Thursday, July 29, 2004

It's confused up North

So, his name was Simon and he was an estate agent. I know it doesn't sound promising, but we were in bed within half an hour of meeting, so *shrugs*.

Charming, naive lad from Yorkshire, who was moving to Fife and getting a new job as an estate agent. And a new sexuality.

You see, he was wrestling with whether or not he was gay, straight, or bisexual. But wonderfully, he was determined to experiment with his gay side. A lot.

Eventually, we left the hotel room, and went out to introduce him to gay clubbing. At which point I realised that this charming, innocent man was, at heart, still a straight lad. He drank straight (ie, immediately into an excited stupor), and, oh my goodness, he danced straight. I forgot that straight men dance like mouse traps have been sprung on their fingers.

The advantage of this was that, for once, I could dance my patented Disco Flail (TM) without notice, as a crowd was forming around Break Beat Boy. The gays were curious ("It looks pretty... but... it can't be one of ours...") and the fag hags were ravenous ("Surely, surely one we can have at last!").

By this point, Simon was, it has to be said, looking rather fine and getting a lot of attention. I'd tried to explain to him that a bit of ambivalence is a massive turn on in the gay scene - after all, all gays like to think they've bagged a straight boy, and all women in a gay bar really want to take a pretty boy home. Pause. That Crude Generalisation was sponsored by the Send-The-Funny-Speaking-People-Home Party.

The thing is, Simon was not just drunk - he was making himself available. He'd whirl, by, grab me, drink a bit, and then vanish into the dance floor, dirty dance with a giggling lady, snog her for a bit, and then run laughing back to get off with me. All rather funny. Until one of the girls burst into tears.

I took Simon home after this. At which point his Emergency Self-Questioning kicked in, and, instead of being up all night having marvellous sex, we spent three hours rowing drunkenly as he kept shouting "But why man? Why am I snogging girls? What about the men? Do you fancy me? Do you really?" and I kept on muttering "Look, it's fine - be what you want to be, be happy, try not to hurt people, and for pity's sake, go to sleep and give us back some duvet."


... or what happens when you leave a boy band alone with the power tools.

When people are making complicated, expensive CGI models, they often first throw up a cheap, low-resolution wireframe. It's crude, lacking in detail, but shows roughly what it'll do.

Thunderbirds is an expensively-rendered movie with a wire-frame script. The acting is crude and blocky, the plot fuzzy in outline, and the pace is clunky. And the dialogue is just a pile of jagged lines.

Which is a real shame - as everything else about it rocks. Frakes has done a great job of assembling a loud, funny kid pleaser. But the instruction manual he was using was still in the original Swedish.

So we're perhaps best off ignoring stuttering Anthony Edwards, Ben Kingsley's brave attempt to act through obviously terminal haemarrhoids, and the Tracy Family Boy Band - they're never really introduced, and the only really interesting one is the Tracy who sits in his space station, obviously pleasuring himself constantly to pictures of world disaster and europorn.

The story centres on the "journey" of young Alan Tracy (who is, irritatingly, one of those people who will Grow Up Rather Pretty). He battles to prove his worth as a Thunderbird, with the help of his stuttering ugly friend Fermat and the obviously cute Tintin. I think the moral is that hot-headed courage is always rewarded. Or that cute blonde teenagers get away with murder. Still not sure.

Alan is shown as Perfect because he accepts Fermat and doesn't mock his stutter, and when he does, he is shown as courageous, big-hearted and noble for apologising. What no-one mentions is that Alan has a squint big enough to fit shelves in.

The absolute saviour of film is Sophia Myles as Lady Penelope. She's mostly right. And when she's not, it's easy to blame the wireframe script which hands her vast portions of raw exposition which she's supposed to carry off by Being Fabulous. It almost works - but the character is on top form when she's served by strong lines ("Put me down! This outfit is couture!" and "It's all right Parker, I didn't need it." - a line, curiously, about a wire frame). The fact that I can still remember the two best lines in the film leads me to suspect that there were only two good lines in the film. Hmmn.

The opening titles are wonderful, by the way. And I'm convinced that Thunderbirds is a great concept for a porn film.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Weird Tourist Experience #2

Mary King's Close is an entire street buried underground but still preserved. They run tours to it, and somehow manage to string an entire hour out of it.

Here's how they do it...

