Monday, October 31, 2005

Strangers on a Train

So, we got on the train carriage.

"Look! Gays!" yelled a voice. Then a plastic bottle hit someone in a face.

Yes, this is South London. Where small children run riot on trains because Ritalin hasn't made it over the border.

There were three of them, the oldest barely twelve. There were eight of us. When they weren't bouncing up and down and smashing seats, they were screaming names at us. Which was quite unfair - our party actually included two straight men and a nicely dressed lady. Perhaps they thought we were gay simply because we weren't wearing tracksuits.

In a way, it was faintly harmless. It was doubtful they'd actually manage to tear a seat out of the floor and hurl it at us, so they stuck with names they'd picked up from that delightful Afro-Carribbean music I've heard to much about.

"Battyboys! Battyboys!" they screamed.

"We prefer gay!" we yelled back.

"Har! Har! You suck cock!" they shouted.

"Well, yes." We were a bit bored now.

"You fuck the arse too!" they roared.


"You got AIDS!"

"No. But we do have iPods."

That was about all they knew about the gays. So they just jeered "Battyboy" and threw empty cups in our direction.

Richard, who I believe was Mr Gay Muscle 2003, wanted to do something about it. But luckily, John was a lawyer. "You can't actually touch them."

But we could criticise their clothes.

"Oi! Battyboy!" they'd scream.

"Oi! Matalan!" we'd yell back.

Eventually they got off the train, trying to spit through the window.

"Write to us from prison!" we waved. Where no doubt they'll learn all sorts of jolly facts about anal sex. Hopefully at the end of a razor.

Weekend Highlight

Wrestling on a floor, dressed up as Joan Collins.

Physical Jerks

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see a woman doing squat thrusts at her desk. Whilst video editing.

UPDATE: She is now doing abdominal exercises, so I keep being distracted by a pair of legs flying through the air.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


The BBC has launched a new site about how accessible their site is for visual and hearing impaired people.

It's the only page on *without* a text only link.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Midweek: One week after the fall

Libby Purves trailed this week's show with: "Live Dangerously. Listen to Midweek"


And, if you're wondering why I'm only really talking about Radio Four at the moment... Well, it's partly that not much else is happening, and partly because what's going on at work is complicated and not easily repeated. But I miss Cardiff.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Radio 4

Meanwhile, in the Archers, Clarry Grundy was quite literally crying over spilt milk.

And, on Broadcasting House, Fi Glover had a Plant Photographer on standby, just in case...

Friday, October 21, 2005


This morning I popped a note through my new neighbours' letter box.

"Morning! Would you mind moving the bed away from the wall a bit?"

Honestly, it was like listening to an angry lion trampolining.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Gomorrah with Libby Purves

Midweek is the most comforting programme, the radio equivalent of a cup of chicken soup and a lapful of kittens.

So, what were they thinking when they invited in both Joan Rivers and Darcus Howe?

Darcus had come on to mutter about his latest film, covering his complicated relationship with his son. He was complaining that the director kept on showing people who didn't understand him. Like his first wife. Who said he abandoned their children.

"No white person has ever understood me. Not even her. I say to her why don't you go join the BNP or something?"

At this point, Joan Rivers sighed, "I'm bored with race."

Darcus bristled. Unusually. "You're entitled to be bored with race. I am not."

Oddly, Joan "my parents fled Hitler and Stalin" Rivers just took that.

However, Darcus carried on. Big mistake. "Since 'black' offends Joan-"


"How dare you! How dare you!" she began. "Son of a bitch!" she continued, explaining that perhaps Darcus's relationship with his children would be better if he'd not kept on abandoning their mothers.

Tables were banged. Microphones thudded. Would it be too much for Libby Purves, the glowing Mum of radio?

LIBBY: I really think you should- now... come on you too... Perhaps... Darcus, you'd like to say that you didn't call Joan a racist. And then...

JOAN: That's right. Go on. And then you can talk some more about your stupid film.

LIBBY: Yes, Darcus, let's talk some more about your stu- film.

DARCUS: I don't want to say any more.

JOAN: Quite right.

LIBBY: Then, Joan, let's talk about you.

JOAN: I'm too upset.

LIBBY: Then let's turn to Andrea, and talk about Plant Photography...

