Quote Of The Day

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

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Phantom Of The Opera...

Stu and I did something last night that I meant to do twenty years ago; go and see The Phantom Of The Opera. It was OK actually. A few good songs. And more theatrics than you can shake a stick at. Sadly there was no Michael Crawford or Sarah Brightman on stage last night (joke).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sam Taylor-Wood...

The other Sunday The South Bank Show featured the rather marvelous Sam Taylor-Wood. Taylor-Wood is a long-time collaborator with Pet Shop Boys having produced films for their Somewhere concerts at the Savoy Theatre, London. She has also been guest vocalist on two Pet Shop Boys produced songs - in the Boys' rendition of Serge Gainsbourg's Je t'aime... moi non plus and Donna Summer's Love to Love You Baby. For the latter of these two releases, she used the pseudonym Kiki Kokova. Recently another Sam Taylor-Wood and Pet Shop Boys collaboration was out, this time it was a cover of I'm In Love With A German Film Star by The Passions, accompanied by a video directed by Baillie Walsh. Fab.


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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Arsenal 1-0 Dynamo Kiev...

It was a frustrating 90 minutes but just when Paul and I thought it was all over Bendtner gave us a gift and carried us through to the Champions League knockout phase. It was more a steady than spectacular performance but it was important to win the game.

Monday, November 24, 2008

When In Rome...

Another day on the tourist trail yesterday. Starting at the Roman Fora we crawled all over Imperial Rome again; Palatine Hill and Museum being particular highlights. Headless statue after headless statue began to get a little tiresome after hour three though. We ended up hopping on a 110 tourist bus to whizz round the remaining remains. For our last night in Rome we checked out a gay bar, slummed it in the Hard Rock Cafe and had a few martinis on the roof of our hotel. We then retired to our room to watch Roman Holiday on pay per view and have the rather gorgeous Marco deliver us yet more martinis. We're just about to check out and head to the airport.

Update: Just paid up. The martini bill alone was €130! Oops.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rome Wasn't Built In Day (but we tried to walk it in one)...

Yesterday we visited Capitoline Hill, the most sacred of ancient Rome where the Temples of Jupiter and Juno once stood. We mounted the Vittoriano steps for the panoramic view, passed through the Piazza del Campidoglio to the Capitoline Museum and wandered past the Imperial Fora to explore the Colosseum more fully. A quick look round the Arch of Constantine and it was back to the Spanish Steps for a late lunch and a beer. Later on we went out for a 5 course meal with wine, water and coffee all in €18. Excellent. We also stumbled across a cruising ground in the massive park next to our hotel. Needless to say we stayed well clear.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

All Roads Lead To Rome (still)...

Yesterday was our first full day of sightseeing in Rome. With comfortable shoes on feet and guide book in hand we set off for our first destination, the Vatican City. Taking in the Tridente and the Tiber en route we soon realized that St Peter's Basilica was a no-hoper; the queue in Piazza San Pietro was massive. Ignoring invitations to queue jump (for a not inconsiderable sum) we rather half-heartedly wandered round to the Vatican Museums. Apparently the queues for the Sistine Chapel are often prohibitive too. We were in luck though. There was no queue at all. Result. So we wandered in and meandered up and down room after room of priceless antiquities taking snaps of the most impressive ones. Finally we made it through to the Sistine Chapel itself. We weren't particularly impressed to be honest and there was no Charlton Heston in sight so we moved on. Returning to St Peter's the queue had greatly reduced so we decided to join it. The Basilica was huge inside. Sadly no Pope was in sight and so no Papal ring to kiss. The climb to the top of the dome was pretty exhausting mind you; 551 steps. Phew. After the Vatican we experienced a bit of rip-off Rome and had a snack costing €44. Blimey. We then made our way back to our hotel via the Pantheon for a brief rest.

In the evening we took the metro via the Spanish Steps to the San Giovanni district to eat, see the Colosseum and watch a firework display. Cool.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Roman Hoilday...