"Fair afternoon to thee, gentlefolk! I am Stephen Booth, a merchant of these parts. Mary King's Close that is, and I'd be delighted to take yon folk on a tour back in time to ma hoose... Now, mind yon steppes, and prithee doth speke oop if thou sufferest from ailments such as the ashtma, the epilepsy or a strong reactions to strobe lighthing."

And so, an hour of trudging around in the gloom, through fascinating chambers accompanied by badly dressed yokels. And our tour guide.

At one point they switched the lights off and played us a ghost story. That's right - not read, played. A tape recording. Of some nonsense.

Then, right at the end, they show you the amazing preserved street. You marvel at it. And they whisk you off it and back up the stairs before you have a real chance to march up or down it.

Liver Die

After a solid week in Scotland, my liver texted me this morning to say it's leaving.

Last night was wonderfully messy. I found a new bar called Habana and wandered in, ordering a vodka and diet coke.

"How much?"

The price was repeated.

"No. Really. How much?"

The price was repeated again.

"Are you sure?"

To which the reply was; "Yes. It is just a pound. You from London?"

And those are the last coherent words I can remember from last night. There were two other clubs, a bar, a fish bar, somehow I brought a packet of cigarettes. There was half-hearted oh-god-so-pissed dancing, followed by some maybe-if-i-smoke-some-more-and-stand-still-i'll-feel-better slouching in a corner, followed by the Return To Base instinct. Although, even auto-pilot stumbling home I managed to find time to eye up a stranger in the street.

Oh yeah, and the irritated memory that CC Blooms charged a whole £1.50 for a vodka and coke. The expensive rip-off merchants.

I've stopped getting hangovers. I've just got this weird cold that's getting worse. And a racking cough. Together with an urge to eat all the fresh vegetables in the world.

Plus, in all the time I've been here, I've only had one decent cup of coffee. In a chinese restaurant. This morning's was particularly vile. Clearly, if you can't mix a drink with vodka, they're not interested.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Edinburgh Castle

Is rather fine. It comes complete with a hilariously over-the-top-but-kinda-cool Audio Guide that's a bit like a smug MP3 player.

Being talked around the various rooms would be fine - only someone somewhere owned a record of Bagpipes and Military Noises, and insisted on dubbing it onto the guide wherever possible.

What made it doubly maddening was that many rooms also had their own ambient Bagpipes and Military Noises in them already.

The only thing I really took in is how badly behaved French Toddlers are. They have a loathsome, wailing insousiance which tells you that they want to grow up to become delightfully quirky heroes of French Cinema.

Emission Impossible

Shattered after Fahrenheit 911, I took in a last quick drink in a bar called Mood. Typical for Scotland, doubles were cheaper than singles (£2 rather than £3, oh my giddy head), and, it was almost empty.

Three lasses patrolled the dancefloor, whooping, and there was a table of Nicely Dressed Young Men. Weirdly, they invited me over. This would never happen in London. They were all charming and entertaining, but soon I was left alone at the table with a man called James Bond.

As I've said before, getting off with someone of the same name is a treat. And in this case - how could I refuse?

Of course, he looked nothing like Piers Brosnan. Just your typical charming 21 year old with nice hair and a winning smile and an ex boyfriend. Oh, did I forget to mention the ex boyfriend? Well, oddly he didn't. At every available opportunity.

Things were going very well between us. He was buying me drinks and I was smoking his Lambert and Butler without gagging. Then, all of a sudden, his ex wanders over and makes polite conversation, and the evening goes downhill faster than you can say "Behold my tank of piranhas, Mister Bond."

It appears that James and Steven were having some trouble remaining friends. It all seemed very complicated and a little boring. Something to do with Steven's new boyfriend Alan, a girl called Cheryl, and James's other friend Steven's mate Liam. At some point during the discussion James bolted to the bathroom, with his ex in tear-stricken pursuit.

We all think we're the hero of our own lives, but quite often we appear to have the odd celebrity cameo in someone else's. In this case, I definitely felt like Whoopi Goldberg dropping into the studio while her dry cleaning was being done.

Eventually, James emerged. I did what Whoopi would have done, and did my understanding martyr expression (perfected from over two years of losing in conversation with Lee). He was having none of it. "It's all sorted and settled mate, honest. You're taking me home now."

And I did. Beyond a brief stopover on a traffic bollard that it's perhaps best not to discuss.

We get back to the flat. We get naked. And then he suddenly looks up. "I've got to text my flatmate, so that he can deadbolt the door."

