Thursday, January 31, 2008

The View from the vale

I've managed to find one of the cables I was looking for so I can plug my camera phone into my computer. This means I can share photos with ease now but I'd still like to know where that other pesky cable is hiding.

Anyway, here are some photos of my grandmother's house for those readers who enjoy looking at almost sickeningly twee places. This photo was taken from the front garden which is mostly used for games of croquet and playing 'What's the time Mr Wolf?'.

The house has good gardens for playing all sorts of games that involve chasing cousins around or hide and seek and there is a pond on the other side of the house where whole generations of newts have been closely examined by family members over the years.

When you go in the main door you will notice the stick basket. Inside are a collection of mallets, shooting sticks and various other paraphinala. Most of the walking sticks are fairly pockmarked as they have been used as they have been involved in more than a few pirate style battles and rescues of princesses.

There is an archaic pair of wooden tennis racquets for use in the tennis court. The courts are grass ones and are played on perhaps three or four times a year. They used to be played on even less because my grandfather decided that around the tennis courts would be an excellent place to put some bee hives so any balls going out of play would result in an army of angry bees joining in the fun. The hives are gone now , but tennis always plays second fiddle to bothering newts.

This is a picture from the small drawing room that leads off the kitchen. I always liked this room when I was small because it was where you went to draw pictures of dragons and play with glue while still being comfortingly close to the adults talking in the kitchen. The Piano was only for accomplished players, amateurs were made to play the less good piano that lived in the barn. The barn isn't actually used for any farming related things, it's for having parties in and running around whooping. It's also full of cobwebs and scary pictures so it's excellent for making yourself scared on halloween.

The bear brings back lots of fond memories for me, it is a ride on bear with a cable you can pull to cause it to make bear noises. This pre-dates computer chips, and it looks like it pre-dates the British Empire. it's so old so I have no idea what produces the strange 'Wrough' noise it makes, it's probably some special device made out of ivory and panda hearts.

For some reason all the books in this room are French. I'm not sure why you would put only French books in a room where young types are allowed to play around with scissors and pens but there you go.

Anyway I hope you have enjoyed this little tour down memory lane and into Dorset.

Battlestar Galactica, taxes and motorbikes

I'm not really one for going out with blondes. Sure I experimented with a few things at university but who didn't? It's not that they aren't beautiful but brunettes are the ones that really get my cravat into a twist.

I have a 'type' that is fairly well known to the point where my friend N says there are 'Louche Enabled' girls, in the same way that you get computers that can work with specific operating systems. Which makes it sound a bit creepy but what he is saying is that I have a type and mostly I stick to it.

Anyway, if you haven't seen Battlestar Galactica and you have at least some latent nerd genes you probably should as it's deeply enjoyable. If you are a high-brow type you could probably get away with watching it as a study how the paranoia of American socity is shown through it's science fiction.

Or you could watch it just to see the lovely Tricia Helfer be an evil robot lady. She wears lovely red dresses and swans around being dastidly. I don't think I really fancy her, but I do find her naughty character strangely compelling in a way that is against all the rules.

I don't normally ding-dong at blond ladies, but for her I do.

I'm trying to pay my taxes today, I really am but I've got some how caught up in the cogs of the system and I'm at total jam. Oh dear. I think I might try and get a sensible job again just to avoid this sort of nonsense.

Today is the day of the motorbike show. I would really like to go so I can go and look at bikes and possibly hassle the tired looking people at the stands for various bike magazines for work. Alas I will probably have to stay here and talk to people on the telephone about how I'd really love to pay some taxes and they can give me lots of different numbers to call so I can repeat myself endlessly.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mushrooms and I

Mushrooms and I are no longer friends. We had a bit of a to-do before Christmas which caused me to miss out on a few lovely parties. On the day I was dumped by T.P. I ate some mushrooms which really didn't agree with me, and continued to argue for a few days.

I've not really had them much since then but for some reason after returning from the pub (more on the pubbing later) it seemed like an excellent idea to cook up some suspiciously elderly mushrooms and have them on toast. This was an extremely bad idea, because of those dastidly fungi I spent slightly more time in the bathroom than my bedroom last night and I awoke with a fairly serious handover and aches in strange places.

It was sort of worth it though, not the mushrooms but the pub visit. I scampered down the road to Wimbledon to go drinking with Piqued and his lovely ladyfriend. It was an excellent pub visit. We talked about genetics, obsessives and large amounts of nonsense. Afterwards I was buzzing with good humour and so the walk back seemed fly by, which is probably why I thought that having some dodgy mushrooms would do me no harm.

I awoke this morning in pieces - absolutely ruined - but after a cold shower, a fresh shirt and a summer hat I feel like a new chap. One with a slightly fuzzy head but a new chap all the same.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Amy Winehouse (redux)

One of the nice things about being single is you get to muse on any girl you see and what it would be like to go out with them.

It's fairly well documented that I have a bit of a crush on Amy Winehouse. It probably started from a great house party where I listened to her album while extremely hungover. Actually it started before that.

I brought her album because I fancied her and then luckily her music turned out to be rather good. Incidentally I think the Amy on the right is definitely the sexy one. Just looking at that picture makes me feel like Robert Crumb and I have to go for a long walk, or possibly a cold shower.

Anyway, through luck I have a couple of friends who know her (or used to know her really quite well) and I spent a lot of time hassling them for an introduction but for some reason they wouldn't do it. Oh how history could have been different if they had eh?

I'd like to think that she would have drawn strength from my baking skills and stayed away from those ghastly drugs. I could have been her rock(cake).

Instead I'll just be a chap she met ever so briefly in a pub once when she appeared to have a terrible cold because she kept sniffling and disappearing to the loos.


The great flapjack experiment was a roaring success. Vanilla and Honey flapjacks are amazing. I'm eating them with a cup of tea right now.

Incidentially my flatmate has introduced me to a type of tea I'd never encountered before Earl Gray with Lavender. I can't imagine a more camp flavour, can you?

So yeah, fuck you companies who don't pay. I've got flapjacks. Or put another way, unlucky in money, lucky in oat based Scottish snacks.

Cakes and bakeability

Yes, I'm aware that pun of a title only works if you squint, give it the benefit of the doubt and are in a good mood.

