Wednesday, March 31, 2004

That old black magic called lust

Pulled on my way back from the Doctor's today, by complete accident.

Was just shuffling along, staring vacantly into the middle-distance, when all of a sudden a pair of Great Arms came zinging into sharp focus. Coming the other way was a terribly well presented skinhead, all muscle, dragging along a whimpering pitbull.

He was glaring back at me. With friendly menace.

But... alas, I was heading back for work, his flat was probably all horrid wallpaper, and I hate dogs.

Still, it was a strangely cheering moment.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Illness update

Today I learned some interesting things. First of all, glad I didn't have full proper, or grown-up meningitis. Just a weird version someone got off a market stall.

Brilliantly, managed to finally speak to a Doctor at my local practice. To try and get an appointment before mid-April.

She was great, and bizarrely chatty - especially as illnesses are such tedious things.

But here are some great new things that she told me - The bizarrely horrible headaches I've been having aren't a sign that I'm still ill, merely that a lot of damaged brain tissue is healing. I should also be prepared for memory loss, lack of concentration, irritability, depression, and anxiety. And impairment of certain faculties.

This goes to explain why I can't remember how to make a webpage, can't balance properly, and am wandering around in a permanent state of anxious misery. Well, there are other reasons for the latter (which, I doubt I'm allowed to talk about) - but I'm certainly not coping with them well. Or... well, at all.

More can be found at BBC Health
Meningitis Recovery.

GOOD NEWS OF THE DAY: Now I know why I miss my happy pills so much. They were opiates.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Breakfast for the despondent

To give you an idea of the mood I'm in at the moment, my idea of a good breakfast is stale wine and anti-histamines.
Gives you a lovely artificial glow that lets you cope with at least the first two hours of the day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

My hard stare must be working

Bendy buses have started bursting into flames.

BBC news

Monday, March 22, 2004

The Guardian

Have spent a happy week reading The Guardian. Mostly the features section, but occasionally the actual, real news for grown ups. Although, just as reading the Telegraph news section makes you shudder with contempt for bigotry, the caring agenda of the Guardian does get a little wearing after a week. The whole attitude was neatly summed up by a charity insert which fell out onto the floor. It just said in block caps:

The main joys I’ve learned are as follows.

The letters page has had a healthy, and, at times, worryingly well-informed correspondence over whether or not Sedna should really be called Mondas.

Apparently, George Bush’s 2004 re-election website had lovely posters that you could generate your own slogan for. According to the website, popular DIY “VOTE BUSH” posters included: “Prepare to die”, “Look out Syria”, “But not if you’re gay”, “Baby Jesus cries if you don’t vote Bush-Cheney 2004”, “Vote Ironically”. Then, apparently, the server got overloaded, and started sending people pages they hadn’t asked for. So, one woman who’d created an obscene slogan received “Sportsmen for Bush”, and is left wondering who ended up with her filthy version.

A wonderful review of Busted in concert by Alexis Petridis (nagging feeling he used to write for the Oxford Student when I was there. It’s a very familiar name, coming complete with that little stab of “he’s a success, you’re a failure” recognition). “They have attracted fans so young they make your average Westlife screamer look grizzled,” Petridis writes. “Next to me, two tiny girls start pinching and punching each other.”

“Singer Charlie Simpson signifies angst by clutching his head and narrowing his eyes. According to the gossips, Simpsons’ suffering is real. He also fronts a serious band, Flightstar, namechecks the Smashing Pumpkins in the tour programme (they apparently have “an amazing muff which helps them make very interesting sounds) and is allegedly tired of being a kindergarten pin-up.

“His behaviour on stage certainly sends out subtle messages regarding his future. He sings a solo number. He plays a guitar solo. He appears behind a drum kit and plays a solo on that too. You wonder which instrument he will favour next. The tuba? The church organ? Perhaps they’ll bring on an amazing big muff and he can make some very interesting sounds.”

