Thursday, November 28, 2002

Normal service is resumed

OK, so I got back to my average number of readers today
OK, so people I used to work with emailed today
OK, apparently the last week of pay from my old employer is in the post
OK, so I had a really good sing song to Coldplay in the car coming home
OK, so everyone emailed me to say they loved me

Well, nearly all those statements are true. Everything is, by and large, back to normal today, intriguingly complex aren’t I?

I’ve cut my finger. Not just little nick, it’s a hacking great chunk out of the top of my thumb. Apparently it’s the risk you take when you’re chopping peppers with a bread knife. The plaster slipped off whilst I was reading Hello (actually, for accuracy it was the supplement Hot Stars) on the toilet this morning, and I didn’t have time to find a replacement so I’ve had to look at it, with the bit carved out, all day. It’s not nice to look at, but Emma insists I give it some air.

It’s not the first time my hands have been subject to such torture. About three months ago I was trying to remove something jamming the draw, and felt the flesh on my finger pierce down the cold sharp edge of a carving knife blade. It was like when you cut raw chicken, only more painful. There was blood everywhere. When I was really small I managed to pick the wrong end of a sparkler up and burn my hand. The following year I did it again. When I was about ten I was pretending a glass bottle of pop was a machine gun. The pressure of the shaken 7Up got too great the top popped off it and I dropped the bottle. Instinctively I tried to catch it, but I was caught by the shards bouncing off the ground. I now have a 3cm scar in the palm of my hand. We were in France on holiday and the doctor couldn’t explain that the sugar cube he was soaked in alcohol and designed to numb the pain, so I just bit on some rope whilst he applied some magic formula. Much to my chagrin, the bloody mess in my hand had cleared up by the time I got back to school, and so I impressed nobody.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Sudden wave of introspection

I had planned to post a list of my favourite Teletext pages up today, but in a move that surprised even me, I’m feeling rather melancholy. I’m not really prone to bouts of paranoia, although it does wrack me occasionally, but though I’ve wanted post when I’ve felt like this before, but in the past, by the time I’ve got to a keyboard I’m always been feeling fine again.

Today is a bit different, and I can’t be sure why the cloud is lingering. A whole heap of little things have happened, none of which should cause even a blip on the Melancholy-o-meter but these things accumulated, plus the right wind direction and a combination of physiological elements, and hey presto, I’m feeling a bit gloomy. I’m regretting my regrets a little bit more today, cursing my mistakes with a little more venom, reliving them one by one and shuddering at the thought. I relive opportunities I missed 15 years ago, justify them, smile, and then feel stupid at what I passed up. I’ve been thinking about those moments when you wish you had clarity of thought to act properly but you didn’t and you acted like a tit. I’ve been stupid and thoughtless on countless occasions, and what glooms me is that I know that that’s me, that’s my demon, there’s nothing I can do about it. Much like people who wouldn’t hurt a soul will never hurt a soul. People like me, acerbic and caustic, will always be acerbic and caustic. And as a rule I like nice people, not nasty ones, so where does that leave me?

I don’t regret who I am; life certainly hasn’t treated me badly, on the absolute contrary. I great friends, a superb family, I have a moderately successful life, and by some people’s standards, a very successful life. But at times I question who’s adding value to whom in all these relationships. At work I constantly question how much value people are getting from me, but when it boils down to it, I don’t really care that much. But in my relationships with my friends, who is getting more from that relationship? Ideally it should be a balance, but it’s never going to be like that because life isn’t all straight lines and balance. There has to be an imbalance somewhere, but which way does it tip? I can’t really rationalise why the relationships I have with my friends would ever tip in their favour. What is it do they get from me? It’s difficult to tell. I guess the answer is that it fluctuates from one side to another, and that when the scores are totted up, it comes out just about equal. The thing is, when it’s balanced towards me, I don’t appreciate it or worse, I don’t say it, and when it’s balanced towards them, I can’t see it.

I’m well aware of who reads this site, and it’s mostly people who know me. And, I guess all this navel gazing and whinging is really rather self-pitying. Which it undoubtedly is. But I just thought I should post up how I’m feeling. It’s interesting, at least, trying to articulate it.

Oh, so what has caused the gloom? Well, very few people came to my site today, I finally got round to emailing the people I used to work with (not Clare and Meg, the others) and nobody replied. Then I found out that my last employer haven’t paid me my final week of salary, and now I’m thinking the title of my last post was a little risqué, after all there isn’t a friend of mine that hasn’t been sold up for a cheap gag in the past.

