Naked Blog

More famous than Susan Boyle!

Monday, June 30, 2003


Am I the only one who's totally, utterly and completely pissed off at the BBC constantly disrupting their TV schedules over the Wimbledon tennis nonsense? I mean - it's batting a ball over a net, for gawd's sake. Sad enough to do - fucking tragic to sit watching it. Get real, BBC. Unlike most of your scheme-trash viewers, I actually pay my licence fee, and would appreciate something approximating to the advertised shows turning up from time to time.

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There was the time, it seems like aeons ago, when Monday was the day for listing the week's "to-do's". How earnestly I would sit here and write out things like this...
  • get haircut
  • sort out income tax
  • get job
  • clean house
  • Very, very occasionally I would do the odd one or two, but mostly they just hung about like a bad smell to depress me. At various times the first three did get actioned, which is jest fine. But not really the house cleaning. Except for one day (scroll down a bit), but after that my new cleaner refused to come back, which I think kinda indicates to you that I'm not making it up.

    You could call that phase of Naked Blog "Good Intentions".

    But my o my, don't times change! Let me give you a little post-Solstice peep into the current domestic bliss... (It's so awful I don't normally go on about it any more, hoping that you'll have forgotten!)
  • housework done this year none
  • washing up done this year none
  • letters opened this year about five
  • postcards read this year one (telling me my father had died a few weeks previously)
  • You could call this phase of Naked Blog "Hope, abandoned".

    And yet, and yet...

    The house remains habitable, although you do have to pick your way through the piles of mess. This makes for interesting "pathways" - reminiscent of a boyhood spent playing in the woods. There's one "private space" which I absolutely refuse to let rubbish intrude onto. It's about two square feet in size.

    Despite a hygiene regime which would kill off an unvaccinated battalion, my own gastro-intestinals remain robustly healthy, with consistently well-formed stools. These things are important. Plus there's no ingress of rodents or insects - the first principally due to the cat-owning of some neighbours, and the second because I daren't open any windows.

    Now, at this point my sensors can almost detect some of you blanching under your designer tans, and reaching for the nearest nosegay. But worry not, my dear, clean reader. I'm (almost) perfectly happy.

    Only last night, after an exhilarating day at the fascinating if low-paid job, I checked in to my hovel as usual and sat down to unwind from the stage. The clothes were soaking, of course. It's hot as hell in that bingo in summer. Sweat starts on your head, and runs down behind your ears. Some of it soaks into the shirt collar, but more gets past and runs freely down to the waistband and underwear.

    Generally I use the discarded shirt to "towel off" the body. But I never touch my face. No, never that. For by the end of the day it's ecstatically happy with its own shiny blend of sweat and grease. A living, breathing swamp of natural moisturiser. And that's how to have a barely-lined face at 56. I could sell it for a guinea a bottle.
    Naked Skincare Routine: Wash your face once in the morning with plain soap. Rinse thoroughly. Then apply no products at all, and don't touch it again till the next morning.
    (Oh, and keep out of the sun, of course!) My o my this is becoming the very bible of anti-consumerism! Next thing I'll be telling you not to fly to Spain!!

    But all isn't quite idyllic in Naked Mansions. This week, at the very height of summer, I should try and open some letters. Well, all of them, to be exact - apart from the spam.
    Question: How do you tell the difference between credit card letters you do want to open, and those you don't?
    Answer: Your actual statements come in plain envelopes. Those trying to push you on to new accounts are plastered with special offers on the outside. Discard without even opening, lest you be tempted.
    It's money, you see. I'm convinced I'm paying Telewest a load more than I should be. I'm sure they're selling me cable channels I don't want, and never signed up for. So that will have to be faced, even though it'll be confrontational. At times like this you need a Blue Witch.

    And Income Tax. Maybe, just maybe, one of those brown envelopes will contain a nice fat cheque from Her Majesty. How braw would that be? Watch this space, and I'll keep you posted.

    Sites to See

    Thanks to Sam of Feathergun for dropping into the transient, ephemeral tagboard and giving a couple of amusing photo sites, dedicated to all things cannabinol. Kermit and Lego. A must for dope-fans everywhere.

    Cathode Rays

    Alan Yentob's Imagine. Also here and here. This week's show is on Stella McCartney, a designer with a surname. (Wednesday, BBC 1) I was discussing with Dean and Suzie just last week how hard it will be for Ms McCartney to appreciate how very much of a star her father once was. No amount of press cuttings or newsreel can really inform her of the size and endurance of The Beatles' celebrity. You simply had to be there. There's been nothing even approaching that since.

    Yes, the band have been, at times, eclipsed musically. But - just like the A-list bloggers, they were in almost at the beginning. And beginnings never happen twice. Interested (as ever) in your views - even if you were very young then. And why the hell did they call her Stella?

    Another show which caught my eye yesterday was Sean Langan's Travels with a Gringo (Sundays, Channel Four... two more episodes to come.) Excellent because - like Jon Ronson before him - Langan comes across less as a TV-School professional, and much, much more as a "regular guy". It's the very polish of people like Paxman and Snow which makes them so boring and unwatchable.

    David Blunkett's Reefer Madness too was worth watching as a non-sensationalist account of modern day drug use and trade. (Can't find last week's TV guide in the mess.)

    And you say? (13)   Link to this

    Friday, June 27, 2003


    Thanks to mike of troubled diva for nominating this piece for Karen's post of the month competition. Most flattered. And it shows that the best posts aren't necessarily the ones which gather the most comments. While you're at troubled diva you can nominate your favourite hiatus. Here we've had a couple, but generally overnight and only for a few hours.

    Where is the great Grauny blogcomp this year? Or is Scaryduck deemed (or doomed) to rule for ever? Don't let last year's negative voices put you off, Mr Rusbridger. Get that chequebook out now and set those wheels in motion. One request: please don't make it drag on so long this time. Nine weeks is a helluva long time to be on top form every day!

    Naked Blog will, as ever, be perfectly happy with a "runner-up" or "short-listed" placing again. We have the stars - why ask for the moon? (Or is it the other way round?)

    Question Time

    Last night in Nottingham. In vain I tried to place mike in the audience. "Could it be him?" Surely not. "Or maybe him?" No - not nearly refined enough. In the end I abandoned this, and tried to spot me a bit getkokkart lingo. But there was none of that either. (The studio guests were unlistenable to, except Sandi Toksvig.)

    Book Club

    Are blogs damaging your reading? (That is, do you find anything longer than three minutes a bit hard to comprehend these days?)
    My own reading history: Used to do it avidly. Never happier than with a book in me paws. Eating, going to sleep, on trains, any damn place.
    Then, about twenty years ago, I started writing (three novels, one almost published, numerous newspaper articles, and now of course this). From that point serious reading went downhill big-time. Warum? Because it became work. No longer able to go with the flow, I found myself constantly studying the writing, rather than the story. Not a good thing. No fun at all.

