Monday, September 30, 2002

Part 3 of a story - read parts one and two first.

And so Marcus dragged his friend to Starbucks for an explanation.

"You were arrested for burglary? What have you done this time?"

"Well, you see, I was very drunk, and I met this guy and we couldn't go back to his, and he said he knew somewhere we could go, so he took me to this building site, and there was an open door, and we went into this office building, and went up some stairs and down a corridor and turned left and right, and found an empty office, and we, you know, had sex.

"When we finished, we left together, but then I realised I'd forgotten my bag upstairs, so I went to find it, but I got lost and wandered up and down corridors, not recognising anything. And then I heard a security guard approaching and I panicked. I wondered if I should hide, but he saw me and demanded to know what I was doing there, and then he called the police.

"So the police arrived and they put me in, like, a cage, in a big van, and then they drove me to the police station. They said they were going to charge me with breaking-and-entering and burglary. They asked me what I was doing in the building, and I didn't know what to say. I stammered some story about going there with a friend and looking for my bag, but they didn't believe me. 'What were you really doing there?' So I told them. 'That's OK,' they said, 'sex is good, but why don't you stick to Old Compton Street next time?' Then they locked me in a cell.

"The police went back into the building, and they found my bag. As I was leaving the station, they emptied out its contents, and found a pint glass [look, I had been very drunk, OK?] and a bottle of poppers. 'What's this? Room odorizer?' 'Yes, it makes your room smell lovely!' 'I think I'll give this back to you - you might be a bit depressed later and you'll need this to cheer you up!'

"What a weird night - but it was a fantastic shag!"
Friday night, Saturday morning. Marcus is snoring. Really, really snoring. I shake him, prod him, roll him onto his side. Kick him, smother him, but still he snores. I try sleeping top-to-toe, to get away from the noise, but now I'm too annoyed to sleep.

"Oh, please! Shut up!" I yell.
In his sleep, he mumbles back: "Fuck off!"

So I do. I take a blanket and some pillows and make a bed in the kitchen, on the floor, under the table. It's hard and cold and uncomfortable, but I'm secure in the self-righteous knowledge that Marcus will wake up in the middle of the night, come looking for me, find me curled up under the table, and feel really, really guilty.

He doesn't.

At 7am, the phone rings. The phone on the kitchen table. The phone directly above my head. Rings. And rings. And r-r-r-r-rings. I decide to brave the snores again, and take my pillows back into the bedroom. Minutes later, the doorbell rings. I ignore it. Then there's a knock on the bedroom window. Firm, hard raps, the kind made by policemen. I pull back the curtain and see... two policemen.

"Marcus! The police are here!"
"The police! Outside! Marcus! Marcus! MARCUS!!"

Friday, September 27, 2002

Like a lamb to the slaughter, Heather proposed her own blog to be the first guinea pig in my "What Not To Blog" project. Disappointingly, I felt the way Trinnie and Susannah would feel if asked to improve Bianca Jagger's dress sense - Nearly There is nearly perfect. I couldn't fault the witty, engaging writing, so had to resort to criticising the navigation system and telling her I didn't like the colour scheme.

Then Heather gave my site a once-over, pointing out all the embarrasing broken links and missing images. Oops!

A helpful exercise, and we're still talking to each other. I'm getting into this - I could fill Trinnie's shoes easily. [Hell, I could fill her bra easily!] Who's next?
This can't be right.
Yet it is. Weird.
Lying in bed last night, I started thinking about The Guardian competition. I wondered why some people didn't make the shortlist. In a couple of cases, the possible reasons seemed obvious.

I wanted to say to him: you're so talented at such-and-such, why fill your site with the other padding? I wanted to say to her: enough of the this-and-that, already. I wanted to tell him: stop taking it so seriously. I wanted to tell him: do you have any idea how good you are?

This led me to what seemed - in my half-sleep - a genius idea:

This is, of course, a take on the BBC's What Not To Wear. You - or your 'friends' - nominate your blog for a style check from blogworld's style guru [me, of course]. I turn into Trinny [remember: Trinny is skinny] and give your blog the once-over, really letting you know where you're going wrong, and where you're going right. In turn, you become Susannah, letting me know exactly what works, and what doesn't, on my site; what you wish I would do more of, what you wish I would shut the fuck up about, right now.

After that, of course, we'd probably hate each other.

Do we have any volunteers? E-mail me.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

I didn't go to the Kirsty MacColl memorial concert on Monday. Much as I love Kirsty's songs, I had misgivings about hearing them possibly being butchered by a cast of well-meaning friends and admirers. The reviews of the show have been positive, and - thanks to the BBC's new digital radio channel 6Music, I can listen to highlights from the show, and from Janice Long's documentary about Kirsty, online.
If you're from Iceland, please tell me how and why you - and hundreds of your compatriots - have discovered my site in the last day or two.
And so the winner of the Guardian's Best Weblog competition is... a blog I've never heard of. Which is exactly the way it should be. Congratulations to Scary Duck, who wins £1,000. I've just had a quick read - seems a deserving winner. I liked the PiSS story.

Congratulations also to the runners-up who win £100 each: I Make Content, Green Fairy, Plenty Of Taste, Linkmachinego [which was singled out for the quality of its links] and Blogjam [which was voted best-designed blog].

Congratulations also to everyone who made the shortlist, especially 'my mates'. And commiserations to those who - perplexingly - didn't [Troubled Diva, Blogadoon, et al].

Congratulations also to me, and to Blogjam again, for being the only two British blogs in Web User magazine's own list of the top ten blogs in the world. I make that three mags this month. Can I have my thousand pounds now, please?

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

God, that's quick! You may have noticed a sentence at Amazon - something along the lines of "David, make £193.79. Sell your past purchases at today."

"What have I got to lose," I thought to myself, and put on offer four CDs that I never listen to. Two hours later, I've already sold three of them, making £25. Much quicker and easier than Ebay. Perhaps I should put my entire collection up for sale - I could make a fortune.

Amazon offers a credit towards postage. You can sell CDs, DVDs, videos, books, toys, software and computer games, but you don't have to have bought the item through Amazon in order to sell it.
I have just booked myself a flight to Bologna, leaving Lodon on Monday the 14th of October and returning Friday the 18th. Any advice on where I should stay? Where I should eat? What I should see?

