Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Hate it! #1 Rude Chocolate



SEE! "The ultimate novelty experience" at www.chocoloatewillies.co.uk. I love chocolate. And let's face it, I love willies as well (as I'm sure do most of the regular readers of this site - yes, all 3 of them). But choclocate willies? No. No. No. I paid a trip to the gay themed shop Clone Zone to buy an "item" last week and was mortified to see various rude chocolates on sale - as well as willies there were after-dinner nipples. Now what sort of dinner party would you have chocolate nipples at? Can you just imagine how "hilarious" and "camp" it would be if your host produced these? Wouldn't you be making your excuses and leaving early? There is a place for humour in sex, but it shouldn't be reduced to such a purile "Oh isn't this naughty!" school-yard level. (The Cadburys Flake advert is at the borderline of subtlety for such things and should be used as a benchmark). As far as I'm concerned, anyone who's ever eaten a rude chocolate has demonstrated a deep sexual immaturity and should herewith have their ability to give informed consent to having sex removed from them. So there.

Hate it! #2 Themed Monopoly Sets



It once was the case that there was only one Monopoly game - it had Old Kent Road as the trashy common street, where residents no doubt had to keep a house brick on their kitchen tables, and Mayfair as the posh street - where you would dread landing on if someone else had one of those cute little red hotels on it. I used to love playing monopoly as a child - games that seemed to stretch on all night (my father who is an incorrigble Type A personality introduced me to the game when I was 5. He always played to win, even with very young children.) I still remember the excitement of holding "The Angel Islington" in my hands - the first property I ever bought.

But a few years ago all that changed and someone had the bright idea of making themed Monopoly sets. So if I wanted to I can buy one based round my home town of Lancashire - instead of Mayfair we have Lancaster Castle. Or even worse, you can buy The Simpsons as Monolopy. At Monopoly.co.uk other special editions include Disney, Star Wars Episode 2, Coronation Street, FA Premier League and Pokemon. Arrrgh! Why spoil something that was already good? Why flog a dead horse? It pains me for future generations terms like The Strand and Whitechapel will no longer have the same significance.

Fabulous Ebay purchase -

The Miss World Board Game Yes, you too can compete to become a beauty queen in this politically correct outrage from the 1970s. Experience all of the dizzy outrage, backstabbing and false sentiment as you claw your way to the top. This game needs a reissue now!

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Happy Mid-Winter Shopping Festival to you All!

Trash Addict is a whole year old. Hurrah. Last year I started writing this during my favourite week of the year - that bit between Christmas and New Years when I refuse to do any work and instead watch movies, read for pleasure and do the sales. All of that additional unaccustomed happiness makes the creativity sacs in my brain swell up - and hence Trash Addict was born.

Thank you to whoever invented the Epsom EMP-TW10 projector - having installed it in the spare room, pointed it at a blank wall, it now projects all my DVDs at a size of 80 inches (and to get all size queen on you, bigger is better). You haven't lived until you've seen Joan Collins bear her tits in The Bitch - larger than life on your wall. I don't think I'll ever want to go outside again, except to buy more DVDs.

One thing about Christmas that annoys me is Christmas songs. How many times have I heard "I Wish It Could be Christmas Every Day" this month? Too many. In the past, you actually used to hear proper hymns - which were quiet and peaceful. Now 1970s tacky Christmas pop has replaced hymns - secular loudness for all to enjoy. Well it stinks - I may be agnostic, but give me O Little Town of Bethlehem every time over Here It Is Merry Christmas Everybody's Having Fun. Even Trash Addict can admit that sometimes too much trash is a bad thing. Slade - take note.

Monday, December 22, 2003

I find it kind of funny

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the first casualty of Christmas is good taste: if you don't believe me see Groc who has been diligently documenting this for weeks. Santa Claus may bring presents, but let's face it - that red and white ensemble may be a courageous fashion choice, but it's not a good one. And who sports a long white beard these days unless they're Ian McKellen on the set of Lord of the Rings? Pop music, traditionally at this time of the year, along with cinema, tv, news etc - is moronic, utterly mainstream and kind of sad...

Mad World, a very melancholy tune sung by Gary Jules (and made popular by the cult film Donnie Darko) is Britian's new number one for Christmas - beating a host of somewhat cynically, Christmas-themed pop tunes including the Pop Idol contestants and Avid Merrion. Where are all the grannies - who traditionally dicate what will be Christmas Number One? Why are poetry-writing teenagers with dyed black hair, who sit in their bedrooms with the light off deciding who gets to be number 1 this year?

And in another twist - Michelle (the one who has been described 100 times as having a "big personality") is Britian's new pop idol. Again, where are all the grannies who should have voted in their millions for Andy, Sam or Mark to win? Why does the girl who looks like she should be bullied in the playground beat 19,999 hopefuls - many of them shiny, happy teenagers with perfectly proportioned bodies, flaunting their flat, pierced navals and tossing manes of glossy blonde hair? What's going on? Is this finally the end of plastic pop?

Sunday, December 14, 2003

You four-eyed fuck!

My new favourite person is actress Susie Essman who plays the shrewish, foul-mouthed, perrenially bitter and crazy ex-wife of Larry David's agent on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Dressed in hideous tight leather pants and sporting a hairstyle that Medusa would be proud of, Susie always manages to thwart Larry's plans because she HATES him. In the episode shown above, Susie has one of her best ever scenes. The plot leading up to this is suitably complicated, but all you need to know is that Larry has stolen a doll's head from Susie's house. Susie responds with:

"Where's the head? I know you took the doll's head whereisit? WHERE'S THE FUCKING HEAD? The kid is home, HY-STER-I-CAL because her doll Judy has been DE-CAP-I-TAT-ED! Cos you two sickos took the head for God knows what reason some VOODOO shit you're doing where is it? Stop scratching your balls and tell me where it is. Alright just get me the fucking head alright, get me the fucking head alright, both of you, because I've had it, ya four eyed fuck and ya fat piece of shit. GET ME THE HEAD!"

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Hurrah for Brutallo and his special mail-order service where you buy difficult-to-find DVDs. Here are some of my recommendations.



Strangers With Candy

"Hello, I'm Jerri Blank and I'm a 46-year-old high school freshman. For 32 years I was a teenage runaway. I was a boozer, a user, and a loser. My friends were dealers, cons, and 18 karat pimps. But now I'm out of jail, picking up my life exactly where I left off. I'm back in high school, living at home, and discovering all sorts of things about my body. I'm finding out that though the faces have changed, the hassles are just the same."

Strangers With Candy is a great comedy series that never made it to the UK. It's based on a 1970 documentary called The Trip Back which starred real life ex-junkie Florrie Fisher who lectured in school about how she used to "cook up breakfast in a teaspoon".



Any resemblance between Florrie and Jerri is totally intentional.

Angel Angel Down We Go



A bizarre film penned by the fabulous Robert Thom (who also wrote Wild in the Streets). In Angel, Angel, an overweight debutante becomes obsessed with a drugged out pop star and invites him and his crazed entourage back to the mansion where he seduces her, her mother and her father. Lots of psychedlic sequences and pop songs, and we get to see bona fide movie star Jennifer Jones saying things like "I made 30 stag films and never faked an orgasm" and calling her maid a "bloody sadistic dyke". This is one groovy film, rarely seen and much under-rated. It'll blow your mind.



Who Killed Teddy Bear



Who knew that little Sal Mineo had such nice muscles and could dance like a gogo slut on heat? This film has it all - dirty phone calls, lesbian passes, stalking, Times Square porn shops, twisted policemen, big hair and Sal fondling himself in underwear.

Chastity



In this little known Cher vehicle, the great one plays a drifter who runs away from home and encounters all manner of low-lifes. Cher named her daughter after the character she played. This film showed at the London Lesbian and Gay film festival this year to a rather uncrowded house who left in stunned silence at the end. However, there was one person in the audience who responded with thrilled applause when the credits rolled. That person, dear reader, was me. Let's rehabilitate Chastity. We owe it to (C)her.

Also at the site is the Karen Carpenter biopic with dolls and some very strange looking Japanese animation with shop store dummies. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Phlegm is no friend of mine

I think I am ready for a holiday. Work is getting on my nerves, I have a cold and a caffine withdrawal headache. All the usual things that I like: writing letters of complaint to newspapers or the ITC, blow-drying my hair, laughing at the Gay Dating channel, thinking about George Clooney's backside, the How Clean Is Your House ladies - none of them are doing the usual trick.

This morning our newspaper delivery person mistakently left behind a list of all of the newspaper orders for our area. Shockingly, we are the only people to order The Guardian. But there were a lot of Tory Broadsheets on the list. It made me realise I'm living in a nest of privileged Tory vipers! How to subvert them to wanting higher taxes?

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I'm lovin' it.™

These three simple words demonstrate a gigantic step in how humanity conceputalises its relationship to time. At usingenglish.com the English teachers are fighting over it - is it grammatical? Is loving a verb? Is it even possible to use "love" in the continuous tense?

The phrase is the title of a Justin Timberlake song, and has also been adopted, along with the Mr Timberlake as part of McDonalds new advertising campaign, although there have been detractors. McDonalds, bless em, have even trademarked the phrase "I'm lovin' it."

The question I've been asking myself if why? This phrase has gone way beyond the realms of pop song and advertising campaign. I keep hearing it everywhere. Dermot O'Leary said it all summer on Big Brother, in The Guardian I read it. People are saying things like "I'm loving your new outfit" instead of "I love your new outfit." What's going on? Where has it come from and why?

