Duncan of Welshcake has a clutch of newpaper reports on Saturday's (Gay) Pride event in Hyde Park. These are unusual this year.
Specifically they mention the Police and the Foreign Office seeking to recruit gay people.
How times have changed - for the better.
And yet... and yet...
We're really not getting anywhere very much if all we can see of ourselves is another's point of view - now are we? Throughout history the police in particular have caused immense harm to our people. Immeasurable. So just how grateful are we now meant to feel that a few bent cops are allowed to march in their uniforms? How far does that undo the centuries of persecution and cruelty?
And the Foreign Office, reputed to have driven young gay men to suicide with their draconian "positive vetting". How now can we say.... "Ooo yes, I'll work in your bona office, and I'll jet round the world at the tax-payer's expense - a boyfriend in every trouble-spot?" How very Mandelsonian.
And Scottish and Newcastle apparently sponsored the event. So they damn well should the amount of bevvy that queens sink every week. No gratitude there from this old lush. Nantoise.
No. The reports I read, while seeming to show progress, in fact demonstrate a people still insecure and still looking for daddy's approval. Remember that the two greatest gay men in my lifetime sought no such from anyone. They just got on with being who they are, as in truth there was no alternative.
I was saying just last week how boring I've become. Oh - not here, sweeties... here I can make it up gild the lily a bit. But no, it's true. Don't smoke. Drink only in safe limits. Don't take recreationals. Don't have sex. Were Mrs Whitehouse's job up for grabs I'd be the prime candidate.
"And to think that only ten years ago I was a... "
"Slut!" Babs finished for me.
"No, I was thinking more junkie," I mused. "The slut period had pretty much ended by then."
"Oh, you were never a junkie," she said.
Well, that's OK then.
Good health creeps up on you insidiously, like a cult. At first it's all laughs and good times, as you constantly wake up feeling alive, and then when you peep in the mirror you look your age, instead of twice it.
Three cups of coffee and you're flying, instead of the four or five cups and ten cigarettes it used to take. And at the end of a day's work you can stay awake till midnight, watching the telly, rather than slipping into a coma around ten thirty.
I don't even overeat any more. What's going on?
I see one or two of you mentioning the Big Brother winner coming out with some anti-gay sentiments. Me, I didn't watch the series. (Life has so many fascinating people I don't need fake "friends".) But you must take Orkney into account.
The north of Scotland is bizarre almost beyond belief when it comes to religion and morality. Trust me. I've been there lots. So don't let the pretty scenery confuse you. Loch Ness hasn't got the only monster. And don't expect London mores where they simply don't apply. If you don't like it, keep away. Satan gets plenty of airtime. Loads.
Pride in The Park?
Dave writes about Gay Pride in Hyde Park in London Calling. Shame it rained on your parade. Darren enjoyed having fun with his community.
I used to see all this as a community, but not now. No longer. Sometimes you never notice what club you're actually in until they shove you out of it. The "gay community", if it exists at all, is solely for the still-fuckable. Pass that stage and you're deader than a doornail, chum. They won't even give you the time of day. Literally!!
Oh - I've long had time to get used to it now. No worries. I just avoid gay men as much as possible. (Apart from a couple.)
Scaryduck writes with passion and clarity today about Bush and Blair. I think his piece would echo the feelings of many, just that he's rather more articulate than most.
Scott Nowson is doing a PhD involving blogs at Edinburgh University. Honestly. You can read about it here, and assist him in his research if you wish.
Remember all those ancient sweets? Flying Saucers? Sherbert Fountains?? SPANGLES!!!? Wonder what on earth happened to them all?
Well, wonder no longer. Pop along to A Quarter Of, and find out the sugary facts. (And buy the sweets too if you want.)
"The vast majority of blogs are narcissistic and opinionated rants..." Of course they are! That's what makes them such fun. (And that's what fills about half of most daily papers, by the way.) Print isn't quite dead yet, but it's heading that way - until they can hire writers as good as the leading UK bloggers.
It's a reasonable article, but more interesting really for the (mostly negative) comments. (We're under a nome de net, of course.)
One or two supremely lucky individuals manage to do their narcissistic and opinionated rants blogging in print, however, and get paid fabulously for it, and the queen of them all is Julie Burchill.
Read her here with a typical kaleidoscope, (featuring, as so often, "the wretched Mrs Ritchie") and here about her beloved Brighton.
It's official. In 90 minutes it'll be three weeks since last I smoked. "Are we going to get this every damn Friday?" I can hear you ask. And the answer is no. This will be the last time.
It's just that after three weeks free from cigarettes your little nicotine monster is officially dead. According to the divine Allen Carr. Not one molecule of that foul pharmaceutical is left in my ravaged cells. To smoke now would be wanton destruction. So I'm just not going to do it.
John Macaulay was banging on about cigs a couple of days ago. "I started smoking when I was 31 and stopped at 37!" he declared, proudly. "Honey that's nothing," I countered. "I started when I was nine and stopped at fifty-six. Take That." For once his gob was smacked. "Well done," said Yorkshire Kriss, as he lit a Lambert and Butler.
"I don't know what women see in Kriss," Bernice said, after he'd gone. "We do," I chorused with the other gay Peter. (Oh yes there is one :) "He's just such a minger," Bernice opined then. "You've got to see through the ming to the man underneath," I counselled her. Peter (other) nodded in agreement.
Prudence and Fiscal Restraint
Well - this might not have been the easiest of weeks, blogwise, but irl has been a kaleidoscope of shopping and lunching, girls! I must have spent my cigarette-savings five times over!!
So guess what happened when I went to the bank machine to get drink vouchers for me and Kevin the shop-girl yesterday? Yes... those tacky, irritating little words insufficient funds. I'd not seen them for so long I'd quite forgotten how to spell the expression. But alles ist in ordnung, as they say in the Fatherland. Today the wages from the day-job go in, so we're in brown bread for a little while longer. I just hate being a wage slave like that. Especially when you work in gambling, and the wages of sin is death.
Times like this a girl needs a rich husband. Or - at my time of life - a realistic divorce settlement.
