Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Who dear? Me dear? Gay dear? NO dear.

Tonight was the last episode in the current series of the "Catherine Tate show." Shame. The series seems to have whizzed by and six weeks is just not enough!!

Ms Tate is not everyone's cup of tea and I will concede that some of her sketches occasionally miss their mark. But most of them are pretty good and have me giggling away. Catherine's main strength is an amazing ability to portray a wide variety of characters who are incredibly well-observed, from the foul-mouthed Nan to Lauren, the ghetto girl with attitude. There's also a very "off the wall" quality about the characters and situations that she depicts, which makes for some very dark, almost unsettling comedy. One of my fellow bloggers, Flaming Nora likes Catherine Tate too (in particular Bernie the oddball nurse) but I can't seem to find the post where she wrote about her...

Anyhow, tonight's episode contained some gems. In the first sketch, we saw teenage monstress Lauren attempting to get hitched to Ryan, her teenage boyfriend, in a hilariously tacky wedding ceremony. Actually I thought she looked quite nice in a decorative pink wedding gown (unusually tasteful for the character) but this was amusingly offset as she and her bridesmaid mate danced down the aisle to gangsta-style music. Even funnier was the bit when Lauren sung "My Heart Will Go On" (the slushy Titanic theme song) to Ryan in a spectacularly out-of-tune voice. Predictably, everything went pear-shaped and Lauren and Ryan didn't get to tie the knot, leaving her insulting the female vicar by asking her if she is a pre-op transexual and "Are you Arthur or Martha?" However the apparently prim vicar had the last word, branding Lauren a "F*ckwit". Brilliant stuff.

Derek Faye is another of my favourite characters, a highly effeminate, camp and closeted gay man who becomes ultra-defensive and hostile when questioned about his sexuality. His token catchphrases are "Who dear? Me dear? Gay dear? No dear" and "How VERY dare you". There was a funny sketch a couple of weeks back, in which Derek and his "friend" Leonard Mincing, wait outside a theatre to receive Bonnie Langford's autograph. Accustomed to having hordes of fans who also happen to be queens (surely it can't be true?) Bonnie provokes Derek's wrath by assuming that he and Leonard are an item. Another amusing scene featured Derek at a female relative's wedding. The bride asks when he and "Uncle Leonard" will be going in for "one of those civil partnerships, now that they're legal?" To which Derek replies: " Do you assume, dear, that I journey up the chocolate escalator? How VERY dare you". He then proceeds to dance YMCA-style back to the wedding party. This week, we saw Derek being propositioned by a male masseur, who following a massage, asked him if he'd like any "extras". No prizes for guessing Derek's reaction to that one.

Ms Tate is also very good at playing other idiosyncratic, yet strangely familiar characters, like Janice and Ray, the middle-aged couple who do nothing but complain about meals they have in restaurants. This week they were whinging about being forced to eat a prawn and avocado sandwich in Keighley - "The dirty, dirty bastards!!" It's frighteningly spot-on - I'm sure there are people who are genuinely like this, spending all their time rattling on about equally mundane topics.

Finally there was a special treat in the form of actress Sheila Hancock, who made a guest appearance as the long-lost sister of the foul mouthed Nan, wearing a very loudly coloured blouse and lots of bling. Unsuprisingly she was just as vulgar as Nan, saying to the long-suffering nephew: "You at university? F*cking poof!" Both Nan and the sister accused the poor lad of talking too much and then broke into an impromptu version of Chaz and Dave's "Rabbit". A classic I haven't heard for years...

Well here's hoping Catherine will get another series. After three series, I think she's managed to stay pretty fresh; one of her strengths is that she always comes up with new and even more bizarre characters. If truth be told the more long-running characters like Lauren and the Nan are becoming a little repetitive. There's only so far you can go with a character who is based around a particular concept and joke. But I'm sure Ms Tate has more mileage in her yet. She is undoubtedly a gifted and talented comedienne. AND she's appearing in the Dr Who Special this Christmas!! What a f*cking liberty!!

Let's get physical

Last night I went to the gym. And tonight as well. It's been a while since I've gone, due to a case of mild-flu before that didn't exactly make me feel like exerting myself. But now I'm better and back in action.

To tell the truth though I do find going down the gym a bit of a chore. I've never been the most sporty of people, although (rather paradoxically) I do quite like exercise and appreciate all of its benefits. I used to cycle to work until my bike got stolen. I do lots of cardiovascular stuff at the gym, like going on the treadmill and exercise bike and doing sit-ups, and I definitely feel better for that. It's the psyching myself up to do it and then sticking at it that I find so bloody hard. Sometimes I really have to force myself to go and usually take my gym stuff to work with me so I know I can head straight there afterwards. If I went home first to get my "kit", I'd most probably give in to the temptation to crash on the couch, eat chocolate and watch trashy television (my personal idea of heaven). Also my MP3 player is currently broken which is a bummer. I find music a great motivator, particularly my favourite tunes, and having to endure the running machine without decent music is rather hard going. It sounds silly but when you're on an exercise machine with nothing to do but actually exercise, it's pretty boring. The exercise bike is best because at least I can read on that.

