Thursday, February 27, 2003

The woman at work

I stood aghast as she bounded round the room, slightly hunched shouting "I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!", at a flick she changed, adopting a slight baritone, swaying like a penguin waiting in line for the toilet.

"Yes Mrs Patterson, no Mrs Patterson"

Then she changed again "Loadsamoney!" she hollared. Each change inflicted me with a startled blink as I stood rigid awaiting the end of the performance.

On and on it went, Tim Nice But Dim, Nicey and Smashy, the randy wobbly old ladies, Wayne and Waynetta Slob.

So complicit and long was the show, I didn't have the heart to tell her is was actually Harry Hill that we went to see last night.

Monday, February 24, 2003

We in um big smoke

Paris was great, and I'll tell you all about it in good time. To set the scene, let me tell you how me and Emma 'do' cities.

Rather than plan our sightseeing, soullessly ticking off from a list of must-sees we tend to wander the streets aiming for points of interest but en route taking in the quirky, interesting bits the guidebooks don't tell you about. We have a neat division of labour in order to do this. I do the days and Emma does the nights.

As peachy as this sounds, it is not without it's drawbacks. For one, my day plans, dubbed "Scott Walking Tours" - hilarious if my name was something like Scott Walkinshaw and not Justin Ruffles - tend to be rather badly paced. The first day is usually an epic, in New York we did nine different sights on day one, finishing with a walk from Time Square to Greenwich Village down Broadway - a very long way indeed. Mind you we did pass a man in immaculate tennis whites saying to nobody in particular that he was going to get "Some Jewboy Lawyer and sue the ass off you". I'm rather proud of my walking tours, but they don't half give you sore feet.

When we go out to eat, Emma fails to factor in the need to eat as part of the excursion. To her as long as we find a restaurant before it closes we're successful. In Boston we walked past about 30 perfectly good restaurants and, as everything began to close up, we ended up having to go to one which served up a tennis ball sized meatball on spaghetti which was frozen in the middle. Emma's biggest problem though is her disregard for the long established benefits of using a map. She has got better, now she is charmingly useless at map reading, and it's all a bit of a laugh. She was "Fucking useless" in Scotland a few year's ago when we drove from Edinburgh to the west coast after a night at the Festival. Whilst she slept I drove for an hour on the motorway, eventually I indicated to turn off at the designated junction. Suddenly she woke up and shouted "NOT HERE", at which point I swerved back onto the motorway and had to drive a further twenty miles, including over a toll bridge before we were able to turn round.

On our first night in Paris, having arrived a mere 90 minutes earlier, we set off for something to eat. We passed numerous restaurants (plumping for one two minutes from the hotel in the end), more importantly, Emma didn't think it was necessary to bring a map of this city neither of us had previously visited with us. After the meal we used Emma's bat like radar to find our way back, so we wandered the streets lost for hours though we were always about a minute from the hotel.

It came to a head on Sunday, we had headed south to rue de Mouffetard a boho enclave full of students and second hand bookshops. After that it was time to head home, and so we needed to head for Gare du Nord. With Emma's legendary sense of direction she suggested we walked back to give us some time to muse over what a good weekend it had been. I think this may illustrate her poor sense of direction, here's the route we'd have had to taken...

North up rue Mouffetard, right onto rue Ortolan, left onto Rue Monge, to St Julien le Pauvre, over the Seine and in front of Notre Dame, left onto Rue De Cloutre Notre Dame, right onto rue de la cite, over porte notre dame, left onto Quai De La Megisserie, right onto rue du pont neuf, right onto rue berger, left onto Boulevard De Sebastopol, left onto rue Reaumur, right onto rue montoguiel, north onto rue Poissonere, north onto rue Du Faubourg Poissonierre, right onto Rue La Fayette, and finally left onto rue de dunkerque.

We're great wanderers, but we're not that great. I illustrated the epic journey on the map using my finger to point the way, singing the theme to bod. We then had to find a toilet, because Emma nearly wet herself laughing.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Play along at home

Clearly the most important post this site has ever had, here's the Ruffles' and Emma Brit awards predictions....

British Male Solo Artist: Hmm, it probably should go to The Streets, and Badly Drawn Boy has got to fancy his chances because of his Celebrity Lig. But I'm going with a politically correct Craig David vote. Emma goes with... Craig David too!

