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Friday, July 30, 2004

I'd just like to apologise for outrageously forgetting to mention in my last post the stunning musical performance I was subjected treated to last night. If you think you've heard 'London's Burning' performed to perfection, then think again. You haven't really heard it until you've heard it performed by Lisa on the recorder. She's somehow managed to create a truly unique musical interpretation of an old classic.

Naturally I couldn't keep something like this to myself, so I insisted on making a recording of this event to share with the world. Yes, it's true, you too can have a little bit of Lisa in your own home, by simply downloading 336k of musical genius onto your computer. Click on the link below to be transported instantly to a high-speed, high-traffic internet download site, where (for a limited time), you can obtain this recording for free. (Though obviously if you want to send me money, I won't object. I'll use it to develop Lisa's career, I swear).

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you... Lisa.
Today Lisa and I have fulfilled lifelong ambitions by visiting...

Mmm... cheesecake.

I forget what we ate. Oh yes, cheesecake. And very nice it was too. Despite it being day two of my birthday (which this year is lasting 72 hours), we restricted ourselves to one slice each, and resisted the temptation to hand over a tenner and leave with one of their pig-tastic giant whole cheesecakes. Though next time I'm alone and fed up, you can bet your life I'll be heading straight into Ipswich with a ten pound note and a spoon.

We also made it as far as Boots, where I bought a bottle of 'Stubble Stop', a magic potion which claims to slow the rate of beard growth. With Lisa objecting to being sandpapered by my face on a regular basis, and me objecting to shaving more than once every 36 hours, it's a much needed product. Though it says it takes 8 weeks to work, so we'll be close to October before Lisa stops complaining.

With diets and beards well and truly behind us, we headed on to a secret location on the outskirts of Ipswich, where we surreptitiously engaged in an activity which I cannot possibly reveal on this blog. At least not until tomorrow. But it involved taking our shoes off and handing over money. I offered Lisa a few tips on her technique, and we both left satisfied.

We stopped for dinner at The Oyster Reach, which is STILL refusing to sell oysters (there's just no telling them), and I succeeded in eating a main course plus extra side dish, and still having room to finish Lisa's main course and try her dessert too. Which just goes to show that cheesecake isn't filling. But hey, it's my birthday (still), so I'm allowed to pig out.

Which is why we're embarking on day three of my gastronomic tour of Suffolk tomorrow, by heading for 'The Compasses' (I think it's something to do with drawing circles) in Holbrook for my official birthday meal. To quote Big Brother's Nadia (go Nads!), I'll be "a whale on walking legs" by Sunday.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

I'd just like to wish Happy Birthday to Diane Keen and Andi Peters. Many happy returns. Though I doubt they've received a gift wrapped fire extinguisher training certificate, so they can't possibly be having as good a day as me.

With the patience of a 5 year old at Christmas, Lisa insisted I open her presents at 1:00am last night. It would have been sooner, but she didn't finish wrapping them up til 12:55am. It was worth the wait however, as I received the formerly mentioned framed fire extinguisher certificate to hang on my wall as a constant reminder that Lisa has managed to pass something in her life. (Or at least I thought so - she later informed me that she doesn't think it's actually possible to fail the fire extinguisher training. If it was, she would have done, after managing to spray the instructor).

In addition, Lisa's generosity stretched to a paperweight, a cordless phone to enable me to go to the bathroom while I'm speaking to her, and a Terry Hall CD, in a shameless attempt to convert me to mid 80s music. Her efforts to convince me basically consisted of her stating that the man is a genius and she'd happily have his babies. Personally I'm unconvinced. On both scores.

But with perfect timing, our tickets for The Human League arrived in this morning's post, so she's not giving up yet.

In addition I received five cards with cats on, two cards with penguins, and one from my friend (I use the word loosely) Marie, which stated that "the most common cake for people your age is backache", to which she'd added "It's funny because it's true".

I'm also in possession of a pink pig cake (I'm only 31, it's allowed), so thank god my sister's in America.

But I'm holding out for my main delivery of gifts at the weekend when I force my family to gather in celebration of my birthday (two days late). That's assuming Lisa and I make it. We were actually planning a birthday activity yesterday evening, but having 'popped in' to Pizza Hut at Brighton Marina for a quick bite to eat first, we didn't 'pop out' again for two and a half hours, so that was the end of those plans. Personally I was drowning my sorrows, having announced the previous night that Soviet Song would win the 3:15 at Goodwood, and not getting around to putting a bet on before I left for Brighton. Naturally she romped to victory.

But in a spooky coincidence, it's also mine and Lisa's two month anniversary today, so we may force ourselves outdoors this evening for some kind of joint celebratory event. We have the added incentive of an e-mail which I received from Mick Kitson this afternoon, with a serious offer to reform The Senators and play at our wedding if we ever get married.

