Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Saturday 27 December 2008

is my bag for life
a sound fiscal investment?
too optimistic?

There’s only so much of sitting about drinking Baileys and eating pies and chocolate that I can put up with, so I went out for some post-prandial fresh air and to do some shopping.
Sadly I forgot to check if Jeremy Clarkson was still sporting his Hitler moustache at Goldhawk Road Tube station. I’m hoping so.
I bought a packet of chicken biryani mix, since I often buy things like this in case I am stuck for something to cook one day, and they usually sit in the cupboard for the next two years. On the front of the box it said, in English, ‘Urdu recipe on the inside of the box’.
Exactly! That’s what I thought.
This evening I cooked my world famous Kung Po Chicken, although I suspect I overdid the chillies.
Sent a text to Russell Crowe reminding him that he still has our slo-cooker, and that we want it back, in this world rather than the next.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Friday 26 December 2008

the crash of software
deafens me to the outside
and this small event

Boxing Day. No one is really sure why it is called Boxing Day, although these days it may be related to parcelling things up so they can go back to Argos. Such is life.
Our computer is playing up, which is depressing me no end, since any software-related problem seems to worry me far more than physical ailments, such is the reliance we now place on this demonic technology. Over the last twenty-odd years we have made a Faustian pact with Information technology that cannot now be broken. I see this as a good thing, although it does concern me that I am affected emotionally by a potential lack of access to all my useful and delightful computer programmes. If one of those EMP bombs exploded over my house and scrambled everything, I think I’d be inclined to start strangling the neighbours. I’ve noticed that in dramas, when this sort of thing happens, people always fall to their knees, clench their fists, look up at the sky and shout ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!’ although I’m pretty sure that no one has actually done this in real life.
Drama cliches, readers! Let’s be rid of them!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Thursday 25 December 2008

strictly come dancing
christmas special. the barrel
has been scraped too deep.

It really wouldn’t be Christmas without a nice bit of religious bigotry, and who best to present it but Pope Von Benedict XVI, who brings a whole new meaning to the word pontificate.

“Pope Benedict XVI has said that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.
He explained that defending God's creation was not limited to saving the environment, but also about protecting man from self-destruction.
The Pope was delivering his end-of-year address to senior Vatican staff.
His words, later released to the media, emphasised his rejection of gender theory.
Speaking on Monday, Pope Benedict XVI warned that gender theory blurred the distinction between male and female and could thus lead to the "self-destruction" of the human race.” (bbc.co.uk news)

His Holiness Pope Herr Flick went on to describe homosexuality as the greatest evil facing mankind, far worse obviously than terrorist fundamentalists, poverty, climate change, war, famine, genocide and ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, more of a threat to the future of humanity in fact than even than the BBC’s ‘Hole In The Wall’, and that’s saying something.
OK Benedict, if you really care about the rainforest, why not start using the vast resources of the Vatican to do something about it, rather than waste time wittering about a subject which you have not researched, and never will, as this would put you into conflict with your own Church’s beliefs.
As far as I am aware, homosexuality is a facet of life for all mammals, not just human beings, and therefore, one imagines, if you believe such nonsense, would appear to be part of God’s plan. I imagine a committee of cardinals is already engrossed in deep theological discussion as to whether gay swans go to hell.
Maybe if Pope Herr Flick and his deluded minions looked at the real issues and allowed contraception to be used by their followers, we might start to sensibly address the overpopulation problem and also make some difference to the problem of AIDS around the world. The issue of surplus population might be a sensitive issue for His Holiness however, considering his rather shady past in Germany, but we won’t go into that.
Other than being informed that I was a threat to the future of Humanity (which actually makes me feel rather like a villain in ‘Heroes’) I had a lovely non-religious Christmas day,
This was only slightly spoiled by the BBC’s insistence on having a ‘Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special’ in which various ‘celebrities’ pair up with real dancers and bore the masses to tears. Not content with the given timescale the show over-ran and buggered up the schedules for the rest of the evening.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Wednesday 24 December 2008

searching for shortbread
through desperate shoals of men
as if it’s the end

Christmas appears to have crept up on me silently and then pounced. I seem to always assume it’s at least two weeks more distant than it actually is.
I felt constrained, having been released early from the secret government bunker, to do a final bit of shopping, although I was fairly sure we already had everything in.
‘Shortbread biscuits!’ the Ugly One shouted down the phone to me while I waited at Victoria for the Westbound District Line.
The Tesco Metro was like some budget version of Hell where stressed looking people ran hither and thither with seemingly no clue as to what they were looking for. I just wanted shortbread biscuits and small sausage rolls, none of which could be found.
I hied it to M&S where I discovered a tin of organic scottish shortbread biscuits, but only their pork and cranberry sausage rolls which I can confirm are, since I have already sampled them, an abominable hybrid of foodstuff.
I decided not to try Sainsburys, since Dante no doubt has already covered that fairly well, and there would be no point in my reporting it. Besides, their habitually empty shelves would almost certainly include sausage rolls, and I was too tired to even consider using my nectar points to bribe the manager.
So, I returned home sausage-roll-less, and we ordered Indian food from our local restaurant as a Christmas prelude.
Several vodkas later and full of biryani I crept off to bed.

Tuesday 23 December 2008

the shrouded morning
streaked with wet naked branches
all dripping upwards

I rang my mother the other day who was telling me about the Christmas card my brother had sent her. My brother for a few years now has been making his own cards, not with cut-out 3D cottages, some decoupage and a bit of glitter, but ably assisted alone by MS Publisher. The results, though heroically attempted, are never very successful.
‘Why can’t he buy one from a shop, like everyone else?’ my mother asked, in the rhetoric tone of voice she uses which makes me suspect she’s asked this question of herself aloud whilst alone.
‘I suppose,’ she said, ‘as cards go, there’s nothing wrong with them, but it’s not the sort of thing to send on special occasions.’

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Monday 22 December 2008

all are winding down
to a christmas recharge
green lights are winking

I was accosted again by the smitten Spaniard on my way home from work, he who you may remember chatted to me not so long ago as I had a cigarette outside Stockwell Tube Station. Although a very nice man, his English is a little fragmented, although not, I confess, as fragmented as my Spanish, which is positively molecular in its degree of fragmentation.
‘I want to say... how you say.. to see you again...?’ he said.
I shook my head bemusedly.
‘When you see someone again, you say... what... to see you nice...’
‘Yes, that’s right,’ I said. ‘The phrase is ‘Nice to see you, to see you nice!’
‘Ahhh! Nice to see you, to see you nice!’ he said, and gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek before running off into the night.

Sunday 21 December 2008

the winter solstice
when the world stops and turns back
to the light again

For those of you interested in such things, ‘Strictly Come On, Do You Honestly Want To Watch This?’ was won by the lovely Dr Strachan from Holby City.
Alexandra Burke from The X-Factor is at No 1 with ‘Hallelujah’ and the late Jeff Buckley is at No 2 with ‘Hallelujah’.
Orgwin the Gormless of Quigg is back at home at no 43 with his four hundred brothers and sisters.
We celebrated the Winter Solstice with Duck in Black Bean Sauce and Egg Fried Rice.

Saturday 20 December 2008

arab cab drivers
waiting with glass cups of tea
and a cigarette

In a dream, I was made aware of the astonishing physical facial resemblance between Jeremy Clarkson and Frankie Howerd.
The Ugly One, determined I am sure to drive me to an early grave with a heart attack, cooked venison medallions with a rich sauce and some nice mash.
I was cheered to discover that another of my poems has been published on the website ‘Ink, Sweat & Tears’ - http://www.ink-sweat-and-tears.com/ - just as I was getting rejection blues, having received enough rejection slips from magazines to make a life-size papier mache Russell Grant.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Friday 19 December 2008

christmas is coming.
what rough beast slouches toward
westfield to be born

Christmas is approaching with the slow inevitability of Vanessa Feltz on a tricycle heading for the cake shop. I don’t object to Christmas per se. It is an important cultural festival celebrated across the world, although it would seem to be an established fact now that it is not the birthday of Christ, but the Winter Solstice, appropriated from the old Pagan religions of Europe in order that Christianity would be more acceptable to those upon whom it was imposed. Thus we have hangover Pagan elements such as the Yule Log, holly and mistletoe. The Christmas Tree is thought to have Germanic Pagan origins, while Father Christmas has its roots in Nordic mythology. Fundamentalist American Christians attempt to strip these pagan influences away (Santa Claus is outlawed by some as Santa is an anagram of Satan) although one has to admit that with all the magical fun stuff removed there isn’t a lot left to build traditions out of, and wouldn’t it be a bit of a boring occasion without all the glittery stuff to brighten it up.
Certainly TV isn’t going to make the Yuletide (that’s Pagan as well) any more joyful. Repeats, reality shows and brainless celebrities plugging whatever they’ve got to plug. No doubt Harry Potter (also outlawed by Fundamentalist American Christians), taking over the reins from The Sound of Music, will be making an appearance, as will the usual comedy Christmas specials which become less funny and more formulaic as the years go by. The BBC, it would appear, are once again scraping at the bottom of the barrel. They scraped pretty deep with ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, and even deeper with ‘Hole In The Wall’, an execrable series in which ‘celebrities’ in skintight silver lycra are lined up on the edge of a swimming pool. When the equally execrable Dale Winton shouts ‘Bring on The Wall!’ they have to fit themselves into a hole in a wall which hurtles toward them or get pushed into the water.
My, how we laughed!
Other channels scrape beyond the barrel on the flimsiest of ideas. A new reality series, on a channel the name of which I do not even care to remember, has made a reality series about a man called Willy who owns and runs a chocolate factory. They managed to get the word ‘wonky’ into the voice-over narrative just so the audience get the reference. I am tempted to wonder whether, had this man’s name been Brian or Nigel, this series would have ever been made.

Thursday 18 December 2008

the panic bit when
i searched for cigarettes and
found nothing at all

I rang Russell Crowe to remind him that he still hasn’t returned our slo-cooker, but I just got his voicemail. You’d think he could afford his own, wouldn’t you?