British Female Solo Artist: Beth Orton is a personal favourite, but being white and middle class, like the judging panel, I'm going with Ms Dynamite. Emma goes with Ms Dynamite too!

British Group: Surely an absolute banker, Coldplay, Emma agrees.

British Album: A good night for the Coldplay boys, A Rush of Blood to the Head - Coldplay, and for in a momentus moment, Emma has agreed with me on four things in a row

British Single: Tricky, this is an ITV programme, so they'll probably have something crass like a phone vote on this one, but Just A Little - Liberty X is the best song by a country mile. And guess what Emma agrees with that one as well.

British Urban: Whilst I don't know what Urban music is, except it seems to be black music which can be sung by white people too. It's another Ms Dynamite vote.

British Dance Act: Not dance, but there has to be a token award for the Sugababes, Emma's considered view is much the same.

British Breakthrough Act: For the sake of those "It was Ms Dynamite's night at the Brits this year" 10 O'clock News lines, We're going with... Will Young.... no Ms Dynamite.

Pop Act: An adbject set of nominations but for some gibbon antics from those bad lads, we're both going with Blue. So far we've agreed on nine nominations in a row, can it last?

International Male Solo Artist: Answer: No. I'm pushing the boat out here, I going to go with Nelly, whereas Emma is going with the populist Eminem. Tricky category, but it has to be one of the two.

International Female Solo Artist: Disagreements ahoy! I can't help think that perhaps I'm starting to go with my taste rather than who I think will win. I go Alicia Keys, Emma's gone Pink (must be all the vitamins she's been taking).

International Group: It's getting hot in herre, more disagreements, it's clearly the international categories that is going to dictate the bragging rights. I'm going with the Foo Fighters, and I'm pretty confident too. Emma's gone with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, is she mad?

International Album: A resbite from all the arguing, we both go with Eminem - The Eminem Show on this one.

International Breakthrough Artist: And finally, is this a reason to walk out the door now, I'm going with Nickleback SHE, is going with Avril La bloody vigne. Does she do these things just to hurt me?

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Happy birthday mum (and our house)

It's my mum's birthday today, happy birthday mother. Selecting a card was an absolute bugger. They seem to divide into three very distinct types: -

The flower and gold embossing type: - this is the kind of card your granny absolutely loves. A dainty flower painted in simpering watercolours, with a gold embossed Happy Birthday in curly wurly writing. This is fine for the pre-war granny who appreciates dainty pretties, manly men who look after them, and cups of tea from china cups. This is not for the altogether more modern granny my mum is. My mum's a career granny, a fleecy jackets granny, a 'doesn't need driving gloves' granny. She drinks tea from a mug, she wouldn't appreciate such pithyness.

The ones about alcohol: - an overwhelming majority of cards are all about going out and getting pissed. Mum's, you hope, don't get drunk and they certainly don't desire to get drunk. They stay demure and caring, not loud and leery. If a mum does get drunk, she should be like a bad amateur dramatics actor, slurring slightly and feeling a little dizzy, but no more.

The ones about sex: - no, not my mum, no.

She got a Bob The Builder card with a badge attached, though it'll probably get to her tomorrow.

We've also been on the property ladder for exactly four years. It's amazing how much DIY damage you can do in that time.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Evil scare mondering witchcraft in a bundle of light entertainment

I know I talk about the telly a lot, I do actually do other things, we're even off to Paris this weekend (though I must remember to record my favourite programmes) anyway, I've just got to tell you this. I happened to catch a bit of Richard and Judy today; we managed to turn over to catch Richard mid-sentence...

(Holding some gaffer tape) "... And so if I put this over the doors and windows, it will protect me?"

Seemed like an odd conversation. Then Judy interjected.

"And of course, there's this, which is not so popular in this country but is big in America"

They showed a picture of a tent. Popular, almost without doubt, in all countries.

"...An inflatable panic room"

Richard and Judy were giving the OAP and housewife guide to nuclear attack. They were being helped out by a couple of experts, one of whom ended the item holding up his 'How to survive biological warfare" book.

The tubby balding bloke told us that biological, and chemical particles are heavier than air. Richard made sure the point he was trying to make was quite clear.

