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More famous than Susan Boyle!


Sunday, November 30, 2003

FROZEN EMBERS

It's close now - so close I can almost taste it. Sniff it. Wallow in the collective excitement.

December I'm talking about - that season of prozac and suicide. That horror to cap all primal horrors. The one which taps into your childhood soul.

Things are coming unstuck already. Yesterday I so nearly walked out of my job. As you do. Or rather maybe shouldn't. Thanks to C for his generous ears and patient face.

Sometimes it's good to have a queen as manager. Even if he is less than half my age. At least you know he isn't doing stigma. Alla familia. (Is that how you spell it? My Italian is quite shaky, despite having just put down Hannibal, the DVD.)



What a piece of amiable nonsense that is! And I wonder how much moolah Jodie Foster turned down. It wasn't the same without her, of course. And the first one was simply so shocking that there's just no further room to impress - but that didn't stop them trying!

Ah, Ray Liotta! Fat and puffy now, but I used to fancy him, just as I fancied Tony Curtis one hundred years ago - in the fifties. It's funny how stars inherit each others' looks... Curtis/Liotta, Pitt/Beckham, Streisand/Aniston and of course Dillon and Gates.

Maybe God has only so many basic models to choose from. Like Tellytubbies.



Some practicalities for December

I spend as much of the month as possible outdoors, no matter the temperature. Cold normally equates with bright anyway, and frost and snow are paradise incarnate.

This means less blogging - probably none in the morning, my usual time to greet you here. Maybe there'll be a little later, but equally maybe not. Evenings equate to telly, DVD and food.

For eating I choose from the three main food groups, pizza, Indian and Chinese. I've heard a rumour there are things called fruit and vegetables, but you can stop your gums bleeding by taking Boots Effervescent Vitamin C tablets. I recommend them. They're the only thing I ever take. And from December 21 to early January we close down completely, as the alternative is just too gruesome.

Dramatic? Moi? Honey, you ain't seen nuthin. (Unless you look in the archives. And the best stuff is away on my earlier site - too terrifying for even me to read. Just like Hollywood movies, sequels lose their power to impress.)

Tomorrow I'm doing some more recording for the BBC. Break a leg. Oh - and at least this winter I'm an orphan. And a non-smoker. These are both excellent.


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Friday, November 28, 2003

COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS

Something odd happened in the pub yesterday evening. It was over a news item - David Beckham's OBE - and boy did the camera love him! There was a hush, a sudden frisson of fascination as all fell silent at his beauty. More beauty than any creature has a right to own.

Gay men (ie me), straights, and what few women were there, all sat entranced. Me, I grabbed Mary the landlady's hands. "Oh my God, Mary..." I gestured, near speechless. "I know," she replied, letting the handclasp run.

Then the camera cut to his wife Victoria, and you should have heard the derision. Maybe it was the hat - or maybe something else, something more deeply misogynist.

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman.



One woman who would have had a birthday today is my mother. She would have been 79. Or maybe 80. It's hard to tell.

But I do wish she'd lived a few years longer, as I was having a bit of a bad time in the few years previous to her death. Nothing dramatic - just a mid-life loss of job and direction. And she knew of my pain. Mothers always do.

So I wish she'd seen me in my present, poor but much happier life.

The Lord giveth...



HI HO

Have nice weekends all - but not before reading my Playstation rant below. It's a cracker. Anybody know any PS2 games I might like? I still feel I want to get one - just I don't want to shag a prostitute in a car


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Thursday, November 27, 2003

NOT PLAYING

In Princes Street today - all primed up for this year's biggest purchase - a Playstation 2.

I need it for my nerves, you understand. Helps with the depression. Turn off reality for a while.

And all was going well at first. A hundred and forty quid, plus ten pounds off a game. Magic! Lead me to it! Let me bask in this guaranteed gameplay I'd heard about for so long. No more PC problems. No more fragged-up discs.

But it was not to be. God wasn't in his digital garden tonight. Try as I might, I just couldn't morally or realistically purchase any of the games HMV had on their shelves.

None. That is, not one.



I don't want to be a crime lord, me. I truly have no interest in running prostitution. Drugs leave me quite unmoved, and I refuse to shoot a living creature. Even in game.

The shop assistant was looking at me strangely, as I blanched at the titles he was displaying. I think he knew he'd got a funny one here. Despite the (small) variability in the boxes, there were three over-riding strands. Violence. Crime. And of course GUNS. The NRA would be truly proud.

Longingly I thought back to the nineties, when for a time the PC was the main games platform. I thought of Kings Quest, Full Throttle, Alone in the Dark, Dune and that time travel thing whose name I've forgotten. Games with puzzle, with thought, with intelligence. Oh yes, there was Doom and Doom 2, but I played them mostly for the breathtaking levels and music. Still I get an adrenalin knot when I hear that opening track to Doom 2. They just don't write them like that any more.

Oh, how old I do seem to be getting! Anyone for euthanasia?



Bizarrely, last night I was watching Bowling For Columbine, by Michael Moore. He makes many points in that chaotic miscellany, but possibly the most resonant one is that the United States is a country kept in fear by the (News) media.

I accuse the Sony Corporation and their PS2 franchise of damaging a generation. They are the lizards of our time. They know they can't get away with that level of violence in the movies - not least because of ratings - so they push it in the games hoping the adults won't notice.

Sorry, dudes. The game is up.


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HUSH MY MOUTH #37

An occasional feature in which we highlight the comments we so generously contribute about the place. Yesterday was particularly fertile (ie shitty) in this respect.

Let's start with Anji Patchwork in France:
"I heard a lady on the radio this lunch time and she had the annoying habit of making a question with her voice even when she wasn't asking one."
To which we replied:
"It's called High Rising Terminal. Originated in Australia, and spread rapidly with the Neighbours programme. Very common with the young here in Britain, although I notice it dropping off slightly nowadays. Also, I would question that American English is "easier" than British English."
Other commenters had the HRT with French-speaking Canada and China.



Robin, speaking as a parent, had a little difficulty with one of our remarks: "You can't make an omelette without a stove."

Which we explained thus:
"It's a device I invented, called the "altered cliche". Other examples would be, "You could have knocked me down with anything large enough". Or "A stitch in time sometimes pricks your finger." (I'm sure that's enough examples!) Madness. Sheer madness. It's that time of year."
Tony my IT manager then contributed: "Walking on stony water" was always my favourite.

And here's betting you've got one or two yourselves. Spit em out below!



Gordon Snowgoon was posing the question: "Should smoking be banned in public places?"

To which we coughed up:
"If business people got off their asses and opened more non-smoking pubs and restaurants that would go a long way to solving the problem. Leith, where I live, is crawling with non-smokers. Anyone opening a smoke-free bar would make a fortune.

And then, of course, there would be no problem for non-smokers and smokers alike. Smoking bars and non-smoking bars. What's the problem? Why isn't it happening?

As a very recent non-smoker (five months) I find smoke in cafes and restaurants much more offensive than in pubs. Somehow the smells of beer and smoke don't bother me so much. Most of my friends are smokers, so even under the regime I'm recommending, I'd still go into the smoking bars. The Port o Leith Bar without fagsmoke just wouldn't be right, somehow!"
What say you?



And finally....

Dave of London and Blackpool is making a creditable attempt to shed fat at the moment. (My advice: it's the wrong time of year!), and had this to say about his diet:
"I had a tin of tomatoes on toast last night for my dinner. Expensive tomatoes from Italy on WeightWatchers bread. Dessert was a bowl of sultana bran with skimmed milk. Total points 6. Then I had a cup of tea with two WeightWatchers chocolate crisp bars (surprisingly yummy) for 4 points."
All that food-reading got my juices flowing not half, so I felt moved to torment Dave thusly:
"I was going to go to bed hungry, but after reading this I've got to have a pizza. People aren't meant to be skinny, anyway. Past a certain age you just get to your proper weight and then don't get any bigger. Sex is hugely overrated, and eating is actually more fun."
And that was (partly) how yesterday sped past. What fun we bloggers do have!