We'd never marry out of love, but with the firm offer of a live Senators gig on the table, we'll be straight down the town hall in the morning for a license.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Michael Moore, top lefty, best-selling author, documentary film-maker, and man behind the number one box-office smash 'Fahrenheit 9/11' (I'm giving him a good build up here) has started his own blog. Hurrah!

He began confidently on the 4th of July (that date rings a bell), continued with his second post just after midnight the following day, and... um... well that's about it. He hasn't actually managed a post since. You see, this daily blogging isn't as easy as you might think. He's probably got nothing to write about. You have to feel for these people with empty lives.

Anyhoo, no such problems for me - I'm off to Brighton for the afternoon. I'm not sure I've ever seen Brighton on a Wednesday, so it's quite exciting for me to have this kind of new experience when I'm still barely out of my twenties. I'll be returning with Lisa this evening. That's assuming she brings a gift-wrapped item of sufficient size with her. Otherwise she's not setting foot in my car.

While I'm here, may I just say thank you to my stalker-in-residence, who has managed to shake my faith in the security of the internet, and make me feel totally unsafe in my own home, by finding my address and sending me a birthday present. At least I assume it's a birthday present. It could be a dead rat. But either way I'll never know, as I felt obliged to have it blown up in a controlled explosion within minutes of dropping through my letterbox. I can't afford to take any chances.

Seriously though, thanks Weev! :o)

But if I find out you like Julie Reinger, I'm calling the police.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

There was a job advert in last night's local paper for 'Theatre Recovery Staff'. I thought yes! I've found my perfect job! Granted, the Ipswich Wolsey may have put on a performance of 'Candida' last month, and they're currently showing 'Johnny Thunder & the Trousers of Destiny', but even so, I don't think it's all over for them. With professional help from someone like me, I'm sure they can recover. Perhaps with a summer season of my plays. Not to mention a wider range of interval ice creams.

So I was reaching for my CV, only to discover the job was at the Nuffield Hospital, and involved helping people get over surgery. But still, the ice cream point is still relevant I feel.

(Can I just say how hard it is to write a blog post when Trisha is doing a show entitled "My Sister's Really My Mum, But Who's My Real Dad?")

Anyhoo, I've received a postcard this morning from my Big Sis. I wasn't actually aware she'd gone anywhere, but that's nothing new. It's from 'Camelback Mountain' (no, me neither), and the helpful info on the back states "If you look close you can see the silhouette of the camel". Don't you just love American grammar - close instead of closely. Top marks.

So come on everyone, look close...

It's a camel apparently

Hmmm... it looks more like a dinosaur to me. Or possibly a baby blackbird which has fallen out of the nest, and is lying helpless on the garden path waiting to be trodden on. But I suppose that wouldn't fit on the front of the postcard.

Anyway, the card reads...

Phleeps & Lisa, [er... she hasn't actually moved in yet, Sis. And I really should stop answering to the name Phleeps]
Very hot, lots of rocks & desert & I like it lots.
Lots love,
Big Sis. xx

You wouldn't believe she's a 32 year old mathematician.

Monday, July 26, 2004

I'm not easily disturbed, but I've had a visitor to my website this afternoon who arrived after searching Yahoo for the words "Phil Gardner suicide".

So I'd just like to make it clear that I didn't succeed, and I'm still alive. Thanks.

On the bright side, I also had a search for 'Poddington Peas' originating from the Microsoft-owned video game developers Rare, makers of 'Goldeneye'. So they're obviously planning a multi-million pound Poddington Peas game, and want me to write the script for the movie spin-off. I'll keep you posted.
I'm being talked about again on the Aqualung message board. (Not that I regularly do searches for myself you understand). Fortunately the stalker from Houston who referred to me as a couple of months ago has got it right at the second attempt, though she now appears to be directing people to my Ruth and Aqualung transcriptions by linking to my Moosic page, and frankly anyone who manages to scroll down and find the relevant little links on that page before boredom sets in, deserves a chocolate medal.

While I'm here, may I just say blimey days. Thanks. Not that I'm cynically attempting to get above Weevil in the Google listings at all - I just thought I'd say it. I'm unpredictable like that.

Anyhoo, obviously I have nothing to say today. Perhaps if I was older I'd have learned more about life and would have more to share with the world, but I'm barely out of my twenties so I haven't done much yet.

But I do find this picture endlessly amusing. It's a keyboard for pirates. I'm so easily pleased.


Sunday, July 25, 2004

Piece of cake. (That's not a comment, it's a request). I have duly completed (and submitted) my entry for the 24-Hour Road to Insanity Competition, and let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, it's 997 words of unrelenting quality.

Actually, to be honest, it really wasn't as bad as last time, something I put down to all the good luck messages and crossed fingers out there, so may I say thanks to all you little munchkins who wished me well. I appreciate it. Obviously not enough to share the $300 first prize with you, but even so, thanks.

