Friday, August 29, 2003

Planet of the Daleks

As part of my Must Save Money Friday, I'm spending the evening curled up with an old Dr Who video.

God, it's incoherently fab. Following on from Frontier in Space, Jo and Dr Who head through space to the planet of the Daleks (who are about to invade the universe). They're looking for the Daleks. Guess what the surprise cliffhanger to episode one is... Goodness me, there are Daleks on the planet! Gasp!

Dr Who starts the story injured and asleep in the TARDIS, covered with frost. The TARDIS gets covered with plant spores. Immediately, the supposedly infinite TARDIS starts to run out of oxygen. This is probably due to the fact that Dr Who has obviously made a small fortune by trading in his stately home TARDIS interior for a cheap council flat. The TARDIS is now the size of box, and full of really horrid white MFI furniture. There's even plastic wrap still on the beds. Shudder. The only nice thing about it is that the TARDIS sends Dr Who messages in Futuristic Space Font.

The whole thing is magnificently 70s. Jo becomes infected with alien spores, and starts to grow bubble wrap on her hand. Even better, an astronaut reassures her that "I'm an expert in space medicine." Pass the space tea and the moon buns, luv.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Not a hen

Decided not to go on my friend Gemma's Hen Night. A last-minute check of my bank balance has convinced me that there are better ways of spending £70.

I adore Gemma. I adore Kate. I adore Harriet - but the rest of her friends are merely window dressing for how fabulous Gemma is.

So, I'll be going round to Dieter's for supper instead. It'll be cheaper and includes having sex.


On a very useful (but not necessarily interesting) training course about the future of interactive television.

Receive a text from Adam: "Naked and thinking of you. What you up to?"

Daren't say "Fully clothed. Thinking of future cross-platform non-linear narrative streams."

Sat around drinking vodka and watching Doctor Who with friends. Beryl Reid was in it. There were tea cakes. Applause.

Friday, August 22, 2003


Gross point un:
Brought a tin of Irish Sea Moss round to my friend Sam's. It is made from Sea Moss. And is a vanilla-flavour aphrodisiac. It tasted horrible. Like watered down cough mixture.

Gross point deux:
From the same shop, grabbed a pack of monkey nuts. Was happily filling a bowl with the nuts, when something fluttered past the light. Sam and I looked up to see a group of moths zizzing around the kitchen. We looked back down - and realised the moths were swarming out of the nuts. The packet was full of them - shifting, crawling, fluttering and spreading. How we hadn't noticed I've got no idea.

Went out and got five packs of Prawn Cocktail Space Invaders. Much less threatening.

Gaybar! Gaybar!

Tried to get on a bus home to Euston last night.

It said Euston on the side, so I got on and asked for a ticket to Euston.
"Not going to Euston." growled the driver.
"But it says Euston on the side!" I protested.
"Doesn't. Get off."
"But it does! It says Euston." I murmured. Feeling strangely out of love with the man.

The next customer gets on.
"Ticket to Euston please."

The next passenger tried to get on.
"Euston, mate."
"No!" yells the Driver, full of vicious joy at his power.

At which point, something wonderful happened. I forgot to mention that standing at the busstop was the audience from an Electric Six concert who started to sing "Euston! Euston!" to the tune of GayBar.

The bus driver panicked and roared away, door still open.

It should be made legal to do really horrible things to nasty bus drivers. Like take away their tea cakes, or put coleslaw in all their sandwiches.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Old Blue Peter

We're watching an old episode of Blue Peter in the office. Suddenly, Simon Groom is dressed as a christmas tree. Shame.

Whisky and SitUps

Never see your personal trainer drunk.

When I woke up this morning (after a charming evening with Bradley, the young man from Ladies' Accessories) I felt brilliant. Of course, it wasn't until I jumped on my bike, wobbled towards an oncoming lorry and started giggling that I began to suspect that I was still trolleyed.

And so it proved. The only thing actually keeping me on my feet and functioning was the Red Bull still marching around my system and issuing orders like an over-practical lesbian at a picnic.

Tom the trainer was his usual sympathetic self when I sashayed happily into the gym.
"Y'aright?" he asked.
"I'm pissed, bless you for asking!" I announced, swaying.
"Fine. Let's go for a really nasty run and then some sit ups."
I paled.
He clapped me on the shoulder. "Don't worry! I was joking. We'll leave out the sit ups."


