Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Mysterious Injuries

This is odd.

Saturday evening I noticed my right elbow was stiff and gave good pain whenever I tried to to move it - something I put down to a sort of tennis elbow effect from keeping the kite up on Saturday afternoon. Sunday it was painful to the touch.

However I've just noticed that the entire area is covered with a large browny-yellow bruise which rather suggests that something else happened and I have no recollection as to what it could be.

Combined with a large purple bruise on my right knee which I can't figure out the origin of I'm a little concerned.

Thankfully I don't have a huge scar on my arm from where Smess bit me last night and everything else seems to be working okay, but I am somewhat perplexed about it nonetheless.

I do hope I enjoyed myself however these injuries happened.

Once More Unto the Breeches Dear Fiends

I loathe shopping, I really do. With a fiery passion in fact. I like buying things of course but the actual traipsing around irritates me. Thus the internet is a great friend to me with regards to most purchases, but sometimes - as in the case of buying clothes - you have to physically shift your arse out there and try things on.

Thus it was that I spent a pleasant Bank Holiday Monday morning on Oxford Street.

And for "pleasant" you can read "hellish" if you wish.

Main reason for this is a desire to overhaul my wardrobe a bit. I'm looking to tidy up a bit, go for smarter more classic lines and what have you, and avoid too many fashion items which tend to date horribly and to be fair tend to look better on young twinks than elongated proto-thirty-year-olds.

So yesterday I started with trousers. (Trousers are always a good place to start.)

This is, to be fair, the hardest part of getting me kitted out. The main problem is that my height (all 6'5" of it) is mainly due to my legs not my torso and therefore most trousers don't fit. Not just the "regular" sizes either: the longs tend to be an inch or so too short (especially in Next damn them).

Plus there's the waist. I have, I must confess, piled on some girth over the last couple of years. Now most of this has dropped off again recently due to the uncertainty at work and cardio exercise and so on, but I'm still averaging about the 36" which given my leg length is 34" means I have a slightly odd size trouser to buy.

And can you find 36 x 34 anywhere? Well yes, but its a lot of hard work. And if you don't like shopping anyway, you're going to hate trying to find this trouser size... still I bit the bullet and gave it my best shot.

(Word to the wise: don't shoot things whilst trying to bite the bullet. It makes a terrible mess of your enamel.)

I was almost completely unsuccessful for the first hour and a half, but finally I resorted to the GAP on Oxford Street. They quite clearly state on all their charts that they do 36x34 in all their trousers, but the store in Moorgate never has any (which says something about those of us who work in the City I guess). Thankfully the Oxford Street one had a plethora of them. I ended up vanishing into the changing rooms laden down with various items and spent a happy half hour dressing up, posing in front of the mirror, checking they flattered my bum and what have you (difficult to do on your own, incidentally; for the first time in a few weeks now I found myself wishing I had a boyfriend just to advise me).

In the end I settled for some navyish jeans - classic cut, nothing fancy, but an interesting weave - and a couple of pairs of smart-casual trousers. (GAP, incidentally calls them Khakis. I, however, call them slacks - because the word amuses me.) Finally, after flirting with the store manager (and gratifyingly he started it which put me in a fantastically good mood for most of the day) I left having spent a quite shocking amount on legwear.

Which actually meant I had a successful clothes shopping trip for the first time in ages.

Even better is the discovery that despite needing a 36" waist size, they're actually quite loose and I need a belt, which suggests that even after the stress is off at work I'm still dropping it, and I'm quite pleased about that.

Not sure I'm willing to lose much more, though. For one thing it'll render the new trousers redundant, but also at my height I think a certain chunkiness is not a bad thing. I don't particularly fancy looking like a lamp-post after all.

If nothing else I'd have to steer clear of stray dogs.

Next stop, getting some shirts: one for next weekend maybe.

DJ Hazards

There are, I decided last night, three definite hazards you face when DJing.

I'm not referring to the possibility of no-one turning up. If that happens you can play what you damn well like and who gives a damn? Plus it's just the same behind the decks anyway and its less work than having to keep an eye on the crowd and modify your plans accordingly.

No, the main problems are as follows:

1) People asking you for stuff you don't have. Particularly when they're reeling off a whole list of things they'd like and you've never heard of most of them. You feel like you're letting them down somewhat. I will admit it was a struggle though to fight down my natural response to "do you have the new Black-Eyed Peas one?" which was "No I bloody well don't, what do you take me for?" Eventually they managed to suggest something I was going to play anyway - the Spice Girls as it happens - but even so, you feel a bit bad for them.

2) Next is people requesting things which are just totally inappropriate for the dancefloor. This happened twice last night. First up was a rather lovely lesbian called Lucy who works at G-A-Y bar and requested "Truly Madly Deeply" so she could dance with her girlfriend since it was their song and they were off in a bit. I obliged since no-one else was drunk enough to dance anyway and Lucy had won a bet with her friends by dancing suggestively on the stage to "I Touch Myself" which kind of got her bonus points.

But later a rather elderly gentleman requested some Madonna. Fine, you might think, but he looked down the tracklist for the album I had and demanded "Frozen" which I could tell at the time was a bad idea. People were now at that state of drunkenness that they'll happily dance, but only if it's danceable and essentially he picked up not only the slowest track on the album, but the longest as well. Great.

I think in future I must be firmer. "No, you can have 'Ray of Light' or nothing" I was tempted to say at the time and I really wish I had now.

3) Of course the final problem is people asking for something by someone you've already played. Although in my mind you can't have too much Kylie, Pet Shop Boys or Betty Boo, I do worry about recovering the same ground where other people are concerned.

Otherwise, not a bad night. Deck 2 decided to randomly fuck up again after cue-ing up successfully by deciding it wasn't going to respond to the play button. Always a joy, especially when a roomful of people suddenly find their fun stymied by unexpected silence and the DJ screaming "you c***ing machine!" Thankfully I was able to bung a Steps CD on in its stead. (The gloating and ridicule from those immediately close to me stung a little, but the Karmic wheel was swift in its spin, as Smess shortly after pressed a button which stopped the decks producing noise at all and had no idea how to set it back. I must confess to a slight gloat about that and the use of the words "in yo face" which I think was well deserved.)

Set list as follows:

  • Bloodhound Gang - The Bad Touch
  • The Bravery - Out of Line
  • The Human League - Shameless (Audacity Mix)
  • Richard X Feat. Tiga - You (Better Let Me Love You)
  • The Modern - Industry
  • Pet Shop Boys - The Truck Driver and His Mate
  • Transvision Vamp - Baby I Don't Care
  • Dubstar - No More Talk
  • Fischerspooner - Never Win
  • Goldfrapp - Twist
  • Ashtar Command - Solve My Problems Today
  • Garbage - I Think I'm Paranoid
  • Feeder - Buck Rogers
  • CD Lens Cleaner - Lens Cleaning Instructions
  • The Divinyls - I Touch Myself
  • Patrick McNee and Honor Blackman - Kinky Boots
  • Petula Clark - Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)
  • Siobhan Fahey - Pulsatron
  • Hot Gossip - I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper
  • Kelly Osbourne - One Word
  • Belvedere Kane - Never Felt as Good
  • Betty Boo - I'm On My Way
  • Darren Hayes - Crush
  • Pink - 18 Wheeler
  • Pat and Mick - Use It Up and Wear It Out
  • Liza Minnelli - Love Pains
  • Rachel Stevens - So Good
  • Savage Garden - Truly Madly Deeply
  • Pete Burns - Jack and Jill Party
  • Bodies Without Organs - Conquering America (Johan S Remix)
  • Pet Shop Boys - Discoteca / Single
  • Kim Appleby - G.L.A.D. (7" Remix)
  • Pay TV - Trendy Discotheque
  • Kylie Minogue - The Locomotion (Kohaku Mix)
  • Dusty Springfield - Middle of Nowhere
  • Client - In It For the Money
  • Madonna - Frozen (!)
  • Kylie Minogue - What Do I Have To Do (Movers and Shakers 12" Mix)
  • Spice Girls - Who Do You Think You Are
  • Steps - One for Sorrow (Tony Moran US Remix)
  • Betty Boo - Doin' The Do (12" Mix)
Alright I suppose.

