The first thing you notice about Dawn of the Dead (2004) is that they completely dispense with the introduction. They're fully aware that everyone watching knows it's about zombies in a mall. "The one where they're trapped in a mall", as TV magazines would describe a Friends episode. Because zombies are fun. Zombies are now, while vampires are suddenly so last week.
Oh, they do little snatches of radio and TV commentary about the developing phenomenon (remember: zombies aren't real :), but by and large they're content to let Romero'sgreattrilogy cover that ground for them. So why mess about? Instead they have the whole world zombiefied even before the titles. "Just like Leith," I whispered to Claire. Oh - and watch out for Miss Goody Two Shoes on roller skates!
Naked verdict: High on splatter, and low on social comment. Don't look for any Romero "message". It's good for a night out with pals, to laugh about afterwards in the pub. Some tasty talent, and heaps of filmic references. Claire and I fancied MichaelKelly, but Gwen and Jacks thought he was a throwback.
Practical note: stay in your seat until the credits have rolled, as the story continues in flashes.
Technical question from ChavGav: Do they project the movie onto the screen from behind in a modern cinema? We looked in vain for signs of a beam, even going so far as to sprinkle our personal dust into the air. No-one dared light a cig, though.
Morning, readers everywhere. I'm having a wee bit problem typing this morning, suffering from Playstation Right Hand. Ever had that one? It's a bit like the feeling from too much hand shandy, but not as much fun, although at least it doesn't leave your cock sore too.
Ah yes - I remember it well. Speedy Gonzales.
Aber genug! (Do Germans actually say that?) This is meant to be a family show. The game in question was Prince of Persia, which is a roughly 60 - 40 split of manoeuvering across drops and fighting the be-turbanned enemy. (Those pesky Arabs get everywhere!) Next they'll be wanting weapons of mass destruction. Hehe.
But the heights give me anxiety (yes really - even on the telly), and the fighting's fucked my hand. It's frantic, repetitive button pressing.
No more, Eleanore. I'll swap it with someone younger and let them head for physio hell in their own sweet way. I mean - who on earth wants to damage their body parts for the infantile satisfaction of a "game victory"? Sony are wantonly selling harmful product to the young, and delivering serious problems for their future health. But what government dares tackle Sony?
Now I'm noticing my forearms tingling too. Damn idiot I am. I knew I'd gone way beyond the "wall" last night.
So, let's cut this short. I got RSI once from another game, Minesweeper, and it was far from funny. Or it might have been carpal tunnel thingie. Don't know, don't care. Not doing it again.
Yesterday Microsoft announced a drop in X Box price to hit the Playstation market. But analysts predict Sony will win the next generation game wars. (How on earth they can predict any such thing about machines not yet built is puzzling.)
(The above was a venture into e-journalism. Geeza job. Saga magazine.)
In other news: my replacement crown came off again with another toffee. How stupid is that? But at least this one got captured before swallowing. And tonight a crew from The Village are off to see Dawn of The Dead. (If we don't get so wrecked we just say fuck it, whose round is it.) Watch this space. Off to rest my hands and arms bigtime.
Cod liver oil is the biz for these pesky problems. You can drink it and rub it on. Think of it as 3 in 1. Or - a little more expensive, you can use Vitamin E oil.
I still can't believe they can sell such harmful things! What's the world come to in the name of profit?
Every good wish to the Irish people as they wake to a fag-free world today. (More or less.) I trust we'll soon follow suit. Some of my best friends are smokers, and I love them none the less for that. But don't ask me to love their filthy habit.
Or is a ban actually necessary? Hasn't anyone the guts just to open a non-smoking bar? There are already non-smoking cafes and restaurants in Edinburgh, and they're always packed.
"Oh - it'll harm publicans' profits," I hear and read. Well - some of my best friends are publicans, and doing very nicely, thank you. I love them none the less for that, but I love my lungs rather more.
Britain must follow the Irish lead - if the booze corporations continue to stall. This year, if Tony plans on getting back in. BBCi, including poll.
Buds are everywhere now, except in my heart. Soon the trees will hang replete with this year's clothes, while my love lies lost among the middens of mediocrity. (Burp.)
Or could this be the year when something good happens? That mythical promise so teasingly held out, the thought that maybe it's not quite over already. That there might be good times yet to roll.
The way ahead is clear, but that means abandoning, at least for a while, the faithful, tried and tested. The essence of familiarity is that nothing unfamiliar ever happens there. Or at least if it does, then it's discussed (and these days blogged) to an early death.
Something unfamiliar. But nice,s'il vous plait.
I've had too much of the unpleasant things. The colleagues who plot against you for that tasty promotion, the loving friends who fuck off and die, and the knife against the throat after an hour of unwise passion.
Oh my computer fan is driving me quite bonkers today. On and on it drones, like some aeroplane desperate to take off, yet chained to the runway for ever. Chocks rooted to the spot. Bit like me, if I think about it.
See - even my devices are showing the way. Who needs tarot when you've got an imagination?
Tarot. Now there's a thought. Maybe I'll give my wee pal Stu a phone. He's very psychic. Well, psychotic might be closer. (Hehe) Exiled in 'Muchtie he's missing the vibe already. The beautiful people to hang out with.
Beautiful people were much in evidence on Saturday night in a slight but fascinating film called just 54. It was about the once (apparently) famous New York night club Studio 54, and showed the desperate thrusting for starlight of a couple of beautiful kids from the wrong side of the tracks. Anything about fading looks (especially male) has got me by the throat from the start, and this film's adonis de jour was the very appealing Ryan Phillippe.
Mike Myers played the club owner Steve Rubell - totally off the wall. Myers was great too - so good I didn't even realise it was him until the credits. How many stars can you ever say that about?
The critics were less than raving, and compared it unfavourably to both Saturday Night Fever and Boogie Nights. To be honest, I assumed it was just a cheapo TV movie, and on that level it was totally acceptable.
Oh that fucking fan's stopped now. See how I suffer for my art! Right - where were we? Let's see... we've done a bit about me, then some degradation... now I'm sure there was something more pleasant.... oh, I remember.
Yes, it was a programme last night about a young Scottish violinist, Nicola Benedetti. Bizarre how TV, which is the prime instrument in dumbing down the population, is sometimes the one which brings us first notice of something different, something real.
Acres of hard disk space have been devoted to the demise of culture. Look how blogdom, which might have served otherwise, is instead so heavily slanted towards plop.
I really thought genuine musicianship was a thing of the past. That a spot on Jools Holland would be the summit of achievement, and in a few years time there would be no-one to play Mozart or Beethoven ever again.
But just as Mozart wouldn't have flourished without a totally supportive family, Miss Benedetti too had the requirements for prodigy there on a tick sheet. She started playing at four, and had that crucial older sister already playing. (How many older sisters sink by the wayside to more glittering siblings! It's a nightmare.) She played so much they couldn't get her to stop. Her mother had to take the violin off her and put her to bed. Her sister had to beg her to go out and "do young people's things".
And - overriding all - was the family wealth, enabling a good instrument, a place at the Yehudi Menuhin school, and the best private teachers and physiotherapists to help with the punishing schedules.
Nicola Benedetti. Currently negotiating with major labels, and you're going to be seeing a lot more of her. Plus she's sixteen, she's beautiful, and - how does the song go? Sunday Herald
Bernice from work was at Joe Brown and Marty Wilde last week. They're still alive. She loves shows like that - goes to them all. Even the dead ones have got imitators.
"Are you coming out to play?" asked Babs on my mobile. The damn thing goes off so rarely, it takes several seconds for the reality to sink in. "My God! Someone wants to talk to me!" Then of course you have to find it (hence the term, mobile), and by the time you figure out what to press, they've lost interest and gone elsewhere.
Don't know about you, but I really hate the phone, and usually just ignore it. My home is my castle, as far as I'm able to make it, and I prefer conversing outwith the moat and drawbridge. Oh, it would be nice to let the good times roll, landlord fill the flowing bowl, how's yer bum for love bites, dearie... but that's not how life seems to have worked out.
I feel like a heroine in a forties black and white movie, trapped in bed, with a paid companion my only link to the outside world. They made several like that. Movies. Very woman-friendly the middle cinema, not like nowadays with all those guns and gore.
"OK then," I said when I called (ie phoned) her back. "How about the Port for a change?" It was teatime yesterday. And so it came to pass. It was a very great joy.
