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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Wish List
Gerry's Lyrics Pop Quiz
Minipops Quiz

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Marc Almond
Top 40 Singles
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Some blogs I enjoy:
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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Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Tube Strike...
I'm working from home today as there is a tube strike on.

Gay Shame...
So it's decided - after Gay Pride March Pride Parade and Rally on Saturday (a bit of a wander down Piccadilly and watching Jean T and her co-host, Ida Barr, host the shenanigans in Trafalgar Square) we're going to Duckie's Gay Shame at the Coronet in Elephant and Castle.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004
I Can Think Of Worse Places To Work...
This last weekend I was working. Working in sunny Sitges near Barcelona that is! Poor me, huh? Well, I was working until 1:30am in the morning... but then again it wasn't really worth going out to the bars before then anyway! By Sunday morning and on very little sleep all the jobs I'd been commissioned to do were finished: those pesky Trojans were consigned back to... er... Troy (Windows 98 Spanish Edition? What's that all about?), the 802.11g Wi-Fi hotspot was radiating away and fully functioning in all it's 54Mb/s glory and the new Windows XP Professional installation (including a gazillion updates) was all done too. So pleased was my host I've been invited back. But he's promised that I won't need to even look at a computer next time. Yeah, right!!

Break With Tradition?...
What have the following acts all got in common?
Fun Lovin' riminals
Big Brovaz
Emma Bunton
Har Mar Superstar
Natasha Bedingfield
Blu Cantrell
The 411
Peter Andre
Kelly Osbourne
Clue: I have no plans on seeing them on Saturday. Oh hang on, Marc Almond's supposed to be playing too...

Monday, June 28, 2004
Some Day My Prince Will Come...
An Iranian newspaper has reported the controversial story of a woman who claims to have given birth to a frog. The Iranian daily Etemaad says the creature is believed to have grown from larva to an adult frog inside her body. While it is unclear how this could have happened, the paper carries quotes from medical experts who say there are human characteristics to the animal. All this according to the BBC.

Morrissey's Meltdown 2004...
Paul and I went to see the final show in Morrissey's Meltdown 2004 at the Royal Festival Hall last night: London Sinfonietta play Gorecki and Part. I hadn't heard Part's Tabula Rasa before but it was quite an hypnotic piece of work - especially the second, silentium, movement. Quite mesmerising. The main reason we went, though, was to hear Henryk Gorecki's famous Symphony No.3, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs - a wonderful trio of pieces that manage to be reflective and yet powerfully realised; dynamically subdued (if that makes sense). It's a piece of music that really deserves all the praise and worldwide commercial success it has enjoyed. The emotional focus of the work is centred on texts and lyrical melodies sung my a solo soprano (in the obligatory big puffy dress, I might add), lamenting man's inhumanity to man. It's basically about what the Germans did to the Polish over the centuries. For example, the middle text is from a prayer that was scratched on the wall on a cell in the basement of the Gestapo's Headquarters in Zakopane. All very moving stuff. It was the music that captivated though. It reminded us both of early Eno and Philip Glass. As the night drew to a close Paul and I were floating on air. Quite wonderful.

Tribal Mario...
The new Gameboy Advance SP is branded as Tribal Edition. How gay is that?

[Thanks to Marky for the image]

Friday, June 25, 2004
Sitges Hotspot...
Today I'm off to Sitges for a long weekend. Half my trip is being paid for me and I'm getting free accomodation too. Reason is I'm doing a bit of network support for a friend while I'm there - singing for my supper, as it were. And I'm also setting up a Wi-Fi network too - a sort of hotspot in a hotspot, you might say.

Hotmail counters Google e-mail...
It had to happen. Hotmail counters Google e-mail: Hotmail is boosting the amount of storage space for users of both its free and paid e-mail service. From July the basic Hotmail allowance will be boosted to 250Mb and paying customers will get two gigabytes. The move is widely seen as a response to Google's GMail service which gives all users a gigabyte of storage to keep all their messages. Great. I was fed up of getting those, "your account is approaching it's size limit" messages on Hotmail.

