Quote Of The Day

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

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Pay before you board...
From 23rd August 2003 you will need to pay before you board your bus in central London. Let me say that again, you will need to pay before you board. You will not be able to simply hop on a central London bus and pay the driver or the clipper, you will have to buy your ticket in advance. No ticket, no ride. All part of Transport For London's initiative to speed up the buses.
Big Day...
Happy Birthday, Ben!
Big Day (again)...
Happy Birthday, Paul!

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Gay Pride: The Pictures...
We had a fantastic time at Pride last Saturday as I think the pictures below might show. The march was amazing (over 60,000 people apparently). The party in the park was a bit of a damp squib due to the rain - though it was great to see Marc and Jimmy on stage together again. More mischief was had at Duckie later - which is fast becoming my favourite club.








[Thanks to Marky for some of the pictures]

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Happy birthday, Paul...

For years a fairy queen I've been
For years I foiled the Demon King
But alas I'm getting on, the years have flown somehow
And I feel that Fairy Snowdrop isn't wanted now

Chorus:
Nobody loves a fairy when she's forty (three)
Nobody loves a fairy when she's old

She may still have a magic power but that is not enough
They like their bit of magic from a younger bit of stuff
When once your silver star has lost its glitter
And your tinsel looks like rust instead of gold
Fairy days are ending when your wand has started bending
No-one loves a fairy when she's old

For years I reigned in Fairy Dell
I waved my wand and waved it well
If I can't do all I did I'm satisfied because
I'd sooner be a has-been that I would a never-was

Nobody loves a fairy when she's forty (three)
Nobody loves a fairy when she's old

The face of this Immortal One to many has appealed
But gone is the illusion once you've had it soled and heeled
When you've lost your little fairy dimples
And the moth holes in your dress let in the cold
The Goblins and the Pixies turn their backs and say Hi Nixey
No one loves a fairy when she's old.

Nobody loves a fairy when she's forty (three)
Nobody loves a fairy when she's old

As far as I can see they try to push you off the map
When once your wand has withered and your wings refuse to flap
When you can't cast a spell without it spilling
And a fairy tale for years you haven't told
You stand there shouting What O!.. but they all pass by your Grotto
Nobody loves a fairy when shes old.

Nobody loves a fairy when she's forty (three)
Nobody loves a fairy when she's old

They don't give you an earthly chance to make a livelihood
They're building council houses now in my enchanted wood
When you are past the age for Television
And the air you use is government controlled
It seems that they would sooner
Listen to a blinkin' crooner
Nobody loves a fairy when shes old.

Song was written by Arthur Le Clerq way back in 1934

Monday, July 28, 2003

Kill the software pirate...
Deep Freeze - the software piracy game. A rather lame attempt to publicise software piracy by the BSA.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Gay Pride: The Parade...
Tomorrow is Gay Pride in London. The march starts at noon near Cleopatra's Needle by the river and ends where the party will be, Hyde Park - at last, a central venue! Details of the march can be found here. The theme this year is "Our History, Our Future" and thankfully the Metropolitan Police have agreed that motorised floats can be integrated into the body of the parade, rather than the quarter-mile separation of previous years.

There will be five mini parades each representing a decade, separated by blocks of people walking. The first mini parade will reflect the 1960s, the second the 1970s and so on, finishing with 'today and tomorrow', the 2000s decade.

Last year I had a bit of a rant about why gay people should go on the Gay Pride march. My point being that if you're gay you have a duty to go. Be seen. Be proud.

Well this year my tack is different. You should just go because it's fun. And what's more you might see me.

Why might you see me? Well, I shall be doing my little bit. Doing my little bit for a good cause. I am just soooo giving, me.

And the good cause? Why, Freedoms, of course: the marvelous condom distribution scheme (free at gay venues, massively discounted on their Freedoms web shop) that Marky had more than a little hand in setting up.

So yes, punters, it's true, I shall be tirelessly supporting a good cause this year.

And where will I be? Where might you see me? Why, I'll be shall be selflessly waving at you from atop of the big Gaydar bus along with the contestants of Mr Gay UK all clad in skimpy shorts.

Did someone mention a champagne reception too?

