“Maybe tomorrow, maybe some day…”

During the past few weeks, I have been struggling to complete what must be the most boring work assignment that I have ever been given. It’s a massive documentation exercise, which involves picking my way through over ten thousand lines of COBOL code, and it requires copious and sustained usage of the search, copy and paste functions. The level of creative thought involved is minimal, and is generally confined to finding the most efficient ways of crunching the data, with the minimum keystrokes. And yet, for all the dumbness inherent in the exercise, it has also proved to be a huge personal challenge.

The biggest difficulty for me is sustaining concentration. The work is so brain-numbing that I find myself unable to stick at it for much longer than twenty minutes at a time without being driven to distraction (and you can probably guess the nature of the distractions). Music helps, of course – particularly uptempo, optimistic and strongly rhythmic music, and particularly when I can get the tempo of the music to match the tempo of my copy-pasting. The cupboards have been duly raided for “banging” DJ-mixed CDs from the 1990s, most of which have been languishing unplayed for the best part of a decade: Pete Tong’s Essential Selection, Danny Rampling’s Lovegroove Dance Party, Fantazia’s Restrospective Of House, and the occasional Orbital CD for relaxation. If you lay music down for long enough, it’s remarkable how it refreshes itself.

Nevertheless, this exercise is in danger of killing off more brain cells than my 1990s hardcore clubbing phase ever did. Which is another reason for the paucity of updates on this blog, and another reason for the continued delay of The Great Troubled Diva Meditation On Class.

I have paced around the perimeters of this vast subject for days now, staring up at it and looking for a convenient way in. Since no suitable entrance point has been forthcoming, I am left with no option other than to charge blindly in, and to let the words steer their own course. F**k it. It’s a blog. Directionless busking is what we do.

*pause*

*writes a couple of sentences*

*deletes them*

*stares into space*

*checks Bloglines for updates*

*cleans the kitchen*

*returns to laptop*

*re-opens MS Word*

*stares at screen*

*sighs*

*says yes to a sandwich*

*decides to do what he’s best at: copying and pasting*

Don’t worry, I’m not going all Eurovision on you just yet…

…partly because, oh dearie me, this is far from a vintage year. Far too many post-Lordi macho rock guitars for starters, and what good are those to any self-respecting Eurovision fan? And also, cramming a record twenty-eight songs into the Thursday night qualifier is un peu de trop, even by my near-fanatical standards.

However, I am taken by the Bulgarian chorus of “More pee!”, and by the swishy young mister from Belarus:

bru_koldun“This blue-eyed brunet was born on 11th June 1985 in Minsk, Belarus. His mother, the founder of Princess Diana’s Belarusian fan-club, had always dreamed of having a daughter who would look like Diana. Amazingly, her dream partly came true. She had a handsome little boy with a striking resemblance to the Princess, who from early childhood exhibited phenomenal abilities in music, literature and even science.”

Mister Belarus’s chorus runs thusly:

“You set my beating heart in motion, when you cast your loving potion over me.”

I wonder if he’s been to Bulgaria recently?

Sorry.

Posts that I will probably, oh come on let’s face it, never get round to writing.

1. A detailed appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of last.fm, which I have spent the past few days grappling with, in a concerted attempt to Get The Point Of The Blessed Thing.

Instead of all that, I offer you My last.fm “Loved Tracks” Radio Station. Please note that, in order to get the thing working, I have had to stretch the definition of the word “Loved”. (But they’re all dead good, I promise.) Please also note that tracks play at random, so the sequencing may be a little strange. Please also note that selections are limited to tracks that are available for full-length streaming via last.fm, which narrows the scope dramatically. (But they’re still all dead good tracks, honest.)

2. An in-depth examination of class-consciousness, middle class guilt, chips on shoulders versus silver spoons, my extended family’s unusually complex relationship with existing class structures, and my own crashing snobbery as regards Deep Suburbia and the passive-aggressive competitiveness of the Organic Vegetable Delivery set. (“Number 23 only got carrots this week. We got kohlrabi!”)

