Friday, December 30, 2005

Top Five Albums of the Year

Well, everyone else is, so why shouldn't I?

1) Goldfrapp - Supernature

Much as I loved the dirty rough electronica found en-mass in Black Cherry, I felt it was a little inconsistent and had few great songs on it. "Supernature" however completely blew me away on first listen and still continues to do so.

It's smoother, more seductive, more hypnotic, and more jam-packed full of great songs than it's predecessor. And the nods towards glam-rock give the album a style all of its own. Absolute genius.

2) Rachel Stevens - Come and Get It.

No-one did of course, making this also a contender for the most criminal waste of 2005, but I came back to it after a few weeks of ignoring it yesterday and it's still absolutely fucking brilliant. Wantonly overproduced of course but that's what makes it so special.

"I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)" is quite clearly the most brilliant single of 2005 and that is without exception, but there's just an embarrassment of riches on this album. There are two tracks I don't listen to very much, but out of 13 that's actually a higher hit-rate than any album I can think of.

3) Girls Aloud - Chemistry.

Until this release I always considered GA to be a singles band, never thinking much of their album tracks. But here we have a consistently top-notch album full of sauce, energy, vim and vigour, great tunes and inventively oddball arrangements. The Intro, Models, Biology, Long Hot Summer, Swinging London Town, Wild Horses and (of course) Racy Lacey are just utterly fabulous.

I'll admit that nothing quite reaches the pure pop confection heights of The Show or Love Machine, but it's a close run thing and the supporting tracks for once hold their own against the obvious singles, and the whole album also manages to be interesting.

4) Stock Aitken Waterman - Gold

Okay, a compilation. And none of it original. But a must-have release for pop-lovers all the same. Track after track of solid pop songs which have stood the test of time surprisingly well, plus some rareties and an unreleased version to boot.

5) Ladytron - Witching Hour

Quite a difficult listen in parts, but perseverance pays off. A much more muscular set of tracks than previous efforts, but all the better for it. And "Destroy Everything You Touch" is my without a doubt my second favourite single of the year.

Other standout tracks - purely because I think they're more traditionally crafted songs I suspect - are "International Dateline", "Sugar", "Last One Standing" and "AMTV". And as far as I'm concerned any collection with tracks like that in it could frankly do no wrong.

Special Mention:

To a band that didn't quite make it: Garbage's Bleed Like Me is an album and a half too and narrowly missed being caught up in the net. It could easily be six, but if I added that I'd have to go ten and my brain's already hurting.

But where would Madonna come, I hear you ask? Well... I'm not sure exactly. But given how bloody unimpressed I am by "Confessions on a Dancefloor" I doubt whether she'd get a terribly high ranking. Maybe lower top twenty (although to be honest I'm not sure if I bought that many albums).


Just out of curiosity last night I opened up Excel and tried to figure out just how many kilos of fat I've lost over the last ten weeks. I know I've lost six kilos in weight, but of course I've put on muscle in its stead.


Week 1: The Lardy Bastard.

105.8 Kilos, 28% Body Fat = (105.8/100)*28 = 29.62 Kilos of Body Fat.

Week 10(ish) : The Less Lardy Bastard.

98.7 Kilos, 20% Body Fat = (98.7/100)*20 = 19.74 Kilos of Body Fat.
Which means that I've lost almost 10 kilos of pure fat, whilst only having lost 7.10 Kilos in total.

Which can only mean the difference of 2.78 Kilos is muscle.

I hope.

But if it is - woohoo!

Early Shift

Ye Gods. I'm at work early.

Due to the fact that some idiot specified it in one client's contract, our function has to cover the hours of 8 till 6 in case a client experiences issues with the system.

I'm normally in by 8:30 and leave at 6 so I can have an extended lunch break for the purposes of going to the gym, popping into Oxford Street to try shoes on and have salad, and so on. Someone else normally takes the 8:00 stint.

But today they are all on holiday and I'm the only one who lives in London and stands a chance of getting here on time so here I am.

And boy it's dull.

However it did afford me the opportunity of a walk through snowfall on my way to the bus which was kind of magical.

That said, it's nice to be back in the heat again.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


I could, if I were in that kind of mood, start to worry about the fact that at least three of my friends are intending to leave the country in the next few years.

That, however, is the least of my concerns. My concern is that they're all going "oh you must come over and see me" - a phrase which just strikes a mixture of terror and weariness into the heart of my very being due to the simple fact that I will do absolutely anything in my power to avoid travel at any costs.

Seriously. I find it hateful. Even the trip to work of a morning is something I'm hostile to - in fact it's a wonder they don't find a host of dead bodies at the depot when they turn it round.

And as for flying, well... Whilst my general fear of it has more or less gone (the thought that I could die horribly and not be able to do anything about it has become strangely liberating of late), I now just loathe the whole experience right from the minute I leave the house to get to the airport, through check in ("no we don't have any legroom, Sir"), the flight itself ("yes, we really meant no legroom, but here: watch some crap"), Passport Control ("well, you're British, you're supposed to like queuing") and then being overcharged for a taxi at the other end.

And while we're on the subject, America, it's all very well being security conscious because a lot of people do seem to hate you. But if you're going to put in place procedures that make the process take longer, employ more staff to do it! Nothing is more annoying about Passport Control and Security Checks than long queues and seven desks / scanners devoid of staff.

So with all this in mind you can imagine that these people who vanish off for a quick weekend in Barcelona I really don't understand at all.

Don't get me wrong, I could happily spend ages in a foreign country. I loved Gran Canaria, Boston seemed lovely enough, and there are many places I'd like to spend time in. But I also know that invariably any good I get from a break of such length will be completely undone by the stress and tension I would endure from the return journey.

It's terrible really, I'm rubbish at keeping in touch as it is - there are friends in other counties I haven't seen for a couple of years, never mind countries. I just know that adding the prospect of international travel to the mix is going to lead me to seeing these people about twice a decade at most.

Yes, I'm lazy. Yes, I'm indolent, far too easily stressed and generally a stay-at-home sort. All these charges are justified and accurate. But I have a sneaking suspicion that after 28 years of it, it's somewhat late to change this attitude now - even if I could imagine what could possibly trigger that change.

The invention of the teleport might help I guess.

Assuming the terminal is conveniently located.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Nothing Good About This Goodbye

Reports are in circulation stating that Rachel Stevens has been dropped by Polydor who are less than impressed by her last run of single and album sales.

All of which means we won't get to see the dream package of "Nothing Good About This Goodbye" backed with "Crazy Boys" (definitely a fantasy pairing of mine - like Ryan Reynolds and Alastair Appleton).

Frankly it's hardly the surprise of the century. Despite putting out one of the best albums of the year (sorry Madge but it pisses over your dismal effort) record-buyers just won't buy her material.

Proof if any were needed that a career cannot survive on lad's mags alone.

Her management company, 19, however, are reportedly saying they'll still record and release material with her only under their own 19 label, which should be a good thing, but of course I can't help but listen to that small voice in the back of my head that goes "yes - and that worked so well for Emma Bunton".

Normal Service Has Been Resumed

Oh that's better.

Amazing what four days off will do for the soul isn't it? Headed over to my Aunt's on Christmas Eve then subsequently spent the next two days, sleeping in late, damaging my liver and trying to avoid being killed with food. (That said there's something terribly civilised about a Christmas Breakfast of smoked salmon, scrambled egg and Bucks Fizz so no complaints here.)

Christmas Day highlight was of course "The Christmas Invasion", David Tennant's debut as Doctor Who and frankly it's amazing how much confidence the series is gaining as it progresses. I felt the latter few episodes of the "first" series were stunning, but this came dangerously close to wiping the floor with them.

Slight quibble with the way the Doctor decided to turn on Harriet Jones (coz frankly I felt she was practically right if not morally) because it seemed an angry and truculent reaction, but hey. I wonder what it does to canon considering it's already been stated that she presided for three consecutive terms. That'll be an interesting one.

Windypops! was a great success on Monday. Jam-packed and I didn't feel too stupid with the dodgy school uniform - or at least the closest I could manage since I couldn't find my genuine school tie. It had a slightly fraught start since the person who should have been on first wasn't there in time (I was again the emergency "Break Glass to Open" DJ), and nor was Other Rob since the Oxford Tube decided to get stuck en-route back to London.

Still, all arrived and I got a follow-up set later on to a crowded dancefloor, received positive comment on my choices and had great fun.

Naturally, however, I got utterly hammered during the course of the evening and spent much of yesterday morning trying to get clear-headed enough to do some songwriting with 'Stina in the afternoon. That was an interesting experience to be sure, but we got some good work out of it and now feel much more sure about ourselves and the writing process so that's all good.

Now of course I'm back at work and longing for a couple more days of holiday, but hopefully it shouldn't be too fraught.

Seeing the sadist later to try and burn off some of the overindulgence. That could take some doing, of course, but never mind eh?

Friday, December 23, 2005

Thought for the Day

"Knowledge is Power" the old adage goes.

Bollocks it is.

Knowledge, as I have sadly come to realise, simply means more work.

'Tis a Season of Goodwill...

... unless you happen to be the piggy-eyed despot Bob Crow and fellow members of the RMT, that is.

This time my least favourite union (and that's quite a feat) have decided that they're going to bring the tube to a complete standstill on New Year's Eve.

You see, earlier this year when the bits of string holding together the brakes on the Northern Line started fraying I was fully in support of the walkout. It was fair enough: the safety of drivers and passengers alike was directly threatened and the failure to adequately maintain stock was one of the main reasons the tube should never have been put into the hands of profiteering private companies.

This time, though I can't help but feel, as with most RMT actions, that it's about power, and who wields the most. Penalising Londoners on one of the big nights out of the year, a time supposedly of celebration and joy, is to my mind a determinedly shabby act.

