Naked Blog

More famous than Susan Boyle!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

TRUPHONE

No less than three new pieces since this time yesterday. Enjoy.

Update: And here seems to be a fourth...

Indebted to Richard Bloomfield, formerly of this parish, for this article on truphone. Seems to be the biz. Could phone my two overseas friends for nothing. Or next to.

Although my Nokia N95 8GB comes VOIP-ready, provider Vodafone disable that feature for reasons of greed. Richard is having a different problem, but which at present boils down to the same thing.

In a sense I'm kidding myself, as I never phone anyone anyway. Currently wasting 498 contracted minutes and 997 texts per month. But a man can dream of a more friendly future, surely? So what's the gossip on truphone? Is it really too good to be true? Haven't there been (several) similar wheezes over the years?


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SUMMER HEIGHTS HIGH

This finished last night, ever so slightly subdued, I thought. There was a hint of a different ending, dark indeed, but this didn't materialise. As if Chris Lilley was saying, "Look what I could have done, but didn't." (I don't want to give out any spoilers, unlike the Radio Times which specialises in them.)

Summer Heights High is an extraordinary work, no less so than for the ending, which featured a (possibly spoof) message from the Australian Government stating that Australian Public Schools were just fine, and every Australian child got a good education.

Would that that were true over here!

So what now? Everything's open for a second series, but will Lilley have the material? It was looking threadbare at times during Series One, and we've already seen the three main jokes... his brilliant characterisations of camp drama teacher, truculent Tongan schoolboy and rich bitch schoolgirl. Pics



A couple of weeks ago a middle-aged Aussie couple plonked down on the bench beside me half way up The Mound. "Lot of hills you've got here, mate," the guy said, panting obesely. "I'm sure you've got bigger ones in Australia," I replied, guessing the country. (New Zealanders go ape if you call them Australian, and it can be difficult for the northern ear to tell them apart.)

I mentioned Summer Heights High, as Neighbours and Kylie are not really my scene. Half expected them to hate it... poofter dressed up as a schoolgirl. Where's the Fosters in that? But no. The woman said it was very popular back home, and that the guy (Chris Lilley) got a "Logie", I think she called it.

The man pointed towards Princes Street in the July sun and asked what that "dirty steeple" was. I said it was the Scott monument. I said Walter Scott was an earlier version of Chris Lilley. They took me seriously.


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ANGER OF THE GODS

Yesterday I wrote a scurrilous little piece, suggesting that man's dangly bits can be used for non-reproductive fun. Sex without babies. Sex without the opposite sex. Sex without anyone else there at all, in fact.

And God was not Pleased.

He sent fire and brimstone, thunder and lightning.

And rain, lots of rain.

(All of this and more in that very post below. I'm not making it up.)



But God (clearly in Catholic mode), didn't have his specs on it seems - and rather than smiting my home, smote instead my workplace just a few hundred metres away.

That's right. The bingo is flooded. Full house. So I've got the afternoon (and maybe evening) off! Thank you, God. Sex is for making babies only, ya hear!! To Hell itself with Onan and the Sodomites. (What a great name for a band, btw! You saw it here first.)

LAUGH? I NEARLY STARTED...

Great news over at me old mucker Alan Sharp, the world-famous author and mountaineer!

Because as well as those things, Alan is now an official stand-up person too. Paid, I'm imagining, although he doesn't actually say as much. A semi-finalist in the prestigious So You Think You're Funny competition.

And I'm jealous of course. Happy for him, too. More happy than jealous. Because every bingo presenter is a comedian wannabee. He's on in the Fringe, so of course I'll have to take in the show. Sober.

So exciting. We love it when our friends do well.


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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

DR ALICE ROBERTS: DON'T DIE YOUNG

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The BBC seem to have some mission to promote reproduction. Never mind that the country and planet are overpopulated almost to three deep, the Beeb both in its animal shows and human constantly exhorts us all to "fuck, fuck, fuck".

Take the show in the title. Dr Alice Roberts: Don't Die Young. Tonight was titled "male reproductive organs" - by which I presume she means penis etc. The dangly bits you see, and the cancerous ones you don't.

But hang on a mo!

Reproductive organs?

Aren't we over-egging the pudding a little?

Let's think a little outside Dr Roberts' and the BBC's loop...



Now, it is reasonable to call the EYE a "seeing organ", as that it what it does, all of the (open) time. Fine to call the HEART a "pumping organ", as that's its sole occupation, foetus to the grave. But REPRODUCTIVE? Moi?

Not at all, Jose.

In fact, if you were to take one thousand males, aged zero to eighty, I think you'd find reproduction featuring in a couple of dozen of them at the most.

Woops. Here comes the lightning. God doesn't like this post, I can see. Next they'll be wanting gay bishops.

No. Simply no. The most common (sexual) use of the dangly bits is for masturbation. Quite non-reproductive. At certain times, possibly for fifteen minutes in a heterosexual man's life, they might make babies with a lady, but most of the time they sure as heck don't. Otherwise we really would be swamped.

Lightning and downpour. Four seconds.

Dr Roberts mentioned two or three times that "sex can be very pleasurable." This was illustrated by two attractive young people, one from each gender. So far so cliched. Me, I would BY LAW, at times like that, have an on-screen caption saying OTHER FORMS OF SEXUAL PLEASURE ARE AVAILABLE. By law.

Three seconds. Better get this published quick, or there'll be no more reproducing from this neck of the womb.

You see, it's not someone like me who's been around most of the blocks, who really matters here. It's young people, those who can't know any better. People being brainwashed into thinking that the penis is solely for reproduction. What bollocks!

Footnote

Pleased to see our little ditty above hitting Google Page 1. As it rightly should.

Naked Blog: bringing you all the news that really matters, since 1997.

Thanks to mike of troubled diva for the title suggestion, now implemented. In fact, so fabby was the title that Google indexed it before the post was actually written, when all there was available was "Test Post". Such is the awesome power of Naked Blog. Do not try this at home. But do go there and click on our link, s'il vous plait.

The good times are back again! Coming soon: single post archives!!


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Saturday, July 26, 2008

MIGHTY AND DESPAIR

Don't get me wrong - I love you wonderful commenting people. Makes it all worth while.

