Tuesday, April 30, 2002

...or even Tuesday. And a good 'un indeed it was.

Kelvin, Phil and Nigel came round to join Greg, Kirsty and myself for a suitably riotous dinner and send-off for our resident blonde Scottish bombshell (Kirsty, that is, not Greg - that experiment was mercifully short-lived...)

She's off in search of a promised land where eligible bachelors line the streets, exquisite hostelries abound with delights, and chardonnay springs anew at every corner. The elders tell of this mythical place; they call it 'Clapham', and it is said to have seduced many a young professional female throughout the ages. She will be hugely missed though - it's not everyone can join you in drunken Kylie-thons, outdo you in the love-life drama/disaster stakes on a daily basis, bat nary an eyelid when your friends discuss their evening classes in advanced bondage, and carry off a zebra-print coat with such aplomb (and so little underwear).

To Bar Code for drinks, and onwards to Crash, down in Vauxhall. Of much amusement on the way: the dreadlocked Rastafarian busker on the tube playing not Bob Marley or the like, but Will Young's 'Evergeen', reggae-style. Is there no end to Simon Fuller's promotional ploys?

Crash, as ever, proved to be excellent. Packed, plenty of atmosphere, wall to wall pneumatic pectorals (for those who like that sort of thing, can't understand it myself...) and exceptionally good bouncy, chunky house on the main floor from Steve Pitron, who I must make an effort to catch in future. Very Crash, and very, very good indeed.

We, on the other hand, were a bit rubbish - somehow unable to really get into the swing of it for long despite considerable assistance, and eventually heading for an 'early' night instead about 4am. Odd, but not a complete loss, and it was worth getting some sleep before...

...David's surprise birthday party, expertly hosted (and impressively kept secret) by Marcus, at his place on Sunday afternoon. Much beer, much jollity, good to see familiar faces including Ian and Jonathan, and it was great to meet Scally and Mike, the troubled diva himself, at last!

From there it was up the road to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, for one of Dame Edna's finest shows in many a week, and indeed a spectacularly good night all round. Whatever was missing from Saturday night was certainly there on Sunday by the bucketload (or should that be glassful?) - a truly fantastic night, which no doubt you'll read more about elsewhere. Kelvin and I found ourselves dancing and chatting with a very affable chap by the name of Ggreg, who's given up his life as a San Francisco club persona to set up home here in little ol' London. Interesting guy, interesting website.

And finally, many vodkas, much dancing and several hours later, home to bed. Indeed, a good weekend.

Friday, April 26, 2002

Apologies if you do live in the country and happen to like it, by the way. No offence intended to you freaks, honest. But please try and stop doing that with your cousin, it isn't nice.

Anyway, have now cheered up, the end of a less-than-fabulous week is in sight, and I have a good feeling about this weekend. It's going to be a good 'un. Oh yes. Full reports when I regain consciousness sometime around Wednesday.

Have good weekends, people!

You see what happens when I get no sleep.

Friday Rant #3:

And another thing. I was back up in Gloucestershire recently for family reasons, and why is it that everyone, but everyone, feels they have carte blanche to run down London, the place you have chosen to live, to your face? And this, despite the fact that they have never been there apart from on a coach trip sometime in the early eighties to see Cats because 'that nice Elaine Paige is in it, you know, off the Two Ronnies.'

It's all: "Well, I suppose you must like it but I couldn't bear to live there. All that noise! And it's so crowded, and smelly, and expensive, and the pollution and all that traffic - I don't know how you can stand it.'

Well just hang on a minute. Yes, it's crowded - that's because people actually want to live here. And the Tube might smell a bit occasionally but out in the countryside everywhere fucking smells. You can't go five yards without your senses being assassinated by Eau de Cowshit, or silage, or worse. Do you actually like that smell? And yes, you might have all this green space around you, but you can't actually go in any of it without fear of being shot by some over-zealous landowner. And how can you bear to be trapped in those narrow-minded little villages where the entire place shuts at 5pm and everyone knows everyone else's business, except that everyone's business is so catatonically dull it's of absolutely no interest to anyone, but that won't stop you regurgitating it endlessly because there is absolutely fucking nothing else to do. Add to that the fact that you haven't had a decent night out in years, because even if there were anywhere to go other than some god-forsaken family 'theme pub', you couldn't drink, because you'd have to drive there, because there is no fucking public transport whatsoever, and...and...arrggghhh!!!

Do you get the feeling I was brought up in a village and didn't really like it?

Friday Rant #2:

I can't find the original feature, but I'd like to lend my all-too-rapidly-increasing weight to Rainbow Network's bid to stop people - gay men, specifically - wearing those fucking ridiculous three-quarter length trousers. The first sign of summer and out they come - Soho is positively awash with them.

