Friday, 30 October 2009

Thursday 15 October 2009

I’m a bit bemused as to why someone should want to thump Leona Lewis. I can only imagine it’s because Celine Dion wasn’t available.

Monday 5 October 2009

This morning after the usual breakfast (toast, sausages, bacon, egg, black pudding and baked beans, with coffee) we checked out of the hotel, waved off by its genial and eccentric host, Robert, and set off for the Scottish Folk Museum, since no one wanted to sign up for a trip to see the dolphins in the Firth of Moray.
I haven’t really mentioned our fellow travellers much. On the whole, they are a friendly bunch. There are two who look like the couple in the painting ‘American Gothic’. I suspect the husband is a retired army man and is always very neatly and properly turned out. He is also very fond of his red wine.
Every day we’ve had breakfast and dinner with a couple called Ted and Jean. Despite their ages, they are both very fit. Until now Ted has done only backpacking holidays, which isn’t something I can imagine pensioners doing on a regular basis. He has let his garden run fallow ‘to encourage wildlife’ he says, although Jean rolls her eyes at this. Ted and Jean are my favourites although I also like John and Margaret. They are couple who fell over independently in the reindeer enclosure. Margaret is quite chubby and jolly while John is taller and thinner with a wry sense of humour. He carries a dated Nikon SLR camera which uses real film and looks on digital photography as ‘point and click’ blasphemy.
I showed him my Olympus E420 but he wasn’t impressed.
There are two couples from Bristol and Yorkshire who have commandeered the back seat of the coach and talk interminably about memory foam mattresses and terminal diseases.
When we arrived at the Folk Museum our tour guide was planning to show us round, but while we were waiting for someone to fix the projector in the introductory video room, we decided to show ourselves around.
It’s basically a large area where bygone buildings have either been recreated or dismantled on site and reassembled here, so one can see original sheep shearer’s cottages, an original village post-office, a sweet shop, a farm etc. etc.
The farm features real animals and the UO was treated to the bizarre spectacle of a cat catching a mouse and eating the whole thing, apart from one piece, which appeared to be a blue-green section of intestine.
We then ended up in Dingwall, a very dour town where the locals seemed to be angry at having been forced to live there. The UO and I went to The Viking Bar where a Scots version of Hurley from Lost was working behind the bar. We comprised of half the pub’s customers, the other two being a nice old lady and a man playing a ‘Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?’ slot machine.
We only went in to use the toilet. Outside we’d seen two signs, more or less pointing at each other saying ‘Toilets’ but we could find none in the area between them. I suspect that angry locals had moved the signs around in order to punish non-locals for having the good sense to live somewhere else.
Then we drove up to the top of a mountain so that people could take photos of the view. There should have been more of that sort of thing.
Finally we were returned to Inverness where the UO and I went back to ‘Pyramid’, a shop we’d seen on our first arrival, but which hadn’t been open. It sells gothic objet d’art and we were keen on a figure of Death holding a sign that says ‘Welcome’. We also bought a figure of a dragon, ‘Luminax’ which holds a T-light in each outstretched clawed hand. I could well imagine Mo, the Blair Athol tour guide, pointing these out and explaining their origins and significance to interested visitors to our home.
We found a Chinese Restaurant, ‘The Mandarin Palace’, boasting itself as ‘The Only Real Chinese Restaurant in Inverness.’ Above the urinals in the gents a sign had been put up which read ‘Please stand closer. Your Big John is not as big as you like to think it is.!’
The food was excellent. I also particularly liked the crazy Chinese waitress who asked us if we were OK with chopsticks.
‘If you make a mess.’ she said, ‘we will have to ask you to do some washing up.’
Finally we tried out a sixteen year old Glen Roth single malt whisky in the Royal Highland Hotel outside the station before collecting our bags and finding our bunks on the allnight train, where I am now. The UO has banished me to the top bunk.
I don’t care. I just want to sleep the sleep of the just can’t be bothered to stay awake.

Sunday 4 October 2009

Today we went off to The Reindeer Centre which is less a centre than a vast area in which reindeer are allowed to roam and multiply, like retired maths teachers. I had thought reindeer to be alien to the UK, but apparently they were plentiful here until about 2000 years ago when they disappeared for unknown reasons, but which was no doubt connected with early venison burgers.
They were reintroduced fairly recently in millennial terms and now there are around a couple of hundred roaming around.
After negotiating a tortuous series of stone steps we emerged onto a mountain plain to meet the reindeer which we were allowed to feed by hand.
It was a day of minor casualties. Two of our party fell over and a woman who bent down to get some feed was summarily mounted by a short-sighted stag. She leapt up with a squeal and the reindeer fled, leaving not only hoofprints on her shoulders, but a sinister glistening stain on the back of her skirt.
The Ugly One was similarly mounted as we left the enclosure. The last thing we expected when we embarked on this holiday was to be sexually assaulted by reindeer. I’d have preferred the kilted prison officers, but as I have discovered in life, one can’t have everything in this world. Not straightaway anyway.
After a pleasant and very filling lunch in Aviemore, not even spoiled by the screaming presence of several annoying children, we took the steam train trip to Glenbogle (which somehow has stuck in my head as being called Benfogle) from whence we headed back to the hotel for an early dinner.
The ME & D tonight was a very good performer with an electric accordion although we did not see much of him. We went upstairs to find out who the finalists of X-Factor were.
Louis Walsh has picked those eejit Irish twins, Famine and Pestilence or whatever their names are. I’m with Simon Cowell, unusually, on this. ‘Hate them! Hate them! Hate them!’
I pointedly push my finger onto a flat surface with each repetition.

Saturday 3 October 2009

After rising at an ungodly hour, we ate a hearty breakfast and set off for The Isle of Skye, breaking off only to visit Eilean Donan Castle to take some photographs. Apparently it’s featured in a lot of films and TV shows and is popular for weddings. The castle is closed this afternoon as there is a wedding going on. It’s likely to be a gothic ceremony as the sky is overcast and looking bleak in a particularly Scottish way.
As we approached the West Coast of Scotland the heavens opened and clouds descended to shroud the peaks of bleak scarred mountains, a phrase for which I apologise since I seemed to have been momentarily possessed by a Bronte sister.
I can’t help finding this scenery very beautiful, however. It appeals to my sense of the gothic. Brilliantly white foaming rivers were pouring down the sides of the mountains. The mountains themselves, when in sunlight, were a complex mixture of colours which ranged from a rusty salmon pink to a lovely shade of pistachio. I’m Ok there, as the Brontes would never have used the word ‘pistachio’.
By the time we got to Skye the rain had passed and we crossed the Skye bridge to be greeted by the sight of ‘A Taste of India’ emblazoned across the first restaurant we saw as we arrived on the island. Hoorah!
We had fish and chips in a sea-front restaurant in Portree, one which had apparently been frequented by Hugh Firmly-Wherewithall. A photograph of Hugh being firmly gripped by the manager lest Hugh escape before the photo was taken had been mounted and hung on the wall.
It seemed a popular place. Half of our coach party were there, as well as six well-dressed men conversing in gallic. At that point our tour guide waltzed in with his young friend and commandeered a table. He has a very loud and carrying voice, and either didn’t realise or didn’t care that the entire restaurant was privy to his conversation.
‘Oh! I didn’t tell you about the Thai girl my brother brought back from abroad!’ he announced to the young friend.
‘No! Thai girl! A girl from Thailand. I’m sure he bought her on the internet. Anyway, they came to London and stayed at my house, and when I got back I found she’d Feng Shuied right through. The walls had been repainted, half my furniture was in storage and the rest had all been shifted round.
‘I was livid!’
I ordered their recommended fish and chips, having toyed with the idea of the Cullen Skink, and made a visit to the toilet before it arrived.
Bizarrely, the mirror had been put in the toilet at a level where, unless one was six foot nine, one would have to stand on the toilet to use it.
This evening I had prawn and apple cocktail (surprisingly delicious), scampi (with vegetables rather than chips… odd) and mandarin cheesecake. We have now discovered that every dessert comes drizzled with the same red fruity sauce, although it has not as yet been properly identified.
The Blue Knights were in full kilt regalia tonight and very nice they looked too. A different musical duo (violin and accordion) were also trying to get people to do Scottish Country Dancing. Why don’t they just play the music? It’s nice enough as it is.
The angry barman, who for reasons of his own has decided that we are his new best friends, looked at me and nodded at the large lady playing the violin.
‘She’s got a right attitude problem,’ he said. ‘I’m tempted to smack her over the head with this!’ and brandished the empty wine bottle he was clutching with a desperate white-knuckled grip.
‘O…K…’ I said slowly, and decided that this might be a good moment to leave him and The Blue Knights and retire to my room. I might have been suspected of stealing hotel memorabilia and chased with a stick, and not in a nice way.

Friday 2 October 2009

The castle turned to out to be Castle Blair or Blair Athol, which is an ancient stately home. It boasts not only ballrooms and corridors filled with deer-skulls and antlers, but a private army, lots of wonderful furniture and paintings and a guide called Mo who was probably the best guide of any sort I have ever come across. I’m surprised that some TV company hasn’t snapped her up already. I loved her and wanted to take her home so that she could guide people round our flat and say witty things about the paintings and objets d’art.
We had lunch (a fish and chips tea for £6.95… Haddock, chips, tea, and bread and butter) in Pitlochry, having already been warned by the bus driver not to be late back, (‘When the big hand is on the two..’ he said.). We then set off for ‘The Queen’s View’ which is more or less a ledge with a railing which afforded a fabulous view of a river winding past a range of mountains.
Luckily for us, cloud was creeping around the mountain-tops which afforded opportunities for some nice photographs.
This evening, the ME & D consisted of a blind woman (plus dog) and an organist who were alternating between Karaoke and Scottish Country dancing. The blind woman was teaching the dancing. Luckily a large group of men and women (many of the men were sporting shirts that read ‘Blue Knights) arrived to take over the singing and dancing.
Who could have predicted that we would be staying in a Scottish hotel at the same time as a convention of Police and Prison Officer Bikers? We chatted to one called Ross, who was very nice and reminded me of someone but I haven’t worked out whom yet.
It turns out that our tour guide lives in Holland Park (literally). He said something about looking after the peacocks, but he’d had two pints of the local brew by then and was becoming slurred, so it could be that he actually looks after Peacocks which sells cut-price T-shirts in Shepherds Bush precinct.
The feisty barman seems determined to be angry about everyone and everything. He showed us a stick that he keeps behind the bar to threaten rowdy residents with. Last year, he told us, they had the army staying at Christmas and he had to employ the stick to stop the soldiers stealing hotel memorabilia. I somehow doubt this as the hotel has very little memorabilia that one would wish to steal and had this man threatened soldiers with a stick they would no doubt have squashed him like a small English gooseberry.
I think I would like to live here. It’s full of my kind of people.

