Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Feed Me



Our attempt at Christmas Pud looks ok. It firmed up after being steamed and, whatsmore, came out of the pudding basin quite easily. Now all we have to do is feed it alcohol regularly for the next 3 months before it's ready to taste.

Monday, May 29, 2006

3 Down 5 To Go

Wow, our place smells like Christmas, only subtly so, and richer. But not as much as the smell when grinding the cinammon and cloves. Makes mental note-must find someone to make little muslin parcels at Christmas so I can fill them with the ground mixture and hang them from the tree, give them away as gifts, put under my pillow....Oh my goodness, I'm becoming Martha Stewart.

Next weekend apple pie (try it with a thin slice of cheddar on top, it so works, honest).

It's In The Eating

A while back mon C revealed that he was a big fan of traditional Christmas Pudding (so is my mother). By co-incidence, shortly after he had gone to Moscow, I was watching UKtv Food, and Tamasin Day-Lewis (who I think is the sister of Daniel) was makng it. So I pressed the Sky hard drive record button to preserve the recipe.

We did the shopping today, made the mix and it's steaming away right now-and will be for the next 7.5 hours.

Sometimes I'm a little lazy about recipes. Go by feeling rather than the detail. So for this I figured the measurements could be approximate, so long as the proportions seemed about right. So I thought the dried fruit should kind of soak up in alcohol first. Oh, and when I checked with Delia, she mentioned self raising flour. I don't think the other one did. So, anyway, we'll know in about 7 hours time whether it's ok.

The idea is that it soaks up alcohol for the next 3 months before it's ready to eat. Daily dousings. That gives us time before having to make the real one, and some others for slightly more personal gifts. Work out what was good about it and what could be better. Mmm.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

La Sainte Trinite

Each meal we have I've noticed that mon C has to have his pain, his fromage, mais pas du vin! It's 2/3 of the great French trinity. I guess he leaves that bit for me. A votre sante.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Last Lookie Likey





...and the winner is?

More Lookie Likey







...crackerjack.

Lookie Likey...






...answers on a postcard please.

Supersize Me

When I lived in Baltimore it had the highest illiteracy rate per capita in the US. The Governor of Maryland promoted a campaign to raise the standard-"Baltimore-the city that reads".

Unfortunately Baltimore also suffered the highest rate of teenage pregnancy at the same time, and so the soundbite was comandeered, and posters defaced to read "Baltimore-the city that breeds."

Somehow this reminds me of the fated Baltimore Sun sponsored campaign:



(in a different but nevertheless self defeatist kind of way).

Engerland?

I don't think so.



If I have time I should do something imaginative, like a fantasy world cup soccer hotties. Forget the quality of the football. Consider only the players. Hmm, maybe some bloggers should team together and post World Cup Heros. Pictures of hot soccer players as our alternate world cup tribute....



In the meantime...just give it to him, David. He wants it.

Day 3 in the Scooby Doo House




Was there ever more an epitome of a haunted house than this? Every time I go by this place it creeps me out. It's actually a manse house, but the church was destroyed in the war and has now been replaced with a 50's apartment block. I think the owners surely know it looks like it belongs to the Scooby Doo set-why else paint it the colour it is? If it were on a hill, it would be prime locaton for Norman Bates. But I like it!

I'd quite like big brother to film a series in a place like this. Just imagine the possibilities for frightening the housemates. I know the theme has been done on movies such as My Little Eye. Whilst I'm not advocating a snuff movie by any accounts (!) a creepy halloween BB special would be engrossing, don't you think?. It blends Most Haunted, which by all accounts (well, at least the "exclusive to Woolworths" DVDs) is a cable channel success, with the now conventional housemate format.

But spooky.

Getting back to the subject of the Scooby Doo mansion, whilst it looks as if it's inhabited, I've never seen any sign of life around it. Maybe, if I build up the courage I can send mon C out there one very early morning, to catch the curtain peeling back to reveal a glimpse of something even more suburbanly preternatural.

p.s. I should have said...it's just around the corner from us.

Holiday Almost Over

Well, the week is almost done. At least psychologically I don't have to deal with returning to the office on Monday. It's a public holiday. But what a bummer. I was off for 5 days and on 4 out of the five days I was contacted by the office to deal with work related issues. I suspect the only reason Friday was contact free was because I had my phone switched off.

The weather wasn't great. There were some sunny moments, but it seemed to rain so much. I did catch a weather forecast earlier in the week which suggested we had had 40% of the average May rainfall already. I guess we've caught up quite a bit.