    There's also memory, of course. It just isn't as good as it used to be. Full stop. I really admire people who can write splendidly yet still enjoy a book.

    So I'm trying a Clive Barker now. Coldheart Canyon. I've read the dedications, the Prologue and two pages of the book. Can't say I'm the least bit impressed.

    Catcher, Mockingbird, all of Burgess!! Where art thou now?

    Don't miss yesterday's evening edition just below this. It's about sex.

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    Thursday, June 26, 2003


    Hey! I'm back on my hobbyhorse again! But this time it isn't real men... O no, that's so last week. No, this evening's topic is... tada... SEX! Or, more accurately - the lack of it. In blogs, at least.

    Honestly, to judge from my sidebar, you would think we were dealing with a load of monks and nuns. (With the possible exception of Marc, but even his raunchy bits are mostly from the past.)

    What's going on? Don't any of you ever do it these days? Or are we all to have the agenda set by the designer queens - those with more labels than a sociology conference?

    It doesn't have to be like this, you know. Bloggers have sexual feelings too. Bloggers regularly pick up this one and that one, and doubtless have a ball - yet do they ever reveal it? Do they fuck.

    How I would (occasionally) like to read something like the following...
    "Went to the Backroom Club last night and had one fucking whale of a time. Got totally wasted on coke and eccie, and didn't give a shit who I talked to.

    Then I met this awesome guy - six feet plus and never mind the inches. SAS he said he was... showed me his tattoos. And when I got him home I could tell there was nothing false about his advertising.

    Fucked me three times at least, but after that I passed out. And you know - wild horses couldn't keep me back from that club next week."
    OK - the above is clearly a piece of fiction. For this writer. But I'm guessing at least some of you are sexually active. It can't all be labels and middle-class designer shite - can it?

    Those who've hung about here for some time will know that I've tirelessly championed the unusual, the dangerous, the "working class". But they never last. Why do they disappear? Is it that they're so overwhelmed by the Guardianistas? And is that why we have to go to the US for any meaty writing?

    Don't let the Daily Mail mentality dictate and destroy what we have. This is a unique platform, which, in this country, is rapidly descending into Keeping Up Appearances.

    Show me one UK writer who's doing something different, something edgy - something sexual even - and I'll give him or her the biggest assistance I'm able.

    Until then, keep dishing out the colour supplements.

    And you say? (15)   Link to this

    (And a shitload of money to be made)

    Yes, I'm talking about Alan Yentob's trip to Detroit and New York as screened yesterday on BBC1. Yentob is BBC Director of Drama, Entertainment and Children's. The show was to investigate the hip-hop and rap phenomenon, and I confess I was entranced. (Sorry - can't find one word about it on BBCi.)

    Much of the programme centred on nu-gangsta 50 Cent, who made himself quite available, unlike la Divine, who didn't. ("And that's the closest I got to Eminem all weekend...") Bigger than the BBC, it would appear. Talk about style!

    It was fun watching Alan at a hip hop party, with all these chicks coming up to him... "Hi Alan - how are you?" Oh how the middle-aged do lap up attention - even if it's only a spot on his (rather big) station they're after. It was an Andrew Neil moment.

    I'd always associated Yentob with serious music, and he clearly hasn't got a television face, so I watched with extra interest - until I fell asleep. Ah well. Now I'll never know how it finished.

    There was much clucking about the lyrics - unsuitable for the young - but this was a faux naivete. Everyone in showbiz understands the first law of entertainment, and that's to make as much money as possible. It's a well-known fact.
    "I don't believe it promotes violence, but it comes out of violence and that is what makes it ring true. Some of it is good, some of it is bad, and some of it is unacceptable. Alan Yentob
    (A scroll bar would come in handy at this point, Evan...) Not all your bloggers are illiterate, dude.

    Update: A rather attractive scroll bar has appeared now, but it seems to be mostly decorative.

    Yesterday I overheard a stranger in the bar describing the regulars as "Just like the cast of Emmerdale." Wrong, so wrong. It's the Star Wars bar. The original, and still the best. Nobody talked to him after that.

    And you say? (10)   Link to this

    Oh my God - I'm on New Blogger. It looks so cool. Everybody says it eats their template. Let's try it now. (The elderly hate change, you know.) You ask Tony my IT manager, whenever he tries to show me something new.

    Verdict Nice, slick and modern. Faster, smoother publishing. Instant archiving, unlike with Old Blogger, where you had to manually archive every post.

    But what is a typing field without a scrollbar? It's the details that let things down, you know. Probably cost them 99 milllion dollars for new blogger, while a scroll bar might have set them back only 50 cents.

    Better late than never

    Yesterday as I wended my weary way home at 9.15, the sun was still high (ish) in the North West sky - the clearest sunset since the Solstice. Had a taxi turned up, I would have trolled up to Calton Hill, to watch the full majesty of it setting far over the Forth and hills of Fife. But it didn't. But still my soul was restored.

    Indulge me while I give you this one again... it pacifies the gods.

    Sicut erit in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum.
    As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end.

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    Wednesday, June 25, 2003


    Those of you who pay attention will have noticed an additional entry late yesterday. This is something we try to avoid, as of course people never notice late entries. However, I'm offering you that choice today. It was about a re-union I didn't attend.

    No-one can hear you scream

    Well, what should pop into my inbox today but an email from two who did. Two of the kindest, most lovely people. Someone at the "do" (and I can guess who it was), was passing out this URL. Oopsableedingdaisy.

    When two worlds collide

    But that's not all! Aforementioned lovely couple are also in touch with my real sister, as depicted a few posts below. The entire rationale, the sine qua non of Naked Blog is that it's not intended for family consumption. Some of you have had similar privacy issues yourselves. At least two of you changed your net-names, and now write pseudonymously. Bit late for that here.

    I've already replied to J and S (let's call them), asking, nay begging for their confidentiality. Hopefully they'll realise that their prime duty is to me. Or maybe they won't. After all, it was I who did the abandoning.

    I sense turmoil ahead. Let's hope for some calm after the storm.

    "I must stop pouring myself out onto paper." Josh (Some years ago.)

    Out (of the closet) and about

    It's unlikely that you'll ever read a more dramatic "coming out" than that of Marc (June 20) He's trailed it for a long time, and now it's here. A must-read.