But of late the comments have been almost totally restricted to the pool of faithful friends. Almost no new. None.

And why is this?

Well, I set about finding out. The John Barrowman post below, however worthwhile or not in its own right, was actually part of a Big Google Experiment.

History

Naked Blog, although not quite such a large enterprise as Google, does in fact pre-date it. So in the early days, when the internet was young, and there was no BBC site, nor Guardian, virtually my every opinion would end up on Google page 1 within half a day.

This was heady stuff. Glory days. Embarassing at times, as not every utterance was that noteworthy. But still it happened.

Then.

But this is now.

The Barrowman post below has the exact title of the programme it glosses. Was completed within an hour of the show ending. Contains no swearing, nudity or adult content. So how far up Google page 1 does it appear?

Well not very high. Not actually on page 1. Nor 2, nor 3, nor 4, .... nor 40 where I stopped.

It has simply been Google-erased.

Now. I know the internet is one zillion times larger than in days of yore. And I see the same sites cropping up all over the Barrowman Googles, often dozens of references to the same site. mansized. tvscoop.tv. digital spy. (And of course BBC and all the newspapers.) But... my own piece is worth reading, I'm assertive enough to say. I'm disappointed that Naked Blog has sunk so (Google) low... possibly because of the gaps in recent months. And I'm determined to claw my way back - partially - as those nineties days are gone for ever.

So, do be prepared for the occasional "google trap" piece. Things I'd normally include in a compendium being singled out for their own post and title. That's really all you'll notice.

Naturally I'd welcome any and all suggestions and advice. I made the internet what it is, godammit!


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Thursday, July 24, 2008

JOHN BARROWMAN: THE MAKING OF ME

John Barrowman is an actor. Some people are important and positive in gay life, and JB is one such. Por qua? Various reasons. He's handsome and clean cut. Intelligent and healthy-looking. And - crucially - they let him act in children's TV. That last one is a sea change in societal acceptance. Do not underestimate.

In this somewhat thrown together show Barrowman attempts to find out "why he is gay". The more sensible question would be "does there have to be a reason for being gay?", but let's pass on that. We already have an hour of riches ahead.
Readers here for the long haul will have heard me saying over the years that all of such questions, and in fact all of "gay research" is fundamentally and irrevocably flawed. I, and I alone seem to be the only person who fully understands why this is, and this show did nothing to change that. But - on the mistaken level on which it operated, the programme did some good. Sorry I can't tell you why all of gay research is wrong, but I have my old age to think about, and the book isn't finished yet.
John began by consulting a long line of clearly gay practitioners and researchers. You could tell they were gay because they were all attractive and aged between 25 and 35. One of them had blonde streaks. There are no gay men outside those ages. Once there was one called Quentin Crisp, but he died, and now they're all between 25 and 35 again. Bitter? Moi? But all of this poking and magnetic probing led exactly nowhere.

So they talked to John's parents. This was actually far more revealing than any brain scans, the way Barrowman immediately reverted to the Scots accent of his youth, rather than the fake US he normally affects. Quite startling. They did finger length, gay genes, MRI scans, the lot. Nada. John had no gay characteristics there. The only topic on which he did score was a childhood thing called "Gender non-conformity". And John was a bigtime non-conformist. He had lots of Barbies. (Still had them, in fact.) And he had Sonny and Cher dolls.



Me I fully sympathised. At seven or eight I loved to wear my mother's high heels. Button my raincoat round my neck Superman style. Even joined the church choir cos you got to wear cassock and surplice. Played with girls when you were supposed to be playing with boys. And then vice versa.

John seemed badly to want some label. "I am gay because of X." And then, in the final reel (as is the custom with showbiz) he got it. And I confess this one startled me as well, as I thought I knew the lot. It's a thing about older brothers. Simply, men with older brothers are more likely to be gay than those without. By big figures, especially if you consider families with four or more brothers.

Now if that's statistically valid, then it's chilling to the very bone. But they quickly spoiled mattters by starting to guess why. Moving from fact to fantasy. Figures to guesswork. It's a womb thing, a researcher said. Maybe women generate immunity to maleness, the more males they carry in the womb. Having a male inside you is very foreign, he said. Well, so is having a female who's half someone else, I would have thought. But what do I know. John it turns out has one older brother, and also a putative older brother miscarried. And he was delighted.

It's true! he gushed. That's why I'm gay. It's the way I was born, not my environment. (Ignoring the fact that the womb is one huge environment.)

So John is happy. And he's such a regular guy, unlike Freddie, or George or Elton - all a bit dippy. (Or dead.) Regular John has older brothers, so he's allowed to be gay.

And still no-one asked the correct question. But I did.

BBC iPlayer
Picture, story and comments (Recommended)


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HOT NOW, SUMMER IN THE CITY

Wotta Scorcha! My bingo ladies have taken to fanning themselves with unused bingo books. The boss, astute as ever, is cashing in by selling household fans at a bargain ten pounds. They look good, and are almost silent. Me I get ten percent commission, but sense my claim they're "just the thing for hot flushes" didn't go down too well.

Tough.

Something ghastly has bitten the back of my right hand. Or laid eggs there. I'm waiting to see if it gets better or starts to hatch. Outdoor boy. But who amongst us doesn't harbour the thought of a million tiny spiders bursting out of their body?

Enjoying Doom 2 without drugs. So retro. Did anyone play it straight in the nineties? Iconic.

They've made Amy Winehouse into a waxwork. Why?

"Batman Arrested" Oh what a great headline! You have to wonder if the whole thing isn't one super publicity stunt. A few days ago I saw The Machinist, one of Bale's earlier works. A dark film, in every sense. Mysterious. Or would have been, were it not for the Film4 announcer: "Trevor Reznik hasn't slept for over a year, so you don't know what's real and what's imagined."

Fuck OFF!!

Never mind that the film-maker used talent and effort to create the "what's happening here?" sensation. Never mind that. Let's just give the game away before it's even started! Gits.

NO PLANS

This city is ruined, possibly for ever, by the tram works. So many local shops closing, their trade driven away by dug up roads and pavements. Tourists vowing never to return to such a bombsite. Posters springing up saying "Tramworks For Edinburgh. Ripping The Heart Out Of Local Business." My pet shop has closed. Nowhere nearby to buy darling zoe's litter now. Others follow daily. Hanging's too good for them. I've said it before: Edinburgh is too important and too beautiful to be run by elected amateurs. It needs protection from the very people supposed to be protecting it.

