Tuesday, August 31, 2004

X Files Dream

(I've nearly finished watching the X Files, and the mounting confusion is starting to solve itself in my subsconscious with an X Files/Charlie and the Chocolate Factor crossover:)

The Government announce that they've hidden Two Tickets to The Truth in chocolate neck implants. So Mulder and Scully race across the country, frantically searching for them. With hilarious consequences.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Beach Party

It rained on Sunday, so we went to East India Quay's beach party. It was just like England by the sea - wet, but desperately cheery.

As the wind whipped around, majorettes performed to Rachel Stevens' "Some Girls Try Too Hard". The irony was lost on them. Especially when they swapped their batons for pom-poms and performed the same routine to Chumbawumba.

Saturday night/Sunday morning.

It seemed like a good idea. Go East for the night. Sadly, all was not well with The White Swan. Drinks were cheap, the men looked cheaper, but the DJ appeared to have come from a wedding.

Hell hath no fury like the tutting of a gay club when the DJ plays on "I Will Survive".

Did spend some of the evening trying to chat up a man called Andrew. But he seemed Awfully Posh, and had about him the kind of Bright Indifference of a war widow putting on a Stiff Upper Lip. "Oh? Are you going? Oh, I daresay I shall cope. Chin chin!"

I consoled myself by deciding that his nose was pointy. Very pointy.

We left at three. Lee grabbed a taxi, and waved me off to the next door sauna. His argument was a) It's cheaper than the taxi home and b) Soon I'll be too old for it.

In theory, seeing in dawn in a sauna is a great idea. In practice, four hours is A Very Long Time when you're tired. You've got to find someway to fill in the time... I had sex with three men. That filled in an hour.

Most of the rest of it I spent napping on their roof garden. Which was odd. Especially as it was cold, and people kept wandering out to point at the sky, saying "See that next to the moon? It's very bright, and it's not moving. It's got to be a spacecraft."

Staggered downstairs at five thirty. Got distracted by a blond man walking up the stairs. "Hello you!" he announced, cheerily. "Fancy a shag?"

Actually, I really wanted coffee. But...

"Only," he continued, "Would you mind not buggering me? It's been a long night, and I'm so tired of being shagged."

In which case.... we had coffee.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

ITV1: Other people's Television

While at my folks the other week, they made me watch Foyle's War with Michael Kitchen.

It's a great idea for a TV show - everyone loves a murder, we all like Dad's Army, and we adore Heartbeat - so comfortable wartime mystery is going to be, like, the best programme ever. And, oddly, a lot of people think it is.

But it isn't. Foyle's War is rubbish. Where it could be subtle it's lumpen ("Damn you, conchie scum!" a conscientious objector is told). Where there's potential for dramatic irony (Foyle's best friend runs an Italian restaurant), it's bludgeoned (Italian best friend burnt to death by baying mob when war with Italy announced).

Shuddering through this is the wonderful Michael Kitchen as Foyle. The lines leave a bad taste in his mouth, and in some scenes he makes acting look like a bad habit he's trying to give up.

Things we've never done

On Friday night Lee and I went to Hyde Park Rose Garden. Where you can find pretty men wandering around looking for sex. Well, this is a lie. On Friday night you find the kind of men With Nothing Better To Do.

The following shouted conversation takes place behind a big bush...

LEE: I need more. Get it out!
JAMES: Allright. Let me just get it ready.
LEE: Looks fine to me.
JAMES: If you're sure. Grab the top.
LEE: Yeah. This is looking ready.
JAMES: Would you mind twisting it gently please at the top?
LEE: Sure. Don't worry - it's not going to go everywhere.
JAMES: You're sure you're okay swallowing it?
LEE: Can't wait.
JAMES: It's nearly there.
LEE: Oh yes... yes.... yes...
JAMES: I can feel it-


Another bottle of babycham triumphantly opened. I wiped my hand down on Lee's jacket, patted him fondly and said "Cheers for that, mate." Then went off to retrieve the cork.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

A marvellous party

My friend Ed is now a businessman of some distinction. He runs a firm called discoo that appears to make T-shirts and Glamorous Stuff. Their first birthday party was a predictable medley of free cocktails, thin people, and lapdancing.

I got there late - due to it being in Covent Garden. The only way to find somewhere in Covent Garden is to ask Someone In Authority. Streets rarely have names, and only occasionally numbers. All the nightclubs look like hairdressers, and all the salons look like pie shops. The only shop you can recognise is Lush, and that's cos it smells.

