Thursday, December 31, 2009

I Am Afraid

I am afraid I may have been mistakenly recognised the other day. I was leaving the city and as I walked towards the train to return home, a man stopped dead in his tracks. He stared at me with his mouth gaping slightly and his head turned as I passed him and headed to the carriage. No, this was not a look of 'Phwoar, there's a hottie if ever I have seen one!'. It was more of a 'Fuck! That's the man who killed my brother eight years ago during our trip to Cape Cod!'
So, if I am slaughtered due to a misunderstanding, everyone will know why.

I am afraid for the finale of the Tenth Doctor. I was slightly disappointed with part one of this final adventure (but each Christmas special has been tarnished with a slight sadness as I tend to be more melancholic at this time of year - the first Christmas Special was wonderful, but I was in the UK for that one). I just hope the finale is mind-blowing and spectacular, for I'd hate to see a departure as bad as 'Carrot juice, carrot juice, carrot juice...'

I am afraid that this forthcoming year is going to be a very tight one. Last year's New Year's Resolution was to give up alcohol; I managed that successfully. This year's is to do what I can to pay off as many debts as possible. So expect me to be a little less social and a little less extravagant with gifts.

I am afraid for my friend, Gareth, who is back in hospital again post surgery. I don't know all the details as yet, but it does make me sick to the stomach not knowing and I hope to see him soon.

I am afraid of humans, especially in large groups and under the influence of alcohol, drugs and/or religion.

I am afraid of moths.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We'll Never Pass This Way Again

I know it's a terrible cliché, but this year certainly has flown by. I think it is the quickest year I have ever experienced. Is it because I am getting older?
A common notion amongst my friends is that 2009 has been a reasonably rotten year with the scales tipping heavily on the crappy side, despite the occasional highlight desperately jumping up and down on the other side. One may like to blame the global financial crisis or the alignment of the stars or maybe the old man who spits at the pigeons in the park; but whomever you blame, there is no escaping it. 2009 was not the best of years.

There were a handful of good moments. The absolute pinnacle for me was the wedding of my dear friends Adam and Louise. I'm not usually one to go all weak-kneed and teary-eyed over the old matrimonial displays, but to see this wonderful pair declaring their love on the most perfectly beautiful of days was rather magical. I half expected animated woodland creatures to bashfully sneak towards the gazebo as the wedding vows were spoken.
Another couple of friends, Tina and Stuart, also got married but I was unable to attend for a number of unfortunate reasons, but judging by the photographic evidence, the Disney animators weren't kept out of pocket that weekend either.

My mother's visit was another highlight. Although it was an extremely busy few weeks with lots of theatre visits, dining out and socialising, it was still lovely to spend time with her. I was genuinely a tad forlorn when she left.

2009 was also the year without alcohol. I decided on New Year's Eve that I was going to attempt to get through a year completely sober. I am proud to say that I managed perfectly easily. I was expecting cravings but the only thing that happened was the infrequent dream of me gulping down some wine and panicking that I'd ruined my goal.

I also had a few decent work-related incidents to keep me feeling robust in my skin. I was astonished to receive the innovation award at the Summer conference for the extra work I had done. I also won a prize for raising the most money for a conservation charity on a sponsored walk (albeit a team prize - "Go team!" - *shudder*).

Self-improvement is always a plus to be grinning about and with thanks to my (beautiful) doctor, I was able to blitz some of the frustratingly persistent warts on my fingers and also had the astonishingly ugly cyst removed from my back.
I have also managed to shed a few kilos through exercise and being more careful with my diet and I intend to shift some more over the coming months. I was frightened into it by the ludicrous Body Mass Index which pointed a gnarly finger at me and shouting "overweight" at me (a finger with a mouth – intriguing).

The harder, and dare I say 'shittier', things that have happened this year have involved a number of friends. Some friends have treated me somewhat badly. I am not writing this as a vindictive tell-all in the hope of getting sympathy because those who know me well are aware that I am not that sort of person… generally speaking. I won't go into the details here because;
a) you don't want me to bore you and
b) just thinking about it hurts, so heaven knows what writing about it will do.
So, I shall leave it as a mere footnote to the post*.

The absolute worst part was seeing a very close friend of mine go through a rather horrible time when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Thankfully, the surgery went well and he came out fighting the other side. He’s rather indomitable and we are all grateful for that.

On a lighter note, let's take a look at a few superfluous and trivial highlights.

My Favourite Albums of the Year:

Close to Home – Beverley Craven
Beautiful Mess – Swing Out Sister
All in One – Bebel Gilberto

My Favourite Movies of the Year:

I Have Loved You So Long
Julie & Julia

My Favourite Books of the Year:

Handling the Undead – John Ajvide Lindqvist
The Enemy – Charlie Higson
The Help – Kathryn Stockett

My Favourite TV Shows in 2009:

Pushing Daisies
Torchwood: Children of Earth

Biggest Disappointment:

The so-called 'gap year' for Doctor Who.

Can we take a year off when we're a bit tired? No.


Other Highlights of the Entertainment Variety:

Finally getting the soundtrack to Alexander's Ragtime Band on CD
The double disc set of Fred & Ginger at RKO
Watched loads of I Love Lucy, Buffy, Farscape and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Oh, and there was the wonderful "Pie Day" in which a handful of friends and I spent a day watching a marathon of Pushing Daisies and eating pies.

So, that was 2009. Focusing on the better things is a much better thing to do, rather than wallowing on the negative aspects. If 2010 can have more 'happy' moments, I'll be glad.

Have a great Christmas everyone and a splendid New Year.

*The Footnote: Some people are cunts.

Monday, November 30, 2009

One Good Thing

What a madcap week! One of the most intense weeks I have experienced in quite some time.
The epic stadium of theatrics began on the evening of Friday 20th when I received a text message from my ex-boyfriend's partner asking me to call him. When I did, he informed me that our mutual friend had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and he had been admitted to hospital urgently and was awaiting further news.
When a friend is in trouble, I switch into 'Emergency Ben' mode and suddenly become rather efficient and focused. I just wish I could be like that more often without the triggers of other people's incidents.
I visited whenever I could and provided levity for that is what I do in situations of gravity, I simply cannot help it. It lightens everyone's mood and helps me to cope with the nastier side of life, so it’s a win-win situation.
What humbles me the most is how incredibly brave my ex has been whilst facing such danger. His attitude has been indomitable and that sort of strength touches my heart.

It was also a very sad week for a school friend of mine whose brother had gone missing (back in the UK) at the weekend and appallingly, was discovered dead a few days later. I felt so utterly helpless and saddened by this news, but the outpouring of support online via facebook was incredibly touching.

During work hours, I was kept occupied with doing two jobs. For those who aren't in the know, there is a guy at work who deals with all the sales material, proof reading copies and posters etc for the sales department and also handles the mailing out of larger items around the country. Due to his long-service leave, he is able to take time off quite frequently and I am more than happy to cover his job whilst he is away.
This involves me juggling my own job, his and also spinning a few plates all at the same time. Normally, I am quite adept at this sort of thing – the busier I am, the more in control I seem to be, but I think with the other things going on, I became a little bit frazzled this time. Sure, the heavy work load did prove to be a distraction at times, but when I stopped for a breather, I often felt overwhelmed by it all.
I hesitate as I write this for I don’t want it to sound like I'm making it 'all about me'… I don't want to be one of those people who make other people's severe problems into their own personal drama. That's not who I want to be.

On the Thursday night, I attended the book launch of acerbic journalist Catherine Deveny's third book of collected columns. It was a terrific launch and Catherine was her usual brutally hilarious self. Early on in the evening, she announced that she knew a guy whom I should be introduced to, so I waited around for a while as the book signing shenanigans continued and eventually she introduced me to one of her colleagues. "Michael, this is Ben, he works for Penguin Books. Now, off you go…" and she gestured with flapping hands for us to talk as she dashed off to attend to her adoring fan base.

I said to Michael; "I can get up on stage and tell jokes, sing my heart out and perform in front of hundreds, but I am hopeless at introducing myself to guys!" which, ironically, proved it wasn’t true as it seemed perfectly acceptable as an introduction.
We chatted for a while and then Catherine joined us before driving us to the Retreat pub in Brunswick (with a few other people in tow – I could tell a story here about the events of the trip and the discussions involved, but that's a little more private than I think you'd want to know about. Let's just say that conversation revolved around a certain operation I once had and Catherine proved how crippling funny she can be, even whilst driving.

At Retreat we had dinner and had a good old chinwag and lots of laughter. A few of us even played Spin the Bottle (albeit with a knife) which I have never played before and, despite feeling deliriously immature, really enjoyed the thrill of it.
Michael and I got on rather well (Well done, Catherine) but I couldn’t stay out too late as it was a 'school night', so I caught a taxi home.