To get all academic, "I'm lovin it™" is an example of the present continuous. And I think it's a sign of the continuing informalisation of language. We're all living more in the present continuous than in the past or the future. I think this is demonstrated by things like the fact that mass mobile phone usage means that the need to make and stick to plans or meetings is now continually open to re-negotiation. Want to meet somewhere else for your date, or bring someone else along. Phone and tell them. Everything can happen instantaneously. Innovations like Tivo and Sky Plus have changed the way people watch television - we can pause Live TV, watch TV when and where we want. The need for planning (such as setting the video) is no longer necessary. Want something? Buy it now on hire purchase, on a credit card, on a loan. Why wait? As our society is becoming geared towards instant gratification of needs in the present, so our language is beginning to reflect this. "I'm lovin' it" means it's happening right now, and it's on-going. Are you lovin' it™ too?

Monday, December 01, 2003

My parents finally moved house a couple of weeks ago. They've lived in the house where I was brought up for over 30 years. It was a nice place when they first moved there - one of those New Towns, built in the 1960s. I remember it as a sunny place in the 70s, with lots of green open spaces. However, by the 1980s it had gone to the dogs (both my junior and senior schools were burnt down the year before I was due to start them respectively). The 1990s saw an influx of drug pushers and crime. Peterlee really was the trashiest place in the world to live. It was designed by architects who wanted to do something a bit different and interesting. However, the cubist council houses with their weird designs were wasted on the working class locals - it later transpired they had been built using asbestos and all had to be dismantled. And the famous Passmore Pavillion, which looked like it had been made out of building bricks soon became a dumping ground for shopping trolleys and empty beer cans.

Here are some things that the locals have said about my home town, from knowhere.

The Best Things

  • the a19leading out of peterlee
  • The road out!
  • the A19 road out of Peterlee that is taking my bag and baggage away from here to glorius Devon very soon
  • The Central, the Dene , most people in the town support Sunderland A.F.C. got to be a good thing.

The Worst Things

  • nightlife
  • everything apart from the pubs and the bus station (your means of escape)
  • EVERYTHING
  • The carvers - more or less anyone who went to Shotton Hall or Dene House Comp's
  • Building in progress, and lot's of it!
  • Peterlee is full of cheap shops rubbish clothes and plastic ornaments there are plenty of cheap sports shops.This is because people here think its trendy to wear nothing else but track suits and scruffy trainers its like a uniform Perhaps because there is no money about (no one seems to work they are all on the dole) There is also lots of betting shops bingo halls and fag shops.
  • Non existent public transport, Job centre queue (anyone whos been there will know).No decent club. Its in serious decline and probably wont ever improve.
  • The town council website that says it jealously guards all of the open green spaces where the young people can play - then immediately grants planning permission for a new police office and magistrates court to be built on the best site!! Hypocrites!!
  • All the boy racers in their NO FEAR max power sticker cars.


I can sympathise with a lot of this. When I was young my bedroom window overlooked the fabled A19 road and I would watch the cars speeding past, wondering where they were going and dreaming of the day when I could simply get into a car of my own and drive away, off into the night, never to return. Now my parents have left, there is no reason why I should ever return.



This building was the local haunted house when I was young. It later got converted into council offices. However, even looking at this picture now kind of scares me. It was known as "Jack's" and we were all convinced that Jack (whoever he was) was going to kill us for trespassing. A game that we used to play involved running up to the building and touching it, then running away again (OK we were 7 - Playstations hadn't been invented yet, that passed for fun).
Ode to Roddy



I have fallen in love with Roddy Mancuso. He was a character in Big Brother 3 (America) which I have been watching on DVD.

He's intelligent (is a writer), dead charming and has a great body and nice hair. Everyone wants to vote him out because they know how charismatic he is.



Not only is it very difficult to be in love with an Alpha-Male contestant on a reality show (that happened three years ago and everyone else has forgotten), the bastard has the audacity to go and be heterosexual. How dare he?

Friday, November 28, 2003


Voice of the beehive


In a shocking move to retro, Coronation Street has resurrected three of its old characters, Bet, Liz and Jim. They've also sent them all to Blackpool - Corrie always gets a little bit crazy in Blackpool, and these episodes have not disappointed. Maybe Bet and Liz could get a jobs as drag queens at Funny Girls - they've both got the look off pat.


Blow me




While in America I bought two gay-themed superhero comics, the Rawhide Kid and The Green Lantern (which was written by Judd from MTV's The Real World). The Rawhide Kid is set in the "wild west", although the kid seems to have stepped right out of current day Christopher Street. He dresses well, has an endless supply of camp one-liners and likes giving people makeovers. However, with that said, he's the fastest gun in the west and always wins a fight. He may be a queen but he's no sissy. The Green Lantern on the other hand isn't gay (sadly) but has a gay assistant who is the subject of a hate crime. This is all tackled in a more worthy after-school special kind of way which is wonderful, but all the same, I was still hoping for a little shallow superhero-on-superhero action.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Where I work has a policy about parking - you buy a pass and then yo can park in any of the free spaces. Last year though, too many passes were sold, and as a result, people started parking anywhere - particularly driving up onto grass, which looked awful, especially in winter when the grass got ruined. This year, the problem has gotten worse. Nobody seems to be doing anything about it. Now people don't even bother looking for a space, they just park anywhere that's convenient for them. It's driving me mad. And it's driving me mad that's it's driving me mad if you know what I mean. I've written formal letters of complaint, I've stormed into the security office demanding that something is done. But nothing changes. At best they put measly notes on cars telling them not to park there again. Can anyone suggest any (legal) solutions to this?

On a better note, the women in my department all went out for a meal and then announced on Monday morning that I'd been voted the best-dressed male in the department. Although, that's not really saying that much - if you saw some of the fashion choices of my colleagues, you'd know what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

From http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/10885.htm

November 16, 2003 -- Two Maryland high school girls who locked lips in school to protest homophobia are paying a big price: two-day suspensions. Senior Katherine Pecore and junior Stephanie Haaser staged their kiss in the middle of lunch at River Hill HS in Clarksville over a week ago. "It wasn't an affection thing. It was really just a statement," said Pecore, 17.

Haaser's English teacher had asked his students to perform a "nonconformist act" as part of a section on Transcendentalist authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Most students opted for little indiscretions - eating cereal at lunch, for example, or calling teachers by their first names. But Haaser, 17, cooked up something bigger.

The two girls climbed on top of a lunch table and shouted, "End homophobia now!" Then the girls, both of whom describe themselves as heterosexual, made out. Estimates for the length of the kiss range from 10 to 15 seconds. "It was full on," Pecore said. "It was intense."

There was stunned silence in the crowded cafeteria at first. But soon staff and students at River Hill could talk about little else. Both girls, who are top students, were quickly suspended.

----------------
You can email the guy who suspended them, Scott Pfeifer at spfeifer@hcpss.org. He claims "There is no policy against kissing in the cafeteria. I'm confident I made the right decision. Anybody who would stand up and do a disruptive act, I would treat them the same way." The fact that it happened to be two girls "is totally meaningless to me." From http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A42718-2003Nov14?language=printer



Monday, November 17, 2003

Say what you like about this Labour government but for whatever reason, their track record on gay equality has been good - the removal of the ban on gay people in the armed forces, the equalisation of the age of consent to 16 and now, the last day of Clause 28. Clause 28 was a particularly spiteful bit of legislation introduced in the late 1980s by Maggie's conservatives which intended to prevent the "promotion of homosexuality by local education authorities". It was a badly worded and homophobic law and backfired on the conservatives quite badly by providing a focus around which gay rights activists could organise themselves and unite.

Scotland dumped the clause a couple of years ago - despite millionairre Brian Souter's "Keep The Clause" campaign. Souter financed a huge vote across Scotland, although received a very low number of actual responses and missed out large numbers of the population because he was relying on an out-of-date electoral register - a lot of his own money down the drain that could have been put to much better use if donated to a children's charity. Souter's "Keep the Clause" website was one which I parodied with my own "Kill the Clause" site. Souter's site also backfired somewhat in that its messageboards became over-run with insane homophobic bigots who threatened violence to people (one guy actually lost his job over his postings) and revealed many of the Keep the Clause supporters to be TOTAL PSYCHOS. The site eventually had to be closed down because it got out of control and became a disgrace to the people who were running it.

Poor old dead Baroness Young and Lord Longford (two of the craziest homophobes in the House of Lords) will be turning in theirs graves tomorrow when the Clause is finally consigned to the scrap heap (except in Kent where they've drafted their own version of it). Still, after tomorrow, the UK will be a better place. Seeya Clause, don't wanna be ya.

Friday, November 14, 2003

One of my favourite films of all-time is The Boys in the Band - a pre-Stonewall drunken bitch-fest which has lines like "Well, he has an interesting face and body but it turns me right off because he can't talk intelligently about art, who could love someone like that? I could and you could, that's who, Mary she's gorgeous! etc" You get the idea.



At the end of the play, practically all of the characters hate each other after experiencing various revelationary moments. There's a lot of shouting and crying. You wonder what's going to happen to all of them.

Well, Mart Crowley has written a sequel - "The Men from the Boys" - set in the present-day, the cast assemble for one more party (this time a memorial to one of their number who has died.) They're older but no more wiser - the sniping still flows. And there are three younger "hot" men who the original characters can fight over, ogle, spend too much money on, not get their queer politics and ultimately be disappointed by. Still, it's nice to see that Harold and Emory are still no top form. Hurrah.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

When I was younger I was into those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books - they were for geeky kids who liked Dungeons and Dragons, but didn't have enough social skills to have the requisite number of friends to get a game going. Choose Your Own Adventure books let the reader make various choices at different stages in the narrative e.g. "If you want to fight the dragon go to page 45, use the gold key - go to 65 or cast a spell - 53." As an alternative to computer games, I whiled away hours with these books - by favourites were the ones by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone - with titles like Citadel of Chaos and House of Hell, they allowed teenage introverts like myself to get lost in alternative universes were they had control and could beat up their enemies - probably not too healthy really).