OK, you can all stop nodding now.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Snuggling up to the old log files

I got my latest log files through yesterday and I’m thrilled, I’ve had people clicking through from all over the shop: -

Jo, who’s quintessentially Steppenwolf’s Blog


Slut Wife Story, which is full of pretty girls.

It’s not the content I object to; it’s the train of thought.

Someone also found me through Google using the search phrase ‘boy pee campfire’. Which leads me finally to conclude that I shouldn’t be putting pictures of my niece Sophie up on this site.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Mo' pussy

In the tradition of bigging up my new readers, former pod buddies Clare and Meg, are now on board. Meg’s a bit showbiz and has stories to tell, one in particular is enough to get Hollywood lawyers on the phone and I’m only prepared to repeat it with proper legal representation. Anyway, she knows someone who’s been to an S Club Party and reports that it was crap. I quite like the idea of the literal interpretation of pop bands (stay with me on this). I’m watching the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party at the moment, and I think it would be worth seeing what happens when you set fire to the Blazing Squad.

Actually, this weekend, because of bad drainage at Kidderminster, I’ve watched too much telly. I was unfortunate enough to catch Blind Date last night. Some programmes are so bland they fly under the radar of criticism. As a result this utter detritus is allowed to return series after series pedalling its unadulterated evil, providing exposure to people who are so unutterably tedious, who are prepared to tow this evil line. This has serious cultural implications because it’s these people who are given exposure, who define the norm, a baseline upon which our culture is built, they are indirectly a responsible for Blazing Squad. I think a cultural cull is needed.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Meandering daze

One consequence of my new job is how much earlier I get home, sometimes early enough to see the tail end of Neighbours. It’s how I found out that Drew died falling off a horse. Emma doesn’t like this because after years of me coming home to find her toiling at the PC, I now come home to find the big piker snuggled up on the settee. When she was on the phone to Jo. Not ‘quintessentially Steppenwolf Jo’, nor the Jo who lives in Australia Jo, another Jo. When Jo phones you can easily write off an hour. She spends so much time on the phone her daughter Alice actually learnt to use the phone before she learnt to crawl. There are a few things I’ve made up on this site, but that’s not one of them. Anyway, when Jo last called Emma told her watching Neighbours was “her only pleasure”. Which was heartening.

I have many pleasures myself. After a night clubbing, there’s nothing like drinking coffee and reading tabloids on early morning weekend trains home. I love the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party, and Sports Personality of the Year because it reminds me of the countdown to school Christmas holidays. It’s not something I do every week, but I love being at service stations on Saturday lunch times to see the nation’s football fans criss-crossing the country supporting their teams. I love being part of that pilgrimage, going to watch Oxford play away from home, especially if the journey’s long and pointless. It’s all about after the game, you see, being freezing cold, getting in the car, putting the heating on full blast and listening to Sports Report on the radio. On Saturday I planned to travel up to Kidderminster to see Oxford play on one of these deliciously pointless pilgrimages. Unfortunately, just as I was about to leave I checked Teletext (another great pleasure) and found the game was off because of a waterlogged pitch. Damn.

So I had a blank day, Emma was in London, so I had nothing to do. Saturday TV is mostly dreadful and I didn’t really want to traipse into town or anything. So I decided to watch the Rugby.

But I don’t get rugby, Simon is positively impassioned by it, and lots of people I know would cut their testicles off to go to a game at Twickenham. But, for me, though the prospect of watching an international is tempting, I sit down and can’t go more than 10 minutes before my mind begins to drift. When games reach their climactic finale, nothing burns in me.

On Saturday I decided to watch the game using my own rules. So I thought of it as a tussle between liberal men in touch with their feminine side and homophobes. I didn’t think it was such a bad pretence for a sport. The objective of the game was for all these big burly men to try and give big girly hugs to the man holding the ball and the objective of the man with the ball was to be the rampant homophobe i.e. that he had to avoid being hugged.

It worked, I watched for nearly 20 minutes before going upstairs and playing on my decks.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Vote Goldie

This blog is fundamentally a one-man forum, an opportunity for me to share my hopes, pains, desires and views with anyone who cares to read. I have introduced my friends, told stories of my past, but strangely rarely ventured into the world of current affairs.

Is Celebrity Big Brother the only arena where you’ll hear TV’s Anne Diamond ask TV’s Les Dennis to ‘Crack one off’ live on telly? Why is Les in the house? He’s clearly troubled; nervous and agitated. Why is he going through this pain? He has a beautiful wife, a good showbiz career, and doesn’t have too much trouble paying the bills - he should be content.

