So there we were yesterday tea-time, in Leith's tiny but trendy Iso-Bar, waxing all things Lucasian. They were going to see it, you see - "It" of course being Attack of the Clones. But I'd been already, with Scott.
And I'd read a million reviews, from the mildy interested to the frankly fanatic. Like the guy in Australia who saw it three days running - in different cinemas for the perfect projection. And the man in Tucson, Arizona who's word-perfect on the four previous movies, and so on. Women tend, on the whole, to have more sensible things to do with their time.
But yesterday it was I who had the conch, big-time. "Of course, these are the parents of the characters you already know," I explained, carefully so as not to lose them. "Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker... that sort of thing."
"Oh I see," gasped Maia. (I told you it was a trendy bar. No Bettys or Jeanies here.) "And what about Ewan McGregor?" she asked. "Well, it's like this... he has to sound like Alec Guinness," I told both her and Nick. "Same thing with Hayden Christensen. He has to be tall."
"Is he the one who goes to the Dark Side?" Nick pressed. "Exactamente, dear boy!" I beamed at him, with a "Ten out of Ten" look on my face. "Darth Vader - but everybody knows that by now."
Nick laughed then, with an "Of course I knew that," laugh. "Handsome chap playing him too," I said, developing the theme. "Hayden Christensen. He's this year's Big Thing." "Wow," said Maia.
Anyway, all this frolicking in bars doesn't get a boy's chores done. Tis 7.30 am, and I have a morning of shopping and haircutting in front of me, before facing my public at midday. Think I'll ask the gaffer for a raise today. I deserve one. Plus, the more you earn, the more people you can boss about. It's a status thang, not money.
At work, L my supervisor was ecstatic about Clones. "Didn't you think it was a little bit... for children," I ventured, trying to be diplomatic. "No way," she declared. "Fucking fantastic. But you did need to see Phantom Menace first."
"Wish I could see that one," I agreed, getting quite caught up in the whole fol-de-rol by now. "I'll lend it to you," L offered. "But it's very political. It's a political film."
"Thanks a bunch, L," I said. "I'm sure I'll enjoy it, even if it is political." So that is where we stand. I'm already saving up for my light-sabre and model Deathstar.
Strange, yesterday. It started with Blogger down, and almost ended with Jemima down too. J. is my pet name for the computer. I have so few friends, you see. And she's very faithful. Even yesterday, as the load sequence repeatedly halted just after the start-up virus scan, I sensed she was trying to succeed. Trying to oblige, but - like me at times - just too overwhelmed with the latest progress.
It was Internet Explorer 6 wot dunnit, you see. Now I know that those of you who expressed a preference all recommended it to me, but sadly you were all wrong. But I don't mind. I'm a big boy now - and the ultimate decision was mine, all mine.
I knew the minute I'd installed it that things were going pear-shaped. (What a strange expression! What on earth is wrong with the shape of a pear?) Pear-shaped in that Free Cell, a computer card game I adore, was no longer working. Oh, it loaded up OK. You could deal a hand, just fine. But then the pointer turned to egg-timer and wouldn't move any of the damn cards. Solitaire was damaged also. Well, if it can do that to two little things like those, then what on earth other damage has it wrought, I thought?
And yesterday I found out. Wouldn't load. Stopped short immediately after the virus scan.
Now, have you ever tried to stop that on-load scan? It's a persistent thing. I went into BIOS and disabled it. No effect. I went into Windows safe mode, (once I'd dug out the manual), and unchecked every damn box on my McAfee panel. No effect. I uninstalled IE6. No effect. So then, in desperation, I uninstalled McAfee VirusGuard. And then it loaded.
Well - now everything's buzzing along like Keanu in Speed. I'd forgotten how fast a Hi-Speed modem can be - or more probably, never knew in the first place. But it's a fool's paradise, of course. In a world filled with Klez.h there's just no escape. Bareback is simply not an option, either here or elsewhere. See you later, protected.
Bye Bye Mr Byers, Transport Secretary. I liked your glasses.
Dossa and Joe by Caroline Aherne, BBC2 Wednesdays. Her best show yet. Less scary than Mrs Merton, and more exotic than the Royles, by virtue of being about an Irishwoman in Australia with her Aussie hubby. Go there.
And while you're hanging about the BBC site, you can grab a taste of the divine Eminem's latest offering here. Fooled ya there, know what I'm sayin? Never knew we were an Eminem fan, now didya?
Those of us past a certain age will for ever associate clone with a gay fashion of the late 70's/early 80's. Short hair, Tom Selleck moustache, red and black lumberjack shirt, 501's and Doc Martin's. (I think.) Unlike many gay styles, which I call "inclusive" (a guy dressing as a boyband in order to attract a trucker), these clones were exclusive. Clones were attracted only to clones, and heaven preserve anyone else who even thought of chatting up. Me, I found the look quite pleasing, but never became one, as that would have meant going shopping.
Well, the one certain thing about fashion is that it always repeats. I have this amusing (to me) fantasy of a whole generation of elderly gay guys orgasming over their Zimmer frames when that look eventually retro's its way round.
But anyway - what about that movie? Let me confess that I'm the last one in the world who should offer an opinion, except that mine is as valid as anyone else's. But no more so. I'd seen and enjoyed Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, felt less moved by Return of the Jedi, and hadn't seen Phantom Menace at all. But urged on by Darren and alan ("less complex than Friends, and better frocks") I gave it a bash yesterday.
After five minutes, when a daft machine dropped some clearly fake giant centipedes onto the beautiful heroine, it was clear what we were up against. Children's television. Then when the handsome young stud was told that his job was to protect this amazingly un-nibbled chicklet, then really the film was over. Protect and procreate. But not enough procreation to lose that all-important PG certificate. (Unlike Spiderman, btw., which has suffered the commercial disaster of a 12 rating. Babs the South Park chef says we should boycott the toys. I hadn't planned on buying any.)
So, having decided that the movie was, for me, essentially unwatchable, I spent the two hours looking at it, rather than with it. The CGI stuff was appalling. Time and again you weren't sure whether you were watching cinema or a 486 computer game. Ewan McGregor trying to sound like Roger Moore was equally silly, but outside of Scotland that one would pass muster. The music was bland, anonymous mush, with the Star Wars theme not appearing until almost the end. Hayden Christensen is a babe, but - like practically all the cast - has hardly passed "Acting One". Oh - I could go on all day, but what's the point?
It's a movie. It's a game. It's a bunch of toys and posters. It's a fortune in the bank for Lucas. Good luck to all the schoolkids who enjoy it. May the force be with you.
Two footnotes that you might not have seen elsewhere...
(1) The character Jango Fett held my interest, as I had a hunch he was being played by Temuera Morrison, the brilliant star of Once Were Warriors, an incandescent film, one of my top five ever. And right enough, I was correct. Fascinating that in Star Wars they let his character say, "Well, a guy's got to make a living somehow."
By one of those once-in-a-lifetime coincidences, that very same evening Mr Morrison starred in What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? (1999), the sequel to Warriors. It was on Filmfour, which I ridiculously haven't got. My advice when it airs terrestrial - tape it so you can wizz through the ads. Also, if it's even half as violent as Warriors, you might benefit from a break and a cup of tea.
(2) This from Charlie B of Here Inside, a new blog well worth a look.
"Isn't Ewan trying to sound like Alec Guinness, bc he was Obi Wan in the originals? Same way Anekin had to be very tall (and Hayden C. is wonderfully tall) so he was like the Darth Vader he will become?"
Yesterday was unusual in that I did something. I picked up the telephone, phoned my dentist, and made an appointment. Now what's the big deal? I hear you asking. Where's the punchline? And there really isn't one. Except that that was the first thing I've done this year. Boy was my adrenalin racing!
The appointment, later in the afternoon, was a bit of an anticlimax. "Yes, there's a bit of redness," he declaimed, peering at the gum behind Upper Left Four. "I'll give you some antibiotics - if that's all right with you." (My emphasis.)
Imagine that! A health professional interested in your opinion! But, as regular readers of this organ are well aware, we would rather drink cyanide straight from the bottle than ingest an antibiotic. Even one would undo the fifteen years of health I've built up by not taking them.
So I explained this to him, without trying to sound too nuts, and he was OK with it. "Fifteen years!" he gasped. "That's very good." (Actually I was lying. It's really only about ten. But - never let the truth get in the way of a good story.)
"Would hot salty water help?" I asked, beseechingly. "Yes, that would help," he agreed. "Would clorhexidine gluconate help?" I pressed on. (That's Corsodyl mouth wash, btw.) "Yes, that would help too," he agreed. "Thank you for not getting angry with me," I concluded. "My last dentist usually did."
