Monday, January 31, 2005

Validated

My love affair with clothes started, I think, when I was four and at playgroup. Our mothers and fathers had each donated numerous garments for us all to play dress up with. I remember that my favourite item was a huge pink taffeta ballgown, not unlike the one that Clare won an award for donning at Jerome's pink themed birthday party last year.

Through the decades I have gradually refined and tailored (like that?) my sartorial sensibility to the point where I now approach potential additions to my wardrobe with a very simple philosophy - fashion lasts for a season, style lasts forever.

Many of us think we have great style, but if that were true the high streets of life would be a non-stop Dries Van Noten runway show. The reality is that we have Beyonce and Christina Aguilera. Now, those girls might be able to belt out a tune, but "belt up", they most certainly cannot.

While my wardrobe does contain the skeletons of fashion disasters (e.g. a 1994 outing to Wild Fruit wearing a pair of black and white stripy Lycra leggings, a floaty polka dot shirt and red Dr.Martin's) on the whole I think that have a pretty good look going on. One that Tom Ford would proudly nod to. That said, sometimes it doesn't hurt to have an objective point of view and while I love all of my friends very, very much there are only a few who I trust to pick me up on a possible fashion faux pas.

Today I got the ultimate validation, only not from a friend. I got it from Trinny and Susannah.

I had just been to a job interview and I was walking down Bond Street towards Oxford Street. I was miles away, listening to "Freedom 90" by George Michael on my iPod, imagining that I was Linda Evangelista wearing the black polo neck sweater in the video. Linda had so much more class than Naomi Campbell who, as always, just got her kit off. There was of course Christy Turlington, who looked beautiful wrapped only in a white cotton sheet. But I chose to be Linda today.

Anyway, like I said, I'm miles away when all of a sudden these two scarily well groomed fashionable looking women pounce on me and start bombarding me with questions. This is before I've even had a chance to take my earphones out. Now, if you are au fait with Trinny and Susannah you will know that they will grab the most intimate part of your body with absolutely no compunction whatsoever and make no bones about telling you to your face that you do indeed have tits like Geoff Capes and a taste in ostentatious jewelry that would make Elizabeth Taylor proud.

I realised the gravity of the situation immediately. This was my moment. I struggled to do several things at once, while all the while remaining calm, collected and eminently stylish. While being filmed. While being scared. Because there was every possibility that I was about to be told that I looked like a sack of shit and made an example of to the nation - i.e., what not to wear.

This is how I recall the conversation went:

Trinny: "So tell us what you're wearing."

Christopher (shaking): "Well my jacket (maroon velvet) is something I found at H&M. The sweater (baby blue cashmere v-neck) was supposed to be a birthday present for an old client, but I stole it for myself. Um, the cowboy boots are from Rockit in Covent Garden and the jeans (boot-cut and distressed) are, er, from H&M again. And the scarf (stripy in autumnal colours) was a Christmas present but I like it because the red matches my jacket."

(No emotion registering on either of their faces. Fuck.)

Susannah: "So what are you dressing for today? Do you dress like this everyday?"

C: "Er, well I've just been to a job interview. I was a bit worried that I look a bit too casual, but I think it's kind of important to give a realistic impression of who you are, not only in what you say, but in how you look. Because in my industry, that being public relations, appearances are often of equal importance to what I actually do. And yes, on the whole I do dress like this most days. I like to take simple tailoring and mix it with a nice pair of jeans and some great knitwear."

(Work, Christopher, work!)

T: "Ok, well first of all..."

(prepares self for crucifixion)

T: "...you've mixed a really great range of colours. Velvet jackets are really in right now and you've been bold enough to choose one in a colour that not many people could wear. I'm also impressed with the tailoring, slim fitting, not too boxy, great considering that it's from H&M. Usually red and blue don't sit well together, but the baby blue sweater under the maroon works, surprisingly. The jeans are pretty standard, although you have picked a good cut. Let's see your bum."

(Susannah lifts up my jacket to expose my butt. Cameraman zooms in. Awesome. Not.)

S: "Now on the whole I always say that it is important to invest in a good pair of jeans. Decent jeans will usually make your legs look longer and thinner and will lift your bum, something equally important for both men and women. However, you seem to have a pretty nice bottom anyway [she grabs my cheeks] and long legs so while the jeans are cheap you actually make them look more expensive. Often it's the clothes that make the wearer look good. It's not often the other way around."

T: "Now the only thing that gives me pause are the cowboy boots. I am not a big fan of cowboy boots, even on cowboys. But if you absolutely have to wear them, only ever wear them with jeans. Boot-cut jeans. Which you've done. So great. Also, as cowboy boots go, you actually chose a good pair - camel colour, suede and buffed leather, with minimal detail and a good heel. And finally I like the scarf. Its length is a little mean, but you're right in saying that the colours in the stripes match what you are wearing. They do - perfectly."

S: "So overall you've created a great look here, mixing a variety of different styles and colours without spending a fortune. Well done."

Then a signing of a release form, a promise from the producer to call me if they air it, and it was all over. Trinny and Susannah flounce off to find their next victim. I doubted, somehow, that they would be quite so kind next time.

So let's recap:

I mix colours well
I accessorise well
I make cheap clothes look expensive

I think it's fair to say that I am now certifiably stylish.

You better know that I'm going to be dining out on that qualified fact for a long, long time.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The quest for the perfect hair

A couple of weeks ago I made a reference in a blog post to my quest for the perfect hair, which right now, in my world, is hair like the cute blonde boy, John, in Gus Van Sant's movie "Elephant".

My hair is currently at that annoying stage where it's neither long enough or short enough to do anything clever with. It just looks like it needs a bloody good cut. The last time I went to the salon was about four months ago when it was chopped short and into different lengths on top, which means that right now my fringe looks a bit thin. It needs more body. However, round the corner, at the back of my head, my hair is doing this kind of "kick" thing, which I think is quite cute.

Anyway, every day I have an "oh, sod it" moment where I decide to get it cut back to it's former short and choppy fame. So far I have talked myself out of it, but it's getting more difficult. If I'm ever to get glorious Elephant hair I have to see this in between stage through.

So, to give me the incentive to let it GROW I thought that I would post monthly pictures of my hair's short-term evolution here on my blog. That way I'll feel really stupid if I do succumb and get it all chopped off and I have to admit defeat to y'all.

So let's remind ourselves. This is what my hair should be looking like (only not blonde):

096_unit

This is what it currently looks like (as of last night):

CIMG0595

It goes without saying that your support during this difficult time is much appreciated.

(I've just realised that my nose looks ENORMOUS in that picture. Look, it's a bad angle, ok?! My nose, in reality is well proportioned to the rest of my face. No, really it is!)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Jesus wept!

Look at Hanson! They're all grown up!

hanson

Now, that's one multi-deck sandwich I wouldn't mind being a filling in. Incest? Pah!

Friday, January 28, 2005

A wall of heroes

I decided to do something a little different with my day today. As well as going to the gym and touring shops that sell numerous things I can't currently afford, I steered myself off the beaten track.

CIMG0559

Postman’s Park was opened in the City in 1880. In 1887 some guy called G.F. Watts conceived the idea of a national memorial to men and women who had died carrying out acts of heroism. The memorial took the form of a wall featuring individual tiles dedicated to each hero. It opened in 1900. Anyone who has seen the movie Closer will be familiar with this wall as this is the place that Alice and Dan begin to fall in love. They'll also appreciate the significance of the above picture that I took.

My primary reason for finding this wall today was to see if this tile really existed or if it was made up for the movie. But clearly, as you can see, it is real and Alice Ayres was a real person. After I found this tile I read the other ones. All of them. It seemed wrong not to, somehow.

After many of the events that have occurred over the past few years the words "hero" or "heroes" have become familiar, much used expressions. But upon seeing this wall and reading what some of these people did (most of whom died over a hundred years ago) made me consider what constitutes a true hero. I can think of lots of examples of people who have been cited in recent times as being heroes. But when I scratch at the surface I start to have doubts as to whether a hero is what they truly were.

