Thursday, September 29, 2005

Last night I flew a stealth bomber, with pictures of my family stuck onto the controls of the cockpit, to see my great uncle. My great uncle, after having been diagnosed with brain death, had been admitted into a sanatorium. As I was landing the stealth bomber there was a bit of a scary moment when I thought that I might crash it, but in the end, even though I should really have had a co-pilot with me, I bought it down ok.

In the grounds of his new home I played fetch with my great uncle. It was very annoying because all he would do was run after the sticks I was throwing and then stand over them, refusing to bring them back. It must have been because he was brain dead.

While I was playing with my brain dead great uncle a nurse from the sanatorium bought over another person who was visiting. This person turned out to be none other than Freddie Prinze Jr. He claimed to be the son of my great uncle which, of course, would have meant that he was my cousin.

It was at this point that I knew that I was dreaming. There is no possible way that after starring in that awful movie (you know, the one with the supermodels) that Freddie Prinze Jr. would have the gall to claim that he was related to me.

The jackass.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

First, thank you for all your kind birthday wishes yesterday! Forthwith, I will now be 23 33, every day, for the next 365 days. Probably even longer.

I had a great birthday pardee last night at The Langley in Covent Garden, attended by a whole bunch of friends - old and new.

However, there's a small problem with parties that are for me - they make me incredibly, unbelievably anxious. Prior to the party starting I had managed to work myself up into such a state that not only was I craving beta blockers but I was actually physically sick. And then, about an hour after it had started, I had to step outside for a quiet moment and a cigarette. Not great especially as, if you recall, I gave up smoking some months back.

But I'm glad to report that I did chill out in the end and had a great time. I even stopped drinking alcohol after a while and stuck to soft drinks. No hangover for Chrissy this morning!

I did take photos, but I'm saving them for a birthday montage. I'm going to Birmingham at the weekend for a birthday dinner and no doubt there will be some more outrageous antics to document (and hopefully none that involve smoking or vomiting. Well, maybe vomiting.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

33 today ...

... and this much I know:
  1. If you live in London you should own a small umbrella and carry it with you at all times.
  2. Mona in Tales of the City was right: I too would rather have six really great friends and no partner, than have a partner but no real friends.
  3. You only need two pairs of shoes: one brown pair, one black pair. And you only need two pairs of sneakers: one white pair and one pair for the gym.
  4. People who notice shoes should stop looking at the floor as much.
  5. When I was a child, nine times out of ten my parents were right.
  6. My parents have yet to learn that as an adult, nine times out of ten, I am right.
  7. There is no shame in not knowing something and asking for an explanation. It's much more shameful to pretend that you do know and then get caught out.
  8. Lying to a PR is a waste of time: don't bullshit a bullshitter.
  9. It's PR, not ER.
  10. The expression "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" is a highly subjective metaphor.
  11. The expression "a rolling stone gathers no moss" is a great metaphor.
  12. It is absolutely not possible to party non-stop for 24 hours and not feel like ten shades of crap the next day.
  13. Putting the hand of someone who is sleeping into warm water does not make him or her pee the bed.
  14. Good taste is highly overrated.
  15. Other people don't annoy me. I allow myself to be annoyed by other people.
  16. I always know what is best for me. I'm just not very good at doing it.
  17. Morecombe and Wise were comic geniuses.
  18. Russ Abbot was not a comic genius.
  19. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder: some people just dig unattractive people.
  20. Isabella Blow may be as mad as the hats that she wears, but she is massively responsible for helping to put British fashion on the map.
  21. For some obscure reason my friends see something in me.
  22. Posing with big cats in official portraiture only works for Jackie Collins and Siegfried and Roy. And as Roy will attest to, not all of the time.
  23. Rent is the worst musical I have ever seen.
  24. You can't do anything you set your mind to. I will never be a dancer for Madonna on one of her world tours.
  25. I have a finely tuned instinct for things that do not directly relate to me.
  26. Inappropriate or politically incorrect jokes are usually the funniest.
  27. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.
  28. My sex drive does not decrease as I get older.
  29. You can succeed without talent.
  30. You should be proud of your porn stash.
  31. When a musician is described by critics as being a "poet" it generally means that they are talented at communicating in unintelligible rhetoric which they would be hard pressed to explain. Applying this logic, Pete Doherty is a poet. Eminem is not.
  32. It is necessary to back up your hard-drive.
  33. I've learned the hard way that life isn't like a movie or a book, but more like a photograph. Stories don't always have a beginning, middle and an end. It's about taking hold of the moment and enjoying it, if you can, without thinking too much about what happens next.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Although I was born on the 27th of September, I am not actually 33 until 4.20am, tomorrow morning. That means that you each have 16 hours birthday present shopping time betwixt now and then.

