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Monday, 22 March 2004

Nasal


Now Playing: Broken Social Scene - Pacific Scene
Topic: Empty Fridge Light

I think I have a phantom pregnancy.
Not only do I have a belly the size of Wales, but I can smell *everything*, you know, the way hounds do. Yeah, yeah, laugh on your own time.
I can't stop smelling the reek of old fat from greasy spoon cafe's on my coats, and I nearly went into olfactory raptures on the train yesterday, when some uppity snooty cow got on and hogged all the seats while wearing my first girlfriend's favourite perfume.
Virgin birth, anyone?

Smells no-one should like, but I do:

Warm flagstones in the sun
Petrol
Parmesan
Metal zips
The nape of someone's neck
Plastic wrappers
New books when you crack the spine open
Broken crackers
Short hair
Other people's washing powder
Dirt under fingernails
Waterproof coats
Teddy bears and cat fur
Lipstick
The space between fingers
Gravy
Cat happyfarts
Tar
Dead skin along the side of your thumb nail
Oats
BO (but only if it smells of onions, not vinegar)
Newsprint - papers and magazines
Soil
The smell orange pith leaves on your hands
Sudden drops in pollution levels
A big pig sty
Lap top cases
Water

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:15 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:59 PM BST
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Sunday, 21 March 2004

The Simple Journey


Topic: Yidaho

I had, like, wow, this rilly normalistical blog ready, and then, like, this rilly big bomb scare at Paddington, that was like, totally seriously awesome, and it, like, meant I was stuck on a train all evening instead of being able to, like, blog about it all? And I, like, totally watched The Simple Life reunion on cable before I left? And now, like, ohmigod, wow, bereft of any normal non-transport focused interaction, right? Rilly, I can't speak, like, any other way? I mean, ohmigod, whatever?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 11:43 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 4:04 PM BST
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Saturday, 20 March 2004

Euphoria Transit


Topic: Yidaho

It is ages since I blogged from the train. Usually I'm prevented from reflection by travelling everywhere on shanks' pony, which leaves me pink palmed, breathless, practising the tendons and trying to feel alert to the muscles that are warming up - trying in fact to feel anything other than the cold rain on my nose, and the blister forming beneath the callouses on my sole. Walking's a more solitary activity - your interaction limited to shrugged greetings, fleetingly awkward manoeuvres which rarely progress beyond 'shall I catch her eye', 'has he seen me' or 'shall I overtake yet'.

Train travel, and I'm bombarded by other's phone calls home, excited conversations, wild clothing combinations, faces both animated and bored.
In two minutes I've been treated to four SE London fight narratives, enthusiastically mimed in replay, and a host of tips on how to avoid paying the fare (apparently saying 'sorry, me fohh-ren' to the ticket inspecter yields least success.)

Safe in my seat I can stare out at a dramatic, lowering blue sunset, Canary Wharf in granite blue and silver outlined on the cold pink horizon as wash after wash of navy thunderheads gloom threateningly above.
I can listen to the rails' repeated rumbling energy, trying to decipher a rhythm, a tune, words, from its weighty creaking rattle.
Or look the other way, avoiding the picturesque sunset, and see greenish flickering gold window reflections jewelling against the dried blood coloured boxes of inner city tenements.
Peer into the still lit offices, emptied of their usual occupants, each tenth window revealing a thin moving figure who looks like me.
Or watch the sky in the oily gun metal platform puddles as the train slows to a judder, the surface calm but cold, the bridge platform frozen in space, the Thames churning below.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 1:06 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 4:08 PM BST
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Friday, 19 March 2004

That Bandwagon that was rolling by a while ago...


Now Playing: the chitter chatter of internet munnikeys chimping their wares

Topic: Vic Jameson

Sometimes the story just won't die ...

This page graced by sarsparilla at 5:06 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 19 March 2004 5:18 PM GMT
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Turns out, nobody asks permission, see . . .


Topic: Vic Jameson

The results of the MIT Media Lab Blog Survey are in. Apposite timing, too, what with events snowballing around BdJ (always a little too near to BDSM for my taste), and Creepy being hounded out of her blog [by evil witchy schoolmarmy types who think it infringes the privacy of their previously unknown online pseudonym].
"Formerly viewed as a marginal activity restricted to the technically savvy, blogging is slowly becoming more of a mainstream phenomenon on the Internet. Thanks to much media hype and some high profile blog sites, these online journals have captured the public?s imagination. As novice authors plunge into the thrilling world of blog publishing, they soon realize that publicly writing about one?s life and interests is not as simple as it might seem at first. As they become prolific writers, more bloggers find themselves having to deal with issues of privacy and liability. Accounts of bloggers either hurting friends? feelings or losing jobs because of materials published on their sites are becoming more frequent.

"Here we report the findings from an online survey conducted between January 14th and January 21st, 2004. During that time, 486 respondents answered questions about their blogging practices and their expectations of privacy and accountability for the entries they publish online:

- the great majority of bloggers identify themselves on their sites: 55% of respondents provide their real names on their blogs; another 20% provide some variant of the real name (first name only, first name and initial of surname, a pseudonym friends would know, etc.)

- 76% of bloggers do not limit access (i.e. readership) to their entries in any way

- 36% of respondents have gotten in trouble because of things they have written on their blogs

- 34% of respondents know other bloggers who have gotten in trouble with family and friends

- 12% of respondents know other bloggers who have gotten in legal or professional problems because of things they wrote on their blogs

- when blogging about people they know personally: 66% of respondents almost never asked permission to do so; whereas, only 9% said they never blogged about people they knew personally.

- 83% of respondents characterized their entries as personal ramblings whereas 20% said they mostly publish lists of useful/interesting links (respondents could check multiple options for this answer). This indicates that the nature of blogs might be changing from being mostly lists of links to becoming sites that contain more personal stories and commentaries.

- the frequency with which a blogger writes highly personal things is positively and significantly correlated to how often they get in trouble because of their postings; (r = 0.3, p < 0.01); generally speaking, people have gotten in trouble both with friends and family as well as employers.

- there is no correlation between how often a blogger writes about highly personal things and how concerned they are about the 'persistence' [ie, longevity when cached online] of their entries

- checking one?s access log files isn?t correlated to how well a blogger feels they know their audience

- despite believing that they are liable for what they publish online (58% of respondents believed they were highly liable), in general, bloggers do not believe people could sue them for what they have written on their blogs.

