Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Pierre Cardin - You Are A Git!

I've been suffering paranoia about my waist size recently.

The time spent at the gym has been partly to blame; I've bulked up a fair bit and I was only ever just a 34" waist, so now I've had to bump up a bit to 36" and wear belts for reasons rather more functional than just liking them.

It's okay - I'm a bit on the tall side so I don't look too lardy even with this change (even if my waist is now officially longer than my inside leg) and can just about get away with it.

But there are two problems with this combo: first is that 36 x 34 jeans are like gold dust. Second is that everybody seems to use a different definition of the unit "inch" to everybody else.

It's true: I still have a pair of 32" jeans I can fit into comfortably. Now even allowing for stretch through wear that's a good four inches - which as we all know can make a world of difference (in my experience it's the difference between "hmm, yeah" and "ooh, a challenge"). And I still find 34" jeans that fit absolutely fine with room for a couple of fingers..

But today I saw the ultimate in oddness. I found a pair of Pierre Cardin jeans that I really did like and were within the bounds of reasonable price and so I decided to try them on. I grabbed a 34" and a 36" to compare and hurried off to the fitting room.

The 34" wouldn't even close.

The 36" pinched.

Realising that I'd have to go to the 38" just for something that flattered my arse I decided that Pierre Cardin could, frankly, just go and royally fuck himself with an electric carving knife. Nothing is worth that kind of humiliation.

Mister Cardin clearly has the same relationship between real and imagined lengths that I see on most gaydar profiles.

Post-Christmas Blues

What really gets me down about Christmas is going round the sales afterwards and seeing everything you've bought as presents reduced in price.

So far I've discovered I paid £100 more before Christmas than I would have done afterwards.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Lawks a Mussy!

Well, last night's Windypops! was a tad different. It was, I think, an interesting learning curve for all concerned and also broke through the triple figure attendance barrier for the first time!

The Band Aid 20 destructathon changed very quickly. Not enough copies of "That Record" were provided to make it worthwhile, so the organisers thought, "sod it" and decided to put the cloakroom money to charity instead and then in a true democratic fashion allow *all* the attendees to destroy what we did have on the dancefloor.

Now, put this down to watching too many loony tunes if you will, but within seconds of the announcement being made and Band Aid 2 starting up with Kylie's dulcet tones, I recall a comedy "whoosh" noise and Smess being left staring at an empty hand.

The evening is thus remembered mainly for the sight of a reasonably full dancefloor with people jumping gleefully up and down on charity records and the typical linndrum arrangement being liberally sprinkled with smashing and tinkling noises and the occasional cheer.

Worryingly, people were also dancing to it with gay abandon which led me to try a little experiment... I'd shied away from being too cheesy (the crowd of trendy hipsters, transvestites and indiekids had scared me off trying that) but cued up Sophie Ellis Bextor's "Get Over You" for the next track. Dance floor still showed much sign of movement so I went for the ultimate in unjustifiable pap.

Sonia.

The fact that the dancefloor only increased its load during the second chorus of "Can't Forget You" led me to bury my head in my hands and turn to Smess with a weary "oh well, we've found the level then!"

I then dug out all that was naff and crap in my collection and went with it. (Well, okay... I didn't go with *all* that was naff and crap since time was limited, but hey.)

And "Light Years" is such a cool track to end on, I think.

God I was shattered.

But thankfully I did remain to the very end, helping out on the coat desk where I was at least privy to my personal highlight of the evening: one pissy queen came up and collected his coat and asked to speak to the organisers. Jon was with me so he took a step forward to listen to what the chap had to say.

As he left, Jon turned to me with a big grin and announced that we'd got a complaint! The poove had, in that way typical of mincey people out to miss the point entirely had said: "I don't want to be a party pooper, but I don't think destroying the band aid records was really necessary" and then flounced out.

Violence, dancing and offence! Result!

Strangely

I didn't get totally wasted over Christmas. I spent most of it in a pleasantly tipsy haze, I'll grant you, but no hangovers were in evidence and I still retained full use of my faculties.

My aunt, as ever, tried to feed me up to being the size of a house, but I resisted and indeed only hit sixteen stone as a result. I'm now desperately trying to burn it off. Breakfasts with bucks fizz and smoked salmon, meaty lunches, and the regular sound of corks being removed from bottles punctuated the deluge of television and popping round to feed friends cats (who, naturally, took to me the minute they realised I was there to feed them).

Best present? Probably the plasma ball Chris-the-Flatmate got me. I'm sure several readers of this journal will understand totally the overwhelming urge I had to set it up, put my fingers to the glass and start intoning "Time Controller Activated" as the light played around my fingertips.

Oh yes... I'm so lost.

Then add to that the "spankometer" to determine how many calories I burn off during a wank (opening that in front of my aunt was surprisingly painless since she fell off her chair laughing), the "Willie Bath Bomb" (which was actually from my aunt, bless her), the grow your own voodoo doll kit, chocolates and stuff and I think I had a rather successful haul.

But mainly, I must admit, it was the three 11-hour sleeps that I cherished most of all.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Yule-Hole

I love my Forgotten English calendar, it's filled with strange words and customs.

Today's is "yule-hole" which, rather charmingly, is the last hole to which a man could stretch his belt at a Christmas feast.

Anyway, I shall be offline until Monday so I just thought I'd wish all my readers a Happy Christmas (or whatever it is you feel like celebrating, if indeed you are).

I'm off now.

Have fun!

Fie!

Oh dear. I got totally ratted last night.

Ben popped over with wine and presents, so we exchanged gifts for him and Mikey, Chris went to Sheffield and so Ben and I settled down to watch some telly and drink for the evening.

A few episodes of Rex the Runt later (Ben needed educating) we settled down for some Doctor Who.

We finished off "the Seeds of Dooooooooom" and then moved onto the 25th Anniversary story "Silver Nemesis" which was a case of going from the sublime to the ridiculous, but did afford us the treat of going from one camp old lunatic villain to another. Both Lady Peinforte and Harrison Chase are just an eye twitch away from being in the Shining and give wonderful performances as a result.

I then finished my wrapping, my packing and threw myself into my slumbers only to rouse myself this morning with the sort of reluctance that Sophie Aldred showed when offered acting classes.

Still, it's Christmas. You should expect hangovers.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Eeep! Too Much To Do!

I still have a couple of pressies to find, CDs to burn for Monday, raffle tickets to buy (again, for Monday), packing to do for Tomorrow and the actual "how are we going to do this anyway" (yes, for Monday) to do.

Something's gotta give.

However, at least one thing has been resolved: I know now when I'm on. My set starts at 11:00 on Monday night, continuing until the wee small hours (i.e. those small hours when I'm desperately going to need a wee, or 12:30 to you).

Oh and Val Kilmer was on telly last night in some kind of dodgy film with American Indians in it and some kind of "maverick cop trying to stymie a land deal" kind of story. The film was pretty appalling, but at least Val's still pretty.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I Feel Dirty

I just bought three copies of Band Aid 20 for the destructathon on Monday.

Naturally the girl on the till gave me a look.

"Don't ask" I said. She nodded: "you're doing it to take them out of circulation aren't you?"

Poor girl. Apparently she'd sold 125 copies this morning. I can only assume that now they're not responsible for getting it to be the Christmas number one, people are buying it determined to bankrupt that tycoon who says he'll match the money it raises.

Trashy Tuesdays

Last night my flatmate, Chris, and I headed (as promised) towards Retro Bar for their Christmas Pop Quiz. There was a lingering fear that the place would in fact be packed, which turned out to be totally justified: it was standing room only.

We stood with our drinks for a while, finding ourselves in the way of absolutely everybody wherever we stood and finally decided that since there were no surfaces to lean on for writing answers, and no chance of doing anything other than be made to move from one place to the next we'd give up and go upstairs.

Which actually faced the same problem.

So we gave up.

It was then that Chris suggested trying Trash Palace, a new bar that's opened up close to Leicester Square. Having not been there I thought "well, why not" and Chris apparently knew someone on the bar staff who'd been badgering him to go and say "hi" so he could also succeed in that obligation too.

Of course, said member of bar staff wasn't on last night, but we got drinks and sat down anyway.

It's an odd place. It apparently had a fortune spent on it, but somehow despite large glowing screens and flashy lights and lots of exciting accoutrements there's still something desperately unfinished about it. And there's not enough seating; Chris and I thus spent several happy minutes mentally adding bar stools and plush benches in appropriate places.

The downstairs bar (which is actually on the first floor of the building) was where we settled since the upstairs had opted for a low-level lighting and bad lounge music kind of feel. Downstairs had actual real lighting and pounding electro so I instantly felt at home.

It was kind of inspiring actually. There were only two tracks the DJ played that I didn't much care for (Lips Inc's "Funky Town" for example starts well, but is a horribly jarring construction when played in full) and many of the other tracks were ones I actually had, but had forgotten about. Natalie Imbruglia's "I'm Impressed" for example worked exceptionally well pumped up loud and the DJ even came over to us as we were singing along to comment that we were probably the only people there who had the faintest idea of who it was.

The set list for Monday will be adjusted accordingly.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Naughty or Nice?

Hmm. I seem to be somewhat addicted to those internet quiz things.

I just did Were You Naughty or Nice This Year?

I scored "a little bit naughty":

While you're not likely to greet Santa with sucker punch, he's still not too jolly about coming to your house. You might get a small token from Mr. Claus - like some detox pills for your liver.
Memo to self: must be much naughtier in 2005.

Twenty-First Century Tools

One of the great things about the way computers have increased in power and availability, but decreased in price is that it puts some fantastic tools within the reach of people of only minor talent like myself.

Being vaguely unimpressed by what I've heard of the new Erasure album, Nightbird (it's not bad by any means - quite pleasant in fact, just not a staggering return to former glories), I wasn't expecting much of the mixes of their new single "Breathe".

