Thursday, June 30, 2005

Tom talks rubbish

As many of you know, I have been subject to extensive psychiatric treatment for the majority of both my teenage and adult life. Last year, for reasons I won't go into again, I decided to take myself off my prescrition medication. If you are a regular visitor here, you will know that I feel that the change in my overall mood and my ability to deal with everyday problems has been quite remarkable. Infact I believe that the years spent taking those drugs was, in actual fact, detrimental to my overall mental health and really responsible for much of my anti-social behaviour.

However, while I feel very strongly that anti-depressive medication is definitely not for me, I do believe that psychiatry and the appropriate medication definitely has it's place in the world. Probably more so today than at any other point in history. Modern life is, emotionally, very taxing, so sometimes we need some help to get through the dark, dark times that almost all of us will experience at various points as we plod on through our worlds.

I am really beginning to dislike Tom Cruise. Historically I have had very little interest in him. As far as I'm concerned, he's kind of bland. He definitely has some kind of screen presense, and there is no doubt that he is very good looking. As to whether or not he's gay, I didn't used to think so, but recently his declarations of love for Katie Holmes, well ... perhaps the "lady" doth protest too much?

In an interview with NBC-TV's Matt Lauer, Tom denounced psychiatry as a "pseudo-science" after being asked about his stance against anti-depressant drugs. A couple of weeks ago he criticised Brooke Shields for taking anti-depressants after the birth of her daughter in order to counteract what was apparently a severe post-natal depression.

A fellow blogger wrote about this interview this week and asked why Lauer, upon hearing Tom's tirade against the psychiatric extablishment, had not pushed him to explain why psychiatric patients should follow the advice of an actor and not that of their qualified doctors.

While, in my mind and a in a few others, there is a question mark over the mental sanity of anyone who jumps up and down on a sofa, on international TV, declaring his love for someone he only met a couple of months prior, Tom's comments don't appear to be a prompted by a personal psychiatric condition. We all know that he is a dedicated follower of the Church of Scientology, which, as far back as the 1960s has been rabidly against the institution of psychiatry. This belief is key to the overall mission of the church's founder, Ron Hubbard.

While there is no denying that some patients have occasionally benefitted from the church exposing cases of extremely poor psychiatric care, this doesn't mean that the overall Scientologist argument actually stands up upon closer inspection. Scientologists are most often irrationally opposed to scientifically supported treatment in the forms of both therapy and medication, which have been life-saving for millions of people all over the world.

The inherent problem with psychiatry, in all it's many forms and treatments is that it is not an exact science. We all know that and I think that most of the scientific community would agree. It's well documented that the human brain is the most unchartered and indeed the most mysterious part of the human body. Because of my own negative experiences at the hands of the psychiatric community in both the UK and the States, I, for one, welcome intelligent debate on the subject. But what really annoys me most about Tom's comments was his inability to provide alternative treatments for people suffering with mental illnesses: what treatments does the Church of Scientology suggest using? Does it run hospitals for people suffering from clinical depression, bipolar disorder, personality disorder, etc? Will it take legal responsibility for patients care? Do they have indepent proof that it's methods are effective?

However unlikely, maybe Tom has done his homework and he does know what he's talking about. But someone with a high-profile voice is being entirely irresponsible and not doing anyone any favours when they publicly denounce treatment that is widely held to be the best that we have available. If Tom can't outline what treatments he would recommend and show us evidence that they would work, then he really should stick to what he's best at - publicising his new movie.

Christopher considers charity

Two of my friends owe me approximately £20 each. This morning, as I drank my cup of tea, a wave of benevolence swept over me and I considered taking heed of the advice Bob Geldof is proffering to the various leaders who are soon to attend the G8 summit in Gleneagles.

I thought to myself, perhaps I should cancel my friends' debt?

Then I thought that maybe I should not only cancel their debt, but also offer them monetary aid. In line with the agreement signed by world leaders at the 2002 Monterrey Financing for Development Conference I should offer them aid packages constituting 0.7% of my annual salary - amounting to £158 each.

And, quite frankly, this isn't going to happen.

