Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A Laugh a Minute

Yesterday I had the pleasure of the spending the afternoon and evening with Chris and Ollie, two friends of mine who are always lovely company. After a few drinks, and a spot of food, we headed towards The Comedy Store for their "'King Gong" night.

It's a simple setup - a prescreened group of performers get up and try to stay on stage for five minutes to get into the final. The catch is that three randomly chosen judges have red cards and if all three go up then the performers get gonged off the stage.

Most of the performers made about a minute. Only three people were even remotedly funny and the best man definitely won. Wish I could remember his name, though.

Anyway, point is: if you get the chance... go! It's really an excellent night. I fully intend to catch the Comedy Store Players at some point in the near future.

Boogie Boogie

It has to be said I'm on a bit of a disco kick at the moment.

Not sure why this is to be honest. I mean, I know I've been specially listening to Laura Branigan stuff for reasons as stated yesterday, but I also can't help but flick to Ottowan, Kelly Marie and the Disco Pigeons, and Patsy Gallant as well.

I may be ill.

Hello Sailor!

Well, I went to an interesting party on Saturday - the birthday of an "SM Bondage Top" I know called Dave. Very nice chap, but every time he sees me he seems to have the overwhelming urge to play with my nipples.

Well, I say play with. Obviously I have no problem with this in the normal course of things, but for Dave "play with" seems to roughly equate with "remove" so I generally have to keep my wits about me if I wish everything to remain in place.

Dressing up was compulsory, some of the suggestions being leatherwear, rubberwear, clingfilm and so on. Thankfully there was an option for "sailor uniform" so I borrowed a nice white Naval Dress uniform with gold trim and went in that. Apparently this was acceptable (and I must say I looked rather good in it, despite the gold trim being glittery and therefore making sure I was wearing the gayest outfit there).

And it was all quite entertaining. A major party faux pas had been committed, however, in that the kitchen was declared out of bounds. The door way to it was blocked by a bar, this was staffed by an attractive young gentleman in a posing pouch and a slave collar who took me very seriously when I asked for a pint of wine.

There was also significant amount of punch in a trough in front of him, but I have a very vivid imagination and could guess what said trough may have previously been used for so I declined the offer of a glass graciously.

So, in the absence of kitchen-squatters rights, a few of us spent most of the time forming a Fabulous Contingent in the garden. This did mean that it was only those of us who were fully dressed that could really do this, but I can't say I was too fussed - except in the case of one other attendee, but again since he was wearing very little and it was an enjoyable view he did keep distracting me from the serious business of drinking.

I must admit I was rather nervous about attending just in case it ended up being a bit, you know... heavy. Actually though it was all quite tame and just like an ordinary party. Okay there was one moment when I went to the bar and fell over the barman who had for some reason been hogtied with bondage rope (I can only assume it was a demo because he certainly hadn't been short-measuring people) but other than that nothing untoward happened in my field of vision.

Well, apart from that very fit young man I ended up tag-snogging with another guy.

But that wasn't untoward, that was fun. (Not to mention rather affirming.)

Monday, August 30, 2004

Laura Branigan

News came out this weekend that Laura Branigan, singer of such hits as "Gloria", "Self Control" and "Shattered Glass" died in her sleep of a brain aneurism last week aged only 47.

I have naturally been playing these songs fairly constantly since then by way of a personal tribute.

Rest in peace (or if not in peace, then belting out some great tunes in the afterlife).

Friday, August 27, 2004

Look Emma!

The trouble with being TV-centric (as I am) is that sometimes you can't help yourself talking in quotes. It's not even intentional in my case - I'll say something and suddenly realise it's a quote from something like, say, Blackadder or KYTV. It seems that all my speech patterns have been lifted wholesale from the BBC through some kind of uber-menky linguistic imprinting. Rarely, unlike one or two people I know, do I specifically do something to intentionally reference a show, however.

But it does happen: the other day I purchased on impulse the new Gillette M3 Power razor. It's like their normal Mach 3 razors, only this time it has a battery attached to send vibrations into the skin and stimulate the skin into sticking tha hairs up. It cost, to my surprise, a fair whack (I mean, £10 for a razor handle?) but I have to say I did get an exceptionally good shave from it.

But then I suddenly realised I was sitting in the bath (my habitual shaving point- the steam softens the bristles) with a small electrical device with a vibrating shaft. And I'm sure you can imagine the possible uses my mind detailed for it at this point.

I didn't, in case you were wondering, but I did find myself with the irresistable urge to quote Doctor Who. Specifically I wanted to quote Joanna Lumley as the Doctor in spoof skit "The Curse of Fatal Death". I lay back in my bath, grinning at the image of her eyeing the sonic screwdriver speculatively and crying out "Look Emma! It's got three settings!"

Later, I am sad to say, I did actually utter those exact words.

Thankfully no-one had the faintest bloody clue what I was on about.

Thrill Me Honey Honey Thrill Me

Well, it's a wet and miserable Friday before a long wet bank holiday weekend.