I was actually more concerned about the condition of my dentist that I sense he was about me. He's lost an awful lot of weight in the last six months, and for a stunningly handsome man in his early thirties this is never a good sign. You can even see the characteristic shape of his eye-sockets at the sides of his face. Plus his eyes were rolling upwards while he spoke. But maybe it was just some relief from looking at me. I probably appeared a bit demented.
Then to the Port and Scott and Rex. Scott suggested we go to see some new Star Wars creation today at 2.30. I'll probably go, just for the spectacle, but I won't be able to understand a thing. Anything more complex than a Friends episode and I'm lost, I can tell you. I have the retention of a gnat.
I adored SW and TESB, but that was twenty years or so ago. Return of the Jedi left me a bit cold, and by now I've forgotten the whole damn lot - except maybe how handsome Mark Hamill was. And Harrison Ford, of course. Talk about Batman and Robin.
Regular readers, esp. from overseas in those funny time zones you insist on, might have noticed a rather odd post here overnight. It was a death wish. One of those, "It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to." It's removed now, not for the content, but simply that it's not well-written. And that is the ultimate no-no.
Her Majesty the Queen was in Edinburgh yesterday. It was for a Jubilee Garden Party, but my invitation got lost in the post.
Well, that's it then. First, Latvia. Second, Malta, and third place UK, along with Estonia, I think. Why is it that countries which end in in "a" are either small and inconsequential, or large and sometimes quite threatening? Or even entire continents? Strange. I don't know if anyone else has noticed that before.
Third place is a bit disappointing, from the people who brought you the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but even by virtue of that, we've done our bit for the popular music genre.
"Oh, you fuddy-duddy - there've been much more recent examples of good British pop," I hear my younger readers crying out. But they would be wrong. Pygmies. (Not my readers, groups such as Oasis, et al.) Because when you consider that the apparently leading luminaries of British music are an Australian dwarf (there's that pesky letter "a" again), and a tattooed karaoke singer who can't make up his mind whether he's a queen or not, then you see how far we've (not) come.
But in any case, the country which leads the planet head and shoulders in almost every aspect of music is not in the above list, is not even in Europe, and it too ends in "a". (And we don't mean Bryan Adams, wonderful though he was!)
Also good to note that tonight on BBC 2 there are three hours of Young Musician of the Year finals, and great to see that the BBC at least is prepared to offer some antidote to the quintessential triviality that is Eurovision.
Talking of triviality, Channel 4 has now launched series three of Big Brother (yawn). Doubtless a blog-colleague not one thousand miles from here geographically or chronologically will have a field day. We at NB are not usually short of a pithy observation or two on that sort of thing, but frankly my dears, I don't give a damn. There's room on the shelves for both The Guardian and The Sun.
Out and about at The Clinic
Julie Burchill writes about her five ab*rtions here. A fact, not a recommendation. Talk about controversial.
And finally... HM The Queen was in Edinburgh yesterday. Neither did she come to my bingo. But I'm sure her subjects would have made her very welcome.
No - not the BB which started its third run yesterday on Channel 4. Not that at all. I'm sure there'll be plenty and more of that elsewhere, once he gets back from the Eurovision.
Yesterday I mentioned a couple of new acquisitions to my viewing repertoire, Voyager and Ally McBeal, and then I got to thinking that they aren't the only ones. A couple of months ago I added Frasier to my list. Partly this was to see what someone with a name as bizarre as Kelsey Grammer actually looked like. And the answer is very ordinary. Quick Quiz Name any one of the other three players! Answer You can't! Only KG gets any sort of billing.
And what about that Niles Crane! So bent he's almost double, and yet he's playing straight. Every time he says something heterosexual to Daphne I almost wince at the incongruity. This is of course so as not to offend the moral majority. The people who might actually buy a "retirement solution" from Britannia Asset Management, the show's UK sponsor. With Niles you get all the fun of a John (I'm free) Inman, but with the comforting thought that he's (supposedly) sticking it up Daphne, so alles ist in Ordnung. (Forgive me - it's that Bavarian beer gone quite to my head.)
Now, even if it stopped there, at Voyager, McBeal and Frasier, that wouldn't be too bad, but it doesn't. To that you've got to add all the Friends, Simpsons and South Park I can squeeze in. Realize then that I watch almost nothing else at all. News? Forget it. Question Time? Load of boring farts getting their rocks off being on the telly.
So - what's your damn point, I hear you ask. It's Saturday and I've got things to do. Well, this is the point, impatient-boots. Sitting passively viewing carefully-tailored mush like those is exactly what our masters want. Modern society requires above all two things.
A large mass of people working quite hard for quite low wages, and
Spending as much of their free time as possible in front of the television set.
And why is that? So that they'll BUY THE PRODUCTS ADVERTISED. They will, in effect, give back to their masters the meagre wages they were grudgingly handed out in the first place.
The Final Solution
But there is a workround. It doesn't have to be so, but fighting back will take a little vigilance on your part. And this is what you do. It's so simple it's really staring you in the face. Just resolve never, ever to buy anything at all you see advertised on TV. Nothing. Not even if you feel your very heart will fall through your boots if you don't possess that trinket or bauble. It's gotta go. Buy something else instead. There's plenty of stuff that isn't on TV.
Now if everybody did that (hehe) the entire commercial TV system would fold within a month. Think about it. And I'll bet you a fiver to a brick shithouse that uk.gov.org and us.navy.mil will be reading this within a couple of days. It's far more scary than even you know who over there in you know where. Without TV there would have been no twin towers.
Someone likes me. Someone likes me enough to invite me to join him and his partner on a camping week. (In a separate tent, of course.) All it'll cost me is my beer money, but I insisted on paying a share of the petrol. If I go, of course. It's to be in the far South-West of Scotland, near Stranraer and PortPatrick - the UK's answer to the Appalachian mountain folk.
"Now, are you coming?" Sam pressed, for about the fourth time. "I'm not taking no for an answer." (Rendering the question a bit redundant, if you think about it.) But I was knee-deep in some genuine imported Bavarian beer (alles ist forgiven, BV) Schneider und Sohn it was called. 8% Vol. And such life-changing decisions are not made except when sober.
Sober-ish now, it sounds great! Thanks Sam, and here's to flaming June. Three tented queens couldn't fail to raise a few laughs.
Even the Stranraer coast road is awesome. It's a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Sort of Scotland's answer to the Pacific Highway, except the sun sets not just over the sea, but over a spectacular backdrop of rocky islands. Arran. Cumbrae. Some others I've forgotten.
Plus the Irish Sea is somewhat smaller than the Pacific Ocean, and considerably radio-active, but who's counting? Size, my darlings, is definitely not everything. Except in certain matters.
In the last two weeks I've been on no walks at all. Rather I've watched not one but two episodes of Voyager, and yesterday my first ever of Ally McBeal. And I loved the damn lot of them. Is this brain-death and terminal couch-potato hood staring me in the face? I need your answers, on a postcard or even in a comment box.
More about the phenomenon known as Eurovision (post and links below) can be gleaned from Sarah, a fellow-blogger from this self-same city. But what a different slant on life this young woman has. Well, you would kinda expect that. Mike of Troubled Diva is so Euro-obsessed that he's actually gone to the damn thing. In Estonia. Greater love hath no man... (Wonder what he's like to live with??)
The winning country (Estonia - surely the hashhead's Shangri La?) has to host the next year's bash, and it's become an institution of all that is camp and naff in both pop and TV. Plus, for the purposes of the contest, the term "Europe" becomes somewhat elastic, encompassing Israel, Egypt, this one and the other one. I'm sure, given the good relations between Tone and Dubya, that the even the mighty USA could be Europe for an evening. Trouble is, they would take it too seriously, and try to win.
In today's hi-tech world, where Olympic Games from across the planet look as sharp, crisp and colourful as if they were on your village green, the idea of a live broadcast from 20 or so countries is no biggie at all. But it wasn't always so, and certainly Eurovision Song Contest was up there with Miss World as a Shared National Experience, of the sort we just don't get any more. (Except for Diana's death.)
Also, back in the early sixties, hearing someone speak in a foreign language was very exotic indeed. Akin almost to magic.
So there we are. This Saturday, starting at eight. Every possible bit of Eurofo, including on-the-spot reports, live feeds etc, can be found at the Princess of Pop that is Troubled Diva. A splendid collection, and as over the top as the contest itself. Essential reading for the Europhile.
PS to my North American readers. So advanced is TV these days that I'm sure you'll be able to savour/savor this astonishing Old World experience during Saturday afternoon. Draw the curtains, get in sandwiches and beer, or sherry and finger-buffet, and just sing along with your ancestors for a couple of hours.
