I know, I know... plagiarism central. But I've been writing Naked Blog since 2001 and that's the first time I've used that title. Ever. So gie's a break pal, eh?
This isn't a post. This is a trailer for my fabulous new weight-loss guide, coming really soon - and written by you!
So there's still time to get your tips and guides in... from Sal's sourcing out healthy farm produce to dee's "coffee and spliffs" diet. (You don't lose any weight, but you sure as hell stop worrying about it.) All featured offerings will receive the satisfaction of making the world a healthier place - and if that's not enough they'll get a mention on this A-List weblog.
PS: The pictured meal was my actual lunch at work just two days ago. It's now fully part of me, and currently hard at work writing this blog item. Chips with everything - but not for much longer!
Today's post brought to you by the weight 13 stones 11 and 3/4 pounds - the second lightest since records began. (A week gone Tuesday.) So I'm feeling *happy*. And not *bloated*. You could almost say *hopeful.*
Check out the comment box for the post below this one. Thanks one and all.
That's it then. Owing to my having lost no weight at all since records began ten days ago, it's time for some direct action. I mean - how'm I ever gonna write that best-selling diet book (ghostwritten by Alan) if I can't even lose one ounce? I asks yer. I truly does.
Here's what I ate yesterday. In total. (Other bloggers can be quite boring telling you what they had for lunch, but nothing succeeds like excess I find...)
Thursday's menu, chez Naked Mansions...
Four ham sandwiches (lean, with added water)
Medium bowl of steamed assorted veg, mostly of the cauliflower/broccoli type. Very healthy, if a little lacking in flavour, so I added a jar of Cook-in Carbonara Sauce. I only really meant to use half a jar, but it was pretty damn tasty, so ended up spooning the second half straight out the jar into me mouth. Don't tell me you've never done that, as I won't believe you.
One tin of tomato and four bean soup, by Co-op.
One wholemeal crust with Puttanesca sauce. (Gorgeous. You must get some. Olives and tomato goo.)
That's not a lot, now is it? Sugar almost nil. Oh, and alcohol quite nil. Not one drop/millilitre. With a combination of work and staying in yesterday that'll be four dry days in a row. Drink problem? What drink problem?
So - what's the results then, Peter? How slim are you now?
Well I can tell you. There's good news and bad. The good is that yesterday's abstemiousness made me lose 3/4 pound from the day before. But the bad is that I'm actually 3/4 pound up on a week ago. I know... don't go on about it please. The only way is up. I'm a disgrace, and getting bigger at it.
Action plan. I've identified work as the cause of my calorific downfall. Chips and gravy to be precise. (It's the cheapest thing, and bingo callers don't earn very much - not even award-winning ones like me.)
Chips and gravy contain everything a man craves from a lover. Fat, salt, warmth and energy. (Chips are of course fried fingers of potato - not those cold crispy slices some misguided people call chips.)
No - chips and gravy are part of a man's world... along with late night kebabs quickly vomited onto the pavement. You sink into their velvet glow and fork those hot steaming fingers down your grasping gullet. Yes!! Feed me your goodness - chippy baby!!!
No more, Jose
But now they gotta go. Every last damn one of them. No more chippies, any more.
Today I'm searching out the fruit department of my local supermarket, not sure where it is, and purchasing some apples, which I detest. No fat, no salt, no comforting warmth, just fullness to stave off the cravings for a while.
Someone (dead now, as it happens, unlike me) said that no-one feels hungry after eating four apples. This is true. They probably feel suicidal.
God - I hate the damn things. Over-bred and over-emphasised like a supermarket capon, they're an abomination of the vegetable kingdom. Some of them don't even contain pips any more, so artificial has their life-cycle become.
Apples! An apple a day will make you gay. Well - we shall see. Watch this space, my chickadees. Me, I'm lunching on 12 inch pizza the day my scale hits 13 stone 10. Twelve inches. Who could ask for anything more?
Have a great low-calorie weekend! Me, I'm on holiday after Saturday. Chips and gravy-sized thanks for all your kind and helpful comments over recent days, which I think I've now replied to.
First of all was a phone text message with sender PERS
When you click on Read it goes to Delete, wiggles the Dusty Bin, but then leaves the sender intact. There's no discernible message.
So I goes on to www.mobilephonevirus.com (you can get anything on the internet) and learns that it's a service message from Virgin. However - ever vigilant - it occurred to me that the virus writer might well have put that on the forum himself, the better to spread his dastardly malwares. But no. I phoned Virgin and they've an automated message telling you to ignore it and it'll go away. So that's all right then. Twunts.
Not quite so ignorable is my Spybot Search and Destroy (love that name - just luvvit) which tells me a registry entry www.microsoft.com/isapi/redir.dll has been changed. Allow or Disallow? DISALLOW!!! I scream, frantically pressing letter D. How dare they tamper with my registry.
So I checks that out as well, don't I, and learns it's a thing called CWSAddClass. Spyware. Well - so now I'm off to run my Spybot. Cya later.
PS What's a good thing for doing an audio commentary for my pics, as requested by the gorgeous Danny? Audioscrobbler? It's got to have mp3, as I can talk the hind legs off a donkey. Famous for it.
The above brought to you by the Home and Personal Security Branch of Naked Blog - the weblog that never sleeps.
Day started unaccustomedly early at 9.45. Dentist for denture-fitting. Fitted fine. Back to the lab to get the teeth attached. It, not me. So many stages. Three hundred and sixty quid for three teeth. I ask you. But then I'll be able to smile again. (My fingers just typed smoke instead of smile. Not good.) We all have our personal "rock bottom", and mine is gaps in my teeth.
When I was young they were gorgeous. Like my brain. Getting older has its compensations though, in that you start each day afresh, without the slightest recall of yesterday's problems. Tabula rasa. That means clean sheet.
Talking of gorgeous brain, I was quite startled, well, shocked in fact, to see on last night's terrorism show that one of the bad guys worked at Imperial College, that supposed bastion of conservatism. I know. I went there in the sixties. Add to that the Guardians' recent employment of a radical Islamist, and you begin to wonder where to draw the line. If in fact there is any line to draw. How multi is your culturalism? There will be troubles ahead. Times like this I'm glad I won't live very long, and most of that will hopefully be ga-ga. In gay years I've already been dead for two decades.
SEASON OF MISTS
It's official! It's autumn in July already. All this baking heat and dryness seems to have made the plants fruit even earlier than ever.
Clock this from the Water of Leith banks yesterday, where the prostitutes used to "see" their clients before the posh newcomers objected. Money talks in Leith, but only in hundred-thousand pound notes.
There were brambles there also, but still packed hard and green. So sour, I remember from childhood. But once they get soft and sweet they're crawling with maggots. There truly is no such thing as a free lunch.
Few pints in the Port then with Eilidh (rhymes with daily) and Andy from Australia. We talked tooth replacements. Andy's missing Upper Left Two from when a customer threw a bottle at him and didn't miss. I told him not to get one bonded to the next tooth (Harrison Procedure) because it does involve damaging the healthy tooth. Me, I had one on Upper Left Four for about three years, but it came off, and now I'm stuck with drilled and damaged UL3.
Sandra came and took me to her studio, where Johnny was painting a bike. Then we had lunch in the Cameo in Commercial Street. Don't go there. Really downhill these days. We ordered paninis. Sandra and Johnny plumped for gruyere, with being vegetarian, and the guy brought ham and cheese. Had to go back. Mine were the correct flavour, salmon and sour cream, but cold, stone cold. Had to go back. Plus the wedges and chips were pre-salted. How fucking gross is that? They can't even do that in school dinners these days. (Only took fifty years to sink in.)
