Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Michael Sheard R.I.P.

Michael Sheard has died.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/4201280.stm

Now if it wasn't for the fact I'm going out tonight, I'd feel compelled to watch Pyramids of Mars as a mark of respect.

Mind you, Simon's just pointed out to me that at least one person who's posted a comment on that page seems to be under the impression that he also played a Number 2 in the Prisoner.

Amazing the false memories people can create for themselves isn't it?

The Lords of Chaos

Well, I arrived home last night to find the place reeking of paint fumes and covered in dust. Which is more or less what I expected I must say, although rather less than I'd hoped.

Cracks have been filled (steady on), walls painted, and I now have a nice little bit of tape edging the carpet all the way round the room. (I'm tempted to keep it - the intricate way they've edged round the radiator pipes is a work of art in itself and could be a useful talking point in future.)

Trouble is, they don't appear to have finished. I'm not sure what there is left to do but they haven't given any indication of whether I can move back in yet. I'm working on the basis that if it ain't clear by this evening then I'm moving back in anyway.

The mildly annoying factor is that they clearly got bored waiting for my room to dry and decided to start on the hall and bathroom. Now, thing is it's a small flat and when you move stuff out of one room it's got to go somewhere else. All of my room is currently occupying the living room, and I'm using all the containers we had in the house to do it, so emptying the hall and bathroom at the same time wasn't really possible.

The plan was that they'd do my room. We'd then move me back in and switch the hall and bathroom guff into the living room so they could do that. With their sudden decision to completely change the plan we couldn't do this and so they took matters into their own hands.

And when I say matters I mean "the contents of the bathroom". And when I say hands I mean "the bath".

I'm not entirely sure why they assumed that sweeping everything into the bath so they could then cover it all in dust and bits of plaster would be a good move, but assume it they did. Ten out of ten for initiative I suppose.

I'll be so glad to go away next week I really will.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

There is a God!

Managed to track down a Backgammon game for my Pocket PC.

And even better - it's freeware!

Now I need no longer be hampered in my efforts to play it. Backgammon's one of my favourite games ever, but so few people know it. And as a result I can never get anyone to play with me.

Not an issue any longer. Should make a few more journeys bearable anyway.

Woohoo!

Back Now!

Lunch and a walk in the sunshine have renewed me. I think higher level mental functions may not be far off.

So... the weekend has, on the whole, proved to be faintly odd on many levels.

A brief summary of the salient points would include: DJing at Windypops! (twice - once at both Limehouse and Ealing versions), a night at my aunt's (followed by a visit to Croydon where I shopped mercilessly for the holiday next week), various people amongst my friends and family deciding I need a man and independently attempting to set me up, several people people I've known for ages making extremely lewd suggestions (two separate instances of which involved watching / videoing whilst I shagged someone else), an offer of cash payment for certain services from one person on Gaydar, an offer of ludicrous sums of money from a member of the family (rather than waiting until they peg it and then paying inheritance tax on it), realising I'd spent about £80 on new pants in the last two weeks, and finally boxing up my entire life to cart it into the front room ready for the builders coming in the next few days.

All of which has left me feeling a little bit giddy and suspecting that I'm not in the same reality I was when I left work on Friday. I can only assume I passed through some kind of interstatial vortex on thePiccadillyy line that night and am therefore currently occupying some kind of bizarre parallel universe. (The transfer between dimensions would certainly explain the headaches and nausea Chris and I experienced as we passed through Acton.)

Anyway, Friday's set involved the following gems:

  • Readers Wifes - Scumpop
  • Kirsty MacColl - Terry
  • Depeche Mode - Enjoy the Silence (Richard X Mix)
  • The Human League - Fascination (Extended Mix)
  • Voice of the Beehive - I Think I Love You (Orgy Mix)
  • Fuzzbox - International Rescue
  • Girls Aloud - Long Hot Summer
  • Girls@Play - Airhead
  • ABBA - Angeleyes
  • Bananarama - Help! (Extended Version)
  • Mel and Kim - Respectable (Extra Beats Remix Lemonfresh Edit)
  • Bodies Without Organs - Conquering America (Johan S Remix)
  • Kylie Minogue - I Believe In You (Wayne G vs. Club Junkies Mix)
All of which seemed to go vaguely well. As it happens I'd not had much time to prepare and when it actually came down to it I felt absolutelypetrifiedd of doing a set in a new venue with new people. No really: my heart was thumping, I was shaking and I was rather worryingly on the verge of turning tail and running away. Still, in the end I didn't and somehow I seemed to get away with it.