For those whose names end in -berg, or -stein there are Austria, Hungary and of course Deutschland über alles. Scotland doesn't have a separate entry, which will disappoint the Canadians, but Ireland most certainly does, fertilising most of New York. Those of darker eyes and skin, possibly based in California or Florida, will doubtless be rootin-tootin for Spain and Portugal. And people of non-European descent can just ignore the whole damn thing and watch the ice-hockey or ball-game you were going to anyway. [Is this a bit tasteless?... Ed]
Last night was the final episode of this sorry saga, made at the licence-payer's expense, and I can only say "good riddance". I've modified my estimation of the key players from unappealing to repellent, and yesterday a third one got in on the act. "These men are selected for their emotional stability," the narrator kept bleating. Forgive me, honey, but I'll form my own opinions. Effing psychos.
All of which illustrates the NB folklore that heavily-tattooed men are fine to have sex with, even moreso if they're also soldiers, but straight after the act you get rid of them sharpish. Heavily-tattooed queens are simply risible.
You see, what we don't have for you here at NB, we know exactly where to point you to get. Taking this somewhat further, the above .org has taken it on themselves to archive every single web page in the discovered universe.
So, what's wrong with that, I hear you ask, and the answer is simple. It's against the f*cking law, that's what. People think copyright went out the window with the invention of the world wide web, but it did nothing of the sort. From the moment a sentence is written, a drawing drawn, or a melody recorded, the author of the work has the sole, worldwide rights to it. Not for ever, but certainly for some years.
So, who the hell are these people, gaily spidering and copying across the globe? They've got more than a hundred pages of my own writings, copied entirely without my permission, and we are not amused.
Oh, get real, you old fusspot, I hear you say. Everybody knows the net is nothing but a street bazaar of stolen material. And of course you are right. But few, if any, try to make a virtue out of it. You haven't heard the last of this one - watch this space. (Info from troubled-diva above.)
23rd May, 1952
Last week I had the measles and I was in bed all the time. The doctor came nearly every day. He's called Doctor Dickie and he's a bit fat with a big suitcase. Every time he looked at my tummy and in my hair and in my mouth. Then he shone a little torch in my eyes and poked a thing in my ears. Then he took my temperature which means a shiny thing called thermometer. You shake it then put it under my arm for a bit. Then you look at it and shake it again.
Mam kept the curtains drawn all the time and just a little light on in the corner of my bedroom. The first few days she would wake me up and give me a drink then put me on the potty. I didn't eat anything for three days because it hurt my mouth and she says I'm just skin and bones. I had to drink two pints of orange squash every day for the doctor. That was nice. Usually I just get water or milk.
She took my books away and said I hadn't to read in case it hurt my eyes. My two favourite books are called Chick's Own Annual and Nicholas Thomas the Naughty Kitten. I can read all of the Chick's Own book and some of Nicholas Thomas the Naughty Kitten. She would put the radio on in the other room so I could listen to it. My mam's favourite radio programme is called Housewives' Choice.
Yesterday I was a lot better so she let me get up to watch Children's Television. First it was Andy Pandy which was babyish and then it was Flowerpot Men which I like.
"Bill and Ben
Bill and Ben
Bill and Ben, Bill and Ben,
Bill and Ben live in two flowerpots in the greenhouse. There also is a big flower called Weed. When the gardener isn't looking, Bill and Ben and Weed play games. They talk in funny voices that you can't understand. But a man tells you what they're saying. "Your moggleslop." That means "Your majesty".
I'm really bored being on my own all the time but mam says I can't play with anybody for one more week. Not even my cousins have been to see me except John but he had to stay outside the door and talk to me from there. Measles isn't very nice and during the night I would get frightening dreams and scream MAMDADMAMDADMAMDAD. Then one of them would come and tell me stories.
This blog has changed. Once it was what I wanted to write. Then it became what I sensed others wanted to read. But now, as a one-off, it's back to the past.
Far away, in another land linked only by words is Peter. Like this one did, that one studies science too, but his main love is language. Like this one was, that one is filled with hopes and dreams too, but their outcomes can only ever be unknown. And like this one sometimes still does, that one too can weave magic in your heart. Aren't weblogs great?
And on a personal level - as if the above isn't personal enough! - it's so really good to read gay young people looking forward to their lives. Lives freed from the oppressions and tyrannies my own generation had to bear. It shows that our works over the decades have not been quite in vain.
Sometimes I think people are divided into the "go-for-it's" and the "can't do it because's" Me, I'm firmly in the "can't do it because" camp.
When I was young, I couldn't have any sort of decent career because I was gay. Similarly, there could never be love in my life, because everybody knows gay relationships never last. Now the cap is exchanged, but the excuses linger on. I can't have friends because I can't invite anyone to my home. I can't do that because the place is such a mess. I can't clean it up because it's gone too far. I can't even think of a decently-paid job now because I'm too old. I'm reminded of what someone said about Judy Garland... "Time and time again she plucked defeat from the jaws of victory."
Last night on Channel Four was a programme about Dorothy, who was a trainee Cabin Crew with Britannia airways. (Didn't they used to be called air hostesses?) Nothing unusual about that, I hear you saying - until you learn that Dorothy was not 44, not 54, not even 64... but seventy-four years of age.
Frankly ah hae ma doots, as we say here. ("I have my doubts" - that one's too hard for you.) Appealing, adventurous and downright spunky as Dorothy was, I find it hard indeed to believe that anyone of that age, or even my own, would pass what must be really be quite stringent medical requirements. Blood pressure, endurance, sight, hearing and general fitness would surely have been beyond her reach. Because she's 74. But anyway, there was a TV show to be made, so everybody got on with the myth. Oh, and the show was called Working With Dinosaurs, which neatly reveals the programme-makers' real thoughts.
Another TV show, and quite pointless, is The Experiment (BBC2). We've written about it before, but it gets no better. The "stars" of the show are two genuinely unpleasant, loud-mouthed young men cast as "prisoners". There are also some men cast as "guards", and this passes under the umbrella of a "scientific experiment". And of course it's nothing of the sort. It's Big Brother with bars. And not very solid bars either, as was evident last night.
No, the message any young person would take from The Experiment is that the bully and the tormentor get ninety percent of the screen-time. Quite ghastly. Final episode tonight.
Queen and stuff
You can hardly switch on your telly these days without seeing some old geezer like me banging his gums about the Coronation. This is a format we invented here at Naked Blog, but which has rapidly been assimilated elsewhere. Young Peter (that's me, not the American one) sends his apologies, but he's in bed with the measles right now, and too poorly to chat much.
"So, do you want to come for your tea?" Sandra my personal manager invited over the dog and bone yesterday. (Overseas readers might notice an increasing number of rhyming slangs and other such from now on. I've decided to reverse seventy years of Hollywood's influence.)
"I make a rare quiche," she asserted then. This was unnecessary - the deal was already struck. I, like most people, will go anywhere for a free meal. So, which wine to choose? My local Victoria Wine had little to fascinate, so I took a chance on a new (to me) Cabernet Sauvignon called Nathanson Creek, for little other reason than the Jacob's Creek range is uniformly OK. Plus it had a pound off. Talk about irrational.
Now, at this point, at least one reader will be thinking, "Cabernet Sauvignon with quiche!! The man's got no taste at all!" But they would be quite wrong in concept. The Cab Sauv was for quaffing while the quiche was being prepared. Aperitif. A bottle each. We're never cheap.
However, Nathanson Creek was a disappointment. "Best with grills and hearty meats," the blurb proclaimed. "Aye, that's so ye cannae tell how awful it is," I explained to Sandra, who was baking. "Is it no good?" she asked. "No, but it's too far back to the shop." (I used to work for the Victoria Wine Company, you see. I can tell to the nearest 50p how much a wine should be priced at. This was a £2.49 masquerading as a £3.99 - and that was with a whole pound off. At £4.99 I would definitely have taken it back. Sorry, California. Maybe best sticking to movies.)
There was flour sprinkled over Sandra's kitchen table, and she reached into a green plastic pot and pulled out a lump of stuff and plopped it onto the flour. "That's pastry," she informed me. "Oh, I thought you bought that in a packet," I joked - but in truth I knew what it was, even though I would be powerless to do anything with it myself.
Deftly and expertly she took a wooden roller and rolled the pastry into an oval sheet, then picked it up with the same roller and unwrapped it over a rectangular glass oven dish. A quick press into the edges and corners, a flick of a sharp knife around the excess, and voila! a perfect pastry case. With not a machine in sight. (I used to work for a large commercial bakery factory, so I've seen this done only by mechanical stamper in the past. Flour, salt, water and hardened herring oil.)
"This is amazing!" I cried, admiring the pastry perfection. "I'm gonna blog about this tomorrow." "Pastry blog!" she laughed.
