Good morning dear reader, and welcome once again to Greenwich Mean Time, if in this Sceptred Isle you live.
Poetic. How silly.
It's almost 9.30 am GMT, although the enhanced light makes it seem much later... more like 10.30. Strange.
Choice of activities: Watch Breakfast With Frost starring Tessa Jowell (the excitement!) or play GTA San Andreas, and see if I can get even one mission completed. Or will it go the way of all the others, discarded in despair after 2 or 3 percent completion?
Today is sunny, and no work beckons. (Revised hours.) My larynx is so bad now it even hurts when I swallow. But maybe it isn't the larynx. Maybe it's some other area. What's pharyngitis? Do you think I might have it? Normal people, when faced with a sore throat, don't immediately predicate complete loss of income, home and identity. But who the fuck is normal these days, eh?
From now until January demands organisation, because of the earlier darkness. Got to be outside as much as humanly possible, and as early. It's not my best time, to be honest. Naked Blog generally keeps going, but in a different, more depressed mode. New readers (this year's crop) will fuck off in droves. And who could blame them?
Watched News 24 again, during the sleepless hours. "Do I really need a piss? Could I not get back to sleep without one? Is that a mouse I heard or not? Isn't it silent since they fixed the manhole cover? I could swear my tinnitus has gone."
Guy there was so estuary and illiterate he was pronouncing "project" with an o out of go.
Barbara Windsor and Sarah Michelle Gellar were yawnsville on Jonathan Ross, the latter especially so. Sharon Osbourne was transcendent on Parkinson, completely upstaging Judi Dench and Dame Edna Everage.
Little Alex announced a few days ago that he's going to have a dinner party. (Some months back I told him of my ambition to make him middle class.) "What's a dinner party?" M, another colleague, asked. So we explained that it's typically for six people, and you have to cook the food yourself, but you can smoke and snort coke between the courses. Phoning out for food is only allowed if you've ruined all your own efforts first.
Then yesterday Alex said some more. (After I prompted him.) "It's going to have a murder mystery theme - and then we all get naked and fuck!" he declared, eyes rolling wildly in my direction. (He's such a tease, I really do swear.) "And on the staircase I'm having a hanging buffet!" he said, excitedly. We all agreed a hanging buffet might well be a social first for Leith.
I'll keep you posted, but I don't even slightly expect an invitation, because of two generations' gap. Plus the naked thing.
And here we are, halfway through Breakfast With Frost, and not one moment of it seen. It struck me during the night that people in Britain watching the news wouldn't have the slightest idea which country they were even in, such are the obsessions with Iraq, the United States and the European Parliament. No fucking idea. When I was a lad they used to preface the six o clock news with Big Ben. Now kids would think Big Ben was a hamburger. Times I hate my country, and what they've done to the people.
I have Sunday off. To myself. Sweet bliss, after all these years. I think I'll walk the river path, and kick the autumn leaves about. Breathe air again, not smoke or paint, and watch the riverbirds float by. Last year there was a heron.
Poetic. How silly. Plain text is all that's required. Why do my friends all fuck off and leave me? How many more friends does a man have to make?
Vanessa is transcendent. So is Jonny. Almost make me want to give up. (But not quite.) Can you end a piece with a bracket? I just did. (Well, a moment ago.)
Early thoughts... Blaxploitation. Nothing wrong with that, except that I aren't. Black. It's not as well drawn as Vice City. The straight lines go jaggy on the screen a lot. The scenarios don't "draw you in" in the way VC does. You don't feel for a moment you're "there".
You are Carl Johnson, an obvious blend of Carl Lewis and Magic Johnson. (They probably wanted Simpson, but balked at the possible lawsuits.) You earn respect. Respect lets you form gangs. I hear at work that your character develops and becomes like you. Should be interesting.
The cutscenes aren't very well voice acted, with gaps and pauses in the dialogue.
You can't change radio stations in the vehicles. (Or at least not that I've discovered.) There's an interesting rural area with farm trucks and tractors and people dressed up like hicks.
Edinburgh references noted: Ganton, Pilson, Easter Basin, Easter Tunnel, Easter Bay Airport, Calton Heights, Willow Field, Juniper Hollow.
I'm getting the feeling this is a cheapo cash-in sequel.
(But bear in mind, normally when I'm less than glowing about a creation, I end up adoring it within a week! It's currently rated 9.9 / 9.6)
Do you ever get those days when nothing much seems to happen? When life floats by you and you struggle not to yawn? Well yesterday wasn't one of those.
T minus 1 hour. 11 this morning
Bought GTA San Andreas. Forty quid at HMV, but you get 10 percent off with a game card. I'd forgotten my game card, so they gave me a new one. Plus I got the book. I asked the young man if there was a movie or a night out, but he said no.
HMV are reported to be sold out already, and it only came on sale today. Fortunately I'd reserved my copy. A boy of about 13 stood there with his mother, looking envious at gramps (me) snapping up the game he'd probably kill for. (And someone abroad has probably already done so.) His mother said he couldn't have had one anyway, and she was still cross at him for bringing Vice City into the house.
T minus 3 hours. 9 this morning
Walking to the dentist in the pissing rain to get Upper Left Four (porcelain equivalent) re-attached. The first cement didn't work, but it eventually came together. No charge, hence the item above with the savings. (What sort of dentist doesn't charge you? Maybe she's expecting it to come off again tomorrow.)
T minus 8 hours. 4 in the morning
Can't sleep a wink because of Thurday's turmoils, and worrying about missing the dentist. Bingo workers (and drug dealers) just don't acknowledge the existence of 9am. Ewan Macgregor came on Hard Talk with his motor cycling chum, so I reached for the off button sharpish. There's just something too smug about that young man.
T minus 13 hours. 11pm yesterday
Txted everyone who might be vaguely interested to shriek that Michael Moore was on Question Time. It was in Miami. The audience were quite exciteable, but nobody seemed to get shot.
T minus 16 hours. 8pm yesterday
Chewing the fat with Tony my IT manager in the Port, when who should come in but my oldest still-living friend. Joe. He was there to play the drums with Rosy Blue, the pub "entertainment". Now, no offence, Joe, but you know my views about bands in pubs. Sadly had to leave after about eight notes. My hearing is my livelihood.
In no time flat it was like the fifteen or so years since we'd last met just melted away. This was helped considerably by him not having noticeably aged. Unlike moi. "Look how old and fat I've got!" I wailed at him, trying not to show the gaps in my teeth also. "Have you had facial surgery?" I demanded of him next.
Poor guy. I was a bit pissed, and he was stone cold. Then he told me his eldest son was 32. "No, Joe," I replied. "That's not correct. He's 22." We laughed. Joe is 54. Close friends (and some time colleagues) from our mid twenties till the early nineties.
T minus 20 hours. 4pm yesterday
Checking out the newly non-smoking White Hart pub in the Grassmarket. Fabuloso. I had a window seat so could look outside at the tobacco addicts huddled round the metal tables and chairs. It's Edinburgh's oldest pub, from 1519 I think. Scott drank there. And Burns. And Burke and Hare. Yesterday they were playing Lulu, Bay City Rollers, and Donald, Where's Yer Troosers? Quintessentially Scottish.
"I would ban smoking competely," said Tony in one of the pieces above. "And alcohol. No need for either of them. People in future will look back on this period and be amazed at the self-harm."
On the way to the Grassmarket, I trolled happily along the Cowgate... premise after premise chasing the young person's pound. Even a pole dancing joint. I hear the youngsters at work going on about these places, and now I've seen where some of them are.
Venetian Renaissance Art from Scottish Collections.