While in New York, I stumbled across a new series of Choose Your Own Adventure books, this time with a gay twist (everything has a gay twist nowadays). Escape From Fire Island has you fighting zombie drag queens while attempting to save your slutty friend Jose. The only other book in the series is called "Night of a Thousand Boyfriends" (which is a bit excessive admittedly) although apparently others are planned including Quest for Streisand and Journey to the Bottom of Ben Affleck.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Visiting New York, with the lovely Dan who knows all the best places to go to. Am typing this in an Easy internet cafe, sitting next to Edith Massey's twin brother Crazy McCrazy.

It's been a while since I've been here and I'm always interested in the subtle shifts that have occurred since my last trip. At the Virgin Megastore and a few other places you now pay by swiping your own card and writing your signature on an electronic screen. Flatbread is everywhere - you can't get normal bread anymore. I've seen the future and it's a "denim bar".



My new favourite film is Die Mommie Die - a Charles Busch masterpiece, where he parodies all of those old Joan Crawford/Bette Davis movies with such skill that it actually transcends parody and becomes a new genre all in itself. Jason Priestly also plays a bisexual gigolo, so it's worth seeing for that alone.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy descended onto British shores last night (well for people who have UK Living anyhow). Having heard about this programme, I already had issues with it - the whole "gay men as fashion gurus" adds fuel to a certain sterotype. Why couldn't the gay guys be helping the straight guy to fix his car, read a map or do better at sports?

Still, once you accept that it is all about the stereotypes (and at least they're a notch up from the gay man as paedophile (I wonder how many extra google hits typing that word'll get me - be gone before I drop a house on you), gay man as communist threat and gay man as violent killer), you can let your IQ wander off somewhere and laugh at the bitchy asides and camp humour. There are also a number of "top tips" for male grooming - work the hair wax in from the back and use a comb to trim over-long eyebrows...

Mark Simpson wrote an article last week pointing out that NOT all gay men have good taste anyway - Elton John, Dale Winton, Boy George and Graham Norton were among those named and shamed. Incidentally - Boy George's gaydar profile is allegedly here. I'm impressed at his vocabulary at least.

So, going into Kilroy/Trisha mode... Are you a gay man? Do you have good/bad taste? Please share your story with us here.

Monday, November 03, 2003

I have been troubled by tiny white spots on my face for some years, which don't respond to picking or squeezing. They are pretty much unnoticeable except to me (I am my harshest critic). I once mentioned them to my doctor who told me there was nothing I could do about them. However, I did a bit of google research and found out that they are called milia and they are small deposits of oil that get trapped under the skin. I then tried to find someone locally who would remove them. A number of websites claimed to do such a thing, although the first I phoned told me that they don't take men (!) The second booked me an appointment for Saturday morning.

I was first subjected to a facial, which meant lying down under a duvet and having a woman rub different smelly things into my face. This took a long time and she said things like "We're now going to exfoliate, cleanse and tone the skin." Afterwards, she ran a machine which gave an electrical charge to my face. I didn't feel much. Then she pulled out a big needle and proceeded to poke holes in me so she could extract the milia. It came out as little white lumps which she showed me. She couldn't get all of them, as some are too deep, but I was encouraged to purchase a Clarins product which may help them rise to the surface.
Afterwards my face had a number of large angry swollen red areas which have since gone down. Although admittedly, she has done a better job than I would have - who knew there was an art to squeezing spots?

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Squirrels in the garden





Watched Threads last night with my fella. Threads was made in the 1980s, about a nuclear bomb that gets dropped on Sheffield and the subsequent miserable 10 years afterwards. It ends with a girl giving birth to a mutant. It scared the shit out of me when it was first aired. My fella refused to watch it the first time round, dismissing it as "leftie propaganda" (thank god he's not the Tory boy he once was). Watching it again though, we were struck by a number of things - would life really be that miserable? Wouldn't people eventually adjust and at least start talking to each other again instead of sitting round fires in gloomy silence? Surely the human spirit would resurface? And why was the nuclear wind still going after 10 years? And why was there no humanitarian aid? And why didn't anybody bother to tidy up - even after 10 years, there was rubble everywhere - even the video player in the makeshift classroom was absolutely covered in debris - surely someone could have taken a second out of their life to wipe it with their hand? The message is that the first casualty of war isn't "truth" but cleaning.

The other thing that struck me in the video was how bad everyone's hair was in the 1980s. This was pre-conditioner and it showed. Everyone had dry, unmangeable hair that was an ugly shade of ginger/brown. This made me realise just how many people dye, sorry "colour" their hair these days. The truth is that no-one is a natural blonde in the UK. Do we need a more chilling message than that?

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

This from Two Slugs Kissing about how he blagged his way into a magazine article looking for Britain's sexiest man, is funny (thanks Laurence for the link). He reminds me of me, about five years ago, before I went boring.



He's not the best singer on Pop Idol, but he's got the nicest hair, ergo he should win. Vote Andy. Vote more than once. Exercise your right to live in a democracy!

Watched Barbarella on DVD last night. I love that film - the music is fantastic, set design is suitably 1960s (lots of inflatable cushions), Anita Pallenberg (with Fenella Fielding's voice) is wonderful, and Jane Fonda is so sexy that by the end of the film I would have turned heterosexual had she not said so many camp lines: "A good many dramatic situations begin with screaming...", "This really is too poetic a way to die" and my favourite "Do you mean they're still living in a primitive state of neurotic irresponsibility?"

I love an atmosphere.... I love a party with a happy atmosphere... So let me take you there, and you and I'll be dancing in the cool night air!

VH1 have been having a "worst of" weekend, which I dutifully watched. My favourite "worst of" is Russ Abbot's "I love a party with a happy atmosphere", which I can no longer hear without thinking in terms of an ironic reading of it. Russ is wearing a Daddyesque unfashionable pullover from the 1980s, he's been under the sunbed too long and he looks like the Alpha male among a group of 40-60 year old men who hang out in a gay pub in a small town.

Irony is everywhere these days. And it's been spoilt as a result. When me and my friends were listening to our Reader's Digest Sensational 70s Boxed Set in 1988, we were on to something - we rehabilitated the 1970s - getting fresh enjoyment out of old songs that nobody else wanted to hear. Nanna's record collection was suddenly gold-dust. Now trash is everywhere, repackaged ironically for your pleasure. School disco, retro, the knowing wink... it's so ubiqitous, everything's a reference to a reference. Where will it all end? Is it possible to be post-ironic? Or is there no going back, as I suspect.

Friday, October 24, 2003

I love the way that the Americans on Joe Millionaire pronounce the word "chateau" (with rising emphasis on the final syllable). Last night "Joe" and one of his dates gave the cameras the slip and went off into the woods for some outdoor snogging. Fortuantely they had left on their microphones, so we were treated to a lot of subtitles which went something like "Mmmmmm (smack) yeh, he he he (slurp) mmm." Did you want to shower after watching? I did.

Over at Living TV, the Stripsearch troupe have now been formed, dance instructor Inez has had injections into her lips and nobody dares mention them (except me) and a group of female rugby players got to be guinea pigs on the boys' first night on stage. What they lacked in co-ordination they made up for in enthusiasm. There was something sadistic about watching the poor men getting all-over body waxes - especially poor Welsh David who was literally face down on the bed and biting the pillow. Later, they had a photoshoot with a camp northern photographer who lists Shirely Bassey and Prince Charles as his former subjects (possibly not at the same time). We also got to see a big black penis several times therefore reinforcing the stereotype. Although the premise of StripSearch is unquestionably tacky, the series has provoked more moments of drama, tenderness and suspense than any other tv show I have watched this year. Oh, and David's butt looked lovely once it had been waxed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Attended a talk by Gina, a male to female transsexual last night. A lot of what she said made me quite angry - not at her, but at the prejudice and sniggers that she has to put up with on an almost daily basis. Trained as a solictor, she has had to take cleaning jobs, and says that she finds it extremely difficult to find work, despite being highly qualified. Members of her family have disassociated themselves from her, her doctor was clueless and had to rely on her to tell him how to proceed and she regularly gets abuse from members of the Great British Public. As I understand it, the current situation with transsexual people is that they have to live for a couple of years as a member of the opposite sex before they can be considered for medical treatment. As Gina explained, that only really works if the rest of society is prepared to accept that. But they're not. The suicide rate for transexual people is high - as high as 50%. Gina began her talk by pleading for acceptance, understanding and tolerance. It made me think about the way that gay people were classed as freaks or medical abberants and accordingly victimised in the 1950s. Gina is not a freak. But the rest of society is. Her outlook is that there's not much point in trying to change older people in society - their attitudes have hardened and they're too set in their ways. Instead, she is concerned with going into schools - talking to young people. She's remarkably brave and incredibly dignified. She also spoke about her ambivalence at being cast in with gay, lesbian and bisexual people, as well as transvestites. With LBGT it seems that the "T" is very much tagged on the end. People who try to be sympathetic tell her "Some of my best friends are gay" as if that makes it OK. Maybe we need to rewrite LGBT as TBLG?

---


I am a probably the most pure example of a Type-A personality you will ever meet. I was always first finished at school and spent most of my time waiting for everyone to catch up with me. I wolf down my food before anyone else, jiggle my knees or tap my fingers when sitting, finish people's sentences (in my head), walk fast, talk fast and type fast, am always thinking of where I have to be next, find it hard to "relax" and am impatient, especially if I have to wait.

