Thursday, March 31, 2005



When I moved to NYC, from the moment I stepped off the plane, I would be asked a specific question a lot:

American - “So tell me buddy - what’s your star sign?”

Me - "Libra." Pause. "Can I have sex with you now?"

Infact, I was asked so frequently and in every type of situation (at work, in bars, in the police station holding cell) that I started to question how my star sign hadn’t featured more prominently in my US visa application.

This morning, in a cab on the way to a meeting with a magazine journalist, my exec Gillian asked me what star sign I was. ”Libra*/**,” I told her. “But I don’t actually take heed of such nonsense.” She asked why, so I explained.

Think about this – astrology is based on the position of the planets and stars in the night sky, right? Well, for a start we all know that the stars we see no longer exist. What we see is just light which has taken literally millions of years to reach us. By the time we see the light the poor star has given up all hope of being noticed and has imploded on itself and for a moment created a black hole which was followed by nothingness. Or maybe something. I don’t really know. I’ve never seen it happen. But spare a thought for the star - once a supernova, never a heavenly body. Poor thing. And so much competition and size issues to deal with. Some stars, such as our Sun, are very smug because the world revolves around them.

There is also the fact that, because of their position, species 505ZA, who inhabit Versace Prime in the Spottiswoode system (approximately 578.26 trillion billion gazillion miles due south-west of Earth), have a very different perspective of the night sky. No Dipping Spoon or Great White Porcupine for them. So, presumably, there are no 505ZA Scorpios?

But does that mean that they have a completely different set of astrological signs? Maybe they do. But then who really cares when species 505ZA are more famous for eating their toenail clippings than for being guided by celestial bodies (you know I was once told that I have a celestial body, blah, blah, blah...)

Finally, what about all these extra planets that keep being discovered every few years? How do they fit in?

In summation I told Gillian that basing ones personal quirks and foibles on a random pattern which...

a) technically isn’t there anymore
b) shifts depending upon ones position within our solar system and in the Universe to me a little astro-illogical. Then, of course, there is the other fact, which is that I am the most contradictory Libran to ever walk the Earth. I am not at all indecisive and I can be incredibly undiplomatic. But I am an incurable romantic and I am a stickler for surrounding myself with beautiful, graceful things. For example, all of my friends are extremely beautiful and graceful. Well, except for Drew, who is always breaking his jaw and stuff.

Eventually I finished my rambling small rant and Gillian looked at me and nodded in such a considered manner that I knew she had completely understood and now agreed with me. Finally! I had enlightened someone to the inherent ridiculousness behind astrology!

“Christopher, do you think the journalist will be interested in featuring teacups in the magazine?”

So often I am brutally reminded that cerebral thought of any kind is resoundingly absent from my chosen profession.

*September 27th. Should any of you wish to send me cash donations I would be happy to email you my bank details. Er...please?

** Here’s a little factoid to help you make friends and generally be a better person – Libra is the only astrological sign to be symbolically represented by something non-sentient (scales). The jury is still out as to whether Crabs are sentient, but I once heard that they “scream” when dropped in boiling water, so perhaps they are. Or was it Lobsters?

I know...

...that when I eat something with garlic in it my pores literally belch odours of the stuff for most of the consecutive day.

Why is it then that after drinking two litres, daily, of Volvic A Touch of Fruit mineral water I have yet to smell of strawberries?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Tube Incident - No.173.5

I’m not normally a mean person. In fact I’m really quite pleasant and mild mannered. No, really I am. What? Do you want to start a fight or somefink?!

Yesterday afternoon I was riding the tube to my gym in Bank. Even though it was a bank holiday and the carriages were fairly busy I did manage to get a seat next to a young woman who was sat next to her husband who in turn was holding their infant sprog on his lap.

After a couple of minutes of my being sat there the mother turned her head towards me. While at this point I wasn’t looking directly at her I could just about see that she gave me the briefest but filthiest of glares. Then she stood up and moved across to the other side of the carriage and sat in one of the empty seats where she did several eyeball rolls and head nods in my direction for the benefit of her husband, who probably hadn’t understood why she had moved.

As soon as she moved I knew that the reason was because the volume on my iPod was up too high. While I like to listen to my music loud I also know how annoying it can be for other passengers on the tube, so usually I’m good about turning it down especially when it’s busy. But yesterday I just forgot. Either way, in this instance I’m sure it suited her just fine to make such a dramatic statement by refusing to sit next to me rather than politely asking me to turn it down, which I would have done. So I didn’t particularly feel the need to do her any favours. And she was kind of ugly, anyway. And her husband was a weed. And he was wearing socks with sandals. I guess you could say that they weren’t exactly commanding my respect.

For the rest of the journey – a good six or seven stations – the bitch literally could not stop staring daggers in my direction. Every now and then she’d stop and turn towards her husband and the two of them would lean in towards each other and mutter something conspiratorially. Then she’d stare at me again.

By this point I wasn’t feeling in the least bit charitable and any tiny notion I may have been toying with, that I may have kindly turned down my music, was thoroughly put to bed. Instead I projected an outward look of complete indifference. I smiled sweetly and looked around the carriage as if I was just a really happy soul, thoroughly jolly from listening to Bruce Springsteen crooning over shattered dreams and the stench of soul destroying failure in the redneck heartland of small town America. Because everyone knows that there is nothing more annoying than being supremely pissed off with someone when that person looks like they couldn’t give a shit.

Now, while all of this was going on I was also munching away on a rather yummy Starbucks Oatmeal and Raisin cookie. When I’d finished the cookie I rolled the wrapper up into a ball and absentmindedly plopped it on top of the air-con vent, behind my seat.

Eventually the train started approaching Bank so I hopped up and made my way past bitch face and her short, painfully thin husband and sprog and continuing with the “I’m a bit vacant” airy expression I waited by the doors.

After a second or two of standing there I saw, out of the corner of my eye, that the husband was mouthing something to me. So I took out my headphones. “Sorry! I couldn’t hear you. My music was too loud!”

“You forgot to pick up your rubbish,” he said, pointing in the direction of the screwed up paper bag.

Before I continue with this story let me explain to you my personal approach to littering. First, I never ever litter in the countryside – not ever. This is, amongst other things, because I worry that a squirrel or an antelope might accidentally choke on my abandoned Coke can and die.

In urban areas I almost always hold onto my litter until I can find a bin to put it in. For a long time there were no bins anywhere on the underground system because of the threat of the IRA hiding bombs in them. But these days there’s not a really legitimate excuse as there is usually a plastic bag tied to a pipe or something (classy).