Thursday 1 October 2009

We awoke just outside Inverness. I say ‘awoke’ as I had spent a somewhat restless night rattling across Britain in a train while lights occasionally flashed in. At about 5am I realised, while temporarily awake, that the lights were going in the wrong direction and that at some point the train had stopped and set off backwards, the way we had come.
There was a problem, it transpired, with the coach that should have been there to meet us. However, we were instructed to leave our luggage in the charge of Gary, and to go and explore Inverness, which we did. It’s a lovely place. What we thought was a castle, was a castle, but also turned out to be the local sheriff’s court office.
I took a photo of a seagull sitting happily on the head of a statue of man gazing meaningfully out over the River Ness.
Later, we had a Scottish breakfast in ‘The Filling Station’ which comprised of bacon, Lorn sausage, black pudding, haggis, beans, tomato, fried egg and a bit of flat potato bread. The waiter was, I think, Italian.
The coach duly turned up, but not before I had witnessed the heartening spectacle of an orderly queue of people forming in the station, waiting to board the train.
And so, we set off for Loch Ness, initially having a wander around Drumnadrochit, a village which appears to boast two rival Loch Ness Visitor Centres and a plethora of shops selling Loch Ness merchandise and the campest taxi office in the world, festooned with roses and sporting a life-size artificial heron guarding its doors.
As the Ugly One stayed way too long skulking round the kilt shop we were told off by Gary for being late back for the coach.
Our next voyage of discovery was a trip to castle Urquhart on the banks of the Loch and a trip across Loch Ness itself on one of the tourist transit boats. One company, it appears, has this lucrative franchise, and their boats are named after the Jacobites whose history is so closely tied in with Castle Urquhart and Loch Ness itself. I was hoping that we were going to be riding on the Jacobite Queen, but ultimately we ended up on the Jacobite Spirit, where we were given a taped lecture on the Loch itself, accompanied by an Enya-esque soundtrack.
At the far end were yet more cafes and Nessie-themed shops. The locals, obviously, have a vested interest in keeping the Nessie legend alive.
So far, we have seen two men in kilts, just going about their normal business.
By this time we were exhausted and relieved that we were finally heading off to our hotel.
‘We’ll be there in about an hour,’ said Gary.
Some time later we arrived at the Nethybridge Hotel and as we were disembarking, noted a hotel employee come storming out, stand for a moment looking very vexed, and then storm back in again.
We took in our bags and went to reception where a very flustered manager was trying to cope with the influx.
Dinner, we’d been told, was at seven, so we had about an hour and a half to freshen up, relax and revitalise.
I was grateful to discover a proper bath and began running it immediately.
One odd thing is that the key-fob – which bears the number of the room and the name of the hotel – seems to be about seven inches log and two inches wide. What is the need for that?
Back in reception, on the way to the bar for a quick snifter before dinner, I was entranced (if that is the right word) by the sound of bagpipes which I assumed was being played on CD from somewhere in the hotel. To my surprise, the music stopped for a moment and a bagpiper – in full regalia – walked in through the front door, checked something in his bag, and then fired up his pipes and carried on. Hoorah!
Dinner was salmon mousse, smoked haddock with mozzarella and tomato, and black forest gateaux, drizzled with some kind of strawberry syrup.
The Ugly One went back to our room to pick something up, and the rest of us were herded through to another room for coffee and ‘Musical Entertainment and Dancing.’
As the ‘ME & D’ was setting up, I asked Gary about the vexed employee who stormed out when we arrived.
‘Oh Her!’ said Gary, who had, I suspect, been at the scotch. ‘well, she’s a feisty queen. Apparently he wanted to come on the coach to talk to you all, which I’d have been fine with… had I been told!
‘As it was, everybody just piled off and he didn’t get to make his big speech…’
I discovered later that he was talking about the hotel manager, and not the disgruntled employee, who turned out to be a feisty English barman.
The UO, it appears, had been sick. I decided to forego the ‘ME & D’ and set off for bed also. I’m exhausted. How do these old people do it? I want those drugs.
Tomorrow it’s Pitlochry. I’m not sure what that is. I think there might be a castle involved.
Outside our window there’s a horse in a coat.

Wednesday 30 September 2009

It is my birthday today. To be honest, I had completely forgotten that it was my birthday until the Ugly One reminded me. My mind was elsewhere. I have been on medication which, though as efficacious as medicinal compound, has the side effect of causing me extreme anxiety and panic attacks.
Today, we are setting off for Scotland, so I hied away to Hammersmith to do some last minute emergency supply purchasing, namely diarrhoea tablets (mainly as a psychological buffer) Rennies and paracetamols.
I toyed with the idea of purchasing additional pants from Primark, but as I have already filled our suitcase with new trousers, I felt this wouldn’t go down well.
We are booked on an overnight sleeper train to Inverness and had to present ourselves at Euston Station Reception at 8.30 pm.
I had to share the weight of the bag with the UO on the walk from the Tube to the Railway Station, worried that the additional weight was comprised of Primark cargo pants. I resolved to abandon the medication, reasoning that this was not something of sufficient importance to cause me to worry. I also resolved that, should the pants prove to be too weighty, I would leave them in Inverness for the benefit of the Scottish homeless before I returned.
We were met at Euston Station reception by a chatty young man called (as I thought) Gary, who slapped lime-green labels on us and several elderly couples to distinguish us from the general riff-raff wandering about on the concourse.
‘I’ll collect you all in a while and take you to the train,’ he said.
It was likely to be a half-hour so I walked over to café Something-azza to get the UO and I a coffee.
I’m not sure when the concept of a plain coffee disappeared. The menu had a bewildering list of coffee titles. I’m familiar with cappuccino, but I do object to all these additional fresh coffee hells through whose froth I have to wade to get to an ordinary coffee. There’s frappuccinos and skinny lattes and long tall short variations.
A medium latte was £2.45 so I ordered two of these and gave the serving girl £4.90. Her eyes widened with a strange delight.
‘Oooh!’ she said, ‘How did you know how much it would be?’
I pointed to my lime-green label. ‘Some of us can work things out in our own heads,’ I replied.
She looked suitably impressed.
By the time I got back, the UO had snatched up a ten euro note floating around the station like tumbleweed and more of our fellow passengers had arrived and been lime-green labelled. We began to suspect that we were likely to be the youngest people on the trip. This is not necessarily a bad thing. At least there are no screaming children, at least not yet that is, as we are due to pick up more of our happy band at about 1am an undisclosed location.
Right now, we are ensconced in our two berth cabin on a Caledonian Sleeper with a bottle of Magners each.
The UO had made us chicken and bacon baguettes to eat on the train and which have been duly eaten.
The walls are thin. We could clearly hear the lady in the next cabin asking the steward if she could open the window.
‘The train goes at over a hundred miles an hour, madam,’ he replied in a suitably Scots brogue. ‘You’d just be sucked oot!’

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Sunday 27 September 2009

Martinet (n.) Any small Martin

I had another quiet day at the Celebrity Sauna. There were no celebrities in evidence, sadly. I was half-expecting Russell Crowe to turn up, but no doubt he heard that I was going and decided against it. He still hasn’t returned our Slo-cooker and is, I suspect, loth to face me.
The Masked people I met up with last week have posted some links on my entry of 19 September to some anti-scientology sites, which you would be well-advised to check out.

Friday 25 September 2009

Gormandiser (n.) A device patented in the late Eighteen Nineties, purported to be the only machine capable of curing people of gormlessness.

On a whim we decided to order Chinese food, which, when we finally delved into it, had arrived with half the wrong dishes; all the Ugly One’s.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Thursday 24 September 2009

Alcove (n.) Archaic term for a rum-smuggler’s bay

I had to attend a Plain English course today, which was OK as far as it goes. I am sure. however, that most of our staff could do with a preliminary term of adult literacy before dealing with plain English.
The trainer was very good, but had a cold and was coughing over her students. It did not inspire confidence. The refreshments were basic to the point of being Spartan and the blinds were broken which meant that the morning sun was shining directly into our eyes.
‘I’ll get the Facilities people to sort it out,’ said the trainer, between coughs.
A man came in some fifteen minutes later and announced ‘The blinds are broken!’ without even looking at them, and then departed as suddenly as he had appeared.
It isn't like this in 'Spooks'.

Monday 21 September 2009

Mystagogue (n.) A steamy Jewish sauna

The ghastly Jordan now fears that she will be attacked by an angry mob of mere mortals following her recent claim that she was raped by a celebrity in 2003. Let’s hope so.
Are there any depths this woman won’t plumb to keep herself in the news?

Sunday 20 September 2009

Technophile (n.) A list or database of Nineteen Nineties dance tracks

I went for a soujourn down to the Bush of Shepherds where I bumped into Robert and his new dog, Henry. Henry attempted to get into my Morrisons bags to eat my sausage rolls.
Morrisons now sell venison burgers, which are lovely.

Saturday 19 September 2009

Arcadian (adj.) In the manner of one who frequents one-armed bandit parlours.

Having picked up my spectacles in Tottenham Court Road I came out to be confronted by a crowd of young people in V for Vendetta masks. They were holding up a sheet which read ‘Scientology is corrupt, sinister and dangerous’ which is, apart from being undoubtedly true, a quote from a member of our judiciary.
At the risk of being mistaken for a scientologist, I took a photograph of one of the masked protesters who was in the process of texting someone.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Friday 18 September 2009

Telephony (n.) The sister of Cacophony. In Greek mythology she was abducted by Persil and carried off to the Underworld, to be eventually rescued by Radox.

I had a hospital appointment this morning at 10.15, but was eventually ushered into the consultant’s presence at around 11.45. I went through the usual procedure of undressing, being examined, and getting dressed again, a process to which I am becoming frighteningly accustomed. Things are improving, it appears, and from now on I will be the problem of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and not St Mary’s.
I returned to work for a couple of hours and then, finding myself at something of a loose end, I headed for the celebrity sauna. As far as I could see there were no celebrities in attendance, although it has to be said that the lighting in the steam room was so low that I could, in theory, have been sitting next to Duncan from Blue. Yes, I realise it could just as easily have been Paul Daniels, but I reserve the right to select my imaginary celebrities in alphabetical order.
When I got home there was a card, letting me know that my new spectacles are ready for collection.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

epiphenomenon (n.) The alleged spontaneous appearance of phantom strips of cloth on one’s shoulders.

It is rather unfortunate that the death of Felix Bowness at 87, a veteran TV comic actor, was eclipsed by the deaths of Patrick Swayze and Keith Floyd. Although the name of Felix Bowness will not be that familiar to people these days, he was well-known enough to have received the big red book in ‘This is Your Life’ back in 1985.
Bowness is perhaps best known for playing Fred Quilly in the BBC sitcom ‘Hi De Hi’, although he also played alongside Benny Hill in his TV shows of the 60s.

