Good morning cherubs - from Sunny Leith! You'll be thinking from the stories below that I've either (a) topped myself, or (b) am languishing in some debtor's jail, detoxing on water and Co-op wholemeal bread. Neither of the above are true, but many, many thanks for your kind messages of consolation, apropos. Especially Darren.
You might also be forgiven for guessing that I've unwittingly blurted out details of a lifetime of "financial irregularity" - and that your favourite blogger is (a) a tax fraudster, or (b) an offshore millionaire, caught at last, or (c) some rich git with a ten inch portfolio.
None of the above is true, either. The simple fact is that I have many, many years of "extreme taxation" behind me, the most recent (apart from Thursday) of which you can read here. It's quite funny.
And the background to all those is a modern form of intellectual torture called Self-Assessment Tax Returns. Which are way too complicated for any normal individual to fill in. And which I shouldn't even be receiving anyway. It's a nightmare of the age.
I often wonder how many people, in some dark January night of despair, take blade to wrist and pour out their last remaining essence over the pink, green and blue abominations. Horrendous. I despise them all.
But enough! On to more important matters - namely the Great Gay Briton contest. Things are coming along swimmingly, both on the scholastic and IT fronts. I'm not permitted to name the friend who is avidly compiling mini-bio's of the nominees, but I can certainly mention Tony my IT manager who's hard at work designing a voting database to record your every whim and folly.
It's to do with MySQL you see. I've always loved that entity - sounds so much like My Little Pony, which I confess I was too old ever to possess. Much too complicated. (SQL, not pony.)
Friday's Hunk of The Week has once again been held over till Monday for retouching. Thanks to Duncan for pointing out that Serena McKellen is probably the camp name of Sir Ian McKellen. (Shame on whoever sent Serena in!) And thanks also to whoever it was for pointing out that now is probably not a good time to start internet rumours about a certain British footballer. It's a jungle out there.
See you early next week, if not tomorrow. Naked Blog is on a sound and prudent financial footing - unlike the British economy, apparently. But my tax will make a difference.
So yesterday I spots this electricity bill, don't I? Ninety-five quid, it said. And some pence. "That's not too bad!" I thought. "I'll pay it!!" So I phones them up, don't I, and gets this chick called Vicky. Vickychick.
"It's a hundred and eighty pounds," chirps Vicky, sweetly.
"But my bill just says ninety-five," I retort, with that sinking feeling you get as you sense your meagre assets vanishing down the AC/DC plughole. "Oh - there's been another account since then," she goes on cheerfully. "But it's only an estimate. Why don't you give me a meter reading now?" So I gives her the reading.
"I'm so sorry, Mr Blog," she replies. "That'll be two hundred and twenty pounds."
Ninety-five to two hundred and twenty in three short minutes. Talk about big spender.
PRUDENCE NO MORE!
But it gets worse! Much worse. Pin back your ears and cop a load of this...
This morning I'm sitting typing away at those Great Gay Briton nominations, wondering if there's anyone left in the UK who isn't on the list, when a knock goes at the door. It's two guys, I spot through the spyhole. Not cops. Or at least, very plain clothes if they are.
"Good morning!" the first one says, somewhat accusingly, once we'd swapped identities. (They were Sheriff Officers.) "I'm here to arrange forcible entry, and to take a note of all your possessions."
"Oh dear," I goes, thinking more of the mess than of my possessions, which wouldn't feed a chicken for a week. Never been a possession person - treasures upon earth, and all that. I'm sure I wrote that verse. Plus I got the moths and the rust.
To be continued... out to lunch with Sandra my personal manager. She and her family have driven all the way from Wick to see Alabama 3 in Glasgow. I confess I've never heard of Alabama 3. Nor even Alabama 1 and 2.
Well - someone had to do it! Your nominations either in the comment box, or by email to the address on the right. No limit on the number of people you can suggest.
We might not actually make 100, in which case I'll select a suitable round number. Voting details will be announced later.
Heterosexuality is not a barrier to consideration, provided the person made a significant contribution to the welfare of British gay people.
Overseas people are more than welcome to take part in the nominations and voting process. Stupid/frivolous suggestions will be ignored, but they are quite welcome.
Categories will include...
News Update Tuesday 9am: Almost TWO HUNDRED nominations have come in already, in less than 24 hours. But there's still time to name your own man or woman. I'll post the list-to-date here later this morning. Thanks for taking part, and also for publicising this essential survey! Voting details to follow...
I was going to blog a bit depressed today, but was trying not to. I was going to complain that since Friday lunchtime - to the very hour when I started work - the sky has been glorious while I've been locked inside a smoky, windowless hell.
Then I was going to predict that Charles Clarke will definitely be our next Prime Minister. (Maybe after a short Conservative intermission.) Rounding off with, I've never understood the Left (which is what the papers are painting the leadership of the FBU), slugging it out with a Labour Government. I thought they were supposed to attack the Tories. At least Scargill and Thatcher were on opposite sides.
But then I took a glance at the fluorescent Destruction For Dummies, whose colour Lyle tells me is a skit(?) on the Dummies series of books. Aren't those Dummies books just the biz? But they're running out of things which dummies can reasonably be expected to understand. I mean, "Windows for Dummies" was one thing. "Internet for Dummies", even. But "Superstring Theory As Adapted To A Variable Speed Of Light Universe For Dummies?" You couldn't make it up.
And DFD sent me to Kitchentable, which is Simply The Best. Thank you.
I've now learned Declaration and Class, btw. Look out for big changes here while I practise.
Is blogging consistent with living a full and rewarding life? (Particularly when there's so little daylight?)