Oddly, the other guest on the programme was Jackie Collins, normally a bit spicy for radio. But not today.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Hang the DJ

Men in Dinner Jackets become strange at 2am. They roar, stampede and rampage through a hotel bar like randy cattle, with dangling cumerbunds, loose ties and wandering hands.

I had my bum pinched twice by strangers. I was invited to get into a fight. Someone offered to arm wrestle me for one of my cigarettes. Someone else kept on trying to force money into my hand.

The women meanwhile sailed through like nervous galleons, still looking amazing, but with hair gradually getting lower.

Anyway, I left the Holland House at 2am, before it sank into the ground. And, if I lingered any longer, I'd have had to help carry an orchid into a taxi.

Biking home drunk and wearing a DJ was going very well... until I passed a gay club. What, after all, could be the harm in a quick last drink when I looked so fine?

I left, 10 minutes later, having met Francis, a fashion stylist for Marie Claire, on a trip to find industrial wasteland to shoot shoes in. He was staying in the hotel I'd just left.

He was as mad as anyone who works in fashion. His room was a disaster of clothes, magazines, and expensive moisturiser. Although 29, he was addicted to botox, drinking and shopping.

His grasp of conversation was erratic. "So, you work for the media? Hmmn. What do you think of the Kate Moss thing? I love her, but she's dressing so severely now. Do you really think that tweed is coming back? They keep saying that about the 80s. I got my underwear on ebay - it's vintage 70s addidas, but I wear it over a sixty quid prada thong - isn't that just mad? Anyway, did you ever see Fashion TV? They used to have catwalk shows on a loop. I loved it, but it's gone now. This music is from a catwalk show from a Swedish designer. They say that that Swedes are the new Germans. But not for shoes. Anyway -"

He glanced at the bottle that room service had brought up - "oh, this isn't Veuve Cliquot - " and dropped his cigarette into it.

In the morning, I stole his shampoo.

I found my bike on the street where I'd left it, goodie bag still intact (Pudsey pencil, two TARDIS phone flashers and a book by Sarah Kennedy about toddlers).

The sun was shining, it was a glorious morning, and I was wearing a dinner jacket. I went to Iceland and bought pizza for breakfast.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Hear it for the boy

Out drinking in Club Exit on Student Night. A Wednesday meltdown where it's £10 to get in and drinks are free. Security roam the building, throwing out anyone too drunk or behaving strangely (one bloke was thrown out for trying to pay for a drink).

Anyway, met a lovely group of students, through Trey, who used to be a Doctor Who Monster and has held the title of Fourth Most Attractive Man in Wales for two years (for some they didn't hold the competition last year).

I liked the students - Trey, Darren, Will, Steve and Hugh - fun, silly drunken Welsh boys with floppy hair and secretary drinks. And I liked one of them especially after he asked me what I was studying. A few minutes later, we were standing by the dance floor.

"I like you," he said.

"Well, I like you too."

A pause.

"No. I like Hugh."


Work email of the week

I'm in the process of drawing out a pretty picture of what a white label "bees knees" system would look like and to compare that against what solutions we've got or getting. I'll circulate this and perhaps set up a discussion if there's interest.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Wasted Day

Up to London for two meetings and then back again. How bad could it be?

Turns out, the *only* nice thing about yesterday was a swift gin with Ashley. The rest of it was horrid.

Journey up: The train in front of us broke down. Result: A journey of four hours.

Journey back: The train in front of us broke down. Another four hours.

Let's not even talk about the meetings...

Instead, let's dwell on why it is that train seats have arms rests you can't lift up. So it's impossible to stretch out and sleep. No matter how empty the train. Or how bored and tired you are.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Failed Insomnia Cure

Cure: Watching a Hitchcock movie and eating Ryvita.

Outcome: Nodded off during the special features. Woke up in a sweat, dreaming about red mist and sailors.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Email from the past

An old colleage sent me the following, from the days when I used to run a website offering careers advice. Yes. Irony.

Anyway, desperate people would email us, begging for a solution to their careers dilemmas. And we'd try not to answer with "You've sat on your arse for three years. You can't avoid accountancy now."

But there were the odd exceptions:

Dear Dr Job

Many earth centuries ago our mothership crashed on your pathetic planet, and it is now necessary for my stranded minions of darkness and myself to find a regular source of income.