This wall, to me, answers the question - does true altruism really exist? I find it hard to believe that in the moments when you rescue three children from a house on fire, a fire that you know you could ultimately succumb to, that there are any visions of grandeur. These people gave their lives for others, with no spin, no rhetoric and no promise of reward. They just gave their lives.

There should be more of these tiles. They should be everywhere. For all true heroes – living or dead. Because I, for one, have little interest in some obscure “water feature” (one that only works when it feels like it), dedicated to a woman who "did quite a lot of work for charity".

After all ... a victim is not necessarily a hero.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Oh, dear Lord!

I just walked to Starbucks to get a grande, skinny, mint flavoured mocha. On the way I listened to "Toxic" by Britney Spears on my iPod. As I walked I imagined myself as Britney-as-flight attendant in the video, specifically the section where she pulls the ugly fat bloke into the toilet and then pulls his mask off to reveal a hot, ripped stud. I think that I may have actually been mouthing the words "you're toxic, I'm slipping under" as I walked and even did a kind of little Spears wiggle.

Will someone please shoot me now?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I finished two things today

The first was this. I completed every level with three stars and a commendation report from my commanding officer. My weapon of choice is a Smith & Wesson (although I did had quite a lot of fun with the assault rifle and shotgun). Most of my enemies were disposed of with a clear shot to the head. The whole thing was no easy task - it took at least two dedicated hours a day for the past three weeks out of my time. I am now sporting an abnormally buff right thumb.

The second thing I finished today was "The Da Vinci Code". Will someone please tap me on the shoulder the next time something like "The Da Vinci Code" happens? I always get to these things too late. Crap really, when you consider that one of the key factors of my job is to not only have my finger on the pulse, but to have a central line to the aorta of the heart of popular culture.

(spoilers ahead)

While I thought that the basic storytelling in the book was sometimes a bit "blah" (how often does he repeat the same old ancient fable again and again?), I was just blown away by the big revelations in the book. I went online and checked out Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" and the figure to Christ's right is absolutely a woman! Look! How has no one written about this kinda stuff in a way that has captured the public imagination as well as this book has? If everything in the book even has a grain of truth in it, well then, wow!

I'm on a roll now. This is like when I watched "Elizabeth" and then obsessively read about four tomes on the Tudor dynasty. There is a documentary about the key claims from the book on Channel 4 next week. I am so watching that.

But the really cool thing?

I totally worked out three of the riddles in the book before they were revealed - the "O, Draconian Devil" anagram, the Alexander Pope / Knight reference and the weird handwriting. PR is obviously not for me, when I am clearly a potential Grail hunter.

I actually scared myself a bit with the weird handwriting - it was early this morning at about 2am and the TV was off and I was lying on the sofa with the fire burning away and I was completely absorbed in the book. I turn the page and see the weird handwriting and, well, if you have read the book you can imagine what I got up and did with the book next. I completely freaked myself out! So much so that I double locked the front door.

I've just learned that they are making the book into a film with Tom Hanks as Langdon and Audrey Tatou as Sophie. Audrey Tatou - cool. I loved her in "Amelie" and I can completely buy her as Sophie. But Tom Hanks?! I can't list the reasons why Tom Hanks is completely wrong for this part because they are infinite. Apparently Richard Attenborough is being groomed to play Teabing. Ok, yeah. I'll alllow that.

Incidentally, that name, Teabing - I kept reading it as "teabagging" and making myself giggle.

I'm 32.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A rant

I was going to write a lighthearted-ish post today about the state of my love life, but then I read something this morning that made me so mad and, at the same time, very sad. I don’t very often use this as a forum to really rant, but I want to get this off my chest! I’ll come onto what it was that made me write this shortly, but here is a bit of background.

When I arrived in New York, just over two years ago, there was a lot of discussion within the gay community about a Rolling Stone article which discussed an emerging trend within the gay community called “bug chasing”. While there are complicated issues around the concept of bug chasing, the practice is very simple: HIV- men actively seeking out HIV+ sexual partners with the hope of becoming infected with the virus.

The Rolling Stone article was very disquieting, as I am sure it was for many people, both gay and straight. It is unthinkable and horrifying that someone would actually try to acquire such a dangerous and life altering virus. However, soon after the article appeared many gay organizations such as GLAAD released statements that basically eschewed the Rolling Stone article, based on the very unreliable and misinformed statistical evidence that was cited within.

The most problematic statistic was gleaned from a comment from Dr. Bob Cabaj, director of behavioral-health services for San Francisco County, a comment he later refuted. He apparently said that 25 percent of all newly infected gay men fall into that category of guys consciously or subconsciously seeking the virus. The article said that every year there are 40,000 new infections in the US, which meant that if the 25% statistic is true, then around 10,000 of those new infections are attributable to bug chasers.

It doesn’t take a great deal of logic to see that this is a highly dubious claim. For a start, that 40,000 figure is not only comprised of gay men – it includes intravenous drug users and heterosexuals. In fact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that only 42% of those infections occur in men who have sex with other men, which means that new infections in gay and bisexual men each year is more along the lines of 17,000. So if you apply that 25% statistic again, you get a figure along the lines of 4,200.

So, in short, the Rolling Stone article was dismissed as being sensationalist, alarmist and overly creative with the figures. Something I felt happy in believing.

But of late I have become aware of a few things, which lead me to believe that while those statistics may be inaccurate, there may, perhaps, be some truth in the madness.

The first thing is that while that afore mentioned 25% figure may, or may not be, true or you only have to look at any gay dating / hook up website or free gay newspaper to see plenty of ads placed by men who flout the use of condoms, preferring instead to “bareback”. Their motivation is very simple – to experience sex without the hindrance of condoms. While they are not “conscious” bug chasers per se, they still feel content with the idea of becoming infected to go ahead and be exposed to the risk.

The second thing that made me rethink was a gay porn DVD that a friend of mine had recently purchased, entitled “Breeding ... (some guy's name - not going to give it any fame here)”. When he bought the DVD my friend was unaware that “breeding” is a term used by gay men who are seeking to be infected with HIV: Bug Chasers. What he saw appalled him. I saw it recently – it is a documentary style porno focusing on the movie’s name bearer, a cute young guy who spends his time being mercilessly screwed by a whole bunch of HIV+ men, in the hope that he will be infected with the virus. For me, what I felt watching that movie was probably not far from what it must be like to watch a snuff movie. The ramifications of what this guy was doing, and what all these other guys were potentially doing to him was so disturbing that I just couldn’t get it out of my head for a good few days afterwards. And the worst thing was that this movie was not sold on some illicit website – it was sold to my friend at a mainstream gay sex shop in Chelsea in New York. It’s very existence and the fact that it was so readily available has very obvious implications. In actual fact, you only have to check out your local gay video store to see that there are entire sections devoted to non-condom movies and not all of them are old pre-condom Falcon movies. Many of them have been made really recently.

Then yesterday I read a story in The Times about Erasure front man Andy Bell and his recent announcement that he is living with HIV. This is what I was referring to at the beginning of this post. Within the story there was a quote from Andy, where he said that “while people might think this strange, I always wanted to get HIV because for me it is part of what being gay means.” I really don’t get that – Andy Bell is of the age where I am sure that he lost many friends and loved ones to AIDS. He must have seen at some point the way that the virus can literally decimate it’s victims in any number of horrible ways.

Or maybe he hasn’t.

Fortunately I am HIV-, but I have both dated people and have many friends who are living with the virus. I know, from being party to my friends’ experiences, that while the anti-retroviral medication available today can be very effective at managing HIV, a positive status is still far from being a bundle of laughs. ARV’s are toxic – before they make you “better”, they often make you feel very ill. One of my old school friends takes a combination of drugs that often make him nauseous at quite inopportune moments. Another friend, while he hasn’t suffered from nausea, has extremely lucid dreams, so much so that often times he suffers with confusion in his waking life as to what is really happening to him. Another friend has had more visual physical problems – he has gained very high muscle definition in his legs, chest and arms, but at the same time suffers with what he calls his “Buddha” belly – a very inflated stomach. So the idea that someone could be aware of all of this and yet still deliberately go out and try to become infected is terrible.

