Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Millswatch!

Whatever your opinion of three-limbed ex-Beatle banger Heather Mills, you can't deny the lady has an eye for a publicity stunt. Today's Metro, picked up at the station in a moment of madness - although on Wednesdays I have the excuse of reading the restaurant reviews and, well, a chap has to stay current - reports that Mills has decided to become a Gay Icon and is trying to book an appearance at some top London clubs.

As if that's all it takes.

I don't quite know what she'd do once she got to G-A-Y, having never been myself, but last week's London Shite reported that Danny and Dougie from McFly stripped off there and set their pubic hair on fire for a bet with the organiser, so I presume something like that would happen. Maybe they could burn Paul in effigy if Heather's bush is unavailable for incendiary purposes.

It occurred to me that with that attitude, she might just stand a chance.

I'll be waiting offstage with a Zippo in case she gets cold feet....

Sorry ... cold foot.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

News Watch!

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has unanimously backed calls for the voting age to be lowered to sixteen, reports the BBC.

Which strikes me as a very cynical, and very voter-savvy ploy. It's ill-informed, immature, hot-head teenage voters who will vote for some perceived glorious notion of Scottish independence without taking into account all the reasons why Scottish independence is a very bad idea.

There are many reasons, but I think it is most telling that earlier this year when the 300th anniversary of the Union came around and the debate reared its head, the Scottish business community was generally dead set against the idea.

The base of the SNP's appeal has always been to people who don't understand how the economic world works and don't understand how everything they do effects and is effected by it. I don't understand how the economic world works myself, but having now become a taxpayer and begun that slow move away from the foolish university communist phase, I certainly get a bit more of the gist of it.

This said, I'm actually all for Scottish independence. I'm frustrated by the West Lothian Question and, as one of the early intakes of university students to have been made to pay fees, am exercised to the point of irrational madness by the fact that Scottish students get free tuition yet English students are made to pay...

Ah, so it's about the money is it?

If so many Scots want independence, then let them have it. It would make a few people happy, and would mean that we wouldn't get all upset when we supported Scotland at the World Cup out of fairness and didn't get the same courtesy in return. Also it would mean six million fewer people and more money for us English.

But when that North Sea oil runs out, don't think that selling a few bottles of whisky is going to hold up the economy.

I like whisky too.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Cannibalism in the workplace

Tomorrow's canteen menu includes the delights of the minced lamb donna kebab.

Poor Donna.

Still, it's what she would have wanted.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

News watch!

A devout Baptist couple who picked up what they thought was a Doris Day film for £2.99 in a supermarket bargain bin were shocked to find themselves watching sapphic Italian schlockfest Tettone, che passione! (Breasts, what a passion!).

Full story on the BBC.

What I love best is that the god-fearing couple continued watching until the end of the DVD, presumably so that they could see just how shocking and pornographic it actually was.

And not that I'm particularly overjoyed or not to see that the Sarkozys are to split, but today's Guardian has an excellent piece about the break-up in all its soap operatic glory. With tales of multiple, twisted affairs and a high-speed car chase through Paris it really is quite cinematic. It's almost like Madame Bovary.

Monday, 15 October 2007

So here are some thoughts...

I obtained a new umbrella today. Half stole it in fact.... At Blackfriars Station on the way home from work the guy sitting on the bank of seats across from me jumped up, and as he got to the doors I spotted his umbrella on the seat. I jumped up too as he pushed the button and with a loud "excuse me!" tapped him on the shoulder, at which he looked back at me, gave me a glance that I can only describe as terrified, and left the train.

Well, I wrote about giving people the benefit of the doubt before, and if he's not prepared to believe that I wouldn't willfully attack a man with a good eight inches on me in a crowded London station, then fuck him sideways with a spoon, and I kept the umbrella, which is rather nice and I think may be designer.

I also consider it some recompense for what happened this morning, when the ticket office at Suburban Station was closed when I arrived with a good fifteen minutes on the 9:01 to find a queue of idiots by the automatic machine. I can be done with the automatic machine in a minute, because I have mad skills and am a fully paid-up member of the Web 2.0 society. But many people can't figure them out, and end up inserting their card the wrong way round and then accidentally buy a monthly saver to Luton Airport.

I missed my train and was an hour late to the office. We're putting out a big souvenir issue this week, and as a result we're kind of up against it, and this was not appreciated. It is for reasons like this that I worry a flat move may be on the cards next year, much as I like this place.

