Naked Blog

More famous than Susan Boyle!


Friday, February 28, 2003

FRIDAY'S HUNK OF THE WEEK

Alastair (40-something) has been a friend for about five years, and my pub landlord for close to three.

Pictured here in his pub/restaurant The Village, one of Leith's most stylish venues, Alastair combines supremacy of service with a devilishly wicked tongue.

And just look at that cheeky seventies tattoo peeping from under his T-shirt!

A man's man, Ally rides the unavoidable excesses of Edinburgh social and artistic life with flair, keeping just on the right side of repectful.

His hobbies include entertaining (a consummate cook), fine wine and working on his home, which he shares with partner Ian, a former hunk of the week also.

At one time very active in Scottish gay politics, Alastair was last year nominated as a Great Gay Briton. Great laugh, excellent company - what more could you ask?


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HI, HO
(PS Don't forget it's the last day of the month, if you have any pesky balances to think about!!)


I can't believe my spring holiday is almost over. Three more hours. Yesterday I even had to do laundry. Today it'll be back to showering, shaving, ironing and so on. Essential. Trouble is - I've had such a great time... non-stop 24/7 laziness, rather than the mere four days a week of that I normally endure. What a life, eh?

And what have I achieved in my little break? Contentment, company, booze, mental stimulation. But what else, godammit? Where's the salvation in slobbery? What have you actually done?

Let me think...

  • Items washed up, NIL
  • Clothes ironed, NIL
  • Rubbish bags taken out, ONE
  • Letters opened, FOUR
  • Letters actioned, NIL
  • People fallen out with, NIL
  • Playstation 2's bought, NIL
  • Newspapers bought, ONE
  • Blogs enjoyed, LOST COUNT!

    So there you are... a whole new twist to "the third age", as they've taken to calling it. Me, I love it. Now it's back to my bingo ladies, many of whom must be half-way through the fourth age. House!!



    Yesterday in blogworld approached transcendence, as mike's pop decade poll reached the Number One's stage, and a whole new spin-off accidentally arose in the Dolly v Whitney debate. Can today equal all that? Or is it time for some peace, some quietness, on this the last day of the week and month?

    Yesterday's Poll Results
    "Which version of "I will always love you" do you prefer, Whitney's or Dolly's?
    Whitney (14%)... Dolly (59%)... Hate both (27%)
    Not much doubt about that one, then, is there? Notice that the tragic Ms Houston gets far less than those who hate the song altogether. Now, why did it sell by the truckload?

    NB Readers say: Magnum of Bolly for Dolly, and 2 litres of Diet Coke for Whitney.

    PS to Whitney-fans... I'll be leaving this poll up till I think of another one, so there's still time to make a difference. But, frankly, ah hae ma doots.



    It's been brought to my attention by Scott that a major TV News organisation, which cannot be named, has been foxily ripping off our poll topics. Cut it out!

    And, talking of poll topics - never forget that this is your weblog... I'm just the typist. Let me know if there's anything you particularly want polled... politics... TV... lifestyle... blogginess... sex in the second half-century...


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    Thursday, February 27, 2003

    MINUET AND TRIO

    Three sites for you today...

  • Mike's best pop decade poll reaches its grand climax. Get over there and give those sixties what they deserve!

  • Josh rises phoenix-like from last week's ashes with a delightful selection of his own stories. Enjoy his generosity.

  • Steve, definitely one to watch, takes the currently-raging Whitney Houston v Dolly Parton debate to new heights. But as his comments seem - conveniently - to be broken, I've decided to make this the topic of today's Naked Poll. (Well, we've had enough on Iraq for now.)



    Background info: This heated debate arose in mike's comment box over the 1993 Number Two Smash Hit, "I will always love you," by Whitney Houston. (Written by Dolly Parton, who also released a performance.) Simple question: Which version of I will always love you do you prefer? Whitney or Dolly? Please vote, if you have even the slightest knowledge of this song. Much heat and little light has been generated so far.

    Yesterday's poll results:
    "Do you want to hear showbiz people's views on the Iraq crisis?"
    Always (16%) Sometimes (21%) Never (63%)
    Not much doubt about that one, then.

    NB Readers say: "Keep yer gobs shut, folks, and stick to what we pay you for!"


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    Wednesday, February 26, 2003

    POLL POSITION

    Many thanks to all who voted in the previous Naked Poll. The results were...
    "Do you want to see John Major working as adviser to the British Government during the Iraq crisis?"
    40 percent YES - 60 percent NO.
    There's some reaction to that in the comment box immediately below. Me, I was pleasantly surprised by the extent of the YES vote. Pick up the phone, Tone!



    Today's poll is also on the Iraq situation, but hopefully with more global interest. These days you can't switch on an Awards Ceremony, or pick up a popular paper, without seeing something on the lines of, "Kylie Says No To War!!". (My apologies in advance to Miss Minogue, chanteuse of these parts, if she never said anything of the sort. It's a hypothetical illustration.) And I'm sure you get the same where you live.

    But do we really want to know what every last bit-actor and clapped-out recording star thinks? About anything? Your chance to have your say, on the sidebar.


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    IF YOU GO AWAY

    Yes, it's true. Stuart seems quite serious about selling his flat and moving back to his hometown in Fife, to live with his newly-widowed mother. And of course I wish them all my best.

    On one level. But let's never underestimate the power of selfishness. You don't grow as long in the tooth as this punter without knowing yourself pretty damn well.

    We started in The Malt and Hops, after his chefing shift. Twenty-three lunches... apparently that's pretty good. Couple of pints of Nessie Monster Mash, then time for Tubby bye-bye, and where to next? "Let's try Malmaison!" I suggested, already somewhat confident. "Now, Stuart - Malmaison is very posh," I advised him as we walked along The Shore, past the Floaty Boat, and the refurbishing of Carpe Diem. "And face it sweetness, we look like a couple of scruffs. So let me do the talking - that'll be more impressive."

    But my anxiety was such that when faced with an impossibly desirable young barman, resplendent in black suit and white shirt, the ten pound note I was clutching tore into two pieces! Talk about breaking the ice!



    We chose a seat facing over the river, far enough away from a laptop presentation going on to our right, yet not overhearing three power-dressed women somewhere behind us. We watched some John Lewis vanmen delivering furniture for the latest luxury development. "You can have the better-looking one, Stu," I generously offered. "And I'll have his pal." "That's you!" Stuart laughed. "Always putting yourself down." "No, honey - I'm just a realist," I laughed. (Real reality meant, of course, that both the vanmen were on another menu altogether.)
    Did you see that show Buried last night, btw? Talk about homo-erotic. Or was it just me? I have no sensation below the waist these days, so can only remember what I might once have felt. (For those who missed it, this was a play set in prison, with the topman convict selecting and seducing (with implied force if necessary), his newest young bumchum. Awesome. Muscles, tattoos, nipple-torture. I had to switch it off.

    "Touch it!" (Pointing to his dick.) "Touch it or I'll fucking kill yer!" Too much for a white lady. Pity it was sanitized beyond believability. (People who enjoyed that play might now understand why Jean Genet was such a hit in his day.)
    Across the river to Bar Sirius, my first time there. Ultra-trendy, cooler than Christmas, a magnet for all the local webby people. I was totally taken by the condom machine in the Gents, which as well as the essentials offered a full range of optional extras! Anadin, Resolve, and even Wrigley's Chewing Gum.

    I could see Stuart was pleased I was enjoying the pub he'd selected. I'll miss him.


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    Tuesday, February 25, 2003

    LATER THAT DAY...

    There once was a time, long long ago, when a man could come in from the pub and write whatever shite came into his head, safe in the knowledge that no-one would ever, ever read it. Some really good stuff got written that way.

    But then come readers, and responsibilities, and then the spontaneity goes flying oot the windae. So we jump around comment boxes, being a complete arse, and then spend the night worrying about the flak. Not good. Tonight it's here, all here, in your favourite local, one-stop KwikSaveBlog. The very Lidl of weblogs.