Most of them weren't by big T himself, but three that were were Venus coming out of the Sea, with scallop shell soap dish detail. (Seen on one squillion Pears Soap Ads.) She's wringing out her hair. I'm sure you'll have seen it.
Then there were a couple which were frankly quite porno. The Three Ages of Man is the one where a chick plays a guy's flute in the left corner; babies and a cherub are in the right (look how fat those babies' legs are, said Sandra. That's disgusting); an old guy and skulls are in the background (that's me, I said to Sandra); but the church on the hill rules all OK. So that's all right then.
The other was frankly a Renaissance depiction of Number Nine Sauna (Sauna, Massage, Escorts). This archer dude comes into a brothel place with wall to wall naked chicks. You can clearly see his hardon under the skirt of his tunic. "Which one do you think he fancies?" I said to S.
Elsewhere there was more than a touch of homo-eroticism in Christ and the Centurions, but that was by a lesser-known artist, so we didn't linger. Sandra kept seeing Mark Torrance (one of our drinking buddies) in every picture. I think she was on something.
T minus 23 hours. 1pm yesterday
But yesterday started most unusually.
Do you remember a couple of nights ago I mentioned that partyboy downstairs had kept me awake with "his shenanigans". Well, who should I see walking along the street towards me than him, complete with girl companion. Both about seventeen.
I stood back, looking stern. I was cross. About the party.
But no! It hadn't been party celebrations at all - the poor boy was getting attacked. By his ex-partner. Also of the male pronoun. How very Tales of the City. I never knew for an instant. Maybe those pretty chicks he's always surrounded by get no closer than doing his hair for him.
He apologised profusely for the noise. His face was all scratched. It was the first conversation I think we've ever had. Can you catch gayness through floorboards?
I'm thinking of putting all your John Peel testimonials into a book. Still no idea why you wrote them here, what you hoped to convince me of, but wtf. Guaranteed best-seller, if I get it out quick.
It's been an interesting couple of days in the comment boxes, and not without some wee touches of unpleasantness. Whatever gets you through. I could delete, but can't be bothered. Someone suggested that I obviously like "Wham or music like that".
Yet it was worse, much worse when I wrote about "gender reassignment". Then there were death threats from angry trannies. (I'd dared suggest that having your dick cut off maybe wasn't the best or the only solution to the quandary they found themselves in.) Bad suggestion.
So let me formulate two laws of naked blogging, as I've observed in seven years of web-writing...
Thou shalt not question received wisdom
Thou must not state indifference to public idols
(I'm knackered today. Going to the Titian exhibition with Sandra. Spent all of Tuesday indoors on my own with laryngitis. Watched Star Wars and Empire. Star Wars good, Empire full of merchandise. At At. Got my hours reduced.)
I confess I'm astonished at the outpourings about John Peel's death. Even the Prime Minister. (Although Dusty got the Queen.)
Strange. Even the News 24 overnight woman was wearing funeral black.
Missed BBC Breakfast, which I know would be having a field day on the matter, due to partyboy's beneath me usual shenanigans in the early hours. Sleepless in Leith. Was Natasha in black? Tell me, pray do.
Sometimes I fear I've become a touch callous. But then I think back to how sad I was when Dusty died - but the sadness wasn't for her, or anyone close to her, none of whom I remotely knew. No, the sadness was for myself, and for my long-gone youth, and the immense part the woman played in that.
Because she, Dusty, was only doing her job. And she wouldn't have known me if she passed me in the street. Or read my obituary in the local paper.
Homer is a German Shepherd dog, and Berndt his master. Yesterday was Berndt's birthday. He'd come down from Lewis (a Western Isle) to celebrate his 39th birthday in the Village, Babs told me. She also told me some interesting snippets about Homer.
"That dog is definitely gay," she opined. "He's shagging all the sheep on the island."
Gently I pointed out to her the technical meaning of gay, which is sexual attraction to one's own gender. And species. The species bit is especially important.
But that's not all. Apparently there was a very attractive (to Babs' eyes) German Shepherd bitch (note the correct species) in the Village one day, and Homer didn't give her even one glance. "That's quite possibly gay," I said. Then we ordered another round. Babs' fella came in. Human.
Or maybe Homer just didn't fancy the bitch. Prefers them more common.
SENTENCED TO DEATH
She seems to be coping well with her mother's terminal illness, although there are serious reservations about the lady's treatment in the Western General Hospital. Such as a doctor saying the following... "You could go quickly in a fortnight, Mrs N, but you might hang on - for a couple of months maximum."
Think about it. A mother, alone, her family not there, hearing a death sentence like that. Understandably she phoned Babs in tears.
And that is one of my biggest ever beefs with the medical profession. Playing God. Death sentences. How often do you hear around the place, "Oh... so-and-so got her six months..."
Of course the person got their six months... because they'd been told they'd live that long. If they'd been told they'd have a year, then they'd have lived a year. People (most people) believe doctors.
Just as some people believe in voodoo. If a voodoo priest tells someone they've been "cursed" (a term devoid of rational meaning), they'll fade away and die in a fortnight. It's all to do with belief.
The only correct response to, "Doctor, how long have I got?" is "That's in God's hands."
Of course you might disagree. Please share. And it's today's quick quiz.
Previous quiz: "Was Prince Harry right to punch the photographer? Twenty people thought yes, and fifteen no. Thanks to all who took part.
Want to see what people have been writing about you? Then nip over to Bloglines and click on Track What's Hot. Fascinating! Total self-absorption.
The Shore, Leith, is no longer a shore. It's a river bank. Where once it housed the sleaziest bars my excited young eyes had ever seen, it's now yuppie central. (Does anybody still say "yuppie"? If not, what next?) But you get my drift.
Prominent (and recent) among these is The Lighthouse, the only boozer (sorry... Style Bar of The Year) which sees fit to employ doormen. Time after time I've walked past, peering in at the creme of Leith's rich young society, protected from the outside, poorer, world by uniformed thugs.
Very common these days. Home and abroad. But never, till then, on The Shore.
And now The Lighthouse has been firebombed. On Sunday night. While full of customers. It's commercial terrorism, pure and simple.
The word is the premises have gangster connections.
I shouldn't be sitting here, writing to you like this. With no less than two missing teeth, my career as TV star (and - let's face it - what possible other career could ever interest a queen?) is doomed before it even gets off the couch.
Dentist, again. Even though Gwen, quite rightly, accuses me of never being away from such. Patients my age must be manna from heaven for them - papering over the cracks. The poor man's facial surgery. (I would almost kill for a facelift, I can tell you!) Any patrons? Think of the stories it would generate...
And there I go again! Stories, stories, stories! Even though Sal, quite rightly, accuses me of self-absorption. I truly don't know why anyone reads this stuff. You're spoiling me, really you are. Letting me away with such laziness.
But I always think: well, everything else is already written about everywhere else you look. The only thing that isn't written about is me. Quid pro quo, Miss Starling. Quid pro quo.
And you come in droves... not only the man and woman in the street, but the creme de la creme also. Awesome. I love you all.
It's not too bad this morning. A little prickly, but not what you would call actual pain. But we still need more improvements. Even though anonymous, quite rightly, accuses me of only calling bingo in Leith and not doing a stint in the London Palladium. True, my anonymous caller, but the job's the same, no matter where the venue. Loads who work with their voices get difficulties at some stage.
The singing is glorious, though. Whenever I feel like it I sneak off the the staff restroom, fling open the windows to get rid of the fagsmoke, then sing my heart out to the surrounding warehouses and garages in the dark.
They get a selection from, "All those WHO COME to San Fran Cisco..." and "Star MAN..." and "Gimme the moonlight..." I could swear my singing voice is improving with this new practice. All I need now is the correct notes.