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Wednesday, November 26, 2003

IN THE FAMILY WAY #237

Seeing as two of my real life pals have now gone blogtastic, things have changed somewhat around these here environs.

Specifically, you can now read one of the other players' accounts of yesterday's FIVE BAR BLUES. Ian, aka Dolly, here. (November 26) He's taken to calling me Tall Dark Ginger Peachy, for some reason.

Gwen's blog is here. (Gwen is the niece of Stuart, aka Granny. Are you getting the idea?) She was one of my co-presenters on Leith FM in June, and you can see how fab she looks here. Oh - I think I'm on there too, if you look closely.

Google News!

We're number one in the discovered universe for Quinquereme of Nineveh. (Mentioned on November 21.) I'm expecting the computer game and an anthology of John Masefield's poetry on blogspot banners forthwith.

Consumer News!

Did you know that if you cut out deodorants completely then you stop smelling? It's true. Yorkshire Kriss first told me about it weeks ago, but Babs said he was a minger. Then I got skin allergy from too many products, so had to cut out every single thing. Now I smell as lovely as a rose! Honest. Scratch this sentence and sniff!!


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PERSONAL ADS

Blogspot ad banners are daein' ma heid in, as we say here. I only have to mention a thing on Naked Blog, when up it pops on the next blogspot site I visit - staring at me... taunting me... gotcha!

I first noticed it a couple of weeks ago, when I wrote about Mah Jonng solitaire. Exactly two days later, on Invisible Stranger, both of the banner ads were for Mah Jonng games. Coincidence? Maybe. Hmmm.



Then there was a story about Sedgefield in County Durham. (Presidential visit.) What appeared on blogspot two days later? "Durham Dating" and "Make Friends in the North East". You couldn't make it up.

So I set a trap, didn't I, and wrote a deliberately provocative paragraph about South Park Videos. See what it would do with that. Result? Nada. Cunning stunt!

Finally (except it won't be final), just when you think it's safe to come out of the focus group, I write about Jools Holland on Sunday, and by Wednesday I'm exhorted to "buy tickets for Jools Holland".



Please, please upgrade to banner-free. Today. You know you can afford it. And make an old man very happy. Advertisers and politicians are the world's greatest evil. And bankers too, of course.


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MOUSEOVER

Funny noises are coming out of my computer, as if a mouse were inside, chewing. It's one of those really old-fashioned ones from three years ago - much too big for your lap. This could be goodbye for some time. Unless I get one on a have now, pay next decade plan.


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Tuesday, November 25, 2003

FIVE BAR BLUES

Babs was to the left of me, Ms Dean and Brian to my right. Ian the owner was behind the bar pretending to work - dusting surfaces sort of thing - but in reality we were all discussing rugby.

Rugby! I hear you think... wtf do a bunch of poofs know about rugby? Well, honey - maybe a little more than you might think. "It's gay porn!" Ian declared, with the confidence that comes from owning the joint. "Men in shorts." We all nodded, in agreement for once over this vital issue. Queens know - perhaps better than anyone else - just how flimsy is the veil that keeps the crown jewels from their admirers.

"If straight men were really straight," he continued, dashing his hand through the remains of last week's pink streak, " - if they were really straight, they'd be watching.... "

"Lesbian mud wrestling!" I said, helping him out. (He drinks a bit, you know.) We all nodded in agreement again. "It's the same with war movies," I went on. "My dad spent his life watching John Wayne and Rock Hudson."

"When he should have been watching Sophia Loren," Ian said, getting my point at once.



"This music's shite," Babs opined, as the only straight person there.

You know, they're really good at The Village: the moment I step through the door Ian slams on the oldest songs he's got. Usually it's Dusty, but yesterday we had The Crazy World of Arthur Brown - segueing into Slade.

"Got any 22 20s or Franz Ferdinand?" I casually name-dropped - to deafening silence. "Who's that?" Ms Dean demanded. "Oh - a couple of great new bands," I said, feigning indifference while sensing his every nerve fibre. "But you won't have heard of them, sweetness - they've not been on MTV yet, and I don't think they're desperately queeny." (Regular readers will recall that Ms Dean is Mrs Ritchie's definitive fan.)

"Put the Chillies on!" he instructed, not wanting to lose control. I demurred then, smiling inside and out. The Chillies were OK. Elevator music. I didn't once ask for them to be turned down.


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Daft Quiz

StarchYou are starch. You are rigid, opinionated, hard-
willed and not too friendly about it. You keep
people out of places, or you keep them in, and
without you a lot of things would collapse.
hopefully you'll never have the authority to
burn people at the stake. Sir. Ma'am.
Which Biological Molecule Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thks to Brian of Shadowfoot.

Here's another one:

What's your digital IQ? (Link via too many to mention!)


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Monday, November 24, 2003

TWIX CUP AND LIP

I've injured my mouth. With a Twix bar. Stop laughing!

Saturday night at the bingo it happened, when a customer kindly gave me this single finger Twix. But I must have stuffed it in too quick, because next thing there were those hard little blisters on the palate. The ones you get from scratching. Pointy. Hanging. Irritating.

What could I do? In just five minutes I was due behind the mike. It was pretty damn stupid to eat then anyway, as the crumbs get in your mouth and fly about the place and end up on your larynx and then all hell breaks out. Regular microphone performers will know of what I speak.

So I squeezed them with my finger. And then with a tissue. (Don't read on - it's too awful.) And now I'm sitting here with half the symptoms of a head cold, (swollen mouth and nasal passage) all from one damn Twix bar. You'd really think I'd be old enough to know better.

Chlorhexidine gluconate will hopefully prevail.



I love getting hits from executive sites like this, and knowing that some well-off perv's just searched for someone naked. Or worse.

Have a nice Monday! I'm off work - and you know what that means.

Clue: There's no housework involved! (Fasten up your comment boxes. It's that time of year.)


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Sunday, November 23, 2003

DEEP AND CRISP AND EVEN

Yes, winter's here! Last night, Jack Frost left his icy fingers all over the grass to the front and the car park to the back. Showing no favours. Consummate frigidity.

Sandra my personal manager and her daughter are due shortly, so I can't stay long.

Except to recommend...

Later With Jools Holland

The last couple of Fridays I've had something of a Damascene conversion, musically. I know there's developed something of a crusty old "nothing decent since Sgt Pepper" persona here, but persona is all it is.

I love music. I adore music.

It's just that for at least a decade I haven't heard any. (New stuff, that is.) So you could have knocked me down with a feather when Mr Holland came into my life a fortnight ago.

Splendid. My faith in the young is quite restored! (Why do Gates and Williams get all the attention when Franz Ferdinand and 22-20s are embedded in music?) Each of those two bands leaves standing everything from the sixties.

Well, I warned you it was Damascene :)


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Saturday, November 22, 2003

THEM THAT HATH

Readers who go to bingo (and there are a couple) will verify the following. On Thursday night just gone, (20 November) the National Bingo Game main prize of one hundred thousand pounds was won in a place mysteriously described as
THE PALACE, LONDON
Whether it was George or Liz who called house wasn't disclosed.



Oh, and hands up who noticed the lack of visible iris in Tony's Sedgefield eyes! Two big black scary holes. Either he and George had "been on the sweeties" as we say here, or that lizard blood was kicking in bigtime.

Poll Results

What is your view of this week's US Presidential State visit?
Approve 11%
Disapprove 55%
Don't care 34%
Thanks to all who voted. This is in line with the Question Time Poll on Thursday, but way off beam for Guardian/ICM, who had a far higher approval rating.


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Friday, November 21, 2003

PROLOGUE

It's just not flowing this morning...
"Friends, Romans... " nah. Been done already. Tick, t-shirt.

"I wandered lonely as a cloud..." Maybe. I did go on a walk yesterday, and saw some bright green river weed. Probably Monsanto.

"Quinquereme of Nineveh..." Wonder if I could get away with that one? Definite nautical flavour...
Nah... load of rubbish that lot. Never win a thing. Stick to something original, dewd....


