Crawling through technology, life and love
Pool Paradise - GC on Wii
Podcasts - Chris Moyles, Mark Kermode and Stephen Fry
Bits and Bobs:
Gerry's Lyrics Pop Quiz
Sites I like:
Top 40 Singles
Some blogs I enjoy:
Books recently read:
Time Out Guide to Havana (and Cuba)
And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks - William S Burroughs and Jack Kerouac
At My Mother's Knee ... and Other Low Joints: The Autobiography - Paul O'Grady
Star Maker - Olaf Stapledon
My Booky Wook - Russell Brand
When You Are Engulfed in Flames - David Sedaris
Then We Come To The End - Joshua Ferris
A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon
The End of Mr. Y - Scarlett Thomas
I Never Knew That About London - Christopher Winn
The Arsenal Miscellany - Adam Gold
Young Hearts Run Free: The Real Story of the 1970s - Dave Haslam
Magical Thinking - Augusten Burroughs
Veronika Decides To Die - Paulo Coelho
Time Out Guide - Amsterdam
Lillian's Story - Kate Grenville
The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
Schott's Original Miscellany - Ben Schott
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J K Rowling
A Gay History Of Britain - Matt Cook
Time Out Guide to Madrid
Time Out Guide to New York
Kingdom Come - J. G. Ballard
The Hours - Michael Cunningham
Mutants - Aramand Marie Leroi
A Young Man's Passage - Julian Clary
Growing Pains - Billie Piper
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Wild Swans - Jung Chang
Highbury: The Story of Arsenal N.5 - Jon Spurling
Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins - Rupert Everett
Affinity - Sarah Waters
Lighthousekeeping - Jeanette Winterson
Tipping The Velvet - Sarah Waters
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
Of Human Bondage - W Somerset Maugham
Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
Lucky Man - Michael J Fox
Labyrinth - Kate Mosse
Fingersmith - Sarah Waters
The Night Watch - Sarah Waters
The Pedant's Revolt - Andrea Barham
The Republic Of Trees - Sam Taylor
Written On tbe Body - Jeanette Winterson
Untold Stories - Alan Bennett
The Plot Against America - Philip Roth
Read All About It - Max Clifford
The Folding Star - Alan Hollinghurst
Thursbitch - Alan Garner
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim - David Sedaris
Staying Alive - Matt Beaumont
The Bookseller Of Kabul - Asne Seierstad
Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince - J K Rowling
A Short History Of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson
Count Karlstein - Philip Pullman
The Shadow Of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
The Spell - Alan Hollinghurst
The Double Life Of Daniel Glick - Maurice Caldera
The Smoking Diaries - Simon Gray
Straight- Boy George
Digital Fortress - Dan Brown
Deception Point - Dan Brown
The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith
Angels and Demons - Dan Brown
Sydney - Time Out Guide
Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
Eleanor Rigby - Douglas Coupland
The Scarecrow and His Servant - Philip Pullman
Tha Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
Planet Simpson - Chris Turner
The Line Of Beauty - Alan Hollinghurst
Barcelona - Time Out Guide
The Closed Circle - Jonathan Coe
The Clerkenwell Tales - Peter Ackroyd
Copenhagen - TimeOut Guide
The Butterfly Tattoo - Philip Pullman
The Broken Bridge - Philip Pullman
In Search of the Pleasure Palace - Marc Almond
Brick Lane - Monica Ali
Vernon God Little - DBC Pierre
Last Exit To Brooklyn - Hubert Selby Jr
You Shall Know Our Velocity - Dave Eggers
Touching The Void - Joe Simpson
Life Of Pi - Yann Martel
Istanbul - Time Out Guide
Millennium People - J G Ballard
The Duchess Who Wouldn't Sit Down - Jesse Browner
Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland
Eats, Shoots and Leaves - Lynne Truss
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami
Our Man In Havana - Graham Greene
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon
Lyra's Oxford - Philip Pullman
Doran - Will Self
Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
the book, the film, the t-shirt - matt beaumont
High Society - Ben Elton
Man And Wife - Tony Parsons
I Was A Rat - Philip Pullman
Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix - J R Rowling
Great Apes - Will Self
Barrel Fever - David Sedaris
Round Ireland With A Fridge - Tony Hawkes
Close Range - Annie Proux
The Third Way - Anthony Giddens
dot.con - John Cassidy
The Salmon of Doubt - Douglas Adams
One Hit Wonderland - Tony Hawkes
The Thief Lord - Cornelia Funke
The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen
The Cloud Sketcher - Richard Rayner
Keane: the Autobiography - Roy Keane
A Wasteland of Strangers - Bill Pronzini
The English - Jeremy Paxman
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People - Toby Young
Dead Famous - Ben Elton
The Amber Spyglass - Phillip Pullman (again)
The Subtle Knife - Phillip Pullman (again)
Northern Lights - Phillip Pullman (again)
The Bear and The Dragon - Tom Clancy
101 Reykjavik - Hallgrimur Helgason
Forward The Foundation - Isaac Asimov
Carter Beats The Devil - Glen David Gold
The Tin Princess - Philip Pullman
Atonement - Ian McEwan
The Tiger In The Well - Philip Pullman
The Rotters Club - Jonathan Coe
Generation X - Douglas Copeland
Perfume - Patrick Suskind
All Families Are Psychotic - Douglas Coupland
The Shadow In The North - Phillip Pullman
No Logon - Naomi Klein
The Dirt - Motley Crue
Miss Wyoming - Douglas Coupland
The Amber Spyglass - Phillip Pullman
The Subtle Knife - Phillip Pullman
Northern Lights - Phillip Pullman
The Ruby in the Smoke - Phillip Pullman
The Sandman - Miles Gibson
Blood and Gold: The Vampire Marius - Anne Rice
The Actrocity Exhibition - J G Ballard
Shameless - Paul Burston
Sing Out! - Boze Hadleigh
Brilliant Orange - David Winner
New Boy - William Sutcliffe
London - Peter Ackroyd
Wonder Boys - Michael Chabon
One For My Baby - Tony Parsons
How To Be Good - Nick Hornby
White Teeth - Zadie Smith
Lust - Geoff Ryman
Tulip Fever - Deborah Moggach
Dead Souls - Ian Rankin
The House Of Sleep - Jonathan Coe
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Dave Eggers
What a carve up! - Jonathan Coe
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon
The Grapes Of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Heartwood - James Lee Burke
Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
Man and Boy - Tony Parsons
The Map Of Love - Ahdaf Soueif
e - Matt Beaumont
The e Before Christmas - Matt Beaumont
Friday, November 30, 2001
Your pipe can never be too fat...