Some links for me to check out later:
Piazza Maggiore
More hotels
Map of Italy
Map of Bologna
Fraser has been very generous with typically quirky links of late. I especially liked this this one.
You know, I really should walk into work more often. Especially when listening to Africanism, an album of African-influenced house mixed by French DJ Bob Sinclar. It's fantastic - light and breezy and summery. Oh, I know it's the worst kind of ethno-tourism, the same lazy thinking that clogged up V-Shop's shelves with Latin House compilations this summer, but when you've got an early morning trudge through Zone 2 ahead of you, who cares? The mellow house grooves and the African percussion turned my ears into a secret groovy VIP terrace at Fiction.

Mr Sinclar, being French, understandably concentrates on songs from French West Africa. I zoomed into work, a huge grin on my face, bouncing on my heels, my fingers involuntarily shelling peas, shelling peas, shelling peas. When the album reached its one South African track, Kazet by Mahlatini and the Mahotella Queens [as discussed on this site two weeks ago], my quick walk broke into a shuffle - half jog, half dance. Yes, I toyi-toyi'd down Finchley Road.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

The Swish Guide to South African Music - Part 8
"Weekend Special" by Brenda and the Big Dudes - 1986 [download the mp3]

Brenda Fassie burst onto the scene with this song in 1986. Her huge success and fame led her to be nicknamed "Madonna". But after a few more bubblegum hits, things started to go very wrong.

The 1990s were a rough time for Brenda. She was often too drunk to perform. She developed a major coke habit. In 1990 she was sued for fraud. In 1992 she was convicted of assaulting a photographer. The following year, penniless, she lost her house and her flat. Then came the lurid tabloid headlines screaming that Brenda was a lesbian. In 1994, her female lover died of a drug overdose in bed next to her, in a seedy Hillbrow hotel.

This tragedy inspired Brenda to clean up her act, and she returned with a mission, and a new, more powerful voice, scoring many massive hits. She was very quick to latch onto the wave of pro-Mandela sentiments, releasing the smash hit "Black President". She is incredibly popular even today, featuring in Time magazine, and spearheading the Kwaito phenomenon [a uniquely South African mix of disco, R&B, ragga, hip-hop and house].

"Weekend Special" is Brenda before the drugs, before the fame, before the tragedy - and its lyrics are pertinent to me and Marcus, especially during tube-strike-week:
You don't come around to see me in the week
You don't have the chance to call me on the phone
But Friday night, I know, I must be ready for you
Just waiting for you
I'm your weekend, weekend special
Let me know what you think of this. Buy South African CDs online at
On a related note, read this interview with Kirsty MacColl's mother, about her daughter. [Whose memorial concert was held yesterday at The Royal Festival Hall.]
Serendipity. Reading an obituary of Joan Littlewood yesterday, I wished I'd known more about her, and I determined to do some research about her life and works today. When I came in this morning, the following e-mail was in my in-box:
Greetings from Brooklyn, NY, USA:

Here I am this rainy Monday morning reading these two very long obituaries for Joan Littlewood, full of so much fascinating information I never paid attention to when she was alive, I wish I had, and I come across this idea she had late in life for a Fun Palace, reviving the tradition of 17th Century Vauxhall Gardens, which I know nothing about. So I make a search on and come about a flurry of information, all very fascinating and informative, but not very many graphics. And it is by this serendipitous cyber way that I come across your alphabet on the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, which, after all, might well be something like what Joan Littlewood had in mind, only on a smaller scale.
I knew nothing about this, so I read a few more obituaries and did a few Google searches, and got completely caught up in her fascinating life.

Joan Littlewood was born in Stockwell in 1914, the illegitimate daughter of a young Cockney servant girl. She won a scholarship to RADA, but she hated the pomposity of it, and decided to walk to Liverpool, intending to stow away on a boat to America. She walked 130 miles to Burton-on-Trent before collapsing from exhaustion.

In 1935, she married Ewan MacColl, and they set up a radical theatre group, The Theatre Of Action. She and MacColl were blacklisted by the BBC as subversives, and one of their plays was closed down by the police. Her marriage to MacColl dissolved when she fell in love with Gerry Raffles. [MacColl went on to write "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", and to father Kirsty MacColl.]

Her theatre group took over The Theatre Royal in Stratford, and many of their productions transferred to the West End. In the 50s and 60s, she was perhaps the most influential director in Britain. Her biggest success was Oh What A Lovely War! But then, just as the Theatre Royal became hers, she gave it all up for a brief, abortive sojourn to Nigeria to work on a film with Wole Soyinka.

Her Big Idea was to create a Fun Palace, reviving the tradition of the 18th-century Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Together with maverick architect Cedric Price, they envisioned an entertainment promenade, with music, lectures, plays, restaurants under an all-weather dome. She nearly did it, but the phrase "fun palace", gave councillors a vision of actors shagging in the bushes.

In the seventies, she abandoned London and moved to Paris. At just five-foot-two, Joan Littlewood was described as a gap-toothed, chain-smoking, croaky-voiced, bobble-hatted cross between a Tartar warrior and a Cockney char. She died last Friday, September 20 2002, aged 87.

Cobbled together from obituaries in the Telegraph, the Independent and The Guardian.

Monday, September 23, 2002

My ten photos for Rannie's project 300 exposures in 30 days are now online.
Damn those countryside people, mucking up our nice city with their muddy boots. We had planned to visit a few London Open House properties on Sunday, but all the ones we'd hoped to see were closed because of the march.

We did, however, manage to see a few places on Saturday. We started with the magnificent Gothic revivalist Midland Grand Hotel - or St Pancras Chambers. As the hotel closed down in the thirties, it is understandably run-down. But the gloom was relieved by an art installation, Shine - a collection of works using light. Bright silver star-shaped balloons floated up the stairwells. [pics removed to conserve bandwidth]

Saturday, September 21, 2002

This just shows how much I rely on the web. It's nearly always my first port of call, even when there are far easier resources.

It's Saturday morning. I'm sitting here in Marcus's kitchen, using his laptop. I wonder what time it is. According to the clock on his computer, it's quarter-to-nine. At night. In 1904. The logical thing would be to go into the bedroom and look at the time on my mobile, or switch on the telly, or phone 123. But no, I endeavour to find the correct time on the web. Which I do, at The World Time Server.

Marcus could clearly use their free utility which keeps your computer's clock synchronised with the Atomic Clock, but it's Windows only.
Michel Gondry

Friday, September 20, 2002

Yet another post from me beginning "I've been much of one for..."

I've never been much of one for scents or after-shaves or colognes or fragrances or whatever we call them. I have never found one I liked. Until now. Marcus bought me DKNY For Him and I can't get enough of it - as my colleagues may be discovering. Actually, not being a regular scent-wearer, I have no idea how much to use - one spray? two? - or where to spray it - neck? face? behind the ears? [how genteel].