So then I realised that it would be much more fortuitous for me to listen to the World's banks. Therefore, as of today, I will be heaping an inordinate amount of interest onto my friends' debts. I feel that it's important to make them understand that borrowing is a serious matter and one not to be taken lightly.

As Thatcher once said, "If you can't afford it today, then leave it out." Or something like that. And what a wise woman she was.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Christopher's Fashion Advice 101 - sunglasses

(via an email exchange with my friend, Katie)

Katie: Do you know where I can get pink sunnies??!!!!

Christopher: Why the hell would I know, bitch?!

Katie: I'm shocked to the core you BITCH!!!! I think of you as a style guru! Given that colored sunnies are so this season, thought you may know! God some people!!!

Christopher: Oh! I thought you were implying that I would know because pink is the international colour for dudes who like taking it up the wrongun. But in that case (me being a style guru), Chanel has some really great, candy-pink, plastic sun's with tortoise-effect temples (arms to you.) But if you're short of cash I could russle a pair with an old pair of 3D cardboard glasses, some cling-wrap and a pink Crayola?

Monday, June 27, 2005

The most depressing email ever

As my last post stated, I am currently working in Wimbledon, which is an unusual location for a PR company to operate from, most of them preferring to be relatively positioned around central London, as that's where most of the media is situated.

I am doing the PR for financial services. Given the fact that my professional background is steeped richly in fashion and grooming PR, I'll leave it up to you to decide how bored you think I am right now.

I am on the books of about five recruitment agencies. I have little experience of any other kind of recruitment agency, but I can reliably inform you that PR recruitment agencies are not a whole lot of cop when it comes to, er, PR recruitment. I guess if I was an actor I would have only one agent. But in my line of work it seems to be wiser to throw the net out wide. I should point out that I have never acquired a job through an agency, always managing to snag one myself.

One of the companies is unbelievably rubbish and even though I have been on their books for about eight months they have yet to send me on an interview or even tell me that a position is available ... anywhere.

However, on Friday I received an email from my agent at this company. Given that the title read "Hello!" and that I had not spoken to her in about four months, I could only assume that she had found me some to-die-for position in the most global PR agency in the world, directing the international PR for Gucci, working closely with Tom Ford.

It was an invitation. To her birthday party.

The idea that my poor agent was so short of friends that had been forced to invite me, someone she had only met once for about five minutes and spoken to only three or four times briefly on the phone, to her birthday party was so depressing that I almost wanted to attend.

But then I read that it's happening at O'Neill's pub in Putney. I don't think so.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

New balls

I just had an "ick" moment. Kind of.

I am working a few hundred metres away from the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Association which, as you may or may not know, is currently holding its annual grand slam tournament.

So me and my friend Lindsay, who also works in the locale, were sat outside the Dog and Fox pub, eating panini, nursing pints of cold cider, soaking up the summer sun and gossiping about stuff n' shit. All of a sudden I got distracted by the sight of six immaculately groomed, Wimbledon ball boys, casually sauntering past us, dressed in head-to-toe white: white cotton pants, white tennis shoes and white cricket sweaters.

The overall effect was quite mesmerising and I began to imagine myself in a gay tennis-porn, locker-room showdown with these white-clad hotties. Picture it - "Excuse me, but I think you just dropped your balls ... " etc, etc.

Lindsay stopped talking, looked at me and then followed my line of vision and clocked what I was checking out.

"Chris! That's disgusting," she exclaimed. "They’re about 16 years old!"

I tried to reason with her that they looked at least 18 and even if they were 16, they were still "legal", but she wasn't having it.

So, for the first time in my life, I was made to feel like a dirty old man.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Girls are dumb

Well, ok ladies, I know you're not really dumb, but you have to admit that you are very slightly "special" (pejorative) when it comes to technology, aren't you? At least, that has been my experience, especially of late.

Three examples:

Yesterday morning I noticed that one of my colleagues who sits across from me, well call her Pam, was slowly getting more and more frustrated with something that her computer wouldn't seem to want to do.

After a few minutes of watching Pam inching closer and closer to throwing her rather sexy, slimline Sony Vaio laptop out of the window in an explosion of super-colossal rage I eventually leaned forward and, so as not to feel the full extent of her wrath, whispered, "What's wrong?"