The things a gal has to do for charity!
Gay Pride: The Party...
A little while ago lots of Pride posters appeared on the advertising boards of the tube. I'll not actually seen anyone stopping and reading one yet which seems a bit of an oxymoron given the name of the event. Good line-up though.


The Party running order is currently:

3:00 Liberty X
3:35 Gina G
3:50 Kaci
4:00 Jennifer Ellison
4:15 The Cheeky Girls
4:25 Sister India
4:35 Matt Goss
4:55 Ultra Nate
5:10 Gay Men`s Chorus
5:25 Appleton
5:40 Never the Bride
5:55 Jarvine
6:10 Blue
6:30 Junior Senior
6:50 Jocelyn Brown & Friends
7:05 Mis-teeq
7:25 Skin
7:45 Dead or Alive
8:05 Tom Robinson
8:20 Jimmy Somerville
8:35 Jimmy & Marc
8:40 Soft Cell
9:00 Heather Small & Pride finale

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Thought for the day #2...
Why are there flotation devices under plane seats instead of parachutes?
Thought for the day #1...
If you tied buttered toast to the back of a cat and dropped it from a height, which way up would it land?

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

240V Local Area Network
This little box of tricks (reviewed by ADSLguide.org.uk) will allow you to run an Ethernet network over your household power mains. Plug and go. A range of 150ft and 56bit encryption built in should cover most privacy needs too. It's simply a bridge so effectively it's just lke a long piece of cable. Nice.

Meteorite Attacks Printer...
In Chicago recently a meteorite decided to drop in and bust up a printer on the way.

Imagine the support call:

Punter: "Hello is that HP. My printer isn't working anymore."
HP: "Have you got the correct drivers installed for your printer?"
Punter: "Yes, I have. But the real problem is it's been attacked from outer space."
HP: (click)
Punter: "You still there? Hello?"

Apparently "the average homeowner should expect to repair direct meteorite damage every hundred million years."

Monday, July 21, 2003

Work, Rest and Play...
It's good to be back at work this morning. No really. I need the rest! The weekend just gone was physically challenging - and I have the bruises to prove it.
Google Removal...
If you don't like what Google has in it's index about you - you can remove.

Friday, July 18, 2003

For the ape who has everything...
And just why wouldn't you want a glow in the dark toilet seat? :)
Beer Bottle Organ...
On what else but a Beer Bottle Organ would you play Star Wars?
Goldfrapp: Strict Machine
Out this Monday is Goldfrapp's newie, Strict Machine: Great song, great Moroder-esque remixes and, of course, a great video.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Move towards work drug testing...
The BBC reports that four out of five employers would be prepared to drug-test their employees if they thought productivity was at stake, a survey found.
The foot bone's connected to your... leg bone...
The National Library of Medicine's Visible Human Project has produced high resolution (4096 x 2048 x 24 bits) cryosectional color images of human anatomy. Weird.
Policeware...
The campaign to stop Palladium - Microsoft's Policeware.
Pop Quiz: the answers...
1. Ella Fitzgerald
2. Judy Garland
3. Doris Day
BONUS: Gershwin
4. Dave Brubeck
5. Charlie Parker
6. The Animals
7. Amen Corner
8. The Box Tops
9. C, B, A, D
10. The Mission
11. Sisters OF Mercy
12. Talk, Talk
13. Cocteau Twins
14. The Cure
15. New Model Army
16. 1995
17. 1994
18. Killing Joke
19. Jane's Addiction
20. Inspiral Carpets

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Pop Quiz...
We had a full compliment for Pop Quiz last night. Darren, David, Ian and myself. The big money was up for grabs - all £110 of it.

Sadly we didn't win - though we were close. The winners got 19/21 - we got 17/21 failing on #'s 3, 5, 15 and 18.