Through discussions with some (really only a few) of my gay male friends I have sometimes garnered the impression that in a fucked up way they actually “like” the idea of knowing someone who is HIV+. It’s almost as if being exposed, albeit second hand, to the virus is some kind of right of passage. Some of them talk about their HIV+ friends with something akin to pride, reminding me of straight people who feel the need to validate their “cool-factor” by announcing that they have “loads of gay friends!”

If you follow that thought process through you could come to the point of view that some may view the positive community with a degree of reverence. Before I get anyone’s back up, I am not suggesting that HIV+ men and women do not deserve compassion, respect or help. Clearly I am not suggesting that. But in itself having HIV is not something, to me, that can be, or should be revered. If you want to revere anything about HIV, revere the admirable way these people who are infected have often learned to make important step changes in their lives. You don’t have to get HIV to learn from people with HIV and apply those ways of living to your own life.

Back to the bug chasers – there will always be people who take things to extremes, who have so little respect for themselves or others, who are so emotionally detached from everyday life, that they will resort to terrible measures in order to fit in or seek random gratification, in whatever form that takes. I think it is easy to take what is, in all probability, an extremely small minority of the community and sensationalize them out of all proportion. But from what I have been hearing there are more and more people who are just not scared anymore. There are so many gay men now who don’t use condoms. Maybe that’s because of lack of education through poor funding, or because of irresponsible media reporting on ARV medication, citing the drugs as “miracle cures”. I don’t know.

But here’s it is: if I take every single thing I have learned, all my experiences - being gay, the education, the two occasions where I stupidly didn't use a condom where I then had to suffer weeks of doubt before I could get tested, seeing my friends learn that they have HIV and then seeing how that has affected their lives – if I take all of that information and I distill it down to one simple rule, it's this:

Use a condom!

It sounds like such a cliché to say that now. But clichés are clichés because through all the pointless things we say in life, they are words that hold the truth.

I’ll finish with this. It’s from a speech which American gay activist Larry Kramer wrote and delivered at the Cooper Union in New York at the end of last year. It’s a really long speech, so I printed it off and read it on the way home on the tube. There is much in the speech that initially made me cross, mostly Larry’s alarmism. But I’ll concede that is sometimes required to force people to sit up, take notice and subsequently take action.

”’Ah’, you say, ‘aren't we to have a little fun? Can't I get stoned and try barebacking one last time?’ Are you out of your fucking mind? At this moment in our history, no, you cannot. Anyway, we had our fun and look what it got us into. And what it is still getting us into. You kids want to die? Because that's what I sometimes think. Well, then, die.”

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Britney is Vicky

I read something in a, ahem, newspaper (no prizes for guessing which one) which suggested that Britney Spears is the American version of Vicky Pollard, the much loved illiterate juvenile delinquent from the cult British TV programme Little Britain.

It's so true! Look!

vicky pollard

britney

You know I have a theory - not only do Britney and Vicky look alike but I think that they could in fact be the same person. Think about it. You never, ever see Britney Spears and Vicky Pollard together at the same time.

Conclusive proof, in my opinion.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Christopher takes a test

A little while ago I was with a friend, lamenting the fact that I don't really have a "thing" - a party trick. I can't play Rach 5 on the piano with one hand and I can't ride a unicycle. I speak practically zero foreign languages and I have yet to correctly learn the offside rule. My friend assured me that every single person does have at least one "thing" and that maybe it would be a little while longer before I worked out what mine was and that I just had to be patient.

So rather than chastising myself for not having a special thing I have, as you know, been putting my all into finding a job. But PR work has not been forthcoming. I incorrectly assumed that it would be a piece of cake to find a new job in the New Year. Things were really thin on the ground before Christmas but that's not surprising really because human resources managers can't be arsed to recruit, choosing (sensibly) to sink pitchers of mulled wine instead.

But once staffers have banked and spunked away their Christmas bonuses they promptly hand their notices in on Jan 2, right? And all those HR peeps suddenly have a purpose in life (with several neurotic MD's breathing down their necks). Only the trend seems to have been bucked and jobs are still few and far between. Ok, I have been for a few interviews in the last couple of weeks and I actually have another on Monday. But the companies I have seen are invariably rather small and I am to them, without wanting to sound like a twat, a bigger gun. I'm a Senior Account Director with almost nine years experience of working for an international company. Two of those years were spent working in New York. In my time I have been incredibly lucky enough to have had some of the biggest companies in the world as my clients - brand icons that a few of my fellow PR buddies would have killed to work on. My career has also allowed me to meet and schmooze with the likes of Sharon Stone, Charlize Theron, Sean Penn, Robert D Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Adrien Brody and has also given me the chance to use J-Lo's Beverly Hills pad's bathroom - which, incidentally, you can completely see into from the road outside. All immensely satisfying and has richly fed my inner starfucker. So anyway, my CV is kind of impressive and to these smaller agencies, perhaps a little imposing.

Of course, this all disguises the fact that very often I don't have the slightest clue what I am doing.

Anyway, I often get the impression that the owners of these seven / eight person gigs only ask to see me out of curiosity and because they think I might be able to lure some old clients into coming over with me (not a hope in hell!)

I have no doubt that something will eventually come up, but the more immediate problem at the moment is that I am absolutely financially destitute. I have never been in such a bad way where money is concerned. Without citing actual figures, I have a personal debt that would make even Donald Trump weep. But for some reason I don't get down about it. Considering some of the things that I do allow myself to get down over this is an irony that is not completely lost on me.

So I decided to bite the bullet. I have to do something and unemployment benefit in the UK is just a big fat joke. So I signed on with a basic admin recruitment agency - the kind that pays £8 an hour for menial Microsoft Excel data entry. I sent my CV over to the girl, Tanya, the other day and I went in this morning for a Microsoft proficiency test.

But before I do the test we have a little chat so that Tanya can get a better idea of what it is I want to do. This seems slightly ridiculous to me, because this is not the kind of company that is going to be able to dramatically boost your career - it's a filler for graduates and recently arrived travelers. But this is Tanya's job so I humour her.

"I have to say that I was very impressed by your CV. You're very senior and have so much experience. Are you really going to be ok with data entry placements? Are you going to be motivated?"

Er, no!?

"Well, you know I am looking for a more permanent mooring in my proper line of work, but you know how it is ... gotta bring home the bacon!" I cheerily tell her. "Besides, sometimes I quite like mindless work - I can kind of get lost in it, do you know what I mean?"

She nods.

"Right Christopher. I'm going to set you up on this computer so that you can do an aptitude test. Make sure that you read the questions properly, because you only get two chances to get each question right. Some of them have hidden meanings!" she tells me cryptically. I'm excited to learn that Word and Excel have hidden depths! (This may or may not be true, but I once read that if you type "I'd like to see Bill Gates dead" in Word, then highlight it and do a thesaurus check then the computers suggests "I'll drink to that" as a replacement!)

So Tanya leaves me in this horrible sterile little cubicle and as I start the test I begin to get a feel of what data entry really means and how it will quietly gnaw away at my soul with it's mindless mediocrity. And the mouse isn't working properly.

The test was dead easy, even though I did come a cropper on a couple of Excel questions and that frikkin mouse caused me to hit the wrong button twice on one of the Word questions. Anyway, I completed the whole thing in about fifteen minutes without breaking a sweat. I stuck my head around the side of the cubicle and did a little "ahem" to get Tanya's attention.

"Have you finished already? Surely you can't have finished already?"

I decide that this means that I have probably failed and that once again my fondness for doing every single thing in life at light speed has resulted in my not being able to even secure a bloody temporary career in data entry.

Tanya leans over me and taps away and in a few seconds the printer sat next to the computer is churning out my test results.

She picks the sheet up and studies it for a second. The indifferent look on her face morphs into a look of dumbstruck awe. "Er, have you had a lot of training on Microsoft Office?"