Later, as the Shit Creek Cabernet Sauvignon was reaching its natural conclusion, I thought I'd give her a wee test on my favourite subject. "Do you notice anything different about me today?" I asked her. She looked hard. Frowned a little. Wondered if there was some missing compliment she'd missed. "No," she replied. "I've only smoked one cigarette since I got here!" I announced proudly. "Normally it would have been about six."
So I went on to explain my health plans for this summer. Although inherently immortal, there are two key statistics which will define and determine not only the time of my passing, but its manner. These are (a) number of cigarettes smoked, and (b) body weight. Both of these figures have to go down, down, down - the first hopefully to zero, and the second to 40 pounds less than at present. No - that's ridiculous. I was 21 then. Thirty pounds will be more than welcome.
With these little plans and dreams do we pass our lives more hopefully. And the quiche, when it came, was delicious, btw!
Explore My Internet!
Cyberslut in Edinburgh, Martijn in Holland, and PBQ in N. Ireland all recommend skipping IE5.5 Service Pack 2 completely, and jumping straight on to MSIE 6. Any dissenters? What does Tony my IT manager think? (Windows Critical Update flashed up at me even as I was typing this out. Talk about timeous. And why doesn't WCU recomment IE 6 ?)
I'm now reading this in IE 6.0, and do you know... it looks exactly the same. Awesome. My humble little design is powered entirely by Notepad. It contains tables within tables within tables, and conforms to nothing at all. Yet it still browses out ok!
If it weren't for the new-style Explorer symbol in this year's stylish duck egg blue, you wouldnae ken a thing had changed. What a f*cking waste of time!! Plus a cookie warning keeps coming up, even just for pics. Ah well - at least it cost nowt, and it's not even a pirate.
Thks all for your input. I'm sure there are hidden benefits that so far remain hidden. Maybe I'll try a more testing site.
Last night at work was fun. Because of the chronic short-staffing, illness and these days holidays, I ended up working in the bar.
Now a bar in a bingo hall is quite different in concept from any other bar you might have visited, inasmuch as it's not there to make a profit. It is a service, for those (comparatively few - remember, we're talking mostly old ladies) who wish to buy a drink. Others bring their own bevvy, surreptitiously, and we turn a blind eye to that.
There's also a buffet counter. (Such things used to be called snack bars, or going even further back, cafés.) Food is served, but most bring their own and eat it quite openly, and we turn a blind eye to that.
Well, what kind of business is that? I hear you asking, and the answer is simple. It is a gambling business.
But back at the bar. The manager gave me a quick run-down... beers here... spirits here... glasses here... till here... this is how you work it... and then fled to manage the joint, leaving me there with my queue. But let me not wax dramatic - there were only three, with combined ages topping 150. And extremely patient, as I struggled with this electronic big-brother monstrosity.
"Clerk not signed on!" the screen would scream at me. "Insufficient tender!!" it falsely accused, as I blindly guessed which buttons were pounds, and which ones pence. "You didn't press SUBTOTAL!!!" came up often, whenever - in truth - I hadn't pressed SUBTOTAL. And all of this for one 30 pence bingo pen.
Well, I can tell you... ninety minutes passed in a flash, and suddenly the intro music was playing for the start of my calling, while I was still trying to get this woman's lager to stop frothing. Talk about frisky. And talk about being in two places at once.
"What did you think of the BAR SERVICE?" I asked over the mike after I ran to my more accustomed position. "RUBBISH!" they called back, good-naturedly. "Did I remind you of TOM CRUISE?" I acted back at them. "Mair like BET LYNCH!" was one reply I couldn't help hearing. In these little ways do our lives pass more pleasantly.
Explore my Internet, big boy
Windows Update has gone critical for me over Internet Explorer 5.5 Service Pack2. But when I look around, there's a bewildering array of choices. Spoiled for choice. There's MSIE6. There's MSIE5.5 SP2, mentioned above. There's also MSIE5.1 SP2. All free!! Buy now!!! So which to choose? Remember at present I'm on MSIE 5.0 which works jest fine.
I hesitate to mention such techie stuff in this, my personal and emotional journal. But of course, without Windows there would be no Naked Blog. And I know some of you sad bastards actually care about these things. (Only joking kids! Heavens, if we can't relax and have a wee banter after all this time... )
I hope none of you SB's have any sort of heart condition, for I'm just about to recommend some TV. British TV at that. Last night, while waiting for Groundhog Day to start, what should I chance upon but 2DTV. It's basically a cartoon version of Spitting Image, and seems pretty sharp. Channel 3, at 10 pm Saturdays - which, now I recall - was just about the Spitting Image slot.
My overseas readers won't have a dinkies what I'm chamoising on about. [Sorry - dinky-doo = clue. Chamois leather = blether. Get with it... Britain is the in place to be these days! Third-world enough to be foreign, yet we speak English. And Punjabi. And Urdu. And - oh I could go on all day.]
Spitting Image was a ground-breaking political and social satire, enacted with puppets. It ran for about ten years, and at times seemed the only antidote to the tyranny of Mrs.Thatcher. This 2DTV seems a reasonable runt of such - and it's got more nominations than Cher.
Out and About
Two very different offerings today. Firstly Memetic Life. Terrific style, and carefully-selected content. (But I would like to read some of the guy/gal's own stuff!) Normally I like my television pictures to move about, and my web pages to keep still. But here you're not quite sure whether you're viewing a webpage or playing Doom. I like it.
Next is The Brains Trust, a fortnightly compendium of news satires of the kind we do so well here at NB. I did consider sending in a few gems, but when I read that you relinquish copyright in perpetuity then I lost interest. First British Serial Rights is more our thang. And money.
Search Me, Guv
Last night was a search for Vitamin C adult porn sites. A couple of weeks ago we had Vitamin C naked. Is there something about Vitamin C which I don't fully understand? Me, I buy the Boots' own version, 1 gramme effervescent, and it's the only remedy I ever take. Well, that and Folic Acid, which is supposed to nourish your neurones. Clue me in, dudes. Surely they're not doing that with it???
I'm writing today's missive to the background noise of a creature running and scrambling above my kitchen ceiling, which takes us nicely back to the very first entry here... (There are many, many more food containers scattered about now.) A year of writing to you has reduced my home to a garbage bin, and it's totally your fault. I love you more than hygiene itself.
An occasional feature devoted to what's wrong with the world. But let's start with what's right. South Park was as good as ever last night, its main theme being the addiction of kids to video games.
"Real life seems so dull and boring after the Okawa GameSphere," (Cartman)
Needless to say, Microsoft didn't take that lying down, and jumped in at the end of the show with an ad for the XBox. And here at NB we sometimes hanker after spending a little of our hard-earned dosh on a nice new PS2.
But so far it's not been done, as like the makers of Southie, we recognise the dangers of social withdrawal. And middle-age is no safeguard.
But the main medium which damages our young is not the videogame, but television. I could rattle on for hours about its evils, but you've probably thought of most of them already. If it's not pushing blandness and banality (pop, soaps), then it's operating in its other mode, which is to make you feel bad. (News, crime shows.) Take last night's prime time...
BBC 1 8.00 Death by DIY Including a man who lost his hand when his jumper got caught in a bench saw!!
9.00 Shops, Robbers and Videotape Occasional series on the police fight against shoplifters and muggers.
10.00 News The whole world's problems beamed straight into your home!! We defy you not to get upset!!
BBC 2 9.00 Horizon Prove beyond doubt whether James Hanratty who was hanged in 1962 was guilty of murder or not!!
9.50 Crime Kids Tonight, X and Y, who as 11 year-olds in the early nineties were Britain's worst offenders!! Get tips you'd never thought of!! Terrorise your neighbours bigtime!
ITV 8.00 The Bill Dumb Brit cop soap. Giro fraud.
9.00 Bad Girls Drama series. A grisly discovery.
10.00 News Coming up after the break! More murders, wars, corrupt and incompetent politicians!!
So there you were. The three principal channels showing nothing but murder, accident, juvenile delinquency, terrorism, war, fraud, immorality and other assorted crimes and misdemeanours. Missing for once were Channel 5's live US cop heists, (yes - we get them here as well, for the dumbclucks), Crimewatch with its "dramatic reconstructions", and so on.
Caring, compassionate, hopeful society? Used to be. And still could have been, had we not let these people get their hands on it.
ROYALTY IN CRISIS!
BLAIR RECALLS PARLIAMENT!!!
By Our Royal Correspondent, Johnny Bend
Last night Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, made this announcement to a packed and hushed house.