1. 1940's: who sang "Someone To Watch Over Me"?
2. 1940's: which femme fatale sang "Do It Again"?
3. 1940's: which clean living gal sang "S'wonderful"?
BONUS: Who wrote the above three songs?
4. 1950's: name the jazz musician who recorded "Five 5"?
5. 1950's: name the jazz musician who recorded "Yardbird Suite"?
6. 1960's: who had a hit with "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place"?
7. 1960's: who had a hit with "If Paradise Is Half AS Nice"?
8. 1960's: who had a hit with "The Letter"?
9. 1970's: Put these Eurovision songs in chronological order: "Save All Your Kisses For Me", "Beg, Steal Or Borrow", "Jack In A Box", "Rock Bottom"
10. 1980's: who had a hit with "Tower Of Strength"?
11. 1980's: who had a hit with "Dominion"?
12. 1980's: who had a hit with "Pearly Drewdrops Drop"?
13. 1980's: who had a hit with "Today"?
14. 1980's: who had a hit with "Lullaby"?
15. 1980's: who had a hit with "No Rest"?
16. 1990's: Name the year "Girl From Mars"/"Yes"/"This Is Music"
17. 1990's: Name the year "Whatever"/"Do You Remember The First Time?"/"Zombie"
18. 00's: who has a single out called "Loose Cannon"?
19. 00's: who has a single out called "Just Because"?
20. 00's: who has a single out called "Come Back Tomorrow"?

See how well you do. Answers tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

My weekend
Friday night: drinks at the Eddie on the way home. Marcus joined us for some supper and then we stayed in to watch Will & Grace, Scrubs, Bo Selecta and Big Brother. God, BB4 is soooo borrrrring. Helps me sleep though.

Saturday daytime: had a chrome and glass TV/video stand delivered from John Lewis and then Marky and I drove down to Crawley (four hours there, two and half back) to pick up four Sony tall-boy speakers to go with our new Home Theatre System. The trip was worth it (just) - the speakers sound great.

Saturday night: met Jason for a drink in town and then went to Duckie to see The Smiths musical: The Queen is Dead. Very funny. Not so nice though were the local kids around the Vauxhall Tavern who pelted us with stones as we sat on the grass later on. Sticks and stone WILL break my bones thank you very much.

Sunday night: Ben, Sarah, Marky and I met up at the Retro Bar nice and early for a bit of a chin-wag and a bevy before walking along the Strand to Somerset House to see Goldfrapp perform. Ben and Sarah are fairly recent converts to the cult of Goldfrapp and it was great to see the expression on both of their faces as they saw Alison perform the vocal gymnastics for which she is renowned. The set was identical to the one we saw at the Astoria the other month but what made is extra specially special was the setting. The courtyard of Somerset House is such an ideal location for an open air gig - being just the right size and shape. Not too big nor too small. So carried away were we that we even bought Goldfrapp T-shirts.
Oh, go on. Can't you just let me off the whole amount?...

Dear Mr Green,

I wanted to let you know of a problem we've identified with your July credit card statement.

When you look at your statement, you will see it says a 'payment is not required this month' which is incorrect.

I'm sorry for this mistake and I hope it won't cause you any inconvenience.

Your sincerely,

Penninnah Emery
Manager
Customer Accounts
Lloyds TSB Bank plc

Friday, July 11, 2003

And Romeo and Juliet lived happily ever after...
Why not become the star of a classic? This Customized Classics web site allows you to do just that.

"Oh Brad, Brad. Wherefore art thou Brad?"
"But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Helen is the sun."

Better yet there is a customised version of Romeo and Juliet with (you've guessed it) a happy ending.

"...if you choose the Happy Ending Version a new scene is added with a twist — the lovers live happily ever after! A short scene is added after Act V Scene III. It turns out the apothecary's poison didn't work and Romeo survives, and Juliet's stabbing of herself merely made her pass out."
Friends Of Dorothy...
Marky and I went to see Bea Arthur last year in Sydney, Australia when we at the Gay Games. I see she is now bringing the show to London.

Bea Arthur, known the world over as the gravel voiced star of THE GOLDEN GIRLS, is to make her West End stage debut at the ripe old age of 80! The show takes an acerbic view of life, shot through with several musical numbers.

Bea has made many TV series, including seven seasons of THE GOLDEN GIRLS from 1985 to 1992 and several TV specials, including THE BEATRICE ARTHUR SPECIAL in 1980. Her hugely varied stage career includes starring opposite Angela Lansbury in the original Broadway production of MAME in 1966.

As Bea herself puts it, "my training has been total; I've done everything except Rodeos and Porn"

Bea will be accompanied at the piano by her musical director Billy Goldenberg, the multi award-winning composer of the musical BALLROOM.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

On everyone's lips...
I'm finding it really hard to bring myself to care about this whole Government vs BBC stuff. I *know* it's important whether people lied. I *know* it's important because people died. But I can't help but feel it's all turned into political point scoring now.