Frankly there are other routes these days to get what you want - employment laws, arbitration and so on - but Crow's cronies won't take them because if every time you just go "fine, we'll strike then" then you win both ways. If they cave in, you've shown your power. If they don't then you affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

And frankly I resent the fact that I am being used by these people in an attempt to force TFLs hand.

Frankly they can just fuck right off. I was planning to avoid NYE this year anyway.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Every Step You Take

When things go wrong, I find, they tend to go wrong along every single step of the way.

Last night my journey home proved to be somewhat tortuous, which only served to annoy me since young Benjamin was due over for our traditional night of Who-ery and I knew Chris wouldn't be in to greet him should I fail to arrive in time.

So, I arrived at Bank to be greeted with a sign saying that the northbound Northern Line was stopped due to a passenger under a train at Moorgate, just one stop up the line.

Naturally my heart swelled with pity and sorrow at the loss of a human life.

Okay, I lie: I rolled my eyes and went "oh fucking hell" and went to see if I could get a 43 bus.

I then stood for twenty minutes while several Number 25 buses to Oxford Street go past (mmmm, bendy) before giving up and deciding to try my luck at Finsbury Square where there were two other bus routes I could take. Handily a number 21 arrived at that point so I elbowed, bit and kicked my way onto that so that it could take me to Moorgate.

Now, Bank is located in what is actually the "City" of London. This used to be known as the square mile, although I suspect that description is slightly inaccurate. It's called the City because it's got St. Paul's Cathedral in it, and a cathedral is what makes the difference between a town and a city. (It's an important distinction in London, because if you go to the West End, you're in the town. Head to Bank, and you're in the city. So there.)

The City of London, of course, is a bit old. It kind of predates traffic planning, and has curvy streets, heavy set and improbably shaped buildings, many many odd angles and - by Bank itself - a junction which is to say the least mystifying to all concerned.

Back in the 1950s it was probably just about usable by the level of traffic they had, but now it's a nightmare for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike. The route from London Bridge to Moorgate you could walk along in half an hour. Choose to drive that same route and you'd best take a packed lunch just in case it turns out there's something wrong.

In retsrospect therefore it was a mistake getting on that bus becuase fire engines and ambulances outside a tube station on a narrow City street clearly consistute "something wrong". We inched slowly forward over the course of the next fifteen minutes before finally everyone got off and walked.

The streets up to Moorgate were gridlocked. As is often the way with humans, when faced with "something wrong" there is a tendency to shut down any higher level mental processing and just take a few chances - all of which makes the problem worse. Traffic could have flowed if people had behaved sensibly, but no... it was absolute Bedlam.

In the end I had get three different buses, it took two hours to get home, and on every single bus my Oyster Card wouldn't swipe which means I'm going to have to get the damn thing replaced.

See what I mean? Every bleeding thing was against me.

Except one: Ben was running late too, which as it turned out was a very good thing indeed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

They're Just Dropping Off Aren't They?

Amazingly, I discovered yesterday that since the last time I was measured I have lost another 2.5 kilos.

Annoyingly it's not showing in my face yet, but everything's definitely slimming down elsewhere which is rather gratifying. Hopefully in another few weeks I'll be well into the "average" category.

Even more amazingly I've actually started looking forward to going to the gym.

The Sadist is still a Sadist, but I'm now getting the feeling that it's all working, I'm definitely definitely getting stronger and I even shocked him by grunting "no, just one more" at one point yesterday.

Apparently I'm even holding myself differently when I stand. This is something I haven't noticed, to be brutally honest, but I guess being more erect isn't something I'm averse to.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Oh! Hello!

It's very odd.

I seem to have discovered a new liking for tattoos.

There were about three men with them at the gym today and I found myself idly considering the prospect of running my tongue round the pattern.

I suspect it helped that the men were hot, fit, muscly guys who I wouldn't have minded falling under anyway, but it's still a new item for the list of "things I never thought I'd like but definitely make me sit up and take notice".

Bars in the eyebrow I find oddly sexy too.

I Love Technology

Our email is down and apparently might not be fixed for 24 hours.

Only incoming stuff, mind. Anything we send out seems to get there, as does internal stuff, but it means none of our clients can contact us.

This is not going to be popular I can tell.

Still, it could be a quiet day as a result I guess.

And then of course tomorrow will be hell on toast. Gah!

Monday, December 19, 2005

'Tis the Season...


Just took a wander up to Leadenhall Market - mainly coz I'd never been - and on my way poked my nose in Waterstones and HMV to see what's what.

It occurs to me that anyone prepared to go into a shop this week had also better be prepared to kill.

Absolute carnage.

Thank God for the Internet.

The Day of Exes

For about a week now I must confess to have been steeling myself for a party at Lee's, the prospect of which was gnawing at me somewhat and filling me with a certain amount of dread.

Don't get me wrong, Lee and I get on fine, so I wasn't worried about him at all, it was everything else. The whole possibility of meeting other people I hadn't seen since "the divorce" and whether that would be awkward, actually meeting my successor and worrying whether there'd be daggers drawn there and so on. Then there were the new close friends who I wouldn't know, but might know something about me and have pre-drawn conclusions and so on.

Frankly I can work myself up into a frenzy over absolutely anything given enough time to do it, so having a few weeks' notice was more than ample warning to develop sheer mind-numbing terror.

Thankfully it was all rather lovely and my fears were totally unfounded. In fact as far as I'm aware the only casualty was my t-shirt which suffered at the hands of a carelessly aimed glass of red wine, but never mind. There were a couple of moments where I found myself thinking "God, I bought that book" or "oh hang on, it's THIS sofa" but they were more nostalgic moments rather than unpleasant.

In fact the worst bit was the fact that almost everyone I didn't know was so damned attractive. Frankly, I hate being surrounded by attractive people, it always makes me desperately self-conscious (in fact it quite ruined a New Year's Party I went to once).

Thankfully due to the fact I was drinking wine by the pint I swiftly found myself not caring.

Being introduced to people as "the fourth Mrs. Binding" was a little surreal though.

By a bizarre coincidence, however, on Sunday morning I logged onto Thingbox to discover another ex had popped out of the woodwork, joined the site and dropped me a line. Less of an ex in this case - we're talking weeks not years - but there was still a certain amount of emotional attachment on my part which certainly came back to bite me later on.

But as it turns out we had quite a lengthy conversation via the medium of Edison's All-Electric Interweb which was all quite jolly and pleasant, not least because the opening message featured the word "stud" as applied to me, which - I'm afraid - put me in a good mood all morning.

It did get me thinking though, that I'm quite fortunate really, to have all this bonhomie between my exes and I. Pretty much every breakup I've had has had a fair bit of lingering fallout (and yes I'm very aware that I'm the common factor here) and each one has ultimately required a fair bit of "distance" to get things sorted, but sorted they seem to have been, which is nice.

Certainly compared to the antagonism which I've seen in my social circle between some ex-partners I'm currently feeling rather smug that I seem have quite good-natured and easy interactions with mine.

I suppose I'm just lucky that they're all rather nice chaps. I seem to have landed on my feet there.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Fruity Loopy Nuts are We

So Fruity Loops version 6 has finally been released.

And as a registered user I got the upgrade absolutely free.

It's lovely. I love it to bits. The interface has been improved no end, there's now the option to record entire mixer channels to hard disk (including volume changes, effects and so on) and thus save the CPU power that the syths take up, and the WASP generator now has WASP XT alongside it which does some of the greatest phat noises I ever did here.

I'm as happy as a pig in shit I really am.

Remixing away like mad right now. Hopefully have a couple of demos ready for 'Stina when she comes over after Christmas. They need to be turned into songs now.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Bless 'Em!

So I arrive home on Thursday to find - to my horror - a card through the door saying the Royal Mail had tried to deliver a parcel but it was too big for the letterbox.

I muttered dark things to myself about losing my lie-in on Saturday, but determined to power-mince down there this morning and pick it up.

So I did.

And what is said parcel?

As it turns out, a "size four" Wensleydale Fruit Cake and 200g of Hand Crafted Real Wensleydale Cheese.

I don't know why I looked at the card - I already knew who it was from.

So here's to Dad, Shelley and Daniel. Clearly they wanted me to have something in time for Christmas since I'm not seeing them until the New Year. And this totally unexpected and yet very sweet parcel is the result.

Bless them. My folks are so random sometimes.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Midnight Folk

I have of late been encouraging my Christmas spirit along by watching the Box of Delights on DVD. It's a sort of annual thing, see and it's one of my favourite memories of childhood which - despite some fairly lousy effects by today's standards - is still exceptionally magical.

And it has Patricia Quinn in it. Playing - as ever - Patricia Quinn, but this time supposedly being Sylvia Daisy Pouncer.

It occurred to me though, that I woudn't mind reading the book so I dived onto Amazon and found myself a copy.

And it was there I learned something that surprised me: Box of Delights is a sequel.

Kay Harker, Abner Brown, Rat and "The Pouncer" all appear in John Masefield's earlier novel called "The Midnight Folk". Which now explains away that bit where Kay sees Pouncer, recognises her as his former governess, and calls her a witch.

And I just thought it was sloppy plotting. I really should have more faith.

Both books are now ordered and on their way.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Spolling for Begooners

I'm being driven to distraction at the moment by the word "Tardis" appearing in print left right and centre.

And when I say "driven to distraction" you have to bear in mind that I'm English so this translates into action as far as rolling my eyes and going "tch", not actually getting homicidal urges.

Thing is, it isn't "Tardis", it's "TARDIS". It's an acronym for "Time and Relative Dimension in Space" and acronyms are capitalised.

So ner.

