Yesterday was a day of extremes. From me storming out of the Port shouting "Fuck off yer cunt!" at Robin, to 12 hours later calling the police with the 999 feature to two young men knocking seven bells out of each other on my stair.
Never a dull moment. Oh, plus I had my first ever drink with Little Alex.
Why this invective to the usually delightful Robin (don't call me bisexual, I'm a screaming queen now)? Because he hurt my ears. Literally, not poetically. He was climbing a ladder behind the bar in the Port when suddenly the loudspeaker volume from hell burst into the smoky air. His foot had caught on a volume knob, apparently. But we didn't know that then. And he was up the ladder laughing his socks off at my, Lindsay's and Wee Robert's agony.
Writing can't describe loudness. Trust me - this one was ear-damaging. Those little bones behind the eardrum which can get permanently displaced. Blood trickling out, and other such images. They were still hurting so much at bedtime I was afraid to go to sleep for fear of waking up permanently deafened. That loud. So loud it shouldn't be permitted in a public place. So loud I should consider the law.
That 57 years of nurturing and protecting this most fragile of senses should be wiped out by an asshole's careless foot on a criminally unprotected amplifier. And still he wouldn't stop laughing. It was hit him or leave. So I left, swearing like a cliche.
To the bus stop in Bernard Street outside the fish and chip shop, and somewhere to sit in my daze and confusion. (The one the prostitutes use for a seat and a gossip between punters.) Woe, misery, depression. Deafness just isn't an option in my career.
Then suddenly there was Little Alex in front of me, grinning in his fresh-faced youthful bloom! "Mary's sent me to bring you back," he said.
"It's no good, man," I replied. "If I go in that pub I'll have to hit Robin. Our afternoon together's fucked. Sorry, man."
At work he sees me calm, strong, in control of people and situations. Here I was slumped in a bus shelter on the point of tears. And old. I guess it's good to get the fuller picture.
Well, things could hardly get any worse after that, so - "Fuck it!" I cried. "Let's go for a pint!" We tried this place and that one. Isobar. Java. Babs turned up. (She likes younger men.) And then, gravitationally, we ended back in the Port and Robin's apology.
This is called in Scotland a guid efternun's bevvy. (A good afternoon drink.)
Today I can still feel the hurt in my ears and hear the sizzle. Still furious - not so much at Robin's accident, but that such a volume should ever exist in a small, confined bar. Could happen again any time.
And there I was at two in the morning knocking seven bells out of these guys in the Playstation game, when suddenly I realised it was happening for real on the flat staircase below me!
Two young men bawling and shouting at each other. No regard for the time of night. Hitting. Throwing stuff. "Get out of my fucking house and don't fucking ever come fucking back!!!" It would be fair to say their friendship wasn't at its highest point. Zenith.
The ruck was over a girlfriend, I detected by listening at the door after the police came. True love never runs smooth, eh? Especially when you're young.
A section in which you write the material, and I get the credit.
Last Tuesday I was waxing nostalgic about the glory-blog days of 2001 and 2002. This generated a lot (for this weblog) of comments in the box below the piece.
Mike agreed with our view that the exciting, "boldly go" stage was now for ever behind us...
"So, has blogging reached its "fings aren't what they used to be" stage, for some of us comparative old hands at least? I suspect it might, and I also suspect that it was inevitable all along. For my own part, there's also a creeping sense that it has All Been Done now.
That "pioneering" feeling has definitely gone, and I find myself tiring of constantly covering much the same subjects and expressing much the same sentiments, in much the same voice, in the same medium, month after month after month, to an "audience" whose members dwindle away as fast as new ones appear. The net result: a kind of creeping dumbing down, which I feel powerless to resist."
Imagine my surprise and delight though, when some days later this popped into both my comment box and email. (Belt and braces from down under.) It's from Sal, and to my knowledge the first time he's 'fessed up his net history. I elevate it entirely "as is".
>So, has blogging reached its "fings aren't what they used to be" stage, for some of us comparative old hands at least?
i think it's probably fairer to say that YOU, ie your "generation" of bloggers/participants, have reached the end of your first cycle. You've burst into a new sub-universe, dominated it, "grown" it & nurtured it, seen it spawn other universes, and have grown more aware of the bigger picture, now that the surging foam of popularity is not new to your ears.
And so you then look at the newcomers in their own little downstream pocket universes and you think" blogging's not what it was
and you know? blogging wasn't what it was when YOU joined.
i've been actively netted since 1983. dave winer's site's journal was a minor tweak on what we'd been doing before. newcomers leapt upon it as a revolution. etc.
i mourn the death of the old usenet culture. email@example.com has won. and yet, you know, the internet rolls on. and there are little subuniverses which declare their own rules in line with the old community they valued and like to live. londonbloggers' creator's forum, for example, is quite similar in tone to ~1990 news.
i've seen more of these rolling growth things than you can shake a stick at
i see it as an ongoing process. a fractally extruding inflorescence. each source/growth-heart beautiful and rich and significant for what it is and does, and each source spawning its own shower of downstream children. blossoming and growing out of and thrust forwards ever faster by its parent's blossoming and growing out surface.
parents' lives don't stop or become trivialised because their children build lives of their own"
And that, so far, is that. Sorry to hit you with a wave of bloggness on a Monday morning, but as you (should) know, I work all weekend and thus have nothing else to say.
Sadly, work calls me for yet one more hour, but I've lots to say to this in response. Laterz, dudes.
(Oh, this pm I'm having drinks with a colleague! Yes, really. It's at his instigation, as I'm far too shy ever to suggest such a thing myself. He's 24, young enough to be my grandson, and very, very interesting, amusing and intelligent. I've told him my mission is to make him middle class!! hehe.)
Then tonight it's dinner at Sandra and Johnny's. Too, too much for a white lady. But I will respond to Sal's stuff soon.
No Breakfast With Frost this morning, so I Channel-hopped all the way to number 3, before stopping in my tracks, as usual, infuriated. GMTV Kids, or summat.
Advert time! (Close to ten minutes.) It was small children pretending to like various toys. Batteries required. Then there was Kelloggs Coco Pops, now even more chocolatey!
This is the programming that parents, exhausted from overwork to keep up the mortgage and bank payments, slam their children in front of because it "shuts them up" for a bit.
This is a government, further to the right than Sir Mark Thatcher, which refuses to make one single stand against the forces and powers of big business. Don't believe me? Then please leave your list in the comment box. Please do.
Other countries can outlaw advertising to children as the abuse it surely is. Here we're content to treat our precious future as a consumer market. Unspeakable. My rage knows no bounds at Mr Blair and his ilk.
You could get it banned next year, with a little activism. Yes, you could. But you don't bother either. Me, I'm old enough to remember when children's TV was to entertain us.
Oh, and when the ads were finished some cartoon came on. Yu Gi Oh, I think it was called. Robin wrote about it some time back. You watch the show then buy the expensive picture cards featured. What Robin didn't write about was the proliferation of MacDonalds red 'M' arches all over the place. Cunning stunt. Great way to treat our children, doncha just think? Aren't you proud to belong to a society which brainwashes innocent kids for a living?
SalTation responds to our short blogging essay below. Great stuff. Plus the (ta-da) winner(s) of the Great Naked Quiz!
Three blogs for you. Some you might know already. One you almost certainly won't. (All of these came to my notice via the comment feature, which has been getting a deserved share of praise lately. All hail, IT Tony! He should think about selling them.)
