Monday, December 31, 2007


And finally, here's a picture of my last man of 2007. He wasn't wearing the paint at the time, but I shall forget that inconvenient detail in later life.

Turned out to be a massive fan of musicals, so much so that he's on first name terms with Sweeney Todd. I shall also replace this detail with a lie about how we met wrestling.

It's been a good term in many ways

It's odd how you catch yourself thinking "that wasn't much of a year" and yet this year I've...

  • Left a job that was driving me nuts
  • Got a better one
  • Won a playwriting award
  • Become a (slightly) published author
  • Took a play to Edinburgh
  • Discovered just how lovely my friends are
  • Hired a stately home
  • Briefly enjoyed the miracle of signing on
  • Taken some hilarious Russian pony pills
  • Owned a Lego monorail
  • Made a space pirate cartoon

  • Not got a cat

Oh, and a brief thank you to all the men, no matter how deranged, dismissive, drunk or drop dead dishy. Wouldn't have been the same without you.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Spoilers

So. I'm back from four lovely days on a hill without television. I get back, and I'm looking quietly forward to seeing the Doctor Who Christmas Special - it's the first episode I've really known nothing about before it goes out.

Foolishly, I log into Facebook. And find a message blaring: "WHY THE FUCK DID THEY KILL KYLIE?" Ah well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chilling Presents

Here are the top presents to buy your cat.

Hmmn. A laser and a targeting system in geostationary orbit. Buy your cat both and it'll build the Death Star.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A letter from Lego

For reasons too boring to mention, I've been rather keen for the last two Christmases on buying the Lego Holiday Train (look! there's even a bunny in the snow...). Yesterday, I crack and login to - only to find that they halved the price last week and have sold out. So, I email Lego to ask if there's any left, and they send a reply that manages to be both formulaic, corporate and yet oddly charming. Like Lego itself:

Thanks for getting in touch with us.

It's always great to hear from loyal LEGO® fans, but I'm afraid we don't make that LEGO set any more. So it will not come back. It could off course happen that some stock is found and a limited amount come back for sale but it will definetly not be produced anymore.

Actually, we have a team of experts in Denmark whose job it is to invent new LEGO toys every year. They spend their time trying to find new and fun toys that are even better than classic sets. The shelves aren't big enough to hold everything so sometimes we have to stop making a few of the older sets.

You never know though, some of the old favourites sometimes make a comeback, so keep a look out!

I hope one of our many new LEGO toys will inspire the LEGO fans in your house. To have a look through the hundreds of sets and toys go to and see what grabs you and remember to keep an eye on the 'Exclusives and Treasures' section, which includes classic and collectable sets!

Thanks again for getting in touch.

Happy building!

Vincent Velthuizen
LEGO Direct

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Wet Look

I wake up late last Saturday and decide to login to what friends now call "The Orange Facebook". It's been a few weeks, and there's an old message from a startling New Zealander. The kind of man who seems to go out to clubs, take his top off and grin a lot.

I reply, and he messages back. "Mate, I've just got in! Come over!"
I tell him I've only just got up. "Shower when you get here." he says.

I pull on a pair of jeans and a trenchcoat and leave. Yes. That's all I'm wearing. My thinking goes like this:
  • I'm in really good shape at the moment.
  • This seems exciting and spontaneous, two things which I have decided I need to be more.
  • Princess Diana regularly used to pop out for dates wearing only a fur coat and high heels. This will be my tribute to our Queen of Hearts.

Of course, Diana only had to step from palace to limousine. It's not like she had to travel to Kilburn on the Jubilee Line when it's pissing down.

I huddle dripping on the platform at Baker Street. I feel like a sacked stripogram. I realise I've not eaten yet, so buy a power bar. All goes well until I reach into my pocket for change, and a woman gives me a startled look. I stop feeling like a stripper and begin feeling like a flasher.

By the time I reach Kilburn the rain is horizontal, it is freezing and I'm wishing I was wearing socks. Actually, I'm wishing I was wearing everything I owned, and was wrapped up in blankets on my sofa. By the time I finally find the New Zealander's flat I am as sodden as a stray cat. He turns out to be very nice, has a lot of towels, and turns the central heating up.

Surprisingly, the New Zealander is an opera singer. We stand on his balcony smoking menthol. I have never felt less like Princess Diana.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The "Never Forget How Venal Pretty Gays Are" TXT of the year

From the Polish Footballer:

"Do u have Windows software on CD for me? My laptop died and i have to put windows on it. Vista Basic is fine, but premium better. How r u btw?"

txt speak? CD-Roms? He's not just selfish, he's soooo nineties.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Southland Tales

Southland Tales is playing in one cinema in London. This may be one too many.

The follow-up to Donnie Darko is like going on a really bad date with a cheating lover. You love them. You want to believe their story. All your friends warned you about them, and you wouldn't listen, but gradually, horribly, the truth about them is revealed. And they keep on talking and talking and talking and you just want them to stop because your heart is choked with bile and hatred.

Over the 140 minutes/years/hours that the film endures I went straight from "Richard Kelly is a misunderstood genius", through "Richard Kelly, please shut up", and reached "Fuck you Richard Kelly" fairly quickly.