As it's almost Christmas I went wild today. I just ordered a 3Mb leased line for work (no contention, good SLA, the works). Very fast. So we've going from a poxy 64k line to a 3Mb one i.e. 48 times as fast. And the cost? Just £800 pcm (the 64k line used to cost us £391 pcm). Very cheap. All from the cute people at Centric Telecom. Cute sales guy too :)
The Devil, idle hands and me...
Busy day at work today, Guy's birthday do tonight at Bar Aquada/Joe Allens, working tomorrow (early start), Simon's (my brother) birthday tomorrow, Scally's birthday party tomorrow night, working Sunday (early start), setting up Christopher's PC in their new flat Sunday afternoon, back to work Monday. Phew! The wicked and me have no rest. Anyone want to sell me some extra hours in the day?
Thursday, November 29, 2001
We've been back a little over a week now but it seems like months ago. Funny how fantastic holidays seem to disappear faster than mediocre ones. Anyhow, I've published some of our pictures below. Click on any image to see a bigger version of it.
And there are a load more pictures if you click here. Does it look as if we had a good time?
Our Christmas Dinner...
We've just got the details through of where and when our company Christmas Dinner is to be held. It's going to be at London Zoo. The theme is Atlantis. Here's the blurb sent round by admin today. Heaven help us.
This Christmas escape from reality into the world of Fantasy, discover the mythological city of Atlantis.
Stroll along the quayside among sailors and traders who will amaze you with their magic tricks and comical acts.
The Adventure to Atlantis begins aboard a submarine, which you enter via the conning tower onto the main deck. Here you can drink your Sonar cocktail surrounded by rumbling machines, a hive of activity and the realistic sounds of radar. As the vessel dives to the bottom of the ocean, look through the periscope and portholes to see the surrounding seascapes.
As you near the ocean floor, the ground shakes and the doors will open to reveal…
Atlantis: the lost city
The crumbling marble pillars, statues and mosaic adorned walls of this once great hall lie amongst the swaths of seaweed. Fabulous sea creatures, giant fish, mermaids and dolphins circulate through the hulls of wrecked ships.
The guests will enter the seabed dining hall for a grand feast fit for any sea king. Seated at fully themed tables bedecked in gold and turquoise, you and your guests will be convinced that Atlantis was fact not fiction.
As dinner is completed the Fabulous Oyster Club Disco will open up, hosted from high by DJ Zeus in his golden chariot.
Visit the Submarine Bar to participate in the Casino and Virtual Reality games. Try your hand at chasing other ships or knock down a Depth Charge at the Engine Room Bar.
Atlantis fact or fantastic legend…you decide at this luxurious, once-in-a-lifetime sub-aqua night of adventure.
This synopsis is subject to artistic licence
Something in the eye…
Our little baby Nikon 775 camera is ill. We used it on the beach in Cape Town and now it’s got sand in its eye. The lens cover doesn’t open when you switch it on. I’ve sent it off to Nikon for repair. I bought it in the States so the warranty isn’t valid in the UK. Heaven knows how much it’ll cost to fix.
Wednesday, November 28, 2001
Forever the same...
Why does every Star Trek: Enterprise episode seem to have a cave and most have a plot twist of a big secret underground facility? Maybe the caves were a job lot.
Watching Joan Bakewell's Taboo on the BBC tonight was a treat. This week Joanie was exploring the changing attitudes to sex over the last 50 years. The usual bases were covered from the Lady Chatterley's Lover trial through to Queer As Folk. The program ended with an interview on the set of a porn film. Joan's face was a picture as she turned her nose up while watching two porn actors going through the motions. The director was waxing lyrical about the pert breasts and the firm young buttocks of the actress. Peering closely Joan gloated, "he seems to have lost his thrust."
"Porn is like junk food", she concluded. "An imitation of something much better". I think she missed the point rather. Porn is a means to an end not an end in itself.
He came, he took some pictures, he left....
Dan departed these fair shores on Monday after staying at our place for just over a week and I have to say it was lovely to have him here. Dan is thoroughly house trained and I can recommend him to friends and family alike.
I first met Dan when I was in New York earlier in the year at the first BigGayTransatlanticBlogMeet. I was rather taken with him and as we spent more time together I started to develop a bit of a crush on him. I ask you, a crush at my age! Well, I think Dan realised what was going on but he didn't laugh too hard so my blushes were spared. In fact he seemed happy to spend time with me and we had a lot of fun those last couple of days.
When I got back to the UK I had a chance to get things in perspective. Mark and I talked about it and Mark's advice, as ever, was the best - we're never too old to fancy someone and a crush is a crush, nothing more. He was right of course and a week later I was feeling a little foolish about the whole thing. Dan, for his part, joked about how I got over him quite so quickly!
When we learnt that Dan had plans to come to London I repeated an offer I had made earlier that he should come and stay with us. Mark and I were really happy that he was coming though we would still be away for the first part of his visit on our NotAHoneymoon in South Africa.
I made a few plans for Dan's visit (theatre, blogmeet, Space:1999) and all in all I think he had a nice time even if things didn't work out in the romance department quite the way he had hoped. I know the feeling!
The more I practice, the luckier I get......
