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Friday, April 30, 2004

I went to Manningtree this afternoon, and naturally found myself in the town's one and only charity shop, where I decided to be overly optimistic and buy a pair of shorts. Whilst chatting away at length to the two old ladies behind the counter (women over 65 are my biggest fans), one of them suddenly lowered her voice and said...

"Do you watch videos?"

I replied that I did, only for her to continue with...

"We've got some 18-certificate videos which we're not allowed to sell. Would you be interested?"

At this point alarm bells were going off in my mind at the realisation that I was about to become the first person in Britain ever to be offered under-the-counter hardcore illegal porn by a couple of old dears in a charity shop.

But I played along with a non-committal "Um..." while one lady went out the back and returned with eight videos, placing them on the counter with the words:

"We don't have a licence to sell this sort of stuff."

I almost didn't dare look. I'm quite sensitive. But fortunately they turned out to be perfectly legitimate 18-certificate films like 'Fargo' and 'Misery'. The ladies informed me they have to throw out videos like this, because they're not allowed to sell them or even pass them on to someone else. They were practically begging me to take them for free.

Embarrassingly I had to admit to already owning four of the eight videos, and couldn't bring myself to accept something for free from a charity shop, so we compromised, and I agreed to take 'Big Brother Uncut' off their hands in return for a 50p donation. A goodwill gesture which went down so well with the old ladies, that I'm expecting a plaque in my honour before the week's out.

But since when have Sue Ryder shops not been allowed to sell 18-certificate films, that's what I'd like to know. It's an outrage. But still, I look nice in my shorts.
Talk about giving me a heart attack. I received a plain white envelope in today's post, which I idly opened while still bleary-eyed and caffeine-free. Whereupon I took out a letter, unfolded it, and saw the 'Soho Theatre & Writers Centre' logo at the top, followed by my name and address, and the words:

"Dear Mr Gardner, On behalf of everyone at Soho Theatre, it is my great pleasure to announce..."

It's at that point my heart stopped beating.

Sadly the rest of the letter featured very little about how they want to stage 'Be Worth It' for a two month run this summer, and rather more about 'The Verity Bargate Award 2004'. It seems that I'm on their official mailing list for playwrights (which is quite nice - at least someone thinks I'm a playwright), and now subject to theatrical junk mail of all kinds.

So ignoring the fact that they're already in possession of one of my plays, they're now wondering if I'd like to send them another one by August 13th, with the lure of £3,500 (pah!) and the mention that Sue Townsend won the Verity Bargate Award in the 1980s.

On the plus side, they insist you include "your CV listing all plays written and produced, when and where", so at least I know it wouldn't take long.

If your name's Lisa, you'll be shoving 'Internet Cafe' into an envelope as we speak.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

A list of members of the armed forces who have been awarded the QCVS for their service in Iraq last year has been published in the Daily Telegraph...

Show me the brave!

Obviously no sane person would bother reading through such a list...

Except that it features my sister's boyfriend.

But seeing as I'm banned from revealing Big Sis's real name on here, I doubt I can get away with naming her significant other either. So pick a name at random, and you never know, you might just hit on the right one. You've got a 1 in 17 chance.
There was a horse running in the 3:00 at Southwell this afternoon called Caspian Dusk. It went off at odds of 1-4, making it one of the shortest priced favourites you're ever likely to see, and about as close to a certainty as you can get without actually rendering the running of the race unnecessary.

So naturally when faced with a complete certainty like that, I went the other way and backed it to lose.

It's just finished second in a field of five. I am soooo amused.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

It's scary the things you find out whilst emptying your cat's litter tray. I was quietly minding my own business, well my cat's business, and was about to tip a scoopful of unmentionables onto a copy of the local paper (which is about all it's good for), when my eye was caught by a colourful advert on page 15.

The ad in question was for "Girl Next Door", offering a range of beauty therapy services including 'Massage Counselling', which I suspect would benefit from a comma. Still, it's nice to know you can sort out your emotional problems and get your nails done at the same time.