So anyone wishing to put themselves through the experience of actually reading this piece of classic Philstuff may click on the link at the end of this post. Oi, not so fast. You need to read the disclaimer first...

My tactics for surviving this epic feat of creative endurance consisted of ignoring what the reserved, highbrow American judges might want to read, and instead writing the kind of stoopid gag-fest which would enable me to have a laugh for 24 hours. So if your silliness tolerance threshold is set fairly low, you may want to avoid this experience like the plague. It's not exactly Kafka. But hey, I'm barely out of my twenties, so you can't expect me to come up with anything profound.

Anyhoo, it's called 'Welcome to Earth', but it could've been worse - I very nearly called it 'The Unmistakable Honk'. In fact, in some ways I wish I had. But when it comes to silliness, you have to draw the line somewhere.

Oh, and it features the most criminal pun I've ever committed to paper. And what's more, it regards peanut butter. I can only apologise.

Still, it's reassuring to know that even with an entirely unrelated topic such as this one, I still managed to shoehorn in a reference to bagels. Not that I'm obsessed or anything.

Well, I think I'll go and relax for a bit. Lisa's mother upped the stakes on Monday by sending me packing from Brighton with two packets of Polos and a copy of Shrek on video. (I was holding out for the DVD, but you can't have everything). The Polos are long gone, but I think I've earned a bit of r&r in front of the TV. At least until I have to phone Lisa at 7pm for a chat about the Russian Revolution.

As for the rest of you, Welcome to Earth.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Ok, here's the 'topic' for the short story contest:

"It had taken him almost an hour to climb over the rocks to the hidden beach. His metal detector was strapped to his back and he didn't think many other treasure hunters would go to this much effort. It was low tide, so he started at the water line and began sweeping the detector back and forth. On his fifth pass, the detector gave a strong beep..."

... so I'm off to write an everyday tale of metal-detecting folk. Sigh...

But on the bright side, all my experience of sitting under Brighton pier with a laptop should come in handy on this one.
Six months ago, I entered the Writer's Weekly 24-Hour Short Story Contest, a contest where (brace yourself for a shock) you have to write a short story in 24 hours. For details of just what a joyful experience of unending loveliness this was for me, click here.

These contests are held every three months, not that that is of any interest to me, because of course I'd vowed never to enter again. Particularly after the judges committed an act of inexplicable outrageousness by somehow managing not to award me first prize.

The thing about lifelong vows though, is that you can't expect them to last more than six months. I successfully swerved the April contest, which coincided with Lisa's first ever visit to Shotley Gate (sentimentalists say 'aah' now), allowing me to escape my computer and go to the theatre instead. But three months on, and I seem to have a free weekend...

So in an act of extreme stupidity, I've registered for today's contest (which surprisingly still had some places left - possibly because most other people have learned their lesson and stuck to their vow). The 24 hours of hell starts at 6pm.

Of course, I might stand a better chance of producing a piece of quality creative writing if someone hadn't kept me up til 4am this morning talking on the phone...

Friday, July 23, 2004

I'm not one to generalise, but why is it that all celebrities, without exception, are completely and utterly barking? (And why is it that I can't use the word 'utterly' without thinking of Timmy Mallett?). (Who also proves my point about celebrities being barking). (If you can call him a celebrity). (But I digress)...

I'm constantly two weeks behind with the news, so I've only just found myself perusing this interview with Naomi Campbell in The Guardian.

Not that my hopes were high of any intellectual insights from Ms Campbell, but even taking into account my low expectations, this took the biscuit. She was talking about a humanitarian visit she made to a Romanian orphanage, when she recounted this touching tale:

"There was this one little cute boy called Yanus and I've never forgotten his name and he was, like, so weak but he got out of bed and I said, 'What do you want?' and he said, 'I just want Lego.' And by the time I sent the Lego he was dead. It was so sad. And it's a small world because I knew his dentist."

I've been trying to write comedy like that for years. I wish I'd bought her novel 'Swan' now.

But that's not all. In the same week, we had an interview with the actor Christopher Walken in The Observer (no really, I do read The Observer) (well ok, I don't, but I happened to read this), in which he stated:

"I don't buy tomatoes with the stems on them. They don't degrade. They go down the sink and into the water. Then they get lodged in the throats of little otters."

Now, I like otters as much as the next man, but tomato stems? Really? You see, this is why I'm not famous - I'm far too sane. (Don't argue with me on this one).

Incidentally, this is officially my 300th blog post. A momentous milestone which proves that some people just have too much time on their hands.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Phil's poser of the week:

1. Go here. It's a website entitled 'How to Make Roman Shades'. Yes, Roman Shades. No, I don't know what they are either. But not to worry. As the website says, "They Laughed When I Said I Would Make My Own Roman Shades - But When They Saw Them On My Windows..." Er, the quote seems to end there. I presume it's some kind of caption competition. But anyhoo, let's move on...