    But what really drove me through here, away from the comparative safety of the telly, was seeing a programme called "A Country Parish". What's wrong with that? I hear you ask. Well - in one sense nothing. The young Vicar dots around the place, comforting the bereaved, chatting to this one and that one, and being the all-round good guy. He's got three great things going for him... a narration to die for (total PR for the Church of England), a fashionable name (Jamie - as in Oliver), and a Big Brother face and intellect. So far, so not so bad.

    But what the programme didn't address, in the ten minutes I saw, was a much more important and fundamental issue - the necessity, or even desirability, of the very priesthood itself. Of whatever faith or denomination.



    For you to understand my point I should explain here my own position. I know, beyond shadow, that there are on earth men (which includes women, but forgive me, I'm ever so old) and creatures. Men (etc.) are higher than creatures. Even higher than man is an entity, force, spirit, being, organiser, creator, unknowable thing - which I'm happy to call God. This is a belief, not a demonstrable fact.

    What I'm not happy with is the Country Parish thing above. This is the idea, explicit in all of Christianity, and Judaism, and I*s*l*a*m, and probably other such cults, that there needs to be a Priestly Class. Men, (almost always) who have some closer, more exclusive relation to God. Men who are there to intercede between God and myself. To (as good as) forgive my sins. To bury my body. To speak on my behalf.

    Fuck OFF!! My relation with my God needs no man to get in the way. No intermediary. No-one who feels he is "holier" than me. No-one who's passed a few exams in Biblical scholarship. The way to God is not through any third party, nor through eating any silly wafers, nor even by some millennia-old doctrine telling me what I may and may not do. Or think. Or shag.



    Try Buddhism. Or yoga. Or a non-doctrinal meditation such as TM. Then you'll really know God. With not a Jamie or a Justin to be seen.
    "And with Angels, and Archangels, and all the Company of Heaven..."
    Forgive me - of course I used to be a choirboy - forty years ago. Book of Common Prayer, acne vulgaris, and constant hardons under the cassock. And all those outfits! What queen-in-waiting could resist?

    But most of us grow out of the outfits, in the same way we put aside our jigsaw puzzles and pop collections. Most of us. The path to God is not to be found in the arid, intellectual study of the Seminary, nor with kilogramme on kilogramme of blind, dumb faith - but rather in the still-lively practices of the East. That, and that alone, is the prime legacy of the Sixties. And it took four Liverpool lads to show the way. Love, Love Me Do.


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    MAJOR ATTRACTION

    Like it or not*, folks - we're going to war. Well, probably not me, as I'm almost sixty, apart from any other considerations. But the scene is set, the die is cast. Now who ya gonna call for advice?

    George Junior has his dad, of course - veteran (not literally) of Gulf War One. But Tony Blair? No-one. That's why I started the poll just to your right there. It's abundantly clear that John Major, Prime Minister during the first Iraq war, has a wealth of experience to offer.

    So vote yes to John Major. I know it's only a small poll, not yet statistically significant, but to the best of my knowledge it's the only one so far available. For now. And that's all l really aimed for.



    *Don't be misled by the phrase "like it or not". This is a deliberately neutral statement. Me, I have no opinion, nor could I have, on the best way forward in the Iraq situation. Why not? Because I have no information.

    No information? The telly and papers talk about nothing else! Precisely. And who owns the majority of global TV and newsprint? You hardly need me to tell you.

    Things will progress according to one and only one requirement - the needs of business. From oil to arms, and everything in between. Money makes the world go round. Money is the root of all evil. Yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice. I'm sure I'm the wrong species.

    Charlie writes with passion here.


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    FROM DAWN TILL DUSK

    You know the sort of day which starts off badly then goes down hill? Well, yesterday wasn't like that at all. Do you really, really think I would insult my street-wise readers with such formulaic tat? Here on Naked Blog, even the clichés are original.

    I had a dental appointment at 9.15. Now, for many that would be as nothing, but for those who work in the leisure industries, that hour is the middle of the night no less. I had to use an alarm... try and remember how to set it. And although I gave myself two whole hours to shower, shave, meditate, then walk a length of only 20 mins, still I arrived with only 40 seconds to spare. But I made it. I've decided it's a Universal Law of Time - that no matter how early you try to be for a dentist, you always end up rushing and panicking at the last minute.



    To The Village then, just round the corner, to celebrate a successful appointment. Successful in this context means none of the old buggers had to come out. (Remember, my teeth have been erupted longer than you've been alive, mate.) Replace one disintegrating filling, then two more for cosmetic reasons (never did quite get round to stopping smoking). But that's all next month. Yesterday was for living.

    "Hello... it's only me..." I coo-eed into the half-opened Village door. "I know you're not open yet, but can I come in anyway?"

    "Would you like a cup of coffee?" Alastair the owner offered, but he must have seen me blanch. So a restorative pint of San Miguel was quickly produced. (I'd had none the day before, you understand. Nada. Alcoholism just wasn't on the menu, even if it was only 10am.)

    We did a quick run through the latest gossip, but I didn't outstay my welcome, as he and Babs had mucho to do. So then to Stockbridge, via Water of Leith and Henderson Row. Passed one of my former married affaires, but he didn't recognise me. Plus he looked 100. They all do, now. Bit depressing. Vomity, even. Thank God it's all behind me.



    Twas eleven of the clock now, that big ole sun still pouring down its anti-depressant goodness. However, Bert's Bar seemed unwilling to open at the advertised time, so I ended up in the pub next door. A local's bar, which means the barmaid glares at you if you're not one. They're really, really good at that... have you ever noticed? Or maybe you don't have locals where you live.

    At least it was oldboy regulars, so I didn't feel too out of place. One by one they streamed in... "Morning, Henry... morning, Willy..." "Did you hear about that wee guy that died yesterday?" "No, really, who was that?" "He used to come in here after the bookies... stood just about here... had a nip and a half-pint... blue jumper and walking stick... lived in the sheltered housing..."

    "What happened to him, Willy?" "Choked on a fish-bone... by the time they got him to the hospital his brain was starved of oxygen... had to switch the machine off..."

    "Shame..." "Yes, remind me never to eat fish with bones in!" joked Willy.



    To Roseburn then, via more Water of Leith. And the Murrayfield Arms, where I toyed with the idea of lunch, but postponed it. Half pint of Stella and a wee. Then to Balgreen, and The Wheatsheaf. Steak Pie, Chips and Peas, with a pint. Nice. They had "hang on the wall" tellies. First I'd ever seen. Three of them, all showing different programmes. Scott said later that they're about three and a half thousand quid each, and he's waiting till they come down a bit. Finland's full of them, apparently, but they're very hot. "Save on your heating," said Big Al.

    Oh there was more, much more - but I sense that's maybe the end of your concentration span, so we'll leave it the noo. My life is too fascinating for print. Deserves a TV show. At least.


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    Sunday, February 23, 2003

    MAJOR CONTRIBUTION

    Here at Naked Blog we don't go in for politics all that often. Others have more time to ponder these matters, often for a living. It's been said before that the last people who should be running the country are politicians, and to that we should maybe add that the last people who should be commenting are professional commentators.

    Por qua? Because they've all got jobs to hang on to. Except for me. On this transient, ephemeral journal at least.



    So we become circumspect, dropping bits of observation here and there. On February 6 NB was waxing enthusiastic about the Prime Minister's performance with Jeremy Paxman. Comment and transcript are provided. Twelve days later, in a conversation with a friend, we offered:
    "We compared Gulf War II with the previous one, when Mrs Thatcher simply got on with it, without all the present-day agonising. "That's the difference between her and Blair," John opined. "New Labour can't do anything without a focus group." [Note: if it was really Major rather than Thatcher, then just let me know.]"
    To which uncertainty Gert of Mad Musings kindly informed that:
    "Saddam invaded Qwait in Aug 90, Thatch fell in Nov 90, Bombs started in Jan 91."
    Thanks for that! The internet is a wonderful thing!



