Friday, August 31, 2001

I've added a 'comments' facility to this site. Simply click on 'comments' at the bottom of any entry. A window will pop up, where you can read others' comments or add your own. Anything you write will be visible to all readers. So be nice!
On Monday, I will be in my new office. Or rather, my new offices. I now hotdesk! During magazine production times, I'll sit with the editors on the fourth floor, while at other times I'll be floating around somewhere on the third floor. I think. I shall take to toting my belongings around in a plastic bag. Oh, it's lovely to be a highly-valued member of a dynamic company.

Perhaps I'll get the ultimate cubicle, manaufactured by IDEO in conjunction with Dilbert's creator Scott Adams. It comes complete with boss monitor, hammock and fake sun indicator. I want!
Juan Muñoz, the artist responsible for the brilliant, disorientating work currently in the foyer of Tate Modern, has died suddenly aged 48. Guardian obituary.
I nicked this from a mailing list I'm on:
On Aphex Twin's Windowlicker EP, the second song [Formula], when played through some sort of wave display unit, actually makes songs look like random fuzz running across the screen, but this one really was tracked with the thought of it visually representing something. Honestly visual sound, no bullshit. that is is one of the best pictures from the track:
I have no idea if this is true. I seriously hope it is, though. Perhaps if you have 'some sort of wave display unit' you can confirm this?
This takes ages to load, but the wait is worth it. Well, more than the wait for the actual movie, anyway. I bring you: hundreds of parodies of the "Lord Of The Rings" poster.
Last week I posted a picture of my bedroom and asked you to guess what the oak-paneled walls were really made of. I didn't receive any correct answers, though Tom was almost spot-on when he suggested they were made of paper of cardboard. Very nearly, Tom - they're papier mâchè!

When the house was done up in the thirties, this room wasn't originally a bedroom, or the dining room, or the library. It was something called "the fantasy room" - a room for parties. I love that.

Thursday, August 30, 2001

Jim Treacher has taken the OJ cartoon idea far, far into the depths of his dark and twisted mind. How far? This far: The Hulk goes cruising.
This doesn't work in all browsers, but if you can see different colours below, and if you can explain why, please let me know.
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Yesterday was the busiest day ever here on Swish Cottage. While I'd like to think all 277 readers came here for the quality writing, the pithy humour, the scintillating anecdotes, I'm afraid the evidence suggests otherwise. This is what a selection of people came here looking for:
digimon sex - this is by far my most common search request; about twenty a day.
Tittybong - fab!
buy online uk levis engineered jacket.
drunken girls toilet.
Beckham gay skinhead - in your dreams, and mine.
Gay worn jeans Manchester UK - as worn by Beckham?
sexy pics of the Indian village girls.
letitia dean sexy pics - a contradiction in terms, surely?
home phone numbers of girls in the uk who talk dirty and sexy

Wednesday, August 29, 2001

This one could run and run:
  • First, take a look at the original comic book ad for Dingo boots, featuring OJ Simpson
  • Now see Matt's twisted interpretation of it
  • Then take a look at my own effort
  • And Simon's
  • Also, Mo's entry
  • An anonymous bitch-slappin' version
  • OJ Is Satan's whore
  • The world's first 3D website? [Requires red-blue 3D glasses.]
    No, we didn't win last night's Retro Bar pop quiz. Unlike every.other.occasion.on.which.we've.won, last night's quiz was not particularly eclectic. It was another 80s quiz and, once again, we revealed we don't know as much about the 80s as we thought we did. This was surprising, really, as the team was made up of our, um, more mature, representatives: me, Jonathan, Ian and Darren. No Shaun.

    We didn't know the titles of the Dexy's Midnight Runners and Boy George songs (There, There, My Dear and To Be Reborn, respectively). We thought Poison was Twisted Sister (but, then again, Ian misheard Poison as Boyzone) and we thought Spear Of Destiny was New Model Army. We couldn't remember the name of the Jim Steinman concept band that originally recorded the Celine Dion hit It's All Coming Back To Me Now.

    But we did know the name of the band who first had a hit with Everlasting Love (Love Affair) and luckily Jonathan stuck to his guns in insisting that the dreadful prog rock song was by Marillion, and not Genesis as we all thought. We knew the connection between a reggae song called Tomorrow People, Sam Browne's Stop and a song called Water On Glass. Do you?

    We finished with a score of 15 out of 20. The winners got 17, proving that we're not total sad 80s has-beens!
    I am rubbish at buying presents. Since I started seeing Marcus, he has given me:
  • a pair of trainers
  • two T-shirts
  • two bamboo candles
  • one scented candle
  • a soft toy
  • the Air album
  • a chill-out CD
  • an album by some groovy Swedish band
  • probably lots of other things I've forgotten

    I have given him:
  • an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue
  • some tacky fridge magnets
  • a bag of sweets

    Admittedly, Marcus hasn't - to my knowledge - had to buy many of the things he gave me, but got them through work or something, but that doesn't matter... he thought about me when getting them. I'm crap at thinking what other people would like. It's all me, me, me, me, me.
  • Tuesday, August 28, 2001

    So, you're a teenaged girl [unlikely, I know, but go along with me here]. You're a fan of Boyzone. You want to check out their web site. So, you type in "". You get more than you expected. Instead of pics of Ronan and the lads, you get this: "Boyzone is the most intensely sexual experience you will ever find. From live, interactive XXX sex feeds to the hottest streaming videos! Whether you long for sucking cock or anal sex, Boyzone will not only make you cum faster and harder than any other collection of gay smut, you will swear it swallows every drop." What, the whole band?
    To paraphrase Morrissey, we hate it when our friends become successful in love. A certain UK blogger slapped another UK blogger in the face this weekend when he gushed, "Aw, my boyfriend is just sooooo sweet."
    Aaliyah, r.i.p.
    Where am I? "Johannesburg was a prosperous turn-of-the-century mining town. Places of interest included the King Solomon Mine (discovered in 1896) and the Randsburg Railway tracks, making the town a booming transportation center."
    No, I am not in South Africa, but in ghost town, Johannesburg, California.

    Where am I? "Johannesburg is home to Farmfest 2001 - Great Music, Great Fun, Great Food... Til The Cows Come Home! The music will moooooooooove you. Come and enjoy the performances of The Apple Blossom Bluegrass Band, Beats Settin' Home, Raisin Pickers, Saffire - The Uppity Blues Women and Tangerine Trousers. Local news headlines include: Randy's 30-foot pit spit triumphs."
    No, I am not in South Africa, but in Johannesburg, Michigan, population 913.

