Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy Boxing Day Monday

I am in the countryside. Nothing is happening. I have a cold, internet access is only possible by sitting in the driveway, the cat is somewhere in the roof, and the only thing on the telly is Midsomer Murders.

Plus no vodka or fags.

Seeing my folks is a bit like going to a health farm. And yet lovely.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Being Human and stuff.

Excitingly my Being Human novel comes out next February, and you can already buy it. It has Mitchell on the cover and features bingo. This is all you need to know. You can also buy the other books by the lovely Simon and Mark, or, naturally, watch the show in January.

In further exciting news, you can apparently pre-order a Doctor Who Audiobook by me from Amazon too.

Or, you can simply get on with wrapping Christmas Presents. Totally up to you.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Eurostar Disaster

You absolutely must watch: The Chief Executive of Eurostar skewering himself on BBC News.

It's a truly awful performance. You've trapped thousands of terrified people in darkness for 15 freezing hours with no light, water, food, toilets or explanation. Your only approach is to utterly and completely apologise and then lock youself overnight in an unlit oven awash with baby vomit and the shit of strangers. And then apologise again.

Or, if you're Richard Brown, the hapless Eurostar head being thrown to the dogs you...
  • Make a fumbling apology with all the sincerity of "your call is important to us".
  • Weasel-shift the blame onto Eurotunnel.
  • Insist "We were well prepared, but... ah..." in the face of the evidence.
  • When told passengers heard a driver sobbing to look appalled.
  • When asked about compensation, loftily announce "That's what travel insurance is for".
  • Accidentally imply that the service has utterly collapsed.
  • And make the wonderful slip "When we re-doom service, er, resume..."

It's compelling television career suicide, a unique perfomance blending lofty disdain with "is-he-going-to-throw-up-from-fear?". There are times to abandon your careful media training and go for transparent honesty. Especially when you've clearly screwed up massively and are obviously as ill-at-ease as a cabinet minister caught nuts deep in a rent boy live on the GMTV sofa.

I've spent two years being smug that I live 200 yards from the Eurostar. It's massively improved the area and was, until the weekend, one of the loveliest trains ever not made out of Lego. But right now, it's something to be utterly ashamed of.

UPDATE: A fascinating post from Eurostar's social networking agency which explains that the company were ony really interested in things like Twitter for sales and marketing. Oh dear... Includes a "Hostage Execution" style video interview with Richard Brown.

Also some really horrible stories and analysis from the ground here.

I noticed that Mr Brown had been retired as a talking head by the time of the one o'clock news - after Eurotunnel published a press release saying "Don't try blaming this on us sunshine". Sadly, Brown is now back talking about "improving the winterisation of our train sets".

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weird spam

Going through my spam folder I found an invite to an "Adults Only Dating Site". Well yeah, I thought, I should hope so, otherwise everyone involved is gonna get in a whole lot of trouble.

Other than that, my spam folder contains a lot of offers from Waitrose and lonely married women. I'm wondering if I should put the two in touch?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cheap week

The nice thing about being a freelance is the merciful lack of Christmas Parties, the staggering shortage of late night cabs home, the wonderful dirth of let's-go-on-somewhere. It's been a cheap week, and god knows, I need one of those (why do personal finances, no matter how rosy, suddenly look scary in December?).

Last night I decided I was going to go out. It would be a treat. I'd had a day of cat-sitting which had not gone particularly well. In my head my cat would meet Lee's kitten and there'd be, I dunno, maybe they'd share food, or play cards.... but instead there was screaming and claws and hissing. The upside is discovering that, for a fat girl, my cat sure can run and fight. In some ways it was just like a Christmas party - you know, when the over-jolly PA suddenly realises someone is trying to steal her cab and goes for the offender, high heels in one hand, bottle of stolen chardonnay in the other.

Anyway, it was a cold evening and I was full of pastry and precisely zero portions of fresh fruit or vegetable. So I decided to go out. Just anywhere - after all, it's a Thursday, surely there's stuff to do in London on a Thursday? I checked - there was pretty much nothing on apart from a screening of 3D Avatar at the Camden Odeon and Boyz Magazine's pick-of-the-day which was the Christmas Party at The Hoist (mistletoe in unusual places). So, I decided I'd go to Islington for a drink.

And then I looked out of the window. It was snowing. Gordon Brown Snow (all the cold, none of the charm). So I put some coal on the fire, opened a bottle of wine, and watched Blakes 7. It was dreadful, but kind of marvellous.

But tonight. Oh yes, tonight I shall try, oh so very hard, to leave the flat.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Enviro-Lego

Lego are doing market research into going green. Which is brilliant and socially responsible etc - and some of the ideas are very nice - such as boats and log cabins with real wooden bricks. But then it all goes a bit mental. As in Marketing Department mental. Someone, somewhere forgot that Lego is FUN and a TOY:



Take the eco-tour yourself.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Google-Whacked

This may be the very last time I ever use the internet. The reason being that I met someone online who works for Google. And, if I cross them, then... no searching, no gmail, no blogger, no YouTube... If I'm lucky I might get a dial-up modem and Ask Jeeves.

You see, I had a cold. Now, I get cravings with colds. One day last week it was for Monster Munch. Couldn't have enough of it. This was followed by a craving for Keith (name has been changed in the vain hope that my gmail ads aren't suddenly all from Dignitas).

Poor Keith. We hadn't even met. But there was something about him... Through my lemsip haze he seemed genuine and exciting and romantic. Plus, worked for Google. I couldn't say "no". Well, I daren't say "no" - imagine having to go back to using Netscape Navigator 3.0...

Anyway, he seemed so lovely and I couldn't wait to meet up with him last Thursday. I was stuffed full of decongestant, higher than a kite, but very enthusiastic. But he postponed - "sorry, got to work late" - apparently Google had a crisis or had invaded Mars or something. So, I waited and waited. A quick message from him - "Still at work! Nightmare! Will call when I'm out. x". So I waited a bit longer. And then, eventually, I went to bed. He will call me eventually. I know this. For he is Keith and he works for Google. He knows where I live.

The next day I meet up with my slutty friend Joshua for lunch. "How's the love life?" he asks.
"Oh, goodness me," I blather, eyeing up the salad bar, "Well, it's early days yet, but I think I've met someone really exciting. He's ever so lovely. And, guess what, he's a manager at Google!"
"Really?" says Joshua. "Last night I shagged some guy from Google. His name was Keith."
Oh.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

DoomWatch Watch: Into the Dark and The Iron Doctor



These two episodes both spring from a similar premise - what happens when computers become involved in keeping someone alive?

In Into The Dark, Patrick Troughton's head explains that his pet computer alows him to live forever, a thinking brain in a rotting body and that's fine, thank you. Only Quist turns up and has a couple of chats, and Patrick Troughton decides he'd like to die after all (well, wouldn't you rather than sit in a room with Quist - the Gordon Brown of Science?).

There's a bit more to it, but it's mostly just an excuse for Quist and Troughton to run through a few quick acting exercises and then The End. Several other issues here get discarded along the way - toxic cargo on wartime shipwrecks, running a company from beyong the grave, but mostly it's just Troughton looking a bit ill and Quist doing thoughtful cardigan acting.

Meanwhile, The Iron Doctor tells us all about a hospital ward where the patients are being kept alive by a radical computer. Only - whoops - they accidentally bought in a military computer, and it's killing off the patients and waging war against hospital staff it doesn't like.

The whole episode is about tensions in the NHS, lining up Caring Doctor and Cuddly Matron against Sinister Administrator and his Battle Computer. Quist and Fay Chantry bumble around a bit, stumble on the truth after a few people have died, and then it's up to Grumpy Computer Colin to save the day with his screwdriver.

The episode is both duller and more exciting than you think it's going to be. It starts out as being about medical ethics (can we trust a computer to prolong life?) and then switches to red tape conspiracy before turning out to be "The hospital's run by a Dalek!".

There's a few little notes about Patient Confidentiality (all the old people on the ward are under constant CCTV) and, in an odd point, clearly the view out of the Sinister Administrator's window must be fascinating because every character spends most of their time on the set crossing over and peering through the slats of his Ventian Blind. I wonder what they're seeing - is it a geriatric being given a bed bath?

Friday, December 04, 2009

nPower

Good news: After much trial and error, I have now succeeded in getting nPower to add me to their "Marketing Suppression Database".

Bad news: So far they've sent me four letters telling me that they're no longer going to contact me again. The latest letter tells me they've tried to phone me several times to tell me they're not going to contact me, and can I instead phone them within 5 working days otherwise they may not be able to fulfil my request. I ring them and say "this is weirdly like a nightmare, isn't it?"

Next time I am dating, I shall behave more like nPower.

"Hi Ustvlad, I understand you said you would call me rather than me calling you, but I am just calling you to see if that is still the case. I'm sorry - would you just mind holding for a second while I call your details up? That's lovely *blast of Leona Lewis*. Now, let me just see - do you have a reference number to hand Ustvlad? No? Don't worry, we'll just set you up on the system. Bear with me, this won't take a moment. *blast of Jedward singing Jerusalem*...."