The LMC mix certainly is a pile of dum-tish tosh designed for vacuous danceclubs with no real class, but I was pleasantly surprised by something purporting to be the "When Andy Bell Met Manhattan Clique Extended Remix". It's actually left the original pretty much intact but made a nice few electroey tweaks and given a bit of kick to the drums that actually makes it perfect for my set on Monday.

Only problem: in common with many remixes these days it's ridiculously long. Why these people feel compelled to have sixteen bars of the same beats instead of four I have no idea.

So I dug out some audio software and sat down last night to trim it back into a version I'd be happy to play without wasting three minutes trying to get to a point I can mix something else in.

An hour later, I ended up with a nice under-five-minute version which doesn't ramble and will, I think, blend quite nicely at the end with the Droyds 2004 Mix of "You're History" (if indeed I play it, I'm still undecided).

I'm most impressed. It's the quickest I've ever performed such an operation and I've listened to it a few times now and I can't hear the join at all.

I might tackle another this evening.

Hmm.

According to What Planet Are You From? I am from Venus.

It goes on:

"You love all forms of beauty. You love dressing up and anything luxurious. A social butterfly, you're incredibly popular and a great host. You're known for your fairness and affection. And as a friend to all. Careful though! You're desire to please may make you too willing to conform. Be yourself. Focus on what matters to you. You'll be all the more popular for it."
What it doesn't say, of course, is that men are supposedly from Mars.

This probably explains a lot.

You Ever Have Those Moments...

... when you find yourself thinking "oh my God, what have I done?"

This morning I found our Band Aid 20 Destruction night on the 27th December on the front page of http://www.bandaiddilemma.net/

This whole Windypops! thing is getting out of control!

Monday, December 20, 2004

What is it about Retro Bar?

I didn't have much to drink last night, I didn't stay out late, I'd eaten heartily before I went and indeed the focus of the evening was playing board games anyway but somehow I woke up this morning with a mouth that felt like the inside of a badger and a head that was resolutely refusing to engage.

This happens every time I go there, mind. There must be something in the air.

It was a good evening, mind. I was even enjoying myself so much that I went and agreed to turn up to the pop quiz on Tuesday. This is despite proving conclusively at the music edition of Trivial Pursuit that I know nothing worth knowing whatsoever.

Ho hum.

The weekend as a whole, however, was spent in isolation. I had a few invites all of which I graciously turned down, and spent it in front of the telly or sleeping in. Add to that a spot of wrapping presents, a few friends popping over for a short yet pleasant visit on Saturday, ordering a shitload of stuff from Tesco.com, doing admin and (as noted below) panelbeating and I do feel that my time was well spent.

Actually, on Saturday night I saw "Stage Beauty" on BBC2, and I must say I was really rather impressed by it (even if the promised scene of buggery by Ben Chaplin was sadly lacking). It's out on DVD next week so I must get a copy.

Who's the Batty Boy?

I sat there on Sunday afternoon (having facepacked, clipped my nails, dealt with a few stray eyebrow hairs and ingrowing bits of stubble) and whilst listening to the new Erasure album gave myself a manicure.

Halfway through which I suddenly realised just how fucking gay I've become.

I blame the lack of sex. If there was more of that I wouldn't have time for these fripperies.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Stop My Brain

This press release went out this week from the organiser of the club I'm DJing at after Christmas:

Raising money through wanton destruction of Band Aid 20 singles.

Windypops! at the White Swan raising money for Oxfam

London, 11th December 2004: Windypops, the alternative gay and lesbian night held at the White Swan every Monday, announces a charitable event to be held at its midst-Christmas party on Monday the 27th December 2004.

Aware that many of the indie and pop-loving community are aghast at the latest version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, customers are invited to bring copies of Band Aid 20 on CD along to the night and give them to the organizers. As many as possible of these CDs will then be destroyed through whatever means possible on-stage during a ritualistic playing of 1989’s “Band Aid II”.

The person destroying the CDs will be chosen by a raffle held on the door, with proceeds from this raffle donated to charity. The organizers will then also donate a sum to the collection for each copy destroyed.

All proceeds and collections will be donated to Oxfam who are working to aid the crisis in Darfur and Chad in the Sudan region.

Fran Healy, lead vocalist of the atrocious band Travis, has denounced criticism of the Band Aid 20 single as “disgraceful”. This is therefore an opportunity for all attendees to be utterly disgraceful on a Bank Holiday whilst raising money for a very worthy cause.

Additional donations during the night would of course be welcomed.

About Windypops!:

Windypops is the alternative gay (but straight-friendly) club night at The White Swan in Limehouse.

Held every Monday it plays fun and funky, indie and pop from PJ Harvey to PJ and Duncan and everything in between.

Frequent featured artists include the Human League, Pulp, Soft Cell, Scissor Sisters, Deuce, Tina Turner, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Bodies Without Organs, Shampoo, Radiohead, Voice Of The Beehive, Kylie, Shakespear’s Sister, Chicks On Speed, Daphne and Celeste and lots, lots more. Regular DJs include Telco (AKA RockJohn; Marvellous, Rocktronica), IanH (Retro Bar) and JunkLady.

Windypops is open from 8pm - 2am. Admission costs £2 (£1 with a flyer). Free entry can be obtained before 10pm or with an NUS card at any time. Free entry for anyone bringing a copy of Band Aid 20 to destroy.

Windypops is hosted at the White Swan, 556, Commercial Rd, London, E14 7JD, the nearest station for which is Limehouse on the Docklands Light Railway. Further information is available here :

http://www.windypops.com

About Band Aid II:

Band Aid II released as a single in 1989, essentially as an updated version of Bob Geldof and Midge Ure’s 1984 original. Produced by Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman, its line-up included Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Cathy Dennis, Chris Rea, Sonia, Big Fun and Bananarama.

Band Aid II is the often forgotten – not to mention often derided – Band Aid release, despite its relevance to a generation of current pop music fans. It is also the obvious antithesis of the version currently on release.

So... three guesses whose idea this was...

It's the Little Things...

I arrived home yesterday to find that I had a small package awaiting me. Eagerly I shredded the wrapping, casting fragments of bubblewrap aside in my mission to get to the goodness inside.

And there it was: a pack of flashcards.

But not just any flashcards, oh no. The official promotional Girls Aloud "What Will the Neighbours Say?" flashcards. I now no longer need to speak when I go out, I can just flash a little white card with the text "I'm just a love machine" at any man who takes my fancy or "I think you're off your head" at one who doesn't.

How did I get hold of this little slice of fabulousness? Ah... it's all due to those wonderful people at popjustice.com who said that they'd send them to the first 100 people to donate to keeping the site alive.

Naturally I pounced at the opportunity.

I'm a giver, me.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Sex Factor

I discovered on my return home last night that some idiot has rather inexplicably nominated me for Gaydar's Sex Factor awards.

I went and followed the link they provided and promptly fell at the first hurdle: I have to choose my own category out of a specific list. "And what are the categories?" I hear you ask... Well, it's all stuff like muscle, bears, guy next door, alternative, leather, sports gear and so on.

I.e. categories for which I don't actually qualify by any stretch of the imagination.

This, combined with the fact I have to find an enticing picture of myself (that isn't two years out of date) and add it to the Sex Factor gallery, means I may be opting out of this one.

Flattered though I am, I see no desire to put any effort into something I can't possibly win.

The Furnace

Last night I imbibed a fair amount of alcohol whilst at a leaving drinks do for one of my colleagues (young Richard, whose enthusiastic and affable insanity I am truly going to miss) before joining Mark, 'Stina , Helen and Mark's boyfriend John for a meal at the Furnace.

Now I can't even begin to tell you the Italian names of what I ate, but suffice it to say this is a restaurant I can't recommend highly enough. The food was lovely, the staff were lovely and two bottles of wine and a large two course meal came in at just £23 a head. Bargain.

Mind you, after a day's training I was flagging a bit. I made it home at half ten stone cold sober but feeling oddly out of it due to tiredness.

I still feel a bit like it today.

Golf Umbrellas

What is the point of these things?

Some of us manage to get by quite nicely with quite small brollies, thank you very much, but there seems to be a definite trend of late towards carrying around an umbrella which is roughly the same size and shape as the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Now surely, unless you are actually playing golf (and arguably even then), it's patently obvious how ridiculous and antisocial these bloody things are when used on crowded pavements? They take up far more space than one person can justify having, force people into the road to get past, and stop passers by from seeing anything ahead so they've no idea what's coming.

I wish a blistering pox on anyone who takes it upon themselves to wield one.

Fucktards.

Festive Spirit...

...is somewhat lacking at present. I keep looking at the pile of presents I have yet to wrap and experiencing a sinking feeling. I'm sure as a gay I should be excited by glitter and tinsel and yet there's just something about the whole experience that leaves me somewhat cold. I mean, it's all just so much work.

Wednesday night I spent a reasonably demoralising couple of hours on Oxford Street trying to buy presents. It was a reasonably productive session (I now only have two minor ones to get) but as you would imagine of Oxford Street of an evening in the run up to Christmas it was a little slice of hell on earth.

This was compounded by the fact that my father has asked for an item of clothing for his Christmas present - something I regard as the ultimate in parental cruelty.

It is, I'm sure, genetically impossible for men to buy clothing for other people. Where women see an opportunity to be creative and influence someone's sense of style, men (even the poofiest) see only a minefield of wrong choices to be made. I personally refuse to let other people buy me clothes because of this (a smack in the face often offends) and would have hoped that my father would do the same - especially after a stressful visit I accompanied him on recently to buy my stepmother a coat. Did this visit teach him nothing? No, apparently not...

The item of clothing incidentally is... well... actually not a big deal. He wanted a pair of gloves. Medium. Hardly, one would have thought, the basis of a major crisis. But the killer thing is that they had to be driving gloves.

