Lost in London

A look at London and life in general through the eyes of someone who sometimes can't bear to watch.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Final destination

What better way to round off the blog than one of those pointless memes that pretend to be probing and revelatory but in fact uncover precious little about you other than you like 'red' or something equally inane? Ah well, come on, what did you expect? Something deep and meaningful to close off the last five years? Don't be silly. I told you my last post would be an anti-climax.

If I were a month, I’d be December. Cold mostly, but with exciting times to come.
If I were a day of the week, I’d be Tuesday. I was born on a Tuesday. Tueday's child is full of grace, apparently. I would go along with that. My mother may not.
If I were a time of day, I’d be 6.15pm. I was born at this time. It's a good time of day, too. Work is over and the evening stretches ahead of you.
If I were a planet, I’d be Mercury. Small, just that little bit too close to the Sun.
If I were a sea animal, I’d be a seahorse. Well, I didn't want to be cliché-tastic and say 'dolphin' or 'fish'. Seahorse. Yeah, why not?

If I were a direction, I’d be west. Life is peaceful there.
If I were a piece of furniture, I'd be a footstool. I can be comforting. And reliable. And a walkover.
If I were a liquid, I’d be Plymouth gin. Not quite the same as all the other gins. And depressive. Haha.
If I were a gemstone, I’d be one of those glass beads on QVC. Why? Because I'm not remotely precious, in any sense of the word.
If I were a tree, I’d be a sycamore. Because I like the way it is spelled.

If I were a tool, I’d be George Lamb (ho ho ho). I mean, what are you supposed to say here? Hammer? Drill? Circular saw? I don't know any other tools. DIY to me is something entirely different and involves broadband and a darkened room.
If I were a flower, I’d be a violet. Because it's just one 'n' away from being aggro.
If I were a kind of weather, I’d be drizzle. You know that type that gets you wet-through? And is persistent? Yeah, that's me.
If I were a musical instrument, I’d be a harpsichord. Ancient, yet tuneful.
If I were a colour, I’d be purple. The colour my face turns in a rage.

If I were an emotion, I’d be worry. I'm an overthinker. What can I say?
If I were a fruit, I’d be a raspberry. Not only tasty, but can be used to insult someone.
If I were a sound, I’d be the entirety of Into The Groove. Only when I'm dancing can I feel this free.
If I were an element, I’d be iron. According to Wikipedia: 'a lustrous metallic with a greyish tinge'. Yeah that sounds about right.
If I were a car, I’d be a Nissan Micra or something equally nondescript. I don't 'do' or particularly 'get' cars.

If I were a food, I’d be a risotto. Looks healthy on the service but packed with all the bad, tasty stuff.
If I were a place, I’d be a market town that's seen better days.
If I were a material, I’d be cotton. I really couldn't bring myself to be a man-made fibre. Nothing good ever comes of them.
If I were a taste, I’d be bitter.
If I were a scent, I'd be, er, smelly?

Thank you to those who have read the blog over the years. It is not 'the end'; I am using the excuse of a new broom to hotfoot it over to WordPress and start anew with a fresh outlook.

It has been a pleasure.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Most days my life just plods on and on, with little to report; the personification of a cosy local newspaper, reporting on lost dogs and garden fetes. Very occasionally, it can be exhilarating, with moments of madness and fun and laughter. And sometimes everything I touch turns to dust. Kingdoms fall, lives are ruined, spines cracked and stiff upper lips liquified as yet again I manage to turn from quiet observer to king destroyer. For a short time last month, it felt like the end of days: as if there were no possible way out. No light at the end of the tunnel, no calm following the storm, no peace.

There is, however, almost always a light at the end of the tunnel, and this case was no exception. And so it is after a tumultuous couple of months I find myself no longer as I was. I'm now living in my own flat and I'm single, staring back at the end of an eight-year relationship.

I won't write too much about the break-up itself as this is a blog, not a diary hidden underneath my bed, but it has been amicable and, at the same time, extremely sad. My former other half was truly that — the other half of me. We did practically everything together, had the same group of friends and got on better than any other relationship I have had. That he is no longer in the same space as me 24/7 will be hard to get used to. Although we have moved to the same area and will probably see a lot of each other, it will be different. We won't be together. It was an end that is right and true, but that is scant consolation for either of us.

Looking for a flat has never been a favourite pastime of mine. Letting agents and landlords alike tend to stress me out and there's nothing quite so soul-destroying as being shown yet another ghettoised shithole and being assured that this is all that is available in your price range. Househunting is an endurance test like no other. Obstacles fling themselves in front of you and days alternately last for ever and whizz by, clocks ticking and counting down the time when you will have to box up your life and throw it in the back of a van. Sorting through your crap is in turns cathartic and devastating. Every till receipt, coffee cup and tea towel transforms from an everyday object into something that, at some point, had great significance. This receipt is from the time I was overcharged and didn't want to cause a fuss; that coffee cup is the one he bought me that day when… and so it continues.