"It's my laptop," she explained, the vein in her temple waving at me. "I'm trying to open someone's CV and my computer won't let me!"

I leaned forward a bit more and pulled her laptop round towards me. "Show me what you're doing," I told her. So she moved the mouse cursor up to the "File" dropdown and clicked on "Open", by which point I had already ascertained what the problem was.

"Pam," I say, trying my best not to be patronising, because Pam is technically more senior than me. "You're trying to open a Word document in Outlook."

Just over a month ago I persuaded my Mum to buy a new Mac Mini to replace the ancient iMac I gave her about three years ago.

Unfortunately I wasn't there when she tried to set the thing up, which meant that I got called with a zillion and one stupid questions like, "The booklet tells me to put the CD into the hard drive. What's the hard drive?"

Now don't give me that spiel about it being harder for people of my mother's age to learn even the rudimentary aspects of modern technology. Besides, she's only 53. It's been proven that there is no physiological reason (aside from actual ailments like Alzheimer's or senile dementia) why old people should suddenly become stupid. It's not that they can't work it out themselves; in my opinion it's because they're lazy. They have grown up children or grandchildren to rely on to install their new microwave. I'm not afraid to call my Grandma an asshole if she can't figure out how to plug in her brand new toaster. Yeah! I'll kick her in the shins too, the bitch.

Regardless, I let my mum off the first few dumb questions. But I did lose my temper with her when she called me during a client meeting. Normally I won't answer my mobile during a meeting, but when I saw my mum's number flash up (especially given the fact that my Granddad recently died) I figured that it must be something important. So I quickly excused myself and slipped outside to take the call.

"Mum, I'm in a meeting. What's wrong?"

"It's the computer."

"Mum! I'm in a meeting! Can't this wait until after I finish work?"

"Well just quickly then. The new flat screen I just bought. It won't turn on. I've tried everything but it won't work. Do you know what it could be?"

Upon further investigation, my mother and I established that the monitor was not plugged in to the power. No joke. Her logic was that she thought the "hard drive" (see, she learned one thing!) provided the power for the monitor, but I explained to her that would be like assuming that her DVD player provides the power for her TV.

This morning my housemate informed me that she had not been able to listen to any music on her iPod for almost a week because someone had locked it and she couldn't work out how to un-lock it. Handing the offending item over to me she asked if I could fix it.

I flicked the "Hold" switch off and handed it back to her.

Being gay affords me a closeness to women that many straight men don't have. For that reason I believe that I have a good grasp of the mysterious machinations of the female mind. But I just don't get why the vast majority of you are so unbelievably rubbish with technology. I'm sorry if that sounds all superior and offensive, but seriously? What is it? Do you like us boys to patronise and rib you endlessly for being dumb? Are you secretly masochists in this respect? And surely it can't just be laziness. I mean, why would you walk around not being able to listen to music for a week, just because you're not prepared to spend ten seconds analysing all the surfaces of your MP3 player for signs of a switch which could be construed as being a lock?

I can guarantee that if a guy asks me to help him with something technical it will be something genuinely complicated. I have never known a guy to announce in the middle of the office, "I can't print!" It will be something like, "Can you help me configure this POP server?"

So what is it, ladies? C'mon! Give me something to work with here!

Monday, June 20, 2005

One. Of. These. Days.

I think I might have anger management issues. I am liable to do some really ill thought out things as a result of being on the receiving end of genuine stupidity, irrationality or poor service.

The other day I went to an appointment at the hospital to see a consultant about this. Upon observation the consultant told me that while there is still every chance that it will go away by itself, it might be worth operating on anyway.

"Rosie?" he called out to the nurse working at the station opposite our booth. "Can we fit Christopher in for an [insert name of unpronouncable surgical procedure here] this afternoon?"

The response was in the negative, so my consultant wrote me up an appointment request and sent me back to the main reception desk to get myself booked in for another day.