But occasionally, if it’s something like a small, empty, rolled-up, brown paper bag that has only ever been in contact with a relatively innocuous cookie anyway (i.e. not still containing the carcass of an roasted, seasoned chicken) I won’t really lose any sleep over leaving it behind. Perhaps I should, but when did English Heritage designate the Northern Line an area of outstanding natural beauty?

Back to the father's comment - clearly he didn’t really care about the littering element in this instance but was just making some passive/aggressive statement in relation to my loud music.

I looked down the carriage at the small rolled up brown paper bag and nodded, “Oh yeah!” And then I rolled my eyes as if to say, “I’m such a forgetful clutz!” So I set off back to my seat, retrieved the offending item and walked back toward the door.

And I really was going to take it with me. Really I was. But as the train pulled into the platform and the doors slid open I heard the hateful, evil hag quite audibly say to her husband, “Some people!

You…fucking…uptight…bitch, I thought to myself. I casually turned around, looked her straight in the eye, held my arm out and dropped the paper bag right at her feet before giving her the most insincere parting smile (think cute Japanese school girl – konitchiwa!). As I finally stepped off the carriage I hear the mother semi-yell “Asshole!” at me.

No. I’m a clever asshole,” I yelled back through the passengers getting on the train. “You two are just regular assholes.

I know what you’re thinking – that I was actually a bit of an asshole. But here’s what I say to you ... they pissed me off!!!

However, I learned my lesson. I will never listen to my music loudly on the tube again and from now on I will always take my litter with me.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I *heart* girls

I love my girlfriends.

For instance this evening, freshly washed and aching from the gym, I knocked on my friend Lindsay's front door and quickly ruffled my still slightly wet hair. Eventually, eventually, she answered and before I had the chance to say anything she practically collapsed into peals of laughter.


"It's just so, er, so...cute! Chris, you look like Charlie from Busted!!!"

[Charlie from Busted]

The thing is I don't look anything like Charlie from Busted, but regardless I love her for saying it. My boys, despite being gay, would still rather playfully punch me in the arm than pay me such a brilliant compliment.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

My Grandfather

The other day Maggie Hambling’s sculpture of Oscar Wilde became the unfortunate victim of vandalism when the vandals sawed off the offending fag. I know what you’re probably thinking, but no. This was not an act of homophobia. He was not vandalised because he was a famous bummer, but because the sculpture depicts him smoking. The vandals removed the cigarette he was holding in his hand!

A few weeks ago a French magazine airbrushed a Cartier Bresson photograph of Jean Paul Sartre appearing in the publication – a familiar practice in modern publishing, only this airbrushing procedure was to remove the cigarette from between his fingers.

I couldn’t help but wonder what both Wilde and Sartre would have said if someone had told them that there would be a point in the future where society would be more concerned by each ones lack of regard for their own health than for their “depraved, amoral, scandalous opinions and actions”? I’m pretty sure they would have found it highly amusing. In a way I suppose it’s a pretty good, if not ironic, indictment of how society has started to get it’s priorities right.

On a not entirely unrelated note, after having smoked for 60 years my 86 year-old Grandfather has finally quit. It would be a misnomer to cite his quitting as a good health measure as the cancer that is riddling his chest is gonna be taking him down pretty soon anyway. I saw him yesterday and congratulated him. With a wry smile he quipped, “Well, it was never doing me much good.”

A few years ago I worked on the Department of Health’s anti-smoking campaign. One of my roles was to organise publicity for an ad that Christy Turlington had appeared in for the NHS Smoking Helpline, in which she talked about losing her father, Dwayne, to smoking related lung cancer. During the media tour to publicise the commercial Christy, my boss and I had a lunch, over which we discussed some of the things that no one tells you about lung cancer. She said that while nursing her father the thing that struck her most was the smell of the cancer in his lungs. She said it wasn’t in itself an unpleasant smell, but for her it literally was the smell of death.

Prior to yesterday the last time I saw my Grandfather was at Christmas. He was diagnosed with having lung cancer back in October last year, so I was aware at Christmas that he had it, but he’d actually appeared to be fairly healthy and in fairly good spirits. When I saw him yesterday (he moved from my aunt’s house to the nursing home that my Mum works at last week) I was really, really shocked at how quickly he had deteriorated. He’s very, very thin now, almost skeletal in fact, and he has very little strength (for example, we have to leave the bathroom door open in his room because he can’t turn the handle). But what really bought it home to me was the smell that Christy had described. Before, when she’d mentioned that smell, there had been a part of me that had thought she was perhaps being a melodramatic supermodel. But sure enough there it was, enforcing me to visualise the cancer slowly, but surely, encroaching on his lungs.

At the very best he probably has about six months left. He knows that, although it isn’t really discussed. The thing is, he really wants to go back to my Aunt’s house, but it’s not a good idea as he has to climb the stairs to his bedroom and he isn’t really strong enough any more. Also, if he deteriorates any more while staying at my Aunt’s, he’ll end up having to spend his final days in an overcrowded ward at the Royal United Hospital in Bath. He’s able to stay where he is now and while he may not be able to close his bedroom door and while he may not have his family around him all the time (although as Mum works there, so he’ll see a lot more of his family than many of the other residents), he will be able to stay there until the end and it’ll be a lot more dignified and comfortable than the alternative.

The hardest thing for my Mum and my Aunt has been having these kinds of discussions with him without actually really referring to the finality. They’ve been doing their best, but they tend to get very emotional when talking to him, as he himself gets quite upset and tearful. So part of the reason that I went over to see him yesterday was not only to pay him a visit but because my Mum wanted him to receive another voice of opinion, to help him make a well informed decision as to what to do and where he wants to be.

I’d already told Mum that I wasn’t going to be softly, softly with him, because he’s already getting that from her and my Aunt. So I went in by myself and sat down next to him and for a while we talked about the football (clearly, being gay and knowing nothing about football, I talked a lot of crap). Then I began to steer the conversation onto the subject of his care.

I began by telling him that I didn’t like the colour of the walls in his room and that I was going to bring in some pink paint and a ladder so that he could decorate, which made him laugh (how my Grandparents haven’t clocked on to me yet, I will never know). Then I talked to him a bit more seriously. I told him that I wasn’t going to patronise him by beating around the bush. I asked him what the doctors had told him about his prognosis and he told me that they had said it would be a case of a few months (which I already knew). Then I said in that case I thought that going back to my Aunt’s wasn’t maybe the best thing to do and I explained all the reasons why he should maybe stay put - that it would be easier, more comfortable and that at the most important time he would have a greater degree of privacy than he would in a hospital.