Of course, there is a dark side. It wasn’t so long ago his beautiful wife, TV’s Amanda Holden publicly humiliated him by having an affair with TV’s Neil Morrissey in full gaze of the tabloid press. Somehow their marriage survived, not that it did Les any good, he just came over as a simpering fool, desperate to keep her because he knew he could get no better, she, on the other hand, flitted between men at will. It was a slight on Les’ very manhood.

And here’s where the motivation for going into the house comes in. This is a house that broadcasts live and unedited throughout the day and night. The plan is to start to develop a close friendship with Anne Diamond. One night, whilst the drink is flowing, Les will begin reveal to Diamond the inner demons of his humiliation with Holden. She will undoubtedly respond, her ex-husband publicly humiliated her by running off with a woman 20 years his junior. Les may shed a tear, Anne will comfort him with a hug, Les will begin to kiss one of her chins and slip his hand up her jumper, the one that begins to billow at the shoulder and doesn’t taper until it hits her knees. Passions within Anne will be re-ignited. They will go to the bedroom, and begin to have drunken, passionate, filthy, animal sex. Anne will bellow like a bull seal, Les will swing like he’s riding a bucking bronco, then half way through whilst Les is banging away he will turn to the camera in the ceiling, stick his thumb in the air and scream: -


Wednesday, November 20, 2002

The longest night

Reading Festival 1993-ish, Saturday night, our usual festival brethren of me, Wiggaz, Choggaz, Glidder, Melissa and Kazza wander wearily back to our campsite. It's been a great night, B-Real of Cypress Hill lit a spliff so big it cast a shadow over Pangbourne, Perry Farrell's turgid post-grunge fire-eating stripping go-go girls show forced us to the second tent. Blur, a week after they were told they were about to be dropped by their record company, tear the roof off and subsequently save their careers. We're tired now, we'll probably go straight to bed, I want to see Collapsed Lung at lunch time tomorrow, and we'll be in the arena all day, The Gravediggaz and Goats are on and the Chilli Peppers are headlining.

For no reason there's time for one more drink round the campfire before bed. We're festy veterans, we have a six man tent, lilos and duvets, deck chairs and a bin full of beer. Glidder and Melissa retire to their snug two man which is so plush we suspect it's got an ensuite bathroom. It's just me, Choggaz, Wiggaz, and Kazza. Let's have a drink, Let's have another.

It's getting late, the site is beginning to quieten down, it always takes a couple of hours so we must be getting close to 1am. The lights that are strung up along the pathways are no longer bouncing up and down, that always happens, some gibbons think it's the funniest thing in the world to climb up onto the pylons, but it's just part of the Festival at night, blood curdling screams, distant beats, fire.

Wiggaz decides it's time to move onto something more warming and pulls out the bottle of Vodka. It's August, but it's cold and we're approaching 2am, I pull my Orb beanie down over my eyebrows and pull my hood up. Choggaz turns up Derek B's Bad Young Brother on the stereo, maybe too loud, are Melissa and Glidder are still awake? There’s no answer. Nobody’s going anywhere fast, and Derek B is one bad young brother, turn it up.

Wiggaz tries a party trick, he's spitting vodka onto the fire causing it to billow blue flames up round his eyebrows. Choggaz makes a low sweep with his leg and catches Wiggaz's ankle causing him to fall forwards into the flames. Just, only just, he misses burning his face off; he reaches for a can of Stella and slams it onto Choggaz's head. I take a picture; we actually capture the moment between the can being crushed into his skull and Choggaz yelling in agony. It's a great picture. They race off into the gloom, Choggaz lamps Wiggaz and with honours even, they disappear off for a piss against a car.

It must be 3am now, maybe closer to 4. ‘Do you think Melissa and Glidder are still awake’ we ask. There’s no answer. A bedraggled stranger appears from the gloom he has a blanket from Joe Banana's Illegal Rave Tent.

'Who’s here?' asks the man
'Three blokes and a cheap bird' says Kazza

We invite the tired traveller to join us, he takes a seat and is grateful for our hospitality, he has a beer, there's not enough vodka to go around.

'Tell us your lore old man'
'My mate's met a girl and he's kicked me out of the tent'
'What is your name and from whence you come?'
'Ryan, I'm from Rhyl'
'Is there not a sun centre in Rhyl?'
'There is, you can hide on the roof and wank off to the women on the sundeck, it was how I spent my teenage years, can I sleep in your tent, it's quite big'

We tell him we’re about to go to bed, a big three boy one cheap bird gang-bang, he leaves, the sun is peaking over the horizon, Kazza goes for a piss, being a girl she can't just pee up a car, she has to go to the toilet block so she'll be a while. More vodka, more beer, more asking whether Glidder and Melissa are still awake.