    Where am I? "Johannesburg's neighbouring towns are Elisabeth's Hoop, Mariënburg, Geertruidenberg and Einde Rust."
    No, I am not in South Africa, but in Johannesburg, Suriname, South America.
    I moved to London in March 1995. Back in South Africa, I had got into a rut: I had worked for the same company for eight years, had lived in the same flat for seven, and had gone out with the same guy for five. I was bored and needed a change, some variety. And, boy, did I get it! In my first month here, I lived in four suburbs:

    Shepherds Bush: My mate Richard kindly allowed me to sleep on his couch. "You can stay here for two weeks," he said. After one week and six days, I hadn't found anywhere new to live, hadn't even looked to be honest, but things fell into place with remarkable ease. At a local gay pub, I got chatting to a guy called Tim. He asked me "I don't suppose you know anyone who is looking for somewhere to live, do you?" I did, I was, and moved in the next day.

    Chiswick: The flat was a little strange. Tim was even stranger. When I arrived, the place smelled of burning grass. As I struggled up the stairs, I discovered the source: a smouldering bunch of dried straw which Tim was burning to ward off evil spirits. I paid Tim for four weeks' rent (at fifty quid a week). After one week, Tim disappeared. The heating broke down. In mid-March. Coming from South Africa, I had never seen central heating before, and had no idea how to fix it. I shivered, wrapped in a duvet and wearing all my clothes. Tim finally burst in one morning and announced: "We have to move out. Tomorrow!" It turned out we had been squatting. I had one night to find somewhere to live.

    Hammersmith: I had become vaguely friendly with a French guy named Jean-Marie. When I told him of my plight, he offered me a place. The only drawback was that we had to share a bed. I didn't fancy him in the slightest. In fact, he was decidedly creepy. After one night of fighting him off, I spent two further nights there. Or rather, I spent two further days there, ensuring I stayed out all night, arriving home as he was leaving for work.

    Putney: One afternoon in a Hammersmith pub, I met a huge German skinhead. Turned out he was a rentboy, specialising in abusing his masochistic clients. When I told him I was currently homeless, he phoned one of his clients and ordered him to give me somewhere to stay: "He will come and live with you and you will charge him just thirty pounds a week." "Sir, yes sir!" I spent three months there, living above a disused pub on a rough Putney estate.

    I was six thousand miles from home, and lightyears from my previous life. I couldn't have been happier.
    Where do I begin? How to sum up the most fabulous weekend I've had in ages? How to choose just one highlight? Was it Fiction on Friday, with its silk-swathed ceilings, candlelit brickwork, beautiful people, chilled gardens and funky music? Was it bumping into a monumentally drunk Andy and Guy in Kings Cross station ("You're lovely, you are.")? Was it Saturday's glorious weather? The night spent in with Marcus, romantic despite watching two documentaries about the sex industry (Sex: The Annabel Chong Story and 101 Rentboys)? Was it the awesome, mindblowing, shape-shifting sex? Was it the DE Experience's show on Sunday? Was it all the lovely things Marcus said to me ("Your smile could melt the ice on the Titanic")? Was it dancing shirtless, careless, legless? Was it the holding, stroking, caressing? The sleeping, the waking? The relaxing into each other? Was it seeing old friends, making new ones, dancing, laughing, drinking, loving?

    It was all these things, but most of all it was Marcus. A very special weekend.

    Saturday, August 25, 2001

    Hot weather transforms London. From my vantage point of the top deck of a sweltering bus, I have just witnessed grown men paddling in the fountains at Trafalgar Square, and - most bizarrely - the Changing Of The Guard, complete with 20 Elvis lookalikes in white rhinestone-encrusted jumpsuits. I can only imagine the reaction of the American tourists: "Gee, honey, look: it's the King!"

    Friday, August 24, 2001

    Nicked from Popbitch, who nicked it from Private Eye:
    As you can probably tell from the picture below, I'm not a great stickler for tidiness. However, there is one area of my life in which I am incredibly anal: my CDs. Yes, they are filed alphabetically. But there's more to it than that - they're further split into singles and albums, which are then filed chronologically within each artist. For example, much of the top row - after ABBA and ABC - is occupied by Marc Almond, starting with the Soft Cell albums, then the Marc and the Mambas ones, and finally his solo albums, ending with the new one, Stranger Things. The same system is then repeated for singles.

    Anal? And then some, I know, but I do have hundreds of CDs, and like to be able to reach in and grab the exact one I want to hear when I want to hear it. Nothing else in my life is that ordered, honest. My desk is a mess, I can never find the files I've been working on as they're haphazardly stored in a bewildering array of folders. It's just my CDs. How do you arrange yours?
    The winner takes it all. Frida of ABBA is to auction off many of her personal belongings. Disappointingly, most of these belongings turn out to be lamps, rather than spangly jumpsuits. But there are some seventies-tastic outfits, like this fetching emerald green number

    Excuse the mess, I wasn't expecting visitors, but this is my bedroom. Yes, I live in an oak-panelled library. Except it's not oak. It's not even wood. But no, it's not fibreglass or plastic. The material used is far, far cooler than that. The room was decorated in the thirties. So what is it? I'll tell you what it's made of next week, but let's have some guesses.

    Out of shot is the huge, intricate ball-shaped wrought iron chandelier which dominates the room. But look closely and you'll see the bakelite servants' bell. [And, no, the walls are not made of bakelite.] Look even closer, of course, and you'll see a half-eaten sandwich, but please ignore that.
    Last night my poor, broke boyfriend and I went round to see my ex-boyfriend's stunning new house. Or rather his two new houses. Not satisfied with building one gorgeous house in ritzy Clerkenwell Green, he built two and knocked them through into one. So we had dinner last night on one of his patios - barbecued mackerel may just be my new favourite food, darling.

    The house is like something out of Architects' Journal: interconnected, sleek boxes. Low profile, anonymous exterior giving way to light-filled airy spaces opening onto two courtyards. We oohed and aahed and sipped our wine as he showed us round, admiring the blonde wood, the kirk stone floors, the skylights with their remote-controlled blinds. We tried not to feel inferior as he wondered aloud whether he should rent out the other house he owns in central London; the one built in 1781.

    Then we took the last tube back to Kilburn. But my place has unique architectural features, too. As you shall shortly see...

    Thursday, August 23, 2001

    I know that I seem to have regressed to a time I was twelve and living in Swaziland. Please allow me one last nostalgic anecdote.

    The village we lived in was in the middle of a huge forest - apparently the second-largest manmade forest in the world. For safety reasons, the forest was strictly out of bounds, so when a ranger spotted Antony and his mates larking about one afternoon in August 1977, he gave chase. Antony's friends ran one way, Antony the other.