I was lying down on a bench to do a bench press. Feeling comfortable.
Tom was talking.
I shut my eyes.
Tom's voice got gentler and gentler, fading slowly away.
I opened an eye and glared at Tom.
"Were you doing that deliberately?"
"No! Why would I do....that?"


"James, stop turning your head."
"I was looking to you for reassurance."
"James - you can feel my reassurance. Waves of it washing over you. Now, stop moving your head. The sooner we do this, the sooner we can do some more sit ups."

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Bad Books: Death of a Constant Lover II

And here's how the book ends.... (look away if you're planning on reading it).

So, Delaney, the beautiful scheming student is dead. So is Jesse, another student. Jesse's father, the head of the history faculty, is grief-stricken. The wrong man is promptly arrested.

A copy of a book by an obscure French author called Constant was found on Jesse's body (hence the title. ho ho ho). This was mentioned but then forgotten about.

Nick, our hero, finally reads the back cover blurb of the book and solves the mystery. It is about a sinister young man who seduces an older woman. He realises that Delaney killed Jesse, because Jesse had discovered that Delaney drove his mother to suicide. Nick goes off to confront Jesse's father who admits that, yes, he was the murderer. And he has Delaney's appallingly unsettling diaries. He would like Nick to go home and read them and then decide what to do with them.

So.... Nick knows who has committed two murders, and holds VITAL evidence which could free an innocent man, and bring down the entire campus administration.

Here's what happens next (with page numbers)

262: Nick gets home. Stefan is cooking. They talk about French literature
263: Nick explains the plot of the Constant book.
264: Stefan says Nick shouldn't have confronted the murderer on his own.
265: They start to read the diary. "We broke off when the timer rang. We ate wild mushroom lasagne...."
266: They load the dishwasher. "The quiet chugging seemed to mirror Stefan's musing..."
267: They read more of the diary. Then they talk about an offer Nick's received to edit a book.
268: They talk more about Nick's career prospects on campus.
269: They remember that an innocent man is in jail. They leave a voicemail with the police, watch a movie, and go to bed.

Even my dog knew....

Wandered dozily out of the tube station last night as it shut.

Two skinheads lurched up to me. One of them roared "Oi! Oi!"

Figuring I was cornered, I smiled weakly.

"Do you know any good pubs round here?" demanded one. The other belched.

"Er. What sort of pub?"

"Gay pubs, you gorgeous fool."

I gave them directions to the Black Cap. They gave me a bottle of rather nice white wine.

Take Time Back, Sapphire

- But I don't have the receipt.
> Take it back anyway. Tell them you've only worn it once.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Great Junk mail...


Can't Seem To Find Miss Right?

Put An End To Those Lonely Nights Here!

You've tried meeting women just about everywhere!

Why not try checking out some Hot Russian Women?

People I used to work with

Funny how you lose touch with people you used to adore when you worked with them.

Even better is when one of them sends you an email update that makes it sound like you've missed 53 seasons of 24. Here's what my old friend Debbie said:

"Jane got pregnant by a Portugese man on a barge in Amsterdam."

A fan of Strange writes

jooly wrote

i know everybody said that the programme with the demon child and the mad haired ex priest was crap but i really really liked it, am addicted and therefore devestated at its disappearance! when's it coming back?! dont stop showing it just cos no one else watched it! or if you really aren't going to show the rest then please arrange for the cast to come to my house and re-enact the rest of the series in my front room. am willing to provide tea and chocklet biccies.lots of love from jooly who is a useful member of society and not a reclusive computer/sci-fi nerd despite the stereotypes my viewing habits might suggest x


My old boss just emailed to let me know he's reading this.

Pause. Blinks.

People are reading this? Who?

Dear Mum.
Yes, I'm still gay.
And touching boys regularly.
Lots of them.
PS: Need more socks.

Bad Books: Death of a Constant Lover

by Lev Raphael.

I keep on nearly loving this book. And then getting annoyed by it.

Brief plot summary: A gay academic in his forties is occasionally distracted from cooking elaborate meals with his perfect boyfriend by grisly murders on campus.

I thought this book would be lovely. I liked the idea of a gay detective book. I liked the idea of academic infighting. I do not like this book.

For one thing, it's terribly politically correct - but in a touchy-feely-me-me-me way. The hero is perpetually agonising over being supportive enough. His boyfriend is psychologically tormented by suddenly discovering that he's Jewish and can't forgive his parents for concealing this fact from him. He's not so much haunted by the fact that they survived the holocaust, as that they tried to shield their son from the horror of their past. Which just reads... well, odd.