"Where's Kazza?" I ask
"Gone for a piss" says Wiggaz
"But that was a long time ago" says I

It was a long time ago, it's late, so late it's nearly early. Nasty things happen on festival sites. Drunk women on their own are attacked, raped, murdered even.

We have another drink.

She's still not back.

"Where's Kazza?" I ask
"Gone for a piss" says Wiggaz
"But that was a long time ago" says I

We have another drink. There's a golden haze in the air, Choggaz announces that bedtime is past, and we're to watch the sun come up. It's still very cold, through the tents we see someone coming. It's Kazza, she's been gone a long time.

"Kazza, where you been?" I ask
"I went for a piss" she says
"But that was a long time ago" says I
"Yeah, I came back, felt a bit pissed and fell asleep under that car over there" she says pointing towards a battered white metro not 15 feet away. "I heard everything you said, but I was paralysed so I couldn't move, thanks for coming to look for me"
"No problem" Says Wiggaz

The site is waking up, the sun is warming and the relief from the night is tangible. People appear from their tents scratching their heads and sniffing lager cans in the hope they'll find something to clear the fluff from their mouths. We go to bed.

At 10.30 we're awake, Melissa's making tea and scrambled eggs in their en-suite kitchen. Apparently they haven't slept either, three blokes and one cheap bird kept asking whether they were awake. Wiggaz sinks a cup of Resolve and throws up on the fire. He then goes for a walk, spotting some friends about 20 feet away. We watch as he ambles over, avoiding the guy ropes, stands briefly as they eat their cornflakes round the ashes of last night's campfire, and projectile vomits all over it. He comes back and goes to bed. We follow and sleep until 2pm. We miss Collapsed Lung.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Great soap deaths #64: Theo Falls Out Of His Anorak

The Holyoakes boys go on a potholing weekend, but their van is caught in a landslide leaving them hanging precariously over the side of a cliff. Theo, he of the no storylines, is left semi concious in the arms of OB, he of perpostrous mancunian accent.

As the cliffside erodes the van destablises and the back doors fling open. Theo slips out of his anorak, out the doors and to his death leaving OB with holding the cagoule.


Great tabloid phone polls #8: The Mirror

Who had the greatest scoop?

The Mirror for the Paul Burrell case
The Washington Post for Watergate

Phone now!

Sunday, November 17, 2002


Emma works in a school which has a number of children from the "Traveller Community", on Saturday we had stopped at the site's local supermarket. Emma doesn't like being near the school as she risks being spotted by children and parents. Me, I was on gypo-watch: -

"Are they gypos?"
"What about them, are they gypos?"

This went on right up until we got to the check-out when exasperated, I spotted a couple of people packing their shopping at the end of the check-out who I assumed had to be travellers, he had a shaven head and pierced ears, she had a shire horse and was selling lucky heather.

"What about them?"

Emma paused and contemplated them for a while, I was breathless with excitement, about to get an inside view on what constitutes a traveller...

"No" she said
"How can you tell?" said I, beginning to doubt her authority
"Well, for one thing, they're paying."

AND before you start on at me about my non-PC posting, let me just stress to you, its not the traveller lifestyle I object to, it's the violence and thuggery of some of their kin which makes Emma's life a misery on a daily basis that gets me.

Tie of the round

FA Cup Round 2: Oxford United Vs Scumdon Town. Too excited for words.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Hairy Porter

Last night we went to see Harry Potter, well, I say last night, we actually saw the 5.45 showing. 5.45 is well before bed time for the 5-12 target demographic this film is clearly aimed at. Walking into the cinema was like walking into a pack of rabid Muppets, or the scene from Gremlins when the little monsters infest the town’s cinema - they were hanging from the ceiling and tearing down the curtains.

Nobby did his patented Cinema blag, we were allocated Row B (at Star Wars we had Row A), seats so close to the screen it burns your retinas, so close, if you started looking at the left hand side of the screen, the film was finished before you got to the right, so close I was in danger of having an image of Ron Weasley etched on my eyeballs forever more. But with Nobby's Cinema Blag you simply tell the ushers that the seats are terrible and can we have better ones, they instantly lead you to the best seats in the house, the middle of the middle. It's like some kind of Jedi mind trick.

