When Sam announced that he was moving into an incredible apartment a stone’s throw away from Soho there were obvious grumblings from the other Scoobies as we tried against our worst natures to feel genuinely happy for him. Add to this the fact that Lorna and Olly took the flat next door (also amazing) and we were struggling. Then Luke becomes Sam’s flatmate.
Ah, Luke. When he (inevitably) discovers this blog he will have just cause to never talk to me again and perhaps rough me up a bit - but I guess it will teach him for not falling in love with me.
Trying an “if you can’t beat them” approach I decided to drop by and hang out with Sam in his new pad on Sunday afternoon. When I arrived I discovered that almost all the other Scoobies had had the same idea. We all looked a little guilty, mostly due to our remorseless bitching only days before. The apartment was even better than he had let on. At one point the evening sun actually licked
the tastefully decorated walls.
The one fault of the place was the ancient wrought iron death elevator – the sort that has completely open mechanics and mesh instead of doors. I’ve always had a slight phobia about lifts after seeing The Silence of the Lambs
but now I can add "fear of elevators where you can see the cogs turning and the metal tomb suspended by a thin cord over five floors of a vertical drop" to the list.
The Scoobies and I settled in quickly, thinking it about time Luke learnt that he’d inherited a group of lazy-ass twenty something’s who would mooch about his house in their underwear (during the middle of the day and for no particular reason) mumbling something about Squatter’s Rights
whenever they are asked to move the used cups to the sink. I was pretty busy watching endless DVD’s of Will and Grace (which, I can confidently say has only four jokes - Karen is bitchy mean, Jack is insensitive, Will wears sweat pants, Grace has no boobs), but still managed to learn a few things about Luke:
● Even relaxing in his own home Luke has the focused air of somewhere who has an important meeting starting in 10 minutes. I had to stop an impulse to follow him out each time he left the room to see where he was going.
● A staggering amount of well groomed young men drop around to say “hi” to him during any 24 hour period.
● He has a habit of repeating the punch lines during Will & Grace.
● I know more words to Jesus Christ Superstar than he does. Which considering he’s a Musical Theatre actor is pretty shoddy.
But fear not, I did achieve something else over the long weekend – I gave up smoking once and for all. So. Help. Me. God.
Lizzie: I've just realised something horrible!
L: This is probably our last MSN day
D: Oh God
L: I know!
D: Not ever though. In 5 years time we'll probably have a camera too and we can make silly faces as we type
L: And I'll be able to stay up late when you're in NZ. As long as you get up in the morning
D: I’ll try
L: So, really, it's just six months or something. I can email though
D: It will be alright
D: *lip wobbles*
L: I hope so
D: me too
D: We're both at this big juncture
L: We are
D: it's weird. Glad we're doing it together though
D: *holds Lizzie's hand*
L: *holds Drew's hand*
D: *jumps off cliff*
In case you hadn’t noticed, the Olympics are on. The stand out moments for me so far have been:
The Opening Ceremony.
As I switch the on the telly, I’m greeted by a small dark haired boy holding a small Greek flag, walking around the stadium to some stirring orchestral music. I tear up. Everything after this is a blur.
Paula Radcliffe in the Women’s Marathon.
The hype surrounding her race in the UK Media was bordering on the devotional. The Publishing Company my flatmate works for held off publishing her book until after the Games – a quarter of the it unfinished so Paula could write about her win. Hotly tipped as the favourite we watched her slip from second to third and then into forth place. And then Paula stopped and burst into tears. It was one of the most heart-wrenching moments of live TV I have ever seen. She looked so lost. I wanted the boy with the Greek flag to come and give her a cuddle.
The Men’s Athletics.
For all the obvious reasons (thank Zeus for spandex!) but especially for the crowd that started booing after the Russian, Alexei Nemov, was given a low mark following his spectacular performance on the high bar. To be fair he did wobble on his landing but the ten minutes it took to settle the crowd felt wild and dangerous, as if the entire Olympic Committee could be undone by an unruly mob.
And if you’re wondering what the athletes do to relax, well, hopefully at least some of them are doing it greek style
The book. The bookity bookity book. Stroll down my sidebar and you’ll discover that almost all of them are writing / have completed a novel. Belle has a media sensation awaiting her kiss and tell memoirs. Wendy has pounded out a manuscript and took a picture of it before she passed out - just to prove it really happened. The Little Hedonist, he’s writing one. The eminent Dooce, yup her too. And the list doesn’t even include the thirty or so books that Wil Wheaten publishes every month. Lotsa books.