Above is a large sketch by Sandra you can purchase, and here's a pretty plant from her studio.
Back home later, Sandra went radge and started shouting at me in my yesterday comment box. Ah well true love never runs smooth and I forgive her. No-one's perfect, not even me. (Honestly.)
I have no idea how and why I got there, but somehow I found myself on the Iron bridge photoing this swan family. The cygnets are about at the "teenage" stage - in bird years. You should see the size of a swan's nest. It's spectacular.
This morning I weighed 13 stones, 12 and a half pounds, which was upsetting, being the second heaviest ever. But after a cup of coffee and a crap it was down to 13 stone 12, which is a bit better. Still putting it on though, rather than the reverse. There's no escape. It's galloping caponisation.
Earlier, in the dentists' waiting room I stumbled on this ISP. Anyone know anything about them? Seem much, much cheaper than my present host who presently charges 30 quid a month excess bandwidth for simply using 3271mbs. That's on top of the 100 quid annual charge. And that's on top of the 100 quid "excess size" charge. It's spend, spend, spend.
With netcetra I was looking at the Developer Package. (I know most of you plump for 34SP, but didn't mike just recently lose the lot?) What does Shared Hosting mean?
Some days it's difficult to blog. When each day seems to bring news of fresh disasters, you wonder what on earth is the point of churning out stuff here.
The reason I almost never opine on serious matters is that like you I simply don't have the information. Yes - of course there are bloggers who at the drop of a shift key will fire off screenfuls of rhetoric about this and that and the other - whilst knowing no more about the matters in hand than they've read in the papers and seen on the telly. Which is exactly what their readers have done already.
Not for me, Jose.
You'll note that most of the serious ones - the "top bloggers" - the ones the BBC feature ignored - do not.
I'm tending to think there's no such thing as multiculturalism. The best there can be is co-existence, which is often uneasy. Whose idea was it to put everybody all over the place? (I realise African Americans are in a different situation.) Sir Francis Drake was a leading slave trader, it said on the telly last night. So it must be right.
The Pakistani High Commissioner (or summat) said to Peter Sissons that understanding terrorism is not the same as justifying it.
Cops like guns because they give them massive hardons. See them posing for the TV cameras. I almost wrote "drop dead gorgeous", but realised just in time.
No, I wouldn't like to be a cop. Or a fireman. There are other ways to serve your people. If "your people" exist.
Some men are so fucking butch they become bisexual. So they can dominate not just women but men as well. Every queen worth her salt has had a couple and could tell you a story. Can't you, girls?
And now it's off to the dentist for the penultimate fitting for my long-awaited partial denture. Penultimate means second-last. Since Wednesday I've lost no weight at all. Told you it wouldn't be easy.
Good morning from Sunny Leith. What a time I've had, struggling first with Flickr Uploadr, and if that wasn't enough then Bloggr goes and tells me to clear this and delete that and sit on the other. Girl doesn't know whether she's coming or going.
Yesterday was lovely so I decided to take my old bones up Arthur's Seat for a whirl. First time I've used my legs significantly since a week gone Sunday. Michty me! They say the chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and when I started this semi-serious exercise lark back in Jan/Feb I naturally assumed that very weakness would be my pneumo-cardio-vasculars. (Heart and lungs to the classically-challenged.)
But no. Turns out I'm as fit as an ox. It's the old lallies that set the pace. Knees Up Mother Fucker. Ease your knees. Bees knees. Birds and bees. Damn. They're tingling even as I sit here writing. Tingling! Do you have any idea what that's like? To have your entire healthmap future hanging in the hands of a couple of grammes of gristle?
Talking of grammes, my avoirdupois now stands at a rewarding 13 stones and 11 pounds, give or take nothing at all. Watch this space to see when it dips below that eleven!
Had some drinkies with Babs before ascending. She refuses to even think about joining me. We shall see.
Afterwards it was feet up and telly. New Ricky Gervais... so-so. Nothing really we hadn't seen before. And his Billie Piper-esque sidekick just isn't up to the task. Sorry. If he picked someone to make him look good then he made the wrong decision.
Much better was Catherine Tate, who came on immediately afterwards. A new talent, if you can get past the way-overdone laughtrack. Shocking. But maybe in a post-modern way it was meant to be like that. Taking the laugh-track piss.
But by the time Stephen Fry and John Bird came on with yet another new series (that's three in a row, btw), I was dozing off bigtime. But I've got it all taped. Julian Clary was doing Celeb Hissyfits, which could have been much better if they'd just shown the damn things, instead of acres of comment from the Z list. Elton was hilarious having to walk through an airport in Singapore and being forced to face real people. What a tosser. Clary too. Why is the wider world's perception of us so coloured by such asswipes? And don't get me even started on Shaun/Sean in scraping-the-barrel Coronation Street. (I only watched two episodes, to suss out the bingo storyline. Is he still there?)
Gotta go. Take me old knees to the bingo for a couple of days. Have fun! Don't do anything I wouldn't do, which is actually quite a few things these days.
You might, just might, be able to see yesterday's mountainous photoshoot on Flickr. They're not properly finished or described yet.
When you see a TV programme trailed as an undercover investigation of a hospital, you know what to expect. Bad practice. Good news is no news, after all.
Even with that caveat, last night's Panorama about the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton made very grim viewing indeed. It was an elderly patients' ward, and it was clear from the first few minutes that things were in catastrophic failure.
OK, OK. The reporter is only going to show the bad bits. But even if those events were the only "lowlights", that was still shocking enough. More than. People not being fed, watered, toileted, or given their pain relief.
And why? Because of simple lack of staff. And why? Because of mismanagement. And why? Because that particular ward was a hundred and eight thousand pounds overspent. As if it were possible to "overspend" on people's lives.
The programme was quite excellent TV, if you resisted the obvious manipulations. The featured patients were glossed with their younger lives and photos. (The young often can't comprehend that old people weren't always thus.) There was a piano recital throughout, with "music to die to" at the sad parts, and brighter stuff when things got a bit better. (Do sack the DJ, please, BBC. It's really not on for your flagship programmes. Viewers deserve better than someone else's record selections forced down their throats in every Panorama and Horizon.)
And in the last quarter of the programme, when things were supposed to have got better, they even upped the brightness and colour. Seriously.
But do you know what was the most chilling thing of all? It wasn't the nurses, who were obviously being asked the impossible, but rather a man called Peter Coles, hospital executive, who sat there shirted and tanned, mouthing the most Blairite platitudes you could imagine. He out-Toned Tone himself. There's a career for him in Westminster bigtime. You read it here first.
"How many development plans and initiatives do you need to feed people and give them their medicine?" the Panorama lady asked. But he wasn't fazed in the slightest.
What has our society sunk to that such programmes are needed to get our elderly their proper care? That a TV chef is the only man who can get our schoolchildren properly fed? Where are you, Tony and Gordon? Do you get so dazzled by the glittering stages of world events that you forget the real thing we pay you for - which is to run this country?
That even one person should have to suffer as shown in this Panorama is an outrage. That entire wardfuls do so beggars belief. Fix it. This year. Do it - or we'll vote for someone who will. And then where will you be?