Monday's on the other hand was slightly less structured. I kind of did it in about two chunks with a gap between, but in my slightly raddled state today I'm not sure where the break was. Still, the stuff I planned to do (and indeed did) was:

  • The Droyds - Girls on Pills
  • Goldfrapp - Ride a White Horse
  • Alex Gold - L.A. Today
  • Client - In It For the Money
  • Kelly Osbourne - One Word
  • Readers Wifes - Bitch at the Brits
  • Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch
  • Siobhan Fahey - Pulsatron
  • The Human League - You'll Be Sorry
  • The Modern - Industry
  • Annie - Chewing Gum (Mylo Mix)
  • Belvedere Kane - Never Felt As Good
  • ABBA - On and On and On
  • Kirsty MacColl - There's a Guy Works Down the Chipshop Swears He's Elvis
  • Voice of the Beehive - Scary Kisses
  • Dannii vs. Dead or Alive - You Begin to Spin Me Around
  • Girls Aloud - Long Hot Summer
  • Spice Girls - Who Do You Think You Are?
  • Pay TV - Refrain Refrain
  • Kylie Minogue - Made of Glass
  • Rachel Stevens - So Good (Extended)
  • Bodies Without Organs - Conquering America (Johan S Remix)
It was at this point it became apparent that Smess and I were the only people around to DJ that night so I ended up staying on for "a bit longer" to help out.

Two and a half hours longer as it turned out.

I know the Pet Shop Boys got thrown in pretty soon after, and some St. Etienne, but after that it's all a bit of a blur. We ended up with a group of very pissed people we didn't know dancing to crap so Smess and I shared DJ duties and threw lots more crap in their general direction. Worryingly we just couldn't clear the dancefloor whatever we threw at them. Not even Sonia or "Kinky Boots" caused any form of carnage, which I think just goes to show how drunk everyone was by that point.

Which made it all one of our most successful evenings all told.

Sadly I was drinking solidly the whole time and got home at half two which isn't a great idea if you have work the next day. I woke up this morning and stared uncomprehendingly at my alarm clock for a good ten minutes before I realised I was already running about an hour behind schedule.

Now my next major worry is getting home and finding what state my room is in when the builders have finished with it. (This is assuming of course that they have. In any case I'm seriously expecting to be high on paint fumes later, which I suspect may lubricate my handle on reality even further. So yay for that.)

Jesus Christ Almighty...

"Look Rob, you couldn't stay a bit longer could you? Only they seem to like the cheesy stuff and you have more of it than anyone else!"

Ugh. I really should learn to say no, shouldn't I? Staggering home drunk at half two in the morning really isn't me, I've decided.

In future, if I ain't in bed by eleven o'clock, I'm going home.

(I'll get round to doing a proper summary of the weekend when my brain finally gets in.)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I Have No Soul

I was told this morning that I have no soul.

This was in response to my failure to be deliriously excited at K9's return to Doctor Who.

Sarah-Jane Smith, I am happy about. Liz Sladen proved brilliant in the old series - managing to save pretty much every ropey script she was given - but K9 rather annoyed me.

For those not in the know... he was supposed to be a sophisticated computerised robot dog. In reality he could move slower than a snail, couldn't run over anything other than studio floors (even carpet rods proved problematic) and in his first incarnation his radio control interfered with all the studio cameras.

And that was without the fact his character was simply annoying: there's a wonderful BBC Internal Christmas tape which has a skit with Tom Baker and K9 in which the final line is Tom's melifluous payoff: "you never do know the fucking answer, do you K9?". That just about sums him up really; he was clearly only there for the merchandising.

So no, whilst I'm sure the technology will now be up to the job, I'm not too thrilled at his return. Still, at least he looks rather the worse for wear.

Still, here's something I knocked up a long long time ago, that I thought I'd share:



I still giggle at the "my ears waggle" one.

Mainly coz I can do that too.

Fuck Fuck Fuck

Okay... I was fairly convinced we didn't exercise any of those muscle groups yesterday.

But my God I'm painfully stiff this morning.

Especially round the abs. How the hell did that happen? We exercised my arms for heaven's sake!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Scary Visual Places

Our company is doing a client conference next month. So out of idle curiosity I just looked at the mini-site for it.

According to one slightly over the top statement, once a year our clients gather to "network with peers".

I suddenly had an image of a load of IT people standing there scratching their heads and trying to connect together a load of besuited people with monocles and cut-glass accents.

Of course if the stories about public school are to be believed they pretty much plug themselves together, but there we go.

(I often wonder if I would have taken to public school actually. I suspect I would – after all it's a perfect opportunity to get to get some fagging in.)

Fuck Me, My Arms Are Tired.

Just had my second session with the personal sadist and now I can barely lift my arms at all. I don't think they've been worked so hard ever.

Mind you, I suspect that being pushed as much as he's pushing me is probably a good thing all told. At least it means I might get somewhere - I clearly respond well to orders.

Mind you, my current condition is going to make lifting pints this evening rather tricky. I'll see if I can get poor some unsuspecting Windypopser to do it for me.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

It All Links!

