Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Celebrity Lockin

Now celebrities are just like you and me, except they're invariably better looking, with whiter teeth, erm, employed a lot, famous (natch) and generally richer than thou. But apart from that, they're just the same. So instead of hypervetilating, turning pillar box red and stammering for breath, here's a few tips based on the nationwide experience of celebrity lockins from around the world which will tell you how to deal with them, right like, when you bump into them unexpectedly and are momentarily trapped. See if you can spot the true stories.*
(1) The Queen. TheRoyal Advisers always insist that the timetable include a "comfort break". You probably know what this is, so I won't use rude words to describe HRH going for a pie and mash. Come the day, when everything is going like clockwork and it's time for the comfort break so everyone can rest easy for ten minutes, have a fag, say, in the room clearly marked "staff", (adjacent the restrooms, obviously) kick open the door because you're lighting up and inhale deeply. As you turn slowly round, realising that you are not alone, do NOT say "aren't you supposed to be on a comfort break?"
(2) James Stewart. You are in a lift in the Jefferson Hotel, Washington DC and the man behind you asks what floor you want in a voice that you have heard all the way from "Merry Christmas Mr Rabbit on 34th Street" to "High Noon out the Rear Window" and you freeze, unable to move, breathe, or even move your eyeballs a teeny weeny bit from side to side. You can see, out the corner of one static eye that he has pressed "12" and out the corner of the other static eye that the lift is fast approaching "10" where you get out. Try to have a whole conversation with the poor man, one floor at a time, rather than squeezing it all in to two floors and then holding the doors open, telling him that your mother enjoyed his films, thus emphasising the age that he has felt for some time and is feeling very acutely right now. He won't be your best friend. Ever.
(3) Keanu Reeves. There are two ways of dealing with men in the gents toilet. First you can nod and smile politely and make small talk about the weather, the music, the food, the drinks, secondly you can just as politely ignore them, which is what most men do. A third way is to walk in and shout "Fuck me! You're Keanu Reeves! What the fuck are YOU doing in here??!" And then proceed to stand beside him weeing, trying not to look down. He will engage you in polite, intelligent conversation, for anything up to ten minutes, telling you his favourite film that he was in*, explaining why he didn't do Speed 2 and generally what it's like to be someone who earns $20m per movie. Very nice man, even under pressure in a toilet.
*The Devil's Advocate
(4) Prince Edward. Do not thank him for coming to your party when you have been at his.
(5) Barbara Streisand. Do your homework. When everyone else has bothered to turn up at the junket, for their alloted five questions, and you've flown in and got a special five minutes at a Malibu house which you believe to be hers but probably isn't, try to remember even the most simple facts. About, oh, marriage and such like.
(6) Hillary Clinton. Always try to address her by her own name, ie Mrs Clinton, rather than a name you have just made up in your head. She'll be very nice and understanding, but the rest of the day won't seem the same.
(7) Every TV totty presenter on UK TV. Try to get their FULL name right, rather than just an approximation, because you will invariably spit out the name of another, thus spoiling what might have been a very nice little party.
(8) Davina McCall. Do not try to impress her with the line "I'm the one who refused to employ you" because she won't be impressed.
(9) Dale Winton. Ask him how he knows Glasgow, not just the posh parts, but the rough as fuck old east end. On you go, ask him. It's not what you think. It's because he used to be a deejay for United Biscuits factories and they had three, one of which used to be in the roughest part of Glasgow imaginable.
(10) Do NOT sit in the Groucho Club slagging off Harry Enfield for being the worst fucking comedian in the history of bad comedians without first checking who is sitting in the large velvet chair backing onto you.
(11) Daniel O'Donnell, the boy from Donegal who loves his mum. Do not ask him why his fans are called bungalows ("nothing on top") because most of Donegal is covered in bungalows and you'll get a completley different answer.
(12) George Clooney. Elevator time again. In the W Hotel on Lexington. Midtown Manhattan and just as the doors are closing he jumps in beside you, just the two of you, and presses his floor. He looks up at you and smiles. You look down at him and smile. He looks up. You look down. Best not to say anything really.
(13) Double whammy. You are in a restaurant and realise that one table but one away is Jools Holland and his lovely wife. He gets up to leave and you catch his eye and say hi and engage in small talk, rather rudely talking over the people at the tiny table next to you who will, of course, understand totally and be more than a little thrilled to be having a celebrity conversation going on over their heads. When Mr & Mrs Holland have left, and you realise that the person at the next table is Annie Lennox, whom you have worshipped your entire life but didn't recognise when you sat down because it was so friggin dark, then you can legitimately crawl under the table and hide.
(14) Ant an Dec. In ITV Towers, there is a long corridor which takes you to the canteen and walking along there very often means faling into stride with complete strangers for at least a minute as you negotiate the doors and walk the floor. On your third or fourth time striding along beside the small but perfectly formed A&D do not say on reaching the canteen, "just like the school run really".

Monday, March 26, 2007

Die. It.

This is not funny. This is only the end , officially, of day one. But there have been days of prep and a full day on Saturday down Planet Organic and Holland and Barrett. Bags of market produce for juicing and smoothing. Carrot Juice. Beetroot. (fresh!). And a box of lemons.
There's a diet going on.