I must confess to being a tad worse for wear at the end, to the point where I completely misheard Smess' request for the availability of certain items about my person. I thus responded to what I thought was his request for any chewing gum by handing him some Wrigleys. He then, after a moment's perplexed expression (and then taking and eating the gum) accused me of unwarranted sarcasm and unnecessary physical comedy.

It transpired he'd actually asked whether I had Annie's "Chewing Gum", as in "on CD".

Oh how we laughed.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Stop It Damn You!

Embedded sounds on web pages. Ones you can't stop from loading and playing at you, especially ones that do it when you move over something.

I'm sorry but they're evil.

I use my PC to listen to music, and for some sites I have to stop and pause the CD, MP3 or whatever while this abortion of a design idea blares out at me.

Frankly anyone who does this deserves to be groinally punished with a cricket-bat embedded with rusty nails.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Up on the Heath

There is much wooliness in Highgate this morning. Although wooly doesn't got far enough to describe Chris who in fact feels like death.

The cause of said death is a simple picnic. A few of us headed out to Hampstead Heath yesterday to enjoy some (!) booze and a small amount of food in the sunshine.

I say a small amount of food. Chris went a little overboard and provided enough to feed a small army as it happens, but hey. It was a lovely afternoon, caught the sun, discussed many and varied topics - including the incredible edible dormice of Tring - and flew kites. I must confess I'm still a little perplexed as to why one of our party - a trainee priest no less - started telling me how to hide leghair when doing drag, but I think its best to just let it go.

The kite-flying I must say was probably the best fun I've had in ages. The kites were cheap £1 jobbies from a shop in Covent Garden (apparently) and thus not the most robust of creations, but nonetheless I felt like a kid again - and in the good way too. I returned to the wine when a sudden twang and limpness indicated that finally nature had won out over dubious craftsmanship, and thus raised a glass to the rapidly vanishing bat.

It was then a swift return home for some aftersun, Doctor Who - "The Doctor Dances", another improbably titled but fantastic episode with twists, turns, jeapordy and a sparkling script - Rex the Runt, Chelmsford 123 and then deep and drunken conversations until I finally staggered to bed at 12 leaving Chris to continue being host.

This morning the house looks like a bomb hit it - crisp bags, crisps, bottles, food and everything all over the shop - and so far I've spent most of the morning washing up.

Memo to self: in future all containers used for picnics must be disposable. That will reduce the workload considerably.

It's Journalism, Jim, But Not As We Know It

I hear that the opinion(ated) writer Richard Littlejohn is leaving the Sun newspaper and heading for the Daily Mail.

So... what? A scabrous, bigotted, fearmongering, fascisistic, narrow-minded, foreigner-loathing, queer-bashing, sensationalistic, self-serving little shit is going to be "writing" for the Daily Mail?

Yeah, that fits. As the Hate Mail's editor so wisely put it, Littlejohn is simply returning to his "spiritual home".

The interesting side-effect is that the intelligence and tolerance levels of the Sun readership may actually go up as a result. (Daily Mail readers of course are already beyond hope.)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Mind the GAP

One of the things I hate most about certain clothing stores is the fact that they seem determined to have the numbers of staff equal to the number of customers in the hope of giving a sort of one on one personal service to those of us who are patronising them.

Just now in GAP I was idly browsing through the jeans when I suddenly realised that a shop assistant was right next to me and had been talking for a while now - apparently not noticing that I was completely oblivious due to being plugged into the Device (specifically Girls Aloud's genius "Androgynous Girls").

I had similar problems in Next and M&S too.

Thing is that I like to browse and make my own decisions, not have a complete stranger shadowing me, invading my space and picking over my choices. I had been intending to spend rashly and expansively with the aim of overhauling my wardrobe to be slightly more in keeping with my age, but this - and a shocking lack of air conditioning in these stores - made me think "sod it" and I scurried back to the cool air of the office, grabbing this month's Attitude on the way.

It seems to have Charlotte Church on the cover. I am most upset by this.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Hmm...

Just taken a look in the cold harsh light of day at my setlist for Monday.

God it's camp.

Don't get me wrong, there's not too much actual crap in there - although there is a heavy cheese element to some of the ingredients - but even the indie and more obscure electro stuff in there has a heightened sense of seedy glam and overstated drama which to me shouts "camp" in its purest form.

And that's before you get to "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper".

Sarah Brightman and Hot Gossip; it's either going to go very well, or I'm going to get lynched.

School's Out!

Last night I had the pleasure of watching the pilot for a panel game being recorded.

Last night, however, I had the displeasure of seeing it recorded in Wembley Park.

I must confess that these days I will leap through hoops to avoid using the District, Circle and Metropolitan Lines (collectively referred to in my head as the Ham and Cheese Salad Lines). The Northern Line is often referred to as the Misery Line - and indeed commuting on it is hell - but for general travel I often feel a little dirty when using these others. Yesterday though there was no choice: Moorgate to Wembley Park is basically best served by the Met and so the Met I used.

Wembley Park, like the stadium it serves, is getting a bit of an overhaul at present (and indeed the new entrance looks stunning even half-finished) and thus the first thing that struck me was the smell of burning, sawdust and cement that assailed me when I stepped out of the carriage. "What a dump" I thought - and this was before I hit the main drag, which frankly would benefit hugely from a nuclear blast.

So, I met my flatmate outside the station and we went in search of a pub. What we found was an Irish affair that was so far removed from the theme pubs I've been into in the past that I was quite stunned. It was pokey, a mixture of tobacco smoke and threat of violence hung in the air, and the TV was loudly blaring out some racing channel which interspersed its programming for the present gamblers with offers of cheap finance to pay off debts (funny that).

We managed a drink before running to the fountain studios in fear of our lives (not because of the blokes, strangely, but from the matronly ladies pissed out of their skulls at six-o-clock) and joined the queue and getting let in just before the capacity was reached.

This was, I must say, my first time at a TV recording. I've been to several radio recordings and been amused greatly by the stuff you don't get to hear in the final broadcast, but for TV I was a virgin.

The panel game is called "School's Out!" and seems to be destined for Sundays at 7:00 if it ever gets made at all. The host was one Danny Wallace - who started a cult by accident, written about in the brilliant book "Join Me" - and the concept was to get three celebrities in to answer questions they would have known at school but forgotten about by now, in the hope of getting prizes for a school of their choice.

"With," the pitch presumably read, "hilarious results."

