Wednesday, February 28, 2001

I've just finished reading "The House Of Sleep" by Jonathan Coe. What a wonderful book. If you haven't read it, I urge you to do so. It's about a group of students sharing a house. Each of them suffers from a sleep disorder or is obsessed with sleep in one way or another.

The book is so beautifully structured I want to read it again. If only to rediscover the word for the sleep disorder I have: I sometimes have dreams which I cannot distinguish from reality.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago I was telling Ian that I knew someone who was in the film "Traffic". When he asked me who, I became confused. I remembered someone telling me about it, but not who it was. Because it never happened.

Last month I called my friend John just to check what time we were meeting that night. "But we're not meeting tonight," he replied. I was adamant we were. I remembered talking to him on the phone and arranging a meeting. But it was a dream.

Maybe this is one of those phenomena which happen to everyone, but no-one ever talks about. On a related note, last Saturday evening, as I was leaving the pub, I noticed that the streetlight directly outside had a circular rainbow halo around it. I stared at it, fascinated. As I walked down the street, I was amazed to see that all the lights had these rainbows around them, which became smaller yet more distinct the closer I got to them. I wanted to stop people in the street and point them out. But I hesitated. Was it some freak climatic condition unique to that evening? Was it the first signs of glaucoma or cataracts or something? Or what if streetlights always had haloes around them at night? But that, surely, wasn't possible.

It is. They do. How have I never noticed this?
The A to Z of the Vauxhall Tavern
is for Beer
And lots of it. The general idea at the Vauxhall seems to be to chuck as much beer as possible down your neck before the show, during the show and immediately after the show. Thereafter, almost everyone switches to water. But I don't think it's conscientiousness...

Trying to carry three pints from one end of a pub to the other is difficult enough as it is. Now turn the lights way down. Now cram in as many people as health and safety regulations allow. And then lots more. Now play S Club 7, so that the throng all [Reach!] fling their arms in the air simultaneously... A couple of my friends (you know who you are) insist on drinking Guinness. I've had one too many white shirts ruined by having half a pint of the black stuff spilled down me. I now refuse to get people pints. It's cans of Red Stripe or nothing. The handy thing with cans is that if you're wearing combat trousers, you can carry an entire round of six drinks in one go - one can in each hand, one in each of the top pockets of your trousers, and one in each of those silly pockets halfway down your legs which seem to have no other purpose in the world.

I have a great deal of respect for the Vauxhall's glass collectors, who manage to negotiate the crowds while balancing implausibly tall columns of empty pint glasses on one shoulder. As the Dame Edna Experience says: "Spare a thought for our glass collectors, and when you've finished your pint, put the glass on the floor! £3.25 an hour? What more do they expect?"
I'm going to be playing Connect-Flo all day. (Connect-4, basically, but they presumably can't call it that. ) Thanks, Cal.
I demand a recount! Not since the Gore-Bush fiasco has there been such confusion and chaos surrounding a result. I speak, of course - as every Wednesday morning - of the pop quiz. There were three of us this week: me, Darren and Jonathan. (Ian came along too, but sulked when no-one would listen to his preposterous guesses.) The bad news is: we lost by half a point. Yes, again. The good news is: The Team Of Seven had their celebrations cut short after it was mistakenly announced that they'd won. They hadn't either. That'll larn 'em, the cheating bastards. Bitter? Moi?

Among the questions we got right: spot the connection between "Just A Spoonful Of Sugar" by Julie Andrews; "Moon River" by Henry Mancini; and "On The Radio" by Martine McCutcheon. What are the first ten words of Adam And The Ants' "Stand And Deliver"? [Well done, Jonathan for that one.]

Among the questions we got wrong: give the year that the Tears For Fears album "The Hurting" was released. And the year the following were all hits: "Welcome Home" by Peters and Lee; "Angie" by the Rolling Stones; and "Never Gonna Give Ya Up" by Barry White. [We were a year out on each question. Again.]

Answers on an e-mail to the usual address.
The Grim Reaper reckons I'm 33. So I act a couple a years younger than I am. Sue me! Anyway, I look far, far younger, don't I, Meg?

Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Starting today - the A to Z of the Vauxhall Tavern. Every Sunday afternoon, I go to the Vauxhall Tavern for their now legendary Chill Out Session. Here's why, starting with the first letter of the alphabet, and hopefully continuing with a letter a day.

A is for Almighty Records
Without Almighty Records, the Vauxhall on a Sunday just wouldn't be the same. Some would say it would be a lot better, and I used to be one of those. I remember writing a long rant to my friend Steven about the evils of Almighty Records, how they had become the be-all and end-all of gay music, the lowest common denominator, ubiquitous in gay pubs and clubs throughout the country.

The Almighty formula is simple: taken a proven pop song, add some cheesy handclaps and some tacky keyboards, and there you have it - sure-fire queen-friendly fodder. The formula has been applied to S Club 7, Cher, Celine Dion, Kylie, Billie, Pet Shop Boys, Lolly, Geri Halliwell, A1, Roxette and Savage Garden.

A is also for Andy Almighty, the DJ responsible for foisting this lot on us, and an all-round lovely bloke: "There's nothing tacky about what we're doing," claims Andy Wetson, of the Deja Vu cover of Celine Dion's 'My Heart Will Go On'. "To take a ballad and transform it into a stomping club tune takes thought."

