Saturday, March 30, 2002
Thursday, March 28, 2002
Due to what I assume is an adminstrative error, Pyra have now sent me a voucher entitling me to another free ad. I've chosen something a bit more... unusual this time:
It is certainly working a lot better - 8 click-throughs from 4,002 impressions so far. Better, but a 0.2% success rate is not exactly setting the world alight.
I support Commander Brian Paddick's efforts to save police time by adopting a new approach to cannabis possession, allowing resources to be concentrated on catching dealers of hard drugs. I deplore the homophobic witch hunt against Commander Paddick conducted by the Daily Mail and the sordid cheque book journalism resulting in a payment of £100,000 to his ex-partner in an attempt to damage Commander Paddick's reputation and destroy this progressive policing policy.
I urge all those sympathetic to this policy initiated by Commander Paddick to write immediately to the following:
If you agree with the main thrust of this mail then please copy this letter to your email address books of friends and business colleagues maximising circulation & discussion of this email and ask them to copy their mails to:
so I can keep track how its going and publicise the totals emailing their support. I already have some media supporters in surprising places.
We don't have much time to save Commander Paddick. If we all mail it to at least 10 people each, the Met Police Commissioner & Home Office will receive 100,000 mails each by the time their offices open on Tuesday. Get emailing, cut and paste the letter and cc copying them! Let them know how we feel about Commander Paddick.
Wednesday, March 27, 2002
Meg says: "My eyes are blue; they change colour when I'm happy or sad or angry or tired". I'm convinced mine do, too, though I'm not sure that's scientifically possible. Trouble is, I don't know what colour they are in the first place. I've variously been told that my eyes are blue, green, hazel or grey. Jonathan and I were discussing this last night. "They're ultramarine," he said, "or battleship grey."
Primrose Hill fireworks display
And after reading this simple guide on how to create these 360-degree panoramas, I may give it a go myself.
I would welcome suggestions, possible solutions, reference materials, referrals, anything you might recommend. Please email me.
Tuesday, March 26, 2002
Monday, March 25, 2002
Marcus, Jonathan, Mark, Ian, Dave, Christopher, Stuart and I met up on Saturday afternoon and took a stroll along the river to Vinopolis. Not so much a 'city of wine' as they claim, more a trade fair with dull displays and a huge shop, with only the promise of alcohol at the end of the tour to keep you interested.
And then to Gordon's Wine Bar, which hasn't changed a bit since I was last there, apart from the addition of another five years of dust and mildew. And then McDonald's. And then The Retro Bar, where we fed the jukebox and frightened off potential customers with our impromptu karaoke.
Then home, and SMS messages:
Friday, March 22, 2002
Oh, I love everything about this programme. Lovely, lovely, smiley Carol Smillie. The ludicrous designs. The shoddy workmanship. The speeded up bit at the end. The tearful reactions. Oh, and I quite like the banter between Alan and the big bloke on Home Front, too. I'm sorry.
I love the new preamble they've introduced, where Robert Kilroy-Silk proves what a dreadful actor he is - two phrases, one with a descending inflection and a frown, the second with an outraged ascending inflection and a hammy look of amazement: "Your husband has left you? For a younger woman??" I love the way his audience is 90% female, all shouting over each other, while the blokes are silent and terrified and obedient. I love Kilroy's ignorant questions, proving he hasn't been listening to what the poor woman has been saying: "And then he left me and I felt awful." "How did you feel?" "I felt awful." "Yes, but tell us how you felt." "I felt awful, just awful."
S Club 7
Not the band members, but the songs. Reach! is a classic. And Don't Stop Moving. Oh, and just about all of their singles really. Light, summery fluff with brilliant hooks.
The Never-Ending Story
The film, not the song [although...]. Makes me cry every time. [And we're talking a lot of times.]
If there's a major tournament on telly, I can watch it all day. It's so exciting. No, really.
Things you'd imagine I would like, but don't:
I don't own any porn; have never owned any porn; have no interest in porn. Oh, I've caught the odd - snatch - generally in places like the Shoreditch Health Club or its Limehouse branch, but only as a means to snaring the real thing. My ex once proudly showed me the film he had bought at great cost - a bunch of German gay men with shaved heads running around the woods, pretending to be soldiers. I thought it was brilliant, the best comedy I'd seen in years.
Taking it up the jacksie
It hurts. And, yes, I have heard the one about "yes, but you've just never met anyone who knows how to do it properly."