There was Yorkshire Kriss, who gave me a big hug. Newly-married John Macaulay, ditto. Babs was sitting surrounded by men, as usual, but that wasn't hard as she was the only chick there. (Apart from Mary the landlady and evergreen Norma, natch.) She had Kevin the shopgirl, Robin (don't call me bisexual - I'm a screaming queen now), Robin's business partner, who is quite ooh la la, and then, bringing up the rear, yours truly.
Robocop Mark came in, and gave one of those boyz n the hood handshakes. You know the sort, where you grasp horizontally and then slide into the vertical for added bonding. (Or transfer of small goods.) We just stuck to bonding. "How are you man?" he said, with what seemed genuine concern. "Haven't seen you for so long."
"Oh, fine, Mark... been around, just not here. Haven't been in jail or hospital." (Those last two being the places most Leithers spend time from time to time... a wee holiday at Her Majesty's pleasure.)
Duncan Donuts came in, mental as ever, and then Tony my IT manager.
Hang about... phone just ringing...
[Back] So anyway - where was I ? (That was Sandra my personal manager, btw. She and Alligator Johnnie have abandoned their new life in the far North of Scotland, as they decided it bears more resemblance to 17C Salem than anywhere in the twenty first century.) I went there to visit them, and it was like totally Wicker Man. You didn't know whether they were gonna serve you a drink or burn you in a big basket. "Don't let on you're gay," cautioned Sandra. "They won't know how to handle that." It's entirely possible they have local by-laws permitting the burning of gay men... I haven't checked it out. You Southerners don't know you're born, mates.
Talking of oppressive religions, I was interested to see Lord Carey, Former Archbishop of Canterbury and keen NB reader, has been sounding off over that religion. This is not any sort of hate-sheet, as well you know, but just sometimes - like last week - you have to speak out. And former Archbishops are quick to seize the popular crook.
Anyway, lovely though the Port was, the evening wasn't destined to end at all peacefully. Partyboy in the flat below me was having one of his "let's squeeze every teen in the city into my flat" nights. He's only sixteen, and because of his mother's long absences has pretty much the run of the place.
By eleven I had to call the cops. Eleven. I know it isn't late, but things were escalating out of control I could tell, even through my floor. So after half an hour Old Bill turned up at their door. Very apologetic. Didn't even go in for a sniff around the roaches. And - right enough - that did seem to help a bit. It's a sad reflection on our society that (a) young people will behave with such disregard for others, and (b) the elderly are too intimidated to do anything other than call the police.
Quite shocking. That's not a course I lightly take. But I will say this to you. If I were Chief Constable for a day I'd have gone in there with my terrorist-issue Ouzi, and taken half the fuckers out. BLAM! That would have quietened the rest down, bigtime. You can't make an omelette without a decent frying pan.
Anyway again - where was I? (I do hate accidental repetitions. So very Alzheimer.) Oh yes - Tony and I were chatting about the radio station bigtime. We need a name. I promised to ask for your suggestions. (And.... please not PeterFM. There are others involved!) To give you a clue, last year it was LeithFM. Here are Tony's thoughts this time. Gotta love that carrier wave! (There used to be a big fuck-off pic of yours truly looking foxy behind a mike, but they must have taken it down as being too stimulating for ladies of a certain age.)
(Weegie = Glaswegian. Do try and pay more attention.) It's multiple choice. Answer carefully, or you'll end up battered tae fuck.
Some time back I brought you the exquisite Chavscum site, and at the same time I also stumbled on the Scottish equivalent, Glasgow Survival, from whence the above quiz. For some reason, all the Scottish schemies have got their eyes blacked out. A must for students of the lower classes.
(Well, actually I'm as low class as they get, but no f*cker ever studies me.)
Roddy the tree surgeon is going travelling in the Far East. Thailand I think he said, but all these exotic hotspots blend into one another after the second pint.
Clacton on Sea is probably the furthest east this correspondent has ventured - working in Clacton Butlins in 1965.
Now, if my handle was something like Scaryduck, I'm sure there'd be screenfuls of tantalising tales from the period, but in truth it was all a bit sordid. And smelly too.
No-one had told me that in the South they bathed daily, while us from up north clung to the "Friday night bathnight" ethos. Which is why that was the only thing clinging to me in the entire two months.
I ask you. Eighteen, a virgin, away from me mam for the first time, and yet Vestal I resolutely remained.
But enough of me. (What a ridiculous notion.) Roddy was asking how he can keep Hamish his son up to date on daddy's doings while abroad. Or at least the ones he chooses to share. Should he use...
a digital camera, and send the pics from internet cafes. (Do they have that facility in the third world? Or even the first? Technology moves so damn fast these days.)
a film camera and send them to some company that develops them and posts them on a website they make for you (Tony my IT manager told me the name, but it's gone. Like so many things.)
an expensive phone camera which can send pics and emails direct to a PC?
wait till he gets home, then tell him all about it - like in the olden days. (This last one was my suggestion, but apparently it isn't suitable for domestic reasons.)
Do any children live with both their parents these days? I can think of only one.
Anyway - over to you gadget geeks. I told young Roddy that the NB fans would be quick to offer their advice. In return, Roddy's promised an exclusive Hunk of the Week shot for us, half naked with cheeky chainsaw. He sure knows how to get an old girl's attention. We shall see. Maybe he'll get kidnapped in Thailand.
Living in Leith you can't avoid those dreadful beige-coloured squares. It's fake, it's knocked off, it's every damn where you look. Yes - we're talking Burberry again. As common as Buddleia, and twice as nasty.
Scots will get the joke immediately, but for those outwith this wee bit hill and glen (such as Mel Gibson), the thing to note is the change in the speaker's accent. (The final voice is authentic "smacked up Leith", btw :)
[The above specially for this Leither exiled in Oz! Scroll down to March 21 for a fascinating Leith commentary from across the globe.]
Naked Blog has a large and growing Australian readership you know, from New South Wales right up to Queensland. (Stop sniggering in Belgium.)
My task bar (Windows haters should look away) has just developed a mini scroll bar for my tasks. From nowhere. Just sprang up. It's things like that reaffirm my belief in a good and loving God.
It was a medium joy yesterday to fling open the doors of The Village and announce, "Daddy's Home!" Great to see them all.
Babs was there after her shift, looking dewy eyed over Andy her new fella who came in shortly. Woolly Dave the snapper was there too, and through in the Gallery/Diner I could see the hangings of the newest exhibition, Mark Marnie's latest snapettes.
It was the opening night, which means free wine and twiglets, but you are then expected to mingle with Edinburgh's C list slebs. "Don't go there, Peter," advised Gav of GavnJacks. "They're just a bunch of posers."
"Look! There's David Beckham!!" screeched Babs. "I'm going through for a closer look!" Right enough, there was this gent sporting Beckham's last but two hair-do's. The one with the corn-rakes... is that what you call them? The one that looks like once it's been done you can never ever wash it.
"Nah - it's not him," she wailed on returning. "Some guy of fifty. What a tosser." "Fifty is disgracefully old," I agreed with her.
Every good luck to Jacks on her new job today, the first for some time due to illness. I'm sworn to secrecy of course, but can exclusively reveal that (a) it's on a ship, and (b) she has to wear navy shoes. Right now as I sit here she'll have been there for one whole hour. Gawd Bless yer, ma-am and all who sail in yer. I can only imagine how nervous she must be feeling. More later, as permissions are given.
Then to Iceland with Babs, and home to a freezer full of pizza and rice creations. Man does not live by veggies alone. Look what happened to Linda McCartney. But don't buy the chicken tikka masala, as apparently it's full to the brim with cancer-causing dyes. Must be true - it was on this morning's BBC Breakfast.
What was also on Breakfast was something so sick I jumped out of bed - at seven thirty - to fire off an angry email. Yes, really. I'm not making it up.
You probably saw the item. There was a picture of a woman's dead body on a kitchen floor, still with a heroin needle in her hand.
Cut to next item, and what does Moira immediately say but, "Tony Blair and Bertie Aherne are meeting today to inject new life into the peace process." (My emphasis.)
That was no accident, believe me. It was some sicko newswriter's idea of a laugh. (Don't try and con a conner, mate.) Naked Blog is full of shite like that. I recognise it like my right hand. So I sent the BBC this...
7.30 News bulletin.
"Inject new life into the peace process" (Moira Stewart), immediately after a photo of a dead woman with a heroin needle in her hand.
That is outrageous, deliberate, callous and whoever wrote it should be dismissed immediately.
They changed it. To "restart the peace process". I noted Moira's slight hesitation at the change of script.
OK, it could have been an accident. But, as we say up here, ah hae ma doots.
