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, January 31, 2003
When series one of 24 was being shown on TV here last year I never really go into it. I watched the end of one episode and decided that it required far too much commitment on my part - 24 one hour shows just seemed too much to take. Then just before Christmas Marky bought the entire series on DVD (6 DVDs, 4 episodes on each one) and we thought we'd give it another whirl. And we were hooked. We'd watch three or four episodes at a time. If you've not seen the show it's an every-episode-is-one-hour kind of a thing, in this case in the life of a terrorism prevention unit in the States centring around the head of that unit, Jack, who's wife and daughter are kidnapped. The plot twists and turns and the action thrills and spills making for a white knuckle show. Mostly high drama. Sometimes melodrama. But always exciting.
The Sunday before last we finished a particularly long marathon session of watching four episodes on DVD in a row (all of them filled with the usual car chases, shoot-outs, screeching of tyres, helicopters flying overhead that we'd come to expect). Towards the end I dozed off to sleep. I was awoken at around 2am by a real helicopter flying overhead, what sounded like an explosion and the sound of screeching tyres in the street outside. But I must have been dreaming. The show was still in my head. So I dozed off again. But sure enough, when I woke up the next day it turned out that it hadn't been a dream at all. Finsbury Park Mosque, just up the road from us, had been raided by the police in full assault mode. Yikes! Art/Life Life/Art.
Well series two of 24 starts showing in a couple of weeks time here. But those naughty people at the BBC are doing something rather
Thursday, January 30, 2003
City Of God...
If you get a chance go and see the film City Of God, do. It is an engrossing, thrilling, fantastic, moving, relentless, funny, violent film - largely peopled with amateur actors. Set in Brazil and based on a true story of various boys growing up in a ghetto (the "City Of God") in Rio de Janeiro. Starting in the 60s the action (and there's plenty of it) sweeps you along to the 80s as you follow at least a dozen or so people as they get caught up in (or chose to follow) a life of drug pushing and violence. Echos of Scorsese, Tarantino and Coppola are all there but the ultimate uniqueness of this film is in the way the audience is treated as intelligent enough to work out many of the motives, strengths and weakness of the characters for themselves. Oh, and when we went to see it two people walked out about half way through - further recommendation of the power of the film.
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
My tax return has to be in by this Friday or I get fined £100 - motivation enough you might think to fill in those pesky electronic boxes. Normally I wouldn't mind leaving it until the last minute if it meant I could hang on for a little bit longer to some of my hard earned cash (did I mention I worked a 12 hour day yesterday?). But now I've sat down and done the figures it turns out that our beloved Inland Revenue actually owes me money and not the other round. D'oh. So I could have been 180 smackers better off last April if only I'd got my bum in gear and applied for the rebate then. Come on Jonce: Gear. In. Bum. Get. Do any of you guys fill in tax returns on time or do you leave it to the last minute like me?
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Drinks in town after work from 7pm with Dave, Russ, Rich and Marky. First Bar Code, then The Yard, then Comptons, then Bar Code again. Met some of Dave's friends including Jason, Neil, Danny and Darryl. Merrily by 12:30am we thought that Sleaze might be a good idea. Oh my deary, dear. Crawled home at 3-30am much the worse for wear.
Up early and to Expectations to do some work for Tony. Narrowly missed getting caught up in the Chancery Lane crash tube delays on way home. Then had eats prior to going to Sing-A-Long-A-Moulin Rouge with Marky. We downed a bottle of Absinthe between us before setting off (verdict: tastes horrible but boy does it pack a punch). The film itself was a riot. There was a 'best dressed' competition and lots of warm-up singing practice to kick the evening off. In our seats we were each given a goodie bag of a white handkerchief to cough up Nicole Kidman's blood, a party popper for the bit with the firework above the elephant, a glow stick to conduct the orchestra at the beginning, some 'diamonds' to wave in the air, some green glasses to watch the Kylie / Absinthe scene and also pretend to be Elton John during Our Song. We drank a lot, we bonded with our neighbours on both sides, front and back and best of all we sang our little hearts out. A great, great show and we both just loved it. Thank you Darren BIG TIME. I hope it becomes a regular fixture. After the film Marky tottered off home and I went to meet David, Marcus, Ian, Johnny, Luca and Phillipe in Bar Code prior to going to watch Soft Cell do a set at G-A-Y. The company was excellent, the gig less so. Marc tried his best to rouse the crowd but it was a bit of an uphill struggle. The running order was Memorabilia, Monoculture, The Night, Bedsitter, Tainted Love and Say Hello Wave Goodbye: a fairly predictable set which never seemed to really catch fire. Sure David and I were singing along to every word, but we were surrounded by people who probably weren't even born when Tainted Love was released. Much beer was consumed, of course, and I had a bit of a nightmare journey home at the end of the night. In bed by 5am.