Anyway here's a moment when I caught a little ray of sunshine. I love London's skyline. I love seeing the Swiss Re tower (aka the Gherkin) behind the tower of London, when looking at it from Tower Bridge. I love seeing it behind St Paul's Cathederal too. It's an eclectic mix.



Like Gay Boy In London I also love being by the river. There is something soothing and reassuring about it. I suspect that part of the reason for me finding it so is that I was brought up in a seaside city. From my parents home I could see the sea, which I usually saw most days when I was growing up. Of a weekend as I was older, I'd often meet friends for coffee, lunch on the beachfront.

Aberdeen has a beautiful stretch of beach. A proper beach too. Golden sand. Not a pebble beach. On the outskirts of the city there were even bigger beaches, with miles of sand dunes. The only drawback was that we didn't often get the weather to take advantage of the beach. When we did it was great, and the water was...bearable, for the North Sea.

In fact, it's a funny thing. Miles off the coast of Aberdeen you have oilfields being exploited by industrious oil rigs. Before you can work on a rig you have to take an offshore survival course. Every person is given a survival suit in case they have to evacuate into the water. Without it you are expected to last somewhere between 3-10 minutes. Meanwhile, onshore at the beach you have hardy parent's telling their children not to be so weak minded and to just get in for a swim!

Friday, May 26, 2006

New Chair

If my postings tend to be full of typos, and lacking links, then chances are I'm creating the entry on the Mac PowerBook which is in our main room. If it's slightly more accurate then I may be using the Viao in the bedroom, or else posting from the office.

The mac sits on a little bar top on a shelf/display unit, in the "kitchen" corner of the open plan living area. I usually either stand to type or else take the notebook onto the sofa while I watch telly. However C tends to pull over a dining chair and crouch on that.

I thought it might be more comfortable to get a bar type stool to fit in the corner, so each of us can comfortably sit when using the mac.

We got a cute and simple looking chocolate coloured bar chair from John Lewis. It's just arrived and I was able to assemble it in just about 2 minutes. It's nice to have this further option to sit here and type.

Incidentally, the wireless internet in the front part of the flat runs off my downstairs neighbour's connection. The bedroom runs off ours!

Showtunes Dad

Mon C and I were at the Queens Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue last night to see Les Miserables. C had never seen it before. I’ve been quite a few times since first seeing it at the Palace Theatre in London in February 1992.

I love observing and listening to a theatre audience. Mon C and I were in row C of the orchestra stalls, just off the centre to stage right. We had some Dutch people in the row behind further right than us, an American family immediately behind us, two Spanish women to my left and two young French couples in front of us.

The American family were good value. (Loganberrry just loves American tourists). Father, son (probably 16-19), mother and daughter (say a couple of years younger than her sibling). Father sits next to son (immediately behind me), who is next to sister next to Mom.

I noticed them before they took their seats. They were among the last people to sit before the show started. We were in the 3rd row from the front. Row C. In row A there were two free seats. In row B there were two free seats immediately behind those in row A. There were no free seats in our row, but immediately behind us in row D there were 4 free seats together. Father looked at his 4 tickets and at rows A and B. They checked the seat numbers on those empty seats split between rows A and B. They looked at their tickets again. Then I heard Mom explain to Dad that there were no free seats in row C.

They then decided to count the rows. They figured row D (behind us) was the fourth from the front and father moved in past the rest of the seated row to check the seat numbers before telling the rest of his family that they were good for them. I guess it was a challenge to work out that the only 4 empty seats together in around 10 rows of seats were the 4 consecutively numbered tickets they had purchased and ergo their seats.

Before the start of the show, father is explaining the story to son. “Les Miserables-that’s a French word [sic] isn’t it Dad?”

“I believe so.”

It’s reassuring to know Americans are in charge.

And before long Dad was explaining to his son who the characters were, the songs they sung and why they sung them. He was well informed about Fantine’s “I Dreamed A Dream”. He even knew that Patty LuPone sings it on the recording of “Les Mis” he plays in the car. He seemed equally keen on Eponine’s “On My Own”. Then he told his son how he used to sing the Valjean/Javert confrontation when he was at college.