"So, if there's a nuclear attack, we should move upstairs?"

By this point I was screaming at the TV, "Madeley, I suggest YOU move upstairs, because when Armageddon comes, I'm going to get him my car, find you, and batter you over the head with a hammer."

The second expert advised that we should prepare for "Imminent attack". Richard again did one of those patronising clarifications.

"So, your sources suggest there is an attack imminent"
"The government have said that an attack could come at any time."

There is a vast difference between an attack that is imminent, and an attack that could come at any time. Not that Richard and Judy were prepared to make that clear, they were all moving upstairs in preparation for nuclear assault.

Having roundly scared the infirm and sensitive shitless, Judy gave a simpering smile and introduced a women from Pet Rescue.

Thinking about it, what use is an inflatable panic room? One assumes a panic room is for the purpose of seeking safe refuge in your house in the event of attack. If your house is anything like mine it'll be...

"Quick inflate the panic room"
"Where's the foot pump?"
"It's in the cupboard under the stairs"
"Here it is, why's it in the wash basket"
"You must have put it there"
"Oh right, it's obviously me, there's no chance of YOU doing it"
"Start pumping"
"I'm going as fast as I can, my leg aches"
"It's no good, quick upstairs, it's safer up there"
"OK, oh, we don't appear to have an upstairs anymore"
"And look, my hand's rotting off"

Monday, February 17, 2003

It wasn't like that in the Cubs

Mike, Juliette's boyfriend, was on the stupid BBC2 reality show, SAS Jungle - Are You Tough Enough last night. Apparently this makes him one of the 24 fittest people in the country. In order to sort out who was tough enough to find our whether they were tough enough to do SAS jungle training in Borneo, the competitors had to run up Snowdonia twice whilst carrying a pack which was the equivalent of their own body weight. Which sounds pretty tough.

Mike got through. He was (and still is, it's not that tough) the Australian tennis coach with the cheeky grin. He made it to day 3 of the 16, which doesn't seem a lot, but six people still fell before he did.

Mike opened the show up by being told off by Sergeant Corporal Shoutalot, for grinning and laughing. It didn't seem fair, a. that was his normal face, and b. he's Australian, he's got a lot to laugh about. Following lots of generic shots of soldiers shouting and walking through rivers, he was then seen, through the benefit of night-sight cameras, close to tears because he'd been told off about a pencil. The big whoopsy.

It wasn't long before we saw him again, this time making noises like a bullfrog, retching bile and gas into the jungle flora. He was finally pulled out when his heart rate reached 200 bpm. some 80% faster than a fit person doing regular rigorous exercise. This was described by the Doctor as "Unsustainable" and at the same time something that "His body is quite capable of coping with". In other words, his heart could quite easily beat at 200bpm, the only consequence being that it would kill him.

Presenter Dermot O'Leary, evidently helicoptered in every morning, looking perma-buffed with a little knapsack of his sandwiches on his back, gave Mike his final interview. Mike stared vacantly at the floor and swayed. He mumbled something about having taken on board too much water causing his blood to thin. "Me mind is still sharp, but me body's gone" he said.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Caught by the fuzz

My driving 'thing' used to be accidents, a while back, I had three accidents in three years, though none were my fault. Honest.

The first one, I was driving through Thame and a council van pulled out from a junction straight into me. The second one was a year later, a truck ran into the back of me whilst I waited to turn right at a junction.

Under its plush exterior, my Renault 5 was held together with string and rust. Every bump required half the car to be rebuilt. So I had to shell out for the rust to be repaired, in order for the accident damage to be sorted out. Which didn't seem fair.

My third accident happened on a very bad day. I was driving home after Oxford had been beaten 7-1 at home by Birmingham. A Birmingham fan came onto a roundabout on my inside, and then tried to turn left, driving right through me. I was in the all Terrain Polo (ATP).

This began a long battle with my shitbag insurers Admiral. They got Doug Drewitt to do the repair work. The courtesy car I got as part of the deal got a flat tyre, and I found that I had an illegally bald spare. I asked Drewitt to make my car legal, they did, except when I picked up the ATP they put £60 on the bill. I said I wasn't supposed to be paying it. The receptionist, in what was not a rehearsed or threatening move. Phoned their workshop saying "the gentleman in reception has a dispute about his bill", two second later an oily gorrila holding a wrench came through to help me with my query.

