Things I have done in the last week-and-a-bit. (1)

1. Seen the Puppini Sisters, at a Halloween “burlesque” evening down The Social.

This was one of those nights when I find myself thinking, “Writing teeny-tiny gig reviewlets for t’local paper: is it really worth standing around in the oppressive heat, for hours on end, bored and restless, and unable to pass the time by drinking more than the statutory maximum of two pints of lager (even half a pint extra, and Drunkard’s Block sets in; been there, tried that, got the shit article to prove it), when the headline act in question turns out to as underwhelming as this lot?”

I’d say more – but I know you don’t come here for the music, so I shan’t. Suffice it to say that the Puppini Sisters – an immaculately coiffed and maquillaged trio of not-actually-siblings, who specialise in mixing Andrews Sisters standards with Andrews-ified novelty covers of modern pop numbers (Wuthering Heights, Heart Of Glass, Panic), who would have been fine as a three-minute interlude on a TV chat show, and might have been OK in a swishy cabaret bar, with proper chairs and tables and waiters and stuff – were utterly unsuited to performing in a packed, sweaty rock venue, at half past eleven on a Tuesday night, to a glammed-up but rapidly wilting crowd whose Halloweeny goodwill had been gradually eroded by a succession of alternately amateurish and ill-matched support acts, and by a tedious and unjustifiable forty-five minute wait with nothing to do except get into fractious arguments with each other (just behind us), or faint (just in front of us).

(Did you enjoy that last sentence? I know I did.)

Anyhow, Alan at Reluctant Nomad (currently enjoying his second massive traffic spike in a month, and really quite the belle of the Internet these days, not that it will change him in any way, oh dear me no, although 18,000 page views in a day would certainly turn my head, at least just a little) has posted his own report – and also some photos of the sexy ginger-haired double bass player, who made our ordeal so much more bearable. (Note: Don’t get too excited. He was heaps better in the flesh.)

2. Collapsed in a heap in front of the telly for two days.

Finding myself possessed of an overhwelming desire to be horizontal, with an achey breaky bod to match, I promptly excused myself from all professional commitments, and spent a perversely agreeable couple of days watching old movies, in a fuzzed-out swoon of grateful surrender.

(Best movie: The Card, starring Alec Guinness. Biggest let-down: Our Man In Havana, also starring Alec Guinness. Those afternoon schedulers on TCM and More4 sure do be liking their Alec Guinness movies.)

3. Had a Good Old Fashioned Big Gay Night Out In Nottingham.

“Oh! I’m in town on a Friday night! Oh, and K’s away! Well, I must Go Out On The Scene, then! It’s my duty! I’m not ready for the knacker’s yard just yet, ha ha! Maybe they’ll play the Scissor Sisters! Maybe I’ll dance! Maybe someone will flirt with me! Even though I’ve got my specs on! Or “cruising shields”, as I call them, ha ha! Not that I care one way or the other, of course! I’m beyond all that!”

Thus did I rage against the dying of the light. At some length. With Belle of the Internet Alan (“Whoops, Mind My Spike!”) and Nurse Alan – and special guest TGI Paul, up from London for the weekend.

4. Attended a Big Old Birthday Blogmeet in London.

I really must stop getting totally bladdered on the night before “society” blogmeets, such as the one held in honour of Andre‘s 40th birthday, last Saturday afternoon/evening. That way, I wouldn’t have to spend the first hour telling everyone how knackered I was and how little sleep I’d had, and that I was “running on empty”, and “faking it”. No-one likes to be told that the person they’re talking to is “faking it”, do they?

However, by setting expectations of social fabulousness at rock bottom, I was actually freeing myself from the anxiety which they could have induced. This turned out to be quite an effective strategy, and one which I could usefully bear in mind for the future.

And so, one pint of lager later, and thus restored to full functionality, I was working the room like the hoary old tart that I am. Damn, but it was great to see some of my bestest blogpals again – and equally, to meet others for the first time. It was a good mix in that respect – and, indeed, in every respect.

Shall we do a roll-call? Or will it just turn into one of those icky displays of linky-love, that can be so off-putting when you don’t know the people concerned?

Nah, let’s do a roll-call. In alphabetical order, so that people don’t start reading things into randomness. (We’re a sensitive bunch.) Off we go!

Abby “One Track” Lee.
“I don’t know what I should be calling her”, someone said to me during the course of the afternoon. “Do I say Abby, or [real name], or Girl, or what?”

