Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Thursday, January 31, 2002

It came to me in a dream...
I've finally fixed the media streaming for the 12 minute bootleg that Osymyso mixed so it can now stream using HTTP i.e. through company firewalls. It's funny how you learn more from tinkering around than reading a book. And the expression 'sleep on it' was never more true than in this case. The solution actually came to me in a dream. Weird.
Can you do this in your head (I had to)?...
My boss came to ask my advice today. They are trying to put together a package to retain certain staff (not me I might add) and he wanted my feedback. So he asked me this hypothetical: Which would you rather have: EITHER a 3% salary increase per year plus a 12% salary bonus OR a 7% salary increase per year? How long would it be before both offers amounted to the same cumulative total?

I guessed most people would take the first option - a 12% annual bonus would be too tempting an offer to turn down. It took a spreadsheet to prove me wrong. The answer all depends how long an employee was going to to stay with the company (compound interest and all that). Can you guess how long someone would have to stay in the company before the second option was the better one? I was surprised.
Ha, ha, ha...
Q: What do you call a Frenchman in sandals?
A: Philippe Philoppe
[from Popbitch]
Golden Jubilee...
Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne for nearly 50 years. She ascended the throne when her Dad, King George VI popped his clogs on 6th February 1952 but wasn't crowned until 2nd June 1952. The slight delay was to get the Coronation party planned. This year will be no different. There are BIG PLANS for this year's Golden Jubilee.
As well as doing a whistlestop tour of the Commonwealth and buzzing up and down the country we can expect:-
• The lighting of at least 455 beacons – over four times as many as during the Silver Jubilee.
• 70 towns and cities taking part in Music Live Street Festivals organized by the BBC.
• Over 100 other confirmed public events in the searchable calendar on the Golden Jubilee Office website.
• A Toolkit containing practical advice is available to help people plan their local celebrations.

Now I've had a look at this toolkit. It's a hoot. In the 'decoration' section there are wonderful instructions as to how to make your own bunting and how to put it up. It even tells you how far to bang the poles into the ground with "your sledgehammer". Like we all have one of those lying around. Priceless.
It's yet to been seen whether the 'common folk' will embrace the occasion as they did on her 25th anniversary back in 1977. In fact the Silver Jubilee was such a big thing it even inspired a full-blown anti-Jubilee backlash spearheaded by the Sex Pistols. I remember going to a local street party back then. They were all the rage. A few punks turned up and spat at some of the children. Ah, memories.
One thing that may help us get into the party spirit is that we have all being given an extra day off to celebrate for Golden Jubilee. The usual second May Bank Holiday had been moved back a week to Monday 3rd June and an extra Bank Holiday on Tuesday 4th June added. So we'll have four days to 'part-Tay' : 1st - 4th June 2002. The tube will run all night on the Monday evening (in case you're wondering you can find out why it doesn't usually run a 24 hours service here). There's going to be a massive firework display planned for the late evening on the Monday and then a State Procession the following day.

Despite being vaguely republican at heart I think it'll be fun.

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Out of this world...
I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Blur. But I didn't realise that their popularity spread to Mars. Blur are to record a special tune to be included in Beagle 2, a British craft that will land on Mars in 2003. "The tune has overtones of the Dr Who theme music and tracks taken from Blur's 13 album, including No Distance Left to Run."
What next? A Steps tune for Saturn? New Order for Neptune?
Throwing the baby out with the bath water...
Not only that but putting a dead one on a 95°F boil wash is going a bit far. Baby soup, anyone?
Pop Quiz...
Last night's Retro Bar teaser pop quiz was wonderful. David, Ian, Sarah, Marky, Dave, Marcus, Nikki et al were all in attendance. The quiz was simple - name the artists. Prompted on from the CD compilation that David and I gave to Wendy and Leslie they decided to use one of the tracks, a 7 minute Stars On 45/Jive Bunny style mix created by Osymyso (real name Mark) in the quiz. As Osymyso had DJed at the Retro Bar before Wendy got in touch to make sure he was happy that she used the track in the quiz. Not only was he happy for it to be used but he offered his new 12 minute version instead. This 12 minute version contains 101 different intro to famous tracks all multilayered and intermingled into one fabulous extravaganza.

Osymyso is hoping to release the track as a single so I'll not be making it available for download. However you can listen to the full 12 minute version here if you want to know what we had to face in the quiz last night (if you use a firewall you will need to open the ports for MMS). If you like what you hear then watch this space for news of where and when the track is available. The 7 minute version is available for download however which you can do here.

Wendy repeatedly pointed out David and I as the people responsible for the track being used in the quiz in case of any complaints! They played the track four times all the way through. Each time we picked up more of the one's we missed the previous time. I was a little nervous that if we won then people might accuse us of cheating. Afterall we had heard the 7 minute version before so we had a bit of head start on the other teams. We needn’t have worried though. Despite getting a very respectable 88 out of 101 we were pipped by a team getting 89. Wendy had guaranteed the money would go (£61 of it). I'd suggested that even if we had won we should have given the money to charity. For second place we were offered free tickets to Popstars which we gratefully accepted to add to our growing collection.

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Jamie Theakston...
I'm at a loss for words. How could you do it? I'm gutted. I thought hoped you were gay!
Pop Idol...
The three surviving Pop Idol hopefuls are reported to have each recorded a version of the same single. The debut release by the winner will be a double A-side featuring two ballads. Gareth Gates, Will Young and Darius Danesh have already recorded their own vocals. The last two finalists will both sing the secret tracks for the Pop Idol final on February 9. Simon Fuller, the man behind the Spice Girls, has helped to choose the songs. "The single will be a double A-side with two songs - both ballads. We think these are two of the best songs we have ever worked on." One of the songs has been written by Cathy Dennis, who wrote Kylie Minogue's Can't Get You Out Of My Head. The winner's version of the single is likely to be released on Simon Cowell's BMG label on February 25.
It was amazing how the three hour meander that we witnessed being filmed last week could be condensed into the pithy half hour show that was screened last night. It made it seem quite funny. Which was not my exact recollection of the night itself. But I guess that's the wonders of editing. And dubbing. Ben was good. But he's made for better things I feel.
Bafta nominations...
Moulin Rouge has got twelve and so has The Lord Of The Rings. Let's hope there's some room for Shrek too.

Monday, January 28, 2002

Well, she is my favourite...
You love being the centre of attention. You're a life and soul of the party kind of person. But if you're having a bad time, you'll make sure everyone knows about that too. You have an unswerving devotion to your family. And you know that if you're in trouble, they'll be there for you, whatever it takes.

Which Eastenders character are you? Should be a good one tonight too: Frank's "funeral".
Nintendo Gamecube...
Nintendo has announced that the GameCube will launch in Europe on May 3. I am too excited for words. Has anyone got one already? Is it brilliant? Is it? Is it?

