Blonds Have More Fun

I had a thought. Maybe my character on stage should be blond. Seeing as he's a nazi sympathiser, and his job is to legally defend nazi war criminals, and he's got the pathological hatred of jews and communists wrapped up in precise clipped tones and classical education, and he's even got the creepy voice and spooky spectacles...maybe he should have the hair too.

So I've got a blob of evil smelling blue peroxide gunk sitting behind my ear to test for adverse skin reaction, and the accoutrements of hair coluring arranged in the bathroom.

My own hair is fairly coarse dark brown, inherited from mother, and when she tried to go blond in her youth, it came out bright carroty red. So if the same thing happens to me, the next post will be called

Orange Alert!

and I'll appear on stage bald.

I'm not the only thing fading away. I'm leaving a pair of never-worn jeans in the sink, soaking in bleached water for the next few days while I'm away.

The reason they're never worn is, in a moment of wild optimism, I spent £3 on a pair two sizes too small, thinking I'd diet my way into them. This...didn't happen. But if I ever do get thin, there'll be a nice pair of sexy slim white jeans waiting for me.

Unless the bleach is too much and they fall apart first.

STOP PRESS! Both performances are completely sold out. So we're going for a third. Brilliant!

Now I really do have to learn my lines. Oh dear.

There probably won't be any internet access while I'm slumming in London, so I don't think I'll get to post for the next few days. So to my various readers - Kamakura, Adversarial, Foxy Trot, Piggy & Tazzy, MJ and others...I'll see you after the show.


Travel to London for reharsals is now sorted out. One of the actors, Christine R, has correllated all the routes, transport methods and timetables to get 7 people to the theatre for under £75[1]. Being a civil servant and a mother and a housewife, she could be relied upon to do what needed to be done. And being lazy sods, the rest of just waited till she did.

Accommodation in London is another matter. Max's original plan was to put up all the actors and crew in hotels. When someone told him this was not entirely inexpensive, he decided to rent a house for a week. When someone else told him this was both expensive and had to be arranged months in advance, he quietly asked Richard P the producer for help.

Richard has found us some friends who have spare bedrooms in Hackney. Simon M and myself have been allocated a room, presumably on the grounds that we're a pair of fat old poofs and therefore sleeping together, so need, sleep together.

There's the small matter that we're charging £10 a ticket and no one has learned all their lines. And we have two days to do so. And we get the final version of the script the day before the performance.

Compare with another local company who are in late rehearsal four months before the curtain goes up. Ah well, at least we'll have a sympathetic audiance of likeminded politicos and no hostile reviews to worry about. Except possibly from Socialist Worker

When not failing to learn my lines, and not having pointless extended discussions on Outpost Gallifrey about split infinitives and gay marriage[2], I've been delving into the murky world of Tazzy and Piggy, a pair of foul mouthed northern bearqueens with a chatroom, discussion forum and webcam.

They want to know if I'll be posting filthy pictures of myself here. Well, I have no plans at the moment to show my frankly amazing genitals (and even more amazing paunch) anywhere outside a Yahoo chatroom to 20 married American men who've never seen a real foreskin before.

These two blogs might be what you're looking for. And this is the remains of GQueer.

Right, that's quite enough of that. I must learn at least enough of my lines to not look like I'm reading from a script. And then read up on darwinism and creationism for the forum afterwards. And pack everything I need for four days in London. Oh god.

[1] Thus making it completely unnecessary for me to spend £20 on a railcard.
[2] Apparantly both are bad taste and against logic.


I know absolutely nothing about soccer. Oh I know it's a game of 90 minutes split into two halves, played between two colour-coded teams who try to get a ball shaped like a buckminsterfullerene molocule into each other's "goal" as many times as possible.

I know that in the current "World Cup" England are a good team who've been playing badly, winning against Trinidad & Tobago (bad team) and Sweeden (okay team), and will probably next play Portugal (good team). And I hope to god England don't beat Germany (best team in the world) or we'll never hear the end of it.

I know the England player Wayne Rooney has a damaged third metatarsal, but Michael Owen's leg injury may be more of a problem for the team in the future. And Owen is a lot more shaggable than Rooney, plus more butch than Beckham or Gascoigne.

But: How many players are in a team? I don't know - 12, 15 maybe. How does one obtain a "penalty" and what is a "penalty shootout"? No idea. What is a "striker" or "defender"? Search me. What's the difference between a red card and a yellow card? Um, red is worse than yellow, in some way. What's "extra time" about? When does a "free kick" occur? What's a "foul"? What's a "cross" or a "pass"? What is the offside rule and what does "offside" mean?

At school I had a two year affair with a football fanatic, and learned nothing about football. I've spent my entire life in the country that apparantly invented the dratted game, and it's a complete mystery to me.

But at least I know what a third metatarsal is. It's a middle toe.

I've tried some of Tesco's own-brand bleach on my much abused strips of old jeans. According to the packaging it "Kills bacteria as well as the leading brand" - does it really kill the leading brand, or have I read that wrong?

But it does give me nicely white denim.

More football. Or rather, footballers. Well, a lot of balls anyway.

Several weeks ago the News of the Screws ran two stories about unnamed soccer players (plus someone "prominant in the music industry") playing sex games in a hotel room. The articles made it clear that those involved were straight and had girlfriends, but that this kind of play was common among the rich and famous. At least, the horny and stupid among the rich and famous.

The articles were meant to be front page news, but were relegated to middle pages by breaking news of British soldiers beating up Iraqi teenagers and filming it.

Up jumps the player Ashley Cole, weeks after the story is forgotten by most readers, eager to sue the newspaper and tell the world that whether or not the articles were about him and his friends, he's definitely not gay. Even though the articles said they weren't anyway. Whoever they were. And by the way if the articles were about him, they're not true.