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Prang

The other day a white van drove into me in the bus lane. I've spent ages worrying about getting knocked off my bike, but it wasn't actually that bad. My elbow and his wing mirror met at a reasonable speed. No bones broken, just a very loud snapping noise and a big bruise.

I get off my bike.

The white van stops.

The white van driver stops.

The white van driver gets out of his white van.

The white van driver walks around his van, carefully checking it for damages.

And only then does he look up from readjusting his wing mirror and say "you okay, mate?"

And that's when I start shouting at him.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

And, in other work


Very nicely, been asked to do a quick guide to Doctor Who for AOL. Have genuinely tried to make it a bit more fun than those awful "Tom Baker wore a scarf and had a robot dog" filler pieces you get.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

DoomWatch Watch: The Inquest



Best Doomwatch ever. Forget your Plastic Eaters and your Rats, this one is just great.

Oh, it's dull and cheap, but that's its charm. For a start, it's Computer Colin's episode. In every single other episode he's just mumbled "Eckee thump, I'll run it through t'computer, but ee, I've got other work ta do, ya know," but finally they give him something to do, and he absolutely shines.

With every other member of the team on holiday or off filming, Quist summons Colin to the office. "It's a studio-based courtroom drama. I can't be bothered. Off you trot, old chap" and, with a face like a lovesick haddock, off Colin slouches to go and attend an inquest into a girl who died of rabies.

Since Colin is a man of considerable girth, this features quite the stockiest guest cast of any Doomwatch episode - the world's fattest coroner, the largest ever Lady Bountiful, and the widest ever man from the ministry. It's like a Slitheen convention!

Size isn't Colin's only asset - turns out he's a great actor, and you immediately wish that DoomWatch was just him and Quist solving science crimes like a grumpy Steed and Mrs Peel.

Setting almost the entire action in a country hotel allows the episode to really unwrap a complicated scientific mystery - what killed the girl? Was it really a rabid dog? Or was it a mutant tse-tse fly escaped from the local maverick scientist's lab?

Mary Lincoln from Sybil Hall - a solid dog-breeding gal decked out in Evans' country casuals range, carefully explains her solid theory that it was a mutated fly carrying a version of rabies. A theory that has the whole village on her side - because Science Is Wrong, and the government just want to kill their dogs, the swine.

It's up to Colin to quietly, patiently knock this down. Without test-tubes or a computer he just stands there and simply, and patiently explains the process of genetic manipulation and you just go "Coooo. I've actualy learned something. Blimey, this guy's great."

Just when you're turning against Mrs Lincoln, it turns out that the rabid dog came from her farm! Gasp! She was the evil one all along, not the Sinister Scientist!

Then, in another shift, it turns out that the dog came from Sinister Scientist's lab after all... so it was him! Only... he didn't know it had rabies. The dog was stolen from his lab by the genial pub landlord's son, and he's been keeping a whole pack of rabid hounds in a shed... and the kid's been bitten himself. So if anyone's evil, it's the kid - only he was simply misguided.

Just when you think this is the most morally complicated Doomwatch yet, up pops Quist wearing what can only be described as his Battle Dungarees. He's worked it out - the rabid dog was actualy procured for the scientist by the genial pub landlord - he's effectively killed one girl, and now his own son is ill. Case closed. The Villagers rush off to get their torches and pitchforks.

Time for Doomwatch to make a quick exit, but not before Quist, with his famous sensitivity, gets to say to the landlord "Well, you'd better hope we got to your son in time. Cheerio."

And then they're off. Whole thing utterly brilliant - neat idea, some solid explanation of science, great characters and a thumping good guest cast. More like this please.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sad Face

I remember once laughing at my friend Lee when he announced that he was stopping seeing someone because of "their appalling sex face".

You know what, I thought, surely it can never be that bad? I mean, I've seen a fair few, some of them quite 2012. There was Craig the Builder in Oxford who had a bed made out of an old car. His "moment of pleasure" was so extreme that it was like an epileptic fit, which means that I've been in an indoor car crash. It's true. The whole thing tipped over like a smart car in a hurricane and Craig landed on top of me still spasming like a landed trout with his foot stuck in the glove compartment.

But anyway, that's not my point. My point is that I could never quite see how anyone could manage to find a sex face so deeply appalling that they'd stop seeing someone... and then....

Well, I was dating this guy over the summer. And he was lovely. Cultured, smart, nice. Only he reminded me of someone. Just a bit. And especially when he was approaching lift off.

But I couldn't quite put my finger on it when I was putting my finger on it. There was definitely something familiar about him, but I just couldn't quite work out what. Until one day Lee asked me to describe him.

"Oh," I said, "He's like a sexy... a sexy... Martin Clunes."

Lee stared at me. And I suddenly realised the full horror of what I'd just said.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Online dating fail

I receive the following message this week from an 18 year old:

"Hi. I fancy a good seeing-to from an old man. U up for it?"

Ouch.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Brighton

I've had a slight cold this week. Which has been useful in that it's meant that I've been able to have a succession of days of mild lunchtime drinking (dunno why, but whenever I've got a cold, my body stops finding alcohol a struggle).

Yesterday I stomped around Brighton with friends, which was marvellous and a bit drunken and involved sitting in a bar working my way through the bespoke cocktail menu before getting on a train home. Why is Brighton so easy to get to but so hard to leave? Is there some kind of magnetic pull, or is it just that the trains are odd?

Anyway, brilliantly, I sat on the train back watching cluthing this:


It is, of course, wrong to assemble the Lego Christmas Toy Shop until December. But oh happy day!

Also on the train I watched the first episode of Fringe Series 2. By the end of Series 1, plucky Olivia Dunham still hadn't cracked a smile, lightened up, or done anything in the way of likeable or warm. She's got the screen presence of a wine cooler.

Without spoilers, series 2 opens with Olivia in hospital, and the regular cast getting on just fine without her. They've even got a new female FBI agent - she's perky, smart and sassy, is clearly fun to be around and likes the central heating on. She probably owns a shitload of cats.

By the end of the episode, it's clear that poor old Deadly Dull Dunham is on probation. When the rest of the cast catch up with her on hospital and deliver lines like "Oh it's great to see you're better" and "We really can't live without you" it's clear they're actually thinking the exact opposite. But will Agent Dunham learn her lesson quickly enough to save the show? Hmmn.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Waters of Arse

I got back from holiday to find my flat flooded by the toilet upstairs. It took me a while to notice, but I'm gradually discovering pots and pans in the kitchen cupboards full of strangely coloured water. Plus there's a smell - not a nice smell. It turns out, of course, that Camden don't particularly care about sorting this out, and neither do the two flats upstairs, each of them happily blaming the other.

Not amusing, but there we go. I'm having one of those weeks, really - nice things are ,erely the sandwich filling for the bread of bitterness, the jam in the pop tart of misery. So, I had a lovely holiday - and then come back to find my flat slighty pooey. Equally, the world's most attractive Slovakian comes round... and gives me his cold.

Cheeringly, though, last night I went out for drinks with the Perfectons, and they were as stunning as ever. One of them is currently saving Surry from environmental collapse (2012 for the home counties), the other is juggling server farm administration with starring in a ballet. He showed me the pictures on his iPhone, and my tiny heart broke just a little.

We were having a lovely evening - or, at least, they were ignoring my cold and telling me about their conquest of a Latvian Florist - cold, dead eyes of a killer, but fabulous and high-maintenance. I've asked for his details, as, now I've got a cat, I figure I could handle high-maintenance gays.

Anyway, suddenly a good-looking man lands face down on our table. He looks up at us, shrugs, apologises in French, and is then shoved out of the bar by a very drunk man who staggers up to us. "Excuse my friend!" he squawks. "That's Harry Potter! From the future! Which is why he's French!"

He explains that his tipsy friend is an actor who may, just may, have been cast in the last Harry Potter film as a grown-up Harry. Or, and this is where it got confusing, Harry Potter's grown-up hands. "Beautiful fingers," the drunk man sighed, "He does typing for me, but now he's getting proper work with those lovely hands. Bless him."

He pulled up a chair and joined us (why do drunks do this?). Clearly, sumo-throwing a Frenchman onto our table was his version of a calling card, and now he was going to tell us the story of his life. Or, at least, he coughed and said "I'm an entrepreneur."

This is a terrible thing to call yourself - I remember trying to rent out a box-room on the Abingdon Road 12 years ago and being surprised to receive a call from someone who said they were "An International Shipping Magnate". This is kind of in the same league.

But eventually he ran out of things to say, squeezed one of the Perfectons on the shoulder and staggered out into the night.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Note to self

If you *must* eye up men on the train, don't pick on the ones wearing a black tie.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Door to Door

I get back from leaving the cat in Plymouth so I can go on holiday and I find on my doorstep a complete DVD of After Henry and an nPower salesman.

Ordinarily, this raises my blood pressure to Telegraph-reading Colonel. But recently I've discovered I can exist in two states at the same time.

As an example: Both jealous when a friend gets a plum bit of work, and also skippily excited for them. I may be unable to pat my head and my stomach at the same time, but I can manage jealous delight.