We didn’t actually talk for very long, but he didn’t get upset which I was pleased about. I told him that he didn’t have to decide right then and there, but that he needed to tell Mum and my Aunt in the next day or so, so that they could prepare for him coming home if needs be. But I told him if he did decide to stay then we’ll bring him his TV and DVD player and that I’ll send him some DVDs. I asked him what movies he likes, fully expecting him to cite Gene Kelly movies, so I was a bit surprised when he said “Die Hard”.

When I dropped Mum off at the home this morning I popped in to see him for a few minutes and he told Mum and I that he thinks he has decided to stay put, which is good news. Apparently my Uncle had a similar conversation with him last night, so maybe together we’d convinced him. Anyhoo – it looks like I’m off into town soon to buy the Die Hard trilogy.

I wonder if I should sneak in a copy of Moulin Rouge or The Birdcage as well?

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Hate something. Change something.

I am at home in Bath for the weekend, taking it easy, putting my feet up, eating cute Easter chicks. Real ones.

If I want to have the use of mum's car for the day I have to get up at 6am and drive her to work. After I dropped her off this morning I decided to take a little detour so that I could make the most of the early morning sun and empty roads (beautiful, beautiful).

As I ambled along the country lanes around Westbury and Dilton Marsh, my wandering hand found a CD in the door pocket of Mum's car. It was the promotional CD for Honda's "Hate Something" ad campaign. Only some of you will have seen this ad, but it features a diesel engine bouncing about primary coloured meadows as little animals and smiling flowers look on in awe.

With vaguely curious interest, I popped the CD on fully expecting it to be full of shite Dire Straits B-sides (chosen by some 60 year old Honda brand manager). I was delighted to discover that it was actually a great compilation of eclectic, classic sing-alongs including "ABC" by the Jackson 5, "I Love Your Smile" by Chanice and "Dream a Little Dream of Me" by The Mamas and the Papas.

But right at the end of the CD, the bestest, most brilliant song ever to, um, feature in a car TV commercial.

"The Grr Song" by Be Nice to the Pigeons - the one which features in the Honda ad itself! Download it here!

It was glorious. Mum's little car bounced along the roads, I sang badly using my broken vocal chords, little rabbits in the fields I passed by stopped shagging each other for a second so that they could fully take in this jolly, musical, speeding, tropical blue little fun wagon.

I had become the living embodiment of a car ad. And all was right with the world. Who'd have thunk?

I just read something...

...which made it very clear to me exactly why I need to take down my Gaydar profile.

In other news, it would appear that my agency won the car marque. Apparently they loved all our ideas.

I never doubted it for a second.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Fashion "don't" no.2 - Thongs


So, after I referred to it in yesterday's post I decided to have more of an in depth look at the International Male website. Purely for, um, er...personal reasons...

On my travels I came across the "garment" featured above. There are some things in life that are so fundamentally wrong that they need to suffer a violent, prolonged, agonising death before spending eternity tending the red hot coals of Hell. Either that or they should be forced to have a political conversation with my Grandfather.

Thongs are definitely in this category and should not be worn by anyone. Ever. Don't question me on this. NOT EVER! Not even on cute strippers. Actually, especially not on strippers, because their generally impressive packages coupled with the contours of the thong creates an elephantine effect which is in reality not very attractive. Best to just let the equipment breath. That's what I say.

So to recap:



Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful...

Which do you want first? The good news or the bad news?

Ok, well the good news is that my hair is pretty damn long now. Freshly washed and blow dried it not only smells great and shines like the freshly oiled torso of an International Male catalogue model (thanks John Frieda with your Brunette Shimmer shampoo and conditioner range), but it now falls well below eye level (I know that you are all extremely interested in this development so I will do my best to post appropriate picture evidence here in the next few days.)

The bad news is that I am now forced to wear an Alice band at work to keep my hair off my face. It's clearly a case of function over fashion, but as my friend, Lindsay, kindly pointed out to me last week (as we did a trial run with her old, grey, stretchy make-up band) if anyone can carry it off, I can.

The real problem is that once I have worn the Alice band for an hour or so (in case you were wondering, a discreet, transparent, tortoiseshell brown - although I was tempted by the dusky-pink, padded gingham one Boots had on offer) and I remove it, my hair looks as if I've stuck my finger in an electric socket for a good couple of minutes. This rather unfortunate look means that I can't actually take the Alice band off for important public appearances.

Such as the gym this evening.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A short lesson in PR and a potentially big mistake

Last week I was feeling a little undervalued and generally overlooked at work. I know I have only been at the agency for a relatively small amount of time (a month and a half) and in any new job anyone has a fair bit to prove. But while I might be impatient at the best of times, the fact remains that I have worked in PR for nine years and without wanting to sound immodest I have a really broad brand marketing experience and I assumed that was one of the reasons I was employed for the job. Not only have I created and implemented pure media relations campaigns, but I have also devised and deployed strategy and PR mechanics for local markets to implement by themselves in Europe, North America, South America, the Far East and Australasia. And I have done this for some of the biggest, most iconic brands in the world including one rather famous cola manufacturer. No. Not that one - the other one.

As far as I was concerned the straw that broke the camels back was when I happened to learn, last week, that my company was pitching (today) for a luxury car marque. My agency (and all the people involved in the pitch) has no experience on working on car marques, whereas I do. In my time I have worked on [insert famous car marque] and [insert famous car marque] in the United Kingdom, and [insert famous car marque] in the US. As far as consumer publicity campaigns for car marques go, it’s safe to say that I know my stuff.

Now admittedly I am somewhat predisposed to jumping to the wrong conclusion. I assumed that there must be some dark power play going on behind the scenes, hence the reason behind my boss not inviting me to contribute towards the campaign strategy and platform and an even darker motive as to I was not asked to demonstrate my knowledge of the automotive industry at the pitch itself.

Of course the real reason that I wasn’t asked to do either of these things was because the pitch is highly confidential and I shouldn’t have actually known about it in the first place. The other reason is that my main boss (the company owner) didn’t actually interview me for my position and therefore had no idea I had all this relevant experience. It was only when I told her that I knew about the pitch and wanted to help out using my knowledge that she asked for my help.

Now, marketing directors are very aware that editorially placed, third party brand endorsement is at least three times more effective at influencing consumer purchasing decisions than advertising ever will be. But because in PR there are fewer overheads (no media buying, focus groups, creatives, etc) brand directors know that they can get away with paying their incumbent and prospective PR agencies a considerable degree less than they would have to pay their ad agencies to get three times the equivalent page space or air time. In actual fact in PR the overheads are so low that for some of my current clients return on investment (editorial vs. advertising space cost x total campaign value) is in some cases as high as 100:1. To the uninitiated, that is what we in PR call “a bit of a bargain”.