Sunday, January 27, 2002

Blogger Pro...
Yippee! I've signed up to Blogger Pro. For a measly $35 pa (discounted at the moment from $50) I get lots of extra features that will make life easier for me (OK, OK, I admit it. It's the spellchecker that swung it for me). Sign up now!
What nonsense...
I always suspected David was prone to moments of gibberish. Now I have the proof. Oh, and it seems Ian is talking nonsense too. Eeeks! It's spreading! I've gone loopy as well. Do you suspect madness in others? Have your fear confirmed here.
[Thanks to Mo]

Saturday, January 26, 2002

Friday, January 25, 2002

Gay Monopoly...
Is there a gay version of Monopoly? Yup.
[link from B3TA]
Misheard lyrics (animated)...
Thanks to Dave for pointing me in the direction of B3TA. It's a great site and well worth a visit. They have some great links. Special mention goes to their list of top ten web games. However their best list is their top eight run down of misheard lyrics put to animations. Be sure to check them all out:-
8. Destiny's Child, "Independent Woman"
7. Bronski Beat, "Hit That Perfect Beat"
6. Madonna, "Erotic"
5. The Beatles, "Ticket to Ride"
4. Elvis, "Blue Suede Shoes"
3. Simply Red, "Holding Back the Years"
2. Toni Basil, "Mickey"
1. Simply Red, "Money's Too Tight (To Mention)"
The Second Annual Weblog Awards...
Go and vote for my friend Sparky so he wins a Bloggie at the Weblog Awards 2002. Why? Well, read hear why he deserves it.
Gay Abandon...
I read that the Tories are set to abandon their anti-gay stance. "Apart from the British National Party, I don't think there is a party that is excitable about people's personal sexuality" - says former Tory vice chairman Steven Norris.

Well Steven, I do want a party that is excitable about people's personal sexuality. I want a party that actually does something to redress inequality between gay and straight relationships in the eyes of the law. So three cheers to the Lib Dems today (see below).

Civil partnerships...
Friday sees the second reading in the House of Lords of a bill that would give gay and unmarried heterosexual couples many of the same legal rights as married people.

The bill, proposed by Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Lester, would see the establishment of "civil partnerships", provides for the registration of the partnership and sets out the ensuing legal consequences.

Backed by gay rights group Stonewall, the bill also contains a provision for terminating such partnerships.

Currently the rights enjoyed by married couples, such as the automatic right of inheritance in the event of a spouse dying in testate or the right of succession to certain tenancies and to pension funds, are denied to non-married couples.

- from BBC online

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Was it good for you?...
I got a letter from the London Mayor, Ken Livingston this morning. He wanted to know what we'd both thought of the London Partnerships Register that Marky and I signed up to two months ago. He was asking for any suggestions for improvement in the procedure, what a difference it had made to your relationship, what were our reasons for registering and how we were intending to use the fact that we had registered now we had done so.
All easy questions to answer: The procedure was fine thanks, Ken. Mark and I are closer than ever. By registering we have acknowledged to ourselves and to others our commitment to each other, it may help prove the status of our relationship for formal or legal matters and it general terms it supports a wider campaign towards equal opportunities. We are going to include a copy of it to go with our Wills.

I can honestly say that 3rd November 2001 was the happiest day of my life. I couldn't stop grinning.
Mouse Trap...
Carl, Drew, Sarah and I all played Mouse Trap last Saturday. All day. Here are some of the highlights.
Things were going OK at first.
Things were going OK at first
And then someone thought they'd won.
And then someone thought they'd won
But then the tables were soon turned.
But then the tables were soon turned

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Government Health Warning...
[ex smoker mode on]
I confess. I puff the odd cigarette sometimes when I'm drunk. I hate myself for it but there you go. What can I say? I'm weak. One thing I will never do though is start up again full time. I see that Marcus is giving up. Good for him. Go give him some encouragement. It's a tough thing to do.

I've given up three times over the years. The last time was four years ago and it was hell. It took three weeks for the nicotine to go. Then three months for the craving to stop. But it was worth it. Medically, socially and financially. I felt so much better. I realised I could take control of my life.

People who smoke stink. They smell of ash trays. Their breath stinks, their clothes stink and their hair stinks. Smokers can't smell properly so they don't even know if they smell of something else they've eaten. No one wants to kiss a smoker. Smokers lose their sense of taste. Smokers lose feeling in their mouths and their faces. They have yellow nicotine-stained fingers.

If you are giving up remember how lousy you feel now. Remember it clearly. It'll help you to stay stopped when you're tempted to "just have one" later on. Get you partner / friend / colleague to tell you now much nicer it is now you don't smoke. Save the money from your ciggies and buy yourself something at the end of two weeks. Treat yourself. You're breaking an addiction.

My parent's best friends used to smoke. They're both dead now. Lung cancer and breast cancer.

Do you smoke? Well stop. Stop now. It'll kill you if you don't.
[ex smoker mode off]
Someone just told me I am wonderful . Turns out that he's wonderful too. Why don't you tell someone they're wonderful? It feels good.
Long and drawn out...
TV shows are fun things to watch being recorded. In general that is. But with comedy TV shows there is something extra that's needed. They are meant to be not only fun but also funny. Now it's a given that the only reason why a live audience is there at a recording at all is to provide laughter and something for the people down on the set to react with. It obviously helps the program makers no end if there is genuine laughter and a degree of bonhomie in the studio that they can transfer to their final edit. It makes for a better show.

And so it was with last night's recording of Never Mind The Buzzcocks. We were there to have a good time. To laugh. And we tried. We really did. We laughed at all that we could - and then some. We laughed at the Liberance gags, we laughed at the Stephen Hawking gags, we laughed at the My Fair Lady gags and even the fisting gags. The problem was that they needed to keep that momentum going while they recorded the whole show. But there were long pauses where nothing happened and inevitably people began to get a bit restless with all those stops and starts. For example, Round One took just over an hour to record. Frankly we were all getting a bit bored by the end. Certainly after three hours I think we'd all had enough. When it first started to flag Mark Lamarr tried to pick things up by starting his usual routine of insulting the audience for not laughing at his jokes by claiming we didn't understand them. "Have to never heard of Japan, you morons?", "Einstein? No? You thick or something?" No Mark, we understood the jokes - it's just they weren't that funny.

Ben was good and got to make some witty quips. He wasn't really allowed to shine though as the established trio of comics had been working together on the show for some time.

Towards the end of the recording something strange happened though. It may have been the hot lights, or the fact that they had all been on the set for too long or simply that desperation was setting in. But they all started to trip over their words. Or say things in gibberish. Or make really surreal comments. Basically they all went a bit loopy. Now none of them had left the set to get "some refreshments" or "powder their noses" so it was rather hard to fathom what was going on. When I spoke to Ben afterwards he said he hadn't noticed it but we sure did. Maybe it's a phenomenon that helps to explain Suzi Quattro and Cathy Denis's bizarre behaviour on the show in recent weeks.

