Thursday, January 30, 2003

What film ends with How Deep Is My Love?

The bizarre world of log files continues to tickle and excite. This week’s search phrases include another showing from the Dalhousie Slut, this time using very specific inverted commas. Who is that loose women? I’ve tried finding her, but she appears not to exist.

All hail the seeker who hunted me down from the phrase ‘Slag Avril Lavigne’ and I was pleased to see that someone searched under ‘Justin Ruffles’, until I realised it was probably me.

Big up the Singaporeans! I have had a flood referrals from one of my favourite blogs. I found Ineffable, months ago looking for a review of Orbital at Somerset House. I can’t remember if Michelle The Ineffable actually went, she was probably at a Drum n Bass Jazz Samba Fusion Night because like Jo Who’s Quintessentially Steppenwolf, Michelle has a groovy urban boho life spent cruising bagel shops, watching films in Swahili and listening to music sung in ancient tribal click languages. She posts entries like “We settled down to watch the Chungking Express, last week and believe the hype, it’s amazing”… Believe the hype? I wouldn’t know whether to eat it or dance with it. Michelle Ineffable, you rule.

I think everyone should broaden their horizons living vicariously through others. I know if everyone did that we’d all be staring at each other waiting for someone to make the first move, but it leads onto a little vignette I wanted to share. The closest I ever got to a drug experience was watching Jo Who’s Quintessentially Steppenwolf, Raver and Catherine getting bombed off their noggins on Hindu Kush after the pub. My favourite drug moment was Catherine’s paranoia attack resulting from not being able to work out how to use Raver’s Teletext to find the Oxford Vs Sheffield Wednesday score. I was on my way over from the said game and by the time I got there she was a gibbering wreck in the corner. We had conversations like….

“Was it a good game?”
“Brilliant, Jemson scored with 2 minutes to go, the whole place went mental. What have you been up to?”

Anyway, the link from the Ineffable site has brought a flood of visitors, many with exotic ‘.sg’ domain extensions. Oh, how that extension conjures up the mysteries of lands far far away.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Trouble at mill

Watching Dubya get all excited and nearly wet himself at the prospect of being able to press the big red shiny button next to his desk, my own personal vulnerability has come into rather stark focus.

I would like to put it on record that I too have no weapons of mass destruction in my possession, and at the same time the paperwork alluding to this fact is also, well, slightly incomplete. I tell you, if those inspectors come round to my house, I’m going to be in big trouble. For one thing, their light blue hats will clash horribly with our dining room, as presumably that’s where they’ll sit to do their inspection, thinking about it, how long will it take, should I make up the bed in the spare room?

I’m going to make up a dossier of all the things I haven’t got, and why I haven’t got them…

1. Nuclear weaponry: Shed is full
2. Chemical weaponry and/or deposits of Anthrax: Could give cats an upset tummy if consumed
3. Playstation 2: Can’t trust myself not to use the components to launch an attack on the civilised world and Emma won’t let me

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Boys' stuff

When I ask my friends whether they read this site, the girls always seem to say “Yeah, but not the football bits”. Well, here’s a, sort of, football bit, so to give the girls something to do, here’s some stuff for you to look at…

Girl’s Link Number 1
Girl’s Link Number 2
Girl’s Link Number 3

All I wanted to say was that at football I sat next to the Littlest Britpop Fan, dressed in a parka and desert boots. Every time I stood up, which was lots coz we won 3-0, I couldn’t work out why he remained sitting. Apparently he wasn’t, he just wasn’t very big. I’ve never seen him before; perhaps he’s a Littlest Hobo for the mid-nineties.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Emma Emma potty mouth

Say “John Thomas” and you’ll get a blank expression, ask her to name a ladies furry parts and she’ll say it’s a ‘bottom’. Emma is not your quintessentially ‘dirty bird’, yet somewhere deep in her psyche is a filthy mind desperate to get out.

Exhibit A: debt is a four-letter word for Emma, credit cards and loans are alien beings. It comes from the idiosyncratic accounting methods of her mother, who keeps vast proportions of cash in plastic pouches for specific shopping trips. I once asked her if she would pay for a 56p packet of peanuts I wanted to save queuing time. She couldn’t, or wouldn’t, because the pouch designated for shopping wouldn’t balance if it were complicated by my 56p. Her sister is not too different. On commenting on someone’s financial state she once screeched, “He even has a loan for his car”… imagine that. To protect her from the beast of debt Emma keeps in her current account a sum of money that she won’t dip under – it’s her Buffer Zone. She went to the bank the other day and they told her that her money wasn’t working as well as it might do. I asked her how much the Buffer was, and she told me it was about the equivalent of a month’s salary. I told her to put it in savings thus saving tax and gaining interest, she told me “No, I don’t want to start playing with my buffer zone”.

Exhibit B: Emma seems to like things with fur; cats, clothes, anything really. Whilst out shopping she came across a bag that was grey with a ‘Very Emma’ black furry fringe. She was very proud of it, but, naturally, she took it home she left it on the floor in the hall. You wouldn’t believe it but Emma’s world is very ordered, everything has its place, shoes are left around the toilet, ice cream boxes half full with hardened Polyfiller, always on the cooker hob, that kind of thing. The following Sunday Simon was round for a regular tea, scones and TV chill session. Inquisitive as ever, Simon asked what we’d been up to, Emma replied ‘shopping’, Simon asked what she’d bought, to which she answered “Would you like to see my furry bag?”. His eyes popped out of his head. Of course, Simon should have said “Yes, but what did you get when you went shopping”… but didn’t, sadly.

Exhibit C: The clincher, our living room window looks out onto the road, Emma hates the darkness of the winter. Which is odd given that she fries in the summer. Subsequently she tries to make sure the sun is coming into the house for the maximum possible time. Emma’s sister, who we once employed as an occasional cleaner, and was the only cleaner ever to leave notes telling us how untidy the house was, came round and was, as usual critical of everything we did. She wanted to know why the front of our house was such a state, to which Emma replied….

“I like to keep my bush long so I can keep my curtains open”

Friday, January 24, 2003

Churches of the soul

By my reckoning the trinity that enriches your soul is the family home, the place you spent your childhood, and your local pub. If your parents are like mine, these last two could well be the same place.

Ah ha, I hear you say, he's started another post with life affirming gravitas, I won't be caught out, I won't be sucked into his trifling piffle.

Schhhlooopp! Oh dear...

The church of your family home is where it all begins. It's the island where you spend your formative years, it becomes your safe house from the evils of the world. The problem comes when you leave, the Reverend Mum and Dad run a tight ministry and frown greatly on any lapse in your attendance. After you've left, it won't be long before they've turned your room into a generic themed 'guest room', tastefully appointed with stuffed toys picked up from mid-season holidays funded by the saving they've made from you moving out. Suddenly the trinkets of home are hidden or destroyed. Of course you are welcomed on every return, but their smiles are more forced, because to them you're just a hollow soulless shell now you've turned your back on the church of your family home.