(God, is it only Sunday? I feel as if I've been packing it in this weekend)
Up at the crack of noon to potter around the flat prior to meeting the boys down at the RVT. We got there by 4pm to make sure we got in and sure enough all my special and lovely people were there (all too many to mention here) but including Rob (who I did see) and Steve (who I didn't). I'm really pleased to say that Marky came too as he'd not been down to Vauxhall for some time. Dame Edna was on good form and we found ourselves dancing among a merry throng of party animals. Nice to see Seriol after such a long time too. A certain Darryl tempted me with some PSB stuff (amongst other things) and I must follow up on that! I love rarities. We tootled on home about 11ish for a well deserved sleep. What a weekend!
Monday, January 27, 2003
Bizzarre exchange of e-mails...
From: "Peter Yapp"
Sent: Friday, January 24, 2003 2:03 PM
Subject: Citroen CX
Dear Jonathan - If you are the Jonathan Hellyer who enquired so entertainingly about my CX, please contact me asap. I regret I have mislaid your phone number.
If you are still interested in the car (price to you nominal - something for the unexpired tax disc I should think) you should know: the clutch is slipping - probably not worn out but damaged by leak from gasket in gear-box. This is in due course an engine-out job. There is also a worn bearing in the gear-box, audible to my mechanic, but not yet critical. Rear wheel-bearings need replacement shortly. Otherwise drives beatifully still. Engine has been detuned to run on leadfree - which may cause problems in the long run. Boot lid and bonnet need extensive cosmetics at front edge of bonnet and bottom of boot-lid. Previous erosion patched inside bottom corner
of driver's door. Otherwise body pretty good, if filthy. MOT to late March. Taxed to August, I think. It still belongs to me but is in a dealer's yard from which it will go to the crusher, probably, in a couple of weeks, if not rescued. At 131,000 plus miles, I decided I could not justify further expense, and have moved on, reluctantly, to a slightly newer Citroen. The car is yours if you want it (I hate the idea of its demise). I have already had a discount equivalent to a part-exchange sale.
My mobile number is probably the quickest way to reach me, but try belt and braces approach in doubt.
All good wishes - and if you are not Jonathan Hellyer, midwife and comedian, please accept my apologies for this contact.
From: "Jonathan Green"
To: "Peter Yapp"
Sent: Friday, January 24, 2003 2:08 PM
Subject: Citroen CX
From: "Peter Yapp"
Sent: Friday, January 24, 2003 2:10 PM
Subject: Citroen error
Whoops, you're the wrong Jonathan (in this instance). Can you give me a clue as to where to find the right one? - Apologies!
From: "Jonathan Green"
To: "Peter Yapp"
Sent: Friday, January 24, 2003 2:13 PM
Subject: Citroen error
No, sorry. But being a midwife and a comedian maybe you might find him in the Novelty Acts section of Time Out.
From: "Peter Yapp"
Sent: Friday, January 24, 2003 2:15 PM
Subject: Citroen error
Sorry to trouble you.
From: "Jonathan Green"
To: "Peter Yapp"
Sent: Friday, January 24, 2003 2:20 PM
Subject: Citroen error
Hang on, you must mean Jonathan Hellyner a.k.a The Dame Edna Experience ex of Bronski Beat. Try the Royal Vauxhall Tavern on a Sunday afternoon.
UPDATE: I told Dame Edna after he had finished his act yesterday at the RVT to call Peter, which he said he would do.