Some unknown local radio DJ decided he was "prominant in the music industry", and did the same, getting five minutes of fame and a few thousand pounds in damages. Cole then produced a fiance from nowhere to prove how straight he is - presumably thinking that (a) it looks convincing and (b) anyone gives a flying rat anyway.

It's all rather pathetic, and rather familliar.

The dogs are chipped and pinned. That is, the vet has put locator chips in their necks in case we lose them, and vaccinated them against the most common canine diseases at the same time.

They also had a general health checkup - Dino is fine and bounding around like an excited gazelle, but Spock has a heart murmer, and is somewhat zonked out on painkillers for it.

The Infomaniac has asked for details on cruising etiquette. I don't have the strength for a proper article right now, but a short version would look something like:

Every cruising ground is different, with variations on the same basic themes. Men stand around or walk slowly, being visible to each other and constantly looking around for anyone they like the look of

It isn't unusual to spend half an hour or longer checking out the available men before making a move, and then you may have to try several men before you find one who accepts you.

Sitting down usually means you're taking a break from cruising, and moving rapidly is distrusted. Loud conversation is rude, though quiet conversations between friends are okay, but you can't converse and be available at the same time.

It is okay to indicate your interest in someone with a quiet "Hi", and once you're engaged in sex with them, you can quietly negotiate what to do.

Other ways to initiate are eye contact for more than a few seconds, especially if you also fondle your crotch. Sometimes putting your hands in your pockets has the same meaning.

Touching someone to indicate your interest is rather forward and annoys some people. If they move away (especially with a rapid jerky movement), this is an unambigious rejection and you shouldn't try again.

Often though, a man will ignore your advances without actually rejecting you until he's sure there's no one else around that he likes better.

You can ask to join in with sex that people are already having by maintaining eye contact with the participants, and if you're a participant you can invite someone to join you in the same way.

Whiter than White

Most of my life seems to be spent learning lines, instantly forgetting them, and getting drunkenly undignified with young political activists. Which may account for the forgetting.

Last night (Friday) was spent making desperately polite conversation to distract Stacy from the glaring fact that her boyfriend was at home with his other girlfriend, plus trying to make Lee S feel less miserable without ever finding out exactly why he was feeling like that, and watching Craig C chat up and completely fail to get off with at least four teenage girls with voices that could cut glass.

That and drinking every spirit we could think of mixed with coca-cola. Every one except Barcardi, which apparantly we're boycotting because of their anti-trade union policies. Of course, Coca-Cola have had several trade union leaders murdered in Colombia, but we need something brown and bubbly to dilute our spirits.

Kapitano's comparison of household bleaches:

Spar Bleach (37p) - Cheap, thin, watery, completely useless. Barely lightens denim when used neat, seemingly no effect at at all when diluted 1:1. Maybe this is the kind you're supposed to leave in the bucket for three days, instead of the kind that works before your eyes.

Tesco Bleach (67p) - Not tried yet.

Co-op Bleach (99p) - Produces moderate lightening when diluted 1:1, but for those splotches of fuck-off white that glow under UV light, has to be unwatered.

Domestos (£1.49) - With a name like a Greek film star, and an advert featuring the cutest little singing bacterium, it's surprisingly weak. It seems to remove about half as much colouring as the co-op stuff, even when undiluted, - though the upside is that I've discovered two-tone bleaching.

This evening (Saturday) was spent in the now usual way - dinner with Simon M while watching the latest Dr Who episode. After last week's abysmal experiment in self-parody, this week was just plain mediocre. Low budget, annoying attempts at humour, glaring plot holes, and the kind of cloying mawkishness that makes you want to hurt the scriptwriter quite a lot with a household implement. I'm beginning to think Dr Who has jumped the proverbial shark already, which is not a good sign.

We went out to consume alchohol and perve over blameless young men in the Boulevard, which was running a theme night on cowboys and indians. Rednex and Village People on the speakers, Brokeback Mountain on the screens, and a lot of men in stetsons on the dancefloor. The three nuns chugging beer were a little incongruous - though not as incongruous as the fact that they were female - I haven't been in a pub with female nuns since theological college a decade ago.

I promised Simon I wouldn't stop at a cruising spot on my way home. But...well...I did it anyway. One of the five gentlemen standing around waiting for sexual inspiraion to strike was an inexperienced and nervous fellow who committed the cruising faux pas of trying to break his nervousness with conversational openers.

He was a nice guy, I liked him - intelligent but vulnurable. We did have sex, and it was good, but marred by a pushy and sarcastic older man who invited himself to join in. The nice fellow orgasmed in my mouth - he said he wanted me to have his "virginity", which I'm not sure how to interpret.

I asked him for his Squirt username, so we could maybe get in contact and do it again in more salubrious surroundings. I gave him the opportunity to lie, in case he didn't want to meet again, and I was pretty sure he'd done so. But it turns out he was telling the truth, so maybe we'll have some more fun together soon, if he's up for it.

No more drinking or debauchery from now till the play is performed and out of the way. I need to rehearse, so I need plenty of time and a clear head.

Time for a Quick Bite

I was thinking of doing some music recording today, but I've eaten something that doesn't like me, so not really feeling up to it.

Speaking of food, a new diet book has fallen into my pudgy little hands - The Key to Permanant Slimness by Peter Kitson. The central thesis is very simple:

* All calorie-control diets rely ultimately on unreliable willpower, and exercise is a painfully inefficient way to get slim.
* In compulsive overeaters, the link between eating and the emotional componant of being sated has been severed. They eat until they're uncomfortably overfull, not until they're satisfied.
* The link can be restored by eating small meals slowly, enjoying each mouthful as much as possible, and not trying to multitask eating with anything else.

