Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Jonathan and I fancied a seeing a film today, and took the subway to Times Square. We decided on Moulin Rouge, bought our tickets in a huge multiplex, and made our way up, up, up, to Screen 22.

Moulin Rouge is a curate's egg. When it's good, it's stunning: a huge, lavish, Faberge egg, with gaw-JUSS sets, dizzying tricksy camera work, fabulous set pieces. Over-egged? And then some. When it's bad, though, it's a stinker, a rotten egg. [What's with all this egg symbolism, Sim?]

For a film about how love triumphs over greed, it is a pity that the best bits are those where Luhrmann has thrown huge wads of cash at the screen. The 'tender' love scenes are dreadfully mawkish. I did notice a glint in the eye of the blogger next to me, and mine sparkled a couple of times, particularly in the scene where Nicole Kidman's character, knowing she is dying, sings Queen's The Show Must Go On - "my make-up may be flaking, but my smile still stays on". A moving reminder of Freddie Mercury, who knew he was dying when he wrote it.

Luhrmann's use of well-known pop songs throughout Moulin Rouge is sometimes inspired - the sight of Jim Broadbent singing Like A Virgin in a Busby Berkeley production number will stay with me. The 'elephant love medley', on the other hand [where Kidman and McGregor serenade each other with lurve songs] is dull, dull, dull.

So it's hugely flawed, but go see. For the production design, for the exhausting opening sequence, for Nicole Kidman acting Ewan McGregor off the screen with one eyebrow, go see!
Last night saw the first TransAtlanticGayBlogMeet. Hopefully the first of many. God, what a sexy, intelligent, witty bunch. See the evidence. To use my favourite New York word: Gaw-JUSS!
Boston is a lovely city - very clean, very ordered. A bit too clean and ordered, perhaps. The city authorities have an obsession with putting signs up everywhere: "No parking", "tow zone", "snow emergency zone", "slow handicapped children" [yes, really]. The occasional sign of rebellion was welcome relief: a school with a sign announcing: "This is a school. Trespassers forbidden. Police, take note". The strangest sight we encountered in Boston was an oriental woman, running screaming through heavy traffic. Stark bollock naked. [Well, perhaps not bollock. Hey, how would I know?]

We hit New York running. Shopping. My God, it's hot. I can see why all the eastern seaboard queens escape to Fire Island or Provincetown for the summer. However, I do hope they haven't all escaped - we're meant to be meeting a bunch of them tonight. More about that later.

Thursday, July 19, 2001

Right! I'm off to the States for ten days. I'll probably blog once or twice while I'm over there - especially if anything really exciting befalls me or Jonathan, and I'll certainly be checking my mail regularly. Normal service will be resumed on Wednesday the 1st of August. Byeeee!
Jeffrey Archer has been found guilty of perjury and perverting the cause of justice, and sentenced to four years' imprisonment. You almost have to admire the man. Take a look at this catalogue of misdemeanours.
today andrea feels...
Oysters, clams, lobster... Oh, I'm going to love Boston! And they do say oysters are an aphrodisiac.
My mailbox runneth over. Michael writes:
Here are some songs about Beantown off the top of my head:
  • Dirty Water - The Standells (The Charles River and Boston Harbor used to be the most polluted bodies of water in the country, hence the title)
  • Rock and Roll Band - Boston
  • (I think) Man From Tennessee - don't know the artist. The line is “Please come to Boston for the springtime...“
  • Dan adds some truly obscure songs about Boston:
    Well, Jonathan Richman and the Moden Lovers do a number of songs about or mentioning Boston/Massachusetts/New England:
  • Roadrunner (mentions Boston)
  • New England [not the Billy Bragg/Kirsty MacColl song!]
    Mostly I can only think of other stuff by little-known Boston bands:
  • The Allstonians, a ska band, mention their neighborhood quite a bit.
  • A song called "Mix It Up" by Chucklehead is about lack of diversity in Boston.
  • Patrick says:
    The group Boston have a song detailing their rise from unknowns to rock dinosaurs and I think the first line is "We were just another band out of Boston"...
    Patrick then goes on to tell me to plug his blog, because if people visit it, he will make sure he keeps it up to date. That's not the way it works, Patty. If you build it, they will come.

    Finally, Dave has a fine suggestion for the name of the suburb I live in, being slap-bang in the middle of West Hampstead, Cricklewood and Kilburn:
  • West Cricklesburn.
  • I fly to Boston tomorrow morning. Tonight, I have arranged farewell drinks with friends [Comptons at 8, if you're in town]. Just when am I going to pack?