3. Advice that, with the wisdom of hindsight, I would give to my deeply unhappy 16 year-old self – with references to the recent Virginia shootings, which have stirred up some uncomfortable memories of my own adolescent revenge fantasies.

4. Our Big Day Out in London Town on Friday, featuring a learned dissertation on the Hogarth exhibition at Tate Britain, followed by an amusing series of vignettes centred around shopping for outfits in Savile Row, and culminating in K’s Grand Theory that the juxtaposition of High Society and Low Life in Hogarth’s work is mirrored by the contrast between Gieves & Hawkes and Abercrombie & Fitch. But then, he was more than a little drunk by then.

5. More amusing vignettes centered around last week’s Nuru Kane concert at the Djanogly Theatre. The line “We could be teachers, just for one day” would cause particular amusement, as would K’s crashing snobbery re. the predominantly academic audience (Little Miss Anthropy had definitely come out to play). We were also much taken by the Health and Safety sign at the edge of the Univeristy lake, which said DANGER: WATER.

Yeah, like I’d ever have got round to any of those…

Update (1): OK, I’ll do ONE of them. Namely, the one that gets the most votes in the comments box by the end of today. In certain blogging circles, this is known as “doing a Scaryduck“. Nowt new under t’sun, etc etc.

Update (2): The matter is settled. By an overwhelming consensus, the Number Twos have it. A meditation on Class Issues will therefore be along in a wee while.

Sunshine, balance, lurrve.

Sunday night, Derbyshire.

K, getting into bed: I don’t think I like the tone of your latest Twitter.

Mike: What, because you were away for most of it? But darling, your return was the shattering climax to the whole weekend! The cherry on top of the cake!

K: God, you’re good at thinking on your feet…

Mike: That’s not fair! I thought it up five minutes ago, doing my teeth. I knew you’d sneak a peek on your way up…

K: Hahahaha!

M: Hahahaha!


Friday evening, Nottingham.

With K away at a Vet Fest in Brum, the city’s nightlife is mine for the plucking. Why, I could go anywhere.

So, the Lord Roberts then.

I’m trying out my new(ish) vari-focal contact lenses again, for the first time in several weeks, because I’ll be damned if anyone’s going to see me in a gay pub on a Friday night with specs on. I don’t like this slow drift towards becoming a full time specs wearer, even though these are the best pair of specs I’ve ever owned. Not that I have any aesthetic objection towards full-time specs wearers per se – reader, I married one – but unlike my fragrant Civil Partner, my specs are not a fundamental part of who I am. Quite the reverse, in fact. And in any case, I’d quite like to be in with a theoretical chance of being cruised. Even if only for a split second: ooh he’s nice, whoops, bit older than I thought. Yes, that would do me for the evening. Simple needs. Unchained from that particular lunatic a good few years ago. (*)

Trouble is, these lenses have half-blinded me. The gas lamps in The Park were the trippiest; great whooshing coronas flickering all around, like rushing on a pill, sans the anxiety attacks. In the pub, I can barely see JP’s mouth across the table. He’s a fast talker, and I’m struggling with ambient noise, and my ears must be due a sluicing anyway. I didn’t realise how much I’d been relying on lip-reading. Half-blind, half-deaf, and for all I know I could be the Hottest Stud in the pub, except how would I know a thing like that in my condition?

I settle for being the Enigmatic Stud in the corner who never returns glances.

Not that I’m in the right place for that kind of caper. As a gay venue, the Lord Roberts has possibly the most de-sexualised atmosphere of any bar I’ve ever visited, in over 25 years of Outness and Proudness (excepting maybe the Retro Bar in London). That’s a large part of why I like it here. You can come down with your mates, get a decent pint of bitter (I know!), grab a table and settle down for an extended natter, and all without any of that ghastly business whereby everyone keeps glancing distractedly over your shoulder while you’re talking to them. Soft lighting, comfy chairs, traditional theatre-pub decor, no belting club music, no selfish superficial arseholes… how many other British cities are blessed with a gay venue like this one? We take it for granted, but we’re lucky to have it.


