Spent some time yesterday hunting for Playstation Eyetoy games which might rise above the infantile, but with no success. A couple of titles said "Eyetoy Enhanced", but that turned out just to be putting your own face on a character. Something I can fairly easily live without these days. Old enough and ugly enough!
(I can hear the phone ringing in the kitchen, but can't answer it. Too invasive, too intrusive - it could be anybody. Sometimes I do 1471, in case it's Sandra, but other days I don't even do that. Time passes. Life on hold. Soon be Spring. She understands.)
Got uptown fairly early yesterday, around 1.30. This gave an extra hour to wander about, still in the light, and savouring the symptoms. (Anxiety level breathing, swollen mouth tissue... quite astonishing to someone who's never had SAD.)
The sun was still a couple of inches above the Castle Rock, although the castle itself cast shadow over Princes Street, roughly from Marks and Spencer to HMV. Later still in the year the shadows enlarge and last longer, so you get the unusual sight of a city street part frozen like Moscow, and part melted in the watery sun.
I reckoned one pint of Guinness would be restorative, and not use up too much of the precious day. I chose the Grosvenor in Shandwick Place, and was pleased to see it's got an ample non-smoking section.
Then a little exploration! I love finding bits of the city I've never tramped before. Yesterday's Rue de jour was Canning Street, which starts at the beginning of Atholl Crescent, and leads to the end of the Western Approach Road. Lots of lanes and mews.
Across the Western Approach and into a carpark entrance which I imagined led to the Sheraton Plaza, but no - it was just an enclosed hotel back space. (All this sort of stuff is so much like Vice City, but real. I love it. During the day, and in safety, of course.) A guy told me how to get to the real Plaza, and that was good. Tonight I'm to call bingo at the Sheraton for a three thousand pounds a plate charity dinner. Yes really. Dolce Vita at last. Maybe they'll throw me a chicken wing!
Grindlay Street, past the Royal Lyceum, and then to Kings Stables Road and the Grassmarket for lunch in the totally non-smoking White Hart. Broccoli and cheese bake, with sauteed potatoes. I have to say the ratio of potato to broccoli was about ten to one. Still, it filled a gap, even if better described as "Potatoes with a hint of green stuff and a not very cheesy sauce." Smoke-free though, as I say.
Then to the very smoky Port and Little Alex and Wee Stevie (Sticks). Yorkshire Kriss was there, which surprised me as I thought he was barred. His French girlfriend too, from Lisle. Kriss was having a bit of an emotional breakdown, so he went out and broke Bar Java's window. Then the cops came and lifted him, but an hour later he was back. Mary had to leave the Monday bridge game and go and see to them both. The girl was in floods of tears. Never runs smooth.
Anil the drunken accountant stepped in to Mary's place, but in no time flat he was getting right on my tits and shouting abuse. "Away and make the tiffin!" I shouted back at him. (I'm lying. I didn't think of that until today, but will certainly store it for future use. It's a cracker, and exquisitely racist, doncha think?) Oh - don't come that PC shite here. Sometimes people deserve what they get. You should hear what poofs get called.
Hi again. It's 10.06, so I can't hang about very long. The forecast is bright with some sun. Yesterday I didn't get out until 2, but I'm glad I made the effort - a stirring walk to The Village in the late wintry sun. Nice.
Poor Dean the barman was at his wit's end with Mark the massage monster, who was once again wearing his companion's pink striped top. Mark was fizzing. Mount St Helens.
"Peter!" he shrieked, then waddled right over and performed simulated sex with his derriere against my crotch. (Sensitive readers should turn away at this point.) I found this strangely unarousing, despite my long-term celibacy.
"You're a wee tranny!" I murmured in his ear.
"I'm not a tranny!" he protested loudly, arranging my hands on his bust, or rather lack of it. Proto-bust. Virtual bust.
Later he kindly bought me a pint of Guinness, after telling the entire bar at the top of his voice that I was a real nice guy, but no he couldn't ever have sex with me. He was simulating vomit, if I recall. I countered by saying that I didn't remember inviting him. "Quite right, girl!" Dean laughed. So I took the drink, for his cheek. Time passed.
Yesterday and my late mother's birthday mark the beginning of my personal depression season. This lasts until the 31st December, the anniversary of her death. And - coincidentally, my own birthday. My family was never without a sense of drama! It takes me a couple of weeks to recover from the horrors of December (Christmas, New Year, the darkness), and then we're usually back on track for another year. And exhortations that this year I really must do something with my life. (Of course, I never do.)
If 2004 is to be remembered for anything, it's the year my health first took a significant downturn. Mortality showed itself loud and inevitable in the shape of joint pains. So far just shoulders, wrists and digits, but this is obviously a way to go.
My congratulations to Ma*ndy Gor*gan of Coal*ville who won the bingo comp yesterday, and I hope she doesn't find the victory a poisoned chalice. Apparently it's the first time a woman has won, according to The Guardian. This is strange, for an overwhelmingly female industry.
Right. It's 10.42 and that's far too long at this desk. This weblog is plummeting downhill as fast as I am. Have a nice day, all.
Usually I just waste Sundays in the house, but now the call to the light is imperative, now matter how tired.
Today I could have been in London for the bingo competition, but chose not to. Defeat from the jaws of victory, like much of my life.
Today the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister was on Breakfast with Frost and he was stunning. If you never watch an Iraq interview again in your life, watch that one. It'll be on the BBC webpage later today - usually early afternoon GMT. Expect high traffic.
Today is my late mother's birthday, and I ponder what was, and what might have been, had things been different. But things never are different, are they? She tried, I think, with a difficult challenge. And then retreated into madness.
It's 11.12 and I must go into the light. Tata the noo. Maybe more later.
In local news: Read more about skyliner lifestyle living in osocool and trendy Leith. The Leither
Missed most of the daylight yesterday, chatting to Babs, Mary and Tony in the Port. (For a change.) Babs' mother is in a hospice now, after being quite brutally bundled out of the Western General. But she seems to like it. You can smoke loads, and there's a beautiful garden with white doves. "It's probably to get you used to the idea of Heaven," I murmured to Babs. "But please don't ever put me in a place with doves. The only thing worse than that would be out of work actors playing harps."
Babs likes the hospice too. The doctor there asked her how she was coping, something no-one at the Western had done. There's also counselling for bereaved kids.
Tony came in with daughter Alice (6). The TV was showing kids stuff, so it was a golden opportunity for some anti-advert education. Told her all those laughing kids on the ads were faking it and getting paid. Alice was well set to understand that, as she's already starred in a TV ad herself. (Not yet aired.)
However, there's no reason on earth why any other parent shouldn't sit with their child and talk them through the lies and deceits on the screen. "That toy is cheap rubbish. It doesn't do anything. You'll be sick of it in a day. Those kids are being paid to look happy..." And so on. Anyone can do it, but how many bother?
And don't get me started on last week's Panorama, about the rag trade deliberately targeting 8 to 12 year olds! Obscene. Parental complicity almost throughout. No attempt to educate in anti-brand awareness. (With the exception of one family.)
All of which leads me nicely to tomorrow, which is national BUY NOTHING DAY. Just do it. Hit the bastards where it hurts - make them pay staff for a whole day without doing any business! Me, I'll be buying essential food and nothing else at all. (Fasting isn't really an option when I'm working almost eleven hours.)
But you could fast. And you certainly don't need alcohol or tobacco. Or if you really must, I suppose you could stock up on bad habits today.
Naked Blog - saving the planet for future generations.
Darlings! It's half ten already and I haven't even started. What can I say?
Today the forecast is white cloud in the morning and black in the afternoon. How progressive.
Yesterday was work all day and the Port o Leith crowd came in the evening. Mary, Jill, Pam, Andy and Pepe. They didn't win. But they came close a couple of times. That's bingo! It was fun for them to see me, Alex and the others in our working environment. We really are a very close team these days.
Remember I mentioned them all going to the Port after work on Saturday? Well, it turns out Pandora Boxx the international clairvoyant had gone along also. She told Alex he would soon fall in love with a nice young woman, and he told her to fuck off and that he didn't believe in it. I can just imagine him saying that!
Got some Cod Liver Oil with Calcium tablets from Boots yesterday. For healthy and supple joints. Can't be bad. There's even a picture of a knee and an elbow on the container, for people who don't know what a joint is. (Or think of it only in its modern, more intoxicating sense.) Bernice was getting her cod liver oil too, but mine was more expensive with the added calcium. Clarinda said she only takes vitamin C, and never gets a cold.
I took an aspirin tablet before work, but that wasn't too good an idea. Made two or three mistakes over the microphone. Stoned on aspirin! Changed days.
Must go now. Tuesday I didn't get out til after dark.
Do you think they'll impeach Tony Blair? Funny word, impeach, if you think about it. "Use Timotei Shampoo! Now with Added Impeach for extra condition!"
Or the kiddies' book... "Tony and the Giant Impeach". I bet that Gordon Brown's behind it! He's even shaped like an impeach.
(10.42am: Showing that great blogging needn't take long. Tara chuck!)
Fiona Macaulay (FM) was on sparkling form in the Port last night, flanked by Stevie Sticks and Wee Robert.
Robert and Stevie are looking forward excitedly to their debuts next week as radio djs. It's on Leith FM, your new community radio for the month of December. The only thing to remember are the numbers 8, 7 and 7. That's right! 87.7 on your dial. You'd be mad to miss it. No internet feed, I'm afraid, as that costs an extra fortune in music licences.
