Monday, June 29, 2009

A sign of old age

Unearthed my beloved tape of "Power Themes 90" and, so joyed was I at the discovery that I'm currently whizzing it into MP3s. Bless you MC Parker, my Thunderbirds Are Go again.

And then I realised... You know you're ancient when your novelty dance albums are two decades old.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


It's so hot the cat is slumping from room to room, bleating sadly, or hiding under the covers, whimpering. This is a clear practical cat fail - if you're trying to cool down wrapping yourself in a duvet is surely a bad move?

On the other hand, the weather also means that Canary Wharf have a festival of dancing, which is mostly about men cavorting topless in fountains. Well, it's not all brilliant - what was advertised as an "open air rubik's cube" turns out to be bouncing irish dancers with large lego bricks - which you'd think would be my idea of nirvana, but it was just annoying. "Yeah! Throw it here! Woo! Yeah" etc for half an hour. "Come on everyone! Mexican Waves! All right!"

I was taken by old friend Darian. We spend the afternoon being reliably horrible to each other, with or without performance dance. All his friends are impossibly pretty. Some of them are even dancers. We get home before it rains, and I spend the evening drinking Pimms and reading about the rediscovery of tomb KV5.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Today's gmail wonder

"Re-Train As A Plumber - - Huge Shortage"

Mind you, yesterday, I mentioned bolognese once and spent the entire day fielding recipes and amazing pizza delivery offers.

The grim day will come when it flashes up: "Cat-obsessed spinster? Amazing euthanasia offers."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sorrows come not in single Steves

I am dating two Steves. Accidentally, and in parallel, not in series. One I met just before going off to Australia and thought he'd forgotten about me, the other I met last week.

But it's giving rise to some confusion. How on earth middle-aged men manage to have affairs, I dunno. It's so complicated trying to remember which one i've told about what, and even which one is the vegetarian non-smoker.

I'm figuring one's bound to fizzle out naturally, which will be fine. Or I'll accidentally get them confused when texting.

Luckily, I've been able to hide. In Wales and in Legoland. But at some point I'm either going to have to sort out my Steves. Or just stay in and build my new train set.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Agent Cooper wants to bring back Twin Peaks according to Digital Spy:

MacLachlan said that creator David Lynch would most likely not be involved with the new version, as he is busy advocating meditation techniques.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Er. Squee.

Torchwood Golden Age cover

Apparently, on Radio Four sometime in early July. Bendy bus may run me over now. Life complete.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thought for the day

Why are two singles never cheaper?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gay Etiquette

"The Bride Wore Black Leather... And He Looked Fabulous" is a guide to gay etiquette.

The reason for the google search was my temporary friend Mo. It was a Friday. I was drunk. And yet strangely functional considering I'd been drinking wine since the afternoon. And Mo and I were heading home. Only...

"We should get someone else," said Mo.
"Right," I said. Years ago, I would have been baffled by this. Like being asked the difference between bio and non-bio. But with age comes enough experience and pink t-shirts. "Right," I said. "Let's find someone we can agree on."

This is where a guide to gay etiquette could come in handy. There really has to be a printed guide somewhere as to what to say and how to cope. In the same way that whenever someone on the Orange Facebook asks "wot u in 2?" and I feel like typing "Chinese Buffets and Duke Ellington."

So Mo and I end up giggling like geishas in front of a gay who looks like a sailor from a Jean-Paul Gaultiere advert. Well, okay. Clearly this was a few years ago and Jean-Paul didn't give him any free moisturiser, but there was still a lot of arms spilling out of his wife-beater. Win.

And he was looking at us. Mildly interested. But also carefully bored.

"Say something," hissed Mo.
"You're younger, you say something."
"Come on, please."
"He. Is. Staring."

This is daft. I can't even bear to ask for the salt at dinner parties, and I'm figuring I've already managed to chat up one stranger and there's really no self-deprecating way of asking this. I need something that doesn't allow me to display any of my true character. So, I figure, about four words.

NO: "Hi... what's your name and how does troilism strike you?"
NO: "Having a good evening? [endless small talk] Umm. Well, anyway enjoy London."
NO: "My friend fancies you. And, funnily enough..."

In the end, I settle on: "We're going home. Coming?"

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gmail bizarrity

Those targeted ads have gone mad. "Free Whitepaper On Virtualizing Your Support Staff."

"Virtualizing" is my new favourite word. It's just so creepy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In case you had forgotten

The play I adapted is on again. My co-author (and now internationally acclaimed movie producer) Facebooks me to tell me that it's on in "Penn State". This is, he patiently explains, somewhere in America. It would appear to be sharing the bill with William Shakespeare, Steel Magnolias, and an adaptation of The Goonies. Any words I add after this news are pointless.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Technology 10 years ago

I spent the weekend using my CD Walkman. I'd mislaid my MP3 player and I thought "how hard can it be?" - but it's strange how self-conscious bulky old-tech looks. I was edging away from people at the gym, trying to conceal the priapic bulge. It's the one occasion when you want the lump in your trousers to look as small as possible. After all, don't you edge nervously away from people on the tube who are still using a Walkman? And you change carriages if its playing cassettes.