Imagine my consternation and frustration upon being told that the next available appointment would be on Tuesday, September 27. I told the receptionist, in no uncertain terms, that this date was totally unacceptable to me, not least because September 27 is my birthday and I'll be buggered if I'll spend the day having my eyelid splayed, scraped and sewn back up again. But more than that, five minutes previously my consultant had been under the impression that appointments in this place were so freely available that procedures could be carried out as quickly and easily as by calling out to the nurse in the station opposite.

This line of approach didn't really get me anywhere. The fact that the receptionist was a gay man with really bad highlights probably didn't help. No doubt my own gorgeous hair made him feel inferior.

Anyway ... I kinda lost it.

To cut a long story short I caused such a fuss over having to live with this hideous deformity barely noticeable lump for three and half more months that I managed to get the receptionist to agree to leave his post in order to discuss the situation with my consultant all the way back at the booth.

After a short, heated exchange I realised that the only way I was going to get these fuckers to concede to my demands was by threatening to go private - because clearly the possibility that I might unburden myself from an already overcrowded NHS waiting list would surely put the fear of God into them.

Cut to me walking out of the clinic with no appointment and very little dignity.

There was a time when losing your rag actually got you somewhere. Even if you made little or no sense, people would be so keen to get rid of you and your ranting that they would bow to almost any demand you made.

I can reliably inform you all that those days are gone. These days you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Dumbass chicken agreement

Yesterday I accepted an invitation from someone at work to attend a brainstorm to think of media ideas for what was cited as "a breakthrough in snacking!"

This morning I learned that the breakthrough was nothing to do with potato chips which make people thinner or chocolate chip cookies that increase emotional empathy. No. The breakthrough is pre-packed, pre-cooked chicken pieces.

Aside from the fact that the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda, Marks & Spencer, et al, have been selling similar products for two or three years it is not an easy task to concoct credible story hooks to encourage the tabloid press to write about chicken pieces (which, incidentally, taste like processed cocker spaniel chunks. And yes, before you ask, I do know what cocker spaniel tastes like) unless you’re prepared to pay for Abi Titmus to wear a bikini made out of them.

(Which is, actually, not such a bad idea.)

But get this - I actually had to sign a confidentiality agreement to prevent me from talking about this unbelievable revolution in cooked chicken outside of work! Apparently it has never crossed anyone’s mind that by making me sign a confidentiality agreement for a new processed meat it might actually encourage me to talk to people about it.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Existential question

Why is it that even though orange cordial tastes nothing like real oranges, we still know what it is supposed to be? The same goes for almost every other* flavour of cordial: blackcurrant, lemon, apple, strawberry and especially fruits of the forest, which is actually how Radox Essence of Peach** shower gel might taste if you licked it off a Formica work surface.

The thing with orange cordial - is it because it looks kind of orange in colour and the bottle tells us that it is orange in flavour that our senses are convinced? Is it all another example of corporate conditioning and deception?

Either way, I am assuming that I could, hypothetically, concoct a brownish coloured, watery blend of charcoal and twigs and call it “Chair Leg Squash”.

It’s pretty profound, really.

* With the exception of Passion Fruit. Anything that has been artificially flavoured to taste like Passion Fruit, does indeed taste like Passion Fruit. Think about it! It’s true!

** Actually smells like Yardley April Violets eau de toilette***

*** Actually smells like old ladies****

**** Actually smells like Yardley April Violets eau de toilette*****

***** I think I’m in a K-hole

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fashion stock is down

For the last two days Sam, the account executive who sits opposite me, and Rachel, one of my fellow account directors, have been ploughing through various style websites in order to find out what “the” fashion item will be for Autumn/Winter 2005/2006.

Never missing an opportunity to demonstrate my extensive sartorial knowledge I have been helpfully reeling off trends such as “Big! Big! Big!”, “Ethnic” and “Capes!”

Now I should point out that neither Sam, nor Rachel (especially Rachel) are the types of cosmopolitan women who realise that metropolitan gay men are, quite simply, the frikkin Oracle when it comes to sound fashion advice. Sam and Rachel both live in Croydon. Nuff said. Therefore my advice has been met with mistrust, poorly disguised as surprised graciousness.

This morning Sam presented her final list of “must-have” items to Rachel. Cue lots of cooing from Rachel - “Oh, yes! Lovely, oh lovely!” – while I sat there and gnashed my teeth.