Euro 2004: Knife Edge...
After full-time of extra time it was England 2 Portugal 2. So England's fate was to be decided by a penalty shoot-out as the referee blew his whistle to bring a thrilling encounter to a close.
Portugal 0-0 England: Beckham misses
Portugal 1-0 England: Deco scores
Portugal 1-1 England: Owen scores
Portugal 2-1 England: Simao scores
Portugal 2-2 England: Lampard scores
Portugal 2-2 England: Rui Costa misses
Portugal 2-3 England: Terry scores
Portugal 3-3 England: Ronaldo scores
Portugal 3-4 England: Hargreaves scores
Portugal 4-4 England: Maniche scores
Portugal 4-5 England: Cole scores
Portugal 5-5 England: Postiga scores
Portugal 5-5 England: Vassell misses
Portugal 6-5 England: Ricardo scores
England were out. We were stunned. Beckham blames himself.

Thursday, June 24, 2004
Euro 2004: It Must Be Love ...
Let's wish the boys every luck tonight. Playing the host nation isn't going to be easy; not only because they're a damn good team, but they'll obviously have huge local support. But even if England do go out, reaching the quarter-finals is no bad thing, huh?

Frasier: The Last Two Episodes...
(beware: plot spoilers)
There were lots of laughs in last night's Frasier final(e) double episode. Highlights included:-
- Frasier's vulturesque agent Bebe making a very welcome last reappearance
- Daphne's two other thieving drunken brothers Michael and Stephen (cameos played by Robbie Coltrane & Richard E. Grant) turning up with that drunken twat Simon
- best line was by Ronnie when Frasier and Niles step in at the last minute with an offer to organise Marty and Ronnie's wedding: "leave it to the Duke and Duchess to save our behinds". Frasier and Niles look at each other and say in unison pointing at each other, "You're the Duchess!"
- a marriage, a birthday and a birth all at the same vet
- an unexpected promotion (and snog)
- and a change of scene (and chair)

I'll miss it. It's been a great 11 years. Goodnight Seattle, we love you!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Marky Mark: International Man Of Letters...
Yay! Marky is now officially an MA - he has (finally) been given his certificate confirming him as a Master Of Arts : Public Administration (International). He won't like me shouting about it but he has worked bloody hard for it and I am so proud I could burst.

Anne Pigalle...
Tonight Anne Pigalle is doing a gig on Battersea Barge on the southside of the Thames between Vauxhall and Chelsea bridges. Do you remember her? She was a stablemate of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Propaganda and The Art Of Noise on Trevor Horn's ZTT label back in the 80s.

I first saw her 19 years ago at a showcase that ZTT did at the Ambassador's Theatre which is actually also where I first saw Propaganda along with Instinct and avante-garde composer Andrew Poppy (his song The Object Is A Hungry Wolf was used as the title music for the last series of The Tube). Art Of Noise was at that showcase too but sadly no Frankie.... It didn't stop me going back again and again though.

Anne Pigalle's first single called Hé Stranger was a typically luscious Horn production that still sounds good today. Pigalle hasn't stopped performing since those early days and occasionally pops up to do a gig - the music being that same Gallic flavoured mixture of electronic and ballads she did way back when.
[Thanks to Hanko for the heads up]

Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Lypsinka! - The Boxed Set...
Part of Morrissey's Meldown 2004 sees Lypsinka!, the New York drag queen, bring her Lypsinka! - The Boxed Set to the Queen Elizabeth Hall this Thursday at 8pm. We've seen her a few times before and it's a very funny show. So a few weeks ago I bought three tickets for Mark, Paul and myself - ONLY NOW WE CAN'T GO! It's England vs Portugal in the Euro 2004 semi-final quarter-final (thanks for pointing out my 'deliberate mistake', Dave) that night! Arg!

So if you would like to take three tickets (F35-37) off my hands let me know ASAP (cover price £20 each but I'll let you have them for half that). Otherwise I'll have to try and get a refund. Posh venues like the QEH do that, right? 48 hours in advance or something? Or am I just wishful thinking?

Euro 2004: Next Round...
Last night was a crucial match for a place in the next round. And we won! England 4 Croatia 2. Yay and double-yay! It was thrilling game with Rooney playing sublimely. Nice that Scoles got one in after such a long time too. So it's Portugal on Thursday. Oh wait, I'm doublebooked. Shit.