Lost for inspiration? Lets see if I can help:

Table 39 at Nobu
table 39

Right in the middle of the famous Mayfair restaurant, this is the table that Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts dined at in Notting Hill. The waiting list for table 39 is between three to six months, but fortunately I reserved it over eight months ago, you know, just in case.

A Magnum of '98 Dom Perignon
dom perignon

Most London dining and drinking establishments have been waiting for over eight months to receive their orders but you only have to pop down to Harrods or Selfridges to grab a bottle. But bear in mind that a case is only 1,350 squid, so it might make better sense to buy it in bulk.

A cleansing and decongesting facial at Eve Lom
eve lom

If it's good enough for Cate Blanchett, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rupert Everett and Elton John, then it's good enough for me.

A life soundtrack consultation with Allessandra Nerdrum
During an hour-long session, Allesandra will quiz you on everything to do with how you feel when you're driving to what fragrance you use. With the answers as her inspiration she will go away and create a playlist of two hours worth of songs and music to download straight onto your iPod.

An Aston Martin DB9
DB9

Please don't have it delivered with a giant red bow wrapped around it. That's just tacky.

A labradoodle
labradoodle

I'm not as allergic to dogs as I am to cats, but they can still make me a bit sniffly. Therefore the labradoodle, a cross between a labrador and a standard poodle is the perfect choice pour moi. Apparently Brad and Jen bought one shortly before they split up which in my mind just increases it's stock.

That should do for now. I haven't put prices here, because I feel that just really spoils the point of giving. And it really is just about giving. I'm actually thinking of y'all and not myself.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A few weeks ago I ordered this T-shirt online. I thought it would be kind of quippy and ironic. I imagined myself wearing it and people looking on, whispering, "Look at him! All quippy and ironic!"

With hindsight, this was clearly not one of my finer purchases.

Friday, September 23, 2005

I don't know whether or not Kate Moss is a drug addict, but what I do know is that she has not deserved to be on the receiving end of one of the most vitriolic and rabid character assassinations I have witnessed in the media for a really long time. These stories have been written by a group of "journalists" who apparently regard themselves as bastions of healthy sobriety and good, clean morals. They think that drug taking is bad.

Are you kidding? I have worked with journalists for over nine years now and I would be highly surprised if not all of them have at least tried coke and that not only some of them use it as much as they are claiming Kate Moss does. This whole gnarly debacle just reeks of bitter, sanctimonious, shameless hypocrisy - from the hacks writing the stories, to the companies culling her contracts. And now Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair (the head of Scotland Yard), has apparently made it his mission to make an example out of Kate. Clearly he would be much better advised to attend to more pressing (but less glamorous) matters, such as ensuring that his police force are able to tell the difference between innocent members of the public and suspected terrorists.

Taking drugs is illegal and I accept that. I'm sure Kate Moss does too. I, personally, would like to see drugs legalised and properly regulated. The problem has never really been in the consumption of drugs. After all, most people who take drugs are not addicts, just as most people who drink alcohol are not alcoholics. The problems, for the most part, lie in the production and the deployment of drugs. But for significant changes in the law to occur people would be required to open their eyes to the real issues and to listen to the real facts. But because drugs still is such an emotive issue for most people, it is unlikely that this will happen any time soon.

Here's why I think I feel sorry for Kate Moss. She is one of the few celebrities who actually goes out of her way not to court media attention. To my knowledge she has only been officially interviewed on four occasions in a career that has spanned well over sixteen years. That's not to say that she hasn't made some really questionable decisions in her personal life, which have been picked up extensively by the media (anyone mention Pete Doherty?) I'm pretty certain that she didn't want people, across the land, to see her snorting cocaine in a private recording studio, late one night, alongside her boyfriend and a few of his mates.

Oh and as far as the issue of her suitability as a parent goes, all I know is that I have friends who use drugs recreationally and are still really great parents. There is of course the fact that Kate Moss doesn't look after her child for most of the time. The baby's father, Jefferson Hack, does and apparently always has. It has not been in the interests of the media to report this, as it doesn't help to facilitate the "bad mother" angle.