Well, I thought it was dreadful. Week after week, I'd snobbishly, grudgingly dance, one eyebrow raised, tongue firmly in (my own) cheek. And then one day, possibly under the influence of the fifth letter of the alphabet, I felt my right arm flinging heaven-ward to the chorus of S Club 7's "Reach!". And both arms raising involuntarily to Geri Halliwell's "Lift Me Up". And I realised that's exactly what the music was: uplifting. And on a Sunday evening, in a blacked-out shit-hole in the middle of an exhaust-fume-clogged roundabout, what more could you possibly want?

Without Almighty Records, the Vauxhall on a Sunday just wouldn't be the same.
Back to the Retro Bar tonight (Wendy owes me a beer for all this publicity) for the pop quiz. No word yet as to whether our Secret Weapon is joining us. If not, we could be in for a repeat of last week's humiliation. Particularly as Dave is still minkering in Sydney. To prepare for the quiz, I'm off to look at the Radio 1 playlist, check out this week's new releases, find out what happened this day in music, practise on a pop quiz or two, and see what the competition are listening to.
I know what you're thinking, cuz I'm gifted that way: "How did the date go?"
I got to the Retro Bar at three minutes to eight, bought a drink and surveyed the crowd, trying to spot anyone who matched Dan's detailed description (25, 5'9", good-looking, shaved head, blue eyes, wearing a denim jacket and black hat). No-one. Then, at 8 on the dot, in walked someone wearing a denim jacket and a black hat, with a shaved head and blue eyes, about 25 and 5'9". (Spot the missing descriptor.)
"Dan?" "David?" "Yes. Er, hi. Can I get you a drink? Here. Let's find a seat."
We talked about books and we talked about films. About music and our favourite singers. We talked about childhood and schools. About parents, divorce, regret. About drink and drugs, good trips and bad. About acting and directing and playwriting and playwrighting. About ambition and the lack of it, about madness, religion, tarot cards, star signs, regression therapy. We talked about clubbing and dancing, about politics and friendship, and the politics of dancing.
But we didn't talk about sex.

Monday, February 26, 2001

Like Tom, I am hooked on online personality tests like this one. Unlike him, I'm no social hedonist but an autonomous rebel.
Went down to the canteen - sorry, "Cafe Bar" - at lunch. I quite fancied a baguette with minty lamb. Till I looked at the ingredients: "Lamb, Turkey, Mint Sauce, Tartrazine e102, Brilliant Blue e133". What the hell is Brilliant Blue, and what's it doing in my sandwich? And turkey? If I'd wanted minty turkey, I'd have ordered a minty turkey.
Julia, who sits opposite me, has her Mac set up so that every time she receives an email, it makes a short quacking sound exactly like the ones at the start of Whigfield's "Saturday Night". Mine emits a little 'ding' that reminds me of John Lennon's "Just Like Starting Over", so I spend all day singing one of those two songs. The other song I have lodged in my head today, for some unknown reason, is Feargal Sharkey's "A Good Heart", which is definitely Not A Good Thing.
Blind date tonight, eek!
We've never seen each other, never spoken to each other, never emailed or ICQ'd or IRC'd. In fact, the internet had nothing to do with it. Just text messaged.
A dangerous toy. This toy is being made for the extreme priority the good looks. The little part which suffocates when the sharp part which gets hurt is swallowed is contained generously. Linked nicked from Meg, whose photos of Friday night I am dreading...
If a million monkeys were given a million typewriters, eventually one of them might produce the entire works of Shakespeare.
But to reach it, would it be worth wading through 400,000 copies of Money by Martin Amis? I think not.

If a million monkeys were given a million typewriters -
- why, that would be the internet, surely?

If a million monkeys were given a million typewriters, eventually one of them might produce the entire works of Shakespeare.
I have but one monkey, and one typewriter. Nevertheless, it's worth a shot. Type, monkey, type!

The future is female.
With this, one cannot argue.
Only bicker.
If you missed Attention Scum! last night, make sure you set your VCR next week. Like some surreal cross between The Fast Show and a lecture on Nietzschean philosophy, it makes The League Of Gentlemen look like One Foot In The Grave.

Saturday, February 24, 2001

I haven't had a hangover like this since - ooh - last weekend. I blame those vodka jellies. Or those strange test tubes of green liquid. Or perhaps both the Rat and the Parrot crawled into my mouth and died there.

Friday, February 23, 2001

Central Weekend Television are doing a programme tonight about binge drinking. Sadly I'll be too busy binge drinking at the BloggerMeet to make it! However, if you would like to go on the show please call Camilla Sullivan, Central Weekend Live on 07867 976 412 or 0115 964 5408.
Missed opportunity - a headline I never saw:
An article about that bland blonde whose album "No Angel" is perplexingly at the top of the UK charts, and Eminem, the rapping arsehole: Dido And Anus
A lovely-looking blog. With a new design apparently due this afternoon.
An email from Felicity in Facilities [no, Jonathan, it's not another anagram!]
From: White, Felicity
Sent: Friday, February 23, 2001 9:41 am
To: **All Users**
Subject: Lost Item

An item was found in the showers the first floor showers last night. If anybody has lost anything please contact the Facilities Dept. on 7070

What can it be??

Thursday, February 22, 2001

Things I've regretted doing when drunk (part 1 of 1,736)

Back in September last year, we won the quiz at the Retro Bar. We got the cash prize - about £130. And - well - it went to our heads. Several pints to celebrate. And then several more for luck. And then a few more in a late-night drinking den. And then a few more. For the road. Eventually I staggered onto a night bus and promptly fell asleep.