But not just an ordinary, semi-skimmed, can't eat chips diet. No, we've done those already. This is the full detox-water-fasting-veg stock-no alcohol-give up smoking - last blow out Sunday - not a fucking thing in the fridge except more water, juice and lemons - which is due to last seven or ten days depending on just exactly how mad this gets diet. There's apparatus involved too which has a long tube and pipe attached, there are pills of every hue and cry (remember them?) and bottles of stuff that have labels - and I can decipher a Bordeaux label at 50 yards- which I can't even read never mind make sense of.

I know, I know , I know. Support, help, generosity of spirit. Not going to local gastropub and buying a £9 plate of charcuterie and a large house merlot at 10.30pm. But the headaches, the headaches! The sickness and dizzy spells! The need to wee! (And she's not good either, boom boom, ha ha, only a joke)

Out all day tomorrow at meetings; already planned mid-morning croissanty things in Soho, lunch in West End womb of a place whose menu I know so intimately I could telephone the order now, and end of day in some Shoreditch/Hoxton stripped out former warehouse now serving Japanese Tapas or Burmese Oatcakes, who cares. If only this was China. We could have dimsum for breakfast too. Dammit. Suppose I'll have to talk these people between courses. Double dammit.

Day two is apparently bad, but not the worst. We'll see. May telephone from Ronnie Scott's (mmmmmm Bar Italia 2am espresso and hot chicken milanese sandwich!) just to check in advance. Maybe I could bring home a takeaway.

DAY TWO
This is going spectacularly well, although I must confess to a slight touch of the hallucinations having seen in Soho today Clive Owen, Sir Alastair Burnet, and Christopher Biggins. Plus assorted playmates, but they don't count.
A multplatform monetising day with muffins, no lunch sadly, a small Burger King hamburger, chocolate, more chocolate, three beers and a small McDonald's hamburger before boarding the tube, thus arriving home not particularly hungry for a plate of excellent rabbit food (the detox has been changed already, solid foods allowed on day two) before settling down for Life on Mars and The Devil's Advocate.
mmmm sorry, even I don't find this interesting. How about a huge fight with the bank? The bastards chaged me £250 in bank charges today (apparently I was sent a letter) but I regarded it is a fraud and told them. More on this later, as well as the detox.

DAY THREE
This is so bloody fantastic I'm going to stop writing about it. Nobody's dead, nobody's shouting, there are no migraines, there's weight being lost (apparently) and all is sweetness and light in the nationwide shared household. This morning after the vegetable smoothy thing which was quite nice I had a secret sausage roll, £1.39 from the garage, all warm and lovely and juicy and melting and greasy and generally delicioso! Then at lunchtime while the diet queen was having an emergency salad thingy with a sympathetic friend, I rescued the potted shrimps bought in a moment of Morecambe Madness from the back of the fridge and with a biscuit or two had a very lovely snack type thing which tasted all fishy and buttery and warm and biscuity and crunchy and generally beatific. (You can probably tell, I'm a little hungry these days)
But joy Oh Joy Oh joy (a phrase currently reserved for Fish and Chips) we are to spend the evening apart (if you read this pal F this is meant in a good way) after I come back from the pub. The chums down the pub know what's going on and therefore will leave the ENTIRE BOWL of miniature sausages alone while I casually, nay delicately, place them between my lips one at a time, or possibly all at once - who's to say that twelve little chipolatas all have to be eaten separately - and discuss matters of state which will sadly include Scotland's chances tonight which I'm not even going to watch!
No tonight, I happen to know there are pork chop things in the fridge, and a half bag of frozen chips, and between the pub and the nationwide house there is an offie which sells wine........ and I'm watching the telly and pretending to be interested in The Apprentice but actually I'm only watching for the inane rantings of the glitterati and pond life (you know who you are) of Organ Grinder who're doing a live blog which I did a few weeks ago while pissed.
mmmmm pork chop type things......

DAY FOUR
I'm fed up with this now. Too calm. Veggie smoothy type thing for breakfast OK then nothing, wasn't hungry. Too busy moaning about fucking Gordon Ramsay on the F word last night. God that man gets away with fucking murder, I don't know. You take a perfectly good programme (much like Kitchen Nightmares) and then let some oaf who can knock up a dish swear every fifteen seconds and whoa! he's worth £60million overnight. Aubergine (see, we're talking about food here, not telly, media monkeys) used to be brilliant and you could virtually walk in and get a table at 9 after all the American tourists were tucked up in bed, and there would be G Ramsay actually cooking , as opposed to swearing and bullying and trying desperately to be funny (you're not even Scottish, never mind funny) and he'd occasionally pop out and say hi, to the ex wife, not me, he only swore at me at Awards Ceremonies, that's where it fucking started, well how come I swear as much as him and I didn't get paid £60 million for it? Then he walked out of Aubergine and it's all gone, em, something bigger than a big thing and he's got his kids writing for the Observer and his wife on telly and restaurants all over the world and an internet CCTV system for all his kitchens and a Ferrari, at least one, and yet he just fucking swears ALL the fucking time! Jesus H.
If I swore as much as that I'd have been fucking bopped by now or jailed or something, but not worth fucking sixty mill. Bastard.
I'm off to Pal D for dinner, he's a brilliant cook and has promised me high protein high fat luxury food (a pie probably) since he thinks I'm starving and obviously hasn't read this. Fuckim.