Overall, the story "fashion model takes drugs" is not one worthy of this kind of media attention. And if she really does have a problem, again, Kate Moss certainly does not deserve this kind of media attention. I will concede that some of it may prove to be her savior, but it still doesn't excuse the overall behaviour.

I admit to occasionally using drugs for recreational purposes. I don't think I could write all of this and not fess up to that. But then I am no different to hundreds of thousands of other middle class Londoners. I personally think that taking drugs is neither cool, nor uncool. But like Kate Moss I've made some pretty awful decisions in the past that I am in no way proud of. For those reasons it would be really inappropriate for me or, for that matter, anyone else who has ever taken drugs or fucked anything up, to judge Kate Moss.

What I really hope is that she receives all the best help that she needs, in whatever form that is, from people who genuinely love her and really have her best interests at heart.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

First, is it wrong to want a baby just so I can put it in this?

Secondly, here is an order of words that I never thought that I would write:

Ozzy Osbourne used to be cute.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Into my closet

This post was inspired by my friend Marv's post of well over a-year-and-a-half ago, in combination with this weekend's culling of any clothes which I haven't worn for over 12 months (this is the third major task I referred to in yesterday's post.)

I'm largely assuming that you're all interested in what I wear / have decided not to wear, as well as some of the bittersweet memories or tales behind some of my favourite garments.

So, without further ado:

CIMG1723

These are a pair of ridiculously tight, 70s style, Hawaiian surf shorts. I like the idea that one day I might actually wear them on a beach, let alone on a surfboard. I'm holidaying in Thailand for Christmas and New Year, so we shall see. They were given to me by an ex-boyfriend who actually surfed at home in LA.

CIMG1724

I recently showed this vest to a friend and his response was, "Please, dear God, no." Regardless, this was my favourite top to wear to homosexual dancing establishments when I lived in NYC. It was bought for me by my friend Adam who I think was trying to convert me into being some big gay wrestling stud. Silly boy. I stopped wearing it because I started to become afraid that I would be asked to "double clutch" and I wouldn't know what to do.

CIMG1727

This is a limited-edition, deep-V, Karl Lagerfeld sweater for H&M. The stripes are actually supposed to be white, but last Christmas my 4 year-old cousin knocked a glass of wine on it and it stained. So I tie-died it purple to, you know, match the stain. The effect is kind of Joan Baez circa 1971 and I highly doubt that I will ever leave the apartment with it on. Shame, because it makes my pecs look really good.

CIMG1728

You either really love this shirt or really hate it. It's black cotton with a sewn on white satin sash, designed by Helmut Lang. I really love it because it was the shirt I was wearing when I first met Will. He later said that he knew we would end up dating because anyone who would intentionally make themselves look like a horse jockey had to be game for a laugh.

CIMG1729

Until yesterday I had forgotten all about this shirt. As you all know, my Grandma died a month ago. This was her present to me, last Christmas. At the time I didn't really like it, but now I think it would work well underneath a cool T-shirt with some big gaudy print on it. The Seth Cohen look. Bubby would be proud.

CIMG1730

Here is a selection of my accessories. From left to right (skipping out some): the scarf on the left is a really cool silk neck scarf by Ermenegildo Zegna and looks great worn with a T-shirt or underneath a dress shirt. The blue silk scarf is by Matthew Williamson and is grey on the reverse. Again, it looks great with a T-shirt, dressed with a suit jacket or even a mandarin collared biker jacket. The pink belt is a pink belt. The red silk-backed, navy, pinstriped tie was a freebie from a Tommy Hilfiger catwalk show I attended in Bryant Park in NYC. The gold sequined scarf was a present from Lindsay for my birthday last year and I only wore it once. Big surprise. And the scarf on the far right is the one that Trinny and Susannah complemented me on, hence it's appearance in this picture.

CIMG1731

This sweater is perhaps one of my favourite items of clothing and was a gift from Lincoln. It's by Armand Basi and features a huge leather flash on both of the sleeves. I rarely wear it because it provokes such grown up remarks as, "Flash! I love you! But we only have 14 hours to save the Earth!"

Idiots.

CIMG1732

I LOVE this sweatshirt. It's a basic marl-grey, raglan-sleeved sweatshirt, but it's really special because it was made especially for me by my ex-boyfriend, Nick. It's not brilliantly constructed and there isn't actually a right-way-round to wear it, but it's really comfortable. He also wore it to bed for a week before giving it to me and I've never washed it. Just like my bed-linen.