I'm not yet at the point of writing letters to the editor - just whinging about it here which is admittedly only one step away - but it does make me wonder what brand of English they teach these bloody journalists these days.

Although in the case of the tabloids I'm fairly sure it's a case of "taught? don't need it mate, I speak fluent don't I?"

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

If Santa Needs a Helper Why Should It Be Me?

Despite being nearly garrotted by the decorations in Retro Bar last night (and I had enormous fun thanks for asking, even if I can't remember much about it), I'm starting to feel a little more positive about Christmas now.

As you may have noted from at least one earlier post, Christmas cheer has been in short supply on Planet Rob. Office parties and the whole rigmarole of doing cards, buying presents and so on leave me with a definite feeling of humbuggery which I've found very difficult to shake off.

But now, as the inevitable finally approaches, it seems to be slowly beginning to burn within me.

I think it's got something to do with the fact that all the presents have been purchased, the cards have been sent, all the wrapping is done and - during lunch - I will be sending off the presents for my parents by special delivery so I don't have to cart them down in the New Year.

The work of Christmas seems to be over at last so I finally feel able to enjoy it.

A state of affairs for which I think a resounding "yay" is richly deserved.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Well, as is always the case when you're off ill, I ended up being terribly productive yesterday.

And I got quite a lot of little jobs done too.

For much of the morning I sat in a haze of tea-tree oil and plug in vapourisers feeling rather sorry for myself. As Tom Baker himself has noted, self-pity can be quite a pleasant indulgence from time to time, so I let it have full reign for a few hours before finally deciding to snap out of it and get stuff done.

Shoes got polished, leather jacket was scuff-covered, polished and cleaned, Christmas cards were written, CDs burned and the new Asterix book read.

And on that last point may I just say how far downhill they've gone since Goscinny died? Good, because they bloody well have. I was appalled. Aliens in spaceships? Good lord.

Anyway, I got round to doing much of this whilst watching Gattaca. I'd never seen it before and - despite it not being anything like what I expected - I thought it was rather lovely (in a brutal and bleak futured sort of a way).

Plus of course it features Ethan Hawke occasionally not wearing much clothing, which to my mind is a good enough reason to watch anything. If he put in a nude scene on X-Factor for example I may even be persuaded to watch that.

The only problem with it was that I seemed to develop a weird tick whenever Uma Thurman laid even a hand on him. On each occasion my eyes would narrow and I'd mutter "bitch" under my breath.

Is this something that can be treated on the NHS do you think? Or is it perfectly normal?

Monday, December 12, 2005


I was doing so well.

I'd managed not to get ill at all.

Bit of a sore throat on Friday, but with the drugs I held it off on Saturday.

Sunday was all downhill, and this morning I feel like death warmed up.

Currently surrounded by vapourisers and oil burners with tea-tree oil.

I wonder if it's possible to get high on the fumes?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

And Once Again, the Unexpected

I appear to be DJing (or at least "Glorified CD Changing" if we're honest) twice this week. In the space of one phone call I'd suddenly set myself up for Windypops! tomorrow night and Retro Bar on Tuesday.

And of course Retro's quite a popular central venue on a night where usually there's a lot of people in, so in the cold light of day I'm gently bricking it.

I suspect I should probably avoid the S/A/W Gold material that night.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Muchos Mojito

The phrase "office christmas party" is one which is pretty much guaranteed to cause a chill down my spine and a tight feeling to grip my throat. The idea of spending a few uncomfortable hours with a load of people who are there out of duty and then watching them lose all inhibition and hit the dancfloor somehow has always failed to appeal.

But I did think that maybe I ought to on this occasion. New company and all that.

So what was it like?

Well, I went home at ten, stone cold sober despite twelve mojitos. Dinner consisted of two slices of cold processed turkey, some potatos and rice, the service was so slow the main course didn't arrive until just before ten, and the music got so loud you couldn't hear a word anyone said.

So all in all not terribly impressed by Guanabara.

That said the company of my colleagues was extremely enjoyable (when we could talk) and the Secret Santa present I got was inspired.

Sadly I woke up at four this morning with a raging sore throat and blocked up nose but couldn't really take the day off sick because it would look like I was just hungover.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Swinging London Town

A word is due, I feel, on the subject of Girls Aloud's latest album, the wonderful "Chemistry". An album which pisses over Madonna's latest efforts from a great height and is, for me, one of the top three albums of the year.

It's a great little collection - the first of their albums I feel is consistently good. Stylish, buoyant, quirkily arranged numbers about rampant hedonism on girls nights out (with a couple of soppy little numbers thrown in for balance) it's just absolute genius from start to finish.

What makes it even better for me is that its so unashamedly English. Some of the lyrics explicitly make London the focus of their lives, so I kind of get this exhilarating feeling of that cliched swinging 60s Avengers England, dragged up to date with alcopops, discos, crop-tops and no-shame visits to the STD clinic.

It really is all rather wonderful.

The two-disc special edition is worth getting if you're interested, though. Not for the second disc (which I'm sorry to say is something of a disappointment to me) but for the incredibly camp artwork on the cover and the additional track on the main albumen.

So, once again Xenomania have done us proud. They are the gods of pop and can do no wrong.

I suggest we sacrifice Madge to them forthwith to ensure their continued goodwill.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The After School Detention Disco

After being grounded for Christmas, why not join us on Boxing Day safe in the knowledge that you can get as caned as you like and not have to worry coz Tuesday's a Bank Holiday too!

BOXING DAY – 26th December 2005

Last year’s Windypops Christmas special ("Banned Aid") was such a big success that we’re throwing one hell of a Christmas party once more…

Join strict headmaster Hula Fallulah as he whips up a frenzied set for all you juvenile delinquents. Joining him will be headboys Atomic Slattern and JunkLady .

Punishment: Obviously as a responsible establishment we’re not going to encourage anybody to do lines, but lashings will be given out by the headmaster to anyone he suspects has been misbehaving.

Free entry for anyone wearing uniform (school, or, you know, if you fancy coming as a puppy or something…)

Entry fee will be £2 and we’ll be open from 8pm – Super Late.

Drinks and Sprits will still be £1.50.

For more information, including directions, here is the official Windypops! Website
We take all comers (Gay, Straight, Persuadable) and genders (Male, Female, Persuadable) and frankly I have no idea what I - in my official capacity of Atomic Slattern - am going to wear or play.

It will be a good night, I'll wager. (I've decided.)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Reasons to Hate Christmas

  1. Trying to come up with a list of things you want.
  2. Trying to get your family to come up with a list of things they want.
  3. Trying to come up with ideas for presents
  4. Buying the presents.
  5. Wrapping the presents.
  6. Wrapping the presents. (Yes, I really hate wrapping.)
  7. Trying to personalise Christmas cards with a personal message
  8. The fact it seems to start in October.
Have I missed anything?

God I'll be glad when I get to the 24th and I can just sit back and relax.

God I'm Lazy

I spent yesterday afternoon and this morning idly constructing a sequence in FruityLoops which clearly shows that I'm far too fond of PWL Extended Mixes. It's all bouncy snares, stereo-panning handclaps, bongos and tom-toms, insistent basses and it all builds to go precisely nowhere (since there's no song for it all to build up to yet).

But it made me happy anyway.

Until, of course, I went to play it on my speakers instead of my "cans" (get me!) and realised that my left and right-hand speakers are the wrong way round.

Thing is, they're right in front of me, and it would be but the work of moments to switch them over but I somehow just can't bring myself to do it since the careful arrangement of knicknacks, doohickeys and postcards on that shelf will have to be moved as well.

I'm clearly in a very procrastinatory mood today.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Yeah, Right...

"A quick drink after work" they said.

Unfortunately, as may have been previously noted, I have the breaking strain of a kit-kat.

And so I got home at 12:15, giddyingly drunk on several glasses of not-so-cheap white wine and several glasses of mildly lethal champagne cocktails, several fascinating conversations of a "more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy" nature, and an extremely good massage from a tall blonde woman who randomly turned up in the bar.

What with that and the roof of my mouth being burned by a rather excellent burger, Friday stretches out before me somewhat as a small minefield of pain and impossibility.

What happened? I used to be able to do this sort of thing all the time!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A Pattern Is Emerging

I have made no secret of my sexual orientation at my new employers. In fact as it turned out everyone was forewarned by the guy who recommended me anyway.

On my first day I met one of the other colleagues who had recently joined my team a month before. Lo and behold he's another poove.

Last week we had another gentleman join, and strangely enough we found out yesterday that he's one as well.

One of the girls in the office was amazed: "there's more of you lot than girls now," she said.

"It's alright," I assured her, "you can count us on your side."

There's a lady joining our team in a couple of weeks. We're now waiting with baited breath to see if she's gay as well. This will finally confirm whether our team's hiring policy is "must be gay" or "must like boys". Coz it's got to be one or the other.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Cold Creeping Fear

I was in Marks and Sparks just now buying socks (as you do - you really can't fault their underwear) and spotted a flash of purple out of the corner of my eye.

And I like purple. Purple is good.

Naturally I sauntered (nay sashayed) over to where I had espied this occurrance and then spent ten minutes in amongst that section of the clothing store oohing and aahing over various shirts, jackets and trousers.

I'd pretty much sorted out my entire Christmas Party outfit in there before I suddenly realised that I was actively considering buying something other than underwear or food in M&S.

So naturally I bought the socks and ran for it.

Still... middle age clearly wants me. The seeds have been sown, and I'm actively considering going back and buying it all anyway.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

An Odd Way to Spend a Morning

I spent much of this morning lying face down, smeared with unguents and wrapped in clingfilm.

Upsettingly this was not part of some bizarre ritualistic form of foreplay, but My First Lasering - the first step in what I hope will be the successful permanent removal of hair from my back.