And yet, 10 years ago:
  • You were still recording telly using VHS
  • You had a dial-up modem
  • Early adopters were watching BBC Choice through OnDigital
  • Portable hard drives held 100Mb (ZipDisk! ZipDisk!)
  • If you owned a DVD player, you loved buying discs in bulky packaging.
  • And even adored being stung for £7 customs on your £15 Region 1 of Hudson Hawk (was that just me?)
  • Widescreen cathode ray tellies were all the rage.
  • An iMac without a floppy disc drive seemed weirdly cutting edge
  • Having a CD burner was quite the status symbol. If only you could get your head aound those MP3 things.
  • I got a bollocking at work for coding a website using CSS rather than tables and invisible gifs (one for the nerds).
  • You were still 2 years away from the BBC streaming an on-demand radio drama (bows and tries to look humble).

Yesterday, annoyed by my inkjet's Seymour-like demands for ink, I went out and bought a laser printer. For £40. This felt like a brilliant thing. Then I remembered that it was 20 years since I'd first seen a laser printer. And then I just felt old. Although I remembered reading Douglas Adams' introduction to "Dirk Gently" where he explained that he'd typeset the book himself and it had been printed out by a computer and I thought it was witchcraft and spent much of the book squinting at the print to try and see the dots. Hey. I was 14. Sod off.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Of Gods and Power

There's been a spate of Jehovah recently. There's also been doorknocking from power utilities.

I object to both. My religious views are complicated and private and i'm not going to be able to explain them fluently at my doorstep to a total stranger with an eerie smile.

Similarly, I've been against power utility door knockers since one claimed he was here to read the meter and then physically and verbally intimidated me until I rang the police. They're subtler nowadays, but they're still arseholes.

The last power straw was a smarmy man from E-On. "Hi! We're here because we're alarmed that you pay too much and we want to stop that."

"No, really, I don't. My last power bill was £18. Please... I don't like..."

"But we can honestly reduce that."

"Look. Please. Honestly. Very bad power salesman experience. So I won't let you in and I will not change supplier."

"Well, sir, I don't think that was with us, now was it? Who is your current supplier?"

"I'm fairly sure it's E-On. And please. I won't let you in."

"I can assure you that it's not E-On. And you'll be missing out on fantastic savings. Please let me in."

Just once I would like to date someone who stands outside my door, pleading through my letterbox to be let in. But not a utilities salesman.

A couple of days later I got a bill confirming that, yup, E-On do supply my electricity. So, I took action.

I have a sticker from Camden on my letterbox that says "No Junk Mail". With a sharpie I added "No Gods" to it, but couldn't fit in "No Electricity Salesmen" so instead wrote "No Power". I stood back to admire my handiwork.

Scrawled over my letterbox is the phrase "NO GODS - NO JUNK - NO POWER". Which makes me look so mad. I'm going to have to get another sticker from Camden.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Jessica Fletcher meets Magnum

It had to happen. Lee and I would eventually get round to this. And it's very odd.

First off, it is "fabulous" without being in any way "good". The mystery (spanning an episode of Magnum and one of Murder, She Wrote) is almost incomprehensible. It's something to do with widows, hitmen, diamonds and public relations. The plotting is diabolical - for scheduling reasons, Jessica's only in the second half of the Magnum episode, and Magnum spends most of Murder, She Wrote in single-set prison.

And yet, it's still eye-watering as the New England sleuth descends on Hawaii and the corpses start piling up. It's the inevitable clash of the acting titans that we're here for as Tom Selleck does rueful charm and Angela Lansbury does... nope. Still no idea. It's a unique acting style that doesn't mesh with Tom Selleck at all. It's a weird "i'm the star of the show, dear" display of mugging and business, all delivered to the cheap seats at the back.

It's a wasted opporunity really. The two bicker gently, but not too much. There's precious little gun play, and all the chemistry you get when two inert gases intermingle. But who cares? Lee and I can tell people we've seen the fabled Murder, She Wrote/Magnum crossover, and we'll get looks of awe and wonder.

(As an aside, when I was young my favourite character was Higgins, but you now realise the poor actor appears to be being fed his lines off camera, managing a delivery that is both surprised and stilted, as though he's just reeled in from the pub to be confronted by bright lights and cue cards)

PS: Thanks to the wonders of the internet - here's the trailer. Amaze.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

On air

The flight out of Perpignan airport was horrible. The plane banked towards a mountain and then flipped towards the sea. Screaming children went quiet. "Finally," I thought, "I get why flying is scary." It was the first week in September 2001.

Since then I've flown rarely. My flight to Australia was the first time in three years, and I found the whole thing horrible. I spent the last seven hours on the flight back rigid with fear. Air travel has been described as moments of terror followed by hours of tedium, but I am perfectly capable of sitting rigid with fear for seven hours. I even watched Twilight thinking "please don't let me die while watching this".

But I landed. And I thought "Well, that was terrible. But flying's actually pretty safe."

And then that Air France flight went missing. And the news yesterday was full of experts saying "Well, even if X happpened, then there's always system Y, or, in an emergency, there's an onboard windmill that will power the thing, or failing that, it can actually fly without engines for half an hour at least...."

And you think "yeah, right. That didn't help all the poor people on board." It's the kind of news that makes you shudder. I can hear about other stories and feel for the victims, but every time I hear about a plane crash, there's the sympathy, followed by a big portion of "next time, that'll be me". Cos I'm a selfish, scared bugger.

Of course, the media doesn't help by immediately running off to an airport to film hysterical relatives. When on earth did that become acceptable footage?

UPDATE: No, BBC News, What's Being Said On The Web isn't really valid reporting, either is it? Of course, let's rush to give a forum poster wider airing for this gem: "Could it be possible that the aircraft was kidnapped by aviation knowledgeable people, forced the crew to send the "automatic" message and then continued in silence to land somewhere in the enormous Amazonas region or in Africa? ". Would you run a "Send us your theories about what happened to Maddie" page?