Friday, January 24, 2003
Uncle Hedgehog's Back in Town...
Dave arrives today from Australia along with his friends the lovely and gorgeous Rich and Russ. They are here for three weeks and the three of them will no doubt be causing all sorts of mischief while they're here. Tonight we're meeting them for drink in Bar Code and then what? Who knows? ;)
Tomorrow evening Marky and I are going to the World Premiere of Sing-A-Long-A-Moulin Rouge at the Prince Charles cinema (thanks to the hunky and sexy Darren for organising the tickets). We're promised prizes for the best Ewan and best Nicole outfits plus lots of rousing and drunken revelry as we sing along to all the classics from what is one of my favourite films. And if Our Song doesn't bring a tear to Marky's and my eye I'll be a Dutchman's Uncle.
After the film/show we're meeting the delightful David, nubile Marcus et al and going to G-A-Y to see Soft Cell (performing 6 songs including their newie The Night). That will be a late and drunken one too.
As if that wasn't enough we planning to meet Dave, Russ and Rich for Sunday lunch prior to the RVT. And no doubt there'll be much minkering down Vauxhall way as the evening wears on.
It's stamina counts in the end, boys, it's stamina counts in the end.
Pop Quiz (answers)...
01 I'm Outta Love
02 Paid My Dues
03 The Bloodhound Gang
05 Jumpin' Jumpin'
08 No. 6 (by then only a three piece)
12 The World Is Not Enough
13 Music: David Arnold, Words: Don Black
14 Scream If You Wanna Go Faster and Mi Chico Latino
15 Bag It Up and Look At Me
16 Chris Issak
17 Jean-Michel Jarre
19 Louise Redknapp
Thursday, January 23, 2003
Kiki and Herb Christmas Show...
A couple of weeks ago we went to see Kiki and Herb at the Soho Theatre. There were 13 of us in all - Marcus, Mikey, Jo, Madeline, Lynzi, Martyn, Drew, Steven, Sarah, Ben, Nikki, Mark and me. Unfortunately Simon and Dawn couldn't come as they were baby sitting my beautiful baby nephew, Angus, and Paul couldn't come as he was looking after Mark's Dad.
Kiki and Herb were fantastic. I'd seen them at the beginning of this, their Christmas run, back in December so it was a chance to witness how their act had developed throughout the Soho Theatre residency. The show was still essentially a greatly expanded version of their Do You Hear What We Hear? CD. But it had had a complete overhaul. There was much more talking and it was a tighter set musically. The result was that we just didn't stop laughing. Some new songs had been added but sadly not my favourite - Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill.
The show itself was a sell-out. And everyone was loving it. Kiki has the ability to hold an audience in the palm of her hand. And as I looked about all I could see was a packed auditorium with row upon row of faces beaming with what I can only describe as 'glee' (now that's a word you don't hear too often).
On a bit of a buzz after the show we went to the Edge for drinks and then back to the house to play video games and loads of people stayed over. A perfect night.
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
It was a team of just Darren and me at the Pop Quiz last night - but we seemed to do quite well. Maybe it was because the quiz was set by Wendy (we like her) and it was based on DJ Lush's single collection. The hint was that the clues and/or the answers were in some way alphabetical from A to M and that at a later date we could expect a second quiz covering from N to Z.
We got 16/20. The winners got 18/20. How about you?
01. Name Anastasia's hit that starts "Now baby come on Don't claim that love you never let me feel"
02. Name Anastasia's hit that starts the singing with "I've been knocked down It's a crazy town Even got a punch in the face in LA"
03. Who performs "The Ballad of Chasey Lain"?
04. Who performs "Comfort Eagle"? (Clue: food stuff)
05. What Destiny's Child starts with "Thou shall get your party on"
06. What Destiny's Child starts with "Now that you're out of my life I'm so much better"
07. What Destiny's Child starts with "Thou shall not bug"
08. Which is the odd one out from the answers to nos. 5, 6 and 7.
09. Who performs "Your Lucky Day In Hell"?
10. Which Fun Lovin' Criminals single starts "I was working at the club in 1995, Sunday was the night that the gay club came alive"?
