Quote Of The Day

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

Friday, November 29, 2002

Adding insult to injury...
Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor is being treated in a hospital in Los Angeles following a car accident on Sunset Boulevard on Wednesday. Poor Zsa Zsa. But the BBC News has been adding insult to injury. On their web site they make the rather open-ended claim that, "Zsa Zsa is most famous for her multiple marriages..." Not as an actress, then?

But worse still on BBC News 24's TV Breakfast News this morning they ended the piece with the following, "Zsa Zsa Gabor is at least 85." Bitches. Well she was crowned Miss Hungary in 1936!
Beckham denies internet rumours...
David Beckham has issued a statement to say there was "absolutely no truth" in rumours about him on the internet. E-mail users around the UK and beyond have been circulating claims about the Manchester United star which first appeared on a website. But in a statement his spokeswoman said that repeating the rumours could result in legal action.

The spokeswoman said: "We are aware that there are malicious rumours circulating in the media about David Beckham. "There is absolutely no truth whatsoever in these rumours and the website we believe to be the source of these rumours has been contacted and all defamatory material has been removed.

"No publication of these rumours should be made as it would result in legal liability for defamation."

So there.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Tickets please...
How tube users pay their fares will be much simpler if London Underground's (LU's) latest billing system project goes ahead.

The new application will build on the smart card system due to be introduced next year, and will allow travellers to 'charge up' their card remotely using the internet or telephone, or pay by direct debit at the end of the month so avoiding ever lengthening queues at ticket offices.

The project would be a world first for post-payment for travel. The system is expected to go live in 2004.

The software will be configured so the final payment figure gives the customer the best possible deal, claims the company. The idea is that if you have made enough trips to qualify for a weekly ticket then that is what you will be charged. Similarly for the monthly one. "So customers won't need to decide in advance whether they need a weekly or a monthly ticket - they will get the best deal no matter how much they travel", claims LU.

So we will have to trust LU to get the billing right and be confident they're billing us the right amount?

Fat chance. I'd rather queue.
Socialist Worker...
Every now and again there are a couple of people outside our tube station in the mornings shouting "SOCIalist Worker! Get your SOCIalist Worker" and selling the increasing comic-like newspaper of the same name. Not generally known for their sense of humour but generally good-natured these lefties are always happy to tease the champagne socialists (note the small 's') that inhabit Islington. This morning the boot has on the other (centre-left?) foot.

"How come the Government have billions for bombing Iraq but nothing for the fire-fighters?" proclaimed one of the ranting vendors waving a newspaper with a giant-fonted headline in our faces.

Mark remarked, "What? You mean you want the Government to start bombing the fire-fighters too?"

He smiled. We smiled. No doubt he'll have a witty rebuttal tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

The Long Flight Back (the star, the anguish, the midflight drama and the trouser fan)...
It's a long flight back from Australia. Almost 23 hours with a brief stop-over in Bangkok to refuel. Even so our flight was perhaps more eventful than most.

We didn't turn up particularly early at the gate at Sydney airport - we were too busy having a last schooner of Victoria Bitter (VB) at the Stonewall in Oxford Street. Funny though, later on that night the ceiling of the Stonewall collapsed. Luckily no-one was injured badly.

Anyway, so as I was saying, we turned up a bit late at the gate (extra security checks are in place now that Australia is on an official alert after the recent Bin Laden threats). And who should we see waiting to board but JK - Mr Jamiroquai himself. He was sitting with his minder flicking through a glossy mag. I recognised him first due to the brown wide brimmed pointy hat he had on (like the one's that Boy George has taken to wearing). The minder was glaring at people daring them to approach his boss - but no-one did. JK is known for his temper (did you see that thing on TV last month about celebs behaving badly?) As all the seats around that gate were taken Marky and I walked on to the next gate (which had already boarded) and settled ourselves there - just occasionally craning our necks round to see what JK was up to.