Last year in Amsterdam Chris and I escaped from the frenzied shopoholicisim of our two co-visitors and headed into the Van Gogh museum for a little culture.

Having found a few of the pictures pleasing on the eye we wandered happily into an exhibition of other artists’ work. We rounded a corner and stopped in front of a picture of a large grim-faced woman. There was a pause for a few moments as we took it all in and then the silence had to be broken.

"Oh my God," I muttered. "It’s Bella Emberg."

Chris laughed. He’d been about to ask where Russ Abbott was himself and we muttered the usual dark things about us being essentially parallel universe versions of each other with exactly the same thoughts.

This had been set in stone a couple of years previously at an OUT event when during a rather dull conversation with some plebs I had opined about something "oh, it’s a phenomenon". At which point Chris and my eyes met, there was a short pause and we both sang "ba-ba-bada-ba" before dissolving into a fit of giggles in front of an uncomprehending crowd. (Even now it still gets a laugh and hardly a month goes by without one of us doing "ma-na-ma-na" somewhere round the house.)

But that’s by the by. Last night I returned home from a pleasant evening catching up with an old friend of mine from Canterbury to find Chris squatting over a hot sewing machine and watching An Audience with Victoria Wood (this is just the sort of behaviour I’m now so used to I don’t even bat an eye anymore).

So we watched and laughed and recited huge chunks of the routine with her, Chris packed away the sewing machine and sat with me and the credits started to roll as the cameras took in long-shots of the audience.

All of a sudden Chris and I sat forward in our seats, bristling. And then, mirroring each other’s movements exactly pointed at the screen and with one, slightly highpitched and perfectly modulated, voice, both of us yelped "oh my God! It’s Bella Emberg!"

Again, a fit of giggles ensued and any semblance of sanity was abandoned in one of those bonding moments of silliness that seem to typify our co-dependant existence.

I guess you had to be there, but it’s nice to see that our lives are becoming ever more Escher-print-like as we get older. We now know each other so well, it's like the scriptwriters are putting in references to previous episodes as injokes just to please the fans.

I do hope the season finale isn't too traumatic.

Let's Do Scumpop

Finally – as of my return home last night - I have managed to obtain the trilogy (so far) of Readers Wifes’ singles following my instant adoration of "Nostalgia" the other week.

Their first single "Bitch at the Brits" was, appropriately enough, a bitch to track down, having been a very limited edition single in 2003. But track it down I did and received it last week, instantly falling in love with its scabrous vulgarity and unashamed cattiness to a disco beat.

Yesterday the single from earlier this year "Scumpop" arrived. I’d originally dimissed it from the few clips I’d heard, but I’m having to about-face on this right now. It is quite simply a work of genius – and no further proof of this is required other than its mention of Croydon facelifts.

They are truly a force to be reckoned with. I can’t wait for the next one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Packed Weekends

So... the last Bank Holiday for a long while fast approaches. I'm kind of sad about that in some respects coz it's the last opportunity I have for a day off without eating into my annual leave - which since I now get less leave is sort of a bigger issue than it used to be.

Sadly I fear that the day itself may involve a certain amount of packing all my room into boxes. We have builders coming in at some point next week to repair the ravages of the subsidence we suffered two (yes two) years ago.

Somehow knowing you're doing that kind of takes the edge of a weekend. (I hate moving house and it's a very similar activity).

Still, on the plus side I seem to have agreed to another set at Windypops! that evening as well, so I'm starting to scrabble around the Device for stuff to go on the "I must play this" list.

So... if anyone has any suggestions please do throw them my way. I may reject them out of hand (especially if Pariah Carey is offered) but that's a chance you take innit?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Crikey

So... the Fitness First has a lovely set of power showers.

With glass doors.

And some very hunky clientele.

The Personal Sadist was worried I may not be motivated enough.

Hah!

Long Hot Summer

So Girls Aloud have released a track called "Long Hot Summer" which is a nice, laid back, slice of pop perfection with a nice groove to it (although it's got to be said it's also got one one of the worst remixes I've ever heard as a b-side).

Of course, they released it on a day when it was pissing it down for most of the time and the morning after gave us a textbook example of a brisk autumnal start.

Should have released this one a bit sooner, eh girls?

A nice touch is the inlay cards featuring a cocktail recipe for each of the girls - but I'm not at all convinced by the recipes at all: there isn't a trace of alcohol in any of them. Sanitized for the kids, obviously - frankly Nadine doesn't look the type to drink something without a few shots of Vermouth and JD in.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Hell's Teeth...

I signed up to a new Gym last week. I really really have to get fitter, it's becoming stupid.