I woke up as the bus was pulling into a bus garage in entirely unfamiliar surroundings. I rushed down the stairs, falling down most of them. And then tried to figure out where the hell I was. Somewhere suburban, with wide streets. Not very London at all. Edgware. Not Edgware Road, note, but Edgware, Middlesex.

I made a few exploratory forays in each direction, till I found a stop for London-bound nightbuses. Next to the bus stop was a phone box. Inside the phone box was a drunken youth. Asleep. Four feet off the ground, in a horizontal position, with his feet propped against the door and his head and shoulders against the far wall. With a half-eaten kebab resting on his lap.

In my mind's eye, I could see what would happen if I gave the door a quick jerk - he'd fall down.

So that's what I did.

And that's what he did. Came crashing to the ground, kebab and chips and curry sauce flying into the air and splatting on his face. And then he saw me. And he chased me down the street. Or rather he tried to. For every three steps he took towards me, he'd involuntarily take a further seven in another direction. So I easily out-ran him.

But mate, if you're reading this, I'm sorry!
I think I've got scurvy! My gums are swollen, and my teeth feel loose. It could just be gingivitis. But I prefer to think I have scurvy. Makes me feel like a pirate.
To Andy's last night, along with nine others, to watch the first two episodes of the US version of Queer As Folk. Andy's Old Street loft-style apartment was the ideal habitat for it, really.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about QAF US was just how similar it was to QAF UK. Shot for shot, character for character, situation for situation, identical. But with American accents, bizarrely making it feel like a soft porn flick. All the characters had bigger hair (boo) and better bodies (yay). Even the camp one (Anthony in the original) was shown pumping iron. But then, to judge from the conversation running round Andy's room, I was about the only one who didn't have a gym membership.

General consensus was that it wasn't as good as the original, though I thought it was every bit as good. Or bad. We forget just how excrutiating Aiden Gillen's trans-Irish-Sea accent was. Interestingly, the Americans didn't shy away from the sex aspect of it. In fact, the first sexual encounter between the Nathan-character and the Stuart one was more graphic than in the UK version.

It was certainly far, far better than "Metrosexuality", which started last night. And which I managed to watch five minutes of before the am-dram over-acting became too much for me.

Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Some more blog anagrams. I guess I should just point out that these are not meant to be in any way appropriate. They are, after all, my favourite blogs. Or those with anagrammable names, anyway. "Y2PM" just isn't funny somehow.

I'm Red Ken

not so soft
Ton of toss

over your head
Overheard you
Oh dear, voyeur

digital trickery
Tarty, girlie dick
I track tiger idly
I'm getting a reputation as a source of celebrity penises. These are all from my referral log for yesterday. However, google has come over all prurient, as doing a search on any of these phrases today will no longer lead to you to the popbollocks pic, or to this site.
1. Google: "Tobey" "penis"
2. Yahoo: famous penises
3. Google: David Blaine Tobey McGuire
4. Google: Tobey McGuire penis
5. Google: Leonardo David Tobey
6. Yahoo: xxl penises
We didn't go to the quiz last night. Stayed in and had an early night, honest.
Oh, hang on, someone might have seen us there. OK, we went, but, um, we didn't take part. No, all right, we did take part, but we - I know! - we thought we'd let someone else win. Yes, that's it. We knew all the answers, of course, but we just pretended we didn't. Do you know how hard it is to force yourself to get just 12 out of 21? It's not easy, you know.

Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Been messing about with anagramgenius again, producing anagrams of some of my favourite blogs:

A bold goon
Bog and loo
Boo! Old nag!
Go, bad loon
Goal: do nob
God! A lob-on
O! Lob gonad
Lad nob goo
Pig scrotal bag.

Wherever you are
Her weary oeuvre

Is incurable
I club in arse
I curb aliens
Is a runcible
Anus rib lice
Uric lesbian

Bifurcated rivets
Brave cutie drifts
Serviced fair butt
Faced bitter virus
I've crude fart bits

new york london paris munich
Horridly unknown companies
Wrinkly, non-humanoid corpse
Unkind, non-corporeal whimsy
Champion sorry, idle unknown
Wrinkly ponce or inhuman sod?
Womanish, drunk, loony prince
Unwashed crook or limp ninny?
Win kind, horny, cool superman
Lynch unkind, poor womaniser
Announced "I'm wrinkly or posh"
Now manic, horrendously pink

I'll use my favourite anagrams of Swish Cottage in the title bar over the next few weeks, Fawlty Towers style.
On the tube on Friday evening, a group of young Australians were sitting opposite me. Two of the girls came and sat next to me:
"Are those real," one fo the girls asked, pointing at my earrings, "or clip-ons?"
"Of course they're real," I replied.
"Do you have any other piercings?"
"I might have..."
"How many? I guess four."
"You could be right," I said mysteriously.
"Where are they?" she asked, all excited: "I bet you've got your nipples pierced."
"Well, maybe, but only the one."
"Your belly-button?"
"No, I don't have my belly-button pierced."
"So where are the other three? You mean you have three piercings in your....?"
"Oh look! It's Camden Town. Gotta get off here!"