Marky and I started to read our books. Our part of the concourse was deserted all but for a couple of members of staff at the empty gate who were repeatedly calling for two passengers with (funny names) and was threatening to chuck there bags off. Suddenly there was a huge kerfuffle from the other gate as JK sprang to his feet and shouted "I DON'T BELIEVE THIS! I SIMPLY DON'T BELIEVE THIS!" He and his minder had been waiting at the wrong gate. Ha! The funny names were their pseudonyms! JK picked up his skirts and ran to the empty gate like a girl - and only narrowly missing getting bumped off. Even then the staff were asking him for him autograph. Tosser.

Once on our flight we settled down to watch some movies for the 9 hour first leg up to Bangkok. We watched All Or Nothing (Mike Leigh) and then Ladybird, Ladybird (Ken Loach). The latter film was a gut wrenching 'based on a true story' about a woman who was abused as a kid, later in life got beaten up by her boyfriend, had her four kids (all by different fathers) taken away from her by social services, had another kid with a Peruvian guy - then had that one taken away while still an infant, then had yet another kid with the Peruvian guy and had that one taken away too while still in the maternity hospital. You'd have thought she would have given up by then but oh no, she went then had a further three kids - all of which she was allowed to keep. After watching the film I had tears running down my cheeks. It was a very emotional film to watch.

When we touched down in Bangkok we got off the plane in order to do a bit of running around and stretch our legs for a bit. We wandered through duty free and tried to pretend we were awake enough to enjoy ourselves.

Back on the plane we had a change of cabin crew - our new one in economy was as cute as a button. Scottish, tanned and very tactile. Very. I didn't really notice him at first mind you but I could hardly fail to notice him before long (but more of that later).

The flight was to last 12 hours, after a brief dinner we tried to settle down to sleep and did indeed managed to get a few hours kip. What we didn't realise was what was happening while we were asleep. Someone at the back of the plane was trying to open the door. Not that he stood a chance at 38000 feet in a pressurised cabin but the mere attempt was enough to get the crew to spring into action. Literally. They managed to restrain him in a seat and kept him there for the rest of the flight. All he had to say for himself was "I hate the British". Yeah? Well, why fly BA then?!
When we landed he was bundled off the plane at Heathrow - I guess they'll press charges.

But back to our good looking flight attendant. As I mentioned he was rather attentive - perhaps 'rather' is too mild a word. After I first got on the plane he said to me, "where did you get those trousers from?" (pointing at my G-Star jeans that I wear virtually 24/7). I told him. "Oh, really. They're nice. Good fit.", he said. Subtle - not! Mark and I looked at each other and laughed.

Moments later he was back. "I've spoken to some of the other crew (huh? what? in the 15 seconds you've been down the aisle and back?) and we were wondering where you got them from?" "Didn't you just ask that", I replied. He seemed unphased. "You should try them on, " I quipped. "Hmm", he murmured. Uh-oh - we've got a fan here.

As the flight continued he passed me bottles of wine, was constantly at my side asking if I needed anything and kept going on and on and on about my trousers. "Where did I get them from, again?" "How much did they cost?" "Could he get them in London?"

By this point Mark wasn't even trying to hide his amusement; "Here comes your new boyfriend again!" "You've got a Scot stalker" etc etc.

He was quite cute so I decided to brave it out. I shamelessly wrote down all the details of my trousers - make, style, colour and even included my inside leg measurement (tart!) - and added my e-mail address "in case he wanted to know anything else about them". He hasn't been in contact yet - but he will be. I can tell. I can feel it in my trousers.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Almond liqueur ads dropped because they smell like cyanide gas...
An advertising campaign that wafted the aroma of almond liqueur through the London Underground has been dropped because the smell is similar to cyanide gas. Amaretto Di Saronno dropped the ads from their £1.5m Christmas marketing campaign after Home Office advice about the threat of terrorist activity.

The scent of the sweet-tasting drink was replicated using aromatherapy oils, but, unfortunately for the manufacturers, cyanide gas also smells of almond, although it's bitter almond.

Jon Evans, the brand manager, said: "The production of aroma is only one element of the campaign, and whilst we regret that Underground passengers will no longer enjoy this aspect, security issues are clearly more important than marketing activity."
[From: The Independent]
Vodafone PXT service...
One of the sponsor's of the Gay Games was Vodafone. They were basically plugging their new PXT (picture text) service. To do so they were running around taking snaps of people in bars and outside with a mobile phone camera. The results have been put on their Australian web site and guess who appears in one? Me and Scally!
What do Briton's do on average 149 times a year?...
Have sex, apparently. A poll by Durex has found adults in the UK have sex on average 149 times a year.