It was an odd experience. After an hour of this position I was asked to follow a young lady to another room where I again laid down, and was scraped free of the anaesthetic ointment. Then something akin to wallpaper paste was applied to my skin and a gun was aimed at my back.

There was a lot of beeping as she moved the muzzle up and down my back over the next half hour, but thankfully very little pain. Except when it came to the bits where I have the most growth, of course, then it was like having lots of tiny electric shocks around my neck and spine all of which was a bit "ow"-ey.

And then I came to put my t-shirt and jacket on and realised how used I am to feeling clothing on my back. This was because by this point I couldn't feel a damn thing and I found the absence of feeling to be a rather strange feeling in itself. Even now it still feels bloody strange.

Anyway, it's now all done for another six weeks, which I must say I'm rather relieved by: the number of tubes of anaesthetic they used on me pushed the price up more than a little bit.

Still, if it takes it'll certainly be worth it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Where Are They Now?

In this edition of "Where Are They Now?": Faye Tozer!

Former Steps vocalist and dreadlock-fetishist Faye has taken to the stage.

She will shortly be appearing in Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens at the Venue in Leicester Square.

The "Where Are They Now?" "Oh Dear"-ometer is currently registering three out of five (which means Faye is faring really well compared to Lisa Scott-Lee's record-breaking score of seven).

Credit Where It's Not Due...

Now, when I started work I couldn't get a credit card for love nor money. I was even turned down for a Capital One credit card which I think gives you some idea of how poor my standing was in the credit industry.

It all changed when I finally got my graduate loan from Barclays a couple of years back. Within a couple of months an application form arrived from Barclaycard saying "would you like to apply". I filled it in and sent it off with a "yeah, right" fully expecting to recieve a letter by return of post largely along the lines of hysterical laughter and short swift raspberry.

So when a platinum Barclaycard arrived two weeks later I was a little taken aback. (As was my aunt who has a criminally high credit limit but only had a Gold one - she was straight on the phone to put that right I tell you.)

I've been very good with it too. Always paying the majority off every month, making sure I always bought a travelcard with it to get my Nectar points and so on.

And it seems to have paid off. Suddenly in the last couple of months it seems I have gone from a status of "meh" to "let's make sure he can't move for offers of credit cards".

I don't have any intention of taking them up of course, but suddenly I feel quite loved.

I Think I Have a Reputation

Having seen me respond with alarming alacrity to Darren's request on Thingbox for a copy of the forgotten Deuce's forgotten single "No Surrender", Other Rob was prompted to think along the following lines:

"I do often wonder if there’s a vault somewhere of rarely heard material by some of pop's most fleeting stars...

and then I remember Highgate."
Frankly I have a nasty feeling he may be referring to my music collection.

I'm trying to feign complete innocence but I'm not sure it's working.

Friday, November 18, 2005

How Butch!

Yesterday I was having A Bad Day (TM).

In fact work-wise it's been one of those weeks. My computer has fought me every step of the way, new releases have caused no end of problems for our team, we're flooded with support queries and so on.

And on top of that DHL have managed to lose my new phone.

So yesterday I arrived at the gym and expressed to the Sadist the desire to punch the crap out of something. "Okay," he said pulled out some gloves and pads from a box in the corner.

Half an hour later I'd learned the (very) basics of boxing.

God it was therepeutic.

I must hit things more often. I loved every second.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Get Real!

Well well...

I avoided it at the time - the proud claims that it had been recorded in the back of a shop and was being released on their own label kind of put me off - but a kindly passing blog-visitor (thanks Ian!) has given me the opportunity to hear the Reynolds Girls' incredible follow up to "I'd Rather Jack", the little known "Get Real".

Oooh. Well you can't blame them for trying can you? It's got that underproduced housey clubby style arrangement that was so in at the time, trite but affirming lyrics, and an enthusiastic vocal, but despite all that it's a wonder it took hindsight to see it failing, really.

Judging by its lack of chart position, I think we can assume the record-buying public was hoping the girls would take their own advice.

Bless 'em.

Sugar Rush!

Last night I had the pleasure of the company of the indefatiguable Lee who booked us a place at the wonderously lovely Terrace restaurant in Piccadilly.

Three hours of delightful daftness, catching up, putting the world to rights and exceptionally good food later we headed our separate ways; me to brave the Picadilly then Northern Lines, Lee presumably to sample the space-age delights of the Jubilee.

And last night I could barely sleep. It was all very odd, but at about 4:00 this morning I realised why.

On the basis that when eating out your food automatically contains no calories (well, it doesn't come labelled with any information to contradict that does it?) we both ended our meals with a diet-busting Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Only when it arrived we discovered it wasn't sticky toffee pudding. It was a Complete Distilled-Sugar Delivery System and I swear my teeth started to hum after the first bite. I got home, sat in the bath for a bit (then added some water and had a quick scrub), sat on my bed and started - against all sense - to wake up, glucose coursing enthusiastically through my system.

I suppose that's what breaking your diet does for you. I am going to be so wrecked later once it's worn off.

Still, as a price to pay for a lovely evening I feel it was well worth it.

Now if I could just focus my brain for long enough to remember what tracks I'd offered to source for him...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Confessions on a Dancefloor

You know something? I'm really not impressed somehow.

In fact I think "tedious" is how I feel about it overall.

Madonna. Meet Girls Aloud. Now hand over your crown.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Weekend? What Weekend?

It's odd really, whenever I go to Canterbury within about three hours of getting there something about the change of pace and the fresh country air gets to me. I relax totally and find it really hard to stay awake - almost like my internal spring (as it were) completely uncoils.

Of course all this is usually undone by the return journey, but hey. I woke up this morning convinced it had to be Saturday because I hadn't had my normal pottery weekend at the flat. I stared uncomprehendingly at the alarm clock at 6:29, and then found my spirits horribly crushed with unpleasant realisation of the true nature of the day as the scream of the buzzer finally rent the air a minute later.

But there we go. What can you do?

But it was a good weekend. I had lots of good food, some excellent wine (at home), some terrible wine (down the pub), did a spot of shopping, learned how to do PHP pages that update, edit and delete records from a database (for the Mysterious Project), made a few subtle mix changes to a couple of the tracks I'm working on and read half of "The Line of Beauty" by Alan Hollingsworth.

And I got flirted with outrageously in Next, which was nice. Shop assistant fixed me with a grin, opened a till for me, commented on the items I'd chosen (pretty much an entire outfit) and quizzed me about where I'm from, how long I was down for etc etc.

Gave me a glow for the rest of the day that did. Every now and then something like that happens and I think there may be hope for me yet.

Family are all much the same as ever, only Daniel is now becoming a nauseating adolescent and the cat is discovering all sorts of new and interesting ways to get attention. In fact on that front, Teddy's interest in my work was touching: he kept looking at me over the top of my laptop screen, and trying to sit on the nice warm keyboard.

Bless. Sometimes I wish I had a cat.

Friday, November 11, 2005

One of Life's Greatest Pleasures

It's a nice feeling isn't it, that moment when you hear your flatmate leaving the house of a normal working day and just turning over and dozing?

Absolute bliss.

Yay for days off!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Fame at Last!

I suppose compared with some half-hearted hacks I'm pretty well published really. A few years back I had a few articles and reviews published in TV Zone (this was when I both had the ideas and was boning the editor), and I've also been both ripped off by and quoted in articles for Attitude magazine.

The ripping off was pretty much a wholesale reprinting without credit of an article on Rentaghost Paul and I wrote for SAD Magazine. They later published the URL with a grudging comment about how helpful our work had been in preparing their article. The quoting was on the gay appeal of Doctor Who when I was approached by one of their writers after he found some of my other work online. (I have now gone down in history as describing Doctor Who as a "load of camp old nonsense".)

But now I've had my image published too, which is a whole new level. And it's all because of the Windypops! First Birthday Party.

Last week I was in Boyz (no sniggering at the back) with Darren and Rob, unfortunately with me looking distinctly wild-eyed and scary with the infamous pig pink cake.

And a knife.

This week it seems same party has gained a mention in QX - although thankfully they chose a photo in which I don't look quite so dreadful.

It's really rather fun. I've had photos in QX once before (on the occasion of the West Central Farewell Party) and Boyz (when you can see the back of my head at the Bananarama Anniversary gig a few years back) but both cases were just as random punter. On both of these occasions I'm actually mentioned in the text - okay under my pseudonym of Atomic Slattern, but it's still me.

I feel really rather proud. I almost feel like a player.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Thank God this legislation didn't go through.

It would have been a terrible restriction of civil liberties otherwise. 28 days is still a little steep in my opinion, but hey. It's still a big climbdown.

Trouble is I can't help but feel that any increase is saying "yes, you're succeeding in changing our way of life" to the terrorists. Ho hum.

Still, I'm also very much enjoying Blair's gradual castration at the hands of his own party. Serves the smug, self-important and holier-than-thou little shit right.

Now That's Just Odd.

Well, I just went and had a consultation and test patch done for permanent hair removal on my back.

All I will say is that the high intensity laser really stung.

So it caused a certain amount of upset that she checked back a couple of minutes later and went "yeah, we'll go with the high level". I mean... I know it's more effective but come on. It was real "Ow!" stuff - and I'm a big guy so it's going to be stinging in quite a large area for quite a long time.

I'm so going with the topical anaesthetic. I'm just hoping it's more "Have I Got News for You" topical than "Comic Side of Seven Days".

Small and Petty Little Triumphs

It's inevitable really that when you commute on a daily basis on a particular route there will be certain familiar faces and behaviors after a while. And of course, humans being humans, it's the negative ones you tend to remember.