Now I don't know what driving gloves are. What makes them so different from ordinary gloves that makes them so suitable for driving? I'm assuming they can't be chunky but does insulated lining matter? Maybe it does: what if he's driving in sub-zero temperatures?

So I realise that I need to get it from somewhere where he can take it back if I get the wrong size. "Try Halfords" he suggested, not registering that, being a shop for driving accessories, such stores are usually located on industrial estates that can only be reached by driving to them.

As a non-driver this means that I was restricted to M&S.

I think I got away with it. Time, of course, will tell.

But boy did I need a drink afterwards.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Breaking the Habit of Lifetime

So I finally staggered in at 1:00 this morning having been out to watch the Human League do a gig at Shepherd's Bush last night.

As ever they put on an excellent set, with thumping tunes and some extremely sharp suits and glamorous dresses (and that was just Phil). Susan did an excellent version of "Just Be Good To Me" and they all seemed to be enjoying themselves enormously.

They're one of those bands you don't expect to be good live, considering how studio based they are, but over the last few years they've really grown into doing live sets. (This in stark contrast to Phil's insistence in the late 90s that it was a bit of trial because he was getting on a bit, his memory was going and he couldn't remember the words any more.)

And it's gotta be said there aren't many acts who could fill two hours non-stop with almost every track a hit single.

Prior to that Trademark did the support slot. I first saw them support the league at Hackney Ocean for a one-off gig in 2002, and since then have run into them several times at The Fan Club, Electrogogo - where I accidentally assaulted one of them (much to my horror) - and so on. It's been interesting watching them develop over time; they're much more focused now, less of the art-school posturing (the lecture on waveform synthesis in between songs always made me cringe) and now more in the way of confident solid pop tunes. They so deserve to make it big, they really do - must remember to play "Hold That Thought" at my next DJ set in a couple of weeks.

So all in all an excellent gig - muchos enjoyance.

Today, however, I've had to break the habit of a lifetime and go for a Starbucks. The gingerbread latte was very nice but I felt so guilty I ended up buying a fruit salad too!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Sixteen Tons of Hardware

Current favourite thing is the new track by Bodies Without Organs, intriguingly entitled "Sixteen Tons of Hardware". A mysterious benefactor has made the MP3 available to me (spent most of my non-sleep-time this weekend looking for it without success) and I must say I'm loving it.

In fact so far I've loved each of their singles, but then that isn't surprising seeing as how it's the new band from Army of Lovers stalwart Alexander Bard who never seems to write a duff track. Frankly its criminal they haven't done any releases over here.

Have a peek at http://www.electronordica.com/ for their videos - certainly the "Sixteen Tons of Hardware" video is brilliant in a daft and camp way.

Plus the lead singer's rather boffable.

Of course, the lyrics are bizarre. In fact I'd go so far as to say they make no sense whatsoever - but this is pop music after all. Therefore it's allowed.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

I spent a lot of the weekend hibernating.

I arrived back from Toronto at 6:15 on Friday morning and staggered in through my front door at about 8:00. Now most normal sensible people who have failed to sleep on the plane would probably choose that as a cue to go and sleep, but I decided to unpack, have a long hot bath, a couple of cups of coffee and then go Christmas shopping instead.

This was actually a surprisingly successful mission - although I will confess to almost dozing off on the tube on the way home and missing my stop. Thankfully some inner voice yelled "get out now!" just as we pulled into Archway station and I pretty much got home on autopilot.

Eventually at 9:30 in the evening, having been awake for thirty-five consecutive hours, I stumbled into my bedroom and didn't emerge again until mid-day Saturday, and even then I still needed an early night!

Sunday was spent pottering about and then heading to Chiswick for dinner with friends. Naturally all the good brought to me by the sleep was wiped out in a blur of alcohol which has somewhat laid waste to me this morning.

Ho hum.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Infertility

According to "The Globe and Mail" ("Canada's National Newspaper - Founded 1844") the journal Human Reproduction has announced that young men (hey I still qualify) should not put their laptops on their laps.

Doing so can apparently raise the temperature inside the testicles by all of three degrees Celsius due to the posture needed to balance them, the need to press the thighs together and, of course, the pressure of the laptop itself.

But what, I gasped would be the result of all this? Cancer? Impotence? Scrotal Rot?

No, apparently it could lead to infertility.

Oh well: guess where my laptop is as I write this, then. (Anyone who says Toronto will have points docked for being a smartarse.)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Room Service

There's something vaguely disconcerting about the room service here.

I just rang them to get some breakfast and somehow their system automatically tells them who I am. This means that after a quick "hi, I wondered if I could get some breakfast" you get a "yes of course, Mr Morris, what would you like?" which faintly freaks me out. I don't know who this person is - they have me at a disadvantage already!

But when they arrive I then get something I'm not used to in the UK or Europe: deferential service. And it makes me feel uneasy. I'm used to a brisk, efficient delivery, signoff and withdrawal of room service staff, see. Slightly impersonal I'll admit, but to be fair it's a lousy job and why should they have to be nice to me as well?

But here it's all vaguely obsequious. There's a lot of bowing and scraping and general "how are you sir, are you enjoying your stay, would you mind terribly if I gave you your food and do be careful of that sir, it's hot" going on. The thing is it may be regarded as courteous to do that, but again I know full well that I'm NOT actually deserving of such treatment just because I happen to occupy the room. It's really quite upsetting.

The crowning glory, mind you, is the fact that they ask if they can come in. Now forgive me if I've watched a little too much Buffy, but I'm not happy with the idea that someone can't come into my room unless I invite them across the threshold.

And to make matters worse, the staff aren't anywhere near James Marsters or Pre-Pie Boreanaz standards.

I am currently awaiting the knock with a due sense of trepidation and dread...

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Christmas Tat

I think several of my family are going to be the grateful recipients of stuffed mooses from the Renaissance hotel shop this Christmas.

I'm not sure what's provoked me towards this display of familial hostility, but I'm almost certain they'll have done something to deserve it and I simply have to inflict these items on someone!

Still loving the room, by the way. The bed is huaowge: I can actually spread eagle myself across it (not so much fun solo admittedly but never mind) and not reach the edges.

I need a house big enough for my own one now. I've decided.

Je suis dans Toronto

Well, here I are in Toronto, sitting at a crappy laptop typing out a blog entry in the middle of a blizzard.

Yes, they have snow here. Real stuff. It's like visiting my childhood, only with more sexual bravado and less naviety.

The flight was bearable. The woman on the check in desk looked me up and down and got on the phone to see if she could arrange some extra legroom, at which she succeeded. I thus was able to trip people en route as they were en route to the toilet.

I saw two films. Yes films. Anyone who knows me knows I am TV-centric, not film centric - usually I simply can't be fagged. But I watched two films: first "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" which was actually very good in its way; and "First Daughter" which was pretty awful really but got me all teary eyed and allowed me to gaze on Marc Blucas for extended periods.

Well, I say periods... the emphasis is actually on the extended.

I then arrived and finally checked into a hotel which is actually lovely. Big rooms, well appointed, room service and a bath you could drown a dolphin in.

Clearly everything in Canada is much bigger than I'm used to.

Hmmmmmmm.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Ladies Night

Last night my flatmate and I attended a Christmas Dinner in honour of a group of people affectionately known as the Ladies of the Borough, oddly enough on Borough High Street. The ladies basically comprise Daniel, Orlando and the Lady Miss Roberta (Bobby) and they decided that they'd have a meal for various friends at the Slug and Lettice.

Actually the choice of venue alone did rather put me in the mood to graciously decline the invite (it's a chain pub with delusions of grandeur in my past experience), but I thought I'd make the effort.

Now I must admit that many of the trappings of Christmas I regard as tacky in the extreme. I loathe your standard type Christmas decorations, crackers, party hats (which are never big enough for my head anyway), and anything you blow to make a noise and try to show you're having some mad loon's idea of fun. I thus avoid them like the plague.

Sadly there was a fair bit of that sort of thing floating around last night.

Thankfully, the things I do regard as being central to a good evening - good food and drink (in fact surprisingly excellent food), good company, sparkling conversation and so on were also much in abundance which more than made up for the tawdry paraphernalia.

The additional bonus was forcibly removing the blowy bits from the cardboard tubes and then having Daniel destroy them. He's a man of similar tastes to myself I'm glad to say and also objected to being loudly trumpted at. The wanton destruction of tat was thus much appreciated at our end of the table (and doubtless by everyone else in the pub as it happens).

We then headed back to their flat for what turned out to be a deeply entertaining set of random conversations, booze and... well... other stuff and so on.

Yes, it was a truly marvelous evening.

Now I just need to get back down to planet earth.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Christmas Burp

Well, apparently my DJ set on Monday was (and I quote) "Ace!" (Hopefully this doesn't mean it was prone to blowing up prize-winning pottery pig collections and talking in anachronisms.)

We are therefore in the planning stages of doing a club night at the White Swan (or Mucky Vulture whichever you prefer) on the 27th to cater for all those (like what I are) who are staying in London over Christmas rather than heading out to the provinces due to familial guilt beaing laid on with a trowel.

I am already in planning stages. Suggestions for good solid pop tracks which are upbeat (but maybe not too cheesy - I have enough of that) would be appreciated.

I think I will be giving Shakespear's Sister a repeat airing. Quite whether it'll be the voodoo mix of "You're History" or my personal favourite "You Made Me Come To This" is still up for debate.

Obviously as my favourite YMMCTT would be my first choice, but I played it at my last set and don't want to get too bogged down in repeats.

Off to Find a Mountie

Well, on Monday I am off to Canada for a few days. Our head office is based in Toronto and I've been selected to attend the next round of meetings to do with the development of our software.

Last few trips I've been on have all been client based and I have to say whilst I've been to some lovely cities, they're not really much fun when you're on your own and you don't speak the language. This time it doesn't apply thankfully. I get on well with Canadians anyway, and of course I do speak the language (although I must be careful about the terms "fag" and "cottaging").