This has had its advantages over the years - I'm very productive - which has resulted in promotions at work. I used to be so fast that sometimes quality would suffer, but I think I've got over that. I seem to get a lot more done than most people, and I think it's the reason why I find it hard to put on weight. But there are downsides to it as well. I'm almost always on time - and can't stand people who are late - I view it as a form of power when someone makes you wait for them. I have a quick temper which can flare up and be over in seconds, which makes me rueful, but at least provides bystanders with entertainment. If I stop doing things I get bored, and I particularly don't like routines or monotony. I find relaxed Type-B's very difficult to be around - especially if they don't seem to possess a passion for anything. Diffidence or "slacking" annoys the hell out of me. Or at least it does for about five minutes. Then I'm over it and on to the next thing...

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Hurrah, Pop Dizzy is back - with more pictures, more colour and more sarcasm than ever.

Like Zbornak, I recently saw and enjoyed Party Monster (I'm starting to think that my blog should be retitled "Everything that Zbornak said yesterday minus the stuff on Angela Lansbury") Shame on the Guardian for giving it 1 star - snobs! My favourite part of the film was when James St. James advises Michael Alig on how to be a super success on the disco/party circuit. You enter a party, saying hello to everyone, especially people you don't know, and then make your way round the room, telling everyone you've lost your friend. You friend is doing the same thing, but in a counter-clockwise direction. When you finally meet up there is much squealing and clapping, and then you go back round the room telling everyone you've found your friend. Do that for three months and you'll be the toast of New York. (I paraphrase, but you get the idea.) I was kind of missing Parker Posey who seems to be an essential ingredient for New York disco films, but Chloe Sevigny made up for it.

I haven't bought a lifestyle magazine for a week now, and Naomi Cleaver's evil "Other People's Houses" has finished, so I think my home addiction is coming to an end. I'm afraid I went a bit far when I decided to paint a huge burgendy square on one of the walls of the spare room. People are kindly calling it a bold statement.

Me and my fella were the first people to move into my swanky new building. Since we moved in, an Asian couple have moved in upstairs (although they're never there). A middle-aged white couple also moved in last week. The company who own the building have been advertising it in my fussy local newspaper every week and last week decided to run a two page spread about it, with lots of fuss and fanfare. Quotes that I emailed them on request about "high specifications" and "superb aftercare packages" were freely used. A photographer was also summoned, to take pictures of the happy residents living in their sophisticated surroundings. Now reader, guess who appeared in these photographs:

a) the gay couple
b) the Asian couple
c) the white heterosexual couple

It was C. Need you ask?

Thanks to Tivo, I have been indulging in rather downbeat B Movies all week: The Omega Man, The Illustrated Man and The Blob. This all led to a rather maudlin conversation last night which started with "what's the point of it all?" and ended with "The only thing we can be certain of is death." I think I need some frothy romantic comedy to raise my spirits.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

The country, if we were to believe the papers, is in outrage because channel 4 showed two teenagers having sex on Big Brother last night.

While I felt almost as skanky as "witchy" Jade and "inarticulate" Tommy when I watched them having sex under a duvet, I guess the issue is whether a) it's oK for teenagers to have sex or b) it's OK to show them on tv doing it?

The teenage "experiement" Big Brother (which was only supposed to be shown as a schools programme during the day to educate youngsters about group dymanics etc) was suddenly switched to a prime-time slot. That seems somewhat manipulative. Yes, it was good tv - Big Brother 4 was a huge dull dud and by not letting the contestants worry about public votes, there was a lot more "reality" and a lot less tongue-biting and counting to 10. Also, by using a group of 18 year olds with wildly different perspectives on life, you could guarantee that bitchy sparks would fly everywhere. Some of the teenagers weren't likable (much - the only one I really liked was sheltered, sunny, pretty Caroline who reminds me of the nice students I am lucky enough to teach) but they were at least full of energy.

At least the bar has been raised now. BB5 needs to feature transsexual nuns having S/M sex if it expects to achieve any sort of ratings victory.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Every year at this time I also catch a cold. All the students return with their funny foreign diseases from places like Scunthorpe and Cardiff, and eventually I touch a door handle or something covered in germs and that's it. It started yesterday so I took to my bed in a huff and watched pay-per-view films on Sky all night: Swim Fan is a teenage version of Fatal Attraction starring Jesse Bradford who has an interesting face and body but it turns me right off because he can't talk intelligently about art. Who could love such a person? I could and you could, that's who. Mary he's gorgeous etc... I also saw One Hour Photo which was more rivetting - nice to see Robin Williams playing someone so fucked-up (although I still found him more scary in Mrs Doubtfire).

An interesting new blog log I have discovered is jaymaster (because he has a Tivo and we agree on a lot of stuff). I've also been rather taken with Let me get this straight of late.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

When I was younger, my dad went to a funeral of one of them men at work. I later found out that the guy had killed himself after being convicted for cottaging. When I "came out" to my parents, one of the first things they warned me about was "hanging round public toilets" - the fate of the work colleague still looming large.

I have never been arrested for cottaging, but I know people who have. The brother-in-law of a gay friend was caught by the police, disgraced in front of his wife, children and neighbours. He killed himself too. Another friend told me about his arrest at the age of 18 - being hauled back home by the police, who announced to his parents that their son was both gay and under arrest for having sex with men in a toilet. The guy was clinically depressed for months. But it didn't stop him going back to the same toilets a year later.

I therefore have rather emotional and strong feelings about the subject of cottaging. I can't recommend it - I find it mildly annoying if I encounter it, but it fills me with rage that people can be arrested for something so petty - leading to ruined lives, not just their own, but those of their families.

The government are planning a new Clause (74) of their Sexual Offences Act. This actually hardens the response to men having sex in public toilets, by sending them to prison for up to two years. Two years for touching someone's cock! You don't need Annie Lennox singing "Sex Crime" to tell you how wrong and fucked up that is. And I'm sorry, but I don't want my tax money to go on putting people in prison for something like that.

With that said, I am stumped for an alternative solution. Providing more bona fide places for gay people to meet may help a little, but some people cottage because the danger and sleaze is a turn-on. Installing attendants or CCTV would be expensive, and closing the loos down wouldn't benefit people like me, who have a peanut bladder. Perhaps removing the sense of stigma associated with gay sex and public sex would make it less attractive to some people, while opening up other options. I don't think that the solution proposed by the government is the right one - it sends out the wrong message, which will lead to more stigmatisation, which will lead to fewer people coming out, which will lead to more surruptitious sexual activity in public toilets.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Saturday: I watched a whole night of ITV. Is this what being middle-aged is? Have I come to this?

So Coronation Street leaps into the 20th century with its first gay kiss.
Something strange is happening to Corrie - it's trying to contemporise - first
an Asian family! (But they're all quite nice really and one of them used to be in that Victoria Wood thing) Then people on drugs! (But it was all by accident and funny rather than tragic and involving guns). And now a gay kiss! (But don't worry because it only last a milisecond and involved a "confused" teen kissing a passed out man who didn't return his affections.

Actually, hard-hitting political messages aside, Corrie is turning into a half-hour long Victoria Wood sketch. We've already got the dippy Asian lass from Dinnerladies, add to that Susie Blake who used to be the newsreader on Victoria Wood As Seen on TV (showing my age now kids aren't I), and the fact that Ms Wood does the voiceovers for Cadburys who sponser the programme. What next? Julie Walters and Celia Imrie having a threesome with Duncan Preston on Emily Bishop's eiderdown?

My first day of teaching for this term and it didn't go swimmingly. I was happyhappyhappy as the students filed in to the shiny new computer lab. I'd practiced being avuncular and caring all at once. But it all went to pieces when all the computers turned out to have viruses and support services didn't show up until 10 minutes before the class ended. While we were waiting I instigated a discussion about how the students were getting on in their first week, but eventually gave up and sent them back to bed.

I wish the people who created viruses got to have more sex. It's just a cry for help really.

Monday, September 29, 2003

I am not a Dr Who fan (although I was when I was a teenager). My fella, however is
a huh-uge fan - and I have learnt to live with his regular bed-time watching of Dr Who videos and finding cds of audio-only adventures scattered around the house. During an argument I once declared that Dr Who was bad because it had very little character development in it, particularly of the main character, whereas the Star Trek programmes have lots of character growth and interaction. I didn't really mean it.

What is sad though, is that Dr Who hasn't been on tv for years. Rumour has it that Michael Grade hated the programme for various reasons, despite the fact that merchandising has been a money-maker for the BBC for an awfully long time. My fella often complains that it is a sad testament to the UK's sense of dejection that we can't even imagine ourselves as a society in the future or in space any more - think about it, other than Red Dwarf, how many British sci-fi series are there? Most of our sci-fi comes from America, the Federation is pretty much American, with the odd Brit thrown in here and there to provide eccentricity or whatever.

Dr Who has also been the target of lazy journalism for a long time. The usual cliches about
Wobbly sets 1 and Daleks that you could defeat by walking upstairs have been a staple of bored media types with little of consequence to say.

Fortunately this is all about to come to an end (although the wobbly set stories will still abound) as there is to be a new series of Dr Who, penned by Russell T. Davies who did Queer As Folk. My fella got a bit tearful with joy when he found out. Popdizzy has given his own perspective on what this will look like. A lot of Dr Who fans are also gay. There is even a gay Dr Who fan society. I wonder why this is. Dr Who is not gay himself, although he is single and often quite camp or dandified. For camp value for money, I've always preferred Blakes 7 - thanks to the magnificant Jacqueline Pearce as Servalan, or Deep Space 9 and Garak's little quips. Perhaps someone could explain to me the gay appeal of Dr Who?

