(posted by Mr. D.)

Those of you who’ve been kind enough to read my amateur ramblings (thank you Brandon, for your appreciation) may have noticed recurring themes of humour and music.

So in aid of a bit of fund-raising, a challenge.

Throw any girl’s name at me and I’ll come back at ya with a song which contains it.

I promise not to use Search engines or pick an easy one, or one which can’t be validated. In fact, I’ll choose the most bizarre and outlandish and if I beat you, you must donate the smallest note in your country’s currency to either the Royal National Lifeboat Institution or Motor Neurone Disease.

I won’t be fazed by, say, Frances (Lullaby for Frances, Ian Dury, on the “Do it yourself” album, or Chloe or Irene (Chloe and Goodnight Irene by the inimitable Ry Cooder, both on Chicken Skin Music). Ignore the lewd cover, it’s a beautiful album.

So come on then, if you think you’re hard enough …

They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top.

(posted by noodle “god i need a ciggie” vague)

Of course I didn’t mention the perm.

See it wasn’t all unremitting bleakness during the mid 80s. On my 17th birthday, my love of all things RAWK!!! led to me getting my hair permed. It caused quite a splash at the 6th Form Dinner-Dance that evening. My mate Paul Conway pointed out that I looked like George Berry:


After a few months I had the top cut, leaving me with that Midlands fashion essential, the Mullet. Unfortunately, this being my teens, my musical tastes were changing rapidly. Having grown out of RAWK!!!, I found meself as probably the only bemulleted fan of The Smiths in history (I’m not counting the States, where the rules are different.)

One Friday night, I was moshing with a couple of Psychobillies during the Alternative half-hour at the Cedar Tree Disco (the only nightlife in my hometown). After we’d finished battering each other stoopid(er) to “Holiday in Cambodia” and “Rock Lobster” they invited me to come and see The Meteors the next time they played in Birmingham. One of them looked me up and down and then, peering out from under his foot-long razor-edged quiff, yelled over Alexander O’Neal “You’ll have to get yourself a proper haircut though mate.”

Mr. D, I love you for using the word “transpire” correctly.

(posted by Faustus, M.D.)

I have never bitten my nails, but I have picked at them for thirty years. Luckily, they do not keep growing after they come off, which means (as we all know from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode in season four) that I am not a demon. Though I think the kids at school thought I was.

Not that I did myself any favors in that regard.

I once went to a junior high school dance (for those of you on the other side of the pond, that means ages twelve and thirteen) sporting a hideous black and white checked shirt, high tops with neon slinky laces, a bicycle chain, child molestor glasses, and bright green hairspray. When people asked me if I was gay (I ought to have known this would be inevitable), I said, “You wanna find out?”

Cool and uncool kind of had no meaning here. I was simply a pariah from another planet.

Which allowed me, of course, to go about my plans for world conquest unmolested.

Gaffe Mistake TV.

(posted by Mr. D.)

I love GMTV. It never fails to uplift.

On the Thursday before the Grand Finale of Pop Idol, when the field had been narrowed down to Will and Gareth, I swear the presenter said:

“And with only two gays to go before the winner is announced ….”

And they recently featured an article about a schoolkid who’d confronted bullying, by setting up a web-site to provide advice to others.

With absolute sincerity, the presenter asked:

“So how many hits have you had so far, then?”

“The Isolate, Slow Faults That Kill.”

(posted by noodle)

I’ve never bitten my fingernails, except when I’m trying to even one out. At 15, I used to scratch the backs of my hands with a pencil sharpener blade – until one day my dad noticed my (excuse pun) handiwork and went ballistic (I told him I’d fallen into a hedge, so maybe the weakness of my excuse inflamed his always volatile temper some more.) I went through a phase of stubbing cigarettes out on my arms during the early 90s, having had my mind thoroughly blown by sulphate, TNT and Jon Savage’s England’s Dreaming. I still have these faint circular white scars on my forearms, along with a slightly bigger one where I used a cigarette lighter for extra nihilist bravado. Over the last 18 months, I’ve had a tendency for scraping my knuckles against brick walls and cutting the tops of my arms with a kitchen knife or, better still, broken glass. But only when very very out of it and very very low – I am not a brave person, I swear.