And yet I am chirpy. Whyso?

Well, for many reasons really, but some of the main ones are as follows:

  • Windows XP SP2 has made my dreams come true (well, at least those that don't involve a hot-tub, me, Ben Cohen, Alistair Appleton and an industrial sized vat of KY). The pop-up blocker alone has made a difference to my life which is, in its own way, rather tragic.


  • A device of torture known as the Ab-slider has left me in a state of physical pain this morning BUT at the same time my stomach is flattening out nicely. Hopefully you'll be able to bounce coins off it soon.


  • Kelly Marie's "Feels Like I'm In Love" is making me giddy with excitement. But not in its original form. No? No. I'm referring to the daftly bouncy PWL remix from 1990-odd. The extended mix is e'en now blasting down my ears as I type.


  • I figured out how to use MP3s as ringtones on my new phone last night. Yay me! Okay, so it's currently only the opening bars of Hazell Dean's "Back In My Arms (Once Again)" but it's a start.


  • I have Tuesday off. Okay, I have to wait in for someone to come and deal with my plumbing, but when that's done I have an extra day of rest and relaxation. Yay me!
Oh yes. Life is good.

Bounce Bounce.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

What Lovely -Ize You Have

Much as I love Blogger I must confess that at times I am rather frustrated (nay, sometimes even scared) by the fact that its spellchecker uses American English spellings, rather than those which I regard as being elegant and correct.

But today I was rather disturbed when writing my previous post to find that "facepack" and "skincare" weren't recognised.

However, much as I'd like to draw conclusions from this, I'm afraid I can't.

Why?

Well because "Blogger" isn't recognised either.

Clever...

Okay, after an evening spent steaming, shaving, face-packing and cleansing my pores (not to mention a slight manicure whilst watching Will and Grace) the last thing I wanted to be asked this morning was, "did you want a free skincare voucher?" by the lady on the till at Boots.

I demurred, feeling that actually I was, for a change, looking quite fresh-faced. But more than that I declined because, as I pointed out, the voucher can never been redeemed against anything I actually use.

"Ah," she said, "that's always the way".

Her response merely confirmed what I have long suspected. But I can't bring myself to be annoyed about it since, begrudgingly, I think it's rather clever: give people something for nothing and they still think they've gained even if 90% of them will never ever use it. All very good headology that.

I'm now waiting for them to do a family planning voucher - I'm sure my supply of condoms and lube have perished by now (since I never have need to use them, I never go and check).

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Damn and Blast! (#2)

Yeah, guess what... I forgot myself and, after last night's archery, I promptly went down the pub with my fellows, started drinking, started chatting, and then... um... assumed the position again.

I was in fact the second to do it. My flatmate had previously managed to assume a position not unlike drawing a bow whilst describing items of underwear (a g-string in M&S which apparently was designed for - and picked up by - a lady whose size would apparently rival that of any public convenience). We picked him up on it even though he wasn't talking about archery and so he downed his drink. I, sadly, was actually talking about drawing the bow and so I didn't have any get-out clause.

The thing is that I like the taste of alcoholic drinks, don't mind getting rapidly pissed and, since I usually wake up with no major ill-effects aside from a gentle cotton-woolly feeling in my brain and the occasional throbbing ankle (no I have no idea either), I rarely object to knocking it back. But what I do object to is the fact that when downed in one go - and regardless of what you may think of the stuff anyway - a pint of bitter is really really really disgusting.

Apparently there is a clause in the small print that says I can do a large helping of spirits instead of my pint, but it was too late then. Chris was looking a bit icky immediately after downing his measures, though, so I think it's having to consume so much in just a few seconds that does it.

The only solution is to sit on one of my hands, or put an arm in a sling before-hand.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Expert Timing

I do have what must be described as incredible timing. Sometimes it's dramatic, sometimes its comic, but the writers in charge of my life always know when to position me in some situation or other to ensure the maximum laugh or dramatic high point.

Or, alternatively, they do it just to royally piss me off.

What brings this to mind? Oh... I have, once again, been victimised by the weather. I didn't trust it, though. Oh no. Not after the last time. I'd seen the forecast, accounted for a sizeable margin of error and left with a rather stylish black collapsible brolly, smirking slightly to myself about my own cleverness.

And, as expected, Shortly after leaving the building the heavens opened to give us another performance of a rainfall that was, to be fair, torrential. Complete with crashes of thunder, flashes of lightning and so on - the works really. And, as seems to be a current theme in my life at present, it naturally stopped once a Rob-shaped drowned rat was safely back under cover for the afternoon.

Unfortunately, the brolly only protected the top half of me, so I currently have rather moist legs. Even more upsettingly though I'd managed to pick the most porous of my shoes again this morning, so I'm currently trying to dry out pretty much every thing I wear below my knee.

The thought that possibly I should get some other shoes did cross my mind as I was wandering around. The Moorgate Next store is, however, piss-poor and true to form they didn't have anything in my size (which, for those of your who don't know, is bloody enormous).

