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
Thursday, October 31, 2002
Can't get to sleep tonight...
The theory goes: 'stay awake as long as possible to adjust to Oz time more quickly'. Some theory.
I've managed to stay awake thus far using a (not so unique) combination of stimulants: eating, drinking, shopping and casual sex. But I'm now flagging badly. The fatigue is actually beginning to drive me slightly mad. Proof, if proof were needed, being provided by recent trip to the record shop produced purchases of such dodgy CDs as The Donna Summer Anthology, Enigma's Greatest Hits and that ruddy Ketchup song. God, I must really need sleep badly.
And final confirmation of my poor state of mind from lack of sleep came when Mark returned from going out to buy some diet coke. He came back to discover me dancing on the coffee table with Las Ketchup blaring out at full volume. Lordy. I was even seeing Ketchup bottles dancing up there with me. He managed to talk me down eventually and into bed babling about ketchup.
Sleep deprivation is a terrible thing, my friends, and the delirium it produces takes many weird forms. Just say 'no'.
Those first impressions...
We arrived in Sydney this morning (i.e. Thursday) at 6:20am after a couple of very long flights (stopping at Singapore to take on fuel and dispel the 12 hours of passenger farts). Weather here is warm, sunny and well disposed. Rather like the people. The place we are staying is right in the middle of the gay area (Oxford Street) and a couldn't be nicer. We found our apartment quite easily in fact - just followed the trail of rainbow flags. We've probably got one of the best suites in the place actually - we're on the 14th floor with a commanding view of the city. Dave very kindly put us up for a while after our arrival while we got our hotel room sorted and gave us many pointers for places to visit and things to do. He is such a nice man.
At the moment I am fighting to stay awake (it's about 11am) but the sight of the semi-naked beefcake walking up and down Oxford Street and the fact that all 82 members of the various UK Swimming teams are all staying in our apartment block might just be the stimulant I need. No worries (as they say endlessly here).
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible...
As I will be flying to the other side of the world for the next day or two. Wish me luck.
Tonight we're off to Oz. Hurray! But the movies on the plane look less than inspiring. Which do you recommend staying awake for?
Insomnia 1:58 | THRILLER | M Stars: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank Director: Chris Nolan
Director Chris Nolan follows his brilliant film Memento with a psychological thriller set in the 24-hour daylight of a small Alaskan town. After a shocking murder, two LA detectives are sent to investigate. Both, however, are in trouble for not playing by the rules. And soon they're investigation is compromised by a killer who knows their dirty secrets.
Works up a respectable level of bleary-eyed paranoia Village Voice
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood 1:56 | COMEDY DRAMA | M
Stars: Sandra Bullock, Ellen Burstyn Director: Callie Khouri
Vivi, a southern matron, is shocked when her daughter, Sidda, a New York playwright, reveals to a journalist she was abused as a child. So Vivi's three childhood friends, the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, go to New York, drug Sidda, and bring her back to the south to learn the truth about her upbringing.
A movie resolutely for and about women NEW YORK TIMES
The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course 1:30 | ACTION COMEDY | PG
Stars: Steve Irwin, Magda Szubanski, David Wenham Director: John Stainton
Crocodile wrestler Steve Irwin wrestler a croc away from some poachers, only to find it's swallowed a secret electronic beacon and the poachers are US agents trying to get it back. To save the croc, Steve heads outback where he's sure he can lose them. Sound just a teensy bit familiar?
Delivers exactly what it promises Variety
Life or Something Like It 1:43 / ROMANTIC COMEDY / M
Stars: Angelina Jolie, Edward Burns Director: Stephen Herek
TV anchor woman Lanie has it all great job, baseball jock fiancee until a homeless man predicts three things: the score of her mans next game, the weather the next day, and that shell be dead in a week. When the predictions start coming true, she tries to turn her life and her heart around ... fast.
Bend it Like Beckham 1:52 | COMEDY | PG
Stars: Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley Director: Gurinder Chadha
If you're young and can bend a kick like English soccer captain David Beckham, you're going to be a star. Unless, that is, you're a girl. Jess and Jules form an unlikely friendship as they struggle to realise their dreams while dealing with issues of race, gender and love.
The biggest UK sleeper hit since The Full Monty Empire Magazine
Men in Black ll 1:26 | COMEDY | PG
Stars: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Lara Flynn Boyle Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Initially, Agent Jay is the only man in black his sidekick is an alien pug dog. But Jay is forced to enlist his old partner Agent Kay in order to stop the villainous alien Serleena from finding a mysterious light force. The Men In Black then get to work amid some of the best special effects, and witty asides, in the business.
At times jaw-droppingly impressive The Australian
Monday, October 28, 2002
Dark, Darkest, Darko...
Marky, Nikki and I went to see Donnie Darko at the movies last night.
Back To The Future meets Twin Peaks meets Halloween meets ET meets The Abyss meets Star Trek meets The Last Temptation Of Christ meets Harvey meets Stephen King meets Married With Children meets Amercian Werewolf In London meets...