    He wasn't home in time for dinner that night. My mum phoned his friends, who claimed not to have seen him at all that day. There was a great deal of speculation at a teenage party that night - eventually a tearful friend admitted that they'd been playing in the forest, and a search party was sent out to look for him. They returned the next morning, empty-handed.

    We received news of a death that morning - Elvis. It felt like an omen. The radio played Elvis songs all morning as we huddled together, waiting for the phone to ring.

    Around 11am, it did. Antony had been found, and was fine. He had spent all night wandering deeper and deeper into the dark forest. Some time in the middle of the night, a thick mist had descended, and Antony had had to stop where he was, not daring to walk another foot.

    A good job he hadn't - when he woke up the next morning, he found was right on the edge of a steep precipice, a boulder-strewn river far below. Yes, I know that sounds like exaggerated melodrama, but that's what he told us.

    He spotted a couple of huts and made his way there. The villagers welcomed him in, made him breakfast and walked him to the nearest forest station. He arrived home in a forestry fire truck, blasting the foghorn and grinning broadly.
    Genius! Windows RG*
    *Really Good version
    At last night's KilburnBlogMeet, Fraser, Marcia and I reminisced about our first slow dance. [No, not with each other!]

    Caroline Wood was the most eligible thirteen-year-old girl in Mhlambanyati. The chief forester's daughter, Caroline lived in the big house on the hill. Long blonde hair, blue eyes, she was as beautiful as Agnetha, a teenaged ice maiden. She came to my 13th birthday party and I plucked up the courage to ask her for a dance. Of course, as we were playing my record (Springbok Hits Volume 32) I knew that the next song was a Slow Dance. It was - in fact - the ultimate smoochie by renowned ladykiller, Leo Sayer. "When I a neeeed yu, I just close myas, andI'm wiiithyu. And all that I soooo wannagiiiveyu, is only a hatbeat awaaaay."

    I held her around the waist, her arms resting on my shoulders as we shuffled around my parents' living room. At the end of the song, she looked down at me and said, "do you want to go into the garden and French kiss?"
    Scream if you wanna go faster...

    Wednesday, August 22, 2001

    The past is another country; quite literally in my case, that country being Swaziland. My memory paid an unexpected visit to that other country this morning and returned with a poem I wrote when I was about twelve:

    Swaziland, land of mountains and mist.
    Swaziland, land of legends and myth.
    Deep in the heart of the African wild,
    Lies Swaziland, Africa's child.

    Strong as the elephant travelling in herds,
    Bright as a diamond, free as a bird.
    Her symbol, the lion, stands tall and proud,
    To the mighty king, let us all shout aloud:

    "Bayethe!" shout I, shout one, and shout all,
    "Bayethe!" again, for the king, proud and tall.
    The fields, the rivers, the mountains, the air,
    "Bayethe!" again, for Swaziland so fair.

    And when I depart,
    I shall leave all of my heart
    Deep in that heart of the African wild,
    In Swaziland, Africa's child.
    Jonathan and Bill have risen to my 'Woolloomooloo' challenge. They both contributed humuhumunukunukuapua'a, the unofficial state fish of Hawaii, which has 9 U's. Jonathan adds many more words, of which my favourite is 'possessionlessnesses' with nine S's [though I'm not 100% certain that it's a real word].
    We didn't have high hopes for last night's Retro Bar pop quiz. Darren couldn't make it, and when Jonathan phoned me to say he wasn't well enough to attend, I almost cancelled too. But then I got a text message from Shaun saying he was coming, and I figured we might as well go along for a laugh. Ian and Marcus joined us, and we called ourselves No Darren, No Jonathan, No Chance. How wrong we were...
    For questions one to four, we had to name the eight popsters pictured. [Click on the thumbnail to open a larger version of the picture in a new window.] How many can you get?
    The next three questions formed the "whistling round". We managed to recognise Bobby McFerrin's Don't Worry Be Happy, Roxy Music's Jealous Guy and Goldfrapp's Lovely Head from their whisting bits.

    Next up they played Summer Holiday, Bohemian Rhapsody, Hi Ho Silver Lining and Teenage Dirtbag. We failed to name the product which uses those songs in its TV ad. Can you?

    The following three questions proved how little we knew about Latino music. We recognised Gypsy Kings, Los Del Rio and Arrow, but failed to spot the Gibson Brothers, Champs and Booker T and the MGs. A quick call to Darren after the quiz proved that he would have got them without any hesitation.

    Our favourite round was next. See if you can spot the connection between Soul II Soul's Keep On Movin', the opening bars of the Toy Dolls' number one hit, and Turn On The Light, the latest single by a young female popstar.

    For the following question, we identified Hear'Say, Westlife and N*Sync, and correctly added up the number of members of each band to get a total of fifteen.

    The next three songs were all from old films. Ian knew that Put The Blame On Mame was from "Gilda", and we also correctly identified songs from "Easter Parade" and "Gigi".

    The 'What Happens Next' round gave us our traditional opportunity to quibble with the judges. We were played a snatch of the Steppenwolf hit Born To Be Wild, and had to supply the 16 words which follow "like a true nature's child". We got two words slightly wrong, and scored a half-point.

    The Suede album played next gave us no problems: "Head Music". Marcus recognised Let Me Blow Ya Mind by Eve featuring Gwen Stefani. Unfortunately, we thought MOP featuring Busta Rhymes was Bad Boys featuring Eminem. The funniest moment of the night was Shaun's Freudian slip when talking to the huge-breasted woman at the bar: "of course, you're right, it is Busty Rhymes!" The Fun Lovin' Criminals gave us no problem with their new single Bump [and a patronising load of old shit is, too].

    We even got the year right for a change. Luckily I remember Debbie Harry's Backfired far too well, and didn't need to hear Ultravox's All Stood Still and, um, something else, to know it was 1981.

    We ended the quiz on 18 out of 22. The atmosphere was tense, as it was Big Money night. All the teams who only come along when the stakes are high were there, including the surly bloke in the football shirt who glowered at us each time we got an answer right. We knew we'd done well, but had we done well enough? Yes! The big money was ours, all £121 of it. Naturally, we went out to celebrate, and called Jonathan and Darren immediately to gloat share our news.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2001

    According to Sitemeter, Swish Cottage has been viewed 25,000 times. To celebrate, I have waded through months of this stuff, and present: The Best Of Swish Cottage - the posts I remember most fondly:
  • The A to Z of the Vauxhall Tavern
  • My walk across London
  • The first eight schools I attended
  • The next three
  • Dove shower gel: 80 uses with puff
  • Drunken exploits: part one
  • Observations on a tube journey home
  • The story about the colleague and the dog
  • My favourite albums of the 90s [I'll have to finish this list one day!]
  • The night my pee turned blue
  • The night I broke my cock

    And my favourite links:
  • iSketch
  • Powers of ten
  • Dave's last quiz
  • Wetherspoons bar, O2 Centre, 12:30pm:
    "A bottle of the Chilean red, please."
    "How many glasses would you like with that?"
    "Just the one."

