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
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
We left Vancouver behind us yesterday and boarded the glamorous Whistler Mountaineer train. We were booked in Glacier Dome class (first class to you and me) so Stu was smiling from ear to ear; free food, free booze and a glass domed carriage to see all the passing scenery. And what scenery it was!... mountains, forests, gorges, waterfalls, bridges and rapids.
Whistler itself is a beautiful alpine skiing and mountain biking resort nestled 78 miles north of Vancouver in the southern Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains. It will jointly host the 2010 Winter Olympics and there is plenty of evidence of the preparations.
Sadly it was raining when we arrived so many of the vistas were obscured. We settled for dinner (oversized steaks @ The Keg) and a movie (two hours forty-five of Inglourious Basterds. Good but waay too long.)
Luckily the weather this morning is a lot better so we're planning some more exploring before heading back into Vancouver on (you guessed it) the Whistler Mountaineer. Glacier Dome class 'natch.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Canada: Stanley Park...
On Monday we decided to have a slightly more active day. Kicking off early we swam, we walked and we hired a tandem (yes, again) and circumnavigated really rather wonderful 405 hectare Stanley Park - an urban park bordering downtown Vancouver. It was a fantastic day and basically what coming to Vancouver is all about for us.
Flushed with the warm feeling of having done ourselves some good we went... shopping. American Eagle to be exact. Think we might need an extra suitcase now!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Canada: North Vancouver...
On Sunday Stu and I headed north to do a bit of exploring. First we walked down to docks and took the Sea Bus over to North Vancouver. Then we took the regular bus up the hill to the (inexplicably) popular Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park. It's an eco-park whose centrepiece is the world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge (450ft) spanning the vertiginous Capilano Gorge. I have to say that apart from the bridge the place was a bit tame. Trap de tourisme, je crois.
Later on we headed back into town for a swim, sauna, steam and jacuzzi before heading off to Pumpjack for their Sunday night beer bust. Great night.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
We hit the town running and went straight down to Davie Street; Pumpjack to be exact. Vancouver is a rather lovely place so we didn't stay out too late - just long enough to pick up a number and get our bearings.
Our hotel is the Metropolitan on Howe and perfectly placed for walking everywhere. Still, the next day we jumped on a hop-on hop-off open-top City Tour bus to get a slightly more guided look around town; Gastown, The Station, Canada Place, Granville Island, Davie Street (gay village), English Bay Beach, Second Beach, Stanley Park, Robson shopping district, the coliseum-style library and finally Chinatown.
In the evening we had a quite one as we were pretty knackered.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
The second day on The Rocky Mountaineer train ride was quite spectacular. The first day had been been full of landscape fashioned by glaciers (mainly U-shaped valleys) whereas the second day was landscape fashioned by rivers. An altogether more dramatic erosion tool altogether. So it was meandering deep ravines, amazing torrential rivers and precipitous drops. Way cool.
It took us eight hours to eventually wind our way down to Vancouver leaving the awful Kamloops behind us. Kamloops reminded me of my favourite repetitious film title - "The Hills Have Eyes 3: The Hills Still Have Eyes".
The city awaits!
Friday, September 25, 2009
The Rocky Mountaineer train ride is quite something; a two day trip through the mountains, ravines, rivers, glaciers and gorges of the Canadian Rockies. We started off early fromn Jasper and are currently staying at Kamloops - halfway through the trip to Vancouver.
Kamloops is a pretty dire town to be honest in the middle of nowhere but it served fine as a whistlestop. Battling banjos, you get the idea.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The Icefield Parkway is a three hour stunning drive through mountains, gorges and along rivers starting at Banff, up through Banff National Park and into Jasper National Park. We saw sweet white mountain goats, giant jet-black crows, deer, squirrels and chipmunks en route.
Once in Jasper itself we settled into our (frankly mediocre motel) Lobstick Lodge for a couple of days of rest and relaxation. We had nothing scheduled - just lounging by the pool, eating, drinking and reading trashing books (yes, you, Dan Brown). It was the halfway point of our holiday and time to reflect both upon all the places we'd visited thus far and also were looking forward to seeing.