It works out at just under 2.9 times a week - making the UK the fifth most amorous nation out of 22 surveyed. The most lovestruck are the French who have sex 167 times a year, followed by the Dutch (158), the Danes (152) and Canadians (150).

The Global Sex Survey was compiled by using questionnaire answers from 50,000 people - 3,500 in the UK - through its websites worldwide.

Americans are more reserved than the British when it comes to sex, with the average adult claiming to make love 138 times a year, followed by New Zealanders (135), and the Spanish (121). Bottom of the list of 22 nations was Singapore where adults say they have sex 110 times a year.

Just under three-quarters of Britons fantasise about having sex with a celebrity, with Brad Pitt topping the list for women at 33% and Kylie Minogue the number one celebrity for men with 18% of the votes.

Other results from the UK section of the survey found 49% of men fantasise about sex with their best friend's partner. Fancy.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Just catching up with the news (Part VII)...
Trevor's dead. Tom's dead. There's a new manager/con man in the Vic. I don't know. Nothing happens for six months in Eastenders and then it all kicks off.
Just catching up with the news (Part VI)...
Kiki and Herb are playing again in London. Hurray! Gotta go at least twice this time! Anyone else wanna go?
Just catching up with the news (Part V)...
When we left to go on holiday Christmas was ages away. Now it's only a month away! Yikes!
Just catching up with the news (Part IV)...
There's a fire fighter's strike on! And London Underground have closed loads of tube stations as a safety measure.
Just catching up with the news (Part III)...
The Xbox Live UK service is about to go live. Xbox Live is an online gaming service that lets you play multiplayer Xbox games on the Internet using high-speed Internet access. Has anyone used it yet? Is it any good?
Just catching up with the news (Part II)...
Someone's invented a new mobile phone keyboard with numbers AND letters - about time!
Just catching up with the news (Part I)...
Oh no - not another Big Brother? But it's winter and it's at the same time as Popstars and Fame Academy (they're still on, right?) and it's got even crappier celebs than before and... and...

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Home - just...
Got back to the UK at 5am this morning and desperately trying to stay awake until night time. Drama on the plane though - more when I'm awake. Zzzzzz.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Homeward bound...
Thursday we came back to Sydney for a few days. It was nice to just relax and do nothing for a while to be honest and spend a bit more time with Dave, Russ and Rich. They are all coming over to the UK together in late January. And Richard is kindly taking us to the airport for our 5pm flight this afternoon. In fact we're meeting them all for brunch in a few minutes so I'd better sign off. See you all back on the other side of the world...
Ayers Rock...
On Tuesday we paid a flying visit to the Ayers Rock Resort. It was an incredible 24 hours - not unlike being on a film set. Sure the Rock itself and the nearby Olgas were amazing but the thing that sticks in the mind is the resort. Not unlike the film Westworld or perhaps even The Stepford Wives it seemed to be staffed by autotomatons. Happy, smiling robots that were only too happy to help - but there was evil behind those eyes, evil I tell you.

Our trip to the Olgas was cut short by a Mummy style sand storm that chased us up a valley and eventually blocked out the sun and almost choked us to death. An hour later we were caught in a terrific thunder storm - lightning, torrential rain, the works. The weather was, as they say, against us.

To be honest we were quite happy to leave.

Monday, November 18, 2002

News from Blighty...
What's all this I hear about Posh getting snatched? And gas on the tube? What have I been missing?

The only news we get here is that England are crap at cricket and that Oz was robbed of a win in the Rugger at the weekend.

Talking of the cricket, on the second day of the first Test England were making a spirited defence after a disastrous first day. And the headline in the local paper? "The Empire Strikes Back" Fnah!
Up at the crack of dawn today we set off on safari. Travelling up the coast through Port Douglas we headed for Cape Tribulation. Apparently Captain Cook had a tough time round these parts so named places accordingly... Mount Perseverance... Mount Despair... you get the picture.