The lovely Verity was the bouncer. She's petite, classy, and seems to know every Fridge-Shaped-Man in London (Once heard the fearsome bruiser outside Ronnie Scott's refer to her as "my crew"). Ahead of me in the queue were two drunken businessman, trying to blag their way past V, watched with some interest by two beefy doormen:

DRUNK: Let me in, luv.
VERITY: It's guest list only, I'm afraid.
DRUNK: Oh, come on...
VERITY: No, sorry mate. Tonight's not your night. It's a private party for Discoo.
DRUNK: Yeah, well, they're clients of mine.
VERITY: I'm sure they are, and I'm sure you were invited - but you didn't reply.
DRUNK: Look. This guy with me, he's a client of mine. You're making me look a fool in front of him.
VERITY: I'm not the one making you look a fool. Go away.

The Drunks shuffle away. The doormen applaud Verity quietly, then turn to glare at me.

Verity drags me inside. "Drink?" she demands, "Only we've got £500 behind the bar and twenty minutes in which to spend it." She gets me a Mai-Tai. Well, a jug of Mai-Tai. Things get orange and everyone is lovely.

As always happens when I'm somewhere interesting, I bump into Alex from work. I never see him at work - always at parties, staggering past me, and announcing "I. Am. Wasted!" He was with a friend who worked for Popbitch, who was looking for a girl called LJ. He'd gone out with her 8 years ago and "she made the best compilation tapes".

I *knew* who LJ was. I'd met her at the last of these Ed-type things. I think. I wandered over to her. "Hi! LJ! Your ex-boyfriend from 8 years ago is here. He still loves you."

"That's marvellous," she said, excitedly, then her face fell, "Only I'm not LJ."

In the background, there was poll dancing going on. I suddenly found this interesting.

Wonderfully, Digby was there. Digby's a lovely friend from school. Who, it turns out, has been reading this blog. Er. Hello, Digby! Digby also took a charming picture. It appears to be of Verity and, uh, me. I have no memory of this. Ah well.

Digby had brought along an American comedian called Eddie Ifft, who was having a reasonably great time. Well, until introduced to a woman who yelled, "Go on! Say something funny!"

Friday, August 27, 2004

The End of Disco?

Alacazar have covered Seasons in the Sun. It sounds joyously like the robots singing "Stick your head in a pig" from Hitchhikers.

Best before youth

I'm fine about turning 30. Really I am.

Well, until I bought some yoghurt and realised that, by the time it goes off, I'll be An Old Man.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Drinks with Andy

Managed to remain sober whilst drinking with Andy last night. Is big achievement.

I didn't stay completely teetotal, but I figure a whisky at the end of the evening with Andy doesn't count. He could make Gwyneth Paltrow let her hair down.

Andy's skill lies in his constant dissappointment that your not drinking, together with his earnest entreaties that you should be, followed by worried solicitations after your enjoyment of the evening. As in:

"Are you really not drinking? That's a terrible shame, terrible shame. Oh come on - surely one drink would do you good, settle your stomach. Are you having a good time? It's just I'm having a marvellous time, but I'm drunk, and I'm worried that you're not..."

Evening went very well. In that we didn't, as per usual, end up staggering round the gutters of Covent Garden, singing vaguely and stifling giggles.

Andy did get strangely reflective towards the evening. "You really should get a bloke. It would be funny. I mean, it would be nice for you. I really like my boyfriend (though I'm sure he'd hate you)... I mean, you know... it's nice having someone. Can't your friends find you someone nice to settle down with? Aw. That'd be lovely."

It was at this point I bought myself a whisky.


Decided on a whim to hunt down Andrew, the opera casting agent I met in Glasgow.

The details I had to hand were sketchy - his surname (which can be spelt two ways), and the memory that he lives in a flat near Chelsea.

A little bit of work with online directory enquiries revealed a small pile of SW Postcoded Andrews that might fit the description, but a rifle through Streetmap placed them all in places like Norwood and Woolwich.

I then checked company directors, and discovered one with a WC1 postcode - which may be possible. But he's a civil engineer.

One option is to ring up an Opera Company and ask if they've heard of him, but I can't think of a way to do it without sounding mad, or like I'm desperate to be in an opera.

Note to self: Next time, easier just to take their phone number.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


I should have guessed this film would be rotten when the back cover blurb just tails off with "Sort of..."

It's directed by Gregg Araki, who made The Living End, one of those seminal Love-In-The-Time-Of-AIDS dramas... and this is a very odd film about lust, drugs, clubbing, and alien lizards. Sort of.

It's a truly bizarre film - it looks great, as though it was filmed in Ikea by Peter Greenaway. A boy called Dark argues with his girlfriend, her girlfriend, and their drugged friends. There's partying, bulimia, pills, and a lot of talk about a coming apocalypse.