Inspired by this BBC health quiz, I determined to do something about my weight. It's been a life-long problem. You should have seen me when I was aged one, with fatty little legs and arms, and tennis ball face! But that was just after the war, and everyone was keen to stay alive, so the measure of a good mother was her baby putting on weight.
Babies were weighed almost religiously, and tut-tuttings were heard if nurse wasn't satisfied with its "progress". Heavens - you'd think it was competition marrows they were raising. All that overfeeding combined with passive smoking several cigarettes a day from long before conception, and it's a miracle I'm here to tell you the tale today. Miracle.
In With The New
Here is my new Salter bathroom scale I purchased yesterday - fifty pounds down to fifteen, via twenty-five. (It was the last one in the shop, and the box was a bit shabby. I do lurve a bargain, as you know.)
The reason I needed a new one was (a) because that will inspire me to lose weight, and (b) because its predecessor was over thirty years old and becoming hard to read.
It works with strain gauges at each corner, and has inch-high LCD figures in the display. Most scientific.
Out With The Old
Here is the spring-balance predecessor which I used to stand on lovingly in my twenties, when being over ten stones/140 pounds was a queenly disaster.
Nowdays we do business with fourteen stones/196 pounds. Grotesque for my slightly below-average height.
And yes - I was quietly pleased with my recent progress. Four pounds lost in four months. "That's not much!" I hear you think, but you'd be wrong. Although young at heart for you here, we can't ignore the reality of being near-sixty and the hormonal changes therefrom. Specifically, vast reductions in both testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH). (Now I'll get spammed rotten for both of those, btw. The sacrifices I make for you. The things you can get on the internet.) And those are the two which spike up your metabolism. "Middle-aged spread" is hormonal, not couchbound.
But we'll get there, even despite my old bones. Arthur's Seat is always at the end of Easter Road. It has no plans for moving. And last night, in honour of my new bathroom scale, I ate curried sprouts rather than chicken.
Before bed: 14 stones 4 and three-quarter pounds.
This morning: 13 stones 13 pounds.
(That's an overnight loss of almost six pounds. Amazing how much you wee in a night.)
*Thinks* Should I tell the lovely people that I woke up every two hours to wee and weigh myself?
Michael Winogradsky Grade, chairman of the BBC governers, was on the sofa with Natasha and Bill this morning. (They really must replace Dermot with Bill sharpish, btw. Much more my cup of tea. Dermot looks far too much like he takes it seriously.)
He was looking quite dapper with a hundred-dollar haircut. Said he'd changed his mind over Doctor Who, and then gave a quick plug for the DVD. Grade was the one who famously succeeded where the Daleks had failed, and axed Doctor Who completely (or so we thought), back whenever.
Here are some nice flower pics taken yesterday in the Port o Leith Bar. One by me, and one by Little Alex.
Hi to readers from BBC Online. This site features direct speech and strong language where appropriate.
Good morning, chickadees, and welcome to your Monday workplace again, for those of you old-fashioned enough to have jobs.
You'll notice a distinct lack of Naked Blog since Friday, due to the fact I didn't write any. Neither do I have anything half as good as last Monday, so if that's it over between us, then that's what it's gotta be.
*Yawns and stretches* Feeling great this morning, after an unaccustomed lie-in. (It's the lie-ins when you get the best dreams, don't you find? This one was totally lurid. And tumescent. Stopping smoking has a lot to answer for.)
Getting the right amount of sleep is important for being young, it said on this BBC show on Saturday night. Are You Younger than You Think? Oh, the show was fine as far as it went, but being Saturday night there was the usual drone of Z-list slebs to endure. Anthony Worral Thompson anyone? Video was best, so you could slice through to the nitty gritty. Which is on this quiz.
Me, I ended up a year and a half younger than my actualite, which I didn't think was that great, but there ya go. Against me was overweight and other people's cigarette smoke, and for me nutrition and exercise. Plus long-lived parents come in handy. (Once they're dead, of course.)
Full marks to Auntie Beeb over the online provision, which comes complete with a printout list of personal recommendations. Me I have to cut down my alcohol. (Although they don't seem to have heard of Scotland here. Seven pints a week? Aye right, pal. So that's breakfast.) Eat more fruit (ie any at all. Doesn't jam count?) Do more aerobic stuff. (I would - it's me knees, Doc.) But above all things, lose weight and avoid fagsmoke. Those last two added four and a half years.
Nothing there you wouldn't already know, of course, but it was interesting to see the relative weights they gave the different aspects. Take the quiz. Tell me your results. You need to know your height in metres and weight in kilogrammes, but the conversions are there. (One of the Take The Test links on the BBC page is faulty.)
BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!
Sex Secrets, BBC1 Sundays
Oh no! It's quiz-o-rama this weekend. Not content with telling me how old I really am, the next day they were hard at it with another quiz telling me what sex I really am! You couldn't make it up.
Cutting to the chase, my brain is exactly midway between male and female - bang on the zero there. This is total rubbish of course, as my brain is 100 percent male just like the rest of me. But don't we all love a bit gobbledegook? I scored maleness on 3D geometric rotations, but femaleness on guessing people's emotions from their eyes alone. This could well be due to an early education in geometry and other mathematics, followed by a lifetime of close working with people and their reactions. Strange how quizzes mirror life.
Take it. You'll adore the part on facial attractiveness towards the end. Love it for that alone!
The programme is Sex Secrets, BBC 1 Sundays. Doubtless repeated on Beeb 3 or 4. The sex quiz is here. Again, there's a detailed printout telling you which bits of your mind are male and which female. Salt, salt, and buckets of salt. Psychologists gotta eat, like the rest of us.
A chick from some "think tank" no-one's ever heard of also says yes, and gets five minutes respectful questioning from Bill Turnbull this morning. (Sorry no details seem to be online.) They are now.
Book me my spot on the red sofa.
OK, NB-fans... that's it for now. Off to consume some alcohol, other people's fagsmoke, some exercise and maybe fruit. I guess an apple won't kill me - but after a few pints of Carlsberg it's just not the same as microwaved tikka masala. Well is it?
In view of the large and growing number of lady readers, plus men in touch with their feminine sides, I've decided to spend a little more time on these topics. Well - let's face it - the glossies are full of health and beauty, and they don't come much more glossy than mine. (Although I absolutely guarantee there will never, ever be any celebrity gossip on the lines of the Beckhams.)
Although having just said that, have you noticed how very alike David Beckham and Brad Pitt are? It's a facial meme. The other main one is the Clark Gable/Matt Dillon type, ending in our own cutesy little Gareth Gates.
They're not real, stars, I tell you. Made in a laboratory. Garnier Fructis.
Take The Quiz
Find out your "Real Age" - whatever that is. Take the BBC quiz. Or rather don't, as it doesn't seem to be there yet. So watch the programme tomorrow evening. Unfortunately it's got Des Lynam. My favourite presenter this year so far has to be Dr Iain Stewart, and his Journeys From The Centre of the Earth series, currently repeating on BBC 2, Saturdays. (Remember - he's the geologist who keeps saying "jollergy" and "jollergist".)
Someone quite ghastly was on my screen yesterday or the day before - Simon Schaffer with a show called "Light Fantastic". Oh, the show was OK so far as it went... nothing you couldn't learn from five minutes with the Readers' Digest... but his TEETH! Shocking! The man should only ever be filmed from the nose up. I mean seriously.. we're talking black stumps with huge gaps, pointing in random directions all over his gob.