And the same thing's just happened. On the one hand boiling fury that nPower are trying to sell me crappy electricity again. On the other hand, they've switched tactics and have sent round a seriously hot Greek student.

So I listen to his sales spiel, and remember a friend of mine from Leeds who had to try and sell utilities on an army base and regularly put out as an extra incentive to bored soldiers. And I think "hmmn, how desperate are nPower?"

Friday, November 06, 2009

Work displacement activity

I've run out of work. Honestly, genuinely run out of work. I'm waiting for feedback on about five different projects and to hear if another couple are commissioned. So, in the meantime, I am twiddling my thumbs.

It's maddening. It's like being on holiday without, you know, being on holiday. Reading a book feels like skiving rather than relaxing, and the only thing I can legitimately do is go to the gym, so I'm suddenly avoiding it like the plague. There are about three different left-over DIY projects I should be doing, but who really feels like sorting out hanging baskets in November?

So, instead, I keep finding myself in strange corners of London with gentlemen of leisure. You know, foreign students, music producers, IT consultants with a day off, bar men. We're a strange, shiftless bunch and, after a few days of it, I'm thinking "you know, honestly, I'd rather be playing around with Lego and working through all those DVDs I've always meant to watch". It's enormously exciting, and there's a certain joy to suddenly being in Croydon, but it's also... curiously pointless. I guess, like Loose Women and ebay, it's an obsession that only comes around when there's nothing else on.

Plus, I've come up with a new rule for internet dating: The keener they are to come over, the less likely. "I'm heading out now" means "I'm heading out never". It's the laid-back ones who are the low-hanging fruit.

Hanging out with afternoon vampires has a certain charm, though. Especially if they're reassuringly nutty. Take Eduardo the Spanish Programmer. His living room is full of games consoles. He's paused some driving game seemingly mid crash, and a giant steering wheel sits on the coffee table surrounded by condoms. "We play on the couch," he says. I've always worried about gays who "play". I guess it lacks the anglo-saxon brutality of some of the terms, but there's also that slight naffness ("We love to play together" ranks up there with "I don't bite, unless you want me to lol" in cyber-drabness).

It's like we have to make the extraordinary somehow boring - pausing an afternoon's gaming to order in a total stranger for sex - utterly natural. Of course, then Eduardo says something totally unnatural: "Please don't kiss me. I find two men kissing... I don't like it, yes?" And weirdly, I wonder if Nick Griffin would be pleased or not.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Pony tale

There's a running sketch in the new series of Armstrong and Miller about a suave man with a ponytail which induces nausea:



So anyway, there I am at the weekend in bed with an Italian, and I suddenly realise he's got a pony tail. This is a puzzler which sets three things off in my head.
  1. How did I not notice this before?
  2. It's really a very, very short pony tail, and honestly, I've shagged mullets from Swansea so this shouldn't be much worse, but somehow it really truly is.
  3. That Armstrong and Miller sketch.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Candles



There are people who'll say turning up to the candelit vigil for Ian Baynham was the wrong thing to do. You know - it won't achieve much; it's easy to make an empty gesture without having to engage messily with the real issues; you'll have to listen to the London Gay Men's Chorus. But sometimes you just do stuff anyway.

And I'm glad we did. To start with, it looked like an utter wash-out. Joe and I turned up to Trafalgar Square at 7pm and there were a couple of hundred gays and some candles. It looked like any Ikea on a Saturday morning.

But we had a nice seat on a fountain, and we waited. An hour later, you couldn't move. Trafalgar Square was filled. It's rare that you see that - just the sheer number of thousands of people just standing there with twinkling candles, filling every corner and all the way up the steps of the National Gallery. It's just impressive.

Especially as it went on for two and a half hours. The best speech was from Ian's friends who told us all the proper human things about the man - that he was a terrible cook and liked old films and that made him a little bit less of a symbol and a little bit more of a man who really didn't deserve to be kicked to death in Trafalgar Square.

And then there were endless speeches from, oh let's make it up, the Co-Chair Of London Lesbi-Gay-Trandgender-Equal-Diversitas. You know, "I'd just like to agree with everything that's been said before and to agree that, in addition, we should all unite and stand together against..." bliddy blah. We are standing together, comrade. There's ten thousand of us here, right now, with candles and it's sodding cold, so will you shut up so we can all go to a bar before it rains, please?

The candles were a mixed bunch - Ikea had donated a few thousand, we'd bought along some candle-holders, some had improvised theirs out of coffee cups, and a couple next to us had brought along a scented bathroom candle that filled the air with a tang of honey and vanilla.

The two minutes' silence was as tragic and funny as these things always are. We stood there, mute, as a police car on its way somewhere jolly important threw on the sirens and then sat motionless behind a bendy bus. Thanks the police. And also thanks to the speaker who pointed out that the conviction rate for homophobic hate crimes is less than 1 per cent. Which makes you think "well, I'm right to be worried every time I leave a bar alone. And not just because I'm leaving a bar alone."

After the silence came (unexpected joy!) Sue Perkins reading (unexpected horror!) a list of the victims over the last few months. It was a surprisingly long list.

And that was about it, really. Having mocked the appearance of anti-BNP protestors last week, I'm smugly pleased that we were a fucking good looking crowd. I begged Joe to check Grindr on his iPhone, but he said it would explode.

So, instead, we went to a pub. And then, fittingly, on the walk back to the Tube, I got obviously and stunningly cruised. The guy was amazing - not just good-looking but his sheer bold cheek, outside Leicester Square on a Friday night. And I turned, and looked back at him. And he looked back at me, and then with a smile and a wave, vanished into the night.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Doom Watch Watch: Human Time Bomb



Another brilliant episode. This one's about 1970s tower blocks. The developer says they're wonderful, DoomWatch aren't convinced, so they send plucky Dr Fay Chantry to investigate. After six weeks living in a tower block, she's utterly crackers.

DoomWatch's initial reaction is "pull yourself together, silly woman", but then, after a few scotches, they look into it and realise that the building itself is driving the residents mad... and Faye will be next. Or, as Dr Quist puts it when dictating his report on the way home: "Why, when birds are caged together it's necessary to cut off their beaks to prevent them from tearing each other apart... Birds... Fay!" before rushing off to stop her beating a handyman to death with a hammer.

It's a drab and distressing story of how what looks like an enormous conspiracy is actually just a sad matter of people being driven very gently crazy by small windows, bad lifts and flimsy cupboards. It's easy enough to laugh at the general datedness of the episode, but the contrast between Fay in her tiny box and Dr Quist swanning around posh London clubs is telling indeed.

Friday, October 23, 2009

BNP

Well, you know, I rather enjoyed that. Nick Griffin turned up on Question Time, there was a lot of social outrage, some wilful misreporting in the press, and a lot of sadly-dressed protestors outside the BBC (seriously - can there not be some kind of makeover show for these people? If even the BNP are smart enough to stick suits on in order to be taken more seriously you'd think that... oh... never mind).

The show itself was curious and yet marvellous, sickening and yet heart-warming. I'm not going to talk about the politics of the whole thing, as everyone knows I'm far to stupid to really get the whole thing, and by the time the show started I was about a bottle of wine down, but I am going to risk talking about the overall feel.

For one thing - Bonnie Greer. New favourite thing, clearly holding a doctorate in dismissively direct engagement without looking at her opponent once. Watching her and Nick Griffin sit next to each other was like watching The X Files after you realised that Duchovny and Anderson loathed each other. Painful yet brilliant.

Jack Straw - looked incredibly nervous, made a couple of neat points, but then kept on and on and on with bloody statistics. Yawn. It was a night for grand gestures, not for quoting what sounded like the small print on my credit card statement.

Token Liberal Democrat. Was Token Liberal Democrat.

Sayeeda Warsi. Hooray for the Tories finding a female Muslim lawyer. Except for the awkward bit when Dimbleby skewered her on her beliefs about gays and she managed not to let out a surprised yelp followed by a reasonably deft support of all things gay without actually specifically supporting anything gay at all. She. Will. Go. Far.

And finally The Griff. The brilliant thing about hateful death harpie Jan Moir is that she proved to be Nick Griffin's stumbling block. Up until then he had done reasonably. And "reasonably" is a word I'm sticking to. Everyone had come prepared with print-outs of awful things the man had said and he'd deflected each one with a wryly amused shake of the head. He'd not engaged with a single one, just given the impression "well that's wrong and it's sad you bring that up". Which, given that each and every thing he was challenged on was loathsome... well that was about the best you could manage.

Before the Jan Moir Moment there'd been a few utter howlers - like when he admitted he'd shared a platform with someone from the Klu Klux Klan... but from a non-violent sect. And the audience just zomg-ed. Oh, and that bit where he proved he liked Jews because he approved of them bombing seven shades of shit out of Hamas. And a few other equally "oh, oh dear, just... no... i mean... no." But overall there was that slight feeling of "This man is utterly repellant but trying his hardest to cover it up."