Anyhoo, temporarily distracted from the job in hand (literally), and momentarily considering booking an appointment with the girl next door (blimey, I hope it's not the girl who lives next door to ME, it doesn't bear thinking about), my eyes wandered to the advert above, and I found myself thinking "hang on... that phone number seems strangely familiar..."

Yes, I want to meet Mr Magic!

Since when has my Dad been calling himself Mr Magic????? Does no one tell me anything around here??? And does this mean my Mum is now Mrs Magic??? Am I caught up in a freakish game of Happy Families, where I'm now Master Magic the magician's son???? Blimey, it's no wonder I grew up weird.

But still, give him a call and ask if his first name's Animal.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Well I faced the victim of my dodgy tips, only to find she'd successfully picked winners at 25-1 and 14-1. So that's the last time I'm ever asked to help out on the gambling front. Not that it was my fault - she should have looked at my clothes and car, and realised I know nothing about making money.

Anyhoo, having enjoyed an afternoon breakfast, I reluctantly agreed to allow Lisa to go home, and we set off on another jaunt down to Brighton. I successfully avoided getting lost, though we stopped for something to eat at the M25 services and were promptly approached by two guys who wanted to know where they were, and whether London was anywhere nearby. I thought it was, but not as near as the shop selling maps, which was about 20 yards away. Still, I confidently told them London was north, and plucked a figure of 45 minutes out of the air. Amazingly they believed me, and left happy.

I enjoyed my second breakfast of the day, while being probed about my secret past as a babe magnet, and having watched an incident of road rage brewing in the queue for petrol, we continued on to the south coast. Fortunately I know Brighton like the back of my hand now, so I had no trouble recognising Lisa's street from a distance of about ten yards. It was the sign which gave it away.

I then graciously agreed to drink tea and eat chocolate biscuits, and discovered that Lisa has been to Goodwood racecourse, in the same way my niece has been to China - in a womb with a view. I was sent packing with a complimentary packet of Polos, and made it back to Shotley Gate before midnight. Hurrah! Let's do it all again in two weeks time.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The trouble with picking six horses is that forty-eight hours later you have to face the person who was willing to risk £2 on your selections, and explain why none of them won. But still, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I think I'll pretend I don't speak English.

Anyhoo, yesterday featured ice creams on the Shotley riviera, followed by a visit to the HMS Ganges Museum. Interestingly there were three people manning the desk, and only Lisa and myself in the museum, so I felt it was worth donating a pound just for the staff-to-customer ratio. The museum was fine, but once you've seen one photo of a sailor in a hat, you've seen them all.

From there we went to the Shipwreck, where I was served drinks by the lady who used to serve me at the post office. I can't get away from the woman. I think she's stalking me. We made two drinks last two hours, waited til we were both well and truly sunburnt, then returned home, where I subjected my guest to a Senators medley on the guitar. Her verdict was that I should be playing in pubs, which I think was a compliment. But possibly she just meant that only drunk people would appreciate me.

Refusing the calls for an encore, we headed off instead to The Oyster Reach, where I went on a slightly longer mental journey and avoided ordering oysters. They've refurbished the place since I was last there 9 months ago, so out are the wooden chairs, and in go the cosy booths and spicy sauces. I approve. But I regret opting for the mild spice on my steak. They don't know the meaning of the word.

With precision timing, we left the restaurant at 7:36pm, safe in the knowledge that we had tickets for the theatre a couple of miles away at 7:45pm. No sweat. And I was in the mood for a sprint from the underground car park anyway. We saw 'The Straits' by Gregory Burke, which featured yet another great set on the Wolsey stage. The whole play was performed on a high sloping quayside, with very imaginative scene and costume changes. I was very impressed. Particularly with the Sex Pistols dance routine. It was an excellent production, but yet again I was encouraged by the feeling that it was nothing I couldn't have written myself.

The play was followed by 90 minutes in the theatre bar, where we were very quickly outnumbered again by staff members, who probably hated us for not allowing them to close up early. I endured an hour long badgering about the worth of 'Internet Cafe', and was forced to agree to consider sending it out somewhere. I'm very easily manipulated.

