Friday, May 31, 2002

Feeling a bit bored this afternoon, I got to wondering: "How old is the average blogger?" I decided to find out, so off I went to The Globe Of Blogs, and I created a graph of the years of birth of the nearly 1,000 bloggers who have supplied their details.

What year do you think the average blogger was born in? Go on, hazard a guess. Then click on the graph below.

What the ----??? Completely work-safe, despite the URL:
I have no real interest in the World Cup, apart from admiring the players' legs. But as we've got a sweepstake at work, I shall be watching the progress of France and - controversially - Sweden with interest. To help me follow their progress, I found this World Cup Excel spreadsheet. Fill in the scores of each match, and it will automatically work out the points and carry the top two teams forward from each group through to the next round, and fill in the quarter- and semi-finals for you.

[Note: I have deleted this now to conserve bandwith. Mail me if you'd like it.]
Eat your heart out Prince Philip. Ronaldo arrives in Japan:
A flurry of excitement this morning as a rumpled man boarded the Jubilee Line. "Is that? It can't be." It was.

It was Ken Livingstone, trying to ignore the curious stares of fellow passengers checking out what he was wearing (beige jacket, grey shirt, beige trousers, brown shoes) and what he was reading (the latter half of a thick paperback novel torn in half - I could only make out the author to be "Pe Ha"). Nobody bothered him, and he didn't look up.

It's pretty cool of Ken to attempt to be anonymous right now, what with all the gossip about him becoming a father.

It's also reassuring to see that the man responsible [in theory] for running London's transport system actually uses it.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

The Beautiful And The Bust
Are you a woman who knows where her money is? A new BBC Choice documentary needs you.

Fast Track
If you think you could do a better job than your boss, the BBC wants to hear from you.

The Investigator Search
Could you be the next Morse or Miss Marple? Try your luck as a TV detective.

BBC Two series East is looking for Asians with strong views on the monarchy.

Shameless Media Whore
Will you do anything to get your fifteen minutes of fame? The BBC has a website telling you how to get on telly.

Courtesy of Sarah

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

I've spoken before of my confusion about where I live: is it Kilburn? Is it Hampstead? Is it Cricklewood? Is it Willesden?

No - it's none of the above. I have discovered that I live in the charmingly-named Fortune Green. Charming, perhaps, but inappropriate - it's not very green, and I've yet to make my fortune.
We didn't feel like going to the pop quiz last night, so we went to the pop quiz instead. Yes, we thought we'd have a complete change of scenery, so instead of hunching around a table in central London, listening to crap pop music and furiously whispering "Strawberry Switchblade", last night found us hunched around a table in Kilburn, listening to crap pop music and furiously whispering, "urgh, it's Phil Collins!"

I live in Kilburn [kinda] so I was happy. It was more of a trek for Jonathan. We joined Fraser and his flatmate Chris for the pop quiz at the Zd Bar - a, ahem, post-industrial space on Kilburn High Road - not quite the cosy packed pub atmosphere we're used to at the Retro Bar. In fact, there were just five teams last night, so it's perhaps not that surprising that we managed to win.

We won twenty quid to share between us, but the team that came second got a case of alcopops. Call us sad lushes [go ahead, everyone else does] but first prize just wasn't as tempting as second. Ian joined us late, after wandering, lost, all the way up and down Kilburn High Road without spotting the bar's huge neon sign. We repaired for a drink in Powers Bar across the road. Jonathan gulped down half his pint, then leapt up and sprinted out to catch the last train. Which he missed.

I don't think I'll be able to tempt them back up here again, so it's back to the familiar surrounds of the Retro Bar next week.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Can anyone explain this to me? Taking a look at my Stats4All statistics, I noticed the top domains visiting my site were as follows:
1. Unknown
2. Commercial (.com)
3. Network (.net)
4. United Kingdom (.uk)
5. Education (.edu)
6. Canada (.ca)
7. Australia (.au)
8. Germany (.de)
9. Turks and Caicos Islands (.tc)

I had never heard of the Turks and Caicos Islands before - it turns out they are a group of tiny Caribbean islands near the Bahamas. Investigating further, I notice that Cable & Wireless seem to have a monopoly on the islands' web access - I wonder if they are routing international traffic via the group?

Just noticed - it's not just me getting huge traffic from the Turks and Caicos Islands - Marcus, Ian and Jonathan are, too. The islands are responsible for nearly three percent of the traffic to Marcus's site [I knew he was popular with Caribbeans...!]

Any ideas, anyone?
Please forgive me while I have a mean-spirited rant about something trivial - people who walk just slightly more slowly than you.