Far importantly, I think, is the question on everyone's lips: Will Lisa go on the rampage tomorrow night when she's evicted? Let's pray for blood.

"This is Davina, you're live on Channel Four - so no-one say 'fuck' or 'bugger'"
Head for Heights...

[Thanks Rog]
Pop Quiz: The Answers...
1. "...while the girls watch the boys who watch the girls go by"
2. Business
3. Losing Grip
4. "... Your Body"
5a. Ian Astbury
5b. Andrew Eldrich
6a. Dave Vanian
6b. Ian McCulloch
7a. Pete Murphy
7b. Matt Johnson
8a. Jocelyn Brown
8b. Evelyn "Champagne" King
9a. Gwen Dickey
9b. Alicia Bridges
10a. Donna Summer
10b. Diana Ross
11a. 5ive
11b. East 17
12a. Another Level
12b. Westlife
13a. Blue
13b. PJ & Duncan
14a. Spice Girls
14b. Girls Aloud
15a. All Saints
15b. Destiny's Child
16a. Sugarbabes
16b. Mis-teeq
17. Simon Le Bon, Andy Taylor, John Taylor, Roger Taylor, Nick Rhodes
18. Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, Tony Hadley, Steve Norman, John Keeble
19. Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward and Siobhan Fahey
20. Susanna Hoffs, Debbi Peterson, Vicki Peterson and Michael Steele
Opps! I did it...
Britney Spears has finally come clean about her relationship with Justin Timberlake, admitting that she did have sex with him. Britney, who once famously declared she did not believe in sex before marriage, made her not-very-shocking revelations in a recent interview with W magazine. "It was two years into my relationship with Justin. And I thought he was the one. But I was wrong," she said.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Pop Quiz...
Last night Darren, Drew and I went to the Retro Bar pop quiz. £97 was up for grabs so the quiz was a toughie. We managed 15 out of 20 which I think was very respectable. The winners got 18 but didn't chose the money. See how you get on...

1. Andy Williams' Music To Watch Girls By starts "The boys watch the girls..." What are the next 12 words?
2. What's Eminem's new single called?
3. What Avril Lavine's new single called?
4. Complete Justin Timberlake's single title. "Rock..."?
5a. Who is/was the male lead singer of The Cult
5b. Who is/was the male lead singer of Sisters Of Mercy
6a. Who is/was the male lead singer of The Damned (post-Captain Sensible)
6b. Who is/was the male lead singer of Echo and The Bunnymen
7a. Who is/was the male lead singer of Bauhaus
7b. Who is/was the male lead singer of The The
8a. Which disco diva sang "Somebody Else's Guy"?
8b. Which disco diva sang "Shame"?
9a. Which disco diva sang lead vocals on "Car Wash"?
9b. Which disco diva sang "I Love The Nightlife"?
10a. Which disco diva sang "Rumour Has It"?
10b. Which disco diva sang "Lovin', Livin' and Givin'"?
11a. What boy band had a hit with "Everybody Get Up"?
11b. What boy band had a 'hit' with "Each Time"?
12a. What boy band had a hit with "Bomb Diggy"?
12b. What boy band had a hit with "Uptown Girl"?
13a. What boy band had a hit with "All Rise"?
13b. What boy band had a hit with "U Crazy Cats"?
14a. What girl band had an album track called "Saturday Night"?
14b. What girl band had a hit with a b-side called "On A Round"? (tough, huh?)
15a. What girl band had a 1998 hit with "Lady Marmalade"?
15b. What girl band had a hit with "Bills, Bills, Bills"?
16a. What girl band had a hit with "Shape"?
16b. What girl band had a hit with "Scandalous"?
17. Name all the members of Duran, Duran.
18. Name all the members of Spandau Ballet.
19. Name all the members of Bananarama.
20. Name all the members of The Bangles. (and no you can't try and get away with what we did: Scary Bangle, Sporty Bangle, Ginger Bangle, Posh Bangle and Baby Bangle)

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Goldfrapp...
The Somerset House gig is this coming Sunday and Goldfrapp are performing on V Graham Norton on this Thursday 10th July from 10.30 pm on Channel 4.
Speed Dating...
OK I was drunk and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