Oh dearie me. This is not a good idea. Barbara walked out. Calum (aged 10) awarded it only 6 out of 10. Me, I couldn't believe how awful the monster effect was. (I truly hate computer imaging. Call me old-fashioned.)
Take The (Cronenberg) Fly, mix with King Kong, Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Stir in some Forbidden Planet electro-monster, and listen along to the Alien sound track. Take acting from the forest school, (apart from possibly Sam Elliot), cgi for dummies, leaps like Lara Croft and what have you got?
A fucking fortune, that's what. It's a movie. It's a game. It's merchandise. It's all set up for a sequel. It's even a green roller-coaster! (But it's still a load of shite.)
Where I really think I'm not wrong, however, is in my reaction to a post last week on a site in the south of England. Human genetics is one of the most sensitive subjects on the planet, and people make comment at their peril. Riots have started over visiting professors with racially-sensitive views. Millions were put to death only last century in pursuit of a mythical "master-race". A whole department of Human Fertilization and Embryology exists to prevent any "Frankensteination" of the species, in the way has been done with show dogs. And the largest Christian church in the world expressly forbids any interference with natural procreation. We are created in the image of God. Every one of us.
So STFU one or two of you, and let me distance myself from those odious views on "genetic dilution" (sic) arising elsewhere. If people want to write "master race" stuff on their pages that's up to them. I see no obligation on me to discuss my abhorrence of this, nor to give any reason for de-linking the said page. Any reasonable person would do the same.
Those who're good at compiling lists should stick to doing that. Leave human life to those who've done a bit of it.
The funniest part of the day was the varifocal lens demonstration in which the whole world went on an acid trip before my very ogles, but let's not get out of order!!
It started in the bus going up Leith Walk with Dean. "Wobble, Wobble" went my mobile. It was a text from Babs. "I'm bored," she wrote. "Why don't we go to Hulk today instead of tomorrow?"
"No can do, honey," I quickly replied, while simultaneously chatting to Dean about his weekend at Pride march and watching the world slip by the bus windows. "Off to do some serious shopping. Catch you later."
At Boots Opticians they were ecstatic over my broken specs, although trying not to show it. Business, you see. "When did you last get your eyes tested?" asked Eileen, the department manager. "About five years ago," I answered. Then, "Do you get to boss the opticians about?" I demanded.
Aged about 45, Eileen had just a hint of Weegie in her voice - enough to be managerial, yet without sounding common like Lulu. I warmed to her. She fitted me in for an eye-test in three hours' time, then Dean and I headed straight for the "frame bar", where we eventually settled on Moschino.
"They're a bit Edna Everage," Dean opined, but I felt he was over-reacting. "No, they're unusual enough to make a small statement," I corrected him. Oh we dallied with all the great names, even the Vivienne Westwood, which were gilt with rose-tinted lenses. Quite awesome, were one a web designer or writer, rather than merely a bingo worker.
Lunch (my treat for the fashion advice) at the Hogs Head in Frederick Street (?) was a bit of a let-down. Dean had Caesar salad, and I plumped for potato wedges with tomato and salsa dip - which sound fine in theory, but were a bit of a let-down in practice. Well - the tatties were almost as old as I am, and the dip had about as much fire. I guess I'm a bit spoiled by Babs' cooking at The Village! But the bar staff were very easy on the eyes. Looked like they could handle themselves. "Not like us at the Village!" Dean laughed. He works there too. Intermittently.
So he split to go to his dentist at the Western General, and I had two hours to fill now. And what finer thing than to mingle with the tourists a bit! The Grassmarket was full of students drawing. That must be the most-drawn street in the world. Comes from having an art college so close, I guess. Wonder if the lecturers get up to a bit of illicit nookie after they send their charges out to draw. Or maybe a puff or two on a dodgy cig. For inspiration.
Decided to get shoes. Barratts and Clarks in Princes Street both had sales on, but were something like a football crowd inside. Shite service, nowhere to try anything on, and assistants with "don't even think about it" written all over their young faces. Ghastly.
Russell and Bromley now were a different kettle of fish. No less than three members of staff greeted me as I entered, and the shoes were just to die for. At a price. But at a price the newly non-smoking me can easily afford! To Next then, and exactly what I needed. Unusual enough to make a small statement, and only 45 squid.
Oh, this is going on a bit today... is anyone still reading? I could fill three screens with my eye test, and how healthy my eyes are, and how you can see the reflection of your retina when she's looking in it (just like a veiny cabbage leaf), and the delightful David who dispensed my Diesels, and the way the table we were sitting at swayed all over the place when he showed me how varifocals work.
"Oooo it's just like being on a trip," I declared. David, (about 24), sat impassively. "But I don't imagine a healthy young man like you knows what that is!" I laughed, anachronistically. Drugs are just so last century. Diesel is now. Diesel and Next.
Later, in the Port, three queenlings trouped in and all of them stroked Yorkshire Kriss. One of them even kissed him. "You seem very attractive to homosexuals today," Big Robert observed, drily.
"You're a Gay Icon, Kriss," I told him. "Since I put you in Naked Blog you've become a Gay Icon." Time passed.
Sandy the seaman was there. "I'm not a sailor, I'm a seaman," he pointed out, explaining the difference. He said he was a bit hurt he'd never been Hunk of the Week. I said there's still time.
MASS DESTRUCTION FOR DUMMIES
The battle engages! Lyle of Destruction For Dummies has had his site taken down by Easyspace! But he's got another one here. Suddenly it's getting interesting again.
Yesterday's intended shoe-buying frenzy was cut short for a couple of reasons. One was the weather, which was inclement. Lovely word that, inclement. It's just so not clement!
And the second was the lack of useful shoe shops in the vicinity. In the schemie-twat Kirkgate shopping-centre (remember those?) there are the usual fifteen quid "cardboard and glue" emporia. Yet in the oh-so-posh Ocean Terminal Mall overlooking the gasworks there seems only to be Schuh, with its fifty-hole purple boots and fifty other such ways to rip off the immature and gullible.
