RIP Big George

I’ve just heard the very sad news that George ‘Big George’ Webley has died.

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Big George was probably best known for writing the theme tune for ‘Have I Got News For You’ but I knew him personally as he was a Milton Keynes resident – as was I before we moved to France – and we occasionally bumped into each other when our orbits crossed on the local music scene.

He was a very nice guy indeed, as well as being a highly talented composer, musician and TV and radio broadcaster.

I’ve played with George – he depped on bass for a band I was in – and one of my fondest memories of him was when he supported another band I was in at the Marquee Bar of the Bull Hotel in Stony Stratford one New Years Eve. He performed the HIGNFY theme on guitar and kazoo and he went down an absolute storm.

Sad news indeed and, at 53, far too young.

Goodbye Big George…

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Sunny and Kir

There are some great summer time drinks, with my favourites amongst them being – in no particular order:

  • Ice-cold lager-type beer (biere blonde)
  • Chilled rose
  • Pimms and lemonade
  • Mojito
  • Amaretto and orange juice over crushed ice
  • Pastis

However, since moving to France, another drink has entered this pantheon – kir.

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Now, I’ve been aware of kir for quite a few years now, but I’ve only recently started to really get into it as a summer aperitif.

But – as I’ve recently discovered – there’s more to kir than white wine and a dash of cassis.

Yes, I’ve known about Kir Petillant (cassis and sparkling white) and Kir Royal (cassis and champagne) for a while, but what about Kir Breton?

That’s cassis and cider!

Here are a few more variations – courtesy of Wikipedia:

  • Communard/Cardinal – made with red wine instead of white
  • Kir Imperial – made with raspberry liqueur instead of cassis, and Champagne
  • Cidre Royal – made with cider instead of wine, with a measure of calvados added.
  • Hibiscus Royal – made with sparkling wine, peach liqueur, raspberry liqueur, and an edible hibiscus flower. Also found with sparkling wine and pear schnapps.
  • Kir Peche – made with peach liqueur.
  • Pamplemousse – made with red grapefruit liqueur and sparkling white wine, which gives a slightly tart alternative.
  • Tarantino – made with lager or light ale (“kir-beer”).
  • the Pink Russian – made with milk instead of wine.

It’s also a remarkably economical drink.

With cheap sparkling wine available at just over a euro a bottle and cassis about €5 a bottle, a Kir Petillant costs around 30 centimes to make a large glass, which makes it as cheap as buying a bottle of biere blonde – and that’s cheap enough.

OK, the cheap sparkling is pretty manky on its own, but a splash of fruit liqueur makes it perfectly drinkable and also ups the alcohol content from a measly 10.5%, in the case of Comte de Talmon vin mousseux.

You don’t even need much cassis – a mix of 6 parts wine to 1 part cassis is perfectly OK and it can even be a higher ratio without detriment to the taste.

Just make sure the wine is very well-chilled.

Then you will be too.

Cheers!