From there it was back home for Pringles and tea, and a lot of deep intellectual discussion on the sofa. Which isn't a euphemism.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

And while I'm here, may I just encourage you on behalf of someone who shall remain nameless (but it's Dave), to go and sign an online petition to register your lack of support for George W Bush.

It seems a bit harsh to me - after all, as the man himself admits, he's made no mistakes whatsoever in his term as president. And it's not his fault he looks like a chimpanzee. So give the man a break - the stupid have rights too you know, and I'm sure he's having fun in the White House.

But still, it worked in California, so sign the petition and with a bit of luck we could get someone even more entertaining leading the free world. My money's on Jerry Springer.
Well I successfully picked up the fugitive from justice. Interestingly she looked far less dodgy than most of the other people leaving Brighton Police Station in the 20 minutes I was standing outside. I deliberately kept my distance for fear of being dragged into a life of crime. It was touch and go for a while.

From there we went to Brighton Marina, partly because it's a cool and happening place to visit, but mainly because it has free parking. There's also an Asda there, which for someone like me is quite exciting. We ignored the chance to buy cheap ready meals though, and headed to Beefeater, where I went on a long mental journey by choosing to eat beef.

Deciding we weren't being tailed by the police, I allowed Lisa (named and shamed) to direct me back to her place, where I very kindly set her mother on the road to riches by picking out the winners of today's Scoop 6 horse races. Which, for the record, will be:

First Love
Distant Times
St Pirran
Thewhirlingdervish
Soviet Song
Iznogoud

Or at least they would be, were it not for the fact that First Love has been withdrawn this morning. He's owned by the Queen, so I'm holding her personally responsible, and I'm going for Gin Palace instead. So that's that sorted. Obviously I'm not putting any money on them myself, but they ARE all dead certs.

Anyhoo, we drove back up from the south coast in the evening, I missed the turning off the M25 (obviously through no fault of my own), and we toured the Essex countryside for an hour, before successfully arriving in Shotley Gate the right side of midnight, which is all you can ask really.

And I'd just like to disassociate myself from the hand which is currently appearing in the webcam shot on my homepage.

Friday, April 23, 2004

I'm off down to Brighton today to see who I can pick up from the police station. They'll let almost anyone out for the weekend these days.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

I think Fish Publishing must have been reading my blog. No sooner do I lay claim to having finished 7th out of 1500 entries in their short story competition, than they go and publish the 32-strong short list from which they chose the winners. And I'm not on that either.

So there's clearly been some kind of mistake. Obviously they didn't receive my entry.

Still, at least I'm ranked 39th out of 22,917 blogs on BlogHop. You can't argue with statistics like that. (So don't try).

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

One of my neighbours has been out there all afternoon with a giant electric corkscrew, drilling holes in the earth all along the edge of the grass at the front of my flat, in preparation for the planting of a pointless hedge. (Though I'm sure it's only pointless to the congenitally churlish). (Which would be me).

However as things stand right now, darkness is descending, work is finished for the day, and no planting has yet taken place. Meaning that as we speak, there is a row of about forty six-inch holes in the grass outside my flat, which it took my neighbour all afternoon to produce.

Now, I'm not a vindictive person, and I don't like to mess with people's heads just for my own amusement. I even have a strong sense of community spirit. But I have to say... looking at the result of all that hard work now, I am just soooooo tempted to go out there in the middle of the night and fill them all in.
The result of the Fish Publishing Very Short Story Competition has been announced this morning, and...

I didn't win. It's another travesty. So that's 250 Euros and a trip to the West Cork Literary Festival down the drain. Although it would've cost me more than 250 Euros to get to Ireland for the book launch in June, so I'm actually richer for having failed to win this competition. You have to look on the bright side. And with 1500 entries and only 6 winners, I undoubtedly wiped the floor with 1493 of them, and finished 7th. There's no doubt about it.