Its a great film, Much Better Than The Last One (™ every reviewer in the world), like in the first one a lot of detail is taken out, but its done to clarify the story, Quidditch, for example, is merely a side issue. You actually leave the Cinema tying up the loose ends going "Oh yeah, that's why such-and-such did that".

Watching it with the 5-12 demographic provided added dimensions to the experience. The predictive commentary is slightly annoying: -

'Hrrrrrmmmmmmiiiiinnnnneeeeee!' drifts across the cinema like a callow wind.

Here's Hermione


Oh, here's Errol.

"This is a great bit"

Cue: a great bit.

But they live it, they laugh like drains at the funny bits, scream at the scary bits and applaud at the end, and there should be no other way of watching it. Vic insisted we stay until after the credits for the added bit... make sure you do too, it's great.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Nosh and cheques

I've decided that we're posh, consider this: -

• We always eat at Pizza Express
• We buy Tesco blue stripe mature cheese, which is more expensive than mild
• Last Month we accidently paid our phone bill twice... how rich must we be?


Simon has told the story of last Thursday's night at Bedrock. It's the story of our vaguely odd return to his house. You'd better go and read the story, I'll wait here whilst you go have a look.

Good wasn't it? I was sleeping downstairs in Simon's deluxe sleeping bag on the sofa bed in the living room. In the morning at about 7am, 5 hours after I had gone to bed, Baz came downstairs, switched on the living room light, and turned on the telly at full volume to watch the cricket without an ounce of consideration for the six foot snoozing worm-cum-guest in the corner.

I can forgive Baz for this, because his abject disregard for others is more than compensated in his comic value. When Simon appeared at 7.25 their conversation went something like this: -

Simon: "Morning Baz, how are you?"
Baz: "Pissed off"
Simon: "What are you going to do today?"
Baz: "I'm going to phone the landlord about the fucking house falling down"
Simon: "What are you going to say to him"
Baz: "I'm going to say 'Why has is fucking house falling down?'"
Simon: "Haven't you got that girl coming over this weekend? Your bed isn't good for romancing ladies"
Baz: "I'll be alright I'm going to check into a suite at the Langham"
Simon: "How much would that cost?"
Baz: "I don't care, the fucking landlord is paying"

Actually, Simon makes an excellent Ernie Wise in moments like this.

Nobody links me

According to my log files I have a small but happy band of regular readers (you guys are the greatest). I'm not going to tell you how many because you'll laugh... a first for this site. If I was a girl, this probably wouldn't be important, but I'm a boy and I peruse my log files avidly and make Excel spreadsheets of what they tell me. Site activity is growing a little. This has come from telling my friends and putting up the Friendsreunited entry, but I'm still not happy. Nobby has had referrals from Google on everything from dreams about cooking dogs to cassoulet, whereas Simon is the world's number 1 site for Gay Beefeaters in Uniform (and Nobby is number 3). Me, I haven't had a single comedy Google referral. What is it about my site? Perhaps my readership is the limit of my niche market i.e. people whose jobs are unfulfilling enough to spend time checking my site, and who are vaguely interested in me.

My key marketing channel, my Friendsreunited entry, has caused another reader has made herself known, except this time its my sister. I'm not really sure why she has chosen me as a lost friend to catch up with because I saw her last Tuesday. Weirdo.

Key Marketing Channel? Niche markets? Excel Spreadsheets of site activity? Vicki thinks I'm turning into one of 'them'. Oh bugger, maybe I am.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002


"Col, Col, COL!"

2 days into my new job and things are going dandy thank you very much. It's a bit of a weird situation in that I am now The Expert, supposedly. I am the man now charged with turning this company into a slick professional organisation, yet I still feel like I'm about 13 inside.


The majestic upside of it means I leave for work half and hour later than before, and get home no less than 1.5 hours earlier. People keep asking me what I'm going to do with all my extra time. Well, so far I've managed to establish that both Izzy from Hollyoakes and Libby from Neighbours are back on the market after Tony agreed to marry Clare Buckfield, and Drew fell off a horse and died.


In other words, I'm spending my time really quite productively.


Also we've managed to arrange with the Nobscrubs to go and see Harry Potter on Friday at 5.45, which was practically lunch time in my old commuting world. I am finally civilised.

BAM! 1-0

...and after five weeks I finally scored at 5-a-side. An absolute sizzler from a free kick from the moaning Scottish fat bloke Colin. I also hit the bar and post, and ran about like a man posessed, I was so in the zone. Am I fit?