The shop by our tube station has reopened in the past week after a refit, and they seem to have got rid of Scowling Indian Man and replaced him with some absolutely ravishingly beautiful young Polish girls, who were I that way inclined I would make more of in this post. They have also got rid of the grotty lino and the cramped aisles and turned it into a mini home-from-home for Poles, Turks, Russians, Romanians, in fact, any passing shopper who wants nothing to do with the execrable Sainsbury's Local by the tube. There is even a deli counter and a small bakery that does baklava. Needless to say I have been having baklava for dessert all week. I also bought some sausage-meat and a brand of Polish yoghurt called Extra Krzemosy or something, which is actually really nice.

There is one thing about all the Poles and such round here which is quite sad, however, and that is that they seem to have driven out the Aussies. It used to be that you'd go into a bar and be served by some high-octane Antipodean who, despite possessing an accent that is almost as unattractive as Estuary English, could at least conduct a conversation. Now it's a glum eastern European emigre who, despite having six more degrees than I do, hasn't bothered learning English and can't tell the difference between Kronenbourg and a small glass of the house red.

That is not apocryphal either, that did actually happen to me in a pub in Uxbridge a few months ago.

My message to the Aussies; we've kept the bars just as you like them, we've made our climate warmer, and you can get Victoria Bitter in the offy, so where the bloody hell are you?

Thursday, 4 October 2007

The benefit of the doubt

Every morning at about 8:55 as the platform at my station starts to get busy, a pre-recorded announcement is played over the tannoy to the effect that anybody physically or verbally abusing the train company's staff will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, or words to that effect.

And I wonder, what happened to the assumption that passengers wouldn't gratuitously start assaulting people in uniform?

That's not to say that most First Crapital Connect staff don't richly deserve to be smacked about a bit.

A similar bug seems to have taken hold of the local police down in the Deepest South London Suburb where I work. This lunchtime as I was pounding the pavements in search of my usual six-inch sub of the day on Italian herb I spied a notice tacked to the station entrance, warning me that I was in a Designated Public Place so I had Better Not Think of doing Anything Naughty.

Which I thought had been the case the minute I closed my front door this morning.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

My gym is a scary gym

So I was in the gym on the Broadway doing a little chest work before my swim late on Monday, and there was this very intimidating, thickset guy in a silver tracksuit. He clearly shaved his head, but hadn't done it for a little while and so his bonce was covered in rather unappealing fuzz. Then he turned around and he'd had some kind of swirly faux-Maori meets Celtic knot down a dark alley design tattooed on the side of his head.

This was scary because I was swamped in a very baggy Intel t-shirt that I got as a freebie at some press conference or other, and also because I have the scrawniest legs in the multiverse. Seriously, aliens fly in from the Beta Reticuli Quadrant to take photos and maybe buy a souvenir queegle timer.

But I digress, also working on the weights was a smaller black dude, and as the Gym People tend to do they got talking. These people have their own social circle, I've worked out, that seems to revolve mainly around Arsenal and whey powder. So, all well and good, until Ugly Tattoo Man starting talking about some upcoming court case he was involved with, possibly as a juror, but no, it turned out he had thrown his girlfriend down the stairs and she had taken off with their kid...

I hotfooted it back to the changing room, put on my trunks and minutes later was in the pool with the friendly middle-aged Punjabi ladies.

Basically I need to make a ton of money very quickly so that I can afford somewhere a little more upmarket and a bit gayer.

That's not to say there aren't a few tasty looking chaps in these uncharted wilds of the People's Republic of Brent. There are a couple of very fit Polish boys who come in from time to time who I enjoy to look at surreptitiously, so life is clearly not without its compensations.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Shiny Macness

So, on Wednesday night I put my elderly computer to bed as usual, tucked it in and gave it a Horlicks and a chocolate digestive and I had the same myself and then we both went to bed as happy as Larry - however happy he is.

Come the morning bright, however, the computer had clearly come down with something - whereas I was fighting fit and ready to hit the gym. Try as I might I couldn't get the thing to turn on. It was simply not having it. It was switching on and the fan was starting up as usual, and it was making the right noises, but nothing more was happening; it was not booting and nothing was getting through to the monitor. I checked the connections and they all seemed fine, so rather upset at the amount of music, photos, writing, and various things on it that I appeared to have lost, I went to work a considerably miserably bunny.

When I got home, it was working again. It booted and everything came up as you would expect. ITunes, internets, everything you would hope for. I seized my chance and backed up the hard drive. It took most of the night but at least it didn't mean that I lost 16 gigs of music and all my pictures and various bits of writing.