DAYS FIVE, SIX and, oh who cares?
I don't. I made an all vegetable fruit medley type dinner which had our wees stinking to high heaven (I knew about asparagus, but not the artichoke) Odd colour too. But then the weekend arrived with a bang.
First mistake, she of the no-drinking veg-only diet says she'll come into E&O to say hi at lunchtime to chums and then go around Portobello Road buying all the fruit and veg it's possible to fit in the trunk of a car, but instead stays for some edamame beans and also to watch me guiltily consume moderate amounts of posh overpriced dimsum and small amounts of wine. For two hours.

Second mistake, having already backed out of entire weekend of new French Cinema at the Curzon Mayfair, exploit wave of euphoria from my excellent broccoli soup to go see one film, A Few Days in September, and get caught in media scrum as Juliette Binoche, the rather attractive star, arrives at same time to get photo taken. The film is utter rubbish, infuriatingly self obsessed and just plain awful. We are so animated in our anger at it that we manage to drive past The Brasserie (mmm steak and chips) without flinching and come back to watch Batman, a very sensible movie as it happens, but where I try unsuccessfully to sneak glas of wine.

Third mistake, go for drinks Sunday lunchtime where people are cooking heavenly lunch they are going to eat after we have left. Realise I am insane with hunger. Sit outside Harrods beside big Bentley with number plate "V POSH" and unbelievably, discover it IS Mrs Beckham's four wheel confirmation of complete lack of class and taste.
Fail this time to make it past The Brasserie. Try hard to make do with omelette, salad and water. Can't. Have wine in front of diet queen and feel guilty (again) as I eat. Buy loads of expensive French fruit juice as compensation (yes this is officially nuts now) but then meet movie chum for guilt free wine, as diet queen drives off.

Get home to insane amount of work, reveal that I cannot stand Brown Rice (final nail in weekend coffin) and watch whole of Louis Theroux who really is having a laugh now, shooting fish in a barrel with mad family of American religious zealouts whose "anti-fag" policy is too ludicrous to explain. End up doing stupid amount of work until, oh, 1.45am. Shit.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

How to watch "Dancing on Ice"

This is the latest in a series, following "Ross Kemp's Homicidally Vicious Gangs", "Donald McIntyre's Psycho Hoodlums", "Why Football Has Benefitted From Sky", "Really Fast Cop Chases Which End In Death", "Big Al's Drunk Pub Happy Hour Fights" , "Tie or No Tie" and "Phwoar: The Blue Peter Babes".

OK it's over, but trust me, it's coming back, and this easy to follow cut-out-and-keep guide to watching Dancing On Ice will earn you more brownie points than you can possibly imagine. Weeks of learning have gone into this.


(1) Say nothing. Not nothing, as in "I'm not talking to you because Lauren Laverne's on the other side doing the Culture Show and you want to watch this shit" nothing, but nothing in the sense that you don't know anything. You really, really don't (because in fact nobody does, it's all made up. Just like the tight costumes). Don't even try to understand what's going on, it will just give you a headache.

(2) When you do feel comfortable/qualified to open your mouth make it short. "mmmm" "wow" "fab", as opposed to "ha! look where his fucking hand is!" or "wow, she's got nice...(you can fill in just about anything here as very, very little is left to the imagination is these outfits) and do not, under any circumstances, question anyone's sexual preferences. Lost cause. None of your bizzo anyway.

(3) When someone makes a total arse of themselves (Bonny Langford falling over) do NOT loudly guffaw and slap thighs externally. Internally is OK, while whispering, "oooh" and listening to partner scream "OH! MY! GOD!" while staring in horror at television as if it has just thrown up on carpet. (tip: there's a slomo replay coming up. Sit still, very still, until it's over. Do not draw attention to yourself)

(4) Philip Schofield will look directly at you and talk a lot. It is permissable to stare blankly at screen while he's doing this, you don't have to pay attention here as it's all rubbish, and you can use these valuable seconds to think about important things. However if you are cooking dinner at the time, do NOT wander in from kitchen and say "what is that twat on about now?" as this will undo the previous few minutes work.

(5) The outfits are NOT sexy. In the sense that yes, they are tight fitting lycra leaving nothing to the imagination (let's just leave the boys out of this for the moment, shall we? I've seen rugby players naked in the bath, pop stars knobs, and actors expose themselves, but that's different),
they are not sexy in the normal sense. It is possible to stare at the screen seeing something different than, say, one's partner who might be concentrating on the finer points of skating at that moment rather than observing what is clearly a spray painted animal's hoof, or where the man's hand has just found itself in the name of art. Best to pocket these thoughts for later.(see 10)

(6) When the judge on the left has yet another hissy fit with the judge in the middle do try to remember that this entire charade is a game. For all you know they're not even gay. Although that's unlikely in the circs.