Mainly, though, it's a chance to do something a bit different to the usual and exercise my love of sticking my oar into things.

I'm glad, however, that my fear of flying has been reduced over the last couple of years. At eight hours, though, it's still going to be a bit unbearable.

A couple of books will be in order I think.

Hangover Cures

I think I've nailed the cure that works for me:

A vitamin C capsule in water taken before retiring and again on waking.

Then, for more devastatingly unpleasant bouts a sugar rush is hugely necessary. How you get this is up to you: I had two full fat cokes and a coffee which may be regarded as overkill, but needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle.

So, despite the ravages of Christmas party, by ten o'clock yesterday morning I was bouncy and raring to go - yay me!

Of course I still looked a right state, but at least I was able to function.

I think my trainees were quite impressed.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

A Whiter Shade of Pale

The Christmas Bash was very good.

I danced like a raving madam to "Some Girls".

I am currently very unwell and dreading the training I'm doing today.

That is all.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Nooooooooo!

I've just discovered Molly Weir, who starred in Rentaghost and One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing, has died aged 94.

Interestingly that would have made her 74 when Rentaghost finished - what a trooper.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4052617.stm

Tonight Tonight

Won't be just any night... because I'm off to prison - by which I mean the company Christmas bash.

Last year's was dire, but this years I have better hopes for because it's being held in a rather unusual venue: The Clink.

I still have reservations (largely due to the provision of a DJ, and who wants to see their colleagues dance?) but I can always scuttle away after the meal.

Lets just hope the drink keeps flowing.

The Replenishment Begins

Yesterday I bought two new shirts to begin the restocking of my wardrobe after the cull on Saturday.

I don't think I've ever spent twenty-five quid on a shirt before - let alone when buying more than one.

Boy it felt good. I may be becoming a shop-aholic!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Death Warmed Up

Well, I think my DJ set went okay. I was kind of bricking it before I went on (nerves not helped by a majorly evil day at work), but the CDs I'd made worked on the equipment, the decks were actually quite easy to control and - although there was no beatmatching as such - it all flowed nicely from one track to another.

Okay, so there were about eight people there, but it was a Monday night and normally doesn't start filling up until half ten anyway, so the early shift was more for me learning than anything.

The club organiser came up halfway through and said how much he was enjoying it, and one of the other DJs came up at the changeover and said he thought it was a very good set too. So a success, I feel. I've even been asked back.

It must be said, though, that I hadn't before realised before how camp my taste in music is. Even the dark electro stuff has a sheen of melodrama, sleaze and bitterness about it that makes it just as camp as Bananarama.

Frankly I still can't believe I got away with having Client and Silence is Sexy alongside Girls Aloud and the Spice Girls. Some things just shouldn't be done, I feel (so it's a good idea to do them anyway).

Of course, as a side effect of being bought drinks all night and being up until two o'clock in the morning I am now in no fit state to be anything other than a doorstop.

The clients I have arriving for training in half an hour best be gentle.

Monday, November 29, 2004

I Said Hunt!

Yesterday - after a heavy night's drinking and stupidly agreeing to things (see previous post) - I dragged my raddled, hungover and strangely bloated corpse over to the Royal Festival Hall (which at 10:15 on a Sunday Morning is an utterly god-forsaken place, I can assure you).

The occasion for this particular wakefulness was that I'd agreed to help with the fourth OUTintheUK treasure hunt which was taking place over London. I turned up to meet my co-helper, pick up the instructions, badges, tasks and clues that I would have to hand out and watch the poor saps arrive in teams ready for the day's running around.

This Treasure Hunt was nasty. The others have been difficult or tricksy, but this time the organisers had gone out of their way to make it evil and/or humiliating. The teams had to carry a mop with them which they would have to dress up en-route, keep a non-hardboiled egg and a breadstick intact from start to finish, and on arrival at Bank they had to evict a team member in a Big Brother stylee. All of which caused many complications.

I had requested that I be stationed somewhere which served alcohol. Chris duly obliged and the team had to follow a clue that said Dave and I would be somewhere on Argyll Street in Oxford Circus - probably drinking.

Now admittedly it was a vague clue, but boy were some teams slow. Argyll Street isn't big, and most of its establishments are coffee shops or eateries. We only found one pub and were situated just inside it, but some people required us to be jumping up and down and waving before they thought about venturing inside.

I mean, did they expect us to sit outside all afternoon? When it was raining? Pah!

Still they all found us, had to go and buy us sweets from Topshop and so on (not a bad task in my opinion - yum) and then got sent on their merry way. We then made our way to Revolution in Clapham where I ate an enormous burger and won a bottle of tequila in a prize draw.

And I tell you something, the Argyll arms was a damn sight cheaper than most gay bars in London - but still had a significantly high mox content.

All things considered I think there are worse ways of spending your afternoon.

Oh Shit

Reasons why I shouldn't be allowed to drink #348: I can fall prey to people who need a DJ to cover a slot at short notice.

So thanks to Mister Rob Holley who chose his moment very carefully on Saturday night, I am doing the 8-10 stint at Windypops at the White Swan in Limehouse tonight.

I've never done a solo set before. I'm bricking it.

Anyone who fancies coming along to lend (im)moral support please do! It's here in the heart of London's thriving docklands.

Drinks may be freely purchased for the panic-stricken loon behind the decks.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Fashion Disaster Alert

I've just had a cull of my wardrobe.

Anything even remotely irridescent or shiny, bar one rather nice black shirt, has gone. I was rather surprised to find I still fit into a pair of allegedly 32" jeans - I'm normally 34" or 36" - so I kept those, but half of my entire wardrobe has now gone into carrier bags for recycling.

Part of this cull was due to the realisation that I don't look right in short-sleeved shirts. T-shirts I fit nicely, and proper long-sleeved shirts, but I've come to the conclusion that I don't look right in otherwise ordinary shirts that aspire to T-shape.

I then voiced this decision to my flatmate. "Yeah," he said. "You always do look spectacularly uncomfortable in them."

So to him and everyone who has ever seen me in clothes: thanks a fucking bunch guys! Taking me to one side and saying "never wear anything like that again" would have been a kindness I think!

Oh well. I suppose I now can avail myself of the glorious opportunity to restock. So that's a plus!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Pornography

Far from my favourite track on the album, Client's next single from "City" is called "Pornography".

The video can be found here.

It's quite a sweet little track really, but I suspect the main reason for using it is the fact that Carl Barat of the Libertines guest stars on it.

Now if that doesn't get them some attention then nothing will.

Vampiric Tendencies

Last night I cooked a risotto.

Very nice it was too (could have done with more kick in my opinion so I shall give that some thought for next time) but sadly I am today suffering "garlic disorder".

This is the tragic problem that is suffered by anyone who has recently handled garlic, in that despite repeated cleaning my fingers still smell of the damn stuff.

Every time I bring my hand anywhere near my face all I get is the pungent aroma of Allium and soap. It's horrible.

I may have to bleach my own hands shortly.

Out Out Damn Spot

There are two places I can guarantee spots forming on my face.

One is directly in the centre of my forehead. At least once every six months one will appear and some clever clever highly original people will then start asking me why I'm wearing a bindi.

The other is the right side of the base of my nose. And this is the worst place for them. Whenever one takes up residence in this area, it makes my right nostril swell and go red, and yet is completely resistant to any form of remedial action since for some bizarre reason there is no actual "head".

This morning I woke up with the latter and am most exceedingly pissed off as a result. Every time I twitch my nose it hurts and there's nothing I can do about it.

Well, stop doing it then, you might say. But the twitching of my nose, the wiggling of my ears and the waggling of my eyebrows are what make me me.

I don't actually - ow! - have control over them any more. They just - ow! - happen.

It's terrible being a circus freak with an affliction.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Heavy Petting

Say hello to Teddy, the cat currently responsible for shredding my father's carpets.



The picture doesn't really show it but he is very much the cat of action. Previous cats in the house have been real lap-animals, but this one isn't. He can barely sit still for five minutes, sunbeams excepting obviously, and tends to rush from one activity to the next as if his life depended on it.

So it was quite a shock for all concerned on Sunday that he decided to stick with me for half an hour, his purr generator never letting up once, even though at one point I'm sure he'd dozed off.

My stepmother opined that I'd always been very good at fussing cats. And I suppose she was right too, it seems I've always known the right spot to rub or scratch to get them dissolving in paroxysms of ecstasy, knowing just how hard to do it and switching between specific spots and general stroking just to balance things out and so on.

Perhaps this is why I've always been able to give massage, even before I did the course in it. It's a very similar discipline, just a case of being able to pick up on subtle (or indeed not so subtle) indications of what the recipient likes and then responding accordingly.

Never needed to think about it, oddly enough. Even the lady on the massage course said I was a natural.

See, it's a definite gift. Why someone hasn't snapped me up, I guess I'll never know.

Oh yeah... I scare them off.

Damnit!

Unexpected Laughs

I have a reputation for being slightly dry in my humour (in fact occasionally arid), and I'm used to the fact that this never really gets big laughs, just a wry smile and an occasional chuckle.

So I was quite taken aback this weekend when I almost caused chaos with an off the cuff remark that even now I don't actually find that funny.

Scene: the dinner table. Four of us are eating when the cat comes in, sits down and starts cleaning his bum pointedly in our direction. "Oh," I say, "thanks for that," at which my stepmother Shelley puts forward the view that the cat probably thinks this is the only way to clean and that we're desperately unhygienic.

Fair point, we agreed. At this point Daniel, my stepbrother, after a moment's thought indignantly announces that his tongue wouldn't stretch that far.

"Really Daniel?" my father mutters, "Oh, I am surprised."

"But not," I note, "at all surprised he's tried."