Mark sips his Guinness reflectively, after a hard day of life-saving and generalised manliness. Mark is 26, single and looking for love. A must-see. (And just look at those lashes, girls!) Definitely one for your collection.
Let your light so shine before men...
Bought some daylight bulbs yesterday, as recommended by my new friend Lyle. They were £2.28 each, so I only got three to try them. But then I got a bit drunk in the Port, and left them behind. Never mind - something to look forward to for next week.
Spent some quality time with an old friend Rex in the pub also, in which I confess I berated him somewhat. "Over the years you've made three attacks on my writing, Rex," I said to him. "First the Port o Leith message board, (now removed because of unpleasant messages - not Rex's), then something a bit too boring to write here, and finally Dysfunktaboy."
Rex, was quiet, paused, wondering how much I was risking in my drunkenness. "I don't mind, though," I continued. "I'm still going strong, no matter what turns up."
He mollified, calmed me, although in truth I wasn't that mad. "Frankly I adore Dysfunktaboy, darling," I pressed on. "It's probably the definitive comment on what we all do."
Congratulations to Darren, who is now an official Fire Warden. But is it just an incendiary device?
Darren also suggests - on the transient, ephemeral Tagboard - that we should start a newspaper here, with Rex doing Beachcomber funnies, caitlin on fashion, sarah on nightlife, and yours truly as photo-journalist. Food for thought. Definitely.
Next week I'll tell you about the previous, highly successful attempt at that, run by Ally and Ian. It was called InterPOL, with POL standing of course for Port o Leith. Still talked about when too many pints slip down too many throats.
In the (hopefully temporary) absence of the Naked Tagboard this morning (again!), here are some pretty pics for you to look at.
Out and about in my comment boxes
Many, many thanks to so many of you who pop up here and there with your pearls. Especially this morning to Lyle of Destruction for Dummies for his advice over daylight light bulbs. I'll certainly give them a whizz.
Terreus is a frequent visitor here also, and his page is well worth a peep. Rob - who braved New York recently with Dave and Darren spends his working life mingling with the stars, and Gert writes some lively stuff too.
Everybody Needs a Shady Lane is a fascinating piece, written by one whom I can only describe as a Med Student with a death fixation. Possibly C for Caution.
Now - what's happening in Royston Vasey? Let me think... My friend Babs the chef is having mother problems of an invasive nature, so I gave her some quite strict advice. Pamela the barmaid wasn't overjoyed when I described her new boyfriend as looking like a "butch Prince Edward", and Ian (Ina Recliner) told me I sounded like the fat old uncle in Withnail. Sounded like, not looked like, he was quick to assure. Hmmm. Otherwise, business as usual.
Oh - I started my new book on HTML and CSS yesterday. It's by Andrew Moreton, but note the "e" in the middle - your guarantee that it won't have too much Diana stuff inside. So far I haven't dared go much beyond what I already know, which is a href, img, table, tr and td. Eat yer heart oot, Isaac!
It's not that I'm unhappy. Or bored. Or concealing some awful truth. The simple fact is I'm not doing much these days.
This period, for me, is really a time of "knuckling down", and "getting it over with" - until January, that most glorious of months. OK - I know it rains, and snows, and is freezing in January, but there's another factor - one which only the SAD people will spot - that in January the days become noticeably longer. Noticeably here means very little, but nevertheless observable to the practised eye.
The trick is to get it here as soon as possible. We just don't do December, you see. December is horror - the ghost of Christmas as once it was but never to be again. My temporal increment. The anniversaries of some no longer here. And it starts in twelve days time.
I'm finding speaking difficult already. The effort of forming the words, and the idea that they're pointless anyway. Whatever I say, or do, or think will make not one whit of difference to what will happen, in any case. So why bother? Why not just sit wallowing in the ignorant shit the papers serve up? Or the supremely silly Alan Davies (who at least has moderated his hair) bleating on about John Lennon being the "greatest Briton of them all." How stupid.
Protect and survive. I will go on to enjoy another year. It's not time yet. It's nowhere near, in fact. People are my business now, and age is no barrier to that investigation. Quite the reverse, indeed.
And people includes of course you. I was glancing back (in some mild desperation), at One Year Ago on Naked Blog, (Scott's New Boots) and reading the comments. Not one of the three comes anywhere near us now. We must have changed. Deteriorated. Gone off the boil.
Germaine Greer writes about people here, and says next to nothing. Julie Burchill does likewise here, and says even less. I guess us girls are all feeling the pinch these days - redundant.
Sometimes it seems the only ones who've really got it sussed are my bingo ladies. Widowed, most of em, with nowt but infirmity to look forward to, they somehow struggle on. Where there's life there's hope.
They help each other. Those in their sixties will call at the homes of the seventies and eighties, and assist them across the road. Then help them up the stairs - the older of the pair often resplendent in lipstick and powder amongst the facial folds.
The Company only wants their money, of course. Business. But me, I try and give a little back, with switched on smile and fake courtesy far beyond the demands of the meagre wage. Maybe someday someone will do that for me. Or maybe not.
Oh dear. This isn't what you come here for. You come more like my ladies, for a little slice of me to cheer you up. ("Well, at least I'm not as bad as that sad old cow.")
So I do my best. I fetch your stick, and jump through your hoop. "Good boy!" Sometimes I even get a mention on your own sites - a doggiechoc if ever there was. Bow. Wow.
Discoverer v Creator. And that's where the rub lies. Scientists only speed things up. If Newton had succumbed to the plague, we would still have exactly the same world we have now. Someone else would have figured out the Universe, at least to the (necessarily) limited extent he did. (Albert Einstein was big enough to acknowledge that fact in his lifetime.)