I'm feeling much better today. I think all I needed was a good night out with the boys. Which is exactly what happened. Sure, we lost the Pop Quiz at the Retro Bar but we played our Total Pop Quiz style - we all contributed evenly to the answers which was very satisfying. The winners only dropped half a point so we didn't really stand a chance anyway.
Afterwards Darren and I popped up to Central Station to meet up with Marky and Drew who were at a Pub Quiz of their own in support of Freedoms. We found them playing pool and spent a couple of hours playing, drinking, laughing and pointing at the strange people - of which there are a lot at Central Station.
During a run of success and after a particular spectacular shot at the pool table I remarked that I seemed to be very lucky tonight. My opponent said you're not lucky, you're good. Which put in mind of a quote that the great American golfer Ben Hogan made. Hogan used to be accused of being lucky when he won. Hogan was one of sport's legendary obsessives, a perfectionist who practiced constantly and even managed to rebuild his career after a car crash had left him unable to walk. Some of his best golf was played when he was in complete agony and barely able to stand on his rebuilt legs. "Yes, I'm lucky", he used to reply. "And the more I practice the luckier I get."
Tuesday, November 27, 2001
Everything is conspiring to piss me off today. I guess you could say I'm having a bad day. Roll on tomorrow.
Monday, November 26, 2001
Ps and Qs...
My Mum and Dad were always big on Ps and Qs. When we asked for anything they'd always say, "What do you say?" to which the only acceptable answer was, "Please". After the thing was given the ineviatably question was, "Now, what do you say?" to which the only answer could be, "Thank you". Please and Thank You. Please and Thank You. Please and Thank You. It was instilled into us from an early age.
Saying thank you works both ways, of course. Not only does the person you're saying it to feel appreciated but also it means that you are the kind of person who actually cares how other people feel. You want some else to feel better. It's a win-win situation.
So I was especially pleased to get an e-mail from Michael saying, "Just a line to say that I enjoyed myself enormously on Saturday night and I hope you did too. Thanks for organising it!"
Room With A View...
Just finished the big move round in the office. All the happy little elves now have their computers working, their phones working and are busily nesting in their new offices. Quite why we all had to shift around was a bit beyond me. But now I can look out over the square from my gigantic new office. I have no one else near me so it's quiet and I have all my technology to hand so I'm a happy bunny. I wanted to invite everyone round to my office this afternoon for tea and cakes as a 'house warming' - only it's Ramadan so out of respect for our Saudis I'll perhaps wait till next month.
Sunday, November 25, 2001
A blow for Liberty...
A turkey named Liberty takes President Bush by surprise during the annual turkey pardoning event three days before Thanksgiving. The Guardian were running a caption competition but it had to be cut short due to 'overwhelming popularity'. And my contribution? A BLOW FOR LIBERTY
Net users 'sociable and successful'...
Internet users do not deserve their reputation for being socially inadequate loners, a study has found. Despite jibes that computer users meet their friends online, researchers say they are actually more likely to be sociable and community minded.
And so indeed it was at last night's GayBlogMeet. Welcoming Dan to these fair shores was Michael, Michael, Tom, David, Marcus, Ian, Davo, David, Rick, Mark, Drew and myself (amongst others).
As ever at these things blogging hardly got a mention as the fascination with digital cameras, drinking and gossip seem to dominate most conversations.
No doubt Dan and David will both publish pictures aplenty in due course.
Saturday, November 24, 2001
What I've been reading today...
- Can I have one please?
- These I don't need.
- She successfully prosecuted Gay News over a poem - sod off to Hell you ugly old Harpie.
- Pong on speed.
Mother Clap's Molly House...
One line review: Great show. Very gay - sometimes toe-curlingly so. It worked - mostly. 8/10
Sparky and I were running a bit late as we'd stopped off in Bar Code for a pint after work and at Satsuma for a Bento. Mark was rightly getting a little anxious at the theatre and our cab seemed in no great hurry. We arrived just as the final one minute bell was being called so we walked straight through to our seats. Immediately we were struck by how many gay men were in the audience. A disturbingly high number in fact. The rest of the audience seemed to be made up of the regular smattering of twin set and pearls brigade who 'have to see everything'.
I'll not give too much about the play away (as you should really go see it) expect to say that it was funny, well acted, musical and entertaining. The first act was set in the 16th (?) century in a dress hire shop in the City. The old man dies and the the wife has to take over the running of the family business. The prostitutes who are her regular clientele strike a deal to pay her less and less for their dresses so she is eventually forced to seek alternative income. As her shop assistant seems to be a bit of a Molly (i.e. gay) a thought strikes her...
The playing was excellent and many of the dialogue and jokes were blatantly contemporary (giving an almost pantomime feel). The humour was wicked, the language coarse and the customes revealing - at one point every character on stage was wearing a dress. Drag-tastic.
At times the action conjured up images as diverse as Oliver Goldsmith's 'She Stoops To Conquer', Eastenders, Absolutely Fabulous and Gimme, Gimme, Gimme.
The second half introduced a second strand to the action set in modern day London where a group of gay men are planning an orgy. The drug dealer had arrived and the guests were starting to arrive. Some of the action was extremely explicit on and off stage - gay anal sex (on), oral sex (on), abortion (off), masturbation (on) and rimming (off). It certainly gave the twin-set and pearls brigade something to think about. I woman behind us was heard to say, "What's rimming?" The gay men were in stitches.
Later on Sparky and I meet Mother Clap reincarnated as a coat check woman at the Artful Dodger. Spooky.
Friday, November 23, 2001
I've just spent the last three hours packing up my office. Over the weekend I'm being moved to one twice the size (hurray!) about 50 metres away. It'll be nearer the computer room too which I guess is a good thing. I don't suppose I'll use the extra space much other than simply collect twice as much clutter as before. On the up side I'll have two nice big windows overlooking the park in the middle of Berkeley Square. Bliss.
