It's coming... o v e r y o u r h e a d . . .

Crawling through technology, life and love

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Pool Paradise - GC on Wii

Podcasts - Chris Moyles, Mark Kermode and Stephen Fry

All 24 25 Tintin books

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troubled diva

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


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Friday, January 30, 2004
Another BBC Resignation...

[Thanks to Guy for this - who seems to be taking it all very well seeing as his work must be a nightmare at the moment. Thinking of you, you top BBC guy you]

Kittens Pause...
Atomic Kitten to take 'time out'. I wonder if they'll ever be whole again?

Round The Horne Revisited...
Last night Paul, Marky and I (Ian was a no-show) went to see Round The Horne Revisited at The Venue, Leicester Square. It was a fab show invoking all the fun of a 1960s BBC recording session. The jokes came think and fast and we didn't stop laughing.

Best gag? Bona Law: Ooooh hello, Mr Horne. I'm Jules and this is my friend Sandy. I'm only doing law temporary mind. I've got a criminal practice that takes up most of my time.

And the posters read 'Cut the crap, bring Greg back': "One man stood on a bollard to see over the crowd. 'What's happening?' we all shouted. 'I can see a little bald head coming this way!' he said. I spotted him amid a rabble of people - they were hugging him, kissing him, crying, clapping."

So Greg Dyke has left the BBC. I'm A BBC Director... Get Me Out Of Here! Well, I can't say I'm sorry. As regular readers may know I never liked the man.

Two down, two to go. Come on Mr Gilligan and Mr Sambrook, times up.

Thursday, January 29, 2004
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...
I'm not saying it's been snowing heavily in London but...

Blast from the past...
Since Jeff seems to have stopped stalking me so much recently it's perhaps time to fess up that I've actually watched Fash FC on Bravo as he suggested. And yes indeed it is that Paul Baker in the squad. Well, well, well. After all these years: New Depression, The Bell, The Scala all-nighters... Good luck, Paul. Still not been on Top Of The Pops with that top ten single, huh? Don't worry, it'll happen.

After 17 years...
Abba singer signs new record deal. Hurrah!

Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Last week we bought a Pure DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) radio. Well two actually. One for the bedroom and one for the bathroom. And what a clean, clear sound comes out of it. Whatsmore we can get Gaydar Radio on it too. Fancy.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004
I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!...
The ten celebrities taking part in the new series of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! finally started their ordeal / career saving bids last night. The celebrities are 'glamour girl' Jordan (a.k.a. Katie Price), George Best's wife Alex, former Sex Pistol John Lydon, one-time pop star Peter Andre, former royal reporter Jennie Bond, former Olympic athlete Diane Modahl, aristocrat and convicted fraudster Lord Brocket, ex-Atomic Kitten Kerry McFadden, former football hardman Neil "Razor" Ruddock and DJ Mike Read. Mr Read was brought in as a last-minute replacement for 77-year-old comic Frank Carson, who was dropped because of worries about his health.

On last night's show the Bushtucker Trial was hideous. Bosomy Jordan had stick insects, cockroaches, a snake, beetles and spiders poured into her see-through helmet, while Razor got meal worms, giant cockroaches, crickets, an eel and tent spiders in his. Watching that creeping, crawling low-life squirming about in the jungle has truly nauseating... (wait for it)... and the animals weren't much better either!

Quote of the night: "What is a music man without his music?" says Peter Andre. Er... a man, Peter?

We'll be gripped.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Car Trouble...

[Click for bigger versions]
[Thanks to Rog]

Friday, January 23, 2004
1) What are the missing symbols in the following calculation?

5 ? 9 ? 4 ? 8 = 19.25

2) How long is a rope that is 2 yards shorter than another rope that is three times the length of the first rope.

Dark Matter...
I envy Jonathan Dursi. Not only is he a professional physicist (my dream job), not only does he have the ability to explain fascinating topics like Dark Matter in easy to understand non-technical terms (Dark Matter, Cosmology, and Large-Scale Structure of the Universe) but he's cute to boot. Damn him!

Thursday, January 22, 2004
Nintendo DS...
Yippie! A new toy.

Exclusive Yarns...
Seeing Patricia Hodge playing Mrs Coulter at the National over the last couple of nights put me in mind of what for me is one of her most memorable roles. That of a drunken Nanny Agency owner Estelle in 1987's Exclusive Yarns. "the only Nanny Agency with no naffing nannies on it's books". If you've not seen it you should, it's a hilarious spoof / drama about a TV show about a woolshop in Tunbridge Wells. A bit like Acorn Antiques. It starred Maureen Lipman as Tamara, Lesley Jospeh as Pippa as well as the afore mentioned Patricia Hodge. It even transferred from TV to the West End. Wonderful stuff.

The Michael Jackson Sleepover Kit...
This is so wrong. But very funny: The Michael Jackson Sleepover Kit
[Thanks to Guy for the link]

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Do you know what 'digital shoplifting' is? Or 'cellcerting'? Or 'moblogging'? If not you should head over to Textually - a blog that has all the latest on SMS, picture and video phones. It didn't look as if phones with builtin cameras were to take off for a while but it seems 90% of phones sold recently (in Japan at least) have cameras and I got my first MMS the other day. And people are finding some novel uses for them.