The church of my home is at least where its always been. It's changed, there's Sky TV and lots of bottles of fizzy pop, a rare treat in my day, but my dad still takes the cup off you before you manage to put it on the floor, and Sunday evenings still smell of overheated tumble driers. Poor Vicky Dobscrub hasn't got it nearly so good. Her parents were throwing things into boxes and moving to the other end of the country before she could say "You will still do my washing for me." But whether they move to the other end of the country, or simply turn your room into an 'office for dad to pay his bills', this cornerstone is a flimsy edifice that will eventually crumble and disappear.

My second church, which defines my childhood, is the Manor Ground Oxford, home of Oxford United. My first visit was when I was three, I stared in disbelief at the floodlights and was so small I couldn't see anything, every time the ball appeared in the sky I'd cheer. I've been attending mass at the Manor regularly since about 1980 becoming my home every other Saturday for the best part of 20 years - it's the place that bridges the gulf between my childhood, and adulthood. Of course, 18 months ago they knocked the bloody thing down and built a hospital on the land.

So I'm a soulless fool, Christ, I have an internet site, what do you expect? But wait, was there not a third church?

Indeed there is, for me it's the Rising Sun, the Riser, a small low ceilinged pub in Thame. It could have been very different, it could have been the Abingdon Arms (the Abo or Abbey, depending on which local dialect you subscribe to). My first visit to the Abbey was after a school play. I walked through its cavernous surroundings, it felt like descending into the pits of hell, the log fires raged, mottling the walls with foreboding orange venom. I got to the back of the main bar, there was a huge table surrounded by a council of the beautiful and fashionable people from school. It was a toxic orgy, limbs everywhere, evil cackling. I'd never seen these girls in make-up or looking so, y'know, womanly. I always thought when the popular people turned up on Monday with different boyfriends and girlfriends that the constant merry-go-round was administered by a committee of responsible parents. I had no idea they were writhing in this seething cesspit grabbing and fondling each other. Thank god the pub burnt down about a week after that visit, it saved me from a life in the catacombs of Beelzebub.

Instead, we set up camp in The Riser, a pub run by the spectacularly fragrant Marion, a shapely, flirtatious, homely yummy mummy who greeted everyone who entered, regular or stranger, like a friend, or potential bedfellow. Whilst ordering your pint of Hook Norton she'd seduce you with her gentle affection, then you'd look over her shoulder and see Bob, a great Bear of a man, her husband, with a riot of whiskers and a jowly glare. They didn't fit together at all, but you didn't like to question it too much.

Bob and Marion shall always be the spiritual landlords of the Riser. They're a bit like Doctor Who or James Bond, you're favourite is always the first one you remember. They left about seven years ago in a blaze of glory, a Sunday night drink-the-bar-dry which due to the combination of copious quantities of cheap booze, and bottom of the barrel quality ale, meant the following Monday was an absolute car crash.

They marshalled many many great nights, my whole memory is viewed in a hazy soft focus. Above all it's Christmas that rush the memory. For two years, returning from University, the Mecca for celebration on eventide was the Riser. The whole school descended on the pub packing it to its low rafters. The night descended into a hazy, drunken, smorgasbord of memories and adventures. It was like Christmas, hell, it was Christmas. After those two years, people began to miss Christmas eve at Riser because they were booked to spend time away with their beau's family and friends. The crowds thinned, it was never possible to get everyone back together at the same time. Then, this Christmas, in some kind of telepathic communication, we all descended again. Perhaps we were wrestling with our First Quartile Life Crises, perhaps it was just fate, but suddenly the place was full with the same, fatter faces. It was more sedate than before, but there was a spark, a small spark.

There were other nights of drinking, but as we got older we'd start the evening with burgers, instead of beers. Big burgers, the size of hubcaps, with wedges and BBQ sauce. It was still our Riser, but it was growing up with us. Tuesdays were quiz night; Penny captained The Barker's Dozen to mid-table obscurity week after week. It's perhaps the only quiz night in the world which had a round on Heraldry. There aren’t many places outside your own home where you walk in without the slightest itch of apprehension. The Riser was one of those places.

Then a few weeks ago, on a night out with Vicky and Nobby, we ventured once more to our trusted cultural behemoth, talking as always we absentmindedly leant on the door we'd pushed through a thousand million times before. It didn't budge. No lights were on. It was closed. On a Friday. For refurbishment.

Tonight it opens as a themed restaurant pub boasting 500 types of sausage.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Fugazi, Sigur Ros, Medicine8, Spandau Ballet

Life is a meandering path of ups and down, hills and dales, cul-de-sacs and vast open spaces. Lining your path is culture, it influences your tastes, your beliefs, defines everything about you.

Sometime during your childhood however, you’ll be wandering along your path minding your own business, and all of a sudden you’ll be sucked into a huge vacuum, strapped to an operating table, injected with a fungus and fired back onto your road.

This fungus is your bad taste fungus, what it allows you to do is become attached to a particular thing that goes wholly against all your sensibilities. It’s why girls pine for the Flaming Lips and Bros in equal measure. Check out their CD rack, I guarantee you that amongst the Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci albums will be Take That and Party. The fungus did that. You can’t shake it; it will grow and subsume you as you get older. That’s why people who lived through punk still have Ronan for their first dance at their weddings. For me, nestling in amongst the Tim ‘Love’ Lee mix tapes and the New Kingdom albums is Queen, loads of it. Queen is my fungus and it currently occupies all six places in my CD cartridge.

I’m not talking about the poignancy of “These Are The Days of our Lives” or the supposed camp classic video to “I Want to Break Free”, I’m talking proper Queen, when they sang about Fat Bottom Girls, Lords and Privy Councillors, when they were Challenging the mighty Titan and his troubadours (in Seven Seas of Rhye). Yeah, I’m talking proper Queen, live with it bitch.

There are three things I like about Queen, firstly, how it links to my childhood. As a child your life is a small island consisting of your house and if you’re lucky a garden or street to play in. Occasionally a causeway will open up and your mum will take you down the sweetie shop, or to school. But more of less, your life is spent on your little island. I remember nights when my dad would return from distant lands (Woolworths, Hatfield) with a pristine vinyl copy of the new Queen album. It was a rare treat to be enjoyed, that and lemonade at my Granny’s. We’d listen to it on headphones that were bigger than my head, loud enough to make your ear drums vibrate.

The second thing is the sheer indulgence of Queen albums. The whole group split the song writing equally, and you can tell. Any song with sixteen separate guitar parts is a Brian May tune, complex drum patterns is Roger Taylor, funky bass riffs are all John Deacon, and of course, songs with lines like “Oberon and Titania watched by a harridan” is a Mercury effort. You can imagine it in the studio….