So where does a punk kid like me get off thinking he can write one? Not only have these talented writers put pen to paper but, before them, even non-bloggers Dickens, Austen, Rushdie and the like published a tome or two.
I’ve always wanted to write. While other kids were out skimming rocks and scribbling graffiti about Jenny Macintyre, I was sitting on the roof of our house working on the second chapter of my novel. It was a story about two children who discover a cave where a civilisation of lizard people have been hibernating since white settlers arrived in New Zealand. It was cunningly going to dissect both the Pakeha (white) and Maori (native) cultures as the lizard folk struggle to find their identity in a modern world. I was twelve and liked the idea that if it was good enough, I’d be one of the youngest writers EVER. That’s the sort of thing that got me excited as a kid – not going to the Moon or becoming a fireman – having a book signing before my 13th birthday. I was a strange kid.
I didn’t finish but I still have my first draft somewhere. I lost my writing bravado during my teenage years, especially as I became more excited about acting. But it creeped back and it’s been building ever since.
That doesn’t really answer the question though. Why am I attempting it? Because I have this book-sized idea. And I don’t think anyone else is going to write it for me.
Dancing at one of those late night clubs that my people love so much, what with the flashing lights and the hypnotic beats, there I am with my shirt off, amid a sea of muscled bodies. They usually leave me alone, I’m practically invisible to them and I kind of enjoy the anonymity that my relatively puny frame allows. Sure the pool at my gym has been closed two weeks for repairs and I’ve been forced to lift weights, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my body is a little muscle retarded. Anyway, I’m an intellectual, how many intellectuals do you know have biceps? Exactly, only two.
As I’m dancing I feel someone pinch my ass. I work in a little pirouette to see the culprit and twirl to find myself in front of a burly hunk of a man. He looks like he knows the difference between deltoids and, um, those other muscles on the, you know, legs. I could probably hang from one of his arms and swing my legs, but only if he let me. I’d definitely ask permission before swinging on one of his arms because I wouldn’t want him to get angry and make him charge.
He winks, which is strange. My people divide ourselves quite strictly into splinter groups and we tend to stick to our own. Indie boys grow their hair long and shimmy to the Velvet Underground only with each other. Bears let their chest hair roam free to ensnare other bears. I think there’s probably a fine if we interbreed.
I wink back at him, in a “woo, look at us with our tops off dancing in a big room” kinda way and he slips an arm around my waist and kisses me. It takes me aback and when he lets go I find I’m a bit flustered.
“You’ve got great tits” he says, smiling.
I’ve got what? Tits? I look down at my chest and there’s just my chest, no breasts, just my chest which, granted, has become slightly curvier over the past few weeks…
And there it is. I have pecs. I experience a rush of adrenaline, and then immediately after, a pang of guilt, like the committed feminist who secretly enjoys it when the sleazy guy comments on her ‘great set of pins’.
“Tits.” I think to myself, tutting quietly and rolling my eyes, all the while puffing out my chest just that ever so slightly as we continue to dance.
Dabble in your new found Anglophilia with this great translator
. Even Luke Perry loves us –
"They say stuff on TV over there that we can't say. They do stuff we can't do. They're comfortable with the female physique in a way that we're not. I dig it over there."
Thanks Luke. We, um, like your hair.
Have a great weekend chaps, tally ho and all that.
You Say Tomato
A reader from North America writes to get some clarification:
WTF is a whinge?
Animal, vegetable, part of a dialect?
Seriously, I hear you and Belle use it, but that
particular word doesn't exist on our side of the
Eh, do you prop a door in a hurry with it,
like if you're making out in your bedroom and your mom
comes home - “Oh shit, she's here, throw the whinge
under the door”?
Huh, I didn’t even realize whinge was a chiefly British word. Josh, it means to complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner. It’s also synonymous with whine. But I like your definition better.
In the interests of cross-Atlantic understanding, and as a Reference when reading Brit blogs, I've decided to bring you a guide to Commonly Used English Expressions. Well, the ones I could think of at least.
– A butt, only posher. Should be pronounced like the word “car”. Elongate the a
sound. Try it: “She’s got a great ass”. This roughly translates as “she has a lovely posh butt”.
– This is when the Banks close and we’re allowed to go to crammed beaches and get ridiculously sun burnt. Also known as National Holidays
in North America.
– A guy, a man, dude. As in “some bloke was just looking for you, Charlie.”
– The best word in the English language. An adjective for something that bothers or frustrates someone, as in “I’m bloody well not going into that bloody band recital so you can bloody well piss off, you bloody twat”.
– A zucchini. Courgette is French, zucchini, Italian.