    And so is television, sometimes. You could have knocked me down with a UN Resolution when who should pop onto my TV this morning than John Major himself. Mr Major was simply brilliant, eclipsing probably every other commentator I've seen. And what added such authority to his words? Well, I can tell you. (a) He's not watching his ass. (No longer in politics.) And (b) unlike any single person in HM Government, he's already led the country to war. In the Gulf.

    Now, once again, I'll decline a line by line summary, but rather link to the BBC's own report. (2003 now, folks! Newspapers are, if not dead, then becoming more redundant by the very week.) Suffice to say that his knowledge, his experience and manifest wisdom on Iraq and the Middle East make him an obvious candidate for a position as special adviser to the Government.

    Message to the Prime Minister: Give John Major a job. Now. (And just imagine how impressed GWB will be chatting to his dad's former buddy.)



    Update: Specially Commissioned Naked Poll Have your say on the sidebar now!



    Now, all of the above is deliberately offered apropos of some interesting stuff on plasticbag yesterday, in which the irrepressible Tom goes to war with Bill Thompson of the BBC. In his response, Tom talks about the relative functions of blogging as opposed to newsprint. He states:
    "The whole thing is based on a really simple misconception - they keep viewing each individual weblog as if it was competing with the New York Times. But instead of doing that, they should be looking at how hundreds of thousands of (proper media) readers have completely shifted from passive reception of news to repurposing it, commenting upon it and - on occasion - challenging it..."
    Couldn't have put it better myself. So I said so, in his comment box. And above I've just written my first ever message to the Prime Minister. Aggregation.

    Out and about with Gloria, The Guardian and The Observer

    Roses to David of Swish Cottage, that most mentioned of sites, for yet another one in yesterday's Guardian. (My advice: skim the article, as it could wrap a whole day's fish suppers, and jump straight to David at the end.) No less than 51 hits accrued also to this present page from David's latest fame. Aggregation.



    Aggregate this: get yourself over to mike at troubled diva, who's midway through one of his best projects yet - a poll to decide which is the best ever decade for pop. Conveniently starting in the 1960's, as only this reader was alive before then, yesterday you got to vote for the sublime Gloria! by Laura Brannigan. Gloria! GLORIA!!

    Get over there and vote for Gloria now. (And please don't read the comment box - or you'll see how radge (Scot slang: mentally disordered) I can get when visiting other sites.)
    "You forgot the white t-shirt, long since ripped off, stuffed into your jeans, and gaily flailing from which ever side took your fancy. And why stick at Heaven when Fire Island was available? Liquid Gold was OK, but me I was always a Rush man. This project is worth it for Gloria alone!"
    Sadly, there's more in that vein. (I was only 36 at the time.) We don't have much money, but we do see life.



    Blogging article - another one! - in today's Observer. John Naughton. Strangely, Guardian Unlimited shows nothing as yet on the Frost/Major interview. Can't imagine they get Sunday off...


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    Friday, February 21, 2003

    FRIDAY'S HUNK OF THE WEEK

    Photographed outside the Port o Leith Bar. Decorations by Sandra, my personal manager.Andrea (28) I've known for a few years, although he's lived hereabouts for ten. Once memorably described (by me) as "the poor man's Ray Liotta", he's fiercely proud of his Italian heritage, and will happily launch into tales of rural Italy at the drop of a glass.

    As you can see from the pic, one or two had been dropped yesterday!

    As well as being half-Italian, this young stud is also a quarter Fijian! Talk about exotic. Good manners prevented any questions about the remaining, undiscussed, quarter.

    Andrea works as a swimming pool lifeguard, and wouldn't you just love to pass out in the water when he's around, girls!

    Currently unattached, Andrea describes his ideal woman as being "just like Doris Day".



    There I was last night, sipping a refreshing pint of Guinness in The Malt and Hops, while anxiously looking around for a prospective Hunk of the Week, when who should come in but Grania Forbes, the best-selling author of various Queen Mother books. Fascinating chat, and she's kindly promised to lend (or even give) a copy of My Darling Buffy: The Early Life of The Queen Mother.

    Sadly, now that QM has popped her clogs, Grania has something of a vacuum in her writing. But she did confess to feeling "sick as a parrot" when The Lost Prince came on the BBC. "I could have done that!" she declared.

    Confidentiality restrains me from passing on any hair-raising goss about Windsors plc, or even alluding that such had taken place. It didn't.

    She said that in journalism there's an upper age limit of 35, after which they ditch you and take someone new out of college.



    Readers who hang on my every word will have noticed recent references to a bad smell lurking in my home. Well, it's got worse. Unfortunately, rather than emanating from one particular spot, which could be investigated and treated, it's more a background phenomenon.

    During the night the startling idea came that it could be related to the kitchen sink being blocked for a few weeks. Do you remember that scene early on in Withnail and I? The one where they decided to do the washing up? "What's that??" asked Paul McGann, pointing at this horrific, disgusting mess in the sink. "It's... it's... material!" declared Richard E Grant.

    Just like that. I feel constantly nauseous. Bad air. Now what would Andrea's ancestors have called bad air?



    Well - it's been a testing few days for this weblog. Thank you to all who recognised the sincerity (as opposed to drama) of my plight, and rallied round in comment-boxes and emails. I salute you all. Later today, if this damn smell ameliorates, I'll list out some of the wonderful points you made.

    Both Extreme Tracking and Documents referring to this site have ceased recording hits arising from Naked Blog. I feel like something out of 1984. (The book, silly - not the year.) Do they know something I don't? And what are those big birds circling up there?


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    Thursday, February 20, 2003

    QUESTION TIME

    I've been burying material all over the place recently, so today it's Compendium Box! (Extremely interested in your views here.)

  • [Celebrating a passage by josh, a couple of posts below, and contrasting it with the mainstream ouevre...]
    "Read it and weep, we hucksters and shysters of the razzle-dazzle, three-ring circus we all so blindly rushed to build. Blogging, the potentially greatest advance in human communication since the Royal Mail, cast down and over-written by ratings-chasing vacuous tat. And NB is no exception. For now."
  • And then in a comment box below, developing the same despairing theme...
    "I came myself to webwriting for an exchange of human experience. In that context, 99.99 percent of what I now see is as driven slush. Clearly it's not for me to dictate the nature of the web (although there are those - living not one thousand miles away - who would do so.) But at the moment I'm tired of Smash Hits. Tired of OK Magazine, and especially tired of Hunk of the Week, and any further prostitution of my craft. I like web-hits. I like learning about human nature. Not sure the two are compatible. Tricky. What to do next?"
  • Some further navel-gazing...
    "Me, I'm undecided what to do now. It seems like there's been a mountainous effort for very little result. I've made one or two people smile. Put forward one or two (not very original) ideas. Shown some stylistic (maybe cliched) guidelines for beginning writers.

    It's nice, a little, to have achieved a small position in the UK blogworld. Nice, yet always there's the knowledge that you're only a week away from oblivion if ever you stop. "Do you remember old so-and-so? Wonder what he's up to now...?" And of course, "Do you reckon he's come back as anybody?"
  • And finally - on a more cheerful note - this about the nature of home taping in 1963. It's inspired by mike's interesting poll about pop. I begin by referring to a Brenda Lee top ten hit from 1963, when unlike almost everyone reading this, I was a sentient being...
    "All alone am I. Round about then Brenda Lee was voted NME Greatest Female Vocalist. Must have been just about also time for the emergence of the Misses Shapiro and Black. As there hasn't been either a Beatles or Stones mention for the two weeks you've been filling us in, then maybe the real sixties hadn't quite started yet, in which case put Cilla on ice for a year.