Ironically there were a number of American TV producers in the audience. Apparently one of the US networks is buying up the format to produce it across the pond. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't. But if you live in the US my advice would be don't go and see it being recorded. Watch it on the box when it's hopefully been distilled into something worth watching.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Never Mind The Buzzcocks...
I'm going to BBC Television Centre tonight to go and watch Never Mind The Buzzcocks (NMTB) being filmed. My friend and comedian Ben Norris is one of the panelists.

Started in 1996 on BBC2 NMTB isn't so much a pop game show, more a comedy vehicle for the two regular team captains and four guest panelists. The four rounds are usually 'indecipherable lyrics' where the teams have to work out what it being sung , 'intros' where two members of each teams have to do an impression of a famous intro, 'identity parade' where an old band member from a popular band from the past is put in a line with other lookalikes and 'next lines' which is the quick fire where the teams have to say the next line of a lyric.
Monsters Inc...
I downloaded Monsters Inc last week and we watched it on VideoCD over the weekend. It's a very funny film albeit aimed fairly and squarely at kids. However Disney/Pixar have added all the usual touches you'd expect to keep adults amused - as they did in Toy Story, A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2.

You can watch the new trailer here or the outtakes here. None of this linked footage appears in the film you'll be pleased to hear.
An oldie but a goody...
Hole in one

Monday, January 21, 2002

Who needs vodka jelly?...
Amongst all the drinking, dancing, chatting and general hubba-bub of last night at the RVT one moment that stood out for me is when a small circle of six gay bloggers all formed a hugging ring in the middle of the heaving dance floor. As spontaneous as it was sweet.

Sunday, January 20, 2002

Games Day...
This weekend we have three house guests staying with us. As the five of us had had such a heavy night on Friday we didn't feel much like moving off the sofa on Saturday so we simply played games. Lots of games. Board games, computer games and word games. For 14 hours (with the odd break for food and Pop Idol). I was in Heaven. The games we played were:-

- 4 way Mario Kart on the N64 [I came second]
- The Weakest Link (the annoying speaking version) [I won]
- Grand Theft Auto III on the PS2 [everyone watched me play and made suggestions as to what to do]
- Ker-plunk [I came last]
- Buckeroo [I won]
- Mouse Trap [I came last]
- Who's In The Hat? [We lost - just]
- 4 way Super Bomberman 2 on the SNES (my favourite console game ever) [I won]

It was the most fun I'd had "doing nothing all day" for a very long time. It brought back memories of our Sunday games afternoons that we used to hold. Lunch then serious game playing till the we small hours. Bliss.
Sunday moaning...
What the hell am I doing in work today?

Saturday, January 19, 2002

Last night in one sentence...
It was Colin's birthday so 16 of us went for a meal in the Crown, carried on drinking in the Ram Bar, moved on to a pool session in the Artful Dodger, came back to ours and played Mario Kart 64 until 5am.

Friday, January 18, 2002

I Love Technology: Bluetooth...
Since buying a Bluetooth enabled digital video camera I've gone Bluetooth mad - both at home and at work. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, Bluetooth is a wireless technology that basically allows phones and cameras and computers to talk to each other. No cables required. So keen am I on this technology I've been buying Bluetooth PC cards, Bluetooth USB adapters... you name it. I'm using it to set up Personal Area Networks (PAN) everywhere.
I Love Technology: Memory Stick...
Since buying a digital video camera with a Memory Stick I've gone Memory Stick mad - both at home and at work. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, Memory Stick is a really small piece of portable memory. It works in cameras, walkmans and computers. So keen am I on this technology I've been buying 64Mb Memory Sticks, 128Mb Memory Sticks, MagiGate Memory Sticks... you name it. I'm using it to store images and video clips I shoot on my digital camera.
I Love Technology: [Insert Name of Technology Here]...
Since buying a digital video camera with a [Insert Name of Technology Here] I've gone [Insert Name of Technology Here] mad - both at home and at work. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, [Insert Name of Technology Here] is a really [Insert Marketing Blub Here]. It works in [Insert Names Of Any Device Here]. So keen am I on this technology I've been buying [Insert Technology Implementation #1 Here], [Insert Technology Implementation #2 Here]... you name it. I'm using it to [Insert More Marketing Blub Here].
Top Night...
Both events I went to last night were great fun. Marky had finished his end of term essay so he came too, as did another house guest we have staying with us over from Chicago.

Ben's Doodlebugs show at the Amused Moose Club was fast, anarchic and wildly funny. Each team comprised of a cartoonist and a stand-up comedian. Ben was the host. The air was turned a deeper shade of blue for most of the night, but hey, what do you expect from a bunch of semi-drunk stand-up comics! The format was fine, although it needed a bit more work to make the scoring fairer and some of the rounds needed to be a bit tighter i.e. shorter. Sometimes the exact aim got a little lost. Had they drawn what they were supposed to or not? The funniest times were when the comics were given free reign to have their wild ramblings drawn in real-time. Hilarious.

After it all finished Marky and I hot-footed it over to the Retro Bar to help celebrate Wendy (picture on the left) and DJ Lush's 5 years at the helm.
Wendy The Usual Suspects
The place was packed and we spent a lovely final hour of the night listening to Darren spin the tunes and mingling with various low-lifes of the gay blogging community. Namely Iain, Ian, Dave, David (+ Rick) and, of course, David.
DJ Lush
We had a great time there and it was made especially nice as Wendy and DJ Lush (picture above) really liked the present that David and I gave them. We mocked up an affectionate Pet Shop Boys album cover containing some pop songs mixed together. Lush was so enthusiastic she rushed to put it on straight away!
Retro Boys front Retro Boys back
Neat, huh?

Thursday, January 17, 2002

Lord Of The Rings...
I went to see LoTR at the cinema last night with Sarah. I'd seen the first part of it on a postage stamp sized download last year but nothing had quite prepared me for what I saw. If you've not seen it. GO! GO NOW! Before it ends it's cinema run.
Retro Bar's 5th Birthday...
After Doodlebugs tonight I'm going to Wendy & DJ Lush's charity 5th birthday party at the Retro Bar. All the usual suspects will be there no doubt. Darren is DJing from about 11:15pm so I've definitely got to be there by then.
Retro Bars 5th
A bunch of Retro Bar regulars have taken out an ad in the gay press to say thank you to them both. Also David and I are planning something special to give them too. They deserve it. They're fab.
Tonight my very good friend, Ben, is launching a new game format called Doodlebugs downstairs at Bar Code (a.k.a. Amused Moose Soho). I shall be there cheering him on.

Here is what Time Out has to say this week.
Frequent sex...
Middle aged men can have sex as many times as they like without increasing their risk of having a stroke, according to research. Scientists also discovered that frequent sexual intercourse can actually reduce the risk of suffering a fatal heart attack.

