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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I seem to be constantly two days behind with my blog posts here. Which is what happens when your decision to drive 800 miles in four days coincides with the start of Big Brother.

But anyhoo, Sunday. Well Sunday was mine and Lisa's first anniversary, so we went out for a meal with my family to celebrate... my sister's birthday. Which was on May 12th. And I thought I was behind with my blog posts. Big Sis is currently over from America for some reason or other, and was sporting a large bruise on her foot after falling up the step of her cottage in Weymouth. She only visits the place about once a year, but she's already ended up on crutches after falling down the step, and in casualty after being concussed by a vacuum cleaner. She hasn't been kicked by a donkey for a few years now though.

Anyhoo, Lisa and I were due to be at the restaurant 8 miles away at 6:30pm. Which is why I was still posting on my blog at 6:08pm. We would have been there sooner though if my Mum hadn't insisted on texting me en route to ask where we were.

Having successfully bonded with Lisa's nephew over the past year, Lisa proved equally popular with my niece, meaning she had the pleasure of spending the evening with a six year old on her knee, being followed to the toilets, and forced to share her lipstick and hairbrush every five minutes.

The meal over, we returned to my parents for cake (with my niece surgically attached to Lisa in the back of my car), and watched my brother's Disneyworld holiday video, which featured a Winnie the Pooh ride ("quite scary" apparently), a chat with a mermaid, and a highly convincing meerkat impression from Big Sis.

Yesterday Lisa and I dropped in on my parents again. We'd announced our intention to leave my flat at 3pm, which is why yesterday's blog was posted at 3:31pm. But they know what we're like by now. Once there, my niece presented Lisa with a picture of the two of us, and tried to pin us down to another visit. Lisa's always said that if we ever break up, the person who'll be most upset is her nephew. Not any more. If my niece never saw Lisa again, I don't think she'd ever get over it.

Anyhoo, we stayed long enough for a quick bounce on the bed, and a few cocktail sausages, then it was back down to Brighton, via a major rain storm and another accident on the A12, meaning I got to show Lisa the delights of Maldon and South Woodham Ferrers. I think Essex is growing on her.

I'm off now to Asda at Brighton Marina. I bought the super soaraway Sun today for their cut-out-and-keep guide to the GI Diet (which is nothing to do with American soldiers) (I don't think), so I need to go and buy some porridge. I'll look like Anthony Worrall Thompson in no time.

Monday, May 30, 2005

For those concerned about Timmy's feet...

Timmy lives!

As if I'd chop his paws off. Although I am rather pleased with my new belt, and I'm sure Lorraine's always wanted a Manx cat.

Anyhoo, Saturday was officially day two of mine and Lisa's neverending one year anniversary celebration extravaganza excursion events, so having spent six hours in the car on Friday, we headed off the next day to Birmingham for an evening of quality music. Which also featured Duran Duran. I'd prepared for the occasion by not bothering to check what time it started, while Lisa had prepared for it by leaving her boots in Brighton and only returning to Shotley Gate with her wedding shoes. So naturally we were pleased to find out at lunchtime on Saturday that the concert started two hours earlier than we thought, and Lisa would have to stand for five hours in uncomfortable heels.

But we set off anyway. The 165 miles to Brum was covered in no time at all (well, two and a quarter hours), and I had in my hand the piece of paper from Ticketmaster which clearly stated "Take junction 6 off the M6 and follow the signs to Birmingham City football stadium". What could be simpler?

Well, quantum physics actually. An hour after leaving the M6 we still hadn't spotted a single sign, and I was beginning to get dizzy from driving around the Birmingham ring road. But on the plus side there were plenty of signs to 'The Custard Factory' and 'Cadbury World', so we knew we wouldn't go hungry.

A lot of aimless driving later, I decided to take the plunge and head for the city centre, got stuck in a major Saturday afternoon traffic jam, headed back out again, spotted a sign to the football stadium (hallelujah), followed it, and promptly got stuck in a major Duran Duran related traffic jam. Cue major u-turn, a quick drive back to the city centre, more traffic jams, parking, Burger King eating, and a 25 minute walk to the stadium. In wedding heels. (Lisa, not me).

We arrived at 6:13pm, two minutes before show time. Which just goes to show we're never late for anything.

