Thursday, November 27, 2008

Blowing Whistles

When will I learn my lesson about Token Gay Plays? Blowing Whistles was two hours of gays screaming at each other, with the odd brilliant one-liner. At times it wanted to be The Doll's House. At times it wanted to be Pinter/Orton/Victoria Wood. But mostly it just settled for tackling serious gay issues while ensuring the blonde one took his top off.

Despite international acclaim, Tim and I hated it. So, we decided to shove its message about the true meaning of Gay Pride and instead go for a sneering drink in 79 CXR. If you've never been, imagine the Queen Vic after a gaypocalypse. This is where the zombies would drink. It was dark, two old skinheads snogged up against the fire escape, and the toilets offended every law of hygiene and morality. People are either looking for a late drink or late sex. "This is the true meaning of Gay Pride," said Tim, and we clinked our glasses.

And then I started to laugh. When I was 21 my heart was broken by a model (It's an epic saga involving murder, drugs and the yellow trousers of the Junior Dean of Manchester College Oxford). Anyway, he was beautiful, he was nasty, and he never stopped with the impression that he was too good for me (his nicknames for me were "baldy", "fatty" and "pencil dick" - grrrr). He was the boyfriend who taught me that men aren't actually that good for you.

And there he was. After all these years. Standing in a dark corner of 79 CXR, between the fruit machine and a man with piercings and a comb-over. He's aged - well - but he's aged. He was wearing a jumper with a knitted snowflake pattern. And he was there!

Tim and I raised our glasses and smiled over at him. There we were, having an ironic late drink in the worst place we could find. And there he was. This was the best he could manage for his evening. Unsuccessfully cruising for sex in the last, last, last chance saloon. The man who'd been in magazines and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson's sister. Who'd been flown across the world by rich young record executives. And now he was having to shuffle aside so that a drunk lumberjack could spill his pint over the slot machine.

Sometimes, revenge may take a decade. But it comes. Of course, Lee will just say this proves that my taste in men has always been rubbish. And I'll agree. But I'll argue my timing has never been better.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Social interaction fail

So, I wander into work, I flash my pass, the security guard smiles at me, and without thinking I reply by making the "chuch chuch chuch" chirrup that I greet the cat with.

I am in the lift before I realise what I've done.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Missed opportunity

After John Sergeant leaving Strictly there was definitely a chance for me to runinate on the whole "Human or Dancer" debate. But that moment has passed.

Sadly inevitable

BBC cancels Bonekickers.

I am distraught. I am reliably informed it wasn't buried, but cremated. Accidentally.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tech fail

I still haven't explored all the functions on my lovely new laptop. The other day, I clicked an untried icon on my desktop, and up popped a picture of a smiling man with stubble.

Goodness, I thought, that's a jolly handy button. And then I realised. I'd found the webcam.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Sarah Connor Chronicles

God knows why I'm still watching this, but I can't do without it. And I know I'm not alone in this.

When they come to write "The Big Book of Television Missed Opportunites" this will be up there, along with "Crossroads 90210". It's a telly series about Terminators and time travel and so on. And it's got Summer Glau and him from Heroes Who Used To Be Gay Then Wasn't Cos His Agent Complained And Then Got Written Out And You Would Do In Some Pictures But In Others He Looks Like He's A Regular At The G-A-Y Bar So No.

Season One was lurchingly inane with the odd weird moment (that scientist having a bath with a Terminator) and the odd great one (slo-mo gunfight at the end). And then mercifully there was the writer's strike, so you'd assume Season Two would be a complete reset.

And yes it is. Every single week. It's a new show every episode, none of them any good. They go undercover at a nuclear plant! Summer Glau scrambles her memory and becomes a hooker! Now it's set at a school! A therapy centre! A bowling alley! Back at the nuclear plant! Mexico! Hahahahahah-heeeeeheeeeheeeee-makeeeet-stopppppppp!

Just like last year's dead-end plot line about grafitti doors, this year we have the Special Moble Phone Code which you know is going somewhere - only it gets dropped without explanation.

They even do an episode which is "Told From Different Points Of View" which is "Groundbreaking Telly And The Best Thing Ever", unless you've seen Buffy, or even Star Trek: Next Generation, and even they did it better, but worth it cos Summer Glau is wearing an iddy biddy pink bra (cutes).