Of course, I didn't read this as threatening, but suddenly I saw their side of the dispute. I paid for the repairs they did to the car they had supplied with the illegal tyres. When I questioned it with Admiral, they were deaf to my pleas. Well, for the sake of a £60 refund, I have taken well over £1000 in insurance premiums elsewhere.

On this evidence, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Admiral and Doug Drewitt to take care of all your insurance and auto repair needs.

I thought I was destined to have an annual accident forevermore. But accidents aren't my 'Thing' anymore. Speeding is my driving thing. I've been done for the second time in just over a year. Both times I consider myself rather unfortunate. I'm not a mental driver, I'm no saint, but I'm quite placid, in fact I didn't overtake a single vehicle throughout any time I was learning (in fact, I once overran on a lesson following a tractor I was too scared to overtake).

The first time I was caught was on the Wendover by-pass, it has an inviting camber so even during rush hour it's possible to do over 60mph. I was driving to college for a meeting, the road was empty. I drove down and saw a beaten up van parked on the side of the road. hidden behind it was a camera. PING! I was done. A day later the government announced they were going to stop hiding speed cameras and give people more warning.

Last week I was going down the London Road in Wycombe, a road which has loads of 30 and 40mph speed limit zones. I got mixed up and ended up going 40 in a 30.

PING! they got me again.

On top of this, this morning I inadvertently did my first shoplift. I took a Tesco Online CD, which I thought was free, but actually has a cover price of 50p.

Book him Danno, Murder One.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Drama at the Starrdome

The benefits of sixth form were great, for one we had our own snack bar. The Buttery served burgers made of meat freshly sandblasted off the bone of unidentified animals some time during the previous ten years. It also served Cannonballs, densely packed rice crispy cakes bound with chocolate and some kind of sugary glutinous substance. Mmmm, everyone loved Cannonballs.

The greatest luxury of all was Private Study. PS was an opportunity to catch up on the beastly workload of A' Levels, except everyone used it to nick down the estate for a fag, pop off to the pub for a pint, slip home for sex with their girlfriends, or, if you were me and my friends, go down to the library and make Wrestling posters.

Our wrestling obsession grew into a sixth form phenomena. At first we just found it ironically hilarious, laughing at Randy "The Macho Man" Savage's posing. However, when we weren't allowed to play football in the exclusive sixth form garden because a couple of people had lost cannonballs after they were hit by wayward balls we invented Beach Frisbee, a hybrid of Frisbee, tennis, and the Macho Man's posing. Andrew Noax, the hapless child with the catalogue anorak and the chronic asthma was umpire, he would announce 'The Posedown', when we would drop the Frisbee and pose like the Macho Man... the best posedown won a point for his team.

Beach Frisbee became huge. Me, Wiggaz, Choggaz, Adrian The Woman, The Fat Robs, Pukey Magic Boots, Noax, Glidder, Snoz Starr, Dick Dangle and all the others played every break. Beach Frisbee’s wrestling connections meant people got interested in WWF. Coincidently by winter Snoz Starr's parents got Sky meaning he could video the wrestling every Sunday. We'd pass the tape around but it wasn't long before we couldn't get the tape around everyone who wanted it.

That's when we launched Wrestling Club.

Our interest coincided with the golden age of Wrestling. Things were changing in the WWF, traditionally throughout the season the WWF would tour the trailer trash capitals of America and the big names would, night after night, beat the living shit out of an unknown wrestler in plain trunks. Throughout the year, feuds and grudges would develop between the big names and at the big Pay Per View events, the big names would meet up to settle their brewing beef. Predictably the good guys would beat the bad guys and at the end of each event America's favourite Hulk Hogan would win the world crown. Again.

The three premier events were The Royal Rumble, with its 32 man cage match... one man added every two minutes, last man standing wins. Then there was Summerslam, the mid-season meet up. And finally, the world championships, Wrestlemania.

What happened was in 1989 a wild wrestler with cool make up and tassels tied to his legs and arms emerged. He had a sneering speed metal signature tune, and would enter the arena by sprinting at full pelt, jumping onto the ring apron, grabbing the top rope and shaking it with all his might.