"I'm sure they put artificial smell into this shop," I observed to Dean when we first went in. "No darling - it's just you're not used to the smell of real leather," he replied. I like Dean. Younger version of myself.
And you know you're old when you start looking for a happy medium. Shop, I'm talking about - not friends! Happy media never were our thing in that regard. Nantoise.
But no - what changed my mind yesterday was the end of the road for my specs. The left lens fell out, just like that. The frame came apart where the leg (or is it arm?) joins on. Ah well - hated them anyway. Much too old-fashioned. Far too Open University. Even a touch of David Kelly, if it's not too tasteless to observe that.
So it's sayonara Boots Ribble - and what will today bring instead? I'll take Dean along, of course. I'm thinking varifocal, although they say they take a lot of getting used to.
Here is the News
There's something quite unearthly about the BBC News at the moment, what with themselves being the prime story. It's like a snake-headed hydra, with all the snakes feeding off each other in a scooped-up deadline frenzy.
Quick background for my hundreds of overseas readers: Dr David Kelly was a civil servant employed in the Ministry of Defence. He allegedly spoke to BBC journalists about a government dossier, although press-relations were not part of his job. Then he equally allegedly commited suicide. He is, however, unequivocally dead.
It's this weeks's top story, seamlessly slipping in after Shevaun Pennington and Toby Studabaker last week. News abhors a vacuum.
So - for the first time I can reasonably remember, you have to watch ITN or Channel 4 News in order to get a scooby about what's going on. Understandably the BBC are hardly going to sit there and say, "It was us wot done it. Us wot killed the guy." Understandably.
But there have been some tasty morsels over the days...
"And what about the role of the BBC in all this?" (Peter Sissons to Andrew Marr on Sunday Breakfast. Each of them paid astronomical sums by that very BBC they're just never in one million years going to criticise.)
"The Murdoch-backed press have been savage in their treatment of the BBC." (Natasha Kaplinsky to Michael Brunson - former political editor of ITN.)
But my favourite had to be last night...
"We invited the BBC to take part, but they declined." (Gavin Esler on - wait for it - BBC Newsnight! Talk about keeping your distance!)
PS Interesting Google-Watch fact. If you go to google.co.uk and search for Michael Brunson, the highest result is a link to his agent. This is the first case I've seen of a paid-for placing. (Assumably.)
The David Kelly story rumbles on. (I tend to reserve the Doctor title for medical doctors as a mark of respect, yet - perversely - medical doctors usually aren't. Doctors, I mean.)
As is often the case here on your free Naked Blog, I've done zero research, and thought about the matter for exactly long enough to write a piece which will generate a few comments. This usually means about 10 comments and five minutes. We shall see. I won't cry, in any case.
Dr Kelly and I were very similar in age, dress sense, spectacles and probably intellect. Where we differed is in apparent wealth. He lived in a somewhat more expensive home than do I. This would indicate that he had made, until recently at least, much more of a success of his life.
Yet I sense, had he done some time working in a bingo hall, that he would be alive today. That he wouldn't have caved in to a bunch of loud-mouthed MP's who were in seventh heaven having someone of some decency to taunt and publicly belittle. But Simon Hoggart writes quite differently, and he was there.
Whether or not it was part of Dr Kelly's job to act as press secretary for the government and the MOD I don't know. I suspect not. I suspect he went way beyond his well-paid and comfortable Civil Servant's career in "briefing" (aka grassing) journalists in the way he seems to have done.
And when the sultans of soundbite broke through to his sheltered cloisters, he said he "didn't want to live in a world like this". Or summat. Or maybe they killed him.
O tempora, o mores. Just half a century ago, Alan Turing topped himself over a bit of rough trade. Nowadays MPs install their rentboy lovers into jobs in the House of Commons.
The observant reader might have noticed a bit of diminution in this organ recently. Why should that be? Because it's less important to me these days. Whereas I once was a little proud of NB and the interest it seemed to attract, all else now is secondary to my main raison d'etre. Which is freedom from cigarettes.
Stopping smoking this month means more to me than probably anything I've ever done. It's that important. Ex-smokers rock! Any damn fool can write a best-selling weblog. Or be a civil servant.
Today I'm investing some of my tobacco savings in a nice pair of comfortable shoes. I love shoes, me. Now I know most of you reading this work on your bottoms, and nothing wrong with that - but those who remain vertical for a living really get to love their plates.
There's something almost orgasmic about flopping down after work, untying those shoes, then literally peeling off the socks to reveal two lovely pink, moist, slightly steaming feet. In prime condition, I'm relieved to declare! And unlike hands, they never seem to age!
Last week we discussed bottoms, and moist toilet wipes. Today it's feet. Naked Blog - the one that stands up for neglected organs!! Why don't we make it Love Your Feet Week? Feet are just so under-valued.
What are we going to do about the For Dummies thing? It's kind of fizzled out.
In fifteen minutes I'll have completed exactly two weeks free from cigarettes. That is, two work periods and two rest periods. (I'm lucky in that I don't have to work very much!) So far, so not really that hard. Oh, I've seen a couple of attractive people smoking, and thought, "that would be nice". But, let's face it, no amount of cigs are gonna make me into Brad Pitt. Maybe June Brown...
This has not been achieved in a spirit of total good will and universal bonhomie, however. No - there's been much verbal lashing out. And even some written. Just what do you do when someone writes opinions on their own site that you find yourself in disagreement with? Serious disagreement, I mean - we're not talking wallpaper patterns. So serious that you know you have to sever future communication with that person - even though they've meant no harm to yourself.
It's a thorny thing, and has cost me much sleep this week - and I guess my solution wasn't in the end ideal. But moving hand, etc. Made me want to smoke a bit.
Had We Ne'er
And then Darren writes about the end of his relationship today, and that made me want to smoke a bit more. Except that me poisoning my lungs wouldn't do Darren the slightest bit of good.
My heart goes out to you, D. The same thing happened to me at a similar age, and I was never able to love again. Pray that you don't suffer that too. Hugz.