And it was fun. But I can't see it being a big hit. Largely because once again "celebrity" seemed to mean "a few people who aren't on TV as often as they'd like". Richard Hammond from Top Gear, some girl from the National Lottery show, and - thank God - Mel Giedroych from Mel and Sue (a woman whose genius I feel unfit to rant about).

To be fair I wasn't expecting much but they interplayed well, were funny and engaging and I laughed muchly. Sadly this was largely in between questions so you know the good stuff'll end up trashed.

To be honest there were bits though that I feel ashamed to say I wanted to yell out the answers in a sort of "arteries you daft wench, even I know that!" way. Thankfully I didn't.

What with studio recordings, warm up man - a rather attractive gentleman by the name of Ben Norris I think, who was actually rather good - diving in to keep us amused during the reorganising of sets etc, and retakes the 25-minute programme took an hour and a half to record before we were sent back into the Lidl and McDonalds-strewn highways of Wembley.

I await with interest the results. (Assuming as I say it doesn't just get canned.)

Overall, Wembley aside, it was a fun evening though. I came away thinking that I really should do more of this sort of thing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I Feel Faintly Sick

No, the hangover hasn't kicked in, it's just the continuing trail of people going into the MD's office and coming out with envelopes then going home.

It's like Pop Idol only with ordinary people being voted out of their jobs.

The tension is unbearable, my stomach's in knots and I feel nothing but sheer terror.

There's a rumour that this is it. They're done and the rest of us are safe, but some of the choices have been so arbitrary and so random no-one knows what the hell is going on.

Except of course the people in charge who have headed off to lunch.

Perhaps I'm Storing Them Up?

I don't feel ill. Again. Two nights in a row I go out drinking, two mornings in a row I feel fine. I'm worried that this is all going to catch up with me later.

Normally following a Windypops! night I feel a tad rough. Not because I drink very much, I hasten to add, but simply because the evening tends to involve mixed drinks.

For starters there's the pre-Windypops pool session at which I habitually drink wine - because I really like wine and they actually have it by the bottle. And then at Windypops! I switch to bitter because my stomach reacts very badly to lager and the wine at the Black Swan (or "the Rotting Vulture" depending on your point of view) is truly truly unpleasant, not to mention fucking expensive.

After a couple of weeks of this I came to the conclusion that the old adage "wine and beer makes you queer" didn't mean what I initially thought it did, and was in fact a comment on the likelihood of hangover - and held true every week from thereon in, until now.

Last night itself was pleasant, if sparse. I won the three games of pool Smess and I played (and only one by default this time so I'm definitely improving - either that or he's getting worse). And Windypops! itself was typically sparse, but social clubby. A particular highlight for me was the Lens Cleaning CD which we all decided we wanted ripped to MP3 and it has been decided will close the night at Oxford.)

The DVD chosen for the monitors was the incredible "Abigail's Party" which even in subtitles only still managed to have me squirming with discomfort. Sadly I left before "Adios Eldorado" was put on, but not before hearing some rather fabulous bits of pop once Darren had got the indie bits out of the way.

Actually I should give some thought to what I should put on the screens next week. Any offers?

In other news my skin is starting to return to a relatively smooth and blotch free state (almost) although still looking a little more worn than it should. A few more facepacks, saunas and a little more moisturising should have me looking human again. The lump in my neck has also almost vanished so I'm presumably a little more chilled than I have been for a couple of weeks.

Today we should hopefully hear who has been provisionally selected for "restructuring". Sadly this is not a free offer for cosmetic surgery, but the wonderful euphemism they've chosen for "we're thinking about making you redundant". Ho hum, at least it should be an end to the worry in the office.

And the new Rachel Stevens track is great. A wonderful slice of "well screw you, you cheating bastard" which is always a satisfying premise for a song, I find. With a sawtooth bassline and lines like "I wanna watch you suffer ever so slightly" I loved it from the off.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Beyond Belief

Wow.

Brother Beyond have a "Very Best of" out. (See here.)

And under a tenner too.

Worryingly I'm actually quite tempted by this and I'm not entirely clear why.

My Ears! My Poor Ears!

Just got the Kelly Osbourne "One Word" single - late I know, but hey.

I really like the track, but I must say I was more intrigued to hear her version of the Human League's "Sound of the Crowd" which features as a "b-side".

And now I have.

Ouch.

Frankly her rendition makes Phil and the girls sound like pitch-perfect professional singers by comparison.

Shouldn't I Be Ill?

I have a feeling that I should be feeling tired and hungover. Worryingly I'm not in the slightest despite the consumption of various wines at Retro (a rather lacklustre Pinot Grigio mainly, but at least it wasn't as unpleasant as most gaybar white).

And it was an enjoyable evening which cheered me up immensely. Various of my favourite people were there: Jack and Darren (two of them actually now I think of it) and Smess being the main retrobates, plus a cute barman (notable for very nice arms, a smile which beamed from his eyes and a pert bum).

Smess and I briefly discussed a one-off club-night he wants to do in Oxford of all places - which I'm up for, it could be fun - and then settled down to play a game of Trivial Pursuit using the family edition cards.

To speed it up - we thought - we'd do the kids questions for the non-wedge spaces and the adult questions for the others. The phrase "I'll have some adult cheese please" then became a worrying staple of the evening. It did also mean that we were rather more embarrassed when we couldn't get the kids questions right but there we are.

And actually for kids' questions some of them were a bit odd: one of them required knowledge of the Ministry of Sound logo which I'm not sure 8-year olds would know. (As for the "Paddington, Kings Cross and Waterloo are all famous what?" question... apparently "cruising grounds on squirt.org" was not the answer they were looking for. Funny that.)

Smess did end the evening trying to persuade me out clubbing since I'm likely to be made redundant anyway. I decided I probably wouldn't - no point making it a hardcore certainty.

And it appears I'm DJing at Windypops next week. Hurrah for that. Something else to look forward to!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Empty Child

I've always felt that Steven Moffat is a genius. Joking Apart, Coupling and - even though he disowns it - Chalk are arguably the funniest and most tightly plotted comedies ever written in the world ever. His Comic Relief spoof of Doctor Who "The Curse of Fatal Death" was absolutely spot on and I was looking forward to seeing what he came up with when writing episodes for the series proper.

And last night's The Empty Child was absolute genius. It'd already been touted as the scariest Who ever before broadcast, and I must confess even with bright sunshine streaming through the living room curtains it certainly had a creepiness about it that unnerved the two grown men watching - made even more effective by offsetting it with some well-judged humour.

Of course, moving it to an earlier timeslot does kind of beg for trouble, but I suppose in all honesty that the Eurovision coverage was bound to be far scarier so it did deserve a later position. I caught the final stages of the Eurovision voting and heard the winning entry and I must say, if Greece's effort was the best on offer, the other countries must have been really shite.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

I just deleted from OUT.

It just got too much. The whining and sniping went way too far, based purely on the unworkable assumption that just because you pay to use the service that you should be able to dictate how it should works. The tone of the demands for explanations for everything has been utterly despicable, not to mention the organisation of events to boycot OUT until they get their own way and threads to get users to defect to different sites and so on.

And these people are supposed to be adults.