Now - I'm not claiming that everyone on telly should have perfect gnashers like Beckham or Pitt - but surely there are limits of acceptability, and that man drops far below them. Sorry I don't have a picture, but I wouldn't want to ruin your elevenses anyway. What his wife must think when she sticks her tongue in there I can only imagine and shudder.
We're fighting the ravages of age on several fronts. Left knee is still in the care of tubigrip bandage from time to time. I never mentioned the verruca on my right foot, did I? Between left knee and right verruca there's nary a step except it be agony.
So I've started to treat the verruca with Bazuka. "Bazuka that verruca!" (Boots - 5.29) Who says advertising doesn't work? I never said that. It's because it does work that it's such a danger and menace to society.
But the modus operandi of Bazuka is to put a semi-hard (sorry) disc of white stuff over the affected bit. Like carpet glue but harder. This then makes walking even more of a (literal) pain.
So yesterday I got some Scholl Air-Pillo Gel insoles. You have to cut them to size, and you'd think that would let all the gel out, but what do I know? As it happens my shoes are so big they don't need cutting. Then you have to practically "pour" them into the shoe. Quite odd, and quite different from ordinary soles. I'm looking forward to floating to work later. Naturally you'll get a full report.
Peter's Patent Hay Fever Remedy
As flagged chez zed, today I'm publishing my world-exclusive regimen for avoiding hay fever. This one is revolutionary - easily as revolutionary as my last theory, which is that dirt is good for you. (This got stolen by others and named the "hygiene hypothesis".)
Well - my hay fever routine will doubtless get stolen as well. I'd work it up into a book, but it's only in fact one sentence, so that would test even the most loquacious of bloggers.
Hey Peter - hit me with your free remedy!
OK then - it's time. This is the first year I've ever suffered from hay fever, and this has led to lots of thinking. You see - men and grass have evolved together since the bacteria swamps. So it's just not logical for people to be allergic to grass. Not. Then what are we doing now which is so different from the Savannah days? And this is my solution...
The clue is actually in the recent text of this blog, had anyone (including me) but noticed.
Readers who pay attention - and there are a couple - will have detected a story about an afternoon on the top of the Royal Park. Sunday just gone. You might have read lines such as...
"Or congestive heart failure. I thought I might get that, and wondered how it differed from ordinary heart failure - as my blood turned to tar in my pipes. Up, up, up. Grass, grass, grass. Thick, high, pollen-drenched grass coated all of my clothes."(My emphasis)
Grass. Pollen. Are you getting the idea? On that Sunday afternoon I must have ingested kilogrammes of the damn stuff. I almost became a grass plant by osmosis, that much of it there was around me.
Yet which word did you not read? Well I can tell you. The word you didn't read is "Atchoo!"
You didn't read it on Sunday. Or Monday. Tuesday, nor Wednesday.
No - the first time you would have read "Atchoo" would have been in today's tale about yesterday, Thursday, when the hay fever returned with gay abandon. Oh, it was murdering me. Could hardly talk to Tony my IT Manager in the Port. But that's not important. What is important is my latest discovery...
That to treat your hay fever you have to do nothing more than simply walk in long grass. This will protect for three to four days, and then you repeat as required.
I can hear GlaxoSmithKline shares hitting the floor as I type. Seriously - people have been assassinated for such commercially-sensitive discoveries before.
And that completes our little healthcheck for this week. Do let me know how you get on with your hay fever treatments, and how very young you really are on the BBC quiz.
Oh - and thanks for all your lovely "old lady" stories in yesterday's comment box. She's there inside you already, you know. Waiting to meet you for a nice cup of tea.
Plus it's got 42 comments. But someone who has no comments at all yet is Tokyo Girl. Don't miss her either. Only started this month. (The last person I did this for ended up stabbing me in the back, if I recall. Really quite nasty.) But these things are like water off a frog's back. One bad apple. Business as usual. Spirit of the Blitz.
Do you know - I can't think of a single thing to write about. No cliff-hangers, literal or otherwise. So let's make it "Old Lady Day" again. Why not? Go out there and be nice to the first old lady you meet today. And in doing that you'll embrace your own inner old lady. Everybody's got one, you know. It's the Earth Mother/Goddess thing.
It's a joy to see some cloud in the sky at last. Never satisfied, us Brits, are we? Back to work for a day, then hopefully Thursday will be in the outdoors again.
Sandra and Johnny have been around and about the place - last weekend camping in Coldingham on the Berwick coast, and the weekend before in Caithness and Skye. "Let's pop over to Skye for breakfast!" Luvvit! (But there weren't many vegetarian dishes.)
Me, I've cycled all over Skye. And Mull and Jura. (Well - they had to get the name from somewhere!) Gorgeous when it's not raining, but oh, those midgies! Must be God's punishment for giving the people such spectacular scenery. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.
On a Sunny Afternoon...
Sandra and I shared some quality time yesterday, as I reprised my Sunday tale of horror on the hill. But this time safely from the bottom looking up. Well - except for one little bit where I toy-climbed a bit, but still managed to get a wee fright. (The photos don't do it anything like scariness justice.) Bang in the middle of the swanpics, halfway down the cliffs, there's a tiny figure of a climber in a wee bit of trouble.)
This next quite ghastly set shows me facing up to my demons on the slidy slope you read about so vividly on Monday. (If you've been following the plot, that is.) Clock that belly and hairdo. (This was just the bottom quarter or so of the actual slope, which you can see better on the swanpics just above the cliff. Scary movie.)
And this is my friend Robin (don't call me bisexual, I'm a screaming queen now.) It's real tattoo weather. In the background you can see Tony my IT Manager, and young Maddie's right leg.
Main pictures are around and about St Margaret's Loch, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh.
This is what greeted me when I got back from the pub yesterday - in every room in the house. It's meltdown.
(What you should be looking at is the 84 F degrees. In Scotland that's what we call "roasting". No other word for it. 29 C degrees.)
Don't know about you, but me I never open windows. Ever. Lets flies in. Hate them. Great big bluebottles that fly into your face. Yeucch! I was drinking some red wine once when I felt something furry brush against my lip. It was a wasp. Drowned in the wine. I nearly threw up. Never opened a window since.
Great Minds Complain Alike
You might remember in this story a few days ago my complaining to the BBC over a George Galloway spot on Newsnight. I felt the interviewer, Gavin Esler, dominated the proceedings with his own opinion, to the detriment of Mr Galloway's presenting his.
Here is the BBC reply. Very bland - nothing earth-shattering. But, as I suspected, mine was not the only complaint received.
Thank you for your email concerning Gavin Esler's interview with George Galloway on Friday's 'Newsnight'. We have had a large number of complaints about this item - the majority complaining about Gavin's questioning, a smaller number questioning why we had chosen to interview Mr Galloway at all.
I have reviewed the interview, and while I agree it was unfortunate that it became ill-tempered I can see nothing in Gavin's questions which was unfair or ill-mannered. Mr Galloway's comments in the immediate aftermath of the London attacks were controversial and it was right that they were questioned pointedly.
But I accept entirely that while Mr Galloway's views run counter to those expressed by mainstream politicians they are views that may be held quite widely across the country and perhaps particularly in parts of London such as Mr Galloway's constituency.
The thrust of Gavin's questioning was to ask if it was wise to express these provocative views - effectively "I told you so" - at a time when many politicians and Muslim leaders had been appealing for calm. I believe that was a fair and appropriate line of questioning.
