Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Um, David: if you change the FTP password on your server, and don't change it on Blogger, of course Blogger won't be able to update your page, you fool. My face goes red, I stand corrected.

Sorry, Blogger
Can this be for real? This guy makes huge Lego sculptures. Cynic that I am, I can't help wondering if they're some kind of spoof. If they are real, they're massively impressive in an obsessive-compulsive kind of way. This Beatles mosaic took eight months and 20,000 Lego bricks.
Overheard in the kitchen a moment ago:

"Everyone said 'God, you're looking brown; you must have been somewhere nice,' but it wasn't - it was from watching Rolf Harris."
Fraser's Blogpop list of the Top 30 UK blogs has been moved and hugely improved by Cal. It now ranks over 200 UK blogs by the amount of traffic they receive according to Alexa. [Sadly, Alexa can't distinguish between different blogs hosted by one service - so the list ignores all the Blog*Spot sites.]
The NME review of the new Future Sound of London album, Amorphous Androgynous: The Isness, makes it sound so brilliant, despite the dodgy title, that I've just had to add it to my my wish list. [Hey, cut me some slack: it's been a while!]
Oh lordy! Ever wondered what it would sound like if you crammed Ravi Shankar, John Barry, World Party, Miles David and a skipful of hallucinogenics into a studio and let the tapes roll? Gary Cobain obviously has. Exhausted by a life where all anyone wanted to talk about was Eno and Tangerine Dream, Cobain trawled the globe after the release of the mighty 'Dead Cities' in 1996 in pursuit of true visionaries. Having tried fasting, meditation and yoga in search of the answers, he finally found salvation in ELO, Barbra Streisand and Italian film scores. Some FSOL fans may not be impressed. But for connoisseurs of sprawling, loony progtronica, this other-worldly masterpiece is so far out you need a telescope to see it.
Sounds very me. I get called 'a connoisseur of sprawling, loony progtronica' every day. 'Cept it's usually pronounced 'sad old git'.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

And so the shortlist for this year's Mercury Music Prize is announced:
Beverley Knight - Who I Am
The Bees - Sunshine, Hit Me
The Coral - The Coral
David Bowie - Heathen
Doves - The Last Broadcast
The Electric Soft Parade - Holes in the Wall
Gemma Hayes - Night On My Side
Guy Barker - Soundtrack
Joanna MacGregor - Play
Ms Dynamite - A Little Deeper
Roots Manuva - Run Come Save Me
The Streets - Original Pirate Material

It's a strong list this year, with lots of young acts [and Mr Bowie]. As is traditional, the nominees include a folk record, a jazz set and a classical album, even though they stand no chance of winning. The Streets are tipped by record industry experts (and me) to win, though I wouldn't mind if Ms Dynamite won.
"Paradise Road" by Joy - 1980 [download the mp3]

"Paradise Road" was number one for nine consecutive weeks in 1980 in South Africa. It's a huge power ballad sung by Felicia Marian, Thoka Ndlozi and Anneline Malebo.

In my series on South African music, I intend to focus on crossover music - a hybrid of African and western sounds. "Paradise Road" is pure white bread - there's nothing black about this, apart from the power of the women's voices. However, the song does represent a key moment in the acceptance of black artists on the white charts. While this wasn't the first song by a black group to top the South African charts, it was perhaps the first mainstream middle-of-the-road one. Songs by black artists had made the "white" chart before, but they had usually been seen as 'black' music, as 'novelty' hits, almost as foreign records - "Mama Tembu's Wedding" from the Ipi Tombi soundtrack, for example.

"Paradise Road" is an enduring SA classic - it was recently selected for the South African version of "Pop Idol". The song was co-written by Patric Van Blerk who had a finger in so many, many South African records of the late seventies and early eighties. He was like South Africa's Pete Waterman. [He also spent much of the late eighties trying to get me into bed, buttering me up by telling me he could make me a star, that I looked just like Morten Harket. It didn't work!]

Let me know what you think of this song. Buy South Africa CDs online at

Monday, July 29, 2002

'95, I don't recall a time I felt this alive

I arrived in London at exactly the right time. The right time for me - I had just come home to start afresh at the age of thirty, and I had just ended a relationship that had been limping along since the late eighties.

In the twist of separation, I excelled at being free

And boy! Did I ever! I did all the things I should have done ten years earlier, but was too scared, too sensible, to do. I discovered ecstasy, I went to all-night clubs, travelled around Europe, explored my sexuality, came out of my shell and actually spoke to strangers.

Yes, I did feel better, I felt alright

It was the right time for the city, too. Just around the corner was the impending New Labour victory with its promise of Cool Britannia and Swinging London. And do you remember the summer of 1995? The weather was incredible - three solid months of sunshine. And the radio played upbeat, tuneful, intelligent English pop made by pretty white boys with floppy hair and Arts degrees. Music I could relate to. Britpop.