Monday, June 21, 2004
Wig Out...
It was Spencer's birthday yesterday (Happy Birthday, Spencer!) so on Saturday afternoon/evening/night I hitched on to his drinks-with-friends posse and bar hopped and disco danced the night away. For some reason Drew and I ended up doing a slight more extensive bar crawl that the others that took in Comptons, The Box, The Friendly Society, The Retro Bar, Comptons (again) and Bar Code. Somewhere along the way we fell into McDonald's in Shaftsbury Avenue and over indulged on their two-for-one Big Mac offer. With a belly full of beer and a gut full of burger we wheeled ourselves over to Wig Out at the Ghetto at 11pm to dance it all off. Wig Out plays what only I can describe as 'wedding music' in that disco/pop/trash mode. Fun night. Thanks, guys.

Big Brother 5: Emma...
So poor old Emma's been 'removed from the house for her own safety'. Shame. She was a live wire. So that's two people leaving the Big Brother 5 house so far but neither has actually been evicted. I wonder what that tells us about the BB5 producers' choice of house mates, huh? I guess they were looking for another Jane Goodey (or Jane Goodyear as Emma called her) but got more than they bargained for.

Friday, June 18, 2004
Big Brother 5: Cancelled eviction...
In order to 'calm the house down' tonight's Big Brother eviction has been postponed until next week: so Dan and Vanessa have a week's reprieve.

Euro 2004: The Recovery...
Not the best match in the world - and to be honest the score line flatters us as the performance was rather inconsistent and unconvincing. However it was a great result: England 3-0 Switzerland. So on Monday we need to at least draw against Croatia to go through to the next round.

The BBC reports that wine wholesaler Majestic Wines is toasting sparkling profits: maybe helped to some degree by the £315+ (!) Paul and I spent there last Saturday afternoon. Slurp!

Thursday, June 17, 2004
Big Brother 5: Fight Night!..
Tempers erupted in the Big Brother House last night - leaving the place in a state of chaos. Victor and Emma were separated by security, and Jason and Marco and Vanessa and Nadia all went head to head.

The animosity between Emma and Victor exploded when, during a playful food fight, Emma's volume control went haywire. Incensed by her screeching Victor lost it, big time. A food fight escalated into tray-throwing, Emma first, Victor retaliating, before the two had to be dragged apart screaming insults and threats at each other.

'Do you know who I am?' Victor bellowed repeatedly.

'I'll f***ing kill you,' screamed Emma, before being dragged away by Dan.

She failed to calm down enough to remain in the House, so Big Brother asked her to return to the Bedsit.

Previously another row had erupted between Jason and Marco. Marco's delight at the return of his bestest allies Emma and Michelle spilled over into a dance of 'disrespect'. At least that's how Jay saw it.

Jay started blustering around telling anyone who'd listen, and there weren't many volunteers, that the mess from the earlier food fight would have to be cleared up. When Marco performed a loud and camp jig in his face, the burly Scot exploded and shouted at the law student.

'How dare you intimidate me!' squealed Marco, choosing not to call Jay 'Darling' in this instance.

'You dance like that again, and I'll take your f***king head off,' came the muscle-bound reply.

With Jason pumped and ready for trouble Nadia and Emma stepped between him and Marco to protect him. Marco giggled at the back, but Jason was deadly serious.

While Dan and Stuart attempted to keep the peace Vanessa started shouting at Nadia.

Then, for the first time in Big Brother history, security entered the House to restore order.

With Emma safely ensconced in the Bedsit the other members of the House scattered themselves about the place as they all tried to calm down.

The Divine (Standup) Comedy...
Last night Sarah, Marky, Drew and I went to the oh so hot Bloomsbury Theatre to see The Divine Comedy perform live. Having all but disbanded The Divine Comedy three odd years ago, I thought Neil Hannon had pretty much sunk without a trace. But oh no, the UK's favourite fop idol is back - promoting his latest album Absent Friends. A corker of an album, a corker of a show.

The diminutive Neil played guitar stage right and was joined on stage by simply a piano and a cello player. Yet between them these three created quite an impressive wall of sound that almost had you believing there were more of them than there actually were. Where was all that sound coming from? An orchestra of three.

To be honest The Divine Comedy hadn't really registered too brightly on my radar before this latest album but after hearing it just once I was hooked. I'm now keen to listen to their entire back catalogue - much of which was in evidence last night - at one point he was even taking requests!

