Yes - it's true. All good things come to my an end. So today it's back to my old ladies at the bingo. Luvvemtobits.
I should have been an old lady you know. Post-retirement society is entirely matriarchal, as the men lose what temporary power they'd owned during the working and child-rearing years. Yes, there are old men, but they're largely irrelevant after sixty. This is also indicated by the male tendency to die off much sooner, saving the tax-payers wads of pension. Plus most of them can't shag any more.
Yesterday I was bemoaning the things I hadn't done during my short holiday... wash, clean etc. But I never got round to saying what I actually had done. Which is - as always - drink, think and talk. And write the distillation here of course to you.
Why I always belittle this aspect of my life I don't know. There must be some ultra-protestant thing inside me going, "Whip, whip, work, work. Leisure is the devil's craft." Or summat.
I'm sure I'll look back on this as the glory time - ten years from now when I'm stuck in some council-run slum of a retirement home/workhouse, with a sadistic, queeny male nurse who won't change my incontinence pad early enough, and refuses to take my plate away until I've eaten all the sprouts. Oh yes - it'll be here soon enough. I can see it just like tomorrow. Taunting and torturing my one last memory cell with tales of his sexual exploits the night before. With an entire regiment.
Make a great sit-com, the above paragraph, actually. I'd been thinking of teaming up with one of the more gifted of the current blog-youngsters to pen some sort of Steptoe and Grandson thing. But of course I'll never get round to it. And you saw it here first.
This morning on BBC Breakfast they were banging on about how "chirpy" Carol the weather girl was, just two days after we said exactly the same thing here. (Jingle Bells, below.)
Naked Blog - the one they all come back to.
Cinema Trivia Quiz
Please help settle an argument. Was the world premiere of The Evil Dead in Edinburgh or not? I say yes - Sci-Fi Gordon says no. That it was in Glasgow. (And he's got a book about it.) A bottle of mid-priced wine is hanging on the result.
Late extra. While researching The Evil Dead (fans are called Deadites, btw.), I chanced on this journal from Josh Becker, who worked on the second unit sound and lighting. It looks very interesting, if you can get past the irony of a journal about a film about a journal. (Shades of BWP also!)
Oh, and the reason I'm convinced the World Premiere was in Edinburgh is that I was there - at the Edinburgh Filmhouse. Sam Raimi also, who made a short speech. These are not ideas which easily fabricate themselves. But well... Sci-Fi Gordon is straight, and don't straight men just have to be right - eh girls?
Heavens this is turning into a horror flick fanzine! Read about Franz Ferdinand here. The Guardian reviewer seems mildly surprised at their accomplishment, but - once again - he could have read about them first here. The reason FF are supreme is that they are musicians, rather than music industry product. Surely that isn't rocket science. Despite the best efforts of the record industry to destroy their own wares, there are sufficient gifted and driven young people to prevent that ever happening.
Very interesting couple of hours in The Village yesterday, discussing the theory and practice of weblogging with Gav, who works in aerospace. He was particularly interested in readership and patronage.
In fact - I've met a whole handful of fascinating folk over these last two weeks. Maybe that's what holidays are really for.
Well - this is it, day 11/11 of my winter holiday, and what have I achieved? On the surface, very little. No dishes washed, rubbish taken out, fridges cleaned, other mundane tasks.
Nor places visited. I don't go in for that much these days, as I'm of the firm belief that when you've seen about a dozen places, spread around a bit, then you've seen the essence of everywhere. Once you've grasped the notions of different money, language and climate then the rest you can get off the telly. Plus sexual mores. (Catholic countries were always best for homosexuality. Less guilt. Keener to get on with it.) And of course, the hotter, the better.
Ireland good. Spain fantastic. I hear Morocco is incandescent, but see (a) above.
BANNS OF MARRIAGE
In a sublime meeting of Shameless and League of Gentlemen, Naked Blog extends every congratulation and good wish for a long and happy future to me pal John Macaulay (the nice one) and his blushing bride to be, who are tying the knot today. Sorry I don't know the lady's name. Turn your back for five minutes and things like this break out.
John is 39, so it's his third wedding. "If at first you don't succeed..." The occasion is in various locations throughout the day, ending tonight at The Commpass (sic) in Commercial Street. And it'll be a right Leith wedding, with screams and tears but hopefully no bloodshed. Lots and lots of recreation.
Spring is in the air also for Big Straight Al and the lovely Rena, now affianced I hear. Congratulations and best wishes.
NB doesn't seem to be invited to today's "do", so I'm afraid any stories will be strictly second hand. But Babs is going along with her fella, and she tells a rare tale. Maybe it's straights only. Or maybe they don't want the local press. Or - probably most likely - I'm just yesterday's washed up goods. An irrelevance in my own lunchtime.
I hate real life anyway. Talking to people. Listening to their effing problems. At least with blogs you get to pick who you mix with! Talking of which, Blorgy is good. It's like a whole new sidebar. Have a nice day... it's sunny!!
Wonder if she's wearing white - would disappear against the snow... just be a face and a bunch of flowers... [Ed: Too many Wes Craven movies...]
The government and the Prime Minister are exonerated.
The BBC has come in for intense criticism.
Andrew Gilligan remains employed.
David Kelly remains dead.
Here's what we wrote in July 2003...
OR WAS HE PUSHED?
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.)
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.
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.* (It wasn't.) I suspect not. I suspect he went way beyond his well-paid and comfortable Civil Servant's career in "briefing" (aka grassing to) 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.
It would be easy - and I understand this - to get the impression that Naked Blog addresses candy-floss issues only. (Life, death, our relationships to each other and to the universe.) That we leave hard news to the big boys such as The Guardian.
This would be wrong. First with all the news here. And questions you'd never even thought of.
SAD people love snow - it's a well-known fact. All that brightness. This must be the most-trailed snow there's ever been, since records began and that lovely Scotswoman got the weather job on BBC Breakfast. Carol, is it?
"Guid MORNING!" she gushes - so happy if it's nice, yet folorn if all she has to offer is stormy weather. I love her.
Here on BBC Scotland all we get is, "Here's the weather with Gail". (You have to say it out loud.) But what can you expect from a country whose fisheries minister is called Ross Finnie? And that's not all. The European director of agriculture and fish is called Franz Fischler. You couldn't make it up. Finnie chats to Fischler, with weather by Gail. No wonder our salmon's deadly poison.