We were young, we ran green, kept our teeth nice and clean

Everything sounded fresh, exciting, young! Teenage Fanclub, Oasis, Supergrass, Blur, Elastica, McAlmont and Butler, Menswe@r, Dubstar, plus this strange new dance music: the Chemical Brothers, Leftfield, Tricky, Portishead, Massive Attack.

Then came the inevitable backlash. The scene collapsed under the hype of the well-documented, high-profile Blur vs Oasis chart battle. After that, 'Britpop' was a dirty word, and bands rushed to claim that they were never part of the scene. New Labour turned out to be more like New Tory, and New David realised he was just like Old David, only older.

This old town's changed so much, don't feel like I belong

Could it be time to reclaim Britpop? Today, in a corner shop at lunch, I heard the much-lauded-then-much-derided Wake Up Boo!, and - on this glorious summer afternoon - it sounded so good, so right. And I felt so good, so right, so young.

For what could be the very last time
Four separate times, by four different people, Marcus and I were told, "You two are forever going out. I don't know how you do it."

I don't know how, either, but after a weekend like this, I know why.

Friday: Marcus had friends visiting from Sweden: his friend Frederik, whom he has known since they were 18, his sister Frida, and their younger brother Tobias, a ridiculously young-looking 19. Living in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, they were impressed with the swish decor, lush terraces and stylish people at Fiction. The two brothers - straight - were a bit nervous about all the sweaty naked torsos on display, but the sister lapped it up. [Er, may have to rephrase that one.]

Saturday: Marcus had to go into town to buy fabric for a wedding dress [I'll allow him to tell you about that] so I went to visit my ex, who has broken his arm. That was the plan anyway, but we ended up outside Comptons for several hours. Drinking in the sun always seems like a good idea at the time, but waking up at 9pm with a hangover is never pleasant, especially when your boyfriend is trying to wake you up to go to Hope* in Brixton. We made it there just after midnight, paid our five quid, and walked straight out again. The place was like a sauna - hot, hot, hot, and very, very wet. We grabbed a couple of drinks and lounged about on the benches in the "beer garden". We eventually decided to brave the heat again, and discovered that the dance floor itself was bearably ventilated. We left around 4am.

Sunday: Andy had invited us round in the afternoon, and as he lives quite Marcus's place, we decided to walk round there. Half an hour later, we arrived dripping wet with sweat. The heat, the humidity, and the excesses of the previous couple of nights really took their toll. Thankfully, Andy's flat is cool, in both senses of the word. Then it was off to the RVT, which was also incredibly hot. We retired to the grassy knoll and chatted to Ian and Dave and Kelvin and Guy and wiped the sweat off Luca and just generally had a perfect end to a lovely, hot, weekend.

That's why we do it. How? Ask me on Weepy Wednesday.
I spotted this faded advertisement on a wall in Oval.

The name of the product - Craven 'A' cigarettes - has disappeared, leaving the unlikely slogan "For your throat's sake, smoke". This sign combines two of my favourite obsessions - faded advertising signs on urban buildings, and advertising slogans which trumpet unrealistic health benefits of harmful products. You know, along the lines of "A Mars A Day Helps You Work Rest And Play". Advertisers are still doing it today, as McDonald's are discovering.

Friday, July 26, 2002

Urrrggh! Creepy crawlies! It's flying ant day. The streets of NW3 are crawling with the damn things. How do they all know to hatch out on this one day of the year? Have you spotted the same phenomenon today where you live?

Update: I see Meg's spotted them too today, on the other end of London.
Page after page after page of photographs of ludicrous bands from the seventies and eighties. I can't decide which is my favourite:
  • The Eurotrash kitsch of Die Jacob-Sisters
  • The Microsoft-1974-stylee Fossils
  • Look ma, no tits!

    But is this really Anni-Frid and Agnetha?
  • There's this middle-aged gay man [oh, what a cruel phrase that is] who works down the hallway. How do I know he's a gay man? Trust me, it doesn't take a highly-developed sense of gayar for this one.

    Every time he walks down the corridor in front of me, he looks at me. I sense him looking at me, so I look up and catch him seemingly staring at me.

    I tend to look up involuntarily whenever someone passes, but most people walk purposefully past - they don't stare at me. He always notices me looking up and catches me seemingly staring at him. So I look back to see if he looks back, and he looks back to see if I look back to see if he looks back to see if I was looking at him.

    I don't know why he looks at me. Maybe it's because he fancies me, maybe it's because he thinks I fancy him [er, yeah, right!], maybe it's just because he can tell I'm another gay man [it doesn't take a highly-developed sense of etc]. But stop it now. Both of us.

    Thursday, July 25, 2002

    Mike and Fraser both compiled lists of the UK's most popular blogs, using fairly scientific criteria. To hell with that - I admire The Guardian's bravery in choosing the best blog simply by asking a couple of people which they like best. I reckon I am better-qualified to pick the UK's best weblog than any of the judges on the Guardian contest, so here are the winners of...