Unlike most fad diet book writers, Mr Kitson doesn't pretend to be a doctor or dietician, or to understand all the complex science behind nutrition - indeed, he rather mangles Newton's laws and Darwin's theory when he tries to use them to bolster his credibility.

His advice is very similar to Paul McKenna's I Can Make You Thin (aka I Can Make Me Rich), shorn of all McKenna's fluff on imagination, suggestion and pressure points.

I've no doubt that Kitson and McKenna are quite correct - the main reason binge eaters like myself slide into the habit is we've slid out of the habit of enjoying food. It's like injecting more and more of a drug to get a fraction of the pleasure we know a small dose should bring.

However, there's one issue they both avoid. They both assume that the psychological reason for the slide into binge eating - whatever it was in any individual's case, vanished as it probably is in the mists of childhood - is no longer there to reassert the behavior.

The methods present a new behavior (savouring) as a treatment for an old sympton (binging). But if the problem that caused the symptom is still there, then it will recreate the symptom - thus a return to binging behavior.

The way to overcome the original problem (whatever it might be) therefore is good old fashioned willpower. So these new no-calorie-counting diets may turn out to be just as dependant on willpower - and therefore just as ineffectual - as those that count calories.

I'm getting at least one call each day from Max, asking me how to do basic things on his computer - extract email attatchments, set up print margins in MS Word, delete printer jobs etc. This is all for the play, and it should have been done and dusted four weeks ago or more.

I've offered to do all the technical stuff myself on my system, but he says no, because he wants to get it all done as quickly as possible.

Yes, that's what I thought.

John M is conducting an interview tomorrow with another major marxist art critic, recording it on my little minidisc recorder. The interview will be turned into an article at some point. I'll probably have to transcribe the recordings, when other committments (like the play) are out of the way.

The sunday after the play, I've agreed to be the speaker at a forum on creationism. It's at short notice, after the original speaker and subject fell through, but I should be able to wing it.

Given that, and tomorrow's rehearsal, and the week of intensive rehearsals after that, I shall be a little too busy for music.

The Wedding Singer

A slightly frantic call at midday from Christina C to the effect of "There's a fundraising thing outside a small church you've never heard of and my son said he'd film it but he can't so can you record it with your movie camera please."

Well, I found the church - The John Pound Memorial Unitarian Church - complete with a garden containing twee elderly ladies sitting at tables munching scones.

John Pound is a local hero - a disabled philanthropist who set up schools for poor children around the 1840s. There are actually two seperate theatre companies in Portsmouth doing plays about his life and works - one a serious portrait of the man and the times he lived in, the other a light and frothy musical with lots of feelgood humanitarian sentiment.

This event was a half-hour selection of songs from the latter - and combined public entertainment, dress rehearsal, and advert for the play. Some funds were raised by a raffle, but I don't know what they went to.

I got an uncomfortable premonition when the song by the line of 'ragged children' became a little too ragged - the CD backing skipped and they dischordantly lost their places.

Still, I've 45 minutes of footage to transfer to DVD - requested by the director of the other John Pound play.

Another call, from Anna of Strict Machines when I got home. She had a bad sore throat so they had to pull out of the gig, but she'd come along to see me perform. Paul of course could see no point in going to a party if he wasn't performing his music there.

I suspect he was also a little ticked off that, a year after I was their support act, they were mine ;-).

There were about 35 people in the pub garden - student activists on one table, Roxanne's family on another, and the family of her ex-boyfriend on a third. For three hours I flitted between them, like a social(ist) butterfly drinking too much rum and coke.

Then the time came (2130) when I couldn't find any more excuses to delay singing.

warping a few notes on Science Fiction, Double Feature out of tense nervousness, then relaxing into the drug-addled rap of The Puppet's Dream, and feeling like I'd hit my stride on Friends of the Earth. 28 minutes and 10 songs, 4 of them raps and 2 of them Kamakura covers.

I can never tell when an audiance is politely tolerating me, generally enjoying the show, or even understanding what's going on. Applause is hard to read, and boredom looks so much like attention.

The audiance reaction during and after the set, and the individual comments were all positive - indeed, effusive - but again I couldn't tell whether they were just being polite or indulgent. But long after there was need to be polite, and after minds and tongues were loosened by excessive alchohol, the praise continued.

It seems I genuinely did make a good impression - they thought the music was original and good, the lyrics intelligent...and I got an offer to play at a wedding!

Robbie - a good professional portrait painter and equally professional bluff middle-aged beer guzzler - said the entire audiance was "entranced". Rather OTT and unbelievable, but welcome.

Simon M, who'd dropped in especially to hear me, said I was "camp as a treeful of pink monkeys on laughing gas"! A comment to be treasured nearly as much as CW's "Almost as good as Toyah".

CW missed the show through some misunderstandings about directions, but we spoke on the phone afterwards, got a little bit lovey-dovey, and said we'd try again soon.

The night wasn't quite over. Myself, Roxanne, her emminently sensible boyfriend Tom, desperately shagable brother Craig and hippy dippy friend Pippa trundled to The One-Eyed Dog and got drunker.

We were accosted by a swaggering Irishman who tried to persuade us he was Shane McGowan's brother. We sat through his blarny, trying to look unskeptical, until he wandered off to impress other strangers with his familly connections.

Then it turned out he actually was Shane McGowan's brother. Oh well.

After the traditional birthday party and the traditional pub visit there comes the traditional curry. Including the traditional narrowly avoided fight. Craig has a amazing talent for saying exactly the wrong thing in every situation, and Pippa always tells the exact truth as she sees it, expecting the recipient to mull over her insight with buddha-like calm.

After annoying the propriator by asking if he minded us smoking weed in his resteraunt, aggrivating a table of yobs by repeatedly yelling at them to chill out, and presenting a homeless man with a popadom and a bunch of flowers, my self-destructive friends finally decided to leave.