I have thus decided to leave work on time for a change today and head towards the Oxford Street branch. They usually have footwear made by out of work shipbuilders so I'm bound to get something vaguely waterproof there.

Monday, August 23, 2004

A Design for Living

Consumer choice is a myth, it really is. To illustrate this all you have to do is pick up your Cable or Satellite control of a weekend and try and keep yourself amused the whole time.

No, you're right. It isn't actually possible.

The problem is that for all this choice, the options are so uninspiring. Sky One - a.k.a. "the Simpsons channel" - has gone beyond a joke really with its determination to show every episode of Matt Groening's magnificent octopus in the space of a fortnight. It's got to a point where my flatmate and I now switch over after reading what's on Bart's chalkboard, we know the episodes so well.

(Mind you, the only other programs that Sky manages to put on are such televisual abortions as Fear Factor and The World's Worst... so I can see why they rely on the yellow skinned ones. In fact I'm half expecting The World's Worst... Television Channel to be one of the episodes, which would be deliciously circular.)

But the thing is, it's become a worrying trend on all these extra channels now. UK Gold a few months back went through a phase where we renamed it the "Are You Being Served? channel" since that was all they showed. A few weekends back it switched to being "the 'Allo! 'Allo! channel" and there's been various back to back blocks where they just shove a four hour tape in the video and press play. I actually ended up catching the same episode of 'Allo 'Allo! no fewer than seven times during the space of two weeks, which just goes to show that joined up thinking is as yet unheard of in this field.

"Gays, Girls and Ghouls" (otherwise known as Living TV) is often entertaining viewing, but are now becoming victims of the success of various programs, most notably Will and Grace. Frustratingly they show old episodes most of the week, with one new episode on a Wednesday. This weekend - lordy - they did one of their catchup weekends where all the new episodes for the last few weeks were shown back to back. This is handy for those of us who have lives during the week but suspend them on Sundays, but there was one problem: they didn't actually have enough episodes to fill out the time. So they padded it out with random repeats as well.

Now, I have a high tolerance for watching one program for hours on end (heck, I'm still watching Sapphire and Steel in six episode blocks) but this isn't normal - in fact it's downright obsessive - and I'm sure that many casual viewers are getting more than a little bit fed up of this.

I mean, with all this choice I seem to be getting bored with television more and watching it less. I actually considered, albeit briefly, watching a DVD of Reign of Fire (it was a gift!) in a desperate attempt to pique my interest.

I didn't as it happens - even compared to the beigeness of satellite TV, Reign of Fire looks absolutely fucking awful.

So I did housework instead.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Water Water Everywhere

It is now twice in twenty-four days that I have left a tube station on my way home to a few spots of rain, only to arrive at my front door soaked to the skin.

Yesterday evening however beat Tuesday night's efforts by a long long way. In fact by the time I had crossed the road outside the station the few spots had in fact become a heavy downpour, and by the next street the only term I can think of which would do justice to the deluge is "monsoon".

I'm not kidding, it was like walking through a swimming pool at one point. Sheets of grey, yet warm, rain. At one point I couldn't see in front of me - especially when the wind drove it into my eyes so hard, my contact lenses slipped down underneath my eyelids.

Needless to say the thunder and lightning were quite exciting too.

Naturally by the time I was in the house and out of my wet things, the clouds cleared from the sky and there was sunshine. I'd never before considered the possibility that I could feel victimised by the weather

Thing is, I actually rather enjoyed it. But hey - I guess I'm just perverse.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Damn and Blast!

Well, the archery is coming back together again after last week's debacle. Yesterday I actually hit the target again with a reasonable amount of proper technique but I made one absolutely fatal error:

I "assumed the position" in the pub afterwards. As a result of which I had to down my pint immediately and get another round in. (It's amazing how unpleasant a pint can be when downed so quickly.)

And, as if that wasn't enough, for some reason the bastards decided to close Archway station. I ended up walking down from Highgate, pissed as a fart, getting absolutely soaked through due to the sudden, malicious and insistent downpour that chose my exit from the station as its cue to start.

I am now desperately trying to get my blood sugar levels up and look reasonably perky in time for the clients who are arriving shortly to be trained.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Doomed from the start

Yesterday, whilst idly filling time waiting for a friend to come and consume our cheese during a marathon DVD session, I got the following message on a well known and somewhat cruisy internet dating site:

Hllo, Your vry cut.
Now, whilst I could have happily assured him that I am not in any way cut (and now I'm careful to avoid unexpected zippage, quite happy with that) I decided that this opening gambit really wasn't worth responding to.

Aside from the spelling and grammar (although in themselves they are reason enough) he clearly meant "cute" not "cut" and I hate the term with a fiery passion that can, at times, keep me warm on even the loneliest of nights.

To be fair I've never really been cute. Even when I was of an age where "cute" could have applied I was a porky fecker with big hair and glasses you could set fire to entire cities with. The term applies even less now that I'm approaching thirty, built like a badly designed wardrobe and struggling to stop my hair escaping down my back. Frankly this is apparent to anyone who has either read my profile, or simply has the capacity for intelligent thought.