    Plaudits to him also for the following...
    "Seriously, who fuckin writes this garbage for Queer as Folk. I can't even laugh at how bad it is. It's like white guys writing for a black sitcom. It's actually a good thing that it is an all white cast..(i think for a second i saw one asian guy in there somewhere) and super white at that."
    Don't know if that was the same QAF as we had here, Marc, but ours was certainly the pits. Yet the queens fell all over it like dogs grateful to their master for a crumb. Judging from the Channel Four noticeboard at the time, the main demographic was teenage girls getting their rocks off.

    Internalised homophobia

    Oh dear, now I'll be berated by Groc again for dissing queens. Groc who recently wrote here...
    "oh dearie me -you're back on the 'real men' thing again - tell us, does this mean that deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep down you're just the teensy tinsy tiny bit miffed that you weren't born a 'real' woman instead of a right queen?"
    But I'm not dissing them especially, o Grockle. Most queens are, like most straight people, thick-as-pigshit, Sun-reading, Big Brother-watchers. Misanthropy is the word, I think.

    And as for coming back to the 'real men' thing, well - I'll come back to it again and again until I learn just how it is that a gay man can ever find another gay man attractive. (For more than half an hour.) This question has exercised much greater minds than either of ours.

    Being a woman? There are pros and cons. I might have married - but it wouldn't have lasted. Hopefully I would have had the good sense to remain childless, as I can barely look after myself. But all flesh sags in time, so we end up in the same unfancied boat eventually. And that event has long since happened to this writer.

    But, of course, the main thing is that I'm not a woman. And no amount of surgical mutilation can alter that.

    Jeff Bridges fans (such as myself) might be interested in his new website. It's unusual. Link via Der Kultur-Channel. (Yes - we're that global nowadays!)

    And you say? (10)   Link to this

    Tuesday, June 24, 2003

    (For those six of you who actually read this rubbish, there is an extra evening supplement at the bottom of today's post.)
    The problem with setting yourself up as a Google-whore is that when you have tea with a lesbian fire-fighter, as happened yesterday, no-one will believe a word of it.

    Sandra, Johnny and her daughter were in town, having a stopover between Costa del Sol and Costa Northa Scotland. Drinkie-winkies, starting at nine-thirty (SHOCK!) then lunch in the local Wetherspoons, which was predictably awful. The day that joint manages to serve the correct meal at the proper temperature will be the first one - for me, at least.

    Home to sleep it all off, then ring, ring goes my new mobile. It was Dean. "Are you coming out to play?" "Why yes, of course!"

    Well, who does he turn up with at the Lighthouse than a really attractive woman. "This is S," he introduced. "A firey lady."

    "Firey?" I asked, bemused. "Yes, I'm a firefighter," S replied. "And her girlfriend's coming along later," Dean announced.

    "Oh - I remember you!" I declared, grinning. "You came to a 'non-fire' at my bingo last year, and chatted to MargeTheLesbian!"
    October 6, 2002
    And when I turned up for the shift at 1pm on Friday, after my little holiday, what should I walk into but a total evacuation of the building. "Is it mice?" I asked, disoriented. "No, a fire alarm," I was told. "It's a drill, right?" I said. "No, not a drill."

    The bingo ladies stood there clucking. (Fortunately the weather was kind.) Three fire engines turned up, and a load of firemen poured out. And a firewoman. One.

    "Ooh - I know her!" said MargeTheLesbian. And Lady Fireman (who was gorgeous), and Marge were soon deep in chat. Awesome. I can't imagine the banter that goes on at the Fire Station. Me, I was in homo heaven, eyes roaming greedily over the masculine menu, while desperately trying to burst into flames.

    But the excitement, in its various forms, was short-lived. False alarm. Cigarette smoke and a smoke detector. Soon the ladies were back in their lucky seats, and all were given a free cup of tea - the company's catch-all panacea.
    "Great to meet you at last!" I beamed at her.

    "So - what's it really like, being a lesbian fire-fighter?" I asked, genuinely intrigued for once. (Have you ever noticed just how boring most people's jobs are?) "Do you get much hassle from the men?"

    "No - not at all!" S replied. "They generally invite me to their stag-nights and stuff. And even into titty-bars, where I'm always slagging (criticising) their taste." We laughed. It was good. Dean suggested S could be honorary hunk of the week, togged up in her working outfit, behind the wheel of a fire engine.

    Yes, yes, I thought. But I was also imagining S's colleagues in my viewfinder!

    Later, having left my tea-time companions, who should I bump into in the Port than Shona from Channel Four. She's looking for the next big Scottish Drama Series. Apparently "The Book Group" was the last one. "I could write it for you in five minutes," I offered. "But you'd never use it. It would be too good."

    Shona was intrigued by our recent venture of running a radio station. She said it would have made a great documentary. "I know," I agreed. "Pretty much anything with me in would make a great documentary."

    This evening I'm invited to a re-union of past and present colleagues at a job I did for twenty years. With people I knew even better than my family, but whom now I see never at all. Terror wouldn't begin to describe it. "What have you been doing for fifteen years?" Yet all I have to do is leave the house and have one pint of Guinness, right now, and the thing will never happen.

    At least in June there's a choice, a possibility. Now that the Solstice is past, I'm already seeing December ahead...

    For the wheel's still in spin...

    Six forty-five pm and I haven't gone. There's time, however. It's definitely pressing on my mind. Still sober, but the innocent nose would detect a pint or two of San Miguel. Held out till late afternoon, I did, but then caved in. You'll know the feeling - you're not too stable yourself.

    Never go back, they say. Never revisit. What on earth could any of us gain, as I see their wrinkly old faces (fifteen years, remember), and listen to their woes over luxury flats, summer homes, and expensive cars?

    While I get happy over a digital camera last year, and a mobile phone this one. And the new B and Q tent I'm saving up for for this year's extravaganza in Aviemore. Purportedly.

    The bed is made - and on it I must lie forever. Pity, in a way, but it's freedom in another. Release from and rejection of the middle class, except to toy with and to ridicule. And they don't even read this weblog. That's them, not you, darlings.

    There's something of the Orwell in me, I've learned of late. Except he merely dallied, whereas I have endured.

    Querelle of Brest. I was you - once. Men always kill the thing they love.

    And you say? (10)   Link to this

    Monday, June 23, 2003


    This is me with my sister. She's 47 today. She lives on another continent. In another hemisphere. On another planet.

    Extended family?

    It all makes me very sad. But I like this picture.

    If we were to know what the future holds, how mad would we go?

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    Sunday, June 22, 2003

    Yes, it's true. Our ratings are slipping all over the place. Yesterday we subbed 400 for the first time evah. So in a (some would say desperate) attempt to regain a little Google-cred, I've today concocted this little fantasy.

    It's a complete fabrication. Also, none of the people named are the famous versions you might have heard of, but rather "Stars in your Eyes" impersonators.