And then came Nick Griffin giving his opinion on Jan Moir. And he started off with quite a neat little sidestep:

"I personally believe that in the case of someone like Stephen Gately who's died the old maxim 'say nothing if not good'. So, I think it was wrong."

Which is a fairly neat way of condeming Jan Moir but also hiding a lot of baggage under the phrase "not good". But then up popped Nick Griffin's glorious petard:

"A lot of people find the site of two men kissing in public a bit creepy. I understand that homosexuals don't understand that, but that is how a lot of us feel. A lot of Christians feel that way."

Brilliantly awful. Utterly terrible. And yet it was a Happy Meal of a clanger. Glorious in the moment, but then immediately afterwards came the sickening realisation that this was his vote-winning moment. The point when a few people sat at home went "Oh, you know, he has a point..."

And that made me sad. And then Jan Moir posted a follow-up to last week. Curiously hidden away on the Daily Mail's site, her new article carries no advertising - could it be that no brand wants to be associated with her? Perhaps not even her own newspaper? The interesting thing about her defence (it's not an apology) is that, even if you give her the benefit of the doubt, she's still owning up to be a gloating death harpie. And I know I've used that phrase before, but she's worth it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Posture

"Hmmn," says Mr Oak, my trainer at the gym. "There's something wrong with your posture. Do you work at a desk?"

No. Mostly on a sofa, but sat up nice and straight.

"Typing away at your lappy?" I should explain. Oak is very upbeat, even for an Australian. His girlfriend is "girly", chocolate is "choccy", and his bike is "Madge".

Yes. I am typing away at my lappy.

"Show me."

I show him.

"Right," he says. "You know, there's something wrong. Why is your laptop on your shin? It's too low and too far away and you're reaching over, and that strain is pulling out your shoulders. We're gonna have to work hard to correct that. What's causing that? Can't you move lappy closer? You know, to your lap."

"No," I say. "That's where catty sits."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gay of the Week

It has been a while since I last won the gay lottery. Well, a couple of months, really.

I have avoided writing about this because... okay, I was waiting for him to call. He didn't. I never really expected him to, but you now how it is. Every now and then... Anyway, several men have flowed under bridges since then, and I've decided that he's simply moved back to Australia. But, just in case, I'm avoiding the pub he works in for the rest of my life.

Anyway, he was brilliant. For a start, he didn't just work in a gay bar, but was "Boyz Bar Stud Of The Week". That's right. I was shagging Boyz Bar Stud Of The Week. Read that and weep, 20 year-old me.

He was too good to be true. Eerily so. Apart from being good-looking and Australian, and a post-graduate psychologist, he worked behind a bar, had effort hair and spent about an hour going through my DVD collection giving things marks out of five. Plus his idea of pillow talk was to explain X-Men continuity to me.

And, as I said, sadly, he didn't call.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A normal heart

I went out for a date last week with a thoroughly normal man. We got on fine, but there was no spark there. I am wondering if this is due to his sheer well-adjustedness.

There was a reason for this. His ex-boyfriend had been second-on-the-right-and-straight-on-till-Bat Shit Mental, and his (rather understanding) boss had sent him for therapy. As a result of which he was eerily calm, like a sexy buddha.

As in he's sat on a plane next to a man sobbing "we're all going to die" and he says, "Hey, I know you're feeling some concerns. Would you like to talk them through with me?" while the woman next to him runs down the aisle screaming "terrorist!"

And, as we're sat down in the smoking garden, a girl is temporarily abandoned by her drunk twink. She sighs and Normal Man looks at her, smiling wisely. "I understand your frustrations, but ask yourself if he brings to the friendship more than you're taking away?"

I found him thoroughly marvellous, although it did make me ponder two things:

1) What would he be like in bed? ("I absolutely value your exertions but was wondering if you could...")

2) Perhaps I shouldn't have had that skinhead before going out. It now seems cheap.

Anyway, he's applying for work as a barman. Give him three months and London will be a much better adjusted place.

Friday, October 16, 2009

News: You can die from being gay but not from being a bigot

The Daily Mail's had an interesting fortnight. First they manage an article on the death of Kevin Mcgee that, despite a simperingly sympathetic tone manages, oh so subtly, to say lots of nasty, silly things.

And now, Jan Moir is famous for her article on the death of Stephen Gately, which is best summed up as "He died of Gay".

It's good-old fashioned arms-crossed "well, it was probably drugs. And if not, then he got what he deserved, didn't he?"

Sadly, even the Daily Mail's own version of the the police report contradicts Moir's ravings. Stephen Gately didn't die alone in a sinister "prayer-like position". He and Andrew curled up on the sofa and dozed off after fiddling with the Bulgarian.

Frankly, I can think of worse last evenings than going out with the man you love, pulling an Eastern European stunner, and then falling quietly asleep in your bloke's arms.

Thanks to the comments section on Jan Moir's article, it appears a surprising number of people have had loved ones drop dead in a similar way. By which I mean sudden deathy-fluidy-lungs, rather than after spit-roasting a male model.

The thing the Daily Mail is incensed by is that they were having their cake and eating it. Clearly they were in a functional open relationship - a lot of gays are (and several of them still text, the sweethearts) and if it works for them, then hurrah.

The circumstances of his death - slipping away in his sleep acts against the Mail's drive of "well, it must be some kind of gay disco drug, obviously". When people die from a ketamin/GBH cocktail, it is not a gentle passing into the good night, but more
like Michael Bay remaking the Exorcist in a caravan.

UPDATE: Couldn't follow Charlie Brooker's advice to go on to the PCC on Friday, as it appears 21,000 other people were doing so. But here's what I sent them:

Hello

I would like to complain about the above article. As a gay man I believe I am "directly affected" by the cotent of the article. I personally found that

1.i) it portrayed an "inaccurate, misleading or distorted" view of homosexuality,

1.iii) failed to "distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact" by suggesting that Stephen Gately's death was as a result of his lifestyle choices rather than natural causes.

12.1 & ii) it also clearly failed to observe that "Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story" and such references were "prejudicial or pejorative" by saying "it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships", linking his death to the suicide of another gay man, and the use of the words "sleazy" and "ooze".

5.1) Finally, although I am not Stephen Gately's mother, if I was and had read:
"In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively" shortly after reading that "his mother is still insisting that her son died from a previously undetected heart condition that has plagued the family", I believe I would have strong grounds for offence.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

DoomWatch Watch: Flight Into Yesterday



Every now and then an episode of DoomWatch comes along which reminds you why this is a great series, and not just a show about chain-smoking men in turtlenecks and the dolly birds they prey on.

Welcome to Flight Into Yesterday, a creepy, nervy story about jetlag as a tool of industrial sabotage.

It's a very simple idea. Quist nearly loses his job after getting off a flight fro New York clearly hammered. He protests his innocence, but the Minister takes his place on the next flight. And sitting in the seat next to him is a suave PR guy who wonders if he can have a word? And perhaps the Minister would like a glass of brandy?

What transpires is that Suave PR Guy has been flying the world using jetlag for brainwashing, plying his victims with booze and food and not letting them sleep with his constant small talk.

We watch as the Minister drinks and chainsmokes his way across timezones, becoming more and more incoherent and fragile while his tormentor becomes more and more smooth. Perhaps another drink, Minister?

It reaches its shocking conclusion when the plane touches down and the Minister drops from a heart attack. "You overdid it that time," says John Ridge smagly, and goes off to deliver the Minister's speech.

This is both plausible and dated - but in a proper way. This is a world that exploits the businessman's cliche of "work hard and play hard", fertile ground that was reworked in an advert from my chidlhood of a businessman flying to New York into the jaws of the corporate sharks waiting for him. "He's on the Red Eye" they gloat. But, thanks to BA, he arrives fresh as a daisy.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Show me on the dolly..

Good news! I'm not a paedophile! I never thought I was - I can't stand children, which makes the whole thing a non-starter, but this week I got Definite Reassuring Proof that I'm not.

This proof is so good that it overcomes
  • the flat full of lego,
  • the good view of a playground,
  • that tabloid "All Gays Are Paedos" thing.
  • the "would you like to come home and play with the cat?" line which works reasonably well on grown up men. Perhaps, you know, I'm unconsciously honing my technique?


Turns out, no. Not a paedo! The proof being that my friends have a toddler. She's adorable (as much as children can be), she's very intelligent, and we have family evenings together watching EastEnders (aka "Mr Shiny Head House")

But, and here's the good news, now she's up and about and mobile, her balance isn't so good. And she'll grab anything nearby for support. And, as I discovered the other day, this means Anything in the same way that a cat sitting on your lap will sharpen its claws on Anything. So, with my falcon crests in a tottering toddler's vice-like grip, what went through my head? Apart from searing pain, the thought "Well, yes, this is the singularly least erotic experience ever. Excellent."

Of course, the second thought was "How do I gently disentangle her without passing out from agony?".

My third thought was that the English language wasn't made for the sentence "Your daughter is grabbing my balls too hard."

Monday, October 05, 2009

Doom Watch Watch: Web Of Fear

This episode opens with the best shot of anything on television ever:


There. The Minister dictating to his secretary. In the nude! In a sauna! Every business meeting should be like this!