Where was I? Oh yes, DKNY For Men - it smells so good, it makes me hungry. It's kind of citrussy. Or, as the website puts it: "Fresh. Clean. Sexy. A fragrance for the urban man on the go. Combines a tangerine ginger infusion and crisp ivy leaf with juniper berry and cool white spice. Creamy sandalwood coupled with the warmth of red maple complete the fragrance."

Juniper berries? Spice? Tangerine? No wonder I like it - I smell like a gin-and-orange.
Seems I wasn't the only one watching surreal Scandinavian pop promos last night. If the bizarre e-mail Marcus sent me last night is anything to go by, then ABBA - The Definitive Collection must have pretty strong hallucinogenic properties. His flatmate, it appeared, had turned into a peach melba.
I've always been a late adopter of technology. I'm a natural sceptic. But by 1991, some of my favourite albums were no longer being released on vinyl, so I realised I'd have to give in and buy a CD player. My Philips portable player convinced me. OK, it was clunky, and took four batteries, which lasted just one hour. But hey, it was groovy and it was, you know, the future. In an attempt to win over more converts, artists would include an track on the CD that wasn't on the album. Admittedly, these extra tracks were usually crap, but they were, you know, extra.

I've always felt the same way about DVD. Firstly, I've never seen much point buying movies - how many times do you really want to watch American Pie 2? Secondly, I'd seen too many formats fall by the wayside - laser discs, betamax, CDi. What was the guarantee that DVDs were going to last?

Fortunately, I didn't have to buy one, because Jonathan gave me a PlayStation 2 for my birthday. I must admit that for six months, it has sat neglected, forlorn, on top of the video. But last night I plunged into the world of DVD, and bought Amelie and Memento [£20 for two at Virgin] and Bjork's Volumen.

The Bjork collection is astonishing. The videos directed by Michel Gondry have a dream-like surreal logic: Bjork is driving a massive truck bigger than most buildings; she pulls over and goes to the dentist who turns out to be a gorilla; the gorilla pulls a diamond out of her mouth; Bjork grabs the diamond and runs out into the desert carrying it; it gets bigger and bigger till she is struggling to carry it; she opens the hood of the trunk and throws the gem into the engine - which is actually a set of silver teeth; then she runs into a museum, chasing herself through the corridors till she comes across an exhibition - a beautiful man lies in a deep sleep, perhaps dead; Bjork runs back to the truck and gets a timebomb; she sets it by the sleeping beauty and runs outside; the museum blows up; the sleeping beauty awakes and is united with Bjork.

Fantastic stuff, and when you get to the seen-it-a-million-times Spike Jonze promo for "It's Oh So Quiet", you can just press 'Next". How clever.

Just as in the early days of CD, most films on DVD advertise 'special features'. What's so special? So you get to hear the director and the art director chatting over the movie: "Remember, this is the bit where we shot her coming down the stairs?" "yeah, took ages." "Hmmm... turned out well, though." "Yeah." "Hmmm."

Shut it!

Memento is perhaps the perfect film to watch on DVD. If you've seen the film, you'll know that it starts at the end, then works it way back to the beginning. The DVD contains the 'Memento Mori' special feature, enabling you to watch a reconstructed version of the film in chronological order, starting with the end credits. Genius!

Call me a convert.
Just some of the search requests people used last night to find this site:
  • "feargal sharkey" semen
  • "with a piano attached to it"
  • Justin Timberlake clogs
  • chig quiz 2001 answers

    And my personal favourite:
  • how old does a baby double headed amazon have to be before you feed it food other than hand
  • Wednesday, September 18, 2002

    This is one for the Six Feet Under fans.

    This site seems to be for a legitimate Italian coffin manufacturer. Tasteful. Now scroll down to where it says "Cofani funebri e fascino" and click on the links under that heading. Like this one, for instance.

    It has to be a spoof, surely. We need a friendly Italian to tell us. Luca?
    My mantra for today: Change is good, change is good, change is good

    Tuesday, September 17, 2002

    Is September 11 a sacred cow? Do you make jokes about it? Do you think people shouldn't be allowed to? It's a difficult area, and I'm not entirely sure what I believe. This Quicktime movie, splicing together various Frank Sinatra performances to suggest Ol' Blue Eyes himself was responsible for the disaster, is brilliantly done. It's very funnny, and in very, very, very poor taste. But you have a choice. Don't click on it if you think you'll be offended. But - if you think you can handle it - watch it, laugh, cringe and feel very, very guilty. Just don't blame me for it, OK?
    At the top of Shoot Up Hill in Kilburn, there's an illuminated poster holder. I've mentioned it before. The posters in it - rotated on a monthly basis - are often on the theme of gun violence in Harlesden. These posters look like they've been knocked up by someone at Brent Council - someone in-house who once did a Photoshop course and who fancies himself as a bit of a graphic designer. Someone with some very strange ideas.

    The latest poster has a banner headline "STOP THE KILLING" and a picture of a young black policeman encircled by curved bullets [click on thumbnail below to see a large version]. A circle of violence, you see?

    But no, that's not what I see. Go on, click on the thumbnail below to see an enlarged photo of the detail. It's a penis. Or a dildo. Well, it is, isn't it? [Please tell me it's not just me!]

    What are they trying to tell us? Stop this black-on-black vibrator violence? I picture gangs roaming the streets of west London, attacking each other with Jeff Stryker replicas. Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "Harlesden Massive"...!
    Phil Shelley in today's Mirror
    The Mercury Music Prize is on tonight on (of all things) BBC4 - the country's LEAST happening TV station.

    While Shelleyvision dreams of "Miss Dy-na-mi-te-ee-hee" winning the props and the prize money, The Streets - youth culture's answer to Pam Ayres - will probably take it.

    Dandruff. Vile stuff. Scalp slough. White fluff, collar and cuff.


    Fortunately, I don't suffer from dandruff. Oh, I do go through phases where I have a dry, flaky scalp, but that's not the same thing. Quite the opposite, in fact - dandruff is usually associated with oily scalp and hair. [And how can Head & Shoulders claim to cure both?] My scalp gets overly dry, especially in winter. I can feel it now, getting a bit itchy up there, readying itself to attack in midwinter. I get days where even my eyebrows seem to be shedding. Days where a vigorous rub of the scalp results in a minor dust storm.

    But a dry scalp is easy to remedy. A bit of conditioner or moisturiser and the problem goes away. I feel really sorry for blokes who have a bad dandruff problem. And it almost always is blokes. Like the one on the tube this morning; his three-piece suit both pinstriped and speckled. Huge glossy white snowflakes hung in his lank greasy hair.

