Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A for Andromeda

In which Jane Asher bakes a life form because a spinning alien lampshade told her to.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Singalong-a-Secret Army

Secret Army, for those not paying attention at the back, was a gritty BBC drama about the French Resistance. As if ashamed of its brilliance, the BBC then made ‘Allo ‘Allo.

Like Blake’s 7 without the feather boas and laughs – but with songs. Each week, Natalie the waitress would sit at the piano in the Candide, singing sad songs while all around her airmen were tortured, collaborators dangled from piano wire and kindly monks were mown down with machine guns.

To go back to Blake’s 7 for a minute, imagine if Cally had had a piano on the Liberator. Would the show not have been even more fabulous? Each week she’d hammer out chansons like “Do it again!” , “Waiting at the old wall”, or “I’m just the girl next door.”

Complete Sidebar: Blake’s 7 was going to have lyrics for a while. Producer Vere Lorrimer penned something about lost loves and furthest stars. It never got anywhere, but he was inspired by Gene Roddenberry, who penned words to the Star Trek theme (curiously also about love and furthest stars) when it was initially composed. While the words are rarely perfomed outside the wide, lycra-clad circles of fandom, it meant that Roddenberry was able to claim half the royalties from the theme.

Anyway, back to Secret Army. Last night the King’s Theatre in Islington lovingly recreated the Candide, complete with champagne and authentic paysan dishes such as garlic mushrooms and sausage rolls. We sat, crowded round tiny tables and on ancient chairs, as the lights fell around a piano and a table containing those French bistro specials of a glass of water and a candle jammed into a carafe.

A brief burst of the Secret Army theme on the piano (stifled giggles), then on strode Natalie, still in fine form as she belted her way through songs about putting on a brave face while your love is lined up against a wall.

It was a magical evening - not least for proving that Secret Army fans are just as mad as any other fans – step forward the Scottish man who believed they were still making the show.

Any yet, we left hungering for more. Sarah Jane sings? Mulder mon Amour? What about Commander Data singing show tunes? Oh, actually, they’ve done that one.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Student Nurse (bedside manner)

Caught up with the student nurse. He’s gone back to his boyfriend, and it’s a dreadfully complicated story (as everything is when you’re 18).

His best friend, Martin, was going out with a millionaire, who we’ll call Dean. Dean made the mistake of buying Martin a car. At which point, Martin thought “I’m not going to get any more than this,” and dumped Dean.

Distraught Dean (hmmn, perhaps I shouldn’t have called him Dean) pleaded for Martin to change his mind. Martin refused. At which point, Dean turned. “You can keep the car. And your best friend’s a better shag.”

For it turns out that the Nurse has also felt the benevolent hand of millionaire Dean.

Martin takes this news badly, and tells the Nurse’s boyfriend that he’s been unfaithful.

The Nurse is distraught, and flees to Reading.

Now, bear with me. This isn’t completely irrational, as the Nurse's boyfriend was in Reading at the time.

Anyway, the drink with the Nurse was simply for him to tell me sadly that he wouldn’t be sleeping with me ever again. He’d started a new path, made vows, and was going to stick to it.

In less than an hour, he was in an alley behind M&S gasping “oh, this is so wrong but it feels so right.”

Daytime TV has had a terrible effect on the language of youth.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

M for Monotonous

Young lass about town Eve is rescued from some ruffians by a man in a mask.

V (for it is he): Valiant vague vacuous vaporous vapid violence.

EVE: Oh don't talk like that. It's wearisome.

V: Would you like to see a building explode?

EVE: Rather!

(The Old Bailey explodes.)

V: I shall blow up another building at the very end of the film.

EVE: How ripping! But isn't that a bally long way away?

V: Yes, but I don't want to glamorise terrorism. Right. Just off to fight with knives in slow motion. Lovely shiny knives.


EVE: Can't you blow up something?

V: Would you like to see Stephen Fry beaten about the head?

EVE: Most certainly not! He's a national treasure.

V: Ah, but he is also but a shallow symbol. And a mere mask.

(awkward pause)

EVE: Please just blow something up.

V: (sighs) No.


Parliament explodes.

END CREDIT: Screenplay by the Wachowski Brothers

On the escalator out, I stood behind a couple. The girlfriend was saying, "Did you like it? Tell me what you think. Please tell me what you think? Did you enjoy it? I won't know what to think until I know what you think."

