Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Big TV

I've had a projector for years. Why stare at a tiny TV when you can cover your entire wall with anything you want (but not porn. Oh god no. There's something wrong with a six foot penis that you can't put into words).

Last year I brought a new projector for my Cardiff flat. It was bright. It was shiny. It was HD. And this week it blew up.

The noise was very loud. It happened during quite a good QI, and I spent five sad minutes staring at a blank wall, listening to Stephen Fry being unbearably clever, surrounded by the smell of cordite.

Irritatingly, the projector originally cost £400. The new lamp cost £350.

And it happened at just that point in January where you go "My finances will be *fine* so long I don't make any sudden moves..."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

That boy's poison

I've read about Toxic Batchelors, but I'd never met one before.

His name was Justin, and he's a dancer/entertainer. Next week he's off to entertain the troops in Darfur, so I figured it was my patriotic duty to give him a soldier's farewell.

The next day, he woke up giggling, and I woke up covered in a rash. From the neck down, throbbing red spots. That itched. Clearly some kind of allergic reaction.

"S'okay babes," he said, "If we keep the curtains closed we can still-"

"That's not the point!" I yelled. Although, actually, he had a war to dance through, and it's going to be a while before I'm going out with a complexion you could charitably call "marbled".

After he'd gone, I popped into Queen St Boots. The counter diva pouted. "You again?"

Checking the leaflet on my antibiotics, the only side-effect I have left to experience is sudden kidney failure.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Pus in Boots

The chemists at Euston station isn’t perhaps the best place to buy Thrush cream, but I thought I’d give it a go. It was not a social highlight.

My initial approach was cheery. I smiled, and said clearly, but not too loudly, “Good afternoon. As a side effect of antibiotics, I’ve developed Thrush.”

The assistant then repeated this, loudly, to the colleague beside her. “He says he’s developed Thrush. (theatrical pause) As a result of antibiotics.”

Her colleague leans over the counter, “What do you say you have?” He cups his hand to his ear.

“Thrush,” I say, loudly.

“Thrush!” he booms back. “Is this cream for you?”

Good grief, I think – does this mean that people send their partners shopping for their clap cream? “Yes,” I repeat, “I have thrush.”

“What symptoms do you have?” the little man shouts.

I am now aware that there is a queue behind me. I open my mouth to answer, but he doesn’t give me a chance.


“Oh my god! Discharge? No! No. None of that.”

“Visible fungal infection of the genitalia?”

That did it. “No. All I know is that my arse is flaking like a freshly baked croissant. Now, can I have some Canestan, please?”

The packet of Canestan, when I finally get it, has a pastel drawing on it of a straight couple shagging. There’s a pink line snaking from the man to the woman. The clear inference is, “It was a beautiful, tender moment wasn’t it? Bet you hate him now.”

The next day, I accidentally leave it behind in London, and have to buy more when I get to Cardiff.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Flour Bomber

Today brought a millimetre of snow to London, which was brilliant, making everything beautiful, allowing transport to grind to a union-agreed halt, and meaning that everyone turned up at work late, stomping their feet and making “brrr” noises as they came in.

The day’s Metro brought an interesting update on the case of the failed Tube bombers. Splashed across a page were fascinating CCTV photos of one of the bombers escaping, shot from five different cameras.

Hmmn, I thought. So, when they say that the CCTV footage of the Stockwell shooting mysteriously vanished, that would require the same miraculous error to affect several different cameras, both on board the train and throughout the station. Goodness me, what are the chances of that happening?

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Darkling Thrush

Three reasons why Monday was dreadful.
  1. After a brilliant morning, the afternoon was spent in a meeting so horrible, so awkward and so embarrassing, that I genuinely think I’d have more dignity as a professional kitten strangler.
  2. During this ghastly meeting, the Irishman texted to explain that yes, it was all over. He did phone later, which was nice, but still…
  3. Having worked my way through all the other possible side effects of my antibiotics, I’ve now developed thrush. How ironic. After all the things I've done, I finally catch an STD off penicillin.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Wedding Bawls

Darren and Sian are two of the nicest things about Cardiff. And on Sunday, they got married with typically casual style.

We started with cocktails in a bar (“right, I’m hammered, let's go” announced Sian), followed by a short service in the letters of the Millennium Centre (if you’re going to get married, it may as well be inside the world’s largest poem).