After an hour's drive we found ourselves walking through Wet Rainforest (very different from the Dry kind, don't you know?). We took a cruise up a river to spot some more crocs, swam in a creek (rather nervously), had a slap up meal in the forest and finally arrived at the Cape where we found golden sand and the coral reef just 50m off shore - "where the rainforest meets the reef" or so it says in the guide book.

It was a long day (12 hours) so we're now back at the hotel for one last night. Tomorrow we fly to Ayers Rock until Wednesday when we go back to Sydney.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Night Zoo...
Saturday we went to a Night Zoo - basically a zoo but at night time (duh!). The reason for this is that many animals in this neck of the woods are nocturnal. Koalas and possums sleep for 20 hours a day the lazy gits so we had to catch them when they were awake. The evening was a little bit 'themed' in that along with the regular commentary we got 'genuine Australian banter'. Cobber. We also got dinner thrown in and a bit of singing and dancing too. A fun night out.
Great Barrier Reef...
On Friday we took a catamaran out to the furthermost point on the Great Barrier Reef to do some snorkeling and tour the reef in a submarine. Words cannot do the trip justice. It was everything you might imagine it would be. Brilliant coloured coral, fantastic fish and blue warm water to see it all in.

Naturally I got sun-burnt - what trip would be complete without it?
On Thursday we took a train up a mountainside to the village of Kuranda. It was an amazing ride that took us over canyons and by waterfalls. The village itself was a bit of a tourist trap but we did get to see some crocs, cuddle a koala, feed some kangaroos, get bitten by a parrot. The trip back down the mountain was by Skyrail - a 30 minute trip above the treetops by what can best be described as a ski-lift. Jesus, I was scared!

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Today (Wednesday) we left Sydney behind and headed up the coast to Cairns. It's a major stopping off point for trips to the Great Barrier Reef, tropical rainforest and other outward bound activities. The heat (and more importantly the humidity) here is very high but we have factor 15 sunscreen to spare the loads of the rashness that only the English seem to possess for going out in the midday sun (as I was saying to a mad dog only the other day).

We've booked a couple of trips so far - one to go up a mountain by cable car (I get vertigo) tomorrow and the other to go out to sea (I hate boat trips) on Friday. Sometimes even I amaze myself.
Oh Sydney you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind! Hey Sydney! Hey Sydney! (Part II)...
Tuesday was a repeat of Monday in many ways - we took the second Sydney Explorer Bus Tour - this time out to Bondi Beach. We broke up our journey by walking the coastal road from Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach. This has to be one of the most beautiful walks in the world. Amazing views, staggering cliffs and cute little picturesque bays and beaches. This walk was made all the more interesting between Bondi to Tamarama however by the 107 pieces of art that were installed along the way. On the rocks, in the seas and on the beaches. The exhibition is called Sculpture By The Sea and is "Australia's largest annual outdoor free to the public exhibition of contemporary sculpture". Great fun and at times very funny.

Later that day we met up with Dave, Scally, Russell and Richard to celebrate Dave getting his Aussie Citizenship. Well done, Dave! To receive his certificate Dave was dressed in an Australian flag, Aussie flag boxers and an Australian hat with corks hanging from it. He looked quite sweet - if a little bit like a super hero? Someone suggested 'Captain Australia'. Much champagne, more drinks, one A$5 steak plus beer and a small pub crawl later Dave was ready for bed. Unlike the rest of us who carried on the celebrations to the wee small hours. Last thing I remember is watching Shrek in a seedy club somewhere. God I was wrecked!
Oh Sydney you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind! Hey Sydney! Hey Sydney! (Part I)...
On Monday we did the first of a two part tour of the city. We took in all the sites from Mrs Macquaries' Chair to Woolloomooloo Bay on the fantastic Sydney Explorer Bus Tour. Quite a trip and well worth the A$30. Later we met up with Dave, Scally, Russell, David and Adrian and went for $5 steaks at T2 - bargain meal and great company. A great time was had by... Scally who had sex with a guy in the toilet who then joined us for drinks in the Oxford later and then then ended up going back to his place for a shag - not that I'm jealous at ...all.