"First let me thank you for turning up like this, when I know you've all got better things to do than listen to me droning on. People often come up to me and say, 'Ere guvna - wot appened to all those bleedin promises you made in them larst two elections?' And then I always say to them, "Yes, I know we promised that things would get better, and yes I agree they've all got worse. But that's the nature of the world, isn't it? How many governments would ever get elected if they didn't promise the earth, the moon, and the bloody stars? It's our duty. Otherwise there would be no democracy as we know it, and we'd be no better than an axis of evil."
There was an interruption then, as one by one the Members became aware that David Blunkett's guide dog Cherry had done a shit on the carpet. Much tutting and froing as the Master of the Hounds cleaned it up, while simultaneously flashing his box of Dettol Antiseptic Wipes at the Commons cameras.
When order was restored (ORDA!! ORDA!!!) the PM continued. "Let me give you an example of our incompetence," he began, his sparkly white teeth (Clinomyn removes even STUBBORN STAINS) belying the rather sad condition of his face and hair these days. "Take the Jubilee. Now any government in their right minds would have held the Jubilee in 2003, the 50th Anniversary of Betty's Coronation. But not this one - oh no - we started a whole year EARLY, in 2002."
"Here, here!!" was the cry from the Tory benches. "Can't have too much Jubilee - it's what makes Britain Great, you know." Then Ann (nuclear) Winterton started shouting, "Fortuyn was right - send the damn wogs back home..." but she was removed by a dykeish security guard, wearing a dazzling new uniform from the MATALAN catalogue.
"So let me say this to you," Tone continued. "Even some of the web's finest commentators have been completely thrown by this Jubilee cock-up, and have started their Coronation columns a whole year early. Take Naked Blog, one of the wittiest and most intelligent columnists I've had the pleasure of reading. Poor chap has totally fucked up, if you'll excuse my French, what, what..."
Just then his mobile went off. "Sorry folks," he said after listening for a moment, his once-youthful face contorted into a distressingly gargoyle-like frown. "That was Cherie. She says she can't wait any longer or she'll miss the start of the Bingo. My pizza's in the microwave, and I really have to go now, in case Euan hits the drinks cabinet again. I don't know... who would be a parent these days? They should do something about it..."
And at that the Commons dispersed, but not before Blunkett managed a visually-impaired yet accurate kick at Cherry.
And back in Sunny Leith...
The PM was right. I really did imagine the Coronation was next month, and I've started my reminiscences thirteen months too soon. What to do? Five-year-old Peter seems to be quite a hit. We're - as ever - open to suggestions...
May 15th, 1952 Coronation Countdown, from one who was there.
At school today Miss Bennett was telling us about the Coronation next month. She said the Queen is the richest woman in the world, even though she's only young like my mam. She's going to wear the most expensive dress in the world, covered in jewels. And a long purple robe that takes six girls to lift it off the ground and stop it getting dirty.
Plus she's going to put on a big heavy CROWN, which is the most expensive one in the world. Miss Bennett went to the cupboard and brought out a crown. I was that excited, but she said it wasn't the real one, just a model. Then she said we were all going to make a crown ourselves. She gave us yellow card for the gold parts and purple paper for the cloth parts. Then she gave us bits of coloured paper to cut out for the jewels. Everybody got different colours but she said it didn't matter. Me and Norman Ryan were making a crown together and it took all of the morning.
When it was dinner time we had to put our crowns in a line to look at, but ours wasn't very much like the real one. The best ones were made by girls and I didn't understand that. I'm the best reader in my class. And speller. And best at sums. Miss Bennett always praises me. She says if everybody was as clever as Peter her job would be a lot easier. I like it when she says that. Plus it makes my mam nice to me for a bit.
Most of the kids in my class have got brothers and sisters but I haven't got one. Sometimes I dream about having a little brother. Don't think I would want a sister though. I've got two cousins in my street called Margaret and John. Margaret is 12 and John is 7. John sometimes bullies me and me mam gets mad and goes to his house and shouts at Auntie Jean. They live at number 50 in a house on top of a factory. Nana and Grandad live at number 46 which is next to my grandad's furniture shop. I like playing in the shop and it's got a funny smell. It's that big you can run races in it. We live in number 48 in a house on top of the shop, but me mam says we need a proper house. Also I've got 4 cousins in Nottingham called Dorothy, May, Billy and Malcolm. Billy and Malcolm are twins and that means they look exactly the same.
Nottingham is in the south which means they talk funny and they've had television for a long time. It takes a whole day on the bus to get there. Here they had to build a special television mast in time for the Coronation. It's called Pontop Pike. Everybody's always talking about Pontop Pike, and last night my dad drove grandad and me to see it. I was a bit disappointed cos I thought you would see the television pictures coming out of it. But it was just black with big flashing lights on it, high in the air. That's to stop aeroplanes hitting it, my dad said. I asked dad where the pictures were and he said you couldn't see them without an aerial.
Suddenly the dark sky went a bright red colour and I was scared. That's Consett Ironworks, my grandad told me. He said it was the biggest one in the world and I was proud. When we got home I got put straight to bed cos there was a frightening programme on. It was called 1984 and there was Big Brother in it. Everybody's been talking about Big Brother this week but I don't understand it. Lots of kids have got big brothers.
Tomorrow Mam and Nana are going to put the Coronation flags out.
Yes, it's true folks! There I was yesterday, leafing through Blogdex, to see if anyone had been mad enough to link to us lately, (haven't been any for a while... we must be becoming unfashionable), when what should I spot but the BBC Test The Nation site. This was one branch of a mega-test they conducted on Saturday evening, while I was being heckled by drunken fishwives. (Below.)
Yet the blog-silence on this has been uncommonly deafening. Personality Tests abound... "Which testicle are you?" and even "How gay are you/your pet?" These litter the cyberwaves like last week's doggie poo. But IQ? Obviously not. Too threatening you see. Might not do very well. And then what would people think? (Challenging little cow, ain't I? Hehe.)
However, Naked Blog, unencumbered by the slightest notion of either of the above, (you should see my home), trotted along to the BBC site. And we scored 145. And it only takes 130 to put you in the top 2 percent.
So - why aren't you out celebrating? I can hear you ask. And the answer is simple. It's what I fully expected. Having graduated from the most Ivy of Ivy-League scientific universities, a figure of 145 would then, back in the sixties, have been a social disgrace. We all proudly owned copies of "Know Your Own IQ", by somebody or other, and would self-test on a regular basis. And all to the pounding beat of "Mother's Little Helper", or some such. (It's on Aftermath, btw Jeeem. I've still got an original copy on vinyl.)
"I'm 168 today," we would announce, as neuronal as we were hormonal. "Oh, is that all?" a friend would gaily riposte. "I topped 171 just last week." And so we played. And then Dusty would come on.
Ed: Cut out the nostalgia crap, willya? Just because you didn't register as mental defective, it's all gone totally to your head.
NB: Hah! I notice no results coming from your direction. Dude.
So - on balance, I'm pretty pleased. It could have been much worse. And what has cost me those 25-ish points? Is it just the years? Well, not really, as the tests are age-adjusted. No - the intelligence (and memory) killers are quite familiar substances, alcohol, amphetamine, and of course - most of all - cannabis.
Nowadays, our consumptions of the above three are moderate, zero and zero. (With ocassional exceptions for emotional crises!) But it wasn't always so, particularly in the naughty nineties. You pays yer money, and you fucks yer brain.
Anyway - I'm off for a walk. Intelligence might be fine to wear as a token, but it never put food on anyone's plate, or friendship in their heart.
PS Don't try this test at work, unlike a couple of commenters in the box below. It takes upwards of half an hour, against timers with no pause facility, and is in places quite "testing". At home, phone off, and sober!
SEARCH ME GUV!
But just before I leave you, here are a few gems from yesterday's search logs, chosen for their intelligence and creativity. Prurient content is omitted, unless it makes me smile. It's clear that my searchers are (a) horny, and (b) probably quite young.
what shampoo does Lisa Kudrow use
pic of john major shagging margaret thatcher
people who hate donny osmond
spacemen having gay sex pictures
pictures of womens naked human body
horny prevert (sic) ladies archives
extreme granny porn
cheer leading NAKED
Hot smelly breath of naked truth
horny housewives nb canada
That nb canada really killed me! And notice the poetry in the one just above it! Why o why are we called Naked Blog, with initials NB?
Not a great deal today, as I'm a bit tired after a not-totally successful weekend's work. Saturday night (at the bingo), ended up in a screaming match over the microphone at a bunch of drunk women in the balcony shouting, "Will ye no SLOW DOON!!"
And me shouting back, "No - if I go any slower we'll be GOING BACKWARDS!" And queueing for the ALL-NIGHT BUSES!! It's the drink, you see. Can't mark your book properly after a dozen Carlsberg Specials. Drinking and Dabbing Don't Mix. And I detest drunkenness, both in myself and others.