Periodically, the hero's sister phones. She's on her way to therapy, and the two discuss issues. Or talk about how they suspect his neighbours are "repressing".

Every fifty pages or so, someone remembers there's been a terrible murder on campus. There's a pause. Some sharing. And then we move on to the hero's selfish worrying about how his involvement in the investigation could ruin his career, or worse, supper.

This is a book of lists and labels. People aren't just well dressed - we get an inventory: "Stefan had a lightweight green-and-brown Jhane Barnes sweater and a Kenneth Cole brown suede shirt, though he never wore them together."

The same thing happens when there's cooking (and there's a lot of cooking). I think this book is written by a man who likes cooking, but loves cleaning. Witness: "Didier had equipped their kitchen very well. Sub Zero fridge, thirty-two bottle wine refrigerator, chrome delixe Cusinart, convection oven, KitchenAid mixer, Dualit taoster, Gaggia espresso machine, Henckel knives, Calphalon cookware.... By the stove a cookbook stood open in a plastic protective stand."

Ignore the list of martian cookery utensils. Let's just concentrate on the phrase "a cookbook stood open in a plastic protective stand" - this would be fascinating if it was making a telling point against the character (ie, you can tell he's emotionally sterile because of the clinical way in which he cooks) - in the same way that you'd learn a lot about a passionate character from hearing "perched on the stove was a cookbook stained with ingredients". This information is purely there to reassure the fussy reader that everything was nice and tidy. Shudder.

Similarly passionless is the description of the hero and his boyf watching a film. "After dinner, we stumbled into the living room and dug out the cassette of that quintessential 1930s romantic comedy: Midnight with Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, John Barrymore, Mary Astor, Francis Lederer, Hedda Hopper and Rex O'Malley." This is an IMDB listing, not descriptive prose. This tells us NOTHING about the film, or what it means to the heroes. There's another five lines before we learn that the film was set in Paris. Which is a detail at least.

It's all so teeth-pulling. Not least of which because there is a lot of the book that is fascinating and interesting. There are some fascinatingly unsettling characters, such as Delaney, an impossibly beautiful, frightentingly perceptive grad student, who looms through the book, unnerving and yet captivating every character he meets. Imagine Steerpike with social skills and a gold card, and you're kind of there.

There's Nick's head of department, a wonderfully bland woman who refuses to produce any emotional response ever, even when accused of murder.

And then there's the whole idea of gay detectives. I'm rivetted by the idea of Alan Cumming starring in a series about crime-solving decorators. The whole idea nudges on what this book is missing... just a little bit of gay fab.

I'm not asking it to be an out-and-out campfest (although, perhaps I am) - I'm just looking for the heroes to use their gay powers to solve crimes. There's not a hint of "You can tell she's a witch - just look at her heels!". There is no scene in which the heroes stand in their neighbours kitchen and tut "He *must* have killed her here. This room's never been so well cleaned. He's even done the cabinets." At no moment do they glare at a man and say "Come on sugar, you're having an affair - you've lost weight and you've stopped wearing polo shirts. Something's up."

It's all just supportive, positive, bland self-affirmation. Except for one line. One line that gives you a hint of what the book could have been....

"Stefan turned to me, quoting Sigourney Weaver's immortal line from Ghostbusters: 'Take me now, subcreature.' "

Monday, August 18, 2003

Sunday evening: Where the nuts come from

I owe Lee an apology. Hampstead Heath is not the complete dismal right off that it first appeared to be.

Prompted by a text from Lee ("It's heaving at this time of day. I hear."), I pedalled up there yesterday afternoon. Frankly, I decided the men would be crap, but cycling up a big hill is very good exercise.

The men were crap, but the bike ride was fun.

It was about six o clock, and it was rather pleasant weather for taking a stroll through the woods. The nearby cries of happy children playing were a little disturbing though.

The children were heard, but not seen. In fact, there was very little to see. There was the token "Far Too Attractive" man wandering about. You know what I mean - you see them in clubs. Vaguely unearthly creatures wandering around, with a look of total indifference to everyone around. They're like the attractive men you see in saunas "who are just there to cleanse their pores."