So, marketing directors absolutely get the value of PR, but won’t cough up in any significant way for it. Well some of them will. Most of them will try it on first. So getting back to this car company – my boss first shows me the brief we received in order for us to prepare for the pitch and write the document. As per usual the brief was extremely broad and the allocated budget was tighter than a ducks arse. But this company is so prestigious that they know we will take any amount of money to work on it. It’s kind of like God telling you that, yes, you can go out with Brad Pitt for life, but you’ll have to deal with the fact that he’s only ever going to fuck you up the arse with not so much as a simple reach around.

Actually, I could live with that.

Anyway, anyway – aside form the broadness of the brief and the fact that the budget was small a salient part of our remit was to create a campaign platform that would, in addition to speaking to the core target audience, also address, in a relevant manner, the Asian market.

The plan that my boss showed me, which she had written over the course of two weeks, was actually very well thought through, despite the fact that we had no real market intelligence or brand guidelines to work with. I liked most of the ideas and the ones that I didn’t think were so strong I gave constructive feedback for on how to make them work more effectively. Finally the suggested campaign platform completely took into consideration the Asian market.

But I had a question for my boss. I asked her - was she sure that when the marque briefed us to address the Asian market that they were talking about the Indian / Pakistani market, which she had taken the term “Asian” as referring to. Because in my experience at least, any campaign where I was asked to speak to an Asian market, was always referring to Far Eastern territories – Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese. Not Indian or Pakistani. My boss, who unlike me, has never worked on a Far Eastern campaign, assured me that if they had wanted to address a Far Eastern audience they would have definitely asked for an “Oriental” themed campaign – a term I have personally never heard used by a brand manager.

Now I will admit that I might have been wrong and she was right – but the only way to ascertain that would be to go back to the potential client and get them to clarify exactly which territories they were referring to. But my boss didn’t do that. Even though, in my mind, that would have been both logical and actually critical.

Today we went to the potential clients office and presented the pitch document. We presented well, they smiled and nodded a lot and at the end they told us that they recognized that we had collectively put a lot of effort and thought into our ideas.

But there was one thing. The one area of our pitch that they did not comment on was how they felt we had answered the part of the brief that asked us to address the Asian market (or as we had put it in the pitch, the “Indian and Pakistani” market). When my boss bought this element of the document up and asked them what their thoughts were we were met with a couple of seconds of stony silence and a few awkward looks. The response? “Yeah, it was great. Yup – good ideas.”

And the thing was, they weren’t good ideas. They were GREAT ideas. But only great ideas if we were indeed supposed to have been specifically talking to the Indian and Pakistani communities. Because if we were supposed to have been talking about anyone else we would have looked like fucking idiots.

I have a sneaking suspicion we might be the latter. And I think we might find out pretty soon.

One day someone will actually listen to me. But until then, I’m not holding my breath.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Spring is sprung

With a slightly mussed up, bleary eyed stagger I just went out onto the balcony to drink my morning cup of coffee and Spring excitedly leapt out at me and screamed in my face, "I'M BACK!!!"

The tree in the yard down below has little tiny, baby buds on it and just by its base there is a little, lone daffodil. The little birdies are singing happily and the old man face Sun in the sky is shining, unobstructed by a single cloud. It was like an episode of Little House on the Prairie. Even Sam, the neighbour's dog, seemed to be walking around sniffing things with a tiny sense of awe. Before peeing on them.

Yesterday it was so warm I went to work without a jacket for the first time this year. Today I think I may *gasp* go out just wearing a T-shirt!

What a difference a year makes

...or so the phrase, er, doesn't go.

It was exactly a year ago today that I ran out of the three months worth of prescription Ativan I'd pretty much become addicted to and had knocked back over the course of six days. This bought me out of the practically catatonic state I’d been in and my newfound sobriety totally freaked me out. So I tried to kill myself.

(Interestingly I found a site featuring guidelines on the use of Ativan. In the “warnings” section it states that Ativan should not be administered to patients displaying the characteristics of a severe depression. I’m not trying to shy away from taking responsibility for the things I did, but I can’t say that it doesn’t make me a little bit angry that I was ever given that drug.)

I've talked about it a lot before here, so I won't labour the point any more than I have to. Just suffice it to say that, 365 days later, I am in a very different place. But the best thing is that I don't feel either really ecstatically happy or desperately un-happy. I feel calm. I've come to believe that a pervading sense of calm is a highly virtuous emotion.

Today, especially, feels like a good day to live.

Friday, March 18, 2005

A good reason to work for my company

One of the great things about my job is that every lunchtime, at around 1pm, I get to stand up and yell out to my team, "I'M GOING TO GET MY LUNCH FROM FAT FUCK. DOES ANYONE WANT ANYTHING?"

And I'm sort of not lying...



Oh, the hilarity never wears off. For me at least. Can't speak for my team.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Fashion "Don't" - Men's Capri Pants


I mentioned last week that I am reading Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephan Greenblatt. One of the reasons cited in the book as to why Shakespeare was so great was because he was simply too good a playwright for the textual cavities in his plays to be the result of some kind of author's oversight or ineptitude.

Greenblatt reasons that Shakespeare frequently omitted explanations on purpose to create an illusion of metatextual depth. For example, why does Hamlet pretend to be mad? Why does Lago hate Othello? Why does Lear make his daughters do language love tests? We are never told. Apparently Shakespeare ignores the perfectly logical explanation in his original sources (The Gesta Danorum, Hecatommithi and Holinshed, respectively), so that he can demonstrate that the play is a totally perfect snapshot of a fully realised world that can be viably manifested beyond the confines of any of his work.

In other words, Shakespeare's apparent mistakes are the distinguishing mark of his genius.

Men's Capri Pants, however, are just a mistake.

Alistair is in the next room...

...naked, my housemate reliably informs me.

She came into the living room just to tell me that. Then she skipped off to the kitchen to grill sausages (the bitch has a one-track, freaking mind).

I hate her.

I love him.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Sir Alec Kenobi

I'm very aware that Sir Alec Guinness was blessed with a wide ranging acting talent that evoked both gravity and flair. But somehow his role in the Star Wars movies has tainted my appreciation of those skills.

Yesterday afternoon I was watching Dr. Zhivago on TV. Whenever he spoke using that powerfully commanding voice I found myself naturally expecting him to say something like, "General Yevgraf Zhivago? Now that's a name I've not heard for a long time. A long time."

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Attn: Barbara Broccoli - Eon Productions

Re: Suggested treatment for new 007 movie

Dear Ms. Broccoli

As I have been a fan of his for many years now, I am very excited to learn that Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee, Clive Owen, is being considered to replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, 007. I was also interested to learn that Eon Productions and Sony Pictures are keen to make some changes to the Bond formula, bringing the franchise up to date.