CIMG1735

Everyone should have a winter fleece and this is mine. It's a really tight fitting, electric blue / black DKNY fleece sweater. It's almost nine years old, so I guess you could officially call it designer vintage and was actually my first designer purchase. It was 1996 and I was on holiday in Italy with my friends Tim and Jemma. It only cost something like ninety pounds (probably about six million lire!) but Tim and Jemma were absolutely scandalised that I could be so "frivolous" with money. They learned pretty quick.

CIMG1736

This is a sleeveless denim shirt that I have never worn because it's a size large. For me, to wear something fitted, shirts need to be a size small. I bought this a few months ago because I thought that with my current excessive gym-going I would fill into it. But that would require me to grow exponentially and short of taking steroids, that currently looks unlikely to happen.

CIMG1738

This is a really great top by BDg and I bought it in an attempt to channel some kind of stylish (yet masculine) vibe from the ghost of Jean Seberg. In reality all that I channeled was a lot of anger and a less than flattering overall visage, courtesy of horizontal stripes.

CIMG1741

This is a Gucci scarf and was a present from Vidal Sassoon and his wife, Ronnie Sassoon. I'm including it here, you know, just to demonstrate that I have been bought clothes as presents by famous people.

CIMG1740

In the absence of a real boyfriend, every night (except when he's in the washing machine) I go to bed with Adam Brody.

What?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I would like my future husband, whoever the sorry bastard is, to be:
  1. Anally retentive about having clean bed linen on the bed at all times.
  2. Really diligent about opening mail as it arrives.
You may have already guessed that I am completely rubbish at both of these things. This weekend I actually undertook three major tasks, two of which relate to the above. The third I will discuss in tomorrow's post. But for now:

For some reason I can sleep in the same bed linen for up to three months (disgusting, yes, but it has been known) and after that time it neither smells nor sticks. This is good, because I HATE HATE HATE changing bed clothes - to the extent that I will do almost anything to avoid doing it. You know, you have to picture it: Christopher, standing on his bed, violently shaking his duvet into a cover which refuses to fit. It's an absurd image, isn't it? Yes, it is.

Yesterday I changed my bed linen. It took only five minutes, but those moments felt like an eternity and were the most intolerable since, well, the last time I changed my bed linen. And I'm not telling you when that was. Anyway, to recap, I changed my bed linen. Round of applause, please.

For the past six months I have been placing all of my mail in a neat pile in the corner of the living room. I really hate opening mail. It's not like I get bills that need to be paid. All of my debts and bills are paid by Direct Debit or standing order and utilities are covered in my rent which, again, is paid by s/o. My problem, and this is a general problem, is that boring things get me down. Especially glossy leaflets from my bank featuring pictures of heterosexual couples, all happy and smiley, standing in the rain, underneath a huge umbrella, basically glorifying fixed-term mortgage schemes with a free ISA / PEP / Unit Trust. They make me want to kill myself.

Today, over lunch, my friend Louise told me a horror story about her boyfriend and a pile of mail which he had "filed" in the back of his wardrobe and she had found while snooping through his stuff. As he is currently in Barcelona for work she decided to organise his life in the UK, in preparedness for his return. While sorting his mail she happened to discover that a debt collection agency had become so infuriated by his non-compliance at offering payments to a loan of like 50p or something ridiculous, that they were about to send around the bailiffs.

The idea of bailiffs arriving at my front door freaked me out more than the idea of, you know, opening my mail. So this evening I sat down infront of the mountain of post and started to plough through it.

Now, as there was six months worth of correspondence to go through this was never going to be an easy task. So I applied a bit of logic. I figured that as my credit cards and bank cards were still working (for the most part) I could assume that there was nothing in any bank correspondence that needed addressing. This effectively culled at least 50% of the mail, which made the job much more manageable. The rest of the mail was just random receipts for internet purchases, hospital appointment notes that I had already diarised, etc, etc.

Then something brilliant / potentially horrible happened. I opened a plainly addressed letter from my bank, returning a State of New York cheque for last year's tax return, amounting to $490 (about 250 sterling!) The reason for the bank returning the cheque (or check for you Americans) was unclear, but I do know that banks, from time-to-time, do send foreign cheques back unpaid, so ultimately I could still cash it and get the money.

The potentially horrible thing is that the cheque is dated May 2004, which could mean that it is so out of date that it can't be cashed anyway. This is bad for two reasons:
  1. It means I cannot fund the purchase of additional items to my new A/W 2005-06 wardrobe.
  2. It further illustrate to me that it is WRONG to open mail.
If you are an American with expert knowledge on cheque expiry dates, especially those written by tax executives for the State of New York, I would be most appreciative if you could let me know if I might still be able to go shopping next weekend. Your payment will be a nice pair of winter socks from Marks & Spencer (maybe.)