Verdict: Fuckwit.

Message: Deleted.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Devices of Pain and Suffering

So, as is my wont, I hit the gym on Sunday. Lunchtime I've found is a good time to go because most people are sorting out roast dinners and so on, which leaves me free to look like a pratt without too many onlookers.

I have, however, come to the conclusion that it's a very thin line between fitness equipment and instruments of torture and that Archway gym has found a bottle of tip-ex. Some equipment's quite okay (the prone leg-curl I enjoy because of its porn potential alone) but some are just evil contraptions that should have been outlawed many years ago.

I'm thinking specifically the assisted chin up machine. I hate it. It's the only one I have been unable to make any major progress since starting on it: I'm still struggling to do two sets at the second lowest difficulty. It's been pointed out that as a big chap I've got more to lift and so I shouldn't feel too bad about this, but I do.

And yesterday I made a fatal error. I went back and did an extra set at the end of my session just to prove I could. As a result I am currently in a certain amount of agony. The certain amount being "fairly significant".

I also upped the weights on the leg curl and leg press, so not only am I extremely stiff, but my bum hurts too.

And neither of these are in the good way.

Neutral Weekends

Every now and then it's nice, isn't it, to have no demands made of you whatsoever?

This weekend I spent in reasonable isolation. Apart from trips to the gym, the supermarket (okay, co-op) and Unwins I went nowhere and did nothing except clean the house, a spot of writing and watch DVDs.

Normally this would induce a state of near cabin-fever in me but somehow I was rather grateful of the downtime. It comes as a shock, though, to discover that I've watched 24 episodes of Sapphire and Steel in the space of three days (I came home on Friday to find the complete box set shipped in from Oz much earlier than I'd expected). Then Coupling series 4 arrived on Saturday morning and my fate was sealed. The sofa became my home.

The closest I came to danger and excitement was cleaning under the fridge. This was a task I had been putting off for almost 18 months now, so I considered that I had successfully procrastinated and could now go ahead with it. Surprisingly it didn't look too bad, until I realised that actually everything I could see was solidly attached to the floor and needed to be attacked with chemicals. Unfortunately said chemicals then resulted in a sort of black slime oozing its way across the floor in an attempt to escape and set up home elsewhere. I was so unhinged by this that Red Dwarf VIII actually amused me when I happened across it late last night.

No it did. I chuckled. Twice.

Which sadly is double the enjoyment I got from it first time round.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Sick, Sick Puppy

And another reason to stop my brain and reformat it:

This morning the announcer at Moorgate station informed us that there were delays on the Central line due to a passenger under a train.

At which my first thought was: "well whose stupid idea was it to try and install one there?"

Sometimes I'm quite shocked by the crass insensitivity of my thought processes.

Frootery...

... is the word for the day on my "Forgotten English" calendar - which appropriately enough is an olde term for superstitious observances.

I'm not normally given to such things myself - us Taureans are never taken in by such tripe - but there is a strange coincidence in that today, Friday the 13th August 2004, marks my third year in my job.

Perhaps there is something in all this after all.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

A Letter from the Beeb Beeb Ceeb

Well, when I staggered home from a red-wine and writing session round Daniel's last night I found a letter from the BBC waiting for me.

For anyone who doesn't know, we submitted a rather bizarre sitcom idea to them as part of this year's BBC Talent competition. We found out a couple of weeks ago from their website that it hadn't made it to the final eight, so a letter from them was most unexpected. I assumed it would just be confirming the lack of us on the shortlist, although they did state that they wouldn't be sending out letters of that kind.

However, what it actually said was:

I am sorry that you did not make it into the final shortlist, but I wanted you to know we were extremely impressed with your submission and you made it through the initial selection process, achieved by only 10% of the entries. Please be encouraged by this and continue to develop your writing.
Okay, a bit form lettery and I'm sure the others of the 10% got one as well, but even so, how encouraging is that?

Onwards and upwards I say! Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of scriptwriting!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Damn Girls Aloud!

Damn them! Damn them I say!

I so want to hate them, dismiss them as a bunch of talentless, shouty whores (especially that one who looks like a Grey) and yet once again they've come up trumps with another single, Love Machine, which pisses all over everything on their utterly generic first album.

Aaaarrggghhh!

Thought for the Day

The following thought appeared in my email inbox this morning:

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, cigarette in one hand, favourite beverage in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming... "Wooohooo! What a Ride!"
Not a bad philosophy it must be said.

My only concern is that at the moment I am trying to knock myself into being an attractive and well-preserved body purely so I can get a ride.

The two philosophies don't mesh, I'm certain of it.

And suddenly it all gets harder...

I knew it was too good to be true. All those weeks of hitting the target regularly, thinking I was getting a handle on it and so on are now a thing of the past.