Lots of authors on my sidebar and one step beyond are winning Blog Of The Moment awards on Blorgy.com. I like that award - so transient and ephemeral, reflecting the throwaway nature of our medium - which doesn't even wrap fish and chips very well.
Here at NB we don't go in for popularity contests any more, because - frankly, my dears - we're a bit above that sort of thing. But there was the day...
Bloghop it was called - and still is. Just been checking. You had to persuade 15 people to vote for you, and then you entered the chart - usually at number one, because they're your pals, aren't they... and they all give you maximum points.
But it's tough at the top, and fame is a depreciating asset. Everyone you've displaced with your starring debut gets right jealous, and immediately votes you down, down, down. So day by sad day you watch yourself sliding down the first page, then to the top of page two, which you convince yourself is more advantageous than the bottom of page one, and so on. But it's downhill all the way.
Cheating was everywhere. Remember those tiny coloured bloghop buttons, ranging from green to red? One guy rigged them so they all pointed to a top score for his site. Awesome. Regularly I would comb through all the blogs above me, giving them zero rating. You could rise two pages doing that! (I used some moral judgement here, though. I only did that to adults. Youngsters I left to their hopes and dreams.)
Big softie me. That's why I've never got on.
Right then. Today I've no new movie stuff after yesterday's toe-dip into classic American horror. So instead let me elevate from the comment box these ideas from noodle...
"Horror movies, like all pulp fiction, have always addressed contemporary social issues in much more imaginative ways than the dull old blockbusters. When i was heavily into gore movies in my late teens me and my mate Chris were big fans of Michael Berryman - him and the bloke who plays the Tall Man in the Phantasm movies.
Along with George Romero, Wes Craven is the king of political horror. Hill is fun in a "laugh with the Manson Family" kinda way but i'd particularly recommend Serpent and the Rainbow (zombie flick meets critique of US involvement in Haiti) and People Under the Stairs which is his take on the urban poor and homeless."
Thanks for this and all the contributions! I've learned a lot in the last couple of days. Hooper and Cronenburg are on the Hills Have Eyes DVD also.
MPs who by their actions threaten to bring down their own party and government should be deselected. Nae messin'. As I wrote in a comment box a week or so ago, "This is the best government I can recall in almost sixty years. Would those who disagree kindly list the better ones."
Labour MPs voting against the government are helping Howard on his way to what is inevitable eventually, but please not in my lifetime.
I love this bit. The excitement, the frisson of what to write about today, when there's no clear imperative or direction. The flashing cursor has quite replaced the fresh sheet of paper in the typewriters of antiquity. Whatever did happen to Imperial and Smith Corona?
I used to own one, you know. Smith Corona. Electric typewriter. Probably cost around two hundred quid, more than twenty years ago. A fortune now. That was the one I learned to type on, at a night class. Yes, I was that dedicated!
Soon came my first computer, Amstrad CPC 6128, the next step on from their bound-breaking PCW range. (Remember all those green-screen word processors that sprang up everywhere in the eighties?) But I wanted colour. Sinclair had brought out the Spectrum at that time, but it didn't have proper keys, and by then I was a typist goddammit!
The number 6128 in my machine meant that it had 128 kilobytes of RAM. No hard disc, but an adequate floppy drive. The word processsing program you had to buy separately, from TASWORD. So the routine was
load the TASWORD disc
type your masterpiece
save onto a different floppy
go to pub to silence the voices
convince yourself that some day you'd get published.
(That last bit never happened, to my fiction at least, but the third novel at least attracted thoughtful rejections.) It's about sex, drugs and HIV in Leith. Predated Trainspotting by almost a decade. Still got it, but I'm afraid it's not for giving away free. Too many hours. Too much love. Maybe, just maybe, it'll see some (paid for) electronic light of day some time.
CASHING IN ON NOSTALGIA
Someone else who's recycling his back catalogue is Wes Craven, with a double disc set based on The Hills Have Eyes. If you had any affection for that movie at all you'll love this DVD, and it's at Blockbuster on their cheapo rental shelf.
Remember the scary guy with the pointy head? You thought that was false didn't you?
Michael Berryman really is pointy. And sophisticated - possibly even to the point of camp. As well as the movie (restored as much as they're able, plus a choice of sound playbacks), there are extras galore.
Such as fifty four minutes on the Making of Hills, where you can see Wes Craven for the quiet little man he is.) "When people meet me they expect Charles Manson," he says, ruefully. Some of the other surviving actors appear also.
On the second disc they've got Craven, Carpenter, Romero and others discussing the modern American horror film, and its relation to (their) society's phobias. Romero is superb about Night Of The Living Dead. Plus lots more that I haven't even seen yet.
There are two ways for a blogger to interact with his or her readers. The first, easiest, is when you casually drop into the conversation that your blog exists, and (modestly) how it's just some little thing you toy with in your spare time, and listen, here's the URL, and why don't you look in some time and leave a comment?
That's one way. The other, sometimes more fraught, is when someone reads the weblog first - maybe for weeks and months - and then is told that You Are The One.
Neurosis made flesh.
What can you say? Hello seems barely adequate in the face of the other person's wonder. Am I really that fucked up? Well, yes - sometimes, but not right now. Right now I'm talking to you.
It's a very lovely thing, obviously, but scary. Scary as you stand there thinking just how much of yourself you've poured on to the screen, and that your new companion has read. That's why we rarely give everything. Or at least, I don't. What think you?
Another Kubrick In The Wall...
Thanks a bunch for all your Stanley Kubrick and Trevor Horn comments yesterday. (Post below.) Very interesting. Today I'm keen to hear you on the Craven ouevreand the horror movie as social commentary.
It's meant to be getting cold. Really cold. This must be the most-trailed arctic blast there's ever been, but today it's just a damp squib. I thought the deal was that we got the cold air, but SUN AS WELL. No sign of that at the moment. Cloud, cloud, cloud. Hate it.
In the absence of any invitations whatever apropos yesterday's Burns night (a small local celebration - not a patch on the Golden Globes), I stayed in and watched the telly for a change. And what a night!