"You'll need to do some planning!" Fiona was haranguing Wee Robert. (They're on from midnight to as long as they want.) "Nah," I chipped in, sagely. "Just turn up with a joint and a bag of records." Then Stewart the engineering manager turned up and said that wasn't the correct attitude.
Stewart was looking very dapper for a guy of my exact vintage. Ironed shirt, hoody on top of grey woollen waistcoat, nifty striped braces, and I could swear his hair colour had seen the inside of a bottle over recent weeks. (Not that I was paying attention.) Maybe he's in love. It's astonishing the contrast between him and me. In fact, most of the older gents around the place are keeping it together far better than yours truly, who's frankly becoming a bit of a mess. Plummeting downhill and I love it. We all reach the bottom eventually, so why dilly dally on the way, eh?
Leith FM are in the Big Issue in Scotland (out now), and are also being mentioned in the Scottish Parliament shortly. (They must have bought an advert.) Anyone's guess which of those is more prestigious.
The lovely Danielle has apparently left the building, and is now selling million pound flats for Gregor Shore. You know - those lifestyle prefabs almost in the sea at Granton. "I'd thought working on a radio station was glamorous, but selling luxury flats is even more glamorous than that!" Danielle is reported to have said. It'll be a different place without her.
Leith FM 87.7 Starts 00.01 Wednesday 1st Dec. (This has been a public service announcement.)
An edited version of this story appears in later editions of The Leither.
Discovered a miracle cure for joint pains yesterday. Well, two in fact.
"Aspirin!" the thought suddenly came to me. "Aspirin is anti-inflammatory. Take that." So I did. One tablet. And within an hour... relief!
Then I went home and plugged in the new Playstation Eyetoy and learned to my absolute amazement that the Eyetoy routines incorporate exactly what the elderly should be doing anyway! Shaking the hands and wrists, waving arms and hands, and so on. There's even a temagotchi or whatever you call the damn things.
You wave. You flap. You point. You basically do an upper limb workout! It's amazing.
So - this seems to be the shape of the future...
Cradle to the Grave
Get your child the Playstation with Eyetoy. The the accompanying game set is called Sega Superstars, and is ranked 3+ (Although I would tend to ignore the '+' part, and stick to the three.)
Play that and similar until mature enough to master the Dualshock 2 analogue controller, at possibly age 5.
Play San Andreas on the Dualshock controller until your hands become gnarled and twisted hooks, (anywhere between ages 15 and 30).
Then it's back to the Eyetoy again! Cradle to the grave! Take an aspirin!
You've got to hand it (woops!) to those damn clever folks at Sony. I'm convinced the wheelchair version will be available soon.
Footnote: The Eyetoy and Sega Superstars are absolute shite. Don't go there, unless for an arthritis workout. Keep fucking up your thumbs and fingers on the Dualshock.
I don't know about you, but this time of the year I find myself drifting even more than usual. Inasmuch as if a bus turns up, and I've got two quid in my pocket, I'll often get on it, even though I don't know where it's going. Because the fact it turned up must be a sign, musn't it, and as I wasn't doing anything else until January, then why not?
Exciting life? I'll give you excitement.
So in this somewhat unstructured way I quickly found myself floating about Princes Street, Rose Street and the Grassmarket. 'Twas good. God was behind his till, and the devil take the homeless. (That's where I bought the Eyetoy.) Plus a video head cleaner. They're putting the German Market back into Princes Street, but I couldn't see very much German about it. Made me want to shout, "Ja wohl!" Or the timeless classic, "Das glaub Ich und das weiss Ich!"
Did you read that Dixons are no longer stocking VHS machines! The shock. But it had to come. Now video will move into the hobbyist niche, like vinyl, and the machines will cost an effing fortune from Hi Fi Corner.
It's so annoying. First that DVD machines just don't do off-air recording, and second that people will be forced to replace their entire video collections with DVD. Until the next fad comes along. Repeat ad mortem, after which you no longer give a shit. (Either shagging angels or dodging the flames. You choose.)
Had a pint in that lovely non-smoking bar in the Grassmarket. White Hart. It was empty, rather scarily. So I told the woman she had to hold firm to her non-smoking commitment, even if it meant going out of business. Some things are more important than profit. I told her I would make a website and put her pub on it. That cheered her up bigtime.
Switched on me moby after a week, and in no time at all was chatting to Babs and Sandra. I'd forgotten how long it'd been since company. So much angst about work and the damn competition. Surely I'll get respite from that soon.
Sandra and I met up in Jayne's Bar in Leith Walk, which was very pleasant, and even included a hefty eyetoy, which S was quick to pick up on. (My interest, not hers.) Hehe. Black trousers. (Pants) And we all know what that means.
To the Port, but it was bridgeless. Mary to a Leith Festival meeting, and Tony to Leith FM. All the originals except me are doing radio shows, but I know I couldn't have got it together - even for depressed listeners.
"Ah well," as I said to Tony and Mary. "At least I was the second person ever on it - and they can't take that away." "Do some guesting," Tony said. "Go on Gwen's show, and Lindsay's. Even Danielle and Donnacher." (D and D are really very good. Sexual chemistry. The Richard and Judy of the community airwaves.)
The application for a community radio licence is in. I foresee no problems. We've got us a station! (Fingers crossed!) Tony is da man.
Here is the forecast.
Right - it's 10.30 am, and once again outside beckons. Anywhere really, so long as there's sky above. Preferably sunny and blue, but I sense today it's light cloud or nothing. Honestly, it totally knackers you, this constant thrust, this pressure to be outside. Whatever happened to cosy firesides, with crackling logs, Christmas cake and ginger wine? Christmas isn't what it used to be, if you ask me! Maybe I'll move to the Bible Belt.
Many thanks to Sal for nominating our little effort for an award. Appreciated. It seems there's just no escaping competitions!
Scene: Port o Leith Bar, after our fabulous re-launch party on Saturday night. Post below.
"Everybody's here!" Little Alex had said to Tony my IT manager. (The staff had seemingly decamped there after work to unwind.) Me, I'd overheard them mentioning that plan, but clearly 'twasn't really meant for my ears. So I went home as usual and watched South Park. The climax of my near sixty years on this rock is South Park on a Saturday night. Talk about dolce vita!
"No they're not - Peter isn't here!" Tony retorted. "Oh - he'll be at home in bed," Alex replied, dismissively.
Bernice, another young colleague, was busy dancing on the bar top.
"The women don't like that," Sandra confided to me just this afternoon. "Don't like her dancing on the bar top like that. Somebody should tell her."
In these various ways do the young quite crucify their seniors.
Good morning, campers! I'm not saying much today for a couple of reasons.
There's two stories you probably haven't read
It's 10.30 am and if I stop now I might get out before noon. (Indoors all yesterday.)
The hand pain is now affecting Left 3 as I type, so I probably shouldn't. (Do that.) I've given up Playstation completely, for ever. No big deal, except I'm stuck with a few hundred quidsworth of gear (including of course San Andreas) (and the book), and I don't know any suitable victims for it.
Got to go. Middle finger moderately painful. Got to give up Freecell also. Although it's the ultimate anti-depressant. Have a nice Monday! And think of me roaming free in the byways of my mind.
Phone your mother, if you've got one. If not, be nice on purpose to an old lady. Any old lady will do. Or do both. It's in your power to create happiness.
Pornyboy Curtis has a comeback and writes about mike writing about Reiki here.
Some of my best friends are Reiki masters and a few years ago I wrote about Reiki here.
They even got famous in the Village for having Reiki nights. In a pub, I ask you. My own Reiki post is from October 2001, the second of two highly unusual months. Some vivid memories on that archive page... Fag-bomb, Terror, Julie Burchill...
Well - all that worrying about work this weekend, and it was fine. Glorious, in fact. Don't some people just thrive on drama? There's a term for that, but it escapes me...
Friday night we had Pandora Boxx*, the leading international clairvoyant. Apparently she once sent the Spanish cops to a cave where a missing person's body was found. What can you say? High on accuracy, somewhat lacking in urgency.
Pandora began with a lecture about how her visions knew no bounds, and that people weren't to sue her for what she said. Agreed? They tacitly agreed.
There were about 100 in the audience. Stayed back after the bingo. And as such shows go it seemed impressive stuff. They had to raise their hand for her attention, but Pandora herself didn't choose the subjects. Staff members had to select for her, and - crucially - they musn't pick anyone well known to them. Thus - at a masterstroke - ensuring the people she read were relative "unknowns".
Taking a piece of jewellery from each one in turn, she began her spiel. One woman had a "baby in the spirit world". Another was about to face a relationship crisis and probable separation. (But maybe not her. Maybe someone depending on her. "That's right, isn't it?" Woman nods, sadly. "Do you want me to go on, love?")
A woman was told she'd soon be getting a dental abcess. Another was facing a gynaecological condition, but it wouldn't be serious. Repeat (with variations) for forty or so minutes.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - my view is there's no such thing as a "psychic gift". Or spirit world. Or communication with the dead.
Stuff and nonsense!
What these people are good at (brilliant, often) is reading facial and body cues from their subjects. By asking strings of questions, and observing the response, practice gets them homed in on the correct area in no time.