His Dark Materials at the National Theatre...
Into this wild abyss,
The womb of nature and perhaps her grave,
Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,
But all these in their pregnant causes mixed
Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless th'almighty maker them ordain
His dark materials to create more worlds,
Into this wild abyss the wary fiend
Stood on the brink of hell and looked a while,
Pondering his voyage...

John Milton Paradise Lost Book II

Last night at the Olivier was amazing, incredible, fantastic, must-see, funny, sad, casually violent, well-acted, epic, thought-provoking, well reviewed, 3 hours long, star-studded, anti-church, pro-humanity, and... sold-out. And that was just Part I. Part II is tonight. Can't wait.

UPDATE: Last night's Part II was as amazing as Part I - or maybe even better. We squealed with delight. If you can somehow get a ticket you have to go.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Paris Match...

Monday, January 19, 2004
I'm writing this from beneath the English channel. Above us only water. We are on our way home from three fantastic days in Paris. The hotel Bel-Ami in St Germain-des-Pres was everything we hoped it would be and more: welcoming, accommodating, central and chic. I can unreservedly recommend it if you are planning a trip to Paris.

Saturday night's birthday party destination of the Buddha Bar was rather more of a qualified success however. The place was great - albeit rather dark. But the food and the service was a tad disappointing; and squeezing fourteen of us on to one circular table was a bit of a mistake. The company more than made up for any short-comings though. Marcus has a great bunch of friends and we had a scream.

And thanks to David for tipping us off to the fact that Andy and Kevin happened to be in Paris at the same time as us. We met up with them for drinks, food, sleaze and sight-seeing over the weekend and it was great fun to spend time with them both.

I think Marky enjoyed himself too - his first proper trip to Paris. It came at an opportune moment too. He's just finished his dissertation and he needed a break.

So all in all we had a great time and are both looking forward to a return visit to Gay Paree soon.

Happy Birthday...
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday, dear Marcus
Happy Birthday to you

Friday, January 16, 2004
1) Five hundred begins it, five hundred ends it,
Five in the middle is seen;
First of all letters, the first of all figures,
Take up their stations between.
Join all together, and then you will bring
Before you the name of an eminent king.

2) You are blindfolded and naked in an empty room. You are given a pair of steel bars. One is a bar magnet, the other is not. You will be released if you can tell which is which. You are allowed to touch them together just once.
How can you tell which is the magnet?

The Complete Military History of France...
"Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. All you do is leave behind a lot of noisy baggage." More Froggy bashing as you read The Complete Military History of France.

Thursday, January 15, 2004
Wait for it...
Harold Shipman found dead in his cell. Robert De Nero to play him in a new film.............................................. "The Old Dear Hunter"
[Thanks Jo-Jo]

Bush In 30 Seconds...
Simple idea - run a competition for people to submit 30 second short films / adverts slagging off George W. Bush and his administration. From the thousands of entries here are the winners. You can see the also rans - the twenty-six finalists too.
[Thanks to Carl for the link]

Gay Paree: the return...
Tomorrow Marky and I are going away for a few days. A treat as one of Marky's Christmas presents from me, I'm taking him on an all expenses paid romantic weekend to Paris. We're traveling Eurostar early tomorrow morning and returning late Sunday night. We're staying in the chic Bel-Ami Hotel in the heart of the Saint Germain des Pres area on the Left Bank within walking distance of the Seine, Latin Quarter, the gay district, fashionable boutiques and piano, jazz and sleaze bars. During the day we'll probably do a whistlestop tour of all the Paris sights in an open top bus, visit a couple of small galleries and do a bit of light shopping. Night time we'll be eating out and hitting the bars. I hope we have a good time as it'll be Marky's first real trip to Paris. Me, I used to live there.

The other reason for going this particular weekend is because it's Marcus's birthday weekend and a gang of fourteen of us are going to the Buddha Bar on Saturday night for a meal. Marcus and I did a reckie last November checking out all the good places to eat and drink - the Buddha Bar came out top just on the style quotient alone. Naturally Bona is organising the group outings and "the big switch on" at 8 o'clock (which I should really keep stumm about).

Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Top Selling Albums of 2003...
I'm obviously completely out of step with the record buying public as UK album sales 'reach new high'.
The top five sellers of 2003 were...
1. Dido - Life For Rent
2. Justin Timberlake - Justified
3. Christina Aguilera - Stripped
4. Daniel Bedingfield - Gotta Get Thru This
5. Norah Jones - Come Away With Me
...none of which I bought.

My favourite album of the year was Dub Side Of The Moon by the Easy All Stars - a faithful reworking of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon but in a reggae / dub style (with a bit of drum and bass thrown in). You can listen to four of the tracks here and make your own mind up.

What was your favourite album of the year?

Tuesday, January 13, 2004
The Brits 2004...
Goldfrapp? Nominated for Best Dance Act? Really? Fab performance of Strict Machine at the launch party on TV last night (repeated again tonight), though.