    ...The Great British Blog

    1. not so soft
    The ruling queen of UK weblogging. Excellent writing, with links that are always worth following. Meg is to blame for starting many a m*me.

    2. blogadoon
    The best writing on the UK weblogging scene, insightful opinion.

    3. blogjam
    First with the quirkiest links.

    4. wherever you are
    Good writing, good links, personal stuff with considered opinions.

    5. hydragenic
    Impressive in-depth discussions on all sorts of stuff.

    6. troubled diva
    Very good on popular culture and personal material.

    7. life as it happens
    Very good right now, with excellent travelogue.

    8. here inside
    Revealing personal anecdotes and political views.

    9. plep
    A staggering array of random links. The Bifurcated Rivets that's fun to read.

    10. pressure to cccp
    Off-centre queer culture and links.

    11. plastic bag
    Well-designed, good links, can be insightful. Can come across as taking itself a bit too seriously.

    12. minor 9th
    Proof that blogs written by Young People can be good!

    13. interconnected
    Very good links to stuff about the internet. A bit techie for my own tastes, perhaps.

    14. kookymojo
    Personal anecdotes with lots and lots of excellent modern culture links.

    15. linkmachinego
    Television, newspapers, comics, the web; never personal.

    16. online blog
    A bit techie for me, but a good collection of links to geekstuff.

    17. so...
    Good on current events and personal stuff.

    18. not you, the other one
    Online diary, giving a good sense of the person.

    19. parallax view
    Discerning links to popular culture stuff.

    20. sashinka
    Being Jewish, dating, hair, web happenings, local interest, all sorts of stuff.

    In a rare attempt at being modest, I've left myself off the list, but I reckon I'd slot in at about number six.
    Note: If you're not on the list, it doesn't mean I don't like your site. You're at number 21.
    Spotted at the tube station:

    A tatty busker sitting beneath a poster annnouncing: "I am sure I wouldn't have followed the career path I did, had I not attended Middlesex University".
    Busting for a pee, I just went to the loo at work. The MD was at one of the urninals, so I popped into a cubicle instead. [It's never a good idea to make your MD feel inferior about the size of his penis!]

    There was someone in the next cubicle having an extremely loud crap. Very odd technique - he'd alternately unroll some toilet paper then let out an explosive fart. It was like rattle, rattle, rattle, pfffrrrrrrrrtt!! rattle, rattle, rattle, ppppFFFFFFRRRRRttT!!

    The whole thing was so off-putting, I couldn't pee, so I flushed and exited. The MD was still hanging around, perhaps to see who was responsible for all the strange noises. As I came out, he looked at me in a strange way, as if to say, "I'm going to remember your face - there's something wrong with you, my boy," and then left. I wanted to run after him, shouting, "It wasn't me, it wasn't, honest!"

    Wednesday, July 24, 2002

    Starting today... The Swish Guide to South African Pop Music

    I lived in South Africa for twenty years. I grew up in the apartheid era; started high school at the time of the Soweto riots; and stayed to see the unbanning of the ANC and the release of Mandela. I lived through the rule of several heads of state: John Vorster, PW Botha, FW de Klerk, Nelson Mandela.

    Turbulent times are good times for music. The state of emergency imposed in the eighties meant that any overtly political music was banned. Artists had to be pretty subtle to get messages past the censors. Gradually, as the laws were relaxed and society became more integrated, a unique form of crossover pop ruled the charts, taking the best bits from township pop and rock, merging black and white. Over the next few weeks, I'll upload one mp3 per week of a track I consider key to the development of South Africa's musical identity.

    Next week, I'll start in the seventies and follow the development of the two strands development chronologically. But to start us off, I'll jump in with one of the first examples of this hybrid musical form, and certainly one of the most audacious.

    "Hey Boy" by Via Afrika - 1983 [download the mp3]

    Via Afrika were quite unlike anything I'd ever heard. Or seen. Were they black or white? Were they straight or gay? They caused a great deal of controversy. They appropriated the music, dress and attitude from a variety of African cultures. Multi-ethnic, led by multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist Rene Veldsman, they burst onto the scene in 1983 with this riotous single. A great dirty bassline. Whooping, hollering, whistling, laughing. The lyrics seemed nonsensical, but hinted at sexual shame: "Your uniform is shiny at the knees. Your cheeks go red if somebody sees." Were they making fun of the authorities? The powers that be hadn't the faintest idea, so they resorted to their usual course: they banned it. They looked subversive - they must be dangerous.

    Their first album sold well, and Via Afrika performed on Steve Van Zandt's (Ain't Gonna Play) Sun City. The US dance remix of Hey Boy dented the US dance charts, but the band fell apart before they could have any further success.