    This may go some way to explaining the surreal phone conversations my boss has been having with suppliers this afternoon.
    Tomorrow is La Tomatina in Buñol near Valencia. More than 10,000 semi-naked people are expected to crowd into the town square to throw tomatoes at each other - over 100,000 kilograms of tomatoes, in fact. It all looks very messy but great fun. And I wouldn't object if these guys wanted to pelt me in the face.

    There's a live webcam, too, so tune in tomorrow from 10:00am GMT.
    Tonight's Retro Bar pop quiz is a Big Money Quiz. You see, the money doesn't get won every week - the winning team gets to pick one of five cards, only one of which is the money. If the money doesn't get picked, the cash prize jackpots every week. Once it goes over one-hundred quid, the card system is dropped, and the money has to be won.

    That's the situation this week - the winning team should come away with about one-hundred-and-twenty pounds. Will we be that winning team? Why not come along in your best cheerleader's outfit and support us? Or, better still: we're at least one member short this week and thus have a few holes in our knowledge base. So if you know much about one or more of the following genres, why not try out for the team?
  • Soul
  • R+B
  • Current chart pop
  • Dance music
  • Er, anything apart from the 80s really!
  • Photoshop tennis. Love all.
    "Woolloomooloo"?? That can't be right, can it? It can. That's eight O's. Is this a record? Can anyone find a word with more than eight repeated letters in it? Probably something in Finnish, I'd imagine.

    Monday, August 20, 2001

    Are you a blogger? Do you live in Kilburn, West Hampstead or Willesden? Join me, Fraser, Marcia and Meg on Wednesday night for the first KilburnBloggersMeet.
    He's going to kill me for this. Marcus is Swedish, and - like most Scandiwegians - speaks very nearly perfect English. Very nearly. Just occasionally he'll come out with something that will have me in gales of laughter. Very often, though, the word he comes up with is actually better than the correct English word:
  • "He died on a river in Sweden, in a canoodle accident."
  • "I like it when you stroke my back like that, but I am very kittlish."
  • "She's not really fat, just volumptuous."
  • I've been invited to a party tomorrow night, but I can't be asked."
  • After a TV ad for the RSPCA: "What is Respka?"
  • I left work early on Friday evening and took a leisurely stroll into town via Primrose Hill and Regents Park. Had a couple of drinks with Jonathan at Barcode and then went round to visit the nubile Marcus. We had decided to have a quiet detoxing night in, but that was scuppered by a bottle of very good red wine followed by making serious inroads into a 15-year-old single malt Islay.

    I had a hectic Saturday, making full use of my Travelcard: I met Richard in the bar at Waterstones Piccadilly and we had lunch at homo-friendly veggie restaurant Mildreds. After a quick stop at Bar Italia to exchange the coffee beans I'd bought the day before for ground coffee, I went to the music bookstore on Denmark Street Helter Skelter to buy Darren a birthday present from me, Ian and Jonathan. I found the perfect book: Soulful Divas. Quick tube ride home to shower, shave and change, and then I zoomed all the way down to Tulse Hill for a party to welcome Richard [not that Richard. Keep up!] back from Spain. And a jolly nice party it was, too - low-key, chatty, friendly, with everyone we've ever known in one house. Ian lost his shirt; quite literally. At about 8:30, me, Jonce and Ian took a bus, a tube and a tube to Embankment to meet up with Darren at the Retro Bar. We presented him with his present. Marcus arrived [hurrah!] and we all took the tube back down to Brixton for the excellent club night Hope. Marcus and I left there at, er, four, we think.

    On Sunday the two of us went to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern [for a change]. The DE Experience was dreadfully unfocused and rambling, but she did come up with a line that keeps making me chuckle:

    "That Ann Widdecombe is such a bitch. She had my car towed......... (It's a little toad I keep in the car.)"

    Marcus and I had our first lovers' tiff [aw, sweet!] and had fun patching it up last night over a healthy dinner of seven different flavours of crisps, plus chocolate biscuits and jelly babies. No wonder I feel like hell this morning!

    Friday, August 17, 2001

    I mentioned a wine society earlier. There's something I haven't been telling you: yes, I am a bit of a closet Jilly Goulden.

    Back in South Africa, I studied wine for a couple of years. I joined Wits University WineSoc as a bit of a joke - for the free booze - but I became fascinated with the subject. After the basic course, I took the Certificate course, then Diploma 1 (graduating summa cum laude!) and was half way through Dip 2 when I left the country. The next step would have been a Master of Wine, which would have been my gateway to a fantastic job - my ideal job would be the person who travels the world, selecting the wines for supermarket chains. Instead, I browse supermarket shelves selecting wines.

    I also discovered I had - for want of a better word - a good nose.

    In 1993, I entered the Zonnebloem National Winetaster Of The Year contest. The initial round was open to the general public in ten cities around the country. We were given eight wines, and had to identify the cultivar and the year. The top twenty entrants in each city made the next round, which took the form of a posh do at a five-star hotel. This time I was one of the top two Johannesburg entrants, and my boyfriend and I were flown down to Cape Town for a weekend in a top hotel and the grand final.

    The winetasting final was nerve-wracking. We were given ten wines, and again had to identify the cultivar and year. This was made slightly more difficult by the fact that one of the finalists, a woman named Lorna, was wearing huge amounts of an overpowering perfume - a cunning strategy as you shall see.

    After the tasting, we all had to wait outside while they marked our papers. Then: "Would Carina, Bill and David please come back in?" The three of us had to taste another three wines, and then had to wait outside again. "Would just Carina and David please come back in?" The two of us had to go through the whole process for a third time.

    At lunch, the other finalists decided it was a foregone conclusion that I had won. People were congratulating me and although I wouldn't allow myself to believe it, secretly I was already planning how I would enjoy the prize. The big awards ceremony was held in the banqueting hall that night. I was extremely nervous, as everyone kept secretly nodding at me and surreptitiously raising their glasses in congratulation.

    The results were announced: "In fourth place, David."

    Yes, the taste-off had been for fourth place. The winner was Lorna, the woman with the over-powering perfume. She won a six-week holiday in Brazil and Peru with ten-thousand rand spending money. I won a couple of cases of wine.