Am I telling you this for effect? Perhaps I am a little bit, I don’t know, but I don’t think I’m exceptional or excessive. They’re just things that have happened to me, and I figure they’re to be described as dispassionately as any of the other accidents of fortune we’re all prone to. I wouldn’t even say that these territorial claims I’ve made on my own body are necessarily symptoms of the same motive. At the time, they didn’t feel so. That’s part of the problem, I don’t remember much about how I felt as a child – I just know I didn’t like it, often.

In the cool/uncool heirarchy, (which you can only see as a spectrum when you’re an adult, can’t you?) I was definitely on the side of the uncool. But weird. Jeez, I’ve just realised I was about to launch into an hour’s psychotherapy, and we’ve got enough to read as it is. I’m practiced, see. I’ve spoken to professionals, on a few occasions, trying to piece together how a current dysfunction came to grow out of past unhappiness. The conclusion I’ve come to is – well, if I word it badly it sounds a little paranoid – that my sadness is only a result of having to deal with others’ inadequacies. That does sound a little egocentric, don’t it? In fact this whole confessional has wormed its way up out of nowhere I expected. Perhaps I should summarise.

Cool/uncool belongs to that horrible phase of life when we give a frog what other people think about us. When we move beyond caring for the judgements of others, we can begin to be ourselves. I’m not completely convinced that this is a good thing.

I’ll shut up now, this rush of words could go on indefinitely, and I don’t want to be the maudlin drunk who traps you at the bar and batters you round the head with their life story.

Not all at once, anyway.


“….I did stop chewing my fingernails, though.”

(posted by the flagrant female, in response to D and mike, below)

I don’t actually remember when I stopped. It was some time after school, but I remember my hands as being part of the reason I was never entirely ‘cool’.
Ridiculously chewed nails, just the top, because at the bottom of the cuticle, mild exzema meant that the skin rolled into a fat dry lip, with space underneath to see where the nail came from.

It was fine at the time, you couldn’t play the piano with nails anyway, as my piano teacher would reassuringly tell me.

But I always envied the nails of my best friend, as I did her hair, posture, grace, intellect.
No, not envy, as such. I was just in awe. I wanted to be more like her, and I had no idea how we’d ended up friends.
Actually, I do. It was the music, we’d roll up to school on a wednesday morning and huddle over the gig lists, me with the NME, she with Melody Maker, circling likely nights out, making plans, and then, a few nights later, getting dressed together, doing each other’s hair.
She got A’s in everything without trying. She’d get in a huff about something, and I’d spend days trying to get her to be my best friend again.
I wanted to be a music journalist, she wanted to be a lawyer. We’d both be married by the time the millennium came around, and of course would be each other’s bridesmaids. She was never short of a boyfriend, or two, and once a man even went out with me in order to get closer to her.
And I didn’t really mind, because I could kind of see his point. Who’d want to go out with me with her so nearby.
I wanted to be just like her.
In no way, to my knowledge, at least, did she want to be me.

We’re not in touch anymore. I moved away from London, when I was 16, and for a couple of years we kept in touch, sporadically.
I’ve heard she’s married though.
I wasn’t there.
And I’m glad we’re not in touch, in many ways.

I have a great respect for my friends, and there are many things about them which merit ‘awe’, but I no longer feel below them.
I no longer want to be them.

I think that’s a good thing.

In the 18th century, women of aristocracy would grow the nail on their pinky to an inch or more, just to show they never needed to do manual work, or anything, really, for themselves.
I do, by the way, have an enormous pinky nail.
I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

Size Matters 2.

(posted by Mr. D.)

The I.T. department that I’m seconded to had a dress-down day for Comic Relief – you know, you pay a quid not to wear a coloured rope around your neck. The ladies wore pigtails.

One of the non-English programmers (sorry, but it’s germane to the tale) entered the open plan office wearing a sweatshirt which, it later transpired, had been given to him as a present. The shirt bore a logo with a two-word legend beneath it.

After hours of innuendo and oblique remarks, he was eventually spooked into realising that all was not well (no-one tells you directly that your flies are undone, do they?).

From 3 feet away, he e-mailed me to say he’d run it through all of the Search Engines and only got “toy helicopters” and “warriors’ swords”.

I confess I laughed ‘til I cried.

Oh sorry – the logo? A large axe.

And the legend? BIG CHOPPER.

I believe it was delivered to the charity shop on his way home …

…”the ‘weird kid’ growing up in that space between the cool and the uncool kids.”

(posted by Mike, in response to the next post down)

Oh, how this resonates for me.

At boarding school, my wit and my music collection kept me linked to the cool kids – but I was ultimately too weird to fit in with them, and they had ways of letting me know this.

