Naked Blog

More famous than Susan Boyle!


Wednesday, July 31, 2002

LONGUEUR

Yesterday was walk and talk. Well, talk to myself, at least. Some folk call that thinking. City walk, not rivers this time. What does happen if you go all the way along Comely Bank? Answer: you come to a fuck-off big Safeway, lovingly fashioned in grey and red corrugated iron. So out-of-keeping with traditional urban housing that it's almost a joke! Bet a lot of brown paper bags went the way of the Planning Department for that one.

Brown paper bag: expression meaning illicit or unauthorised payment. It's widely thought that because there appear to be no planning restrictions here whatsoever, that much bribery has taken place.

Just across from Safeway is the Flora Stevenson School, the one where they filmed The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. (That glorious Maggie Smith version from the sixties.) Then, turning right at the Comely Bank roundabout, we come to Crewe Road and soon Fettes College, with its mock-Munich minarets. College is a misnomer here - it's only a high school, but very posh, very private, the alma mater of both Tony Blair and James Bond. (Only one of whom is fictional.)

Further along a bit, and on the other side of the road is the crown of Scotland's National Health Service - the Western General Hospital. It's a sickness mall.



Scottish Health Service Centre said one sign. Medical Research Council, another one. This contractor, that contractor... the only thing missing was a placard saying
Your illness is worth a lot of money to us.
"Patients" crowded the copious bus-stops, puffing on cigarettes to recover from their treatments. I walked on by, thinking I would rather die alone and unloved in a rat and beetle infested hovel than buy into that lot. That is, in fact, what's quite likely to happen. It's just a matter of when. It's the waiting that's so tedious.

ENNUI

Crewe Toll roundabout, and we're pointing straight towards Trainspotting Country. (From Spark to Fleming to Welsh in one afternoon.) So turn right, to preserve what's left of our safety and what little cash we have. Walk, walk, walk. Car, car, car. Who is in all those fucking cars? Where are they going? And why? And when are they going back? It's a mystery. An internal combustion mystery.

Shoe-leather and hours later, Goldenacre looms, and a wee and a half-pint at Spiers Bar. This is the drinking emporium closest to Warriston Crematorium, much used by funeral parties before and after the fact. But today there were none such. Guess the Western General is on a roll.

And then the heavens opened. So close to home, the final lap. Well - not quite home, but at least The Village for a sit-down and a scream. Not gonna happen - for quite some time. I spotted a GP medical centre, small, posh, the other end of the NHS spectrum. It had a covered entranceway, so I ducked in for shelter, and got chatting to a doctor who was doing the same. You could tell he was a doctor by his glasses. It lightninged. It thundered. It poured like the very Atlantic Ocean was up there. We counted the seconds.

LACUNA

Eventually the doctor dude offered me a lift in the still-pouring rain. This was kind, if a bit reckless. Trainspotting country, remember? However, yesterday I chose not to menace him with a knife and steal all his heroin, so we had quite a pleasant chat in the car instead.

To The Village, and Barbara the Chef, and Gordon Rennie the (somewhat) famous SF, comic and game writer. "Is longueur a word?" he asked me, as he sat and wrote his second novel. "Yes," I replied. "But I don't know what it means." I promised I'd buy the first one. After all, he did leave a message on the tag-board here. Then I said I was working class. But he said he didn't believe me.

The supplied link doesn't seem to work. But just type Gordon Rennie in the Search. There's quite an ouevre.



Apologies for my offhand behaviours lately. Also to those I owe emails to. Also to Caitlin and Geek, as I still haven't been able to muster the concentration to re-read Naked Novel. Having a wee bittie a breakdoon as we say here. I can cope with anything except success.

Out and About in the Universities

Just had to share this one with you. Important to my point is that it's a Britblog.
I got my uni results at the weekend.
I've got a 1st class honors degree in software engineering with online communities.
This must make the dude the first one ever in the world to achieve an honours degree without being able to spell it. (But maybe he's foreign. One never can tell with online communities.)

ELECTRICAL BANANA

But congratulations anyway, young man. Spelling never earned anyone a bean. Ask me. Now, online communities....

Weather Update: Parts of Glasgow under seven feet of water. Landslides here and there. All trains in Scotland halted. More torrential rain expected this afternoon. This is what we call summer in Britain.


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Tuesday, July 30, 2002

SYNAPTIC OVERLOAD

Too much is happening. Too much for a white lady. Gonna take some time for me. Got to.

Albatross round my neck. Who ya gonna call? Does Buffy take Switch? Does Angel take anything?

You hurt the ones you love. (Or at least acknowledge.) Lashing out, here and there. Take That.

And get in first. Stick the boot. Or at least the stillie.

Cos you can't hurt me. I am a rock. On Good authority.

ENTER. DON'T ENTER. SHUT UP

Plasticbag Tom achieves his dream and gets into the Guardian again, having a bit of a handbag-fight with some editor or other. Worth a wee peep, but probably not for the reasons either commentator expected. Tom-jack.

NOT SO MOBILE PHONE

Darren discovers his stolen mobile phone was under the mattress all the time. Well, that's one bit of good news.

TRANSEXUALVANIA

Yep - it happened, and I suppose that's one Rubicon crossed. But never, ever again. If I see one more pencil-slim faggot looking a hundred dollars in a charity-shop frock, while I sit and moulder as Miss Marple, I'll pull something quite 45-ish from my fake-patent handbag and use it.

Slim is the answer. Not necessarily young, as my friend Granny (45) proved in a minute blue dress and Tina/Ziggy-wig. Fat is a transvestite issue. So - no pics for u.

MY COKE FOR GIN

Apologies to various younger NB-fans who are coming here shortly. We just don't meet. Shatters the illusion, you see. It took me over a year to risk even a pic. Call me neurotic by all means - I don't recall ever claiming otherwise.


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Sunday, July 28, 2002

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DOUBTFIRE

It's here. Almost.

In just under two hours, postman and sam will collect me from Naked Mansions, whisk me to West Granton Road, and reprise our now world-famous drag-ups. When we - the unholy trinity - have completed the sacrament, a taxi dragged up as a stretch limo will transport us with delight to The Village in South Fort Street, yet another redneck area of town. Talk about life in the fast lane.

Copious photos will be taken. The world and his wife have been given digital cameras by their nearests and dearests of late. (Except moi, of course, as I haven't got one.) But I've got you... and that is more precious than diamonds. Of course.

Wish me luck. It could all end in tears, and runny mascara.

LITERARY BENT

Charlie is doing a feature on favourite gay books, which is well worth a peep. Our own small contribution is in his comment box. Feel free to offer your own views either there or here. Is there anything left in God's universe which isn't listed?

Me, I don't read books any more. For whatever reason - age, meditation, youthful excesses - I don't have the necessary retention. My entertainment has to be at one sitting, be it a programme, film, blog or journalism. And then I promptly forget most of it. But at least it means I don't have to clean the house, or do essential things.

What was your name again?

FULL HOUSE

But this I probably won't forget - for a few days at least. Last night at the Bingo, a house was called on 69. Nothing unusual about that - there are only 90 numbers to choose from. But then, towards the end of the session, 69 came up again. Now we do move into the unlikely, but of course not astronomically so.

"That's two 69's in one evening," I said to them, drily. Would they cotton on? Or would it die without trace, like so many Naked witticisms? But yes - there was a definite ripple of approval.

"Lucky you!" one guy shouted.

"Been that long I can't remember..." I riposted. How we laughed.


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Saturday, July 27, 2002

BIG BANG

I read somewhere that there's an asteroid due to hit earth in 2019.

Not gonna happen, dudes.

That mother will be blogged into oblivion long before it gets anywhere near us. Just you mark my words.



Oh dear me - there's a lot of "head-up-ass" blogginess going on about the place. I really, really couldn't give a shit what anyone's read, or seen. Has no-one actually done anything lately? Even if it's only getting dragged up as Tootsie Doubtfire? Or noticing for a nanosecond a peepee in a pissoir??

Get real. A blog is only a HomePage with a sheet of toilet paper in the middle. And not nearly as useful.

Come on, you guys. Back to basics, eh? There's a logo going around, which I haven't got, with the slogan, ENTER. DON'T ENTER. SHUT UP. The eyes of the world are on us at the moment, and what are they seeing? You decide.



Those last two words being the one-time slogan of Big Brother. Now, a really good logo would be I DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT BIG BROTHER.
Or, waxing transatlantic, BIG BROTHER IS A BIG MOTHER.

However, I know many of you are very, very intellectual. You don't watch programmes like this in the way that common people do, wondering which catalogue Jade gets her bikinis from, but rather to experience a sense of existential, zeitgeist meta-eclecticism.

Bovine poop. BB3 is about twats, for twats. The only people with any brains in the matter are Endemol and Channel Four. (Because of the dosh.)
*(The above doesn't apply to you, of course. Your analyses are fascinating.)

LOAD OF BALLS

It's been a summer of total balls for the viewer with taste. First off on BBC 2, (which I can explain for overseas readers was started as an Arts and Culture channel) we had wall-to-wall balls into pockets. (aka Snooker.) Then there was balls into nets. (World Cup Soccer.) Then it was balls over nets. (Wimbledon). Followed by BB3 (load of balls).

But the beat goes on. Now, without asking my opinion at all, they've launched into blanket coverage of the Commonweath Games. What a load of phooey. "What did you do with your life, grandad?" "Son - I once jumped two millimetres higher than anyone else had ever jumped." "And...?"

Even blogging, however fast it's going down the tubes, is more use than running fast or jumping high. Are we humans or animals, for Gawd's sake?

GLOOM AND DOOM

But it's not all gloom and doom. Peter (Secret Kings) is back from vacation, and in fine writing form, as ever. Welcome.

Next, I need your advice. My sidebar is expanding, and I should split my Sites to See. Two possibilities are

  • Friends and Family
  • Home and Away

    Friends and Family would divide people by their sexual orientation. This sucks. Heterosexual people would come under the category Friends, and those homosexual would be called Family. (You can guess my thoughts on that!)

    Home and Away would divide people according to where they are. This sucks. If the internet is one thing, it's global. I simply have no idea. But the list as it stands is too long, even with periodic ruthless pruning. As usual, linky-lurve for the best suggestion.


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    Friday, July 26, 2002

    UNLISTED NUMBER

    Guy at Swish Cottage has produced his own personal Top Twenty of British blogs, in which NB appears nowhere at all. And that is totally cool - we don't do hissyfits here. But thks nevertheless to mike, dave, and charlie for mentioning this omission in the relevant comment box.