Monday 14 September 2009

Skanky Ho! (interj.) A phrase which Captains of British marine vessels are obliged to shout when leaving dock.

Feeling a tickly beast lurking in my throat, and not in a good way, I rang in and was promptly told not to come in, for fear of having the pernicious swine flu.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Sunday 13 September 2009

Glamour (n.) see GLIMMER

I took a trip to Southall with the camera to try and capture some of the wildlife. I had intended to meet up with my mate Amin, but it seemed he was determined not to answer his phone.
On the way back I stopped off at the giant Morrisons in Acton.
Some years ago I started collecting the names of shops with tacky names, which were for reasons unknown to man, mostly hairdressers. ‘Charles’N’Dye’ springs to mind.
Outside Morrisons is an Acton based florist called Act On Impulse. Sheer genius, I was thinking, while waiting for the 207 to take me home.
A woman in front of me was talking to a group of her friends very loudly.
‘I don’t think I’m a racist. People have told me I’m not a racist, but I have to say, they come over here, and then they start popping babies out, right, left and centre.’
The bus arrived at that moment, so I was not able to determine exactly which community she was so eloquently describing.

Saturday 12 September 2009

Glimmer (n.) A man who is employed to glim his female customers as a preparation for full-blown glamming, carried out by one or more glamours.

Went to work. Came home. Saw the X-Factor, and the last episodes of ‘The Wire’ which depressed me far more than I thought it would. I had come to rely on The Wire as my comfort in times of need, and now it is no more.
I need some form of closure.
This afternoon I had to go to Morrisons to pick up some food for dinner. In the normal course of events I try to avoid Saturdays as inevitably those who have nothing to do during the rest of the week decide that they will take their children with them for a weekly shop.
Luckily I got a free till almost immediately. Opposite me, a woman was complaining that a large packet of frozen meat she had picked up was showing up as four pounds ninety-nine
‘It was one nineteen last week.’
‘It’s four ninety-nine madam,’ said the very patient checkout man.
‘I know, but I’m sure it should be one nineteen’
The vpcm called for someone to go and check the price. In the meantime, the lady behind had chipped in.
‘Yes, I’m sure I had one for about that price.’
‘One nineteen?’
‘Yes! They were never four ninety-nine!’
‘No.. and I’ve got two of them. That’s nearly ten pounds. My heart was going all a flutter.’
‘You don’t want to pay four ninety-nine for them, do ya?’
‘I don’t. They’re one nineteen.’
‘Yes… one nineteen. I’m sure.’
After another three or four minutes of this mutual parrot-fashion price-checking, the man returned with the bag.
‘It’s four ninety-nine!’ he said.
‘Noooo!’ the ladies said in unison. ‘Four ninety-nine?’
‘Four ninety-nine.’
‘Oh, I’ll leave them then. I’m not paying four ninety-nine for them.’
‘No, you don’t want to do that.’
I could still hear them as I walked out into the precinct.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Friday 11 September 2009

Pollard (n.) A noisy bird, common to the North of England, noted for its incessant raucous calls and gaudy plumage. It is reported by Northern twitchers to be on the decline as it has not been spotted as regularly in recent years.

I had to go back to hospital today for a CT scan. It wasn’t as scary as I thought, although I had to drink a litre of water beforehand and then get injected with iodine, which gave me an odd warm flush.
Later, I met up with the Ugly One and we hightailed it to the Vue at Shepherds Bush to see ‘District Nine’. I was very impressed with this film, which attempts to break the mould of the mainstream SF film. Stylistically it looks very different to other contemporary films, beginning as a collection of Tv media clips showing the arrival of a space-ship above Johannesburg which is housing a population of dispossessed aliens. In some senses very similar to Alien Nation, this movie goes further, demonstrating a xenophobic attitude from the outset where the aliens are settled in a segregated township, where their superior technology is milked by Nigerian gangs who pay them in catfood.
It is, pretty obviously, a thinly-veiled comment on racism and segregation, made all the more chilling by the complicit attitude of the media and the government.
It is not, surprisingly, a depressing film, and rattles along at a fair old pace, mixing action with comic moments, following the transformation, both physical and ideological, of the central figure, Wicus, a kind of South African Rob Brydon.
Refreshingly, the cast are all ‘unknown’ actors and without exception do a sterling job. No doubt, had Hollywood taken this on as a major project we’d have had it set in Nevada with Nicholas Cage as Wicus and William Hurt as his evil father-in-law. It would have been all the worse for it.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Diastrophism (n.) A mental affliction in which the sufferer demonstrates an inexplicable obsession with Welsh astronomers.

then secrets emerge
like invisible ink warmed
by curious flames.

The reports of the giant rat came from a new TV programme which is looking at the flora and fauna of Papua, New Guinea. Apart from the giant rat, there was also a giant stick insect, a pygmy parrot and a tiny bat.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Minatory (n.) A small Conservative

Also on my mp3 player at the moment is a motley selection of Latin-American music which ranges from the classical tango music of Astor Piazzolla to some Latin jazz, Mexican Rap (which is oddly addictive, given that I can’t understand a word of what tattooed rapper Jai-P is banging on about) and The Buena Vista Social Club.
It Salsas up my mornings.
Nigel Slater has a new series on TV. I can’t say I’m a fan. Yes, he’s very good at what he does and he’s in the pantheon of British Food Gods, but there’s something fundamentally irritating about him. He’s like some younger, less charming Alan Bennett, stripped of any personality or wit, trying to convince us all that eating a raw courgette within seconds of it being plucked from its mother plant, is the most orgasmic experience one could have, short of pushing Katie Price off the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The problem I always have is that although the food is filmed exquisitely, having Nigel munching away on his own and telling me that it tastes ‘really really good’ doesn’t really do it for me.
He should stick to the books.

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Indeterminate (v.) To wilfully slay or murder a grunge band.

I took the Ugly One to my optician to help me choose some new spectacle frames. I get thirty percent discount on designer frames but whether it is still better value than Specsavers remains to be seen. I eventually plumped for some Diesel frames, and, with the cost of a family size box of contact lens solution, there wasn’t much change out of four hundred pounds.
We made a small detour to Heals, but couldn’t afford anything. They have dog bowls for thirty-nine pounds. It’s an outrage.
I recently changed some of the music on my mp3 player, which, on an average day, has approximately seventeen hundred tracks which it works through at random. I was surprised by David Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ this morning, as I didn’t realise it was on there.
My friend Fil posted a note on Facebook last week, with a list of under-rated albums, which made me reassess some of the CDs either sitting on my shelf at home, or uploaded to my magic silver box of voices.
The first has to be The Electric Light Orchestra’s first album, with its seemingly unmanageable mix of classical, rock and medieval, although the finished result is a sublime testament to the gestalt genius of Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne.
Roy left after this album and went on to form Wizzard, leaving ELO to evolve into a mainstream pop combo. This album, however, remains their best, their most experimental, and possibly their most perfect.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Monday 7 September 2009

Indelible (adj.) Not of sufficient quality to be sold in a posh food shop.

After nearly three months, my friend from hospital, Amin, rang me to ask why I hadn’t rung him.
‘You didn’t give me your number!’ I said.
‘Didn’t I?’ he said.
It seems that since then he has been on holiday with his family and has only just got back to check his e-mail. I’m hoping to meet up with him for a drink soon.
And a new species of giant rat has been discovered in Papua, New Guinea, purportedly the size of a domestic cat.

Sunday 6 September 2009

I went out to Whitechapel this morning to take some photographs. On my way out of the house, I espied a giant moth sitting, minding his own business, on the ledge where we normally place the household post.
I whipped out my camera with its spanking new macro lens and got in close.
I have to say that I have now captured my first macro insect picture. The moth has come out with quite a lot of creepy hairy detail.
I have been asked to read my work aloud, in public, at the Arts Centre in Swindon. next stop, Carnegie Hall.

Saturday 5 September 2009

It transpires that the cretin-like operatic star of the Go Compare ads has a name; Gio Compario. Oh, what genius! Can you see what they’ve done, readers? They’ve taken the name of their company and turned it into a pseudo Italian name, the very sort of name that a cretin-like operatic singer may actually possess.
I sincerely hope that the originator of such peerless brilliance is recognised with some sort of award, one for originality and freshness. I can’t believe how funny this idea is. My pants are literally awash with chuckle-induced urine.
I may drown, seriously.

Friday 4 September 2009

As the Ugly One forgot to switch on the slo-cooker before he left for work, we could not have his promised Italian sausage and bean casserole, so I had to pick up some pasta instead.
Big Brother Ten finally finished with a surprise win by Sophie, the likeable but gormless blonde.
The BB psychologist was pulling no punches with her rapier-like insight.
‘As this year,’ she pronounced, ‘Big Brother had contestants who were more attractive and more intelligent than in previous years, David had to work hard to win his place in the final,’ because, presumably, he is so ugly and stupid.

Thursday 3 September 2009

I went to Holborn
to collect some scale rules
and my jumbled thoughts

I managed to escape from the secret government bunker for an hour or two in order to make a trip to Holborn to pick up some scale rules which are vital tools in the fight against international espionage and map-nobbling.
On the way back I popped into Blackwell’s bookshop to escape the rain, and was taken by their 3 for 2 classic book offer. I’d have liked to have bought ‘The Communist Party Manifesto’ and Freud’s ‘Interpretation of Dreams’ but I was torn on the third option, and didn’t have the time to stand around pondering and dithering. I am an inveterate ponderer and ditherer. I put it down to being Libran.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Wednesday 2 September 2009

In my quest for a diagnosis I was sent to the Dermatology clinic in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
Across the road an off-licence had a notice in the window which read ‘A recession is no excuse for drinking bad wine.’
A consultant, who looked oddly like a chubby bald Hugh Firmly-Wherewithall, whisked in like a whirlwind, followed by an attendant doctor with a clipboard, took one look at me and pronounced a diagnosis.
He then sent in a photographer to take copious pictures of me, and whisked out again.
The photographer got me to sign a form and I asked jokingly, if they were going to turn up on Facebook. He grinned nervously and backed away out of the room.
This hospital is a little odd, since it runs in number allocation fashion. I was sent for blood tests and had to take a ticket from a machine which I swear used to be on the old Safeways deli counter.
Waiting for my prescription they had an Argos style number screen and a voice-over in the manner of ‘Will patient 237 go to collection point C please?’
I was number 254 and had to wait another hour until my medication was dispensed so I had a walk around, and watched the fish in the fifteen foot long tank in the lobby.
I’ve had another acceptance of publication and my work will be appearing in the next issue of ‘The South’.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Lisa, the Brummy lesbian was evicted from the BB house, not to anyone’s real surprise.