Weird, funny and who-cares-if-it's-derivative-or-that-the-ending-is-a-bit-weak-it's-great. Go see. Especially on 30th October if you can.
A bunch of us went to see Abigail's Party on Friday at the
Friday, October 25, 2002
A vacationing penguin ...
A vacationing penguin is driving through Arizona and sees that the car's oil-pressure light is on. He gets out looking and sees oil dripping out of the motor. He drives slowly and carefully to the nearest town and stops at the first gas station.
After dropping the car off, the penguin goes for a walk around town. He sees an ice cream shop, and being a penguin in Arizona, decides that something cold would really hit the spot. He gets a big dish of vanilla ice cream and sits down to eat. Having no hands, he makes a real mess trying to eat with his little flippers.
After finishing his ice cream, he goes back to the gas station and asks the mechanic if he's found the problem.
The mechanic looks up from the engine and says, "It looks like you've blown a seal."
"No, no," the penguin replies, wiping his mouth, "it's just ice cream."
[Thanks to Guy for passing on the gag - had me in stitches]
Microsoft Announces Ads for BSOD...
Redmond, WA - In an effort to boost sagging revenue growth, Microsoft today announced it will begin selling advertising space on the company's world famous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)©. The screen, displayed whenever Windows cannot recover from an error in the operating system's core, until now has historically served as a display of unintelligible diagnostic data that has not made any sense to anyone, ever, according to a survey conducted by the Gartner Group. In addition, the BSOD has scared most users because it was composed mainly of hexadecimal digits that, which in extreme cases, can lead to hallucinations, epileptic seizures and deviant behaviour in primates and rats.
"Past efforts to make the blue screen more helpful by adding animated characters and changing the hue to a more user-friendly beige or aqua have failed," said head of BSOD Development Kate Verban. "When we failed to make the BSOD user-friendly, we decided that at least it could generate revenue. Displayed more than a billion times a day globally, the blue screen has a captive audience, with over 90 percent of the computer desktops in the world. This makes it an excellent platform for advertisers, comparable only to watching BBC's Fame Academy and makes watching the blue screen just about as exciting."
Tom Gordon, Director of Marketing for Anheuser-Busch, confirmed today that the beverage giant will be among the first advertisers, "We think it's a tremendous opportunity," said Gordon. "Picture this, you're working late at night on a crucial project. Your computer crashes. You've lost all your important work. It's definitely time for a beer, and we'll be there to remind you that the beer should be a beechwood-aged Budweiser. We like to call it 'The Bud Screen Of Death'."
For earlier versions of Windows, the BSOD ads will be installed using the Windows Update feature. However, Windows XP systems connected to the Internet will automatically install the new software in the middle of the night when no one is looking.
Thursday, October 24, 2002
Oz travel details...
Dep. LONDON HEATHROW on Tue 29 October 2002 at 22:15. Arr. SINGAPORE on Wed 30 October 2002 at 18:55.
(dash across tarmac to waiting plane)
Dep. SINGAPORE on Wed 30 October 2002 at 20:00. Arr. SYDNEY on Thu 31 October 2002 at 06:20.
(hang around for 8 hours until we can check in)
SAVILLE PARK SUITES, 16-32 OXFORD STREET, SYDNEY NSW 2010 AUSTRALIA
(suffer severe bed-bound jet-lag for two weeks)
Dep. SYDNEY on Wed 13 November 2002 at 12:20. Arr. CAIRNS on Wed 13 November 2002 at 14:20.
(tropical heat; insect and spider bites expected - lose leg in frenzied shark attack)
OASIS RESORT CAIRNS 122 LAKE STREET PO BOX 928 CAIRNS, QUEENSLAND,4870 AUSTRALIA
(get stung by jellyfish on remaining leg and stay in bed for 5 days - get up in middle of the night and hobble to airport for leaving flight)
Dep. CAIRNS on Tue 19 November 2002 at 06:15. Arr. AYERS ROCK on Tue 19 November 2002 at 08:55.
(hop around for 4 hours until we can check in)
THE LOST CAMEL HOTEL YULARA, YULARA DRIVE, AYERS ROCK, NT,0872 AUSTRALIA
(crawl all over ancient Aborigine monument of Ayes Rock and pick up local death curse)
Dep. AYERS ROCK on Wed 20 November 2002 at 12:50. Arr. SYDNEY on Wed 20 November 2002 at 17:20.
(stay in apartment nursing remaining leg, jellyfish sting and recent death curse)
SAVILLE PARK SUITES, 16-32 OXFORD STREET, SYDNEY NSW 2010 AUSTRALIA
(finally begin to get used to 10 hour time difference with UK just as it's time to...)
Dep. SYDNEY on Sat 23 November 2002 at 17:00. Arr. LONDON HEATHROW on Sun 24 November 2002 at 05:40.
(severe zombie jet-lag as arrive in UK and turn up at office to face four week work backlog)
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
BBC 1 Police 0...
Dr Who's Tardis has been wrestled out of Police hands.