"Not really. I just gradually taught myself the basics over the years."

"Well, I think this is probably the highest score we've seen. Seriously! Look!"

She flips the sheet of paper around so that I can see it. Word 93% proficiency, Excel 89% proficiency. I act all non-plussed, but inside I am deeply relishing the fact that I am not a computer pleb.

"So what is the average?" I ask her.

"Well what we would consider to be a high score is about 75% for both Word and Excel. That's usually someone who has had a lot of training."

I carry on letting her inflate my ego a little bit more, but then after a while it's time for me to leave. I plug myself into my iPod and breezily walk up Kingsway to the strains of Damien Rice, allowing myself the momentary luxury of feeling a tad smug.

And then it hit me...

I’d finally found my special thing … I frikkin ROCK at data entry!

Now, you better know that if you and I should ever go head to head in a data entry contest, I will take you down, baby!.

*sobs*

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The War of Don Christopher's Nether Parts

I'm going to talk at length (Length! I kill myself!) about penises today ... just so you know ...

I keep receiving emails entitled "enhance::ur:gr8wth" and "bi88ger::g1rth". Every single one of the 32 unsolicited emails delivered to my Hotmail's junk folder in the last few days are to do with dick size and how I might increase it. Now I'm not going to use this as a forum to talk about my dick, because that would be crass, but ... well, maybe I will a bit...

I like my dick. It's length is not John Holmes-esque, but neither is it an AA Duracell. Similarly it's girth is neither beer can nor Biro in proportions. I like to think that I have the "original penis" - the prototype that God created for Adam, which was used as the master design for all subsequent "peni". Then along the way the different master-craftspeople, who replicated this original, applied their own personal quirks and preferences, in addition to a little artistic license, until we got to a point where we now have a beautiful Skittles' rainbow of fruity phallus flavas.

I've never personally had a problem with my dick size. It's one of the few things about myself that I don't have a hang up over. On the same token I am not a size queen. Extremes either way are never good - really massive ones are nice to look at, but you know when your boyfriend wins you a huge oversized Tigger at the fairground? It looks real pretty and everything, but where the buggery bollocks are you supposed to put it? And really, really tiny ones can actually be a BIG issue. A couple of years ago I hooked up with this guy at a club. Because I am a filthy-whore-slut-boy I generally cop a feel before slinking off home with them to do the dirty deed. Only with this guy I couldn't locate anything at all. But I was kinda drunk and didn't really think too much of it at the time. But then we get home and we start gettin' nekkid and basicallly it turns out that this guy is like really, really small! I mean REALLY small. I had the feeling that I was a character in a clunky Monty Python animation. Let's just say that things stopped working and there was no way with all the will in the world that I could go any further. So I did the worst, most disgusting thing - I hit the "PRESS IN EMERGENCY!" stop-gay-sex-button. I turned away looking sad and woefully said "I'm sorry. I can't. I only just got dumped by my ex and I don't think I can do this."

Poor guy. I'm sure I secured my pass to Hell with that, but anyway...

I am a fervent supporter of manscaping and I will concede to the fact that one of the benefits of this intimate grooming routine is that, yes, it does make your cock look a little more cocky. But that isn't the reason I do it. I do it because tidiness is next to Godliness and as I am sure someone has suggested before, few people go down there with the intention of flossing. And if they do, well then that's just ineffective (but fun!) dental hygiene.

Back to those emails - usually I just ignore them, because after five days or something like that, Hotmail automatically deletes them. But yesterday I got a little curious. I took a look at one entitled "Be A Larger Man" quietly hoping to see pictures of naked dudes. Admittedly I got this. But although the guys were really cute and buff the potent sexual illusion was ruined by the fact that they were all using cock pumps, each of them wearing to varying degrees what appeared to be sheer rampant ecstacy on their faces.

Now physics was never really my bag, man, but I know enough to realise that the vacuum used to make your cock bigger is only a temporary (and potentially dangerous) fix and the action alone would doubtfully cause the immensely pleasurable sensations that the ad guys seem to be experiencing. Maybe someone was providing each of them with an intimate tickle with a feather at the moment the shot was taken, which they later Photoshopped out.

The thing that I don't get is that while yes, I will put my hands up to subscribing to certain types of websites, I have never subscribed to anything that would lead anyone to believe that I have "size issues". Feeling rather deflated (sorry - couldn't resist) I decided to send one of these companies an email stating that unless they could offer me free pictures and MPEG's of really, really great gay porn (a free lifetime subscription to the afore mentioned site would be super!) they should take me off their mailing lists sooner than immediately. How organised of me! I love complaining and it's the thing I miss most about having a career.

This afternoon I told a friend who works in IT all about the problem and what I had done and to my horror I was informed that these companies actually act on those kind of complaints by basically sending you even more unsolicited crap. Great. Why can't I ever get the kinds of brilliant and genuine unsolicited email that my friends get? You know the ones - "You're our millionth customer and you've won 75 trillion gazillion dollars!!! Claim now!"

A few of my friends seem to be jumping the boat and going over to Gmail so maybe I should follow suit. One of the great things about Gmail, I am reliably informed, as that you get a really sizeable inbox. Not that I need a sizeable inbox, you understand.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

La nuit

Whenever I have had a friend who has been out of work for a while I have always mercilessly berrated them for sitting around on their lazy asses all day long and not getting out into the City, not only to look for a job, but to take in the many and varied cultural delights that London has to offer. London! It's like an orgy for the senses - avante garde dance, a deep appreciation for fashion, brilliant theatre and fine cuisine. How can you not throw yourself into it with gusto?

But of course, as you all know, for a while now the shoe has been on the other foot and it is now me who is un-em-ploy-ed. And all of those things cost money. So sitting around on my ass seems sensible.

Not working for a significant amount of time does weird things to you that no one ever really talks about. One of these is that your body clock goes to hell. You don't get up early in the morning for a simple reason, that being you don't have to get up early! So even though every night you go to to bed with the intention of getting up early and starting the day as you would if you actually had a job to go to, when the alarm goes off at 8.30am it is quickly flung across the room. Since the beginning of the month I have got up before 9am only once.

The effect of this late rising is that you don't get tired until about 3am. All my life, I've always thought that the time between 1am and say 6am was kind of like a no-man's land: everyone is asleep and the world is really quiet. It's a bit sinister. It's one of the worst things about insomnia - waking up and knowing that you are really, really alone. But in the last couple of months I have really made my peace with those five hours. This has helped by a little bit of non-human company, in the form of a family of foxes who live in the bushes just beyond our balcony at the back of the apartment. Whenever I go out for a late night cigarette I invariably see one of them. Sometimes I whistle and they look up at me, totally fearlessly. Cool foxes.

But I think the real reason that I have become so au fait with night is because I can appreciate it for what it really is - peace and quiet. I am a country boy - born and raised. I grew up in the kind of place where the sky is literally teaming with stars at night and it is always so quiet. Both of which you rarely get here. There is always noise and there is always too much light.

But I've found a little bit of that in London now. At about 2.30am. It's cold, quiet, some of the streetlights have gone out, foxes are playing and I can sit and puff on Marlboro Lights and blow smoke rings that gently float off the balcony towards the trees.

It's kind of solipsistic in a way and I think I like it.

On a completely different subject I chickened out. I didn't take the gay porn back. My friend Matt told me off for being a pussy, but Matt is a very different animal to me. He would, without any embarrassment, go in with all gun's blazing and probably not only would he get an exchange, but also a free dildo and a blow job from the assistant for his trouble.

Maybe I'll pluck up the courage tomorrow.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Gay porn, illness and a strange coincidence

Coincidences rarely happen to me and this one is worthy of a blog post. I swear it's true!

I have the flu. Not a snotty, coughy, running eyes "cold", which people often incorrectly name "flu", but actual flu. By this I mean aching limbs, shivering fits, sore throat and headaches. I have had the central heating on constant and the fake coal gas fire in the living room set to "flame thrower".