When I was using the 271 there was a chap who would happily hang around behind the bus stop smoking and listening to his iPod until the bus moved in to stop by us, at which point he'd scurry past those of us happily waiting on the kerb and invariably push in front of me to get on first. It was a point of great satisfaction every time the bus overshot slightly and I could spin round and block his way on.

Now on the 43 there's a young girl who behaves similarly. Whether she arrives first or last you can guarantee that once an orderly queue has formed by group consensus she will unashamedly dart round it and push in front to get on the bus first like it's a God-given right.

And you know something? It's really starting to hack me off.

More often than not I don't see her since I've taken to getting down the bus stop a bit earlier so as to get into work with more time to spare, but today it was cold, I needed a bit more sleep and so I left a bit later.

And there she was. And, true to form, she stepped right in front of me as the bus approached. The bus stopped right in front of her, she pulled out her oyster card ready to swipe, and then the bus jerked forward to be in front of me.

She tried to step in front of me again, mind, but I was quicker. I could almost hear her lips purse behind me.

I'm sorry to say this, but moments like that - when you finally triumph over an arch-nemesis - can really set the tone for an entire day.

We'd Rather Not

From an interview with Pete Waterman in Monday's Metro:

"The record went flying up the charts but when The Reynolds Girls appeared on Top Of The Pops they killed it stone dead."
Now, my love of "I'd Rather Jack" is well documented; I think it's a great, bouncy, tongue in cheek little track with some fantastic riffs and a delicious burbling bassy noise courtesy of George deAngelis (who later did exactly the same for Kim Appleby's "Don't Worry").

Besides, "Who needs Pink Floyd, Dire Straits"? A truer line was probably never written.

However, having now finally seen the video for the track I can honestly say that the Reynolds Girls themselves were absolutely bloody terrifying.

And it would appear that jacking is some kind of bizarre ritual involving dodgy outfits, big hair, and an incestuously lesbian dance routine.

Once again I'm just going to have to enjoy the song for the track alone and try not to think about the artists. Otherwise I may just have to cry.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

My Word!

Had my latest official reading from the Sadist today using clever technology and calculators and stuff and my progress is rather better than I thought last week.

I'm now down to 2.5 Kg lost, and have lost not the 3% body fat he wanted from me, but 6%.

I'm currently feeling very smug as a result. Je suis un over-achiever.

Of course technically I'm still overweight by both BMI and body fat measures. Ideally I need to get to 20% body fat or less really - although the Sadist would prefer 18%. Thing is though I'm so close to that I'm feeling quite motivated.

By Christmas I shall be thin!

Although of course by Christmas I will be having to spend a small fortune replacing all my underwear and trousers. Still, it's a fair price to pay I guess.

Mind you, I've got to say - I'm bloody sick of salad now.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Oh My God! My Poor Ears!

I have just heard, thanks to the stupendous Stock Aitken Waterman Gold CD collection, the original Mandy Smith version of "Got To Be Certain".

I don't think my ears will ever forgive me.

I've commented on the track before here and here, but I really wasn't prepared for the sheer total awfulness of the track as revealed in its entirety today.

The vocals are terrible, her voice thin and weedy, and they are always just shy of the required notes. Frankly the track is only rendered listenable by the sterling performances of the backing vocalists who basically dominate the chorus.

It's really quite stunning. I'm in a complete state of shock.

I am Pro-Active Rob! Hear me Roar!

Amazing isn't it how easy it is to put things off? And it's always the silly little things too, stuff that'd only take you five or ten minutes to do but which seems so easy to go "nah, I'll do it tomorrow".

And then of course you don't.

This weekend, however, I actually managed to work my way through what had become a fairly gargantuan list of things I should have done weeks ago. I booked appointments for clinics, cancelled accounts with various companies, paid off my last debt (student loan aside, but that's directly sliced out of my pay anyway). Then I did some more remixing on some tracks, started new ones, put a dent in the pile of DVDs I had somehow put off watching despite having bought in all eagerness, weeded out my wardrobe (how much oatmeal can one man have?), did about seven loads of washing, and ordered a new mobile phone.

The phone I think has probably been my longest outstanding item. I've been meaning to get an upgrade for about six months now due to the fact that my current model is looking horribly battered and is behaving like it as well. The number of times I've missed calls because it couldn't bring itself to ring, or waited for three hours to play the "text message arrived" sound is increasing exponentially - and as for trying to get it to charge... well, it's a nightmare.

Whether the new one will be any better of course remains to be seen. But I'm hopeful.

The only thing I failed to do was to get a new clothes-airer. Our one is falling apart due to some rough treatment during the whole building saga, but despite reserving the item and going down to pick it up, Argos somehow couldn't find any in the entire store. They were very apologetic, bless 'em, but somehow that really didn't help me any.

Still, I can sit and feel terribly smug now, in the knowledge that I am finally getting things done. And it's even better since I've only got a four day week and then I'm in Kent for a few days.

Achievement and the prospect of a long weekend? It doesn't get much better than that now does it?

Friday, November 04, 2005

I Can Feel It In My Water...

Went to the loo this morning at work, lifted up the lid and instantly had to pause for thought.

Either someone in my office has terrible cystitis or the cleaners have switched to a pink bleach.

Okay, it's probably the latter - but it's a bit disconcerting nonetheless.

You Will Rue This Day

Hmm. It appears that Monday the Seventh of November is going to hit my finances quite hard.

Doctor Who - City of Death. Written by Douglas Adams under a pseudonym, starring Julian Glover and featuring cameos by John Cleese and Eleanor Bron, it just glitters. And I like the idea of Paris being described in those terms.

Stock Aitken Waterman Gold CD and DVD. Finally a proper unashamed restrospective. Hopefully the re-appraisal starts here because frankly their output contains some of the best pop songs ever written.

Bananarama - Look on the Floor. Fantastic little electro pop ditty with lots of vocoding, punchy synths and soaring vocals. Pretty much pisses on everything the girls have done for the last fifteen years - welcome back darlin's!

ABBA - The Complete Studio Recordings. The bastards. Found out about this yesterday and it's an absolute killer. I need it. I crave it. I need it. I crave it. I mean... the full length "On and On and On" with the extra crappy verse ? How could I not?

I am so going to get buyers guilt afterwards, but hey. Feel the burn I say.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Transport of Delight

This morning's journey to work was to all intents and purposes an unusual one on the number 43 bus. Not because of a load of delays (or lack of), or interestingly aroma'd passengers - I'm kind of inured to all that these days - but because of one of the most shining examples of an embittered unpleasant humanity I've ever had the misfortune to meet.

The driver this morning was, to be brutally frank, a complete arsehole.

I don't know quite what the problem was, but he was fair bombing it along the route anyway - causing those unlucky enough to be standing no small amount of unsteadiness - but it was not this that caused me to think of him in such less than flattering terms. On at least seven different occasions I saw him wait until some poor, out of breath, would-be passenger would run up to the doors only to slam them in their face and drive off.

There were moments when the intended boarder would be sitting knocking at the door while the bus just sat there in dead traffic. But open them he would not, and on every occasion he drove off with a bus-full of slightly perplexed passengers and one or two unhappy and exasperated proto-passengers left behind.

In Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's "Good Omens" - one of the best books ever written in my opinion - the fallen-angel Crowley puts forward the view that the best way to spread human suffering is not to torture and maim on a grand scale but to cause minor irritations. Locking up the phone signal on a motorway has a knock-on effect when the boss gets in and is short with his secretary, who is then upset and starts lashing out at other people, who then go home and kick the dog and so on until everybody's soul just gets a little bit more tarnished.

And I just found myself thinking how much tarnishing those few actively unpleasant incidents on the part of the driver might be responsible for.

Let's face it, someone in a chain of events stretching from this morning's journey might have been driven to murder by the end of the day.

That's Me

Of all the obscure ABBA songs I love to bits ("Should I Laugh or Cry", "You Owe Me One", "When All Is Said and Done", "Like an Angel Passing Through My Room" and so on) I think one deserves special mention.

And that's "That's Me".

It's very odd really. It's actually quite a bittersweet little track I think (although wonderfully boogie-ish and upbeat in its arrangement) and despite that edge of sadness it's one of those tracks which always picks me up if I'm feeling a little down or sorry for myself.

Heard it on the way in this morning and it instantly put a spring in my step, gave me a kind of "yeah, that's how it is, now move on" resolve, and had me wanting to burst forth into golden song.

Good job I didn't though. I'd hate for people to suffer unduly.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Little Things to Motivate You...

Slightly abortive session with the personal sadist today. He saw me, looked surprised to see me and complained that I was supposed to be an hour later.

I said I wasn't. Transpired we'd both written different times down. But I'm blaming him since he saw me write out my card last time so he should have spotted it was wrong. Clearly.

So I just did a bit of cardio and had a shorter lunchbreak than I would have had.

However, positive news which I'm rather pleased by: I braced myself to check and stand on the scales and over the last six weeks (which should have been five but I had a week off) I lost two kilos in weight.

He didn't believe me when I told him so I had to check again. But I'd still lost two kilos. All of which means that by Christmas I might actually have made significant progress. This knowledge is inspiring me somewhat.

Although I must confess that a bacon sandwich sounds bloody good to me right now.

Spooky Coincidence!

Last night the unthinkable happened. Even now I feel that my handle on reality is somewhat more liberally greased than it was previously.

As Brizzle Jon and I sat down awaiting the delivery of dinner - Chris was doing Fajitas and very nice they were too - we idly flicked our way through the satellite channels.

As is often the way, we ended up at Sky One.

And, as is often the way, Sky One was showing the Simpsons.

What took us completely by surprise however was the fact that they were showing a back to back selection of "Treehouse of Horror" episodes. There is nothing in itself unusual about this, sadly, but we were completely gobsmacked that for a change the Simpsons Hallowe'en Specials were actually being shown at Halloween.