I would say it was all good harmless fun, but it isn't. Not once it gets on to health matters. So should it be regulated? Banned? Of course not. Nanny state. You pays yer money...
Fortunately (for Pandora), many there didn't share my reservations, and she spent the entire next day doing tarot readings at twenty bucks a go. That's what the show was really for - harvesting punters. We put her in a little cupboard. She came out for a fag between each client. (I guess when you're that gifted you know in advance what you're gonna die of.)
Nice work, if you can get it. My pal Stuart does tarot too. Calls himself Mystic Smeg.
*Name changed for reasons of Google. Pandora doesn't yet feature on da interweb, which means NB would go straight to number one. (But I predict a busy future for her.)
However, the main worry was not any clairvoyant, but the next day's likely events. Saturday night at the Bingo. It was the re-launch of the business, after a quite enormous sum spent on refurbishment.
The players got bubbly. They got flags. And bingo pencil cases. A sing-a-long cabaret. And me.
(It was that last bit which was the worry, but it were ace.) Six hundred people waving their arms and singing along to Daydream Believer, and then, suddenly - poof - it's me!
But I was ready - even done forethought. "Peter," I'd said to myself. "Tonight laid back is not really an option. Don't be Bryan Ferry, don't be Bob Dylan - but instead be much more pro-active. Think Alice Cooper or Meat Loaf." (Why is Jon Ronson so much better at this style than anyone else? *Jealous*)
Oh - I won't bore you with the details. My show didn't have "gags" like Have I Got News For You. Of course you had to be there - and most of you weren't. But - perhaps surprisingly, it went so smoothly there was actually a transcendent patch. A peak experience.
The General Manager (whom we don't often mention) was standing beside me as I did the gig. About a metre away. (He doesn't usually stand there, in case it intimidates me.) But last night was different. I sensed we were both singing from the same hymn sheet, as we watched this sea of bingo players having the time of their lives. With me as the visible face, and him as the guiding force.
It was close. And warm. Something unusual had to happen - something personal to mark the occasion. So in a tiny gap, a wee lacuna, I leant over and said, "You should be pleased with this and very proud."
It was good to have said that, in all sorts of ways.
In Other News...
Little Alex turned up yesterday wearing a new earring in his left lobe. "I got it off Robin," he said. (Don't call me bisexual, I'm a screaming queen now.) Sagely I advised him of the inadvisability of wearing other people's piercings. He paled. Later I noticed the earring had vanished, leaving only a small red hole.
Then at teatime he thrust his bum almost in my face. "Put it away, you little tart!" I said to him. "I've got an earring in my house got your name on it."
In these small ways.
And now I'm off till Wednesday! Where to begin? Maybe switch my mobile on after a week's radio (and social) silence.
Out and about
If you're not yet reading Musings From Middle England then you're missing a real treat. Now with added Carlo the houseboy! (Or maybe he was there all the time and I just didn't notice.)
Hi! I shouldn't be sitting here, writing to you like this. It's a glorious sunny day, unlike yesterday, my day off, and I've got work, work, work and more work.
This weekend is what we call in the trade a re-launch. Big bang after our recent refurbishment - get that buzz going around the place. It's offers, offers all the way. Promotions. Prizes. Incentives. And me.
Got to get the hair cut, bigtime. Smartened up. Janet's Traditional Barbers.
Tonight we've got a leading international clairvoyant doing her gig, and tomorrow is the official re-launch party, with cabaret, enormous cash prizes, and so on. Think Norton, think O'Grady, but then face the awful reality. It's only me. Every expense spared.
I'm frankly terrified. Why do I do this to myself all the time? Surely I could get a job cleaning offices or summat? Tons of offices round here. Then there'd be all day long to walk into the light. Hmmm.
A new, occasional feature where I tell you what's currently wrong with me. "Once you get over sixty there's something different wrong with you every day you wake up," said one of my bingo ladies, sagely, recently. (I think she put it more grammatically than that, but I can't be bothered re-writing. It's the middle of November, hadn't you noticed?) Well, I'm not yet 58, so auld age must have struck a little early.
Hands are the big interest at the moment. What delicate structures they are, so full of bits to wear out and go wrong! Regular readers, and there are five, will have read a lot about hand pain over the last couple of weeks. Unable to pull that final (shroud-like) downie up and over at the closing of the day. Unable even to switch off the bedside light without shouting in pain. (You think I'm making it up, but I would never do that.)
So - what would hands be like back at work yesterday? Back into full-on activity mode - none of this sitting around relaxing and watching South Park DVDs.
Btw, I can thoroughly recommend DVD watching if your depression is of a seasonal nature. For seasonal depression all you have to do is pass time until the season changes. For the other sort I gather you actually have to do something about your miserable situation, but I've never really had the other sort. End of depression lecture. I am not a doctor.
Well I can tell you what it was like. I'd never really noticed before just how much I use my hands at work. Entering numbers into a keypad all the time. Even pressing the big green mother that generates the numbers. (Ball-substitute.) Press. Press. Press. But it fights back against you. Resistance. Repetitive.
Don't know what sort of work I can get which doesn't involve hands. But the astonishing thing is, they didn't seem to mind that much yesterday. Hurt considerably less than usual, in fact... although they were still tingling this morning. I'm definitely on the way out.
Larynx not too bad yet, you'll be pleased to hear.
BAN OF THE DAY
...seems to be fox-hunting, which is of course repellent. But me, I can admit what others can't, which is a degree of jealousy of these people - most of whom are rich and never have to work.
I even found myself feeling a bit sorry for that white-haired wifey about my own age who said that without hunting she might as well "give up the ghost".
Sorry to hear it, honey - but maybe you shouldn't have dedicated your life to the sadistic torture of wild animals. Try working in a charity shop. (But where's the adrenalin in that, eh? Where's the red meat?)
No, it has to go, and not before time.
I would estimate this government has dedicated approximately one thousand times more hours to fox-hunting than it did to debating Iraq. Priorities.
FUNERAL OF THE DAY
...is yet another Black Watch soldier. Stuart Gray, in Cowdenbeath. I sense Mr Blair has fallen right on his sword over Iraq, and possibly deserves to go. Yet who to replace? Surely not the Prince of the Dark Side? Surely not the smoking alkie? Could it be Boris? Has the world changed so much that only a comedy TV personality is electable?
FRIGHT OF THE DAY
...is your internet bank account. Don't have one. Especially don't answer emails which ask for password information. They're called "phishing" emails, and there's been a big increase in them. Plus people can put spyware on your computer and suss out all your details. Scary stuff.
STATISTIC OF THE DAY
Grateful to someone using Hawaii-Pacific Teleport, USA who at 9.15 this morning overtook our last year's viewing figure of 204,583. (No - I wasn't sitting there waiting, dummy. It's called back extrapolation.)
And still six more blogging weeks to the end of the year! I'm confidently expecting to exceed the quarter million for 2004.
One quarter million thanks to all who sail in these waters. Often imitated, frequently surpassed.
England must have right funny pubs. Dr Reid's proposals to ban smoking in pubs and bars which prepare and serve food will make 80 percent of them smoke-free. Allegedly. (As the day progressed, this 80 escalated to 90.)
Yet according to this Guardian Story, only pubs employing an on-site cook doing real cooking of fresh ingredients will be hit. Just serve salads and you're not banned. Reheated microwave portions? Smoke yer damn head off!
"But a Department of Health spokesman admitted that premises serving only salads or food heated in a microwave would not be covered by the ban." The Guardian
So Dr Reid is inviting you to think that 80 (possibly 90) percent of English pubs currently employ someone cooking fresh food. I'm inviting you to think Dr Reid's brain has been microwaved on FULL for six minutes.
Oh - and as confidently predicted here yesterday, every publican interviewed during the day declared that they would get rid of food before fags.
But it was a good day, in news terms. Plenty of local material. Nottingham, Manchester, London. So imagine my disgust when on switching on the BBC ten o'clock bulletin, what should I find but the smoking ban relegated to minute 16. Instead they had the standard videogame footage of American marines in this place and that place. Not even our boys. It was their boys.
A brain cell fired. How about that new BBC thingie called Newswatch? Let's give them a whirl. Well don't. It's only there to harvest material for their show. A bit like the Channel 4 Forum did for Right to Reply.
Here's the email I sent them...
"Why is it that on the day the Health Secretary eventually makes his much-leaked statement, this should be relegated to the second half of your 10 o clock bulletin? Do you have ANY idea how sick the British people are of footage of American marines? It's a news programme we want - British news - not a damn computer game lookalike. Remember, you're the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation. (Or used to be.)
Also, the "embedded" reporting is American propaganda, pure and simple. We don't want it. We've had enough of it. Tell us a little about the so-called "insurgents" maybe.
Me, I run a little weblog."
(Drink undoubtedly played a part in this letter's composition.) The BBC haven't replied. Can't put it much clearer than that, guv.
RUN AND RUN
Oh dear. Yesterday in the pub I had to take a situation in hand. My drinking partner, quite recently met, maybe a few weeks ago, nice chap, was telling a story. But what a long story! Do you ever get the sensation that time has come to a complete halt? I could swear the clock got sick of going forwards and slipped into reverse. Me, I stood there for one, two, three, four or more minutes, and then eventually exploded. It was either that or a cerebral haemorrhage.
"Andy!" I exclaimed. "You'll have to learn to get through your stories a bit faster, pal. Well, a lot faster. Anything more than 60 seconds in a pub is just not on. Ninety seconds, max!"