Still, I'm bracing myself for more late-night Dr Who video marathon sessions.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Thursday, September 25, 2003

In a shameless attempt to lure my regular readers back (who have all deserted me since I stopped writing here for some reason), here are some
gratutitous pictures from Living TV's stripsearch (tonight)



Your hosts - Inez and the Posh one. Inez is the one with the lips.



All kinds of men auditioned for strip search, including Odo from Deep Space 9
who is now living on a council estate in the west country.



Inez didn't like this guy, saying that everything about him was small. I beg to differ.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003



My garden.

Since moving house I have become a little obsessed with home interiors - ohmygod, I'm turning into one of those men from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It all started with
three months ago with a trip to Ocean in Manchester, and since then I've gone mad over their giant suede floor seats, curved white minimalist vases, computer workstations that hide themselves into cubes when no-one's using them and beech bedroom furniture. My home has become a shrine to Ocean: tasteful, clutter-free, with feature walls, pictures in anti-glare frames and vast windows looking onto lanscaped garden. I've become one of the happy people you see in magazines.

But it didn't stop there. One too many visits to expensive hotels has resulted in me not just making my bed in the normal way (e.g. pulling the duvet across it), but folding a colourful blanket across the bottom and propping up coloured suede cushions against the pillows. I have started buying Home Interior magazines, grouping candles in threes in my living room and discussing the pros and cons of plain or patterned carpets with anyone who'll listen. Did you know that you're supposed to have 4 types of lighting in your bathroom? Yes, four! Natural light, task lighting, ambient lighting and spot lights. I only have two! What am I to do.



The ultimate in interior design, and my current Goddess is Ms Naomi Cleaver (name tells all) - she has a big blonde stylish bun in her hair, a selection of tasteful overcoats and a received pronunciation British accent that can summon up unseen depths of disgust when saying words like "suburban", "cream" and "beige" (three things she hates). Naomi presents "Other People's Houses" - a rather cruel programme where she follows the travails of various people who wish to redesign their homes. Naomi offers advice (which they rarely take) and them jumps in during the last reel of film to tell them exactly how they've cocked up, ripping their dream homes to bits with lines like "Your bedroom reminds me of a processed cheese sandwich/novetly Homer Simpson tie/carehome". Her catchphrases include "It's not my cup of tea" and "But they love it, so that's what counts." She likes bold statements and authentic retro houses, so I'm sure she'd turn her perfect nose up at my boring sofa which doesn't curve round a corner and clashes with my carpet. That's the trouble with caring about your house. It's never good enough. I know it won't bring me happiness. But it'll at least bring the appearance of happiness. And in today's surface-obsessed culture, where happiness doesn't really exist anyway, that's all that counts.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Frank Bruno was sectioned last night. Friends said they had been worried about him for months. I wonder if Frank was watching E4 last week when an episode of the “hilarious” new comedy programme “The Pilot Show” aired for the first time? On The Pilot Show, celebrities and ordinary people are conned into making pilot tv programmes for crap fake ideas. This includes programmes such as Lapdance Island and Catch the Sandwich. Frank Bruno was in one of these programmes, called Celebrity Advice Bureau, where an actress posing as a member of the public told him that since her pregnancy her “flaps” were distended and she couldn’t enjoy a normal sex life. Other celebrities who were ridiculed on the programme included Dean Gaffney, Anne Diamond and Debbie McGee – the sort of people who are hungry for work. In other clips, ordinary people, even more desperate for fame showed themselves willing to cut themselves off from their entire families, possibly forever, or humiliated themselves in a sex-related DIY show. The Pilot Show is Poison TV. I feel dirty and bad about myself after watching it. For all I know, Frank Bruno et al could actually be in on the joke too, but I doubt it. Nasty, nasty E4.

Another programme, shown on BBC3 at the moment, also plays practical jokes on members of the public, but in a way that isn’t offensive. 3 Non-blondes features three black women who engage with passers-by, asking them bizarre questions “Excuse me, are you black?” or getting them to do things “Can you undo my zip so I can use the toilet?” Where the programme succeeds (and the Pilot Show fails) is that 3 Non-Blondes doesn’t hate its victims. Instead, it is often the actresses who are the butt of their own jokes (for example, in one joke the actress asks a passer-by directions and her dress (or wig) falls off, in another she has a speech impediment, in another she raps… badly). And the British Public are shown on the whole as being exceptionally kind, tolerant and helpful when faced with these bizarre situations. On the other hand, the Pilot Show plays on people’s hunger to be famous – as a result, nobody comes off particularly well in it. Not the poor patsys and certainly not the smug, cynical makers of the programme.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

This is a good time for trash tv. UK Living are celebrating their 10th anniversary (that long!) with Strip Search - a programme which redefines what trash is. It's like Pop Idol, but with male strippers. That's all you need to know. The judges are a slightly posh fitness instructor and a bargain basement Samantha from Sex in The City/Leslie Ash/Caroline from Big Brother 1 dance instructor called Inez who has a bad attitude and says things like "I have a degree darling!"

I don't find stripping sexy. Frustrating yes. Embarrassing yes. Sexy no. Yet I concede that on the couple of occasions that I have been in bars and strippers have been on, they've at least been quite good at it. However, what is interesting about Strip Search is that we get to see BAD strippers - 48 year old men who Should Know Better, pasty-skinned, pigeon chested, ginger-pubed men Who Don't Know Any Better, and embarrassed, steroid-induced acne-scarred nightclub bouncers Who Don't Know Anything. To give them their due, the two judges oozed nastiness, barking out put-downs such as "Why do you think you're sexy to women?" "Have you ever thought of waxing?" and "Is there something wrong with your legs?" When the fresh meat gets a little stale, they turn on each other which is even more fun to watch. Throughout the programme we are offered top tips from an Australian stripper guru who tells us things like "Women like men with tans" and "Take your shoes off first!" There is something for everyone, with chicken-queens, size-queens, muscle-queens and all manner of -queens getting to view the goods.

This is going to be this Autumn's Sleeper hit.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

I was in London earlier this week and happened to be by Tower Bridge, where David Blaine is spending 44 days in a box. Apparently he has received a mixed response from the British public, who have thrown eggs, banged drums, aimed golf balls and bared their breasts at him. It is very fashionable to show a lack of interest in Mr Blaine's 'stunt' or to claim it's a trick and he's not really in the box at all. In fact slagging off David Blaine has become so ubiquitous and predictable, I have declared it to be boring and unfashionable. So I am going to do the opposite and say that I thought his stunt was interesting and different - it had certainly attracted large crowds of people - the majority of whom were supportive, smiling and waving at Mr Blaine - who smiled and waved back. Of course, this is not as news-worthy as someone throwing eggs, so the newspaper reporters have failed to mention it.

There is something a bit grotesque about watching someone on a self-motivated media hunger strike (what would Bobby Sands make of it all?) but on Day 3 Mr Blaine looked happy and well, even a little chubby. I wonder what he will look like on Day 43?

--

When I moved house a few weeks ago, the removal men found a strange object under a chest of drawers by the bed. It was a catholic cross, on a pink chain. I have no idea how it got there - we were the first people to occupy the property, and I am one of those control-freak people who know where every single object in my house is at any given time. I have been wracking my brains to think of who may have slept in my bed and left such an item behind. I do go away a lot and have invited various people to house-sit and look after the cat. But who would own a feminine catholic cross? I can't think. If it was you, please confess, as large numbers of my in-laws are now convinced that it is a psychic manisfestation.

Monday, September 08, 2003

A trip to Leeds to see my sister and go to a conference. My sister's new baby Hugh is a very kicky baby who likes lots of attention. My sister was a bit frazzled at looking after him so much so I sent her to the shops and offered to play Daddy. I think I did OK, although she did point out that I put his nappy on backwards. Hugh also vomitted and weed on me - something I will hold in reserve to tell him when he is older.


Saw the film "Camp" which was. The best part was a production of the Turkey Lurkey song from an almost forgotten 1960s musical called Promises Promises. Almost every 1960s dance stereotype appears in this. I have bought the soundtrack on ebay.

Overheard in the middle of the night while in Leeds: "Walk away while you still can! Walk away while you still can!" The next morning my car was covered in dried blood. How lovely.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

It's true, Jeepers Creepers 2 is the gayest horror film ever made (even more gay than A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). Not only does it have a mostly shirtless Al Santos in it, but it features high school jocks shrieking lines like "Tippi!" when someone gets scared by some birds and "This morning you were waving pom-poms, now you're a psychic hotline!" Said jocks also sunbathe on top of a bus and urinate together, standing a little bit too closely for their own good. There's also insinuations of jock-strap sniffing. See it.

I haven't been updating this much because I've moved house recently and am getting used to having a garden and making the most of the swansong of summer. I have had to say goodbye to air conditioning and Sky Plus, but hello to broadband, Tivo and proper (ie not velux) windows, so I suppose it's a good trade off. My new place also has a lot of squirrels around (I'm always suspicious of people who say that squirrels are just rats with tails - I've even dumped a boyfriend for that (he went fox-hunting as well though) I quite like rats as well though, so such remarks are wasted on me.

I have also been writing like mad for the last couple of months - usually when I'm not writing in here, it means my life is busier and more interesting. Ironically, it's only when I'm bored and have little going on that I can be bothered to write in the web log - and that's probably when I shouldn't write.