– Potato chips. In New Zealand they call them chips too.
– Yes, we actually do use this as slang for a cigarette. I’ve seen many an American look petrified when asked if they’d “like a fag”.
– Two weeks. The amount of time it takes for me to track down a replacement passport form.
–Attractive, sexy, cute. As in “The barman’s fit, I think I might flash him some leg.”
– in the dictionary Geezer
is defined as “an old person, especially an eccentric old man” but I would more commonly use it as someone who’s a bit of a wheeler / dealer, a bit dodgy – a wide boy
– slang for “isn’t it” for when we use our mockney accent (mock cockney accent) which everyone in London seems to now and then. Innit
is kind of like the Canadian eh
and comes at the end of a sentence – “She’s been gone a long time, innit”.
– Means tired, as in this cockney rhyming slang: “I’m absolutely cream crackered”.
– What we call our mothers.
– Food, to eat. “We’re just popping out to get some nosh.”
– Means nothing
, as in “There’s nought wrong with gayers”. Comes from a North England dialect.
(or Offy) – Liquor Store. Often populated outside by underage kids asking you to buy fags and cider for them.
– knickers / underwear. This is one of the Brit’s favourite words. They use it as a put down (“The movie was pants”) and if anyone says pants when they should have said trousers, they will point and giggle hysterically. You have been warned.
Public School –
In Great Britain: any of various private schools maintained by the community, wholly or partly under public control, or maintained largely by endowment and not carried on chiefly for profit - like Eton, Harrow, and Winchester. In the United States, a free primary, grammar, or high school maintained by the local government. Clear as mud.
– A buck. “That’ll be six quid, please”.
- Have sex with. I shag, you shag, we all shag. Can also be used as a noun, as in “Did you get a shag last night at the party?”
– To take a day off work without actually being ill. “I didn’t feel like going in yesterday, so I skived instead”.
– a kiss, to make out. “I snogged his face off” or “You’re fit, giss a snog”.
– Colloquial name for the London Subway. Also known as the Underground or “where I spent two hours of my life yesterday, stuck in a tunnel trying not to vomit in the stifling heat”.
This has been a NEDITW Public Announcement. Thank you and Goodnight.
Returning from Barcelona a few months ago, I removed my green shorts from the washing machine and found that I’d accidentally left my passport in one of the pockets. It had turned to mush. My heart that is. Oh - and the passport. It’s a shame because I looked so cute in the photo; I’m all of sixteen with a proto-type fringe, oily skin and the unmistakably doleful eyes of a virgin. I’ll never perfect that look again.
Although I’m trying hard not to fall into my usual cycle of panic and procrastination, Britain’s petty bureaucracy doesn’t make things any easier. How the red tape hasn’t crippled this country ten times over I’ll never know. Nothing is easy to get. No-one has the right information. The help desk has always just closed.
This is the process it took to get a replacement passport form from the Post Office, an institution that has the grating tagline “For the little things that make the big things happen” (Insert ironic laugh here).
Walk to local Post Office. It’s shut because it’s Wednesday afternoon. Am not sure if it’s just this particular branch or every Post Office, or why they’re closed at 2pm in the middle of the working week.
Return to Post Office the next day where I’m informed that I will have to go to a Head Post Office because they do not have that particular form (of course not! What was I thinking?)
Walk to Head Post Office and stand in a queue for 45 minutes before the teller helpfully points out that the forms are near the entrance (Of course! Forms, hidden behind door! What was I thinking?! *bangs head on desk*)
I now have the form and, after three attempts, I even got through to the London branch of New Zealand Immigration (for the small fee of £1 per minute on a premium line rate for a recorded message). My mother is sending over my birth certificate and I’m practising doleful looks in the bathroom mirror - so I might just get everything together and have a real-life, get through customs, British passport by the time I’m ready to leave and not have to sleep in cardboard boxes at the airport for 16 years like the guy Tom Hanks is playing in that movie.
My sister Amber is coming to London. We’re doing a life swap - I’ll take her room in Wellington and she’ll take over custody of my ironing board, colander and my friends while I’m away. The best bit is that we have a crossover period from the 9th of September and I have enough holiday time owed to me to take the last two weeks – from about the 17th - off completely. I have to admit I’m nervous about her being here all by herself. I know Am will love this city but I can’t fight the older brother impulse to protect her from, well, everything. At least she’ll have the Scoobies to keep an eye on her. And an ironing board. Oh, and a colander.
My Lost Weekend
Made friends with a blind man.
Listened to Kate DJ twice.