It was lucky I backed it up, because the previous morning and yesterday night were exactly the same,; the computer simply refused to boot.

In short it is dead. It has joined the choir invisible, etc.

I cannot not have a working computer, as I am sure you will all appreciate, and happily I had been budgeting to acquire something in the way of such a device for a couple of months now, given the age and ricketyness of my old machine.

And this is how I have come to be the owner of a shiny black MacBook.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Yobs and racism

I read with some interest Jeremy Vine's piece on tackling thugs and antisocial yobs on Auntie's website the other day, and recognised the dilemma Vine found himself in right away.

For those who didn't read the original posting or the subsequent follow-ups in tehlondonpaper, there was a burly c**t being sexually aggressive to a girl on the tube; he got off and as the doors were closing one of the other passengers flicked him a v-sign. Unfortunately for the passenger, the tube doors jerked open again, as they so often have a bizarre habit of doing, and the thug launched himself back onto the train and started knocking seven bells out of this poor chap.

Naturally, everybody in the carriage just sat back and pretended to hide behind their Metros until he'd gone away.

You see, I've been in the unfortunate position of having some piece of pond scum holding me round the throat and divesting me of a mobile phone, an Oyster card and £45, and during that unpleasant encounter who should ride by but some big bloke on a bike, with headlights blazing, and - probably stupidly given I didn't know if my attacker had a knife - I called out: "Help, help!" And then when he kept going : "Can't you see he's attacking me?"

The unhappy truth is that people seem happy to stick their noses into every other aspect of everybody else's life, but seem less encouraged to do so when there's something blatantly illegal going on.

To give a less extreme example, I commute through Streatham and Tulse Hill every day, both parts of London that seem to have been in the news a lot this year for various stabbings and shootings and other nefarious high-jinks.

Yesterday afternoon, this tall black dude got on at Streatham carrying a shopping bag with two mops in it, and sat down on the bank of seats directly in front of me.

I thought no more of this until about twenty seconds later I caught a whiff of cigarette smoke, looked up, and saw this guy was openly having a crafty fag on the train, something that has been illegal for at least as long as I can remember.

Of course the proper thing to do would have been to challenge him and say: "Either put that out now or get off this train at the next stop."

But neither me, nor the other eight or nine people who were sitting nearby, did anything. You don't pick a fight with a six foot black man in south London, after all. But for a moment everybody was feeling slightly angry and slightly threatened by an antisocial dickhead.

After he had got off the train - of his own accord - at the next station, he leered up against the window, staggered along the platform, and his eyes were as wide as saucers, so clearly there was something else besides tobacco going on there, and I'm glad I didn't tackle him.

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking back from the station and there was another Afro-Caribbean kid, in stupid trousers and a backward baseball cap with its label still attached, openly defacing the front shutters of a pub with a can of spray paint.

This was next to an open grocery with several people picking fruit from the outside display, and a bus shelter with about ten more people in it. Nobody was raising a finger.

Going back to my mugger, who wasn't black but I think - it was twilight, I didn't see his face properly - was probably south Asian. And as we know, nobody helped me then either.

The reason being everyone was afraid that they'd be armed, with a knife or worse.

It's true that once you've been a victim of crime your liberal credentials go flying out of the window, but I haven't quite joined the hang 'em and flog 'em brigade just yet. And nor am I frightened by this silly season epidemic of stories in the right-wing press that are specifically designed to scare us stupid. In short, I don't think Britain's going to the dogs.

Nevertheless there are questions here I think we have to answer:
  1. Why are a disproportionate number of my brushes with criminality with those of ethnic minorities?
  2. Is it actually the truth that white people are just scared of ethnic minorities because of media-hype? Is this a racist position?
  3. What can be done?
My answers below, but I'd be interested to know yours:
  • I think this speaks actually only of my personal experience. London is a diverse city and ethnically homogenous parts of the country, such as Cornwall, have an equal number of white people who are shitheads. However, there is the unavoidable truth that a large amount of the gun crime in the news has been black-on-black. Of course, this begs the question, are we being manipulated by our news sources? Probably, yes, but that doesn't mean that all those teenaged kids weren't murdered this year.
  • I think a number of white people are scared and am certain there is influence from media sources, your own class background, exposure to people from other countries, and so on. But importantly, given the number of Londoners who live quite happily alongside each other without a problem, there's no need to be. I don't think I'm a racist and I don't think most other people are either.
  • Fuck knows.