High frequencies over at Leith FM. Monday morning I tuned in on my way to the Pentlands, and there was nothing but shite music on for 35 solid minutes. Not one (un-recorded) voice to be heard, and this at what I would have thought was a prime time. I texted Stewart the station manager, but promised not to blog his reply. It's "talent v officialdom". Heads might very well roll. They're all going on a cruise tomorrow, around the River Forth. Hope nobody gets shoved overboard. No business like show business.

And there we have it. All the news that's fit to print. Hoping my hand doesn't erupt into tiny spiders. Off to Morningside charity shops right now with Sam. Whenever I get to Morningside though I want to climb a Pentland.

Tuesday I went up Arthur's Seat. No grouse butts. (But if the council had their way there'd be a MacDonalds and a Phones4U shop up there. Just like Mount Snowdon in Wales.)


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Monday, July 21, 2008



THE BLACK HILLS OF DA PENTLANDS

This big lump is Black Hill (501m), which I'm just about to tackle. Gonna start to the right, then contour across left following a line of grouse butts.

Black Hill is ugly and boring. I once took a poo at the summit, so I feel the hill is part me. P x


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POST OF THE WEEK (NOT QUITE)

Ta to all at the illustrious POTW for considering our little sheep tale this week. I quite liked it too, even if I say it myself. Click on "View Shortlist".

However - pipped at the post by a very lovely piece... about the writer, rather than a dead ewe. And writing about yourself is the essence of blog. Heck - we've even been known to do it a little in these quarters.

Off to da Pentlands today, for a change. (Not.) Could get sick of there, but it's by far the most time-effective way to get hill fit. Must buy a car. Life's not a dress rehearsal.

Thanks to the very lovely mike of Troubled Diva for the nomination. Today it's summer!


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Saturday, July 19, 2008

SMOOTH OPERATOR

Smoothies R Us!! Oh yes.

Ever since I discovered Lidl smoothies at 69p, as opposed to the Innocent brand for which you can stick an extra pound in front, I've become a huge fan. The next step clearly had to be to make my own. OK, I never cook, but even a moron like me can chop a bit of fruit or veg and press an ON button. The machine I got was from Woolies. Ready, Steady, Cook model. Twenty seven quid. Seems OK, but the jug is a bit tight on the base, so I greased the relevant parts with a bit marge.
Incidentally, a smoothie machine is just a blender with tap. Quite unnecessary. If you already own a blender then you're there.


Smoothie #1 was just three pears. Put them in whole and pressed the magic button. A tiny bit pear stuff flew up, and then nada. I poked the pears with the poker tool. Plenty of noise, but still no smoothie. So I cut them up into chunks. Still very little result, until I added a touch of water, and the thing took off. Delish, if I say so myself. Drinking pears rather than eating them. Quite heady. They'd been in the fridge, so were nicely chilled.
But smoothies are all about combinations. So I rushed out to Scotmid and bought lots of fixins. Carrots. Tomatoes. Apples. Bananas. Yoghurt. Honey. All so cheap, apart from the honey.
Smoothie#2 was banana, pear, yoghurt and honey, and to be honest it was only a limited success. I kept adding more of this and that (clearly you can't subtract), so ended up with a litre of greenish gunge which didn't taste too bad, but looked atrocious. Like vomit. It was then I realised why smoothie bottles are covered in pretty plastic, so as to obscure the sight of the realite.

Smoothie#3 was apple and cottage cheese. (Yumm!) But it was time now to bite the bullet and try some veg. Man does not live by fructose alone. In fact, both of the smoothie books I've bought go out of their way to ORDER you to eat other things.

Smoothie#4 was tomato with a small bottle of yogurt and mint sauce. (To be honest, I'm sure there was something else, but can't remember.) And I've also smoothied grapes on their own, and carrots. I'm gonna add something to the carrot goo though, as it's a bit, well, like watery carrots!



Weight is plummeting, and I've not felt hungry once. Recommended. After studying every smoothie book in Princes Street Waterstones, the one I plumped for was Smoothies and Juices by Gina Steer. Tenner. Although it's fun trying things out, it's good to have someone else do that for you.

Smoothie machines are very easy to clean. You simply add water and whizz it. Would that all of life was like that!

Any nice smoothie suggestions?


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Friday, July 18, 2008

RADIO TIMES

So you'll be wanting to hear all about Wednesday! (For those on another planet, Wednesday was my first stint on BBC radio. Well, second if you count Radio Scotland Blogday, in 2003 or some such year.) But that was all pre-recorded. This time alive, alive-o.
This post should clearly have been written on Wednesday, not two days later. So much for immediacy. But then I'm now an official elder statesman of blogworld.
BBC Scotland is a Glasgow-based operation, for some unknown reason. Mebbe Kirsty Wark. Glasgow doesn't hold a candle to da Burgh for culture, society, or even topography, but that is where it is, and that is where the show was coming from. There are studios in Edinburgh, of course, and these are in Holyrood Road, opposite the Scotsman newspaper building, just moments from the Scottish Parliament.



That's a rather grand way of describing it. The more prosaic would be that I was shoved into a cupboard behind a pub. That's right. George Kerevan, a Scotsman journo, and myself, in a tiny closet behind The Tun bar opposite Pizza Express. (It's your licence money, folks!) "Hello, I'm George Kerevan," this guy announced, hovering over the BBC coffee machine. (Quite tasty coffee.) "Hi," I replied giving my name. We didn't chat that much. Mustn't give too much away to the opposition. George was representing print, you see, whilst I was noo meeja. I'm guessing neither of us will see fifty again. Or even more, in my case.

The handsome desk man showed us into this closet, as I say. About big enough for a toilet and wash hand basin. There was one mike between us, a little elevated. My every urge screamed to pull it towards to me, but I resisted. Instead I tried to move my chair closer, incrementally. Told George I'd researched his work, but could find only politics. I'd been told by the radio he was a restaurant critic. Restaurant I could cope with. Politics no way. The sole interest of a politician is his job. That is the beginning, middle and end of the story. All else is spin. "In these hard times you write politics with your right hand and restaurants with the left," George joked. Nice one.