Back in the amazing heap of mess that Roxanne calls her home, the discussion turned to politics. Well, it would have done if Pippa hadn't come too. "I'm an artist and a university student, so I'm more artistic and insightful than most people. What we should do is make art and music that persuades Tony Blair to pull out of Iraq and get rid of all the corporations. I mean we should all just be nice to each other and keep the politics out of it."

Much as I wanted to stay snuggled up to Craig, it was a relief when he and Pippa decided to go swimming in the sea at six in the morning. According to a later telephone call, they survived jumping into feezing cold saltwater next to a sewage outlet and, as predicted, she wouldn't let him shag her because she's too spiritual for that kind of thing.

One small annoyance, I think my wallet was lost or stolen in the One-Eyed Dog. So when the new switch card arrives, it will be my ninth.

Bleach My Shorts!

You'll never guess what I've done. I put a USB memory stick through the washing machine. In a trouser pocket, together with assorted odd socks, teeshirts and a baseball cap.

You'll never guess where the only copy of all the files for tomorrow's performance was. Yes, I see you're there ahead of me - all 11 songs were on the stick. RNS, WAV and SES files, plus lyrics.

However, do not despair, because as well as being stupid enough to shove stuff into the washing machine without going through the pockets, I'm also stupid enough to leave the washing machine unplugged.

So, I have a completely dry memory stick, and the gig is still on. And my clothes still need washing.

The last time I had to spend a week in London, the jobcentre made me fill out a form promising to continue looking for work there. This time, in the new streamlined civil service, there's one to describe the purpose of my time away, and another to log any paid work I do there.

This saturday is set aside as a single day in London, getting to know the rest of the play's cast, and the first complete rehearsal with (we hope) all the actors in the same room.

Topping and Butch are a caberet duo who've built up a following around the world in gay communities. They were playing Portsmouth tonight, and Simon M effusively recommended seeing them, so we went and exerienced the act.

I was led to expect a gay version of Flanders & Swann - well, a gayer version - and that's not far off the mark. It's a traditional combination of risque jokes and songs, the latter written to well known tunes - Toni Basil's Mickey rewritten about David Beckham, I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper rechristend to I Lost My Heart to a Gay Club Bouncer.

Though the references are contemporary, the style is incredibly old fashioned - music hall smut that often wouldn't be out of place in Round the Horne.

They are highly professional and obviously old hands at carrying an audiance. In these days of commedians abusing the audiance in the name of "involvement", Topping & Butch do the decent thing of making the willing audiance members feel special (while at arms length), and not forcing themselves on the rest of us.

Unlike some performers in the same brackett, they constantly update and change their material - some songs are rewritten to reflect current media events, but retaining the same structure and catchphrases ("Nevermind, nevermind", "And all that jazz") for long-time audiances to join in with.

Cheesy, silly, and hopelessly camp, but politically quite good and very competent. An awful lot of supposedly naughty but really quite nasty and tedious drag acts could learn a lot from them.

I reckon I'm getting pretty good at throwing household bleach at old clothes. Two unwearably old and battered pairs of cutoff jeans are now covered in lurid white bits, and a teeshirt now looks like a culture of bacteria under a micrtoscope.

What I could try is getting a pair of those cheap, thin jeans that Tesco flog for UKP5, unconvincingly dyed white in parts to make them look old, redye them a strong saturated blue, then bleach the hell out of splotches of them. Result: a strong constant blue with bits of high-contrast white. Something for when I have some spare time, anyway.

I'm rather thinking of singing piebald on Sunday.

Support Network

An evening with two thirds of Strict Machines, who will be coming to the party on Sunday nonchalantly swinging an acoustic guitar and a set list. Just in case I need a support band. Hint hint.

Well I don't see why not - it should be pretty good. My own set has grown, split in two like an amoeba, and now looks like this:

Set 1 (17 minutes):
1) Intro (a minute of synth sweeps, film samples and no vocals, where I get to express my pretentious side)
2) Science Fiction, Double Feature (where I get to be a little bit camp)
3) The Puppet's Dream (a remix of the LMHR version of my rap, for which I really must find a different title)
4) Friends of the Earth (a surprise Kamakura cover!)
5) Heretic (to annoy any christians in the audiance)
6) The Puppet's Dream (another tweaked version of another Kamakura cover)

Set 2 (11 minutes):
1) Friend (an extensive remix for my melancholy side)
2) Nacht unt Traume (pretentious side again)
3) 12 Monsters (silly side)
4) Under the Wagon (obscure side)
5) Birthday Rocks (fun, but rubbish, but hopefully still fun...but still rubbish)

On the way home I thought..."Wouldn't it be really cool if I could slip a cover of Goldfrapp's song Strict Machine into my set, unannounced, seeing as Strict Machines are my support band?"

So I spent a few hours messing around with various possible backing tracks for the song which, for some bizarre reason is in A# Major and 126 BPM. After rejecting several I thought..."Wouldn't it be really cool if I recreated some old disco classic to sing the song over? Something like...I Feel Love?"

I can now reveal that remaking an old Donna Summer cliche is not cool - it's deeply crap. But not as crap as me trying to impersonate Allison Goldfrapp.

The day before Sunday 18th is, astoundingly, Saturday 17th. Which will be spent travelling up to London, meeting the half of the cast that lives in London, doing a rehearsal, and traveling back.

I should therefore probably have learned my lines properly. But seeing as no one else has bothered...I'll leave it a bit.

Anna F thinks it would be seriously cool for CW and me to settle down together and go all domestic. Because it turns out they've known each other for years and years.

Though she acknowledges that he's one of the strangest people she's ever met. And the possibility that we might drive each other stark staring round the nutty twist.