The truth is, I don't have any piercings apart from the two holes in each of my ear lobes, and I've had those since 1988. Before you ask, no I don't have any tattoos either.
Some one-liners from Steven Wright, appearing at the Dominion Theatre this Sunday:
I have an inferiority complex. But it's not a very good one.
If blind people wear dark glasses, why don't deaf people wear earmuffs?
If it's zero degrees outside today and it's supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?
Can you buy an entire chess set in a pawn shop?
I'm writing an unauthorized autobiography.
What happens if you put a slinky on an escalator?
If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.
I was sad because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. So I said, "Got any shoes you're not using?"
It's quiz night tonight. But... Dave is away in Australia (and continuing his blog from there, ensuring that we can't forget the fact that he is enjoying permanent fucking sunshine) and Darren is preparing for the opening of the Electric on Friday. So it's up to me and Jonathan.
Hurrah! Google and Yahoo now have Swish Cottage in their databases. So you too can find this site by looking for the pic of Tobey McGuire and David Blaine that was doing the rounds a few weeks back. Hmmm... I think I'll have to start peppering my posts with the types of things people search for. So there I was, in Las Vegas, on my Playstation 2, swapping Pokemon and Dragonball tips with Britney Spears and Pamela Anderson, listening to the Jennifer Lopez track I'd downloaded from Napster, watching WWF, wearing our prom dresses, and discussing the relationship between Greek mythology and the Bible, when who should walk in but George W Bush and Oprah Winfrey...

Monday, February 19, 2001

Another week, another online personality test. Take the Sex And The City test to find out if you're more like Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte or, er, the other one. No surprise to find that I'm nympho Samantha.
Going out is the new staying in to get over your cold.

Saturday afternoon is the new Saturday night. Can't decide whether to go out on Saturday or stay in and watch telly? Do both. Met up with Ian and Neil and Guy in Comptons at about five, had what felt like a full night's entertainment, and still got home in time to watch I Love 1984.

Sunday afternoon is the new Sunday afternoon. But the Two Brewers is not the new Vauxhall Tavern, and Pam Ann - while fairly funny - is not the new DE Experience. And poor Sandra, of course, is not the new anything. Highlight of the evening: missing the last northbound tube, milling around on various pavements, trying to work out which way was north, and then jumping on a bus which Andy claimed was going to Oxford Street but which turned off towards Brixton. Ian decided he'd had enough of our indecision and went striding off purposely in what he hoped was a northerly direction. Me, Andy and Jonathan had a strategic regrouping in KFC before persuading a cab driver to take us to Shoreditch via Archway via Trafalgar Square. For twenty quid.
I have a date next Monday. With a guy I've never met. Never seen. Never spoken to. Yes, it could be the world's first-ever text message blind date.

Friday, February 16, 2001

I'm off work ill, but I just had to come down to an internet cafe to check my mail, read my favourite blogs, and - of course - edit mine. Actually, I just had to get out of the house. There's only so much daytime TV a man can watch. I've had quite enough of Kilroy and Trisha. And, having watched This Morning, I know what "colourways" to use in a bridal bouquet should I ever have a wedding whose theme is royal blue and silver. No wonder I feel ill - I could just feel my life-forces draining away.

So here I am in an internet cafe on Cricklewood Broadway. An internet cafe which according the sign on the window offers "The Most Fast Internet In The UK". I don't know about that, but it certainly offers The Most Grubby Keyboard In The UK. Lord knows what other germs I may be picking up from it. Still, at least it doesn't matter that my nose has dripped onto it several times!
I never remember - is it 'starve a cold and feed a fever' or 'feed a cold and starve a fever'? And what if - like me - you have both? Should I alternately binge and purge? Is becoming bulimic the answer? Well, you never saw Princess Di with a runny nose, did you?

Thursday, February 15, 2001

Electioneering has begun. Spotted on Finchley Road, a Labour billboard:

Tory Cuts

It's just crying out to be jammed.
I ripped both these links off from the same blog, but I've shut it down and can't remember which one it was now. Anway, here they are:

Chris Morris' Best Bar (None), a guide to Britain's most essential drinking environments.
Ingenious bar conversion of London's fattest lamp-post. Just 12 feet in diameter, but arranged deep into the earth over 13 floors. Park yourself on a space-saving buttplug stool. Tuesday features live acoustics from Badly Worn Hat. Separate live DJ in toilets. Free scooter porn lounge."

The total population of the world is... Reload this page every few seconds. Scary.
Ok, so I didn't get any Valentine's cards, real or virtual. No chocolates, no flowers, no declarations of love. But I did get a video clip of a croaky, flat Stephin Merritt singing My Funny Valentine.

This just in: a belated e-card from the Crazed Stalker.
The Cunt Coloring Book. Does exactly what it says on the labia.
[link stolen from east/west]
Well done, Patrick, who emailed me with the correct answer to the film star question:
lucy liu.
first was kevin, next was LUCY, third in line was me
LOU bega
lucy+lou= lucy liu.

or maybe
kevin+bega= kevin bacon (?)
i dunno, that's pushing it.

You were right first time, Patrick. You shoulda quit while you were ahead. But you can join our quiz team when you come over from Texas next month.

Wednesday, February 14, 2001

You're probably aware of Michael Landy, the conceptual artist who is systematically destroying everything he owns. Take a walk past the old Marble Arch C&A store on Oxford Street over the next week or so, and you can watch him feed all his possessions into a machine which will reduce them to pellets. And it really is everything he owns - all of his clothes, electrical goods, his passport, his own artworks and those he owns by Damien Hirst and his girlfriend Gillian Wearing.

Receiving less publicity is American student John D Freyer, who, via EBay, is selling everything he owns at all my life for sale. Items currently under the hammer include furniture, a Pez dispenser, unidentified photographs, and the opportunity to be his roommate. Previous items have included a date with his girlfriend, drinks with his friends Maya and Shari, and a cheeseburger with his friend Sara.
Four acts which must be carried out by the previous week's winners of the Retro Bar pop quiz:

1. Sit in the same place as last week, because:
a. it was lucky for you last week.
b. queens have fickle memories - they need the visual aid to be reminded who won last week.
2. Wait till someone shouts out across the crowded bar "no, the money didn't go last week - someone won a bottle of wine," before swaggering to the bar to collect your wine.
3. Carry the wine ostentatiously to your team, wine glasses clinking loudly. Then toast each other smugly.
4. Win again.