    We would tape the Top Twenty on Sunday teatimes from the Light Programme. Six o clock I think it was. The DJ was called Tom Brown, and the good thing about him was he didn't talk over the intros. If you got even one spoken word fucking up your songs then you lost all your cred with your pals.

    Radio was strictly valve am, tape was reel-to-reel 3.75 ips, Grundig the bees' knees if you could afford it. A four-track machine got you twice as much taping time as twin-track. They cost around thirty quid, which was about two weeks' average wage. Most people took out HP.

    Sorry I can't vote, as I will not listen to Wham. Brenda I can hear every word of in my mind, even after forty years, and Eminem already has his place reserved with Stan and The Way That I Am. I need never listen to him again."
    There now, that didn't take long. Now it's still only half past nine, and I have a day ahead of me to enjoy. The first three passages above are not for me to thrust my views at you, but rather to elicit your responses - if any. If none, then I really will know I've been wasting my time, bigtime. It's blog-crisis again here at Naked Mansions. They're periodic.


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    Wednesday, February 19, 2003

    TIRED AND EMOTIONAL

    Silence is golden today. Couple of low-res happysnaps from yesterday. What was that Neil Young lyric... "the something something and the damage done"? There's extra material on the two most recent posts, which you might enjoy. First Darren, now Josh. Where is my "maturity"? Where my thick skin?

    Scottish Executive building (formerly Scottish Office) with ice-floe
    Pair of old queens in the sunset


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    Tuesday, February 18, 2003

    A COUPLE OF PASSINGS

    "He had a good passing," Stuart said to me, as we settled around our pints in The Malt and Hops yesterday. Mine was Dark Island (4.5% ABV, 2.45). Stuart's was something a little stronger, but I forget exactly which.

    "How are you, then?" he asked, as we hadn't met for a fortnight. "Probably a lot better than you," I replied, taking one of his hands in both of mine. It was the closest appropriate intimacy in the circumstances. His eyes looked large and dark, red-rimmed from barely-suppressed grief in his workplace, his first shift back after burying his father on Friday.

    "I don't know what your plans for the afternoon are, Stuart," I said to him. "But if you want to just hang a bit then here I am. If not, then that's fine too." So we hung for a few hours, there and in The Village.



    Babs was in the Village, after her shift also. Everyone I know seems to be a cook these days, and I stand back in total awe. I know it's not rocket science, but to me, quite frankly, it comes pretty close.

    Babs has been ill, very ill, with a kidney stone and associated infection. She's on Augmentin, the last antibiotic I ever took myself, all those years ago. It left me with tinnitus. Doctors make you worse. But maybe tinnitus is better than renal failure. Yes, I've decided it probably is.

    When the infection's cleared up, she's getting her stone zapped with ultrasound. Amazing what they can do. "It's calcium," she told me. "Kidney stones are calcium." "I could get that," I mused, "the amount of cheese I eat."

    "No you won't," Barbara counselled. "It's hereditary. My dad had it. My brother has it." "Oh," I breathed, mentally putting pizza back on the menu again.



    Shetland John came in. I hadn't seen him for over a year. "How's everybody?" he asked, breezily. There was a silence - a wee lacuna. Someone had to speak, and as often, it fell to the old boy. "Not desperately good, John," I replied. "Barbara's got a kidney stone, and Stuart's just buried his dad." John was understandably startled. "But I'm OK," I pressed on, comforting his embarrassment.

    We chatted about much. He's going to return to Lerwick with his lady, Pearl, a singer. We compared Gulf War II with the previous one, when Mrs Thatcher simply got on with it, without all the present-day agonising. "That's the difference between her and Blair," John opined. "New Labour can't do anything without a focus group." [Note: if it was really Major rather than Thatcher, then just let me know. Naked Blog remains free, you know. Don't ever expect research, or more accuracy than my memory permits.]



    Nip over to troubled-diva, where mike, my sister-in-blog, achieves his 41st birthday today. Leave a nice message. Mine's there too, but in an alternative comment box, so as not to mix too much with the herd.



    it's been fun. good bye.

    With those words josh hangs up his blogging mouse today. Those of you who've come later to the medium won't have experienced the joy of his finest writings, and for quite some time there've been no archives.

    A former Blogger Blog of Note, josh has chronicled his life and times from age 17 to the present 20. From an Alaskan town to college in Oregon. From adolescence to manhood. Josh is capable of writing like an angel, but that confers no obligation whatever to continue.

    His contribution and influence have been, quite simply, enormous - and I only wish that so many of you recently here could have seen the material at its very best. Josh leaves no contact details on his site, but you can say a word below if you want. I have a feeling he'll appreciate it.

    Update: that evening Here is just the merest fragment of what he gave to you:
    "So I have come to the conclusion that life sort of makes itself up as you go. It makes no difference that you had huge plans, or that you are making an above average income, or that you have built a name for yourself in neon lights. None of that matters.

    Every future move is based on a hypothesized feeling, the feeling that this new life decision will somehow change who you are. Somehow, the physical aspect of life, as in everything that goes on outside your head, is supposed to make some drastic effect on the framework of the mind.

    Truth is, or the truth that I have come to in my short 19 years, is that all of this is just padding. Sure, money and things are nice, but really who gives a shit? And the next move in your life, where you turn your life upside down and sprinkle yourself out on a new field where different flowers grow and different, new people abound, will do nothing but bring about the realization that you are, in fact, exactly who you think you are." josh, wednesday, september 04, 2002
    Read it and weep, we hucksters and shysters of the razzle-dazzle, three-ring circus we all so blindly rushed to build. The potentially greatest advance in human communication since the Royal Mail, cast down and over-written by ratings-chasing vacuous tat. And NB is no exception. For now.


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    Monday, February 17, 2003

    ALL GOING ON A...

    It's the first day of my second spring holiday, the sun is glorious, the ground is thick with frost and my flat stinks.

    Serves you right (last item), for being such a minger, I hear you thinking, but it's not true. Last night I diligently bundled up all the carry-out meal cartons, half-emptied pots of both chilli and yoghurt sauce, half-full boxes of rice which you always leave because it's (a) boring, and (b) makes you fat - but still the pong remains.

    Must be a dead creature under the floor - I'm convinced of it. And the flies don't return for at least another month to do their "earth to earth" thang. I don't know. Who said being a leading international blogstar was easy?

    Blog, blog, blah

    Brilliant blogs are popping up all over the place. Can't keep up. Got to re-do the sidebar. It'll be a sad farewell to many who've become as friends, but in cyberspace no-one can hear you scream.

    The Naked Sidebar has two functions: first off to give me something to look at, some reliable cream atop what is rapidly becoming an EU milk-lake, and secondly (perhaps more importantly) to promote the deserving. It was done for me, and I'm happy to continue the essential flow of linky-love.

    But not for ever, for obvious reasons. Illogical, Captain. After a couple of months you'll have had all who come here. Apropos of this, I do feel saddened that there are those in a position to mention/help promising newcomers, but rarely, if ever do so. Pity.

    Oh - and the only place I'll ever notice you is in a comment box. Here or elsewhere. I can't be arsed clicking on people's lists - unless they're short enough to actually mean something.



    Let's start with My Ace Life, which is a traditional blog, and Kill Your Boyfriend, which isn't.

    Oh again - for those of you who think Scotland is merely a boring backdrop to tedious wars set hundreds of years ago, then feast your eyes on Scotland's Secret Bunker. (Thanks to Scotblog.)

    Google has apparently bought Blogger. Anyone who has more than ten seconds' interest in this is not a blogger as I understand the term.



    Update: Tuesday After some soul-searching, I've decided that the preceding sentence is unfair - especially to queens, some of whom are known to haunt these dank and dingy byways. So the following key discussion topics are to be permitted, and even encouraged. "He" of course refers to Evan Williams, owner of Blogger, millionaire and hunk.