Andre of a beautiful revolution has just been rejected by the BBC, which is a lot further than I've ever got. (Although I've still got a clutch of rejection letters somewhere from Spitting Image.)
Unlucky Man I've spotted around various comment boxes, but now he's landed on mine and hit the jackpot. How lucky is that, eh?
Doodlebug of Stranger Than Fiction lives locally, and is about to write for The Leither.net, but this is his solo creation. Very interesting, esp for those who like to find blogs in their first week of life.
Thought For The Day
Why is it whenever you squeeze a spot on your bum, it immediately swells to four times the size?
'Twas only 66 of the Fahrenheit scale this am; that's another 2 degrees away down the Swannee since yesterday. Autumn looms ever nearer. I keep thinking I should be regretting wasting my life, but just can't seem to do that. Rather, life seems pretty good these days... right here, right now. Consider the lilies.
Scott, one of our close community, ships out today till December. He's going to email in stories from the four corners of the globe. Travelogue for The Leither.net
Strange life that - floating consumer goods around the wet bit of the globe so that corporations might profit. Everything's in containers. The crew often don't even know what they're carrying.
There's a pecking order on ships, and as first engineer he's near the top of it. At the other end come the Filipinos. I'm told. But Scott would be nice to everyone. He's that kind of man. I know. Lonely life though, spending two thirds of it at sea.
Merchant seamen don't pay UK income tax - did you know that? Sometimes this narks me a bit... free-loading our services for several months a year, but that's the way it is. In any case, most of the Port o Leith customers free-load all the time.
They have a condition called Work Avoidance Syndrome, in which even the thought of getting out of bed before noon creates such distress as can only be alleviated with strong alcohol and marijuana. Must be hell.
And those of us who prefer to pay our way in society have to fund their fertile lives.
Coming over all Thatcherite on you! Isn't it wonderful about Mark Thatcher getting his come-uppance? I always knew there was something fishy about that family's finances. His mother fucked this country over, and now he's wanting to carry on the tradition. Hanging's too good for them. Throw away the key, NB says.
Hosting for the Leither.net was down for part of yesterday, so apologies if you couldn't access your favourite webzine. But get over there now and learn about Leith's "land army" of prostitute women! Oh - it's not all web design and snapping the stars hereabouts, you know. Story by Amanda, who is destined for big things. Our own Julie Burchill.
I'm getting sleepless nights from a manhole (personhole?) cover in the street outside. Clanks to buggery, as Stuart would say. The council have a friendly lion called Clarence who is your first line approach with road problems. Then doubtless Clarence does fuck all about it, just like the rest of the Council. Oh - except sell off the skyline to property developers. They're good at that. But that's not Clarence. That's money talking. Brown paper bag.
Me old pal IT Tony is writing great blog now. Read about his wife's fortieth birthday bash (you truly don't look it, darling), and his daughter's exciting day of filming with Lachlan the diminutive Day Lewis. Get over there and leave some comment lurve. (Any more by "Peter" and it'll look a bit of a setup.)Shock Update! I hear the patter of tiny feet! God willing.
Talking of comments, yesterday we had our first bunch of comment spams. It was a long list of domains for sale. So we need a "character max" to remove the problem, and IP tracking also. I have my suspicions, actually. If you get any more weird stuff in the comment boxes, please ignore it. Likewise, if your comment accidentally gets deleted in the cleanup then my apologies in advance. Unspeakable people.
Thanks for completing the quizzes, those who did. I see most are confessing they didn't even glance at the archives, which I thought was the whole idea! Next time I'll make it pure general knowledge. "How many twin towers collapsed in September 2001?" That sort of thing. "Who is the most evil man in the world?"
It's cool now, summer in the city. Only 68 degrees in my study this morning. Seemed chilly! The Buddleia blossom (Leith's second favourite weed) has all but disappeared - but what were those beautiful butterflies all around them? Brown with four "eyes" on the wings? Technically moths, I suppose, as they landed with wings spread open. (Is that still true about wings, btw? That's what we learned as kids.)
And now I'm off into the cool summer day. Too much typing is not a good thing. Do not tinkle like jade, or clatter like stone chimes.
A ladyís right to, ahem, flog her mutton at the harbour has been a tradition for centuries and will hopefully continue long after the Leith Links Residents' Association members have flounced off to Dunfermline in a huff. (Amanda)
FINGS AIN'T WOT THEY USED TO BE
A short essay on blogging
I can't believe I'm about to write this, but something makes me. You know how in every pub there's some guy who'll berate you for hours about how much better the place once used to be? Or TV? Or pop music? You can see where this is going now, can't you?
Blogging isn't the same any more. There, I've said it.
And do you know why it isn't the same?
Because it's not new any more. The sense of "pioneer" has been and gone, and now what we're left with is the upshot, the result. And many-splendoured it surely is. Check out my sidebar.
But you know, like a first love, it's the earliest ones which will remain with me.
What's brought all this on? The archives, that's what. Skimming 2002 this morning for the latest quiz. Reading January 2002 when NB was still less than a year old. Spotting the old links, now usually long gone... in the USA almost always. That country always so quick to embrace new media.
Reading these wonderful people from NYC to California, I got this great idea of what their lives were really like, unlike in a book or movie. The excitement when someone new came along... where did they fit in? What brought them to blog? Were they a Hoopty blog or a Geek (with his stylish dotcom) blog? We all emailed each other, all the time. Me being in Scotland was a huge novelty for them - like something by Sir Walter Scott.
Peter the Scottish blogger! He lives! He breathes! He can work a computer, and he's almost 100 ! I lapped it up.
And then the youngsters, late teens moving into adulthood. Josh in Alaska and Ryan in Manchester who wrote possibly the first "insomnia blog". Tears to my eyes with their young hopes and dreams, so eloquently crafted and so freely given.
We felt brave then - like we were doing something important. Liberating the written account from the clutches of the professional publishers. Mass amateurisation.
In January 2002 I could write about blogging vs cinema
Forget tired old film stars dripping in borrowed diamonds. Ignore those flashing cameras as the winners act their butts off, trying and failing to pretend humility. Cinema is fake - this is real. Cinema was then - this is now.
With the coming of the weblog community we at last can sense that fifties dream - of collective human consciousness. No medium, no art-form has had what we have now. When you weep, my heart lies heavy, and when you laugh my joy breaks bounds. For we - that's you and I, my literary friend - are the brave and stumbling pioneers, the very Sultans of Cyber.
And when your grandchildren, with their SMS virtual-reality implants, laugh at today's crude equipment, you can say, "At least we made a start".
But while all this was going on Stateside, and Naked Blog was one solitary wire beneath the Atlantic, much was happening in my own country, or at least England, which I'd turned a blind eye to. Tom and Meg were very early starters, and have continued in glory to this day. Mike came to my notice in early 2002, and it was principally through him I learned of the wealth then of Britblogs and gayblogs.
I was no longer alone. My USP was fucked. Bit by bit the transatlantic connections unravelled, and UK based weblogs filled the gaps. We had so much more in common. What was lost in the "wow" factor was gained in the "oh, do you get that feeling too?"
Bloggers stopped. That eager, almost fresh-faced period at the beginning could never, ever be again, as we learned that nothing and no blog was for ever. You come and go. Next!
Just like life, maybe. Also from Jan 2002...
Words are easy, they always say, and for us, my blogging friends, the easiest of all. We toss them like gemstones into the sand - some cheap, some good - but we toss them nevertheless, knowing that tomorrow there'll always be more.