Meanwhile, the uncool kids – though generally much easier to rub along with – were also well aware of my remaining toe-hold in the cool camp, and so kept themselves huddled away at a certain protective distance, which could never quite be breached.

I started off aspiring to be with the cool kids, and so held the uncool kids somewhat at bay – partly for fear of being tainted by association. Then I went seriously weird for a year or so, and didn’t really associate with anybody at all. Eventually, by the sixth form, when everyone was starting to loosen up and not be so goddammed heirarchical all the time, I fell in with a comfortable mixture of the less cool-obsessed, more interesting cool kids, and the less uncool-beyond-redemption, more interesting uncool kids.

Nevertheless, this experience did leave me with a residual – not to say somewhat resentful – view of the world as being essentially heirarchical in nature. Which in turn brought out a fairly strong egalitarian streak in me. Both traits remain in me to this day, in the sort of paradoxical co-existence which is so typical of my emotional make-up.

I did stop chewing my fingernails, though. Well, they all build in your stomach until you can’t swallow any more, and then you DIE.


(posted by D)

When I was younger I would bite my nails. Fingernails and toenails before you ask. It was probably something to do with being “the weird kid” growing up in that space between the cool and the uncool kids. I had things in common with both sides but neither really wanted to pick me for their team. So instead I’d lean against the pebble-dash walls and chew my nails and look menacing and say weird stuff.

Now that I’m older I still chew them, chew them right up, and peel the skin off so that my finger looks like a lychee and seeps strange milky liquids from the raw pink flesh… damn. I still say weird things. And I hope you realise that every eighth character typed (I don’t use my little fingers) has been excruciatingly painful for me. I didn’t want to be in your gang anyway.


(posted by Mr. D.)

10 years ago, I taped my favourite choons to play at my 40th birthday party. Technology having moved on apace, I repeated the exercise for the upcoming 50th by putting the Tracks Of My ManyYears on minidisk (hope bsag will be impressed.)

I narrowed the field down to 173 and not wanting to mar my beloved’s enjoyment of sit-coms like Eastenders, earned myself Headphone rash. (No, not really).

With stunning originality, I decided to record the tracks in A – Z by band name, so that the contributions randomly span the sixties up to the noughties.

Now it’s an accident of alphabet that the Sex Pistols are framed by Seal and Simon & Garfunkel, a bizarre juxtaposition that won’t go unnoticed when the stereo’s sharing its formidable output with the neighbours…

My self-imposed rule of “one band – one track” proved a real test of resolve, though I confess I did bend it by including Waters, Roger “It all makes perfect sense” alongside (metaphorically speaking) Pink Floyd’s “Wish you were here”. Oh yes, and the Blockheads’ “Hit me with your rhythm stick” is nominally separated from Dury, Ian’s “I believe” from his final album “Ten more turnips from the tip” (which also provided the nodding concession to Williams, Robbie with “You’re the why”).

And Python Lee Jackson’s “In a broken dream” is only separated by a minidisk from Stewart, Rod’s “Mandolin Wind” – memories of early bedroom antics come flooding back, every time….

I got dragged by the beloved to see Stewart, Rod at Wembley Arena recently (and didn’t sit down once throughout the gig). His 6’ blonde sax player, wearing a red leather what I’m reliably informed is known as a “fanny pelmet” (British? American?) was mesmerising. And she blew a mean sax, to boot.

But I stuck to my rule with Crowded House and in honour of Tinka (who unwittingly got me here) recorded “Distant Sun” (although “Together Alone” would probably have been my personal weapon of choice).

So – 173 tracks and over 12 hours of “GOYA” music (Get Off Your Arse) to jig to.

And the Stones’ offering? No, not “Dancing with Mr. D.” from Goat’s Head Soup, but “Gimme shelter” – I don’t know why?

How to be a token girl.

(posted by Anna)

Spend three hours getting ready. Wear the first thing you tried on. Swear there’s no special reason for dressing up, even though you look like a cross between first date, kerbcrawling, and engagment party.

Make sure to execute anyone that turns you down.
No, hang on. Don’t. Do that, you’ll never get married. (*gasp*)
Smile. Flatter. Thrust Cleavage. Smile.
Have wit, smut and grit all in the same sentence.

Drink spirits and mixers, or bottled concoctions, or shandy.
Don’t drink anything straight, they don’t like it.
Drink steadily, giggle.