But that was about it - what gay men there were weren't exactly attractive. They'd all arrived dressed as elderly American tourists. Single bold colour tshirts (what is it about lime? who can find that an attractive colour? especially for lurking in a wood? and do people really still wear t-shirts with the CK on them?), pushed out by a gut expanding from the over-streched elastic of their plaid shorts.

[side confesssion: i've suddenly remembered. i once owned a t-shirt with CK on it. it was lime. my flatmates burnt it.]

So, I pottered through the woods. What randiness I had gradually muted it's way through to... well, boredom. I was about to go home when a very good looking man walked past. He obviously shouldn't have been there - early twenties, thin, fashionable clothes, decent hair, the right number of limbs... he was even smiling.

I immediately did The Worst Possible Thing. I ground to a halt. Boggled. In an alarming way.

He ground to a halt. And stopped smiling. He may even have shuddered slightly.

I stepped forward. Paused. Should have said something. Instead, boggled further.

He backed neatly away down a path.

I turned around, to find a topless fifty year old man with nipple clamps bearing down on me.

I boggled, and backed away. Down the same path that Attractive Man was on. Who soon realised I was following him, and sat down on a log until I'd walked past. As I stomped mournfully away, I heard Nipple Clamp guy starting to chat up Attractive Man.

I wandered past a few minutes later, and there was Attractive Man alone again. I walked up to him and apologised for stalking him. He shrugged, smiled, and then said the magic words "I've brought a bottle of wine."

We ended up having a picnic in the open air away from the shuffling bushes. It turns out it was the first time Luis had headed up to the Heath. He was a bit puzzled by it as well. He'd come up with a friend, Luce, another Brazilian.

We received a text from Luce. He was stoned, had no mobile reception, and couldn't see a thing. Eventually he joined us... and turned out to be just as good looking as Luis.

So, the three of us sat there, watching the sun set, drinking red wine and smoking. I failed to learn any Portuguese, despite the fact that the two of them would occasionally pause, look at me, giggle, and then mutter something.

It was an oddly idyllic way to spend the evening - getting drunk and laughing with people who were really good mates, and very good at sharing their in-jokes.

And then? Well reader, I married them.


Later on that evening, Luis, Luce and I are at the Black Cap. With two elderly South Africans.

There was stuff that happened in between, but the laws of cause and effect have stopped working. Now I am just drunk, stoned, and have muddy knees. And there's a drag act on stage shouting at us about Ewen McGregor.

Luis and Luce are dancing - dancing really well. With the effortless skill of the beautiful pissed.

The South African leans over, a hand stroking my shoulder. "So, mate, which one's yours?"

I shrug.

As if on cue, Luis walks up. And kisses me. Then Luce walks up, and kisses me.

And tonight, ladies and gentlemen, just for a few seconds I realise I have won the gay lottery. Or at least, the hearts of two Brazilian students. For an evening.

Saturday and Sunday

Lee and I discovered....

* Frock coats are lovely
* Lazer Quest is compelling
* Lee is best at laser quest if he's hidden in a high spot sniping at anything that comes near.
* My least favourite ex in the whole world still drinks in Oxford
* And has the stupidest lisp in the world.

Lee very kindly assured me that my evil ex Cary (real name actually Gary) is not at all attractive. This was splendid of him.

Did manage to escape to a small club where I met a charming man called Bradley. He's a buyer of Ladies Accessories for House of Fraser. So gay, then. Wonderful company.

We watched as a lipstick lesbian attempted to seduce his married friend Chrissie.

The train ride home on Sunday was only interesting for the man on platform 10 as Lee and I said goodbye. He was incredibly muscly, had really interesting hair, great arms, and was seeing off an elderly female relative.

I followed him out of the station, wondering whether or not to introduce myself. In the end, just couldn't.

I was walking out of the station, wearing yesterday's shirt, weighed down by a battered old Radio Time bag, wheeling my bike with a novelty cow bell.

He strode confidently past in his muscle-T, up to a vintage Harley, threw on a perfect denim jacket, and roared away.

And I know my place.

Lee's version of events is here....

Friday: Oxford

Lee and I went to Oxford. We rowed a boat. We failed to smoke pipes.
We went dancing.

It's strange to discover that the Coven, the club in Oxford that used to terrify me more than anything on a Friday, is actually small, badly organised, and full of unattractive men.

The DJing was all over the place, the drinks were rubbish, and the big dance floor was empty cos the music was much more hardcore than the crowd.

In amongst it all, Lee stood, magnificent, and a little bored. The only man he found attractive turned out to have two left feet. Which he'd left at home.