Built a city based on all my ideals and principals with SimCity 3000
, before allowing locusts / aliens / earthquakes to despoil it.
Went to a house party where I was hit on simultaneously by a guy and a girl in tag team format. Watched Kill Bill Volume 2.
Kissed two different boys, both of whom I’ve snogged before. And yes, one of them was Brazilian. Le sigh.
Went to the Diesel party and witnessed my first runway fashion show.
Practiced my runway walk for approx 3.2 hours - almost twisting my ankle what with all the snappy turns.
Spilt milk and beetroot juice all over the kitchen floor. God knows how.
There’s more, but reading this
has made me nervous…
I fly out of Heathrow Airport on the 5th of October. It’s a long journey and this will be my second time making it. Like last time I’m spending a few days in California en route and I’m looking forward to getting heavily frisked at JFK airport again. That was sure fun. And the part where I forgot the address of the place I was staying at and they yelled at me, like on COPS. That was swell. My favourite moment, though, has to be when I discovered the sign describing all the dangerous things that you weren’t allowed to take on the flight – guns, knives, bullwhips, a transformer robot… You know, the little toys that change from a humanoid robot to, say, a bug. I used to love them. How could they be a threat to National Security? I mean, whose safety is endangered by a kids’ toy that turns into a dragonfly? No ones, that’s who.
Ah, but what if the transformer turns into a gun
? Let’s say, hypothetically, you ask for Megatron for your birthday and whine and whinge every time the Ads are on TV until your Mum finally gives in and gets you one, and it’s the best ever because the gun fires a little plastic missile and you take it everywhere, especially on trips, like flying to Chicago to see Grandma. Except that before you board there’s a lot of yelling. Dogs barking. You are wrestled to the ground by three armed guards who pry the Megatron from your 6 year-old grasp. You’ll probably get at least 4 – 6 years in juve-hall where you’ll think long and hard about the mistake you made. Like why the heck you didn’t ask for an Optimus Prime instead
because all that does is turn into a stupid truck
Karen is meeting me at the airport. She knows this guy who does the drapes for Frank Sinatra Jr so needless to say she’s pretty well connected. I’m going to use my Hugh Grant good looks to wow the locals and say “cheers” a lot and ask for cups of tea. They seem to like that. Trinity is also in California at the same time – she’s attending a wedding in Las Vegas – so I’m even going to have a posse. I might even suggest a drink with a certain blonde L.A. blogger. Tea, of course.
If I don’t get asked to write a pilot for a hilarious sitcom starring Aston Kutcher as a man bequeathed his neighbour’s 'Seeing Eye' dog (canine voiced by Kevin Spacey) called Blind Luck
, I’ll be leaving Los Angeles on the 10th and arriving in Auckland on the 12th. Yes, you read that right. New Zealand is a long, long way away. Technically, it’s in the future. I’ve always found it weird calling my family where it’s already tomorrow.
But Auckland isn’t my last port of call. Oh no – From Auckland I get on an internal flight to Wellington where an A & E unit will be standing by in the very probable likelihood that I’ve developed deep vein thrombosis.
photograph courtesy of Jeremy Ginsberg
But it’ll be worth it. Take a look at this. I’m going to be living round the corner from right here. They’ve filled up this bay with white sand which I’m told is where the Wellington glitterati hang out over summer. The last time I was in Wellington there was no sand or glitterati. Things sure seem to have changed. My Mother and sister live a short walk away in a sunny apartment. That’s where I’ll sleep off my jet lag for the first few days before waking up and thinking to myself “right, so what the hell do I do now?”
Love is a care package full of porn
“But who are you going to have sex with?” demands Sam, after I tell him about the trip.
“I’m not sure. Probably no-one.” Sam looks aghast. Actually aghast. “My Mother is almost certainly putting up posters announcing my arrival as we speak, so that might at least increase my chances.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Well, write. Sit on a beach. Spend time with my family. Not go on the Tube. It means I get three summers in a row…”
Sam is still not convinced.
“You’re coming back though, right?”
“Oh yeah, absolutely. My outstanding UK debts will necessitate I return before they send over the big scary bailiffs.”
“Ok. Six months.”
There are some big changes a happening. I’ve been a bit coy about the details because I wanted to wait until they set in concrete, with reinforcing steel girders supporting the details. With that done, all’s left is to tell you about my travels.