11. Which Fun Lovin' Criminals single starts "I see her out (shit) All over town But I get no play My man says you gotta be crazy"?
12. What James Bond film did Garbage perform the title song for?
13. Who wrote the words and and who wrote the music for the answer to no. 12 (I was the only one in the pub that got this right!)
14. Which Geri Halliwell two singles start with "Lonely hearts are welcome here Take my hand let's disappear" and with "Donde esta el hombre con fuego en la sangre"
15. Which Geri Halliwell two singles start with "I like chocolate and controversy He likes Fridays and bad company" and with "Good-looking, bad-tasting Full-bodied, butt-wasting"
16. Who had a hit with "Wicked Game"?
17. Who had a single "Oxygene 10"?
18. What nu metal band had a single "Make Me Bad"?
19. What is footballer-hugging Louise's surname?
20. Who did a cover of Engelbert Humperdinck's classic "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" as a B-side to their double A-side single "Dead Star/In Your World"?
The quiz next week is all David Bowie related.
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
A week or so back the lovely Andy took a bunch of us to see Our House - the Madness musical. I'd heard good reports of it from friends who had been before and the guest spot on the Royal Variety Show a week or two earlier had looked promising. And I wasn't disappointed.
The plot was a Sliding Doors kind of a thing - a split timeline based on a single 'what if he'd run/what if he's stayed' moment. One was a life of crime, the other the straight and narrow. The same actors play out both scenarios as you'd expect. Only I wasn't too sure in the end which had chose the better path; the life of crime certainly seemed to have it's up sides.
Most (all?) of the Madness hits were there (21 odd?) without too much use of a crowbar - you know, that crass spoken thing that Mamma Mia does a la "Chiquitita, tell me what's wrong..." The one notable exception was perhaps Night Boat to Cairo that somehow found our happy Camdenites in a Las Vegas nightclub (why?!)
Baggy Trousers was especially good, Our House got the rousing anthem treatment it deserved and House Of Fun was genuinely funny.
I sat next to the rather wonderful Ian and, bless him, he thought that there were two actors playing the lead role not just one. Being such an old friend it would be disingenuous of me to suggest that anything but the Magic of Theatre played a part in his deception.
The show is a hit though. Worth the money (not that I actually paid, you understand) and proof, if it were needed, that the Madness songs have largely stood the test of time.
Monday, January 20, 2003
Pop Quiz (answers)...
01 Marco Peroni
02 Bernad Butler
03 Chris Stein
04 Ritchie Sambora
05 Trent Reznor
06 Hugh Cornwel
07 Dave Vanien
08 Andrew Eldritch
09 Topper Heddon
10 Roger Taylor
11 Paul Cook
12 Keith Moon
13 Alex James
14 Steve Severin
15 Martin Kemp
16 Peter Hook
17 Nick Rhodes
18 Sister Bliss
19 Vince Clarke
20 Lol Tollhurst
Friday, January 17, 2003
The Day Before The Funeral......
On Wednesday I hooked up with Drew at Euston Station and we got up to Coventry by 3pm to be met by Anne (Mark's sister) and Laura (her eldest daughter). All the family were at the house and there was much 'shame it's not under better circumstances' and general milling about prior to going to the church.
It was a short journey and when we got there Mark, Martyn, Andrew and Matthew were the four pall-bearers who did an admirable job taking the coffin into the church where it was draped in a white cover and a cross and Bible placed on it. I was both sad and proud at the same time. Sad that Mark's Dad who I loved was so close in that box before the altar. Yet proud of Mark standing there with his brother and sisters - a family united, albeit under such tragic circumstances. An odd mixture of feelings really. The service was quite brief (30 minutes or so) albeit a little hard to understand. Not so much because it was in Latin or anything but because the Priest was Nigerian and his accent was so thick.
I was amazed at the number of people who turned up (remember that this wasn't the actual funeral itself but just the acceptance of the body into the church). And it is no small credit to Mark's Dad popularity that the church was filled with at least 120-150 people, maybe more.