And what a list! It had me creaming my pants, I can tell you... Lamont Dozier, Neil Sedaka, Ray Charles, Brian Wilson, Phil Everly, Mary Wilson... the list went on and on. There were interviews and song clips, climaxing in an extended lecture from me old schoolmate Trevor Horn, who got almost more time than the above put together.
(Trevor Horn - the voice of Video Killed the Radio Stars, producer of Feed The World, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, etc, etc.) The only famous person (apart from moi) ever to leave that school. He even gets a namecheck on GTA Vice City. (Heavens - they're wanting stories about him!)
He's a small thing, in real life. Short. Played the double bass in the school orchestra, and had to reach up to it, which amused us all. Thick glasses, then as still now. Me, I was the leader, wasn't I? First violin. And just look how we both got on.
But how interesting he was last night! Records are too perfect these days, Trevor Horn said. No-one's ever out of tune, as the computer can shift pitch by up to an octave, undetectably. Session singers are on everything. Every glowing boyband note will be a confection of up to sixteen voices, unseen, uncredited. Just there, to supply what the star hasn't got. They played some Westlife, to demonstrate, and I could swear I was hearing sixteen voices.
Eyes Wide Shut
Finished it last night, and I can't beat about the bush. It's awful. Horrible. Among the worst films I've ever seen.
Oh, they tried to bum it up a bit in the press, what with Kubrick dying (doesn't everyone - eventually?) but oh my god it's a turkey. Cruise is a pretty face and seventies hairdo, dead ringer for ... what's that gay porn star called? (Phil Thrust?) Kidman isn't even those. Oh dear. I'll stop now, as I think you've got my drift.
It's in the light of monstrosities like this that we maybe should reconsider Kubrick's contribution. I mean - apart from Clockwork Orange, what did he really do?
2001 is impenetrable twaddle. Full Metal Jacket is OK until the guy gets blasted in the shower, but then it plummets downhill faster than a screenwriter on speed. Not a patch on Platoon. Have I missed any out?
Well, that's maybe it for now, NB-fans! Today's to-do's include a haircut from the divine Jane of Leith Walk Traditional Barbers, who for a small tip is happy to do my eyebrows as well. She even runs the clippers over the ears, snipping at those stray white hairs which sneak up on you undetected, and almost give the game away.
Old age! I love it, me. And if I'd had to choose between being Kubrick or being Horn, I think I know which one I would have picked. Have a lovely day, wherever you are.
Did you see them last night? The moon and Jupiter - round about tea-time. Or was it Mercury? Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference at that distance.
But there they were, hanging [insert poncey adjective] over the Princes Street sky, making a stunning accompaniment to the floodlit castle. My gob was smacked, I can tell you. But the people didn't notice - eyes fixed firmly ahead, phones fixed firmly on ears. There seems to be a culture arising that anything - anything - is better than what's right in front of you. How sad. It wasn't just a Kodak moment, it was a "flag moment", as I burbled to Gwen once I got on the bus home.
She's off to Budapest today, with Reuben. I told her that tomorrow's promised arctic air has got Budapest written all over it. "I didn't want to go to Prague," she said, sensibly. "It's just so touristy these days. Plus everyone's been there and would bore me to tears telling me what to see and do."
Gwen is 25. How the young do get about! Me, I still find a trip to Princes Street exciting! Do update your blog, sweetness, so all your new fans can keep in touch. It's fun to read the holiday blogs of people you like and respect.
Other than that, not much to report. Yesterday's blend of downtown and uptown worked so well I'll probably repeat it today. Climbed every mountain. Well, there only is one (Castle Hill, the steep way) - but it was good to stride manfully up there aged 57, knowing I was older than everyone else on the path put together. Nae mince. Sometimes I get amazed at my own splendour.
Literacy Poll. With more than sixty votes now (thanks to all who took the half second), a clear pattern has emerged. Exactly one third "couldn't care less" about weblog literacy, leaving two thirds who presumably could. The majority were in the middle band of "somewhat important", but noodle counselled they might well have been "snobby gets" not wanting to vote for the Penelope Keith option.
(That's twice I've mentioned that woman in as many days, and I'm aware younger readers won't have a dinkies who she is. Penelope Keith is a fine actress who specialised in middle and upper class roles in seventies sitcoms - notably The Good Life and To The Manor Born. Her characters were a quite brilliant fusion of writing and performance.)
Talking of brilliance, I was blown away by Sugar Hill on BBC 1 last night. Oh. My. God. Time and again I was thinking, "This is what cinema is meant to be. Things can't get any better than this. This is too painful to watch. This is so black. So drug. So hopeless. So real."
Then I fell asleep, as you do at that time of night when you're over fifty. Why o why do they put the great things on so late?
They're talking of putting people on Mars by 2030. I pray I'm spared to see and understand it, then I can die happy. What would my grandad have thought?
The poetry has an interesting culture, as Melvyn Bragg revealed in The Adventure of English. At that time it was the fashion in Edinburgh Court and Society to imitate the speech of London and the south of England. But Burns put paid to that at at stroke by writing his poetry in "Braid Scots". (Broad Scots.) That's the main reason he's still loved, I think - the Irvine Welsh of his day.
One of my favourites is To A Mouse (1785), which you can read and hear here. Isn't the internet wonderful?
(I think that's a fragment from a Chris Rea song. Remember him? Perhaps better not!)
Because it's sunny today, the first clear sky since my holiday began on Monday! Sadly I've had to labour under a 100 percent cloud cover every day so far, but today it's go, go, go! We're warned that on Monday there's to be cold. Extreme cold. Not so much cold front as a Thai chicken deepfreeze.
Isn't it awful about this bird flu, btw? I was under the impression that all flu epidemics came from Hong Kong birds, but clearly not. Almost as much as flu I hate TV announcers who bleat on and on about chickin. It's not chickin; it's chicken. If I want EastEnders, I will switch on EastEnders. (I don't, of course. Totally schemie.)
Oh, and talking of schemies, that Channel Four thing, Shameless, has popped its clogs for me. Episode two was pretty damn hopeless, the only funny thing being when dad disappeared and everyone in the room pulled out their own mobile phone to enquire about him. But that wasn't enough laughs for a whole hour.