I'm really excited today. Tonight Mark, Sparky and I are going to see Mother Clap's Molly House at the National. The tickets warn: This play contains language and scenes which some people may find offensive - oh good!
Mark's brother Paul (Hello, Paul!) bought me the tickets for my birthday present back in September. By all accounts it's a great show. Full review tomorrow.
Last night Dan, David and myself visited a few East End hostelries - all very swish places full of after work city types and urbane yuppies. We arrived quite late due to public transport issues so largely the clientele already had bellies full of liquor and so were at vox forte. Maybe they were practicing for Christmas early. Not my cup of tea really but the company of our little threesome was exemplary (Ian was working, Mark was preparing for a conference) which also more than made up for the chilly, windy weather too. Nice to actually get a chance to chat to Sparky. He admitted that he was holding back from the full American overseas mode (which I love by the way) as he let David and myself do most of the talking. It was good to catch up with some of David's Barcelona stories but there are plenty more I'm sure. It'll be interesting to see how the porn film drama pans out too.
We didn't have too late a night as we were back at the flat not long after midnight. Dan and I watched a bit of Steve Coogan on tape which still makes me laugh even though I've watched it a dozen times.
Thursday, November 22, 2001
I love the online section in every Thursday's Guardian. And guess what? Now they have a blog too.
Second Great Transatlantic Gay(ish)BlogMeet (reannouced)...
Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! 'Twas Two Months ago that Full Advanced Warning 'Twas Given for Diaries, Secretaries and Booking Personnel.
A Call 'Twas Made for Ye Bloggers, Ye Scallywags and Ruffians too. We wished to Come One, Come All to Celebrate with Thine own Friends the Second Great Transatlantic Gay(ish)BlogMeet.
A Repeat of this Fayre Offer is now Made as Minds can wander and Plans they are Made. So Be Reminded, Be Prompted. Be There.
So Do Come. Sup a Cup of Mead or Ale at the Fair Bosom of You Goodly Chums, Mates and Foes. Other Wenches, Rogues and Vagabonds also at the Hostelry may to good to Thine Eyes also.
And the Reason for this Meet? Why 'Tis to bid a Fond Welcome to Mister Dan Rhatigan of New York. His Fantastical Locations on The Modern Internet are Ultrasparky and Rumpus Room. Mister Rhatigan is currenly journeying to the Freezing Waste Lands of the Shire of Lancaster. I have it on Good Authority that they have Rainbows in Black and White up there. Upon my last Visit to the North - it was Closed. So Mr Rhatigan will need Good Cheer from Hearty Fellows and Goodly Chaps.
If thee not be Gay in Life then be at least Gay of Heart and Mind instead but Come and Rejoice with Us too For we Welcome All. We do Not Byte.
Time and Date:
From 7:30pm onwards
Saturday 24th November 2001 (Yes, by my long-johns, 'tis a Saturday!)
Upstairs @ The Retro Bar (the tunes be soothing to the Ears as 'tis Swivel)
2 George Court (just off the Strand)
Ladies: Informal (but Not So Provoking as to Distract the Good Lady Barkeep, Wendy)
Gentlemen: Informal (but Spandex and Lycra are Forbidden Fabrics)
Carriages at 11 sharp (but there be Bar Code for the Drunkards)
Questions, quizings and qualifications to Mister Jonathan Green located oft Times at http://www.overyourhead.co.uk
Please Reprint and Repost and Forward and Display Above as and where Necessary.
Wednesday, November 21, 2001
While I was away from work...
I come back to 189 non-junk e-mails, 14 phone messages and small crowd gathered around my office all wanting attention. Amongst other things there have been some major hardware failures while I've been away - mainly due to overheating. Once most of crowd has dispersed my boss sits me down and asks my advice about how to solve our current hardware problems and how we can stop it happening again. I say, "buy a bigger fan, then the shit will fly further." Luckily he laughed.
Tuesday, November 20, 2001
Home and snoozing...
Arrived back in the UK on the 11 hour overnight red-eye flight from Cape Town and as arranged we had a car waiting for us. So nice to be driven home rather than face trains and tubes etc. after such a long flight. When we got in we fell into bed for some much needed rest.
Sparky came in an hour later so we caught up a bit before he headed off to Lancaster for a couple of days. He's back on Thursday so we'll do dinner and catch up properly then.
Tonight I don't think I can face Pop Quiz so we're going to be staying in and snuggling in front of Eastenders and The West Wing. Bliss.
I have a nasty feeling that there are major problems waiting for me back at work tomorrow.
Monday, November 19, 2001
25% of the South African population live in townships. This morning being out last day we decided to go and visit one. We booked up on a tour and set off not being quite sure what to expect. Our guide took us to the District Six Museum first. District Six used to be a vibrant part of Cape Town being a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants. But by the beginning of the 20th century the process of removals and marginalisation had begun. In 1901 the area was accused of spreading the bubonic plague (er, hello? it was rats from the ships that spread the plague) and the 'Africans' were 'resettled' out of town. In 1966 the area was declared a white area and the mass resettlement started in earnest. By 1982 60,000 people had been turfed out and there houses bulldozed. These people were evicted, arrested or simply forced from there homes. The majority were black. They were all moved to townships - shanty towns of wooden huts built away from any natural resources or shelter. We visited a small one call Booboolatoo (spelling?) that homes 10,000 people. Many in single roomed accommodation of 8 to 10 a room.
The Pass Laws meant that everyone had to carry an ID card which indicated whether they were white, coloured or black. If you were coloured (Indian, Pakistani, Malaysian etc) you were a second class citizen. If you were black you had no status. The 'pencil test' determined whether you were black of not. A pencil was put in your hair and if it fell to the ground you were either coloured or white. Coloured people got a slight better deal than blacks. They were allowed to live in the urban areas of the city. The few blacks who were allowed to stay would have to prove that they had worked for the same employer for 15 years or have been born in the city.