I think the reason I'm still watching though is the Shirley Mansonator. She's brilliant. Surrounded by people doing Serious TV Acting, she just doesn't bother. She looks hungover and bored, as though she's leafing idly through the script while the camera's not on her. She's great.

Although if you try and work out her motivation, you'll get giddy. Come on. Have a go. She's a Terminator from the futcha who has taken over an electronics corporation in order to do bad things, but she's also a hard working single mother who is pretending to be a vigilante intent on hunting down terminators while trying to develop an artificial intelligence despite, um, being quite an advanced one herself.
She likes Lego, though. No, really. She does. So she's great.

It's also worth it for Lena Hedley's Grim Expression. I imagine they have great fun trying to make her smile on set. But no, that sour face has been chemically set. She's grimmer than Dr Gillian Magwilde. Oh, I miss you Magwilde.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Found a livejournal page that reviews my book. Apparently, the naughty bits are being read in schools. There's even a review in (?) Polish ("Jestli je tohle ukazatel do budoucna, tak OMG YAY! :D."). Neato.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some talk of Alexander

I had a tiny bit of sex with a Coldstream Guard at the weekend. I only realised how funny this was when I did a google image search.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Apparitions ain't no Bonekickers, more's the pity. Martin Shaw! Exorcism! Joe Ahearne! Clearly, this should be an instant BBC classic... but it ain't.

It looks beautiful. Martin Shaw is great - although it is hard to watch anything he's in without remembering that the entire cast is put on a strict vegan diet - I spend most of my time assuming everyone on screen is wistfully imagining bacon. Because it's Joe Ahearne the characters are thunderingly written, it's creepy, and it looks lovely.

And yet... it ends up being terrifying and dull, like a powerpoint presentation on staff restructuring. I found myself watching and loving it, and yet also pottering off to do some washing-up. And in any drama that has nuns, that's a bad sign.

Partly because the fiendishly complicated plot was broken down into endless scenes which went like this:

MARTIN SHAW: You're possessed by the demon
DEMON DAD: No I'm not!
MARTIN SHAW: (look of infinite regret with a twinkle) Yes, you are.
DEMON DAD: No, I'm not! (weeps tears of blood)

When one of these scenes takes place in a lighting shop, your heart sinks. Yes, it's so that Satan can switch all the lights off at the end of the scene (spooky), but it's all so mundane. You really don't get a sense of apocalypse when you're clocking the "sale" tags on halogen fittings.

Also, the gays don't come out of it well. Martin Shaw has a young seminary friend who is a bumder and worried that Satan cured his leprosy. When he's kicked out of the church he goes to a gay sauna and gets skinned alive by a demon. Which is tragic and poignant etc etc and yet feels Very Old Fashioned and Not Much Fun. I thought we'd moved beyond telly dramas that show All Gays End Unhappily?

It was probably making some kind of point higher than that, but it didn't register. And even in a gay sauna, the sounds of someone being skinned alive would attract attention - at the very least from pottering old voyeurs who mistook the screaming for someone having a Jolly Good Time.

I'll carry on watching though. It is, after all, Joe Ahearne, plus it has a nun in it who's dead snippy.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Maxwell's Fullmooners

What could be better than an evening of vaguely burlesque comedy in a giant tent? Quite a lot, actually.

Kate and Rick have been raving about Andrew Maxwell's Fullmooners - a travelling event that only occurs on a full moon in eccentric locations. I've seen Andrew Maxwell, and he's brilliant. I've seen his assistant, Sir Tim, doing a great Edinburgh show about Morris Dancing across England. It all sounded rar.

Of course, I forgot, I don't do off-tube. Getting to Victoria Park required a tube, a train, a bus, and walking down a street of angry straight men kicking things (did they lose a sporty-woo?). By which time I was not in the mood for Funny.

That said, the tent was lovely. As was Andrew Maxwell and Sir Tim. There were only two problems - the acts and the audience. According to the website, an average Fullmooners gig includes Simon Pegg, or Russell Brand, or Marjorie Dawes. Or at least someone funny. But not this night. "Well, it is a long way for anyone good to come," sighed Kate. Even Andrew Maxwell was recycling material from his Edinburgh show, which considering this was an audience of groupies, seemed lazy.