  • How much do you think he got for it?
  • What will he do with all that dosh?
  • Isn't it a shame about those early partners who left?
    And finally...
  • Do you reckon he's gay?
  • Now, if only I were thirty years younger...


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    Sunday, February 16, 2003

    TAKEN DOWN A PEG (Contains spoilers.)

    Spielberg's alien abduction family drama.

    [Previously in our commentary...]
    "Oh, I shouldn't carp. The writing rarely transcends the Tellytubby, the story has more holes than a colander, but it's all good, expensive nonsense. And what's happened to Jacob? And wtf is the narrator, with her irritating, lisping penses?"
    I've never been one for family dramas, especially of the epic, generational type, as I feel that in many cases a family is the worst possible thing a young person should endure. One man. One woman. One helpless child. You couldn't make it up.

    However, my attention was caught by this series because of its added aliens. But why so few, in this episode particularly? Let's have less of the marital infidelity, Steven (yawn), and much more hot saucer action.



    I just can't keep up. It's 1980 now, in a show which began in 1947. With actors changing faster than some people change their underwear, and more facial latex than a pillow factory, you never know who anyone is from one week to the next.

    Oh, but I think at last I've identified the cutesy, lisping narrator. She's the granddaughter of the evil (now dead) Colonel Crawford - but without the mike stuffed halfway down her gob, she doesn't sound quite so lispy in "real life". Trust me, I work behind a microphone, and understand voice reproduction. [Hint: if you want your voice to sound more "alive", then simply take a drink of water. The oral wetness gives added reverberation to the higher frequencies.]



    We began, as ever, with Miss Lisp. "Everybody comth home eventually. There are many reathons, but the main one ith that thatth where they thstarted from." (She's that profound, honestly.) Cue some dude in his thirties, who might have been Jacob, one of the abductees and key characters from earlier.
    (Do you, like me, get increasingly irritated at the misuse of the "-ee" suffix? It's a reflexive form, meaning "those who are [root verb]". Example: an employee is employed. A fiancee is affianced, and so on. But mistaken media types will insist on "-ee" when they really mean "-er". Someone who employs is an employer, not employee. Someone who attends (a Blogmeet, for instance) is an attender, not attendee, and so on.)
    But I digress. This guy might have been Jacob, but we had to wait up to three pages of script before anyone used his name. (He was, as it turned out.) And what did Jacob, former co-star of the show, get up to in this episode? He put his hand on his sick mother's head and gave her a nice dying experience, involving his own (alien) father. After that? Nada for ninety more minutes.



    Clearly the writers had got completely bored with his character, so instead shifted the attention onto his (previously nonentity) sister, who decided to leave her (brand new and totally unintroduced) rough husband, and instead have an affair with Eric Crawford - the son of the late Colonel Crawford - who had conveniently inherited his father's job as well as his wealth.

    Confused? You will be. Oh dear me. I lost count of the times someone burst onto the screen, leaving the viewer for far too long with the question "who the hell is that?"

    Smaller points: People never stand in the full glare of car headlights shining a small torch about the place. Other people are unable to sneak up and stick a gun at their neck in that situation, no matter how tightly-framed the shot. And finally, is that really the way Americans greet each other these days? With a gun in the neck?

    My advice: Back to film-school for all concerned, to learn the rudiments of plot and character continuity. Me, I can't wait for the next episode.

    ALL THE SEVENS

    I just learned how to lift graphs from a screen this morning. Expect more in future.

    It's the number of the beast, I tell you. With added supplement.


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    Saturday, February 15, 2003

    I NEVER EXHALED

    First off, a rather frosty (outside) welcome to all those who've arrived from the Nude Blog Awards. Let me confess: there is no nudity on this site at all.

    But if you're still reading, then I can certainly offer you what we do have, which is a mix of (hopefully) interesting comment, pithy wit, and out-takes from the life of a gay guy in his fifties and loving every minute of it. Naked Blog is listed in The Guardian, BBC Scotland, and a myriad other places. Enjoy.



    What's this about frost, I hear you thinking. Well, it's thick out there. Deep and crisp and even. Must be about minus 5 in E Central Scotland. I would show you a nice frostpic, but the windows are running free with water. Where does it come from? How do the windows get so damn wet?

    I never exhaled that much water, or I'd be as dried out as a cow's head in a Robert Rodrigo desert - to the strum of a G minor guitar chord. You know the sequence... skull... guitar... eek!!

    Beats me. I live here alone, to the best of my knowledge, and the mice can't have really such big lungs. Mystery.



    Hope you've all recovered from your Valentine excesses/blues and ready to face the weekend. Me, I'm off to work the noo - keep the customers satisfied.

    Words I never heard in the Bible (Sorry - couldn't resist it!)

    Browsing through 86 (yes, really) pages of referrers yesterday, I chanced upon www.god.co.uk, which begins by offering the Bible in mp3, yet quickly ends up like this. (Not work safe.) "Let your light so shine before men..."


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    Friday, February 14, 2003

    FRIDAY'S VALENTINE HUNK OF THE WEEK

    When I first clapped eyes on Chris (31) a few years ago I was, frankly, terrified.

    At that time sporting a shaved head, with (if I recall) a tattooed scalp, together with a long and wild beard, he was every queen's dream of a certain type. The type you're not sure whether they're gonna make sweet, sweet love - or murder you in your sleep.

    Many of you reading this will know exactly what I mean, and the others will just have to die wondering.

    One day I plucked up enough courage both to say hello, and to admit something of the above, at which Chris burst out laughing and announced that he was "a pussy cat". And thus he has remained. A gentle man. (But ooooh what menace...!)

    Chris has more tattoos than a military band, as your sensors might just detect (under the beard would be a good place to start looking), and more piercings than a dart board. And for those of you wondering about the latter, the answer is yes.

    Although he inevitably gets all his drinks bought when he graces CC's bar, Chris is terminally str8, and is enamoured of Kerry, my one-time bookkeeper and PA. Send him your Valentine greetings.

    Out and About at the Awards

    Nude Blog AwardsThank you, thank you darlings for your 30-plus votes yesterday, which have thrust Naked Blog into pole position. However - nothing's over till it's over, and I'm sure the other contestants have contingency voting strategies up their sleeves right now as we speak. So keep that votey-love coming in. Make this the year Cinderella does get to the ball. Ugly sisters have had their way for far too long.

    Valentine Announcement

    Many of you will have rushed to the door the moment the postman trudged away, urgently looking for some cardboard comfort. Nice. Very nice. But for those of you, like me, whose carpet contained nothing but credit card statements this morning, then pin back yer lugs, and listen to yer auntie for once.

    Being "in love" (with all its myriad conditions and situations) is all very well for those it is very well for. Which seems to be most of the readers here - with some interesting exceptions. But it is not essential for a full and happy life. There are other modes. Explore them and enjoy them. A cake is still a cake, even without a cherry on top. That's all.


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    Thursday, February 13, 2003

    HOT NEW CONTEST!

    Nude Blog AwardsCourtesy of dave comes news of yet another gong we're up for, the First Annual Nude Blog Awards. Feel free to get over there now and vote for me. Sorry I didn't nominate any of my blogpals, due to (a) not having heard of it until now, and (b) not sure if any of you are quite nude enough. (We're in the category "best nudity in title or tagline".)

    Everyone in the pub is convinced I'm an internet p*o*r*n baron anyway, so let's prove em right, eh? You couldn't make it up.

    10 am update: Naked Blog is currently languishing in last position, with a somewhat disappointing zero votes. However, so far only 12 votes have been cast in that category, so it's your chance to make a difference.

    Here's lookin' at yer, nekkid.

    Noon update: We've now swept into second position, only two votes behind the current (but not for long) leader. Thank you, thank you, thank you. (I'm working on my acceptance speech already!)