I'm in a stressed mood. Various companies have decided that paying me isn't terribly high on their list of things to do and so I'm enjoying that special terror that freelancers get when you do a lot of work and then don't get paid. I'm sort of paralysed by it all, I can't write because I'm so stressed and currently I can't afford to go on a course which I would then review for a paper.

It's not just the papers fault, the publishers are being positively sluggish on the second part of my advance and another company who owe me a sizable chunk of change are being a bit crap with talk of 'Christmas messing up invoicing'.

Talk to the cuff links because the Louche ain't listening.

Since I'm so stressed I can't really do anything - I'm baking. This is an interesting form of baking because my ingredients are very limited at the moment. I have some oats so I thought I'd make some hardy flapjacks. Sadly Golden Syrup and any form of normal sugar are sadly lacking in the flat at the moment so they have been replaced with some strange honey I found and some vanilla sugar.

I'm hoping that these last minute changes to the recipe will improve it rather than destroy it. I hope so, I'm not sure I could take anymore stress right now.

Who will buy this wonderful morning?

A friend is launching a new club night that sounds very interesting. It's called Chopin Scores and it is held in the most amazing venue I've seen in a while. The inside of the nightclub is a studio representation of a London Street. Yup, I'm bringing you chaps an exclusive of a night club. What ever next eh?

This is an actual picture from the inside of the club, the organiser tells me that there will be live poetry readings, one-to-one cabaret and all sorts of strange happenings. It's partly run by my favourite party organiser so I have no-doubts that it will be an amazing experience, I'm already planning what I'm going to wear - something dark perhaps in velvet

Monday, January 28, 2008

Man of the month

It's been a while since I've done a man of the month, so here is a new one.

Alber Elbaz the artistic director of French fashion house Lanvin. He gets this award for his bow tie and pleasantly eccentric appearance.

Wouldn't you just love to have him over for tea?

New Moka life

One of the additional nice things about going to Devon for a little mini break is that it gave me the chance to pick up my Christmas presents that I had to leave behind. I couldn't take them with me before because I was a homeless bum and homeless bums aren't going to get much of a chance to use a lovely, beautiful moka pot.

I must say that previously I found people who fell in love with objects a bit strange. I've got friends who have named cars, bikes and even clothes. Yes, they are all male. I had that opinion simply because I just hadn't met the right object. Which is a round-about way of saying I don't just like my new moka pot, I adore it.

Of course I can't tell it that because I've got to play it cool.

It's so beautiful, I mean it's really stunning. The polished metal and sharp yet perfectly measured angles make it look faintly reminiscent of a woman or perhaps that is just my frame of mind at the moment.

It doesn't just look lovely, it brews amazingly strong coffee in the most thrilling way. The liquid that comes out of it is fiercely potent so that you should really only have one serving of it, and that should be in the morning when you have a whole day to ride out the effects. It's proper coffee, bitter with subtle tones that race around the pallette and that makes your whole body tingle. It also reminds me of my time in Italy when I nearly died and as a result reinvented myself. The way it makes the coffee is very exciting too, but that has to be witnessed to be understood.

My little brother gave me two lovely cups to use with the moka pot, they are tiny espresso cups in classic off-white. They even have saucers, I don't think I've owned saucers before, they give me a lot to live up to. Oscar Wilde had the same thing about his best crockery and once said

"I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china."

Even if I can't quite live up to my coffee making equipment it is perfect if I should have a guest staying over and I want to impress her with the perfect cup of coffee in the morning.

Not that I'm having guests over at the moment, I don't want that sort of antic at right now. I thought I did but guests can turn into regular guests and regular guests can turn into relationships and I really don't want one of those.

After all I'm already seriously involved with someone - my moka pot.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Oscar Wilde and the family shoot

Well that was quite a weekend. First on to the important business of my Grandmother. Despite having something rather wrong with her kidneys she seems okay at the moment. Like an episode of House she has some sort of virus that is making her kidneys rather unhappy but the exact nature of it is unknown.

When I visited her she was rather jolly this is because her three favourite things are available in hospital

1)Drugs. My grandmother loves taking drugs, in a 1960s housewife sort of way. When the doctors offered her sleeping pills she could barely contain her glee.

2)Eaves Dropping. The woman opposite my grandmother in hospital is having a to-do with her daughter. Listening to this drama unfolding was making my grandmother's eyes positively sparkle.

3)Nice Beds. It is traditional for my grandmother to receive guests while propped up in bed surrounded by the papers, radio 4 going on quietly in the background and ideally a dog and a cat lounging around like cushions. The latter two are not available in hospital but the bed adjusts so matriarchs can sit up and read about the situation in Kenya (which she pronounces Keeen-ya).

The nurses in the hospital were amazed that at the age of 88 my grandmother was hosting dinner parties and going for long walks with her dog so while the doctors still don't know exactly what is wrong with her she did seem in very good sorts.

This weekend was also the event of the family shoot. It's a mass gathering of the family more than a serious sporting event. Every bird that is shot (and they are very few - there are only about two shots of note in the family) will be turned into some sort of delicious meal. It (the bird) will have had a terribly nice life of scampering around the Dorset hills in specially grown crops designed for it to live in.

The shoot was the smallest it has been for a while, various parts of the family were off doing things in other countries but as always it was a joy to catch up with cousins, second cousins and various 3rd and 4rd cousins who have now been absorbed into the fold.

The day is split into three main parts, in the early morning the hills are covered in cousins as they beat, or shoot depending on their position in the family. After about four drives across various hills everyone has a mid-morning snack of hot soup (wild mushroom this time) and sausages. It's the thought of these hot snacks that keeps you going as you stumble through fields of kale or over hedgerows.

After the snack there is a final drive through woodland that is extremely tough going and like being in the Great Escape. You stumble over trees and things while gun-fire goes on around you and various surprised animals - including deer - scamper in your wake. After this long and exhausting 'walk with guns' everyone returns to the house for a lovely meal made up by various members of staff.

It was on the way back to this that my Great Uncle Rupert accused me of looking like a Wildian figure in my tweeds and tie, which in turn caused another distant uncle called Tom to remark that it was probably genetic as we were relatives of a Mr Oscar Wilde. I wasn't aware of this connection previously but it's a pleasant surprise.