    I wanted to take him aside and say, "Mate, maaaate [in my best Davina McCall] - be sensible. Cut your hair short. Wash it. And stop putting hair oil in it.

    "Or at least, I hope that is hair oil."

    Monday, September 16, 2002

    Nearly twenty years after their last single, Soft Cell are back with a new single. Monoculture, released today, is the first single from their forthcoming all-new album, Cruelty Without Beauty.

    Over a very Pet-Shop-Boys-ish electro-disco backing, Marc's lyrics touch on globalisation and the homogenisation of culture - a world of fast food chains and an endless supply of identikit boybands. A world where cult stars, such as Marc, are ignored or sneered at.
    Why don't I just give up
    And submit to the great God of Bland
    All my exotic gestures
    No longer in demand
    The single is released on two CDs and a twelve-inch. CD One contains the video and a witty Playgroup remix, which knowingly references Soft Cell's 80s sound. It's good, and you should buy it, if only for some relief from the identikit boybands. Let's have some eyeliner and dodgy dramatics on Top Of The Pops again.

    Blogger Pro™ - Power Push-Button Publishing

    It's nearly three o'clock, and I haven't written a thing here yet. That's because I've been busy. Busy trying to find the answers to Meg's fiendish quiz, that is.

    Friday, September 13, 2002

    It's not finished yet, but I just had an idea for my new 404 error page.
    I caught the tail-end of Diners last night. We eavesdrop on the conversations between couples seated in a restaurant, switching from one conversation to another. A little like being a waiter, I should imagine. Last night's couples were:
  • A bloke about to propose to his girlfriend
  • Two transvestite prostitutes
  • Roland Rivron and Paul Ross
  • Two effeminate actorrrrs who perform charity work in prisons
    You can probably work out which couples had the following conversations. Now swap them round - much more fun.

    "What are you doing down there? Get up! Everyone's staring at us!"
    "Will you marry me?"

    "What sort of cocks do you like? Big ones? Small ones?"
    "It's not the size. You know, there are some cocks that are just ugly."
    "Mmm. I had one the other day. It was huge. It looked like a banana tree."
    "What, with leaves?"
    "Yeah. What? No, you know."

    "So, who do you think is funny?"
    "Pete and Dud, they were really funny."
    "How about John Thompson?"
    "No. He used to be, but not now."
    "Simon Day?"
    "On a good day."
    "Steve Coogan?"
    "Vic and Bob?"

    "I've said this before, you've heard me say it every time we go down to see those poor men behind bars, but they are experiencing Shakespeare the way it is designed to be - not as words on the page - but through the lugholes"
    "Yes," [tears welling up, thumps chest repeatedly] "from here."

    "Me and your dad was watching the game. Hyypia scored with a lovely header from ten yards..."
    "And with the adrenaline, I said to your dad, 'I'm going to ask your daughter to marry me.' "
    "Oh, that's lovely."
    "And he said, 'I'm sure she'll be delighted.' "

    "The image I'm going for is sophisticated bohemian, rather than your blowsy tart look."
    "Personally, I wouldn't wear what you've got on. It suits you, though."
    "You wouldn't wear it?"
    "I should hope not."

    "What about female comedians? Dawn? Jennifer?"
    "Kathy Burke? She's funny."
    "Yes, she's funny."
    "And sexy. Funny and sexy. I bet she'd be great in the sack. I'd love to do her. Did you ever do her?"
    "Er, no."

    "Some of these men, they've never been given a chance, you know."
    "Yes, it just shows that inside every one of us is a child."
    "Watching that black chap the other day, well, I just, I mean he really came out of himself."

    "I can't believe this. You want to marry me?"
    "But why would you want to marry me?"
    "I love you. You mean the world to me."
    "Oh, it's so romantic"

    "Some of my punters, you know, actually want me to fuck them. I tell them I'm not into that."
    "Me neither. I do have a strap-on that I use sometimes. Means I can carry on reading my magazine."
  • Vin Diesel - the wine for women in comfortable shoes?

    Thursday, September 12, 2002

    The inquest into the death of Stuart Lubbock, who was found dead in Michael Barrymore's swimming pool, continues. "Killed In A Sex Game?" screams The Mirror: "Father of two Stuart Lubbock, 31, might also have been sexually abused - a postmortem found extensive bruising and lacerations in his anus." Forensic pathologist Professor Christopher Milroy comments, "There were significant injuries to the anal canal caused by a relatively large object such as a fist."

    Now, I don't wish to call into doubt Prof Milroy's credentials, but just as there are men who can quite easily accommodate a fist without any bruising or laceration, so there are those who can't take a finger without bleeding. And, anyway, wouldn't a penis be one logical conclusion?

    As reported in The Guardian, Michael Mansfield, QC for Barrymore, interviewed fellow party guest Kylie Merritt:
    Mr Mansfield asked: "Did you see any sexual assault of any kind on Stuart?"
    She replied: "No." "Did you hear him shouting out or crying out in excruciating pain at any time you were there?" asked Mr Mansfield.
    Ms Merritt said she had not.
    Asked by the lawyer whether Lubbock had appeared to be in such discomfort that he had difficulty walking or sitting down during the evening, she added: "He seemed fine."

    Stuart's brother, Kevin, went on to testify: "Stuart was not gay or bi-sexual. He loved women and he could pull lots of girls. He never spoke of a man coming on to him. It was women, women, women. It is like saying the Pope does not live in Rome."

    Claire Wicks, Stuart's former partner and mother of his two daughters, said "I recall watching the programme Queer As Folk and he would say 'fucking perverts'."
    There's a comedy sketch I remember from an old, otherwise-forgotten British comedy series - I think it was "The Pink Medicine Show". There's two builders perched side-by-side on a bit of scaffolding, and they open their lunchboxes.
    "Oh no," one of them groans, "not cheese sandwiches again. I bloody hate cheese sandwiches."
    "Well, tell the wife you don't like them, and get her to make you something else."
    "No, I make 'em myself."

    I don't like sausages. They're nasty, horrible things. A bit of pigskin stuffed with unmentionables. But every morning, I go down to the canteen and order a sausage bap.

    And now I've got heartburn.
    How much does a microwave oven cost? Go on, hazard a guess.

    In Woolworths yesterday, I had one of my "that can't be right" moments. You see, I've never owned a microwave oven. (Even that redundant 'oven' gives me away.) I don't exactly spend much time in the kitchen, anyway, and If I'm honest, I don't trust microwaves. To me, they'll always be a bit scary, a bit newfangled, a bit space age, a bit magic.

