Quote Of The Day

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

Monday, February 28, 2005

Up at the crack of noon Monday was a recovery day. God, my feet were aching – 12 hours of dancing had taken it’s toll. Graham and Steve came over to our apartment early afternoon and we all went up on the roof for a beer or two, a hastily arranged picnic and a spa. A spa? Why, yes. Our hotel has a roof-top swimming pool, sauna, gym and jacuzzi – 15th floor, fantastic view of the Harbour. Nice, huh? Later on we went for beers at The Colombian with Pete and David, eats at Wok On Inn and more beers at The Oxford. A very early night was called for so we were in bed at 7pm – sleeping all the way through to 7am the next day.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Harbour Party…
We had a very relaxing morning pottering about doing washing and domestic stuff before stocking up with drinks and nibbles: in the afternoon Graham, Guy, Neil, Brett, Pete, Mark and Steve came over for pre-Harbour Party drinks. The Harbour Party (or Azure ‘05 as it was now known) is a big open air dance party down by the water’s edge with a magnificent view of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. The place was packed when we arrived a little after 5-30pm, the music was jumping, the beer was suitably cold and the toilets had ridiculously long queues - a normal outdoor event, then. We bumped into half of London on the dance floor. Amongst the throbbing melee were Andy & Kevin, Guy & Neil, Andy & Tim, Andy & Michael, Stuart, Pete, David, David & Stuart, Mark, Lynda & Sue, Graham, Hanes (OMG! HANES!), Colin, Steve, Brett, Phil, Tim & Ross, Frank, Hobart, and hundreds of others whose faces I recognised but couldn’t put a name to.

By midnight it was all over bar the shouting so a bunch of us hot-footed it back into town to The Midnight Shift and danced the rest of the night away there - like loons mostly. By 6am I was all danced out and sloped off home to bed.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Bedding In…
Now safely in Sydney the fun started in earnest.

Saturday afternoon we met up with Graham and went for a drink at The Oxford – before long we were joined by Andy & Kevin and Andy & Tim and Andy & Michael and Stuart and Pete. The sun was shining, the beers were flowing and we were all catching up with our tales of jet-lag, accommodation woes and pre-Sydney adventures. It was nice to see the gang and touch base before the madness started.

After a brief disco-nap we started our Saturday night proper with eats and a bit of bar crawling, mainly between The Colombian and The Oxford (again). Later on (eleven or so) we went to Manacle, which was rammed. There we saw all the usual gang, in addition to David & Stuart, Frank, Phil and Mark. They had two shows on at Manacle – the first being four muscle-Marys covering Gang Of Four’s “I Love A Man In A Uniform” and the second being some dire cover of an almost unrecognisable Depeche Mode song (Master and Servant? Enjoy The Silence? It was hard to tell). We all got fantastically tiddly on the local brews Victoria Bitter (a.k.a. VB) and Toohey’s New (a.k.a. NEW).

By 2am Marky was feeling a bit tired so headed off home. Pete, his friend Mark and I had other idea though and went to The Midnight Shift for a spot of stage and podium dancing. We wowed the crowd (as in “wow, those boys on the podium are very drunk and can’t dance for toffee”).We had a lot of fun though. Home by 4am.
Oh My God. We're Being Kidnapped...
You know that bit in the Out Of Towners when she says, "Oh My God. We're being kidnapped"? Well, it happen to us.

We picked up a taxi from outside Flinders Street station in Melbourne yesterday to take us to the airport. A 20 minute direct drive that would give us time to spare before boarding our flight to Sydney. Our seasoned Iranian cabbie seemed chatty enough. He'd obviously been cabbing for sometime and was asking all the usual questions, "Where were we from?" "How long had we been in Melbourne?". Significantly he did not ask us, "Do you know anything about how taxis can try to rip you off?" or "Do you have any sense of direction?"

We were first alerted that something was up when he turned off the main road to the airport claiming that there was an accident up ahead. Quite how he was supposed to know this we are unsure. For the next 30 minutes we made left and right turns through housing estates, drove out to the countryside, back into town and even took three right turns in a row. Subtle, huh?

"You are taking us for a ride, mate", says Mark. "Oh My God. We're being kidnapped", ventures me half joking. "We're Iranian hostages!" Only the joke started to wear a bit thin when we realised we were going to miss out flight.