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Wednesday 17 December 2008

god is still missing
no one has phoned the police
i suspect foul play

I am sure that many of you are thinking, ‘This a radical atheist’s page! When is he going to talk about god or religion?’ and I’ve been thinking the same thing. ‘You’ve got to get a grip, Rod,’ I said to myself only this morning. ‘There are far more Godbotherers about than you, and they’re ranting twenty-four seven.’
Recently, however, there hasn’t been a whole lot to write about, although the evidence is around us every day that foolishness abounds.
Much has been made of Tom Cruise’s outspoken remarks about Scientology, regrettably in one case criticising a fellow actor for taking medication for post-natal depression. Although I am not in any sense defending Scientology, we have to get the matter into perspective, and if we are getting into a realm of attacking someone for making statements based on their religious beliefs, then you shouldn’t be able to pick and choose which religions can speak out and which can’t.
Just to be clear, Scientologists believe that 75 million years ago an evil galactic ruler, named Xenu, solved overpopulation by bringing trillions of people to Earth in DC-8 space planes, stacking them around volcanoes and nuking them. Then the souls of these dead space aliens were captured and boxed up and taken to cinemas where they were shown films of what life should be like, false ideas containing God, the devil and Christ and told to get ill.
After that they supposedly clustered together and now inhabit our bodies. Scientologists believe that if they rid themselves of these body thetans then they will be healthier and will gain special powers like mind-over-matter.
Absolutely ridiculous, of course. Everybody knows that there’s an immortal invisible entity who made us all out of dust and spare ribs watching over our every move twenty-four hours a day, and that he gave us free will, and therefore never intervenes in anything, no matter how badly people behave, although we still have to pray to him and ask for help, just so that we have a chance of getting to heaven.
Anyway, why is it OK for people to picket and harass abortion clinics and doctors but it’s not OK for Tom Cruise to criticise someone for taking medication?
I was dragged from this vexatious question by a phone-call from the Ugly One.
‘We’re having lobster for dinner!’ he said.
I was thinking that he’d bought fresh lobster and was preparing some gourmet feast, something by NIgella maybe.
It turned out to be ‘Tesco’s finest’ Lobster Thermidore, reduced to clear, but was nevertheless very nice.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Tuesday 16 December 2008

on days of our lives
the child with the brand new head
makes me yearn for guns

I took a day off today to catch up with some writing, and, of course ‘Days of Our Lives’ which I sometimes just leaving running like background music. Those people new to this soap will be baffled by the complex and tangled family tree, and would be well advised not to climb its interlinked branches until you’re a bit more familiar with the characters. Bo Brady, for instance, is actually the son of Victor Kiriakis, and therefore, Philip’s brother and Brady Black’s uncle, and likely to become the stepson of Nicole Walker when and if she marries Victor , who is also Jennifer Aniston’s father, but in real life, not in the show.
The new Will (the son of Sammy Brady, who is the child of Roman Brady when he used to be married to Marlena, who is now married to John Black. His father is Lucas, son of Kate Roberts, who used to married to Victor, who is Bo Brady’s father) is beginning to grate on me since he is one of those child actors who believe that fame is dependent on vocal volume.
It’s a shame young Will didn’t encounter a friendly lion or leopard while out in the wilds of Africa, or at least some predator that stole his vocal cords.
Meanwhile, it has been discovered that the government has a secret laboratory in the basement of Salem hospital, where the cheerfully named Agent Spectre is holding a set of genetically engineered twins who fell from space during a meteor shower.
I kid you not.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Monday 15 December 2008

It would appear that the success of Alexandra’s ‘Hallelujah’ has had peculiar repercussions in that the Jeff Buckley version has now been rereleased and is climbing the charts, along with the original Leonard Cohen version, which is the best.
I’ll be Hallelujah’d out by Christmas day.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Sunday 14 December 2008

the tones are muted
colours have been drained like blood
saved for emergencies

I made my special chicken laksa today, which I am sorry I volunteered to do as it meant I had to go out and buy chicken. I also engaged in a long and fruitless hunt for macadamia nuts, before giving up and buying cashews instead.
On the way home I was on the eastbound platform of Goldhawk Road station and confronted by a giant poster of Jeremy Clarkson, upon whom some bored (or maybe angry) commuter had imposed a Hitler moustache.
Weirdly, it suited him, and it’s not a look that suits many people, not even Hitler actually.

Saturday 13 December 2008

rain stole all the sun
carrying it down to light
the gutters and drains

Robert of the Never-sleeping Tongue came round this evening to watch the X-Factor final with us. We’ve been trying to settle on a nickname for finalist Eoghan Quigg, whom I still think is a forty-year old midget in a Tina Turner wig, but never mind.
We’ve been calling him Ogwin or Noggin, or just Ginger Wigg, but finally settled on Orgwin the Gormless, due to his habit of gawping into the camera like a bassett hound waiting for a biscuit.
I prayed to Argos, the omnipotent God of Catalogue Shopping, that Orgwin would not get through. I have a feeling that Orgwin’s mentor, Simon Cowell, was doing exactly the same thing, as, for the second time in three weeks, while announcing his own act he said ‘Wow! Blimey! I’m still reeling from the astonishing performance by Alexandra! ... Oh, by the way, here’s Orgwin the Gormless!’ or words to that effect.
Our prayers were answered, albeit by a non-existent entity in an ironic post-modern sort of way, and Orgwin was sent back to the peat bogs. Hoorah!
Meanwhile, the Ugly One cooked us his famous duck breast in cinnamon cherry sauce with parsnip dauphinoise, followed by creme brulee while we waited for the result.
This year, the winner’s song was a cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, although apparently it was a cover of Jeff Buckley’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, and although JLS made a good attempt, ‘It’s just the pretty one singing and the other three humming in the background again’ as Robert put it, Alexandra’s performance knocked all competition completely out of the water and is maybe the best version of that song (apart from Leonard’s) that I’ve heard.
Of course she won. There seemed little doubt that she would, until I read the released voting history for the final three contestants for the last twelve weeks. Apparently for the first seven or so weeks, Orgwin the Gormless was streets ahead of everyone else, which doesn’t bear thinking about. I actually wish he’d got into the final two now, as I’m very curious to know what he’d have made of singing ‘Hallelujah’, apart from a pig’s ear.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Friday 12 December 2008

i am now swollen
full of fish, chicken and lamb,
a fat city zoo

The secret government agency for whom I work has an annual curry night in the depths of Tooting. The restaurant has no alcohol licence but allows us to bring some along of our own, so I toddled in with a bottle of ‘Lost Sheep’, a white wine of which I have become very fond, as much for its surreal label (which features some kind of wooden Frankenstein sheep) as much as for its taste and alcohol content.
As has become tradition we paid a flat fee of £17.00 and had interminable dishes brought to the tables with the result that, as turnout was low this year, most of us were full by the time we’d sampled all the starters; popadoms, chicken tikka, onion bhajis, lamb kebab, lamb chops (yes that’s what I thought) fish tikka, fish bhajis and samosas.
I did have a bash at the biryani, which was delicious, but could fit no more in, despite the necessary lubrication of the bottle of LS.
I got home to find the Ugly One assembling our Christmas Tree and realised we have had our Christmas fairy so long that if she were real she’d be pregnant and in her own council flat by now.

Thursday 11 December 2008

wheel from a suitcase
lying on the station stairs.
i could do nothing

This morning, I was, as is normal for me, blearily gazing at the BBC News when I spotted the face of a friend of ours above a caption saying ‘later at 8.20’.
Thinking that, as an actor, he might have been involved in some International Thespian Scandal I set the video to tape the segment and hoied it to the bathroom. While there, I reconsidered, since his greatest acting claim of late is an appearance in The Bill where he opened a council flat door and said ‘Whatchoo want, copper? You’re not taking arr Wayne!’ in his butchest cockney.
As it turned out, the BBC were interviewing ‘the public’ about the quality of Christmas gifts and our friend whittered on for quite some time about his mother’s woolly jumpers. I was very disappointed. I was thinking he was going to confess to something along the lines of an affair with Gordon Ramsay, or at least an archbishop. He’d have been picked up by the tabloids then... and the police of course, but that’s the price of fame.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Ooooh! Despite my reservations, I can’t help liking ‘Apparitions’ with the marvellous Martin Shaw as demon-battling Catholic Priest, Father Jacob, who this week teamed up with the muslims to defeat a demon posing as the Virgin Mary in order to get a demon released from Hell.
I have to say that the biblical research is very in-depth, and one can learn a lot about the arcane structure of the Catholic Church from this show. I still remain concerned, however, that many believers will see this as a documentary rather than a work of fiction.
Acting respect has to be given to Father Jacob’s sidekick, his Devil’s Advocate nun, the cynical Sister Ruth, (Siobhan Finneran) who is torn between between her loyalty to the Church and her growing belief in Father Jacob. The scenes between her and the charismatic priest are often the best thing in the show.
Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be garnering the viewing audience it deserves, but I suspect that it will become a cult classic in years to come.

Tuesday 9 December 2008

I got chatted up outside the tube station by a Spanish Man called Claudio. Which was nice. It’s not often I get pursued by people who are after my body, or my mind, for that matter, so it’s a relief to know that my innate charm still works.
Meanwhile, on ‘Days of Our Lives’, and indeed, many other ‘continuing dramas’ people occasionally disappear for a short while and reappear with a new head. It is alleged that Tracy Barlow once went upstairs to ‘listen to me taaaapes’ and came down again months later having regenerated into another being entirely.
The Ugly One and I have been for some time concerned about the parentage of young Will from ‘Days of Our Lives’, whose batlike ears were a continuing distraction from the show. Will has been in Africa for some time with his father Lucas, who had recently emerged from a year-long coma. Now Will has returned, seemingly three years older, blonde and with no bat-features whatsoever.
This evening, we watched ‘The Mist’ on DVD, if only to confirm to myself that this is one of the worst films I’ve seen in quite some time. Watch it yourself. I defy you not to predict what happens at the end and not to laugh when it happens.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Monday 8 December 2008

I awoke, feeling very ill, and with my stomach punching me from within and complaining at its treatment of late. I poured myself into the bathroom, did the necessary, poured out again and poured myself a restorative coffee.
‘Days of Our Lives’ usually eases me into the gruesome day, so I settled down to concentrate on the lives of the good folk of Salem.
A hitman, it appears, has been hired to kill old neckless Victor, and Bo Brady and newly graduated supercop Billy Reed have been detailed to go undercover to the Salem Inn where the hit is due to take place. ‘Undercover’ is a vague term in the Salem police department since Bo’s attempt at disguise consisted of combing his hair down over his forehead into daggerlike points.
The hit man appeared, at exactly the same time as Sammy Brady and Nicole, who chose that moment to have a catfight in front of Victor, with the result that Nicole has been shot and is in a coma. This is not a cause for alarm, since Salem is the coma capital of North America. There’s been at least three comas in the last six months, as well as Tony Dimera’s mini-comas which hit him at least three times a week, leaving him standing up and staring into space.
Meanwhile John Black has been busy standing around showing a mysterious blue key to his own independently mobile eyebrows. His wife, Dr Marlena, has been having premonitions about, well, not very much really, but she’s looking twice as concerned as usual.
It’s a wonder she ever has time to see any patients as whenever a relative or friend calls in to see her, she is sitting at her desk writing notes.
On the way home from work I sat opposite Robbie’s dad from ‘Eastenders’. I suspect this would not be a celebrity omen as no one seems to know who he is.