I now have a minidisc recorder - A Sony MZ-R55. UKP30 from ebay for a discontinued product, instead of UKP200 for a new one - quite good value I think. It doesn't have the long-play abilities of later models that can stretch an 80 minute minidisc to 4 times the length, which is a minor annoyance.

There's 10 blank discs included, but no instuction manual on how to operate the thing. Fortunately, it's online.

I've signed up to Marxism 2006. A 5 day conference for UKP35 is pretty good value, considering they find you basic accommodation for free, and have speakers like Tariq Ali, Terry Eagleton and Ken Loach.

I just wish the simple act of being in London didn't cost three times as much.

Last night, I tried bleaching an old pair of jeans. I thought bleach was supposed to turn dark blue into light blue, not brown and yellow splotches.

I looked it up on the intergoogleweb, and according to an article on a neo-nazi hate site about "bleeching", it's all to do with the amount of chlorine in the mixture.

Today, Joe R leaves for his month long cheap package holiday tour around the axis of evil. The upshot for me is that I'm in charge of the bookstall at meetings and forums. And, as nominal forum organiser, I'll be happy to do the books...when someone tells me when the next forum is.

The Entertainer

Craig C lent me a USB memory stick. I was so impressed I went out and bought two. Actually one is for mother - she was impressed too, and will reimburse me when she has cash (UKP30 each).

It functions just like a miniature portable hard disk, except that it's about the size of a AA battery, doesn't need an external power supply, and doesn't take 30 seconds to start up.

Already it's saved me much fiddling about with recalcitrant wireless networks and CDR burning just to get files from the laptop onto the tower next to it.
The files in question are 6 Reason songs and assorted WAV samples of pithy film dialogue. Together the songs only come to a 15 minute set - 20 would be better, but I can't think of any others that I really want to sing - except those I already did at the LMHR gig. Here's the listing so far:

1) Science Fiction, Double Feature - the opening song to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and an excuse for cliched flying saucer sound effects.

2) Heretic - one of my earliest raps, about biblical stories, set to a triphop beat on sampled indian percussion.

3) 12 Monsters - my first SongFight entry, Goodbye Monster, sung to the backing of my first SongFight collaboration, 12 Monkeys.

4) Nacht und Traume - a rap I wrote for a SongFight "Album-a-day" contest under the title All White in the Whiteness. A stream of rhyming references to Samuel Beckett plays and novels, techno-dub hybrid style.

5) Under the Wagon - more SongFightary, and a techno version of an acapella original. The backing is remixed from the SongFight UK event.

6) Birthday Rocks - a rather silly song that will only ever be performed once, for two reasons. First, it marks a birthday and party that won't recurr unless the laws of temporal causality break down. Second, it's too rubbish to sing twice. Here's the lyrics:

Birthday Rocks

Verse 1:
Party in the garden, people having fun
I wrote this for you, 'cos you're now 21
You fight for the future, and live for today
You got the world's greatest daughter
And a cute stoner bro, I wanna sleep with him, but he's not

Happy happy birthday, happy happy birthday
Happy anniversary from family and friends and me
Happy birthday Roxanne, happy birthday Roxanne
Dancing drinking all you can, watch you take it like a man

Verse 2:
Going on till midnight, continue back at yours
Hangover tomorrow, crawl out of bed on all fours
We are all devo, all the boys and girls
Start a revolution
Love music hate war, get up and reclaim your

Chorus x2

Happy happy birthday
Happy anniversary
Happy birthday Roxanne
Signed yours truely, devoted fan

EDIT: It turns out it's her twenty second birthday. Bugger.
The Infomaniac is a blogger providing a veritable smorgasbord and gallimaufrey of light news. If it's silly, quirky, and unashamedly trivial, this fellow will cover it. Recently he's been taking requests for pictures of themed totty - sexy men and women from football, television, films and all over the place. But mostly football.

I put in a request for boybands - I was thinking "Boyzone", "E17", "Peter Bloody Andre". Haidukii the Romanian boyband or Will Young the serious musician. Even Duran Duran or Bros. What The Infomaniac found for me and unexpected.

Hold On, I'm Getting There

The bed moving thing was over in ten minutes, and CW couldn't make it to the park. So John M is sleeping in his favourite chair and I'm still officially not sleeping with anyone.

This is in spite of general belief that Simon M and I must be "together" in a romantic as well as drinking, computing and Doctor-Who-Watching sense.

Speaking of which, he's decided he wants a blog. There were various possible titles discussed, such as...

* Drug Addled Bum Bandits for Peace
* Simon Says
* Confessions of an English Odium Beater
* Maggie's Place
* Murder, He Quoth

...but we settled on my personal favourite: Foxy Trot. Snappy, funny, and largely meaningless to anyone who doesn't know what a Trotskyist is - actually, I'm a Trotskyist and sometimes I'm not sure what it is.

Anyway, Roxanne's birthday bash is now on the 18th, I'm the "ironic" musical act that goes right at the end when everyone's drunk and overstuffed, and I have to write a "Happy Birthday" song.

I've got a possible basis of a backing for Half a Stone, and an almost finished one for the one cover so far in the set - Science Fiction, Double Feature.
A visitor named Frobisher read the previous post and asked if I had any thoughts on solving the mess in Iraq. I'm working on a reply, but it keeps getting more complex each time I go back to it.

Things Fall Apart

* One new pair of sandals (UKP6) to replace the old ones which gave me the most amazing blisters.
* One backup pair of sandals (UKP5) in case the first new pair falls apart after a week like the last new pair did.
* One new pair of trainers (UKP6) to replace the old ones which are just about to fall apart.
* One baseball cap (UKP3) annoyingly emblazoned with an "England" football motif, to replace the old one, which fell apart on the way to the shops.
Tomorrow afternoon will be spent humping in a man's bedroom, continuing down that stairs and into the street.