Announce your desire but inability to go home alone.
Announce the existence of several bottles of wine in your fridge.
Announce your desire to have sexual relations with everyone in the room

As ‘token girl’;
Go out, enjoy, flirt, drink, desire, lose desire of, watch, drink, think, sleep.

That would seem, it would seem, to be us.

Seventeen – sorry, make that eighteen postings today…

(posted by Mike)

…er, we’re not going too fast for you, are we?

At the end of Guest Week Day One, I have to report that – so far, at least – I’m thoroughly enjoying watching my lovingly tendered patch of turf being trampled underfoot by hordes of unruly strangers. They might make a bit of a racket, but they respect the Original Features and they don’t leave litter.

There’s six more days of this to come, you know. Why not view it as an opportunity to develop your speed-reading skills?

Lei lines.

(posted by Mr. D.)

Did I mention we’re holidaying in Hawaii this year?

To celebrate my 50th and our 30th (it’s “pearl” this year, by the way) we’re going via Pearl Harbour, to visit the memorial. I feel a molluscy-type present coming on, though the beloved is not really a Pearly Queen yet.

Any suggestions? Up to a fiver? Hell, let’s push the boat out and I’ll stretch to a tenner!

Luckily, friends own a coffee plantation on Big Island – – so with our best friends accompanying us as usual, we six will be watching those glorious sunrises and sunsets, necking mai-tais and generally getting royally wrecked.

And my best mate and buddy (that’s what they call your scuba-diving partner – it’s a support role, nothing else. Ok?) and I will be diving with manta rays.

The beloved’s a Pisces but scared of drowning, so she won’t be going marlin-fishing with us either.

Better up that present threshold to £15…

The lady speaks

anna says


Sorry if I’m letting the side down, it would seem that testosterone demands a much higher post rate than I can muster, and the fellas are, it would seem, lapping me.
Not a pleasant sensation, I assure you, I feel like the name of ‘woman’ is tainted by my absence.

To score double girly points though;
I was abstaining to appear demure.
Playing hard to get
I didn’t have time, I was spending three hours deciding what to war…
I mean wear.

My boyfriend is a bloated plutocrat.

(posted by Mike)

Watching the parade of misery on Channel 4 News this evening:

K: You know, I don’t think I want to be part of this world any longer.

M: Yeah, but don’t forget that we’re watching a round-up of the very worst things that have happened in the world today. Because that’s what news is, by and large. Plenty of nice things will have happened today as well – it’s just that they’re not so newsworthy. If reported upon, they might even come across as somewhat cloying.

K: I suppose there’s some truth in that…

M (warming to his theme): Just think of all the nice things that must have happened today. A smile will have appeared on the face of a child. A pair of young lovers will have walked hand-in-hand through a meadow. A…


Is this gay enough, Mike?

(posted by Faustus, M.D.)

Yesterday, I attended the Gay and Lesbian Business Expo with the gay and lesbian cheerleading squad of which I am a happy member. Well, I also attended Saturday, but that’s not relevant to this story. On Saturday, I saw several people with dogs–these were queers, after all–so I decided to bring my dog, a Maltese, with me on Sunday. Alan Cumming, star of Cabaret and many fine films, was there doing something, and we ran over to him to drool, and then the most extraordinary thing happened.

Alan Cumming called my dog a sweetheart.

Then he had his picture taken with her.

I almost fainted from shock and joy. I’ve been spending the time since then trying to get my dog to understand how incredibly lucky she is, but I don’t think it’s getting through to her. However, she is on her way to being able to bark out a passable rendition of “Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome,” so that next time I will the one Alan Cumming calls a sweetheart.

Mundane Bowers.

(posted by jimmy destri)

“It is not from ‘productivity’ that a full life is to be expected, it is not ‘productivity’ that will produce an enthusiastic collective response to economic needs. But what can we say when we know how the cult of work is honoured from Cuba to China, and how well the virtuous pages of Guizot would sound in a May Day speech?” Raoul Vaneigem



“A total portrait with no omissions…”

(posted by Mike)

I know, I know. I should leave Graphic Design to the professionals.
But hey. It’s a concept.

So – once again – meet this week’s guest contributors, otherwise known as:



Back row, left to right: Mike, Anna, Mr. D., Faustus.
Front row, left to right: D, noodle.

Apologies for today’s yesterday’s slow page load times, by the way. I’m fairly certain this was down to problems with YACCS (my comments system), which was horribly slow all day.