    All of the Google references are from the past week on Naked Blog. I've omitted the most prurient items, as this is of course a family publication.
    Natasha Kaplinsky was walking through the woods one day, gathering material for BBC Breakfast naked news free no pop up ads, when she suddenly spied Prince William naked. "It's my 21st birthday!" William said to her, quickly throwing on some clothes. "My God!" she cried. "That's quite a David Boreanaz penis you got!"

    "I know," he said, beaming regally. "Much bigger than my younger bro. Only yesterday I watched Prince Harry jerking with no censor."

    They walked round the corner, and there was Sophie Raworth smoking. "You bitch naked in the showers!" Raworth cried to Kaplinsky, coming out with a bittorrent of family abuse. "You stole my naked news show!"

    "Oh come on, horny middle-aged ladies!" William coached. "I'm off to my dildonics group to see some arabic actors having sex." He flicked on his Marge Simpson radio, but it was Fotbol Homosexualidad (un deporte para machos). After that finished there was some news about Malcolm Mclaren gay and Hooters NYC restaurant.

    He walked along some more thinking about Natasha and her tiny breasts in a lesbian shower scene with Fairy Liquid, when what should he spot but Robbie Williams naked with his dick out. He was in the Hilary Duff. "Hey Prince!" greeted Robbie. You want some horny prison pen pals?"

    "Nah, dude!" not interested, replied Prince William. "So, who's your favourite naked pop stars, then?"

    "Quite into Gareth Gates and Stephen Gately," Robbie confessed, "but I'd really like to see Kylie Minogue nuked. These days I mostly watch Channel 4 Big Brother though. And you gotta love those bad liposuction pictures."

    "Is that the one on" the Prince asked seriously. "And you do realise I'm the most famous big brother in the land - as well as one of the gods of sex?"

    "Respect, your royal highness," Robbie said, still feeling fresh after his cleanout enema. Rectum - damn near killed him. Oops tit slip movie. He finished dressing, pulling on a David Beckham "fuck you" t-shirt. I love that naked footballer's hairstyles," he gushed.
    Well, that's all I've got time for right now. There's only so much a man can take - even me. But, of course, if you want to continue this naked Hogwarts Tale in the comment box...

    And you say? (14)   Link to this

    Saturday, June 21, 2003


    Happy 21st birthday, o Prince William of the people. For as long as you resemble your mother you'll get away with loads. Even the birthday pics seem designed to emphasise your Diana-ness. No trace of wrinkled daddy in your princely face.

    Your very popularity, in that you are half-she, will give your father a far-from-happy reign. "Abdicate!" they'll constantly cry, as he puts one wrong foot in front of the other. "Make way for the young-un!"

    Until that glory day when you ascend the throne - half goddess and half gargoyle Teuton. Then she will live again. The resurrection of the flesh.

    Make no mistake - that's all they really want.

    What are Google numbers, and where do I find them? (Inspired by Blue Witch.)

    And you say? (9)   Link to this

    Friday, June 20, 2003


    Did you see it last night? It was awful, wasn't it?

    No - I'm not talking about Blair Witch II, a money-spinning teenage tie-in, but the programme before... some psychic creation starring Carol Vorderman. And Anne Diamond. And the Nolans.

    Honest - I'm not kidding. The knives were out, big-time. Or rather, scalpels.

    My advice, Carol: get your next facial surgeon to employ a spirit-level, honey. At present your right eye is half an inch higher than the left. Just why this averagely-intelligent, average-looking woman should be trying to make herself into Cher Mark II defeats me. You'll never do it, sweetness. Cher's got talent and charisma. You're just a nobody who struck lucky.

    Continuing in bilious mode, I've changed my nomination for Scaryduck's worst ever film. Forget Towering Inferno and anything with Karen Black flying a plane, and settle instead for - tada... Breakfast at Tiffany's. Which we describe thus...
    "Yes - I know it wasn't yesterday, unlike some of the entries here, but nip back to 1961 and savour the delights of Breakfast at Tiffany's!! Or rather, don't!!!

    It combines the non-talents of Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard (which jointly wouldn't fill a teaspoon), with a hopeless lack of plot or even story, together with a style which was meant to be up-to-date, but in reality was old-fashioned before the developing fluid dried.

    And if that wasn't enough, there's Moon River, surely the most ghastly song since singing caught on. You'll hate the whole thing. Thoroughly recommended. It's got to win."

    Oh how the young do witter and gibber! Over at London Calling there's a petition to raise the age of gay consent to 35. (I think Dave's feeling the pinch from younger competition a bit these days!) No matter.

    A good example of why this is such a good thing was last night in the pub, when one of my new radio-fans, who must be twenty-two if he's a day, was moaning on and on about the show last week. I couldn't shut him up. "You'll have all the old ladies wetting their knickers with that voice," he kept saying. "And not just old ladies, by the looks of it!" I replied, caustically but it was wasted. Wee Robert and Big Straight Al managed a titter, however.

    He asked for a pint, which I bought him. He asked for a cigarette, which I gave him. Then later, drunk as a skunk, he asked for a cigarette again. "Listen, honey..." I cautioned. "One pint and one cig are one thing. More than that and it becomes a bit rent-boy doncha think?" Big Al was in hysterics beside me. "I mean - what're you gonna do for this cigarette?"

    I sat there, psychically beaming visions of fifty-six-year-old flesh into his unlined head. He paused, hand halfway to the cigarette packet, then withdrew it and never asked for a cigarette again.

    Yes, I signed Dave's petition, but added that the legal age should be 40, not 35. For the very reasons you've just read.

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    Thursday, June 19, 2003


    To lunch yesterday, at The Compass, Leith's newest eaterie, just opposite the Leith Police. (Formerly The Slammer.)

    I'd originally invited Tony and Louise on Sunday, in an attempt to cling onto last week's radio activity, but it was cool. We've all put it behind us and moved on.

    Spanish meat tapas, fish tapas, and my favourite which was warm squid with crouton and rocket leaves. Delish.

    For mains Louise had mussels with chip buttie, while T and I settled for Persian lamb-burger with chips and tortilla. Totally tastylicious. "Can you assure me the lamb-burger is from Persia?" I asked the waitress/owner, somewhat cheekily. "And do you realise Persia is called Iran nowadays?" It was that sort of place. Guardian-reading. I never mis-match my repartee.

    "I'm not calling them Iran-burgers, if that's what you think!" said the chef, coming to join us. He was wearing a red and white polka dot bandanna, pirate-style, which clashed a little with his modern specs. Briefly I felt a "Karen moment" coming on... "Honey - you'll know if I want to talk to you when I make eye contact." But of course I didn't.

    We touched on depression as we chatted. "I think depression is for special people," Louise opined. "People who can't burn that brightly all the time so they have sink down for a rest."