    Let me know what you think of this song. Read more about Via Afrika here. Buy South Africa CDs online at
    Poor Marcus. While we were away, he suffered from chronic toothache and had to see an emergency dentist. Too much time on the beach brought him out in a horrible heat rash. Since then, he's also had an ear infection and a throat infection. And now he's got a tummy bug. Send him a get well card.
    Self tanning lotion explained at Seems it's all down to a colourless sugar called dihydroxyacetone which, as Elizabeth said, reacts with the proteins in the dead skin cells of the upper epidermis.

    Useful site,, but it wasn't able to answer the other question that has been puzzling me for years - how are dodgem cars powered? Do they draw all their power from that electrified mesh above, or is there a battery in the car?

    Tuesday, July 23, 2002

    Some quick observations about forthcoming music:

    Suede: Positivity
    Suede: Obsessions
    Suede: Beautiful Loser

    Three tracks off the forthcoming Suede album. Overall, the sound is a bit beefier than the last two albums, more guitars, less keyboards. More, er, Britpop. Clocking in at just under three minutes, new single Positivity is a tiny delight. It breezes along in a jangly way, and suddenly it's summer 1986. Brett has been leafing through Marc Almond's Big Book of Lyrical Cliches: "you can feel like you're in Dynasty", "your diamonds are drops of rain, your smile is your credit card". While the title of new track Beautiful Loser nicks its title from Marc, the sound is pure Oasis. When the hits dry up [er, haven't they already?] Brett can always do Liam on Stars In Their Eyes. The opening couplet of Obsessions is familiar too: "It's the way you pick your clothes up from the floor". Then Brett falls into the Sting pretension trap: "It's the way you don't read Camus or Brett Easton Ellis".

    Tracey Cole: Anyone Of Us (Stupid Mistake)
    Yes, it's another cheap, tacky Almighty cover version. But wait, this is better than the original. Instead of Gareth Gates's wide-eyed, gap-toothed, slack-jawed crooning on his current number one, we have some gutsy bird giving it her all. Where Gareth manages to make this tale of infidelity sound like a love song, the Almighty Definitive remix pushes forward lines like "Giving into temptation". And repeating all the way through is a line that seems designed to make more sense when off your face at the RVT, "Must have altered my senses". Okay, so this was never meant to stand up to over-analysis, but it is a rare case of the Almighty cover being less flimsy than the original.

    Soft Cell: Cruelty Without Beauty
    The best thing Marc Almond has done in well over a decade. This album does raise the question: "What is Soft Cell?" Just because Marc and Dave are working together again, does that make it Soft Cell? This album sounds nothing like the Soft Cell of old, and - thankfully - doesn't head into the druggy rock areas they were heading into when they disbanded. This is a wonderful, uplifting Marc Almond album, produced by Dave Ball. Highlights: On An Up, Together Alone and the first single Monoculture. A full review will follow shortly.

    Looks like it's back to shocking pink for my site soon
    Fake tan. How does it work? Does it actually stimulate the pigments [mellanin?] in your skin that cause tanning? Or is it simply a dye?

    The lotion itself is white. I know this because I shall confess to buying some just before we left for Sitges. I was determined not to be the whitest person on the beach this year. When we were in Sitges two years ago, the drinks seller used to shout out "¡Ola, Blanquito!" each time he saw me.

    The fake tan I used didn't have much effect. Is this related to the fact I don't tan easily? Or did I just buy a crap product?

    [Fortunately, I was saved from being the palest person on the beach this year by an almost transparent Icelandic boy. He was the only literally white person I have ever seen.]
    A little while ago, I made some of the photos I had taken with my digital camera available as wallpaper for computer desktops. I've added some more - feel free to download them if you like them. Click on the thumbnail to see the full-size version, then right-click on the large version to save it to your computer. I have a folder on my desktop from which my Mac chooses one of these pics at random as wallpaper.
    [The sizes of the pics vary - most are 1600x1200, but some are just 640x480.]
    You arrive at a festival with 12 ecstasy pills. The first pill will mash your head for one hour. Thereafter the effectiveness of each successive pill is reduced by 12%. If you beak all the pills, how long will you spend off your face?
    The Guardian sets a mathematics test relevant to today's teenagers.

    Monday, July 22, 2002

    Some photos of my recent trip to Caerphilly Castle. A brief history and much better photos on this site.

    It's the meme fad that wouldn't go away. According to Meg's marvellous Google game...

    Electronic music...
    Hip hop...
    Toilet humour...
    The net...
    Systems integration...
    Walking away while you've still got it...
    Laughing at funny people...
    Rock and roll... the new rock and roll [214 results]

    Black and white...
    Navy blue...
    Pale green...
    Being a fuckhead...
    Fashion journalism...
    The vinaigrette of futile death... the new black [6,950 results]

    Enter. Don't enter. Shut up.
    When I posted the Justin Timberlake porn pic, I asked for comments. Here's what the great unwashed *NSYNC fanbase has had to say on the subject. [Names have been removed to protect the illiterate.]
    You are so fucking stupid if you think someone is going to think that is real. what would make you do something like that.