Graffiti seen behind the HSBC in Lancaster town centre: "Leeanne is a slag and a hore."

Damn ebay snipers. There should be a law against them. Along with spammers they occupy a very low place on the internet hierarchy.

I love My New Best Friend (Channel 4, Friday nights). It's horrible, but watchable. The premise - a person has to convince everyone that the annoying new man in their life is their new best friend for a weekend. If they win they get £10,000. If they give up, they get nothing. So far the funniest was a blokish chap paired with a camp gay man who made him come out and perform a bizarre live sex show to his friends. Last week's went a bit too far, when the NBF started talking about eating women in Bangkok.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

The Kafkaesque Irony of British Telcom

Automated Voice: "Hello you've reached Britsh Telecom. Please enter your telephone number."
[I enter my number].
Automated voice: Press 1 for billing enquiries. Press 2 for [huge menu list etc]
[I press a number]
Operator: Hi, his is Sandra Jones speaking. What is your telephone number please?
[I tell her (again!) Why did they ask me to enter it in the first place?]
Operator: How can I help?
Me: I'm moving house on Friday. Can I get a new telephone number?
Operator: What's your customer account number?
Me: I don't know. I always pay by direct debit and throw my bills away.
Operator: In that case we can't do it now.
Me: How long will it take?
Operator: Seven days.
Me: Is there any way I can find out my account number?
Operator: Yes, you can request us to send you a copy of your last bill.
Me: OK, can you do that?
Operator: Just putting you through sir...
[long wait]
Automated Voice: Hello. The Office is closed. Please try again tomorrow.

The next day.
Me: Hello, can I request a copy of my bill.
Operator: Certainly. What's your account number?
Me: I don't know. That's why I'm requesting a copy of my bill.
Operator: I'm sorry. We can't send you your bill unless you have your account number.

And so it goes on....

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

HUrrah for Pop Idol 2 - it's so bad it's gone to good and back to bad again. I always find the first few episodes to the best - because basically all we want to see is Simon Cowell crushing the dreams of deluded teens and their pushy parents. Each tear shed by an insulted hopeful is a drop of blood to an emotional vampire - and we're all guilty as charged! Even after one episode I want the "lacks confidence" Scottish boy with the attractive yet slightly elongated face to win. They've got me investing in the programme and it's only just begun.

Saw two films over the weekend that I've never seen before and had been meaning to watch for ages. Harold and Maude (an off-beat story of a relationship between a privileged 20 year old man and a nutty 79 year old woman). I love Ruth Gordon - she's got a unique way of talking and interacting that is both annoying and endearing. She was great in Rosemary's Baby (one of my other favourite films) as well. I also saw the film Kes - gritty northern kitchen sink dramas being something else I particularly like watching. What I found most disturbing about the film was its depiction of the school system - how cruel and arbitrary punishment was eked out, both by bullies and teachers. It reminded me very much of my own school - particularly the Physical Education lesson with the thick-as-shit, sadistic teacher.

I HATED school. But above all, I hated Games, PE, sports. I was always the boy to be picked last when teams were picked. I spent most of my time at school scheming of ways to get out of going (eventually I invented singing lessons for myself for 2 years and bunked off to my grandmother's where I drank cups of tea and listened to her and her friends gossiping). I used to feel sick to my stomach the night before a PE lesson, and would spend the whole of that day in a state of dazed depression. Looking back on it, sometimes the lessons were enjoyable - but mostly they consisted of standing around in the freezing cold, on a muddy pitch, avoiding the football. The worst period of all though was track sports. I was absolutely useless at throwing things - and it was always a humiliation when the teacher recorded the pitiful length that I had thrown a discus, javelin or shot putt. I was used to being top in everything else - but sports were something where I was most definitely bottom. And for some reason, academic success meant nothing in my school - there was no praise for doing well - only jeers from other pupils, or teachers who called me a swot in front of the rest of the class. I used to dread getting the results of tests because my name would always be called out first, as the highest score and then classmates would threaten to beat me up during the break.

Unsurprisingly, I was bullied unmercifully at school - particularly because teachers were often late or absent from lessons, allowing the class to run riot. During one lesson a bully hit me on the side of the face. Suddenly I couldn't hear anything, and the girls in the class started screaming because blood was pouring down my face. I said something dramatic like "You'll all be sorry now!" and went to the headmaster's office. There was an enquiry, forced apologies from the bullies and I got to change classes. The bullying stopped during my final year, but it left a stamp on my personality - I hate attention, particularly in groups. I hate power structures. I hate being seen to do well (as I associate it with a violent reaction from others). And most of all, I hate school. When I finally left, with the best GCSE results in my year, I felt that I'd achieved them in spite of my school rather than because of it. Kes was therefore a painful film to watch, bringing back some unpleasant memories that I'd rather leave buried.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Just back from holiday - which was much needed. I love summer, it's my favourite time of year - it can never be too hot for me.

Since I've been away I have decided to brave cutting my own hair. The last time I tried this I was 12 and it all went very wrong as I ended up making a complete mess of it and having to have it all shaved off. I was always too scared to try again, but I've been sick of getting crap, expensive hair cuts that don't suit me - my hair will not go into a Hoxton Fin, although that's the only style anyone wants to give me. Anyway, I am impressed with the results - and it didn't cost a penny!

Big Brother was a complete disappointment this year. But Big Brother America (showing on E4) is a revelation. Stylistically it is a bit silly, with razor-sharp editing, a hyperactive soundtrack and an emphasis on scheming, but god it's good. The rules of the game mean that alliances can be formed and broken, and that the characters don't face a public vote so there's less fakey niceness. My favourite characters are Dana (aka "Man Troll") an emotional New Yorker, Nathan - a probably closeted pretty-boy from the Bible Belt, Justin - a he-man with a deformed ear, and Alison - Justin's ex-girlfriend who is a combination of Lady MacBeth and the evil bitch from Carrie. The programme is addictively good - there's none of this "Day 54, Scott has been asleep for 2 hours and 24 minutes" rubbish. These characters never sleep. They simply bitch, conspire and flirt with each other. Unfortunately David, a rather sexy military man has been voted off, but there's still a lot of mileage in this recreation of Ancient Rome. Watch it and get hooked.

Another show I've become addicted to recently is the Anna Nicole Show. The true star of the programme isn't Anna Nicole though - it's her insipid yet poisonous "deeziner" - Bobby Trendy. Acne-scarred Bobby was put in charge of creating a pink, feathery paradise in Anna's bedroom - but he did it on the cheap and it all went wrong, resulting in recriminations, restraining orders and glasses of wine being thrown in people's faces. Bobby is the perfect pantomime demon - in fact all of the characters on Anna Nicole are like John Waters creations. I love it.

To update you on my recent fracas with my bank (over the "are you a homosexual" question on their life insurance questionnairre) - yesterday I had a 20 minute telephone conversation with their head underwriter who tells me that he is extremely concerned about the perceived discrimination inherent in the question and is conducting an investigation, as he believes that the statistics of HIV infections are based on data from 1995 or earlier - he's contacting the statisticians to see whether there still is any basis to question people about their sexual orientation. I see this as a victory (of sorts) - at least the bank has taken my complain seriously and are going to investigate my points. I don't know whether what they will find will result in changes in policy (I hope it will), but this is an issue which the media have taken an interest in recently (I sent the bank copies of newspaper articles I'd collected on the subject), and I still believe that such a question is unneccessarily intrusive and will result in many people lying (and therefore denying their sexuality) (feel free to disagree with me if you like, although I'm not going to debate it).

Monday, July 21, 2003

Last year I wrote three books (which explains why my social life consists of a teddy bear, a large bar of Galaxy and a Will & Grace DVD) which got a little bit of attention in the media. However, last week that little bit turned into a deluge when I appeared in The Guardian - and suddenly I was flavour of the month for the media types who wanted a piece of my ass. Even my local newspaper has shown an interest and I was interviewed for it. They want to put my picture alongside the article. However, this will mean that I will be the first (to my knowledge) openly gay local person featured in the paper. After debating the pros and cons of this, I've decided to go ahead and do it. Probably.

Hurrah for my sister who went into labour at 10pm last night and gave birth this morning at 7am. The baby boy weighs 8lb 2oz and has dark brown hair. She is described as "exhausted". For some reason she is not going to call him Lubin Jr but is probably going to call him Hugh (a name I at least suggested). And if this momentous news isn't enough, my parents have casually announced they are thinking of selling their house and buying a guesthouse... in Morecambe.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Heroic Homosex offers a reworking on the masculine gay men as warriors theme by eschewing anal sex and effeminacy in favour of male-male relationships based on wrestling, mutual muscle admiration and non-penetrative frottage. "Frot" is the next sexual revolution apparently. The writer of the site Bill Weintrab mixes str8 m8 polemic with erotic stories and pictures, visualising a world of manly men who like rubbing up against each other. I don't agree with all of it, but I like people who have vision, and Bill certainly has one.