    Why so cool? Because it's his chart and his right. Also, NB has featured on the odd list or two lately, and it's genuinely good to see some other fine blogs being put into the spotlight. Excellent. But now I suppose the world and his blog-wife will be doing the same. Link-whoring, you see.



    But never here. I have a list already, on my sidebar. This isn't fixed, but rather rotates slowly. On it are a handful of Britblogs, and there are another handful I would recommend also. But I couldn't recommend twenty! Doubt if I could even name twenty.

    To be quite honest, it's usually more interesting reading about other places... that's why people go on holiday I guess.

    GEORGE MICHAEL CORNER

    A quiz on mensroom etiquette. (My lady readers are free to imagine themselves in this situation, and respond how they think they would, if blessed with a dangler themselves.)

    You are standing alone in the mensroom of a fashionable bar/restaurant. Let's call it The Village. Happily peeing away, you point it variously at the scent-cubes, the outflow pipe, the metal backing sheet for maximum noise, and so on. Happiness is an empty bladder. Alcohol soon fills it up again.

    A man comes in and stands a socially-acceptable distance away. You've know him for years, and he's averagely attractive. But in front of your very eyes he hauls out a far-from-average *beep*, which you've never seen before. Do you...
    (a) zip up quickly, comment on the weather, and make a sharp exit?
    (b) zip up quickly, comment man-to-man on the size of his plonker, and make a sharp exit?
    (c) some other answer or combination of answers?
    This true-life situation actually happened to NB just yesterday. I'd love to know your opinion.


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    Thursday, July 25, 2002

    EVEN TOPPER OF THE POPS

    It's not every day that a story drops right into the blogger's lap - even such a world-famous one as moi. This is how it happened:

    No Sympathy for The DevilBut first, are you quite comfortable? Have you heard of the Pope? Have you also heard of The Rolling Stones? You will need at least a passing acquaintance with both of these concepts to appreciate the birth of this meme. (Well, the egg was laid in Trevor Wilker's comment box in Toronto - NB is both absentee father and midwife, as it were.)

    This is World Youth Day. Or at least it is for Canadian and other young Catholics, who can sublimate their ever-present urge to shag whoever says yes into a transcendent Toronto experience. Or summat.

    Now - please don't write to me in droves with accusations of impiety. We suffer no such thing. We are intensely aware of Universal Consciousness, and also of teenage hormones. (The latter a memory, of course.) The two are not incompatible. But I digress. (These days you can actually buy teenage hormones, if that is your wont. It's called Human Growth Hormone, and I get letters (spam) about it every week.) Even further.



    Barbara Fletcher and Trevor Wilker are two leading Canadian bloggers, as well as being man and wife. Barbara is even a Guardian World Blogger, so she knows what she's talking about. And this week, Barb and Trev have been talking about the arrival in their city of thousands of pilgrims to experience His Holiness.

    Hey, You - Get Offa My CloudIn Trevor's comment box I made one of those historical observations for which I am uniquely suited, namely that twenty years ago, HH was in Edinburgh, the city I call home, on the same weekend as the Rolling Stones were playing a cut-price rehearsal concert. In the Playhouse. It was seven pounds fifty, which wasn't much, even then.

    Well, you could have knocked me down with a plastic crucifix when what should I learn, in that same comment box, that who is in Toronto this week, rehearsing for a World Tour? You guessed it. "What a drag it is... getting old!!"

    Is it coincidence? Is it a meme? Or is it even more skilful PR than plasticbag.org? You choose.
    Thanks especially to Brian Wilker for the Toronto/Stones info.

    DRAGSTAR!

    Shock horror news. The fancy-dress car treasure hunt has been cancelled, due to lack of support. This means that my transsubstantiation on Tuesday was in vain. Never now will Mrs Doubtfire be played by your hero. (Even if in my addled memory I was confusing her with Tootsie, a younger and slimmer version.)

    In an attempt to rescue all things stylish, however, Ali and Ian, the flamboyant yet businesslike owners of The Village, have given over Sunday afternoon coming into a drag/glam extravaganza. "Get made up while you wait!" "Choose a frock from postman's ample rails!!"

    Not sure whether to attend or not. It's a different thang - doin it in front of me straight mates. But we never took any pics on Tuesday, intending to do them on Sunday. And would I really want my pancaked puss on the intershneckle anyway? What if me mam saw them?

    WELSH RAREBIT!

    Big-ups to Duncan Alexander, the Welsh actor, who - inspired by our Nectarine beetle tale - shares his own, even worse experience. It's a knockout. He was very young at the time.
    "I cried and cried and continued to cry for the rest of the evening. Eventually, my mother lost patience (and any sympathy she might've had) and smacked me so that I'd shut up."
    Nice blog, too.

    *BEEP* *BOP* *A-LULA*

    An occasional feature where we rescue a tag-board chat from inevitable oblivion. Today's topic is marital fidelity, and the desirability of relationships. The players are Alan, Darren, Dave, Mike and oneself, who really knows nothing of these matters.

    We join the boyz as they discuss being surrounded by good-looking men...
    alan: It can be quite distracting sometimes. Also, as a married man I can only look, and not touch. Far less slurp.

    Darren: Well I admire your willpower!

    dave: i are married too. but my eyes are always a wandering! but only my eyes.

    Darren: Such upstanding pillars of the community, much respect!

    dave: i find it less 'frustrating'to look and not touch when i am attached than to look and 'can't' touch when i am 'free'

    dave: as a man i've always found it easy to be led by my *beep*.

    dave: but then again i've also found it quite easy to 'tuck it away' when i'm involved.

    Alan: I've been involved for 3 and a half years. I guess that makes me half itchy.

    Peter: I'm so much more relaxed now my *beep* has lost its peep a bit.

    dave: i'm going on for two years now with darren. [Ed: not the darren in this conversation.] but before him i've done a 3 year sentence AND a 10 year one too.

    Peter: Although, now i've nearly stopped smoking, things are starting to come up again. Which is *not* welcome.

    Alan: a '10 year sentence' sounds so final.

    Peter: Julie Burchill once wrote that people who've been in relationships make better partners than the chronically single. (Like me.)

    dave: not at all alan. they're both my best friends now. much better to die and have had 10 or so really meaningful relationships that to have had one 'so so' long term thing. IMHO.

    Peter: too profound for me, dave. I'm off to The Village to meet some other personal disasters...

    dave: i hope i havent upset alan.

    Peter: he comes and goes. very karma chameleon.

    mike: I too am less troubled by the lure of the *beep* these days, and am most thankful for it. Like being unchained from a lunatic...

    Alan: I quite enjoy the *beep*
    (And there we must call a halt - but the story never ends.)


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    Tuesday, July 23, 2002

    WHAT A DRAG IT IS, GETTING OLD!
    Kids are different today,
    I hear every mother say...
    (Jagger, Richard)


    A meditation on the passage of time, whilst getting dragged up in rehearsal for a fancy-dress event. The players are postman, sam and myself. The location, West Granton Road. (By the gasworks.)

    TOP OF THE POPS is a UK institution, up there with the Queen and Coronation Street. It started pretty much the same time as both - give or take. I missed the first edition, but watched it religiously from episode 2 onwards. It was my life. No-one reading this has done the same.

    TOTP2 is a later thing - a retro show combining sixties and seventies footage with "where are they now" items. And until tonight I'd never watched it, fearing it would simply be too painful. Not so much, "how ghastly they look now", as "how gorgeous they looked then." You see - no matter how much we old-timers bang on about maturity and such - there's always that huge remembrance of things past, those glory days when the cheeks were solid, the teeth plentiful and the hair abundant. But I digress.



    "Aye, hen - yer moustache will have to go!" Sam had said over the phone yesterday. "And we'll see yer the morn's morn, midday." Nervously this morning I shaved my moustache - the first time for more than thirty years. Over the decades it had deteriorated from soft brown pussy-hair (the real reason gay men have taches) into hard, wiry, white stalks - neither use nor ornament. It had to go. I shaved it off. There comes a time.



    The first band to play were Status Quo, although I didn't realise that. All I saw was a hunky long-haired drummer, who got the opening shot. Tasty - in a gorgeous black and white sixties way. "Pictures of Matchstick Men." I knew every chord sequence. (They're usually very simple :) The BBC kept slipping in messages along the bottom. "This was them in the flower of their youth. Noses still in one piece. See them as they are now at the end of the show." How could anyone not wait?



    I knew postman would be taking my drag-act very seriously. Only once before can I recall being dragged up, and the result was - predictably - grotesque. I'd no reason to imagine today would be any different. But he and sam are two good pals. Do no harm to humour them a bit. He moistened a sponge in water, and started to apply the foundation. I waited, implacably.



    Next on was Neil Diamond, from his youth with "Sweet Caroline", and then - horrifyingly, from now with "I am, I said". Gruesome. But then I never did think he was much of a performer. Tried too soon to make himself too legendary. Bricks without straw. The whole of the moon.



    The slap was finally complete, so then on with the drag. First up was a white lacy bra, with two water-filled condoms as breast implants. Sam and postman were loving every minute. "Where are yer nipples, dear?" and "Do you think that's a wee bit too high?" (They still weren't allowing me to look in a mirror. But I'll give you a clue. It wasn't Ena Sharples.) They'd got me a tailored heather-coloured two-piece suit, with pleated skirt and shoulder-padded top. The ensemble was complemented by a beige blouse, black tights and fawn stilletto shoes. I was in ecstasy. Not. In fact I was slipping into alcoholic oblivion, as sam kept topping up my Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.



    The next band were a real blast from the past. A-Ha. With the (formerly) divine Morten Harket, now totally upstaged by Eero. There probably only is room for one gorge guy in Finland. Or is it Norway? Who knows? Who gives a fuck? Harket looked OK, in a boy next door way, and showed how totally out of tune he was able to sing. Intonation, they call that. This despite two fuck-off big talkbacks in his ears. Useless. The very G*ates or Y*oung of his day.



    Lovingly and carefully postman applied my lippy. "There girl - now do what they do with it," he told me, pursing and rolling his lips. I copied, blindly, knowing with every fibre that I was becoming more and more horrific with every passing minute. The things a girl puts up with for her sisters! I got a choice of two wigs - one long, brown and whorish, and the other a mix of brown and white... kind of "respectable bingo lady". There really was no alternative. "That's me!" I cried. "Look no further!" But inside I was quaking - ready for the ultimate horror of the mirror.