Ultimate Warrior.

According to Wiggaz' Ultimate Warrior mug, he came from "Parts Unknown", he was wild and I was transfixed. He straddled the chasm between good and bad, a complete opposite to the perennial saccharine World Champion Hogan. A man who would urge his little Hulkamaniacs to "Say their prayers and take their vitamins" before they went to bed. Vomitus Maximus. Ultimate Warrior was a 90's wrestler.

Hulk had been world champion for years. To keep up interest they invented the Intercontinental Title for the tour's second favourite wrestler. The two title holders would never meet because that meant pitching good versus good, and American's can't compute this kind of thing. The Federation couldn't ignore what was happening though. Ultimate Warrior was becoming more popular than Hulk Hogan, how long would it be before they would buckle to public pressure and let The Warrior battle The Hulkster for the title?

When the announcement came that Hogan and Warrior would finally meet at Wrestlemania VI, Wrestling Club was at its peak. It was Regularly attended by 50-60 people every week. We promoted this ultimate match up with a high profile campaign which even had the Head of Sixth form mimicking the Warrior rope shake in assembly. We watched the whole thing live at Snoz Starr's house, the next morning we took the tape into school.

120 people packed out Wrestling club. We knew it was the end because it would never be bettered. But it didn't need to be bettered, the bout took twenty three minutes and fifty four seconds, five times longer any other match on the bill.

It had been the bill of dreams, Demolition, the best tag team in the world had successfully defended their title from the Colossal Connection. Rowdy Roddy Piper, the Scottish Wrestler, and Bad News Brown knocked each other out in a brawl over a beef that had been brewing for an age, Dusty Rhodes, with the beautiful Miss Elizabeth in his corner pinned Macho Man Randy Savage. Except when Miss Elizabeth saw the pain the Macho Man was in she stayed to tend his brow... they married at Summerslam a few months later. I barely remember Ravishing Rick Rude's destruction of Superfly Jimmy Snuka.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Banana drama

On Friday the Daily Mail ran a headline on their front page that read, “What became of the couples who went on Channel 4’s Wife Swop”.

I’m no expert, but my publishing chums reliably inform me that the front page headline of a national daily is not where you want to put a typographical error. Not that your average Daily Mail reader would notice this of course, they’re too busy seething about the immigrants and the paedophiles and the EU and pretending that the Daily Mail is a small Daily Telegraph, and not The Sun with a fancy typeface.

Not so long ago the EU put out a press release saying that they were planning to conform the bendiness of bananas throughout Europe. In fact they would become, to all intent and purpose, straight. The Daylee Mayul readers were incensed. I found out today the whole campaign was in fact somewhat of a smokescreen.

Britain’s favourite fruit is the banana, and so voracious is our appetite for them that should demand increase exponentially over the next 10 years as it has done over the last decade, supply will run out, and they’ll be not no nanas never. So the EU is funding research into the production of genetically modified bananas to ensure demand can be met. To avoid any hysteria resulting from the no ‘nanas threat, they’ve been peddling this straight bananas story to hide the truth of their evil experimentation.

My work puts me in regular contact with people who are on the inside of these things. They are people who are immensely clever, but if left to their own devises would get dressed by putting their socks on their hands. I’m one of those people who ensure they put their socks on their feet, figuratively speaking.

Last night for reasons too long and dull to go into here I was utterly comatosed at a seminar listening to the Chief Group Economist of an extremely large UK bank.

He too was a spectacularly clever man who went on and on about fiscal policy and exchange rates and blah blah blah snore. He had the dusty grey lumbering gait of a man who relaxes by visiting hookers specialising in adult baby sessions. Once a week, somewhere in a respectable suburb, you can probably find him wearing a nappy, eating rusks and being covered in talcum powder after bath time.

The speech went on for forty minutes, of which four of those minutes I was interested. When he ended I shifted in my seat preparing to make for the door. When asked if there were any questions everyone in the room seemed to put their hand up. Questions about consumer confidence and the Euro and German Fiscal policy went on for over an hour.

Even the bloke I was with asked a question, so not to be outdone I mustered all my A’ Level Economics knowledge, put my hand in the air, and waited for the roving mic. When it reached me I stood up, cleared my throat, and asked…

“Do you remember when you could buy a packet of Snaps and a Curly Wurly and still get change from 20p?”