Right, my chickadees. That's yer lot fer now. As you can maybe detect, there's not that much to say, and dentist is heavy on my mind. It's neck and neck in my Harry versus the photographer poll. Lauren Bacall was such a total bitch on Parkinson when she swept past Paul O'Grady's offered hand, didn't even look at Nigella, then smothered Parky with her affection.
That show succeeds in spite of him, not because. I can't recall one interesting thing he's said in this series so far. I've become a pure Jonathan Ross convert, in the way he acknowledges showbiz is nothing but shite, and treats his interviews (and subjects) accordingly.
At work the talk is all about San Andreas. The word is it'll occupy the rest of your life. Three cities, each one of them bigger than all of Vice City.
But at the speed I progress with games, I think I'm already fully booked for my duration. However, I've dutifully ordered my copy, so I can do the first one percent of it. Due in HMV on October 29.
Have a nice day at your job, if you have one. Hehe. It's sunny here, and I deserve something nice after three days of bingo hell.
So then yesterday I goes up to my boss and says, "Boss - I need to talk to you about my conditions. When would be suitable?" "Right now," he replies. So we got it sorted.
Result is no more Sunday working, which makes my longest gig two days (or four calling shifts) in a row. The upside is some chance of a conventional social life for the first time for ages, and improved health to boot. Bound to be. The cloud is a little less money with which to enjoy this predicated new social life. But wtf cares? No amount of money can get you a new larynx.
Normally I'd have to relinquish the principal caller's tiara in that circumstance, but - let's face it darlings... it's moi we're talking about.
Oh - three days off in a row again! (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday!) Manna profound. He also promised an urgent look into the smoke pollution. (By yet another of these strange things that you couldn't make up, it was Boss who put me on to Allen Carr's stop smoking book last year!)
A couple of hours later, Upper Left Four fell out with all the excitement. (It was a bridge anyway - not real, fully false.) So now I'm missing UL4 and UR4, and the UK bingo-calling final is in about five weeks time. I can just contain the ssshlurrpiness, with skilful use of tongue and gums, but my appearance is now totally fucked from both sides. I just can't see Natasha ever having me on her sofa now.
Then a younger manager told me I was getting so old and decrepit. "Voice going, teeth falling out..." When you put it like that, I could see he had a point.
Money maybe can't buy a new larynx, but it can do a hell of a lot with your teeth. I can visualise a remortgage application coming up quite soon. ("Can't take it with you, eh...?" as my bingo ladies say through clacking teeth.)
In Other News
John Major came on David Frost and said the government were stealing Lottery Funds for things which should be tax-payer funded. He said when they were in opposition they demanded this should never happen. He said it showed they couldn't be trusted. (I would have loved just one example, a "for instance", but there wasn't one.)
But he was quick to offer support to Prince Harry striking out at a photographer. Me, I'm not so sure. The myriad photos I've seen show nothing more than a schemie chavscum out of control.
Part of me thinks it must be awful to have photographers and Special Branch with you every where you go. And another part thinks of the money he'll get - all his life - for doing next to nowt. Accident of birth. Somebody had to result from all that sperm. Runt of the litter.
So, to settle the argument, I've made Harry and the snapper the next quick quiz.
Previous result... eight people thought Starbucks a good thing, and six the opposite. Me, I suspect a few of the Board must have passed by here!
A SHERIFF looked stunned when he saw that a drug dealer in the dock of his court was his church organist.
The sheriff looked at the accused and seemed dismayed. He said... (Read more)
Footnote: What's all this got to do with Naked Blog, I hear you ask. Well, it's like this. Just as the accused plays the organ for the sheriff, I myself call the bingo for the accused. You couldn't make it up. (And despite having his pic plastered all over the press yesterday, the guy was still man enough to turn up for Peter's bingo last night. Non-custodial sentences are all the rage.)
"I'm gonna ask him if he's got any heroin!" Little Alex announced. (Who is now growing a beard in an attempt to be taken more seriously.)
"Don't you dare!" thundered Andy the manager.
"Full house. For one hundred thousand pounds. Your first number... " I intoned, continuing the session.
Things are afoot in the Port. Dark mysteries... things that howl to the moon and wave their arms in blind confusion at the passing, more sober world.
Yes, folks, it's Norma. Poor Mary the landlady is at the end of her tether with her behaviour. "I love her so dearly," she said to Big Robert and me, " - but she's driving so many customers away. Just yesterday a couple got up and left after she went over."
Because Evergreen Norma likes a wee bevvy tae hersel'. "White wine, thank you Mary," she begins her shift, but then rapidly plummets downhill - from Miss Jean Brodie to missing the last bus.
"And of course, I have a duty to get her home safely," Mary said. "Maybe we can work out some compromise."
"How about if you restricted her to just two bottles," I suggested.
Big Al (not BSA - another Al, original Al) came in. We all of us laughed. His new blog is here.
It's such a dilemma for pubs. Problem drinkers are a huge financial plus, so long as the problem part is kept for elsewhere. Balancing act. Wisdom of Solomon. Whose round is it now?
Thanks for voting yesterday in "Bush or Kerry". And the results were...
A pretty healthy majority for the Senator, even if he does look like he wouldn't get a joke if it dropped on his head. (This was inspired by a recent post on Richard's site, which provoked a surprising (to me) rash of pro-Bush reactions in his comment box.) Be warned... some comments are very long indeed!
Today's quick quiz owes its origin to Gordon, who today waxes thoughtful about Starbucks and globalisation. (My own pearls are in the comment box there.)
One thousand thanks to Richard for his advice on warming up the vocal cords with singing. They love it. Sailed through yesterday! The only problem is finding somewhere private enough to practise. (Not a pretty sound - something like a Rod Stewart and Bob Dylan duet, if you can imagine such a thing.) But maybe I won't have to resign now, after all. Thanks.
Some day I must come along and hear you singing Monteverdi Vespers 1610. Oh - they knew how to write a good tune in those days. And not a synthesiser in sight! (Nowhere to plug them in.)
I'm feeling a bit surreal this week. Life just gets more and more bizarre. Nice, if you don't weaken.
Take Monday. "I've just bought a new umbrella and it's smaller than my dick!" I exclaimed to little Alex and Jill the barmaid in the Port. "Don't believe you!" Alex retorted. So I plonked it on the bar. (It was very small indeed. Fulton Tiny, to give the brand.)
"OK," I conceded. "Maybe it's broader than my dick. But my dick's definitely longer." (I was making it up bigtime.)
"That's shocking!" Alex said. "I can't touch it now." So I wiped the tiny umbrella on his shoulder before he could escape.
Launched into Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition last night. There's a "Making of" feature, with Lucas, Hamill, Fisher and Ford all there strutting their stuff. Wonder how much the actors got paid? Probably peanuts. Hollywood is more mercenary than Shylock.
Apparently the Special Edition was made because the twenty-year old negative was so faded that if they didn't do it now it would be gone for ever. Nothing to do with cashing in on the DVD craze.
Vividly I remember seeing Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back in a double bill at the Edinburgh Odeon - shortly after Empire came out. I'd just completed a week on ZX81 and Class A's, and that was my come-down treat. Unbelievably spectacular. Etched.
Then back home to more spectacular ZX81 programming. Remember all that stuff? DO, GOTO, IF, THEN, PRINT, FOR...
(I know it pays well, but I don't understand people who programme for a living. Where's the human interest?)
Yes, it's true. Next week I'm opening Harvey Nick's newest store in the Ocean Terminal!
No I'm not!! (Had you going there for a minute though, didn't I?)
But what I'm really doing is a personal appearance (henceforth to be known as PA) in Woollies in Milton Road! How posh is that?
