Friday, January 28, 2011

Glasgow Again

People are nicer in Glasgow. Not all of them, obviously, as otherwise Taggart would be about bunnies and cupcakes, but by and large.

I was up visiting the flat there to do a couple of odd jobs. I painted a door badly, shake-n-vac'd the hallway and weeded the window boxes. I then remembered that one of the windows was stuck, and set out looking for a handyman.

This turned out to be really easy. I found him through my local hardware store (actually, there are quite a lot of hardware stores in the East End of Glasgow. I go to the one that looks the least like a serial killer's cash-n-carry). The man behind the counter (he's called Jim. We're on first name terms now) said "Sounds like you need Cory. You'll find him in the pub."

Information: I have never before set out to deliberately find a handyman in a pub. I have stumbled across a few, but those were happy accidents. And anyway this wasn't one of *those* pubs - this was a bunker built out of concrete and fruit machines nestling in the shadow of an electricity sub-station. But still, it was thrilling to walk up to a bar and said "Oh hello! I'm looking for Cory."

The barmaid blinked and pointed to a corner. "Thanks awfully," I said. As I trotted away I could hear her eyes rolling. You see, there's a problem with my diction in Glasgow. I go from being a bit 1940s Newsreader to full on Fauntleroy. It's like I've bumbled in from the Drones club, policeman's helmet tucked proudly under one arm.

Cory turned out to be a tiny man anywhere between 30 and 90. I explained my problem. "I may be round later on this afternoon," he said. Then he looked at his pint, considering it carefully. "Actually, make that tomorrow morning."

"Really?" I said. "That would be utterly lovely."

I figured he wouldn't turn up. But he did and he spent a merry morning teaching me how to repair double glazed windows. At the end of which he charged me a tenner. Do you hear that, London plumber who has been charging me hundreds of pounds not to mend my boiler for five months? Do you? Ten pounds. I gave him twenty out of shock.

To celebrate, I went out to buy bacon. A thing I can't get over is that one bacon roll is £1.20 and two are £1.40. This appeals to both my parsimony and my gluttony. I managed to get most of the way through my order without a problem, but then we reached the following exchange:

Ed (for it is his cafe): Sauce?
Me: Ooh, tomato ketchup please!
Ed: Where are you from?
Me: Er, London. (puts on you-got-me face) How could you tell?
Ed: I couldn't. I just knew you weren't from around here.

Ed hands me the bacon rolls and, as I turn to go, he says "Look after yourself." It's as though the next scene will feature Blythe Duff staring down at my headless corpse.

Instead, Fawkes takes me out for quid-a-drink night with friends (Even the pubs here are pound shops). The conversation briefly touches on whether they've seen more dead bodies than seals in the Clyde.

At the bar, a Very Weird transvestite is talking to a politely bored barlady. The transvestite is very small, with a very deep voice that has all the vibrancy of an automated train annuncement. "I'm planning on doing some more stand-up," he intones. "I don't know what quite yet but it's bound to be crazy. For instance, I was thinking about things that two men would never say to each other at a bus-stop...." He tails off. "I mean, you could have that, couldn't you?"

Downstairs in the gents, two lesbians are kissing while using the hand-dryer. Glasgow lesbians are like this - they're everywhere and they are very happy. So happy that they can't even stop kissing while surrounded by drunk men urinating optimistically towards the urinals. Above them is a poster advertising an upcoming PA by Adam Rickett. It is apparently a great way to celebrate Valentine's Weekend, and it is free to get in, with amazing drink offers. I don't know why I mention this, but I'm oddly fixated by the juxtaposition of two people expressing their sexuality with careless pride and Adam Rickett.

Upstairs I sip at a shooter of black zambucca to hoots of derision. One of the people I'm drinking with gets a message on Grindr. It begins: "ASL?". We hoot at this - who says that any more? The next message he gets is "Cool. Blow job? You look hot."

Baffled, he shows us his Grindr profile pic. It is of the squinty bridge in the docks. He shrugs.

Yet more proof that Glasgow people are friendlier.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

BBC Cult to close.... again!

Yesterday the BBC website announced vast and sweeping cutbacks. Sadly, a lot of wonderful people are losing their jobs (happily, maybe a few less wonderful people will also go).

The BBC also announced it was closing 200 websites. Crikey. That's a lot. Or is it? A friend sent me the list... pointing out that the BBC Cult website is being shut down.... again.

I produced the Cult site years ago. It was axed the last time the BBC announced an online restructuring.

And now, in order to save money it is being axed again.... at a saving to the licence fee payer of £0.00. What's the point?

