Quote Of The Day

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

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Standard Life Members Vote 'Yes'...


Standard Life's Voting Members today voted in favour of the Special Resolution for the demutualisation of The Standard Life Assurance Company and the flotation of Standard Life plc on the London Stock Exchange.
Votes Cast 'Yes': 1,545,314 (98%)
Votes Cast 'No': 32,474 (2%)


Yay! Why am I so pleased? I have two endowment policies with Standard Life that have lost loads of money over the years - a black hole of life insurance and little else. So finally I get some recompense - shares in the new plc.

Arsenal Season Ticket...


Yesterday Paul and I went to choose our Arsenal season tickets. Block 125, row 3, seats 948 and 949. I'm too excited for words!

Pet Shop Boys Live On Radio 2...


You can listen to the Pet Shops Boys live on Radio 2 for the next week. Guest artists are Trevor Horn, Rufus Wainwright and Robbie Williams. They are four bonus tracks too.
[Thanks Hanko]

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pensions...


I knew they were going to raise it, but this is ridiculous. Looks like I'll have to wait another 2000 years for my state pension!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Michael and Andrew's Commitment Ceremony...



On Saturday Michael and Andrew held their Commitment Ceremony at Islington Town Hall. It was all delightfully low-key and simply lovely to be there. I took loads of pictures at the event itself, The Green afterwards, Comptons later and at Stephs. There is one above - the rest can be seen here.

The eagled-eyed amongst you may spot the new man in my life.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friends Again...


I met up with Mark again last night. We went for a pint and bite to eat. It was really nice. In fact I realised while we were talking that I've totally forgiven him. So I think it's going to be OK after all. We are friends again. I can't tell you how happy that makes me feel.

So what the Dickens am I doing here?...


This was me exactly one week ago.

1. Being converted into a Cyberman?
2. Being attacked by a food blender?
3. Getting a very small sun tan?
4. Something else?

Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

[Click for a bigger version]

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Confetti...


Last night Stuart, Andy, Tim and I went to see the Fox / BBC Films movie Confetti at the Odeon Holloway Road. It was Stuart's treat - he bought me dinner too. What a nice feeling to be treated. It was a light fluffy film with all the funny people from Peep Show, Green Wing and The Office in it. Oh, and our neighbours Julia Davis and Jimmy Carr. We laughed and laughed. A great tonic for a wet Wednesday. Recommended

Typically Topical...


Q. What's red and white and goes 'BEEP...BEEP...BEEP...'?
A. Arsenal's open-top bus reversing back into the garage.

A South African gold miner lost his leg in an accident. Choking back the tears later he cried, "It's over! who's gonna want a one legged gold digger?" Then his phone rang. "It's Paul McCartney."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

ELO Part 2 Former Members...


Last night Paul and I went to see the Electric Light Orchestra (strictly speaking they were "ELO Part 2 Former Members") perform at the Shepherd's Bush Empire. Never did I think I'd get a chance to go and see ELO live again - but sure enough, there I was in a venue rammed to the rafters with other like-minded fans dancing and singing along to all their old hits. 'Natch everyone knew all the words and the boys put on a good show. Needless to say Mr Blue Sky, my favourite ELO track, brought the house down.

Fundamental: Special Edition...


This week I got the Pet Shop Boys newy Fundamental: Special Edition which consists of a 12-track LP called Fundamental and an 8-track LP called Fundamentalism which could have been called 'Disco 4'. It is simply wonderful. Buy, buy, buy. So good to have the Boys back on form. Incidentally I think they should have called it 'Horny' after returning producer Trevor Horn.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Deadwood Stage...


Oh! The Deadwood Stage is entitled to rest today.
In the Golden Slipper the folks are chipper and gay.
Feet on the bar and raring to go,
Set 'em up Joe, Set 'em up Joe, Set 'em up Joe.


I think I've reached one of those real 'dead wood' stages in my life. It's happened to me a few times before and I recognise the signs. My life has become far too cluttered.