"The findings in this survey suggest that blogging is a world in flux where social norms are starting to flourish. For instance, many bloggers reveal the names of companies and products when they blog about them, except when they write about a company for which they currently work or have worked in the past. More bloggers are becoming sensitive about revealing the full names of friends on postings as well. But for all of the careful publishing guidelines that are starting to evolve, bloggers still do not feel like they know their audience. For the most part, they have no control over who reads their postings. The study also shows that bloggers usually have some idea of their ?core? audience (readers who post comments on the site) without really knowing who the rest of their readers are ? in many cases, this latter group makes up the majority of their readers.

When confronted with questions of defamation and legal liability, respondents in this survey paint a conflicting picture. In general, they believe that they are liable for what they publish online. However, bloggers in this study were not concerned about the 'persistent' nature of what they publish ? which tends to be a major aspect of liability ? nor did they believe someone would sue them for things they had written on their blogs. Moreover, 75% of respondents said they have edited the contents of their entries in the past. Even though most respondents explained that they usually edit typos and grammatical errors, 35% of respondents said they had edited for content as well: entries they decided were too personal, entries they thought were ?mean?, some respondents mentioned having gone back to entries to obfuscate names of people. These results reveal a certain naivete in how most bloggers view 'persistence' and how it can operate in networked environments such as the net, where information is being constantly cached. As blogs become more pervasive and their audiences grow, the ever-'persistent' nature of entries and the direct link to defamation and liability are likely to become even more of a burning issue."

MORE

This page graced by sarsparilla at 12:08 AM GMT
Updated: Friday, 19 March 2004 12:10 AM GMT
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Thursday, 18 March 2004

The Strange Tale of How I Told Mrs Opposite to Learn Some Fucking Manners


Topic: Yidaho

Okay, in person I'm quite mild mannered and polite. Almost to a fault, in fact.
I like turning the other cheek and being magnanimous, and for one reason; it's a stance.
A few weeks ago, I was parking my car in alternate positions in the huge, rather empty off street private car parks we have here, and relishing the security of it all. No more annual break-ins, no more monthly drilling of your locks in that ole East End stylee. I can park numerous places, now, all of them totally utterly parking permit free, bird shit free and crime free.
Parked up a slightly awkward incline, next to the outhouse where all the rubbish gets lobbed, I returned to my car one morning to find a post-it note stuck to the windscreen.

THIS SPACE IS

RESERVED

DONT

PARK.HERE.AGAIN.

Well, you know, I haven't worked alongside the great unwashed of Catford / Enfield for ten years to knock my knees together and quail at some retard threatening me on my doorstep. One of the great side effects of the crisis management and general abuse that so addicts me to my thrilling job is that I'm scared of no one. No one.
You can come at me with whatever weapon you like, you can try to hurt me however you want, and there is no way in hell that I'm going to turn away until I've disarmed you literally and metaphorically. That's right. You're going to apologise.
One of my best such moments was aged 24 in the race-riot-strewn estates behind Euston, when a gang of chemically altered teenagers decided to bottle my head in for being gay. I loved the look of horror on their faces when instead of running away, I turned and walked towards them. I made damn sure they apologised before I left.
I read that inane post-it note, left on the car that, given an option, I'd prefer never to have parked in the same spot twice, and laughed at the world of hurt unfolding in my imagination.
This is probably how squillion decade long neighbourly disputes begin.

I got me a post-it note from my own secret poison pen stronghold, and left a fairly terse message on the miscreant's own grimy windscreen. Something along the lines of 'I don't see a fucking sign, do you?' and 'Learn some fucking manners' (particularly proud of the oxymoron there).

Oh how I prayed the anonymous note writer would go further. I wanted a show down. A full blooded barney at dawn. I was quite happy to go toe to toe and twat the owner of the grimy grey shitmobile. Preferably police called.
Dammit, I have nine months of untapped dead-relationship rage inside me, I wanted to rip my fingernails along someone's face.
No joy - the reply disappeared, grey grubby shitmobile hogged the space possessively, and eventually the opportunistic rage subsided into a mere burst of 'and another fucking thing' rantation if I was having a grim day.

I don't think I've particularly wound my neighbours, so far. I play the radio pretty loud in the bathroom once a day, but it's Radio 4, it's hardly eardrum shattering. My bogus landlady had told me her old schoolfriend, Pilchard, lived upstairs, and had a cat. Poor bloke looked freaked when he walked towards the stairs with some cat litter and a strange woman in a pink fluffy hat yelled 'you're Pilchard, aren't you?'
But aside from my usual slight stalkerish tendencies, nothing to suggest I was a newly planted sociopath in their midst.

Polite beyond the broadest definition, I tried to avoid a meeting with Mrs Opposite this week - Bogus had told me she was an old dear - slightly deaf, and extremely quiet. On Monday, I could hear Mrs Opposite across the hallway slamming her door to run in and out of the flat. This is London, I don't want anything more than frosty civility towards neighbours - so I decided to wait a moment before charging out to begin my two mile morning constitutional.
The coast seemed clear, but as I stumbled towards the hall light, I nearly broke my ankle on some grey dusty car cleaning materials in a grey dusty bucket. So that's what the crashing and slamming had been in aid of. Early morning car wash.

The horror - the palpable gut lurching horror - as I emerged from the front door directly in the path of the mystery note writer's grimy grey shitmobile. As Mrs Opposite looked up from her grubby bucket seat behind the steering wheel.

Me heap big Sarf Lahnnun hard woman, eh? I did my Moron's Best shiteating grin, limply waved hello, and scampered.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 5:52 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 19 March 2004 12:13 AM GMT
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Wednesday, 17 March 2004

Contained


Topic: Vic Jameson

I had to read some (mostly powerful) poetry written by a colleague today, and this one line sticks in my head, and won't go away.

"I don't belong to these grey walls"

Creepy Lesbo has come up against the obstacle of friend's objections to her blog, and is inviting ideas about what to do. I say, up sticks, shut the blog down, start a new one - new links, new pseudonyms, new everything. We'll all find it eventually, Creepy. You don't belong to blogspot, you don't belong to your readers, and you don't need to be held hostage to someone else's sense of propriety.