    "I always say depression is better than nothing, " I agreed. "It can actually be quite exciting - almost killing yourself but not quite. How edgy is that?"

    We went to the Port for a quickie, at Tony's suggestion, but it was awful. Sub-trainspotting, as one schemie dude threatened Homer the German Shepherd with his two Rottweilers. I'm not sure if Homer understood what the man was saying.

    I left quite quickly, and sat in the Lighthouse on me tod, sending texts saying, "Peace. Calm. Tranquillity." Then I sent one saying, "Gentle music. Middle classes." Barbara and cyberslut turned up. Time passed.

    Nip over to Scaryduck and vote for your favourite worst film of all time. I picked Towering Inferno and that one where Karen Black flies the plane.

    And you say? (7)   Link to this

    Wednesday, June 18, 2003


    A few thoughts on the homosexualist lifestyle as written last night post-pub. Very offensive. (As usual.) I love blogging.

    The background is that I spent the entire afternoon and early evening in what can only be described as testosterone city. (Port o Leith on a very good day.) And I was the only queen. And no, I'm not naming anyone, to protect the innocent. Nevertheless, my phaser was set to stun.
    "This afternoon I was introduced to the most attractive man I've probably ever met. A gangster. Utterly charming.

    You all sit in your comfy middle class homes, but you forget that what you read here is pure Trainspotting.

    My task is to filter the reality so you won't get too upset. You couldn't take it - it's beyond your experience. C for Caution. More tomorrow."
    I left it at that and went to watch some telly. But, do you know, in no time at all I was back on the soap box.
    "Well - maybe a bit more now, while I'm in the mood. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern figures greatly in my blogsisters' stories. Drag queens, pretendy "men" and so on. I've never been, nor will I, but I feel I know it inside out.

    And this is what I want to say. There is no amount of carefully coiffed facial hair, nor leather jacket, nor ink under the skin, which will transform a queen into a man.

    A man is something quite different - something I feel so few of you have ever experienced, something so hard to find yet precious when you do.

    Good luck, my young friends, and bon voyage. But if it all falls through, then there's always IKEA to visit on a Sunday and the dog to feed, or take to the vet for his injections.

    Some of you even have matching streaks. How very sexy."
    What a nasty piece of work I can be sometimes. Spot the bitter old queen, and phone in to win a festival t-shirt. (But I know you wouldn't have me any different!) How bland would that be, eh?

    Pogo comes to terms with his wife's infidelity on Dearie Me. Start at June 14 and read upwards.

    And you say? (19)   Link to this

    Tuesday, June 17, 2003


    Still the well is dry. No urge to communicate my banal existence, nor tart it up. However today I cautiously dipped a toe into a few blogs and dropped the occasional comment. We'll see.

    Well, maybe just a little. Yesterday in The Village we had a heated debate about lettuce. Nick had just come back from Kos and was waxing on about how hot it was. Hardly surprising.
    "Did you see many lettuces?" I asked, innocently.

    "No, but I can see why they're shaped the way they are - growing in a hot place like that," said Nick, miming the curvature of a Kos.

    "But they're not from Kos!" Babs the chef interjected. She was on her second half pint. "They're spelled Cos and they come from Holland or somewhere."

    "Next you'll be telling me Iceberg come from the North Pole!" I retorted, hopefully not too rudely.
    We laughed, but begged to differ.

    There's a breathtaking scene in the pleasant but rarely-mentioned film Calendar Girl, in which Jason Priestley and the usual suspects play a bunch of high-school students attempting to meet their idol, Marylin Monroe. (When she was alive, obviously.)

    When one of them finally gets a "date" set up, another comes out with the following...
    "This will be the biggest thing which will ever happen to you. After tonight, nothing - nothing - in your life will be the same again." (From memory.)

    Last week wasn't quite as important as that for me. And now nip over to Steve, who's having an awful time of it just now.

    I think I've just blogged.

    And you say? (10)   Link to this

    Monday, June 16, 2003


    Yes - it's that time of the year again folks! The time when I've just completed a compelling slice of life, but am now sitting once again facing that cold and blinking cursor.

    Writing is OK, but living is one hundred times better. Isn't it?

    The same thing happened exactly a year ago, after my absorbing camping trip to Portpatrick and Stranraer...


    Hi. Sorry there are still no further instalments of the Great Camping Adventure.

    I think I've lost the blogbug. After last week's holiday glory of getting to know so many interesting people for real, blogging to people I'll never, ever meet has suddenly lost its appeal.

    Keeping this weblog has significantly reduced my social interactions, and caused actual harm to my life.

    Rex has volunteered his services as guest blogger. I hope you'll enjoy his writing.

    In short, after spending last week in the full flood of living to the max, do I really want to revert to drooping over Naked Blog every day? Is there a middle way? Or are we collectively doomed? Take our fascinating new poll. It's a big 'un.

    (The bizarre aftermath to the blue story above is that only a couple of days later we featured for the first time in the Guardian Best British Blogs. This compelled me to blog for sheer life, whether I wanted to or not.)

    Previous Poll Results
    How much of the time would you describe yourself as happy?
  • Almost always 14%
  • Most of the time 35%
  • About half the time 23%
  • Not very often 17%
  • Hardly ever 11%
  • In summary: Almost exactly half the respondents are happy all or most of the time. One quarter feel happy about half the time, and a quarter are not very happy at all. Although I don't know any of you, big hugs anyway. Thanks to all 174 who took part.

    And you say? (5)   Link to this

    Friday, June 13, 2003


    It's four pm, and I've just done my show, plus half my "real" work, and at last things are calming down inside that globulated wreck I'd once have called a brain.

    Thank you, Tony, so much for everything this week. And thanks to the fabby Louise for being the best weather "personality" a presenter could ask for.

    Now that it's safely over, of course - I'm just itching to get back in the saddle again. Someone in the profession has already offered to be my PA/manager.

    To you, NB readers - one million thanks also for your interest and kindness during the physical and emotional roller-coaster of the last five days. There've definitely been tricky times inside the grey matter. There's what I call the "thrusting spike" deep in the head which you normally only get with Class A's or advanced meditation. That's been a near-constant companion - probably a combo of the daylight and unaccustomed morning mega-activity.

    But now it's going away at last, and tonight I'll sleep like the newly-born.

    Beyond belief. And the good news is that Tony is going to make up a 20Mb mp3 and post it up for all of you to enjoy. Plus there'll be pics on the festival site.

    And you say? (3)   Link to this

    Thursday, June 12, 2003


    Tired. So very tired. It's over at noon tomorrow, and then I'm looking forward to getting back to work for a rest.

    My advice to the novice radio presenter? Don't sign up for fifteen hours in five days. Learning on the job is one thing, but this has been ridiculous. We're getting snappy, which is just not me.