Thoughts go out to my sister who is heavily pregnant (due this month) and bored of daytime tv. Baby Hugh (if that's what she decides to call him) will the be the first addition to our family in 27 years and will turn me into Uncle Lubin. I have always been very close to my sister. When we were younger I used to cut out pictures of Brian Blessed and Dean Stockwell and stick them over her bedroom wall to insinuate that she had crushes on them when her friends came round to visit. We were talking yesterday - for years I had thought she had a secret crush on Richard E Grant (who is to be the new webcast Dr Who). Turns out she didn't. It was Paul McGann all along. I wondered why she had ignored my sly references for the last ten years. This led to a declaration of childhood crushes from everyone present. We both admitted to Jason Patric (it's a bit icky for a brother and sister to fancy the same person though), although with her it was in his Lost Boys phase and with me it was in his Speed 2 phase. My fella admitted to David Soul and Bruce Willis, and then outed me for my early 90s crush on Luke Perry. I hope that Baby Hugh was listening to all this. I was desparately wanting her waters to break while I was there so we could all experience the joy of childbirth together, but they didn't.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Can't remember where I saw it, but I recently read something that argued that humans have evolved to be bisexual - which explains why penis fits vagina, but also penis fits anus and penis/vagina fits mouth/tongue. The argument goes that the prostate gland which triggers off pleasant sensations when a man is fucked wouldn't be so far inside the rectum if it hadn't evolved to make anal sex enjoyable. Similarly, the clitoris isn't deep inside the vagina but on the outside, meaning that women can achieve orgasm without penetration (e.g. via manipulation from another woman). Looking back at other cultures - Greek, Roman, Elizabethan, Ancient China - bisexuality was often much more widely accepted than it is now.

This has thrown me a little, as I have always been a bit suspicious about people who say they're bisexual, wondering if in fact they're really gay but don't want to take on the whole stigma. However, maybe the reverse is true - we're all socially conditioned - and gay people have so much invested in maintaining what society views as a problematic minority identity that it's just simpler to claim to be 100% gay rather than 80% or 95% gay. And as usual, it's all tied to gender - masculine men are treated as if they're straight all their lives - as a result, it becomes much harder for them to identify sexual feelings towards other men as being gay, because everything else about them doesn't fit in with the camp stereotype. By making "gay" equate with effeminate, society has done a good job of creating a minority closed category which forces people to take sides. You either stay in the closet, or you come right out of it. Over and over again, I've seen that the men and women who've had most terms with coming to terms with fancying people of the same sex are either a) religious or b) "straight-acting".

So maybe I'm partly right - some people who say they're bisexual may be in fact more gay than bisexual. But also, a lot more people who say they're straight or gay may in fact be bisexual. I've always found that straight and gay people have a lot in common in terms of their expressions of their horrified responses to the sex that the respective "other" has. "Arse-bandits" and "Backs against the walls lads" from the straight men aren't all that different from comments like "Filthy fish!" that I've heard gay men making. Maybe, in a future society that's less fucked-up about sexuality, gay and straight people will form a collective minority group together - viewed as slightly limited because of their inability to form relationships with both sexes, while bisexuals rule supreme.

Next week - monogamy is about to go past it's sell-by date.

Monday, July 07, 2003

New word of the day: evilgelicals.

As in "I am amazed that in this age of non-discrimination at work, the government are allowing one law for the church and one law for everyone else. Shame on Tony Blair - he should put his foot down and slap them silly. The evilgelicals want it Betty Bothways - they want to have all the power, but they can't acknowledge that if they kicked out every gay person in their ranks, the system would collapse. I hope the Bishop of Reading becomes a cause celebre, leading to the majority of people taking a good long look at the evilgelicals and realising how spiteful, bigoted and petty they really are. Gah!"

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Obsessive-Compulsive Cleaning Disorder

The boyfriend and me watched Channel 4's "How Clean is Your Home?" last night and are in shock. The premise is very simple and has been successfully repeated in a range of formats including What Not To Wear and The Dinner-Party Inspectors. It involves (usually two) upper-middle class bossy matriaches with scary hair and make-up descending on the lifestyles of proles in order to exclaim, cajole, bully, patronise and lecture them into changing some aspect of their lives in the quest for "self-improvement". These programmes are the new religion - the presenters are daunting high priestesses, publicly punishing transgressors, forcing out shameful confessions, and then cleansing them of their sins so they can be forgiven and "reborn" as new believers - our religious icons are no long the Virgin Mary, the rosary beads or the holy water but instead we have the Dyson hoover, decking and the trip to the salon for a spray-on tan.

How Clean is Your Home? is a particuarly entertaining example of this new genre. The programme cheerily begins with Aggie and Kim (who both look like they should be running an East German ballet school as a cover for satanic practices as in Dario Argento's brilliant Surpiria), descending on some council-estate hovel to shriek in horror at the "filth and degradation" lurking in dirty toilets, greasy chip-pans and dusty work surfaces. They reserve particular disdain for bedding, carrying out a "smell test" and then coming out with reams of statistics such as "a human produces half a litre of sweat every night in bed" and "there are fifty million dust mites living in your bed - you are sleeping in 500 grammes of dust mite faeces!" After the poor proles have been suitably chastised, they are excommunicated from their homes, and Aggie and Kim (and a team of nobodies who actually do the work) set about putting everything right. Aggie and Kim then bring the occupants back and present them with a huge housework chart, which helpfully tells them how many times a day their toilet should be cleaned. Their work done, the pair set off into the sunset.

The programme is hilariously camp - I know quite a few gay men who resemble Aggie and Kim in their obsession with keeping a clean home (although I've often conjectured that the cleaner your counter-tops, the dirtier your mind). However, it is also quite disturbing. Studies have recently suggested that one of the reasons why more people suffer from allergies like hayfever nowadays is because of our hermetically-sealed, hygenic lives. A bit of dirt isn't necessarily a bad thing then. Also, the programme sets strict standards of cleanliness that I think most people with jobs and social lives who can't afford a cleaner would find it difficult to live up to. And there is something very patronising about people with posh accents telling working-class people that their windows are too dirty. So while all this is disguised as a "good thing", I'd argue that it's a kind of banal, apolitical facism - get people obsessed with their own dirty linen and they won't have time to think about bigger issues (such as war, globalisation, environmental damage, world hunger, disease etc). It's just plain wrong. So there.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

George Orwell is having an anniversary or something. So I read 1984 again. God the last third is depressing. I keep wondering how such a society would have coped with things like SARS. My favourite bits of the book are when Orwell talks about the "proles" - he views them with mild distaste mixed with envy. Those good old proles - with their big fat red arms, their pop music, football, drinking, petty squabbles with neighbours and cockney accents. They're lovely. There are a lot of the things in the book that I find difficult to swallow. The concept of Room 101 for example - I don't believe that people have a single thing that they are terrified of which will make them crack and betray the person they love (any one of about 50 things would do for me). I don't believe that there are some things that can never be healed. I don't believe that the object of power is power or the object of violence is violence. And I don't believe that such a society could ultimately be self-sustaining. It would eventually devour itself. Where there is power there is resistance. What I think is most interesting about the book is the way that language is gradually been eroded so that certain types of thinking will no longer be possible. Orwell claims that it isn't possible to understand the concept of freedom or equality if the words for them don't exist. I'm not sure if this is the case though. If it was, then how did such words come into being in the first place? I think there is a connection between language and thought, but it's not simplistic or one-directional. But despite my niggling points, 1984 is a good, if disturbing read. Do it to Julia!

Monday, June 23, 2003

Dear Sir or Madam,

I have a very severe criticism to make about your life insurance screening procedure. I have left your bank feeling upset and humiliated and am writing to you to complain.

Yesterday I made an application for a loan secured against my mortgage at the Lancaster branch of HSBC. The loan was agreed. I also decided to take out life insurance against it with HSBC (although I was not told that an option would be to take out life insurance with another company). I was asked some questions which were presented to me on a computer screen and told that if I didn’t want to answer them in front of the mortgage advisor I could put the answer in a sealed envelope. As most of the questions were fairly simple, I didn’t feel I needed to do this.

However, towards the end of the list of questions I was asked if I was homosexual. As a matter of fact I am gay. However, I don’t believe that anyone should have to reveal their sexuality to another person – it should be their choice – a matter of basic human rights. I refused to answer this question. I was then told I could write the answer and put it in a sealed envelope – which was clearly futile – as by refusing to answer I had signalled that something was amiss, and had therefore as much as said I was gay anyway. Had the question occurred earlier – or had I been warned I would have been asked about it, the sealed envelope option would have been more viable. Putting the most sensitive and embarrassing question at the end therefore lulls people into a false sense of security and makes the use of the sealed envelope a redundancy. But that’s probably why it was put last wasn’t it?

In many parts of the country, people don’t like to reveal their sexuality to others – they could get beaten up for it for example. Imagine if that question was asked in a small local branch of a bank, where the people who worked there knew lots of people in the community? Imagine if I was a married man who had occasional gay affairs. Do you think that I would want to answer that question with my wife sitting next to me?

In addition, I found the wording of the question to be offensive – I am not homosexual. I have never used that word on myself, nor does anyone I know use it. I am gay. There is a difference. Homosexual is a word which contains negative medical and legal connotations. Gay is a word that people who liked people of the same sex gave to themselves – homosexual is a word that doctors who thought we were medical freaks gave to us in the nineteenth century. Times have changed a lot since then. Hopefully you can see why homosexual is not an appropriate term to use on the questionnaire.

Also, I take offence at being singled out as possibly being more at risk from dying because I am “homosexual”. If I had answered “no” to that question, would I have then been asked “So as a heterosexual man, do you have promiscuous unprotected sex with lots of women?” If not then why not? Why are only gay people singled out as possibly being at risk if they’re promiscuous? Why not everyone? If a question about sexual activities must be asked (and really it shouldn’t be anyone’s business), then a fairer one would be simply “Do you have unprotected sex with more than X people a year?”, or even left as “Have you tested positive for HIV?” As the question stands it is discriminatory, insensitive and offensive.

I doubt that some gay people will answer the ‘are you homosexual’ question truthfully anyway – they know that if they do, there will be more intrusive questions and most likely a higher insurance premium. It also removes the power of the customer – why on earth should I have to tell the two women who interviewed me that I’m gay when I don’t know if they’re gay or straight? It’s unfair. So some people will simply lie – and then HSBC will have created a situation where gay people either deny their identity (and are made to feel guilty and ashamed) or be penalised (when promiscuous straight people aren’t).