Monday 31 August 2009

I did not leave the house today. I spent the time sorting out some of my writing and organising my old documents, after which I made a Thai curry which, although very nice, had far too much lime juice in it for my liking.
The Celebrity Omen portended by Right Said Fred was undoubtedly one of disaster.
Hallmark are having a disaster weekend and we watched a movie featuring Mr Bennett from ‘Heroes’ who had to save the world when a fragment of comet hit the US and (we’re not quite sure how) initiated a process of pole reversal. While the North and South poles were swapping places mini-poles were popping up all over the place and producing EMPs which (again, we’re not sure how) electrocuted people who had electrical equipment switched on.
As a mindless bit of drivel it passed the time and did exactly what it said on the tin, with the added bonus that we never have to watch it again. Unfortunately, this cannot be said of the new ‘Go Compare’ adverts which feature a comic operatic tenor in a coffee shop singing ‘Go Compare! Go Compare!’ to the tune of the wartime hit ‘Over There!’
The result is a disaster of Poseidon-esque proportions.
I can understand that Go Compare would be keen to find an advertising campaign to rival the popularity of ‘Compare The Meerkat’ but sadly, this is not it. I am baffled that a successful company, presumably in collaboration with an equally successful advertising company, could have come up with this, arguably the most annoying and irritating advert since… I can’t think of anything worse at present.
When we got to bed the Ugly One found a black ladybird on the wall above his bed and had put it out of the window before I had the thought of getting my macro camera and taking a picture.
Damn you, Right Said Fred singer, omen of disaster.

Sunday 30 August 2009

I went to the Celebrity sauna again today. I was hoping that no celebrities would be in evidence today, and for a while everything was quiet and uneventful. Most of the clientele looked like one of our shorter engineers, which gave the steam room the look of a cloudy bald hobbit convention.
However, some time later, who should walk in but the singer from ‘Right Said Fred’, who squatted in the TV lounge singing under his breath ‘I’m too sexy for this sauna… too sexy for this sauna… I’ll sit here in the…… corn---er!’
It all went downhill from there, so I got dressed and went to Waitrose.
This was, I imagine, a celebrity omen
The UO made us a nice pork and potato casserole, and we watched the new ‘Wuthering Heights’ with the sexy but scary Tom Hardy as Heathcliffe.

Saturday 29 August 2009

I spent a couple of hours at work catching up with some classified work, after which I went round the market with my camera, using my new lens.
The X-Factor, as usual, had to feature a true-life tragedy sob-story. Towards the end, a man came on stage with a tear in his eye, and Dermot O’Dreary began to narrate his tragic tale over a VT clip of lip-trembling relatives kneeling to pray in front of Simon Cowell’s trailer..
It would appear that contestant had developed an Afro so huge that it had begun to affect his spine. Nothing, it seems, could save him apart from a public audition and a decent haircut.
There was a man whose brother had died as well, but his tragedy wasn’t half so interesting.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Friday 28 August 2009

My day at work was fraught! Fraught, I say!
Actually it wasn’t too bad, apart from the random referrals from the Call Centre. You’d think that secret government departments wouldn’t have Call Centres, but we do, just like everyone else.
I’m still coming to terms with my macro lens.
It is somewhat ironic that, having been plagued with moths since at least March, now that I need some to photograph there’s not a one to be found.
Marcus, the wolverine-lite Big Brother contestant was evicted from the House this evening.
Siavash, the Iranian Jesus, seems to have adopted a Messianic quest strategy and is trying to persuade everyone else to donate the prize money to charity.
Last week, Big Brother announced that the prize fund had been reduced to zero, but that housemates would have the chance to restore the balance. The original announcement was greeted with nervous smiles and laughter by most of the housemates, apart from Camp David, who looked horrified at the prospect of having no capital to start his Yorkshire Pudding factory.
Siavash has won back ten thousand pounds, but wants it to go to charity. The other housemates are hesitant to enter into a debate about it, presumably seeing themselves as either committing to giving the money to charity or else appearing greedy.
Nice move, Siavash.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Thursday 27 August 2009

I was on Jessops doorstep at 9am, and dealt with this time by a nice young man with floppy Jesus hair.
He handed me my lens and sorted me out with an additional UV filter. I resisted the urge to bring up the 9.45am issue again and left.
Heading for the tube, I suddenly realised that the day before I had walked straight past New Scotland Yard, with its big whirling silver triangle of Law. How could I have missed that?
I am very pleased with the new lens. It does exactly what it says on the tin. I can now take close-up photographs of moths as well as normal photographs of more or less everything else. Fab!

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Last night I ordered a new macro lens for my camera to be picked up from a branch of Jessops. Apparently, it would be ready after 9.45 if I collected it from Jessops in Victoria. They promised to send me a text when the lens was there.
It seemed a bit odd to that they should give a time and then send a text.
However, I needed to pick up a new cash card from the Abbey anyway, so I arranged to go into work late, and set off to the Bush of Shepherds.
For arcane reasons known only to the Gnomes of Santander, Abbey National do not open till 10.00 am on Wednesdays. I sighed and sang the weary sigh of the consumer, whilst nursing a cappuccino in the Bush of Shepherds Coffee and Muffin emporium.
Having queued, identified myself and collected my card I set off for Victoria. By the time I arrived it was 11.05 and no text message.
Jessops in Victoria is located in Strutton Ground, an odd Diagon Alley type place just off Victoria Street, which has market stalls, cafes, bookshops and a fish and chip shop called The Laughing Halibut.
The nice Jessops lady had not received my lens.
‘I’d ring back about 1pm,’ she said, and looked blankly at me when I pointed out the 9.45 am timeslot on the e-mail I had been sent.
I decided to set off for work, manfully resisting the sirens of Greggs, who were waving Cornish pasties at me in a tempty fashion.
The text came through about 2.30, but by then I couldn’t be arsed.

Monday 24 August 2009

The UO made fish & chips for dinner and we watched ‘Dynasty’. Alexis Carrington went to a very dramatic fortune teller who started shouting like a madwoman.
More or less a perfect evening.

Sunday 23 August 2009

One of my colleagues gave me the gift of a jazz woodbine last week, which I had been saving, so I took it with me this afternoon and hoied me to the sauna.
There was at least one famous artist there, whose name shall remain unblogged, as well as an apparently well-known TV actor, although quite honestly I saw no faces which were instantly recognisable as ‘that man from Holby City’ or ‘him from the Bill’.
Later, I cooked a Northern Thai ginger chicken curry with some Kua paste that I painstakingly created the day before. It was luvverly.
We then watched Midsomer Murders which featured a scene of old East Germany. Old East Germany looked remarkably like Brompton Cemetery.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Saturday 22 August 2009

It is my habit of a Saturday morning to catch up with ‘Days of Our Lives’. Philip ‘Wet-Lettuce’ Kiriakis has returned unannounced from his marine training, and has grown a completely new handsome head. Gone are the sharpened cheekbones and the wimpy body. The new Philip is a much chunkier monkey.
‘You look so different!’ said Belle Black, a little obviously.
This was clearly an omen of some sort, since later, I wandered down Shepherds Bush Market with my camera and found an elderly Indian Michael Jackson, complete with white glove, red trousers, gold jacket, sunglasses and headphones, dancing around the market stalls singing ‘Billie Jean.’
Could Michael possibly have faked his own death in order to fulfill a lifelong dream of singing his way between Uxbridge Road and Goldhawk Road?
I took some pictures of him, and the attentive audience he somehow gathered, and also one of the nice man who sells the suitcases.
Later, we had Canelloni, while we watched the new revamped X-Factor. No one likes the new format in which an audience sits in on the auditions. Four hundred thousand viewers were lost apparently, which should tell Mr Cowell something.
Later, we watched one of my favourite films, ‘The Blood Beast Terror’, but as this was an American DVD it appeared on the film under its US title ‘The Vampire Beast Craves Blood’.
I’d forgotten that it appears to be full of Carry-On style innuendo.
When Peter Cushing arrives at a lecture of a famous moth expert, he is informed that the lecture has already started.
‘Ohhh, I’m sure he won’t mind if I slip in at the back!’ purrs Cushing, in a suitably Kenneth Williams-ish fashion.
The film is probably the first to feature evil moth people, in this case, Wanda Ventham, whose transformation to a big flappy man-eating moth is so good it incorporates a large Victorian frock.
Marvellous stuff!

Friday 21 August 2009

There was a serious bout of road rage outside our secret government bunker today for reasons which are not clear. Horn-beeping and shouting gave way to fisticuffs, in which several people were involved, with at least one man running around waving a screwdriver. Subsequently, when the police arrived, people fled the scene and left a car, with doors akimbo, abandoned in the middle of the street.
Our secret personnel were so agitated by this incident that they were incapable of any secret work for the rest of the day, so I left early.
The Ugly One cooked us a superlative Chicken in Black Bean Sauce and we settled down to watch Bonkers Bea being evicted from the Big Brother House.
I felt slightly sorry for her after her interview. She clearly is a little deranged.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Thursday 20 August 2009

I took some photographs on the way into work of some people in Brixton market. Being a little paranoid and fearful of bad lads accusing me of photographing them illegally, and subsequently punching me to a bloody pulp, I used a wide angle lens and let the camera hang from its strap at belly level, and pretended to talk into my mobile phone. This allows me to creep close to my prey and (the wonders of autofocus) take quite interesting pictures of unsuspecting people in the wild.
The Ugly One, having cooked a very acceptable Texan Mince, went off for an evening of Gay Bingo, leaving me to my own devices, which was nice. I did have the option of going along (since we had both been invited by our friend Robert, who wanted to introduce us to Henry, his new dog) but for one thing I wasn’t feeling too well, having been struck with a strange fever at about 1pm, and for another I have an aversion to Bingo, gay or otherwise. I once went out with a bingo caller from Clacton, whose name I cannot recall. I met him in the Black Cap in Camden and only remember that he had a bleached blonde mop and an eccentric line in drainpipe trousers.
I spent a quiet evening with Photoshop, with which I am slowly falling in love, editing my pictures.
I have been avoiding the cricket, which is a constant source of bewilderment to me. For me, it’s just Quidditch on the ground, searching for the golden snitch for three days.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Our boss took us out for a burger at The Burger Gourmet Kitchen in Clapham High Street. That’s fine as it goes. They do, however, have a rather eccentric method of ordering and paying for food, in that a waitress comes rounds to take one’s drinks order, and duly delivers the drinks, following which we have to visit the counter individually to order and pay for food.
I don’t see this as a satisfactorily efficient way of running a restaurant.
On the Victoria Line on the way home, my boss was stuck next to a very smelly man who, nevertheless, stared at me meaningfully, as if he held a long felt want.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

The Ugly One cooked us Kung Pao chicken with spinach noodles. I bought the spinach noodles myself from the Chinese Supermarket.
The Ugly One, bless his little cotton socks, has booked us on a holiday to Scotland, so very soon we will be off to the land of the porridge gobblers, to see such sights as Loch Ness and the Forth of Fifth.
And there will be haggis! Hoorah!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Monday 17 August 2009