Okay, enough moaning. Like I said, one must focus on the benefits. At least I can say that I don't resemble the guy in photo numero one (above). Thanks to all this exercise, I'm looking soooo much more like the fella in photo numero two. Well, almost.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Her Madgesty

Last night my hubbie and I were tres pleased to be watching the televised version of Madonna's "Confessions" concert, live from London. Yes, we are both Madge fans. I agree that the idolatory and iconic status that gets heaped upon her by devotees (a large perecentage of whom are gay men) is a bit OTT at times. Her singing voice, although greatly improved over the years, is not brilliant. I can also well believe all the stories about her being a complete and utter cow, using and exploiting people every which way and f*cking all and sundry (literally and metaphorically) in order to advance her career. Interviews and quotes from others have revealed Madonna to be an ultra-calculating person and power freak who does not suffer fools gladly. A diva in the truest sense of the word.

However, whatever her own personal shortcomings, Madonna's achievements as a pop artiste and perfomer are undeniable and I've been a fan of her music since my teenage years. "Holiday" was one of the first ever singles I bought and I still have my copy somewhere. (My that ages me doesn't it...) Madonna has maintained an uncanny knack for knocking out a damn good pop tune and whilst she did start out producing some fairly disposable, throwaway stuff, she has matured stylistically over time. She's had the sense to keep changing her sound and look whilst somehow holding onto her own sense of uniqueness, the hallmark of a truly enduring artiste. Of course it could easily be argued that this is down to the writers and producers that she's worked with over the years - William Orbit, Mirwais, Stuart Price etc - all of whom have surely enabled her to stay on the cutting edge musically.

Anyway I'm waffling somewhat. As I said one of Madonna's major strengths is as a performer and her live concerts are legendary - dazzling, energetic, theatrical, camp and ultra-inventive with amazing costumes, sets and choreography. Not to mention lashings of lasciviousness and erotica - Madge has always been renowned for her onstage saucy shenanigans. And having never seen her play live, it was always a dream of mine to go to one of her concerts. So last Summer, being the ultra-thoughtful fellow that I am, I finally purchased two tickets to the "Confessions" tour for me and Gustavo! I was besides myself with excitement! Yes I could just about justify the extortionate ticket price and the heart-attack-inducing stress that I went through purchasing them on the internet. After all, Madge is nearly 50 years old, and so this could be one of her last ever tours before she finally hangs up her sequinned leotard... So last August, Gustavo and I headed off to Wembley to see her live and we had a fabulous time. We had quite good seats too.

Hence seeing the concert again last night was a great opportunity to re-live the experience (even if viewing it on a TV screen isn't quite the same as actually being there). The "Confessions" tour bursts with creativity and is split into four sections in which Madonna exhibits a different look / musical style: Equestrian, Religious, Punk, Disco. And here are some of the highlights (well my favourites bits anyway):

"Future Lovers / I Feel Love". The concert opener. A giant mirrorball descends from the ceiling, then opens up to reveal Madonna, dressed in kinky riding gear - jodphurs, boots, riding hat with horse-hair tail and whip. The segue into "I Feel Love" (the old Donna Summer classic) works really well and there's a throbbing, hynoptic electronic sound to the whole thing. Class.

"Live To Tell". Always one of my favourite Madge ballads, she sings this one whilst strapped to giant mirrored cross, wearing a crown of thorns. In the background facts and figures about the impact of AIDS appear on video screens.

"Music / Disco Inferno". A totally brilliant and inspired fusion of the Madonna song and the old Trammps disco classic. Rollerskaters perform death-defying stunts whilst Madonna appears on a video screen in a red shimmery disco dress and as a Charlie's Angels-style silhouette. Then real-life Madge appears, flanked by two female dancers, all of them dressed in John Travolta-style white flared suits. Whilst the rollerskaters continue to zoom all over the stage, Mrs Ritchie throws lots of disco moves, the whole thing being an updated homage to "Saturday Night Fever". The mash-up of the two songs works perfectly and is my favourite, jump-up-out-of-your-seat-and-boogie-moment from the concert. I really hope it comes out on CD!

"Hung up". A thrilling finale to the show with Madonna in glittery purple leotard, leggings and shades, hyping the crowd up to the max.