When I complained about the “are you homosexual” question, the woman who interviewed me told me that “All the other banks ask it.” This argument simply doesn’t follow. If an injustice exists – it should be changed, and that’s all the more reason why HSBC should set an example. One hundred years ago if a British woman had wanted the vote she would have been told “Well all the other countries don’t let women vote so that’s the way it is.” Obviously, things don’t have to be set in stone. Times have changed – and anyway, with combination drug therapies people who are HIV positive are living longer. I should point out that I was only applying for a 5 year mortgage anyway! And as it happens, there are insurance companies who don’t ask about your sexuality – so it’s clearly not a necessity.

By having the question appear on a computer screen, I was unable to direct my complaint to anyone specific – I don’t know who decided that the question needed to be asked, and the two women who interviewed me were clearly so embarrassed about the whole situation that they changed the subject very quickly. Clearly, using a computer to ask difficult questions is the bank’s way of diffusing human responsibility.

Therefore, I would like a human and personal response to this letter. I would like to know why HSCB can justify this invasive question in terms of a) asking it in the first place b) using the word homosexual instead of gay c) not being bothered if I am promiscuous and have unsafe sex if I was heterosexual (therefore showing discrimination).

I will be contacting the gay rights group Stonewall about this issue, as well as a number of contacts I have in the media. I have written three books on gay issues in the past couple of years and am in the middle of a further one on homophobia in public life. A chapter for that book based on the “are you homosexual” question would make for interesting reading.

PS – your underwriters might want to be made aware that black people have a higher incidence of HIV that white people. Would they therefore like include a question such as “are you black?” on your screening questionnaire. Clearly not – such a question would be quite rightly viewed as racist. So why can you justify asking a similar question about sexuality?

Please change your policy – show the world that you are a progressive bank and it will get you more credit and support. It will also stop your customers and employees from being put in such an intolerably humiliating situation.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Are you upwardly or downwardly mobile? Upmystreet.com is insidiously fascinating and horrible at the same time. You can use it to see what your postcode says about you - it'll even tell you what foods you buy and whether you watch ITV a lot. Spy on your friends before visiting them, to decide whether or not it'll be safe to park your car outside their home. I entered all the postcodes I've ever lived at to see what it had to say about me:

Aged 1-18 Type 41: Better-Off Council Areas, New Home Owners

Aged 18-21 Type 44: Multi-Occupied Terraces, Multi-Ethnic Areas

Aged 21-25 Type 37: Multi-Occupied Town Centres, Mixed Occupations

Aged 25-31 Type 3: Mature Affluent Home Owning Areas

I'd agree with affluent (just), but mature? Surely not.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

During my first visit to America in the early 1990s, I was with a group of people who were trying to figure out why people were prepared to go on talk shows and tell all. At the time, the talk show was just taking off - so there was still much hand-wringing about it. On the whole, the conflict-based, under-class ones were yet to make an impact, but the signs were there. I've had a fascination with talk shows since then. The trashier the better. They're a guilty secret that even I, a trash addict, don't like to talk about.

However, in an attempt to intellectualise it all, I am reading "The Money Shot: Trash, Class and the American Talk Show". It's an entertaining read - trying to make sense of why people go on them (there are four types of guest, including evangelicals who have a message to spread, and moths who are attracted to the flame of celebrity), where the producers find them (they sometimes employ 'stringers' - people with large social networks who can rustle up guests at half an hour's notice) and how producers 'fluff' the guests backstage in order to get them to provide a 'money shot' (a raw display of emotion). Talk-shows are a lot like porn, it seems.

British talk shows are still fairly tame, compared with American ones. I don't know if Kilroy is still running - Kilroy is a perma-tanned, semi-suave man who looks like a gigolo-turned used car salesman. Trisha (or Trasha) features lie detector tests and people from council estates.

The book characterises talk-shows as pseudo-events (my new favourite word) - opportunities for voyeurism which have a surface impact or the appearance of an impact. Let's face it, a lot of our lives are now governed by psuedo-events. The death of Diana - a psuedo event for everyone except her friends and family. Tatu's lesbian kiss - a psuedo event. Hello magazine - a psuedo event. Big Brother - a three month long psuedo event. Welcome to the Matrix.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

People who have sex in public lavatories should face prosecution and jail terms of up to two years, say the Tories.

I would be happy for cottages to fall out of use. It doesn't really bother me when I go to a public loo and see men cruising or having sex or whatever, but I can see how it would bother plenty of other people.

However, realistically I can't see the situation changing, even if it's made illegal. Instead it will result in more homophobic violence, or safe sex workers being afraid to give out condoms to people in cottages, incase they get arrested. I've read the House of Lords debate that took place yesterday and that's one of the things they were complaining about.

Barroness Blatch: "Some homosexual charities even send so-called "outreach workers" to stand outside known cottaging grounds to hand out condoms to the homosexual men who come there for sex."

Her use of "so-called" speaks volumes for the distaste she feels about people who do this job.

Also note that Baroness Blatch says that public toilets should be "free from seedy and, frankly, disgusting practices". Is she disgusted at gay sex, or at cottaging per se? I'd argue the former - I've been doing academic research on the House of Lords and homosexuailty for some time now - and a number of Lords are openly homophobic.

Anyway, a possible solution - open up affordable gay saunas in every town and city in the UK. Use them to promote safer sex and a sense of community. Give gay men (who want it) a place where they can have sex in a friendly, safe, warm, clean environment. Make it legal to have sex in them so police raids can't take place. I know that sounds idealistic and some saunas are far from friendly, clean or safe - but if there is at least an alternative on offer, it may help to reduce cottaging, or at least give young people another choice that won't result in arrest.

Friday, June 06, 2003

In honour of "boring" (yet strangely fascinating) Jon on Big Brother, I ask bloggers (and then retreat to a safe distance), what things about yourself do most other people find boring?

Here's my list: using millions of words of data to analyse language use, driving in the countryside for miles to visit some ruined abbey for 15 minutes, talking endlessly about Lynne Redgrave and Rita Tushingham, worrying about my hair, making guests sit through hour long tapes of B movie trailers, complaining about minute cases of perceived homophobia in the media, comparing different incarnations of Star Trek and snobbing over Habitat furniture. Not all at the same time though.

Meanwhile, my fussy-old-lady local paper is "up in arms" because we're allegedly going to get a lap dancing palace, porn cinema and huge sex shop. It's Babylon! And a local night club is in trouble because it was been showing naughty films on "three plasma screens" in the boy's toilets. At least there was plenty of loo roll to hand...

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Hurrah for 28 Days Later (just out on DVD), at last a British horror film that I can feel proud of. The opening sequences in a derelict London are some of the best pieces of cinematography I've seen in a while. OK, so it gets a bit ropey towards the end, and the plot is like the three George Romero films merged into one, but I don't care.

When I was aged 15-18, I was obsessed with lots of weird ideas: 1) that I was involved in a Big Brother-type experiment and nothing around me was actually real, 2) that time-travel was possible and any minute now I was going to be visited by my older future self, 3) what I would do if a disease wiped out everyone except me. I was quite miserable at the time and believed that everything would be better in the future... I read everything about the future I could get my hands on, and used to write down predictions about what my life would be that far-in-the-future year 2000. But I was also obsessed with the possibility of the future turning out to be horrible - so I carried around 1984, Farenheit 451 and Brave New World like they were my Bibles.

This was all probably due to self-absorbed adolescent free-floating angst and my choice of movies at the time (Night of the Comet, Day of the Dead, Demons). When The Truman Show came out, I was furious - I'd had that idea years ago!

So 28 Days Later, with an empty Britain, terrorised by zombies is a welcome addition to a horror/sci-fi genre that I've always had a soft spot for. I persuaded the boyfriend to watch it with me last night (he hates horror films so I had to promise to warn him when the nasty bits came on). He had nightmares. Fortunately, I am desensitised so I didn't. It was nice to see my home town mentioned in the film, even if it was just on a motorway sign.

Speaking of my home town, it has been in the National and International Press this week, when a bull literally ran through a china shop. The place in question is called GB antiques and if you ever visit me I will probably take you there without you even asking - it's a huge antique centre which you could spend hours in, selling a mixture of "proper" expensive antique stuff and 1970s pensioner kitsch (I always go for the latter). It's where I found my Blue Lady picture, and quite a lot of my furniture was bought there.

But next door is a livestock auction place, and last week one of the bulls escaped and managed to get inside, wrecking havoc. Sadly, it was killed. Our local newspaper, shocked at actually having a big story to report for once, tut-tutted at the American media who descended on the place and were only interested in exactly how the bull was killed, what calibre weapon was used etc...

And speaking of American-bashing. Last week's episode of Enterprise was another right-wing festival of backward values. The cast encounter a race of aliens who have 3 genders. The third gender is needed for the other two to procreate, but it has a very low social status, treated like a pet. Mr Trip teaches one of them to read and puts the concept of freedom and self-actualisation in its head. The alien claims asylum with the crew of Enterprise. However, shockingly, Captain Archer refuses to grant asylym and the alien kills itself. Then Archer gives Trip a dressing down, telling him what a naughty silly boy he was for interfering in the alien culture and how it was his fault that the alien died. Then the episode ends. The not-so-implicit message being - "don't mess with or criticise other cultures, even when you find their practices abhorrent, although it's OK to trade with them. It's OK for other people to suffer, because they're not US and don't count."