In September I will be turning 25 and I will have lived in London for four years. What you don’t see when you read this is the small prickles of electricity that this statement generates across my back. It would be kind of pleasant in a tingling kind of way if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s my body explaining that TIME IS RUNNING OUT, that I’m getting older and whatever I am supposed to achieve in life should be coming closer to my grasp. London excites me and cajoles me and forces me to have more ideas and emotions every day than I think are healthy, in fact the only thing it doesn’t give me is the time or clarity to start a body of work. And that’s what I’m going to do in Wellington, New Zealand. I’m heading home for 6 months to write a book.
I’ll make it my task this week to fill you in on all the details but the crux of the matter is, things are going to move pretty quickly over the next few months, and if you don’t mind, you’re coming with me.
On Saturday, Joe and I went on our long planned trip down to Brighton for another Pride (that’s three in counting, if you include Soho Pride the weekend before which consisted of me walking round in the bloody hot sun with a sore throat, scowling at all the pretty boys with their superior immune systems). We caught the train, pepped up with sugary drinks and the fact that we had the whole day together.
We’d planned to have time away from the maddening London crowds. Joe suffers from gay status anxiety every now and then, which isn’t helped by the fact that the third in our triptych of good gay friends, Sam, is a bit of an it
So we ran away to Brighton. It felt good. The sky was that impossible blue and we slipped into comfortable silences once we’d talked about all the obvious things. We changed trains at East Croyden and chugged along until we hit Preston Park. Outside the train station they gave us maps and a little card that had return journey times. “Here you go, sexy” said the boy handing them out. His underwear was poking up out of his trousers. That’s all I remember about him.
Everybody in the whole of Brighton must have been at the park. You could almost hear the looters rallying their looter friends and jumping in the back of pick-up vans, yelling “We got us some lootin’ to do!” There were children covered in glitter with fairy wings and fairies covered in body paint and a variety of glitter. Joe and I avoided the bigger dance tents. We bought beer and under the influence of a sunshine alcho-buzz we took off our tops in one of the smaller tents, both pale and flabby in places, hairy in a few others, and we danced like there would be no more Pride if we stopped, that the tents would collapse and the rides and stalls and the place where they hand out free lube and the meeting points and the women’s live music arena would fade away and disappoint everyone, that’s how much we danced.
Technically I’m still ill. When I say technically, I mean I’m still grouchy and have a bit of a temperature and - Oh God - the running of the nose with its running. And my throat is still kind of scratchy now that you ask. But after a few days you’re no longer allowed to take days off work or talk about it much. That’s the rule. So I’m only technically ill.
I’m gradually getting better each day and listening to Woman’s Hour
on BBC Radio 4 this morning, which featured an interview with a wheelchair bound, blind woman who teaches children to read Braille, raises money for charity and fights inequalities for people with disabilities, was a bit of a “it could be a lot worse, stop whining” wake up call.
But you’ll excuse me if I don’t behave all “civil” when someone - not a close friend, not even someone I particularly like, especially
now - has the following conversation with me:
Are you still sick?
(Surrounded by a tower of scrunched tissues, eyes weeping and a vein the size of Michael Crichton’s word count visibly throbbing in my forehead, I give my best you are seriously not saying that to me right now
look, difficult as it is what with the fact that my eyes are all puffy and raw and weeping and all).
I never get sick. Never. My Grandfather lived until he was 90.
Good Gods above. May I lay awake tonight hearing the drum of helicopters that swoop down on your house to take you to a United Nations sanctioned Tact and Empathy Prison in Guantanamo Bay where you will spend 3 years learning the fine arts of not rubbing salt in wounds, not pointing out that zit on my nose and not saying the first thing that pops into your sack-covered head.
And let the day we get struck down by those dirty bombs that the newspapers keep scaring us with, be the day that I discover that all my colds and sniffles I’ve suffered (even though I exercise regularly, have never broken a bone, don’t have any fillings and eat garlic in portions that would make most people haemorrhage) has made me immune to the noxious clouds of viral chemicals and I will come to find you, wherever you are and I will smile and look at your bloated and infected body and say “Are you still
I am so not going to Heaven.
Best pick-me-up in the world? Read this
, while listening to this
(click on the question mark
An Official Apology
I take back everything I said while under the control of the KILLER FLU BUG, spanning Sunday - Tuesday.
I did not mean to make you cry. The music you played in your room did not sound like a brass band stampeding through my head. I’m sorry that it was necessary to hide every time I came out of my bedroom. It can’t have been very pleasant to see me that way – like some mentally deranged scarecrow trailing pain killers and used tissues in its wake. You will undoubtedly need counselling to erase that awful image from your mind, one that will plague your nightmares for many weeks to come. For all this and more, I apologise profusely. It was the bug. The awful, debilitating bug.
Let’s hope I never get sick again.
All my love,