It's not. It's tired and lame and cliched and predictable and not as funny as it thinks it is. Not just the latest series either - I always thought it was over-hyped and over-rated.
Fruit and vegetables and going to the gym and generally leading a healthy life
What's that all about, then?
Thursday, March 21, 2002
Posh Spice (Victoria Adams) - Ciao, pop charts! I miss Dave!
Victoria Beckham's autobiography "Learning To Fly" - A hot book by a very thin glamour-fanatic Spice Girl
The Spice Girls - Piglets' riches
David Robert Joseph Beckham - Chart bimbo Posh jerked Dave
Manchester United Footballer David Beckham - Mohican? "Fuck me!", bald-headed introvert bleats
The Eurovision Song Contest - Not-so-secret in-house voting
Britney Spears - Presbyterians
Britney Spears live - Lesbian perversity
Michael Stock, Matthew Aitken and Peter Waterman - Team met, made a packet. (Rich wankers with no talent.)
Kylie Minogue - I like 'em young or You like minge?
Marcus Rosengren - Runs a men's grocer or Can roger USSR men
It seems a lot goes on behind its demure facade - web searches turn up hundreds of references to, and reviews of, prostitutes.
And here's a crossword for taxi drivers.
Wednesday, March 20, 2002
My archives, however, do not please me with their little vanishing trick. Sit! Stay!
Tuesday, March 19, 2002
And I certainly couldn't sit through the contest to pick the Swedish entry. Oh, Marcus tried to force me to watch it, but it was dire. Three women in spangly silver dresses [do you people not remember the horrors of Boney M?] bellowing their lungs out, straining and oversinging a naff disco thing. If you're going to rip off Dr Hook, at least choose Sylvia's Mother, not If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body. And then The Swedish Flatmates played the winning song seven times in a row on Saturday night. Hey, perhaps this explains my mysterious bout of depression?
Eurovision is an irrelevance. I've just taken a quick straw poll in the office:
[Me] Does anyone know where Eurovision is being held this year?
[Colleagues] Um, somewhere in eastern Europe? Croatia?
[Me] Very good. Who won the year before?
[Colleagues] No idea.
[Me] OK, what the last UK entry to win?
[Colleagues] Um, don't know. Bucks Fizz?
[Me] What's our entry this year?
[Colleagues] Don't know. Or care.
[Me] Me neither.
Monday, March 18, 2002
Go look at these happy spiders instead.
Money may not grow on trees, but plastic bags do. This tree, on Shoot Up Hill, near my house, and even nearer the flat of the reigning Rough Trade pop quiz champion, acts as a plastic bag trap. Its branches have snagged at least twenty of the damn things, and looks quite jolly, festooned with brightly-coloured streamers.
No it doesn't - it looks bleak and tatty and urban, and it's a total eyesore.
11th: The attacks change forever the British convention for placing the day before the month in dates.
12th: Washington informs Tony Blair of attack on US.
13th: The immediate aftermath of the attacks generates fear and paranoia across America. Angry shoppers beat up a woman who's put a towel on her head to dry her hair, while people whose faces look like aeroplanes are subject to 24-hour curfew. Citizens for whom this is 'a bad time' include Tiara Ryzst, Tray Njinkampps, Mo Jardine, Moss Lamb, the Twain-Towers family, and Will and Tray d'Senta.
14th: Airlines report no one willing to fly. Bush insists this is a sign of defiance and commissions Hollywood to make films in which being scared to go on an aeroplane is an act of bravery. Filming immediately commences on an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie called Absolute Refusal about a businessman who cannot face boarding a plane but heroically makes a meeting in Cairo by crossing the Atlantic on a pedalo.
16th: Speculation about US retaliation grows. Expert opinion is divided over whether the 'medievalist' regime of Afghanistan should be bombed back to the Stone Age or forward into the twenty-first century. The prevailing Hawk argument runs: 'There's a big stone at the back of the Stone Age and we'll bomb them so hard back into that, they'll bounce all the way forward to 2002.'
19th: The pop singer Michael Jackson is refused permission to lie down and sing songs from his new album into the World Trade Centre rubble.
Saturday, March 16, 2002
And I'm irritable. Apologies are due to Marcus for my sulk of Herculean proportions this morning. And thanks are due to him for virtually carrying my slumped lifeless body home from the Two Brewers last night.