All in all, a stunning show and I can't wait for it to be released on DVD. Even the non-Madonna fans amongst you would be amazed by it, mark my words. And she shows no signs of flagging so maybe she won't be hanging up her concert cap just yet, in spite of my earlier suppositions. Perhaps we will get to see her performing "Erotica" in a zimmer frame after all. It could put a whole new kinky spin on being an OAP.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The winner takes it all

I've been exceptionally lazy today and got up at a ridiculous time. Well, it is Sunday. I was going to go to Oxford Street and do a spot of Xmas shopping but in the end couldn't face it. There's still time to pick up all those additional pressies anyway. I will probably venture there one night after work, soon. Procrastinator? Moi?

This afternoon whilst doing the ironing I caught "ABBA: The Reunion" on ITV. Seeing / hearing many of their songs again reminded me of what a brilliant group they were. Still are, in fact. I'm not one of those nostalgic, crusty types who believes that only those music bands / artistes of the past are any good and all current stuff is cr*p (despite being an old cheeser). However I do think that few bands around today can surpass the impact or achievement of ABBA. They produced some of the most superior pop songs ever. Stirring melodies, memorable hooks and incredible harmonising from the ladies (Agnetha and Frida). They could knock out a mean dance tune - Dancing Queen, Take A Chance On Me, Gimme Gimme Gimme - or a fabulous ballad - Fernando, The Name of The Game, The Day Before You Came. There were the hard to categorise tracks, like Money, Money, Money - not really disco, not a ballad, but brilliant in its balminess nevertheless. And then there were the tragedy-themed ones. Knowing Me, Knowing You and The Winner Takes It All are undisputed classics of the "relationship break-up" song, and have been embraced by gay men, divas and tragedy queens world-wide. Many of ABBA's videos are also seared in the public consciousness, including the one for The Winner Takes It All which featured Agnetha's highly prominent blue eye-shadow (see above). Admittedly, there were a few clangers in the ABBA catalogue - Chiquitita and I Have a Dream are both of the gut-wrenchingly twee variety, the former featuring a naff clap-a-long melody and the latter a horrible kiddie choir. Bleugh. However these were mere trangressions in the otherwise impeccable musical output of the Swedish supergroup. Also, unlike some bands, ABBA's album tracks were often as strong as their singles - When I Kissed The Teacher; That's Me; Tiger; Eagle; As Good As New; Happy New Year and The Piper being some of my personal favourites.

The centre-piece of the Reunion programme was (unsurprisingly) an attempt to re-unite the four band members for an appearance at the "Mamma Mia" tribute musical in London. Unfortunately Agnetha is something of a recluse these days and has a fear of flying, and so sadly didn't make it. Frida has turned into a platinum blonde, a look I'm not sure about (she was always the brunette of the band). Benny and Bjorn were looking in pretty good shape though.

Anyway once the programme finished I couldn't resist sticking on my ABBA CDs for old times' sake and have been listening to their back catalogue for the rest of the day. Wonderful and rousing stuff. Sadly I've got no blue eye-shadow to accompany the experience.

Friday, November 24, 2006


I am on leave both today and Monday. Hoorah!! So nice not to be at work and to fall out of my bed when I feel like it. And even nicer to have an extended weekend break. I intend on having a "pottering" day today, just taking it easy and doing things at my own pace. I may head into town to do a spot of Xmas shopping this afternoon, as I have to start this at some point. Not sure I can cope with the stress though. These days it's far easier to get everything you want via the internet, which makes life so much better for lazy oiks like me...

Anyway, lest you are wondering what the title of this post refers to, it's how a friend of mine described the character of Owen Harper from "Torchwood". That's him above. My good pal and I had a fun email discussion with regards to the merits / non-merits of the aforementioned Owen, with me taking the stance that he was reasonably sexy (in a non-obvious kind of way) and my friend arguing that he wasn't sexy atall - "unless you find lipless, toad-faced people atttractive". He he he. In fact if you look at the picture, I have to concede there is a certain amphibian-like quality about Owen. On a comparative scale, Captain Jack and Ianto are much better-looking and more shaggable, although Owen does have rather a nice body (going by the glimpses we got of him in the nude before, mmm...). Anyway more on toad-face in a bit...

Unfortunately, since watching the latest "T-Wood" episode, "Countrycide", the other night, my estimation of the show is starting to plumet. Rapidly. So far the programme has contained enough elements to make it watchable, but it's certainly no masterpiece and seems flawed in many respects. To put it simply, I thought "Countycide" was nothing less than a pile of old pantaloonies.

In this episode the team investigate a series of gruesome deaths in a tiny village in the Brecon Beacons. However (SPOILER ALERT!) it turns out that the cause of the deaths isn't an alien creature but ... human cannibals ...!! This "revelation" toward the end of the episode was anti-climatic to say the least and made it the least sci-fi / fantasy-oriented of the stories in the series so far. I mean, cannibals in a deserted village? So what?? Okay, so technically I suppose one could argue that cannibals are "different" to your average human being in terms of tastes and lifestyle, and so might be classed as "alien". But on the whole - not a very imaginative or well-thought up concept. There was also a conspicuous lack of back-story. How long had these people existed in the village? And more importantly, why had they become cannibals? All we got was a cursory "Because it makes me happy" comment from the guy at the end, which okay, was a bit sinister, but also a cop-out i.e. askewed any significant or meaningful explanation.