So, with two jobs, a friend in hospital, a death and an unexpected night of near-debauchery, I had experienced a manic week.
The recent weekend which followed was thankfully a peaceful one. I was unable to visit my ex as he was still in the ICU post-surgery (they were only able to remove half of the tumour as the other half is attached to too many vital parts of the brain) but he is out today, back in the wards.
Chores were done over the weekend and I baked a couple of cakes. The highlight of the weekend was having a sort of 'date' with Michael. He came over and we had an afternoon of DVD watching with some pizza. We had a splendid afternoon and it was nice to finish off a run of heavy days with something so pleasant.

What I find difficult to reconcile is this feeling of guilt. Here I am enjoying this one good thing that has happened to me while other people are suffering. The juxtaposed emotions are conflicting and I am awash with tension as I try to do what's right.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Golden Heart

Heaven knows I am not the easiest person to live with so I am impressed that Mum managed to get through three weeks in the same apartment without throttling me.
Having lived alone for the past six years, I have become a little set in my ways. Not that this is a bad thing, it’s just awkward when people come to stay as it can be a bit of an intrusion, no matter who it is.

It had been three years since mum had last visited and back then it was with other family members. This time, it was just the two of us and I have to admit I am rather grateful about that. Sure, there were occasional moments when I could have done with some personal 'down time' and I did become a little exhausted with the itinerary I had organised for her – I only have myself to blame for that – but having the chance to spend some quality time together was pleasant.

As with many family relationships, there is a bond which transcends the tensions and conflicts which often arise when in close proximity for a long time. We may have had the odd minor snap between us (usually through my own impatience), but each time it was dispelled with a touch of humour. Both of us despise conflict and although this can be a flaw in some regard, it can actually be a blessing between two like-minded people.

We had great enjoyment attending various theatrical events and eating out at numerous restaurants and cafes in and around Melbourne. My wonderful friends were often on hand to assist with invitations to their homes and meals out.

Some of the best times were had when it was just the two of us discussing our own lives and our individual idiosyncrasies. Mum and I share a lot of beliefs and values. We often share opinions with each other that we may not be able to repeat to others for fear of being chastised. It is moments like these where I feel an emotional and spiritual intimacy with my mother and although we do not agree on all things, there is an unquestionable understanding between us.

From my Mum I have inherited a lot of qualities but to itemise them here would reek of egocentricity and I fear I do enough of that already, albeit it self-deprecatory mainly. Oddly enough, we also both share similar insecurities, so we can find solace together when necessary.

Mum has a gentle soul and a golden heart and it has been a pleasure playing host her during her stay

Friday, October 30, 2009


Ah, my favourite night of the year (I sound like Tim Curry in that old film version of The Worst Witch! Not a great film, but worth seeing for Tim, Diana Rigg and Fairuza Balk. The Bonnie Langford song could have been dropped though!)

Halloween (or 'hallowe'en' if we want to be pedantic!) has always had a special place in my heart. I love the darkness, the creepiness, the spookiness and the all-round silliness.

It's a day that always reminds me of my dear friend Alison as it felt like it was our day. Alison and I have always had a certain penchant for the occult and the supernatural (without actually being satanists, although we have experienced the occasional worrying look for conservative Christians in our time) and we often hung out together for the big night, be it a large fancy dress party or a small gathering of like-minded folk.

One of my favourite memories was one weekend in Bangor. Alison was there at university and I visited for the weekend. We were in the habit of giving each other gifts for Hallowe'en back then and I gave her a mutilated barbie wrapped in plastic and called it a 'Laura Palmer' doll along with a vacuum packed bag of cow's blood.

Ah, sweet Halloween.

Another year, back in 1992, it was an unusual year because I didn't have anything planned at all. My family were out that evening and I was staying in alone. I had a bath early in the evening and I went into my bedroom and switched on the TV. I sat on my bed, wrapped in just a towel and I began watching the BBC's Ghostwatch, starring Michael Parkinson, Sarah Greene, Mike Smith and Craig Charles.
90 minutes later, I was still in my towel and transfixed!
It was such a scary programme, there were rumours of people committing suicide (well, one rumour...) and many people genuinely thinking it was a live piece of television. It was compared to Orson Welles' War of the Worlds (not Jeff Wayne's - thank god!)
The BBC did get many complaints and got into a bit of trouble for it and so they promised not to air it again. It was finally released on DVD by the British Film Institute in 2002 and I bought it whilst in London visiting my friends Jamie and Kevin. Watching it then, older and wiser, I was still thoroughly spooked and I still get chills now just thinking about 'Pipes'.

Sadly, I have to also mention my dear friend Kirsty Steele who has since passed away. Kirsty was such a wonderful person with a gentle heart. She used to hold parties quite frequently at her home and hallowe'en night was no exception. Of course, they were fancy dress! One year, I went as 'The Dread Pirate Roberts' from The Princess Bride (although everyone thought I was Zorro) and another year, I was dressed as Frank N Furter from Rocky Horror (although people thought I was a whore). I even have a picture somewhere of my beautiful friend Rhian, tied to Kirsty's mother bed, dressed as Regan from The Exorcist ("Your mother's a biology teacher in Cheshire!!")
Kirsty passed away about nine years ago and she is often in my thoughts. So tonight, I shall raise a (non-alcoholic) glass in memory of her, of great nights in my youth and also to Alison, my dark-soul-mate without whom I would not be the same person today.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dancing in Limbo

Having watched Julie & Julia for a second time, I began reassessing the nature of blogs and what it is that makes one more successful than another. My rather embarrassing need for attention, fame and approval is one of the reasons behind this rather inept display of prose which clamours for some kind of recognition out there in the infinite web.
Julie Powell had a raisin d'etre, a deadline and blogged far more frequently. I seem to embrace the true definition of random and I mill aimlessly from one topic to another.
Granted, I do not curse as much as Julie, but I don't think I am any less verbose or entertaining.

Reading back that last sentence to myself. I see the pretension some have witnessed in my personality before, but I believe in speaking my thoughts and if I do come across as a bit of a pranny at times, then so be it. Those who know me have an understanding of my true nature and welcome it like a jolly yet slightly irritating uncle at family gatherings.

Before I digress further into the psychoanalysis of my own personality types, let me return to my original point. Blogging. What makes it interesting? Over the years of writing my own personal diaries and - in later years - online, I have noticed a pattern in my style. I begin with great enthusiasm and futily attempt (and fail) to emulate some high-brow academic with awkward turns of phrase and misplaced witticisms. Over time, there appear to be days when I become rather lackadaisical and pore out the most tedious drivel stating where I went, what I did and who I met without any depth or colour to the scene. It's like having a TV marathon starting with I, Claudius and ending up with Neighbours.

One also has to be careful about what one writes. I have often deleted sentences, paragraphs and, on occasion, entire blogs for fear of being reprimanded by readers - but there I go again with the rather egotistical notion that people are reading and/or give a crap.
Does one ignore these little fences of security and express oneself to such a degree that followers bristle with vitriol or should one stay safe and post pictures of kittens eating brocolli?

Then I wonder how much of my soul I should convert into written text. I have been criticised before for thinking too much! Seriously? Can one think too much? I believe it simply makes me more interesting that I don't accept things at face value and that I like to plough through the depths of meaning that is layered before me.
It is far more fun to question things, expand the perspective and stand in another person's shoes. Sure, I may come to the most absurd and incomprehensible conclusions at times, but the journey is the most entertaining part.
Although I do tend to wear my heart on my charity-shop-purchased sleeve, I like to imagine it heightens the interest levels to a degree beyond 'tedious'.

So, to conclude, am I dancing in limbo? Is this a mere excercise for my brain and my qwerty-happy fingers? Will there be a satisfying denouement or will it peter out like a long-running TV show which has emptied the barrel of high-concept ideas?
Maybe someone will read this and leap back from their screens in a blissful act of serendipity after a misplaced Google 'I'm Feeling Lucky' search and scream from their luxury apartment that they have discovered the next Oscar Wilde (Well, while I'm being an egotistically-driven megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur, I might as well go whole-hog, right?) and the next thing I know, I'll be a household name, like 'Toilet Duck' or 'Durex'.
Or maybe someone will tap me on the shoulder politely and then, as I look around, punch me in the face for being a pretentious bumhole and subsequently break my fingers for the sake of humanity and literature.
I expect it will be somewhere between these two extremes. Until the day of revelation comes, I shall continue to do my quickstep across the keyboard and hope that this limbo is not for eternity.

Postscript: If, like with Julie Powell, someone wants to make a movie about my life, I quite like the idea of David Tennant playing me. He'd have to eat a few pies first though.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

He Never Mentioned Love

On Wednesday evening, I had a mad dash to get to my doctor's appointment. I left work early, but was stymied by cancelled trains, faulty pedestrian crossings and slow-walking idiots who take up the entire width of the pavement/footpath/sidewalk (delete as applicable for your country of origin).

I had to run the last five minutes in order to arrive in time, so I was all sweaty and provided evidence of how unfit I have become over the last few months.

