New visitors to my multi-award-winning, Bloggie-nominated weblog (twice) might be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about. They might also be wondering where the hell all the posts are. Keep it legal, keep it interesting, but above all keep it coming, as someone once memorably said about blogging. (Me, actually.)
Well, it's all to do with the blog/life balance. When you're sitting in the house, replete with December depression, and wondering if it's actually worth living another hour - why then of course you flop at your desk and pour it all out to the passing world. "If my life's a misery, then I'm gonna make sure you know about it..." But when the dark clouds lift, and the sun rises higher in the Northern firmament, most of us get off our pudgy white winter arses and start to do stuff. It's called "getting a life". Which means not getting a blog. Quid pro quo, Clarice Starling, quid pro quo.
Ok, is that enough preamble? Here we go then...
One, Two, Three, Four - tell the people what she wore...
Oh, and talking of song lines, which we weren't really, but wtf. Talking of song lines, I've become obsessed with American Pie. Obsessed. It's a work of bloody genius. My favourite couplet being:
While the jester sang to the king and queen, In a coat he borrowed from James Dean.
Someone made that up once, you know. Thought of it. Respect.
...and the Celebrity Big Brother results, in which Saint Shilpa of Shetty, closely followed by Lord Jermaine of Jackson, rout the English white trash. Trash who are so punished, they don't even get to go to the party. Take that, you brats! That's what you get for making us squillions of pounds in gutter publicity. Begone! We don't need you any more.
I can think of few scenes more emetic than Mother Superior Davina lecturing and hectoring Lloyd and O'Meara on screen. Yes, they'd both be more suited to an evening at Cruft's Dog Show (all three, in fact), but yes also they are human beings, and as O'Meara timidly said in her own defence, "It wasn't as bad as that. You've made it look worse." Precisely.
I read yesterday that Jade Goody has gone into rehab. Which is a bit strange, as she showed no signs of being addicted to anything. The Priory. Where are the cameras there, Endemol? Big Rehab. I can just see it. Scumbags.
Whatever else has come from this personally tragic mess, it must be the public realisation of just how low the television industry will sink in pursuit of profit. Scumbags I say yet again. I will NOT be watching trash like this in future.
...and the hills are alive again. In which I indefatigably climb Caerketton Hill and Allermuir, both now snowless and green. On the stile in the bealach, I chat to two middle-aged women, also retired teachers. They're visibly less fit than moi though, so I adopt the Ranger Position. Plus I do know an awful lot of routes now. Later, on the traverse from Boghall back to Hillend, I bump into them again, and we chat some more. I advise them to leave the cars at home, and take buses in future, for better effect. You don't have to do a circular route then.
Later still, in the Regent, Dave the Writer and Drew both entertain me with fascinating tales of their ancestry. Dennis the young barman was excitely looking forward to being filmed the next day by BBC TV about his university course. He really is a treasure.
Me I resolve to buy gaiters and a survival bag. Boghall isn't called that for nothing, and my pale blue jeans are once again covered in a layer of nice red mud. There's nothing scarier than stepping onto a grassy patch, only to find it's floating on water. The rule is keep going calmly, making no sudden movements. Hmmm. Mebbe if I was lighter that it would have worked. Squelch-o-matic.
"Bleepity bloop," the phone went, around 9.30 of the am. "Bleepity bloop." The sound startled me, as no-one's phoned since about September and I'd quite forgotten the ringtone. In my day they went "Ring, ring."
Now normally I just ignore the damn thing and get on with what I'm doing, but this time I thought... "That might be Sandra..." And it was.
"Hello..." Sandra said, tentatively. "Hello!" I replied, with more certainty. "Do you fancy - " "Anything!" I interrupted. "You name it and I'll do it."
Greater love hath no man than this for his friends. Unconditional agreement to anything.
So, after re-acquainting with Molly the cat and Cherry the black part-Labrador, we set off along Cramond seafront for a wander. It was really quite cool and blowy, so we pulled hoods up over our woolly hats. We aimed to walk as far as the Cramond Island causeway, but I could see Sandra was looking a bit chilled around the cheeks. She's not quite such an outdoor girl as moi these days, although of course I owe everything in that field to her. Everything.
Post stroll, we went to the Cameo (Commercial and Admiralty) for lunch, but they were refurbishing, so chose instead the Old Dock Tavern in Dock Place. Sandra had the chickpea salad while I plumped for chicken breast in tomato sauce. Smoked salmon on rocket to start, and chocolate and apple cake with ice cream for postre. Nice. And just six pounds 95.
We split then, and I wandered into the newly refurbished Port Inn in Constitution Street. Eilidh (rhymes with daily) told me the Edinburgh Evening News are bringing out a monthly called The Leith Gazette, and they've asked Mary in the Port o Leith to write a blog for it. Could be good. Certainly no shortage of characters or events. It's kept this blog going on many a dozen occasions! I guess everywhere's a soap deep down, but some places are more soapy than others.
Anyway, as I left I think I quite annoyed Eilidh by saying she should get rid of the adverts on the radio. "People don't spend good money to have ads shoved down their throats," I opined. She was livid, I could tell. But I'm right, I know it. Mebbe invest in some Bob Dylan and Rolling Stones CDs, like the Regent has, I advised. It's no wonder nobody likes me. Haha.
To that very Regent Bar then, and Dennis the pleasant barman who hadn't been filmed by the BBC after all, because his University didn't like the line they were taking, involving Rab C Nesbitt. So he ended up on the radio just. "That's wonderful, darling," we all insisted nevertheless.
Hi Ho. And off to work we go. This completes the busy half week of a top international blogger. Oh, nearly forgot. "Lord" Bill Gates was in the Scottish Parliament yesterday, just down from the Regent Bar. He didn't pop in for a pint though. Probably off to Mary's instead - chuck out a few pirate copies of Windows Vista to the jaikies.
Thanks for your many and varied comments, which I will reply to ASAP.