Peter Barron Editor, Newsnight
Hmmm. Ah hae ma doots. Gotta hand it to Galloway - he sure kicked ass at those US Senate hearings some weeks ago. But would I want him running the country? Nah - probably not. Looks like he could go off the rails bigtime.
Boyz 'n' The Hood
Most gay men go around the place thinking they blend seamlessly into heterosexual society. That "no-one would ever tell". That other queens you can spot a mile off, but not them. Aha!
Well didn't I have my little bubble pricked yesterday, bigtime? There I was asking this fairly hunky guy if I could photo him. He was just back from T in the Park, and chilling with a pint of Mary's finest. Had his own fold-up chair. (Two for a tenner, with built-in cup-rest in the arm.) Chatting to Babs, her fella, Alex and me. And I only wanted to photo him as I had FA stuff about T in the Park.
"Are you gay?" Andy says to me, as I look through the camera at him.
"Bent as a nine bob note," I reply, putting the photography on hold for a mo while I check out this thread.
"Cos I don't want you chugging off to that photo tonight," he goes on, but not unkindly.
"No, Peter's got taste," Babs said, jumping to my defence as ever. We laughed. (Prudence dictates that I don't publish Andy's picture here, or use his real name. I didn't emphasise the consent part sufficiently.) We chatted some more and then his taxi came.
"Hmmm. And all these years I thought I was quite straight-acting," I says to Babs, Her Fella and Alex - after Andy had gone. "Now it seems I've been a screaming queen all along."
Alex laughed, and started to life-coach me. "You've got to say 'fuck' a lot," he instructed. "And keep saying, 'Look at the tits on that!'"
So now you know.
"Fuck! Look at the tits on that!"
(Alex writes exclusively for you in the comment box to yesterday's post, btw.)
And now I've got to love youse and leave youse. It's 81 degrees already, and the sun isn't even round this side of the house yet. Sandra and I are going swan-watching. "Look at the tits on that"! Hmmm. This is gonna need practice. "Fuck!"
Allow yourself a lunchbreak for this quite long one
Fun and games yesterday on the hills. (I'm joking - I almost died.) You have to understand two things before reading on. One: I'm terrified of heights. And two: the temperatures hereabouts (normally just miles from the Arctic circle), are showing not so much global warming as microwaving for eight minutes on full. Wotta scorcha!
So I sets off up Easter Road, in the somewhat less fashionable district of Leith, to the Regent Bar for a couple of cooling lagers and then a walk in the park. To ease my knees I'd put single Tubigrip bandage on each of them. Cutting down from double to single. Got to wean myself off the damn Tubigrip. How does a bit of mildly elastic cloth make such a difference? Well, it does. Now I understand my poor, long-dead Nana's pleas for her "Lastic stockings". Runs in the family, I guess. Like neurosis.
The Regent was ghastly. Three customers, totalling well over 150, and a teenybop barqueen playing gay disco nonsense at 100 Watts. Why do they do it? What's wrong with a bit Dusty or Shirley on a sunny Sunday afternoon? Why does the customer always come last?
So I left after only two pints - a decision that might actually have saved my life.
For a change I decided to try something new. Arthur's Seat looked that crowded it was ripe for a terrorist attack. And weeks ago the Edinburgh Evening News published a booklet with five great Edinburgh walks. Let's do the first one.
It started beside St Margaret's Loch with lots of ducks and swans and families. Great if you've got one, but this intrepid correspondent had to do the butch thing. The solitary climb. Make a virtue out of necessity, why doncha? You had to find a "narrow path" going backwards at the far side of the loch. But I couldn't find it, look as I might. Two queens were sitting smoking and sunning, and I'm convinced they thought I was trolling them. One kept glaring at me as three times I walked past, till I eventually found a tiny gap in the gorse bushes that might - by stretching the dictionary to its covers - be called a path. Up I gaily trotted, and that was the start of what was to come.
At this point I have to apologise for lack of piccies. The first part was too boring - nothing you haven't seen before, just from a slightly different place - and the second I was too interested in remaining alive to even think about fiddling with bags, zips and cameras. Hopeless. So I'm reduced to writing about it, like the olden days. Do me good.
For those who ken these pairts, we're talking the Park's second summit, the very K2 to Arthur's Everest, called Whinny Hill. It's at the Meadowbank end. And unlike Mount Arthur, where everyone wears a stoic, "Isn't this great - I'm a mountaineer!" look, here the punters were lying back soaking up the rays, which were considerable. Me, I was fairly content my face and arms were conditioned enough to cope. Top I had to leave on, for reasons of public decency over my old, vile flesh.
I sweated. And sat. And drank water. And sweated. Stretched my legs and hoped the knees were OK. It was a fair bit steeper than Arthur. Triangulated the paths a bit.
The water disappeared perilously quickly, and I soon realised that would be the critical factor in the proceedings. Stupidly I'd only brought half a litre. Hardly feed a Sindy Doll. Said Hi to a few people, but they didn't answer. Clearly there's a different chat code at this end of the park. So fuck them. I'm on my own and don't give a fuck about them anyway.
The summit of Whinny Hill was there ahead of me, but I decided that for reasons of heat and water it could wait for another day. I gazed over and way down towards the Palace, with the Regent bar just moments from there... wonder if Liz ever pops in for a bit lager shandy and shindig? Maybe if they put some decent records on...
And then I made my potentially fatal mistake. Less heat, less lager, and more water might have put the realisation into my addled brain that this park consists of line after line of cliffs - and there was at least one big mother between me and that pint of lager in the Regent. More rationality still would have told me that when you're atop a steeply-sloping cliff, the only possible solution is to find the end of it. One end was up, and one down. Let's try down - you know it makes sense.
But down had its problems, seriously. Down ended up very steep indeed, and getting steeper. Grassy, broad, with little steps cut here and there, but still I felt it was at the limits of my boots. Let's try it on my arse then. Carefully sit. But no - the moment I sat I could feel it all starting to slip bigtime. Can't go down. Just can't. Really, really can't. I want my mammy. I'm going to die. Considered freezing and phoning for help.
But no. Don't freeze. Really, really don't freeze. It's the most terrifying thing. So I made to climb back upwards again. Knees and exhaustion forgotten - heart pumping litres for its 58 years... lungs bursting in and out to screaming, as I turned and clawed and booted my way back up to safety. Temporary safety. Because I was still 200 metres in the air, and now quite lost. And very thirsty. And extremely sunbaked. And far from young.
Cliff was on one side, and highness all around me on the others. The only way was up. And up. And now I was in a dip, with nothing visible except Arthur, who acted as my compass. Paths went in all directions. Eeny meeny, will I die? Glanced at my watch - the only one time I did that - thinking it must be midday, but no it was 5.22. Etched. How can it be so fucking hot at 5.22? Heat stroke.
Or congestive heart failure. I thought I might get that, and wondered how it differed from ordinary heart failure - as my blood turned to tar in my pipes. Up, up, up. Grass, grass, grass. Thick, high, pollen-drenched grass coated all of my clothes.
Arthur's Seat was far to my right - you could see the tiny people on it... happy, laughing... alive... and me I was heading due south, where I'd a feeling - a memory - there was maybe a "walk-off" down to Dunsapie Loch. An elevated loch.
There was such a walk-off, and I was right. But was that the end of my problems? No way jose.