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Getting a bit T'annoid

As I have mentioned previously I used to work for a publishing company in Oxford. It was a small friendly place thriving in a world of corporate monsters. There was a nice mixture of young, talented graduates - affectionately known as The Kids, of which I was one, and Jo, who is quintessentially Steppenwolf, another. Also, there was a raft of older, more established and experienced kin, who were equally talented, dedicated, hard working and loyal. We worked in a large country house with swimming pool in the garden on the edge of Oxford and in the summer we'd sit in the dappled sunshine eating our lunch and chatting amiably. The gentle family atmosphere meant it was the happiest time of my working life.

Briony, however, was, in my entirely individual and humble opinion (thanks to goes to my legal advisor Ed) a poisonous witch. She was PA to the Managing Director, and assumed therefore that she was second in command. She drew organisational charts with her name above all the other directors. If coffee cups were left unwashed, Briony would bring it up in board meetings, which she attended to take the minutes. She hated The Kids. Liz, a particularly loved Kid, briefly became the MD's protégé causing Briony to blow a gasket, she responded by insisting that Liz made photocopies of anything she produced so Briony could have keep them on file. Briony also managed the receptionists, of whom Anne used to help the editorial team when deadlines approached. One particular press day, Anne was working for Charlie, a sub editor who was explosive under pressure. At the frenzied peak of trying to meet their deadlines, Briony walked into the office and insisted that Anne go back to reception. Charlie hit the roof bellowing at her in the reception area whilst the rest of the company watched over the stairwell like the Von Trapp Children at a grand reception. The man was a hero. Briony was evil.

She was also incompetent. She once distributed an all staff memo with a photocopy on the back of a job offer to a generally disliked temp which amounted to a promotion above already established members of staff. She also accidentally saved all the MD's confidential letters and memos, along with her WI coffee morning rotas, onto the company network for everyone to read.

The company had a public address system that was mostly used by the receptionists to ask people to get them coffee rather than anything important. However, it didn't have blanket coverage of the building and there were black spots where you couldn't hear anything. Briony was charged with putting this right. She distributed an email to the whole company announcing that in response to the problems that three additional "Tanoids" would be installed to ensure coverage.

Well, sometimes you've got to step up to the plate.

I opened a blank email and began to type: -

Dear Briony,
Thank you for your email regarding the installation of Tanoids around the building. I would just like to clarify a number of points regarding the said action. You will appreciate that for the good of company communications it is important to be accurate in cases like this.

Firstly, in referring to Tanoids, I assume you refer, in fact, to Tannoy, a popular make of public address system. Tannoy is in fact the brand name, not the system itself. This is an easy mistake to make, as there are many cases where brand and product names have become interchangeable in the psyche of the nation. For example, Hoover is used to mean vacuum cleaner, and in America a photocopy is often referred to as a Xerox.

Secondly, the Tannoy, or Public Address System is the system as a whole, as I am not aware of any major faults with the existing system, I assume that we are not have three more public address systems installed. If three new systems are to be installed I can foresee two principal problems. Firstly, announcements will become excessively loud and though I realise there are black spots in the current coverage, it is not necessary for us to make announcements across the whole of Oxfordshire. Secondly with three systems installed, this means that those on reception will need to have three microphones in order to talk into them, as you will appreciate these will become difficult to hold so you may need something akin to a baseball catcher mitt in order to use them all at the same time. I therefore assume you mean that three additional speakers are being installed.

These are my concerns, I would be delighted to talk them through with you should you need any further clarification.

My finger hovered over the send button, and then, oops, it was off. I forwarded it to people round the building to show how clever I'd been. The phone started ringing off the hook, people came visiting calling me a genius. Briony was preparing her written complaint to the MD.

I was dragged in to see my director and told to go to Briony and apologies, apparently I was being "diffident" rather than helpful. I said that it was never my intention to upset her. I reiterated that if she ever wanted help with these things, she just had to call. The charm offensive knocked her off balance... she thanked me.

But never called.

Holy crap that was quick - a new reader

I used to work with Jo at a publisher in Oxford, one of those soap opera type companies, with a plethora of stories that deserve a web site all on its own.

Jo pointed me towards a site that creates a profile of you from your name. Jo, for example, is 'quintessentially Steppenwolf' which may or may not be a compliment. Justin Ruffles fails to register, but my real name, er, which is, of course, Justin Ruffles, suggests I am optimistic that the season’s challenges can be overcome. Which I am.

I was surprised to find that Simon is not only a distinguished British journalist but is expected to leave for London by a flight on Tuesday morning and is a hero to many Bangladeshis. I don't know, you think you know someone.