Killer Karate Granny

The Mrs Pollifax novels of Dorothy Gilman are so much better than they ought to be. There’s such a danger that they’d be twee. You only have to look at the crime section of an American bookshop to see the danger.

There are rack after rack of brightly jacketed crime series, each one billeted as “A [STRIKING NAME] MYSTERY”. Each one formulaicly unique, with it’s one-joke gimmick stretched out to a series of 27 mysteries with catchy titles, enthusiasm from the Washington Post, and very little between the glossy covers. There are Archaeologist detectives, Academic detectives, Hardboiled cops, Softboiled cops, Lesbian Pathologists, Gay dicks, and Cat detectives. And none of them are any better than they need to be.

So, you’d imagine that the Mrs Pollifax novels would be comfortably competent. After all – they’ve got a great central concept that needs little development. Mrs Pollifax, you see, is a granny who spies for the CIA, and, very occasionally, kills for them too.

Each book sees her summoned from her prize geraniums to undertake a purely routine courier mission that invariably goes wrong and involves her in guns, subterfuge, and hair-raising adventure against devious villains.

You can see the danger here, can’t you? Especially when I tell you that a Mrs Pollifax TV movie starred Angela Lansbury.

And yet the books are marvellous. True, they are comfort fodder – you’re spared from grisly 24-style torture scenes where Mrs Pollifax is gouged with DIY tools, or runs rampant in a mosque with a machete – but that doesn’t mean the books aren’t dark, and have a wonderful current of black comedy skipping nimbly through them.

When we first meet Mrs P, she is standing on her rooftop, among her prize geraniums, planning suicide. She’s widowed, she’s led a quiet life, her children are settled, and ahead of her is a lonely retirement of garden club gossip and decaffeinated tea. Suddenly, she has a flash of inspiration, and applies to the CIA to be a spy.

Of course, they laugh her out of the office… until a job comes up that needs an innocent courier to carry papers to a spy. A simple job that needs someone who looks absolutely unlike a spy. So Mrs P is summoned back, and sent off with a nice new hat. Naturally it all goes wrong…

And, within pages we’re hooked. I knew I adored Dorothy Gilman’s writing as soon as we got halfway through. So far, it had had it’s moments, but there was always that slight, nagging danger of it being no better than itself. Then Mrs P is discovered, captured, and she and her fellow spy are interrogated and tortured. And then, there is the most lovely scene where Mrs P is dragged into the torture chamber to face the ruthless new interrogator. The two eyeball each other, and Mrs P neatly, precisely settles, herself down in the rough chair with manacles, folds her hands, cocks her head on one side, and explains that she won’t talk, the next hour will be a waste of everyone’s time, and she’d far rather spend the time trying to sort out her interrogator’s quite obvious back trouble.

The fact that she later ends up shooting him doesn’t detract from her iron charm. She’s how Miss Marple would be if she ever put down her knitting, got off her arse and did something.

By about the sixth book (Mrs Pollifax On The China Station), there’s a formula going – always nearly too comfortable, but always redeemed by Gilman’s astute eye for character and dialogue. It’s a book of torture, death camps, betrayal and KGB double-cross, but it’s also about a holiday tour through China, with sight-seeing, romance, and poisoned raisins.

By the end, we’ve had a lot of grimness, a fair amount of horror, and Mrs P using her karate brown belt to deadly effect. We see Mrs P, broken, bandaged, and miserably alone, dragged into the office of the local head of the Chinese Secret Police at dawn. He tells her how much he admires her, how much she reminds him of his first wife (who he watched being tortured), and how he’s on to her. And she realises it’s not worth pretending to be a sweet old lady tourist any more, and the two of them settle down to have a quite remarkable, gently moving talk.

We also get to learn Mrs P’s quite remarkable maxim on life. Dorothy Parker was fired from Hollywood after telling a studio head “In all of human history, no one has ever had a happy ending.” We learn that Mrs P has her own take on these sentiments; “There are no happy endings. Only happy people.”