Yesterday's celebrations have delayed my recovery process a bit, and today feels a bit fluey again. My prescription is good food and wine.
PS How's yer In-tray for Spam these days? Bet you'll enjoy this totally true story below...
Today I've received lots of mail offering tablets to make me slimmer and less depressed. "Take them!" I can hear the readers shouting back at me. But no - such states are not to be found in any bottle. Even Dasani.
What initially attracted me to these lovely letters were the hilarious names of the senders. [Readers who've been around for a while might just notice the increased use of brackets of late around here. It's to prevent text-analysis machines from outing me as Belle de Jour. Seriously. My mother would turn in her grave.]
Yes, the names were certainly striking. Not the regulars you bump into in the boozer.
Tryst R. Aardvarks, Philandered F. Fluidity, Reinvented A. Climbed, Tokugawa E. Leakiest, Dandles I. Sophomores.
Maybe they've written to you too? I specially love those middle initials.
George W. Bush.
But what was even more striking than the names were the contents. For as well as the cut-price, once in a lifetime offers, you also get a "thought for the day". Even though Messrs Aardvarks, Fluidity etc were all operating for the same company, they took time and trouble to give fresh and original uplifting messages.
Tryst R. Aardvarks: People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them Benjamin Franklin said it first.
Philandered F. Fluidity: When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.
Reinvented A. Climbed: There are no greater wretches in the world than many of those whom people in general take to be happy.
Tokugawa E. Leakiest: Perhaps he was a bit different from other people, but what really sympathetic person is not a little mad?
Dandles I. Sophomores: While one finds company in himself and his pursuits, he cannot feel old, no matter what his years may be.
That's good stuff. I like it - especially that last one. Kinda sums up my entire life in one pithy sentence.
So how about some sort of Spam Oscar? (Well - regular advertisers give themselves gongs, don't they, and they're no better than spammers. Lowest form of human life, if you arsk me, guvna.)
Get Spam - for truly honest advertising. Free message with every offer.
Sunny day today. Went back to work yesterday after a cold. Was OK. Can't think of a thing to write. Got to get a life. The BBC were asking for comments on the Mozart thing, so I sent them my entire post. Buggers have ignored it. I do despair.
Yesterday was Jack Vettriano day. (Scottish painter.) He was on Breakfast With Frost in the morning (nothing on the website - staff must have Sundays off), and the South Bank Show at bedtime. Never rains but it pours, eh Jack?
Although visual art leaves me utterly stone cold, people do not. I was interested to note that Vettriano (not his real name) is Britain's best-selling painter by several orders of magnitude, yet his work appears in none of the establishment galleries. Guardian.Sunday Herald (Muriel Gray.)
Anyway, as tripod (not his real name) remarked in a comment box recently, this weblog is getting far too highbrow. What we need is some scandal. Sex sells. But sadly no longer to me.
Celibate? Can't even give it away.
Now that blogging has left beta and gone mainstream, I'm thinking of starting a blogring for silver bloggers. Don't know whether to make it over 50 or over 55. (Fifty is dreadfully young these days. I can't relate.) Neither can I decide on gay men only or open to anyone ancient enough. Maybe do both.
Are blogrings any good? I've joined one or two in the past, but always dropped out, as the other blogs were like totally blah. (That's taste, not snobbishness, fyi.) But I feel that grouping by age might be slightly more relevant than other commonalities. (Blogs by women? Duh?)
Anyways again. That's it for today. There's an entire weekend of posts lying temptingly just below this. Go on... your boss isn't looking! Get yourself another nice cuppa then pick up the phone and pretend to look busy. Or maybe you are the boss.
Today I'm thinking Council Tax, I'm thinking haircut, I'm thinking I'm still not one hundred percent better, so I'm maybe thinking lunch and lots of Guinness. I'm convinced alcohol has antiseptic effects.
Talking of antisepsis, isn't it amazing how none of the papers are suggesting that Charles Kennedy might be a wee bit of an alkie? I thought it was fairly common knowledge. Between that and his Embassy Regal voice, I think Dr Peter should prescribe him a year of meditation and tranquillity. Curl up with Naked Blog and watch your troubles fade into the firelight.
Got to get back to work today. Oh, I'm not quite perfect yet, but if I don't then I'll spend my "official" four days off worrying. Many thanks for all your good wishes over my cold. It was also cheering, in a "misery loves company" way, to read various bloggers in similar situations. Colds travel almost as fast as weblogs these days. I blame aeroplanes.
No More Mr Nice Guy?
Last week was a bit unusual in these parts. I was called variously wrong, ignorant, hateful, offensive and unpleasant for simply criticising a religion I feel is less than packed with love for all men. Quite the reverse. But others agreed with my view and were supportive. Thank you.
Funny old world. Criticise the haters and you get called a hater yourself. Whatever. I was going to say they're all as bad as one another, but they're not - some of them are worse. Noodle said it best, on Wednesday. Check back if you can be bothered; if not don't. Oh, and Julie Burchill said it louder, longer and for much better pay.
It gets introspective, being sick. As you know I don't receive visitors here at Naked Mansions, preferring to socialise outside where people are paid to cook, clean and wash up for you. So if you're sick you don't talk. Which means you think.
And who better to think about than my lovely blogpals? It's a funny thing, blogging. Well - we know that already. Why o why do we do it? Wouldn't real life contact be better? Infinitely so? Does blogging fill that gap caused by the insularity and "house-encapsulation" that we all suffer nowadays? That no-one can even be spoken to without a prior appointment?
Whatever happened to popping in? Well, my guess is it "popped out" when the dinner party caught on - that monstrosity of intercourse.
You can see why I go to pubs!
Have a nice Sunday, and equinox. (I think it's over now.) See ya ra'morra. Except I won't, of course. See you, that is :) Waxing with the social metaphors.
Full marks to the BBC for this. Anything which brings real art to new people can only be applauded to the utmost. But is this series just the Amadeus movie re-worked for a new generation? Or will it bring something new?
On the basis of the last night's first episode, I would happily say no to the first, and hopefully yes to the second.
Amadeus has already given the world the (probably correct) notion that Wolfgang was a typical young man, with a young man's interests. Booze and broads. Fancy clothes and smoking too, we learned last night. Nowadays he'd be clubbing and doing a line of charlie.
What this BBC production offers is some modern day comparisons... car and train versus coach and horses, for instance. And Charles Hazlewood keeps popping up to give us the benefit of his opinions also - but Mr Hazlewood is already proving the weakest link.
Okey Cokey. Draw breath at this for a moment and consider. How many people do you personally know who've had turmoil in their lives? Several, I bet.
And of those, how many have composed music of Mozart's calibre? Don't hold your breath while you ponder this one.
Rubbish, Mr Hazlewood. Yes, Mozart put elements of his feelings and senses into his work - how could he not? - but he was only able to do that because he already could write music of genius.
Further. On yesterday morning's BBC breakfast, Sian Williams made the sensible observation that it was a tragedy Mozart died so young. To which Hazlewood gave the quite mind-boggling reply that he felt the composer had "already got everything out" by the time of his death.
Takes some beathing, that one, Charles! So glad you know that. Must be a great comfort to those who would give every richness on earth for one more major Mozart work - a thing that no amount of Tate or Saatchi money can buy this side of eternity.
But Hazlewood happily puts his views into the music as well as the life. In introducing the slow movement of the D Minor piano concerto K466 he asserts that in the simple (Mozart is never simple) introduction, the composer is "back in the nursery", whereas in the mature denouement he's "standing up to his father".
Stuff and nonsense. Unless Herr Mozart himself said that then no-one has any right at all to make such statements. It's like the early ad exec who tagged "Moonlight" onto the Beethoven piano sonata. Sold a squillion copies over the years - and left the world unable to enjoy any other pieces in case they don't "see the right picture".
Music is organised sound. No more, and no less. It contains no emotions (although it can provoke your own), and no life experiences. For those you need words. Enjoy it and love it, on the level of sound. Yesterday's programme, in its excellent depiction of Mozart the young man, will hopefully attract young people today to experience the great music also. Because that's what we're blessed with as his legacy of genius. Not the wigs and outfits, however stunning they seem to have been.
WHO'S (REALLY) WHO IN BLOGDOM THESE DAYS (Loosely inspired by Belle de Jour!)
Thanks to all for your various blog-outings yesterday, which were fascinating and inter-continental. There's a helluva lot of deception going on, I can tell you.
So I've got to summon all my HTML knowledge and make a cutesy table to keep track of it all. Now let me see, what ingredients do I need?