Is there anything more annoying? There they are, cluttering pavements, staircases, tube walkways and escalators, always just half a step ahead. Really slow walkers are fine - you simply overtake them, but passing these semi-slow ones takes great effort. Either you break into a near-run and rudely barge past, or you adopt a shuffling, skipping gait, biding your time till you spot an opening. And they're a wily bunch - they never stick to one line, but wander randomly. As you decide to make a break through the slight gap they've allowed on their left, they suddenly veer towards the left again, trapping you, forcing you into a corner.

But then again, like all big city commuters, I believe I have the right of way. Perhaps there is always someone who walks slightly more quickly than I, cursing my every shuffling footstep.
Fantastic! Toast as art!

Monday, May 27, 2002

1. You want to eject a CD from your CD drive. You:
(a) press the eject button
(b) hold down the icon in the top right-hand corner of your screen, choose 'Finder' from the drop-down menu, then hold down the icon in the top right-hand corner of your screen, choose 'Hide Others', locate the icon for the CD on your desktop, and drag it into the Trash.

2. You are writing an e-mail, and wish to attach ten files to it. You:
(a) click the 'Attach' icon, locate the appropriate directory, then control-click the ten files.
(b) click the 'Attach' icon, locate the appropriate directory, and select one file, then click the 'Attach' icon, locate the appropriate directory, and select one file, then click the 'Attach' icon, locate the appropriate directory, and select one file, then click the 'Attach' icon, locate the appropriate directory, and select one file, then...

3. The application you are working in crashes or hangs. You:
(a) press ctrl-alt-del and choose what you would like to do from a range of handy options.
(b) press ctrl-opt-cmd-esc and choose from just two options, neither of which is useful.

4. Your machine freezes. You:
(a) press ctrl-alt-del to see which programme is causing trouble, then terminate or unfreeze that application.
(b) curse, swear, kick your computer, then switch it off, losing any unsaved work.

If you answered mostly (a), you are using a PC and probably feel inferior, as you have heard that Macs are so much better, so much more user-friendly.

If you answered mostly (b), you are using a Mac and probably feel superior, as you have spread the myth that Macs are so much better, so much more user-friendly. You smug git.
Big Brother 3 hasn't gripped me yet. Oh, but I'm sure it will. On first impressions, Spencer is very cute but will be evicted cus he's too introverted. Alison is great fun, and wouldn't it be cool to have a large black woman winning? Cool, but unlikely perhaps. Jonny is trying far too hard to be liked. Ketchup-phobic Jade needs to go. Now.

But hey, unlike some of our more seasoned commentators, at least I know it wasn't happening in, excuse me, east London.
Damn mouse! Just lost a huge post about my weekend by inadvertently hitting the mysterious fourth button on my mouse which acts as a 'back' button. I always wondered what it did. Ah well...

I had unearthed some marvellous links to Big Brother 3, the Eurovision song contest and Kylie, but I can't be bothered finding them again now. Go arm-wrestle with Posh and Kylie instead, while I sulk.

Friday, May 24, 2002

To Fabric last night for Diesel U-Music. I had avoided Fabric before, thinking it wouldn't be my kind of thing. I was so wrong. What a fantastic venue. The bass speakers are under the floor, so the whole dancefloor acts as a huge woofer. It vibrates and rumbles under your feet, giving them a sensual foot massage. Hey, put a beer bottle on the floor, sit on it, and you'd be very, very happy.

Howie B played a wonderful set of bouncy bleepy music that had us boinging around and grinning as though we were on drugs. Which we weren't, even though several people asked us if we had any. I've never seen such a diverse crowd in a club - indie kids, garage crews, muscle boys, Essex girls, straight and gay, black and white, young and old.

Tim Burgess DJed too, playing long, slow, deep dub, sending long, intense ripples underfoot. I feel the earth move under my feet. Tim danced next to us at one stage, and Janne got talking to one of the guys in his posse. Apparently, Tim had asked him to come back with them because he had "too many girls on his hands". Rock and roll, dude!
From today's Sun:
Talibum Alert

MACHO British Marines told yesterday how they had to take rearguard action to fight off randy gay Afghan men. Troops were shocked when they were targeted by frisky fellas wearing PINK LIPSTICK, NAIL POLISH and PERFUME. The hunky soldiers were hotly pursued by the horny hordes in mountain villages.

Lance Corporal Paul Richards, 20, from Barnsley, South Yorks, said: “It was hell. Every village we went into we got a group of gay men wearing full make-up coming up, stroking our hair and cheeks and making kissing noises. Some of the guys turned tail and fled. It was hideous.”