Now, I'd only learned five minutes earlier the structure of this radio guest spot. I (and George) were the guests - in Edinburgh - while the host, Fred MacAulay, was in Glasgow. We were to communicate only in speech and headphones. And when I'm broadcasting I try never to wear them. They obstruct full control of the voice.

But no option. George and I sat there, just a couple of feet apart. In moments this man might be tearing the blogosphere to ribbons, and I was to be its sole defender. Oh it's happened umpteen times before. I remember a stitch up the Sunday Times Scotland did on us all, via Gordon. Nippy. But what would you expect form Murdoch, who demands nothing less than global monopoly?

"Is this to be a hatchet job on blogs?" I asked, when it came to my turn. "No, not at all!" both Fred and George assured me. I was nervous at first. Hear it in the voice. More from the headphones and the situation. But then you relax a bit, and it ends up really just like phoning, where you don't see the other person either. Fortunately I'd seen one photo of Fred MacAulay, so that was the mental picture I clung to.

George got the first few minutes, and then it was me, me and me again. More me than I'd actually prepared for, to be honest, not on the topic at all. If only I had a bunch of blogfacts at my finger tips...

Oh there were some. Some spots mentally rehearsed. So I fell back on a trick from the late, great Quentin Crisp:



(Quentin voice). "When appearing on television, it's important to have one good story prepared, and then be sure to get on to it. So if you've prepared a pretty tale about your mother, but they ask instead about your father, then you reply: 'He's fine, and I'm glad to say my mother is too...'"

Get the idea?

So when Fred asked me about blog lawsuits, of which I knew next to nada, I quite skilfully (if I do say it myself) dodged and answered instead about Heather Armstrong and "dooced", which I had mildly rehearsed. Dooced means getting fired because of your blog. Thinking on your feet. Break dancin, man.

The key thing about radio is to keep talking. It doesn't matter that desperately what about! "Um," "Er," and of course silence are the things to avoid at all costs. So we did. "MacAulay is more about stream of consciousness," George said, as we shook hands and parted. Nice man. Handsome desk guy had been replaced by a chick with fuck-me specs. Me I wandered the streets for a couple of hours before work. Didn't think about booze.

Thanks so much to Urbane Lassie of My Salad Dressing Days for the op.

Wednesday's MacAulay and Co is here. I start around the 8 minute mark, for about ten minutes.

Very soon: smoothies...


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008


MacAULAY AND CO

Hello to any new visitors from BBC Radio Scotland. I'm writing this after the show, in Princes Street Gardens, to show the immediacy of the medium. Thank you for dropping by.

You can hear the show here. I start around 8'00"


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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH

This true story from yesterday is quite sad. Do not read if etc.

I shouldn't be sitting here, writing to you like this. In just over twelve hours I'm guesting on national radio. Radio Scotland. The theme is old media versus new, and you can guess which corner I'm in. Across the ring will be a gent from a leading newspaper, and the topic is on the lines of "Death of the Critic". I was selected because of the variety and range of criticisms on da blog. Plus I give good mike. Stewart my pal the manager of Leith FM says I'm the only person he knows who can start speaking the moment a camera or microphone appears. We shall see. After it's finished I'll point you to the "Listen again" feature.



Yesterday's walk was unusual, very emotional. It was the Pentlands, where I train for hill-fitness. Flotterstone to the top of Turnhouse Hill is the first and best part, just over 1000ft ascent, which I can normally do without pausing. Well, there was plenty of pause on this occasion.

I was telling Sandra all about it this afternoon, but she said the story was too upsetting. We were sitting outside Loch Fyne I think it's called - that Newhaven fish restaurant where Harry Ramsden's used to be. We always sit outside, due to Sandra's unfortunate tobacco habit. Just as well I'm an outdoor guy! We had coffee and shortbread. Nice coffee and a reasonable price. Inside are a restaurant and shop. You might like it.

It was near the top of Turnhouse Hill where I noticed two sheep still way above me. White blobs in the green. Neither of them moving that much. Then as I got closer I saw why. The one lying down looked very unwell indeed. More than unwell... dead. (I gleaned that due to it not running away at my approach. Although they sometimes play possum.) A few feet further away a lamb was grazing on the rapidly yellowing grass. Breakfast at 400m. Autumn coming early, due to complete lack of summer.





"We could go to Ocean Terminal", Sandra said, as we drained our coffee cups. "I don't want to get home till five thirty." Sandra takes in overseas students, and she's training them not to appear till half past five. So she didn't want to be in. So we went to Ocean Terminal. HMV. She bought some Sharleen Spiteri. I said I'd seen her on Graham Norton, and was impressed.

I felt I should report this dead sheep. Couple of summers ago there was one died over at Nine Mile Burn, and it just lay there for a fortnight, bloating with gas, crawling with insect life. In the midst of death... I fished the phone out of my rucksack and called the Pentland Rangers. They know which field belongs to which farmer. All very organised, although there seems to be a move towards cattle at the moment, rather than sheep. Sorry I haven't got a GPS reading, I said to her, but I described the position quite well. And while the phone was out I took a snap of dead mom and baby.

Then something awful happened. Unexpected. The lamb finished eating, and returned to the body of its mother. Nudging. "Get up, Mom! Look after me!" But that Mom was never getting up. Stringy red stuff was hanging where her eye had been pecked out. I didn't zoom in on that, out of respect. (And horror.)





After HMV we did a few clothes shops. Sandra got herself a nice reversible top and then to Waterstones for a Smoothie recipe book. (Earlier I'd indulged myself with a Smoothie machine from Woolies. Just 26.99, whereas Debenhams were asking seventy quid for theirs.) And even as I'm sitting here bloggin atcha the noo, I'm feeling the rumblings down there of banana, pear, grapes, yoghurt and honey. To be honest, it looks like puke. I made a litre.



When I saw the lamb looking so forlorn, I grabbed the phone again. "Oh my God, there's a lamb here too, and it's in distress over the dead mother," I bleated. "You've got to get someone here to rescue it!" But Ranger Lady was not sympathetic. "I've reported your find to the farmer, and a shepherd is coming up to deal with it," was all she would say. Officiously, somewhat. Like don't bother me with sheep emotions.