Being a world reknowned supergroup (as opposed to a bunch of 80s has-beens), Duran Duran had two (count them) support acts. First up was The Bravery, an American band whose music I seemed strangely familiar with. They must be on an advert. Or possibly Channel 4 are using them on the horse racing. The Bravery warmed us up for (fanfare please) Daniel Bedingfield, a man so hated by Lisa that she would've walked out. If it didn't hurt so much to walk.

Quite how a man so full of himself as the Bedingfield had agreed to be a support act for Duran Duran, I've no idea. We eventually decided they must have told him he was the headline act and The Bravery were his support. He seemed to be under the illusion that we'd all be able to sing along to his songs anyway (and I didn't like to disappoint him). I actually warmed to Danny boy. I thought he looked quite fat, but he could clearly sing. Not that Lisa agrees with me on that one. She described his voice as 'whiny'.

A quick scrum for the toilets later, and Duran Duran took to the stage. I thought Bedingfield's ego was huge, but he clearly had nothing on Simon Le Bon, who strutted around the stage claiming sole responsibility for ending the war in Iraq (seriously), and announcing that this was the first big outdoor concert of the summer. He obviously hadn't been in Ipswich on Thursday night.

But all in all they were very good. Although not quite good enough for me to feel it was worth paying TWENTY TWO QUID for a programme. I settled for a two quid ice cream with no flake instead.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Blimey, it's me in a suit.

Nice tie.

Now I know it looks like my jacket is parting like the Red Sea as it goes down, but that's not, I repeat not, because of a bulging stomach full of chocolate wedding cake, it's because I've got my arms around Lisa and her mother. Sadly they've had to be cropped out of the photo for legal reasons. But they looked just as fat as I did. Honest.

Frankly it's a miracle I was still smiling by the time that photo was taken. It just goes to show what a happy-go-lucky person I am. I laugh in the face of major traffic jams on the A12 on the hottest day of the year.

So anyway, on Friday Lisa and I had the pleasure of journeying down to Brighton for the wedding of Lisa's sister. We'd planned to leave at 9am, arrive in Brighton late morning, get changed, have a bite to eat, then leave Lisa's flat at 1pm for the wedding at 2pm. Marvellous. So obviously at 11:30am we were still in Essex, marinading in our own sweat.

But hey, it could have been worse - an hour earlier and we'd have been covered in paint.

Anyhoo, being an Essex boy at heart, I soon headed off the A12 in search of shade, and ended up visiting Billericay for the first time in ten years. From there it was a quick jaunt down to the Dartford Crossing bank holiday weekend queue, and on to Brighton. Which is by the sea. So naturally the world and his dog was heading there too. Cue another traffic jam, more heat, and the melting of the chapstick in my pocket. Although our journey was brightened up by the unknown person who'd tied giant inflatable penises to all the keep left signs heading into town.

We eventually reached Lisa's flat at 1:10pm - ten minutes after we were due to leave it. Which didn't give me much time to get my suit on and choose between the six ties I'd taken with me (although obviously the photo above is proof that I made the right choice). Cat-paw cufflinks in place, it was back to the car with Lisa's mother for a low speed dash across Brighton to the town hall.

Fortunately Lisa's sister had given us directions to a nearby car park. Unfortunately it involved passing the pier and driving the wrong way down a one-way street. But hey, you can't have everything. Twenty minutes later our five minute journey was over and we were ten minutes late. We didn't find the car park either. So I dropped my two wedding guests, drove to the shopping centre car park, and then strode along the seafront in a suit and tie, through all the crowds of people wearing shorts and flip-flops.

By the time I reached the town hall I looked like I'd taken a dip in the sea, but fortunately Lisa was waiting outside with the good news: her soon-to-be brother-in-law's mother and grandmother were stuck in the same traffic jam on the A12!


I've never been so pleased about someone else's misfortune. Although obviously women don't sweat as much as men, so their misfortune wasn't as great as mine. But it meant the wedding had been put back til 3pm, so I'd missed nothing, and still had time to play Spiders & Cockroaches with Lisa's nephew in the waiting room.

Personally I'd only turned up for the complimentary food, but as the groom approached and handed me a camcorder, I began to feel there might be no such thing as a free lunch. One quick lesson in film-making later, and I became the official wedding videographer. I haven't seen the results yet, but I'm sure my frequent zooming in and out, and tendency to film Lisa will have gone down well.