Once in the GP's surgery, we began our usual chatty banter. I had already decided earlier in the day that I was going to attempt to find out his 'marital status' as my flirtation skills are bordering on retarded and I wanted to discover if my efforts were futile.
Well, before I could put my plan of truth excavation into action, he provided me with all the answers I wanted when casually referring to himself and his partner.

My heart sank.

Trying not to appear too winded, I aimed for a look of casual interest and asked how long they'd been together and all that sort of jolly chat. All this whilst dealing with stitches being ripped from my back and a swab dabbing at my infection.

Trying to feign nonchalance before one's crush is a hard task and I genuinely felt a little moisture build behind my eye, but I forced myself to be strong and told myself I was being daft.
Of course he's in a happy, stable relationship! He is kind, gentle, warm-hearted and beautiful. I shouldn't have expected anything else.
We did, during our talk, mention my life as a single man (it's been a few years now) and he said that one day some guy would sweep me off my feet.

What I should have said, rather than make the guttural sound of a self-deprecating 'guffaw', was "I just hope it is someone like you!"

It's not all sad. Yes, I may have an infection in my wound and yes, I may have discovered I have fallen for the unobtainable (again); but as my friend Dave says, it's good to know my heart can feel that flutter. For a while I thought my heart had turned to ice and I was incapable of feeling that thrill of connection and chemistry. Having this minor one-sided 'affair' for the past few weeks has taught me that I still have the ability to love.

All I need to do is find some reciprocation.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Things Happen

My Mum is arriving on Tuesday to stay with me for three weeks. I went out this morning to buy some odds and ends including a nice bright yellow litter tray. The litter tray is for my cat, not Mum.

The morning's expedition was a little fraught as I was in a bit of pain. Let me explain why.

Saturday was a nice day: to begin with. ("Marley was dead: to begin with.")
I went into the city first thing to buy some Yorkshire Gold tea and I met my friends Louise, Adam and Nick and we headed to my favourite cafe, Gordon's, for breakfast. Then we went to Chokolait for some superb hot chocolate drinks. I had been introduced to this shop by Adam's sister, Nicole. She has a nose for chocolate...
Then we all headed back to my place for a fun afternoon of tea, biscuits and The IT Crowd.

Everyone was more than happy to assist me in shifting some furniture. I wanted to rearrange the rooms in order to make the place nice for Mum's visit.
However, very early on in this venture, I pushed a unit a little awkwardly and suddenly, every move I made was accompanied by agonizing pain shooting from my lower back down my left leg and up to my neck.
This was rather bad timing as we were only half way through the job. Unable to move, I had to stand relatively still as the others shifted each heavy object between them to my rather useless directions. I was a little humiliated as I felt like a slave-driver.
My three amigos were incredibly patient and kind to do everything for me and I am ever-so grateful.

The trouble was, I was due to head out to a fund-raising Trivia Night that evening, but my lack of mobility hindered my attendance. So, eased into a chair and wedged in with cushions, Louise and co. stuck around and got me food and kept me entertained for the majority of the evening. We watched things such as Alan Partridge and the DVD of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. Laughter is the best medicine, but it can also be rather irritating when each chuckle aggravated my spine.

After my saintly friends left, I was too tired to stay up. I slowly hobbled like a crippled elderly gent into my bed and tried to get as physically comfortable as possible. The problem was two-fold because of a) my lower back pain and b) my healing, stitched-up shoulder. Knocking back painkillers, I lay in the dark praying for an early train to Sleepy Town.

Eventually I drifted off, but proceeded to have freaky dreams about me going to work without my trousers and being harassed by various enemies.

So, this morning, feeling a little better, I still had to continue chores getting the flat ready and shifting more furniture. I am luckily more supple today, but it does hurt when I lift too much, turn suddenly or sneeze.

This afternoon I intend to tackle the kitchen as the lounge is more or less sorted.
As I type this, I realise how incredibly dull this post is, but hopefully while my Mum is here, there will be far more interesting things to write about.

I also think I am going to struggle using Kirsty MacColl song titles for my posts as I continue to use them up. I may have to incorporate some Beverley Craven songs eventually...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fifteen Minutes

I am occasionally bamboozled by the things I read in newspapers or hear about through word-of-mouth. One of the things that makes me scratch my noggin the most is the articles which pronounce shock revelations in regard to recent research. It wasn't so long ago that some time-wasting students of the university of the bloody obvious released a study in which it was revealed that we, as a race, are becoming more narcissistic and egocentric due to the nativity of the online blog.

Are we not more shocked that some arse-faced numb-nuts are actually whittling away precious funding by coming up with such ludicrously tedious data? Why did no one just come to me or the nearest Betty Wallace or Jimmy Fishnet and ask one of us? It doesn't take a dedicated Mensa student to figure that one out.

I believe we are all a tad egocentric, for heaven's sake, that's what the ego is. The birth of the internet has just provided us with a forum to display it to a wider audience.

See, nobody is paying me for spouting such crassly blatant statements. If anyone would like to, let me know and I'll give you my bank details.

Oh, and while I am thinking about it - you may not see the relevance, but there's a winding path of stepping stones bravely transcending the raging torrent of thoughts which leads me to this statement - if a tree falls down in a forest, of course it'll bloody well make a friggin' sound even if there's no one there to hear it. Just the same as a mobile phone will ring its cellular heart out in an empty train carriage. One does not need an aural receptacle for there to be sound. Just as light exists without sight.

Rant over. Discuss at your own leisure. In a box. With a cat. And a hammer.

Now onto the main part of the post...

What an interesting few days it has been.

Let me begin by saying that on Thursday, post-operation (it makes it sound so grand, calling it an 'operation' when it was merely a slice 'n' dice in a GP's surgery, but grant me the option for melodrama if you will), I returned to work like a brave little soldier facing the front line with a severe case of 'limb gone AWOL'.

Probably not the best idea as I was in slight agony. After lunch, as I waited for my usual early-afternoon poo and found myself seeing pretty lights dancing before my eyes. The notion of being found by a work colleague passed out in the lavatory with my trousers around my ankles had me rather worried. Mainly because I was wearing my Doctor Who boxer-shorts.
Having regained some sort of composure and dignity, I took myself back to my desk only to discover I was feeling rather feverish, dizzy and not far from the nauseous bracket. Given these rather worrying symptoms, I decided that the best procedure would be to head home and rest like I was supposed to be doing in the first place.

On Friday, after an unsurprisingly uncomfortable sleep (that's two nights of bad sleep thanks to old Cysty McCysto) I had to drag myself back to see the doctor for a redressing. (No, not 'undressing')
When I entered his office, he immediately noticed my posture and told me to relax. Once again, I felt like shouting my catchphrase; "Have you MET me?"
He stood opposite me, grabbed me by the shoulders and began to shake me. Not in a '1950s-misogynistic-husband-beating-his-wife' sort of way, but more of a 'this-is-how-you-toss-a-salad' sort of way. It was friendly, professional yet casual.

I can't deny it brought a smile to my face.

Later during the date - er - I mean 'appointment' - I pointed out how I would also like to remove the unsightly little bump near my eye which graces my face as subtly as a rhino on a bouncy castle. He reached out, tenderly embracing my head with his tenacious fingers and staring into my eyes. Well, 'between' them is more apt, but it was a wonderful sensation.

Does this guy know how to flirt, or what? Damn that ethical code these doctors have.

Saturday (today), I attended a Tuppaware party. The last one I attended was over six years ago at my friend Tina's place and I still use the wonderful cereal dispenser to this day.
Today's party was being hosted by another superb friend, Michelle. I was not totally enamoured with the majority of the products this time as they seem to have been attacked by the Manic Pastel Monster of Doom. However, my name was drawn from the plastic jug to win the prize of a fancy cake slice - very handy should there be a zombie outbreak and I need something to fend off a pesky corpse or two.

Once it was over, Michelle and I headed out to see Julie & Julia.
Having read (and loved) the book four years ago, I have been looking forward to this movie for some time and I was not disappointed (although I would have liked to have seen the maggot scene as so beautifully described in the book. Then again, maybe not...)

For those of you that do not know, is about two women. Julia Child (Meryl 'Oscars-should-be-called-Meryls' Streep), who wrote 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' and Julie Powell (Amy 'Eat-me-I'm-so-cute' Adams) who decides to cook every recipe from said book and blog about it. Both are very successful and the rest is history.

Coming away from that movie, I wondered what my niche could be. What is it that I could do to fulfill my purpose in life? What can I blog about that anybody would be even remotely interested in?
Do I blog my way through reading all of the 'Popular Penguin' titles as I once suggested to my peers?
Do I tell of the slightly hopeless attempts at finding love in this crazy old world?
Do I recount my exploits as I try to pay off debts and save enough money to visit Cuba?

And then we come full circle back to the ego thing.