Sometimes – from the fastness of the secret government bunker within which I work – are issued questionnaires, designed to plumb the very core of the minds of residents of our fair city. They are ostensibly composed of deceptively simple questions, in this case about disabled bays, but are cunningly constructed to bring forth deep psychological responses.
Today we received one back, anonymous, with a neatly typed rectangle of paper pritt-sticked to it.
‘Disabled people are a waste of space,’ it read. ‘They blather on about being equal to everyone else, and yet they have to have their own bays. What they need is euthanasia, and they can then serve the community by becoming lampshades, soap and fertiliser.’
I’m not usually one who is easily shocked, but I must confess to being a little alarmed by this.
There are people out there who have thought long enough about this issue to have come up with the idea of turning people into lampshades.
Later, I was wandering around Marks & Spencer, as you do, crumbling the crusts on the crusty rolls, just for the hell of it. I had my headphones on, listening to (although this is hardly relevant) The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, when an odd-looking old lady began tapping at my arm. I removed one headphone, guardedly, as women in Marks & Spencer have been proven to be – in a nationwide study – far more predisposed to violence than female shoppers in other stores.
‘Are you a musical person?’ she asked.
‘I’m sorry?’ I responded, for the moment a little confused by the question.
‘Musical. Are you musical, luv?’
‘I imagine so,’ I replied. It is of course a historic euphemism for men like myself, who exist in the twilight lavender world of Dynasty fans.
‘I thought so. Good for you, son!’ she said, and gave me a hearty slap on the back before tottering off to tut at the state of the crusty rolls.
Back in the lavender world of Twilight, I cooked scampi and chips for the Ugly One and we caught up with some more Dynasty.
Alexis is putting it about that Fallon’s father is not Blake but Jeff’s oily uncle Cecil (pronounced Sea-sill). I can’t see that at all. He looks more musical than Liberace. Meanwhile, a new Italian Doctor is on the scene, Doctor Angus Canelloni, or some such name. He is up to no good, and is prone to making mysterious calls to an unknown recipient.
Before I went to bed I checked my e-mail and discovered that the editor of the marvellous magazine Monkey Kettle wishes to publish more of my work. Hoorah!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Sunday 16 August 2009

I had my first foray with the tagine today and made a chicken and preserved lemon tagine, which turned out very well.
Still no sign of God.

Saturday 15 August 2009

I went on a pilgrimage to Westbourne Grove on a hunt for Kaffir limes. I’ve been searching for them for some time, and have been unsuccessful, but a colleague recommended a Thai supermarket here. They did indeed have Kaffir limes, which I bought, along with some coriander and dried shrimps. I passed on the instant jellyfish (to which one just adds water to reconstitute what I am sure is a delightful repast). I also saw a bottle of ‘SQUID’ (in very large letters) Fish Sauce, along with a big picture of a happy squid on the label.
‘Oooh!’ I thought, ‘Squid fish sauce!’ and picked up the bottle, only to discover the ingredients to be anchovies and a smattering of additional spices and preservatives.
The Ugly One made a consummate curry and we settle down to watch Dynasty in which Joan Collins returned as the wonderful Alexis in a hat large enough to have carried the rest of her wardrobe back from Madagascar, or wherever she has been staying.
She arrived just in time to testify against Blake and confirm his violent urges, as when he attacked Alexis’ lover when he caught them in bed together.
Alexis claims she is an artist. She brought Stephen a portrait of himself when he was seven; a ghastly multi-coloured thing which lacks only a tear rolling down the boy’s cheek. Stephen gazed at it in horror, desperately trying to hide his shock. Being a gay man he knows what is good art and what isn’t.

Friday 14 August 2009

Photography has become my passion of late, particularly in tandem with Photoshop, which allows me to manipulate my images to a frightening and somewhat deceitful degree.
My favourite subjects are either random people in the great outdoors, or still life. I’ve begun photographing the contents of my coffee table a little obsessively, but this, in its own way is a form of diary since it sets a context. The original photographs showed packets of menthol cigarettes and an overflowing ashtray, while in the more recent ones, although my Gorilla Kingdom coffee mug is ubiquitous, the smoking paraphernalia is conspicuous by its absence.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Thursday 13 August 2009

I have been given a new appointment by the hospital for them to examine me further. I have been referred to a dermatological specialist in the Chelsea and Westminster hospital who will no doubt ask me all the same questions and demand a tribute of blood and urine.
On a lighter note, the next season of ‘Dynasty’ has arrived and I am glad to say that Joan Collins has at long last appeared as Blake Carrington’s scheming ex-wife Alexis. Hoorah!

Friday 7 August 2009

Tonight we had Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Salad in honour of Benson, the great Carp, who died, allegedly of nut poisoning.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Thursday 6 August

I found this scan of a hand-painted photograph I did some years ago. As far as I recall I was commissioned to do three of them, one for each twin and one for the mother, and they were all different.
I wish I could find the photos of the other two. Maybe someone will recognise them and let me know where they are now.
On my way home on the Tube the other evening, I noticed that someone had stuck a large poster over the sign that reads ‘This is a priority seat for old persons and gay atheists’ replacing it with, in very large letters ‘Remember Jesus!’. Someone, however, and not me on this occasion, had subsequently added the words ‘To F**k’ between ‘Remember’ and ‘Jesus’.
To add to the surreal nature of the week, people, from wildly different parts of the world, have found my blog by typing in ‘Simon Callow uncircumcised’ and ‘Peter Andre uncircumcised’
and ‘Everybody took a turn to suck it through the spout’.
I have to stress that these three phrases are completely unrelated as far as I am aware.
I wish Peter Andre would get his over moisturised mug off my TV screen, though. I was hoping that the separation would shut them up, but no such luck.
‘Read about my tragic tale, only in The News of The World, Heat, OK, Hello and Bunty.’
Actually, Peter. I don’t care. I’m frantically searching my pockets for that rat’s arse I’d like to give, but I can’t find it. It’s not there.
The cynical part of me, (which is about 87%) is half convinced that they haven’t split up at all, since they’ve been in the press more now than they were when they were together, and after all, their profession is…. being in the press, so why is anyone surprised?
Give it a year and there will be a tearful reunion with Katie, young Creosote and Princess Tiramisu in an exclusive Hello event, and a new TV series.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Wednesday 5 August 2009

As an anniversary gift, it being twenty years since the Ugly One and I first made the beast with two backs, I bought a le Creuset Tagine. To be honest, I think they had mispriced it in the shop as the large one was thirty pounds cheaper than the smaller one so I hoiked it out of there faster than a Jackson going to a will reading.
This evening we foregathered at Indian Zing, one of Hammersmith’s best kept secrets. It’s a high class Indian Restaurant huddled away down the end of King Street, opposite a sinister looking Methodist Church. They were having a biryani festival and they have Kama Sutra illustrations in the toilets. (That is Indian Zing, not the sinister looking Methodist Church) Hoorah! , so I went for a fish one, and the UO had the liver and kidney. I’ve not come across liver and kidneys in Indian restaurants before. I didn’t really want to on this occasion, but the UO was keen, and was, from the rate he guzzled it down, very impressed with the outcome.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Being the sort of person who is fairly lax about appointments, I hadn’t been to the optician or the dentist for quite some time. The downside of this is that something was bound to go amiss, although I did not expect two things to go amiss simultaneously in that serious toothache appeared last week at the same time that my glasses fell apart. Today, I had to go in and have an eye-test and later, have a tooth removed.
I could not speak this evening, but nevertheless Mr Soprano rang me from America to ask what sort of bacon we eat.
Yes. That’s what I thought.

Monday 3 August 2009

This morning I photographed the Polish decorators in their underpants as they changed into their overalls. I imagine that technically this may be an invasion of privacy, but I would argue that people who want privacy shouldn’t take their pants off in the middle of the street.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Sunday 2 August 2009

Today I intended going out but in a crazy act of spontaneity, stayed in instead.
I cooked one of my signature dishes, Willow Chicken in Black Bean Sauce, while the Ugly One set up a new toy; a combo turntable and tape-deck that plugs into the computer and can therefore convert vinyl and cassette sound to mp3.
Science is marvellous.
Later we watched ‘Dead Silence’ which is one of those films about ventriloquist’s dolls that should really form a subgenre of their own. All in all it wasn’t too bad, and the dummy(s) were suitably well-made and creepy.
I’m also still enjoying ‘The Wire’ very much.
Radio Four irritated me somewhat as there is a move within the station to allow atheists and Humanists to have a voice on ‘Thought For The Day’. The religious broadcasters are against the idea, as they feel that having people broadcasting common sense and logic to ordinary people would no doubt bring down the government and destroy the very fabric of society, not to mention the binding agents that hold the universe together and underpin the very building blocks of reality.
‘We can’t have that sort of thing going on,’ said a Born Again Christian lady. ‘Who knows where it would all lead?’ For one thing, I suspect, Christians might only be born once, and that would cause chaos for just about everyone.

Saturday 1 August 2009

I got up early and took some pictures of the Polish decorators across the road, having their morning coffee.
My tooth was aching still, but despite this I ventured out to work for a couple of hours. As regular readers will know, I work in a secret government bunker in Brixton, so secret that it’s not even in Brixton. We just tell people this to put them off the scent. This does have the benefit to the people of Brixton of visitors arriving to find the secret government bunker and therefore providing revenue to local shops and businesses as they wander about trying to locate me.
This evening we saw ‘A Mighty Wind’, a film made by the wonderful Christopher Guest (whose most famous work has to be ‘This is Spinal Tap’) in which he reunites the Spinal Tap members as ‘The Folksmen’, a folk group of the Sixties who are invited, along with some other folk bands of the time, to attend a reunion concert in tribute to the recently deceased man who made their careers.
As always, the end result is oddly brilliant, particularly as the music is so apt, so subtly funny and so well done that it could fit unnoticed into compilation records of the era.
The comedy is more gentle than that of ‘This is Spinal Tap’ but the film is no less funny. Highly recommended.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Friday 31 July 2009

We seem to have bred a new race of professional reality show stars. Noirin, who was – at least until this week - unaccountably popular in Big Brother this year, and seems to have broken the hearts of several men and a Russian woman, was originally in another reality series in the US where she met Isaac. Isaac, no doubt to cause mischief and mayhem, was put into the BB house last night, or maybe the night before and has been hiding in the shrubbery, feeding on squirrels. He looks like he could eat squirrels alive. Isaac kept reminding me of someone in that annoying way that people do and I have just realised that it is the talking zombie from ‘Dawn of The Dead’. He has an overflattened skull that makes me worry where to slot him in one of those ‘Ascent of Man’ illustrations which shows the progression from ape to Homo Sapiens.
Anyway, Homo Isaactus entered the house and immediately took possession of Noirin (isn’t that the name of a brand of lard?), much to the dismay of Siavash, (aka ‘the Persian Jesus’, or ‘Said from Lost’). I’m not sure how people can simply migrate from one reality show to another. Surely, logic would dictate that once you’ve appeared on one reality show, you are no longer ‘real’ in the sense that I would understand it. ‘Real’ people are people who haven’t appeared on TV; televisual virgins who work as viewing interest because of the very fact that they are not professional or experienced tv performers. Once one has become accustomed to making an arse of yourself in front of millions of people, doesn’t that qualify one to be raised to the level of public nuisance, like Jordan and Peter Andre? There really should be some sort of law preventing the continuance of such abominations.