Professor Shah Ebrahim, who led the University of Bristol team, said men should be heartened by the research, which dispels fears that there is a link between sex and strokes.

Welcoming the findings Dr Ian Banks, president of the Men's Health Forum, told BBC News Online: "I think the news for everyone is that sex is an important part of our normal human existence and we should encourage people not to be ashamed of having sex."

Something we always knew of course. Frequent sex is good for you. Do you think we could get frequent sex through the NHS as part of some Health Intervention Scheme?

[Full story here]

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Soft Cell European Tour 2002...
The following dates are all Soft Cell concerts:
15 & 16 February - Moscow. These dates are confirmed but the promoters haven't told us the name of the venue!
20 April - Dublin Olympia
23 April - Offenbach Capitol
24 April - Munich Babylon
26 April - Zurich Kaufleuten
27 April - Vienna Pepsi Music Club
29 April - Stuttgart Theatrehaus
30 April - Hamburg Docks
2 May - Bremen Modernes
3 May - Amsterdam Paradiso
4 May - Brussels A/B
18 May - Leipzig Wave Festival
1 June - Winchester Homelands (festival)
30 June - Roskilde Dance Stage (festival)

I've been to Vienna, Amsterdam and Brussels before but none of the other cities. Do you recommend any of them as places to visit?
Pop Quiz Goes Digital…
Last night David took his digital camera and I took my digital camcorder to record the weekly event that is the Retro Bar Pop Quiz. Sadly I didn’t capture on film the magic moment when Wendy apologised that DJ Lush (her ex-) was uncharacteristically slow at changing the CDs with the immortal line, “she’s usually much better with her fingers than this”. Cue: much laughter and Wendy blushing.

Being Pete Waterman’s 55th birthday spurred Wendy to concoct a PW quiz last night. We had a full team of David, Darren, Ian and myself. David and Dave sat opposite us and pulled faces while forming a ickle team of their own. Our team name was Stocky, Aching and Vorderman.

All questions relate to Pete Waterman productions.

1. What are the names of the three original members of Bananarama? Bonus point if you can get the ‘fourth’ member who joined when one the original number left.
2. What are the 17 words that start the chorus to Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up?
3. Famous at fourteen, married a Rolling Stone and crap singer. Name her.
4. Cover versions of Baker Street and Never Let Her Slip Away in 1992. Name the band.
5. Name the year that Never Stop Me From Loving You, Especially For You and Hand On Your Heart were all hits.
6. Jive Bunny, Cliff Richard, a Grease Megamix. Which of these did PW not produce?
7. Name the five members of Westlife
8. Who had a hit with It’s A Fine Day in 1992?
9. Who had a hit with Roadblock?
10. Big Fun had a hit with a Jacksons song. Can you name it?
11. Westlife covered an ABBA song. Can you name it?
12. Bananarama and the Jackson 5 both had a hit with the same name (but not the same song). Can you name it?
13. Can you name two other artists who have recorded songs with the answer to #12? (NB: not cover versions)
14. Fill in the Jason Donavan blanks: Too Many XXXX XXXX
15. Fill in the Jason Donavan blanks: Every XXXX (I XXXX You More)
16. Fill in the Jason Donavan blanks: XXXX With A XXXX
17. Who had a hit with Say I’m Your Number One? Who had a hit with Stomp!?
18. Who had a hit with Wouldn’t It Be Good? Who had a hit with Whatever I Do, Wherever I Go?
19. Who had a hit with Pass The Dutchie? Who had a hit with Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)?
20. Who had a hit with No Limits? Who had a hit with Nothings Gonna Stop Me Now?

How many can you get? We got a measely 16.5 out of a possible 21. The winners got 20/21 but didn't win the £33 prize money.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

For the past two weeks I've been on a diet. Not that I think I'm incredibly overweight of anything it's just that since turning 40 a few months ago I've noticed that it's a little bit tougher to fit into my jeans than it used to be. My trousers are all 32" waist and it seems that my waistline seems to think it's 33" pushing 34". I used to be able to slip two fingers in between my waist and my jeans. Now I can't even slip one finger in. Not that I've any issue with gaining the odd pound or two but since I'm guzzling beer and eating chips and chocolate all the time I guess things could only get worse. So something had to be done.

So on January 1st 2002 I started my low-carbohydrate diet for a month. So no pasta, no bread, no potatoes, no beer, no sugar. And definitely no chocolate. What I can eat is protein and fat. So it's all steaks, roast lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, cream, eggs, cheese, full-fat mayonnaise, butter, vodka, white wine and salad. Quite an easy diet to stick to really.

And the results? Well, they speak for themselves. I've lost over 2kg in under two weeks. Already I can slide into my G-Star's as easily as the day I bought them. So it's back to slipping in those two fingers I guess too. Missus.
Fab Gadget...
On Saturday I went a bit mad.

Firstly I bought a new Samsung DECT phone / answering machine for the house (our old Philips one was getting a bit ropey). It's a fab little gizmo that does all you would expect a digital cordless phone to do. I spent about 5 minutes playing with it and got bored. Phones are just phones, right?

The second toy essential item I bought on Saturday was a digital video (DV) camera. I've been after one for some time and on the spur of the moment after much careful consideration went ahead and splashed out. In fact I'd been debating for some time which one to get. I knew I wanted to get a Sony ('cos I love Sony products and they've never let me down yet), I knew I wanted 0 lux so I could use it in low light conditions (keep your minds out of the gutter, please!) and I knew I wanted it to be able to take photographs too. The microDV cameras were a temptation at first because they are so ickle. But the miniDV camera range won out overall as they have zillions of more features and are not much bigger. I even did a 'needs analysis' on each camera in the Sony miniDV range weighing up cost, functionality, user feedback of each. And rest assured, there were spreadsheets involved. After much agonising I did what I always do. I bought the most expensive one!
So sitting in front of me now is my shiny new Sony DCR-PC120E PAL Digital Video Camera. It is a wonder to look at and a dream to use. It has 1.55 Mega-pixels, 120x digital zoom and 10x optical zoom, that 'super steady-shot' thing that keeps the picture steady when your hand shakes, 'super night shot' which actually can see in the dark (I tried it out and it is incredible), a Memory Stick (for photos and MPEG movies), firewire, USB, Bluetooth, support for POP3 and SMTP (to send and receive e-mail with pictures and video) and also HTTP (yes, I can browse the web from it and possible even blog).

It'll take me ages to get to grips with all the features I expect. But that's the fun of new gadgets, right?

Monday, January 14, 2002

I'm just wild about Harry...
Psst! Wanna see some live video footage on Marc Almond...
I've finally done something I've been meaning to do in ages. Record some video footage and encode it so I can stream it direct using the Windows Media Services that come with the Windows 2000 Server I have sitting in my attic. I recorded it straight from my TV card using ShowShifter as AVI format so I could then compress it to ASF using Windows Media Tools 4.1 (I couldn't get 7.1 to work and 8 looks a bit nuts and boltsy to me).

