Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Tomorrow, this site will be exactly one year old. So how will I be marking said bloggiversary? A radical new design? A witty, yet poignant, retrospective of the last year? A groovy, hitherto unthought-of interactive element?

Nope, looks like it’s messing about with the colours a bit and a slightly better sidebar. Oh well, there’s always Christmas. Still some tweaks to be made though – you’ll be amazed when it's finished.

Which will make two of us.

A Scandinavian guide to the word 'fuck'.

Very comprehensive, perhaps unsurprisingly...

Monday, July 29, 2002

You might not expect the chatroom of Watford football club to be a hive of entertainment. But this thread, which runs, and runs, and runs, is most amusing.

'Bimbo83' is outraged that her boyfriend Brian has gone on holiday to Greece with his mates, and in visiting the opposition's penalty box has brought back, and kindly given to her, a nice dose of hepatitis. And she's not happy...

Brian himself makes an appearance part way through, but it's Emma from Boots I feel sorry for. You'll see what I mean...

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Right, that's it from me for today, just time to say a quick happy birthday to Walt, who turns the big 3-0 tomorrow.

And wonder when, exactly, I turned into a local radio DJ.

Like a lot of people, I’m off to Manchester tomorrow. Not to the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, but for lunch. Gratuitous, yes (and I’m still surprised the company’s agreed to it), but one of those nice freebies there haven’t been nearly enough of lately.

It’s an advertising awards ceremony and I’ve got to collect three, for a campaign for Selfridges. I’d love to claim credit for writing and designing the ads, but I’m officially in a managing, making-everything-happen capacity (although I seem to end up doing both increasingly often). It’s not an especially big or prestigious thing, but hey, it’s a day out.

Crossing my fingers for there to be no acceptance speeches required...

I’m entirely hopeless at starting conversations with strangers. And as for chatting someone up, forget it. But just occasionally, it happens. Sunday marked a year to the day that I first set eyes on Kelvin, across a crowded South London pavement outside (where else?) the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. How, given our regular attendance, I’d never seen him before I don’t know, but I hadn’t.

I remember standing with with Greg, Rick and Jonathan, chatting but not really taking part in the conversation – I’d been transfixed by the guy with the deep brown eyes and the incredible smile, who I could see over Greg’s shoulder. There was definite eye contact (that much I can do, just) but that was all so far, until a few hours and more than a few beers later, I saw him again, sitting outside on the railings, and decided I had to take the plunge and say something. Anything. Just a few words to break the ice.

And for the life of me, I still have absolutely no idea what they were. Too much to drink, too many drugs. But, a year on, one thing’s definitely clear. Wherever the words came from, I’ve never been more grateful for them.

Nice to know that Central Line drivers always know exactly where they're going. Heading west on the Tube at lunchtime, the following announcement:

'Sorry about this ladies and gentlemen, Oxford Circus is currently closed due to a security alert. The next stop for this train will be, um, er, the next station.'

How informative.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Let’s talk about sex. Specifically, how much does your sex drive get to sit in the driving seat? How many decisions have you made, and how many things do you do on a regular basis, that, in the end, come down to the pursuit of sex? And what other things get sacrificed along the way?

I don’t know about you, but in my case, the answers are too much, and too many. Granted, I’m a man, I’m supposed to think with my dick (and as a gay man that’s supposed to go at least double) – but it’s a stereotype I’d rather not fulfil quite so automatically.

I chose to move to London because, as a media graduate, and keen actor/singer/performer, it made sense to go where the opportunities in those fields were greater. But was it actually about making something of my life, or was it about the nightlife, the size of the gay scene, and by extension, the opportunities for sex? In six years, I’ve got virtually nowhere with the former, and virtually everywhere with the latter. Which leads me to wonder where I’d be if I’d channelled my energies the other way around.

If I can find the dedication to keep going to the gym week in week out (which, like a lot of people, is at least as much about looking good as ‘feeling healthy’ or ‘getting fit’) why can’t I seem to demonstrate the same commitment to getting my songs recorded, writing more, and pursuing my ambitions?

Lotsa questions at the moment.

Bit of a heavy weekend. For once, I don’t mean just in the clubbing/drinking/partying sense (although that too), but yeah, a tough weekend.