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    SOME YOU WIN

    Well, my purchase of two tickets for the Kimberley Hotel lottery (post below) gives me a 1 in 175,000 chance of becoming the new owner. Much better odds than the National Lottery, but I won't give up the day job quite yet. "Sybill !!"

    Gerry Not Guilty, the retired QC, was fascinated by all this. "I hope they've got a licence from the Gaming Board!" he declared. "Yes," I demurred, not really having thought of that. "Well - have they!?!" he roared, in fine courtroom style. "No idea, Gerry," I had to confess.

    "You know, Peter - we should do that," he pressed on, downsizing to sotto voce. "What's that, Gerry?" "Get a nice photo of somewhere... invite people to send money in... and then... " "Disappear with the loot!" I completed for him.

    "Think about it!" he said laughing. "Oh, yes - and we could make it a hundred quid max so we don't actually ruin anyone!" I agreed - ever the con with a conscience. We laughed, and drank some more.


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    Wednesday, February 12, 2003

    NICE PAD

    Reproduced from Metro newspaper.Fancy owning seventeen bedrooms, with manicured gardens and spectacular views? In Oban, on Scotland's stunning yet soaking west coast? Well, fancy no further.

    In a startling departure from the normal process, the property pictured is being raffled rather than sold. Ten Euros (six quid) a ticket. Details here.

    I'm getting one. (I don't think you win the dude - just the gaff.)

    The hotel will be sold live via internet webcam on april 13. The vendors hope to sell 350,000 lots, which will raise 2.1 million. (Thanks to Ally for the story.)

    Update Just bought two lots. I never usually gamble, not even on the National Lottery, but this time I'm feeling slightly lucky!


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    I'M BACK! I'M BACK!

    Sorry for sounding like disgraced former pop singer you-know-who, but it's nice to be resolved again, and sorry for any hiccups in your Naked Blog provision over the last couple of days. I hoped you would come around again soon. (Special thanks to Alan of Oddverse.)

    Cathode Rays

    Only one show to talk about today, and that's Channel 4's supremely excellent Operatunity. (Essentially Pop Idol with arias.) In one of those unearthly coincidences for which this journal is rightly famous (God - I'm getting more like Mystic Smeg by the day!), we sparked off something of a tizzy in the post below over the music industry.

    My own view is a matter of record in these annals: the music business is yet another branch of Big Money - the department which separates teenage girls from their pocket money. (But you can read both mike and josh, who know much more about these things, two comment boxes below this.) Two of the world's leading webloggers in one box! And me!!

    So how gobsmacked was I when I saw this programme yesterday, the diametrical opposite of the usual dumb and dumber talent show! It fair brought a tear to my een, watching these young-ish hopefuls belting out the classics to the judges, followed by little exercises in voice production. Builder, check-out lady, students, care worker... a myriad lives but with one huge thing in common - the love of singing.

    And what's the prize? One performance with English National Opera. Where's the dosh in that? I honestly don't know, but I can bet you a fiver to a brick shithouse that at least one album will be forthcoming also. And why not? [Update: they've already made it!]



    Much love and compassion to Stuart, aka Granny, on the recent death of his father, which I learned of only yesterday. Stuart's wit and insights into the human condition have graced many a story in these pages, and I wish him, his mother, brother and sister all my very best.


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    Tuesday, February 11, 2003

    NEVER END

    I shouldn't be sitting here, writing to you like this, as it's almost certain you won't be able to read it for a while. Por qua? Well, there's been a small gap, a wee lacuna, in the domain renewal. But all is in order now, re-propagating our pearls throughout the blogosphere.

    It's sunny today, very sunny, and the river and digital camera are calling to me. Life, Jim, exactly as we know it.



  • In Nottingham, England, mike waxes ever-enthusiastic over the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest. As does Chig. Like Wogan and Cilla, Eurovision just seems to have gone on for ever - yet unlike the aforementioned, it's having something of a revival, thanks to some dedicated followers - now with added blog of course.

  • In Portland, Oregon, josh, who is 20, has this to say about popular music...
    "Has anyone else noticed that the music industry is complete and utter shit? And also, have you noticed that every new band is not only redundant and over-produced, but just plain shitty as well? Yes, they are.

    I'm holding up in my room with my old Elvis Costello and Talking Heads records, I'll come out when MTV doesn't make me vomit.
    Out of the mouths of babes...

    (Josh doesn't do archives or "link-to's", so I've taken the liberty of uplifting that post. Otherwise the link would soon be meaningless.)

    Oh, and you can guess in which camp my sympathies lie!

    Quote of the Day
    "Sometimes bein' a bitch is the only thing a woman has to hold on to." Stephen King (Dolores Claiborne)
    And not just a woman, Stephen!


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    Monday, February 10, 2003

    DAYS, MY FRIEND

    Tonight the telly is crap. Tonight I'm going to attempt to read a book - the first one for a couple of decades. I borrowed it from The Village on Thursday... I don't ever pick up lightly such a book.

    The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yacqui Way of Knowledge, by - of course - Carlos Castaneda. Amazon.

    It was first published by the University of California Press in 1968, when I was 21, then placing bets as to whether Jumping Jack Flash would resurrect the flagging Stones enough to reach number one. (It did.)

    Many, many years and much turbulence were to pass before I began my own investigation into that other world - the one of meditation and the "altered states" - yet as I so avidly walked the walk and talked the talk, the name Castaneda kept coming up again and again.

    I hope to enjoy it. We shall see. I've told you before how much I treasure innocence in a film - so this time let's try a 35 year innocence over a book. I might not be around here for some days. And I'm really quite nervous.


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    Sunday, February 09, 2003

    SEARCH ME, GUV!

    Do you know, I can't think of a single thing to write today. Friday's Hunk of the Week is on hold because of agency/contractual problems, Spielberg's alien abduction family drama has been Taken Off - for effing snooker - and me, I work weekends and nothing startling has happened there either.

    So I thought I'd take a look at my more detailed referrals for the last 24 hours. The Nedstat symbol you'll find at the very bottom of this page is all well and good for totals and graphs, but it's just not geared for 500-ish sites, and conveys almost nada about where people come from, and what they want.

    As a supplement to that I also use Web Site Traffic Report (WSTR), which is detailed indeed, even down to the last digit of IP address.



    Did you see Gordon Brown on the Frost Programme this morning, by the way? Oh dear, he's not wearing well. As neither is Charles Kennedy on immediately before him. My recommendation: lay off da bevvy and have an early night when you're due on telly first thing, guys. Notice how film-starrish Georgie boy always looks! Ten step programme.

    Immunological Response

    Talking of recommendations, regular (no pun intended) readers of this tome will be aware of my views on hygiene. I just don't employ it. The only way to remain totally healthy is to consume a steady diet which includes some dirt. And the most palatable way to do this is simply not to wash up, but to use the same plate, knife, fork and mug in perpetuity.

    There's nothing original about this - I got the idea from dear Quentin, and he lived till he was 90. (Or was it 91?) So do it today. Uninstall that fancy German dishwasher and donate it to a hostel for the poor. They'll thank you for it. As will your belly.



    How do I know this - apart from a complete absence of digestive disorder for several years, that is? Well I can tell you. Last night I was simultaneously microwaving my Co-op meal for one, whilst changing into slob-out clothes after work, and setting the video to record some film or other. The upshot was my Chicken Korma with Buttered Rice didn't get zapped sufficiently, and I sat down in front of Brad and Harrison with a plateful of sizeable chicken chunks which were, frankly, lukewarm. And they'd been in my fridge for about 50 hours, and God knows how many before that in the shop.

    It was an intestinal time bomb waiting to go off. Salmonella? More like mass destruction. So what did I do? Well I can tell you. I took a deep breath, said my personal equivalent of a few Hail Marys, and scoffed the lot. This was the biggest test so far of my regime change, and the possibilities were explosive.