Me I sat and waited with the lamb. Half an hour probably. Here it is, in front of its mother. Maybe it was wrong of me to take these photos. To foist human emotions on to a much less sensate creature. But hell - I've got a dead mother too... and I'm guessing some of you reading this will know the feeling also. I waited till the cloud got thicker, and I really had to continue my walk... five hard hours ahead of me. Soon the mist obliterated what the hill didn't itself conceal, and I was gone. On the return there was no trace. I picked a yellow flower and put it in the grass. One of Sandra's young charges was there at quarter past five instead of half past. She wasn't amused.


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VIDEO KILLED

I'm on the radio tomorrow. No - not Leith FM, estimable though that is, but something rather larger. The BBC. That's right. Details and "Listen Again" later.

So - now I've GOT to write something starry to retain the millions dozens of new pairs of eyes. Was gonna be dead sheep. Hmmm.

Many thanks to Urban Chick for the nod.

An overnight sensation after fifteen years!

Excuse me while I go and meditate. And don't you come back without some tissues.


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Friday, July 11, 2008

DEEP DEPRESSION

Yesterday's day off was modified and re-arranged because of weather forecasts. Carol in the morning (she of the wonderfully sincere demeanour - how does she do it?) had a huge swathe of blue water over the entire north of England and south of Scotland. With the 25 percent chance of a Significant Rainfall Event over Dumfries and Galloway.

Wellies and umbrellas then, I think we'd agree.

And yet, and yet...

No rain actually materialised. None. Not one drop. Nada. It was so dry you could see cacti springing up over Leith Links. Any drier and you'd have needed Olay Regeneris just to leave the house. Dogs lolled on the sidewalks, tongues hanging listlessly in the drought.

So yet another potential outdoor day ruined because of idiotic forecasting. What's up with these people? And once again my Lidl Weather Station was exactly right. (To be honest, it's showed cloud for over a week. Might be stuck on cloud.)

CATHODE RAYS

Yesterday saw the launch of Labrats, a new comedy series on BBC 2. (I use the term comedy in the same sense as the weather forecast above.) Homegrown, unlike the bought-in wonderful Summer Heights High.

Labrats was certainly packed full of jokes, but unfortunately only two of them were funny. What a turkey! Well, at least the laugh track seemed to like it. But wtf. It's only my licence money. Any one of you reading this could have written a funnier script.

GADGET SHOW

As a non-smoker and non-drinker (and don't get me started on celibacy!) as all three of them, I often find myself with money to spare. Well, that's nonsense of course. I occasionally find myself in the position of being able to make a purchase without denting my monthly balance too much. Usually this is outdoor stuff. I lost count of the new boots and foot remedies that came into my home in preparation for the Lairig Ghru. Twenty miles, some of it over boulders. Lost count. But my feet absolutely floated!

So yesterday, after the Botanic Garden (I avoided their over-priced coffee and cake this time) after that I found myself in Debenhams Home Department in Ocean Terminal Mall. There I saw microwaves with grill. Smoothie makers. Bread makers. (Someone told me home-made bread is to die for.) And you know what? All the above priced around the seventy pound mark. This credit crunch is making everything so damn cheap! Except petrol, mebbe, but that's just for polluters. Could hardly breathe in Princes Street yesterday with all the bus fumes. Need a mask. And they talk about Beijing.

HOW MANY GAYS...

Came in from work on Wednesday night to find my washer had quit mid-cycle. Dead. As a dodo. Not a blinking light to be seen.

Oh my God, I thought, as the bills totted up in my head. Three hundred for a new washer. Or one hundred for a repair. But no. I simply changed the fuse in the plug and voila! All sprang back into life. Thirty pence? I'll have to buy a new fuse, as that one was taken from another plug. Felt so butch, with a screwdriver in me hand. Moi.

ACTIVEX THIS!

After the ActiveX Scare in the post below I thought I'd check them out. You can see your installed ActiveX controls by clicking
Tools/Manage Add-ons/Enable or Disable Add-ons/Downloaded ActiveX Controls (32 bit)
Then you can investigate each one and see whether you need it or not. Think I'll check out Futuremark and PopCapLoader Object. Both sound as dodgy as a chick with a dick.

LIFT UP MINE EYES

Must check out the Scottish Mountaineering Council. Quite fancy their Mountain Leader (Summer) course.

HEAVENLY HOST

After more than a decade it's time to quit Naked Blog's present host, and migrate to me old mucker Tony. Any load times of greater than three minutes should be reported in the comment box.

It will be bizarre beyond belief to Publish this blog to a new location, but the present people are bleeding me dry. This feat brought to you by the Twelve Steps, as in the drinking days I put it off for about seven years.

BOTANICS

Here's some pretty pics from yesterday's botanic visit, all taken with the Nokia N95 8Gb. I note the iPhone 3G comes out today. Why?









Have great weekends all!


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Thursday, July 10, 2008

HACKED TO BUGGERY

There I was, idly glancing at the Grauny website due to the inclemency of the weather, when what should my eye settle on but an article about internet hacking.

So I clicked on the article, as you do, to be greeted by a message saying, "This site is trying to run [can't remember]. Click here to run this [can't remember]"

So I clicked there, and then up came a warning bar inviting me to Allow ActiveX Control.

And because it was the Guardian, I allowed it.

And then, before you knew it, my hard disk was spinning like a washer on speed.

I truly think hackers have hacked the Grauny's hacker page.

I'm hacked. Now what?


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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

HI HO

Do you know I'm really still a bit tired, even three days after Sunday's mega-session on the Glencoe mountains? Yesterday, for the first time since I quit drinking, there was even this slight notion to have a pint. Didn't, of course, but the thought was there. So I drowned it with coffee and cakes.

The Terrace Cafe in the Botanic Garden has a location to die for, but oh dear me... two quid for a tiny cup of Americano, and much the same for a cake. At least at Starbucks you can get an enormous coffee and toasted fruit bread for three pounds fifty. So I did. After I'd had enough of the gardens, that is. Next time in the Botanics I'll take a wee flask, and a couple of cereal bars. Sit outside amongst the squirrels. I'm meant to be saving money... not giving it all to rip-off coffee outlets!