“We were pretty shocked. The Afghan soldiers with us said a lot of men in this country have the same philosophy as Ancient Greeks: ‘A woman for babies, a man for pleasure’.”

They were told by Afghan soldiers that some villagers had never seen a western man before — and thought the muscle-bound marines were very hunky.

Whisky Company commander Major Phil Joyce said Afghan villagers had also dreamt up a cheeky get-rich-quick scam. He said: “Every time we landed by Chinook near a village, some bloke said his goat was blown off the mountain by the helicopter and demanded 100 dollars compensation. “They also claim that their fruit trees have been destroyed and want 500 dollars a tree.
“I managed to barter the last one down to two Marine pens, a pencil and a rubber.”
Tag, you're it!
[via orbyn]

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Speaking of David Blaine, if you have never seen his interview with Eamonn Holmes on GMTV, it's a must. More fun than standing on a pole.
[Windows Media Player - should work on a Mac, but doesn't work on mine.]
Yahoo! October 1996
Blogger, October 1999
Google, November 1998
IBM, October 1996
Apple, October 1996
NME, November 1996
Amazon, October 1996
Make. It. Stop.
And never give it up, never stop, cus we're something-something for the top tonight. Oh what a life we live, what a life we lead. Chank-chank-chank! And when the night is ooooover.....
Make. It. Stop. II.
No no no no no no. I'll get over you. You drive me crazy, up the wall, you think you're Mister Know-It-All. Aye aye aye aye. Aye aye aye aye. Aye aye aye aye. Aye aye aye aye.
David Blaine. Was that what it was? Bloke says he's going to stand on a pole for 35 hours then jump off it into some cardboard boxes. Bloke then proceeds to stand on a pole for 35 hours then jump off it into some cardboard boxes.

This is the world's greatest magician? The world's premier illusionist? Where is the magic? Where the illusion? If it really was all it seemed, then how dull.

However, if it was revealed that it wasn't actually Blaine up there, but an animatronic dummy combined with some video trickery, that would at least be interesting. But it's still deathly dull - jumping onto some cardboard boxes is hardly a thrilling climax. Now, if he had jumped off and - oh, I don't know - turned into a flock of ravens in mid-air, that would be magical.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

At a departmental meeting last week, our new member of middle management [cuz we really needed a new layer of middle management] explained her drive to reduce the number of e-mails sent. The key point of her e-mail policy was: "don't e-mail people - go and speak to them".

Er, why? Why interrupt whatever they're doing and demand they speak to you now? Surely e-mail allows them to deal with your request when it is convenient for them?

A welcome suggestion was that group e-mails are to be avoided - they clog up the mail server and are usually irrelevant to the majority of the recipients. This is true - I am tired of receiving **All user** e-mails from total strangers saying "I'm leaving the comapny today. Plase jion me for a few bears at the pubb."

Another of her suggestions was that one should not send attachments, but should put them on the intranet and send people a link to it. Sounds like a lot of extra work to me. And obviously to her - after the meeting she sent a group e-mail to everybody in the department with a 1Mb attachment explaining her policy. D-oh!
Have I got hayfever? Or have I got a cold? And how do you tell?

My nose is running - I'm going through a box of tissues a week. Or at least I would be if I had bought any tissues - the paper handtowels from the loo will have to suffice.

My eyes are itchy and scratchy - and if they don't stop it I'm going to knock them out.

Both classic symptoms of hayfever, but I also have a phlegmy cough, so maybe it's a cold? Then again, perhaps I'm coughing because of all the snot running down my windpipe? Mmmm, lovely! Oh, I don't know. I suppose I should get some antihistamines in case. Bloody flowers and trees!
We went to Michael's fabulous party on Saturday night. Guess whose flat he is temporarily living in...

Michael bid "Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome" to his entire circle of friends, who had gathered to live the high life - there was hardly room to shake a pussycats tail. Jonathan mingled, investigating sex, while Marcus and I ran about exploring the apartment like spy kids. Michael was so excited he was almost cumming.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

The rockstar game has been stable for a while, and my popstar - Mickey Moist - is rocketing up the charts and is currently ranked a stratospheric 1353 on the charts.

It took me a while to realise that the key to rockstar game is practise, practise, practise. It's quite self-evident really - there's no point releasing singles and albums if you are crap.