...arbitrator Shaun Sherlock remarked that even if the police had built up any reputation, it would have only been in the area of policing and law enforcement and would not have extended into the goods and services which the BBC had applied to use it for.
I love that 'if' in there. Since when did such a small word say so much?
I've been driving in my car...
Next week Marky and I are going to Australia. We're principally going down for the Sydney 2002 Gay Games but also for a bit of a holiday.
We've been planning the trip for four years now - the day we got back from the Gay Games in 1998 which was held in Amsterdam was the day we started dreaming of going to Australia. We'd had the most fantastic time in Amsterdam and if there was to be even just the smallest chance of the slightest whiff of the same atmosphere in Sydney then we knew we had to go.
Now I've never been to Oz and so am not really sure what to expect. Have any of you been before? What are Australians like in their native habitat? Is there anything I just must see/do?
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
What's wrong with this picture?...
Check out this picture, its a real picture taken by an old lady somewhere in America. Keep looking at the left window and turn the volume up a bit................. (and oldie but a goodie)
What a Pong...
Ben and Sarah came over for lunch on Sunday. It was great to see them, as ever, but especially so because Ben had brought with him a recent eBay purchase of an old fashioned 1970s (?) Benatone video console. He'd bought it for just a tenner and before long we had it plugged in and where playing it with the same enthusiasm that we might have done 25 years ago - 'tennis', 'football' and 'squash'. The bat sizes could be switched to 'big' or 'small'. The ball speed to 'fast' or 'slow'. The angel of deflection to '20' or '40'. And the sound when you hit the ball was that oh so pleasing 'bing' noise. Ah how the memories came flooding back. Amazing how much fun you can get out of twisting one little knob. Missus.
(click for bigger images)
Sunday, October 20, 2002
Friday, October 18, 2002
Busy, busy, busy...
I had an early morning meeting with one of our consultants yesterday. And then a four hour meeting with BT. And then another one hour meeting internally with my boss. I then had all my normal daily work to catch up on. It turned into a 12 hour day at work in the end. And when I got home the plumber due on Tuesday came round to try and fix a leaky tap. But he couldn't. So he's back on Sunday.
This morning I got up early and had to rush down to the Islington Council offices to get a parking permit for the new car. £95 for the privilege of parking outside my own flat, thanks very much. I also had to phone for another plumber to come this morning to fix our combination boiler as it's on the blink. £85 per hour + materials + VAT - we'll see how much that little lot costs.
And I'm meeting my parents, aunt and brother for lunch too. And picking up the new car today.
It's all go.
I was in John Lewis yesterday buying a birthday present for my mother. I was on the 5th floor on my way back to the lifts where I had to wait what seemed like an age for one to arrive. Next to the lifts in the Wedding List area was a man who was shouting very loudly into a mobile phone. I guess it was an International call: "NO. NO. I KNOW. YES, BALI. THE WEDDING WAS IN BALI. I'LL ASK IF THEY CAN GET THE MONEY BACK FOR THE GIFTS? (pause) OK. YES. I WILL. YES. (pause) YOU TOO. BYE".
Thursday, October 17, 2002
Typical! A new library opens and they're closed on Tuesdays! Still I imagine they expect to offset the $220m building costs against the 2,500 year late book return fine that Archimedes and Euclid both have outstanding.
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
Pop Quiz answers...
1. Check the Meaning
2. Come Back Around
3. All My Life
4. For Lovers, Buck, Learn To Fly
6. Add N to (X)
8. Johnny Slut
9. Joe Dolce, The Tweets
10. Rick Dees and His Cast Of Idiots, Los Del Rio
11. The Krankies, Starturn on 45 Pints
12. His Name was Ernie and he drove the fastest milkcart in the West
15. House Of The Rising Sun
16. Ghost Town
17. Back For Good
19. Marvin Gaye
20. Bobby Goldboro
21. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay
Now we hadn't been to one of these in a while but last night Darren, David, Jim and I ventured forth into the October night air to pick our pop wits against London's finest pop trivia anoraks.
The quiz was tough as there was big money at stake. We did reasonably well (17 out of a possible 22) but the winners did better (20.5).
Here are the questions. See how you do.
1. What is Richard Ashcroft's current single called?
2. What is Feeder's current single called?
3. What is the Foo Fighter's current single called?
4. Hits from the above three - fill in the blanks: A song For _ ; _ Rogers ; Learn _ _
5. Who cancelled a gig this week in London?
6. Who else cancelled a gig this week in London?
7. Where were the gigs to be held? (Hint: Hot chocolate, Temptation and Smiths)
8. A Cabaret Voltaire song has just been rereleased - what's the connection between that song and The Specimen and Atomizer?
9. Who sang Shutupa ya face? The Birdie Song?
10. Who sang Disco Duck? The Macarena?
11. Who sang We're Going To Spain? Pump Up The Bitter?
12. "You could hear the hoof beats pound as they raced across the ground, And the clatter of the wheels as they spun 'round and 'round.
And he galloped into market street, his badge upon his chest..." What are the next 13 words?