    That weekend, my name was on page three of the Sunday Times. Almost. The article ended: "And in fourth place was Johannesburg graphic designer, David Dim."
    Just realised that the Kirsty song is even more appropriate for Minkered Dave, who has indeed moved 12,000 miles to Sydney Bay. He's in Australia, so far out of reach. Unfortunately, he's finding it all a bit much - he's left his job and is taking some time off to go up the coast. Yes folks, he's on the beach!
    Kirsty MacColl wrote a song about me. Admittedly, at the time she didn't know it was about me, but it was, it really was.

    You see, as I've said before, I grew up in South Africa. I'd never felt I belonged there, and knew that one day I'd have to come back to England, to see if this was home. I didn't have many friends there, just the Wine Society people. Leaving was something I felt I had to do. I wasn't at peace with myself, I somehow always felt sad. I was stuck in a rut, I had to do something new.

    I made up my mind to move very, very quickly. I broke up with my boyfriend, booked a flight and was gone. I arrived in the glorious summer of 1995 - sunshine everywhere, new people, a new frame of mind, a new more confident, sexual, me. I was going to start afresh, become someone else. I sent delirious postcards back to my ex and the Wine Society folk: "It's brilliant here!"

    But I knew there was something a little desperate about my need for change, my need to be someone else. I was soon quite literally stuck in a rut. I knew, at the back of my mind, that I was heading for a fall.

    And then one day I bought Galore by Kirsty MacColl. Track four stopped me dead in my tracks:

    He's On The Beach (MacColl, Povey)
    He was just a friend of mine
    I'd run into from time to time
    Long before he moved away
    We used to share a taste for wine
    Still I never knew that he was sad back then
    He said the time had come for him to take a holiday

    And he says it's brilliant there
    There's something in the air
    And sunshine everywhere
    He's on the beach
    I know he's changed somehow
    He sends those postcards now
    I'm not sure where he is
    But he's out of reach

    When he called me up one day
    And said that he was going away
    I thought he meant a week in France
    And not twelve thousand miles to Sydney Bay
    Still he had to take his chances
    He said the time had come for him to make a move away

    And he says it's brilliant there
    There's something in the air
    And sunshine everywhere
    He's on the beach
    I know he's changed somehow
    He writes those postcards now
    He's on his own again
    And he's out of reach
    (my baby gets it on the beach)

    And I don't blame him
    Leaving was the best thing he could do
    He longed for changes
    I just hope he's happy
    When he does the things he thinks he has to do
    And he tries, and he tries
    Yes he tries but he's a little bit hard on himself
    Somehow he's trying to be someone else

    And he says, he says, he says it's brilliant there
    There's something in the air
    And sunshine everywhere
    He's on the beach
    I know he's changed somehow
    It's in his postcards now
    He's on his own again
    So far out of reach
    And he says it's brilliant there.
    It's Friday, which means it's time for another online personality quiz. Which rock diva were you in a previous life?

    I was Courtney Love:
    You're honest, opinionated and know exactly what you want out of life and how to get it! You are an expert at reinventing yourself, and can go from grunge girl to total glamour depending on your mood. While music is your true calling, you love to experiment in other areas.. and chances are you'll most likely be a success!
    Congratulations, Patrick!
    David is gay, lives in London, goes to the RVT every Sunday, has a blog, went to Brighton Pride.
    That's this David, not this David.
    A night out with Ian is always good for memorable lines:

    "Every time I hear his name, I feel a line go up, like he's going to come over and gently rest his breasts on my head, y'know?"
    "Yes. Um... what?"

    "No, we haven't done that in ages. He's had a bad tummy. But he is feeling better."
    "So, a gala reopening soon?"

    I made my wobbly way to Piccadilly Circus. "Five for 30 quid" screamed the signs at Virgin Megastore. "Out on the wily," wailed Kate Bush, so I snapped up Hounds Of Love and The Kick Inside, along with the first Lamb album and the Kruder and Dorfmeister sessions. "But that's only four," I pondered, "I need a fifth. There's nothing else I want. But you have to get five. It says so." I eventually settled, reluctantly, on Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express.

    The annoying thing is that, apart from the K+D Sessions, I already own all these albums on vinyl or cassette. Why couldn't I be brave and splash out on something different? Some R+B? Some, eek, hip-hop? But, no, I plumped for my usual mix of downbeat electronica and 80s oddities. I got home and lit a whole flotilla of the tiny little candles I'd bought at Habitat earlier that week (two-fifty for a bag of fifty) and wailed along to Kate. The woman's a nutter:

    "Wake up!"
    "A good morning, ma'am. Your early morning call."
    "You must wake up!"
    "[titter] Wake up! [titter]"
    "Wake up, man!"
    "Wake up, child! Pay attention!"
    "Come on, wake up!"
    "Wake up, love!"
    "We should make the night, but see your little light's alive!"
    "Stop that lyin' and a-sleepin' in bed - get up!"
    "Ma needs a shower. Get out of bed!"
    "Little light..."
    "Can you not see that little light up there?"
    "Over here!"
    "You still in bed?"
    "Wake up, sleepy-head!"
    "We are of the going water and the gone. We are of water in the holy land of water"
    "Don't you know you've kept him waiting?"
    "Look who's here to see you!"

    "Listen to me, listen to me, baby. Listen, baby, help me, baby! Help me, help me! Listen to me, talk to me!"
    "You won't burn."
    "Red, red roses."
    "You won't bleed."
    "Pinks and posies."
    "Confess to me, girl."
    "Red, red roses,"
    "Go down!"

    "Spiritus sanctus in nomine..."

    "Poor little thing,"
    "Red, red roses,"
    "The blackbird!"
    "Pinks and posies."
    "Wings in the water,"
    "Red, red roses, Go down,"
    "Go down."
    "Pinks and posies."

    "Deus et dei domino..."

    "What is it, child?"
    "Bless me, father, bless me, father, for I have sinned."
    "Red, red roses!"
    "Help me, listen to me!"
    "Red, red rose!"
    "I question your innocence!"
    "Help this blackbird!"
    "She's a witch!"
    "There's a stone around my leg."
    "Uh! Damn you, woman!"
    "Help this blackbird!
    There's a stone around my leg."
    "What say you, good people?"
    "Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!"
    "Help this blackbird!"
    "I am responsible for your actions."
    "Not guilty!"
    "Help this blackbird!"
    "Wake the witch!"
    "Get out of the waves! Get out of the water!"

    Jesus Christ woman, let me sleep and dream of sheep.