The day was finished off by visiting my grandmother in hospital, after causing myself a cracker of a head injury as I managed to prang my head on the door of the Range Rover and made an awful lot of blood come out of it. Thankfully it was only a flesh wound so after a bit of bleeding and a sort of bandage I'm fine although it does appear that TCP is now my new fragrance.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Devon and Dorset

I've rushed off to the West Country. Not just because it's time for the yearly Family Shoot, but because my Grandmother is deeply unwell.

She is in hospital right now giving the nurses lectures on the correct way hold a fork which I'm taking as a good sign.

Anyway the shoot is tomorrow, so I have to go bed now.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Unexpected Tuesday, operation popinjay and rollerskating with dominatrixes

Tuesday was a day of surprises, the day itself wasn't a shock but the events were quite surprising.

Sadly the editor I was supposed to be meeting cancelled on me because she hadn't been to bed the night before and was in pieces. This is a very honourable reason for cancelling, and she has promised to make it up to me so that is fine.

Now that I no-longer had to be sparkling with foppishness in my best waistcoat I changed into a pleasant but unassuming jumper and trotted off to work. This trotting took longer than planned because for some inexplicable reason I got on entirely the wrong bus and I ended up seeing parts of West London that I doubt any outsider has seen for thousands of years. After seeing dinosaurs and packs of proto-humans I managed to finally get on a bus going in vaguely the right direction and made it to Soho.

The office was it's usual fun place, although the main woman was a bit subdued because we are being sued for saying something that is true but the person who told it to us has disappeared. What makes it even more annoying is the person we said it about appeared on T.V. a few days ago and the presenter said even worse things in the same vein but that was okay because the presenter is a shouty chef.

Oh and my piece appeared in the newspaper but sadly the word Popinjay had been removed. On the plus side they had let me include a big plug for my next stand-up show but I shall miss Popinjay. Perhaps I'll get it in some other time.

After work I went with my colleague for a couple of cheeky cocktails at a members club on Shaftsbury Avenue. I had the vodka espresso and she dabbled with the lime Margareta, after those we saw off most of a bottle of champagne while plotting revenge on the person suing us and then came up with an idea for a travel show. Which reminds me I should be writing that right now.

Plinking with merriment after a good dose of nonsense and champers we spilled onto the street and went our separate ways. I decided that I would walk home from Soho as it was a good clear night and I wanted to get to know London again. The stroll was very pleasant. I took in Sloane Street and the King's Road which have both changed a great deal since Chelsea was my stomping ground and this time the walk home passed in a flash. Perhaps thanks to listening to the Mighty Boosh radio show.

When I got home I was still a little bit drunk but it was time for some more moving so I helped my flatmate unload more things from her car and then take the bins out.

Just before I lowered my head on the pillow I got two text messages out of the blue, both offering adventure and excitement.

1) H asked me if I wanted to go camping in the Arctic, sponsored by some car company

2) A Dominatrix I know, the only one I've ever got on with asked me rollerskating for her friends birthday tonight.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's a new dawn of a new day...

Today feels a bit like spring. It's still jolly cold but the light has a lovely clean quality of the sort that makes artist go all weak at the knees and other chaps go and check their picnic gear to see if it is still in working order.

I tend to picnic a bit too soon in the season because I get so excited by the prospect of eating outside, so when the proper picnic weather arrives I've had enough and I'll do anything to avoid a glass of Pimms and a cucumber sandwich. Perhaps this year I'll learn to pace myself.

A plan has already been formulated for a picnic with my flatmate. it will be 'jolly spiffing' the likes of which hasn't been seen since Gatsby was last spotted hosting a bash on the West Egg. Boaters or Trilbies will be a requirement for chaps, ladies must have a parasol. I just hope that is enough of a temptation to lure people south of the river.

I've got a pleasantly busy day ahead of me. I'll spend my usual morning in the library frowning but in the afternoon I'm going to go into one of the places I work in Soho. I've not been in for what seems like an age so this will be very pleasant to catch up on the nonsense going on.

The evening will be absorbed by meeting up with the editor who gives me most of my work. So I need to be on my best behavior. Actually not just my best behavior but the sort of behavior that says 'You should get a regular column talking about shoes and girls as well as your usual nonsense.'

Speaking of nonsense this afternoon I'll find out if I managed to get the phrase 'feckless popinjay' into the paper or not. If I have succeeded my next challenge will be to get embonpoint into print.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A biscuit day

I've been thinking about food a lot recently, especially raw food. Food you can pick of the vine and stuff into your mouth. Food that is so tasty you can't just go 'hmm' you have to sing about how lovely it is while doing a little 'this is tasty' dance.

This might just be because I'm drinking less, or just living a healthier lifestyle. Or perhaps I spend so much of my day frowning at a laptop or pacing around trying to squeeze thoughts out that even the slightest distraction becomes terribly exciting.

I think It's Australia day tomorrow and there is some sort of bash going on. I wonder what I'll make of the cocktails after this mostly puritan lifestyle. I'm hoping that even the most megre Sea Breeze will be exiting now.

In other news my poor flatmate has just been told today by a chap (the chap she has been having an on-off thing with for the last ten years) that he never loved her. This was done in a way that implied that he was entirely blameless for messing her around for the last few years and if anyone was to blame it was her. Honestly people can be such shits sometimes.

She was of course rather upset by this but after sorting out some other aspects of her life and a decent cup of tea she seems to be okay. It really should have been a cup of tea and a biscuit but we don't have any in the house. We probably should, for emergences like this where a person just really needs a biscuit. After all you never know when you are going to have a biscuit day.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I had a feature appear last week, I was learning to be a cowboy for a day. I wrote this feature a while ago but it only just appeared.

It has been pointed out to me by a couple of people that I managed to use the word naughty in the feature five times (and sneak it past the editor) which considering it's only a couple of pages long is pretty good going.

And you know what I'm rather proud of it, it strikes me as rather well, naughty.

This week I'm trying to get the word popinjay into a newspaper but who knows if it will sneak past the editor and sub-editors.


Sunday's are a tricky day, do too much and you start the week tired. Do too little and a strange sense of guilt haunts you and ruins your evening of watching light entertainment while eating comfort food.

I'm not sure I got the balance right today. I finally sorted out my room so I feel decidedly more moved in but I have a sort of listless feeling, like I should be doing more. This is surprising because over the last few days I've done a lot, sorting out all sorts of elements of my life. So maybe not more, but at least something else.