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HI HO

That's my little autumn break finished now, and it's back to the (not really) grindstone in a couple of hours. Ah well. Next holiday in late January to celebrate the return of the sun and survival of December, that most horrifying of months. It's a routine. Who needs holiday in the summer, when life flows along like a song?

"The man worth while is the man who can smile - when everything goes dead wrong," as my old Auntie Jessie used to say. Then she died.



Yesterday I took the first of my winter river walks. You could almost see through the publicans' faces en route... "Oh my God - here's that depressed guy again, it must be winter already!" Nature is good, and it never, ever answers back or calls you a poof. Neither does it play blaring "music" at you, unlike the hostelries I seem fated to frequent.

Karma. I must have been very bad last time around - state executioner at least, I would say. Now who would that remind you of? Thou shalt not kill.

Talking of which, I was reminded on the News this Breakfast that Sedgefield is really pronounced Setchfield. So now you know. Decades rolling back... "Thou should be in Setchfield, thou." (It once housed the County Lunatic Asylum. Post below.)

And thou is pronounced thoo in the North East. So now the kna's.



Drinking and Posting

I've vague memories of posting hostile and provocative comments about the place when I come home after the pub. This is because
(a) I'm in a bad mood, and
(b) I'm a thoroughly nasty piece of work - jealous of others' success and happiness.
Can't say fairer than that, guv.

It's only here in blogland that we're exposed to people you would never, ever meet in real life. People naturally seek out those of similar wealth and relationship status. Here it's a luckybag. Which can be fun, in its way, until the booze and the rage kick in. Blog is the greatest of levellers.

Ah well, I suppose it beats kicking the cat. Or a family. Apologies to all affected, and I really am trying to deal with the problem.



Never Never Land

If I could pass for 12 I'd be there in a shot! Don't be kidded - twenty million dollars for a few seconds' grope? I could live with that - very comfortably, and for a very long time.

It's the parents who are equally to blame, of course. Shoving their kids at the odious man and praying for the bonusball jackpot.


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Thursday, November 20, 2003

TURKISH DELIGHT?
Twenty-seven killed in double blast in Istanbul


It's not funny any more. The humour's gone right out of it. They couldn't get at George and Tony themselves, so they settled for easier options. You bastards.

Twenty seven killed in Istanbul - and hundreds injured. British interests targetted for the first time - although on a far, far smaller level than 911. They didn't have the World Trade Center, so they had to make do with the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

HSBC - Honkers and Shankers... didn't they buy the Royal Bank of Scotland, that undercover benefactor of the Conservative Party? The lizards will be well upset! Scuttling back to Sirius for a face transplant!!

Full of Eastern Promise.



To quote Neil Kinnock in one of his few memorable speeches, "I hate violence, I detest violence, and I damn violence."

To which we can only agree. And add, "I hate banks, I detest mortgage lenders, and I damn insurance companies. Jesus wasn't wrong."

There will be no resolution yet for the forseeable future. Our Western leaders simply don't understand the problem.

But I do.

Sicut erit in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecola saeculorum.

Don't know if I'll be doing much more Bush stuff after this. Lost its comedy potential, really. Blood is thicker than ink.


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DINER
That State Banquet for George and Laura...


Fun and games round at Liz's last night. George was there, and Laura - and one or two friends and family dropped in for pizza and Blossom Hill. What a hoot!

Liz started by glancing down at George (from a standing position), and remarking that unlike in the USA, she was there for more than two terms of four years! Fabulous!

George began his bit by mentioning the totally awesome relationship and friendship between our two great nations, but "it got off to a shaky start". Couldn't make it up!

Then he got his own little dig in by referring to her "five decades in office". (I think Her Majesty calls it "reign" rather than "office", but no mind. He'd made his point. She ain't no KFC.)



I loved it. Would have been there myself in a shot - especially since I was paying for the thing. But I made do with the BBC coverage - which I also pay for! Am I a Republican or what? Maybe a damn commie! Seating Plan and Menu.

Jonathan Freedland writes an amusing Guardian piece about Day 1 of the great State Visit. It's longer than mine, and really quite good, but then he gets paid to stay in and write it. Me, I like to get out in the afternoons. But you all know that by now.

Lots of Bush video here! Heavens, this leaves the Grauny standing!


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TELEVISION ARTS

An interesting observation about American TV comedy last night. It was in a programme about Brit-com "crossing the Atlantic". Unless the shows get re-made in American format they languish, barely-seen, on cult cable channels. (I was under the impression that AbFab had done quite splendidly over there, especially with the queens, but wtf do I know?)

But two and only two British shows have been successfully adapted, both from the dim and distant past - Till Death Us Do Part, and Steptoe and Son. Yes, honestly - that's what the programme said.

[Ed: Get to the goddam point, why doncha?] OK, OK. It was made by an actor in Coupling - a recent, failed attempt at re-make. What he said was something I've long suspected - namely that for American TV they don't use actors any more - what they do is look for someone who actually is the part.



Por qua? Well, money. There's a small but definite risk that if an actor's off-form that day, he or she might not "hit the exact note" (sic) of their character. Whereas, if your player actually is the person, he can't help but do it correctly.

Coronation Street fans might contrast the middle-class Sarah Lancashire who acted Racquel, with Liz Dawn who merely has to say the lines. Doubtless the soaps are redolent with such.

Oh - and this show also included Ricky Gervais (The Office), who in real life is exactly the same as his character David Brent. Or maybe he's gone so psycho he can't switch him off. I suspect the former.

So now you know. Forget your acting classes and find a drama you're actually in. Look at George and Liz.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2003

LETTERS TO THE PRESIDENT

For those of you who missed The Guardian yesterday, here they are online - fifty letters to Mr President. And no, they're not all hostile. Everybody's there... Portillo, Burchill, Motion, Salam Pax. A must-read.

Spitting Image

It's at times like this you almost weep for the lack of Spitting Image - that bound-breaking puppet satire of the eighties. Just what joy they would have had over the Windsor-Bush breakfast this morning, as the families discuss the newspapers.
Queen: Look Philip! There's that pop singer - the one who keeps trying to make himself white. Been fiddling with the kiddies again.
Philip: (coughing) Goddam steers and queers...
Queen jumps onto the breakfast table and moonwalks the entire length of it, kicking the platters of kipper and scrambled egg as she does so. Philip leaps on at the other end, and they meet in the middle then segue into Saturday Night Fever. George and Laura sit waving their Stars and Stripes and clapping...
George Bush: Gee honey - these limeys sure know how to live! Do ya reckon they got Macdonalds over here?
Laura: Shh! I've stolen a salt cellar.
Or something like that. It would be great, anyway.

Live Bush video is here. (From time to time.)



Palace Security Breach - Reloaded

Once again a downmarket newspaper has revealed a gaping maw in Palace security. And no - we're NOT talking about servants playing the royal flush.

Hear Piers Morgan, editor of the Daily Mirror, defending his newspaper's shameless but valuable stunt in planting a mole inside Buckingham Palace. This really does answer all those knee-jerk critics who disliked the President bringing over his own security. We're a laughing-stock. Again.



One day at a time...

Yesterday, for the first time in many weeks, I played no games of Mah Jonng solitaire at all. So should I reward myself with "just one game"? I quit once...


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Tuesday, November 18, 2003

NEW POLL!

Heavens I'm far too good to you people, you know. I hope you realise that!

The results of our last poll are below, but this weeks hot topic is no longer the MTV awards, but the state visit of President and Mrs Bush. (Although there are definite similarities.)

Good thing? Bad thing? Waste of money? Necessary to demonstrate our place in the world? Chance for George and Tone to do that all-important male bonding? To forgive the War of Independence? Or simply to chat about their drunken kids? And what about the Queen and her blue-blood brood? Royal minefield there, if you ask me.

For your convenience I've condensed it into three simple choices.

Vote now, and make a difference!


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GEORGE AND THE DRAGONS

So - what's everybody doing for the Prezzie's visit then? Got that turkey in the oven? How about a belated trick or treat? I hear pumpkin pie is very warming at this time of the year, but I confess I haven't tried it.