Blog. The billboard of pretension. Flaunting itself in desperation for fame and approval. "Like me!" "Enjoy me!" "Tell me I'm talented!"

It's the twenty-first century's answer to the British Holiday Camp Talent Show. Only this time, the competition is larger and the losers don't get thrown into the icy waters of the outdoor pool... it's worse... it's the freezing ocean of obscurity.

The truth is, despite my slight yearning for that quarter of an hour of global recognition (Paraphrasing Mr A. 'hole a bit), I am quite happy if I can entertain just one other person with my trivial ramblings. Sure, it passes my time and is cathartic in a cerebral way, but part of me warms to the idea that out there, one person - any person - has read through and heard my voice.

No big ambition.

Just a glimmer of hope.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sun on the Water

Saturday, the 10th of October, 2009.
Today would have been Kirsty MacColl's 50th birthday.

On December 18th, 2000, Kirsty was in Cozumel, Mexico with her two sons for a pre-Christmas holiday. Whilst out in a swimmers-only area of the sea, a speeding boat hurtled towards the family. Kirsty’s motherly instinct kicked in and she pushed her sons out of the way and she was fatally struck by the boat.

Celebrating the success of her brilliant album Tropical Brainstorm and looking forward to returning to a home decked with festive displays and presents under the tree, the happiness was torn apart.
To this day, there still has been no justice served to those responsible. However, that’s another long story covered in two biographies amongst much other media

Here I would like to tell my story of my love affair with Kirsty and her music.

To begin with, I had only a vague recognition of Kirsty MacColl. I had seen her on Top of the Pops with The Pogues and she had performed once during the second series of French and Saunders.
It wasn’t until the third series aired that I awoke to her brilliance.
In the first episode of that season, she sang Fifteen Minutes which alerted me to her sense of irony and wit. Later, she sang Don't Come the Cowboy With Me, Sonny Jim! which showed her versatility and pathos.
However, the song which will always be the catalyst for my devotion will be Still Life which is a beautiful reflective song which mourns the uprising of modern structures like Milton Keynes, destroying the memories of the past.

I bought the two albums which were available at the time, Kite and Electric Landlady (Desperate Character has sadly never been released on CD to date) and the former is still a favourite of mine for its lyrical beauty. It contains the sublime cover of The Kinks' Days which has been universally praised as being that rarity of a good cover version of a classic song. Even Raymond Davies gives it his thumbs up!. Electric Landlady is a brave album for its diversity in styles but also suffers for exactly the same reason and occasionally feels disjointed. This does not mean the individual songs should be denied kudos as the true brilliance of Kirsty still shines through. We'll Never Pass This Way Again is one of the most heartbreaking songs and it haunts me regularly.

The best track on the album is My Affair which has a tremendous Latin flavour and I recall saying at the time that I wished Kirsty would do an entire album in a similar style. Thankfully, my wish paid off, if not for nearly a decade later.

These two albums were my lifeline during a very hard period in my life when I first moved away from home to the horrors of college life in Bedford. I was struggling with my sexuality and was brutally intimidated by so many changes around and within me.

Luckily, it was around that time that Kirsty released Titanic Days on the ZTT label. Kirsty called it her 'divorce album' as it was in the wake of her split from husband and producer Steve Lillywhite. Although a melancholic album, it also displays the hidden depths to her talent. Raw yet mesmerising, the album to this day stands as one of my all-time favourites. I may not have gone through anything as rough as a divorce at my tender age of 18, but there was an affinity felt between myself and the heart worn on Kirsty's sleeve.

In the following years, there were a few compilations including the superb Galore and the collection of studio recordings What Do Pretty Girls Do? (which included a blissful acoustic version of Still Life). More backlist songs were released from her years with Stiff records including the hits that made her famous such as They Don't Know and the novelty song There's A Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears Hes Elvis but I was always enamoured with the jokey Eighty Year Old Millionaire. Also worthy of note is Kirsty's version of A New England which Billy Bragg re-wrote for her one morning as she cooked him eggs for breakfast.

It wasn’t until 2000 that Kirsty's opus magnum would be revealed. Having spent the past ten years flying back and forth between the UK and Cuba, Kirsty began to assimilate the Cuban music into her soul and the resulting album, Tropical Brainstorm is a tour-de-force of everything brilliant about her. The infectious beats, the steamy sensuality, the devastating; wit all combined to make a perfect album.
From the joyous opening songs (Mambo de la Luna, In These Shoes? and Treachery which will make even the most sour of pusses tap their toes), via the raucous melodies of the mid album trilogy Nao Esperando/Alegria/Us Amazonians to the heartache of Wrong Again and the pure magic of the song celebrating sexual chemistry, Head.

I fell head over heels in love with Tropical Brainstorm and it remains my favourite album of all-time to this day. I have since bought it for a number of my friends whom enjoy its bountiful frivolities.

The day I discovered about Kirsty's demise, my friend Louise was picking me up in the morning to take me to work. It was going to be a Christmas lunch at work and I had a coffee percolator on my lap all wrapped up as a gift for my colleagues. I was waiting for Louise to pull away from the kerb, but when she didn’t, I was curious. Then she told me the news.
For the rest of the day, I was in shock. Luckily, I had a number of Kirsty CDs at work and was able to listen to them on my computer.

Since her death, there have been numerous special releases chronicling her career including the superb three-disc From Croydon to Cuba and its accompanying DVD of music videos.

Nine years have nearly passed but I am still sad at the loss. Kirsty's sensibilities, humour and energy have been something which has touched my heart for many years and I shall never tire of her.

I had a plan to be in Soho Square, London this weekend in order to join the 50th birthday celebrations with a legion of other Kirsty fans, but finances forced me to abandon this dream, but I shall be there in spirit.

In an eerily prophetic twist, the last Song Kirsty recorded before her death was Sun on the Water which ends;

Sun on the water
Lapping around my feet
Sun on the water
Making it hard to see

I want to be the one to say
I'm happy here and here I'll stay
I won't remember yesterday
When I'm dreaming

It was the place where she felt free
And Heaven lies under the sea
Hell is just dry land to me
When I'm dreaming

Thank you for everything, Kirsty.
Happy birthday.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Butcher Boy

Today I had to have another day off work (what a trauma!)
For a few years I have been cursed with a sebaceous cyst on my back. I had it there once before and had it removed, but this feisty little bugger decided to rear its ugly head and torment me once again. I arranged for an appointment with my doctor to have it exorcised but as I had the morning free, I thought I'd make the most of my time and get a blood test done too. My doctor likes to keep track of my blood as I have ridiculously high cholesterol levels (can I sue Twix?) and he likes to keep well and truly on top of it. He said "Should we check for HIV too?" and I laughed. One needs to be having sex first... so I'm fairly safe there - unless you seriously can catch it from a toilet seat.

So I went to the pathology lab and awaited amongst a bunch of freaks until it was my turn. I don't think I am being unfair calling them freaks. One lady had not been able to dress herself properly with one arm missing the sleeve completely and another man kept doing an impression of a horse.
I live in a very odd area.

So, I had my blood sucked out of my arm and I am sure I saw a couple of seedy vampires lurking in the alleyway as I left. Neither of them looked like Eric from True Blood so I continued on my way home.

Now, the next image is of my cyst. It doesn't look too huge in the photo, but believe me, it is larger than one would like and is (obviously) slightly evil.

Now, I have had that nasty little blighter for going on for a decade.

As I have mentioned previously, I have a major crush on my doctor.
Well, it was embarrassing when I think about it how I got ready to head out. I showered, shaved, put aftershave on (thanks Tina!) and made sure my hair was reasonably smart. It was as if I was going on a date! (Chance would be a fine thing)
I felt ridiculous after the only intimacy was his finger penetrating my wound.

I arrived for my appointment and as I sat in the waiting room reading the same damn issue of GQ as I always read when I am there (nice interview with Jeremy Piven), I had this sudden urge to bolt. Maybe it was the memory of the previous exorcism 13+ years ago... maybe it was the fear of pain... but I pulled myself together and before I knew it, I was lying face down on a table with my shirt off.

I cleared the magazines off the table first and the other patients were a tad bemused, of course, who wouldn't be? When my doctor came out and asked me to enter the surgery, I thought it best to follow his advice.

Lying face down, once more, before my (beautiful) doctor, I began to tremble. When I am nervous, I do three things: Tremble, sweat and talk.
I talked and talked about anything my mind could think of. I am sure he was absolutely delighted to know the plot of Julie & Julia.

He told me to relax ("Have you met me?") and he began the procedure, butchering my back open and scraping out the vile monstrosity from within. First the anaesthetic needles went in all around the cyst, then he sliced it open and I felt goo and blood trickle down over my shoulder towards the bed. He spent a good few minutes digging out the dead crap.