13. Add up the numbers: Temptation + a big Prince hit + Summertime Funsters + Red, Red Wine + Nena + Paul Hardcastle
14. What song have the Sugarbabes just covered?
15. What song have Muse just covered?
16. What song have the Prodigy just covered?
17. What song has McAlmont and Butler just covered?
18. Who sang I Can't Let Maggie Go?
19. Who sang I heard It Through The Grapevine?
20. Who sang Honey?
21. What is the exact title of Otis Reddig's song that starts "Sitting in the morning sun, I'll be sitting when the evening comes
Watching the ships roll in, And I watch 'em roll away again..."
22. What year were the previous four songs hits?
Tough quiz, huh?
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
Who needs a car in London? Certainly not me.
- cars are expensive to buy
- cars depreciate quickly
- cars are expensive to run #1 car tax
- cars are expensive to run #2 insurance in London is ridiculously high
- cars are expensive to run #3 need a parking permit to park outside my own front door
- cars are expensive to run #4 petrol is expensive - and working for an oil company I should know!
- cars are expensive to run #5 congestion charges coming soon
- cars are expensive to run #6 car parking / parking meters for very expensive
- cars are expensive to run #7 annual MOT
- cars are expensive to run #8 regular servicing costs
- I don't have a garage
- cars get scratched by yobs
- I can't drink and drive
- I can't drive a car to work
- there is very good public transport in London (taxis, buses, tubes and rail) making a car redundant
- I'm always too tired to drive after work or at weekends to drive
- I can never find anywhere to park a car anyway
- I never go out of London
- driving a car is dangerous (to me and to other people on the road)
- cars cause pollution
- London is one big traffic jam (and not just during rush hour)
- the new traffic calming schemes slow things even more
- London has road works aplenty
- bus lanes slow traffic to a stand still
- red routes mean you can't park cars outside shops anymore
- cars bring on road rage
So guess what I did yesterday? Yes, I bought a car.
Monday, October 14, 2002
Did you know that Dougal is call Pollux in France? Or as we used to call him as kids, Bollocks. Oh, how we laughed.
When I was nine years old I built a model Dougal to enter into a Cub Scout model making competition. I made it out of cardboard boxes, old newspapers and a lot of artistic licence. I wasn't a very good model maker but I had had a secret plan that would guarantee me first place in the competition. What my model may have lacked in artistic flare it was going to make up for in size. Using the maxim that bigger is better my Dougal was going to be HUGE.
It took me three full days to make. It ended up being four feet high, six feet long and two feet wide. It was truly a monster. When collapsed down it only just about fitted in my parent's stationwagon.
The day of the event arrived and we drove full of high hopes with my Dougal packed safely in the back. At the event itself we borrowed a step-ladder to assemble my Dougal and it was undoubtable the stand-out attraction of the competition. Everyone came to have a look. I just knew I was going to win. Big is best, right? However fate was not on my side. The judges made there tour and a hush descended as the winner was announced. And it wasn't me! It was some stupid boy with his Airfix model of a Spitfire! I was outraged. A rumour quickly spread around the room (spread mainly by me in a very loud stage whisper) that his Dad had helped him build the model plane (strictly against the rules) but no avail. No rejudgement was announced. I am not proud of what happened next.
I wish I could say I shook hands with the winner and was gracious in defeat but sadly that is far, far from the truth. I went beetroot in colour and threw a tantrum. A big one. First I cried. Loudly. My parents tried to comfort me but I was having none of it. Then I grumpily kicked my Dougal. Gently at first but then again a bit harder. And then again harder still. Everyone was looking. Then I set about it with such ferocity that in minutes it lay in pieces. I'd kicked in half way round the room and my Dougal lay at my feet. Dead. I then fell upon it and burst into tears of inconsolable misery. I could see other parents ushering their children aware from this dangerous child psychopath as my Dad gathered me up and gave me a rare hug. Probably reckoning on smothering the howling noise I was making as much as anything else. I remember little of the journey home.
I never entered a Cub Scout competition again. And I still bear the emotional scars from that second place red rosette that my mother rescued from my flattened giant Dougal as we left. I've never apologised to my parents for the scene I created that day. Perhaps I really should.
Sunday, October 13, 2002
Sports and Shorts...
Marky and I went to Sports and Shorts last night at the Stag in Victoria. We were both sporting our new Arsenal kits - me 'home' and Marky 'away'. David, Dave, Mark, Ian, David, Spence, Glenn et al were all in attendance - things got a bit dodgy at one or two points but that's dodgy in a good way :-)
Friday, October 11, 2002
Bluetooth finally puts down roots...
Momentum for Bluetooth is building as Microsoft and other mainstream suppliers incorporate the short-range wireless technology into their products ranges. An interim release of Windows XP will have it built in from the end of the year and an automatic download will be available this month. Apple has added support to Max OS X. IBM have put it in their ThinkPad X30. HP in the Desktop 450 printer and Palm has it in their new PDA. Volkwagen are even planning on putting it in the dashboards of their cars for use with mobile phones. And Tefal have a plan to use Bluetooth to allow kitchen saucepans let you know when food is cooked by making your phone beep. A sort of high tech egg-timer. I wonder if they'll get PANned? PANned?! Geddit?! PAN? Personal Area Network - PAN. No? Oh well, suit yourselves.