The set was quite satisfyingly long and the songs were all as bitter-sweet and catchy as you might expect from the man who brought us Something for the Weekend, National Express, Generation Sex and Bad Ambassador. However for me the highlight was the hypnotic newy - Our Mutual Friend - which recalls the pal who introduced Hannon to a woman, then took her for himself. Masterful pop.

Neil chatted with the audience quite a lot between the songs. Even cracking a few gags and inviting heckles. Perhaps a new career awaits - The Divine Standup Comedy. If so, he had started out in front of a tough crowd; seated around us were comedy heavyweights Paul Merton, Matt Lucas, Ian Lee, Mackenzie Crook and Phil Jupitus.

Let's hope tonight gives us a better result...

Wednesday, June 16, 2004
The Tong Master...
UPDATE: I've heard from, and am very happy to credit, the author of this wonderful piece: Danny Katz, who writes for The Age newspaper in Melbourne.

All the great short story writers and sociologists of Oz should bow to the anonymous author of this little masterpiece....

The Tong Master

Griff was at the barbecue and Joel was at the barbecue and I was at the barbecue; three men standing around a barbecue, sipping beer, staring at sausages, rolling them backwards and forwards, never leaving them alone.

We didn't know why we were at the barbecue; we were just drawn there like moths to a flame. The barbecue was a powerful gravitational force, a man-magnet. Joel said the thin ones could use a turn, I said yeah I reckon the thin ones could use a turn, Griff said yeah they really need a turn it was a unanimous turning decision.

Griff was the Tong-Master, a true artist, he gave a couple of practice snaps of his long silver tongs, SNAP SNAP, before moving in, prodding, teasing, and with an elegant flick of his wrist, rolling them onto their little backs. A lesser tong-man would've flicked too hard; the sausages would've gone full circle, back to where they started. Nice, I said. The others went yeah.

Kevin was passing us, he heard the siren-song-sizzle of the snags, the barbecue was calling, beckoning, Kevinnnnn ...come. He stuck his head in and said any room? We said yeah and began the barbecue shuffle; Griff shuffled to the left, Joel shuffled to the left, I shuffled to the left, Kevin slipped in beside me, we sipped our beer.

Now there were four of us staring at sausages, and Griff gave me the nod, my cue. I was second-in-command, and I had to take the raw sausages out of the plastic bag and lay them on the barbecue; not too close together, not too far apart, curl them into each other's bodies like lovers - fat ones, thin ones, herbed and continental. The chipolatas were tiny, they could easily slip down between the grill, falling into the molten hot-bead-netherworld below. Carefully I laid them sideways ACROSS the grill, clever thinking.

Griff snapped his tongs with approval; there was no greater barbecue honour.

P.J. came along, he said looking good, looking good - the irresistible lure of the barbecue had pulled him in too. We said yeah and did the shuffle, left, left, left, left, he slipped in beside Kevin, we sipped our beer. Five men, lots of sausages.

Joel was the Fork-pronger; he had the fork that pronged the tough hides of the Bavarian bratwursts and he showed a lot of promise. Stabbing away eagerly, leaving perfect little vampire holes up and down the casing.

P.J. was shaking his head, he said I reckon they cook better if you don't poke them. There was a long silence, you could have heard a chipolata drop, and this newcomer was a rabble-rouser, bringing in his crazy ideas from outside. He didn't understand the hierarchy; First the Tong-master, then the Sausage-layer, then the Fork-pronger - and everyone below was just a watcher. Maybe eventually they'll move up the ladder, but for now - don't rock the Weber.

Dianne popped her head in; hmmm, smells good, she said. She was trying to jostle into the circle; we closed ranks, pulling our heads down and our shoulders in, mumbling yeah yeah yeah, but making no room for her. She was keen, going round to the far side of the barbecue, heading for the only available space .. . . the gap in the circle where all the smoke and ashes blew. Nobody could survive the gap; Dianne was going to try. She stood there stubbornly, smoke blinding her eyes, ashes filling her nostrils, sausage fat splattering all over her arms and face. Until she couldn't take it anymore, she gave up, backed off.