    Wednesday, July 18, 2001

    Ian should take heed of this F Scott Fitzgerald story, encapsulated in this lovely song by the Divine Comedy.
    I don't know where I live. Whenever people ask me whereabouts in London I live, I usually answer "Well, it's kinda Kilburn-Cricklewood-West-Hampstead-ish." You see, I live here. Go one street to the east, and you're in West Hampstead; one north and you're in Cricklewood; one south and you're in Kilburn; one-and-a-bit west and you're in Willesden. What suburb do I live in?
    Jonathan reminds me that I didn't believe him last night when he said there was a song called "Boston Tea Party". There is.

    So unconvinced was I that I instantly made up two more songs on the spot: "I got those ole Boston blues, yeaaah..." and "They call me the Boston Strangler, cuz I strangle folk all daaay..."
    In the interval, we tried to name as many songs about New York as we possibly could. We came up with loads: From New York To LA; New York City Boy; King Of New York; Only Living Boy In New York; A Heart In New York; New York State Of Mind; Fairytale Of New York; Native New Yorker; New York Mining Disaster 1941; Arthur's Theme; New York By Night; Times Square; Nights On Broadway; On Broadway; Walking Down Madison; The Village In The Morning; Hey Manhattan; Harlem Shuffle; and - of course - New York, New York...

    ...but all we could come up with for Boston was the Bee Gees' Massachusetts. Can you do better? And, yes, I know there's a band called Boston.
    A very entertaining, very challenging, very intelligent pop quiz last night. Therefore, we failed miserably. My excuse, and I'm sticking to it, is that there was too much ShitePop and not enough indie. "We" in this case were me, Ian and Jonathan. No Shaun. No Darren. No Extra Shouty Bits.

    The first four questions were all movie-related. Name the song, the artist and the film. The first one was Chris Isaak's Wicked Game, which we knew came from "Wild At Heart". We got Siouxsie And The Banshees with Face To Face; Bjork with something from "Dancer In The Dark"; and kd lang with a song from "Tomorrow Never Dies", but in each case we were missing one part of the question, losing a half-mark each time.

    The next three questions were Spot The Celeb. No problem with PJ and Duncan's Stepping Stone, and we managed to recognise Leslie Ash and Caroline Quentin singing something or other, but we had no idea who the bimbo singing some dreadful piece of dreck called The Battle Of The Sexes was. We could somehow tell she was a blonde bimbo, and guessed Jordan. It was Dani Behr.

    The next round involved spotting the song from an instrumental break in the twelve-inch. No problems with Bananarama's Venus, The Spice Girls' Spice Up Your Life or The Human League's The Things That Dreams Are Made Of. We guessed correctly that the fourth song was by Steps, but couldn't name the song, I am pleased to say. (It really was The Last Thing On My Mind.)

    Then came our favourite round: What Happens Next? They played the S Club 7 song Don't Stop Moving, and stopped it just before the chorus, and we had to supply the next fourteen words. We answered, "Don't stop moving, everybody grooving, listen to the music going around and round." We weren't even close. Can you do better?

    Questions 13 to 16 involved singles recorded by EastEnders actors. We correctly guessed Michelle Gayle, Sean MacGuire and Letitia Dean, but failed to recognise a very early, very 80s, very dreadful Martine McCutcheon song.

    Next up was the What Came Next? round, in which we were played a single and then had to name that band's next single. We didn't get a single point here. The three songs played were: Abba's Dancing Queen, The Beatles' Ticket To Ride, and Madonna's Papa Don't Preach but we failed to name their subsequent releases. Can you do better?

    Finally, we had to put four Kylie songs in chronological order of UK release. Easy. The four songs were: Shocked, Step Back In Time, Better The Devil You Know and Hand On Your Heart. Put them in the right order.

    We ended with our lowest score ever: 12 out of 21. The winners didn't do a whole lot better, scoring fifteen-and-a-half.
    After last night's quiz [more about that later] and yet another drink in Barcode, I took the Bakerloo line northward bound, homeward bound. Or so I thought. That posh bird wot does the automatic announcements sang out, "the next station is... Waterloo. Change at...Waterloo for..."

    "Shit shit shit, I've taken the wrong train," I thought to myself, "the next station should be Oxford Circus. I got on at the wrong platform." A quick explanation for you New Yorkers: this would [I think] be like getting on the A train at Times Square, expecting to get off at Columbus Circle, and discovering instead that you were at Penn Station. Or for you non-New Yorkers, it would be like getting on at Central Anywheresville, expecting to alight at North Anywheresville, and finding out you were heading for South Anywheresville. Is that clear? OK, I'll proceed.