    Would I do it again? Possibly, but on balance probably not. Too little freedom. Well - none. I haven't expressed one single opinion all week. You get more of me here in five minutes than you would have in the twelve broadcast hours. What started on Monday as a fledgling presentation has shrunk to little more than reading out the Festival programme and punting ridiculous competitions. Downhill all the way. Broadcast regulations, you see.

    We've mucked in and struggled on though, this far. Tony has been great, but we've let the machines take over. Too, too much technology. This morning the ads on one computer were breaking into the jingles on another. Or the other way round. Plus of course there's a mixing desk which would sink the Titanic. Me, I took one look at that mother and just said no!

    I think I've been a bit precious, or luvvie, or just plain stressed at times. People see the stony exterior but don't realise the ferment inside - the ferment which is the reason I do it. I've lost count of the times this week I've had to say, "No - I'm presenting a radio show right now - you do that, please."

    I've totally lost control of the guest list. This morning there were three - friends of various people. (I know people are just being helpful.) Tomorrow it's a Rich Old Business Queen, followed by a bunch of 10 year olds doing media studies (I ask you! When I was 10 we did reading, writing and the other thing.) Then there's a restauranteur from Baghdad called Mohammed, and finally there's the damn drugs squad. Seriously. You couldn't make it up.

    I can't even remember yesterday's three. There was a janny who does under-13 football, and after that it's a complete blur.

    This morning we played Penny Lane, which was the only one I recognised. Yesterday I think there was one Dusty. Louise has been fantastic at making up the playlists and providing the tracks. I couldn't have even started. Next time it'll be light classical and long gentle talks though, with me choosing the guests. But the problems are really just mismatch. I can't operate the machine (it's a professional mixing board - I kid you not!) and long-term readers will know my views on pop.

    Yet every day now, people tell me to send off tapes to broadcasters. My reply? "I'm fifty-six. Maybe thirty years ago." This morning I had to go even further to shut someone up, saying, "I'm just waiting to die." Tony laughed at that - but it's true, of course.

    This afternoon, Rich Old Business Queen told me he knew the controller at Radio X very well. "How fascinating," I said, and walked away. Performers are prostitutes. And I'm not very good at either.

    And you say? (11)   Link to this

    Tuesday, June 10, 2003


    It seems strange, writing to you like this, now that spoken broadcast is my new, exciting medium. Well - quite exciting. Well - a piece of piss, in fact - as I'd always suspected it would be.

    Now you see, piss is a word that I have to avoid this week. Bad words. Bad topics. No brand names. No controversy. No Kenny Everett.

    But Tony Blackburn. David Hamilton. Noel Edmonds. John Peel. Jimmy Savile.

    Loopy Louise, my weather girl, is a huge hit. She's Tony's wife in real life. "Now (David Frost voice) what sort of weather can we expect today? With us in the weather studio is Loopy Louise. Good morning Louise.".

    This morning my studio guests were Andrew Dallmeyer the playwright, Andrew Wilson, novelist, and Mary Moriarty the superstar pub landlady.

    People keep coming up in the pub after the show and wanting to be on it. So much stardom, so cruelly to be snatched away at noon on Friday. Zero to hero and back again. And do you know? I wouldn't have missed it.

    Some climb mountains. Others crawl across ice floes. Me, I tackle the most horrifying thing of all - shyness.

    But only pretend, really. After the show (I can't believe I'm actually writing that) we have a drink, and then it's quickly back to my house for the entire rest of the day. Eat, sleep, lie down in front of the telly, my one true companion. So giving and never demanding.

    This week I'm seeing even fewer people than usual. There's to be a great after-show bash at the end of the week, but you can guess who won't be there...

    Stuart's doing a festival gig of reiki and tarot at the Village right now this minute. "Get Detox not Botox". But I'm not there either.

    Shyness, you see. I just never know what to say to people. Even him, now that he's gone.

    And you say? (14)   Link to this

    Monday, June 09, 2003


    I shouldn't be sitting here writing to you like this. It's seven am and I'm on air at nine - for three hours. That's the killer bit. Ah well... at least the scary part got done yesterday.

    I think I bombed. Gwen was tons better. But, as we said in the pub later - it isn't a competition.

    The odd bit is the total lack of feedback. I'm used to an audience of up to six or seven hundred - live, there in front of me. Rod the sound engineer was advising me on speed (that's how fast you speak, not the drug), and on timing. If you crack a funny you still have to pause, if only for mental laughter. Cling to the idea that at least one person will be listening.

    Yesterday my music choices were Hey Joe, I'm a Believer, and Nights in White Satin - but the last one droned on a bit so we faded it out. Then Gwen and I did an ad-lib hand-over, but the mic was on cut so no-one heard it. Our first dead air. And do you know? It won't be the last :)

    Tony is also my sound engineer, as well as Station Manager. He's coping very well so far, and I think he was pleased it actually happened last night.

    It's awesome going up to wannabe famous acts and saying, "Hi, I'm Peter Russell - presenter of the morning show. Would you like to do an interview?" Respect. Hehe.

    Pro-active Peter. But it's just another mode. Switch that personality. The GAP jacket really helps.

    Showbusiness is the only reality. There's no point in saying anything at all unless it's on camera, as someone wisely opined.

    This morning's guests are Elio from the fish shop and Mary from the Port o Leith Bar. Gwen is doing the news at the top of the hour, but I'm talking her into doing about ten minutes while I crash out. Louise is my weather girl, and she wants to be a dizzy blonde. Looks Iike I'm the testosterone dude.

    Now I have to buy a hundred newspapers so I can drone on about the Euro. Not. Probably.

    Fortean Times would be better, plus all those weird and wacky websites you're going to tell me about.

    Good. Thanks for reading thus far. I feel better now. More later. Break a leg. I wonder how Jimmy Young is coping with retirement.

    Sorry, but I don't think we're on Live365 at the moment. Maybe later in the week.

    And you say? (4)   Link to this

    Sunday, June 08, 2003


    I can't say much, as of course it all really happened. Twelve radio minutes. We have made our mark on the electromagnetic spectrum. (I'm too pissed to type, and I haven't got any clean clothes.)

    Sorry to those who haven't a clue what I'm going on about, and maybe tomorrow it'll all be clearer. I don't know... Everyone's crawling up my ass right now... Let me be on your radio show. Awesome. I have to get up at six am to prepare three hours of stuff. There's more in the comment box for the post below.

    I'm going outside just now, and I might be some time.

    And you say? (1)   Link to this

    Friday, June 06, 2003


    It's all a send-up, really...Having run out of Hunks (until some more turn up and get acclimatised), this Friday we're having a bit of a camporama. Beginning with Troubled Diva's fab new look, celebrating all that's kitsch in the blogosphere. (For the full story you have to scroll down a bit.)