A couple of weeks back I remarked that the Google Adsense Company had ordered me to cut out the swearing. The page they quoted, from 2002, was a bit "sailorish" I have to accept. This was a collection of seaport tales from right here in Leith, Scotland, peppered with realistic dialogue. But no worse than you would find in any modern novel, or even literary supplement. Definitely no worse. I might be 60, but my marbles haven't altogether deserted me.
So I wrote to them, pointing out how stellar Naked Blog really is, and that they shouldn't listen to their spiders - who wouldn't know an interesting story from an edition of BBC Newsnight. And a few days later they replied, saying my site has been "examined by specialists", and they're pleased to tell me it fits all their criteria.
Well, not really good. Not entirely. Because now the shoe's on the other foot. Today I've had to pull the Google ads completely because their of por*nogra*phic and ba*rel*y leg*al content. And where does this material come from? It's from the eBay company. (Sorry for the asterisks, but believe me, they're necessary for those words.) They say you can get anything on eBay: well that's where anything can damn well stay. Not on my page, thank you. Tried blocking their URL, but the adbots get round it.
"Honest Guv - it wasn't me, it was eBay." "Aye right, pal. Tell that to the judge."
This time it'll be me writing to Google and doing the ordering!
Quote of the Year
From Margaret Beckett, Foreign Secretary, on BBC TV this morning:
"The Middle East is in a funny place right now."
Well - I thought it was funny.
Celebrity Big Brother
All over bar the vote-rigging. My vote goes to Jermaine Jackson. He's conducted himself with dignity throughout. A really NICE man.
Verdict on the rest: Dirk too weird. Ian too insipid. Shilpa too fake. Danielle too canine. Jack too imbecile.
Darling zoe, my editress, checks out yesterday's Naked Blog. Being a house cat she naturally enjoys outdoor stuff, and especially animal content. Too much pub talk and she gets out the red pen sharpish.
Hi to all my first time readers coming from the Bloggie finalists. This is not a cat blog. Hard to say what blog it is. Neuroses? Outdoors? Depression? Slice of Life?
Funny how truth sometimes gets in first. Take yesterday teatime. There I was in the Regent Bar, having earlier conquered the twin peaks of Caerketton Hill and Allermuir Hill. Snowy.
On the way up I passed a girl coming down. Twenty-ish, quite poshly dressed. Or maybe it was her bearing and stance. Judgements are so instant, you never know quite whence they arise. "Excuse me, which way is it to Caerketton?" she asked. "Back up where you're coming down from," I pointed. "Oh, it's too icy up there," she said. "And I haven't got much grip."
I thought, paused, did I dare say the obvious?
"Get a grip, girl," I laughed, covering my teeth, as I wasn't wearing my partial denture. She laughed. We both laughed.
To be honest, it was a bit icy further up, and steep too. One slip and you're tobogganning - into God knows what and how hard. So I climbed up the grassy hillside instead, which always grips, even though it's damn hard work.
"Lifetime Achievement," Drew was commenting. (Readers who follow the plot will recall we were lifetime achievement finalist last year too. That's the one we were discussing over the beer.) "Isn't that for rewarding oldtimers who're past it?" he chortled.
"Fuck off Drew," I said. "That might be true for cinema and literature, but blogging is a brand new medium." They weren't convinced, I could tell. Dave the Writer was being very mischievous, to the point of pesky I would say.
Think I'll stop going there. Always get drunk and start being rude. The gloss has worn off. Familiarity breeds more.
A new barman has started, called Adam. I told him he'd have a very hard time living up to Tui the New Zealander. Dave the Writer asked him about the weird metal badge hanging from his belt. "It's a Vivienne Westwood belt," he replied. Oh.
I'll never understand the young, if I live to see a hundred.
MEDICATION NOMINATION TIME
What can I say? My gob is smacked. Bloggie Awards, 2007
Thank you, thank you and thank you shitloads, my dear nominating friends. Lifetime Achievement Finalist - again. And look who we're up against! Walk in the Park. Nae bother at all. Wtf's heard of Slashdot, I mean!
I must say, having cried my eyes out decades ago over the movie Stand By Me, that it's an amazement of the age I'd be in a finalist list - any sort of list - with Wil Wheaton. He was the first celebrity blogger, I think.
In which I invent a word, in order to search for it, and thus ensure my pearls are fully indexed.
The word I invent is paranomial.
Also, in a "couldn't make it up" scenario to end all such, the racist, homophobic Sun newspaper is now advertising on my site. Oh I could block the URL, but to be honest I'm such a prostitute now I take anyone who pays.
Took out yesterday's laundry and hung it up. Put another load in. Took the second one out. Did January's washing up.
Hey presto! What a clean queen.
The rest of today is for mega-resting, after yesterday's five hour tramp across snow-covered hills.
It's what I do. These days. I don't feel properly alive unless I'm seriously walking once a week.
Conditions were forty miles an hour at minus two degrees, but it remained dry and sunny. Sunny and white! For the first hour there were just my footprints and those of one sheep. Homo-ovine. I followed its track, as the animals always know best where to tread. Take a walk on the wool side.
How dirty they looked beside the snow! Groups of a dozen stood high on hillside paths, immobile, huddled, freezing. How cruel it seemed, that we might eat and dress. Is there no law for farm animals? No SSPCA for freezing sheep without roofs?
Most of the time - which was five hours rather than my usual three - most of the five hours I thought about Shilpa Shetty and Jade Goody, last week the two most written about women on the planet. If we have learned anything from this sorry tale it is never to underestimate the vileness of the media in this country. From Channel Four, now under the spotlight as never before, to the horror of Friday's Sun, screaming "THE FACE OF EVIL AND HATE", with mugshots of Goody shouting. What she was shouting was "Liar" and "Fake", neither quite what I would call evil, but no mind. The damage is done. And the photos eagerly supplied by Channel Four.