(7) Try to look as if you're interested when being addressed about the chances of somebody winning and don't just say "are they the ones in blue?" as that will give the impression that you haven't been paying rapt attention. Which you have.

(8) There is a break in the middle where the whole of Britain tries to get enough credit on their phones to vote for their favourite celebrity skater. Try not to fuck up here by (a) not noticing the programme has momentarily ended, (b) desperately flicking through Sky to find ANYTHING to watch or (c) sarcastically commenting on people stupid enough to vote while partner is texting on mobile.

(9) Have another glass of wine.

(10) Considerably later, after somebody - anybody - has won, cash in brownie points.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lovely

We don't have hangovers today which is a good thing because...

we're moving today, not house which would be traumatic, but office which is just a pain, particularly since it's snowing and for several days now it's officially been spring, and what with global warming and my half Italian partner squawking "primavera" into the skype to Rome every fifteen seconds I had rather hoped that when the van turned up we could be toiling - when I say we I mean the blokes that do the toiling as opposed to the very intelligent general types who organise the toil - in the hot spring sun complaining about global warming and Gordon Brown, instead of which we (sorry they) will be shivering their nuts off on the stairs, dragging wet footprints in and out the old office and more importantly probably in and out the new one, being shouted at by half Italian partner who wants us to remove our shoes each time and said blokes will probably not want to do that, well if I was them I definitely wouldn't want to do that, and more than likely catching a cold by the end of the day which would be shite.

Anyway the thankful absence of hangover is due to an excess of Guinness, W11 was fair overflowing with Guinness last night, not the creamy, lovely stuff you get to drink in Ireland (do you know that the Evening Standard once carried out a survey, this was in the day when London Guinness used to be made at Park Royal in that fabulous old monument of a building that reminded you you were back in London after a weekend in Oxfordshite but because you had been sitting in the A40 Sunday night traffic jam for so long you had lost the will to live, never mind navigate, anyway the Standard carried out a scientific survey to find out which was better, London or Dublin Guinness, because despite the London brewery you could actually get Dublin Guinness in London in places like the Toucan - there was only one then in Carlisle Street which was brilliant but there's two now and I don't go any more (tourists) - and they came to the most startling conclusion, that Dublin Guinness was better, not because it was made from water sucked out the Liffey (there used to be rumours, kind of verbal virals, which said the London Guinness was made with Liffey - as opposed to iffy - water too but it wasn't) but because you got to drink Guinness in Ireland, and that's actually the reason why it tasted better (sorry Toucan people) but that's all irrelevant now since it's all made in Ireland, just up the road from the factory where they knock out the traditional Irish pubs and export them to Vladivostocck and Tokyo (that's a true fact that is) and if you go to, say, Moran's just south of Galway and have a plate of oysters drawn straight out the water at the weir in front of you I'll guarantee the pint of Guinness they serve with it is the tastiest pint you'll ever have in your life and I defy you just to have the one) anyway it wasn't THAT kind of Guinness that was overflowing in W11 last night it was the Guinness of the Lulu and Jonathan and family clan variety who had gathered for a birthday party in Westbourne Studios and the bloke whose birthday it was had reformed his band for the night - the De Fribulators - who were not half bad but there was so much chatter and gossip and air kissing going on that there was no real time to drink, I'm not sure they actually serve Guinness there anyway, you'll have to ask someone who works there, and anyway we had to leave early because we're moving today.

And another thing, did anyone ever see those episodes of The Bill directed by david hayman which went on and on and on without any editing or stops or anything, as if he had forgotten how to punctuate? No, thought not.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Insert Clever Headline*

The wonderful thing about the internet, and this blogging malarkey, is that later today I'll be able to raid Wikipedia or someplace and find some elegant phrase to describe just how fucking freezing it was in London last night, and insert it without you knowing, thus elevating myself to the dizzy heights of Dorothy Parker or Richard Littlejohn, and probably winning an award for brilliant blogging or something....


Anyway, despite the fucking cold, we made it to dinner in North London and it gave us something to moan about while we're throwing our coats down and sinking the first drink, awaiting the stragglers before we could sit down and eat. Pal A is a fantastic cook and it's worth skipping the dim sum or Gregg's Jumbo Sausage Roll (*change this too) at lunch to appreciate his fine fare. Over the salad we discussed the forthcoming French Film Festival at the Curzon Mayfair where I determinedly determined that I would wish to see all 12 films in two days (at a later date we shan't bother inseerting how many I actually see after La Vie en Rose), the just passed Chinese Film Festival at the Filmhouse Edinburgh which Pal S (son of Pal A) was raving about (* insert names of Chinese films) and then Bill, who was explaining his attempts to get an exhibition in London for a Nigerian newspaper political cartoonist.