In fact he was remarkably well informed about the Les Miserables' songs. It seemed it was his CD of choice on long drives…

But the best revelation was yet to come...when he got round to commending Carol Channing’s “Hello Dolly” recordings. I don’t know how he got on to it, but I just had to turn round and steal a glimpse of him.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Look What Happened To Mack And Mabel

Yesterday morning mon C and I were up early and off to TKTS, the official theatre of London society half price ticket booth, at Canary Wharf. I usually go to the Leicester Square one, but Canary Wharf is slightly easier to get to, and I guessed there wouldn't be the same number of tourists around. And I was right! It's great. Opened at 10am sharp and served straight away. A dearth of American tourists, so no "standing in line" required. It's the same selection of tickets as is available at Leicester Square.

My preference was to go see Phantom, but I'm fussy about where I will sit. There were orchestra stalls seats available, but not my favourites. So, as we have two performances today, I figured we would wait and try today just to see if better seats are available.

Not wanting to leave empty handed we took tickets to go see Mack & Mabel at the Criterion. I'd never been to the Criterion before. It's on Piccadilly Circus, and somewhat subterranean!

I rather like M&M. It's a musical theatre aficionados' musical. Written by Jerry Herman who also penned Hello Dolly, Mame and La Cage Aux Folles, all of which enjoyed great success, it was a bit of a flop when it opened on Broadway (sometime around 1974 I think). Even although it starred Bernadette Peters.

It came to the attention of the great British public when Torvill and Dean used the music from it for their World Championship winning routine. There was a concert staging in the Albert Hall sometime many years ago, and a short lived revival in the west end a little after that starring Caroline O'Connor. But it's never really worked...

Until now. This production (with David Soul and Janie Dee) is directed by John Doyle. The book has been revised and the score re-orchestrated with Herman's approval. The story, still comedic, is much darker and becomes a tragedy, more focused on the love story between the two main characters, Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand, than before. Mack Sennett was the creator of the Keystone Cops and Mabel Normand one of the original silent Hollywood stars he discovered and made.

As with his production of Sweeney Todd (still running to huge acclaim and still fullish houses on Broadway with Patti LuPone), most of the actors play the instruments on stage. It works extremely well, and in fact I started understanding something more about the connection between the performers and the music, though I'm not quite yet sure what it was!

The production feels trimmer, but much more intimate for the sake of it, and the tragedy really happens. What really works, and I'm sure that I hadn't seen the song being staged this way before, is the ending where Mack tells us how the story would have ended had it been one of his movies (I Promise You A Happy Ending). The song has always been there, but from memory just as a reminisence, a slightly bitter sweet ending. This time, by showing us how it should have ended had he been able to vocalise his love for Mabel, had it been his ending, he suggests the alcoholism and her addiction to narcotics which contributed to her early death would not have been Mabel's fate. Instead they would have been together...On stage he directs her to happiness in stark contrast to the sad demise she has just suffered.

The Celebrity Spot

Well, it's been a while, but over the past couple of days there's been some activity. I mention "celebs", but these days, who isn't?

On Sunday rushing up from Covent Garden just past the tube as we were heading down to Covent Garden was the dwarfish Linda Robinson (the blondish one from Birds of a Feather). I think that is her name, but as I'm not terribly excited by her I'm just logging it for the record without bothering to check if have her name right.

Yesterday (and this one I am proud of, because I'm sure many people wouldn't have recognised or known who it was), in American Retro on Old Compton Street was Patricia Quinn (The Rocky Horror Show's original and movie Magenta). She stepped on my toe. She was loud, gravel voiced, wearing big glasses and had short curly orange hair. Very made up in the way one tries to disguise ageing.

Then later on Old Compton Street, marching purposefully in front of us as we were enjoying cocktails we spotted Peter Tatchell.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Oh Lordi

As soon as I know the dates for Helsinki 2007 I'm going to book flights. I'm definitely, definitely going to do Eurovision 2007 in the flesh. I think last night breathed some life into the contest, and pretty sweet that Hard Rock Hallelujah won. Perhaps the focus will become the whole package/performance rather than the song. I must remind myself where that Irish ballad finished (probably ahead of the UK), but that kind of song is long past the sell by, in my opinion.

So what can we look forward to next year? Some Morris Dancing Folk stuff from Britain? Some red spikey haired hunchback a la Notre Dame de Paris for France? And perhaps Germany will get over their reluctance to choose the uniform that fits! What was with that Brokeback look?

The four of us did very poorly in terms of predicting our top 5. The closest was J who had Russia in his top 5. My top 5 winner prediction included Greece, Switzerland, Norway and a couple of others I've forgotten already. But my top 3 wishlist of who I wanted to win was Lithania, Finland and Croatia.

Living with mon C though is like Eurovision every day. This morning I've been listening to Fangoria (I had to put on the Archers eventually), and he is a big fan of Anna Vissi, so I'll be hearing more of her no doubt.