This would be an excellent time to do a bit of baking, perhaps some biscuits but I'm awfully low on the specialist ingredients for them. In the time between me leaving my old flat and collecting my stuff all my baking supplies disappeared. I don't think this was malicious, just a mistake. Still there will always be more baking powder and cake cases.

Perhaps a bracing walk is what I need, nothing like a good stroll to sort out the mind and centre the spirit.

I've just noticed that the apparently pointless ornaments in the library have lids you can take off and spaces that are perfect for storing secret notes to be read by someone else in the manner of spies. I wonder who I can use them to communicate with?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Must we?

I'm rapidly becoming of the opinion that 2008 is a fine, fine year. One a chap can't help to warm to. We shall not speak of the previous year, but this one is definitely a keeper.

My current tactic, or perhaps plan is more apt is to think of something excellent that has happened every day. It sounds a bit like something Pollyanna would do but I think one shouldn't think less of it for that. If you expect something excellent to happen every day, it's surprising how often it does. Even if it is just arriving at the bus stop on time or getting the last crumpet in the tea shop.

You wouldn't believe how strong the urge to break into song just then was. It's a good job I wasn't standing near an orchestra, and that my guitar is tucked away under my bed. Otherwise I would have sprung into technicolour and it would have all been over.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Penis Fatigue, Midnight cakes and infinite London

Last night I went out with a friend. She took me to see the the erotic exhibit at the Barbican. The exhibit was interesting but after a couple of hours I started to get penis fatigue and I really didn't want to see another representation of a man's rude bits.

There were some extremely good bits in the exhibit. The two video/slide installations are amazing. One is a very moving piece about couples that shows a series of photographs of couples doing couple things. It's a good mix of types of couples, a flighty teenage relationship, an intimate gay couple who are deeply involved and then a selection of families. I think all the couples featured are French so they spend a lot of the photos smoking and doing other spiky French things like smoking in the bath, or smoking while wearing cool tiger print pants.

The other installation is of a woman having an orgasm, it's a slow video of her face while some smashing opera plays in the background. It's an interesting piece that rather amusingly got my date extremely turned on. I didn't notice this and I just thought she was grumpy from looking at too many penises but she really was rushing out of the room before something happened that would be inappropriate.

After seeing all those winkies and reading about how an normal evening for Samuel Pepys involved reading some porn, having a wank, then chucking the book in the fireplace and then going out for a meal. It reminded me a little of someone else.

After the show we had a drink or two before the gauntlet was thrown down over my baking ability. I couldn't have someone disparaging my caking making skills, no matter how pretty they are. So we went to get ingredients and I made some nice cakes. I let my friend flavour them and we settled on a combination of orange peel, ginger and cinnamon. They turned out very well and the selection of flavours brilliantly offset the Lady Grey Tea we drank with them. This mix of flavouring has been named a 'Midnight cake' after the time of day when they were first invented.

After the baking I decided to make my way home to Putney on foot. I like walking through London and I've never tried walking to Putney before. I now know that Putney is almost infinitely far away from the centre of London. After about two hours of walking I felt my legs were about to fall off. Thankfully before I died of old age (but after about 3 and a half hours of walking) I finally got home and then collapsed on my bed. It wasn't a terribly productive day after that. I think I peaked with the cakes.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Things I will never do again

1) Cook fish in my new apartment. I made a fish and rice thingy using haddock. I felt an urge for rice, I was thinking about the book Empire of the Sun and that makes you yearn for the stuff. Although the book is about being a child prisoner of war in the far east it is really about rice. The first time I read it I spent the whole time in front of the stove, slowly stirring a pot of rice with a woodern spoon.

Anyway, I digress. The fish thing was pleasant enough but the damn smell of fish just won't leave the flat. It's a like the person at the end of a party who just won't leave no matter how much you yawn and change into your dressing gown.

2) Go out with a girl who says 'I don't like to win every arguement'. This is girl code for. 'I only date men who treat me like shit, if don't act like this I will be angry at you'.

3) Go to a gig to see a band only because I fancy the girl who told me about them. This band will always be loud and you won't be able to hear anything they are saying because the guitarist will have turned himself up too much in an effort to upstage the lead singer. Admittedly I've always ended up having at least an affair with a girl after she has introduced me to a band. So being partially deaf just seems to be rite of passage.

4) Refer to anything to do with sex as a 'rite of passage'

5) Hide in the library from fish smells.

6) Do blog entries that are lists.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I spent most of the afternoon going through my routine again and again to make sure I didn't stumble over anything - and to make sure it would fit in the slot. Sadly this caused me to drop a whole section about dinosaurs but perhaps it will appear somewhere else. Because I had gone over the material again and again in my head it had ceased to be funny to me long, long ago. So I had no idea if anything I said would be generate a giggle.

Anyway I stumbled towards the bus, in a world of my own. Going through it all to see if I could improve anything. I was fine and this world of calm stayed with me until I saw the microphone. Then I started to get a little bit jumpy. The first half was rattled through and the second half was just about to begin and I had the thirst of the gods for some reason. Perhaps because I was opening the second act and the chap before me had just DIED. Really died, it was painful to watch.

Anyway, I strode on stage, did all the things you are supposed to do - move the stand away. Step forward to the audience, make sweeping eye contact and then launch into the set.

My material was mostly about strange things my ex-girlfriend has done and about being dumped. After my first quip they laughed and I was away. It was brilliant fun but sadly passed in a flash. The five minutes shot by, filled with a very respectable amount of laughter, I even managed to use the phrase 'feckless popinjay' and sadly my time was over.

It was exhilarating, I was zinging about for the rest of the evening. The other chaps (and ladies) who were performing that night were lovely and were very supportive, especially after the heard it was my first time.

So what now? I've got more shows already booked and I'm completely hooked on the buzz you get for stand-up. And how that I've done it, well everything else seems like a doddle.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Clock troubles

As the hour of my performance draws ever closer I'm practicing doing the set to a clock. You have five minutes to fill with laughter and no more. So this means I have to make sure I have around that mark. Too little and things will get a bit harsh, too much and I won't get to finish a joke.