He switches on his phone, starts to text. And then goes suddenly quiet. He'd got a text from Liam saying that Steven's Alan had been seen by other Steven getting off with Cheryl in Moods. When it was a fact according to Colin and Trish that Alan was in CC's that night. So he couldn't have. And anyway, it was all messy and complex, but it meant that Liam needed sorting now, before Liam went and confronted Steven, cos if Steven knew what Steven had been saying...

Oh, look anyway, the point is he pulled on his clothes and ran out into the night. Which proves neatly what I'd forgotten from years ago - never dally with widows.

The view from here is very fine

The best thing about Ediburgh is the view above it. Whereas Glasgow's joys are all around you, Edinburgh only really lays out its splendours when you're a good few feet above the tallest church spire - whether that's from the Castle, Arthur's Seat, or Calton Hill.

And, from all of these, the view is jaw dropping. Calton Hill is especially astounding at sunset, as the light takes ages to fall away beyond all the neat streets and spires and into the water. Robert Louis Stevenson remarked that it was the best vantage point "since you can see the castle, which you lose from the castle, and Arthur's Seat, which you cannot see from Arthur's Seat."

It's a wonderful hill - a plateau of Romanesque ruins, turrets and scrubland that has a haunting silent beauty. And also a throng of nice young men cruising for sex.

The only way is up

Since my bout of viral meningitis earliuer this year, I'm almost fully recovered - I look a lot older, and I've now got grey hair.... but the main thing I appear to have lost is the ability to climb stairs or walk up hills. Maybe coming to Edinburgh wasn't such a smart idea. It's like being trapped on a Stairmaster.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Edinburgh Hotel

Yes, the apartment over a sauna is lovely. Really, really tasteful and expensive in a very chic gay way. Mind you, there are an awful lot of towels.

And the bedside table has a yellow pages and retro 70s porn. It appears to feature Tom Selleck doing dirty things to Tom Selleck. I've obviously missed a really interesting evil twin episode of Magnum.

A night at the opera

I've been stalked. A man followed me around Glasgow, and into a gay bar. Being me, I brought him a drink. After I'd made sure he was pretty.

Turns out his name's Andrew, and he's had a pretty bad month. He has a great job (casting opera singers) and was in Glasgow to cast something obscure in Italian. And to catch up with his gay dad.

"He's only just come out... and it's really awkward. He's sixty, he's a fine figure of a man... and he's very charismatic. I think the real problem is... he's better at being gay than I am.

"I was chatting away to a friend tonight - someone I've fancied for years. And I was telling him all about my dad, describing how he looks and suddenly my friend's eyes go wide and I realise he's slept with him.

"It gets worse. I came in here a couple of weeks ago, and it was karaoke night. Suddenly my dad turned up, blacked up as Aretha Franklin and stole the show.

"When he came up to London last, he entered an amateur strip night. It was bad enough seeing his gaydar profile - but when you're dad's swinging his bits around in front of a cheering crowd... And he went home with the winner.

"It's such a change. He was a Brigadier in the Army. Strict military upbringing. Now he's moving onto a houseboat in Amsterdam with Holland's top female impersonator. His boyfriend is younger than I am. It's all wrong. Mum's fine about it - but there I was at the Royal Albert Hall with Edward and Sophie, and Edward says 'And how is your dear father, the Brigadier?'"

We talked about other things - about casting, about politics and about his efforts to help a friend of his get cast more in opera. "I've put her on diets, I've introduced her to my personal trainer. But it doesn't work - she tells me she's convinced her voice comes from her figure. It's not true. She just likes cakes."

He was taking a rest for it all - off to help his mother for a few days by working on one of her North Sea fishing boats.

But we found time for a walk through pissed Glasgow on a Saturday night. And no, it wasn't over until I made his fat lady sing.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

The hunting of the Shunk

The Scottish for Chav is apparently Shunk - and the Scottish make the roughest rough-u-like in the world. Aggressive, scowling, closely shorn - covered in bling, nasty tattoos, and hands occupied with an expensive mobile phone and a cheap cigarette.

Mark has a peculiar taste in them. After a wonderful lunch of Scottish cuisine on Sunday (Cafe Gandolfini), Mark gave me the choice between tasting whisky or Shunk hunting.

So we went for the shunks. First stop was the Barras Market - a sprawl of cheap food, cheap clothes, combat gear, and TimLand football memorabilia. Everywhere were fly posters alerting people to the dangers of methanol poisoning in fake vodka. And the shunks - spread out, selling fake DVDs in the driving rain, or huddled up at a fat food stall, poking at some chips and playing pocket billiards.