The DuMauriers

One of the books I’ve been reading is a history of the Du Maurier family, by Daphne Du Maurier, who wrote Rebecca, some books about Cornish grudges, and the bonkers time travel saga A House On The Strand.

The Du Mauriers is a marvellous book – terribly ahead of it’s time in that it’s novelised history (the kind of thing the 1980s thought they’d invented). It’s gripping, and upsetting and startlingly vivid, as she explains how her family evolved from the bastard offspring of a Duke’s prostitute and some penniless French nobles. It has everything – pettiness, insanity, and a wife whose husband leaves her on their wedding night while shaving.

One of the only disadvantages to this marvellous book is that Daphne insists on referring to household members by their childhood nicknames. So, George DuMaurier, artist, writer, and the inventor of the “Svengali” is referred to throughout as… Kicky.

Recovery Position

The last fornight has passed in a blurry haze, really. There’s been some food, some napping (I’ll miss my post-breakfast nap), and a lot of feebleness. Frankly, making it to the shops on my own is a struggle.

There’s been very little shaving (the whole idea of standing upright for long enough is just daft), so I’ve got to discover what I’d look like with a Really Big Beard (kinda old and mad).

There’s been a lot of… well, tiredness and other stuff. Thanks to my mum, my appetite’s back. Unfortunately, I’m now busily fighting off a whole host of other weird little attendant infections (a killer sore-throat from all that vomiting, lumps, bumps, and, oh my, chilblains). I guess, with my immune system down, there’s bugger all I can do except sit down, shiver, and steer clear of anyone with the sniffles.

Another weird side-effect is a lack of balance. Walking’s weird, standing still is weirder, and lordie knows when I’ll be able to ride my bike again.

I also get easily confused. Multi-tasking is beyond me, and quite often I’ll just go all quiet, or start mumbling confusedly like a pensioner. I’ve decided I like small shops with not too many people. The big ones just baffle me and I start staring at nappies, socks and Atomic Kitten VHSes.

However, I’m sure I’m better. There’s still nausea, but thankfully no vomiting, and I’m no longer agonisingly allergic to daylight (but I still look like I’ve given up sleeping and taken up boxing and cocaine). I guess I’ll have to get used to my slightly bloodshot, slightly startled panda expression.

The Archers

Even the gays in the Archers are getting more action than me at the moment. I can barely lift my laptop, let alone [insert lengthy pun here].

Saturday, March 20, 2004


The nicest thing about the whole experience (apart from magic tremedol painkilling pills) was my friends.

Not only did ML come round every evening with gossip, but Sam and Kate turned up in hospital, Rick left work to see me, Lee gracefully admitted that my meningitis outranked his jetlag, Gemma and Serge came round on Gemma’s 30th birthday (with yoghurt and bog-roll), and my other Kate turned up on the Saturday evening and gave me soup. Plus work sent a really lovely card, and very kindly left me alone.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


On the Tuesday, they discharged me. It was an odd experience. The night before I’d been told by Dr Lovely (a remarkably well-presented Doctor called Euan) that it was “a viral meningitis” and that my “meninges” were definitely swollen. He managed to say “meninges” without smirking, and I loved him all the more. He said he’d do his best to send me home to rest for a week or two the next day.

The next day Dr Lovely returned with the consultant. Who told me it wasn’t meningitis, just “a viral infection” and that I should really retest for AIDS as I had no white blood cells. I decided I hated the consultant then and there.

I walked home from the hospital. Frankly, felt too weak and weird to be bothered with calling a taxi, and the cold fresh air seemed nice. Of course, by the time I got home I was talking to myself. And not coherently.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Things are heaving up

On the Monday, my body started to react to the antibiotics. Nausea arrived – but, as I hadn’t eaten anything much for days, it was more hobby vomiting.

It was irritating, as I had been feeling much better – I was even able to read, watch TV, or look at daylight without screaming.

But, instead, I spent a good hour retching nothing into a plastic bag.

Eventually, my stomach found some rather nice fruit juice, and helpfully brought that up. Once I started, I couldn’t stop.