The thing about archery, we've found, is that it's quite a bit more than point and let go. Elbow position in the bow arm is important (if you don't want an enormous bruise), making sure your bring the string all the way back to your face is needed to maximise the draw potential, and maintaining even balance across your feet, using constant reference points helpful and not crunching your shoulders up are all vital if you want to get it right. I'd slowly mastered these over the first couple of weeks and I'd kind of got to feeling this was all okay and I could do it.

Yesterday, and I will forgive you a snigger about this because I found it absolutely hilarious, we were told to "relax and follow through". It's not a bowel thing, though: it all hinges on the idea that you never actually do an intentional release of the string at full draw, you just gently relax your fingers and let the tension in the string do the rest.

Sounds easy, n'est pas? But trust me: it ain't.

On top of this we also got given finger slings so we don't grip the bow, but merely push it away. The sling stops it falling out of our hand when you let go, but even using one of those is a lesson in itself.

So now we've suddenly realised that there's twenty different things you have to do to get this damn thing to work properly, but - regrettably - now we're thinking about them the overall balancing act is so great that aim has completely gone out of the window.

So all in all it was one of the most demoralising lessons I've ever had, perked up only by the fact that having loosed one shaft at the ground just behind the target, I managed to fire the next one straight after it - in exactly the same spot. The first arrow suddenly tiddley-winked its way across behind the other five butts in our range and elicited a big cheer from the professionals in the group.

When I finally found it again, the shaft was bent in two. The second arrow had mysteriously vanished without trace, my thinking being that the forces concerned had knocked it into a subspace pocket dimension. (Actually it had found a particularly soft piece of earth to bury itself in, but now I can see why metal detectors are considered so useful.)

So yeah, apparently there are four phases to learning archery:

  1. Unconscious Incompetence - where you haven't got the faintest bloody clue and if you get it right then you're just lucky
  2. Conscious Incompetence - where you know what you should be doing, but can't get it right
  3. Conscious Competence - where it works if you think about it hard enough
  4. Unconscious Competence - where you just do it.
Currently I'm thinking stage three may be a long way off...

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Dream a Little Dream

Well, the health kick started in earnest again yesterday. I had to physically drag myself away from the bowl of rock pieces that are in our office kitchen to avoid eating them (the candy kind in case you wondered) and substituted vast quantities of salad in place of half my dinner yesterday.

Admittedly I then proved I have the breaking strain of a kitkat when my flatmate suggested Banoffee Ice Cream, but I was still ahead of the game - especially after a heavy session at the gym.

For some reason though I decided that part of this kick was going to be an alcohol reduction and after last night's total abstinence I'm somewhat regretting this. I keep forgetting how much of a sedative effect alcohol has so not only was I still quite wired late last night but my brain carried on thinking long after I'd finally got to sleep.

Yup, I had dreams again. Damnnit.

This time I dreamed that I'd just realised I'd missed a big deadline on 30th June for a dissertation. I'd not quite finished it a long time ago and then got sidetracked and forgotten about it until now. I then basically worked flat out to get it finished and begging them to make an extension for me.

The weird thing was that it was a history paper. And for those of you who don't know me, history is a subject which, whilst I find it absolutely fascinating, I have no ability to retain facts about. At all. Even about stuff I really like. So that was just mad.

Anyway, I woke up in a cold sweat determined to take the day off work so I could finish this damn thing, before suddenly realising that actually I was no longer at college and it was all a dream.

A quick look at a dream dictionary told me the following:

"Dreaming that you are in college indicates that you are going through some social or cultural changes. You may be wanting to expand your knowledge and awareness. It also suggest that now is a good time for you to experiment and try new things."
The nearest I could find to a mention of work at college was an exam entry, but I guess it does fit the bill, suggesting insecurity, fear of not meeting others' expectations, and fear of failure etc. Since I remember actually saying to my tutor "No, I can't fail this" it would kind of tie up. Dreaming of failure itself apparently suggests:

"your fears of inadequacy and low self-esteem foretells that you are not applying yourself to the fullest potential. You are overwhelmed with anxiety and the pressure to excel."
Now possibly not coincidentally, the other day whilst wandering through Brighton it suddenly occurred to me that one of my few real regrets is not actually doing the English PhD that my college wanted me to do. There are various reasons why I didn't but looking back I kind of miss the challenge of research and accumulating knowledge and wish I'd stuck with it.

The thing is that all of this stuff is stuff that I know, so if my unconscious mind is trying to tell me something it seems, at best, to be suffering a satellite delay. So what, precisely, was the good of disturbing a perfectly good natural night's sleep, huh?

I hate my brain. It's clearly out to get me.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Soundtracks of our Lives

Sonia: you've got to love her haven't you? Hair as red as a London bus, a solid pair of lungs and a Eurovision entry to her name and yet still for the early part of her career she had to put up with songs which, much as I regard them as excellent examples of the form, did make her come across like an emotionally brittle scouse bunny-boiler.

(I mean, the characters in "You'll Never Stop Me Loving You" and "Counting Every Minute" aren't exactly people who can get by without a padded cell, now, are they?)