And there always are. Good night my new blogging friends! I'd like to say we suffered for your art, but we didn't. It was the roller-coaster ride of my life, and I wouldn't have swapped it for diamonds - even though it's gone much quieter now.
So what is next? :)
(It's late now, and I hate doing links. Manana, I promise. Then I have 2001 to wade through, with all that that entails.)
"...so he poked him and said, 'You're that Stephen Dorff, aren't you?'"
This is how I'm told Reuben Paris, snapper to the stars, greeted Christian Slater in the Iso-Bar. But let me get stuff in order.
You know, I wasn't going to do any more Slaterwatching here on NB. Maybe a touch in real life... here and there... but short of any actual sighting (or - swoon - conversation) I was just gonna let it rest. Even The Sun knows when a story's run its course. Look at Mrs Thatcher.
So there I was in the Port, having negotiated Evergreen Norma and Gerry Not Guilty, and landed beside Hymie the freelance security consultant. He's called Hymie because he's one sixteenth Jewish. Nice man. Travels a lot in the Middle East. Maybe he's really a spy.
Big Robert came over. "He was in here over the weekend," Robert said. "Who was?" I feigned, feeling terminally sad at what I guessed was coming. "Him - Christian Slater!" he replied. "He was in here but nobody noticed him, so he went to the Cougar Lounge."
"Awesome, Robert," I said. "Pure class in a glass." Then, "Do you know what I like about this bar?" I said, gently gesticulating round the human flotsam. "You can come in any time of the day or night and the same people are here. Drunk and laughing."
He smiled in recognition. "And you've become one of those people," I said to him then, tenderly and without accusation.
It was pissing down now. Pissing wi' rain, as we say here. That's because I had a day off work. Today is another chance to see.
So I strolled along the riverbank in seventh heaven, rain playing percussion on my trusty brolly. I love it that a flimsy black cloth is shielding my self from God's elements like that. It's the same in a tent. Soft, but strong. Close to nature is the only place to be.
Chav Gav was there in The Village! And Sci Fi Gordon! It was just like the repeat season had started already. And it was Gordon who regaled me with the Slater tale above.
Reuben (a former beau of Gwen), had been in the Iso-Bar with Emma his new love. (Isn't Emma just the bees knees for ladies of that age?) Drunkenly spotting la Slater sitting there, he stumbled over and prodded him. "Aren't you that Stephen Dorff or somebody?" he demanded. "I know... Kiefer Sutherland !!"
Mr Slater's reply was not recorded. And I'm so jealous!
Thanks to all who took our three Naked Knowledge Quizzes, scattered not too far below.
These are for your enjoyment and entertainment. There are no cash prizes. I don't know how to make CD mixes, and you would hate my taste anyway. My attempt to have Naked Blog t-shirts made is still on the drawing board. Practical isn't my thing.
Some of you are quite keenly competitive, however, and so I've devised an interim leader board.
Of those who've taken all three tests, this is the current position...
250 IT Tony
250 mike t-d
220 Invisible Stranger
Part Four (2002) of the quiz will appear here very soon. Thanks for your interest and get studying! As I say to my bingo ladies - it's not the winning, it's the taking part.
(In fairness to mike I should point out that Soren, IT Tony and gav all live in the Naked Blog Community.)
Why the delay? So as to postpone any disappointment. I must confess that's what almost all Playstation games have been.
DOOM! Where is thy sting? Well - it's back, DOOM3, as I'm sure you know by now. Must start saving for an XBox. I think that's the wtg anyway. PS2 was probably a "past its sell-by" mistake.
I'd get a PC to play DOOM3, but always find that by the time you get in your anti-virus and firewall and god knows what else they've slowed to a juddery crawl. Deja vu with this present steamroller and Unreal all those years ago.
Stop wandering and tell us about Manhunt!
Well - I actually got the first level (which owes a lot to Kingpin) completed. It's a guy called Jamed Earl Chase, who gets executed by the US court, but not really, so he revives and they put him on the street to clean it up.
Lots of mindless murder, natch, but all the victims are "hoods", so that's all right then. (Well - it probably is.) Very moral.
Some strangers came to the bingo last night. I think they were a gay male couple and one of them's mother. (I've written before about the unaccountable attraction of bingo for the Sapphic and the Sodomite.)
Nobody spoke to them (except me - but that's my job), and they didn't win anything.
Illustrating a grave peril of going to a new bingo. Thou shalt not sit in a regular's seat.
Conspiracy? What conspiracy?
The above isn't much. Has hardly taken you a moment. If you want a much longer (and more thought-out) read for a Sunday, try the coincidence theorist's guide to 9/11. As mike says - it makes M. Moore seem like an episode of Tellytubbies. (Well - he didn't. But he would have if he'd thought of it.)
I drew her to one side and made my face to face apologies. She said it really wasn't that bad - as I'd suspected. "Chinese whispers," she said to me. "But I did feel you'd maybe misrepresented what I said."
So I told her of Naked Blog, what it is and what it isn't, and admitted I should have asked her permission to write up our conversation.
I should have, godammit. Nae doubt aboot it.
I took her hand briefly. She didn't accept a drink. I think we made the best of it.
I must confess I've had this for a week on pirate DVD, meaning to get in an early review for you. Beat the press, like in the Slater tale below. Get lots of Google rankings.
But no. Either I was too drunk each time, or the movie was too boring, or the transfer too crap, or any combination thereof. I've slept my way through it three times.
So let me give you instead the much more sober reflections in The Herald, which we must no longer call The Glasgow Herald, for reasons I've never fully understood.
The reviewer repeatedly contrasts The Village with von Trier's Dogville, but I'm not sure that's a valid comparison. Dogville is electrifying. It's the highest of high art. Even the undoubted talents of Phoenix and Weaver can't elevate Shyamalan to von Trier.
Anyways... I've appreciated what I've seen of The Village enough to nip along to the Multi and see it properly. Sober(ish), awake, and in glorious CinemaScope!
Time to put young Christian to bed now, as it were, seeing as the Edinburgh Evening News have got in on the act yesterday bigtime.
"Customers in Iso-Bar, where Slater has frequently been seen hanging out after his afternoon shows, told how the star has left £40 tips.
One regular at the Bernard Street boozer said: "Heís been in nearly every night with LA sidekick Dave Stone."
We even got Dave into our story last week.
"Staff at the pub said the star was living in a nearby rented penthouse flat while he was working at the Festival.
"I heard he was thinking about moving soon, maybe because people have started to work out where he lives," added one member of staff.
"Some of the staff have got really friendly with them - one or two of them have even been to his flat."
Well - remember Danielle's friend Nicky?
Bar staff in Leith said Slaterís recent health problems, which delayed the start of his Fringe performance by four days, have not affected his heart-throb looks. "He looks really good - no sign of the chickenpox at all. In fact, heís got really good skin," said a barmaid.
The Cougar Lounge on Bernard Street is another favourite haunt for the actor, who chatted with bar staff when he popped in for a drink last week.
World Scoop! Today I can exclusively reveal that Christian Slater is celebrating his 35th birthday at one of Edinburgh's most stylish venues!
Although obviously Naked Blog is aware of the luxury location, we've been asked by certain parties not to reveal it. Nor shall we. But think MTV last year! (Hint!)
(Sadly my own invitation seems to have gone missing in the post. You really can't get a decent postal service these days. Tsk.)