It's not just my dog-eared books and kitchen utensils that I'm sorting through and leaving behind. Looking back over the blog is like reading a childish manuscript and it's probably time to wrap things up. I'm not who I was. I'm neither lost, nor a boy, and while I am still in London, seeing it through single eyes is certainly going to change things.

And so this is my penultimate post on this blog. My swansong — which I am determined will be a HUGE anti-climax, just like everything else in life — is to follow shortly.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Me against the music

I have had an MP3 player of some description for the last six years. I've been through about 3 iPods and am currently on an iPhone. Some of my songs have been on my iPod so long that I only have to hear the first millisecond before I know what it is. Whereas pre-MP3 I wouldn't have dreamed carrying around a 'Discman' or its tape-playing equivalent, the iPod and its fellow MP3 family members have made music accessible and instant and, unfortunately, easier to get sick to death of.

When I was a child, which wasn't that long ago (er, really? - Ed) unless you had a record player you didn't really get to hear the tunes you wanted. Listening to your favourites was restricted to half an hour of Top of the Pops and then snatches of the radio. Radio 1 was a dreadful old MOR bore for most of the early '80s and commercial radio had too many ads. Nevertheless, I could be found once or twice a week with my finger hovering expectantly over the record button, ready to tape Kylie's latest opus or a selection of T'Pau's back catalogue.

Now, of course, there are 17,045 (or something) radio stations and once a punter hears a song they might like, they have to do little more than head to YouTube to stream it, or go on countless music blogs to download it illegally or, if they're a bit boring, go on to music streaming sites like Spotify and hear the song over and over and over again. And they don't even have to rewind the tape, desperately trying to stop it at the right place to avoid hearing Bruno Brookes and his hilarious anecdotes which you'd accidentally recorded. Even children with no internet access can find music via their mobiles, whether it's downloaded or bluetoothed to them by a light-fingered friend.

Much like Heat and Closer and their stablemates giving us access all areas to celebrities has downgraded the value of being famous, so too has the ease of which music can be obtained make it less important. For many in their teens and early twenties, paying for all your music is an alien concept. While iTunes has revolutionised paid music downloads, it's still de rigueur for a large number of music lovers to seek out their favourites for free first. Now that you can get your hands on a track as soon as you've heard it, true 'event' singles and albums are a thing of the past. Who now would queue round the block for Oasis's Be Here Now? Nobody. They'll have all downloaded it from a filesharing site two weeks ago and heard for themselves how dreadful it was, at no cost to themselves save for their bleeding ears.

Attention spans are shrinking to such a degree that a song which would usually be played to death for a good couple of months is old hat after three weeks or so, thanks to permanent rotation on music channels and the repeat button on an iPod. As a result, the majority of my music library has now overstepped the mark and wandered from familiarity into contempt. Songs that were previously milk chocolate to my ears are now stale spotted dick and cold custard.

I love my MP3 player, and I love the fact I can listen to what I want, when I want. But I do desperately miss the feeling you get when you *finally* get to hear your favourite song on the radio. That and the excitement you get as, trembling in case you miss the intro, you gingerly press down the record button on your tape player so that the song is yours to keep for ever. Or at least until you get bored. Or your tape gets chewed. Stupid fucking tapes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Daddy uncool

I was absolutely horrified to read this article in The Times the other day. I don't have any problem with anyone who decides to 'change' their sexuality (if such a thing is even possible), but I don't really like the way that the newly-straight Patrick Muirhead is so quick to deride his one-time gay comrades. Now that Patrick has decided that he's into women, civil partnerships are "are little more than theatrical shams involving men making a point in matching wedding cravats, of embarrassed grandparents and monstrously camp multi-tier cakes" and he winces when "gays describe boyfriends as 'husbands', subverting a solemn institution created to provide stability for child-rearing". It seems that as well as a new-found predilection for vaginas, Mr Muirhead has acquired a new line in bigotry and thinly-veiled homophobia.

The catalyst for Patrick's switcheroo was a touching moment between a father and son in a barber's shop. Right then, he decided that he simply *must* have a child of his own, so that someone would love him unconditionally. Perhaps if he were a nicer person in real life, people would love him. But no, as if selecting a Gucci handbag, Mr Muirhead decided he needed a child. Not for him the long fought for gay adoption rights or artificial insemination which he describes as a "snook to the system of nature"; despite the fact there are millions of unwanted children in the world, Patrick is adamant that he should procreate, and it doesn't seem to matter who it's with.