    So we arrive at the next station: "This is.. Waterloo. Change here for the..." Now, the signs on the wall clearly say Oxford Circus. The mosaic on the wall is clearly the one at Oxford Circus. But Automated Posh Bird isn't so sure: "This is Waterloo. This is Piccadilly Circus. This is Oxford Circus." The two Spanish lads opposite me grab their bags and flee.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2001

    As the New Scientist says, "Coughs and sneezes spread diseases, but what about farts?" An Australian scientist got her eight-year-old son to fart, pants down, on a blood agar plate (bacterial growth medium) from a distance of five centimeters. Upon overnight incubation the plate showed growth of mixed skin and enteric bacteria. Most notable was the concentration of enteric [gut] bacteria in the "initial blast zone" at the centre of the plate, surrounded by the mixed skin and enteric bacteria located in the "splatter ring" around the "initial blast zone". Conclusion, don't situate an unprotected face within five centimeters of an unsheathed flatulent anus. See the results.
    Fans of Agatha Christie-style whodunnits should head over to Suspicion Of Murder where you can try your hand at solving a murder in a mansion, utilising a complex series of clues and red herrings.
    Courtesy of just about everyone, a lovely Flash version of the Periodic Table.
    Courtesy of Mattee, the Periodic Table of men.
    Apologies for my earlier outburst. I had just come out of a frustrating meeting. The recent corporate restructuring has resulted in what must seem, to management, like a good idea: streamline the production departments, amalgamating the magazine, directory and newsletter production teams, causing a few redundancies. I can see the logic in this, but:
  • magazine production staff are highly-trained, highly-strung beasts. We do not want to do the DTP on some crappy, mono, 500-page directory.
  • although we admittedly have huge holes in our schedules, we also work to pressured deadlines. Don't choose one of my hectic periods to give me shitty work.
  • magazines work as teams: the editor and production editor need to make decisions together. They don't want an administrator with no mag experience sticking his nose in.
  • anyone who has worked on a mag knows not to try tell the ad sales department their job. You will make enemies.
  • "Initially typed 'finally got to be some time around 2am' in the sentence above. Oh wow, that's so existential! To be or not to be? That is the question - asked about how soft my pencil lead is. Missus. You can take a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead. OK, I'm losing it. Meeting time. More later." Dave, go to bed! We'll miss you at the pop quiz tonight.
    Aaaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhhh! buggerbollocksshitfuckcrap! Leave me to get on with it, you interfering old woman.

    Monday, July 16, 2001

    Thanks to Vaughan and the Personality Disorder test he linked to, I now know that I am an avoidant narcissist. Aren't most bloggers?
    Here are my results, to be taken with a large pinch of salt:
    Disorder: Rating Information
    Paranoid: Moderate
    Schizoid: Moderate
    Schizotypal: Low
    Antisocial: Moderate
    Borderline: Low
    Histrionic: Moderate
    Narcissistic: High
    Avoidant: High
    Dependent: Low
    Obsessive-Compulsive: Low
    Google Zeitgeist - Search patterns, trends, and surprises according to Google.
    It never rains men, but it pours. I have recently been sorta, kinda, maybe seeing two guys simultaneously. It all gets very confusing, particularly as their names both begin with the letters M A R - in the red corner we have Marcus, and in the blue: Mario - I just need a Marius and a Marco to complete the set. The truly annoying thing is that they're both lovely guys. Both of them. I don't want to have to choose one of them, but if I don't, I'll probably lose both. They know about each other, and seem OK about it, but I feel it's time I showed one of them that I am potential boyfriend material.

    Which is exactly what I did this weekend. I spent Friday night and Sunday afternoon with Marcus, trying to show him that I am indeed potential bf material if he wants that. And, no, I'm not just saying that because I know he reads this. Then, last night, Mario came round, and I told him that I was going to try make a go of it with Marcus. This might surprise those of you who read of my Hamburg exploits but - hey - there are different kinds of relationships. Watch this space...
    A bit bloody for a Monday morning, and a bit dull, really, but it wastes a bit of time in a farily amusing way: Sadistic Boxing. Register, create a boxer, choose his aggression levels, then take on my stable of prizefighters: Tyke Myson, Princess Naseem, Ali Muhammed X, Holly Evanderfield and Robinson Barley Sugar.
    Four days until Jonathan and I jet off for the states for a ten-day break. Our holiday is shaping up nicely - I've got his every waking minute planned down to the minutest detail. Two control freaks on holiday together? Should be a riot! Plans for the Inaugural TransAtlanticGayBlogMeet are coming together.

    Friday, July 13, 2001

    How big are Meg's nostrils??
    As Ian reports, I met a guy in Hamburg whom Ian is calling - for some unknown reason - Ludo. What he is too polite to mention is that although Ludo was very attractive, very affectionate, and completely smitten with me, he was also completely mad. [Well, he'd have to be, wouldn't he?]