Kevin waited till she was gone and sipped his beer. We sipped our beer, yeah. Griff handed me his tongs. I looked at him and he nodded. I knew what was happening, I'd waited a long time for this moment - the abdication. The tongs weighed heavy in my hands, firm in my grip - was I ready for the responsibility? Yes, I was. I held them up high and they glinted in the sun. Don't forget to turn the thin ones Griff said as he walked away from the barbecue, disappearing toward the house. Yeah I called back, I will, I will.

I snapped them twice, SNAP SNAP, before moving in, prodding, teasing, and with an elegant flick of my wrist, rolling them back onto their little bellies. I was a natural, I was the TONG-MASTER.

But only until Griff got back from the dunny.

[Copyright: Danny Katz]

Tuesday, June 15, 2004
The Magnetic Fields...
Last Friday I took David, Roberto, Paul and Marky to see The Magnetic Fields at the Lyric Hammersmith. For the uninitiated, The Magnetic Fields are the music of songwriter-producer-instrumentalist Stephin Merritt, who lives and records in New York City. Adept at computer music programming and production, Merritt records his own albums and plays almost everything on them with help from cellist Sam Davol, banjo player/second guitarist John Woo, and percussionist/pianist Claudia Gonson.

The thirty song gig itself was a tad lack lustre, I'm afraid. The performance was very relaxed, almost too relaxed. The endless instrument tuning got a bit irritating at times too. Perhaps all this could laid at the door of classic New York ennui but towards the end of the first half Marky all but fell asleep - he never made it past the interval. Having said all that the songs were truly magnificent. Merritt's deep, booming baritone oozed like treacle throughout the set - no more so than on the seminal Papa Was A Rodeo. This was the high point of the show with perhaps the comic Yeah! Oh, Yeah! coming close to the level of applause and whooping that welcomed it by the devoted crowd.

The Magnetic Fields were basically over here doing a short tour to promote their new album I as well as a soundtrack album Pieces of April. Pieces of April includes three tracks plucked off 69 Love Songs as well as two from the 6ths' Hyacinths and Thistles. Of the additional songs they performed from this album the stand out new songs for me were One April Day itself and Heather Heather.

Monday, June 14, 2004
Big Brother 5: the weekend events...
I'm begining to warm to the newly pseudo-evicted harpies - the clueless Emma and psycho Michelle. Their short spell in the Big Brother bedsit will no doubt fuel their paranoia though: Victor had better watch out. And Stuart too; a woman scorned and all that... Great TV.

Euro 2004: James And The Giant Punch...
What a gutting result in the football last night: England 1 France 2. Especially after being 1-0 in front until extra time. We played a good game though, I thought. But everyone has to agree, we was robbed. Heskey and James played a large part both in our success and our downfall.

Friday, June 11, 2004
A Case Of The Crabs!...
Yay! Bryan has sent me a link to another fabulous online game - A Nick Bounty Mini-Mystery: A Case Of The Crabs. There goes my Friday off!

Big Brother 5: Watch it!...
I've kept quite quiet about Big Brother this year. I wanted to see how it panned out. I needn't have worried - it's a corker. Back on form again, guys! Unmissable.

Thursday, June 10, 2004
Local Elections: Steve or Ken?...
It's the London mayoral elections today: a two horse race really between Steve Norris and Ken Livingstone. I know who I'll be voting for. But do you?

Their manifesto key points:

Steve Norris, Conservative
Hundreds of police officers should be out on the streets rather than in offices or cars
"Zero tolerance" for minor crimes like graffiti, vandalism and public drunkenness
More police officers for outer London
Abolish congestion charge
Introduce free school buses for children at primary schools
Run the Tube until 3am at weekends, put air conditioning into stations and provide security guards at night

Ken Livingstone, Labour
Police teams of six officers for each neighbourhood
Extend congestion charge to Kensington & Chelsea.
Run the Tube later every Friday and Saturday night
More buses; free bus travel for full time students aged under 18
30,000 new homes a year
Aim to push forward Labour policy on childcare, seeking to provide affordable childcare to all who want it by 2010.

Oh, and just in case you really cared...