    I think it looks a bit fake and the dick spoils it cause justin looks hot in that picture.


    this is a real pic of justun I hear hes bi too its a real pic

    i love to believe the cock pic is real. i want him in me

    i think it's real because he is such a pig he would do somthing like that then again if i had his body i would be doing worse things than that......

    justin timberlake is sooooooo hott

    i think that pic of justin is the sickest thing i ever saw and i think it waz wrong of him to lie to his fans like that.

    I don't know who is responsible for the porn image but it is obviously a fake. If you look at the magazine picture his thumb is hooked on the edge of his jeans and you can see the veins and hair on his hand. In the porn picture the hand is lighter than the rest of his body and there are no veins visible on the hand. Also the magazine picture you have is not the actual picture. There is no watercolor on the actual picture for the magazine.

    I hope that is really justin timberlake!!!!!!!!!!

    I would like him to hump me!!!


    Hi i saw the pics and i want u 2 know that i think think that it wasn't even justin in those pics. It was probably a lookalike or it was changed, what i mean by changed is that whoever did it digitally cut justin's head off and pasted it onto another body.
    But i mainly think it was a lookalike who posed 4 the pic. I love justin and know that he said one of his fav qualites about himself r his hands. If u look at his hand in the pic and ones on "real" pics u can definately c that they do not match.

    Can u please send me pics of nsync cock please.Send 2 me asap.please get back 2 me.bye.please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Saturday, July 20, 2002

    On Thursday morning, I left the house an hour before I was due to be at Paddington station. I reasoned that should be enough time to get a cab from the minicab office next to Kilburn station, even on tube strike day. Er, what minicab office? It has closed down. Shit! Shit! Shit!

    The bus stops on Shoot Up Hill were so busy that I stood no chance of getting on a bus, so I ran to Willesden Lane. Three buses came and went, not allowing anyone on. One or two cabs came and went, their lights off, smug passengers in the back. I now had half an hour to my train, and no visible means of getting there.

    I wasn't in the best of moods when a woman in an open-topped BMW pulled up in front of me. "If she's going to ask me for directions," I thought to myself, "I'll tell her where to go."

    But she didn't want directions: "I can take one person," she said, "hop in!"

    And so, thanks to the kindness of strangers, I arrived at the station in style, with minutes to spare. Monica, if ever you read this, thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Re: the post below, I should mention that I have nothing against the Welsh. Hell, I was born there. All the locals we met were extremely friendly - even if they did look like the offspring of Samantha Fox and Helen. No, the truly awful people we had to deal with were all English. However, if I want to keep my job, I'd better not go into any detail.

    Friday, July 19, 2002

    Two text message conversations:
    David: Help! I'm in Caerphilly.
    Jonathan: The town or the cheese?
    David: The town, sadly.
    Jonathan: Work or pleasure?
    David: Definitely not pleasure.

    David: Help! I'm in Caerphilly.
    Ian: I must not be fully awake yet.
    David: Oh, that I weren't.
    To reveal too many details of my business trip to Wales, and the people I met there, would be libellous, slanderous and downright dangerous to my job. I shall have to tread caerfilly.

    After sitting through a staggeringly long, dull and irrelevant presentation, we were taken for a very good meal in Cardiff at an excellent new fish restaurant called La Fosse. The chargrilled sardines were excellent, and my main course - a seafood platter containing fillets of sea-bass and mahi-mahi topped with a ginormous tiger prawn was very good too.

    We spent several more hours in a godforsaken karaoke pub, wincing while peroxided perma-tanned bimbos duetted with beer-bellied bruisers. You haven't lived till you've seen a full-back bellow out "I Am What I Am". Grinning shrivelled company directors danced puppet-like with blowsy coarse women. Is it a Welsh bye-law that all women must bleach their hair in a tribute to Helen-From-Big-Brother?

    We sought solace in many many pints of the local beer - a heavy concoction called Brains S.A. The locals told us S.A. stood for "Skull Attack" - I reckon it's "Stomach Ache".

    I wouldn't have thought I could ever be happy to arrive in Swindon.

    Wednesday, July 17, 2002

    Dave, and anyone else heading to Barcelona or Sitges should keep this in mind for a rainy – or cloudy - day:

    We didn’t feel like going to the beach on the Thursday we were in Sitges – sunburn had taken its toll. So we decided to go to Port Aventura, the theme park near Salou – about 90 minutes by train.

    What a fantastic day out we had. Port Aventura – or Universal Mediterranea as it is called these days – has loads of amazing rides. The place is divided into five zones: Mediterrania, Polynesia, China, Mexico, and the Far West. Each zone has two or three major rides plus a few smaller ones.

    The park is dominated by Dragon Khan, one of the world’s most terrifying rollercoasters, and one of the most beautiful, too. A knot of loops and rolls, it is perched on a hill, visible from all parts of the park. According to a coaster-fanatics website I found, the ride exceeds speeds of 100km/h and has “eight inversions; two barrel rolls, two vertical loops, a cobra roll, a diving loop and an inline twist”.