    Led Zeppelin I never was into. Never really heard of them, in fact, until one year when they got more votes than The Beatles for Best British Band. NME. That - if I recall - was the very first dent in The Beatles' inviolability. That previous sense that they could only go on for ever, as no other future was conceivable. Followed by the realisation that all I had worshipped and adored from my mid-teens to early twenties was disappearing in front of my eyes. Who were these funny bands I'd never heard of? And what had happened to Gerry and to Freddy and to even Billy J?

    Oh - I didn't need them musically, of course. There was a great and gifted violin teacher in Streatham who was putting me through Mozart's fifth concerto, and promising the Beethoven when I'd mastered that one. Musically I had it all, in my own two hands. Touring the continent in the first fiddles of London University Orchestra. In love with the soloists. But socially - just to be a young person like the rest for a while - I loved what Liverpool had given. You see, pop was never totally about music. In fact hardly about music at all. Every song, every melody and harmony, every effect has already been done. There's nothing left. You've taken every thing. But of course - we never knew that. How could we? How can such young people really know anything?

    Robert Plant came on then, singing "Morning Dew". And it was good. His voice has worn better than has Neil Diamond's. And facially he was not one million miles from your current scribe's. His band was young, even though he was not.



    It's time. It's past time. I can't put it off any longer with strange reminiscences and odd philosophies. What you're dying to know is... how did I cut the mustard, and who was I?

    In reverse order.... I was... MRS DOUBTFIRE!!
    And did I hack it? YES I WAS FUCKING GORGEOUS!!! (Slap hides o so many sins :)

    Let the (photographic) record show. And now... night, all. It's been ages since we've chatted like this. Me, I've enjoyed it loads.


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    Monday, July 22, 2002

    GENDER BENDER

    Watched Blue Steel last night, mainly because it was on, and also I'd drunk so much coffee to keep perky at work that sleep was delayed a bit. The only reason I mention this quite ordinary film - by no means Katheryn Bigelow's finest - is for its unusual mix of cop-paraphernalia and femaleness.



    I'd decided some weeks ago that because of over-exposure to the consistently excellent 24 I was becoming something of a gun-fetishist. (Here goes Google again...) Time after time I thought if I see one more gorgeous hunk wearing a piece under his jacket then I swear a molecule of testosterone would produce. 24 has shoved so many big weapons in my face that it's all becoming a bit strange.



    But last night was different. Last night the film Blue Steel was overtly fetishising cops, their uniforms and their guns, right from the opening credits. But the wearer of the so, so-masculine outfits was not Colin Farrell, not Richard Burgi, but Jamie-Lee Curtis, a performer for whom I harbour no lust whatever. (For reasons I leave you to guess at.)

    Yet I found it odd to watch the Curtis/cop combination - in the way this film portrayed it. Icky, to use the modish term. And make no mistake, this writer is old enough and ugly enough to recognise fetish-filming when I see it. So is Bigelow a wee bit of a dyke?



    COMPETITION TIME

    Guardian Weblog Competition. (Full details over the last few posts.) Just a quickie today - a link rather than a story.

    Far be it from me to spread gossip and scandal, but you've just got to pop to Terreus (19 July), and read both his own views and then the comment box. DO NOT EDIT THAT BOX, no matter how libellous it gets! How we laughed.


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    Sunday, July 21, 2002

    SUNNY DISGUST

    Today's story features dietary horror. It should not be read by the easily shocked, or by anyone who is eating or has recently done so. You have been warned. I'M NOT KIDDING.

    Along with the huge cigarette cut-down, I've also been incorporating healthier eating into the NB regime. Out with chips (French-fries) and fry-ups, and in with salad, lean meat and fruit. Until yesterday. Now I must rethink the wisdom of eating the uncooked, the clearly still alive.
    That's why eating fruit is so energising, btw. It's nothing to do with the nutritional components, but rather that you're eating a living thing. Life force. Chi. Prana. Bean-sprouts have it big-time. Not only alive, but young, young, young.

    Have you ever paused to wonder why a peach, which is the most beautiful thing to look at, should be so prone to the horror of filthy black mould? However, today's tale concerns not a peach but a nectarine.
    For those of you in foreign climes, where words (such as chips) can take on strange, alien meanings, I must explain that a nectarine is very similar to a peach, but with a harder, shiny skin. Delicious. But not just for humans. And it is to people in these soft-fruit regions that I address this little tale, as help and reassurance are what I badly need, on this, the morning after. I'm thinking Florida. I'm thinking California. I'm probably not thinking Canada or Alaska. (But Jersey and Israel may comment, if they wish.)



    So there I was yesterday, after work, watching Mars Attacks and feeling peckish. I had pasta-salad and sliced turkey (55p per 100g) in the fridge, but was trying not to eat it. At work during the evening I'd already got on the outside of fish cakes (2), chopped salad (a copious amount) and even chips (French fries). That surely would suffice. I'm one of those people who have to go hungry at times, or else would blossom into a barrage balloon. (Isn't it cruel how God sets some people's hunger-stats at the wrong number?)

    Then I spotted a punnet of nectarines on the floor. They'd been there a few days, and I knew they might be a bit too soft by now. So I selected the firmest. It was the darkest of red and I polished it on my jogging-bottoms.



    Bite. Yummm. Juicy. Dribble. Delicious.

    Bite round the bottom this time. (Even as I write this, my stomach is churning, knowing what is about to happen.) Teeth grind against the stone, but no problem, even though they're expensive veneers.

    Bite the other side. Man this is living. And no fucking calories at all!

    And then the fruit - unusually - fell apart into two pieces, each with its own dark center. "That's strange," I thought, "it must have two stones in it." And then I saw something which even at this ripe old age made my stomach heave with adrenalin I thought I no longer possessed.

    There, in one half of this delicious nectarine, a black beetle about a centimetre in length was trying to escape. Inches from my eye, and moments from my mouth, I could see every segment of its loathsome clambering body.



    The beetle jumped off onto a newspaper (there are plenty to choose from), and with no qualms whatever I stamped it into insect obliteration. Then I washed out my mouth. Then I tried not to vomit. (But maybe I should have.) And this leads to the point of my story.

    Those of you who live in soft-fruit growing areas might well have had the identical experience. You might even know what that beetle is called, and something of its life-cycle. I need to know that you've survived.

    Too many horror stories and video nasties, you see. Too many people developing cysts and lumps which eventually explode into armies of marching insects. I need to know that isn't gonna happen. That fruit insects don't eat humans. That I'll get no cysts, no worms, no ticks growing out of my eye-sockets.

    I need your love and even more I need your reassurance.

    COMPETITION TIME

    An occasional feature where we slag off other people's writings about the Guardian Weblog Competition.

    After yet another morning browsing some "leading" British blogs and their shock-horror antics over the afore-mentioned, I've been forced to the following conclusion.
    The bloggers who are rubbishing this entirely-beneficial contest the most are the ones who're scared they won't win it. Simple as that. What plonkers.
    Here we have no such neuroses. We will enter, and hope to win. Whether we do or not is immaterial. It'll be fun. It'll be exciting, even. And excitement is what I adore - so long as it doesn't concern insects in fruit.


    And you say? (12)   Link to this


    Saturday, July 20, 2002

    CH...CH...CH...CHANGES...

    This whole Guardian Competition is causing much hilarity here at the NB offices. Brother has turned against brother. And - more importantly for gay men - sister against sister. We're almost literally rolling on the floor at the antics of blog-colleagues and others as they belatedly realise how very much they're in the wrong camp apropos. Anyone would think Hitler had come back from the very grave and annexed the world wide web.

    One particular blog-friend, probably the closest, has had half a rain-forest demolished in order to propagate his deliberations. I know he's taking the piss, big-time. But his readers, poor things, ... oh well. Least said. Talk about charisma.

    Much more to our thinking is Sarah, writing in my transient, ephemeral tag-board. "just sent my url to the guardian, because I could do with a grand. not that I'll win, but hey." (Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings...)

    Here at Naked Blog, you will note, our response has been characteristically responsible and mature. By one adult, for every adult.

    CATHODE RAYS

    A Death in the Family

    Vividly I remember, maybe three years ago, some Guardian dumbcluck ranting on about the arrival on these shores of South Park. "We give them [the USA] the glory of Teletubbies," this commentator opined, "and all we get back is a bunch of foul-mouthed, badly-behaved kids." Oh dearie dear. I can't remember who you are, but you really, really must eat those words.

    Last night, in the penultimate episode of this series, Kenny - the one in the hooded anorak - contracted a muscular disease and died. The disease wasn't named, of course, as the makers know fine that the show has a huge following amongst kids as well as adults. In this respect it acts as an educational medium par excellence, particularly in the way it espouses understanding of certain minorities, including gays. What finer way to deliver a message than to pretend you're being anti-establishment?



    Some highlights from yesterday were Kyle trying to force Stan to visit the dying Kenny, when Stan didn't feel able to. "He needs you now more than ever." There was Cartman trying to hide his tears, "I've got something in my eye," and even addressing Kyle as "Jewboy'" in his e*ght year-old rage at his other friend's imminent death. Two "Angel-adults" visited Kenny in hospital, "We visit special (ie dying)children like you - tell us your wish." But Kenny's only wish was "not to die", and that reduced them to silence.

    Eventually Stan did pluck up the courage to visit, clutching a little present, but - sadly too late. "What happened, dude?" he asked of Kyle. "He just stopped breathing." "Did he say anything?" "Yes - his last words were, 'where's Stan?' "



    Now, at this point something happened which beautifully demonstrated the power of animated drama. No real (ie human) actor could have reacted adequately to that line. It is horrific almost beyond belief, and the necessary response would be one hundred miles beyond the range of Cruise, of Pitt, of anyone I can think of. But in animation it's simple. You show a static face, with wide-open eyes, and the viewer fills in the emotion. Ecstatic. I was bubbling big-time, I can tell you. And quite sober.

    Don't feel the show was all doom and gloom. There was black comedy in abundance, a related plot with aborted foetuses and stem-cell therapy, and social comment to die for.

    Heck - I'm going to be soooo late for work. As Cartman would say, "That's it. I've had enough. I'm going home."



    So.

    South Park: sophisticated, contemporary comment, or juvenile, pretentious twaddle? And what about that Guardian competition? Tell me if you're entering. (Don't worry - it's quite private here.)