The clip is of Marc Almond singing Say Hello Wave Goodbye (click here to watch the clip) live (but recorded back after Marc's first Union Chapel gig) on Jools Holland's Hootmanay broadcast on New Year's Eve. I actually captured it on the repeat showing on New Year's Day.

The quality is a bit ropey (it's my first attempt and am still getting used to the options) and I've limited it to just over 3 minutes (it's 5 minute song).

If you would like to see the entire clip OR if you have any comments OR who think it's a complete waste of time and effort I'd appreciate you either dropping me a line or a message in the comments facility below. Ta.
Berlin Boys...
Roge and I have just booked a trip to Berlin. We always have a good time when we go away together; with no-one to keep us in check and what with him with no morals and me with no shame. We are going from Thursday 7th February through to Monday 11th February and staying in Hotel Sachsenhof. Has anyone got any suggestions as to where to go/where not to go, what to do and what are the "must-see" tourist attractions? I'm guessing with a shaved head we should both wear hats? I've heard the stories.

Sunday, January 13, 2002

Saturday, January 12, 2002

The Beautiful Light Of Madness Lyrics...
More lyrics from La Almond. Having been sent the unreleased MP3 and listening to it at least once a day at work it's nice to have it transcribed at last.

Your look is the look
Of the lost and disturbed
It's a beauty that's touched with a sadness
I try hard to reach out
With love in my words
To the beautiful light of your madness.

Let's go into the city to cry
Into the city to fight
Into the city to try
Dancing in the lamplight
Jumping from the buildings
Playing with the danger
Searching for the magic
Chasing the starlight

Mind of old age
But I'm still 17
Acting just like a kid
When you're lonely
I'm not want to damage
The sleazy little dreams
But if I could just reach you
If only I could reach you

Go into the city tonight
Into the city to fight
Into the city to try
Dancing in the lamplight
Jumping from the buildings
Searching for the danger
Playing with the magic
Chasing the starlight
Chasing the starlight

Don't look back to me now
Don't come back to me now
It's time to face the world alone
It's time to know I'm coming home
Chasing the starlight
Chasing the starlight
Chasing the starlight
Chasing the starlight

Reaching out for the unreachable
Try to love the unlovable
Try to touch the untouchable
Try to learn the unteachable
Chasing the starlight
Chasing the starlight
Chasing the starlight
Chasing the starlight
The beautiful light of madness
The beautiful light of madness
The beautiful light of madness
In your eyes
The beautiful light of madness
The beautiful light of madness
The beautiful light of madness
In your eyes

Reaching out for the unreachable
Try to touch the untouchable
Try to love the unlovable
Try to learn the unteachable
The beautiful light of madness
In your eyes

Chasing the starlight
Chasing the starlight

[Thanks to Hanko]

Friday, January 11, 2002

Lost in Cyber-Space...
The page cannot be displayed.
[Link from Roger]
Must-See Films...
Dave has come up with a great game. Change just one letter in a film title and come up with a new title. Then write a tag line for the film. He's running a little competition so go to his site and leave your suggestions. My contribution was as follows:-

"Futuristic thriller where robots are slain by hi-tech word play" - Blade Punner

"A governess put in charge of two young children begins to see the ghost of her dead predecessor. Only the local prison warder and his trusty side-kick Faeces can save her slow descent into madness" – The Turd Of The Screw

"New from Johnson and Johnson. Keep your rabbit’s botty free from diarrhoea with real feather goose wipes" - Watershit Down

"A world of fantasy awaits Mrs Mop when she tries to clean her chip fat laden hob" - The Lard Of The Rings

"Just when you thought it was safe to have an Indian curry" - Fart Apache

"No–one knew William’s secret ingredient to his creamy whirls. Until now" - Willy Wanka and The Chocolate Factory

"A shocking documentary depicting antisocial acts by male members such as public urination" - Penis The Menace

"Matthew Broderick reprises his 1986 film role to bring a slight twist to the term ‘bunking off’ school with his best friend" - Ferris Bueller’s Gay Off

Can you do any better? Sure you can.
Around The World In 80 Days…
Last night, being owed a favour, I found myself in possession of four freebies to go and see the Christmas show at the Battersea Arts Centre (BAC). I invited David, Marcus and Sarah to join me. And what a treat we had.

This year it was a musical version of Jules Verne’s Around The World In 80 Days. To say ‘musical’ is perhaps an understatement. It was a piece of visual theatre. An all-singing, all-dancing melodrama packed with verve, wit and high-powered performances. You may wonder how on earth one can stage air-born balloon chases, elephant rides, Chinese dragon parades and can-can dances at the Moulin Rouge all in the postage stamp auditorium at the BAC. And yet they achieved it. The stage was ‘thrust’ seating so we were sitting all but on the stage. The opening number had the performers singing grand forte two feet from you. A very exhilarating experience I can tell you.
As with any melodrama/pantomime you’d expect your fair share of puns and comedic songs. We had these aplenty.

Phil Willmott, the director of the show, plays the villain Captain Fix with relish; saving Bang! - the most hilarious number in the show - for himself, in which he kills every fluffy animal in the vicinity with zeal. His best line though is, “I’m six foot three. Of villainy.”

The Mormons in the US give a fantastic number about taking an extra wife. The multi-married preacher comes up with the obvious but still funny line, "Take another wife? That's big of you. No, I said that's Bigamy!"

My favourite character though was Eugene, the gay elephant. He’s very sensitive is our Eugene and is only coaxed to walk faster in the Indian jungle if sung to. And that explains why I can’t get "Yabba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba said the monkey to the chimp" out of my head this morning. Arrgghh!

I great, great show though. Everyone came out beaming. For an entertaining night out what more could you want?

Thursday, January 10, 2002

The truth can at last be told....
Back in 1984 Depeche Mode had a secret fifth member. While promoting Some Great Reward in the US this mystery Number Five was caught on film. And for the first time I can reveal their true identity. To avoid confusion, the mystery fifth member is the woman. On the left (!)
Is it me or does Martin Gore look like Cat from Eastenders? Must be the slap.
Actually come to think of it he looks more like an elf. Awww. He's only 4 feet 3 inches tall. Bless.
[Sorry Bryn, couldn't resist it]
Give it away, it's cheaper in the long run...
Our company used to provide free cans of Coke from a machine for the staff. Last year to save money they decided to charge (a nominal cost of 10p) for each can. That night and for the next week people would queue up with 10p coins and empty out the machine into their bags This was costing the company even more money than before. When asked why they did this staff said if they were paying for the Coke then they'd buy lots and take it all home for their families. It's cheaper than buying it at the local store. When it was free they didn't abuse the privilege and just drank it at work.

