Friday, August 23, 2002

Is there a finer pleasure known to 21st century man than putting the ‘Out of Office’ auto-reply message on your email?

You write: ‘Thanks for your mail – I’m now out of the office until 2nd September but you can reach any other member of the team on…’

You mean: ‘Bad luck, loser! I’m not here to deal with your tiresome enquiry or listen to your miserable whining. You’ll just have to try and direct that pile of tedious work you were about to dump on me to someone who might actually give a fuck – I’ll be too busy lying on a beach, surrounded by nubile young Spaniards, and sipping cocktails in the sun. Muahahaha! Oh, and get a haircut.’

With which, I’m off to Sitges. Back in September!

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

To anyone who may have found themselves unexpectedly welded to the floor of my local tube station on Sunday afternoon. I’m sorry; that was my superglue, I was trying to stick my knackered trainers back together, it went everywhere, I was running late, and the train arrived before I could clean it up.

I hope you were rescued before too long.

Why simply regurgitating the press release isn't always the best idea. From HMV's singles page:

'H & Claire return with a brilliant second single...'Half A Heart' is a no-nonsense, no-holds-barred mid-tempo pop ballad that shows how well both these vocalists have matured.

A no-nonsense, no-holds-barred mid-tempo pop ballad? To be listened to while indulging in kick-ass, in-yer-face, extreme macrame, perhaps...

Job-hunt update: seems my interview at the estate agency last Tuesday went better than I thought, as the Extremely Tall Interviewer has invited me back for a second meeting. Which is encouraging, being the first application that's progressed anywhere beyond the first stages, but does beg the question: what if I actually get offered the job? Do I even want it? Then again, I've got to do something. But is it wise to jump at the first opportunity when I'm not even certain it would be an improvement? Is a change really as good as a rest?

Gah. I'm going to go and look at some kittens. [via chachacha]

Brighton? Twice in a fortnight? Yes, indeed. Along with what seemed like half of London, Kelvin, Phil, Nigel, Jonathan and I took advantage of a rare sunny Saturday, and headed for the beach.

Nature did a pretty good job of designing Brighton beach. Pebbles on the beach so that you don’t get sand everywhere, but soft sand under your feet as soon as you get in the water – which is clean, clear, and, for the UK, relatively warm. Plus, at no point are you ever much more than a hundred yards from the nearest bar or somewhere that will serve you fish and chips in a polystyrene tray. Fantastic.

A perfect, lazy day, after which we headed home for a friend’s party in south London.

We could have stuck around and gone clubbing at Creation, but apparently the birds are a bit uptight…

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

In what could well become a regular feature, it’s time for: Bitching with Hear’say!

Scan the pop news on any given week, and you’re sure to find the Popstars-created band slating at least somebody in the music business. We don’t know if it’s a chip on the shoulder about that ‘difficult second album’ barely troubling the top 30, but there it is. Liberty X, Simon Cowell, Oasis, George Michael – they’ve all been on the receiving end of the biting ‘Say tongues, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg. So who’s next?

This week: Geri Halliwell, ex-bandmate Kym Marsh, and Darius!

Noel ‘AteAllThePies’ Hear’say on Geri judging Pop Rivals: ‘It's very ironic that somone who instigated the split in the Spice Girls is now acting as a judge and guide for pop wannabes. It confuses me. She's the one who left and now she's helping to put a band together.'

Myleene ‘Boobs’ Hear’say on Kym Marsh’s wedding to Eastenders’ Jack Ryder: 'I don't need to marry a celebrity to think that my life's complete.'

And Danny ‘Shrek’ Hear’say on Darius: 'Just because Darius has had a haircut it doesn't change his personality’.

Meow. Easy now, kids! (We still like the new single, though).

More next week, no doubt…

Seven days...


En masse, to Bonjour Vietnam in Fulham, to say au revoir to Peter and Jason (you see what I did there, huh? huh? Oh, never mind…), who are bravely heading back to a life of bingo and Bolly, entertaining troops of overweight fiftysomethings aboard a luxury cruise for the next five months.

Lots of fun, and lots of food, being an all-you-can-eat thing. Not of the congealed buffet that’s been sitting there all day variety, but where you simply keep ordering the (very good) food until the last person explodes in a giant mushroom cloud of monosodium glutamate. At which point you realise that seventeenth crispy duck pancake possibly wasn’t the best idea.


An unfortunate combination of being locked out by an absent-minded landlord, a basement flat, wet, slippery grass, and maybe one or two glasses of wine left my much beloved with a broken window and a knee injury, so a night of TV and big, stodgy comfort food. He’s on the mend now.