Friday, March 15, 2002
But they loved it! I am so relieved. All that hard work seems worthwhile, even rewarding. It's been a while since I felt a reason to take pride in my work.
Now let's see if the readers, and more importantly the advertisers, like it.
Thursday, March 14, 2002
For some reason, I couldn't help thinking of Dave...
*A well-known snatch of classical music which I can't name, but which is better known to South Africans - thanks to a TV ad - as "you can do many things with bananas".
And then you pull your headphones off and it's a cold grey miserable day at the office.
Wednesday, March 13, 2002
*According to Stats4All. If I go by my Sitemeter stats, then it's considerably lower - guess which I choose to believe?!
1. Name the British soul singer whose current release is "Shoulda Woulda Coulda".
2. Name the grungey band responsible for current single "How You Remind Me".
3. Cartoonish rapper. "Break Ya Neck".
4. The ads for which product contain the following songs: "Space Oddity", "Dance The Night Away" [The Mavericks] and "Who Let The Dogs Out"?
5. Which "Sisters" recorded a song called "Catwoman" off the album "Hormonally Yours"? [And have you noticed it sounds identical to "Spirit In The Sky"? Ripping off Dr And The Medics? That's a new low.]
6. Which "Sisters" recorded "Chattanooga Choo Choo"?
7. Which "Sisters" were responsible for ace soul track "I Believe In Miracles"?
8. The brothers who had a hit way back when with "Bye Bye Love" - are they dead or are they alive?
9, 10, 11. Panpipe versions of songs too awful to linger over here. A bonus point for naming all three acts who took "Unchained Melody" to number one in the UK.
12. Give the first 51 words of Abba's "Thank You For The Music". [It starts: "I'm".]
13, 14, 15. Three songs in honour of the Retro Bar's forthcoming refurbishment. The first was by Boney M and was a cover of a song originally recorded by The Creation. The second was called "Walls Come Tumbling Down" - who was it by? And the third was, well, it was "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones, which everyone knew.
16. A soul legend performing "Bridge Over Troubled Water". She's going to do her first UK concert in decades soon. Who is she?
17. Disco hit that goes "everybody wants you, everybody wants your love, I'd just like to make you mine all night, Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na". Name the band and the song.
18. "Get in, get out of the rain" are lyrics from which hit by which Scottish band?
19. A song about a relative. Lyrics included " it's the heat and the steam of the city". What was the song? And was it by a band or a solo artist?
20. In which year were 17, 18, and 19 all hits?
Tuesday, March 12, 2002
Win a CD! Guess what those three remaining albums could be; the person who is closest will win the album of his/her choice from my top ten. [or, um, something else if it's unavailable]
To help you gauge my tastes, I've listed numbers four to ten below. And here are some albums which nearly made the top ten. One of these acts does feature in the top ten, though not with this album:
Pet Shop Boys: Behaviour (1990), Primal Scream: Screamadelica (1991), Pet Shop Boys: Very (1993), Blur: Parklife (1993), Radiohead: The Bends (1995), Pulp: Different Class (1995), Blur: The Great Escape (1995), Garbage: Garbage (1995), Mogwai: Young Team (1997), Cornershop: When I Was Born For The 7th Time (1997), Future Bible Heroes: Memories Of Love (1998), Faithless: Sunday 8pm (1998), Moby: Play (1999), XTC: Apple Venus Vol 1 (1999), Magnetic Fields: 69 Love Songs (1999).
Yes, I know it's a very 'male' list; a very 'white' list; a very 'bands' list; a very 'look how groovy my record collection is' list. And that trend will continue with the top three. I'm ashamed to say there's no R&B or rap on my list. Sadly, there's no-one black at all. Well, Cornershop are partly Asian, and, um, Faithless have a black member, and, ah, Betty Boo is something exotic, isn't she?
I've deliberately avoided the decade's more celebrated milestone albums. Much as I admire Massive Attack and Tricky and OK Computer, they're too obvious.
One final clue: all three albums can be found on this page.
4. "England Made Me" by Black Box Recorder (1998)
England made me...