Thursday 30 July 2009

My favourite purchase over the last year (if one can have such a thing as a favourite purchase) was my Olympus E420 Digital SLR camera. Recently, I have been out and about quite a lot, trying to look like a proper paparazzi. Back in the day I used an Olympus OM2 with proper film, which was marvellous, but hampered by the fact that one had to either have one’s own darkroom, or wait a statutory two weeks for the chemist to have them developed.
These days, digital technology having moved on, I can put all my new photos straight into Photoshop and create instant blackmail pictures, or seamlessly weld my head onto Vin Diesel’s body.
I haven’t done either as yet, as my Photoshop skills are still maturing, but the time will come.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Wednesday 29 July 2009

Raging toothache drove me to the dentist today where he confirmed that I have a hole in my wisdom tooth and an infection. He gave me more antibiotics.
On the way home I was on the platform of Hammersmith tube station when my spectacles fell to pieces for no reason I could see.
I had to stumble home blind where I could not find my spare glasses and have had to make do with my Roy Orbison prescription sunglasses.
I look like a battered husband.
Meanwhile, on ‘Dynasty’, Blake, having previously got drunk and raped Kristal (I’m not sure how she could have allowed it. He was a drunken pensioner. She could have broken his brittle leg bones with a swish of her lacquered locks.) now returns home to discover that Ted has returned to Denver with his curious New York ways, and is upstairs in The Carrington mansion being curious with his son.
Blake rampages upstairs and finds the two in an embrace. ‘Get your curious hands off my curious son!’ he shouts, and a tussle ensues, following which Ted flies backwards and hits his head on the fire fender, which kills him instantly.
The moral of this story of course, is that women and gay men are no match for a feisty senior citizen.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

After many years we are watching ‘Dynasty’ again. It looks so dated now, and Blake Carrington’s butler, Joseph (whom I always assumed to be a butler, but is in fact a Major Domo) has odd luminous blue hair at the sides of his head.
Back in the day, Dynasty was a racy show, featuring a gay character (Steven Carrington). Steven’s father, Blake. isn’t at all happy about this ‘gay’ business, and can only describe as it as Steven’s ‘curious New York ways’ which have no place in Denver, Colorado.
As it happened, Steven could only last four episodes before his heterosexuality broke through and he launched into an affair with his boss’s wife, Claudia. Claudia’s husband, Matthew, had previously had an affair with Blake’s wife Kristal, while Claudia was locked up in a nuthouse mainly, I suspect, because her twenty-seven year old daughter is at school believing she is fourteen while at the same time dressing like a colourblind grandmother.

Monday 27 July 2009

Hoorah! My new Lacie rugged external hard disk drive has arrived. Now I can carry the entire contents of my PC from place to place, for no reason whatsoever.

Sunday 26 July 2009

I took my camera out today and spent a happy couple of hours photographing the natives of Shepherds Bush. Actually, I suspect that most of them were pilgrims to Westfield, since these days one spots a preponderance of stylish bags in and around Shepherds Bush station.
It’s very like photographing wildlife. I’ve found that if I stand inside one of the stations (tube or rail) like Bill Oddie in a BBC hide, I can photograph people through the windows without them threatening to break my legs and throw my twitching body onto the A40.

Saturday 25 July 2009

I’m on sale in Borders bookshop, in a magazine called Magma. I’ve had quite a bit published this year, but I was quite surprised to find any of it actually on sale in a shop. I imagine this officially qualifies me as a published writer.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Friday 24 July 2009

I had to go back to hospital for an update on my unidentified condition. I was referred to the Urology waiting room which was a dark fresh hell, peopled with mad folk. A nurse very promptly took me into a consultation room and began to measure the circumference of my stomach at a somewhat arbitrary point between my nipples and my belly button.
‘Why are you doing this?’ I asked, since it’s never been a requirement in my previous examinations.
‘I have been asked to!’ she replied somewhat brusquely, repeatedly asking me if I had properly relaxed my stomach before she notated her findings.
I was then given a sample jar and sent off to a private cubicle to provide my urine. Then I returned to Dante’s comfy chair area and was greeted by a tannoy which informed me that all doctor’s appointments were running one hour late.
I watched the fish in a disconcertingly grimy tank swimming back and forth, and took out my book figuring that I could get maybe three chapters in before I was called. However, my name came up almost immediately. They never get it right, but it’s near enough that I can recognise myself.
The consultant was a very cute Indian man who went through my notes and quite cheered me up initially by telling me that there was nothing wrong with my blood, blood pressure, liver, lungs, kidneys and white blood cell count. Microbiology had been through my fluids with a micro-tooth comb of the finest degree and could find nothing.
I have therefore been diagnosed as having an Idiopathic something-or-other. ‘Idiopathic,’ he said, with a wide smile, ‘means we don’t know what it is.’
So… He was toying with the idea of putting me on steroids, just for a laugh I suspect, but plumped, after a word with yet another consultant in the next room, for referring me to a specialist in Things-They-Know-Nothing-About, which I imagine is a Professor of Idiopathology.
From there I escaped into Praed Street and headed for a café. I had a cappuccino, which I strongly suspect was instant coffee with some frothed milk and chocolate stuck on top like a posh wig on Britney.
Later, the Ugly One and I met up in Wetherspoons in Shepherds Bush from whence we went to see ‘Harry Potter and the Arse of the Bandersnipe’ or ‘ Harry Potter and the Half-Tone Prints’ or… anyway, it was OK. Long, but OK.
Dumbledore is gay, as JK Rowling confirmed some time ago. That’s hardly news. A quick look round his study would leave no one in doubt. And as for Professor Snape…. There’s no wife and two wizardlings waiting at home there. Mark my words!
At home, in bed, my thoughts turned, not to the aesthetics of wizardish cinema, or the social implications of being the gay headmaster of a school of magic, but to the fact that I had not asked the consultant why the nurse was measuring my stomach in such an eccentric manner.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Thursday 23 July 2009

I’ve not had a chance to comment on this year’s Big Brother, which has been interesting and not, until this week, populated by anyone obnoxious enough to make me pick up the phone and vote. There’s always one though, eventually. This year it is Kenneth, a ‘self-employed international playboy’ he is the boyfriend of the unintelligible Karly who left last week.
‘I could have any woman in the world,’ Kenneth blubbed last night in the Diary Room, ‘but there’s only one that’s got to me.’
Let’s be frank. Kenneth is a multi-millionaire, and not the most attractive man in the cosmos. He patently could not have any woman in the world, unless they were willing to prostitute themselves for a couple of dinners and a dress (as Kenneth so tactfully spelled it out to his new friends the other night).
I’m reminded of a line Mrs Merton used on her TV show when interviewing Debbie McGee, the wife of gnome-like magician Paul Daniels, and it’s a question I would dearly have loved Davina to have asked Karly when she came out of the BB house:-
‘So, Karly, what first attracted you to the obnoxious, sexist, multi-millionaire, Kenneth?’
However, it seems I will be denied the pleasure of seeing the little toad evicted as last night he climbed over the wall and buggered off to the oblivion he deserves.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Wednesday 22 July 2009

It is precisely two months since I updated anyone on my existence. To be honest, I’ve been a bit poorly sick and even had to go into hospital for a few days. Typically of me, I have some odd (but thankfully not life-threatening) condition which no one seems to be able to diagnose.
So, after the initial visit to my GP, a hospital consultation and a couple of weeks of antibiotics, I was sent back to the hospital where they decided to keep me in.
Being full of so many drugs I then decided that now might be a good time to give up smoking. So, I gave all my cigarettes to a nice Indian man in the next ward whom I had been keeping company while he sneaked out to the roof garden for a crafty fag.
Consequently, the hospital signed me off work for another two weeks which, in other circumstances, would have been bliss but this time was not very enjoyable as I have been doped up the eyes on yet another course of antibiotics, and have spent my time reading and watching the Polish builders across the street strip down to their underpants every afternoon on the public highway to get changed to go home. This has, I must admit, aided my recuperation greatly.
I also managed to get some painting done, and got oddly addicted to ‘In The Night Garden’, a BBC children’s programme set in a surreal garden world where the relative sizes of characters and objects changes arbitrarily, and which is narrated by the wonderful Derek Jacobi. Towards the end of every episode he says ‘Isn’t that a pip!’ with some thespian relish. Now and again the characters will go off to have a ride on the Ninky Nonk, which is some kind of a giant teapot pulling a Tardis behind it. The best way to watch it, I suspect, is to take some drugs, turn the sound down and put some Pink Floyd on.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Wednesday 20 May 2009

I am being tricked by looky-likeys. I could have sworn I saw Avon Barksdale from ‘The Wire’ waiting for a bus outside the Brixton Academy today.
I have not had much time this week to work on my epic painting ‘Brad Pitt Helped Jail My Evil Dad’, but no doubt I will get the chance at the weekend, what with it being a Bank Holiday. I was hoping to get something done last night, but I arrived home in a bad mood, having caught my bag in the tube doors on the Northern Line and having to be subsequently rescued by a nice young man with an i-pod.
Instead I made myself a sandwich and the Ugly One and I watched ‘Coronation Street’ again. I should feel more disgusted/enraged/deeply saddened at Eileen’s dad, Colin, who has been found to have had an affair with Eileen’s schoolfriend when she was fourteen, and in the process fathering Fitz’s ex-girlfriend – whose name escapes me. I would normally at this point look it up, but to be honest, I’m finding it hard to care.
I’m more fascinated by Amy Barlow’s creepy monobrow, which is the sort of thing you’d expect to find on a fifty year old Turkish kebab-carver, but not on a six year old girl. In our house, we sit in the dark, hold hands and chant ‘Amy Barlow, Frida Kahlo, Amy Barlow, Frida Kahlo’ over and over again, just to keep the evil away.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Tuesday 19 May 2009

In a retrospective mood, I was leafing through some old writing and came across some drabbles, a drabble being a short story of fifty words or less. I was rather impressed by the following:-


It's not on; that Doctor finally defeating the Daleks and sending them all back through time to do Community Service.
There's two moved in on our landing. 'Just you watch!' I said to Sheila, my everloving. 'They'll be coming in all hours, reeking of Duckhams, forever sliding down the stairs, scraping the paint with their nodules.'
I was right.
Sheila won't go out these days. The council offered to send one in as a home help; get her over her phobia. But we won't have it.
Not that we're racist or anything... but... well... you know.. They're different, aren't they?