As with all weddings, there was the baby who screamed throughout, patted obliviously by his smiling mother, as she swayed from side to side in her poncho and ignored her husband’s urgent whispers of “Leave! Go!”

By the time of the vows, one baby had set the others off like Furbies, and Darren and Sian promised to be together to a frog chorus of wails, shrieks, and loud toddler running.

This baffles me. Maybe it’s cos I hate babies. But come the reception, the spawn had miraculously vanished – so it obviously wasn’t an issue of babysitters. Perhaps there’s some cultural thing whereby a union can only be blessed by screaming infants, stampeding toddlers, and a small girl in a princess outfit yelling “But I’m bored, mummy. Booooooored.”

There were also two goths. They stood silently throughout the ceremony, heads bowed, listening to hard rock on their iPods.

During the wedding photos, Darren briefly, but foolishly, let his hand rest fondly on Sian’s stomach. Which meant that the rest of the afternoon was spent fending off relations with sparkling eyes and loud whispers of “So, when’s it due?”

The reception was lovely. I was quietly warned off the tall stranger with cheekbones and a vacant grin (“That’s Darren’s very straight brother. He hasn’t forgiven the gays after his stag do. He was chained up naked outside a gay club and tried to fend them off by yelling, ‘Keep back, or I’ll have you!’ which didn’t work out as expected.”)

The catering was vegetarian, so we nipped out to Tesco, and came back smuggling pepperami. There was also a journalist friend of Darren’s. He sneaked in a bottle of vodka, which was later found, empty, by his chair. The vodka in no way interfered with his consumption of wine, champagne, and, as he put it, “You’re gay. Surely you must have more pills.”

The journalist surveyed the room with a surprisingly clear gaze, and then spent the evening chatting up the wedding photographer. I don’t think it ended well, as she eventually marched off with a look of pure disgust, while the journalist just sat there, shaking his head sadly.

There was an air of genuine merriment, and much dancing - there’d been a fight between two DJs as to which of them could do the wedding. A shift system was in operation, which meant each DJ trying to keep as many people on the dance floor as possible. This turned out to be an incredibly smart move, and one I shall use at my own wedding - should I ever convince a Latvuanian that I’m worth British Citizenship.

It helped that next door was a bar full of most of the other nice people in Cardiff, which meant that I could swish neatly from pogoing across the dancefloor to sitting on squishy sofas and trying not to talk about Jade.

Of course, come closing time at the bar, we crashed the wedding. It was during the obligatory “Soul” period of the DJing. Soul is a music that can only be danced to by elderly relatives. That’s why it’s played at weddings, so that Auntie Joyce can “Get On Up”. It’s what she lives for.

In between all this, there was vague flirtation, and even a brief toilet interlude, with a nearly-shag from months ago. He remains a nearly-shag, but we did have the following conversation on a street somewhere in Cardiff:

“Why am I heading back to your flat? I have a boyfriend. He’s very thin. I’m very lucky.”
“He is very thin. You are very lucky.”
“No. I’m definitely getting a taxi. It’s about love and trust. I’m being very well-behaved these days. That’s what it’s about. Don’t you have a boyfriend?”
“Well, I’m currently being dumped.”
“So I’d be a rebound shag?”
“Right now, it’s just nice to be wanted. It’s the thought that counts.”
“So we don’t have to shag?”
“No. You just have to want to.”
“Well I do. But I’m not going to.”
“Works for me. I go home feeling desirable, and you avoid cheating on your boyfriend.”
“Do you know something else – Princess Grace’s daughter is married to the Prince of Great Britain. That’s seriously the title of her husband. There’s my taxi.”

Saturday, January 20, 2007


So, things with the Irishman have pretty much petered out. You know how it is - a sudden, sad decline in texts and calls and then... an empty weekend.

Rather than mope around the flat, I ran away to Bristol for the day. I've always loved the city, and it's silly that i've lived next door for a year and never popped round.

I spent a happy morning shopping in the markets, had a great lunch, and then in the afternoon, inevitably, headed for a gay sauna.

After all, I figured, reckles shagging after you get dumped - that's just a sign of desperation. Whereas, reckless shagging just before being dumped - that's technically cheating, and therefore thrilling.