Ceremony over, I went to collect my fee and was handed a posh camera. Not bad for ten minutes work. Unfortunately it turned out I was now the offical wedding photographer too. So I set about taking a few snaps of the guests. Which wasn't the first time I've wanted to line up Lisa's family against the wall and shoot them.

Just kidding.

No, really.

Formalities over, it was straight to Hove for the nosh up. The sweat was beginning to dry by that point, and I looked like I'd just been in a light shower, rather than fully submerged in water. So I ordered the 'mountain of mash' in a tribute to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and stuffed myself silly.

By 6:30pm I couldn't eat another thing. So we went back to Lisa's flat and had Pic n Mix, before leaving the south coast at 8pm and returning to Shotley Gate for Marmite crisps and chocolate.

After a day like that, we'd have been mad to do anything on Saturday.

So we decided to get up and drive to Birmingham. We didn't get back til 2am last night.

Anyhoo, I don't expect anyone's made it all the way through this post, so I'd just like to stop here in this quiet backwater of blogging and say that today is mine and Lisa's one year anniversary, it's been the best year of my life, and I love her very much.

I'll be back tomorrow with Duran Duran chat...

Friday, May 27, 2005

I woke up early this morning after not much sleep, put my arm around Lisa in an I-don't-want-to-get-up kind of a way, whereupon she opened her eyes and told me she'd dreamt I'd won the Last Laugh competition. So I trotted off with a spring in my step to check the post, and lo and behold... oh yes, it's true...

I found a letter from the SCDA informing me that I've failed in my bid to get my hands on Richard 'I Don't Believe It' Wilson's money, by spectacularly not making the final shortlist of 12 in their 2005 playwriting competition.

And there were only 71 entries.

I'm beginning to get annoyed now. Am I the only person in the world who thinks Be Worth It is any good? (Don't answer that). I still think that darn play is the best thing I've written. But obviously I'm alone in that opinion. Dammit.

But hey, one of the winning plays was entitled 'Don't Get Your Vicars in a Twist', so there was obviously a lot of quality about.

Anyhoo, Lisa and I successfully made it to Portman Road for the Neil Diamond concert last night. Photography of any kind was strictly prohibited, so obviously no one took a camera...

Hi ho silver... oh no, that's Jim Diamond...

I was the only person standing up too. I wonder why?

Anyway, the speck in the middle is Neil, and the speck next to him is his walking frame. Notice the number of bald heads and grey hairs in the audience too. I'm not saying Neil's fans are old, but I did feel like I was at a pensioners rally.

But the show was good, although for the second time in six months, Lisa and I found ourselves seated next to the only nutter in the building. It was a woman (again) on her own (again) who told us that half her family were at the concert too, but hadn't wanted to sit with her. Alarm bells were ringing at that point. But she wasn't too bad. As long as you like being told when to stand up and sit down, and being hit by extra wide hand-claps every two seconds.

She told us she'd come all the way from Norfolk. My money's on Sheringham.

But anyhoo, I successfully tapped my toe to numerous songs I'd never heard of, made the most of 'I'm a Believer' by singing along at a loud volume (although Neil wasn't a patch on The Monkees), and quickly picked up 'Sweet Caroline' to such an extent that I was able to annoy Lisa by joining in on every chorus and doing the actions. (There aren't actually any actions, but I made some up).

There's no doubt about it - Neil may be a bit of an old wrinkly, but he can still belt out a tune. Although I was disappointed Barbra Streisand hadn't popped over from the States for 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers'. He had to do it with his backing singer instead. (Sing the song I mean).

Right, gotta dash. I need to get Lisa to the church on time...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The BBC have issued a press release today about the Last Laugh competition. Having previously announced that there were "over 4,000" entries, they've now confirmed the exact figure...


I'm sorry, but 4,816 is not "over 4,000" (don't argue with me on this one). 4,816 is "almost 5,000". "Over 4,000" would be 4,023.

The BBC are also claiming that "It would appear to be the biggest ever comedy script writing competition in the UK, even possibly the biggest script writing competition ever".

Lovely. So to make the shortlist of 32, I now need to be amongst the top 0.66% of entries. This is getting ridiculous. But obviously I'm still staying off the phone in case they ring.