Thing is, the Archway one - whilst being pleasant enough, I mean... a gym's a gym - is the sort of place I only really have time to go to after work. And after a long day and a journey on the Northern line I really can't be fagged so my fitness regime completely slipped into nothing during the last six months.

And boy does it show.

So now I'm signed up to the one down the road from my new job. The idea is to do it at lunchtimes instead and thus have my evenings free. All well and good - except of course now I've got to actually go and I now have absolutely no excuse.

And doubly so in fact - the personal trainer just rang and booked my first appointment. Gah!

Still, I guess it does mean that in the two weeks before Gran Canaria I might actually manage to achieve a little more muscle tone than I currently have. It'd be nice to take in a bit of the slack.

I pity the trainer though. He asked me on the phone whether I liked my regimes before: he wasn't expecting the blunt "oh, Christ no, I hate going to the gym - I just know I have to" that he ultimately got.

One of us is going to break the other, I'm sure of it. And not in the good way.

Just Do It

The best album to come from the UK this year is out today: Goldfrapp's "Supernature".

Take it from me: just buy it. It's brilliant.

(Well, okay: I don't like two tracks on it. But that's because they're slow and I don't have any depth. But the rest of it's fucking A.)

Get a Grip Morris

For reasons unknown (even to me - actually, especially to me) yesterday I ended up watching selected early Buffy episodes and rapidly skipped to "Becoming" parts 1&2. You know the one... it's that one where Buffy sees Angel turn good just before she has to kill him anyway to save the world from being sucked into hell. (As you do.)

Lets just say at the end I was blubbing away like you wouldn't believe.

Most annoying really. I try so hard to be aloof and stoney-hearted and then every now and then a romantic streak decides to make me crumble. Bastard thing.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

20 Years of the Mucky Duck

I have an uncomfortable relationship with Drag Queens.

Not a personal relationship you understand. I don't really know any per se, but I'm one of the gays who don't think much of them. In and of themselves I just don't find men in dresses inherently amusing or even particularly risque. There has to be something more to raise it from a general sort of "um... yeah, what's so good about that then" to "aha, genius!".

So far the only two to ever achieve this privileged status are Pam Ann (although I do wish she'd get some new jokes in her bloody act) and the late great Regina Fong. For Pam of course the clothes are incidental, they're there because of the act, not the other way round. And Regina wasn't just an old guy in a dress being catty, he was a compere, a host for clever, inspired silliness, getting whole pubs full of people doing typewriter actions and singing along to Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.

Trouble is that most drag acts are just bloke in a frock trying to be glamorous and funny and not realising that bitching and putdowns require a certain amount of wit, not just scathing viciousness.

Sadly the White Swan had the latter kind last night, massacring songs in a Karaoke stylee whilst seeming to think they had goddess status. I think the point at which I wanted to shout "just fuck off" came when the burly back guy in fantastic earrings was singing the Locomotion, quite clearly over the top of Kylie's original (no really - I could hear Dame Minogue being swamped under the foghorn).

Still, it didn't put much of a dent in my evening. It was the 20th anniversary bash at the White Swan and, as with Windypops West! drink and conversation and frolics abounded. To make it sweeter, there were three young men stripped naked on stage who were quite cute and hung like mules (although a little too muscly for my taste - I prefer tone, not bulk), the music was camper than I'd imagined it would be, I got a free CD, was very happy with my outfit, and still managed to stay enough in my shirt not to feel too self-conscious in public. Result!

So... two fantastic nights out in one weekend. I feel somewhat on top of the world, I must say.

Can't help wondering what the universe has in store to destroy that feeling, though.

Would anyone here say I'm paranoid?

Windypops West!

On Friday night Windypops! opened a new night in darkest Ealing, handily entitled "Windypops! West" (although I much prefer "Bride of Windypops!" given its close location to both a cemetary and a hardware store.

The venue, the Larkin Inn II, it turns out, is only recently gay and had been open in its current form for only two weeks. Thankfully it was their busiest night so far, which seems to be a theme - although we can hadrly be said to be packing out the White Swan on Mondays, we've still given them their busiest Monday nights so we're still winning.

It's quite a nice venue actually. An old coaching in with a nice beer garden through the stables, pool room, dancefloor and old pub seating area. Sadly it does seem to have been redecorated in a hurry and even more sadly it's been done in lavender and silver which is somewhat 1990s (and reminded me uncomfortably of West Bar in Canterbury). Darren commented that it could do with a lick of paint, bless him - he hadn't realised it had recently had one.

But anyway, it certainly has potential - and Friday is a much more civilised clubbing night I feel. (Now all I need to do is persuade Smess to let me near the decks on Fridays instead.)

Best of all, three of us got a taxi back from Hanwell to Archway and it only cost £23. (Since it costs that much from Limehouse to Archway there's definitely something wrong there.)