I used to write a lot about Coronation Street, but I confess to having gone off it of late. It’s become something of a self-parody these days, as if it’s a soap that has become self-aware, and is making ironic jokes about itself.
I’m still compelled to watch Ken and Diedre though, who are acting out some endless Samuel Beckett piece about the imprisoning power of ennui.
Lately Ken has attempted to escape into the arms of Stephanie Beacham, a kind of ageing siren, luring Ken onto her barge with coffee, poached egg on toast and shelves full of Carol Ann Duffy collections.
Ken represents the frustrated intellectual, forever staring into space whilst banging the earpiece of his spectacles on his teeth. He hesitantly suggests to Diedre that they watch a documentary about the heretical Cathars of medieval France, but Diedre would rather watch ‘Celebrity Barmcake Wrestling’ or ‘Manchester’s Stupidest Criminals’.
Ken was recently given the option to sail off with Steph in ‘Utopia’ (yes, that’s what her narrowboat was called) and was all set to go, having packed his worldly goods in a case and left a note for Diedre, but, the pull of Beckett-esque ennui was too strong and he stood on the bridge, holding his case, as Steph sailed off to Harrogate, or whatever passes for Valhallah in the Corrie world. (In Eastenders it’s Leicester).
There is still no sign of God. One would be tempted to think he didn’t exist at all.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Monday 18 May 2009

We had The Wise Woman of Wigan, the Ugly One’s cousin Carol and a midwife-cum-karate-expert called Lisa round for our Eurovision dinner. As it was Moscow’s turn to host the annual madness we had Beef Stroganoff with Russian Potato Bread, followed by Russian Chocolate Cheesecake.
There were no mad acts this year, although Germany had a stab at it, with a band fronted by an advert for bad plastic surgery. The poor man, squeezed into silver spandex pants with a face only a german mother could love, which is saying something.
Unaccountably, Norway won. Sung by Woody from Toy Story, the song was a Gilbert O’Sullivan-esque bucket of sentimental reindeer-poo.
I pulled The UK in the sweepstake. Despite the godlike presence of Andrew Lord-Webber, banging his fat fingers on the Russian ivories, we only came fifth, but then, that’s a damn sight better than we’ve done since the end of the last war, or it seems like it anyway.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Friday 15 May 2009

A month has passed by as quick and unnoticed as a Peter Andre single release.
I have been busy not only working in the secret government bunker where I have been unaccountably promoted to a position where I now have the power to threaten individual teams with withdrawal of stationery privileges, but also on my epic painting ‘Brad Pitt Helped Jail My Evil Dad’ which is destined to become the 21st Century’s ‘Guernica’.
For those of you unaware of what Guernica may be, it is the facial disease from which Victoria Beckham suffered for many years, and the name of the tribute quilt which Tracy Emin stitched together from sections of anoraks stolen from tramps, and is thought by many to be the single most significant piece of artwork of the Twentieth Century.
The Ugly One and I have also spent an inordinate amount of time watching ‘The Wire’, the shamefully underrated series from the States.
Also... The Apprentice is back. Hoorah! Sir Sid James has fired half of the eejits already, so there’s not a lot I can say about them. This week the teams had to re-brand Margate (rather than re-branding Margaret, one of Sir Sid’s fearsome assistants, which would have been a challenge too far, I suspect) and one team decided to target the Gay market.
Their research seemed to consist of interviewing one pre-op transsexual that Mona found in a bar. ‘I did work on this project,’ she bleated later in the boardroom. ‘I even went out and spoke to a gay person!’ as if this was some kind of personal milestone, despite the fact that she has been living in a house with Howard for the last six weeks.
Sir Sid pointed his fat scary finger and Mona was fired, mainly because she didn’t think there were any gay people in Kent, let alone the house she was living in. She has now moved to Brighton so that she’ll never have to face gay people again.

Friday 17 April 2009

Lately I spent some time in Wales, at first in my mother’s back bedroom, sharing the space with a collection of porcelain dolls. They have very judgmental faces, and I suspect they were gazing at me with an accusatory tone during the night.
My brother turned up and ranted in a rather too right-wing way for my liking. I tend to tune out of these family lectures. There was something about sending Polish people back, shooting cats and ‘locking ‘em all up’ but after a while it all kind of blends into one long blah blah blah.
Later in the week I went to stay with my friend Val, her new boyfriend Geraint (who, innocent of my phobia of all things sporty, thought I might enjoy an afternoon watching the football.) and her daughter Holly.
Holly was making a Tudor House, so I volunteered to help. I cut the fronts of two wine boxes, we stuck one on top of the other to make a kind of open-plan two storey building, and I converted one of the cut out handholds in the end of the box into a nice tudor window with sellotape glass.
Then I made Holly design some Tudor wallpaper to decorate the upper floor.
At some point My Little Pony got involved, so she had to build a Tudor stable extension at the side of the house.
It was a very pleasant weekend. We went out for a Chinese meal in a very nice restaurant which I seem to remember being a chip shop back in the day where one could get chips with curry sauce.
We were reminded that we were in Wrexham by a very loud man on his mobile who shouted ‘Aye mate. I’ll see you later. I’m in the Chinky at the moment.’

Monday, 16 March 2009

Sunday 15 March 2009

The sun is returning. I went out to the Green and Stone’s in the Kings Road, which is by far my favourite Art Shop. I could happily spend all day in there, but would no doubt eventually be asked to leave. I bought some posh brushes and a selection of oil paints to buy myself some more time to wander around.
At the back of the shop is a ‘craft’ area where they sell things like quills, inks, parchment and antique chess sets.
And this evening I cooked a superlative Salmon Lasagne, not as superlative as my Chicken in Black Bean Sauce, but as lasagnes go, it was truly awesome.
‘The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency’ is back on TV. Hoorah!

Saturday 14 March 2009

I am still basking in glow of satisfaction from having seen Lord Mandelson drenched with a cup of green custard by an environmental protester. Hoorah! Give that woman a medal.

Friday 13 March 2009

I had a blessed day off from work today, working on my latest painting, which is entitled ‘Brad Pitt Helped Jail My Evil Dad’. It is a surrealist work featuring the Fish of Deception, and executed in oils on a large square canvas.
Last week I went out and bought a new webcam, since anybody who is anybody with a web presence needs to be seen to be real. Since then I have been besieged by people asking if they can view my cam. I am not sure what they expect to see, although in many cases it would seem to be my naked body. I usually decline such requests and disappoint people, since they will be inevitably disappointed anyway.
This evening I cooked a superlative Chicken in Black Bean sauce, a dish which was so good I would have had sex with myself in the hope of another bowlful.

Thursday 12 March 2009

The Ugly One and I went to see ‘Watchmen’ this evening, which wasn’t at all what I was expecting. At three hours, it’s a bit of a lengthy experience, and a decent enough movie although I have to confess I fell asleep half way through and missed about ten minutes of the narrative.
I can’t say it was a successful production. The camerawork was excellent, as was the use of music. The director chose to use popular music tracks slotted in throughout the movie, and I was a bit surprised to realise that I have all the albums from which the tracks were taken (with the exception of ‘Unforgettable’, which was used to great effect juxtaposed against a scene of excessive violence at the outset).
What it lacked was coherence in the internal logic of the film. I have not read the graphic novel on which this was based, but can see it working in that format. Transferred to reality, the viewer begins to wonder at the mixture of ordinary humans dressed as superheroes, and those who do have extra-human qualities. What, for instance, is the nature of Rorschach’s mask? Wikipedia tells me that the mask is made from a material made by Dr Manhattan, but this is not made clear in the film (unless it happened when I was asleep).
The ‘human’ superheroes are superstrong and superfast, with no explanation as to how this came about.
One can see this working as a miniseries directed by someone like David Lynch, who is well-used to incorporating surreal incongruities into his productions, but as a singular movie it tries to cover far too much ground with little room left to develop the individual characters.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Tuesday 3 March 2009

I have been very remiss in recording the details of my recent adventures and debauchery, although it has to be said that the debauchery of late has been in very short supply. Since the 10 February I have had a cold which, of the last two weeks, has lingered in the nostrils and caused me to sneeze at inappropriate times.
I also lost my phone last week, so to those of you who have my mobile number, I would urge you to text me, letting me know who you are, in order that I can re-phonebook you and maintain intermittent textual contact.
I went to my boss’s leaving party the night I lost my phone. My mate Bradley, an Australian with a penchant for extreme behaviour, wanted to cut holes in my t-shirt so that my nipples would show.
‘No,’ I told him. ‘I wish to retain an air of mystery.’

Monday 2 March 2009

Last night we watched David Lynch's 'Inland Empire'. 3 hours! It's brilliant in an incomprehensible way, and has people with rabbit heads. This evening we saw Harry Hill, although I suspect he is also Hugh Firmly-Wherewithall with a curly wig on. You never see them in the same room.
I subsequently hied me up the stairs to beddy-bye land now, and spent a quiet hour plotting the downfall of Celine Dion. She has to be stopped!!!

Friday 20 February 2009

Ode to Katie Price

Katie Price
Is not very nice
Her husband Peter
Is not much sweeter

On my boss's leaving card I wrote 'I won't miss the cleavage and the cat food.' She eats a species of tuna which smells like whiskas. Despite all pleas and threats of violence she has never desisted. She also wears the kind of dresses which one can only describe as ‘open plan’.
I have given her manager a list of quotable quotes which she has come out with over the last year or so, some of which are listed below:-

‘Are Catholics Christians then?’
‘Chinese? Are they communists?’
‘It must have been hard in the olden days without computers.’
‘Is cannabis not legal, then?’
‘We haven’t had any hunchbacks since Nostradamus, have we? Was he a real person, the one with the bells?’
‘Didn’t the French and English fight each other in the First World War? I know they played football at Christmas.’
‘I couldn’t eat an alligator. They look too much like reptiles.’
‘Adults don’t get hiccups.’
‘Grown men don’t get tonsillitis.’
‘You can’t attack the church. You’re unravelling two thousand years of rhetoric.’
‘Isn’t it true that pregnant women spit a lot?’
‘Help me! I’m on a woman on the edge!’
‘If people meditate, they open themselves up to get possessed. It’s true.’
‘I rely on e-mail and my e-mail has gone down! My life is officially over!’
‘Is it racist to call someone a Scottish idiot? I thought racism was just about skin colour.’