Friday, September 16, 2005

This evening I went to the movies to see Annie Hall. I forgot how much I love that movie. And I'd never noticed that neither Alvy nor Annie actually say "I love you." (I just read the trivia section on iMDB.)

I don't consciously consider myself to be a Woody Allen fan, but I must be, because Annie Hall, Sleeper and Manhattan are three of my all-time favourite movies. I also really like Everyone Says I Love You. The scene where Goldie Hawn jumps and majestically sails up into the air, right next to the Seine, is one of my favourite scenes in a film.

Anyway, on the way home I decided upon something: I think I am a male Diane Keaton. I seriously think that she subconsicuosly inspired me to buy that waistcost a few weeks back. And the car that I often drive like a maniac is a VW. Proof, surely?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Just because I'm a PR extraordinaire with my finger on the pulse of popular culture doesn't mean that I'm not, from time to time, completely infallible.

Six months after it broke as a news story this morning I noticed that Smarties have stopped being sold in their traditional round tubes.

I agree with Val Oliver from England:

"Smarties in a box? Yet a further erosion of our national identity. What next, white Marmite?"

The apocalypse is surely upon us.

Monday, September 12, 2005

CIMG1687

Last Wednesday night I met up with my friends Lara and Jon. We met each other in 1991, when I was studying at Swindon College of Art, the year before I went off to university.

As can be expected, much has happened to the three of us over the years. These days Lara lives just outside London with her boyfriend of 10 years, Toby, and works in a law firm. Jon did live in London for a long time, but now lives in Marlborough with his boyfriend, James and is a PA at an environment agency.

We each have remarkably different lives from each other now than we did in the days when we were at college and we would skip class, drive out to a remote hill overlooking Bath, listen to The Smiths on my car stereo and get really, really mashed from smoking cheap weed sold to us by Stoner Leo in life drawing. These days Jon likes nothing better than potting orchids and walking his dog, Moshi, over Wiltshire fields while Lara DJ's for fun once a week after transvestite bingo nights at her local S&M club.

And me? Well, you know. I do my thing.

But despite all of this, however much we've each moved on, however much water has gone under the bridge, however infrequently we see each other, all of those things ... within four hours of meeting up in Soho Square the three of us had got really drunk, been complained about by fellow customers for being too loud in a posh restaurant, tried on hooker shoes in a sex shop, looked at kinky sex pictures in an Erotic book cafe and taken stealthy pictures of cute boys in a gay bar.

I was nineteen when I met Lara and Jon and I'll be 33 at the end of this month. I've met a lot of people and made a lot of other very good friends since meeting the two of them. And I still have a lot of fun, a lot of the time. But every so often it's good to have 19 year-old fun. And to be reminded that while, yes, you are a bit older, you're not always a lot wiser.

Because who wants to be old and wise if it means that you can't accept your friends sticking paper napkins up your nose without seeing it as a sign of affection?

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Yesterday afternoon I was trawling through the IMDb message boards for Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction (I feel that I should point out that I wrote my university thesis on film noir and how the genre had evolved from its hey-day in the 1940s and its revival in the 1990s, using Double Indemnity and Basic Instinct as examples. That's the only reason I was interested and not because I wanted to see any more gratuitous leg-uncrossings.)

On my travels I happened to come across what must surely be the most hilarious plot translation in history. If this film is anywhere near as good as this translation it is going to be a critically acclaimed blockbuster of massive proportions!

(If there are plot-spoilers in this then they surely went over my head.)

I quote:

"You minds on whichever thing, on your erections, yours want matta to sweep to me. When tasks to fottermi, like the images? I know that you cannot answer to me, but thinks to us. As you would want to sweep to me."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

There is some statistic in existence that says that after the age of 25 you are 75% likely to meet your life partner through your place of work. What with being asked out by lesbians and the like, it would appear that I am amongst the remaining 25%.

For a while now (two and a half weeks) I have known that Paul, the breathtakingly cute, pocket-sized account manager who sits opposite me, is straight. But this has not stopped me having un platonic crush on him: i.e. whenever he asks me something I, ever so slightly, lose my professional cool. Also, he is incredibly private and never ever talks about anything aside from work. This is good because it has allowed me to elaborate upon the notion that he is single and therefore desperately lonely and could very well be tempted over to the dark side.