I got out my trusty pocket watch to time me while I marched around the front room spouting on about various subjects occasionally glancing back to the watch. I seemed to be doing okay but as I drew near to the end of my material the hand hadn't moved at all, so I launched into a further diatribe about something.

I checked the clock again, still only the most tiny bit of movement so I dredged my mind back to the comedy course to see if I could remember some of the stuff I came up with on the day. After a bit of squeezing and a quick checking of notes it came back to me. After rattling through that as slowly as possible without sounding like I was having a stroke I checked the time again. It had hardly moved at all.

I was feeling rather frantic at this point thinking what the Dickens was I going to talk about now to fill up my seemingly unlimited five minute slot.

Then I realised, I had been looking at the hour hand instead of the minute one and had actually sprouted nonsense for just over half an hour.

I really am such a spaz sometimes.

Why don't you come over to mine to work?

A simple enough question.

Between two chaps it can mean just the facts. I have somewhere we could work let us work there. Although it normally means lets work for a bit and then you will start trying on my hats and then we will get drunk and before you know it we will be on the Eurostar to Paris to see if our Schoolboy French is good enough to pick up Parisian girls. It wasn't if you were wondering, sadly asking where the train station is repeatedly while winking is not enough anymore. But that is a different story for a another time.

Anyway, I have a friend coming over to do some work here. A female friend with curves, eyelashes and all the other lovely things about women. It was supposed to be brunch, and then it turned into tea and now she is going to come here for a bit and we shall decide what happens next. This girl has appeared previously in this blog and was known as the Party Organiser. Lets link back to a blog that pretty much sums up our relationship so far - Many Girls in Pants.

For those that can't be bothered to look she is stunning, dark haired and more than a bit firey and sort of thinks I'm a moron. Actually that's not fair anymore these days she just thinks I'm a bit slow, with hair that is too long.

So I used to swoon at the slightest chance she would appear. Recently my ardour has cooled a bit. I still think she is stunning but I realise it would never work between us as anything more than friends. So friends we shall be.

Which is a surprisingly grown up statement I feel a chap could do well to think like that more often. Still it doesn't hurt to put on a nice shirt if she is coming around, possibly a smoking jacket one just happens to have knocking around.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Today is Terror's Eve. Not the sort of terror you get from Godzilla turning up or anything as wimpy as that. This is Terror's Eve because tomorrow I will be making my stand-up debut in a pub in London.

I've got some material, I'm not sure if it is five minutes worth. Or even if it is funny but I've said yes and various things that can't be undone have been done, like photographers booked.

So yes, if you'd like to see a chap stride about in a Velvet suit and make some slightly unusal remarks about dinosaurs then erm, comment with an email address and I'll send you the details.

The Shining

Just like in the Shining the library of this building has a scale model of itself. I think this is so you can study it and when you get possessed by evil spirits you can chase your son through it quite successfully but ultimately get outwitted by him backtracking in the snow.

Anywhere, here is a picture of the building with a crudely drawn arrow showing my flat.

My first love and jellyfish

I’ve always heard that your first love will hit you like a wave, an overpowering swell of surging emotion that knocks you for six. My first love was a more literal version of this, just seconds after I first saw Laura I was choking on sea water and nursing a bruised head and a few moments later it got a lot worse.

When I was younger I used to go to the local sailing club. On Wednesday evenings after School I would go to nearby Sidmouth to get shouted at for pulling the wrong bit of string or yet again get blamed when a jellyfish would mysteriously get the urge to experiment with flight and end up in someone else’s boat.

That’s how I encountered Laura. A jellyfish completely on it’s own account had been swept up into the bailer I was holding (a bucket for getting water out of the boat which also doubled as a jellyfish launcher) and then through a strange mix of events was flung into a nearby boat which was full of girls.

The sudden shock appearance of a slightly angered invertebrate in the boat typically caused all sorts of amusing squealing and then if you were really lucky the girls would jump out of the boat to escape the jelly fish.

This would mean that an enterprising chap who just so happened to be nearby and who had read too many Hornblower books could board their boat. Commandeer all sorts of important nautical devices and sail off. The items would only be returned after the girls had admitted that boys were better than girls, or ideally after a kiss. Only it never worked out like that because the girls would be a bit peeved by all of this and would now be armed with a jellyfish.

It was during one of these actions when my crew of two were getting our dingy to ramming speed for a boarding that I first saw Laura. It’s hard to look sexy in a wetsuit and life jacket but when she stood up to get away from the invading jellyfish I was struck by her. She had almost jet black eyes with short brown hair in a bob and a smile that was like sun breaking over mountains. She also had a voice like a fog horn which was ideally suited for sailing.

The second thing that struck me was the boom. It’s the long wooden arm on a ship that is below the mainsail and is designed for knocking out chaps that aren’t paying attention. It hit me on the back of the head and I flew out of the boat.

I really did fly, I was standing on the edge of the boat affecting a pose that was somewhere between Royal Navy circa the Battle of Trafalgar and pirate captain from Sunday afternoon television. This look isn’t terribly stable but it is an important part of the attack and so must be adhered too.

“Wait till you see the whites of their Ey-aarghs” I said.

I wasn’t trying to sound like a pirate I just happened to be submerged head first before I could finish. Because I had been talking as I went under I landed in the water with my mouth open it was quickly filled with sea water. I can remember being upside down in the water thinking.

'Is this cool?'

I thought that as long as I could surface with some dignity I might be able to rescue this. If I can just rise up and say something witty I might be okay. So I managed to right myself and swam up. This was probably a mistake.

One of the reasons so many jellyfish had decided to become airborne was that the sea was thick with them. So when I broke through the water and tossed my head to shake off the water instead of looking like a roguish buccaneer I managed to entangle a jellyfish around my face.

If you have never been stung by a jellyfish, try to keep it that way. It felt like my face had been wrapped in a rope made out of angry bees. I violently shook my head but the jellyfish had decided that it was going to get revenges for acts that I had allegedly committed and was holding fast. It was only after I went back under water and sort of swam backwards that it finally relented and drifted away.

I floated up to the surface gingerly, checking for any more nearby jellyfish before I swam anywhere. My face stung wildly but my main concern was that I would look like the Elephant man and so I should try and get back onto my own boat and escape to shore.