After the service we went back to the house, changed and split into two groups. Grown-ups went out for a meal, kids went to The Jag (The Jaguar Sports and Social Club) for burgers. We met up with them later to drink, swap stories and play some pool. We didn't have too late a night as the funeral was early the next day.
The Day Of The Funeral......
We were all up early to wash and get into our dark suits. There wasn't really time for breakfast as the two 'official' cars were due at 8:40am. Again the church was pretty full when we go there. All the family sat near the front - with the four children at the very front and the rows behind filled with partners, grandchildren and close friends.
This time the service was a great deal more involved - many prayers, half a dozen hymns, Mass, readings (by the priest, Laura and Lynzi) and eulogies by Uncle Kevin and Mark's sister Bernadette. It was very moving - especially Bernadatte's heart-felt comments about her father - what a great Dad, Granddad and friend he had been. It brought tears to this codger's eyes, I can tell you.
Leaving the church with the coffin was a no less gut-wrenching experience - looking into the faces of the well-wishers as we left was both wonderful and powerfully upsetting. I helped Aunty Rosalind up the aisle. She held my arm tightly as she struggled to keep her composure. "Beautiful", she murmured, "a beautiful service". Too true.
The journey to the graveyard was as somber as you'd except. Patrick was to be buried along with his wife, Annie Mark's mother, who had died almost exactly 7 years before. We caused a small traffic jam with all the cars trailed after the hearse. On the way we spotted and picked up one of Mark's Dad's friends, Pat. Aged 73, he seemed almost chipper and as we arrived at the graveyard filled us in with all the recent funerals he had been to - even detailing the manner of recent deaths and burials at the Children's Graveyard. Little Luke was strangely fascinated (as I think secretly we all were) by all this information. It was all quite surreal as we pulled up at the graveside. Perhaps this man's intimate knowledge of the latest additions to the graveyard were a way, in his own mind, of keeping the Grime Reaper at bay.
The graveside ceremony was brief (thankfully, as it was bitterly cold) and inspite of the slippery mud the pall-bearers did a sterling job of keeping the coffin aloft and lowering it into the grave without incident. I almost thought Andrew was going to trip and slip into the grave at one point (later he told me that he almost did!) The priest's final words were moving and then all of a sudden it was all over. We all stepped up to scatter some earth onto the coffin and everyone just walked away back to their cars.
Before long we were in The Jag again for the wake with sandwiches, beer and an Irish accordionist. Lots of people got up to sing (mainly plaintive laments of returning to long-lost sweethearts or Irish villages and towns) which was quite, quite moving. We caught up with people we hadn't seen in ages and I finally got introduced to people Mark had talked about a lot. It was lovely.
By about 4-30pm though we were all a bit pissed to be honest. We'd been drinking since about 11am. So we ambled back to house for a lie-down and to collect our thoughts. Eerily the heating and hot water had packed up. Drew, Lynzi and I went for a walk and another beer and to talk over the events of the last day. Back at the house everyone was either sleeping or watching Luke and Matthew play on our PS2.
Later on some people went out for dinner but Marky and I bought fish and chips for those keener on more low key fayre. I was in bed by 10pm. Tired and emotional both figuratively and literally.
The Day After The Funeral......
Not up too early this morning I caught the 10:37 to Euston and am now in my office catching up on the work I've missed. It seems strange that only yesterday we were burying Mark's Dad. Tonight we are going out for dinner as it's Colin's birthday. It'll be good to see him of course but today the world just feels a little emptier.
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
A sad time...
Tomorrow is Mark's Dad's funeral proper. But as is custom, the body is brought into the church the day before. So this afternoon I'm going up to Coventry for today's service and I won't be back until Friday lunch time.
Funerals are funny old things really. An opportunity to celebrate someone's life and to grieve their passing, obviously. But also a chance to meet those relatives that you see only rarely. So it's with mixed emotions that I'm heading up to Coventry. I looking forward to seeing Mark as we've been apart for a few days. I'm very sad that Mark's Dad has died - especially from a lung cancer brought on by a work related illness. But I'm also looking forward to seeing all of Mark's family. They're a handsome bunch and we always have fun when we're together. Should I feel guilty about looking forward to a funeral? Probably.