Anyway, there I was sitting in the luxurious Cougar Lounge in Bernard Street yesterday - wondering if he might breeze in - when I heard the head barman shouting, "That's the Evening News on the phone asking about Christian Slater. Tell them nothing!"
(They'd obviously just read yesterday's Naked Blog. First with all the important news.) Then the heavens opened. Three raindrop stuff. Coming down in stair rods. Stotting off the pavement.
So, while parts of Cornwall were being washed away like birdshit, I sat there with a bottle of Bud enjoying the spectacle.
People who are foolish enough to live near rivers and/or the sea will just have to accept their homes are liable to be washed away at any time. Global warming.
We've even got it here, with ants on the pavement. Never had that thirty years ago. Had to go to Spain to see pavement ants. Or Belgium.
In these small ways does the planet change.
As mentioned in the story below, Mary Moriarty and I went on a touch of Slater-stalking around teatime yesterday. Although Mr S was - as always - conspicuous by his absence, we did however chance upon Liam Rudden and his lovely friend the actor Arron Usher.
OK - we never got to see the Hollywood star, but at least the star we did meet was friendly and chatted to us.
The Limits of Blog ?
Once upon a time, when the world was young, and the year had lots of 9's in it, blogging was a simple task.
You chatted to someone, wrote up the story to amuse yourself, and no-one in the universe ever read it. End of story.
So imagine my shock and distress yesterday when told that my report of a conversation had caused the person involved some upset.
(Reports of the level of upset might be greatly exaggerated. I'm not the only drama queen in town.)
Do you warn everyone you speak to that their words, thoughts and actions are liable to be published? I certainly don't. Mind you - almost everyone knows that already. It's the almost which seems to have been the problem here.
Oh dearie dear. We seem to have upset Karen in the Iso-bar, co-star of one of our recent little Slater-tales.
So Liam Rudden told Mary and me this evening in the stylish but utterly soulless Lighthouse. "I wouldn't go in there again, if I were you," he said to me, ominously, referring to the Iso-bar.
Liam is among other things the Arts and Entertainments editor of the Edinburgh Evening News - an estimable rag we have occasionally graced with our efforts.
This is a shame. Here at Naked Blog we seek never to offend our sources and correspondents.
So let me gloss the article as it was written, as a lesson to my younger blogging fans about how very accurate indeed you have to be in live interviews. The libel laws are extremely active, even on the internet. Misrepresent at your peril !
You'll see from the below account how very carefully and accurately I reproduced Karen's words. Although I don't take notes in my "chats", all these years of blogging have given me a Dictaphone-style memory for conversation. Rarely, if ever, do we stray from the words as spoken. Here's the post again, with commentary in red.
I wasted no time in heading to the Isobar yesterday. "I hear Christian Slater drinks here!" I said to Karen the barlady. "Yes, he's been in," [ verbatim ] she half whispered, smiling as she poured my Guinness.
"What's he like?" I asked, breathlessly.[ verbatim ]
"Short," she said. "Only about five foot eight - and very shy."[ verbatim ]
"How awesome!" I said.[ verbatim ]
"Yes," she agreed. "I was here on my own and I was like... wow, a Hollywood star!"[ Almost verbatim. The "wow a Hollywood star" was indicated, but not said in those precise words. If I'd remembered the precise words I would have used them. ]
"Where's he living?" I asked then.[ verbatim ]
"In that street round the side of the Cougar Lounge," she told me. [ verbatim ] (In Leith, pubs are the principal landmarks.)
"Timberbush," I said. "That's right - " she agreed. " -there's a guy called David staying with him, and he came in first, and he was like... 'I've got this guy who's in a play... is it all right if he comes in...'?"[ as near verbatim as makes no difference. We're talking 99.9 percent.]
Karen and I agreed this was all too much for a white lady. [ Now this sentence was indeed total invention on my part. Karen said no such thing. But I genuinely felt a mutual appreciation of Mr Slater was happening here. ]
And thus. Sorry if you weren't aware your conversation was liable to hit the world wide web, Karen. I hope you appreciate that there was no intention to cause you any distress. That is not what we're about, at Naked Blog.
Rather we deal in peace, love and a little laugh now and again. You're dead for a very long time.
After lunch yesterday at Babs' bit, then coffee with Sandra, I freed myself up for the day's main task.
OK - I know you think it's terminally sad, a gent of my age stalking a 34 y/o Hollywood starlet, but do you know something? I don't give a shit what you think. I'd just spent three whole days giving all to my bingo ladies, and now it's payback time. Get those batteries re-charged for the next round.
"Has Christian Slater been in over the weekend?" I asked of the lady in Iso-bar, as it should more properly be hyphenated. "No," she replied, shaking her head sadly. "But he's been in the Cougar Lounge quite a bit."
(The Cougar Lounge is a converted bank on the wrong side of the tracks that absolutely no-one goes into. Except Hollywood stars, apparently.)
So I was just getting tore into Episode Three of The (paper) Leither magazine, when who should breeze in but Danielle Milne, queen of Leith Mediaworks! Leith's answer to Kirsty Wark.
Well, we chatted bigtime. Danielle's acting today in the same ad as Tony's daughter Alice. It's for some ferries in Aberdeen. Good luck to all. Break a leg.
(Although NB's position on advertising is quite clear... spawn of Satan himself... there's nothing morally wrong in acting in them. Get back some of the filthy lucre they make, eh?)
Danielle hasn't seen Mr Slater either, and said she'd be wary of dating him until his chicken pox was quite cleared up. Her friend Nicky has been to his rented home in Timberbush though. It has an enormous hall.
You've got to wonder if that's the only enormous thing in it.
Went home and watched a programme about how banks lie, steal, manipulate and cheat their customers out of millions. But you saw that here first. Several times.
The sole purpose of banks is to lend you as much money as they think they'll get back. Remember - it's you doing them all the favours.
Unspeakable people. I don't know how they can sleep in their beds at night. They make bingo quite positively saintly.
Must start thinking about my outfit for the next (live) stage of the bingo calling compo. There's six weeks, thank heavens. Some break in the turmoil.
I'll probably be in the paper. Well... he will. My alter ego monster. Me, I'm just a shy country boy. Bashful and tongue-tied. Please like me. You can ride my bike if you'll be my friend.
Had a lengthy chat with Mary about Friday's drugbust in her pub. She's still quite shaken up about it. "Why do the cops always ask my age?" she said, with irritation.
After the last few days' excitements we've succumbed to morbid infection. Stress. Where's Mr Zhang of Kang Le Healthy Herbs?
So my nose is like Niagara Falls, if you really must know. And I was finally permitted to come home from work last night when I informed my young manager that I couldn't talk to the customers without snot coming out.
Talk about customer service! Dickens would have a novel about it.
Anyway - if you can be bothered reading that far down you will learn of recent thrilling events.
I'm thinking blue with silver sequins for my jacket.
Yes, it's true. After supervising Naked Blog, and Magnificat before that, for all these years, Tony my IT Manager has bit the blog bullet and started his own great opus.
It's called No, Luton Airport, a reference to an obscure ad he still remembers fondly. (Eeeek!)
And it's a cracker! Tony's USP (unique selling point) is that not only does he live within vomiting distance of the Port O Leith Bar, but he heads up a fascinating family also, all except one with their own blogs already. (The exception being lovely wife Louise. Think Uma Thurman in that recent flick. But not quite so lethal.)
