Homage à Spellcnut.

Like him (but unlike her), I’m bored of August now. It’s been dragging on for far too long. Not nearly enough going on. OK, nothing going on. This office: a hub of inactivity and empty desks. (We’ve just done a head count: eight, in an office which has been known to hold forty.) My clients in Europe have all buggered off for the duration, as Europeans are wont to do. What’s the Cost Code for Thumb Twiddling? Can’t do much until the Big Database Cheese comes over from Holland next week. In the meantime, I’ve perfected my “don’t interrupt me, I’m concentrating on something VERY IMPORTANT” look… whilst all I’m really doing is hitting Refresh on this thread and this thread on I Love Music. Or else beefing up my Freecell stats (21 wins in a row and counting, I’ll have you know). Although my neighbour has just told me about the double-click thingy on Minesweeper, so I might be shifting my allegiances. August and January are K’s favourite months, as the streets are all empty and he can enjoy the relative peace and quiet of the city. I’m with him on January, but not on August. Especially as September is possibly my favourite month of the year: every sunny day feels like an unexpected bonus, and there’s a feeling of rebirth and renewal in the air, as everybody gets stuck back into their lives and the world begins to move on once again. Plus the blogs stop being crap, obviously. At least, this one does. Severe prolonged mojo-loss, in case you hadn’t noticed. Beyond tedious. But then there’s no point pushing it, if the words won’t come. I spent about an hour last Friday fiddling around with an attempt to describe last Thursday night’s goings on in George’s bar (and beyond) – at least, the publishable stuff – but had to give up, which I almost never do. Brain like concrete. Mind you, stopping up after 3am on a school night hardly helped. (Give you a clue: there’s that evergreen gag which we ‘mos never tire of telling, which bears the punchline “five pints of lager“. A convenient fiction, I’ve always thought. Note past tense.) Anyway, Mish described the first half of the evening far more ably than I ever could: go take a look. We’re doing it all over again this Thursday: the guest blogging dream team, that is. Minus the elusive Nixon, although he’s more than welcome to join us (20:30 onwards in George’s). And thence to Stealth, where The Fiery Furnaces and Sons & Daughters are appearing at Club NME. He‘ll be there, and he‘ll be there, and he‘ll be there. K still hasn’t chopped those bloody awful tufts off, so I’m still intermittently chuffing… but I sense we are moving onto some sort of endgame at last. His parents celebrated their Ruby Wedding last weekend, so the extended family were on a three-line whip; we all met up for lunch in a pub in Cheshire, which was full of a very particular type of flash git, of the sort which you only really find in Cheshire. The lunch was lovely, though; I had sirloin of roast beef, and it was Yum. K and his sister handed over a bottle of Burgundy as a present, thus following the Ruby theme – except that the Burgundy wasn’t really the present, but more of a Big Clue, in the style of 3-2-1 with Ted Rogers . It was fun watching their faces when they realised they had actually won a Luxury Holiday For Two! In beautiful and historic Burgundy! With wine tastings galore! And lots of Daily Telegraph readers for company! Meanwhile, the cottage garden is looking fookin lush after all this rain, especially the lawns, which have never looked greener or thicker. Although I’m sick of pruning the sodding geraniums all the time. The bottom’s much better though (yes, you CAN ask) – I can even walk down the twelve flights of steps in this office, which is the ultimate test as far as I’m concerned. Not so much as a twinge since the back end of last week. I’m back on the SJW’s though – as of this morning, in fact – but only after careful and prolonged consideration, so don’t all go wagging your fingers at me. No further background info, as it’s not that sort of blog. (Misery is not my muse, etc – see Troubled Divas passim.) Athough I will share with you my Quote Of The Week, courtesy of that veritable fountain of considered wisdom, Ms. Julie Burchill, in last Sunday’s Observer: “Depression is the most extreme form of vanity.” Which, once you filter out all the surrounding layers of deliberately provocative Burchill-ese (and there are plenty), contains a useful nugget of truth. No? You don’t think? Well, suit yourselves. K’s slides of Peru are back from the developers, and they look lovely, but they haven’t as yet been transferred to CD. When they are, I’ll publish the best ones on here. Who knows, I might even get round to writing up the whole trip. Stranger things have happened. While we were away, Chig read on Ceefax that dozens of people had died of extremely cold temperatures in the Peruvian Andes – not mountain climbers, ordinary people, including tourists. So he texted both of us immediately, but got “undelivered” messages 24 hours later, and so seriously thought we might actually be, you know, DEAD. The reality: my mobile isn’t Triband so doesn’t work in Peru, and although K’s does work, he had it switched off to avoid business calls. I ought to upgrade my mobile, but phone shops scare me; I’ve only ever been in once, to get the original phone. We’re not always as quick on the technological uptake as people might think; we only rented our first DVD last week. Touching The Void – absolutely fantastic, including the DVD extras. First time I’ve ever watched extras on a DVD; yes, I thought you might be shocked. Last night we rented Secretary, which is a little bit too stiff and stylised (the dialogue in particular), and faintly naff round the edges – but which, like Eyes Wide Shut before it, somehow worked for me, against all the odds. In my London clubbing heyday, I met quite a few S&M queens, and I found myself wondering what they would make of it; I suspect that most would basically approve, but then I’ve never exactly Entered The Mindset. Sometimes I think that I credit S&M with too much false mystique. I wonder what long-time Damned fan Gina Snowdoll makes of the track on the new Dizzee Rascal album (Dream) which samples Captain Sensible’s Happy Talk? Because I thought I was immune to being surprised by unlikely musical combinations, but this one has really thrown me. Do we like last week’s UK Number One single, Baby Cakes by 3 Of A Kind? I’ve only just caught up with it, and find myself strangely charmed; I think it’s that certain gormlessness in the vocal delivery. Couldn’t find the Fierce Girl single in Selectadisc or Virgin, and I badly NEED to hear it, because – on paper at least – it sounds like My Sort Of Thing. This afternoon’s rain storm has stopped, and there’s a nice – no, make that a beautiful – rainbow hanging over the Victoria Centre, starting at the Cornerhouse and dropping back down into the Lace Market. Ooh, such positivity all of a sudden! It must be the placebo effect.