    And they're really expensive, right? Wrong. Woolies has got this special, aimed at students entering university. A massive stack of microwaves dominates the shopfloor. I saw the price tag on them and laughed, "that can't be right". £39.99? Someone's made an error. You couldn't even get a pressure cooker for that. [Oh, someone explain to the youngsters what a pressure cooker is. Was.]

    Alongside that huge stack of boxes, there's another special offer designed to tempt students. A three-in-one offer of: a kettle, a toaster and a sandwich maker. £29.99. For all three. That can't be right.

    There is a drawback, however. The appliances come in a vile shade of algae green. Still, that'll blend in nicely with the average student's digs.

    Wednesday, September 11, 2002

    The Swish Guide to South African Music - Part 7
    "Kazet" by Mahlatini and the Mahotella Queens (remix) - 1987 [download the mp3]

    Born in 1938, Simon Nkabinde grew up in Alexandra, a township outside Johannesburg. As a teenager, he led a traditional choir, performing at weddings and parties. In 1964 he met Hilda Tloubatla, Mildred Mangxola, and Nobesuthu Mbadu - they became known as the Mahotella Queens. He became known as Mahlatini, the "Lion of Soweto".

    They are sometimes credited with inventing mbaqanga - a mixture of various types of traditional music (Zulu, Sotho, Shangaan, Xhosa) mixed with Marabi (South African jazz) and R&B, soul and gospel. Mahlathini's bass groaning, with the close harmonies of the Queens, made the band one of the most popular in African music in the '60s and '70s, but the group disbanded in the late '70s.

    In 1984, they made a comeback with the worldwide hit "Yebo!", recorded with The Art of Noise. In 1987, together with their producer West Nkosi, they recorded an album in Paris, called 'Paris Soweto'. From the album, this track, "Kazet", was an international hit. The lyrics apparently deal with how the apartheid authority bulldozed township homes, driving away the inhabitants. But you wouldn't know it from the infectious, upbeat, dancey music.

    The group appeared at the Nelson Mandela birthday concert in London in 1988 and, in 1991, they performed in front of 500,000 people at New York's Central Park. Mahlatini died in 1999, but the Mahotella Queens still tour, recently winning 'world music artist of the year' at the 2002 Womex Conference in Berlin.

    See this excellent article on the development of South African music.

    Let me know what you think of these. Buy South African CDs online at
    You could read the hundreds of newspaper pages devoted to rembering September 11. You could watch the hours and hours of interviews and analysis on TV. Or you could just read 110 Stories by John M Ford - the most eloquent and moving account of that day.
    "With resolution wanting, reason runs
    To characters and symbols, noughts and ones."
    I'm in Istanbul. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, brought on by the cheap flights available on the eve of September 11. The place I'm staying is an absolute dump - almost cave-like. There is an arch-shaped room, with a single bed covered with a horrible orange bedspread, and the room has a curtain instead of a front door. Still, it is gorgeously situated, with a fantastic view of the Blue Mosque. I arrived last night just as the sun was setting, and the cool blue twilight about the room persuaded me to ignore my misgivings.

    I immediately set about photographing the deep indigo sky through the arch. Annoyingly, the washing line in the yard kept getting in the way of my shots, so I went outside to move some of the washing. That's when I noticed him - a tiny, dirty urchin, perhaps five years old, playing in the dust. He shouted something at me in Turkish, I mumbled something back in English. He decided I was funny, I decided he was cute. He followed me around all evening, watching me take pictures of his family home. He babbled away at me, no doubt telling me fascinating things about the village.

    I ran out of film and went back to the room to get a fresh roll. I left the camera on the bed and went for a pee in the filthy toilet. When I came back, my camera had gone, and so had the kid.

    I ran out into the yard, screaming blue murder, but there was no sign of him. I tried ringing the landlady's doorbell, as I assumed she was his mother, but all I got was a recorded message in Turkish.

    I went back into the room and told Jonathan. [Oh, I haven't mentioned, he and I are travelling together.] Jonathan shrieked, "You left the camera in the open? You stupid twat!" and came out to help me find the boy. We did eventually find him on the floor in a corner of the yard, playing with the camera. Or, rather, the bits of the camera - he had taken it apart and was gleefully unrolling the film.

    I snatched him up and bent him over my knee, giving him three short, sharp slaps to the bum. He screamed, then dropped to the ground, crying, and looking at me with incomprehension and betrayal. "He doesn't understand it was wrong," said Jonathan. I felt guilty, but we had to get ready for dinner.

    We went back into our room, and we discussed what we would wear for dinner. "Just casual," I said, "We're on holiday - I'll just wear my shorts." While we were getting ready, Andy and Kevin, and my dad and his wife Jenny, popped in to see if we were ready. They were dressed smart-casual, so I put my jeans on. Then my MD and his wife, and the head of finance came in, along with the Swedish woman who works in the office behind me. They were dressed up to the nines, with Marie stunning in a gold sari.

    My boss peered strangely at me and said, "God! What's wrong with your face?" I rushed off to the bathroom and looked in the mirror - my face was puffy; my skin was deep pink and had a weird rough texture. My eyes were droopy and set deep in my swollen face, hidden behind a deep layer of mucus.

    I screamed and called for my dad, who was having a drink on the terrace. Jenny took one look at my face and said, "He's doing a Reenie." Fortunately, their friend Reenie was in the next room, so they asked her what she did whenever her face went like this.

    "It's dehydration," she said. "When's the last time you had any water?"

    I had been so busy, what with finding the room and taking the photos, I hadn't had time to stop for a drink. A couple of hours? All day? I had ignored my thirst, but now it was raging. I had to drink. Must have some water. Need some water. And thus, yes, I awoke. In London. With a raging thirst. But not a puffy face, thankfully.

    Tuesday, September 10, 2002

    In an autumnal mood, I read this, and tears pricked my eyes.
    [via Duncan]
    Alerted by Tom, I popped to Smiths on the way home yesterday and flipped through a copy of Internet Magazine. And there it is, in yet another article about weblogging - a box headed "Essential weblogs". And there, along with plasticbag and not so soft and wil wheaton, is this:
    Swish Cottage: A gay Londoner blogs about life, defaecation and, er, Justin Timberlake.

    Or something like that anyway. I didn't buy the magazine. After all, the internet is free, and what is the point of a magazine about the internet, printed on paper? No matter how much I tried making my hand into a pointy-finger cursor and pressing on the links, nothing happened.

