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.