The 10p charge was soon dropped.
Decisions, decisions, decisions…
Next Thursday 17th January I have been invited to three things. All of which I would love to do.

1) Wendy and DJ Lush are having a big wing-ding to celebrate 5 years of managing the Retro Bar. They’re going to have loads of DJs (including Darren), a late license, free Bacardi and lots of people I know will be there. £3 ticket sales will all go to Stonewall. Wendy has been very good to me this last year and I owe her a lot. I really want to go to this.

2) Expectations (who I do some work for) have invited me to their (belated) Christmas party at Catford Dog Track. I’ve always wanted to go dog racing in the East End. The offer of going with a bunch of cute guys who make and sell leather and rubber who will all be in a party mood seems just too tempting. There will be fun, laughter and flirting aplenty (or is that just me!). I really want to go to this too.

3) Ben Norris, friend and comedy genius, is much loved by Hat Trick Productions who make loads of TV shows for the BBC: Have I Got News For You, They Think It’s All Over and Never Mind The Buzzcocks amongst others. Ben is pitching a completely new game show format to them that so far they seem to like a lot. He has three people from Hat Trick working full time on it and the format is being launched with a live version downstairs at Bar Code. I really want to go to this too (being both a friend and a media-whore myself).

So what should I do? I'm torn.
Blogger starts to charge...
It had to happen. I hear from Neil McIntosh at the Guardian via the UKBloggers list that Evan Williams (the man behind blogger) has plans to charge for a premium rate blogger service. "Faster and more reliable". There will still be a free service too but the premium rate one will be fancier. Worth $30 p.a. of anyone's cash I guess.

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

New Entries...
To join the list of the waggish and the darn right scurrilous in my sidebar please welcome the blogs pj, comatose and troubled diva. All good blog sites. All worth reading. Hello guys!
Gone but not forgotten...
Playing Pop Quiz last night brought back memories of team mates past and present. Sexy Dave all the way down in Oz (Hi, Dave!), love-God Darren (where the hell are you, man?!) and of course the gorgeous Karl ('did he jump or was he pushed?').
Pop Quiz Champs! (start the year the way you want to go on)...
Last night’s Retro Bar Pop Quiz was the traditional revisit to the favourite questions from quizzes over the past year. Anyone with a good memory and a high attendance record stood a good chance of doing well. Blessed with the latter rather than the former we were optimistic but not over confident. We needn’t have worried. We won. By a very long way.

David, Ian and I made up one team and Dave, Iain and new boy Andrew made up another. There were only 11 teams in total so it was more for fun than cash.

I shall alter the questions a little to make it into a better quiz for you here (as yet I can’t play tracks samples on my site).

01. Toploader had a hit with Dancing In The Moonlight. But what famous showbiz daughter recorded it originally in 1973?

02. Take part of an early Souxsie and the Banshees single and add it to part of the name of the band that recorded The Power Of Love and Hip To Be Square to get a children’s TV show title.

03. Take part of a Chris Spedding rock track and add it to a Madonna track title (that was an early number one from her first major film role) to get another children’s TV show title.

04. Richard Cheese (god love him) did a lounge cover of Last Resort. Can you name the original band who had a hit with this?

05. Richard Cheese also did a lounge cover of You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party. Can you name the original band who had a hit with this?

06. And finally Richard Cheese did a lounge cover of Holiday In Cambodia. Can you name the original band who had a hit with this?

07. Complete the En Vogue song title: XXXX (Never Gonna Get It)

08. Who had a hit with Girls Just Wanna Have Fun?

09. Which big fat momma had a hit with Somebody Else’s Guy?

10. Can you get the next 14 words in the Richard Marx song Right Here Waiting after: Oceans apart day after day, And I slowly go insane, I hear your voice on the line, But it doesn't stop the pain, If I see you next to never, How can we say forever…

11. What 50’s heart-throb sang Grease (Is The Word)?

12. What 60’s heart-throb sang Beauty School Dropout?

13. How many weeks was You’re The One That I Want number one in the UK?

14. Can you get the next 10 words in the Glen Campbell song Rhinestone Cowboy after: I've been walkin' these streets so long, Singin' the same old song, I know every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway. Where hustle's the name of the game, And nice guys get washed away like the snow and the rain, There's been a load of compromisin', On the road to my horizon, But I'm gonna be where the lights are shinin' on me. Like a Rhinestone Cowboy...

15. What year did Gene Pitney originally have a number three hit with Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart in the UK?

16. Complete the S Club 7 song titles: (a) Bring It All XXXX (b) XXXX In A Million (c) XXXX Party (d) XXXXch (e) NatXXXX (f) Don’t Stop XXXX (g) Have You XXXX (two points for all 7 correct)

17. Who had a hit with (a) Nancy Boy and who had a hit with (b) Single Girl?

18. Who had a hit with (a) Inbetweener and who had a hit with (b) Space Oddity?

19. Who had a hit with (a) Why Does It Always Rain On Me? and who had a hit with (b) Yellow?

Our score of 17½ out of 20 secured a belated Christmas present of S Club 7’s first CD S Club. Fantastic.

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

Trouble Diva's Pop Quiz Anwsers...
Now go check out his site and give him a big wet one. His quiz was great. Got any more?