PUZZLE CORNER

Scanraid is back (must have paid his hosting bill), so I got my sudoku solved eventually. There was Simple Colouring on 8, which revealed a Y-Wing on (28, 12, 18) then Swordfish on 2, which I really should have noticed myself, and which would have solved the puzzle in its own right.

However, with some trepidation I downloaded and installed this new (to me) Sudocue, which proved interesting, and invites further exploration. It's written by a guy called Ruud who seems to be some sort of sudoku world champion. Respect. (I very rarely install things on Brad, because my experience is the more things you put on a computer, the worse it gets. And I've been computing for a very long time, since ZX81 in fact, so I know exactly what I'm talking about.) That's partly, apart from moral considerations, why I never "download" stuff. I've heard those sites have more infection than the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

MENARCHE BISHOP

Talking of morals, I couldn't help dropping a comment on the Grauny website yesterday about the Church of England's latest hand-wringing over women bishops. Should they have them or not? This of course is the height of irrelevance to any normal person, and that is what I said on the Grauny. "Hilarious" was the term I chose. Well, you could have knocked me down with a crozier when what should I later see but so many subsequent commenters also describing this topic as "hilarious". Guardian readers are so easily led!

Here the total boss of the Church of Scotland is/was a woman. (I don't keep up on these matters. But I know there was one. She spoke at the Queen's Wedding Anniversary.) Oh, and incidentally, the Head of the Church of England is Jesus, not the Queen. Her job is Supreme Governor. Guvna.

RACE RIOTS

Oh, and talking of England, I do hope none of my dear English readers was upset by yesterday's remarks about rich English people coming here, buying up huge chunks of Scotland and then flouting the Scottish Law. Sadly Scotland is very much owned by outsiders, and this does lead to an understandable gripe. That comment was aimed at Paul Lister and no-one else. But it would have been disingenuous and overly PC not to have mentioned his non-Scottishness. Me, I'm half English myself, so have no big claymore to grind either way. I did come here decades ago, but never with the idea of taking over.

Summer Heights High continues to plumb ever deeper depths of delicious discomfort. Luvvit.


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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

WINDOWS XP SERVICE PACK 3

Don't install it. I've had SP3 for two hours now, and can say it's pretty rubbish. Hangs MSIE 7 every time you close it. Can't download web images and puts that empty X instead. Offers no discernible benefits except to (a few) corporate users. What a rip-off!


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BUTTERFLY EFFECT

So there I was yesterday, Sudoku-ing away while my legs and feet recuperated from a hefty hillwalking day indeed. Made Lairig Ghru seem like a walk in the park. (Park. Geddit? Cairngorms National Park.) Spent a whole day on one puzzle, until I'd exhausted every avenue.

So today, in order to put that behind me, and make some progress with my life, actually DO something, I logged onto my usual Sudoku solver called Scanraid. This excellent program would polish off my puzzle in ten minutes, with step by step details of what it was doing..

Excellent, as I say, when it's there, which today sadly it wasn't. Oh dear.

Hit Ma Google then, and found my little pointer dancing towards a new thing (to me) called Sudocue. But - crucially - Sudocue is an app which you download, whereas the aforementioned is a web-based app. And to download it you need Microsoft.net. Up to date version.

Discerning readers will already be guessing where this is going...

That's right! First you have to update your Windows Updater, then you press Express Install, and then what should appear but Windows XP Service Pack 3.

Just when you were still loving SP2 with its fabby Moviemaker app, what should now turn up but yet another goodiebag. What this time? Built in iPlayer? Sudoku-to-go? Hunky Studs Waiting By The Phone? (Locally.) The possibilities were endless...

Oh, I'm bored with this now. The install hung. And then it didn't hang. But hang and not hang both took ages. Two hours in fact, and I still have neither Microsoft.net nor Sudocue, nor even my puzzle solved. And XP SP3 seems to offer no noticeable improvement on SP2. (But there's a warm Windows glow from knowing I've been a good boy.)

GOTTA EAT

Hungry too. Got to get out of the house. Haven't seen the streets since Thursday. Thinking Botanic Garden again. Free. Back later, hopefully with a brief story about Sunday, and also a mouse update. (No new sightings. But darling zoe is still on overdrive with her ears.) Got to talk a bit about Alladale and Paul Lister and his proposed wildlife sanctuary. Trampling all over the Scottish law by building a huge fence. No wonder the English are at times viewed with less than enthusiasm.

You might have seen the programme last night. (Update: seems to have been on only in Scotland.) First of six. The Real Monarch Of The Glen. Aching, heartstopping photography of the Scottish landscape, which is the real star. My own view is that Mr Lister should NOT be allowed to proceed with his silly plan, and the fence, already illegally built, should be torn down and the land returned to freedom of access and the right to roam - something very dear to us north of the border.

Why doesn't he just buy an estate in England, and build his fence there? Much intelligent comment on The Great Outdoors.

VIEW FROM THE LAIRIG GHRU



Bet you thought I never actually made it... :)


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Sunday, July 06, 2008

EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES

Independence Day proved a wee bit too celebratory for a couple of my young female colleagues, who after their shift decamped to a nearby house of revelry to continue libations. Sadly however they soon found themselves arrested by the deputy sheriff and banged up for the night in the Town Jail, still in their cute cowgirl outfits with fur-trimmed stetsons and hotpants.

Come morning he handed them back their spurs and told them to "git out of town before sundown"...

(No he didn't - I'm making it up now...)

Off to Glen Coe. Let's hope there isn't a massacre.


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Friday, July 04, 2008

MOBILITY ALLOWANCE

Lovely to see Babs out and about yesterday, albeit the poor thing's on crutches and a moonboot. She broke her foot some time back. Like David Beckham but more of them broke.

Anyway... nice time chatting in the Port Inn, then off to Rocksalt in Constitution Street for lunch. (Used to be Andrew Ovens stationers.) How busy those tram workers seem to be! Bang, bang, clatter, clatter! Whereas in Leith Walk you're lucky if you see one actually moving. Babs said that various of them have had hot action in and around the Street. Seems like it's not just tram lines getting laid!

Jealous? Moi?

We chatted about certain elements in the Village. Things have come to a pretty pass when a gay man and straight can't be drinking pals without evil cunts trying to make something out of it. Rot in hell, I say. And until then get lives of your own, we agreed. (If you want to find someone truly evil, by the way, look for one who talks a lot about church.)