A visit to a careers service was futile. I was forced to destroy the fool who demanded that my army and I make an appointment, and furthermore, apply for a parking permit for the imperial deathwalker.

So, I turn to you for advice. Although I lack an accredited degree, I am recognised as god-emperor in three systems. Since my army operate as a hive mind, our interpersonal skills are exceptional, and we have perfected our teamworking ability through a rigorous in-house seminar programme (I am an Investor In Darkness).

Although we we laugh at the computer systems of your galaxy, I have taught myself several book-keeping packages with some success, and am a keen user of Lotus Notes.

I have good shorthand, and limited keyboard skills (I am cursed with a claw instead of a hand). I am hard-working, sincere, punctual and can kill easily with the power of the mind.

Obviously, it is hard to find a job that can meet my almost insatiable lust for conquest. However, if the work is interesting enough, we are willing to job share, although the army of perpetual terror will not be able to provide holiday cover for each other.

Yours in evil
Supreme Overbeing of the Third Dominion

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Celebrity Stalker

So, Lee and I are standing in Club Exit, in Cardiff (imagine a village hall with a light-up dancefloor).

We are watching the glum Chris Martin, in Coldplay's video of Fix You.

Lee stiffens. "That man" he said, putting down his sherry carefully "is outside my house. Creepy."

The shot changes. "Oh," I say, "Now he's stood outside my house."

Lee turns to me, chilled. "We are being stalked by Chris Martin."

In a glimmer of video editing, he's jumped back from Euston to London Bridge. And yet Chris Martin is still dressed like he's on his way to work at TK Maxx.

There's another cut, and Chris is standing by a delapidated archway. "Hmmm," said Lee, "if I'm not mistaken, he's now outside the exit of Pleasuredrome Gentleman's Sauna. I'd be worried."

And with that, Lee heads for the dance floor, stepping nimbly over a discarded pair of heels. "Oh look," he says, "the two men you fancied have got off with each other."

Friday, October 07, 2005

Office Politics

I've never done office politics well. They're tiresome. I like liking the people I work with, I like my job, and I like getting to do my job. These things are all good.

Of course, every now and then, my department in London goes through One Of Those Times that happens to every office. Unhappy things happen. Everyone's a bit uneasy. It's not sinister, but it is unsettling.

It's currently one of those times, and I've been delighted to be at a distance from it all down in Wales. I like going home and being able to sleep at nights. I like going to the gym and not muttering darkly all the way through situps and scaring the ladies on the rowing machines.

But yesterday, a tiny tendril of upheaval lashed down at me from London, leaving me confused, hurt, and rather paranoid. I got an email out of the blue from someone who cheerily announced they're suddenly managing one of my projects for me, they understand I've been having difficulties, but let's not dwell on my failure, things will be done A Bit Differently from now on.

Oh. Muttered so darkly at the gym this morning that even the man who sings while benchpressing gave me a look.

Wap bam boom

Curse modern phones. Previously, the worst possible thing that could happen with an unlocked mobile is that it would briefly pocket call the voicemail of an ex.

Last night, my phone spent four hours trying to download "Football Mad" pictures. Oh my god.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The N Word

I don't know what was more surpising. Hearing John Humphreys use it on the Today programme, or him then saying, "And, here to discuss it with me is Asher D of So Solid Crew."

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Gays Next Door

Lee and I walked up the entryway to my flat. As we did, some polished young men with careful hair were carrying expensive shopping out of a Trendy Jeep into the flats next door.

They looked at us. We looked at them. They looked back at us and grinned.

"Well," said Lee. "You're not clearly not the only gay here. Give it half an hour and they'll be round to borrow a highlighting kit and a cup of cocaine."

Hello London!

Things I discovered on my recent trip to London:

  • It hadn't really missed me. But I'd missed my friends.
  • My flatmate hasn't missed me. The whole flat has a feel of "you don't live here anymore". There are fresh flowers, new scatter cushions, and I'm sure I spotted pots of paint in the bathroom cupboard.
  • Cycling is joyous! What possible fun can I have cycling to BBC Wales through parks and across rivers when I could be pedalling through six lanes of traffic on the Euston road? Bah.
  • It's surprisingly easy to leave. Hence gatecrashing a wedding in Oxford at the weekend. Thanks, Darian.