In other literary news, it's now April 20th and I'm still being ignored by both the Royal Court and the Soho Theatre. The Royal Court wrote to me on January 13th, tentatively promising me a verdict within 12 weeks, while the Soho Theatre followed along 6 days later with a suggestion of 2-3 months.

I assume the fact that I haven't heard anything is because having glanced through my script once, they couldn't quite believe what they'd just read, and are having to read it again to make sure I was serious.

But the Soho letter was exactly 3 months YESTERDAY. So I ought to get off the internet - they're probably trying to call.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

I gave Chloe (my cat) her annual bath last night. Well, shower - she's too modern for baths. It's remarkable just how much water you can wring out of one tail. But that Kitten Shampoo (the feline equivalent of Johnson's Baby) is marvellous stuff. It's like stroking a cloud this morning.

Anyhoo, just to elucidate on fact number 89, may I say that I was there as a friend only. Fact 63 also has some relevance here. It was 1990 and Emmie (the Melee of her day) had spent a night with the object of her affections - so naturally was in tears. And just as naturally, being a bloke, he wanted nothing to do with her the following day. So as usual, asexual Phil was left to pick up the pieces. Which involved walking out of school and escorting the damsel in distress down to Great Oaks, where I sat for 20 minutes in the waiting room of a family planning clinic, holding the hand of a girl in tears. I do wonder what people thought. Actually, judging from some of the dirty looks I received, I think I can guess.

Handing over the magic pills, the doctor assured her that they should do the trick, to which Em replied "I'll keep my fingers crossed". Whereupon, with the speed of a trained comedian, the doc came back with "Yes, and your legs". Which did make me laugh. Inwardly anyway. I was too tactful to show my amusement, especially when I realised Em was actually very offended by that comment. So I agreed it was outrageous and he should be struck off.

Rather than return to school, we chose to walk back to Em's house and watch 'Pretty in Pink' on video, at which point Em admitted she'd never been able to swallow tablets. Cue slight panic, lots of coaching on my part, and eventual disappearance of pill amidst copious amounts of water. After which we were able to relax while Em lusted after Jon Cryer, and I decided I fancied Molly Ringwald.

When I left, Emmie said "Well at least you'll have something to write in your diary tonight". By which I'm sure she meant that I have her permission to write about her in a public blog fourteen years later.

And may I say, that's the only time I ever missed school without my parents' knowledge. I was such a gooood boy. No, really.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

In case anyone's concerned that I haven't written anything of substance for quite a while, and I'm just wasting my talent by producing pointless pea quizzes and trivial blog posts, you can stop worrying - I've just successfully completed a list of 101 fascinating facts about myself, which I've added to my Bio page.

Not only is it a work of genius, but I'm claiming it as an autobiography. So I feel justified in not writing anything else til the autumn.

And I particularly like number 87.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

I really, really, REALLY apologise for posting this, but sometimes you come across a piece of wildlife photography which just demands to be shared.

So anyone of a nervous disposition, or those likely to be unsettled by what basically amounts to a bit of Killer Whale porn, please do NOT click here.

And I include you in that, dear mother.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Oooooh! Lisa's back! Hurrah!

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Can't Shape Up

The pictures on the wall have faded,
Don't you get the feeling that it's running away,
I'm surprised we even made it this far,
I'm guilty as charged, I'm running away,
I can't save you, I can't save you,
And if you don't blame me, then I won't blame you.

I can't even get my eyes to tear,
It's been this way for more than a year,
And now I'm gonna play with fear,
But it's not here.

I swear I've had the darkest feelings,
I've thought about swinging from the ceiling,
Don't stop me now 'cause I'm free-wheeling,
And I can't steer.

And it's not fair, no it's not fair,
That I'm not there, and well, you just shouldn't care.

I can't shape up,
I just can't shape up.
You can't argue with science.

Girls: you can't live with 'em, you can't shoot 'em.

Monday, April 12, 2004

With the particular brand of lifestyle I lead (if you can call it that), I can choose to go to the Suffolk coast virtually any time I like. So being someone who dislikes crowds, and prefers not to follow the herd, you have to wonder why I waited for the first spring bank holiday of the year. But it seemed like a good idea at the time. Particularly with the cast iron promise of free fish & chips at the other end.