No no no. John M is splashing out on a new orthopedic bed for his aching back, which is sufficiently debilitating that he can't do any lifting. So Lee S and myself are humping the old bed out of the bedroom, down the stairs and into the street. What did you think I meant?

After which I'm meeting a gay man in a park.

No no no. CW and I haven't seen each other in over a week, so we've carved a few hours out of our timetables for a chat, walk, and probably drink. What did you think I meant?

After which we will hopefully know whether to call each other "Friend" or "Boyfriend".
I've been reading articles by Christoper Hitchens, Peter Tatchell and Andrew Sullivan on Iraq. These are self-proclaimed moderate leftists who take the line that Iraq (and Afganistan) have been royally messed up by the occupiers, who therefore have the moral duty to (a) put things right and (b) prevent hardline islamists committing attrocities.

The first point is common enough and defensible in the abstract, but as soon as you start to ask what "putting things right" means and how on earth it could be achieved, it collapses.

What do the occupiers actually want to achieve? Turn Iraq into a satellite state of America with outlets of Macdonnalds and Nike? Install two-party lobby-based democracy (and presumably it's attendant corruption)?

How can they do this? Build towns and factories while being shot at and bombed? Stage free elections while making sure only their candidates win? They've tried that twice so far, to general dirision.

The second point rather overlooks the fact that terrorism and "islamofascism" are products of occupation, so using continued occupation to stop them is like screwing down the lid on a pressure cooker to prevent it exploding.

The response of course is that these things are only products of botched occupation, and can be stopped by competent occupation. This looks plausible, until you consider past occupations by French, Portugese and British empires that were highly competent, but had the same type of effects.

There are two common beliefs, usually not explicitly stated, on the "moderate left" (ie right) of this debate. The first is that the natives are too backward to look after themselves, too volatile to be allowed freedom. The old "White Man's Burdan", in other words.

The second is that the "extreme left", in opposing the occupations of Iraq and Afganistan and the pressuring of Iran, is effectively supporting islamicist theocracy, which opresses and kills countless victims.

It seems odd that experienced political commentators should fail to grasp that opposing the opression of group B by group A does not disentail opposing the opression of group C by group B. Martin Luther King and Malcom X were homophobic. Does this mean supporting the civil rights battle entailed condoning their hatred of gay people? Of course not.

In any case, the idea that you can persuade a population to stop terrorising it's own people by terrorising them into being like you but without the just a little bizzare.
I have 1 backing finished for All White in the Whiteness, which I really must retitle to something catchier - Nacht und Traume? How about Waiting? And one nearly finished for 12 Monsters, an unholy blend of 12 Monkeys and Goodbye Monster.


I can barely walk. The major events of the day were walking for an hour to fix Craig C's computer of a virus, managing to fix everything except the virus, and walking for an hour back.

The day was unpleasantly hot and moist, so in addition to baggy teeshirt, baggy football shorts, battered baseball cap and no socks, I found a hideous pair of old sandals, which after ten minutes decided to pinch and poke my feet at every opportunity. The result of two hours walking like this in the sun without enough sunblock is that I'm sunburned and it hurts like hell to walk because of all the blisters.

Seeing him with completely sober and undrugged eyes, Craig is just as lovely as before. Seeing me with equally clear eyes, all traces of sexual ambiguity have gone and he likes women. Hah. Not that I expected anything different.

Oh, I spent another hour listening to Paul T, who is no longer planning to leave music, but will probably still leave oranised politics and maybe the western hemisphere. Upon hearing that I'm playing at Roxanne's birthday, he started to phone her to ask to play too - tactless enough to start doing it, but sensible enough to stop.

The party is on the 20th, and the venue still to be arranged. So I have ten days to come up with backing for a 20 minute set. After the friday gig, someone has come up with an alternative moniker for Kapitano, based on my rapping, paunch and, erm, reputation for sexual openness. Notorius F.A.G. I probably shouldn't like it, but I do.

Tomorrow I need to walk to the shops to buy some sandals that won't knacker my feet. Except I can't, because my feet are knackered.

One of Those Days

I could have happily lived without most of today. It started around midnight with Max making absolutely-definitely-final edits to the play - that is, him telling me what to change on the wordprocessor, and me doing it because he's about as proficient with computers as I am with necromancy.

The small detail that we were supposed to have the final script two weeks ago was obscured by his urgent need to go and relax with a few cigarettes before we'd finished, with the assurance that the final changes could easily be made on the night of performance with a biro.

I walked home, watched Sapphire and Steel, slept around 0500...and was woken at the unearthly hour of 1000 by Simon M calling to say, "Nobby's ill. Can you come round and fix him?" - meaning "The computer's stopped working again, please weave your magic and make it alright again."

My magic must have been working especially well, because when I arrived, I was greeted with, "Hello there you fat old trollop, Nobby started working again ten minutes ago."

So, after being fed tea and bagels for breakfast (followed by ice cream!), I sauntered off home for a quick doze in preparation for the things I'd promised to do for the day - finish the gig compilation CD with Sion R, go to the Respect meeting on Iran, and get some of the CDs to Paul T.

Except I was waylaid by Gareth E, Paddy U and Joe R into joining them in The One-Eyed Dog. Where Paul T called me and spent half an hour explaining why he was leaving the band, leaving the party, and possibly leaving the country.

Short version: No one likes him, everyone mocks him, everyone thinks he's an arsehole and no one wants him around. He doesn't fit in and no one's interested in what he has to say.

After which the four of us spent much time mocking him and being glad he wasn't around.

In any case, two hours later he'd changed him mind completely. Which means we're probably stuck with the arsehole after all.