It took five minutes for order to be restored after Dad and Shelley dissolved in hysterics, during which the cat stormed off in disgust and Daniel tried to give me evil looks whilst being secretly amused at the hilarity. (I guess even being the butt of a joke does bring him the attention he so desperately craves.)

I'm still surprised that they found it so amusing. I guess I'll never understand comedy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Ow Ow Ow

Whose stupid idea was it to bring several jars of honey back from Canterbury?

Oh yeah... mine.

I am currently at home in pain having knackered my shoulder bringing back much more in the way of stuff than I went down with. The jars of honey are sitting right next to me sniggering to themselves while I suffer, damn them.

Oh well. C'est La Vie.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Gone West

Last night I did my periodic night in Westbar, one of the gay nightspots in Canterbury.

Well, technically it's mixed. Polysexual. Or rather "we can't afford to turn away paying customers and don't want trouble". But it's mainly pooves and fag hags.

Remember my rant yesterday about some change being bad and some being good? Well last night there was a bit of both.

The good change was the type I got back from a tenner. One thing the provinces have over London is that they're so much cheaper - I managed to get a round in for four quid which *never* happens in London.

The bad news is that they've redecorated some of the bar.

It used to be kind of purple and lilac and lavender colours. Not a combo I'd have chosen, but with these bizarre wall mounted light fittings (seemingly stolen from the set of Blake's Seven) it kind of worked. The bar had previously been a dodgy pub I was too scared to go in, and they'd clearly just painted over it and changed the furniture, but it had a certain element of style. One that the budget couldn't match, naturally, but style nonetheless.

Last night I found they've switched to white.

Now don't get me wrong, I like white. I can't wear it obviously due to trade descriptions, but as a colour I like it.

Just not on walls. Ever.

It's too bright, too fussy, too clinical and too cold. And sadly, the cracks in the woodwork, the gaps between fittings and everything get rendered all too clearly when faced with such a sharp background. It made it just that bit more obvious how the place is falling apart.

Tsk. There's a reason why magnolia and cream colours are more popular, guys. You're gay, you're supposed to be good at this sort of thing.

One other thing that amused me: like many bars in London they've blocked off the cistern in the gents' cubicle with a piece of plywood to stop people snorting Bolivian Marching Powder off it. Now considering the downward spiral of the venue I'd be surprised if anyone dared use the cistern anyway, but there's a sodding great flat-topped loo-roll holder on the wall anyway! Talk about missing the point.

Still, it was nice to head back home for cups of Earl Grey, cake and conversation.

And at least the vicarage has hot water.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Do they Do This on Purpose?

Today in The Works (a publishers clearing house kind of shop that sells books that really ought to be pulped) I saw a title in a pile of books that seemed to trying to create a "Occult, Health and Crayons" section of their own.

Not sure how you can group all those together, but the Works has never really bothered what a book's content is. I think they try and keep all the pastel covers together and so on.

But anyway: the title was brilliant.

"The Big Ball Workout Book."

I had a nasty laughter related choking incident when I saw it.

In fact one woman offered me a glass of water.

The Prodigal Returns

As I write this I am back in Canterbury, sitting at my Dad's computer and keeping an eye on the cat, who any minute now is likely to wake up and look for mischief. (He is of course more managable than my stepbrother, Daniel, but that's because whilst you can housetrain cats, you can't do it to eleven year-olds.)

Anyway...

Coming back to Canterbury is always an interesting experience. I spent six years here in total: three gainfully employed whilst living at home, and a subsequent three years as a flatsharing student. (During this latter stage I was still somehow gainfully employed all the time I wasn't at college, so looking back it's no wonder I was bloody tired – not to mention a fucking miracle I got a first).

In the three years since I moved away, however, it's started to undergo a major change, one which is all the more powerful when you’ve been away for a while.

The main part of this is the Whitefriars redevelopment. It's taken about five years now, transforming the area at the top of the high street from a grotty little multi-story car-park that used be a mugger's paradise, and a tatty bus station into a sparkling new shopper's paradise and smart bus station.

Of course, the redevelopment is horrifyingly soulless in its modernity. It's mainly white walls, glass and timber, not in a horrible faux-Tudor style thankfully but it still jars. This isn't just because it's situated in a very old, historical city, but also because you end up being dislocated from where you are - it's like every other shopping centre that's sprung up in the last twenty years; you could be anywhere. I suppose in some respects it's the architectural equivalent of a skid-mark: better than the alternative, but still not in an entirely desirable place.

Wandering around I found other examples of such change. A shop closed here and there; refits left, right and centre; and the Riceman's Department store, long since absorbed into the Fenwick group, has lost the fight to keep its own name and been re-branded "Fenwick's" - thereby finally succumbing to the depressing trend towards high-street homogenisation.

At least the chestnut sellers were still busy filling the air with the smell of their roasting to cushion the blow.

I was however vaguely amused to find Eisenegger catching up to the idea of announcing to the world that they’re holding a closing down sale. The girl behind the till sheepishly succumbed to my clever probing* and admitted they're not, which merely confirmed my suspicions. (Hey, a shop on Oxford Street has been pulling exactly the same stunt for the last seven years.)

I wasn't complaining mind. It meant I got a lovely jacket for £20. Pinstripe of all things, but it should go nicely in its intended jacket, t-shirt and jeans combo.

So yeah. Sometimes change is good. But only when it suits me.

* Okay, not that clever. I only said "When are you closing?" which isn't exactly the Spanish Inquisition.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Transport of Delight

Yesterday I had the dubious pleasure of being on the 271 bus to work when all of a sudden we stopped at a bus-stop and the driver was summoned upstairs by an agitated fellow passenger in a nasty blouse.

Cue much in the way of puzzled expressions and exasperated mumbling from the other travellers while we await the outcome of this minor drama, which fifteen minutes later turns out is a tiny tiny lady being helped down the stairs with a bleeding knee.

Now there's nothing worse than being an inquisitive bastard when you're relatively shy and good mannered. You end up being morbidly fascinated by other people's affairs and yet feel completely unable to poke your nose in - as a result of which I have no idea what actually happened.

On the other hand it's great fun coming up with your own explanations for such things. At the moment I've decided this sparrow-like wench was a sex-starved housewife who caught a whiff of pheromones on some burly builder and smashed her knee open when rugby-tackling him as he tried to leave the top deck. (Please feel free to come up with your own - especially if they're funny.)

Said invalid was last seen being carried up the road by two people who were clearly desperate not to get to work, bless them.

Another ten minutes down the road and the driver is summoned upstairs again. This time the gossip network has been installed and whispers go round "someone's fainted". After another fifteen minutes a painfully thin but very tall lady, a sheen of perspiration covering her face like a caul, is helped down the stairs to the fresh(ish) air of London.

This one, I decided, is clearly a smack addict undergoing cold turkey. We wait for an ambulance to collect her recovering, yet still quivering, form and head off again.

Of course by this time most of the people have got off the bus in search of other more active routes. I, frankly, can't be bothered, so when we do finally move off I'm taking up more room that I would have thought possible on a bus at that time of the morning. It was bliss.

Anyway, finally I mused as we cruised into Finsbury Square that I had never seen any incidents on a bus before and I found myself rather pleased that this void in my life had now been filled.

I mean, it's always the way isn't it? You wait ages for one, and then two come along at once.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Why Do Pooves Suddenly Appear?

Last night I had cause to feel vaguely ill.

I was channel hopping whilst waiting for that farago of spirituality that is "Most Haunted" to start (and it was a damn good one - although the shock of hearing a former Kids' TV presenter shouting "I don't fucking know, let's just get out of here!" almost put me in therapy) when I landed on Top of the Pops 2 on one of the dull cable channels we have.

They were, in honour of Richard Carpenter's birthday, playing the video of "Close To You" - you know, the one with Karen Carpenter swaying gently in the "U" of "you" in a ghastly yellow set.

Thing is I've never liked the Carpenters. I find their music twee, saccharine and nauseating. It makes me angry and scared and want to scream loudly.

Now I normally keep quiet about this because it makes me, officially, A Bad Gay(TM).

But sod it. I can't stand them. They were crap. And if people think that makes me a bad gay, well then they can say it to my face and face the consequences.

Frankly I'm willing to hold my gayness up against that of any man.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Je Suis un Narcissist

According to a link on Riza's Victim of Narcissism blog I have a very high propensity for paranoid, histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders.

Well, dur... I'm gay for heaven's sake!

Mind you, seeing it printed before you is a bit of a shock. Especially since all the other disorders on there I got a minimum of "moderate" for, and several "high"s.

The test itself is here. It's sobering reading (or at least I assume it would be - I don't have a drink handy at present).

What the Hell?

So I've just heard, courtesy of BBC News, the opening of the new Band Aid single. It features a sort of jangly opening and vocal performances courtesy of Chris Martin of Coldplay and, of course, Dido.

I hope it isn't representative of the whole song. Because if it is it's fucking awful. Martin particularly puts in a rendition that makes me want to undergo Chinese Water Torture or listen to Natasha Bedingfield.

Clearly God is dead.

What's that sound?

This morning on the bus I was sat opposite by a gentleman for whom "vacant" would have been an understatement. His mouth was perpetually open, his eyes were glazed, and frankly I'm not entirely sure the lights were even on.

As one piece of camp old nonsense faded away on my MP3 player I became aware of a strange whistling sound emanating from his direction. It was vaguely tuneless and indistinct, like a Destiny's Child song played at a distance, and it puzzled me.

I couldn't decide if it was coming from his teeth or whether his head was caught in a cross-draught.

Giving Good Face

Here's a useless fact, pop-pickers: I shave in the bath of an evening.

Why? Well, for a few reasons really. First is that I'm not really at my best in the morning; in fact I'm usually stumbling around like a bear with a sore head trying to come to terms with the invasion of daylight into my life. Plus the steam helps soften the stubble, my beard grows less quickly in the evening, and it gives my skin time to recover before I face the world again.