    All I know is, it’s bloody scary, yet wonderfully exhilarating. See this photo of me and Marcus on the ride. To re-create the Marcus-on-a-rollercoaster experience, watch this movie clip and scream, “No! No! No! Oh God no!” all the way through it.

    Top tip if you are visiting the park: for about ten quid extra, you can get gold armbands which mean you never have to queue for the major rides. We gleefully, spitefully, swept past the waiting plebs, calling “guest-list, sweetie, guest-list!”
    He's my boss, you know.
    ...Sitges, continued

    XXL (C/ Joan Tarrida, 7)
    My only previous visit here, a couple of years ago, had been spent prowling the dimly-lit upstairs labyrinth on an underwear night. This time round, we stuck to the downstairs bar. Not quite the leather and jeans bar it would have you believe, thankfully. Friendly service, good music. Key song: Angie Stone's "Wish I didn't miss you" (Hex Hector/Mac Quayle Mixshow mix).

    El Candil (C/ de Carreta, 9)
    Tacky gay disco. Nay, tacky gay Spanish disco, which is far, far tackier. The DJ has a sign up, announcing that she has tapes for sale. She seems to be playing them herself, as the running order is the same every night. If it's "Europe's Living A Celebration", it must be 1:30am. Oh, and there's porn in the toilets, plus a backroom.

    Mediterraneo (C/ San Bonaventura, 6)
    Oh, I do wish we had a bar like this in London. Imagine a smaller Fabric or Fiction. The place looks expensive: bare brick walls, subdued lighting, a palm-filled atrium, tanned good-looking men bare-armed in designer labels. There's a dancefloor, with a couple of podiums littered dangerously about the place (ask Guy, who took his traditional tumble over one).

    Trailer (C/ Angel Vidal 14)
    There are just two gay clubs in the centre of Sitges - Organic [which we didn't try on this trip] and the long-established Trailer. The foam parties at Trailer are an absolute must. As the walled dancefloor fills up with foam, inhibitions are flung skyward, and the place descends into an orgy [quite literally, for some]. The foam in parts rises shoulder-deep, and the fact that no-one can see what your lower-half is doing, combined with the silky-smooth feel of warm, soapy bodies, is quite a turn-on. Marcus and I spent much of the night running around the dancefloor like hyperactive children, emerging covered in soap suds, two abominable snowmen. Such fun! A word of warning, however: the chemicals in the foam don't half wreak havoc with the skin on your privates - most of our party suffered from painful, dry, papery scrotums a few days after the party.

    L'Atlantida has been going for 25 years, but it has only recently been added to the gay circuit. The Sitges scene has such a set routine, that it will be interesting to see if this place works, situated a couple of kilometres out of town. But what a setting! Jutting out into the sea, this is a walled fortress, open to the elements, all tiles and canvas sails and decking and floodlights and stars and moonlight and crashing waves, looking like a set from Kevin Costner's Waterworld, or a level in Jak And Daxter. Key moment, and the defining moment of our trip:

    The five of us were dancing, lined up on a narrow wall overlooking the dancefloor. "It's Raining Men" played. The lights dimmed then flared brightly. The foam machine whoomped into action, and huge suds of foam came drifting down from the skies, becoming a blizzard. We whooped and hollered and let ourselves get absolutely soaking wet. Hallelujah!

    I told you it was a very gay holiday!
    ...Sitges, continued

    Back to the apartments for a power-nap or a drink on the balcony, then out to a restaurant. We ate well in Sitges. Indeed, this was probably the longest extended period of good eating I've had in years. These are the places we ate at, in order of quality:

    Al Fresco (C/ Pau Barrabeig, 4)
    Stunning venue, excellent food, impeccable service, Al Fresco is a must. One of the pricier places in town, but still cheaper than London. The perfect place to impress a holiday romance, every meal here is a special occasion. Marcus's steak was butter-tender and intensely flavoured. For pudding he had the lemon sorbet with vodka - lots of vodka.

    El Celler Vell (C/ Sant Bonaventura, 21)
    There is a Catalan saying which translates roughly as "Eat well, shit hard, and you will have no fear of death". At Celler Vell, a traditional Catalan restaurant, we ate well, but shat soft. Three of the five of us had upset stomachs after eating here, but the food was so good Andy and Kevin went back - no fear of death there, then.

    Flamboyant (C/ Pablo Barrabeitg, 16)
    Set in a pretty garden and run by gay guys, this place serves reliable food, including good steaks, at a reasonable price. The setting alone raises the place above the ordinary.

    El Xalet (C/ Isla de Cuba, 35)
    Another lovely garden setting, this time around a swimming pool. The set menu is cheap, and you get what you pay for. Decent enough, but Flamboyant is nicer.