Bill, one of the most quiet spoken men I've met in a long time, ler slip after a glass or two that he lived a little further north of Belsize Park, Kirkwall to be exact (in the Orkneys, d'oh!) where among other things he has been a sometime trawler fishermen for many years and nearly drowned twice, the first time being near his home when he'd line caught so many sharks his wee boat sank under the weight and he went down with it. Everything that could float did, including the last two sharks which were still alive and slowly swam off into the dark, cold waters, towards John O'Groats possibly (*), thankfully not turning around to see the drowning man who had hauled them aboard in the first place.
The second time was in the Minch where his slightly bigger boat was holed by a stray railway sleeper in the middle of the night. (I'll stop the flowing flow (*) of this narrative to explain to those who, unlike experts in this subject like my good self, have no idea why railway sleepers float around the Minch in a random manner. It's because they're used to shore up piers and sometimes break off. Jeez, don't you know anything?) Anyway, the vessel goes down sharpish he and his mate get into the liferaft and fire off flares, one of which goes straight up and straight back down again, threatening to hole the liferaft in one. The rest of the story consists of being rescued and transferred from one boat to another to another etc in a heavy swell, sub zero temperatures, and nearly drowning. Ended well, and more drink was taken (then, and last night)

Funnily enough, Belsize Park didn't seem quite as cold when we left.

Smokin!

They guy at the Fedex office had been turfed out to have a last fag of the day, even though it was freezing, so I says to him, sympathetically of course, "after July you'll be stuck out here permanently". It was a joke, obviously, carrying the message that unless he gives up smoking, like all right thinking people such as me, he will be stuck outside when England catches up with the rest of the UK and bans smoking in a variety of places from pubs and restaurants to offices and school nurseries. You'll only be able to smoke inside, in prison, ha ha. How he laughed.



In New York, when Bloomberg started his campaign to make the city completely smoke free (that's his legacy - no smoking anywhere if he can manage it in time) a local midtown bar/ restaurant went through the following transformation. Since it's only girls who smoke nowadays, they would all pile out at half time (after three drinks or in between courses) for a cigarette (no, I'm not going to say fag). The management eventually put a strip of astroturf outside for their comfort and the girls - who had tottered in earlier in heels, makeup, glamorous coats and bags etc, were to be found a little later in the cold with no shoes, outerwear gone, smoking and laughing like blokes used to do (without the shoe removal, obviously). It was an unintentional side effect and led one out of towner to bemoan the decline of New York "with all these girls on the street".

Glasgow has gone a step further. European cafe culture has finally arrived. Every bar, pub and restaurant has it's own roped-off astroturf strip, complete with Parisian style metallic chairs and tables, where the denizens of the Dear Green Place can be found elegantly drawing on a Sobranie Continental, swapping humorous anecdotes with the demi monde. Only last November, in subzero temperatures, I witnessed this gay repartee outside several bars, where some of the jokers had gone one step further and decided to have a wee lie down as well. My ungracious hosts, smokers all, describe their Friday nights as "hell" where they now have to leave the pub by 9pm for fear of arrest, and regard the smoking areas as a Hogarthian nightmare populated by the worst imaginable drunks and tosspots. Obviously, when I told them to give up smoking they nodded, open mouthed, in appreciation of my insight into the matter.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I hate you. Well, no I don't really.

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to actually hate anything of any substance any more, or anyone for that matter, so I think I'd better compile a list.


(1) Call Centres, obviously. All of them, without exception. Fucking blight on humanity.
(2) The same bloke who I speak to in my mobile phone call centre every month.
(3) Barclays Bank. And not just the call centre.
(4) My ex-wife's nasty little crook of a solicitor.
(5) A guy who works in Sky that I'd better not name here. Sadly, he does not know who he is , as he is valuable to both me and my company. But he is such a lying, nasty, two faced ass.
(6) I did hate a guy I worked beside but he's dead, so that doesn't count. I'll replace him with Parking Meter attendants, Westminster Parking Servcies (call centre I'm afraid) and Bailiffs. Especially bailiffs.
(7) Marmite and HP Sauce. With a passion.
(8) Rothko.
(9) Fucking Cipriani in Davies St, London. The emperors new clothes.
(10) Floury Chinese Buns (I live on Dim Sum, but I won't eat THAT!)

Hardly Margaret Thatcher, George Bush, world poverty and all of Wales, is it? Must try harder.

Oh, and parma ham that's off on a pizza topping, although that was only yesterday, so I'll probably hate it slightly less tomorrow.

joy pain joy

Fuck me, life can be cruel.
There's never anything on TV when I get in so I end up putting my marigolds on and doing the televisual equivalent of unblocking the sink...


surfing through the Sky EPG down into the unknown, picking through the shards of crispy bacon, old episodes of The Monkees, and a deluge of cookery/travel/lifestyle filler that you just know nobody else is watching. Occasionally there will be a comedy gem, a repeat of an Office episode you've seen twenty five times or a Fawlty Tower or two, sometimes a shiny new morsel, like Badly Dubbed Porn on Paramount which leaves you slightly bemused: are you watching because it's funny or because every 25 seconds somebody gets their kit off and gets down and dirty over a desk? I would ask pal F but she's generally getting the beauty sleep in by this time. Probably best not to disturb her on such a trifling matter.

But whoa there boy!! What's this on Men and Motors at 11.30pm???? It's a stray episode of The Larry Sanders Show, like a cute little lost puppy in your living room, unexpectedly, with a pedigree, not the snivelling mutt that gets chased away from the bins every night.