Finally Rachel gets to the bottom of Sam’s list and screams in delight, “Absolutely yes! Ponchos! Yes! Everyone is wearing them!”

I very, nearly spontaneously combusted.

The very point of a must have fashion item for Autumn/Winter 2005/2006 is that no one in Summer 2005 is wearing the bloody thing (which they aren’t, actually.) Also, ponchos had their time, which, with those in the know, finished at the close of winter in 2004. Ponchos have evolved … INTO CAPES!!! I said that, remember??!!

And if that wasn’t enough I just logged onto and saw that Anna Wintour, the frikkin arbiter of conservative, yet deeply fashionable taste, wore this monstrous Vera Wang “thing” to the CFDA Style Awards in New York:

anna wintour

Still, all is not lost. Linda Evangelista still looks as damn fine as ever. Just look at the way she brings her left foot in at that perfectly jaunty angle. Perfection!

linda evangelista

That was quite a gay post. I'm off now to chop some wood.

New vocation

At the weekend, because it was my friend Lucy's birthday, I went up to Birmingham to accompany her and my other friends to the dogs - a British expression for going to see greyhounds race around a mini-stadium, chasing an electric rabbit.

I discovered three important things about myself at the dogs:

1) I am not a born gambler I put down a total of £17.00 on the various races and I won a total of £0.80. So actually I didn't win anything. I lost £16.20.

2) My new favourite dogs are greyhounds. They are, apparently, very loving and contrary to popular opinion, don't need that much exercise. So my two bedroom, narrow, 1st floor apartment is the perfect living environment.

3) I am naturally gifted at sports photography. Look at the picture, below - see how I communicate the great speed of the greyhounds by not actually capturing them while in the frame. Cunning, huh?


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The verdict

Ages ago, one of my friends said to me, "What if Michael Jackson is telling the truth? What if he didn't do anything?" I considered it for a few moments and then brushed the idea away. After all, grown men simply do not share their beds with young, unrelated boys.

This evening I'm asking myself a different question.

Have we all become really cynical? If he really, truly is not guilty, which is what we should now believe, I guess, then I suppose I should feel a little guilty for judging him. Although I'm not sure that I do.

Another thing struck me this evening for the first time. Not guilty. It doesn't have quite the same ring as "innocent".

Friday, June 10, 2005

"You're a drunk and a bad mother!"

A little while ago I heard on the radio that a Hollywood studio is going to make an all-star feature movie of Dallas. Fortunately it won't follow on from where the series and the three abismal TV movies left off and will start afresh, using just the basic plot and original characters.

Dallas was the first TV show I religiously watched as a young-un. A few years ago it was repeated on BBC 1 on Saturday mornings and you could watch three episodes back to back. I think over the course of six months my housemate, Alison, and I watched every single episode. I remember feeling a pang of something kind of like brotherhood upon realising that Pam and Bobby's offspring, Christopher, my namesake, was infact, when compared to John Ross Jr. ("Swellen" and J.R.'s sprog), a little bit poofy, even if he was only about 8 at the time.

The other day I was checking out the IMDB message boards for the movie and I saw that someone had put together a "dream team" of actors who they thought would be perfect in each of the roles. This got me rather over-excited and for the past few days I have been paying very careful consideration as to who I would cast in each of the infamous roles. Bear in mind that I have tried not to be influenced by who played the character previously. Because that's what good casting is all about, dontcha know?

Dallas - The Movie
casting by Christopher [cue theme music]:

John Ross 'Jock' Ewing, Sr.
Paul Newman

Eleanor Southworth Ewing
Gena Rowlands

John Ross 'J.R.' Ewing, Jr.
Brad Pitt

Bobby Ewing
Christian Bale

Sue Ellen Shepard Ewing
Amber Valetta

Pamela Barnes Ewing
Catherine Zeta Jones

Cliff Barnes
Matthew McConaughey

Digger Barnes
Richard Gere

Ray Krebbs
Luke Wilson

Lucy Ewing Cooper
Elisabeth Harnois

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I am not having a good day

I have fallen out with my mum over something really stupid which is, at the same, time rather complicated and serious.