Without Shakespeare (or Mozart, or Beethoven), we simply wouldn't have their great work. Ever. In a zillion years of distant galaxies.
But, notwithstanding, my vote still goes to Newton. I can't disrespect my first twenty-one years by doing anything else.
PS We're Number four in the quantum universe for Tristram Hunt Newton. Below The Observer, but above both The Guardian and the BBC! (To say nothing of the Geological Society! Who they?)
Hehe. Too much. Too soon. He saw the whole of the moon.
It's not even 11am. Today I must, really must actually do something. Been so long. Thanks for listening to my miseries. Tata the noo!
Today I can't think of a single thing to write about. My head is still full of Newton (why wasn't I a genius too?), and Durham Cathedral (would I have been happier as a Bishop?)
Would a single day of genius be worth a lifetime of personal and emotional torture? Yet many have torture without any upside in sight.
What did Christianity have a thousand years ago that it no longer does? Is there room for both rationality and mystery? No-one has explained everything you know. Nowhere near, in fact.
So we flit from blog to blog, sampling, savouring and trying to understand what so many voices and lives are telling us. Blogs have no editor, no house style, the supreme variety. As a sordid UK Sunday paper used to boast... "All of human life is here."
So Myra is dead. And what of redemption and forgiveness? Who sets the tariff, who calls the shots?
In earlier, more Christian times, the woman would have been tortured and killed by the mob. She didn't get that.
Was sparing her life the ultimate forgiveness, the prime humanity? "A life for a life," says The Bible. "Thou shalt not kill," says The Bible.
It's still today. So still barely a leaf trembles, the few which still hang on in sere fragility. What an astonishing few days I've spent, learning anew some things I thought I'd got the t-shirt for.
It's a period of "greats". Great Britons and Britain's Best Buildings on the BBC, and last night the biggest-selling UK records on Channel Four. Only one surprise in that latter list, and that was the absence of ABBA. That Boney M were the most successful black band startled me a little also. Yes, Brown Girl in the Ring and Rivers of Babylon are quintessential pop, and deserved every success - but so also are Baby Love and You Can't Hurry Love.
The Sixties and Seventies in general seemed under-represented, in terms of sales, and I can only put that down to rising affluence. In my own student days, a 45 single cost seven and sixpence, (38p) out of a total weekly grant of ten pounds. You thought very hard before purchasing. Also, not every home even contained a "record player" as they were then known.
So, sales alone do not greatness reflect. And am I the only one who finds not only Bohemian Rhapsody, but the entire Queen output, quite emetic? There can be no argument that the Stones were bigger - astronomically so - than young Gareth and young Will, yet there were the latter two gents in all their post-pubesence, whereas Mick and pals didn't figure once in the top sixty.
I've been glued to the telly this last week over a couple of Newton programmes. First Jacob Bronowski presented a marvellous lecture on Newton's work and philosophy, followed on Friday by Tristram Hunt's drama-doc about his life.
Newton was lonely. He had no friends. He never had sex. He spent all the time which most people devote to those pastimes thinking about the universe - somewhat successfully, as it turned out. If you have even the slightest interest in either humanity or science, then look out for the repeats of those.
Notwithstanding the danger of dramatisations, and the tendency to create cliche from the flimsiest of evidence, the performances of Newton as boy, young man and mature man were both thrilling and chilling. There was a sequence of him aged about 11 standing outside in a gale, jumping with the wind and against it, then writing down his results. Cut to NASA spacecraft launching. Cue voice-over, "The entire basis of modern science depending on the experiments of one lonely schoolboy." You couldn't make it up. (But maybe they did.)
Newton was by far the most-taught figure during my schooldays. Pure maths, applied maths and physics at A level. (Oh yes - we did real subjects in those days! Media studies, sports studies and fashion studies were undreamt of.)
Hardly a day passed without optics or laws of motion or gravity turning up in one lesson or another. We were steeped in his work - yet they (my teachers) told us nothing of the man. If even ten percent of the Tristram Hunt programme were to be shown to depressed, impressionable teenagers, then the scientific universities would be filled overnight.
I've mentioned before my fondness at that time for forest and nature, but there was another part - the part which wondered, "Is there a God? Or is that just old-fashioned superstition?"
The view I formed then has remained more or less intact since, that the religion of Christianity probably deserves the latter of those questions, whereas the answer to the first is possibly, or probably, yes. Twenty years later I was to be confirmed and strengthened in my God view when I learned the practice of meditation. But that is for another time. Today it's a certain church, the nearest one of significance in my youth.
I was super-glued to the telly last night over Dan Cruickshank's programme on Durham Cathedral. Just like the Newton programmes, I learned more in one hour than in the previous fifty years. This type of television can often be thrilling. But when it's showing a building in which you spent so many hours of your youth - singing, playing, praying - then the shock can be tenfold.
Durham was the ultimate millennium project. Started in 995, it was an attempt to ward off nothing less than the return of Satan, which was confidently predicted for the year 1000. (And all we had to worry about was the millennium bug!)
Cruickshank showed us the pillars, with all their masonic symbolism. (See panorama - if it's working.) There were Sufic and Muslim influences. He took the plan of the building and drew squares on it, and a circle, and showed how everything fits in place to depict the Holy Trinity. There was even speculation that the building, in accord with the Roman Catholic belief in transsubstantiation, was the Body of Christ itself. Phew!
Then he talked of the Protestant Reformation, and cultural vandalism, and left me with the feeling that a rather odd-looking, if emotionally and spiritually overpowering, building had far, far more to offer than he was able to show in the time.