I knew *exactly* how she felt.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Summer of Sam

I was summoned to London this weekend by an old flame who reignited. He is, shabbily, the third person who's cheating on his boyfriend with me.

One is a misfortune, two carelessnes, but three spells hussy.

I spend my whole life wanting to be Penelope Keith in To The Manor Born, and I end up as Felicity Kendall in The Mistress.

Complete Sidebar: Tom Stoppard's children were at my school. This meant that, of all horrors, we had our frank talk about sex from Miriam Stoppard. In a feather boa.

The Stoppard Juniors were plonked in the front row, haplessly primed with questions for a dull moment, such as "Is it true you can masturbate too much?" and "Where is the clitoris?"

As if they hadn't suffered enough, some months later news of Tom Stoppard's affair leaked out and the Stoppards were seen trying to look very brave while people yelled out "Felicity Kendall" from the touchline.

Actually, talking about this makes me feel rubbish. But hey, there were popular and went on to great success. While I'm sat in a rainswept office in Cardiff with a view of a brick wall. *shrugs*

Anyway, Sam is supposed to have been last summer's affair, except for an unfortunate incident.

His boyfriend works in the Cabinet Office (I dunno what exactly - polishing?), so was very busy over the summer. All went well until one evening when Sam sneaked in late, to discover his boyfriend already home (I guess the Cabinet had shot their quota of Brazilians for the day and knocked off early).

Sam tried to look nonchalant as he fixed himself a drink and got ready for a shower, but was brought up sharp by his boyfriend drawling out, "Darling, do something about that hickey."

So, the visits from Sam stopped. But happily, the Boyfriend was away this weekend (off with Tony for a break from not apologising for things), and we had a great time. But it does make me worry - does travelling from a different country for a shag make me thrillingly international, or just desperate?

Friday, March 17, 2006


This morning, I finally understand the difference between Author and Reader. I never bothered with it at university. But now, I finally get it.


Bad news: I was a shameful fool last night.
Good news: It didn't involve sex.

Good news: He was a shameful fool last night.
Bad news: It didn't involve sex.

Late last night, pissed and desperate I was a fool. You know that "Return to Base!" thing, where your body goes "You are pissed. You aren't funny any more. Go home."

And home I went, leaving the hotel bar with reasonable dignity and out into the cold night air. Then I realised I had lost my keys.

Completely. With the precision of a drunk, I took my jacket off and folded it out on the pavement, looking for keys. No.

I returned to the hotel bar, and started crawling around looking for keys on the floor. There was no dignity. Just desperation. And no keys.

Someone took me to the hotel reception and explained my plight. The receptionist smiled, pityingly. "How awful, sir! Don't worry - we'll even put you in a suite for the night. Let's end the day on a good note."

I told him he was terribly kind, one of the nicest people in the world. I may even have cried.

I took the lift up to my room, and stepped inside. It was amazing. I stared out at the view, and sighed happily.

It was then that I put my hand in my pocket and found my keys.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I know it was going to be hard to make a sympathetic biopic about a self-loathing man, but did anyone else think the Kenneth Williams piece just went too far, as though someone read the diaries and went "I hate the little bastard"?

Cue endless scenes of Kenneth Williams wanking, often with the worst fake grey hair I've seen since school plays.

Every attempt was made to make Williams' life seem miserable and horrid, not helped by the tuppence budget excluding Williams' frequent orgiastic trips to Morocco.

It also showed no pride in any of Willaims' achievements - from Round the Horne through to Willo the Wisp, all of them dismissed with canned laughter, blue filters, and snide glances from other cast members.

There is a brilliant film to be made out of the life of a self-hating eccentric who can't come to terms with his achievement. But this wasn't it. It wasn't worthy of either the man, or his diaries.

Yeah, Kenneth Williams was a bit unpleasant. But Hitler was worse. And no-one's made a biopic about his furious wanking.

It seemed especially cruel when followed by the man himself reading The Dribbling Teapots and appearing odd, yes, but also charming, talented and witty...

PS: Best thing about it? The man playing Joe Orton. *bang!*

Friday, March 10, 2006

Dressing The Affair

A highlight of being back in London last week was catching up with The Affair.

The great thing about bedding an "A" Gay is that they help you get dressed afterwards. And, when your fashion sense is limited, this is enormously appreciated.

The Affair picked through my shirts with ruthless charm, merely giggled at an inapprorpriate t-shirt, cooed sympathetically over my inability to iron, and finished with a heartening "and it doesn't really matter as no-one will really see that jacket".