The frustrating part comes when you have to think up names for your albums and songs. I get my inspiration either from how I'm feeling [hence the titles "Overslept"; "Pulling A Sickie"; "Leave Me Alone"; and "Annoying Bald Git"] or by thinking up dreadful puns on real song titles ["Healthier, Happier, Hornier"; "Peas Please Me"; "My Achey Breaky Knees"; "Can't Get You Off Of My Head"; and "Warm Flannelette"].

My latest album, "May Day" [I think you can guess when I thought that one up] has sold over 66 million copies; far far more than my previous two: "Very Disco Actually" and "Picking My Teeth With A Ten Pound Note".

Worryingly, Iain is rapidly catching up to me. Interestingly, his current single includes a track called "Foursome" - I wonder what inspired that? Why not take us both on? Sign up for the rockstar game now.
The South African Rand is, well, ickle. In a fit of nostalgia, I just bought four CDs from online South African CD store One World.

I bought:
  • Peach - On Loan For Evolution
    It was 1981. South Africa discovered Noo Wave. An almost-all-girl group, Peach were sexy and punky and spikey and fresh. OK, they were lame copyists, but I was young - I knew no better.
  • Various Artists - Rocking Against The System
    Get that title, man. More 80s bands who thought they were oh-so alternative. Via Afrika and e'Void stole inspiration from township jive and added synths and dance rhythms. And very silly costumes.
  • Various Artists - Hits Of South Africa
    Township pop, with the truly great Mahlatini and the Mahotella Queens and the African Jazz Pioneers bumping the average age of the artists on this compilation way up.
  • Various Artists - Hits Of South Africa 3
    More of the same, but a couple of tracks make the crossover into the rock market. Steve Kekana and PJ Powers duet on "Feel So Strong" - imagaine Janis Joplin and a castrated Stevie Wonder. Mango Groove do their enthusiastic, poppy take on big band African jazz. "Paradise Road" by Joy is a slushy inspirational ballad that was number one for ever in the late seventies.

    And all this shopping cost me about thirty quid, one-third of which was for postage. I shall soon be wallowing in nostalgia and listening to the sounds of Afrikaaa. Which will come as a pleasant antidote to this Saturday's Eurofest.
  • Dancing In The Street
    If you were watching V Graham Norton last night, you may have caught the input of a great diva from the sixties. While you may have expected her to be past her prime now, she's still witty, full of spunk and very very raunchy. She has a huge heart and a great deal of soul, and is a marvellous mover.

    Yes, Jonathan got a mention.

    Monday, May 20, 2002

    From yesterday's Observer:
    It begins with a close-up of a guinea pig lying spread-eagled on the floor, each of its tiny legs fastened in place by sticky tape. The camera slowly pulls back to show that a woman, seen only from the knees down, is pacing around the stricken creature in bright red stilettos. Her voice is soft and low: 'You are my victim. Are you frightened, little man? You know that your destiny is under my heels...'

    Squeals of pain ring out as the sharp point of one stiletto is brought down on each leg in turn, shattering the bones. Next, the creature's back is crushed under a toe, cigarettes are stubbed out on its fur and hip and shoulder bones are systematically trampled and broken until, finally, the woman kills it by driving her heel through its skull. The torture has lasted almost 30 minutes.
    This was me this morning. But without the lipstick.

    Speaking of Pro Plus, their dancing Buddy game looks quite fun. It's like Parappa The Rapper or those arcade games where you have to match the dance moves. I'm too tired to keep up right now, though.
    It's been a while since I've revealed my trainspotting tendencies, so it's about time I did another 'fascinating tube facts' thing:

    Marcus was wondering what the woman who does the announcements on the tube looks like. Well, there are several announcers. Tube drivers have nicknamed the woman with the posh voice 'Sonia' because "she gets on yer nerves". However, Mike may be well-placed to recognise her voice, as she is BBC Nottingham radio presenter Janet Mayo.

    The voice on the Northern line is known as Celia, which supposedly stands for "Creates Excellent Line Information Ambience".

    The voice of the Bakerloo and Victoria lines belongs to writer Emma Clarke.

    The shouty bloke who orders you to "mind the gap" is named Peter Lodge, and although I can't find out anything about him, here he is in all his barking glory.

    Friday, May 17, 2002

    I know much about art, but I don't know what I like.

    Laugh? I nearly did.
    Advice for the new girl. It's your first day. I know you were probably nervous about going to pub with your new colleagues at lunch, but are you sure it was wise to accept every offer of a drink? Are you sure it was wise to drain each one so quickly? Are you sure saying "and make it a large one" each time was a good idea? Are you sure it was politic to tell us why you really left your last job? And that you lied to get this one? And was that braying, snorting belly-laugh really necessary? You have heard the term "probation period", no?
    I don't know why I bother:

    Thursday, May 16, 2002

    If you have a blog, and if you use BlogBack, you really should consider BlogBack Plus. There's a bit of enhanced functionality - you can edit and delete comments, and view and ban IP addresses, plus there's a handy admin page showing all your comment threads and the number of posts in them.