The Cottage Sauna (oh yes, really) turned out to be marvellous. For one thing, ahead of me in the entrance was a deaf lesbian buying cigarettes and sex toys. I hadn't, until that moment, felt either furtive or seedy. But that dignity vanished standing behind a woman while she slowly shouted "THAT ONE'S NOT BIG ENOUGH. GOT ANY BEADS?"

When I got in, I was struck by the enormous counter that was selling a wide range of confectionary and marital aids. Poppers next to Smarties, and vibrators next to chocolate eclairs.

It was the strangest English sauna. It was aiming for a "homely" feel. A big labrador happily wandered the corridors. A smell of bacon sandwiches was everywhere, and there was a big display of local attractions, such as Wookey Hole and Bristol Zoo. Which is obviously daft. I mean, who thinks "That was a mildly disappointing afternoon of random shagging. Oooh, let's go look at giraffes!"

The nicest thing about the sauna was the Glaswegian squaddie who i spent a merry few hours with. He was also called James, and his enormous arms were covered with tattoos. Including one of a highlander playing the drums, which is a tattoo of a tattoo, if you think about it.

The strangest thing about the sauna was the transvestite. In full drag. There you'd be in the steam room - four men wearing only towels, and a fifth wearing stockings, little black dress, blonde wig and a handbag.

It didn't help that he'd not shaved his legs, and the black stockings were covered in woolly pompoms. So he looked like a walking vag.

Plus the wig was perming in the steam.

The neat, polite bit of me thinks "It takes all sorts, and let's celebrate the difference and the courage it takes to express that". Then there's another side of me thinking "Honey, blokes come here to forget their wives."

After I'd finished looking at the squaddie's tattoos upside down, we went down to the telly room. The transvestite joined us, followed shortly afterwards by a very hairy, very fat man, and the labrador. We all settled down to watch The Golden Girls, and I thought, "yes, in its own way, this is homely".

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Old Fashioned Indian

I am still seeking a good Indian restaurant in Cardiff. Last night I went with the lovely Ann to the Juboraj, as I'd been there before and remembered the food being good.

I had, somehow, forgotten completely about the service, which was refreshingly bad. There is something entertaining, even cheering, about rubbish service. So much effort these days goes into pretending to like customers that it's refreshing to see a more stripped-back, minimal approach.

As we sat down, they demanded to know what we wanted to drink. The menu wasn't helpful. It recommended "a range of beers brewed specially to complement our food."

This turned out to be Cobra.

They didn't have a soft drinks menu. And were cross when I asked them for one. "Lemonade. Coke. Orange Juice."

When neither of us wanted to order rice, the surliness increased. "You will have one portion pilau rice," we were told.

While we waited for our food, they started hoovering the restaurant. All around us were lonely businessmen on invisible dates. They were all staring blankly into the space where their date would be, if they had one. They even appeared to be listening, sadly, to silent conversations, very attentively, while sadly moving their food around their plates.

The food was quite good, but arrived with a surly plonking-down of dishes, a shoving aside of plates, and a wearied sigh when we asked for more drinks.

Then we made our fatal mistake. We had quite a lot of food left over. And, as the Juboraj has a thriving take-away business, we wondered if it would be too much trouble to scrape our leftovers into a take-away box.

The waiter actually sneered. "All of it? That'll take a while."

And it did. After 20 minutes, we gave up.

Monday, January 15, 2007

t'other Marple

There's nothing like a good murder when you're ill, and the last few days have passed most agreeably with the new Marples starring Geraldine McEwan and Lots of Famous People.

Now, don't get me wrong. These aren't *good* television. They are shoddy. Oh, everything looks lovely, but the overall tone is Grown-Up Pantomime. Gone is any sense of menace, or creeping evil. Instead:

DASHING YOUNG MAN: Lord, but I'm a rotter! (drinks whisky)

BRIGHT YOUNG GIRL: Goodness me, I'm fashionable but heartless (smokes cigarette)

FRANCES DE LA TOUR: I'm too famous for this cameo, you know.

MOUSY GIRL: I'm so dowdy.

KEITH ALLEN: Fuck me, I'm playing the copper. I'll whisper menacingly.

STEVEN BERKOFF: And I'm the creepy lawyer. Yum. Yum.

MARPLE: Dodder, dodder, twinkle, twinkle. Smug.

DASHING YOUNG MAN: Miss Marple, why don't I put on a cardigan and do some investigating?