Some of my friends are annoying me, which is a really unfair thing of me to feel, because they’re all actually good people and they're not trying to intentionally bug me.

But more than all of that I have written “5. Biggs” in my work day book and I can’t, for the life of me, remember why.

I just know that someone, tomorrow or later on in the week, is going to say “Blah, blah, blah, Biggs,” and I’ll suddenly remember what it referred to and it’ll signal the beginnings of an almighty catastrophe.

You know when you were young and your parents said to you that the years spent being a kid are the best of your life and you thought, “Yeah, right!”?

Oh, the pathos!

I love living in London right now...

... but when I hear that one of my friends in NYC might be watching Madonna's new tour documentary at a private preview with Ingrid Casaras and that this morning he saw Leo and Giselle smooching outside his apartment, I can't help but feel a little pang of "homesick-ness".

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Throw Christopher from the train

A word of warning: never, ever get into an argument with me. I’m not necessarily saying that I’ll beat you, but either way it’s guaranteed that I will drive both of us a little bit crazy. I will, with no compunction, argue that black is white, especially when I feel that I am being dealt the short end of the stick. I will often lose all logic and sensibility to try and bring the situation round to my favour. Sometimes it works but most of the time it doesn’t.

Take yesterday for example…

On weekends and the occasional bank holiday Monday the various companies who operate the trains which run on the miscellaneous tracks which used to constitute the British rail network collectively run this offer whereby for an upgrade fee of £10 you get to travel First Class. On a Silverlink train this means that you get to sit in the partitioned section of the second carriage, separated from the plebs by a swing door that may / may not work depending on the efficacy of the vandals operating in the Willesden and Harlesden areas of North London. On a GNER or a Branson run Virgin train you get lots of leg room, very likely a table unit to yourself, a free sandwich, a cup of tea or coffee, biscuits and a copy of The Daily Telegraph or The Times if you are travelling under the steam of Mr. Branson

Because I have ideas above my station (Station! Ha-ha! Geddit!?) if I travel by rail at the weekend I almost always pay the upgrade and travel First Class. After all, £10 isn’t much money for afore mentioned luxuries.

This past weekend I went home to Bath to see my family and friends and to teach my Mum how to use her new Mac Mini (which in itself is worthy of a lengthy blog post.) Yesterday, at about 6pm, Mum dropped me off at Bath station and I hopped onto the train that would take me back to London.

As usual economy was packed, so I hauled my ass down to the First Class carriages and proceeded to make myself at home by taking over four seats and a table with my iPod, mobile phone, book, newspapers, sweater and hand luggage.

Not long after the train pulled away from the platform the ticket inspector entered the carriage and started asking us passengers for our tickets. Eventually he got to me and I produced my normal economy ticket and my Solo card and asked for the weekend upgrade.

Before I go on I need to explain, for the benefit of my non-British readers what a solo card is. How shall I do this? Oh, ok...

American Express Centurion = Versace*
American Express = Jil Sander
Mastercard = Miu Miu
Visa = Gucci
Switch /Maestro = Urban Outfitters
Solo = Target / George at Asda

* Because wealth and good taste do not always go hand-in-hand

Now, I should point out that I have, at various points in my personal life and career, been in possession of all of the above credit cards, except for the Centurion, which I am working on. I have even had a Coutts business account credit card which would have gotten me upgrades and access to premium class lounges at airports worldwide, but I had to give it back two weeks after I received it, because I resigned from my job.

The reason that I currently only have a Solo card is because when I lived in America my British bank account went stagnant or putrid or whatever the correct banking terminology is for an account which has stopped operating. As a result, when I returned to England, I was only allowed a Solo card and not a normal Switch card because the bank needed to see healthy account activity. Healthy meaning that my account should not go over the agreed overdraft facility. I’ll leave you to deduce why, after twelve months, I am still in possession of a Solo card.

Back to the story:

Inspector - “Sorry sir, but we don’t accept Solo. Do you have a Switch card?”

It was an affront to me that he was even insinuating that I would actually choose to pay by Solo if I was, indeed, in possession of a Switch or any other type of card for that matter. Also I immediately realised that I was facing the very real possibility that I was going to be made to do the walk of shame – ejected from First Class to Cattle Class, because I couldn’t pay a measily £10.

