Sunday, October 30, 2005

Back To Basics

Spent a quietly pleasant evening in the Retro Bar last night, where Ian was making his debut as a DJ one their "Back To Basics" Saturday evening. Not sure why it's called that, when it just seems to be another way of saying "we have a DJ playing music from 8-11pm" just like they have for the past x number of years. Anyway, Ian played his usual dependably good set, made even better by the fact that I choose a few tracks, particularly towards the end, a bit like putting a dash of mustard into a rich cheese sauce to give that extra bit of zing :) And it was also nice and relaxing spending the evening sitting comforatably in a chair (and the posh one that looks like a throne at that) rather than standing and/or jumping about at Duckie. So much more gentle on these old bones.

I can't believe how warm it is at the moment though. Not just mild, but freakish. When I got home last night it was 18C - almost unheard of for a midnight in late October. And when I went out this lunchtime it had gone up to an early-summerish 20C. Apparently we are 66% likely to have a colder-than-average winter this year. Not sure where it is at the moment though.

I can't believe Norwich lost AGAIN.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bizarre !

God know what I ate yesterday, but I didn't 'alf have a weird dream last night. You see, dear reader, I dreamt that Max & Paddy's Road To Nowhere was happening for real right outside my bedroom window. Now, given said window is two floors up, I have no idea how they - let alone their motorhome - got up there. But I guess the beauty of dreams is that such minor details do not need to be explained or contemplated. Sadly, it was not a re-enactment of Episode 1, which featured Patrick McGuinness aka Paddy walking around naked for a bit. Oh well.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Simon Hobart, RIP

So Simon Hobart, the man behind Popstarz and several other ventures for queers into guitars has – far too soon – gone off to that big nightclub in the sky. I have to admit, I don't feel as personally touched or have that same sense of loss as so many others who are more interested in the gay alternative scene (ie as opposed to hard thumping house & techno, or cheesy camp pop).

The man obviously filled a much needed hole in the market and gave thousands of queers hitherto marginalised by the mainstream and narrow gay scene a place to call home, and he will rightly always be remembered for that. Yet to me, there’s always been something a bit 'safe' about Popstarz, something that doen't sit too well with me. I always preferred the now-defunct Club V (which started life as Vaseline, until the makers of said product threatened to sue); it was a much more underground and smaller club, had a small but loyal group of punters and used to take real risks with the music, playing stuff you’d often get the impression you'd never here elsewhere. And they even let me do a few guest DJ slots – if that's not risky I don't know what is!

So, Club V was "my thing", it fitted my definition of 'alternative' much better than Popstarz generally did. Having said that, whilst I personally might get bored or cross with an endless diet of Pulp, Goldfrapp & Blur, at the end of the day Popstarz has put a smile on the face of a far greater number of people and I guess that’s what really matters. And from all the messages of shock, grief and condolence I have seen on various websites since, he was obviously much loved & admired by people far and wide, not just in London. You certainly have to be exceptional in some way to touch so many people.

It also seems like he died from a fall at home. How many times have you, I or anyone been in a bit of hurry and ran down those stairs without taking as much care as we should? Or done something else without thinking properly and potentially putting ourselves in a type of danger which seems to have such miniscule odds of happening we don't even think of it as a danger? Time for us all to stop for a moment and consider just how easily and unexpectedly life can be snuffed out.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Cheesed Off

I think I may be in danger of cholestrol overload, given all the cheese consumed yesterday. Firstly I had a cheese sandwich at lunchtime, then in the evening some posh Sainbury's risotto thingy which contained gorgonzola. Finally, and much to my surprise, when I entered Duckie later on Amy was hosting a mini cheese and wine party around the centre table. The woman's ingenuity knows no bounds! And so I spent quite a lot of the first part of the night helping myself to all the delights on offer, or at least until Amy started looking at me funny.

Two acts last night, the first was a rather dapper gentleman in top hat and tails by the name of Paul L Martin who poshly sang us some songs such as the Eurythmics' Love Is A Stranger and Annoying Morrisette's Jagged Little Pill in a very genteel manner, before putting a scarf on his head and turning briefly into what I can only describe as a "Victoria Wood Northern Cleaning Lady" character to reel off a slightly amended version of Candle In The Wind (and not amended in the way Elton did for Diana, either). It was all very entertaining, over far too soon and also set the main act an impossible task to follow. I'm not going to say too much about them, except that well, we were all 19 once.

And later on, some overenthusiastically-dancing idiot jumped on the side of my foot and got a piece of my mind for the privilege. I think I made him feel sufficiently guilty (at least for a few minutes anyway). I am rather disappointed this morning that, whilst I do have some semblance of a bruise there, it is nowhere near as dramatic nor heel-shaped as I was hoping. Oh well, time for some more cheese.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Week That Was

So, I haven't posted anything for a whole week. I'll feel like I'm repeating myself if I report on how we didn't win the quiz yet again, and there's no way I can be bothered to tell you all about the surprisingly fun, productive & successful all-day team bonding sesson with lunch included yesterday, or the fact that I managed to get through a whole bottle of wine by myself in the pub afterwards. So I'll just button it.

(P.S. "By myself" only means that no-one else shared any of my wine, not that I was getting drunk in the pub alone like some dysfunctional no-life. The rest of them were all being predictably heterosexual and having lager.)