Monday, November 11, 2002

A big finish...
Davie, Scally, Gary, Richard, Russell, David, Kevin, Marky and I went to Stonewall in the afternoon at about 3pm to start the serious business of getting plastered prior to the closing ceremony and farewell party out at Fox Studios. We got plastered all right. So much so we needed to go and have a lie down! About 5:30pm we went over to pick up R&R and co. from their apartment... [edited bit]

The closing ceremony was crap though. Just a bunch of boring speeches and thank yous that went on interminably. After about an hour we left to go back to out apartment to have a further kip and change.

At 10:30pm to stopped by in Charlie and Matt's apartment for a small party and then headed over to R&R's again to pick the gang up for a second time that evening... [edited bit]. As we approached Fox Studios the scene could best be described as a Gay Disneyland packed full of 15000+ people: two huge sound stages given over to dance halls and two other smaller (though still big by any one's standard) venues, a cinema (!), restaurants, shops, bars etc etc. All very impressive. We stayed there dancing until 6am. Marky even took his shirt off (love him).

After that I was ready for bed - where I stayed for the next day and a half (I only got up first thing Monday morning). Mark went on with Davie and Scally to The Shift. Those boys!
The last day of the games...
We stayed in Friday night (gasp!) so we could get up early on Saturday morning to go and watch the tennis open men's final (Netherlands vs US). It was a good match but the heat was incredible. The sun was beating down making it 34 degrees C in the shade so heaven knows how hot it was on the court. The US won in the end which was well deserved.

After that we headed back to the Novotel in the Olympic Park for a bevy and where we spotted Dorinda, the big black woman who's the chef on Channel 10's Good Morning Australia show. We love that show since we've been here we watch it faithfully every morning. Bert Newton, the host, is a very funny guy. His wig is called Oscar by the way.

Friday, November 08, 2002

We are the (football) champions...
Today, Friday, we went out to Meadowbank in Sydney's north suburbs to go and watch UK football team Stonewall play in the Division A Final. They thrashed Team Munich 3-0 and a very good match it was too. Well, what we saw of it. Due to an unfortunate combination of events we got lost on the way there. Very unlike me I know. Instead of going straight to the ground we ended up getting first a ferry, then a bus, then a train, then another train and then a third and final train. Oh, and then we had to walk. D'oh! We got to see the last 20 minutes though so I was happy. Note to self: take map and ask 'is this our stop?' at regular intervals.
Black Party...
Yesterday, Thursday Oz time, we went to watch the basketball in North Sydney. Lots of jumping about and floppy shorts (hmmmm) - much more watchable than I had ever thought possible. Oddly (OK perhaps not that oddly) I'd always thought basketball as being (a) a mainly male sport, and (b) a mainly black sport (influenced by all those American sports programs we get to see on TV in the UK and films like 'White Men Can't Jump'). But from what we saw yesterday it was a sport that had a broad appeal across all sexes and all races. In fact though I thought I wouldn't like it much I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that it was both fun and quite engaging. Who knew? I might actually give it a chance in the future.

Later that night we found ourselves surrounded by 10,000+ leather-clad, rubber-wearing and/or virtually naked dancing boys at the Black Party in Fox Studios. Beefcake, slim-bods and bears a go-go. It was a male only space and boy did some people take advantage of that fact (ahem). Both the sheer size of the event and the enthusiasm that everyone was throwing themselves into the party were equally stunning. Sadly the thumping (music), throbbing (hot bodies) and drug influencing (light show) all got a bit much for me by about 2am so I headed home to rest my bones, ears and libido.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

And Then There's Bea...
Yesterday we had a day off from watching sport. We sat by the pool (and got lobster pink the way that only the English overseas can), had a spa and went to a sauna. All very relaxing and restful.