I didn’t of course, but I wish I had.

Monday, February 10, 2003

War averted

In these days of uncertainty and turmoil it’s good to see some sense is at last seeping through the fog of insanity.

As reported on the Harry Hill Show last night, a historic peace accord has been signed between cats and dogs. The general principals of the agreement are: -

• Cats will look after balls of wool
• Dogs will look after bones
• Both will have joint responsibility for squeaky things, and both will stay away from shoes

Well, I liked it.

Saturday, February 08, 2003


I was a little late on the Jackson interview having played 5-a-side on Monday night so it’s taken a little time to work out what all the fuss was about.

I’m not a big Jackson fan, he’s made two great solo albums, one good one and a whole heap of crap. I wouldn’t break down crying if I saw him in an underground car park. What was so shocking about it? He’s a bit weird. But did people expect Martin Bashir to earnestly comment that he “Followed Jackson into the sitting room of his two-bed semi in Rochdale”. It’s no secret about the fun fair and the zoo. It’s no secret his face is a victim to over zealous plastic surgery and his shopping trip demonstrated what we all surely knew, that he has terrible taste. Do you really expect a man who dresses like Rita Fairclough and has worn white socks and slip-ons for 20 years to have a minimalist and tastefully appointed house? But taste is all about when to stop, what’s the point of stopping when you’ve so much to spend? Let the man shop.

And to the outrages of “The Children”. Look at the facts; Michael Jackson had one unfounded accusation of child abuse in 10 years ago. He has always openly admitted to preferring the company of children and having them to stay. The abuse was clearly so abhorrent the parents and authorities weren’t prepared to rest until justice was done and the predatory paedophile was safely locked away in jail. Oh, I’m sorry, that should read; it was clearly so abhorrent the parents weren’t prepared to rest until they received a substantial pay out. Your morale code is defined by how passionately you feel about something; this was clearly a crime that was neutralised with a few million quid.

And there hasn’t been a complaint before or since. The fact the most famous and subsequently vulnerable man in the world has received only one accusation of impropriety in his life is the biggest surprise of them all.

And so, ten years later Jackson has children running around his ranch, but if you took out Jackson and replaced him with Carol Vorderman, everyone would go on about what excellent work she does for under privileged kids. He sleeps in the same room as children, something he openly admits, if he had something to hide, maybe he’d deny it completely. The kid with cancer didn’t look too troubled by the ‘abuse’; in fact he seemed to enjoy the whole experience. If Bashir is so disturbed about the presence of children playing whilst an adult looks on, he ought to get out more.

All I’m saying is the ‘facts’ of the programme don’t add up with the analysis it subsequently endured. The police won’t be investigating Jackson, according to the papers…. Why the hell would they? He didn’t do anything wrong. He appears to protect, maybe over protect, his children, and his parenting skills in feeding ‘Blanket’ are somewhat unorthodox, but far better than my attempts to play and bond with Sophie, who screams the place down every time I go near her.

As Spike Milligan said in 1964, the media is so shocked and appalled about things that the following week they re-shock themselves as a “Public Duty”. That’s what’s happened here, nothing new came out of that documentary, it just reaffirmed everything we’ve seen before, it’s the media that seem to have forgotten that we’ve seen it all before and once again they’re appalled by it, then we The Public feel we should be appalled. And so the cycle begins, I suppose its just a way of selling papers.

Friday, February 07, 2003

Hex appeal

There’s something about today, I’ve been blighted by misfortune since the early hours of this morning.

I was awoken by Peanut the cat trying to eat a box in our bedroom, it was 5.45, I was also having a bizarre dream. A dream whereby Emma had Dr Willy’s (aka Clare) body. It wasn’t like I was just dreaming of a person with Clare’s body with Emma’s head. In the dream Emma had somehow acquired the body and had her head fitted to it. She kept saying, “I’ve got Willy’s body”, and “Ooh, look what I’ve found” whilst pointing at another part of the anatomy. Where Willy’s head had gone, I’ve no idea.