The standard complaint is that the site is unusable, which is clearly tripe - you just have to use it differently. Most of the complaints strike me as laziness on the part of the users, frankly. For example, in order to accomodate rules on accessibility (for the blind) they dropped having links open automatically in external windows and the outcry was incredible: apparently people had to expend all the extra energy in holding down the shift button when clicking to get new windows to open, poor things. And some forgot the window wasn't a new one and blamed OUTs design for the fact they weren't paying attention to what they were doing and closed it.

Just small, tiny issues blown up out of all proportion that seemed to make them so angry. And the trouble was that it was souring the tone for me, and I too started getting angry and overreacting until suddenly a moment of clarity hit me and I thought: "I don't want this, this isn't good for me. I have no respect for most of these people so why am I arguing with them?"

I dunno... frankly these people who complain about the new interface should try to train people to use an application. They'd soon learn that just because something seems difficult to use doesn't mean it's anything but the user's fault. A particular trainee from Geneva called Ted taught me that. A day teaching him how to do something most people got in half an hour really was an eye-opener. I'm prepared to accept I may have been having a bad day trainer-wise, but to be fair the following exchange did take place:

"Yeah, that's it. Now hit the generate button."

Pause.

"No, the "Generate" button."

Pause.

"No, the button with "Generate" on it. No... this thing here, where my finger is... no, not using your finger, point at it with the mouse."

Pause.

"No, put the mouse back on the pad. What I mean is use the mouse to change the position of the arrow. Move it up a bit."

Pause.

"No, when I say 'up a bit', I mean the arrow, not the mouse. The mouse has to stay on the table."

Pause.

"You manage how much money?"
I also think that the various stresses and strains of my own life have got too much for me of late. I feel that I have become less tolerant of other people's foibles and certainly that has become more noticeable in my dealings with OUT and its users in the last year or so. And generally I seem increasingly disconnected from things and my real friends, so one less distraction would be good.

Increasingly I've felt that something needs to happen in my life. Something has to give, to change, to invigorate me and give me zest again. I think I've been going through the motions and increasingly (I think) I've become frustrated by those I see online who are clearly doing it too.

This is the first step in stripping back the non-essentials. Leaving can only be a good thing for me I think.

Muchos Suckiness

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of another interview for a job I now really want. Naturally there were many nerves during the course of the morning and these only got worse the nearer to 11 o'clock I got.

Thankfully The Device destroyed them as I approached the building. Walking up Queen Street (hah!) it served up the slice of joyful campery which is "Your Disco Needs You". A broad grin spread across my face and I had to take a quick swing round the block to hear it all.

The interview itself was quite relaxed and chatty - I don't do "classic" interview style - so now I just have to wait and see if I got one of the two roles three of us are being interviewed for. Fingers crossed: I really want it now.

However, as if the worry of that wasn't bad enough, my current employers have seriously pissed off the staff leading to a shitty afternoon and even more stress over the weekend. On Monday they had announced that there would be restructuring and they hoped to let us know yesterday who was provisionally selected to have their asses kicked out. Everyone was informed with letters of this plan and we were all hanging on for some kind of axe to fall.

Whilst having a fairly boozy drinks with my colleagues yesterday lunchtime the word spread that they'd be letting us know Tuesday instead. This announcement however wasn't made to everyone, just a few managers. They knew it wouldn't be popular so they delegated the responsibility to those below them this time, which frankly I think is lousy management (not that my company is well known for being very good at this sort of thing anyway). Worse, one or two of the managers hadn't realised it hadn't been sent to everybody and so didn't filter it down (stupidity largely, but since the email didn't state "please inform all your staff" it's not entirely surprising).

So now I've got the worry of not knowing whether I got the new job, and the worry of not knowing whether I have my old one to enjoy this weekend.

On the plus side, the stress has helped me lose two inches from my waist, which is a plus. But on the other hand my skin's gone to shit and I've ended up with a cyst under skin in my neck (a standard Rob reaction to stress triggers) so I'm not sure on balance it's worth it.

On top of that it's Eurovision night tonight. And I hate Eurovision.

Don't get me wrong, I like some of the songs (I'm big on europop since it's melodic progression based on folk songs and baroque classicism suits me much more than the blues oriented sounds favoured by the US) but the whole contest bores me. Especially the scoring.

The only decent thing is Terry Wogan's increasingly pissed commentary, but Eurovision purists hate him because he doesn't take it seriously. (Which just goes to prove how warped these people are since the whole thing's naff beyond belief.)

So frankly you'll appreciate that this weekend isn't one I'm expecting to enjoy very much. Bah.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Please Yourself

The Device this morning chose to propel me back into the heights of gayness with a playing of Steps' "Last Thing on My Mind". Thankfully I must announce that my memory of the dance moves has long since departed so I had no trouble sitting there on the bus without embarrassing myself and merely betraying a quiet satisfied smile.

What many of the younger gays don't know of course is that it's a cover version. For the record (arf!) the original was made back in the early 90s by the newly two-piece Bananarama - ladies who, with the best will in the world, possess rather more by way of enthusiasm than talent (but hey it's not doing Girls Aloud or Geri any harm).

After their (genius) Pop Life album, London Records sent Bananarama back to Pete Waterman to get some hits again. Whilst in discussions over what sound to come up with for the album they finally agreed to do songs that sounded like what ABBA would produce had they still been going.

Of course the fatal flaw is that they were never going to entirely sound like ABBA when finished - they'd sound like a Stock / Waterman production (Aitken by this time having buggered off) - but there we are. Ultimately only two songs from this proposed ABBA-esque album were finished: "Last Thing on My Mind" and the album opener "Movin' On".

Pete Waterman - despite protests in his autobiography that he never gave songs written for one artist to another - never knowingly wasted material. Kylie and Hazell Dean both did "Turn it into Love", Hazell and Lonnie Gordon both did "Better off Without You", Mandy Smith first recorded "Got to Be Certain" before her lack of vocal skill and a desperate need for a Kylie follow-up gave us the version we know and love, and so on. So it's not really surprising that when he'd decided Steps would be remoulded into "ABBA on speed" that he plundered the archives and remade "Last Thing..." for the next generation.

Frankly Steps' version is better. It is joyous and lively, clattery and bouncy, a complete contrast to the twee and sludgy production on the Nana's original. Steps' second album "Steptacular" (ugh) also includes a cover of "Movin' On" which is rather less of an improvement, but still shows Waterman at his environmentally friendly recycling best.

The Nana's versions of these tracks ultimately saw the light of day with their inclusion on the subsequent "Please Yourself" album. They stick out like sore thumbs too, and were ultimately obvious single choices, even if said singles hardly set the charts alight. The only other track of note on the album is a cover of "More, More, More" which is genius if only for the additional verse they wrote to break up the monotony, and in all fairness pisses over Rachel Stevens' recent attempt.

The rest of the album is pleasant enough, but hardly great. They were dropped from their label shortly after.

So, what giddy heights could the Nana's have reached had someone not got cold feet about the whole ABBA-esque idea? Well, probably not very high heights, if we're totally honest. One can't help but feel, for example, that the obvious genius of the idea would have been rather undermined by the proposed album title:

ABBA-Banana.

I kid ye not.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Monday Monday

Well, I had quite a pleasant evening last night. Despite being off-duty for DJing I went to Windypops! anyway, vowing to not stay too late and not drink too much.

Which I'm glad to say I achieved.

Has to be said the place was pretty much like a morgue last night, but a morgue with thumping music playing. I was also vaguely amused to see various deaths and marriages from Neighbours being played on screen to accompany said choonz.

