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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Well the less said about that, the better.

Although I'd backed Footstepsinthesand to place in the first three, so that won me twenty quid.

Just the odd two hundred and eighty short...
Before leaving for Brighton yesterday afternoon, I got an e-mail from the BBC confirming that they've received my Last Laugh entry. Which is a bit of a shame. It means that when I lose I can't adopt my usual tactics of claiming they never received it.

So there's no alternative - I'll just have to bribe the judges. And fortunately I may soon have the financial means to do it...

Four months ago, in the midst of a hogmanay fog, I invested £15 in a horse called Rob Roy to win the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket at the end of April. At the time he was a ickle baby horse who'd only run one race in his entire life. But that was four months ago. He's now run... um... two. And he didn't win the second one.

But personally I still think he's got winner written all over him. Or he would do if the police hadn't confiscated my spray can. And anyway, having backed him at 20-1 four months ago, he's now the 5-1 second favourite for today's race, so frankly I've already had a moral victory here.

Though to be honest I'd prefer the three hundred pounds. So if you've got fingers, cross them. And then stick two of them up at the TV when the Iceman cometh and pips him on the line.

Friday, April 29, 2005

I'm off down to Brighton today. I'm going partly to see Lisa (it's our 11 month anniversary today), partly to do some cat-sitting for her friend Lorraine, but mainly to avoid having to help Crash n Donna move house.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, Lisa and I will be seeing each other every day in May. It's like a telethon - it goes on forever, you just wish it would end, and there are frequent demands for money it's great fun and does a lot of good. And it features an appearance by Duran Duran cynically trying to plug their new single. But that's not til the 28th...

Wild Boys

In other news, I've entered a ten minute extract of 'Be Worth It' into Theatre & Beyond's 2005 'Playwrights Slam', which sounds more violent than it probably is. The winners get performed at the Chichester Festival, whose website are already trying to sell tickets for the event. Presumeably because they know that if I win they'll have to reduce the price.

Personally I'm more interested in the play at the top of the page - 'Gaby Goes Global', described as "a comedy about a Brighton Department for Work and Pensions Claimant Advisor". Well they do say you should write about what you know.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Well the sitcom's been submitted to the BBC, so from now on if anyone comes up with any devastatingly witty lines about penguins, you can keep them to yourself. Lisa's officially given it the thumbs up, so either she likes it, or she's too polite to tell me what she really thinks. Personally I'm going for the latter.

But I'm becoming slightly mystified by the response to Annie's People (the script I chose to complete). Someone turned up on the BBC Last Laugh message board yesterday (and no, it wasn't me - I have far better things to do. Have you seen the new series of People's Court with Carol Smillie?) and announced that they'd finished AP. A statement which produced comments such as...

"You're a brave, brave person doing Annie's People! I think that was the hardest script to pick up and add an ending to."

"Maybe they'll pro rata the grades according to difficulty of script and you'll emerge the outright winner on difficulty alone."

"I take my hat off to you - I found it difficult to read to the end of AP."

Eh? Admittedly I haven't read any of the other scripts, but I'm beginning to wonder if they all gave you a list of punchlines to choose from.

But anyhoo, far more exciting is that I've received my election ballot papers in the post today (I opted for a postal vote as I'm due to be in Brighton on polling day, and I'm not driving all the way back just to vote for someone who can't spell peninsula).

Interestingly, they print the home address of each candidate on the ballot paper, so I've been checking a few maps...

Tim Yeo, the Tory candidate, lives in White Horse Road, East Bergholt - 13 miles away.

Kathy Pollard, the Lib Dem, lives in The Street (though hopefully not literally in the street), Capel St Mary - 14 miles away.

James Carver of UKIP lives in Mill Street, Nayland - 23 miles away.

And Kevin Craig of Labour lives in Chelsom Road, London - um... 85 miles away.

London??? How did he manage to save Walnuttree Hospital from there??? No wonder he hasn't knocked on my door, he probably can't afford the train fare.

So I'm discounting Kev on grounds of distance, and Tim on grounds of spelling. UKIP have so far put nothing through my door, so I have to rule them out on grounds of apathy. If Jim can't even be bothered to claim that he saved Walnuttree Hospital, or have a stab at the word peninsula, he's not getting my vote.

Which only leaves Kath. I wonder if she's related to Vicky..?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Missing you already
Missing you already

Of all the times to go and have a shower. I've missed Miss Peninsular herself!!! I don't believe it. I could have asked her what's happened to Internet Cafe.

But on the bright side, I've got the woman's phone number. Though obviously I wouldn't advise everyone reading this blog to call her up at home and ask her to spell peninsula and Walnuttree. That would be irresponsible.

Although she does say ANY issue you'd like to discuss...

But never mind, I'm sure she'll come back. And next time I will answer the door in a towel.

Anyhoo, the big news of the day (well, yesterday) is that I've finished my ten minute sitcom script for the BBC.