    And you say? (7)   Link to this


    Friday, July 19, 2002

    EYES DOWN

    Roses to The Guardian, who yesterday announced their fabulous 1,000 Best of British Weblog Competition.
    "While many in traditional media have been either dismissive or - much worse - ignorant of the world of blogs, at Guardian Unlimited and within the pages of the Guardian we have embraced it from an early stage.... But, we were so impressed by the quality of our readers' blogs, that we decided to do something a little more spectacular, and more generous, to promote and reward the cream of Britain's bloggers."

    I think everyone in the British blogging world, whether beginner or old-timer, will applaud the Grauny for this first-ever financial recognition of our particular art and craft. Well, maybe not everyone...

    Rasps to Tom of plasticbag.org who writes as follows...
    " - it's asking people to take the space that they've used to talk openly and honestly about their thoughts and their interests and often their lives not because it's a valuable and profound space for them to communicate, but to compete against their friends for money!"
    TC and I have already gently crossed cursors in mikes comment box, so little more needs adding here, except perhaps to state the obvious that no-one is forced to enter this or any other competition. And those of us with functioning memories will vividly recall the words "VOTE TOM" at the top of a certain weblog during the Bloggies earlier this year.



    Naked Blog thoroughly recommends the Guardian competition. If it's half as much fun as were the Bloggies, then it can only be a good thing. Overseas readers, and those at home declining to enter, should flood the judges with reasons as to why Naked Blog should be the outright winner. (Only joking folks! I'm sure they can spot quality for themselves. But - a new design would certainly help. Any offers?)

    HAIRNET!

    The big fancy-dress problem is solved! Thanks for your ideas as to what I should go as in next Sunday's fancy dress car treasure hunt competition. Suggestions ranged from Emma Peel to Cilla Black, from Lily Savage to Diana Ross, but the correct answer came to me last night in a flash.

    Realising, as I secretly have, that no attempt at dragging up could disguise my essential fat old tart appearance (oh - it'll come to you some day too), we decided to go the whole hog and enter as ..... ENA SHARPLES!! It's true! Postman has already got a granny wig, and even as I write he's scouring the charity shops for hairnets and flowered smocks!

    HOTEL CALIFORNIA

    When does an absorbing and fascinating hobby turn into an addiction? Blogging I'm talking about, of course. Burningbird has decided that enough is enough, and writes possibly the most eloquent farewell speech I've yet come across. (Oh - there've been a few.)

    Ironic to discover someone just as they're leaving, but... ah hae ma doots, as we say here. Take a look at the final comment box, and ask why she didn't so easily disable the comment feature...

    Link via Euan, whose yesterday's title bears an extraordinary resemblance to something I've seen elsewhere recently. No finer compliment.

    CATHODE RAYS

    Only one show to look out for this evening... a double-bill of South Park, in which Kenny dies. Yes, dies not gets killed. In a plot clearly stolen from the Naked Novel, Cartman attempts to cure him using stem cells from frozen foetuses, but to no avail. Set your video, or cancel everything.

    ELECTRONIC TAGGING

    The tag-board is taking off into a regular little chatroom. Sadly the busy period precludes most of North America except the left-hand side, from whence the occasional insomniac pops in! All are most welcome, natch.

    Kolja (note correct spelling) was delighted to be featured in yesterday's prosaic wee tale. But then he fell out with Gary the barman.


    And you say? (7)   Link to this


    Thursday, July 18, 2002

    PROSAIC NATION

    "What are you doing for me, Peter?" Kolja (kol'-ya) asked, with that immaculate English just lightly brushed with the Serbo-Croat of his youth. "I'm not doing anything for you," I replied - with equally immaculate English brushed ever so slightly with a veneer of camp. Dangerous camp. Don't mess with me camp. "I'm only buying you a pint of Guinness." It was yesterday. We were in the Port o Leith Bar. "Oh - stop being so prosaic!" he retorted.

    Hmmm. My little put-down had misfired, big-time. Realising that his opening line was flawed, I'd attempted to both punish and educate by making an unwelcome, suggestive rejoinder, only to be slapped down with a word I didn't fully understand. By a bloody foreigner, as well. I wasn't about to take that lying down.

    "I'm not being prosaic!" I cried, still not sure what it meant - just fairly certain I wasn't being it. You see, I've been called just about everything in my life - most gay men are - but prosaic was a first. And in my second half-century as well. Talk about old dogs.



    "And what does it mean, anyway?" I confessed, but faking anger. (Kolja is a handsome young man, you understand. I rarely get this far into a conversation with the unappealing. Tall, with dark hair tied back into not so much a pony-tail as a wild stallion, and the blackest of black eyes a maiden could stare into for ever without once seeing the reflection of the girlhood she was losing.)

    Waxing Harlequin Romance.

    "It means like prose. Taking it too literally," he replied. "No it doesn't," I chortled, confident that whatever the damn word did mean, it wasn't anything as obvious as that. I had in my mind: Prosaic adj Light, flowery, imbued with decoration and style. I had in my mind Mr Humphreys in Are You Being Served? Yep - if ever there was a prosaic dude it was him.

    "Maybe he means Prozac!" Pamela the barmaid chipped in, getting a bit bored. "Youse boys want a dictionary to fight over?"

    "Not that dictionary!" I replied. "It's one hundred years old." However, in the absence of other, more recent authority, the dictionary of the Century was produced. Chambers, it said, but there was no date. "Look!" I screeched at Kolja. "That's so you can't tell how old-fashioned it is!"

    Prosaic: adj 1. "In the manner or style of prose. Literal." 2. "Excessively dull and boring."

    "There you are," Kolja said, beaming. "Stop being so prosaic, Peter."

    But now my ire was bridling. Who was this stripling from another land, attempting to correct a literary master? Get back to the bloody Balkans. "Listen pal," I tellt him. "Dinnae you sit there and try and tell me my own language, OK?"



    "But it's in the dictionary!" he said, pointing to those sere and yellowed pages. "Yes it's in that dictionary," I agreed. "But the word has altered one hundred and eighty degrees since that was printed. Words often do, you know, in my language. As soon as I get home I'll check it in Collins 1983."

    Prosaic: adj 1. lacking imagination 2. having the characteristics of prose

    "Can I get you another drink?"



    In other news...

    Yes, you guessed right - there is a project under way this week, and it's far from prosaic. Exciting, almost. You of course will be the first to hear the news, but atm there is nada can be said.

    Accessibility is the current mode. It seems that blind people enjoy reading weblogs as much as do the sighted. More in fact, as they're already digitised, and prime for text-to-speech conversion.

    So you've all got to get your main writing - the interesting stuff - to the top of your HTML. One way is to move the left side-bar to the right. Another is some trick with divs which Tony my IT manager was going to send me. And yet a third is explained on the site just mentioned, but I don't understand it.

    Anything more complex than a href and I'm lost, I can tell you. In my young day we learned important things like four ounces of lard at elevenpence three-farthings an ounce.* Much more useful. Then.



    Fraser has produced the second edition of blogpop, in which we feature at Number 17, not nearly high enough. Sarah, after living in Brighton for a whole month and not sighting la Divine, has shot the craw and returned to Geordieland, where she's brushing up on her accent. Pitmatic, we used to call it in the colliery villages.

    Lots of you have written and spoken irl about young Peter and what's happened to him, but at the moment he's having a rest and concentrating on doing well at school. I haven't featured him for a while, as that's by far the most difficult of the styles I use here, and can take anything up to a day to recover from.

    *Three and elevenpence. See how prosaic I always was...


    And you say? (26)   Link to this


    Wednesday, July 17, 2002

    AND DON'T SPEAK TOO SOON,
    FOR THE WHEEL'S STILL IN SPIN


    Thanks to all for your comments and enquiries. We got more spin than Tony Blair. Just watch me.


    And you say? (3)   Link to this


    Tuesday, July 16, 2002

    WHO PROPHESIZE WITH YOUR PEN

    Stimulus. Response.

    Made. Not made.

    Yet.

    Waiting...


    And you say? (9)   Link to this


    Monday, July 15, 2002

    COME WRITERS AND CRITICS...

    Something BIG is going to happen to this blogger today.

    I can just feel it.

    Watch this space...


    And you say? (19)   Link to this


    Sunday, July 14, 2002

    PARALLEL UNIVERSE

    It often seems as if the "blog-circles" we move in are the sum total. Yes, doubtless there are others, but - let's face it - if they were worth reading they'd be on tom's list. Or dick's. Or even harry's. They would turn up in comment boxes, flashing their wares, and saying "Yay, me too :-)" (Thks to Vaughan.) And after a while we can relax, sit back, confident that all God's decent blogs are in our ken.

    Paradigm Shift

    And then one day you come across a stranger in your land. A stranger with a voice you like the sound of, and a list as long as your own, no - even longer. But a list you've never heard of: who are they? How can it be these people hang about? No Mike in sight, no Sasha, nor even me.

    And then you sense your power. That with one comment, one link, you bring not only yourself to this man's world, but all the rest as well. Two cells collide. This man has an old site and a new one.



    NAKED FRINGE

    As promised, a day-by-day peek into the Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme.

    Naked Blog offers no endorsement of any of the shows mentioned here, and warns that the majority of Fringe shows are unwatchable rubbish. But we start today with an obvious homage...

    DIVA FEVER Cre8 Theatre Company
    C too, St Columba's by the Castle, Johnston Terrace. Tickets 0870 701 5105
    Pop-pickers, pack your passports, pull out your platforms, and let's go on a trip through the sensational 70's with glam-grooves and daring disco-ditties! A musical spectacular written by former EastEnders star Andrew Lynford. It's Big! It's Camp! It's a Riot!
    Aug 11-25: 00.30 (1 hr 40 mins) 7.50 (6.50) World Premiere


    THERE'S NO BUSINESS

    Chig isn't happy. He was watching a Channel 5 programme, when a teenage girl opined that she preferred GG to WY (two current pop "sensations") because the latter gent was gay. Chig felt this was not a good or valid reason for her choice, and that a more experienced TV presenter would have chastised the young lady for her words.

    We disagree. In the following (comment box) terms...
    No, it's not really a stupid reason, Chig, given the nature of pop fandom. As I see it, boyband-type "artists" such as G*ates and Y*oung exist purely to encourage teenage girls to part with their cash. I really cannot think of any other reason.

    And when a girl of the sort you describe buys a record (are they still called that?), she's not attempting to buy music, but rather to "buy into" the dream that one day that young man might love her.

    Thus it's not uncommon for teens to spend all their disposable income on books, posters, records, concerts and anything else -all of their particular idol. So, clearly - in this regard - the gay "artist" is going to have less appeal. Mr Y*oung made his own decision to go the road he has, and will do very nicely out of it.