    But the main reason you should upgrade is because you'll be giving the developer a bit of money, and helping to keep the system afloat. He's not asking for much - a minimum donation of $5. Go on, give back to BlogBack.
    If I had my way on this glorious day, I'd be out there on your behalf, hitting the hard streets of London, bringing you reports from pavement cafes, uploading photographs of verdant Royal parks in the sun, of topless lads exposing their torsos to the rays for the first time this year. All this for your benefit, if I had my way.

    But I don't, so instead, you will have to settle for the view from where I'm sitting.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2002

    I had been warned. I had read the reviews of the new Moby album. They all said "don't bother with it - it's just like the last one". But did I listen? Nooo....

    You see, I liked Play. A lot. Oh, I know it was overplayed and overexposed, but it once sounded like a true original, before every track conjured up mental images of Nissan, Renault, Rover and Volkswagen. And Maxwell House, Galaxy, Thorntons, Adidas, Rolling Rock, Victoria's Secrets and Learn Direct. And Sky football and Match Of The Day... All these commercials meant Play was somehow not an album anymore, but a collection of advertising theme tunes.

    I figured I wouldn't mind that 18 sounded like Play. If it ain't broke, etc. I believed I would welcome another similarly-themed album. I was looking forward to new songs from the man who wrote "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad". But I hadn't realised just how closely this one stuck to its predecessor's template. The two albums are virtually identical. If you own one, you really don't need the other.

    The same poignant piano tinklings. The same melancholy synth washes. Exactly the same. All of the tunes are utterly predictable - you know exactly where they are going to go, what lies around the next key change. In fact, listening to this brand new album, you can't help but conjure up mental images of Nissan, etc.

    Don't bother with the new Moby album. After all, he didn't.

    By the way, you do know that Moby has a blog, don't you?
    I receive some pretty odd email. Not just the normal spam [if that can ever be described as 'normal'] but personal e-mail from people who have stumbled across the blog. Some of them I understand - I get about two a week from people giving me their opinions on the Timberlake porn pic, and I'm starting to get demands for the Spiderman actor's dick.

    Some, however, are just.... strange. Here are four recent e-mails in their entirety. I have merely deleted the addresses to protect their blushes.


    FROM: Nichole
    SUBJECT: (No subject)
    you corny mothafucker

    FROM: Katlyn
    SUBJECT: help me out
    please help me out... is Tobey McGuire gay? Don't guess... if you don't know say that, if you know FOR SURE with proof... please tell me!
    Hey - you lucky -
    you got an email from -
    < Katlyn >

    SUBJECT: (no subject)

    FROM: Fernanda
    SUBJECT: Oi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11
    Who are you? I couldn´t undestanding what you want to say?


    Tuesday, May 14, 2002

    Everyone else has linked to this, but in case you haven't seen it, and are looking for something to while away those hours when you're supposed to be hard at work, go here now:
    FHM's Top 100 Online Games

    At the new Laban Centre London, the treatment of each side of the polycarbonate sheets (outer surface translucent with UV-protective coating, inner surface coloured and transparent) will cause the skin of the building to transform according to sunlight and direction of approach.

    The polycarbonate sheets act as a filter transforming sunlight into a flood of coloured light. The inner translucent glass panels will blur this light changing its character yet again, thus creating an ambient glow of colour which will spill into the interior of the building. The combination of the polycarbonate sheets and the inner glass panels will reduce the total solar transmission and simultaneously keep the grade of light transmission high. The windows are positioned close to the surface of the polycarbonate sheets, thus appearing as reflecting pools of water on a coloured fabric.
    Sounds lovely. It's all part of a new regeneration scheme for Deptford. The name of the centre always reminds me of that of this wonderful but bizarrely-named cinema in Cape Town.
    They say that pride comes before a fall. That'll be London Pride, then! Go and cheer Ian up.
    Spam of the day:
    Me something came to ears.
    A relatively unusual rumor kitchen, from which one put forward to me a heavy digestible soup, is the reason of my Mail.
    Unappetizing is no printout!
    Is it possible on radio Wege (in for which frequency ranges?) to influence or manipulate someone?
    Terrorize or to even chicane and?
    Under the Motto:"Einen at the Sender? Nich quite alone?
    Small Mannim Ohr? Fal Wellenlaenge? Bohnen in the ears?
    On the tooth clean-hear gefuehlt (Amalgam)? Mal witthout obligation?
    The Pullacher bug wanzentanz?
    Isn't the Spinnerei? Das goes nevertheless at all, or?
    And if as looks ethicalally morally?
    but, that cannot be nevertheless, which is made soetwas, or?
    A violation of human rights resemble special!?!
    Is it possible, by preparation, the ears and in interaction with possibly available artificial dentures?
    With relatively simple radio engineering??
    In this Land? Hier and today???
    That, surely, is the question on everyone's lips.