Actually that's not true, the BIG news of the day is that Ben Harris, the macho builder currently winning over the ladies on Channel 4's Playing It Straight on Friday nights, was Mr Gay UK 1998. Which is particularly annoying as five days ago Lisa offered to bet me £50,000 that he's straight.

But back to the slightly less big news of the day. The sitcom's finished. Hurrah! And having been told to aim for 2,300 words, the finished script came in at 2,483 words. So I spent yesterday afternoon editing it. And it's now down to 2,479.

Lisa's running an eye over it for me today (not that she's allowed to suggest any changes) (well not if she knows what's good for her), and I plan on submitting it tomorrow. So all I need to do now is lose some weight before the TV crew arrive to film me for the winners programme (or the Pizza Hut commerical I get for being the saddest loser). The camera adds two stone y'know. At least that's what I'll be claiming after the show airs.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

On Friday night a film called 'A Lot Like Love' (there's alliteration for you) opened across America.

It's a fluffy romantic comedy starring Ashton Kutcher, Amanda Peet, and numerous other people I've never heard of and don't care about.

I haven't seen the film, and probably never will. But this is what it's done for a particular page on my website...

Suddenly you're mine...

I've gone from three hits a day at the beginning of the month, to 138 on Sunday.

And why? Because I happen to have a transcription of the Aqualung song 'Brighter Than Sunshine', which (I've just found out) is on the soundtrack of 'A Lot Like Love'. So all across America this weekend, people have seen the film, heard the song, and arrived at my site looking for the lyrics.

I wouldn't mind, but none of them ever actually stay and read my writing. I might have to stick a play at the bottom of the page to make the most of the traffic.

Actually, if any American music fans have made it as far as this blog, can I just mention that Lisa has (in the past) (and she probably regrets it) (but even so) described my version of 'Brighter Than Sunshine' as "better than the original", (even her mother managed to sit through it without falling asleep), and I am available for live dates. So e-mail me if you can't get Matt Hales. Strictly cash in hand though.

While I'm here, I must just draw everyone's attention to today's quality edition of Richard & Judy on Channel 4 at 5pm. It's rumoured to feature a short film on the life of King Nicholas, top Norfolk based tie salesman, static home dweller, and occasional blog commenter.

I've heard the film crew were a constant delight to work with, so I'm sure the resulting feature will be well worth watching, and is bound to elicit some classic words of wisdom from the human quote-machine that is Richard Madeley. I'm setting the video as we speak...

Monday, April 25, 2005

A week and a half before polling day, and I've now received leaflets from all three of the main political parties. Which serves me right for having a letterbox. Labour and the Lib Dems have managed to dodge the main issue of this election by refusing to even attempt to spell the word 'peninsula', so sadly it means I'll have to find another issue to help me decide who to vote for.

So let's look at the differences between the three candidates.

There's Tim Yeo of the Conservative party...

Vote Conservative!

Kathy Pollard for the Lib Dems...

Vote Liberal Democrat!

And Kevin Craig for Labour...

Vote Labour!

So that's it then - the first candidate who knocks on my door and DOESN'T claim that they single-handedly saved Walnuttree Hospital gets my vote. I'd never even heard of Walnuttree Hospital three days ago. I barely know where Sudbury is. But I'm already irritated that Walnuttree is all one word. Frankly I'd close it down until they agree to a hyphen.

And I'll be putting that point to the next person who knocks on my door. It's about time we had some answers.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The exciting news of the day is that my mother's back from Dallas (not from the dead, as was suggested to me recently). The most interesting thing she's learnt from her trip is that according to the American Airlines flight attendant, they no longer do children's meals because of 9/11.

So my little niece went hungry, but on the bright side, no one was able to overpower the pilot with a Turkey Twizzler.

The slightly less exciting news of the day is that I've almost finished my ten minute sitcom script. I didn't manage to add to it yesterday (I was too busy winning twenty five quid on the horses - you see it's not all failed Pope bets around here), but today resulted in another two scenes of knockabout humour and laboured drug references, so the end is in sight.

I've also been checking out the competition. Having chosen 'Annie's People' from the list of eight possible scripts, using an advanced selection procedure based on a combination of laziness and blind luck, I was interested to see who else had plumped for this sitcom.

Entering "'Annie's People', BBC Last Laugh" into Google gets you a grand total of five results:

1. The BBC site.
2. This blog.
3. A blog whose author has posted that he's NOT doing Annie's People.
4 & 5. Two online forums. One of which says "Annie's People, although a great idea, may be too challenging for first time script writers", and the other describes it as "either too dour or just not funny".

Which should make it easy to complete - I can be dour and unfunny at the drop of a hat.

In addtion, Writers' Dock, an offshoot of the old BBC Get Writing site, has polled its members and found only one who's elected to do Annie's People.

And that one is me.

So that's handy. I always find it's easier to win competitions if no one else enters. Though I can't say I'm looking forward to the after show party.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

I don't believe it. Yesterday it was the County Councillor, today it's the turn of the sitting MP...

Vote for me!


I'm sure they're only doing it to wind me up.