In the evening we went to see Beatrice Arthur perform in her one woman show "And Then There's Bea". The star of Maude, Mame, and The Golden Girls, Bea recalled some of the highlights of her remarkable stage and television career with funny stories, songs and predictably salty observations of life in the spotlight. Beautifully delivered with a wry expressiveness, Bea's show was for me one of the highlights of the Games so far - and probably for many other Friends of Dorothy too (fnah, fnah).
Melbourne Cup...
Yesterday, Tuesday, we headed out to watch the touch rugby. The sun was beating down and the sweat was pouring off the rugby players as they ambled around the parched grass in Centennial Park up the top end of Oxford Street. Touch rugby is quite a fast game (I'd never even heard of it before) as there are no scrums - all you need to do is touch the opposition player for them to have to give up the ball. A strangely camp thing to do. A bit like playing 'it' or 'tag'. We only stayed and watched for just over an hour as we were keen to get back to watch the Melbourne Cup in one of the bars in town at 3:10pm. The Melbourne Cup is the big horse race in the Australian calendar - equivalent to say the Grand National in the UK. The bar we went to was a gay bar but it was packed and there was free food, free champagne and competitions all afternoon. Naturally we threw ourselves into the spirit of the thing and one thing lead to another. I shall perhaps pass a veil over the rest of what happened yesterday afternoon and evening but suffice to say it was a late night, this morning I ache a little bit (but a nice ache) and I'm grinning endlessly. 'Nuff said.
Mount Olympus...
Monday we went to the Olympic Park just outside Sydney to go and support Charlie in the swimming, watch some tennis and volleyball too. The pool where the swimming was taking place was an impressive size - but nothing compared to the how impressed I was with the swimmers themselves. Hundreds upon hundreds of lean, mean bods all freshed faced and bursting with energy. We spent hours watching them strut their stuff and show us what they could do in the water. Guy's friend Matt was in a relay team with our optician, David, and they won gold. Well done boys! The only slight down side to the swimming was the fact that as the Gay Games are inclusive by nature then that meant that anyone who wanted to enter a race could - no matter how bad they were. So there ended up being 51 (!) heats of ten swimmers in the 50m breaststroke alone - a marathon event just to watch. But it was a fun day. In the evening we had a drink with the lovely Russell, a friend from London, and popped into The Den. The way you do.
Let's get physical...
On Sunday we went to the first of the two body building shows. Lots of muscled men (and women) flexing and pumping and grunting and groaning. It was a strange mix of butch and camp. Great fun. Matthew Rush was there. Who he? Apparently he's big in the porn world but I wouldn't know anything about that. We got chatting. He gave me a couple of tips and a run down on his early days in burlesque ;)

Sunday, November 03, 2002

A big opening...
And what a big opening ceremony it was! The whole shin-dig was held at the Aussie Stadium put together by Ignatius Jones, the guy behind the Sydney 2000 Olympic Opening Ceremony, which should in itself tell you how spectacular it was. Fireworks, dancers, singers, projections, pink pom-poms, audience participation, drag queens and a coherent theme - what more could you want.

Afterwards we headed to The Barracks (uniform, leather and stuff) and then to The Phoenix (like the RVT but with more eclectic music) - where some minkering was had. Eventually we got to bed about 5:30am. What a great time we're having here.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

A bridge too far...
Having had a good night's sleep we were up early on Friday to face whatever Sydney had to offer. And what it had to offer was fantastic. We booked ourselves on the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. It was an exhilarating experience and if you ever come to Sydney it is a real must-do. Marky and I both suffer from vertigo to some extent but even we felt safe and secure - despite that nagging feeling that you might fall off any minute! The climb has relatively easy, the weather perfect and it was well worth the forty odd quid it cost.

In the evening we went round to Dave's for a beer or two and then headed off to Bear Night with a crowd of his friends. Having eaten nothing before starting a drinking session is, let's face it, the sort of thing an amateur drinker would think twice about, but not me, oh no. So within an hour I was practically paralytic and talking to any and everyone about any and everything. Apparently we went to another bar too and I got chatting to an Irish guy... an American guy... an Aussie guy.. etc etc. You get the picture. Today people are still reminding me of what I got up to but, dear reader, I am well advised to not repeat their plainly slanderous allegations here. I'm sure they're making it all up anyway.

Scally arrived today on the 'red eye' flight and we are all meeting up soon before going to the Aussie Stadium for the opening ceremony.