Well, three out of four ain't bad. And 18 out of 20 ain't bad either. But not enough. Our knowledge of crap British films with Boyzone theme tunes proved lacking, and I think that's something to be proud of.

Last night's quiz was movie-related, and contained some really quite complex questions: "You're going to hear two songs. Add the two together, and you'll get the name of a film star." For instance, they played "History Repeating" by Shirley Bassey, followed by "Thieves In The Temple" by Prince, making Shirley Temple. We failed on this one: the first clue was to take one of the names mentioned in "Starfish And Coffee" by Prince, the second was "I've Got A Girl" by Lou Bega. Name that film star! We couldn't.

Tuesday, February 13, 2001

The Oscar nominations are out. Gladiator [ho-hum] heads the list with 12 nominations. Crouching Tiger [hurrah] is nominated in loads of categories, including best foreign film and best film. Javier Bardem is nominated for best actor for Before Night Falls, in which he portrays Reinaldo Arenas, a Cuban writer who at first supports Castro and is later persecuted for his homosexuality.
Thanks to everybody who offered advice on digital cameras. Thanks especially to Matt, who recommended this pretty comprehensive site, offering users' reviews. I'm not sure I'm any nearer to making up my mind, but I like the look of the FujiFilm FinePix 1300.
I've decided I really need to buy a digital camera. But which one? I don't think I need a fancy 3-mega-pixel job. I just want something that will quickly and reliably take pics in all sorts of conditions, which I can put on my blog and email to people.

There are a few digital cameras available for under £100 - the Kodak EZ200 for £76.99, for instance - which takes 128 pics at a resolution of 640x480. This sounds like enough to me. Do you have any experience of this model, or anything similar? Tell me the pitfalls of buying cheap.

Another camera which takes my fancy is the Olympus C860L. This is still priced under £200, and has all sorts of features, but do I need them? And what sort of storage media and connectivity should I be looking at/avoiding?

If you have a digital camera, please let me know which one you own, and whether you would recommend it.
Groan! I really don't feel well this morning. My tummy hurts. This could be as a result of this weekend's excesses. But I'm blaming the new Chinese restaurant on Finchley Road. I had a lovely dinner there last night: succulent lumps of roasted fat atop stodgy bland rice, with a delightful side-order of deep fried green pubic hair.

Monday, February 12, 2001

In Microsoft Word, type the following into a blank document:
and hit return. Link from
Lying in the bath this morning, I decided to look at the line of dust-encrusted bottles by the side of the bath. They've been there ever since I moved in, more than a year ago, but I've never really bothered to examine them. There's a bottle of Savlon, with a "use by" date of June 1996. And a bottle of surgical spirit [why?] which seems to pre-date the "use by" concept. But it does contain the following puzzling instruction: "rub onto the hands and feet to harden the skin". Why on earth would anyone want hard, horny hands?

On the subject of toiletries, I'm a sensitive soul. Or at least my skin is. I can't use perfumed and coloured soaps or lotions. So why have Sainsbury's produced a shower gel "non-coloured for sensitive skins" which reeks violently of violets? There's always Simple shower gel, non-coloured and unscented. And seemingly non-water-soluble. Spill some in the bath and it floats around in stringy globs, just like... well, you know.

And Dove shower gel: "80 uses with puff". What the fuck does that mean? Firstly, how do they know I'm a puff? And what are the 80 uses? I can only think of about three, and one of those would probably burn like hell!

Saturday, February 10, 2001

Samantha Mumba on SMTV this morning: "yes, I'm auditioning for a part in a film. It's called The Time Machine. It's an old story, written by Orson Welles."
Out with Ian last night. Comptons, the dire Admiral Duncan, the even more dire Friendly Social (like living inside a fluorescent light, and £3.30 for a bottle of beer? please!) and finally, as per usual, to Barcode. Bumped into Dave.

Friday, February 09, 2001

New Photo-Me booth pic for my replacement Travelcard. The other three pics on the strip are being destroyed! Immediately!
The Soft Cell singer Marc Almond: "Mr. Anal-Crotch's got semen-filled"
Boy George and Culture Club: "A once-cute, burly old bugger"
Boy George: Take It Like A Man: "I, a notable gay ego, meet Kirk"
Club Tropicana - Wham: "A public W.C. marathon"
Elton John (Reginald Dwight): "Tangled long with John Reid"
Don't Go Breaking My Heart: "Go ram a knighted rent-boy!"
These, and hundreds more anagrams, from
Things my girlfriend and I have argued about was written up in today's Guardian. Which usually means everybody's seen it already. But I hadn't, and it's very funny. And very, very familiar.
It's important to know what type of friend you are. In my imagination, I'm the strong, supportive type, always ready to lend an ear, and a shoulder to cry on. In practice though, I'm really the type of friend who can be relied on to supply bits of useless trivia, bizarre links and song lyrics. Hence e-mails like this:

I need to find the lyrics to One Night In Bangkok - don't ask. Need your help.

One minute later, of course, winging their way across cyberspace were Tim Rice's finest lyrics, including my favourite rhyme of all time:

Tea, girls, warm and sweet,
Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham Suite.