    Thursday, August 16, 2001

    Congratulations, Simon!
    Fun interactive animation - like an animated advent calendar, where each item hides a strange event.
    Michael Young's web site contains a picture called davidsim.jpg. See?
    But not this Michael Young, nor this David.
    I do like Google, and I'm forever finding new features.
  • For instance: want to search within a blog, but it doesn't have an internal search engine? Use Google, telling it to limit the search to just that site. Let's say you want to find out how many times Ian has used the word 'drunk', just type: drunk [n-n-n-nineteen, FYI]
  • Want to see current search trends - what's coming into favour, what's falling out? Use Google zeitgeist.
  • Want to find out who links to you? Type
  • Want to see when Google last spidered your page? Click on the cached hyperlink on your search results to see a snapshot of what the page looked like when Google last looked at it.
  • Want to find a picture? Try Google's image search facility. It's virtually useless, I'm afraid, but the results are unpredictable and fun.
  • All hail the new domestic goddess!
    Nice quiet evening in last night, just me and Marcus. I cooked a successful dinner: marinated some tuna steaks in olive oil, ginger and lime juice, then seared them briefly. Served the tuna with garlic mashed potatoes and a salad of baby spinach, watercress, rocket, red peppers and avocado. Oh, and fresh coriander. With the remaining marinade, I made both a dressing for the salad and a deglaze for the pan, producing a lovely concentrated lime sauce. All my own recipe, too. Pukka tucker.

    After dinner, we finished the wine and struggled to stay awake through the video I'd rented. I had been quite looking forward to watching Meet The Parents as it had got pretty good reviews when it came out. How?

    Wednesday, August 15, 2001

    Welcome to breathtaking Tokyo Water Park, where you can wash away the pressure and stress of the overcrowded city.
    I wonder how many people have taken out this film by mistake? [It could be worse - they have got this one! PURRR...]
    Thank you, Britta, for alerting me to the news that the Marc Almond/System F video, Soul On Soul is available online. As is the video to Marc's last single, Glorious, which sees him covered in sequins, like a cross between Klaus Nomi and Jason from Friday the Thirteenth.
    I've had this song running round and round my brain ever since last night's Retro Bar pop quiz.

    In blog news, Ian has redesigned. Blogadoon looks lovely, with not a table tag in sight, but with all the great content you've come to expect [no bloody permalinks yet, grrr]. Meanwhile, here are a couple of good blogs I've recently stumbled across: Vicious Thinks and mors.ante.servitium.
    Everything you think you know about the environmental issues facing the globe is wrong. Or so says Bjorn Lomborg in Yes, it looks bad, but... in today's Guardian. Air quality is actually improving, he says. Our rivers are less polluted. The daily food intake in developing countries has increased. Population growth is slowing.

    There's a live webchat with the man this afternoon, and you can post questions here.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2001

    Urban archaeology
    I've always been fascinated by relics of a city's recent history - New York's water towers, Johannesburg's mine dumps, London's disused tube stations. The other day, while wandering around London, I thought it would be cool to compile a page of the old, faded advertising signs for long-forgotten products found on the sides of many old buildings. Someone beat me to it. I might still do it, anyway. Remniscent of Kottke's lovely Minneapolis sign project.

    Thanks to Groc for pointing me in the direction of Lilek's similar ghost ads section. I still think we need a UK one.
    Marcus, read this!
    Oh, I am so pleased I've found this: I have had this song on my mind ever since my trip to New York. Called 27, it's by Swedish artist Tobias Bernstrup. The song and its accompanying video are part of the brilliant Monitor: Volume 1 exhibition at the Gagosian gallery in Chelsea. I watched it several times, transfixed.

    27 is the supreme eighties tribute. Like Stephin Merritt fronting the Pet Shop Boys, it is a knowing pastiche yet innocent, passioned, impassive, dispassionate, passé, passive-agressive. "27, from a small town looking good, looking for some loving tonight. Come abuse me, I want one, maybe more boys, to take me out really hard. You can spoil me, you can buy me sexy clothes, and I will let you do anything." It is everything that made the eighties so bad, so brilliant: cheap synths, robotic voice, mangled English, erotic imagery, lipgloss and blusher.

    To get the full experience, you really need the accompanying video - a computer-generated Resident Evil-style club scene. The artificial nature of the clubbing scene, all wobbly pixels and unreal characters, feels somehow correct and highly evocative of the era. I can't really explain why the song and video affected me so deeply. Perhaps it's because I was that smalltown boy looking for loving. Or perhaps it's because I'm seeing a guy from a small Swedish town. Or perhaps it's simply that I © the 80s. Either way, take a listen to the song, and if you live in New York, go see.
    Thanks to Tom, I have just ordered Yonderboi's Shallow and Profound, Another Late Night, compiled by Fila Brasilia, and Broadway Project's Compassion. Anyone else want to recommend something - I hate to use the word - chilled?

    Monday, August 13, 2001

    a moment on the lips...
    Random scenes from Brighton Pride:
  • Mobile phone conversation with Ian at London Bridge: "OK, I'm runnning up the approach to the platform now, the train's about to leave, OK, I'm on the platform, oh shit, I've dropped my sunglasses on the track!"
  • A man opposite me on the train wearing very, very short shorts, and preparing for Pride by writing his name and number on many little bits of paper.
  • The parade, with dance floats and camp cowboys dressed in rainbow-coloured sequined suits and stetsons.
  • The sign in the window of a computer store en route: "Get 10% off customs PCs if you are gay!"
  • My new red Merrell trainers: "Are you in training for Edmonton?" "It's true what they say about people with big feet - they need big shoes."
  • "Your what? Boyfriend? You?"
  • The fairground ride with its extreme centrifugal and g-forces. Andy: "The bloodvessels in my head are going to burst!" Guy: "I'm gonna be sick, I'm gonna be sick, I'm gonna be sick!"
  • "How often do you come down to Brighton? You know everybody!" That's because everyone there was a Londoner. It was RVT-on-Sea.
  • Huge queues outside the portaloos meaning everyone had to go pee in the wooded hillside.
  • Andy: "Shit! I've just peed on a lesbian!"
  • Venturing further up the wooded hillside, away from the music, the noise, and the crowds; and surreally emerging onto a cricket pitch, mid-match - genteel West Sussex senior citizens in white flannels blissfully unaware of the hedonistic madness below.
  • Watching a very drunk friend fall over, stand up, and fall over again. And loving it.
  • The mass exodus back to town, aka the last chance saloon stagger. "You're nice. What's your name? Do you live in Brighton?"
  • "Sorry, your friend is too drunk - the bouncers won't let him in."
  • Fireworks over the sea.
  • The long train ride back to London enlivened by wonderfully drunk and drug-addled people. What a day!
  • Friday, August 10, 2001

    When I saw the link about the nine-year-old bodybuilder on Nico's page, I assumed it was a hoax. But, no. There are loads of sites about this freaksh boy. From the country that brought you Jon-Benet Ramsey, take a look at
    this, this, and this.
    Tomorrow: Brighton Pride, featuring - on the main stage - Kate Bush, Alison Moyet, Kylie Minogue and Dusty Springfield. Um, that'll be the Stars In Their Eyes versions, of course. Ah well, it is free, after all, and they'll probably be a damn sight more entertaining that this year's Mardi Gras line up.