It took longer than expected to complete the CD, so I missed the meeting - having spent the day with people who didn't want to go either. I'm introducing Sion to Bodygurn and Kamakura - though the list of available bands is outstripping gig slots.

Back home I got a text message: Paddie's more-or-less girlfriend has found out about his not-really girlfriend, both are furious, and he's in the shit. Oh dear, not good. I somehow suspect it wouldn't help if they knew about our drunken fondling session a few weeks ago.

Tomorrow is a rehearsal for the play, and on Friday I visit the delectable Craig C to devirus his computer. But those complications are for tomorrow.

Doomed, Kapitano

Immidiately following from the last post...

Myself, John M, Roxanne C, her brother Craig, and partner Tom. Sitting in The One-Eyed Dog drinking all manner of flavoured alchohol, before sauntering off unsteadily for a balti.

Roxanne is a working-class 20-year-old single mother. She's also highly intelligent, unflinching ethical, and takes no sexism or humbug from anyone. Yes, I rather admire her.

Tom is one of the classic strong silent types. Reserved to the point of invisibility until he's sure he can trust you, after which he can be a rocklike friend if you need one.

Craig is 19, uncertain what to believe about any of the big issues, a skilled electric bass player...and utterly utterly gorgeous. Also socially awkward and convinced he's not attractive - which just makes him even more utterly gorgeous.

After John M sensibly went home to get some sensible sleep like a sensible person, the rest of us piled into Roxanne's flat and got drunk again.

They think I'm middle-aged at 34, incredibly posh because I don't drop "H"s, and wise because I spent most of my adult life in university.

I think they're poor as church mice, generous with what they have, and have more human warmth than my entire extended family put together.

Rocks - as she's generally known - has a birthday coming up, and wants me to sing at the party. It's not quite the type of gig I'd imagined, but hey, it sounds good. They seem to genuinely like my music a lot.

Actually, it's reciprocated - Tom and Craig are in a jazz/funk/reggae band called Bodygurn, which I think is bloody good. If they were organised enough to get gigs, they'd have a solid following.

Craig, when not having self-doubts about his sexuality together with everything else, is straight - or as he puts it "so not gay". But he and his sister are easygoing and tactilly affectionate, which may explain why, when we eventually did sleep, it was all 3 of us tessellated on the sofa (fully clothed), using each other as pillows.

And then when Rocks spent the daytime doing college coursework, we two boys, feeling completely shattered, spent most of it snoozing in each other's arms. If it weren't so sweet it would be confusing.

We're All Doomed

It's true what they say, that facing down your fears is an effective way to deal with them. Though most fears can't be confronted by simply watching television. I watched the programmed that gave me childhood nightmares, and felt the breaking of a small chain when it didn't terrify me.

One odd thing - the scene that caused me most of the fear wasn't as I remembered it.
I spent the afternoon with Sion R and his wife Michelle, working on a compilation of acts from Friday's gig. 2 tracks each from the 9 bands should make a reasonable 60 or 70 minute CD, sold for UKP1 each as a small additional fundraiser.

Provisional title: Live Music, Hate Racism. My idea :-).

It turns out the gig did make a profit after all - about a hundred pounds, even though we forgot to ask the band members themselves to pay entrance.

So, there will probably be another one in a few weeks time. Sion wants to widen the range of genres, so is talking with a samba band and a blues-funk band he knows.

He wants me to help in the administrative details of room booking and band negotiations - it took a lot out of him to do it all himself this time. Oh, and he thinks Kapitano would be good as a "wind down", "chilled" act right at the end of the evening.

There was me thinking I was edgy uptempo synthpop. Turns out I'm seen as calm and relaxing.
There was a forum in the evening, about climate change and nuclear power, on the back of the climate change conference the day before.

It's odd that a speaker can undramatically ennumerate the statistical details of the end of the world, to a roomful of people who dedicate their lives to the lost cause of saving humanity from it's own worst elements, and the general response amounts to "Yeah, we know. Kinda bad innit."

Pretty much everyone in the world is aware on some level that industrial capitalism is messing up the planet. Temperature rise, ozone depletion, violent weather, desertification and pollution are making the planet progressivly more hostile to life and civilisation.

Everyone knows this, even if they don't know any details, but no one can see a way to do anything about it, and the big environmentalist organisations seem to have disappeared up themselves.

The Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth etc have descened into bickering with each other about the aesthetics of wind turbines on hills. Recommending token lifestyle changes about half filling the kettle and installing cavity wall insulation. Joining the oil or nuclear lobbies depending on which multinational buys their loyalty with quiet funding.

If you talk to enough people, you'll eventually find someone who thinks Iraq is a great success and morally justified. There's one or two who think Tony Blair shines out of God's arse. Pro-war and pro-blair people exist - but have you ever met someone who's pro global warming?!

And yet the prevailing mood about the fate of the goddamn world is one of self-doubting apathy. We were a dozen socialists in a room above a pub wretchedly discussing the difficulties in building a worldwide movement from nothing, 50 years after we should have started.

Then some of these socialists went for a beer and a curry.

Happy Days

One of the first albums I bought was Flag by Yello, purchased on the strength of the single The Race. The album influenced a lot of my teenage musical experiments and it's still a favourite, but one track in particular - 3rd of June - was especially inspiring.

Well, this particular 3rd of June was a good day. I woke at midday with not a trace of hangover, feeling bouyed up by the gig and the time with CW.

The sun made a return appearance in the sky, and the day outside was clear, bright and warm - which also meant the reappearance of the beshorted boystudents and topless totty. All very pleasant.

Finding the old mp3 player under the bed was also good, as was a new episode of Doctor Who and an email from Nick.

I sold the Jam DVD and the Sapphire and Steel DVDs arrived - the final four adventures (or "Assignments") of the six made. Assignment 3 was the first one I saw back in 1981, I've never seen number 2, Assignment 1 I saw a few years ago on VHS, and number 4 was the one that scared the freaking shit out of me.