1. Blue. (Eiffel 65’s #1 was ‘Blue (Da Ba Dee)’)
2. Both have a member called Jon Lee.
3. Mick Jagger (Goddess In The Doorway)
4. Because Hear’say recorded a track with David Cassidy which only appears on his Then And Now top ten album. They also released their own ‘Popstars’ and ‘Everybody’ albums.
5. The soundtrack album to the film ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’. It sold more than any artist’s album.
6. Erasure’s debut album was Wonderland. In 2001, The Charlatans also released an album called Wonderland, and Kelis released one called Wanderland.
7. Oxide & Neutrino, with ‘Bound 4 Da Reload (Casualty)’ in 2000, and as part of So Solid Crew with ‘21 Seconds’ in 2001.
Or: Spice Girls/Emma Bunton is another correct answer (with ‘Holler/Let Love Lead The Way’ in 2000 and ‘What Took You So Long?’ in 2001).
Or: Kylie, who dropped her surname in 2001 for the ‘Fever’ album and its ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head Single’. She was still Kylie Minogue when ‘Spinning Around’ was #1 in 2000.
8. The artists appeared as animated versions in the videos.
9. Both names had previously been used by ANOTHER chart act. Blue were another male UK group, who had a #18 hit single in 1977 with ‘Gonna Capture Your Heart’. Oasis had a #23 album in 1984, also called ‘Oasis’.
10. They are the Belgian, Australian and New Zealand groups formed by each country’s version of the Popstars TV programme.
11. Kylie
12 (a) = "….then you SWALLOW slower." (Diana Ross)
12 (b) = "…you’re about as easy as A NUCLEAR WAR" (Duran Duran)
12 (c) = "…you were a SLEEPAROUND, a lost and found…." (Soft Cell)
13. They’re all called ‘Gold’.
14. Estonia’s forgettably crap winning song was called ‘Everybody’, the same as Hear’say’s third single and second album.
15. Kylie Minogue and Nicole Kidman.
16. The Backstreet Boys. They are still going, but all the others announced they were splitting up in 2001.
17 (a) = S Club 7
17 (b) = ‘Never Had A Dream Come’ (2000’s 9th best-seller) and ‘Don’t Stop Movin’’ (2001’s 7th best-seller). (NB. ‘Reach’ was only the 11th best-seller of 2000!)
18. Mambo No.5 (for Lou Bega and Bob The Builder).
19. They’re the only four acts in the last three years who have CLIMBED to #1 from inside the chart, and not been a NEW ENTRY in the top spot. This is a particularly sneaky answer, as DJ Otzi’s ‘Hey Baby (Uh Ah)’ was at #45 on import the week before its UK release, but wasn’t classed as a new entry the next week because the import and the UK release had the same catalogue number. Technically therefore, it’s a climber, beating the record held since 1982 by Captain Sensible’s ‘Happy Talk’ (#33 to #1, I think) for the biggest leap to #1.
20. Manic Street Preachers (So Why So Sad, #8 and Found That Soul, #9).
21. Lush (Hypocrite #52 and Desire Lines #60).
22. ‘XL’ by 5ive and ‘Pulp’ by Pulp.
Five were threatened with legal action by successful dance label XL Recordings, (but apparently NOT by Kingsize records, another dance label!)
Jarvis Cocker said (on TV: Chig saw him!) that they were going to release an eponymous album because they couldn’t think of a title.
23. James – Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)
24. Six: Kylie (#1), Posh’s mate Elton John (#2), Ian Brown (#3), Bob The Builder (#4), Garbage (#6) David Cassidy (#7). Victoria entered at #10 and fell to #35 the next week. Four of this other six (including Bob The Builder AND David Cassidy) are still in the top 75. Victoria is not.
25 (a) = Afroman
25 (b) = Abs from 5ive
25 (c) = Shaggy
25 (d) = J from 5ive
Life's A Lonely Drag...
The wonderful Hanko has come up trumps again. Not content with sending me an MP3 of Marc Almond singing The Beautiful Light Of Madness the other week he's followed it up with Marc performing Life's A Lonely Drag recorded live in a TV studio. It's a melodic, bluesy number that swaggers like a drunk through the jazzy, smoke filled resesses of Marc's tragic imagination. Fantastic.
Attack Of The Clowns...
I used to be a big Star Wars fan. But of late Star Wars has begun to lose it's appeal. Episode I was disappointing. Episode II doesn't look to be much better (I hope I'm wrong though). And stories like camping out four months ahead of release just serve to put me off even further. Tell me I'm wrong. Help me back on the road. Tell me that Star Wars is still good. Please.

Monday, January 07, 2002

New Kid On Our Block...
We have someone moving in to our place tonight. They're flying in from Germany as we speak. Used to be a model too. We're all really looking forward to spending much more time together.

Sunday, January 06, 2002

Ready to drop off...
What with Bar Code and the Artful Dodger Friday night. And then the MAN Bar and XXL Saturday night. I've got a sore head today.

Saturday, January 05, 2002

Fame - The Musical...

I just want to say a heart-felt thank you for last night. Thank you for the tickets, for the champagne and for the company.

Fun is not the word. Fantastic is the word.

And why that wretched Mr Sim insisted on getting a giggling fit right at the tender moment when the club-footed violinist was trying to tap dance with the bald Spanish drug-user in the Morticia wig is frankly beyond me. That moment nearly brought me to tears.

Serious though I had a blast. You are, as ever, generous to a fault.

Jonathan XX

Friday, January 04, 2002

Pop Quiz 2001...
I found this fantastic pop quiz on the wonderful troubled diva site. Bigups for such a great quiz. I found it rather tricky and so reproduce it here to see if any of you hip cats know the answers. Feel free to post any you know to my comments below so I can cheat dazzle troubled diva with my pathetic memory of all things pop in 2001 encyclopedic 2001 pop knowledge next week.

Chig's 2001 fiendish pop quiz.

1) Ignoring brackets, which name reached #1 in 1999 as a song title, and then in 2001 as the name of an artist?

2) What is the connection between the memberships of Feeder and S Club 7?

3) Which megastar sold 954 copies of his third solo album on its day of release, on the same day that Robbie Williams sold 74,000 of Swing When You’re Winning?

4) Why would Hear’say fans have had to buy THREE albums in 2001 to get all the tracks they released on albums? (NB. It’s nothing to do with import versions of albums.)

5) What was the biggest selling album in America in 2001? (Correct up to 31/10/01, just in case the Music For Heroes 11th September tribute album has now outsold it. That's not the answer I'm looking for.)

6) It sounds like Kelis has something in common with The Charlatans and Erasure. What is it?

7) Which two people topped the singles chart in 2000 and again in 2001, but under different names each time?

8) What did these 2001 single releases have in common?
Five ‘Rock The Party’
Robbie Williams ‘Let Love Be Your Energy’
Limp Bizkit ‘Boiler’
Steps ‘Words Are Not Enough’

9) What’s the connection between the names of Oasis and 2001 double chart-toppers Blue?

10) What do the following groups all have in common?
Vanda Vanda
Skandal Us

11) All of these acts had TWO #1 singles in the UK in 2001, EXCEPT which one?:
Shaggy, Atomic Kitten, Hear’say, Westlife, Blue, Kylie, S Club 7, Robbie Williams

12) Sex and violence are obviously not allowed in the squeaky clean worlds of Steps, allSTARS and er, David Gray, so they censored their own lyrics. All three of them released covers of 1980s hits in 2001, and all three ludicrously changed a line in their remakes. What was the original lyric in each case?

(a) "You make me tremble when your hand moves lower. You taste a little then you follow slower."
(Steps – Chain Reaction)

(b) "Don’t say you’re easy on me; you’re about as easy as you were before"
(allSTARS – Is There Something I Should Know?)

(c) "You were a runaround, a lost and found, and not for me I fear. "
(David Gray – Say Hello Wave Goodbye)

13) Loads of acts released greatest hits compilations at the end of 2001, but what distinguishes those from Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Perry Como and Steps from most of the others?

14) Hear’say won Popstars, and Estonia won Eurovision. What’s the direct connection between Hear’say and Eurovision 2001?

15) Name every Australian to reach #1 in the UK singles chart in 2001.

16) Which group is the odd one out?
(a) All Saints
(b) Savage Garden
(c) Aqua
(d) Five
(e) Backstreet Boys

17) Only one act in the Top Ten singles of 2000 has also managed to get a single in the Top Ten of 2001.
(a) Who?
(b) What are the two singles?