The whole episode as a whole was a run-around in the countryside without much depth. There were a few tense moments, but this was just the stock stuff of any generic horror movie. Admittedly, setting the episode in the Brecon Beacons made a change from the claustrophobia of the "Hub", but then again, the previous week's offering "Small Worlds" took place in other locations too, and that episode was considerably higher in quality. What it comes down to is the difference in writing and presentation of ideas, and "Small Worlds" fared so much better in these areas.

Character development was pretty cr*p - after several weeks I'm still finding it hard to care about the Torchwood team. Toshiko is a virtual non-entity. Why was Ianto, normally assigned to look after the "shopfront" of the Torchwood hub, allowed to join the team on the outing? And ... getting back to the subject of old toad-face, the Gwen-Owen thing just seems ridiculous. My friend commented that the scene in the wood, where Owen forces himself on Gwen and pushes her against a tree, was disturbing, on a par with rape / sexual harrassment, and I have to agree. What seemed particularly unrealistic was how quickly Gwen gave in to Owen's demands, regardless of the fact that she already has a boyfriend. By the end of the episode she and Owen are clearly shagging. You slut, Gwen! What about poor old Rhys? What about morality and having a conscience?? Up until that point I'd quite liked Gwen's character but I'm not so sure now. By the end of Series One she'll probably have shagged everyone in the Hub (including the pterodactyl). Besides all that, I really don't think there has been any sufficient character development in previous episodes to suggest a growth in Gwen's relationship with Owen. It's just kind of happened, which to me seems wholly unrealistic, unless lying on top of one another when stuck in a cupboard (see "Cyberwoman") suddenly constitutes a relationship?? (Well it might do if you're on the gay scene, ha ha).

Okay, that's my rant now officially over boys and girls! Like my friend Stephen who has similar misgivings about the show, I will continue to soldier on and watch it, in the hope that things will improve. At least we've got the Sarah-Jane spin-off to look forward to, although as this will be broadcast as part of CBBC, I am already worried that there will be too much of a kiddie-emphasis. Elisabeth Sladen is such a brilliant actress and deserves decent material to work with, not childish pap. Time will tell ...

Right. Must drag myself away from this computer and do something. Like step outside the flat ..... nooooo!!

Have a good one and don't be a tart like Gwen. It'll only end in tears and your partner wouldn't appreciate it one little bit, you know.

OC xx

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


The BBC has just published a few teaser pictures for its forthcoming Dr Who Xmas special - hoorah!! And here they are:

Rather nice eh?? The TARDIS looks especially cute, festooned in wrapping paper. What a wonderful present that would make! And Dr Who + Xmas = a rather wonderful prospect / equation!!

But hang on ... what's that rather sinister looking spider-thing wrapping itself around the TARDIS ... ?? All will be revealed ...

I'm still suffering from a bloody cold / cough, which insists in clinging on. Grrrr. Still , by the time I'm sat on the sofa on Xmas Day, glass of egg nog in one hand and TV remote control in the other (watching the aforementioned special) I shall undoubtedly be in the peak of good health. At least I'm getting the germs bit out of the way now.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I've had bit of a cold/cough the last few days which has left me feeling rather under the weather. Ugh! Hopefully that's my dose of flu done with for the whole winter. Generally I have good health and don't get flu bugs very often. I am also having a flu immunisation jab in a week or so at work, which will undoubtedly help. Although I don't like needles very much, big sissy that I am.

My hubbie is feeling slightly run down too, having worked nearly two weeks without a day off from work - poor guy. So we've been mainly taking it easy this weekend.

Yesterday we went to my Sikh friend's wedding (the one whose stag night I went on the weekend before). It was great to be there but one heck of a journey for us i.e. he was getting married at a temple in Colindale in North London and we live in the South, near the end of the Northern Line, so it was a long haul. You might think that doesn't sound bad, as surely it's common for relatives and friends to travel long distances for a wedding. However it's traditional for Sikh weddings to be held in the morning and this one was at 9.30am!! Hence we had to drag ourselves out of bed at some un-godly hour, which was as bad as getting up for work during the week. And I cherish my weekends, having the chance for a lie-in.