Part of the presidential visit is to Sedgefield in County Durham, which has a special resonance for us pit village kids from thereabouts. You see, last century Sedgefield was home to the county workhouse and asylum. That's a different sort of asylum - not the sort you would ever seek. Lunatic asylum, to put it bluntly.



So, we youngsters would jest and joke about this one and that one we thought had "been in Sedgefield". Or who should be in Sedgefield, and so on and so forth. It was the ultimate insult.
Sedgefield St Edmund the Bishop
[Population 1911: 4,077, incl. 1,784 persons enumerated in the County Lunatic Asylum]
In much the same way as Windscale elided into Sellafield (or was it the other way round?), Sedgefield Asylum became Winterton Hospital when the new chemical coshes came along in the fifties. And somehow Winterton never gathered quite the same degree of stigma. Which was the whole idea, I'm sure.

So I wonder if President Bush will realise, when he's tucking into his Big Macs with the Blairs, just how closely he's sitting to two great British institutions, the workhouse and the lunatic asylum?

What is your view on the Bush State visit? Spit it out below - it will get read. Or - if you prefer - you can vote in our latest poll to your right. Or both!


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TOP OF THE FLOPS

That TV personality poll, then...

The 759 votes cast were spread widely, with the winner, Jim Davidson, scoring only seven percent of the total. Nevertheless, you the people have spoken, and this is your TV Miss-List. The figures after the names are the number of votes, not age or waist-size.
Jim Davidson 51
Paul Daniels 47
Vanessa Feltz 44
Robert Kilroy Silk 41
Loyd Grossman 40
Trisha 37
Anne Robinson 36
Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen 33
Gary Rhodes 31
Phillip Schofield 31
Interesting that there are only three of the fair sex represented, possibly indicating it's men who turn you off the most. Or maybe there are just more of them on the box.

Several readers have expressed surprise at the outcome, and I must say my own man, Jonathan Ross, didn't really come anywhere, as neither did Natasha Kaplinsky, my pal Babs' favourite slapper.



There was an overnight search for "Jonathan Ross" jew, which was news to me. If true it would go some way to explaining his continued employment by the Beeb.

Oh - and who were your favourites in the poll? Who did you dislike the least? Yes, it was the boys in tuxes what done best.
Michael Buerk 15
Dermot Murnaghan 16
Terry Wogan 19
A fascinating poll, and thanks to all who voted.


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Monday, November 17, 2003

I QUITE LIKE MONDAYS

Cloudy. Grey. Might stay dry. Must walk into the light.

Welcome back to Steve of My Ace Life, now in handy weekly instalments. What has happened to Charlie of Here Inside? I'm very concerned.

My Boyfriend is a Twat is this week running Deathmatch 2003, Zed versus Quickos. Last time I looked, the puppet was ahead.

Every time I look at our own little poll, there's another 100 votes on it. Was meant to finish on Friday. Jim Davidson is currently your top of the TV flops, closely followed by Paul Daniels. Robert Kilroy Silk and Vanessa Feltz are in joint third place. How pukey are that lot?

Would a Playstation 2 be the answer?


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Sunday, November 16, 2003

OLD BULL AND BUSH

Yes - President Bush had some good times in London pubs, "in the days when I was a drinking man." He also went to see Cats with Laura. And he can't pronounce "nuclear". (Opting instead for nucular, a common error, but not really to be expected from an American president.) And that was just about that in his Breakfast With Frost interview. You could have said bars, George - we understand bars. But thank you for trying, anyway. Have a good trip.

"Iraq is just a front in the war against terror," he said at one point, but Frost was too befuddled to pick up on this rather provocative statement. (I would have thought.)

You can see the interview here, by clicking on Latest Programme. Bush starts around 30 minutes in. Before that there's John Major being kind about Haig and Duncan Smith. Such a gent that John always was.


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WHAT A DOWNPOUR!

Started to watch The Rain Man last night on TV, for the first - and last - time. Sadly I had to abandon it after half an hour as it's pure, unadulterated, A-List BULLSHIT. I always suspected Cruise couldn't act his way out of a forest, and that film certainly proves it. Hoffman was there doing his, "Boy, I'm gonna get an Oscar for this," fandango, and the whole thing simply sucked. The woman was equally crap. I got enough Puerto Rican accents in West Side Story to last me forever. Spare my precious ears, why doncha? Four Oscars!! They must have been off their fucking heads.

Mercury Rising will tell you more about autism than that bunch of celluloid charlatans could even dream of.

But it's not all bad news! I'm halfway through Chocolat, and that's a honey. Fabuloso. Strange how styles change in just twelve years.


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Saturday, November 15, 2003

MISS GUARDIAN PIE

So it's farewell to Julie Burchill. But not before I pay her some tribute here - some recognition of the pleasure she's brought me over the Guardian years. I only occasionally brushed against her column in the Daily Mail (was it?), but when I did I found it refreshingly free and independent of that paper's ghastly mind-set. I wrote her a letter of thanks once then, but like so often, didn't post it.

Whenever you mention her name the response is so predictable that I won't give space to the unkind, sexist epithets which accrue. Then they turn to her opinions. Anti-this and anti-that. But who cares what she thinks, who really cares, when the words turn her views into gold in any case?



What were those pet peeves, so generously and frequently shared? America of course. Mrs Ritchie and Mrs Beckham, naturally. (How much venom she could inject into that Mrs!) Fashion. Raddled old rag-queens. Fag-hags... others we don't care to repeat here. They were her staples - ever ready to give quote to her fertile vocabulary.

But, and it's a big but, the day of the opinion-columnist is now essentially over. The bloggers do it better, and you get a two-way relationship for your money. The people on the sidebar write as well as any print columnist, and - crucially - I actually care about them to an extent. There are degrees of "never having met".

Yes, the big newspaper hacks and hackettes have more names to drop, but - frankly - who gives a shit about celebrity these days? Celebrity is out. Talent is back with a vengeance.

Replace this!

So who is to replace Miss B? Is she even replaceable? And does it matter anyway?

The simple fact is that Guardian Weekend magazine is a big, expensive, glossy waste of paper. An Argos catalogue for the upper middles. Without Burchill and Chancellor it would be straight to the bin with it. Oh - there've been many more good writers on the Grauny. Housing Benefit Hill, Oscar Moore, Suzanne Moore, Germaine Greer... one by one all gone for different and sometimes sad reasons.

This talkboard, with it's mostly puerile drivel about Julie Burchill, (but the odd mature comment), offers various suggestions for her successor. Will Self (please, NO), assorted mediachicks called Emma and Zoe; Jon Ronson also, this last being an excellent choice.

Even Naked Blog gets a couple of mentions there; only one of them from myself! Thanks Lori and Sarah! But is the world really ready for Constitution Street - a daily drama with no end in sight?

Yes - I think it might just be time.


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Friday, November 14, 2003

POPPED IN THE POOPER

Fun and games in the Port last night with karaoke. Even though I'm this close to becoming Jeremy Paxman (or even Kirsty Wark) I think it's important not to forget your roots. So I did a little Graham Norton-style audience work with a roving microphone to get them in the mood. It was modestly successful, but there's always one who tries to spoil it. Machts nicht.

It was quite a Leith FM sort of do, what with Ricky T and his wife Carly running the gig, me doing what I'm best at - which is next to nothing - and the amazing Cad, Station Manager, bringing the house down with Dedicated Follower of Fashion. Then Oo, Oo - My Coo Ca Choo. He even wore Alvin Stardust black leather gloves. It's part of his Cyborg outfit. Or summat.



Not a lot to report from Naked Mansions right now. Battening down the emotional hatches for the weeks to come, and loving every minute of the light. It's been glorious this week. Every single moment of the sun has been there and available. Really must stop sitting here all morning, writing to you and playing Mah Jonng solitaire. Ooo it's a Carpenters' hit coming on. And look what happened to her.

Continuing today's music theme, the Beatles (what's left of them) have re-released Let It Be, and I can hardly contain my indifference. After Sgt. Pepper they never did anything worthwhile anyway. You can't top perfection, and sometimes you shouldn't even try.