I know... it goes something like table, tr, td... nothing to it.
While I'm making the table, I should tell you I've just phoned in sick. Yes it's true. Upper respiratory infection. (Sneeze.) Yesterday I soaked (sneeze) three, yes three cotton t-shirts. It was pouring faster than (sneeze) Niagara. That's Niagara, with an N. (Sneeze, sneeze.) You should always blow into cotton t-shirts, as they're the only thing that doesn't give you a sore nose. Trust me on this one.
And today was one of those mornings where you're (literally) glad to be alive.
Aren't men such big softies, eh, girls? One teeny cold and they're getting thoughts of mortality. I bet if we knew what you women had to suffer we'd shut up, eh? I'm convinced it's because the only bit of reproduction we get is the enjoyable part.
Anyway, rambling on. Let's see what I can remember of tables. Oh - yesterday's little post was dropped onto Blorgy. Thank you for that. The first three who read it all gave a 1 vote, which I thought was a little unkind, and possibly represented an agenda rather than serious appraisal. Some people are VERY CHILDISH indeed.
It's always tricky phoning in sick. I truly hate it. Unless you're hooked up to intensive care, or in an iron lung (never see them much these days), you always can go in. But really should you? Fighting infections is hard work, on a cellular level. OK - it maybe doesn't seem like it as you lie there watching Six Feet Under DVDs and eating chocolate desserts, but it is. Recuperation is required. Or chronic illness can set in. Some of you work far too hard, I can tell.
Okey Cokey.... can you also tell I'm putting this table off!?!
More in a mo...
After several attempts I've decided to abandon the table format, as it strikes me as unnecessarily formal and rigid for what is essentially a spontaneous, "fun thing". So I've reverted to blockquote and list which are much more within my grasp. Face it, HTML is shite.
Often when I spy with my little eye around even my dearest blogpals I note inconsistencies. Things that "real people" would be unlikely to do or say. Entire confected families, in some cases!
How shocking is that?
So I've decided to start the ball rolling with mike of troubled diva, my sister-in-blog down Nottingham Way. Is he really Robin Hood? Or would Maid Marian be more appropriate? In short - let me run past you the idea that mike could in reality be a straight woman acting out her fantasy of being a wealthy, intelligent, socially-connected queen. To coin a term.
But which straight woman? Eagerly I cast my mind over the likely contenders. Sarah Dunant? Intense, well-read, but no. Kirsty Wark? Also no - the Scottish bit would have intruded by now. She couldn't help writing "fish supper", rather than the anglicised "fish and chips". Germaine Greer? Not poppy enough. Set in her ways. Bit fossilised.
But I can now exclusively reveal that after a multi-dimensional, super-string loaded, Intel Inside comparison, the diva is found to be....
NATASHA KAPLINKSY! (Glamorous BBC news presenter. Fashionable. Hobbies include make-up and - crucially - writing. Plus her surname begins with 'K', a name that crops up over and over again in Troubled Diva.)
It's true... just think about it for ten seconds, and you'll see how right I am.
Right... it's your turn in the comment box. Take no hostages. All are up for outing... even those who don't hang around here that much. (Why not?) Best will be elevated to my FRONT COVER!
Yesterday, one and only one paragraph seemed to dominate Naked Blog, but it's now removed. Those people are not noted for extending freedom of speech to critics, and there are many more lives than mine at risk in the production of this work. That's another tiny example of how successful their terror tactics have been. I've also amended the comment file slightly.
But thanks for all your comments! Apologies to those who took offence, but that's the way the cookie sometimes crumbles. "For what is a man...." etc. It can't all be fridges and Belle de Jour.
"Peter is to all intents and purposes right. Islam is a hate religion, like its monotheistic partners Judaism and Christianity. There are plenty of well-meaning believers who want to pretend that the commands to hate aren't there, but they are - the same way the Bible hates gay people, no matter what New Age Protestants might prefer to pretend.
If you believe in God, you believe in the Saved and the Damned. You are a hateful bigot. Accept it."
My own view is that I don't give a shit about any human religion. Priests, as well as Imams, are the essence of irrelevance. But the religion currently most likely to top me is the one mentioned yesterday. Hence my remark. Savvy?
NB has been around for a month or two by now, and you might enjoy this fragment from September 16, 2001, five days after 911.
"My local Indian Restaurant, which is M*sl*m-owned, had its window smashed the night before last. So yesterday I went in to buy a small meal, which I didn't really want, but to show some support. The owner came out of the kitchen to greet me, and just stood in front of me, quietly.
"I'm so sorry about this," I said, waving my arm at the still-wrecked scene. "Thank you," he replied. "There've been some others who have said the same." It seemed time for a big hug.
So the notionally Christian fag hugged the non-terrorist M*sl*m straight guy, and it was good. Sorry once again for the asterisks, but I really don't want the hate-people finding this page."
I was a little nervous. Of von Trier I knew only the immense Breaking the Waves, and the tiniest bit about Dogme, his studio. I knew the movie was experimental - whatever that was meant to be. I'd read one review which said that in Dogville von Trier had overstretched himself and his material. Well, it didn't look overstretched to me. Quite the reverse, just perfect.
The film opens with an overhead view of the Dogville town plan - just a few houses and streets. Dogville is a very small town, and the plan looks just like a Cluedo board. But soon you see it's not a plan; it's the stage on which the entire movie takes place. Yes, it's that theatrical.
But cinematic also, as I debated with Ally afterwards at Bar Italia, over pizza and Italian beer. He chose the prosciutto, while I plumped for funghi y pollo.
Cinematic in that the director uses the full grammar of camera work on the actors - the only thing missing is the scenery. That you supply in your imagination. Oh, there are little helpers. A heap of "rocks" at the edge of the stage is the mountain path out of town. A suspended "spire" represents an entire town hall, and so on. (But Lauren Bacall's gooseberry bushes remain nothing but drawings on the ground.)
Nicole Kidman is outstanding in the lead role of Grace. It's only my second Kidman movie, the first being Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, which didn't please. But this was another class. There's also sublime work from Paul Bettany who plays Tom her ... (but hey - I'm telling you all the plot!) John Hurt is the narrator, but neither Ally nor I were sure of that till the end credits. So completely has he lost his trademark "woodbine croak", we concluded he too must be free from cigarettes now. Well done, John. (Either that or he did it on a Ventolin drip. No - that's too ghastly a thought.)
Frostie was also on fine form with Lord Falconer, the Constitutional Affairs Secretary. (Yes, Minister?) Charlie, he called him, but he didn't qualify for a handshake. They were talking about the Guantanamo men - imprisoned for two years by the US, but subsequently released almost immediately back here.
Frost's interview skills revive! Maybe he's on new tablets.
Tuseday Night At The Movies!
Alastair and I are off to the flicks this pm, and need some advice. There's nothing at all on the plexes, so we're "going arthouse" to the Edinburgh Filmhouse. How posh. We're torn between Northfork by Michael Polish (who he?) and von Trier's Dogville, which is rumoured to be a bit demanding. Well - more than a bit. Although I've just spotted it's got an IMDb of 8.4, which is high.
What say you?
Isn't it great? Yesterday I sat and drank five, yes five delicious pints of Guinness on a near-empty stomach. After three days of sobriety. There could be no mistaking the subsequent effect. Am I out of control?
Yesterday morning I might have mentioned being twenty years younger - to get my mojo workin' - but nothing like that as the day drew close. No, for once I was exactly the right age - just perfect - to enjoy John Lennon's Jukebox on the South Bank Show.
JL owned a portable jukebox, it transpires. A precursor of the iPod, but containing only forty songs and weighing many kilogrammes. And it was those forty songs which were the backbone of this spectacular hour's programme.
There were the Isley brothers, from whom they nicked the oooooo used in many early Beatle songs. Bruce Channel (pronounced Chanel), who sang Hey Baby, (pronounced bee-beh) with harmonica by Delbert McClinton, whose style John adopted. Lovin Spoonful, Martha and the Vandellas, and loads loads more you can see here.
I was particularly taken with Donovan's contribution, who claimed to have taught John the folk guitar pickin style in India. Oh, the Maharishi was there too, in his usual non-speaking role these days, and Mia Farrow, and a cast of memories too numerous to mention.
Transcendental, I tell you. Oh, and you can buy the CD of John's jukebox, if you're that interested. I might just do that.
But that's not all! No!!
Straight after Mr Lennon, who should come on but a Mr Donny Osmond, (donny.com - surely a URL to die for!) chatting about his career. The show was called Faith and Music, but thankfully they kept the Faith bit on the back burner, and concentrated on the much more fascinating showbiz angle.