Roger Taylor “Morning fellas, I’ve just written a new song for the album”
Mercury “Morning Roger, cup of tea?”
Roger “No thanks, but I could kill for a bowl of cocaine”
Mercury “DWARF, two cups of tea, and another bowl of cocaine, right how does this new tune go, darling”
Roger “Well I need forty eight separate tom tom sounds and two hundred and forty six cymbals, no guitars and the bass and vocals way down in the mix.”

Roger Taylor’s drumming is audacious throughout early Queen albums, it seem that he considers it a slight on his abilities if he has to hit the same drum twice during a single song. Most of his drum rolls start midway through verse one and end somewhere around verse six (the bit about tatterdemalion and a junketer) just before Mercury’s 98 part harmonic interlude.

They were all at it though. Playing live, Brian May’s solos would last so long that the roadies used to pack up the kit, transport it to the next venue set up again and the rest of the band would start the next gig with a Taylor drum solo long enough for May to get to the next venue. It’s a little known fact that Queen were playing concerts continuously 24 hours a day seven days a week for most of 1972-1978. The guitar solo for Brighton rock was only written so John Deacon could get some sleep.

The final thing is the complete interactivity of the listening experience, air guitar? Of course. Air drumming is where it’s at, as an in car activity it’s both a thrill and very dangerous. From the outside you look like you’re being attacked by an angry bee, but inside you’re thundering through Ogre Battle. The danger comes during the bass drum solos, it’s way too easy to get carried away and mistake the car peddles for bass drum peddles causing you to either stop dead still on the motorway, or skidaddle over the top of a roundabout in the middle of rush hour.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Luke, disciple of the absured

I’ve known Luke since school, but haven’t seen him for years, he’s one of those people who will open a conversation with a forty minute monologue, then suddenly check himself, realise he’s at the wrong point in the conversation, say hello and ask how you are. He once won the school’s mock job interview competition pretending he wanted to be a vicar whilst wearing his suit jacket inside out. His party trick was to empty the tobacco out of every cigarette in the packet role it up in an A4 piece of paper, and see if he could smoke it. He was at Simon’s party on Saturday: -

“So what are you up to Luke?”
“Well, I tend to hang around Shoreditch mostly”
“Woo, very fashionable”
“I think so, I used to hang out at London’s Trendy Shoreditch, but I’ve found that it’s not as cool as it was, now I hang around in Shoreditch, which is next to London’s Trendy Shoreditch, it’s good, it could become the new London’s Trendy Shoreditch”

He once walked into the pub and….

“Hi Luke”
“The people who take money on the Waltzer at the fair, where do they go when they want an adrenalin rush?”
“I don’t know, would you like a drink”
“Yes please”

Monday, January 20, 2003

Long post short story

"Zzz mumble mumble, a parsnip perhaps, but you'll never get a melon up there, mumble mumble, zzz"
"UH? Oh, hello Ghost of Working Past, how are you?"
"I'm very well; I've had a relaxing weekend in a health spa, a treat from my kids for my birthday"
"Nice, are you here to take me back to my days at the Oxford publishing company"
"I am indeed, are you ready?"
"Yeah sure, let me get my slippers"
"Are they new pyjamas? I never thought brown paisley would look good on anyone, but on you they look OK"
"Thanks, who's that over there, it looks like Darth Vader"
"It is, he loves your blog, he used to have one of his own, now he's retired he's thinking of starting one up again and telling a
few stories from his time on the Death Star, I'm going to show him round when I've finished with you, I hope you don't mind"
"Sure, he had his own blog? Can I see it?"
"Well it was a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away"
"Oh well, hello Darth Vader, I'm Justin Ruffles"
"Hello Justin, nice to me you, I love your blog"
"Thanks, I've always wondered who was reading from the domain name"
"That was me; I used to read it when I supposed to be catching up with my paperwork. Just one thing Justin, I would rather you called me by the name I use nowadays"
"Oh, OK, what's that?"
"Glenn Vader?"
"Yes, since I've retired to Eastbourne I've had all sorts of problems fitting in, being called Darth Vader is so.... Conspicuous"
"I suppose it is"
"I can't get into the golf club, the bowls club, and getting into Geoffrey's Rainbow Pride Bar has been a nightmare, you'd think the boys would go for the outfit"
"Geoffrey's Rainbow Pride Bar? That sounds rather like a...."
"Well, haven't you seen the films? It's quite evident I was suppressing something, ducky"
"Shall we go through the magical vortex?"
"OK Ghost of Working Past, but can you be a bit more careful with the controls of that thing, last time we used it I don't think you put my feet back on the right way round, my shoes have been looking very strange these last few days. Come on Darth, er, Glenn you'll have to be right behind me if were all to get through the vortex together"
"A boy doesn't need asking twice."


"Well, the car park's full, looks like everyone's inside and ready for work"
"WOW, is that an orange 2CV"
"Yes, it's Jo's"
"Not Jo Who's Quintessentially Steppenwolf"


"Yes, now put that light sabre away, you'll hurt someone"


"That was my 2CV when I was a student, I lost it to Jo in a card game on Tatoine, I'm still very upset by it, she used to do the Kessel Run in 12 Parsecs"
"Strange, it took longer than that to get from Cowley"
"Come on you two, this post is long enough as it is, let's have a look around"

"So where are we now?"
"This is the reception, that's Joan, the receptionist, part woman, part Bull Mastif, she was the guardian of the faxes, if she didn't like you, you didn't get your faxes sent. She also operated the Tannoy and told people when the Sandwich lady had arrived, though not before she'd got her order in."
"There's Jo Who's Quintessentially Steppenwolf"


"Jesus Darth, er Glenn, will you stop doing that. Ghost of Working Past, can anyone see us as we're walking around?"
"Sometimes, it depends on whether the joke requires it or not."


"Quick, let's follow her, perhaps she's about to re-enact a story from the past"
"I would bet my 2CV on that little prediction coming true, if I still had it"




"She's going into the girl's toilets, quick, before the door shuts"
"Where's she gone?"
"I think she's in that cubicle"
"Look, the other ones on fire!"
"No I don't think that's black smoke, it doesn't appear to be moving"
"What is it Ghost of Working Past?"
"I've just remembered something, last time we were here, I left the 1970's Wolverhampton Wanderers left back George Berry in the cubicle whilst we had a look round. I forgot to pick him up. He's been there all that time."
"Look his Afro's growing out the top of the cubicle"
"Thank you for clarifying that, I wasn't sure whether people got the joke"
"You know I said we were visible if the joke warranted it?"
"Quick let's get into George's hair and hide"
"Puff Pant, made it, oh look there's Jo having a poo with her head in her hands"
"Hangover probably"
"Shhh, the door's opening"
"Will you be quiet"
"Keep your trap shut, oh look it's Jen from the Marketing Department"
"I think..."
"But Justin"
"Jo's cubicle door's unlocked"


Sunday, January 19, 2003

Three and three quarter hours and one toilet break

First the grumble, the only one, to the random blonde who came up to me and told me not to be “One of those wanker DJ’s suffering for his art” because I said I’d ‘try’ to play a record that I’d played two hours previously, I even helped her work out which one it was, she said “You played the Flute Song by Rae and Christian earlier” it was Rose Rouge by Paris St Germain. How nice am I?