    And you say? (4)   Link to this


    L to R: Granny, Sam, Postman in relaxed moodMy more long-standing readers will doubtless recall the havoc wreaked on the sleepy town of Portpatrick, Dumfries and Galloway, last summer, when a horde of homosexuals and their canine followers literally set up camp nearby.

    Still you can hear in the historic bars and hotels the muttered yearnings... "D'ye remember those guys from Edinburgh last summer, Frankie? Were they no a hoot?" "Aye Tam - wonder if they're coming back again this year..."

    Well - I've got news, guys! We're not!

    What is going to happen is a small change to the line-up (Postman out and Granny in), and instead of going South we're heading North to pitch our B&Q tents. Your ideas will, as ever, be welcomed. Ben Nevis? We need somewhere paradoxically wild but sociable.

    And you say? (5)   Link to this


    In an extremely narrow-ranging interview this morning on BBC Breakfast, Julian Clary attempted to re-grab the headlines by opining that Natasha Kaplinsky was camp.

    "Worth getting up for in the morning," said Jules.

    Strange. I just thought she was slutty. Or are they the same thing?


    And finally, congratulations to Alastair of Scaryduck, surely the campest weblog in the discovered universe, on his interview in The Guardian yesterday. From which we accrued considerable traffic here at Naked Blog. What's in a title, eh?

    And you say? (7)   Link to this

    Thursday, June 05, 2003


    I've now joined the ranks of the radio-incontinent. For the last two mornings there've been the most lurid nightmares about dead air, guests effing and blinding live, people not turning up, me having a nervous breakdown, and so on.

    Just what I imagined, really - which is why I took it on. I love fear. Reminds you you're alive.

    We spent ages in the pub last night, planning a list of interesting guests. Everyone from Irvine Welsh (lives in Amsterdam, reportedly), to Gary McCormack who starred in Gangs of New York, and reportedly drinks in Robbie's. The Queen was in Edinburgh yesterday, but we were too late to snatch her up.

    But it's not all bad news! Oh, no. I've got my first guest for definite. Someone from the Italian Community to chat about the changes he's seen over the decades. Is it DeNiro? Why not at all. Pacino? Gandolfini? No way Jose. It's Elio from the fish shop!! They say that in the beginning there was Elio's fish shop, and then Leith grew up around it. A scoop. Take that, Radio Forth!

    And you say? (4)   Link to this

    Wednesday, June 04, 2003


    We've now got enough equipment to mike and mix the Liverpool Philharmonic. Mini-disc players for the roving reporters are being ordered as I speak. Schedules are far from finalised, although it looks like I'm to be Peter Russell, and my show called Russell In The Morning. How does that grabya? Thought of it meself, the kna's.

    Tony my Station Manager (aka IT manager), is somewhat shitting himself that no-one's got that much of an idea what's actually going on this lovely Community Station. But me, I have no worries. My talent is for improvisation - I have no need of scripts or schedules. For thirty years I've earned my living speaking, without a solitary clue as to what I'm going to say next. It's never failed before.

    All I need is a microphone, CD player, and two volume knobs. And you.

    Why me? I hear you ask. Well, for two reasons. Take a look at this Festival Guide, and send me your ideas about what to put on a morning radio show. I need your input.

    Secondly, imagine yourself listed on the sponsors sheet of said guide - and think of the kudos which will attach to your business (or even your website.)

    Or maybe buy an ad. Very cheap. Just 50 for 10 seconds, repeated hourly for six, yes six, days. Or double that for twenty seconds, should you be sufficiently rich. We need your cash, darlings. The radio station is staffed entirely by volunteers. The website is the kind donation of Tony of Wordwrap Web Development. Sponsorship is for unavoidable expenses only, such as licences. And your ad will be heard globally on our streaming internet radio.

    So - get those cheque books out, those thinking caps on, and send me your ideas and your dosh. For over two years you've enjoyed at a distance the community of Leith. It's payback time. Don't make me send the big boys round.

    And you say? (9)   Link to this

    Tuesday, June 03, 2003


    I was surprised and a bit disappointed by the almost blanket non-coverage of yesterday's Coronation anniversary. I know Her Majesty had requested such, after the successes/excesses of last year's Jubilee - plus of course the Old Queen popping her cloggettes - but I thought a little more than half an hour on BBC1 might have been raked up. As Diamond Geezer pointed out, it wasn't just the anniversary of a Coronation, but the birth of TV as now we know it.

    I'm a bit drained today, not only with historical outpourings, but real life also. Seasonal Affective Mania is all very well, but some days I feel I could sleep for a year. Here in Scotland for the next two months it's only dark for about three hours a day, so you have to make sure you're in bed and available for sleeping at that time.

    I don't know - always complaining, amn't I? They tell me the Equator is lovely at this time of year. Well, at every time of year! Imagine life without a season - where the stars go neither from left to right, nor vice versa, but only up and down! (According to Skyglobe, at least.)


    Talking about views - here's a fantastic 360 degree panorama from the top of Everest Qomolangma. There are eighty more panos linked from the page. (Via It's a Blog's Life.)

    Somewhat less elevated, you can enjoy a pano of the world-famous Port o Leith Bar here. You've met the cast - now see the Naked setting! It's a joint venture by Tony my IT manager, and David Morrison, photographer.

    Also, there's a Blogger's Dictionary, which you might enjoy. (Via Rex of Mindless Prattle.)

    That's it, folks! Community Radio beckons shortly.

    PS: Did you know that Tony my IT manager's lovely wife Louise once made a record? And had it played by John Peel? Yes, it's true. It was in her punk period, and the title if I recall was "Get yer hands off me safety pins or I'll kick yer heid in." Maybe Louise will kindly grace us with an mp3.

    And you say? (17)   Link to this

    Monday, June 02, 2003


    Others may have copies of the Radio Times from fifty years ago, but here we got the real thing, honey. The piece below is the most recent in an occasional series of reminiscences about the Coronation period. Doubtless the papers and magazines will be full of similar and maybe even better, but this is my own recollection of that great event - fifty years ago today, when I was aged six and a half. I hope you enjoy it.

    For an excellent factual account of that historic, paradigm-shifting broadcast see the Alexandra Palace Television Society. Also the always spot-on Diamond Geezer. The BBC have a page called on this day, with link to genuine footage.

    And you say? (4)   Link to this

    CORONATION DAY, 1953 (As promised for over a year...)

    At school yesterday Miss Bennett told us the Queen had given all the children in the land a day off school today for The Coronation. I like the Queen!