But let me stress this is only a small, mostly queenly, minority. Queens too stupid to realise that the full meaning of gay liberation is the ability to mix with the majority without such slurs being cast. None so blind.

WHORES D'OUEVRES

Lunch at Rocksalt was poached eggs. Babs ordered the Florentine, while I plumped for the usual Benedict. It's my inner Pope. Closet Catholic. We asked about drink, as Babs still enjoys a wee bevvy, but none was to be had. The waitress said we could buy a bottle of wine at Isobar and bring it in, and she would charge us three pounds each on top of that. I said I had no intention of taking a second mortgage to buy a bottle of wine from Isobar. We got soft drinks instead. Babs had ginger beer, and I chose something in a lurid orange bottle which is probably meant to be Now and Cool and Stylish, but actually tasted like piss. Not that I've ever, you understand.

The eggs came with no hint of garnish. Nary a chip nor lettuce leaf. Six quid each the pair. Babs said the Hollandaise lacked zing. I said three quid for each poached egg was steep by any standards. No wonder the place was practically empty.

At Wetherspoons you can get an entire fish and chips, with peas and tartare - and a cup of tea - for just three pounds ten pence. Goes to show. However, I'm sure Rocksalt will do well. Leith has plenty people who enjoy getting fleeced.

Back at the Port Inn we were joined by the lovely Sam and later even lovelier Claudia Escobar. Claudia's doing a fashion show in Vegas, and then Florida fashion week. I said if you want some elderly male models then I'm your man. She said it was purely women's fashions, although salmon skin briefs was mebbe an idea.

Naked Blog. Shaping the face of fashion for tomorrow. What is it about that bizarre Gok Wan, by the way? What is he like?

DON'T SMOKE

Five years today since nicotine passed my lips. Five of the best years of my life. If you are still old-fashioned enough to smoke then just stop. Whatever it takes. Your life has yet to begin.

And don't say you can't because I said that for 46 years and it wasn't true.

Yesterday I bought Memory Map electronic mapping for Northern Scotland. Already had Southern, but we're expanding north. Fifty quid. Which is six days' cigarettes. Or three visits to the pub. Think about it.

Naked Blog. It's the National Health.

In Scotmid I bought three different rolls of rubbish bag, black, green and white. Sadly so far there's no rubbish gone in them.

BROKEBACK BINGO

Today at work it's Independence Day. That's right... celebrating losing the United States. There's to be cabaret, brilliant prizes, and I'm told they've got me a pink cowboy hat. But I just don't see it. My age I'd be better playing the town drunk.

Happy Independence Day to my faithful US readers!


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Thursday, July 03, 2008

SAGATECH

An occasional column on today's technology for yesterday's people

What I was going to write about yesterday, before my home became a wildlife park, was my amazing feat with Blogger. That's right. This fascinating site with its starry dotcom is nevertheless brought to you by those wonderful people at Blogger. Or Google I think we should now call it.

I know various of you "migrated" I think it was called to Wordpress, which was the fashionable thing du jour, but here we tend not to bother with fashion. If it ain't broke, don't upgrade it is the order of the day. So with Blogger we remain.



Sit, drink coffee, verbalise, drink more coffee, go for a crap, weigh yourself, write what you thought of on the pan, PUBLISH POST.

What more could a boy want from an application? You can even do spell checker, but it's not that good, and doesn't learn. Unlike Nokia predictive text, which is absolutely ACE these days. But I digress.
Last night in bed you could have cut the atmosphere with a mousetrap. Rather than hop onto her lovely bed, zoe stayed on the carpet, at the exact spot where I'd trapped the last mouse under a flowerpot. It must have had mega mouse smell. Me I was praying she'd relax into sleep, as that would mean a mouse-free room. And it came to pass.

Half one she woke me with urgent miaows, and I thought that must be the radar gone off - but no... I let her through the house and just left the door ajar after that. Promised myself I'd shift rubbish urgently, but here I am with you, and well, you know the rest.


But Blogger had been acting up for quite some time. Months. That's why the top and sides never get updated, and sloppinesses are left unchecked.
"Your publish request is taking longer than expected. To continue, click here."
That one happened practically every time. I imagined it was the Blogger system overloaded, but I was, as it happened, quite wrong. Then it got worse.
java.net.ConnectException: Connection timed out
That is the Blogger equivalent of a letter from your bank asking you nicely to pop in and discuss the conduct of your account. Before they lend you even more money to drop you deeper in the mire.

I NEED SOMEBODY

So I checked the help pages, and it transpired this was a fault at my end. You have to clear the browser cache and delete the Blogger cookie. But how? This wasn't made that clear, even though the attendant advert for Firefox definitely was. (We're as unadventurous with browsers as with blogging apps. See what you're like at 61 :)
First sign out of Blogger, or nothing useful happens.

To clear your cache on MSIE you click Tools/Internet Options/Browsing History/Delete Files/Delete Temporary Internet files

Takes quite a while. Must be mega.

Deleting the Blogger cookie is more interesting. You click Tools/Internet Options/Browsing History/Settings/View files
This lists every cookie on your machine! Oh my god - as your entire browsing history is laid there before you. Thank God I never go on dodgy sites these days, as your sins would visit you big time. Anyway. There were a few Blogger cookies, so I duly deleted them.

Restarted Blogger, and mardi gras! Published with gay abandon. Then I saw the first mouse, which kinda blotted the copybook a bit.



Today I'm remaining below 100m. Hopefully seeing Babs, as Wee Robert doesn't seem to have materialised with the new window. Because on Sunday it's Fraochaidh (879m), which is exactly the same height as Ben Ledi. Maybe go for lunch. She's out of her wheelchair now, and into a moonboot with her broken foot. There's a nice new fish shop in Leith Walk called Tailenders. Sandra kindly took me there a few weeks ago, when I was still learning not to drink. Nice but expensive. Although I could have murdered a couple yesterday. Babs never has to wear stilettos again, but I never saw her in them anyway. Fraochaidh is near Ballachulish. Yesterday I was inches away from two different mice. And didn't die.


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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

PARADIGM SHIFT

Best enjoyed after the post below

Well, after today's mouse re-infestation it's clear the honeymoon is over. The mouse deterrent effect since darling zoe moved in has abated, and it's back to the law of the jungle.