I'll give you the details later, so you can turn up and cheer. It's to promote some new-fangled bingo DVD that's come out. And I'm to be there in my role as Scottish Bingo Caller of the Year to call the bingo, sign a few autographs, maybe pose beside old ladies for snaps, sort of thing. I think the Port is organising a charabanc trip.
Ah well, everyone's got to start somewhere. So look out, Paul O'Grady! Roll over Beethoven.
Next week, Woollies! Week after, maybe a Republican Party Convention!
Watched The Crow last night, for the second time. The first was back in the actual nineties, when recreationals tinged everything marvellous. I had to check. And yes, it is. Marvellous.
So out of it was I for a time, that it hadn't registered that Brandon Lee, the star, had been killed on-set during the filming. All this adds even more poignancy to the plot.
Although the low budget keeps it smaller than Blade Runner or Batman, those are the two which spring to mind. (In fact, it's perilously close to some bargain bin 99 pencers. How I love noir!) The DVD reviews praise its tech, but all that'll have to wait till I get my new telly and sound system.
Once again, there isn't any. Peace in our time, for two whole nights. Thank you all so very much for your sympathies and advice.
Bernice from the bingo lives further along my street, and she's heard the mice as well. "But I've got all my holes blocked up," she confided.
Glancing through the Imdb User reviews for The Crow, I was quite taken with this one. I hope the writer will forgive my nicking it...
This is my favorite movie of all time. I have seen it over 556 times. I own it on VHS, BETA, Laser Disc and DVD. I also have the comics, action figures, the soundtrack and the soundtrack to the Crow Comic book. I have had to buy multiple copies of the VHS and DVD because I used them so much that they stopped working. I have never been able to tell anyone why this is my favorite movie and why I have seen it so many times, except that it strongly appeals to me. The scene in which Eric walks into the church and you can see the rain outside, it just moves me. The face paint, the coat, the overall sense of revenge, but how it is done. I just can't explain it.
Now that's what I call praise!
...was on BBC breakfast this morning, with Dermot and Natasha. I missed the start of the interview, but it seems she's written a book on modern British English. Here at Naked Blog we keep abreast of the times with our forays into IRC (which have nothing to do with prurience at all). Test your usage.
At one time, seventies most likely, there were in Edinburgh two openings - outlets if you will - for gay male sex orgies. (Remember then your author was not only fully testosteroned, but "a good shag" into the bargain.)
One such event was periodic, at the home of a certain theatrical costumier, who shall remain nameless here. Parties, he called them. Yes, please - I'd love to come, we all replied. If you couldn't get laid at one of D's parties then you really weren't trying very hard. Either that or you were way too fussy.
And his favourites were invited to stay back for breakfast. Me, I never got asked, but then costumiers were never really my thing. Now a theatrical carpenter would be a different kettle of fish. (And was.)
Ah simple days... booze and poppers the drugs of choice... HIV jumping about like a flea in a mink farm, but we didn't know that then, of course.
The other "body fluid spectacular" was at the far end of Merchant Street, abutting off Candlemaker row. (Is "abutting off" acceptable? If you don't try then you won't find out.) A "club" which was superficially for gay bikers, but - surprise, surprise - just happened to host a sauna, darkroom, etc. etc.
Sexual nirvana for the seventies.
And where should my little feet find themselves tippy-tappying yesterday than down that very Candlemaker Row... from George IV Bridge to the Grassmarket. I was eating a Greggs SteakBake, or rather nibbling, as it was very hot. Merchant Street the sign on the right proclaimed. A council rubbish van was doing its biz there with the big buckets.
"How about a little look along?" I dared to think. (I really had loads of time on my hands.) "Nostalgia Lane."
An armoured van came out of a metal grille at the very end of Merchant Street, and quickly got stuck behind the rubbish truck. Toot! Toot! I glanced at the side. Reliant Custodial Services it said.
My God! I was only inches away from a criminal. The metal grille was the basement of the Sheriff Court in Chambers Street.
Now, if this were Los Angeles, rather than stuffy old Edinburgh, a gang of Nixon-masked dudes would spring out of the rubbish van, spray everyone in sight (including me) with bullets, and spring the prisoner from Reliant Custodial Services.
But things don't happen like that around here very much. Both vans went their separate ways... one to the incinerator, and one to the slammer.
Still I kept walking along. What could have happened to my former leather club? What could it have transformed itself into these days? Edinburgh Conservative Association? Young Ladies' Finishing School?
Well - don't some things just never change! It's a sauna - of all the God-forsaken things. I won't give the name, to prevent searches. Oh - what the fuck! There's tons for Google here already.
Number Nine Sauna, it said. A seedy-looking guy my own age was holding the door open, looking at me, maybe hoping for a bit of early-doors business when I'd finished the SteakBake.
Nae chance! You have no idea how good it is to lose all those ghastly hormones. Just as in the busty tale below... :)
"I'm growing breasts," I said at work yesterday, apropos of nothing very much. It was me and two of my managers. "That's nice, Peter," the straight one said, " - any particular reason?"
"Oh you!" I retorted, coquettishly. "No - I just looked in the mirror this morning and there they were. Must be old age."
"I see," he replied. "I thought you meant it was a conscious choice... I think I'll grow some breasts today."
Men! Don't ya just luvvem!
Even after an entire day off, my larynx still hurts from work. Pinpricks in the throat. It hasn't been this bad for four years.
This will not do. So on Wednesday I resign. Get a job in a shop or something. Plus I'll not have to go to London for the competition then. Six months this fucker has been hanging over me - causing actual affect to my life. I'm sick of it.
(Medical note for younger readers...) Breast growth in older men is totally natural, and results from diminished testosterone due to testicular shrinkage and the whole other symphonies of sexual ageing. But mostly testicular shrinkage. All there ahead of you, guys! (Of course there's always viagra. I know some guys in their sixties who swear by it. Got that much in their pockets they sell it. But then this is Leith.)
"Shake yer balls!" my bingo ladies (used to) shout. "At my age it's trying to find them!" I (used to) retort, when my larynx was feeling a little better.
They're back! And they're bigger and badder than ever!!
Do you have any idea what it's like lying awake at 4, 5, 6, and the rest of the am, listening to rodents chewing wood? Do you? Well, I damn well do.
It's scary, and I'm exhausted.
Readers new to Naked Blog (and there are so many) might not be aware that here we exist in a siege zone. Rodent terrorism. We have a road map, but the mice seem oblivious to it. In fact, they started to eat it.
At various times we've imagined - in increasing order - mouse, rat, beaver, otter and even an entire foxhunt parading across the living room. Tally ho!
Take last night. There I was after work, sitting back chilling to shite TV - as you do - when that certain flicker darted behind the TV. Greyish, small, maybe more brownish than grey. That shadowy presence that once you would have written off to the recreationals, but now you know must definitely be...
Shit! It's another mouse! But then I thought maybe not. Maybe it was the TV screen reflecting off a casserole on the floor, then re-reflecting on the screen of the CPC 6128 stacked in the corner. (For 12 years.) Zigzag. So I relaxed. Amazing what you can kid yourself with. Till 4.30 am.
Then scritch. Scratch. And scritch again. But not on the door where they usually chew. Oh no. The buggers have expanded their purview if you please. This time it was the opposite corner. The skirting between me and next door. Loud? I'll give you loud. It was deafening. Even louder than John Simpson's show on News 24.
He was in Afghanistan chatting to a British Colonel. The Afghanis loved them all. Didn't take one potshot. Just stood there with guns behind their bums and, "Hope I look good on the telly," expressions on their handsome faces. You could tell John had just slipped them all a few quid.