BRIGHT YOUNG GIRL: And I'll change into something very tight-waisted and smoke erotically.

MARPLE: I'll just sit in the corner knitting. I know everything. I won't stop anyone being killed, though.

FAMOUS CORPSE: Look at me! I'm very famous! And I'm just playing a dead body! How brilliant is that! See me not breathing.

JOANNA LUMLEY: I'm playing Marple's best friend. I promise not to steal a single scene. Whoops, apart from that one. Oopsie, and that one. Silly me. Look at all the simply lovely hats I'm wearing.

ROBERT HARDY: I'm still alive. And still doing Winston Churchill cameos.

[ Strangely old-fashioned scene change ]

MARPLE: Well, the murder was committed by someone very famous.

MOUSY GIRL: Goodness! I'll let down my hair and become beautiful.

BRIGHT YOUNG GIRL: How lovely. Let's be lesbians!

DASHING YOUNG MAN: Brilliant! And I'm no longer a rotter.

MARPLE: I'd like to smugly hint at a secret sadness by staring at my picture of Marc Warren in a moustache.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

What week?

Thanks to the honestly-not-just-a-cold, the week's just whizzed by. There's been very little smoking, even less drinking, and rather too many Hitchcock films. Plus 400 hours of sleep.

Has anything interesting happened? Not really. The Irishman's still around, but I suspect this is cos he's still too weak to crawl away.

Puzzle of the week - does anything stop a cough? Seemingly not.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Rather nice thing

I like the Cardiff Toy Train service. These tiny trains pretend to go places, and sometimes even get there. The staff are always friendly, and sit with their feet up, eating corned beef sandwiches and joking about how slow the trains are.

My flat overlooks one station, and in the early morning I can hear an automated voice apologising to passengers who aren't there about trains that aren't running.

Last night, however, the Toy Trains surpassed themselves. I left my phone on a train. Now, in London, this would be the end of the matter.

I didn't even realise I'd left it on a train. I figured it was in the flat somewhere, so rang it from the landline, expecting to hear it ringing from under a cardigan.

Instead someone answered it, saying, "Wondered how long it would take you to call."

So, I dedicate this blog post to a lovely Toy Train man called Paul, who'd taken the phone home, and even texted a few of my friends to let them know he had the phone. He then sent the phone back down the line to my station.

It was rather pleasingly like a spy movie - meeting a lonely train on a rainy platform late at night and telling the guard, "Whitchurch Paul says you have a package for me."


The only problem with this is that the Irishman has been telling me ever since I've known him to stop putting my phone in my side pockets as I'd lose it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Lost Weekend

Things are going curiously well with The Irishman. I still don't quite know if I'm dating him or stalking him, but we're accidentally spending a lot of time together.

Sounds romantic, doesn't it? But I've caught his cold. And it's naasty.

It's like John and Yoko's Week In Bed, only with worse hair and more lemsip.

It's tough to talk interestingly about being ill. The main problem is that you move between the hot sweats and the cold sweats. So the Irishman will be in bed boiling alive in his boxer shorts, and i'll be next to him, wrapped up in a jumper and a fleece, teeth chattering.

We tried doing interesting things, which turned into shopping for pants ("Um, are you sure you're a small?"), an attempt to buy a toaster ("Did you want a toaster?" "No. Did you?" "No." "So why are we here?"), and then some soup.

It took 40 minutes for the soup to arrive. It was solid, the colour of pond, and stone cold. The Irishman hadn't eaten for three days. He gave up.

The Irishman's had a nasty old week, and now has to teach lots and lots of children.
I get another day of watching Hitchcock films and throwing up Night Nurse.

I was supposed to be in London, at fabulous parties and seeing lovely old friends. Instead I've discovered the only way not to encounter "Two Pints of Lager" on NTL is to say aloud "I'd really like to see Two Pints of Lager, you know."

Friday, January 05, 2007

When Nature Calls

Well, I've spent the morning thinking I've got food poisoning.

Then, suddenly, I remember that during a drunken moment last night I decided a good way to lose weight would be to take rather too many laxatives. Oh dear.

Meanwhile, in The Archers

So, finally the ghastly gays Ian and Adam got married. Their families turned up, they've postponed the honeymoon until after the lambing season, and neither groom managed to bang a male stripper on their last night of freedom. Yawn.