Sticking in critic mode, after my abortive attempts to "get into" Pirates of the Caribbean, I had considerably more success yesterday with Queen of the Damned, starring Stuart Townsend and Aaliyah. All good, comic-strip fun, with loads of bloodfest and burning vamps. Think "Buffy with a bigger budget". Recommended. (Oh and the music's quite good too, if you've got a decent system. Names like Jonathan Davis, Stasis, Marylin Manson, Linkin Park - most of them new (ish) to me. There are nice extras on the DVD where they all get to pitch their spiel.)
This was my first and last experience of Aaliyah, now quite dead, it seems. Shame. And yesterday I also got part way through Eyes Wide Shut. Why on earth I took that out of Blockbuster I can't imagine, as Tom Cruise has all the acting skills of a hungry house mouse. Shit everywhere.
Right. Time this little piggie went to market. Maybe I'll check out the Goths in Cockburn Street - see if any of them want to appear in my next vampire movie. (Cockburn Street is Goth Central - they all hang about there and pose.) My pal Stuart works in one of the clothes shops, and tells me one or two of them are not above a little shoplifting! (Black clothes only, natch.)
And none of this is to be confused with Coburg Street in Leith, where they build totally unsuitable housing blocks and prostitutes walk the walk. Very BDJ, but less expensive. I guess everyone has to look down on someone, as philosophised here only yesterday...
Thanks for voting in my sidebar poll. There's still time to make a difference! Learn how to write good horror stories here. (At your own risk. I haven't checked it out - my writing is horrifying enough already.)
"Oh, you know... poofs, blacks... that sort of thing," Gordon the famous author replied, barely lifting his attention from his Compaq palmtop. (BTW: next time you read Judge Dredd in the Metro - it's our Gordon wot wrote it. Simply awesome.)
"What if you're a black, schemie poof?" I wondered out loud. "Who would you look down on then?"
ITS AN OUTRAGE!
Someone's opened a blog with almost the same URL as this one, except sporting a hyphen between naked and blog. (Do NOT attempt to visit there from this page, puhleeze.) And what pearls of literary confection do you find there? What gems of wisdom culled from almost sixty years aboard this ghastly planet?
Well I can tell you. You can order sex dolls. And pictures of chicks with dicks. (At this point panic overcame my curiosity, and I had to run screaming to the bathroom cabinet for a tranquilliser.) Too, too much for a white lady.
We may be down, but not yet out, however. Search on Google for naked blog, and you'll find us at positions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 9. Plus a (glowing) review , by Carrie, from more than two years ago at position ten. I think you could say we've got naked blogness pretty well sewn up! Not bad for a dotty old thing like moi.
"OK then class, everyone put their spliffs out now, and take out your spelling books."
What am I on about?
Well, I can tell you. Not sure today whether to do cannabis (as featured on BBC Breakfast, with the divine Natasha Kaplinsky wearing black leather trousers) (pants), or grammar and spelling, as featured in a couple of my sister blogs lately.
Me, I tend far more to Noodle's position. So many blogs are sprinkled with GPS (grammar, punctuation and spelling) errors, that to deny myself them would cut out some excellent reading. You'll see on the sidebar blogs a range of "correctness" from absolute to absolutely shaky. But I love em all, or they wouldn't be there. The funniest thing is people criticising others' GPS while at the same time dotting their own material with such. (And no - of course I don't mean you!)
Here at NB there's hopefully a pleasing mix of formality, modern usage and slang. And sentence fragments.
My bro-in-law, who writes light fiction for a good living, advises to stick to conventional sentence structure (subject, verb, object) most of the time - so that when you do deviate, it makes more of an impact. Or summat. But this is a blog, not a book. A blog is far closer to a column in structure. Isn't it? Plus we got bold. Makes a huge difference, although it can lead to laziness.
The principal error I see around the place remains its/it's. So damn easy, (shurely?) yet so many highly intelligent folk can't seem to cope. This astonishes me. Definately. (That latter is the second error!)
But what about cannabis? Yes, I'd re-classify it. As Class A. Fling a few middle-class people in jail, the way they did with the Rolling Stones in the sixties, and then maybe we'd get a healthier society.
Cannabis psychosis. I've seen more than one friend crippled for life with this, and it's not a pretty sight. Glad I saw the light and stopped. (The day I couldn't remember the address I'd lived at for my first eighteen years.)
Just tried - for the second time - to watch Pirates of the Caribbean (first time here), and I confess I still haven't a clue. Ten minutes I sat there, while a boy died, a girl stole his pirate necklace, then she was older, then an older boy brought her dad a sword, then they fancied each other, then Monsieur Depp arrived for what I've heard was a bravura performance.
And how much of this was a narrative? Something that you understood and followed? Zero seconds. Nil point.
Sorry - I'm too long in the tooth to get sucked in to that. If a movie demands that you've read something or that someone tells you what it's about in order to follow the story, then it's a bad movie. Full stop.
The only BAFTA Pirates of the Caribbean should get is one for confusion.
NOON UPDATE Thanks to all for your comments below. This one, from noodle, I have to elevate for the best simile I've heard since similes began...
"The best i can say of potc is that it's mildly amusing and gareth out of the office is in it. It's also at least half an hour too long and leaves you feeling cheap,greasy and used, like a bucket of kentucky fried chicken."
Just came "home" after being "out" all afternoon. It's exactly six thirty. Been talking to people since two thirty.
Four hours. Out of twenty-four. That's not a lot.
Not what I really planned for, studied or envisaged. When I was young.
Maybe you share the feeling, the loneliness. Maybe you too are trapped in the modern, urban existence of compulsory solitude. The feeling that if you haven't got a fuck-chum by now, then it's bye-bye company also.
Do you have that? I know some of you have, because I can read through your weblogs like a mirror. A mirror of my own vague hopes and dreams so wantonly dashed. I never thought it would be like this.
So sad. So very much waste. So much mediocrity and my God I'm almost there.
Almost a mathematician. Almost a musician. Almost a cosmologist. Almost a great teacher. Almost a writer. Almost even a man.
I think, on my epitaph, they maybe should write, "The Almost Man".
Except I'll never have one. Epitaph, I mean. For me it'll be the council workers in their bio-suits, hosing down the home and squirting the rats. And maggots. For that is my end to be. Alone again, naturally. Almost someone's friend - but never quite.