As I think they said: not only do they scream 'screaming queen' at ear-shattering volume, but there is nothing, whatsoever, even remotely sexy about catching a glimpse of someone's hairy ankle. They're the skinniest, most unattractive bit of even the beefiest of boys. So please, put them away. Get some proper shorts or stick with long trousers, but put them away. I thank you.

Which reminds me of this - old, but still entirely valid:

Friday Rant #1:

So there I am, in bed nice and early last night, looking forward to a good night's sleep from which I'll wake refreshed, happy, and ready to hit the gym in a big way. But that was before my downstairs neighbour decided to have a very loud party, which started, started, at half-past fucking three this morning. Who has parties at 3.30am on a Thursday night, for fuck's sake?

And not just loud music (mostly atrocious seventies rock before degenerating even further into Phil Collins) but there was obviously some kind of band set up, such that at least two people decided they had to maintain their fuckwit conversation/argument through the fucking microphones, thus amplifying it for the benefit of the entire fucking street. Not being particularly in the mood to go down and confront an entire party of beered-up, argumentative strangers, I try the time-honoured old-person approach of banging on the floor repeatedly in what I hope is a suitably guilt-inducing and menacing manner.

Half an hour later, it's clear that this is having no effect whatsoever. In desperation I dig out the industrial ear plugs I once acquired on a visit to an aluminium factory (don't ask..). Trouble is, while their sound-blocking properties are pretty good, they are so uncomfortable as to render sleep entirely impossible. Back to the banging.

Sometime around 5am though there must have been a lull, because I finally drifted back off to peaceful, blissful sleep.

Only to be blasted awake again at 6am by Paul Young and the entire fucking 'No Parlez' album at thirty thousand fucking decibels. ARRRGGGHHH!!! By this point I have moved from wondering if it's possible to call the electricity company and have their power cut off, to plotting my neighbour's death in a number of creative and sadistic ways. And of course, by the time they finally, finally shut the fuck up at about 7.45, it's time to get up anyway. Gah.

Still, I shall have my revenge. Tonight, when they will no doubt be tired and desperate for sleep after last night's excesses, I shall put my speakers to the floor, turn the volume up loud, and put the Vengaboys' 'Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!' on endless repeat. And then go out until Sunday.

They'll be institutionalised by Saturday afternoon. Fuckers.

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Like David says, our little Googlebombing experiment has worked. There have been side effects - notably the influx of people arriving here via searches for Shakira or Travis Fimmel naked (sorry to disappoint, guys and girls - though we suspect mostly guys...), but our respective aims have been achieved.

Which means - yes! - I am the number one Google search result for 'Ann Widdecombe naked'. If this isn't a proud moment I don't know what is.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, no-one has actually searched for said phrase as yet; with the closest so far being 'Ann Widdecombe 2002'. (now there's a pin-up calendar I never want to see...)

Now, if we could just think of a useful application for it all...

Well, in the words of the (fortunately) inimitable Adam Rickett: I breathe again.

The good news is I'm not being made redundant. The bad news is, er, that means I'm still working here.

Still, the CV is finally done, which is a step at least. Now I just have the simple task of deciding what I want to do with my life. Easy.

Except, of course, it isn't. I've never known. I have a mixture of admiration and envy for those people who knew, like when they were still at school, that they wanted to be an engineer, a lawyer, a journalist, an architect, a landscape gardener - and just worked towards that, doing the right courses at college, getting the right qualifications, and getting the career.

I'm one of the other group. Sure, I've studied and got the odd qualification, but not with any particular aim in mind, and largely just because I perceived it to be the easiest and most enjoyable option at the time. There's no career plan going on here. I'd hoped that by 28 I might have some idea - but I'm still waiting. Me and Diana Ross, baby.

So where once I might have headed down to the University Careers Service, now I'll more than likely find myself at a recruitment agency sometime soon. And one of the first questions will inevitably be:

'So, what kind of work do you want to do?'

Dammit, that's always the killer. I want to be a successful songwriter, a singer, an actor, a writer, a TV presenter, a DJ, and any number of creative, flaky things that I can pursue in my spare time but aren't going to pay my bar bill any time in the immediate future. What the question needs to be is:

'So, what kind of work are you prepared to do? What kind of soul-destroying, mind-numbing, corporate-tedium-hell can you convincingly pretend at an interview that you actually want to do?'

And on that one, the jury is still out.