The only man I found attractive, was there with his boyfriend. He looked like a cute combination of Owen Wilson and a bog brush. His boyfriend looked like a bad tempered boot salesman.

I wandered up to the cute guy. "It's a shame you're here with your boyfriend."
"Isn't it? Do you want my number?"

Actually taking his number proved to be quite hard. Neither Lee nor I had a phone on us, and the staff didn't have pens. Lee and I spent a miserable minute trying to memorise Adam's number ("07978? no? 08798? 605? 600?") before Adam revealed that he had a phone.... which he then used to text me all weekend.... with bad thoughts.

Dolly vs Delius

When will Lee Binding discover that Dolly Parton is not classical music?

David Boreanaz

It is obvious that Angel is now being played by David B's older brother.
Even more exciting is the discovery of a web site that contains...

David Boreanaz Fan Art

Gasp! Breathe! Gasp! Oooh... airbrushing....

Friday, August 15, 2003


Due to the appalling number of squats my personal trainer made me do yesterday, I'm having trouble walking today.

I've developed this new gait, that's rather like a crab scuttling slowly past on tiptoe.

Put another way, it looks as though my bum's bitten off more than it can chew.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003


Scientists have discovered that the Big Arms Powder also makes you brainy.

Last used it a couple of months ago. Gave me a hangover every day for a fortnight.

Brought it in a biomass store in LA from a man with big arms, a vacant grin and steroid acne. He assured me was "much less likely to cause nausea, vomiting or internal bleeding than most other leading brands". It tasted vaguely of vanilla.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003


Only gay men could reinvent mugging as a hobby.

What other group of people could possibly think of this as fun?
- Going into some woods.
- At night.
- Alone.
- In the dark.
- Inviting a stranger to take you somewhere even more isolated?

Last night I finally went to Hampstead Heath. It has some kind of mythos in gay culture as being like a perpetual, twilight gay woodstock, only with shagging.

Nonsense. It was dark - too dark to see most people. There was no lighting. There was just the crunch of gravel, and the alarming knowledge that ugly men were glaring at me.

I can't imagine anything less liberating and fun that going to a darkroom. This was like going to a darkroom, but with nettles.

I did, eventually manage to discern a man who was probably pretty, and drag him off for a bushwank. But it wasn't terribly fulfilling really.

Frankly, if I wanted to stand around, thinking about the West Wing while getting indifferent head, I'd still be with my last boyfriend.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Johnny Depp's Entrance

.... in Pirates of the Carribbean is one of the best entrances in the visual medium. Period.

Other good entrances:
- The President in the first episode of the West Wing
- Locutus of Borg
- The Daleks
- The First at the start of Season Seven of Buffy.
- Grace Kelly in Rear Window

All good entrances. Really, you know... nice. But still a mere nothing compared to Captain Jack Sparrow.

PS: This film also contains an orchestral score you could go jogging to. If you were very fit.


Why, when someone says "This won't take long" does time suddenly stretch out, slow down and stop?

Dammit. I'm in my twenties. Still.
I *like* being in my twenties.
I *like* being in people in their twenties.
I only have a finite number of days of my twenties left.

What excuse do vacillating morons have for taking two of those precious, never to be repeated hours of my youth away from me with a meeting about NOTHING? I could be having pointless sex with the pretty new programmer.

And why do they tut at me just 'cos I'm reading a book during their meeting?

Quote from this morning's meeting: "Joey is in charge of a new project. It's to scope out whether or not we should progress to formulate a basic framework for our strategy of response to the idea that going forward we need to look at addressing, and perhaps changing, the way we approach our community-facing operational decisions. But it's early days at the moment."

What this means: Our messageboards are broken. We could fix this really important thing. Or we could look to the long term.
It is a bit like a fireman turning up and saying "Yes, your house is on fire. Let's start planning building a new one."

Friday, August 08, 2003


Not all cats like marmite.
Not all boys like Kylie.
Quorn sausages taste just as bad as real ones.
The men you want to call seldom do.
I can't digest Magnums.
Straight couples get engaged in heatwaves.
I appear to earn too much money.
While you can't buy happiness, you can buy DVDs.
All publicists are evil hell demons who will die alone and hated by their children. Even the maggots consuming their rotting flesh wil shudder with revulsion.
Peppermint tea is scrummy.