For you, like me, there is simply no alternative. Grasp it and defend it. It is your birthright.
A "senior moment" is what my bingo ladies call it when you either say something you didn't mean, or completely forget what it was you wanted to say.
I had a lot of them yesterday, in the Village. That blind panic when in the middle of a sentence you suddenly have no fucking idea who the actor was you can see so clearly in your mind. Or when you want to ask for Mini Cheddars and end up saying Media Cheddars - because you've just been reading the Guardian about the Barclay brothers media interests. Things like that.
Alastair the owner had to come to my rescue several times. But you learn techniques to cover it up.... wave your hands about.... say things like, "You know, the one who was in... blah blah blah." Try to look calm while you're secretly shitting yourself. Rehearse your statements before you speak. Movies are the worst thing - so many damn people involved. Books are manifestly easier!
Because it comes to us all, eventually, you know. What with mad cow, passage of time, assorted recreationals (discontinued, mainly for this reason), al'k-hol and heaven knows what else, the grip on reality is sometimes too tenuous for my liking.
Plus we live far too long these days. People were never meant to go on to fifty and beyond. Rather we should all get munched by lions when no longer able to escape. What possible use to evolution are old people?
Watched the first third or so of A Simple Plan , by Sam (Evil Dead) Raimi on telly last night. It looked very good. I love films with lots of snow in them... Fargo was almost orgasmic for me. So I got to postulating it must be a Coen brothers movie... Snow 2. Then I elided to Blood Simple, which is Coen, but which I always confuse with Amateur, by Hal Hartley - for no good reason I can think of, except maybe I saw them both during my druggiest period.
So you see what I mean about Senior Moments? It's a nightmare.
Movie Quiz: Name the only actor to have been killed by a Terminator, an Alien and a Predator.
THREE WAY SPLIT
All these new entertainment gadgets I'm accumulating are putting a strain on my (rather senior) telly's input modules. SCART, to coin a phrase. (And no, I haven't a clue what it means either. To do so would be terminally sad.) In, out, in, out, wobble and disappear. I needed a splitter.
So I nipped into Comet last night, where a very helpful assistant, on probably little more than the minimum wage, directed me away from the thirty quid gadgets and onto a 9.95 three-way scart socket by Gamester. Excellent.
It's got a button on the front for each input, which means you have to rise from your seat to press them. (The shock.) But - when you think about it - you generally have to rise from your seat anyway, to put the disc in. And too many remotes are making us all obese. Among other things. It's a medical fact.
If you scroll down the yellow sidebar today, you'll see we've reached 200 days sans the deadly weed. Yay me. And Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking.
If you scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on the blue symbol, you'll see the sort of traffic spike you can get by simply not being a Bloggie finalist. What happened to the finalists I can only imagine!
PS One of them popped into yesterday's comment box! Celebrity Squares!! Anybody know where the long lists of finalists are? I know the judges are meant to keep stumm, but some people just can't keep a secret!
In a unique double-decker of delight, what should pop onto my screen this morning, but both the Bloggies and the BAFTA nominations!
The BAFTAs I'll leave to those better qualified to comment, and the Bloggies place this contender, as usual, nowhere.
Ah well. Some day my prince will come. What we do have is the usual list of suspects, Wil Wheaton, Kottke, etc. One British blog turns up all over the place, even in a category I would have thought it particularly unsuited. Whatever. Interesting too that neither CCC nor BDJ *(error: see comment box below) have any showing, indicating a pronounced shift away from the Guardian judging. Although my sensors do detect some "Guardian effect" here and there.
I think you'll find a considerable amount of interest in that nomination list, and thanks to Nikolai Nolan once again for his great efforts. (Not finished yet, of course.)
Me, I won't be voting, as I very sincerely feel that "other weblogs are a mistake." (Except yours of course, sweetness.) Plus, with only four days off work a week I barely don't have time to keep up with the ones I already know and love.
And PS: Overlooking Troubled Diva and Kill Your Boyfriend shows the entire process for the farce it is. Nevertheless, I'll maybe glance at one or two of the nominees later and pass on my pearls to you. I'm an irrelevance, though. It's official.
Bloggie Update 11 am: Lots of inside info from judge mike in the comment box below, with nice news about zed, one of my own nominees.
Customer to me, last night: "You're fucking useless."
Me to customer: "And you're fucking rude."
Be interesting to see if I still have a job today. (Those who pay attention will recall my earlier writings about the robust nature of bingo society!)
I've just finished watching an hour-long BBC2 show about Vivien Leigh. Quite interesting, more in terms of her illness and breakdowns than in the acting references, an art I don't hold in the greatest esteem, as you know.
Constantly the commentators referred to her "manic depression" as they called it. Sounded more to me like a severe case of prescription poisoning. Uppers and downers (amphetamine and barbiturate) were all the rage then, and ruined many a good life, including my late mother's. I know more than I wish to of what I speak.
Oh, and they gave her so much ECT it burned her face. And you wonder why I say, "Doctors make you worse."
That's it for now, although I could be back here within the hour, P45 clutched in my sweaty hand. And still in time for Sunday Brunch at The Village!
Interested also to see on BBC News24 that Japan is sending troops to Iraq - the first time that country's been in a combat situation since the end of the Second World War. Clearly there's an identifiable market for Playstation 2 and the Honda Accord. (Or am I just an old cynic?)
No - of course I'm not. War is the ultimate consumption. The Corporations love it. And Bush is their Weapon of Mass Destruction - the dollar made flesh. (Heavens - sometimes I get amazed at my own brilliance! Wasted in bingo, I tell you - wasted!)
Vividly I remember Pearl Harbour...
Ed: Shut the fuck up, why doncha. You know you weren't born until 1946 - the same year as Harold Shipman.
Me: Really! I never knew that. But he looks so much older than me...
Ed: Guilt, darling. Guilt.
Oh - thanks for all your movie and restaurant recommendations yesterday! I'll try to fit them all in, even if I have to buy new trousers afterwards! (Pants.)
Is anyone still sticking to their New Year resolutions? Get it off your chest here. Especially zed, who gave up booze for no good reason I could ascertain. Me, I haven't smoked one cigarette all year, and I've lost count of the old ladies I've been nice to. I'm sure I'll get my reward in heaven. Wonder if Bush will be there?