The latter is particularly important. Especially yesterday when after the shave I looked like I'd been attacked my marauding Vikings armed with sandpaper and machetes.

So what's surprising is that this morning I look smooth and fresh of face; my skin is even in tone and displays no sign (yet) of spots or ingrowing hairs.

I can only put this down to the desperate decision to apply "the treatment". I shoved a wet flannel in the freezer for half an hour and filled a basin with boiling hot water into which another flannel went.

Yes. Two flannels now. My student days really are behind me.

For those of you who don't know, the treatment is to take your face off with the hot flannel (my hands haven't quite forgiven me for this - memo to self: wear gloves next time) and then in quick succession stick the cold one on.

Lawks. It didn't half wake me up.

But if the results are like this every time, I'm doing it again.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Feed the World

So Band Aid III (or Band Aid 20 as they're calling it) was recorded yesterday with a whole bunch of alleged rock and popstars doing yet another version of "Do They Know It's Christmas" as opposed to coming up with a new track we're not already fed up to the back teeth with.

The last one was Band Aid II in 1989. Naturally as a Stock Aitken Waterman production it is by far my favourite to date, not only because Bananarama appear in it again (they were on the original in 1984) but because the credit for drums goes to Luke Goss and A. Linn.

For those not in the know, "A. Linn" is S/A/W code for the presence of the Linn-Drum 9000 drum sequencer that was used extensively at PWL at the time. Which basically means that Mr Goss' drumming wasn't good enough to stand up on its own.

Ah... how he must have spat.

Slowly Falling Apart

I'm trying desperately hard to get back into a routine of gym attendance.

Yesterday I went again and found that the level on the exercise bike I was using really presented no challenge any more. So I moved it up one.

This, it turns out, was a mistake.

This new level consisted (in my opinion) of far more resistance than one notch should represent, resulting later in the amusing spectacle of me bounding up the stairs of the Black Cap and having my left knee give out on the landing.

Thankfully it was a momentary twinge, nothing more serious. I recovered the use of my leg (if not my dignity) fairly swiftly and went on to have a typically lovely meal there.

All of this has brought home, however, that there is a very fine line between improving your fitness and killing yourself. I must be more careful.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

A Word of Advice

For slightly personality-less popstars: don't cover songs that other people have already covered better.

Just been doing a little bit of digital restoration on an MP3 of a mix of "More More More" by Bananarama and I've got to say, it kicks Rachel Stevens' attempt's arse.

The lyric's better for one thing. The Nana's realised the song was a tad repetitive so added an extra verse to bring the total up to two, making it a much more acceptable song structure. And for some reason Ms. Stevens has watered down the lyric from "How do you like your love" to "How do you like my love" which for me is rather less satisfying - nay e'en less sleazy.

I mean, with "your love" it's all sort of "so how do you want me? You decide. I'm your bitch". Whereas "my love" is more sort of "hey, this is what you're getting, hope it's okay".

Naturally I prefer the former.

So Rachel: just fuck off now. You gave us "Some Girls" for which we thank you, but let's face it, anyone could have done that vocal; the genius was all Richard X's.

And close the door on your way out.

Buried Child

Last night I went with the lovely Lisa (ex-flatmate from College and fellow thespian in my drama module) to see Sam Shepherd's play Buried Child at the National Theatre.

Now I must admit, I wasn't expecting it to be a barrel of laughs, but it really was very good indeed. Harrowing, yes, but also very funny. Lauren Ambrose (from Six Feet Under) put in a particularly good turn as Shelley the girl who effectively gets stranded in the asylum and brings all the history of the house to the surface.

I was kind of disturbed to find that the Troughtons keep breeding though. Sam does have the family features, which made the fact he was looking kind of hot in a tight white T somewhat disturbing. Ho hum.

So yes. Very good. Very good indeed. I really must do more theatre.

Friday, November 12, 2004

I'm Not Loving It

So McDonalds, stung by criticism that their food could kill you dead, have decided to now make their Chicken McNuggets from real chicken fillet and to reduce the salt in them.

A lot of people I know when faced with this have gone "so what were they made of before then?" but these people clearly assumed that McDonalds have any claim to be real food in the first place so they're obviously missing the point somewhere.

But after grabbing food there last night I have to ask: why did they remove the salt?

They taste of nothing now. I'm having to add it in.

Handy Handy

So I stagger home last night, somewhat pished from another leaving drinks do, land on the sofa and watch a bit of telly.

It then suddenly occurs to me that it's really rather cold in the flat and I'm not sure it should be. Admittedly in my old age I have developed a liking for fresh air, rather than my old predeliction for developing a sealed off fug in a baking hot room, but that's more for ventilation and so on - not actually a desire for hypothermia.

So I go off and check the equipment: Lo and behold the boiler has died. I try the usual resuscitation techniques (i.e. switch on, switch off etc etc) and nothing. Nada. Zip. I then look to see if there's an ignition button - nowt.

So I phone the landlord to check if he has a special repairman he uses. He doesn't, so after he's insisted that I don't use an emergency call-out (because they are thieving swindlers) I agree I'll sort it in the morning.

Trouble is I'm now really very cold so I have another look at the boiler. This time inspection reveals a rubbery bit which actually prises off revealing a screw.

It's then I get very suspicious: why is there no ignition? Why is there no proper reset switch? The more I think about it the more I'm sure there must be something, but it's hidden away so that only engineers can get at it and charge a couple of hundred quid for hitting a button. So I grab screwdrivers and undo the screw, sliding the bottom of the boiler towards me.

Now I'm not entirely sure what happened next. Either the boiler panicked (in the same way you would were I to do open heart surgery on you with a Stanley knife and sticky tape) or the presence of a boiler suit in the house has imbued me with magical powers. In either case it all sprang to life and heat was restored.

I'm feeling exceptionally butch right now.

(Of course, like people who use the word "kinky", people who are actually butch never use the word "butch". So that kind of invalidates that one.)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Land of Fiction

Just perusing DVD.co.uk to check that they still have the Will and Grace box-sets for £17.99 and noticed something odd about the cast list for series 2.

Somebody somewhere is having problems with the difference between real life and fantasy, methinks.

Starring: Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Jack McFarland, Karen Walker.
Wonder how Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally would feel about this.

Know Your Audience

From the synopsis here:

http://www1.hmv.co.uk/hmvweb/displayProductDetails.do?ctx=280;-1;-1;-1&sku=339808

"And you can catch a live performance of 'Music Is A Victim' filmed live in Benicassim in the summer which features Jake Shears wearing only a towel."
Sold!

Actually I'd be buying it anyway, but that's what I call a special feature!

Rob the Wishy Washy Liberal

No, that's not an instruction, but a description. I've just completed a Community Safety Crime Audit Questionaire for Islington Council.

Standard stuff, but a couple of my answers caused me some deep thought. And it seems I regard grafitti and litter and vandalism as major issues, but prostitution and drug-dealing I don't regard as a problem.

Maybe my priorities on this are wrong, but I don't think so.

To be honest I do have a problem with the social and environmental side-effects of drugs and the sex trade. But since those side-effects as directly the result of their criminalisation it's more I have a problem with the way someone's decided it’s a problem and legislated accordingly. The effects are myriad and utterly incomprehensible:

  • Handing drug production over to criminals (which of course makes them so much safer)

  • Criminalising otherwise perfectly law-abiding healthy, stable, "normal" tax-payers who contribute to society.

  • Alienating those who need support for abuse, be it either drug abuse or abuse at the hands of their pimps or clients.

  • Increasing the opportunities for the spread of disease through poor hygiene, health management, advice and facilities.
I'm not sure how any of these can be good things, frankly.

Unfortunately there was no space for saying all this on the form. (Although I did, however, manage to have a dig at how deeply flawed Anti-Social Behaviour Orders are.)

And the added bonus is that I could get £100 of M&S vouchers or 2 tickets to an Arsenal game for responding.

Lucky lucky me.

Sartorial Disasters

Now, I'm happy to admit my limitations when it comes to fashion - in fact I'm pretty clueless really - but I can spot something jarringly awful when I see it.

The one that offended me most today was someone wearing a dark suit and white trainers.

I mean, trainers with a suit anyway is a bit pants, but white ones? Ick!

That's as bad as socks with sandals, surely?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Hmm? Relevance?

First time at the gym today in almost a month. I was sagging badly I can assure you -and indeed flagging too. But I made it. Just.

Thing is, the TV screens in there are getting more bizarre. There are four to each floor, and they're plumbed into the headphone jacks on the CV machines so you can jack in whilst zoning out etc etc. But I can't quite spot the reasoning behind the chosen channels.

BBC News 24? Okay, not exactly motivational but possibly worth having on.

The Hits? Okay, the sound on this one is up so everyone can hear, giving at least a rhythm to the punters' drive towards collective coronaries.

But Blue Peter? Admittedly a few weeks ago when Matt Baker and Simon Thomas were topless I did definitely pound those machines harder, but generally I'm not so sure this is motivational viewing for those trying to hang onto their youth. (After all, we have enough trouble doing our own plastic surgery let alone Tracy Island's.)

But the fourth one? Two old gits talking about the construction of golf clubs? WTF?

And the annoying thing is that I watched this last one completely mesmerised as I tried to get my head round the sheer banality of it all. If it hadn't been for dear Geri and Kylie keeping me going on my own stereo I might well have drifted off.

Why oh why oh why... etc etc.

Snigger

Today I was asked by Lee to come up with a few gay icons you could find in the S section of HMV. Obviousy Babby Streisand, Dusty Springfield and the Spice Girls were already on his list.

I failed. All I could offer was Sinitta. But, I said, "she's not much of an icon really. More a sort of DOS prompt."

I'm afraid I chuckled with mirth at this, my own joke.