I dunno, I just can't imagine William Burroughs shooting his wife in the face, and his mother saying "you're not going to put that in your damn blog book".

Creepy's writing is honest, and it's good because it's excoriatingly honest. Painfully, brutally honest. She reminds me of Dickens in a weird way, because I hang on waiting for the next instalment to slice up another part of lesbian life, lance another pompous fart's asinine self-serving behaviour, dissect it and boil it in acid flavoured blog-jelly for me to read about.
Nobody could sit and knowingly be a topic for unforgiving focus like that. So I say move it. If she's censoring herself, she'd be censoring more than just a few words. She'd be censoring the writing, the unburdening, and the talent that keeps improving every time she publishes another instalment.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:18 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 March 2004 4:29 PM GMT
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Tuesday, 16 March 2004

Mosaic


Topic: Belle de Jour

Forewarning: I only just this week discovered how to do a < strike > html2 thingumah, so I'm going to over use it even more than the italicising for the next few months.

If you have two hours of sleep over a three day period, then you see a grey lady walking through the kitchen at the corner of your vision, sudden holographic large spiders scuttly up walls, and even indoors, it looks like a fine rain is falling.

Last Thursday, someone at work puked in technicolour down a stairwell, mananging to splatter three flights of stairs, vertically. I was the most senior person onsite, so of course I did the senior thing, and walked away, pretending not to have noticed the streaming puke shower behind me.

Yesterday I was sat researching something on the office pc at work when I fell off the chair. The whole thing tipped on its side.
There was nothing wrong with the chair. Some subconscious part of me simply decided to sink in a south westerly direction, and take the comfy wheelie chair with me.

I just about managed to quell a fit of sheer, futile pointless fury on Monday morning, on the grounds that it was stupid. Somehow I became incensed that most British blogs I've read this weekend (excepting four bloggers whom I've already thanked) didn't bother to abate their tales of deoderant and how supercilious they were when they went to Sheffield for even one millisecond to mention what happened in Madrid.
I swear, I was shaking with pent up rage about it - I was all set to delete every link apart from the four who mentioned there'd been a terrorist massacre, like, next door.
Dunno where that came from. I can't surely have pre- mid- post- and inter- menstrual ferociousness tension, can I?

When I don't sleep, my stomach bulges into this perfectly round, protruding pot belly very rapidly, until I do. I've been patting it and feeding it Snickers all day. Seriously, today I had to wear an old oversized gap skirt of Tybalt's, because not one single pair of jeans or trousers I owned (in a wide range of sizes!) would close over the pot. Me! In a skirt! With a bowling ball belly! What larks, Pip, what larks.

If I hide my sock drawer in the hallway, and sit in the space, I can pretend I have a very low very uncomfortable desk, and imagine the pain in my legs is because I'm not used to Japanese furniture.

I'm trying to resist the impulse to take my walkman on the morning / afternoon walk to and from work. It's not like the deep throaty rowrrr of traffic is particularly precious to me. I just want to hold off the wealthy isolation that music affords me as long as possible. This morning, not having a walkman as I walked to the area office, unsure of my way and stumbling slightly to make my deadlines, I heard:
A loon-grinned pretty older woman asking me if I'd like to share a tract about Jesus.
The morning chorus being shattered by a particularly resonant and hoarsely grouching crow.
My footsteps, which made me look at the mist hanging aroung the fountain in Mayow Park as I passed it.
The sound of a street sweeper on almost every single street corner of Lewisham. Come on, Mister Mayor, you blobby self congratulatory tosser (I met him last week, this is true) - six street sweepers in one mile of quiet side streets is more than entropy. No-one could chuck out empty crisp packets fast enough to keep them all employed, surely?
The three or four pairs of small boys wrestling.
It's obscene to have so much energy as small boys do.
The office workers who are quietly, insanely singing to themselves. But not quite quietly enough. I like to think of them as nascent Jeffrey Dahmers - I imagine that the tedium of their cubicle-centric environments have unhinged them six years ago, and today is the day they'll allow the other staff to notice; the day of becoming - of taking back their stapler and burning down the building.
(Well, you have to have some way of feeling superior of a morning.)

Someone in my building lobs half a loaf of mouldy bread into the communal garden outside my window every day, and I get to sit and watch Cyril and five wood pigeons (my most hated feathered foe) fight for it.


Cyril

Frosty brought her (to be fair, very pretty and well behaved) newborn baby into work today and asked me to hold it. It was involuntary, I swear. The flinching: "eww, no! What if I drop it?"
Anyway, she swears she's dropped it, too.

Back on the coldest night of February, I ordered a large mink blanket (fake fur, though) online, to curb the shivers. It still hasn't arrived, and now every day I walk past the nasty nylon cyan navy and turquoise spattered fleece throws labelled "MINK!" in their plastic carry cases in the fifty pee shop window, and shiver a little inside.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:37 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 March 2004 4:34 PM GMT
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Monday, 15 March 2004

11/M Reading Material


Topic: Vic Jameson

"Frequently the personalised, subjective, unpolished viewpoint [ of a blog ] strikes me as far more engaging than the Soho House arse licking of your average journalists' take on life."

Therefore, in no particular order, and tending to no particular style, geography being the only defining component, the news from Spain:

Iberian Notes
Puerta del Sol Blog
Santificarnos
First Conditional
Think Back
A Fistful of Euros
Tim Blair hosted english versions of guest blogs from the authors of Hispa Libertas
Baldie (Catalan)
Jeroen Sangers
The Fruitman Chronicles
Living in Europe
Xikita
Buscaraons (Catalan)
Euro Pundits

This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:14 AM GMT
Updated: Monday, 15 March 2004 3:31 AM GMT
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Sunday, 14 March 2004

sub text: a meta-morpho-blog


Topic: Shy Lux

I still have this seventeen hour project to get started finished by Tuesday, so procrastination is rampant, hereabouts. There is absolutely no substitute for a genuine lack of preparation. Hence, the past two weeks have involved mucho reading, film watching, and browsing of blogs. And the more blogs I read, somehow the less I want to keep one myself.
It's not that I don't find blogs interesting - frequently the personalised, subjective, unpolished viewpoint strikes me as far more engaging than the Soho House arse licking of your average journalists' take on life. What unnerves me is that feeling of knowing something that isn't deliberately told. It's when you've read a blog for a while, looked at patterns and repetitions, and somehow the blogger has unintentionally revealed too much.