Since 1994, free elections have done little to help these townships. Some how have electricity, a few have running water. But the challenges ahead are many. There is no state aid to the unemployed. It is hard to start a business without some money. Banks will not lend against township dwellings. Inevitably in areas of high unemployment you start to get drugs and the petty crime that follows it.
In spite of all of this we were made to feel very welcome in Booboolatoo and I was amazed at the philosophical approach of the people we spoke to. They realise their position all too clearly and understand that things will not be transformed overnight. They are not angry non resentful. They are simply optimistic about the future for their children. Having been deprived of any education themselves they simple want a better future for their kids. They didn't want money, they didn't want sympathy - they wanted books, skills and knowledge. They wanted the ability to build a life for themselves.
There were no white South Africans in our little touring group. When asked about this one of the township people said, "They don't come. They don't know what is here. They are afraid of us. They are afraid of what they don't know. Until they come to see us here things will not change". I saw his point.
Sand, Sex and the Sunset...
The beach was great fun. But oh so hot. We couldn't last more than 30 minutes. So we decided to head off further down the coast to Sandy Bay (no sniggering at the back to those of you that have heard of this place before). Sandy Bay is a nudist beach that is about 20 minutes walk beyond Llandudno (and what a swish place that is!). To be honest it was simply too hot so there wasn't too much fun to be had there so we cruised back into town and called in at the Hothouse sauna.
There was a LOT of fun to be had there. We Basically showed the South African's what we Brits are made of for an hour or two. Slightly exhausted we headed up to the roof for a rest.
We ordered cocktails at the bar and both sat in the open air jacuzzi and watched the sunset. An array of reds and yellows and oranges and purples lit up the sky. The 'tablecloth' of clouds that streamed over Table Mountain were tinged with pink. Quite, quite beautiful. I shall remember that moment for all my life. My beloved framed with such a beautiful backdrop. That moment alone made the whole trip worthwhile.
Sunday, November 18, 2001
Today we're heading off down the coast from Cape Town to Sandy Bay for a bit of skinny dipping. Rumour has it that the Atlantic is very cold here so there may be more of the 'skinny' and less of the 'dipping'. I'll try and remember to keep my white bits well lubed with sun screen. Can't be too careful.
Drink to me only with thine eyes...
On Saturday we ventured out on the world famous Ferdinand's No1 Fun Tour. Now if turns out that Ferdinand is on SA's Big Brother at the moment so he famous across SA. His wine tours are legendary too - for good reason. Four different vineyards in and around Stellenbosch with five wines at every one and lunch thrown in. All for 235 rand. The tour was fascinating for those of us that remained sober enough to care. I didn't realize how little I knew about wine. Even the really basic stuff like why does red wine get better with age and white wine worse? We sampled some Cape Crystal (?). A methode champagnoise wine and we were so impressed we bought a couple of bottles - 38 rand (just under 3 quid) a bottle. Not bad! However after the third vineyard almost everything tasted good. The answer to the eternal question spit or swallow? was answered very firmly as the latter.
By 6pm things had deteriorated such that Bacchus himself would have though us lushes. The 30 people on the tour were in two mini-buses. As we drove back along the motorway the buses kept overtaking each other as we all did moonies (and worse) out the windows at each other. Nearly all the wine we bought was drunk on the way back and more consumed at a pub we stopped at too. As we passed the hospital where the first heart transplant was performed in 1967 I could help but think that I hope they do liver transplants too.
A reader writes...
The text below is from Rob who posted a comment to my original item last week about racism in South Africa. I really didn't want to lose Rob's comments (my comments feature has been rather unreliable of late) as he makes some interesting, inciteful and personal points. Thanks Rob.
So you are in SA, I never knew. Hope you are having a fantastic time.
Unfortunately, I think it may be a bit true, but not on purpose if that makes sense. My biggest shock was coming to live in London and slowly discovering that I had way's of thinking that not even I knew existed. I was quite ashamed at first and then angry that I had been subjected to an upbringing that would allow for this to happen. I have found that quite a few white and black South African's are still quite racist and barring them leaving the country and learning to live in another part of the world, will be until the dying day.The rest of us try hard but there is always something in the back of our minds, either put there by the years we grew up, or suffering awful injustice. You show me a South African who say's he is no longer affected by what was drummed into him at school and army etc... and I will show you a liar. It's true that the South African's who lived as young adults through the changes from 1992 onwards are indeed a lost generation. Once we die out and our grand children are running the country, I believe that things will be a lot better, you will get the occasional bigot, like the few I have met since living in London, but hopefully the country will have caught up with the rest of the world mentally. But don't let this put you off, the ratio has changed dramatically to the positive in the last 10 years and will continue to do so. Personally, I was brought up liberal, but enjoyed all the trappings that white people enjoyed, so I know I am as guilty as the next person. I maintain that one of the reasons I am here is to live a life as a human, privilege is something that you should earn and not your right. My prayer is that, one day, everyone in SA will see things that way.
Friday, November 16, 2001
We watched Miss World tonight before heading to the bars. Coming live from Sun City in South Africa, Jerry Springer was the host and he was taking the piss something rotten out of the contestants and the shows format. It was fantastic! Better than the Eurovision Song Contest even. I can see it becoming a gay 'must-see' annual event. (This year's winner was Miss Nigeria - I post this from my phone the instant the winner is announced. Cutting edge journalist that I am!)
Better keep this short...
As I'm on a really ropey terminal. Arrived safe and sound in CT. Checked into the Victoria Junction Hotel (thanks for the tip Scally) and headed out to eat. We found 245 Main Street which was friendly and had a large rainbow flag outside. Not much of a guide of course as the rainbow flag is used everywhere here to signify diversity. While we were eating we booked up some trips for the rest of our stay here. This morning we're going to the top of Table Mountain and this afternoon to Robben Island for a much needed political dimension to this trip. The sun is beating down (sorry, Ian) and it's warm as toast.