The hospital cleaner came in, to find me vomiting into my little bag. We both waved and nodded. She pushed a button, and my bed, me, my plastic bag and my stomach contents all rose neatly to the ceiling. Then she swept under the bed, pushed another button, and left the room as we all gracefully descended back to the floor.

Eventually, they gave me a pill to stop the vomiting. I threw it up. They gave me an injection, and I suddenly fell asleep.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Night on the ward

I was increasingly glad I was in my own room. I was getting used to other patients wander in, though. I’d already had a man fling open my door and march in to use my loo and shower – with dressing gown on, towel and toiletry bag on his arm. He wasn’t happy to see me. Nor was the man in weird orange pyjamas who pushed open the door, shuffled in, glared at me and yelled “What the Fuck?” before shuffling away.

I could hear conversations – there was a man on the ward going onto a methadone programme, and two cheery cockneys ™ determined to be the life and soul of the ward with their larger-than-life personalities TM. In other words they were rude, irritating, and strangely nasty. Sample line: “Oi! Nursey! Nursey! Your food’s shit!”

They had a point about the food. It was bizarre. But their outright rejection of it made me determined to eat my plate of “barbecue pork”. I wish I hadn’t. It gave me the shits.

Night was worse. One old man started whimpering and shouting in his sleep – “No Tom, no! She’s all right!” and “Keep them away! I’ll hurt them.”

The response on the ward to these shouted inner demons was not kind: “Oi, Grandad! Hurry up and fucking die!”

Then, in the middle of the night, someone unhooked his bed from the machines and wheeled him out into the corridor.

The next day, most of the ward were sent home or moved elsewhere as punishment. Except for the Irish Guy they’d lost. He’d last been heard of at six o clock, when he’d switched on all the lights, announced he’d been having visions, and then left.

When they hadn’t found him after six hours, they called the police. He’d only been wearing a surgical gown.

This is spinal tap

The next day I wake up surrounded by Doctors. In between there have been nurses, temperatures, and injections… but mostly blissful sleep. I love Doctor Sarah and I love Codeine.

A consultant is there, as is Doctor Sarah. I wave at her, and tell her how lovely sleep is and how sorry I am she’s not had any.

“Nonsense,” says the consultant, “Sarah’s had a rest period too. We wouldn’t keep her up all through the night.”

Sarah smiles weakly.

“You’re just saying that,” I tell the Doctor.

“Actually,” says Sarah, “I haven’t been to sleep.”

“Really?” mutters the consultant. He shines a light into my eyes, hammers at my useless legs, and then takes my temperature.

He and Sarah look at each other, and then start to talk about me as though I’m not there. Apparently, he has all the symptoms. The brain scans were clear. But he will have to undergo further tests. He’ll have a lumber puncture later.

“Lumber puncture?”

“Don’t worry – it’s nowhere near as bad as it sounds. We just inject an anaesthetic into your back, then remove clear fluid from your spine. It’s fine.”

His mobile goes off, with cheery classical music.

I thank Sarah for her Codeine, and ask her if I can have some more. I’m promised some after the lumber puncture.

The lumber puncture is not pleasant. Two doctors turn up – one to supervise, and the other to learn the technique. UCL is a teaching hospital.

The experienced Doctor stands back while young Doctor Rachel works her magic. I feel the needle slide under my skin and start to slide across my back. It’s an unusual sensation… which starts off by stinging and then burning and then… well, then I start to scream.

After five minutes, it’s over. Sobbing gently, I thank them for making it that quick.

There’s an awkward moment as they explain that that was just the anaesthetic. Then there follows a discussion between the two of them about what kind of needle to use for the actual puncture. It’s alarming.

Typical phrase: “No no no. The orange ones are better. They’re longer and wider – you get much better draw.”

I start to cry in fear.

The actual procedure is far, far worse than the anaesthetic. I could feel the needle pushing against what felt like bone, and then, after a build up of pressure, a strange, awful scraping – as though someone was trying to drag a needle around inside a bone. Odd that.