    Monday, May 13, 2002

    Hello, Spoggo
    I have linked to Urban75's gallery of London photographs before, but they've added loads of new ones. There are also wonderful photos of New York, Paris and other cities too. Plus a guide to Brixton. And I'm a sucker for 360 degree panoramas. So much too see, and so much to read, too, in the online magazine. If only official city guides were this good.

    Friday, May 10, 2002

    I would like to go on record as stating that the full-length Almighty remix of "Say Hello Wave Goodbye" is the Greatest Remix Ever. That final "goodbyyyyyye" is somehow more poignant when set against the cheesy keyboard riff, while the following "I never knew you" rips my soul out, every fucking time.
    I would also like to repeat Marcus's Greatest Ever Swedish-ism:
    "What did he just say? 'We've been in a Volvo quite a while now'?".
    Jonathan is off to see Dali today. How timely. So is Google.
    A Friday challenge for you:

    I was going through my referrer log this morning. Among all the usual search requests [David Beckham naked, Blu Cantrell nude, Tobey McGuire's penis, and the ever-puzzling 'digimon sex'] were these five more unusual requests.

    1. sexy big breasted omen on the web
    2. "eddie stobart" porn
    3. cartoon bears coffee mugs orgy
    4. pictures prom hairstyles for people with fat heads
    5. gay boys feet socks clogs (pics)

    Obviously, I canot provide the searchers with what they were looking for. But can you? URLs in the comments, please.

    Thursday, May 09, 2002

    The things you can discover while idly wondering why you often wake up at 3am:

    According to this quack Alternative Medicine Angel, it is because of I have a toxic liver, causing my body to go into a mini-crisis every night. Who knows - let's face it, it is quite likely that my liver is full of toxins.

    From there, I discovered a wonderfully-named book aimed at insomniacs: Desperately Seeking Snoozin'.
    Customers who bought this book also bought:
  • The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking

    If that doesn't send you to sleep, you have a real problem!
  • Are you your friends'...
  • most thoughtful friend?
  • most generous friend?
  • best-listening friend?
  • most popular friend?
  • most reliable friend?
  • best-looking friend?
  • most caring friend?
  • most useful friend?
  • cleverest friend?
  • most fun friend?
  • closest friend?
  • oldest friend?
  • best friend?
  • Who is...
  • your most thoughtful friend?
  • your most generous friend?
  • your best-listening friend?
  • your most popular friend?
  • your most reliable friend?
  • your best-looking friend?
  • your most caring friend?
  • your most useful friend?
  • your cleverest friend?
  • your most fun friend?
  • your closest friend?
  • your oldest friend?
  • your best friend?

    And why are these so often different people?
  • Sleeping pills. Surely they're meant to help you have a good night's sleep? My doctor prescribed some for me a couple of weeks ago, as I kept waking up in the middle of the night and then oversleeping.

    I've only taken them a couple of times - when I have had two or three sleepless nights in a row - but each time I have, guess what? Yes, I've woken up in the middle of the night and then overslept.

    They seem to have no effect whatsoever - perhaps he gave me placebos? One more thing: either he didn't want me to get addicted to them, or he was worried I would try to overdose, as he gave me just five of the things.

    So, anyway, I'm a bit grumpy and tired today. Have you had any experience of sleeping pills? Good or bad?

    Wednesday, May 08, 2002

    Ah, now I remember why I never wear my Timberland jeans anymore. How long have I been walking around today with my flies completely undone?
    The most vile act ever?
    Australian rugby player John Hopoate has been suspended for 12 weeks after being found guilty of poking his fingers up the anuses of three North Queensland players.

    The NRL Judiciary had little trouble differentiating between a "wedgie", a "finger up the arse" and the area between the "arse and the nuts" before finding Hopoate guilty.