After that we ran through the rain to TK Maxx, where few of the other shoppers had ever eaten a vegetable. Mark and I patrolled the aisles, as Mark spotted one fine shop assistant after another.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Saturday morning TV: The Facts

(so hungover and mean this morning I felt I had no choice)

  • Amazingly, there's a programme called Ministry of Madness.
  • It features a sketch show about a camp holiday camp calle Butthaven.
  • There was a magical act where the Not-Charlies In Busted nearly got crushed in wardrobes by a JCB.
  • Busted managed to be on both BBC 1 and ITV. At almost the same time.
  • Actually, Saturday Morning TV appears to be mostly about Busted.
  • Charlie from Busted (the Princess Di of pop) no longer talks. He just peeps from beneath his fringe, says "Yeah. Yuh-huh. Yah," a lot, and shrugs.
  • Busted really are singing the Thunderbirds song. This is wrong.
  • The presenter of The Saturday Show was in Glasgow's The Polo Lounge. He looked better in the flesh. Well, less like he'd rather be asleep.

Crap night out

My second night in Glasgow was shocking. I was happiest reading, crosslegged on an old trunk in the corner of a bar. The people were beautiful from a distance.

Sometimes, going out clubbing is a wonderful Brownian motion of giggles, booze and Kylie. And sometimes you're always being trodden on, elbowed, and beaten to the bar. Sometimes I meet wonderful best friends for an evening, feel sexy, and float above it all. And sometimes you feel left out, hate everyone, and feel oddly, nastily drunk.

Last night was, sadly, the latter kind. I should have stayed curled up on the trunk - instead I tried to join in the fray. Mistake.

PS: Got back to the hotel. Slept a bit. Then the wedding party in the room upstairs started to groove at 3am. I could hear their nasty music, their loud giggling - and the frantic banging from people next door begging them to stop. I could hear people pleading desperately for some sleep. I phoned reception, grabbed some earplugs and opened a bottle of whisky.

List of things about Glasgow (good and bad)

  • In places, it's so beautiful it's almost beyond belief. Like Portmerion's older brother.
  • When it rains, it really rains. Special rain, for hardy folk.
  • The people here drink like they're in training. I've seen women pulling each other's hair and laughing as they roll around in the street. The men drink so much they really do sing loud songs - last night, a bar full of drunk, drunk old men were slurring along to the pub megamix.
  • Things here cost Polish prices - signs outside pubs cry out with "1.30 G&T" and "vodka & splash £1" (see above).  A decent cup of coffee is merely a pound.
  • Nearly every restaurant is Indian. If it isn't Chinese. The food is good - but is ghee'd up to guarantee indigestion.
  • Lots of shops advertise "larger sizes a specialty" (see above)
  • The sheer exuberance of the people is astonishing. Men run onto the dance floor like they're charging into battle. Dancing is a weird, flailing attack on personal space and rhythm.
  • Even in the pouring rain, there are still queues at ice cream vans.
  • The Glaswegians talk to each other in a barely understandable idialect. Imagine a Clanger mating with a modem - only slowed down, like one of David Attenborough's hummingbirds.


Friday, July 23, 2004

Glasgow Gay Bar (2)

Glaswegians are very nice. Even the bus drivers. They drive like demons, but have the hearts of angels - a driver let me on for nothing, with a smile and the shrug, "Well, there's hardly anyone on, and I'm going in your direction."

So, I really shouldn't have been surprised about what happened when I asked someone for directions to The Polo Lounge. "Er. Sure. Hold on, I'll take you there."

The only surprising fact here is that he was Welsh.

The Polo Lounge is a truly marvellous gay bar - nicer even than The Abbey in LA. It looks like a set from Dangerous Liasons, only fitted with a bar, and only slightly snippy bar staff. The bar lesbians are still  menacing but in a jovial "ough! we're just playing with ya" way.

Anyway, the Polo Lounge was astonishingly nice, as was Jamie (mental note: always ask pretty men for directions). And Mark, when he eventually turned up. He was very drunk, and had come up to lecture independent television production companies. He smiled "I've just been interviewed by the Glasgow Herald. They wanted to know my opinions on the future of television."

What did you tell them?

"Hen, I have no idea. I'm drunk - Let's go for a walk so that I can show you the nice buildings and tell you which ones I've shagged in."