“Well, Andre calls her One Track. Why not go with that?”

As was only right and proper, One Track and I got to share a couple of agreeably fruity exchanges along the way. One was at my instigation, involved webcams, and contained the punchline “So what was I supposed to do: reply to them with my nose?” More than that, I am not at liberty to divulge. You’ll have to invent your own middle bit.

The other was at One Track’s instigation, and concerned itself with the lamentable lack of lube-awareness within the heterosexual community. (I didn’t realise that it was ever required for front-door action – but then, why would I? My sexual knowledge operates mainly on a need-to-know basis.)

On my return journey, I noticed that One Track’s worthy little tome is currently at Number Two in the “best sellers” display at the St. Pancras station branch of WH Smith. Awesome or what!

Andre Revolution.
Birthday Boy Andre was showered with cards and compact-sized gift-ettes – a “Head Boy” badge here, a freshly laid farm egg there – and from me, a hand-crafted CD entitled (wait for it) A Beautiful Compilation. (My days of sighing semi-recumbence were not entirely unproductive, then.)

If you would like to assemble your own copy of A Beautiful Compilation, then you will need the following ingredients.

1. I Started A Blog Nobody Read – Sprites
2. Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken – Camera Obscura
3. Young Folks – Peter, Bjorn & John
4. Casanova In Hell (live) – Pet Shop Boys featuring Rufus Wainwright
5. Everybody Wants A Little Something – Duke Special
6. Long Way Round – Badly Drawn Boy
7. Once I Was – Tim Buckley
8. Everything I Cannot See – Charlotte Gainsbourg
9. The Greatest – Cat Power
10. She’s Gone – The Hidden Cameras
11. Giddy Stratospheres – The Long Blondes
12. The Decision – The Young Knives
13. Oops! I Did It Again (live) – Richard Thompson
14. Uncertain Smile – The The
15. Tower Of Song – Leonard Cohen
16. Crazy – Gnarls Barkley
17. Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living) – Eels
18. If It Feels Good, Do It – Della Reese
19. The Only Way Is Up – Otis Clay
20. What A Wonderful World – Nick Cave & Shane MacGowan

(Yes, an “emotional journey”. Well spotted, you.)

Anna P Boat.
Anna had a box of those little mini-photo-card things that you can get done off Flickr, and I have to say that they were absolutely gorgeous. I’ve never quite got the appeal of Flickr (especially when people stick Flickr pics on their blogs – they’re so SLOW), but these little card things were enough to make me want to go off and take hundreds of photos, like, tomorrow or something.

Ann Pixeldiva.
Last time I saw Pix, it was in a “jazz curry” joint at Archway. We didn’t chat for long enough this time, but you know how these things can be.

Anxious. (whose write-up is here)
I’ve been following Status Anxiety ever since the previous time we met (over a year ago), so Anxious was one of the people that I was particularly looking forward to seeing. We talked about all sorts, including – what else? – that ole devil called Anxiety. (She actually comes across as rather self-assured in real life, lest you should think otherwise. But I don’t want to burst any bubbles. Invisible inner anx is still anx. Hell, I should know.)

Cheerful One. (who refers to the event, albeit obliquely, here)
I might be wrong, but Cheerful One was the only person at the meet that I don’t recall even so much as saying “Hello” to. Bah! It’s always the ones that get away that come back to haunt you…

Clare Boob Pencil.
Clare told us a long and involved story concerning her train journey to London, a sewing kit, various defective items of clothing, and a number of costume changes in the train’s toilets. A little while later, she re-emerged in a different top. Is this evidence of some sort of compulsive costume changing syndrome?

Damian of Our Albion and Universal Critic. (whose write-up is here)
We had quite a long chat – but I was three pints down by that stage, and my memory had switched to RealPlayer streaming mode.

Girl on a Train.
She was on that bit of the table that I never quite managed to infiltrate, so we didn’t do much more than wave and smile at each other.

Greavsie. (who avoids the subject here)
He got caught in the crossfire of my self-instigated and unpublishable webcam-related exchange with One Track – but coped with it manfully, I thought. Unlike someone else, of whom more in a bit…

Hg has been a Gentleman of Leisure for most of this year. I deeply envy his freedom, and the the unflustered serenity which it seems to have elicited.