Last time - two and a half years ago - there was so much stress, lying awake in aural agony every night, listening to the vermin chewing their way in. All night, every night. Unstoppable force. Alopecia set in, and some months later my hair began to fall out - only just now re-appearing... albeit one hundred years older-looking. It's still deserting my body in various places, doubtless to be replaced by the white stuff as and when.



Here's the arrival of zoe, in October 2005. You can sense the relief leaping out of the pages. And you can see how much I've aged in those thirty short months.

Relief until today, that is. (There was another mouse caught at tea time.) But now we're a partnership, zoe and me. She catches and stuns them, then I take over and remove. Together we will prevail. I just have to accept I'll have to do some housework. "Do the cleaning, so zoe can search and destroy," advised asta in 2005. But did I follow that advice? Did I heck. I just let it get worse, thinking that cat beats mouse any day. Just as Delta 32 mutation saved me from The Curse. A pill for every ill.



All of my attention is on zoe, who's strung up like a fiddle string. Adrenalin city, enjoying her sudden starring role. Here, there, her eyes and ears dart. But I will sleep quite well tonight, because she'll be beside me in the room. Her teeth and her claws will comfort me. She hears what I could never hear, and catches what I could never catch. 2005 will not happen again. Then I was alone, defenceless.

As was Andy Murray against Nadal or whoever at Wimbledon tonight. Defenceless. But that's showbiz. Gotta take the knocks, kid. Never forget - it's only batting a ball over a net. Real life is somewhat more complicated, as people from Dunblane are sadly well aware. More news soon. It's lovely to have something to write about you might conceivably be interested in. Hills are a bit exclusive.


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THEY'RE BACK!!

Oh I feel quite faint. Just seen a mouse, only inches from my feet. Zoe! I called, but to no avail. The fat thing is asleep in the livingn room. She'll have to perk up better than this. No wonder she's become fond of the kitchen.

Oh I feel quite sick. Horrible black brownness. Now my hair will all fall out again. It's a nightmare. Zoe will have to take a refresher course. Instead of lying on my chest getting stroked she can get off her arse and EARN HER KEEP.

How I was put on this earth to suffer.

OH FUCK I'VE JUST SEEN IT AGAIN. THIS IS FUCKING SERIOUS. I'VE BROUGHT ZOE THROUGH. sURELY SHE'LL CATCH THE WEE FUCKER. OH FUCK SHE'S CAUGJHT IT . IN HER MOUTH. OH FUCK SHE'LL LET IT GO AND ITLL RUN ABOUT. I CAN'T COPE WITH NATURE IN MY HOUSE.

UPDATE SHE'S LET IT GO IN THE LIVING ROOM AND NOW SHE'S TRUYING TO GET IT AGAIN BUT ITS GONE UNDER MY CLOTHES ANAD I'M TERRIFIED. I CANC'T DIPOSSE OF A HALF KILLED MOUSE BUT YOURE NOT SUPPOSED TO LET THEM EAT THEM CAUSE THEY GET PARASITES. WELL AT LEAST THIS HAS BEEN AN EXCITINIG DAY FOR BOTH OF US.







My entire safety has now gone. And where is the injured or dead mouse? This is not a good day for humans.

PAST CARING

She's just turned up with another one in her gob. Or maybe the same one. Here is is. She's having a field day. I think it's just a baby one. I've got all that stomach adrenalin back again. Violated. Unsafe. Unsure.

But at least the bairn is OK. Refresher course.

Can't believe I'm sitting blogging and snapping while this is going on. Talk about trouper!


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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

WHEN YOU WALK...

A couple from yesterday's jaunt up Ben Ledi (again). Awesome, but you know I find the top quite scary - looking across the tortured landscape of Scotland, shrouded in what seems like perma-cloud. Twice I've been up, and both times couldn't wait to descend. Uneasy. Maybe it's a lightning thing. Or just being so close to the sky, looking down on rainbows.

But - this is why we do it. The pictures speak a thousand words, but actually up there is to be struck dumb. There is a feeling, a presence, of geological torment - that the ground should so rise up like that. Poking into the sky where it shouldn't really be.

Massive is I think the word. Too massive. Strange.

Maybe some day I'll sit and eat a sandwich up there, but until then I'll relish my fear of the plunge-o-rama just feet away.













SUMMER HEIGHTS HIGH

...continues to delight, shock and amaze me. It does for high schools what Merchant and Gervais did for office work. Except that high schools actually matter, whereas offices by and large don't. Do you know I've never even set foot in an office in my entire life?

Chris Lilley lays bare the faults and foibles of this fictional school, and although it's in Australia, the essences still reverberate. In Summer Heights High, the featured "bad boy" is Polynesian, but he could equally be British and display the exact same behaviours. "Fuck off Miss!" "You got your period, Miss?" Camp drama teachers are ubiquitous, always bleating about how "important" drama is, when of course it's the opposite.

It's played as comedy, but is so very much more. In Britain the effect is filtered and diluted by the alienness, but in its native land I'm sure it shocked rigid. A Jean Brodie for the age.

DON'T DRINK

One month today since alcohol last crossed my lips and I feel fine. Keep thinking of all the money I must be saving, but - as always - expenditure rises to take care of any surpluses. Expenditure which these days includes frequent two pound mugs of coffee from Starbucks. Yes - I've sold my soul to the multinationals. Well, there wasn't that much left to sell.
Pros: More money in the pocket. No hangovers. Clear head at work every day. No longer mixing with pubscum.

Cons: Alone more. (Even more.) Missing some of the pubchat, but certainly not most. Some good(ish) blog was written on the thousands of "morning afters". Most of my very few friends not only drink, but smoke as well. It's unfriendly to be perfect.
Coffee is now the only intoxicant, and it might make sense to lose that one as well. Who would ever have thought, back in those ecstatic nineties? Who would ever?

I'm heading for another month sober then. In fact I don't think I'd be upset if I never drank again.

Andy Murray and his right biceps have become instantly iconic. Well - you know what they say... if you've got it, flaunt it. Me I've flaunted it that much I don't think I've got it any more. Sandra says she doesn't care for him. I said it was a mistake to diss England the way he did.


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