To the Flotterstone eventually, and Graeme the barman my new reader. Some chat, but me I just felt embarrassed. So I got to thinking about blogging: is it worth it? The Flot was one of the only places left I could go and not be known as a blogger.
These days this organ is round my neck like an albatross. You forfeit your entire privacy for fuck all in return. Hate it. More exhibitionist than Big Brother.
Preamble 1 At the end of Friday's post I wrote: "I hope none of my adoring female fans aren't offended." The word aren't should of course have been "are". [Ed: great way to get rid of three quarters of your readers, eh? Twat.]
Preamble 2 This post, like all the others on my site, might state the obvious, and repeat what every other commentator is saying.
Preamble 3 We're at number 2 and number 3 for J*a*d*e G*o*o*d*y naked. This is not something I welcome or would have chosen, and costs me dearly in bandwidth charges. I thought those days were behind us now. (Students of my oeuvre will recall entire top tens of "Cilla Black naked, Queen's mum naked, and the omnipresent "Robbie Williams naked with his dick out".) O tempora, o mores.
Getting On With It Then...
Non BB watchers, ie most people, would be forgiven for thinking that Jade Goody spent two weeks in the BB house screaming racial abuse at Shilpa Shetty.
Few things could be further from the truth.
Here are my BB credentials to comment: I've watched every 9pm evening show, and every eviction. Watched every Russell Brand. Watched some of the live feed, but clearly not all.
At no time, that is NOT EVER did I see or hear Jade Goody speak racially to Shilpa Shetty.
At no time, that is NOT EVER did I see or hear Danielle Lloyd or Jo O'Meara speak racially to Shilpa Shetty.
What I DID see and hear were conversations of the above women which included racial content. Maybe three minutes or so, in a period lasting sixteen days. Not exactly the KKK rally the racist, homophobic Sun would have you think. These were simply everyday white people being ignorant. With the manners not to do it in front of a non-white person.
So we ask...
Is it an offence for a private citizen to use racially derogatory terms in conversation? No. Unless he or she is stirring up racial hatred - clearly not the case here.
Are Goody, Lloyd and O'Meara acting as paid performers or private citizens? You decide.
Did Channel Four, by choosing to broadcast these private remarks, incite to racial hatred? Certainly yes. They should pay dearly.
Yes there was tension and hostility from these women to Shilpa Shetty. But these were about other, non-racial matters... her bossiness, control, and insistence on getting her own way in group decisions. Disliking an Indian person isn't racist.
Being a gay man, loads of people dislike me. (I know - it's unbelievable but true.) I have to sort out which bits are homophobic, and which are because I'm a nasty wee shite.
OFF WITH HER HEAD
One thing isn't in doubt, though. The wanton, callous destruction of Jade Goody by Channel Four on Friday evening was television of the holocaust. Horrifying yet unswitchoffable, as the enormity of what had happened sank in to her. So what did she do? She did what women have done throughout time. She fixed her lippy, squared back her shoulders, and got on with it.
Good on yer, hen. You'd be welcome here in Leith any day. And I'll buy a bottle of your damn perfume as soon as I see it.
PS But don't bring Jack. In fact, get rid of him sharpish, and find yourself a nice boy from the subcontinent. Instant karma. You could have your range of Indian snacks on Tesco shelves within a fortnight.
Comment Is Free
Doubt was raised about my recent assertions: "Everyone is racist. Middle class people pretend they aren't."Martin Jacques expands on this in yesterday's Grauny, taking about five hundred words to say what I did in two sentences. "The extraordinary fact, of course, is that no one, or virtually no one, ever owns up to racism."
Naked Blog. When you want the truth, but quicker. And a day earlier.
There's no need to actually tune in any more - it's everywhere you look!
People talked about it on BBC News. Then on Question Time, but Edwina Curry had the edge, as she was the only one who'd seen it properly. Then of course it was all over Andrew Neil's Week in Politics.
Andrew had Krishnan Guru-Murthy who was quietly sensible. He said the CBB was a good show as it showcased real racial chat amongst real people - the sort that happens in every pub and club throughout the land, all the time.
Here I would interject that there really hasn't been that much racial talk, and what there has has not principally been from Jade Goody. Miss Goody incidentally has shown that in describing herself as the twenty-fifth most infuential person in the world, she might well have been overly modest. (Compare her coverage this week with Gordon Brown's, for example.)
Guru-Murthy also opined that tonight's eviction vote, Goody v Shetty, will be a serious commentary on the state of race relations in the country.
Hmmm. We shall see. And I'm stressing again that Goody has made fewer racially sensitive remarks than Lloyd or O'Meara, the former being what my pal Babs would call a "pig in knickers".
Me, I won't be voting, as it's not part of my life plan to give what little money I have to rich TV companies. As I say in last night's little rant below, Shilpa Shetty can only gain loads from all this, whereas the "witches" will be hung out to dry.
Live by the sword, die by the sword. Sort of thing.
Yesterday's storms seemed to have avoided Scotland, which is good. We've had our share. More than.
Tony from two floors down has kindly fixed the aerial, which also good. Even better. I'd lost an entire multiplex (MUX).
To the Regent at teatime yesterday, and chatting almost normally to David the Writer, Nurse David, Murdo and Karina. A strange Irishman called Roger came in and asked to look at my Guardian. Ingrid the barmaid said I certainly attract nutters. But Roger wasn't that nuts. Then a couple of hours bus pass tour and home to CBB.
The post below addresses an issue that most commentators avoid, namely that the ostracisation of Shilpa Shetty might involve gender traits as much as racial traits. "Witches with a capital B", as Mrs Curry suggested.
You decide. I hope none of my adoring female fans are offended.
Eventually they convince even themselves of this, and rush into comment boxes to say so.
The actions in the BB house are certainly unpleasant. Three English trailer trash and an outsider. But what if Shilpa had been called Claudia, and was Canadian? Or Australian - and whiter than white? Would they still abuse her? You bet your sweet ass they would.