    An 'essential weblog'? An oxymoron, if ever I heard one. But thanks for the vote of confidence, even though something tells me they just skimmed the most popular blogs. There's a lot of blogs out there less inessential than this one. I shall endeavour to give you more about life and more about defaecation. Oh yes, there'll be a lot more shit at Swish Cottage. It's essential.

    Update: Seems I'm mentioned in this month's Gay Times, too. Thanks to more a way of life for letting me know. Ah yes, there it is, page 65: "The exploits and listenings of a gay Londoner can be found at swishcottage; interpret the site name any way you wish. Neat patter, photos and insights on running around London as a young gay man. At the other end of the UK, the nakedblog does the same for Edinburgh."

    Hey, Peter - we're young again!
    The television blares apocalypse, the alarm clock drills incessantly. I ignore both, cocooning myself in my smelly duvet.

    Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen and pour myself a cup of damnation! I've run out of coffee. Will Mark would notice if I nick a spoonful of his? Just call me J Alfred Prufrock. Stand the mug in the sink under a blast of hot water to dislodge the mould. Take the coffee into the bath. Lie submerged, unmoving. One of our submarines.

    Slack M&S will have to do, and a wouldn't-be-seen-dead shirt. Riffle through the post. URGENT DELIVERY for me. It's from Oxfam - oh joy, perhaps they've sent me a care package. Lock and double-lock the door, weave around the maroon crocodile of pre-school tots. A bus is at the stop. I run uncoordinated and flash my pass. It has expired. Seriously consider rolling down the hill.

    Cut someone up at the ticket machine. Not literally, but don't push me, OK? Vaguely scan a rubbish book, taking nothing in. I notice the smell of burning - that's not me, is it? The train rattles on, above ground at first. I go with it into the tunnel of despond. The Lilac Time in my ears:

    It was the day before the day before yesterday
    When we thought everything would now go our way
    We inherited a fortune of innocence
    And they took it all away

    We travel on the last bus from sanity
    Through provincetown to cities of obscurity
    And somewhere down the road it occurs to me
    That I might have missed my stop

    But I will not
    Return to yesterday
    Or smooth out the human clay
    We'll face this new England like we always have
    In a fury of denial
    We'll go out dancing on the tiles
    Help me down

    Monday, September 09, 2002

    I somehow managed to miss this news item: Durex have launched a condom designed to prolong sex. The Performa condom contains benzocaine - an anaesthetic gel - inside the teat. This desensitises the penis, delaying orgasm.
    In the early 90s, Michael Alig was the outrageous, flamboyant King Of Clubs. He aspired to be the new Andy Warhol. The parties he threw at New York clubs Tunnel and Limelight were legendary. There was the Unnatural Acts revue, where an amputee danced until his wooden leg fell off, and a wasted girl from the audience humped both the stump and the prosthesis. Another young lady inserted soda bottles into her various orifices. Then there was the Blood Feast party where his friend James St James was wheeled around on a hospital trolley covered in offal, surrounded by buckets of blood. An orgy of sequins, glitter, blood and ketamine.

    In 1996, drug dealer and club kid Andre "Angel" Melendez, famous for the huge feathered wings he wore on his back to parties, disappeared. Alig went around boasting that he had murdered him. No-one believed him until his body was found floating in a cardboard box off Staten Island. He had been bludgeoned, injected with Drano, dismembered, and tossed into the river. Alig was arrested and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

    In 1999, a documentary, Party Monster, was released, containing interviews with Alig and other members of the clubbing scene, from before and after his arrest. It's a fascinating, lurid look at depravity, but it's not an easy film. It was cheap, and assembled from various sources, of varying quality, and Alig and co were not exactly likeable people - or great actors.

    The film-makers are remaking Party Monster, with Macauly Culkin playing Alig. The film - due to be released next year - also stars Lucy Liu, Marilyn Manson and Chloe Sevigny. The script is based on Disco Bloodbath, the book St James wrote about that era. Although the budget is less than $5 million, and it's shot on digital video, I have high hopes for the film, as it's produced by Killer Films (Boys Don't Cry, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch).
    Happy anniversary!
    The weekend after next is London Open House weekend. Five hundred buildings across the city open their doors to the public. We intend to visit St Pancras Hotel, St Pancras Church and perhaps the British Library. On Sunday, we want to see Lambeth Palace.

    Have you been to any of the previous Open House days? What did you see? What should we see?
    Saturday: went here and loved it, gorged on roast shank of lamb here, watched this, went for a drink here, where we picked up free VIP tickets for this.

    Sunday: Fantastic show here. Then drank too many turbo shandies (half this, half that) while we chatted to him, and watched him remove all his clothes.

    Monday: Had a major one of these.

    Friday, September 06, 2002

    "If I lived in the UK I would defiantly be buying this Magazine. It is full of ideas, some interesting article, a few naughty things and all those prizes you can win."

    Isn't the internet marvellous?

    Isn't The Internet Marvellous? Part 437
    So you want to write about Spike's new Saturday pre-clubbing night at Duke's, but you can't remember what it's called, or what time it's on. It's too new for Google to know anything about. You wonder if Spike has his own website, so you search for Spike Crash Sleaze but all you find is Ian's site. You think about the Boyz Magazine website, but - when you eventually find it*, you discover it's totally useless.

    And then you remember that QX magazine puts its entire edition online as a pdf, including the adverts.

    Thus I can tell you about 1st Destination, a new night, starting tomorrow, at Duke's, 9pm till late. It's another genius idea from the mind of Spike - designed as the first destination of anyone who is planning to go clubbing in south London that night. You can pick up queue-jump tickets and passes for Crash, Queer Nation, etc. We are promised sexy go-go boys and DJ sets from Seans Sirrs and Talullah. It's a fiver to get in, but free before 10pm.

    In other Duke's news, Rocktronica have left the venue under a [very small] cloud. But there's a silver lining: they've relocated to The Loft [the upstairs bar at The Yard]. Sundays, 5:30pm till 10. They do have a website.

    *So the Boyz website turns out to be exactly where you should have expected it to be - - but you're sure it didn't used to be there. And why doesn't a Google search for boyz magazine gay uk turn up their website? And then you wonder whatever happened to their internet service provider thing?
    Why review songs, when you can review ringtones?

    Triple X

    For me, the key moment in xXx comes near the end of the film, when Vin Diesel pushes aside a police sniper, grabs a bazooka, and says, "It's time to stop thinking cop, and start thinking PlayStation!"