    That sector of the music business is an horrific exploitation of the immature, and I despise it.
    And finally, with great relief, I can reveal that NB is only...

    Take your own test and TELL ME YOUR SCORE

    (No idea who the dude is...)


    And you say? (11)   Link to this


    Saturday, July 13, 2002

    WOTTA SCORCHA!

    It's days like today put the BS into Bonnie Scotland! The sky is wall-to-wall blue, with just the merest hint of pollution haze round the edges. Yeah!! (Actually the air is pretty damn good here, with being on the coast of the North Sea. It's an ill wind doesn't blow your petrol fumes away.)

    Thursday was glorious too, when my phone goes about ten in the morning. It was Sandra. My personal manager. We exchanged, "Hello, darlings," and then she got to the point. "I was gonna go face-painting with Linda up the Royal Mile," she explained. "But she isn't in." (Sandra is a sought-after jobbing artist - wall-decoration a speciality. Painting children's faces is something of a sideline. I guessed she'd be nervous.)

    "That's not very reliable of Linda," I opined, wondering where I was expected to fit into this scenario, but having a pretty good guess already. (Linda you've read about here previously, when somehow her specs got put onto a guy's penis in the Leith Festival Art Exhibition at the Ocean Terminal. It was meant to be a living sculpture, but the Security Guards evicted them all.)

    "OK, then - I'll come with you," I agreed. But give me an hour to finish today's blog and meditate. "Cool."



    Street Life!

    The High Street, part of Edinburgh's famous Royal Mile, was a veritable pot-pourri of the world's excited travellers. There was enough photographic hardware, both still and video, to equip a new-start second-hand shop. Mr Sony - he is da man.

    And there, outside the City of Edinburgh Planning Department, we found what we were looking for... street traders!! Not musicians, definitely not buskers, as that department was fully taken care of by Highland Pipers working 15 minute rotas. No - we were mixing in the visual arts.

    One guy was selling prints, 15 to 25 quid a pop. Roaring trade. Another, looking like a cross between Johnny Cash and Sam Shepherd, was offering henna tattoos. A very attractive surfer dude from Australia was getting ready to play a home-made didgeridoo, consisting of a five-foot water pipe with traffic cone at the end for a trumpet. You could tell he was Ozzie because of the shark-tooth necklace round his lightly-tanned neck and disappearing into his sea-bleached, neo-hippy hair-do. The quartet was completed by a Jamaican-looking bro with hennaed dreads doing a spot of juggling.

    Then Sandra sat down on her blanket, got out her pots of face-paint, and became the fifth. And I - who have few talents other than the jaded prose you're currently reading - was to be her minder. Blagger, I think they call it in the fairground trade. Blagger-blogger, that's me.



    Business started quite briskly. "We should do the first one free," I said to Sandra. "Get some interest going - maybe even a queue." Within moments I'd accosted a nice young mother, innocently walking down the street, and talked her into a free face-paint job for her two daughters. They were about seven. One chose a palm tree from Sandra's new book, and the other butterfly wings. Skilfully and efficiently, Sandra gave the girls their make-overs. They were over the moon. But I wasn't, as not one other punter had appeared. Oh - some had looked, smiled even, but always walked on by.

    "It's me!" I said to Sandra after half an hour of nada. "They would all have a face-paint, but they're wondering where that middle-aged man fits in to the dynamic. I'm gonna go for a pint, and see how you do on your own." "OK," she said, and off I trotted.



    To the Ensign Ewart, a pub so close to Edinburgh Castle it's almost within the castle walls. A pub where in my heyday I would meet handsome, horny soldiers looking forward to an afternoon off guard duties. But now it's changed, as so have I. Now it's full of tourists, like everything else in this part of town. I got chatting to a chick of about my own age from Atlanta, Georgia. "Coca cola town," I said. "You're right," she answered. She explained her man-friend was away playing golf today. "That's nice," I said. A girl has to keep up appearances, now don't she just?

    Then back to Sandra - but still the cupboard was bare. Didgeridoo-man was blowing up a storm in his water-pipe, as there seemed to be a gap, a hiatus in the bagpiping. But he, too, was earning nada.

    "You know, he'd make more dosh hawking his ass in CC's,"
    I said to Sandra. (Local gay bar/meat market. We never go.)

    Sam Cash came over and started telling us about street-trading licences. A hundred and eighty quid a year, except for the festival when it's two hundred and twenty a week.

    We gasped at the sheer greed of our local authority, demanding such a cut of the action. He told us that Princes Street was far better, but the cops move you on all the time. He advised us not to charge any money, but to fashion a card saying "Donations Only". The whole thing was getting more seedy and less artistic by the minute. I fully expected henna-dreads to pull out a crack-pipe any second and start singing, "Don't Worry, be Happy." It was time to shoot the crow.

    "So - what did you think about that?" I asked her, as we sat in the Black Bull, safely on the outside of a pint. Sandra thought for a moment. "I'd do it again," she replied. "But maybe on a Saturday. It's busier then. More kids."


    And you say? (2)   Link to this


    Thursday, July 11, 2002

    CATHODE RAYS

    My television is an instrument of entertainment. I would love it to be otherwise, but this cannot be. With almost nothing to be seen on the subjects which really interest me - science, mathematics and music - then The Box defaults to what it has always been best at, delivering carefully-crafted soufflé. (My views on the News and politicians are scattered throughout this weblog. Negative would be a blessedly-brief summary.)

    And for the skilful, intelligent diversion I demand, you usually have to rely on the USA. Because with a few worthy exceptions, British telly is now to all intents third-world. Where once we used to sneer at TV from the Mediterranean countries, we now rush headlong to join them. Por qua? Because TV is all about selling products, and market research shows over and over again that Mr Stupid buys far, far more from TV ads than does Mr Sensible. Ergo, aim your TV at the former gent and his family, rather than the latter. Call me snobbish by all means. I call it realistic. And I'll bet you a fiver to a brick shithouse that I know a wider social range than do you.



    Living With The Enemy

    But enough already. This week I watched a couple of British shows, each of them leading to a sense of dismay. In reverse order, last night was Living With The Enemy, a BBC Community Programme repeated from 1998. (Or MCMLXXXXVIII, as they described it.) See - they even try and bamboozle you with how old their shows really are!

    It featured Mick and Wayne, two down-market but hetero Northern lads sashaying darn to da smoke to stay with X and Y (I haven't got their names to hand), two down-market but homo guys. And oh, it was bloody awful. Now I know that Community Programming is not Spielberg, but surely there must be some quality control, as cliché was heaped on non-sequitur to lead to basically sweet fuck all.



    You see, there's a history to shows like this, and this is what is supposed to happen...

    Straight guys visit with the queens for the first time. (That they admit to.) Initially hateful and Manning-esque, they quickly become seduced by the IKEA furniture, tasteful reproductions and adventurous Madhur Jaffrey recipes. "All this and not a moaning bitch in sight!" they are supposed to gasp, while simultaneously basking in the boyz' attentions. Their gay hosts are similarly enchanted, not having seen a real man since they fled the sticks to get away from them.

    And before you can say Soho Sex Shop and Heaven night club, the ladz have flung off their baggies and footie shirts, and jumped into Spandex G-strings and Red Indian headdresses - bopping away to YMCA with a sincerity they've never before experienced.

    At the end, there'll be a tearful farewell, with the still half-eccied straight guys saying something on the lines of, "Eeh bah gum it were great meeting yow two. Course ah could never be gay mahself, but yow boys are summat else. Tek care, kiddo." They've scored big-time. Not only have they been on the telly for half an hour, but they're now equipped with enough tales to keep their straight mates in hysterics for weeks. They might not have to buy one single pint or packet of crisps for the duration.



    But last night, in Living With The Enemy, it didn't pan out at all like the programme-makers hoped. In this show, straight was represented by lager-cans and belching. (Much belching.) Gay was personified by Sex Shops, Butt Plugs ("Yow mean yow shove that up yer arse?"), and Heaven night club. Mick and Wayne hated the sex shop, were repulsed by butt plugs, and walked out of Heaven after ten minutes. They said, with candour, that they dislike poofs more now than they did before.

    And frankly, who could blame them, if butt-plugs and Heaven are offered as the sole representatives of gay achievement, culture and identity? Oh, and tattooed arms and Selleck taches.



    So, I know what the programme makers hoped for, and vividly didn't achieve. This leaves the question, why screen the show at all? Was there any point? In which ways did it lead to greater understanding of this complex and (for us) vital concern? Natch I'd be interested in your views, but frankly I would hope you had better things to do on a Wednesday evening.

    Like gettting laid. Straight guys are great for that. And they love it to bits, so long as you keep well away from their life.



    If the face fits...

    Quite interested to see the mugshots of a few of the English blogerati at a London blogmeet recently. (I thought the term was BlogCon... or is that deemed too Hoopty/USA ?)

    Most of these young people I haven't yet read, although Sasha Frieze (whom I have), and Simon Pearson share NB's top billing in the Guardian Weblog (Your weblogs) section. (For as long as it lasts! Surely they'll update it some time - give some others some exposure.)

    [STOP PRESS: They just have. The extended list is here. We still remain prominently featured, despite the blog-paralysis of a week ago. Although, once again, my age seems to be the only point of interest. Ah well.]

    Two other snapshots of prominence are Tom Coates and Meg Pickard. (Plasticbag and not.so.soft) And possibly some more - my life is too blog-filled already as it is. No room at the inn. Try the effing stable.



    Which brings us neatly to Scotland. (You take the high road, if you must.) Apparently there's to be a meeting of Scottish bloggers on August 23rd, in Princes Street Gardens. Not so much Picnic in the Park, as Blogging in the Gardens.

    But as there seem only to be about two other Scottish bloggers, each aged about twenty, this will raise the somewhat salutary possibility that I might be older than all the rest put together.

    "To what do you attribute your global brilliance as a blogger?" they'll ask me, and - quite silently - I'll point to the lines on my face. "Come back when you've got a few of these, sonny," I'll reply, then launch into an ode about an albatross.

    But Josh has few, if any, lines, and he is incandescent once again. How long can that boy's candle burn so bright? (If anyone knows of any finer webwriting, please let me know.)



    Treasure Hunt

    The dramatis personae of the recent Portpatrick /Stranraer extravaganza are having a reunion on July 28, in the form of a fancy dress car treasure hunt. Postman and sam are going as Sonny and Cher, but my mind isn't made up yet. Answers on a postcard please. [AND NO: neither Cilla Black nor the Loch Ness Monster are correct.]