Are we allowed to say that "that's what women do?" By which I mean gang up, stigmatise and exclude?
Some women, not all obviously, do me a favour, give me a break, and no men aren't perfect either. But somebody's got to say it.
Shilpa is a controlling and bossy cow, btw. And I sense she's loving every minute of it.
The programme remains compelling viewing, even though they've now lost their principal sponsor, Carphone Warehouse.
Those following the plot will remember that on Monday my shiny new pensioner bus pass plopped onto the hall mat.
Well, after the excitement wore off a bit, I had to go out and abuse myself of it, didn't I? Had to. Oh yes. Sitting around feeling fluey was no longer an option. I'd promised myself over the long December nights that as soon as it arrived I'd jump on the first bus I saw and go to the end of its route. And back again, clearly.
So, as I exited my front door, what should I see but a number 21 - a bus I've never used, and have no idea wtf it goes. No time to ponder though! The resolution was absolute - GET ON THE FIRST BUS YOU SEE. (Don't call me superstitious, but not to do that might bring bad luck.) So I chased it to the stop and jumped aboard. All aboard! Ding ding!! (I know they don't do that any more - but indulge me... I'm a Senior Concession.)
Here's the horrifying bit though - as I fumbled for the card to show him... all he did was wave me on. "Yer all right, pal..."
"I'm NOT all right!" I wanted to shout at him. "Are you saying I LOOK SIXTY? "
So my very first journey with the bus pass, and I didn't even get to flash it. I'm clearly so decrepit that no documentary evidence is required. We don't have much money, but we do see life.
Yesterday. January Blues.
There is a break in the stormy weather, oh yes. Yesterday was forecast as hunnerds of sun and fuck all wind - GUARANTEED. I had to go there. Had to begin the reconstruction of my shattered mind and body after December. Had to go to the Pentlands, in short. Sunny and blue!
Just a little, take it easy, oh so gentle, use common sense. Only the previous day I'd had to cut short my Edinburgh street meanders and whisk back home to rest.
In my mind I mapped a baby day... number 10 bus to Bonaly (Edinburgh's answer to Stepford), ascend gently to Bonaly reservoir, and then choose from the menu of hills available. Possibly Capelaw just, and then the long way (westside) round the base of Castlelaw, taking in the splendid views of the rollercoaster. Round as far as the MOD firing range where the kids train for Iraq and Afghanistan, then descend to Flotterstone via the Alpine Meadow, as Stew and I dubbed it a year ago.
Where is Stewart? Some blissful days last year. Many, in fact.
Because fuck it! There comes a time in any illness when you have to jump up off your ass and MOVE! And when is the time to do that? The time to do that is when you get an urge to do that. Listen to your body. I listened to mine, and had a splendid, gentle day. Sun in my eyes and breeze on my face. Oh yes.
Late last night there came a really nice email from Graeme, a barman at the Flottersone Inn, who'd stumbled onto NB via Ma Google. So my cover is blown now. Number is up. It's always different, once they know you have readers. Hi Graeme and all. You run a splendid pub.
Readers with functioning memories will recall a traffic spike a week ago of 2,300. It was over "I'm the twenty-fifth most influential person in the world." Jade Goody, misquoted.
Now - although we were checking stats here while most of you were still doing A levels, still - even now - this jaded palate gets a little thrill from a big traffic. So I bragged about it.
And now look on my spike, ye mighty and despair. (January 6.)
That's right! The 2,300 has downgraded to a paltry 1,800. And you don't have to be called Vorderman or Einstein to see that's a loss of 500 punters. Or clicks. Or hits. Or whatever. (I never did understand the damn thing.)
Yet, even more bizarrely, the December 22 spike, which was previously the poor relation, the runt of the bimodal distribution, is unchanged.
Why are sitemeter downgrading some spikes and not others? I think we should be told. And rather than leave it rhetorical, like North Face clothing moans, I've written to the boss. Free ads are one thing, but stats are IMPORTANT, godammit.
Here we are, a nation of self-obsessed bloggers, getting along quite nicely with our fans and in some cases even groupies. And now you come along and give self-obsession the worst press it's had since media left the cave walls. It's the end of an era, man. How now can we put finger to key and write about ourselves? Without seeing you. And hearing your self-important deluded voice. A has-been who never really was very much - but lingering forever in those few glory days. At least Dirk Benedict realises when he's over.
This was possibly the most gripping television I've ever seen - and much more apposite to this viewer than Galloway and Lenska could ever be. Leo Sayer has shown, with rivetting clarity, that money and fame are as nothing - nada - when no-one wants to talk to you.
It's as simple, and as horrifying, as that. Real riches are truly not expensive, my chickadees.
So I guess you want to hear about the remaining housemates. The naked truth.
OK then. The main dynamic is with the women. Like any good soap, the men are on the fringes, unimportant. So let's get the penile out of the way where they belong.
Jack, Jade's shag: He's nothing. A cypher, and a not very pleasant one at that. What on earth does she see in him?
Jermaine Jackson: Very surprising, this one. I expected a personality ruined by showbiz, the way his younger brother seems to be, but am surprised to see some serious thoughtfulness and at times profundity. A lesson to me in how not to pre-judge. I'd enjoy chatting to him.
Dirk Benedict: With Dirk I come and go. You have to realise that in Britain we tend to be somewhat in awe of US accents anyway, and naturally he does have that. Take the voice away - imagine him talking like Tony Parsons? Dunno. But he does seem interesting and mature. I'd enjoy chatting to him, but not as much as to Jermaine.
Ian, the only gay in the compound: Nice man. Some sadness there, possibly loneliness too - as like so many gay men he finds he only fits in with the women. If I knew him I'd be sure to be nice always.
PAINT YOUR WAGON
And now the women - after they've spent the morning putting on the slap, that is.
Wow! What a bunch. This is reality TV at its best. A soap without a script, as they form and meld and group and exclude. Like school, but grown up.