But yes, an excellent evening. Good conversation, good booze, larks, frolics and bad behaviour. Top stuff.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Oddness

Okay...

The new Bodies Without Organs video (click on "Spele" in the top right) is just bloody weird.

Not one of my favourite tracks from the album I'll admit, but pleasant enough.

Amazingly they've now got a UK record deal - which just defies belief really. (Naturally they'll bomb.)

Friday, August 19, 2005

Gentlemen Who are Good With Skincare

Whilst I was in Burlington, MA. last week I tried the mall. This was done with a certain sense of trepidation and dread since I hate malls with a fiery passion. I once spent an afternoon at Lakeside with two of the loveliest people I know and, despite a pleasant half hour in the Lego shop to cool my frazzled nerves, came out a definite mall-phobic. Mind you, Lakeside is particularly ghastly – it’s like the actualisation of Fritz Lang’s worst nightmares.

However, it was my first time in the states and I felt I ought to give it a go.

The experience did, I must confess, not change me in the slightest. I still view these places as a purgatory for those with souls (which of course makes them a Mecca for those without brains) and Macys and Sears in particular were shockingly unpleasant. However, as I wandered down one of the avenues I was accosted by a young lady who wished to try her beauty products on me.

Well, it had been a long few days. I looked a right state

I nodded patiently during the sales spiel and after this she asked if she could demo some of the products. Since I was feeling somewhat tired and raddled I said yes. Thus it was that she rubbed sand from the Dead Sea and a little water into my hands and began to rub.

"Do you know what this does?" she asked gently.

"Yes," I answered, "it’s exfoliation."

Poor girl. She really wasn’t ready for that. She staggered back a bit, gasped and, once she’d finally recovered, proceeded to chatter about how after a whole day in the mall not a single person she’d asked had known the answer to that one. I thus became her favourite customer of the day, so much so that once the mudpack, moisturisers, eye-gels and nourishing creams had been proven to work most effectively on me, she bunged in a year’s supply of the scrub for nothing.

It was at this point I started to worry about the weight of my luggage on the return but hey.

Of course, all in all, the overall package still cost about £150. So now when I moisturise and eye-gel in the morning, nourish in the evening and mudpack on a weekly basis, I am now doing it with something excessively expensive that I couldn’t really justify buying.

I felt so proud. Each year I get that little bit gayer, and you know what: I don’t care. (Next year I’m going to see if I remember how shagging works. I seem to remember quite enjoying it once upon a time.)

The best thing of course is that it’s actually having an effect. It’s taken a good couple of years of experimenting with different products to try and find something that worked, when all I really needed to was to throw money at the problem.

I’ll remember that approach in future.

Deliciously Off Message

Farewell, Mo Mowlam. Thorn in the side of the New Labour project and one of the few no nonsense, straight talking politicians. Didn't always agree with her, but I always felt she had integrity - which is a feeling I don't often have about our elected representatives.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4126986.stm

I dunno, Mo and Robin Cook in the space of a fortnight. A cynic might suggest that Tony must be mightily relieved.

But not me. Oh no.

What? No! Really?

Mark Feehily of Westlife has decided to come out as a Grade 1 Class A Mox.

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/article/ds23661.html

I mean... wow. It's not like it's been bloody obvious for the last god-knows-how-many-years they've been going now is it?

Besides, frankly, choosing to duet with Donna Summer on Discomania was a dead giveaway Mark.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Double-Hard Bastards

I came to a conclusion last night that Game On - theme tune aside - really wasn't very good at all, and only its relative cheapness kept it going for three series.

The whole series seems to rely entirely on sledgehammer wit, thoughtless coarse utterances (don't get me wrong I like a good swear as much as anyone, but there is a limit), and Samantha Janus being a statuesque blonde with good tits. I dunno... clearly being exposed to the works of Steven Moffat has left me wanting more from my comedy really.

Mind you, some of the terms it exposed me to as a youngster still have a certain usefulness even now. I haven't been unaffected.

Anyway, it passed half an hour between Kath and Kim and QI - and that last series in particular is still one of the best things the BBC have put out in the last couple of years (the obvious Welsh exception aside).

Naturally, however, its appearance on our telly initiated another one of those "Ben Chaplin vs. Neil Stuke" arguments. My position is that I'd much rather boff Ben Chaplin, but his portrayal of Matthew was of a tortured vulnerable damaged idiot, which never really sat well with me, because I always thought the character was an unpleasant, posturing, psychotic idiot instead. And for me Stuke got that spot on.

But hey, it appears I'm in a minority. I got shouted down purely on the "but Chaplin was pretty" angle, which does rather leave me realising I have different priorities to most of my friends.

Chris, for example, will forgive anybody anything if he happens to find them passingly attractive. The sanctimonious twits Fran Healy and Chris Martin for example are inexplicably given free rein to do whatever they like because (and I quote) "they're so sweet!"