Anyway, we're off to buy some Aussiebum.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Eurovision Night

We got back from Glasgw safe and sound. What fun it was. The sun was shining and we were partying on the deck of the Clyde's Tall SHip, before going down bellow for a fine dinner. It was so nice to see so many of my friends again, all in one place (altough there were some notable absentees).

The next morning and the day after I was rather stiff-and realised this was down to my getting jiggy on the dance floor. Take That have a lot to answewr for!!

Otherwise the week has been unremarkable. Stressed out again at work, which means I'm regularly waking up at 4am, and finding it difficult to sleep again. I'm on holiday now however, so apart from having to deal with some unavoidable phonecalls and trying to ignore the crackberry, I'll be focussing on other things.

My plan is to cram in as much tourist stuff in London. On Monday we'll head off to Canary Wharf to go to TKTS half price booth to see if I can get tickets for Phantom (mon C has never seen it). If we can't get particularly good seats we'll get tix for something else and try Phantom again on Tues (when it has the matinee). I've tickets already for Les Mis on Thursday, so hoping it's a good cast.

I want to go to the Ice Space, maybe have a vodka there. C has never been to Greenwhich, so we can tag that on to our Canary Wharf trip. He also wants to see Hampton Court. If we get a fine day we'll be off there. The gardens are stunning and best enjoyed on a sunny day.

We did have a Eurovision party to go to tonight, but it was cancelled. So instead we are going round to my friend J for dinner drinks and Eurovision fun. I'm so glad the Finish enrty made it through the semi final. I think Lithuania might do rather well.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Jsi Muj Pan

Mon C arrived back home safe and sound last night. After encouraging fellow passangers to kick up a fuss, the airline bussed them back to Shanghai. It took 5 hours, but he still had 2 hours to make his flight to Paris. And the next day he was back home in London.

Today the sun was shining. I have Friday and Monday off work. We ambled around. Had a lazy lunch in the sun, a framboise in the afternoon, and now he's having a snooze, while I'm sipping a glass of champagne.

We're flying up to Glasgow tomorrow. His first time in Scotland. We're staying in a hotel on the Clyde. The party tomorrow night is on a boat on the Clyde. It will be so good to catch up with my friends again. Most of them I haven't seen since February last year, but with real friends the passing of time between reunions isn't an issue. It's just like we saw each other in lectures or in the library the day before.

It's the first time they will have met mon C. For more than the last 7 years it's been me and S. But I'm sure it won't be a problem for any of them. After all they are my friends.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On Target

What a relief. End of year financials were published at work yesterday. I have exceeded all my targets. My billing is 10% greater than my target, and my utilisation 101%: my chargeable hours for the year are 1,575.5 (that's equivalent to 225 days of 7 chargeable hours per day) against a target of 1,560. 365 days a year, less 104 weekend days, leaves 261 days. So 36 days made up of leave and bank holidays. I'm happy enough.

Where In The World

After five and a half weeks in China mon C is due back in London tomorrow, via Paris. Right now he should be on a plane from Shanghai to Paris...except that last night he phoned me briefly at 8pm London time, it was a bad line. He was flying from somewhere in Canton to Shanghai to connect with his flight to Paris, leaving Shanghai 11am local time. But the flight he was on had been diverted because of bad weather. He didn't know where he was or how he could get to Shanghai. There was a train, but not until the morning, and which would mean he would miss his flight.

I never heard from him again. So

(a) has he disappeared lost in China
(b) has he made his flight, and his phone is switched off
(c) has his battery run out and he's struggling to make it back to Paris still?

What a disaster if he's not going to be back tomorrow. It's been too long. I had planned Friday and Monday off work, and we're flying up to Glasgow on Saturday morning for a party. Will he make it back for that?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Introducing Emma Peel II

So good you got it twice. Oops. Sorted.

And doesn't Dr Who just get better and better? Next week Cybermen. I'll be in Glasgow, but I'm not going to the party until after!!

Is it just my imagination or is Doctor Who far more cerebral this year?

ahoj.

Well something's lost but something's gained

I met mon C while he was with a guy he had lived with for over 5 years. We met a few times and talked (and chatted) quite a bit before the decision was made that he would leave his bf for me. It was the reverse, almost, of the situation which I had experienced with S, my former partner of over 7 years. How could I not empathise?