I think I'll pledge my vote here and now to the first candidate who actually manages to spell the name of the place where I live. And knowing my luck it'll be the BNP.

But on the bright side, it's exactly one year today since I first wended my merry little way down to Brighton in search of single women. As it turned out, I found two, but only one of them was willing to listen to my horse racing tips. And it wasn't Lisa.

On top of that I wrote another two scenes of my sitcom yesterday, and managed to crowbar in a reference to penguins. So that's good news. It means I've now mentioned penguins in the last three scripts I've written. And all for no good reason. I'm quite proud of that.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The trouble with politics these days is that it's all about image, and what a candidate looks like is far more important than what he or she actually says.

Except in Shotley Gate...

Yvonne Chartier

"A better way for Peninsula". What a marvellous slogan that is. Obviously it would benefit from the word 'the' inserted in there somewhere towards the end, but hey, at least they haven't put an 'r' on the end of peninsula. You wouldn't believe how much that annoys me. I've been listing it as my number one pet hate on my Shotley Gate page for over two years now, and still some people do it.

But anyway, let's take a look inside this informative leaflet...

It turns out that the lovely Yvonne Chartier lives in nearby Holbrook, has been married for 36 years, is a former secretary of the local Over 60s club, and... brace yourself... was one of the founders of Shotley Drama Group.

Blimey, no wonder they haven't staged 'Internet Cafe'. They've got a Tory councillor in charge. Not that I'm bitter, obviously. It's just that when you've waited over two years for a verdict on your script - a script they asked for - you begin to lose respect for these people.

But forgive and forget, that's what I say. Let's read on...

Shove it up your 'r's.

Nooooooooo!!!!! THREE TIMES???!!!!!

Good god, the woman wants shooting.

But obviously I'm sure she's a lovely person and I wish her all the best with her campaign.

(Can I just ask, are bloggers subject to the same impartiality laws as the rest of the media during an election? If so, I'd just like to say that the Labour and Lib Dem candidates are also ugly as sin and can't spell. Thanks.)

Anyhoo, I successfully wrote the first two scenes of my Last Laugh entry yesterday. It's seven hundred words of sitcom gold. No really. So onwards and upwards...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

I've had a letter from the Advertising Standards Authority! It's from Daira Moynihan. Daira Moynihan is a Complaints Handler. Oh yes. She (he?) begins...

Cure for concer

Concer? For a moment I thought it said cancer. I thought blimey, I know I made some pretty outrageous claims in that complaint, but did I really say the ad had given me cancer?? To be honest I probably did. I certainly used the word necrophilic a couple of times.

But anyhoo, Daira goes on to misspell the word 'advertisement', before telling me that they won't be taking any action because mine was the only complaint they've received, and they "do not feel that viewers in general will be offended by it". So it's just me then. Yes!!! I'd call that a successful attempt at busybodyness (busy-embodiment?). You can't call yourself a busybody unless you're in an offended minority of one.

Anyway, Daira finishes sympathetically with...


A reach? Well I reached for the stars, but I fell somewhat short of a complete ban. I'm quite pleased with the letter though. I'll be filing it next to my Princess Diana one.

Anyhoo, I shouldn't really be here. I have a week before I head off to my summer residence on the south coast, and today is officially the day I start writing my ten minute script for the BBC's Last Laugh competition. So talk amongst yourselves, but keep the noise down - I'm busy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Just to prove I never throw anything away...

Lovely colours... ...... 91%

I have to say, I'm particularly flattered that the esteemed Dr Oddie remembers that piece of work, and has seen fit to bring it up in my blog comments, as he only taught me Religious Instruction for one year at Southend High, and had left by the time I completed my study of Joseph in year two. That's what I call a good memory. But I expect the news of my "extremely perceptive personal assessment of Joseph" (personally dictated to me by my Dad) was passed on to him by Mr Lewis, the teacher responsible for the comments above, and a man who was clearly as gay as a daisy in May. Although the libel laws of Great Britain prevent me from saying so.

But anyway, thank you Dr Oddie for your kind words. I feel quite guilty now for referring to Southend High as a Nazi concentration camp on my bio page for the past two years.

And I'm sure you're genuine, and not a member of my family irresponsibly posing as a man of the cloth. Even if you did forget you were a doctor for the first two posts.

Anyhoo, I arrived home from Brighton at 1am last night, but not before I'd spent an afternoon gazing wistfully at the menu in Shakeaway. Interestingly, the people before me in the queue all seemed to be ordering extravagant milkshakes which involved placing whole individual strawberry cheesecakes, mountains of toffee and nuts, or giant chocolate bars into a blender with milk, ice cream and custard.

But not me. Oh no. I'd listened to a certain someone who had advised against such luxuries. I knew it was a good decision when the man behind the counter looked at me as if I was mad and said "a lime milkshake??". I said yes, and pointed to it on the menu. To his credit, he gave me another chance. He picked up a cup, wrote the word 'lime' on the side, showed it to me, and said "THIS???" with a concerned expression on his face.