An anticlimax is inevitable. Yellow Fever breaks out on an island health farm. At the same time a maverick scientist is enjoying a second honeymoon on the island. And why have the spiders turned blue?

Turns out Maverick Scientist has a reputation for Not Thinking Things Through. He's made a virus that kills off moths. But the spiders ate the moths which triggered off a latent virus in the spiders which could destroy Penzance. Has the man never heard the song "I know an old lady who swallowed a fly?". Well, perhaps he'll die.

By the half hour mark, the Minister is out of the sauna, everyone's turning yellow, and the Maverick Scientist has gone to look for spiders down an old mine. What could possibly go wrong? Wronger?

Yup. The mine collapses! And it's full of blue spiders! And John Ridge is trapped down there with only a feather duster and sheepskin gloves to protect himself! But the good news is there's going to be a bumper crop of apples on the island this year...

Thursday, October 01, 2009

On no longer learning a language

I have stopped learning Turkish. There we go. I started in 2000, stopped in 2002, and took it up again over the summer. And was really enjoying it - in an intellectually horrible way.

But Tuesday night was the first night of the new term. And, it turns out, new teacher. The old one was perfect - your typical laid-back Turkish bloke. We'd potter through genitives, have a coffee break, do a few more declensions, an anecdote about politics, and then clock off early.

The new tutor was your typical Turkish New Woman. Stunning, vivacious, intelligent, and hard-working. We found ourselves merged into her class from last year. They adored her, talked Turkish throughout, mixed tenses and plurals, referred to lovingly laminated handouts, and made knowing jokes about the possessive genitive. It was nightmarish.

Admittedly, I could have helped. I could have done a bit more preparation, but I've been manically trying to meet a deadline, and the idea of taking an afternoon off for revision seemed a luxury. But the whole thing was intellectually intimidating and not in a nice way.

And here lies the point. If you're learning a language just for fun, perhaps you don't want the neatest, most efficient teacher. You want it to be challenging, but no more so than a wordsearch in Take A Break. I wanted it to be relaxed and fun, but this was agonising and a little humiliating. The three of us from the other class ended the lesson pretty much huddled together with a shared look of fear as the teacher yet again said "But you have not covered the notions of space-owners? Albert will you care to demonstrate this briefly on the blackboard for our new arkadash?"

I stomped out at the end a broken man. It was like the one time I attended an aerobics class and discovered that there was more to it than regular attendance at G-A-Y during the Whigfield era. But, by a stroke of good fortune, the course administrator got in touch. "There's a mistake on your credit card number - can you correct it?"

I explained how I didn't plan on going back. "Oh, her." he said. "Quite understand. Consider your application shredded."

So, I'm suddenly intellectally free on Tuesdays. I have nothing to do. There is a Turkish word for this. It encompases everything from denying the existence of God through to running out of soup. It is "Yok."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Credit Crunch Britain

The recession ain't over yet. The local sex club has launched a loyalty card.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The nice side of hypocrisy

Earlier post: Blah blah blah won't read reviews blah blah.

This post: Accidentally find lovely review of new book on Den of Geek. Apparently I am "occasionally touching", which really does describe the last few weeks nicely. Hurrah. Stern principles out of window. Whee.

In other news: Lost Symbol was thunderingly good read (apart from wobble on page 430 when villain's plan is revealed) and my friend Darian took me out in Dalston. Travelling to a gay bar by bus feels just soooper cool. Especially when you're being told "No, not this stop. This is the dangerous stop. We wait till the stop past the Russian mafia bar."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jackson Stops

At a gay bar in Islington. I notice there is grafitti above the long urinal. Going from left to right it says "S... M... L... XL".

Monday, September 14, 2009

A busy week for guilty pleasures

Dan Brown's new book is published and it's the last ever issue of The London Paper. I'm quite excited about both these things.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

True Blood and the Singleton

Surely by now you're watching True Blood (The Ryan Kwanten Nekkid Shagging Hour). But have you walked past one of the books in Borders? Ooh, you've thought. Aren't they classy? Shall we have a look at a cover?



Gosh. Very moody. Very sinister. Oh so Twilight. Perfectly in keeping with the show.

But hang on a moment. Shall we see how those books were first jacketed?



Crikey. Er. Crikey.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sorry Alan Turing!

Gordon Brown has said sorry. Not for anything he was directly responsible for, but for a previous government driving Alan Turing to eat a poisoned apple after locking him up in a crazy house.

Poor bugger. It's curious the way these things work out isn't it? You invent computers and swing the war and then afterwards get caught trousering another man and immediately there's talk of "loose lips" and suddenly you're a nodding eunuch in a mental home.

Alternatively, you're a Nazi rocket scientist who killed thousands? Well, why not come to American and have a lovely life at NASA?

We have much to thank Alan Turing for, although who knows what he'd make of internet dating. He'd probably come up with a formula for it. God knows, some of the guys I've chatted to wouldn't pass the Turing Test.

The sad note about it is the campaigner on the Today Programme. It's well worth a listen. She manages instantly to come across as a moaning minnie for whom nothing is ever good enough. "Well, we're grateful for the apology, I'm sure, but you must remember that Bletchley Park is in a terrible state". Sigh.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A year of cat



I've had a cat for a year. I've spent most of that year thinking that it's the fattest cat in the world, until my parents took her to the vet to try and sort out her tangled hair and brought her back shaved.

"Oh," says my mother down the phone, "She's tiny. You can see her ribs."

By all accounts, underneath all that fur the poor thing was one meal away from the RSPCA. So, having spent a year telling me it was hungry, the cat is now wandering around going "See? Told you so." It's also remarkably more affectionate, but I'm putting it down to the cat being cold.

The cat has enjoyed its month in the country, spending it proudly dragging in dead animals. Now it's back in the flat it contents itself with hiding cigarette lighters and looking disapproving. See? Still a boyfriend replacement.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Almost a review

"Possibly interesting" says someone of new book before it comes out. Well, I should certainly hope so. The internet's a funny place where almost anything you've done/are about to do can be instantly commented on. About the only exceptions, mercifully, are Gentleman's Dating Sites. Can you imagine the horror of that? ("Tries very hard but not as good as last time. One for completists only. 2 out of 10").

Mind you, reactions to last book continue polarised. Good: "Awesome. The villains are gods who come to Cardiff to save the gay scene from mullets - WHAT?" to Bad: "Good. But the fanfic out there is better."

It's always going to be the case when you're playing with someone else's toys - as much as they're owned by telly makers, in the spin-off world the characters are very much co-owned by the fans, and it's a bit cheeky to ask them to shell out cash for a book that makes them think "um, no, i'd rather they didn't do that".

I do hope some people like new book. But not everyone will. I'm sure I'll read some of the reviews - naturally I'll tend to look up any kind ones. And any unkind ones? Well, I'll probably look at them eventually, think very hard about what I've done, and either learn from my mistakes or cut-copy-and-paste bad review into next book. Not that I've done that this time. Oh no.

Ah well. Perhaps I can pay Zoe Griffin to review it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Monday, September 07, 2009

Curious

A letter arrives from a local pensioner daycare centre. Apparently a crate of author copies of my new book have been sent to them by mistake.

Sometimes, my life just writes itself.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The upgrade

Readers of Entertainment Weekly and about no-one else will know the controversy over Jon & Kate + 8, the US reality show about a firecracker, her doormat, and their eight kids.

Of course, once fame beckoned, Jon ran for freedom shacking up with, seemingly, his wife's plastic surgeon's daughter. Since then things have been rocky, but America seems bemused.

And then comes the news that Jon's cancelled a public appearence, replaced by Ryan Kwanten. Ryan... Kwanten. That one. Off True Blood. You know the one I mean. The naked one who the plot keeps getting in the way of.

Let's just run this one by you again, slowly.

JON:


RYAN:


Seriously. I'd love to imagine the phone call. "Sorry, no, slightly sullied family man's pulled out of your casino opening. But don't panic. I can offer you the shagger from True Blood."

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Direct-to-DVD


Sarah Connor could get direct-to-DVD finale, said a barman at G-A-Y before asking you to move out of the way as he totally needs that bit of counter to lean on and look moody whilst checking Grindr.

*lets out girly scream of excites*

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Death of Zen



Goodbye then, trusty Creative Zen Media player. We've had some times. You've played a lot of terrible music and some great Radio Four. Remember when I showed a video on you to a BBC Future Media Exec and they said "oh, but don't you need a TV Licence for that, sweets?"

You've been smashed and you've still worked, you've diligently played every format, you've been held together with sellotape for the last year... but you've been a good friend.

Now alas, you're utterly shagged. And I don't know what to replace you with. Do I upgrade you to your credit-card sized replacement? Despite my sexuality, I just can't get an iPhone as it won't play most of the media formats I use and isn't available on my phone network.

Temporarily, I've got a £20 new generation portable Digital Radio. And it's proved what I've always feared... Digital Radio is fucked. It's like mobile broadband - it works perfectly if you're in Central London and stand very still.