Friday, 17 August 2007

I want Stephen Fry to be my big gay uncle

One of my great, but lesser known fears, is that I will die before having had the chance to have a chat with Stephen Fry. It would be an exquisite pleasure; like swimming in chocolate. I don't know that we'd have anything much to talk about, but it would be wonderful to be able to absorb some of him ... mentally.

I mention this having just watched a talking heads documentary celebrating the 50th birthday of the nation's favourite cuddly intellectual. And, like so many other shows touched by Fry, it provided the televisual equivalency of a mug of Ovaltine, some slippers and a pair of paisley-patterned jim-jams. The usual vox-pop 'slebs were bused in from Highgate and made to sit in a BBC studio done up to look like Nigella Lawson's kitchen, and all were ebullient in their praise, in particular Hugh Laurie, who hadn't shaved off his beard but had moderated his accent somewhat, which gave the effect of a Cambridge-educated House.

JK Rowling also popped up, Fry having narrated the Harry Potter audiobooks, sitting on a set with a full set of books behind her, just in case anybody forgot what she did for a living. I do feel a bit sorry for JK. I fear this is going to be her fate now that she's finished ejaculating Harry all over the page; to wind up as a rent-a-quote on retrospective TV shows.

The whole was cut with various skits from A Bit of Fry and Laurie; my favourite sketch from which I'm trying to figure out how to post here. I came in a bit too late for that show, only really graduating to 'adult' comedy shows, via Red Dwarf and The Brittas Empire, in about 1992, so I only ever recall seeing a couple of episodes of, I think, the last series, on their first run. But I have to say it all looked bloody funny, and I may have to track down a DVD; YouTube only satisfies so far, after all.

Above all I love Stephen for facility and gifts with language, and I think that comes over in the shows - comedy or otherwise - that he's been a part of, and that's why I want him in my Famous Family, which also includes Judi Dench as my Grandmother, and Joanna Lumley as my Wicked Aunt.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

News Watch!

The Sunday Times reports that 'comedy actress' Dawn French is 'moving to Cornwall to die'.

The lovely Dawn, who is not suffering from cancer or AIDS or anything that a couple of hours on a treadmill once or twice a week wouldn't cure, is apparently convinced that she is going to die young - The Times, in grisly style, notes that her father committed suicide, which is less something you die of and more something you inflict upon yourself - and is setting her affairs in order at the venerable age of 49.

Apparently she has a 40-room mansion overlooking a smugglers' cove that was built for the same family who built the house that inspired Manderley in Rebecca.

My Sunday

Following Friday's ever-so restrained night of excess I slept for four hours on Saturday morning, and planned on having a very long, satisfying sleep the following night, of the kind that you just don't get any more. So, I started watching Mike Leigh's All or Nothing on BBC2 at about 10:40 but after 20 minutes decided that I just couldn't hack it - even for a Mike Leigh film - and beetled off to bed.

Only to be woken at about 7:50 by Elderly Neighbour's Greco-Cockney friend, who has a tight blonde perm, wears ill-advised pink boob tubes, and has a voice like Harry Enfield doing Stavros; "Aw, just lookit your plants innit," she boomed over the back gardens. "Ow is you gettin your lemon tree so boo'iful? Jesis Christ, Mary, an lookit them rahses, innit, dey is aww pink!"

Mary's garden is indeed boo'iful, and she does indeed have a little lemon tree that, admirably for North London, has about three little, approximately testicle-sized lemons dangling from its branches. She also has roses (pink ones) and - not being particularly green-fingered myself - what I think might be a begonia.

But at 8 in the morning, I don't like hearing it appraised. And in a voice that could teach Brian Blessed something about projection.

...

After a few days off, spent a good hour at the gym, forty minutes on various training machines followed by some time in the weights room, most of which was spent waiting for one of the machines to come free. When it did, the little jerk who'd been using it - I could tell he was a jerk because he'd put the little peg at an absurdly high weight and was making loud snorting noises like a foghorn enduring a 36-hour labour throughout - then didn't bother wiping down the - by now sweaty - machine. It is lucky I don't have OCD or something.

As it is I am worried I will catch body-builder disease or something. These guys have their own little - muscly - clique and, maybe it's just me, but I can't see how the gym is a social thing. I think the gym is something to be endured to keep up a reasonable level of fitness to be in better shape for the things life throws at you. I like to be in and out in as little time as possible and not to stand around by the machines flexing.

Cycling with your friends is a social activity ... football in the park is a social activity. Gyms are just utilities.

Although in its favour, the muscly clique does seem to be predominantly Arsenal supporting, which given our proximity to Golders Green is a surprise.

...