Four young bingo workers got more than they bargained for when they breezed into the Port O' Leith Bar for an after-work restorative on Friday night. No less than three hefty Leith Police were in attendance, with Gerry the hapless DJ as the apparent focus of their enquiries.
Mr Gerry was soon led protesting out the place to the strains of Dancing Queen Megamix, along with all his equipment.
But, "The Show Must Go On!" declared Mary, the consummate professional, as she sat down with her young customers and entertained them with tales of the blackout.
Big Straight Al kindly took over the spinning discs, and Gerry is reported to be helping police with their et ceteras. "He'll probably walk," opined Andy (24) from the bingo.
Reports that the cops were actually lifting Christian Slater for doing a line of coke in the gents are, we understand, totally without foundation. As is his acting, allegedly.
There I was chatting to Mary in the Port, when Robin (don't call me bisexual, I'm a screaming queen now) came in with John Macaulay - whom I've now decided isn't quite that bad. So long as you let him win every argument. Quicker that way, anyway.
(Don't know about you, but I always get a bit pissed off when two faggots enter a bar together. I always get the feeling they've just been "doing stuff". And I of course haven't. Evah. For decades.)
"I see you've taken to staying overnight at Andy's house!" I shouted to Robin. (Andy being one of the "youngsters" from my workplace.")
"You just keep your mouth shut about me!" I warned him. "I already asked Andy if you'd tried anything on!" I continued. How nasty. But Robin is a notorious "trier-on".
"My two worlds are colliding in your bar!" I wailed at Mary then, over what must have been my fifth or sixth drink. "Well - what have you done that you're so ashamed of?" she demanded. "Nothing!" I said, after thinking a while. "But that still doesn't mean I want them at work knowing every damn detail of my last twenty years."
We laughed and drank some more. Babs came in. And Sandra from Caithness. She's moved back down to Edinburgh.
Time passed. Robin told me a delicious scandal about my workplace, and then started screaming at me not to repeat it. See - it's started already, just not in the direction I'd expected!
And now I have work there for the weekend. Loads of new stories below. We seem to be as productive as a laxative these days. Must be the constant rain not dragging me outdoors so much.
Watched an immense programme about Muddy Waters last night. Transcendent.
"A compelling and honest look at the real Muddy Waters, above and beyond his legendary stage presence. The show features star testimonials from Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King and Public Enemy's Chuck D."
Although a fair bit before even my time, we learned how pivotal Mr W was in the development of the blues, which led to rhythm and blues, and thence rock and roll.
His relatives, fellow musicians, widow and girlfriends were all there, as also Keith Richard with ornaments in his hair, and Bill Wyman without.
(Why did Wyman leave the Stones? Was it his fondness for underage girls?)
Loads and loads of performance from the great man, and even a little of the very early Stones, on Dean Martin's US TV show. They did, "I just wanna make... love to you." I'd forgotten how important the Stones were to the popularisation. Young, white and "sexy", as opposed to the reverse.
A must-see for all students of popular music.
The Muddy Waters show was directly followed by an edition of The Voice - the period from Doo-wop to Boy Band. Me old schoolmate Trevor Horn was on it. So many stars... so little time!
Car pulls up yesterday in Constitution Street. (Don't worry, my US readers... we don't have drive-by shootings here. Yet.)
Guy winds down the window. "How do I get to Glasgow?" he asked. Boy was I stumped. It's so far away. "Well - I wouldn't start from here... " I joked, but he didn't respond. I knew it would have to be some sort of main road, but I don't know any of them. The A1 starts at the top of Leith Walk, but goes to London, not Glasgow.
Left, right or backwards? Straight ahead wasn't a serious option due to the sea. Just then, Woolly Dave comes out of the Port o Leith. "Which way to Glasgow, Dave?" I shouts at him.
"Left!" he shouts back. "Left," I sez to the guys. "Go left and stay on this side of the sea."
"I think they were wanting a bit more than that..." Dave said, grinning.
I didn't care. Glad to get shot of them. Left is so damn obvious, when you're on the east coast pointing north. More and more Alzheimer. Thank God I'm not a Jumbo Jet pilot, eh?
I wasted no time in heading to the Isobar yesterday. "I hear Christian Slater drinks here!" I said to Karen the barlady. "Yes, he's been in," she half whispered, smiling as she poured my Guinness.
"What's he like?" I asked, breathlessly.
"Short," she said. "Only about five foot eight - and very shy."
"How awesome!" I said.
"Yes," she agreed. "I was here on my own and I was like... wow, a Hollywood star!"
"Where's he living?" I asked then.
"In that street round the side of the Cougar Lounge," she told me. (In Leith, pubs are the principal landmarks.)
"Timberbush," I said. "That's right - " she agreed. " -there's a guy called David staying with him, and he came in first, and he was like... 'I've got this guy who's in a play... is it all right if he comes in...'?"
Karen and I agreed this was all too much for a white lady.
But could I get Mary (Moriarty) interested? Could I heck! "Slater is bigger than David Mamet!" I said to her, casting my mind over all the stars who've been in her bar. "Bigger than... Irvine Welsh!" I climaxed too soon, my mind strangely devoid of stars for once. (Many, if not most of, the tales in Trainspotting were gleaned by Mr W in Mary's bar. Her customers wrote the book - he just got the credit. And money. Even the title is a local jaikie joke he "borrowed".)
But Al was interested. And Big Dave. Al had just been chatting to Michael Portillo in the Malt and Hops. He was on his way to Martin Wishart's for dinner. "Always thought that was a Tory joint!" I said, to general laughter.
Festival Edinburgh is a strange beast indeed. Alice, daughter of Tony my IT Manager, is about to star in a commercial for a Tourist Board. (I think it was.) She's becoming quite a young thesp. Look out Christian Slater!
Started last night on Channel Four. The papers had it billed as plastic surgery's answer to Six Feet Under. Channel Four calls it "stylish, shocking and darkly humorous".
Rather you get silly, unbelievable characters, lousy writing and close to zero production values. By "stylish" they must mean the lead characters are loaded. What tosh. South Park is stylish, and nobody's got a bean. SFU is stylish, and they're constantly on the verge of bankruptcy.
The one good bit was seeing a guy's speeded-up facial surgery to the sound of the Stones' Paint It Black. (But I would think that was good, now wouldn't I?) Reminded me of Apocalypse Now.
Here's one viewer who'll never know what happens next. (Maybe if they'd avoided the SFU comparison, and plugged it as a comic...)
Well, truth is stranger than my addled fantasies, it transpires. Not only is Mr Slater living in Leith, but he's been sighted several times in the Isobar, a drab little creation with pretensions of style (Reuben Paris goes there), in Bernard Street. Just three minutes walk from the Port, if that.
Time Mary started listening to my suggestions!! (But I'll still betcha a fiver to a brick shithouse that CS will be in the Port over the weekend.) They just don't do stuff like that in Los Angeles!
My thanks to Kevin of the excellent Kebabylon for the sightings and goss. Wanna write for The Leither Dot Net, Kevin? Seriously? (No pay, but great perks.)
Someone who'll be following Christian Slater into Bernard Street Skid Row is Will Smith, if he doesn't find another Men In Black soon.
Last night's offering of I, Robot was a complete disappointment to the Village Film Society, as we've taken to calling ourselves. "Total waste of time!" said Dolly, which kinda summed up the mood. So we sloped off to his house and had possibly the most delicious meal evah since I stopped smoking a year ago. Chicken breast, garlic and brie done with pui lentils and sweet-dressed salad. The words "taste" and "sensation" come to mind, but they're inadequate.