After many months it was a welcome return to the Retro Bar Pop Teasers Quiz last night. The delicious Darren and I had been talking about going back for some time as a) we missed it, and b) we felt a bit guilty about the way we had just stopped going - especially as Wendy *is* our No 1 Electric Landlady. Darren had a couple of chums (Adam and David) that he fancied bringing along so they joined us for what I hope will be a more regular Tuesday night of fun.
Darren, being Darren (or should we call you Owen! Or even Rebecca!?), sent me the new boys' Gaydar profiles in advance - and me, being me, pored (or should that be 'pawed'? Or even 'poured'!?) over them in case I knew them. I didn't. But that was my loss as both Adam and David are as cute as shiny new buttons. Woof! A lovely couple and, as it turned out, wise in all things musical. Certainly enough to put Darren and I to some degree of shame (but more of that later).
Come 9pm we finally managed to squeeze ourselves in to the Retro Bar and onto a table for four. I was preparing myself for what I hoped would be an easy quiz. How wrong I was. I'll try and reproduce it here and then you can see how you get on.
The quiz was a sort of 'Meet The Band'.
01 Who was the lead guitarist with Adam and The Ants?
02 Who was the lead guitarist with Suede (in the early days)?
03 Who was the lead guitarist with Blondie?
04 Who was the lead guitarist with Bon Jovi?
05 Who was the vocalist with Nine Inch Nails?
06 Who was the vocalist with The Stranglers?
07 Who was the vocalist with The Damned (post Captain Sensible)?
08 Who was the vocalist with Sisters Of Mercy?
09 Who was the drummer with The Clash?
10 Who was the drummer with Queen?
11 Who was the drummer with Sex Pistols?
12 Who was the drummer with The Who?
13 Who was the bass player with Blur (originally)?
14 Who was the bass player with Siouxsie and the Banshees?
15 Who was the bass player with Spandau Ballet?
16 Who was the bass player with New Order?
17 Who was the keyboard player with Duran Duran?
18 Who was the keyboard player with Faithless?
19 Who was the keyboard player with Erasure?
20 Who was the keyboard player with The Cure?
We got 16 out of 20 which I thought was pretty good seeing as I only knew 7 or 8 of them and hadn't heard of any of the rest! However we were nowhere near the winners who got an amazing 20/20. Worse still, TWO teams got 20/20 so it went to a tie-break - name the vocalist on The Story Of The Blues by The Mighty Wah!. Dead easy, huh?
The quiz over, the four of us headed for Bar Code for a debriefing and bit more bonding. Adam and David just stayed for one but left promising to return next week for the quiz. Darren and I were up for a night of it though. But before we knew where we were we were getting kicked out with the trash at 1am. How time flies. So we decided to head for CXR79 for a quickie. The way you do. Oh dear. Come 3am they kicked us out of there too. Bastards! Luckily good sense prevailed and a short cab ride later we were both in our respective Lands of Nod.
Top night boys. Thanks.
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Games afternoon Sunday...
The weekend before last we had Sarah and Ben for Sunday lunch. They came over to play games (the video, board and party varieties). Well actually they didn't just come for lunch - their stayed the previous night. And Martin had too. Oh, and Andrew and Steven came over. And Nikki too. Oh, and William. OK, OK so there were nine of us - all racing around the house like mad things - drinking, eating, and getting over excited. It was the perfect tonic for Marky I think. He loves a house full. So thanks to everyone.
Monday, January 13, 2003
This sent to me from Guy. Very funny.
All too rarely, airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight "safety lecture" and their other announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some examples that have been heard or reported:
On a Continental Flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."
On landing the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all your belongings. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's something we'd like to have."
"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 3 ways out of this airplane."
"Thank you for flying Delta Business Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."
As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Washington National, a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"
After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Memphis, a flight attendant on a Northwest flight announced, "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted."
From a Southwest Airlines employee: "Welcome aboard Southwest Flight XXX to YYY. To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt and if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."
"In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one small child...pick your favourite."
"Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Southwest Airlines."