Julian Leppert, British National Party
Scrap the congestion charge
Make sure London "No longer welcomes economic migrants"
Two new orbital rail services
Scrap the 2012 Olympic bid
No Heathrow airport extension - build a new airport in the Thames estuary instead
All public buildings to fly flag of St George on St George's day

Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Dustman vs. Politics...
You maybe aware of my ire with our local dustman. That's dustman, in the singular, by the way. I'm sure the rest of the dustmen are fine; I hate the particular guy who insists on coming round to 'prep' our road at 5:30am every Thursday morning night! He wakes us up earlier each week.

After last week's early wake-up call Marky composed an e-mail explaining what had happened with the black bin bags being thrown into our street and how these often split-open refuse sacks then get left for hours before the dustcart actually comes along to pick it all up. It was a gentle e-mail, nothing too pushy. He had complained in stronger terms a few times before but nothing had ever been done. This time he was slightly more crafty in his approach though. As well as sending the e-mail to the person in charge of the public-private cleaning contract at Islington as he had done before, he Cc'ed both of our local councillors. That's crafty because this coming Thursday (tomorrow in fact) is local council election day in London. Might this impending election help stir some action? A cynic might suggest so. I couldn't possibly comment.

But, hey presto! Within an hour or so he got this reply: "This complaint is now being taken up by our Principle Contract Liasion Officer and I have issued the instruction to the contractor that the refuse crew will not operate in your road and the surrounding area prior to 7am and the refuse will not be left in the street for any period of time waiting for collection. Arrangements will be made to monitor this on Thursday 10th June 2004 to ensure my specific instructions are carried out."
Attached was a personal note from our prospectively re-elected councillors: "We hope you will now be able to sleep in peace! Regards Cllr Terry Stacy & Cllr Laura Willoughby (Liberal Democrat Councillors for Highbury East)"

So maybe they are just making sure we get a good night's sleep so we vote for them on Thursday. A cynic might suggest so. I couldn't possibly comment.

The On-Line Pre-Date Confidence Builder...
While you choose your outfit or put the final touches to your hair, it's hard to imagine not having that friend, roommate or sibling to ask, "How do I look?" or "Does this match?" Yet millions of people don't have that someone in their lives. By the time your date arrives they are so overwelmed with self-doubt there is little chance that the date will be a success. All this is about to change. The On-Line Pre-Date Confidence Builder is designed to reassure you while providing answers to all the difficult questions that might come up as get ready for your date.
[Thanks Richard for the link]

Tuesday, June 08, 2004
A Gala Charity Variety Show...
What are those three words associated with theatre that make your heart sink, your brain seize and your stomach turn? They are, of course, "Gala", "Charity" and "Variety". But put them all together and you have a recipe for massive organ failure. The known killer that is, the 'Gala Charity Variety Show'.

So it was with some trepidation that on Sunday night, courtesy of Roger, we went to A Gala Charity Variety Show Live from Her Majesty's. We had visions of end of the pier has-beens, the BBC's Saturday night Seaside Special and lame cruise ship entertainers. We thought it would be really cringe-worthy. But (with a couple of exceptions) we were proven quite wrong. The show was fantastic (if a little long) and had us laughing from start to finish - sometime 'at' but mostly 'with' the acts.

The All Star Band with Donovan Blackwood : Standard house band.
Mark Raffles : 85 year old magician. The tricks were pretty lame.
The Tiller Girls : The pink feathered, high-kicking troupe in their 60s (and beyond).
The Holloways : Husband and wife play the xylophone (mercy me).
Wolfgang : Uber-cute 'Le Cirque du Soliel' performer rolls around on his huge RhonRad (!)
Paul Zenon : The Channel 4 'comedy magician' - actually very good.
The Overtures : Lame 60s tribute band.
Boom : Man playing the drums. Oh dear.
Paul Zerdin : Fantastic ventriloquism.
The Alexis Brothers : Oh My God. Amazing, sexy 'Le Cirque du Soliel' balance brothers.
Wally Eastwood : Breathe-taking juggling. And a nice line in self deprecation.
Tribute to Buddy : Oh, please.

It was a three hour show but it flew by. And we were genuinely surprised at how much we enjoyed it. Well, they do say variety is the spice of life, I suppose.

Monday, June 07, 2004
Summer is here...
The city is bathed in sunshine. The temperature is soaring. Boys and girls are out on the streets in their shorts. All is right with the world. Yay! I love the summer. Thoughts of SAD are long since banished.

Things that are difficult to say when you're drunk...