It was also faintly gratifying that it's not just me who has problems with Deck 2. Both Smess and Darren came a cropper at the hands of this temperamental player (although it worked out in our favour in the end since in a moment of blind panic Darren had to play another track from the Bodies Without Organs album on deck 1 while it was fixed).

Increasingly however I am discovering that my favourite part of a Windypops evening is the pool beforehand. Okay so I lost against Smess two games to one, but I still find myself - maybe due to my advancing years - enjoying this quiet conversational approach to socialising far more these days than spending time in a club where you can barely hear yourself speak.

If truth be told we were all enjoying it so much we almost forgot to turn up at the Rotting Vulture at all. Still, ten minutes late didn't make much difference.

Oh no!

Dame Kylie has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

I'm somewhat stunned.

Naturally I'm crossing fingers and wishing her well. Poor girl.

Get well soon, Kylie, your disco needs you.

Monday, May 16, 2005

That Nagging Feeling...

I have the strangest feeling there's something I'm supposed to be doing today.

It's not work, I know that. I have the day off to compensate for a full weekend in the provinces and a lack of a gym visit yesterday. But still there's a feeling I should be doing something and I can't put my finger on it.

Oh well.

The weekend, despite yesterday's post, was actually rather good on the whole. I headed down to Canterbury on Friday afternoon, discovering on the way just how shit London Victoria Station is. They only have one place you can go to buy tickets and that's always got the world's biggest Post-Office queue you've ever seen. I opted, therefore, to use one of the ticket machines instead, thus damning me to a wait in the cash machine queue (the ticket machines are so archaic they don't accept cards unlike London Bridge, Charing Cross and so on), a wait behind a doddery old buffer who seemed unable to hold any coins between his nerveless fingers, a swearing session as I realised that Canterbury wasn't listed on this ticket machine, and a mad dash to find one that had. I made it onto the train with three minutes to spare, having allowed a good half-hour for all this.

Kent also seemed to be suffering a hurricane when I arrived. Cut right through you it did - and not only that it didn't let up for two days.

Nice Friday evening with the family (Daniel almost devouring my copy of Doctor Who Magazine and regularly pumping me for information as to what's coming next - his mind was racing about the whole Bad Wolf scenario) and a heavy night's sleep.

On Saturday morning I accompanied my family to a Duck Race.

Yeah. This sort of thing only seems to happen outside the taste capital of London, I've noticed. Must be something in the water. (As another example I'd never heard a Fluffy and Sweety ringtone in real life until I'd passed through Gillingham.)

The race was only with plastic ducks, mind. The idea was that people from Daniel's school bought a number which identified one of the ducks, the ducks got let loose upstream and then some poor sod in a wetsuit had to pick them up at the finish line.

Thing is, the river in Canterbury ain't very deep through Westgate Gardens but it is very cold (as I can attest after getting very drunk, skinnydipping with a mate and then getting blown off in the bushes a few years back). The water came up just below the poor volunteer's groin for the most part which was okay until he had to go and rescue one which had got trapped in some branches a bit further up. He found a deeper patch almost instantly and his resulting yelp made all the men suck air in over their teeth and shake their heads sympathetically.

Naturally, said victim's wife had volunteered him for this job.

Saturday afternoon I attended Paul and Ellie's wedding in the charming village of Wye. Now they're two absolutely lovely people who make an excellent couple anyway, but they also managed the feat of having a simple but affecting wedding (no wedding march, she came in to "the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba") and a reception which - after much analysis of what they hadn't liked about other people's weddings - had no speeches whatsoever.

This was something to make the event special anyway, but combined with a lovely meal and some great surroundings (the Imperial College at Wye is a fairly impressive venue) I came away thinking it was one of the best weddings I've ever been to.

Even spending the occasion with an ex and his boyfriend - the only people other than the bride and groom I really knew - was, I was relieved to find, completely painless and in fact great fun. Spent most of the time laughing which can only be a good thing.

And we got given commemorative sticks of rock too.

Yesterday I had a somewhat wearisome journey back, but seemed to make it in one piece.

Only thing which made me lose sleep this weekend was the arrival of a phonecall on Friday night. I was on tenterhooks anyway with the situation at work and so getting a phonecall at about 5:45 on Friday with a number I hadn't recognised led me into a "this is it then" panic attack. Only it was actually that company I'd gone for an interview with ages ago and declined ringing up to find if I was still on the market and would I be interested in some further discussions.

Naturally I am now in a severe dilemma, weighing up the pros and cons and so on. The verdict at the moment is that maybe the time is ripe for a change and I need something more stimulating in my work now.

Something else to think about today anyhow.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Loss

I lost my mum when I was fifteen. The divorce from my Dad had hit her hard and she was never the strongest person so she effectively drank herself to death over the subsequent couple of years, plus various other medical problems which doubtless weren't helped by the drinking (amazing isn't it that this fact hasn't actually stopped me overdoing it).

When I last saw her before she was taken into intensive care she could barely speak, but was still trying to joke, to keep my spirits up as the doctors fussed over her. It was effectively the last time I saw her truly alive, sadly it was distressed, dying and trying to hide it from me.

She barely recovered consciousness and finally was let out of intensive care to free up space for someone who might actually benefit from the care. But even in coma she was still someone. A couple of weeks later my aunt and I were called to the hospital informed, essentially, that she probably wasn't going to last the afternoon.

The traffic was terrible. We arrived ten minutes late and she'd already died alone.

Even twelve years later I can't quite get over the fact she'd already gone. I almost regard it as the last great insensitivity I meeted out to her - even though of course the late arrival wasn't anything we could have controlled. Just the thought that she finally left on her own without family looking after her still upsets and angers me to this day.

So when I finally saw her she wasn't my mum anymore. She was empty, a discarded shell.

Every now and then life conspires against me and it all gets too much and I have tearful irrational "I want my mum" moments, made even more bitter because she genuinely can't help me now. And then every now and then something dredges up the sense of loss, helplessness and futility I felt back then. And then the floodgates open.

Annoyingly twice now this has been triggered by telly. The Buffy episode "The Body" felt like a knife through my heart the first time I saw it, and still makes me blub after several viewings. I have to watch it on my own.

Just half an hour ago I watched last night's Doctor Who episode "Father's Day" and have thus spent the last half hour (including the last five minutes) crying my eyes out (not constantly, I hasten to add: I recovered my composure and then started writing this before I fell apart slightly).

I'm kind of glad in many respects I was away this weekend and at a wedding last night. It at least afforded me the solitude to break down in private while the folks are away at Sunday Eucharist today.

It's annoying as well as embarassing of course. It's another episode, along with "the Body" that I won't be able to watch in company because I know it'll affect me every time. I can't decide if this is because they're both such good, emotionally true episodes, or simply that I'm utterly shallow and my priorities are all fucked. (Which of course is something else to beat myself up over.)

My halfbrother Daniel, incidentally, thinks "Father's Day" is one of the worst episodes. It scared him a bit, true, but he genuinely doesn't get it. The other thing I find depressing right now is that one day I know he probably will - and after three heart attacks and a couple of scares it'll probably be because Dad's died.

And even though I've been through it all before - or perhaps because of that - I'm absolutely terrified of that day coming. And I know full well that when it inevitably arrives I won't be in any state to be of help to the poor kid at all.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Oh the Humanity!