OK, then - this is the story. Listen up. When I bought present comp, about three years ago, I made one serious error. Onboard sound. That is, a Yamaha chip. That isn't, a whole slew of games which demand Soundblaster.
Speechless. Literally. No Quake. No Quake 2. By the time they got to Quake 3 Arena they'd discovered DirectX, but Q3A is content free shite. (All right then... it's an online portal with pretty levels.)
Now, however, a company called Sold Out has acquired a bunch of retro titles, and is selling em at just £4.99. Three for the price of two at Virgin. But here's the best bit - they've brought them all up-to-date with revolutionary .NOW technology! Fully DirectX'ed and Shockwaved.
So what did I eagerly buy on Monday? Well I can tell you. It was Tomb Raider 2. (They didn't have number one.)
And what progress have I made? Very little. I've shot a tiger before it ate me. Swum a few strokes. Climbed onto a rocky ledge. And now I haven't a clue. Can't seem to get any further. Is there some sort of heli-pack that chick's got on her back? I'm really sick of that dingy cave.
The Guardian offers an authoritative account of the Pennington/Studabaker thing today, explaining the behind-the-scenes psychological profiling which was a constant feature of the search.
If Shevaun thinks her excellent adventure is over now, and it's back to her teddies, then I fear she may be wrong. She's the main (if not only) witness in the charges against Studabaker, and might well have to appear in German, French and English courts. While her peers will adore the girl probably indefinitely, most adults will be scared to be in the same room as her.
Hotter than hell. Must have been 25 degrees yesterday. South East England hit 30 and 31.
Not natural. Most distressing. Not a day for ecstasy.
The trick was to find a pub with a through draught, and then stick there, avoiding sunlit windows. Somehow I managed. And also managed a five mile walk.
Bussed back to Princes Street and decided to buy some shades. Gap didn't stock them. Frazers had loads, some well into three figures. Big pic of D Beckham Esq modelling Police. Stripped to the waist, but it was three hairdo's ago. Much too old-fashioned.
Settled on Debenhams. Ten quid flat rate. Plus there was a whopping 20 percent off for the summer sale.
"Do you like my new shades?" I demanded later, back in the Port. "Fabulous!" said Ina Recliner. "You look just like Mick Jagger." "How much do you think they cost?" I coyly enquired of him. "About four pounds," he exclaimed. Boy was my bubble pricked!
Kevin was there. Kevin works in a schemie shop in the schemie Kirkgate shopping centre. (Everything from Woolworths to Lidl.) Kevin had spent the day looking out from his shop at schemie youths all stripped to the waist. He was well chuffed. Juicy was on the other side of me, explaining that his real name (of Julian) was after Julian Lennon.
He seemed to think this connected him to Yoko Ono. I pointed out that Lennon Jr. was the issue of Lennon's first wife, whom I mistakenly called Olivia. Oops wrong Beatle. But Rex came to the rescue. It was Cynthia.
It occurred to me then that I must be of ages with Juicy's mum.
Whatever happened to Julian Lennon's singing career? Was he just a one-hit wonder? There was talk of re-forming the Beatles at one point, so much like papa did young J Lennon sound.
I bought some Andrex Moist Toilet Wipes. That means you can completely wash your bottom without actually touching it. Is this necessarily a good thing? Bottoms get such a bad press in any case. To leave them untouched as well as unloved seems to be asking for trouble. Organs have feelings too, you know. And they can strike back.
Today is overcast a bit, but it'll never last. High pressure centred on the North Sea is diverting all the fronts away from us. Nere at NB we love high pressure.
What exactly is high pressure, by the way? Does it mean the atmosphere is a bit taller at that place? Like a sort of stratospheric Mount Everest?
But there ain't no rainy days here, dudes! Oh no. Here in the UK we're having a like awesome summer, which means two sunny days in a row. You gotta love it. If this goes on I'm gonna have to get me a parasol to preserve my lily-white eek.
Only last week Sam was flashing his Ibiza-tanned arms around the place, so I pressed my own up against his, for contrast. Ebony and ivory. "How unhealthy am I?" I kept demanding, but I don't think he realised it was a pisstake. No wonder I've so few friends.
Today I sense a river walk, and re-learning the digital camera.
This week we've actually got to *do* something about Wiley Publishing.
Why is Six Feet Under so glorious, and who(m) should I fancy most?
Hasn't Will and Grace lost the plot a bit?
Yesterday at work I liked a Madonna song. It was that one that goes mmmmmm mm-mm mmmmmm a lot. Missed the title completely, though. I think it was an extended version, like I used to make up myself with Blondie songs and C90's.
Totally boring post below, about sex and Christianity and clergy and stuff. Yawn.
HUMANAE VITAE FOR DUMMIES
Issues of Human Sexuality
So much heat and little light have been generated over the "gay clergy" issue, that it's time to insert my two penn'orth. But it's a glorious day outside, and I don't want to sit here a moment longer than necessary on such a trivial topic. (The sun plays a much greater role in my life than does the life of Jesus.) And the sun shines down on everyone - saint and sinner alike. I'll restrict myself to the Anglo-Catholic position, as I understand it.
Marriage is a Sacrament, called Holy Matrimony.
Sex between married people is good and holy.
Any other sexual acts or even thoughts are sinful and bad.
Roman Catholics may only have sex which could lead to conception. All else is sinful. Not sure of the situation vis-a-vis "foreplay" as it used to be called.
Same-sex acts clearly don't come into the "married" category, and are therefore sinful.
Whether they are "more sinful" than unmarried hetero sex (fornication) is beyond my level of wisdom.
Unlike almost all of you reading this, I can vividly remember when a man and woman living together was called "living in sin".
The extent that society no longer thinks this way demonstrates that the Christian Church is no longer the custodian and arbiter of modern life.
Confession and repentance are the foundations of Christianity.
Canon John has not repented his former immoral life.
Many countries offer civil marriage, a legal but non-religious entity, to qualifying men and women.
My own view is that for gay people to seek a career in the Church is frankly silly, and I don't find it easy to be sympathetic. Why don't they take up something more manly, like this?