Which brought (yay!) Brighton & Hove Pride. K couldn’t go, but wouldn’t hear of me staying, so it was up early and down to Brighton (slightly later than expected having failed to allow the requisite half-hour it takes to buy a ticket at Victoria station) but there nonetheless by midday, in something approaching sunshine. Ian has a great account of events away from the park, Luca reports from the after-party, and for my part, the day went something like this:

12.30pm: Arrive at Damon & Graham’s house where the gang are gathered for drinks
12.45pm: Champagne on patio area, high on hill overlooking Brighton. Very nice indeed.
1.00pm: Is that rain? Oh, yes it is. Entire party retreats to kitchen.
1.30pm: Hmm, still raining. More champagne, anyone?
2.00pm: Rain now resembles tropical monsoon. Patio transformed into outdoor pool.
2.10pm: Hurrah! The rain’s stopped. Let’s go to the park, quickly.
2.11pm: Oh.
2.12pm: Thunder, lightning, average annual rainfall for particularly wet country falling by the minute.
2.45pm: Still raining. This is going to go down as The Year We Spent Brighton Pride In The Kitchen, isn’t it?
3.00pm: Yup. Apparently so. Oh well, more wine?
3.10pm: It’s stopping! No, it really is this time, look! Right, shoes on everyone, we’re off.
3.15pm: Five minutes down the street, and more rain.
3.20pm: Majority of the party abandon the park idea and head, sensibly, for a nice dry pub in town, while Jonathan, Damon and I gamely (stupidly?) continue the walk to Preston Park.
3.22pm: Okay, walking bad idea. Taxi!
3.30pm: Make our way into the park, undeterred by the hordes of people in plastic pac-a-macs runnning hurriedly in the opposite direction.
3.35pm: Queue to get into dance tent which is, understandably, extremely full.
3.40pm: Hmm, these trainers really aren’t waterproof, are they?
3.42pm: Or mud-proof, apparently.
3.45pm: Perhaps if I just get really drunk I’ll cease to notice the mud swishing around between my toes.
3.55pm: Or maybe not.
4.00pm: Find army surplus stall (there had to be one somewhere) and purchase pair of old, but sturdy, boots. Deposit mud-logged trainers in cloakroom. Am wolf-whistled at by girl with the exact voice of Karen from Will and Grace.
4.05pm: Hurrah, dry feet! And the sun’s out! Back to Wild Fruit tent to find Phil, Nigel, Dave and co, in what little remains of their gold Egyptian costumes from the parade. Not for the first time this summer I find myself dancing with friends in small gold pants.
5.00pm or thereabouts (from this point it all gets a bit vague): Manage to find Nathan and friends over at the main stage. Dusty O and Massive Ego are doing their cover of Dead or Alive’s ‘My Heart Goes Bang’ which is almost as delightfully bonkers as the original. Then there’s a Village People-style cop on stage brandishing his truncheon all over the place. Except – oh, it’s a she, and she’s stripping. Five minutes later and it’s tits akimbo. You don’t get that at Mardi Gras. And now, Limahl!
5.30pm-ish: We leave the strains of ‘Too Shy’ for a brief wander round the park. Despite the earlier downpours, there’s a real celebratory atmosphere. People are smiling, laughing and genuinely enjoying themselves. Lesbians are throwing each other to the ground and mud-wrestling. Everyone’s happy.
6.00pm-ish: Back to the Wild Fruit tent for the last couple of hours’ dancing, and finally, sometime around eight, I stagger wide-eyed, muddy-footed but happy, back to the station, and back to London. It had been, as ever, a great day.


A rare, nay, almost unique combination of having not been out on Saturday night, having the flat to myself and being in reasonably good voice, meant that I finally managed to get some recording done. Just one song, written some considerable time ago, but one of my better efforts, and I’m almost pleased with the results. I might even let other people hear it. Well, maybe. Apart from that high note at the end.

No shortage of high notes (hmm, nice link…) in the Dame Edna Experience’s phenomenal show at the RVT though, in exceptional form on an exceptionally good night all round. Marvellous.


Not marvellous. Entirely unremarkable. That’s what Mondays are for.


Job interview with a well-known firm of estate agents. The problem with which is that I really have no idea if I want to be an estate agent. I just want to do something, anything, that isn’t this. And pays a wage you can live on. So, on the grounds that it fits both of those criteria, and in the complete absence of any better ideas, I guess it’s an option. Throughout the interview though, I couldn’t shake the overwhelming sense of being a square peg trying to talk myself into a round hole. I don’t really think it’s what I want – but what is? What the fuck is?

Not strictly relevant, but I should add that the interviewer was (and I’m barely exaggerating here) about seven feet tall. Hands the size of tennis rackets. Most disconcerting.


Which brings me up to date. And, rather too obviously I suspect, writing, not working. Excuse me one moment while I pretend to make some phone calls...

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

In Passing: a site devoted entirely to logging bits of overheard conversations.

Oh go on then. See bandwagon, will jump. My blogtree thingy.

Of course, you might expect the offspring of my blog parents to be a highly literate, beer-swilling social adventurer with a vast pop trivia knowledge and a fondness for football shorts. Instead you got this. Children can be such a disappointment sometimes…

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Things I’ve been enjoying over the last week or so, that I really probably shouldn’t.