Friday, October 14, 2005

That Friday Feeling

It is now 5pm on Friday, so I guess that means my week off has now come to an end. Today was rather unsatisfactory; this morning I had a plumber round as some of my water pipes have been getting quiet noisy lately. He said there was nothing to worry about and was also far too unattractive to make any tiresome innuendos about. This afternoon I attempted to go to the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, only to find on arrival that it is now closed until 2007!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Load Of Old Boxes

Today I have been to the Tate Modern to see the new sculpture by Rachel Whiteread entitled "Embankment" which I've seen on the local news a few times recently. The process for constructing the sculpture seems to be thus: take an old cardboard box, fill with plaster, remove box when plaster set, cover in translucent polyethylene. Then repeat literally thousands of times. The result can be seen in the accompanying photo: lots of these white boxes piled up in various ways; some in nice neat piles, some in almost neat piles, some seemingly completely at random and often somewhat precariously, making you worry that if you tread too heavily around them, the whole thing just might come crashing down on you.

I'm not sure what it's all meant to represent, there was a notice on the wall and leaflets to take which gave all the usual arty-farty bollocks about this and that which I can never really be bothered to read properly or take in. But pretentious explanations aside, it was still visually stunning and fun to walk around. Not quite a maze, but there were lots of paths and short cuts and nooks and crannies to explore and walk through as you made your way through the exhibit, and then as with all exhibits in the Turbine Hall, you can go up the next floor and look down on it from a balcony. This really brings home just how much time, effort and patience must have gone into it. I often find with large pieces of art that rather than merely taking in the spectacle and/or trying to make some sense of it, I wonder more about the logistics of producing something that size, ie how it was planned, how long it took, how it was transported to the gallery and set up for public display...not to mention what will happen to it when its time at the gallery is up. Perhaps not quite the response that the artist was hoping for !

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mean Streets And Back Rubs

My week off continues to be evenful; this morning I was awoken at 4.40am by a high-speed police chase going past my flat. Or at least as high a speed as can be safely attempted on our winding back streets with parked cars on both sides. Firstly I heard the screeching & revving of the getaway vehicle (motorbike, presumably) going past at probably too fast a speed (well, you have to be quick if you want to escape, don't you?), followed by the sound of the sirens of 2 police cars and a van. By now I had managed to stagger to the window to watch them go past, the presumed bike now well away up front. And that was that. But still rather exciting for this area, I think I can cope with that sort of thing if it only happens once in ten years.

So after all that excitement I obviously needed a bit of relaxation. And after months of walking past on occasion and promising I'd treat myself one day, I finally had one of those walk-in back rubs upstairs at Selfridges. The masseur looked like the sort of bloke who wouldn't be able to punch his way out of a paper bag, but he could certainly press, push and pummel with the best of them. Because I went for the half-hour Full Monty back rub, I also got my arms seen to - not sure why but he seemed to know what he was doing (as one would hope). A great way of spending half an hour, even if I did end up with a line across my forehead where it had pressed into the headrest.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Lotus Eating

Today is the start of my week off work, so I decided to use all my free time wisely by having a long lie-in this morning, finally rising at 9am which is 3 hours later than on my normal Monday morning. Then pottered around for a bit, put some laundry in the washing machine before crawling back to bed for a lie-down at 10.30 after the strain of being up for a whole 90 minutes got too much for me. I have however been forced to rise again as it is now lunchtime and this afternoon I intend to drag myself to the gym to see if I can wake up properly. I am trying to come up with a plan so I can live like this for always rather than just this week, with little success so far.

Scored 52/70 in the BBC's latest Test The Nation quiz, the theme of which is "Know Your English". This is reasonably above the national average which seems to be about 43 from looking at the full results analysis.

Friday, October 07, 2005

More Mistaken Identity

After the other week's embarrassment of thinking Elvis Presley was Johnny Cash, I didn't think I could come up with any better completely-off-the-mark quiz answers....until this week that is. David T who was spinnng the CDs for this week's quiz, played a cover of a Beach Boys track and for some reason I got it into my head that it was Kermit The Frog. You see, the voice sounded not dissimilar to that "Halfway down the stairs is the stair where I sit" song. (Except that further research has uncovered that that particular track was actually warbled by Kermit's nephew, Robin - so even my wrong answer was wrong, if you see what I mean). Luckily Ian was there this week and able to provide the correct answer. I'm not sure Brian Wilson would appreciate being thought of as similar to a green puppet.

I don't like Kate Bush's new single, and neither does the gay homosexualist in my office who, like many other devoted Kate fans, has been looking forward to it for 12 years. Oh well.

However, in this week's good news, my Nighty Night Series 1 DVD has arrived from Amazon, and I've got all of next week off work. Hurrah!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Things That Go Bump

Spending the weekend mostly at home recovering from my cold has given me the time to watch the last couple of episodes from my box set of DVDs of the complete series of The Omega Factor. “What???” I hear you all cry in unison. Not surprising, this seems to be a sadly largely-forgotten BBC drama from 1979 about the paranormal and mind-control, with a hefty dose of conspiracy theory, cover-ups and dodgy government departments added for good measure.

Starring amongst others, Louise Jameson (in what was her first TV role since leaving Dr Who where she had played the character of Leela for a few years), this is a creepy and chilling series. Set in Edinburgh (though this is actually not necessary or central to the plot), it makes good use of the city’s historic architecture in combination with storylines involving such things as witchcraft, brainwashing, possession, psychokinesis and thought-control to often send more than a mere shiver down your spine.

The only slightly disappointing thing was how it sort of peters out towards the end, when it’s becoming clear what’s been going on all along; the final resolutions are a bit lame and predictable but this should not detract from what is generally an excellent series and a true forgotten gem. Much recommended, so go out and buy it today!