I met up with my sister, Joanna, last night and all her T-Mobile pals for a drink or three - already hammered when I joined them, their Upper Street bar tour continued apace. Finally we settled on a dance bar that had cheap beer and enough space for us all. Fun was had and 1am soon came round. It was time to stagger home. Or so I thought. But there were other plans afoot. Oh dear.
From nowhere Jo piped up, "let's all go to the Glory Hole". What?!! God knows how she knew about Central Station's Thursday night of sleaze - I must have mentioned it at some point I guess. She was determined that we all go to Kings Cross and despite my protestations cabs where flagged down. And so persuasive was my sister that she managed to convince the straight boys to go too. This was such a bad idea. Oh dear.
I woke up this morning in a very bad state, not remembering quite what had gone on the night before. As I sit here now at my PC and piece together the night I remember only three things:-
1. Playing the game Which three women would you sleep with? / Which three men would you sleep with? with all the straight boys - they loved it.
2. Buying a bottle of champagne for no apparent reason
3. Taking an Italian straight boy for a 'fact finding mission' of the Central Station dark rooms - he was frankly speaking, quite shocked.
Thursday, October 10, 2002
New Magic Roundabout film...
What slightly irritated me about the Magic Roundabout publicity this morning was that BBC Radio One, unlike other BBC sources, claimed that this will be the first Magic Roundabout film to be made. False. The video of Dougal And The Blue Cat (1972) was my constant companion through my alcohol fuelled late-70s and drug fuelled 80s. Essential late night viewing.
Dougal And The Blue Cat is quite a creepy little film with a strong psychedelic feel - everything in the garden starts to turn blue, the Roundabouters get brainwashed, Florence gets kidnapped and tied up in chains in a dungeon and Dylan trips out big time. Only Dougal is left to save the day...
Bremner, Bird & Fortune...
Last night Roger and I went to see Rory Bremner, John Bird and John Fortune live on stage at the Albery Theatre in a show called Beware Of Imitations. We both roared with laughter for two solid hours as the boys ribbed Blair, Bush, Duncan-Smith etc al. All very, very clever and very, very funny. Satire is indeed alive and well and on the West End stage.
John Wayne is Boot-leggy...
The next big Sugababes-style pop bootleg is going to be Liberty X's Ain't Nobody/Being Boiled.
[According to Popbitch]
Bored of the Things...
50 reasons why Lord Of The Rings sucks.
Wednesday, October 09, 2002
Why matchstick people are extinct...
Best of Bond...
The BBC web site is running a Who's the best Bond thingy?
So how this for a meme? What is your...
1. Best Bond?
2. Best Bond film?
3. Best Bond girl?
4. Best Bond song?
5. Best Bond bit?
Best Bond: Sean Connery (especially in Goldfinger and Thunderball)
Best Bond film: Live And Let Die (with Roger Moore as Bond)
Best Bond girl: Honor Blackman (leather clad Pussy Galore in Goldfinger)
Best Bond song: Diamonds Are Forever - Shirley Bassey
Best Bond bit: Sean Connery as Bond is strapped to Goldfinger's laser table and says "You don't expect me to talk do you, Goldfinger?". Gert Frobe's reply, "No, Mr Bond. I expect you to die"
If you publish your answers let me know and I'll link back to you - or leave your answers in my comments.
Rumour has it Paul has left A1. Chig will be gutted if it's true.
Tuesday, October 08, 2002
Marc gets a hernia...
Soft Cell postpone tour as singer falls ill
Soft Cell have been forced to postpone their forthcoming tour, which was due to start next week.
Marc Almond was taken severely ill in the early hours of this morning with an aggravated hernia.
It is thought he will require an immediate operation.
The UK and European tour, which was due to commence in 6 days, will be rescheduled for the New Year.
Soft Cell's manager said: "This is a very unfortunate event particularly considering the fantastic reception the band's recent live shows and new album have received.
"We are very disappointed that Soft Cell will miss the opportunity to play to their European fans but it is impossible that Marc could perform effectively in his current condition.
"We are confident that Marc will be able to perform on the band's American tour in November as planned and will be fully fit for rescheduled dates in the New Year."
I'll be honest with you, I wasn't going anyway. I think I've seen them enough times this year (five? six?).
[Thanks to David for the heads up and Mike for the sidebar up]
(Can you keep a secret? Can you? The term Brixton Rare doesn't appear in Google. Well, it doesn't appear as I am writing this anyways - but maybe that will change when the google-bots get me. Oh, no! Not the google-bots!)