Nobby, under his real name, which is Nobby of course, is the principle site operator for Envynews, which I didn't know, and is enchanting on Embraceable You, which I did. He is also a Mac zealot and is quite categorically 'right'.

I'm upset to hear that Penny was torpedoed and sunk, but it's nice to see that her husband Mike is my favourite psuedo celebrity and a doctoral candidate at Dalhousie University. I talked to Mike only recently but he didn't tell me that he is currently modelling and recording new material for release later this year. He's particularly modest, because he has never mentioned that he is one of the most respected saddle designers in the west and his natural talent for art brings his paintings to life.

I'm not sure why he has added to his line of "girl" kits but it's good to hear that he is encouraged by how his strained right pectoral muscle is healing, are these things related? Well known among radio listeners, he is an old soul in a young body and is required to download them... what's that? He’s required to download young bodies?

Despite this dark side, he will always be first up to give us a tight and rolling rendition of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s 'Halley Came to Jackson'.

Jo in Australia, as opposed to Jo who is 'quintessentially Steppenwolf', is designed for the visualization and analysis of surfaces and, I'm stunned to say, a founding member of the Cure but is now working towards a doctorate in clinical psychology at Concordia University.

Willy is an astronomer and assistant to the director of the Canberra Planetarium and observatory, a textile illustrator, a research fellow at King's, a nursing officer, an experienced teacher, an editorial assistant at Australian Leisure Management and a third year leisure management student at university of technology, and just 21 years old. Well done Clare.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

A black belt in showing off

I've just updated my Friendsreunited entry in an attempt to boost readership on this site, I know, how bonkers mad am I? Clearly I'm going to impress all the people who thought I was a bit of turd at school. It's a painful experience your Friendsreunited entry, a therapy far too long to go into on this blog, so I've decided to elaborate here.

If you have just arrived on this site come in, make yourselves at home, do you want to see we've done to the spare bedroom? Oh god, could you put a coaster under that mug, it'll stain.

You can read this blog as a convenient distraction from getting on with your work, or look at some nice pictures from Penny’s wedding or our holiday. You can join my mix club, which is completely free - I do mixes from time to time, and if you send me your details, I can send you a CD whenever one is ready. There's a new mix that I'm listening to as I type, I call it House Music All Night Long and it rocks. If you want to book me to play at your party, just send me an email.

OK, advert over let's get on with talking nonsense.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Fashion (turn to the left)

Last year I was on the train into London. Sitting in the near empty carriage I was aware of a gang of teenagers talking behind me. I knew they were teenagers because they started each sentence with 'Yeah, it's like, y'know...' I couldn't see all of them from where I was sitting, so it wasn't until I got off at Marylebone that I saw the girl with pink dreadlocks, piercings and unfathomably big trousers. My first reaction was to think 'does your mother let you out like that.' My second was 'Wow doesn't she look amazing', in a 'as long as she doesn't move in next door to me' kind of way.

My destination that night was a hot London underground club, Chewing The Fat; the nation's tastemakers have decreed it to be one of the coolest clubs in the country. Whilst I am as influenced by the media as much as anyone I wasn't simply following fashion, this was my kind of club, groovy breaks music, and I was, through happenstance, being cool. The Kids, however, were going somewhere else; presumably they were going to where the revolution is happening.

You see the clubs I enjoy are emptying; The Punters are going elsewhere for their kicks. The solution, apparently, is to get back to the Acid House ideals of 1989. But, much as I like the principle, I know the revolution will not be based on 13 year old ideals, The Kids think clubbing is old fashioned and they are planning something people like me will simply not understand. And that's the way it should be.

Last night we went to Bedrock, which is a tried and tested good night out. It didn't quite take off as we hoped but as I simply like being in clubs with big sound systems, I had fun. However, whilst this is what I enjoy, I know the revolution involving teenagers in pink dreadlocks and unfeasibly big trousers is happening elsewhere.

Simon wanted to take the opportunity to check out the latest club land fashion in an attempt to inspire him out of his trainers, combat trousers and t-shirts. What we observed was that whilst men’s club fashions have stagnated, women’s fashions have gone into a shocking nosedive. The pixie boot was much in evidence, and those floaty tops which only look good on supermodels where floating along to the booming bass lines. Those pushing the envelope even went as far as donning the Ironic Mullet - a look like you've had your haircut by Stevie Wonder. All terrible 80's throw back horrors, yet perhaps, there are boys looking at these girls and saying PWHOAR, or whatever it is young people say these days. Y'see I just don't understand club fashion's.