    Thursday, August 09, 2001

    The Brent Council search engine gives you the option of "detailed results" or "terse results". Clearly not civil servants, then!

    I still couldn't find what I was looking for, though. Every morning, on my way to work, I pass the billboard for Brent Council's latest advertising campaign aimed at benefit dodgers, entitled "Are You Getting Enough?" The poster shows four young people representative of our rainbow nation, and I swear one of them is Jamie Oliver. I think someone in Brent Council's art department is having a laugh, fat tongue style. Perhaps Fraser, or anyone else in the area who has a digital camera, can post the evidence so you can judge for yourself.
    The weather's been a bit Crowded House lately, hasn't it?
    Most mornings, I go down to the canteen and order a bacon roll. Our canteen has two "dinner ladies" with very different ideas of portion control. They are like Jack Spratt and his wife; or in this case, sister. If you ask one of them for a bacon roll, you get a huge, fat thing stuffed with half a pig. Ask the other, however, and you get two measly pallid rashers with so much brown sauce you'll have heartburn all day. An obvious solution would be to say "oh, hang on, I haven't made my mind up yet" if the scrimping one serves you, but here's the dilemma: they are identical twins.
    Attention old New Romantics: auditions are being held tomorrow for a new musical written by Boy George. They are looking for Boy Georges, Marilyns, Steve Stranges and Leigh Boweries. Presumably they need young kids who can look like these scene faces in their prime. Perhaps I could carry off a Thin White Duke impression? The auditions are tomorrow at the Notre Dame Hall, off Leicester Square, London. Let's hope the musical is better than the Pet Shop Boys' effort.

    Wednesday, August 08, 2001

    I have found out what those new round devices on top of the Tube turnstiles are: they are smartcard scanners. One day, you'll have a card containing a chip, which you wil be able to recharge at a machine in the station, and which you will simply wave over the scanner to enter. The correct fare will be deducted from your balance.

    And when will this card be introduced? Neither of the LU officials I asked was able to answer that. "They've been talking about it for 18 months," said one. "It'll probably take years," said another.
    Last night was our weekly Retro Bar pop quiz. I really enjoyed it, perhaps because I'd been to Twosdays at Barcode first, but not everyone was equally impressed. Ian: "I didn't think much of that; there was no theme, no structure." Me: "You mean apart from the fact it was all about the eighties, and started at question twenty, working its way up to number one, each number representing the highest number the song reached in the UK charts?" "Um, yeah, apart from that!"

    We had a full strength team: me, Jonathan, Darren and Shaun; and being an eighties quiz, we were quietly confident [well, not that quiet actually, I had the extra shouty bits this week]. But we got off to a bad start - after the first eight questions, we had scored just four-and-a-half points. I'm pleased to say that we didn't drop any further points, though, finishing on sixteen-and-a-half out of twenty. The winners got eighteen.

    The most challenging question was number 17: they played Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry, The Telephone Always Rings and I Dream To Sleep and we had to add them up, coming up with a numerical answer. Any guesses?
    Overheard in the office at lunch:

    "I did a wine-tasting course when I worked in the pub."
    "Did you spit or swallow?"


    "Darren's got nice juicy plums downstairs."
    Aaah! Sweet - the life of a pygmy shrew.
    Erk! On my way to work this morning, I suddenly realised what one of my favourite songs is about. The seemingly innocuous Chocolate Wings by Bent - from the excellent Programmed To Love album - is clearly about a guy using emotional blackmail to try to persuade his lover to take it up the arse. Check out these lyrics, and tell me I'm wrong:

    I see you in the sky, a million miles away.
    I'd love to fly right up to you and see your beautiful star close up.
    A star like yours is one in a million,
    One of those very special things,
    But if I am going to get to see this beautiful thing so close,
    I'll need my chocolate wings.

    I need my chocolate wings to fly up to your star,
    Give me my chocolate wings, or our love won't go too far.

    But you won't give me this thing that I need,
    Yet I'd do anything for you.
    I've waited so long for this moment to come,
    I think it's time. Don't you?

    So if you don't let me see your guiding light,
    That star that shines so bright,
    I guess somebody else just might,
    And I guess my darling, this is good night.

    I need my chocolate wings to fly up to your star,
    Give me my chocolate wings, or our love won't go too far.
    Of course, everybody knows about Randy Constan, the 47-year-old, 6-foot, divorced computer programmer with the Staten Island accent and the deep voice who just happens to have a Peter Pan fixation. He was this year's Mahir, a huge web celebrity, winning two Webby awards.

    So where is he now? Seeking potential Tinkerbells, it seems: "I'm looking for a woman who is unencumbered by gender boundaries, who is both passive and aggressive. Someone with a playful approach to life." He's had hundreds of responses, but no woman has quite suited him yet. Could he really be looking for a man? "He'd have to be cuter than me," he says. "And there aren't any."

    Catch up with the latest from Never Never Land.
    August is clearly bench month in the UK:
  • The world's first internet-enabled park bench is unveiled in Bury St Edmonds.
  • Twelve benches in Barrow-in-Furness are equipped with headphone sockets, each relating one chapter of a story.
  • A bench in Richmond Park is dedicated to Ian Dury, and plays eight of his songs.
  • This Sunday, a rather less high-tech bench in Soho Square will be dedicated to Kirsty MacColl.
  • Jonathan, I demand a public retraction!
    See, as I said, Status Quo's In The Army Now was a hit in South Africa for Bolland and Bolland way back in 1982.
    And, see, Erasure's Oh L'Amour was a huge number two smash in South Africa way before the Dollar cover.
    A full quiz write-up will follow once I've had a couple of cups of coffee. Oh, hang on, I see Jonathan has other things on his mind.