JonnyB. (whose write-up is here)
We talked about blog sponsorship, and the Googlejuice which a carefully placed hyperlink can induce. (Until I linked to K’s company’s website with the words “canine cancer” the other day, the site was languishing in the 40s for the term in question. A couple of days later, it had shot up to fourth position. We bloggers don’t always know what we’re sitting on.)

Later on, as One Track and I steered our lube-based discussion onto foreskin-related territory (do circumcised cocks need more lube than uncut cocks?), something inside this sheltered East Anglian diarist cracked. Why, you could have heard his howl of trapped anguish all the way up to Covent Garden tube. How unlike the stoic sang froid demonstrated by Greavsie (see above). We do put our str8 boyz through the mill sometimes!

Karen Uborka, Pete Dot Nu and Baby Bernard.
As has been well documented, Baby Bernard could be said to owe his very existence to a blogmeet. The first baby of British blogging looked thrilled to be amongst us all, and gurgled merrily throughout. The cutest and most sunny-natured baby you ever did see – and I don’t even like babies, so I speak without prejudice in this matter.

Leonie. (whose write-ups are here and here)
Again, we didn’t really get past the nodding and smiling stage. She really is a very lovely looking lady, though. Is it OK to say that? Well, she is, dammit! I’m a big old poof-arse, I can say these things.

Mark BritblogTechnoranki.
“Are you here to arrange us all into alphabetical order?”, I quipped, facetiously. Mark has just taken his fledgling Technoranki service to the next level – meaning that those of us Britbloggers who have registered with the site and added his thingy to our template now get a nice little PageRank graphic, and the chance to qualify for the Technoranki Top 200 chart. And as you should all know by now, I ain’t half a sucker for a good chart. Especially one that puts me at Number… well, never mind about that.

Meg P Meish.
I felt like a Betamax in a room full of DVDs“, says the pioneering first-waver whom I have come to regard as the Dowager Duchess of British blogging. No, no, no. As Damian says in her comments box: Meg is like vinyl in a sea of MP3s. Wish she’d stayed longer; it had been ages, and I fancied a good long chat.

Mimi in New York.
Accompanied by her intrepid polar explorer boyfriend, and looking dazzling in a white woollen dress, Mimi was the afternoon’s surprise guest. We could have chatted for much longer, were it not for the impertinent demands of a lager-swollen bladder (on my part) and the lure of Borat (on her part). We talked about her forthcoming book, and of the difficulties of sticking to one’s literary guns when others would rather you dumbed down and sexed up.

Non-Working Monkey. (who briefly mentions the occasion here)
“Oh, you’re Non-Working Monkey!”, I exclaimed, brightly. “You’re quite the Hot Blog of the moment, aren’t you? Everyone keeps saying how good you are, and linking to you, and…”

“AAAARGH!”, she squirmed, with what I took to be equal measures of embarrassment and delight. “Will people STOP SAYING THAT!”

Shiz good though, intshi? Are you reading her yet? Everybody else is!

Petite Anglaise. (whose write-up is here)
After Petite appeared on Richard and Judy a few months ago, we enjoyed a little e-mail exchange, during which she admitted that she “had kittens in the dressing room”. As I reminded her, I then spent a full twenty-four hours thinking that Petite really did have real, live kittens in her dressing room, in best Mariah Carey diva-style – until K gently suggested that maybe, just maybe, she was using a figure of speech. I can be worryingly literal-minded at times.

Rachel Frizzy-Logic.
We talked world music, as we usually do, and I said “Have you heard of Tartit?” At which point, our high-minded cultural exchange somewhat collapsed in on itself. Hee hee, Tartit! Their new album’s good, though

Robin Parent.
We spent quite some time reverentially invoking the spirit of Peter @ Naked Blog, and its recent feline off-shoot. Have you seen Peter’s debut vidcast yet? A master class in semi-inebriated eloquence, so it is…

Tim “Free Man In” Preston. (whose write-up is here)
Winner of the Best Personal Blog award at the recent inaugural Manchester Blog Awards, no less. Such exalted company we keep these days…

Unlucky Man.
Had to disappear early, due to reasons amply documented elsewhere. The “living up to the name of his blog” gag has been done as well. Hey ho!

Here is a photo of five of the above-mentioned attendees. Can you spot who is who?

(I have done other things in the last week-and-a-bit, but we’ll be here all night. Part Two soon come.)

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