We arrived safe and sound in Rome. We look the Time Out guide's advice and avoided taxis getting the train instead. It was cheaper and faster. The hotel is nice and central. We attempted a little bit of exploring with what remained of our day but spent most of our time dodging traffic and the multitude of scooters that seemed hell-bent of hospitalising us. We stopped for pizza which was pleasant enough and then ended up sipping martinis on the seventh floor of our hotel overlooking a floodlit St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City. So first impressions have been good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

All Roads Lead To Rome...

Stu and I are on our way to the Eternal City (via T5). Not looking
forward to the flight but am looking forward to the Roman ways.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I've just bought myself a new compact digital camera. A Samsung NV100HD. A risky thing to do just before going on holiday I realise. The specs look good though; 14.7M, wide angle lens, hi-def, ISO 3200, face detection, blink detection, smile detection, beauty shot, anti-red eye, etc. Time will tell if it's any good as a camera!

Andrew's Party...

On Sunday was Andrew's birthday and he threw a party. All the gang was there so it was nice to catch up with everyone. Below are some of the snaps I took. And you can see the others by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rome (where you want to)...

Stu and I are off to Rome on Thursday for a long weekend. I've not been for twenty-five years. And Stu has never been but has always wanted to go. Main task of the trip? Nun spotting.

And thanks to Luca for the tourist tips.

Decorators Caulk...

Hudd gave me a shopping list of things to get at the DIY store. "We need some Decorators Caulk", he said. He wasn't grinning so I guessed that that was what we needed. Some Decorators Caulk.

Fast forward twenty minutes and I was at the counter of the DIY store. "Can I have some Decorators Caulk please?" All smirks behind the counter. "Quick hardening or slow hardening?" says the guy. "Quick hardening", say I. "We only have white. We don't do black caulk. That OK?". More smirking. I redden somewhat realising that they are taking the piss out of me. "No, that's fine. White's fine. Four please".

After I get back Hudd tells we. It's pronounced "cork" not "cock". Opps.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sky back on Virgin TV...

Last Thursday Sky came back on Virgin TV. Peace has broken out at last. The new channels are Sky 1, Sky 2, Sky 3, Sky News, Sky Sports News, Sky Arts, Sky Arts 2, Sky Real Lives and Sky Real Lives 2. So we get to see new The Simpsons again. Yay!

To Be Straight With You...

Last Friday Stu treated me to a night at the National Theatre. We went to see DV8's fabulous show To Be Straight With You.

DV8 are a radical dance troupe whose work is often riveting, usually political and always sexy. This show was "a multi-ethnic cast in a poetic but unflinching exploration of tolerance, intolerance, religion and sexuality". It is based on hundreds of hours of audio interviews collected throughout the UK with people directly affected by homophobia; incorporating dance, text, documentary, animation and film. It was utterly fascinating, great fun to watch and very moving.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Arsenal 0-2 Aston Villa...

I had a bad feeling about this game and what with our recent inconsistency in form to back me up I had all my fingers and toes crossed as the game started. Sadly things planned out the way I'd feared. We played awfully. Needless to say Paul and I were gutted.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sarah's Birthday...

The gang was out last night for the lovely Sarah's birthday. We started off at the Refuel Bar at Soho Hotel and then moved on to Patara Thai in Greek Street. Great fun and always lovely to see everyone. Some more snaps here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Arsenal 3-0 Wigan...

Paul, Barry, Cat and I went to the footie last night. It was a master class by the young gunners (average age 18) showing just how well they can play 'the beautiful game'. Good night out.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Painter Man, Painter Man...

I've got three weeks off work so have decided to put the time to good use. I'm painting my flat. Well, to be more accurate first Simon and now Hudd are painting my flat for me and I'm merely the painter's mate (i.e. pretending to help). As with all painting it takes way longer than you first think, you come across more problems than you first think and you need to buy more paint than you first think. But boy is it worth it. The lads have done (and are continuing to do) a marvelous job. Brilliant white is the order of the day with just the odd splash of colour here and there. So it's all paint fumes and snow blindness round here at the moment. Should be worth it though.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Arsenal 2-1 Man Utd...