Here’s the science blondie.

The decks went on at 8, people were talking and catching up and easing their way into the evening. I’m not suffering any art; I’m playing records in order to try and make your night a bit better than it would have been if I hadn’t been there. Silence is golden, but at a party it’s really rather shit. Early on, to get people in the mood, there was a little funk, a bit of hip-hop and few Neptunes productions – if you’re going to play Britney, play good Britney. My only indulgence is the odd, very subtle, joke or comment – Justin Timberlake into Britney, or dropping the Porn Kings because it’s a record me and Simon used to hear at Skint on Fridays. As the drinks flowed, people loosened up, the tempo increased through Daft Punk and Ian Pooley – nothing boshy because people were chatting and having a good time. From here you work to a peak that coincides with people entering the enjoyable part of being drunk. This peak goes on for about half an hour; it’s not the point at which you just play a record that’s as laid back as the one you wanted. That’s why it sounded so bad, y’idiot. After that people begin to get too drunk and the functions of their brains slow. So you drop a gear, and finally you’re back to where you were – recognisable and safe pop songs to send people on there way home. It’s not just thrown together you know. I hope you had a good party, enjoying the company of your friends, the venue, the drink and the music. Thanks for calling me a wanker.

For more information, read How To DJ Properly by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, Graham Spankee, and Yipee Dave were going to join me in rotating half hour stints on the wheels of steel, but as joint hosts of the birthday party there was always a chance that my stints would be longer. I hadn’t expected three and three quarter hours (and one toilet break).

Nobody had requests with the exception of blondie, a sign, perhaps that I got it right. It felt right, and I had so much fun getting it right. What’s more, I still got to join in, though if you did talk to me; sorry I cut you off and ran over to my decks every 6 and a half minutes. And happy birthday Graham and Yipee Dave.

For no other reason than my own curiosity and vanity, and this is a vanity site so let’s talk about me a bit more, you can find a rough approximation of the whole set here.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

T'was the night before work and all through the house...

“Zzzz, mumble, mumble, make it two camels and you can have her, mumble mumble, zzzz Huh?! Eh? Who are you?”
“I am the ghost of your working past, and I want to take you back many years to see what went on in those days”
“Well OK, sounds improbable, but I’ll go with it.”
“Come, let me take you through this magical vortex”
“OK, let me get my slippers, what are you some kind of Muppet?”

I’m not saying that this happened every day, some of it did, some of it happened only once, but all of it happened…


The gentle mist strokes the ancient Port Meadow, the sun warms the majesty of Oxford’s spires that have stood for generations with sleepy authority. Oxford is waking, the students stir, the lecturers prepare their learned scripts, and the proper people get ready for work and eat their Frosties.

Nestling amongst the millionaires of Oxford’s more exclusive suburbs is the little publishing company I used to work for. All seems quiet at the moment, but if you look closely, over there in the corner of the car park, there’s a car made up of two Datsuns, a green one, and a silver one. Shall we go and see who’s in it?

Why it’s Lizard, darling of the company, but she’s crying, shall we find out why? We tap on the window, Lizard looks up, purses her lips, tosses her head back and gives off a strangled roar. She recoils coquettishly with a giggle.

“Hello mate”
“You were crying Lizard”
“Yeah, my boyfriend’s been arrested for stealing booze from a supermarket in the Isle of Wight. Then he threw me out of the house because he wanted to sell my car so he could buy a new part for his Landrover.”
“Lizard, that happened yesterday, and the day before that, you should leave him”
“I’m going to, tonight, I’ve decided”
“You said that yesterday too”

I haven’t seen Lizard for a few years now, last time I saw her was at Jo, who’s quintessentially Steppenwolf’s, birthday. She ran up to me, gave me a hug, asked my how I was…

“Do you like my shoes?”
“I do” I hadn’t seen her in eons, I wasn’t about to diss her shoes, they were a kind of strappy sandle.
“They’re new, I bought them today, look at them” she stretched a leg out to give me a better look, I had nothing to add.
“They’re different” they weren’t that different they were the fashion of the season, and very pop…
“Oh, they’re different from each other.”
“Yeah the woman in the shop sold me one shoe from one pair and one from another pair”
“And you’re still wearing them?”
“Yeah, I’ll take them back tomorrow”

That’s Lizard. She had a great way with words, I still use one of her phrases all the time.

“I don’t want to stamp on your flower”

Shall we see if anyone else is coming? Let’s go and look down the hill. Why it’s Raver struggling in on his mountain bike. You can tell he’s nearly here, his face is like litmus paper for distance. It’s bright red so he must have reached his destination. Let’s wait by the door for him.

At the door is Christo, nobody called him Christo before he worked here, nobody called him it afterwards. But everyone knew him as Christo because our IT didn’t think to make his name Chris, or Christopher on his email address, just Christo.

He’s a lovely bloke, eccentric to the core, shy beyond belief, funnier than you can hope to imagine. During one email frenzy, where we’d spend days hammering the email server fighting each other for the next word, Christo stepped back into radio silence for twenty minutes. Suddenly amongst the melee, which had degenerated into sending emails of single characters, a message pinged through. Christo had found out how to send a question mark, an upside down question mark. He won. He once sent a Paintbox attachment of a stick man he’d drawn in freehand. I got into trouble for laughing at it so much.

Christo’s shyness was his enemy, Dark Charlie, claims he knew him only as ‘Trousers’ for the first two years because he wore trousers that just failed to go past his ankles. Christo’s greatest achievement was passing his driving test. It took at least six attempts. His greatest failure was writing off his car two days after he did it.

Oh look, here’s Raver. Morning Raver, nice rave t-shirt claret suits you.

“It’s red. And sweaty”
“Is it sweat that’s making those trousers look like orange moleskin?”
“No my trousers are orange moleskin”

Raver was a raver, full on bosh bosh bosh raver. Like the Irish cycle courier in Space. He lived for it. That and technology. He knew the internet when it was all Courier typefaces and grey backgrounds. I remember him bombing out one lunch time telling us he’d just downloaded a beta copy of some amazing new software, he was about the12th person in the world to do it. We just assumed it was something that made computers go ‘Bing!’ and ignored him.

Until we found out just how much fun Instant Messaging was.