It's important to enjoy what you enjoy, and I enjoy going to clubs and listening to dance music but, as 60's, 70's and 80's nostalgia tours thrive in the face of clubland's collapse, I know that those I consider underground artists will soon be producing albums for Shania Twain and that I'm a short trip from embarrassing my kids at Acid House Tribute Tours featuring The Austrian Chemical Brothers.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Shameless attempt at improving my position on search engines

On Channel 4's More Sex Tips For Girls on Wednesday night, a couple discuss their humdrum sex life: -

"It's always the same, he plays with me, I give him a blow job, I go on top, he flips me over and we end up on all fours. You could set your watch by it"

Oxford United 0 Aston Villa 3

Oxford didn't threaten much, but the result flattered Villa who were little better. Tip for Oxford goalkeeper Andy Woodman, don't throw the ball in your own net twice in 3 minutes and you'll have a chance.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

How deep is my love?

Supporting Oxford over the years has seen me travel from Scotland to see us play Wolves, and from Boston (USA) to see us play Southend, both games ended in 0-1 defeats but by making the effort I feel, in some way, superior to your average Man Utd stay-at-home. On Saturday we travelled up to Carlisle, we lost 0-1, again. People ask whether it's worth it, I say yes, the result doesn't matter; it's the effort that's important. Probably.

Luckily for us, we didn't have to drive straight back afterwards. The game represented a good opportunity to stay with Nobby and Vicky Dobscrub at Vicky's parents. There are many things to enjoy when being entertained by the Dobscrub's. One in particular is triggering Nobby's overactive imagination. For instance, after this weekend, I look forward to the Year 6 end of term play about World War 2 Nobby's going to write for Emma. From what Nobby came up with on Saturday, it could end up being a real time re-enactment of the whole five years. It's likely to start with the invasion of Poland (which will be situated in the playground near the swings) and end with Hiroshima (stink bombs in the Year 3 toilets). The thing is, Nobby has exams to study for, and you just know he won't be able to concentrate until he's hired a couple of Spitfires for Act 2.

Also I find that Cumbria is, more than almost anywhere else in the UK, the most calming environment in which to spend a weekend. The other part of the experience is enjoying the Dobscrub's undoubted culinary excellence. It's a delight to eat, of course, the Meat and Potato pie before the grand Carlisle fireworks was delicious. But there is more than just cooking involved in these things, it was fun to watch Nobby 'save' the fried eggs on Sunday morning. Especially when Vic stood bemused in the middle of the kitchen waiting for some kind of adjudication from the referee, having been, rather violently, shoulder barged out the way. Nobby followed this up by turning on Vicky's mum and chastising her for letting her daughter cook two eggs in a such a small frying pan. Class.

All in all, I could spend a week up there quite happily, but we needed to get back. After a pleasant 4 hour journey up there, we had to endure 6.5 hours back getting stuck at all the traffic black spots up the M6. Luckily, you won't have to cultivate a 22-year friendship (yes, Vic that's how long it's been) to enjoy the delights of Cumbria, as very soon you'll be able to pay for the pleasure and hire out the cottages at the back of Vic's parents' pile. It'll be worth it believe me.

Friday, November 01, 2002


After 1752 days of continuous employment with the same people I've finally left for new pastures. As I had hoped, it was a quiet and dignified departure. I didn't get an exit interview, my P45 nor asked for the £2700 train ticket money I borrowed off them last month. When I told our pensions person I was leaving she said "By choice?". It was like I've never been employed.

My final day was spent placing useful clues as to what I do so I can't be accused of sabotaging my work. The people who should be interested simply aren't, that's their perogative, either my work has been worthless, or they are incompetent. Fundamentally, I know which of the two it is, and I'm not concerned.

Though deprived of two goodbyes because of holidays and pneumonia, and at least another two because people had left, I did rather well with around 15-20 people stopping by to say goodbye. I felt good.

I was pretty much the last person to leave, so the offices were eerily quiet as I said my silent farewells to fixtures and fittings. Finally I walked out onto the street and into a feeling of almost overwhelming relief. Away from commuting, away from a chore and a trial, from an organisation which batters peoples' spirits, and undermines their confidence. More than that, I walk away into something infinitely better. I don't like change, and perhaps in a few weeks I'll look back with rose tinted glasses, but I look forward to the unknown with excitement.

I have nearly two weeks holiday before I start my new job. I shall do some writing, sort out my web site, go to the Gym, play football, and have a mix. Mostly I shall enjoy being free.

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