Anyhoo, today is officially day one of mine and Lisa's one year anniversary celebrational extravaganza. We're off to see Neil Diamond in the glamorous location of Ipswich football ground. I bought the tickets as my anniversary present to Lisa back in October, when we'd only been together for five months. Which shows what a naturally optimistic person I am. Although I'm convinced it's going to rain tonight.

But to prepare for the occasion we popped into Ipswich this afternoon to see if we could spot Neil sucking on a Werther's Original in the Saga holiday shop. Sadly we couldn't, but we did see a man in a Neil Diamond t-shirt in Next (he was younger than me - he should be ashamed of himself), and I encountered a group of old ladies discussing the concert in the Cancer Research shop.

Tomorrow is equally as exciting. We're heading back down to Brighton for the day (as you do) for the wedding of Lisa's sister. I've had my suit dry-cleaned, so she's not backing out of it now.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Last night Lisa and I ventured into Ipswich (two days in a row, what's going on?) to see Derren Brown at the Ipswich Regent. We went this time last year, in the heady days before we'd agreed to any kind of funny business and were both footloose and fancy-free, so we thought we'd go again in 2005, to mark the imminent one year anniversary of our becoming... um... foot-tight and fancy-attached.

We've become more responsible over the past 12 months, so this time around we took Mr Magic along with us, partly as a form of unofficial Help the Aged community service, partly because we like going out with men in sandals, but mainly so he could explain all the tricks to us afterwards and pay for the ice creams at the interval.

The show turned out to be very good. Having spent the past year formulating a technique for avoiding flying frisbees, Lisa was naturally pleased to discover that Derren had dispensed with the plastic rings, and was chucking a cuddly monkey into the audience this year to choose his 'volunteers'. She doesn't like monkeys at the best of times, so a monkey which forces you to go up on stage in front of two thousand people wasn't her idea of fun. Which is probably why she ignored it when it hit her on the back of the head during the second half.

Anyhoo, Derren proved himself to be almost infallible (unlike the woman he got out of the audience who seemed incapable of counting beyond ten without getting confused). He made a couple of errors, but having studied the official Derren Brown Forum today, I've discovered that he makes the exact same errors in every show, so something tells me it might just be deliberate.

I was proud to have worked out a fiendishly ingenious explanation to the button-counting trick, while Mr Magic rambled on about broken bottles and tennis balls under the arm. Needless to say that having put our collective heads together, we succeeded in working out virtually... um... none of it. So I've decided to personally befriend Derren Brown in the hope of learning his secrets. And then selling them to the papers. It shouldn't be too hard.

Although let's face it, I've already perfected the trick of sticking a nail up my nose, so I'm half way there already. The only difference is that mine's a fingernail, and I don't use a hammer. But even so...

Monday, May 23, 2005

I've always dreamt of having friends in California, and now I have. Unfortunately it's California, Ipswich, not California, USA, but even so, it was a treat to visit Crash n Donna's new house for the first time last night. I was particularly taken with the well in their back garden...

Ding-Dong Bell...

That's Donna climbing out of it. She's grown her hair recently.

As for the rest of the house, well I wouldn't say it's falling apart, but Lisa got stuck in the downstairs toilet when the door handle came off in her hand. We did wonder what that knocking was. I thought the place was haunted. But fortunately Crash managed to rescue her, and I made a mental note to use the upstairs bathroom in future.

Having arrived (half an hour late) bearing quality house-warming gifts, we were given a tour of the place and shown the built-in altar at the top of the stairs. It's a stylish and unusual feature, and one which probably knocks a good five grand off the resale value of the house, but if I were them I'd keep it. It's somewhere to keep the smoking baby.

We also saw the quality tiling work behind the bathroom radiator, the bath which doesn't work, the hole where the fireplace used to be, the broken toilet seat, and the highly decorative frog motif in the kitchen. Unfortunately C&D had insisted on painting over the orange walls, so we didn't have a chance to see how well they'd gone with the bright green carpet (which incidentally I'd also keep. It looks like a lawn), but we did get to see the new TV which they'd virtually stolen from the local branch of Curry's. Let's just say I want one, and it's my birthday on July 29th.

Tour over, we sat down to the miracle-weight-loss lasagne, lovingly prepared for us by Donna, with vital stirring by Crash. It was actually very nice, as was the garlic bread, over which I did indeed bring up the subject of Crash's vasectomy. The discussion then moved on from vasectomies to natural childbirth, caesarians, and an anecdote which ended with the line "she splattered her head all over the wall", after which we had a fifteen minute break before dessert.