I, Robot owes little more than the title to Asimov's seminal work. Oh - and the laws of robotics. My main thought at the end was simply, why?
Will Smith's nipples feature a lot and are very pleasant, for those who like that sort of thing. The chick keeps her clothes on.
After the meal we played Drinking Chess, in which the pawns and pieces are all glasses. The idea is that when you capture, you drink the drink you've taken. We weren't taking many pieces very quickly, so I surreptitiously started in the left hand corner and drank my way along the back row. It was chablis to start with, but Ally kindly upgraded me to Amaretto.
What is the protocol when I do eventually - for I'll make it my mission to - find myself standing beside Christian Slater in the Isobar? Should I confess that I've fancied him for years? I mean seriously fancied, to the point of...
PS: I hope his chicken pox has got better, though.
Where were my three raindrops yesterday? I wanted three raindrops. Was fully dressed for three raindrops, with just umbrella and thin shirt. With that much nature I had to be part of it.
You see, I know three raindrop days. With three you can hear the rain whistling as it hurtles groundward. You hear the hiss and see the big splash as it bounces back upward half your height. That is three raindrops. "Coming down in stair-rods," we call it here.
But no. Even standing on the riverbank watching the somewhat bemused ducks, or at the quayside of Ocean Terminal, my "bring it on" call was ignored by the Almighty.
Because yesterday it would have been lucky to reach two. Pathetic. And today's relapsed to a typical Scottish pea-souper, with no actual delineation of cloud and ground. Earth, air and water, all rolled into one. But I'll still be out in it, regardless. Clean air, you see. Scrubbed of tobacco and vile petrol. My body pays the price for your mobility.
Afternoon tea with Mary Moriarty in the Globe Deli in Bernard Street. Baked potatoes. Mary had the tuna, while I plumped for sliced Cheddar. Delish, if not quite as hot as I prefer. Then two lattes. I've never, ever had a latte before, so didn't know what to expect.
No - it's true. I know by reading this you'd get the idea that the author is a high-style queen, with more taste than a Brussels sprout, but it's so not the case. Common as muck, to be honest.
Yes - I'd read about latte... on Julie Burchill first, as it happens. And smoothie. And God knows what else. But never actually tried any of the buggers. (I'm just a country boy from a pit village, ye ken.)
With style you absolutely have to be first. Or forget it. Look at D Beckham, Esq.
But back to the latte. Wtf was I supposed to expect? Crack cocaine? It was a very ordinary cup of milky coffee, and should be described exactly as that. Latte! What queenly nonsense!
(Queens are particularly guilty of style imitation. Often suffused with feelings of low self-worth, they hop from bandwagon to bandwagon, praying that eventually someone will give them some love. But it never happens. That way at least.) Well, let me qualify that. Occasionally, very occasionally, they'll meet another compatible style-hopper, and then they live happily ever after browsing magazines for the latest second-hand trends. "Look dear! Do you think we should get one of those?"
After post-potato drinkies with Mary in Malmaison, I headed off to the Ocean Terminal as mentioned above. Broke my month-long Debenhams and HMV self-barring and bought four shirts (two of them with twenty quid off), Series Two of South Park, and then the piece de resistance du jour.
Yes, that recently-cited accessory to murder. And not in hazy crazy USA this time, but right back here in Liz's own land.
Manhunt, by Rockstar Games. Written a few hundred yards from where I sit. As was Trainspotting. No wonder this blog is so fab.
The guy behind the HMV counter blanched under the pink neon. "I've only got two copies left," he muttered. "I only want one of them," I asserted. "I have to get the sale witnessed," he said next, " - this is a very sensitive area." "OK," I said, as a manager was summoned - to look at the game, then look at me, then nod his head Del Monte style. "Is it because I looks under 18?" I felt like asking, but didn't want to trivialise this most sinister of sales sessions.
To the Port then, and Robin (don't call me bisexual, I'm a screaming queen now). He was sitting with a young man who turned out to be his stepson. They'd just come back from Palgowan Dance and Club Festival. Hairdos. Matching blonde bits at the front, and razored tramlines from temple, back above the ear, then disappearing into the nape. Father and son. Intensely tribal. So fucking tribal it's almost Maori.
A manhunt of a different type has already taken the Edinburgh Festival Fringe by storm. It's Tim Fountain, who has a computer rigged up to a giant screen.
Then he browses round Edinburgh Gaydar queens, chats them up in typing - live on his show - then cycles off to have sex with one of them. (Edinburgh isn't such an enormous place.)
On the next show, the hapless punter is the unwitting and unknowing star.
Well, I'll tell you one thing for nothing, Mr Fountain. You won't get this Edinburgh queen on your damn show. Not without substantial payment, thank you.
All that material...
PS: My objections to this fandango are nothing to do with having sex with perfect (or even imperfect) strangers. People have done that throughout history. What they haven't done quite so frequently is have their words, thoughts and actions stolen for someone's theatrical act. That is much more shocking. Boycott this show.
Well, what should happen just yesterday but Charlene motions me over, and sticks this foil-wrapped cake in my hand. "Have that from us, Peter," she says. "You'll love it."
It was a hefty lump, much like my waist, so it seemed only right to spread this lesbian largesse around my younger colleagues. I got paper plates and plastic knives - the style! - and cut it into ten slices. They all loved it. Woofed it down - especially when I told them it was lesbian wedding cake.
"Isn't it amazing?" I said, waxing faux philosophical. "When I were a lad you would have got chucked into jail for having feelings like that - and have your head operated on." The youngsters nodded, in full receptive mode for once. "But I think it's much better nowadays - with wedding cake." They nodded some more. One of them thanked Bernice and Charlene over the microphone.
I'm sitting looking out the window at what's breathlessly scheduled for three raindrops later today. At the moment it's only one, but that's a lie, as the air and ground are (almost) dry. But it's the sky that's so weird. Light and threatening, quite unlike dark and threatening.
Unusual light, yellowish - as if half of Hell's brimstone is up there.
And poetic, but I can't think of the correct poetry. Wordsworth would have dashed it off in a mo. Or that Ancient Mariner Guy. Or even Stephen King.
The gulls too are quiet... waiting. There may be troubles ahead. It's already smashed up those four poor men rowing the Atlantic, and devastated Hawaii thusly:
"Well, we had the remnants of "Hurricane Darby" pass over the islands. Haven't seen rain like that since surviving an India monsoon, but at least it was just the remnants. Had Darby been a bit more long-lived we would have been in very deep doo-doo, since it was a direct hit. (Not too encouraging, this early in Hurricane Season.)"
Albert, from my comment box
And now it's here. This afternoon.
Three raindrops. Watch this (damp) space.
Slapwatch What have they done to Kate Sanderson on BBC Breakfast this morning? Just because she's sitting in for Natasha, there's no need to cover her face in slap, and give her a Monica Lewinsky mouth! She's far nicer well-scrubbed and uncombed.
The only women who wear so much make-up at 6.30 in the morning are prostitutes. When will the BBC get that into their heads? That business chick during the night is particularly ghastly. Tanya Beckett. Looks like she stepped straight out of Belle de Jour.
...over the Atlantic as I write. Just moving into Ireland. Britain tomorrow.