Lust: the enthusiastic desire for sexual activity and its pleasures for its own sake. And lust is a sin, right? Wrong. It's good to hear that Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century got it wrong after all as lust declared virtue, not vice. Well, we always knew anything that was that much fun couldn't be all that bad, right?

Monday, January 12, 2004
Pull Ahead...
"You don't need a couple of Whoppers. You are too fat. Pull ahead." More fun as hackers heckle drive-in diners.

Nephew Angus and me...

[Thanks to Marky for talking the photo]

Friday, January 09, 2004
Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King...
Last night Ben, Sarah and I went to see LoTR:TRoTK at the Odeon Leicester Square. And what I great film it is.

LoTR:TRoTK recaptures much of the wow-factor perhaps lacking in LoTR:TTT and yet maintains the wit, action and narrative drive that the second film brought to the trilogy. Peter Jackson has undoubtedly created a masterpiece.

The three plot lines from the LoTR:TTT converge into two: Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) have joined up with Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) and are rallying the troops to fight Sauron. And the main battle at ensues at Pelennor Fields is truly spectacular.

Meanwhile en route to Mount Doom the avaricious, reptilian Gollum (the quite astounding, computer-generated creation, brilliantly voiced by Andy Serkis) is trying to lead Frodo and Sam to their arachno-death. You understand Gollum a lot better in LoTR:TRoTK and realise that he might actually be a glimpse of what Frodo, and to some extent Bilbo, may become if they were to keep hold of the One Ring.

There's some fine acting but for me it's Sean Astin's Sam that is head and shoulders above the rest of the cast. His moving delivery and inspirational monologues give heart to the whole spectacle. Even if he might find it hard to concentrate when it looks as if Elijah Wood's Frodo is ready to kiss him at any moment.

Others may have their own views but for me it is the best film of the three. And like the others I think it is a film that bears repeat viewing. Roll on the extended DVD.

Thursday, January 08, 2004
A year ago today...
Mark's Dad, Patrick, died a year ago today. And it was a very sad day. A sad day for his family and also for me. I remember Patrick very fondly. Partly because he was never anything but welcoming and accepting of me and partly because he was a man to be admired. Admired for the way he lived his life, his faith and his generous, unassuming nature. He lived his life simply. He went to church every day. And he never liked to put people out. Yet he had much to be proud of - not least his four children and many grandchildren. Below is a picture from a few years back. And as I think the picture shows the three of us had some fun together too.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Oyster? Schmoyster!...
My Oyster card started playing up today. "Seek Assistance" is said in bright red text - no matter which ticket barrier I tried to use. Humpf! So I approached one of the (many) idling blue-uniformed station assistants at Green Park for help. "Ah, yes", he said with a smirk, "these annual Oysters have now got Pre-Pay on them too. Means you've strayed 'out of Zone' at some point and run up a 2.00 debit. You'll have to pay that before you can use it again. It's been happening to a lot of other people recently".

Odd, I've not been out of Zone 2 for ages (darling) and certainly not since last night. How come you are allowed to run up a bill on a travel card? Surely it should just refuse you?

Well it turns out (after a long queue and short explanation at the ticket office) that actually there's a fault on the billing system. For many monthly and annual Oyster card accounts the system has not only added the ability to Pre-Pay (in case you wanted to load up your card with credit prior to venturing 'out of Zone') but also added an illusory 2.00 debit just for kicks. Nice. So many of those other people the station assistant mentioned who thought they might have gone 'out of Zone' were actually being diddled by London Underground to the tune of 2.00 each.

I had a feeling LU couldn't be trusted with a billing system. Let's face it BT still get it wrong and they've been doing it for 50 years. My advice if it happens to you with your Oyster card - ask!

Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Where do you see yourself in five years time?...
Internal target setting time is here again at the office. And the question that always comes up in these management chats is, 'where do you see yourself in five years time?' So for once I've been thinking about it...

I am a person who requires job satisfaction in order to be happy and productive in my work and this is what I have set my mind on achieving in the medium term. For me to have job satisfaction I need a few things. I need to be working to my potential, if not stretched, and I need to be busy. I need to be contributing and to be recognised for that contribution. I need to be valued by the organisation and my peers. I need involvement to the extent that work becomes part of life and not just an attachment to it. You might think that I am asking a lot but this is the goal I have set myself and I hope to achieve well within five years. To a great extent the actual position I am in is secondary in my needs. Some people are not happy unless they achieve a certain power or a certain salary but to me job satisfaction is the most important thing. If you have a satisfying job you are lucky regardless of how high up the ladder you are - the top, the middle or the bottom. I believe if you enjoy your job and you do it well everything else flows from that.)

Monday, January 05, 2004
A Camel isn't just for Christmas...

Friday, January 02, 2004
The day after the day after the night before...
(Ouch! My head hurts.) Thank you to Ben and Sarah for an amazing New Year's Day - yet again proving now much fun four people and Absolute Balderdash can have together. My sides are still aching with laughter. Oh, and my head.

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