...depressed ...bored ...lonely ...creepy ...sadistic ...selfish
...polite ...isolated ...suicidal ...resentful ...numb ...awkward
...sneering ...withdrawn ...flippant ...deceitful ...superior
...heartless ...educated ...masochistic ...desperate ...needy
...listless ...spiteful ...ironic ...cold ...dismal ...snivel ...fearful
...hopeless ...crafty ...closed ...accepting ...drink ...voyeuristic
...secretive ...irresponsible ...guilty ...impotent ...condescending
...suspicious ...miserable ...dispirited ...stooped ...sly ...mean
...bitter ...distant ...despondent ...cautious ...glum ...anxious
...apprehensive ...shy ...shabby ...fraudulent ...self-centred
5. "Titanic Days" by Kirsty MacColl (1993)
In the public's mind - if they ever thought of her at all - Kirsty MacColl was the other funny, fat one on French & Saunders, the other funny, fat one on Buzzcocks, or that funny, fat bird who sang that song about Elvis working a chip shop. And she certainly could be very funny:
"I've been the token woman all my life, the token daughter and the token wife. Now, I collected tokens one by one till I saved enough to buy a gun."
Funny, yes, but angry, too. The early 90s were not a good time for Kirsty. The hits, such as they were, had dried up. Her marriage had failed, she had come out of an abusive relationship. She was tired of being bubbly and chirpy. She was lonely, needing to be loved.
The opening lines are: "I want to shake up this world, and not to feel so useless. And I long to wake up happy and not to feel so hopeless." The album ends: "Let us part in the rain, so the clouds hide the despair and sorrow I feel on the inside."
Kirsty hid her sorrow well. She suffered from stage fright, yet was always seemingly relaxed and comfortable when performing live. Like all Kirsty MacColl records - like her jolly exterior - "Titanic Days" is packed with sprightly tunes, the guitars chime merrily, the drums shuffle, the strings soar. But this is the tip of the iceberg - the lyrics tell the real story.
"An empty bench in Soho Square, if you'd have come you'd have found me there. But you never did cos you don't care."
It is about coming to terms with depression, admitting the loneliness. It is about empowerment, dealing with problems.
"One day I just woke up, I opened my eyes, opened the door, took a walk outside. And I realised that what I saw was there before. But I opened my eyes when I opened the door, I just woke up."
The sad thing is that this album went unnoticed. There were no hits, and it was her last new album of the 90s. But Kirsty did find love, and a purpose. She spent the last few years of her life in a happy relationship. She spent a lot of time in Latin America, helping the Cuban Solidarity Campaign. She returned in 2000 with Tropical Brainstorm, which sold well, and was a critical success. Kirsty died last year, while on holiday with her family in Cuba. She is sorely missed.
6. "Orbital" by Orbital (1991)
This 'writing about music' lark - it's a doddle, innit? Just quote a few lyrics and say something fascinating about the band. But this is Orbital - there are no lyrics and as for the Hartnoll brothers, well, um, they like Dr Who. This album was released in 1991, but I certainly didn't buy it back then. I didn't buy into dance music at all. I lumped it all together - all that Snap, Black Box, Technotronic, 2Unlimited rubbish. Just as I had defiantly worn a "Disco Sucks" badge as a kid, so I resented this strange new music. House? Not in my house, mate. Orbital were named for the late 80s illegal raves off the M25, when I was more likely to be found holed up in my bedroom listening to some whining pale-faced, gelled misery.
My dance road to Damascus was a long bleak pedestrian tunnel at Bank Underground station, transformed into an exotic mysterious post-industrial landscape simply by adding Orbital on the Discman. I discovered that techno made great music to work to, if your work consists of pecking away at a computer keyboard. Orbital are the Mavis Beacon of pop - my keystrokes become more precise, more accurate, more rhythmic. Apart from the bits where I need to wave my hands in the air, of course. The music is, after all, constructed in this fashion, laboriously, painstakingly, at a computer terminal.
There are people who will tell you that Orbital's second album - confusingly also named "Orbital", but usually referred to as 'the brown one' - is their best album. These people are wrong. Orbital have never made a bad album, but they have never bettered their first, aka 'the yellow [or green] one'. It's got more tunes, more beats, and fewer silly spoken-word samples. There are moments of exquisite beauty - the motif that floats in ten-and-a-half minutes into "Desert Storm", and bits that rip the top of your head off - "High Rise" uses a shuddering elevator door as a rhythmic device, and a keyboard riff that gets higher and higher and higher, teasing out that rush, till your brain just can't take it any more. There's the machine that goes ping, the thing that goes bump in the night, and the constant ta-pocketa-ta-pocketa.