2. Go to the Roman Shades Resource Collection, here.

3. Click on 'Index #10".

4. Click on 'curtain kitchen mart wal' (the 8th one down).

5. Scroll down and look at the resources.

6. Tell me why I'm listed there.

I wouldn't mind, but a search on Google reveals 10,800 websites featuring those four words, and I'm nowhere to be seen, so why have the webmasters at 'Roman Shade Secrets You Need to' (I'm sorry, but I don't believe there are any Roman Shade secrets I personally need to know) (and I don't mean that I know them all already) (I mean that I don't particularly care) seen fit to list me as a top ten resource?

Answers on a postcard please. You could win a major prize. Or failing that, some Roman Shades.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I've just booked two tickets for The Human League in Ipswich on Monday, December 13th. Not that I'M stuck in the 1980s (personally I'm barely out of my twenties, so I'm more of an early 90s kind of guy - Chesney Hawkes... Vanilla Ice... Mr Blobby...), but unfortunately I know someone who is.

It wouldn't be so bad, but we're already signed up to go and see Nik Kershaw, Bucks Fizz, and the bloke from Kajagoogoo in Brighton the following Saturday. If New Kids on the Block ever reform, I could be in serious trouble.
Hold on to your hats, the situation has escalated. We're moving up to a code red. Yes people, I've started receiving death threats.

Well, notes regarding the threat of death. Which is almost as good. Personally I'm still holding out for love notes through my door, but it's just not happening. So in the meantime I'll have to make do with this little billet-doux which has come fluttering through my letterbox...

Death Threat

It's nice to know I'm just a chilly night away from certain death. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Which is just as well, coz I obviously can't use my gas fire.

I've written back to Judith (I can see us becoming pen pals) assuring her that there can't possibly be as much debris in the flue as there was on my living room carpet a couple of weeks ago, but I'll have it checked nonetheless, and in the meantime I'll send a small Victorian street urchin up the chimney with a large brush.

So I expect that's the last I'll hear from her.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Having arisen at 4am on Monday morning, I successfully arrived back in Shotley Gate before 3:30am last night, so it's nice to know I can make it back home less than 24 hours after getting up in the morning. I clearly planned my weekend badly, being in Brighton on Friday while teen idols Busted played Ipswich, and spending Sunday in Ipswich while Simon Cowell judged a dog show in Brighton. No really, he did. Just how do you persuade a multi-millionaire celebrity music mogul who clearly doesn't need the money, to come and judge your local dog show anyway? One word - blackmail. There's no other explanation.

But then again, Pete Waterman's judging the vegetables at this year's Shotley Summer Fete.

No really, he is.

Well ok, he's not. But I bet we could get Dr Fox if we wanted to.

Anyhoo, I'd just like to offer my congratulations to my friend Paula, who has just learnt that she's to become a grandmother for the first time. Being barely out of my twenties, I'm clearly too young to have grandmothers as mates, so we may have to call time on this friendship, but it was good while it lasted. And it just goes to show that I can comfortably get on with old people. Lisa being a case in point.

So to celebrate, here's a picture of Paula with her legs apart.

Super Gran

Monday, July 19, 2004

I'm not sure why everyone in Britain was driving around the M25 at 6:45am this morning, but despite that, I managed to get Lisa to work for 8:20am, which wasn't bad considering we left ten minutes late (I know, I could hardly believe it myself - the two of us late for something, it's unheard of). But that's the advantage of listening to Nik Kershaw's greatest hits on the car stereo - it spurs you on to reach your destination as soon as possible. I did my best to sing along to "Wouldn't it be Good" though, as we're going to see the man live in December (no, he's not dead), and I don't want to look stupid. Though I think Lisa's planning on wearing a snood, so I probably have nothing to worry about.

Anyhoo, I'm currently back at Lisa's flat, where I've just had a very nice nap on her bed. It's so much easier to sleep when she's not in it. I'd give a detailed report on our weekend together, but frankly I'm not sure it stands scrutiny. With all the fresh air and exercise we take, it could get boring very quickly. The highlight for me however, was going in for a kiss on Saturday night just as Lisa came out with the words "Another two weeks and you'll be old". She has a way of sweet-talking me like that.
Yes, I am up at 4:45am.
This is what happens when you decide it makes sense to let your girlfriend stay another night, and then drive her to work for 8am, 135 miles away, the next morning.
Life with Lisa is like a rollercoaster ride. It makes you sick. It's constantly exciting.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

I realise I haven't posted anything all weekend, but I've been distracted by a poster I saw on Friday afternoon in the window of the Queen's Arms pub in Brighton, advertising a drag act called Betty Swollocks. It's been hard to concentrate on anything after that.
However, my lack of blogging is no longer a problem, because [fanfare please] I now have an able assistant along the lines of the lovely Debbie McGee (only lovelier) (in the right sort of light). Yes kids, there's a new blog in town. *shudder*
Contrary to public demand, Lisa has gone ahead and launched herself onto the world wide web. She claims to be pioneering the all-new "one post per month" blogging technique, but knowing her as I do, I think we'll be lucky to get away with less than a dozen posts an hour. Especially when she's at work.
So take a deep breath everyone, adopt the crash position, and click here.