However, there are some benefits to being ill. I wrote about it here once before, but being ill for me means that I can heavily indulge myself in the kind of guilty pleasures that I normally berate myself for. As the old adage goes - "A little bit of what you fancy does you good!"

I little bit of what I fancied was spending the majority of Saturday night and Sunday daytime lying under a duvet on the sofa drooling over Adam Brody and Tom Welling in back to back episodes of Smallville and The OC. Who says being ill sucks? I did venture out of the house for a few hours with Wayne in the evening to go and see Closer, but in order to stop shaking enough to button up my jeans I had to heavily dose myself up with paracetamol. I probably should have stayed in really, but Clive Owen was seductively beckoning me. About half way through the movie (which I LOVED) I began to feel like crap again and by the time I had got home I was shivering so much that I was a bit like a vibrator. Um. Only not.

Anyhoo, if I'm honest, for the time that I was suffering on the sofa I wasn't being completely faithful to Adam and Tom, as I was also checking out the archives of some of my favourite blogs. One of the posts I came across was this one. You should go and read it now and then come back because it will make the rest of this post make sense and help you understand the coincidence.

You're back? Brilliant, hilarious and cringe worthy huh? Now where was I?

Oh yes. This morning I felt a lot better which was quite fortuitous as I had an 11am job interview with a small PR agency in Soho. When the interview was over I started walking back down towards Leicester Square tube and on the way passed Prowler, a kind of upmarket gay sex shop. "Sale!" and "50% off!" signs were plastered all over the windows which appealed to me for a couple of reasons. The first was because I am currently financially insolvent. The second was that I have been recently lamenting the fact that my porn collection has become a little tired. Just like any movie, watch it too many times and it all starts to get a bit samey. I did borrow some good stuff off a friend, but I had to give it back.

So I ventured forth and quickly decided to purchase this one. It might surprise some of you that while I will, without compunction, discuss the most intimate and intricate details of my sex life at great length and depth (length and depth - tee hee!) I do come over slightly coy when having to buy porn or other "objets de sexe" from total strangers. I know it's completely irrational, expecially when you consider that the person you are buying it from spends their entire day selling the stuff, surrounded by enormous latex phalluses, standing directly underneath a giant plasma screen featuring muscle-bound guys endlessly going at it.

Anyway, the deal goes through without hitch (and without my having to make eye contact with the assistant) and soon enough I am on the tube excitedly riding back to Clapham in order for me to view my new purchase.

When I get back home, I pop the disc in the player, set myself up all nice and comfortable on the sofa and press play. The video opens with the two main characters chatting and walking into this building and everything seems to be going smoothly. As with all gay porn, the script is quality and the acting, award winning.

The initial build up is nice and quick and soon enough the first scene is well into full "swing". Only, to my dismay, there was a problem - certain repeated physical movements are, er, rather rapid. More rapid than they are supposed to be. There is this thing going on with the screen where everything is jarring, kind of like I've speeded the movie up. So I jumped to the next scene and sure enough, the same thing. So I ejected the disc, wiped off any dust and tried it again. Still, the same problem. So I eject the disc once more and try it on my iBook. Yeah, you guessed it.

Now I was in a quandary. By this point I had seen enough of the movie to want to draw things to a, er, conclusion. But I didn't know whether I could manage getting to that conclusion without being supremely irritated by the fact that everything was jumping about. And not jumping about in a good way.

Somehow I managed.

Anyway, in more financially solvent times, I may have been inclined to just bin the offending item. But as I am poor, I can't justify being quite so frivolous with my money (and for those of you who say that it could be considered more frivolous to buy porn while on the breadline ... you have obviously never been a red blooded gay man! Besides, it was on sale, remember?)

So while it won't be quite as soul destroyingly embarrassing as Faustus's experience, I will have to take the DVD back tomorrow and explain the fault and ask for an exchange. I hope they don't ask me to explain the fault ("Well you know when they, like, do stuff? Well, there is a fault in the picture quality that makes the stuff seem faster than it should be.")

But what if there is a problem with the batch of the movie and I end up having to take it back again? Maybe I should just pick another title. Only there wasn't another title I wanted that was on sale.

Oh, sod it.

In other news, Clive Owen won the Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe for Closer.

clive

I've loved him ever since I saw him years ago in Close My Eyes. Who needs porn when there are pictures of Clive?

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Goddamn!

I just read this and got very, very excited. For a second.

Then I was very, very dissapointed.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Death and comments

Two fucked up things happened to me today...

1) I lost all your comments here on my blog
2) An errant bagel almost cost me my life

I know that you are more concerned about the first fucked up thing, so I'll begin there.

If you have been with me for a while you will notice that my blog has slowly been undergoing some beautification and streamlining. This is the result of me teaching myself some of the rudimentary elements of the HTML / CSS code that makes up our blogs. I chose a template (inspired by my friend YoYo Bunny) and I tinkered with it - changed the colors, the alignment etc. But the thing that I most wanted to do was to insert the title logo I had designed on my iBook at the top of the page. I literally spent hours trying to work out how to do it, but to no avail. In the end fellow blogger Billy gave me the proper pointers and hey presto - my blog now has the lovely pastel blue, lavender mix of fonts that you can see above.

I was pretty much satisfied after that, but then I remembered that many of you fellow bloggers have that Haloscan comments system on your blogs, and as Andy would say to Lou, in Little Britain, "I want that one!"

Haloscan is really cool, because once you have registered you can actually select this option where the code for the comments system is automatically installed into your template for you. AUTOMATIC INSTALLATION I TELL YOU! And it worked, which was great until I realised that it had deleted every single comment that anyone has ever left for me here.

I almost cried. In my mind the comments on peoples blogs are of equal importance to the content of the authors post. It's the thing that really brings this whole blogging thing to life and creates a forum for discussion. But the thing that really upset me is that many of the comments that people have left me were kind of personal and really from the heart. And now they are no more. Gone to blog heaven.

So I now ask you, all of you, to make up for this sad loss by commenting as much as possible on each of my posts, using my new gorgeous commenting facility. Merci bien.

Right, onto my near death experience.

As you may know, since March last year when I OD'd (another near death experience - I'm not making light of that, btw, but it's a fact) I have been suffering with a paralysed vocal chord. When I arrived at the hospital I wasn't breathing and so the ER staff had to intubate me very quickly, which damaged my vocal chord. I am having surgery in the next couple of months to correct it, but in the meantime I have a partially obstructed throat, which means that I get breathless quite easily. I also have a wicked cough - something akin to a walrus barking.

So I worked out (focused on my chest today - prior to last March I had a fine pair of disco tits and I am trying to get them back to their previous, glorious state). The workout was followed by a five minute sesh on the hydrotherapy bed and a spell in the steam room. After I got changed, I went downstairs to the Bagel Factory, ordered a bacon and egg bagel and a protein shake and then took my grub to a table to eat while reading a hugely bitchy article penned by Julie Birchell in The Times about Germaine Greer's appearance on Big Brother.

After a couple of minutes of eating my bagel a bit of bacon goes down the wrong way. I involuntarily coughed, the way you do when something goes down the wrong way, except that every time I coughed I expelled air, which I very soon realised I couldn't retrieve - like I could blow out but I couldn't breath in again. I think it was to do with the partial obstruction of my throat and the bit of bacon or whatever it was.

If any of you suffer from asthma you'll know how scary it is when you can't draw breath. For about ten seconds I was freaking out - I literally couldn't breath in. So in the end I had to get down on the floor, on all fours, and use all the muscles in my chest to force my lungs to intake air (thank God for all those push ups!) If getting down onto the floor was not enough to draw people’s attention to me then the noise that my chest and throat made certainly was. I can’t even describe how horrible it sounded and how loud it was. The woman from behind the bagel counter came running round to the table to see if I was ok. By this time I was just about managing to get enough air, but not enough to talk, so she ran to get first aid. Fortunately by the time the first aid person got to me, I was just about breathing and able to say that I was going to be ok.