Perhaps I should have picked up the look in his eyes which said "no one ever orders a lime milkshake", but I went ahead anyway. After all, the shakes are a set price no matter what you order, and having seen the decadent treats added to other people's cups, I was fully expecting at least two fresh limes and an umbrella in mine.

So I was naturally disappointed when he opened the fridge, took out a plastic Jif Lime, squirted a bit in the cup, and said "here you are". But not as disappointed as I was when I got outside two minutes later and found I could barely taste any lime at all, and appeared to have paid £3.35 for a cup of milk.

But hey, I'm sure it was less fattening than the jam doughnut milkshake I could have had. Especially as I burned off a few calories violently cursing Carol as I walked down the street. So it wasn't all bad.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

It's a travesty. And I'm not talking about the lime milkshake (although that was pretty grim - certain people have a lot to answer for). How dare they choose Ratzinger??? What's wrong with a French Jew or a good old-fashioned Brazillian all of a sudden? It's a cardinal sin if you ask me. (See what they've done to me? I'm resorting to bad puns now). (Well ok, maybe I've always resorted to bad puns, but even so, I'm not happy).
I realise there's nothing more dull than other people's dreams, but I just have to mention that I'm now so obsessed with the vast amounts of money I have riding on the future Pope, that I dreamt last night that I went to Rome for the announcement of the result. Only to find that the official declaration was being made by Bill Oddie.

Explain that one.

But before you ask, the man Bill Oddie cheerfully announced as the next Pope was Claudio Hummes of Brazil. Possibly because I read a list of the contenders before going to bed, and his name was there, or possibly because I have the gift of second sight. Which is why I'm mentioning it here. If Hummes gets the job, I'll be scouring the charity shops for a coat of many colours, and embarking on a whole new career on the back of this blog post.

But anyhoo, as I write this I'm back in Brighton. Lisa had the day off work yesterday, so we took advantage of the situation by driving down here and spending the afternoon in Next, where I helpfully encouraged Lisa to buy clothes, whilst simultaneously discovering that once she enters the changing rooms, I can spend 15 minutes in the computer game shop next door without being missed.

From there we went to a new food shop called Cook. It's like Bejams for posh people. All they sell is frozen ready meals, but they're prepared fresh each day and the name of the chef is on the packet. They only have branches in classy locations - Barnes, Maidenhead, Henley - so why they've opened one in Brighton, I've no idea. Probably because they know Jordan lives round the corner, and isn't likely to want to cook.

Anyway, I can announce that my beef goulash was quite nice. And a bargain at £3.50. Though once I'd bought the side dish of rice, and followed it off with a Kit-Kat, it wasn't quite the low cost meal I thought it was going to be. But for classy people like myself, it was a fiver well spent.

I'm off now to Shakeaway for a Ferrero Rocher milkshake.

No, really.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Well Lisa and I successfully made it into Ipswich yesterday to see this...


Although personally I'm more looking forward to this on July 8th...

Big Banger

We'd prepared for the event by betting on how many of the cast members would have appeared in The Bill, and we weren't disappointed - there were three of them. But surprisingly only two veterans of Casualty.

The play itself was very good, though I have to say I expected a drama about giant man-eating plants to feature more foliage. There wasn't actually a leaf in sight. But as compensation we were treated to a lot of green lights and rustling, which was quite atmospheric.

The most interesting thing though was the number of parents who seemed to think this was the perfect production to take their young children to. I haven't seen so many eight year olds at a venue since we went to the X-Factor Live. But I'm sure they all enjoyed the lack of greenery, skimpy nighties, and regular references to sex.

Culture over, we headed east to Arbuckles American diner, where we were confused by a waiter who kept talking about Cornados, and ended up ordering 'The United Plates of America', a giant plate with six desserts, which we decided offered the best value for money. As well as about 5,000 calories. Let's just say the diet went out the window yesterday.

As for Ledgers' transatlantic debut, well the first reviews are in. The director's commentary reads:

Your One Act was successfully performed at Geneva High School last night. And it rocked."

In addition I've been offered the choice of video or DVD (including footage of the cast party), photos, and a programme - all in return for a signed Penguin wrapper. It's the kind of offer I can't refuse.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

I've returned from Brighton, and somehow the tabloids seem to have got hold of the story...

I'm back!

But I wasn't aware of any cousins called Billy. Just a 'Mad Auntie Marge' who's often referred to in hushed tones at family gatherings.

But on the plus side, I'm sure it won't be the last time I'm closely associated with the Baftas.

Anyhoo, gotta dash. Lisa and I are off for an afternoon of high culture at the theatre. Shakespeare? Chekov? No, The Day of the Triffids.

Friday, April 15, 2005


You all have too much time on your hands.

And you'll be pleased to know that our departure from Brighton was delayed by a good half hour because Lisa insisted on contributing to the total.

But thanks. The comments were actually more entertaining than the blog, which is worrying.

And before you ask, yes, I'm naked.
Today's quite a momentous day (and not just because of the number of comments on my last post). Just six months after being cruelly rejected by the SCDA, who wouldn't know a good bit of drama if you baked it into a haggis for them, my play Ledgers finally makes its long-awaited North American debut tonight when it opens off Broadway.