Blue Peter Appeal

Blue Peter Appeal video clip

Of course, these people are poor. And filthy. And probably sluts. But we want to give them a chance to play football in the cold by the sea. Just once. To give them a glimpse of a proper life. And a night in the caravan with sweaty "uncle" Roger and a little secret that they can treasure forever.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

A dream I made earlier

Bad dream:

All the other Blue Peter presenters were off having amazing sex in glamorous locations, while I was in the studio making soup.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003


This weekend I went to a big gay bbq.

Most of the men there were gay.
Except for a fab lady called EJ.

Most of them had slept with the host Daniel.
Except for me, EJ, and a man from Ireland who slouched in late, sat in a corner, and refused, frankly, to sleep with anyone there.
There is always one.

It was gay because...
1) Most of the preparations went into the salad.
2) The cooking of the meat involved fussing over marinade, and making sure people on the Atkins diet were adequately catered for.
3) Hot dogs out. Ciabatta in.
4) People drinking beer felt the need to apologise.
5) Everyone kept out of the sun ("Brad Pitt swears by the shade.")

Gay remark of the afternoon was won by EJ, who suddenly announced "My friend Pete once rimmed Limahl."

1./ The sun is shining.
2./ I have done all of my To-Do List. Except for the stupid things that I will never do.
3./ I've discovered I don't like Prawn Mayonaise sandwiches. Thank god, as the fat content is alarming.


1./ I am going to get no more work done.
2./ I have to go to a rubbish meeting that will be A Huge Waste Of My Life. Two hours of my twenties are about to be pissed down the drain.
3./ The air conditioning stops working ten feet from my desk.

Was Welsh and called John Rodriquez. Obviously.

Met him at the Black Cap in Camden. He was pretty but drunk. Not in a rolls-eyes-vomits-staggers way - just in an amiable/slightly repeating way.

Had a weird evening, lying in bed, baking alive thanks to the mini heatwave.

Every now and then he'd wake up and murmur a random fact from the night before

- "Did I mention I'd had 13 pints?"
- "You don't have a suit I can borrow do you?"
- "I've had thirteen pints. I'm still drunk."
- and, endearingly.... "Where am I?"

I think he amuses me.

He signed off sick the next day by text message. That's casual.

It had been a difficult acorn harvest that year. Skip had been working terribly hard on his exciting new acorn store, and had been busily tap tapping away putting up new shelves for the acorns. But at last, all that hard work was over.

All the acorns were in, and had been lovingly polished until Skip could see his merry face shining back from each one as he placed it in its very own velvet niche in his lovely new acorn store.

There was a stern "rat-a-tat-tat" as the door fell down under a hail of bullets.

Scowl entered. "You'll need a new door," he muttered.

"Ooh!" squeaked Skip, "it's you! Have you come to look at my shelves?"

Scowl blinked. Slowly. "No." he replied. "I have come to take you to a party in the Muttering Meadow."

For a short second, Skip's twitching whiskers were still. "The Muttering Meadow? I'm not sure about that. What could I possibly have to talk to the animals of Muttering Meadow about?"

Scowl grabbed him firmly by the shoulder. "You can tell them all about your shelves."


It was a long journey to the Muttering Meadow, through happy little fields, and funny little valleys, full of laughing birds and chittering rabbits.

Skip and Scowl walked along the stony path, Skip running on ahead, and then scampering back to encourage Scowl along. Scowl just walked at his own pace, smoking a narrow clay pipe, and kicking snails.

As always with a new idea, Skip was terribly excited.

"Will there be buttercup juice?" asked Skip.

"Probably." said Scowl.

"And will there be brambleberry jelly?"


"And chestnut jam?"

"If we're quick."


Eventually, they came to the top of a small, sunny hill, and there, before them, was the Muttering Meadow. There were already some animals there, talking merrily away in little groups.

"Oh," said Skip, his eyes losing their usual gleam, "I thought you said there would be a bouncy castle or a trampoline..."

"There will be if you lie down." growled Scowl. "Did you bring some acorns with you?"

"Why yes, of course. I thought the animals might like some."

"And you were right." said Scowl, snatching the bundle. "Hello everyone! I've brought acorns!"

Scowl marched into the Meadow, leaving Skip smiling nervously on the edge.


But Skip wasn't alone for long. Big Badger soon wandered over. "Hullo!" beamed Badger, "I'm brilliant! And so is my wife!"

"Hello," said Skip.