"Your seat cushions can be used for flotation; and, in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."
"Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the bag over your own mouth and nose before assisting children...or other adults acting like children.
As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses."
And from the pilot during his welcome message: "Delta airlines is pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"
Heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City: The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump, and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault...it was the asphalt!"
Overheard on an American Airlines flight into Amarillo, Texas, on a particularly windy and bumpy day. During the final approach, the Captain was really having to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"
Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."
An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying XYZ airline." He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sonny, mind if I ask you a question?" "Why no Ma'am,"said the pilot. "What is it?" The little old lady said, "Did we land or were we shot down?"
After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the Flight Attendant came on with, Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Capt. Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we'll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal."
Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of US Airways."
A plane was taking off from Kennedy Airport. After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, non-stop from New York to Los Angeles. The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight. Now sit back and relax - OH, MY GOD!" Silence followed and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said: "Ladies and gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier, but while I was talking the flight attendant brought me a cup of coffee and spilled the hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!" A passenger remarked, " The captain should see the back of my pants."
* Pilot: "Folks, we have reached cruising altitude now, so I am going to switch the seatbelt sign off. Feel free to move about as you wish, but please stay inside the plane till we land. It's a bit cold outside and if you walk on the wings it affects the flight pattern."
Stewardess: "Last passenger off the plane has to clean it".
* Announcing a delayed flight in Sydney airport. "Ladies and Gentlemen, Flight number 259 will be delayed for 40 minutes. I don't have a reason for this and I won't insult your intelligence by trying to make one up."
Friday, January 10, 2003
And a big, warm hand on his entrance...
...to my side-bar, that is... I give you... (drum roll, please)... Steve. Go check out his MyAceLife site. (He's cute too).
And he has an exclusive on Kath and Kim - those adorable Australian housewives we came across in Oz last year. When you see their show you'll be raving about them too. Trust me.
Thursday, January 09, 2003
Mark's Dad died yesterday. It was not unexpected as Dad had been ill for some time and we thought he might slip away this week. My thoughts are obviously very much with Marky and indeed all of his family as they sort out Mark's Dad's affairs and make plans for the funeral in Coventry.
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Tale from a BMW Driver...
The other day I was cruising along as usual coming onto one of my motorways, which was very busy with inferior cars.
First off, I couldn't believe that the volume of traffic DIDN'T slow down for me AT ALL as I came off the slip road! I had to squeeze into a barely big enough gap between two cars in order to get onto my motorway. The driver of the car behind me did realize his mistake though and honked an apology to me with a long blast of his horn!
Unbelievably, I had to do the same again before I could get to the BMW lane (why do underlings use this lane? Surely everyone knows it is for BMW drivers only?).
Anyway, once I was in the BMW lane and posing along at 106 mph enjoying the adulation that the inferior car drivers were giving me, I noticed an inferior car ahead of me which was not only in the BMW lane of my motorway, but was driving at a ridiculous 85mph. Naturally, I got to within a foot or so of his rear bumper and flashed my headlights to remind him he shouldn't be in the BMW lane of my motorway and to get out of my way.
Of course, once he realized it was a BMW behind him, he did just that, but I could hardly believe it when he pulled straight back out behind me!
He also tried to keep up with me and when he realized I would out-run him, he put on some blue lights in his front grill and urged me to get onto the hard shoulder so that he could congratulate me on my excellent car.
Needless to say, I was eager oblige and when we had stopped, the man gave me a piece of paper confirming what I already knew - that my car goes fast!
Apparently he wants everyone to know what a superior car I have, so I had to go to court and show them. The man also said if I carried on like this they would take my drivers licence away! Can you imagine no need for a drivers licence?
See, now that's the sort of respect you get when you buy and drive a BMW!
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
Jackson Sued over Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers Ending...
Last week T-shirt and collectibles manufacturer, Ted Stroop, filed suit against Peter Jackson because the director's cut of Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers did not end with the novel's cliffhanger of Frodo dead in Shelob's lair.
