Monthly Archives: November 2003

Mellow Birds

It’s been a turbulent 36 hours. The fact that our supply of anti-depressants ran out a week ago doesn’t help. Zap, a new recruit to the army of prescription-junkies, remarked on Friday that I had become more agressive and short tempered. This is an interesting state of affairs. Firstly, he was right, and I hadn’t even noticed. Secondly he only noticed because he has recently started to take his prescription pills and, as far as I and everyone that knows and cares about him is concerned, is a lot better for it. Less unhappy, less uptight and less agressive. It’s a shock when someone turns it round – especially when they’re right.
Thursday and Friday were particularly hard because several significant bugs in my coding of commercial web systems came to light, that I can’t deny are my fault. I’d fixed and patched everything by 5pm today – and it’s a weight off my mind…and my arse.

Anyway – last night, uptight, and in need of R & R, I went out for a delicious Thai meal with Michele, Syd, Rach, Ian and Mod. It was so nice to spend time with people I like. Sadly Michele had yet another recurrence of her gut rot and we had to leave. It irritates me but as it’s not her fault, I can’t find anyone to be angry at apart from her gut…and it doesn’t even react to anger. Pity.

When we got in I went straight to bed – 9pm with no shame. I was knackered. Several hours later I woke up, got up, took my clothes off, and went back to bed. Then at 2am the phone rang. Michele told me to answer it, so I did and passed it over to her; my brain was way too sleepy to deal with talking to people. It was a friend of ours. She was pissed, crying and generally very upset. She was also on the verge of suicide. Again. The story is a long one but at this point all you need to know is that she’d lost her mobile on the anniversay of her brother’s death – two weeks after her parents kicked her out of home…and got her arrested at the same time. To simplify matters I should say that her, Tim her parrot, Michele, Humphrey and I are all in our front room now, and she’s much, much happier than before. Tim the parrot is going to stay with us for a while until our friend finds somewhere to live. It’s quite nice actually because she understands our obsession with parrots. The only person/being who maybe slightly dischuffed with the situation is Humphrey; he is preening like a maniac to show us how much nicer he is than Tim. Sad, because Tim just wants to be friends.
Night folks.

Great People

It’s nice to see that even in the smallest, most insignificant, places, there are still great people to be found. Here are a few that have been in our house, via various media, in the past couple of hours:

  • Margaret Cho
  • Ben Zephaniah – for everything he’s ever said and done – especially turning down an OBE
  • Yasmin Alibhai-Brown – for telling national television that Ben Zephaniah’s refusal to accept his OBE made her feel guilty for accepting her MBE.
  • Tony Benn – ever watched him go up against Ali G ? I know it’s not very important, but it does demonstrate how committed he is to his ideals
  • John Humphreys and Jim Naughtie – for being able to make minced-meat out of the most determined jaded political scumbag.
  • Mark Thomas and Mark Steel – for remaining funny, clever and righteous for at least all the years that I’ve known you

Cynical Advertising

There’s only one thing worse than advertising, and that’s advertsing that pretends to be as cynical as you. Adverts that obviously want you to sit sneering at the set going “Yeah, huh, yeah, I hate those sort of situations too…OK I’ll buy a packet of Tunes and demonstrate how cynical I am to the world”

Advertisers achieve this with varying degrees of success ranging from hopeless ineptitude to shocking cluelessness.

However successful any advertising agency is, they are all toejam.

Nasty, dirty little germs and parasites.

I’m currently being attacked by one, or possibly more, of these 21st centrury viruses. These days you don’t just get a cold one day, spend a day or so in bed and then get better. Viruses are getting cleverer – makes sense I suppose, evolution and all that. They creep up slowly over a period of several weeks so your immune system never gets a chance to get into full swing. As a result they get progressively worse by stealth. By the time your immune system switches on it’s all over the place. So, I’m off work in an attempt to kick start my own immune system by giving it what it likes: sleep and relaxation.

After the demo on thursday – you know the one, the biggest weekday demonstration in Britain EVER ? Feeling pretty content that so many hundreds and thousands of people share our opinions on George Bush and the rest of the right-wing capitalistas, I sat in front of the telly and watched the news coverage which was very short compared to the other news items, but nonetheless longer than usual for such a piece of real news. It was all going so well. Even John Simpson sounded impressed by the days events. And then I made a dreadful mistake.

Question Time

No no no – why did I do it ? Clive James. Clive Bloody James. Clive “Smug Overprivileged Unfunny Traitor” James. The bit I saw before I threw the remote control across the room consisted of Clive Boy, a tory and a few Eltham Nazis in the audience verbally abuse Vanessa Redgrave and some inept LibDem woman using the words “Terrorism”, “Democracy” and “Dictator” as if they knew what they meant and as if they had any relevance to the current oil wars.