"Gosh," laughed Badger heartily, "It's so tiring telling everyone how lovely I am. I'm famished. Have you got any acorns?"

"ah, No...." sighed Skip.

"Well, toodle pip! Come along brilliant Mrs Badger."

And Skip was alone for a bit longer.


Old Hamster wandered up to him next. "Don't believe a word of it." he announced.

"I'm sorry?" said Skip, looking up from his weak elderflower champagne.

"A lot of people here don't like you. But not me. I still like you. Despite your crimes." Hamster pecked at a small beetle.

"What crimes?" asked Skip, nervously edging back towards the happy forest.

"Well, you've been telling everyone how brilliant Badger is, for a start."

"Have I?"

"Yes, and everyone knows that Wise Robin is far more clever than Badger."

"Oh. Well, I don't really know them that well-" Skip looked nervously away. In the distance, Scowl was happily showing the other animals his new chainsaw.

"That's no excuse. We all decided years ago. But don't worry about it - I really still like you. Even if you have been wasting acorns."

"oh - uh - have I?" From the other side of the field, Scowl was waving a hand. It wasn't his own.

"Yes. Everyone knows you've not been looking after the acorns properly. But don't worry. I'm sure you had a really good reason. Oh look - there's someone else I don't like very much. I'm just off to laugh at them. Enjoy the nutmeg."

Skip was terribly confused. He had been rather pleased about the acorns. But perhaps he shouldn't have let young Miss Squirrell tell everyone about the acorns before the harvest was quite finished. They may all have got the wrong idea.


Skip felt a sudden sharp pain in the ribs. He looked around, expecting the familiar comforting presence of Scowl, but instead found Sneer, the vole who used to run Woodland Times.

"I'm surprised you dare show your face here." shouted Sneer.


"Everyone knows about the disastrous acorn harvest."

"Disaster? But there are more acorns than ever this year. And they're on nice new shelves...."

"I know all about the shelves. They'd have been much better if I put them up."

"......" managed Skip, smiling apologetically.

"In fact, I'm sure I did put the shelves up. Or they were my idea in the first place. I haven't decided yet. But I know you've ruined them. Everyone's been talking excitedly about how they'd have put the shelves up so much better if they'd been asked to."

"................" said Skip. A bit lost. His heady was spinning dizzily, a feeling he normally only got when doing Scowl's accounts.

"Why didn't you tell us you were putting up shelves? We knew all about your plans to put up shelves, of course. It was all our idea. But you should have told us first. Then we could have told you how to do it. Although you stole the idea of putting up the shelves from us."

"I - I - I - don't.... think....." Skip felt lost. In the distance, he could just hear the faint roar of the chainsaw, and see tree after tree toppling down.

"Anyway, the whole shelf idea is despicable. And a disgusting thing to do to acorns. Can I kiss you?"

"What? No!" protested Skip.

"I think you're terribly smug. I despise you. Oh go on - just a small kiss."

"Oh. No! No!" wailed Skip, backing away. A long way away, he could just see Mister and Mrs Badger dancing happily around each other.

"I've heard the acorns taste terrible this year. I don't know how you dare be here. Well, can I touch you then?"

"I don't know what you mean-" gasped Skip. Even further away, he could see Hamster standing next to Wise Robin. They were giggling.

"Let me touch you!" roared Sneer, advancing on him, "You smug worm! You loathsome insect! You insensitive slug! I've got to have you!"

"It's uh, not that, I, ah.... it's just that... well.... don't you already share a burrow with another vole?"

"Oh, that! Don't be boring and smug. He's hibernating already. And, if you let me touch you, then maybe I'll be nice about your acorns."


"Let me have your acorns!"


"Let me lick them! I have to have your acorns! I demand them!"

Skip paused. His eyes wandered across the Muttering Meadow to all the other happy animals. To the industrious little owls who were busy organising games, to the happy pandas making little cakes, and to the frolicking lambs who were chasing each other through the meadow. And then Skip looked back to Sneer, advancing on him, licking his lips with a terrible, slavering hunger, most surprising for such a small vole.

And then Skip ran, ran until he was safe in his little burrow, safe amongst his shelves, safe with a little pot of acorn polish. And then Skip slept, and had unquiet dreams.


Dear Diary

Bedfordshire! Bloody hate bloody Bedforshire. Not an All Bar One in sight, and we landed the Dalek Saucer on the only Starbucks in town. Do they think about lates when they land those things? Clearly not. Huh.