Sunday 7 December 2008

It may be true to say that the excesses of the last two days have caught up with me. I suspect I am getting too old for this level of alcohol intake.
I went out to do some shopping and to get some fresh air, which was maybe not a good idea, as I returned frozen to the very marrow. To the very marrow, I say!
However, I then remembered that my dessert from Gary Rhodes last night was a souffle, which the waiter pierced and, into the hole created, poured a jugful of cream.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Saturday 6 December 2008

now i’m depleted
eating in unreal splendour
with the hoi-polloi

The Wise Woman of Wigan, bless her, took us out to Gary Rhodes restaurant at the Cumberland Hotel at Marble Arch. As usual, it was a very posh and relaxing experience. A succession of waiters talked us through the food and wine and the cocktail barman even came to the table to divulge the secret of his James Bond Martini. It’s not the sort of place I could really afford to go to on a regular basis, as a bottle of wine would no doubt pay two month’s council tax in some areas, but it’s well worth the additional expense once in a while.
Following canapes of grilled cheese toastie sandwiches and smoked eel goujons, I started off with pork belly and langoustine with sauteed pears (I think), followed by saddle of rabbit stuffed with foie gras.
At that point somebody (probably me) mentioned Britney Spears and I went into a gesticulating rant which is probably why, when I accidentally struck one of the (thankfully empty) wine glasses, it somersaulted into the air and plummeted to the carpet where it shattered. I explained to the waiter who was cheerfully brushing up the remains that it was probably the mention of Britney Spears that caused it to spontaneously explode. I suspect that Rhodes either uses brainwashing techniques or employs Mormons, since his staff are the most unremittingly cheerful people in the world.
I’m not sure if it was the Moscow Mules or the red wine, but I’m stumped if I can remember what I had for dessert. I remember describing it as a culinary adventure, a triumph of design and a masterpiece of something else, but the details elude me.
Later, quite impressed by the wine-glasses, I looked them up on t’internet and discovered that each one costs seventeen pounds. I could get three bottles of Snapper Cove in Marks and Spencer for that!

Friday 5 December 2008

and then you texted
‘wre r u now?’ melting the
frost from my mobile

We went to our office Christmas party today at the Bierodrome in Clapham where I happily devoured half a lobster and a steak.
Several glasses of white wine and a couple of vodkas later I made my way home, but was waylaid by a text message and an offer of Moroccan broccoli.

Thursday 4 December 2008

even in daylight
the dark seeps from the pavement
and paints the railings

Monday, 8 December 2008

Wednesday 3 December 2008

We were complaining today at work about the influx of nauseous American habits, such as Trick or Treat and Secret Santa. Secret Santa particularly miffs me as a couple of years ago I did try and get into the Xmas spirit and bought (anonymously) a present for a colleague. I went to a lot of trouble to hunt around for something within the price range that suited his personality and that he would enjoy, and, as far as that goes, it was fine. He loved the present. However, the down side was that I had to publicly open a gift that someone anonymous had bought for me, and one would expect, wouldn’t one, that everyone should put a bit of thought and originality into the gift.
It was a pair of stripey socks, and I must admit that for a few seconds I was a little stunned, sensing that there must be some deeper significance to these woollen horrors.
Alas no. That was it. Socks. I can only presume that someone had some surreal post-modern idea that the iconic image of bad Xmas presents would somehow amuse me. I did, to my credit, smile patronisingly and slid the socks into my desk drawer, from whence, a little later, they slid out and straight into a waste-paper basket.
‘We might celebrate Thanksgiving here soon,’ my boss said, apropos of this custom of adopting the stupidest ideas America has to offer.
On the other hand, that might not be a bad idea. Should, for instance, Thatcher die in mid-November, it would give us all a chance to give thanks each and every year for her departure from this world.
I imagine it does not have to necessarily be November. It would be nice to have a celebration in the parts of the year where we are bereft of public holidays.

Tuesday 2 December 2008

I spent a quiet day at home doing very little apart from musing on the infinity of space, and the inexplicable public interest in Paris Hilton.
The UO arrived home with a vast parcel which turned out to contain 80 Agatha Christie novels which he’d bought off t’internet.

Monday 1 December 2008

The Ugly One and I trotted up the West End this evening to see Bill Bailey in his ‘Tinselworm’ tour. We found our way without incident or assistance to the stalls, but then were foxed as our tickets read 013 and 014 respectively, with no clue as to what row we were in. I accosted a lady laden down with programmes who merely said ‘Follow me’ in a rather imperious tone. She led us half way up the rows and then pointed. It was row ‘O’, between row ‘N’ and row ‘P’.
‘Oh!’ I said.
‘Yes,’ she replied. ‘O!’.
Bill Bailey restores my faith in human atheism. He told us that he recently, to his credit, refused to be a godfather In a Catholic christening because he would have to publicly ‘renounce Satan and all his works’ and felt he couldn’t get through the line without collapsing in fits of hysterical laughter.
The UO has various strange talents, one of which being the loudest laugher in the world, and is inclined to shout things out in Theatres.
‘I’m from West London,’ says Bill, ‘Are there any Westies in?’ at which The UO shouted ‘Yes! Shepherds Bush!’ and engaged in some audience participation for a few minutes.
It was a marvellous evening. You can never go wrong with Bill Bailey. It’s always a surreal and titillating rollercoaster of philosophy, politics, rock and science fiction, all stitched together with impeccable wit and amazing musical virtuoso moments.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Sunday 30 November 2008

Maybe I’m being too harsh to Britney Spears. Rationally speaking, if we didn’t have all this bad music about we’d have nothing to judge the good music against.
I spent the afternoon burning CDs onto my mp3 player, which, like most technologies which have entered into my life, I have become dependent upon. I already have begun to think of wikipedia as an extension of my brain.
So, what is on my mp3 player? I have to say that about 30% of it is classical, the majority of which is Bach, and a lot of that is violin or cello concertos. There’s also some Vivaldi, Gorecki, Schubert, and some strange German stuff based on the work of Rammstein.
Also, I have some original Rammstein, which is great for blowing the cobwebs away at nine in the morning. There’s some David Bowie, David Byrne, Echo and The Bunnymen, Siouxsie Sioux and Roxy Music to ease my nostalgia for the days when dinosaur music ruled the Earth. Then there’s Nile. I discovered Nile from a t-shirt someone was wearing at a Roger Waters concert which read ‘The Slaughterers of Apep’. I think it was Apep. At the time I thought it was some kind of international Oil consortium, but it turns out to be a character from Egyptian mythology. Nile are like Rammstein-lite. Although they sing in English rather than German, it makes little difference, since the singer sounds like Xerxes from ‘300’ and is therefore completely unintelligible. I have read the lyrics, and to be honest, I’m not missing much. They sound good though. Lots of pomp and camp orchestral drama, fused with pounding guitars.
There’s also some ‘Yes’ and ‘Tangerine Dream’ to feed my hippy philosophical side, and two albums of Gary Numan cover versions.
I’ll have to get back to you on the rest, as my access to my wikipedia interface has been temporarily lost.

Saturday 29 November 2008

Our friend Robert turned up this evening for some posh nosh and a bit of X-Factor.
The Ugly One, emboldened by a freezer full of hoity-toity meat, had been to The Wholefood Shop to buy a matching set of posh mushrooms.
Thus we had mushroom risotto, followed by game bird pie with five-vegetable mash and madeira gravy, followed by raspberry and passion-fruit pavlova.
A touch of verisimilitude was added to the evening by my discovery of a piece of shot in a portion of bird. I’m not sure if it was partridge or pheasant. I just know it had been shot, presumably by some posh person out in the country.
The X-Factor is getting more bizarre, particularly in view of the fact that they are inviting guest artists more known for their success than their actual talent. Last year we had Celine Dion, who had to be forcibly silenced on stage after gabbling on interminably about the other acts. This year we have already had Mariah Carey (why use one note when thirty seven will do perfectly well?) who grinned manically through her botox death mask while muttering ‘awesome!’ through her seemingly wired-together teeth.
Tonight it was Britney Spears, and because Britney was due to appear, the poor contestants had to perform Britney songs. I was not convinced there were enough well-known Britney songs to go around, but apparently there are.
I knew three of them.
As was to be expected, the contestants did not do well. Britney songs are, for one thing, not particularly good ‘songs’. As recordings, they were no more than over-produced dance tracks with augmented or adjusted vocals, and wouldn’t stand alone as ‘songs’. It is obvious that the producers saw the appearance of Britney as something of a coup, and consequently the interests of the contestants themselves were sidelined, particularly in view of the fact that she was not in a mentoring role as all other guests have been.
The highlight of the show was Britney herself, but for all the wrong reasons. Stumbling around the stage and miming very obviously and – one might add – incredibly badly, she was then interviewed very very briefly by Dermot O’Leary and, when asked about the other contestants’ performances, avoided the question and talked about how awesome London was.
It appears that Ms Spears did not see any of the contestants’ performances.
On the X-tra Factor later it was only ‘Gavin & Stacey’s James Corden who was brave enough to point out Britney’s deficiencies. ‘She comes on, does a half-arsed bit of miming and then buggers off straightaway to do a set at Heaven.’
As it turned out, Heaven was to be disappointed, since Ms Spears failed to turn up and took an early morning flight back, hopefully to eventual obscurity.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Friday 28 November 2008

We’ve been watching a series called ‘The Inbetweeners’, having landed on it while channel-hopping some weeks back. I can never fathom why these excellent comedies are tucked away in late-night slots on the minor channels, while the mainstream channels churn out the TV equivalent of chicken nuggets for the masses.
Adrian Edmondson recently did ‘Teenage Kicks’, a sitcom in which he played a divorced dad, living with his crazy mixed-up teenager children in a student flat, and having to sleep in the cupboard under the stairs. It was originally, it appears, a radio comedy series which the PTB thought may transfer successfully to TV. Sadly no. Rather than transferring to BBC 1 or 2 it went to ITV, which is always a worrying prospect for sitcoms. It still sounds like a radio comedy, the beauty of which is that you can imagine the surreal and grotesque characters within the bounded universe of the writing. Having said that, ‘The League of Gentlemen’ made the leap to TV spectacularly well, so it can be done.
‘Teenage Kicks’ failed by being simply old-fashioned and not updating the writing for TV. Ade should have had a word with the wife. She’s had a bit of experience in things like this.
On BBC1 at the moment we have ‘Not Going Out’ which stars Lee Mack and the ghastly Tim Vine. I don’t know what it is about Tim Vine that makes me want to pick up a gun. It’s not just this sitcom, which is as dull as they come, and scheduled at an hour where the viewers are mostly likely to be drunk and no doubt more appreciative of the subtle philosophical subtext.
The blurb for a recent episode runs as follows:-