An email from the parents, currently driving round the Canadian Rockies - I hope in an open top Mustang - expressed dismay that I wasn't around the other day when they spent the night at a large and strange hotel that put them in mind of The Shining. I don't have the heart to tell them I've never seen that film.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Summer's here, it's time for mayonnaise!

So I think summer has definitely come in some form or another; I was actually able to leave home this morning without an umbrella for the first time since April, although this is really because I forgot it, but I'd never let that stand in the way of a good story.

Walked down to the gym on the Broadway this morning in what is fast becoming a normal routine. I have yet to see any really hot boys there - regular readers who can think back to 2002 will remember a really exceptionally cute Japanese boy - in lycra shorts if I remember properly - at the Sussex uni gym who I was infatuated with for, gosh, a whole two weeks or so. Anyway, this gym is a shade cheaper than the local Virgin Active, but is filled mainly with Indian boys exercising in baggy gangsta clothes, which I don't get - surely they would get caught in the treadmills.

The instructor who inducted me on Saturday is called Ali and was kind of hot, although I suspect he is a Good Muslim Boy (TM).

Then into London for a business lunch with a security software firm at Bertorelli's, which is an apparently 'legendary' Italian joint on Charlotte Street. The food was good but nothing special, although I asked for my tuna steak medium and it was decidedly medium-rare, which was in fact just how I wanted it, so full credit to their chef. The starter, if you're taking notes, was a prosciutto, fig and rocket salad. I've never really had figs before and it was a good combination. Meanwhile, the - Spanish - waiter was flirting outrageously with all the Ladies Who Lunch, and insisted on shaking us all by the hand as we left. He would have been cute if he'd bothered to shave. The PR who I know of old has got rid of the funky hair he had last year and gone for a run-of-the-mill crew cut. Anyway, we had a good chat about IT and People We Know Who Have Been Flooded. And someone who wasn't me picked up the bill, which I find is always the best way to do lunch.

Then, as it was sunny, I walked back along Oxford Street to get the tube from Bond Street and admired the skinny jean clad boys flitting between Topman and H&M. I poked the sale at Zara but all the good stuff had gone and I'm on a mission to not spend any money for a little while so that I can afford a Macbook in September.

Four people from language schools attempted to give me cards telling me to come and learn English.

Next door's garden is filled with flowers again. She has a beautiful pink rosebush and lots of bright things in pots that I think may be some kind of pansy, and what looks suspiciously like an orange tree. There's one of those little loveseats as well, which is rather sad as her husband died quite recently. The lady downstairs has a nice garden too, it has a trellis thing and a wheelbarrow that always has a spade in it; I suspect this is largely for effect. The neighbours on the other side neglect their garden, although it does have an enormous washing line to accomodate the lady of the house's giant burqas.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Gastronomic oddity

Gastronomes across the land have taken heart this week, following the publication of a survey revealing that the French - of all people - have voted the British the most adventurous eaters. Which I think we can all agree is a fine and richly deserved nod from our Gallic cousins.

The eagle-eyed will spot some flaws in this logic of course.

The first being that French cuisine, beyond the ubiquitous snails and frogs' legs - both of which I've had and both of which are, in all honesty fairly non-descript dishes - is hardly the most exotic in the world. When you can buy bags of crickets as street food in southeast Asia, and British film crews visiting China pop along to film and chortle at the restaurants that serve all penis, all the time, a bourguignon of this and a coulis of that seems, well, rather tame in comparison. Anybody brought up in a western culture can't be defined as having exotic and adventurous tastes by dint of having eaten something French. The concept of adventurous in this context is completely flawed.

Secondly, the Brits who holiday in France are precisely the sort who are going to want to try out the food. Don't let this survey fool you into thinking we don't have lumpen proles who eat nothing but chips. We just don't send them to France; they don't like the fancy foreign food so they go to Spain instead where they can get egg and chips and turn the colour of broiled lobster in a matter of fifteen minutes. Ergo, the survey is clearly biased in favour of the middle classes.

And it is the middle classes who we all knew were driving this - not unwelcome - fad for decent food in this country anyway. Everybody else is stuffing themselves on frozen pizzas and ready meals.

So really, nobody has learned anything.

But the Brits can feel a bit smug that the French have made a concession in their favour. And maybe that's the point.