There were good bits though: on Saturday evening we went to one of the open air concerts that run at Kenwood House, on Hampstead Heath, throughout the summer. It’s something of a London tradition, and extremely popular, judging by how early we had to arrive to secure a suitable spot on the grass – on which to sprawl, picnic, and imbibe yet more champagne. The concert itself was ‘A Tribute To The Rat Pack’, with good soundalikes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr, among others. I think it’s a fairly safe bet that the real Sinatra never appeared under a giant ‘Sponsored by Waitrose’ logo, but you never know. A great setting though, with the audience on a hill facing across a lake to the stage, and as darkness fell during the last few numbers, fireworks for the big finish.

At the other end of the spectrum, circumstances which I’m not about to go into here have forced me to re-evaluate a lot of things - my life, my past, work, relationships, sex, self-esteem – y’know, the little things – a veritable soap opera’s worth of issues I suspect I’ve been guilty of pushing to the background lest they stand in the way of Having A Good Time, but now, for whatever reason, demand to be dealt with.

Some of them I might write about. It might help. Blog-as-therapy, and all that. Fear not though, we’ll be back to pop nonsense and yogurt before you know it...

Friday, July 19, 2002

On Earth, as it is in lego...

The Bible, as told through coloured plastic bricks. Extraordinary.

So there I was last Friday night, in an Earl's Court escort agency, choosing between boys.

Not for me, you understand, and not for, well, the usual purpose. But by way of moral support to a good friend who was after a hunky-waiter-in-skimpy-shorts to dish out the champagne at his housewarming and birthday bash the following night, just as a suitably decadent touch.

Kelvin and I were there purely to calm Steven's considerable nerves (and maybe just a little out of curiosity), and it was certainly an odd experience. Having been ushered from the street into the main living room of this perfectly ordinary-looking house ('Do you think it'll be all candles and soft music?' asked Steven. 'I doubt it - more likely techno and amyl' I replied - although in the event it was somewhere between the two), we were wondering exactly what was going to happen when our host drew back a large green curtain to reveal a glass door. Behind which, six shirtless guys lined up for our perusal, for all the world like you were choosing which puppy you wanted from the kennels. We could be seen just as clearly, resulting in much awkwardness on our side, not knowing quite where to look, but having to look all the same, that being the point of the exercise.

We attempted to come to a decision without too much huddling, conferring and pointing which would have felt just downright rude. I guess some people might enjoy the power in that situation, but to us it felt decidedly uncomfortable. After some discussion, Steven most liked the sound of one of the guys who wasn’t there that evening (a friendly 23-year-old Brazilian who did a great job on the night). So the curtain was briskly replaced, arrangements were made and we left, leaving the two ‘proper’ clients who’d just arrived to take their turn.

Definitely an odd experience, and having seen some of the real clients, I have a newfound admiration for the boys behind the curtain. Let’s just say it wouldn’t have been an easy night’s work...

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Posts now brought to you via Molly's suggestion of writing in Word and then uploading, by the way. Still frustrating, but almost bearable.

You may have read much about this year’s London Mardi Gras by now. Most of it not very complimentary, and with good reason. For my part, I had an alright kinda time, if only because, ply me with enough drink, and surround me with enough people dancing to suitably thumping music in a great big tent, I probably will. But a huge success it was not.

Prior to the event, there was much hullabaloo from most quarters about the choice of location, Hackney Marshes, in East London. I didn’t subscribe to this; having lived in the northern reaches of (whisper it) Zone 3 for six years, I’m well used to those central-dwellers who believe it takes three hours and a passport get anywhere further out than King’s Cross. Which is nonsense, it just takes a bit of nerve and some body armour.

Mis-advertising seemed to be the name of the game. ‘Just a short walk from Stratford station..’ read the publicity. Rubbish, as even the most cursory glance at the A-Z revealed, hence our trip aboard a packed train to the much-nearer Homerton station. ‘No more of those bar tokens that everyone hated last year’, promised an earlier ad. Which will be why the huge yellow banner in front of the gates read, er, ‘Bar Tokens’. ‘Gates open at 1.30pm’ (try 3pm once the necessary health and safety checks have actually been done), and so on.

Once inside, it was time to play ‘find the bar that actually sells beer’. Vodka jellies, alcopops and dubious-looking Red Bull wannabes all abounded, but could I find a nice, cold, honest-to-God can of beer to enjoy in the semi-sunshine? Not before I’d hiked approximately six miles round the site, anyway.

One of the reasons for the move to Hackney Marsh was supposedly that the venue could be ‘three times bigger than previous years!’, which it quite possibly was, although hands up anyone who thought, even fleetingly, that the Finsbury Park festivals were ‘too small’. No, thought not. The result was that, with the lower numbers more sparsely spread, the whole thing felt a little empty, and almost as flat as the Marsh itself. Not a great venue, and it's fair to say that going to ‘celebrate your sexuality’ in a hidden away corner of London where nobody can see you rather misses the point.