    But, dear reader - already looking pale at the very thought of all this - I can now happily report that after due process, all is well down under. Washing up? Forget it. I would rather drink caustic soda straight from the bottle.
    [Footnote: the above anecdote is an example of "The Hygiene Hypothesis". You can choose from a range of papers on the matter here. A fair summary is in this one, although it does get a bit extreme, even for me.]


    But I digress. In the complete absence of content today, I thought I'd bring you a flavour of my search logs. Oh - I just remembered... there was a meeting of London (and surroundings) super-bloggers on Friday. Love to have been a fly on the wall. There must be some sort of critical mass of bloggers, beyond which nothing gets said or done at all, and everyone looks nervously around wondering what to put in their blogs!

    Here they are at last... specially selected from the last 24 hours. I've omitted X, Y and Z naked, although it's good to see that these have markedly decreased in number. I think Wayne and Sharon have cottoned on to the Google Images tag. (But I can exclusively reveal that at Number One would have been Hilary Duff, followed closely by David Beckham. Robbie Williams, as well as the younger royals, has sadly sunk without trace.)

  • is my boss spying on me
  • jean genet querelle script
  • depraved skinhead
  • how to get undepressed
  • nigerian metaphorical expressions
  • she needs enema urgently gallery
  • delta 32 plague
  • Rev Obadiah Steppenwolfe III
  • pictures of sexy tea bagging
  • hilary duff is rude to her fans
  • make my sims naked without the censored!!
  • bad liposuction pictures
  • any gay byrds fans somewhere
  • rectum, damn near killed him
  • "nipple reduction" before and after

    (Prurient content (mostly) omitted.) Doubtless you will have some much more fascinating searches...


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    Thursday, February 06, 2003

    BLAIR AND PAXMAN - The Prime Interview

    Thursday evening, 9.52 pm

    Blogging might well be "mass amateurisation", but it's certainly helluva quick! Tonight the BBC broadcast a 50 minute interview between Jeremy Paxman, our most aggressive TV interviewer, and the Prime Minister, on the subject of the forthcoming (or not) war with Iraq. The show was recorded in Gateshead, close to the PM's own constituency, so the voices and accents of the studio audience would be wholly familiar to him, as also they were to myself.

    I don't propose to do a point by point analysis, as I didn't tape it and there was loads of material covered. Others, with their trees, will do that with more detailed record. Suffice to say the PM was close to incandescent throughout, and that's not an accolade I lightly accord.



    One very rude questioner, a Mr Khan, referred to Mr Blair as the "Right Honorable Member for North Texas", and then later as "Mr Vice President". (I should explain to my US readers that this has been an on-going taunt at the government's stance on these matters.) Paxman the interviewer then mentioned the "poodle" word. (Bush's poodle.)

    Right then the cameras zoomed in to bigger than big close-up, as Blair rightly and believably defended his position. His face filled the screen from chin to mid-forehead. And as I sat and watched and marvelled at this younger man than myself, I got to wondering how Chamberlain or Churchill or Attlee (the Prime Ministers of my youth, thereabouts) would have coped with that level of exposure.

    But it was good. Very good. No trace of Bremner there. It has been my joy to live long enough to see a Prime Minister so capable.

    [Footnote: The above is clearly all to do with presentation, and nothing about content. You can read the full transcript here, and form your own opinions.]


    And you say? (7)   Link to this



    MONKEY BUSINESS (Or is it only organ-grinding?)

    Not the full story.For several decades, the prime British voice and face of animal behaviour have been those of Sir David Attenborough. He spares no effort, nor licence-payers' pounds, to travel the four corners bringing you the delights of this and that creature.

    But at a price. And the price is the ruthless excision of all filmed sexual behaviour other than the strictly reproductive.

    Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. But just what do they do? The BBC would have you think it's only "playing mummies and daddies". But those who've ever suffered the embarrassment of having a canine friend mount their leg might just begin to wonder a little at this.



    So I have to ask, when did David (Family Values) Attenborough ever show anything approaching the full range of mammalian sexuality? Masturbation, for instance? Frottage (see leg example above)? Fetishistic attraction? Or anal penetration? (Male/female, or even - shock horror - male/male?) And the answer is never.

    But, to be honest, who cares what some Transylvanian Tree Lizard gets up to for its jollies? Well, unless you come fully Vatican-approved yourself, then you should. Because the aggregation of this filmed ouevre, decade after decade, has led to some pretty wild thinking about what is "natural" sexual behaviour, and what is not.

    Put simply, I'd bet you a fiver to a brick shithouse that Mr and Mrs Public would assert beyond shadow of doubt that homosexuality, for instance, is a peculiarly human wickedness.



    Take last night's show, the climax to his Life of Mammals series. Oor Dave had discovered a colony of some chimpanzees or other, never before filmed. This species was of interest because the tribes contained many more males than usual.

    And what did these males get up to? They fought amongst themselves to determine supremacy - the pecking (fucking) order. So far, so nothing startling. But then it got almost surreal. Unfortunately I was in the middle of cooking my tea in the kitchen, so only caught this in snatches, but I wish to hell I'd set the video.

    "Although the males fight for dominance, they also show affection to each other, knowing that they have to fight off invading tribes," David said. "Here are two males caressing." Well, I nearly slid my corned beef onto the carpet when I saw the picture. Two buck chimps clasping in a bareback 66.



    But that's not all. "Here the older males are viciously attacking a younger male," David intoned, with gravity. (Gang rape gone wrong?) "And here are the same animals being nice to another young male," he said next. (You don't need me to elucidate that one for you.)

    Call me an old cynic by all means, but frankly I don't know how they kept their faces straight. Because that was the only straight thing going on. I accuse Attenborough and the BBC of a concerted and long-lasting campaign to distort the public's understanding of sexuality. I applaud the makers of South Park for the best comment on this matter I've seen. (Big Gay Al and the Gay Animal Sanctuary.) Why do we so often have to rely on humour and satire to get closer to the truth? Bremner, Bird and Fortune, anyone?



    Mr Attenborough completed his series with some thoughts about colonisation and terra-forming of other planets. In one of those unearthly coincidences for which this journal is rightly famous, we covered the same material in yesterday afternoon's supplement. (Post below, which you should see.)

    BabelFish

    Now with added language support!! Don't let shaky English spoil your enjoyment of this page! Simply click on BabelFish on the sidebar and wait a mo. Old Europe! New Europe! (Just ask that Mr Rumsfeld!)

    Naked Blog! Numero Uno which ever way you say it!!


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    Wednesday, February 05, 2003

    THE MUNCHIES

    I'm not really as fat as I look here, but rather leaning back to show the camera-shy Stuart.Three more faces for your album. Across the table sits Tony my IT manager, surrounded by Louise his wife and their daughter A. To the right are the deadly duo, the gruesome twosome, the venomous vixens of whom you're already fully enamoured. Stu (the skinny one) and me. This was at China China, an "eat all you want" restaurant in Haddington Place. And boy did we want.

    The quality can best be described as "average", but the quantity is, by definition, limitless. Will power is definitely required. I sampled half a farmyard. Cow, pig, sheep, chicken - if it had a face I damn well ate it. A was more circumspect, skipping directly from chicken noodle soup to Mr Whippy ice-cream, for which there was a serve-yourself machine. As many servings as young madam requires.

    A detail from the above picture. To the front are chicken balls, and behind those are chicken flakes. Or summat. Spare ribs adorn the right of the plate. This was just the first of three similar helpings!At a fat flat-rate of 4.99 how do they do that? Well, I've one or two ideas. It's self-service, so no waiters have to be paid. The food is cooked in batches, rather than to order, which must transform and simplify the kitchen department. (And rationalise stocks and waste.) And, of course, the throughput. The atmosphere is of a busy continental cafe, with people milling about, drinking, laughing - rather than the more forced formality of the traditional evening restaurant.