Shilpa: What find! Rich, classy and Indian. Shilpa makes a good attempt to "rough it", but her servanted background shows through. Bossy and controlling, and heartily disliked by the white women. She bonds with Jermaine, but even so seems pretty lonely. Commanding presence, and doesn't back down from a fight.
Jo: Bit of a cypher. Contributes very little.
Cleo: I see her as doing tarot readings in twenty years' time - if that's not a sideline already. Much pseudo-profundity. Now the oldest woman there, she has the maternal role.
Jade: Powerful, brassy, yet caring in a way I don't think is purely for the cameras. Has come a very long way from the Miss Piggy days. Top cat without challenge.
Danielle: Oh dear, Danielle - the feminist's nightmare. A hundred years of progress in women's rights, and her entire raison d'etre is to be some footballer's shag. Walkin' talkin' livin' doll - as was sung in the fifties. There was a very nasty bed scene where she, Jo and Jade were gossiping horribly about Shilpa. My least favourite contestant. And all the toy teddies and cuddly white robes in the world do nothing to distract from her scouse potty-mouth.
Strange that the media event of the week got not one moment on Andrew Marr this morning. (The Beeb hates it, for obvious reasons.) They're quick to plug clothing labels, but not so generous with competing channels' programming.
Celebrity Big Brother continues compelling viewing. Russell Brand is ace, but you could tire of him eventually.
Still midlly ill. Still not got a bus pass, although thanks to the previous sentence there's not that much urge to go anywhere. How I was put on this earth to suffer. And gales are so commonplace now, both ouside and inside my home, that we barely notice any more.
This week's plan: to get rid of this damn cold at last, get my bus pass, and go somewhere I couldn't have previously afforded. Dumfries mebbe.
Well, only one real surprise in the nominations: Dirk from the A Team. I thought he would have been pretty popular. Unless... unless... he's seen as a potential winner, and thus has to be assassinated sharpish.
Carol is a scheming and unpleasant person. But she's a journalist. I watched agog at the way she was fondling Danielle after the latter's Diary Room stint. If that dame hasn't visited Lesbos, then they got her boat ticket mixed up. Methinks. Nothing against ladies who like the furry cup, of course. Not at all. But everything against closets.
And Leo, poor Leo. Oh how I hope he gets the boot. He's so full of himself it hurts to watch, truly it does. How I cringe whenever he sits down with a group, and they immediately all get up and leave. Over and over. And his self obsession. And his paranaoid withdrawals. And his being always the outsider, never any friends.
But do you know the real reason I want him off my screen? Some of you can guess. I never want to see him again because he reminds me so very much of myself. It's terrifying.
To evict Leo phone 09011 32 33 13. Calls cost 50p. Mobile and other network rates may vary.
Text Vote: Text LEO to 84466 Texts cost 50p, plus std msg rate
But you should evict Leo for his own good. He needs help. The series continues compelling viewing.
Life's a bitch and then your aerial gets blown down. And it happens just when you want the TV on all the time, on all possible channels, to get your mega-fix of Big Brother.
Yesterday I spent the entire day ill in bed, mas o menos, feebly clicking the channel clicker and gazing with dismay at the pixellated and frozen housemates. Channel Four have sensibly abandoned any attempt at alternative programming, with the one exception of Ugly Betty, which they've plugged to death, and Skins, which they're in the process of doing.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall
I watched Ugly Betty with interest last week, but the verdict is mostly thumbs down. It's not a TV drama, but a pantomime. Think of a not very subtle blend of Cinderella and Snow White and you're there. I'm sure the writers did.
The sound track is ghastly, as the actors mumble their lines, constantly interrupted by bursts of loud and meant-to-be-comic music.
So it gets one naked star just, for effort. And one wonders what Skins will offer that Shameless isn't already serving up. You know it really bugs me when arsehole middle class commentators rave about the "raw intelligence" of shows like this. The "honesty". Here in Leith we have to live amongst those people, and it's no joke.
So how about bringing a little culture to our screens some day?
Today it's strong to gale force with heavy rain. I have to lift darling zoe's plate after she's breakfasted, and not replace it till evening. Orders from the vet. Breaks my heart to see the plump wee thing suffer.
Back to work in an hour, but I feel more ready for a hospital bed.
Adrian Chiles on BBC 1 just ten minutes ago. This picture is fuzzy due to aerial problems, but believe me that North Face logo was loud and proud.
The programme is called "What I'd Really Like To Do", and he wears the jacket throughout. This BBC endorsement is worth MILLIONS OF POUNDS to the North Face clothing company, and my question is simply: Who Gets The Money?
And this is the last time I'll write about this matter, as clearly no-one at the BBC gives a fuck. They're doing it more, just to taunt me.
I'm so ill now that yesterday at work I had to leave the stage and have someone take over. Then I recovered a bit after a sit down.
This is the first ever recorded case where the cat gets the flu jab and the owner gets the flu.
Today it's gale to severe gale with gusts of up to 80 mph. My TV aerial has given up and now I can't get a decent digital signal. To say nothing of the roof, which could come crashing down on me any minute.
Can't BELIEVE how healthy I was just one short month ago. December 19th. Never again. I've even resorted to taking medicine. Boots Flu Remedy, starring ibuprofen and pseudoephedrine hydrochloride. It's a day for bed, soup with mustard in, and live Celebrity Big Brother. (That channel is working better than the BBC channels.) Multiplexes, for those of a technical bent. We'll never get the communal aerial fixed, as that would mean talking to each other and co-operating.
And I'll never live to see that bus pass, I swear it.
Well, darling zoe had her Big Day Out yesterday. To the vet, where she was variously jabbed, poked, prodded and weighed.
She has to lose half a kilogram. Like owner, like pet, then.
Plus she's got gingivitis and plaque.