    And you say? (17)   Link to this


    Wednesday, July 10, 2002

    BLOGLOG

    People often write to me posing that killer question. The words vary, as do the continents from which they emanate, but the message is always familiar... "How does a leading blogger like yourself find inspiration for five, maybe six such fascinating columns every week?"

    And the answer is always the same. Be much alone. In silence. When you do mix, make sure it's with interesting, preferably neurotic individuals. Rarely write about film, TV, pop music - unless you've developed a reputation and readership for those topics. Rather concentrate on the special, the personal, the things which no-one else can write, simply because they weren't there.
    "The principal task of genius is to protect itself so it can go on working."
    But sometimes even the best of us are struck silent. Waiting, wondering, with not a single thought between the aurals. And then, and only then may you go fishing around your colleagues' work. Take the following (true) exchanges on today's tag-board... (No names have been changed, to protect no individuals.)
    Darren: (In London) Morning P. Weather's glorious down here, how is it up your end?
    Alan: (In Dublin) I would imagine that the sun is usually shining brightly up P's end.
    Peter: (In Edinburgh) Don't let the sun go down on me...
    Peter: Can't think of a *beep* thing to write about. The only witticisms have gone in your comment box.
    Alan: I always heard that as 'don't let your son go down on me' and found myself wondering 'why not?
    Peter: I know. It's a very dubious line.
    Alan: Depends on the son, really.

    Peter: Easy living doth not lead to easy writing...
    Peter: What's your topic du jour? (I won't steal it.)
    Alan: I don't have one. I'm toying with Aids Awareness and linking that to shaving off my sideburns, but I can't get it straight in my mind.
    Peter: Nothing on troubled-diva... let's try sarah.
    Peter: Barbara's having a herpes gore-fest...
    Alan: Pretty! I could take the band-aid off my finger and photograph my scar.
    Peter: Hydragenic's in fine fettle. What can I develop? (ie steal.)
    Alan: I'm tempted by giving religion corporate makeovers.
    Alan: Or talking about a hypothetical Pride march in Leith.
    Peter: Stuart (Hydragenic) comes up with the great idea that Charisma Carpenter (Buffy, Angel) would be an ideal nom-de-plume for Jesus.
    Peter: Leith pride march might run ok. I'm making this place even more famous than Irvine Welsh.
    Alan: That was the basic idea I was picking up on. Of course, I am in love with the character that Charisma plays.
    Here the emphasis changes, to two gay men discussing the desirability of someone they will never ever meet, far less "get to grips with". This is called show business
    Peter: You just want that proximity to you know who...
    Alan: David Boreanaz? Not my type. Anthony Stewart Head? Maybe. Seth Green? Maybe for an hour or two on a wet afternoon of frantic - where was I?
    Peter: Really? I find it hard to conceive of any gay man not fancying DB. One man's meat, as I said to darren yesterday
    Alan: I wouldn't throw him out of bed. But I like hairier chests.
    Alan: While we're being shallow here, natch.
    Peter: Shallow is fine. DB quite possibly shaves his for TV. He's half-naked in practically every episode these days.
    Peter: Looks like Darren's late for work again.
    Alan: Shaved is just as bad - chest stubble. Yuck.
    At this point, Peter (i.e. me) stops drooling over the thought of Mr Boreanaz (by far my favourite TV vision, with David Beckham possibly second), and in some desperation realizes that the chat he's currently having might possibly interest others. But tag-boards are so (can't think of the word. means temporary.)
    Peter: Would you be terribly upset if I put today's tagboard into my blog?
    Peter: They call that self-referential. Existential. Zeitgeist. Or summat.
    alan: No worries at all - I've taken your comments from last night's Doctor Love and put them up as my main entry of the day.
    Peter: Good. Well that's fair exchange. Off now to blog. It'll be OK.
    alan: Include a picture of DB's chest with a link to me.
    Darren: I was not late, but I've been very busy (for once) Everyone wants a piece of me!
    And there our banter went quiet for a time, while we thought about a piece of Darren.


    And you say? (20)   Link to this


    Monday, July 08, 2002

    BLUE MOVIE

    Hi. It's 7.30pm and I've just walked out of a film, for only the second time in my life. The first time was 46 years ago, and that film, The Gamma People. This time it was Minority Report.

    (Very) Minority Report

    Now, call me old-fashioned for being even born forty-six years ago, but I belong to a golden age, me. A golden age - populated by people like Bette and Joan - where films were an entertainment in themselves. You paid your money, and you watched the film. OK, you might not have adored every single movie, but at least by the end you knew what the hell it had been on about, and thus were able to form a valid judgement.



    How many times have you heard people saying, "Oh, I couldn't follow such-and-such a film," only to have some wise-ass say, "But you had to have read the book first." Wrong. False. Not so.

    If the reading of some book is required to understand a film, then that book must be included in the ticket price. I hope my view here is clear.



    For thirty-three minutes I sat through Minority Report, my consciousness fluctuating between bored to tears, not having a clue, and needing a wee. Gruesome. Well, at least it was only five quid fifty wasted. Stuart's still sitting there, as I write to you. No need to spoil his fun. He enjoys trash - even watches Voyager.

    Blue movie? Because it contains no red hues whatsoever. Some commentators have been led to think this makes it a nouveau-Blade Runner. But it doesn't. It just looks cheap and nasty. And Cruise had no less than three different hair-do's in the half hour I was there. And Stuart and I debated whether Cruise and Cruz would amount to a double cross. And oh, and who gives a fuck, anyway? Avoid it like the plague - that's what I say.



    You can read more positive reports by mike and Jonathan (whom I don't even know), and doubtless loads more. You can even see what Rupert wants you to read at the official site.

    It's worth noting that the film is based on a book by Philip K Dick, who was a speed addict for much of his writing career. It shows.



    The Gamma People. Now that were a great film. Nearly shook the place down - me that is. (But remember, I was only nine.)



    Thanks to alan of cyberpumpkin, who makes this contribution in the comment box below...

    I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't have recommended it to you. It was one of those movies where you needed to have seen all of the hype in order to understand the first half hour or so, and that seems flawed to me. The plot didn't make much sense. That said, if you could get over that hurdle, and you knew the backstory before you went in, the film has certainly got some real style and a couple of well-delivered punches. But any movie where you need to know the basic premise before you go in is flawed.

    There are far better films in terms of story-telling. Basically anything by Lars Von Trier, a lot of Almodovar, a lot of Wong Kar Wai. There are a lot worse - A.I., Star Wars, most films by David Lynch.

    The best film I've seen in the last year was Das Experiment.


    And you say? (14)   Link to this


    Sunday, July 07, 2002

    QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES?*
    (An occasional series where we take the piss out of all things Guardian-ish. But nicely :)

    SUPERPLONKER!!

    Those of you who pay attention will have noticed a little writing masterclass further down the page. It's in a peach-coloured box. In it we quote no less a writer than Mark Twain, who said something on the lines of, "At two cents a word, why write a long one when a short one pays the same?"

    Someone we did not quote was Malcolm Gluck, who begins this week's wine column on the topic of labels.
    "I am a great fan of wines with excruciatingly dull labels. When I see egregious typography, cack-handed illustration or an unenticing name on a bottle, my antennae go out before I bring a glass of the wine to my nose."
    Fingers on buzzers please, and no conferring. What the hell is egregious typography?? Well, according to Collins, egregious means "outstandingly bad, flagrant." Typography you probably know already, so now you've got the idea. Thanks to Collins - no thanks to Mr Gluck.

    Bottom of the Barrel

    But he has my sympathies to some extent. Well, only slightly, as he could always get a proper job. Being a wine writer must be one tricky occupation, as how on earth do you put words to a taste? (OK, I know the tongue is involved in both processes, but the tongue is a clever thing.) It moves and senses. Bilingual. Try doing that with your big toe.

    So they all fall into the same trap. Not just him, but also that mad-looking chick who acts like she's just escaped from re-hab - the whole damn lot in fact. They add the contents of their freezer.

    In yesterday's article, Mr Gluck reviews eleven wines, and this is what he finds...
    pine nut, lemon, lychee, thyme, basil, rose-petal, vanilla (just a hint), tannin, soft leather, elegant berries, spice, herbs, figs, cherries, blackberries, raisins, grilled nuts, dry peach, gooseberry, pear, melon, grapefruit.
    Dear Naked Blog reader - we are not talking wine here ... we're talking tinned fruit salad! So - I have news for those who don't know any better... (sit down if you're of a nervous disposition)

    WINE IS MADE FROM GRAPES!


    About Mr Gluck's views on common people we shall say nothing. "I urge readers, therefore, to grab X and Y (two wines) before they get the make-over and attract the hordes." O dear me. I take it the hordes don't read his column, then.



    Me, I love wine, but now that I've (almost) stopped smoking, they all taste a bit different. Give me a good Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio - or even a nice Chenin Blanc or Colombard at a pinch, and I'm one happy chappie.

    Read the full article: Go on - it's really not bad. It was just the egregious typography that caught my eye. For even more wine diddly-doodles, look in at superplonk.com Cheers!

    In fact, why not send me a case or two, to show your appreciation of Naked Blog? I'll even put you in a story, mention your site... anything not involving sex.

    * And to those who think that to begin a piece on plain English and mild snobbishness with a passage of Latin is both shallow and hypocritical, I have this to say. "Don't it just rock!"


    And you say? (8)   Link to this


    Saturday, July 06, 2002

    ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER CLICHÉ

    Auld Annie was in sparkling form last night at the bingo where I work. "Hello, Peter," she cackled, with a voice which could almost shatter steel plate. "I won the National this week." "That's fabulous, Annie," I said, sitting with her for a few moments to chat. This is called 'socialising with the customers'. I love it. It rests your legs. Plus all you have to do is listen.

    "So, how much did you get, Annie?" I asked her. "A hundred thousand?" (That's the top prize, usually.) "No," she chided. "Three thousand." "Wow! Go girl!!" I congratulated her. "Are you married?"

    "Widowed," she replied, grinning with that time-honoured look of one who holds the purse-strings. "Then how's about it, honey?" I proposed. "You and me?"

    "Oh - you!!" she laughed, eyes rolling behind her inch-thick glasses. "I'm too old for you!" (She's 85.) "Not at all, Annie!" I replied, standing up again, ready for a quick exit. "I'd have you feeling 21 again within a week!"

    I moved on then, leaving tears of laughter pouring down rich Annie's cheeks. And that is why I love working in bingo.




    But enough jocularity. There's some serious writing to be done here.