“Lee pretends to be gay to find out more about a new business acquaintance - but only because his reward for doing so is tickets to Wembley. His deception is soon uncovered and he is taken to a `specialist' club to test his alleged sexuality. “

What a new and revolutionary idea. I’m sure no one ever realised before that a straight man pretending to be gay could have such extraordinary comic potential. Why did no one ever think of this before?
Somebody please strap me down before I vomit with excitement.
The point I am trying to make is that the good stuff, the groundbreaking excellent comedy, (with the exception of Channel 4) is hidden away on obscure channels at ridiculous times.
‘The Inbetweeners’ for instance, should be shown at prime time on BBC1, along with ‘The Mighty Boosh’ (BBC3) ‘Flight of The Conchords’ (BBC4) and the brilliant ‘Gavin and Stacey’, which has knocked all other series out of the water.
In the meantime, catch up with ‘The Inbetweeners’ for the best comedy on TV at the moment... and avoid anything with Tim Vine in it. It’s bound to be a regurgitated version of something that was eaten in the Eighties

Thursday 27 November 2008

Our Christmas meat arrived today which the Ugly One had ordered from Scotland. He went a bit mad, and as well as ordering a bit of lamb for the actual day we had a selection of chopped up game birds (pheasant, partridge and pigeon) and some Red Deer medallions. It was frozen and packed in dry ice, which unfortunately had mostly evaporated by the time I had got home, as I wanted to put a lump in my vodka and coke and lounge on my sofa like a vampire siren. Well, one can dream.
We then caught up with Apparitions in which Martin Shaw battles Satan on a weekly basis. This week he was on the trail of a female demon possessing a rapist who may also have been simultaneously possessed by a saint. I got a little confused, but at least Father Shaw got to exorcise the rapist before he died.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

So, I was in the kitchen, rustling up some culinary disaster, or maybe washing up... it could have been either, when up popped Jeremy Paxman with ‘The Moral Maze’, who this week were discussing the BNP membership list, which had been leaked onto t’internet by a disgruntled ex-member who though that the party was getting too mamdy-pamdy and not hanging enough black people.
One of the guests was a BNP Press Officer who, much to my immense satisfaction, did his party no favours at all, since he talked over everyone else on the programme and ranted at length without really saying anything very solid. We did get the fact that BNP manifesto aims to promote rights for ‘the indigenous races of Britain’.
I was under the impression that the only indigenous races left in Britain were small bits of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Tuesday 25 November 2008

So, I take the morning off and text ‘Steve’ (once I’d fortified myself with the coffee, cigarettes and ‘Days of Our Lives’) to let him know I can meet up with him this morning, and he dutifully rang me back and told me he’d meet me in Tescos in Aintree Road.
There was something of ‘24’ about all this, what with me meeting mysterious visitors from Syria to pick up packages, although I’d rather my contact had been called Mahmoud or Abdul or something. Steve doesn’t really have that ring of international espionage about it.
Getting to Perivale was fine. I took the A-Z with me, even though international spies seem to know instinctively where everywhere is, and never have to consult maps, or else have them projected onto the inside of their contact lenses..
From the A-Z it seemed like I could walk through the Perivale Industrial Park and come out on Aintree Road. Beside the tube there was a raggedy path which had a sign reading ‘Car park’, but that wasn’t on the map at all.
So, I walked about inside the industrial estate for what seemed like hours, only to find myself going in a complete circle, and having then to go on a roundabout route through various avenues until I found Aintree Road. For some reason there seemed to be a preponderance of Indian men up scaffolding, looking at masonry and shaking their heads.
Aintree Road didn’t have a Tesco in it, so I had to ring Steve again, who gave me further directions.
I didn’t like to ring and point out, when I eventually reached it, that Tesco wasn’t on Aintree Road at all.
I had a coffee and Steve - who turns out to be a truck driver who looks like Rio Ferdinand - eventually turned up and handed over the merchandise; a gold cigarette lighter embellished with arabic lettering, and a small jewellery box with similar designs inside, as well as a letter and some pictures.
‘I had to open it,’ said Steve, ‘ in case it was drugs.’
‘That’s quite understandable,’ I said, and thanked him perhaps a little too much for going to the trouble of turning up. I was a little overwhelmed since it’s been a long time since I had coffee (or indeed, anything else) with a truck driver, and without wanting to be too rude to truck drivers as a community, they’re very seldom this cute.
Sadly, he stayed very briefly, and disappeared off to his truck to do some trucking, but it was very nice to meet him anyway, despite the labyrinthine route I’d walked to get there.
On the way back, I discovered that the raggedy car park path would have brought me straight through to where I wanted to be and saved me three-quarters of an hour of wandering about. I suspect that Argos, the God of Catalogue Shopping, is punishing me for not using his outlets as much as I should.
This evening, we tuned into the second episode of ‘Survivors’, Terry Nation’s seminal tale of life after viral apocalypse. The catastrophe is not quite as cosy as it was back in the Seventies, when the BBC series ran to about three or four seasons.
Basically, a global flu-type thing has decimated the world population, and the remaining few have to band together to survive. They’ve kept some of the original character names (such as Greg and Abby) and the central premise that Abby is searching for her son who may, or may not, be alive.
This seems a much grittier view of depopulation though, taking into account that our culture has become far more technology dependant than it was in the seventies, and perhaps that, as a nation, we have lost something of what it means to be part of a community.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Monday 24 November 2008

I should have known that a relaxing weekend can only lead to complications. I had two missed calls on my phone from yesterday from an unknown mobile number, and so texted to ask who this may be.
As it turned out it was a man called Steve. I have a friend in Syria who, it appears, had asked Steve – who had been in Syria to visit his fiancee – to deliver some gifts to me.
So, I arranged that I would meet Steve tomorrow in Perivale.
Less complicated was the fact that some books arrived for me, and an engineer I work with, who had helped Anthony Gormley (he did the Angel of The North you know) during his recent installation of life size human figures in and around the Thames, gave me a signed copy of Gormley’s book.
I tottered home with a bag full of books and some fish and chips from Marks & Spencer.

Sunday 23 November 2008

As is my normal wont of a Sunday I had a leisurely morning involving several cups of coffee and a cigarette to accompany each one, before venturing out into the grey day to get supplies, leaving the Ugly One happily tucked up on the sofa watching Columbo. I am very curious as to why, given that Columbo was running for so long, that they continually repeat the episode where Billy Connolly plays a murderous film composer who wantonly slaughters his talented young protegee. There seems no rhyme or reason to it.
It was bitter out. I suspect that humans must have hibernated at some point, or are evolving toward a species which may do so. This weather makes me want to sleep.
I went as far as Shepherds Bush where I had to go to various shops just to get chicken, coffee, rice, cigarettes and eggs.
Later I returned to find that Columbo had dealt with Billy Connolly and had moved on to Patrick McGoohan. (I am sure he was a murderer twice in Columbo but I cannot be certain).
Later I cooked Chicken Fried Rice, which was luvverly.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Saturday 22 November 2008

It is very good to have your home to yourself for a few hours. I sent the Ugly One out shopping and had a very productive day painting and catching up with many things I should have caught up with weeks ago.
By about four o’clock the vodka from last night caught up with me and I had to have a lie down, a coffee, and a couple of episodes of Days of Our Lives.
When the Ugly One returned we had dinner and watched ‘The X-Factor’. Rachel was evicted this week, which was a shame but did not surprise me since I get the impression that the judges feel she is uncontrollable. Sadly, young Noggin the Ginger has been voted through to next week, and even more disturbing was the appearance of ‘Same Difference’, the ghastly and somewhat incestuous brother and sister duo from last year. They’re actually releasing records. I knew the British public was a little dim, but I wasn’t aware things were this bad. Please don’t buy these records, I beg you. You are contributing to the slow death of genuine music.

Friday 21 November 2008

I went to a leaving party at Revolution in Clapham, a rather expensive but enjoyable venue, where I consumed many vodkas. I don’t remember much, apart from telling the doorman as I was leaving that ‘Alexandra from the X-factor’s in there, you know. She’s gyrating about on a man from the Council library section. You’d better phone The Sun’.
It wasn’t Alexandra, of course, just someone who looked very similar.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Thursday 20 November 2008

The grimness of November is depressing me already. I do not mind the cold if the sky is bright, but this relentless greyness is getting right on my vestibules.
Some time ago I related the story of the woman who stole my cigarette when I gave it to her to light her own. She ran off laughing into the Hammersmith evening.
On my way home tonight I was outside Hammersmith Tube listening to Deep Purple’s ‘Machine Head’ album.
During a lull in the rock, I heard a voice behind me say ‘Excuse me!’ and turned round to discover the very woman who had stolen my cigarette.
‘Have you got a spare cigarette, please?’ she asked.
‘No!’ I snapped, and gave her my basilisk glare of death.
‘That’s a bit rude.’ she said.
‘You may not remember,’ I said, shouting a little as Deep Purple had revved up again, ‘and looking at you, I don’t suppose you do, but last time I met you, you stole my cigarette and ran off with it. So no, I’m not going to give you a cigarette. You can Piss Off!’
I can recommend Deep Purple as a backdrop to a rousing bit of invective. It works a treat.
‘You’re just rude, you.’ she said, as if my speech had not registered at all. ‘All I asked for was some smokes..’
She then turned her attention to another man, smoking nearby.
‘Have you got any fags?’ she demanded.
‘No!’ he said.
At this, she lost all sense of composure and began to harangue me, although fortunately Deep Purple had got their wind back properly by now and she was drowned out by falsetto vocals and a keyboard solo.
‘Can you hear me?!!!!’ she screeched, clenching her fists.
‘Not well,’ I said. ‘You’ll have to screech up!’ at which the other smoking man laughed.
‘I don’t care!’ she said, ‘I don’t like either of you!’ and stormed off into the Hammersmith night.
I felt quietly avenged and would like to thank Deep Purple publicly for their supportive role.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

My lens arrived. Hoorah!
On the same day the BNP membership list mysteriously disappeared and ended up on the internet, although I am sure that the two events are not connected in any way.
The members include serving army officers, a Chelsea Pensioner, a Church of England vicar, a pagan and a witch, although, if one thinks about this rationally one could be a pagan Chelsea Pensioner witch, so maybe the BNP membership is not as diverse as one might have thought.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Reg Varney, who was famous for his role as Butler in ‘On The Buses’ has died at the age of 92. Although ‘On The Buses’ has long vanished from our screens (with the exception of rare appearances on satellite channels) the series is probably best remembered for the catch-phrase uttered by Inspector Blakey (Stephen Lewis); ‘I ‘ate you, Butler!’.
Although a very basic format in which Reg (then in his mid-fifties) played a thirty-ish bus-driver who never seemed to succeed with the ladies, the series was extraordinarily popular.
Varney’s career was far more than ‘OTB’ however, as his performances ranged over sitcoms, films and stage performance.
Sadly, I had imagined Varney to be long dead, when he had been retired and painting landscapes on the coast. Lately he had been living in a home in Budleigh Salterton.
Varney also secured his place in history by making the world's first withdrawal from an electronic automated teller machine, at a branch of Barclays Bank in Enfield, North London in 1967, which is good to remember, as it might come up in a pub quiz one day.
Instead of sending me my new camera lens, the company I had ordered it from sent me a pair of binoculars.
I sent them a vexed e-mail.