I hope that seeing it again now will exorcise a childhood demon.
Sunday the 4th of June is planned out. Sleep until midday again because it's 0400 now, spend the afternoon with Sion R sorting out gig recordings, and the evening at a forum on climate change and nuclear power.


The gig was a great success in that all the bands were good, about 75 people attended, and the vibe was positive and politicised. For me the standout act was Pregmant: The Pregnant Man - an intriguing threepiece of jazz drummer, cello player and rapper.

My set was met with cheering and appreciation, and several people said afterwards that they really enjoyed my lyrics and approach to music.

The gig was also a dismal failure in that, as a fundriser it failed to break even, the 10 minute soundcheck at the start lasted a full hour - forcing all the bands to cut their sets. The mixing to the PA was incompetently done, making vocals often indecipherable - the folk singer stormed off because he couldn't even hear himself amplified. And by the end of the evening three quarters of the attendees had left.

Paul T was even more of a pig than usual, demanding the running order be changed just because he felt like playing there and then, "forgetting" to cut the set short, and spending everyone else's set chatting up girls in a different pub or making loud conversation.

Oh, and Max is currently having an extended hissy fit because Sion R dared to organise the whole thing without consulting him first.

I had spent most of the evening and UKP30 on getting rather drunk in response to the above - in fact several people tried to persuade me (genuinely but wrongly) that I was too drunk to perform. I got most of it right, but hit some wrong notes, distracted by even drunker morons shouting comments. I'm not happy with my performance.
I...might have a boyfriend. Or I might have a friend.

CW and I spent the small hours of Thursday morning texting each other, about the relationship we had 15 years ago in college - how it was based in the simple fact that we understood each other when no one else did, how it was still true, and we were both lonely for each other's company.

He came to the gig - and turned out to know a lot of the people there already. Then I walked him home and we sat outside his house discussing our confused feelings for each other.

I find CW an uttely infuriating man. Highly intelligent with a dense but random scattering of knowledge, he can sparkle in groups with his impossibly quick wit and sense of surreal wordplay. He's like a rapidfire Eddie Izzard, constantly deflecting conversation away from anything serious or troubling.

The thing is though, underneath it all he's serious and troubled, but there's almost no one who can "get" (grok) what he's really thinking. Except me, that is, because although my surface persona is completely different, we're amazingly alike.

And yes, he finds me infuriating too. A month of living under the same roof would lead to mutual murder. It's just that when both our defence mechanisms are down, there's something quite special.

Sorted, Safe, and Sound

All bands confirmed and scheduled, PA system tested and working fine, recording all set up and mixing sessions arranged. I'm practiced till I can do it in my dreams, and the only thing that'll stop me being tight as a drum is being tight as a newt.

50 demo CDs delivered and flyer for the next Strict Machines gig designed. The town is full of flyers for this gig, and everyone who could possibly be interested has been invited.

There's Eddie the 6'5'' bipolar soldier on the door in case anyone's dumb enough to make trouble, and Michelle the diminutive dusky maiden on the door with a bucket for donations.

In other words, absolutely nothing left to do, and if anything goes wrong, it won't be my fault!
Now, have a read of this:

Two planets, equal but opposite. Proton is ruled by technology, Phaze by magic. Stile is a lowly serf on Proton, protected from unknown assassins by a secret race of humanoid super-robots.

He crosses the barrier between the worlds, to become a powerful magician in Phaze, and a threat to the political order in Proton. As the two worlds begin to merge, Stile must prevent their mutual destruction.

This is the first part of Piers Anthony's Split Infinity Trilogy. The other two are Blue Adept and Juxtaposition

Does that make you want to read the novels? I wrote the speil, and it makes me want to read them. I've read them, and it makes me want to read them, even though I know they're a pile of mediocrity. I read them when I was 11, and rather enjoyed them while being aware of how corny and formulaic Piers Anthony usually was.

Anyway, I'm shoving the trilogy onto Ebay, because there's no way I'll read it again, but there's plenty of people who might. Though there's only one bid for the Jam DVD and nothing at all for the Norman Hunter stories.
There's also a certain emotional complication. A blast from the past. Unfinished business and unresolved issues from an unfinished relationship. I have absolutely no idea whar, if anything, will happen. But when it does, I'll stop being so mysterious about it.


200 blank CDRs in the post, and they look amazingly cool. You remember how the earliest CDRs had a purplish colour on the side you record on? Then they were green, and the green got fainter and fainter as the price came down and the recordable layer got thinner and thinner. Well these are black on the burn side, and opaque white for writing on the other.

Now I've just got to burn 50 of them.
sion R - who at 35ish has taken to painting his fingernails gloss black - is gig organiser, MC and member of 2 of the bands. He's also taking over recording duties with his own digital 8-track. I'll assist with noise reduction and mastering on Saturday evening.
Tonight's SWP meeting was mainly organisational, but included a discussion of the latest Iraq warcrime.

The official US version of events keeps changing - first it was 1 soldier and 24 civillians killed by an insurgent bomb, then it was that insurgents started a firefight with US soldiers, and 24 bystanders were killed by stray bullets.

At present, the official version looks like this: A marine was shot dead. In a frenzy of rightous revenege, two divisions who didn't normally work together took five hours to break into a series of houses and execute 24 people - including a 77 year old man in a wheelchair filled with 9 rounds from a machine gun, and several children and babies.

The soldiers then left behind witnesses, and inexplicably transported the corpses to a hospital, dumping them on the lawn. Meanwhile, by complete coincidence and not conspiracy with senior officers, an air strike hit the killing scene, destroying most of the evidence.

As we used to say in more innocent times, "Confused? You will be."