    We had, admittedly, spent a couple of utterly incredible hours together, prompting me to send Jonathan a text message later: Jesus Christ! They are well trained over here. Just had the best sex I have EVER had! And I meant it. But my alarm bells were ringing. I had to say goodbye to him six times before he let me leave: "You will come tomorrow, yes?" "Yes," I replied. And I meant it. I really, really meant it.

    However, my alarm bells began ringing somewhere in the distance when I received a text message from him: To be right beside you - thats my wish... I kiss you Goodnight - have sweet Dreams and sleep tierd. And they started chiming louder still when he turned up at Tom's with a lame excuse about night-buses. [I had mentioned I'd be there later.] And they were clanging deafeningly when he engineered things so that it was too late for him to get home, and he had to stay with me in my hotel room. Again, he kept asking me if I would come meet him again tomorrow at six, and he burst into grateful tears when I reassured him that I would. And I meant it. I really, really meant it.

    But things look different in the cold light of day. I'm not sure what made me realise it would be wise if I never saw him again - perhaps it was the surreptitious "what the fuck is he on?" looks from Andy over breakfast. Or perhaps it was the memory of waking up to find Ludo staring at me intently and whispering, "My David, my David, my David..."

    But I had arranged to meet him, and I fully intended to. I really, really meant to. But then Ian, Andy and I had a carafe of wine. And another. Ludo sent me another text message: I had safe our Cabine... I'm a littel bit tierd but I also feel very good and hope I can hold you in my Arms again! Kiss...

    Andy, Ian and I started thinking up excuses as to why I couldn't go meet him: "My friend Britta invited me to dinner, but she hasn't started cooking yet." "Andy is my jealous boyfriend, and he won't let me see you." "Ian and Andy are my masters and they have forbidden me to leave the hotel tonight." We decided it would be best to just tell the basic truth, and I sent him a text message: I'm sorry, Ludo, but I am not going to make it tonight.

    As it turned out, he didn't get the message, and Ian had to be the bearer of bad news. Ludo was apparently heartbroken when he heard I wouldn't be coming. Hell hath no fury like a faggot scorned, and he stalked me in Tom's Saloon that night, quite properly refusing to listen to a word of my apology, and following me around, ensuring I was always in his sights.

    Yes, he had every right to be angry and upset. Yes, I felt like a heel. Yes, I behaved reprehensibly. But yes, I think I made the right decision [though I should have handled it much better].
    Can one become dyslexic? In the last couple of months, I have noticed that I often transpose letters and numbers. This is a recent development - I never used to do this, honest. My problem is not just hitting keys in the wrong order, though God knows I do that often enough, but it is most noticeable when I actually write things down. My notepad has become littered with odd words. When someone gives me a phone number, I will say out loud, "seven three nine two," and I'll repeat it as I write "seven nine three two". My major concern is that this really is a recent thing. I'm worried that I am developing dyslexia. Or something more severe. Hypocohnrdia, perhpas?
    Bleeding Heart Yard, Frying Pan Alley, Pope's Head Alley, Sugar Bakers Court, Amen Corner, Idol Lane... London is a warren of bizarrely-named alleys, courts, passages and yards. Wander around this fascinating site to learn the origin of their names. Wonderful stuff.
    Please do not evict Helen from Big Brother tonight. Our lives would be so much poorer without these gems [to be read aloud in a high-pitched Welsh accent]:

  • "Do I look chubby? I'm worried if I'm nominated as I'll have lots of pictures taken of me. I just won't eat anything on Friday".
  • "I think I'm the only Welsh person in here"
  • On her G.C.S.E's: "God! How come you lot have got loads and I have only got 2"
  • "I probably sound Welsh on the telly"
  • "I love blinking, I do!"
  • "Is the jelly cooked?"
  • "Yeah, you know Jack Daniels... he does all the magic stuff!"
  • "What does insanity MEAN???"
  • Brian: "What if she's (Helen) got an IQ of 25?"
        Helen: "Actually, I'm only 23"
  • Stuart: "What's Deans greatest fear?"
        Bubble: "Going insane"
        Helen: "No it isn't, its insanity he's scared of"
  • "I've heard that when men's willies are erect they are all the same size"
  • "I don't like telling clients (her hairdressing customers) that I teach dancing because they might think I'm being big headed".
  • Josh: "I've had 4 wet dreams... I wake up in the morning covered."
        Helen: "Covered in what?"
  • "What's in kidney beans?"
  • "How much chicken is there in chickpeas?"
  • I shall abandon all plans of writing up our Hamburg escapades, as Ian is doing a Wunderbar job of it. Oh, and Ian, you can be a real bastard about the Ludo-excuses thing if you like. God knows it was funny.

