirth, announcing itself not with a cry but with a wink and a smile...

Polish Ecstasy, the dilettante lifestyle font.

Polish Ecstasy will now be updated on a more regular basis with what will equate to the sum of all known wisdom on gambling, music, drinking, sartorial matters, cuisine and whatever else it is seen as fit that we enjoy so stay tuned x

From the front line...betting shop wisdom #1

#1 Follow Fehily

I was in the process of throwing fourty pounds down the drain in a Totesport down near the fountains in Bristol's city centre this weekend when I got to talking to a knowledgeable student of the form. He switched me on to a gem of punting info which I shall pass on to you.

When it comes to level stakes profit, Noel Fehily, Charlie Mann's stable jockey puts the superstar names of the sport to shame boasting around +£35 margin for all but one of ther last 4 seasons. His strike rate may be slightly lower than than some of the his more illustrious colleagues but when it comes to level stakes profit (+£19.56 this season)he easily outstrips Ruby Walsh (-£14.56)or AP McCoy (-£92.42!).