To explain... it was last Saturday night and we'd had a boozy time at Soho Pride (see below). We'd retired to The Kings Arms in Poland Street to mingle with The Bears and collect our thought (sic). The problem (if making a fool of yourself in public is a 'problem') was that next door to The Kings Arms is a glass-fronted wine bar called The Potters Bar (geddit?!) and that night it was (as Mark soon spotted) holding a straight Speed Dating night. There were 39 women and 35 men all spending three minute dates with each other and then making notes as to whether they would like to see each other again. If you fancied someone AND they fancied you then the organisers would send each of you the other's e-mail address. You only get one e-mail address max. from the night though (you are looking for love, right?).

You may ask yourself how come I know so much about how all this speed dating works. Well, that's because I took part. No, really.

About halfway through the proceedings - after lots of hand-waving and thumbs up / thumbs down to the women through the pavement-facing windows indicating which men we thought were cute and which were not - one of the women, Lesley, came out and said, "there are no cute men in here - why don't you come in and join us?". "But I'm gay", I protested. "We don't care", she replied, "it'll be a laugh" and dragged me in - much to the amusement of my fellow onlookers. Mark smiled and shook his head with amused resignation. He knew better than to protest when I'm on a roll.

So for 40 minutes I chatted to Les Girls, speed-dated three women AND three men and basically had a riot. I asked them their names, what they did for a living, where they lived and whether they were good in bed (hey, I'd had a belly full of beer and wasn't going to mess about with too much chit-chat). On the whole they were surprisingly frank.

Finally Mark came to pull me out of there. He knew when I'd had enough. So I reluctantly bid my farewells. I didn't hand my score card in at the end though as it seemed a little unfair that I hadn't paid my £11 entrance fee. Besides, the option of "wants to date a straight woman and/or man and am in a long-term gay relationship" didn't seem to appear as one of the boxes to be ticked in the "What I'm looking for" section on the back of the profile card.

So wanna know my scores for the six people I dated?

Badge : Name : Comments
17 : Lesley : Fantastic! 34, bit desperate.
18 : Sharon : Again fantastic! BBC.
32 : Andrej : Friendly. Nice arse. Works for AP.
33 : Helen : In the window. Stunner. Too good for me.
19 : Paul : Quite cute. Gay? Stratford :(
14 : Johnathan : Nice packet. Up-tight. Elvis lips.
Soho Pride...
On Saturday it was Soho Pride. Many of the streets in and around Soho were closed off to cars so the restaurants and bars could put tables and chairs out in the streets. The atmosphere was convivial and the crowds thronged accordingly. Actually they thronged a bit too much in certain places and just outside Comptons, where the main stage was, was rammed. We took slight refuge just behind the stage and bought our beers from the offy (£1-50 rather than £3 if you please).

The stage held alternate one hour sets from The Black Cap (mainly drag) and Comedy Campers (stand-up and variety). A highlight was the Dame Edna Experience who really got the crowd going (and even converted a certain non-believer) but, as ever, my favourites were Ida Barr and Tina C. Chris Green's alter egos just made me scream with laughter.

(The Super Destroyer) Adrella made a rather spooky return from the dead at one pojnt - still doing the same old act 18 odd years later then you poor cow.

Despite the heaving crowds the policemen and women on duty were all good natured and didn't seem to mind a bit of gentle ribbing from the stage. "Hands up who's straight. (pause) Not putting your hand up then, Officer?"

Nice to see that a central part of one of the great capital cities of the world can still close it's streets for a gay street party. Roll on Pride.
Oyster card...
I am now the proud owner of a shiny new Oyster card. The world of Zone 1 & 2 is now my... er... oyster. The only slight downside that I have personally is that the Oyster card uses the same technology that my work card uses so sometimes they get a bit confused with each other.