So I set off with my Mummy & Daddy, and successfully made it all the way to... the Woodbridge branch of Budgens. Which was fairly exciting. I bought mayonnaise and tuna. Which sounds like a sandwich recipe, but is in fact 50% cat food.

Budgens became Woolworths, Woolworths became Peacocks, and by the time we were standing in a portacabin ordering sausage sandwiches, I was beginning to wonder where the sea was. Particularly when we received the news that it was likely to take half an hour for their highly trained staff to put two sausages between two slices of bread.

But still, it gave me time to get a little sunburnt, and exchange smouldering glances with a red-headed girl on the next table who kept looking at me from behind her sunglasses and smiling flirtily, and who didn't realise her knickers had folded over the edge of her jeans when she'd bent down to pick up her bag.

Sausages eaten (it would have been quicker to raise a piglet to adulthood), we headed off across the countryside in the direction of Aldeburgh, with my father possessed by the spirit of Michael Schumacher. Well, Michael Schumacher's grandad. On the way, I learnt that the Aldeburgh Festival is actually held in a shed at Snape, and that Benjamin Britten was gay. So it was quite educational.

Arriving at the first of Aldeburgh's fish & chip shops, I was somewhat alarmed to see a queue of fifty or sixty people stretching down the street and into the shop. My mother confidently declared "It's ok, there's a second fish & chip shop further up". So we drove on. And found a queue of a hundred people at that one. I wouldn't believe it myself, but for the fact that I insisted we slow down so that I could count them for blogging purposes.

So I made a mental note to open a takeaway business in Aldeburgh, and we drove on to Thorpeness, ate ice cream, resisted the temptation to hire a rowing boat for an hour, and shamelessly drove on the pavement.

All that, and we still made it back in time for me to win £12 on the 4:20 at Yarmouth. I should go out more often.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAULA!!!

You don't look a day over 50.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Apparently one of the classic signs of alcoholism is drinking early in the morning. Personally I haven't touched the Bacardi all day, but I'd already eaten two Creme Eggs by 8:30am.

I think I may have a problem.
Woo-hoo!!

I'm the 733,945,667 richest person on earth!


Discover how rich you are! >>

Though I haven't factored in the vast profits from my obsessive gambling habit there, so in reality I'm probably even closer to Bill Gates than I realise.

Friday, April 09, 2004

I haven't seen a deer in Stourside or Kirkton Close for about 18 months. Which is possibly due less to the habits of the local deer population, and more to the fact that I haven't found myself walking around Shotley Gate at 3am for the past year and a half.

But all that changed this morning, as I strolled along Stourside in the middle of the night, nonchalently trying to avoid looking like a burglar, whilst simultaneously turning on everyone's security lights as I passed. One household however clearly knows a thing or two about security, and seem to have trained a killer deer to jump out at passers by, thus giving innocent insomniacs such as myself the fright of their lives.

Having leapt out of the front garden about three yards in front of me however, the guard-deer seemed to change its mind, and instead of attacking, chose to abandon its post, bolt across the road and dive into the undergrowth on the other side. Interestingly, the house from whence it came is the only one with a bird bath in the front garden, which I'd previously assumed was for birds to take a bath (the clue's in the words 'bird' and 'bath'). I now realise it's actually a feeding station for large antlered beasts of the night.

(Admittedly this particular deer didn't have antlers, and was really quite small, but the point remains).

And as if this close encounter wasn't enough, walking down the main road twenty minutes later, I was accosted by a barn owl. The little chaps are close to extinction, and it's not surprising - this one had to fly to within ten feet of me before it realised I wasn't a mouse.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

I've been experimenting with The Gender Genie, a very clever little online thingy (that's a technical term) which is able to analyse a piece of text and tell you whether the author is male or female. It sounds unlikely, but the darn thing seems to work.