Quite a long way off Broadway.

Illinois to be exact.

But hey, who needs the theatres of downtown New York when you've got a school hall just outside Chicago (the city, not the musical). It's being performed by a group of high school students who were attracted to the play's interlocking central themes of suicide and chocolate biscuits. I agreed to let them stage it for free on condition that there's a hundred foot banner with my name on it draped across the front of the school.

Funnily enough, they seem to have agreed to that.

As the play's 15 year old director said to me via e-mail on Monday, "Everyone is very excited for the performance on Friday! I promise there will be a banner. And fake cigarettes. We're very excited about the latter."

I see it as my way of getting a whole new generation hooked on smoking. And I'm sure the bad language will go down well with the parents in the audience.

Let's face it, I'm never going to work in the US again.

But nil desperandum. I'm off to Brighton for the afternoon. Back later...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Sometimes I get quite annoyed with the BBC. Particularly when they assume that everyone has digital, and no one lives in little Suffolk villages beyond the range of Freeview.

It turns out that on March 19th the BBC launched a competition called The Last Laugh, which challenged people to write the last ten minutes of a sit-com script, from a choice of 8 scripts started by some of the funniest writers in the business. And Carla Lane.

Now, I admit I was in Oklahoma at the time (the state, not the musical), but even if I had been here, I STILL would've missed it, because the BBC in their wisdom have decided to limit this contest to viewers of BBC Three, a channel I have little chance of receiving without a satellite dish, some scaffolding, and let's face it, money. Which is just not good enough. I PAY MY LICENCE FEE, DAMMIT!

Sorry, for a moment there I thought I was back at the ASA website.

Anyhoo, it's ok. The BBC did repeat the Last Laugh launch programme on BBC1. At midnight last night. Four weeks after the competition started. With no trailers beforehand.

And when's the closing date? May 6th. So people like me, who just might be interested in entering such a competition, have to rely on the good fortune of coming across this programme in the middle of the night, after which they then have three weeks (instead of the intended seven) to read through eight scripts, select one, decide on a plan of action, and write 2,300 words of comedy.

Have I mentioned that I pay my licence fee? Oh good.

So anyway, there I was on my way to bed, when I happened to flip TV channels to BBC1. After which I sat there til the programme finished at 1am, went online and printed out the book of scripts (yes, all 255 pages of it), and sat up til 4am panicking that due to prior commitments I actually only have about six days to do this.

On top of that, reading's a challenge at the best of times, so I can't really be expected to read through more than one of the scripts. Meaning I've had to forego careful selection in favour of the tried and trusted method of blindfold, pin, and the words "that'll do".

So the lucky winner is 'Annie's People' by Ian Pattison. It's the only one I've managed to read more than a page of.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

One of the things I love about Lisa is her unfailing ability to hone in on the most important aspect of any blog post. I could write a detailed account of how my gas oven blew up, destroying half my flat, killing my neighbour, and severing both my legs as I sat watching Trisha one morning, and she'd ask me who was on Trisha.

And so it was that I found myself in Manningtree Post Office yesterday afternoon, attempting to send a screenplay to America whilst being badgered by text messages demanding further details on my relationship with Princess Diana.

So I feel I should set the record straight. Whilst I'm sure it's true that for many years Princess Di considered me something of a friend, a confidant, and in all probability her rock, in reality our relationship was no more than a brief affair back in the spring of 1981.

She and Charles had announced that they would marry on July 29th, which just so happened to be my 8th birthday, a fact of such significance that I thought they should know. So I wrote to Diana and told her. I was fully expecting a wedding invite by return of post, but sadly all I got was this...

Queen of Hearts

I've since discovered that other people also have their birthday on July 29th, and it wasn't quite the billion to one coincidence I thought it was when I was 7. But even so, I like to think that Diana's guilt over her failure to invite me to the wedding was in some way responsible for her later episodes of bulimia.

Or to put it another way, I made her sick.

So that's cleared that one up. The stage is now free for Lisa to tell us about the letter she wrote to the Jackie problem page.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The new series of Cosmetic Surgery Live started on Channel 5 last night. Unfortunately I didn't watch it, so that's a rich vein of source material for this blog down the drain.

Sadly I was forced to go to bed early after spending all day rewriting Internet Cafe (tired old film script) for the Austin Film Festival screenplay competition. I decided to enter after discovering on Sunday that the script which won the very first AFF screenplay contest in 1994 was made into a film, the video of which was sitting on a shelf less than three feet away from me the entire time I was writing Internet Cafe. It's a sign I tell you, a sign! And on top of that, I'm practically an honorary Texan. I've been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. Well, the stetson. So I can't lose. And if past years are anything to go by, I'll only have... um... 3,200 screenplays to beat.

Sometimes I wonder why I bother. But nil desperandum (that would make a good name for a horse).