Monday 17 November 2008

The Tunisian Taxi driver, it seems, is not a man to be put off easily. As I was dressing for work he rang to tell me he was outside. I’m not the sort of person who likes to disappoint people so I let the poor man in and dealt with his needs before setting off for work.
My new camera bag arrived today. Hoorah!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Sunday 16 November 2008

It was one of those days when I couldn’t be arsed to go out. Traditionally, Sundays for me were days of despair, back in the long ago when nowhere was open and the highlight of the day was the horror of a traditional Sunday roast. To this day I am not that fond of roast potatoes, as not only do I simply not like them, they carry with them the memory of wasted days of ennui and Songs of Praise.
We live in a more enlightened age now, and here in the city most places are open and the ridiculous spectre of the Sunday licensing hours has long been banished.
However, there will always be a remnant of that dread, which is why I always try to keep myself busy on Sundays to ensure that even the tiniest threat of boredom can never raise its head.
Also, I had the good sense to marry a man who can cook properly, which means that my phobia of the Sunday roast has abated slightly, apart from the roast potatoes which I tend to compare to Mariah Carey since I am constantly baffled by their initial and enduring popularity.
I did a little more painting, but with the darkness creeping in at about three o’clock these days it’s not something I can carry through to the hours of good telly.
I toyed with my new Photoshop for a while, and discovered how to deal with RAW images, after which I resorted to roaming the world on my laptop.
While the Ugly One was out at the shops I got a call from an occasional visitor of mine, a Tunisian Taxi driver whom I met many years ago when he used to ferry me home from Bromptons in Earls Court, and who occasionally took me up the Kensington Passage as an attempt at a scenic route.
He asked me if he could turn up at 8.30 Monday morning for some pre-work rumpy-pumpy, which is a nice enough offer, but not something I wanted to consider on a Sunday afternoon, so I put him off.

Saturday 15 November 2008

After a quiet day shopping for chicken for a Thai green curry and painting a picture of my husband asleep on the sofa, our friend Robert arrived and talked his way through the X-Factor.
Later we watched the new version of ‘The Hulk’, sadly without Eric Bana this time, who had been replaced by a somewhat less hunky Edward Horton, and Arwen Eveningnews from the Lord of The Rings. Tim Roth played a soldier who was injected with some modified Hulk juice and turned into a Hulky lizard beast. Being English, he was therefore evil under the rules of Hollywood blockbusters, and it was up to the Hulk to defeat his ghastly Englishness and save the day.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Friday 14 November 2008

My mother was suitably pleased with the card, I am glad to say.
Everyone seems rather too excited about the fact that it’s Prince Charles’ birthday today. No doubt some of our more cerebrally-challenged citizens will have sent him cards, flowers and/or gifts. I am curious as to whether these are the same people who send cards and gifts to soap characters, or write to Sherlock Holmes, hoping that he’ll help them with some mystery or other. I suspect so. Devout Royalists, much like devout religious people, do not have a strong grasp on reality, and rely on some fictional idea of a model family as the head of our society.
I rang my mother to wish her a happy birthday. She met Prince Charles not so long ago when he visited her home town. She was on her way home from the shops and pushed through the crowd (as members of my family are wont to do) to find out what was going on.
‘Have you been shopping?’ asked Prince Charles, appearing in front of her like some ghastly apparition.
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘to Marks and Spencers.’
Apparently, this was the entire gist of the conversation which, upon examination, seems somewhat surreal.
Reality, when one examines it in detail, is a very strange fish indeed.

Thursday 13 November 2008

I had one of those morning when I suddenly realised that my mother’s birthday is tomorrow, so I had to make a detour from work to the card shop. My mum likes those cards with extra pages glued in with a suitably heartfelt verse on each page, and, optionally, a watercolour of a nice cottage on the front. I managed to tick all these boxes and took the card to the till.
‘Five pounds ninety-five please!’
‘How much?’
‘Five pounds ninety five!’
It’s an outrage. I know we are in an economic downturn, but inflation with respect to mothers’ birthday cards has spiralled out of control.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Rather controversially maybe, I am known (mostly by the people I know) for saying that teaching children religious concepts at an early age is tantamount to child abuse.
I stand by this, as any rational examination of the situation will show that religious teaching is merely a form of indoctrination of children which has been passed from parent to child over a staggering amount of time.
My view is that children should be shielded from any form of religious belief until the age of fourteen or fifteen, after which they can be taught the basics of whatever faith they are born into, and then choose whether to believe it or not.
Of course, many religious parents would strenuously object to this as they are well aware – albeit in denial – that a child who has grown to a point where s/he can make rational decisions would not be likely to suddenly start believing in an undetectable invisible entity.
This is one of the reasons that I am in two minds about Martin Shaw’s new supernatural drama ‘Apparitions’ in which Shaw plays a Catholic Priest whom factions of the church would like to see as the next Chief Exorcist.
In the first episode Shaw is approached by a young girl who is convinced that her father is possessed, mainly because he posts video-blogs much like this one, and reads the works of Richard Dawkins, such as ‘The God Delusion’ (an excellent and refreshing book which I highly recommend). Shaw begins to realise that the girl is right, and sets about exorcising her father. There is the obligatory gay character – in this case a priest who was cured of leprosy by Mother Therese herself – and is fighting his urges so that he can become a priest. I was quite surprised to discover that the Catholic Church does not allow gay men to be ordained.
I always thought it was more or less a qualification for the job, and as priests are supposed to be celibate surely it would prevent much of ‘that sort of thing’ going on, as Father Ted might have said.
As a drama it was very good, and has set the scene for the Church’s battle against the Devil, who is gearing up for a war.
What worries me is that many people will see this as a work based in reality, rather than a work of sheer fiction. One expects there to be an announcement at the end of the episode along the lines of ‘If you, or your family, are suffering due to the effects of demonic possession, there is a helpline which has been set up specifically to deal with the pain and trauma of these issues. Please ring us at Demonbegone on 0845 blah blah blah blah blah blah.
So, just to clarify:

1. There are no such things as demons.

2. Demons do not exist.

3. All scientifically examined cases of possession have been shown to be frauds or simple cases of mental illness.

4. There is no devil.

5. Martin Shaw cannot exorcise anyone, so please do not write to him, requesting him to do so.

6. Gay men should have more sense than to want to become priests anyway.

OK. Now you’ve taken all that on board, enjoy the show.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Tuesday 11 November 2008

There is a new series of Horizon on BBC2 in which ten people are placed together in a big house while they are studied by a panel in another room. It does sound somewhat familiar, but is a long way from Big Brother since five of the ten people have been diagnosed as having a history of mental illness, and it is up to the panel of three psychiatrists to try and spot which ones are, or were, bonkers.
This interested me because recently I have been reading some of the writings of CJ Jung, a contemporary of Freud, who had his own unique ideas about psychoses and mental illness.
Although this TV programme seems superficially to be a rather tacky and exploitative idea, there is a serious purpose here, since this is a variation of an experiment carried out in the seventies to determine how sound psychiatrist’s diagnoses were when determining the level of sanity in individuals.
In this first show, the experts correctly spotted one man as being a sufferer of OCD, but incorrectly assessed another member of the team as having had no mental health problems in the past.
In a wierd moment of synchronicity I was sent an e-mail today which pointed out that the statistics on sanity state that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends -- if they're okay, then it's you.

Monday 10 November 2008

I had big plans for today, most of which involved finishing a painting commission this morning, and then heading out into the world to spend money or stalk Polish builders.
Unfortunately, the rain was such that had I headed out I would have pounded into the pavement by the force of the downpour.

Sunday 9 November 2008

‘Days of Our Lives’ which has, of late, stuck to the mainstream storylines, has suddenly once more veered off into weirder territory.
Stefano Dimera is allegedly dead, since his ashes have been posted back to his mansion, packed neatly into a pound-shop holographic urn. His long-lost son, Tony, has arrived back with him, having somehow avoided his much publicised death some years ago. There was an explanation for this, but to be honest it was very very complicated and didn’t make a lot of sense. Suffice to say, Tony has been in a convenient soap-coma and is now back with us, albeit with a new tendency to go into catatonic states.
Everyone was getting nervous about the imminent arrival of the Gemini meteors, which were scheduled to provide a cheap firework display over Salem. John Black’s eyebrows in particular got very twitchy over the meteors, and threatened to leave his face altogether and do a rumba on top of his mullet. He is also now in possession of a mysterious blue key which he stole from the Dimera mansion.
As it turned out, the meteors were larger than expected and one at least contained two naked humanoid aliens who must have evolved on a planet with identical conditions to the white areas of North America.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Saturday 8 November 2008

My Saturday mornings are generally spent in quiet contemplation with a cigarette, a large mug of coffee, and a couple of episodes of ‘Days of Our Lives’. This morning, however, I was engrossed in a dream wherein my entire flat was four feet deep in water. However, we were endeavouring to carry out life as normal and ignoring the (rather clear) water which was lapping around our mid-regions.
The X-Factor is going in an odd direction in many ways. For reasons unfathomable to those of us with any real musical taste, the producers (or perhaps just Simon Cowell) decided that this week would be Mariah Carey week.
Mariah insisted on opening the show with her new single which she screeched in her usual ‘why use one note when thirty-seven will do perfectly well’ style of singing.
Had she been an unknown, there is no doubt that she would not even have reached boot camp.
The contestants were suitably awe-struck, and were forced to sing individually in front of Ms Carey while she stood, face fixed in a permanent botoxpression of mild and pleasant surprise.
My opinion of Cowell, which has never been very high, sank even lower when he announced, in all seriousness, that we were very lucky to have Mariah with us, as she is ‘the biggest voice in the world.’
Even on the X-Factor, which is a show famous for flinging unjustified superlatives around like Mariah Carey’s marbles, this was going way, way beyond a joke.
To add insult to injury, Laura, who was my favourite for at least the final three, and could out-perform Mariah Carey with her tongue tied behind her back, was thrown out of the show.
The announcement at the outset should have been ‘The show’s theme this week is madness, which is why we’ve invited Mariah Carey to perform.’