With this in mind, coupled with the possibility that Owen may be starring in the new vehicle, I have penned a suggested treatment. Once you have read it I would be very keen to hear your thoughts. Please find the treatment outlined below.

Yours sincerely

Christopher Esq.


Through the barrel of a gun, we observe Bond (Clive) - shirtless, toned and sweaty - walking across a white background. He spins around to face us and with a few choice put-downs really hurts the feelings of the unseen villain holding the gun. Big, fat tears roll down the screen.

The opening sequence
Bond attends a fabulous leather-themed South Beach circuit party. After intercepting a seemingly innocuous microchip from a dead leather-daddy in a backroom Bond avoids certain death at the hands of an evil henchman who goes by the name Thrust. Unaware that this will not be the last time he will encounter Thrust, Bond escapes out to sea in a small pod helmed by a beautiful, blonde, buff secret service hottie. Bond cracks open the Bollinger and proceeds to make a proper seaman out of the hottie. By fucking him.

The title sequence
Kylie croons the movie's theme-tune while dancing, flexing, naked muscle boys, S&M paraphernalia and grooming products float artily around the screen.

Bond is briefed by M
In the early hours of the morning Bond staggers out of Crash in London's Vauxhall and walks the twenty or so yards across the road to MI6 where Thruppencehalfpenny (Orlando Bloom) and Bond exchange several unsubtle innuendos about the tightness of Bond's clubwear. Because this is gay 007, they make good on the innuendos by actually fucking. They are impatiently interrupted by M (still Judy Dench) who buzzes through on the intercom. After Bond compliments a delighted M on her fierce Thierry Mugler suit, M explains to Bond that the leather-daddy he procured the microchip from was an employee of a famous French haute couture fashion designer called Max De Cherrypop and that the chip is one of two stolen from the US government – they can control an array of secret space weapons, each capable of immense mass destruction. Before Bond sets off on his mission M sternly gives him a warning. "Don't do too much bumming, 007."

Bond collects his gadgets
Bond visits the MI6 dungeon and receives the latest gadgets from Q (Ian McKellan). Q kits Bond out with a pink iPod Mini (which explodes after playing 60 seconds of Diana Ross's Chain Reaction), a retro Keith Haring Swatch (which can create a tear in the very fabric of space time) and a pack of condoms (which can prevent communicable diseases present in bodily fluids being exchanged through anal sex). Bond cracks a rubbish joke. Q tells him to stop being so immature.

Bond heads out
After seeing Bond's plane touch down, we are treated to panoramic views of the exotic location of Mykonos, all set to a classical version of the Kylie soundtrack.

Bond meets the villain
Bond attends a fabulous white-themed circuit party at the beachfront home of Max De Cherrypop (Richard Gere, adopting a thoroughly convincing French accent). Max immediately spots Bond and makes a beeline for him. A breathtakingly cute waiter passes by and Bond orders a drink. "Cosmopolitan on the rocks. Not frozen." Bond and Max exchange loaded comments that suggest neither one trusts the other. But they fuck anyway.

Bond uncovers some information
Bond snoops (wearing only a pair of tighty-whities) and locates Max's secret study and stylish Apple computer system. He instantly gains access to heavily encrypted computer files and deduces that Max has the second stolen microchip and is in control of the US government owned space weapons. He also discovers that they are set to fire at gay villages across the globe, including West Hollywood, Chelsea and Old Compton Street. Bond is vexed. Max seemed quite gay when Bond was bumming him a couple of hours ago. Why would he want to kill his fellow gayers?

Bond meets the Bond Boy
An intruder interrupts Bond from pondering the extent of Max's insane plan. After an extended and impressive Kung Fu and wrestling fight sequence both Bond and intruder end up on the floor, panting heavily. Bond is surprised to see that the intruder is the breathtakingly cute waiter from the circuit party (played by Adam Brody). After a heated and highly flirtatious discussion (and another wrestle) Bond learns that the waiter is actually a CIA spy called Lucky Bender. Lucky has been assigned to find out who it was who stole the prototype microchip and get it back. Lucky asks our hero who he is and 007 gets to utter the immortal line, "Bond. James Bond." Realising that they are on the same side they pledge allegiance to one another. Then they fuck.

Bond and Lucky get into a fight
Bond and Lucky attempt to escape Max's beachfront mansion. Lucky urges caution but Bond is too cocky and barely escapes the violent advances of several tweaked out muscle daddies. Lucky shouts "James! Be careful!" a lot.

Bond drives fast
Bond and Lucky procure a bright red Jeep Wrangler and an extended chase scene occurs involving incredible stunts and wanton destruction. Lucky "tuts" and rolls his eyes a lot because Bond is driving irresponsibly. Bond pulls over and they have their first argument.

Bond and Lucky find Max's secret base
Despite having no hard facts or solid information Bond and Lucky deduce that Max's secret base is hidden inside a remote mountain in Guatemala. To get to the base Bond and Lucky must hike through thick rainforest, wearing only Abercrombie cargo pants and practical yet stylish hiking boots. Both lament the fact that it is unlikely that there will be a fabulous, themed circuit party awaiting them at their destination. As they struggle on through the dense foliage we get to see lovingly extended shots of their sweaty torsos and arms.

Bond battles Max's dogs
Max sees Bond and Lucky enter the secret base on CCTV and sets his muscle daddies on them. Bond and Lucky are captured and Lucky is put into a sling. Rather than just killing him outright, Max leaves Bond to die a certain death by being eaten alive by Max's vicious sharpeis, in a deep pit from which there is no escape. Max continues with his plans but not before telling Bond his motive. It turns out that the gay boys of the world, a notoriously fickle bunch, have stopped buying Max De Cherrypop fashions in favour of more critically acclaimed designers. Therefore Max has decided that all gays must die. Bond says "But they are your brothers!" to which Max responds by laughing like the crazed lunatic that he is.

Bond escapes
Bond tries to blow the sharpeis up with the iPod, but he can't figure out how to use it and ends up playing Jennifer Lopez by mistake, which just pisses the sharpeis off even more. Lucky shouts out to Bond that he should use the retro Keith Haring Swatch to go back in time, which Bond does.

Bond creates an army
Bond goes to DTPM and rounds up a bunch of gayers to assist him in the vicious battle against Max's evil henchmen. Upon confronting the muscle daddies and seeing their really dated Max De Cherrypop outfits, Bond's gay army burst into peals of laughter, which makes the muscle daddies really embarrassed. Eventually Max's men are pacified when Bond's army stops laughing and offers some practical, sensible fashion advice. Realising they have been duped by Max they remove the unfashionable garbs until they are naked. Some of Bond's men and Max's men start getting it on.