And another thing: why is it that I always come out as a cruel, heartless bastard in all of these online personality tests? In thespark's personality test, I was the Iceman; in their Match test I was the Judge; and in the Office Flirt test currently doing the rounds I was the Owl (wise, reserved).

Someone recently described me as the Wizard of Oz - the quiet little man behind the curtain, controlling things. But I'm presumin' that I could be kinda human, if I only had a heart.
The University of Toronto is conducting a study into the effect of semen on speech. They are looking for male students willing to receive fellatio. And you get paid $145 for your troubles. Link from Bifuracted Rivets.
A couple of days ago, I mentioned the offensive "Young, Gifted and Dead" posters that Brent Council have erected around the borough. Well, someone's slapped a coat of whitewash over the one I pass on the way down to the tube station.

Thursday, February 08, 2001

For the next BloggerMeet, how about a pub crawl? Here's my report from a Circle Line Pub Crawl I did a few years ago. TNT suggest some other popular crawls: the Monopoly Board Crawl, the River Crawl, etc. Pumpkin Publogs have a far more manageable suggestion - the Blue Posts Pub Crawl.
Oh, I love it!
My first disturbing search request. Someone came to me looking for "skinheads +tight +cock".
But then, don't they all...?
During last night's episode of Sex And The City, Carrie said "it's a common belief that women use the left, more emotional side of the brain, while men use the more logical right side". Wrong, Carrie. The left is the more logical side, the right the more emotional. Typical woman, doesn't know left from right...!

There was a great bit of product placement for sponsors Bailey's at the ad break for last night's episode. Samantha was giving some bloke a blow job. He moaned: "Oh, I'm coming, I'm coming. Oh man, oh man, oh man, you give good head." Cut to Samantha swallowing. Abrupt cut to thick, creamy Bailey's oozing over ice.

The four girls were later chatting at Samantha's new flat. "Having it all," Charlotte said, "means having someone special to share it with." "Yuk," said Carrie, "that's so... Barney!"

Look, honey, I went out with the guy who played Barney. And I dumped the man inside the purple dinosaur costume because of his commitment issues. So I can tell you, that's not "so Barney" at all.

Wednesday, February 07, 2001

Lemon Jelly KY was one of my favourite albums of last year. Laidback, loungetastic music, and groovy psychedelic cover design. Check out this article about the packaging design in today's Independent and download a Lemon Jelly screensaver from the band's own site.
Brent Council has these big billboards all over the place featuring a black youth sprawled on the ground, blood dripping from his mouth, and a gun near his outstretched hand. The headline reads "Young, Gifted And Dead". Everybody's natural reaction is to substitute the word "black" for "dead". And what kind of message is that?
Wondering when your favourite blog has been updated? No need to keep reloading their page. Just look here. (Assuming they're link-hungry sluts who make sure their page is listed on every directory there is, of course. I know I am.)
We won the Retro Bar pop quiz again last night. I say "we" but it really wasn't a team effort. Dave couldn't make it, so it was Jonathan and me, plus our "secret weapon", Darren, who DJs at and runs Shake A Tail Feather, the club specialising in 60s and 70s soul and funk. And last night's quiz was entirely... 60s and 70s soul and funk!

We got a massive 19.5 out of 20, but frankly Jonathan and I could have gone off and watched a movie and left Darren to it. Still, there's a bottle of wine waiting for us next week.

Tuesday, February 06, 2001

This site produces random poetry using some sort of cgi script, based on the words used on a web page. Link nicked from Meg. Here's a [highly edited] poem it produced for Swish Cottage:

Swish Cottage? We moved into a
fitter and glamorous world.
I am a gay man, and turner. He’
enrolled me down, but with
or which made legally available for
The Land Of addicts, hustlers, dancers,

Swish Cottage? Swish Cottage?
I could sing.
I had it.

The city
6 pints
The trouble started
With an email from Wapping
It was an amiable drunk. really drunk really drunk
really quickly, and milking

And most disturbing
was it might be updated at home
Your bestest friend in
a violent sleazy and suddenly thought
I spouted.

the author reads his encyclopaedic knowledge of
getting home.

I was off again.
revealed his encyclopaedic knowledge of
blogging [he would not understanding
a second until I had
read the Retro Bar tonight.

Much drinking.
Much waiting for
A character

Swish Cottage, We scored a girl with
my God.Swoon!
Swish! . The axis got to
mount her.

Swish Cottage, We had it. fulfilled

Swish Cottage
reads his encyclopaedic knowledge
of my Crazed Stalker
A ;color: black;:boy of
the fucking morning
Ian looked on.
Ecstasy to be made legally available for therapy in five years? Unlikely, but I'm booking a therapist now.
That Iansie - he's such a doll!
Pop quiz at the Retro Bar tonight. We have a secret weapon tonight, so watch out...
Now that's what I call music criticism: Juliet Peters, aged 32, of Canning Town, is alleged to have phoned Billie Piper's record company, leaving this message on the answerphone: "Billie Piper's head needs cutting off. She needs decapitating and she needs killing. She needs her body to be set on fire and her body burnt to cinders and to be banned forever off our screens." She went on to call Billie "a "stuck-up, snooty, bitchy, arrogant, spoilt brat". It seems the trouble started when Billie gave her a "sly, dirty look" when Ms Peters was in the audience during a TV music show.

Speaking of sly, dirty looks, that Danny off Popstars has a wicked grin, hasn't he?