Ruth and David are trying to patch up their marriage, after Ruth failed to sleep with Sam the cowman. David responded to this act of fidelity by teariing down his children's treehouse.

Linda Snell's pantomime went ahead. Joe Grundy's beard was well-reviewed in the Borsetshire Echo.

Vile Helen Archer gets her annual plot. This time she's become an alcoholic (Honestly, just because your last boyfriend shot himself rather than be with you, it's any excuse). She's already done bulimia, whingeing, and working in the yoghurt factory. Luckily, Tom Archer (of Tom Archer's Sausages fame) tries to rescue her on New Year's Eve. Instead, Helen drunkenly runs over... Mike Tucker, the father of Tom's girlfriend. While Helen sobs (her ideal state) Tom decides to take the blame for the accident. Misery descends on Bridge Farm.

Finally, BBC Four make a documentary all about The Archers and we get to see that Saint Shula is actually 800 years old.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The 27-hour date

"Don't you owe me supper?" texted the Irishman.

So, we went to Miskin Manor. The same hilarious hotel a laywer summoned me to in October.

It was deserted.

The Irishman was impressed. "So, we're in an empty gothic hotel in the middle of nowhere, and I've got no mobile signal. Are you after killing me?"

We ate in an empty restaurant, in front of a roaring fireplace. We had coffee in a Citizen Kane-size lounge, underneath a towering christmas tree.

"So," said the Irishman, "Do you have a boyfriend?"

I blinked. "No," I said, laughing.

"I see," he said, "And what's his name?"

"No, really. There's no one." As regular readers will know.

The Irishman looked at me coldly. "So, I ask you if you have a boyfriend, and you start laughing nervously and look away. Sure you've got a boyfriend."

"I really, really don't. I'm hopeless. I lose boys like pens."

The Irishman carried on staring at me. "You so have a boyfriend."

"No! No-one! Well..." I paused, "I do have a slave."

Finally, the Irishman smiled. "Sure you do."

And then it was time for a taxi home. Although, the leather chairs were so cozy, and the fireplace so warm...

"I think we'd like to stay," we said to the apple-cheeked old dear at reception.

"Of course, gentlemen. Two rooms, or would you like to share a twin?"

"Just one bed will be fine."

The slightest pause.

"I see. Well, I'm sure we can arrange that."

All went well... except that, in the middle of the night, the Irishman developed a high fever.

"I'm afraid we don't supply drugs to guests," they said at reception when I asked for paracetomol.

So, like all good dirty breaks, our time contained the phrases "up all night", "sweating and moaning", "tossing endlessly", "used all the towels,", "wet flannel", "damp patch" and finally "very long shower". But not in the exciting way.

The next morning, I poured him into a taxi and took him home, where he spent the day watching cartoons semi-conscious. We drank a lot of whisky. Some of it with hot honey and lemon.

We even watched Coronation Street. All the men are nearly-pretty. All the women are ugly or drag queens. Everyone lives in terror of five harpies who work in a knicker factory.

"Well," I said, "It's all very well, but it's not The Archers."

The Irishman looked at me strangely. "Let's go out for a drink, and forget you just said that, shall we?"

Monday, January 01, 2007

Tubular Balls

This is the year when someone will coin a phrase for when a random jewel vanishes from You Tube before you can tell people about it.

There was I, all about to link through to an amazing version of Philip Glass's Einstein On The Beach to Lego. It's gone.

Oh no, here it is:

An here's Numa Numa!

New Year's Heave

I was invited to two wonderful parties on New Year's Eve. One was with friends. The other was with the Irishman. They were in the same building. I just couldn't say no to the idea of flitting between the two.

In my head, it would make me quite the social butterfly, slipping between two charming groups of people. One party had songs, singalongs and baloons. The other had fireworks. And the Irishman. What could possibly go wrong?

In a word, booze.

At the main party, I was sticking neatly to vodka, heavily diluted. Good plan.

Upstairs, however, there was some kind of drinking game going on. I don't really undestand the rules, but every time I walked in, I was handed a shot of something different.

I blame the Pernod. Or maybe the gin. Or perhaps the tequila.

But look at the picture - don't I look happy? Can I remember why? No

Whatever, I ended up sleeping on my balcony again. The torrential downpour helped.