Ah well. Can't think of much today. Except maybe to suggest to those who've ever been charged with date rape that next time you get her (or even him) to fill in a sexual consent form. According to yesterday's Metro newspaper, it's very detailed, and a guaranteed turn on as you tick the different activities. How ever did they manage in the cave days?
Failing that, and for my lady readers only, there's this little gadget to bring you to the precipice and keep you there as long as you want. Dispense with all those boorish, smelly, seat-raising males and order your Slightest Touch now. (Thanks to Sarah, who's clearly feeling the pinch a bit down there at Hadrian's Wall.)
From Monday your favourite scribe is on holiday for days on end. (Don't worry - I'm not going anywhere. Never do.) But as it's a little early in the season for lounging on the beach, I feel some cinema and meals out might be in order. Even on me tod.
Readers in the Central Belt, as we call this bit of Scotland (Contains 99 percent of population and pollution - including Harthill Service Station), might be interested in an offer at Zinc Bar and Grill, Edinburgh and Glasgow. You get two courses plus a glass of Piper Heidsieck Champagne for only ten quid. Offer lasts till February 13. Book 24 hours in advance. Before 8 pm only. Eight people maximum.
Don't say Naked Blog overlooks la dolce vita.
And on the big screen are
Lost in Translation, Paycheck, Runaway Jury, The Last Samurai, LOTR: ROTK, Peter Pan, Love Actually, Cold Mountain, Stuck on You, Freaky Friday, Brother Bear, Good Boy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (Isn't that last one kinda eighties?)
That's it folks! Off to eat, drink and be merry.
Oh - there's a stray Maori going around the place. Apparently he's sex on legs, and looking for somewhere to stay. Only yesterday my friend Babs was telling me how he...
Garry from the Fort was in fine form yesterday, regaling me with the intimate, blow by blow description of a young man he'd picked up in the Balfour Bar on Leith Walk. Twenty-two, straight, penniless, and gasping for a drink. A middle-aged queen's dream.
Straight is a fluid condition, however, and when they got back to Garry's house, one thing quite quickly led to another. His new friend was not yet adept at the "topping" procedure, it turned out, (either that or Garry is all dried up these days), so they settled for an act less demanding.
All most enjoyable for both, I'm sure, and in the morning the dude requested Budweiser rather than coffee or breakfast. "He just acted like nothing had happened," Garry declared. "They always do," I replied, sagely. "The alternative is too awful for them to contemplate. But it sinks in eventually."
Oh, the stories I could tell of this town...
...is the title of a new Channel Four drama written by Paul Abbot. It's about a "dysfunctional family", headed by alcoholic dad David Threlfall. Normally I avoid Brit TV drama like the plague, as it's so often an insult to the term. (Martin Clunes? Neil Morrissey? What a pair of wankers. They make me want to vomit.)
But maybe it was the Guinness, or Garry's schemie story earlier, or maybe I've at last achieved "dirty old man" status, but I have to say I found this tale of young English people fucking about at random quite appealing.
Think Friends meets the Royles meets the Simpsons. (But with lots of graphic sex.) It'll run and run.
A rarity yesterday - one of those days when I spoke to no-one at all. Not even you!
Por qua? Was it depression? Well, yes - but not emotional, more meteorological. Every time I considered getting washed and dressed, the heavens opened and the blow job from hell sprang up against my windows. Lashing, I tell you, lashing. The trick was probably to dodge the bad bits, and make it to and from the pub in a dry condition.
Ah - the wonders of being a non-smoker! In my smoking days you had to go out to get supplies, no matter how awful the day, or how ill you were feeling. Those of you still addicted to the weed will know of what I speak.
Having only a little food can be turned into a virtue also. "I know - I'll lose some weight!" And three slices of corned beef plus half a loaf of bread - in a whole day - will I'm convinced have shed me at least an ounce. (28 grammes). I fantasised I was in prison on bread and water.
In case you were wondering, I think Robert Kilroy-Silk was accurate in his denunciation of tyrannical states. I also think he was very stupid to state those views in a newspaper column. (I only know the bits which have been bandied about the headlines: I would never read a newspaper with "Express" in the title.)
In an ITV interview last night (shared with Scotch (not Scottish) salmon), he was rambling and slurring in his defence of "eighteen years service to the BBC". Stuff and nonsense. His oleaginous show is clearly made by his own production company, as stated in the end credits, then presumably sold to the BBC, and paid for with my licence fee.
After eighteen years of that, I doubt whether Mr Kilroy-Silk will ever be reduced to three slices of corned beef and half a loaf of bread. He opened his gob too far. That's what happens to people who think their opinions actually matter.
Here I was planning to drone on about life, death, the weather and what would happen if a lift went sideways instead of up and down, when what should pop into my awareness but The Bloggies!
Yes - it's that time again! Already!! And you've only got until the end of tomorrow (Monday) to nominate your favourites!!!
How come no-one in this bit of blogland mentioned them? Or have I just not been reading anyone lately?
Doubtless you'll have some notion of who(m) you want to nominate, but in case you should be stuck for ideas, how about Naked Blog?? You know, this one?
Categories we nicely fit in to would include
Best British or Irish (New category!)
Best GLBT (This blog fits in to the G category. I've mentally toyed with the idea of lesbianism, but that's as far as it's ever got.)
Most humorous (But of course - in a darkly intelligent way.)
Weblog of the Year (Mais oui!)
Naturally I've already nominated lots and lots of you, dear things, but the dictates of tact must keep my lips for ever sealed. In the past, Naked Blog has always reached the "long-list" stage, and a couple of shortlists, but never quite an award. Yet.
Nominate now and make a difference!
(For those new to weblogging, The Bloggies are the industry's equivalent of the Oscars. Organised, nominated and voted for by practitioners. There are no judges for the finalists. Do join in. It's a load of fun, especially at this time of year.)
Remember: You must nominate today or tomorrow. And of course this includes all you lowlife valued readers from the Port and the Village. Click that link and get nominating. It's payback time. Or mother will put you to bed.
Right now it's planet city! Venus is quite brilliant in the early evening, low in the southern sky. Mars still red and ready but now at about 45 degrees. And there, to greet me with my 4am pee was Jupiter, the only thing bright enough to outshine the waning moon.