Friday, April 19, 2002

I'm here, I'm just doing my CV
In case you were wondering. A few days ago we were told there are going to be (yet more) redundancies at work next week. Advertising isn't exactly a booming industry at the moment, and while I've escaped several previous swings of the axe, with the numbers they're talking about, this time I might not be so lucky.

Although, given that I'm more than somewhat keen to get out of there anyway, that might not be altogether a bad thing.

Either way, on those rare occasions I have a few spare moments, they're going to have to be dedicated, for the time being, to rearranging blatant lies like 'pro-active approach' and 'excellent sales skills' in an attractive manner on my CV, and finding, like, something to do with my life. Preferably involving chocolate.

So apologies for the forthcoming erratic transmissions, normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, anyone need some hired help?

Friday, April 12, 2002

A joke, seeing as how it's Friday an' that.

Q: What do you get when you breed a poodle and an elephant?
A: A dead poodle, split in half.


Meanwhile, back in Cape Town...

Wednesday 20th March
It's a glorious day, so time to hit the beach and soak up some much needed sunshine. Clifton's third beach is the favoured gay destination (the majority of families and screaming children head for the more accessible fourth, leaving you to relax in peace), so it's there that we head, pull up some loungers, and spend a thoroughly relaxing day. The white sand is gorgeous, while the blue waters have barely warmed a fraction since dripping off an iceberg somewhere in the Antarctic. The word 'brrrr!' is used more than once. But hey, you can't have everything, and who cares when it looks like this?

After which, it's time to head up to the winelands for the Big Family Wedding. The setting, in the Delaire wine farm halfway up a mountainside, is pretty spectacular and the ceremony (for a cousin of Kelvin's) is held outside in the evening, with views right over the valleys. And of course I get to meet the entire family...

I was rather hoping for introductions along the lines of: "..and this is Dave, Kelvin's...(awkward pause)...friend." but again, it was all surprisingly easy. Oh well, maybe when they look at the photos.

Thursday 21st March onwards

We shop, we beach, we sightsee (hey, when you work with as many recruitment consultants as I do, everything's a verb, okay?) and in the evenings check out the nightlife, with guidance from Kelvin's ex-boyfriend. Which proves to be another Thing That Should Be Awkward But Isn't.

We start at Cafe Manhattan - very chilled-out, great food, and in a steep, pretty street that reminds me a lot of San Francisco. From there it's on to Bronx which seems to be pretty much the hub of the gay scene, and the most consistently busy of the bars we visit. And rightly so, it's a lot of fun - good atmosphere, bit of a dancefloor should the urge take you, decent music, and one of those crowds where everyone from the leather queens to the crop-topped twinkies is all thrown together in one big melting pot. Which is always entertaining. And needless to say, we end up here rather a lot.

Later, it's across the road to 55, which is a nice venue, though very mixed in terms of music, clientele, and numbers - sometimes good, sometimes just too quiet, although I'm sure it's a different matter in high season.

Highlight, in nightlife terms, proves to be Saturday night at S.K.Y. which, with reassuring familiarity, is the full-on booty-shaking, pill-popping, shirts off, hands-in-the-air experience (did I really just write that phrase?), musically veering between the dark'n'funky house of London's Crash and more commercial Fridge-like moments. It's the venue itself that makes it, though, being upstairs with a chillout lounge area and front balcony which are both outside, meaning you can relax on the rooftops in the warm(ish) night air when it all gets a bit too much. Luvverly.

We meet, among other people, a couple of friendly fellow Londoners - David and Pier - who we hang out with over the next couple of days, taking in a trip up Table Mountain (spectacular) and a meal at Blues in Camps Bay, by all accounts Cape Town's finest restaurant (equally spectacular). And while we never came across anywhere where the food wasn't outstandingly good and ludicrously reasonable (La Perla and Beluga also come highly recommended should you be heading there anytime) this was the best of the lot.

South African meals, by the way, are invariably HUGE. By the end of the holiday I had ballooned to a point where Greenpeace volunteers were gathering on the beach to try and push me back into the ocean. But I'm not complaining.

And as for the wine - I'm not much of a wine buff, but if you ever come across a bottle of Stony Brook 2000 Shiraz, I can only advise you to snap it up immediately, it's incredible. As luck would have it, we'd planned a trip to Franschhoek, in the heart of the winelands and home of Stony Brook, for two days later - and so it was that we found ourselves in Mrs Stony Brook's kitchen, merrily gulping down their latest creations, and departing with a caseful of the stuff.

Other highlights included the wild and weather-beaten Cape Point at the very southern tip, and Boulders Beach, where decidedly cute African penguins mingle amicably with the humans, although there's a clear pattern: beach one is mostly humans, beach two is very mixed, and beach three is clearly Penguins Only. I was distinctly taken with them, which has resulted in my holiday photos being something along the lines of:

"And here are the penguins at Boulders - aren't they cute?! And, er, here are some more penguins. And this is another penguin we saw on the way there. And here's a penguin coming out of the water!" Hmmm.