    Thursday, July 12, 2001

    Stay at home tomorrow if you're friggatriskaidekaphobic or, if you prefer, paraskevidekatriaphobic.
    Guy has put some Mardi Gras pics online. This one shows the three Hamburg-goers: from left to right: me, Andy and Ian, flanking a flamboyantly masked person that could be Andy B, could be Alex B - it's hard enough telling them apart when they're not masked.
  • 360 degree panoramas.
  • Sleaze
    Hamburg has hundreds of gay sex shops. Hundreds. Why? How can one town possibly need so many? Especially as many of the bars provide on-the-premises relief. Our hotel was directly across the road from Tom's Saloon. Virtually every city in the world with a major gay scene has a leather bar called Tom's, complete with Tom of Finland drawings of Aryan hunks with improbable appendages. The difference here is that this bar was actually the artist's favourite bar, and the drawings are originals. [And the appendages turned out - in our limited experience - to be not that improbable, but that's another story.]

    Hamburg is a red-hankie-right-pocket kind of town. They are a very accommodating lot! From the saunas, backrooms, bedrooms and hotel rooms of Hamburg comes the unmistakable smell of Crisco - as though they are constantly whipping up another batch of pastry to feed any hungry [British] guests that might pop in.

    Of course, Hamburg is famed for its straight sleaze, too. We first encountered the red light district off the Reeperbahn one afternoon, when the windows were occupied by bored middle-aged women. By night, the place is transformed, and we were solicited by loads of very pretty, well-scrubbed blondes. ["Er, no thanks." "Warum nicht??"]

    It's all very efficient and very honest. The German men we encountered were refreshingly upfront and unembarrassed about what they wanted - a lesson to us hypocritical Brits.
    Ian is writing a day-by-day account of our trip to Hamburg. [Very handy, as I am battling to remember everything we did.] I figured I'd group the things we did thematically.

    On our last day in Hamburg, I managed to drag Ian and a green-around-the-gills Andy to the Hamburger Kunsthalle. The gallery spans two buildings: a rococo terracotta building housing all the pre-1900 stuff, and a gorgeous ultra-modern white cube for contemporary art. Both collections are very well curated and imaginatively hung. The exhibits in the modern section - the Galerie der Gegenwart - seem to have been designed to disorient the viewer. Andy fled the building, claiming he was tripping.

    My favourite exhibits:
  • Jenny Holzer's Ceiling Snake - a 47.5-metre-long illuminated LED tickertape, displaying 1,000 sayings, and drawing the viewer along the corridor connecting the two buildings.
  • The Way Things Go by David Weiss Peter Fischli - an ingenious 30-minute video showing the systematic destruction of an entire warehouse full of everyday objects through fire, water, gravity and chemical reactions, in a chain reaction, domino-principle, MacGyver-stylee.
  • Dead Swiss by Christian Boltanski. What appears at first to be a blank wall made of tin bricks, turns out to be an oppressive tunnel made of small containers [safety-deposit boxes?] each bearing the photo of a dead person. I couldn't bring myself to walk down the rows, disturbing the sanctity of the dead. Ian had no such compunctions!

    Even the displays in the traditional gallery were very witty - one room was filled with hundreds of huge white mock-lightbulbs. And I mean huge. No apparent reason for them, but they were a lot more interesting than the dull 19th century paintings on the walls. I would have liked to have spent more time in the galleries, but with Andy feeling ill, and a plane to catch, we only spent a couple of hours there. And that was all the culture we got in Hamburg. Next up: sleaze.
  • Betty Bowers, a better Christian than you.

    Dear Mrs. Bowers:
    Sometimes when I am alone at night, I touch myself in an impure way. I seem to have no control. I want to stop because God and Jesus don't like it, but I can't! How can you help me?
    Timmy, Age 14

    Dear Sweet Sullied Child of Christ:
    Remember next time you are about to cinch down your little BVDs to delight in the Satanic pleasures of the flesh, that while Mommy and Daddy may not hear your little adolescent moans, everyone in Heaven can. You see, every single person in Heaven can and does watch everything you do! Dead Grandpa! Dead Great-Grandma! And all your dead pets!

    They all know if you succumb to the impurities of carnal delight - and whether you wash your hands after using the restroom. If for any reason the knowledge that you are being watched heightens your pleasure, then you are wholly given over to Satan and there is nothing I can do to help you at this point.

    So Close To Jesus, He Validates My Parking, 
    Betty Bowers
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    Wednesday, July 11, 2001

    Emails read, blogs trawled, quiz reports digested. Now what? Work? Or finding links to the things we saw in Hamburg? I think you know the answer to that...
    Yes, I'm back. Details will be forthcoming once I've decided which stories I can safely tell, but for now let's just say we found Hamburg to be hot, and the locals to be accommodating, to say the least.
    05 July 2001 20:23:35  
    FROM Evan Williams
    SUBJECT Your blog is now ad free  
    Someone (maybe you) has paid to make your blog ad-free (see details:
    OK, who did it? I haven't the faintest idea who paid for the banner ad on this site to be removed, but - whoever you are - thank you.