Sadly I had got disoriented in the water and instead climbed half into Laura’s boat before I realised what was going wrong.

It’s nice to remember your first love, the person who first made your stomach feel strange and filled you with an urge to do silly things just to be near them. If you are lucky you can remember how you first met or if you are especially fortunate you can even recall the first words your first love said to you. I can.

"Oh my god, what happened to your face?" Were the first words Laura ever said to me.

Lifestyles of the louche and infamous

I'm still settling in which is code for half my life is still in suitcases and bags in the hallway but it is all good. Today I made my first visit to the library, In fact I'm in it right now typing away. Let me take a picture.

Right the picture you see now is almost live. Or at least it was when I typed this. I'm sat at the main table in the library but there are a good dozen others. It's a pretty large rom, I think it is a converted school hall - there is even a stage at the one end.

Behind me is a courtyard so you can take some air if you need to, it seems like a bit of a folly but since I don't have to look after it I think it is marvellous.

Let me take a picture of that too.
I took this photo near one of the windows so you can see the door from the library into the pointless courtyard.

Across the hall from the library is the residents gym which as far as I can tell is never used. Last time I poked my head around the door they were playing Phil Collins on the T.V. which is probably a warning sign. The idea of having a gym nearby is pleasant but as I can't find most of my socks, let alone anything for doing fitness related activities I think it will have to take a backseat some what while I get other more pressing matters organised.

Speaking of other matters the surrounding area is full of interestingly windy roads which would be ideal for riding motorbikes on. Perhaps Operation New Life should include finally doing my bike test and getting some road wheels?

Sunday, January 13, 2008


At last the move is complete. After what seems like weeks of shifting stuff around we have finally got everything that should be in the flat in and everything that shouldn't, out.

My move when fairly smoothly, I did a lightning style raid on my old flat and bundled up everything I owned. It only took about 45 minutes and then unloading at the other end took about the same amount of time - thanks to having lots of people around willing to carry things.

The really big move was helping my friend who has brought this flat to move in. This was a multiple stage process as we had to get items from storage, and her old place as well as swap various things out of the flat into storage (like an extremely heavy sofa bed). On Saturday I spent about 10 hours solidly moving heavy furniture so now I have forearms like Popeye.

My bedroom is very much a bed room, the bed is vast. I think it's (the bed) about the same size as my old room in West Hampstead which only had a single bed in it. I have large doors that lead onto the balcony so in the summer months I can lounge about in bed enjoying the sun and warm breezes that one is bound to encounter this far south.

The building is amazing. It's a Sir Giles Gilbert Scott design, his old architectural school I think. If you hadn't heard of the chap you would have seen his work he designed the iconic British telephone box and this building is faintly reminiscent of that. Not that it is red with only one room and smells of tramp pee but that the windows are made of lots of small panes and it has a stocky well-made appearance.

I've only explored the complex a bit, because most of the time was spent carrying something large there wasn't much of a desire to take long detours. The Library is wonderful, I think it is a converted school hall but either way it is a large quiet space with working tables and a few slightly showy books. On the first night we spent here I was so excited about having library access I couldn't sleep. What a nerd eh?

Also through the course of the weekend two new words have been invented I will share them now.

Pigwood (noun). Special wood use to make expensive items of furniture that weighs more than pigiron or lead. Can be used to describe any item that weighs far more than it is should.

Usage - 'This coat must have buttons made out of pigwood'.

Tesselload (verb) The struggle of trying to fit strange shapes objects into a van that should fit together but seem to be resisting all efforts.

Usage - 'I can't get this bloody sofa to tesselload'.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A few candid thoughts

The following post will be quite raw so if you want to read about whimsy and shoes skip this post and read the next one.

I gathered my things from the old flat now. T.P. had re-arranged the flat quite extensively which is understandable. I always re-arrange my furniture when I want to have a fresh start of things.

I had expected to go storming into the flat all angry and sort of feirce. T.P. was at work I assume (Who knows what she is doing now) so I was going to stomp around packing while grumbling to myself. It didn't turn out that way, I just felt a bit sad. Sad about how it all turned out.

If I'm being completely honest I think things moved fast with T.P. (moving in and the like) because my dad was dying, I sort of had a time scale for him to meet anyone I was dating. So because of that maybe I overlooked things I should have been more aware of.

When T.P. said she wanted to be single, I didn't fight or beg. It was fairly clear things were going bad when she said 'I've been imagining life with out you' so I knew what was coming up and I realised that if I had begged to stay with her a different life was ahead of me, one where I would have been a broken man following her around for titbits of affection.

She would get really upset every couple of months about something and it would be up to me to patch it up again. I didn't want to be stuck in that role for forever. I think T.P. hasn't dated many nice chaps, all her previous boyfriends cheated on her, or worse. So I don't know if she knew how to behave with someone who was just happy to be in her company and didn't want to hurt her.

I think we had very different ideas of what a happy relationship was and perhaps what was important in life. It's a shame it turned out like that, but I hope we have both learned something from it all.

London, pubs and laughing gas

Well the not-date last night was deeply entertaining. We went on a guided walk of the city of London, we were shown architectural curiosities, magic stones from Roman London and all sorts of weird and wonderful pubs. Yes pubs were a big part of the tour. I didn't realise how much of a big part of the tour they would be until it was too late. We drank in pubs older than America. There were even pubs that liked to pretend they were even older but as most of the centre of London was destroyed in 1666 they are typically Victoria or Edwardian fabrications.

I've taken ladies on different walking tours a few times. I think they are an excellent first date thing because they give you something to talk about and they turn London into a secret world of adventure. You walk down alleyways and lanes that you would swear didn't exist before. The tour guides are usually failed thespians so their delivery is good and while walking in between the points of interest you can make light conversation and silly remarks to each other.

After our tour had finished we went to a bar on Brick Lane for a few more drinks and had a very long conversation about feminism and the sex industry. I had to do a review of a nearby food place so we popped into it for some beigels and hard facts. Armed with our food we started walking in the vague direction of the tube but some how ended up in a huge bar with giant furniture drinking mojihtos.

Apparently some time passed and then we were in West London searching for a late night drinking venue to continue the evening, sadly they were all closed so we stumbled back to her flat instead and drank grass vodka and dark rum. After a few of these it seemed like a terribly good idea to try some laughing gas.