All I have to do is watch Men and Motors, a channel I can honestly say I have never watched even when I knew the boss there, a singularly attractive women of my professional and platonic acquaintance who determinedly set about "changing the channel" a few years back, ie a few more cars and all the totty on late at night. Anyway, never watched it. At all.

It's 11.20 so I switch on and there's some turgid US tosh where puppets are voicing prank telephone calls, sub Victor Lewis-Smith style, in a faintly rude pastiche of Nick Park's idea for Creature Comforts but without any wit, charm, style, creativity, anything. It's shite. But only 5 minutes to go. Yippee.

Let me explain to the uninitiated. There was once a band called "Pop Will Eat Itself", well the Larry Sanders Show is "Television and All Media Will Eat Itself" dreamt up by the US comedian Gary Shandling and uber-producer Brad Grey to deconstruct the very chat shows that Shandling occasionaly hosted on US TV - Carson, Letterman, the Jay Leno kind of thing. In addition to the best characters and magnificent scripts they got A-list actors to come on and parody themselves, in a way never seen before.
Bob Mills did an LWT version here which was more a homage to the original it was so weak, and Ricky Gervais stole the idea for Extras, I think he openly admits it because he recently interviewed Shandling. Anyway it meant that people like Alec Baldwin would come on, an actor who tends to grab more headlines for his off screen activities than on, and he would be having an affair with Larry's wife before guesting on the show. Jon Stewart was always the guest standin host who Larry was shit scared of because Jon was a better, funnier presenter and really did want Larry's job but always denied it to his face.

The cast of characters playing behind the scenes like Hank the oleogenus support man and Art the foul mouthed boss (who only ever swore gratuitously) were superb. The show was essentially about deceit and being false to your friends and colleagues, about a total lack of moral fibre or loyalty, where everyone smiled at everyone else before knifing them in the back. Television Gold, Pure Joy. BBC2 showed it late on a Tuesday night after Seinfeld, the US No 1 comedy which nobody ever really got here but paved the way for other shows which were about nothing (like Friends) with the exception of a single episode about masturbation which they did without ever actually mentioning the word itself.

Anyway, I digress. Larry Sanders was recently bought by ITV4 but I never watched it and unlike every other hit US comedy/action/thriller/scifi/blockbuster/war after Sex and the City, the boxed set is surely on its way. Yes? No.

The producers never cleared all the music and secondary rights for the series so there are episodes which can never be shown again (some guy's illegally uploaded the whole thing onto YouTube if you don't mind watching in 9 minute bites) and apart from anything else everyone fell out with everyone else at the end. Shandling ended up in court with Brad Grey - one of the most powerful men in Hollywood now who could get anything cleared he wants over a drink in the Polo Lounge - and apparently the cast member Shandling was having an affair with was bumped off the show, and as a consequence hates him, but a mini-boxed set comes out next month with some episodes and Shandling going around interviewing people in an uncomfortable manner for "closure" (and a few bucks). Including the former lover.

So, television joy awaits, any second now. It doesn't matter which episode it is. Every single episode of Larry Sanders is knuckle chewingly funny. It hasn't properly dated yet, so you're still laughing with it rather than laughing at it, and you never know, it could just be the one where Hank is dressed as a mermaid and Art tells him he's a fucking waste of space, which he says every week but never to his face.

But it's now 11.32 and the stupid puppet thingy is still dragging on, although those graphics look suspiciously like opening titles. Check the EPG. "11.30 Men and Motors. Larry Sanders". Maybe they're running late, maybe there was a newsflash earlier in the evening about Iraq. OK about Playboy then. But it's now 11.45 and the fucking puppets are still there.
Panic is setting in. Have another drink. Want puppets off my telly please. Wish to see them dead.

No Larry Sanders. Shit. Will call Men and Motors to complain. (Yeah right, like there's going to be someone there who cares) Or maybe I'll just dig out some soft toys from the back of a cupboard somewhere and set them alight, frighten that fucking mutt out by the bins. I'll think about that later. Have another drink. Bastard. Grrrrr. Life can be cruel.

Monday, March 19, 2007

anonymous blogging

There are small communities of like minded bloggers all over the planet who have come together to talk about common issues (nhar nhar! oh the freedom to stick in double entendres at will!). I contribute to several but one of the most fascinating is the Guardian Organ Grinder.

It's ostensibly a blog for media comment - when Big Brothers on the posts go through the roof - and it's all anonymous. Only the Moderator in Chief knows the ISPs and can work out who is who and since I guess a lot of the people who're posting are known to Guardian staff (I know I am) then this is a good thing.

At the core there's a ragbag of anonymous taters who write every day. I went into ovedrive last Friday making stupid, inebriated comments about the BBC telethon Comic Relief but day in day out the same names appear.

Here's a guide to the people who I don't know. But do, if you see what I mean.

MelBel : by far the most prolific tater, known for her irrational hatred of anyone associated with ITV but better known for her fast and loose use of English as she is spoke. Likes a Limoncillo or two and between the lines genuinely very nice, with a heart of gold. Or possibly not.