Monday's weather chart has three raindrops plonked right over Edinburgh. That's more raindrops than I've ever seen. (Those of you of a mathematical bent will realise that three raindrops is 50 percent more than two raindrops!)
Fifty percent extra, free! Now where did I put my wellies? I'm sure I had some on my camping trip two years ago. Plus an umbrella is very liberating. Collapsible.
Carry On Camping
I was chatting last week to Tony my IT manager about growing old. Not that he is, of course... rather he and lovely wife Louise have announced a "happy event" to come, God willing. And when I mentioned viagra, he didn't even laugh. Not old. As I say.
So yes, it was me we were talking about, for a change. I said that stopping smoking was the single biggest thing I could do and had done for my health. Tony's an ex, also, btw. Silk Cut. Bit of a wimps' fag, I always thought, but still... I'm sure you could get hooked on them if you tried hard enough.
Well, maybe giving up men was a good idea at the time also, what with all these new-fangled health scares that came along. But that was easy, in comparison. Try as I might, I'd never once achieved thirty a day. (Forty at weekends.) No problem.
No, it was exercise Tony and me were discussing. He goes to a gym. So does Dolly. I think that's awfully wimpish too, to be honest. All those muscles and lotion and sweat. Pure metrosexual bicurious teasing, if you ask me. Top Gun. But then I've never been to one, and what the fuck use is an imagination anyway?
"Cycling!" I announced, over the fifth (but actually lost count) Guinness. "Cycling is the way to go, Tony. With a roll-up, one man tent... the sky is literally the limit." I'd never, ever thought of it till that moment. Thursday, I think it was.
I got the bike already... just needs a bit oiling and blowing up. (Bit like me... before you say it.) Or maybe get an off-roader. Track and trees and me and God.
The only way to successfully be 57 is to act as if you're not. Ask anybody. Maybe some one will come along with me.
You've definitely read a pub or restaurant review in your time. Probably well upwards of a dozen. They are the very stuff of local press, and utterly, totally, incorrigibly corrupt.
One leading Edinburgh hackette is reputed to be so large now she can barely fit through standard doorways, so many freebie plats du jour have slipped down her throat.
The writing is bland, bland, bland. "For starter I plumped for black pudding on tattie scone, while Himself chose the smoked wild salmon." Even as you read it, you know you never ever want to go there, in case there's the slightest chance you end up seated near her and Himself.
(The more advanced foodie can weave a little drama into it, often with bits of direct speech, eg. "Darling, don't they look just like the Beckhams!" I hissed at him, my three-meat bruschetta poised halfway to my lips.)
Or - more typically...
"While the handsome, dusky waiter was clearing the first course, my companion launched into a blow by blow account of the secretary she was convinced her husband was banging." (You see - a soap and a snack!)
But, as I say, not all can rise to these giddy heights. (Hint: I always can - if anyone's got a newspaper and a contract...)
However, this one, about the Port o Leith Bar, from last week's Sunday Herald, is in a class of its own. Eschewing all such lit-crit tricks, it screams DRINK HERE at you, right off the page.
Reproduced without permission...
EDINBURGH FESTIVAL SPECIAL - SOCIALISING: PORT O' LEITH
Hell-red cartoon booze-room, pumped full of character to the point of implosion, the atmosphere pitched fluidly between dream and nightmare. A teeming cross-section of Leith-flavoured humanity piles in here through the days and nights of the week - men's men, pretty girls, families with kiddies, old loners, amateur local historians, trouble-seekers, uglies, jokers, liars and charmers - to drink cheap, excellent beers, noise up the cranky landlady, dance around the eclectic jukebox and shout aggressively friendly banter into each others faces.
Sunday Herald, 25.07.04
And that is where so much of Naked Blog originates from. Lucky? I should say I'm lucky. And so - dear reader - are you. You see, I don't have to spice it up with direct speech and faux-sightings of the Beckhams. This is Coronation Street and Big Brother rolled into one, liberally seasoned with Will and Grace.
Like often when I drink and write, this one is borderline offensive. Yet not quite bad enough to delete, I feel. Ignore it if you're in it, and enjoy it if you're not! It's my quirks that make me so lovable. (Self-immolates with a scourge.)
I don't know. Babs and I were pencilled in for some quality time together today, but in about 90 minutes flat that came to the usual end. Love is a many splendoured thing. Hah! Friendships do often last longer. Fifteen years?
"Surely he knows you're gay?" Tony my IT manager said. "Yes, how could he not?" I replied. "I don't think it's to exclude me, but rather something else."
Anyway - Babs' happiness is my happiness. Yeah, right.
Met Mel of Stunned Mullet in the Compass this afternoon. "Hello, how are you?" I asked, after a respectful time. She was getting into her chef outfit for the evening shift. "You must be Mel of Stunned Mullet." (Babs had told me.) She nodded. "Peter of Naked Blog," I introduced.
"It's really tricky, bloggers meeting like this," I said. "Like that young man you were seeing." (Delicately.)
"I know," she said. "How's the bingo caller competition?"
In these somewhat awkward ways can we only interact. Any of you got similar tales? Or should we do as Lynn suggests and avoid real life touching altogether?
Soon the Port got fifty percent mental. (But I've seen it much worse.) Children ran up and down. (Utterly illegal.) Someone brought in a large speckled bird in a green plastic box. "It's a seagull!" everyone said, despite the poor thing not possessing one single white feather. "There's no such fucking thing as a seagull!" I announced, ornithologically. "Can we no get rid of the fucking kids and bird, for God's sake?"
Then Eilidh, Mary's daughter (rhymes with daily), started slagging me off to Jill the barmaid who looked like she must have left school at least three weeks ago. A peaceful pint is not an option there.
Love that word, DAEMON. First saw it in DOOM - still gives me a thrill-shudder.
But this isn't about DOOM, it's about the internet. There seems to be a viral catastrophe going on. My Mailwasher has been relatively quiet for weeks, but right now there are more than 500 postmaster and mailer-daemon failed deliveries.
Many, if not most of my bingo ladies are widows. Just the way it goes. Biology. And cigarettes. How the shareholders in vile tobacco can sleep in their beds at night - knowing full well the havoc their noxious products has wreaked - is beyond me.
In a bingo hall cancer is everywhere. Those who haven't got it nurse someone who has. You see them come in with their shiny polyester wigs, and you know straight away, chemotherapy. (Or is it the other one? I get confused.) The men just go for the polished look. But all keep puffing away on the cigs regardless. Nothing else for it, eh? The damage is done now, isn't it?
And the answer, quite sadly, is often yes.
Diane never smoked, but like so many she lost her husband to tobacco earlier this year. Now her sister Elspeth, who never smoked either, has cervical cancer. She's finished her treatment, and in a fortnight she'll be told if it's spread to her bowel. Elspeth is probably my favourite in the entire place - a gorgeous, white-haired, magnificently kindly lady. I'll do some special mantras. And there'll be much love and cuddles, whatever the outcome. The saddest thing is when they outlive their children.
I only did one, lung cancer, for which my risk is much above average. However, I got loads of brownie points for stopping smoking a year ago, and all I have to do is (a) remain tobacco-free and (b) eat three portions of fruit a day, and in twenty years time the risk will have dropped to very low. Kewl.
Assuming I'm alive in twenty years, of course. At 77 there's a fairly high risk of generalised death in any case :) Where is thy sting???
PS: Those Harvard tests could lead to serious neurosis, btw. That's why I only did the one I knew I'd be high on. (Forty-seven years of cigarettes. My bad.)