Then there's the album's stunning closing threesome - "Chime" and "Midnight" ['live', whatever that means for a techno band] - and "Belfast" which ranks alongside the Art Of Noise's "Moments In Love" and FSOL's "Papua New Guinea" as techno's most beautiful, fully-realised modern-day symphonies.
Orbital are perennial festival favourites. But the best way to listen to this music is on your own, hands flying over your keyboard; or on your Discman, soundtracking your morning commute.
8. "Until The End Of The World" Original Soundtrack (1991)
To anyone who suggests that my doing a 'favourite albums' list - and a wilfully obscure one at that - was a ploy to get New York London Paris Munich to link to me, I say "how perspicacious of you". It worked, too. Thanks Tom. However, the fact that today's album contains many search-engine favourites is not another ploy, honest.
By the early 90s, the soundtrack album had been devalued after a decade of big-haired rockers belting out power ballads which had nothing to do with the film. "Until The End Of The World", however, is a case of the soundtrack being far better than the film. Wenders personally selected the acts - Depeche Mode, U2, REM, Nick Cave, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Can, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, Neneh Cherry, Jane Siberry and kd lang - and gave them a mission: to make the type of music they thought they would be making in the year 1999.
1999, remember, was Nostradamus year, the year the world was supposed to end. And the year the nuclear-powered satellite in Wenders' film is due to fall to the earth. Most of the acts Wenders approached reacted appropriately, producing an amazingly cohesive album of downbeat, bleak music.
I listened to this album compulsively during the Gulf War, and hearing it now brings back that sense of coming dread. REM's most beautiful song "Fretless" recalls the CNN footage of the conflict. I can see my black-and-white portable, the sound down, the deadly beauty of tracer trails by night accompanying Elvis Costello's harrowing cover of the Kinks' "Days".
The album works best in the background, as you're reading the paper, picking up random snatches of mumbled lyric and whispered litany: "Sometimes you can't tell whether you're waking up, or going to sleep, spiralling, un-numbered streets". "What good's a war without killing? What good's a disease that won't hurt you?" "Don't talk to me about being alone." "Santa Maria, Santa Theresa, Santa Cecilia, Santa Dominica".
It's ironic that the soundtrack - the product of so many creative minds - is a focused cohesive whole, while the film - the vision of one man - is a rambling, confusing three-hour mess (and, God forbid, there is a five-hour director's cut in existence). If you haven't seen the film, don't bother, but if you haven't got the soundtrack, buy it.
7. "Casanova" by the Divine Comedy (1996)
Are you all settled in? Right, we can begin. After GCSEs, A-levels, university, after your first badly-paid job in advertising.
Pale, pubescent beasts roam through the streets. While they search for a mate, my type hibernate in bedrooms above. Elegance against ignorance. Difference against indifference. Wit against shit.
But something in his heart told him to come clean - he was not who he claimed to be. A fake. Sure, but a real fake. Once there was a time when my mind lay on higher things. But now, well now I find it saves time to say what you mean. I know it seems so unrefined, but it's time to let off some steam. Now I'm resigned to the kind of life I'd reserved for other guys less smart than I - you know, the kind who end up with the girls.
I fall in love with someone new practically every day. But that's OK. It's just the price I pay for being a man. If that's really what I am. The Casanova in your dreams. On the make, making up for lost time. In and out in Paris and London. Naked bodies twist and turn on the futon of dreams fulfilled. Way-hey! Let the games begin. Oh come on, you know you want to. This is not a sin - it's not even original. You don't really love me, and I don't really mind. I don't love anybody, that stuff is just a waste of time. Your place or mine? I come and go through people's love lives. Your place or mine? Your place or mine?
Bang! Bang! Bang! All night.
Then the fall from grace. The lines upon your face grow deeper almost everyday. Slide right back down that self-confident path you've just so laboriously climbed. It's four o'clock and all's not well in my private circle of hell. This rut has fast become a trench. This smell has turned into the stench of rotten dreams and stale ideals. The past is snapping at my heels. Pickle your liver and addle your brain. I know you'll be the death of me, but what a cool death that would be. Casanova? In your dreams.
The casualties of casual sex.
10. "Cardinal" by Cardinal (1994)
Before the New Acoustic Movement there was Cardinal - a one-off collaboration between Australian songwriter Richard Davies and American classically-trained trumpeter Eric Matthews. Think acoustic guitar, whispered vocals and tight harmonies. Summery pop, but under a weak, pale sun. It's like lazing on a sunny afternoon in the wintertime.