Anyhoo, when I'm not deleting the word 'toilets' and writing 'restrooms', and changing every pound into a dollar, I'm busy fulfilling lifetime ambitions. The fact is, I've always wanted to be a busybody, but I've never really had the time. Or the nerve. But inspired by the Big Yellow Self Storage Company, I found myself checking out the Advertising Standards Authority website yesterday evening, and to my delight I found that it's possible to be a busybody via the internet! Hurrah!

I've never actually complained about anything in my life - I haven't even written to Points of View (although I did once write to Princess Diana), and despite regularly watching Look East, I've yet to lodge a formal objection to Julie Reinger. Though I'm sure it's only a matter of time. But having read some of the ASA's weekly adjudications, and noticed that they tend to uphold trivial complaints made by as many as... brace yourself... two viewers, I was overwhelmed by a sense of power, and wondered if it would be possible for me to single-handedly shut down a company via an online complaints form.

So I filled it in, limiting myself to just one use of the word 'necrophilic' (which I'm sure exists, even if my spellchecker doesn't know it), and this morning I've received this reply:

"Thank you for submitting your complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority. We have passed your complaint to our Complaints team. A Complaints Handler will assess your complaint and will reply in full as soon as possible."

That's five uses of the word 'complaint' in just three sentences. I like their style. And you have to admire their use of the term 'Complaints Handler'. I expect it's like a dog handler, but with more whining.

So that's quite exciting. I think I'll go and write a letter to the council now about the local litter problem.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

I am STUNNED. I was sitting here just now, rewriting the screenplay of Internet Cafe for an American film competition (that's not the stunning bit. Although it is quite surprising that I'm bothering), and an advert came on TV (ITV1 at 6pm, to be precise) for the Big Yellow Self Storage company.

I've not seen an ad for them before, but the one thing I know about the company is that when Graham Coutts murdered the teacher Jane Longhurst in Hove two years ago, he kept her body at the Big Yellow Self Storage unit in Coomb Road, Brighton. Where he then visited her corpse seven times over the next three weeks in order to fulfil his necrophilic fantasies.

Marvellous. So what does this light-hearted new TV ad entail..? Well, it features a nice young couple who arrive at their local branch of Big Yellow to deposit some belongings. The husband then begins to get annoying, we see him standing inside a storage bin, then the camera cuts to a shot of the woman driving off alone, while the voiceover tells us there's room to store anything there.

My jaw nearly hit the floor.

According to the company website, their director of sales & marketing is called Stephen Homer. Which seems quite appropriate. He should be saying "D'oh!" right about now.
I find this slightly scary...

An accident waiting to happen...

Apparently there's a successful author in America called Lisa Gardner. She's written eight novels, and even has her own website. So if Lisa marries me and gets a publishing deal for her blog, it'll cause endless confusion at Waterstones. Gardner fans the world over will be wondering why she's started writing about Frazzles and the Michael Jackson trial.

Although of course, if Lisa did marry me, I'd be the perfect husband, and she could write a book about it. Oh hang on, too late...

That's me.

I can't say I've read any of my long-lost relative's work, but I did enjoy this reader's review on Amazon...

"This book was great. It was the best Gardner work I have read. [Oh how I long to hear those words...] It has suspense, tension, mystery... everything. However, I have taken a star away due to one disappointment. Why the sex? I cannot believe that when a woman fears for her life and is intensely worried about her daughter's life she is happily spending her time bent over a car."

Which shows the difference between the two namesakes - Lisa can't drive.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

It's good to see the big wedding of the weekend went by without a hitch...

Here comes the bride...

Forget Charles & Camilla, I was watching the Balamory wedding on CBeebies. It had all the pomp and ceremony of the royal event, but with more black people and gay policemen.

As for The Grand National, well there's one thing you can count on when you know that bookmakers will pay out on the first five places, and that's that your horses will finish 6th, 7th and 8th. Dammit. With two fences to go I had Innox in second and Heros Collonge in third. I thought I was rich. As it transpired, they were passed late on and came in 7th and 8th.

But nil desperandum.

Well he finished 6th.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Blimey, it took me eight hours to publish that last post. The Blogger site appeared to go offline the moment I started making light of the Pope's funeral. It must be divine retribution.

But undeterred, I'm back with the second biggest betting event of the year (after the multi-million pound Pope Stakes) - The Grand National. I did pretty well last year, so buoyed by that success, I'm moving on from £2 bets to £3 bets this time around. Plus a bit on the place market. I also spent far longer this year doing my research. So we're set up nicely for all my runners to fall at the first.

But for what it's worth, I've backed...

Innox Innox at 22-1

Nil Desperandum Nil Desperandum at 29-1

Heros Collonge Heros Collonge at 84-1

Foly Pleasant Foly Pleasant at... wait for it... 94-1

I couldn't quite get the 100-1 I wanted on Foly Pleasant. But nil desperandum. Oh sorry, wrong horse.

I've also put a few quid on Clan Royal to go off favourite. I'm banking on all those wedding guests coming out of the town hall at 3pm and getting their wallets out.
It's always good to write a light-hearted blog post whilst watching a major funeral on TV.