    Lots of you have written demanding the next instalment of our fabulous camping holiday in Portpatrick a few days ago. Three queens and two dogs do Dumfries and Galloway. ("Where I come from, three queens and two dogs would be called a Pride march..." Darren.)

    Oh - and I think I've read somewhere that there's a Pride/Mardi Gras in London today. Hope all have a good time. But my own views on such matters are fairly well expressed in this story, about NYC.



    Previously on Naked Blog: New readers, (and there are so many of you these days), can catch up with the story here.

    CHAPTER THREE: RETURN OF THE JEDI

    "Well, they'll all of heard of us now, thanks to you, Sam," I grunted, as we negotiated the downward steps to the harbour. "Guy falling off his stool last night is big news in these parts" "Aye hen, ye could be right!" he laughed. We settled outside the Harbour Inn to chew the fat and watch the folk strolling past. Promenading, I think they call that in Cheltenham.

    Sam brought the drinks out - two pints of Miller, and a fresh orange and lemonade for postman, who's not nearly such a lush as his lover and his aged auntie. Plus crisps for the dogs.

    Sergeant Sam, looking arresting"You'll never guess what happened in there!" Sam said, a distinct flush spreading up from his neck. "This guy gets chatting to me, and he said he'd heard about the bar stool thing in the Village Inn, and he reckoned I must be from the Edinburgh police."

    Postman and I froze, drinks halfway to our mouths. "We're drinking with the cops," Sam said, loving it. "No, darling," I corrected him. "We're drinking with the cops. You're drinking with the queens."

    "Constable Sam,"
    I said then, trying it out. "Sergeant Sam," he upgraded me. I looked at him then, in a way I hadn't before in the near twenty years I'd known him. That once-gauche, skinny kid, serving my pints in a well-kennt Leith bar, had matured into a tall, quite handsome man. And the body-warmer he'd picked up for four pounds fifty in Capability Scotland could, to the untutored eye, be taken for a flak jacket. Plus Shola the German Shepherd might easily be thought of as his bitch.

    I saw it all. It fitted in. The town was ours.



    But Sergeant Sam's new rep was to be quite short lived. Discretion is not this officer's middle name. Inside the Village Inn, some of the bikers had gathered once again, and Sam was thanked, fêted, clapped on the back. "Don't care if you're a cop, pal," one of them said. "You did a good job with Mark yesterday."

    But by now Sam was getting over-confident. As he camped it up more and more with each passing pint, the policeman possibility quickly bit the dust. And when the second AfterShock hit his thirsty lips, his exuberance completely exploded.

    "This is my wife!" Sam announced to the entire bar, pointing at postman. "And this is mine!" replied one of the bikers, nodding at his chick. Me, I sat wifeless and bikerless, hissing at Sam, "We are just so dead. We are the deadest things in this town! Why can you never keep your fucking gob shut?"

    And a little later, when postman strolled over to play pool with some spotty kid, I knew our lives could be counted out in hours. "Look!" I screeched, discreetly. "We're deader than ever, now. There'll be twenty of them outside waiting for us. You wait and see."



    But I was wrong, again, and my natural over-caution was exactly that. It must be a generational thing. (I really must learn to live a little more, and hide a little less.) There was no trouble. We had a really good time, and Sam shone brighter than a Stella Nova - the biggest bang in the Universe.



    Coming up on Naked Blog! Three queens and two dogs play cupid to two horny women! Is it the Irish Sea? Or is it the Aegean??


    And you say? (6)   Link to this


    Friday, July 05, 2002

    TIDE IN THE AFFAIRS

    By any measure, yesterday's mention in the Guardian Weblog should be every blogger's dream achieved. This coupled with a (possibly genuine if) somewhat cryptic comment from Julie Burchill in my comment box. Mine, I tell you! (OK, it's only three words, but that's three more than most of you will ever get... )

    And yet... And yet... Last night I lost much sleep thinking of these matters. Why, with 445 visits from that mention should anyone be doubtful? Because I want to keep them coming. The Guardian can delete me as easily as it wrote me up. For the first time ever in webwriting, I have to think of someone else - other than the law of the land. Feels strange. Fame. Where's that crack-pipe?

    Gonna live for ever?

    There are two and only two choices here for Naked Blog. One is business as usual. But I think I'm too strung up for that. The second is to do what a true blogger would always do, and analyze the phenomenon.

    So I looked to Sasha for inspiration, as she too is in that blessed Weblog. She too had a huge traffic spike, and yet, as here, almost no-one new left any comments on her page. And me, I really only do it for the feedback. No comment = no interest, no enjoyment. Nihil.

    King of Kings

    So what exactly is Naked Blog? Well, I think I can tell you some things, without excessive blogspot-gazing. It's a 5 or 6 times a week short column, by a former freelance hack, who's now enjoying the freedom to write what he likes. (Or was, until yesterday. See above.) Although many of the stories feature myself and my friends, I try always to write about things of general interest. Some matters are universal, you know... such as the yearning for intimacy, coping with being alone, and occupying time.

    Divided Self

    But the point of writing a blog is really to have fun. With no money ever coming in, and no obligations beyond common courtesy to your existing readership, then the winking cursor can be an invitation to delight. So we sometimes play with madness, such as in Howdy Guardian Reader! below.

    Real madness, which would produce glorious writing, I try to keep at bay. But it's not always a comfy ride here. You see, I know your weaknesses and insecurities. I have them too. But I can articulate them, to your distress - whenever I want. Just watch me.

    Out and About in the quality blogs

    Too paralyzed to do much sensible blogging myself this am, let me point you to mike of troubled diva, my representative in England. Mike has started a delightful retrospective of the homes he's lived in. Stations of the Diva. (Where does that man get his ideas?) "We never lived in a house with a number, always a name. Numbers were for common people..."


    And you say? (14)   Link to this


    Thursday, July 04, 2002

    HOWDY, GUARDIAN READER!

    You know, I was once like you - struggling from Benefit Check to Benefit Check, wondering if having another kid would pay for a wide-screen telly.

    Like you I struggled to spot the difference between Tony Blair and Iain Duncan-Whatnot... you know, that dude who's one sixteenth Nip? And as for George W!! Well, hush ma mouth, but is he a good thing or like some total freak?? All that power in one man's (in)capable hands!! And don't talk to me about Independence Bloody Day. Best thing we ever did, leaving that bunch of psychos to fight it out themselves!

    Like you too, I used to worry about the environment! Eco-warrior, that was me. Swampy! Remember him? In my day I saved three Victorian Post Boxes! But now it's different. Now I'm a BLOGSTAR!

    So these days I go the the Carry-Out in a stretch limo. Guys stop me in the street to give respect. And chicks they always ask if I will pimp for them. Ain't that the coolest thing?

    Plus dudes send me deals for scripts an stuff, but I don't answer em. It's like all in ma head, ken? It's just the words that bother me. Just the bloody damn words.


    And you say? (12)   Link to this



    MARGARET THATCHER DECAPITATED SHOCK!

    Although at Naked Blog we rarely pass on news stories, feeling rightly that they belong to whoever spots em first, I couldn't resist this one. The link is from Swish Cottage, an interesting read which I just discovered today.

    You'd never believe it Department

    It's official. Less than 24 hours after sending our humble URL to The Guardian, there we are in their Weblog. This raises the distinct possiblity that la Divine might be reading me for a change. Go on Julie - leave a comment and complete an old man's happiness... (No impostors, please.)


    And you say? (8)   Link to this


    Wednesday, July 03, 2002

    THREE WEDDINGS AND A MASTERCLASS

    I never told you about my wedding on Friday. Well, not mine, clearly - as I'm essentially unlovable - but that of Andy and Bernice from work. A and B are a young couple, twentyish, who met and fell in love on the Bingo floor, metaphorically speaking.

    By the very nature of the Bingo industry, many of their friends and colleagues, including this one, couldn't go until post-toil at 9.30pm. But we manfully trotted along, to be greeted by drink, smoke, grub, laughter, and the feature which ruins almost every gathering these days, a DISCO.

    Me, I would take whoever invented that foul practice, and physically force him/her to listen to Chris Rea albums at volume number twenty until the brain had almost literally turned to jelly.

    It is an abomination, an abnegation of everything which should be pleasant and social, to have such a winking monstrosity blaring out audio shite and making conversation impossible except for the occasional shout, grimace and thumbs-up. No wonder the young are incoherent and illiterate. You know exactly what I mean, and it's time we all did something about it.



    Hearty congratulations to Josh, who has taken a girl-friend and is currently honeymooning in Utah. Every good wish for a happy time together. As usual, Josh conveys more about camping in two paragraphs than I could in several screens of disco-equivalent blogshite.



    We should also note the hitching of (formerly Suicide) Nick and his new beau Ian, who tied some sort of knot in Barcelona recently. I was surprised at that, as Barcelona is to all intents and purposes entirely Roman Catholic in outlook, and that church is not famed for doing gay weddings. (Count so far = zero.) Maybe they meant Amsterdam, but fancied a bit more sunshine.

    Write-u-Like

    Many (one, actually) young, aspiring blog-writers have asked for a few hints and tips on how to reach Number 21 in British blogs, depite being a clapped-out old queen whom only the terminally weird would find interesting.

    In a comment box below, we offered this guidance

    What goes into the work is

  • constant practice
  • a naturally large vocabulary
  • writing phonetically and in rhythm, and
  • typing as fast as you can think

    The downside is waking at 4am with the next day's blog writing itself in your head. Or even worse, not writing itself!


  • Here is the second batch of tips.

  • Be naturally lazy. This will keep the words simple, and avoid silly snobbishnesses. I think it was Mark Twain who said, "Why write a long word for 2c, when a short one earns the same?". Sound advice. Laziness also prevents too much revision, which usually makes things worse. (When you change a word, you nearly always put in one you've used nearby.)
  • Write on wakening. Otherwise you lose the vast cognition (ie thinking) which has gone on overnight. Don't waste it. It's yours by right.
  • Gaily steal from popular media. (Previously on Naked Blog:) People love spotting references! Remember, if it's on the telly, the guy/gal has already been well-paid for it.
  • When you find something which pleases you, realise that it probably pleases others too. Use it repeatedly. Once they've cottoned on, they'll find it amusing. And then it becomes your STYLE.

    And finally...

    Never, ever forget that you're giving it for free. Play with the language. It'll happily play back, and delight your readers every bit as much as your content. Remember - it's not Hello! we're doing here, it's for Guardian readers plus.


  • Now, have you got any writing hints you're prepared to share?