I screamed and screamed, and then sobbed for a quarter of an hour after they were gone.

As they left, they showed me the sticky, clear fluid they’d taken. And the older doctor explained that they often do it under general anaesthetic.

There was a spot of blood on the floor. For the next two days, as I wheeled past it, I was aware that it was from my spine. This chilled me.

In the evening, I managed to phone my flatmate. There wasn’t a working payphone in the hospital, and the hospital phones could only call London numbers. So, I couldn’t tell my parents (a good thing. Still couldn’t work out a way of not worrying them), and I couldn’t tell my lovely friend Sam that I was missing her dinner party for Good Reasons.

Anyway, I got through to my flatmate. I apologised for the mess in the living room. “It’s alright,” she said, “I assumed you’d met a boy. You still there?”

She was round within half an hour, with a bag of books and jelly babies. She told me cheery nonsense about girls’ netball and gave me my mobile phone.

Before I went to bed, Doctor Rachel came back. My spinal fluid was clear – there was every chance that this wasn’t bacterial meningitis, merely viral meningitis, or a related infection. Whatever, this was apparently good news. It meant I could be out of hospital in under a week.

Saturday, March 06, 2004


(This may explain why I've not updated for two weeks:)

It began with the suspicion that the office’s eccentric central heating was giving a performance. One minute I’d be sat at my desk, sweating into a t-shirt. A quarter of an hour later, I’d be shivering, wrapped up in jumpers, jacket and a spare fleece.

It was also painfully bright, and strangely hard to operate the mouse with no feeling in the fingers of my right hand.

I felt worse when I got home, peeling off layer after layer of sweat soaked clothing.

I went to bed at eight thirty, and passed the night in weird, painful dreams, about emails suddenly becoming physical objects, the size of postage stamps – little exploding piles of patchwork spilling over desks, shouting across carpets. It was a terrible, compelling dream… and it hurt, strangely behind the eyes.

I spent some of the night sleeping on the living room floor where it was cold.

On the Saturday, I was supposed to be meeting a nice man called Matt in Bath. I knew I wasn’t going to make the train, and would phone him before he got to the station. I lay there, trying to make it to the phone. It rang. It was Matt – it was one in the afternoon, and he wanted to know why I wasn’t at the station. “I have a pain behind my eyes,” I told him.

I left the flat, buying jelly babies and fruit juice. I took painkillers – a lot of them. None of them worked – not even Migraleve (which normally puts me into a blissful doze). It was the early afternoon.

Then it was night.

I was still lying on the living room floor. In the dark. I pulled down the blinds, as the streetlamps hurt my eyes.

Then I phoned NHS Direct, using my left hand as my right hand couldn’t quite dial the numbers. I mumbled to a nice operator that I had a strange pain behind my eyes and I wanted it to stop.

When the ambulance arrived, I shuffled out of the darkened flat, stuffing sweets and a book in my pocket.

The ambulance men took me through my symptoms. I slurred that I had an occasional fever, and a terrible pain behind my eyes. They turned down the lights in the ambulance.

At the hospital, a triage nurse looked at me. I told her about the terrible pain behind my eyes and my hatred of light. She smiled. And sent me to sit in a floodlit waiting room for two hours.

I lay in the waiting room, my jacket wrapped around my head to block out the light until a security guard asked me to stop sleeping and threatened to eject me unless I took to jacket from off my head. I mumbled – I told him I wasn’t asleep – there was this terrible pain behind my eyes.

Eventually another nurse saw me. I told her about the terrible pain behind my eyes. She shrugged. “You came to Casualty with a headache? Couldn’t you have waited to see your GP?”

I slurred that I couldn’t move, and the pain was… extraordinary.

“Well, you seem fine now,” she said, taking my blood pressure roughly. I felt a miserable failure – surely I couldn’t be imagining this pain?

Then she took my temperature.

She started shouting to people I couldn’t see. Then I was rushed in a wheelchair into a cubicle.