So I did what any gay man worth his salt would have done in the same situation.

I completely over-reacted.

Christopher (completely aware that hardly anyone or any company accepts Solo) - “But that’s completely ridiculous that you don’t take Solo! Besides, I’ve paid by Solo countless times before.”

Inspector - “You can’t have done sir. We’ve never accepted Solo.”

Instantly I realise that he’s completely correct and that, previously, I’ve always paid using one of my credit cards, all of which I recently cut up in the effort to streamline my life.


Christopher (out and out lying now) – “Well that’s just as ridiculous, because I paid for a train ticket by Solo just last week. Here, I have the receipt in my wallet."

As I search through my wallet for a non-existent receipt which proved I paid for a non-existent journey with a payment card that the company didn't accept I realised that I had pretty much lost my mind, but much more importantly, the argument.

I looked up at the inspector.

Christopher - "I'm going to have to move to economy, aren't I?"

He nodded.

Making the most almighty fuss I collected my belongings and slumped back off to economy where I was forced to sit next to some chav who was, while being scum (naturally), deeply attractive in a chav-y kind of way.

Eventually the same ticket inspector made his way up to Saddo Class and asked for my ticket. I knww that the bastard did this on purpose because his smile showed that he recognised me and he had already stamped my ticket when I was in First.

It took every micron of restraint I could muster to stop myself pouncing out of my seat and deftly cutting his throat with a quick swipe of my Solo card.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


When I was younger I would do almost anything to avoid being alone. I was actually deeply insecure about it. Occasionally I would have these visions – really, really vivid waking dreams where I would be in the present but after some kind of apocalypse had taken place and I would be the only person in the world - completely alone.

That was a long time ago. As an adult, especially in my thirties, I really value the time that I get to spend by myself. The house that I live in is very conducive to being by one’s self. It’s homely and warm – alive. Maybe that’s the key – although I know I’m alone I feel that I am in the company of my home?

One of the things that I like most of all about being by myself is that feeling when you realise that you haven’t spoken out loud for hours and hours.

Last night I took the state of being alone one step further. While I am by no means a prude, I am not (always) comfortable with being completely naked (note the importance of the previous parenthetical!). Even if there is no one at home, I will generally put on some underwear before venturing from my bedroom to the bathroom to take a leak.

Last night I found myself at home, alone, wearing just a pair of tracksuit pants. For some reason I decided to be bold and took everything off to, you know, see how it felt, to see if I could just get used to the idea of being nekkid, without any sexual undertones, without feeling overly self-conscious or stupid.

So I “disrobed” and watched some TV and for a while I did feel kind of stupid. So I decided the best thing to do was to not just lie on the sofa, sans clothing, but to do stuff around the house.

So I tidied my room and hung out my washing (fortunately we have an indoor clotheshorse) and sorted through some of my clothes.

After that I was really completely oblivious to the fact that I was in my birthday suit. I decided that I would do the washing-up. So I stood there and washed the dishes and happily sang along to Fleetwood Mac.

As I finished cleaning the last dish I looked up and saw the guy who lives opposite us, stood in his kitchen window, staring directly at me. For a moment our eyes locked. And then we both scurried away with that unique brand of acute-embarrassment that is very poorly disguised as some sort of vacant absent-mindedness.

Needless to say I was somewhat mortified. So I went and put my tracksuit pants back on.

And a yashmak.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Back in the saddle again

So the boy from DTPM and I … hold that thought. I need to give him a pseudonym. Ok, how about DT-boy? Yeah, that works.

So DT-boy and I have been rampantly emailing and texting each other for the past 48 hours. Already he has complemented me on my abs and my dress sense (which is extraordinarily perceptive of him, given that for most of the night I was only wearing a pair of Abercrombie cargo pants and a stupid grin.) As we all know, this is a sure fire way to my heart (and my loins.)

And just a few minutes ago he wrote (1% paraphrasing) “I remember enough about you to know that I definitely want to see you again.”

Phew! I haven’t been “pursued” for ages! Not since Jake! This is great!