I so need to get laid.

Question

Why do people wait for ten minutes at bus-stops to get a bus to go two stops down the road? Are they just lazy?

If it were raining then okay, I could see it. But it hasn't been the last couple of days and Highgate Hill takes less than ten minutes to walk down.

And if you slip and trip you could roll down much quicker.

Celebs on the Tube

Well, I say celebs - anyone who's been on television more than twice seems to count. Their very proximity makes me mumble horribly and try to get away in case I accidentally invade their privacy.

However yesterday I saw Mr Hugh Dennis in a carriage on the Random Line. Indeed when I got to Archway I had to push past him in order to get out.

He's a lot bigger in real life than I'd thought he would be.

And has incredibly blue eyes.

Reaching New Heights

Today I reached new heights of gayness.

Cher has found a home on my MP3 player with "Song for the Lonely".

There really is no going back now is there?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

It's Good to Sneer

I heart this:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/11/07/blue_state_to_reds/

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

So, on Sunday I gave a massage to a friend of mine who's been having a bit of a tense time of late. In fact, there were so many crunchy bits in his muscles that some bits were like massaging a sack of gravel, but that's by the by.

Trouble is, seeing as I'm not professionally qualified (only a minor training was undertaken) and don't intend to change careers any time soon, I can't really be fagged to splash out a couple of hundred quid on a proper table for the occasional good turn. And this basically means that to do this you end up padding the floor and leaning over at odd angles.

Which all resulted in my glutes (or bum, to you) becoming quite achey during the course of yesterday. This has now moved on from that area, instead radiating out down the inside of my thighs and making the process of walking quite an interesting experience all told.

Massage is surprisingly hard work actually. I was boiling by the end of it.

This is Silly

My body clock is still on old time.

I woke up at five on the dot this morning - which of course until the clocks went back was in fact six.

Now waking up one hour before I get up is no problem. It gives me time to ease myself into the day gently. Two hours, however, I really resent.

If this keeps happening I may end up going to the gym before work - but I fear that on that path lies madness.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Nodes and Vectors

Here's a variation on the "Six Degrees of Kevin bacon" thing that you can - assuming you are a poof - try out on all your friends.

The theory is that most people within an area (socially, geographically or whatever) have at most two degrees of sexual separation between them. Hence if you've boffed someone then that's no degrees of separation, take someone else that they've boffed that you haven't and that's one degree of separation and so on.

Discussing this a few of us realised that were we to draw lines between the people we know then we'd end up with a very complex web of such daliances which would probably qualify as an optical illusion. And the other thing we realised was that certain individuals would have a lot more outgoing lines than others.

The people are now officially known as "nodes". Hence you can start referring to them as "Node James" and "Node Zebediah" in conversation - a handy appellation to differentiate them from other James' and Zebediah's you may know.

There is then the danger that any of these nodes could become the start of what is known as a "plague vector". All it takes is one little admission and you can mentally watch a little red line dart across your chart as the individuals concerned pop to an STD clinic - and in fact you may be able to guess at a few more lines that can be drawn.

See? Hours of harmless amusement for all the family.

Actually the fact that this is possible does kind of depress me. Only on the gay scene eh?

This is one of many reasons why I don't bother getting it on with anyone even vaguely connected to someone I know. I've already been dragged far enough into this chart as it stands - I'm only one degree away from some extremely undesirable people indeed.

Oooh, bless you my child.

I feel I must make special mention of a gentleman by the name of Ian Masterson who has created the only (and I do mean only) good remix of La Halliwell's "Ride It".

The Hex Hector and Full Intention ones are precisely what I dislike about remixes: tedious drum loops, repetitive riffs, eighteen days long and barely a trace of the original song to be found.

I mean, what is the point of them, eh? If it's supposed to be a mix of the song, surely the song should feature in it somewhere? God, I thought, it comes to something when I'd kill for an Almighty Mix - and I got fed up with their rearrangement-by-numbers style years ago.

But thankfully Masterson has saved the day. His offering is a good old fashioned extended mix: a few extra twiddles, breakdowns which makes you appreciate the inner workings of the arrangement, and everything you liked about the original in the first place - only more so. Bliss.

Based on what I've heard of the mixes for Kylie's "I Believe In You" it really is a shame there aren't more people doing mixes like him.

Damn my Brain

My brain just wouldn't switch off last night.

Not that it was really making much in the way of sense, but even so, it just wouldn't stop running.

Means I've had but two hours of sleep and will have to resort to caffiene in order to keep from making nonsensical replies to support queries with my face on the keyboard.

And I was doing so well, too...

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Ye Gods

It seems that there are very many different tests on "Which Will and Grace Character are You?" available online. Out of curiosity, I've done a few.

They all say the same thing: I'm Will.

They try and couch it nicely, of course - words like "classy", "stylish", "intelligent", "lives for their friends" and "sensible" are thrown around with gay abandon, but what they're actually saying is that I'm obsessive, controlling, neurotic, emotionally distant and hopeless in relationships.

Ouch. I mean... not untrue, but ouch.

Oh well.

Mind you, with this one here at Quizilla I did have to choose the quote "Oh, that is beautiful. Are you out of your mind? Are you so intent on ruining your life? My god! Pamela Anderson makes better choices than you!" as being the one I'm most likely to say.

This is simply because I currently have a list of friends who I have come soooo close to saying that to over the last year - and I may still get round to doing it.

Well well well...

Last night, after wasting my day utterly, I attended a gig in Highbury with my friend Christina who - due to expertly timed breakdowns of the Victoria Line - contrived to be half an hour late. Naturally I spent a good amount of this muttering "I can't believe I've been stood up on a Saturday night - by a woman!" but that's by the by. And I can't even begin to describe how incredible Highbury and Islington tube station is. It somehow manages to combine extreme dullness and that vague prickling sensation that you're going to be mugged any minute to nauseating effect.

But anyway, the reason for going was that The Right Hon. Mr Martin White Esq. was playing with Scarlet's Well, a band who I had never before been acquainted with and to be honest was somewhat uncertain I'd like. But I had the spirit of adventure (and I'd already seen all of the episodes in the Will and Grace Karen Weekend on Living) and so I decided what the hell... I'll give it a try.

The venue in question was the Union Chapel Project in Islington, which by a happy coincidence is just a quick bus ride from Highgate and I must say to start with that chapels shouldn't have clock towers as big as that, okay? It's just showing off. Nor indeed should they have theatres inside them and large bar areas selling things other than Holy Spirits. And they probably shouldn't have rock gigs either. But the Union Chapel does, and very special it makes it too. We wandered in, got our hands stamped with penguins (I haven't even begun to question that yet, give me time) and went in search of booze.

Oh... and cute barmen. Chapels shouldn't have those either. Damn them.

It has to be said that I was by no means taken with the acts preceding Scarlet's Well. They were, essentially, pub rock bands and I generally must admit to a rabid disliking of any such band being in the same pub I am. They all seem much of a muchness really, not bad by any means, but they never seem to be anything special.

The second of the acts also solidified my intense dislike of string pads on synthesizers. I mean... what is the point? If you're going to have a synth, make noises nobody else can! And if you want strings, get the real thing - not some bizarre patch which doesn't sound anything like a string section. Gah!

Their last song, however, was a blaster and I enjoyed it enormously. (A nice unassuming little pop ditty that had me moshing happily. They should do more of them.)

And then the Well came on. And there they were: people who actually had mandolins and accordions and brass instruments of some description as well as guitars and keyboards. These were not a pub rock band, one suspected, but professionals. It was at that moment I realised that this could be something special.

And then they played. And I loved it. It was all kind of folk rocky - which had you asked me before I'd have gone "pah" and turned back to Kylie - but with a richness, exuberance and depth of sound I'd not expected. The vocalists (particularly the young lady) were excellent, the musicians wonderful and the songs were just brilliant - managing by turns to be compelling and incredibly foot-tapping.

I really can't recommend them highly enough. I got the 43 home with a big grin on my face, basking in the afterglow of having my horizons broadened by chance and of having seen a group who gave the impression that they were doing it purely for fun - something which in itself was extremely exhilarating.

So yes. Scarlet's Well are cool. I am a convert - and loving it.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Christmas is Coming

It is you know.

And to celebrate this happy fact the Boots in Liverpool Street Station is removing from its displays all the various unguents, sprays, wipes and gadgetry that I use to make myself vaguely presentable. All this activity is apparently occurring in order to make room for the vast giftboxes of overpriced tat which are e'en now taking their place.

I'm not happy. It appears I'm now forced to pay a £3.50 delivery charge by going online for my panelbeating supplies.

Spit.

Sic Sic Sic

Just now I found this on the BBC Cult website:

'After noting her acting achievements in The Millers Tale and Bella and the Boys, the magazine went on to say, "Next year, Piper will hit the big time when she appears in the resurrected Doctor Who as the time lord's (sic) assistant."'
I am currently assuming that the "sic" is referring to the non-capitalisation of "Time Lord". But I'm just not sure that people who haven't yet mastered apostrophes - as evidenced by the glaring omission of one in "The Miller's Tale" - should probably not be allowed to have such a dangerous weapon as "sic" in their arsenal.

Mind you, I've gotta give 'em credit: there are far fewer errors than there used to be.

Strange Looks

It's a shame really that you can get such odd looks on the tube simply for breaking into a grin. But that is what happened to me on the way home from the Fitzroy Tavern last night.

The cause of said grin? Well, drink was involved naturally. Quite a lot of it in fact - and indeed at one point last night I was handed a glass of wine that can only be described as "Micturate from the Very Bowels of Hell" which can't have helped matters - but the fact is that "Paco!" by Ladytron started on my MP3 player and I must confess to finding it a delight:

"Ground floor: ladies' clothes, sportswear, stationery.
First floor: kitchenware, furnishings, confectionery.
Second floor: children's toys, back to school, and many more.
Fourth floor: electronics, fake antiques, and lingerie."
Yes, it's like an electro version of the "Are You Being Served?" theme. Okay, so it's delivered in a rather po-faced Germanic accent but it's still rather fun. And the best bit is when you add your own "going up"s to it in your head.