Last time the site was allowed to stay online because... well, the licence fee payer had paid for the content to be made, and there was quite an outcry. In order to allay this, People In Suits announced that the content would stay there - and it's still very popular. It seems silly not to keep this resource freely available.

Mind you, Cult was axed because the BBC saw no future in programmes about vampires, dragons or Daleks. Ah well....

Anyway, why not go and visit the BBC Cult website? While you still can...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse

Zombies are dull, but they are dullest when they are your neighbours. In news that's attracted a whisper of press coverage, the Kings Cross Apocalypse Factory has been approved.

UKCRMI is, depending on how you see it, either the UK's biggest biomedical research lab or the UK's biggest Zombie Farm. And I live next door to it. I can't help but feel that an imminent outbreak of ravenous ghouls is going to push down property prices.

How do I know that the worst is going to happen? How do I know that the streets will be filled with brain-hungry research scientists? How do I know that UKCMRI is really the vanguard of the zombie apocaylpse? Because Boris Johnson thinks it is a good idea.

Run. Save yourselves. Run.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The song of the naked cowboy

The Naked Cowboy is in town. The New York street entertainer has been hired to promote a range of bagels by singing about them. Clearly
- He's not naked
- With a body like that, he probably doesn't eat carbs
- It's January
- What?

But these things are all entertaining and it beats slumping around the flat tidying away the last of the Christmas lego. The Naked Cowboy, I have discovered, is a TM and a franchise. His website includes a link so that you can apply to be a licensed Naked Cowby. But no, not until my post Christmas lard has shifted.

January's an odd month, though, isn't it? Nothing really happens, everyone's either dieting or not drinking, or saving or whatever, so maybe it's nice that there's the occasional Naked Cowboy as a distraction from the Month Of Feeling Mildly Dissatisfied With Your Lot.

As my friend Lee points out, life is not a competition. That said, I wouldn't mind being Jake Shears for an evening. I know it's wrong, but I'd just like to try it.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

You don't have to be mad to dance here...

There is a lady who occasionally stands outside the Euston Hilton dancing. She sometimes has an old tape walkman, but mostly she's just grooving to her own tune, a 33rpm steady, circular raunch that can go on for hours.

She normally wears pink spanx, a cheery top and scrunchies. Given the chilly weather she's currently dressed in sensible winter beige layers. I waved. She waved back. These things are good.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The gym in January

Well, it's grim. At the moment there appear to be two kinds of people down the gym.

The Impossibly Hot
I have no idea where they've all come from, but nearly every time I go down there, someone utterly stunning is strutting around, yoinking the heaviest dumbbells around on their pinky finger while jogging merrily away. Please, some of us still have mince pies at home. It's maddening of you to be so perfect. Also, annoyingly, they split into "Straight" and "Gay, but puh-lease, way out of your league, honey". So it's just me in the corner with Radio Four.

The New People
Welcome. We know you won't be around in February, but you do make the next four weeks that extra bit awful. Yes, the gym has free towels - but you're not supposed to take them home with you. And, if you must, please not an entire armful.

Also, why are you so demanding? Yesterday I was busy struggling away (the weights have got heavier over the Christmas break, too) and realised a woman was staring at me. She looked impatient. She was waving her arms at me. She wanted my attention, clearly. Realising she had it, she put her hands on her hips and started to talk to me.

I held up my hand - truth to tell, I had just got to a bit in Northanger Abbey where Catherine Morland was having a most interesting turn around the room, so had to press pause. While I fumbled with my ipod, the woman actually rolled her eyes.

"Hello," I said, "How can I help?"
"I've just joined. Can you show me how to work the treadmill?"
We go over to the treadmill. The woman glares at me accusingly. "It's different from the ones I am used to."
"I mean, how does it start?"
I press the large button labelled "Start".
"Fine. [huffy noise] How do I control the speed?"
I press the Up arrow. The treadmill goes faster. She watches the empty belt go round and round, critically. "That's a bit fast for me, wouldn't you say? I prefer a walking pace and 7.5 kilometers is not my walking pace."
Wondering vaguely how Catherine Morland would deal with this, I slow it down for her.
She nods. "But how do I stop it?"
I point to the large red switch labelled "Quick Stop."
"Oh," she says. She then turns around and marches into the changing room.

Curiously, there wasn't an ounce of fat on her. On balance, I think Catherine Morland would have jumped up and down on her twigletty neck until it snapped and then danced Sir Roger de Coverley on her twitching corpse. But that's just a guess.

PS: Relationship still going. Boyfriend wailing that he is now totally obese. In practice this means that half of his twelve-pack has vanished for a week. Disaster.