Because the heat still beat down mercilessly - on the tarmac now. No breeze stirred my sweat-soaked shirt. Sweat dripped from my upper lip, harsh, salty, the saltiest I ever tasted. I wiped it on my clothes rather than drink. People passed me in the opposite direction, clutching blue bottles of the precious liquid. But did I dare ask for some? Well no, of course not. They would be scared. I must have looked mad, with stary, bulgy eyes. "Don't go up there!" I wanted to tell them. "It's an inferno. Go back! Go back! Go to a pub and order some lager and a prawn salad sandwich with crisps!" Strange the things that cross your mind.
I knew now there was still the best part of half an hour's walk to civilisation. Totally addled now, and past even thinking what might be ahead - of that pint of lager in the Regent, and ghastly music not even a moron could dance to. Heat, heat, heat. Now and again some trees and slight shade, then back to the Dante ante.
To Meadowbank and ground zero at last. There was a pub I didn't dare go into in my state, but a shop was there too, with its "Sunday Papers Blast Latest" sign outside. And newsagents always sell bottled water. I chose a half litre, lightly fruited, with crisps for some salt, although I could only eat a few. Sat on someone's front step in the shade and ate and drank. Looked like a tramp. Past caring.
Taxi! "Take me home!" I cried, but after five minutes with the window down and breeze on ma puss, I started feeling a little more human. "Make that the Port o Leith!" I told him then.
John Macaulay, Stewart, Ginny and her family were sitting at the pavement table outside the Port. What a red face, as my taxi pulled up right alongside them. Posh bitch, eh?
"Boy - have I got a story for you!" I said, as I began to tell them my tale. This very tale you've just read. "Peter, that must be the first time ever in your life you had such difficulty going down," John mused later, queenily.
Home, Sweet Home
Little Alex is moving into Scott's flat, while Scott is away at sea for three months. Scott and I talked for hours last night, but my lips are sealed. (Until he's sailed, at least.) My bad. Me kidding you...
George Galloway MP being interviewed by Gavin Esler.
This was appalling - rude and unprofessional. I was watching to hear Mr Galloway's views, not Mr Esler's, which he insisted on repeating, even though he'd made himself quite clear at the beginning. It was even more shocking the way in which he terminated the interview and cut off Mr Galloway from speaking further. Wholly unprofessional, and a lapse from the BBC's usual high standards. You should give Mr Galloway some time in the very near future, with a different interviewer, to develop his argument without constant interruptions.
Ah well. Passions run high. But tellyhacks should never feel they're more important than elected representatives.
See what you think. I made it a complaint rather than a comment and I've asked for a reply - so of course you'll be the first to see it.
And now it's a lovely day, so I want you - if you possibly can - to go out and do something nice. Treat yourself. There's no point in getting into a state about things you can do absolutely nothing about. Leave that to Mr Galloway.
Written and published before the tragic events in London
Due presumably to excess demand, Blogger was unable to publish yesterday's Teatime Update (London Olympics and latest G8 developments) until ten o'clock at night. So here it is, in full...
1. There can hardly be anyone on the planet who doesn't know that London has been selected for the 2012 Olympics. Me, I'll be 65 then - praying there's enough money left after building the Olympic Village to put me into a nice home. Shady Pines.
It would be nice if only those who supported the bid were asked to pay for the end product, but I just don't see that happening. It's the rich wot gets the pleasure... (Property developers are already frantically queueing to suck on Tony's dick, btw. Contracts.) Balfour Beatty shares jumped 25 percent on the announcement.
I hear George crashed his bike into a policeman. Was he arrested and searched?
Due presumably to our demands here at Naked Blog for more coverage of the G8 activities, who should be there on BBC Breakfast this morning but Bush n Blair for a full nine minutes. It was only 8.45 in the am, and frankly - no matter how well-paid you are - that is asking a bit much to emote at that early hour. It was a jerkoff.
A jerkoff about climate change. President Bush said very nicely that he recognised there was a problem but that the solution would have to be a new one, incorporating what's best for the developing nations. India and China. That under Prime Minister Blair's great leadership we would make some progress. He said he'd spoken to the policeman he'd crashed his mountain bike in to, and he was doing fine. (He didn't mention the all-expenses-paid trip next month to the White House for the cop and his family, but I'm sure it'll get slipped in more subtly.) You read it here first, btw. Oh, how such predictive wisdom can be a burden on my shoulders!
Today is sunny but not sneezy; it's not even ten o'clock; and I'm meditating then outta here.
Scotland seems so far to be riot-free.
Many of you will know of my own personal contribution to climate change, which is not to cause any by unnecessary cleaning.
This is what a mouse looks like if you don't clean it for four years. (And all this time you thought I was making it up!)
(Post-London extra:)Flickr seems unable to cope. My mouse picture might have to wait for a less stressful day.
And so today the leaders of the world's richest countries meet to discuss how to help the developing world. Or - if your name happens to be George Galloway - the world's biggest criminals are in a luxury hotel where they should be incarcerated and kept. Or - if your name happens to be Gordon Brown - you announce you can't end poverty with one meeting. (One? I thought there'd been G8's since whenever.) Or, of course - if your name happens to be George Bush - then you're gonna give it straight to those goddam frogs and limeys that they better keep toeing the goddam line, or who knows where the next bombs might drop? Wink, nudge, ken whit ah mean, pal?
Misinformation, disinformation, no information
Be honest. How much do you know about the agenda at Gleneagles today?
Well, I can tell you. Next to nothing. And there are reasons for this, which I'm now going to lay before you.
The reason you know so little is because that's the way they want to keep you. In the dark, and covered in shit. It's called the "mushroom method of propagation." In the last few days the media could have moved mountains, clamouring for this, demanding that, but what has happened instead? What have you seen on your TVs?
Paul McCartney. Robbie Williams. Madonna. Wimbledon. The Olympic bid. And riots, riots, riots. What a godsend those skirmishes have been! Ask anybody about the Gleneagles G8 in future and what will they say? Riots! How much will they know about the issues at stake? Nothing! I bet you didn't even know there's been an entire "G8 Alternative" conference taking place in Edinburgh - on serious issues. (It's had next to zero coverage.)
Look at BBC Breakfast today, on what should be this historic occasion. Natasha is in Kenya - one of the twenty most corrupt countries in the world - smiling radiantly and chatting to rich schoolkids. Dermot's in Singapore wasting time till the Olympic decision is announced. Sian sits on her own on the red sofa, and everybody knows you don't hit girls.
Oh, and what a coincidence G8 and Olympics are on the same day? Coincidence my sweet jacksie! If you believe that, you're a much bigger mug than I thought you were. (Incidentally, more lies and mendacity have been put about over this Olympic for London bid than maybe even for the G8. Fingers crossed for Gay Paree. Let them pay for it - it's only a TV show.)
So I rest my case. There is a deliberate campaign of misinformation taking place before your eyes this week. Orwell had a word for it. Oh yes, there'll be earnest G8 debate on Newsnight no doubt. For half an hour, as Africa sinks back into disease and starvation, having had its hopes so cruelly raised by Mr Geldof. But on the main programmes, the ones that people actually watch, there'll be next to gloriously nothing. Singapore, rings of steel, and riots, riots, riots. If only those people had the slightest idea how well they were serving the masters they profess to hate.
And yet, and yet...
(...and this one is maybe too off the wall even for me.) What if the G8 leaders actually paid the rioters to follow them around the place doing exactly this? Think about it... and then think what else you've ever learned about G8 other than riots. Hmmmm. (You read it here first, btw - but that won't stop others nicking it.)
1. There can hardly be anyone on the planet who doesn't know that London has been selected for the 2012 Olympics. Me, I'll be 65 then - praying there's enough money left after building the Olympic Village to put me into a nice home. Shady Pines.