    Wednesday, July 04, 2001

    Ich bin ein Berliner; Ich bin Berliner, Ich bin Berlin.
    Ich bin ein Hamburger, Ich bin Hamburger.
    These are - apparently - all real place names:
    Shafter (California, USA), Beaver (Oklahoma, USA), Shitlingthorpe (Yorkshire, UK), Bastard (Norway), Twatt (Orkney, UK), Arsoli (Lazio, Italy), Muff (Northern Ireland), Wankie (Zimbabwe), Climax (Colorado, USA), Nobber (Donegal, Ireland), Lickey End (West Midlands, UK), Fukum (Yemen), Lord Berkeley's Knob (Sutherland, Scotland), Dildo (Newfoundland, Canada), Seymen (Turkey), Dong Rack (Thailand-Cambodia border), Intercourse (Pennsylvania, USA), Brown Willy (Cornwall,UK), Wanks River (Nicaragua), Fuku (Shensi, China), Beaver Head (Idaho, USA), Shag Island (Indian Ocean), Middle Intercourse Island (Australia), Chinaman's Knob (Australia), Wet Beaver Creek (Australia), Tittybong (Australia), Pis Pis River (Nicaragua), Dikshit (India), and Sexmoan (Luzon, Philippines)
    My search for 'reformed ham' led me to this bizarre page about a Welsh prog-rock band called Ham who supposedly recorded the archetypal prog rock album of the seventies, Bizza The Heen, in 1973, selling half a million copies and making it to number one on the Icelandic prog rock album chart. This led to Ham headlining the Reykjavik Festival Of Symphonic Rock in front of 86,000 people, supported by Genesis, ELP, King Crimson, Yes and Vandergraff Generator.

    Ham soon split and their bass player, Lolly Dwyer, joined the marvellously-named Fifi Le Beef in a band called Röde Krüe. They didn't last long either, and Mr Le Beef packed in the rock business and now works for Sketchley's. [I'm not making this up, honest!] Dwyer then reformed Ham with a chap named Fancy Fred Hogril, but changed the name to Cake Air Basket.

    I have no idea if any of this is true - I think the site I got this from, Silhobbit, is an acid-fried spoof of prog-rock fan sites, but I'm not entirely sure. [Make sure you read Prog Rock Is Good For Your Cock and Fred West Was An It Bites Fan. I shall do some more research after my lunch of honey-roast reformed ham sandwich.
    A pre-lunch discussion in the office about what reformed ham is (pieces of pork, squashed up with added water and gelatin) led to further stomach-churning subjects: why crabsticks are called 'seafood sticks' these days (they don't contain any crab), what really goes into sausages, and the grisly horror that is recovered meat ("animal rectums, testicles, udders, feet and tails are permitted to be used in such products as sausages, turkey burgers and chicken nuggets").
    The age-old "nurture or nature" debate is revisited tonight on BBC1 in Child Of Our Time: Tomboy Or Sissy?. The programme takes what sounds like a fascinating look at gender stereotyping in babies as young as one year old.

    Today's Guardian features Marina Cantacuzino's story about her four-year old cross-dressing son:
    My son is a cross-dresser. He is nearly four and started when he was barely out of nappies. He loves nothing more than to wear girls' dresses - the flouncier, prettier and fuller the better. He has a "day" dress (an old satin bridesmaid's dress belonging to one of his sisters) and a "night" dress (a red baggy T-shirt, four sizes too large). He is obsessed with long hair and has even devised his own by putting green leggings on his head with the two legs hanging over his shoulders as plaits. He is deft at applying his own nail varnish, he can't stop watching The Wizard of Oz because he likes Dorothy's ruby shoes so much, and his favourite toy is a Barbie.

    The moment he gets home, he asks to put [a dress] on, preferably the one that "twirls" the most. Then, applying his hair and putting on his pink tights and his sister's "clickety shoes" (clogs), he sticks his head round the door and, with a grin, announces: "I've turned."
    Get hold of the printed newspaper if you can - the picture is a scream[er].
    Last night's quiz report-back: we won! The princely sum of eight whole pounds. Woo! Welcome new team-member Shaun - Sean? Shawn? Shorn? - you've passed the audition. Jonathan will have the full report.
    I am wanted in eleven different countries. [Largely Brazil and Sweden at the moment, but that's another story.] I am clearly known to Customs officials all over the world. Every airport, ferry landing and international railway station must have a huge poster of me in a secret little room behind a one-way mirror. There can be no other explanation for the fact that I get stopped and searched every time I go through Customs.