Glasgow is pretty. I'd never known this. It's like Melbourne (but colder). It's like Bristol (but less windy). It's like Boston (but less grumpy). It's got so many nice Victorian buildings they've started converting them into multi-story carparks (I'm not sure I like this - but a row of cars parked in an old ballroom makes for an arresting image).

Glasgow is also, according to Mark, a town of pure filth. He pointed to a fantastic wrought iron public toilet - "I was once offered money for sex there. Twenty pounds."

Did you take it?

"No. No, of course not. Well, that said, later that afternoon, I decided I wanted a new pair of trainers."

The evening ended up in a small, friendly club. It wasn't very good, but it was at least amiable - probably due to the vast amount of drugs. Vodka was cheaper than water, and every gay man had come with at least three women of the "revealing dress stolen off my thinner sister" kind.

One woman sidled up to me. "Ya here on yas own?" [nb - I apologise for this. I can't help trying to, uh, transliterate the way Glaswegians speak. For one thing, they sound nothing like Hannah Gordon, and more like Gordon the Gopher].

I told her I was. She jerked a thumb over her shoulder, indicating her gay friend. He was young, spotty, greasy, and wearing a tea cosy. "D'ya fancy him?"

Not really my type, I'm afraid.

"Yeah, but would ya giv him a jump? He's desperate."

I walked up to a man with a remarkable tattoo on his forearm. His eyes were so dilated you could have driven Eurostar through them. "What's the tattoo?" I asked.



"It's my name."

"Right. Why?"

"Sometimes comes in handy." A big, empty grin. "Ya know. Mornings."

Glasgow Gay Bar

I walked in and there was a hush. If they had banjos, they would have plucked them. Instead, they turned up the Annie Lennox.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit...

I've joined a club. One of those nice, expensive, centre of town places. Lee's convinced I'm doing it so I can brag about it. There may be something in that.

On the other hand, it is somewhere lovely in SoHo where you can always get a seat and the MaiTais are great. Plus you're guaranteed to stand on a celeb.

I could be really boring here and wax lyrical about how joining a club is about the urge to better yourself, to overcome social inadequacy with a bit of cash and cocktails. Or I could just point out it's got a nice roof garden.

Anyway, having joined it, I'm a bit sheepish about it all. I'm not one of those suave people who smugs "Meet me at my club. Your name will be on the door." I just can't get away with it. It's behaviour for people who iron their shirts.

Took bicycle boy there for our date. Only after The Yard turned out to be crowded. Bicylce boy is called Matt and trains nurses in how to use Microsoft Word. He's got an endearing air of naivety about him - one he's reacquired, he assures me. He's already bored of London and has moved to the country. And it just seemed wrong dragging him into a posh club in a whole "Sleep with me, I'm swanky" way. Give me a few months to get used to it then I'll be dragging them off the dancefloor with a stick.

Anyway, I needn't have worried. Matt looked around the spacious bar, discretely filled with media types flicking back their hair. He settled himself down in a big leather chair. "Is this the BBC bar?" he asked.

I barely even hesitated. "Yes. Yes, I suppose it is."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Made for two

I got a boy's phone number on the way into work. What makes this doubly impressive was that I was on my bike at the time.

Friday, July 16, 2004

When Dr Who goes wrong

The problem with Doctor Who is that, no matter how good it is, there's always something that spoils a perfect story.

Sometimes it's a teeny thing - for instance, in the gripping The Loch Ness Monster the only problem is sadly, the Loch Ness Monster. Sometimes it's a large thing - like letting Richard Martin direct.
For the Not-We, it's hard to explain Richard Martin. However - if you think that Dr Who is always rubbish, believe me when I assure you that Richard Martin produces a special sort of rubbish. He's the Ed Wood of Dr Who - always trying to depict an apocalyptic action adventure when he has trouble just keeping the heads of his cast in shot. People get shot and forget to die, he has trouble keeping a dalek in focus, and came up with the genius of depicting an alien planet by smearing vaseline over the lens - resulting in six weeks of squint-induced migraines.
Anyway, the reason I'm going off on a fanboy rant is that sometimes Dr Who gets spoiled by the tiniest of things. The Silurians is a gripping thriller about an alien civilisation - it's full of great characters, strong sets, intelligent plotting, low-key effects, good camerawork, and nice monster suits.
And what ruins it?
Why, one simply thing.
Someone at some point told the people playing the monsters: "It would look really great if you twitched like palsied pensioners."