So far, it's been 45 of the dullest minutes of television you're ever likely to see, but it was brightened up momentarily by the BBC reporter who stood in the streets of Rome with a solemn expression on his face, and described Pope John Paul II's deep connection to the place with the words...

"He lived here. He was shot here."

Ah yes, I always feel a deep connection to the places where people have tried to kill me. That's why I love Lisa's kitchen.

Anyhoo, amidst the death and Latin, this morning's post has brought with it a bit of excitement...

Neil who?

Yes, mine and Lisa's One-Year-Anniversary-Celebration tickets have arrived. We're going to see Neil Diamond in the magnificent and awe-inspiring setting of Ipswich Town Football Club. I paid for the tickets at the end of October, so it's nice to see that they've managed to get them out to me within six months. You may notice that I've blanked out the price. That's because Lisa doesn't know how much they cost, and she might faint when she finds out the amount of interest I could've earned if I'd kept the cash in the bank instead.

They were worth waiting for though. As you can see, they feature a picture of Neil himself (looking like a televangelist doing an exorcism), presumeably for people like me who don't know what he looks like. Personally I only agreed to go because I thought he did 'Hi Ho Silver'. But it means I'll be able to check my ticket and clap when the right person comes on stage. It saves me cheering wildly for the roadie.

So that's our first anniversary sorted. Unless we break up in the next six weeks, in which case they'll be going straight on Ebay.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Honestly, I wish the powers that be would make their minds up. First they tell us all to conserve the world's natural resources and do our best to save water. Then they criticise Michael Jackson for sharing his shower with an eight year old. They can't have it both ways.

Mind you, at least it explains his back injury a couple of weeks ago. He claimed he slipped in the shower, which is not surprising - it's obviously quite crowded in there, and one of the boys probably dropped the soap.

But anyhoo, I returned home from Brighton last night, so having spent only four days apart in the last month, Lisa and I now have to go nine days without seeing each other. You can hear the cheering on the south coast from here. And that's just Lisa's mother.

I've come home to exciting news from Kingster, who informs me via e-mail that Google are about to launch Video Blogging, and that in future people such as ourselves will be known as Vloggers. Which makes us sound like aliens from the new series of Dr Who.

As Paul himself says, "does this mean a market is opening up for Vlog body doubles?", and he's got a point. Obviously I'm gorgeous, and have no problem with appearing in public on the world wide web, but for people like Lisa, who believe the camera is an invention of pure evil designed to make us all look fatter, it could be tempting to employ a willing stand-in, desperate to get in front of the lens on her behalf.

At the very least it could be a way back into showbiz for Michael Barrymore.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Ten days ago, whilst browsing the freaks - sorry, I mean 'special' people - at Ripley's Believe It or Not in Dallas, we came across the story of 'The Ugliest Woman in the World'. I was surprised they'd heard of Sally Gunnell in Texas, but as it turned out, the display was nothing to do with her, and was in fact about Julia Pastrana, who lived in the mid 19th century and looked like this...

Hi gorgeous

She's quite foxy. Well, she looks like a dog. But on the plus side, you have to say her waistline's quite impressive.

Anyhoo, in a spooky coincidence, it seems she's coming to the Theatre Royal in Brighton. Well, not her - she died in 1860 (although I believe she was then stuffed and continued touring) (seriously) - but rather a play entitled 'The True History of the Tragic Life & Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, The Ugliest Woman in the World'. (A bit of judicious editing wouldn't have gone amiss there).

Obviously a play tackling the subject of extreme facial deformity is going to be visually shocking, requiring a lot of expensive prosthetic make-up and accurate period costumes.

Unless of course, you perform it in the dark. Yes, that's right, according to the Brighton Festival brochure, this play is "performed in absolute darkness". No wonder the front row seats are so reasonable. Personally I like nothing better than to get all dressed up for a night out, and then pay £18.50 to sit in the dark for two hours, but unfortunately I won't be able to go - I've got tickets for Derren Brown in Ipswich that week. Hopefully with some form of lighting.

But as compensation, Lisa and I are planning to go and see a film entitled 'Tarnation' at the Duke of York's Picturehouse - an arts cinema in Brighton. It's a 90 minute movie made by an American teenager about his own life, and according to the film guide was made for just $218. So it should be good. I'm expecting state of the art special effects and a lot of car chases.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Just for all you doubting Thomasinas out there (you know who you are)...

Referral Stats
Bichon Frise female for sale in Austin Texas

When I get a hit for 'miracle weight loss lasagne', I'll let you know.
Q. What happens when you go on holiday to America, and then someone sends you a dodgy picture of a dog?

A. You immediately get a search engine hit for the words 'Bichon Frise female for sale in Austin Texas'.

Isn't the internet marvellous. I should set up a dog breeding business, there's clearly a gap in the market.