(Oh - you should have seen her squaring up to the vet as he tried to look in her mouth!) No claws, but she wasn't amused. How he can diagnose all that on the basis of half a second's glance is extremely skilful. Anyway - she's booked in for a day's dental treatment in early February. General anaesthetic. Scrape and clean, then antibiotics. Bless her little heart and gums. A bargain at 160 quid.
My good friend Brett in Florida has his beloved Mr Henry cat die in the dentist's chair some months back. These procedures are not without risk, then.
I asked him about her emotional health. He said he specialises in behavioural disorders, and she didn't seem to have any. He said she was thriving, and I should only consider a kitty companion for her if I really wanted one myself. He said a lot of cats which share are on the verge of emotional disorder. On the verge itself.
Deal Or No Deal
Yesterday I was telling you about an electricity three year price cap from Scottish Power. Clearly this isn't available to all of you(se), but what might be is a very similar deal from Powergen, which popped through my letterbox this morning. (Rather than the bus pass I was hoping for, which still hasn't arrived.) How sick I am of dipping into my pensioner pockets for busfares when legally I really, really shouldn't be.
After the vet I popped up to the Regent, and was able to say a sentence or two to David and Drew. Tui the barman is leaving at the end of this week, to take a chef's position in The Canon's Gate in the Royal Mile. I'll miss him. He's just so genuinely NICE. We swapped mobile numbers, but I can't imagine him (or anyone else ftm), volutarily spending time with a ridiculous old queen. What a nice thought, though.
This morning I woke with my entire nasal cavity and soft palate feeling on fire. Is there no end to these afflictions? Early December I was braving Pentland blizzards and Monsoons - and spitting in their very faces. Hah!! It's so disheartening to have germs reduce you back to snivelling, snotty infancy. I'm even getting scared to go out in case it rains a bit.
Defrosted the freezer. Oh yeah! Used a fan heater to help nature along. Global warming. You could have got a polar bear in there, it was that icy.
Microsoft sent a help page for my crashing IE7. You have to disable your add-ons. I didn't know I had any add-ons, but I duly disabled the ones I'd heard of, like Google toolbar. So now there's no spellcheck for me blog. Brad is quite rapidly following Priscilla down the route of one damn problem after another. Keeps Microsoft in business, I guess.
(I don't actually need any help with spelling, being over a certain age, and having gone to school when teachers taught you lessons.) But the're very beery good for all the typos which pop up when you tyep very fast on a cheap and nasty keyboard.
Celebrity Big Brother continues compelling viewing. For some of them at least. One or two housemates are quite ignorable (Jades bf, plus her from Steps), and should be disposed of. Jade Goody makes great TV, you know. Catch her chatting to Dirk Benedict, who is proving fascinating also. Leo Sayer hovers on the verge of meltdown. This show has efficiently ended any comeback hopes he might have harboured.
Readers must be as sick as I am of seeing BBC reporters promoting clothing chains. "We're there!" as they bleat in their self-promos. And "We're wearing labels!" they might as well continue.
Berghaus, North Face, Timberland... you name it, and some BBC wallah will be flashing it at you from the world's trouble-spots. Idiots. Too young to remember when these things mattered. And they still should matter.
Channel Four manages to obscure brand names on its Big Brother shows - even covering contestants' clothing labels with patches. So how come the hugely more influential BBC can't do likewise with their own employees? And why are they wasting licence money on fashion labels in the first place? Don't TELL me they buy their Berghaus out of their own pockets.
But all this is as naught compared to the Corporation's sucking up to the Marks and Spencer company.
M and S doing well? Let's give them a feature!
M and S slipping a bit? Let's give them a feature!
Sometimes I feel I know Stuart Rose better than Dave the writer or Tui the barman. Makes my blood boil, I can tell you. If I wish to shop in Marks and Spencer, then that is where I will shop. I do not - repeat NOT - pay my licence fee for the BBC to tell me to shop there.
So here's the text I sent them after this morning's five minute plug on BBC Breakfast... worth something like several million pounds, incidentally. It is not anti-semitic, merely asking a valid question. There are many freemasonries, although the gay one never seems to have worked in my direction.
"Free ads for Marks and Spencer now. Same synagogue as someone? I'm contacting my MP over all these."
Now relax back with late last night's showbizzy post about Celebrity Big Brother, Jade Goody and other vital matters. And have a lovely day! Darling zoe is off to the vet later today for her once-over. She gets more attention than I do, I swear it.
New Kid On The Blog
As you know, I can barely keep up with the exciting blogs on my sidebar, but today for some reason my mouse pointer chanced on this one. NHS Blog Doctor. Interesting. All the usual anti-Labour stuff, but interspersed with amoxicillin and angiographs. It's one position above me in the Technoranki Top Ten. Quite a different kettle of fish though. Loads of ads. You wouldn't think a doctor would need that much extra dosh. (I'm a humble bingo caller as you know, and I can manage on just two. Ads.)
I've now lost weight every day for five days. A world record. Look out Kate Moss.
Jade Goody is now a force in the land! She stands there and argues with Ken Russell, the country's greatest film-maker. Oh yes. Nae messin, hen.
Clearly yesterday was some mother of a day in the BB house. And about time. Shame we lost Ken Russell, but then he was no McCririck or Galloway really, was he?
The Goody grandparents were ace. Just perfect. Alf Garnett and Dandy Nichols as I live and breathe, me owld datch.
And then Ken on the sublime Russell Brand show. Was the studio big enough for two Russells? Only just. I've said it before, and I'll say it again... the two most watchable men on TV are Russell Brand and Simon Amstell. I consciously study Brand, you know - looking to incorporate elements into my own performances. His is an awesome presence - physical, whereas Amstell is nearly all verbal. Live too, while Amstell is pre-recorded... the more usual way. Gaily calling his audience "slags" and "morons". Luvvit.
Watt a Deal
As I was rifling idly through the mess on the living room floor today... birthday card here, bill there, even a payslip now and again, what should my eye chance on but something from Scottish Power. Purple paper. Idly I picked it up, and you'll never guess what!