My delusions were shattered this morning when, in an unprompted and spiteful manner, he practically vomited forth the information that yesterday his girlfriend had some hair extensions put in. His girlfriend.

I hate her. Hair-obsessed bitch.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Upon further reflection (and after having watched three more episodes of The OC) I realised that being asked out for a drink by a lesbian is exactly the kind of thing that might happen to Seth Cohen, which made me feel much better.

And then I remembered that I had been asked out for a drink by a lesbian and I felt depressed again.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Last week I bleached my hair to within an inch of its life, but, as is the usual story, I soon decided that punky-blonde probably wasn't befitting of a soon to be 33 year-old, professional publicist. So last night I dyed it back to its usual dark brown colour.

This (coupled with the fact that I watched six episodes, back-to-back, of The OC on Sunday night) encouraged me to try out a new look, which I am sporting today - cute / intellectual / preppy. Basically an older Seth Cohen. I'm wearing old scuffed-up, white Adidas Superstar trainers, faded blue jeans, a fitted white cotton shirt and a navy-blue pinstriped waistcoat. I did try accessorising with a neck scarf, but decided that it was a bit too dandy and opted to just wear my specs instead (usually only worn in front of the computer or when I'm watching TV.)

I think that the effect is really quite devastating and my new, shiny mop of chocolate brown totally hits the mark. The result is that I have already been asked out for a drink by someone I work with.

Unfortunately that person is a 22 year-old lesbian called Grace.

I'm so depressed.

Monday, September 05, 2005

This weekend, in the changing room of my gym, I unfortunately bore witness to a pale, unattractive, naked man lift his leg up onto a bench and apply a stick deodorant to the whole of his undercarriage. He was not being discreet.

The only logical reason that I could think of as to why he was doing this was that he was expecting someone to be paying a "visit". Obviously I had to think about this some more and I couldn't decide which would be the worse - Sure 24 Hour stick deodorant, or the general funk of, er ... well, you know ... the other.

So, when I got home I licked my roll-on deodorant on decided it would be the former.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Yesterday I received a group email from a friend in NYC, giving instructions on how to help out with Hurricane Katrina relief effort at the American Red Cross Centre. Given that I now live a few miles out of town I found myself limited as to how much help I could provide. This morning, after having read more horrifying newspaper reports of the situation, I made a donation.

I'm ashamed to say that making charitable donations is not something I do very often. I generally mean to, but I never quite get around to actually doing it.

However, there was a time when your favourite, superficial and vacuous PR luvvie was a tad more conscientious. As a university student I started spending time with my friend Clare, this woman and their other female university buddies. Any of them will provide expert witness that prior to knowing them I was shockingly ignorant about, well, pretty much everything. I would often be harshly berated for making various un-pc comments, such as, "I think Sharon Stone's character in Basic Instinct is a positive depiction of bisexuality." Clare would actually dub my visits "PC training."

Clare and her friends encouraged me to read the newspaper and to stop reading The Sun (even though I do still scan it for work purposes. Er, um ...) For many years my newspapers of choice have been The Guardian and The Observer: the two publications at the furthest-left of British newspaper reporting and social commentary.

As I began to understand issues such as the world domination by *copies from PC dictionary of 1992* capitalist societies through rampant consumerism (Ann shopping at Liberty) Clare and Co. began to invite me to political street marches. Soon after I took their lead and joined Amnesty International and wrote letters to the leaders of oppressive regimes on behalf of prisoners of conscience such as Aung Sang Su Chi. I even sold Socialist Worker newspapers. Once. For an hour on a rainy Saturday afternoon. In fact all I really did was just stand next to the guy selliung them. Although I did once carry aloft a Socialist Worker banner that Ann and I found on the side of the road during the Criminal Justice Bill march of 1992. We thought it would make cute male demonstrators notice us more (they didn't.)

But I think my fondest memory of personal charity was when I was a final year university student. I lived in the red-light district of Southampton with my gay friend Anthony and my girls of the time, Nikki, Vei and Karen. During the infamously harsh winter of 1994 we would often make cups of tea for the hookers working on the pavement just outside our front door. They were always very nice and very appreciative (not too appreciative) and would tell us shockingly salacious stories involving their dirty-old-man clients. I remember there was one hooker though who was rather tight-lipped (to coin a phrase) and would never disclose anything interesting at all. We didn't make tea for her for very long.

An sad indication, perhaps, that true altruism doesn't really exist.