Throughout this period I was always aware of how C's partner would be feeling at any given time. I would think of him turning over events in his mind...what he could have done to keep his C. To make things better. To make things permanent. The regrets, the mistakes. All the things that I couldn't help thinking about when S and I drifted apart and he decided to see someone else.

Today was his last day in London, before he returned home, where he lived before he moved to London to be with C. For him loosing his partner also meant loosing his home, his life in London.

I don't see myself as a winner. It was never a competition. When I met mon C neither of us knew that this would happen. And yet we connected so, so quickly. Even after our first meeting it was obvious that we had gone somewhere neither of us had intended. I choose to spend my birthday in C's company. It was a special birthday.

Responsibility comes with rights. Our right to happiness together bears the responsibility for the distress of another whose life has fallen apart.

Perhaps, and I suspect it is so, in his head he knew that things were over with C. But leaving the comfort of a lover and friend is not easy, and in the heart it's so much easier to go on.

He found out my email details and emailed me a few times. Should I have replied or ignored him?

Today he left London. Before he left he left us a gift. With a dedication. And an instruction. To look after C.

His gift was a CD by Joni Mitchell, not someone I'd choose to listen to. Unusually his dedication was written well inside the CD booklet. On a track which must have been a deliberate choice. I suspect that for him it is loaded with meaning. For him, and did he know...for us all?

"...but now old friends they're acting strange...well something's lost but something's gained...".

The song? Both Sides Now.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Simba-osis

Work is still stressing me out, but I sense I'm almost on the home stretch with Project Eden. Next weekend I'm planning on taking my Good Friday given that mon C is back in town. But tonight I had a break from routine. A trip to the theatre to see the Lion King.

It's a show that have thus far avoided.I'm not a fan of Disney, and less so of Dame Elton John. I pay attention to the positive notes which LK gets. And the show was exactly as expected. The set, lighting and costume (including puppetry) are the stars.

The music and performances, however, were in my view devoid of emotional content. Diction was generally poor, so I missed so much of what was being sung about. And the adult Simba and mate were very throaty. But it is lush to look at and worth a trip-if only once-to enjoy.

By coincidence I happened to end up sitting beside some good company. Which was very pleasant.

Introducing Emma Peel

I have been asked to consider-and source the evidence for-the likelihood of sexual relations between John Steed and Mrs Emma Peel, over the 3 years that they worked together. Undoubtedly there was chemistry between them. The stylish, unhurried manner which they investigated increasingly strange cases bears that out.

Emma surely knew a great deal about Steed and his tastes-that he liked caviar, quails eggs, asparagus and cheese. He enjoyed her brand of coffee. She herself admitted her ideal partner as a mature man of culture and intelligence, with stamina and independent means.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sentimental Sensitivity

I am a sensitive man. I must be. It has felt a very emotional weekend, and sometimes I just can't work out why. There are experiences which are the catalyst. But just that. The cause, not the reason.

I can give a very straightforward example. For fear of sounding like a geek...but hey, if I can't open up here, I'm not being true to myself.

You probably guessed I am a Doctor Who fan. I loved the Pertwee/Baker years. It's something I attach to my childhood. Formative, special years. I remember watching it as a child with my family. I gauge certain experences/events/feelings by certain Dr Who episodes. There's one story in particular (a rather unremarkable one) that takes me back to being at home, with my family on a cold winter evening before we went out to bonfire night. And I guess that is why it is really special to me. It takes me home. Every time I watch it.

I vaguely remember Pertwee/Jo grant. Then Pertwee/Sarah Jane, into the glory gothic years of Tom Baker and Sarah Jane Smith.

I began to become disinterested in Doctor Who in the late 80's especially with that terrible combination of McCock and Aldred. What a watse. I liked what the script editor was trying to do building a bridge, an arc, but it was totally lost on me, obscured by the totally crap acting of the McCoy Aldred combination.

When we had the premiere last year filing a 16 year gap (McGann excepted) I threw a champagne party. I knew Billy Piper would be a fantastic counter to heavyweight Chris Eccleston. But the writing was king. That's what happens of having devoted fans in the industry being in charge. This year has been just as good...if not better.

Last night blew me away. Sarah Jane was my childhood. I remember her 18 adventures intimately. Every week. I remember feeling sad when she left. But how truthful and emotional was last night? OK it's fiction, it's not true. But we escape. We go into the fantasy of it and live it.

But Sarah Jane had to acknowledge she was 30 years older, she had to let go. She had to move on. Let go of the love that was real for her.

Haven't we all.

I said I couldn't put my finger on it. But part of it is the allegory. For sure

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