Well, what a roller-coaster of a week this has been. Do remind me to stop smoking more often! (Just kidding - this is it for ever and ever.)
What my new, complete freedom from nicotine has shown more than anything else is just what absolute twats other people are. And as for me - I've been dodging around the place with the attitude of, "I've got a drink in me, I don't smoke, and I'll say whatever the heck I want to."
The nicotine shuts you up, when you're drinking, you see. Makes you more tolerant of assholes. That's why people practically chainsmoke when they're boozing. But when you take the cigs away all hell can break loose. Take Andy, a few days ago...
"I've just been to the doctor and he's given me some time off," Andy said to me at the bar. "Yeah?" I managed, sensing what was coming. "Yes - I'm just at my wit's end. Something's got to give." "Really?" I replied, trying to contain my indifference. "And then there's my alcohol problem," he pressed on.
"Listen, Andy!" I snapped at him. "I'll tell you about your alcohol problem!! Your alcohol problem is that you stand there telling me all about it when I neither asked to hear it nor showed the slightest interest in it." He backed away, startled. This was not the Peter he knows. My eyes were blazing now.
"I'm not a doctor. I'm not a care worker. I don't give a shit about your alcohol problem, as frankly I've got more than enough problems of my own." He looked on the point of tears. "So - why don't we talk about something else?" I offered as an olive branch.
We chatted about Tony Blair and Weapons of Mass Destruction. Much more suitable.
Nasty, arrogant, uncaring sod? Or a fair attempt to self-protect? (Remember that (a) I'm in nicotine-withdrawal and (b) this man has told me all of his problems many, many times already.)
You could ask Barbara, of course. On Wednesday she threatened to take me outside the pub and punch hell out of me. For being nippy. Eh bah gum. We don't have much money, but we do see life.
That's me, in cigarette-withdrawal. And I'm loving it.
Irritations? Swat them like flies. Boring people? Just say no. Other people's children and animals? Kindly but firmly extricate yourself and move elsewhere. Everyone's giving me loads and loads of leeway. Thank you. Or maybe it's rope to hang myself with.
(The beauty of the Allen Carr method is that you're specifically instructed to sacrifice nothing.) Keep partying, says Allen, and keep mixing with smokers. Now I even light their cigs for them. Nothing to it.
Taste is awesome. Taste would keep me cig-free more than any other thing. (Not that the matter is even remotely in doubt!) On Monday I ordered Barbara's warm goat's cheese and nut salad. But for you, dear gourmet reader, I'm afraid my vocabulary simply isn't up to it - as a flake of cheese gave way to a hazelnut or pistachio, which in turn acquiesced to a leaf of iceberg lettuce.
Some things can't be written, like a freshly-made salad for the new non-smoker, or a city-dweller's first starry night. Not by me, at least.
BUTCH AS FUCK
But some things can! Give me a human relation, and I'll quickly give you back an episode of Constitution Street. There was Bernice, yesterday, worried that her new beau might turn up without a condom to his name. "They don't have condom machines in women's toilets!" she wailed. "Don't you worry, honey," I counselled. "I'll get you some." She gave me two pounds. I went on the hunt.
Well, you could have knocked me dahn wiv a fevver, when I saw who else was in the gents. It was Andy, latest bf of Lysistrata. This man is serious talent, girls. We're not so much talking weak at the knees as collapsed on the spot. Oh. My. God. And they say he would kill you as soon as look at you. My. Oh. My. I'm even taking a slight personal risk writing this. Heavens. To. Betsy.
We chatted, as real men do. Andy was at the first of three pissoirs, while I chose the closet, but with the door open. My gentlemen readers will know exactly of what I speak. Piss, piss, chat, chat. I can't remember much of the topics.
But what I do remember was slipping Bernice's coins into the condo machine, then butchly pulling the knob on the front and extracting the packet feigning nary a glance - while Andyhunk was as close to me as you are now and watching every move. It was an intensely man2man experience - for me only, I'm sure.
Outside, Bernice was a bit less than ecstatic. "Only two!" she declared. "And I didn't want flavoured!"
"Tough, darling!" I retorted. "You're getting two shags for two quid, plus yer fanny'll smell of oranges for days!" We laughed. Time passed. Must phone her and see how she got on.
Yes, it's true! Midsummer madness hits the copyright offices once again!
Remember Free Davezilla? (Toho, the creators of Godzilla, versus David Linabury (Davezilla))
That one ran and ran. We joined in the fun. As Nakedzilla.
Well, now the evil eye of the copyright lawyers is gazing on targets much nearer home. Who do I mean? I mean the very lovely Lyle, creator of the trade-mark Destruction For Dummies.
And who is after his balls? It's the greedy and acquisitive (sue me) Wiley Publishing, of New York or somewhere - in the following terms...
"You may be unaware that use of the phrase “For Dummies” or a similar formative of this phrase as a domain name infringes and dilutes our famous trademarks, and such use is not permitted under federal trademark laws.
In order to fully protect its valuable trademarks, Wiley unfortunately cannot allow use of the domain name, destruction-for-dummies.co.uk, for a web site. Our initial review of this site indicates it is active and includes the For Dummies? trademark in the title of the page. Wiley requests that you discontinue using the domain name destruction-for-dummies.co.uk, and remove all references to FOR DUMMIES from your site."
Well! You could have knocked me down with a feather!!
How can I help?
In various ways. Do you think that a book-publishing company has the right to claim global ownership of the common English-language words for dummies?
If not, then I want you to DUMMIFY your page!
Email me when you've done that, and I'll put your site on Naked Blog For Dummies.
Also we need a logo and slogan! Votes for Women! Workers Unite! No taxation without representation!
And to mike of troubled diva who recommended the proprietary quitmeter, which might have been fun. (My - what dotcom friends we do have here. None of yer minimum-wage trash in sight.)
It's just that on Naked Blog we go for bespoke wherever possible. (That's why our comments always work, unlike many others I could name.)