There's doubtless more I could mention, and stuff I've forgotten in the fortnight since we returned, but suffice to say the whole holiday was a fantastic experience in a truly beautiful place (and hey, the company wasn't bad either ;=)

I loved my first trip to Cape Town. And it will definitely not be the last.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Forget S Club 6 and the S Club Juniors, Popjustice brings you, direct from the nursing home, the S Club Seniors...

This, I kid you not, is the current view from my office window:

I don't know what they're trying to say...

Jesus Saves!

Jesus also does a mean tackle apparently:

Yes folks, get your Inspirational Sport Statues, Holy Water fonts for the home, 'Hail Mary' T-shirts, and so much more at the Catholic Shopper.


Monday, April 08, 2002

I was reliably informed by the world and their dog just how much I was going to love Cape Town. They were right. Full marks to World and Dog. It was truly, truly fantastic - the sunshine, the beaches, the mountains, the food (oh good god the food!), not to mention getting to spend two weeks uninterrupted with my much beloved - definitely a damn fine holiday. Which I shall attempt to summarise, as best I can:

Monday 18th March
Arrive at Heathrow Airport, excitable and (fortunately) feeling no ill effects from the previous night's RVT indulgences. Which validates my theory that it isn't the seven beers and multiple vodkas I chuck down my throat every Sunday night that make me feel rough at work on a Monday - it's just getting up and coming to work. I've always suspected it's bad for your health.

Owing to budget constraints, we're not flying direct, but on the much cheaper Turkish Airlines, via Istanbul. Which makes it a long flight, but other than that, any reservations we had (I'm sure there's a pun to be had here somewhere - oh, you make one up) prove to be unfounded as it's a very nice plane, the food's as acceptable as airline food gets, and there's plenty of space. Not quite so sure about the soothing take-off music: the cheesy supermarket-muzak version of 'Killing Me Softly' almost does, and then, especially for the nervous travellers, it's the the theme from Titanic! Marvellous.

Still, Istanbul Airport is positively palatial after the overcrowded shack that is Heathrow Terminal 3, we buy coffees for approximately 6,000,000 lira (price stickers in shops must be HUGE in Turkey) and get back on board for the long haul.

I'm quite hopeful of actually getting some sleep because:
a) am very tired
b) have Nytol - clinically proven to aid restful sleep!
c) have boyfriend with big shoulders on which to rest head

By about 1am though it's clear that despite the above, there will be no sleeping tonight. Head is very comfortable. Butt has lost all feeling whatsoever, yet somehow still manages to hurt from sitting so long. Wish had spent less time on that skiing machine thingy at the gym endeavouring to lose excess cushioning which would now be invaluable. Ah, the price of pertness.

Tuesday 19th March
Nevertheless, we land in Johannesburg and finally in Cape Town at lunchtime, feeling surprisingly awake. It's about 27 degrees, the sun is shining, there are palm trees, and it's gorgeous. And better yet, it transpires we're not staying with Kelvin's family out of town (though that would have been fine), but he's secretly booked us a five-star suite in Bantry Bay, right on the seafront, for the two weeks. Needless to say, I'm overwhelmed - this is a genuinely, really nice surprise (turns out World and Dog knew about this too - dammit my friends are far too good at keeping his secrets! Must work on this.)

We check in and unpack, and I think I can describe the suite best by simply saying it's one of those places where they turn down the corner of the bed and leave a little chocolate on the pillow every night. We like.

A quick dip in the pool, and then it's off to (gulp) Meet The Parents. I kept thinking I should be nervous but somehow just wasn't - maybe it's just hard to be in such a laidback place, maybe just because there was no real reason to be. Either way, it went just fine and an enjoyable evening was had by all. Shucks, perhaps I'll get to be The Evil Homosexual Who Stole Our Son some other time.

Have to continue this later but next on Dave's Cape Town Adventures: the wedding, the ex-boyfriend, the bars, the beaches, the clubbing, the penguins (not clubbing of the penguins, before I start getting angry emails from excitable cardigan-wearers) and oh, so much more.

Stay tooned.

Okay, okay, alright already, yes, it's an update at last! Apologies for the extended hiatus, for which I have been roundly berated (is that as much fun as it sounds?) but there will be full updates just as soon as I find a plausible way of ignoring the tide of work that has greeted my return. Honest.

Certain Swedes may be happy to know they won't have to look at that picture below for much longer.