Friday, July 16, 2004

It's always good to touch base with the less conventionally sane members of Brighton's street community. I think they consider me one of their own. Which is perhaps not surprising when I have no qualms about sitting on the wall outside Lisa's place of work, merrily swinging my legs whilst wearing a Bart Simpson baseball cap and holding a notepad, pen, and copy of Alan Ayckbourn's 'The Crafty Art of Playmaking'.

So there I was at 4:30pm yesterday afternoon, when I was approached by a young lady carrying a large pad and pen. She clearly saw my Tesco Value notepad (every expense spared), recognised a kindrid spirit, and decided to engage me in conversation. She began by asking if she could look at my book. Being naively trusting, I handed it over, a decision I instantly felt uneasy about. I couldn't help thinking that if she ran off with it, read it, and wrote a hit west end play instead of me, I might regret my generosity somewhat.

As it turned out, she was only interested in the cover. She attempted to pronounce the name Alan Ayckbourn (to be fair, English wasn't her first language) (to be slightly less fair, I think she was on drugs too), so I decided to be friendly by saying "He's a playwright, have you heard of him?". She said something vaguely French. I took it as a 'no'. She then began to copy down every word on the cover of the book, before asking me how long Alan Ayckbourn had been going. I saw the chance to display my vast knowledge of British playwrights, so I struck a confident pose and told her it was at least thirty years, hoping she wouldn't open the book and prove me wrong. She was impressed, and wrote down "30 years" on her pad, before moving on to the quote from the Daily Telegraph ("A classic handbook for all aspiring dramatists and directors"). Having copied that down too, she passed the book back to me with the words "And he's been playing for thirty years?"

Possibly she hadn't fully grasped the concept, but I took the easy way out and said yes. Fortunately Lisa then emerged from the nearby door, kicked her love rival to the kerb (I'm talking figuratively there) and reclaimed me as her own. Twenty minutes later in a St James's Street coffee shop, we saw my new friend passing by outside, furiously writing on her pad as she went. She's probably finished Act I already.

Anyhoo, I'm writing this on Friday morning at Brighton Marina, dangerously close to a branch of McDonalds. So it won't be long before I have McFlurry stains on my laptop keyboard. I return home tonight, bringing Lisa with me, so you can expect to see her on my webcam within 24 hours.

Obviously she won't be, but you can expect it all the same.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

It's exactly two weeks til my birthday (put that date in your diary now, I insist), so if you're stuck for gift ideas, I've decided I'd like an eglu. Yes, that's right, an eglu. Try to show a bit of enthusiasm here, will you. Thanks.

This is an eglu...

Cluck me

Yes, I know, it looks like a cross between a cat basket and an iMac, but it is in fact a chicken house for the 21st century, enabling people like me who live in the middle of busy cities in remote Suffolk villages, to keep chickens in our back gardens. Not that I have a back garden, but I do have a spare room. And I used to like 'The Good Life' on TV. Not to mention Big Brother.

And what's more, the eglu comes with two hens thrown in, providing you with enough guaranteed laying power to produce a dozen eggs a week.

Which is too many. So naturally I'll eat one of the chickens.

And all this for just £365. With Asda charging me £1.30 for a dozen free range eggs, the eglu will pay for itself in just... um... five and a half years. Hang on, that doesn't sound so good now. How long do chickens live anyway?

Well whatever, I've decided I'd like one. So click on the pic and get ordering. I'll send you a thank you letter, I promise.

Right, I'm off to Brighton. Back tomorrow. Be good y'all.

(I apologise for my shameless use of the word "y'all". I assure you it won't happen again).

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Er... I've just looked up an old copy of the Shotley Noticeboard (which mentions anyone who's anyone in Shotley Gate. Apart from me, obviously), and realised that Nanna Long didn't say Nanna, she said Anna. Which just goes to show why I'd never make a good journalist. Honestly, she shouldn't have confused me by talking about grandchildren.
Being a local celebrity, I can't step foot outside my front door without being accosted by adoring fans. Literally. I'd made it as far as my wheelie bin at the bottom of my steps just now, before being apprehended by a lady with the words "Are you the chap my sister's looked up on the net?".