He fixed me with his piercing antipodean gaze, for one last time, and I felt like putty in his healing hands.
"It's just that I stopped smoking six months ago," I explained. "And it would be really shitty to die right now."
"It's OK, Peter," he said, smiling. "If there's any cancer there it's too small to show on an X Ray." We shook hands again at that, and I walked out into the afternoon sun to look for a bus. I'd got a daysaver ticket. A number 8 came along quite quickly.
Wow! The response to yesterday's little teaser was small, but intense indeed. Was I right to do that? There was a choice, you know.
Expressions such as fat tease, tart and Eastenders were flung about - and that was just from my friends!
Why then? Probably because I could. Because it was there. Because this is still a highly experimental genre, and it might have been a first. Plus I'm a total tosspot at times. Talk about self-obsession.
Almost as interesting was the large number who could have commented but didn't. I'm presuming they felt it was all a bit contemptible. Well - it's my blog. But your feelings, so I had to honour the requests for today's episode.
(Incidentally - where I come from, such actions as yesterday's blog are called tempting fate. Even if I haven't got lung cancer there's no reason on earth why I shouldn't get squashed by an articulated lorry any time soon. Doing deals with the devil enhances this chance.)
Thanks to those for their kind remarks about the quality of yesterday's post. Appreciated. But going to show, yet again, that any damn fool can write about unusual things - it's keeping up a daily presence when nothing much happens which is the real skill. And so many of you have that, in spades. Everyone on my sidebar, in fact.
I knew if I just turned up at Accident and Emergency they would laugh me out of the building.
"So when exactly did you swallow this crown, sir?"
"The Saturday before Christmas."
"Not much of an emergency there, then, is there sir? Go home and have a nice chat with your GP, and he'll explain about swallowed foreign bodies. Next!"
No. In order to secure that vital X ray I knew I'd have to be a bit more organised. So I trucked along early doors to my dentist and bewailed him with my sorry tale. He looked at me like I was completely nuts, and I even caught him glancing over my head at his nurse, whose expression I couldn't see, but well imagine. I stood firm. Or rather lay there very assertively. So he wrote me a letter. Game, but not yet set or match.
Edinburgh Royal Infirmary is one of the most modern and up to date hossies in Europe. It's so up to date they haven't finished building it yet. And it's on the outskirts, greenfield, at possibly no more than a pound a square foot. (The building it replaces, bang in the city centre, will sell for a million quid an apartment, once converted. Easily.) Although what sort of ghoul would want to live in a Victorian ex-hospital I can barely imagine.
These things are important. Never mind if a few folk peg out on the way.
Mr Naked Blog! cried a woman with a rare set of pipes, after roughly an hour's wait. I immediately felt I'd seen her before, in another context entirely. Yes! She was Kathy Bates in Misery! The one who took a hammer to James Caan's feet to stop him escaping from her house.
I kid you not. Talk about dead ringer. She even had her hair into one of those Nurse Ratchett French rolls at the back. Oh boy was I getting interested now!
There was a selection of doctors. A young woman with specs, and a red-haired dude. Combined ages considerably less than my own, of course, but what else would you expect? Old doctors probably command bigger wages.
Anyway, I ended up with Dr Red, who introduced himself and shook hands. How unhygienic, I thought, but it was a nice touch. As was his broad Ozzie accent even more. My cup runneth over! There's nothing more masculine than broad Australian. Not the Dame Edna sort, stupid... the rugger bugger, Fosters-swilling, "fuck you as soon as look at you" type. Nice. Had I been but thirty years younger I might well have waxed coquettish.
"It'll've parsed raight through, mite," Doctor Foster began to explain. But no. I held my ground. Told him about sifting the shit for three days, until I couldn't face it any more. How I was convinced I could feel in inside of me still. Sticking in. Sharp. So he sent me to X ray.
But not before I'd heard my mouth saying, "I try to avoid doctors like the plague, you know. Nothing personal, but I'm convinced you're far better off if you look after your own health." Please, please, don't let me say "Doctors make you worse..." For Chrissake use some common sense for once in your sorry life. I didn't say it. I trotted along to X ray with my notes and waited.
Game and set, but not yet match. I could feel a cat scan coming on. Meeow.
Here I must confess how impressed I was with the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Courteous staff, both medical and support, and an efficiency making the whole process only three hours long. Which for a walk-in, free at point of use, service is not bad at all.
To be honest, I was expecting the whole shebang to be much more commercialised.
"X-Rays by Vodaphone - the phone that sees right through you!"
"Canteen facilities by Macdonalds - a pound off all meals for the dying!"
You get my drift, I'm sure. But none such was evident. Nor music, praise the Lord.
There was a pause, a wee lacuna after the X ray, while I sat in a cubicle and pondered the possibilities. I'd had my entire upper abdomen X rayed, and not only would this show up any stray teeth, but - it occurred to me then - any lung illness also. Although now an avid non-smoker, there were forty six years of cigarettes residing in those two windbags. Or the damage therefrom. Should I ask for the full monty, or instruct him to say nothing? I'm a great believer in the "what you don't know doesn't hurt you" school. Your state of mind and body are the only check-ups you need, and you yourself are your best physician.
I thought back to the HIV tests in the early eighties, when the holocaust first came, and the terror of waiting for the results, knowing full well what I'd done with my body for twenty years previous. I remembered the relief at the good outcome, and the decision to embrace celibacy rather than go through that ordeal ever once again. Which I did, with no regrets. Rien.
And now my lungs. With one sentence, Dr Shortland could change my life - what was left of it - irrevocably. Should I ask, or should I ask him to shut up? In he came. I spotted a safety pin holding the right side of his green tunic together.
"I can't see any dental crown at all," he said, smiling. It's definitely passed through, and could easily have taken more than three days. You were right to stop slicing the shit."
"Thank you doctor," I said. "I feel a bit silly."
Now was the moment. I had to ask him right there and then, or for ever hold my peace. "How are the lungs in that X-ray?" I said, casually, as you do while awaiting a death sentence. "What about lung cancer and TB? Why don't we do the full monty while I'm here? It'll only take a minute."