I was so full of apology. Fulsome. He looked so hurt. "Maybe that's why I sit in pubs on my own a lot," he said. I tried to soften the blow. Mentioned cut and thrust. Give and take. This way and that way - but I sensed my mollification was doomed. He left me a dismayed and downcast man.
Oh dear. But it wasn't the first time, or the first evening, by far. My very sanity was on the line. What would you have done?
Yes, it's back to reality today. Time to face up to my bingo ladies and tell them how much I've let them down. That I am a useless and worthless person, hardly fit to wipe their bottoms on. I saw the whole of the moon. Last night I did laundry. Today it's shower and shave. Familiarity.
So, how was the holiday? Arguably the worst I've ever had. Not only were there all the work-related traumas, but my larynx hasn't nearly recovered either, and there's a whole new range of joint problems sprung up as a side dish.
You know, I lust for the day I can just lie down and kiss the world goodbye. (Or rather, give it the finger, the way it did to me.)
Auld age disnae come itsel'.
Let's not forget the man who puts the BJ back into blowjobs! Yes, Borisblog is back, and you can go there and tell Boris exactly what you think of him. Lothario or love rat? Comments are up! (Bet he'd make a great bingo caller, btw!)
Hacking and coughing so much today that can mean only one thing. Yes - fun and games in the Port last night as a bunch of old-timers (45+) played bridge. It was me and White Tony against Mary and Black Tony. (Or Tony the Hat, to give him his new, PC appellation.) Smokers against exes. "Enjoy it while you can," said white Tony to Mary as she lit up.
Nevertheless, after a three-hour battle, the smokers won. Something about nicotine being good for the more mature concentration.
A decade ago I played bridge to club level, but now it's mostly gone. It's nice though as the evening progresses to find little bits of gameplay returning. Usually I do the, "Feel the Force" thing and let first instinct play the card, even without consciously knowing why. Buried memories tell you what to do, even if they can't formulate the lecture as to why.
But still the smokers won. Could have played longer, but I had to get home to see to the mice. They were practically doing the can-can on the kitchen worktop.
My hearty condolences to readers in England and Wales, who will learn today that Dr Reid the Health Secretary is not going to bansmoking.(Well, just a wee bit.)
Only those pubs which serve food are going to be hit. Certain outcome? The pubs will get rid of the food service, and keep the smokers. It'd be commercial suicide otherwise. And for the (vast) non-smoking majority? Let them breathe smoke.
Dr Reid has proved himself an idiot. Send him back to Scotland. No, on second thoughts don't. We've got enough eejits here already.
I'm really, really sorry for you all down there. Come and live in Scotland - while the borders are still open! Smoke free pubs. (Soon.) Great scenery! (Always.) Friendly folk, who don't stab you in the back unless they're robbing you! Fantastic weather! (For healthier, paler skin.)
How much of all this is to placate the tobacco industry, I wonder? Hmmm. Plus a healthier nation would mean far fewer fatcat jobs in the NHS. Doctors have to eat, you know... even oncologists. Tobacco has been a great little earner for them since the 1940s.
I've heard it's rubbish, btw. (The new Feed the World, not SAAP.) The original was great... seeing my hero Boy George up there on the BBC News night after night, doing his bit for queens. Marylin too, but (s)he went off the rails a bit later. Time Boy George was knighted for services to British Queendom, I've decided. "Arise Sir Boy George!" I can just see it. David Cassidy was on the sofa with Dermot and Natasha this morning. Nice to think that with the world falling apart under coalition forces that some things never change. (You might also maybe wonder why coalition forces have no interest in Sudan. Regime change? What regime?)
DON'T YOU STEP ON MY BLUE SUEDE SHOES
It's happened at last! I've lost my monopoly as the country's leading fifty-plus blogger. Go and bask at Willie Lupin of Going Uphill. (Via my comment box.) Great stuff. Welcome to British blogorrhea, Willie. You have nothing to lose but your time, your privacy and your sanity.
"Rock and roll royalty here tonight," said the presenter, who was really quite good. "Maybe if you don't get any higher than Camilla Parker-Bowles," I thought, casting my eye about for a sight of a Beatle or a Rolling Stone. (Genuine Stone, that is, not Ronnie-come-lately.)
They made the Beatles the first inductees to this new Hall of Fame creation, and quite right too. "The best ever band in the history of bands," said the presenter (or words to that effect.) And who could argue?
The Stones got in too, supposedly on the popular vote, but I don't believe it for a second. In votes like that it's always the latest teen sensation wins. The young, you see. Loads of enthusiasm, but nae idea. And who can blame them?
Only last week one of my young managers (25) was claiming that a recently-deceased radio presenter was more important than John Lennon. Not as important, nor nearly as important, but more important.
"What did John Lennon ever do?" he asked. (Seriously - this is an otherwise reasonably intelligent young man.) "He wrote a few songs with that twat Paul McCartney - "
"You had to have been alive then!" I snapped at him, and brooking no come-back. That's what happens when people attempt to discuss things which happened twenty years before they were born. And that's why internet polls are always useless.
There followed an hilarious celluloid effort starring Wahlberg and Aniston called Rock Star. It wasn't meant to be hilarious (I think), but my o my - what a turkey!
If you cast your eye down my yellow sidebar, you'll note it marks 500 days since tobacco last touched my lips. I wish I could say "last entered my lungs", but smoking bans were last week's topic.
And how do I feel after 500 days sans cigs? Well I can tell you. I feel fucking awful. My throat still tingles from overuse and other people's fagsmoke, and I can't sleep at night for pains in my hands. Maybe cigs have a secret joint effect I've only now discovered.
Honestly, I accidentally glanced in the mirror this morning and couldn't believe how old and ill I looked. Ah well. Things can only get worse. At least I've saved over three thousand pounds. And when I smoked I looked old and ill all the time.
LONDON OLYMPICS? JUST SAY NO
Talking of millennia, I'm sure you remember the fiasco called the Millennium Dome. Well, now they're going to do it all over again with a bid for the Olympic Games to be held in London in 2012.
(The very bidding process is going to cost more than half a dozen new hospitals, before they even get to staging the games themselves.) I ask you! A grotesquely expensive, 600 page luxury presentation, when it could all have been put on one DVD ROM. (For approximately eight pence.)
Face facts. We are a backward, semi-third world country, in thrall to the United States. Our young people know nothing more profound than the cost of a quarter of hashish, and the television system deliberately keeps them like that. The elderly simply can't get treatment for their arthritis. And they expect me to support this giddy junket? Three words, but one of them's too rude for a family publication.
London Olympics? Just say no. Someone make a webpage button, please. (I don't know how to do it. Plus the arthritis slows me down these days.)
AND BY YON BONNIE BRAES
(New section! Wild and wacky news from Bonnie Scotland!)
Whilst English and Welsh "News of the World" readers were basking in Bonking Boris headlines yesterday, things were very different by these bonnie banks.
News of the World (Scotland) had a totally separate headline:
it screamed off the newsstands. The co-rompee in this sad tale was a young woman. (Thankfully.)
"She's got a history of depression and fantasy!" Mr Sheridan (ex-con and MSP)excitedly exclaimed on a lunchtime political chatshow. "I never met her. I never had an affair with her. I never had an affair with anybody. But before 1992 when I married I was a single young man. I was a sexually active single young man. Gail (my wife) doesn't like me saying that."
Can't put it plainer than that, Tommy. (Co-incidentally Mr Sheridan MSP resigned from his position as leader of the Scottish Socialist Party just over a week ago.) He is going to take on the News of the World in court and win. He said.
Scottish Parliamentarian of the Year, 2004
As if Bingo Caller of the Year wasn't ridiculous enough, even MSPs are now getting in on the act. Scottish Parliamentarian of the Year is Margaret Curran MSP. The entire Scottish Parliament is a Scottish version of Eton and Harrow, btw. All to do with "who you know". We've even got a name for it here... cronyism.
Today is Remembrance Sunday. We remember all the men (and some women) who've perished so that politicians might win a few more elections. So that arms manufacturers might continue to profit. And - these days - that oil might continue to flow Westward.
For who is the enemy?
Once (when I was a lad) he was called Adolf. Then Nikita. Then Charlie. Then Osama bin. Then Saddam. (I'm sure I've missed several out.)
Who next, pray tell?
How does Tony sound? Or George?
C'est la vie say the old folk, it goes to show you never can tell.
Isn't this spectacular? By the most bizarre of coincidences I was reading poor Boris Johnson's blog for the first time yesterday. (I hope he understands the blogger's code that every last detail must be shared with the world.)
And how easy it is for a woman to make a quick buck these days.
Shag somebody famous. (Anyone will do, but a certain Mr Beckham is at a premium.)
Sell your story to the News of the World.
Sit back and enjoy the profits.
Easy, as I say. And you don't even have to get out of bed.
Update: If you troll over to BJ's blog, in the top comment box you can see all the messages of support for his shag-sacking. "How did you find the time?" I quite liked. Yet another suggested Howard was wary of a leadership challenge from him.
Shock Update: We're currently number 4 on daypop for Boris Johnson, ahead of such rags as Salon and the Daily Telegraph. Quite right too. Gie'sa job, BJ! (I could sell out to print any time! Just watch me... )
The Odd Couple
I'm sure President Bush thought he was doing Tony a favour by having him first to tea after his re-election, but it's clear neither of them understands the sway of public opinion. The British people want less, not more involvement with the United States at the moment. Not necessarily for ever (the Clinton days were good), but certainly right now.