Now incase you were wondering I can reliably inform you that yes, it is possible to experience profound terror and acute embarrassment at the same time. But do you want to know how I was really, really brave? When I had regained my breath (and my composure) I didn't make a run for it. I simply sat down, cleared my throat and carried on reading Julie Birchell and eating the rest of my bagel.

Which, by the way, was yummy...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

UK blogger fired from employment

Three of Britain's biggest newspapers - The Times, The Guardian and The Scotsman - have reported the recent firing by Waterstone's (the UK's biggest highstreet bookshop) of an employee, Joe Gordon, with an eleven year tenure at the Edinburgh branch of the company. The reason for termination was cited as the content of his blog, specifically several "defamatory" comments about Waterstone's. In brief Waterstone's has always been keen to present itself as a bastion of freedom and self expression in the promotion of literature in all it's forms, a sentiment that by this recent action now seems irrelevant. This case is important for the reason that it is the first time that someone in Britain has lost their job because of comments made on their blog.

First, I am angry over the hypocritical way that Waterstone's proffers freedom of expression, yet will not extend that same courtesy to it's employees. And for that I feel that it is only fair that the company provides an eloquent explanation to their actions.

However, for example, a company would be unlikely to tolerate an employee appearing on national television to negatively comment on their employer, however satirical those comments might be. And if I were an employer I would feel duty bound to protect my company (and possibly my own job) by dealing with that errant staff member in an appropriate way. That said, termination of employment in this instance does seem to be the adoption of a very hard line (and daft when Waterstone's apparently didn't want it's name dragged through the mud!) I am sure that an official warning would have been more effective.

More and more, blogs are becoming a legitimate conduit for communication in all it's forms. I am not a fan of censorship and would not discourage anyone to write about whatever it is that they feel compelled to write about, but we should all acknowledge that there can be consequences to what we say and most will have an opinion - including our employers.

I just called Waterstone's head office in London to get the name of the person that I can write a letter of complaint to. You can voice your opinion to Kathryn Dobson who heads up the Customer Services department. Kathryn's email address is:

kathryn.dobson@waterstones.co.uk

You can also write a letter (what's that?) to Kathryn at the following address:

Waterstone's
Capital Court
Capital Interchange Way
Brentford
TW8 0EX

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

It made me laugh (despite myself)

An email from Jake, earlier today:

"If a tree fell in a forest, but then sprang back up again as a joke, do you think that the squirrels would freak out?"

Monday, January 10, 2005

OMG!

I was just sat here with Vix watching Big Brother, live on TV, and the most frikkin brilliant thing happened!

All of the housemates (except John, who isn't participating until he gets some Diet Coke) which includes Sylvester Stallone's ex-wife Brigitte Nielsen, were gathered around the front door of the house by Big Brother to greet a new addition. Guess who the new addition is?

JACKIE STALLONE!!!

Brigitte is actually handling it very well to Jackie's face, but to the other housemates she is FREAKING OUT!

And Jackie! The woman is CRAZY! She doesn't seem to have any concept of the game or anything and is kicking up because there are cameras in the shower and she has to sleep in a dorm with everyone else under horse blankets.

And how much surgery has she had? Her face is actually lop-sided.

I love this show so much!

I NEED TO STOP SHOUTING!

Cool!

I've got a bunch of emails from some of you with some really great questions! I was a bit worried that you wouldn't ask me anything and that I would have to ask myself! Better get my thinking cap on!

Today I have been really putting myself out there in terms of trying to get some work. I am now on the books of three seperate recruitment agencies and I am really bugging them now to get me interviews. I have an interview with another recruitment agency tomorrow which is promising.

I've also realised that I shouldn't just be relying on these agencies to get me work, so I've started to send my CV out on spec to several big multi national PR agencies with offices in London.

In the meantime I have a company to call about doing some odds and ends work to bring some money in. Most of the things they offer are pretty menial data entry placements, but I kinda like that kind of work for a while. Mindless envelope stuffing and the lark.

I have succumbed to peer pressure and have started to read The Da Vinci Code and it's actually quite good! Apparently it is being made into a movie starring Harrison Ford and from what I have read so far he seems like a good choice for the main character.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

What would you like to know?

The other day my friend Marv posted a link on her blog to an online article about blog preservation (Marv is an archivist by trade) which actually turned out to be very interesting reading (not that I ever thought it wouldn't be, Marv!)

One of the points that gave me pause was the idea of Blogs "dying". It was no surprise to me that many people give birth to their blogs with wonderfully good intentions and fervently make several posts a day which gradually dwindle to one or two a week before abandoning the thing altogether. I guess it's like getting a puppy for Christmas – for a while all cute and fluffy, but then it grows up and demands to be walked and shits all over the floor. Well, maybe blogs don't do that exactly, but I'm sure you get my jist.

I too neglected my first child and it died. When I moved to NYC I started a blog so that I could keep my family and friends up to speed with what I was doing overseas, but when I moved back to the UK I forgot the login details and had to start a new one (this one). Which was probably for the best. I still know the URL and recently went back to read some of it and it is so self indulgent and maudlin, most of the posts obsessing on the fact that my boyfriend hadn't called me as quickly as I would have like him to have done. It's nice to know that my writing has evolved (I hope!)

Anyway - the article goes on to talk about blogs that come to a natural conclusion and how as a result the blogs readers often experience a profound sense of bereavement. An example of this is Belle de Jour's infamous blog, which she terminated in September last year (ironically, I just discovered that she has temporarily revived it!) This got me to thinking - I really love writing my blog and I write it I think as much for myself as I do for everyone who reads it. Without wanting to over-intellectualise why I blog I think that there is a definite catharsis in knowing that you have to write about something every day. For me, at least, it has made me take notice of both the significant and often, more importantly, the seemingly less significant things in life that much more - something that I have not always been very skilled at .

But what happens when I meet the love of my life and he objects to my spending two hours a day (I have resolved to NEVER again blog at work, whenever I get another job, that is) updating my blog and reading my favorites? Will it become a modern day interpretation of Sophie's Choice?

The article also got me thinking about something else, which is that it is only me who decides which elements of my life you get to read about. If you are a returning reader you may also have noticed that I don't always pick up the thread of previous posts. That's often because nothing ended up happening, therefore nothing to report.

So, later this week I would like to write a post which answers some of your questions, if that is ok with you? Indulge me! Ask me anything - I'm not coy, as you may have noticed. It can be about things I have previously written, my thoughts on a political issue, or whether or not I like asparagus (I do, by the way).

You can email your questions to me at ckboy29@hotmail.com (I hope you do, cause I'm going to feel REAL unpopular if you don't!!)

Best quiz EVER!

o-ren

"You are O-Ren Ishii! Twisted and homicidal, you respect most people, but let them know not to mess with you. You have a talent for sensing danger, and keep only the most loyal and skilled people around you."

That is the most accurate descriptions of my character. I am thrilled to be like O-Ren. I can actually recite, verbatim, the entire monologue she delivers after slicing the errant bosses head off in Vol.1. Don't mock me! I might need to dress someone down in that vein someday!

Which Deadly Viper Assassin Are You?

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Things that are winding me up

JOHN MCCRIRICK
Celebrity Big Brother, is back on TV and I am already addicted. The cast features some quite interesting people, although I think it is a bit of a misnomer to call them celebrities.

Anyway - one of the contestants is the eccentric horse racing commentator John McCririck.

john_123x129

John is perhaps the most offensive man to have ever set foot on planet Earth. I will even go as far to say that he exceeds George Bush in the stupidity stakes.

John's gems so far include telling Germaine Greer that she is responsible for allowing women to believe that they could rise above their station. He thinks it is great that Bush was re-elected. He told "supermodel" Caprice that beautiful women don't have to bother with little things like achievement because everything falls at their feet anyway. He says he only stays with his wife because she is stupid (I don't doubt this - she married John McCririck) and wouldn't be able to function without him. Oh, and he feels that certain African nations should stop moaning about their problems and asking for aid and start taking more responsibility and finding their own solutions.

Idiot.