Thursday, November 15, 2001
Heading back to Cape Town...
Having had our fill of the Garden Route we're driving back west again. (I'm typing this out in the passenger seat of a speeding car letter by letter on my phone & will post it via WAP - I hope!)
Wednesday, November 14, 2001
Apes and elephants...
We woke early and headed off for breakfast at the gay-friendly Can-de-light bistro in Main Street. It looked too like Robin's Nest to be true. I half expected Robin Tripp to come out from behind the counter. Sandy, the owner, gave us tips about where the 'trendy' people went to drink (winking at us knowingly). I really don't know what she thought she was implying. :)
By noon we had arrived at our first destination of the day, Monkeyland. A twelve hectare sanctuary crammed full of lemmas, monkeys and other primates. It was less than impressive really. The problem with 'natural habitat' places is you don't get to be up close and personal with the animals. We enjoyed it though. Even if it was just so we could say "cheeky monkey" every couple of minutes.
After that we went to 'Old Nicks' for lunch and a look at the arts and crafts on sale. None of it was indigenous to South Africa as far as I could tell. It all looked as if it was from much further north. IKEA maybe. It had that 'the Women Institute does Africa' feel about it. Lots of throw rugs and wine racks - not exactly the stuff that you'd need on safari in the bush.
Lunch over it started to rain. Unsurprising I guess as the greenery around us had to be sustained by a temperate climate.
We headed off to what was the high light of the day. The Knysna Elephant Sanctuary. They had three elephant that we fed and stroked and patted and hugged. All rather lovely. The elephants had all been rescued from being culled at a larger game reserve further north. It was nice to see them in such a huge area (120 hectares) free to roam about and generally get up to the mischief that elephants do when permitted.
He flies through the air with the greatest of ease...
Yesterday's quad-biking was simply fantastic. Although we were only doing 30-40 k/hr it seemed a lot faster as we were quite near the ground. The Knysna Forest provided a wonderful backdrop and the trails were all suitably steep/rough/wet/dangerous to make for a sustained two and a half hour adrenaline rush. We were with a group of three others and we all took to it very quickly. We went charging up and down the forests weaving in and out of the trees. Speeding over bumps we even managed to get all four wheels off the ground. However, soon we got a bit too confident and the inevitable happened. Racing down one particularly steep track proved Mark's undoing. His brakes had become clogged with dirt and dust and just failed. He lost control of his bike and careered into a deep ditch. The bike stopped dead but he carried on moving - flying through the air. Luckily he missed a tree (which could have proved fatal) and landed on his head. He was very badly bruised all round his neck but thankfully felt well enough to continue the journey- at a much slower pace! Now we know why we had to sign waiver forms at the start.
Later that night we ate a hearty meal on the waterfront ordering the most expensive wine on the menu (87 rand which is about 6 pounds). To his glee Mark discovered what must be the last remaining Addams Family pinball machine. He played, hugged it and lay across it while I took pictures. Soon we attracted the attentions of a guy, called Eugene, who seemed to adopt us (well, me) for the night. We played pool (he paid) and drank beer (we both paid) until I could barely stand. Mark had been adopted by a couple of Belgian girls who seemed rather disappointed when he told them we were on our NotAHoneymoon together.
We crawled home at 11pm full of plans for the next day.
Hurray. I have my comments facility back. It took a bit of fiddling as I had to change my template to remove the old Reblogger, add new Blogback code and also refresh my Stats4all code - PC's can't cope with resaving of the template (or something like that). That all done from a fair ropey 28.8k connection to the Interwebnet in downtown Knysna was no easy task. But luck prevailed and here we are.
[Thanks to David for the inspiration and direction to the Blogback site]
Tuesday, November 13, 2001
This afternoon we are going quad-biking. We are promised that the 4 wheeled-drive bikes will be powerful enough to race up and down hill and mountain tracks. We have to wear safety helmets too. Can't wait.
Is Seth Eff-reek-a a racist country...?
I asked our chatty barman on the ferry (who was black) whether he considered Seth Eff-reek-a a racist country. He smiled, rolled his eyes and said, "most definitely, yes". He then related story after story about where is was, and wasn't allowed to go; what he could and couldn't do just because he was black - even in such a 'liberal' place as Knysna. I was astounded at some of his stories, all of which he assured me where true. Having heard his tales I'd certainly want to avoid some of the Northern areas of Seth Eff-reek-a that's for sure.
Walking away from the ferry boat and back to our hotel we got talking to an English couple from Yorkshire (not the most liberal part of the UK let me tell you) and they were telling us about how embarrassed they had been with all the explicit racism they had seen and heard since they had come to Seth Eff-reek-a the previous week. From our limited (three days) experience we could only but agree. Many (but not all) of the white people that we have meet here so far are fine at first but after a drink or two has loosened their tongues we have got to hear some of the most snide, pernicious clap-trap imaginable. Please note: I am not, repeat NOT, saying all or indeed most white SA people are racists, we have meet some lovely liberal anti-racist/non-racist people here but in general we've found the attitude to be at best 'us and them' and at worst out right racist. Depressing - but it's what we've found.
Now tell me I'm wrong. Tell me we've been unlucky and met the wrong people. Tell me I've got it all wrong. Please.
I'd like to say we got up early - but as we'd downed most of Seth Eff-reek-a's finest vino the night before we were a little hung. Well to be honest I was a little hung. Mark seemed full of beans and with his lungs full of the fresh sea air he bounded into town to go shopping. When I eventually crawled out of bed and down to breakfast in a 'dark glasses/scarf round the head' kind of a way I could but nod at his new purchases barely able to speak. Three litres of orange juice and four Nurofen later I began to feel human again.
By midday we had set off aiming for Knysna a little further along the coast. No sooner had we started out then we decided to go clothes shopping. Queens? Us?