But the action is mostly filmed as though it just happened near the camera, and the performances are stylised to the point of unwatchability. Araki's script doesn't help - it's rather as though someone had asked cult kids' authors Pip & Jane Baker to write a drugs movie.

It was so bad, by halfway through, I was even fastforwarding through the sex scenes.

The ending is unbelievable, however. Dark is reunited with his new friend Michelangelo, who had been kidnapped by aliens. The two fall into bed, where Michelangelo makes a startling announcement: "All I thought as I was being put into the space pod, is how much I loved you."

The two realise that they will be happy together forever, and fall asleep in each other's arms. Until Michelangelo turns into a giant cockroach and runs away.

The End. Sort of.


There is a Gay Director of Enquiries service. And it's a marvellous thing.

Clayton and I were in Cardiff, and desperate to make at least a token visit to the gay scene. Having no idea where we were, we used 118-GAY.

"Hello! You're through to 118-GAY. For a phone number press 1. For something Gay, press 2."

Charming, giggly lady pointed us in the direction of a pub, and a club with two names. It's called Club Addiction. And also Club Excess. This just seems greedy.


Having seen so many terrible films lately, I was charmed by CAMP.

It's about kids at a US summer camp dedicated to musical theatre, and is a wonderfully acidic alternative comedy. In the twisted world of theatrical kids, straight boy Vlad is seen as a weird, freakish outsider, what with his baseball, his skateboard and his guitar.

The film centers on just how out of place this normal, well-adjusted boy is - and how much more relaxingly outrageous everyone else is. It's full of drag queens, tap dancing, sinister pre-pubescent lesbian stalkers, and long paeans to Stephen Sondheim.

There should be more films mocking well-adjusted straight men.

Popular Music

We have a fab new researcher with us, called Anna. She stands no nonsense, and has already definitively dismissed Dido as "secretary music".

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Look carefully

The BBC appear to be running an "Enter Teens" competition.

Form a queue, ladies.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Catwoman: Guilty pleasure of the week

You know this film is bad, but you can't resist it because:

The only product placement is Dasani, the water of death.

Halibo replaces acting with twitching. When she's a shy geek, she twitches. When she's Catwoman, she twitches more. Maybe she has allergies.

It co-stars Benjamin Bratt, a byword for B Movie. He's walking cellulite. Remember Miss Congeniality? uh-huh.

The director's refers to himself merely as "Pitof". It's the noise you make when spitting out a watermelon seed.

Every superhero must have an Obi Wan. Halibo gets an old lady who lives with a lot of cats. Her name is "Ophelia Passion" (say it out loud). She gets to deliver the line: "I was an academic, but I was denied tenure by male academics. Tish."

Pitof is on wheels. The camera moves like the film is shot in 3D. Only it isn't. It just makes you feel a little queasy.

The dialogue is beyond joyous. It includes unsayable moments of gravitas such as: "It was me you flushed down the pipes."

Halibo purrs. It's not pleasant.

It's almost good. The whole idea of having Catwoman work for the villain without realising would be clever in a Usual Suspects way. Only they don't play it like that. In fact, they barely play it at all.

The soundtrack thinks it's scoring a much better film. Rather than observing a tastefully funereal silence, it roars merrily away like Brian Blessed with a bassoon. Bless.

In deference to my non-boozing, Ben and I promised not to break open the vodka until we really, really needed it. We lasted thirty seconds into the title sequence. That's when they started photoshopping Catwoman masks onto historical paintings.

Police procedure is a giggle - they have giant LCD screens for comparing lip prints. And Benjamin Bratt is the only Sergeant in town.

Halibo's best friends are a fag hag and a big fag. I don't know what it says about sexuality, but it's a bit disturbing.

The more liberated and empowered Catwoman becomes, the less she eats and the more toned flesh she exposes. The message is...?

Cute moment #1 that somehow survives: When Catwoman burgles a jewellers, in a fit of remorse she returns the loot. And bakes cupcakes.

Cute moment #2 that somehow survives. There are a lot of cute cats in the film. The audience keeps going "awww." Unfortunately, this happens at moments when we're surprised to find cats Dramatic and Compelling.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Fruits of the Forest

Went to Hampstead Heath yesterday.... blackberrying.

True, the strangers were interesting, and the casual sex intriguing, but the blackberries were delightful. Full, ripe, and sweet. I wonder what makes them so fecund?

Charmingest strangers of all: Rob and Sven. Sven's an investment banker. Rob is the UK's leading importer of sticking plaster. They'd brought along a picnic rug and wine.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Meeting politics

Sometimes it's so hard to be a "yes" man. Why, today, I didn't even know what I was supposed to be saying "yes" to.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Radio 5 Live

On an afternoon show, talking about Cult TV on DVD - along with some lovely people, and a woman from the British Video Association called Lavinia who looked as though she'd rather be shopping for ponies.