In other travel news, nouveau-middle class Russians are edging out the Germans at several resorts in Turkey. And the Turks are all for it; it turns out that the Russians, having lived a goodly proportion of their lives under a barbarically stupid economic system, have very low expectations when it comes to what counts as good service. So bingo, the Turkish resorts can keep offering crap service, the Russians are content as long as there's sunshine and plentiful vodka, and as for the more discerning German tourists. It seems they can find another place to lay their towels. Everyone's a winner. Except the Germans.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

I'm outta here!

So, an awkward day in the office. I finally got confirmation of my start date at The Very Big Company O'Doom this morning - it's towards the end of June - and promptly handed in my formal resignation, and coming so soon after the Deputy Editor walked it wasn't welcomed. The Boss is very disappointed and made it clear in no uncertain terms - as well as saying how great the opportunities were if I stayed, which is exactly how best to guilt-trip me (and was probably his intention). But you know, no guilt because my career has to come first here. And, you know, there are no opportunities that are worth making under 20K in London for and expecting any quality of life. Also, the new place gives me three more days holiday and a pension plan.

But, you know, if they're wondering why the best tech magazines in the country keep poaching their journalists? I don't think they fully realise what a killer product they're putting out, and how much they are under-resourcing it. The solution is really staring them in the face; pay the NUJ-mandated rates. I'm getting a 35% pay rise in my new job, so it wasn't much of a surprise that they didn't at least attempt to match it, although it was disappointing, because all they needed to do was match it - and with the number of people leaving the company lately that really shouldn't be too hard - and I would have stayed. I have loved working for this company and I'm bitterly sorry to go like this.

Anyway, Editor says not to feel bad about it so I won't.

My induction packs came this morning. I have no end of forms to fill in and return before I can start, and documents to hunt down and medical declarations to sign and so on. This is all apparently a sign that I am joining A Big Company. I also got a signed letter from my new CEO, who looks forward to meeting me soon. No you don't, you're listed on the FTSE 100...

I am also apparently going to be given a Work/Social Mentor, presumably in case I can't tell the difference. Also an Arse/Elbow Differentiator.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Life goes on

So, I decided I haven't really done a big, interesting entry for a while, so here is one ... hopefully.

I had a birthday, a very important one, I'm halfway to 50 and nobody remembered! Well, thanks for the good wishes here and on Facebook. I would have liked to do some kind of big party thing, but I don't really like hosting big parties, so it was more of a quiet weekend at home, not doing a whole lot. I got a lovely bottle of rare breed Wild Turkey from L. It got 95% in Jim Murray and - all I can say is I have rarely tasted anything better. Anybody who thought American whiskies were limited to rough n'ready Jack Daniels and Jim Beam, think again, because this is sublime and perfect. Not that there's anything wrong with Jack - everyone gets the urge to rough it once in a while.

On the job front, there's been a little movement. With any luck - this is a test to see if any of you actually still read this thing - you'll remember I went for a senior reporter position at one of Reed's business titles down in Sutton back in December, and it was judged then that I wasn't really ready for the position that was on offer. So that was disappointing, but not particularly unexpected, and I wasn't sure I'd wanted that job much anyway. Well, a couple of weeks ago the company came back to one of the media agencies that I've registered my CV with, and asked if I'd be interested in applying for a similar position on another one of their many titles, which I thought was particularly encouraging and not a little flattering for my poor, bruised ego. The upshot is that I went in to see them again yesterday and the interview went much better this time. I have a good feeling about it, and I'm pretty confident I will make at least the second round.

Another agency that I'm registered with also got me in for an interview on Monday, this was for an editorial position on an in-house title at quite a prestigious business advisory body in London, with offices very close to Hyde Park Corner. That also went really well, the editor seemed really pleasant and the interview ticked all the right boxes for me. However, yesterday afternoon the other agency phoned me up and said that while they'd been very impressed, they felt I am overqualified for the position. Which, well, I don't really know whether to feel vaguely insulted or quite flattered by that. The word is that since the job had a lot of administrative duties attached to it and that I came across as ambitious to progress in the trade to the degree that it made them think I wouldn't have enjoyed the administrative job much.

Now, that may not actually have been so far from the truth, because that particular position was only paying £500 more than I'm currently making, and I think that, in all probability, they were actually worried by the fact that I would have - with justification - wanted to be making a much better salary very quickly, and they probably want someone who's career they can develop. In that regard Reed seems like a far better bet, not least because the starting salary is a good £3,500 above my current wage, and I reckon I could push them up to £4,000 with some creative bargaining.