Oh, it's great being gay. You can get camp out of absolutely anything.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Empire State Human

My Word Origin Calendar has today turned its attention to the word "Tall" which apparently has a relatively new definition in English.

Apparently when it first turned up in Middle English it was spelled "tal" and originally meant "handsome" or "brave".

Oh, if it only it were true. Generally I'm just raddled or cowed. Although perhaps this is often the case with tall people, hence it came to refer to height instead.

Oh dear.

Three posts in a row with ellipses in the post titles.

Proof, if any were needed, that I am a man of habit.

All the bad ones.

And so it begins...

Last night I actually sat down and started to write my magnificent octopus, as yet untitled, for national novel writing month.

Due to a slightly busy weekend and meals wih friends it has been started three days late, but hey.

I've got to say, starting any piece of writing is agonisingly hard work. I only did a thousand words but until the last couple of hundred it seemed to be taking forever.

Today is...

...National Bathe in Smellies Day.

Apparently.

This morning on the bus I had the pleasure of first being sat next to by a strikingly handsome lady who had unfortunately liberally doused herself in perfume.

Then, just after she had gone, a larger gentleman who had drained a bottle of cheap aftershave decided to sit opposite me just so I didn't miss her too much.

Frankly I don't think my nostrils have been so badly assailed with pungent aromas since that sewer backed up in Canterbury.

Less is more, people.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

And now the bad news...

It is becoming increasingly certain that enough Americans have voted Republican to guarantee Bush another four years in the White House. This neatly provides him with ample scope to continue his hobby of trampling on human rights at home whilst warmongering in the name of them abroad.

Frankly the very idea that this gibbering imbecile could get in again absolutely terrifies me. What are the people of America thinking?

Heck, are they thinking?

I think we'd better enjoy ourselves while we can. The world clearly doesn't have much time left at all.

Hot Stuff

I really don't cook enough.

Part of the problem is that after an unpleasant journey home after a long day at work my inclination to do so is pretty low, and cooking for one anyway is a disproportionate amount of effort considering the results. And trying to plan bigger meals around my flatmate and my schedules is nigh on impossible.

So I tend towards the quick and easy solo options.

But this weekend I've got to do a few different meals properly, and it's reminded me that I do actually enjoy cooking enormously. For the first time ever I cooked salmon on Saturday and last night, as part of a picnic style thing with some friends, I did a Cranberry and Brie thing, plus another innovation I was told about: using pitta bread as a makeshift Pizza base.

It's all such fun.

I think my copy of "Cooking - For Blokes" is going to get a dusting down.

Ugh

Not quite sure what was going on this morning, but for some reason there was a half an hour wait between the 271 I just missed and the 271 I actually got.

And it's got to be said, Highgate Hill is damned boring when you're waiting for a bus.

What made the wait that teensiest bit more annoying was the sheer quantity of 271s going in the opposite direction, heading for a bus station but two stops up where they usually empty out, turn round and head back my way.

I can only assume that someone up there went "oooh, we've got a set!" and decided to take a group photo.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

We've Got the Power

One aside which I didn't mention last week (my memory isn't what it was - or at least I think it isn't) was some interesting feedback Daniel and I received on Vitriol and Old Lace.

The URL apparently had been forwarded on to a playwright / writery sort of person who has had productions staged and so on but lapsed. Apparently having a read of our work had inspired him to start writing again he liked it so much.

This is a piece of news there for which I must say I feel a certain amount of pride. Yay us!

By the Light of the Night, It'll All Be Alright

On Sunday night I had the dual pleasures of both being at Brixton Academy for a Scissor Sisters gig and of fulfilling a long-held ambition to dress up for Halloween as a satanic mechanic.

The basics of the costume were as follows: a boiler suit (open to the waist, natch), a tail pinned to the rear (worryingly the packaging stated it was an "Adult Carnival Item"), a set of horns rammed tightly on my head and some lippy and nail varnish. Christina kindly did me a "Satanic Mechanic" badge to make me look more kwik-fitty and, all told, I was very pleased with the effect.

Of course, walking through Brixton dressed like this is pretty much a dictionary definition of "suicidal" but hey.

The gig mind you was brilliant. In honour of Halloween the band had dressed up as Rocky Horror characters and opened with the RKO ident leading into "Don't Dream It Be It" before segueing neatly into "Laura". Later on they did "Hot Patootie" as an encore, complete with the murder of Babydaddy's Eddie by Jake's Frank'n'Furter to end.

Frankly it was a riot and I haven't enjoyed myself so much in ages. For one thing it's always good to see a gloriously camp live spectacle like that, and for another it's even better when a band are as good live as in studio (in fact, arguably better). The only thing that could outdo it, no doubt, will be Kylie's Show Girl tour, but I'll have to wait a while for that.

Amusingly afterwards I ended up being nearly kidnapped by two different women and one bloke (all separately) who thought my outfit suited me rather well.

I think I should wear boiler suits more often.

Not Straight Acting, But...

Every now and then, I find myself thinking or doing something which seriously makes me question my sexuality.

A frequently recurring cause of doubt is the simple fact that I really really hate Ikea. Now normally I say I hate things which actually I just have a mild dislike for - something to do with my dominant drama gene - but this is actually a violently physical reaction to the place. It's a sort of burning hatred, really, which keeps me warm on cold and lonely nights.

Sadly I had to go on Sunday morning to assist my aunt in her quest for folding beds - she wanted a big strong man but in his absence I had to suffice - and it just solidified my feelings towards the place. We arrived just before opening and managed to plough through as quickly as possible but even so it was truly a slice of hell on earth.

Thing is I do quite like the stuff they have - albeit with reservations. The problem with the furniture is that it's great, but I simply can't afford it. And the stuff I can afford I simply have no room to store (I mean, you can buy your own weight in tea-lights for a couple of quid - but even three years down the line I haven't made any inroads into the bag at all).

But despite those reservations, Ikea's made a name for solid, stylish and useful stuff. So no, it's not the products but the whole experience of shopping there which kills me. The fact is that every time I go, it's jam-packed with families of screaming children and hordes of screaming queens. I end up spending the entire trip agonisingly close to ploughing through people shouting "get out of my way, I'm a diabetic" and pushing them in cupboards.

Still, I did manage to obtain myself new crockery and cutlery (the latter of which I almost used on one lady in the queue) which was I suppose a boon of sorts. And I got to cruise a bit which was a novelty too.

Trouble is, as if Ikea itself weren't soul destroying enough, it's made even worse by the major wrench of being a moderately presentable gay singleton confronted with extremely attractive gay couples.

Only the knowledge that they'd be at each others' throats by the checkout kept me from ramming them in the ankles with my trolley.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Going Spare

Well last night I went on one of the Southwark Mysteries walks - this time a full moon ghost walk in honour of Halloween. Although it's not local to me any more I do find these things interesting. History, architecture and a good legend or two whilst pacing little known streets and meeting new people is an uncommon pleasure I feel.

Naturally the Crossbones Graveyard put in an appearance. It's a slab of ugly looking concrete but underneath is an unconsecrated burial ground for paupers and the "Winchester Geese" (prostitutes who were effectively allowed to ply their trade in the London see of the bishop of Winchester as long as the brothels paid him rent). Even though the church benefited from their trade they still got buried on unconsecrated ground, which I think says all it needs to about the finances of organised religion.

The area is supposed to be redeveloped, but amusingly the locals keep remembering it's there and kicking up a stink. Last time was when the Jubilee line bored its way through and bodies were apparently dropping into the tunnels like... um... bodies into tunnels. If it is developed then it quite clearly should be as a local park, something for the people, and in a memory of the geese who perished in the area.

Aside from that, we flounced around the area Rachel Stevens hoofed her way through in the "Some Girls" video and visited the delightfully named "Cottage Chicken" for a bite to eat - as far as I can make out it's a Halal KFC. There are some obscure places round London there really are.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

NaNoWriMo

I have been toying with the idea of taking part in National Novel Writing Month but today I have decided that in an unofficial capacity I may actually give it a bash.

Unofficial because I feel less than inclined to sign up to the official website just so I can get a lousy button for my own netspaces. Instead I shall just hack away in the privacy of my own little world and aim for the 50,000 word target.

There is, of course, next to no chance that I will actually succeed in this aim but since I now have the basics worked out for my glittering debut novel I think NaNoWriMo is as good an excuse as any to start on it.

And you never know... it might actually turn out to be okay.

WTFF?

"What sort of person" my sleep-addled brain asked itself as it struggled groggily into wakefulness this morning "uses a drill at half past naffing five?"

The answer, of course, came to me as I downed my vitamin C drink whilst blearily staring at my email. "Cunts," I said. "That's the type of person. Cunts."

Or, if you prefer "inconsiderate fuckwits" but in any case, I am ill-disposed towards people brandishing items of electrical hardware this morning.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Little Britain...

...or (as BBC Three have it "New Little Britain" which makes it sounds like a US province) is proving to be diverting. Thankfully this week the laughter track seemed to have been turned down a bit so it was less intrusive.

And it is very good. But I can't help but have reservations about the show as a whole. Watching the entire last series on DVD I did become aware of how very repetitive it was. And I can see the same thing happening with this.

I mean, the only thing that made the WI members different this week from last is that the Walliams character was vomiting over Paul Darrow (in itself, mind you, this amused, but more because of him than them).

If it wasn't for the genius of the narration it really wouldn't matter which episode you watched, frankly. I suppose most comedies tend towards ingrained patterns really but it always seems more noticable when it's essentially catchphrase or character-gimmick based.