I considered for a moment whether I could get away with a simple "Me no speak English", decided against it, and instead went with a non-committal "Probably".

Which led to a brief conversation, marred slightly by the fact that I have a mind like a sieve, and no sooner had we parted than I realised I couldn't remember what she said her name was. Though I do know her sister's called Mel. Fortunately, we were joined in mid chat by 'Nanna Long', which is the kind of name you don't forget, and who happens to be Mel and Anon's mother (as well as a Parish Councillor - I voted for you, Nanna Long. No, really), proving that my appeal spans the generations.

Being the king of small talk, I naturally ummed and ahhed my way through the conversation, saying nothing of any interest, while Anon followed the example of everyone I've ever met, by trying to raise the subject of depression without actually mentioning the word 'depression'. Which always amuses me, and is of course why I wrote my depression page in the first place. In the end she went with "the content of your site rang a lot of bells with me", which was sufficiently vague enough to avoid embarrassment. But I knew what you meant, Anon.

At least I hope I did. Maybe she was just talking about my views on Julie Reinger.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Ha! Someone out there hates me! How fantastic.

Following on from my glorious two (count them) votes at The Weblog Review, my position of popularity was consolidated by a third vote of 5 this morning.

Sadly however, all good things must come to an end, and so it is that I've just checked the site, to be greeted with the news that I've received a fourth vote. Hurrah! This anonymous person carefully weighed up the pros and cons of this blog, took everything into consideration, then calmly gave me a rating of...


A quarter of a point out of five. Still, it could've been worse, they could've given me zero. Oh no, I've just checked, 0.25 is as low as they go. So let's face it, it couldn't have been worse.

I can only presume they didn't like my new heading.
I have terrible news, my friends. Tuesday, July 13th 2004, will go down as a dark day in the world of international blogging. The storm clouds which have been gathering ominously for some time now, have finally burst, bringing a whole world of pain and torment raining down upon our heads. Our lives may never be the same again. Yes people, it's true...

Lisa's decided to start her own blog.

Obviously I'm not happy. And not just because I know damn well that it'll be better than mine. How am I supposed to give one-sided accounts of our weekends together, when everyone can flip over to Lisa's blog and find out what really happened? Eh? Answer me that. And I feel decidedly uneasy knowing that I've lost my power to merrily delete anything she says.

And what's going to become of this place? It'll be like a new branch of Asda opening just down the road from my little corner shop. Within weeks this blog will be like a ghost town, and I'll be forced to apply for a job collecting trolleys for the enemy (possibly from the front gardens of Brazillian fruit loops, but that's another story).

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. It hasn't happened yet. And being a woman, Lisa's inclined to change her mind at the drop of a hat. She's also admitted that she "couldn't be bothered to read all the steps" required to set up her own blog, so the project is currently on ice. And once I tell her that it's compulsory to put pictures of oneself on one's blog, she may go off the idea entirely.

So fingers crossed everyone. If we stick together, we can weather this storm.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Hurrah for the incompetence of Tescos! I've just had my shopping delivered from Tesco Online (due to the fact that I have the audacity to live 11 miles from the nearest supermarket), and having unpacked all the bags, I find it includes three boxes of Tesco 'Finest' Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice Ice Lollies which I didn't order and haven't paid for. Yum. So I'm not answering the door for the rest of the day in case they return and ask for them back.

Now let's see... I have three boxes of four ice lollies, and just four days before Lisa arrives for the weekend. So I need to eat three lollies per day. Right, I think I can manage that.

(I'm only thinking of your hips, Lisa).

In other news, I worked hard to clean both the kitchen and bathroom to enable me to have this afternoon free for a bit of writing. So naturally, being the world's biggest procrastinator (see fact 55 in my 101 Phil Phacts), I spent two hours tinkering with my blog heading instead. I've been through a number of changes (including swirly spirally things, bunny rabbits, and a rather fetching red and white barber's pole), before settling on the simple eye candy you see above. And I'm still not sure I'm happy with it. But this blog is nothing if not organic (and ozone friendly), so consider it a work in progress.
I really should be in bed, but I was just idly clicking on my own links (which is how self absorbed I am), and I found myself paying a return visit to The Weblog Review. Whereupon I casually glanced at the "Reader's Top Five" list, and saw the words 'Mulled Whines' at the head of the charts. I'm a bit slow, so it took a moment before I realised where I'd heard that before, but then it was all clenched fists, struts around the living room, and cries of "Yessssss! I'm a hit!!!".

So I scrolled down to see exactly how many members of the general public had voted me in as the number one rated blog in the known universe. And the answer...?


I haven't experienced popularity like this since I wrote my Poddington Peas Quiz.

It turns out that only two people have voted for me, but by giving me an average rating of 4.125 they've managed to strike a blow for proportional representation and propel me into the number one spot, whilst simultaneously demonstrating why Paddy Ashdown never became Prime Minister.