Forgive me for talking about this group again,  but, frankly it's been a quiet week. No one's tried to piss over me for days.
I'm really liking the second album. On first listen it wasn't what I expected, and was frankly disappointing (only three songs are laugh out loud silly).  Then I got it.
The first album was a happy album about drinking, shagging and staying in really nice hotels. The second album appears to be about falling in love, drugs, heartbreak, bitterness, meaningless rebound sex, the desperation of loneliness, and really nice hotels. In short, it has a plot.
It really has a plot. Some tracks even include plot summaries ("Previously on Alcazar..." and "In this week's episode..."). Not wishing to read meaning into something as shallow as a birdbath but it appears to be about how sexy gay Andreas met snippy gay Magnus, invited him into the band, at which point they broke up, went on tour together, and went A Little Bit Mad.
Anyway, look it includes the lyric:
"You broke my heart,
And I go shopping."

Thursday, July 15, 2004


Just booked my holiday in Edinburgh. How good does this sound?

"Well, I can offer you either a small single room with washbasin for £25 a night - or your own apartment in the heart of the gay village for £40 a night."

Guess which one I chose?

"Right - when you check in, look for the rainbow sign. One thing - We share our check in with a gay sauna."

This will be the best holiday ever.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


What an odd film. For a start, you know how Dennis Potter used to cast adults as kids in his plays? He was being Clever. Fassbinder does the same in this - he casts People Of Middle Age as Sexy Young Things. It's most odd.

There's a woman who looks like Cilla playing The Most Beautiful Whore in Town. Ronnie Barker plays her husband. The Sexy Policeman appears to be played by Mr Steptoe's dad, and the sexy sailor Querelle is played by Brad Davis - who, from certain angles is a fine young thing. And from others is David Boreanaz.

It all looks beautiful, and is set in a timeless world of pereptual sunset. There's no electricity, but there are space invader machines. It's magical, cynical, and pretentious.

Quite what the message is is unclear. It's made in 1982, but seems far older - and, although I'd love to be wrong, appears to belong to the All Gays Are Tragic school. Whilst also owning a lot of shares in Tom of Finland.

It just ends. Which art house films often do. I was doing my ironing by this point, so didn't really notice.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Quiet cowgirls

Went to the Black Cap on Saturday. Surprised to find it had been hired for a deaf lesbian's cowgirl birthday party.

The place was packed. But oddly quiet.

The Hoist

mfft. there aren't words to describe it. well, all right: here's some:

Boil wash. Sticky boots. Bleach for the soul.


That was an experience. Well, okay. Waking up wearing half an army uniform this morning was an experience. Things are a bit blurred.

I've always wanted to go to The Hoist. Call it morbid curiousity - but a uniform club sounds fun. I figured, naively, that it would involve people wearing silly clothes and dancing. Apparently, up until a few years ago, it did. Now it's just people wearing silly clothes and... and...

Well. It's a great venue - it's a series of railway arches in Vauxhall, done out with girders and guttering candles, and Harley Davidsons and (for an archway) a surprising number of dark corners.

It also has the nicest bar staff in town - they're friendly, warm, and ring a bell whenever they're given a tip. Which I find thrilling.

All of which is a neat distraction from the fact that this charming, welcoming venue is basically a place where the weirdly dressed come to have open sex. Oh, how naive was I?

Hanging over the bar was a screen showing films where men looked for their keys in unusual places. Which set the tone nicely.

I was about the only person wearing combats and a t-shirt (my ridiculous army jacket I coat-checked - it smells of someone else's BO). Everyone else was wearing... well... bits of rubber. revealing bits of rubber. or other things.

There was one man dressed like a surveyor (hard hat and reflective jacket). Four men with pvc waistcoats were all over him. A fat man in leather trousers and a snake tattoo was buried in a young man with a goatee. Three men with chaps were stood spanking each other in a corner.

There was really a gimp. Honestly - led around on a chain by an amiable looking old man who made small talk with regulars ("football was terrible, wasn't it?") while his gimp followed behind, sipping a pint of cider quietly.

Sudden thought. Oh dear god. I hope it was cider.

I should mention the loos. When I first got there, they were smelly, but fairly normal. Half an hour later, they were a different world. You couldn't move for men watching other men piss over each other. New fact: When you hold open someone's rubber tshirt, piss in it and let it go, it makes a slapping squelching noise.

At some point a very pretty man with a dazed expression pulled down his rubber shorts and wordlessly offered me his erect penis. I stared at him. He looked down, seemed momentarily suprised, and then became enraptured. I left him, staring with childlike joy at his cock. Someone tugged at the back of his rubber shorts. Slap! Squelch!