Kate and I did consider leaving. But when we booked two tickets the cinema offered us free popcorn and chocolate, which made us feel guilty about sneaking out. And Southland Tales is so distractingly odd that you keep watching. With giddy boredom.

Things happen that you'll tell your kids. There are the musical numbers, and the bit with an ice cream van and a zeppelin. These are all remarkable things. Not necessarily good, but remarkable. And when you talk about them, they sound a little bit amazing, and a lot more exciting than they actually were.

Normally, I hate people talking during films, but Southland Tales provoked its tiny audience into anxious murmuring. What was said most often, as a whisper, a whimper, or even a yell, was "What the fuck?"

It does actually end. There's a point when you think it can't possibly and that you will be trapped watching this insane babble until you die and your seats are taken by your children, the products of a brief, mindless rutting that failed to distract or console. And then your children, who have seen nothing else except darkness and Southland Tales, will settle down and watch the film while raising miserable halfbreeds of their own, mindless gibbering fools, mutants so pathetic and isolated that they'll actually enjoy Southland Tales.

Yes, it is that bad. The only consolation prize is Seann William Scott who spends the entire film looking like this:

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Steroid Diary: Dianabol


One of the many nice things about the steroid Dianabol is that it's only temporary. You take it for two weeks, your body gets all lumpy. You stop taking it and the lumps melt away.

It's very popular amongst body builders who are taking a course of serious steroids. These take a fortnight to kick in, so while you're waiting for the results, you pop some nice, friendly Dianabol.

Oh, that's the other nice thing about Dianabol. It's in tablet form. No icky injections. And it tastes slightly of vanilla. The reason it's in tablet form is that it's been tweaked so that it can pass through your liver without shredding it. Grown-up steroids haven't, so need to be injected into the muscle, which sounds like rather too much effort.

Sweetly, my nurse friend offers to come over and do the injections if I want to do proper steroids. I explain I've avoided visiting continents just to miss a jab. “Okay,” he says, “But the offer's there. I'm brilliant with an orange.”

So, friendly, temporary tablets it is.

Getting hold of them is a bit trickier than Clenbuterol, the wonder diet drug. It requires a bit of careful googling before a useful link pops up. Then I'm in an online pharmacy, and, after swapping some badly spelt emails with a guy called Joe, my Dianabol turns up.

£20 gets you 100 tablets of Russian Dianabol. I have to email Joe to check the dosage – my cyrillic isn't what it should be. Like Vodka, Russian Dianabol is apparently the best – it's the best option, even on American sites. Mine comes from Kettering.

Now Clenbuterol has a streetname of Clen. Therefore, the streetname for Dianabol should be Diana. Sadly, it is D-Bol, a name which appears on jokey bodybuilding t-shirts that are fucking hilarious, I can tell you. Incidentally, how fabulous is it that I'm taking something with a streetname? They'll be dead impressed at my flower-arranging class.

Four tablets later, and I've started my course. You take it in the morning, you go to the gym... and nothing much happens for a few days.

The side-effects of steroids are what I'm really interested in – do they make you mental? Will my liver pack up? Will my hair fall out? Will my balls shrink? Will I get breasts?

The answer is... not really. After a week, and six visits to the gym, things are looking pretty good. The whippetty thinness of Clenbuterol has gone, replaced by a bulky look that in a certain light is a bit... puffy. My arms aren't exactly ripped. More overstuffed. Like a sofa.

I'm spending so long checking out the results in the gym shower that I'm getting looked at. Not by the strangely hunky Latvuanian hotel porter, but by the weird guy who even naked manages to look like a Geography teacher. Fascinatingly, he always dries himself with kitchen towel.

Anyway, it had been an interesting gym session. I was doing something repetitive with a barbell, and suddenly realised my arms looked like an anatomical drawing. There were biceps doing their bulgy thing, and some lumpy triceps flexing away, and that weird third arm muscle group having a bit of a jive. Woof! To celebrate, I did some pull ups, just to prove to the puny weaklings that it could be done. And then I went home and watched cartoons to celebrate a wicked Friday night. And that brings us to the major side-effect...


My sex drive's died. It's been lovely having a holiday from it, really. But still, something's wrong when you find yourself sat on the sofa on a Friday night thinking “I could take the gun show clubbing, or I could just improve the tagging on my MP3s.”

Hmmn. Thanks to the internet, I set up a couple of dates for next week, and then get on with the serious business of going to the gym and eating protein. Actually, eating full stop. I am ravenously hungry, and I'm blaming the Dianabol. I'm gaining a bit of bulk, but it seems to be muscly bulk. Which is pleasing. I briefly wonder if I should get a new walk – perhaps even a gait.

If I was expecting roid rage, I've been disappointed. D-bol just makes me... frustrated. I'll be in a meeting, and if something isn't going my way I get a sudden urge to burst into tears. After this has happened twice I think, “oh god, I've become one of those women” and reach for the Beechams Kalms. Skippity skip, hello birds, hello sky etc.