You pay one pound a month extra, and for that your electricity is guaranteed not to rise until 2010. Sounds a deal to me, what with all the talk of energy crises, sky high prices, and piping it in from Russia or somewhere. I mean, how reliable is Russia, ffs?
Well, it was the work of a moment to phone and fix it all up. Brill. Let me know what the catch is, as there's bound to be one :o)
Quick note to new readers, and there are so many. Hi. This site is not a blogvert. Recommendations in the body text are genuine and not, quite not, paid for. Only the two ads are ads, if you get my drift. Honesty is my middle name.
I also phoned my dentist (Friday) and the vet (tomorrow). So darling zoe will be out in the chilly January air. Bless. That's more phone calls than I normally make in a month. Depression? What depression?
Too Much Information, Sweetie
On that same theme, J Arthur popped round on Sunday, for the first time since my birthday last weekend. And, surprisingly - again today. Short visits each time, but nice. (A man needs to know these things in his seventh decade.)
It was a good week, last week, after the December horrors, but there's still the shadow of the trauma. Time will heal. Roll on the sun.
Shock Update, 11.30pm: Leo Sayer walks. Or at least is threatening to. He's been going increasingly nuts over the days - something I quite identify with. Great the way Dirk Benedict tells him to shut up. Benedict has proved a surprise hit with the viewers - could there be TV work for him here?
Got chatted up somewhat in the Regent yesterday by a young man from Eastern Europe. No - not that place! But exotic nonetheless. Bordering the Baltic.
He was 44, with a birthday on the same day as moi. This means he was born when I was having my sixteenth birthday. Thank God you can't really see into the future, or that would have been one helluva shock for my sixteen-year-old brain to take in.
To be honest though, I think he just wanted me to buy him drinks. He did get one, and after that the tap turned right off. Lady Bountiful I ain't. Need a lot more sugar than I've got before you can call yourself sugar daddy.
Celebrity Big Brother
My tip for the day: amaze your pub-mates by saying how much you enjoy CBB, and then sit back and watch their disdain. Classic. Yesterday I did it to Steve, Drew and Ingrid the feisty barmaid.
Your favoured put-down when they loudly poo-poo it: "If it's good enough for me honey, then it's certainly good enough for you." Try that today.
House-wise, not much happening. I did enjoy the first edited hour last night... mostly about the arrivals. In fact, possibly entirely about the arrivals.
Big thanks to the producers for near-silencing Leo Sayer nowadays. Who says they don't read top blogs, eh?
My tip to win: Donny Tourette. There's a serious lack of male totty. In fact he's it. Benedict might have been a possible, although a bit bland, but all that cigar play on the first day made me vomitous.
I do find myself watching our Ken with interest, but mainly to hope that he remains alive.
Anna says I remind her a lot of Dirk Benedict. (Comment box to yesterday's post.) I knew I should have tried Hollywood. Knew it. I mean look at Daphne Moon.
Today I reported a business to the SSPCA. The Rice Box restaurant in Easter Road. (Near Iceland). They have an aquarium under the counter with fish over a foot long trying to survive in it. In a tank of four feet approx.
Boycott the cruel bastards. I hope they get fined out of business.
Following the success of our S*eren*ata flower campaign, the community of bloggers has now identified a new target, Nicholas Hellen of the Sunday Times.
In brief: there was once a blog called Girl With A One Track Mind. Still is, although now it's a book as well. Who knows what next? Boxed set?
This very popular blog isn't on my sidebar, not being quite my cup of tea. Diff'rent strokes. How boring if we all liked the same thing. I'd have no readers.
The blogger and latterly author attempted to remain pseudonymous due to the personal nature of the work, but some time back was "outed" by the Sunday Times.
Nicholas Hellen sent her a shockingly nasty letter, amounting essentially to blackmail. "Co-operate or your mother gets it." Tell me what you think. Then link to that letter, from the words Nicholas Hellen. S'il vous plait. Help keep it at Number One on his Google.
Back to work yesterday - a relief after all those neuroses. Day began with a staff meeting (another one :o). Then an interlude in the Regent (coffee only - a gift from Alan the owner), and then back down the road to work proper.
"Did you have a nice birthday, Peter?"
What can you say... that I was almost to hospitalise? So you brush the question off, easily - as they weren't that interested anyway.
"Not really... full of cold... and all that wind... thought it was going to blow the roof off... " And that was that. End of story.
Betty has died. I loved the old thing. Used to get her bingo books for her, as she could hardly waddle. Shame. Cremated today. But there's no point in going, as the only person I'd know would be in the box and not really registering. Plus I always say if you go to one then you have to go to them all.
Finished with FitDay. It's too American. (No offense, guys.) How tf am I to find a Greggs Cheese Savoury? They don't seem to eat filled rolls at all in the US of A. Not that I could find, anyway. Factor in 10 Minstrel chocolates, fish, chips and beans for tea, a standard meat and potato pie mid evening, a Jacobs club biscuit, and you're lost in space. Hopeless. However, amongst the pretzels, bagels and graham crackers (wtf?) I did spot an entity called Johnnycake.
Your starter for ten: What smasheroo song featured Johnnycake? Bonus if you can supply the line.
So it's sayonara Fitday. Shame. The activities section was excellent (walk is walk, and hill is hill), but we're clearly two countries divided by uncommon diet. Thanks for all your suggestions in the commento box.
A letter has arrived, but it's not my bus pass so I don't open it.
Yes - it's that time of the year again, and I've already got my favourite quote.
Nonentity gay man to Ken Russell: "I've been in New York, and studied Strasberg and Messian (?)."
Ken Russell, looking sideways: "Is that another loo over there?"
OK - here's the jackanory. We have two people you've actually heard of (Leo Sayer and Ken Russell). There's a supposed badboy rocker, Donny Tourette (luvvit!), who's quite cute. To look at. But I'd hate to actually meet him. Smokes and swears all the time.