Mickydolenz - who used to play drums in the Monkees and was once Circus Boy, now a prolific writer whose inspiration, much like Hemingway, lies in a glass or two of something frisky. Witty, funny, bitter, twisted, etc etc. Will get the Nobel prize for blogging when it's invented. Beware, likes a fight.

Yeractual - hysterically funny Northerner (or so he claims) whose pecadillos and writing skills are beyond reproach. Maybe he should get the Nobel. Suggested (five minutes ago) that the above collaborate on a communal blog. Too late mate.

Oniongravy, a rather sensitive flower, believed to be northern too but shields his identity under a mix of delicate phraseology and bluff counterpoints. A creative writer of the first order. But given his predeliction for gravy made entirely out of onions should never be trusted with a pot and spoon.

Dblack, another one whose wit and charm overflows with bonhomie until someone sets themself up as a target in which case he likes...etc. Dblack is the only one to have knowingly revealed his true identity. He's a proper grown up rock star who has had hits and all that. But I'm not going to say here who he is. Wouldn't be right.

Terrywogan - recently had baby (wow - a true fact!) and is one of the most contrary writers on the thread, specialising in one-liners. Loves everyone usually , especially MelBel. Suspect he's not really Terry Wogan.

Kemuri : likes a fight.

Peartreeproductions : writes sensibly and likes to wind everyone up by arguing that white is in fact white.

joedoone, a writer I think, whose witty and creative bon mots are posted from a different location in manchester each time. There can't be THAT many internet caffs, he must be onto Salford by now. Oh, and he likes a fight, best illustrated in the phrase "what do you mean, I like a fight?"

Hfactor, a spectacularly spikey lady who is terribly funny but oooooh likes a scrap it seems from her more acid offerings on OG. I am, however, grateful to her for introducing me, via her own blog, (which is very witty and amusing) to Brit in Hokkaido and subsequently an Englishman in Osaka, both of which are fantastic personal blogs from two places I happen to know and love, written by very nice people.

More to come when I remember them. But have to go do work right now. Unusually.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

funny person

Channel Four's running that "top 100 standups" again which for a clipshow is quite funny (it's supposed to be totally funny) and Bill Hicks has just passed through. I'm told he was the funniest person on the planet. But Gerry Sadowitz has just performed, not like a dose of salts, possibly more like caustic soda. He's the most outrageous outrage in Bar Outrage on Planet Outrageous.
Back in the day, his short lived Time Out column was a taste of things to come. He caused, um, outrage. His shows have to have security. What was it he called Mother Teresa? A cunt?

I met him. He was managed by Pal P for a while - we'll come back to Pal P in another post - and Gerry was a quiet guest at lunch. I saw him before that in his wee magic shop in Clerkenwell - well Theobalds Road - in London's original Little Italy before Soho took over. He specialises in close up card tricks which defy the senses - utterly brilliant at them.

Thing is, on stage there's no-one to touch him. He's, um, fuckn magic.

world's funniest joke

The world's funniest joke was the "Gooseberry Joke" as told by the Dangerous Brothers.

The Dangerous Brothers, when they existed, were a very young Rik Mayall and partner Ade Edmondson. This was before the Young Ones (where they teamed up with the Outer Limits - Nigel Planer and Peter Richardson, except Peter pulled out) and before "Bottom" where R&A acted as the Dangerous Brothers (same clothes, same persona) except they hit each other in a televisual way with frying pans and pots etc.

On stage the Rik character would start the joke innocently asking what's green and hairy and goes up and down? (the answer's a gooseberry in a lift. Hee hee) Ade's character was puzzled on several counts (not the least of them being an absence of humour). He asked how Rik knew. Then he asked how the gooseberry operated the lift. Then who told Rik. For about 20 minutes Rik continually tries to adapt the joke, adding Ade's riders in order to make sense. It turns out that Rik actaully KNEW the gooseberry, and his name was Derek.
As you're probably aware by now, the joke was a lot funnier than any attempt at explanation. It's probably on YouTube.

call centres

Call centres. Which one do you love the most?

Volcano

May I draw your attention to Montserrat, the British oveseas territory in the Caribbean located just a short hop from Antigua. Everyone thinks it's deserted. It's not.

The hurricane(s) and volcanic eruptions of over a decade ago resulted in 9 of the 11 thousand people leaving, but they've been replaced by 2,000 incomers thus making the population about 4,000 now. The lower half of the island, the Exclusion Zone, is deserted and ruined (that's got a lot to do with the hundreds of thousands of tons of volcanic ash that cover the main town, Plymouth, and the surrounding vilages) but the top half is where everyone lives and, for those who can get it, works.
The volcano is due to blow again, sending upwards of 100,000 tones of ash into the air, or descending down the mountainside in pyroclastic flows which take 90 seconds to reach the sea and sizzle and boil. If you were standing there you'd look like one of those cartoon skeletons, stripped and burned of all flesh in a split second. Except it would n't be a cartoon. But of course if you ever went to Montserrat you'd never get anywhere near any danger as it's all sectioned off into The Exclusion Zone and in order to get anywhere near it you'd have to get the police involved. It's a beautiful island to visit with lovely people and it's convoluted history of Irish slavers has resulted in it's greenness bestowing an Irish flavour, particularly around St Patrick's day ( a national holiday) , or week as we have come to know it (thankyou Guinness)
The best website is mvo.com, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, and a neat album is by Jimmy Buffet, "Volcano", recorded at Air Studios on the island.