Donny lost the lot at age twenty, it transpired. From hero to zero. Stadia to school halls. It wasn't until his late twenties that Peter Gabriel called (ie phoned) him and they set about rebuilding his career. Soldier of Love is the song wot dunnit, and o my god what a hottie Big Donny was then.
I've watched Osmond with interest before, on Graham Norton's show, and he really does seem to be a "survivor", to use a much-hackneyed phrase, and not even with its common meaning. The sheer unhealthiness of his youth has apparently harmed him little or none, unlike let's say Mich*ael Ja*cks*on, of similar career. (The asterisks are to prevent searches, which would be just too tedious. Some people have the most bizarre interests. Did you know I once got googled for "queens mum naked"?)
It's new! It's blue!! It's through my front door!!!
Yes - it's the COUNCIL TAX DEMAND for 2004/2005. Surely my cup runneth over. This week it's my absolutely all-embracing to-do that I to-do myself along to their office and sort out my account.
If I don't do that, but linger all afternoon in sleazy bars instead, then you really, really must stop reading this drivel in protest. And I might as well top myself right now.
But maybe I'll wait till the Ides of March is over. Doesn't do to take chances with public houses buildings.
You know, I've got nothing for you today. No dazzling new insights on events, no questioning quizzes, no film releases to rip into celluloid shreds. Oh, and talking of that latter, the consensus at work yesterday was that both Sex Lives of the Potato Men and Lost in Translation were a heap of pants - two views already expressed with some vehemence here.
Validation is always good, particularly for the insecure (moi?), and I realise there were varied views on LIT. But - when it comes to the crunch - mine is the only opinion which matters. I'm sure you feel something similar about your own.
Jim Davidson was on BBC1 last night when I came in from work. Why? The man is a fat, racist homophobe. If I want Sun newspaper standards, then the Sun newspaper I will buy.
Someone who used to work for the Sun organisation is Andrew Neil, who popped up on Frost this morning to patronise the nation. "If this attack was by ETA, then that is a purely Spanish concern. If it was by Al Qaeda, then it's a huge global worry. And which country has been the biggest ally of the United States?" he concluded, rhetorically.
As Lyle would say, "No shit, Sherlock."
Really nice man, Lyle. From our exchanged comments and emails I can tell - even though we've never met - that he's chockablock with goodness, integrity and love. (Unlike some others whose polished words fail to conceal a disturbing evil.)
Right now he's having a hard time, so get yourselves over there and show some solidarity. You know - if I were but twenty years younger I'd be down Manchester way in a flash, getting rid of his current heterosexual phase. It wouldn't last long if I was around - I can tell you. No matter how many pop concerts I had to endure in the process.
Fun to dream, eh?
What was, what might have been, and what might yet be. (Not you, Lyle - don't panic!) This is the first springtime without cigarettes since age nine, and my mind and body are doing unusual things. Younger things.
"Too much information," said Babs last week, so I won't elaborate. But NB readers are far from daft. Vividly I remember this time in 2003 saying I was determined to "get a shag" that year, even if I had to pay for it. Well - surprise, surprise - neither thing happened!
I love Sundays, me. Sundays are the new Friday. Unless one of the other callers is ill or on holiday I have but the simplest of duties, and lovely people to perform them with. This has been a spectacular recovery this spring.
I know that constantly analysing your interactions isn't desperately healthy - a bit like a hypochondriac with a thermometer wedged in his gob - but for us depressives it's a good barometer of mental health.
But never forget - there are wicked fairies out there. All over the place. Just because someone's giving you their shit, it doesn't mean you're "failing to cope". Could equally mean they're just a nasty piece of work.
And that - my chickadees - is yer lot, for today. More, when something actually happens. Tomorrow is the Ides of March. I wonder if our anti-terrorist people read Shakespeare and my strapline.
Oh dear. There I was yesterday, unloading a mess of family neurosis on to you, my poor long-suffering reader, while just a few thousand miles away other families were being ripped apart by the murderers' bombs.
September 11, March 11 - I heard of them both first in the Village. Says something. Not quite sure what. It's time for change.
All love and sympathy from here, and if the Spanish people feel it's in retribution for their government's supporting US President Bush, then that is what they will feel, and I can't stop them.
Which would mean we (in the UK) would be next. So who is the bigger bomber?
These things are difficult to write about. Hard work, not easy. And seeing as Naked Blog resolutely remains a labour of love, I'll stop there and leave the analysis and platitudes to others. Others who get handsome pay packets for it.
In a few hours' time it'll be back to work. Can't wait. There's something permanent about my old ladies.
I need a hobby. Three days at work, followed by four in the same pub, is limiting, to say the least. Any ideas? It must involve people, so things like stamp collecting or masturbation are not really ideal.
Writing yesterday evening's post has upset my carefully managed tranquillity a bit. Pricked my protective bubble. So I've earmarked today for laughter and joy, not writing and brooding. Have a nice one yourself.
And maybe catch you later.
But before I dash...
Do schemies/chavs wear genuine Burberry? Please set our pub minds at rest. I say yes, but Jacks of GavnJacks says definitely no. She said they wear cheap copies from markets. Alastair asked how they could afford the real thing. I said they mebbe save up.
The miners' strike was huge. It was enormous in the sense it was something Mrs Thatcher had to win, and in the hopelessness of Mr Scargill's case. If there truly was no coal left in the seams, then there was little or no point in pretending to dig it out.
It shattered, it divided the country like nothing I'd seen before. It particularly fractured my own relations with my father (not a miner, although we all lived in a pit village), as being more or less a coda to the Falklands and to Vietnam.
If ever he needed proof that faggot sons were there to maybe possibly question Mrs Thatcher and ruin his world, then Vietnam, Falklands and the miners gave him what he wanted. His only big regret was that his pinko faggot son wasn't dying of that new-fangled AIDS. Had that happened his cup would have runneth over, and God would have been in His Sunday Times garden.
So that's what I think about the miners' strike. And he's dead and I'm not. Aren't weblogs wonderful?
Later: You don't know - how could you know - just how central coal had been to everything. From India to Australia to Canada - the sun never set on our glorious, coal-powered Empire. The one that Mrs Thatcher seemed dead set on destroying. This fight wasn't about jobs alone - it was about our fucking heritage.
Me, I was raised steeped in coal. It was on every windowsill, and in every draughty nook and cranny. My schools were both built with coal money, yet strangely doing well at school was the only way out of the pits.
I've written these things at length in the past here. Those who've read will remember, and those who haven't will never know.
Not good times. Many will have more to say and think than do I.
Later: But countries don't run on facts and truth; rather they run on lies and propaganda. Media - to coin a phrase. The principal media then as now were the Sun, News of The World, Times and Sunday Times - all of them owned by Rupert Murdoch, a frequent guest at Number Ten, and passionate Thatcherite.
The BBC was cowed and dismayed by the Thatcher machine and the constant threat of licence withdrawal (plus ca change), but there was one and only one programme which dared poke fun at the unassailable Tory dictatorship. Not on BBC. Not on Channel Four. Now what was it called again? Her Majesty's entire opposition relegated to thirty minutes a week.
And that is what you youngsters should consider as you rush into print with your childish Tony B Liar slogans. Just think for one minute what that man has achieved, and the evil his government - your government - has replaced.
Some of us lived those Thatcher years. You were mostly still at school.
The next day The police were central to all of this. "Thatcher's Private Army" they were nicknamed, as she doubled then trebled their wages so they would act no longer to preserve the law, but rather to preserve her government in power. Thatcher truly was the policeman's friend, and they spared no skulls in protecting her. Posters abounded of cops on horseback clubbing pregnant women protestors to the ground. Their behaviour was shocking, disgraceful, illegal, and some of us can never forget. One chief constable said he would have "serious difficulties" ever working under a Labour government.
With Thatcher in control of the police, and Murdoch in equal control of public opinion, her reign looked set for ever. It was only her incipient madness that scared the party enough to ditch her for the utterly different Major, who did his best, then gave way to Blair.
Some of my remarks here yesterday evening were shockingly brutal. Forgive me. Yet I am not, and never have been a miner. But it touched everyone, you see. On the news, night after night, as we saw the agents of the law riding roughshod over it. It split mining communities down the middle, with wounds that will still not heal, and was yet another nail in my relations with my own, Thatcher-loving, American father.