Marky and I used them on the buses on Saturday night but strangely enough the routemaster buses (the ones that you get on at the back) don't seem to have the yellow and grey swipe stations. Consequently there was no way the conductor could tell whether the Oyster card we had was real or just a piece of cardboard. A loop hole I'd have thought.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Seemed like a good idea at the time...
The physics of unworkable devices is quite amusing - and there's a collection of these oddities at The Museum of Unworkable Devices.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Jerry Springer: The Opera goes to the West End...
I see Jerry Springer: The Opera is transferring to the Cambridge Theatre on 18th October according to BBC News.
The best quotes are from the writers, Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee. Lee joked: 'I am delighted to be going to the Cambridge Theatre with Jerry Springer - The Opera, as it is easily reached via the 73 bus from my home in Hackney.' Composer Richard Thomas added: 'The one good thing about opening in the West End is... everything.' "

Friday, July 04, 2003

Tyre tossing
Bored on a Friday afternoon? Why not try tyre tossing?
XDA II...
I love my XDA. It's a phone, it's a computer, it's fab. And guess what? It's getting better. Mobile phone network 02 has taken the wraps off the mark two version XDA. The XDA II, which will offer GPRS for email and web browsing as the XDA did, will cosmetically look the same, but have a bunch of extra features besides:-

- integrated aerial
- a higher contrast 65,000 colour display
- triband capability to enable seamless use worldwide
- an integrated 640x480 pixels digital camera on the back with full multimedia messaging via MMS or e-mail
- Bluetooth and optional wireless LAN capability
- a faster processor (Intel Xscale 400 MHz) facilitating faster use
- better battery to give improved talk and standby time
- it'll use the latest Phone Edition of Windows MobileTM 2003 Software for Pocket PC
- inbuilt Java technology for games
- a music download service at CD quality
- a music and video downlaods and streaming via GPRS

Can't wait.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Google Toolbar 2.0 Beta...
I'm a bit of a fan of the Google Toolbar. And now there's a new beta version.
Don't Call Me...
I'm fed up with getting unsolicited phone calls in the evening trying to sell me double-glazing or a new kitchen. I'm also fed up with getting SMS texts to my mobile telling me I've won a holiday or some such nonsense. So it was with some glee I read in the Guardian today about the Telephone Preference Service. It was set up by the Direct Marketing Association (UK) Limited (DMA) in 1995 as a voluntary self-regulatory mechanism to enable consumers to opt-out of receiving unsolicited sales and marketing calls. Let's see if it works, huh?
Seven ways to sleep...
I'm feeling a bit tired today. So I bring you...
(Click on the pictures for bigger versions)


[Thanks Lorayne]

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

The story of Harry Potter so far, from books 1 through 4 (but NOT book 5)...

***WARNING*** ***WARNING*** ***WARNING*** ***WARNING***

*** HARRY POTTER SPOILERS APLENTY ***

***WARNING*** ***WARNING*** ***WARNING*** ***WARNING***

You may want to read the following because:
(a) you read the first four Harry Potter books ages ago but now you've forgotten exactly what happened. You want a refresher before you tackle book 5.
(b) you can't be asked to read the first four Harry Potter books because life's too short but you fancy reading the fifth to find out what the fuss is all about.
(c) you can't stand Harry Potter but you want to be able to say with some authority what it is you hate

The following are synopses of the first four Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling:

"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" - released September 1998

Welcome to the world of Harry Potter, a young English orphan with bright green eyes, glasses, unruly black hair and an odd scar on his forehead shaped like a lightning bolt.

Harry, whose parents died when he was 1, lives with the Dursleys - his odious aunt and uncle and their bully of a son - who tell him that his scar is a legacy of the car crash that killed his parents.

But on his 11th birthday, Harry gets a visit from Hagrid, groundskeeper at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and learns the truth: His parents were a witch and wizard. They were killed by the most evil wizard in the world, Lord Voldemort, who tried to kill Harry when he murdered Harry's parents. But Voldemort's curse rebounded, weakening him and leaving Harry with the scar.

Harry goes off to Hogwarts to study wizardry for the first of seven years. He makes friends with Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger and headmaster Albus Dumbledore, and draws as his enemies Draco Malfoy and Professor Severus Snape. He learns many wizardry secrets - from playing Quidditch to transfiguration spells. But he also learns something else - that Voldemort is not dead but alive in spirit and is on the hunt to regain his physical form.

Voldemort has taken over the body of young Professor Quirrell and is looking for the Philosopher's Stone, which he needs to make a potion that will prolong his life. Harry and his friends thwart Voldemort, and the evil wizard's spirit flees to plot another day.