The combination of the noise from the cat and the concern from the dream kept me awake until it was time to get up. Just before I left for work the telephone bill dropped through the draw and described in pounds and pence the extent of my blogging compulsion. Leaving the house I decided to put a new CD in the machine. But when I set off and turned the player on, I realised that I had forgotten to put the cartridge back in the CD player, so I drove to work in silence.

Upon arriving at work, I turned my computer on to find I couldn’t connect to the network. Then, when the IT person got me connected, none of my emails or documents were anywhere to be seen. Of course, as with all these things, nobody had done anything to the network. Except of course, someone idly told me they’d ‘put me back on’ whilst they looked earnestly at the problem. When you tell someone they’ve been ‘put back on’, it does suggest that someone had ‘taken me off’ in the first place. Oh, and the back up tape? Last dated 13th January.

So I was left unable to do any meaningful work. I got to lunchtime and made for Tesco for a sandwich, the drive from work to Tesco is through a series of 30 and 40 mph speed limits. I just drive at somewhere in between the two speeds. As I was driving along I was just thinking that there was a speed camera across the road, when it went off. I don’t know whether I was in a 30 or 40 mph zone, given my luck today, I was probably speeding.

And so I’m sitting quietly trying not to look fate in the eye. I’m trying to remember my to do list and diary for next week, because both were on the computer. My list currently has eleven things on it, but I know it was somewhere around the mid 70’s. I think I’m supposed to be somewhere on Monday, but for the life of me I don’t know where.

I’m terrified of the drive home.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Sexual hair gel

Whilst looking for a picture of Fiona Phillips for my Singaporean readership, I came across Robbs Celebs, who describes Fiona as “The big titted GMTV presenter”, a phrase he must have just lifted straight from a press release.

Robb’s site is an absolutely gargantuan resource of celebrity pictures. Whilst it claims to be full of sexy voyeuristic celeb shots, there is barely a nipple on view. You can see Kate Garraway leaning forward to pick up a cup of coffee revealing a slight shadowing in her chest region. But if you’re on beaver patrol, move away there’s nothing to see here. Robb, also labels Kate ‘big titted’ which must be a condition of GMTV employment – there’s no other way of explaining Eamonn Holmes.

Most of the pictures are scans from crumpled tabloid newspapers or low-grade screen grabs. Given the ninja like reactions needed to hit the video record button to capture a picture of Fern Britton’s knee, Robb could easily be an SAS sniper. So poor are most of the pictures, none are in the slightest bit titillating. Yet so obsessive the collection, Robb and his readership must get some sort of enjoyment out of it.

The link between the nakedness and the titillation have become separated. My pornography knowledge isn’t what it might be, but from but watching Eurotrash it seems to be an union standard for top porn stars to have boobs so big it looks like they’ve swallowed a couple of space hoppers. They have collagen implants in their mouths so they look like they’re in the world bratwurst sausage balancing championships. On Sunday Channel 4 re-ran ‘Designer Vaginas’ – a think of a title, then work out a programme type show. It seems women are even having their vaginas re-engineered to become more sexy.

I have no morale judgement on porn, as long as everyone is happy doing what they’re doing, but I must be missing something. None of this caricaturing is actually very nice to look at. Long-term readers will remember my pre Christmas entry about how teenagers don’t use gel to get a cool haircut, they just want gel in the hair regardless of the style it produces. The concept of gel and its appropriation in hair have become completely detached. It’s the same with this glamour/sex/celebrity industry, people no longer want to be turned on by women with pretty faces and big boobs, they want sexual hair gel, the biggest boobs possible regardless of how utterly revolting it looks.

I don’t know, in my day, women were women….

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Wacko Fiona

I had a meeting in Leighton Buzzard this morning (Linslade to be precise, but Leighton Buzzard makes it sound so much more glamorous). I engineered a 10am start which meant I didn’t need to leave the house until 9.30.

Y’see, I run ting.

Whilst drinking tea in bed, with Peanut the cat doing her very best to sit on my face, I was able to watch tyranny of Fiona Phillips GMTV analyise last night's Michael Jackson interview.

Funnily enough there are many similarities between Jacko and Fiona. Both are deluded that they are considerably younger than they really are. Jacko thinks he’s Peter Pan, Fiona thinks she’s twenty three. Both have cheek bones you can hang a suspension bridge off and both have views dictated and distorted wholly by the filter of the media. Fiona seems to think that Coronation Street is a reality TV series and that Hello magazine is a broad sheet newspaper pioneering investigative journalism.