Then once we got there, my friend and his bride arrived about an hour late!! Pah! Okay, I am starting to sound like a real whinging ninny now, so I will cease ... Anyway, it was very interesting to witness a wedding from a different culture. My friend and his bride looked amazing, dressed in traditional Indian attire. The bride was especially gorgeous in a red, sequinned dress with bangles and hennae tattoos - lovely. The ceremony itself was spoken almost entirely in an Indian dialect (Punjabi I think) which meant it was virtually impossible to understand what was being said / going on. A shame no translations were provided as I would have loved to have known and to half the people there it must have been a bit meaningless. At a rough guess much of the ceremony involved the normal exchange of wedding vows. There was also a rather groovy trio of Sikh gentlemen playing accompanying Indian music with bongos etc. Afterwards we all partook of Langar, Indian food.

There was no evening reception but a few of us were keen to find a pub. We treked to Kingsbury and found somewhere there, which turned out to be a bit of a dive, full of sour-faced and obese people - yuk. Gustavo and I had a couple of drinks and then made our excuses and headed home.

The rest of the weekend we've been veging at home - although we went out for a walk to the local park today for a breath of fresh air. It was slightly chilly but nice and sunny - I love that kind of crisp, Autumnal weather, although best not to stay out for too long when one has a cold ... Anyhow, we'll probably watch a couple more episodes of the US version of "Queer as Folk" tonight - we're currently viewing the Third series - it's good stuff!! Just as well, as weekend TV is really cr*p and limited at the moment - naff game shows etc - what happened to decent movies / comedies / dramas? I'm not imagining this am I? I think I'm going to buy a digital box soon as they're not expensive and terrestial TV seems so rubbish. One must widen one's scope!

Hope you're all having a pleasant weekend - what's left of it anyway!

Incidentally I don't have any pictures of the wedding available yet, but I will put some online as soon as they've been developed (along with some stag night ones - carefully edited of course!!)

OC xx

Friday, November 17, 2006


I thought this week's "Torchwood" episode, "Small Worlds", was probably the best in the series yet. It was written by Peter J Hammond, who also created "Sapphire and Steel", one of my favourite ever fantasy serials. "Small Worlds" had a similar feel to "S & S" and was a rather eerie tale of fairies appearing in some local woods in Cardiff. However these fairies are far from good or innocent and periodically visit to take a "chosen one" i.e. a human being who has been selected to become one of their number, in this case, a young girl called Jasmine. The fairies will kill anyone who tries to harm the chosen one or stand in the way of their mission and throughout the story we see a number of their human opponents dying in a nasty fashion - suffocated by rose petals! At the end of the story Captain Jack is presented with a horrendous choice - allow Jasmine to join the fairies (and so be lost to her mother and normal existence forever) or, the fairies will use their powers to destroy all life on earth. Thinking of the greater good, Jack hands Jasmine over to the fairies and permits them to spirit her away, much to her mother's distress and the disgust of his Torchwood colleagues. But dear God!! What a choice!!

I found the concluding scenes to be tense, moving and well played - the whole difficulty of the choice that Jack had to make, Jasmine's yearning desire to join the fairies and the mother's grief at losing her daughter were all convincing. The scene in which the fairies reek havoc at the barbeque was gripping stuff too. The "real" fairies, as we see them unveiled toward the end, were quite horrible - all green and twisted, evil features - who's to say they must always look angelic and innocent?

The story did a good job of subverting established ideas. Fairies are something we normally associate with childhood and innocence and we tend to think of them of doing good, as in classic kiddies' fables. However "Small Worlds" turned the whole notion on its head, protraying the fairies as a force of harm and destruction. Although, from the little girl's point of view the fairies were her friends - which was rather sinister considering what they were up to and it also wasn't really explained why they had chosen her! Was it because children are more innocent and trusting than adults? And was Jasmine really happy about the fairies going around killing other people, including her step father? Rather problematic and not really addressed. Nevertheless I thought the inversion of the fairies myth and the idea of them breaking through into our world to "kidnap" was a good one. A bit like the first ever Sapphire & Steel story, in which a simple nursery rhyme read by a little girl (Ring a ring o'roses) acts as a trigger that brings evil forces into her family's home, causing her parents to disappear without a trace. I distinctly remember watching that story as a child and being scared sh*tless. When something alien or unknown enters your own surroundings it can be unsettling. And it's even creepier when apparently ordinary things like nursery rhymes and fairies turn out to be not so ordinary after all ....uuughh!

If you want to find out more about Sapphire and Steel try here.

Have a fab weekend.

OC xxx

Down the old Moulin Rouge

Bonjour mes amigos, homosexuals and fruits...yes that is a very bad attempt by me to parlez Francais.

Well I've taken enough time to come back and tell you all my Parisian exploits, haven't I. I'm sure you're all dying to know what I got up to.