The meandering continued. A few minutes later we had had enough. "Get us to the airport NOW. We have a flight to catch" we say. "It'll be another 30 minutes", says our cab driver (driver number 518121 should you ever what to avoid this odious creature). "WHAT?! Look, we know you are trying to defraud us. We're not stupid, you know. Get us to the airport right now or we call the police" His accent became much thicker as he tried to weasel out of it often contradicting himself: "I know this area very well. I live here. It's a short cut" "I've only been a cabbie for two weeks I don't know the area very well"

Eventually Mark said, "You get us to the airport NOW and we may not phone the police." He had the cheek to say "You pay me what you normally pay. You pay me what you think I should get!" I said, "We will pay you NOTHING, you will get us to the airport NOW, and you are going to count yourself very lucky if we do not call the police." The emergency services in Oz can be reached on 000. "I am dialing two 0s on my phone and will dial the third if you do not drive us directly to the airport"

That seemed to do the trick. He turned off his ludicrously high meter, 5 minutes later we were on a motorway and within 20 minutes we were at the airport - the trip had taken an hour - three times what it should. We now had just four minutes to get our flight. FOUR MINUTES! We grabbed our bags and flung ourselves out of the cab and into the airport.

Luckily the lady at the Qantas check-in desk was very understanding and got us on the flight. Phew! Three cheers for them.

We will of course report our errant cabbie to the Silver Top Cab Service, Melbourne. Casually ripping off tourists for $120 fares which should really only be $40 is not only illegal but rather destroys one's faith in cabbies in general.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Botanic Gardens and Shrine...
We're back on track with our culture - trips to the Memorial Shrine and the Botanic Gardens today were wonderful, enlightening and just what we needed. Tonight is our last night in Melbourne so no doubt we'll be undoing some of this good with a trip to the bars again - but then it would be rude not too (!)

Tomorrow our flight leaves for Sydney at midday so after about 2pm I don't expect I'll be blogging much - the Maelstrom of Mardi Gras socialising, eating, drinking and partying will start. Wish me luck.
High Brow?...
Our touring of Melbourne has continued apace. But let's just say it's not all been particularly high brow. Highlights have included a Kylie retrospective at the Melbourne Arts Centre, repeatedly pushing a button in the human body section of the Melbourne Museum to make a farting noise and touring the sleazy bars in Fitzroy. Who says tourism can't be fun, eh?!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Kath & Kim Central...
Melbourne IS Kath & Kim central. Everyone looks, acts & talks like them - in the street, on the tram, in restaurants. Every street corner seems to have a Sharon. I can't stop laughing. Mark has to keep shooshing me. We even met a real-life Prew & Trew in a department store yesterday - short grey haircuts, haughty manners and accents to cut steel. Everthing was graysh and goosh.

We did the Colonial Restaurant Tram dinner last night and sat next to Kel & Brett lookilikies. We were even chased by a cab with latecomers. Spooky. Our waiter said he was actually in that episode as a passenger! Unless of course he was just trying to impress us - which I find hard to believe. But then I am gullible to steely blue eyes and a winning smile.

Oh, did I mention it's 33 degrees here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

It's been a great few days in Melbourne so far. Spending lots of time with Andy and Tim has been fun. We've been eating, drinking, relaxing, site-seeing, on the Yarra river and walking the streets (in a good way!).

The bars have been a little unwelming though; Diva, Xchange, The Prince Of Wales and Gay Trade Bar (no really) have been all but deserted. But then I suppose we've only been out on a Monday and a Tuesday night so we shouldn't expect too much. They'll probably fill up as the week progresses.

Today we're planning to walk the Golden Heritage Mile and the Melbourne Museum - just to prove we can do culture too!

Oh, did I mention it's 31 degrees here.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Melbourne - A bit of a blur...

Well, we are now in Oz. After what seemed like three days traveling - which was in fact three days traveling - we finally arrived. Thank God for that diazipam my GP prescribed me; a God-send for nervous flyers like me! The next few days were a bit of a blur. We had a bit of a reception waiting for us as Rich was throwing a house-warming party soiree which acted as a perfect way to be introduced to a bunch of the local boys (Hello Pete, Steve, Brett, Jason, David, Jonno, Wayne, Russ, Rich, Davie, Aaron, Sue, Lynn, Anthony #1, Anthony #2). Needless to say the evening turned into the night (Phoenix), the night to the morning (Midnight Shift and Manacle) and still we were partying. Home to shower and change and then straight off to a big outdoor fair for the day (a bit like Brighton Pride) before heading to new friend Brett's place and then back to the Midnight Shift for more beers and then on to Manacle again and then finishing off the night and a big chunk of the next morning at the Arq (for more wildness and podium dancing). Phew! This morning we somehow managed to get ourselves up, out of the hotel and to the airport. We are now in Melbourne getting ready to go meet Andy and Tim for more beers.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Kiki and Herb - Losers In Love...
It was a night at the theatre last night for me, Mark, Paul, David, Simon, Dawn, Joanna and Martin. Straight from their sell-out success at America's most prestigious venue, Carnegie Hall and a UK tour with the Scissor Sisters, New York legends Kiki and Herb were back in London doing what they do best.