Then of course the rest joined in, shouting at them to shut up, and me to get on with it, and there we were, sequins trembling, in the middle of a bingo hurricane. But the manager went up to them, and some largeish staff, and their might plus my amplifier stack prevailed. Talk about stress. It sets in later, of course, and they can hear it in your voice, unless you're very, very controlled indeed. Or meditated. Between the two we carried the day.
But oh my God, what are we reduced to?
Out and about with the purpose of life.
Last Thursday's meditation (Just Sitting) on the meaning of our existence, brought quite a response, both here and on other boards. Yet, there really was nothing original in it. Thanks again to those who commented and linked, but let me point you particularly to Zebulon Mysterioso, who develops and expands the theme, offering some planetary bliss amongst the shuffle. Josh also wrote about loss of faith being akin to some death of the mind, but it's gone now.
If you were to include evolution mediated by machine, however, then our lives are very far from blank. What do I mean by that? Well - the very thing you're doing right now. The growth of the internet - via the runts of email and chatrooms - to the present-day blog represents the highest level of shared human consciousness so far available. We don't just write to each other - we in a very strange sense become part of each other. Ask anyone who's ever met a long-time fellow blogger, if you don't believe me. And long-time in this context means one year. Just imagine, if you can, ten years of community blogging. And tell me then that consciousness isn't changing.
When Jeeem of Jimsjournal writes about his late mother's tranquilliser use, he doesn't just write about that woman. He writes too about my mother, and so many millions of others. Yes, these articles are available in print, but how rarely? In blogland you feel a chord almost every day. Even Julie Burchill is so far off the boil these days she's becoming Antarctic. And at best she was only ever weekly. And never interactive.
Our own views on prescribed mood-alterers are of frequent record. The drug multi-nationals are the Barons, the doctors the pushers, and women their principal victims. The whole shebang, since Librium in the early sixties, has been nothing less than global misogyny. They fried my own mother's brain too, and for that I detest and abhor them.
Doctors, on balance, make you worse. (Well, what the hell would they do if everybody got better? Think about it.)
Gotcha!! Just when you thought it had all faded away, it's BACK! And BIGGER and BADDER than EVER!!
Chapter Five, by Jeeem, is here. Plus you can catch up on the previous chapters at the same site. This one is better than 24! Anybody know how much Kiefer Sutherland charges?
Chickweed!! How's yer bum for lovebites? How's yer fanny for blisters?? Just when you thought modern medicine had it all sewn up, along comes a paradigm-shift in your health-thinking.
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GOOD FOR ALL SKIN DISORDERS
All Natural Salve, Made by Cold Infusion
Ingredients: Chickweed, Comfrey, Mint, Olive Oil, Beeswax, Lavender, Rosemary and Eucalyptus.
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I tried your Chickweed Healing Salve, putting it on that night. By the next morning she was much better. After using it for 2 days, she was completely cured. She is now a beautiful baby. She doesn't cry anymore.
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PS. Naked Blog has not tested this astonishing remedy, so can give no endorsement of its wonderful properties. However, having pirated their lovely email, I felt I should at least give you the means to place an order, should you wish. Note that in the UK it's illegal to advertise any cure for cancer, so NB emphatically isn't doing that.
Found myself playing chess yesterday. For real. With an e*ght-year-old.
Now, before you all get thinking NB has become so disillusioned with adults that we've resorted to hanging around parks, jumping out from behind trees and hissing, "Hey kid - wanna play some chess?", let me tell you it was nothing like that. Rather my opponent was C, the grandson of Mary, my pub landlady.
Something of a pub veteran already, the lad munches crisps/chips, drinks his orange juice, and is profoundly bored if no other kids are present. Except for chess.
It was our second game. The first one, some weeks ago, had been a walkover for him, on account of me being a bit drunk. But yesterday I resolved to do better. However, I hadn't reckoned without a killer combination of good chessplay, combined with even better gamesmanship. Machiavelli got nothing on this kid.
First he lets me get one pawn ahead. (False confidence.) Then he makes a couple of cute moves, putting me at a disadvantage. While I'm trying to ponder my way out of that one, he variously sucks hard on his lollipop, jumps up and down, darts his hand excitedly all over the board, talks nonstop, and then - as a last resort - falls completely off his stool.
And of course I wasn't allowed to resign. Even when he had two queens and a bishop against my solitary king, we had to progress move by merciless move to the bitter end. Ah well. You're only young once.
Then later it was bridge, this time all-adult. Mary, Tony the Hat, Anil and me. That's three continents, btw. Talk about cosmopolitan. Tony and I lost resoundingly, although I have to say that Anil took so long over his plays that I was tending to fall asleep. "Anyone want anything from the shops while Anil's thinking?" I said at one point, waspishly. Talk about one extreme to the other.
Two more for you today, this time more globally-famous, for my valued overseas reader(s).
LARGE FAT NOISE
VARIANT RIVAL TO A MAN
Answers to yesterday's are in a comment box, courtesy of alan. Today the only clue is female. The rest is contained in the text.
May 10th, 1952
Today at school we got a film. It was about Africa, where negroes live, Miss Bennett said. Negroes are very poor, but they're quite happy because it's always sunny, she said.
I've seen two films before, at Christmas. My Sunday School showed us Laurel and Hardy and Donald Duck in the church hall. All the kids were laughing, but I didn't think it was very funny. Plus I couldn't understand even one word of it. Miss Bennett's Africa film didn't have any talking, but you could see the negro kids trying to talk. When I asked her she got cross and said not everybody could afford a television.
I've never seen a negro, but Mary Brown in my class saw one in Newcastle. He got on the bus, and Mary was terrified. She said everybody stopped talking and looked at him. Hope I never see one cos I would be really scared.
In my street live Catholics, who go to the Catholic school. Mam says I haven't to play with them, and NEVER go into their houses. She says they worship an old man in Italy and they have large families. Dad agreed with her and said negroes and Catholics are not all bad people, but you just shouldn't mix with them. Dad calls negroes blackies.
So I asked mam what Italy was, and she said they were as bad as the Germans. She said some Eye-Ties were in the village, but they changed their name during the war. I never knew you could change your name. Then I asked her who I worshipped and she said the proper God. She said I was Church of England.
In my village is a German woman called Mrs Jones. I saw her once and just stared at her but she looked pretty. I asked me mam why she wasn't in prison or killed, and mam said the war was finished now. A man had married her in Germany and they'd moved here. Men are funny, me mam said, and I have to keep away from them. And NEVER get in a car with a man I didn't know or she would kill me.
[Today's post is a tedious monologue about the pointlessness of life, and due to its depressing nature should not be read by anyone. So many vampires have their fangs in me that soon there'll be nothing left.]
Morning blogfans! Another grey day here in downtown Leith - home of nothing you would want to take home to mummy. And of course it's Thursday - the fourth out of four of my "days off". The time to be me. The time to do something with my life.
How many times have I counselled younger friends who say... "I'm just not achieving anything!" with the wise old words, "You wake in the morning, and your sole requirement is to remain alive until bedtime."
On a genetic level, I'm sure that's true - well, perhaps with a bit of breeding thrown in during the afternoon. But on the personal level, sometimes even I get to thinking... "Is that all there is?" as the song once said. Let me give you a for example...
My life is absolutely peppered with "has-beens" and "never-were's". I know so few people who live any kind of productive, achieving life, that they are statistically insignificant. The failures find each other. It's the Universal Theory of Gravitation. Almost everyone I know is deeply and profoundly flawed. And unhappy.
And yet, and yet... the existence I describe above, remaining alive until you die (with some breeding thrown in), seems to suffice for our animal cousins - yet we humans always seek more. Demand what? What exactly has our evolution to human consciousness ever given the species?
Alone among creatures, we carry the horrific knowledge that we will die. This colours our entire lives, and in previous years was mediated by the supernatural offer of life everlasting. Even with dancing houris, in some branches of the myth. Most of us now have rejected this idea as probably false, and accept that eventually we will cease to be. No matter how elaborate our castles in the sand, some day that wave will come. "There's no pockets in a shroud," as my bingo ladies are fond of saying.
Then what to do, how to live, until the final wave washes it away? Many take refuge in drugs, principally alcohol. By numbing their thoughts on a daily basis, the reality is consigned and postponed to their sweaty shaky nightmares. Yesterday I found myself in the company of two such men, A and B.
"Aye - yer only 42... ye should be doing something with your life," A was entreating B. "No point for me though, I'm nearly 60," he declared, triumphantly. B sat taking it, while I tried to watch the telly above their heads. "Am I boring you?" A said next, to me, inclusively. "Yes," I replied. "Yes you are. In how many bars are how many men saying to how many other men that they could be doing better? It's such a cliché."