Things that are difficult to say when you're drunk:
1. Innovative
2. Preliminary
3. Proliferation
4. Cinnamon

Things that are VERY difficult to say when you're drunk:
1. Specificity
2. Antidisestablishmentarianism (I cant say that now)
3. Loquacious
4. Transubstantiate

Things that are downright IMPOSSIBLE to say when you're drunk (ok, you saw this gallopping over the hill, right?):

1. Thanks, but I don't want to sleep with you
2. Nope, no more booze for me
3. Sorry, but you're not really my type
4. No kebab for me, thank you
5. Good evening officer, isn't it lovely out tonight?
6. I'm not interested in fighting you
7. Thankyou, but I wont make any attempt to dance, I have no co-ordination
8. Where is the nearest toilet? I refuse to vomit in the street
9. You're right; I can't jump over that table.
10. Oh, I just couldn't - no one wants to hear me sing.

[Although I have posted this before it is always worth repeating, and thanks to Richard and to Guy for sending it me too]

Friday, June 04, 2004
My Old Man's A FUCKING Dustman...
Why does our FUCKING dustman now wake us up at FUCKING 5:30am every FUCKING week throwing FUCKING refuse bags into the FUCKING street? FUCKER!

I have the honour of having a top of the range Blackberry to play with for a month. Actually we have five of them on trial. I'm not sure the tag line of "more addictive than crack" is right, but it does seem to work. Not that it does anything that my XDA2 can't do. A lot less in fact. And it doesn't 'synchronise' as much as 'deliver', if that makes sense: Outlook's rules don't kick in, just server ones. Hence from the same e-mail account I get hundreds of junk mail on my Blackberry but none on my XDA2. It's a bit clunky too and even bigger than the XDA2. But it may appeal to some people in the office. Hence the trial.

Brain Teaser: Answers...
Bono & Edge over = 2min
Bono back = 1min
Adam & Larry over = 10min
Edge back = 2min
Bono & Edge over = 2min

Total time 17 mins. The gig goes on.

Thursday, June 03, 2004
Brain Teaser...
Here's a variation on fox, chicken and grain crossing a river.

U2 has a concert that starts in 17 minutes and they must all cross a bridge to get there. All four men begin on the same side of the bridge. You must help them across to the other side. It is night. There is only one torch. A maximum of two people can cross at one time. Any party who crosses, either 1 or 2 people, must have the torch with them. The torch must be walked back and forth, it cannot be thrown. Do they make the gig in time?

Each band member walks at a different speed. A pair must walk together at
the rate of the slower man's pace:
Bono:- 1 minute to cross
Edge:- 2 minutes to cross
Adam:- 5 minutes to cross
Larry:- 10 minutes to cross

For example: if Bono and Larry walk across first, 10 minutes have elapsed when they get to the other side of the bridge. If Larry then returns with the torch, a total of 20 minutes have passed and you have failed the mission.


Wednesday, June 02, 2004
You may have seen this wonderful little flash game created by Jakub Dvorský - Amanita before. This little masterpiece features organic graphics, smooth animation, quirky puzzles and pleasant sound.

Thanks for Bryan for sending me the link again. This game will keep you entertained for a good hour.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004
My Weekend...
Well, what a great few days it's been.

Thursday to Saturday was Brocket Hall. Great rooms, fantastic food, archery, falconry, horse-racing, casino, football, tennis, golf, jazz band, string quartet & clay pigeon shooting. Cool,huh? Luckily I wasn't paying!

Back on Saturday afternoon we took my Mum and Dad to go and see the fantastic Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre. By the end my Mum and I had tears streaming down our faces. Marky and Dad looked on with wry amusement.

On Sunday Pete, Ken, Steve, Ian and I went to Stevie P's Soho House bash - free booze, free food and a venue packed choc-a-bloc with cute men - what was not to like?

After that we headed down to Horse Meat Disco - my first time there. It was a giggle: 70's music, a fun crowd, loads of friends and yes, you've guessed it, some cute men too.

Monday afternoon Marky and I went to see Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban at our local cinema. Great film - better than the first two. The Hippogriff (large creature; half bird, half horse) was great. The film was dark (quite literally) and well paced. Even Marky loved it and he can be a hard man to please film-wise sometimes. Can't wait for the DVD.

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