Of course, the moment a third person comes along and gives me a rating of 1, I'll be catapulted straight off the list, and probably start appearing in some kind of Hall of Shame reserved for the world's most hated blogs.

But still, it's nice while it lasts.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

They say a picture's worth a thousand words, so if I post a picture, does that mean I can get away without writing anything today? Marvellous. It's not that I have nothing to say, it's just that... well ok, I have nothing to say. Unless you want to hear about me cleaning my kitchen. It's not very exciting. Although it did lead to the discovery that I have various food items which are eighteen months past their sell by date. Which is a shame, because anything over a year and I feel I have to throw it out.

So here's a donkey instead.


It brings to mind the time my sister was kicked by a donkey on Hastings beach (I was once kicked in the Trossachs, which I'm sure was more painful), resulting in a bruise of many colours. A tale which, when I recently recounted it to Lisa, led her to declare "I wish my sister had been kicked by a donkey. I'd have laughed". They're such a close family.

It also puts me in the mood for a limerick. Not that I generally need an excuse.

There was a young girl from Madras,
Who had a magnificent ass,
Not rounded and pink,
As you'd probably think,
It was grey, had two ears, and ate grass.

I really shouldn't be allowed to make up blog posts as I go along. This is what happens.

Friday, July 09, 2004

This is the first time I've ever posted to my blog with an audience. I'm currently being watched via the ladder outside my living room window by two highly skilled scaffolding operatives, who are putting their years of extensive training to good use by taking down the monstrosity which has been adorning the front of my flat for the past three weeks. Appearances can be deceptive, because whilst I know that the scaffolding company would only employ people to stand halfway up ladders and swing large metal pipes around within inches of my double glazing if they're highly experienced technicians, they actually look like a couple of shifty 16 year olds in baseball caps.

But on the plus side, they probably can't read, so I'm ok saying that.

(I can see myself getting more hate mail at this rate. And the irony is I'm such a nice guy in real life. No, really, it's true).

I don't know what I feel more self conscious about - the fact that I'm sitting here writing my blog in public when I haven't shaved since Sunday, or the fact that I'm openly watching an episode of Trisha entitled "You're Too Old to be a Stripper".

Those guys have no idea just what an insight they're getting into my daily life.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Flipping heck, dash it, and crumbs - I think I'm becoming a potty mouth. Having shocked my mother with the language in my first two plays, I successfully managed to make it all the way through the last without resorting to a single swear word in 30,000 attempts. Which is why I've happily agreed to a request from Lisa's elderly Aunt Phyllis for a signed copy. Well ok, she didn't actually ask for it to be signed, but I'm sure she would've done if she'd thought of it. Either way, that's what she's getting. And possibly a photo too. I just hope the word 'breasts' on page one won't put her off. But I digress...

8,000 words into my current bit of nonsense however, and it's all gone horribly wrong. Having avoided the language of the gutter thus far, I've suddenly started swearing like a trooper, and added not one, but two cases of the 'f' word this afternoon, and one of the 'p'. And I don't mean 'fudge' and 'Phil'.

But in my defence, I'd just like to say that they're all germane to the plot, and fully justified in the context of the drama. No, I flipping well mean it. And you can all buzz off and get lost if you don't believe me.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I've decided to turn over a new leaf and actually write something constructive in the next seven days. You never know, it could happen. How this fits in with the fact that there's horse racing on the telly this week though, I don't know. But having made £40 yesterday, I'm sure it makes sense to leave my life as a successful gambler, and turn instead to a quality piece of writing which will no doubt earn me nothing. It's art which matters, not money. God, what a charade.

So in lieu of a lengthy blog post, I'll make do with a picture of a nun on the internet.

Oooh! Porn!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

You haven't lived til you've seen the sun rise over the scaffolding outside your living room window. Yes, it's still there. The new chimney may have been completed a week ago, but obviously the builders believe in giving every opportunity to the local burglars, by leaving that ladder up against the side of my flat for as long as possible. Fortunately though, I cunningly left my living room curtains ajar whilst I was away, to enable any would-be thieves to see that I have nothing worth stealing. I also left Cedrick, my tacky stuffed camel, by the window to really hammer home the point.

I only mention Cedrick as a tenuous link to my good friend Marie, who is 25 years old today. So I'd like to wish her happy birthday, despite her tendency to bring me back dodgy stuffed camels from her trips to Egypt, which just end up leaking sawdust all over my desk.

In celebration of this special event, here's a picture of her ear with a paperclip through it.

She's all ears.

The spirit of punk lives on.