Right then, that's quite enough sitting at this desk. Four hours this morning, and hardly a thought about smoking - despite swollen buccal and glossal tissue. (That's mouth and tongue to you, dork.) The withdrawals from this filthy, poisonous habit have been hilarious at times - but never even once painful. Talk about another planet!
Off to The Village now - to eat, drink, chat and not smoke. Yippee!! Have fun in your offices!!
(The first ever smoke-free post. Please indulge me.)
By the probable time you read this, I'll have been free from cigarettes for two whole days. Not a lifetime, nor will it ever be, but every good thing has to start somewhere.
Until last night, the verdict was one hundred percent successful. There's what's called a "honeymoon period" at the start of any detox regime, and I was loving it. Still am, in fact. Even more (sincerely) cheerful than (insincerely) usual with the customers. Efficient and non-withdrawing in the calling shifts. Nirvana through bingo.
Last night's session was less than ideal, though. Pretty shitty. I've told the workmates about my new freedom from cigarettes, and naturally they're a bit envious. Last night it seemed they were conspiring to unnerve me, big-time, as one mishap followed another throughout the performance. Paranoid, moi?
But we prevailed. Still free. Never seriously occurred to me to smoke, even afterwards. As Allen Carr points out, a cigarette doesn't make a bad situation better, it just adds a bit of poison to it. Or summat like that.
Now, at this point I sense some slight wonderment in you. You're wondering why such a cynical, bitter almost, satirical ironist should be putting himself so thoroughly in the hands of a total stranger. Why I don't take one look at his stop-smoking book and laugh it off the shelf - as I could so easily do. Well, I can tell you.
Breaking free from cigarettes is the single most important thing I should do now - far more important than any material or everyday concern.
His method has a significant track record.
It's very simple - which also means easy to do wrongly. Constant revision and checking.
I'm totally enjoying my new freedom, which is something he promises will happen.
Sometimes it's nice to hold some certainty, rather than always be questioning.
He writes about his hatred of cigarettes with a genuine passion.
I understand now why cutting down and using nicotine gum was much harder to do than simply breaking free.
I have nothing to lose.
And the world to gain.
At some stage soon we'll restart blogging about other matters.
Sorry to say it, but freedom from smoking is even more important than Naked Blog! Bet you never thought you'd read anything like that!!
A second chance to see...
OK then - twist my arm. I can't just bang on about the most important thing in my life right now, and expect every one of you to share my fascination. Neither can I sit here cig-less and create the globally definitive post. It's clearly an archive moment.
Background to the title: Queens have a propensity for awarding each other camp names - almost always of the opposite sex. Living in London in the sixties, I lost count of how many Mary, Queen of Scots there were. (I even fell for one, but that's a whole other story.) And Shirleys. And Dianas. (That's Ross, not Spencer. Do pay attention.)
Later, as the queen garners wrinkles and waistband, the names change a bit. You start to hear things like Bet and Dot and even - for the would-be glamorous - Patsy. These are never look-alikes. Oh no. It's all to do with tragedy. Show me a queen who doesn't think that deep down she's the most put-on in the world, and I'll show you someone who isn't very imaginative.
For myself, however, the favourite appellation comes in the following...
MISS MARPLE GOES SHOPPING (June, 2001)
Fun and games yesterday with a Switch card. My employers pay quite a generous Dress Allowance, so every now and then they can reasonably expect some new Dress. But buying clothes is even scarier than the dentist - all that staring at mirrors and wondering when it all went wrong.
However, like laundry and showering, it has to be done. Yesterday I'd had just enough beer to feel confident yet not bloated, so off I trotted to Capital Menswear. No good. Mile after mile of funeral and bank-wear.
Then to Frasers, on foot, right across the New Town, which is Edinburgh's own Mayfair. Groc (sidebar) describes Edinburgh as being "up north", but it isn't. Up north finishes at Newcastle or Carlisle. After that comes a whole new ball-game, of which one lives in the capital. The city is awash with style and culture and modish trends. Just not where I am standing.
The sun bore down hard, as manfully I strode through these huge, money-dripping Georgian terraces, thinking of what might have been. What could have happened if I'd planned my life even a little, instead of being so hormone-driven. But then an achingly handsome skinhead overtook me on a slope, and I knew I'd taken the only possible course. He was about thirty - tall and lean, with a dyed-blonde skunk stripe surrounded by scalp tattoos I didn't have time to read. His ears hung heavy with metal, and not only did he have a thick bull-ring through his nose, but one between his eyebrows as well. His clothes were semi-sensible, and his shoes brown walking boots, but you felt there would be much wilder gear in his closet.
Wow! Where were we? Oh yeah. Frasers was shite, and the service as well, so off to good old Marks and the handsome young Lee, who easily teased twice as much out of me as I'd intended. Then to the Village, also awash with testosterone. Lots of compliments about my choices. Must get thinner. Never been this fat. Does it ever stop? Dare I start cycling again? Two days to the solstice!!
My, what short stories we did back then! Nowadays that would have covered three screens.
Well, I wasn't wrong yesterday, was I? Twenty-three degrees, official, making Edinburgh the hottest spot in the UK. You gotta love it. But today it's back to work again. I'd hate you to get the impression that we're remotely workshy in these parts.
Stuart got off his train at the stroke of High Noon (1pm, BST). Very filmatic. So we trotted to Rose Street to start the alcoholic process. Oh, lunch was mentioned, as a respectable, middle-class thing to mention, but after the first pint it was put on hold of course. It's drinking we've done throughout our friendship, not eating.
We sat outside this pub, dodging hanging baskets of flowers, and quaffing Stella and smoking. All around were American tourists, to whom cigarettes doubtless look akin to used hypodermics. Mentally I dared them to comment. "Hey buddy - this is Scaatland, not California!" I would have retorted. But no-one spoke. Maybe they get trained in the ways of Europe before they board the plane. When in Rome, smoke your bleeding head off.
Talent was everywhere, springing up like daisies in the grass. Thank God they've abandoned those awful, schemie baseball caps now, and you can actually see what you're (not) getting. Technicolor dreamboats.