    Tuesday, August 07, 2001

    There you are with your Palm Pilot on the Bakerloo Line, and your shaved head and your combat trousers, and there I am with my New Puritans book and my - oh, uh, yeah - boyfriend. Damn!
    Madonna's Sex book online. [Yes, I have been perusing the Popbitch board all afternoon.]
    I hate Star Wars and its ilk, so it gives me great delight to present you with this spoiler: The entire script of the next film.
    Worldpop, the home of the official UK singles and albums charts, have teamed up with Jeremy Joseph to create a dedicated Worldpop G-A-Y site.
    Tangents is always worth a visit for its intelligent music reviews and wonderful art. Take a look at Simon Storey's photos of New York, especially this one of [I think] the Flatiron Building, and Alistair Fitchett's pics of various grid shapes found in Exeter [much lovelier than it sounds].
    Londoners: Can somebody please put me out of my misery? What are those new round yellow-and-black things on top of the turnstiles at tube stations? London Underground's official site makes no mention of them, and the stations offer no explanation. Very sinister...

    Monday, August 06, 2001

    "Link Ian simply because he's super," says Living Proof. And so say all of us.

    OK, I know the TransAtlanticGayBlogMeet was weeks ago, but some of us still rely on good old film processing. A reminder of an excellent night. From left to right: Michael, Charlie, David, Michael, RJ, Dan, Jonathan, Bryan, Jeff, Michael, Julian.
    Bullrumpa says:
    "Well, I suppose this makes us boyfriends now?"
    "Yeah, I guess so."
    "Oh, okay."

    And with that offhanded exchange on Saturday night, I realised that, yes, I appear, somehow, to have got myself a boyfriend.

    "Do you remember what you said last night?"
    "What, the boyfriend thing?"
    "Do you still mean it?"
    "Yeah, I guess."
    "Oh, okay then, good."

    How fucking romantic!
    I like this line in the latest disco damaged mailing:
    Mini-cab fares drop by £5 for every 50 metres you walk away from the club.
    A good theory, and one borne out by my evidence: the last time I went to the Fridge, the touts directly outside the venue quoted a fare of £25 for a ride home. I walked 100 metres down the road to the bus stop, where a very sweet elderly cab driver charged me a mere £12 for the trip from Brixton to West Hampstead. And proceeded to tell me, in graphic detail, about the system of calisthenics for the elderly that he had devised. TMI, mate, TMFI.
    Should anybody want to buy me, I am worth $1,703,850.00. How much are you worth? I came across this link via comatose. This list of pangrams, too.

    Friday, August 03, 2001

    Via Andrea - whose site you really should visit every day - turd greeting cards.
    Amazingly cool typographical zoo. And walking man made from ascii. Both nicked from tsluts. Check out their 'Kill your friends' game, too. Heck, just go over there and follow all their links. They're much better than mine.
    Photographer takes pics of people on drugs and documents the effects:
  • Speed: talking really fast for a long time about nothing.
  • Cocaine: tense and not fun to be around
  • Ketamine: this guy puked ferociously
  • Heroin: seemed incredibly bored, uncreative, unemotional and numb
    Where can I get me some mescalin??
  • Hey, BJ, it wasn't a secret TransAtlanticBlogMeet. You shoulda come along and introduced yourself. They're having another one this weekend, you know. Go. They don't bite.
    Desperately seeking acorn. Has anyone got a high-res pic of an acorn they can send me? That's 'acorn' as in the seed of an oak tree, not the computer. [An unusual request, I know, but you can never find one when you really need one.]
    Thanks, Jeff, for this: Am I relationship ready?

    Cool as a Cucumber
    You're not so sure about this whole commitment thing, are you? Chances are you're sowing some wild oats and aren't too concerned about the harvest. That's OK for now -- just don't hold out for perfection. You don't seem meant to live your life alone, so make sure you're ready to let someone in when the right one comes along.
    After four hours spent with Ian last night recounting our American adventures, we had only got to Thursday. And I didn't even tell him that during Tuesday's blogmeet, I stood at the bar next to Stephin Merritt and Dudley Klute. Jonathan urged me to say something to Stephin, but he and Dudley were deeply engrossed in writing something - a new song, perhaps? Maybe a song influenced by that evening's gathering? That would explained their furrowed brows - after all, what rhymes with 'blogmeet'?

    Thursday, August 02, 2001

    An empty bench in Soho Square
    If you'd have come you'd have found me there
    But you never did, cos you don't care
    At 11am on Sunday the 12th of August, a bench in Soho Square will be dedicated to the late Kirsty MacColl. There will be a service with speeches, music and the presentation of a cheque for the Music For Cuba Fund. Funds were collected by Kirsty's fans around the world, and the dedication was agreed to by Westminster Council.
    One day, you'll be waiting there,
    No empty bench in Soho Square
    And we'll dance around like we don't care
    Why did no-one tell me that there are two Baroness Youngs? There is Baroness Young of Farnworth, the much-hated homophobe, and then there's Baroness Young of Old Scone, the new chief exec of the Environment Agency, who, incidentally, supports an equal age of consent. The latter features regularly in our magazine and, until today, I've always made sure her pic is really tiny, as I thought she was the evil Baroness! To make amends, I've just laid-out a page featuring a three-column full-colour pic of her.
    The jet lag has hit me hard. I slept for a couple of hours as soon as I got in from work last night. And I went to bed at eleven. And I overslept this morning, sleeping through four alarms, and finally got up at 11:41. At least I think it's the jet lag. It could just be the fact I didn't exactly get a great deal of sleep in New York.
    Jonathan has loads of pics of our American holiday. I draw your attention to these:
    Me in bondage?
    Drugs harm [see signs in background]
    Gorgeous skateboarder
    How much Abercrombie and Fitch can we need??
    Is this thing on? Take a look at this hilarious video of Jonathan and I singing Top Of The World from the top of the World Trade Centre Center.

    Wednesday, August 01, 2001

    Which is it?
    Red and green should never be seen: 42
    Blue and green should never be seen: 52
    You will have to imagine that this is a Flash animation, because I don't have Flash on my machine, and nor do I know how to use it. But this is the opening credit sequence to Fox Kids' new show, FAO Girls. [Click on each pic for a larger version.]

    The show opens with a shocking pink screen. The theme tune, a cover of "First We Take Manhattan" by the Pizzicato Five, starts up. The title comes spiralling out from the centre, filling the screen: FAO GIRLS. The voiceover - an excitable American girl, says: "The FAO Girls are Go! And here are the FAO Girls:" Splat! Jonathan's face hits the screen. "Tammy!" Splat! My face fills the screen. "Stacey!"

    "Starring Woody Harrelson and Luke Perry. The FAO Girls rule! "

    "Fighting crime and conquering their eternal foes the US GayBloggers, using weapons cunningly disguised as cell phones. The FAO Girls talk!"

    "The FAO Girls take Manhattan! Brought to you by Motorola. Coming soon on Fox Kids!"