One song I came across yesterday, courtesy of Invisible Stranger, is Jeff Stryker the eighties porn star singing Pop You In The Pooper. I hear he's running for Senator somewhere soon. It's fun. Strictly Over-18's only please.



Oh dear. Miss Julie is departing the Guardian, lured by the Murdoch shilling to the Times. It is the considered and mature view of Naked Blog that anyone who works for Murdoch is scum. Can't say plainer than that, guv. So it's the end of an era, and I'll never read her again.

There's a Guardian newsgroup about it here, where they ask who should replace la Burchill. The answer, dear reader, is right now staring you in the face. There are none so blind...


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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

GROUND CONTROL

There's something about Mars right now. There he is, hanging in the crystal night sky, torturing me, tormenting me rotten.

"Come on, gayboy," he says. "Remember that night we had in the Jurassic? Before the dinosaurs were born? You said you would always stick by me you bastard, but you never ever phoned."

Close, so close - the opportunity of a millennium - putting politicians and our puny wars so totally in the shade. That since all that time the most successful thing we've learned is how to kill each other.

Red planet. Red menace. Red peril. Red dawn. Red commies. Burning bush.

How stupid and insignificant we are! That we humans wilfully discard our environment for the enrichment of so few. That the next time Mars approaches so close we will offer nothing more than a sterile, hostile and irradiated planet. That it didn't take Saddam to bring out the weapons of mass destruction.

Good night and goodbye, to life. They got so rich, but then they couldn't breathe.


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IT'S A WRAP

The police have asked me to mention that the BBC recording on Thursday will not now be taking place in Constitution Street, due to it having been done already yesterday. Cheering crowds anxious for a look at their fave blogstar - the biggest thing since Kylie - should disperse and go home.

Yes - Laura from the BBC phoned me yesterday, just after NB had gone to bed, (as they say in the biz), and we cobbled the recording together in Tony's house and then Bar Java.



Laura is young, hip and happening, unlike moi who has already happened. She had a minidisc, but said she was much happier with quarter inch tape. I'm familiar with minidiscs from our Leith FM days, and agree they do look very complicated. My pal Gwen is a real minidisc wizard though, and you can read her latest blog here. It's fun and happening. Ian (aka Dolly) has come out of blog-purdah and writes here about meeting Kylie. He's very happening also. They're both on that new 20six blogsystem.

Oh, and Laura said I should apply for a job as Radio Four announcer. There's one going, apparently, although I couldn't find it. She said she would give me a reference. She lurrved my voice, although I thought it a touch less smooth than I would have liked. Some booze, or a bag of hot chips does wonders in that department. Anything hot and greasy, in fact. Why do you think opera singers are so fat?



The rest of the day passed in a haze of alcohol, as you might reasonably expect from someone on holiday who's just recorded a radio programme. Stuart the DJ invited me to be the narrator in a production of Rocky Horror he's doing, but I don't know if it's quite my style. All that cavernous mock-dead declaiming. Needs a trained actor, I would have thought. But that might cost him more money.

Later, there was the exquisite delight of bringing face to face two acquaintances who've been telling a wee fib about moi. Each blaming the other as source. "Right then," I demanded of the pair of them. "Who's the fucking liar?"

A-ha. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.


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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

BIG BANG

You know just how big a star you are when the BBC comes to you rather than the other way round.

Thursday it's goin down. Recording in the Port o Leith Bar and then in Tony's house across the road. All appear to be delighted.

Including me, but I'm wondering if I need a new outfit. (And please don't tell me you'll never see it on the radio.) I think I'll just get one anyway.

Did you know, guys, than when you meet a woman for the first time and she lowers her eyes - it's not your family allowance she's checking, but your shoes? A man's shoes tell a woman just everything she wants to know. Style, taste, price and condition. So never skimp in this vital area.

Poll is now open:

You have until Friday to vote for your least-loved TV "personalities". Vote, vote, vote to help rid our screens of those bloated, overpaid monstrosities. Knowing that it's difficult to settle on just one arch-villain, I've left it wide open for you to stick the knife in to as many as you want. Make em squirm, baby!


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Monday, November 10, 2003

WE'RE ALL GOING ON A...

Yes - it's true! Eleven days of crack-smokin', hog-humpin', blog-writin' bliss as your muse swans around the four corners. Of somewhere. Anywhere but the bingo, in fact.

It's my duvet time - own private nervous breakdown. But be aware that whatever happens, you won't be far behind in hearing about it! It's why you come here. Why you love me so much.

I switched the news on this morning, but had to put it off after just two minutes. Too bright. Too loud. Too nonsensical. Who needs reality when you've got the blogosphere?

Natasha Kaplinsky was banging on about how the average house has contents worth 42,000 pounds. Tasha, honey, you obviously never came to my little dump. You could take off at least two zeros. Possibly three.

Never been a possessions person, even in the years I could afford them. They singularly fail to impress me, you see. So I naturally assume others are equally unmoved. Chair to sit on, bed to sleep. Computer to write at, telly to watch. Happy as a pig in shit, as my late mother used to say.

Quentin, as usual, put it brilliantly when he said, "Your home is your dressing room, where you get ready to go out and meet the world."


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LA LA LAND

C Major:

La la la la la la la la laaa

D Major:

La la la la LA LA la la laaa

Kylie Minogue:

La la la -
La la la la la...

Hehe - just kidding. (Although that is one of Miss Minogue's best offerings, imho. Something Alice and I have in common.) No - what I'm doing is exercising the old (literally) larynx ready to record Nov 5 th Radio Scotland Blogday. Voice gives better radio than writing!

Laura is coming through from Glasgow with her minidisc recorder, but my house is such a mess I really don't know where I can put her. Maybe the BBC studio in Queen Street (stop sniggering) might be a better choice. I love microphones, me. Just ask Tony my producer. It's getting me to shut up that's the problem!!

Then on Sunday it's phase two of our plan to start the world's best ever community radio shack. All happening in Leith! Come and live here and push up my house price!! Leith loves the middle class.


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Sunday, November 09, 2003

PUT ANOTHER NICKEL IN

Astonished to read on Lyle's site yesterday that not only he, but most of his commenters as well, spend their time at work listening to music on headphones.

My gast is flabbered!!

Now - I know many of you are able to con your employers into thinking you're producing profitable labour when in reality you can spend the day reading and writing blogs. And guess just how jealous that makes me feel! (Naked Blog is produced entirely in my own time - and in total silence.) Awwww.

But - all joking apart - this blocking off the world with music is pretty damn serious. It's sociopathic, for one thing. And the effect on your hearing apparatus can only be imagined.



Our ears evolved to the rustle of Savannah wind, and the pad of a predatory paw. Just you try spotting a hungry tiger after four hours of heavy metal. (Do they still have heavy metal, btwf? Or has the Ozzie bint conquered all?)

Never one to mince words, this is what we opined on Lyle's site. Let me stress the reply wasn't just to him, but to his various headphoned commenters also.
"I can't believe the world has come to people blocking off human contact like this. I'm not joking or taking the piss here - this is my first awareness that people wear music headphones at work. It's absolutely awful! Next you'll be telling me people do that in the street as well!

Five more years and they'll be putting ads on the music, as well as messages from the government, and then you'll wonder why the man in the next cubicle suddenly isn't there any more, and you'll realise you've not spoken to him for six months, and you never knew his name anyway, and Orwell was right all along, but wtf cares, and what CD should I put on next?"
I'd wondered why so many of you seem to get in such rages at everyday stresses, and now I'm starting to see why.

My advice: donate the music player to a charity shop, or even to me, and plug back into the Matrix. You're dead an awful long time - and they say the music's fabulous in heaven.


And you say? (22)   Link to this



WEAPONS OF HORRIFIC DESTRUCTION

Someone who isn't dead, but easily could be, or at least blinded, is Gert.

Gert was enjoying a simple night out in a pub when someone threw in a firework which landed on her - giving horrific burns to her shoulder. Missing her eyes by only inches obviously, also.