Which brings me on to the audience. I went off "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" slightly when I realised the audience were even more middle-aged, middle-class and ghastly than I am. This was worse. This was a tent full of Comedy Is My Life-rs. If you like it so much, why not just sit back and enjoy it rather than constantly taking photos with the flash on?

As one of the comics pointed out, having been blinded for the twelth time, "Have you Facebooked that? Am I tagged? Will people believe you were here now? Go on - take another!"

And, if they weren't taking photos, they were texting. ZOMG and LOL, most probably. Maybe even a ROFL. Mind you, thank god they were, cos when the power went, the only light was all those twinkling little screens, no doubt each one reading "Power cut!!! omg!!! Sacry!!!!xxx"

It was a room full of people desperately telling each other and all their friends they were having a good time.

Mind you, Fullmooners deserves to be the best thing ever. After all, it has Andrew Maxwell and Sir Tim, who are brilliant - what's not to love about an Old Etonian drinking beer through a bugle whilst playing The Last Post? (mind you, that was charming on stage, but describing it makes it sound like a rugby club turn).

I just wish it had been more of them, and they hadn't bothered with anyone else.

The Haunted Cupboard

Very brief cat update (yeah, there is other stuff, and soon, promise): Why don't they issue them with flashcards?

When the thing first arrived, it just had one mew. This was fine. This mew meant everything from "Hungry" to "Scared" to "Need to Wee".

Now, of course, it's settled in, and there's a whole panoply of mewls, chirrups, and howls. Most of them I can make a guess at from "It's nearly dawn, that makes it Breakfast o'Clock" through to "You're not watching that rubbish again, are you?". But some remain a mystery.

I'm sat in the spare room, and the cat is doing what she always does when I'm in here. She walks in. She sniffs her favourite electrical cable (one day I'm going to come home and find a just tiny fur coat, aren't I?), and then she turns, looks at the wardrobe and screams. It's very disconcerting. I means - my dress sense can't be that bad, can it?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On being an author

Last night I got to go to my first ever publishing party. It actually seemed to be a room full of lovely people I already know drinking free wine, but still, what a nice feeling. Especially as they handed out little badges which had our names on and said "author" underneath. I think I managed to leave before I did or said anything ghastly... but I'm not sure.

The best bit of the evening was when I nipped out to buy cigarettes. Nice shop owner smiles and says "Excuse me - aren't you a writer?"

"Why yes," I say, preening mightily. "However did you know?"

"From you name badge," he replied.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

There Will Be Blood: Thomas The Tank Engine Edition


Welcome to Wolverhampton

This is almost the first thing you see outside Wolverhampton train station. The second thing is a "nite club". Unlike Newport, things go rapidly uphill after that.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


So, I'm back from a week in Scotland. It was lovely. Just some walking and eating and drinking and generally living the life of a prematurely retired gay. The cat was okay when I got back and is now the size of a house (the cat sitter has been overfeeding her).

Went to Wolverhampton today to give a talk about the job I used to do. Genuinely lovely madness. Had a brief moment of relaxed, unguarded candour, and then noticed the attractive young blonde man in the front row. He was holding a camcorder. And he winked. At which point I went smartly back on message.

Sadly, he didn't hang around afterwards. But a man who'd built a TARDIS in his shed did. Apparently it made unusual sounds due to the functioning plasmatron.

The train journey both ways was fascinating. Who are these people who drink beer at 10am? And, on the way back, a couple sat listening to a CD walkman (remember them), with one earphone each. Their eyes were closed, they were holding hands and they were smiling.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sachsgate Sackings

Well, it's all over, again. Mark Thompson finally emerged, blinking into the media spotlight like a mongoose suddenly appointed prep school headmaster. He gave the performance of an iron jelly, and then vanished.

My prediction that it'd just be the producer who got fired seems wildly wrong now. But then, Holy Moly points out that he was just filling in, while his uber-boss Lesley Douglas resigned rather than see him scape-goated. Good for her - it almost makes me forgive her for George Lamb and "women listen to music differently to men".

6Music is an interesting listen today. The giggling refrain of "ooh, we'd better not" and "we've been told we can't" suggests the gastric band of editorial policy has been tightened while terrified producers second guess every decision.

UPDATE: Of course, that didn't stop John Holmes from chatting to his co-host. "You've been reading the Book of Daniel?", "Yes. Chapter Six.", "Is that where he got thrown to the lions?" And, without a pause, he plays "Hanging on the telephone."