Vietnam. Falklands. Miners strike. How he vicariously lived them all - the consummate armchair warrior. Sun newspaper in one hand, Sunday Times in the other. While my poor mother sat silently weeping and wondering why her two men could never "get on".
One of the Funeral Directors in Leith has a gay undertaker. It's totally Six Feet Under, except they got in first here by several years. Yesterday as I was passing I saw Bernice outside, with her partner and her mother. I knew from the bingo that her daughter had died last week, at a young age, and of a rare condition. Bernice herself would only be in her forties.
Her partner had told me about it already. Everybody goes to the bingo when they're bereaved. Time after time I've seen them sitting playing, their eyes pouring tears all the evening. But they're home. Or, rather, their second home, with their second family. It's much more than a game, you see. Not merely a gamble.
But they can get guilt. There's a lingering Protestant idea up here that bingo is a wee bit sinful. Like drink. And certainly sex. So they often feel the need to explain. "Peter, I had to get her out of the house," B's partner told me. She said she was worried people would talk about her. "I said if they did they would have me to deal with," partner Caroline continued, and I nodded and hugged her close.
It's true. At last my mouth runneth over with teeth again, albeit some are more manufactured than grown. A Frankenstein monster walks the land - part man, part porcelain!
Great stuff, porcelain. Piss on it. Shit on it. Chew on it. Anybody know any good "whitening" toothpastes, btw? I got over forty years of tobacco stain to lose, and it's not disappearing as fast as I'd like.
After the dentist, a quick trip to the Village to say hi to Babs, even though I was too late for lunch. Dean and Brian were there, and Gordon who was unfashionably quiet. I heard the prime gossip of the weekend was Alastair dancing naked with gangsters in the Port (o Leith Bar). And smoking. Some queens!
To the Ocean Terminal, on me tod this time, where the sunset was close to spectacular. Asked Lipsnarl behind the bar about his Chardonnay, and he had the grace to offer a wee swallie. But it was undrinkable catpiss. Australian - Eden Valley. More like a three pound a bottle Colombard. And they were asking five fifty a glass.
I'm certainly no snob when it comes to wine, and there are bargains a-plenty to be had. But my training from the wine shop days still stands in good stead, and I can price a wine on one sip. So I seriously doubt if they'd be paying more than one-fifty a bottle for that plonk - and charging five pounds fifty for 225 millilitres. That's what I call a markup!
Anyway, after drinking and sunset-viewing, the rest of the evening was spent with my eyes glued to screens, for your edification below. See how I suffer for your art. I catch the turkeys, so you don't have to.
Surely a TV first last night, as Adrian, a wealthy twenty something with a brain tumour, chatted to his anaesthetist while the surgeon sucked out the bad guy with a metal tube. The trick is to get rid of tumour but not healthy brain, and at the boundaries they merge a bit. That's why the poor patient has to keep chatting and recognising flash cards.
Quote of the op: "I don't stop operating the minute they start to lose it. You can still go on for a bit longer."
But when Adrian started calling a mouth organ a violin, the surgeon decided that the end was near. He'd got 98 percent of the tumour out. Adrian was filmed some months later, physically somewhat healed, but a now a tormented and terrified man. Shame.
Jack Nicholson dates Diane Keaton's glamorous daughter. He has a heart attack, which is treated by a Dr K. Reeves. Mamma Keaton offers her house for him to recuperate in, and you can guess the rest. IMDb
It's fun because it's so awful - like Cocoon but with more shags. And how oh how does Keanu avoid those vertical frown marks? I would love to see the gay version, but they'll never make it. Gay men aren't allowed to be over thirty, except as figures of ridicule.
Naked Verdict: Harlequin/Mills and Boon time. Fun for the over-fifties, and fans of expensive lifestyles. Even a movie star's gotta eat.
Critical Footnote:How critics differ, even when working for the same setup! Peter Bradshaw and Philip French.
My advice: trust your own instincts. And mine too, of course.
Splendid weekend at work, marred only by a bijou spat-ette yesterday with one of my managers - yes, it was Andy... the young gay one. Our first row.
Needless to say, your hero (after ten minutes cooling-off) took command of the situation, and peace and love soon prevailed. My task was to acknowledge my own fault, get him to acknowledge his, and then "kiss and make up".
In the pink corner, Andy had the manager's office, desk, and an expensive chair to swivel on. In the other pink corner, now tending more towards purple, je had simply thirty years more anno domini, and rather less to lose.
We glared at each other across this cheap, veneered expanse. "You said so-and-so!" I lobbed across the court. "Ah - but you said so-and-so... in full hearing of the customers!" he volleyed. "Well - the customers sit there on purpose to hear what we're saying to each other!" I counter-attacked. "It's part of the show."
Prudence prevents me from revealing more, but at the end, when brows were soothed and backsides sufficiently licked, I proffered my hand. "This place is too small to fall out," I said to him. "We have to get on."
In Scotland that's called, "Shake, pal." Later that evening, still at work, I had a mild manic attack. SAD moves in a mysterious way.
Saw it last night on BBC2, and it kept my attention, if a bit nineties already. (Do kids still take ecstasy these days? :) IMDB
Me, I'm just a sucker for independent film, and this one being in Scotland is a bonus. I specially love actors new to me, as they're so much easier to believe.
It's not a movie easy to write about. Cinematic rather than literal, intensely visual, and slow-moving in that glorious auteur way that only few can achieve. It's when Hollywood tries to ape this with money and stars, that things can go badly awry. Such as Lost in Translation.
Samantha Morton, the lead, has been compared to Isabelle Huppert in the way she can hold the camera for ages with what seems like a motionless face.
What's it about? A girl wakes up one morning to find her bf dead beside her. It's suicide, with a note on his computer, and something else there also. The movie follows her subsequent actions, which are, let's say, atypical.
Try it. You might like it. Me, I'd certainly see it again in a few months - but only in a cinema. Coronation Street it's not. What say you?
Footnote Why is the IMDB search such a bugger? I have in my mind vivid pictures of a movie I saw in the early nineties, but can't put one single name to anyone, even though several are moderately well known. (OK - I was stoned at the time.) Yet I know the director is Canadian. But you try getting IMDB to give you what would seem a simple thing like a list of Canadian directors working around 1990. And no - it's not DC.
It's very trying. No sooner has my computer fan stopped whirring like a 1920s aviation experiment than the nearby Christians start ringing their bells to alert the flock. Part of me salutes the idea of a non-IT solution to messaging, but the other part thinks, "For God's sake get it over with". (Pun intended.)
Christianity featured in yesterday's Alain de Botton show called Status Anxiety. It's a three part series (and book, natch), exploring what status is, both then and now, and how you can resist the current, Western, high-finance model.
Until it largely lost its grip, the big C was a mighty antidote to financial status. The idea was that if the King of the World was a carpenter (sic) then didn't that just make money so largely irrelevant?
However, the Christian message has changed of late, in (not surprisingly) the USA. There the current philosophy is that God rewards good people by making them rich. (When asked whether poor people were equally being punished for being wicked, the Pastor became decidely evasive.) Money was a "by-product" of being good, was the somewhat fudged result.
A "motivational speaker" took no hostages though, explaining that people either decide to be rich or they decide to be poor and desperate. Silly twat - except that he doubtless considerably enriched himself with all this.
De Botton, who truly is the "litest of lite" philosophers, quoted variously from Marx, Weber, Schopenhauer and others. One of them (can't remember which) came out with a good line, which is that, "it is foolish to base your happiness on the contents of other people's heads". (That is - so many people live their lives in order to be "thought well of" by their peers.) He said the acid test of someone's view of you is whether they would come to your hospital bed if you were lying there dying. If not, fuck 'em. Luvvit.
He went looking for people who've tried to shun the current financial status model, first in a naturist camp, and then with a hippie-style self-sufficiency group. (No insult is intended here! I thought it all looked splendid. Forgive my lazy writing.)
De Botton moved on to the Bloomsbury Group, whom I'd always thought of as wealthy dropouts, but he told us they were quite poor. Art, gossip and alternative ways of love-making were apparently their "thang". They affected and influenced our lives today, but he didn't explain how.
And that's quite enough of him. About the status of book-writers and TV presenters he said nothing, and we have minds round here every bit as perceptive as his. Last week we chatted about freedom, which is a much bigger construct than status-change, but nevertheless includes and subsumes it.
My own view is that we're all far too quick to categorise and afford respect by people's occupations. (Well - I would say that, wouldn't I? :) I know this goes back into history (Joe Don Baker), but still it's something I try hard to avoid, both here and in real life.