Heavy drinkers operate as a pack, with the sole aim of ensnaring others. They want you to join them, so then you can never criticise. The horror of yesterday was that I found myself enjoying their company. This will never do. Intoxication is boring beyond belief. Tick, done it, got the t-shirt.
"Never try and keep up with the Joneses. Rather, you should drag the Joneses down to your level." (Quentin Crisp.)
But on to lighter matters!! Most NB readers are still at the younger, castle-building stages of their lives, and hardly need a wrinkled old has-been prattling on. The occasional feature where I pretend to be five, rather than fifty-five, is good fun, and leads naturally to the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth next month. (June 6 1952, was it?) I'll do it now and again, as in truth the memories are insufficient to run a daily column. Plus I'm not sure if anybody even gives a shit. Yawn, yawn.
Ed: Then just make it up, like you do all the time anyway.
NB: I wish to hell I was making you up, asshole.
Ed: Just because you discussed it with Geek and HoBiscuit doesn't change anything you know. This column is as false as a prostitute's moans.
NB: You know, I truly, madly, deeply hate you. Plus you don't even drink.
Answers as promised... VAGINA DILDO is of course David Ginola, who I think is a footballer. O DEAR, I'M A GONAD is another footballer - perhaps more globally famous - Diego Maradona.
Today's batch were kindly supplied by Darren, on a theme of mucus.
Today at school Miss Bennett made me stand in front of the class and tell them about the new television. I am the only person in the class that's got one. It's got two knobs on the front, one called volume and one called brilliance. The volume knob turns it on and off. After you turn it on you have to wait five minutes till it warms up. Then the picture comes on. It's VERY BAD to turn the volume up till the picture comes on. That can break the valves.
Me mam says it's a twelve inch tube. That's big, she says. Some people have just got a nine inch tube. It cost seventy-three pounds which is more money than I ever heard of before. If the tube goes that's very expensive to get it fixed. Yesterday I saw Childrens Television which was an old woman playing the piano and singing. Well, more like screeching. Miss Bennett is a better singer. While she was singing, a horse puppet was dancing on top of the piano but it was stupid and you could see all the strings. Me mam said it was Muffin the Mule and me dad laughed.
You have to get a thing called Radio Times to find out what's on the television which is stupid as well. Everybody on the television talks really, really funny and they all got funny names. Plus they smoke even more cigarettes than me mam and me dad. Me Nana says it'll never catch on. After the Coronation that'll be the end of it she says. But me mam shouted at her and called her old-fashioned.
A man came to the door with the flags for the Coronation.
Last night in the pub was fun. Rex was there, Sandra my personal manager, Big Straight Al, and also Robin (don't call me gay, I'm bisexual). But Robin was studiously ignoring me. He was in the huff - annoyed at a story I wrote about him below. (Lust in the Rust, May02)
However, (beam me up) Scottie, our resident ship's engineer, had forewarned me of this by email, so of course I was forearmed.
"Robin," I said to him. "Have ye got a wee second, pal? I hear you weren't too happy about a story on Naked Blog last week."
"That's right, Peter," he agreed. "Totally unacceptable, and I'd like you to write an apology."
Woah, I thought, m'dear. We're not exactly in the Elton John and The Sun categories. (Elton was the sometime author of one of my favourite quotes... "They can say anything they like about me, but they musn't tell lies.")
"It's OK, Robin," I soothed him. "I'm deeply sorry, and I've removed all trace of you from NB - then, now, and for ever and ever. From this day forth you'll be known as Andy. Let me get you a pint."
"But it's too late!" he declared, eagerly accepting his beverage consolation. "Everybody's already read it. Even Sandra was telling me about it... "I saw you and Scott had a good time the other night... nudge, nudge," La Divine had said to him.
So I pulled him to me, for a hug. I even let his heavily-ringed earlobe press into my protesting cheek. "Robin," I grunted, with as much sincerity as I could fake, "I would never write anything to hurt you - you know that."
Rex, meanwhile, who had also gained a pint from my apologetic largesse, was loving every minute of this. Situations are so much safer when they're semi-public, doncha think?
But then Robin withdrew, staring at me with a wild look in his limpid blue eyes. "I don't like the name Andy!" he half-shouted. "Then who would you like to be, sweetness?" I offered. Robin stared long and hard at his drink, his near-fortyish brow furrowing with unaccustomed concentration...
"Belisha!" he announced, to a stunned audience.
NAKED NAME GAME
So many of you (two) seemed to enjoy our recent Mensa quiz, that I've decided to offer yet more teasers to titillate and tantalise this week. Re-arrange these expressions into a well-known personality.
KEN THE OLD BAG becomes THE NAKED BLOG
Try these two...
O DEAR, I'M A GONAD
Answers tomorrow, as usual. Or you can put them in the comment box. Tony my IT manager is simply not eligible for this quiz, as he gave me the answers.
Open Door - The Readers' Editor
Now might be a good time to acknowledge the great debt that NB owes to our circle of friends and acquaintances, without whom there would simply be no Naked Blog. Our editorial policies are, we hope, both fair and easy-to-understand.
Private conversations are never reported. Things said and done in public however, are open to comment, but still with the over-arching requirement never to cause hurt or offence. These people are not publicity-seeking celebs or politicos, but rather ordinary men and women going about their lives. Naked Blog exists to show that even in the ordinary, there is the constant presence of the extraordinary. For that I thank you all.
If ever you feel we have overstepped the mark, in any way, then you have a hot-line to the editor at this address: email@example.com
In fact, it is the good nature of the players, together with your own unending support, that have pushed us into one of the top 125k websites in the world. (Info courtesy mike at troubled diva.)
MAY 7th, 1952
Today at school we got painting. My teacher is called Miss Bennett and she's very beautiful. She wears high-heeled shoes and lipstick. I love her. She gave us some big sheets of paper and told us to paint the Union Jack. While we did that she stuck a big picture of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on the wall. The Queen is very beautiful. Miss Bennet said that next month is the Coronation and we all get a day's holiday. I was happy about that but then Norman Ryan knocked his water over my painting on purpose and the paint all ran. I thought Miss Bennett would shout at me and I nearly started to cry. When I got home the telly had come.
"You'll never build up a fan-club unless you give them clairt!" Stuart declared. We were sitting in the Northern Bar, at Canonmills, desperately trying to enjoy a cooling pint sans some ridiculous football game or other. It seemed to be on TV in every pub we passed. Now, the noise of footie on the telly is bad enough, but add to that about forty grown men shouting and roaring at a television and you have a situation none-too-appealing to the more refined ear.
Not that Stuart is refined, of course, as this tale will later show. I'd been telling him about the mini BlogCon with Geek and HoBiscuit just the day before. (Post below.) Me, I was quietly pleased with the way the evening had gone. I'd turned up, met and enjoyed the company of these two young Noo Yoikers, and things had come to a pleasant and utterly civilised end at about 11.30pm - well past my bedtime, but it was worth it.
"Now, what on earth is clairt?" I can hear many of you asking. And why should a fan-club depend on it so much? Well, "clairt" is a term with two meanings. Strictly it means mud, ooze, the sort of black stuff you try not to step in when walking in wet fields. The English would say "clart".
But it has another, perhaps even more important usage as "moral turpitude - sex, drugs, porn..." that sort of thing. (I say more important usage, as most people these days come across porn more often than they do wet fields. It's that indoor, pale-faced life we all seem to lead these days. Sitting in front of the monitor, developing diabetes as we dally.)
"But I don't want a fan-club," I replied, slightly lamely, to my friend. "Oh yes you do," he retorted. "I know you better than you know yourself." (At this juncture I should point out that unlike Ed, my fictional alter ego in the blog stories, Stuart does actually exist. "And you have to incorporate clairt."
Stuart, a witch, is intensely charismatic, and one of the strongest personalities I know. Sometimes in his company it's like a fight to the very death to preserve my own integrity. He is the pen, while I am just the blotter. It's frightening, but exhilarating when we draw. I never win.
"Explain yourself, man!" I demanded. "Look," he began. "Sometimes you can't see what's right in front of you. Do you really think these people went to all that trouble just to meet YOU?" Silence, while I waited for more punishment. "They'll go home and talk about this, you know. They'll say, 'And we weren't even allowed to meet the cast. All we got was him bleating on about blogs and Guardian journalists.'"
Oh dear, I thought, remembering Geek asking about Andy (don't call me gay, I'm bisexual). What if there was just a grain of truth in what my friend, old with the wisdom of the aeons, was saying? And more was to come. Stuart has an unendable supply of chat. He reads the cards, you know. Makes quite a living.
"I bet they were gaggin on a clairty threesome!" Stu announced next. "But that's ridiculous!!" I exploded. "I'm old enough to be their..."