I've got to circumvent the navelgazing, though to point out my context: that right now, I'm plagued by repeated nightmares. They work about at about a 60:40 ratio of 'I hate Tybalt with every fibre of my being' to 'I hate blogging'. The latter species have me waking up yelling in shock (although still prefereable to the quiet unerring antipathy of the former.) My morning coffee is regularly interrupted by a dizzying surprise at my strength of negative emotion about both.
Derby says that dreams and nightmares are a safe environment in which to work out and process unsafe emotions. She thinks they're about expelling ideas and feelings, in order to create a space, into which new experiences and people can move. A contained environment to co-ordinate your most feared responses to uncontained things.
Funny, that's what I would have thought the blog was. Apparently not.

My first (and best) degree subject was Literature, and I - like most people - enjoy reading the subtext of any written or spoken communication. I have to practise this anyway at work, and to exacerbate this, I'm not that good at going with my instincts in real life situations, so I guess I've over developed my tendency to do it with the written word.
It's difficult, when reading blogs, not to provide an imaginary face behind the html, or to pad things out with a few hidden truths that read against the dominant narrative.
The blogs that have put the willies up me lately (to whom I don't and am not going to link), are the ones where it's not so hard to read between the lines.
The ones where you find yourself trying not to see a human torn up in the struggle to avoid realising his behaviour is selfish and nasty to others. (I mean, really, can I blame them? Who ever blogs an argument and paints themselves honestly in the wrong?)
The ones where all the commenting and and cliquey patronage reveal a desire to be more important and worthy than the blogger fears they actually are.
I know these people do want feedback, because they invite comments. Somehow I also know they don't want brutal feedback, or honest-but-unfriendly comments. They've laid bare what they like to think of as their soul on the screen - if a more realistic, warts and all portrait of themselves at the same time flows into the margins, well; they don't want you 'trolling' by pointing out that the emperor has no clothes, and his liposuction scars are getting ropey.
Jesus, I wouldn't want it.
It's an obvious truism that everyone feels a social pressure to maintain a facade - the man slitting his own throat even as he calls for help - but can I maintain a convincing facade? Would I even want to? And that's what today's rather badly written, badly thought out, crappy post is about. If I can see these other blogs and be fairly sure that their owners are lying through their happy-go-lucky teeth about who they are - then what unpalatable truths can people read here about me?
And the scariest thing is that I'm pretty sure I know what they read. They read the interior narrative of someone absolutely unutterably neverendingly fascinated with herself.

That's the bit that I find shameful. And that's the bit I don't like about my blog.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 6:48 PM GMT
Updated: Sunday, 14 March 2004 9:28 PM GMT
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Saturday, 13 March 2004

Homage


"Life stopped in the winter drizzle of Madrid yesterday. Offices, shops and cafes emptied, as funeral candles were lit in moving scenes of solidarity. Black bows of mourning appeared on shop windows, the cabs of commuter trains, and on lapels. People looking at the wreckage in Atocha burst into tears. As dusk fell, every street around the railway station was crammed with people standing in the rain. The silence was overpowering. [...] the Israeli mass circulation Yediot Ahronoth could not restrain itself: "Welcome to the real world", it declared unsubtly." ~ Editorial

"The outpouring of sympathy didn't wait for names: it was for somebody's son, somebody's daughter, somebody's wife or mother, husband or father. The very anonymity underlined the simplicity of this kind of human solidarity; it was enough that lives were lost. Whose lives they were will come later. It seemed so quintessentially Spanish; the country of the paseo, the promenade, has an instinctively social culture, and its faith in public solidarity has proved vibrant at the very point of most threat. Fear of more attacks could have forced the Spanish off the streets, could have scared them into their homes. Instead, with a remarkable defiance of the terrorists who deliberately targeted the crowded commuter trains, the crowds refused to be cowed.

"Cities have become our battlegrounds; where once they were places of safety to which countryfolk retreated in times of war, they are now where the war is conducted. After 3/11 every citizen of a western European city, of Paris, Rome, Berlin or London, nervously enters the packed tube, the busy commuter train or the high-rise office block. Fear could empty the city and cauterise the mass transit systems that are its lifeblood. One is haunted by an image of shut-down tube stations, of empty streets where weeds break up the Tarmac and everyone retreats home to their laptops, and we look back on the conviviality of the era before mass terrorism with nostalgic disbelief.

"What's at stake is a long history of the city, that exchange point for trade and ideas that has been the crux of all civilisations. The city orders how large numbers of human beings live in close proximity. In so doing, it civilises and turns strangers into citizens who belong to a civil society in which they treat each other with (more or less) civility. All these words have the same Latin root, civitas.

"What the demonstrations in Spain remind us is that civility - the measure of goodwill from one stranger to another - is ultimately what makes a city's spirit. It is the accumulation of tiny, daily interactions with bus conductors, fellow commuters, newspaper sellers and coffee-shop waitresses - the humour, the greetings, the gestures of help." ~ Comment


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This page graced by sarsparilla at 9:04 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 1 April 2004 7:37 AM GMT
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Friday, 12 March 2004

Somnambulent


Topic: Casino Avenue

I can't keep my eyes open. Literally, I find myself practically in a foetal position on Pink Nasty, blogging from a laptop leaned against one raised knee, as my nostrils beocome dry and parched, my breathing grows irregular, and somewhat rasping, and my eyes don't so much close as blink rapidly light beatingly sideways - flashing their new invisible alligator lids, for periods of around twenty ... um ... winks.
My chin sinks into my chest like an eighty year old, and jerks up alarmingly as if I were still sixteen, and this were still the first hot minute of the first slow dry faint of my life, still trapped in the sunny spot on that first ten hour bus journey home from a bone shatteringly lively hippy nudey festival.
Blink.
I'd arrived home from the cinema in a snowed over black cab at midnight, cold, romantically blustery, dark, with a cosy eiderdown awaiting me. So I've no idea what possessed me to stay up till three, then get up at five to go to work early.

In fact the utter redundancy of turning up at my Friday office to work at that ungodly, criminal hour was emphasised when I ran into an ex-client on the way in. She cast a shadowed bruised looking lid over me and said: 'I have personal issues at the moment. That's why I'm here early today, and why I've been staying so late. I'd rather be here than home right now. So what's your problem?'