Digital Radio's been around longer than most people have had the internet, but the idea that they still haven't produced something that can receive Radio 4 on a day with a "y" in it is laughable.

Here's a hilarious piece as a BBC's correspondent tries to test in-car digital radios. Utter Radio Fail:

Could Digital Radio Switchover cost Labour the next general election? The middle-class middlebrow heartland will take almost anything, but not the loss of the Archers in 2015.

[ PS: Dear BBC News. It's lovely that you offer "please embed this clip in your blog" on video clips, but why is it the fattest embed code ever, far wider than blog templates, and immediately stops working if you try and resize it? ]

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Alex Reid

Look, this is a difficult subject, and I've been avoiding it, but we may as well talk about it. The next Mrs Jordan:



He may have a face like a reject-shop Phillip Olivier, but he's got a body so tough you could ride safely around Afghanistan in it. Plus he likes fighting and has done a movie where he doesn't knock before entering.

The downside is, of course, that he's going out with Jordan, who is increasingly looking like a genetic blend of Essex Girl, Preying Mantis and Drag Queen. Now she's rolled over St Andre like a monster truck over a smart car, taking on a cage fighter seems the next logical step.

This is a woman who has few challenges left, and watching her shred one of the world's hardest men without even creasing her forehead is going to be fun indeed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Parent update

So, the cat is still on holiday in Plymouth. She's been hunting things and has been shaven (i cannot wait to see this). My parents display a euphoric delight whenever cat presents them with something dead which outstrips their muted "is that good?" response to my A Levels.

Mum, meanwhile, isn't doing well. Her broken finger which she tried to reset with duct tape caused a minor sensation at the health centre, resulting in an operation, some rebreaking, stitches and plastic surgery. Not good. My mother, with an ex-nurse's resilience, thinks it's a giant fuss over nothing. Upside, though, is finally getting to say to my mother "I told you so." It just doesn't feel that comforting.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cigarettes and Lesbians

It's Saturday night. I'm shattered. I've been working all day and should really go out properly but instead make it to the local bar.

I've got the smoking terrace pretty much to myself, apart from a group of gays in the distance. They're actors. I can tell this cos they're saying things like "Why do you still have a personal trainer? You're not in Spooks now" and so on.

Anyway, out of the flat, quiet drink, relax. Bliss. Suddenly two old lesbians sit down at my table. One is dressed as a pirate, the other is wrapped in floaty tie-dye and wears a child's t-shirt as a shawl. "We'll sit here, Moonpaw," says tie-dye to pirate.

They sit down. I smile at them weakly, thinking "Of all the empty tables, why me? Why can't you pick on the fagtors?"

They make small talk. Or rather tie-dye says "Good evening, my child," and Pirate says "Can I have one of your cigarettes?"

I say no to this. I've just decided this is my new resolution and I'm seeing how it goes.

Pirate says: "Fuck you. I'm Madonna's daughter."

Tie-Dye says: "You owe us nothing, child. But positivity is everything. Why, I gave away fifty-thousand pounds once."

She smiles serenely and steals my lighter.

Tie-Dye goes on to explain how she gave her inheritance away to really needy deserving people and now lives off benefits while counselling and writing book reviews about world peace. She is, I can tell, a Good Person. I don't take to her at all.

Her list of donors includes "the High Priestess of Avalon who needed £2,000 to clear her mortgage, and of course I offered that." And I'm thinking "Two grand left on her mortgage? That's pennies. The Priestess saw you coming."

Pirate will occasionally mutter "I fucked Freud's father". Pirate has a walking stick and scowls at me. Pirate has clearly not forgiven me for not giving her a cigarette. I have not forgiven Pirate for dressing like a pirate but making it look like it isn't fun.

I think about lighting another cigarette, but Tie-Dye has stolen my lighter. "And then," she is saying, "An actor friend, very famous, needed emergency tooth whitening. Of course, I've never seen a penny of it back. But I believe that what we give we receive ten fold. I don't believe in God but I do cherish the World Soul."

"You're a fucking moron," growls the Pirate.

I go home thoroughly defeated.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

DoomWatch Watch: By The Pricking Of My Thumbs


Some schoolboys blow up another one. Rather than expel them all, the Headmaster just gets rid of the tallest.

His explanation? The boy's tall for his age.

The tall boy's adopted father happens to be the kind of journalist Ben Goldacre sprinkles on his shreddies, and launches a campaign for the reinstatement of his bomb-making son, arguing that this is all to do with an extra Y chromosome.

Cue Doomwatch. Rather than say "What about the child who got blown up?" they head off to try and stop a tall boy throwing himself under an airplane. Luckily John's slept with the right dollybird who can explain all about illegal genetic testing.


He then goes to the school, finds some boys, and gives them cigarettes and money until they tell him what he wants to know. Some science stuff happens here, but I'm just staring at the screen thinking:
a) This is horrible.
b) Paedophiles had slim-pickings in the 1970s.

We then head to Gatwick, where the tall boy is standing on the runway waiting to be mown down by a plane. He has done this by turning left at the sign which says "coach station" which tells you that while the 70s were tough for pederasts, they were a golden age for drug smuggling.

Doomwatch shout some science at the boy through a loud hailer and he isn't run over by a plane. Latest DoomTotty is called Dr Fay Chantry. She has expressive hair and a frozen face. She's up to something. Dr Quist delivers a speech about how, well, boys will be boys and it's nothing to do with genetics. The End.

I'm fairly sure I missed something here, but I couldn't say what. This episode also features some of the best arched eyebrow acting on television.


Please note: Man on the left - evil eyebrows of a misguided scientist aware of the error of his ways. Man on the right - concerned eyebrows of a moral crusader.

Friday, August 21, 2009

And in Bristol

We are outside Queenshilling, Britol's Premier Gay Venue TM. It is a Wednesday night. All that can be heard from within is a karaoke slaughter of "New York, New York". We are all smoking. It seems the nicest thing to do.

A yoof staggers up. He's about 7 foot tall and 3 inches wide. He slumps into the club and then comes out again. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a handfull of beans. "Coffee beans," he says, "They keep you going." He throws them into his mouth and chews noisily.

He then looks at me. "Can I buy a cigarette for a pound?"

This is the oldest trick in the book. Has anyone ever taken the money? I hand him a cigarette and vow never to fall for this again. Of course, I will.

The guy weaves around on the pavement and then sits down on it in a grasshopper tangle of elbow and knee.

"Good night?" he asks.

We nod. We are very drunk.

"It's shit here," he says.

We nod. We are still very drunk.

"I'm fifteen," he tells us.

We all take a step back. We're not that drunk.

He looks at us all with a glazed smile and tells us he's a car mechanic. He mimes drilling, making a "shunkshunk" noise and smiles some more.

"But aren't you at school?" one of us asks.

He shrugs. Cash in hand. He'd like to own a lambourghini when he grows up. He starts to explain the exact model. He then explains the kind of woman he would like to have sex with. He stands up, wheels around, and then shuts his eyes. They stay shut.

We start to sneak back inside. Then his eyes snap open and he looks at us, as though seeing us for the first time. And he speaks.

"Can I buy a cigarette off you?" he asks.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Top of the Pops!

Wonderfully, I am outselling Barack Obama and Stephen Fry in the Waterstone's audiobook chart.


This is marvellous and unexpected and exciting. Like most marvellous, unexpected and exciting things in my life it'll probably last less than a week - and it might only happen in the Edinburgh branch of Waterstone's.

But there we go. toot! toot! I am terribly grateful to a lot of people for a really marvellous year.

And will now have to redress the balance with some stories of appallingly ill-conceived boy wrangling.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New guilty pleasure

Must stop reading Twilight fan comments. They manage to make other fans seem sane. Impressively.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

In which I get a girlfriend.

"Hi! I'm Lauren! What you doing?"

I am sitting smoking in the rain. This is what you do in Edinburgh.

"All alone? I'm with my mates. You could do with some company."

That's terribly kind, although honestly there's really no...

"My boyfriend dumped me on Valentine's Day. Don't go there. Six years it was, but there we go and since then it's been brilliant. Honest, I've spent the whole time hanging with my gay flatmate. Gay bars are brilliant. My mum's dead worried that I'll catch lesbianism off of them, but no, mum, I say, it's not like AIDS, you can't pick it up just from hanging around them, no the only thing I've got from those gay boys is a love of the cock."

Er. Er. Er.

She takes a cigarette and smiles. "Am I forward? Do you think I am? It's my heart on my sleeve and my love of cock, that's what it is. I'm just off to the bar." And she winks and goes away.

I blink. Her friends lean over. One is called Sally. She's all smiles. The other is called Ginny. She is glowering at me. We talk aboout the trams and the weather. And then Sally says, "Look - sorry, but you're not gay are you?"

Yes, yes I am.

"I knew it!" groans Ginny, disgusted. "Another one."

Sally shakes her head. "It keeps happening. She's spent so much time around them homosexuals she just hits on them." A delicate pause. "You know, she is very good looking..."

Well yes, she is. But no.