I'd not had much experience with the stuff but I thought I'd have a go. It was strange, you put the gas in a balloon and then breath in and out. Then your legs go all tingly and you feel awfully nice. Not laughing exactly but just rather spiffing. It was a new experience but I spent a lot of time afterwards fretting over if I was going to turn into some sort of Pete Doherty figure.

It some how ended up being 5am and since H had gone to bed long ago I was effectively homeless. The lady went on the date with said I could crash at her place, and being a bit of a formal sort I went to sleep on the sofa. Saying 'went to sleep' makes it sound a bit more formal and organised that it was, at some point I just stopped talking and fell over sideways.

It had been an awfully busy day.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sexy jumpers, mojo and curfews

I've got a thing tonight, it could be very easily described as a date, if one were to take a specific view on it.

It's certainly been planned like a date, a few interesting activities have been planned including a special tour of some hidden parts of London. A few different routes have been planned so depending on how the date is going a specific sort of bar or pub can be 'happened upon'. Late night options have even been considered - just in case we are filled with a burning need to go to some sort of ultra-cool jazz club hidden away in a side street where the door man owes me a favour.

I'm thinking about clothes as well, this person has only seen me in waistcoats which is lovely but perhaps tonight might be better served by a jumper. To show that I'm not always so formal. This jumper would dictate my choice of socks and then of course underwear. Not that I'm expecting anyone to see my underwear tonight but a chap should always be careful, and co-ordinated.

The reasons why this event tonight shouldn't really be considered a date are two-fold.

1) I'm staying at H's place on his sofa. Thus I have a curfew. My parents never gave me a time limit when I was growing up so this is something of a new experience. The curfew isn't any sort of enforced thing, it's just that H couldn't find the spare keys so I have to head back when he is still awake.

2) While Operation New Life is rattling along at a fair old pace (The Ultra-van was delivered today it's almost exactly like the A-team van) I still feel sort of transient. I hate it when people use the concept of timing when explaining why something didn't work out, you know the sort 'if only we had met a few years ago'. People who use that line should be immediately stabbed with a fork.

What I think it is I've just mislaid my mojo. Much like H with his spare keys. I'm sure it's about somewhere if I really look for it but right now it's 'missing in action' not dead, just M.I.A.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My new moleskine life

I went to go and buy a new notebook today. My last one has disappeared (which probably means it's just at the old flat) and I need to be able to take notes on things when out and about to so the time has come to invest in some new way of recording nonsense. What I didn't realise is that those nice moleskine ones with the leather covers and straps cost ten whole pounds.

If you have to spend that much on something that is just going to be filled with badly scrawled notes in spidery handwriting it jolly well aught to be the ground work for a book. It's far too much to spend on something to just fill it with pictures of winkies and skeletons How did Picasso afford to own them? Hemingway must have pimped himself out on the street to get his moleskine fix.

On the way back from getting this 'investment' I got a random email from a complete stranger saying they liked this blog. It made me all smiley which would have been fine but I was walking past a primary school and my slightly loony grin while gazing into the middle distance near the children made the teacher think I was some sort of hirsute paedophile.

Perhaps I should have shown her my new moleskine, a chap with that level of executive notebook can be of no danger to society.

Comedy clubs, dramatic rain and hair.

Last night I went to see someone else from the comedy course do her first stand up gig. She was awfully good, definitely one of the high-points of the night. The routine she did was one she had tested on the course so it was interesting to see how she had changed and tweaked it to make it better. She also looked even prettier than I remembered which was more then a little bit distracting but not to the detriment of her comedy.

The venue was tiny, only a little larger than an average sized front room and just over half the audience were people I had invited - if we hadn't gone on mass it really would have only been waiting performers and assorted hangers-on sat down watching the stand up.

I've got my own stand-up debut booked now. So I have the leg shaking terror of standing up in front of a room of strangers to try and entertain them to look forward to. Hurrah. The night was also interesting because it marked the sewing together of a few different groups of friends, they all got on splendidly and we drank a lot of booze while giggling at the acts.

As we left it was proper dramatic rain, the sort where a character in a film has a life changing experience. I suggested that we should dance about in it like the fellow in Singing in the rain but this was vetoed and we got a cab instead. It's probably for the best, while 2008 is going rather well I don't think it's quite to the level where a chap feels the need to croon in precipitation.

Since this is a week of new beginnings I'm v tempted to get a proper hair cut, while the slightly scruffy hair look has been my thing for a while perhaps it is time to tame it a little bit more aggressively so I look like a proper grown up. The hair growth started as rebellion against an old job and now that is ancient history maybe it is time to change it.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

All I want is a room somewhere

For the first time today I saw some of the details of the place I'm going to move into. Yes, it's not typically terribly wise to move into somewhere when you haven't seen a single thing about it but then I'm a risk taker like that. I live life on the edge, it's just the sort of rebel I am.

Plus the friend I'm moving in with always lives in the most ridiculously lovely flats so it didn't seem like too much of a gamble.

It's stunning, it has a balcony and doors and rooms and things and I'm sure I will like it very much. It even has a gym as part of the complex and rather strangely, a library. I've never heard of an apartment block that has a library for residents before. What sort of books will be in the library? Will it just be a slightly pretentious name for a quiet place?

If so that might be a good place to do some writing, especially for a chap who has to write an outline and first chapter of another book because a publisher emailed him before Christmas and begged him to submit something before she goes on maternity leave.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Operation New Life

The plan to start 2008 as almost an entirely new person is progressing extremely well. I've got a new flat sorted with a friend and hopefully I should move in this Friday. Moving should be a doddle as well as armies of friends have offered to help with the move.

Even better H has managed to blag some sort of turbo super van to help with the move so we will be screaming around the streets of London moving my needlessly expansive wardrobe and shoe collection to it's new home.

Friends are ace, I dread to think what would have happened if they weren't around.

The possibility of cheese

I walked past the British Museum today on the way to do some work. It was a slightly chilly morning where the sunlight had that lovely clear quality that makes everything seem extremely detailed.