Bet that place is a queen's paradise. Till they stone you to death.
(Oh, and then while Jude Law was chatting to David Frost this morning, I'm convinced I saw one darting from behind the empty video covers to behind the vinyl albums. (About seven years in situ, if you must know.) In broad daylight. It's really getting scary when they do it in broad daylight.)
So I repeat. Ad nauseam. Do you have any idea what it's like lying there sleeping while next door's mice try to chew their way in? Knowing full well that it's only being alive stops you getting eaten also? Die for a moment and you're history, dude. Yet for some reason they still ignore my mousetraps. Maybe Cadbury's chocolate is too obvious a ploy. Or maybe they've developed a genetic aversion to mousetrap machines, like we have to snakes and spiders.
Now if someone brought out a mousetrap that looked like a pretty female! "I'm just dying to shag you, darling..."
Work is problematic. My larynx isn't coping with the increased demands of the "top job" I took over a few months ago. (I know that sounds precious, but anyone who works with their voice will know exactly what I mean.) The organ evolved for everyday speech, not for the overuse of earning a living therefrom.
So - that implies a little more than you might think. The company requires its chief callers to work something approximating full time. Otherwise it's back to assistant caller cum understudy, and loss of pay and... I'm sorry to say... authoritay. (Which I do quite like. How unenlightened is that.)
Scottish Bingo Caller of the Year plays second fiddle to an incomer. I just don't see it. So it's consider the options time. Everything is negotiable except my health.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes Larynx
John Reid the Health Secretary for England and Wales was also on David Frost this morning. After the usual party-politicking they got on to the forthcoming smoking ban. Dr Reid refused to say too much, except to indicate in the strongest possible terms that we're not going the Republic of Ireland route. (Total ban in public places.) "We need a British solution," he said. "Over there they ban abortions and divorce." (What that has to do with smoking he didn't attempt to explain.)
He then stated it was a "right" for a person to have a cigarette with a pint. Not one word about the rights of non-smokers.
In other words... NOTHING useful will be done. They'll suggest the creation of non-smoking bars, and no-one will create them (or not nearly enough) and in no time flat it'll be back where we are now. Non-smokers (the 3 to 1 majority) choking on others' filthy fumes. Plus a total exemption for bingo, casinos, and any other members' clubs, where the employees can just rot in hell as their punishment for being poor.
Tobacco money buys many privileges from governments, it seems. Prohibition works but they'll never do it. A British solution.
But!! There's a ray of hope for us up here in Bonnie Scotland, Europe's sickness capital. A wee glimmer of licht among the fagreek. Here we make our own laws on such matters, and you can guess where my vote will go!
Simple and humane. Put all the Scottish smokers on the Scottish islands. Skye, Lewis, Harris, Shetland... tons of room. You could go multicultural or single faith. Rangers or Celtic. Then airdrop lots of nice food (Babs could cook it), but - and this is crucial - no fags at all. Not one Embassy Regal or Richmond Superking. No Benson, no Hedges, no Golden Virginia.
That'll cure them sharpish! And remember - most of the poor suckers want to stop anyway. A Scottish solution. You saw it here first, but betcha it won't be the last.
It's that time of the year again, when the sun gets lower and weaker, but still does the biz bigtime if it's shining right in your face. Like yesterday, going up Leith Walk on the right hand side. Sheer glory. I was going to walk all the way to the top, but after ten minutes took a sidetrack over to the shady side, and Janet's Traditional Barbers.
I still hadn't thanked her for that award-winning haircut for my Bingo comp a couple of weeks ago. Plus I owed her a pound for the balance of the price of some Australian hair mud she talked me into.
Fudge Hair Putty (I'm not kidding.) Gives you more bounce than a kangaroo. (I'm kidding now.)
"Congratulations!" Janet cried. "I read about you in the paper. You were that nervous as well, the day before." Then she stopped all her barbers working, and told the customers about my sucess, and her tonsorial contribution thereto. It felt like being back at school, having everyone look at you like that.
"Where do you go next?" she asked. "London," I replied. "And after I win that one, I'll give you a signed photo. Put it in the window beside Tom Cruise or somebody." We laughed. Outside a bus was pulling up so I quickly checked I had two quid for the daysaver, then sprang aboard. Adventure! Two pounds gets you absolutely anywhere in Edinburgh.
Scott's Bar at the far end of Rose Street was doing Guinness at a remarkable one pound eighty five, so it would have been madness not to have one there. Two young Ozzie dudes sat round the billabong chewin the fat. One of them had a speech impediment. I only stayed for one, as the outlook was a bit dark, and Sky News has only limited appeal, no matter how large the screen. At least it's preferable to MTV-alikes or sport. W H Smith had an "unacceptable" year's performance, the ticker told me. I could hardly contain my indifference.
Young Street, Hill Street, Thistle Street, as I wander and wonder at the wealth of those who live thereabouts.
Up to George Street for the last of the autumn rays, and some contemplation of the next couple of months and less and less light to come. The terror. Thinking back to last December, and chasing the sun from dawn till dusk. (Which isn't long.) The castle as sundial, with its giant shadow on the S of River Island in Princes Street. I passed that shop yesterday, River Island... still in full afternoon illumination. No hint of freezy shadows yet. But they will come. As surely as night follows day.
Call Centre Confidential 34
Destruction For Dummies 12
Gordon McLean 15
Invisible Stranger 3
Jonny Billericay 13
Little Red Boat 2 35
Speaking as a Parent 17
Troubled Diva 29
(Meish and My Boyfriend don't seem to have currently active feeds.)
Oh, my, God. I can't believe I just wrote that geeky sentence! (Laugh.)
And btw, Naked Blog weighs in at a suitably modest 12, whereas Plastic Tom has no less than 144, a gross amount. So we're certainly not here to brag about things.
But these figures are deceiving. For instance, the lovely Anna of Little Red Boat has a very popular blog, loads of readers and commenters, yet only two subscribers. How bizarre is that? [Update: Actually 35, not 2. See mike's comment.] Nigel I'm sure would have loads also, if he were only a little more frequent. Maybe he's got a life.
Mike has 29, but of course he's recently 'fessed up to adopting multiple online identities. More nicknames than an IRC chatroom. Could it be that 27 of them are in fact himself? The jury is hung.
Can't you just tell I've got nothing to write about! Feeds, I ask you. Feeds! Is this what we're reduced to? I'm going out to get me some real life. Back later. Check my feed.
Strange tale, this one, and a bit of a parable for the age.
Sunday night just gone, in the Port at closing time (1 am), a couple of yobs came in wanting drink. On being refused service by Lindsay the barmaid in charge, they pretended to go quietly. But that really was a pretence.
Just beside the exit door, one of them grabbed a pint glass and threw it the whole length of the bar at Lindsay's head.
It missed her by a fraction, and hit instead Claire's friend Camilla, a customer, when it broke giving her minor cuts.
The bar erupted. Cliff, Alex and all the other men piled out the door in hot pursuit of these young thugs. Chased them right round the block, with much taunting and shouting from both sides. Eventually the youngsters escaped into a friendly flat, and some time later (twenty minutes, to be approximate) the cops arrived. They'd seen it all on their CCTV's. Constitution Street is hugely surveilled for some reason.
Well - what are you banging on about, Peter? This sort of thing can and does go on in any town across the land. In Nottingham they even have drive-by's these days.
News-watchers (such as myself) will compare the small coverage of Danielle Beccan's murder with that of Ken Bigley's. Reasons for this? Her killers weren't hooded terrorists. They didn't behead her. And - most crucially... there were no ongoing video releases. She was only a young girl going about her reasonable business, with all her life ahead of her. News vulture bastards. But you know my views already.