And bargaining I may well have to do, because the deputy editor at my current job has moved on to pastures new and I'm moving up the ladder in his footsteps. So I asked them to go to £20,000 - which I think is an unreasonably low wage for a deputy editor in any strand of the media - but given the company is in pretty dire financial straits right now, I expected them to either stonewall me completely, or meet me halfway. Happily they met me halfway, but the plain fact of the matter is that I'm now stepping up into a vastly more responsible position that carries a very heavy workload, and the reward for the late nights I will now be expected to pull is just not enough. My current salary only barely covers my monthly costs. Suffice to say that I'm not happy with how things are going, and although I'll feel bad about walking out on these people, they also just made three people redundant in quick succession to save on some costs, so I'm under no illusions that they'd make me walk the plank if they had to.

We've had a smattering of chums in town over the past couple of days; F and Sarah caused delicious dim sum on Sunday lunchtime, and as far as the state of the tablecloth goes, I still maintain that the pork dumplings were out to get me, and the teapot was really very badly designed. We then piled back to ours, where the resourceful Sarah helped me finish off the disgusting bottle of Isle of Jura Legacy 1810 that I mistakenly bought last November in a duty free shop. Monday evening we hosted Sophie, who was in town for a university interview, and last night, Mrs Pokery joined us for a layover whilst waiting for a flight to the States with Flatmate Ricardo. However, I only got to see her briefly, given that I went to my first gig last night...

Yes, yes, okay, I'm 25 and it was my first proper gig. Please don't tell any of my friends. Whatever, it was actually an edition of Later With Jools Holland over at TV Centre, and the lineup was pretty fantastic; I consider I've made up for lost time now because I've now seen Patti Smith, Joe Cocker, Simply Red, The Cribs, The Cold War Kids and some Myspace-type female soloist who was a bit of a Lily Allen rip-off, but was still awfully good*. The highlight was, of course, Patti Smith, who did three tracks off her new covers album, Twelve, which was out last month. We got Gimme Shelter, which is absolutely my favourite Stones track of all time, Gloria, and a track by George Harrison, I believe, but I could be wrong; I'm actually looking at the track listing on the iTunes store right now and I'm completely unable to work out which one it actually was. Oh, and then they went and very nearly spoiled it all by letting her cover Smells Like Teen Spirit for an encore, which was actually atrociously bad. Anyway, regardless of the ill-considered encore, it was an abolsutely killer night out on Auntie, and if you get a chance to watch the show, you really must. I'm pretty sure it's on this Friday evening on BBC2. A little bird whispers in my ear that Eddie Izzard and John Barrowman will be on Jonathan Ross on BBC1 at the same time, but you really should be watching BBC2 because you might see me, and I'm clearly far more important. I'm the one at the back in the black shirt with slightly long indie hair looking spectacularly bored and ... wait ... that was the entire audience.

Tellywise, I'm still enjoying Ugly Betty, of course, that's pretty much my must-see show of the moment now that Skins is over. I hated the first episode (of Ugly Betty and Skins, coincidentally) but all the others have more than made up for it. The new series of Peep Show is ... only okay. I'm currently working my way through the box-set that I borrowed off a friend at work and it was much better back then. Naturally, last Saturday I watched Eurovision on my own! I expect to see party invitations next year, people. Anyhow, I was disgusted, I really thought we stood an outside chance with our entry this year. I voted for France, not because they sung in English, which is a capital offence over there, but because their costumes were designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier. My Eurovision theory is that we scupper ourselves because we either enter a carbon copy of the previous year's winning song - remember when it went all Arabian-influenced a couple of years ago and the next year, we sent Javine - or we send a carbon copy of Abba, because that's the sort of group that most British people are convinced still win Eurovision. So next year expect us to send a troupe of butch lesbians.

What's to come? There's boy this weekend, hopefully with my spare iPod headphones - the ones I use have broken so I've been without music on my commute for a fortnight - and at the end of the month I'm expanding my forays beyond the Iron Curtain and heading to Romania for a couple of days to cover an industry event, flying into Otopeni Airport outside Bucharest, whose IATA code is, fittingly, OTP. I've been promised a tour of Bucharest by night, and a dinner with traditional Romanian cuisine. I don't actually know what traditional Romanian cuisine is like so when I found out I was going I looked it up on Wikipedia, and it appears to be largely polenta-based. In early June there's a wedding to be attended in Scotland ... I'm trying to get my parents to give me the money for a new suit for it, as all mine are really boxy, and I want something a bit more slim-fitting, that I could maybe wear with Converse if I wanted and pretend to be David Tennant. Although not around Ricardo because it would make him want sex.

Things are pretty good, really.