I can only assume he has a fetish for hobbits.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

How Prescient

I was due to receive a call last night. But, having got home, pottered around a bit and waited for the flatmate to finish his ablutions I finally decided that I would, rather than wait, have a long luxurious bath and facepack.

"But," a voice in the back of my mind said, "you do realise that the minute you get in the bath, he'll call?" This is, after all, a fundamental law of the universe. Like the postman ringing the minute you've just got on the loo, or what have you.

So, sure enough, I sank into the bath, smeared mud from the dead sea around my chops ("Made in Israel" the tub helpfully informed me, which was something of a relief) and my phone, almost to the very second I'd finished applying, went off.

Obviously it was a big decision: should I ignore it and call back, or answer? In the end I reached over into my jeans and answered it. So there I was: in the bath, smeared with mud and talking about rendering software to someone who has, in the past, banged my brains out.

It was only afterwards, as I wiped the caked-on goo off my face, that I realised just how odd the entire situation was.

Oh well. C├ęst la vie.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mmmm. Synchronicity.

My Forgotten Words calendar today has come up with a real doozy which was oddly appropriate considering my state this morning.

Katzenjammer: headache, nausea, etc following a drinking carousal. Colloquial.
Mitford Matthews' A Dictionary of Americanisms, 1956
Spooky, it really is: I was at Windypops! last night, and as a result of that returning to the land of the living this morning has been a slow and painful process, facilitated with vast quantities of fruit and coffee.

Worth it though. It really was a trip through my current favourites - and I wasn't even DJing!

How To Confuse Cashiers

It's very easy: you just give them the right money.

I've never seen anyone quite so perplexed as the cashier who served me at the Metro this morning. She triple checked it, put it in the drawer, tried to give me change looked vaguely discombobulated and so forth.

I swear she nearly swiped it.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Oh For Fuck's Sake...

Now I had kind of hoped that the addition of downloads would re-invigorate the UK singles chart in some way, but it's beginning to look rather like the dream is fading.

Yes, it's now true that singles are now actually improving thier chart positions after their first week of release, rather than peaking at week one and going down - something which hasn't happened consistently since the mid-90s. Unfortunately, however, there seems to be ever greater stagnation in that songs which would have limped their way out of the charts before, are now still sitting at the top of the charts looking rather bemused and not quite believing their luck.

Equally I'd kind of hoped that the British Public had stopped being taken in by the idea that carrying an acoustic guitar, not shaving for a couple of days, and singing like they've been kicked in the nadgers makes someone's output worth buying. Again, sadly not - James Blunt is still lurking there with intent for a fifth bloody week and apparently no-one's yet suggested he take singing lessons (or simply just piss off).

But as if that wasn't bad enough, Craig David seems to have come back again with his particularly annoying brand of narcissitic R&B, which is rather a shock to be honest. I'd had hoped the rock he seems to have crawled back out from under would have been heavier than that. But no, it appears not.

Still, there is one jewel in the top ten. Goldfrapp have made it in to number four and are - as you might expect - the most interesting act to grace the charts in a good few weeks. Yay them! And thank God - I was beginning to completely despair of music-buyers nationwide.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Musical Discoveries

Thank Heavens. I've felt for a good couple of months now that I'm a little lost musically. Nothing new's inspired me, and I hadn't found anything old which made me go "this is great, how could I have missed this?" And as for the charts... well... least said, soonest mended.

Thankfully, Kirsty MacColl's Best Of and the Readers Wifes changed that this week. And now I've heard a few tracks which have also fired my enthusiasm in ways I've recently been lacking, so it's all go at the moment.

First up are a few tracks from Ladytron's forthcoming album "The Witching Hour". The first single "Sugar" was a bit limp, but the next one "Destroy Everything You Touch" is a punchy jangling stomper which deserves better success than it will get. Their fellow album track "International Dateline" is pretty darned good too.

And the blast from the past which has caught up with me is some of the Droyds' own stuff. They're probably best known as remixers, having taken on Client, Ladytron and Shakespeare's Sister tracks (the latter being a fabulously electroey reworking of "You're History", and having produced Siobhan Fahey's fabulous "Bitter Bill". But now I've heard some of the tracks they did themselves, which display a sort of skewed brilliance I relate well to.

Until this year their only releases had been covers. They took "Girls on Film", stripped it down to a synth bassline and clicky drums, spoke the vocals in a sort of Peter Toole / Leslie Phillips accent and called it "Girls on Pills". The Charlatans' "North Country Boy" got similar treatment as did Squeeze's "Take Me I'm Yours".

The whole idea is so insane I can't help but love it. Still waiting on some of their original material, but it's only a matter of time...

A Short Course of Death

Thirteen hours of sleep?

Crikey.

I didn't think I had it in me.