I once walked into his office and asked him what he was doing.

“Something amazing” he said
“Are you building your own web site?”
“My own web server”

Raver was part of the company celebrity couple, Raver and Nancy. Both loved the rave, although the romance started out on a rather bad note. I was a friend of Nancy, who was in our London office, and used to exchange emails all the time. We discussed music, and she said how she loved The Rave.

“Oh yeah, Raver does too” said I
“Really, he looks like he takes cello lessons”

I told Rave, Rave emailed Nancy, they dated, lived in Rome, got engaged. But sadly the wheels fell off the relationship and they never made it down the aisle. They remain close friends.

Once, after a night of gibbering pointlessly in the pub, we were being eased to the door by the Security Buffoons. We all moved along quietly, I skipped out the door and heard a crash. Turning round I saw Raver flat on his face in the doorway. Before you could say “Whistle posse where are you?” he sprang to his feet, and to prove that he was OK, literally raved his way down the street. Sadly the healing power of raving wasn’t what we thought it might be, he’d practically broken his ankle, and couldn’t get into work for a week.

Well there goes Raver, wiping his armpits with his t-shirt.

The dull thundering bass you can hear means just one thing…. I’ve arrived. Reanult 5 1.4 silver grey with a botched homemade paintjob on the bonnet. It sounds like today’s music is the Bassbin Twins, Chemical Brothers and some early Basement Jaxx.

My car was the star. The stereo was profoundly deafening, but on nights out we’d bundle about twelve people into the back seat, pop The Goats or Lionrock in the stereo and hoon through the streets of Oxford to our post-pub venue of Jo Who’s Quintessentially Steppenwolf’s flat. It was magic.

Well, the car park’s nearly full, looks like everyone is here, ready to start a new day….

At this point you might want to start singing the tune to The Banana Splits or The Red Hand Gang if you know it.

Choo! Choo! it’s an orange 2CV filled with two ashen faces smoking roll-ups and wearing fingerless gloves and zipped up fleeces. Why it’s Jo Who’s Quintessentially Steppenwolf and Catherine.

Jo was the hub; everything flowed through her, especially after nights out in the pub. She was the matriarch of the group, at hand with the sage advice. She’d sit in the corner of her office on her ergonomically designed chair, surrounded by her belongings listening to music with intelligent lyrics. She worked harder, drank harder and smoked harder than anyone else. She could talk with adults, but still sniggered incessantly at the word ‘poo’. She knew stuff, loads of stuff.

Catherine worked with me, she was fiery but quiet. In the winter she would wear a denim miniskirt that was so stiff, when she ran up the stairs she flashed her knickers. People used to come out of their offices to watch. During the summer she would occasionally turn up in an outfit akin to a third year PE kit…


“Hang on, we haven’t even started the day”
“I know, but have you seen the length of this post?”
“I suppose so, will we get a chance to see the rest of it”
“You betcha”
“Are there other characters to meet”
“Oh yes”

Friday, January 17, 2003

The st8 of the nation, the corporate toi dissected

Meg’s been kind enough to forward the lyrics to Lavigne’s missive about her groupie ways, and I like you, think it deserves further analysis.

Firstly a technical point, “He was a skater boy, She said see you later boy” is not a rhyme, it is not even a para-rhyme, like dog and nob. It’s what is technically known in song writing parlance as The Same Word, where have you ever heard a good lyric which involves ‘rhyming’ using the same word.

I doubt at Sun Records Elvis walked in one morning and Colonel Tom Parker said: -

CTP – “Elv, you know the song you sang yesterday about the jailhouse”
Elvis – “Uh huh uh”
CTP – “You know the bit about the prison band wailing?”
Elvis – “Uh huh uh”
CTP – “Well we’ve decided to change the lyrics to: Warden threw a party in the county jail, the prison band was there in the county jail."
Elvis – “Ah wella wella wella”

Suggested alternative lyrics: - “I have deficiencies in rhyming efficiently”

OK, next bit, after she’s seen him “Rocking on MTV” “She calls up her friends, They already know, And they've all got Tickets to see his show, She tags along, Stands in the crowd, Looks up at the man that she turned down.”

Right Lavigne, get this, read between the lines love, this girl decides to pop along to his show and manages to get tickets without any notice. No queuing, phoning up, or buying from touts - the man isn’t selling out his shows, DESPITE, wall to wall MTV coverage. He’s toast, live with it.

Suggested alternative lyrics: - “She’s not res-ent-ful, coz tickets are plentiful”

Next bit: “Does your pretty face see what he's worth?” a. by your own admission she’s got a pretty face, which in my book, given what a bitch you are, means she’s gorgeous, she is conscientious enough to look after the child she’s had, to me she’s not going to go far wrong. I think it’s rather presumptuous to assume that she still pines for this bloke. As Meg quite rightly says, there was clearly nothing between them in the first place – “no shared hobbies or anything”. B. As for what he’s worth – NOTHING, he can’t sell out his shows. Loser.

Will Lavigne be by his side when he’s living in a box eating sand? Of course not.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Zulu's thousands of them

Where the bloody hell did you lot appear from? Simon’s just sent though last week’s log files and for some reason I’m experiencing unprecedented heavy flow. Sisters, I’m feeling you this week.

The search engines have caught onto my existence, I’ve enjoyed visitors looking for husbands, and whore girls who have been publicly humiliated. There’s been one too many ‘boy pee campfires’ to be comfortable and I do seem to have become rather a Mecca for Amanda Holden and Blazin’ Squad fans.

Oh, and if you’re the person looking for the Dalhousie Slut. She’s not here, you can shout and scream all you like, but you won’t find her.

This is not how I imagined it to be, I feel like Tony from Hollyoakes whose restaurant, Nosh, continues to struggle to find its intended, decidedly middle class niche, forever being riddled with the hugely beautiful vermin of Hollyoakes Tech. Tony ‘s just a poor righteous black man trying to make his way in a cruel hard world, no, hang on, that’s Spike Lee in Do The Right Thing (how eclectic am I?). But he should learn that he’s never going to win trying to drag a soap opera into mild, comfortable, stable, middle-classdom.

The gentrification of eateries is perennial theme of soap operas, there was the Dagmar in Eastenders, and the Italian restaurant the DiMarco’s ran. And, of course, the Queen Vic and Rovers Return are forever under threat from new managers upsetting the locals with modernisation programmes, which do tend to be ‘Y’know, theme nights n’that’.

My particular favourite was the posh French restaurant frequented by the Neighbours of Ramsey Street. I’m not sure you ever actually saw it, but Mike took Plain Jane Superbrain there when they finally got together, Scott took Charlene when she stopped clubbing him over the head with a wrench, then Mike took Charlene and Scott took Plain Jane Superbrain when they seamlessly exchanged partners in one episode. Then Scott broke up with Plain Jane Superbrain, and started going out with Charlene again, so they went out to celebrate. Then Plain Jane Superbrain took the bloke with the sticky out ears that she eventually married. The owners of Erinsborough’s finest French restaurant the salaciously expensive ‘Le Restaurant’ – must been loving it.