Friday night/Saturday morning, Nottingham.

(*) Believe that, and you’ll believe anything. Dot. Dot. Dot.


Saturday afternoon, Derbyshire.

This is the first time I’ve ever taken a taxi from Derby station to the cottage, and on this hot, sunny, glorious day, I’m enjoying the raised view that the Hackney carriage seating affords, adding extra detail to the familiar journey. As the bulky vehicle pushes further into the countryside, leaving its familiar city-suburb-city routes ever further behind, and looking ever more incongruous with its surroundings, so my awareness of jumping between two worlds is similarly heightened.

Past Kedleston: hotel, golf club, National Trust hall, and that fine old red brick wall which even now refuses to yield what lies inside. Through the bland commuter village of Weston Underwood; through Mugginton – Lane End, with its perplexing, mildly irksome free-floating hyphen and its closed-for-refurb pub with the Oo-er Missus name; left at Hulland Ward, gateway to the Peak park; right towards the ersatz Countryside Leisure Experience that is the Carsington Water reservoir (a useful trap for the Derby day-trippers, plodding dutifully in their hundreds along its featureless banks); a wiggle and a twist, and aah, here’s where we start, on the approach to Bradbourne, as the landscape closes in around us on the narrowing lane with its treacherous bends, and the green becomes greener, and the hills steeper, and the valleys deeper, and the blossom whiter, and the lambs friskier (mmm, locally sourced shanks from the White Peak butcher!), and here’s the church where Alan Bates is buried, and it’s not far to go now as the road descends and the home valley opens up ahead, offering the first faint glimpses of the village, and is the cab driver enjoying this as much as I am, thirty minutes outside the city, not a clue where he is, but what a perfect afternoon for a mystery tour, and here we are at last, thirty quid and five for your trouble, you’re best off heading back towards the A515 and straight through Ashbourne, ah you know it from there do you, good stuff…

…and the garden looks a picture. Best year yet. We’re beginning to know what we’re doing at last, we started preparing in good time, and as it enters its fourth year, the planting is coming to maturity. The mulch is down; the roses are pruned, trained and sprayed; the bare patches on the corners of the lawns are filling in; the hardy geraniums are creeping through the circular grid supports; the smaller daffs are still in full bloom; the first of the tulips are popping out; the hot reds, dusty purples and dusky pinks dotted down one side are melding together and making sense; and for now, there’s nothing to do except pull out a chair and relax, letting it all get on with the simple process of growing.

So glad I came. Even as recently as a year ago, I wouldn’t have bothered, seizing my chance for two nights on the razz in preference to all of this wonder and delight. Our pride and our joy, truly.

Tune out, switch off, settle down.

I don’t even bother rigging up the laptop.

Post-jadedness ensues.

Chig’s UK50 Eurovision Vote-a-thon.

uk50f-worldofchigCliff, Lulu, or Belle and the Devotions?
Kathy Kirby, Kenneth McKellar, or Katrina and the Waves?
Rikki, Ryder, or Live Report?
Patricia Bredin, Pearl and Teddy, or Bryan Johnson?

Over at World of Chig, your votes are requested for the splendid UK50 Project, in which all fifty of the United Kingdom’s Eurovision entries are presented for your examination, in a vote-driven knockout competition. Each day, three songs are presented as an MP3 medley, with Youtube clips to match. Your task is to rank each selection in order of preference, and to cast your votes accordingly.

Apologies for not linking this sooner. However, there’s still time to start at the beginning and work your way through.

Who wins? Who goes? You decide!

(NB: Chig’s lovely logo was designed by my blogdaddy David – formerly of Swish Cottage, and now to be found on various Web 2.0 sites such as this one and this one.)