Friday 7 November 2008

I had a day off today, thinking that I might have a quiet weekend, catching up with the random ‘things’ I should have done long before now.
I ended up doing a bit of painting and trying to work out how to use my new Photoshop. My last Photoshop is so old it’s written in Aramaic. Now Photoshop have brought out a CS range which is both stunning to use and a little scary, since it features lots of options that are currently beyond my ability to comprehend.
However, I will persevere and will eventually conquer the histograms, paths and adjustment layers just in time for a whole new range of Photoshop to emerge and baffle me further.
Tonight I cooked Thai Chicken Fried Rice, which came out lovely, and will be put on my list of things to cook on a regular basis.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Thursday 6 November 2008

Two weeks ago (or so) I saw an article in the Daily Mirror in which Simon Cowell ‘lashed out’ as they say, something along the lines of ‘Cowell Lashes Out At Kay Spoof’. This referred of course, to Peter Kay’s brilliant and masterly Sunday night spoof ‘Britain’s Got The Pop Factor And Possibly A New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly On Ice’ which presented the final of a Cowell-esque show, complete with the judges’ corny comments, the inevitable sob stories and the opening of the golden envelope to reveal the winner.
I’m not spoiling anything by telling you that Geraldine (a Northern Ireland transsexual, played consummately by Peter Kay) was the winner, having earlier worked with one of her mentors, Sir Paul McCartney, by singing the theme from ‘Home and Away’.
Gerladine’s winning song was released as a single and went into the charts ahead of Simon Cowell’s protege from last year, Leon, who came back to the X-factor still crap and still dancing like a horse. They’ve had a year to teach him how to move about, but the boy still can’t move his legs properly, or stop a pig in an alleyway.
‘It was completely stupid and a waste of time!’ snapped Cowell icily and allegedly. This was not only due to the ‘Pop Factor’ programme itself, but to the fact that Kay has teamed up again with Gary Barlow (who co-wrote the winning song) to produce a charity single for Christmas in aid of the NSPCC.
Isn’t it curious then that two weeks ago, X-Factor suddenly decided to produce an X-Factor charity single, featuring all the finalists, even the ones who’d already been kicked out for being rubbish?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Wednesday 5 November 2008

For those of you unaware, Westfield, which has been built more or less in my back yard, is a vast shopping complex, purportedly the biggest in Europe, and was opened on Thursday by Boris Johnson (who grinned at me from the opposite seat on the tube) and Leona Lewis, who presumably didn’t come on the bus.
Westfield, as a building and a concept, is pretty impressive, although personally I feel there is rather too much of an emphasis on clothes, bags, bling, shoes and various accessories. There is one bookshop, Foyles, which is great, a branch of Jessops (Hoorah!), a disappointingly small HMV and a Waitrose.
Yesterday I bought some handmade soap from ‘Lush’ and some posh chicken and coconut samosas from Waitrose.
I am sure they could have fitted in an art shop and something that deals in kitchenware. I for one can live without additional branches of New Look and Paperchase.
‘What’s that you’ve bought?’ said the Ugly One, frowning at my multi-coloured selection of carrier bags.
‘Handmade soap, a book, and some samosas.’ I said.
‘How much was the soap?’
I told him.
‘They saw you coming!’ he snorted, although I later found him sniffing appreciatively at my citrus peel soap when he thought I wasn’t looking.
The effects of the Boris Johnson celebrity omen have not yet made themselves apparent. This worries me.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Tuesday 4 November 2008

It seems incumbent upon me to bring my readers up to date with the events of the last three months, although very little has happened in the majority of it. The Ugly One and I went to Asturias for a wedding and had a very relaxing time, despite the fact that most negotiations in restaurants were carried out by the long held tradition of pointing at the menu and saying ‘para dos’ while simultaneously holding up two fingers.
Until last Thursday life was rather calm and idyllic. I’ve been painting portraits of people I know, staying up late watching ‘Boston Legal’ and focusing my binoculars on the shirtless crane-operator high above Westfield, sitting alone in his cabin in his cut-off denim shorts.
Westfield, as most people cannot fail to know, is the new mega-mall situated on the site of the White City Olympic Village.
It opened last Thursday, with something of a splash, and a celebrity omen.
Some years back, the UO and I lived in a bedsit near Shepherds Bush Roundabout where we had to share a toilet with two large South Africans and a Kiwi couple.
Directly upstairs was a grumpy gentleman who looked a little like Mr Filch from Harry Potter. Mr Filch complained that our TV was too loud. We duly turned it down in the interests of good neighbourliness. Mr Filch complained again, and we invited him in to demonstrate the volume, which was as low as we could go without having to employ ear-trumpets.
Mr Filch was not placated and, the next morning, decided to place his radio face down on his floor (i.e. our ceiling) and blast us with Radio 2 at five o’clock in the morning. The UO was not amused by this and threatened to put Mr Filch’s radio in a place where Terry Wogan might be somewhat more muffled. Mr Filch moved out shortly afterwards.
Thursday morning, I settled down with my coffee to watch the morning news on which a reporter was interviewing Shepherds Bush residents to get their views on the opening of Westfield.
Without any warning, the face of Mr Filch appeared, spread across my screen like an evil wrinkled logo.
‘We don’t want it here!’ said Mr Filch. ‘They should have put it outside the city somewhere where it won’t bother nobody.’
It’s nice to know that the years have mellowed him.
Still in shock from this vision of the past I stumbled onto the train and sat down, only to find myself looking straight into the gormless face of Boris Johnson, on his way to the Westfield opening ceremony. Boris gave me one of those bland political smiles. I pretended not to know who he was and returned to reading ‘The Kraken Wakes’.
I can’t see that an encounter with Boris, celebrity omen though it was, could portend anything but doom.

Monday 11 August 2008

old david bowie
stalked me from the tube entrance
to the present day

Isaac Hayes is dead. That’s rather a shame, especially as he wasted a lot of his time recently with that ridiculous scientology nonsense.
Nonetheless, he will be missed.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Wednesday 6 August 2008

I think the black gay footballer from ‘Footballers’ Wives’ portended only pestilence.
I woke up this morning and felt as rough as a bear’s astrakhan coat. Thinking that I would clear my head and go in to work late, I set off and got as far as Hammersmith before a wave of dizziness swept over me, and I was forced to go back home, but not before I’d bought a Boris Karloff Frankenstein jigsaw for £2.00 from Tiger Tiger.
The Ugly One rang when I got back to tell me that he also was feeling queasy and on his way home.
So, we slept the afternoon away and then caught up with Corrie. I’m getting a bit tired of Mad-Eye Moody, who’s taken over Mike Baldwin’s Knicker Factory. Nobody likes him, apart from Carla, and even she can’t see his bulging eye, which I suspect is fitted with a Satnav Gaydar system. Even Ted, David Platt’s gay grandad, hasn’t spotted it yet.
What’s wrong with these people?
And what is Dev up to, making the beast with two backs with Nina, an ageing alleged Bollywood star? I’m finding this storyline very unwholesome, particularly as I suspect that Nina’s creepy husband Prem is lining them up for some kind of kinky Asian threesome.
They should give more lines to Amber, Dev’s wise-beyond-her-years daughter, who seems to know more about life that Dev will ever know.
Sinbad’s wife can go too. I cheered when they chucked her out the first time, and my heart sank when they let her move back in.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

As it was our anniversary we took ourselves off to The Bombay Bicycle Club on Holland Park Avenue, a slightly upmarket restaurant which does a rather nice line in fish curries. I went for a lamb fillet khabli as a starter and continued with a Monkfish Machli, which was excellent.
The Ugly One and I were deep in conversation about notable lines from Tennessee Williams films, and were stuck on the name of a film.
‘It’s ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’’ said the young man on the next table.
We thanked him and let him and his young lady get on with their dinner. It wasn’t until I sneaked out for a cigarette and got a good look at him that I realised it was the man who played the gay black footballer in ‘Footballers’ Wives’.
Oooh. Celebrity Omen! I thought. What could this portend?

Monday 4 August 2008

Thankfully, Duilia was very pleased with her portrait.
‘Oooh! It’s me!’ she squealed, on opening the brown paper in which I’d wrapped it.
‘Well, yes,’ I said. ‘Who else would it be? Bella Emberg?’
‘Never mind!’
The Ugly One went off to see ‘Gone With the Wind’ at our local cinema. I passed on that, and spent the evening with two cornish pasties, a bottle of wine and ‘Days of Our Lives’.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Sunday 3 August 2008

My portrait of Duilia is finally finished, complete with Van Gogh sunflowers and iridescent orange hair.
there was a marvellous documentary on TV tonight about two seemingly rather prim WI ladies who are part of a campaign to decriminalise prostitution in order that working women may lead safer lives.
As research they travelled with a camera crew to Amsterdam, Nevada and New Zealand, to try and find a model for a legalised British brothel.
In a New Zealand sex shop the ladies were at first bemused by the range of sexual devices on sale.
‘Can you tell me something about ‘The Arse Midget’?’ one of them enquired of an amused shopkeeper.
‘Yes lady,’ he replied. ‘It’s for sticking up your arse!’
Despite the comic moments, the programme had a serious purpose in trying to persuade the wider country at large of an issue of pure common sense. Were brothels to be legalised, the practice could be regulated, and women who, for whatever reason, find themselves working as prostitutes would be protected by employment rights, security and a clean environment in which to carry out their job.
The WI have to be applauded for their attitude and their stand on this, and the Rational Party supports them all the way.
Go WI!
This programme cheered me, having had to sit through an hour of Rex and Nicole on Big Brother. Nicole, for those of you who do not know, is the girlfriend that Rex has been banging on about for the last mythical-god-knows-how-many weeks and who has now been placed in the House as a permanent housemate.
She’s done nothing but whine ever since, while Rex holds her tight, saying things like ‘What’s wrong, Princess?’.
It would appear that Big Brother has withheld her suitcase as punishment for her jumping over the divide from Hell into Heaven. Most housemates would have taken this in their stride, but poor Nicole is bereft.
‘I’m High Maintenance!’ she keeps wailing. ‘I want my suitcase!’
When it arrives I hope someone locks her in it and posts her back to Chelsea.