It is at this point I would like those who have seen it to recall the second season Torchwood episode entitled Fragments in which a tumor turns out to be an alien which emits a noxious gas and kills everyone.
This scene rang bells with me as the stench was intense. I swear to God, it smelt like my cat's arse after she's eaten dairy.
This pungent odour permeated the room and engulfed everything around. I even saw a plant wilt - and it was plastic! Gross!!

The next image I took with my phone. It's the beast dissected. Not for the squeamish.

Thankfully, it has now been disposed of safely and has been shot into space to avoid further contamination.
My fantasy situation I had played out again and again in my head did not happen. The fantasy went like this...

Hot Doctor: "Are you all right to get home, Ben?"

Me: "Oh, I'll be fine. I'll walk it."

Hot Doctor: "Heavens to Betsy! We can't have that. Let me drive you home."

Hot Doctor and Ben head back to Ben's flat in Hot Doctor's car. They arrive.

Hot Doctor: "Do you need help getting upstairs?"

Me: "Hmm, maybe. And I might need help getting into my PJs..."

Oh, I shan't go on, you can guess the rest...

Sadly, I just had to walk home and pick up some painkillers on the way.

So, now I am back home, the anaesthetic hasn't worn off yet, but when it does, I'll knock back a few pills. I have had a nice mug of tea and a Twix as a special treat for being such a good, albeit talkative, patient.

This is what my back looks like now...

Thank you Hot Butcher - er, I mean 'Doctor'.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Good For Me

On Tuesday, I noticed a slight strain in my shoulder, by Wednesday, it was slightly more aggressive. By Thursday, it had affected my sleep pattern (which is less of a pattern, more of a shambles). So, due to the chronic agony which pulsed through my neck, I decided to do what's best and take the day off work.

Whenever I have a sick day, I always make it worse for myself by stressing over the decision. Who am I letting down? Am I really so incapacitated that I can't work? Do I have the sick days available?

I paced the kitchen for a good half an hour as I weighed up the options but eventually, I saw sense and I dialled the number and excused myself for the day. Oh, and I am so glad I did. I have had this 'trapped nerve' kind of issue many times before and if I don't look after it, the pain can be exacerbated by even slightly strenuous circumstances.

Hot showers, heat packs and painkillers can do so much, but there's no better remedy than time out. I have to admit, i have been rather stressed at work lately - not stressed in a "Oh my God, this patient will die unless I can remove the tumor from her brain" sort of way, but just the amount of work I have been doing whilst initially covering for one colleague for two weeks and then another for a further three, so that the past month or so has had me juggling more than my usual balls (the juggling analogy doesn't work somehow).

Don't get me wrong, I actually enjoy being busy, but my social life has also been busy too and time to myself (which I cherish) has been less frequent than I'd perhaps like.

So, Thursday was spent in my PJs, reading, having many cups of tea and watching many episodes of I Love Lucy. In the evening I ordered a large pizza which I am currently regretting.

When I am off sick and I am reading books which are work-related, I wonder if it should actually be considered a work day - just working from home?! No?

As I write this, it is Friday morning around six o'clock. I still have a slight ache in my shoulder, but I am going to work anyway for two good reasons. One; it's 'Briefing Day' and I hate missing the monthly briefings (I enjoy the company of my colleagues on that day and the communal lunch) and two; I would need a sick note from the doctor were I to have a day off next to a weekend. Who invented that rule?

So, any moment, I will get out of these PJs, have a shower, get dressed and head off.
Good for me!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tomorrow Never Comes

I will not be surprised if you feel the need to scold and chastise me for being so slack in updating this blog. The truth is I just haven’t been quite interesting enough to post anything worthy. Whenever I have thought about something to post, I have procrastinated with the old adage; "Oh, it can wait until tomorrow!"

However, that said, here is a round-up of various events and notions from the past few weeks.

I have been having some recurring dreams. Two of which are most vivid. One is about David Tennant's final Doctor Who stories (in which I am a companion) and the other is me having a second crack at being a Stand-Up comedian – I am not counting the horrifying memory of me 'having a go' one Comic Relief back in my school days where I thought the height of comedy was wearing my clothes on backwards in walking onto the stage in reverse.

My first proper foray into the oh-so-hilarious world of comedy was back in 2000 when I spent time at a 'Humourversity' (I kid you not) which was an evening class run over a few months. It eventuated in me having a few gigs in and around Melbourne. Not all were side-splitting, thigh-slapping, eye-watering successes; but not all had the crowds akin to a Gorgon’s audience.
Performing comedy was something I had always wanted to do despite the vast majority of friends telling me that I was about as funny as athlete's foot. When in doubt, I said to myself, tell the joke about Father O'Brien, the pope and the very large fish.

Well, I ticked that box on my list of things to do before I die and luckily, I didn’t die on stage.
Nine years later, I ponder the notion of having another crack, thanks to these dreams in which I seem to have people rolling in the aisles. Last night's cracker of a joke was me saying to the crowd; "I hope I'm giving you your money’s worth… you paid five cents entry fee, right??" Cue hoots of laughter.

Going back to my other recurring dream, I have become rather fond of the tenth Doctor and he's going to be severely missed when he regenerates. I had fooled myself into believing that he'd stay around and 'outlive' Tom Baker, being the huge fan of the show that he is. Heaven knows, if I was offered the role, I'd be there for years. However, we Doctor Who fans know what happened the last time an actor said that. Damn you Michael Grade.

Yes, I know I'm not an actor. Yes, I know I live in Australia. Yes, I know the chance of me becoming the Twelfth Doctor is more remote than me winning the lottery or being eaten by a moth, but I like to keep the dream alive.
So, in my dreams, I am merely the companion.

Moving on…

Anyone who knows me will be fully aware that I am not exactly a sports buff. I have always been averse to competitive physical activities and I was utterly useless at practically every single event at school. The one exception was the hurdles. This is neither interesting nor important, but I thought I’d throw this fact into the mix for trivia fans.

Football in particular has been a cryptic conundrum to me. I just don't see the appeal and I often get frustrated when trying to figure out what’s going on and why people care so much. However, I have now watched two AFL games during the past decade in Australia and each one was a grand final. Also, each time, the Geelong football team have won. They are known as the Cats… So, if anyone ever asks me who I 'barrack' for, I shall say Geelong. Why not, eh?
I have watched these two games purely in support of my friend Louise who also supports said team and it is fun to see her get so involved. I also see it as a good excuse to sit on a settee, drink lots of tea and eat a lot of snack food. Sure, I could do that at home, but the added bonus of seeing Louise jump up and down squealing and cheering makes it so much better.

Now for the news.

Vegemite (The Australian equivalent of Marmite for those Brits out there reading this) have released a cheesy variant and they had a competition open to the public to come up with a name for this new product.
The winning moniker is 'iSnack 2.0'.
I can't bring myself to type it again, even for comic effect.
They obviously didn't like my entry; 'Poo in a jar'.
Maybe they thought it was an instruction.

Polanski is arrested.
Oh, conflict in my brain!!
I just love the films of Roman Polanski. Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby, Knife in the Water, Frantic, Death and the Maiden, I even loved The Ninth Gate! He finally won an Oscar for The Pianist. (Which I am still yet to see, shockingly. Yes, it has the beautiful Adrien Brody in it, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a barrel of laughs. I will have to be in the right mood. And even Mr Brody’s handsome nose could not save the horrors of King Kong – cripes, that was bad!)

I do not condone Roman's sexual assault of a thirteen year old girl back in 1977.
Yes, she has asked for the charges to be dropped as she wants to move on with her life after all these years. Roman has avoided America and punishment all these years and during that time he has made some phenomenal cinema.
Should he now be punished?
I look at it like this… if Josef Fritzl wasn't punished, he may have gone on to create the greatest cartoon character in the history of animation – The Adventures of Jeffrey the Blue Mouse. Loved by children and winner of many awards and critical acclaim.
This does not mean his crimes are exonerated.

Or has Roman been punished enough? Was the murder of Sharon Tate et al a factor in the cosmic balance of pre-emptive karma? Was it a trigger to his act later on? Should it matter?

He made a mistake; a very misguided and terrible mistake. But has he atoned for his sins? I, for one, dare not make that call.

Finally, I return back to my health, which I have frequently commented on before.

I have stopped going to the hospital to get advice and medication for my vestibular migraines. Each time I go, I have to take time off work, fork out dough for a bunch of mad-ass tablets with side-effects worse than the initial problem. So what is the friggin' point? I am going to see how I manage just coping with the headaches, numbness and dizziness. I’d rather put up with that than gain extra weight and be continually drowsy.

In other medical dramas, I am getting that ugly lump removed from my shoulders – No, not my head! Cheeky!!

I have had a large cyst on my back for some years. I have had it removed once before about thirteen years ago, but it grew back. It is not dangerous or anything, but it does make me feel like Quasimodo’s younger brother.
I could get it delicately removed by an expensive plastic surgeon, but I am not that vain or wealthy, so I have asked my GP to stab me with needles and scrape the bastard out. This monstrosity has been the bane of my self-image for some time and it has to go.
To think how strongly I feel about it, one wonders how on Earth I could have forgotten the bloody appointment last week! Idiot that I am. I have re-booked and hopefully, if all goes to plan, the offensive protrusion of doom will be slaughtered next Wednesday.