    My troubles started in 1997, as I alighted from the Copenhagen-Malmö ferry. Unbeknownst to me, a neo-Nazi Combat 18 skinhead had taken the same ferry a week before, and had posted a bomb disguised as a video tape to a former gang member. I can't blame Swedish Customs for choosing to search the one person who was - to all appearances - an English skinhead. Heck, I was flattered. Me? A real skinhead! How marvellous!

    Then it happened again a couple of months later, as I returned to the UK after my first visit to Amsterdam. Of course I wasn't stupid enough to bring any contraband back with me. There was no need for me to look shifty as I headed for the 'nothing to declare' lane at Heathrow. But shifty I looked, and I got pulled over by a female Customs official. She went through my bag, unfolding all my most embarrassing belongings: my smelly, holey socks, my skidmarked undies, my maps of the gay scene. And then... she found my stash. My stash of condoms and lube, that is. I was mortified.

    This scene has been repeated in virtually every country in western Europe. I anticipate it now, and start the paranoid self-talk every time I pick up my bags. "Try and look normal, Dave. Look straight ahead. Travel with this family group." But, no, I get stopped virtually every time. Hell, I've even been stopped twice coming off the Eurostar from Paris. The last search was particularly rigorous, as the official went over all my belongings with a little vacuum cleaner fitted with a special filter, which she then ran through a machine, presumably looking for traces of drugs. And, yes, I have been strip-searched, too. I won't even go into the hell I went through going through US Customs, with their immigration laws.

    Do I have any civil rights in these situations? Is it worth my while to demand - what? a search warrant? A lawyer? Obviously, I have asked myself, "Why me?" Is it the shaved head? The earrings? The attitude-laced walk? The paranoid darting stares? I realise that I probably get stopped because I look guilty. But that doesn't stop me looking guilty - I over-compensate and end up looking like a drug mule, all false, glassy smile and sweat-beaded brow.

    Andy, Ian - don't even think about bringing anything illegal back from Hamburg next week. Look, I've seen Midnight Express, OK?

    Tuesday, July 03, 2001

    Spot no Bills. Oddie oddity: A twitcher twitched.
    Featured in's Apartment Envy feature: UltraSparky's fab New York apartment, a huge industrial loft space. I thought these places only existed in American films.
    Was yesterday gay day on Channel 4? "Funny Girl" in the morning, and "Priscilla Queen Of The Desert" last night, followed immediately by "La Cage Aux Foles". Why?
    Tentative schedule for Boston and New York:
    F 20 Heathrow 10:55 Boston 13:25
    S 21 Ron (leatheregg) dinner and bar tour
    S 22
    M 23 Boston 20:10 JFK 21:22
    T 24 GayBlogMeet? Ending up at Jackie Factory?
    W 25 ?? ending up at Pork at the Lure
    T 26
    F 27 Richard Cheese at the Mercury Lounge?
    S 28 Free Kid Creole concert in Central Park?
    S 29 Kiki and Herb at Fez?
    M 30 JFK 19:05
    T 31 Heathrow 06:55
    Thank God for HX Online. Help us fill in the blanks.
    Hurrah! Robyn has a broken cock-tale to tell. Boys, cross your legs! And in case you missed here, here's the story of the time I injured myself down there...
    Look Marcus no thumb! [in-jokes, don't you just hate them?]

    Monday, July 02, 2001

    Andy, Ian and I are off to Hamburg for five days from Thursday. I've been searching the web for facts about the place, and have come across the following:

    My favourite site has to be Oleg Arin's Hamburg without hamburgers, but with queers and Natashas. Oleg is a Russian with an interesting world-view:
    On the very first evening, strolling in a random street, we encountered an equally startling spectacle: mysterious looks and poses of same-sex couples. Myself, I don’t understand this peculiar kind of relationship (even Socrates can’t convince me), but in West Germany and Western nations in general this thing has become normal. Unattractive Frauen, devoid of feminine charm – I mean there are even morphological changes of their features – march in the streets looking businesslike in face and body. I guess that men have no choice but to develop feelings for one another.

    Steindamm: a street consisting of nothing but sex-shops where the display windows feature certain enticing body parts. My wife felt revulsion for some reason, and we retreated from that street as well, condemning ourselves mentally for our hypocrisy and unculturedness.
    One attraction I hope we have the guts to try is Dialogue In The Dark - a tour through a large warehouse in pitch black darkness, guided only by a blind person:
    In the seven rooms ahead you will dive into the total darkness of the blind, and together with them you will discover the world of smells and noises, of touch and the spoken word. You have to entrust yourself to a total stranger whom you can only get to know through conversation and touch. Nevertheless you will have to rely completely upon his abilities - which you haven't got - to find his way through the darkness. You will find out how important ears, nose, taste, speech and finger tips become the moment vision, our most important sense, lets us down.
    An oft-repeated stat is that Hamburg has more bridges than Venice and Amsterdam combined, 2,428 of them, in fact (Venice has a mere 450). Of course, another thing Hamburg has in common with Amsterdam is its red light district, and I'm sure the three of us will wander wide-eyed around the Reeperbahn. Fortunately, our hotel is slap-bang [probably literally, if I know Andy] in the middle of the city's gay centre, St Georg.