No, it was what the police said about their late arrival that was so startling. (Despite the grand building and famous saying, there is no effective Leith Police presence any more. They have to come all the way from Drylaw or Wester Hailes.)
What the police officers said to the men was, in effect, "It takes us twenty minutes to get here. So you'd have been better giving the thugs a good hiding yourselves."
What say you to that Mr Blunkett? (After seven years in office.) But of course if it's not in Iraq then it's not very interesting.
And now I'm off to struggle with my new Bloglines thingie. What's Bloglines got that Kinja hasn't? I could cope with Kinja, just about. Change, change... everything's change these days. Whatever happened to FrontPage? I can remember ZX81's you know - before you lot were born... (shuffles off to the Post Office pension counter... )
It was a very great joy to watch Jurassic Park again over the last couple of nights. Such memories!
When did it come out? Was it in 97? 98?
No, dudes... 'twas 1993. Yes, well over a decade since the developed world was suddenly swamped - drenched - in dino nick-nacks. (They even do a pan shot in the movie of the merchandise store... talk about self-referential!)
Startling that, now isn't it, 1993? Me, I've been old enough for long enough to add a few years to all my back-projections.
In sickness and in health (1)
Although I didn't specifically ask permission for this, I feel Tony my IT Manager will be OK with it. It's Tony's dad. On holiday in Cyprus. Has become very ill. But never disclosed everything on his holiday health insurance.
Result? Insurance null and void. No insurance. Nada. And now his dad faces a 25k bill for an air ambulance home.
Moral? Declare every single thing on your form. Every last bottle of tablets. Otherwise they can and they will cancel the whole thing without a moment's further thought.
In sickness and in health (2)
Babs is pleased to announce that her mother is looking much better and might last for months. This can only be good, although sibling rivalries are definitely developing. This is not uncommon.
Regular As Clockwork
"How do you find things to write about every day?" asked Tony my IT manager, and recent blogger.
"Dunno," I could only reply. "It's like having a shit... just happens at that time of day."
(All new bloggers ask this, once the first few posts wear off. They say they haven't thought of anything. For three whole weeks or sometimes more.) What sort of life doesn't strike one interesting thing in three weeks?
Nobody - nobody - could have a more boring life than mine. No family, few friends, never do anything or go anywhere - just an endless cycle of work, pub, telly. Repeat until death sets in. Yet Naked Blog seems to attract one or two. Maybe it's the way I tell em.
And now it's time for Joan Rivers again. I didn't realise she was nightly. How gruesome!
Bowing to much pressure from assorted blogstars, we have at last given in and produced the following little thing.
I hope you all enjoy it. Thanks to Tony my IT manager. Me, I haven't a clue. (Sadly I can't ask Tony to explain it to me, as I invariably get lost before he's finished the first sentence.)
So, if anyone is capaple of didacting and pedagoguing these matters to me, this is what I currently understand (vaguely)...
File, folder/directory, server, storage, FTP upload/download, browser as thing that "locates" a remote server then downloads files from it.
I also know some semantics... RSS is Really Simple Syndication (except I only understand the print meaning of syndication, where you sell your stuff to various newspapers/magazines. Its cyber-meaning quite eludes me.
XML is a file extension, and possibly markup language also. (See HTML.)
How'm I doing? Not bad for 57, eh?)
Now tell me pray, kind sir or madam, exactly what that orange button will do. For me and for you. Thank you kindly.
There should be some sort of prize. "I split Peter's Atom and he loved it."
Feeling almost human this morning, for a change. Thanks for all your advice on joint troubles - the kind thoughts alone seem to have done the trick. For now.
I'm getting really pissed off at the mice now, ignoring my traps for days on end. Is my house not good enough for them? Have we really sunk that low, that they're preferring more luxury pads to mine? Fuck right off. I've lost all sympathy. I'll burn your corpses and dance on the ashes. Vermin.
Hearing quite scary things about the London bingo-calling final next month. It's in Britain's biggest bingo club. Two thousand seater. Restaurants, bars, all in the one environment. Playing for six thousand pound houses. Two thousand on the quieter pages. Here in Leith we play for four hundred. (Except for the Link and National.) Eeek. But I really don't care. Victory is assured.
I can only pray Billy Connolly fucks up again nearer the time. Make big capital out of that twat. Have them eating out of my hand after the first sentence.
And if the punters are that rich, they'll be expecting the contestants to be wearing something a little more plush than a Burton's sale suit. Hmmm. Someone suggested a white dinner jacket.
The idea is that you arrive the day before, and we all have dinner together with the organisers in the hotel.
In these matters, ignorance is bliss. I would rather not even see the others, far less pretend to socialise with them one day and go for the jugular the next. So I'll probably sit and say nowt. (Or as little as possible.) Pretend to be thick and a pushover.
You're supposed to take a "partner or guest", but that's just not gonna happen. Double rooms, you see. Or "twin", whatever that is. But me sleep in a hotel room - with someone else there? I don't think so. I really can't recall the last time I didn't sleep alone. (And no, that's not self-pity.) Quentin was more right than you maybe imagine.
So much disruption, and at my time of life. Maybe more later. I have my public to meet.
Last night BBC Panorama shocked us all (not a lot) by grassing up the sugar industry. Big Sugar. Apparently they "fix" research results to make out sugar is the healthiest thing in the discovered universe - and how foolish we'd be to eat anything else. Vegetables? Forget em, dude. Stick to Strawberry Mousse. Four spoonfuls in every little pot. Kids love it, so it must be OK.
So that's Big Sugar done. Last week Big Pharmy with Seroxat. Every week Big Tobacco. And let's not forget Big Arms Sales.
But I shouldn't be yawning. Maybe we should be reaching for the razor blades instead. Because somehow, without most people noticing, the companies have taken over the world. And we are but fodder, to work for them till we drop... and Mr Murdoch their mouthpiece to tell us how wonderful everything is. (But laced with a hint of danger should we consider voting for the wrong candidate.) And this goes on from California to Canberra, and everywhere in between.
Can nothing be done about this? Not even with the potentially limitless organising power of this most democratic of media? The one you're reading just now?
For make no mistake... the moment the internet starts to pose any threat to their plutocracy, we'll lose it faster than a Telecommunications Act (As Amended 2005). They'll blame "danger to children" for snatching it away. You watch my words. While you can.
Later, Joan Rivers came on Channel Five as an Agony Aunt. Totally trashy of course. Just what you need after a hard day at the bingo.
Old and tired. Joints hurting. Both hands, especially the thumbs. Neck. Shoulders from time to time. Knees. Up Mother Brown. Anybody know any good grub for joints? Oily fish?
All this extra activity over the last few months is possibly proving too much. I look back on my "three day weeks" with open envy.
Enjoyed the Mothman Prophecies (2002). Richard Gere performs the lines adequately, but you all know my views about stars. The rest of the cast are unknowns, though, so that's much better. (Except Alan Bates, but it's a tiny part and you wouldn't recognise him anyway.) Get it out if you like the thriller/supernatural genre. Apparently the DVD has super sound on 5.1 if you've got that sort of thing. Me, I'm only on three mono inches out of the side of the telly.
(That's why I have such difficulty at the cinema. It's all so visually and aurally wonderful that I have no time to watch the plot. (Or that's what I tell myself when after half an hour I haven't a clue.) Auld age disnae come itsel', ye ken.)
Joan Rivers was great on Parkinson yesterday, but Sir Cliff (Richard) looked grotesque. Someone should tell him to stop trying to be 25 when he's 63. His song was OK - it's just seeing him that's the problem.