1. Topranko!
On the surface, another cheap Channel 5 game show. But one that actually works. Like all the best ideas, it’s simple. Contestants have to guess the top ten answers in a given category – like the highest-grossing Tom Cruise films, or most popular flavours of soup, scoring more points for the more obscure answers lower down the list. And like the best quiz shows, you can’t help trying to answer the questions yourself – before you know it, you’re shouting ‘Oxtail!’ and ‘Cream of Mushroom!’ at the screen like your life depended on it. The rather impersonal hosting and abrupt, Weakest Link style departures need to go, but apart from that, fun for trivia bores everywhere. Just coincidence that the title is almost an anagram of ‘Top Anorak’?

2. Late Night Love Songs with Nigel Williams, on Heart 106.2 FM.
Heart is unashamedly cheesy at the best of times, and Late Night Love Songs, from 10pm-1am every weeknight, is like a whole camembert festival. The music itself is a guilty pleasure: ballad upon ballad from the likes of Celine Dion, LeAnn Rimes and Luther Vandross that you’d normally run screaming from, yet at this time of night, are a perfect oasis of calm after a stressful day. Then there are the ‘Love Letters’ – tales of heartbreak, woe and improbable coincidence blatantly ripped off from Simon Bates’ Our Tune in the '80s, while the whole thing is perfectly held together by Nigel Williams’ soft, reassuring voice: the aural equivalent of someone gently massaging your shoulders and making you a nice cup of cocoa. I have shamefully been known to have difficulty switching this off and going to bed.

3. Around The World (La La La La La) by ATC.
Coming on like the bastard lovechild of Eiffel 65 and Aqua, this is trashy Europop to the max, complete with nonsense lyrics and lots of xylophones. I suspect I’m liking it purely because it reminds me of our holiday to San Francisco, San Diego, and Las Vegas last year, when it followed us around (not least because a certain flatmate of mine bought the album). Look out for the near-identical follow up, My Heart Beats Like A Drum (Dum Dum Dum), which is, well, every bit as good as it sounds.

Going now before I embarrass myself further.

It's funny and it's got biscuits. No wonder I am enjoying a NiceCupOfTeaAndASitDown.

Auditions for ITV's forthcoming 'Popstars: The Rivals' began yesterday, with the panel of judges including Pete Waterman, Westlife manager Louis Walsh, and Geri Halliwell. Of course, there may be those who say that having Geri Halliwell judge your singing talents is rather like asking Hitler to assess your race relations policy. I couldn't possibly comment.

Monday, August 05, 2002

And I thought I'd had a great weekend...

Blimey. For the record though, I second the opinion that Saturday's night's Crash was indeed awesome - good to see somebody having such a good time - and a downright wonderful night at the RVT last night, for all the usual reasons, as well as apparently being the night for all manner of gossip, intrigue, and revelations. I'd tell you just some of the things I heard from some of the people, but then I'd have to kill you.

Along with which, three very different parties. The first being of the dinner variety, kindly hosted by good friends in Richmond and with something of a global flavour: Greek starter, Asian main course and, ahem, Colombian style dessert. Whatever happened to After Eights? Saturday night, meanwhile, began with a house party in Maida Vale, and Sunday afternoon, Phil and Nigel's gathering, entitled 'Before They Were Gorgeous' - involving all manner of suitably embarrassing photo and video evidence from our chequered pasts. I'm seeing Kelvin in a whole new light after seeing him on the back of that camel...

Friday, August 02, 2002

Speaking of crap TV, and indeed some very good TV, there's plenty over at Jump The Shark. It’s a site dedicated to long-running TV shows, which asks you to pinpoint exactly when, and if, said shows lost the plot, went downhill, or indeed ‘jumped the shark’ (a Happy Days reference, apparently).

Not exactly sure why you would want to bother, but great if you fancy spending an afternoon arguing about who was the better Fallon in Dynasty, and why Maddie and David should never have got together in Moonlighting.

Or of course, you might have something worthwhile to do.

...and then, the final indignity. Whilst waiting for the repair man to turn up and replace your car window, you find yourself watching 'Open House' with Gloria Hunniford, because it's either that or Commonwealth Ping-Pong (for fuck's sake...) on the other side. Horrific.

[self-pity] You know when you realise you've got virtually no money to get you to the end of the month and loads of bills to pay? And you make a determined effort to cut down, staying in every weeknight when your friends are out because you can't afford to go, studiously avoiding all shops so that you can't buy anything (not that you can ever afford to, anyway), wearing the same old clothes you don't like any more but can't replace, and existing on the most basic foodstuffs, in the hope that maybe, the next month, you might just about be okay? And then, then some b*stard kid decides to smash your car window, to steal your stereo (which is worthless anyway, being older than God), costing you everything you've saved and then some? Yeah. So far, August sucks. [/self-pity]

Apologies for absence. Too much work. Not enough time. Entirely missed my one year anniversary. Typical. Reminds me of my 18th birthday party, of which I missed all but the first half hour, before having to be carried home. Except at least there was vodka involved. Now it's just paperwork. Curses.