18) Which song reached #1 in 1999 and again in 2001, for a different act?

19) Only Steps and Cliff Richard did it in 1999, only Bob The Builder did it in 2000, and only DJ Otzi did it in 2001. Did what exactly?

20) Who attempted to enter the chart at #1 and #2 by releasing two singles on the same day in February, but only managed to enter at #8 and #9?

21) Which indie band had tried the above trick in 1994, only reaching #52 and #60, before they had some much bigger hits at the height of Britpop?

22) Both of these 2001 albums were called something entirely different until moments before release (even being reviewed in magazines under their previous titles):
Kingsize (Five)
We Love Life (Pulp).
(a) What were they originally called?
(b) What was the official reason given for each change?

23) On a similar note, which band toured with a song called ‘Daniel’s Saving Grace’, long before releasing it as a single in 2001, and what did the title become on release?

24) Victoria Beckham’s self-titled debut album and Kylie’s ‘Fever’ were both released on the same day, in the ‘titanic chart battle’ that never happened. How many new albums eventually entered the chart higher than Victoria Beckham’s in that first week?

25) All these people had #1 singles in 2001. This is how they’re known to their mothers, but how are they known to music fans?
Joseph Foreman
Richard Breen
Orville Burrell
Jason Brown
And I wanted to be Will...
Being Grace means that you're the type of person that always looks for the good in others even if there is no good. Everytime you get into trouble, you pull your friends with you, just to make them part of the "fun". With friends you'll make it, but alone you're just as scared as a 10 year old girl. When it comes to discussions you're always right or, that is what you think.
Which Will & Grace character are you!? Click on the picture to find out!

All these tests are like looking up your stars in the paper - a bit of fun but no basis in reality.
Twelve Bar Blues...
Twelve Bar Blues by DJ Patrick Neate has won the Best Novel award in the Whitbread Book Prize. This is only his second book.

What the Guardian says
"A genre-crossing peach of a fiction that neatly intertwines raucous tales of post-colonial Africa with lives of turn of the century American prostitutes and jazz musicians."

What the judges say
"A sprawling and unusual extravaganza of a novel. The ranginess of the story mirrors the arbitrariness of life, while the electrifying prose brings to life characters whose experiences span one century, several cultures and many colours. Patrick Neate sets a high standard for modern fiction."

What I say
"He's cute."
"You can be Socialist and have staff you know, darling"...
I hate housework. I hate ironing, I hate dusting, I hate cleaning, I hate it all. Not that I don't like ironed clothes, a dust-free flat or a clean kitchen. I just can't be asked to do it. I'm lazy like that.

Years ago I saw an advert posted up in the now defunct London Lesbian and Gay Centre (LLGC) in Cowcross Street for 'cleaning services'. I couldn't quite get my head round the idea that someone would actually come round to my house and Hoover, dust and clean for what then seemed like a very small amount of cash. I just couldn't believe it. Cleaners were something rich people had and I was on a very (very) modest income at the time. I took a note of the number and arranged a meeting. Sure enough his man was happy to do all that he had said and more. I gave him a set of keys and every week I would come home from work to a spotless flat. I was amazed and ecstatic in equal measures.

Many years (and five cleaners) later we have just employed our latest cleaner. She is Lithuanian, comes on Mondays and Fridays and does the house from top to bottom. She puts the washing on, washes up, irons, dusts, tidies and generally makes the flat a joy to live in. She lets herself in at 8:30am and stays for three hours each day. That's six hours a week. I try and leave about the same time for work each day so I can say hello. And a thank you. A big, big thank you. For this woman is a star. A saviour. For I shall never have to do housework again.

Thursday, January 03, 2002

Tax, man...
I've spent almost the entire day doing my tax return. No, I'm not keen. It's just last year's return and the final deadline is fast approaching - 31st January 2002. I always promise myself I'm going to do it early but this year I missed the we-will-calculate-your-tax-for-you deadline in September and am now having to calculate it all myself. Bah!

I suppose I have no real objection to paying income tax per se. As long as the money is well spent and as long as everybody else pays it too I think it is a very good way of funding public and social services, education, the military, government blah, blah, blah. I've always found the Inland Revenue (IR) to be helpful, prompt and (best of all) pragmatic. No, the IR is fine. It's Custom and Excise (C&E) I can't stand. They have unpopular taxes (VAT, duty on alcohol etc) and unlimited powers to search your home and investigate you without a court order.

Funny then that whenever I sit down to do my tax return (run by IR) it fills me with the same feeling as walking through the Nothing To Declare channel at customs (run by C&E). I know I've done nothing wrong but you can't but feel guilty about something. This time especially I don't think I have anything to feel guilt about. I reckon they owe me a £111 tax rebate.
You're right, I didn't realize. I do now though. Thanks.
Too short...
My grandmother was a philiosophical old bird. Her last words to me before she died were, "It's too short".
Of course it was the 70s. She could have been talking about my skirt.
[Daphne on Frasier]

Wednesday, January 02, 2002

New Year's resolution...

Take the What Should Your New Year's Resolution Be? Quiz

[Thanks to Shel for the link]
The last few days...
On Sunday Colin, Martin, Stephen, Ross, Marky, Nikki, Chris, Peter and I all met up for beer and games. We took over the back bar at the Ram Bar where the pool table and darts board are. The Ram Bar is usually full of the most eclectic mix of rich drunkards and assorted low-life - so we fitted right in! I was in my element organising teams to play Round The World, 501 and the like. Best night out in a long time. We crawled home very late. And boy did I have a hangover on Monday.

Monday was of course New Year's Eve itself. I was working during the day and at 8pm we went round to Chris and Stu's for dinner with the gang. Tania and Graham popped in too (to sort of announce their engagement) and we all had a merry good time. By 1:30am Marky and I were getting a little twitchy though as we had arranged to meet Colin at some point in the Artful. One very expensive cab ride later we were there. And for the next four hours we played. A fab way to spend NYE, I say. And boy did I have a hangover yesterday.

Last night (Tuesday) Nikki, Ian, Graham (sans Chris), Marky and I went to Le Petit Auberge (rapidly becoming my favourite eatery) for dinner. Afterwards Graham, Marky and I went to Central Station for more alcohol and mischief - again we played pool, had a little dance and chased the boy with the bubble-butt round the dark room. I found his phone number in my jeans' pocket this morning. And boy did that help me feel better about my hangover today.
The Weakest Link - Drag Queens...
All over the festive season there have been special 'The Weakest Link' shows. On New Year's Day it was the turn of drag queens. It was a riot. 'Betty' from Blackpool's Funny Girls won - deservedly so.

Tuesday, January 01, 2002

New Year's Eve...
We had a fantastic time. More details later. But in the meantime HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!