So, that’s my latest blog. A bit of everything. Even though I wrote this yesterday, I once again procrastinated to actually post this. Tomorrow never comes, eh? Well it's tomorrow now and here's my post! (?)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Clock Goes Round

Well, I have found a new way to pass the time (read as: waste time)!

On Monday, I signed up for a new dating website, only this time, it was not one of those nasty, creepy, dirty, gay websites where everyone is feral and after one thing. Yeauch *shudder* etc.

I have tried those websites before and all I have experienced is sleazy blokes wanting to get their end away. Sorry chaps, you're barking up the wrong tree with me. I prefer to meet people with similar interests, who like a chat, a mug of tea and want to discover more about my mind rather than how big my penis is. (not that I'm ashamed of that, thank you very much! I just think there is more to a man than his genitalia - heaven forbid!)

So, this new site I am on is great fun. I dare not share with you the name as I fear that people will go looking for me and mock my profile, so for now, just be aware it is a site that caters for all types of people. It is funny, entertaining and easy to navigate. I have been on for five days now and have enjoyed the whole thing.

I cannot deny that I am slightly disheartened by the lack of interest so far, but I think that may have something to do with my blatant love of Doctor Who. However, I feel it is necessary to have it out there because, frankly, you get me - you get the Doctor. That's how it works, folks.

So, each night this week, I have been perusing profiles, answering compatibility questions and adjusting my own profile. It's all been a bit of fun. It has eaten into my spare time though. Normally my evenings are spent either reading a book or watching DVDs in front of that old comfortable friend, the TV. This week it's been me, sat in my cold kitchen at my computer desk, typing away and proffering my soul to all and sundry in a desperate attempt to lure somebody into my heart.

I'm not unlovable (I hope) so I imagine there is somebody out there who isn't too much of a nymphomaniac, who likes quiet nights in, isn't allergic to cats, loves a good murder and will enjoy being whisked away in the TARDIS on regular occasions.

If they've got a nice willy, then that's a bonus! (tee hee)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Until the Night

I'm feeling a little out of sorts today. I think it's the culmination of a few things.
For the past two weeks, I have been doing two jobs at the same time. I have been doing my regular sales role and I have also been covering for someone who is currently on long service leave.
The great thing is that I just love being busy and I thrive on it. The challenge of juggling various tasks actually gives me a bit of a buzz.
On the other hand, it has been rather exhausting and I have been very lethargic in the evenings.
The physicality of running between point A and point B has enabled me to keep my mind off other things which have been going on. Certain issues I am having have been filed away in a deep dark recess of my mind.

Last night when I got home, I kind of collapsed a bit. The two week frenzy came to a close and as my body began to ache with the delayed reaction of a hectic fortnight and the filing cabinet in my brain I had attempted to keep shut sprang open and I had
issues strewn all over the place in a most confusing manner.

Today, some of the emotional impact that I have been avoiding has struck me like a gale force wind and I have been driven askew. All at once, I am experiencing confusion, hurt, sadness and anger all at the same time. I thought I was a little stronger than this, but apparently, this isn't the case.

I am going out this evening to see my very good friend Michelle who will cheer me up with nice food, entertainment and superb company. Sometimes we have to wade through the pensive day to reach the release of the night. It is at times like this I was not keeping myself alcohol free as I feel a little nip of something might loosen my tension a little.

I apologise for this post being a little glum (and somewhat vague), but there are times when I just need to express myself (and yet remain cryptic).

Saturday, August 22, 2009


This weekend marks the tenth anniversary of my arrival in Australia. Looking back to that time, I still find it incredible that I managed to get organised and financed in such a short space of time. It's all a bit of a blur to be honest. The decision was made, I got a credit card, applied for a visa, had a few issues with the passport (it turned up the DAY of the flight out - no kidding!) and all of a sudden, I was on a plane to Australia.

Prior to this massive upheaval in my life, I was working as an Assistant Manager of the wonderful Legend Cafe/Bar in Bournemouth on the south coast of England. I had been studying Screenwriting for Film and Television at the university and although my life wasn't exactly as I had once expected it to be (I certainly wasn't a television personality or film star as I had once hoped) I was reasonably happy with my lot.

Then, wham-bam, I was in Australia seeking employment. I had a handful of jobs before I settled down in the world of Penguin Books including working for Blockbuster Video, Angus & Robertson Bookworld and selling tickets for comedy shows in the street. The latter job was a tad painful, mainly because they made me shift a filing cabinet in the office and it fell on my hand and broke my little finger.

During my time in Australia, I have experienced some amusing things;

1. Being a door-greeter at Myer's Department Store where, in my naivety of the Australian colloquialism for 'linen' replied to the question "Can you tell me where Manchester is?" I replied "It's in the North of England!"

2. Australia is obsessed with big landmarks. The Big Banana, the Big Marino, the Big Pineapple, the Big Shrimp etc.
I am just waiting for KFC to erect the Big Cock.

3. Some country folk are a little peculiar. One of my clients to whom I was trying to sell Paul Davies' popular Science book How to Build a Time Machine, and she asked "Won't that encourage children to build bombs and go back in time?"

I do enjoy my life in Australia and I have made some superb friends whom I wouldn't exchange for anything (except, perhaps, a working TARDIS - sorry guys, but really... this is me we're talking about.) and they have all been so wonderfully supportive when I have been down or in trouble and been there by my side for the funnier and more bizarre times.

I do miss the UK a lot. The countryside, the greasy spoon cafes, the BBC... and I think if I won the lottery, I would move back, as long as I didn't have to work or eat Asda pasta ever again.

However, I am settled here now with my partner in crime, Fizzgig, whom I adore unconditionally.

Who knows what the next ten years will hold or where I will be in that time. All I know at this very moment is that, despite a few ups and downs, I wouldn't change a great deal. Maybe I wouldn't have had that night on the town where I was so off my face that I vocally berated a bunch of talentless drag queens before being dragged out of the pub by my elbow, but we all have our little indiscretions.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Goodness, gracious! It has been a couple of weeks since I last posted something in this bog, so I feel I ought to write something again. It is Friday evening and I have no plans. I am in an odd sort of mood and cannot decide upon doing anything, so I am doing silly things like playing on the internet and taking photos of myself out of sheer boredom. Sure, I could read or watch a DVD or something, but for some reason, I am just not in that sort of mood.

My friend Lisa came down from Queensland to visit and she has spent the last couple of days with me. We ate out a lot, walked around the city (we walked for about ten kilometres - probably more. Poor Lisa wasn't wearing the correct sort of footwear - ie 'Women's shoes' - and ended up with very sore feet. Whoops.
However, while we were out wandering through the abysmal non-food segment of Victoria Market (utter poo, let me tell you - all cheap rip-offs with sewn-in labels and tacky crap that only fools would buy!) and we kept bumping into some policemen. One of whom was very cute and I struck up a conversation with him hopefully persuading him that I was not stalking him. Lisa aided the conversation and we got into quite a discussion about legalities, jaywalking and sci-fi on DVD.

This rather handsome cop requested my details. He withdrew his little brown book and took my name - I gave him my card too so he could get my number. Now, is it normal for policemen to do this?

Well, tonight, after Lisa had gone on her way, I began getting text messages from an unknown number. I texted back and forth, unsure of whether it was this very copper. I am cautious at times like these and a little cynical. I wasn't convinced about who it was. I asked and they told me to guess. After a few flirty text messages back and forth, I put a theory to the test. I asked what his initials were - no response.

So, I think it was this - due to a post on facebook stating that I had given a policeman my number, someone thought it would be hilarious to pretend to be this tall, handsome long-arm-of-the-law and proceeded to play with my mind (and heart) by leading me on. However, not knowing the initials of the man lead me to conclude that this was the truth as everybody should know their own initials and I knew what the policeman's initials were having clocked the badge on his chest.
So, whoever it was trying to fuck with me, failed.

This just exacerbates my loathing of the human race. Some people are just plain evil and it depresses me that people would think it is fun to play with someone's emotions in such a way.
It must be someone who has my number and supposedly a friend. Who can say?

OK, I don't like to whinge too often as it just makes a very boring post to read. But I had to say something...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Over the past few weeks, I have been nipping back and forth to see various doctors in order to sort out a variety of troubles.

Firstly, there are the problematic vestibular migraines which plague my head by imitating javelin wounds and Waltzer dizziness.

So far, I have been prescribed two sorts of medication. Initially, I was on Sandomigran but one of the unfortunate side-effects was weight gain. I have enough body-image related issues, I certainly don’t need more.

I was then given Deralin and although there were no observed reactions apart from drowsiness, it simply didn't work to great effect.