DOUGLAS COUPLAND
First of all I should say that Douglas Coupland is my favorite, favorite author. I have loved every single one of his books and he wrote the only book to make me cry (Girlfriend in a Coma).

So it was with excitement that I tripped into central London yesterday to see his new installation at the Canadian Embassy. This is what the work is supposed to represent:

"An ongoing relationship with both nature and distance. A complex set of unexpected and loaded images and icons which can function on both the surface and on profoundly deep levels. The works are both amusing and reassuring and are meant to include rather than exclude."

An example:

CIMG0500

I don't, um, get it.

Douglas - just because you have penned several best selling novels that have defined a generation, does not mean that you are a skilled artist. Still love you though ... v.v.much.


THE CHURCH
So while I walking through Trafalgar Square to get to the Coupland exhibition, I noticed that with the exception of one establishment all of the flags on top of the buildings were flying at half mast out of respect for the victims of the Tsunami. Here is the flag on top of the Candian Embassy:

CIMG0492

The exception? The church at St Martin in the Fields, of course.

CIMG0488

(Am writing this watching the live feed of Celeb Big Bruv on E4 - John is lying on his bed wearing only his white boxers. Words. Can't. Describe.)

Friday, January 07, 2005

And another thing!

The Christmas Day episode of "The Vicar of Dibley" received a huge number of complaints, apparently most of which were from the religious right, who took offense at Vicar Geraldine's (Dawn French) consumption of a chocolate Jesus (despite the fact that the Arch Bishop of Canterbury provided a cameo in the show).

Now, granted, I am not the most religious person in the northern hemisphere, but am I wrong in thinking that there is this little churchy thing called Communion, where worshippers eat some nasty dry rice paper and drink red plonk, both of which are meant to symbolise the body and blood of Christ?

I think that it is safe to assume that most Vicar's force their flocks to drink the likes of a very cheap Merlot from their local 24 hour off-license. Now that's offensive! Hey Vic! If that red wine is supposed to be the blood of Christ, shouldn't it be a nice 1995 Chateau Neuf de Pape? Huh?

I think that the world's churches would receive an exponential rise in followers if during Communion they were served expensive vin de rouge and Swiss chocolate figurines of everyone's favourite homeboy.

Jerry Springer - The Opera

"Jerry Springer - The Opera" started up in the West End of London a couple of years ago now. It's sleazy, gross, salacious, shocking and revolting. And I loved it and so has anyone else who I know who has seen it. Indeed it has also been praised by critics - The Guardian's Michael Billington described it as "a mega hit ... easily the hottest ticket in London." And if The Guardian likes it, then it must be good!

The Sun (Britain's biggest newspaper) was up in arms yesterday over the BBC's decision to screen a live performance of the show, tonight on BBC2. The BBC has already received about 15,000 complaints in total, which is absolutely unprecedented - shows that have offended viewers usually receive up to 200-300 complaints, but the other thing with this is that people are complaining BEFORE they have seen the show, which seems vaguely ridiculous in the least.

Through the duration of the show there are 3,168 uses of the word "fuck" and 297 references to "cunt". The Sun is outraged. OUTRAGED I tell you. The main reason was that while theatre goers are choosing to hand their well earned cash over to see the show, the British public are forced to pay the compulsory annual TV license fee to help fund BBC programming and they are not paying to see twaddle like this. The Sun also wouldn't be The Sun if it didn't bring in some kind of moral judgments, these being "what if our children should see it?" and "what about all this swearing?" The Sun also reported that Christian groups are also not happy with the fact that the second half features the burning fires of hell where Springer is confronted by God and the Devil.

First of all: the swearing. I think if The Sun did a straw poll it would find that the majority of it's readers, at various points during the day, use a colorful variety of cusses that would make the most seasoned fishwife blush. And it's all a bit hypocritical anyway, because The Sun's writers aren't unaccustomed to effing and blinding themselves, only they'll hide behind a few "**" so as not to offend anyone. Really - is there anyone on this planet who is less offended by "f**k" or "c**t" than "fuck" and "cunt"? And if kids read it and don't know what "f**k" means (knowing the kids of today, this is unlikley) aren't they just going to ask their parents?

Secondly, I believe that British TV license payers DO want to see mind numbingly boring and crass entertainment. Why else would 10 million people tune into Eastenders almost every night of the week? That said, I for one, want my license money spent on programming that is challenging, entertaining, shocking and from time to time, a bit racy. There is a reason that so many theatre goers have gone in their droves to see "Jerry Springer - The Opera". It is because they WANT to see the fighting and hear the swear words and they WANT to be shocked. And I am sure that many people will tune in tonight. They'll say it's because they are curious, but really they'll want to see it for all the reasons that I have just cited. There will also, of course, be a lot of people who'll watch it simply because The Sun is so vehemently opposed to it.

But it's the Christian groups that piss me off the most. Christian groups are notorious for pre-emptively complaining about something, usually when they haven't seen it. It's really patronising for the most part, because they believe that we, the unenlightened (the irony!), are so unbelievably dumb that by watching "Jerry Springer - The Opera" we will surely have our souls irreversibly tainted and before you can say "your mother sucks cocks in hell", the lush green meadows of England will have become a veritable Dante's Inferno.

When I lived in the States I actually had a number of chats with different people about Jerry Springer and the general consensus of opinion was, that while these people who appear on the show really do exist, for the most part American's are not that extreme. Remember, these people are chosen for their immesurable idiocy for the very fact that it makes good TV. Also, if that kind of crassness was all around us all the time, we would be totally used to it and wouldn't care. Jerry Springer is also a big wake up call to us - how NOT to be!

Then of course there is the fact that if you do find something on TV really offensive you can just turn over or turn off.

On a related note: Page 3 is a British institution and for years now, every day, The Sun on page 3 features a bare breasted glamour model. Yesterday's was Tracy from Luton, posing on all fours on a fluffy pink cushion, wearing nothing but a lacy black thong and a lusty gaze. I wonder how many mothers and fathers up and down the country had to field questions from children who had seen Tracy "presenting" herself? "Mummy - what is that lady doing?"

Of course, you might want to ask me what I was doing reading The Sun?

Er. Research.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I could get used to this. I think.

So once again I am in Jake’s apartment on Bankside, tapping away at his computer (I will be deleting his history before I leave – don’t want him coming across THIS!). He left for work EARLY (so glad I'm not working. Careers are for losers) and so I am now, again, pretending that I live here and making full use of all his facilities. He said help myself to anything, so I did by opening his new expensive amaretto cafetiere coffee. It's yum!

Jake and I haven't spent a lot of time together since his appendix op, after we broke up, so when I got to his apartment last night it was kind of weird. Dating is such a weird lark. Even if you have only been dating someone for just a few weeks, you get to this place, often very quickly, where you share really intimate moments together. And then the moment you break up it's all kind of weird because really, unless you have been dating for years, you don't really know each other that well and you have to reestablish things as being only friends.

So we kinda did this dance around each other for a bit, asking each other how we were, even though we already knew because we have been talking on the phone. Then we settled down, ordered some food and watched a DVD. We both sat on the sofa but there was no "touching" to start with. And then when the movie was over and we (I) had drunk quite a bit of wine we started talking. Not about anything consequential - just stuff. Eventually, slowly, feet start brushing together and hands find other hands and before you know it we're going at it on the floor. And then in the shower. And then in bed.

Ok, if you are new to my blog, then I'll give you a little history. Jake and I dated very intensely last November, after he picked me up at the gym, for literally about three weeks. Week two saw the two of us going to Paris for the weekend and it was just after that, that he broke up with me because there was the chance that I was going back to New York and he didn't want to get hurt further down the line. And that was the story of Jake and I (with a bit of appendicitis and nursing thrown in).

Jake is amazing on paper - very handsome, 32, financial lawyer at a big firm in the city, financially solvent, educated, mature, funny, great in the sack and, of course, has a legendary washboard stomach. Basically the dream man that I have had in my head since my first crush on Roger Taylor and the type of guy that I lust after from afar when I'm out at a club.