Today, my MP3 player decided to serve up another slice of hamster-cheeked heaven as I headed off to lunch, and so it was that I suddenly became aware of how socially irresponsible her PWL-era songs are. Seemingly unaware of how bad the advice was, she was actively exhorting her audience to listen to their hearts as part of a decision-making process (before doing it again to take up the slack in the chorus).

Now, in the interests of public service, I really must advise caution: everyone I know who has listened to their heart lately has been given some very poor advice indeed. As far as organs go, even my dick has a better track record at life-guidance so I think it's best if Sonia's opinion on the matter is not heeded this time round.

Please, go and get some vodka and talk to that instead.

Tubby Beside the Seaside

Well, like a poof in the night, Brighton Pride has come and gone and I am now languishing in the sticky haze of London once again.

First things first: our accommodation in Brighton was probably the ghastliest, scabbiest little hellhole I've ever seen in my life. It was an enormous, and motley, collection of not so much hotel rooms but bedsits with shared toilets and showers. There was a lift ("of course" according to their website) but this was little more than a converted dumb-waiter with delusions of grandeur. It was warm and dry, mind, but it did still remind me vaguely of Tenko - I half expected Louise Jameson to fall screaming out of the shower.

I think the thing that sums the rooms up more than anything is that the TVs were padlocked to the work surfaces. Someone had clearly taken offence at this in my room because the lock was broken off and left dangling. Amusingly, though, they still left the TV so I can only assume the perpetrator was exercising a point of principle rather than attempting burglary.

Still despite the horrors of the Abbey Hotel, Brighton (we decdied the "S" and the "H" had fallen off the sign) the weekend provided many wonders, some of which were as follows:

  • Vanilla Vodka Milkshakes in Revenge. (No really - two of my favourite drinks in one glass!)
  • Discovering that there was a dance mix of Je Ne Sais Pas Pourqoi (in fact it turns out there are two since I now have both).
  • Finding a t-shirt with the Commodore logo on it for a tenner. (I'm not kidding, I squealed and creamed myself. I'm wearing it now - the t-shirt, not the cream.)
  • A lovely second hand bookstore with a Doctor Who novelisation section - "The Tenth Planet" was perfect beach reading, and "Frontios" was devoured yesterday morning.
  • Finding a Mills and Boon book written by someone called "Betty Neels". "I bet he does," I opined aloud.
  • Lying roasting on a beach with camp tunes bursting from an MP3 player linked to a pair of inflatable speakers.
  • Sitting drinking on the beach following a fish and chip supper, watching the world go by with friends.
  • Rediscovering my love of clubbing (I need somewhere like Revenge here in London).
  • Costa's Chocolate Twists.
  • The Guitars, Amplifiers and Keyboards centre. (Just think about the abbreviation they used...)
  • The young (and even some of the not so young) men wandering around in very little at all.
Lowlights were:

  • The young (and even some of the not so young) men wandering around in very little at all. Simply because it threw into sharp relief how imperfect my own physique is - the gym isn't going to know what hit it this week.
  • The hotel, for reasons already explained.
  • The air conditioning in Revenge waving the white flag and giving up. (You know you're in trouble when the staff start complaining - I don't think I've ever been so moist in my life.)
  • The scouse stag party, who took up several rooms on our floor, coming back at 2:00 Saturday morning and then running, jumping, shouting and screaming for the next three hours.
  • Trying to get decisions on activities from a group of gay men. (Two gay men is the absolute maximum you can have for any form of decisionmaking. After this you have reached critical mass and will not leave your current location for half an hour while you try in vain to achieve some overall plan.)
All told I had a great time, drank surprisingly little, did nothing even remotely illegal and have come back on the whole looking rather tanned. (Okay, some bits are burning red, but they'll calm down before too long.)

It's a shame to be back really - I have decided I must move to Brighton as soon as possible.

Friday, August 06, 2004

A small still voice

Why it didn't occur to me at the time, I can't say. It's not hard to work out that if alcohol and anti-histamines shouldn't be mixed if you don't want to get high as a kite, and if alcohol and no-food are an equally bad mix, then a combination of all three is just asking for trouble.

I should explain that usually my day to day life is dominated by a running commentary from a voice at the back of my head. It's the voice that went "but you don't have slippers" yesterday, the one that says "put it down" whenever I'm beguiled by anything in M&S that isn't underwear, and is often to be found going "stop it. Stop it at once" at various points during the day. It's the parent to my inner child and I'm very grateful it's there - otherwise I'd be acting like a twat 24/7.

Last night, however, the combination of drugs and no-food rather drowned it out in a way I'm not entirely used to. For my inner child this was like being given a starring role in Fun House (you know, that one with the three blond bints, only one of which was Pat Sharpe) and it did kind of enjoy itself.