Well, OUTeverywhere has been relaunched. As of 5:05 this morning there is a completely new interface and some new features are set to be addded to the site by the end of the month.

And the response from its users? A load of hissy fits and toys being thrown out of the pram (a over-used charge of its membership I know, but it's proving accurate). Such a response is fairly typical of any change on OUT, sadly. The licensed users do seem to think that because they pay to use the service that they have to be consulted over everything, an approach which is obviously unworkable.

Frankly some major improvements have been made. The boards are now paged (rather than running in an awkward split screen kind of affair), the four-frame layout has gone (thank fuck) and you are now told how many characters you have left to type in your messages and post. All of which for me leaves the site far easier to use.

The biggest downside is that there isn't a front page telling you who amongst your friends and contacts is online and what messages you've recieved of late. A major ommission I think, but apparently this is coming, along with much new functionality which frankly I can't wait for.

Okay, so it's gonna take some getting used to the new navigation system but I do remember years ago when I first joined that I found it clunky and un-intuitive and almost left the site because of its clutter and menu system. I think new users will find it more easy to get to grips with, it's just those of us who've been using it for a while who will have problems to start with.

Which, I have to say, is kind of tough really.

Looking at the boards right now, all I can say is that most gay people clearly have no sense of perspective. Trouble is that all the whinging means I have really no inclination to go back to the site for a few days until the dust has settled.

But then I suppose the biggest problem with any website is always the people who use it.

Woah!

Picked up my new glasses yesterday.

They're an experience I must say. The world looks very different through them.

For one thing the prescription's stronger than my lenses, although that's mainly because - being glasses - they sit further away from the eye. But also I'm used to having all-round vision when my lenses are in because the refocussing element is always pointing in the same direction as my eye. With the glasses the only bit that looks clear is the bit right in front of me, everything else looks a bit like it's through a fish-eye lens.

Still, I shall persevere. It's nice to gve my eyes a break - the number of late nights I've had this week in smoky bars means they've gone somewhat bloodshot. I'm sure the break will do them good.

Bloody glad I paid extra for the high-index lenses though. I dread to think how thick they'd be without the additional refractive powers.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Three Things I Learned Yesterday

  1. It is impossible, when walking down the street to "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper", not to grin broadly at the sheer inanity of it all.
  2. McDonald's Chicken McNuggets really aren't as nice now they use real chicken and less salt
  3. I really should wear more shirts. They kind of suit me (as long as they're not short-sleeved).

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Tense Times

We are undergoing a certain amount of worry here on Planet Rob.

There are redundancies in the offing, instigated by the new Lords and Masters of our company. Most of it apparently happening over at head office, but there are inevitably going to be a few here too.

Many of us have thus organised our desks and removed ourselves off email lists in anticipation of the sudden departure which could take place unwarned over the next couple of weeks.

On the brightside though, the lovely 'Stina intimated that such a time had occurred when she first worked for us and as a result of the stress ended up a stone lighter and shagging a man who - with the best will in the world - had certain leanings towards the trade of illegal narcotics.

So I could end up unemployed, true, but I might also be thinner, regularly bummed and as high as a kite.

I suppose that's a fair trade. You can't have it all can you?

Conversations with Customer Services

Conversation between myself and a girl from a mail order company's Customer Services line yesterday:

Me: Hi, I've had a letter from you saying you're out of stock of Pillowcases and can't deliver for a few weeks.
Girl: Yes, Mister Morris, that's right.
Me: Only the thing is, I've actually already got them. They arrived two weeks ago.
Girl: Oh, okay. I'll correct that on the system for you.
Me: Thanks - one other thing, though.
Girl: Yes?
Me: Well, I've just looked on my online account and it seems that the pillows, cushion pads and fitted sheet I ordered have been delivered.
Girl: That's right.
Me: Only... I don't have them.
Girl: I'll just have a look at the delivery details for you.

Pause.

Girl: Yes, they were delivered in two batches on 22nd and 29th April and left with a neighbour.
Me: Okay... Which neighbour?
Girl: I'm afraid it doesn't say.
Me: Ah. Only I have a lot of neighbours you see. A street-full in fact. And some above and below my flat.
Girl: It'll be a nextdoor neighbour, I'm sure.
Me: Shouldn't I have received a card telling me this?
Girl: Not necessarily.
Me: Riiiiigggghhht.

So I wandered round several neighbours' houses on my way home last night enquiring about packages being left for me and finally found them on the opposite side of the road two doors down.

Bless them, they were most apologetic. They'd have brought them round themselves after their holiday last week but of course couldn't actually tell which flat I was in because that piece of information wasn't printed on the parcels in the first place.

It's a wonder Reality couriers are still in business frankly.

Windypops! 9th May 2005

Well that was a tonic - a tonic, however, that's left me with that "I'm too old to be staggering home at one in the morning and getting up at seven" feeling today.

Naturally - being a post-Bank-Holiday night - it was fairly dead, but the decks moderately behaved themselves (with a couple of lens cleans when they started playing up) and I kind of enjoyed it despite suddenly reaching a point halfway through my set though when I thought that I'd actually much rather be socialising than stuck in a booth on my own.

Anyway, set finally ended up as follows:

  • Fischerspooner - Cloud
  • Garbage - Boys Wanna Fight
  • Pet Shop Boys - Red Letter Day (Album Version)
  • Siobhan Fahey - Pulsatron
  • The Modern - Industry
  • Dubstar - I Will Be Your Girlfriend
  • Soulwax - NY Excuse
  • Roxette - Joyride
  • Scooch - Maybe Tomorrow (Theme from the Littlest Hobo)
  • Paula Abdul - Opposites Attract
  • The Killers - Smile Like You Mean It
  • Henry Mancini - The Pink Panther Theme (Fischerspooner Remix)
  • Silence is Sexy - In Electro Baby
  • Schmoof - Chocolate Boyfriend
  • Voice of the Beehive - Scary Kisses
  • Sonia - Can't Forget You
  • Patrick MacNee and Honor Blackman - Kinky Boots
  • Kylie Minogue - Made of Glass
  • Kim Appleby - Don't Worry (Stressed Out Mix)
  • ABBA - On and On and On
  • Spice Girls - Who Do You Think You Are
  • Human League - All I Ever Wanted
  • They Might Be Giants - Birdhouse In Your Soul
  • Client - Pornography
  • Bodies Without Organs - Sixteen Tonnes of Hardware (Johan S Remix)
  • Shakespeare's Sister - You're History (Droyds 2004 Mix)
  • Pay TV - Trendy Discotheque
  • Liza Minelli - Losing My Mind
  • Lonnie Gordon - Happenin' All Over Again
  • Betty Boo - Doin' The Do
  • Girls Aloud - Wake Me Up
  • Victoria Beckham - Let Your Head Go
  • Donna Summer - I Don't Wanna Get Hurt (Album Version)
  • Annie - Me Plus One
  • Alcazar - Don't You Want Me?
Not actually sure whether I was ultimately happy with it, but it's done now.

Must. Sleep.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Eeep!

My journey this morning was largely spent trawling The Device for tracks I could play at my next set at Windypops!

There was a certain sense of urgency to this, I will confess, since yesterday Rob asked me if I could do one tonight as he hadn't had any response from the person he'd asked to do it.