First I entered one of my short stories... it declared the author male. Then one of my blog entries... again male. Then I set about some recent e-mails I've received...

Lisa is female.
Marie is female.
Helen is female.

Thank goodness for that. None of my friends are cross-dressers.

Mick Kitson of The Senators was certified male. As was my Dad.

So by this point the Gender Genie had proved itself to be scarily infallible. Whereupon I entered a recent e-mail from my Big Sis...

Male.

Oh my god, my sister's a bloke. I wonder if her boyfriend knows? Although, once you start thinking about it, you realise the signs were there.

Most encouraging though, is that I entered a scene from Act Two of Be Worth It which featured ONLY female characters, and it came back as... FEMALE! Hurrah! So it's official - I can write convincing female dialogue at the drop of a hat. I should get a job on Footballers' Wives. They could do with a bit of convincing dialogue of some description.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

I've just read in the local paper that Babergh District Council (under whose fine jurisdiction the common people of Shotley Gate reside) have carried out a survey which reveals that 66% of ice used in restaurants and take-aways in this area is contaminated with bacteria associated with the human gut. Meaning that staff in two thirds of the local eating establishments are merrily skipping back from their toilet breaks without washing their hands, then picking up handfuls of ice and dropping it into my bacardi and cokes.

So I think that's the last time I ever ask for ice at The Happy Fryer.

Just kidding. I'm sure The Happy Fryer employs the highest standards of food hygiene imaginable.

And if not, they're handily placed just across the road from the doctor's surgery.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

I really wasn't going to mention Belle de Jour here, but I'm beginning to get annoyed by the growing literary frenzy surrounding this garbage (subjective opinion), so my vow not to add to it is finally being broken.

Belle de Jour is a blog, hosted (like this one) at Blogspot.com (only with a slightly less visually appealing template). and it won an award in The Guardian's British Blog Awards last December, which is when I first visited. Briefly. And left unimpressed. It's supposedly the blog of a London prostitute, though opinion is divided as to whether it's genuine, or a work of fiction.

Personally I don't care. It ranges from the utterly banal to the unbearably pretentious (a bit like this blog, hehe), so I had no great interest in it.

Except that a couple of weeks ago the mystery author was offered a five figure sum to write a book based on her blog. And ever since, the literary world has gone into a frenzy trying to discover her identity. We've got respected authors like Jeanette Winterson writing about it in The Times, top literary sleuth Don Foster examining the use of punctuation to compile a 'linguistic fingerprint', the Sunday Telegraph publishing a lengthy article by Belle herself, and now former madam Cynthia Payne writing in The Guardian that Belle de Jour "knows sod all" about sex.

Quite apart from the fact that I myself have not been offered fifty grand to publish this blog in book form, which obviously rankles just a tad, it's the actual writing in the Belle blog which gets my goat. Take her latest entry for example:

A was idly surfing the web while I hunted for any scrap of cake in the house. None was forthcoming, so I made a deal with the devil and concocted a cup of chocolate consisting of the heat-whitened end of a Flake, most of a waxen bar of choc from an Army rat pack, and instant coffee. It swirled, oily and evil, in a white mug. "When and where were you born?" A asked.

"Why?"

"Natal chart." Online astrology is one of the sure signs of imminent societal
collapse. Told him anyway. "Oh, dear. Oh, oh dear."

"What's that?" I sipped the greasy drink. Foul, yes, but not unsatisfying. Must find a better method of dealing with hormonal cycles though - for it is spring, when a young woman's fancy turns to bikinis.


Now is it just me, or is that the biggest load of pretentious tripe you've ever read? Personally when I make a cup of coffee I don't feel the need to mention it in my blog, but for Belle it's a noteworthy event filled with oily evil swirlings, imminent societal collapse, and springtime hormonal cycles.

And this gets you a five figure book deal and acres of press coverage??? Obviously I'm not bitter though. But I mean, really, it does make me despair. It's no wonder I don't read.

I did come across one comment worthy of repeating though. Amidst the frenzy of literary sleuthing, someone said this on another blog:

"It doesn't matter who is really behind Belle de Jour -- we're all pseudonymous pretend prostitute webloggers, aren't we?"