The journey started on the Eurostar, which as I said before, is a rather wonderful mode of transport. I accompanied 9 other males on the stag trip, including the (sort of) husband-to-be. We started off the journey in style by cracking open some champagne en route, then proceeded to the buffet car for more drinks and snacks, which was jolly nice. Tres sophisticated! Once we actually arrived in Paris, we went straight to a brasserie that was pre-booked. Had a gorgeous (if expensive) three course meal, including foie gras which was a definite guilty pleasure (If you don't already know, I will refrain from describing how this is made. Needless to say animal lovers would not be happy). Then I had profiteroles for afters, whilst some of the other guys opted for creme brulee. French food is just sooo yummy!

The husband to be was suitably clownish in the restaurant - it doesn't take much to get him drunk being the lightweight that he is and he does have a rather excitable nature, bless him. Our waiter was much amused by him and his dodgy attempts at French. Thankfully we had a couple of fluent speakers amongst us, which definitely helped. We didn't leave the restaurant till about 1am!

Thereafter things got rather frustrating as we didn't seem to be able to make a firm decision on a club to go to and ended up trekking around what seemed like the whole of Paris. We tried a well-known club called "Rex" but the queue outside there was ridiculous and after a while we moved on. In actual fact, the hubbie-to-be kept insisting on going to "Le Queen", the number one gay nightclub in Paris, which was kind of ... alarming. As I kept telling him was his fiance aware of his latent homosexual leanings? Being the ultra-considerate person that I am, I thought that going to a gay club wouldn't really benefit the majority of the group i.e. it would prevent the guys from being able to pull any fit French birds. Another good reason for not going was that it was too far to walk.

Eventually we settled on Pigalle (the red light area) which was pretty tacky and also seemed somewhat dangerous with gangs of thuggish-looking youths hanging about. Again we couldn't seem to decide on a somewhere to go (useless eh?) We did venture inside a sex shop with some interesting "exhibits". Anyway we eventually ended up in a bar/club just a couple of doors along from the Moulin Rouge called "La Loca" (I think - you can just make it out underneath the old Moulin Rogue in the photo above). It was very lively, noisy and crowded and full of trendy young things. Made our way to the dancefloor at the back and had a good dance, which was what I had been waiting for all night!! They were playing some excellent funky house stuff, similar to Bob Sinclar (French house DJ) and Armand Van Helden "My My My". However by that point it was 4.30am and the club shut at 6, so felt a bit cheated!!

Once chucking out time came round, we all trekked up to Montmartre to watch the sun rise (one of the party's ideas). There was a great view over the city but it got cold and the sun seemed to take forever to come up so we gave up on that after a while. Then we headed back to Gare Du Nord and had some breakfast before getting the train.

So a good trip overall although I personally wish we could have found somewhere to settle earlier on. Still I think I may go back again soon, it's so easy to get to Paris and there's loads to see. I think Gustavo would like it.

And we didn't get to humiliate the husband-to-be either, which was a great pity. We had planned on stripping him naked and strapping him to the central column of the Eiffel Tower - unfortunately we didn't get round to that one...

OC xxx

PS My eagle-eyed Mum just read my blog and took issue with my spelling of "foie gras" as "fras grois". So I have corrected it. Thanks Mummy dearest!!

Friday, November 10, 2006

One night in Paris...

...is what I will be very shortly be spending!! (With reference to the above title). Yes, tomorrow I am accompanying a group of guys on a stag night in the aforementioned French capital!! Tres excitement!! A friend of mine is shortly getting spliced. Well, to be precise he's already had a registry office ceremony but as he is Sikh his "proper", traditional wedding is yet to take place. Hence one last night of freedom and debauchery, as it were. Except if he's technically already married, that might have occurred before. Okay it's all getting too complicated now...

Anyway we are due to leave tomorrow from Waterloo on the Eurostar and should arrive in Paris around 8-ish. I love the Eurostar! Such a brilliant invention and it's just amazing how quickly you find yourself zooming through the French countryside, then before you know it, you're right in the heart of the capital. From what I can remember the Parisian nightlife is pretty good too. Admittedly on my previous visit I ended up doing the gay scene and a particularly trendy area called La Marais. This time round I'm hanging out with a group of straight men and I suspect the choice of night-spots will be different. Looks like I will be the honorary fag, as it were. I suppose I feel slightly wary about spending a (very long) night out with a bunch of straight men - there's already been talk of visiting lap dancing clubs and chatting up stunning French birds who resemble "Nicole" from the old Renault adverts (remember?) Not quite my scene. But then again I've no objection to being a fly on the wall and I'm sure watching these guys "in action" will be a tres amusant experience. One has to tolerate these things. Just as long as they don't expect me to participate. I am a happily married 'omosexual after all.