Felt good though.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

It Would Seem...

...that at this particular moment of posting I have been up for twenty-five and a half consecutive hours.

Thing is, I can't sleep on planes (not unless you "Mr-T" me) and when I arrived in London the day was just beginning, so catching a few hours kip wasn't really an option. I'm in severe danger of dropping any second, but there we are. Otherwise I'm pretty intact.

Well, mainly... It seems that at some point between going to bed and getting up yesterday some internal switch in my body set my skin to "mmm, tasty succulent meat" and I'm now smearing ointment over vast expanses of my hands and arms to calm the mosquito bites I suddenly acquired down.

Never mind. At least the Readers Wifes CD turned up while I was away - alongside a few other bits of useful and heartwarming pieces of correspondence (like a P45 from my last job etc etc).

Now all I have to do is stay awake until the evening and then sleep all of Sunday.

Ye Gods!

People who've never really understood my general dismissal of Mandy Smith's talents should listen to the soundlclip on this page and be grateful that Kylie needed an emergency "I Should Be So Lucky" follow-up.

http://www.pwl-empire.com/music_4.html

I don't think I shall ever recover. Even her version of "Don't You Want Me" is less offensive than that!

Friday, August 12, 2005

You Bastards!

Couldn't you have waited a week or something? I'm supposed to be flying back tonight!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4144386.stm

It looks like American Airlines flights are still going, mind. I'm just worried I may end up being diverted somewhere ghastly.

Like Birmingham or Newcastle.

Bless You Child

Got asked for my ID in a bar yesterday. The new moisturizer must be working.

It does strike me as faintly ridiculous that at 18 a US citizen could walk into a shop and buy a gun, but can't buy a drink until they're 21. Now there is a logical angle that if you did encounter an 18-year-old with a gun on the streets of Boston you'd rather he wasn't drunk, but at the same time surely the problem could by neatly circumvented by simply not selling him the gun in the first place!

It's like a different world over here sometimes it really is. Apparently the right to bear arms is more sacrosanct than others' lives.

Anyway, even those in our party who were patently over thirty got told they needed ID so we dashed back to the hotel, picked up our passports and headed back. By which point it was half an hour later, the weather was atrocious (suddenly the heavens had opened) and we were all a little bit pissed off.

When ID had been verified and we were able to be served I was asked what I wanted.

I was feeling bloody-minded: I asked for a diet coke.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

My, That's a Large One!

It's well known that America's problem with obesity somewhat eclipses the UK's by several orders of magnitude, but until I arrived here it was never really apparent to me why this was. I'd always assumed it was due to a reliance on junk food, but I am now no longer of that opinion.

The problem is the size of the portions. Even the healthy salads and so on are at least twice the size of what we'd expect in the UK. On the first night I made the mistake of getting a burger and a salad and when they arrived I found I couldn't eat even half of each.

Second night I had swordfish, which I just about managed - mainly because it was one of the nicest things I've ever had in my mouth, but also because being a posh restaurant the portion was marginally smaller - and struggled to stand up afterwards.

Last night I went with fish again and had a fisherman's platter, the size of which simply beggared belief. I had about a third before having to admit defeat.

It's very simple America - if you want to lose weight, you eat less. But somehow, size seems to matter here more than anything else. Which also means there's a criminal waste of food which I personally feel rather guilty about given the hunger in the world.

I'm definitely a convert to swordfish though. I shall be having it at the next opportunity on my return, I've decided.

I said that about ostrich too, mind. And so far I haven't found anywhere else that serves it, annoyingly. (Ostrich is rather nice - although I imagine they're a bugger to kill.)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ooh! Charlie!

Readers Wifes new video located here. (Needs Quicktime - for which the standlone iTunes-free player is here.)

Absolute genius. (And I'm sure "Charlie" is Charles Hawtrey, I remember the rumours well enough.)

Well, I mean...

It was whiskey and it was called "Knob Creek". It was compulsory!

Quite nice too.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Following Programme...

"...contains swearing and profanity. Parents are advised to use their discretion."

So said the announcer on Fox 25 yesterday. Having been only mildly diverted by two Simpsons episodes I'd already seen, I naturally pricked up my ears.

And suddenly the theme to Family Guy started. And it was an all new episode.

Which, I'm pleased to report was fabulous. As deliciously insane as ever.

I knew coming here would have its advantages.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I'm Not Looking For New England

No, I'm not.

I'm here. And it's very hot indeed. Thank God for air conditioning.

Lovely room too.

The journey was pretty dull as expected. I resorted to in-flight entertainment to alleviate it. "Heartless" starring Angus "Gak Hoover" Deayton was actually rather good, "Madagascar" was one of those films that was had moments of pure brilliance, but really hadn't been thought through properly and just stopped. And the run of "Everybody Loves Raymond" did rather beg the question: "why?"