Afternoon radio is a strange beast. The people who call in are all a little touched by the Cliche Angel. One man announced "I don't use a computer me. Can't even switch the thing on." He wanted to know when Goodnight Sweetheart would be released on DVD. Sigh.

The format is equally strained - ten minutes of chat, then some travel, then a ten minute sport slot (in this case golf). The woman from the BVA yawned during the golf slot, took her headphones off, and started to say "What's this boring..." before realising her mike was still live.

There's always someone in from a company who makes stuff. They always answer with Advertising. In this case: "So, Claire, what's the best Cult TV show?", "Well, Brian, I'd have to say that our Unversal Playback Catalogue, starting with Airworlf and Magnum this month and..."

What's irritating about the whole thing is the slight espirit d'escalier - the nagging knowledge that you've just said something mundane when you could have been snappy and witty. Damn.

Anyway, an hour of fun. And then Lavinia went off to do some shopping in Chelsa.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

This week's meeting

"Citizen value... wider societal value... mindful of market impact... gorvernment greenlit... driving market... impacting competition... filling in all of the variables... service-level granularity... unpick quality from output... decomissioning environment... strategice obligations... lessen potential... touched by process... virtuous circle of interactivity... no prima facie case for social utility... fucking nightmare."

Off the wagon

I haven't been drinking for a week. It's been marvellous. My liver has thanked me for some time off after Glasgow.

However, last night, I went out for a drink with Lee. In a gay bar. I explained that, no thank you, no vodka for me. I was proud of my resolution.

So, how come, an hour later, I was sat with four other charming gentlemen, a packet of Marlboro, and two double vodkas lined up in front of me? I believe we were singing along to the bloody awful music ("Dear R&B, What were you doing in a gay bar? Love, the Gays).

I have no excuses. I am a weak human being.

Maybe it had something to do with the fact that what was once my fave gay bar (the nearly bankrupt Site), suddenly turned into the appalling Stonewalls, and has now regenerated again... back into Beef Encounter, the sleazy pick-up joint it once used to be.

Except that there was neither sleaze, nor picking up - the place was still empty. They'd even opened up the bar downstairs, packed it full of disco lights and a pretty barman... and that was even emptier.

Worse, they'd trained a TV on it, so people upstairs could see how empty downstairs was. Naturally, we respected this. In no way did we bolt downstairs and do quick snatches of Cumberland dancing on the empty dancefloor for the people upstairs. No. In no way did that happen. Oh god. No.

I left when I realised that
a) I couldn't feel my legs.
b) I was flirting with someone's boyfriend.

Saints protect us from spirits and slightly available men.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Fucker Soup

The new name for VIP areas at festivals.

Thanks to my friend Rick, I discovered the delights of the VIP area at Fruitstock. It was full of braying maggots crawling across the freebie food, freebie booze, and freebie chairs, roaring mindless bleats as they ungratefully stuffed themselves, threw friends into the paddling pools and encouraged their dogs to piss on the picnic blankets. It was like an outdoor AllBarOne.

Sadly, I have to confess that the free food was lovely. As were the free Smoothies. And the toilets had carpet and organic soap.

Rick got his VIP passes as he'd just written nice things about Innocent in the Guardian. Which was nice of them.

However, everyone else sadly fulfilled the truism that the people you have to schmooze are the last people you'd want to.


There is no excuse for this pictureor "How Hollywood punished Bill Murray for being nasty to Charlie's Angels".

A film so bad, so misplacedly heart-warming, that it's not even so bad it's good.

The only child in the audience gave up laughing feebly and spent most of the movie running up and down the cinema pretending to be a plane. Normally, I hate badly-behaved children at the cinema - but this time it was nice to have something less annoying than the film.

For a few seconds, you think this may be some good. Then you realise....

  • That Breckin Meyer really is as stupid as a personal trainer (see his "I. Am. Thinking. With. My. Eyebrows." expression).
  • That they've missed the bitchy fun of the original Garfield entirely.
  • That all the vermin are voiced as Black Homeboys. Ouch.
  • That, in a terrorist-paranoid America, they take the unusual step of showing Garfield co-ordinating several head-on train collisions.
  • That Bill Murray didn't even phone it in - he used a yoghurt pot and some string.
And then, when it can't get any worse....

... Garfield sings. A song. About friendship.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

This morning's meeting

"granulated... clarity to market... firm footing... strategic priorities... going forward collaboratively... opaque to industry... ping up any questions... cultural takeaway... modularising... solid vision... audience lens... purely contextualising... feed in to a biweekly core group..."