Hence Al is always Big Straight Al, and never Al the plumber. Mary might be Mary the landlady, but the "landlady" bit is apposite to our relationship - unlike "Evergreen Norma", about whose occupation you know nothing. Gerry Not Guilty. Yorkshire Kriss. Rex in the corner. Tony my IT manager - who could be a jobseeker with a hobby for all it matters. Babs the woman, friend and mother is sometimes Babs the chef - but only on the days she's making my lunch. You are not what you do. Here endeth the lesson :)
I vaguely heard that last week the Prime Minister was making speeches banging on about the imminent terrorist threat. To which I say a cautious phooey - but keep away from aeroplanes. Talk about hedging your bets.
It's a feature of national life that in times of crisis, people instinctively turn to the government. So let's manufacture a crisis even if there isn't one. GWB apparently is doing the same by trying to annexe the WTC as his own, much as Thatcher tried to be both Churchill and the entire Second World War.
And that is that for today. Enough is enough, as Margaret Hilda sagely said. Do you know - the moment I typed that last full stop, my computer fan starred whirring like a cliche again. Talk about machine intelligence. Have a smashing Sunday. I love you dearly - whatever your status. Cos Naked Blog rules all :)
Quick quiz: If you scroll down my yellow sidebar (no need to actually do it!) you'll see that today, for one day only, I've been free from cigarettes for 247 days. OK then - for what is the number 247 most famous?
...yesterday in The Village. Alastair the owner was taking no hostages with his staff as he snatched up Wednesday's newspapers still on display and handed them regally to Reuben the hapless barman for disposal. "Go! Get rid of them. Out of my sight!" he instructed.
I looked around. It was a quietish period, and of the several people there, only Big Straight Al and I didn't actually work for the joint, in one guise or other. There could be mischief... ahead.
"Quite right, Alastair!" I chipped in. "Get them tellt. Needs a bit more discipline round here. You should see what they're like when you're away..."
What power a customer has! (So it's essential not to abuse it.) They're all actually pretty wonderful, if truth be told. I just like stirring it up now and again. How queeny. Well, life can't all be introspection!
Talking of which, thanks a bunch to all who contributed to yesterday's thought-piece. Some great stuff there, which I'm not really able to add to, without running the risk of triteness and insult. Sometimes things stand best as they are.
Except this: Danny (d.burr) our own Naked radio presenter in Illinois, offered for you the idea that full freedom would mean the absence of love. He even wrote a song about it, live in the comment box. Here it is. And hands off - it's his.
"love is a chain...love keeps you coming back home to the same one...you'll only go so far lest you lose the one you love...so, the more freedom you have...the less love you have...if you are totally free...then you must be totally free of love...because love is a jealous chain that wants your freedom...and you will gladly give it all away to the one you love."
Makes total sense. I constantly forget that so many people have someone to love, and it's great that you do.
Well - after lunch Babs and I trotted down to the Ocean Mall, to HMV and then to Zinc. Three pounds for a pint of Guinness, and four, yes four quid for a brandy and coke. "Next time could we have an estimate?" I felt like asking. Lipsnarl wasn't there, and instead we got a young man with the currently fashionable hairdo on his face. You know - a vertical line from lip to chin, broadening out into an anchor at the bottom. Very nautical.
And amusing. I'm convinced men only do hair round their mouths to make them look more like vaginas. Or is that a bit much to swallow with your breakfast?
Then Alastair turned up and bought us each a MaiTai which I'm sure is the cocktail du jour and tasted, shall we say, interesting. A ship was parked just outside the bar. VIGILANT, it said on the side, and right enough there were a load of aerials all over it.
"It's from Norway," Alastair said. "That blue and yellow logo always means Norway." "No, it's not," Babs retorted... " - I can see a Union Jack on the flag." We looked, and yes, there was a hint of a Union Jack in the corner of a larger blueish flag. "It'll be Australia," I said, never one to keep quiet. "Or maybe New Zealand. I bet it's got that Southern Cross on it."
The flag teasingly refused to unfurl for further inspection, so Babs trotted out and shouted to the men. She's good at that sort of thing. "It's fae Greenock!" she declared. "Fisheries protection." So we chatted about Franz Fischler and Ross Finnie for a bit. Then I went for a wee, and when I got back the ship had gone. Some speed, eh? Maybe they'd seen a fishery that needed protecting.
Then I ordered in another round of MaiTais, and felt deep in my pocket for the plastic. Easy come, easy go. Have great weekends all!
Okey Cokey - quiet at the back please - today's topic is freedom. That is, the freedoms we pampered Westerners enjoy. I fully acknowledge that more than half the world would swap places in an instant with most people reading this webpage.
Freedom. Does it exist? Is it possible? Have I got it? And - more importantly - have you?
Robin: Looks like freedom's more than just a word.
Me: I'm sure you're right. (Except I haven't a clue what you mean :)
Robin: I enjoyed this post a lot and I was equating your wanderings between drinking haunts with the episodic wanderings 'neath open skies evoked by 'Me and Bobby McGee'. Massively over-wistful in retrospect; the romance of the underfamiliar got to me.
Me: Thank you for enjoying the post. Except I have no Bobby McGee. Or if I have, he's an evanescent, fleeting composite of so much and so many.
Robin: Yes, I realise the lack of a Bobby. Sorry, I wasn't being completely rigorous. It was the sense of freedom and possibilities that struck me. And, of course, Bobby slipped away in verse 26....
Me: Getting this free isn't without pain and financial loss. I only realised late in life that when you don't have the heterosexual advantages, there's little point in aping that lifestyle. "Respectability" is a terrible drag. By that I mean other people's ideas of "respectability". There is a moral imperative to your fellows no matter what your age, stage or condition - but this is not the same as having neat front curtains.
Robin: But fridges now...
And there we left it. Until today.
Change of Life
The reason "mid life crisis" tends to hit men more severely than women is that (a) women are generally more sensible anyway, and (b) they also have a clearly-defined cut-off point when their youth departs. Men, on the other hand, "seep away".
I would say the crisis hits when you realise that all of your hopes, plans and dreams either have or haven't happened by now. That things aren't going to get significantly better than this, and that - oh dear me - it's downhill all the way from now on.
That is when you cry into the night, "But this is awful! I'm just a pawn in so many people's lives. A tiny cog in an unimportant machine. All of my life has been spent for other people."
That last one was the killer for me, so bit by bit I began systematically to unravel the previous forty five years. My closest friend and life-support had just died then anyway, so my life was never going to be the same in any case.
The job was the first to go. It was killing me. No way, Jose, was I going to let that continue. I looked around me in the pub and saw wave after wave of happy, laughing people - most of them on the dole.(Social Security.) That I was paying for. Handsomely. No longer.
My parents died, and my only sibling moved to another hemisphere. It's doubtful whether we'll meet again. So this is freedom.
Or is it? Some would say, "sad and lonely", and they might well have a point. Some days I don't know the difference myself. But today is sunny, and the trees are in bud if not yet leaf, and I think I know which version I'll take up for now.
Over to You
But today - for a change - NB isn't about me. The above is just to get you thinking.
What changes would bring greater freedom into your life? What situation or persons would you happily shed if you only could? Make a start here. Use a false name if you want. Belle de Jour.
About three the same schemie came into the Village to play the bandit (slot machine) again, but this time he was a little more communicative. "Could I have a fiver and five coins, please?" he asked Claire the barmaid. Then later, when those were spent, "Could I have a ten pound note and ten coins, please. And don't give me any more when those are done." The double use of please marks him as several leagues of humanity above many. Plus he'd shed his Burberry cap since yesterday. Middle class aspirations.
Bandits. I hate them. There are about thirty at my work, preying on the weak and addicted. Strangely, gambling's the only bad habit I never got. I've never once backed a horse. Don't buy a lottery ticket. Never do the football pools. I think it stems from my upbringing, which was as steeped in gambling as it was in cigarettes.
Would that I'd avoided cigs with the same fervour! Ah well, better late than never.
So I left the young gambler to his devices, and jumped on a seven bus from Ferry Road to the Southsider Bar. The barman was busy clearing plates, and when he returned to serving drinks three weegie workmen had come in. (Weegie means Glaswegian.) Double denims, rigger boots and cement-sprinkled ballcaps. Attractive. You could tell they were weegies by the way they spoke.
"Three pints of Carlsberg, pal," the dominant one announced, getting ahead of me in the queue/line.
"But first a pint of Guinness," I interrupted, not prepared to be sidelined so easily. (This was actually just a teeny bit brave!)