Now I have to pack in a trip to the gym, burn a few tracks onto CD, slam a low-fat steamed meal down me, pack a case with tat (and Girls Aloud natch) and get to Limehouse in the few short hours I have after work. And at some point today I have to finalise the set I started ages ago and left to rot on my hard-drive when I knew I wouldn't be going for a few weeks.

I think I thrive under last minute panics, but I do wish I could get a bit more notice so's I can let various friends (who'd like to come along and support me) know in advance.

On the other hand I do feel smugly satisfied that I can be called upon in an emergency and that Rob knows I can be relied on to deliver the goods.

It could be an interesting experience anyway since I don't quite know what to expect when I get there; apparently the decks blew up last week after playing Brotherhood of Man.

Cause and effect anyone?

Noisome Odours

Fascinatingly - well at least it is if you're me - "Noisome" does not mean "noisy". In fact it means sickeningly foul, capable of causing nausea and is therefore a term normally applied to smells.

And boy did I get assaulted by one this morning.

Halfway down the Holloway Road a lady got on (at least I think it was a lady, after a certain weight of course everyone has breasts) and sat near me who was to say the least, a little ripe.

In fact she smelled overwhelmingly of stale piss.

Presumably however she had been vaguely aware of this as she'd left the house and had thus decided to try and cover the odour up with a vast quantity of equally sharp perfume.

Now, I think many of us are well aware of a simple rule of thumb: that it is not possible to mask odours. Instead any attempt at masking becomes a rather unfortunate demonstration of blending, and the general public are then left with two strong odours holding their noses at gunpoint instead.

Same is true of toilet fresheners of course as I'm sure I've discussed previously. Without a decent ventilation system you just end up with your eyes stinging and trying to suppress a gag reflex.

Thankfully said bag of toxicity left the bus a few stops down, but I must say I pity the poor fools who have to work with her.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Some Bizarre

I had assumed, not unreasonably considering the bright sunshine that was present for much of the morning, that I could safely go out this afternoon in a simple t-shirt and jeans combo.

So naturally after enjoying the fine weather for quite some time I was completely caught out by the five minutes in which the heavens randomly opened without any form of warning. By the end of it I looked like a drowned rat in a wet t-shirt competition.

Of course by the time I got home five minutes later the sun had returned and I was steaming in the heat and starting to friz. Frankly it seemed like the weather had decided to take out its frustrations on me.

Thankfully I was then prevented from entering into any kind of bleak victim mentality by the sheer oddness of the vision which passed the other way: an elderly grey-mustachioed gentleman in black leather cowboy gear.

Fair enough, people can wear what they like in my opinion. But what got me was the fact he was practicing the castanets as he walked. For a moment I wondered if I'd passed into some other dimension without noticing.

Then of course I realised that both of these events were fairly typical examples of both the randomly unfortunate and the stupidly bizarre extremes of my life and decided to just shrug it off.

He was quite good with the castanets, actually. I was vaguely impressed.

Friday, May 06, 2005

What ho, barkeep!

Once again I spent last night serving drinks to various posh and elderly residents of Pimlico as part of a private party they were holding to celebrate the anniversary of VE day.

It was all rather good fun as per usual. I got the chance to play being urbane and witty and good humoured (the last bit being a particular strain) and indulge my passion for the popping noise you get when opening champagne bottles.

I was kept well lubricated (in terms of alcohol at least) by many of the old dears who decided to fuss over me and make sure I was alright - I'm a whore for the attention - and indeed one lady decided she wanted to adopt me.

Now if only I could get a rich homosexual gentleman to suggest that, I'd be set.

Any downsides? Well, my feet are still killing me after standing in my smart shoes all night, and it really is quite shocking how cheap the rich can be (although this is probably how they become rich, of course). But those still didn't stop me enjoying myself - especially since I was rather well remunerated for my efforts.

I've always rather fancied being a proper barman, actually. I'd probably be terrible at it, but it's one of those things I've always wanted to try.

Balls and Buggery

Well, the sanctimonious creep Blair's in for another term. Which naturally elicited the response that forms the title of this post.

Thankfully he's suffered a severely cut majority which might make him learn a little humility.

Predictably, Islington North hung onto Jeremy Corbyn for Labour - although equally his majority was slashed somewhat. Not too worried, though. As I've stated before he's not one of the Blair mob and has so far acted in accordance with my own views on most matters so it's not a bad result for the consituency really.

Elsewhere the Liberal Democrats seem to have made significant gains too, which I think can only be a good thing for democracy in this country. I'm also especially impressed they won Cheadle, because until now I'd merely assumed it was a made-up name mentioned in a Victoria Wood sketch.

I'm a bit concerned the BNP did so well, though. Clearly something nasty is lurking about in the hearts and minds of many of my fellow countrymen.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Oh It Gets Even More Bizarre

Just read the following on what is essentially the BBC's "Election for Dummies" site, their Guide To Voting:

"There cannot be a tie - if votes are level, the Returning Officer can decide the result by tossing a coin or drawing lots, although this has never happened yet in a general election."
I'm sorry... tossing a coin? Ye Gods, our electoral system seems more flakey and boy-scoutish the more I learn about it.

Incidentally, does anyone else - when faced with the expression "drawing lots" - want to go and buy the Returning Officer a big pack of crayons?

Or is that just me?

Been and Gone and Done It

So I woke up at half four in fact which is less than ideal but I always intended to be getting up a little earlier today. I'm busy this evening you see so I could only vote first thing.

As it happens I then made it to the polling station five minutes after it opened.

I must say it's a rather incredible experience. And I mean that in the "not credible" sense. I was essentially reminded of all those Church Fayres I had to attend as a child in that there was something deliriously makeshift and Women's Institutey about the whole system. I mean, they were using tiny children's chairs to mark out areas of the hall, placing the staff at coffee-urn stained tables and so on. Frankly I wouldn't have been at all surprised if half the old ladies from Vitriol and Old Lace had turned up with cakes and biscuits to jolly things along.

I keep finding this, incidentally, wherever I go. My one visit to The Hoist was on a "Bondage for Beginners" night which had exactly the same Kraft-Fayre feel. People kept offering me a chance to try handcuffs and so on ("but only for ten minutes, love, we're a bit busy") and I kept expecting slices of cake and cups of tea to be offered as well. The fact that they were all taking it so seriously despite the patent ridiculousness of it all only made it worse. I ached from laughing by the end.

Anyway... back to the election: one of the things that got me was that there was no actual indication of how I should mark my ballot paper. I'd always assumed a big X - and I'm sure that's what I'd done before - but the instructions didn't actually say. I hope that was right.

I'd love to know what those tellers outside were doing though. They took a number off me, but I was too puzzled by them pouncing on me with different party rosettes at the same time to ask what it was for. And inside one man was giving some exit pollster (I assume) a bit of an ear-bending for asking how he voted.

I am however, resigned to the fact my vote doesn't really matter. I read on Diamond Geezer's blog yesterday a fairly damning item about the "first past the post" system which I found rather depressing because it is clearly deeply flawed.

And then I realised that I - like him - haven't seen a single doorstepper and very few campaign leaflets at all this year.

So much for the influence of the electorate in Islington North then.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Blind as a Bat

I have just returned from Specsavers where I have, much to my chagrin, had £300 surgically extracted from me to buy a new pair of glasses.