And today, on Remembrance Sunday, they especially don't want any more young men to perish in the hell-holes of Iraq. That is Tony's albatross, and it might well bring him down. As ye sow...
It's a shame, as Mr Blair's was probably the best period of government we've ever had. Or am I being isolationist?
But can anyone tell me, in the name of all that is sacred, why there should be ANY TV advertising to children? At all?
Surely it's height of immorality. At least you and I are mature enough to realise that ninety nine percent of advertising is lies, pure and simple. "Hair products are good for your hair." How can young children be expected to have that level of media awareness?
Next time, instead of just plonking your kid in front of the screen on a Saturday morning, take a long careful look at the evil they're being peddled. And the mind-numbing banality of the "programmes" which come between the ads. Keeping it so absolutely stupid and intellectually arid that not one young viewer will switch off. And all for the great god Profit, and continued donations to the Labour Party.
Apologies for the story just below. It's bland self-pity to the nth degree. Not even stylish self-pity. Boris would have done it far better. (And may yet do so...) Wonder if we'll see him in the Port o Leith with the other unemployed people...
Hardly slept a wink last night because of inner turmoil and pain in my right hand. Yesterday it was Sandra's man Johnny giving me a penny lecture about not completing the bingo competition. I seem to have well and truly cast the die. People just will not shut up about it. Not going has turned into a far bigger story than going.
Turned down an interview with the Edinburgh Evening News. Turned down a presenter's slot on Leith FM. (Drive time.)
"What are you doing for Christmas?" Sandra asked me the other day. "Trying to remain alive," I answered, truthfully. She was a little startled. However, all will be poured out here in good time.
Today let's not forget that people died so I might write the drivel below. (Or did they really?)
It was years ago when a doughty woman at my work opined, "Saturday nights at the bingo are just for the sad people who've got nowhere better to go." Then, I hadn't thought of it quite like that.
But now I have.
For today it truly is Saturday night - the prime few hours of the social week, and me - well, I'm "on holiday".
So what am I making of this unaccustomed break - this third free Saturday night of 2004? Well, I can tell you. I'm sitting at home - alone again, naturally - typing to you, you whom I've never met nor ever will.
And you wonder why I don't commit suicide. So do I. But don't worry, my chickadee. We've been here before, got through it and will do again.
But I really do wish - long for - that someone, somewhere, would tell me why I have to suffer like this. For ever. What have I done wrong? What awful evil is within me that after almost 58 years on this planet I should have so little human contact? And why is everyone else so very much happier?
Answers on a postcard please.
But no - please don't answer on a postcard. I probably couldn't stand it. Those of you who read this are the good guys. The baddies I see in the flesh.
Never get old. Never be gay. Find something exotic to die of when you're 23.
Indebted to Big Al of Alabamah for permission to use this fabulous picture. It's the world-famous Port o Leith Bar, in all its smoky glory. At the bar are (from L to R) Kevin, Nicky and Big Al himself. The elaborate pot thing is a hookah. (Sic). Normally the hookers are at the other end, trying to drum up business from out of town truckers.
The camera is placed just about where I'd normally be sitting. Can you see now why I support the ban?
Fun and games in the Port yesterday as a bunch of youngsters (21+) decided to go in for a spot of cross-dressing.
However, it was cross-dressing with a difference, in that only one of the group was female. Mark started it off, by top-swapping with Bernice. So now she had the dull, drab white shirt, while he was absolutely glowing in her pink halter-neck. It looked sad somehow, stretched over his flat hairy chest, without the filling qualities of her black-bra'ed boobs.
(You could tell it was really the boobs he wanted - the pink top was a distinct second best. An also-ran.)
Then Ecstasy Gerry joined in, and then a guy with a heart on his shoulderblade, and then yet another young man, and before you could tell, the clothes were going round faster than a waltzer on a Saturday night. Even a brown dog got in on the act, and started shagging Gerry's leg. "Down, boy!" he kept shouting, which excited the dog even further. Me I was a bit scared of a canine result, but it didn't happen. On this occasion.
"I think Mark's inherited Granny's mantle as the straight man's ride," I observed to Babs, who was on large brandy and cokes. Big Dave fae Baltic Street overheard and grinned. "You weren't supposed to hear that!" I chided him. "We're sitting here just like those three in Coronation Street - Ena, Martha and Minnie in the Snug."
"I want to be Ena," demanded Babs. "You always have to be the boss," I said.
Time passed. The one with the heart on his shoulderblade passed out and Mark gave him a fireman's lift out of the place. Tres butch. "That'll be his shag for tonight," I said to Babs, waspishly. "When he comes round," she agreed.
Hardly slept a wink last night. Inner turmoil. Plus thinking of mice.
My sincere apologies to my good and dear friend Babs for the embarrassment arising from a sentence on Naked Blog yesterday. (Now deleted, so dinnae bother looking...)
Although aspects of this daily weblog must read to you like a soap script, it is in fact totally real. All the "characters" actually exist. The words they say here are the words they actually said. The jobs they do and the people they love on these pages are their jobs and lovers in real life.
It would take all day to list and describe the mental checking and evaluation that goes into writing here about these people. What they will enjoy, what they will at least tolerate, and what they will actively dislike.
Ninety-nine percent of the time (or more) we get it right. Sometimes, like yesterday, it goes wrong. Even if I don't fully understand the person's unhappiness with a passage, that doesn't matter. Their right to removal is absolute and immediate.
To Babs, my apologies again. Without you and all the others there would be no Naked Blog. Without you and all the others my life would be measurably less. I hope you will still be my friend.
In Dublin's Fair City
Alan Oddverse, himself almost a Leith boy, now lives and loves by the banks of the Liffey. Today he writes a horse's mouth piece about smoking bans. Interesting.
Huge improvement in upper limbs yesterday, which I put down to avoidance of Playstation. I really, really should kick that habit on the head. Plus I'm markedly useless at it. Only yesterday Babs' son was asking if I'm on the second island (San Andreas) yet. "No, I've only done 5.3 percent", I wailed at him over my Guinness. "I've done more than twenty percent," he declared, aged 11. Big cheesy grin. Wonder what sort of games they'll have when he's 57...
I should give it all away to good homes, before it wrecks my skeleton any further. Heaven only knows what today's kids will be like by the time they're thirty. Hunchbacks with hooked hands, probably. And it'll be too late then. (Children of the Sony family will have been prevented from playing these games. They'll have real skyscrapers and entire toyshops to own.)
Don't know about you, but I really hate this time of the year. The darkness. The sense of another year ending, and yet all I've achieved is getting old. Sterile. Loveless and unloved. The bleakness and emptiness of coming home to nothing but a computer and a telly for company. Oh, and now and again mice.
Sometimes I sit here and type out my rage against the world. Sometimes I don't. But yet the rage isn't really at you, or at any external being or thing - it's completely against myself. Mourning what is, yet at the same time speculating what might have been. And always knowing what now can never be.
Can you see where this is going?
It's here. An advance apology if you will for what you'll come across on NB in the next few weeks. It's rarely easy reading. The artifice and style tend to go, leaving only the substance. At its best, which isn't always, this can be exciting - for both of us. At worst it's little more than maudlin crying into an empty glass.
You have been warned.
And now it's a lovely sunny day, and someone is trying to phone me. It'll be a character from Naked Blog!
The bingo calling backlash is here already. From dumb people.
"When are you going to the final?" they ask.
"I'm not - " I reply. Followed by, "You got a problem with that?" Then they bleat on about it, so I tell them to fuck off. My business. Nobody else's business.
There's been an unpleasant amount of this stuff lately - both home and away. From people who forget that not only is this weblog free to read, but that I actually have to spend money to host the comment system.
And I'm a bit sick of people using that very comment box to be personally abusive.
"Nasty. Spiteful. Coward." All those have cropped up in the last few days. Home and away. So let me reply with, "Get tae fuck, you twats!" Deleted from now on, and if that doesn't stop it, banned.
However, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), having done nothingsince 1999, have so little concern (actually zero) for public health that they've announced a legal challenge to this ruling.
Chief executive Paul Waterson said: "We will continue the fight. We are consulting with legal advisers. We will pursue every avenue to ensure that the interests of the licensed trade are upheld." (My emphasis.) BBCi
So far so yawny. But here's the new bit. The one voice which hasn't been heard from this is the non-smokers.
If the SLTA cares so little for our rights, our well-being, then it's time we hit them back. In the only place they care about - their tills.
So here and now let me make a suggestion which will literally change the face of Scottish drinking - far sooner than the wishy washy 2006 proposed yesterday.
BOYCOTT SMOKY PUBS FOR A WEEK!
If non-smokers simply stayed away from pubs for one whole week that would dent their nicotine-stained tills quite a bit more than they expect. We're here, we don't smoke, and we're not going into your filthy dens for a week.
Non-smoking pubs would of course be exempt from this. There would be a directory of non-smoking pubs for people to choose from. They would almost certainly get loads of business that week, and probably afterwards too.
Now, realistically, the first time this happens there would be limited uptake, as many wouldn't have heard of the plan. But it would get publicity. So then the second one we hold would hit them really damn hard. (Apart from the ones which had gone non-smoking, of course, which are exempt and doing really quite well out of this. It's smoke we dislike, not pubs or publicans.)