Oh, and the best liming bar on the island is called The Volcano.

Boys are boys

Alcohol intake this weekend. Zero. (not including Friday night)
Alcohol intake last weekend. Enough to sink a battleship.



Lunch on Saturday with pal D who wants swift one to tell me about the breakdown of relationship, imminent new flat and what he's planning to cook for boys lunch following day. 7 rum and cokes later he's still talking and it's 5pm. He's cooking for 6 that night but I'll be lucky if I make it home, having drunk superior red wine by the glass, drink for drink with pal D.
Do make it home to the chagrin of pal F (for female) who quizzes me on the afternoon's whereabouts knowing full well that pal D is Trouble.
Fib.
Make dinner, I think, drink more wine and have to go to sleep by 11.
Rise late. Don't buy papers, read headlines online and flick through Skynews. Pal D's boys lunch looms and pal F is not overly happy knowing that yesterday was just a trial run. Escape and jump on bus having raided offie and set sail with Observer on lap and the moving panorama of West London on all sides of top deck. Good. We move for about 10 minutes then stop.
Chelsea have been playing Spurs and are coming out (d'oh! numbnuts) and we grind to a halt. No point in exiting bus (no buses, no taxis, no tube) so sit and read Obs. It takes nearly an hour to crawl around Fulham Broadway. Wish to eat Obs now rather than read it. Chelsea fans everywhere (except on bus, they're too smart).
Well into the second hour we're still in Fulham. I am agitated, obviously, but the other six people on the top deck, who are from Poland are clearly enjoying the day judging by the number of photographs they're taking. Now more than politely late and text pal D to explain. Turns out there's another playmate on another bus suffering the same fate so not so bad then.
Make it to Knightsbridge. Brompton Road totally locked solid, both directions. No real alternative here either so sit for further 45 mins.
Eventually give up and get off (annoyingly cannot ask for money back) and hail cab who informs me that because of some football match or other, the whole of West London has ground to a halt. I said I knew that already and gave him permission to reach W9 by any route he likes as long as it doesn't involve traffic.
We sit stationary in Hyde Park for 20 minutes, listening to the meter slowly tick, trying not to watch.
Get to lunch at 4.45pm, twenty five pounds poorer, and slightly hungry. Everyone is pissed, having watched the rugby, opened the wine, but delayed the grub.
Food served - deep fried salt cod fritters followed by slowcooked shoulder of lamb, yum! - but wolfed in a blur, this being an all male affair and no need for ceremony or polite conversation. Can talk with mouth full, lick knife, have kitchen salt on table. One bottle declared corked but vino consumed as if there's no tomorrow (don't worry, there won't be) until we run out and adjourn to pub over road which has just been bought by Gordon Ramsay, the logic apparently being that if you can get thirty people in a day for a £7 pub lunch (that's £210 right?) then all you have to do is get 10 people in for a £20 Gordon Ramsay style publunch and you're away! Mmmmm. Possibly.
More pals arrive. No-one has got any money so cards are being used. We are collectively, politely, jokily pissed as a bag of newts. Time to go. But we don't.
Back to pal D for more, and more. No money, no idea what time it is. Share cab and agree price of £15 before we set off with driver. Pal P demands to be taken home first as he's "up" in the morning. Get to his gaff then Polish driver demands another £15 . I remonstrate. He does too. Call controller who answers question "How much to take from SW3 tio SW6?" which is of course a trick question as we had agreed a single price for entire journey. postcodes are cheating at this time of night.
Controller sides with driver and since I have no more dosh, there are no cash points, words of a less than polite nature are exchanged and I get out and walk. Furious. Bastard.
However, two mile walk home has desirable effect and, despite the lateness of the hour, arrive back quietly and tiptoe up to bed, not awaking pal F.
Success.

Until following morning when pal F does same and after silencing alarm radio, leaves me to sleep soundly for several hours until way, way past start time. Dammit.

sex and drugs and rock and roll

I met Marianne Faithful yesterday. She stopped me in the street to ask where a restaurant was and despite the rock star shades, I could vaguely recognise a personage familiar to me.


When she said that, yes, she was familiar to me and that she was in fact Marianne Faithful we fell into natural conversation despite a little weeny tiny voice in my brain going "ask her, ask her" but we chatted amiably about life in Dublin and Paris and her not knowing London anymore and her tour and suchlike. Lovely and charming. The woman who embodied the phrase "sex and drugs and rock and roll" and probably even invented it for all I know, who, if memory serves me right went out with a Beatle and a Rolling Stone, and who has spent most of her life blasted out of her tree. But I didn't ask. Because you don't do you?
Anyway my teenage daughter met Sienna Miller and Matt from Busted, so that put my gas in a peep.