Mike only went out with Plain Jane Superbrain when she stopped being a geek. Which reeks of the same shallow materialism infesting today’s hit parade. Yeah, I’m talking to you Avril Lavigne you evil 17-year-old Canadian scumpoprock slag. According to her new single ‘Sk8r Boi’ there’s a girl who dumps her boyfriend because he was a, wait for it, Skater Boy (sorry, Sk8r Boi) because her friends thought he was a loser with his baggy jeans and skateboard. Years later that girl is up the duff with a child and sees the boy “Rocking on MTV”, then we find out in verse three that Avril herself has become Sk8t Boi’s girlfriend. Oh how that girl regrets her past now…

Right, get this Lavigne: -

1. Rocking on MTV” is not the sign of successful teenage rebellion Avril you devil puppet whore
2. This girl has a baby, and is struggling to make ends meet, and you’re gloating because the boy she loved and gave up because of teenage peer pressure has gone on to achieve success.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Smashing darts

If Jaggerfee is a microcosm of life with the bad bits taken out, Darts is an analogy of life itself. Men physically unprepared for success, taking on improbable odds at hitting a target just too small and far away for them to reach. Work with me on this.

The conclusion of the World Darts Championships last night saw Raymond “Barney” Barneveld once again take the title from Ronnie “Lambchop” Baxter. The final was a rather mundane affair to be told. Barney’s smooth metronomic style rode roughshod over Lambchop’s more stuttering oeuvre. Though he made a good fist of it, Lambchop simply expended too much energy struggling to stay with Barney after the saggy Dutchman ran away with those crucial opening sets.

Don’t diss darts, it’s a modern game. Gone are the days where games were called off because the cigarette smoke meant you couldn’t see the board from the oche (the bit where you stand). No longer do the players consume gallons of beer during matches. Self styled Milk Bar Kid Keith Deller put paid to that tradition. It’s a modern cutting edge game for modern cutting edge people.

A number of years back there was a split in ranks of world darts. The well known names, Enfant Terrible Eric Bristow, Jockie Wilson, John Lowe et al deserted the Embassy World Darts Championships for the more lucrative climes of Sky Television. The Embassy, as it was known to those in the know, was in crisis.

The response was to invoke more razzamatazz into The Championships. Go-go girls entertain the crowd between matches, the players enter the arena wearing costumes suited to their fearsome nicknames, though sadly Ronnie failed to appear dressed as a sheep. Players have glamorous wives, ‘if it’s not shiny, I’m not wearing it’ and galleons of gold jewellery from Argos. They even have intro music; the squabbles over who got Simply The Best must have been fierce. The crowd dress as their favourite character and wave signs with subtle puns like “Mine’s A Double”. This year the BBC employed a high resolution slo-mo camera to capture the flight of crucial ‘Arras’ (arrows for you in the posh seats). They’ve even employed sound effects giving a sense of drama to that final double or the big 180.


But when the serious business begins, it’s back to the traditions. The players strip off their costumes to reveal their shiny shirts with their names on the back and we’re back in safe territory again.

"LET'S PLAY DARTS" fanfare's the MC and crowd in unison.

My particular favourite tradition is the three old ladies, dressed like they’ve been waiting for an interview at Pontins since 1956. They sit there with huge bits of paper keeping score (“Computers haven’t got to darts yet” said the commentator yesterday). It’s very quaint, and I’m sure they take huge pride in what they’re doing, but what I don’t quite understand is why it needs three of them. It might be to cover each other for toilet breaks I suppose, or maybe its just for safety.

“Maureen, remind me, what’s three seventeens again?”
“Oh I don’t know Maud, I’ll ask Joan….”

Sunday, January 12, 2003

My torrid affairs

Embarrassment is a mistress who stalks me constantly, she sneaks around, sits on the back seat of my car, lives down the back of my settee, and just when I’m at my most unsuspecting she’ll jump out, tap me on the shoulder and run round the other side.

“Wha..? Oh bugger it’s you.”

I was once talking to a very senior academic on the phone. I asked him whether he could get anything to me by the end of the week because I was going on holiday. As the conversation drew to a close, I dropped into autopilot to sign off.

“Have a good holiday” he said
“And you” Said I

Except of course, he wasn’t going on holiday, I was.

“Wha…? Oh bugger it’s you.”

When my mistress springs me I let out an involuntary, and very audible groan at the sheer humiliation of reliving the scene. This is, of course, is self-perpetuating, because an audible groan on a crowded tube train is an embarrassment in itself. I have come to the conclusion that the only way around this is to relive your embarrassments over and over in order to keep them in your sights.

Last Saturday before Oxford’s disappointingly anodyne and rudimentary defeat by Arsenal, I took the opportunity to steam through a few record shops searching for some groovy records. One shop I dropped into was Vinyl Junkies on Berwick Street, it’s a shop run by impossibly fashionable and beautiful people. If it was a clothes shop, I wouldn’t dream of walking in, but I’ve been buying records for a long time and I’m just about brave enough to go into these shops without a blink.

Seeing a record I’ve been trying to find for a while, I made for the cash desk. The copy I’d taken from the box was rather battered, the bloke who served me went over to the shelves behind him and pulled a brand new, shrink wrapped copy for me to have. He held it up as if to say, “Do you want a new copy”. I acknowledged him with a thumbs up.

I looked like I was “We Are The Champions” Though I wasn’t wearing a brown t-shirt with a yellow triangle on it, and I didn’t come from Ryedale Comprehensive. What’s more, the bags with my earlier purchases were wrapped around my wrists; I was wearing my bright shiny yellow Oxford shirt, a yellow Oxford scarf and my big coat to protect me from the frost. I looked like exactly what I was, a country bumpkin, naively enjoying the bumptious delights of The Big City. He probably wondered where my smock was, and where I’d parked my Combine Harvester. The whole episode wouldn’t have bothered me, had the bloke not been so visibly taken aback, smirking as he put my card through the till. The embarrassment slowly enveloped me as I made my way to Highbury.

On the way home on the train, without warning my mistress sat next to me, unexpectedly jumping out to relive the episode in the shop. I tossed my head back but managed to restrain the groan. I applied the antidote of reliving the moment, though not in my head as I had planned, my thumb sprang up eagerly in acknowledgement of the back of the seat in front. That done, I managed to convince myself that the thumbs up gesture was not a daft and uncool thing to do in a hopelessly cool retail establishment. At once she was gone.