To Baroque for some (solid) lunch. Stuart chose home-made beefburger with seasoned chips, which I would say were more like wedges. Still had the skin on. Me, I plumped for the Caesar salad again. With chicken. Still searching for the perfect Casesar salad. It's so minimalist. This one had a touch too much sauce, which blotted out the taste of the lettuce somewhat. Also I really do prefer the crouton hot, or at least warm. What an old fusspot!
Stuart told me about his recently-widowed mother, whom he now lives with. He's got her out of black, and into colours again. Plus she's going out of the house more, and even back to her belly-dancing class. These things are good.
To the Village, for a family reunion with Gwen, his favourite niece and my recent radio-colleague. And that is where I left him to pursue his slide into alcoholic oblivion. He deserved it after all those weeks of near-abstaining. I only hope his hormones wouldn't lead him into trouble, as they've sometimes been known to do. Time passed, separately.
Yep! Went and gone and done it. To Princes Street and surroundings yesterday. Did a bit of shopping, and dined al fresco. (That means - ate a battered chipsteak in the street.)
Do you have chipsteaks in England or N America? They're quite a staple here. There's a sweeter version called king rib but they both boil down to the same idea. Ground meat "products" (hooves, eyelids, lips, etc.) shaped into a steak-like thing, then dipped in batter and deep-fried. Delicious with chips also, but I declined those on grounds of digital greasiness.
Thus fortified I went in pursuit of my main objective, Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking. At just £7.99 it's clearly less than two packs of cigs, so what was there really to lose? I know of three people who've used it successfully. And the good thing about it is that you have to continue smoking until you've finished the book. (Although Mr Carr does confess that some people just read it one line at a time in order to delay finishing as long as possible.)
I've now read all but the last chapter (for the reason just above), and have some fair idea of his method. It's cold turkey with attitude, and the attitude is that you're not "giving up" anything, but "getting free from". Achieving freedom. And he claims the pangs are enjoyable when you look at it that way.
He has an interesting concept of the "little nicotine monster" which lives in every smoker's stomach (sic). The monster (not you) is responsible for any bad shit that happens. All you have to do is bask in the knowledge that by not smoking you're killing it off. And after three weeks it's dead as a doornail.
All well and good, Mr Carr, but I dimly remember doing something very similar to that in the past already. It was so easy and enjoyable to stop that I started again after a couple of weeks. We shall see. Nothing to lose but my lungs and bronchial tubes.
Cigarettes have been a big part of my life since conception. My mother smoked eagerly throughout the pregnancy, and when I was born, on New Year's Evening, the room was quickly filled with drinking (and smoking) revellers offering congratulations and a cigarette habit. The first time I took a "proper" draw, at nine years old, it was nothing less than a "womb experience". I'm not kidding. What should have been novel was actually a familiar sensation.
Well, as you can guess, that quickly caught on, and I spent the rest of my developing years smoking whenever and wherever I could. By fourteen I was getting the full range of withdrawal and relief which Mr Carr describes so well.
Unfortunately, along with the cigarette habit, my parents also gave the constant mantra that, once started, smoking was impossible to stop. Not difficult - impossible.
It's tricky, even now surrounded by reasonably happy ex-smokers, to shake off that youthful conditioning.
Oh, I've tried the lot. Hypnosis was the easiest, and worked wonders for exactly one week, when I went back for the "booster" session and restarted that very evening. An attack of pneumonia many years ago stopped me for eleven days, until I chanced upon an occasional "partner" who smoked and well you can guess what happened next.
Even transcendental meditation, which cures everyone of everything (eventually, allegedly) had only about a week's success smoking-wise, although it's been marvellous in many other respects.
So where are we now? I'd made the rational decision that stopping smoking simply wasn't an option. So I would limit the damage by smoking as little as possible and use nicotine gum to fill the gaps. This has been variably successful for a couple of years, but Mr Carr dismisses both cutting down and nicotine replacement. The only way is to kill that nicotine monster. For good. We shall see.
SWAN SONG - A NATURAL TRAGEDY
(You should first read Swan Song, two posts below this.)
After first publishing this piece, back in 1999 I think it was, Darren and Deirdre Swann became even more celebrated than before. Year after year groups would turn up to feed them and watch the reproductive cycle in action. Birds and bees, without of course the bees.
And regularly you would hear in the surrounding pubs, "I see Darren and Deirdre have got x amount of cygnets this time!" They were, in bird terms, the very Posh and Becks of the neighbourhood.
Until this... (Readers of a nervous disposition should not read on.)
TOOTH BEAK AND CLAW
Although Leith stands on the River Forth, of painting the bridge fame, there is another, much smaller river passing through its heart, called the Water of Leith. In its lower stretches it's now quite posh but still is home to jaikies (drinking gents), working girls, and their clients. In some parts you can't even take a discreet piss without treading on a bunch of used condoms.
Rather more pleasantly, it also houses (or did) a locally-famous pair of swans which we named Darren and Deirdre in one of our earliest stories for you. Darren and Deirdre have featured in Edinburgh's evening paper, in election material, and there's even a pub named "The Black Swan". (Wrong colour, but right idea.) Year after year they nested in the same spot - the jaikies keeping watch over their Carlsberg and chats - and the annual hatching was a feast of accessible wildlife for all to enjoy.
Last week Robin (don't call me bisexual, I'm a screaming queen now), and I decided to take a look at this year's nest. "But it's not Darren and Deirdre any more," Robin said. "Some other swans chased them away." Only yesterday did I learn the full, awful, story - from a lady of a certain age with bird-food and a moustache.
"It was rogue swans," she told me, urgently. "They came from further up the river and chased the first couple away. They cornered the male and attacked him. People were phoning the swan centres and the paper and the police and everything, but nobody came. Its neck was all hanging and it couldn't lift it. It was terrible, I was that upset."
"And what about the female?" I asked, horrified. "Oh, she would go away to die," my swan lady said. "Swans mate for life, you know."
Awful. We can't feel good about the new residents. But that's human. And swans are jest not human.
And I bet you thought such pretty birds were totally lovey-dovey.
Two in a row!