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Bent Copper Bean Count.

From the Public Agenda section in The Times:

In an attempt to improve inclusiveness, the police are to ask all officers and civilian staff in England and Wales to declare their sexual orientation by the end of 2004. They will be sent questionnaires in which they can say whether they are heterosexual or gay ***, or decline to give a preference.

Read the full article here.

*** Yes, I’m wondering about bisexuals and transsexuals as well. Not to mention my concerns about well-intentioned but misguided attempts to codify sexual preferences into rigid, immutable categories. But let’s not even get into all of that for now; we’ll be here all day.

The cynic in me is first to pipe up. Surely this is nothing but shallow window-dressing, merely designed to re-assure those troublesome gay lobbyists that Something Is Being Done. After all, how difficult can it be to knock up a questionnaire and feed the results into a spreadsheet? Talk about following the path of least resistance.

Where my inner cynic leads, so my inner Irrepressibly Chirpy Little Pollyanna is sure to follow. For is it not also perfectly conceivable that the results of this survey might usefully reveal a significant under-representation of gays in the police, thus furnishing a powerful justification for introducing more pro-active recruitment drives, and more challenging anti-discrimination initiatives? (My inner Pollyanna can be quite the jargon-spewing tub-thumper when she wants to be. You dismiss her at your peril.)

Sadly, my inner Pollyanna is in sore danger of blinding herself to a major potential flaw with the whole initiative. Namely, that the recipients of the questionnaire are still at liberty to “decline to give a preference”. This threatens to skew the results in two directions. Firstly: many closeted officers will surely balk at answering truthfully. (After all, what’s in it for them to fess up?) Secondly: those rather more antediluvian elements in the force who are bound to view the questionnaire as intrusive PC nonsense (sic) are liable to refuse an answer on principle – and one cannot help but suspect that their number might be significant. In these ways, the survey is in danger of being rendered utterly meaningless.

But what are the alternatives? Making the question mandatory? Or proceeding from the perfectly justifiable assumption that yes, gays and lesbians are under-represented in the police force, so let’s get on with doing something useful to redress the situation, rather than fannying about with silly pieces of paper that are only liable to needlessly scare some and irk others?

My inner Pollyanna will get back to you on that one.

The PDMG: a (somewhat overdue) clarification.

In case you were wondering otherwise (perish the very thought!) – no, of course our esteemed cottage garden designer had nothing, repeat nothing to do with the ill-fated Puddle Of Doom in Hyde Park. (Sadly, complications over funding meant that his proposed garden never went ahead.)

All of which leads me to wonder whether K & I should stake a claim to being the only safe, fully functioning, family-friendly PDMG left in the land. Just imagine the coach parties! The ensuing boost to the local economy would surely be immeasurable.

On the other hand, one simply shudders to think of all that ghastly cellophane from the Floral Tributes, stacking up outside the egg depot and gusting into the paddock over the road. An ecological minefield, to be sure. So, upon mature reflection, perhaps not.

Advance notice. Coming soon to a residential district near you: PDMG #2 – The Urban Remix. More details as they happen.

Four-fifths of the Guest Blogging Home Team bid you a fond farewell.

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Left to right: Ben, Alan, Miss Mish and Buni. Sadly not present: the elusive Nixon.

More pictures are here (courtesy of Mish), and full write-ups of the evening are here and here.

Continue reading “Four-fifths of the Guest Blogging Home Team bid you a fond farewell.”

In Which I Nervously Limp Back Into The Blogosphere, Clutching My Bag Of Souvenir Alpaca Finger Puppets.

I’m back. But still a tad lagged, my chickens. Lagged like an old boiler, indeed. So please bear with me, as I slowly find my bearings.

Peru was… an Experience. As opposed to a “holiday” in the more conventional sense of the word. In fact, “endurance test” might be nearer the mark. But more of that as it comes, no doubt. I’d hate to spoil the plot.

My warmest thanks to Alan, Ben, Buni, Mish and Nixon for keeping the place spick and span over the last two and a half weeks (although I’m sure I don’t remember those particular fag-burns on the carpet). I’ve been keeping a watchful eye from various Peruvian cyber-caffs along the way, and have been mightily entertained. Especially by Alan’s “gay rut” (been there myself, several times), Ben’s “dream team” (my vote would also have gone to La Burchill), Buni’s “lost weekend” (or should we make that fortnight?), Mish’s “grand tour” (actually, Ha Ha’s are retro-chic these days; you mean to say you didn’t know?) and *cough* THAT Nixon piece, and its ensuing comments (I might return to this subject in the near future).

Small steps for now, though.
(In a literal as well as a figurative sense, but we don’t have to go there.)

It’s good to be back.

In Which (whispers) we haven’t gone yet…..

(Posted by Miss Mish)

Just a teeny little aside here.

We’ve just taken a lot of the cushions down into the wine cellar and are hiding out, drinking our way to freedom.

There’s already a squabble as we can’t decide if we should be drinking alphabetically (absinthe, bacardi, brandy, cointreau etc) or chronologically (the 1953 Chateau Lafitte, the 1954……)

We thought we’d leap out upon them and shout “surprise!” when we they get back all jet-lagged and fit and toned. And also to get first dibs on the souvenirs and duty-free.

Now excuse me, but I think we’re upto to the 1963 Gordons. I really, really must go……….