My friend Kit once told me that clearing out the dead wood from his life was the best thing he had ever done. And I think I agree with him. It helped him a lot. Mind you, I hardly heard from him again after that so I guess I was part of his dead wood! But then that's life I suppose.

As in horticulture, cutting out dead wood allows fresh growth. Getting rid of the things and more accurately people in your life that give you nothing in return has to be a good thing. Why spend time with people that simply drain your resources, both emotional and physical? Gwad knows I've been dropped by enough people in my time when I have nothing left to give them and they have gone on to form fresh new friendships. Probably better ones too. I'm not conceited enough to believe I'm the best person for someone else to have in their lives. Maybe some people are just better off without me. And indeed me without them.

So the time has come when I need to do the same as Kit. I need to thin out my friends, delete half my address book and stop giving some people in my life the attention they so rich no longer deserve.

So to some of my best friends please don't worry - it's hello dear chums as usual and good to have you with me on life's onward journey. But to all those vague acquaintances that clutter up my life, only think of themselves and do nothing for me - it’s goodbye forever, your bags are in the hall.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Da Vinci Code: Christ! Relatives!...


We went to see The Da Vinci Code last night. Crap. Better title might have been "Hanks: You've Got Grail" or "McKellen: Knight and Dei".

Lady Sitters...


Hmmm. Funny but perhaps a tad stereotypical! Ladysitters.

Friday, May 19, 2006

French and Saunders Night...


Last night Richard, Stuart, Andy and I went to The Green to their Watch With Martha night. They had screenings of French and Saunders and a F&S quiz. Naturally we won! And got horribly drunk too! There were actually only three questions:-
1. Why couldn't Jennifer answer the door when Dawn knocks?
2. What age did ballerina Dawn 'go up'?
3. What alcohol drink did Jennifer have on the back seat of the coach?
Our team name was "Two lumps of coal and a worm, of course!"

TV vs. HD vs. World Cup...


News about high definition TV and the World Cup: Telewest scores HDTV deal for World Cup. Yay! So we'll be abe to watch every match in HD!

And in related news, the BBC have launched HD but... the schedule is not exactly gripping i.e it's Eastenders and it's "not originated in HD" i.e. it's interpolated.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Arsenal State The Bleeding Obvious...



[Click for bigger versions]

Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal...


This just after Sol Cambell's goalThis from my mate Simon: "Barca, ves a pendre pel cul, que et dongui pel cul!" (note the use of the present subjunctive in the final clause). Well put!

We were gutted. Barcelona scored twice in the last 14 minutes to beat an heroic 10-man Arsenal in the Champions League final in Paris last night. Sol Campbell's thumping header gave Arsenal a 37th minute lead - after goalkeeper Jens Lehmann had been sent off for bringing down Samuel Eto'o. I don't think there was one person watching who wanted Lehmann sent off and for the disallowed Barca goal not to stand. Refs, huh?

Oh well. Next year...

[The picture here was taken just after Sol Cambell's goal]

UPDATE: Ref regrets decision. Bit late now, love!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Arsenal vs. Barcelona...


Tonight Arsenal and FC Barcelona meet in Saint-Dénis. The two undefeated sides will contest the final of this season's Champions League.
In our favour Arsenal have not conceded a Champions League goal since 27th September 2005. And the sequences of 10 consecutive clean sheets and 919 minutes without letting in a goal are both Champions League records.

However FC Barcelona have already clinched the Spanish league title, like Arsenal are the only unbeaten team in this season's Champions League and are hot favourites.

It should be a close match. Me and boys will be on the sofa watching it on the big screen.

Bettye Lavette...


On Monday night the rather sexy Stuart treated me to Bettye Lavette at the Jazz Cafe. What an amazing performer. What an amazing performance. She could sing, she cound dance, she kept us entertained with her quips. With not one bum note the entire 90 minutes the 60 year old soul singer certainly knew how to belt them out. She made the hair stand up on the back of your arm. Just lovely.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fair's Fair...