Trouble is that I am cursed with the "benefit" of total recall. I always remember everything from a night out, especially when I shouldn't. It really is a bind. Now in my delicate state I'm picking up on things I said and did and thinking "bugger" a lot. Overnight I've discovered that my inner voice now regards my inner child as an inner teenager, and is really relishing rubbing it in.

On the other hand, it's being vaguely understanding. I mean, I was at the Fitzroy Tavern. There were lots of Doctor Who fans there. You need a drink. But it is quite firmly stating that next time I will not be taking any medication.

Mind you, the way I was streaming, sneezing and watering just now, I thank God these little blue and white pills exist. It's really not a good look.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Stoney Silence

I am, despite all my best attempts to not let on, a dizzy cow at heart. As evidence I offer the following panic attack I had whilst walking down my street earlier: I momentarily stopped, frozen in the grip of some strange terror: "Oh my God, am I wearing my slippers?" So I stopped to check, saw that I wasn't and moved on.

I am now worried because it's an odd sort of thing to panic about when you don't even have any slippers.

But then I seem to be oddly befuddled today. I can only put this down to a copious amount of white wine consumed yesterday whilst watching the excellent BBC 1972 Christmas ghost story: The Stone Tape. It really is highly recommended and, like our reaction to Ghostwatch a few weeks ago, early laughter and comments of "oh dear" rapidly gave way to fascinated involvement at something which really is a very clever, well thought out and engaging drama.

Some utterly lousy effects, mind, but what do you expect from that era?

The only major distraction was that every time Jane Asher was off-screen we kept expecting her to come back with a tray of cakes.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Into the Confessional

I should probably own up at this point to the fact that I do love thunderstorms.

I just find them incredibly sexy. There's something really electrifying about them (literally, of course). Every time they happen I have this overwhelming urge to strip to the waist and, preferably, make out with someone against a tree while the warm rain runs over my body.

Okay, so chance would be a fine thing, but the urge to get shirtless and just enjoy the wetness is overpowering even so.

I didn't do it during the storm yesterday, mind. I think the good people of London were suffering enough what with the rivers falling from the sky and the associated collapse of normal services.

The chaos was kind of fun actually. It highlighted beautifully that not only do we accept mediocrity, we also expect it. Which of course means that whenever something different happens we just can't deal. Our cosy - if beige - existences and our infrastructure sort of collapse together, which is always fun to watch if you have a voyeuristic impulse like what I do.

Of course, now things are back to normal we'll go back to expecting mediocrity again. Which means no provision will be made to alleviate the problems next time.

Anyone else think there's something incredibly naive about this approach?

Drip Drip Drip

Well, you wouldn't think so to look outside now, but last night London got hit by a brief but quite vigorous storm - which wasn't really good timing because it meant Archery was a bit of a wash-out all things considered.

Arriving at Queensway from pretty much the last central line service to be running at less than 12-minute intervals I found that the area had already been hit, vast quantities of water rushing down the roads, out of the gates of Hyde park and, in one case, from halfway up a fence. However the rains had abated and, after navigating a small lake that had appeared in the drive leading to Kensington Palace Gardens, I found a small group of happy optimists had indeed turned up.

We set up the butts, got the equipment out and then ran for cover as the heavens opened again, sheltering in the changing rooms of the pavilion. There we had a brief discussion about what we would have learned this week and then decided to decamp to the pub a little earlier than normal.

Archery, I've discovered, is merely an excuse for a couple of hours of shooting things followed by several hours of drinking things. I've never felt the need for an excuse to drink - simply being me is excuse enough - but there's something very nice about having a social hobby such as this.

Sadly the overtly butch nature of the sport means I do feel the need to drink ale instead of wine or whisky which can only add to my girth. They do come with such bizarre names, too: "Fursty Ferret" and "Badger Ale" are just two of the beers on offer, and as for the shooters, well... anyone who's been to Ku Bar knows what a Blowjob is, but I was surprised to find myself asking for one in a straight venue.

The simple jollity you can extract from these names drinks never pales either. "Mine's a ferret!" I called across the road to the gentleman who'd reached the pub first. "Yes," was the response, "I'd heard that." There was a short pause during which eyebrows were drawn at twenty paces, before he announced with relish and a twinkle in his eye, that his was, in fact, a badger.

Talk about building your part up.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Getting Slowly Mashed

The cult of the MP3 mash-up continues. Seems you can't move for them these days.

I sometimes feel a bit sniffy about the things, I must admit. Somehow I wonder if all this rehashing old tracks is really a good thing - there's a definite argument that it's plundering other people's creativity rather then doing something original of your own.

But then I keep finding such gems as "Jesus is my Personal Trainer" and I come over all... well, actually I just come. I can't help myself: even at worst they're far more enjoyable than your bog-standard Almighty / Shanghai Surprise mixes, which - let's be honest - have got real old, real quick, so let's keep 'em coming.

I'm currently enjoying the mash-up of Kylie's "Slow" with the Human League's "Don't You Want Me" which you can get here. It's a strange one, I'll grant you, but I really like it.