Purely in partying terms though, Radio 1’s stage and the Trade tent just about saved the day, so several hours and a fair few drinks later things had improved, and there were smiles all round, but next year it’s the March and Soho for me (and, I think, probably most people) unless there are some major changes.

From there it was back to the comforting familiarity of Soho, a bit of Bar Code, and then on down to Action for their post-Mardi Gras party. Which was good, but somehow didn’t quite live up to last month’s outing, I can’t put my finger on why, but somehow the requisite party atmosphere just wasn’t there. So we headed to Love Muscle, where it was in abundance, and it proved to be the highlight of the whole weekend. Actually, scrub that, Dame Edna’s show at the RVT the following day blew the whole thing out of the water of course, one of her finest and funniest for months.

So, not a complete loss, but I don’t think 2002 will be remembered as anybody’s favourite Mardi Gras. Still, roll on Brighton & Hove Pride in a few weeks' time, which will no doubt more than compensate.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Now where was I? Oh yeah, Torquay, about a fortnight ago now. The 'English Riviera' as it would have it, and in fairness, rightly so. Okay, it isn't St Tropez, but there's an undeniable charm about the palm-lined promenade, and a certain sophistication among the faded glamour. It's also, on the couple of occasions I've visited in the last few years, a hell of a lot of fun.

This time was no exception, courtesy of our irrepressible hosts Paul and Rob. The five-and-a-half hour drive down to the South West wasn't a great start (note to the motorists of the Bristol area: the accelerator is the one on your right), but was swiftly forgotten amid much champagne on the balcony of their holiday apartment while the sun set over the bay (not to be seen again until Monday, this being Britain). Dinner at the Orange Tree, run by friends of our hosts, was genuinely superb, while later on at Rocky's, Torquay's gay 'nitespot' was genuinely scary for those unused to its, ahem, unique charms. Let's just say it's not likely to lose its Friday night clientele to the pages of GQ any time soon. Science, maybe. Why yes, that is my saucer of semi-skimmed, thank you.

But a lot of fun, four floors, a real mix of people, and much improved on Saturday night, when the club is at its busiest and the music is actually very good indeed. I'd tell you what happened afterwards, but you might be reading this at work. That, and the fact I'm still trying to blot some of the images from my mind...

Saturday also saw the local delicatessen raided for our picnic aboard a typically champagne-soaked speedboat trip around to some nearby coves - god, it's a hard life they lead down here - while the regular Sunday afternoon gathering at Ocean House, with a cocktail or two by the pool, rounded things off perfectly despite the lack of sunshine.

Hell, I was even happy to stay put rather than race back to London for the RVT. And you don't get much more of an accolade than that. Yep, I heart Torquay.

Finally, a few spare moments at home to catch up on some posting. Because it's official, I just can't write from work any more. It's irrational I'm sure, but with my screen in full view of those sitting near me and anyone who happens to walk past, I just can't, like, create. Granted, we're talking a few pithy comments and the odd tale here and there, not major works of art, but it's still a little like having people able to listen to music that you haven't finished composing, people looking at your painting when you can't even tell what it is yet. Rolf Harris might have been able to work that one, but not me.

Factor in the rumour currently circulating the office that our internet use is being monitored - how long we're spending online and on which sites - and you get, well, not a lot from this corner. Damned job - first it stole my hope, then it killed my soul, and now it's got its hands on my blog.

Did I mention I'm not entirely happy at work?

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

A whole week goes by and what do you get? Yogurt reviews.

Coming up, er, sometime: a wild weekend in Torquay, Dave gets on television, Mardi Gras, and how the political ramifications of the Nepalese government's latest economic policies may affect future growth on the stock markets of the Far East.

That last one might be a while coming, though.

Muller Lite Chocolate Yogurt. 99.7% fat free, it proclaims. Yes, because it's 99.7% chocolate free as well. Tastes a bit like yogurt. Doesn't taste at all like chocolate. Rubbish.

As feared, new desk arrangement is severely limiting blogging ability, on the grounds of the entire office, Chairman included, being able to see when I am Manifestly Not Working. I'm currently doing that trying-to-look-as-if-I'm-typing-an-important-pitch-document thing but I'm quite sure it's fooling no-one.

Still here. Just job-hunting. A lot.

Meanwhile, looks like I need a new picture-hosting facility, judging by the scary message below. I would upgrade but finances extremely tight at present - hence the job-hunting. Any suggestions?