The conversations that we have been having on the phone ever since I told him that I didn't get the job in NYC have been kind of, erm, loaded. What I mean by that is that we have both been aware that now could be a good time for us to consider getting back together and trying to work something out. I had lots of conversations with friends about this over Christmas and the general consensus of opinion is that I should give it another try. We do make sense - there are no games being played, we're happy chatting or being silent together. Oh, and I can sleep in the same bed as him and not be tossing and turning all night. I sleep like a baby. That is RARE for me.

But the thing is, even though last night was, aside from the initial awkwardness, really cool and fun and sexy, I still have this nagging feeling inside - that being, I'm just not sure that I like him in the way that he has previously professed to liking me. The irony in the fact that I may have met the man of my dreams and yet I have kind of chilly feet has not escaped me. And most of my friends will tell you, absolutely in character.

I'm really jumping the gun here. He hasn't actually said anything to me yet about getting together. I have a feeling that we may just slip back into this and not actually discuss it at all, which is ok I guess.

We'll see. We'll see.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

First interview of the new year

Today was the first day in over a month that I actually had to be up at 7.30am. I had an interview with the Director of Communications of a very, very famous and prestigious cosmetics company at 10am. I actually could have gotten up later, but I wanted to have plenty of time to smoke my first cigarette (really, REALLY have to give that up this year), drink a couple of extra, extra strength coffees and have some toast. And learn the names of the beauty directors at the major magazine houses, whose names I have forgotten from being in New York.

Left the house, looking FINE and all suited up. I rarely get to wear a suit. I'm glad I never had a job where I didn't have to wear a suit every day, cause it makes the times that I do have to wear one extra special and it also makes me feel kinda sexy.

Anyway, I get to the company and Sarah, the Comms Director, comes to take me to her office. She's really, really nice and was very impressed at my extensive knowledge of the company (I used to do their PR in New York) and it's structure. Now I knew already that there wasn't necessarily a position available in the company, but I was kinda hoping, well you know, that I would wow her so much with my incredibly strategic mind that she would say "You know, I just have to hire you."

But while the interview did go well, she did end it by saying "As you know, we don't have any positions available at the moment, but I think you're great so I'll definitely be in touch should anything come up. You never know."

I put up a great front and said that was completely cool and that I understood, but I went away feeling slightly deflated. And because I am not very bright I then proceeded to check out all the sales in the various designer stores littering Bond Street, seeing what I couldn't afford, because there is no moolah coming in.

And I spent the rest of the afternoon playing Tomb Raider.

This not working lark is not good. I am SO BORED!!!

I do have a slightly welcome distraction though - this evening I am going round to Jake's. I haven't seen him for a few weeks now, although I have spoken to him a fair bit on the phone. We're staying in and watching DVD's and ordering Chinese food. I told him that I wasn't going to spend the night, which is a total lie, because I absolutely intend to stay over. Is that bad? Probably. But it's been almost three weeks now since I last got me some and I need to fix that, pronto!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Speaking of photography

A few years ago I went round to my friend Louise's house to get ready together for a magazine party that we were attending at Cafe de Paris in Soho. I think it was GQ's Man of the Year, or something like that.

Anyway, Louise is a friend from university, although we haven't spoken for a while. Total fashion babe, got the whole look goin on, but as some of my friends who have met her will testify, slightly vacuous (she once asked my friends Clare and Lucy "but how DO lesbians get carpet burns?")

So Louise and I are in her huge, lavishly-furnished bedroom titivating ourselves when I spot these two really lovely photographs of her and her then boyfriend, Adrian, framed and hung on the wall. In the first one, Louise is looking over her shoulder and laughing, looking serenely beautiful. "That's such a lovely picture of you," I tell her. She stops applying her make up for a second and follows my line of sight. "Oh yes, Adrian took it. He's fucking me from behind."

"Oh..." I respond, taken aback. The ethereal illusion is somewhat shattered. I go onto the next picture. It is of Adrian. His eyes are closed and he has this kind of dreamy expression going on. You can just see that he's wearing a suit and looks very debonair and handsome. "Adrian looks really sexy in that picture," I tell her. She looks up again. "Yeah. I took it. He's fucking me again. I think he's about to cum."

Ok, it's a visual anecdote I guess, but I thought I would share it with you.

(One of my best friends, Wayne, has started a blog. I guess I should wait to see if he is consistently good at it before I put a link to him on my sidebar, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. By the way - he is not a wannabe muscle mary. He is a CERTIFIABLE muscle mary. Wrote the book, sold the film rights, etc)

Monday, January 03, 2005

My new toy

You may have noticed that my last two posts have incorporated a number of photographs. The reason is this:

Casio_Exilim_EX_S_100

I bought it with some of the money that I got for Christmas. I love it. It has the exact dimensions of a credit card and only about six times as thick. It shoots at something like 3.5 megapixels. I have no idea what that means, but it's forcing me to believe it. The camera is even better than a boyfriend because it doesn't ask for anything more than an ample supply of electricity every now and then. And it thinks that I look great naked. And as we know, the camera never lies.

See?

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Best game ever

Me

No, I am not warning off an army of persistantly intrusive paparazzi, but participating in what I feel is the best game ever ... The Name Game.

Loads of you probably already know the game, but incase you don't, here is how you play it:

1) Arrange a group of friends into two to three teams of equal numbers of players

2) Each player writes a name of someone famous (literary, thespian, political, musical, etc) on a scrap of paper, folds it up and places it into a recepticle. We used a hot pink trilby hat, but you can make do with a saucepan or something. You want about 50 names if you have two teams of four.

3) First round: taking it in turns, a player has 60 seconds to explain as many names written on the pieces of paper to their fellow team mates as possible, based on an explanation without saying the actual name written down. For example, one of the names I pulled out was "Janet Street Porter" - an unfortunate looking British media mogul, who looks like my friend Ann, who was also playing. Me - "Female media mogul who looks like Ann!" Team responds - "JANET STREET PORTER!" Correct. Pull next name. At the end of the round each team counts the total number of names they won and records them on a sheet of paper. Then you all fold the names back up again and chuck 'em back in the hat. (Clare demonstrates how to play the first round, below, with "Hilary Clinton")

Clare

4) Second round: same format, only this time rather than verbally explaining the names each player, when it is their turn, mimes the name. Sometimes this can be easy. Sometimes not so easy. A handy hint - if you do ever pull out "Leon Trotsky" mime yourself being stabbed in the head with an icepick. Jerome demonstrates by miming "Nina Simone"

Jerome

See? Easy isn't it? Nina Simone.

5) Third and final round: again, same format, but this time each player describes each name using only ONE word. Lucy demonstrates by using the word "c**t" (George Bush Jr)

Lucy

Then each team works out how many names they guessed correctly, in total. The team with the most names wins.

Believe me when I say that this is the best game ever. EVER I tell you. Play it now. Even if you are on your own, although it may be quite easy.

(By the way, on the final round David, Ann's boyfriend, "did" Nina Simone with the word "Defecation", which clearly stumped us all. David is insistant that Nina Simone was famous for "doing her business" while performing on stage. None of us were at all convinced but still, I Googled using various relevant words, but there was nothing to support David's theory. However, he did seem pretty sure, so if you do have evidence supporting his claims, can you please let me know by posting a comment below? Thanks! Cheerio!)

Saturday, January 01, 2005

New Years Eve 2004, Kings Heath, Birmingham - A Photo Essay

The musical theme for the evening
carpenters

Milliner (that's hats) Philip Treacy's Spring / Summer 2005 Show was a resounding failure
mob

Christopher sacrifices one of Clare and Lucy's cats in the name of fashion
moi

Lucy about to introduce two very old friends
lucy's tits

Lucy incorrectly re-enacts the infamous Christine Keeler pose
vicky pollard

Helen re-enacts Madonna's "Material Girl" video, aided by David and Christopher
material girl

Big Ben blows his wad at the strike of midden-nightly
big ben

The hostesses demonstrate how to give good tongue
snog