My first pair, in fact, in about seven years. When I was a student I could either afford glasses or contact lenses, not both - and ultimately vanity won out. I've been meaning to rectify this since I started work but never really got round to it until today - mainly due to the fact I'm just cheap.

I am to say the least chronically myopic with a severe astigmatism (not stigmata, sadly) which is a condition that pushes the price up no end if you don't want lenses so thick they'd protect you from a nuclear blast.

My mother (God rest her soul) always maintained that my general lack of vision was a direct result of a fairly traumatic forceps delivery. I'm assuming this was more traumatic for her as it happens, but the fact it happened at all has given me ample scope to blame all my physical deformities on the NHS. (The personality defects, of course, I blame on being brought up in a clergy household.)

Still, I can now tick "get some glasses" off my list of things to do.

And for future reference add "eyes" to the list of things I should get lasered.

Apologies...

...to at least one of the Darrens who reads my blog and doubtless many other people who are supporting London's bid to get the Olympics in 2012, but I must confess that in all honesty I want Paris to get it.

Truth is I don't like tourists at the best of times and the whole Olympics leaves me utterly bored anyway. So if we do win the bid and London's packed out for eight weeks (or whatever) then I may have to relocate from the capital for the duration.

Assuming I'm not dead by then of course, which could happen and might actually be a lucky escape.

Everywhere I go I see "support the bid" logos and website addresses and so on, which make me feel increasingly fed up with the whole thing already and it's still got seven years to go before it even happens.

Surely there's some organisation running a "no, fuck off - London's barely functioning as it is and I don't want to pay more council tax for it anyway" campaign?

Please?

Conservation Time Again

I was reading a thread on OUT yesterday where one of the posters stated categorically that "the Tories represent everything I stand against" which I was vaguely impressed by.

It strikes me as a lucky person who can be so definite about that sort of thing. Personally as the election campaign draws ever closer to an end I'm finding there's policies in every party that I'd say are opposed to my own - it's making the decision-making process absolute hell.

I keep finding myself toying with the idea of voting Labour. Amazing, I know, but Jeremy Corbyn is very much old style Labour and rebelled against Blair on every possible issue I feel strongly about, so I can't help but think he's a good egg. He does as an MP seem to represent me.

But then I'm struggling. I'm not sure that I can in all conscience cast a vote that would mean I was responsible for Blair getting back in. (Mind you, he's going to - we all know that. I just don't want it to be my fault.)

An amusing aside, though: on the bus yesterday I passed a bakery with a reworking of the Tory slogan "Are You Thinking What We're Thinking?" emblazoned across their chalk sign. The rejigged phrase read: "Are You Baking What We're Baking?" which fundamentally lead to me thinking "No I'm bloody not, you dozy little jambaskets. I'm sitting here listening to Dubstar on the 271."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Did it Again

Well, last night saw a trip to Earls Court (or Earl's Court as the tube station would have it for some reason) to see Dame Kylie Minogue hoofing it around and heavily glamming up the stage of Earls Court 1.

Today I think I may have overdosed on camp.

I'm not sure how it is, but on this and the Fever tour we managed to contrive to get tickets on a night that something was going on. For the Fever tour we got Kylie on her birthday, meaning she was dragged out, we sang happy birthday, she got given a big cake and so on after the main gig. This time the bassist was dragged out front, handed a microphone and told to get on with it - resulting in extreme embarrassment for his girlfriend as she was hauled up on stage and he proposed to her in front of thousands of people.

Now I'm not by nature a romantic type, but I must confess I was rather choked up and screaming and clapping along with the rest when the poor girl accepted.

The show? Well, what can I say. All the greats were wheeled out, plus a couple of surprise choices (given it was supposedly a greatest hits tour) like "In Denial" and "Your Disco Needs You". I wasn't taken with the version of the Locomotion at all (another one of her "lets do an ironic take of one of the old tracks I'm embarrassed by" remakes) but to hear "I Should Be So Lucky" done properly for a change gladdened my tired and jaded soul no end. I still maintain it's one of the best pop songs ever written, and needless to say the crowd went wild.

The dancers provided some additional interest as well - in fact the shower/gym scene was - as a friend of mine warned me - downright pornographic. I gather that one Glenn Ball (a slight crush of mine who was formerly of ill-fated band "Pop!") was one of trained hoofers, and there was certainly someone who looked rather like him, but I must check that out.

Criticism? Well... like the Fever tour it was all very polished. Very professional, tight, swish, zippy and pizazzy. It was all very clearly designed to impress, but I couldn't help but feel it was slightly clinical and calculating because of that.

On a couple of occasions, therefore, I did find myself longing for the warmth and intimacy of the "On a Night Like This" tour years ago.

But still, a excellent night out, and my abs are once again throbbing from all the exercise they got put through. Bless her, and all hail the Minogue.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Bleed Like Me

Currently I'm enjoying the new Garbage album, the title of which is (appropriately enough) the title of this post.

Well, I say I'm enjoying it; certainly I'm enjoying most of it. Highlights for me are "Run Baby Run", "Why Do You Love Me", "Sex is Not the Enemy", "It's All Over But the Crying", "Boys Wanna Fight" and the title track. The rest I could leave really.

Still a 50% success rate is mush better than most albums, I guess, so I'm happy. I still prefer the Version 2.0 and BeautifulGarbage albums though - probably because they're less rocky. I think most Garbage fans are happy they've gone back to that style, though, so I suspect I'm in a minority there!

And Shirley does have a lovely voice, it must be said.

Fertile Rob

That's right. Not furtive, fertile.

Went to Kew yesterday to have a Greek Easter lunch with some friends. It was very nice with cheese parcels, fried cheese (I can feel my arteries clogging even now, but it was very nice), Moussaka, tons of olives, muchos booze and... and... tiramisu.

Welsh Tiramisu in fact. (Well, it was made by a welshman.)

My stomach is feeling somewhat bloated today as a result. It's a wonder, looking back, that I didn't just explode.

Anyway, according to a game we played with dyed red hardboiled eggs, because mine was least broken at the end of the game, I am the most fertile amongst our group (something which 'Stina and Helen were quite thankful not to be apparently).

I dunno, though. I mean, what good is being fertile going to do me of all people?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

What an Odd Evening

It started off with the Doctor Who episode "Dalek" which, without wishing to enthuse too much, fucking rocked.

Chris and I were also due to be meeting up with a friend (well, acquaintance in my case) for some birthday drinks. Said friend was also having a meal beforehand which we were also invited to, but Chris declined on that score since he was fairly certain that he wouldn't get me out of the house until 8:30 at the earliest.

After saying we weren't going to the meal, all subsequent communications were met with complete silence and so we decided to go into town anyway, set up shop at Trash Palace and wait for instructions - and if none should come so be it.

None came. We can only assume that the party in question - frequently a pissy little queen when the mood takes him - threw a bit of a hissy fit that we weren't coming to an (officially optional) part of the evening and decided he wasn't talking to us.

This wasn't much of a loss since Chris and I spent our time chatting to lesbian DJs, gorgeous barmen and then - in a rather odd twist - getting glam-rock makeovers by someone called Tania Love in a place at the back of Trash Palace.

The result of which caused the station staff at Archway tube to do an amused triple take at the two of us as we passed through on our way home.

And yet nobody tried picking a fight. Odd that.