"Yes, YOU are," Stuart interjected. "But not everybody is. You could have brought them to my flat - that would have been a night to remember." I should point out here that one of Stuart's witch-specialities is sexual magic. With it he can ensnare handsome, younger, formerly straight men to service his gaping needs. And by now I was reduced to a horrified, regretful, shrunken heap.
"Yeah - I can see it all," Stu pressed on. "Bottle of ecstasy, few lines of coke..." I fled then, back to the sun and the afternoon light. The trees in their full, healthy, new green, and the swans squatting dutifully on their developing eggs. Why am I so stupid? When will I ever learn?
Well, NB-fans. Just woke after a delightful evening yesterday with Geek and HoBiscuit. And how charming and lovely they both were. And young. But bloggiquette demands we draw a curtain over things. Or does it?
For I sense - know really - that you're all dying to learn more, as I had built this up into quite a thing. Would I even turn up, or - relapsing into unseasonal depression - simply go to bed instead? What is it really like - meeting someone you've read at such length? And vice versa. All those revelations... are they now to be regretted and withdrawn? When cyberspace elides into meatspace how do the all-too-human participants cope? We've come a long way from the engraved card on the silver tray, you know. "A Mr Geek to see you, madam. Shall I show him in?"
We started in the Port o Leith Bar, at GM's request. Between Naked Blog and the Naked Novel, that joint is now firmly on the literary map. What Mr Welsh omitted, we have included. Geek had suggested the NB cast should be there, but in truth I didn't encourage anyone. Any sort of crowd at all and I fade to black, unable and unwilling to compete. I wanted them to myself. My questions to be answered. My opinions to be heard.
Scott was in attendance, and cyberslut, and of course Mary the landlady, but that was about it. No IT manager, personal manager, resident theologian, or even don't call me gay I'm bisexual. (The last one getting a special request, as it turned out.)
As the volume (of music) increased, I suggested looking elsewhere, and we ended up in The Shore, where the levels were quieter. Have I told you how much I detest music in pubs? I should have. It is one of mankind's most horrific inventions. But anyway, there, in that bar, we swapped tales and blogstories - my place and their place. Talking about my generation. And theirs. "How do you feel, meeting us?" Geek asked. "Quite fatherly," I replied.
So - would I do it again... meet NB readers? Possibly. But I sense the Quentin times are coming sooner than expected, and last night a velvet smoking jacket and silk cravat would not have been out of place at all. Grand old queen must be the way to go, yet my hair remains resolutely brown. Do they sell silver hair-dye? Give a whole new meaning to getting yer roots done.
Thanks to GM and HB for such a lovely couple of hours. And for those charming gifts, which I will display with pleasure. Are all Americans as nice as you two? Or did I just hit it lucky?
The Mathematics of Sex
1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to have sex. (But make it less than ten. This is a mathematical constraint, not moral.)
2. Multiply this number by 2 (Just to be more realistic.)
3. Add 5. (For Sunday)
4. Multiply it by 50 (I'll wait while you get the calculator)
5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1752.... If you haven't, add 1751 ..........
6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born. You should have a three digit number ....
Strange and vivid dream this early am. My doorbell rang. This always induces anxiety. Fortunately it's a very rare thing indeed - perhaps three times a year. And when I peeped through the spyhole, I saw to my horror about eight people lined up along the landing. Men and women, wearing evening dress - laughing, joking, looking eagerly at the door. And the one at the front looked so very much like Peter Mandelson, a twice-sacked government minister. Bringing up the rear of the line was a smiling black man in a waiter's white shirt, holding a tray with two champagne glasses.
"What do you want?" I shouted through the still-closed door at Mr Mandelson. "Customer research," he replied. "No - I don't want any!" I told him, and slunk silently away, praying that they would leave without any fuss. Shortly after that I woke to the lingering thought, "It's my door, and I'll let in who I want, preferably nobody." Strange or what?
Mensa Test - the final front ear
Q29. 64 S on a C B
Q30. 9 P in S A
Q31. 6 B to an O in C
Q32. 1000 Y in a M
Q33. 15 M on a D M C
Go alan! Go tony!
Overheard at the bar. Man talk.
"I only vacuum once every three months," said Andy (don't call me gay, I'm bisexual).
"Oh - I only do it once a year," replied Scott, victoriously, for now.
"I can't find my vacuum under the mess," I concluded, with finesse. Checkmate.
Isn't it gruesome? Sunny Delight, I mean. And now in four yuckky colours, and freely advertised on TV, directly to children. The ultimate ch*ld-ab*se. And so, so legal in our Capitalist, money-grabbing society, where nothing matters at all except the bottom line and the shareholders' pockets.
"What on earth brought that on?" I hear you asking. And the answer is nothing at all. I just felt like it. It's a sunny day, a delight, and I'm off for a ramble soon as.
Did you know that here in the UK there's a thing called the British Nutrition Foundation, which is a bunch of scientists in the pay of the sugar companies? Its sole purpose is to prevent the government from telling the people that sugar rots their teeth, makes them obese, and can easily lead to diabetes.
Well, there - I've said it. Sue me. I never touch the filthy stuff. Or salt.
Glad yesterday and today have some sun at least, as I'm now co-existing in this town with Mighty Geek and his girlfriend ("Honey, I love you") Hobiscuit. I can feel the Geek vibrations all over this land. Tomorrow is "Meet the Geek" day, and I confess I'm terrified. During the night I had an attack of, "I can't go through with it - I'll just not turn up." But now, the daylight comes, and it's a bit better. In America they call it Social Anxiety Disorder, or summat. But those yanks have a name for everything, doncha think?
The most likely scenario is that I'll get so nervous during the day that by evening, when we're (vaguely) supposed to meet, I'll be so drunk that I'll go home in advance rather than revealing myself as the pathetic, weak individual that I truly am. It would be nice to think that wouldn't happen, but after fifty-five years you do get to know yourself a bit. Dearie dear...
Lust in the Rust
Last night in the pub was fun. Scott and Andy (don't call me gay, I'm bisexual) were eyeing each other up for a later love-tryst. Now, normally these two fortyish guys wouldn't give each other a second glance, but last night was different. Scott had just returned from what must have been a very monastic four months at sea, and Andy, after a pint, exists purely to get into the nearest guy's pants. The atmosphere was electric. You could have cut it with an insulated knife.
"How bitchy!" I can hear you saying. But no - he loves it. It's his raison d'être. (That's French - a language of which more will be said later, apropos ( that's Latin) our live chat on Sunday.) We're waxing polyglottal. Making up for lost time, Andy always says.
Unfortunately, we found ourself sitting between the lovebirds at the bar - fat, fifty, unloved and uninvited. "I'll make the video!" I offered. But then, on reflection, I doubt if it would sell many.
Babs the South Park chef said the place was full of penis-wielding oppressors. Maggie the barmaid said she'd never run away from one in her life.
Eeh bah gum. (That's Yorkshire.) We don't have much money, but we do see life.
Out and About in Literary Land
My friend and co-author Stacy writes to plug her latest involvement, Banshee Studios writers' forum Beltane (that's pagan) edition. Lots of stories, essays, poetry etc. And are those cannabis leaves on the front cover? I think we should be told.
Mensa Test... the penultimate five.
Q24. 13 L in a B D
Q25. 52 W in a Y
Q26. 9 L of a C
Q27. 60 M in a H
Q28. 23 P of C in the H B
Final instalment tomorrow! Alan is already a genius!
Clock our new Tagboard to your left, and be sure to leave a message. (Thks to Troubled Diva. I tried to wait a discreet 24 hours, so as not to appear to be copying, but couldn't.) It has to be said, in fairness, that TD has occasionally gleaned inspiration from our own pathetic scribbles.
Out and about in the four corners
A wet and wintry welcome back to my good friend Scott, just returned from Oz, via everywhere. You can read his adventures at the above link, and experience the modern-day life of a ship's engineer called Scottie. (For real.)
In the previous 4.5 months, Scott has mastered the modern-day art of writing a blog when nothing at all has happened. He will go far. Always does, in fact.
Josh is on incandescent form right now. Be sure to check in daily, as they only last 24 hours. And there's no look-back, in anger or otherwise.
Alan (cyberpumpkin), Peter (secret kings), and a few others will be sidebarred as soon as I get round to it. Installing that Tagboard has quite exhausted me, and my sleep is all over the place now that it's almost always light. Feels quite trippy to be honest. Don't know whether to have a nap or go out and freak.
Mensa Test!! - The next four. (Don't worry, there are only 33 in total.)
Q20. 8 T on a O
Q21. 29 D in F in a L Y
Q22. 27 B in the N T
Q23. 365 D in a Y
(These are SO easy, I'm embarrassed. Except maybe Q20.)