It's a little embarrassing to just say 'procrastination' faced with a dramatic intro like that.

Every time I listen to my self breathe, or watch my chest rising and falling, I'm hypnotised again, and halfway there, into another realm where I don't have the slightest hope of control over things like lifting my neck, co-ordinating my fingers to type in sequence, plain old looking forward. Eyes closing ... blink. Blink blink.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 5:59 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 12 March 2004 6:03 PM GMT
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Thursday, 11 March 2004

Massacre


Mood:  incredulous

Everything I was going to say today was blown out of the water by news from Spain. I don't usually blog politics on here (I have other outlets for my rabid liberalism, slowly morphing with age into drooling toryness), but I can't square it with myself to blog some crap about toenails or salt, when one hundred and ninety people have been killed on their way to work for no bloody reason.

So instead of me wanking on about something pointless, I'm going to quote an email from Tris, about this outrage. Tristan, as well as being a generally all round great bloke, is part Spanish, and was replying to Looby's question: Al-Quaeda or ETA?

It's the Spanish general election this Sunday, with the horrible ruling conservative PP party currently just only about a percentage point ahead in the polls, as opposed to 6 or 7 percent last week.

I imagine therefore that it is ETA, although I don't think anyone's claimed responsibility yet.

As you may know, the Spanish government recently closed down the Basque language newspapers which was read by many Basque people, because ETA used it to announce stuff.

I know that occasionally the newspaper was a mouthpiece for ETA but this was because ETA came to them, they are reporters reporting the news, and the paper carried all sorts of news.

This decision outraged many people. It would be like the Irish government closing down "An phoeblacht/Republican News" or the Saudis closing down "Al Jazeera" because the IRA and Al-Qaeda, repectively, used it for announcing stuff. The Spanish government also outlawed Herri Batasuna, the alleged political wing of ETA (which, to make analogies, would be as outrageous as the British government outlawing Sinn Fein) and closed down their offices, nicked their computers, etc.

This outraged people as it smacked of the old Franco days when people were not even allowed to speak non-Spanish languages in Spain, let alone have newspapers written in it.

The bomb attacks, if they are ETA, are very very stupid and horrible, set off by lamebrains. If it is ETA then, this may be a backlash of the recent right-wing PP attacks on their freedom. But to do these attacks three days before a General Election, with the conservatives looking like they may lose power (a couple of polls even had the socialists slightly ahead!) then this is surely one of the most classic cases of Schadenfreude or however the feck it's spelt.

This will push the vote back towards the hardline PP. Had PSOE got in, I dare say that they would have not been as anti-Basque. Idiots.

That is, of course, if it IS ETA. The government is saying it's ETA. Which is of course what the government would like the Spanish to think.

If it is Al-Qaeda, and if the Spanish government know it is and are saying it's ETA (hey I'm a wannabe screenwriter I'm allowed to think laterally) then this would be a major scandal. As an Al-Qaeda attack like this would mean that PP would almost definitely lose the election, as 91% of Spaniards were against the Iraq war in the first place. They believe that the Spanish government have made Spain more vulnerable by sticking their noses in where we're not needed, and by supporting a phoney war against a country that was no threat to us.

I dare say that until it's confirmed it's ETA, we won't know. And if it's the government confirming it's ETA, well.....!


This page graced by sarsparilla at 6:20 PM GMT
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Oopsy


Topic: Creepy Lesbo
Umm, sorry. I missed a day. I was working (for variety) and mostly sleeping too much.

Is it wrong to wake up at one in the morning and make yourself pancakes?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:33 AM GMT
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Tuesday, 9 March 2004

Bored Now


Topic: Looby

Think I have to go into work tomorrow, whether I'm well or not, just to halt the rot of immobility that a week of staying indoors sick infects you with.

Wish the damn cat was immobile. This week, the cat has entertained me by:
1. Leaping on top of the wardrobe to destroy it. Successfully.
2. Jumping out of the window and running away.
3. Watching me scale the nearby six foot fence to look for it, when actually, it's behind me.
4. Getting lost on a ground floor windowsill and forgetting how to jump down.
5. Spending its three am time by hooking a paw into the wardrobe door, and pulling all my clothes out forcibly through the crack.
6. Jumping into the full bath.
7. Climbing inside the wardrobe, and then using claws alone to attempt a vertical scaling challenge up the face of a silk shirt.
8. Once grooming the bath water from legs is done, jumping into a full bath again. And standing in it, meowing at the plug chain.
9. Jumping into a full bath a third time. This joke can never get old, right?
10. The proper way to dry off is to curl up and sleep in a human's lap.

I need external stimulus that isn't cat related.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 5:38 PM GMT
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Monday, 8 March 2004

Scenery


Topic: Belle de Jour

I'm not done with thinking about the issues raised in a previous post - the one that tried to explain why the dyke scene scares me. It's going to temporarily make the blog look a bit like a messageboard if I do this, and I'm sorry, but the guys who commented on that post got me wondering about several things, and I want your responses. (Gay or straight, if it needs saying.)

Why does what we 'identify' as have such an impact on the kinds of spaces we make available on the scene? Isn't 'gay' a broad enough genus to allow for some individualism?

Cyn
The straight dating scene sucks, but lesbian hook-ups sound almost unbearable.
It seems from what you describe, many (most?) lesbians identify themselves first as lesbians; you seem to i.d. yourself first as Vanessa and secondarly as a lesbian woman, putting you out of synch with the other women.
For the life of me I can't think of any good suggestions--probably best as I know bugger all about dating (either sex) or shagging a woman.
Do any of the gay clubs have tea parties?

Vanessa
At one point, someone in London set up a wine bar for 'professional lesbians' who disliked the meat market feel of the scene. I, Tybalt and Toulouse went along, to see who was there in its second opening week. It was very white, tiled, green ferns and piano (very Ritz). As Toulouse later said, it reminded you of a seventies film about the twenties, somehow.
Needless to say it folded as soon as their money ran out. The next lesbian club to set itself up was Candy Bar, which marketed itself as lapdancing for dykes.
Sigh.