Monday, February 05, 2001

Top Of The Pops to relaunch. Again? Seems it may move back to Thursday nights. The move has been caused by the decision to broadcast four episodes of EastEnders a week. Link from New York London Paris Munich.
Hey! It works! 30 minutes after asking who and are, I receive emails from them.
I've just done theSpark's Gender Test, and apparently I'm "definitely a woman". How about you?
Link from b l a s t;;;;; - who are you?
Frankly, I'm amazed that I made it into work today. I don't mean the tube strike, but the weekend:
Friday: after the IMAX film, we went to Barcode. Simply everybody was there. I seemed to get really drunk really quickly, and suddenly thought "I have to go" and rushed out, just missing the tube and having to get a night bus.
Saturday: Duvet day. Eventually crawled out and tottered off down Kilburn High Road. Bought a VCR, intending to record the Annabel Chong story, but couldn't set it up in the ten minutes I had before I had to rush out to the Wimbledon Theatre to see La Cage Aux Folles. One of our group is in it. In drag. Nice legs, Gary.
Sunday: Matthew's 30th. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Fantastic. A rather bewildered Matthew was greeted by 20 guys all wearing "Matthew 30" T-shirts, organised by Andy'n'Alex. Much drinking. Much dancing. Much flirting. Much waiting for two night buses.
And the prize for the wildest weekend goes to Guy and Neil. But I wouldn't gossip...
I was going to write something about the amazing Cyberworld 3D at the IMAX. But Ian already has. Go see it. [The film and Ian's site.]
At 8:23 on Saturday morning, my phone rings:
"Hello. Is that David?"
"David? Simdy?"
"Who is this?"
"It's Patrick!"
"Patrick! Patty! Pattycake! From the Marc Almond Message Board"
"Jesus Christ! Where are you?"
"Texas. It's two in the morning. I'm crazy and manic and I'm thinking of coming to London for the Soft Cell shows. Britta gave me your number."
"I didn't know she had it."
"You mean 'I didn't know she had it, and I wish she hadn't given it to you.'?"
"Ha ha, no really, I love being called by manic Americans at eight in the fucking morning on a Saturday."

Friday, February 02, 2001

This is an email from my friend Andy, which I just had to repeat here:

Where were you all last night? Certainly not with me and Richard! We decided that it might be fun to go to the Two Brewers to see Bucks Fizz...

It started with Mike Nolan saying that they had now been together 20 years. Strange that was, as he was the only orignal member. Bobby Gee has disappeared and has been replaced by David Van Day (yes, remember Dollar). He now resembles Pat Wicks on a good day, and they seem to have dropped the Vera Lynn lookalike who was one of the girls last time I saw them in Cambridge, to be replaced by two blonde bombshells.

The Brewers was packed, but with nobody we knew . It was like there was a coachload of schoolkids bussed in from the suburbs all of which probably weren`t born when Making Your Mind Up was released.

Despite all of the above they did a couple of medleys of their hits: Making Your Mind Up, If You Can`t Stand The Heat, Run For Your Life, My Camera Never Lies, The Land Of Make Believe, and a few others; to be finished off with David van Day breaking into Mirror Mirror, the old Dollar hit. The encore was a Sean Sirrs mix of Making Your Mind Up!

At this point and after 6 pints I think it would have been wise to go home. BUT no we ended up going out the back for a Boogie.

We stumbled out on the street where I then did my Alien impression and was rather ill. At this point Richard put the rescue plan into action, by calling for an ambulance to take me away. Actually they took us back to Waterloo, which made getting home a bit easier. Very kind of
them... and by the time we got to St Thomas' I had recovered so didn`t need admitting...!

All in all a great Thursday night!
Yesterday's title bar quote, "about 18 inches from tip to tail", was from the album Lemon Jelly KY, by Lemon Jelly. Today's is much easier. A mention for the first person to name that tune.
Damn! I wish I could read Icelandic. If only so that I could figure out how on earth this blog, Barbra Streisand Gives One Hell Of A Nose Job, links Barbara Cartland, Zsa Zsa Gabor, David Crosby, Ayn Rand and Ross Perot.
More Marc Almond news. have the following book available for pre-order:
The End of New York by Marc Almond.
"A new collection of poetry and prose inspired by New York City, with a series of extraordinary photomontages and a CD on which the author reads his work, The End of New York will appeal to all Marc's fans and to anyone interested in the city's sexual subcultures. With a cast list of addicts, hustlers, go-go dancers, and locations in the clubs and lounges of the city, this is at once a violent, sleazy and glamorous world. A necessary publication for Marc Almond fans. Spoken-word CD available only with this book. Eight color photomontages specially commissioned for this publication."
It's an ellipsis book, which leads me to wonder if it's just A Beautiful Twisted Night, tarted up for US release. The cover pic is stunning. The oh-so annoying ellipsis site doesn't appear to have any mention of the book. It's not released till May, anyway, so I may pick it up when I'm over in New York in June...
Buster Bloodvessel hospitalised with a strangulated hernia? It couldn't be better. Unless he had bust a bloodvessel, of course.

Thursday, February 01, 2001

The title of this blog, Swish Cottage, and the blurb at left, may have led you to assume I'm a Londoner. I'm not. I mention below that I grew up in South Africa. But I'm not South African. I was born in Wales. But I'm not Welsh. My family come from Preston, Lancashire. But I'm not a northerner.

My dad couldn’t decide what he wanted to be when he eventually grew up, so we moved from place to place with horrible regularity. I went to twelve schools. Just as I was starting to make friends in one school, my dad would receive another calling, and we’d be off again. Here’s a potted history of my childhood.