Oddly, I discovered I was not catnip for fetish fans. Maybe my sullen expression of disbelief kept the greedy hands away. But there was actually a lot to enjoy. Some of the men were startlingly handsome - and some were just startling.

And then there was a man called Keith. Wearing chaps. And weirdly pretty. Well, pretty for a man in rubber trousers. Having an awful lot of muscles appears to help. He'd just come from another fetish night "God, it was filthy," he said. "Not fun filthy, mind. Just filthy. The toilets were disgusting - no seats or bog roll. And men were squatting down by the urinals with their gobs open. I ask you. Floors hadn't been cleaned, either."

We sat down on steel beer kegs and watched the chaos around us. The gimp was grovelling on the floor, cleaning boots with his tongue. Someone else was doing something with chains.

"Do you mind if we go?" asked Keith. "It's just these steel beer kegs are rather cold, and these trousers are open at the back. My cheeks are freezing."

Fair enough.

Friday, July 09, 2004

24 Dreams

I'm adoring the third series of 24 on DVD. You can fast forward through the boring bits, the torture scenes, and the stuff with Mexicans.

I had a blissful evening curled up in bed watching it while drinking gin and irn bru (surprisingly nice). And I thought it was great - although you can tell the difference between Hardened Regulars and Guest Cast.

Hardened Regulars are now getting very cautious in their acting, playing their cards close to their chest as they know that any moment now it will be revealed that Their Entire Motivations Have Changed And They Were Evil/Good All Along. Gasp.

Guest Cast don't know that Everything Could Change At Any Moment, and so wear a look of alarmed surprise when it is revealed that All Is Not What It Seemed. The President's girlfriend, for instance spent the last episode wide eyed, and shaking her head in cautious quiet disbelief.

There are two exceptions....
1) Kim - she knows that things are going to go wrong and has taken to wearing a mop on her hair. Bet she's so hated the IT guys keep sticking pictures of cougars on her desktop.

2) Nina - who just looks pissy. Every year they give her more eyeshadow.

Watched so much last night and got so drunk that eventually I started watching it through flickering eyes, and finally drifted off into a 24 dream, where, in order to stop the virus being released, Jack had to race around LA organising a party with Nina.

The two of them were constantly fighting over which brand of sausage rolls to buy ("These are kosher!", "You killed my wife!"), while the President is trying to make jelly ("My mind is set"). Sensibly, no one let Kim do anything to help organise the party.

Briefly my eyes opened, to see Jack's young companion, still tied up and spitting teeth after being Tortured With A Spade. My last thought before I went to sleep was "Why isn't he wearing a party hat?"

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Restaurant at the End of the Universe

For no good reason, someone's opened a very classy, exclusive DimSum restaurant in my street. On a council estate. In Euston.

It's the foodie equivalent of The Man Who Fell To Earth - plonked between a Massage Parlour and the Filipino drop-in centre and needle exchange is this alien palace of chic design - it's outside is all frosted glass and tinted windows. No menu, no sign, no door handles.

Inside is a triumph of elegant design, with a great menu, amazingly attentive waitresses and an ambience of restrained luxury only heightened by the specially mixed music.

It is, of course, empty.

During our amazing meal, a man staggered in, holding a pack of beer and plastering tools. He blinked at the dazzling gloom. A waitress materialised next to him. "Do you have a take away menu, love?"

She giggled regretfully. "Alas, we do not have a menu. So sorry."

At the end of the meal, one of the waitresses, leant over me, her placid elegance suddenly abandoned. "How did you find this place?" she whispered to me.

"I live on the estate."

"Oh. It's just we've been open for a fortnight, and no-one's come in. The owner's getting worried." She indicated a fat man sitting in the distance behind some drapes, laughing and drinking with his friends.

"Well - you can't see if the place is open, it's dark, and there isn't a menu outside. No one knows what you do, or how much it costs."

"Ah. Yes. We asked the owner about printing a menu, but he's not yet sure it's right for the brand. We have business cards."

It was at that moment I realised the restaurant was doomed.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Mucky Mark

Evenings with my friend Mark always start well, and end messily. Last night, for example, began with fine cuisine and a pretentious 1928 Maury, and ended up in Barcode where someone tried to remove my nipple.

There was a lovely bit in the middle where we went for a nap in a grassy square. A genuine, rather lovely nap - but it was simply the calm before the storm.