If you want to be famous for a year, start a weblog. A book might last a couple of centuries. (With a few notable exceptions.) But if you really, really want your ideas to stand for a millennium, try building a cathedral.
So there you have it. Pop charts, astronomical charts and finally cathedral charts. But now it's back to the bingo.
"Too much learning is not a good thing. Do not tinkle like jade, or clatter like stone chimes." Tao te Ching.
TWENTY REASONS WHY IT'S GREAT TO BE A GUY No's 11 - 15
11. You never seem compelled to stop a mate from getting laid.
12. You can sit with your knees apart, no matter what you're wearing.
13. People never glance at your chest when you're talking to them.
14. You can buy condoms without the shopkeeper imagining you naked.
15. Some day you'll be a dirty old man.
Watched Harry Hill last night. (Don't ask - it was a foul night, weatherwise.) So it looks like I wasn't alone in pouring derision on Bob Winston's show Human Instinct (Friday Nov 8)
Mr Hill had a piss-take section called "Winston's Wisdom" which popped up three times, the first of which was, "Food is our fuel. Without it we die." (Winston really did say that. I told you the show was infantile.)
Compare and contrast Dr Jacob Bronowski on Isaac Newton on Wednesday - a repeat from the long-gone Ascent of Man series. Masterly.
Now if they'd given Newton to Robert Winston, it would probably have gone on the lines of, "Newton appears to have very long hair. But wigs were the fashion then for gentlemen."
Newton was part of the BBC 100 Great Britons series. Don't forget Charlie's alternative Great Britons here. What a project!
And talking of projects, Chig's masterly 50 Greatest Number Ones came to an end yesterday. And the winner was... Heck, you'll have to go there yourself. Not my choice, incidentally, but I was too slapdash to get my vote in on time.
Typically ahead of the News, yesterday on NB we featured a photo of Coburg Street, Leith, and the pop-up described it as a former workplace of prostitute women.
Well, what should confront me as I left my local last night than a demo! I've never seen one before, in the flesh - only on the telly. There were about fifty people parading past Leith Police Station. (Yes - there is such an entity. Photo to come once I've taken it.)
Some carried placards: CLEAN UP OUR STREETS!, and PIMPS OUT!, and PROSTITUTES OUT! Some, alas, seemed too young to understand what they were protesting about, but there ya go - get em angry early.
The working girls have had a helluva hard time recently. When I moved here almost thirty years ago, it was the Waterfront, with its sailor and trucker bars which was their natural office. (Not unattractive to the young gayboy either, it must be said. But hush. That's quite enough of that.)
Then came embourgoisiement, and one by one the centuries-old fleshpots elided into wine bars and pub-restaurants with expensive menus. So the "girls" crossed the river, and started a circuit around Sheriff Park - which had the advantage of a natural kerb-crawling route around the Sikh Temple. But the residents complained, and so they were moved on. To Coburg Street, in the second of yesterday's photos below. More complaints, moved on again - this time to Anderson Place, a more industrial area, and therefore, by definition much more dangerous to work in the deserted night.
So to Salamander Street, then back to Coburg briefly and now the poor souls are ekeing it out in Bernard Street, hanging outside the Isobar and Pierino's Fish and Pizza Bar.
Yet this is a relatively enlightened city vis-a-vis the so-called "oldest profession". (Betcha teachers and preachers were in there first, btw. Get everywhere.) There are "Saunas" and "Massage Parlours" a-plenty, where money can readily be exchanged for tactile labour. But they're closed at night - and night is often the time of maximum need.
Anyway - there was a feature about Edinburgh prostitutes on Newsnight Scotland last night. Very posh - in the slot where Jeanette Winterson and Germaine Greer often sit - and that tedious Northern Irish guy I always want to strangle. There was a residents' association leader - English, of course... they always have to take over - and they reached no conclusions whatever.
Edinburgh, like every city, needs a safe 24/7 environment for women to work as prostitutes, providing a service which millennia have shown to be necessary. It also needs counselling, drug-rehabilitation and social services to assist women who wish to leave the profession.
And for those of you fancying a bag-off tonight, well - at least our information is accurate and up-to-date. Unlike Newsnight Scotland!
Well, the strike we all feared has arrived. (For my international readers, we are now in the first day of a 48 hours national firefighters' strike.) It's not for NB to delve into this percentage and that one, as these are done to death elsewhere. But I will mention that I get a bit tired of interviews with firemen, in their homes, always with wives/partners bottle-feeding babies beside them. A subliminal message if ever I saw one. "Family men need money! Bachelors can rot!"
BATTLE OF THE BULGE
But I digress. This dispute is no longer about money, but testicles. You will doubtless have noticed that Andy Gilchrist, the FBU leader, is something of a hunk. Sex on legs, not to beat about the bush.
Firemen are, per se, alpha males. (OK - I know there are a very, very few women firefighters, but by and large, etc. etc.) Alpha males. And the man who leads the alphas must, by definition, be something of an alpha plus. No wimps.
Andy says forty percent. Tony (Blair) says eleven percent. Who's got the bigger dick?
Thanks to all for your kind comments about my recent photo tale, Stroll Down the Water of Leith. Much appreciated. The pictures were taken on Monday 11 November, at approximately 4pm, in an unaccustomed burst of sunshine! The warm colouration in some shots is due to the latitude (57degrees N) which noticeably reddens the sun near the Scottish horizon. Camera was Fuji Finepix A101.
Many, many more pictures to come. There's so much I have to show you. (And at a saving of a thousand words a shot, you can understand my eagerness!)
So I eventually gets meditated, washed and dressed, and goes out to tackle the guy beside my once-lovely tree, now reduced to near-firewood. (Yesterday's post, below.)