Unfortunately we’re both incredibly busy boys and the soonest we can see each other is next Tuesday. Which is actually kind of good because it means that things are forced to move slow.

There is a small problem though.

I can’t remember what he looks like.

A novel way to deliver groceries

Quitting smoking has given me the impetus to make other changes in my life - some of them small, some of them big.

One of the bigger ones is to start eating properly in order to be more healthy and to spend less money - i.e. not constantly ordering from Deliverance and making my own lunch as opposed to buying it from PrĂȘt.

London, geographically, is not hugely dissimilar to Los Angeles. It's a vast, sprawling city, with many boroughs and towns, albeit with a fairly workable public transport system. Still, without a car (I can't rely on using my housemates) a weekly shop without recruiting a taxi-cab can be a bit of a nightmare and when your local supermarket is in Brixton it is actually an experience to be avoided at all costs.

Last week I decided to try online grocery shopping with Tesco (interesting tidbit - when I was a student and but a lowly checkout cashier, I was the fastest "scanner". We'll forget the fact that, as a result, your groceries were pummeled as I threw them into the packing bin at supersonic speed.)

Now there is a cost to online grocery shopping - the £3.99 ($7.27) delivery fee. But still, that's a small price to pay to have them delivered straight to your door. And if that wasn't good enough, the system remembers what you ordered from previous weeks so all you have to do in future is click a box. It's amazing and almost arouses me sexually. Almost.

Last week was the second week that I ordered my groceries online. Saturday was extra special because I had ordered the ingredients to make Oatmeal and Raisin cookies, Mama Christopher style. So, imagine my excitement when the front door buzzer went.

Sorry, before I continue, I need to tell you that I live on the first floor (for my American readers, that's the second floor) of an apartment block. To get into the building you have to buzz up at the front door and when I've answered I press a button and you're allowed in. Except that our front door is currently broken and whenever someone wants to come up one of us has to go downstairs and let them in. It's most annoying, but apparently no one in the building can be bothered to let the building managers know about it. Including us.

So I answered the buzzer.



"Ok. The door doesn't work, so I'll come down and open it."

As I am only wearing a pair of tighty-whities I desperately run around the apartment trying to find a pair of PJ pants. While I am doing this I can hear the delivery guy hammering away at the door downstairs, trying to get in.

Miraculously, in about 15 seconds I am halfway decent. I lift up the intercom phone again and repeat. "Don't try and push the door open. It doesn't work. I'm coming down right now!"

I open the front door run down the stairs, arriving in the hall at just the right moment to witness the delivery-man literally kicking the door down!

"What are you doing?"

"The door wouldn't open."

"So you thought you'd kick it down? I told you it didn't open and I was coming down."

"No you didn't."

So instead of getting into an argument I collect myself and calmly try to explain why kicking the door down is not acceptable behaviour from a Tesco delivery-man. But in the back of my mind I remind myself that this is only the second week I've used to service so maybe it actually is.

Either way, my calm, rational approach did not go down well with the very argumentative and belligerent delivery fuckwit. In the end I conceded to his point of view and just grabbed the computer sign-y box thing and gave him my autograph for the groceries.

As he leaves I decide that actually I'm not going to take this crap lying down so I call out to him. "Hey! What's your name?"

"Peter Jones," he shouts over his shoulder. I immediately doubt this, not only because the man is black and sounds like he comes from Jamaica, but because Peter Jones is the name of a famous London department store.

I went back to my apartment and called the customer service centre. The representative I spoke to was appalled and shocked at the story I told her. Clearly she was used to people complaining that all their eggs were broken or that they had received a 200g of Tesco Economy Mature Cheddar as opposed to the Demi Pont L'eveque that they actually ordered. Oh and she also confirmed that my order was actually delivered by a man called something not at all like Peter Jones.

We finished our conversation with me understanding that the representative would talk to her supervisor and decide how the situation could be addressed and resolved to my satisfaction.

That was Saturday morning and it is now Tuesday evening. Has anyone called me back? What do you think?

Someone at Tesco HQ is going to get a right earful tomorrow morning. They were going to get an earful this morning too, but I forgot to call them.