He has been flirting with a woman in his local pub. No doubt she will be flattered to have been selected for impregnation by a former gay who has now decided at the drop of a hat to have a child. What about meeting someone and falling in love and letting nature takes its course? It's not gay parents defying nature, Patrick. It's you. There's nothing natural about the way you think that being homosexual is abnormal, simply because the majority don't practise it.

Patrick's attitude is coming across a bit like someone who's just given up smoking or split up with their lover. While you were puffing away on your cigarettes, polluting the air of everyone in the vicinity, smoking was the best thing ever and you don't care what people think. Once you've stubbed out your last fag, they suddenly become the work of the Devil, eliciting disgust and sanctimonious bleating to the smokers who still like to cram a B&H into their laughing gear. Now that Patrick has 'dumped' his erstwhile sexuality, it repels him. He no longer understands it. he fears it. He thinks it is wrong, especially now that he doesn't do it any more. What a guy.

Good luck to you with your new arrangement. Just don't kid yourself that life is going to be any more fulfilling because you've taken the 'normal' route.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I'm over '09

2009 was the worst year of my life. I have no doubt about it. As a superlative, worst/ best X of one's life is over-used, especially by Simon Cowell on The X Factor when speaking about a very average audition. I'm not sure anyone who says that something was the worst experience of their life ever really means it. But I do. Here are nine things about 2009 that have been on my radar.

Katie and Peter

What was a thoroughly depressing and hideous partnership has now been transformed into a tiresome, excruciating break-up. Thanks to that, we've had to endure more Katie Price on TV, Peter André singing, the creation of Alex Reid, the takeover of ITV2 by afore-mentioned dunderheads. These are the last words I'll ever write about them. I hope other writers follow my lead.

Fearne meets...

Fearne Cotton is a multimedia migraine. Her radio show is shit, her adverts are shit, her various TV shows are, invariably, shit. It's not personal, but as a broadcaster she horrifies me. Everything is 'amazing'; her interview technique consists of scratching her head and going 'sooooooo...'; her voice makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and not in a good way. The pinnacle of her TV career has to be her ITV2 show (fucking ITV2 again!) where she 'met' 'celebrities'. The edition with Peaches Geldof was like watching two insane badgers eat, then regurgitate and then re-eat their own faeces. I use the word sparingly, but Peaches Geldof is undoubtedly one hell of a dumb cunt.

Losing my job

I was made redundant in April. I'd been at ITV for two years and thought it wouldn't be too hard to get another job. I thought wrong. I'm freelancing now, but summer was not a great time, except for the fact that I was as brown as a berry thanks to loafing around all day.

Being mad

Thanks to the above, I then went nut-nut and was diagnosed with clinical depression. Amazing, as Fearne Cotton would say. I am now on these bonkers drugs that make me not care about anything, which isn't as perfect as it sounds. I am 'OK' now but I do miss my old mind; we used to be so close.

MP expenses furore
The actual scandal didn't annoy me, it was the way it was reported as if it were an EastEnders plotline. I got very bored by it extremely quickly. Along with the bankers' bonus bollocks and people starting to like David Cameron, this really was the news nightmare of the year.

I'm thirty-four now. How the hell did that happen? To 'celebrate', my body decided to give me four coldsores for the big day. I am singlehandedly keeping Compeed (purveyors of coldsore patches) afloat.

I flew on planes FOUR times this year. That is quite an achievement for me. As for carbon footprint concerns, I didn't fly for a decade so I think I'm in credit there. Things I learned from flying: EasyJet sells raffle tickets; Air Malta food is nice; fat people like to sit next to me; passengers seem to save their smelliest shits for being airborne; I hate children.

Long hot summer

It was hot, it was long, it was summer. Before I went mad, I ran every day for miles and miles, sweating and panting like an overweight rapist. It was brilliant.


The Edinburgh Festival was brilliant this year. I drank enough pear cider to sink a battleship and saw some great acts.

2009, it's been emotional, but I am elated to see you finally fuck the hell off.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Leave your hat on

The weather has been teasing us lately, in London at least. By rights it should be absolutely freezing but on stepping outside, it's become necessary to disrobe in the middle of the street, shedding layers of hoodie, scarf and jumper and thrusting them into my ever-bulging manbag. It won't last for ever of course, and when the cold really sets in, it's time to think about hats.

Hats and I have always had a very odd relationship. When I was a child I had a grey corduroy flat cap but growing up in a part of the country where wearing anything that didn't come from BHS was seen as outré, I was relentlessly mocked by my 'peers'. Reader, I cared not a jot outwardly, but inside I knew that hats are bound to get a reaction one way or another, so best to avoid them if you're not feeling up to defending your sartorial choices.