Whenever we go to Barcode, it always appears to be a reunion of Mark's exes. You could throw a glance and hit four of them. Last time we were in there he pointed at a man and said "See him? I jerked him off in speedos on a rock in Mykonos."

This time, Mark managed the immortal comment: "See that Dutch guy? I pissed on him in a car park."

These things appear to happen to Mark. He has a messy magnetism around him. This is a man who swears his Pride included sticking his hand down the pants of Will Young.

Barcode was just a blur of exes, including said Dutch piss artist. It appears that, having been urinated over, the Dutchman then drove Mark back to his flat and introduced him to his boyfriend and a big pile of drugs. On subsequent occasions, he met a large number of useful media contacts. And an old man in stockings and suspenders. He stopped popping round after that.

The absolute low point of last night, though, was Mark's ex Ian, who shambled drunkenly over, announced he was off on holiday to buy boys in Sitges, and then tried to amputate my nipple. He just made a sudden grab, clawing into my breast like he was trying to squeeze a spot or open a jam jar.

I screamed in pain. He didn't let go.

So I lost it for a few seconds to the Red Mist. My normal personality just left the Red Mist to get on with tidying up. In this case promising to "fucking shred you if you touch me again you drunken shit".

I like my Red Mist. It's terribly effective, and I only have to use it a couple of times a year. Normally after some near death experience while cycling or photocopying.

By the time I was back in the building, Ian was shuffling away. And I was rubbing the bruised site of the attempted mastectomy.

Mark coughed. "Sorry about Ian. He's like that. We used to beat each other up all the time on K."

This morning I have welts. And a weird question: When he drove Mark home, did the damp Dutchman put his clothes back on, or do it naked?

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


Suddenly wondered whatever became of the insane Stockholm group behind "Crying at the Discotheque" and Alcazar, an album that it was impossible to jog to without giggling.

They're still alive! How lovely. And, since they last made their album, they got a fourth member (Duckface gay Magnus). Magnus and Andreas (Snippyface gay) got together.

Enter The Castle Of Disco (As this Stockholm band call their official site).

It's full of news stories about nothing written in slightly stilted prose, such as...

Is Magnus and Andreas a couple again? The ring on Magnus´ finger has re-started the rumours once again. But they denies it all and says: All that we have together now is our dogs.


Progressions in the album plans! The band has now decided what picture to use on the sleeve

There's a video of a new single "Menage A Trois" which has the chorus:
"Would you like to come to a Menage A Trois?
There's room for one more in our boudoir."

Joy of joys, there is a second album, called Alcazarised. I instantly broke my "no madness" vow. Despite half of the tracks being undoubtedly dreadful.

Extra joy:
Customers who brought this CD also purchased:
Various - Sixties Jukebox Classics
Silver Convention - Very Best Of Silver Convention
Sertab - No Boundaries
Abba - Waterloo
Various - Eurovision Song Contest Istanbul 2004

Monday, July 05, 2004

Cabin crew

One of the weekend's conquests was a very pleasant airline steward called Simon. He explained to me how the pecking order went (Ryanair are the worst and Virgin quite the best). He worked for BMI - apparently the customers aren't quite as horrid as the Ryanair ones. He packed in being a politics degree to join Ryanair a couple of years ago and hasn't looked back.

His outlook on life was as follows: "I'm 21 now, and I can make as many mistakes as I want. I don't want to get a boyfriend and settle down. I just want to explore and travel. After all, by the time you're 30 you've done everything."

Now I feel old.

Second man was a make-up artist called Stuart. He was 39 but didn't look it. So, obviously a good make-up artist.

Office totty

We have a coder sat with us for a week. He is terribly easy on the eye.

It's not quite as bad as when we had beautiful Eduardo the designer in the office -strangely the laser printer next to him kept on running out of paper, which meant he had to keep on bending over to refill it. Sometimes several times a day.

But it's still a cause for concern. I don't think I've managed to look him in the eye, and Daniel keeps on pausing before he says his name.

Thanks to the "Queer Blog" ring thing at the bottom of the page, I can now link through to the purplest prose imaginable on gay office romances.

The Sun's "Bring Back The Daleks" Campaign

A Dalek's been sat outside television centre. Wearing an enormous Sun badge.

Ten minutes ago, a bus stopped by, dropped off a crowd of "Protesting Who fans" who stood, chanting for two minutes, and then they got back on the bus and went away.

Then Natasha Kaplinsky walked past with a glitter ball.

This is all true.