To say Kiki and Herb is a drag show is like calling the Pacific a puddle. It's a tour de force. A musical act that calls on not only great songs (the silent audience guessing game is one of the main features) but inspired stand-up comedy and a big dig in the ribs of the safe cabaret/lounge singer circuit. It is Chanson with balls. Always first class showmanship.

And last night show was no exception. They tugged at the heart strings of the hardiest soul with a Valentines spectacular of epic proportions. Many of the routines we'd seen before, the exception perhaps being Mylo's "Destroy Rock And Roll". But as ever it was the delivery that amazed. Kiki (the oh so talented Justin Bond) is one of the best stage drunks you're likely to see.

Her Lon Chaney face is scarred with mascara, her voice a mixture of Tom Waits and Ethel Merman, with more than a little Judy Garland in her last days. The high point for me was when Kiki relates calling in a bomb threat at a Rolling Stones aftershow party attended by Oasis claiming, "This is Charlotte Rampling On The Line! / Garden of the Finzi-Continis." Herb (played by the oh so handsome Kenny Mellman), for his part, croons "Champagne Supernova" underneath. Class.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Inflight Entertainment...
Here are the movies they are going to be showing on our Sydney flight. Can anyone recommend any of them?

Film and TV Channels (February 2005)
1. Vanity Fair
2. Alfie
3. Dear Frankie
4. Sideways
5. Collateral
6. The Bourne Supremacy
7. The Last Picture Show
8. Vera Drake
9. Around The Bend
10. Roxanne
Return To Oz...
We're off to Oz & NZ this Thursday for almost a month. We're going for Mardi Gras in Sydney, a driving trip through New Zealand's north island and a trip to Melbourne to experience the real Kath and Kim.

As a way of prepping for our Melbourne leg of the trip we've been brushing up on our Kath & Kim lingo by learning some choice phrases.

You off sex? I'm not exactly Kalm & Sutra myself.

We're on Dr Kobots No Carbohydrate Diet.

Kim: Where were you last night?
Sharon: I was at Mark's all night.
Kim: What were you doing?
Sharon: Doing the usual - sitting in my car & going through his rubbish.

I've got the body and I've got the smarts. Like Rachael Hunter, I'm a foxy moron.

I had them eating putty out of my hands.

That's your pacific skill base.

It's common. It's nice, it's unusual, it's common.

Trip the light fandango.

It wasn't a waste of money, it was an expensive learning curve.

Rack off lamb.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Zoo tempts gay penguins to go straight...
A nice Valentine's Day story this: The Bremerhaven Zoo in Bremen, Germany has imported four female penguins from Sweden in an effort to tempt its gay penguins to go straight. The four Swedish females were dispatched to the zoo after it was found that three of the zoo's five penguin pairs were homosexual.

Keepers at the zoo ordered DNA tests to be carried out on the penguins after they had been mating for years without producing any chicks. It was only then they realised that six of the birds were living in homosexual partnerships.

Director Heike Kueck said that the zoo hoped to see some baby penguins in the coming months. She said that the birds had been mating for years and one couple even adopted a stone that they protected like an egg. Kueck said that the project has the support of the European Endangered Species Programme because the penguins, which are native to South America, are an endangered species.

A biologist will be on hand to monitor the experiment.

But introducing the Bremerhaven penguins to their new Swedish friends may not be as successful as hoped after earlier experiments revealed great difficulties in separating homosexual couples. In case they show no interest, the zoo has also flown in two new male penguins "so that the ladies don't miss out altogether", Kueck added.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Brits25 - The winners...
If you don't want to know the winners look away now.

British Breakthrough Act (voted for by Radio 1 listeners): Keane
British Group: Franz Ferdinand
British Male Solo Artist: The Streets
British Female Solo Artist: Joss Stone
British Single: Will Young - Your Game
British Urban Act: Joss Stone
British Rock Act: Franz Ferdinand
British Live Act: Muse
BRITs25: The Best Song Award: Robbie Williams - Angels
Pop Act: McFly
International Male Solo Artist: Eminem
International Female Solo Artist: Gwen Stefani
International Group: Scissor Sisters
International Album: Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters
International Breakthrough Act: Scissor Sisters
Outstanding Contribution To Music: Bob Geldof

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Telewest PVR...
Yay! Telewest have announced their PVR - it's going to be a Scientific Atlanta super-duper one called an Explorer 8300 DVB.