Yes, it's true! My long-lost friend Stuart is coming to town today, and I'm to meet him at Waverley Station and spend a day just hanging. My cup runneth over! More saucy revelations tomorrow!
(A whooshing cyber-breath that sounds remarkably like 'thank god'.)
No. This cycle of blog, drink/chat, watch telly, sleep, da capo has got to stop.
It's getting me nowhere.
Cue existential debate over the difference between nowhere and somewhere, existentially speaking...
Now I've reached the bottom of the typing box, and there's still no effing scrollbar. What's with these guys?
Today I'm going to Edinburgh. OK - it's only two miles away, but when you go there so rarely, that's as much of a change as Barcelona would be. Almost.
Next week's camping holiday has hit the skids, because of sudden work commitments of my companions. Or maybe it's because I snore/smell. I'm very disappointed.
However, my life is a perpetual semi-holiday anyway. The days of wage-slavery are past. They did me head in. How sadly I read you all still suffering. Matrix Reloaded. Trinity naked.
I'll visit Boots Opticians in Princes Street and get a new nose-clip for my glasses. How exciting is that? The last one fell off and got lost. Then I'll maybe go into Virgin and HMV and see if there are any games which will run on a 333MHz processor. Doubtful.
Possibly I'll have a pint or three. Maybe even ring someone up on my new mobile phone! Possibly get pissed enough to splash out on that PS2 I've been promising myself for ages. Scott once bought a motor bike on his Switch card, Andy Lyon told me yesterday.
Andy and his wife Sarah are on holiday from Australia. He used to run an emu farm, but now he designs farms for others, and ships wine. He goes to Thailand and a secretary buys the plane tickets for him. Enjoy Friends with Jacob's Creek. But Will and Grace with Blossom Hill. These things are important. To the insecure.
No - today I'm definitely not going to blog. Tune in tomorrow to learn the shocking aftermath of the Darren and Deirdre Swann saga.
Do you ever get those dry days? Days when you wish Blogger was broken but it isn't? Well, today's one of dem.
Yesterday in the pub was just business as usual. Even Norma behaved. Roddy the tree surgeon (former HOTW) offered his services as topless hunk! He said he was working on his pecs. I said his pecs would be just fine. He said he would pose with a chain saw. I said he'd need a toolbelt. He said he hadn't got one. I told him he could borrow one from Robin (don't call me bisexual, I'm a screaming queen now.)
All of my women friends seem to be either in new relationships or ardently seeking such. Me, I just sit back and mentally award marks out of ten, in the way that gay men always do. But the requirements are quite different. One quote was really lovely, and the lady gave me her permission to repeat it, respecting anonymity...
"Yes, I know... he's just so totally gorgeous. I want to have his baby. He's too wonderful not to be a dad."
That brought a genuine emotion, even to this sere and long-parched desert of a soul. Thank you, whoever you are.
Big-ups to mike of troubled diva, who can now be found at his new, posh cyber-residence. www.troubleddiva.com (To go with the new house?) You'll love it, mike. Such cachet, and such lovely neighbours. Plus there's no garden to worry about!
A second chance to see...
No - I can't leave you with such a small entry as the above. (To coin a phrase.) Seeing as love and romance are in the air, I thought I'd revive this little tale from the archives. It's an avian allegory.
Background: The Water of Leith is home to a few breeding couples of swans. They tend to live several miles apart, and despite the potential for vandalism usually manage to raise a small handful of cygnets each year. This is a regular pastime for swan-watchers everywhere, who come from far and wide to wonder. It would make an ideal topic for a swancam, except that kids would probably steal the equipment. A swan's nest is between 1m and 1.5m across, and built beside a river. One particular year the parents were especially successful, raising no less than seven cygnets.
Naturally I took my dictaphone along for an exclusive interview with the radiant mother...
MISSING SWAN EGGS SHOCK!
Leith goes mental!!
By our swan reporter, Vesta Tilley
In a dazzling display of "swan-upmanship" Leith's most famous bird Ms Deirdre Swann yesterday hatched 7 healthy cygnets from her brood of 10 eggs.
"The tricky part was actually laying the fuckers - after that it was easy," Ms Swann explained, keeping a threatening eye on the other birds pecking about the nest. "I mean - look at the fucking size of them!" she laughed hollowly, while sipping from a can of delicious but economical Kestrel lager.
"Lager's good for mothers," she explained, pointing at the can with her elegant yet now somewhat scrawny neck. "Got iron in it. And folic acid. Do you think I've lost weight, by the way?"
The cygnets are perfectly formed, and ready to swim and even eat tomorrow or the next day, unlike other birdlets which seem to do nothing but open their gobs and demand to be spoon fed. You can see them gambolling about, pecking at inedible rubbish (for practice) then retiring back under mother's protective wing - literally. Hence the expression, which has seeped into the human, un-winged vocabulary.
Broken eggshells litter the environs, like so many of yesterday's things - important at the time, but now best forgotten. Let's face it, the Water of Leith might not be much, but it's a damn sight better than inside an egg.
And what about names for the new-born? Any ideas there? "Well, I've more or less set my mind on the days of the week, ye ken - with there being seven o' them an all," Ms Swann confided, proudly. "Providin' of course there's nae mair o' the wee fuckers still tae come - then I'm really up shit creek!"
So what about Darren, her husband? He was nowhere to be seen.
"Oh - he'll be down the pub, whooping it up with the boys!" she laughed. "You know what men are like - whatever species they are. And he was really pissed off when Hearts won the cup, so I guess this'll cheer him up a bit. Seven! That should get him a round or three."
She spent a few moments moving twigs and bits of plastic about the nest, lost in thought.
"It was your wonderful Germaine Greer who once said 'It's always the fucked sex that comes off worst.' Smart bird that. Now - if there's nothing else, I'll have to start thinking about the tea."
Deirdre's nest is in fact on the Water of Leith, opposite the Mecca Bingo Hall and down a bit. Go there. See wildlife without David Attenborough. And take your own camera - you truly don't need the BBC every damn time. Trust me, I'm natural.