On my journey up to Brum on Friday afternoon I sat next to a man, Grant - Irish, straight, blue eyes and gorgeous. Naturally enough we got talking. I say 'naturally' not because I was trying to chat him up or anything but because he had the gift of the gab. In fact he didn't stop talking for the whole journey. He'd not so much kissed the Blarney Stone as deep throated it. But he was pleasant enough so I didn't mind.
We talked about everything - his travels, my travels, his sons, my dead cat, his ex-wife, my XDA and (once I'd told him I was gay) his trips to gay clubs. Eventually conversation got round to pills and dope. Not that I partake anymore you understand but Grant had an interesting tale to tell. He told me about a service called Brixton Rare based - surprise, surprise - in Brixton.
The service is run by two men who will deliver dope to your front door. You simply call them up and tell them what you want - Afgan, South African, Columbian whatever - and it is hand delivered pre-weighed and stapled close (with a special tamper-free staple) to 'guarantee' purity. Whatsmore, £2 of every purchase is donated to one of two hard drugs misuse charities. You choose which one you want it to go to at time of delivery. You can get their telephone number only by recommendation by an existing customer. Grant tried to give me the number but I refused. Sadly the service only runs in Southawk and I though moving there too higher price to pay.
So how's that for free enterprise? Grooming themselves for full legalisation, perhaps?
Did anyone see the Simpsons on Sunday night? It was moved to the 9pm slot so it was after the watershed. It was hilarious. Homer get 'addicted' to smoking dope. Exxxx-cell-ent. I still love that show even thirteen series in.
ANIMATION: The Simpsons
Channel: Sky One
Date: Sunday 6th October 2002
Time: 21:00 to 21:30
Duration: 30 minutes.
Weekend at Burnsie's. Series 13, episode 16.
After being attacked by crows, Homer is prescribed medical marijuana for the pain. One of the side-effects is that he laughs at all of Mr Burns's jokes, leading Burns to promote him to executive vice president
(New Episode, Subtitles, 4 Star)
Monday, October 07, 2002
Roger and I spent a
On Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting Chig (see pictures below). We had talked on the phone at length before we met just to confirm where and when etc. - there was a little flirting on that call but not too much. Chig even offered me his gaydar profile so I could see what he looked like - a fact which said less about Chig's forwardness than it did about how at easy he must have felt after our brief conversation. The allotted time was 1:30pm.
We eventually met 30 minutes later due to heavy traffic in The Green Room opposite the Hippodrome which is one of Chig's favourite haunts. We devoured some beer, some food (him veggie, me stuffed potato skins) and both finished off with hot chocolate with double-cream and flakes (diet be damned!). We talked about work, where we lived, who we knew and who we didn't. We discovered friends in common via Chig's work (which was perhaps unremarkable considering what he does). We touched on football and boys and boy-bands and music and blogging and bloggers and Korbyn and more music and Soft Cell and A1 and Birmingham and The 'Gale and The Green House and The Green Room and everything. I asked questions I shouldn't ("So who *do* you have sex with?") and forgot to ask ones I should have ("So how do you know Mike, then?"). We chatted and chatted and chatted and chatted. I now know where Chig's name comes from, where he lives, what he does do and what it doesn't. I know how much he drinks, why he gets to meet so many famous people and what he listens to at work. All very personal things I'm sure you'll agree.
Full set of pictures here.
So three hours later after I'd sucked out everything from him we went milling around Birmingham Town Centre - first a record shop (did Chig wait especially for my arrival before pointed buying Soft Cell's Cruelty Without Beauty?) then W H Smith's and finally Woolies. We stopped and watched Morris Dancers do there stuff and took snaps for a while - (quite rightly) Chig wouldn't pose with them despite my protestations. He ain't the media whore I am.
He walked me back towards my hotel when I was due to meet Roger and he gave me a quick peck on the cheek to say goodbye. As he did this three teenage girls walking past made a big "ERRRRRRRRR!!!" sound in disgust when they saw us kiss. "Were they doing that to us?", Chig asked glancing across at me nervously. "Who cares?", I replied. And we didn't.
So a nice afternoon, with a nice guy. What more could you want?
Oh, apart from a four hour trip to the sauna later that day... but that's another story.
Speed Cup Stacking...
This is simply bizarre.
[Thanks to Rog for the link]
Friday, October 04, 2002
The World's Funniest Joke -- Official...
From Reuters yesterday:
After a year of painstaking scientific research, the world's funniest joke was revealed on yesterday.
In a project described as the largest-ever scientific study into humour, the British Association for the Advancement of Science asked Internet users around the world to submit their favourite jokes and rate the funniness of other people's offerings.
More than 40,000 jokes from 70 countries and two million critiques later, this is it:
"Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other man pulls out his phone and calls emergency services.
He gasps to the operator: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator in a calm, soothing voice replies: "Take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead."
There is a silence, then a shot is heard.
Back on the phone, the hunter says, "Ok, now what?"
Researchers found significant differences between nations in the types of jokes they found funny.
People from the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Australia and New Zealand preferred gags involving word play, such as:
PATIENT: "Doctor, I've got a strawberry stuck up my bum."
DOCTOR: "I've got some cream for that."