Non-smokers unite! Their day is over. Why should we suffer for another eighteen months? Whadya think?
From my comment box a fascinating blog all about death and dying. Just the thing for the dark winter days. It's by a non-religious funeral celebrant called Zinnia Cyclamen, which is possibly a pseudonym, and called Real E Fun. (It's got everything I like best... soap, direct speech, cast of characters, and of course death.)
Aches and Pains
"Auld age disnae come itsel'" as my bingo ladies are fond of saying. But recently I've been suffering an inordinate amount of joint and/or muscle pain in my shoulders, upper arms, wrists and hands. It's OK in the mornings, but starts up towards evening and by bedtime I can hardly pull the downie over without shouting. Turning over in bed hurts like mad also. Then by the morning it's gone again.
Any ideas? Rheumatism? Arthritis? (I won't see a doctor as he'll only give me tablets which will make it worse in the long run. They always do.) I don't really know what rheumatism is.
Edinburgh Evening News (Requires registration (free). If you're serious about NB it might be worth taking the few seconds.)
The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (aka very rich business people) are determined to fight the ban all the way. We the punters are determined to fight the SLTA every bit as hard.
So who is going to start the non-smoking pub webpage?
One of them has just crossed the open room behind me. Yes, really. Despite me shouting and clapping my hands. It completely ignored my mousetrap baited with Cadbury's Dairy Milk. Whatever happened to timid mice that stayed by the skirting?
There's another one! It's run under the bed! I'm not going to survive the night I can tell. How bold are these creatures? Oh fuck it's still running around. It's right beside my foot, but I can't stamp on it. Why isn't there a spray? Why doesn't it fuck off into the skirting? There's an easily big enough mousehole. I'm dying, I can tell you. Oh fuck. Why is life so difficult?
It's this morning. The First Minister for Scotland will be pronouncing on smoking in public places. (In Scotland. But be warned - this is just a testbed ban for the rest of the UK.)
You possibly saw the Edinburgh smoking feature on BBC Breakfast. (They'd actually approached Mary first, to film in the Port, but she quickly declined. Swore at them over the phone, so the story goes. "There'll be nae stop-smoking propaganda in ma pub!")
"I can't believe people are sitting there drinking at half past seven in the morning," said Dermot, when the pub piece was finished and they cut back to the red sofa. "Haha!" laughed Natasha Kaplinsky, looking sleepy.
The word is that they're set to ban the filthy stuff in bars and restaurants, but not until early 2006. So we have to ask... what's wrong with early 2005? Or late 2004? How much longer do we the people have to suffer so that profits aren't affected? Honestly, non-smokers feel like social lepers in bars these days.
It's true. Yesterday they were having a full-on smoking debate in the Port - about ten people involved - and I was the only non-smoker there! Now me, I've nothing against publicans. Some of my best friends are. (Mary, Ally, Ian.) But they just don't realise how good a ban will be for business... how many non-smokers will come queuing at their doors. Nicer class of punter. And - crucially - with far more disposable income! Money talks!
Don't believe me? Take a look at the White Hart in the Grassmarket - any time of the day or week.
Previously I suggested that smokers should be put on the Scottish Islands and made to cold turkey till they'd got the nicotine out of their systems. This was not a totally serious postulate, but nevertheless someone saw fit to brand me a nazi.
So now I've mellowed. Until they see the expensive and unhealthy error of their ways, I would offer one, maybe two smoking pubs in every city. Call them The Fag End. Don't bother with heat or food or anything, as they'll be so desperate and grateful to smoke they'll never notice. Don't bother either with glass ashtrays which always seem to fill up, but have big wooden beer barrels strategically placed around for the butts. No ventilation at all, of course, so they can get the biggest possible hit off the fumes.
Heartless? Who says I'm heartless? I just want to live a few more years.
Feel free to leave your opinions below. I'll make every effort to ensure the First Minister sees them.
G from the PR company seems not too bad on the whole thing. She's gonna take the next highest scoring contestant to represent Scotland in the UK final. This is good. I felt badly that by withdrawing I'd denied someone a chance and a place and a fabulous holiday in Las Vegas, culture capital of the discovered universe.
Ironically, as I was wading through my mobile messages what should pop up on that funny tape symbol but someone from the Edinburgh Evening News - wanting to do a feature on me, the competition, and the final in London. Just 45 minutes after I'd ducked out of the Woollies thing! How creepy is that, eh?
As I was leaving HMV in Ocean Terminal tonight the doorway alarm went off. I stopped, shocked, and looked back into the shop, wherefrom a hefty looking guy had sprung from nowhere and was approaching me. Quickly I flung my Dannimac cream jacket off and shoved it in his hands. "Search me!" I demanded. "Search me - but I will sue you."
"I'm not authorised to search your jacket, sir," he replied. "Then get the police!" I insisted. "But do realise I will sue this shop for every penny you've got. Social embarrassment."
"Sorry to have embarrassed you, sir," he replied, handing back my jacket. "Sometimes the alarms are set too sensitive."
Back in the Port, Gwen came up and gave some love. "I read your blog today," she said, and plonked a nice kiss on me.
Ironically, just as I accessed my email for the first time in ten days, what should pop up but a message asking me to present a December radio show on Leith FM. Drive time, or something smaller if I prefer. Get real! My currency now is zero. My choice.
Tomorrow afternoon Jack McConnell, the First Minister for Scotland, will make a pronouncement on smoking in public places in Scotland. The licensed trade are determined to fight a ban every inch of the way. We, the non-smokers, will have to put the filthy fuckers out of business then, won't we? Can't be bad. We have the internet.
Of course I hate being unreliable. Doesn't everyone? Unreliability often comes as a result of not saying "no" in the first place. Not saying "no" often comes as a result of being a vacillating jellyfish, with round about zero sense of self-worth. In other words, me.
I should have said "no" to entering the bingo competition, knowing full well that I could never accept the prize of a flight to Las Vegas. But I said yes.
I should have said "no" to continuing in the competition, as stage by stage I kept succeeding. But I said yes.
I should have said "no" to the PR company which asked me (or was it directed me) to do a spot yesterday in a major store promoting a bingo game. But I said yes.
Until my body said no for me. And now I'm free, and fuck the repercussions.
It was the voices, you see, whispering. Whispering a script I hadn't heard for many a year. I'd got there ten minutes early. Time to case out the joint discreetly, rather than introduce myself at once.
So there I was, wandering rather desperately around the barn of a place (is it possible to wander desperately?), when one of them started in my left ear.
"You don't have to do this, you know..." it whispered. "No-one knows you. You could walk out of here right now..."
"Wow!" another voice answered. "Haven't heard that one for years... dare I let it run for a bit?"
"Stop right there!" yet a third one joined in. (The referee.) "This is dangerous. This is more danger than you should allow."
"But you need some danger, Peter," voice two chipped in. "How long is it since you did anything remotely exciting?"
"And think how exciting it would be not to do what you're told for a change! Defy your mother!"
Rationality tried one last gasp. "But of course I'm doing the gig... I mean I'm all showered and ironed, and suited and here!"
I rounded yet another corner. Acre on acre of tawdry Christmas tat as far as the eye could see. I thought of the times I'd seen poor suckers demonstrating stuff in stores before, and the sadness I'd felt in watching them, as the passers-by either ignore them or laugh. And I thought did I really, really want that to be me? How bad had I really been to deserve that?
Another corner. Burger King franchise in sight now. Teeming with schemie youths, yet strangely no girls to match. I couldn't see them appreciating my presentation, somehow. Quite the reverse. And who could blame them? Shoot the poof.
It'd sunk in weeks ago that without this Woollies gig there'd be no victory in the forthcoming UK final. This was my try-out. Has he got the balls? Can he cut the mustard? Somehow it seemed a hundred miles from the leisurely interview with some up-and-coming Guardian writer I'd fantasised upon winning. My chance to say, "Well of course I call a little bingo, darling, but in reality I think of myself more as a writer and presenter."
I walked out of the store, adrenalin racing. It was one minute to two. Still time. I still hadn't spoken anyone there. It was now or never. I chose never. Walked firmly away from the door, texted the PR company, said "sorry of course", then switched my phone off and headed to the pub.
Yes, really I am. Went to the Woolworth's gig this afternoon (see below), took five minutes look about the place, and said to myself, fuck it - I'm not doing this.
In these small ways do we regain control of our lives.
Clearly this means no bingo caller of the year victory, but - do you know - I don't give a shit about that either.
I'd rather stick hot needles in my eyes. Las Fucking Vegas. Shove it. And London too. Almost as bad, from what I hear.
This competition has materially damaged my life since July this year, but now, since 2pm this pm, it's OVER.
Praise the Lord. (There will be repercussions.) My bingo ladies won't take kindly to no Scottish representative in the London finals. Neither will everyone else in Scotland. But c'est la vie. You don't always get what you want.
Angie. An.... Gie....
I can't believe it's all over! My life's my own again!
(Amazingly there's a fascinating offer just come in for a daytime radio slot... Move over John Peel - you always were a boring cunt!)
Restful day, yesterday. Played some more San Andreas. I'd previously got totally pissed off with my lack of progress, but then read a guide saying that the missions I was so damn stuck on were really very easy. That knowledge gave me the confidence to sail through them.