He was about forty, with a very masculine face. Isn't it strange how a face can be quite manly, or quite otherwise, even when clearly still attached to a man? (I first wrote "manifestly" for "clearly", but that would be taking alliteration a tad too far. Descent into self-parody, like Elvis in his later period. Here we have freshness still to come.)
"Hi," I said, a little nervously. "Can I ask you why you cut down that tree?" (I deliberately left "tree" un-adjectived, so as not to appear too camp/green/nuts.) However, even in that opening gambit I was wrong. The accepted form in Scotland is, "D'ye mind if I ask ye a wee question, pal...?"
But he was polite. Probably used to that very question - in his chain-sawing line of work. "It was shedding limbs onto the cars in the carpark," he replied. "Plus it was split in the middle, dirt had got in, and squirrels were starting to nest there. Once that happens the end's in sight. I would have given it two more years."
"Oh," I said. "So it was a hazard? Beech was it?"
"Poplar," he said. "And when they're in full leaf it's just like a sail. Could come down in the next high wind."
He smiled, butchly, and then I could see his manly dentition - a blend of natural and porcelain, lightly coloured with tobacco... bit like my own, in fact. "All poplars are hazards," he concluded.
I felt relieved. OK, the tree was gone, revealing some ugly buildings for the very first time - but better I face an eyesore and lose a few £k off my house value than a hapless child gets crushed. It was a fair bargain. A done deal. Poplar no more, and keep the home fires burning.
These we have loved...
blueyonder broadband cracks (Always figured there'd be some.)
naked pics psoriasis (What kind of f*etish is that?)
naked personnel adds (I told you poor spelling was no barrier to finding us.)
Fascinating to see how incredibly uncomfortable Jeremy Paxman was while being interviewed by Michael Parkinson over the weekend. Compared with Elaine Stritch, who at 76 completely stole the show.
And have you ever noticed, that when a woman is interviewed by a man, the interview slews after a minute or two on to the men she has known? Always happens. Kinda indicating that she - as a woman - is less worthy of interest than that other sex.
Although I watched the Stritch/Parkinson thing intently, at the end I was left with more information about Clift, Hudson et al than about this grand star herself. Not nice.
What a Dump
Reminds me of that long-distant day when a couple of queenlings and me trucked up to the Edinburgh Odeon to see no less a luminary than Bette Davis. To describe her performance as stellar would be to debase the word. Were there any heterosexual men in the audience? Talk about electricity!
But that very audience spoiled the show for this particular queenling. You were able to ask questions of la Divine, you see, with roving mikes. But rather than seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn more of Miss D and the industry she had helped create, the questions were banality itself.
"What did you mean in [insert film] when you said [insert line]?"
But she gamely answered, perhaps being the only other person in the building who knew that the lines, of all things, were not of her making or doing.
"What did you think of [insert male actor]?" Again, the trouper gave her best.
"What did you think of Joan Crawford?"
There was a muted crackling sound, possibly that of hell freezing over. The previously electric atmosphere waxed incandescent then, as Ms Davis icily replied, "Considering where she came from, and where she got to, she did very well indeed."
Cue ecstatic applause.
A STROLL DOWN THE WATER OF LEITH - November 2002 Part One - Jaikie Corner to Whisky Bond (Your hovering pointer will tell the tales.)
In the (hopefully temporary) absence of the Naked Tag-board (boy - there must be a lot of news gets saved up over the weekend!) here is something for you to chew over.
TWENTY REASONS WHY IT'S GREAT TO BE A GUY No's 1 - 5
1. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
2. You never have to queue for the toilet.
3. You can open all your own jars.
4. Dry cleaners and hair cutters don't rob you blind.
5. All your orgasms are real.
MY GOD, THEY'VE KILLED KENNY!
And there I was typing the above more or less drivel, when what should happen but a massive crashing noise outside my window, and the collapse of a favourite tree, to the sound of ensemble chain-sawing. That had better not be Roddy the tree surgeon, btw.
My outlook is in ruins. I think I'll get depression now. You bastards! Talk about fall.
I'm going to phone the Council - right now.
Remember this? Taken 29 October. Note the fine beech (I think) to the right.
Or maybe you prefer this. This morning. Note the stricken tree in the foreground.
And now, in the face of utter indifference from the Council (Tree Preservation Department, even), I'm phoning the Edinbugh Evening News.
And I did. And spoke to Stephanie Todd. Maybe Stephanie can do for Edinburgh's fine trees what Florence Nightingale did for nursing. We shall see.
My holiday to Gran Canaria (post below) will never happen, of course. Grateful though I am and have to be to anyone who voluntarily spends even one minute in my company, far less invites one on holiday, there are considerations.
My would-be hosts are normally-fleshed gay men in the 35 - 40 bracket. One is a generation older. While they'll be keen to savour the hot-spots of this sub-tropical idyll, one would rather read the papers and watch the world go by. We'll probably never even meet.
It saddens me sometimes that the whole of the "gay industry" is aimed at the under-40, sexually active/promiscuous set. My own people, the Thora Hirds and Frank Windsors, are simply invisible. Strange. As I'm sure there's a whole magenta pound just waiting to be made.
FEAR OF FLYING
But all the above could be overcome, with a little give and take. Already affectionately referred to by my younger gay friends as "old cow", there would be little or no surprise when I politely declined clubbing, pick-up bars, drug-taking and generalised trolling (with or without a chequebook). That I would be getting ready for bed as they got ready to go out could fairly easily be accommodated.
What can't be overlooked, however, are the means of getting there. And back. Aeroplanes. I simply don't get in them.