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" - released June 1999

It's the end of summer, and Harry is at home with the Dursleys. He's feeling a bit lonely, wondering why he hasn't heard from any of his friends. The reason is revealed by a weird visitor, Dobby the house-elf, who is enslaved by the Malfoy family. With his bat-like ears and huge eyes, Dobby has sneaked away from the Malfoys to warn Harry that he is in much danger and must not return to Hogwarts. Dobby has been blocking Harry's mail to make the young wizard think that his friends don't like him anymore. But Harry returns to Hogwarts anyway.

Things are weird at Hogwarts - and dangerous. Harry hears voices that no one else can, and people start turning up in a petrified state. The hidden Chamber of Secrets has been opened, and a monster snake is attacking students who come from non-magical families.

Harry and his friends discover they're dealing with an old mystery, and when Ginny Weasley, Ron's sister, disappears, Harry finds the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets and goes to look for her.

What he finds is the spirit of young Tom Riddle, an old Hogwarts student who put his spirit in Ginny's diary. Riddle's spirit takes a keen interest in Harry, who learns it was Riddle who ultimately became Voldemort.

Harry defeats the spirit by destroying the diary. And before returning home, he engineers Dobby's freedom from the Malfoys.

"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" - September 1999

Harry is on his best behavior at the Dursley home, hoping he'll be able to get his awful uncle to sign a permission slip for school field trips. He promises not to annoy Uncle Vernon's horrible sister during her visit. But she's SO horrible that Harry blows her up like a balloon before fleeing the house.

Harry expects to be punished by Hogwarts because he has used magic around the non-magical. Instead, he is sent to an inn to wait out the rest of his vacation. On the eve of his return to Hogwarts, he finds out why: Sirius Black, an alleged supporter of Voldemort, has escaped from Azkaban, a prison for wizards and witches. Everyone is worried that he's on his way to Hogwarts to finish off Harry.

It's a tense year at Hogwarts, and Harry thinks he sees omens of death. Black finally shows up. But it's not Harry he's after - it's Scabbers, Ron's pet rat. Scabbers is a transfigured Peter Pettigrew, a Voldemort follower who committed the crime for which Black was wrongly imprisoned. And it was Pettigrew who told Voldemort where he could find Harry's parents all those years ago.

With Pettigrew back in human form, hopes are high that Black will be exonerated. Black is actually Harry's godfather and offers him a home away from the Dursleys. But Pettigrew escapes, and Black has to go on the run to avoid being sent back to jail.

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" - July 2000

Book 4 opens with the story of how the aloof, obnoxious Riddle family died. Then the scene shifts to Voldemort, whose original name was Riddle. Voldemort has met up with Pettigrew and is hatching another plot to bring himself back to a physical form and full power. The plot requires blood and death - preferably Harry's. An evil minion at Hogwarts is in place to help the wizard get his hands on Harry.

Harry is entered in a dangerous magical competition with two other wizard schools. He survives, but another competitor, Cedric, doesn't.

Harry ends up temporarily in Voldemort's clutches, although the evil wizard's plan doesn't go quite as he had hoped. Harry and Voldemort end up in a duel, and the ghostly forms of those Voldemort has killed come back to aid Harry.

Once back at school, the minion is revealed, and Dumbledore realizes that Voldemort again is ready to cause trouble. Dumbledore tries to persuade the Minister of Magic to take steps to stop the evil wizard, but the minister refuses to believe him. So Dumbledore starts making preparations of his own to combat the battle he anticipates.

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" - June 2003

Now that would be telling... (Available in all good bookshops, supermarkets, libraries, web sites, coffee shops, record stores, you name it...)
Sports Kit Night...
Last Saturday Marky, Drew and I went to Sports Kit Night down at the Princess of Prussia in the City. There were lots of lovely men there wearing footie kit, rugby kit and some strange tight-fitting gymnastics all-in-ones. We had a great time. I can't quite tell you everything that went on though - not so much that it was unrepeatable but rather more to do with the fact that by 2am I was rather too drunk to remember it all! Suffice to say I have been assured that I left with my dignity in tact.

Something I quickly lost when we got home though.

Drew and I started synchronised dancing.

But that's another story.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Brain Teaser: Answer...
The lovely Luca was first past the post with

54
x3
-----
162

Any other solutions?
Brain teaser...
Use the digits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 once only in this multiplication sum to make it correct.

? ?
x ?
-------
? ? ?