Tomorrow we'll be up early to climb aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train - heading off on the two day trip across the Rockies all the way to Vancouver.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Canada: Lake Louise...
Just before we headed up the road to Lake Louise we popped into the Banff Cave and Basin (barrel scraping as far as sightseeing was concerned really) a rather drab hot spring. After that we started up the Icefield Parkway towards the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise - a fantastic Swiss-styled hotel at one end of the lake (itself nestled between mountains).
Valet parking of course but sadly our lakeview room wasn't quite ready - so we hit the mountain trail hiking up to Lake Mirror and further on up to Lake Agnes. It was a tough three hours climb but well worth it for those panoramic views.
Once back down the trail we checked in, took a swim in the pool and a whirl in the whirlpool before dining in the saloon - 64oz beers anyone?
The next day we swam and whirled again before heading up the Icefield Parkway all the way to Jasper.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Friday we had a very early start leaving for the absurdly picturesque town of Banff - a limo picked us up at 6:30 followed by a four hour flight to Calgary and then another limo ride at the other end. We were knackered by the time we got there.
Our hotel, the Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa, was fine however - comfortable and great service. After a spot of lunch we popped downtown for a beer and a sniff around before heading homeward for an early night and resolving to start the serious business of sightseeing the next day.
On Saturday morning we had a big breakfast in the hotel and, after consulting a map, picked up a car from National and headed up Tunnel Mountain Drive to (surprise, surprise) Tunnel Mountain. Then we crossed the TransCanada Highway to the Minnewanka loop; Johnson Lake (watch out, there's a bear about), Two Jack Lake, Lake Minnewanka itself, Upper and then Lower Bankhead.
After that we hopped, skipped and jumped up Mountain Avenue to the Banff Gondola to take a further eight minute cabin cable-car ride up to the top of Sulphur Mountain. 2.6km in the sky it commanded amazing views of all the mountains and valleys in the locale. Mind you, I was shitting myself on the way up. That's high, people!
Once we came down off the mountain we crossed over to the Upper Hot Springs - a municipal style 39C spa pool. Not a patch on the Blue Lagoon or Bath, mind you.
We had dinner at Bears Grill in town (for all your hot stone self-cooked meat needs) and we were sorted for the day.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
When we went to the Niagara gorge earlier in the week we went quite near the city of Buffalo. Or, as they say quite grammatically correctly, Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Canada: Toronto Islands...
Just off Toronto shoreline are a group of fifteen islands which were originally part of a peninsular. A massive storm separated them from the mainland and dredging widened and deepened the gulf. A short ferry journey however and we were there.
Most of the islands are now joined to each other by bridges so creating an interconnected network - known as Toronto Island Park. There are no cars on the islands - just bicyclers, boatmen, walkers and Rollerbladers. We were told that eight hundred people live on the islands but most of the uber-cute cottages looked fairly deserted.
Stu and I hired a tandem and had great fun criss-crossing our way everywhere the board walks and pathways would take us. The park is beautiful with many outstanding beaches. We even found one that was clothing optional. Fancy.
Later on, back in the city, we met up with Stu's friend Catheryn, her sister and friends for some wine, eats and TIFF star spotting in Yorkville. Biggest celeb was Verne Troyer (Mini-Me).
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Canada: Toronto City Tour...
We got up later after our boozy night out and headed out for some trashy food; Wendy's. Stu had never had that particular variation of processed junk food so was keen to try it. And coupled with the fact that we saw on TMZ's TV show that Diana Ross had been spotted in Taco Bell he'd got a taste for the trashy.
In the afternoon we opted for a guided and narrated city tour to get a feel for the place. It turned out that the tour guide that we'd had the previous day to Niagara, Gord, was the man so we were in familiar hands.
The delights that awaited us were the Distillery District, St Lawrence Market (we were to return here later for a massive mustard purchase), City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square, the peace pagoda, Church St, a bunch of hospitals, the university and PATH.
PATH is a 27-kilometre (17 mile) network of pedestrian tunnels beneath the office towers of downtown Toronto. Quite amazing. An underground city.
At the end of tour we stopped off at the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre. Stu persuaded me to go up the CN Tower (181 floors yikes!) I was pressed to the back of the lift all the way up with my eyes closed.