I see planes totally in terms of death. There are various scenarios...
the fireball hurtling down the fuselage from the front, accompanied by the sound of screams, and the smell of kerosene and roast. (Did you know why stiletto-heeled shoes have to be removed in a pre-crash situation, btw? It's so that when you stamp on people's faces as you clamber for the exit you don't puncture them.)
the mid-air explosion followed by ten minutes fall to earth, still fully conscious. This first came to my attention at the time of PanAm Lockerbie, and has haunted me ever since. (And don't fall for that guff that they all died in the explosion - there was ample forensic evidence that many were alive on impacting the soil.)
the plane catching fire on take-off, leading to a near-immediate crash. Think of that Paris Concorde.
and finally, much more recently, the suicide terrorist.
Don't get me wrong. Death itself hold no fears whatever. It's just the manner. And plane-related dying tends on the whole to be somewhat less than peaceful.
Safest Form of Transport?
Another industry lie. Let me explain. It's true that, mile for mile, you are less likely to suffer an adverse event flying rather than travelling by road. Just imagine driving from Edinburgh to Gran Canaria! It would take days on end. You'd become exhausted, and of course more likely to have a wee bump.
But, minute for minute, you are at MUCH more risk in a plane, and at the times of maximum peril, take-off and landing, you're in a quite dangerous position indeed. And with flying there's no such thing as a wee bump.
Something to consider, next time you go surfing for flight bargains?
I've deliberately omitted passenger-rage, deep-vein thrombosis and the airborne transmission of tuberculosis, so as not to appear too pessimistic.
Ian, aka Dolly, texting his love to you. (He co-owns the bar, btw, for those of a more "mercenary" bent.)
Ian, a Brummy lad, describes himself as thirty-something married with slippers. And strictly a man's man.
His hobbies include drinking, drinking and drinking.
He boasts a 36 inch inside leg, but - he says - sadly it's all fabric and no substance. Ian is the definitive fashion victim, but in his new role as publican has learned to keep quiet about others' mistakes.
"How d'ye fancy goan on holiday in January with Postman an' me?" says Sam yesterday. "Ay, sure, hen," I reply. "Where tae?"
"Gran Canaria," he announces, proudly. "Hen, ye would love it!" he encouraged. "Oh - I'm sure I would, Sam," I eagerly agree. "Sun, sand, sangria..."
"And sex!" Sam gurgles. "Honey, it's all over the place. You can't escape it!"
"But I don't want to have sex," I plead, chastely.
"You will there, doll," Sam says. There's leather bars, fetish bars, tranny bars.... even backrooms!" he concludes, feeling perhaps that I met get luckier in the pitch dark.
"But I don't want to have sex - with anyone," I repeat. "I'd rather have a cup of tea. Are you two planning on having lots of sex when you're there?"
"Only with each other!" Sam chortles. "We're an item, remember."
"So - if you two don't want sex, and I don't want sex, then why don't we go somewhere a bit less sexy?" I ask, reasonably. "Like Venice." (I should point out to my international readership that by Venice I mean an Italian city, not a muscle beach.)
"No, hen - Gran Canaria it is. Hottest place in Europe in January."
So that's it then - done and dusted. Viva España. With any luck I'll manage to avoid the bars Sam was indicating, and find instead an old man's bar, where we can sit and chat about the Sixties, and wonder what ever happened to The Byrds.
I've now watched two and a half episodes of Professor Sir Robert Winston's show Human Instinct, and can confidently describe it as infantile. Stick to the test-tubes, Bobby!
Don't forget to send those pictures and stories in to Martijn in Holland. You can read the latest one here. Touching.
It's strange how many bloggers are in relationships. I would have thought the appeal would be greater to the neurotically unattached. Like moi.
Oh - and neither should you miss Chig, who's still doing great stuff with his fabby "Favourite Number Ones" project. A must for pop-pickers of all ages.
Gordon the famous Sci-Fi author has abandoned his latest book. "It's awful," he said. "It's just no good - I'm not going to finish it!"
"You're suffering from the Naked Blog Effect," I told him, trying to comfort. "What's that?" he snapped. "Well, people read Naked Blog for a while, and then give up on their own writing in despair. It's a well-known syndrome."
His reply wasn't suitable for a family magazine like this one.
BOOTS ARE MADE FOR GRASSIN'...
Often when I'm advising fledgling photographers, I make a point of stressing how important the backgrounds are. If those same backgrounds include Cannabis plants, then you're really better off not taking your happysnaps to the Boots chain for developing.
"PHOTOGRAPHS handed in to a city centre branch of Boots the chemist sparked off a major drug seizure in the Capital." Edinburgh Evening News Read more...
I think, but can't be sure, that it was the same Boots Company which reported the newsreader Julia Somerville to the police for handing in photos of her child in the bath.
It's been ages since Stuart and I have had a day together. Too long. Regular readers will have seen and read some adventures already, in his guise as Granny. The word "unique" is bandied about a lot these days, but if there's one person it truly does apply to, it's my pal S, aka G. I was all primed up. Ready to rock.
"I fancy a roll first," Stuart said. We'd just met on Junction Street Bridge, above the Water of Leith. The sun was high, and so were we, in our "ages totalling 100" way. (Seniority is no barrier to excitement, btw, you youngsters. You should see my bingo ladies!)
So we plumped for a couple of sliced sausage rolls, and headed off to the seafront. "Look at the state of them!" Stuart declared, pointing to the latest executive housing. "It's a gulag," I agreed. "Quarter of a million each," Stuart announced.