I've said it here before many times: fireworks should not be sold to the public. Not ever, in any circumstances. How many more people have to be killed and maimed, for heaven's sake?

Wishing Gert every good thing for a speedy recovery.

And you could do worse than write to your MP, linking to Gert's page. Most of them can work a browser these days.


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WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION

On Breakfast With Frost today was no less a luminary than Alastair Campbell, the government's former head of communications. (Spin doctor.)

He said that communicating was essential through the noise of 24 hour media. He said it was a government's job to communicate.

He told us that Blair and Brown were the very A-team of politics, and loads of countries would have liked to have them for their own.

Next week on Breakfast With Frost: Yes - Michael Moore's friend and yours... the President of the United States of America - oh you know who I mean... him. [Breakfast With Frost is broadcast on BBC1 at 9am GMT on Sundays.]


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Saturday, November 08, 2003

WEEKEND SPECIAL

You ask - we answer.


Following the tragic stabbing to death of a schoolboy in England this week, worried parent Anji sends in this question...
"After half term, a new girl started at Olivier's school. She had to leave the last one because she stabbed another girl. I'm torn between being a worried parent and ex teacher of kids with problems. She does have the right to an education. What do you think?
Thanks for that one Anji. Quite a dilemma there - it's a wisdom of Solomon thing. Why isn't she at a school for young offenders?

Over to you, o wise and wonderful NB readers...



And finally Don't miss Nigel's forty quid haircut. Or was it all a dream?


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Friday, November 07, 2003

THAT MTV AWARDS CEREMONY, THEN...

Around lunchtime I headed Village-wards to get a fix of the latest goss. Brian was there, and Ms Dean, both very excited to be working in the Ocean Terminal for a night, catering for the stars' after-show party. "They've even built a poolroom in the place," Ms Dean informed me. "David likes a game of pool."

"David who?" I asked. "Bowie," he said, then turned to find his drink.

Brian eagerly showed me the revised mall-plan for the night. They had indeed taken over the entire Ocean Terminal Mall for a wee bash for the slebs. A little knees-up Mother Brown. Then he showed me a copy of his barman's contract. Staff shall not approach celebrities or their guests for autographs. Shall not speak to celebrities except in a service manner. No cameras, natch. Or mobile phones. Shall not speak, drink or smoke.

"What about the celebrities' buckets of cocaine?" Roddy the tree surgeon interjected, and we laughed. I'm delighted for Brian and Ms Dean that this came their way, as they both buy into the celebrity thing. They'll genuinely adore it, and dine out for absolutely ages, darling.



To Newhaven harbour then, to get some rays. It's an afternoon suntrap. Pint in the Harbour Arms where I met a man with no legs. He was smoking enthusiastically however, and I wondered if there'd been some cause and effect. Sometimes when I was a smoker myself I'd look sadly at my own Betty Grables and wonder how much longer I would have them. How much longer before gangrene set in. But I digress.

Following the sun led me naturally to the Western Harbour for a last afternoon look at the awards tent - the biggest big top ever built, apparently.

In my dreams.

Every approach, every stairway down from the road was fenced off and guarded by security crew. No point in arguing, I thought, looking around for a pinned-up council notice, but there was none. All along the Newhaven road were big yellow signs, trying to look legal, saying "road closed left, taxi pick-up and put-down only."



At the MTV Tent roundabout you couldn't get moving for Rocksteady goons. Exercising (what I thought was) my right to walk the public streets I directed my feet tentwards, but it was no good. Instantly stopped by three of them.

"Do you have any legal right to do this?" I demanded. "Who do you work for? The council, the police, or MTV?"

"MTV," one of them replied, smiling. "Just doing our job, sir," another said. I was furious. Impotently raging.

Homewards then, without intent, back along Commercial Street. Once again - loads of lights, cameras and screaming young action at the Commplex. A limo pulled up and three young black men got out. Scream! Scream! Scream! "Who is it?" this guy my own aged asked me. "No idea, pal," I replied. "The last black group I listened to was The Supremes." He backed away.

Past The Shore where The Lighthouse was being done up like a film set for Puff Daddy's private party. (It's a club, not a lighthouse! And The Shore is a street, not a shore.)

I counted five lighting vans. Clearly the official "do" at the mall didn't appeal to Mr Daddy's sensibilities - or maybe he hadn't heard that Brian and Ms Dean would be there! He'd not only hired the entire venue, but demanded they strip out all their furnishings and replace them to his taste.

How cool. How very ghetto.



Passing Bar Java I saw Tony my IT manager chatting to the lovely Rena, so I thought I'd nosey in and get some more gossip. Alice was at the computer writing her own MTV blog entry. You can read it here, but be aware she's only just turned six. Tony said he and Alice were planning to go and stand outside the tent and watch the stars arrive, but I told him there was no chance of that. You couldn't even see the entrance from any direction. "But they can't block off the public highway!" Tony protested, probably correctly. "Don't do it, Tone!" I said. "You'll just get hit, and it'll only upset Alice."

Six women came in, dressed as bottles of IRN BRU. (Your other National Drink.)



And then home, to treat the entire thing with the contempt and indifference it surely deserves. But not before being subjected to some appalling bad manners in the Port, leading to the first of my winter rages. (Customers, not staff, I hasten to add.) Not good. Although I did get a hug off Big Straight Al.

We don't have much money, but we do see life.


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Thursday, November 06, 2003

ELEVEN SCREENFULS

Well, that was fun. (Yesterday's Radio Scotland Blogday.)

Funny how things sometimes just slip into place.

There was supposed to be some sort of Guy Fawkes input to the day, yet until 7pm I'd none at all. And then I took my (middle-class, middle-aged) life in my hands and walked past the Fort housing gulag and saw their bonfire.

And the rest, as they say, is legend. How close was I to Beyonce? About 20 metres. How exciting was that? Re-arrange "at all not". The tragedy is that the kids are getting the impression that MTV actually matters, rather than simply being a device for separating teenagers from their pocket money. And it's middle-aged toss-pots who're doing this. Edinburgh is like Disneyland right now. Everyone's lost their marbles!



Dearie me. Will I ever stop banging on about the global exploitation of the people? It just seems to take over me. Maybe it's because I can remember something different.

Now - today is another sunny day, and I'm out of here. Blog off :)
Oh - don't forget to nominate your least-loved TV personality. So far we've got Jonathan Ross, Paul (?) Schofield, Anne Robinson, Michael Buerk, Natasha Kaplinsky, Dermot Murnaghan, Richard Madeley, Lawrence Llewellen Bowen, Linda Barker, Carol Smillie, Gary Rhodes, Trevor MacDonald, Andrew Neill, David Frost, Loyd Grossman, Trisha, Terry Wogan, Jim Davidson, Graham Norton, Robert Kilroy Silk, Tom Paulin.
Nice (not!) bunch there already, but feel free to add more to your taste! Then I'll put the poll together.


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Wednesday, November 05, 2003

ALIVE!
[ The afternoon and evening are here. Orwell's nightmare. ]
Overture and warmup 9am

As the years go on - and in my case almost 57 of them - there are certain little thoughts that constantly recur. Like alive. That one happens every morning. Until it doesn't - but that's a blog for another, much hotter place.

Alive gets me out of bed and across to the curtains, where I fling em back and take a wee peep at the sky and Leith Links. And today I can say they're both fine. Another week and there'll be nary a leaf left on the twig.

Alive likes some coffee in the morning. Today it's a choice of Rombouts or Lyons Original. Take the Rombout. Wee bit stronger. Until a few months ago I'd have launched into my morning chain-smoke by now - but that one's thankfully knocked on the head. Dead. Deadhead. I'm gonna live for ever.


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NEWS TODAY, OH BOY

Intermission 9.30

We're meant to tune in to Radio Scotland today and comment on the news, but in truth there'll be only one story and that's the tragic killing of a boy in a school in England. One life ended, and another ruined - for what? I'll bet you a fiver to a brick outhouse that the first boy didn't mean to kill him, but only to frighten and impress.

Video, including Natasha Kaplinsky.