A blond male nurse flicked in, whistling Blondie. “Hi, I’m Wes,” he said, “And you’ve got a temperature of 40.” He seemed impressed, and stuck a drip into my arm, messily.

I asked him what a temperature of 40 meant. “Should be 36.9. When it gets to 42 you tend to die. Good effort.”

He gave me paracetomol and ibuprofen. I explained that this wouldn’t help the terrible pain behind my eyes. “It’ll help the fever, mate.”

I lay there, whimpering for a while, listening to the sounds of people having their stomach pumped.

In a nearby cubicle, a homeless man had had a heartattack and his hostel manager was with him. “I suppose you’ve missed the BBC film you wanted to see?” mumbled the man.

“Don’t apologise. I’ve only been looking forward to it for two weeks. There’s no need for an apology.” Said the manager.

In the next door bed, an old Indian man was refusing to go home, shouting as a nurse tried to explain to him how to use his catheter. “Now, don’t shout at me in a foreign language,” said the nurse, doing glacial Irish charm, “You were quite fluent until I told you you were being discharged. It won’t work.”

He stayed there, ranting at a succession of nurses, until security wheeled him away.

He was replaced by a man who’d been eating at a fine restaurant. In between vomiting into a bucket, he mouthed at the woman with him “It was the food, the food, not the whisky.”

“He’s had eight whiskies,” said the woman to the nurse.

“Are you his wife?” asked the nurse.

“No,” said the woman politely. “She’s been called.”

Over the way from me, a young woman finished her birthday celebrations with a stomach pump. As her best friend looked on and tried to seem sober, the homeless man shouted across at her, “I wish the nurses looked like you. I said, I wish the nurses looked like you. I’m paying you a compliment.”

“Thanks,” said the woman.

“He’s trying to be friendly,” explained the hostel manager.

“Don’t worry, Martin. It’s the BBC. They’ll repeat it.” Said the homeless man.

And, all this while, I was experimenting with moaning quietly. It felt good. I was lying there, under an examining lamp, the light burning and burning into me. I started to cry.

A Doctor came to see me. She told me my fever was no better. I told her about the pain behind my eyes. “A headache, eh? Well, we’ve given you paracetomol.”

The drunks came and went with the splashing of buckets.

Another Doctor came to see me. She took my temperature. I grabbed her arm. “Please, stop the pain.” I was croaking, with my tongue dry and useless.

She looked at my paperwork. Amazing how much I’d acquired in such a short time. “What pain? I’m treating you for fever,” she explained.

“Behind my eyes. The light hurts. They gave me paracetomol and 400 mg of ibuprofen for the fever but I said it wouldn’t work. I need something for the pain behind my eyes. Nothing works. I’ve taken migraleve.”

“Is it a migraine?” she asked, her tone suddenly five per-cent harsher. “Do you have them often?”

“No. I used to have them. I know what they’re like. This isn’t a migraine. Please, it hurts so much. That’s why I came here. Not for the fever.”

She leaned forward and then moved away. “I’m going to do some tests,” she said, slowly, “But first, I’m going to turn off the light.”

The overhead light snaps off, and it’s like being bathed with cold, wet towels. Everything feels so lovely. Momentarily. And then the pain’s back. But not as bad.

The Doctor (Sarah) comes back with a rubber hammer. She tests my reflexes, thumping away on my knees. Amazingly, my legs don’t respond. She thumps away some more. No response. More tests follow. I don’t appear to be able to be wholly in my body.

Then she shines a little pencil light in my eyes. She apologises before she does it, but the feeling is still unusual. When my eyes clear, she’s leaning over me, one hand on my forehead, tenderly.
“I think you may have meningitis.” She says. “Would you like me to call someone?”

Instead, and for no good reason, I start to cry. There aren’t any tears.

We decide not to call anyone – it is now four in the morning. Trying not to worry my parents at that hour isn’t possible.

Sarah gives me codeine. I decide I love her.

There’s a brief fuzzy interlude. They’ve found me a bed. A practical woman turns up with it. I’m wheeled through corridors, bright lights burning over my head.