Upon my last visit, the specialist explained that now we have discovered the previous two were unsuitable, I now qualified for Topomax (which is often prescribed for epileptics) and I was overjoyed when he told me one of the side-effects was weight loss. However, having written out the details, he announced that there was a very slim chance I could develop kidney stones. Ah. I've suffered from them before. I asked if this could be a problem and he scrunched up the paper and threw it away. I should have kept my mouth shut. I could cope with a bit of abdominal pain for less headaches and a slimmer waist, damn it!

He wrote out a new prescription, this time for Verapamil (Isoptin). Once again, drowsiness was likely, so I was not to operate any cranes or industrial vacuum cleaners but he added that there had been cases of people developing severe constipation. I had to speak out at this point. They don’t call me anally retentive just because of my obsession with plug-socket switches!

So, the waste paper basket's void grew smaller.
Finally, we opted for Endep, a drug which is also used to combat depression (as far as I gather) and I am now finding that they cause the most severe drowsiness than any other. Hopefully my body will adjust to this quickly as I can’t walk around like a lethargic zombie for the rest of my days.

Last night's jaunt was to see my regular (and beautiful) G.P. who is following up on a few other matters including this mad notion of me being 10kg overweight and with more cholesterol than a Scotsman's fried breakfast. I blurted out excuses as to why I hadn't lost any weight; conferences, birthday dinners, etc. but he didn't seem too phased and said it'd take time and I just needed to exercise more. I told him I'd bought some trainers… that’s a start, right?

I also broached the subject of my moles and warts. I have had various blemishes upon my person for many years but I have begun to get rather frustrated with them. The big mole on my inner right thigh was looking a little aggressive and oddly flaky, like an overcooked raspberry soufflé. When I dropped my trousers for him to see it, I was distressed at my choice of underwear for the day; green and blue stripy boxer briefs.

He said that he'd have to put liquid nitrogen on it. Golly, was I aroused? – It was a moment before I realised he was referring to the mole – He offered to do the same to my warts. I have five little bastards on my left hand and two on my right thumb. He opened the red vat which sat innocuously in the corner of the room and he scooped out some smoking liquid and poured it into a cup. It was all rather reminiscent of a Pan-galactic Gargle Blaster. Thankfully, I was not to drink it. With the aid of a small cotton bud, he proceeded to attack the mole with the liquid nitrogen and then the warts. My hands were sweating and I was slightly amused at how I was sitting, legs apart, trousers around my ankles with a gorgeous man swabbing my warts with a freezing substance. He looked at me and smiled. "There's no dignity when you visit the doctor, is there?" he said rhetorically and I laughed in accordance.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hard to Believe

Today, July 22nd, marks the 15th anniversary of me ‘coming out’. I for one dislike that term immensely but for ease I have opted to stick with the common jargon.
Fifteen years!
That’s quite a long time really.

I remember that day very well. Friday, 22nd July, 1994.
That year, I had left Bedford University after only two full terms. I had what one may call a bit of a nervous breakdown; just a little one, about the size of an egg cup.
My time in Bedford was not the most pleasant and my brain was trying to process various conflicting thoughts and yearnings. If truth were told, I’d admit freely that I had regular crushes on male celebrities from a very early age. I won’t admit to all of these crushes, but I will say that one of them was best friends with a gopher.

Back in 1994, I was (cliché warning) fighting a losing battle. I was in a severe state of denial. Oddly enough, everyone had already figured it out for themselves but sadly, no one broached the subject with me to tell me that everything was hunky-dory.

The day in question was as low a point as a carpet tack in a basement. I was sat at home in front of the television and ironing. Then I burnt myself with the iron. Yes, on purpose. It was one of those mad moments where you think ‘I wonder what would happen if…’ and goodness, it hurt. One does mad things when one is depressed, like eat an entire Sara Lee cheesecake, shave off half your beard or burn yourself with an iron.
Crying like a four year old in a sulk, I plunged a bag of frozen peas onto my forearm and then the phone rang. It was my good friend Jamie. Being the wise and cognizant chappie that he is, he latched onto my distress instantly and invited me over for a chat.
I had no money so taking a bus was out of the question. So, I walked.
For anyone unaware of the distance between the little village of Holloway to Lumsdale in Matlock, imagine a length of string and times it by the age of Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands added together… with a big hill in between

Two hours later, I arrived and I sat with Jamie and our friend Will as I battled with tears and namby-pamby emotions for about three hours until the big moment when, exasperated, they demanded to know what the hell was up.
I blurted it out:
“You know James Dean...?” I said.

Will rolled his eyes and let out an all-mighty ‘Ohhh!’ which was loaded with a dose of ‘is that what all the fuss is about’. The three of us then went out for a walk to get some fresh air and I was relieved that I hadn’t been condemned, whipped or shot.
The funniest thing was that curiosity lead to questions about who in Twin Peaks did I find attractive. (Yes, I did say Bobby Briggs, but also Leo Johnson, oddly.)

So that was the big reveal. Over the following weeks, I became braver at telling individual friends. Some I told in a straightforward manner, some through analogy, and some through interpretive dance. The common element was the reactions which were all kind and accepting.

So, what did the fifteen years that followed bring? Well, no one can say I’ve been a gay role-model as I have not really conformed to the stereotype. I was more ‘gay’ when I was in the closet than I was out. It was as if admitting the truth shamed me into behaving more docile. Sure, I could still be exuberant, but anyone who knew me at school will know I was rather flamboyant. For crying out loud, I dressed up as Frank N Furter from Rocky Horror on a number of occasions!

So, in the past fifteen years, I have only had two actual proper relationships. Yes, I have been on dates and a number of flings, but I have never been terribly confident to actively pursue people, preferring things to happen by accident rather than by making any sort of effort. (Gosh, I’m lazy!)

I have been single now for four years and I cannot deny there are times when I wish there was someone other than my cat to greet me upon my arrival home, to wrap their arms around me when I need comforting or to blame when someone’s left the toilet seat up. Despite this, I am mostly happy being single. I have good friends who love me for who I am and do not judge me for being a little bit mad or stupid at times.

If I could change who I am and flick a magical switch from ‘gay’ to ‘straight’, I probably would, but seeing as that is a pure fantasy, I accept the things I cannot change and will continue on living hopefully ever after.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

All I Ever Wanted

My friend Naomi bought me the most wonderful gift.

For those who are unaware, Reynholm Industries is the company featured in the utterly brilliant sitcom The IT Crowd, written by Graham Linehan. I had once mentioned to Naomi how cool it would be to own a mug as seen in the show - and 'hey bingo!' - now I own one...

Bless you Naomi!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Here Comes That Man Again

I have rejoined Twitter.
The first time I was on was a while ago and I didn't last long. It all felt so futile as people were posting every four minutes about what they were doing:

I'm eating beans for dinner!
I just saw my reflection!
What's that over there?

...and the like.

However, I have dragged myself back as I think it is important to be at the forefront of social networking sites - especially seeing as I am applying for a job which revolves around such media.

I do enjoy Facebook a great deal and I have blogged on many different sites over the past decade. Twitter always seemed a little restricted and futile. That said, I can now see the potential for more important things such as work-related news and updates, touring information for bands, celebrity gossip... (er?)

To be a part of a revolution isn't quite so exciting as it used to be because nothing is as (dare I say 'elitist'?) unique or exclusive as they may have been not so long ago. Things no longer seem to have a cult following as the minority following is not so minor.
As the world's population and its technology expands, so will the creativity of the human mind and its need for social engagement. Something else will come along to replace Facebook and Twitter. We may become a little distressed as we struggle to catch up, but I hope to be there amongst the crowd, struggling to keep up with as much dignity as I can muster.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Falling for Faces

Social websites are not for everybody. For the past ten years or so, I have been on and off various sites including Livejournal, Facebook, Twitter and even had my own personal website for a while too. I was only on Twitter for a very brief period as it just didn't suit me - it all seemed a little futile when I had my Facebook page upon which my status updates would be less frequent and slightly less banal.

During this decade of online presence, I had been through varying degrees of emotional stability and when I have been very low, the world wide web has not felt like the safest place to inhabit and share my darkest, deepest thoughts. On these occasions, I have opted to partake in an exodus and have wiped out complete blogs. However, there are also days when I absolutely love exhibiting myself like an online whore as it gives me a sense of fame for a short time. I think Andy Warhole was right about those not-so-elusive 15 minutes of fame.

There are pitfalls in the world of cyberspace blogging. One of these is the construction of paranoia which threatens to envelop those who are more sensitive to the tribulations of human fickleness.
When on facebook, there is the constant worry regarding whether or not people are 'hiding' you or not. Believe me, I am not naive to the fact that I will be hidden by a number of people - those of us who are more prolific do have a tendancy to annoy those who see their newsfeed cluttered with time-wasting rubbish. The sad thing is, once they've hidden you from their newsfeed, they tend to forget you were ever there in the first place.