Philosophy, you see. Human behaviour. Oh, it's all there. Bit like Allen Carr. Tells you it's easy to stop smoking, and then - poof! - it is!
You get all sorts of ratings in the game as it progresses. One of them is Sex Appeal. Me, I'm currently basking in a Sex Appeal of 6 percent. (Up from about 1 percent.) This can only be due to my purchase of black track trousers (pants), sports shoes and a green cap with peak worn upwards. Or maybe it's the low rider car with lifting suspension and a flame-effect paint job. Or maybe it's the cool way I kill cops. Dunno. Not totally happy with my hair, though. As soon as I find the correct shop I'm investing in corn-crows (?) like David Beckham.
No at all sure what constitutes sex appeal to homies 'n' the hood. But my stated aim is to make CJ my character gay. Must be some gays he can play with trolling around the place. Bi-curious. Don't call me bisexual, I'm a screaming queen now.
Crazy Rulers of the World
Me old mucker Jon Ronson was back on form again last night, with his latest search for the wackiest weirdos in the world. Bet you never knew the US Army still to this day has a corps called Earth Battalion, now didya dubya? They kill goats by staring at them. Only one guy ever did it, but he damaged himself also in the process. Quid pro quo.
This afternoon I'm employed in a leading Woolworths to demonstrate a new bingo DVD-Rom game. I can hardly contain my indifference, but it's only two hours. Fly past. I could, in theory, be almost as good as Paul O'Grady. But I won't, because in life you only get what you pay for. (Part of me niggles that that isn't really the most useful attitude right now, when there might - just might - be some opportunities for personal promotion. But somehow I can't seem to shake it. Woollies, I ask you. Moi.)
Out and About
Big-ups to Zed's daughter who today gets all her wisdom teeth extracted. And she's only 15. How much wisdom is a girl expected to have at that age? Bless.
"Kerry might have got in if he'd been more homophobic," said C, one of my young managers. The straight one. (I use the term straight not in any perjorative sense (some of my best friends are), but in discussions about homophobia it's helpful to know which side of the Vaseline tin the speaker is on.)
"Ya reckon?" I said, half challenging and getting ready for a fight. We (the bingo staff) were at tea yesterday. Saturday is our busiest day by far, with lots of lovely money to be made for our employer.
Little Alex was playing with a portable yellow drill. Looked pretty lethal. Driller Killer, I said to him. Sometimes he gets out his screwdriver, and threatens to screw me. Such a tease, that boy, as I've said before.
"There were other factors also," I continued. "Stem cells and abortion. But I agree gay marriage was part of it. And that's really down to the American queens," I continued. "I'm sure a Bush result was the last thing many of them wanted, but that's what's gone and happened. Sometimes when you open your mouth there are repercussions."
Our son, the President
Daddy Bush was on BBC Breakfast with Frost* this morning. He really does exude the air of any old geezer you would chat to in the pub. Well, maybe you youngsters wouldn't, but I probably would.
He said it wasn't the "far right" which had elected the President, but everyday decent Americans. He said it hurts far more when your son is criticised than when he himself had been in the crossfire. He called Michael Moore "horrible". He said that the European Alliance was very important and very strong, but that sometimes personalities stand in the way of progress. Asia and South America are important to the President too.
Finally he predicted his son the Governor of Florida was probably not aspiring to the Presidency in 2008. I often wonder what Barbara makes them all for tea.
*Today's show, including video, is normally posted here a little later in the day.
Holiday, for ten days. Just rejoice. To say the last few months have been hectic would be putting it mildly. At least President Bush has support staff. (But then, I have you.)
It is never the aim or intent of this weblog to offend the people of the United States. For that reason we often hold back from criticising its governance. Because some take an attack on George as an attack on themselves.
Just now, moments ago, I listened to a US troop leader rallying his men with these words, "Satan is in Fallujah, and we gotta go in there and get him." (From memory.)
Satan. In 2004. You have to pinch yourself to believe what you are hearing.
Simon Schama writes a wonderful commentary in yesterday's Guardian on the recent US election result. He postulates now two Americas, Worldly America (blue, and on the coasts), and Godly America (red and landlocked). The Divided States of America.
Some US citizens are now trying to leave. C Monks redraws the map of North America, and discusses the pros and cons of fleeing to Canada. (Thanks to Sal in my comment box.)
It's ironic that while Mr Bush has his presidency endorsed and strengthened, Mr Blair might even lose the next election. Yet both of those outcomes would stem from the same Iraq. Three Black Watch soldiers have been killed already, and the British people will not stand back and see our young men shot down for America's pointless and mistaken war. Will not. We just don't do Satan so much over here.
Life with Sandra is certainly artistic. Yesterday we visited no less than two cutting edge galleries. The Fruitmarket Gallery is showing Somewhere Everywhere Nowhere "An exhibition of the finest international contemporary art selected from France’s ‘Fonds Régionaux d’Art Contemporain’ (FRACs). 16 October to 28 November 2004 (Can you tell I just cut and pasted all that?)
Well - for all I know, some of you might be interested. Naked Blog - a voice for every reader. (I have to say the exhibition was a bit "ordinary". Vin ordinaire, as they say across the Channel.) Thirty people were power lunching but only three looking at the exhibits. There was a sexy photo of a handsome man squirting a milk carton, and some nice David Lynch/Kill Bill photos of painted houses.
Across Market Street then to the City Art Centre, and an exhibition of Fairground art and paraphernalia over the ages. We were particulary taken by a set of penny slot machines. Real pennies, old pennies, which you have to get from the gallery's shop. The coins were enormous! We'd totally forgotten how huge our former currency was. No wonder they had to decimalise.
Lunch in the Black Bull in the Grassmarket. (By now some readers will be scratching their heads wondering just how many markets there are in this damn town!) Well, I'm not sure. But at the very least there's Fruitmarket, Grassmarket, Lawnmarket and Fleshmarket. (Yes, really. Fleshmarket is what you would probably call butchery.) Although that didn't stop that scribbler... what's his name... Ian Rankin naming his latest Edinburgh oeuvre Fleshmarket Close, purely in order to titillate.)
Sandra had potato wedges with chilli sauce and sour cream, while I plumped for the Caesar salad. It wasn't very good. Everywhere you looked were men with blue football scarves. They were supporters of Schalke in Germany, wherever that is. Schalke, not Germany. Here to play Hearts, an Edinburgh team. Fussball. Very well behaved - a credit to their country. Unlike certain British supporters I could name.
The Gap Sale in Princes Street were doing "additional reductions", and I can never resist a reduction. So I got a jacket/cardigan thingy for just 9.99 Reduced from 26.99 through 16.99. How reduced is that! But I got depressed at how fat I was in their mirror, till Sandra immediately pointed out a couple of real fat bozos in the street. That's the mark of a true friend, btw. Tell you you're not as fat as somebody else.
Back at Sandra's, her daughter came in with Robin's son, who lives nearby. Sandra's man, Johnny, taught the lad a few chords on the guitar. C, D and G, if I recall. For C you don't hit the top two strings. Fascinating to watch this instruction. Guitar is the new masculinity. Robin's son, who is all of 12, then played some Pink Floyd and some Kinks. Johnny played Psycho Killer. Annie Lennox was on the HiFi, the one they bought in Thurso when I was up there last year. We laughed and ate and drank. Time passed. Later it was cold, waiting for the bus home. Real chill for the first time.
One thousand thanks for all your blogging topics in the comments for yesterday's post! I'll have so much fun tackling them. Please put still more in if you want to. (I can't do any this morning for reasons of sleeping in.)
Very poignant was Kathy in the comment box for 249 - 225 (couple of screens down) who is now so pissed off with the USA she wants to bring her family to Scotland. I've offered a little advice, but I know some of you will have much more. Please do help if you can. She sounds lovely, and at the end of her tether.
Such flimsy little things, those figures above. Curlicues reaching back to the Arabs and the Hindis. Swans, hooks, and sperms are there.
Yet on those little figures hangs the entire world for the next four years. A Bush world. A Bush world vision. Here are my crystal ball predictions.
The United States will invade Iran this term. The pretext will be the "war on terrorism", but the reality will be more mundane. Oil.
Blair, mindful of his own political skin and the backlash against our involvement in America's Iraq, will not invade Iran. There'll be a gap, some schism, between the two nations, quite possibly a serious "falling out". ("I just wanna tell you folks that today I am ver, ver disappointed in Prime Minister Blair's attitood...")
Then the USA will be totally isolated from Europe, and moods will get much darker. "Watch, it... Limeys," will be the message as Bush reaches the end of his second term. There will be the beginnings of world fear of the United States, as appeasement (our present policy) no longer applies.
We'll attempt closer relations with Europe then, cap in hand, even going so far as adopting the Euro as our currency. But Europe won't welcome us with open arms. The War is ever with us still.
I'd forgotten about the involvement of the TV stations in the American electoral system. Already today I've heard, "ABC News has called the State of Florida for President Bush!" And, "Fox News has called the State of Ohio for President Bush!" No shit, Sherlock...
What sort of country has TV stations forming the government? "Channel Five has called Natasha Kaplinsky as the next Prime Minister! Eat Pot Noodles! Drink Beer! Smoke Cigarettes!" You couldn't make it up.