There was a fantastic view out across the city, as you might expect, but looking down we saw U2 setting up for their gig later that night. They played a bit of "Beautiful Day". It also looked like RIM were closing off the CN Tower restaurant to host U2's after show party.
After the hot and dusty city tour we headed for the hotel spa. We had a swim, went to the steam room, the jacuzzi and the hot tub. After that we went out to Stu's favourite Alsace restaurant Les Trois Brasseurs (renamed The Three Brewers for Toronto).
The TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) is also here this week. We saw Steven Spielberg and also Whoopi Goldberg (no ghost of Patrick Swayze sadly).
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
When I was five years old my Dad showed me some grainy black and white footage from a trip he took to Niagara Falls. Ever since then I've wanted to go there. Yesterday I realised that dream.
Stu and I jumped aboard the Toronto Tours bus at about 9am and for the next ten hours we enjoyed a guided tour of Lake Ontario, the Niagara whirlpool, Niagara Falls itself (American, Bridal and Horseshoe), Journey Behind The Falls, a soaking trip on Maid Of The Mist, picture perfect Niagara-by-the-Lake and some local wine tasting. A great day out and a big box ticked for me personally.
On the trip we chummed up with a couple of Guatemalan guys; Roberto and Esteban. Later on back in Toronto we met up with the guys for eats, beers and a drunken (and perhaps ill-advised) trip to a strip joint. At least I've now seen what 'a private dancer, dancer for money' does. And what the going rate it. Sore head today though.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The VIA rail journey down turned out to be first class... er... First Class in fact. Posh waiting lounge, free massage, free booze and free food. Yay!
Our hotel is a massive tower block on the harbour front. Great view but also the CBD so not much happening at street level.
First impressions of Toronto? Not as friendly at Montreal, but we're warming to the place.
We checked out the gay district last night (OK, typical 'village') and today are heading to Niagara.
Monday, September 14, 2009
So we've arrived safe and sound in Montreal. The Air Canada flight was just fine - great service and not too many bumps en route. The films I watched to pass the time were Moon, The Hangover, Terminator Salvation and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. All suitably diverting.
The limo was waiting for us at the airport and before we knew it we were sitting in the Grand Plaza Centre Ville wondering how to spend out first night in Canada. Thirty minutes later we were in The Stud (at that point fairly empty) supping on a beer or two. Later we shuffled over to the L'Aigle Noir for a bit of variety before returning to the The Stud for a bit of a bop and a boogie. On the way home we popped in to a Maccy Ds for a MacPoulet and frites. Class.
The following day we started off with a swim before hitting the tourist trail proper. First we crawled all over the 343 acre Parc du Mont-Royal. Then we crawled all over Vieux-Montreal and Port-Montreal. Finally we headed up to the rather stunning Oratoire St-Joseph. All impressive stuff.
Next stop was the Sunday night bars on the morrow we head down to Toronto.
Friday, September 11, 2009
I just loved Reg. Witty, subversive and a born entertainer. Ah, memories.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Ivan Gazidis talks about the Arsenalisation (proof that we're not an American corporation as otherwise it'd be Arsenalization, right?)
Whale Meat Again...
That Vera Lynn - she may be back in the charts but it makes me sick that she pretends to be all into animal rights, when her whole lifestyle is based on royalties from a song about whale meat.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
iPhone OS 3.1 Software Update (here at last)...
• Better iPhone 3G Wi-Fi performance when Bluetooth is turned on
• Remotely lock iPhone with a passcode via MobileMe
• Use Voice Control on iPhone 3GS with Bluetooth headsets
• Paste phone numbers into the Keypad
• Option to use Home button to turn on Accessibility features on iPhone 3GS
• Warn when visiting fraudulent websites in Safari (anti-phishing)
• Improved Exchange calendar syncing and invitation handling
• Fixes issue that caused some app icons to display incorrectly
Products compatible with this software update:
• iPhone 3G
• iPhone 3GS
* Not available in all regions.