* Some time later, ETA this was actually the luvly Kate Nash

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Channel 4 News

By what strange process did Channel 4 News wind up with Boris Johnson going on to talk about Tony Blair's resignation??

Brrp brrp
Brrp brrp
Brrp brrp

Hello, and welcome to Conservative Party Central Office, rolling back the frontiers of socialism since 1978. To help us better serve us, please choose from the following options...

If you are calling to request a signed photograph of David Cameron, press one ...
If you are calling to tell us you think Hitler would have made a bloody good Home Secretary if he'd only been to Eton, press two ...
If you are calling to book a Tory for a TV or radio appearance, or you would like details of William Hague's lecture tours, press three ...
If you are Norman Tebbit, fuck o...

Beep

You have pressed three. All our Tories are currently very busy, but your call is important to us, so please stay on the line...

And did those feet, in ancient times, tum diddly tum ...

All our Tories are currently very busy, but your call is important to us, so please stay on the line...

Until we've built Jeruuuuuuuusa...

Blip

Good afternoon, bookings, you're through to Margaret, how may I help you?

- Ah, yes, I'm calling from Channel 4, we're trying to use your internet booking system to get a spokesman for tonight, but there seems to be some problem with availability today, I can only...

We are experiencing very heavy demand for our spokesmen at the minute, as I'm sure you understand...

- Oh yes, of course, what with the resignation...

The resignation, yes. I can offer you Boris Johnson for a seven forty five appearance but he's booked in for Have I Got News For You at ten. You said you were calling from Channel 4, yes?

- That's right...

That would be that nice Jon Snow with the ties, yes?

- That's correct...

Tapping sounds

The Channel 4 News that nightly grills right wing pundits?

- Yes, the very same.

The one from which no Conservative has ever escaped a jolly good ribbing?

- Yes, I mean, liberal bias in the media, hello!

Ahahaha

- Ahahaha

Well, as I said, we can offer you Boris Johnson. His unique brand of second-rate buffoonery and ability to make us all look like complete arses should be just what you're looking for.

- Certainly, we'll take him.

Thank you sir. Your booking reference will be ...

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Bird flu redux, 4 million Irishmen slammed in inability to cook chicken properly ruckus

So, in a second act of stupidity, a whole bunch of countries have now banned imports of British-bred poultry. Which has me scratching my immaculately coiffeured head. Here's why. So far everything we know points to the spread of H5N1 along migratory paths flown by wild birds. Given that thousands of innocent gobblers have gone to their untimely deaths and the outbreak appears to be tentatively over, the risk is surely more acute from those millions of wild birds that are free to cross the ocean as and when they please. Now, a beef ban I could just about understand, because it's not as if there were herds of mad cows fording the English Channel of their own accord, intent on raining destruction across Europe, but this is frankly dumb.

The funniest thing is that the countries on the list are mostly countries that I wasn't aware we had a great poultry-trading relationship with. Apparently, under normal circumstances the people of Macedonia, South Korea and Hong Kong are just falling over themselves to buy up our delicious, nutritious turkey twizzlers. Oh, and naturally the French have weighed in, too, but I'm too tired after only four hours sleep last night to go to town on the French farmers, who could teach Harry Potter fans a thing or two about wank.*

The Irish government is said to be considering its options, according to this morning's Grauniad.

But in effect, surely what the Irish government has said is that it doesn't trust its people to be able to pan fry a chicken breast for five minutes. Which, you know, is a bit insulting really.

I will get off this topic eventually, I promise.

* Wouldn't 'le wanking' as in, 'on va faire le wanking ce soir' be a great loan word for the French language? I wonder if the Academie would try and think up an alternative?

Monday, 5 February 2007

Bird flu strikes Chav Your Say; hundreds dead of self-important wank, stupidity

What about the eggs??? A human mother can pass HIV onto unborn child, so can a bird pass bird flu to egg, if so, are they disposing of eggs as well, or are they hatching or are we eating?? It is quite a scary thought. deb, halifax

It's a scary thought that you're eating, for sure...

And as for the people who are speculating that the government is deliberately infecting the turkeys in order to bury Cash for Honours...

Frankly, I'm surprised by the whole thing; I wasn't aware Bernard Matthews used real turkeys.

Oh, here's another:

I think it is time for wide spread panic. We have no cure for this hoffific disease and when this really takes hold it is going to wipe out the whole population of the Earth. No one is safe. I am absolutely devastated. Tom, glasgow

...

'Would you say the time has come for us to crack open each other's heads and feast on the tasty goo inside?'
'Yes, Kent, I would.'