And why the clothing rules? What's wrong with long hair, with skirts or heels? Okay, so it's covertly enforced, but you try getting a snog if you don't fit the mould in these places. What's so threatening about looking different?

lemonpillows

I soooooo know where you're coming from. Was just talking about this today with a friend. The whole thing about not being able to go out and stay sober because of the sheer amount of hassle you get - it's easier to stay in.

That said though, I *forced* myself to go out, even though I had plenty of excuses and no motivation for it. I'm starting to get used to it now. It still stinks, but I suppose it's better than nothing, and I've actually enjoyed myself a few times.. Try forcing yourself out one time.. See if you end up enjoying yourself.. You never know...

Vanessa
I always enjoy myself - I'm not shy once I'm out. It's the ordeal of working yourself up to it and wondering if it's worth it, I think.
I think.

Lemonpillows
True, true.. Finding something to wear is just so traumatic nowadays. Has all sorts of connotations - especially if you're going somewhere 'gay'. It's like the hanky rule. Whether you wear a t-shirt and jeans/shirt/blouse/trousers/skirt.

Do we even know what kind of a scene we actually want, anyway?

lemonpillows
I dream of a 'gay' place (preferrably lesbian, actually) that sells *decent* tea and coffee.. Where you can lunch, chat, smoke in a special smoking area, but be unaffected if you sit in the no-smoking section. With relaxing but very very good music. Free newspapers to read and comfy sofas to sit on.. And stays open as long as the pubs do.. And where everyone dresses how they damn-well like.
*sigh*
I maybe be waiting a long time...

Vanessa
Well, that's what First Out was always like, in my experience, but you'd have to move to London. I dunno, maybe I'll crack open a copy of The Killing of Sister George and make believe I'm in the Gateways...

Sarah
oh! First Out! That's where my london friend always takes me when we don't feel stylish enough to face the Candy Bar! I loved that place. Has it shut now or something?
even in Edinburgh, other lesbians never *really* liked me. I think I scared them, or they scared me, and I much preferred sitting with the gay men anyway. I'd rather have gay friends than friends who are only friends because they're gay. You have to say: if this situation/us/this place was straight, would I be here?

Vanessa
That's a really good way of putting it.
I think First Out is still open, but the website seems to hint it's being redecorated. I'm up for the #1 shorts next weekend, anyway...

Creepy Lesbo
No, First Out is open and fine. Not redecorated last time I went. I'm probably not the person to be posting this after my last post but yes, I know the pressure to drink. I also know the consequences. There's a culture, especially if you're northern, to drink as a lesbian, but I think any lesbian feels it. And not just to drink, but to drink hard. It's Loaded culture for lesbians. Beer, women, fags, fighting, football... Sums it up pretty well. Alternatives? We need another geeky TV show with lesbian icons in really so we can organise video evenings. There are coffee mornings held around Greenwich for lesbian couples. But that's couples. I've seen people try to set up alternatives but they just don;t seem to work. Lesbians pretend they are interested but it's back down to the 'we want a shag and we want to go for a beer' basics on most people's part, even if one or two are there legitimately.

Vanessa
You ever been to Southopia, Creepy? This gorgeous opera singer wanted me to go there on Sundays last year, because of needing to protect her voice, she stayed away from places that were smokey and didn't drink. She said it was a kind of 'older' feel to it, that brunch on Sundays was all about kicking back and playing board games. The way she described it sounded nice, but Kennington seemed too far away at the time, and I never went to it.
I quite liked the Glass bar, too, although I haven't been there for about three years - but it could sometimes seem cliquey as ever, and sometimes a bit too 'old'.
I've never heard of Greenwich coffee mornings. I used to be sure that having a dog would be a way to meet dykes, but I can't stand the stinky beasts.
You're right, it's not about wanting a shag, it's about wanting a social circle that isn't exclusively couples or exclusively straight. I suppose it doesn't even need to be gay if it weren't for that awful feeling that straight women my age would drop everything they ever knew in a second if the offer of babies came up.

Sarah
I know I could put "Getting drunk and having meaningless sex" as a hobby, but I'm thoroughly sick of having no other way to meet gay women. It'd be nice to have somewhere a lot more chilled than a nightclub, a lot less markety and more with the having a sober conversation thing. I'd like somewhere I could go with Ellie (my straight mate) as she says she wouldn't object to going to "gay" places with me, just not the nightclubs. I'm trying to get round to going to one of the Uni's gay nights with her..
Now, a quiet gay bar, something like First Out would be really good up here - Newcastle's gay scene is very loud, very young, and very mixed. The last quiet bar where I felt happy sitting talking to the barstaff and friendly strangers closed down about two years ago - now it's all loud style bars and drinks promos and house.
Mind, the pubs I go to with my friends are quite often lesbo-tastic; they market themselves quietly as "gay friendly" and attract an alt crowd anyway. If I put a little bit of effort and confidence into myself, I could start a conversation with a lass in The Head Of Steam. The place does Women's Poetry Nights, f'fucks sake.
Course, the scene in Newcastle is a million miles from that of London.

Is it that different from any straight singles scene? Why - this is years down the line - why isn't there any more choice?

e
Being of a slightly homebound disposition myself, I can understand what you,re talking. If I had had to face the clasic singles scene in order to find a mate, I can guarantee that I would still be unmarried, at home, talking to the canary and knitting socks by now. Singles scenes are like a meat market whichever persuasion you are. Being lesbian surely doesn't make you want to go and flaunt your stuff any more than being straight does- which is where I have a few problems with the term "gay scene"- I mean how does being gay make you any more like the next gay person, and likely to get on with them, than being, say, a teetotaller or a Freemason. Are people really so defined by their sexuality? I suppose hanging about in a gay scene of some ilk means that you know you are meeting people in non-threatening, accepting, congenial surroundings. Although meat markets carry their own threats, which you have to be feeling self-confident enough to ride.
I know that some people do meet their life partners in singles' places, but there are plenty of other ways to meet people, thankfully for me.