The sweet course consisted of a Tesco Finest (oh yes) chocolate tart. Sorry, 'Tarte au Chocolat'. I've always dreamt of getting my hands on a French tart, and let's just say I wasn't disappointed. Although I was the only person to finish his slice. Something I achieved mainly by deciding not to fill my bowl up to the brim with double cream. Unlike certain people.

Still slightly nauseous from the unfinished tart, we retired to the living room where Donna discovered that her new wireless network featured more wires than she was anticipating, and Crash demonstrated how well their radiators work.

But all in all it was a fab evening. And not just because we got free food. So thanks guys. And Crash, I'll be crossing my legs at 3 o' clock this afternoon...

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Well we eventually made it back to Suffolk yesterday afternoon, via a police blockade by the Oyster Reach which claimed the road was blocked and was stopping anyone driving onto the Shotley Peninsula. The friendly policeman was instructing each driver to "go through Tattingstone", an order which seemed to leave half of them looking blank and driving off in the wrong direction.

But I know the narrow country lanes of Suffolk like the back of my hand (and they're both equally hairy), so I had us back in Shotley Gate in time for the FA Cup penalty shootout, and more importantly the Eurovision Song Contest. Lisa pretty much slept through the whole thing, but I find the sight of a teenage rock band from Moldova with a granny playing drums in a rocking chair quite stimulating, so I sat through the voting of all 39 countries. If nothing else, it demonstrates just how much the rest of Europe hates us. I wish I'd voted UKIP now.

Anyhoo, no time to blog now - the pizza-tasting event has been upgraded to a Miracle-Weight-Loss-Lasagne-Eating Swingball & Flat-Pack Social, and Lisa and I need to go and discuss Crash's vasectomy over some garlic bread.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

After a marathon three weeks on the south coast, Lisa and I were due to return to Shotley Gate last night. It's now lunchtime on Saturday, so obviously we're still in Brighton. Which is what happens when you have a brand new bed just crying out to be slept on. It didn't seem right to leave it. So having packed up all our stuff at Lorraine's yesterday morning, and bid farewell (or good riddance, depending on your point of view) to Timmy and Oscar, we've managed to make it a grand total of five miles across town.

We returned to Lisa's flat to discover that the council, in their infinite wisdom, have repainted the road outside and doubled the number of disabled parking spaces (from one to two). Now, I love the disabled as much as the next man (unless the next man's Paul McCartney), but there are not enough spaces for the residents, let alone their visitors, and the lone disabled parking space is occupied by a bona fide disabled person about once every fifth Tuesday when there's a q in the month. So why they need to cut down on the number of spaces I can use, in order to provide a second spot for the legless, I've no idea.

Not that I'm prejudiced. Some of my best friends are Scope charity shops.

Anyhoo, it's the FA Cup final this afternoon, making it a good time to hit the motorway and return to Suffolk. We're due at a pizza-tasting event at Crash n Donna's new house tomorrow night, and I don't want to be late.

Friday, May 20, 2005


But sadly it's not about the Last Laugh competition. Dammit.

It actually says this...

"Hi there,

I noticed on your website lots of pictures of Davey Spillane and I wondered if you might be able to help me with a contact number/ email address for him as I'm working on a 3-part documentary series on The History of British & Irish Folk for the BBC and would like to have a chat with him about a possible interview.

Many thanks


Arianna Maniscalco

Lots of pictures??? She's talking about my Senators site, and I believe there are three. But I suppose that's lots compared to most other websites. I think I'll offer to help her out in return for putting in a good word for me at the comedy department.

Talking of the Last Laugh competition, my hopes have now been dashed by someone who's posted their ending to Annie's People on the Writers Dock forums. It single-handedly ruined my day yesterday by being annoyingly good. Possibly better than my own entry. Dammit. It shouldn't be allowed.

In fact yesterday was a traumatic day all round. After work (hers, not mine) I accompanied Lisa to her regular blood donation session, with a view to possibly signing up myself, in an effort to help my fellow man, possibly save someone's life, but above all get some free tea and biscuits.

Let's just say it didn't go well. I couldn't help feeling that the church hall looked like a field hospital for the injured and dying. I kept trying to focus on the chocolate hob-nobs, but I just couldn't rid my mind of all the pointy needles and buckets of blood being drained from the pasty looking people around me. I felt faint within minutes.