It would be nice if only those who supported the bid were asked to pay for the end product, but I just don't see that happening. It's the rich wot gets the pleasure... (Property developers are already frantically queueing to suck Tony's dick. Respect.)
Well, the anarchists came and went, and had some battles with the cops. One guy on the telly, looking respectable, said it was clear the cops were enjoying themselves. A lot of them were from England. A lot of the anarchists were from all over the place.
Me, I chose a quieter side of town, in the Royal Park adjoining Holyrood Palace. Cops were everywhere. I counted at least twelve between the Regent Bar and the start of the grassworks proper. The Palace was completely fenced off with the most ingenious thing - a fence made of triangles... like an end-on view of a bunch of Toblerones. This means that it's physically impossible to get across the fence, without first finding yourself inside it. By which time you'd presumably have been shot 980 times by one of George's security guards with his automatic repeating gun thingy.
Yellow roadblocks were there also, with 2,600 KG stencilled on them in big black letters. Presumably so you couldn't lodge a complaint after totalling your car on one. (I didn't snap them in case the cops thought I was an anarchist.)
It was good, reassuring, to see so many officers there, protecting the peace and the law from those who would destroy it. In the eighties I hated them, for acting as Thatcher's agents and crushing their fellow men in the miners' strikes. But times change, people change. Thatcher is doo-lally, Scargill silent, the last teaspoon of coal has long been mined, but somehow I still seem to be here.
I made a point of greeting the officers, and saying thank you. I don't suppose they get much thanks. Some of them had stripped off their yellow jackets and sat on the grass, half naked, tattooed and smoking. I didn't speak to those ones. Might have seemed too forward. A trifle gay. (Decades ago wild horses wouldn't have stopped me. I'd probably have asked for a light and sat down and joined them for a mo, little hussy that I was.)
Two Years and A Day
Popped on to IRC yesterday for a mo, and noted that it was Independence Day. For me that means only one thing - independence from tobacco. Yes NB-fans... it was two years ago on July the Fourth that tobacco last touched my lips.
Some of you smoke and would like to stop. Here's the most honest stuff I've noted.
Good things about stopping...
Hugely, vastly improved health. (Note - this won't apply to younger smokers, who haven't yet had their airways totally fucked.) Mine were - fucked - but have staged remarkable recoveries.
More money. This of course is relative. When I first stopped I was buying things with gay abandon; now I'm just as broke as ever.
Less smelly. (Not that anyone would notice, as everyone I know smokes their heads off.)
Bad things about stopping...
Eternal vigilance. (The need for.) This is the one that worries wannabee quitters, who feel they won't be up to it - for ever. And I'd be lying if I said it wasn't sometimes an issue.
Two thoughts only have stopped me having even one single puff in these two years and a day. First, smoking guru Allen Carr's observation: "There is no such thing as one cigarette." And second - the vivid recollections of my coughing half the night, every night, enough to shake the bed. Hacking, barking - enough to wake the dead - or at least the neighbours. And waking up every two hours to smoke because my body demanded its nicotine. Yes, I was that hooked.
The monstrous coughing, and that alone - far more than money or hygiene - will hopefully keep me stink-free for the rest of my natural. And yes, so far that thought has easily vanquished any passing desire for a wee relapse. Even when walking past half-naked, handsome cops chugging on their Regals. (Maybe they were joints! Hehe.)
WHAT'S SO GR8 ABOUT G8 ?
I missed the Trevor McDonald interview with El Presidente, but did see one snippet where Bush was indicating he owed nothing to Tony Blair. "Tony Blair did what he did for the British people." Makes you wonder if there's any point to G8, if all it is is the United States dictating their intentions, and the other countries listening. Surely they could just email or even blog it?
And what's up with Blair jetting all over the place like this for the Olympic bid? Singapore is a significant time shift. How's he gonna make his after-dinner speech at Gleneagles? When he got off the plane at 'Pore he was barely lucid. (I could tell, because I study these things.)
Please, please let Paris get the Olympics. I can't afford any more income tax. Really, I can't. The thing about Blair and Coe is that it's not their money they're splashing about. It's yours and mine, and I really don't recall being asked.
Hot on the heels of our rave post on Saturday, BBC4 last night goes and repeats the Modern Review programme. Plus Julie on her dead dad. Plus an hour on the NME. Glory days.
(I used to get the NME you know - when Julie was three, so I guess she wasn't in it then.) Eagerly we'd sit in Modern Studies classes poring over the chart - Gerry up five places, but Freddy down a couple. Oh and look - there's Cilla slipping off the bottom! What a rockchick! Glory days.
My Fujifilm Finepix seems fucked. Look at the wrong exposures on the latest set. Either blacked out or whited out. The blackouts you can kinda rescue up to a point, but not the "overs". Time I was upgrading my camera, methinks. Time I was upgrading my job, too. Becoming quite a little consumerist of late, and you can't play the games without the kit.
Yesterday's post is depressed, and shouldn't be read by anyone. It's notable for the appearance in the comments of Jimmy, a G8 rioter. We're that anarchic.
Saturday was Make Poverty History, Sunday Stop The War Coalition, and today it's Anarchy in the UK. (Anarchists' Carnival of Full Enjoyment.) There are also anti-nuclear demonstrations at Faslane.
To date my involvement in G8 has been small approaching zero. I watched Madonna singing a few lines beside a young woman snatched from death by Live Aid twenty years ago. Very moving, with Mrs Ritchie in tune (if her vibrato a little harsh), so if my watching that saves any more lives, then that is what I did.
Strange how time changes people. Quarter of a century ago I was full-on with so many things... most of my life really has been an enactment of what you now can only read on these pages.
I wanted to make a difference. To use what communication skills I had to make the world a better place - especially for my people. But now those very people do nothing but ridicule and reject. There's surely no society on earth more cruel to its elders than that of queens.
So fuck them, I say now. I wouldn't lift a solitary finger. Not piss on one if he was on fire. For nowadays I just aspire to a hopefully pleasant death. "Nothing else for it," as my bingo ladies (rightly) say. Roll on sixty. Can't wait.
Don't know why I put that above. Maybe just to tell you that not my entire life has been spent as yesterday - playing solitaire and tetris while the young world marches past my window. Alan goes to Stop The War.
(Today's post brought to you by our "whining, self-pitying, drama-queen tosh" department.)
KNEE-JERK VERSUS NO-JERK... some notes from embattled Edinburgh
Yesterday was Make Poverty History, today it's Stop The War Coalition, and tomorrow Anarchy in the UK. (Anarchists' Carnival of Full Enjoyment.)
What grand titles! What sweeping hopes, dreams and desires! It would be a churl indeed whose heart wasn't moved a jot by all of this.
So, there we were yesterday - Edinburgh all over the news - competing with places as wonderful even as Philadephia. How glorious the USA always sounds, and how tawdry in comparison seem places such as Hyde Park.
I didn't watch the acts, partly because of work - although the young ones seemed glued to all available tellies - and partly because... well, those as long in the tooth as moi have seen it so many times before. To no or little avail. Plus I hadn't a clue who anybody was. Who Joss Stone, for instance? I've heard of Sharon Stone, and even Biz Stone, but who is dis guy?
Edinburgh Not Brought To Standstill Shock!
Stewart writes that because every "ordinary" Edinburgher stayed home, then any impact was solely on the news cameras.