Fun and games with Sandra yesterday, after she'd signed on in Duke Street. First we popped down Constitution to take in Babs in Homes Bar. She's understandably very stressed out at her mother's serious illness. The Western General are wanting Mrs N out of their hospital and into a hospice, so her death won't figure on their score sheet. (You never knew they had score sheets like that, now didya?) But Babs' mum is quite happy where she is, has made some friends and hasn't the slightest intention of leaving. Babs told a ward sister that she'd had better service in MacDonalds. Hehe. People just shouldn't mess with my friends.
Then to the Iso-bar in Bernard Street, and a hugely social session which I swear brought us within a whisker of a barring. Sandra kept banging on the window at passing friends. Some came in, some didn't. In the space of one hour flat we entertained Brian the manager of Wetherspoons (I told him his meals were shite), Stephanie from the Globe Deli (I told her her baked potatoes could do with warmer fillings, to be honest), then Sandra's pal Marlene who was going next door to get her hair done. She came out looking just like a brunette Doris Day. I swear it. Flicked up fringes are right back in, girls. Then there was Andy the famous DJ who said he was just back from his psychiatrist.
He said he'd been compulsorily detained a couple of years ago. I never knew that - he seems one of the saner types.
"Sectioned?" I said. "Sectioned," he agreed.
"Schizophrenia?" I asked, chattily. "Bi-polar," he replied.
"Lithium?" I suggested. "Yes, and Seroxat," he told me.
"You should get off that right now," I advised, telling him about the recent Panorama programme on the matter.
By now Sandra was needing a bit lithium herself, and shouting, "Fuck" as well as banging on the window. "You'll get us barred, hen," I said, advising caution. "Look at that man sitting there reading the paper - he's middle class."
"He's not middle class!" declared Sandra. "Just cos he's got a suit on! Let's away to the Port then!" "Where we can do what we want!" I agreed, looking askance at the owner of the joint with his power specs.
In the Port, Sandra and Marlene sat on their own for a bit, while I chatted to Middlesbrough Bob. "Why aren't you with the girls?" Andy asked. "Because I prefer men," I replied.
And now I have to go and practise my drive-by shootings. Yesterday I killed a drug dealer and pocketed his 2000 dollars. I like to sneak up behind them and put the knife to the neck. You should see the amount of blood that comes out! Aren't these lighter mornings lovely? And does anybody know where I can buy an Ouzi? I tried Ocean Docks but couldn't find the shop.
Three more days and I have a much-needed week's holiday. Got some Vitamin C from Boots. They're doing "buy three items and get the cheapest one free". Scotmid Co-op are doing two pizzas for the price of one, and the same goes for Chicago Town Meals For One, which I highly recommend. Yesterday I chose the Spicy Meatballs. Alone, of course.
We don't have much money, but we do see life. Sandra sent me four texts to do it all again on Thursday. I'll keep you posted.
A thought struck me this morning. (And no, it wasn't lonely.) How are yesterday's bluebottle flies doing, I thought, albeit with no huge interest in the answer.
And there they still were on the window frames! Still walking about, albeit slowly. So I called them Bush and Kerry.
But now, half an hour later, after a few blogs and some Freecell (great for preparing to write, btw.) one of them has quite disappeared.
However - and here's the fucking stupidity of my life - I can't make out whether it's Bush or Kerry that's survived! They're just so similar in every respect.
(Here endeth today's parable, brought to you by www.nakedprayer.com. Send your dollars now for instant saltation salvation. I am the Truth, the Light and the Way. Gay marriage is great, but only if you're gay. How to prove it? Nobody thought of that, now did they? Yeah... fake gay marriage. It'll be all over the place before you can say "tax relief". "And just because we're married, Cecil, doesn't give you the right to touch my OW THAT FUCKING HURTS YOU BASTARD.")
Forgive me... waxing sodomistic on you.
Here's a great comment on GTA: San Andreas I lifted from City of Sound:
Dude sum peeps think gta makes u wanna kill.
may b sum phycos do but im pretty k!
well jus wonderin cud u send me copy of map! b gd thnx!
Naked Blog. At the cutting edge, always.
Election Update: The second fly (to be honest I think it's Senator Kerry), has reappeared, albeit very near the bottom of the window. While George is riding high on the upper frame!
But should we even be bothered over here? Will one single mother in Ohio really determine the course of the world for the next four years? Or a Miami student who stops off to buy some crack, and then never makes it to the polling booth?
Makes yer think. And what about all those casinos we've got to have in Britain? All that American money flooding into the government? Casinos mean one thing and one thing only. Crime and poverty. I'm with the Daily Mail.
The sole purpose of politicians is to get re-elected. Governments exist to serve the Corporations, not the people. The real ruler of the world is money, and it was money which was attacked on September 11. The "casino thing" is in fact an excellent example of this. Nobody wants Las Vegas life here, but the government is pushing it on to us to please their global (ie American) fiscal masters. For every pound generated by gambling, no less than six pounds have to be spent on social repair.
Imagine my horror when I saw a meat fly (bluebottle) on my study window this bright and sunny morning. "It's outside," I thought, more in hope than anything else. But no. No matter from what angle I hopefully peered, those horribly-jointed legs had a completely interior articulation to them.
Now, whilst I'm a great believer in the sanctity of life, you have to draw the line somewhere! I mean, look at Bin Laden! But try as I might, my tin of DOOM Fly and Wasp spray simply cannot be found amongst the mess. I've looked at mess in three different rooms. (We got the DOOM spray in the early nineties, to complement the game. Organophosphates didn't have quite such a bad press in those days.)
Update: There are now two of the buggers, and they're getting more active as the room warms up. Soon they'll leave the window and fly into my face, I just know it. I hate insects. They're not natural. Bound to have arrived on an asteroid. Alien DNA. What sort of planet could support both me and a bluebottle?
More seriously, two in such a short space, apparently from nowhere, almost certainly means a dead animal somewhere in the floorboards or walls. Some thoughtless neighbour has used mouse poison, and to fuck with Peter and his nice untidy blogging study.
Wonder if FCUK Body Spray would kill them? Certainly brings me out in blotches. That's why I've still got it.
Flies in November! It's just not on. I can't wwrite the blog properly for looking at them. Fortuntately I can touch type. My grandmother always said that grandad (a notorious betting man) would bet on two flies clijbing a window. Well - here ya go, gramps. Tell me which one is you and I'll swat grandmana first, if you like. (My touch typing isn't perfect.)
San Andreas Faults
Decided to stay in yesterday and rest my throat, rather than join in the enforced shouting a pub would entail. If you don't shout over the music, you might as well not be there. This is called progress. Modern life. Complain and they say you're old. (Although what age has got to do with it I'm far from sure.) The truth is, they're all stoned and speeding out their nuts. And why not? But not my way, Jose, these days.
So, faced with solitude, I put GTA San Andreas on and gave it a good old seeing to.
What did I think, after four save levels. (3.73 percent completion)?
The drawing is still shite. So bad you can hardly see where the turn-offs are, until you're on top of them. Hopeless. A disgrace. I'd welcome any dissenting views. Should I buy a better TV? Is that the problem - lack of widescreen? The makers should look back at the Vice City rendering and hang their heads in shame.
Further annoyances are the "hoodspeak" which means you can hardly make out a word the homies are saying. (There are subtitles.) And the radio stations aren't a patch on Vice City. Not a patch. I would estimate only one tenth as much thought went into the SA radio scripts as Vice City.
When you pause, there's an onscreen map, with your present coverage highlighted. This would be great, except it's too small to make out. Similarly, the HUD radar map is far too tiny also. The symbols are on top of each other. Can't see a thing. All of which leads me to think San Andreas really is a cheapo sequel and nothing else.
So - should you buy it? Of course you damn well should. And you know no power on earth will stop you. It's the third place. (I'll be back playing again as soon as my left thumb gets a bit better. Dramatic? Moi?)
Update: A more enthusiastic review than this, with loads of lovely linkypoos, is at City Of Sound.
Apparently Rockstar have sprinkled fake fansites around the place, fleshing out backstories. (I could swear it was Blair Witch invented that form. Now it's mainstream already.) Well, there ya go, homies. I just want the straight lines straighter.
Hint of the Day: Easy Money for Cleaning the Hood
Anytime (sic) you kill a drug dealer, you will net $2000. Drug dealers normally wear black jackets and stand still waiting for people to talk to them. Kill as many as you can find to build up your cash stash quickly. More hints and cheats
Cheat of the Day: Full Health, Full Armor, $250,000
But for those who like their games the easy way, press the following during gameplay: R1, R2, L1, X, LEFT, DOWN, RIGHT, UP, LEFT, DOWN, RIGHT, UP.
Got to go now. The flies are warming up, have left the glass and are walking on the window frames. Flight I would say is imminent. Or maybe they'll just die of natural causes. It is November, after all.
Mike waxes thoughtful about the disappearing gay scene...
"The sense of progress which characterised most of the 1990s has long since gone, as existing venues atrophy and a renewed sense of marginalisation creeps over everything. Not the marginalisation of an "oppressed minority" - for those battles have largely been won - but the marginalisation which comes with the realisation that vast swathes of us no longer need a gay scene, and have accordingly all but abandoned it." Read more...
I'm pleased to report that here in Leith we've been doing exactly that for a quarter of a century. Trailblazer? Moi? Well - probably yes, in my day. Nice to see the younger queens acknowledging that sometimes.