I don't know. When I first joined the Dalek army it was dead brill. Shazza and I wandered the cosmos, invading exciting planets, terrorising dull civilians, giving them plagues and drab clothes, and then catching the last saucer home for drunken jollies and a good gas down the Emperor's Bar (motto: "Do not fight in here.").

Now it's all robomen and quarries. Dammit. Even our prisoners have better haircare than we do. And we've only got black and white TV. If we want Sky, we have to wear the bloody dishes strapped to our back. Which is a vexing nuisance. Where am I supposed to put my fave Gromit shoulder bag now?

Anyway, must nip off down the mines for a bit of terrorising in amongst the whicker baskets. After all, we're not the bastards of earth for nothing.

PS: The bloody Slyther's crapped all over my best rubber flange. Mongrel.
PPS: Daleks rule!

Never seen this until last night, and pretty much loved it. Had always thought it would be dull-as-toast captured/escape nonsense - but it's really good, in that it's actually *about* being locked up with no idea of what's going on, rather than "Take them away!" plot filler.

It even looks lovely - Paul Bernard does a great job as director - there's even composition. He's trying trying sooooo hard. Even the President of Earth comes across as a character (love her conducting intergalactic war while having her hair done and glugging through a bottle of wine).

It's all so cool. Pertwee is really entertaining throughout, with genuinely witty asides ("How embarrasing," he sighs when caught escaping for the first time). He sails through the Mind Probe scene. It makes a nice change to have such casual torture, with the Doctor sat back chuckling as the state torturer (in a silver ball gown!) "takes the power up to twelve".

Huge respect too for Jo. She makes a great companion for the Doctor, and an even better one for the Master. Delgado is obviously great, but it's Jo who wins when he swoops down on her booming "You will obey me! You will obey me!" and she gives a little girly shake of the head.

Unfortunately, the wheels come off in episode four. There's an epic sense of conspiracy created, and we're aware of the Earth Government coming to war with Draconia and itself. There's a sinister outside force manipulating the two empires, and a moon full of political prisoners just waiting to be freed.... And then, well, characters just start being tidied up. Poor old Professor Dale is marched off into a year's solitary confinement without chocolate ... and never heard of again.

Major Williams, a really interesting character, who, we're always being told "started a war with the Draconians", suddenly talks this through with the Draconian Prince and discovers its all been a misunderstanding about opening gun ports as a matter of respect. Eh? Did no one even think to talk this through before Dr Who turned up in his unusual velvet/corduroy suit? Did Babylon 5 steal this whole plot?

By episode six, it's all a mess. How did this happen? It was all going so well, and then the Master's plot/counter-plot unravels. He makes Jo dig her way out of prison with a spoon, luring her to the control room, just so that he can switch on a homing beacon to alert the Doctor to his whereabouts. The Master then orders the Ogrons to hide themselves in the base. Then changes his mind, and has them patrol the planet's surface. The Doctor immediately knows it's a trap - Jo has enough trouble with UNIT's Top Secret filing. How could she (bless her) set up a homing beacon?

Then there's the completely pointless Ogron God Bouncy Castle. And, uh, the Daleks....



Dear Diary
Today we left our Secret Army Base on the planet of Spiridon. (Whoopsie, must stop blurting that out!) We then crossed the void beyond the mind to the Planet of the Ogrons. Then we gloated. Then we traversed the empty circle outside time and were back at our Secret Army Base on the planet of Spiridon in time for tea.

Unimportant soldiers exterminated: 3 (vg)
Important enemies (who could really wreck our plans if they discovered the location of our Secret Army Base) exterminated: 0 (vb)

PS: May have told Dr Who location of our Secret Army Base. Can't remember.
PPS: Dalek Supreme has taken the last of my Deadly Sins Magnums from the freezer. Hate him.


It all ends in the least comprehensible way possible. Were there serious issues in the edit suite? One minute the Doctor and Jo are alone in the control room. The next they're surrounded by Ogrons and the Master. They rassle. A gun goes off. The Doctor falls to the ground. The Doctor and Jo are *immeditately* alone in the control room again. What happened there? Where did the Master go?

I just don't understand - it was very nearly Adult Drama with Interesting Situations and Characters. It ended up with a bunch of Ogrons in alarming Black-And-White-Minstrel make-up running around squawking "Lawks a mercy!". How? It's like a mid-air collision between Curse of Fenric and the Happiness Patrol.