    The whole movie is the ultimate computer game. Set in a lovingly recreated Prague, there's the motorbiking level, the skateboarding level, the undercover cop level, and - best of all - the snowboarding level. The good guys are indestructible, the baddies speak in bad Russian accents, and everybody has a huge torso, seemingly made up of a limited number of polygons. Why there isn't an X-Box version of Triple-X is beyond me.

    In plot and style, the film is James-Bond-meets-Die-Hard. There's gadgets galore, jokey put-downs, spectacular explosions and awesome action sequences. The mountain section, where Vin Diesel outruns an avalanche by snowboarding down vertical drops, got a spontaneous round of applause from last night's screening audience.

    It's fun, it's dumb, it's exciting, it'll do wonders for Prague's tourism coffers, and turns Vin Diesel into a proper movie star, despite looking like Deputy Dawg on steroids. Go see.

    Thursday, September 05, 2002

    Spotted [perhaps not the best choice of phrase] at the William in Hampstead last night:
    As I said yesterday, Chig's project to find The Blogging Community's favourite number one singles of the last fifty years, really got me thinking. I started by going through the list backwards, from the current number one, back to Darius, back to the other Pop Idol finalists. Back to when I met Marcus, to when I was going out with Roger, to when I was ill, to my holiday in Amsterdam, to coming to live in the UK, to breaking up with Pano, to going out with him, to my first gay club, to leaving home, to the boys in the showers, to high school...

    ...then I attacked the list from the other end. A hundred or so songs from my pre-history, from pop's pre-history. Then the year I was born, to the song my mum used to love, to the song me and Catherine Fisher used to sing hiding under the tables in infant school, to watching Top Of The Pops, to moving to South Africa, to the song I sang in a primary school revue, to high school, to the boys in the showers...

    ...meeting myself coming back, my memories caught up with my life.

    I'm having great difficulty narrowing down my favourites to just ten. Chig wants to keep everyone's votes secret, but I don't think I'd be spoiling things too much by posting a shortlist of some of my favourite UK number one singles. Please head over to Chig and cast your vote.

    Cilla Black - Anyone Who Had A Heart [1964]
    Roy Orbison - It's Over [1964]
    Sonny And Cher - I Got You Babe [1965]
    Rolling Stones - Get Off Of My Cloud [1965]
    Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made For Walking [1966]
    Dusty Springfield - You Don't Have To Say You Love Me [1966]
    Rolling Stones - Paint It Black [1966]
    Beach Boys - Good Vibrations [1966]
    Union Gap - Young Girl [1968]
    Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine [1969]
    Freda Payne - Band Of Gold [1970]
    Sweet - Blockbuster [1973]
    Carl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting [1974]
    Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - Come Up And See Me [1975]
    David Essex - Hold Me Close [1975]
    Donna Summer - I Feel Love [1977]
    Althia & Donna - Uptown Top Ranking [1978]
    Blondie - Heart Of Glass [1979]
    Pretenders - Brass In Pocket [1980]
    Blondie - Atomic [1980]
    ABBA - The Winner Takes It All [1980]
    Specials - Ghost Town [1981]
    Soft Cell - Tainted Love [1981]
    Human League - Don't You Want Me [1981]
    Jam - A Town Called Malice [1981]
    Michael Jackson - Billie Jean [1983]
    Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Relax [1984]
    Dead Or Alive - You Spin Me Round [1985]
    Madonna - Into The Groove [1985]
    Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls [1986]
    George Michael - A Different Corner [1986]
    M/A/R/R/S - Pump Up The Volume [1987]
    Madonna - Like A Prayer [1989]
    Sinead O'Connor - Nothing Compares [1990]
    White Town - Your Woman [1997]
    No Doubt - Don't Speak [1997]
    Cornershop - Brimful Of Asha [1998]
    Britney Spears - Baby One More Time [1999]
    S Club 7 - Don't Stop Movin' [2001]
    Kylie Minogue - Can't Get You Out Of My Head [2001]
    E-mail is a marvellous invention, yadda yadda yadda, and I wonder how we ever got by without it, and all that. But it doesn't half cause a lot of problems. It is often impossible to judge the tone of the written word. I can write something with a light-hearted, whimsical voice. You, however, could read it in a bitchy voice, and decide I was being nasty. Taking enough care and time, a skilful writer should be able to convey the intended tone without resorting to the dreaded emoticons. When blogging, one usually writes longer, more considered pieces, lessening the confusion, but - clearly - not always.

    Ah, well.

    Way back in 1996, when I first started using e-mail, I sent out a group e-mail to friends, asking them to suggest a word for the stress caused by having to think up something to put in the 'subject' field of an e-mail. One of them came up with a brilliant suggestion, a word which I think should enter the language:


    Wednesday, September 04, 2002

    Head on over to Chig and vote for your favourite UK number one single of the last 50 years.

    You can view and download the entire list of every UK number one here. [Click on the button that says 'All the No.1s'.] Reading backwards through the list, marking off my favourites, I felt my life flashing before my eyes.
    I didn't enter the Guardian's Best British Blog contest. Not because I think it's a bloody stupid idea. Nor because I disapprove. Nor because I think it's been handled badly. Indeed, I think the competition is a very good idea, well-handled. I gave my reasons for not entering in this comments box.

    Tom has included me in his little protest - Not The best British Blog [which I do think is a bloody stu, etc]. Update: He's removed me now.
    As a follow-up to my previous posting, I remembered that Microsoft Word gives readability statistics, so I experimented with copying-and-pasting some of my favourite blogs into Word and then checking their readability. Halfway through the process, I realised how pointless this was, but I persevered. The results are completely flawed, but here they are:

    There are six readability stats for each site, and they are stated in this order: (1) number of sentences per paragraph; (2) number of words per sentence, (3) number of characters per word; (4) number of passive sentences; (5) Flesch reading ease; and (6) the Flesch-Kincaid grade level.*
    Here Inside3.722.05.012%44.8%12.0
    Not So Soft1.6144.70%61.3%8.1
    Not You2.316.24.41%67.2%7.9
    Troubled Diva5.016.54.67%65.4%7.9
    Swish Cottage4.414.54.31%70.9%7.1
    Naked Blog4.511.44.31%78.0%5.2

    *Flesch reading ease: the higher the number, the more readable the text.
    Flesch-Kincaid grade level: the US school grade level a reader would need to be to understand the text. Seventh grade means twelve years old, I think.

    Methodology: I chose bloggers known for writing large chunks rather than simple links, but - typically - Ian and Meg are currently writing untypically short paragraphs. I deleted stuff like the date and the 'comments' link, etc [and quotes from the London Review Of Books].