If that was all there was to "Cardinal", it would be a lovely - if unremarkable - album. But that would be without reckoning on the complex and - frankly jarring - baroque trumpet and harpsichord arrangements. The effect is simultaneously soothing and unnerving, like a faulty radio which keeps switching abruptly between Capital Gold and Classic FM.
Take opening track "If You Believe In Christmas Trees" - a lovely, gentle pop song, all whispered confessions. The first slightly odd thing you notice is his pronunciation of the word 'frighten': "I don't know what I've done, to frighken everyone". And then suddenly, out of nowhere, ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-bah - a fucking glorious trumpet voluntary. Cardinal's nearest antecedent in terms of the mix of psychedelic pop with unusual orchestral arrangements was probably Love's "Forever Changes", but on the Cardinal album, the arrangements are more unexpected, more jarring, and more accomplished. All Music Guide classifies it as chamber pop.
Davies' lyrics range from the enigmatic "If you knew where I'd just been, you'd notify my next of kin", to the totally bizarre "Gee, Kennedy got kicked in the ass a couple of times for his impersonation of a crow". There are many references to seasons, especially winter: "I feel a polar January sun between March and I".
It's the perfect album for this time of year, still in the grips of winter's misery, but daring now to look forward to sunny days. The whole thing is incredibly fragile. I listened to it on repeat three times this Saturday, singing along with every word, trying out new harmonies, yet somehow not realising it existed at all. I should warn you, though - it's not an easy album. The thought of pale, over-edcuated white college boys playing sonic alchemists is not a pretty one. But I love the result.
9. "Grrr!" by Betty Boo (1992)
From the sublime to the sublimely ridiculous. In case you hadn’t realised, I should point out that this list is not meant to be the definitive list of the most important albums of the 90s, just my favourites of the decade.
Betty Boo was the original Spice Girl. She invented Girl Power. I imagine Simon Fuller listened to “Grrr!” and came up with the idea of a group of girls who, like, are really good friends who look out for each other. On “Skin Tight”, Betty says: “Never wait for my girls, they’re never late. Reliable, desirable, we’re all good mates. There’s no place for girls off their face, to get with us you must have our tastes.” Which is just another way of saying “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.” The CD booklet shows Betty dressed in a range of outfits: posh in little black number, scary in tiger print, sporty in track suit, babyish cuddling a teddy. But definitely no ginger.
Opening track “I’m On My Way” fabulously incorporates the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna”, resulting in an unlikely writing credit: "Written by Boo/Coxon/Lennon/McCartney". No matter how foul a mood you may be in, one listen to “Thing Goin’ On” will have you grinning from ear to ear, containing as it does, the silliest noise known to man - the decoy duck call. “Catch Me” is identikit Pet Shop Boys - and catchy as hell, while “I Wish You Were Here” bubbles away what sounds like a swamp chorus of synthesised tree frogs. The standout track for me is "Skin Tight" - ska on steroids - a 140bpm stomper that will have you dancing round in your undies. Or maybe that's just me.
Betty Boo - Alison Clarkson to her mum - was 18 when "Grrr!" was released, and her raps concern themselves with the obsessions of teenaged girls - clothes, friends, hair, and boys. They are childish, silly and great fun - "Yummy yummy, my tummy goes all funny". Like all teenagers, Betty knows what's right: "Yes it is a must for us you take no drugs, no nicotine fiends cos your grave is dug, ashes to ashes and dust to dust”.
Betty's career came to a dismal end when it was revealed she was miming as she dropped the mike at a "live" performance. Nowadays she writes songs for Girl Thing and Louise. Oh, and Hear'Say. Yes, "Pure And Simple" was co-written by Betty Boo. And don't even mention The Tweenies.
Someone set us up the gay blog UK bomb!
Monday, March 11, 2002
The name 'David' gradually lost its popularity, from number one in 1960, to two in 1970, four in 1980, and five in 1990. Since then it has plummeted - it was 39 in 1998, 41 in 1999, 43 in 2000, and a humble 46 in 2001. My name is now one of those names by which you can date people - like Albert or Herbert. It's become the name of your mum's brother, or your great uncle.
The trend nowadays is to give babies good, solid, traditional names - the current top ten reads like the signatories of the Declaration of Independence: Jack, Thomas, Joshua, James, Daniel, Harry, Samuel, Joseph, Matthew, Lewis.