She was back again once I got into the car and remembered the faces of the women standing on the train staring at me, with a mixture of fear and sympathy, perplexed as to why I was giving a hearty thumbs up to an empty can of Pepsi, whilst smiling to myself with smug satisfaction.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Jaggerfee part 2 - Jo's story

Forged in the fearsome torrent of the stream next to Asda is a friendship which has lasted 13 years and is still as strong as it ever was. Australia Jo and Katie remain two of my closest friends even though they choose to live 22,000 miles from my doorstep. Everyone had a favourite Jaggerfee moment, Katie’s story is really the Battle of the Raging Torrent, Jo’s lore is still to be told. What I’ll do is exchange Jo’s favourite Jaggerfee story, with mine.

Mine first, sometimes a passage of life drops into a groove that everyone can mainline. Out comes a rich pageant of noise and colour and happiness. Watch out for these moments, they’re pretty rare. At Jo’s birthday in the summer, Jo and Katie were back from Australia for Penny’s wedding, we’d not seen them in over a year, but without a moment to check our step, we were all in a restaurant talking rubbish, laughing hysterically bouncing ideas and thoughts and memories around. Or as Simon puts it…

“Ten people, sixteen conversations”

You can’t document it, or describe it; it just slips off into history. You remember everything, but you couldn’t retell it if you tried. During one Jaggerfee lesson with Dougie Humph we were all split into groups to discuss the ins and outs of something earnest and valuable. The girls, including Jo and Katie split into one group, the boys, me and Grahame and Daniel went into another. There was a third, but my memory of them is simply as faceless beings. I don’t remember them as people at all. Shame on me.

Discussions at an end, conclusions reached, Dougie asked who wanted to go first. “I will” I said getting from my seat. In a second Jo was on her feet “No, I will” she said. Without a blink or a word we both dropped into the groove. “I WILL” I said with mock annoyance. “No” said Jo mustering her best drama school acting “I WILL”.

Both on our feet, the next thing was to move, so we met, in the middle of the classroom. “I WILL” I said, Jo pursed her lips “I WILL” she spat. I offered to take it outside, she accepted and we made for the door eyeball to eyeball, two inches apart. Suddenly we were being forced apart by something jabbing in our stomachs, Dougie Humph, all 5 ft 4 inches of him was wrestling between us. “Take it easy” he said defusing the tension.

So we did, and the third group went first. I look back on that moment with fond memories; it was such a folly, such a pointless ridiculous thing to do. But without any planning or thought we acted out an unscripted comic scene for the benefit of nobody but ourselves. What Jo would describe as “Silly”.

Jo’s favourite story was very much scripted. Our case study was The Yangtze River in China that floods annually and destroys crops and homes of people barely able to eat. Our task was to construct reportage of what life was like when the Yangtze flooded.

Me, Grahame, Daniel, and David grouped together and purloined the video camera to construct a Newsround report for children. After much pre-production talk, it was obvious what we had to do first. We set up a studio in one of the classrooms and filmed Daniel as Phillip Schofield with Gordon The Gopher – made from David’s sock – introducing Newsround.

Following this was the report itself. We walked down to a ditch at the end of the playing fields which was to be the Yangtze. Daniel filmed whilst I interviewed, Grahame was “translator”, and David played “Chinese boy whose family have been decimated by flood”.

The premise was simple. I would ask a question in English, Grahame would spend 10 minutes relaying the question in mock Chinese to David. David, kneeling on his shoes to appear like a small boy, would reply in a squawky mock Chinese. Grahame would translate it into English, and I would nod. Each question would take 20 minutes to complete.

There were added nuances. David would sometimes spend 15 minutes gabbling an answer, which Grahame would translate as “No”. Sometimes he would be monosyllabic, and Grahame would embark on a 15 minute monologue translating David’s feelings. It was a one trick pony, but what a trick.

We didn’t get very far, it was so funny David could barely complete a single Chinese sentence without breaking down. The video camera shakes from Daniel laughing. At one point David disappears around the corner because he can’t handle it, and returns with a wee stain on his trousers. “I’ve wet myself” he says.

When we played the half finished masterpiece back to the class, it had the intended effect. It met the brief perfectly, so Dougie couldn’t say anything, when I looked over to Jo, her face was purple with laughter, tears streamed down her cheeks. Her laughs was fighting so fiercely to get out she was gagging on the hilarity.

She still asks me today whether I’ve got the video. Sadly Dougie took it, and perhaps watches it with a smile.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Jaggerfee part 1

If universities chose to fashion a degree course for slapstick comedy, they’d do well to look at an A Level Geography syllabus before doing anything else.

A’ Level Geography is a microcosm of life with the bad bits taken out. It’s all about standing in puddles, falling in mud and seeing ageing films of African tribeswomen with no tops on, (PHWOAR if you’re 17, and socially inadequate).

At my school Dougie Humph taught Geography, he’s the only teacher I remember because he was a minor celebrity. For one, he pronounced it “Jaggerfee” like he was announcing the name of a fiendish ghoul lurking in the depths of Hogwarts. This added a certain drama to the principles of bank full rivers and renewable forests. He was regularly in the local paper because of he played rugby for Chinnor in Thame (don’t ask, it’s all mere details). Dougie was also head of fifth year, and just to prove that ambition has a downside, it was him who taught a class of 15 year of boys the importance of cleaning under the foreskin with a cotton bud. Dougie also had an innate talent for story telling. Everyone remembers one story in particular, though nobody remembers the point of it, it was the story of Jackie Paper. Now if I think really hard I might remember it. Here goes… nope, it’s gone. I suspect every year his wife would give him his briefcase one morning, and say.

“So Dougie, what have you planned for today”
“Well my love I’m teaching Jaggerfee” he’d say “then I thought I’d tell them the story of Jackie Paper”
“Lovely, now remind me, how does that go again?”

It involved tearing a piece of paper into the shape of a man; there was a moral in there somewhere. But, enough, this isn’t the story of Dougie, this is the story of JAGGERFEE (Part 1).

One early assignment was a major project of our choosing. Katie decided on measuring the profile of a river down by the local Asda. Australia Jo and myself happily volunteered to help. Measuring a river is fairly simple. You move across the channel in the vehicle of your choice (wellys, waders, small yacht) and at regular intervals you drop a line and measure its depth. The stats are put onto graph paper and the profile of the river revealed. There are reasons for doing this, but I’m not going to tell you them here. The river at Asda was fairly deep, beyond wellies deep and Katie’s not very tall, so it was best that we found something she could float on. Thankfully one of our class, Arch Lesbian Rachel, said her parents owned a small inflatable boat we could use. It was perfect, Katie was to paddle across the channel, whilst Jo and I ate sandwiches, jotting down her findings. The problem was, when we got to the river, the channel was a torrent of white water, the current was so foreboding and dangerous there were cows being washed down stream. There was no way Katie could steady the boat to take the measurements. So we got a piece of string…

Yes, string.