For the third time that day, I had a medical professional looking at me square in the eye. But that didn't matter - all that mattered was the information he had that I wanted. He switched on an overhead lamp and held up the full plate negative. I stared at him intently - as close to an X Ray of his thoughts as the human senses can achieve.
"It's cancer, isn't it?" I demanded. "I can see by your face..."
Just briefly, for a moment, there was a sense of some mutuality of interest in my well-being. This man, young enough to be my son, whom I'd never met before nor would again, had right bang in front of him the most accurate predictor of my life expectancy there could ever be.
"Why is it whenever there's a group of guys, the black guy always gets it first?" asked Ron, who is quite black, waxing cinematic yesterday. We'd been discussing Predator.
"That's nothing!" I riposted quickly. "Try being a poof. The poof always gets it even before the black guy."
"Have you got any evidence for that?" asked Gordon, who was sitting there writing a novel on his Compaq palmtop thingie. (Unlike most people who write, Gordon's stuff actually sells.
I racked my brain, while various characters danced gaily across it. Mr Pink. Harvey Feierstein. But - as time was short - I took a chance on John Hurt. "Look at Alien!" I cried. "No doubt who got it first there!"
"Is John Hurt gay?" asked Gordon, taking a lengthy toke on his cheap cigar. "No," I had to concede. "But he was that good as Quentin Crisp everyone thinks he is."
I'm really not convinced I won that argument.
Later, much later, I found myself standing in the dark on the corner of Leith Walk and Albert Street, when suddenly, right there in front of me, appeared my good friend Rex. "Recksth!" I gasped. "Greattershee yer man. Happynewyear!"
"Are you revisiting former glories?" Rex asked, waving vaguely at Albert Street, once home to one of Edinburgh's leading gay facilities.
"Haha! No - I'm just on my way to..." but I couldn't remember where. I could see the shop, and knew exactly where it was in Easter Road, but couldn't for the life of me think of its name. Drink does that to a man. If you drink enough of it.
We went for a pint to City Limits, a pub on the boundary of Leith and Edinburgh. Part of it is in Leith, and part in Edinburgh. I kid you not. At one time there was a brass plate fixed in the bartop, with the boundary line etched on it... essential when Leith and Edinburgh had different drinking hours.
But last night their Guinness was too warm. Quite unpalatable, and I should have asked for my money back. But Rex seemed to be getting tore into his bigtime, and the opportunity was missed. I couldn't drink mine, nevertheless. So I reported them to the Guinness company, and they'll be getting a visit for "re-education". Spiteful or what?
Guess how many emails I had waiting for me after the Christmas and New Year break? (The answer is the title of a Kubrick movie.)
And guess out of those 2001 emails, how many weren't spam? The answer is four.
Thanks to asta, Darren, Scott and alan, and I'll be replying in due course. But now I have to seek medical help. There's still a porcelain tooth inside of me, trying to gnaw its way out. Most distressing.
Popped into work yesterday to organise my January and February holidays, and what should my (young, gay) manager have on his office wall but a Busted calendar. "Oooh - Alice likes Busted!" I declared, " - and she's only six." (Alice is the daughter of Tony my IT manager.)
He was not amused at being thus likened to a six year old girl, unlike his straight colleagues who were falling off their chairs at the thought. Eventually I conceded I could possibly cope with the middle one from the band, in a "cultured older man meets schemetrash rentboy" sort of way. So C gave the middle one to me, as long as he could have the other two. We laughed.
Yes, it's that time of the year already - the time I return to work and greet my old ladies. Well... I never really stopped, did I?
But worry not. All these bank holidays attract lots of double time and days in lieu (such an evocative phrase), and suchlike and so on. I'll be able to have a decent holiday both this month and next.
Because I was stupid and naive enough at one time to display my correct email address on this site, it's escaped into the wild and I now get several hundred spams a day. I'm going to have to discuss with my ISP some way of closing these accounts, as I'm sick of spending up to an hour a day on spam, even with Mailwasher, which slows to a trickle with these quantities.
So - dear reader. That's why I don't reply to your kind good wishes. In practical terms there just isn't any email facility here any more. I hate and despise the people who've ruined a perfectly good medium, and I damn the governments who won't do anything to stop them.
A Fair Cop
I truly never thought I'd see the day when police have to carry these around on New Year's Eve in London. Just how do you deploy a machine gun in a crowded street or square, anyway?
The cops have clamoured for this for decades. The ultimate hardon accessory. Come back Dixon.
It's over. All have safely passed, once again. Solstice, Christmas, birthday, mother's death, New Year - all gone now in ten mad, crazy days of emotional roller coasting. Now as far behind me as they ever get. Mardi gras! And soon the sun will return.
Really sorry for the thousands who gathered in Princes Street only to have the New Year fireworks and concert cancelled because of the rain. I was at the first ever Princes Street party - more than a decade ago - and it really is a spectacular event. What a shame.
So - what's your New Year resolution? What little (or big) thing would transform your life for the better, and send your happiness skyrocketing? I'm sitting here scratching my head thinking, but it's really hard to put a finger on anything. Things are pretty damn good already, and I no longer smoke.
Maybe I'll just resolve to keep free from smoking, as stopping has been the best thing I've ever done, and maybe - just maybe - get my house cleaned up a bit. Enough to have the occasional guest. I don't think it's fully human to have a moat around your home, without even a drawbridge for friends.
What a dump
I couldn't afford to bring it up to date and keep it there, but with only modest expenditure the gaff might make an interesting seventies museum. (That's when I arrived.) We shall see. I could give them blancmange and Nice biscuits.
So - what else can I say? One million thanks to all of you for reading Naked Blog last year, and I hope the standard continues unabated and reaches even greater heights. And don't let's forget the people without whom there would be no Naked Blog. The people who so generously give of their sayings and doings for your entertainment. (Unlike in certain weblogs I could name, these lovely folk are very real indeed.)
We're thinking Babs the chef, Ally and Dolly, Gwen and Pam the barmaids, Mary the landlady, Evergreen Norma, Gerry Not Guilty, Yorkshire Kriss, Robin (don't call me gay, I'm bisexual), Scott the ships' engineer, Rex in the corner, Big Straight Al, Tony my IT Manager, all the Hunks Of The Week, and many others too numerous to mention.
They write the stories; I just type them out.
From all of us here in Royston Vasey Sunny Leith, have a great 2004!