    Hopoate, 27, was found guilty on three separate counts of deliberately sticking his fingers up the anuses of Peter Jones, Paul Bowman and Glenn Morrison in Saturday night's match at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

    Hopoate, a former Australian Test winger, insisted he was merely trying to give Jones and Morrison a wedgie in order to perform a quick play-the-ball and that he did not stick his finger up Bowman's anus.

    Asked by his consel Bernie Gross QC where he was directing his finger at Bowman, the Cowboys captain, Hopoate replied: "Between his arse and his nuts".

    Asked to describe what a wedgie felt like, the Tigers winger replied: "You get a burning sensation. Your undies are getting reefed up your arse. [This] wasn't a wedgie. That's when your pants are pulled up your arse. I think I know the difference between a wedgie and someone sticking their finger up my bum," said Jones, admitting that while both acts caused discomfort, they caused different sensations and he could differentiate between the two. There was pressure there. I know he wasn't doing it accidentally. He was definitely pushing. I was disgusted. I couldn't believe it. I know it's a tough game, but there's no room for that."

    Tigers coach Terry Lamb, who has played 349 first grade games, said it was reasonably common to be touched in the region of the testicles.
    Picture of 'Stinky Pinky' Hopoate in action.
    Oh, and speaking of Pim Fortuyn, wouldn't have been marvellous if - given Holland's attitude to gay men marrying each other - he had married me? With his first name, and my surname, we were surely made for each other!
    I believe I may have met Pim Fortuyn.*

    In 1997, I went to Amsterdam for my birthday. Not realising that my birthday is also Queen's Day [no sniggering at the back, thank you] I hadn't bothered to book a hotel. Big mistake. There was no room at the inn - any inn. I wandered from gay hotel to gay hotel, from cheap hotel to cheap hotel, from backpackers' hostel to the ridiculous. Nothing doing. I eventually gave up and just put my bag in a time-release locker at Centraal Station.

    I had 24 hours until the locker would spring open, 24 hours in which to find somewhere to stay. I hit the bars. Hard.

    The Casa Maria didn't really look the most likely place to pick anyone up, filled as it was with pot-bellied, walrus-moustached, middle-aged men but what's that saying about beggars and choosers?

    I chose a 30-something man with an English accent. I didn't exactly tell him I was on the make, but I did make sure he had his own house in Amsterdam. His name was John, a really nice guy, and a respected artist with an interest in Egyptian archaeology [I have just found a few web sites about him]. Come the end of the evening, he invited me home. I pretended to be surprised, and accepted.

    "There is just one potential problem," he said. "My boyfriend Pim might be in town. He doesn't live in Amsterdam, but he does sometimes spend weekends here, and it's his house really. But even if he is home, I'm sure he won't have a problem with your staying over."

    Pim was home, and Pim did have a problem with my staying over.

    Pim was a shiny-headed, red-faced man, and he was angry. After a great deal of furious whispering in the kitchen, John announced we were leaving. Together. For his studio. On the other end of town. On his bicycle. Balancing a foam single mattress.

    We veered across town on his bike, giggling wildly, the orange mattress making us look like some kind of rickety bi-plane.

    John's studio was a vast concrete warehouse, spattered with grey paint and smelling of turpentine. I stayed there three nights, nipping back to my locker in the station every day to pick up clean clothes. I eventually grew to love this peripatetic lifestyle, and set myself a challenge:

    Could I spend the rest of my week in Amsterdam without booking a hotel? The answer, I am ashamed yet proud to say, is a resounding "yes".

    *I realise that it is unlikely this Pim was that Pim. I know it's a common Dutch name, and I know Pim Fortuyn lived in Rotterdam, not Amsterdam, and I haven't read anything about him having an English artist boyfriend. But why let logic get in the way of a good story?

    Tuesday, May 07, 2002

    More about our trip to the seaside later, but for now, here's a picture of Marcus and the Beachy Head lighthouse
    Apologies and thanks to the coatcheck guy at the RVT yesterday. I couldn't find my ticket, and he ran up and down those stairs three times, cheerfully determined to find my coat. "It's a cream zip-up tracksuit top thing, with sort of Spanish writing on it," I explained, "and it's my boyfriend's flatmate's." Down he went again. And again, but to no avail.

    "Are you sure you handed it in?" he asked, politely.

    "Don't be silly - of course I..."

    But hang on. When I really thought about it, no, I wasn't sure I'd handed it in. In fact, I had no memory of putting a jacket in at all. Perhaps I hadn't? But then, what....?

    I found it crumpled on the dance floor.