1. St Joseph’s Roman Catholic School, Preston, England. Age 3 to 5.
Family legend has it that I went along with my mum to register my brother, Antony, who was five. I was just three-and-a-half. But I could read already. The headmaster saw me reading, while they discussed Antony’s future, and he was so impressed with this tiny, precocious child that he enrolled me as well. For the first few years of my life, I was a child prodigy. No, I didn’t run round the playground screaming, "I am a firestarter," but I was regularly called off the street into neighbours’ homes to prove that I could read the newspaper. Upside down. What happened?

2. Gregson Lane Primary School, Preston, England. Age 5 to 8.
I’ve just discovered, from doing a web search, that this was actually the same school as the one mentioned above, but just a more modern building. At some stage, my brother was moved up a class, as he was definitely a year above me. And, no, I am not going to consider the possibility that I was held back. I have vague memories: learning how to make water bombs in origami; reading The Little Red Hen; being able to spell Mediterranean correctly (something I didn’t manage to do when I first typed this); and my teacher – a Mrs Webb – whom I loved dearly.

3. Yeoville Boys’ School, Johannesburg, South Africa. Age 8 to 9.
I hated everything about our first few months in South Africa. Apart from the wonderful sunshine. I hated this school, I hated having to wear a uniform, with a cap, which was stolen, leading me to spend every afternoon in detention. I hated the corridors, which smelled of peanuts. Or was it piss? I hated the kids who bullied me, because I talked "foony". I still have a small scar on my forehead where I was shot with a catapult. And most of all, I hated being held back two-and-a-half years because I was patently too young to go into standard three. Never mind that I had already learned everything we did for the next few years. Of course, when I was at Yeoville Boys’ they didn’t brag about its most famous past-pupil, Joe Slovo, who went on to become head of the South African Communist Party.

4. Meyerton Primary School, a town near Johannesburg. Age 9.
My dad had decided he had had enough of being a fitter and turner. He’d love to be a farmer. So off we went to a 60-acre plot in the middle of nowhere, growing maize and milking cattle. I loved the big grain silos and I loved the party line phones. I also loved Lollo, the little black boy of my age, until I was told it would be best if I didn’t play with him any more. I hated watching the chickens having their heads chopped off with an axe. I remember seeing my kitten's head being bitten clean off by our Great Dane. Of the school, I remember almost nothing, apart from the asbestos pre-fab classrooms. Oh, and a girl with elephantiasis.

5. Aloe Ridge Primary School, middle of nowhere, South Africa. Age 10-11.
I loved this school. I loved our huge ramshackle house, Shooters’ Lodge, with the kopje behind it. At Aloe Ridge, someone discovered I could sing. I was given all the solos, hitting the high notes that none of the girls could reach. I loved the fact that there was no school bus, so I went to school on horseback. One morning a stallion, driven wild by the scent of my mare on heat, tried to mount her. I was thrown off. Of course, I had no idea what was going on – I just remember it as a violent scene. I think my dad was now a draughtsman, but he can't have been that happy, because after two – for me blissful – years, we packed up again and moved into the city.

6. Selborne Primary School, Vereeniging, South Africa. Age 11.
I have nothing but unhappy memories of this school. Selborne Primary was a huge, repressive, typically "Transvaal Education Department" school. I was forced to stay in every break to practise my handwriting, which simply would not comply with the government-approved script. Thankfully, I don’t think we were there very long, as my dad had had another brainwave: we would move back to Johannesburg, where he would become a teacher.

7. Forest Hill Primary School, Johannesburg, South Africa. Age 11 to 12.
Our move to Johannesburg coincided with the Soweto riots. We kids, of course, didn’t understand what was going on, but I distinctly remember the propaganda sessions disguised as history lessons. The political troubles may have had something to do with my dad’s next major decision: let’s uproot the kids again, and move to another country: Swaziland.

8. Usutu Forest Primary School, Mhlambanyati, Swaziland. Age 12.
We moved into a company-owned village, where the 300 residents all worked for the Usutu Pulp Company. And were almost all English expats. We lived in the middle of the world’s second-largest man-made forest, surrounded by rivers and mountains. And mist, which cut us off from the world for days at a time. Apart from the constant sulphurous stink of the nearby pulp mill, it was a magical place for a child to grow up. For the first time since we’d left England, I felt at home. I threw myself into school, making friends, taking the lead role in the play – a satirical panto in which I played a character named Suck-it, not understanding a single one of the double entendres I spouted.

And then it was off to high school. But that is quite enough for now.
As you were going on about nicking links, Jonce, I'll nick one of yours. This site - which I think is for the film Requiem For A Dream - is just fantastic.
Good God! Each member of my pop quiz team now has his own blog. So a big welcome to the world of blogging [he says with all the worldly wise wisdom that comes with three weeks' experience] to Dave and Jonathan.
Ian, of course, has one too, but (a) you know that anyway, and (b) he's not allowed to say anything during the pop quiz.
One from the top please, Carol. Play Countdown online
Link from minkered
Saturnalia. A comic strip featuring pagans, devils, satyrs and large phalluses.
Link from Bifurcated rivets.
Out last night to see Traffic. Excellent film. I had read that the three locations were shot in different colours, but I didn't realise it would be quite so... exaggerated. Great acting from all concerned. I found chilling the way the film became more and more desperate. What was most disturbing was that Michael Douglas's daughter reminded me of my youngest step-sister.

I was taken to the film by my Crazed Stalker. Discovered a few fascinating things about CS. For instance, he's mentioned in the acknowledgements of Marc's autobiography, Tainted Life.