With health I'm a great believer in ignorance is bliss. Medicine is for doctors (and the NHS), not for patients. And I'm not a patient, I'm a person godammit.
Took the plunge yesterday, and signed up for my bank's online banking service.
Why such a late uptake, I hear you ask, but no not really. Last century I was in the absolute van of progress darling, with a thing called HOBS. (Home Office Banking System.) It was a ScreenPhone, made by Philips, and for the price of a phonecall you got several slow LCD screens of all your fascinating details.
Then they brought out a Windows version for your PC - a PRESTEL emulator. It needed a dial-up modem, and again had a dedicated phone number. This was fun, and much faster. By now computer graphics had moved on apace, but this remained firmly in the PONG era - albeit in colour now. Three colours. White on black for what you've got, and red on black for what you haven't.
So Dickensian, but still I loved it. Seemed like progress. Made me feel not quite so old.
Then, out of da blue a month ago, they sent a letter saying that the HOBS service was discontinuing through lack of interest, and all customers should now sign up for their all-singing internet banking. But feel free to keep the Philips Screenphone with their compliments. Kewl.
And yesterday was sign-up day. So secure. Schools attended. Parental names. Then a question to yourself. (That your family wouldn't know the answer to.) Presumably that's to discourage thieving siblings who know all the other answers!
Well, I only got one sibling, and she lives in another hemisphere, and she already thieved the family inheritance, so what the fuck. It only occurred to me this morning that although my sister - whom I doubt very much I'll ever see again - but of course you never know - doesn't know the answer to my final question, everyone else in Leith does!
It's a minefield out there. To say nothing of hackers and crackers.
And of course, online banking isn't worth the paper it isn't printed on until they invent a cash dispenser to go with it. "Print out a tenner!" said Mary the landlady, ever creative when it comes to money.
Scottie the ships' engineer departed these waters yesterday also. For New York, and a container ship to somewhere or other. That man changes time zones like others change their knickers. Maybe I can persuade him to send some salty tales for The Leither.
"Did you know pink is "the" colour for schemie chavs this month?" Stewart asked yesterday - as he eyed my pink shirt. (Debenhams Summer Collection - only nine pounds ninety-nine.) "They've even brought out Burberry in pink!"
The colour drained from my face as I stared at my lamb kebab with yoghurt and wild rice.
The absolute "must-see" event of this year's Edinburgh International Festival is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest playing most of August in the Assembly Rooms.
Because Christian Slater's in it. Yes, that drug-addled, ex-con icon of the nineties is treading the boards here in Auld Reekie. (Edinburgh.)
I wasted no time in telling Mary of the Port o Leith Bar about this. "He'll be here in yer pub soon, Mary!" I gushed at her over my Guinness. "Christian Slater. Bound tae be. Ah mean look at the gadgie... druggie, jailbird... where else would he drink?"
"I really don't know him," Mary confessed.
"Put a sign outside the bar!" I suggested.
PORT O LEITH WELCOMES CHRISTIAN SLATER!
"It'll have them queueing down Constitution Street!" Her eyes lit up at that of course, so she gave me a bit paper and pen. When I'd written it she showed it to Lindsay the barmaid.
PS: Naturally any and all Slater-sightings will be reported here, on-screen, first. Avoid periodical paper imitations.
A version of this report appears in today's Leither Dot Net, as well as your chance to assess my first month's editorship thereof.
Is greenfly. Honestly. All over your dark clothes they were today.
Rob was in the Port o Leith tonight. Rob the American working in Ireland. Dell computers. Over here on business. God knows how he landed in the Port.
"Do you know that gay men come here?" I posited, after Scott and Robin (don't call me bisexual, I'm a screaming queen now) had crawled all over him.
Rob smiled, enigmatically. Smiled in my direction, bizarrely for one so often overlooked.
Take earlier. There I was in the Village chatting to Dolly, when some artist bird came in. Kate Downie, or summat. Well, did she not get tore into plumbers!
For at least ten minutes we sat unenthralled by her tales of plumbers not respecting her, because she was a woman. A single woman. Yet this would have been considerably more current had she stopped referring to her electrician as "sparkie".
Goes around comes around, Kate. And - let me say - although I myself don't own gallery space, it is still polite to say cheerio when you're leaving. Especially to someone whose company you've just invaded uninvited.
Dolly was the man. Dolly has the gallery. My pecking order is subterranean. Hehe.
But Ann was loads of fun. Ann of Ann and Stan. Ann is hopefully going to write for The Leither, and the team are all looking forward to this.
She was just back from a holiday in Turkey. ("Don't wait till Christmas for Turkey!" quipped Ally, in ad-creative mode.) It wasn't Marmaris where the schemie chavs go, but some village whose name I forget.
"Uma Thurman was there - and Tom Hanks," Ann told me. "I'm in Hello magazine twice this month, just for sitting in cafes."
How exotic is that, eh? Hello magazine. We definitely need her for The Leither.
Bernice and Charlene are back at the bingo from the Viva las Vegas Wedding Chapel. Eagerly they showed me their (same-sex) wedding pics. White trouser suits they chose, and a bouquet. It all looked quite celestial. Well done, ladies. Congrats from all at Naked Blog.
I asked them if they wanted a mention over the microphone, but they squealed in pretend shock. Would have been a first, methinks. Why should the hetties have the monopoly on good wishes, eh?
All the other bingo lezzers (and they are legion) are eagerly snapping up the pics, and - surprisingly to me - loads of quite elderly "straight" women. White-haired church fete types. "Look at Charlene and Bernice's pictures, Peter - they're lovely!"
Sometimes I think the world is a couple of decades ahead of me in these matters. That I never got much beyond Turing and Wilde. Or maybe the society of women has always been more tolerant of its scissor sisters than guys have of theirs. Arse bandits.
Charles Spencer was on Breakfast With Frost Peter Sissons this morning. I could swear the last time I'd heard of him he was called Earl Spencer, but my memory's not what it was. Diana's bro, in any case.
He was interesting and intelligent. Normally aristo's are barely coherent, but Charlie done good. He got ten minutes to promote his book and documentary, and then it was payback time about his sister. "I know how these things work," he said. But he wouldn't discuss her shags.
His own oeuvre is about gggggggrandpa the Duke of Marlborough and the battle of Blenheim. This was as big as Agincourt and Waterloo, he explained, but the late Stuarts aren't sexy.
He and Sissons seemed at one that Diana was the greatest icon of the twentieth century. But this really needs challenging, I feel. There is another Diana who could claim that title even more. (In terms of sheer iconolatry.)
(Waxing wit da dictionary here.) Peter Sissons does that to me. Years ago I used to wonder what he'd be like in the sack, but we've all put a few decades (and pounds) on now.
And what dress sense. Not. It was brought into the clearest focus when he was interviewing Lord Browne, the Chief Executive of BP. (British Petroleum as was.) Lord Browne is a dead ringer for Stanley Baxter, with that iconic West of Scotland facial genome. Monkey-looking, I call it. There are other Scottish faces.
The Lord was sitting in his garden wearing a Charity Shop grey suit and blue tie (the clash!), while Sissons in the studio had chosen Marks and Spencer minimum iron summer sale collection. But equally grey and cheap.
Can't the BBC afford even one wardrobe mistress these days? David Frost makes some slight effort - occasionally choosing broad stripe suit with yellow socks. Heavens! I'm sounding like Queer Eye for the Straight Presenter.