On a similar-ish topic, I've just finished reading "The Devil Wears Prada", the latter part of which takes place in Paris! SPOILER ALERT - Anyone who doesn't want to know the ending, look away now please! The ending was slightly anti-climatic I felt. As I predicted Andrea does the decent thing and finally decides to quit Runway magazine, when imperious ice queen Miranda makes one too many ridiculous demands on her. By an unfortunate (yet ultimately fortunate) turn of events, Andrea's best friend Lily is involved in a bad car accident back in New York. Andrea knows Miranda won't grant her permission to go back home to visit Lily, as she needs her in Paris, attending a series of all-important fashion shows. But finally Andrea sees the light, and in a confrontational moment tells Miranda "F*ck you", before heading back home to where the heart is. The conclusion sees her gaining some freelance journalist work. And she manages to flog all the designer wear she got as a perk whilst at Runway, making a small fortune in the process.

"The Devil Wears Prada" was certainly a far better read than "The Time Traveller's Wife", the last read-it-on-the-way-to-work-novel I struggled through, and a rather over-rated one too. By the end of "Devil" the tone has got rather samey though. What is most disappointing is that ultimately you don't get any real insight into the psychology of Miranda, which is what I was hoping for. After some 380 or so pages of her non-stop bitchy, tyrannical behaviour and moods, you really want to find out what makes her tick. Unfortunately we don't get beneath the surface of Miranda and nothing major is revealed. A missed opportunity.

Anyways time for me to say adieu ... I will return with hot gossip from Paris! (But no Sarah Brightman. Ahem. Crap joke, mais non?) Have a bon weekend, mes amis!!

OC xxx

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Gonna be your Cyberwoman...

Torchwood time again last night. Featuring the first proper debut of a Cyberwoman. Ooer. That's her above. Lovely looking bird isn't she?

I thought "Cyberwoman" was quite a tense and exciting episode, if slightly corny in places. I'm liking the show for the most part but still wouldn't rank it on the same level as Doctor Who (I am sooo hard to please, aren't I). It's just a bit too formulaic and I'm finding it hard to care about many of the characters. However one of my previous criticisms was that the character of Ianto (one of the team) wasn't fleshed out enough and at least this episode finally gave him a chance to take more of a central role.

The plot was a follow on from "Army of Ghosts" / "Doomsday", the finale story from the last season of Doctor Who, in which the Cybermen infiltrated our world and started turning hordes of hapless human beings into their own kind. It turns out that Ianto's girlfriend, Lisa, was one of those on the list for conversion and in fact she is mid-way through her "upgrade" when Ianto managed to rescue her. He's now got Lisa hidden beneath the Torchwood hub, unbeknown to the rest of the team, and is desperate to restore her to full humanity, however the Cyber-part of her starts to take over more and more...

This was an interesting idea for a story with lots of room for tragedy. Lisa/the Cyberwoman was quite menacing although I did think her costume looked rather ridiculous, with Cyber-stillitoes and breasts, for heaven's sake! This didn't really make sense because in Doctor Who, all humans that had been upgraded, whether male and female, ended up wearing the same sexless Cyber-suit, the idea being that all individuality is erased and no trace of previous humanity left, only a race of identical looking clones. So why did this particular Cyber-person have boobs? As Lisa was meant to be an attractive female, perhaps this was a decision by the production team to "sex up" the Cybermen, but a bit of a silly and illogical one nevertheless...

I also couldn't help wondering exactly how Ianto had managed to smuggle an entire Cyber-conversion unit into the Hub without detection, not to mention a partiallly-converted Cyberwoman! How on earth had he kept it a secret all this time? Is there a secret back entrance (ahem) into the Hub that the rest of the team aren't aware of?

Ianto's reactions to his converted girlfriend and desire to protect her at whatever cost (even from the rest of the team) were fairly well conveyed. Some of his crying was pretty cringe-making and annoying though, no BAFTAs there. The scenes when Lisa/Cyber-woman pursued the team round the Hub were tense and I was on the edge of my seat at some points. There were some good action bits, such as Jack "dying" twice and then coming back to life... how nice it must be to be immortal. And how gracious of him to give Ianto the kiss of life! Meanwhile, Gwen and Owen were engaging in rudeness of their own, cramped into a storage space and forced to lie on top of one another. An inevitable snog ensued. Does this mean there is relationship potential for these two later on? (Even though Gwen has a boyfriend already?) I couldn't understand why Cyber-bird didn't just shoot the Pterodactyl though. And the ending was a bit far-fetched. Pizza girl happens to walk into the hub and then gets a brain-transplant from Cyber-chick. That all happened rather too quick. You'd never get such a fast service on the NHS.

The ending was actually quite sad too. All in all then, an enjoyable enough episode, reservations aside!

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Meant to comment on the third episode of "Torchwood" which was on BBC2 the other night, "Ghost Machine". The team get their hands on an alien device that allows them to time travel back to the past and see "ghosts". The device causes Owen to witness a murder in Cardiff of the past, a murder that has repercussions in the present.