    Friday, May 03, 2002

    No Royal Vauxhall Tavern for us this Sunday. We're off on a jaunt down the south coast. Expect photos of outlandish chinoiserie, popular suicide spots, modernist leisure facilities and gardens struggling in the shade of a nuclear power station when we return.
    Woke up this morning. [Three times. The last one being at 10:35. Oops.]

    Throwing some clothes on while simulataneously gulping down a mug of coffee [not easy, I tell you] I caught a bit of This Morning on ITV. The people behind the make-over slot had come up with a gem of an idea - take a girl called Julie who lives in Staines and turn her into a real-life Me Julie, by giving her a bling-bling make-over.

    "So," said the-couple-who-aren't-Richard-and-Judy, "what exactly is this 'bling bling'?"

    "Ooh," said the aging, perma-tanned fashion queen, "how would I know?" [He had a point.]

    Sadly, I didn't get to see how the poor girl turned out, but the best moment came when the old queen demonstrated what bling-bling was all about, by trying on some huge Versace sunvisors and a stetson. "Oh, very Noel Coward!"

    Thursday, May 02, 2002

    Damn! I love receiving mail like this:
    Hi, I'm a homesick-for-the-Soho-of-the-sixties ex-pat living in Vancouver; happened on your site by mistake, looking for cottage stuff! Ended up going on your London walk with you, went over the map lovingly.

    I used to live on Peter Street, at the foot of Berwick Street,around the corner from Walker's Court, where the Raymond Revue Bar is, or was. Danny La Rue used to be the big name there.

    Geoffrey Worthington, who owned the only gay bar in the area (can't remember its name) lived on Gerrard Street, where people would come to buy uncut chinese heroin. As I remember, the drug of choice at least among the gay crowd, was drynamil, or "purple hearts" uppers that would keep you up and dancing all weekend. Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, etc, were who we listened to.

    Now I am half a world away, having raised 2 (amazingly enough, straight) boys, and spend my days working as a case manager at AIDS Vancouver, helping people cope with living with HIV and AIDS.

    I love my work,and the people I work with amaze me with their grace and humour, but I do get homesick sometimes, although I have been back, and walked my old haunts, and of course, hardly recognised them. Soho is very sanitised these days, obviously tarted up for the tourists. So I'll stick with the memories. Again, thanks for the walk, and happy belated birthday!

    Wednesday, May 01, 2002

    Sarah wonders what the story is behind this photo of the broken handcuff attached to a fence. Me too. I spotted it on Shoot-up Hill, Kilburn. It was there for about two weeks, but has now been removed . How, I wonder?

    I've created an archive of my random image photos. Presented like this - 63 random images all on one page - they seem to gain a meaning. They are a visual representation of my blog - and indeed my day-to-day life - boyfriend, public transport, bars, London scenery, etc. Yes, it's me making an exhibition of myself.

    Please let me know what you think of them, and which image[s] you like most/least.
    Last night's Retro Bar pop quiz was a Big Money quiz - the £111 had to go. And go it did, but not to us. We finished on 17.5 out of 20, after talking ourselves out of all two-and-a-half points we lost. See how you would have done. [Answers in the comments, please.]

    1. These four ABBA songs peaked at numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the UK charts. Put them in descending order of highest chart position:
    a) The Name Of The Game
    b) One Of Us
    c) I Have A Dream
    d) Does Your Mother Know

    2. Name the bassist in The Beatles

    3. Name the bassist in The Rolling Stones

    4. Name the bassist in The Who

    5. A current chart single splices the words of a children's nursery rhyme with the tune of one of Madge's greatest hits. Who is the current single by, and what is it called?

    6. Whose current single is called "Girlfriend"?

    7. Which kiddie-pop group have a current single at number two in the UK charts? What's it called?

    8. Last week's number one was the comeback from a mega Britpop band. Name them and name their single.

    9. Last week's number two or three was a droning single from former members of Sub Sub. What is their current band called, and what's the name of the single?

    10. Name the new Idlewild single.

    11. A South African girl group had a hit whose opening line was, "Sam, you've been waiting much too long now, it looks like she's not coming home". Name the group and the song.

    12. Spot the connection between:
    a) Shake Your Groove Thang
    b) The Stranglers
    c) A Prince hit
    d) An electroclash artist

    13. Which soft rock band had a hit with "More Than A Feeling"?

    14. Which rock band had a 1981 hit with "I Surrender"?

    15. Which soft rock band had a 1978 hit with "Hold The Line"?

    16. Give the first twenty words of the Flying Lizards' "Money".

    17. Name the year:
    a) Kid Creole & The Coconuts: I'm A Wonderful Thing Baby
    b) Bananarama: Shy Boy
    c) Duran Duran: Rio