Sally smiles kindly. "Just nip off to the loo when she gets back and we'll let her down gently. And whatever you do, don't take her for chips."

Ginny shakes her head wearily.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fringed

What is the point of mobile broadband? In five year's time will we laugh at them as much as minidisc recorders? On the thick stones of Edinburgh the little beggar has given up, which is why i'm typing gamely away in a cafe/laptop farm full of fierce-faced people stabbing self-importantly away.

I am very happy, however. To write Harry Potter, JK Rowling booked the penthouse of Edinburgh's finest hotel. I am penning my latest book in an apartment above a gay sauna. It's as lovely as can be - although the air does whiff of chlorine and farts.

In between flailing away at my wordcount, I am seeing STUFF. Mostly wonderful stuff. I am not trying too hard. This morning I walked past some student actors in Elizabethan skirts bouncing up and down singing a warm-up song about bananas. I checked the crowd to see if there were any pretty boys. There were not - just a slightly flushed, overweight boy surrounded by a lot of girls with pinched faces and the make-up of 50 year-olds screaming "Banana! This is how we peel the banana!". So I decided it was safe to hate them and move on.

I've deliberately avoided seeing any Token Gay Plays, but did go and see a comic called Jimmy McGhie on the basis that he looked pretty in the flyer. He told nice jokes and his shirt kept riding up, which made up for the fact that Future Husband Rhod Gilbert was sold out. There was also a suicidal Welsh transvestite sing-a-long called Sue which was brilliant. There we are.

Apart from theatre and comedy there's also the joy of trying to use the Fringe Website which has the kind of woeful search engine you hope St Peter will use when it comes to judgment day ("Well, I'm typing in 'sodomy' and all it's offering me are tickets to a short film...").

At night (which in Edinburgh appears to start at about 1 am) I am finding the gay scene oddly flat. I'm either blaming the smoking ban or my indigestion, but it's peculiarly lifeless. There's a new barclubbar called "GHQ" which looks a little too imposing to even try and drink in. CeCeBlooms still has checkerboard tiles on which florid women are whirled around to Kylie by whip-thin dancing boys. As I'm getting older I'm noticing I'm edging further and further away from the dry ice and towards the slot machines and the scowling pensioners who sit there letting off 2a.m. farts.

Other than that, I dunno. It's kind of brilliant, really. I've also been watching Quatermass 2 again. It's a gift that keeps on giving, especially at scrapy-o-clock when you're utterly, utterly smashed and really just need to hear a women with plums rammed between all of her cheeks crisple enunciate "Johnny! Johnny! What's Happened To You! Is it the Amonids? Johnny?" Bliss.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

DoomWatch II


Thanks to Johnny for sending me the rest of Doomwatch.

So, where were with 1970s DoomPorn? Well, previously on DoomWatch a lot of people smoked and smacked women around and some people were eaten by rats.

I've skipped over a few episodes - like the joyous one where Welsh men stop having sex, or the one where Jesus explodes. But here we are in Series 2. And an episode called "Invasion".

The team turn up in an idyllic Yorkshire village. On the hill is an old base where the military have been very successfully containing a lethal pathogen... Until DoomWatch turn up and start meddling!

By the end of the episode people are dropping like flies, the army are shooting the pets, and the entire village has been evacuated for ever. Thanks DoomWatch.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Internamesakes

Clearly, the best URL ever: www.bentjudgejamesgoss.co.uk. I can't actually work OUT WHAT THE PAGE MEANS AS IT JUST does THIS A LOT and then gets VERY CONFUSING (fact).

Sample text:

"DISAPPEARING ADMISSION OF PERJURY BY THE ONLY ONE PROSECUTION WITNESS. 43% of his cross examination by the “defence barrister”, questioned him about his best mate (the complainant) lying about the amount he had to drink, which he said was 2-3 bottles of Budweiser on “Mad Friday” in a thirteen hour drinking binge. “Mad Friday being the last working day before breaking up for Christmas”. That one witness admitted perjury when caught out lying but this admission MIRACULOUSLY VANISHED OFF THE CROWN COURT TRIAL AUDIO TAPED RECORDINGS and in the court transcripts!

ALL the 43% of the lead-up to this damning admission would have also vanished too but even they know nearly half of the ONLY prosecution witnesses evidence disappearing would be too blatant and obviously missed and cause immense suspicion! BURIED DOCUMENT – Ironically the oldest legal document in the case buried by my own “defence barrister” Sukhbir Bassra, I dug up years later undoubtedly proves by the complainants OWN ADMISSION, he had drunk AT LEAST 14 units (seven pints of strong lager) so proving perjury!

Other extremely important and damning questions have been removed from this cross examination from THE CROWN COURT TRIAL AUDIO TAPED RECORDINGS and transcripts which I can prove 100%.... on the same day that Judas betrayed Jesus, Peter Brennan of Lomax and Geddes Solicitors in Manchester, also betrayed me!"

Thursday, August 06, 2009

It's Raining Men


Now that homophobia is a hate crime, we live in a thrilling new age where you have to take a different approach to mockery and humiliation of gay men. Ooooh ahhhh missus.

Take for instance columist Rod Liddle on weathermen
: "It’s going to be sunny all day!” my local TV weatherman yelped at me on Friday, before singing Follow the Yellow Brick Road and pouting at a depression heading west from Ukraine."

What Rod has learned is that it is now Bad to have a go at people for being gay, but to it is fine to accuse someone of being camp. That's not homophobia - that's just joshing and funny hahaha. "Tomasz tells us about the awful storms and high winds approaching from the Baltic and I could swear he’s about to pirouette and break into I Will Survive" etc etc etc.

And then, after filling your column with 1970s backs-to-the-wall pillorying of a weatherman ("lascivious flourish", "flamboyance", "that little bit overfamiliar") you then say "camp... I don’t mind — nothing against it." Welcome to the new "and some of my best friends" argument. No, of course you've got nothing against it - you've just devoted your column to mocking a broadcaster for perceived effeminacy. Well done you.

For the record, he's having a pop at Tomasz Schafernaker, a man whose name i'd have tattooed on a bicep if I could be certain it would be spelt properly. Rod clearly sees in the Schaff all that is wrong with modern telly ("I never thought that with Bill Giles" he sighs wistfully). But what Rod objects to as overfamiliar and camp, I see as a brilliant stroke of genius - the BBC have appointed a good-looking Polish weatherman who spends a lot of time at the gym. Instead of the weather being "bad news from the headmaster", I now have no idea what it's about at all, but come away from a forecast feeling reassured and just a little dizzy.

But hey, Rod, maybe that's just cos I'm camp.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Hypnosis One Week On

Oh. Now this is curious. Haven't smoked for days, I've even stopped chewing the nicorette gum, and have even stopped fancying a bit of a nightcap, which always leads to more fags.

This has got to stop. I've started waking up at 5am feeling refreshed. What is the point of that?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Wuthering Heights

I've taken the cat to my parents before heading up to Edinburgh. This seemed a good idea, but has been a mixed success.

The weather has been awful, so the cat has gone from joyously excited about being in the country to a howling siren hidden somewhere in the garage. Neither mum nor I have slept much in the last three nights.

Somewhere outside is a lovely garden, but we haven't seen it for a few days. Instead we sit huddled in front of the fire (in August!) while Dad rings up from his cricket up the road, complaining of sunburn.

My mother's latest peculiarity - she broke a finger the other week, but hasn't bothered going to hospital. Instead she reset it herself and made a splint out of brown parcel tape. I've tried pointing out to her that this is Crazy Old Lady behaviour, but she shrugs and reminds me that she was a nurse for many years. "But mum," I argue, "All your patients died..."

She shrugs again. "They had more wrong with them than a broken finger, I can tell you," and then shuffles off to paint a ceiling.

I now love/fear her in equal measure, and may soon be joining the cat in the garage.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

My new friend

I have a new gay friend. This is scintillating and marvellous, if you're me. Especially as he's an enormous tart.

We meet up for tea last week and I ask him how his job interview went. He screws his face up. "Not so good, no. This interviewer kept on asking me about 'my experience' and I couldn't work out what he was on about. After I walked out, I realised that I'm fairly sure I've slept with him."

"Only fairly sure?"

He shrugs.

This week he had another interview. I toy with witty text about sleeping with the hr consultant, can't make it work and end up just asking him how it went.

"Bad. This time I definitely slept with the guy."

Friday, July 31, 2009

Hypno-Curious

So, I go and see Dashing Hypnotist. And he certainly ticks all the boxes, and the actual hypnosis is extraordinary.

The results are both mixed and remarkable. To start with, I'm not trying to give up smoking entirely - for the moment just stop pottering around the flat late at night, chainsmoking with a glass of vodka on the go. It seems pointless when I could just be reading a book.

Instead I'll find myself in the flat at 11, absolutely tired. Sober and with no urge to smoke. Just tired. So tired I just have to sleep. And I'll crawl into bed, and then... lie there. So utterly absolutely lifelessly tired, but not asleep.

And I'll remain there, almost helpless with tired until 1am. I think this is my body adjusting to trying to sleep without the whee! of nicotine and booze.