For feature descriptions and complete instructions, see the user guide for your iPhone at:
For more information about iPhone, go to:
To troubleshoot your iPhone, or to view additional support information go to:
For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website:
A mate of mine works in PR @ 11 Downing St. They had a kids party there earlier on today for some 7 year-olds to celebrate some kid's payment scheme or other. Alistair Darling was about to cut the cake when my mate stepped forward. With his back to the press pack he mouthed the word "CUTS?". The knife was hastily taken out of Alistair's hand. The cake was cut by Maggie Darling - *after* the cameras had left. PR in action my friends.
Jane's 40th Birthday Party...
Last Saturday night we and a bunch of other revellers were part of a surprise chinese karaoke for the lovely Jane. We ate, we drank, we sang. Great fun. More snaps here.
Afterwards we headed up the road to the uber trendy Dalston Superstore. Cool.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Marc Almond, I (Heart) You...
Last night I got to meet my idol. I went to HMV Oxford Street to an album signing. Marc Almond was signing copies of his new album Orpheus In Exile - The Songs Of Vadim Kozin. I queued for about an hour but it was totally worth it. He signed my copy of the album (well, my two albums as a took a different album for him to sign too), we chatted for a minute or two (OK, I gushed and he was utterly charming in return) and I had my picture taken with him.
My heart was racing, racing, racing. Afterwards I was on such a high. It's fabulous to meet those you worship and not be let down.
Is the album any good? It's OK. But I don't care. I got to meet my idol.
More snaps here.
Last Friday night Stu took me out for a (three week early) birthday surprise. He knows how much I like Alan Cumming and so had booked us in to see his one man show at the Vaudeville theatre: I Bought A Blue Car Today.
The show was a mix of chat and singing. The chat was camp, gossipy and very funny. The sixteen songs all meant something to him - written by people he'd worked with (Cyndi Lauper's Shine), written by people he admired (Victoria Wood's Thinking of You) or from shows he'd been in (Mein Herr from Cabaret).
Favourite songs for me of the night were Where I Want to Be from Chess and a mash-up of Dolly Parton's Here You Come Again with Mika's My Interpretation.
Monday, September 07, 2009
Sparky's 39th Birthday Bash...
On Saturday afternoon we popped over to see the lovely Dan to help him celebrate his 39th birthday. We had a rare old time and it was of course marvelous to meet some of his other chums.
So now we know were Pink Mince towers is. More snaps here.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple In The World...
As reported here last year season two of Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple In The World is soon to be upon us. On E4 this Tuesday at midnight to be exact.
Saturday, September 05, 2009
QVC Guy Falls Of Ladder...
Friday, September 04, 2009
Coming to BBC Four this autumn: the story of the synth.
In the late Seventies small pockets of electronic artists such as The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle were inspired by Kraftwerk and J G Ballard to dream of the sound of the future against the backdrop of bleak, high-rise Britain.
Gary Numan's 1979 appearance on Top Of The Pops heralded the invention of synthpop, which would provide the soundtrack as Britain entered a new, ruthless era in the Eighties.
Depeche Mode, four lads from Basildon, came to embody the new sound, while post-punk bands such as Ultravox, Soft Cell, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark and Yazoo took the synth from the pages of the NME and onto the front cover of Smash Hits.
By 1983 the Pet Shop Boys and New Order were pointing to where the future of electronic music lay – in dance.
Contributors to Synth Britannia include Philip Oakey, Vince Clarke, Martin Gore, Bernard Sumner, Gary Numan and Neil Tennant.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
While I Was Away...
Note to self: make sure partner 100% knows you're going away. Otherwise...
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Gay Sports Day...
On Monday it was the Royal Vauxhall Tavern's annual sporting event - Gay Sports Day. Basically it was a 50/50 charity/piss-up event with the money going to GMFA.
Before the track and field events kicked off Darren and Mark hosted a brunch for a bunch which was just lovely.
Suitably fed and watered we headed down to Vauxhall Gardens to watch the games; egg and spoon race, tug of war, space hopper relay, 50m mince, sack race, drag relay, handbag throw and space hopper equestrian. Great fun.
Below is a montage; more snaps here.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
We met up with Kerry, Fergal, John, Monica and the kids in Wanstead Park on Saturday. Great fun to see everyone. And that Lucy's a demon football kicker.
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