The government agreed to outlaw discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the provision of goods and services last November. This covers a range of areas, from healthcare and schools through to insurance and hotels, across the UK. Fair enough.

However some religious groups are now demanding broad exemptions in the regulations, threatening to expose lesbian and gay people to continuing discrimination. Those well-known live-and-let-live at The Christian Institute are currently running a letter-writing campaign. Featuring a now familiar litany of exaggerations and misrepresentations, they are calling for services and businesses run by Christians to be legally entitled to turn away gay customers, including care homes and schools. "We'll sell you a Bible but not let you bugger our children". Really? Well, reasoned arguments like that would be far more convincing if your children weren't so pig ugly you bunch of happy-clappy funsters. But I digress.

Sadly the government may be swayed by these bigotted views unless there are enough people speaking against them.

To put forward your own thoughts, email equality.project@dti.gsi.gov.uk. Go on. It'll only take a second.

My opinion:
- The proposed sexual orientation regulations are essential. There is much evidence to show that lesbian, gay and bisexual people across Great Britain encounter discrimination in areas such as hotels, insurance and healthcare every day.

- The regulations must apply to public functions, such as hospitals and schools. There can be absolutely no question of discrimination being allowed by any organisation which receives money from the public purse - the gays pay tax just like straight people. Trust me. I know!

- The government must ensure that the regulations are robust, with no exemptions for faith schools, or for commercial or community services which are provided by religious groups. Exempting faith schools could mean a young person could be excluded from a school for being gay, or for having gay parents.

The closing date for responses is 5th June 2006 so why not jot down a few lines saying how "the gays should be treated fairly"? An electronic version of the consultation is available at http://www.dti.gov.uk/consultations/Open/page27077.html

Monday, May 15, 2006

The cab driver who edits Newswireless and lectures on iPods......


Guy Kewney's cab driver gets mistaken for the real Guy Kewney and is put on air live at BBC News 24. Such a great story.

UPDATE: Not cab driver. But job interviewee!

UPDATE2: And BBC 24 apologise.

[Thanks to Guy for the updates]

Microsoft Market The iPod...


What if Microsoft were given the task of marketing the iPod? This cynical video tells you how that particular marketing idea might go. Very amusing. And the clip was actually created my Microsoft themselves. And who said they didn't have a sense of humour?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Michelle, My Belle...


Last night I met up with the lovely and gorgeous and sexy Michelle for cocktails after work at the very swanky Long Bar and then Dim Sum at Ping Pong. We'd not seen each other in months and had a great catch up with what's been happening in her life (lots) and mine (lots too). I think I might have persuaded Michelle to come to ELO at Shepherd's Bush too! Yay!

Old Boiler...


My combination boiler has given up the ghost. So no heating (not that we need it at the moment), no hot water and it's dripping water - just to add insult to injury. Grrr! I'd long been planning on replacing it anyway but no doubt aware of my intentions it threw itself on it's own heat exchanger before I could ditch it in a "stable and orderly transition".

So this weekend I have 'a little man who does', i.e. an over-priced local plumber, coming round to do. He says it'll take him all weekend to fit that which he recommends: a Vallant ecoTEC plus combi boiler 831. Bumpf says 35% more efficient that my old one, hotter water 105800 BTU rather than 48000 BTU, smaller, lighter (like I care)... blah, blah, blah. Just as long as it works I'll be happy.

So I guess the bottom line is I need to come up with the princely sum of £2100 by Sunday. D'oh!

And there's a slight side issue in the meantime too. I've not been able to wash in hot water for days. It's amazing just how unclean you feel when you can't wash in anything but cold water. And I've been feeling a bit too embarrassed to ask any nearby friends or neighbours whether I could use their facilities for a quick shower. I mean, it would just be awful to ask for help in just a personal area as cleanliness, right? How ridiculously British of me.

So this morning I was trapesing up and down stairs with kettle after kettle of boiling water trying to fill a bath.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wii...


The specs for the Nintendo Wii are looking good. And the games look good too; especially Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.