    Search me, Guv

    Is this the biggest one ever, or have you seen a bigger one?
    http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&hl
    =da&q=And+what+a+beautiful+sunny+afternoon+it+is+h
    ere+in+cool+britannia.+anyway+lets+cut+the+crap...
    +and+get+to+the+point.+07736+943+574+My+new+mobile
    +number...+so+make+a+note+of+it+and+write+it+down+
    on+50+different+pieces+of+paper+around+the+house..
    .+so+you+dont+lose+it...+and+show+me+some+TLC...+r
    ay
    We were number eight for needy ray, if I recall.

    Cathode Disarray

    I'm losing the plot, big-time. First I missed episode three of Six Feet Under, by necessity of holiday. Then the most recent hour of 24, by virtue of going for a drink with postman and sam and forgetting all about it until too late. The final straw was missing episode four of SFU, because of falling asleep. Anyone know any sites with plot analyses, or better still, scripts? Or do I have to wait for the repeats /video sets?

    Miss Julie - she ain't never wrong

    As well as missing some excellent TV lately, I've also, quite consciously, been avoiding Julie Burchill - the world's greatest blogger. Perhaps noting that recently she's no longer starring in the comment box Letters Column quite so much, last Saturday she let fire with all guns blazing.

    As well as all the usual targets, such as the USA and the Royal Family, this week's hobby-horse is Ireland and the Irish. Unmissable. Talk about comment-whoring!


    And you say? (6)   Link to this


    Tuesday, July 02, 2002

    CHAPTER TWO: VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED
    Previously on Naked Blog: Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway, SW Scotland, was once a sleepy harbour town. Close to Ireland, but not really to anywhere else, this is the sort of town where a budgerigar dying would hit the headlines - not to say the bottom of its cage as well. Last Monday evening, all this changed - for ever.



    Portpatrick learns of our presence. There we were, drinking in the Village Inn, when a group of bikers came in. One of them - very attractive - had quite stoned eyes. "See that wan - he's smacked ootie his heid," (high on heroin) I hissed to sam and postman, over my Seamans Rack of Lamb. (Quite delicious, and so huge you didn't know whether to eat it or marry it.)

    Sam took a thoughtful bite of Beef and Ale Pie, and turned surreptitiously round for a look. "Aye, ye could be right there, girl," he agreed. He and postman forked their mange-tout onto my plate, when there was an almighty crash as smackheid biker fell off his bar stool and literally smacked his head on the back of our seating, before lying stunned on the floor. "Omygod" said postman, over his Sirloin Steak with Bouquet of Garden Vegetables. "Look at the state of that!"

    But sam, who is a carer in real life, wasn't taking this sitting down. Instantly he abandoned his Beef and Ale Pie, and ran over to the hapless and helpless young stud. "Turn on your side" he ordered. "What's your name?!" he demanded then. "He's called Mark," the chief-looking biker replied. "It's him ah'm esking, no you!" Sam snapped at him.

    Back at our dinner table, I was beside myself with horror. "Look at her!" I gasped at postman. "Why does she always do that? Why the hell can't she just keep out of things? Before you know it we'll all be fucking lynched!"


    Now read on...

    "You're his pals! You look after him!!" screamed Eleanore, the attractive blonde barmaid in the Village Inn. "And get him out of my bar now!"

    Sam looked up from the carpet in front of the roaring log fire, where he was about to administer the kiss of life to this stricken bikerstud. "No gonnae dae that, Eleanore!" he half-shouted. "The kid needs help!"

    "I'll give him help!" Eleanore snapped back. "Coming in here causing havoc like that! I'm in charge of this bar, so get him OUT!" Then Sam deferred. He took his place. He helped him out.



    Later, as the sun was setting over the Emerald Isle on the horizon, (or rather the Belfast/Larne part of it), we left the Village to climb the one hundred and forty steps up to the cliff-top, and - eventually - our campsite. Two teens rolled past on skateboards. It was California comes to Wigtown, big-time. Halfway up the steps, postman and sam conked out, and flopped onto a bench. "I'll - aaah - just - aaah - keep - aaah - goin'" I gasped at them, keen to show that over fifty didn't have to mean over the hill. And neither it did.

    And shortly after, your hero was tucked up into his sleeping bag, tent securely zipped up, and dreaming foul nightmares of marauding Harleythugs and Skateboard teens slashing my very fabric with a psycho-knife. But it didn't happen.



    What DID happen was that I woke next morning with the fullest bladder a man has the right to cope with. And I couldn't unzip my tent-door. Somehow I'd failed to note the night before that there were actually TWO doors - an inner mosquito net, and a more solid outer flap, for added security. And all this time I was rolling around on an airbed - every topple an incontinence near-miss. Trousers were out of the question. I'd have to piss in the nude.

    What I DIDN'T realise was that postman and sam were leaning out of their adjacent tent, enjoying a morning fag after heavens knows what during the night. I had to run past them. There was no choice. It was that or piss in my tent.

    Horrified, my two companions, each twenty years my junior, had to witness this sight. This fifty-plus arse, which could once shell peanuts, (but now would manage a coconut), streaking past their very faces - frantically searching for somewhere discreet to piss. Talk about embarrassed but desperate! Even now, a whole week later, the lads will happily recount this tale to anyone willing to sit still for two minutes. I think it's one I'm just gonna have to live with. "It was just like the moon had come out again," said Sam.



    Later, much later, we visited with Eleanore in Stranraer, where she told us of her secret passion for Janet, a lesbian woman about town. This was Eleanore's first ever lesbian thought, even though she was forty-three. We all agreed that after waiting that long, she deserved a bite of the cherry. So we had a barbeque at the campsite, and then strode manfully back along the deserted clifftop, with its dizzying sheer drops down to angry frothing gullies, black water in the falling light. Back to Portpatrick to face the flak. Would we be thanked? Or murdered?


    And you say? (4)   Link to this


    Monday, July 01, 2002

    THREE WEBLOGS AND A COMMENT BOX

    I shouldn't be sitting here, blogging like this. I should be living, a feature I rediscovered last week. But seeing as so many of you have expressed dismay at the post below, I should point out that in it I never claimed to be retiring (again). I only said that blogging was harmful, in excess. Well, so are smoking and drinking, but there's not much sign of either of them disappearing, pro tem.

    Double Bill

    Two features for you today, the first a thoughtful essay on the blogging process. (Yes - another one. But unlike many other commentators, I am both interesting and original.) And the second is the next instalment of Carry On Camping.

    By one of those conjunctions, those celestial alignments of which astrologers are so fond, my attention today was brought to two quite brilliant blogs. One very familiar (troubled-diva), and one new to me (Maenad). Go away and read them both, and then come back.



    Marginalia

    Hi again. Quite a contrast, eh? It hardly seems conceivable that these two entities should inhabit the same noun. And yet they do. Maenad offers no links, trawls no other material, and writes from her heart about her most private thoughts. Today's thoughts, not some pointless past. She goes to an area which many women, even in these days, are reluctant to discuss - getting drunk and getting laid. She also meditates on the point of weblogging these feelings to what she estimates as a small readership, but comes down to the view that she wants to do it anyway, for herself. A superior example of the personal weblog.

    (My advice, Maenad... if you put a little physicality into your tales, you'll have readers queueing down the stairs. Offers coming over the phone. It needn't be extreme, just on the lines of, "After my third sherry I was longing for the gentle... etc.") But then, again, this might not be what you want.



    Troubled diva

    And readers is the next topic. Loads of em, like Mike has. Yet these days Mike doesn't often write about his personal thoughts. He already did his life story in the excellent 40 in 40 project, which is when I first discovered him, via his (self-confessed) comment-box marketing. But the emphasis has changed. Troubled diva is now a cyber entertainment. A glass magazine, packed with topical comment on popular culture. If you're interested in Big Brother, (which I sense few NB readers are - but that's not the point), then Mike has almost certainly the best review ever written, in any medium. Anything at all about light music, and it's there... not only comment, but the actual record to hear. There's also extensive trawling of other leading blogs, including this one, for mention and discussion. He's that sort of guy. If it's not top quality, it's not in.

    So troubled diva is no longer Mike, but rather a separate creation in itself. Why does he spend time and effort on it, only to give away freely material which could certainly be sold? Because he's ambitious for the site. Far too intelligent to take such rankings seriously, he nevertheless - as a hobby or game - wants t-d to make the big time. An A-lister. (Plus he really, really doesn't need the dosh. Lucky bugger!)



    Naked Blog

    Which brings us to our third blog, the one I know best of all, this one. Naked Blog too has undergone much change in the year and a half since birth. Started in April 2001, we chuntered along for six months or so doing "getting to know me" and "the things they say and do". Then two things happened. September 11, and Weblog Review. (I think it was called.)

    By sheer chance, my Weblog Review was written by Carrie, an NYC flight attendant, who at that time was "queen of the B-list". (Carrie has since discontinued her weblog.) Also then it was clear that there was only one topic on which to write. For many, many days. This forced us out of the Leith locality, and into the big, nasty world. And that was when we acquired most of our North American readers, and simultaneously entered the global blog community.



    But then things change. Once you've got readers, you want to keep them. (Well, I do, at least.) And increase their number. And in doing so, you run the time-honoured risk of losing the very reason they came to you. Ain't life a bitch?

    So nowadays I tread a line. Most of the self-revelation I care to self-reveal has been done already. My USP is my age, which - perhaps surprisingly - can be turned to distinct advantage, if properly handled. (Let's face it: in a world full of 20-40 year old bloggers, a different voice can be of interest. Plus there's always the possibility that I might die on the blog, as it were.)

    With not the slightest interest in popular music post-Dire Straits, that whole area is out of bounds. But who cares? Such material is everywhere, and not usually as well-done as Mike delivers. TV is a possibility always, and film, but the over-riding, the almost palpable imperative, is to write about human nature. My own, where illustrative of something more general - and others', likewise. Thank you for continuing to read Naked Blog.



    Comment Box

    In the comment box for yesterday's post, there is an intensely personal communication between Darren and myself, open for the world to read. Is this what modern communications are all about, or should I make with the Delete feature?

    Yesterday, postman and sam came to my bingo and won sixty pounds. Far from being unhappy with Episode One: Tent Wars, they are literally insisting that I complete the fandango. But now I'm blogged out. Tune in soon to see how three queens and two dogs get embroiled in lesbian love.

    (My thanks to Mike and to Maenad for allowing their blogs to be used in the above thesis. Well, they had no option, as I didn't ask them. Ain't the internet so effing public? Hehe.)


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