Must rush. This has been a bit of a dog's dinner, but I'm a bit dog tired. Mice conspicuous by their absence. I still haven't replied to any emails. Tony my IT manager has made me an Atom thingie. XML. Some day I might understand what that is.
Such a serviceable number, 57. Fifty seven degrees north we are. Fifty seven years old, ditto. And exactly that number of Fahrenheit degrees in my study this am. What a change from recent temperatures!
It's three nineteens, you know. (Not everyone does know that.) Yes - nineteen for the third time we are. For a few more months, and then it's 58. (Which is 29 reloaded.) And then the glory of 59.
What's so glorious about 59? Well, m'dear. It's prime! Pure Miss Jean Brodie. And then prime again at 61. All just to cheer people up around the big six-oh. Prime Scotch Beef.
Ah'm gettin' this wan, pal!
I just can't spend any money in pubs these days. Everyone wants a slice of my stardom, which they purchase with a pint of Guinness. I've decided to stick to that drink meantime, as the lager alternative does ma nut in a bit. (Makes me aggressive.)
Even last night, at the fashionable street level entrance to my penthouse pad, this tasty guy comes up and asks the way to Thorntree Street. I knew it was close... round this bit and up that way a block. "Congratulations, by the way," he says to me, offering his hand. "I seen you on the telly."
I'm getting just a little Natasha-fied over this. (*Sighs* If only it had been the Nobel physics prize though. I had it in me, once.)
To Buy or not to Buy
What's all this talk about fashionable streets and penthouse pads? Well - I just watched my first ever daytime TV. Yes, it's true.
Dom the Dwarf and Estuary Mel advised a cliche-challenged showhouse interior designer on house-buying. A queen, naturellement, but they got round that by bringing in his pal Sophie. 'Twas all mildly entertaining if you've got half a million quid to hand, which I know some of you have, but sadly not this author. Yet.
Death By Chocolate
There are now two Selfset mousetraps in prime residential locations in my pad. Baited with Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate. (May not be sold as chocolate outside this country, due to serious shortage of cocoa.) But do mice read labels?
Cruel? I know it's cruel. But what a way to go, girls, eh? Mouth full of chocolate... nose going mmmmm, fanny getting romantic, and then SNAP! Wouldn't feel a thing. Sure beats plane crashes, if you ask me.
Mouse score to date: Nil points.
Stars on Sofas
Don't you just love the way BBC Breakfast almost totally does away with news? This morning they had the Pointer Sisters, Joan Rivers and Sue Townsend, who's written another Adrian Mole book, but now is in a wheelchair.
I was hoping they would go on about why she was in a wheelchair, rather than what's in her stupid book, but they barely seemed to notice. Might have made more people buy it.
Whiter Shade of Pale
One million thanks for all your advice about the tooth whitening. It seems the Boots treatment is the way to go. I'll smile at you as soon as it's completed. (Is that the one people meant, btw?)
Big-ups to mike who's checking in for a course of cognitive behavioural therapy. Me, I'm a big therapy fan. And counselling, which is much the same. In fact, it doesn't really matter what you call it, the very idea of having someone paid to listen to you talk about yourself for an hour is surely manna from heaven. Everyone should have access to it as required. I have.
You know, I can also see mike doing a couple of shifts in a charity shop. Nothing like working for the poor to make a rich (ish) man feel better. All those shirts!! And the old ladies will adore him. Yes - that's definitely a way to go. (That'll be fifty quid.)
It's off to work we go. The sun is shining, and it's hard to think of a care in the world! Have lovely weekends, all. I hope I will too.
(My room temperature has reached a warming 59 degrees. Consider the lilies.)
I shouldn't be sitting here, typing like this. My right wrist is badly sprained, as is the right knee. My shoulders and neck are stiffer than a penis on super-viagra and I'm generally falling to bits. Auld age disnae come itsel'.
Mood good, however. Dunkirk spirit. Plus the sun is shining.
Yesterday teatime I popped in from work (which is just around the corner for reasons of global cooling). You gas-guzzlers should maybe try that. Then what should greet my tired eyes but the biggest heap yet of sawdust under the living room door. That was no wind kept me awake on Tuesday night; it was creature.
And we're not talking mouse, we're not talking rat, we're talking beaver at least. How gruesome. Don't even think of calling me a drama queen.
I've set a Selfset mousetrap, baited with Cadbury's chocolate. So you can imagine how well I slept last night with wrist and knee and neck all hurting, and ears straining to the snap of rodent spine. Sometimes they squeak as they die. Right now I feel like squeaking myself.
All over the papers again yesterday, complete with correct age (bastards) and a fresh selection of incorrect quotes. "Can I sue them for putting words into my mouth I never said?" I asked one of my managers. "Only if it's damaging to your character," he replied. "So I guess making me out to be a boring, unimaginative twat doesn't count," I mused.
Honestly, you would have to see the things they've got me saying about bingo and about last week's competition. Direct speech, no less. What has happened to my former reputation as one of Scotland's leading post-modern intellectuals?
I've just seen a mouse! Yes really. An ordinary-sized brown mouse, about to cross the study where I'm sitting writing to you. Corner of my eye. So I shouted and it ran away. Well, that's one question answered at least. Praise the Lord it isn't anything bigger. Talk about hot off the press!
Let me sit for a moment while my adrenalin returns to normal...
(I'll borrow next-door's cat for a bit. That'll scare em shitless.)
This house is mouse paradise, you know. Five stars at least. There's hardly one foot of skirting hasn't got books, clothes, hifi, or other mouldering rubbish piled up there.
Oh - I don't want to kill any creatures! I used to keep mice as a child, until they started breeding and rampant incest set in. "Look what daddy mouse is doing, mummy!"
Only mice. Could have been so much worse. I'll sleep more easily tonight. Plus now I know where to put more traps! Hehe.
What I was going to mention was a bunch of traffic from something called del.icio.us But it must be a moveable list, as NB is nowhere to be seen now. Any ideas? They're calling it social software. Probably they're using my little oeuvre for marketing and I've fallen for it. Kinja did that too.
(Thinks...) I'm trying not to get freaked out. The mice must be well set in if they're trotting across the floor in broad daylight while I'm typing. I know blogging is an absorbing hobby, but...
Ninety-seven percent of shared DNA and I'm going to crush their little spines. Zen and The Art of Mouse Assassination.
I'm still quietly fuming at last week's Scotsman article on blogging which could only manage to mention one Scottish Blog. Are we all so rubbish, or did the journalist not bother her arse? At the very least Gordon's Scottish Blog blogring could have been mentioned, and also Island Blogs.
Lunch with Sandra in Babs' pub was understandably a muted affair, because of Babs' mother's illness. I had lamb-balls while Sandra plumped for the fish and chips. Tasty. Me, I finished first by a mile, as Sandra's tongue was set to max.
To Stockbridge then and some charity shopping. Cancer Research was quite dear, we both thought, but I got a nice brown winter shirt (three quid) in Shelter, then a jacket (eight quid) in Capability Scotland. Sandra assured me it wasn't too middle-aged.
She was scooping up armfuls for herself and Johnny her man. Daughter (12) won't wear anything her mother chooses - on principle, it would appear. "Bet she'd wear that!" I declared, pointing to a black micro-miniskirt. "I wouldn't get her that!" Sandra quickly rebutted.
We saved quite a bit, but were a bit dismayed later to find a sixty quid parking ticket on Sandra's car. (Reduced to thirty if you pay in two weeks.) Kind of wrote off our savings. I paid Sandra half of the thirty, as the parking was for my convenience too. But she just phoned me this morning to say she couldn't accept it. We shall see. I have my ways!