I couldn't agree more. Offer me a few grand and I'm yours.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Marvellous. Well I assume we're all rich now are we? Having made £30 on my ickle sweetheart Rhinestone Cowboy who wiped the floor with Rooster Booster, as we all knew he would (and if you didn't put the mortgage money on as instructed, you should be ashamed of yourself), my £2 on Amberleigh House at odds of 20-1 gave me another forty quid, so I think I can now afford to pay for the packet of white chocolate Maltesers I was suckered into buying on impulse last night.

That potential £120 profit on Lord Atterbury was looking pretty exciting going over the final fence though wasn't it. Or was I the only one jumping up and down? Still, it just goes to show, why back one horse when you can back four, that's what I say.
Breaking news which may be of interest to certain heavy-gambling readers of this blog, Ruby Walsh has broken his (emphasis on the 'his') wrist, and won't be riding Exit to Wave in the Grand National. Them's the breaks (literally).

But I've narrowed it down to five, despite the fact that the sun isn't even up yet, I haven't seen a weather forecast, and I've only slept about four of the last 40 hours.

So I'm pleased to announce that the winner of the Grand National will be Shardam. He'll be chased home by Hedgehunter. Third will be Amberleigh House, with fourth being a toss up between Joss Naylor and Lord Atterbury. Personally I've got £2 on all of them except Joss Naylor, on whom I've won enough times in the past. I don't like to keep bothering him. So expect him to romp home by 20 lengths, while my £2 on Lord Atterbury at 60-1 goes up in smoke at the final fence. I'm slightly concerned that Mark Bradburne, the jockey on whom that potential £120 profit depends, has just admitted "I've never sat on the horse, but I saw a lot of him last year and I know his connections think a lot of him."

By that token I'm qualified to ride in the Grand National myself. Hurrah! I wonder if I could get the leg-up on Exit to Wave now Ruby's out of the frame? I've never sat on the horse, but I've seen him on TV a couple of times and I've heard his mummy loves him.

Oh, and one more thing - don't forget to put the mortgage on my little Rhinestone Cowboy in the previous race at 2:55pm. You know it makes sense.

I'm still not talking to Thisthatandtother though. I don't care how much he apologises for Cheltenham. So expect him to hack up in the 2:20 just to annoy me.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

In view of the date, I feel I really ought to be writing some plausible piece about how I've just won the Nobel prize for literature and I'm dating Julie Reinger, the Look East weathergirl. But to be honest I've got a headache today (which would be handy if I was dating Julie Reinger - let's face it, you wouldn't want to end up in bed with the woman. And if you didn't have a headache when you met her, you soon would once she opened her mouth and started talking. That's if you didn't already have the onset of a migraine after looking at that shocking peach trouser suit she's STILL insisting on wearing every couple of weeks. But I digress...)

Actually, I may have to stop slagging off Ms Reinger, since discovering last week that she's practically a family friend, and was THIS far (hold your thumb and forefinger about half an inch apart as you read that) away from having tea with my parents.

Anyhoo, we're now up to 849 on the quiz front, so just the 500 or so in the past 24 hours. My website hit-counter currently stands at 4493 after 14 months in existence, so it's now obvious that hoping to attract visitors by creating a 68 page website (no really, there ARE 68 pages on my website - go count them) was a stoopid mistake, and I should have created a vegetable quiz instead. At this rate, more people will have taken my quiz in the next week than have visited my website in the past year. You couldn't make it up really. Not even on April Fools Day.

And the first reviews are in too. Without exception, they're fab, and I'm immensely proud of them. My particular favourites are...

"hey man, yer quiz was gay!... well it wasnt gay but i didnt like it....nevermind,g2g bye"

... and...

"Your QUIZ BITES!!But try mine some time,willya?"

You can't buy publicity like that. And I'm already tempted to create a 'How Gay is Your Quiz?' quiz. People clearly have a hard time making up their minds, so I think there's a gap in the market.