    Also we had to go out to the front of the class and get our special gift from the Queen which was a toothbrush and a mug. The girls got pink ones and the boys got blue. On the mug was a picture of Prince Charles and Princess Anne and there was a packet of dolly mixtures inside. Miss Bennett said we could eat the sweets with our school milk at playtime.

    School milk comes in a little bottle called a third of a pint. Also you get a straw. It's nice but in summer it's a bit sickly hot and in winter there's ice in. We like the ice best and call it ice cream. Every day Malcolm Johnson who is one of the big boys comes into the class and looks at the thermometer. Thermometer means how hot it is. Then he writes it in a book. I would like that job some day but when I looked at thermometer I couldn't understand it.

    On Sunday mam and nana put the Coronation flags out the front window. You have to stretch them across the front street and then they go into the house across the street. Our flag went into Bella Harbisher's house. They're red, white and blue and they smell really funny. Now the whole street has got flags across, and everybody's very excited. The Queen has been to a lot of towns but she never came to my town. Miss Bennett said there were too many places for her to go to. I would love to see the Queen.

    Last night mam and me cleaned the front room ready for the Coronation. We got a new vacuum cleaner called Goblin. Dad gave mam the Goblin vacuum cleaner for her birthday and she was very happy. I was vacuuming the carpet and mam polished the new telly. Then she washed the screen at the front. We brought some more chairs in from nana's house cos a lot of mam's friends are coming today to watch the Coronation. It starts at ten o clock and goes on till tea time. Mam has made some sandwiches. She let me put the butter on the bread. It's called best butter. Sometimes we have marge.

    None of my friends or cousins have got a telly so they're coming in to watch it at my house. Mam says they got to be really quiet or we're all going outside. We all sat down and watched the Coronation but it was very boring. You could hardly see anything cos it was that small and there was no Queen or Golden Coach. Mam said that was later so we all went out and played hide and seek. Then we got sick of that and played cricket in the back street.

    After a bit we all went in and you could see the coach and horses going along the street. Funny music was on and a man was talking. That's Richard Dimbleby my dad said. He said he'd like his job. The curtains were drawn so you could see the telly and the lights were off. All our front room was full of people and some of them I didn't know. Mam was giving them sandwiches and they all were drinking stuff with funny smell and smoking.

    "Look! There she is!" Auntie Alice said when the Queen got out of her coach. "Oooh - she's beautiful," my mam said. "And look at that dress." I looked at her but she was very small. You could just make out how beautiful she was. Six girls were holding the back of the dress which is called train.

    I watched it for a bit and then I asked my mam if I could put my wellies on and go up the beck. Beck means stream. Mam gave me my wellies but she was watching the telly all the time. We went up the beck and plodged. The water came over the top of my wellies and soaked my socks but I didn't mind. We did jumping across the beck and then we made a dam. My cousin had a fishing net and he caught a minnow and put it in a jar. And that was the Coronation.

    And you say? (7)   Link to this

    Sunday, June 01, 2003


    It's quarter to nine on Sunday morning, scene of my regular weekly dilemma.
    Do I go through to the living room and watch Frost on Sunday or not?
    Reasons for: I might learn something interesting. I might even blog about it. Great key-change to the relative minor in the signature tune.

    Reasons against: Writing about others' words, deeds and thoughts is much more boring than reporting one's own. Like the most-of-the-afternoon breakfast I'm having with Gwen my co-presenter today, before we undertake phase one of our radio training. Kinda beats Downing Street deadbeats, doncha just think?

    Or the time, only yesterday, when after I'd ordered the entire bingo hall to switch off their mobiles, my own started ringing in my pants pocket, and you could hear it all over the microphone? Now that's what I call important.

    Hmmm. It's now 8.50 and you haven't helped me decide one bit...


    Watched part of it. Allison Pearson and Matthew Parris were less than startling about the papers. (Although, to be honest, I was texting Scott in a pub in Perth. That's Perth, Australia, of course.) Mobiles might have more computing power than lunar excursion modules, but they don't store many messages, do they? I had this idea they'd go on for ever and ever, like Outlook Express.

    Switched off when it came to some dude who'd walked/crawled/swam across one of the Poles. Don't get me wrong - I have no objection to people doing extraordinary stunts. Just so long as they don't expect others to take risks to rescue them when it all goes ratshit. And so long as - once rescued - they pay every penny of the costs. I note Richard Branson does that on his ridiculous balloon missions. (Which my new mobile phone is financing, btw.)

    Billed after the Polar wanderer was Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to blether about WMD, as they're now being called. At least with Straw you never get spin. For that you would need a personality.

    Cross Questions

    Are you a Christian or a homosexual? If yes to either or both you might be interested in this discussion on Dean Esmay's site. In order to take part you have to be either (a) a Christian (that's all the way - not just vaguely holy) - or (b) a homosexual. (Ditto.)

    I tried to grapple with the transcendent enormity, and parts are quite interesting, but I'm afraid it does go on a bit. No wonder The Bible was such a hit. Link via our own charlie b of Here Inside, who's there inside it somewhere.

    Pax vobiscum

    The Guardian got so thoroughly slagged for ripping off Where Is Raed, that they've now done the decent thing and given the lad a column. This will have two effects: it'll dry him up, and put him in even more danger. Don't feel for one second that the forces of Sadaam have entirely gone. And of course there's always friendly fire. Ah well - don't say I never warned you.

    Gap Culture

    Sufferers from Seasonal Affective Disorder have an absolute fucking ball at this time of year. You'll recall how last week we watched Matrix and Matrix Reloaded and bought a mobile phone and reviewed Leith's newest bar/restaurant? But I never told you about going out to dinner, did I? Or my new GAP jacket?

    I just had to get one, as the previous offering simply wasn't good enough to be with my pal Babs. Too orange. And - frankly, darlings - a little too tight these days. "I refuse to wear anything with the letters G A P across the front," I said to her, firmly. But it didn't have to be.

    We looked at one rail of gents' jackets. Babs liked them, but I thought they were a bit old-mannish. "Are there any more men's jackets?" she asked an assistant. They comprised three girls and a lad, all wearing Madonna headsets, and looking about to burst into song. "I don't know," one of the girls replied, walking vaguely about the place. "Here!" she said proudly, eventually having found some.

    "Hey, wait a minute!" I hissed, when the girl immediately abandoned us. "She works here - isn't she supposed to have some idea about the stock? Or maybe help us choose?"

    "Oh - it's not that kind of shop," B replied, calmly. So we selected an olive-coloured hooded creation with slip-in pockets, which my glasses promptly slipped out of. But I feel that young and trendy! (And not a G, or A, or P to be seen!)

    Coming tomorrow! Peter (aged six) watches The Coronation at last. Mam has a ball with the new telly!

    And you say? (11)   Link to this