Anyhoo, I continued to push the boundaries of how late you can leave Brighton on a Monday night before you actually have to admit you're leaving on Tuesday morning, by rolling out of Lisa's flat at 1:35am last night, armed with two packets of crisps, a can of Coke, and four, count them, four packets of Polos - my biggest haul yet. I don't even have to see Lisa's mother to collect them - I arrived on the Friday to find a note and two packets waiting for me. The chocolate seashells I bought as a thank you obviously went down well, and a further two packets was forthcoming on the Monday evening. My tongue's never been so sore.

Monday, July 05, 2004

These Monday morning on-location reports from Brighton seafront are becoming a bit old hat. And I haven't even seen a celebrity (or Mike Read) to liven things up today. There do seem to be a remarkable number of slumbering drunks on the beach this morning though. It must be the warm weather which brings them out. Like midges. Only more lethargic.

Yesterday featured a meal out at "Samson's", a Brighton restaurant which Lisa hasn't been to for 17 years. So obviously she was just a small child when she last ate there (yeah right). We dubbed it our 'anniversary meal', on account of the fact that we've been an item for one month. Well, one month and eight days. But who's counting. Certainly not us, as we proved by beginning a conversation with the words "What was it, the 28th of May or the 29th?"

Personally I'm going with the 29th. It may have been Friday night when I picked up the phone, but it was Saturday morning before I heard those three little words, "Oh
alright then"
. And besides, I wasn't believing anything until I had the confirmation in writing later that day.

Anyhoo, we enjoyed a quality meal, enhanced by the helpful waiter, who arrived before each course to list all the items they were out of. Having been informed which desserts I couldn't have, I chose the toffee pudding, he took my order, went away, came back, and told me that was off too. Still they eventually managed to find enough scraps in the kitchen to cobble together a meal, and we both ate. Me significantly more than Lisa.

Interestingly, there was a report in the paper the other day which said that hippos could once be found in East Anglia, but had died out thousands of years ago. Well rewrite the headlines, I return home tonight.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

It's interesting how, after a couple of glasses of wine late on a Friday night, Lisa's quite happy to let me put a photo of her on my website. It's slightly less interesting how, in the cold light of day, she completely changes her mind. Still, we've reached a compromise...

I'm the one on the left.

... and what's more, we actually went out in public dressed like that. Having been assured by Lisa's friend that parking in the vicinity of his flat is no problem at all, we rejected the bus in favour of my car, and set out last night for birthday drinks on the other side of Brighton. Our destination was a street called 'The Drive', an appropriate name, as you have to drive up and down it at least half a dozen times before it finally sinks in that there are no parking spaces. Still, I enjoyed our jaunt through the backstreets of Brighton with a bottle of wine in each hand, as we made our way on foot from the multi-storey car park a quarter of a mile away.

Staying just long enough to hear a story about an avocado baby, which certainly didn't make me question the sanity of our host in any way (no, really), we left promptly in order to fulfil a prior engagement with my sister on the A23. She in turn has formed a close relationship with a pair of crutches after having her front doorstep painted in gloss paint shortly before a rainstorm. Not that she lives the life of Frank Spencer or anything.

Today very nearly featured a mercy mission to the local hospital, until the patient in question had the nerve to be discharged before Lisa and I could turn up with the grapes. Some people are so ungrateful. The least they could do is remain ill until we arrived. That's the problem with modern medicine - they can tell when you're better. I blame Doogie Howser.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Lord Brockett is currently live on daytime TV, discussing the merits of national service. You'd never think that just four days ago he was chasing girls in bikinis on Brighton beach. Still, if he's occupied in a TV studio, it means I can safely return to the south coast. So I'll be off then.

Lisa has just e-mailed me a shopping list. It makes perfect sense: she's 200 yards from Safeway, I'm 135 miles away. Naturally I'll get the yoghurts.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

My friend Paula has just texted me to say:

"Good news... Saddam's been given the death penalty.

Bad news... Beckham's going to take it."

And people say my sense of humour is dodgy.
Shotley Parish Council is in the process of setting up its own website, to be entitled 'My Shotley'. I should know - I was approached to be its editor a couple of months ago. Obviously I turned them down, on the grounds that I don't get out of bed for less than ten grand. Well ok, I just don't get out of bed. The money has nothing to do with it. But despite this, I've now been invited to contribute fifty words expressing what Shotley means to me, to be placed on the front page.

Naturally I don't need to be asked twice when it comes to getting my name on someone else's website, so I've agreed. I'm just not sure they'll like what I've written...

Still, I can always resubmit, with fewer references to men dressed as ducks.

In other news, this blog has been reviewed by The Weblog Review, a site which does exactly what it says on the tin. Reading their considered opinion, I think they know more about my depression than I do, which is slightly scary. Still it's nice to know my blog is "the least visually appealing page on his website", as it's the only one I didn't design myself. A definite vote of confidence for my design skills there. I'd also like to claim that my "tendency to confuse the reader" is entirely deliberate. And probably all Lisa's fault.