Saturday 2 August 2008

Zezi Ifore, of whom it has been said ‘Everyone has a right to be ugly, but some people just abuse the privilege’ is, I think, the new Jeremy Spake.
Some people may remember Jeremy, who had a decent enough job as an Airport employee, speaking Russian to Soviet visitors on ‘Airline’. Following his popularity as the subject of a documentary series he tried his hand as a TV presenter, following which his popularity plummeted like a Lockerby suitcase.
He was then seen desperately advertising fridges in the slots between June Whitfield demonstrating stairlifts and fat people trying to get one to sign up with Ocean Finance. Jeremy was last heard of presenting ‘The Good Old Days’ in Maidstone.
Now that The Gormless Shoe Tree has been banished to the equivalent of the BBLB attic, one can only hope that we’ll next see her whizzing about on a forklift, shouting out the price of a Zanussi.
I do feel sorry for Maidstone, but as the last step on the road to obscurity, the good people of Maidstone must take heart from the fact that they are playing an important role. Please go and see Zezi in whatever end-of-the-pier slot they have planned. We must ensure she’s sent off to anonymity with a warm hand on her exit.
Once our Tesco delivery had arrived today we went off to see ‘The Dark Knight’ which was excellent, if a little extended. Heath Ledger was superb as a Joker who seemed truly disturbed and schizophrenic. I know this because I see a lot of Jokers outside the Pound Shop on Brixton Road.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Friday 31 July 2008

As we predicted (to be fair it has been the most predictable Big Brother ever) Luke was voted out of the Big Brother House. I would have preferred Dale to go.
Dale worries me since his entire vocabulary seems to be constructed around the concept of the penis. Last week, when nominating Mohamed (who seems to be only nominated because people consider him greedy. I think there’s some borderline racism going on here, as I don’t see a huge amount of people nominating Rex because he’s a pompous git, with far worse sins than greediness) his reasons for nominating him were ‘He’s a dick, a knob, a cock, a tool and a tit.’
This obsession with penis epithets can’t be healthy. I suspect part of Dale’s problem in the House is that he has no thesaurus in which to look up the word ‘penis’ and thereby find fresh new words to describe his favourite thing in the world.
Later, we watched a film called ‘Some Things Never Die’ (I think) which starred James Doohan and George Takei (Scotty and Sulu, Hoorah!). Doohan is the sheriff of a small mid-west town plagued with mysterious deaths and Takei is a mad Japanese scientist who has been campaigning for years against a new form of pesticide.
It’s an enjoyable bit of low budget hokum, although none of it makes any scientific sense at all. A new mutated species of cockroach (which metamorphoses from a worm that comes out of a lake) has been killing people all over town, and the local vet, George Takei and two teenagers try to solve the mystery and save the town.
There’s also a giant sized ‘mother’ cockroach, and they’re all living (a little predictably) up in the old mine.
I loved it.

Thursday 31 July 2008

On our DVD rental list was a film called ‘Bug’ which we imagined might be some low-budget horror about man-eating insects rampaging through a motel and destroying all in their path. After half-an-hour of nothing much happening (the lead character is an abused woman who works in the local lesbian bar and makes friends with a man her friend brought back with her. Harry Connick Jr popped in as the abusing ex-husband and popped out again.
It turned out not to be a monster-bug film at all, but a Lynch-esque exploration (based on a stage-play) of psychological control and one woman’s spiralling descent into madness.
It’s actually very good in parts but sometimes veers off into moments that seem to be either parody or comedy, although strangely, there are very few laughs in it.
Still, I felt cheated. I wanted man-eating bugs tearing down walls and roaring or hissing or clicking (which is what movie-makers seem to think giant bugs sound like).

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Wednesday 30 July 2008

It would appear, although it still needs to be confirmed, that my tireless campaign against the ghastly Zezi Ifore (the Gormless Shoe Tree) may have borne fruit.
Online reports suggest that Zezi has been relieved of live presentation of Big Brother’s Little Brother during the week, and has been relegated to ‘prerecorded segments’ from the homes of Big Brother housemates. What exactly the friends and family of the house inmates have done to deserve such punishment is unclear. Maybe it’s an additional torture inflicted in order that those on the outside share some of the suffering that housemates are experiencing in this year’s ‘Endurance’-style show.
However, it seems like cause for celebration, and I intend doing a little dance of joy outside Brixton Academy once I’ve finished my cappuccino.
No response as yet, though to my Freedom of Information request.
Although not quite as disturbing as the sight of Zezi crammed into a Fisher-Price frock, I’m becoming a tad uncomfortable watching Liz McDonald on Corrie snogging Harry Mason from the bookies. There’s something very unsavoury about him, and not just because he was a sleazy warder in Bad Girls who was murdered and came back as a ghost.
My favourite character at the moment is Blanche Hunt, who must be bribing the writers as she seems to be getting all the best lines.
Blanche is currently convinced that Ken is gay and having an affair with David Platt’s gay grandad, Ted.
‘As you know, Diedre,’ she said, ‘I’ve got nothing against the gays. I’d walk on hot coals for Paul O’Grady.’
She’s played Blanche on and off for thirty years. She deserves some kind of an award.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Tuesday 29 July 2008

I had an online chat with my mate Tom last night. He used to live in Chester but he’s lived in London for a year now and, lazy bugger that I am, I haven’t been arsed to meet up with him for a drink yet, which fact he reminded me of in no uncertain terms.
Living in London does this to you. There always seems to be a million things to do and all the time to do it in, and before you know it time has marched past with the determined air of a fat man who can smell a Greggs shop two blocks away.
So, I said, we will have to arrange a drink, but it didn’t get arranged and I’m fearful that it will be next summer before I get myself organised enough to arrange a date.
I left work early today and when I got home saw that the Ugly One (bless his little e-bay socks) had done all the washing up. So i got out my paints and tried to get some of the blue out of Duilia’s face. I had to work quickly as once more the paints were congealing at a furious pace.
‘Have you fixed her lips?’ the UO asked. I had neglected to lighten a section of her chin the day before which it made it look like she was having a stroke.
‘Yes!’ I snapped, struggling to break through the skin of titanium white.
‘Mmmmm!’ he said, with an air of Brian Sewell about him, ‘I don’t know. Mouths aren’t your thing, are they?’
Everyone’s a critic.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Monday 28 July 2008

Now and again I get e-mails or messages from well-meaning people trying to convert me to the path of righteousness.
‘Who created you?’ they ask. ‘Who created the Earth and the Mountains?’
To be honest I get very tired of explaining the theory of evolution and that mountains, although majestic and beautiful, are just the random products of geophysical movements and erosion. In fact, doesn’t that make them all the more beautiful, because they were randomly generated, rather than designed?
What are people taught in schools? It concerns me greatly that there are so many people that will not venture out of their comfort zone to even entertain the possibility that they may be wrong.
‘Ahh!’ these people say, ‘but then you can not admit you may be wrong.’
‘You are mistaken,’ I reply. ‘I quite accept the possibility that I may be wrong. The difference between us is that I have studied the evidence on both sides, and you will not even bring yourself to read some of the evidence that may change your mind.’
Absolute belief is a horrible dark thing. It traps the mind in a narrow canyon where alternative beliefs are high out of reach.
All I want is for people everywhere to be able to at least question what they are taught. I have been told many times that ‘in my religion’, and this is no specific religion, ‘we are taught that we should never question, just believe.’
There is something chillingly totalitarian about that, and I will respect no system that denies knowledge to its citizens.
I’ve come over all serious I know, but now and again I get an ache from banging my head against a wall of ignorance.
To cheer myself up, I watched ‘Days of Our Lives’. For the last couple of weeks, Philip Wet-Lettuce has been trying to get rid of a videotape made when Philip, foot-stampingly vexed with his opera-singing girlfriend Chloe, went off to spend the evening with Cynthia. Quite honestly, Cynthia and Philip deserve each other since they bring a whole new dimension to the word ‘dull’.
The tape ended up (for complex reasons we needn’t dwell on) in Belle’s VCR and Belle watched horrified as Cynthia whipped off her brassiere behind a strategically placed cheeseplant before launching herself onto a topless Philip.
It was only a matter of time before Chloe turned up. Belle is one of those people who blurt out secrets like bubblegum vomit, unwillingly, and in huge bubble portions.
‘Please don’t watch the tape!’ she screamed, apropos of nothing, in the middle of a conversation about legwarmers.
Thus, Chloe found the tape, watched it, no doubt wishing she’d had some bubblegum so she could vomit properly, before galloping off to the Dot Com cafe and slapping Philip’s bony cheeks really hard.
That must have hurt. Those cheekbones look sharp.
John Black’s eyebrows continue to scheme, independently of the rest of his face. No good will come of this.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Sunday 27 July 2008

I’m trying to paint a portrait of my friend Duilia, which is proving problematic. She’s looking very blue right now.
With a heavy heart we muted the TV sound and turned (briefly) to Big Brother’s Little Brother to see if the Gormless Shoe Tree that is Zezi Ifore has been sacked yet. Sadly no. She popped up with her face and lip gloss pressed right into the camera, presumably just in case we hadn’t noticed she was there.
Channel Four have not yet responded to my Freedom of Information request. I imagine they’ll delay it for the full twenty days, hoping that by then Zezi will have rooted in the viewers’ psyche like a permed verucha.
Oh the heat! The blasted heat! My paints were drying before I could get the brush to the canvas. I’ve been catching up sporadically with ‘Days of Our Lives’ which is turning a little mystical since both Hope and Bo Brady are having strange white flashes when they look at Baby Isaac. Baby Isaac (bear with me) is Hope’s baby, but not Bo’s. It was switched at birth in the hospital by evil Stefano Dimera, and was taken home by Lexy and Abe Carver (Lexy is Stefano’s evil daughter. Abe is the oldest and stupidest policeman in the world). No one knows who the father is, since Hope was once brainwashed by a computer chip into believing she was Princess Gina (of a small European country the size of a large Asda) and while tarting about in her tiara, stealing jewels across Europe, she had more shags than a cormorant sanctuary.
John Black’s eyebrows are as mobile and independent as ever and I suspect that they are planning to take over John’s new business venture ‘Basic Black’.