    La Tablita (C/ Sant Bonaventura, 26)
    Perhaps we were unlucky. This Argentinean grill had been recommended to us, but our night was a series of errors: the wine we received wasn't the one we'd ordered, Marcus's steak was largely gristle, Guy's - ordered medium-to-well - was bloody, the asparagus was tinned. the service was surly, we had to ask for the bill four times, and it was the most expensive meal of our trip.

    And so back to Parrots for more people-watching, then off on our usual circuit of the bars.

    to be continued...
    Sitges is a very gay town, and we had a very gay holiday. We drank gay drinks in gay bars, danced to gay music in gay clubs, had gay sex in gay apartments, got gay tans on gay beaches with our gay friends, surrounded by gay men.

    Sitges is also a very late-night town. We went out to eat at 10pm, hit the bars around midnight, and the club at 2am. Hence very late breakfasts around noon the following day, before spending the afternoon on the beach.

    Sitges has quite a few beaches, but if you're a gay man, you'll probably only bother with two of them. The main gay beach is in front of the hotel Callipolis. It's packed wall-to-wall, cheek-to-cheek, nose-to-butt with muscled flesh. Defined, delicious, slim, stocky, ripped, rippling, pumped-up, perfect, gorgeous, grotesque: a gym lifetime membership seems to be de rigeur. The SkinnyBoyfriend and I resolved to sign up immediately on our return.

    The beach is a veritable Babel: we heard English, Spanish, German, Italian, Swedish, Dutch, even Icelandic. And everywhere, the constant cry of the drinks sellers: "Agua, Coca-Cola, Cerveza, naranjada..."

    There is a gay nudist beach, too, but it's an hour's walk and we didn't bother.

    We lay on the beach till around 6pm most days, then had a couple of beers under the gaudy umbrellas outside Parrots Pub. Situated on the busy Plaza Industria, this is the ideal place to people-watch. Simply everybody parades past Parrots at some time. We named it the catwalk.

    to be continued...
    I wanna go this weekend. Anyone fancy coming along with me?

    [click to see larger version]

    I spotted this in the European edition of The Guardian last Tuesday. I do love it when other publications mess up. It's an easy mistake to make. When laying out pages, I often type things like "caption for this dull photo to go here" or "Minger of the month". Let this be a lesson to me - one day, it's going to slip through.

    Tuesday, July 16, 2002

    So, you want to know about the holiday? You want to know what we got up to? You want the gossip? You want to know about the debauched foam parties in Sitges? The wild nights in Barcelona? The sex? The drugs? The rock and roll [there wasn't any]? Well, you'll have to wait.

    Till then, check out my photos of the holiday.
    More IT problems: everything is taking aaaages to print. I think I'm suffering from LaserJet lag.
    Do you think I can sue the makers of Dona Jimena De Espana biscuits under the Trade Descriptions Act?

    "Assorted Spanish Delights, individually wrapped," reads the blurb on the fancy box.

    Now, there is an assortment things which may well be Spanish, and they are indeed individually wrapped. But "delights"? I think not. Unless you take delight in eating asbestos dust, belly-button fluff and talcum powder. The office has been echoing with the sound of free-loading colleagues hacking up hairballs.
    Yes, I am back, and had a wonderful holiday. I am tanned and should be relaxed. However, after spending the morning fighting with my computer, any good vibrations I had acquired over the last ten days in Spain are being seriously eroded. The IT guy has spent an hour trying to get the network to recognise me, which it eventually did. But now Quark just will not start up. What on earth is an OleMainThreadWndName error anyway? Olé!

    Thursday, July 04, 2002

    Right, we're off on holiday. But, thanks to the marvels of technology, you can see what we're up to in Spain with the super-advanced SwishCam™. Simply reload the page to see what Marcus and I are doing right now!

    See you when we get back.
    Maggie Thatcher is decapitated.
    Tony Banks, said that although the statue ranked "among our most controversial commissions, acts of vandalism against works of art can never be tolerated in a civilised society". Clearly!

    Nigella Lawson's fridge is unplugged. Man's decomposing head found in the deep-freeze.
    1. I am in an absolutely wonderful mood today. This is because:
    (a) the sun is shining
    (b) I've had three early, alcohol-free nights in a row
    (c) I have, against all odds, sent the mag to the printers two days early
    (d) I have a wonderful boyfriend
    (e) we're off on holiday tomorrow morning
    (f) all of the above
    (g) Christ, I wish you'd hurry up and piss off already

    Wednesday, July 03, 2002

    When I posted a throw-away cryptic in-joke last night, I didn't expect it would cause a debate, among the gay weblogging - ahem - community, about Gay Pride.

    Michael expressed his doubts about the parade, the debate continued in the comments on my post and else-where.
    Jonathan, and other George Michael fans, can watch the video of Shoot the Dog, online. [Windows Media Player required.]