The discussions centred on the 'sensation' of the documentary and the 'alarming revelations' it revealed. Are we really surprised that he’s 'horrified' at the child abuse allegations? Did you really expect him to go, “Well, he was very attractive, and y’know when you get caught up in the moment...” Fiona told us that many people had emailed in empathising with Jackson… Uh? People are emailing in saying empathising with the legendary emotionally and physically scarred billionaire who lives in a self made cocoon in California. Exactly how far does “Matt from Hull” really empathise with the “Michael from Neverland”?

Of the fact he lives in a world separate to the ‘real world’, the guest psychoanalyst asked what was really wrong with that. Fiona said "If we all did that there wouldn’t be a real world to live in." At which point I got a flip chart out and began a brainstorming session to figure out her logic.

Added to this, eagled eyed Fi spotted that one of his kids, Emperor Camel Chocolate Drops Jackson or whatever, had dyed blonde hair, and wore masks in public, tell tale signs of abuse. Except as The Wackster explained he’s terrified of kidnappers – a perfectly legit reasoning from my viewpoint.

Then, talking about Jacko’s penchant for sleeping in the same room as the children who visit his ranch, Eamonn Holmes asked: -

"Do you considered it normal for a man of 44 to do that"
"No" said Fiona
"Would you let Michael Jackson sleep in the same room as your daughter."
"I might."
"Would you let a 44 year old stranger sleep in the same room as your daughter."
"But you would let Michael Jackson, with his reputation, sleep in the same room as your daughter."
"I might."
“Because he’s the Peter Pan of Pop”

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Older, not old

Vicki Dobscrub and I exchanged idle publishing industry gossip over email yesterday. This was significant only in that it marked an evolutionary change in the things we chat about. I’ve known Vicki for years, legend has it, though this may not be historically correct, that she went to my sister’s 7th birthday party, her brother went out with my sister when they were ten. Technically, they’re probably still dating, at that age, going out with people and breaking up was so quick, they probably never technically got round to splitting up. There are probably millions of unresolved relationships floating around in the ether like that. Like the millions of pounds of deals on the stock exchange that allegedly just disappear each day. It’d probably be a good service for friendsreunited to run, a technical break-up forum, just to keep everything nice and above board.

So Vicki and I go back over twenty years, we’ve never worked together, but between us we have a intermingled network of contacts we can call on to give us the low down on industry movements. It all feels very grown up.

I have no intention of growing up in a slacks and comfy shoes kind of way but I am fully aware that I may just, one day, accidentally slip into it. Emma and I were talking about change, and how she is averse to its principles. How do Sara and Gareth know that they should take the step and get married? Sara says she just knows that they want to be together forever, but at the same time she knows it is a calculated risk and things may change. They, like everyone, are just going with it and seeing what happens. We discussed all possible changes that we would face, jobs, homes, babies, break-ups and make-ups. Emma questioned how you could possibly know when the right time to do anything was; I said that there was no point in worrying about it because it happens naturally. When would we know to move house, have kids, change jobs... all of which I said you just get to a point where you feel you want to give it a go. Of break-ups, how do we know we’ll be together forever, and not embark on torrid affairs, of course I should have just said I’d never do that, but I preferred to elucidate like I always do; I’ve never had an inclination to have one before, I don’t intend to have one in the foreseeable future, and chances are given all information currently available to me I don’t think I ever would. In the same way I may come across someone who I would prefer to be with, Emma may suddenly happen upon a chiselled milkman with a sleek electric cart that sweeps her off her feet. You just can’t tell.

Emma wants to try and dictate the future, to prepare herself for the surprises in store. She mused, in a very light hearted way, I stress, that perhaps the way to deal with it would be to break up, almost, just in case. Neither of us want to, but Emma thought that perhaps by taking some kind of (ultimately illogical) action now we might be able to dictate the future. The only way deal with change is to be pragmatic, prepare for things that are most likely to happen, prepare for old people you know to die, for example, but don’t worry about things you can’t predict. I wracked my brains for other ‘facts’ that are worth preparing for, I thought of one… “What about the cats, one day they’ll di…”.

Only at that point did she start welling up.

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