    Spurious conclusions:
  • The bloggers with the most-educated readers: Charlie and Ian.
  • The most passive bloggers: Charlie and Mike.
  • Most rambling: Ian and Charlie.
  • Most concise: Peter and Meg.
  • Most accessible: Peter and Duncan.

    This last result makes me realise just how statistics can lie, as Peter's writing contains many brilliant stylistic quirks, such as his ear for local dialect, ignored by automatic analysis.
  • cccp links to a perl script for calculating readability statistics on text. A fine idea, and one I'd love to try out on my site, and selected others. But what the hell do I do with a perl script?

    Does anyone know of a web page where you can plug in a URL and it will calculate its readability? [The readability of the page, that is, not the URL!]

    Tuesday, September 03, 2002

    Street scams in Barcelona. These scams are carried out in every city of the world. Compiled onto one page, they make for sobering reading, and make you realise just how careless we are.
    This should make Dave jealous. On Thursday, we are going to the UK premiere of the new Vin Diesel action blockbuster, xXx.
    The Swish Guide to South African Music - Part 6
    "Angel Fish" by Jennifer Ferguson - 1986 [download the mp3]
    "Bay Of Bombay" by Jennifer Ferguson - 1986 [download the mp3]
    "Letters To Dickie" by Jennifer Ferguson - 1986 [download the mp3]

    I loved Jennifer Ferguson. A left-wing, right-on, trippy, dippy hippychick. Pounding a grand piano, tossing her wild curls and wailing enigmatic cryptic poetry, or spitting out angry protest songs.

    I've uploaded three songs. "Angel Fish" is a coming-of-age song of teenage sexuality, lust and transference. And goldfish, of course.

    "Bay Of Bombay" is stunning. A live recording, with just Jennifer at the piano. She tells a tale of her mother doing the dishes, dreaming of a better life, the life she would never be able to live.

    "Letters To Dickie" is a harrowing series of Dear John letters sent by a girl in Jo'burg to her boyfriend fighting 'on the Border' during South Africa's State Of Emergency. "There are bombs going off in the dustbins here in Joeys, I'm feeling so scared and alone". The emotions are so raw, you don't know whether to laugh, cry or howl. I usually end up doing the latter.

    Let me know what you think of these. Buy South African CDs online at
    What a lovely day! A day of nostalgia, of old friends, good friends, and favourite songs. Almost all the people I've mentioned so far were on the grassy knoll behind the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, plus Dave and Kelvin, wearing matching white vests to show off their newly-acquired Sitges tans. Jealous? Moi? Oui!

    Saffina, who I hadn't seen in years surprised us by (a) turning up and (b) having a new boyfriend. My ex-boyfriend Pano joined us on the hill and we had a good talk about not-very-good things, but it was, you know, good.

    The Dame Edna Experience's show seemed designed to feed into the nostalgic mood, comprising all your favourite songs from when you were a kid: "Sweet Transvestite", "Sandy" from Grease, Soft Cell's "Torch", Taylor Dayne's "Tell It To My Heart". The conversations continued as we spilled out onto the pavement. I gave a certain cutting-edge DJ the ABBA-related CDs he'd asked us to see if we could find in Stockholm. [You have not lived till you've heard Svenne and Lotta's version of Yazoo's "Only You".] Marcus and Pano and I went on to Duke's, where Marcus got roped into the stripper's act and was 'forced' to do silly things with...

    Ah, but I'll let him tell that story.
    We had been invited to Matthew and Richard's housewarming party, so we headed into town to choose a suitable present. Difficult one, as we felt certain that the camp trinkets Matthew would find funny, Richard would look down his nose at. Eventually we settled on everyone's favourite favourite: alcohol, and bought a bottle of 70% proof absinthe.

    We popped by the Photographers' Gallery, but were a little disappointed by Karlheinz Weinberger's 'homoerotic' photographs of 60s gang members. Swiss Hells Angels? I think not, thank you.

    Matthew and Richard's new flat is lovely. The weather was lovely. The garden was lovely. The company was lovely. We sat on the lawn and chatted to Guy and Andy and Peter and, oh, the gang. Andy and Alex showed off their new Ericsson mobile phone, which can take photographs, and Jonathan showed off his XDA, which can do everything.

    Marcus and I had a long night ahead, so we went home for a disco-nap. We also managed to watch a bit of Hoop Dreams, a brilliant documentary detailing six years in the lives of two young basketball players. Highly recommended. But no time to watch the end of that, as we had to be at Substation South in Brixton by midnight. A one-off collaboration between Queer Nation and legendary 80s night The Lift, the atmosphere was euphoric, electric, extraordinary and everything else that starts with an 'e'. Ian came along, and I am 87% certain we chatted to Luca, too.
    Time for a "What I Did This Weekend" roundup:

    Went round to Marcus's for dinner. He'd made a delicious fish pie, adapting a Jamie Oliver recipe. We opened a bottle of wine and settled down to watch the Todd Solondz film Storytelling on DVD. Halfway through the movie, I looked over at Marcus, and he was fast asleep. Useless! I tried to wake him up a couple of times to no avail, so - to get back at him I watched I'm A Celebrity - Get Me Out Of Here. [No, I don't understand that either, but it seemed fitting at the time.] That clip of Uri Geller eating bugs really freaked me out - slimy, spineless, wriggling, disgusting... and the bugs were pretty horrific, too!
    Remember, if you intend to enter the Guardian's Best British Weblog competition, and you haven't already done so, you'd better get a move on, as the closing date is this Friday. Yes, I'm talking to you.

    Oh, and in case you were wondering, I'm not entering.

    Monday, September 02, 2002

    It's funny how you can suddenly remember something; something that you haven't thought about in years. When I was about eleven, I invented a code. Warren, Kevin, Joy, Ursula and I would pass secret notes back and forth to each other in the classroom - notes that only we could read.

    This afternoon, while I was sitting at my desk feeling bored, tired and slightly ill, this code suddenly popped into my head. I didn't only remember that we used to have our own code, I remembered the actual code itself, letter-perfect.

    The letterforms are largely based on the regular alphabet. See if you can figure out what this note says:
    God, I am tired.

    I've signed up for Rannie's new project: 300 exposures in 30 days. Ten photos each by 30 bloggers. I'm scheduled to make an appearance on the 23rd of this month. Now I just have to figure out which pictures I'm going to submit. Will I use the opportunity to challenge myself, taking some brilliant new pictures, or will I simply cheat and use some of the old photos you've seen every day on my random pic above?