Anyhoo, Lisa's lasagne turned out to be very nice on Saturday. That's twice she's cooked it for me now, and twice I've survived. What are the odds. And according to her bathroom scales this morning, I've lost two pounds in the last three days, despite doing no exercise whatsoever, and eating more than I would at home. So either I should be marketing Lisa's lasagne as a miracle weight loss product, or I should be buying her a new set of scales.

Yesterday Lisa and I made our way over to Portslade in order to inflict our holiday photos on Lorraine, who in turn fought back by giving us a detailed account of the building of her new conservatory. She's also refusing to listen to a word I say, after I confidently told her in December that it would only take a couple of weeks for her new cat to be accepted by her old cat. The clatter of claws and wails of anguish from the kitchen suggested that it might be taking a tad longer than I thought. But hey, we gave her a Southfork mug, what more does the woman want?

Incidentally, there was an article in the Sunday People yesterday exposing the scandalous erection (that'll go down well with the search engines) of a mobile phone mast on top of the maternity wing of the Royal Sussex Hospital. It is indeed an outrage. But the maternity wing in question happens to be less than 200 yards from Lisa's flat, and frankly my reception has never been so good.

Oh, and it turns out Lisa wasn't joking on Friday about being in work at 8am. I was forced out of bed at 6:30 this morning. Which is the real scandal around here.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

As the Pope slowly edges towards death, and a holy and distinguished life sadly nears its conclusion as thousands of devoted Catholics hold a prayerful vigil outside the Vatican, only one important question now remains: can I make my fortune betting on who the next Pope will be? I've checked the runners and riders and there are some tempting odds on offer. This could be a golden opportunity.

There's apparently a saying amongst papists (they love a witty one-liner, those papists) which goes "he who goes in a pope, comes out a cardinal", which roughly translates as "don't back the favourite if you want to make it big on the Pope stakes".

So I've been looking at the outsiders and studying the form. But to give me the edge I decided to enlist the help of a few psychics and prophesiers. After all, I believe in miracles - Lisa's currently in the kitchen cooking me a lasagne. You couldn't have predicted that without the gift of second sight. So with this in mind, I've been trawling the dodgy end of the internet for tips.

I found one psychic who had a vision in February of this year and announced that the Pope would die on March 20th, but hey, weather forecasters never get it exactly right either. It doesn't mean it's rubbish. And the fact is, after nearly half an hour of exhaustive research, I think I've got the winner.

St Malachy apparently told us in the 12th century that the 111th Pope (which is the next one) would be 'Gloria Olivae', or 'The Glory of the Olive'. Sadly there isn't a cardinal called Olive. Or even Gloria. Mainly because they're all men. But there is one with a girl's name - Jean Lustiger, the Archbishop of Paris. And what's more, he's Jewish. And where is the centre of the Jewish faith? Jerusalem, home of the Mount of Olives. It couldn't be more obvious.

Some people also believe the next Pope will be the antichrist (that's if it's not Lisa I'Anson), and you have to admit, Lustiger sounds suspiciously like Lucifer. And let's face it, he's French - how much more evidence of evil do you want? So at odds of 20-1, old Jean's got to be worth ten quid of anybody's money.

So that's that sorted. I can go and eat my lasagne now. It's my reward for keeping Lisa awake half the night with my coughing.

Friday, April 01, 2005

I've decided to turn over a new leaf. In the past I've tended to make too much of any slight cold or sniffle, falsely presenting them as major illnesses in an effort to attract large amounts of sympathy, and possibly chocolate-related gifts. But no more. I need to be grown-up and honest about my ailments and stop making a fuss about nothing. So from now on there'll be no childish attention-seeking and mentions of laryngitis and bronchial pneumonia every time I get a slight cough or sore throat. It's time to cut out the whining.

April Fool.

My cough's a lot worse today. I think it might be Asian Bird Flu. And I don't like the taste of my cough medicine. The 'Baby Chest Rub' my Mummy gave me is quite good though. Not that I've been rubbing it on my chest. I decided that since it's aimed at babies, it might not be designed for a hairy chest, so I've been putting it up my nose instead. Which might explain the intense burning sensation around my nostrils.

I'm supposed to be driving down to Brighton today too. Goodness knows how I'll manage it. Let's just hope they serve Lem-Sip at the Little Chef on the M23.

Actually, I'm not the only April Foolster around here today. Lisa's already tried to catch me out by e-mailing me this morning to say she's going to be in work at 8am on Monday. What does she take me for, an idiot?

Anyhoo, one of the best things about blogging is that you attract weirdos and stalkers make good online friends who send you crap in the post shower you with fabulous gifts. And so it is that I'd like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Donna (of Crash n Donna fame) who saw fit to send me this...


No, she hasn't sent me a dog, she's sent me a giant-sized picture of a dog. A Bichon Frise to be more precise. The back of the card describes it as an "extrovert, intelligent and confident breed", so I can see why Donna thought of me when she saw it. Lisa claims it looks like Uncle Albert from 'Only Fools and Horses', which is clearly ridiculous...

During the war...

... the Bichon Frise isn't wearing a hat.

But thanks Donna, you shouldn't have. No really, I mean it.