Vanessa
Your comment made me think about what the gay scene is really there for, e.
I think the experience of growing up always being the outsider, always feeling that you can't tell the truth because your friends will do more than reject you, they'll incite people to beat you, and the cultural legitimising of hatred of gays (which existed when I grew up, and still exists, no matter how many independent readers hope that it doesn't) has more more direct influence on the gay scene than any function of finding mates.
See, I have a theory about the scene. If, like me, got picked on at seven different schools for being gay, you couldn't really help grow up feeling like there's something wrong with you. People go on the scene to relive a part of their adolescence that was denied them; the part where you 'belong' to a group, and have a strong common group identity.
Kind of: 'Hey, I'm not a loner! I have *all these friends who look like me*'.
Most gay people I know seem to have gone through a phase where they embrace the scene, then the community, and then slowly move away from it as they develop confidence in their own individualism. It seems to be a standard stage.
The thing about finding a partner on the scene - that's not the purpose of it, that's merely convenience - there aren't so many homos in the world, so your chances are raised in areas of high concentration where there's less at stake in being visibly gay. I don't think finding someone is the *purpose* of the scene, it's a side effect. The purpose is to allow you the adolescence the straight world denied you. Therefore, it's always, inevitably going to depend on cliques, uniforms, conformism. Because those are the forces that shape your teen years.
So given that the scene is never going to be a safe place for individualism. Given that numbers mean there aren't plenty of other ways to meet people, you're left with what?
The secret smurf societies, I fear.
Anyway, that's my two cents.

Opinions solicited. Seriously.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:57 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 8 March 2004 9:18 PM GMT
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Sunday, 7 March 2004

Sonar


Topic: Vic Jameson

It's okay, I've cheered up now and stopped ranting. I'm very very very busy procrastinating today. So I've read just about every blog on the sidebar.

Which leads me to a bit of an advert for audio-blogs.
If you've never heard me ooohing and ahhhing the comments about Kat's voice, you should listen to this. I love listening to blogger's voices - somehow it makes them seem farther away to be smacked in the face with their foreign accents.

And criminy, do they sound foreign. You forget how the internet disguises and homogenises our differences. And how the blogs you read are written by real, cute, complex, demanding people.

I mean, who knew Bitter Little Man would talk like he writes? Or that Fridge Magnet sounds quite normal, really, despite the predilection for penguins? Or that Ryan's voice is as cute as his photos?
The Hard Artist's audio posts are legendary in my single occupancy basement flat in Penge. Mind you, if you want a sheer testosterone injection, no-one can beat the Grand Ennui. He sounds like I imagine Jack Nicholson kisses. Or Beaker. One of those guys. But enough about my strange predilection for mature men.

Sigh. I love audio posts. I have to make do with my imagination for all the northern lesbian bloggers out there, although I have spoken to lemonpillows by phone (conversation ran along the lines of: "tee hee, you have an accent, tee hee hee", but I blame the champagne.)
As per usual, I've fantasised wildly about what Eurotrash and SarahSpace's accents are like. If I had decent blog software, I could do one. As it is, if you have a broadband connection, because it's huge, you'll be forced to make do with a crappy video of me wandering round the house talking to myself.
I sound dead common, me. Like a fishwife. Nothing like a Sarf East Lahndaner. Honest.

God, what a ramble this post turned into. I apologise for the dreadful quality of posts over the last week while I've been procrastinating wildly.
Here, have some quality. Here's a line that made me think found on Alyssa's site:

Epicurus posed this question of religion two thousand years ago: If God is willing to prevent evil but cannot, he is not omnipotent. If able but not willing, he is malevolent. If neither able nor willing to prevent evil "then why call him God?"

This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:19 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 8 March 2004 6:41 AM GMT
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Saturday, 6 March 2004

My Name Is Vanessa and I am a Literary Snob


Topic: Shy Lux
I never do memes. Why don't I ever do memes? When I need a space filler, I just write the same old crap as ever about how I'm cold and my weekend was tedious.

So here's a three month old meme: The Big Damn Read, which I already blogged about loathing. Ones in bold are the ones I've read, okay? I suspect the ones not in bold will be more telling, anyway:

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Suskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
103. The Beach, Alex Garland
104. Dracula, Bram Stoker
105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13?, Sue Townsend
113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
114. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
119. Shogun, James Clavell
120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
129. Possession, A. S. Byatt
130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
131. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
134. George's Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
144. It, Stephen King
145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
146. The Green Mile, Stephen King
147. Papillon, Henri Charriere
148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
149. Master And Commander, Patrick O'Brian
150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz
151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
154. Atonement, Ian McEwan
155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
157. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling
160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
162. River God, Wilbur Smith
163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
165. The World According To Garp, John Irving
166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
169. The Witches, Roald Dahl
170. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White
171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
175. Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder
176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
177. Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl
178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
179. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
184. Silas Marner, George Eliot
185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Grossmith
187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
189. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. Lawrence
191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White
199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews


My god, that was every bit as depressing as I thought it would be. You see how many were children's books? Number 188 isn't even a book, it's a children's publishing category.

What's wrong with a country to need 140 of its top 200 books to be children's books? If you took the GCSE and A level syllabus books off of there, you'd be left with what? Crap and big name movie adaptations.

There are four books that I love mentioned on that list, and I have a strong feeling of wanting to grab them, wrench them from the claws of these morons (who would read a whole series of John Irving, for goodness sake?), and save them from the ignominy of inclusion on this horrible horrible horrible list.

I feel tainted that I did this.

I need a quotation from Curtis White to cleanse myself of the horror of contamination:

"The Middle Mind is the dominant force shaping our culture today. Seeping into politics, literature and art, it's all about pre-packaged, easily digestible media that requires no thought. And it's creating an increasing inability to properly consider the development of our society, or to initiate change. ... It's about the music we listen to, the films we watch and the books we read, from Jonathan Franzen and Oprah Winfrey to Harry Potter and The Hours."

All of whom serve as horrific warnings of the dumb commodification of art in my mind. The groaning infected whine of a cultural consciousness stymied and dulled by the atrophied thought that pseudo bollocks such as Lost in Goddamn Translation had something - anything - intelligent to say. The last 'taps' played over the death of our collective soul.