Bond wins
Bond rescues Lucky and the two of them remotely disable the array of space weapons by destroying the stolen microchip. Then they take on Max who is now alone. Lucky strains his shoulder, which has been playing up ever since he fell off the climbing wall at Crunch. Bond takes on Max alone. After an extended fight scene Bond finally has Max cornered and threatens to shoot him. Max tells Bond that he knows he won't shoot because after they fucked Bond told Max that he loved him. Bond says that he only said that because he was tweaking out on X. Max dies of a broken heart. Bond sheds a single tear.

Max's secret base avoids destruction
Bond finds Lucky who has miraculously recovered from his shoulder strain. Bond wants to destroy the secret base, but Lucky convinces him not to because an interior designer has obviously gone to a lot of effort to make the base look pretty and the lighting is very flattering. Bond agrees and rigs his iPod Mini up to the computer system and everyone has a fabulous secret-base themed circuit party.

Final battle with Thrust
Thrust reappears. He is upset at Bond for killing Max by breaking his heart, as Max was Thrust's mentor and they also used to have quite a lot of hot sex. Bond and Thrust fight, but Thrust gets the better of Bond and starts to throttle him, muttering "Bitch!" a lot, under his breath. Bond escapes a certain death when Lucky shoots Thrust in the back of the head.

Max's secret base is destroyed anyway
Just as we think the action and suspense is over, the iPod starts playing Chain Reaction and Bond still can't figure out how to operate it properly. Bond manages to evacuate everyone from the base but suddenly Bond and Lucky become trapped by a large piece of rigging and realise that they might die. Bond notices Max's escape pod and he and Lucky buckle themselves in. With a few seconds to spare they are blasted through the top of the secret mountain base. Beneath them we see the mountain explode.

Bond is located
Back in the MI6 dungeon M asks Q to locate Bond's whereabouts. Q patches in to a surveillance satellite and zooms it's sights into a section of ocean. Eventually we see Bond and Lucky on a life raft. They are fucking. "What is 007 doing?" enquires M, to which Q dryly responds, "I'm not sure ma'am, but it would appear that he's getting lucky."


Friday, March 11, 2005

Me, not looking my best

Last night I went out for dinner with my friends Richard and Lynda. I see Richard all the time but I haven't seen Lynda probably since sometime in July last year, so we had lots to catch up on.

At one point during dinner Lynda exclaims "Oh my God! How is your jaw now?" She was referring to the unfortunate incident that happened to me last September when I broke my jaw (if you want to know the specifics check out the September 13 post last year in my archives. I would put a link, but my links system for each day doesn't seem to want to work).

I explained that I am much better now and that the only real reminder is a few buggered up back teeth and a skewed bite.

Then Richard starts telling Lynda how hideously deformed and ultimately GROSS I looked the day after it happened when he, along with Drew, Kate and Vix, came to laugh at visit me in hospital.

"Infact," he gleefully exclaimed, "I think I still have a picture in my phone!"


Attractive, wasn't I?

Given that I have had the courage to put that picture up on my blog, never let it be said ever again that I am even remotely vain!

(And what is my hair doing?!)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Another great date...

His name is Alistair. He’s 34 and while he looks his age he still has that naughty, twinkly-eyed, boyish (but very chiselled) charm thing going on. His hair is dark brown and cropped fairly short, but you can see that it’s starting to go salt and pepper grey at the sides which I’ve always found really attractive. Then there are his intensely blue eyes, great skin, full kissable lips - the list goes on.

Bodywise, we’re talking total rugby player (he was actually wearing a rugby top) - big and muscled, but not defined. When he leans forward over the table to talk to you all you can focus on are the mountains of his chest and biceps, stretching through the cotton of his top.

Last night Alistair came over to the flat for a late dinner – chicken breast wrapped in Parma ham and potatoes roasted with basil and olives. He’s very intense and I kind of bookish, I guess. When you talk to him you're totally confident that he's completely focused on what you’re saying. And then, just for a few seconds, you can see that he’s quietly considering what he’s going to say in return. Have you ever noticed how when someone does that it makes you really listen to whatever they subsequently say so much more seriously?

“Hmm. That’s a really interesting point. Put like that I guess I can see that whale hunting isn’t so bad after all.”

Anyway, we shared stories of our work, our youth, our families – some sad and some funny. And we laughed and laughed (oh, his laugh!) until there were tears in our eyes and the muscles in our stomachs ached.

And the best thing? He doesn’t drink alcohol! Only tea!

It was the perfect evening. And as we all know, there is only one perfect way to end the perfect evening.

“Alistair, er, shall we, er…?” (With head, gestures in direction of bedroom)

“Erm, sure. So anyway, it was really nice to meet you Christopher! Maybe see you soon?”

“Yeah, definitely! Great to meet you! Night Alistair! Night Victoria!”

From my seat at the kitchen table I watch them walk up the hall and disappear around the corner and into Vix’s bedroom.

She sent me a text this morning. All it said was "HUGE!"

Smug cow.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Uneventful tube journey

I took my seat on the southbound Northern Line train at Stockwell station. As I fished around in my man-bag to retrieve my book (finished Flaubert - am now reading "Will in the World - How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare". This is all payment to my brain for excessive Dan Brown-ing) I noticed that I had spilt some of this morning's Pret coffee down the front of my favourite pink sweater.

*relieved sigh*

And everything was right in the world.

Monday, March 07, 2005


...this is becoming less and less funny...

This evening, on the tube, again, a man four seats down from me stood up and punched the woman, who had been stood above him, in the face. He just freaking punched her in the face! She hadn't done anything to him from what I could tell - she was just quietly reading a book. And until that moment the guy had just looked like a regular guy in his 30s.

No one hit the passenger alarm, or went to the woman's aide. I was really ashamed of myself afterwards for not doing anything. Clearly very scared and shocked the woman just scrambled down the carriage, through the people, while the man stayed where he was and just glared at her.

At the next station she got off the train. Then the doors closed, the train moved away and the guy sat down. As if nothing had happened. Gradually people started getting up and moving away from him, obviously scared for their own safety.

It was one of the strangest things I have ever seen. And it was definitely scary. And crazy. Animals do that kind of thing, just going for each other - but not humans. Not like that, do they? He didn't even look drunk. Just kind of wild eyed for only a few moments. And then normal.

I don't know what the hell is going on in this town...

Happy Day, Mom!