    I, and other non-fans, can snigger along with The Guardian at the lyrics of Shoot the Dog. [Huge pinch of salt required.]
    All week I have had some transparencies on my desk which need to be scanned for the mag. Our scanner isn't good enough for scanning trannies [yes, that is what we in 'the biz' call them] so I have been meaning all week to send them to the printers. But didn't.

    Last night, working late, cursing myself for not having arranged anything, I had a brainwave - I'd take them to Snappy Snaps on my way into work this morning. Genius! So I put them in my bag and took them home.

    This morning, I woke up bright and early, took a look at my bag and thought, "nah, can't be bothered carrying a bag today."

    So my morning looked something like this:
    08:50 - leave home
    9:10 - arrive at work
    9:30 - leave work
    9:50 - arrive at home
    9:51 - leave home
    10:15 - arrive at work, having dropped the pics off

    Thank goodness I live just three tube stops from work.

    Tuesday, July 02, 2002

    Apologies if you're squeamish, but I've gotten hideous phlegm or lymph or something of that ilk. Perfunctory link to trollop.
    On the whole, I like the guy who sits next to me at work. But he keeps up a constant barrage of grunts, sighs, yawns, snatches of songs, mutterings and mumblings. I can ignore most of the noise, but he also has a truly annoying habit of telling me things I just do not give a shit about, okay?

    This is a transcript of the last ten minutes:

    "I crashed. David, my machine just crashed." [and?]

    "Mmmmm. Hmmmmm. Pssshaw. Waaaah!"

    "They want this to be blue, but I think red would look better. What do you think?"
    "What is it? I don't know. Whatever."
    "Yeah, you're right, blue would be better."

    "Fly me to the moon! And let me play! Among! The stars!"

    "You know Sarah James?"
    [ignore him]
    "You know Sarah James?"
    "Yes, you do, the manager in finance."
    "No. I don't deal with finance."
    "You know her, small girl, always wears blue. Walks around like she owns the place."
    "Anyway, she...." [insert lengthy bit of irrelevant gossip about someone I've never heard of]

    "Grooooan! Hmmmmm. Hmmmmm. HMMMMMM!"

    "One hundred. One hundred." [louder still] "A hundred."
    "A hundred what?"
    "Huh? Oh, did I say that aloud?"
    [ignore him]
    "A hundred!"

    "Buttons! Buttons! Buttons!"

    "Better call the wife. Hmmmmm... Siiiiiiggghhh!" [imitates ringing phone]

    "I've got lovely sweaty armpits."
    Londoners, find your nearest cow.
    Like Mike, I was greatly amused by the Point-It Dictionary for Travellers free with this week's Observer. The book features pictures of thousands of everyday items, and instead of learning the word for it, you just point at it. I can't decide whether it is meant to be a useful resource or a huge, elaborate joke. I am, however, going to take it to Sitges with us for our mate Andy. My abiding memory of him on our last holiday is of him in Pans & Co, trying to order a ham and cheese baguette, shouting, very loudly, in a Luton accent, "Jambo Queezo, mate, Jambo Queezo!"

    The Point-It dictionary caused us further amusement on Sunday morning, when Marcus's absurdly attractive house-guest embarked on his own voyage of discovery, poring over the maps at the back of the book: "Wow! Is Canada above the US? Really? And Spain is next to France? Wow!"

    Attractively absurd. Ooh, news just in!
    Worrying dip in quality on last night's episode of Six Feet Under. That talking corpse was all a bit... Ally McBeal, really, wasn't it? And did my ears deceive me, or did Nate's mom call him 'David'? Still by far the best thing on telly. If only British drama ever got this good.
    This year's Wimbledon is beginning to look just like this year's World Cup. The favourites were knocked out in the first round. The plucky Englishman struggled through to the quarter finals. Where he will face... Brazil.

    I had a take-away last night from the politically-incorrectly named "Wop Pizza" on Kilburn High Road. Clearly, it's not a genuine Italian pizza place, so they may not know that Wop is a derogatory word for 'Italian'.

    On closer inspection, the 'Wop' in the name of this pizza joint stands for 'Wood Oven Pizzas'. But you think someone would have told them. Not bad pizzas for a fiver, by the way.

    Monday, July 01, 2002

    It's a sign, I tell you. As I walked into my local V-shop this lunch time, they were playing this.
    In four days' time, I shall be here. Ner ner ner ner-ner.

    There is one small problem, however. I booked the flights, leaving on Friday; and Andy booked the accommodation, starting on Saturday. We arrive in Barcelona at 11am Friday morning, and can only move into our apartment at 1pm on Saturday afternoon. What the hell are we going to do to while away the hours? Lie on the beach all day, go out for a long meal, drink loads, go clubbing, then crash on the beach again at dawn. Sounds like hell.

    Thank you to the ever-wonderful Christian and Andy for sending me some CDs, providing the perfect tacky soundtrack to our holiday.
    I got Madonna's big dick coming out of my left ear and Tobey