Saturday, March 09, 2002
Friday, March 08, 2002
Like trainspotters, like CB radio enthusiasts, bootleggers are boys who never grew up. They are true kids of the 80s, mixing current pop tunes with songs from their youth - not just classic 80s pop, but the Grange Hill and Sesame Street theme tunes, Watership Down. I was surprised there were no references to Stars On 45 and Jive Bunny.
We stayed for a couple of hours, but there's only so much Eminem and Missy - and three-quid teeny tiny bottles of beer - you can take, so we fled to Barcode. But not before grabbing one of the records Osymyso flung into the crowd. Well, when someone thrusts ten inches in your face, it'd be rude to refuse, no? Bibblescronch.
Thursday, March 07, 2002
Today, the word biography was added to two of the searches. Could it be that Neil's niece writing the life story of her funny uncle?
Last year, I walked east to west, from Canning Town to Chiswick. This year, perhaps, I should go north to south. I haven't decided on a route yet.
My first thought was that it might be quite fun to follow an Underground line, above ground. I could follow the Northern Line, from Edgware to Morden, passing through Hampstead, Camden, the west end, down to Kennington, Clapham, Wimbledon. That doesn't exactly fill me with enthusiasm, though, as I know these areas well, and the last part is deathly dull [apologies to the residents of Tooting].
The Victoria Line may be more intriguing - Walthamstow, Tottenham, King's Cross, Vauxhall, Brixton. This passes through areas of vastly different ethnicities - Asian, orthodox Jewish, Caribbean - and socio-economic scales. Again, though, I am too familiar with the latter half of the route.
I suppose I need to avoid central London, taking a route north to south in east London, or west. Or west to east across the top or bottom of London.
Can you suggest a route, of about fifteen miles, which:
(a) takes me from one end of London to the other
(b) avoids central London
(c) goes through some groovy, or dilapidated, or historical areas
I am not drinking much more liquid than usual [yes, I know you're meant to when you ahve a cold, but I'm busy, OK?] yet I keep having to rush off to the loo every hour.
On a related note, can anyone explain to me why I can usually go out, spend all night in a bar knocking back pint after pint of beer, yet not have to go for a pee?
One possible explanation for my current 'overflow' has occurred to me. Alcohol dehydrates you, right? When I'm ill, I don't drink. Ergo no dehydration, meaning lots of urine produced? Ooh, 'scuse me, need to go...
Wednesday, March 06, 2002
When I first arrived over here from the UK, the pound was so inflated and the rand so devalued, that simply multiplying by the rate of exchange gave meaningless results.
I needed some basic universal measure that I could make sense of and I discovered it when I went into a pub and ordered my first pint. "Two pounds? That's.. [times by eleven] that's twenty-two rand. Jesus, I could get [divide by three] over seven pints for that back in SA."
Every time I bought anything, I'd work out how many pints it's worth. For instance, a new CD cost 15 pound. Times that by eleven and you get a ridiculous 165 rand. Back home they were just 70 rand. Ah, but tell me it's seven pints, and that suddenly made sense. "So I could have a meal in this restaurant or have ten pints." "I could pay my rent, or have two-hundred pints." [No competition, really.]
I am sure I'm not the only person who thinks this way. Meg uses Diet Coke as her currency. Perhaps it's a family thing:
I have just got off the phone to my younger brother, who is flying out to South Africa next week. "It's sixteen rand to the pound," he exclaimed. "A pint over there costs six rand now, so that's, like, 40p. For one pint at UK prices, I can get six over there!"
The currency is not the pound, it's the pint.
Simon Fuller, worrying that S Club 7 are perhaps growing a little old for their prepubescent target market, has launched S Club Juniors - eight precocious all-singing all-dancing kids aged between 11 and 14. I can't wait for their drugs bust.
The good news for Mr Fuller is that it seems to be working - one of his intended demographics loves the single. Just look at all the happy, innocent smiling faces light up when One Step Closer is played at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern on Sundays.
I have a fear of dentists. Of course, no-one likes going to the dentist, but I am absolutely petrified. If I feel a small cavity developing, or a niggling pain, I ignore it and ignore it until it becomes a huge hole, a throbbing ache, then I ignore it and ignore it some more till I am banging my head on the wall and screaming in agony. Then I ignore it some more.