I guess that's why I don't do memes, then.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:28 AM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 6 March 2004 4:46 AM GMT
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Friday, 5 March 2004

Blue Paint and Prejudice


Mood:  accident prone
Now Playing: Nutt: 'dirty Edmonton Whore'

Topic: Belle de Jour
So, it turns out that I'm scared of dykes, see?
When I packed in drinking, I was worried about the effect on my social life, on whether I felt up to the challenge of entertaining people without a chemical prop. It hasn't been that difficult. But the gay scene? Nahhhhh. No way. No way have I ever seen the gay scene work without drink or drugs.
Ever
.
So, I kind of decided I'd wait a month or two, find my feet as a non-drinker, get through the hurdle of Christmas without passing out beneath the family tree doing sherry farts. Then I'd try socialising in safer, not so alky crowds, right?
You know, where there's some focus other than getting off your tits and trying to grab a snog with absolutely anyone around, no matter how repellent.
You know, the general tone of any night out on the gay scene.

But there are all my prejudices about gay culture to address before I can work up the guts to get out there. I have to deal with my snobbery, and balance it against my tedium.
Most gay culture, I could take or leave it. Well to be precise, I could leave it. Tybalt says I'd be a classic homophobe but for the accident of genetics that made me actually gay myself. I really couldn't care less about butching up, coking up, hanging around with short fat women in dirty bars because the lesbian pound can't afford to run any decent dives, or inflicting horrific injuries on myself on Stoke Newington footie pitches every Sunday just because all those baby dykes grew up isolated or bullied without a sense of community or shared purpose. There are far more differences of class, education, lifestyle, preoccupations and - well, enthusiasm between me and most gay women I meet than any accident of gender programming that says 'hey, we're both gay!' will resolve.
I mean, I'm not boring, I'm not going to go to gay theatre, throw myself into relentless pursuit of Martina, or stand around at dyke detective novel book signings, credit me with some taste. I've tried going to the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, but frankly, I've never gotten beyond martinis at the lobby bar to actually see a film.
And all those groundbreakingly gay artistic endeavours? 'Shopping and Fucking', 'Beautiful Thing', 'Bound', 'But I'm a Cheerleader'? Well, they were shit. Just because they're gay I'm supposed to not know they were shit? Suddenly? Fuck that.

But then there's the realisation that my safe, supercilious disrespect of anything gay isn't actually helping. Truth be told, is a pretty obvious safety catch.
So, fine line to tread. Between my snobbery and my fear, and the rocket under my arse that I unfortunately know it usually takes to change ingrained things.
I did make the right noises. Come NYE, I committed myself to some arrangements, with dykes I knew vaguely, or in some cases barely at all. First I agreed to sign up for a lesbian book club, thinking: it's in a quieter bar, one of the few that I like, I know the owner, and feel comfortable there - and okay, something for me to focus on, I can use my brains to deflect them from noticing that I'm not drunk. Only problem is remembering not to talk too much.
(Hey, it so turns out that I'm the world's only book club stalker - I infiltrate and go undercover to every book club within a ten mile radius - I'll do anything it takes to find out what book you're reading, but I'll never attend your damn saddo craptacular loser book club, right? Reading, fine. What, socialising? Nyeh.)
Dyke nights out I have turned down so far this year: the lesbian book club - twice. The house party. The evening touring east end bars. The charity wine tasting. The thai meal. The country walk.

I had an excuse for all of them, you know.
The east end bars - well it just exploded, and then everyone invited friends of friends of friends, and then there were fifty lesbians coming, and I only knew one of them, Toto, and not that well at that, and I wound her up by drunkenly texting her at four in the morning when I was upset about Tybalt once, even though, damn, she's not well, she's got way worse problems than anything I can whinge about. So that was a real reason not to turn up, and anyway, Toto didn't even notice I didn't show.
The dyke house party - this cool journalist woman I had dinner with last summer invited me, forgot she had, found the blog, mailed me and invited me again - why didn't I go to that? Well, god, I fancied the hostess, Taj, and she was the hostess, right, she woulda been busy. So that woulda meant I knew, um, let me see, nobody else there. Nah. Another no show.
The lesbian book club: well I missed three of those, but at least my old book club stalking form meant I read the books. It was just when I decided to move out - calendar left in the old place, with the computer, with the dates on, busy trying to build a bed in the new place and so on. Clean forgot.
Then two weeks ago, an old old friend, Minsk, emailed me out of the blue. Invited me to a charity lesbian wine tasting.
Why does that sound so filthy dirty? A lesbian wine tasting?
I'd know Minsk, whom I haven't seen in maybe three years, I'd know her girlfriend, Jude, the people there would be nice, normal ... there's a high incidence of mental disturbance amongst lezzers, you've no idea how weird these things can get.
And then I was tired, I had no money, certainly not enough money to pay for wine I wouldn't drink, then the charity donation after that, and it was in North London, on a week night, and ... and ... I didn't go.
Oh yeah, there's plenty of excuses.

The country walk is on the day I'm s'posed to sort out solicitor's stuff with Tybalt. The thai meal is the day after my replacement bank cards have failed to come through, so there's no cash to get there, or to pay for the meal, and if I didn't pull out with twenty four hours to spare, the organiser would be out by twenty knicker, and besides the only woman I would have known there, the one I fancied, the one I went to the opera with, she's got herself a girlfriend, and then she decided not to come anyway, and then it exploded as usual, and forty people were suddenly going ... and ... if I didn't ... if I .... if .... if ...

You know, though, anyway, what the fuck? I never met any decent mates on the scene.
So what do I do? All the dykes I know are in couples. Last weekend I felt shit and I felt cold, and I made up for it by buying some blue paint, and some blue bath oil and some blue explosive stuff, turned myself into a gigantic smurf and sitting in a lukewarm tub of Malice's Blue Pee while it snapped, crackled and popped. (Yes, there are photographs. No, you can't see them. This site gets enough damn hits for Va..ne..sa Bl..ue as it is.)
What do I do with the next forty years of my life if I'm too nervous to go out on the scene? Do I paint myself blue every weekend? Out of boredom?
Do I join some perverse online blue-painting sub sect of gay smurf fantasists that hold meetings? Where I won't fit in because I don't know many people, and I don't drink, and I feel uncomfortable with the blue-paint drug use? Pffft.
When did I become scared of dykes? Come to that: when did I become scared?

You know, I've been trying to think of an English equivalent of a particular Americanism today. Suck it up. I don't think there is one.


This page graced by sarsparilla at 1:46 AM GMT
Updated: Friday, 5 March 2004 11:24 PM GMT
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Thursday, 4 March 2004

Topic: LondonLifer


This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:05 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 4 March 2004 5:43 PM GMT
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