Another interesting feature will be the always-on Internet connection and the virtual console: "Wii will have downloadable access to 20 years of fan-favorite titles originally released for Nintendo 64, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and even the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The Virtual Console also will feature a "best of" selection from Sega Genesis titles and games from the TurboGrafx console (a system jointly developed by NEC and Hudson). It also will be home to new games conceived by indie developers whose creativity is larger than their budgets." Cool.

Brain Teaser Answers...


Well done Luca. Well done anon.

1. 45 minutes. In 24 hours, the cold tap could fill 80 baths, the hot tap could fill 96 baths and the plug could drain 144 baths. Therefore, in 24 hours, we have 80 + 96 - 144 baths full = 120 baths. Therefore each bath would take 45 minutes to fill.

time (min) x rate (gal/min) = cap (gal)
18 ct = 15 ht = 10 pl = bath
time x (ct + ht - pl) = bath
time = bath / (ct + ht - pl)
time = bath / (bath/18 + bath/15 - bath/10)
time = 1 / ( (15 + 18 - 27) / 270) = 1 / (6/270) = 270/6 = 45 mins

2. Pineapple = 83p, coconut = 57p, melon = 62p.

m + c = 119p
m + p = 145p
c + p = 140p

m - c = 5p
2m = 124p
m = 62p
c = 57
p = 83p

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Brain Teasers...


1) My bath has two taps and a plug hole. The cold tap on its own fills the bath in 18 minutes, the hot one in 15 minutes. The plug hole can drain the bath in 10 minutes with the taps off.

How long will the bath take to fill if I leave both taps on with the plug left out?

2) If I buy a melon and a coconut, the cost will be £1.19. If I buy a melon and a pineapple, the cost will be £1.45. If I buy a coconut and a pineapple, the cost will be £1.40. What are the individual prices?

Arabic...


Marhaba. Sabaah al khair. Dahabtu illa al mad'am haythyu akaltu dajaaj. Jalastu alla al kursiy alladee akhadtu min maktabeka. Hada al kitaab alldee qara-tu ma'a akhee. Kuna fee al maktab indama wasala abbee humak. Hadihi ukhtee allatee katabat haihi saheefah. Dahabtu illa al maktab thuma jalastu alla al kursiy haythyu katabtu risaalah. Kuntu hunak. Ma'a salaama. Ila liqaa. Salaamu alaykum.

I'm learning Arabic. I finally decided after working for an Arabic company for eighteen years (yes, it's really been that long) that it was about time I mastered some of the basics. And very basic my mastery is too I might add. I'm about two thirds of the way through a twelve week course. But it's fun to be learning again and Arabic is a really interesting language.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

PS3...


So the PlayStation 3 (PS3) specs are looking good. But the price isn't though.

The new PS3 will be released by Sony mid-November with the basic model coming in at a whopping £330 and the larger hard disk version at £400. And that's without a 2nd controller or a game. Yikes!

Ugly Dolls...


When I was in Oz last month I spotted in a window, fell in love with and bought (mail order) a collection of Ugly Dolls. Yes, I know a 44 year old gay man collecting stuffed dolls is at best a little fruity but I'm too happy with them to care. They arrived the weekend before last and immediately nestled into my bed with me. Awww.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Brum, Brum...


It was a really nice weekend up in Birmingham with Roger and Sandy - pictures here. Chig's 40th on Saturday night was great fun too - pictures here.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Here we go, here we go, here we go, ...


YEEEEES! Arsenal won today against Wigan 4-3 and Spurs lost 2-1. So we're 4th in Premiership and now definitely playing in Europe next year. RESULT!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Brum, Brum...


Roger and I are off to Brum today. We're going away for a long weekend. It's Chig's 40th tomorrow night and we'll no doubt be finding some other things to do too. I mean, there's gotta be something to do in Birmingham, right?

Goooooner!...


I am a very, very happy bunny. Almost exactly a year ago I applied for an Arsenal Season Ticket. I paid my £15 deposit and I was number 32,306 in the waiting list (see image on left). There were 32,305 people in front of me. And what popped into my inbox last night? An invitation from Arsenal FC to go and choose my seat in the new Emirates Stadium! Part of the Ashburton Grove planning permission was that half of new season tickets go to Islington residents. YES! RESULT!