It's at times like this I usually avoid broadcast news, with its tendency to the vulture and the ghoul. Children sometimes kill. They always have, and they always will. It's absolutely awful. But don't make the killers into media stars, please - or you just encourage imitation.

Later, maybe later, there'll be some other news. Like banning fireworks. Now there's a good idea.


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I DON'T WANT MY MTV

Act The First 10am

Here in Sunny Leith all the publicans are rubbing their hands and wetting their wee panties over the MTV award thingie tomorrow. It's quite eclipsed bonfire night!

Yesterday I was chatting to Babs in the pub and she was telling me that The Village, where she works, is catering the exhibition staff for after-show breakfast. Everyone's been allocated a piece of the action, apparently. Apart from the local people - the ones who've paid for the thing and can't get tickets for love nor money.



Knock Knock Neo

The Matrix Revolutions opens today as well. What on earth is the world coming to? Eat, breed, consume. And the telly will teach your kids to do the same. You better believe it.

Oh - and talking of film... guess which one won the Jonathan Ross Film 2003 Worst Ever Movie? You'll easily believe it. The clue is sink.

Now can we have a worst ever chat show poll, s'il vous plait? It's only fair, Jonboy. What goes around comes around.

News Update: 10.30 am Great idea. Jonathan Ross will never run a worst TV personality poll, for obvious reasons.

But we can. Hehe!!

Nominations in the comment box please, for whoever puts your candle out the most on telly. All channels, all genres. Brit TV only please. (Although I'm sure there's a farmyard of turkeys where you are too!) Get it off yer chest!


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OUT TO LUNCH

In Leith we're spoiled for choice for grub these days. Ever since those brave pioneers opened Skipper's in Dock Place - Leith's very first yuppie restaurant - the choice, range and quality have gone through the roof. That business, single-handedly, sparked the entire Leith renaissance. The blue touch paper which twenty years later is giving us tomorrow's MTV fireworks.

Three I adore are The Village, Bar Sirius and Bar Java - all with smashing nosh and priced at a modest five to seven pounds.

Back later, hopefully with some hot gossip! What has Big Straight Al been up to lately? Do not go away!


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ORWELL'S NIGHTMARE

Evensong

Part 1 of 3


A fascinating afternoon - rivetting in parts. Oh - of course I didn't have any lunch! Who needs food when you've got the Biggest Showbiz Event in the discovered universe just hours away?

It all started innocently enough in the Port o Leith bar. Yorkshire Kriss came over and I told him I had no more material for my blogday. That I was scratching in the very gutter for inspiration.

So Kriss started. He told me of the time last week when he and Big Robert had allowed this prostitute woman to have a pee in his house. And how she'd stolen his late mother's eternity ring from the bathroom. "That's shocking, Kriss," I said. "If you do business with a street-walking prostitute - male or female - then you can expect to lose anything that moves. But not when you're just showing kindness. Not when you're only offering a wee."

Finished our drinkies, then me set off to Ocean Terminal Mall, to see what was happening MTV-wise. But I never got that far. Half way along Commercial Street - at the Commplex - what should I see but a load of lights and cameras and crowd. "Must be somebody important," I thought. "Let's take a wee look."

Well, it was Beyonce. Or rather, it wasn't. It was the MTV people trying to whip the young crowd into a frenzy, for when the Great Lady did arrive.

Oh I was there, with my mobile, phoning it in to the BBC - for all the world like Rageh Omaar when the Saddam statue came down. How ironic was that? But Laura at the BBC phoned back to say she loved it and that they would use it. Hmmm.

More...


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Part 2 of 3

To the Ocean Terminal itself then, where half the first level is blanked off for filming. All the businesses closed - bought off for the day, no doubt.

Next floor up were technicians fixing lights - busy busy busy getting the area and sea view lit up for the stars. And behind me at the Ster Cinema The Matrix Revolutions was quietly trying to compete.

So there was little old me - looking forward to nothing more than my pensioner's bus pass - stuck in the middle of the biggest load of showbiz falsehood I've ever seen. It was beyond belief - Hollywood celluloid meets Hollywood popshite - right there live in front of me.

Was I in Leith or Los Angeles? Not one bonnie bank and not one bonnie brae. At least the Iraqis fight back - here we welcome it with open arms.

More...


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Part 3 of 3

It was time to go then... time to head back to the world I more fully understand. Oh - we think we understand MTV and Fox and HBO - but we only kid ourselves. These entities are quite beyond our ken, with incomes and budgets greater than many an actual country. They are Big Money writ bigger than ever - here, in my town, tomorrow and then to fuck off forever.

I wandered down North Fort Street, past the Fort housing complex, an EC-designated area of multiple deprivation. I saw the kids in a waste area, with their Guy Fawkes bonfire... baseball caps saying NYC which they will never get anywhere near, and homes full of records by Beyonce, P Diddy and Fifty cent.

These are the people who are paying for the lights and cameras and the biggest concert tent ever in the world I'd just been looking at. These kids - who will die from knife wounds or drugs long before they're forty, or even from guns if our US invasion keeps going.

The contrast couldn't be more stark. Spark, spark, spark went the bonfire! Bang up in smoke went these youngsters' hopes and dreams. That the life they see paraded in front of them on their TV's can never ever be theirs. That burglary, drug dealing and prostitution are the only avenues even remotely more fiscally rewarding than the dole queue.

I want my MTV. Thank you if you've read this far. It isn't usually as bad as this.


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Tuesday, November 04, 2003

GROUND CONTROL

I shouldn't be sitting here, writing to you like this. In three hours time my ass belongs to BBC Radio Scotland for a day.

I did warn you.

Now what am I going to say to these lovely (local) people? Be yourself, is the exhortation. Plus listen to the News and comment on that!

I can't take this seriously. Just can't. Doomed forever to the smartass column.



But there's no harm in trying. I wouldn't have offered if there wasn't a little to give. So do wish me well, as I'm nervous - in an unusual way. I know there's something hanging on this... if not for me, then for others to come.

Good luck and much joy to all the participants. I have no doubt whatever that it'll be great. Stunningly great.


And you say? (6)   Link to this



AND THE WINNER IS...

Thanks to all who took part in our Tory Leadership Contest. The votes are now counted, and I can declare that a clear winner has emerged. There will be no need for expensive Florida court cases, novels by Michael Moore nor any other such thing in this constituency. Here are the results, in reverse order.
  • In fourth place came Nigel. Sadly Nigel lost his job during election week, so was unable to press the flesh as effectively as he might have done. The Straight White Male candidate.
  • In third position was Mike, who ran a vigorous campaign from his headquarters in Gay Paree. Clearly his promise of good table manners and seating plans for dinner didn't quite square with his exhortation to constantly interrupt once you got there.
  • Runner-up this time was Quickos. "A vote for Quickos, is a vote to spread love, to all people, regardless of their age, race or gender. " Very nicely put. But I fear there was a little doubt about the land that Quickos might install a puppet government.
  • And the winner is... Yes, you guessed it - with 42 percent of the popular vote - the one and only Zed! Ta-da!!! I seem to have lost Zed's election promises, if indeed she ever made any. So that gives her a clean sheet from which to work. But I do know she speaks French far better than Ted Heath, and has much nicer hair than Thatcher.
  • Well done, gorgeous. I'm just thinking of your prize, but it will include Penguins. Cheers m'dears to the candidates for being such good sports, and to all who voted. More elections in the pipeline.


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    TRENDSETTING

    On October 30 we first mentioned Mah Jonng here on NB, and a few days later it pops up on MBIAT also. So what should I see on a Blogspot banner today? You guessed it - two Mah Jonng games. Yet Mah Jonng wasn't even mentioned on that site, The Daily Linguini. (I searched with CTRL-F just to make sure.)

    It's extremely creepy the way they contextualise online adverts. And spam. Orwell wasn't wrong, just twenty years too soon.

    And Santa is completely old hat these days too, I guess. You no longer send him a letter - he already knows exactly what you want. We've sold our privacy down the line for a Doom Game, folks. So - just for fun, by way of an experiment, we could all start mentioning totally obscure things and watching them pop up. Beats watching paint dry!