It was particularly irritating seeing Clive James, smugly chucking out these cliches. I read half a book of his once and there were some funny bits in it. It was about coming to England from Australia in his youth and occasionally he made me laugh which on reflection makes me feel slightly violated.. [ have you any idea how difficult it is to type a blog with a parakeet pecking and typing on the keyboard ? ] But I got fed up with the book because it contained several, irritating, themes:

  • I used to be a socialist in my foolish youth
  • I didn’t have a job because I was trying to do something more worthy like becoming a writer but the money my parents sent me kept running out
  • I had wealthy friends in high places who pulled strings for me
  • I had sex with lots of attractive women
  • I’m cleverer than you, and most of the people I meet

Clive now prefers to be referred to as a “Poet”. Yes Clive – whatever you say. I can think of other words beginning with ‘P’ that would describe you more accurately so why not write a nice poem with these: pointless, parasite, portly, polled, pillock, pedantic, purulent, pratt, painful, primadonna, pustule, penis, punani, pack-of-shit, pube, privileged, pinheaded, pukeworthy, priggish, pompous, plain, petty, pugnacious, ponce.

Question time has the knack of bringing me right down and making me think the world is doomed. Luckily Charlie Brooker, Jeremy Hardy, and Rich Hall managed to cheer me up and remind me that there are some people in the world who can think clearly. I wish I could.


In the old days, the organizers of a demo would claim between 2 and 10 times more people attended than the police. Today they seemed to agree with plod that between 100,000 and 200,000 were protesters. Oddly, I and several other marchers estimated between 500,000 and a million. Admittedly we’re not experts at counting crowds, but on the other hand we have been on plenty of demos in the past and heard what the coppers and the organisers have said about numbers on those occasions. Believe me, there were far, far more than 100,000 people there. And it was great.

Michele was holding a banner that read “Proud of my Country. Shamed by my ‘president'”. She added the quote marks around “president” and stuck lots of stars and stripes all over it. As a result she had her photo taken about 20 times, and even got interviewed by a reporter from “London Student”!

We got some great photos, met up with Zap, Anna, Matt and Adam, and went for a drink in the Salisbury where we met a spectacularly cynical American called “Ismail” who was only too happy to argue with us. Matt, Michele and I also managed to do some very enjoyable bluejacking 🙂

Bush, Blair, Straw and the Police must have been shitting their pants about this massive demo…but this morning a horrific event in Istanbul proved they were right to invade Iraq, beyond any doubt, and consequently found us demonstrators to be, in Tone’s own words, “bizarre”. Well Tony, if I was a cynical person, which of course I’m not, I’d have to wonder about the timing of this bomb.


The time when saturday night meant a night out, too much to drink, partying and the offchance of some sex with a stranger seems like an age ago. Nowadays the ideal saturday night is like the one I just had. After a tedious days programming we ordered a delicious curry from trafalgar tandoori, had a couple of bottles of vino collapso, watched Carry on Camping and Humphrey wandering about gaining confidence.

George Bush is on a state visit to England next week. Consequently I, like hundres of thousands of others, am taking Thursday off to demonstrate just how unwelcome he, and his 700 staff (count the cost U.S. taxpayers), are. Tony and Jack “Herr Flick” Straw have been really winding me up all week. After Tone’s “ok you can have your 10 minutes of democratic protest as long as you don’t come near London” speech, Jack Straw topped it by talking about the “fashionable anti-americanism amongst the left”. Listen Jack, we’re not anti-American, we’re not fashionable, a lot of us aren’t even left wing. We’re anti-Bush, and anti-YOU. Understand ?
Michele is planning to come along as “American against Bush”. As usual, she won’t be alone. Proportionally I’m sure there are as many anti-bushists in the USA as there are in Britain and Europe.
Already their state is starting to tell us about the “imminent risk from Al Quaeda”. This will help them in their defence after they cover a load of demonstrators with tear-gas and smoke on thursday. Because, when we’re trying to protect our freedom, our freedom must have limits.

Total Itarian

Imagine living in a society where, one morning, on the radio you hear “ID cards are to be introduced, voluntarily at first, but the government plan to make them compulsory.”
If on the same day you hear the President/Prime-Minister/Fuhrer/Papa say “Well it’s your democratic right to protest, we can’t do anything about that unforunately, but you are quite clearly wrong and everything we’ve done and are about to do is right and it’s really got nothing to do with you.” you’d probably be justified in thinking that we no longer live in a democracy. You’d be wrong of course: we have never lived in a democracy.

Wunch of Bankers

A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it rains.
– Robert Frost

The co-operative bank refused to pay a direct debit to Orange because it would have taken me over my overdraft limit on an old account. They then charged me 35 quid as punishment, which took me over my overdraft limit. Well it’s only fair isn’t it ? I had transgressed the bank rules so I was asking for it really. Only fair. And on the 21st I’m looking forward to a bunch more bizarre, but legally justified, charges that I don’t understand. So I decided to bring myself down a bit more by trying to reason with a couple of call-centre operatives in Newcastle.
As a co-op customer, and thus investor, I’m a shade irritated that they continue to squander my money on British staff and their unreasonable demands of mediocre pay. What sort of business sense does that make when all of the other right-thinking business have relocated their call centres to India where they can pay shockingly low amounts of money for the same job ? No wonder this country’s in such a state, you couldn’t make it up, we’re going to hell in a bandcart etc etc