The biggest decision you have to make when thinking about shoving a hat on your bonce is whether you are willing to sacrifice having a hairstyle for the sake of style and/ or warmth (does anyone actually care about warmth over style? Surely not). Sadly, in the majority of cases, hat hair does not a good look make. There comes then the quandary: do you get a hairdo that won't look like a birds' nest every time you take your hat off, or do you brave the elements and miss out on an amazing accessory because you simply can't part with your Jedward mega-quiff?

For the last two years, I've had to go hat-free, as my barnet has got in the way. Long before those impish Irish twins were murdering pop classics on TV every week, I too had something of a quiff, held in place by ozone-hostile hairspray, industrial strength gel, wires, scaffolding- I'm sure you get the picture. Endless backcombing, primping and product application went into producing that hairstyle, and I was darned if I was going to see it crushed like Jedward's X Factor ambitions just for the sake of a tatty old titfer.

This year, however, my statuesque hairdon't has gone and has been replaced by a much more hat-loving style. I can neither confirm nor deny that this is due to short hair making one look younger, but I digress. I had a train driver style cap a few years ago when I had neck-length hair, and they're great, but when you've got short hair, those hats make your head look like a little pea rolling around your shoulders.

The answer then is the trusty flat cap. While I'm unlikely to ever recreate the amazingness of my childhood grey corduroy number, I'm looking forward to planting one firmly on my head and then, of course, whipping it off in full confidence that I don't look like I've stuck my fingers in a plug socket. Hats off to winter, indeed.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It's a Royal knockout

For possibly the first time ever, I feel a little sorry for the Queen at the moment. Usually she's quite dour of face and looks like she wouldn't be a great deal of fun, but I suppose if the world and his wife is intent on documenting your every move, past and present, before you're even dead, then you probably wouldn't have much reason to smile.

Channel 4 is currently running a series of 'docudramas' (cringe) about Her Maj, interspersing a load of people who aren't really pretty enough for telly waffling on about things that have happened with highly-fictionalised scenes from the Queen's life played by actors.

It's an odd show. Obviously, despite the red tops' headlines about her, the Queen herself is a relatively private person. Not for her the confessional autobiographies, tell-all tabloid freakshow or breakdown on her own reality programme. The writers have had to rely on third, fourth and probably fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth-hand accounts of what actually went on. And it shows. Boy, does it show.

I missed the first one which dealt with the oft-trodden path of Princess Margaret's scandalous affair with a divorced man. When drama The Queen's Sister tackled this, they wisely left the Queen out of it, instead opting to have her opinion out across by way of a highly-dramatised Prince Philip. The second one, dealing with the kidnapping attempt of Princess Anne in the 1970s, was my first glimpse. I suppose it could have been quite an interesting subject: the ridiculous audacity of the potential kidnapper and also the high drama that went with it. Channel 4, however, chose to pad out the story with Princess Anne and the Queen having little heart-to-hearts as if they were EastEnders characters chewing the fat not in the smoky confines of the Queen Vic but in the hallways of Buckingham Palace and in full view of about 100 servants. I'm not saying that the Queen talks like she's making a speech 24-7 but the pure soapiness of it all beggared belief. Even more incredible was a later scene that saw the Queen doing the washing up while Harold Wilson dried the dishes! What next? Camilla Parker-Bowles shouting 'I love you!' at Charles during his wedding? Perhaps the Queen could reveal at a state banquet that Philip is not Anne's father, or that she has been having an affair with the President of France, while everyone else has been eating Christmas dinner unawares.

Movies like The Queen and Frost/Nixon have accelerated the trend for 'real life' dramas. Fantasy and fiction aren't enough any more; nobody can be bothered trying to connect to new characters unless they can read about them in the paper every day. In order to survive, drama has had to follow the path beaten by gameshows and reality TV before it. Ordinary, average Joes don't pull in the viewers any more and with new celebrities being created at a rate of knots, it's easier than ever to fill a house or a jungle with a load of Z-listers or populate primetime gameshows with famous contestants.

And now it's drama's turn. Now film-makers don't even have the grace to wait until their subjects are dead before trivialising and soapifying their lives. The episode which documented the rift between Margaret Thatcher and the Queen was preposterous, more akin to a bitchfight between Alexis Colby and Krystle Carrington than a major constitutional sticking point. And beyond a wig, the actors don't even try that hard to be like the people they portray. We've heard the Queen speak, right? Are we really supposed to believe that once the cameras are off she lapses into a Home Counties brogue? Perhaps they thought that as long as they sounded 'a bit posh' they'd be OK. Team that with the clumsy dialogue and you've got an episode of Corrie that's dripping in jewels.

We are not amused, chuck.