This is rather better than my fabulous friend Lee who reduced me to there's-just-something-in-my-eye when we were out shopping recently. I saw a shirt I rather wanted. Lee winced. "Don't you think it's suffered enough?"

I am, by the way, being terribly self-censoring when I mention The Affair. This avoids trouble. Also, by not giving his identity away, I'm building up the enigma of this handsome stranger (not so much a Whodunnit as a Whoyadoin).

It's a mutual agreement. Consider it a necessary sacrifice of free speech - just as Google had to make before being able to enter China. In both cases, someone gets screwed.

Fact of the Day

I once interviewed Sister Wendy. Due to a fault with the dictaphone, although it was recording, the previous contents of weren't wiped. Even for a nun, Sister Wendy was very softly spoken, and the tape had contained Handel's Messiah.

Hours of fun followed, scouring energetic hallelujahs for a whispered nun's "pudenda".

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Lady Diana and King Arthur

It's London Book Fair, and a friend has spent the week having books pitched to him. Flavour of the festival is "the new Dan Brown" and "the next Da Vinci Code".

So, step forward Adrian G Gilbert, author of The Mayan Prophecies. His Mystery of the Rose reveals that Princess Di was descended from King Arthur, who, in turn was descended from the Virgin Mary.

And that's not all. Her marriage to Prince Charles was, natch, a conspiracy. Possibly arranged the Lords of Coity (actually a place, not a quaint term for shagging).

Apparently, it's been arranged for centuries that Prince William will be "King Arthur II: the once and future king." Despite the fact that you can't have two once and future kings. Eternity would get cluttered.

Anyway, "this book will startle and shock the British establishment like nothing before". Although, since the establishment are responsible for this conspiracy, they're more likely to tut with dissapointment.

Also startling and shocking is Adrian Gilbert's proposal for a novel, which features "James 'Jack' Clarence a successful academic" for whom "a professorship beckons. Yet all is not well below this veneer of success..."

We learn of "Jack's initiation into a hitherto unknown world of Welsh esotericism... However a sword-fight with the corrupt politician who murdered of his parents and even initiation into the true mystery of the Holy Grail turn out to be but chapters on Jack's path. His deepest mission is finding himself."

Publishers are warned: "The target readership is [that of] Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Though not as fast-paced."

Be reassured: "The Sword of Arthur is based on Adrian Gilbert's own researches and is therefore unlikely to attract unwelcome lawsuits!" Or, in other words, even I'm unlikely to sue myself.

Meanwhile, publishers are also being offered a Guide to Dan Brown's work-in-progress The Solomon Key. This isn't about The Solomon Key, but simply predicts the likely topics that will be in The Solomon Key. Surely a unique venture in publishing. Especially as the book's no longer called The Solomon Key.

Twelve angry men

I have twelve managers.

Actually, if the definition of a manager is "someone who can pick up the phone and bollock you", make that fifteen.

Er. Help!

Monday, March 06, 2006


Blogger's a bit ill, isn't it?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Faith, hope and charity

John was a Christian, which meant that he danced like a trainee vicar and wanted to take things slowly.

How lovely, I thought. A man who wants to get to know me first. A man who isn't into all that instant kissy-touchy stuff, but instead wants to form a genuine, sincere connection with me. Something rare and meaningful.

At the end of the evening, he said "I'll be back in a second," and nipped outside to get off with someone else.

Finally, I can put my degree in Eng Lit to use. TS Eliot coined the phrase "objective correlative" for those moments in books when complicated emotional traumas are summed up by a single everyday detail. An example could be "As he left, Emma looked out of the window. It began to rain heavily."

I really can't describe my time in Cardiff. But somehow, it's all summed up by the fact that I can't even kiss a Christian.

The next day, John texted to say he felt we had a real bond, and he couldn't wait to see me again. I replied: "You are fabulous. As is the man you got off with."

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Meanwhile on the New York Party Circuit...

"seriously though, doesn't the Dr. Who theme sound like a Club Anthem?"

UPDATE: Although the page itself is "office safe" it does contain links to others which aren't. Including a banner at the bottom advertising "Matt's 1st Anal Adventure". It includes a close-up picture of Matt, who appears to have just received some distressing news.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Linda Smith RIP

If there was a list of Radio 4 people who should be immortal, she'd be on there. Along with Humphrey Littleton.

It feels so wrong. Like a bizarro Mark Thompson cutback. Why couldn't we have lost Quote Unquote instead?