    I liked it. Even though it led to a rather sleepless night, with all that digestion going on. And farting - a subtle blend of dead animal and sweet red sauce. I could write volumes about that latter, but to save your sensibilities restraint is in order.

    FOOD FOR THOUGHT (Or Shuttle diplomacy?)

    Here at Naked Blog you will rarely find any matters of deep import. Not that I don't ponder the trickier questions - quite the reverse - but ultimately there's no mileage for either of us in me punting out my views to you. Opinions are like arseholes - everybody's got one and they all stink. At any corner newsagent you can purchase half a dead tree of stinky opinions, but me I rarely bother these days. There are so few people whose thoughts I regard.

    Essentially I feel that our species is quite doomed anyway, because of the hatred flaw, so we might as well just make the best of what we've got for the time that's individually available. You could call this either defeatist or hedonist. There are spiritual practices and techniques which can overcome the hatred, but they belong to a tiny few, such is the strangle-hold and domination of the Old Testament and its evil equivalents.

    But not everybody agrees. In a comment box somewhere below, Charlie (who is one of the so few people I just mentioned), writes thus about the recent Shuttle disaster:
    "I don't really think it is the individuals per se (that is, the number or personal qualities of) but the symbolic nature of what they were doing - something calling for bravery and hope and discovery and enterprise and comradeship -- things we admire and wish to see succeed that we, who aspire to such values, may emulate them and follow them. When they die it requires that we celebrate them and mourn them that what they stood for may survive and our own beliefs not be destroyed along with them."
    To which I could only reply:
    "When I was young I thought that space travel would change everything. Since then I've learned that there is no bravery, nor hope, nor discovery - but rather that everything which happens is to further the profit of an already rich few.

    "The dreams of my childhood are not quite dead, however, just moderated. There is a Universe, but you won't ever find it with spaceships. The reality you aren't quite ready for yet."
    And last night, after our gorge-fest above, my friend Tony echoed much the same as Charlie. "What will happen to us as humans if we don't go out and colonise?" he asked. "I used to think that too," I replied, "but now I've come to the conclusion that space-travel is impossible. Whatever NASA is about, it's not human exploration or endeavour."

    "But throughout history people have said things were impossible!" he retorted. "I know," I agreed. "Especially circumnavigation (fall off the edge of the earth), travelling faster than a horse-drawn carriage (body would shake to pieces), and the flight of a heavier-than-air machine. I know all of them, but still I say space travel is a pointless and unbelievably expensive exercise."

    Stuart joined in. "Some people think that our drive to the stars is just an attempt to get back home," he murmured. He sang then, a couple of lines...
    "We are stardust - we are golden."
    It is a very great joy that younger people hold on to hopes and dreams.


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    Tuesday, February 04, 2003

    APRÉS SKI

    No - don't check your calendar! It's true. Two entries in as many days!! Whassgoanon, as we say here? Well, I think it must be the snow. (All that added light, you see.)

    Yesterday was fun in that I not only bid and made two hands at bridge (oh - it's not all drugs and loose men in my circles, you know... there are the illuminati among us), but I successfully and calmly handled a crazy old coot who insisted on talking about me behind my back. Or rather, behind his back, as he was standing right next to me - all the time boring Big Straight Al and Nick fae Wick to death with his views about "chocolate people". Gay readers, and there are a couple, might recognise the unflattering and unpleasant nomenclature.

    Personally, I think the old boy is as bent as a nine bob note himself. So I've decided that henceforth he'll be known as "Chocolate Alex". O no - do not cross your auntie when she's on form.



    Early afternoon today Stuart, Tony and myself are out to lunch. At China China, Edinburgh's most fashionable cheap restaurant. You can eat all you want, and it's on a sliding scale of cost. We're going to the 1pm to 5pm slot, which is the most economical, but in the dearer periods they put on more luxurious items. Stuart (the poor man's Jamie Oliver), has promised not to sample his own wares while lunchtime cheffing at the Malt and Hops.

    Yesterday in the pub, Mark (Robocop) advised me to eat nothing - nothing - between then and today's meal, a counsel I tried to follow, but fell foul of a salad box and corned beef. Have you ever microwaved your corned beef, btw? Comes up a treat. Brings out the flavour of all the chemicals.

    DREAM TOPPING

    But nothing in my life is complete without a dream, and last night it was our forthcoming trip to China China. (Readers who follow the plot might detect how excited I can still get over simple things.) In we walked, the three of us, and were told the food would be a little while. So I ordered a chicken and salad sandwich to tide me over. (Yes, I know that's food - but gie's a break, Jimmy!)

    However the dream sandwich came at a nightmare price. Five pounds thirty, to be precise, and I was so shocked I threw it down on the counter and stormed out in a total huff, leaving Stuart and Tony to dine sans moi. Someone had built an elevated wooden cycle track all around the London Road roundabout area.

    SNOW BUSINESS

    Half the snow got melted yesterday, and then refroze overnight, so it's all looking a bit patchy and dirty. What we need is more precipitation. Did you know that the Highland railways were built along glaciated valleys in the mountains? Amazing what you discover on the Learning Zone.


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    Monday, February 03, 2003

    A rare snow-scene here.WARP AND WEFT

    Shuttle tragedy? Of course. Major catastrophe? Of course not. People always fall into the trap of conflating numbers killed (and in this case, unusual manner of death), with size of the cosmic upheaval.

    The undeniably sad deaths of these people is simply the one familiar and ultimately inevitable loss - just in seven families rather than in one. But how many newspapers would that sell?

    Last night seven people would have been shot to death in many cities. Every hour, seven people are killed on the roads. Seven hundred die of famine. Seven thousand are about to be bombed to death.

    But here, in this extraordinary case, something very special did happen. Before those seven died, they saw the stars. God bless them and take them back.

    TAKEN (Contains spoilers.)

    Spielberg's alien abduction family drama. Well, it's compulsive viewing of course. I kind of thought as I slagged off the first episode, that I'd be hooked ere long. (Oh no - don't be misled by the mighty philosophies you read in these pages. Deep down we're as common as muck. The very poorest of white trash.)

    It's 1970 now, which is quite a long run for a play that started in 1947 just four episodes ago. Poor Jesse has had to cope with being taken onto a saucer at age eleven, then again at seventeen-ish, and now finally at 23, he's a 'Nam veteran and junkie to boot. It's the implant you see - a wiggly thing they put in his brain. The one actor manfully coped with the two youthful stages, passing puberty in just one week, but he's been ditched now for a Kevin Dillon-esque hunk (Desmond Harrington) with designer stubble and a woolly hat. Awesome, I tell you. [IMDB credits two actors, James N Kirk and Connor Widdows, with the youthful Jesse, but I'm fairly sure Kirk plays both the teen parts.]



    Joel Gretsch, who plays Colonel Crawford the baddie, started off as a hunk in 1947, but by 1970 was looking even more mature than moi. They died his hair white, and covered his handsome face with latex senility, but in the end it obviously got too much for makeup so they had to kill him off. He died of a stroke, out of focus so as not to overtax his acting.

    Oh, I shouldn't carp. The writing rarely transcends the Tellytubbie, the story has more holes than a colander, but it's all good, expensive nonsense. And what's happened to Jacob? And wtf is the narrator, with her irritating, lisping penses?

    COSMIC UPHEAVAL

    In one of those unearthly coincidences for which this journal is rightly famous, on the very day I made Darren a webstar (post below), his employer decided to pull the plug on him. Well - not literally on him, but on his internet access.

    So - no more pithy Darren-esque comments in the ever-popular tagboard to your right. It goes without saying just how very much I've enjoyed his cybercompany over the months, and he'll be sadly missed. I think I'll rename the tagboard in his honour. Yes - that's the least I can do. He was the founder member, after all. For those of you who fancy a live chat any time, we're open every weekday morning GMT. That is - unless everybody else gets grounded too.


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