It reminded me of a date, long long ago. Well not really a date, perhaps the first day as a couple with a girlfriend perhaps three or four years ago. We had met at a party, she had kissed me but I was too drunk to remember it and this caused some issues. When I finally overcame that problem we met up at a few interesting nights out and then when we were an item our first day together started at the British Museum. We walked around for a few hours looking at dead things and then strolled through London buying a range of cheeses and a scarf or two until we came to Fortnums. I got us a hamper and we took the number 22 back to Chelsea. This was in the days when you could hop on a proper routemaster anywhere you like and swish around London.

When we got back to the flat we ate while looking at the river and then, covered only in sun beams spent the rest of the day having quality time together.

That was a lovely day, and it reminded me of the nice thing about being single. The possiblity of having a day like that, and it could start at any point. You never know who is going to twist her ankle on the tube and you will just happen to have some ice cold champagne to help chill her injury (we dated for 3 months). Or who will ask you for directions and you will end up going for afternoon tea on the King's Road.

Possibilities, that's what things are about now, endless possibilities.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Steampunk Brighton

I went for a jolly long walk today, to think about things. Brighton is marvellous for walks because it has a beach to stroll along so you can look at the sea and ponder on the meaning of life and the stormy nature of relationships.

I went with a friend and we talked about fashion and how top hats and canes should be on the return and how there is something pleasing about cast iron in a way that is hard to define. More things should be made out of cast iron and copper piping. Brighton has echos of it's steampunk past, some of which are sadly discarded I think it should return to it's roots.

I must say I'm very taken with Brighton but I think I'm not finished with London yet. There are a few more things I need to do first. A few more adventures to have. I think that is what 2008 is going to be more me, the year of adventures.

Proper adventures, ones that become much loved anecdotes that are brought out on special occasions. Events that transform into mild urban legends so that when you meet someone new they say 'Oh, you're that Louche, the one who did the thing'.

That hasn't happened to me in a while and I think it's time for it to return.

Friday, January 04, 2008


It looks like my tramping period may be drawing to an end. A very good friend who I lived with briefly last year just called and said she is desperately looking for a flatmate!

This news made me dance with joy, I mean really dance. I did a jig and everything. The flat is in Putney but I'm sure with a bit of practice I can learn to turn my shirt collars up and tuck rugby shirts into my jeans.

More than that I'm really looking forward to moving in with this friend, she is a lovely girl and we get on really well.

Gosh I'm so excited, it's silly. This really would be landing on my feet.

A tincture of laudanum helps the medicine go down

Being a homeless person is interesting. For a start as a person of currently no fixed abode sending out invoices for cheques is a bit tricky. Where would the cheque be sent? This is something that can be overcome with a bit of work - various people have already offered to be a postal address until I find a new place - but it's still a bit well, galling.

I think that tough times improve you, so any hardship is a valuable life lesson and to be fair I'm being homeless in quite a pleasant way. I've got a whole queue of people with willing sofa's to be used and so I'm almost doing a Grand Tour of the country. One where clean socks are treasured and maybe it might have been wise to pack slightly fewer waistcoats and slightly more underwear.

Now I have to furiously find one more person to inteview for a piece about property. Yes I'm writing about housing when I'm homeless.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Tenuious links and French radio

I've been encountering French radio today. Brighton being, well Brighton has a sort of booster station so you can listen to quirky French songs while trying to squeeze out words onto a computer.

The chaps singing clearly had experienced some rough times but they were jolly upbeat about it all and well with those plucky accordions wheezing on it just seemed like maybe a chap who has been feeling a bit down about stuff should buck up his ideas a bit and say yes to drinks with people because a drink is just a drink and a chance to show off his new velvet suit should the venue be suitable.

This drink will be happening because of a strange mix of events, due to social social networking websites. Almost everyone is on them, this means if you met someone entertaining at a club a few weeks ago and you didn't give them anyway of contacting you because you were seeing someone and it was serious. And even exchanging numbers with this new person would have just seemed like not the conduct of a gentlemen. These new websites mean chance encounters can find you again, and now that you are single well you could go for a drink and that would be nice.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


I've not had more then three hours sleep for, um four days now. I am starting to see strange things. I can't take this pace of misadventure. It's even starting to affect my baking ability, so I know it's serious.

I'm having fun, don't get me wrong. But right now I'd probably swap a pair of spatz for a just nine hours of unbroken sleep.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Eve

This is going to have to be a limited update as I've got to dash out again so I will just cover the basics and then do a longer version later (possibly).

Brighton was marvellous The Feminists live in an amazing flat full of strange and wonderful people who are a delight to be around. On the eve of the new year we made a huge meal including my special spicy bean stew and freshly made bread rolls then went out to a range of house parties before ending in a crowded house near the sea front to see in the new year. The chap in charge of the music put on the Final countdown by Europe at the appropriate time and everyone went suitably bananas when the clock struck. People also went bananas for my new suit, but that's really understandable, it is marvellous.

Anyway after lots of congratulating each other and hugging and me making a silent toast to my dad when no-one was looking we ambled on to a club. At about 4am I started to flag a bit so made my way back home to crash out in a room. The rest of the group were still going, but they had taken massive amounts of performance enhancing drugs so were whizzing around and gurning furiously while stamping their feet to the music.

The party moved back to the flat and so I sort of dozed in a room while a crazy house party went on. There is something very pleasant about hearing all the gigging and things while you drift about on the edge of sleep. After a few hours kip I rejoined the party and made everyone cookies to have with their morning cups of tea. People were still arriving at the party at 11am, ready for more fun.

At about mid-day I scampered off to meet an old friend I hadn't seen for five years and to go for a refreshing New Year's Day walk on the Devil's Dyke to catch up. It was lovely to see her again and talk about all sorts of nonsense. Mean while The Feminists took more drugs then went to a club. After my walk I returned to the flat but no-one was there so I met the crew in a club like something out of Blade Runner to pick up some keys so I could get at my laptop.

One of the work people had frantically called chasing up a couple of details and wanted to start the New Year with a 'can-do' attitude I needed to get at my computer to do some stuff. So I picked up the keys and also an extremely drunk man who I herded back to the flat - carrying him for the last few roads - to deposit him on a bed in one of the rooms and then after a brief shower I dived into work.

Now I'm going to meet some other Brighton friends for a quick coke (I really couldn't face a drink right now) and then I'm going to try and get more than three hours sleep because my visions going a bit funny and as hard core as I like to think I am I don't know if I can keep up with these loonies, especially considering they are cheating.