"How am I going to get rid of all this crap. I've got 'Frodo Lives' drink coolers. I've got 'Frodo Lives' bumper stickers, 'Frodo Lives' curl relaxer," said Stroop. "I can't believe Jackson could end the movie without the Frodo cliffhanger. The books don't end there. It's preposterous. Would you like a shirt? Two for A$10!"
A rather down in the mouth Stroop admitted that maybe he should've contacted Jackson before having 34 million of the shirts printed.
Long-time Tolkien fan Neil Layden commented, "I've read the books about sixteen times and I'm glad Jackson didn't end the movie with that cliffhanger. I would've had difficulty avoiding all the 'Frodo Lives' spoilers for The Return of the King."
"This is a frivolous lawsuit and should be dismissed on its lack of merit. It's not our responsibility to make sure the movies match the books word for word. That's what Harry Potter is for," offered Jackson. "I can cut the movie wherever I want too. I am deeply saddened, though, that I missed the opportunity to let yet another spoiler into the trailer for The Return of the King, that Gandalf one for The Two Towers was precious."
In addition to his lawsuit, Stroop petitioned New Line Cinema to break The Return of the King into two parts or at least provide an intermission after the encounter in Shelob's lair. "I could hawk the shirts then. It's a great idea. If they don't do that at least I might make some of it back with my 'Helm's Deep Emergency Exit' doors and my 'Gimli at the Laugh Factory' CDs," said Stroop.
Monday, January 06, 2003
Sex a stab in dark for confused octopus...
In Sydney sex is just a stab in the dark - for an aroused Australian blue-ringed octopus.
The Greater Blue-Ringed Octopus found in Australian waters cannot figure out the sex of its partner until a specially modified arm has checked out the target, according to the latest issue of Nature Australia magazine.
Copulation involves inserting the arm equipped with a spermatophore, or a sperm packet, into the other octopus' body.
Males were equally likely to copulate with other males as females, wrote researchers Mary Cheng and Roy Caldwell from the University of California, Berkeley, in the first detailed study of the sexual behavior of the sea creature.
Most male-to-male copulations ended rapidly in amicable separation, while in male-female copulations the male was less enthusiastic about departing and would take more than an hour and a half, to ensure fertilization, the scientists said.
[Thanks to Bryn the link to the article]
Friday, January 03, 2003
Try putting your name into www.googlism.com and find out what Google thinks of you.
jonathan green is wonderful
jonathan green makes me smile
jonathan green is the anchor of america's abc sports network's formula one series
jonathan green is a hal
jonathan green is considered by many art critics and reviewers to be one of the most important painters of the southern experience
jonathan green is generously donating the proceeds from the sale of his calendar to benefit the consortium on children's asthma camps
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jonathan green is the founding director of the wexner center of the arts at ohio state university in columbus
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jonathan green is a noted lexicographer and the author of many books
jonathan green is restructuring the franchise
jonathan green is an utterly utter moron
jonathan green is married with four children
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jonathan green is visiting assistant professor of music and ensembles director
jonathan green is a made up name for no good
jonathan green is program director at the hamilton school at wheeler
jonathan green is such a great guy
jonathan green is a brick wall for me and i thought if i could determine how he may have acquired the land it could be a clue
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jonathan green is currently director for asian affairs at the national security council
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jonathan green is a web designer and network specialist who is hosting and designing the fan club page
jonathan green is the grass
jonathan green is technical director of the americas for ihs energy group
jonathan green is the toast of the town this week after becoming britain's biggest gameshow winner
jonathan green is 720
jonathan green is available to the public
Thursday, January 02, 2003
Thanks for a Happy New Year...
And it was indeed a very happy one.
Thanks to Nikki for a lovely New Year's Eve dinner.
Thanks to Chris, Graham, Colin, Peter, Ian, Nikki and Mark for spending the evening together.
Thanks to everyone in and around the Kings Cross area and up to 5 miles north for all letting off their fireworks at the same time - bang on midnight. It was like a city of fire.
Thanks to Colin and Mark for persuading me to go to the Ram Bar rather than Central Station.
And thanks to Mark and Liam for making my New Year's Day so special. Lots of food, lots of drink and lot's of TV. Perfect.
I'm just full of 'thanks' today, huh? :-)
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