This was quite a "thoughtful" episode and a bit less frenetic than the previous ones (though there were still some chase sequences). It also gave us a chance to see a different side to Owen, other than the sex-obsessed prankster of episodes one and two, as he gets involved in the murder, which was a nice change.

There was also some great casting, including Gareth "Blake's 7" Thomas (a real Welsh man to boot) as the ex-teddy boy whose past caught up with him. A shame he didn't get more screen time. And he's certainly piled on the pounds since the days of playing Blake. The ending, in which Gwen accidentally stabs him, was quite well done too.

The alien device looked a bit rubbish though, like something out of a packet of KP crisps.

On the whole a decent enough episode and I'm still enjoying the programme as a whole. Looking forward to "The Trouble With Lisa" next week, with the first ever Cyber-woman!

Office politics

I work in an office, which can sometimes be a rather frustrating environment. Most of the people there I get on with fine - it's a fairly youngish crowd of people with similar interests and we share a good laugh, which definitely makes it a more pleasant place to be, especially when the work itself isn't always that rivetting. However, it's the deadlines and targets that are imposed on me by managers and those "above" which I find hard to bear. Sometimes there are just too many demands and expectations. And the way some individuals go about imposing these expectations and rules doesn't always make them my favourite people...

Right, I will stop right there. No names have been mentioned of course. Far be it from me to start badmouthing my workmates. And things could be a lot worse. I could be working for Runway magazine and have a boss like Miranda Priestly....

Yep, at the moment I am currently reading "The Devil Wears Prada" by Lauren Weisberger and rather enjoying it. Of course most of you will have found it hard to avoid, owing to the current film adaptation starring Method, sorry, Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, and those striking advertisements for the film depicting a red stillitoe shoe, the heel of which ends in a devil's trident. Perhaps not a very practical design for high heels. However I have heard that the film isn't as good as the book. And, although a little "samey" in style at times, the novel is a scathing, scarily accurate depiction of the high-powered world of fashion magazines, the office hierachy and above all, the fast-paced, stressful, so-rude-you-can't-believe-it environment of New York City (where the novel is set).

The novel's main protagonist, Andrea Sachs, lands the "dream" job of personal assistant to Miranda Priestly, the editor of acclaimed "Runway" magazine, a job she is repeatedly told "a million girls like you would die for". Her real ambition is to be a journalist and she hopes if she sticks this job out long enough, she'll get there. However her goal starts to seem frighteningly far from reach. As personal assistant to Miranda, Andrea is basically her badly-treated lackey, forced to do the most menial of jobs, like making several daily trips out of the office to fetch Miranda's lunch and coffee, being dispatched on a variety of other mindless errands, personally delivering materials to Miranda's apartment late at night, and working all the hours god sends.

And Miranda herself is nothing less than an all round bitch. She barely acknowledges Andrea's existence. She phones Andrea during the most unsociable hours to demand that she carries out some ridiculous task, such as ensuring that the brand new "Harry Potter" novel is sent to her children overseas before it even hits the shelves in book stores. She makes Andrea go and fetch her another latte if the one she has is cold. In short, Miranda treats Andrea like sh*t.

The whole office environment is seen to be a cuthroat one as well, with everyone out for themselves, wanting to get ahead and not really caring about their work "mate", Miranda's senior assistant Emily being a case in point.

If all of this sounds like a nightmare to read, it's not. Ironically, the nightmarish aspects of the story - e.g. Miranda's breath-taking hardness and cruelty, the constant demands made on poor Andrea, the superficial chit-chat of the fashion world and the stresses of city life - actually combine to make a darkly entertaining tale; a black comedy no less. My favourite scenes so far have been the ones involving Andrea and Eduardo, one of the security men in the building where she works. Virtually every time Andrea enters reception, Eduardo forces her to go through a routine where she must join him singing some well known pop song, like "Material Girl", or he won't buzz her through the turnstile so she can get inside the building properly. This usually happens when she is rushing to get something done on time for Miranda, thus adding further to her stress. In Andrea's last encounter with Eduardo he forced her to sing "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany, annoying her to the extreme. Priceless.

As for the rest of the novel, I'm eagerly awaiting the conclusion to see if bitch-face Miranda gets her come-uppance but I strongly suspect that's not going to happen. Unfortunately. That's the stuff of fairy tales isn't it? However if Andrea sees the light and hands in her notice, that will be a good enough ending for me. Now I bet some of you would just love to do that in real life...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sing if you're glad to be gay

Okay, I just paraphrased that from an article in today's "Independent" online, which is all about those classic Gay songs. Contains all of the stuff you'd expect but some perceptive comments in there, nevertheless, and I don't think I could have summed it up better myself! The inspiration for the story is the rather interesting tale of a Pentecostal minister who apparently once wrote the Gay anthem "So Macho". Funny old world, isn't it?