Then there are those who become friends of just anyone they can possibly find - usually those whom they find attractive and thus believe these porn-star models are slightly more attainable. When you think about it, it's all rather tragic. Goodness, I am not criticising those who do; I attempt to become friends with some celebrities in the vain hope that they'll think I'm marvellous and then I might become one of their elite circle of friends. It's hilarious how we fool ourselves in this way.

Then there is the 'Become a Fan' phenomenon'. I understand people becoming a fan of people, bands, films, TV shows and even chocolate bars... but becoming a fan of 'sleeping', 'breathing' or 'licking stamps' is veering on the edge of insanity. Actually, I am now thinking how mad it is becoming a fan of chocolate. Next people will become a fan of 'nice stuff'. How about becoming a fan of 'being kicked in the balls'? You know, just to shake things up a bit.

Facebook does have its nay-sayers, but I have to say that I love it. I love the way it has reconnected me with so many of my old school/college friends. I love how people will respond to something on facebook when they would never be arsed to reply to an email. It's a way of interaction which is more fun than posting a letter. Those who are scared or appalled by it are a little misguided in my opinion. I am not saying that everyone should partake, but at least they should understand why it can be a very healthy hobby.

That said... if the world becomes a place where nobody goes outdoors ever again and the only way we communicate is via a keyboard, I would like to thumb a lift with the next passing spaceship.
My advice to everyone is, keep booking your face, keep twittering and keep blogging - just don't forget that the human condition is maintained by physical interaction and verbal communication.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Touch Me

Oh, my!

I have developed a serious crush on my doctor. I was there again this evening and it was merely a check up to see how I am going on my medication (My blood pressure has dropped from 117 to 104 - that's quite a drop!) and to check my general health.
The doc is quite concerned about the prescription given by the hospital. He thinks it's too strong, but we will continue with it for a few more weeks and hope I get accustomed to it.
Anyway, we chatted about health, exercise. He weighed me, measured me (height, you filthy minded people!) (I am 87kg and 177cm - I could have sworn I was 178+!!)

Well, we ended up discussing all sorts of things including the gym, my relationship status (god, that's facebook talk, isn't it?) and the fact I haven't dated for over a year. I mentioned how I'd love to be as fit as he is. *blush* I mean, could I make it more obvious? I am utterly hopeless at flirting, but I don't think I could make it any plainer without leaning in for a kiss!

Let me describe him; he is reasonably tall, slim, broad chest, Asian, with a beautiful smile and a pleasant demeanour.

OK. I shall stop swooning over him now. I imagine he has this effect on most of his patients.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Am I Right?

  • I would like a pair of underpants with the slogan ‘may contain traces of nuts’ printed on them.
  • I wish God had designed us properly. Why can’t we just poo out the fat with the other unwanted waste?
  • I become perplexed at the continuity announcer’s ability to make ‘Home & Away’ sound exciting or try to make me watch ‘Masterchef’ by saying “Sticky Date Pudding” in a dramatic way.
  • I think people who torture animals should be punished by having the same things done to them – a fire cracker for a fire cracker!
  • I sometimes think of myself as a good person but occasionally slip into a world of schadenfreude.
  • I don’t like gay people who berate bisexuals. They seem to be hypocritical bigots.
  • I love pigs but they are so bloomin’ tasty. I tried to be a vegetarian once – it lasted three days as I just had to have a pork sausage roll!
  • I hate cat-haters more than cat-haters hate cats.
  • I should have been on ‘Big Brother’. I’d have been great. Kicked off quickly, admittedly… but still great!
  • I hate bullies. School bullies, thugs, Mafia types and Gordon Ramsay.
  • I love the way Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter all have six letters. I hate the way Americans call ‘Autumn’ ‘Fall’ as it ruins the fun.
  • I love the words ‘Acerbic’, ‘lackadaisical’ and ‘hyperbole’.
  • I hate the words ‘Residue’, ‘Gotten’ and ‘Scrotum’.
  • I say ‘Scone’ to rhyme with ‘Cone’ not ‘Gone’ – It’s only ‘Scon’ when there’s none left!
  • I think childhood innocence should be protected. Let’s start from disallowing ‘Condom Kingdom’ stores from opening in high streets.
  • I think Carrie Prejean answered the question correctly (even if I do not agree with her views). It was Perez Hilton who was being ignorant. Tosser!
  • I believe that in today’s technologically advanced world, we should be able to watch any TV show off any TV channel whenever we want - legally (I’d pay!). It’d be great to shove the finger up at the advertising agencies.
  • I think ‘Australia’s Funniest Home Videos’ should just be called ‘Videos’ because they aren’t all Australian, they aren’t all home movies and they aren’t funny.
  • I want the world to know that plurals don’t warrant an apostrophe.
  • I try to be open minded, I really do, but this ‘pregnant man’ malarkey is mental! If ‘he’ still has all the baby-making parts, he is not yet a man – sorry. STILL A WOMAN!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wrong Again

Call me fickle, but I have just deleted my account on that dating website.
I'm sorry, but it was attracting the wrong sort of people. It all felt rather salacious and that doesn't suit me.
If I can find a better website to place a profile, then maybe I will try again. But this particular choice was just not me. Alas.

Yes, I do go on about how I am happy being single and I am - but there are days when I could do with the shoulder to cry on, the comfort of someone who loves me unconditionally and the happiness that love can bring. Just yesterday I was missing being able to make breakfast in bed for someone.

Somehow, that particular website didn't seem like the sort of place I'd find someone who'd still be around for breakfast.

Onward and upward! Keep on truckin' - and other positive cliches!

Free World

As I write this, the long weekend (in aid of the Queen's birthday - well, one of 'em) draws to a close and it has been a very pleasant time.
Saturday was jam-packed with pie-making (as chronicled previously) and TV viewing with friends. I am so pleased we got all the way through season two of Pushing Daisies. Nola and Kirsten quit at episode 11, but Naomi, Michelle and I saw it through to the beautiful end.

Sunday and Monday have been incredibly quiet and relaxing. I nipped out first thing on Sunday in order to buy some fruit and some vegetables for my healthy 'Ripley Salad'* as the Doctor has told me to try and lower my cholesterol.
As soon as I returned, I said to my cat; "Right, that's it Fizzgig! I am not going out of that door for at least another 45 hours!" (this being at 9am and I predict I'll be out and about some time after 6am on Monday)

I spent time sitting about in my PJs reading and watching the final season of Quantum Leap (not the best season, frankly, and it's appalling that the last screen shot spells Sam Beckett's name incorrectly! Madness!) and I also played around on iTunes being a complete geek and making sure all albums were inputted correctly. Jeepers - I am a bit O.C.D. at times.

As you know (or probably do by now) I have been celibate for some time now, but I am not averse to looking for the right partner. On a complete whim, I decided this weekend to put a new profile on one of those dating websites. I freely admit that I tend to dislike those sites as 99% of people who use them are after only one thing - and you don't need me to spell it out for you.
When someone's initial question to you is 'Top or Bottom?' or ask about the size of my penis, they will get ignored instantly. Don't get me wrong, I do not condemn those who do use these sites for near-instant sexual gratification, but my profile is fairly straight forward and I do not post pictures of my naked torso for fear of making people vomit onto their keyboards - imagine trying to pick the chunks out from between the keys with a cotton-bud?
The thing is, these sites make me horribly uncomfortable - it is quite unnerving for me to lay myself so open to people's scrutiny and the process of doing it made me quite ill and I had to rush to the toilet with nervous release. I have this same reaction when I know I have to drive a car. I don't know why, but some things just give me the shits - literally!

Anyway, the profile is up and it paints a rather dull/nice portrait of a man who is not overtly keen on the more flamboyant aspects of gay life and would much rather stay in with a pot of tea.
I don't imagine I will attract many people, but if the right person is out there who is also seeking a bit of companionship and enjoys the works of Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie then, who knows...

So, that's been my long weekend. Pies, books, DVDs, iTunes, PJs and profiles. It's a free world!

*Ripley Salad
Spinach leaves
cocktail onions
feta cheese
red, green & yellow capsicum peppers

Saturday, June 6, 2009


This morning, I have been preparing the pies for this afternoon's Pushing Daisies marathon.

After sifting the flour, I added the butter...

Which I then turned to breadcrumbs...

Then I added the sugar and lemon zest...

and after mixing in eggs, was able to make a dough.

Then, with the trusty old rolling pin, made the bases for the pies.

Then, I filled the pies with the fruit.
One with pears (and vanilla essence)...

...and one with plums and rhubarb.

Then, I had to do the lids. I made a lid for the Pear pie with grated Gruyere on top.

et, voila!

I wanted a lattice effect for the Rhubarb pie, so made some pastry strips.

Now, both pies are in the oven. I shall post pictures of the finished pies later.

I am happy with how it went as I haven't baked pies in over a decade! The proof will be in the eating though.