Then there's Jermaine Jackson, whom I'm sure will turn out quite nuts.
We have a token Welsh gay, as already mentioned. And a token washed up A-Team actor. (Yes, that is what I meant. A-Team, not A list.)
Distaff-wise, there's a scouse WAG, dim as a post (do you see a pattern emerging?), a Bollywood star who's already proving adept at manipulating, and some pal of the late Kenny Everett. Also a journalist.
Must be someone else, as I'm sure there are eleven.
Main thought so far is that Leo Sayer can't shut up. Yak Yak Yak. FFS give somebody else a chance, Leo. You'll be 79 yourself some day. Mebbe.
Visually, Russell is stunning - not quite so as Jackie Stallone, but getting there. Huge head and wild white hair all over the place. Plus he seems nuts as well.
So all bodes well for the next 25 days. Remember - even in previous sleb BBs there's only been two or three you've heard of. (Galloway, Lenska, Barrymore.) The rest you get to know as time passes.
Sick of wind outside the house. Sick of sneezing inside the house. In fact, sick of sub-optimal physical health, as well as mental. I need the hills. Quick.
Update: 1pm: Got to go out. Can't stand Leo Sayer any more. OK it's not his fault, even though he's clearly a gobby wee shite, but they've got him almost constantly on. Where are the others? What are they getting up to?
There's a lot of irritating birdsong passages too, far more than necessary when the company is split. Why not just switch to another conversation? Plus Sayer keeps bursting into song (he's THAT neurotic), and they're all told not to sing or whistle for copyright reasons.
New quote of the day, from Danielle the WAG: "I wanted to be a forensic scientist, but I ended up a model."
Difficult to assess most of the housemates, due to the Sayer effect, above. They can't get a word in.
Ventured outside today, the first time for three days. My, how cool the air feels on your skin when you're a hothouse plant!
Regent first, but it was closed till 3pm. (Scotland has a two day holiday at New Year.) I walked past in the early evening light, gazing wistfully at the people on top of Arthur's Seat, and wondering if an old man could possibly go up there. Then I bumped into Tui the barman, and he let me in to the bar that few minutes early.
There was a nice birthday card from Dave and Heiker and Drew, accusing me of being a drama queen. How very dare they. Murdo came in and we chewed the fat. 'Twas all good. Colin the boss bought me a drink.
Left on a bit of a crawl, taking in the new Floaty Boat, which is called Cruz, the new Lighthouse, which is called The Granary, and the new D One, which is called the Port Inn. Everything changes - nothing stays the same. Said hi to Eilidh (rhymes with daily), new owner of the Port Inn. Plus Sam the chef was there and the legendary Mary herself. None of them seemed over the moon to see me, I have to say - far less being bountiful with the drink. So I'll spare their blushes and not blog about the place.
Soon the light will be returning - between the 10th and 15th, depending on the cloud cover. That first post-four o'clock sunset surely warms the heart!
Must rush now and enter all my food and drink for the day on FitDay. It's extremely tedious and user-unfriendly. Wtf is a jigger? Why can't they use pints for beer? What is it about the USA? Why can't they bring out a UK version? They manage to get plenty of UK ads about the place.
Sick of it already, and it's only day 2. (You try entering a packet of mini cheddars and one of Walkers cheese and onion on a list where they've never even heard of crisps. Agony, I tellsya.) Hoping to top that 3000 calorie mark today nevertheless.
The most stunning television of 2006 was undoubtedly Celebrity Big Brother. (George Galloway, Rula Lenska, Michael Barrymore and Chantelle.) Plus Pete Best and the "gorilla" coat.
"You'll never believe it folks - the fucking coat's been arrested..."
Not even a coven of LA's finest could come up with a line like that. Not even.
The programme united the nation in a way I've not seen since Quatermass in the fifties. Or the Coronation. And it starts again tomorrow! (Sleb BB is OK to watch, btw. You have my permission. It's the pleb version that's just mainly for schemies and Sun readers.)
A nation of bloggers sits and waits, sharpening their pencils and personalities.
The street party in Edinburgh was cancelled at the last minute, which presumably means there are 100,000 angry drunks heading for my house even as I write. They'll all be trying to get into the Port and the Regent.
The London fireworks were fucking ace though - but here you had to watch on BBC News 24, and put up with the station ID and tickertape throughout the lovely visuals. Not totally ruined, but lessened.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again... BBC News couldn't organise a piss-up in a convent.
Here in Windy Scotland we were forced to endure the sight of Jackie Bird's grotesque neck - three feet of turkey leg jumping out of your screen at you.
Either fatten her up, or get her off my television, please. She makes la Beckham look obese. Nice case of Pedigree Chum to Ms Bird ASAP.
Now can we PLEASE be done with the drink and drug-fuelled bonhomie, and get on with our daily lives again? There is nothing more mindless and frankly pathetic than hordes of humans intent on a "good time". Fuck off, and learn where the good times really are.
In Other News
You can surf to THAT Saddam video at the bottom of yesterday's post.
A few months ago, all sorts of blogs went "pink" for a month to draw attention to an illness. This journal remained resolutely yellow. Here's why. There are none so blind...
Oh yes. Just because I haven't been bleating on about it, doesn't mean it's gone away. The weight has piled back on in December, due variously to excuses such as "feeding a cold", "comfort eating," "lager louting" and weather-related inactivity.
Nevertheless, the daily weigh-ins have continued without a break for eighteen months now. Here are the results from the Leith jury:
2005 Average: 13 stones 7 pounds (189 lb)
2006 Average: 13 stones 1 pound (183 lb)
This represents a loss of SIX POUNDS A YEAR. Oh yes.
Or you might think of it as just under TWO OUNCES A WEEK! We don't do things by halves around here, kiddo.
Clearly this is ridiculously slow. So in 2007 I'm planning to speed things up a bit on a site Tony my IT Manager recommended, FitDay. You can see my progress log.