I was a good son and took my Mom for lunch. When she offered to pay for the bill I let her. What? She wanted to, ok? Who am I to deny my Mom anything she wants to do on Mother's Day?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

A cruel irony

It's just been realised for me that if a hot guy appears in a gay lifestyle magazine, it more than likely means that he's straight.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Throat Update

vocal photo

“Oh my God! What are all those lines in my throat? WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?” I mock-exclaimed as the doctor handed me this printout.

With grave seriousness he responded, “Our printer isn’t working very well at the moment.”

Some of you are aware that I have a partially paralysed set of vocal chords. Yesterday I finally got to see the throat surgeon who is going to correct the problem. But before I go into the outcome of the appointment, would you like a little anatomy lesson? Well regardless, you’re going to get one anyway.


(a) A healthy pair of vocal chords (shaded areas)

(b) A partially paralysed pair of vocal chords

Vocal chords perform two functions. Despite their name, our vocal chords raison d’etre is actually not to help us speak. That’s an unexpected bonus. Their most important function is to stop food and drink going down into our lungs. When you swallow those shaded areas (the white bits in the top right of my photo) close together, sealing off your windpipe.

The problem with my vocal chords is not that they don’t close together, but that they don’t fully open up after I have swallowed and move fully when I speak. This lack of movement has resulted in two problems. The first is that my airway is restricted by almost three quarters. This means that I get out of breath really quickly when I do anything aerobic (including walking) or when I talk for too long. The second is that my vocal range is really limited. My voice is very deep and gravelly and I certainly can’t reach the notes required to sing (not that I could before anyway). As I mentioned before, this has been the only positive thing, as I get lots of comments now on how sexy my voice sounds.

The surgeon told me that in order to alleviate these problems he has to laser away part of the vocal chord with the least amount of movement, which is the one on the right. This will give me more breathing capacity. But take too much away and it could mean that not only does my voice change again (it would become more “whispery”) but that also there would be a greater likelihood of my coughing and spluttering when I eat and drink.

Because the procedure is irreversible he wants to do it a bit at a time. This way we can see how I heal, how my breathing improves, ensure that my voice doesn’t change too much again. It also means that we can limit the chance of the coughing / spluttering thing.

(c) This is how my vocal chords will look after the procedures:

The only problem with this is that I will have to have at least three separate surgeries, under general anesthetic, to fix it over the course of this year. Looks like 2005 is going to have as many hospital visits for me as last year did! The first op is on April 22.

I’m not going to say that I’m not disappointed that the procedure isn’t going to be quite as straight forward and risk free as I was hoping it would be. Yesterday I was pretty pissed off and upset. But after thinking about it I have to concede to one important thing:

Had I not taken the overdose last March I would not have had to have the emergency intubation procedure that caused the damage to my vocal chords. While that procedure may have provided me with a lot of grief and hassle over the last year, it saved my life. It's a small price to pay for my still being here to tell the tale.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The tube passenger from Hell

What with news stand splatting and viciously mean old women, my journeys to and from work have become more and more bizarre. Perhaps they should form the crux of a new comedy skit show:

(Radio Times listings)

Thursday, March 3, 2005
BBC3 – 10.00pm
In which our hero even manages to screw up selecting a seat on a tube carriage.

This evening I went to a magazine party. It was crap. The champagne was warm, the canap├ęs were stale and there was a live band, the type of which you would hire for a wedding reception (“That’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh…") And absolutely zero cute boys. By 9pm I’d totally worked the room, at least twice, and decided that it was safe for me to chip off home in time to watch ER and Fool Around With My Boyfriend.

The tube wasn’t that packed. But for some stupid reason, I unconsciously sat next to some guy (not a hottie), despite the fact that there were plenty of solitary seat choices.

So, I was buried deep in my book (“Oh, why, dear God, did I marry him?”) when the guy next to me coughed. It was a cough so deep, hacking and penetrating that it forced me to abandon my reading and vividly imagine viscous phlegm slowly slipping down a pinky-white mottled windpipe.

After a moment or so I’d managed to erase that nasty vision from my mind and was back in Flaubert’s world of high romance, voracious spending and wicked adultery. But only for a few moments as my neighbour decided to spark up a Malboro red.

On the tube.

By this point I’d totally abandoned all hope of discovering whether Emma Bovary would get a good seeing to by the Viscount d’Andervilliers as a result of “accidentally” dropping her fan on the ballroom floor. Instead all I could consider was that my fellow commuters (who were all averting their gaze in a way that said that they were 100% focused on what was happening to my right) might think that the issue sat next to me was my boyfriend. Because, despite the fact that there were many vacant seats left, right and opposite us we were indeed sat together.

Fortunately the excruciating “I can’t believe this is happening 30cm away from me”-ness was short lived as, after only a few puffs, the-most-hateful-fellow-Underground-traveler-ever decided he’d had enough of his cigarette and dropped it on the floor, treading it out with his Reebok classics.

And the rancid fog (literal and otherwise) that I had been immersed in for the past few moments began to lift.

That was until he pulled a small brown bottle from his jacket pocket, unscrewed it and bought it up to his nose, drawing a couple of powerful inhalations through both of his nostrils.

Oh God, I thought. He’s actually sniffing poppers on a tube train.

By this point I'd experienced about as much as I could handle. I closed my book, picked up my bag and strode off, disgustedly, to the end of the carriage.

Ok, I’ll admit that I shouldn't be too sanctimonious about such things. But there is a time and a place, for crying out loud!

For example, 5.30am on a Sunday morning in some randoms bedroom in Acton. Er...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Grrrr! (Ouch!)

This morning I was walking down the King's Road, listening to the brilliant Nightmares on Wax (why, why am I always the last to know?), when I spotted this Benetton model on the side of a bus:


"For heaven's sake!" I thought to myself. "How can one person have such perfect hair? I want my hair to look like that! Gianni Versace model circa 1985. Oh, and I want to have sex with him."

As I thought these things I was not aware, as the bus slowly ambled past me with the direction of my gaze and head following, that I was about to walk into an object. Of course, me being me, I couldn't just walk into any old pavement object like a lamp post or a phone box. No, no, no. I walked into a news stand. A freaking 6 x 5 ft RED news stand. And it really hurt! The part of my body that took the hardest blow was my right ear. This pushed my earphones in so hard that my ear began to bleed from inside.

(It's not entirely irrelevant for me to point out that, weirdly, the exact same thing happened to me last year, only it was a lamp post I walked into cause I'd been looking at an overflowing drain or something boring like that)

The icing on the cake was that Rob, the drop-dead-gorgeous account exec from the company's fashion department, who I have fancied pretty much from day one, was walking a few yards behind me and saw the whole thing - the lusting after the Benetton model and his hair as well as the slapstick splaying against the side of the news stand. At the time he was really sweet and actually quite concerned when he saw that I was bleeding slightly profusely.