Americans and Canadians favoured jokes where people were made to look stupid.
TEXAN: "Where are you from?"
HARVARD GRAD: "I come from a place where we do not end our sentences with prepositions."
TEXAN: "OK -- where are you from, jackass?"
Meanwhile, many Europeans liked gags that were surreal or made light of serious subjects such as illness, death and marriage:
A patient says, "Doctor, last night I made a Freudian slip, I was having dinner with my mother-in-law and wanted to say: 'Could you please pass the butter?'
"But instead I said: 'You silly cow, you have completely ruined my life."'
Marriage-mocking also featured in the top American joke:
"A man and a friend are playing golf one day. One of the guys is about to chip onto the green when he sees a long funeral procession on the road next to the course.
"He stops in mid-swing, takes off his golf cap, closes his eyes, and bows down in prayer. His friend says: 'Wow that is the most thoughtful and touching thing I have ever seen. You are truly a kind man.'
"The man then replies: 'Yeah, well, we were married 35 years."'
Death earned big laughs in Scotland:
"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers."
And animals figured prominently. Take the number one joke in England:
"Two weasels are sitting on a bar stool. One starts to insult the other one. He screams, 'I slept with your mother!'
"The bar gets quiet as everyone listens to see what the other weasel will do.
"The first again yells, 'I SLEPT WITH YOUR MOTHER!'
"The other says: 'Go home dad, you're drunk."'
The survey revealed other fun facts:
-- Of the countries rating the highest number of jokes, Germans, perhaps surprisingly, laughed the most. Canadians laughed least.
-- If you want to tell a funny animal joke, make it a duck.
-- The most frequently submitted joke, at 300 times, was: "What's brown and sticky? A stick."
Researchers said no one ever found it funny.
The findings can be read at www.laughlab.co.uk
When two bloggers collide...
This afternoon Rog and I are going up to Brum for the weekend. I'm hoping to get the 15:45 train from Euston due to arrive at Birmingham New Street at 17:22 (like that will happen!). We're staying to the Ibis as we did last time - very classy (not!) - and tonight we'll probably just do a bar crawl (not doubt ending up at Boots).
I'll have quite a bit of free time over the weekend as Roger is going to be working at the NEC every afternoon at The National Wedding Show. When he's working I'll probably head off to some sauna, cinema or a bar - just to pass the time you understand. On Sunday though I'm going to go to the actual show - I want to try on one of those wedding dresses!
Actually Chig and I are talking about getting together on Saturday afternoon for a coffee/drink/very mini-blog meet. I'm quite looking forward to it as we have never met before. And if anyone else wants to join us let me know.... or send me an e-mail or something.
A plane was about to crash and there were 5 people still on board but only 4 parachutes. The first person said. "I am Roy Keene, one of the best footballers in Ireland. I am worth a lot of money and my fans need me so I think I should be saved." The others agreed and gave him one of the parachutes and off he went.
The second person said "I am Gerry Adams, a radical Irish politician who can really help my country and I think I should be saved." The others said."OK" and gave him a parachute.
The third person said, "I am David Beckham, captain of the English National squad. I have a wife and 2 sons. Everyone knows I am a really nice guy and everyone thinks I am stupid, but I'm not, so I am taking a parachute." and off he went.
There were two folk left - the Pope and a 10-year-old schoolgirl. The Pope said, "child I am old and frail and have lived my life while you are young with everything before you. You take the parachute and I will stay with the aircraft and take my chance and make my peace with God."
"It's OK.." said the girl, "there are still two parachutes left. David Beckham picked up my schoolbag."
Thursday, October 03, 2002
I worked from home yesterday as the second strike hit the tube. I got quite a lot done though.
[Picture from Guy]
Wednesday, October 02, 2002
Last night's Faking It on Channel 4 was fantastic. Blokish ex-Navy decorated Petty Officer Spencer Bowdler from Heathrow had four weeks to become a drag queen - "Britney Ferry" - and he had to convince a panel of "experts" that he was the real thing. Apparently Spence, as he was known, had a (never seen) girlfriend of 8 years - a BA air hostess who was permanently in Sydney. And a brother who said, "He doesn't want to appear gay. He's not homophobic but he doesn't want to be 'tarred with the same brush'."
But any doubt about his sexuality were soon dismissed. After going to his first gay club in Brighton to see his new flat mate Dave Lynn performing he said, "I hated it. They were all dressed the same. Well, not the same but clubby. Well, not clubby but you know, gay. It was a gay club. Absolutely hated it. I won't be able to do it. There were men kissing. Gays. Kissing. Horrible." Things were not looking good.
With a hangover the next day Spence had to try to sing for the first time. And his singing coach was not impressed. "Give it a bit of oomph", his coach said. Spence appeared to be oomphless.
Next Spence had to try on a dress for the first time - one of Dave's. But he loses his bottle when he sees the red sequined outfit coming out of the closet, as it were, and runs from the room asking for the cameras to be turned off. Twenty minutes later he's back having had a pep talk from Dave and puts the dress on. In his head he seems to have made some sort of decision.
