Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Cold Creeping Fear

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

And I like purple. Purple is good.

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

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

So naturally I bought the socks and ran for it.

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

Saturday, November 26, 2005

An Odd Way to Spend a Morning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Where Are They Now?

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

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

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

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

Credit Where It's Not Due...

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Think I Have a Reputation

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 18, 2005

How Butch!

Yesterday I was having A Bad Day (TM).

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

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

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

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

God it was therepeutic.

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Get Real!

Well well...

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

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

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

Bless 'em.

Sugar Rush!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Confessions on a Dancefloor

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

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

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

Monday, November 14, 2005

Weekend? What Weekend?

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

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

But there we go. What can you do?

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

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

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

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

Bless. Sometimes I wish I had a cat.

Friday, November 11, 2005

One of Life's Greatest Pleasures

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

Absolute bliss.

Yay for days off!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Fame at Last!

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

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

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

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

And a knife.

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Thank God this legislation didn't go through.

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

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

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

Now That's Just Odd.

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

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

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

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

Small and Petty Little Triumphs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We'd Rather Not

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

My Word!

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

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

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

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

By Christmas I shall be thin!

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

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

Monday, November 07, 2005

Oh My God! My Poor Ears!

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

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

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

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

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

I am Pro-Active Rob! Hear me Roar!

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

And then of course you don't.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 04, 2005

I Can Feel It In My Water...

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

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

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

You Will Rue This Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Transport of Delight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's Me

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

And that's "That's Me".

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Little Things to Motivate You...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spooky Coincidence!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much better.