"It was the quietest Saturday ever in the city centre. Looked like everyone else (other than marchers) left town. Without an audience of shoppers the demo impressed only the media. The BBC lied and claimed the onlookers were 'jammed 5 deep'. On an ordinary Saturday the pavement is 'jammed' 20 deep with shoppers."
And he's right of course. Sarah too says her pub had one of the quietest Saturday nights ever.
But that's just fine. This is a media event - circus some would say - and ordinary "real" people are required only to stay at home and watch TV. Yesterday it was claimed that one third of the world's population was watching Live 8 stuff. So, is it really good to have one third of the world sitting in front of television sets? Mr Geldof is too young to remember a world without TV. But I can. And so can Paul McCartney.
And of course don't overlook the chilling backdrops to all the TV interviews. The so-discreetly placed sponsors... AOL. Nokia. Truly there can be no show without Punch. No goodness without badness. "Debt relief brought to you by those wonderful folks at Microsoft! Mammon always, always, gets its oar in. It's just the way things are.
STOP THE WAR! (Or not.)
To today then, and Stop The War Coalition march. Technically, and in every real way, I could go on that march. Something to tell my grandchildren about. (An unlikely future occurrence, but you never can tell, what with stem cells and clones and things. Progress.) But you know, I've never, ever been on any march or demonstration in my life. Partly I'm just not that sort of person... far too timid... and always looking for the quiet life. And partly because I can almost always see two sides to an argument.
Maybe the war shouldn't be stopped. Maybe the USA is not the Great Satan, and Blair not the definitive poodle. Maybe B and B acted in what they thought were the best interests of the Iraqi people. Maybe they still do, fearing worse bloodshed if they leave too precipitately.
I don't know. I simply don't have the proper information to form a reliable opinion. And I strongly suspect most on today's march won't have either.
And finally... is it just me, or do you too get slightly uneasy at these parades of the richest showbiz people on the planet wringing out their hankies so publicly over poverty? Do you feel that too?
There is one, and only one genuine response to the world's problems, and that is to get off your arse and do what Mother Teresa did. Without that, you might as well shut your well-fed trap. Me, I'm not prepared to do that, which is why you won't ever see "causes" being promulgated here. Hypocrite we ain't.
Don't miss yesterday's thrilling article about Julie Burchill, btw. (Post below.) I betcha she's got loads to say about Live 8, but I refuse to buy Murdoch publications.
Enthralled beyond words last night to watch an hour about Julie Burchill on BBC4. When Toby met Julie - the story of The Modern Review. The joy to see and hear her at last, rather than merely read and bask in her words.
And what a shock! Strange voice, Queen Vic accent, and frankly awful teeth! (Upper Left Three visibly missing, and I think probably more.)
And all that cocaine! Makes you wonder how the woman's still sitting there capable of lucid speech. And boy how she was. I'm convinced JB never says a boring sentence. Gripping. Thrilling. How I basked at her proximity - the word made flesh.
(Other people appeared on the programme - Toby Young, Cosmo Landesman, Will Self - but they were as maggots in comparison. Moths to the flame.) Amazing stuff. You see, what you probably don't know is the extent to which Burchill made blogging possible in this country, and the heavily personal directions in which it evolved. Yes, really. Her Guardian work, with its style, daring and range, so inspired the early Britblogs (including Diva and NB), that there is a definite traceable line.
That established bloggers only rarely cite la Burchill these days is a mark of how far we've come in finding our own voices and readers. You should move mountains to see that BBC4 programme.
Babes and Sucklings
"Peter'll ken," said Malcolm behind the bar at the bingo. "Yep - I'll ken," I replied, not kenning at all what was to come. "What's G8?" this young man asked - typical teenager, keen on one thing only.
I took a breath. Keep it simple, but keep it true. Three young staff were listening.
"G8 is where the world's richest leaders get together and plot how to keep rich by screwing the poorest countries - but at the same time pretending to help them."
"Oh is that all?" Malcolm said. "I thought it was more exciting."
"It could be exciting," I said, moving off to earn my salary, which is not as political commentator. "There could be lots of trouble on the marches."
Today my bingo is open, but many are shut. Many shops too have boarded up for Mr Geldof's duration. Live 8 is on all day, but thankfully I'll be at work. I do remember the last time, I think. Was that the one with Dire Straits and Jessye Norman, or were they singing for Mandela or somebody? So much protest, I get confused. Julie would know.
Yet none of it will move the might of the World Banks one iota. For money has no morals. Its only purpose is to grow and reproduce. Like cancer. Or a virus. Nothing and no-one, not Bush and certainly not Blair, can alter its progress for a moment.
But just in case I'm wrong...
Saturday 2nd July: Make Poverty History march, assemble 11am sharp at The Meadows.
Sunday 3rd July: Stop the War Coalition march, assemble 5.30pm sharp at The Mound.
Monday 4th July: Anarchists Carnival of Full Enjoyment, assemble somewhere in Princes Street. Towards the West end. Around mid-day. Ish. If you like. Or later. Or earlier. Or anytime really. Or not, if you don't want. That's cool as well. Really, I don't want to oppress you, man.
Readers in here for the long haul will be well-used to my various itis-es. Laryngitis. Arthritis. And now rhinitis. (That's the posh name for hay fever, btw.) Incidentally - there should be a one for "drama-itis" which is what happens when you get drunk and verbally violent and go around the place writing rubbish in people's comment boxes. (I'm getting better at that one. Better at not doing it. But still there are slips.)
Michty me! Yesterday was rainy but that didn't damp down any pollen my nose could detect. Still sneezed my effing head off. What a drama. Cigarettes don't help either.
Port they were all smoking their heads off. Black Swan for a smoke-free pint, then Village which might have been OK except for one guy (nice guy) who was smoking while he was chatting to me. Interesting talk, but I had to leave. Niagara nose.
Back to the Port, where the ex-smokers now held sway, celebrating the afternoon's historic smoking ban vote. (Post below.) There was Andy the emu farmer, Tony my IT Manager, Dave the celebrated snapper, and me. Ex's to a man. Mary, the legendary publican, who famously has vowed to go directly to jail rather than enforce a smoking ban in her pub, was absent, but daughter Eilidh was representing her.
"It'll be fine..." I said to her, about the ban. "Get rid of all your scumbag jaikies at a stroke. They'll be dossing it up in flats in Cadiz Street and such, and your pub'll be filled with middle classes like it used to be. Writers... photographers... IT professionals..." I was trying to inject some optimism, but she didn't look convinced.
We played bingo. Eilidh called the numbers, once Andy had ascertained that even the Scottish Champion Bingo Caller (me) couldn't really make a bunch of numbers sound very interesting.
"Call 46!" he ordered.
"Four and six, forty-six," I intoned.
"All the eights, eighty-eight," I replied, knowing fine what was coming.
"What about two fat ladies!?!" he demanded. "Not used," I said. "Sexist, size-ist and potentially confusing. Thousands of pounds are regularly at stake - not just sweatshop teddy bears from the subcontinent."
"Then why are you bingo caller of the year (Scottish Winner)?" he asked, incredulously. "Because you have to find other ways of entertaining without banging on about fat ladies," I explained. So we played the bingo with no fat ladies, legs eleven, or even dinner for two. Dave won a drink of tequila, and several people got packets of crisps as consolation prizes. Very civilised. A taste for Mary of what a non-smoking pub could be like.
Don't miss yesterday evening's post below, in which I get as close as I can to "proper" journalism without taking the piss.