Strange, though, that "Slow" does seem particularly amenable to mashing - I guess because it's so lacking in a melodic vocal. Aside from the DYWM version, there's also a damn good mash-up of it with Mantronix's "Got To Have Your Love" too which arguably works even better and I have heard dark rumours of other such creations floating their way around the internet.

Before any fellow pooves decry my heresy above, I should probably point out that I quite like "Slow"; I think the sound of an Atari computer in overdrive's quite groovy. (I just wish the rest of "Body Language" came even fractionally close to it.)

Tiny Toons We Love

We, that is the motley collection of mood swings and personalities that constitute "Rob", officially love weebls-stuff.com. It's slick, silly and sometimes utterly depraved - which frankly is fine by us.

Newcomers to this phenomenon could do worse than to try the following animations for starters: Aubrey the Arse Hamster which has the best delivery of a final line ever, I'm Spartacus (especially enjoyable if you've come from the maelstrom of insanity that is Glitter for Brains), and the by now legendary Badger, Mushroom, Snake which surely needs no introduction.

It has been commented that I have a very lowbrow sense of humour sometimes.

I can't deny it. The Lord 2 had me falling off my chair with laughter.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Once More Unto the Beach Dear Friends

The plan for this coming weekend is simple: to get gently wasted in Brighton. Not much of a plan you might say but after last year's debacle it has actually required a plan of attack to be constructed to ensure my physical and mental wellbeing are left as close to normal as possible.

Whyso? You may well ask.

Brighton Pride is the complete antithesis of the London celebration. It's free, there aren't any rubbish bands trying shamelessly to curry favour with a bunch of pooves who'll cheer at anything with glitter and a dance routine, and you're allowed to take a picnic in with you. So I have no complaints about the actual gathering in Preston Park at all; it's fab and even the most jaded homosexual (i.e. me) can enjoy it wholeheartedly.

But last year a group of us made the mistake of going there and back in one day. This was A Very Bad Idea™.

The journey down was not without event, seeing as how the train was packed to the point of there being standing room only. We ended up forcing open the door to the first class compartment so that more of us could sit down and not be on quite such intimately odiferous terms with our fellow man. This, however, was nothing compared to the journey back - a saga which perfectly illustrates my theory that if something is going to go wrong it will go wrong at every step of the way.

To be honest we got to Brighton station already slightly the worse for wear. In my parched and dehydrated state I had insisted on large bottles of water being purchased en-route, which delayed us a bit but proved quite a good move a little later on.

To our horror, the indicators at the station gleefully announced that the last direct train to London was cancelled. Thankfully the one due to be before it had just arrived and we jumped on it immediately and got seats. Within ten minutes, though, there was a flood of people, the train was filled, and the temperature escalated rapidly.

The journey itself was going to be slow: each station suffered a delay as more people got on and everyone tried to get sorted. On top of this the actual train was so crowded it physically couldn't move at top speed. After an hour of this we ended up being sent up a line which was supposed to be closed, so we stuck outside a station for an hour until we were cleared to go back. Then, just as we started to move, the power went off because another train had hit something thrown from ours and the entire line's power had tripped.

At this point people started getting out of our train and walking up the track to the station to order taxis. Unfortunately this delayed us further because they obviously couldn't switch the power back on while people were on the track. The driver told people not to do this but his advice was vigorously ignored for a long time. Then there was a battle to get all the doors closed again - people were naturally reluctant to close them because it was so hot, but we couldn't move with them open because it was unsafe.

Finally, after two hours of no movement, we set off again and eventually made it to Croydon where the train company provided bottles of water to the passengers. Just before the train was due to leave for its final leg, however, the driver came on the intercom and begged for assistance; some old dear had decided to go and assault him, meaning that our train finally got cancelled while the police came to drag her off.

Another late train thankfully pulled in at that point, so we all piled onto that one. Finally we made it to Victoria at gone 4, having left at 11.

The thing that got me was that most of the delays (bar the being sent up the wrong line in the first place) were a direct result of the staggering stupidity of my fellow passengers. Throwing things from the train, refusing to listen to the driver and then going and attacking him displayed such a staggering level of fuckwittage I think a heavy meteor strike on this planet would be very good for the universe as a whole.

So this year the plan is to have a leisurely journey down on Friday, stay in a hotel and head back on Sunday.

Much better.

Criminey

No posts for a week? Have I suddenly lost interest in the blogging phenomenon?

Nah. Just been hugely busy. Largely I was training clients last week - a role I love since it inevitably brings with it high levels of performance fatigue, flying by the seat of my pants as I field new and interesting questions and at the same time having to cover my normal support role as well.

Ugh. Hateful.

Then there was the archery (steadily improving), two leaving do's (one work colleague, one friend), computer troubles (mine and other people's), CD creation and cover design for a friend's birthday, attendance at a marvellous party for said friend, and then getting slowly mashed on Pimms, Bucks Fizz and white wine in my aunt's back garden whilst sunbathing shamelessly.

Yes, it's all been go.

No wonder I'm sodding tired.