Date number one is with a nuclear physicist in Shoreditch. “It's just a short walk from work,” he explains. There's a nuclear base in Clerkenwell? This is surprising knowledge. If the date doesn't go well, will he spike my drink?

Actually, the date doesn't go well. He's perfectly nice, but his profile claimed “athletic”. He's not, and he's wearing peach lacoste. My immediate reaction is “Cool, I wasn't really in the mood anyway and the barman was looking at me.”

Worse happens with the next date, a rather sweet young MA student in a hoody. He's charming, but I'm still not really in the mood. Still, a glass of wine later we're sat in the flat in front of the fire, and it seems silly not to. At which point, he takes off the hoody and expands.

It's like I've pulled a Slitheen. Where the fuck have you been hiding all that? I think. But your face is so pretty... and I have got your clothes off. How socially awkward. I'm struck with sudden inspiration. “Hey,” I say, “I'm feeling selfish. Can you just suck me off and go?”

He smirks. “Okay. Cool.”

Oh no. It really is true what they say - Treat men really badly and they love it. Previously, I would have taken a bumbling and honest approach. This is clearly better all round. Plus, if I stand at a certain angle, he still looks really pretty, and I can see myself flexing my muscles in the mirror. Ultimate Win.

And actually, afterwards I pour him another glass of wine and we talk. Turns out he went to Oxford as well, so we have a jolly chat about colleges and quads and ivy stuff.

After he's left I think “Thank goodness that's over. Now I can get on with watching TV.”


So that's pretty much it for side-effects – I'm petulant, selfish, addicted to TV, a bit spotty, and don't fancy men much. I'm basically a teenage boy.

Otherwise, it's a great week, really. I lift a lot of weights, my chest gets impressively lumpy, I feel good about myself, I don't particularly feel like going out. On the other hand, apart from occasional teary moments, I feel fantastic. I'm confident, I'm smiling, I'm eating biscuits and striking up conversations with strangers. It turns out that this, sadly, is all a side-effect. This is fascinating for my research, but makes me vow not to make any important decisions while I'm behaving like an estate agent.

It is at this point that we should ponder asthmatics. I went drinking with one the other week, and he told me that as a child, he'd get put on steroids for his ashtma. The reward was an instant six pack. It is at this point I think “ashtmatics get all the luck – clenbuterol was invented for them, they get steroids, and they get let off cross country running.” Then I remember that they're probably allergic to cats and figure it's not so great.

So much for Dianabol, really. It's left me in great shape and feeling brilliant. So, I head off for a week in the middle of nowhere in Scotland, and over the holiday my body steadily deflates, like a balloon left after a party. Oh well.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Wet Week

Last night, after an evening of Extreme SoHo, I passed out on the sofa at 2am, book in one hand, cigarette in the other. Normal service has been resumed. Hurrah.

[ Things we are conveniently forgetting that would otherwise cloud this rosy picture:
1) Smoking outside in the freezing cold for four hours
2) Tramps are more frequent, madder, and have worse moisturising regimes since the smoking ban
3) That last drink in 79CXR, although the toilets now smell curiously of vanilla. Has someone opened up an ice cream stand? ]

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Dry Week, Day 6

Fuck it. I'm having a drink. This may be foolish, but here I am. It's midnight. In theory I can drink on Monday evening. Midnight on Sunday is only a little away from that.

It's a Sunday. I could have done anything with my evening, but I just don't want to go out. I spend an hour watching Frasier, and all I can think of is "there's half a bottle of wine in the fridge."

So, I have a glass of wine. I don't vomit. I have another little glass of wine. I feel fabulous. And very drunk. I go to bed in my giant new room, its shelves full of lego. And I smile.

The next day, of course, I wake up hungover. And happy.

(PS: Obviously, giving up booze for a week also means I've lost a whole kilo. That I wasn't actually sure I needed to lose. But hey.)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Dry Week, Day 5

I go out drinking with lovely friends in Soho. Or rather, I watch them drink. All afternoon. They seem very merry. I pass through "I'd rather have this coffee and fruit juice actually" and quickly reach "Who do I have to fuck for a cocktail?".

I am supposed to go out clubbing in the evening but feel dead tired and can't face a room of happy drunk people. Instead, I spend the evening dismantling Legoland. It's charming having a spare room full of Lego, but it's larger than my room. It just doesn't seem rational that Lego has the master bedroom. It really doesn't seem rational on many levels.

So, I move furniture until I'm ready to drop. Then I watch TV and chainsmoke.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Dry Week, Day 4

I go round to the fabulouos bachelor pad of a minor celebrity. I am there to laugh at badly-made fan films with very clever people. We discover minor celebrity has made his wine glasses by washing out nutella pots.

I persist in not drinking. I have a good evening. Sadly, when a row breaks out, I am sober and don't feel like joining in. I go home.

For complicated reasons involving a gay dead letter box, I have been given a valium tablet. I am intrigued and can't decide whether to take it or frame it. Sadly, the sheer volume of rain has dissolved the tablet in my jeans.

So, I sit watching QI at midnight. Stone cold sober, trying to get drunk on cigarettes. I miss you booze. Do you miss me?