Have a mentioned how cheap everything is in Seth Eff-reek-a? We were, are and will be constantly surprised at how far our money goes. The Rand is at about 14 to the pound at the moment which makes a beer about 50p and good wine bottle of wine about 1 pound 50p. No wonder we get pissed so easily - we just can't help ourselves.
Anyway, back to the shopping. WE bought shirts, T-shirts and various sports-related items. All nice stuff and I'm afraid to say I'm beginning to develop a taste in clothes similar to Marky (loose, baggy, floral stuff - oh God, I'll have to throw out my latex, spandex and lycra now).
As the worst of the midday heat was ebbing we headed off on the N2 in the direction of Knysna again. We stopped off in George but were singularly unimpressed. The scenery got a lot better now the Garden Route had started proper. Not as nice or dramatic as the San F / LA route or the Swiss Alps but impressive nonetheless.
When we finally got to Knysna we booked into the Log-Inn, a pseudo-log cabin with a four star rating. Nice to have some creature comforts at last. We phoned around and found a gay restaurant where we could dine that night and headed off to the waterfront to see what mischief we could make there. We soon found a 5pm harbour ferry tour that took in a nature reserve, the Indian Ocean and the sunset. Not only that but it had a bar and a chatty barman. Perfect. The barman got a little too friendly actually but after asking leading questions we steered the conversation to the state of English football and Arsenal in particular. Safe ground. Soon he was asking us to join him in a game of football after the tour. Fortunately we had dinner plans so politely declined.
Monday, November 12, 2001
Nice boys, shame about the accent...
We took off Friday night from a cold and miserable Heathrow sitting in the very back seat row 53 (do planes really go back that far?). The flight was fine. Not as traumatic as I had feared. When we arrived in Cape Town the sun was shining down and the people were warm and welcoming. We were picked up at the airport by a friend of a friend of a B&B owner and whisked off to our first night's lodgings.
The place was pink, gay and a little too much like Boys In The Band and not enough like Tales Of The City for comfort. We headed off straight away to pick up a car and then on to Camps Bay to pay a much recommended visit to Blues for lunch. Coping with the 'I'll look after your car'/'if you don't tip us we're slash your tyres' guys by the parking spots was a bit of a challenge.
After that we went to the aquarium by the V&A which was fun but we were beginning to flag. But we were determined to start our Garden Route tour as early as possible the following day so we decided to investigate where we were going to stay on our return to Cape Town the following weekend. With this in mind we scouted round all the hotels we could find to see who had the best rooms and the best deals. We settled on Scally's choice of the Victoria Junction. We then went back to the B&B for a bit of a disco nap.\
The over residents were enjoying an early evening drink when we arose. We were the youngest there by 20 years. Heigh-ho. There was a rather cute Norwegian called Sven who took our fancy so we borrowed him for a while. He knew more about English politics than we did.
After getting pleasantly merry we headed off into town - being ferried by a drunken diplomat's widow, Katrina, who lived across the road from the B&B. She was mildly homophobic, fiercely racist and utterly pissed - oh what a fun journey that was. At least I didn't take a swing at her which I might have regretted later.
We ate at a gayish restaurant, Manhattan, where a fresh waiter touched Mark's shoulder once too often and placed his hands on mine wanting to know what I was doing later. It must be something in the wa(i)ter.
Slightly pissed we rolled round to The Bronx, Roberts, back to Manhattan's and then to 55 (a drag bar) where we met up with Sven again. Luckily we ended up home and by ourselves within the hour so honour and dignity was (almost) maintained.
Sunday we awoke to a sweet smell of savoury mince and poached eggs (strange but true breakfast fare). We ate, paid up and headed off west on the N2 - direction Garden Route.
Hugging the coast as much as possible we were amazed by the scenery - the beaches, the mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. After a few hours we decided to try and make it all the way to Mossel Bay by sunset and so cut across country (the roads simply disappeared after a while and turned into dirt tracks). Eventually we made it to a hotel called The Point with a fantastic Indian Ocean view. A well needed night's sleep was due but we decided to go a bit mad. No change there then.
Friday, November 09, 2001
Packing it all in...
Sun tan lotion? Check
Passport, tickets, money? Check
Last minute list making that wastes time but keeps me from thinking about the 12 hour flight ahead? Check.
Thursday, November 08, 2001
NotAWedding Photo Gallery...
There are currently over two hundred (yes, Ian, I know I should learn to edit) photos that you can browse. There are five pages of them (the first "Page 0" is the biggest by far). Click on the thumbnail (small) versions of the pictures to see bigger versions. Send me an email if you want a copy of the really big/high quality versions and I'll e-mail it to you when we get back from our NotAHoneymoon.
Click here for NotAWedding Page 0
Click here for NotAWedding Page 1
Click here for NotAWedding Page 2
Click here for NotAWedding Page 3
Click here for NotAWedding Page 4
Here are some random tasters... there hundred loads more...
If you want to know anyone's name or phone number there will be a small donation to charity.
Wednesday, November 07, 2001
Last Night's Pop Quiz...
We had four bloggers in our team last night. David, Iain, Ian and myself. It was a bit of a wanky quiz that consisted of just cover versions – we had to spot whether the song played was a cover or the original version and also answer another question related to the song. These are the song they played (apologies for bad spelling it's been a tough day) . How many can you get right?
1. Billy Bragg - New England: original or cover?
2. Alan Price - I Put A Spell On You: original or cover? Who covered it in 1999?
3. You’re My World – Cilla Black: : original or cover? What’s Cilla Black’s full name (including the two middle names for a bonus point)?
