I’ll pop-up if you pop-in

I use a smartphone. Well they call it that but it’s a bit of a misnomer because it’s as thick as a plank unless I use it properly. Much of its time it just sits in my pocket doing little but costing me lots. But despite some limitations, and it’s owner is often the main one, I can’t leave home without it, or even leave the room. It dominates my life because it’s my diary and my calculator and camera and email device. I use it for Twitter and Facebook and other anti-social media products. Friends and colleagues expect to be able to get an instant reply to text messages and I use it as a sat nav and shopping aid and restaurant finder. I bought my last car on it and sold the previous one on its eBay app. It holds my music collection for instant retrieval via various devices around the house and enables me to catch up on radio programmes I’d have otherwise missed once retired to bed. I sometimes type this column on it and send documents to printers for hard copies. And, for the inevitable time when I drop it down the toilet or drop it from a great height or leave it on the seat of a fast disappearing taxi as I once did in a particularly shady part of Hong Kong, it even stores all the aforementioned data, for future retrieval, in something called the Cloud which sounds to me like some religious reference.

How did I ever manage without such technology? I often stare at in in wonder before getting admonished for “playing with my phone”. Ah, yes; it also makes and receives phone calls. If you’d have asked my when I was a child, to describe a gadget of the future, I may have come up with a few of the things it could do. But they’d have been in isolation; not all in one gadget that fits in your pocket and has a super slim battery that nearly lasts all day. In those early days, the greatest wonder in my life, and it still ranks up there with space travel and wine, was the lowly pop-up book.

I remember the first one I was given and, despite later garnering qualifications as a mechanical engineer, I still marvel at its origami construction and element of surprise. And recently, in a second-hand bookshop, I saw a girl examining an old example and she soon had an admiring group around her, including me.

How such simple-seeming things could entertain in those slightly less technological times. And so I’m hoping the thrill of the pop-up still holds its power because we, at Oldfields, have been persuaded to provide a pop-up restaurant at next month’s Bishop Auckland food festival. No, we won’t be working with stiff card and triumphantly standing back as someone opens the door and a restaurant suddenly rises up in front of you – but that certainly has its attractions. Nor will it have the technology of the smartphone although I’m waiting for the day someone invents a phone that can cook.

What it will have is students from the local college waiting on customers while serving tapas-style plates of British food from our existing menu. It’ll also have chefs from our permanent restaurant cooking those dishes – if we can find some kind soul to lend us some cooking equipment in return for a bit of free publicity.

And hopefully it’ll be full of food festival folk who, after exploring the delights of the food and wine and beer on display and for sale around the town, will then want to experience the wonders of eating in a restaurant that’s here today but gone tomorrow – but unlike so many that do come and go – deliberately.

The Festival’s on Saturday the 20th and Sunday 21st of April. We’re popping-up from Friday evening through to Sunday evening with something called the Art of Dinner Conversation on the Saturday evening where we’re welcoming a whole host of celebrity chefs to come and join you at your tables. So come along and see what we and the Festival have to offer. And if you know of someone with a bit of catering equipment to spare, send an email to my smartphone at bill@oldfieldsdurham.co.uk and for more info, check out http://www.bishopaucklandfoodfestival.co.uk.

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