Oh my giddy aunt. We had our fingers crossed for this one. It was the first time we were playing another team from the "top four" this season and what with our recent dip in form... We've come in for a lot of stick in the last week or two what with drawing and/or losing against second rate teams. So the signs weren't good for this match.

As it turned out it was a wonderfully open game though. Because (rather than in spite) of our recent criticism and the sight of old rivals we were perhaps the more inspired of the two teams: Nasri scored after 22mins and again after 48mins. It fact it looked like we were all set for a comfortable win. But as ever Man U were not to be underrated - especially in the dying minutes of a game. The obviously biased ref (but I would say that) gave them a ridiculously generous six minutes of extra time but still they could only pull one back. So the final score of 2-1 was not only a blessed relief but also a fairly accurately reflection the play. Phew!

On a gossipy front, Robbie and Gary were reunited at match.

It's Carpets! It's Madness! It's Carpet Madness!...

So I went to Allied Carpets yesterday and their initial quote (full quote due from the pending measure up) for what was actually a cheaper carpet than John Lewis was still sky high. £4650! So I'm obviously way out of touch with the costs of carpets these days. And what puts the John Lewis costs into an even better light is this; I was coming out of Allied Carpets when I bumped into my neighbour. She said that she did a lot of research for their own recent recarpeting job and the cheapest they found was just over £6000. So it actually sounds like my John Lewis quote actually might be a good deal! My flabber had never been so gasted.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Never Knowlingly Undersold...

I like John Lewis. I really do. Nice products, friendly staff and great service. And let's not forget their motto: "Never Knowlingly Undersold".

But what does that motto mean exactly? I presume it means "we're the cheapest around - as far as we know" or maybe "we'll match the price of any other store" or even "we don't charge over the odds if we can help it"? I wonder. Apparently it means less than it did I year ago.

Why my pondering? Well, I got a quote for recarpeting my flat today. Two quotes actually. Both from John Lewis. The first was for cheap hard wearing carpet throughout the flat and the second was for some additional flooring in a small bathroom with vinyl tiles. And the cost including fitting? £4998 for the carpet and £467 for the vinyl. WHAT?! Am I so out of touch with the price of carpets? I thought it might be getting towards three grand from my back of envelope calculations but not five and half. And I don't even get a deep shag out of it (fnah).

So I think a trip up the road might be in order.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Crack A Joke, Lose Your Job...

Cari Mitchell of ECP thinks you should get sacked for cracking a joke. Oh for goodness sake. "Crack a joke, lose your job". Is that the new BBC motto these days! 

Arsenal 0-0 Fenerbahce...

Our league results have been disappointing in recent weeks unlike our European form. So it was with some excitement that Drew and I went to the Emirates last night. Sadly Fenerbahce held us to a draw. Grrr.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Star Wars Holiday Special...

Did you perhaps think that Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was the worst Star Wars production ever produced? Well, let me tell you that things got way, way worse back in 1978. Ladies and gentlemen I give you The Star Wars Holiday Special. Truly toe curling.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Pet Shop Boys at The Brits...

The Pet Shop Boys will be presented with an outstanding contribution to music award at next year's Brits, it has been announced.

Mari Wilson...

Last Friday Darren, Stuart and I went to see Mari Wilson (sadly without The Wilsations although Michelle Collins was in the audience) at the Shaw Theatre.

Mari Wilson was basically touring to publicise her latest album Emotional Glamour and, as she put it, a gambol* through her hit. Nudging 60 but looking like she's nudging 40, Wilson is a quirky singer/songwriter who performs early 1960s styled pop music. We were treated to, amongst others, to; Beat The Beat, Cry Me A River, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and of course her classic Just What I Always Wanted.

Sadly no trademark beehive hairdo though.

*just in case you don't know (I didn't), gambol means to run about in a playful manner; frolic.