However, once my ear had scabbed up I really just wanted to forget the whole sorry episode. But apparently I wasn't allowed to as the Gods had deemed that every time I ventured out onto the stairs Rob would also be there to not so subtly draw everyone's attention to the fact that I am a clutz with a gammy ear.

I don't fancy him anymore.

But I do fancy Benetton boy. Look! He lost his shirt!


Wednesday, March 02, 2005


(Not me, before you start to worry! Well, not yet anyway.)

As you know, I have only been working for my new company for four weeks. Anyone who has worked in any company for any amount of time knows that there is a cycle of three emotions related to the duration of employment:

1) Willingness – months 1 thro’ 3. Utmost respect and awe for company, company employees and company property

2) Paranoia – months 4 thro’ 6. Review of three-month probation period was on the whole ok, but there were minor concerns over time keeping. Also concerned (and aroused) by the fact that straight Tim from accounts saw you surfing

3) Apathy – months 7 thro’ ? Total lack of regard for company and company employees with theft of company property pretty much constituting fraud perpetration on a massive scale

Now, part of my remit as team director is to handle the hiring and firing of staff. For the past two weeks one of my account managers (I’m currently reading Madame Bovary, so we’ll call her Emma) has been holidaying in South Africa. During her absence and my getting to grips with the team and our clients accounts I have discovered that Emma has recently been responsible for a catalogue of poorly covered up errors. Had I not identified them (go me!) and not had the team rectify them, said errors would have resulted in catastrophic disaster. You may chortle at the seemingly ridiculous drama in my choice of words, but catastrophe and disaster are in daily abundance in PR land - a place where irony, good humour and a bit of healthy self-deprecation never existed in the first place.

Going back to afore mentioned stages of employment related emotional attachment / detachment, I am still very much at stage one. I will do anything, anything, to be liked and to fit in. Even if that means grassing up Emma for her cock-ups.

In all honesty the cock-ups were genuinely rather humongous clangers and there was already a bit of a history there, prior to my waving the flag. So yesterday the company MD informed me that Emma’s employment would be terminated. Thankfully, because I am still new, the MD decided to do it instead of me. Phew!

Today was Emma’s first day back in the office and while she had been none the wiser, all day I was aware that at 5pm she would be ruthlessly booted out, never to return. Therefore, without raising too much suspicion or alarming her, I needed to glean as much work related information as possible before the dirty deed occurred:

"Emma, hi! How was your holiday? Wow! That sounds fantastic! So anyway, when you get a moment could you send me just a quick email specifically and explicitly detailing the ongoing progress on all of your five accounts, confirmed media appointments for the next month, all product placements, client billing, reviews, proposals and scheduled client meetings? Oh and if you’re popping to the kitchen I could murder a cup of tea! Thanks babes!"

At 5pm she gets summoned to the MD's office. I was totally expecting her to come out in a fit of histrionics, but instead she very calmly packed up her stuff and after a few discreet fairwells she quietly left the office. F-o-r-e-v-e-r.

And I felt terrible! Wretched! Tormented! I felt a participatory guilt that I had previously been unaccustomed to. So in order to relieve myself of this new, profound angst I went to see my MD to find out how Emma reacted as she took the news. My MD was great and assured me that Emma would be fine. But I didn’t feel an awful lot better.

That was until I realised that my internet browser has this function that, once activated, automatically downloads my favourite blogs onto my handheld at 6pm every day, meaning that I can read them on my way home every night!

“Hooray” for being mostly dead inside!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I might get flamed for saying this...

...but I feel more than a little sympathy for Maxine Carr.

Because of what I do, every morning I read each newspaper front-to-back (not counting sports pages, of course!) Actually, that’s a lie - I don't technically "read" the tabloids. I scan them. I do even less with the Daily Mail. I do a kind of sideways glance while barely touching it, even though I'm donning those white, latex gloves that Amanda Burton wears in Silent Witness. The two newspapers that I actually read for objective reporting are The Guardian and The Independent.

If I only read the tabloid press I would most likely be of the mind that Maxine Carr's mortal soul is doomed to burn in the eternal fires of Hades, but not before she is ripped apart, limb by limb, by some blood-thirsty, soccer-mum lynch mob. I know this, because on Thursday and Friday I had three separate conversations with friends and family who pretty much are of that mind - all of whom are devout Sun / Mirror / Mail readers.

This isn’t supposed to sound like some sort of stuffy intellectual snobbery - it really isn't supposed to come across like that. But had they read something with a few less pictures and a few more nouns and adjectives they would be a little more enlightened to certain facts. Such as, at the time of lying to the police for her lover, Carr was herself a genuinely sad, beaten down and mentally unstable victim. She was not a hideous child-killing or abusing monster the gutter press have and still are painting her as. She was never even close to a Myra Hindley or a Rose West. But these not so subtle comparisons have indeed been made, on countless occasions and, for the most part, have remained largely unchallenged.

It's also struck me that Huntley got off quite lightly really, considering that he was infact the soul homicidal maniac. I guess this is another example of a very complicated form of sexism - for what is worse than a monster, but a female monster? In fact so desperate was the media to have a reprise of the Hindley and West scenarios that at the time of the whole furor around the case it would make several completely unsupported claims which included suggesting that she concealed evidence and that it was actually her who suggested to Huntley that he should burn the girls bodies. The courts later established that these claims were wholly untrue and, at the time of lying for Huntley, that Carr was also unaware of the real extent of his crimes.

But then when has the truth ever been a valuable commodity for shifting papers?

On Friday I coaxed myself into reading the Daily Mail’s coverage of the story. I had to deal with the very real threat that I might vomit at any moment, but I got through the ordeal in the end. The news feature that I read was based on some really dubious claim that the false identity protection that Carr is being provided with will cost British tax payers at least £50million. It goes without saying that this illogical figure was not backed up or explained in any detail. But it doesn't make a lot of difference anyway, because had the press done what they are supposed to do (at least in Christopher's rosy tinted view of the world) they would have covered the whole issue with some degree of respect, objectivity and compassion. And the cost for Carr's official protection would have been minimised.

I hope this is not true, but I think I might belong to a minority who believe that Maxine Carr's only real crime was to lie for the man she loved. From what I have read and understand, that was all she did. Perhaps it was stupid, misguided, whatever, but each of us is capable of doing incredibly dumb things for love.

But this is what I hope the most - I hope that I’m not the only person who can see that the real monsters in this whole sorry mess are the cretin writers who have sunk the journalistic profession to previously unrealised depths of soul-selling idiocy by encouraging such vitriolic public hatred.