So at the end of this month both Paul and I will be tootling around to go and choose our seats. They range from "Lower Wing, Corner and Behind Goal" at £885 a year up to "Upper Centre" at £1825 a year (see image on right).

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Catch Up On My Week...


This last week just gone has been fun so far. With lots going on. Sort of the way I like it really.

It started quietly enough. Friday I stayed in (my choice) to spend some quality time with me, myself and I. Glass of wine, posh nosh and a DVD. Marvelous. I do like my own company. Which is something I'd probably not have said barely six months ago.

On Saturday Drew, James and I went shopping and then had an afternoon sipping Vina Sol and playing Top Spin 2 and Project Gotham Racing on the Xbox 360. Great fun. James is such a nice guy. He and Drew make a great couple.

In the evening Matt was having a dinner party which I turned up a little late to (oops!) but again was great fun and it was so nice to meet all his friends. Naturally the food was great and the Mattster was the perfect host.

Sunday I had a bit of a hangover (note to self: avoid Hungarian liquors - especially if I was the one who'd bought it in the first place!) but was spritely enough to meet Stuart for a coffee in the afternoon. That turned into a beer though... or two.. and that turned into Horse Meat Disco... that turned into Marvelous.. that turned into 4am. Yikes!

So Bank Holiday Monday saw a major hangover. Drew and I crawled out of bed at the crack of noon and onto our respective sofas to watch Da Kath and Kim Code and Saturday's Dr Who. And we only popped out for the briefest of pints in the Eddie for some hair of the dog.

Back to work Tuesday then in the evening I was playing catch up with Paul - lots going on in his life so it was nice just to sit and chat.

Last night was a weird one. Went down to meet Darryl (and Chris) in the Eddie and who should be there but Mark (my ex who I'd not seen him in 11 months). We had a nice chat actually and promised to meet proper. Good. It was something that had been on my mind.

Then when I got in I had some super news waiting for me (more of that anon).

So all in all a nice week so far. And tonight after voting in the local elections I'm hooking up with Frank and Andy which will be even more fun.

So a nice few days of enjoying life.

Brain teaser answers...


1. The missing symbols are: multipy, divide and add...in that order.

2. Six steps.
The full answer is as follows:
1. Fill up the 9 litre jug from the pool.
2. Fill up the 4 litre jug from the 9 liter jug (leaving 5 litres in the 9 litre jug).
3. Empty the 4 litre jug into the pool and fill it again from the 9 litre jug (leaving 1 litre in the 9 litre jug).
4. Empty the 4 litre jug into the pool and put the 1 litre from the 9 litre jug into the 4 litre.
5. Fill the 9 litre jug from the pool.
6. Fill up the 4 litre jug from the 9 litre jug. There was 1 litre in the 4 litre jug, so 3 litres will fill it. This leaves, in the 9 litre jug, exactly 6 litres.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lost: Season Two...


I promised myself I wouldn't. Watch that is. But I couldn't help myself. 10pm on C4... 11pm on C4... 12pm E4... the first three episodes from the second series of Lost.

Well at least we now know what's inside that ruddy hatch!

Brain Teasers...


1) What are the missing symbols in the following calculation? 5 ? 9 ? 4 ? 8 = 19.25

2) You've got a 4 litre jug and a 9 litre jug. You've got a pool of water. What is the fewest number of steps it takes to come up with exactly 6 litres of water?
You cannot pour some water into the 9 litre jug and then guess. Nor can you fill each jug up half way and guess. You have to be exact. A step is defined as putting water into a jug (but not emptying it). For instance, filling the 4 litre jug and then pouring it into the 9 litre jug is 2 steps.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Mummy Buffalo...


Q: What did the mummy buffalo say to her child as he left for school?
A: Bison.

The Triplets...


How cute are they? A week or two ago now.