Tuesday 10 February 2009

you, in the key shop
stared with a locked face. i have
the combination

I got home late, and a sore throat is creeping up on me like an itchy stalker. I fear I will become ill.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Monday 9 February 2009

the picture framer
has walls hung with dark corners
they will surround me

I have recently painted a portrait of my friend Robert in the style of Van Gogh. He is looking very miserable in the photograph I took of him (upon which the portrait is based) with a roll-up balanced on the end of his lip.
I took the painting into our local picture framers and had to select a frame, a talent which I discovered, to my horror, I do not possess.
‘It’ll be ready in a week,’ the nice lady said, having sorted me out with a tasteful and suitable frame. On the receipt she had written ‘Colourful man smoking a cigarette’ which is as good a description of Robert as I could have wished for.

Sunday 8 February 2009

‘don’t kiss me,’ i said
‘i’ll only taste of biscuits.’
then i ran away

I had another day in the sauna, and met a very nice man called Joel. I was also chatted up by a man called Barry from South Wales at the coffee counter, who was chatting away to me about snow and tube stations while I nibbled on a ginger crumble. Quite out of the blue he leaned forward and tried to kiss me, and all I could think of to say was ‘Don’t! I taste of biscuits!’ which provoked a few sniggers from the fish tank area.

Wednesday 4 February 2009

saunas have fish tanks
always. there must be a law
or local statute

After a long period of abstinence or to be honest, ignorance, I visited a sauna. Had I not been ignorant of its existence I would no doubt have visited before now, since it is situated very conveniently just off Edgware Road.
As seems to be standard, there is a sauna, a steamroom, a video room and a nice lounge with free coffee and a big fishtank. Every sauna, it seems, has to have a fishtank.
It is a clean and friendly venue, and I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who offered to take me up the back corridor for a cup of tea.
On this occasion I declined politely and opted for a free coffee in the open-plan lounge.

Tuesday 3 February 2009

painting the van gogh
i’m still not crazy enough
to catch the madness

People complain far too much, I have decided. After the day of doing nothing, yesterday, complaints have poured in to anyone likely to listen, whining about schools being closed, buses not running, and the powers that be not having been ready for the snow.
I am apathetic about this, since it is a symptom of the British Condition. We are seldom ready for anything, apart from complaining.

Monday 2 February 2009

a soft invasion
covered the streets in minutes
closed the city down

My week off from work did not start well since I awoke in Narnia. The world outside the window was deep in snow and the city was, it seemed, so cursed by the White Witch that all buses and trains had been turned to stone.
The Ugly One set out with all good intentions of getting to work, but soon returned, and we spent a quiet day at home, interrupted only by a feral child throwing a snowball at our window.
Not wanting my free days to count for nothing, I spent a couple of hours painting and, when the light became too dim to paint, went to work designing a crossbow capable of bringing down a medium sized child before one snowball could leave its hand.

Sunday 1 February

‘you’re beautiful though
you could be in hollyoaks
honestly, you could.’

Saturday 31 January 2009

a bag full of fish
babies borne to a new home
held safe all the way

Friday 30 January 2009

tonight’s cab driver
morose and unresponsive
and still i tipped him

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Thursday 29 January 2009

I was sorry to hear of the death of John Martyn, whose contribution to British music is inestimable. For those of you who have no knowledge of his genius, I suggest you try out his albums ‘Solid Air’ and ‘Grace and Danger’.

Thursday 22 January 2009

I have one hundred friends
i’ve never met
except upon the internet

The other week we watched a TV programme in which Rob Brydon examined the concept of Welshness and, being a Welsh comedian in exile, the nature of the Welsh sense of humour. This interests me greatly, being also an ex-pat Welshman and a bit of a comedian. There is, I feel, a paradoxical nature to the Welsh temperament which was deftly highlighted in this show.
The general perception of the Welsh as a race, as far as one can have an accurate general perception of a race, is one of dourness and a pervading sense of glum resignation.
Brydon evolved a stage routine during his tour of Wales, which began as a fairly mild ribbing of Wales and the Welsh, and, after some adverse reaction from audiences and discussions with his friends and other Welsh comedy stars, evolved into a more positive presentation.
It turned out to be a bit of a thorny subject, since Brydon’s best friend appeared to be not only anglophobic but violently antagonistic to Brydon’s affectionate pokes at Welsh life.
Having grown up in North Wales, I can appreciate the strong emotions that this subject evokes. However, my own experience is that there is a strong and vital streak of humour running through the Welsh psyche. I grew up in a family whose senses of humour were as varied as their personalities. I get my sense of comedy I think from my grandmother, who had a black and mischievous sense of humour, which can be exemplified as follows:
When I was a child, every Friday afternoon I would go to my grandmother’s house where the new edition of The Wrexham Leader would have arrived.
My job was to read out the obituaries, and then, a weekly treat, the ‘In Memorium’ poems, which were, more often than not, personally-written epitaphs to commemorate the anniversary of the passing of the dear-departed.
My grandmother found these hilariously funny, and would often have a handkerchief to her mouth and tears streaming down her cheeks at the unintentional humour that these verses contained. My favourite, or at least the only one I recall in its entirety, runs as follows:-

You have not really left us
Nor have you travelled far
You’ve only wandered on a bit
And left the door ajar.

I don’t think you have to be Welsh to see the humour inherent in this, but it helps.

Wednesday 21 January 2009

tesco queues bobbing.
strings of tired fleshy balloons
fallen to the ground.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Tuesday 20 January 2009

and this is tuesday
the aches of time are peeling
through me like numb bells

It would appear that The Vatican have come down with a very heavy papal hand on the Italian bus companies, or else the Italian government, as the atheist posters promised are no longer to appear in Genoa as planned. Boo!
The Pope, it appears, is to post his pontifications on You Tube. I’m tempted to dress as The Pope myself and make my own papal postings. I can guarantee they’ll contain more common sense.

Monday 19 January 2009

a freezing park bench
chatting to clem about sex
and the world. warm words.

I was sick today, so I rang in and told the PTB that I would be in tomorrow. I still had to go out shopping though. I had a yen for Chicken Laksa.
And indeed, Chicken Laksa I did have, which is as good a cure for the blues as plain old chicken soup, except that this has the added delight of coconut and chillies.
‘Celebrity Big Brother’ hasn’t really grabbed me this year. I find most of the housemates quite dull, apart from Ulrika Johnson, the wonderful Tina and Terry Christian. Coolio is just tedious, Verne is a nice person, but he’s famous because he’s 2’ 8”. LaToyah Jackson obviously believes she is Minnie Mouse. Tommy Sheringham is cute enough, but I expected more from a committed socialist. The rest of them I have already put from my mind. They are forgotten.

Sunday 18 January 2009

outside ‘al-abbas’
the arabs bicker and shout
with smiling faces.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Saturday 17 January 2009

i can’t get the words
‘carmina burana’ on
the first line of this.

And so, off to the O2 we did go, to see ‘Carmina Burana’ with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Franz Abraham. The set was amazing, but to be honest, without the giant screens showing you the detail on stage it was difficult to tell what was happening. It sounded amazing anyhoo.
I sat next to a lady from Ohio.
‘I’ve never been to Ohio,’ I said.
‘Not many people do,’ she replied, with a note of finality, so I didn’t enquire further.

Friday 16 January 2009

‘you german bastard!’
a cyclist, shouting to me.
he left, unchallenged.

On my cigarette break, some way outside the secret government bunker in which I am employed, I was abused by an old rastafarian on a bicycle.
‘You German Bastard!’ he shouted, several times. This was, I presume, because I was wearing a parkah with a german flag on the sleeve and not because I look particularly german. Even if I did, I see no reason for the abuse. I am too young to have been involved in any Nazi war crimes, or the war, for that matter.
On my way home, I saw the actor who played Count Scarlioni, The Last of The Jagaroth in the Dr Who episode ‘City of Death’, back when Tom Baker was Doctor Who. He was on his way through Hammersmith Tube Station. He didn’t call me a German bastard, thankfully.
We have a new Doctor Who now, a young whippersnapper who is surely too young to play a Time Lord, but Time will tell... (did you see what I did there...?).

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Thursday 15 January 2009

in tailored prison
tied, shirted, trousered, booted
to the interview

"There's two things I can't stand - intolerance and Catholics" – Spike Milligan

The atheist posters have gone up on buses around London, proclaiming the message ‘God probably doesn’t exist. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life’ which, one imagines, should offend no one since religious Groups have no problem with filling Underground Trains and stations with their religious propaganda. However, I wasn’t surprised to discover that it didn’t take long for god-botherers to find a rickety bandwagon and jump on it.

“An atheist campaign claiming "There's probably no God" has been reported to the advertising regulator.

Posters with the slogan appear on 800 buses in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as on the London Underground.
But organisation Christian Voice has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority saying they break rules on substantiation and truthfulness.
The British Humanist Association, which backed the campaign, said it was not taking the complaint seriously.
The ASA's code states "marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims". The regulator said it would assess the complaint and decide whether to contact the advertiser.
The adverts contain the slogan: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
But Stephen Green, national director of Christian Voice, said: "There is plenty of evidence for God, from people's personal experience, to the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural world.
"But there is scant evidence on the other side, so I think the advertisers are really going to struggle to show their claim is not an exaggeration or inaccurate, as the ASA code puts it."
The campaign was dreamed up by comedy writer Ariane Sherine and was supported by scientist and vocal atheist Richard Dawkins.
Hanne Stinson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said: "I've sought advice from some of our key people here, but I'm afraid all I've got out of them so far is peals of laughter.
"I am sure that Stephen Green really does think there is a great deal of evidence for a God (though presumably only the one that he believes in), but I pity the ASA if they are going to be expected to rule on the probability of God's existence."


Meanwhile, the campaign is moving to Genoa where the very grand-sounding Italian Union of Rational Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR) are planning their own campaign next month.

“Father Gianfranco Celabrese, a spokesman for Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the Archbishop of Genoa and head of the Italian Bishops Conference, attacked the atheist campaign, saying it amounted to "intolerance". Vatican officials were said to be alarmed at reports that the atheist campaign would target Rome next.
Father Calabrese said: "There are some methods which promote dialogue and others which feed intolerance. Head-on opposition always demonstrates intolerance." The Genoa bus campaign will use the slogan: "The bad news is that God does not exist. The good news is that we do not need him", rather than the claim by campaigners in Britain and Spain that God "probably" does not exist. “


This serves to hearten me to the fact that rational people are willing to stand up and be counted around the world. It is, of course, rather ironic for a Catholic Archbishop to talk of intolerance, particularly in view of the Pope’s unfortunate remarks just before Christmas.
My boss, here in the secret underground government bunker, is against the campaign, and when I asked her why, she replied ‘It’s wrong to attack the church like this. You’re unravelling two thousand years of rhetoric.’

I had an interview today, perversely for my own job. This is the second time this has happened although I am gratified to know that there will be a substantial uplift in the old moolahs.
And Ricardo Montalban is dead, famous for both being Khan in ‘Star Trek – The Wrath of Khan’ and for being in The Colbys.