It started pissing down, but I knew the rain would be brief. "Fancy a pint?" I asked him, rhetorically. So we went into the Old Chain Pier, but it was in new hands, and everyone was having lunch. Families. I just can't bear them. (Pun.)
Here we are. Stuart has a bit of a pot coming out of his head, and I've got one coming out of my belly.
"BACK OFF MY SHIRT" PROJECT :)
The shirt I'm sporting there is my undoubted favourite - out of the possibly four I own. It's by ITEMS, and was £3.99 in a local charity shop. The cloth is stiffish, to minimise my contours, and I'm afraid you're just NOT getting it, no matter how many questions you answer correctly. Sorry, mike.
Here's one of my favourite buildings in Leith. Chancelot Flour Mill, owned by (I think) Rank, Hovis, McDougall. I hope the pic does it justice.
ALL THE NICE GIRLS...
And here's the back end of a ship. Stern, I think they call it. Notice the fence in the foreground, and also, if you look carefully, a man in a window waving at us. See - that old pulling magic never totally goes.
FREE NAKED SCREENSAVER!
It's a while since we had any free offers going here, so here's a nice screensaver of genuine Scottish leaves for you to cut out and keep.
I've long been a fan of classy graffiti, and one of my favourite places for it is outside Gare du Nord in Paris, where the word "Toxique" is flourished in a dozen styles and faces. Here are a couple of goodies - if a bit mono - from Trinity Park yesterday.
There's only so far you can walk, so many views you can take in, and even fewer you can successfully record. The camera might not lie, but the eyes and brain certainly can. We settled for a pint in The Stags Head in Canonmills, and Stu, by now on fine form, was giving me his reading for the future.
"I can see a sort of nuclear explosion," he began. "And much uprising... nothing we've ever had before in our lifetimes. The people will rise up, they'll get sick of the bastards who rule and exploit us, and nothing will be the same again."
"Really?" I said, urging him on. "Yes," he affirmed. "It'll be just like that guy in Poland - what do you call him?"
"Lech Walesa?" I prompted. "Aye - that's the one. But all over the world this time."
"That's totally fascinating, Stu," I agreed, a bit worn out. "But I think I've got enough for tomorrow's weblog now."
"I will not be silenced!" Stuart announced. But he was only kidding.
In other news...
After three weeks' lay-off, Charlie of Here Inside bounces back with a vengeance. Talk about comeback. I always knew the BBC top 100 Britons was a load of shite, the moment I saw Robbie Williams in the list. So I've paid it no further mind. Now Charlie has drawn together his own, personal list. Much more satisfying.
Oh - and don't miss tomorrow's Hunk of The Week!! Thirty, shaved head, hairy...
Perverted Yahoo Smilies (Would that be more of a leer then?)
Shetland psychiatrist (Honey if you didn't need one already, you will after reading this tripe.)
amwhores (I told you bad spelling was no barrier to finding us.)
Through the roof...
Record hits yesterday, of 647. (And I only did 600 of em!) Just kidding, folks! Well, it was a record for a non-event day, like a new Guardian listing, or some such rag. On those days we're well into four figures. Look out, News International!!
And it's not a flash in the pan. Last week we had 3778 page impressions, an increase of more than 10 percent over our previous best. It's also an increase of 72 (yes, 72) percent over our first full week on Nedstat. And that was only in September of this year.
Naked Blog - often imitated, frequently surpassed.
But it's not all retards...
A selection of academic institutions who've read this - over the last three days alone...
University College, Swansea, UK
Mikkeli Polytechnic, Finland
University of Wales, Cardiff, UK
Oxford University, UK
Harvard University, Cambridge, USA
Academ Ziekenhuis, Rotterdam, Holland
Edinburgh University, UK
University of Hawaii, USA
Dallas County Community College, Mesquite, USA
University of Illinois, Chicago, USA
Imperial College, London, UK
Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
Silesian Technology University, Poland
University of Denver, USA
Aalborg University, Denmark
University of Washington, Seattle, USA
All those brains... all those hormones... *NB attempts to blush.*
"I'm trying to think where to take C (her young son) and me for Christmas Lunch," said Babs the chef yesterday. We were sitting in The Village, discussing my works Christmas "do". Babs has a delicious party menu, but my co-workers have plumped, in the main, for sandwiches and sausage rolls. Bit plebian, maybe - but at the end of the day, they'll still buy a zillion drinks, and that's what it's all about, now isn't it?
"Does he like Thai?" said Ally the Boss, in all seriousness. "Not really," Babs replied. "I've only just got him on to sweet and sour."
O - what changed days! I thought. When I were a lad of eight, you knew exactly what you were getting. Chicken (which remember was a luxury then), stuffing, and loads of vegetables. Young eyes watched like hawks to make sure they got a fair share of the breast. Breast was best. Legs were for the servants!
I'd recently been thinking about fashion in food. Nowadays everyone bangs on about Thai, but it weren't always thus. I can remember when Chinese was fashionable. Real Chinese... Chow Mein, Sweet and Sour, Chop Suey. None of this "authentic" stuff they churn out nowadays, in such minute portions. A man knew where he was with an aluminium carton full of salty rice, a few peas, and a couple of scraps of chicken.
And Italian! Yes, my bambinos, spaghetti bolognese was once the Hautest of Cuisine, let me tell you! It even came in a bowl, rather than on a plate. Such style! Elegance supreme! Bye, bye meat and tatties!
But things move on. Money must continue to be made, at all costs. "So, what do you think the next food fad will be, once Thai has run its course?" I asked Babs and Ally.