…from the back of Katie’s brown Vauxhall Cavalier (on loan from her parents). The aim was to paddle across the river, with the piece of string, and, after successfully traversing the river once, I would hold one end, Jo the other and Katie would then return across the channel using the string to steady herself whilst taking the important measurements. Right, where’s the boat.

Oh yes, the boat or “boat”. It was a one man blow up dingy with anchors and ropes painted on the side. It wasn’t suitable for a choppy swimming pool, let along an angry beast of a river hungry to devour the limbs of those who dared pass. It was designed specifically for fat old ladies to sunbathe on whilst they bobbed over the gentle seas of Magaluf attaining 3rd degree burns. It was not for Geography fieldtrips to a river by Asda.

We gave it a shot anyway. Katie set off in a fairly circular fashion due to there being only one paddle. The boat buckled and distorted and deflated and filled with water. This was really noticeable only when she was equidistant from both banks, at the deepest part of the channel. She drifted with the current so by the time she was within reaching distance of Jo; she was also within reaching distance of 800 square miles of stinging nettles. Somehow Katie had to get back up stream. I began tugging from the other side of the bank and she started drifting back to the middle of the channel. Time and time again we battled to dock her. Jo getting progressively further into the river whilst trying to reach the periled damson. I was on the other bank drawing every last ounce of my strength to get her back on track, screaming for the villagers to help with the rescue.

Gosh, this is more exciting than I remember it.

Katie was helpless, the boat was little more than an inch above the water. It lapped over the edge with every rise. Would she ever make it ashore?

Of course she did, she was soaked above her wellies, but she made it. The string was successfully straddling the river. Though not taught and proud like we had envisaged, it dangled, limply surrendering to the surge. To get her bank profile, all she had to do was return, measuring at regular intervals. But the poor mite was sopping. You just wanted to sweep her up and put her in front of a big fire with some cocoa. And so did Katie, that’s why she asked someone else to make the return journey for her.

It had to be Jo, I was too big, and anyway, Katie promised to help Jo with her perilous project of a traffic survey or some such (technical methodology: - pick a sunny day, buy lollipops, count cars). Even at the age of 29 Jo’s like an eager puppy full of energy and willing to please, at 17 she was more so. If we’d thrown a stick, she’d have run straight in. She was on for it, how bad could it be? It all happened again, in reverse. The boat deflated, Jo drifted down stream, the string was a hindrance not a help. She had one hand on the paddle, one hand on the sting and one hand on the measuring stick. I.e. not enough hands. She did, eventually, make it across the channel with some kind of measurements screamed over the deafening torrent. She was wet, cold, and no closer to passing her Geography A’ Level. But we had beaten the river.

If Katie had actually used the stats, I suspect she would have mapped something akin to the New York skyline rather than the bank of the local river by Asda. Instead I believe she did what we all did, made them up.

There’s more Jaggerfee stories, but you’ll have to wait for them.

Monday, January 06, 2003

New Year revolution

In the past only once have I successfully sustained a New Year’s resolution. This, I guess is to be applauded as its one more than most people manage. Unfortunately it was a resolution to sit in a more camp, yet intelligent way. No more of your ‘groin out’ legs wide open for me, but a more insular, sensitive position with my legs crossed like a lady. This, I figure, will be good for when I want to sit outside coffee shops in a duffle coat and cords reading a small tatty second hand novel. I sit like it all the time, even at 5-a-side.

This year I had none planned, but over the period of the last five days I have adopted three to work on over the next twelve months.

Resolution number 1: Improved punctuality - I am not an inherently unpunctual person; I have never overslept for anything in my life. But I do tend to plan my journeys without allowing for delays. Most mornings I won’t leave the house until the absolute minute I’m scheduled to leave, even if that means watching a Pot Noodle advert in my coat. Subsequently I am usually not-quite-so-late-you-could-comment-on-it-late for everything. Instead I am going to leave for my destination when I’m ready and build in a little slack when planning my journeys. This resolution does not include appointments I have jointly with Emma, we are cripplingly late for everything I see no solution to that particular problem.

Resolution number 2: - Gregariousness - My family came late to the concept of cheek-kissing as a valid plutonic greeting, perhaps we thought it would make us pregnant. I have always been rather reticent towards the practice myself. It’s not helped by being tall, because that means descending for a greeting is far more of a sweeping and obvious movement than the simple tippy toes elevation of the average build or halfling. It’s a long way to travel if your intended target is planning a quick dash to safety through your legs. I have never been rebuffed from such a greeting, nor has anyone I know, so from now on I shall aim to have less reticence towards the whole cheek-kissing thing.

Don’t panic ladies, I don’t plan to start that whole overly physical “LOOK I’M WITH A REAL GIRL” type greeting, nor shall I become the salacious nasty who steadies his descent with a hand on the backside and a thumb in the g-string, pulling away with a snap on completion. Nope, I’m just going to be easier going about the whole thing. Beware.

Resolution number 3: - Eat fruit – Both my sisters have lost weight through the art of eating fruit. Watching Annia devour a table of dips, and yet still be a quarter of the size she was has proved to me that the consumption of fruit is absolutely the best way to get back to the shape I was a many years ago when I was largely irresistible to domesticated animals.

So there they are, watch me fail.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Tomorrow the sky will fall on our heads, but tomorrow never comes

So says the great Gaulish chieftain leader Vitalstatistix. Time is a social construct that provides us with a framework around which we can lead our lives without having to resort to total anarchy or self-subsistence, so lets remind ourselves that celebrating New Year, is an excuse to party but and no more.

Penny’s hair party went royally ‘off’. I was quite proud of the capacious afro purloined for me by Simon but was royally usurped by two even more substantive ‘fros which enjoyed clear height of about 4 feet. In addition to the ‘fro-o-rama was Simon’s Charles the first cum 1970’s NY pimp chic, Mike’s demonic David Seaman, complete with ‘tache and Andrew’s blonde ‘Scott from Neighbours’ mullet, this was the most terrifying of all because if you’d never met him before you’d have gone away thinking ‘bad haircut’ rather than ‘bad wig’.

My desire to go ‘fro was inspired by George Berry, a Wolverhampton Wanderers left back during the 70’s. His ‘fro was immense, you suspect that during training they’d practice free-kick and corner routines by gently flicking the ball into his hair and letting him trot off unabated into the goal, as defender pleaded ‘Hairball!’ to the referee. George’s ‘fro was so large that it was said many people, when they met him for the first time were shocked to find that his ‘fro was immaculately spherical and not, as they had imagined, cubed. The reason for the confusion? His ‘fro was so big that precious few pictures of him managed to get the whole hair do into the frame.

A rare good New Year, except for a hangover so bad it caused a paradigm shift in drinking aftermath history and of course, it means work tomorrow, boo.

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