Saturday 26 July 2008

The British invariably complain with an inevitability bordering on the mystical, usually about the weather. Being British, I carry this sociogenetic trait with me like a moaning cross. ‘It’s too hot!’ is my current mantra. Added to that, the Ugly One insists on having fans blasting all through the house which irritates me, as I would rather put up with the ambient heat than having warm air fired at me by a machine.
‘Why don’t y’all have AC?’ Americans will ask, to which I generally respond, ‘There’s no point, since we don’t need it for eighty percent of the year, and besides, it dries up my contact lenses and the British have taken on far too many American ideas already.’
So, should we complain? Why do we complain?
Personally, I find it quite enjoyable. There’s a masochistic side to the British psyche which allows us to bond with other sufferers. We make more friends who share some sort of target of complaint than anything else. Some time ago, I made quite a few friends from the society I set up The AC/DC (the Anti Celine Dion Campaign) which sought to ween addicts of this whining pathos-vampire away from the darkness and into the light.
I am sure that many people who have moaned to each other at bus-stops about the rain/sun/fog/hail/buses/new Celine Dion album have ending up shagging like rabbits.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Friday 25 July 2008

We had one of those Lou Reed perfect days today, well almost perfect. last year I bought the Ugly One a voucher to become a Keeper for a Day at London Zoo, and today was the day he booked.
I took the day off so that I could go along later and watch him being mauled by vicious gibbons. Within an hour of his leaving he rang me to tell me he was lost, and I had to give him directions via a very unhelpful Google map.
On my way out, someone pulled the emergency alarm on the Tube, so i was stuck at Ladbroke Grove for what seemed like half an hour but was, in all probability, just a few minutes.
After that, I got lost and had to fall upon the kindness of Regents Park strangers to tell me where the zoo was.
‘I’ll see you with the ring-tailed lemurs at 2’ the Ugly One texted me.
I think the man at the London Zoo ticket office gave me a pitying look because I was the one person going into the zoo on my own. He did not however, reduce the entry price of £17.00. Blimey. I could buy half a meercat for that.
After a seemingly fruitless search for lemurs (which the map assured me were in zone C2) I finally found them in zone D2, just in time to see the UO emerge into the cage with a proper keeper and bucket of fruit.
The rest of the day went without a hitch, and the UO got to muck out some African pigs, feed the giraffes, meercats, lemurs, llamas and a grouchy looking lion, after which we had a stroll round the reptile house, said hello the gorillas, bought some souvenir mugs and came home.
The screaming monster Rebecca was evicted, as I predicted, and we toasted the common sense of the British public with Chinese food and two bottles of wine.
If Lou Reed’s reading this, he ought to write another song.

Thursday 24 July 2008

I’m getting a lot of readers from Reading, for reasons which are not entirely clear. I’m just hoping it’s not both of Zezi Ifore’s fans who are taking note of my (to be fair entirely justified) negative criticism and are planning my downfall.
BB9 is proving to be somewhat interesting since so far all the people I wanted to go have actually gone: The ghastly and possibly mentally ill Alex; the selfish, nasty and horrible Sylvia; the travesty that was Dennis (let’s face it, he was just Shabaz with flexible legs) and hopefully this week, the spoilt and terminally sociopathic Rebecca.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Wednesday 23 July 2008

I’m thinking of getting a digital camera. I still have my old ‘proper film’ SLR Olympus somewhere, and have just read that I will still be able to use my old SLR lenses on a new digital Olympus with the use of a handy adaptor. Hoorah!
Channel 4 have acknowledged my Freedom of Information request and promise to get back to me within twenty days.
In some cases, they have informed me, a fee may be payable. They can go and boil their heads. I would have thought that Freedom of Information meant Information that was Free.
I enjoin you all to submit your own FOI requests which can be done very easily via the Channel 4 website. No doubt there are questions about Zezi Ifore’s recruitment which you would like to ask yourself.
The more the merrier! Hoorah!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Tuesday 22 July 2008

I cannot believe that the ghastly Zezi Ifore (known fondly to us all as The Gormless Shoe Tree) has still not been sacked, despite not turning up for the show on the Sunday before last after a drunken night out at a top night club.
Apparently she was called in for a chat with the producers, but is unaccountably still on the show, despite not being able to string a sentence together even with the help of a big needle and a long piece of string.
Tellingly, all the other BB presenters present a written blog on the C4 website. Zezi has only a minimal video blog which no doubt conceals her failings in the spelling and grammar department.
I have now submitted a Freedom of Information request to Channel 4 to find out why she was appointed in the first place. the questions I have asked are as below:-

I would like to know:-

1. Does Zezi Ifore have any relatives working for Endemol or Channel 4

2. How many other applicants were considered for the post as co-host of Big Brother's Little Brother?

3. Whether the other applicants had broadcasting/presenting experience.

4. The name of the person who decided to give Zezi Ifore the job.

5. What are the key skills listed in the Job Description for co-host of BBLB.

Monday 21 July 2008

I am mindful that I have not updated this blog for a while, having been busy with other things, namely a week off to do some painting, as well as a short couple of days being on strike, during which I had the chance to record my somewhat dubious views for the world, but , to be frank, couldn’t be arsed.
Last Thursday was a high point when the Ugly One and I went to the O2 to see Leonard Cohen in concert.
There was a time when Leonard Cohen’s music did not interest me, until a fateful day when some friends of mine forced me (it may have been at gunpoint, as in those days it might have been the only way to force me to do anything) to listen to his ‘I’m Your Man’ album. This was one of many musical epiphanies I’ve experienced over the years, and now I am far more open to listening to something outside my musical comfort zone, although I still tend to draw the line at hip-hop and popular manufactured Cowell-esque pap.
Cohen is seventy-four, and far more humourous than one would have imagined for a man whose early albums tend to be associated (somewhat unfairly) with depression and suicide.
‘I’ve studied all the great religious philosophies...’ Cohen announced in his trademark graveyard voice, ‘but cheerfulness kept breaking through.’
Our seats were in the upper tiers, a nightmarishly steep bank of seating, and we were unfortunate enough to be sitting in front of an old Spanish man who talked loudly (in Spanish) through most of the performance. Despite this, I can honestly say that this was one of the best concerts I have seen in many years. So impressed was I, in fact, that I’ve booked two more tickets for his concert in November. We’re still in the upper tiers, but not so far back, and the O2 could not guarantee that we would be free of garrulous Spaniards.
There’s been some bad news on the common sense front, since the registrar fired for refusing to marry gay couples has won her case.
Speaking after the case, Miss Lillian Ladele (the bigoted individual concerned) said: "I am delighted at this decision. It is a victory for religious liberty, not just for myself but for others in a similar position to mine.
"Gay rights should not be used as an excuse to bully and harass people over their religious beliefs."
I can understand her point. It’s not as if the Christian Church has ever bullied and harassed gay people over their sexual orientation, is it?

Monday, 30 June 2008

Saturday 28 June 2008

On my way home today on the District Line three slightly drunken Australian men got on, cans of beer in hand, and sat contemplating the sign above my head which read ‘Drinking alcohol is prohibited on all London Underground Lines’
‘Will we get fined?’ one asked.
‘I don’t think so, mate. It says it’s just prohibited.’
Then, in true Australian fashion, they proceeded to take photographs of each other with their noses pressed against the glass partitions.
Then they took a photo of me.
‘You don’t mind being on Facebook do ya, mate?’
‘Not at all’ I said, although I wish I’d asked them where exactly I was going to be featured.
‘Can you take a photo of the three of us?’ one of them asked.
‘OK’ I said, and took the camera that was being thrust toward me.
‘Of course,’ he said. ‘If it’s shit we’ll have to throw you off the train.’
I raised an eyebrow and held up the viewfinder as they arranged themselves across two seats, one of them sprawled across the laps of the other two.
I took two pictures, and handed the camera back.
‘Oh! Well done mate. Can you take another? We’ll do a different pose.’
This time the two of them sat on the seats while the third leaned over with his back to me. As I centred the scene one of the seated men reached around and pulled the third guy’s pants down, exposing an exceedingly hairy arse.
I took two pictures, savoured the moment and took another.
‘Have you done it yet?’ asked Mr Hairy Arse.
‘I’m just getting the composition right,’ I said, and took a fourth.
Then I handed the camera back and they thanked me.
‘Do you want to come to my birthday party tonight?’ asked the big chunky one.
‘I’d love to,’ I said, ‘but I have plans.’
Then they all got out at Barons Court and I was left with an Indian mother glaring at me as if she were Britney Spears and I were a lone defenceless paperazzo, and her daughter, who seemed highly amused by the whole thing.
As was I. It quite made my day.

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Let the madness be unconfined.

“A mayonnaise ad that shows two men kissing has been withdrawn from television after 200 viewers complained that it was offensive.
Heinz, which makes the New York Deli Mayo featured in the commercial, pulled the advertisement less than a week into its expected five week run, in response to the criticism.
Viewers told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the ad was inappropriate and unsuitable for children to see. The ASA has not yet decided whether to launch an investigation.
Heinz apologised for any offence caused. “

I’m kind of incensed by this. It seems that Heinz withdrew the ad voluntarily before the ASA had decided anything.
The ad features a family scene in the morning where ‘the mother’ has been replaced in the kitchen by a brawny New York Deli chef whom the children call ‘Mum’. The NYDC is given dialogue appropriate to the dialogue of a mother, and when the husband is leaving says ‘Ain’t ya forgetting something?’, whereupon the husband walks over and gives him a goodbye kiss.
"Love ya! Straight home from work, sweet cheeks," says the chef.
I am rather confused that this ad was deemed unsuitable for children to see. Why the hell is it unsuitable? It is not even suggesting there is any gay relationship. It’s a visual metaphor, and quite a funny one. On the other hand, even if it was a gay relationship, why would that have to be removed from TV?
Supposing this was an inter-racial relationship and 200 people rang up to say this was unsuitable for children to watch? Would the ASA (or Heinz for that matter) actually take any notice? 200 people is a very small number and I suspect that the majority of them go to churches with very long names. In my experience, the longer the name of the Church, the higher the percentage of certifiable bigots within.
Shame on you, Heinz. I for one will get my mayo from somewhere else in future. Yours is beginning to taste very nasty.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Tuesday 24 June 2008

Sylvia has become quite evil. However, I imagine that as she has been nominated by at least half her housemates, she will be going on Friday. Mohammed has also been nominated, but he has not been half as annoying as this spoilt young harridan.
You’d imagine that someone who escaped at gunpoint from a civil war would have a little more humility, civility and respect for other human beings.
Meanwhile, back in the BBLB House, The Gormless Shoe Tree known as Zezi Ifore continues her lemming-like rampage toward the cliff of obscurity.
I have had reports (since I try to watch the show as little as possible while she is present) that Zezi, banished to do a report from the camera run - where presumably she could do no more harm than squash the occasional cameraman to death - somehow managed to push her face so close to the one way glass that many of the Housemates saw her.
‘Oh no! Did they see me?’ wailed the Porky Permed One in a panic. This is an achievement that not even the stupidest of celebrities has managed to pull off. One would have thought that the presenter of the show could have managed to keep herself from buggering things up, but no. I use the term ‘presenter’ very loosely though. My latest theory is that she’s on work experience.