    Here's my offering: South Park DVD's. I really want some South Park DVD's. I was chatting in the pub and we decided that if I bought some South Park DVDs then I could loan-barter them for other interesting DVDs. So South Park DVDs are the way to go.

    Let's see what the adbots make of that!


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    TREASON AND PLOT

    If Naked Blog seems a little formal, somewhat stilted, over-explanatory tomorrow, then just roll with the punch, s'il vous plait. We're going to be on the radio! That's real radio, not a 10 Watt Community creation!

    Yes - it's a fascinating experiment to raise blog awareness here in Scotland, but only for one day... Guy Fawkes. And the results won't be broadcast until December, so for now you need do nothing. All I'm saying is that if it looks more like a radio script than a blog tomorrow, please bear with us. You know I'd do the same for you...
    Thinks: How to make this internationally-famous blog more Scottish?
    Sings: "Roamin in the gloamin, with a lassie by my side..." Or "By yon bonnie banks, and by yon bonnie braes..."
    Of course this being Leith I could always nip out and score some Class A's and shoot up. I don't know... the possibilities are endless. (We're actually instructed to behave perfectly normally, but - let's face it - how interesting would that be? Normality in media is a carefully-constructed facade. Compare the Royle Family, where it works, with the hysteria of E/Enders and Corrie where it doesn't.)
    [Ed: Watch it dude... you're starting to lose it a bit... many media eyes will be reading this. You know what you get like with too much attention. And lay off the goddam booze for a day why doncha?]
    Fun, fun, fun.


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    Monday, November 03, 2003

    READY FOR MY CLOSE UP, MRS MORIARTY

    To a public meeting in Constitution Street yesterday about a possible future permanent Radio and TV station for Leith. Mary was there, and Tony my IT manager producer, and most of the team from Leith FM in June this year.

    Great meeting - very well run by Margaret Wright, and attended by twenty to thirty budding Richard and Judys. They were hanging on our every word about the Leith FM. Stardom at last, darlings. Enhanced with experience.



    To the Port O Leith afterwards, where John Paul McGroarty invited me over to chat furtner to Danielle Milne, who'd volunteered to be convener. A personable young woman, she soon attracted the attention of Yorkshire Kriss who joined us, and who said he was going to get Big Robert also. "Big Robert is a film producer," I said to Danielle before he came. "And women say he's the best shag in the universe."

    Danielle looked a bit startled at that - somewhat decomposed. "Oh sorry, honey!" I explained. "This is the Port O Leith - we're never formal for more than five minutes." John Paul laughed also. "I see," she said, looking a touch relieved, and then turned and started chatting to the best shag in the universe as if nothing had ever happened. Carried it off well, I thought. I would have gone to pieces, me.



    Readers new in these parts may, if they wish, sample a flavour of our entry into old media (community radio) here and below. Just six months ago, but it seems like half a lifetime! Maybe time doesn't always fly past so quickly.


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    THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU

    It was a joy to watch The Exorcist on Saturday night, in this its thirtieth year. My how time flies when you're enjoying yourself!

    It's impossible for my younger readers to imagine just how much that film shocked the world on its release. I know now it's been so copied, so lampooned, that much of the terror has gone. And viewing in the safety of your home, with advert breaks included, is not the most scary of media. But still I was able to recapture that frisson of the seventies, as I was explaining to Babs last night. She's been pretty poorly, with kidney trouble.



    "I'm terrified of it," she confessed over a pint of strong lager. "From the minute that noise starts shaking in the attic I'm out of there!" So I started to tell her about the first cinema release. I went along with a couple of friends to the ABC in Lothian Road. Sandy was there, and Florrie Forbes the news reader. Maybe some others. Home video wasn't invented then.

    Outside the cinema there was a line of ambulances, and in the foyer everyone got a card saying, "If you find yourself emotionally disturbed after watching The Exorcist, please phone this number." Inside there were ambulancemen at the back and arranged round the sides. "What the hell's going on?" I said to Sandy, anxiously. "This is all a bit over the top - it's only a bloody movie, for fuck's sake." Unsettling though - very unsettling. Even the Dalai Lama would have had trouble staying calm at that point.



    The cinema was packed, tense, full of people wanting to be scared totally shitless. And they were. From the moment Regan (Linda Blair - by now a totem of terror) started going "downhill" there was the steady thump thump thump of people passing out and landing on the floor. One guy in our own row hit the deck, and got ladled along to the edge like a flour sack. Grown man, we jessies said to each other. Us queens have got guts.

    We'd all read the book, of course. Heard of the green vomit - and the head rotating. But still nothing prepared us for the force that came from the screen and loudspeakers. Friedkin made a masterpiece.



    Sometimes it's the little things that help so much. Just after the first "pea souper", where Regan projectile-vomits over Father Damien, there's a cut to a strange passage of her mother ironing in silence downstairs, watched by the Priest.

    Why that sudden end to the horror? I can only imagine it was to allow the audience to calm down, to stop bouncing on their seats, and saying to their pals, "Oh fuck, that's terrible!"

    Simply the best. A tour de force of its time - whatever has happened since.



    BUT THIS IS NOW

    It was a joy of a different kind to watch Very Annie Mary last night. Rachel Griffiths turns in another masterly performance as Annie, a Welsh girl who's a bit "simple" as they called it in my day.

    But there's nothing "my day-ish" about Very Annie Mary. Bang up to date, and - for my overseas readers - a better picture of British life than any amount of hysterical soaps. See it, if you haven't already. I'll happily refund your money if you hate it! (Just kidding!)

    Startling moment: There I was checking Griffiths' filmography, looking for Hilary and Jackie, when what should I stumble on but Six Feet Under, where she was Brenda. Well that settles it then. The woman can act her pants off. I watched all of VAM without once thinking of either Hilary du Pre or Brenda.


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    Saturday, November 01, 2003

    JOY LUCK CLUB

    Indebted to Anji of Anjipatchwork for this Mah Jonng site which is head and shoulders above the earlier one. It has no timer (Zed!), and there's kids' levels which teach you the tiles, as it were. It's a stunning design, and has an overhead perspective rather than sideways, which I found tended to crick my neck after a bit.

    The instructions are in French, but that would be no handicap for such a sophisticated international readership.
    The game's very simple, though. You click on matching tiles, which have to be (a) not covered (topped), and (b) able to slide out sideways.


    Thanks for all your kind words yesterday over my present fluey indisposition. Off again today, but after this there are five, yes five non-working days!

    That's not much work, I can hear you thinking. How lazy is that?

    Not at all, my little cherub. It's live to work versus work to live. I've done hard working. Tick, got the t-shirt. (And - somewhat more practically - a house and a pension.) What's left of my (hopefully long) time is for me.

    I used to say the bingo was for beer and fag money, but as I no longer smoke then we're rapidly moving into surplus!



    Watched the ubiquitous Paul O'Grady on Jonathan Ross last night. He was the third guest, after some TV presenter who looked like he'd got there on his stomach, and a young woman from New York who murdered a song to her own piano accompaniment.

    Having triumphed in Blankety Blank, Mr O'Grady's now planning on the Generation Game. Should be good. If anyone can revive an antediluvian format then he's the man. But he still uses nicotine patches and sneaks the odd cig. Dreadful. During the night I dreamt I chewed some nicotine gum. Well, at least that's a change from dreaming about smoking.

    Dreaming about smoking is awful. It's good I've moved onto the gum. Thankfully I never ever dream about sex, or heaven knows what I'd be chewing on.



    Voting closes tomorrow for the Tory Leadership Contest. (Below and right.) At the moment the gorgeous Zed is walking home with the victory. Still time to cook her goose though, if any of the others have got loads of supporters to vote for them.

    Last Poll: ARE you going to enter the Guardian Blog Awards 2003?
  • Yes 24%
  • No 39%
  • Don't qualify 37%
  • This was not one of our busiest polls, with only 38 respondents. Maybe it's all a bit last week already. The deadline for entries is November 21, just to remind you.


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