Normally Sky show them at any given opportunity - most often than not on hot sunny days in the height of summer - so to actually find some appropriate scheduling threw us completely.

Of course because Sky rarely fail to show the Simpsons there was no real point in watching anyway. We'd seen it all a million times before so we cracked out some Family Guy instead.

Much better.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Intolerable Cruelty

Despite my general good humour and relaxed state on both Saturday and Sunday (after I'd had a damn good whinge on Saturday morning) I was still somewhat suffering.

Late on Thursday, after the usual lunchtime session with the Personal Sadist, my back started complaining bitterly about what it had been put through that week and this pain merely increased during Friday to the point where any attempt at movement didn't lessen my general level of stress at all.

On Saturday my abdominal muscles decided to get in on the act. The bastards.

It was then I remembered a throwaway comment the Sadist had made on Thursday as I balanced precariously by my neck on a rubber ball whilst tugging at some weights and uttering dark satanic curses.

"I'm amazed," he said "you haven't had an ASBO taken out on me after all the cruelty I put you through."

I merely smiled wanly and commented that the thought hadn't occurred to me, but that it was out there circling now.

It's not true though. Based on the way that everything's tightening up and my jeans aren't quite as snug as they used to be I'm actually considering buying another five hours.

I'm now complicit in my own torture and humiliation.

I must be totally insane.

One of Those Days

I have to say, Friday was one of the most hateful days I've had for a very long time.

Work was, to put it mildly, a little piece of hell on earth. I'd already spent most of Thursday dealing exclusively with petty issues from one client, but Friday they just decided to latch onto me totally and not let go. I was swamped with new cases, most of which I could do nowt about, and by the end of the day was on the verge of sending small nuclear devices to the part of the country said client resides in.

So, I was quite looking forward to the Thingbox Halloween Party that night.

I got changed, tried to calm down a bit and headed up to the Ten Bells after work. I had visions of an evening chatting to people I knew, just unwinding and having a bit of a laugh.

I arrived at the Ten Bells, asked about where the private party was and was told that no-one was there yet. I was a little surprised - it was due to have started ten minutes ago - but accepted the suggestion of a drink. Bearing in mind the slightly squalid environs and the faintly threatening nature of some of the other patrons I opted for a bitter and stood there like a spare tit in a bra drinking it - simultaneously trying to make myself look as non poofy as possible.

And doing that whole "regularly checking the watch so people know you're not just a sad and lonely lurker" thing.

Frankly I felt desperately out of place and intimidated. It really is not a pleasant pub and I couldn't help but feel that Jack the Ripper's victims probably would have leapt gratefully at his knife after a night in there. After twenty minutes of seeing no-one I knew and no-one head to the upstairs bit I decided that I couldn't cope any more with the giggling Friday night Chavettes and Hoxton Trendies and decided to cut my losses.

Of course it's quite a long walk to Old Street station from there and Commercial Road isn't hugely inspiring in its own right. Still, I resisted the temptation to pop to Chariots and Expectations en route and headed for the tube, determining that probably a night unwinding in front of the telly was probably going to be good for me.

The fact that some car driver then decided not to wait for the traffic lights to change in his favour and swang over the pavement and into the road I was crossing just made the night complete. There's nothing like being within inches of death to put the tin hat on it is there?

Thankfully it didn't set the scene for the weekend. Instead I got loads done, paid bills, reconciled accounts, finished a demo track off, met with various friends (and, somewhat randomly, made mulled wine with one since for some reason he was convinced ordinary wine would bring back his flu) and received much benefit from the extra hour in bed the change back to GMT provided.

So at least I can rest assured that I wasn't being completely victimised by the universe all weekend. Just for the start of it, which I think I can just write off really. Ho hum.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Everything About You Is Hexy

On Tuesday I ended up catching an episode of Hex, largely by chance I admit but it's been one of those programmes I'd seen advertised, liked the look of and then had previously managed to miss every episode of.

And I instantly loved it. It was just good. Dry, sarcastic humour, sinister storyline, and stylish realisation. During one of the commercial breaks I popped onto Amazon and ordered the first series box set to allow me to catch up properly.

That arrived yesterday and I spent last night getting halfway through the run (it's okay, there's only six episodes in total) and I have to say I'm really impressed.

I've heard people call it "the British Buffy", but it's not really. The only similarity is a fight against supernatural forces, and it's centering round a cast of youngsters. But if anything, I'm finding it much darker and more focused.

And besides, they've taken their theme tune from Garbage. That's got to be a good sign.

It's strange really. Sky One's original programming is consistently of a higher quality than it should be. Whereas BBC Three - ostensibly aiming for the same market - is just producing crap.

Who'd have thought, eh?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

But... But... I Wanted to be Sarah Jane!


You are ROSE. You have no qualifications to speak of but you are very good at holding on to and swinging on ropes. No doubt at school you used to climb up the rope in gym with it held tightly between your legs where you experienced your first orgasm!

Which Doctor Who assistant are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(Got to be said, whoever wrote that text needed to do at least one more draft.)

Fiddler's Muscle

You may have gathered by now that my Forgotten English calendar is a constant source of joy to me (and I'm pleased to report that the 2006 is available to order now so I may have to hit Amazon shortly).

Sometimes, however, I think the entries are specifically written to cause my schoolboy humour to rise to the surface. Today's entry provided the following pause for thought:

Fiddler's Muscle: One of four little lumbrical muscles in the palm of the hand, the action of which facilitates quick motion of the fingers.
- William Whitney's Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
Now... up until this moment I didn't have a fiddler's muscle, let alone any lumbrical ones. And now I do.

Amazing how so much can change in your life in so little time, isn't it?

There's Always Someone Worse off Than Yourself

As a regular user of the Northern Line (oft called the Misery Line) I was under the impression that at times it could be described as providing the single most hellish traveling experience in the western hemisphere.

I have now had to revise that consideration.

The Waterloo and City Line at peak time offers you a far worse journey. Which is remarkable considering it only has two stations on it.

I don't think I've ever been as cramped or uncomfortable in my life as I was on that particular journey. 1.38 miles of sheer unadulterated displeasure. (I knew I should have walked.)

I pity those poor souls who use it twice a day every day of their working week, I really do.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

To Everything... Turn Turn Turn

As one of those Who-ers who lived through the dark devalued times of the late 80s - when the series' inventiveness and flair had finally returned only to find itself put up against Coronation Street - the following news article leaves me in a frame of mind to gloat.

And gloat I shall.

Look: this me, gloating.

Gloat gloat gloat.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Are You Sure You Wish a Contribution?

One of my colleagues is leaving the UK office tomorrow for Oz.

So an email comes round asking for money with which to purchase a leaving gift.

The exact phrasing on it: "I am doing a wee collection for him."

Best get myself a phial and a funnel I guess.

Well... That Worked.

All I can say is that getting drunk and shoving flyers down the pants of people on a Saturday night seems to be a viable approach to getting the punters in. So fair play to Darren and Smess for that approach; it meant that Windypops! was packed last night.

Frankly we knew something was up when we were in double figures by half past nine. And by the time Chris and I left at about quarter to one the place was busier than we've ever seen it on a non-Bank-Holiday-Monday. I mean I actually had to "excuse me" repeatedly to move around.

I was rather pleased with the set as it turned out. It was one of those ones I enjoyed enormously and it was only a shame I was doing it as opposed to being on the receiving end. It wasn't just me, though, I'm glad to say: several people were rather complimentary about it - including the Other Rob which is probably the main thing. The (somewhat muscular) list was as follows:

  • Kirsty MacColl - Terry (Extended Mix)
  • ABBA - So Long
  • Fuzzbox - Pink Sunshine
  • Voice of the Beehive - Scary Kisses
  • Shakespear's Sister - You Made Me Come To This
  • Human League - Love Me Madly?
  • Client - Don't Call Me Baby
  • Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch
  • Readers Wifes - Nostalgia
  • The Modern - Jane Falls Down
  • 2wo Third3 - I Want the World
  • Pay TV - Refrain Refrain
  • Girls Aloud - Biology
  • Bananarama - Look On the Floor (Hypnotic Tango)
  • Madonna - Hung Up (Radio Edit)
  • Hazel Dean - Who's Leaving Who
  • Rachel Stevens - I Said Never Again (Jewels and Stone Extended Mix)
I even had the surprisingly pleasurable experience of having Other Rob turn up and demand to know what it was I was playing whilst he was bopping along to it at one point. The look of bewilderment when he discovered it was ABBA was a pleasure to behold.

Unfortunately he then decided to fuck around with the lighting and smoke machine which caused one or two small fits and a protracted coughing fit from the group nearest to it. I made a mental note never to let the boy near the switches again.

And I'm not entirely sure I'm reconciled to having a request for some Hazel Dean either, but never mind.

The cake was suitably pink I must say. And surprisingly tasty - I think Chris did us proud. That said, whilst it did nominally look like an exclamation mark I have a horrid feeling that any photos which appear in Boyz and QX will distort it to show a group of drunken bastards using a sharp knife to lacerate a large facsimile penis.

Well... who hasn't been photographed like that, eh?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Quick Reminder...

... that it's the Windypops! first birthday party tonight. So get your arses down there if you can.

Naturally I spent some fair time this weekend working on my setlist. In honour of the occasion it's mainly a sort of "Atomic Slattern's Greatest Hits" where I've picked a whole load of my absolute favourites, but I've still thrown in a few things I've never played before and a couple of pre-release items just to stop it being too stale.

I'm pretty darned happy with it all things considered, which of course probably means it'll bomb. The only worry is that I'm not on first so I may have to make last minute substitutions if any of my highlights get used before I have a chance to. (Still, I guess it's good to have to think on your feet.)