What a sleepless night! I felt sure every rodent this side of Hamelin was in my bedroom chewing, but on reflection it was possibly the wind. (Gale.) Between that and the still-noisy manhole cover outside, my nerves are shot to buggery, I can tell you.
Before that, still in bargain mode, I noticed my local Blockbuster were selling used videos at two for three quid. So I got Jurassic Park (still scary after all these years), and Calendar Girls, which seemed pleasant enough in a Hovis/tomato soup way. Must confess I dozed through bits of it, and my general impression was of good actresses not being stretched to anything like their potentials.
The Village "movie Tuesday" club seems to be on ice at the moment, as the pub has developed a busy Tuesday night folk club and Alastair has to work. It's non-smoking, which is so trendy.
He created a cocktail in honour of my recent stage triumph. It's called Peter's Full House, and consists of vodka, blue curacao and orange juice.
You can serve it with umbrella and bent straw, and it's as stimulating as I am.
It was Dean's birthday recently, and Gwen made him a topless happy birthday video and phoned in her performance from Portugal. Lovely blue skies and tits. The young! The technology! Dean had just bought a re-conditioned FreeView box. Do I need one too?
Another, slightly sadder, Village story lies below...
Alastair came up to me in the Village tonight. No - not Alastair the owner... not any Alastair you've maybe even read about here. (It's not an uncommon name in Scotland.) But someone who knows me and who'd seen the wee bingo piece on STV news on Friday.
"Congratulations on your award," he said to me. "Thanks, Alastair!" I replied. "Was it your mam told you about it?"
"No, Peter," he said. "My mother died about seven months ago. But I'm sure she would have been delighted - you always were her favourite caller."
"Man, I'm so sorry," I said, stroking his back as he stood there beside me. Eye to eye. (And how the fuck do I tell him I never missed his mother for seven months? Never even noticed she wasn't there?)
"It's OK," Alastair replied, his eyes glazing over. "I've got over it now, the pain, the blades, the sharpness. You go and get on with it, down in London."
In these little ways.
So many bingo ladies.
It's the quiet ones you never notice.
There's going to be some death about the place for a while.
"Congratulations on your bingo sucess!" Sonia my dentist said, smiling perfectly. It was 8.30 this morning. She looked fresh as a daisy - but then she never, ever has to work till 9.30 at night.
"OK" I replied. "My teeth. They've got to be TV camera-friendly by the end of November. Get scrubbing, woman."
The bleaching part is easy, she explained. You put trays in at night, and it takes eight nights. You can spread the treatments out a bit. (If you've got an overnight shag, I presume she meant.)
"House!!" I was about to say, breathlessly, when she dropped the bombshell. "And it's three hundred pounds."
"Eeek!" Bingo callers just don't make that sort of money, to so lightly toss aside for a win which might never happen. For a four second interview instantly binned if Mr Blair's handsome heart should atrially flutter again.
So I told her I'd think about it. Any suggestions about tooth bleaching? Prices?
And as for Upper Right Four (bionic replacement) Sonia was then talking lottery figures. Two thousand pounds for an implant. That's half a year's income.
I just don't see it. (And neither will the camera.) Just because you're on the telly for a few seconds, doesn't mean you're Quentin Crisp.
Much love to my great friend Babs, whose mother is now known to be very ill and might be measuring her life in days rather than weeks. The Lord giveth. I'm seeing her (Babs) today.
Watched the video of Friday's news item at Tony and Louise's. After I'd got over the shock of how old and fat I've become, the only things which then stood out were the rapidly thinning hair and still-stained bottom teeth from all those years of smoking. The words "PICTURE, NOT, PRETTY, A" could usefully be re-arranged.
But the clothes were OK, in a middle-aged bank manager way, and the performance was, as ever, fab. Plus they gloriously mis-spelled my name, which is a google-boon.
I leave the shy Peter at the front door for these sorts of things, and it's very easy to switch on that other one, Mr Hyde, in performance situations. Not so straightforward in the bar today though, when once again I had to flee from people's good wishes and sit on my own and read the Guardian. I can cope with anything except kindness. Enmity and hatred are my much more common coinage.
Cold rain on the window outside. So cold it's steaming up, even though there's only me in here, breathing alone, and the door's wide open anyway.
Friday (see below) was splendid. And do you know what was the most splendid bit? Quoting Quentin on the lunchtime news.
"What did you mean by that thing you said?" my bingo ladies ask me now. (The more perceptive.) "Other people are a mistake!" I tell them. "It was Quentin Crisp, now dead, a grand old man. He meant that you and only you are the one who matters."
Then I go on to qualify this initially quite startling philosophy. I bring competition into it. That when faced with five other contestants, you must ruthlessly transcend them and assume the winning position.
(I was helped in that by my placing, which was sixth out of six.)
As well as calling a page, which is the job, you had first to introduce yourself with a three minute stand-up, to demonstrate your personality. Oh - the others were varying degrees of OK, but then it fell to the master, me. Older than the next one by seven years, and thirty years senior to the youngest, I strode onto centre stage like a collossus. "Well, that's got them out of the way, but now it's time for the winner." (I didn't say that, of course... but there are other modes. All performers use them.)
Seems to have worked a treat anyway, nicht wahr!
It was a packed house, naturally, thousand seater, tickets only. Busloads from everywhere from Ayr to Aberdeen, all desperate to support "their man". (It was an all-male line-up. There aren't many female callers, as the (women) customers don't like them.) Don't blame me!
And that's enough for now. I'm shattered. Competition Friday and then two full days back at the bingo face, where - ironically - yet another Crispism was repeatedly validated.
What the old girl said went something like this... (Quentin voice) "... but in the modern age, the only medium which really matters is tel-e-vis-ion. People will risk life and limb crossing a busy street to approach you and say, 'I saw you on the telly' "
In Scotland it becomes, "We seen you on the telly," but the idea is exactly the same. Way to go, me and Quentin!
(More snippets soon. I have a life to resume.) Thank you, thank you, thank you darlings, etc... (Looks around for the exit.) I'll reply to all your kind emails asap. There's only so long I can bear to sit in front of this damn screen, as I'm sure you'll understand.
I won this competition which is the bingo industry's equivalent of the Oscars.
And I've been on the telly.
Twice today already. I'm bigger than Tony Blair's heart condition.
The first time this dude sticks a mike in my mouth and says, "Peter - why do you think you'll win this competition?" It was live. In the club. In East Kilbride, near Glasgow. STV lunchtime news.
I fixed him with a stare. "In the immortal words of Quentin Crisp," I began... "Other people are a mistake."
He was startled, of course, but managed to continue his (live) broadcast.
Later, after I'd won, there was more and more filming and chatting and texting and mobiling. Darlings - I'll elevate bingo to the New Statesman or it will kill me.
Kudos to Janet of Leith Walk Traditional Barbers, Burton suits and ties, Next shoes, Debenhams shirts, and of course me, me, me. Louis Vuitton was never required. Nor Prada. There are some things a girl just has to do for herself.
Meanwhile, back at the club - we were all reasonably stocious (inebriated) after our ninety minute bus journey back from the venue, involving much singing of Quantananamera, Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep Cheep and Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie.
I'm sure you've got the picture.
In the hall I grabbed the mike to call just one page, but the duty manager pretty quickly forbade me. So I did a little luvvyatabits speech instead.
"We seen you on the telly!" the customers all declared. So I kissed five thousand customers.
Today could cause actual change to my life, if I play it right. I've thanked you all already. I meant it then, and I mean it now.
Mind and watch the STV news tonight. I'm fairly certain to be on it!
In the Port there was a standing ovation when I entered. (Plus I got a great big hug off Big Straight Al.)