I’m in a room on a ward somewhere. There are pictures of happy farm animals. Then I’m wheeled away for a CT scan. I’m barely aware of it… maybe asleep… maybe unconscious. Everything feels distant, until a doctor explains that they’re putting a colouring solution into my bloodstream and I may feel a slight warming sensation.

Suddenly, my entire body washes warm and fuzzy and I fall asleep giggling in the brain scanner.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Brainstorming II

Having ranted about Brainstorming at some length, I've been receiving weird and confessions.

Apparently, one manager had to mime being a volleyball net.

Never ordering in again

You know how every now and then you order something from, forget about it, and it turns up on your doorstep as a pleasant surprise?

Well, last night I managed to do that with Gaydar.

I'd pretty much forgotten making vague (and obviously drunken) plans to secure the favours of (goodness me) hardbody81, but there he was.

All of a sudden, there was a text message saying "on my way", and I was hastily shoving aside my salad in preparation for incoming boy.

And then the phone rang - and, after three long months, the lovely Australian Byron rang to say "Are you free tonight?".

Why now? Why tonight of all nights? When tall, handsome, 26 year old hardbody81 was hurtling over towards me from London's Covent Garden?

I told Byron I was busy, and then the doorbell rang.

I dashed out to meet the man - only to discover that he was a good ten years older and had the most ridiculous comb-over imaginable. A combover so ridiculous and weird that he was obviously unaware of it's mirthful qualities. I mean, no one would consciously go through life wearing a fey conrish pasty. Would they?

And yet he had managed to crop the wavy wonder out of all of his pictures. Hmmn.

This is, of course, why I order in from gaydar so rarely. Even in his bad old days, dear Lee only ever used to do it pissed, and I did it as a distraction from watching Deep Space Nine.

Gaydar is such an interesting idea, full of possibilities and potential... but also such a classic demonstration of the flaws of digital photography and photoshop. It's so often the case that what you assumed was a slight flaw in the over-compressed JPEG really does turn out to be their nose.


So anyway, I quickly phoned Byron who drove round from Greenwich.

Byron's an uncomplicated soul - he adores extreme sports, extreme drugs and extreme men. One day, I'll find out what he does for a living, but I never really get the chance.

I did manage to find out that he's going out with a rich model from Finland. They've been going out for three months, and last night was honestly the first time Byron had cheated on him.

The two of us sat there sucking silk cut ultra and musing over whether or not that was an achievement.

School of Rock

Went to see this with the lovely, cultured Ben. He's writing a biography of Orson Welles, and knows the difference between Sashimi and Sushi.

The film itself is a *lot* better than you'd expect - mainly cos it's written by the man behind the unsettling Chuck and Buck. It's an equally squirmy film. And yet, it's also like Sister Act. It's a finely tuned balance.

And, as it's that edgy, features a very gay 10 year old stylist.

The thing, however, that troubled Ben and me was Freddy, the drummer. He was... well... Anyway, both of us found ourselves standing outside the cinema wracked with middle-class gay angst.

Our problem was this: How do you describe a handsome 10 year old without sounding like a paedo?

You see? You shuddered a bit reading that last sentence.

It's a weird issue. Neither of us actually fancied him - we were just both aware that in about eight years time he'd be really rather something. And both of us found ourselves squirming over our premature gaydar firing off. Pretty pre-teens are like pretty Tory MPs - not something you want to be aware of.

We eventually settled on the phrase: "One day, that boy's going to break a lot of hearts."


In a similar vein, Ann's boyfriend described Germaine Greer's "THE BOY" as "Ginny's wank book".

Tuesday, March 02, 2004


I spent some of this morning doing a voiceover for our department's corporate video.

Apparently, soothing regional tones are out, and slightly mocking posh is in. Hurrah for me.

Suddenly discovered why actors can be so insecure - it's strangely isolating sitting alone in a sound booth trying to work out whether you've over-inflected, under-enthused, or stumbled on a key point.

On the other hand, it's also enormously flattering.