4. This Is My Moment – Martine McCutcheon: original or cover?
5. Torn – Edna Swap: : original or cover? Who had the big hit with it?
6. Hey hey (kiss him goodbye) – Bananarama: original or cover? What year was Bananarama’s hit?
7. Always Can, Always will – Ace Of Base: original or cover? What is their country of origin?
8. Who Let The Dogs Out? – The Baha Men: : original or cover?
9. My Sweet Lord sung to the lyrics of He’s So Fine: name the two bands?
10. Sunshine After The Rain – Elkie Brooks: : original or cover? Name the album it came from?
11. The Shoop-Shoop Song – Linda Lewis: original or cover? Name the film that Cher promoted using this song?
12. Heaven For Everyone – Queen: original or cover?
13. Gloria – Jonathan King: original or cover?
14. Spot the connection between ‘How Deep Is You Love?’, ‘It Only Takes A Minute’ and ‘Relight My Fire’?
15. Spot the odd one out between ‘How Deep Is You Love?’, ‘It Only Takes A Minute’ and ‘Relight My Fire’?
16. Brandy (sung to the tune of ‘Mandy’) - Scott English: original or cover?
17. You Showed Me – The Byrds: original or cover? Who had a hit with it recently?
18. I’ve Never Been To Me – Marti Caine: original or cover? (Quote of the night: Yes, she is dead, she was ginger”)
19. Mama Told Me Not To Come – Three Dog Night: original or cover? Who dueted with Tom Jones in a recent cover?
20. It’s A Sin sung to the lyrics of Wild World: name the two bands?
We got sixteen right. The winners got seventeen and a half but only won vodka shots as a reward. Ha!
This Friday Mark and I are off to South Africa for our Not-A-Honeymoon. We are staying in Cape Town for the first weekend, hiring a car and doing the 'Garden Route' for three or four days and then back into town for the final weekend. Have you been to Cape Town or Soth Africa before? Is there anything we really have to do or anywhere we really have to go?
Tuesday, November 06, 2001
More details later...
We did lose.
We are going to lose I feel.
(this blogged from my phone halfway through the Pop Quiz)
I got 96.0%. What more can I say?
I so want one of these...
With the Keykatcher you can find out credit card numbers, passwords, secret messages and eavesdrop on friends and foe alike. All you need to do is plug a keyboard into it and it into the back of a computer. It stores all the keystrokes that are typed and you can download them as a text file later. Simple, ingenious and an absolute nightmare for security. What would you use it for?
Monday, November 05, 2001
I scored 72.
You seem to have found a balance between absolute asceticism and utter hedonism. You enjoy the titillation of the senses, but aren't driven to senseless ecstasy by the smell of a flower, the taste of rich chocolate cake with whipped cream, or the touch of a lover. You are able to appreciate and even lose yourself in the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and feel of life. But you aren't totally pleasure-driven and you are able to keep your emotions balanced.
How about you?
[Thanks to Shel for the link]
Twhistle twhile you twork...
According to Microsoft, if you attempt to play the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Platinum Collection DVD movie in Windows, you may experience the following behaviours: Audio and video playback is garbled or indistinct. Why single out Ms White - I thought most Windows DVD playback was pretty cruddy?
A few more pix...
And thank you to Roger for these pix.
Sunday, November 04, 2001
Saturday, November 03, 2001
The big day...
Three hours to go. Eeks. I have a flotilla of butterflies in my stomach.
Friday, November 02, 2001
Ding-dong the bells are going to chime,
Pull out the stopper,
Let's have a whopper,
But get me to the
I've got to be there in the morning,
Spruced up and looking in my prime,
Boys come and kiss me,
Show how you'll miss me,
But get me to the
If I am flying,
Then shoot me down,
If I am wooing,
Get him out of town!
Oh, I'm getting
Ding-dong the bells are going to chime,
Kick up a rumpus,
But don't lose the compas
And get me to the
Get me to the
For Gawd's sake,
Get me to the
Thursday, November 01, 2001
If you like cartoons you'll love the Powerpuff Girls. I first got into them when my friend Jason sent me a VHS over from Barcelona and commanded that I watch. I did. It was fab. The three big-eyed ladies in question fight crime and world problems with style, humour and oft a surreal twist. It's funny and well scripted so you don't have to be a kid to enjoy it. Their overlarge pupils make them look as if they are on ecstacy which all kind of fits into the cute graphics too.
Well all is not well in cartoon land. It turns out our cuddly threesome have a dark secret. They've been spreading a hasty little virus called Funlove on their latest DVD, Meet The Beat Alls. Tsk, tsk, ladies.
I've just booked some tickets to go and see Marc Almond at the Union Chapel just before Christmas. He did a simply superb show last year - that will be out on CD next spring - so I'm really keen to see him again. The Union Chapel is a great venue made all the better for being five minutes walk from where we live.
I was less than impressed by the fees charged by TicketMaster. Each ticket is £18-50 - fair, enough. The booking fee is £2-00 - seems a bit steep to me but there you go. The postage and packing is £4-50 though! If it doesn't turn up in a Securicor van with four armed guards I'll want to know why. Not only that but as I was booking tickets for two gigs on successive nights I was charged the delivery charge twice. That's £9 to get my tickets from a venue 300 yards away from my front door. Outrageous!
Last Night In Sodom...
Soft Cell played to a near capacity crowd last night at Brixton’s Academy. The mood of the crowd was good and when the show started at 9pm the place erupted. Marc looked like a man in command of his audience from the start. He strode around the stage in his Soft Cell persona of Handsome Jack, deliverer of barbed stories of Hell, torment and the low, low life. There was not too much in the way of the banter we’ve come to know and love from his solo shows. However he made a few jokes about, “I see you’ve dressed up as it’s Hallowe’en” – his fans always dress like that! And when introducing “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” he said, “And now that David Gray song…”
The full set listing was similar to the two Ocean gigs but with one extra song:-
The Best Way To Kill
The Art Of Falling Apart
Somebody Somewhere Sometime
God Shaped Hole (It was the first time I had heard this – and I love it!)
Tainted Love / Where Did Our Love Go?
Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
In a few places Marc seemed to forget the words which prompted some of us afterwards to speculate whether he was back on the drugs. Let’s hope so. In some ways it was his creative muse.
Midnight in Sodom...
Just got in. What a fab show the boys gave us. More later.
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