Dave Lynn said, "Spence is so macho. Naturally so. He's not putting it on. You would think someone who went in for this show would have a small degree of flair - but he has none."
Then the singing lessons started in earnest and were a bit of a struggle. Not being a naturally gifted singer means that things weren't looking too good at that point.
Getting a costume sorted was no easy task either. Spence and his dresser went to choose a sequined frock from a camp clothes shop packed full of sequined dresses in London. And it was hilarious. Spence tried on sequined dress after sequined dress until he eventually settled on one he thought he could just about stand to wear. Still be complained, "but this dress is sparkly". The dresser sighed, "Look around the shop, love! They all are!"
The wig fitting was a giggle too. He tried on wig after wig after wig. "I'll know when I find the right one", Spence ventured. Dave said, "there's an art to putting on wigs, you know. Put it on like a hat". So Spence bent forward, put a wig on and flicked his head up. And the wig went flying across the room.
A few days after the fitting Dave persuaded Spence to join him on stage as his assistant. It's a Sunday night at the Queen's Arms in Brighton and Spence has to help out with "Play Your Cards Right". Spence was crippled by nerves. "Oh well, out go the 3" heels and in come the 5" heels", he shrugged. And the newly born 'Billie Spencer' was born. And he was fantastic. A natural. No one was more surprised than he was. Perhaps there's hope for him yet as a drag queen yet. But he still had a long way to go. In the final test he would have to sing and tell jokes for 15 minutes and convince the panel he's a 'real' drag queen.
Further stage craft lessons followed and Spence practiced being a comedienne. He decided to emulate Dave and write some of his own material. "Hellooooo Brighton! I walked from Heathrow here tonight. Like my 3" heels? They were 17" before I started". And followed it up with, "Like the dress? One of Shirley's." (pause) "Valentine not Bassey!" Oh dear.
Flushed with confidence from his assistant's role Spence was set to appear solo for the first time in a 5 minute slot to try out his act. Co-stars The Dame Edna Experience and Regina Fong weren't fooled for one minute though that he was a fake as his first performance crashed and burned.
But when things took a turn for the worse a genuine camaraderie developed between Spence and Dave which was quite touching.
And when Spence made breakthroughs in his performance the beauty of the show really came through. No-one on the show was make to look a fool. You always wanted the person who was trying to 'fake it' to succeed. It was more about personal growth than about pretending to be something you're not.
And finally the big day arrived. The final test was to take place at The 2 Brewers in London. And nerves were on full show.
The hostess for the night was Lola Lasagna and four acts performing were:-
1. Miss Vanity Case
2. Lady Marquis
3. Rosy Tart
4. Britney Ferry (our very own faking it straight boy)
The judges are Jean T / Peter Reed-Smith / Peter McCloughlan.
One by one the competition came on stage and the judges are suitably impressed by each and every one. Three down, one to go. And there she was, a vision in orange feathers. And gave it his all... and despite our toes curling a bit at the start he actually did quite well... very well in fact... he's funny... and quite camp!
After the show the critics said: "He was a very bossy character on stage", "He has a strong voice", "Needs to be more in control of his audience". But were they fooled into thinking he was 'real'?
When asked who was the fake out of the four, the critics voted for: Vanity Case / Vanity Case / Roxy Tart respectively! So he had fooled them! Spence was overjoyed, "Dave, man. I love you, man. Fucking, yes! Cheers, doll. It's been the best month of my life." And we are overjoyed too. Genuinely pleased that his straight man could pass himself off as a grad queen - such is the power of the show.
The closing credits roll and Dave and Spence are in full drag singing Stand By Your Man as a duet. Arm in arm. Bless. What a great, great show Faking It is.
There is a new television channel being broadcast by the BBC called BBC4. It is a bit more high-brow than either BBC1 or BBC2 (and certainly more so than BBC
And to help with the advertising campaign for the channel there are billboards all over the country with famous people pictured in remote, solitary locations looking pensive (or perhaps just looking blank). Very deep, Auntie Beeb.
Funny then that on the way home last night I caught sight of one of these billboards with a red dot-matrix advertising screen just below it. The red screen usually has scrolling adverts on it but it had obviously crashed and was displaying the error "READY!!! MEMORY EMPTY"
Poor Ian McEwan. I hope you get your memory back.
Listen to Die Another Day...
You can listen to and download Madonna's Die Another Day here.
Tuesday, October 01, 2002
Cruelty Without Beauty...
Soft Cell's new album is out today. Hurray!
Review in one sentence: A set of great songs but I fear not good enough to win over the Great British record buying public.
Best track: Together Alone
Worst track: Last Chance
Full review in the next day or two.
Die Another Day...
I just heard Madonna's new single - Die Another Day - from the latest James Bond film of the same name. More plinky-plinky-plonky from Mirwais, I'm afraid. My only comment is: It's not Music.
It's only Hearsay...
But I hear Hear'say have split. What a great loss to the recording industry - we've lost our low-water mark.
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