Can't say I'm desperate to fly American Airlines again, either. Nothing was especially wrong, and they were quite lovely stewards, but it all seemed a bit slapdash somehow. BA's brisk efficiency is a standard indeed, even if some of the staff are a bit hatchet-faced.

Still, I'm liking what I've seen of the area so far. It's really rather picturesque. If only I could adjust to the heat I'd be alright.

I'm currently being lulled by the dulcet tones of Kirsty MacColl. An impulse buy at the airport leaves me with a copy of her new Best Of album - and I must say it's a creditable collection. All the obvious ones, plus her later material. Any record which has "Days" and "In these Shoes?" has to be a wonderous concoction indeed.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Stupidest a Man Can Get

It seems Gillette are now doing anti-perspirant deodorants now for those with sensitive skin as well as all the shaving foams.

I've just decided to give some a go. Of course since it's in the same sort of can as everything else they do, I'm convinced that some day soon I shall be accidentally squirting shaving foam into my armpit.

My life is, after all, a dodgy and predictable ITV sitcom. (Not that there's any other kind.)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Danger and Excitement

Archway suffers rather badly from random drunks.

I'm not talking about myself here, either. Compared to those people who are oft to be found sprawled on various benches and rambling incoherently around the area I am nothing but a mere amateur (a talented one, but an amatuer nonetheless). No, the Archway drunks arrive early in the morning as us workers head off to our labours and are usually gone by the time I arrive home. I can only assume they're shipped in and collected on a schedule. Perhaps there's a courtesy van.

Interestingly many of them have clearly been drinking for hours by seven o'clock which is something even I would draw the line at. (Increasingly I find I can't even have a drink at lunchtime any more. Anything consumed before six I invariably regret one way or another.)

Today however there was danger and excitement on the Number 43 bus (I've changed routes now I actually work more towards London Bridge). Random drunk bounced his way on board at Archway station and began slurring and shouting and stinking at various people on the bus who - naturally - decided they might get off and try the next one. This incensed him no end, he was getting increasingly abusive and the driver called the police. A second 43 turned up behind us and so us remaining passengers headed off the bus by one set of doors to pile onto it.

Random drunk threw himself off to get on that one instead, so we all doubled back regained our seats and then did that wonderfully British thing of laughing, joking and bonding in the face of insanity. Our bus pulled out to leave the second bus graced with his presence until the rozzers turned up and hauled his ass (as I believe the common parlance would have it) down to the nick (ditto).

And all of this to a soundtrack of Alcazar on The Device. It all seemed wonderfully incongruous really.

Thursday Thursday

Okay... after the bombings of the 7th July and the attempted bombing on the 21st, it now seems that every Thursday the Met Police feel the urge to up the police presence so we can all feel more secure.

Now, given that this is incredibly highly publicised, if you were a terrorist (and I'm not for a minute suggesting you are) wouldn't your next attack be on a different day?

Or do Thursdays have some mystical significance in the mind of your average psycho?

Still Not Dead

Hello!

I'm still here. Just been somewhat pre-occupied with the new job, as you might expect. And then when I came home, tired and buzzing I got distracted by the television and the alluring promise of wine.

Joining anywhere new is always a tad exhausting, I find. There's trying to remember all the new names (at which I've mainly failed), getting your head round the ways of the firm, filling out an endless parade of increasingly terrifying forms - it seems no-one expects me to survive for long, the number of insurances and benefits they've thrown at me - and then getting all the applications I'd need set up on the new computer and trying to figure out how it all works.

Plus I'm doing longer hours than I've been used to, and having to wear a shirt (although not a tie, I'm glad to say). All of this takes some getting used to - although I will admit to rapidly enjoying the idea of cufflinks. And I'm even chancing a lightly pink shirt tomorrow .

Thing is I'm now working in a section of finance where I can't get by on charm and technical knowledge alone. I am now actually going to have to learn what such instruments as "futures", "options", "equities" and "bonds" actually are, what are holdings and positions (the images that were initially conjured up in my head were way off it seems), how the markets work and what have you. And since I'm not the most financially-minded person this is quite a daunting prospect.

Thankfully I was given a bit of an introduction yesterday and it actually all kind of made sense. Apart from the stuff about hedge funds, obviously, but I think that's something you'd only think was a good idea if you like throwing yourself of bridges with a piece of elastic strapped to you. It all seems terribly risky to a gentle soul like myself.

It's amazing some of the ways people come up with to make money out of money, though.

But yeah... everyone's quite lovely and helpful and so I'm settling in quite happily. The next big thing is that I'm off to "Boot Camp" next week, near Boston. This is, from what I gather, where the panic will set in. They are apparently going to fry my brain.

Still, as long as they serve it up with a nice Rioja I don't mind.