I was privy to the creation of the cake yesterday too. It's quite a tour de force considering the flatmate was seriously broken at the time. Following a heavy Saturday night out he was still whimpering and shaking yesterday evening as he was mixing the darned thing.

It's always fun to watch that sort of thing, of course, purely because it's more often me in that state.

Getting the Fear

Does anyone else, like me, have a mortal terror of their bank balance?

It's a terrible curse I think. It's not an entirely irrational phobia - I know for a fact it was instilled in me during my time as a student and got pretty much solidified during my first couple of years of work when I was still seeing horrifically negative figures - but by now, when solvency is within my grasp, I feel I really shouldn't be quite so scared of it.

And yet I am. The moments before I enter my online banking website are still moments where a cold hand closes around my heart, I instinctively want to slug back a whisky, and I find myself doing the sign of the cross.

It's really quite terrifying.

Into the Depths of Zone Four...

On Saturday I once again attended the National Honey show in order to meet up with my father who had entered some more jars into the competition.

Last year's visit (see here) was fraught with difficulty on account of the navigation to Hendon being something of an exercise in trial and error. This year I elected to meet Dad and Daniel (my little halfbrother) up there.

Half an hour it took by tube, and the only faintly hairy moment occurred when I suddenly realised that after Hampstead the Northern Line isn't underground at all and we emerged into harsh white light again. Well, the last time I'd been up that way it was night and I'd dozed off on the train (as here).

To be brutally frank everything was all pretty much the same as last time. The only differences were:

  • Because of my different transportation I got to see a that there's a Police Boxish construction by the side of the tracks as you approach Colindale station. (I can only assume the Police Training College is to blame.)
  • Daniel was delighted with the sonic screwdriver I bought him.
  • This time dad got a first prize, two second prizes and a couple of commendations. (He forgot, however, to bring me any honey to distribute. But hey.)
A not unpleasant way to spend an afternoon I must admit.

I made my excuses and headed off prior to the prizegiving, though. Realising that there were a couple of hundred classes into which the honey could be entered (!) I could sense it was going to take a bloody long time.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Did It Again

Okay... that's two certifications I've passed in the last two weeks. I haven't even passed my probation period yet (and every time I hear the words "swap with a short leg" I giggle) but pass them I have.

Just before lunch I went in for the "driving" test on System Admin, convinced I'd done really badly in the written test and so would have to retake that.

Turns out I did better on that than I had on the compliance one. (Still not entirely sure how - I definitely guessed a huge chunk. But hey.)

Thing is now they want me to run the System Admin training courses, so it seems that if you prove yourself in any way capable of anything you will always end up having more to do.

Failure, therefore, is presumably the key to a stress-free life.

Suits You Sir!

I have an odd relationship with suits.

Fact is I really resent being made to wear them. When I joined my new company I was delighted to find I didn't need to go as far as a suit with jacket and tie, a shirt and smart trousers was fine. Excellent - makes it all bearable (although getting enough shirts to not have to wash mid-week and iron in the bleary hours of the morning took a couple of painful shopping expeditions).

Yesterday I did my occasional bar-work thing at Dolphin Square. This time it was a small soiree in honour of Trafalgar day (which is today as readers of Diamond Geezer's blog will know) and this time I was invited to the dinner afterwards as well which - as it happens - was a sit-down suit and tie affair.

Damnit, I thought.

But you know, I loved it - mainly because I was repeatedly told how damn smart I looked. I was told several times at various points in the evening that I could remove my jacket or tie but by that point I was enjoying being dressed up so much that I wasn't having any of it.

It would appear that getting me out of a suit takes rather more effort than persuading me into one in the first place.

Compare and Contrast

Situation One: a man is jailed for just 21 days for breaking his dog's ribs and giving it 20 cigarette burns. [Here.]

Situation Two: a woman is sued by Transport for London on the grounds of fare-dodging because her oyster card didn't swipe, despite witnesses claiming she swiped it and money being available to cover her fare.

For 50% of your mark, explain how it is that a society which regards itself as civilised can pursue petty vendettas with such vigour and yet fail to punish real evil.

Remember this is under exam conditions, so if you want to go to the toilet please raise your hand.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Again, I Misunderstood...

Reading about Christian Ronaldo's arrest on rape allegations yesterday reminded me of one of my typical literal interpretations of headlines when the story first came out about a month ago.

At the time the identity of the person concerned was being kept very very secret indeed, and so the Evening Standard proclaimed to the world:

Soccer Star Rape Police Quiz

I found this such an odd collection of words that I was stopped in my tracks while my brain grasped wildly for an interpretation. And finally that interpretation was made:

"I wonder what the prize is," I muttered to myself.

It was only a little further down the road I actually realised what they meant.


"No, I've Really Got To Go..."

Last night I ended up at one of those social gatherings you find yourself, for one reason or another, completely unable to leave.

It was the leaving drinks for a former colleague and I rolled up to Digress at Citypoint to try and find them, finally discovered them hiding in a snug little area that's hard to see into, and got a drink.

I promised myself I'd only stay for two. As you know, I'm knackered - plus with another certification due today and a night out this evening and tomorrow planned I felt I would benefit from an early night.

But of course, the best laid plans of mice and men are usually about equal.

I had a glass and someone offered me another. I was chatting, and other people would arrive and I'd chat to them and then just as I was about to stop and say, "Sorry guys, gotta go" someone else I hadn't spoken to in a while would come over and it would have seemed rude to bugger off then.

This kept happening.

I left at half ten.

And of course the Northern Line was again shagged, so I took a chance on getting a random bus that looked like it might be going in the right direction (never used that route before, it was fascinating) and finally made it in at 11:15. Whereupon I medically needed a bath and a Nytol.

Today I feel terrible. And the exam's at noon.

Way to go Rob. Get a backbone man.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rising to Temptation

A relatively heated email discussion between an ex and I (over matters of no real consequence: the quality of merchandise of a certain British SF series) finally ended in an agreement between us on one point.

"Good," he said. "Nice to see you aren't completely without taste."

I managed to switch "auto-bitch" off just in time.

Thing is, with anyone else I'd probably go for the catty remark purely for my own amusement and sort out any damage later. In this case I suddenly worried that it might actually hurt his feelings and felt it just wouldn't be fair - especially since I wouldn't really mean it.

I'm worried now. I'm clearly losing my nerve.

What Was I Thinking?

This link to "Leather Pants I Unfortunately Own" has just been forwarded to me and I think is worth a worth a look. It's from an original eBay listing which at the time of writing is available here.

As a piece of writing in its own right it is without compare I think.

But it raises an interesting confession I have from my own life: I used to own a pair myself.

Now as it turns out they weren't actually leather, just a very good approximation. And I only wore them twice: once out in public on an ordinary evening, at which, I realised shortly afterwards, I looked like a dick; and the other time for a performance of the Rocky Horror show, at which of course you are supposed to look like a dick, so that's alright.

Ah... fashion follies of the past. You never can live them down really can you?

Clearly my mid-life crisis came in very early.

The Weeping Tiger

Still running on empty.

However, a lovely evening was had. I was due out for dinner with a mate at eight last night so, reckoning it wasn't worth heading home beforehand, stayed at work with my laptop and did some more work on the Mysterious Project.

Coming along nicely. Slowly, of course, and since PHP and a database are involved, a little painfully too. Not that any of it's particularly hard: once you've done one retrieval page, you can do another - but the problem is they all start to blur and become vaguely tedious after a while. (It's not exactly the most creative of occupations, I've discovered, but hey.)

And then on to Marble Arch to meet Steve. We scurried round the sidestreets along Oxford Street until we came to a restaurant called "Eat Thai" (details here) which we thought we'd try..

You can't go wrong with Dim Sums of course, but they were the best I'd ever tasted. And I followed that up with a wonderfully titled main course: "Weeping Tiger" - a wonderfully evocative name for what was essentially steak. But it was all beautifully prepared and tasted gorgeous. The Thai wine I will probably pass on in future I'll admit, but otherwise I heartily recommend the venue.

A couple of drinks in a nearby tavern and then I braved the journey home with La Stevens ringing in my ears. Ended up having two showers when I reached Archway: one because of the deluge which seemed to have set in during my surprisingly short journey, and another to warm up again.

Uncannily I woke up one minute before my alarm was due to go off today. This keeps happening - I must have an extremely efficient body clock.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Heheheh. Wipeout!

Oh that's better.

Drug assisted sleep it may have been, but sleep it was. I feel so much better this morning. Almost human in fact.

Mind you, the dreams were a bit odd still.

For one thing I had a punch-up with a man in a shark suit in a swimming pool.

And for another I won.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Come and Get It!

You see, I was raving about Rachel Stevens the other week, having a small hissy fit about the fact she'll bomb when all I've heard of her album has been genius.

Let's just take it as read that the same still holds true.

But really it is. I'm listening now and some of the tracks I heard previously through less than legitimate means have been improved. The tracks I hadn't heard are at worst good or servicable.

If Kylie doesn't buy this and snap up those producers there really is no God.

And even La Stevens herself came across quite well in a documentary the other day on E4. (Sweet and naive but still very self-effacing and giggly which I rather liked. I'm clearly mellowing in my old age.)

Windypops! The Anniversary!

Would you believe it: next Monday Windypops! will be a year old! All of a year on the the 24th October 2005. Bless it.

And yes, last night I signed up to DJ. (I'm going to have to give this some thought.)

So.... come one, come all. But most of all come!

There will - I gather - be cake.


I have the overwhelming feeling I didn't stop over the weekend.

I know this isn't strictly true, but I did find certain parts of it imbued with rather more frantic rushing than I feel is seemly for a time of rest.