Babs thought. "I think probably Vietnamese," she said, after a few moments. "Well, it's where the stylish people go for their holidays," I chipped in, thinking of a famous blog-colleague. "And of course there's all of South America still to explore," she added. "Do you remember Vesta Curries?" Ally laughed. "Yes, and Heinz tinned spaghetti bolognese!" I joined in. Glory days.
"So what's Vietnamese food like?" I asked her. "It's to do with herbs," she explained. "The Thais only use two main herbs, basil and coriander. The Vietnamese on the other hand use seven of them thrown on top of the dish." "Oh, I see," Ally and I chorused.
Frankly, I can't wait.
TREASON AND PLOT, aka FANTASY BONFIRE
Now, isn't it getting a bit dull and repetitive burning an effigy of somebody who hasn't even been around for centuries, and almost no-one either properly knows or cares what he did? Me, I would bring history (almost) bang up to date and put MARGARET THATCHER on top of mine, with a side-dish of JAMES ANDERTON the former Chief Constable of Manchester. The latter might be already dead, which just means he wouldn't burn as well. Or scream.
So here I am sitting in me jogging bottoms and a t-shirt, without a single thought in my head. Except how glad I am to be alive on such a lovely day. Cloudless blue above the reds of the autumn trees.
I love trees, me. Love them probably more than any living creature. Even at times more than I love you. When I was about fourteen I actually wanted to be a tree, such was my discomfort with the human condition. Or at least my human condition.
Blessed with a combination of massive analytical intellect on top of some emotional frailty, the urgent imminence of adulthood was a terrifying thing. Yet the trees just stood there, strong, seeming-permanent, with no cares, no thought for the day or the morrow.
While my contemporaries enjoyed the things of adolescence, I was struggling with who am I, and why, and what's to become of me when I leave my parents soon. So I made the trees my friends.
I would take my schoolbooks into the forest (it was very close), and sit in the sun reading the mathematics of the Greeks and the physics of Newton. The trees always accepted me - never poked fun or laughed at my growing "difference". After a particularly difficult school examination I would flee to the riverbank to sit and watch the ripples and fish, then reluctantly haul out the books to get ready for the next one. I knew maybe fifty times as much then as I do now.
In a sense I thought that might always continue - knowledge and nature intertwined. But I reckoned without the city. And the loneliness. And the desperation for some human contact as certain as that of the sylvine.
But people are a different kettle of fish.
Emotional intelligence. That's the key. Never heard of it until a few months ago, on some BBC intelligence page or other. And - to be honest - I still have no idea what it is. But now I bring my version of it - my guess at what it is - into my transactions.
You see - being right isn't enough. Knowing with more than 99 percent certainty that your knowledge or analysis of a position is the correct one is never sufficient to convince another. Being more aware than your manager of a course the business should take isn't enough to make the business take that course. There are other factors. Pride. Natural resistance. The other's view of yourself. ("See him - he thinks he's right about every damn thing.")
Emotional intelligence. I'm beginning to use it - with astonishing success, I'm delighted to report.
Out and about this weekend
Only one story dominates our little cyber-community atm, but I'm not going to report it here. The author has made some brave, if not wholly unexpected revelations, which you will find in your own good time. We're not talking a funny night at the opera.
Tune in to the Naked Tag-board tomorrow (Monday) morning, and the person involved might tell you more. Or not.
Roddy the tree-surgeon relaxing after a hard day operating in the forest. Next time he's kindly offered a hot-action chainsaw shot. Roddy is 33, very much a laydeez man, and declares himself happily single. So - why not get those pens to postcards, girls, and tempt him away from those repetitive, monastic habits? It's always more fun when they start off not wanting it, now ain't that just so?
It's been a good week, here at Naked Mansions, where we give daily thanks that we're not a TV presenter with a penchant for unreliable womenfolk. The weather's been ace (at times), the trees are to die for, and so far little sign of the dreaded SAD. We shall see. Back to the bingo today, for my weekly fix of real life. Blessed indeed.
Spent quite some time drinking with Tony yesterday, while he was explaining all about News Feeds, RMS and other things. (I think.) Tres complicated, and I had to confess I hadn't a clue. What started out as a simple, if exhibitionistic, hobby is in danger of turning into the electronic wing of Wells Fargo. Do I really want all those new people reading this stuff? It's my life, you know. Once it was much more private.
OUT AND ABOUT ALL OVER THE PLACE
Tony is particularly impressed with Sarah's site, which he declares has "just about every known gadget on it". The girl will go far. I always knew it. Oh, and yesterday I caught up with Nine's webpage, after a gap of some months. (Nine was my first ever textee!)
A beautiful tale for Halloween is at yesterday's Journal of a Writing Man. Unmissable. And every word of it's true, I tellya.
As mentioned here a few weeks ago, we're always on the lookout for something different from the talented if safe norm. Found another delicious take on the blog phenomenon at Vaguenoodle. I'm starting to enjoy the pisstakes more than the real thing.
Talking of which, I was having a pint with Rex yesterday (He was on my right. Tony on the left. It's quite a common situation for a star to be in), when he told me there was an update on Dysfunktaboy's Blog. If you haven't taken in this one yet, then you really, really should. You'll never look at your own blogging in the same way again.
An interesting Stateside teenblog is here, from Will. (Not Grace. Not Wheaton. Not Young.) This one I found hiding in a comment box on josh's site.
"My days go up and down ... I'm considering clinical depression as an option; it's not my fault, it's chemical."
My sensors detect a hint of plagiarism. This is never good. By all means write near-identical sentences to things you might have read here, if they become apposite to your situation, but at least have the grace to give due acknowledgement. If originality breaks down, and stealing becomes rife, then we're collectively done for. End of lesson. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then it's not you.