"You'd better give the man a pint of Guinness first - in case he sets about us," Prime Meat said then, graciously acknowledging my presence.
"Plus he looks like he supports your team!" he finished off, and all three of them laughed.
Supports your team could be either genuinely about football, or coded reference to presumed sexual orientation. Thankfully it was about football. I chatted a line or two with them in recognition, then didn't outstay my welcome. Very sweet.
The sun had quite gone, when I left the pub, and an entire new weather system had taken over. It was effing cold and windy, not to mince words. Hoody stuff, and I didn't have one.
Headed to Forrest Road, via that square where they do the skateboarding. Hardly anyone there. Sensible. All probably decamped to a nearby amusement arcade to make a bit rent money.
The thirty-five took me to the top of Easter Road, when what should I spy but the Regent Bar. Gay, as reputation has it. Should I? Could I? Dare I?
Mais oui! Off the bus I jumped outside Iceland, and trotted back up to the summit. Easter Road is quite steep at the top. A Jane Fonda workout. Not for stiletto heels, darling.
"Did you find your way round town OK," Nick the barman asked, on my second half pint - assuming I was a stranger. "Yes," I smiled back at him. "No problemo. I've lived here thirty years." We chatted some more, and the man was doing his best to sell the place to me. He told me that they don't have cruisy old men and rent boys. "But I'm an old man," I rebutted. ("Old" in gay terms means over 45 - maybe less. I don't want to horrify my readers.) "But I mean the sort that hang around the New Town (Bar)," Nick assured me.
I have to say I've no idea what sort of old men hang around the New Town, but I felt flattered he didn't include me. Very sweet. Later I got chatting to Alan the owner, who told me he also owns Joy and something else I forget. He said his bar was "straight-friendly". Luvvit. I'll be back. Maybe meet someone my own age who's also still alive. Chat about Dusty and Cilla, and how dreadful the young are these days.
Eventually got my act together yesterday, and as usual there was that spine-chilling choice of bus uptown or walk to the Village. I chose the latter.
Ian was my maitre d', and Babs sat at the bar enjoying her after-shift fag. Mark the wee masseur was there too, although the only thing he was massaging was a pint of lager. After we'd chatted a bit, and he'd oo'ed and ah'ed at my profession, he turned on me ever so slightly. Kitten-play. He said that last time we'd met I'd accused him of doing "extras" with his massage.
Was my gob smacked! It was such a shame. Here was a very rare thing - a young, gay man actually talking to me. Normally they look on my advanced years with a combination of horror and disbelief. (There are very, very few gay men of my age. Almost a whole generation was wiped out, just to remind you.)
And there was me blowing a potential friendship before it had even begun. Talk about Guinness-mouth. I explained to Mark that sometimes I got a bit drunk. (Understatement.) And if I had said that to him, then I was only joking and I unreservedly apologised. In fact, so profuse with the apologies was I that Mark changed from irritated to bored.
Dearie me. I never was any good with people. That's why I do this.
A schemie came in then, and played the bandit (gambling machine) for hours on end, which was a bit irritating, so I left and headed to Ocean Terminal and the Zinc Bar.
My usual "kiwi" bar steward was missing and in his place was something more local. He looked at me, the way twenties looks at fifties, curled his lip slightly, and imperceptibly raised his head. That is Scottish for, "Good evening, sir. What can I get you?" Yes, it really is - in a one pound fifty, schemie den. But for three pounds a Conran pint I'll take the spoken version, thank you - no matter how insincere.
I wasn't in the mood to back down and speak first though, so I exactly mirrored his posture. There we both were, lips slightly curled, heads slightly raised, staring and daring the other to speak first. He gave in. I think he sensed P45 also staring him in the face.
I got my pint, but it was dribbled over the side. Probably on purpose. I'll give him a week there.
The sun set gloriously over the Fife hills, the way it sometimes does. (But not for much longer, the amount of "luxury development" that will soon block the view forever.) Where to go? What to do? Surely I couldn't go to the cinema on my own? Isn't that just the saddest thing?
But no. It had to be faced. If you live alone, then sometimes you've got to do things alone. It's really a small price to pay for emotional autonomy.
Now.... da dum, da dum... which ones have I heard of? Oh look! There's...
One of the over-arching rules of fiction is that something occasionally has to happen. Anything, really. But something.
I'm reminded of the Biff Cartoon strip, many years ago, where an editor says to an aspiring writer, "Nigel, every now and again your principal character has to actually do something.
What the movie lacked in plot and purpose it partly made up for in "not quite" racism. Overdone perplexment at the Japanese language. Mr Murray unreasonably taller than surrounding Japanese men in a lift/elevator. And even visual comment on the consumerist corporations. Which - coming from Los Angeles, the world's consumer capital - is pushing the irony a bit far.
I fell asleep, to be honest. Missed the entire last half hour or more. And no - I haven't the slightest desire to find out what happened/didn't happen. (Unless it turned into a From Dusk To Dawn style vampire-fest while I slept.) I only hope my snoring didn't spoil it for the six other people there.
The Maltesers were two pounds, and nachos three.
And why oh why would someone as young, intelligent and attractive as Scarlett Johansson's character be even slightly interested in pock-marked old Bill Murray? Truly Hollywood double standards. But did anyone else think she'd had her lips collagened?
I did. There was a 2mm ridge where the white part ended and the red began. Check out the profile shot at the beginning when she's phoning. "Life, Jim - but not as we know it."
One saving grace was the script which at least wouldn't use up much valuable forest. In fact, two postcards would easily accommodate this Milk Tray nonsense.
Zoom in to OLD FART.
Hold for ten seconds.
Cut to YOUNG HOUSEWIFE.
Hold for another ten.
Repeat until the audience falls asleep.
Change the CD.
This is Sofia Coppola's third film as director, and it would be nice to say they're getting better. It would be nice, but untrue. It surely goes to prove that in Hollywood it's not who you know, it's who you're related to. (Francis Ford Coppola, Nicholas Cage, Spike Jonze.)
Yes - it's true. Sunshine on Leith for three days in a row. Is this a record?
Can't hang about. Must go out. (Whenever I say that I end up sitting here till mid afternoon.) But no - I've already put a washing in - three days before strictly necessary. Monday is looking good. This is progress with an upper case P.
Right then. There's plenty of weekend stuff to browse through, for you myriad office bloggers (o boy am I jealous), and I haven't a clue what's happened in the real world over the weekend, so I'm not even going to speculate.
Paul O'Grady and Kylie Minogue were both excellent on Parkinson, who's losing the plot bigtime.
It's a while since there's been a spring clearance sale here. Everything must go. Here are a few bloggers who've made themselves known to me of late, mostly in comment boxes. You'll enjoy them all.
Pogo is back - he's done Reloaded, and now reached Revolutions. (Still to see that, btw. Keep trying to catch up on the first two.)
Andy N is in Sedgefield, the Prime Minister's constitutency, and recent host to the Bush/Blair axis of military supremacy. Andy keeps sending TB emails, which he also publicises on his blog. But the PM's office seems a little tardy in replying. Although his blog is still less than two weeks old, Andy is already dropping comments on all the correct blogs. He should go far with that email angle. Maybe as far as a book deal.
Lassy, in Aberdeenshire, is currently snowed up. I bet it's glorious, from a fiat lux point of view at least. She's from Slovenia.
Stunned Mullet lives in Leith or thereabouts, and is deservedly becoming something of a presence on the 20six thing. She's just written her take on the Port o Leith Bar - a hostelry no stranger to these pages.
Anji teaches English in France. I think we "met" via zed. (Who you should also see today for her "porn" content.)
Oh, and talking of porn, it seems (surprise, surprise) that BdJ is getting a book contract. (Scroll down.) (That's not a sexual request.) And movie. Oh yes.
Do you reckon she'll give up "the game"? Or was she really ever on it? Me - I read a few of the posts and quite quickly found it both tedious and distasteful. And I can assure you I'm no prude. But I recognise one of two of you have developed something of a fascination for the site, either for or against.
And that's it. Tara for now, chucks. I've just wandered into the kitchen to make my second mug of steaming Nescafe Gold Blend, only to find I hadn't switched the washer on. Who cares? Fifty years ago I used to watch my mother and grandmother doing the physical equivalent of a marathon just to get a week's laundry done. I simply have to press START.
Have a happy Monday! My watch has stolen a whole day from me. It's a Casio as well. None of your rubbish.
Googled It's going to be another thousand-plus day today, thanks to Sex, Lies and Michael Aspel. (Foot of Saturday's post, below.)