Saturday morning I found myself trying to pack in my usual morning scrubdown and panelbeating, sort out the flatmate's washing and washing up (the bugger had left me to do it as usual as he rushed of to Sheffield, the sod) clean the kitchen, do all my washing and start doing some demo pages for the Mysterious Project so I'd have something to show Smess and Darren on Sunday night.

Then I had to find another method of getting to my Aunt's given that the Northern Line was shagged and everyone was trying to find alternate routes. Thankfully I got there and had a pleasant evening with roasts and wine and so forth.

Sunday I had the unusual experience of being the only gay in Ikea. I trailed around behind Terry as she ummed and ahhed over furniture, pictures and ornaments, then similarly round Curry's as she chose a new hoover. Then lunch and an interminable journey home which put us seriously behind schedule for getting back into town so I could meet Smess and Darren for a Mysterious Project Meeting. Miraculously I arrived about the time they did so that kind of worked.

Then I drew at a game of Scrabble (this surely shouldn't happen) and then had to get home again. The Northern Line was professing to run a limited service so I chanced it and did actually get home in under an hour and a half which was, I suppose, something.

I managed to get a lot done, I suppose, so that's a good thing. But I also get the feeling that I spent more than half of my spare time trying to get places. Since I am not a natural traveller this normally wears me down a bit. But the additional factor of barely sleeping (and having some bloody weird dreams when I did) has left me feeling slightly tweaked by my weekend.

Today coffee is my friend. But tonight the fickle finger of friendship will point at the Nytol One-a-Night pills.

Two of them.

Autumn Mornings

It's suddenly got distinctly autumnal here now. Whilst waking up in the dark is still having its usual deliterious effect on my inclination to interact with the universe, once light has tentatively stretched its fingers over the world, I must confess I'm rather enjoying it.

Two mornings now I've seen the morning start with significant amounts of mist lingering over the landscape and the atmospheric effect it creates is one I'm very much attached to. It's all mysterious and intriguing, all these dark shapes looming up out of the moist grey air, lights appearing diffused on the horizon, that sense of wonderment and puzzle as you squint at the approaching bus and go "is that the 43 or the 134? I can't tell."

It's a great time of year.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Bloody Hell!

I just got certified.

Internal certifications that is. They're been doing them on various modules of the system this week and despite my protests that I was hopelessly unprepared after only two months in the company and formal training) I got put forward for Compliance.

I was in such a state of terror yesterday that I was sick before I left for work and could barely type the answers into the test. And I fully expected not to be asked to do the practical test today.

Until I got asked to ten minutes before Cathy wanted me to do it.

However, much to my surprise - and my general shakes are testament to this - I passed with 86% overall. I'm frankly stunned.

I am now compliance personified.

(Or to put it another way - a complete walkover.)

Madonna's New Single

Just heard it.

I'm a tad confused.

Bits of it I rather like.

Strangely the ABBA sample isn't one of them.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lies or Half Truths?

Email from London Transport:

Dear Mr Morris,

I am writing to let you know that the Northern line is not running today due to problems connected to the signalling system.
Now, I have a couple of problems with this.

Firstly: the email arrived at two o'clock. Since it hasn't been running since 7:45 last night when the drivers walked out it's taken them a while to tell me.

Not that I didn't already know because the bus this morning was full of pissed-off Northern Line passengers.

Second is this continued statement that the problem is with the signalling system. It's not - we know it's not. It was exposed a week ago that the problem lies with the emergency backup on the trains which stops them going through a red light if there is a problem with the danger signal.

And why's this happened? Oh, because the trains have not been properly maintained.

Once again the safety of the public has been put in the hands of commerical entities and once again they've been more interested in making money than safety and service.

Mind you, it's a tad worrying that the emergency system in modern trains still relies on a bit of string under the carriage.

Whatever it is, Tube Lines should be bloody well sacked from running the lines they do. They have absolutely and consistently failed the system since they took over.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Damn Cyclists!

Three times in the last couple of days I've nearly been knocked over by a cyclist zipping at me out of nowhere.

I'm starting to find it slightly annoying considering that I'm fastidiously waiting for green lights, not crossing the road until I get one, checking that the traffic's noticed the lights are against them etc etc, to find that when I do get the right of way I am liable to be injured by someone who doesn't think the highway code applies to them.

Bastards, I tell 'ee! Bastards!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

That's Odd

On my return from Windypops! last night (rather busy as it happens and quite fun) I went into my room and instantly got the feeling something was off.

Earlier I'd got home from work, thrown a few CDs into a bag - I'd been requested to take a couple but as it turns out I didn't take nearly enough - had a quick bath and something to eat, and hurried out of the door again to Limehouse.

I got home later than I'd expected due to the Northern Line being crap (again) and having to change at Moorgate to a bus. But, due to not fitting in a pool session and sticking to wine (instead of mixing grape and grain) I was pretty clear-headed - if a tad tired.

It was the little things really. The spare towel that normally I put back in the bathroom was on my radiator with my other one - not something I'd normally do. My Compliance study guide was on my bedside table when I was sure I'd just thrown it out of my bag onto the bed. And my main CD case was on the floor by my bed, when I was pretty certain I'd left it on top - and if I was to put it down I'd put it back in its usual place.

But I shrugged it off. I was tired, and I had left in a hurry. Maybe I was just imagining it.

And then... this morning as I stretched and tried to focus my eyes - whilst standing stark naked in front of a window with no net curtain, incidentally (I'm determined to upset the people out back) I saw something which was definitely not my imagination.

There on my bookcase was a bog-standard common or garden pub pint glass, two thirds full of water.

I'm currently working on the basis - in a charitable fashion - that my flatmate assumed I'd be staggering home roaring drunk last night and tried to make my collapse into bed as straightforward as possible, providing a life-giving glass of water to help rehydrate me.

But it's got to be said a part of my brain is now also running through various less savoury possibilities.


Seems I was vaguely right. Chris managed to take five pro plus last night in anticipation of a late night drinking with a mate, which then got cancelled. He was then somewhat buzzing and unfocussed but decided to make my return as painless for me (and him in case I dropped the CD case) as possible.

And subsequent to that he spent an hour searching the flat for the glass of water he'd put down somewhere.

And the thing is, all of this all seems perfectly normal to me.

Monday, October 10, 2005

To Those We Have Lost

As I wandered round Greenwich yesterday (I had arrived somewhat early for the mysterious discussions) I decided to take a tour up to what used to be the nicer of the gay pubs in the village to see what it was like now.

I was really quite stunned.

It's now a totally trendy gastropub, decked out in back and white. Somehow at once incredibly stylish and yet utterly soulless. Where once the Gloucester - or as I used to call it "The Rat and Eggwhisk" - stood, tourist attraction by day, camp-as-tits cabaret-and-dance-bar by night, there exists now a trendy gastro-pub, decked out smartly in black and white and a lot of polish.

I felt really quite bereft.

I remember when I first came to London that both the Gloucester and West Central were by far my favourite venues. They were both pubby places where you could happily find a place to sit and chat, and yet both gleefully pandered to a pure pop mentality in their choice of music.

There was character to them too. The transition of the Gloucester from tourist pub to gay pub was always worth being there for. The rainbow flags came out, the music got camper and suddenly the tourists started getting puzzled looks on their faces. Then they’d flee as they suddenly realised what had happened and caught the cock-shots in the free mags.

West Central was equally a totally unstylish venue, and even had a wonderfully tacky theatre bar that quietly played show-tunes, and served as a wonderful meeting place. It was strangely civilised in a flock-wallpaper and dripping tap sort of a way.

Now, much to my regret, both are gone and I kind of miss them. (I was there on West Central’s last night and helped to give it a right royal send-off even getting my mugshot in QX for my pains.)

I feel partially responsible. All the bars I really liked – not too crowded, not too grotty, not too trendy, camp music – seem destined to fail. I remember when Site Bar rose from the ashes of Brief Encounter, finding it and instantly loving it (not least because I was flirted with outrageously by the bar staff) and then finding it'd gone too. They tried being Brief Encounter again for a while - which was close but no cigar - but even that was closed last time I went by.

I think there’s a lesson in this. I’m sort of an anti-demographic as far as the gays go. If you want something to succeed, make sure I don’t like it – or am at least indifferent to its charms.

Once More unto the Sanitorium

On Sunday evening, after games of pool, darts and a long discussion with Smess about a project he wishes to work with me on, we headed to Chariots in Limehouse.

Only to find the Jacuzzi wasn't working. We were most put out.

Now I haven't been to one of these sanitoriums in quite a while, but I must say we had a pleasant time there. And it was all perfectly innocent too (as anyone who knows me will attest).

We uncleared the pores, cleansed, relaxed, laughed and wrested control of the TV in the lounge from the staff. (Sadly they had a cheap satellite package meaning we couldn't watch Miss Marple and thus ended up on Nighty Night instead - a series which really has improved no end.)

And all of this whilst wearing a towel which was just a the tiniest amount too small to be totally comfortable in.

Whilst we were enjoying ourselves, however, I'm not sure the rest of the people shuffling embarrassedly around enjoyed it as much as we did. Something about the fact we were actually talking seemed to clear out the steam and sauna areas as the other pooves panicked and ran. There must be an unwritten rule forbidding conversation and a lack of self-consciousness or something.

I think the best bit though was realising that Geri Halliwell’s "Ride It" was playing over the sauna's stereo system.

One of these days, I really must put together that "Ultimate Chariots" album. This is something Daniel and I mooted ages ago after he reported hearing Madge's "Substitute for Love" at the Liverpool Street one. The choice was so painfully funny we felt we had to do a collection of similar ones.

Thinking caps on, readers: surely there must be other equally (in)appropriate tracks we could use?