The even better news is that the Explorer 8300 features three tuners. This will allow you to record three (yes, read it and weep Sky+, three!) programmes at the same time, or to record two programmes while watching a third live. The box also includes two video decoders, allowing you to watch a channel while archiving a previously recorded programmes to, for example, an externally-connected VCR or DVD recorder via scart (which is good enough).

Most interestingly, the boxes will be capable of decoding and displaying high definition television, although there has been no word as yet as to when Telewest will begin carrying high definition content.

Due second half of 2005. Neat.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Sitges Carnival...
I´m currently in Sitges for the annual Carnival. The streets are full, the bars are full, the clubs are full. Fancy dress, masks, drinking, dancing, marching bands, floats, parades, cherries and feathers, drags queens, trannies, men in tights it is a week of party, party, party.

A good life if you don´t weaken - it´s stamina counts in the end, boys.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Goodbye cruel world...
Star Trek: Enterprise is cancelled.
Scissor Sisters info...
Being the fan I am I've been reading the Scissor Sisters web site and have a RFC or two:


Surprise? What surprise? Anyone any ideas?


Solo shows? Anyone know where or when? We'll be in Sydney around that time.

And how come there are 'excited' by everything? Totally.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Acorn Antiques - The Musical...
Paul, Simon, Marky and I went to see Acorn Antiques - The Musical at the Theatre Royal Haymarket last night.

Victoria Wood - As Seen On TV was the ground breaking TV show circa 1985 that contained the screamingly funny continuing TV soap spoof Acorn Antiques based in the busy antiques shop in Manchesterford if you please. With its wobbly sets, sensationalist plots, appalling acting, crude camerawork and dopey dialogue it was uncannily reminiscent of bad soaps in general and Crossroads in particular.

Now twenty years on Victoria Wood's musical version has recreated that mayhem in equal measures of the surreal, the delightfully camp and the downright funny.

All the old gang were in it (but sadly not VW herself the night we were there as she only does 'Bingo Nights') including Julie Walters as Mrs Overall, Celia Imrie as the wonderfully sexy Mrs Babs, Duncan Preston as Derek and new characters played by Josie Lawrence and Neil Morrisey.

The first half was a musical within a musical - a sort of "let's put on a show" kind of thing set in 'real life' with the humour of a behind-the-scenes Acorn Antiques Special. The second half was Acorn Antiques The Musical! proper with everyone in character. Wrinkly tights, coconut macaroons, eye shadow and Mrs Overall's home-made sherry were all visibly waiting in the wings.

The songs were great, the dancing second to none and the pastiches spot on. It was a great variety show with top notch actors and entertainers doing what they do best - hamming it up. Real Northern entertainment. And very funny.

For we Mrs Overall fans it was a nostalgia trip without compare. Fab. Fab. Fab.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles...
Last night Drew treated Sasi and I to a film: Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles (or A Very Long Engagement to give it it's English title).

The film tells the story of a young woman (played by Audrey Tautou of Amélie fame and soon to be in The Da Vinci Code), who has been crippled since age five, trying to find her lost fiancé.

The film starts when five desperate men shoot themselves in order to be relieved from the horrifying frontline at the Somme, in WWI. A court-martial decides to punish them by leaving them alone in no-man's land, to be killed in the crossfire. Naturally they all die. Or do they? Our heroine receives information that makes her suspect her boyfriend might have gotten away alive after all. So she embarks in a painful, long and often frustrating ordeal to find out the truth.

So doesn't sound very funny, eh? Actually it was. Very moving and very funny. And not a car chase to be seen. Oh, and Jodie Foster was in it. As a French speaking Polish carrot seller. Of course.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Drew and I went to see Sideways over the weekend. Very funny. Go see.

Best line? "Don't say you called your ex-wife whilst drunk. Did you drink and dial?"
Marc on TV...
Marc Almond appeared on BBC Breakfast yesterday. He seemed fit, vibrant and positive. His teenage stutter has returned but he was nonetheless very chatty and enthused thanks to all his well wishers and about his new DVD Sin Songs, Torch and Romance out this week.

You can watch the BBC interview here.