And then at 1am I'll get up, stagger to a sofa, and pour myself a drink and find the cigarettes. And I'll start reading a book - and i'll know that if I can just have a drink and a cigarette I'll feel sleepy... only, i keep failing to reach for the drink, or i'll light a cigarette and look down and find that i've let it burn out in the ash tray.

This I find both curious and impressive.

The Really Weird Thing is that I am suddenly remembering Bitter Arguments from the 90s, the guy who cheated on me with someone called Nigel who wore Yellow Jeans (!), Dreadful Rows at Work from the early 2000s, and dinner a couple of months back where I made polite small talk rather than saying "Go away, I no longer work for you, you vicious fool."

This I find even more curious.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A new blog about Murder!

The Agatha Christie Reader
My friend Kate and I are reading all the Agatha Christie mysteries, at the rate of one a week. It's an excuse for Kate to re-read them, and for me to actually read the things rather than just watch them on Sunday nights. We're starting off with "The Mysterious Affair At Styles". Do join in.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How the scam works

I am out for drinks with one of the Steves. A guy sits down at our table.
"You want to buy?" he asks.
Steve looks at him, surprised. "I don't want any DVDs," he explains.
The guy places a plastic bag on the table (a Woolworths bag!) and starts to unwrap another bag inside it.
"It's a t-shirt," he explains, "Good t-shirt." He rifles around some more.
"No thank you," I say, and look away. He's boring me and my Inner Daily Mail reader has taken over. Just look away, Jeremy, look away, and maybe the ghastly man will disappear.
"Please," the man urges, reaching further down into the endless plastic bags, "I'm starving."
"No," says Steve politely.
The man stands up and shakes his head sadly. Then he leaves the bar.

"That was odd," said Steve. "He said he was starving, but he's got a really nice bike."
"Yeah," I agreed, "And he didn't even work the rest of the bar. Just sat down here. And what was with all those plastic bags? Especially ones from Woollies?"
"Some people," we agree.

An hour later we realise the guy has stolen Steve's wallet and mobile from the top of the table.

We are not talking about

The giant Lego house. It makes me feel giddy just thinking about it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

This week Pavel say

Pavel, Newham on July 22nd, 2009
I am love for Sam, he have body long with breasts who look like eyes of Homer Simpson! I will have no men but him to kiss now, Sam you want Lithuania hot boy??

Will add link when I've got the tiniest bit more time. Honestly, school on a Saturday.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

All hail the hypno-toad

Right. Fine. I am toying with giving up smoking. And, I figured, why not try hypnosis? And then I started looking at the websites for London hypnotherapists and got freaked.

1) They all have this weird expression:


I can't tell you what it is, exactly. But it's the expression that goes with the phrase: "You remarked earlier on the unusual almond seasoning in the soup..."

2) Awful websites
Sunsets, water droplets, clip art of hands clasping a planet... Even, mercy me, the blink tag. Oh, it's like the mid 90s.

3) Therapy speak
"Well done for arriving here!" or "Congratulations. You've already made a significant step in finding this page", or "I am a cognitive hypnotherapist and the approach that I use is interactive" etc.


4) Scare tactics

This link: "How much does it cost?". Sheesh. No.

5) Too much detail at the wrong moment

"Would you please note that my appointments manager, Ian, works flexible hours Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you call and he is not here just leave your name and number on our answering machine and Ian will call you back"

6) Odd ideas

"In 2002 I was the first hypnotherapist in the world to enable clients to make their own subliminal message recording. I withdrew this facility in 2006 as it was taking up too much of the session time. I have now revamped and relaunched this innovative idea, and it is even better than before." What? This is based on the sure fire knowledge that everyone loves the sound of their own voice.

So, in the end, I've decided to take the shallowest possible approach based on the following tried-and-tested dating criteria:
1) Are they fit?
2) Do they live near by?
3) No telltale signs of a serial killer?

On this basis, after an exhaustive search, it looks as though I'm going to be hypnotised by Will Young:

And, via the magic of gmail ads:

I bring you Baconnaise!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

All's right with the world

Pavel's back:
"Pavel, Newham on July 15th, 2009
Andy, you jealos of he love for me. Jonny is pure and beauty have. You see his eye have love for Lithuania boy!"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Next Book Alert!

I have a new book out in October! Here's the cover! Curiously, although it's being printed in the UK, you can currently only order it from Canadian Amazon, where it is ranked #35,865 in fiction sales. I'm guessing that means aboot 3 copies.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tonight you're not mine

"Hello!" I say to the man at the bar. He turns and looks at me, and then he smiles.
"Two things you should know," he says, "My name's Joshua and I'm a complete slut."

He is also Irish and has "piercing blue eyes". I am, of course, both confused and grateful that I keep meeting men who proudly advertise their frequent flyer status.

Of course, it all goes horribly wrong. Why wouldn't it? It's my line of work. Oh, I'm evasive, but it doesn't help. His piercing blue eyes widen. "What kind of spin-off tat?" he asks, "Cos I'm fairly sure I've seen you on-"

oh no.

"Oh my god! I am the biggest Doctor Who fan in the world!"

oh please no.

"I'm desperate to write for the show. Who can I talk to? You must know."

no, really I don't work there any more. Sadly, there's always been a plan in my head for how this is supposed to happen. I finally meet a sane Doctor Who fan and we spend our days happily making sweet love while rearranging our DVD collections to neither's satisfaction. Only this isn't how it's working out...

"I have a boyfriend."

right.

"And I drive him mental with Doctor Who."

course you do.

"He never lets me talk about it."

why would he?

"And, you know, much as I'd like to sleep with you, I think I'd prefer to have you as a friend. Wow. This is so exciting."

mutters.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The curious student

Oddly, I forgot to write about Drogaz. He emerged a couple of months ago from the Orange Facebook and insisted we meet. There's something engaging about this as a notion. 22-year old Fashion Student with Eastern European Eyes and Effort Hair? What's not to love?

So we meet for tea in Marble Arch. And he approaches, and there's so much swish in his stride his hips are on ball-bearings.

"I am Drogaz," he intones, plucking off one pair of sunglasses and replacing them with another. He rearranges his hair and smiles. "We drink."

We walk to Starbucks and I think, "This is odd."

He asks me what I do for a living, nods, and then smirks. I ask him, and he pulls three phones out of his pocket. "Guess," he says.

"Oh," I say.

He nods. "Yes. I work three hours a night, party loads, and get given amazing clothes. I shock you, yes?"

Not really. It's just a bit...

"Don't worry," he pats me on the forearm, "I buy you coffee."

And we sit outside and he chainsmokes and laughs. And then one of his phones goes off. "Is friend Julian," he sighs, lifting his sunglasses so that I can see him rolling his eyes. "He is very dull but he is safe. If I do not like you I tell him and then he tells me I must feed my cat."

"You have a cat?" I say, "Well, I have one too and she-"

He waves away some smoke. "I am not interested in your cat. I am interested in you."

Crikey.

Julian arrives. He is very odd. He's from Hong Kong, is also, uh, a well-funded student, but behaves strangely like a geisha. I realise that sounds weird, but he sits there, giggling quietly from behind a FAN, and occasionally whispers something to Drogaz, glances in my direction, and then whispers again.

This is the point, I think, when I should just go. But Drogaz stills me with a glance. "You stay," he says. "Julian and I have private talk."

They go and stand round the corner. Chainsmoking while Julian giggles. He is somehow managing to smoke while fluttering his fan, creating an effect like a bellows.

They shuffle back.

And I look at Drogaz and he looks at me and I think "this really is One Of Those Dates."

"We have been talking about you," murmurs Drogaz, "We say good things."

"Right."

"Which is unusual, as we are such bitches." (Julian titters at this), "But no. You we like. But some - oh! - some! I have four friends, we are like mad crazy bitches.
You would not think, but we are unlucky in love. Julian is Samantha and I am Carrie. You know Sex and the City? Is the story of our lives! Is our favourite show! "

"I must use the bathroom," says Julian and goes inside.

Drogaz leans forward. "Of course is not. Is shit show. I would rather be watching Stargate: Atlantis, but do not tell him that. He is viper."

"Umm," I say, suddenly rather liking him. "Is Julian going?"

"Soon soon," says Drogaz. "Why? You hate him? He is very dull. If you wish, I tell him."

"No! No!" I protest, "It's just, this isn't what I thought..."

"I am not a slut!" A shrug, "Not in daytime. No. We meet. We have coffee. We have walk in park. Maybe we kiss. Is nice."

Is nice. Julian comes back from the bathroom. We get up to go round the park. Julian follows. So, we walk round the park. And I'm thinking I'd rather not be, and yet at the same time, finding it all enjoyably silly.

How does it end? Ah. We get talking about Romania, the beloved country where Drogaz comes from. I ask him why he came over here. And how long he's been here, and things like that. And also, you know, why a 22-year old would be...

"Haha!" he laughs, "Of course I am not 22! I say that to stop the foolish bitches! No! I am 17! Well, soon."

And that's when I announce it's time I went home and fed the cat.