This tactic is, of course, stupid. It led to my having to have two root canals a few years ago. Trust me, you don't want to go through that process. It involved several trips to the dentist over a period of weeks. He opened the tooth up, removed all the foul-smelling infected pulp, pulled out the roots, enlarged the root canals. He drilled and drilled and drilled. I swear I am not telling a lie when I say I figure he must have drilled up past my nose and into my eye sockets. Oh, I tell you, just thinking about it is bringing me out in a cold sweat.
I swore after that that I'd never put myself through all that again. I promised I'd start paying regular visits to the dentist. Did I? Did I hell.
Every time I've been to a dentist, he has examined the X-rays, tutted, and said, "those wisdom teeth are badly impacted - they're growing sideways. They're going to have to come out some time, you know." I've left them and left them, till now they are exerting pressure on my other teeth.
My bottom teeth are particularly bad. I took a look at them in the mirror the other morning and - seemingly overnight - the one in the middle is leaning forward at an angle, trying to avoid the others crowding in behind it. Hang on, did I say "the one in the middle"? That can't be right, but - yes - there it is, a tooth where there should be a gap. Some mornings they all feel loose, too.
The Americans, of course, don't have these problems. Thanks to spending their teenage years in sadistic oral contraptions, they all have super-white, super-straight shiny pearly whites. I have English teeth, and they're rapidly turning into old people's teeth. Kids, listen to your elders! Go to the dentist! Now!
Tuesday, March 05, 2002
Monday, March 04, 2002
I was under the impression that a Cornish pasty traditionally contains small cubes of beef, with potato, onion and turnip or carrot.
Surely it shouldn't simply contain glutinous mashed potato vaguely coloured with tiny shreds of mystery meat? Does the pastry really have to be so thick and stodgy that it takes three bites to reach the wallpaper paste filling? And is it absolutely necessary for the customer to specifically request that it be warmed up? Oh, and finally, when you do warm it up, are you sure it is traditional to serve it warm on the outside, and ice cold inside?
Thursday: Dalston Jazz Bar. Sarah had told us to expect the evening to be low-fi, non-scene, non-poncey and groovy, and it was all of these things. Low-rent, too - it is hard to tell if the venue is half-constructed or half-demolished. All those hard reflective surfaces - the bare concrete ceiling and basic steel-framed windows - do not lead to comfortable acoustics. A pretty convivial place, but chatting to more than one person at a time requires too much shouting over the music. We stayed till after midnight and then ran around the mean streets of deepest darkest Dalston trying to find a mini-cab office that wasn't barricaded. No visit to the area could be complete without a trip to the Spiral. Unfortunately...
Friday: We had friends round for dinner. Marcus cooked, the wine flowed, the vodka shots came out...
Saturday: We had been invited to dinner in Croydon. Ten minutes before the train was due to arrive, I suddenly realised I didn't have a ticket, so went sprinting down into the station. When I arrived back on the platform, a train was there, and Marcus and Janne were holding the door open for me. "Are you sure this is the right train," I panted. They assured me it was. It wasn't. Oh no, it was the train to Margate. The express train to Margate. First stop: Tonbridge in Kent. Ninety minutes after we set out, we were arriving back at London Bridge to start again. We finally made it and had a lovely dinner with Katarina and Martin, whose wedding I'll be going to this summer, in Stockholm, hurrah! From there it was a train and tube to Brixton and Queer Nation...
Sunday: Why, the RVT, of course. Good to see my ex, Pano, utterly loving the place - the show, the music, the atmosphere. And another regular is born...
Take Patrick Lilley, the promoter of Queer Nation, for example. A canny sort with an eye for new avenues of promotion, he has offered to put all gay bloggers on the guest list for a month. Now, I have always been a fan of Queer Nation, and don't need much of an incentive to rave about the place. The music is slightly funkier than elsewhere, the crowd slightly more racially mixed, the atmosphere noticeably more "up". Marcus, Ian, Jonathan and I had a fantastic night there this Saturday dancing till the early hours. Thank you, Patrick.
We saw another example of clubland generosity yesterday at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Last week Andy from Almighty played their delightfully tacky cover of Will Young's Evergreen. Marcus chatted to Andy afterwards, and Andy promised him he'd give him a copy of it the following week. I, frankly, didn't expect him to remember, but he did. Thank you, Andy. You'll be glad to hear that you had me and Marcus dancing on the bed in our socks and undies. Twice.