    Expect a full report-back next week. If you have any tips, please let me know.
    Wotafuckup: It's definitely cancelled. Or rather postponed - for a whole year! The organisers are blaming it on the last-minute cancellation of Sinead O'Connor. Refunds will apparently be given - but not for our flights, obviously. We now have no focal point for our trip, and will have to find something else groovy to replace it - a large gathering of witty poofs, perhaps - a transatlantic GayBlogMeet. C'mon, what's happening in Boston from the 20th to the 23rd or in New York from the 23rd to the 30th? Mail me or Jonathan with suggestions.
    I dreamed a movie last night. It was a Danny Boyle-style movie, set in London, with me as one of the stars. A Pulp track played over the closing credits - a brand new Pulp song. The song was a bit like She's A Lady, complete with Jarvis' trademark "chick-a-chick-a"s, but with whole new lyrics and music, written - presumably - by me. It's not the first time I've dreamt a whole new song - I once dreamed of Marc Almond performing a powerful song which ended with him retreating from the microphone into darkness, whispering: "my red paper bag, my red paper bag, my red..."

    When I was a kid, I had a serial dream in the form of a TV programme called "The Adventures Of David In The Underworld". Every night, just after I'd dropped off, the opening titles would come up. My front door would open, and I'd start walking up our lane. Suddenly, a hole would open up in the road and I would fall into a dark netherworld where I would do battle with witches and monsters. This went on every night, and it always ended with closing credits: "Starring me, Produced by me", etc. Obviously, it was a product of watching too much TV. We only had a black-and-white telly in those days, and I wish I could remember now if the dream was monochrome or colour.
  • Party on the grassy knoll behind the Vauxhall Tavern: a good idea. The six beers consumed at it: a bad one.
  • The DE Experience's show at the RVT: very funny. Andy'n'Alex's hardcore minkering: funnier still.
  • Leaving with Mario: wonderful. Agreeing to go to a house party with him: woeful.
  • Getting home: glorious. Getting up: laborious.
  • Tin Man has moved, redesigned, gone all CSS and Greymatter. The CSS tutorial Jeff has linked to may be just the thing to push me to redesign, too. Maybe.
    Just heard that the aptly-named Wotapalava may have been cancelled. So Jonathan and I are going all the way to Boston for - what, exactly?
    Ian, Scally, Jonathan, Mark, Andy, Guy and I met up at Green Park to watch the march go by. Don't rain on my parade: the heavens opened just as the parade reached us. Strangely, someone told me that the same thing happened at Hyde Park - perhaps the start of the march had its own cloud following it? A clear sign from God, obviously.

    We half-heartedly joined the back of the march for all of - ooh - five minutes before we realised that:1, we were marching under the "London Bisexuals" banner, and 2, it was a bit dull. We wanted something more exciting - less official. So, after a brief offie-pitstop, we went to the unofficial Mardi Gras party on Old Compton Street. Bumped into everyone we've ever known, everyone we've ever had, everyone we've never had. Yet. ["Starfucker" T-shirt, you will be mine. Don't you know who I am?] Tube from Leicester Square "This is a Cockfosters train. Due to overcrowding, it will not stop at Finsbury Park. If you are going to Mardi Gras, please alight at Arse-nal. Would the gentleman with the horn please shut up." Everybody: "We've all got the horn!"

    The park was good, I think. The weather was lovely. We wandered, met, drank, laughed, danced, listened, counselled, flirted, oohed, aahed, just a little bit, chilled, pilled, a little bit more. Trade tent, Fist tent, Gay Dad, Heaven tent, Champagne tent [hello Iain], Hear'Say, Steps, Ken Livingstone, Strongbow lounging tent-thing, and hundreds of bloody text messages: "We're at the Radio 1 stage." "OK, will find u." "Have moved from Radio 1 stage. Heading to Trade tent." "OK. Will find you." "Funfair!" "Am at Trade tent. Where r u?" "Come!"

    Somehow it was chucking-out time and we walked - I mean waaaalked - to some godforsaken station - Holloway Road, perhaps? Crowded tube to Brixton (we must have changed lines somewhere?) and a brief chill-out and shower at Michael's, and then on to the Fridge. The rest, as they say, is mystery.