I asked if I could pop down the road to Oxfam and meet Lisa outside later, but she wasn't keen, so I had to see the thing through to the bitter end. It wasn't pleasant. Lisa may have been the one who lost a pint of blood (which, I informed the nurse, is nearly an armful - I don't think she'd heard that one before), but by the end of it, I needed those oaty biscuits more than she did.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Is it April the first..?

"TV timelord Dr Who is about to face his toughest challenge yet - by finding himself trapped inside the Big Brother house.

The show’s writer, Russell T Davies, has revealed that in the penultimate episode of this series, the Tardis will take the Doctor (Christopher Ecclestone) and sidekick Rose (Billie Piper) to a futuristic reality TV land where Big Brother is still running. BBC bosses have even enlisted the help of Channel 4 to make the episode as authentic as possible - and are in talks with Davina McCall to provide her famous BB catchphrases for it.

As the Doctor plots his escape from the Big Brother house, Rose, meanwhile, finds herself competing on a strange, futuristic version of The Weakest Link - only to discover that mean quizmaster Anne Robinson has been replaced by a robot."
I've just answered Lorraine's phone for the sixth time since arriving here two weeks ago. One call was from Lorraine herself, one from Lisa's mother, one put the phone down as soon as I picked it up, one tried to sell me something, another asked for Mrs Bywater, and the latest was for Mrs Winfield. Having told him he'd got the wrong number and that no one called Winfield lives here, he said "What about Deborah Winfield?", as though he expected me to say "Oh, Deborah Winfield? Yeah, she's right here on the sofa".

Something tells me Lorraine doesn't get a lot of phone calls during the day. I'll just have to keep reading her e-mails to pick up any goss.

Anyhoo, Lorraine arrives home tomorrow morning, so the cat-sitting is nearly at an end. To celebrate, Oscar and Timmy have been fighting like cat and... um... cat all morning, despite me attempting to keep them apart with some concilliatory tuna. It's like ACAS around here. (Are they still going? You never hear about them any more. I blame Tony Blair).

So today's task is to tidy the house and pack up all the bagels, though personally I'm inclined to leave the place looking a mess and blame it all on Timmy. I also need to consider removing any criticisms of Lorraine and her lovely cats which might have appeared here over the past fortnight (have there been any?), just in case by some miracle she remembers my blog address and comes checking on the level of care her babies have received.

Alternatively I may just change the last dozen entries to say "posted by Lisa"...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I was just tucking into my Sainsbury's 'Be Good to Yourself' Cumberland Pie yesterday lunchtime whilst reading about Michelle McManus in Heat magazine (a little insight into my daily life there), when Lorraine's parents turned up with a window box and asked if they could come in to fill up their watering can. It turned out to be an excuse to stand in the kitchen for fifteen minutes and grill me about mine and Lisa's wedding plans. Apparently we're a good match, seem to get on very well (appearances can be deceptive), and should be down that aisle the moment Mrs B has bought a hat.

Personally I just kept smiling and nodding, then complimented them on their hanging baskets, and started thinking about Michelle McManus. Lisa has dreams about her ill-fitting jumpers, y'know. Which is quite embarrassing, but not as embarrassing as deciding to buy Heat magazine whilst in the queue at Sainsburys, purely because she's on the cover claiming to have lost five and a half stone. A claim I refute, incidentally, having forked out £1.50 of my hard-earned cash and examined the evidence for myself. I still think she should go on tour with Rik Waller, and release a cover of Renee & Renata's 'Save Your Love', but will she listen to me?

No, she won't.

Anyhoo, the more interesting news of the day is that having spent the past two months saying that five scripts will make the shortlist for each sitcom in their Last Laugh competition, the BBC have now said it'll only be four. So on the one hand it means (calculator out) that I now have to be amongst the top 0.8% of entries to make the shortlist for Annie's People, but on the other it means they've clearly had so many rubbish entries that they're struggling to find as many as five decent ones.

Which has to be good news. Unless mine was the fifth best script.

Unfortunately they also say this:

"These short-lists will start coming back to us in the next few weeks and we'll begin to call people to let them know. If you do get a phone call remember not to tell everyone about it - we want to keep the names of the people on the short-list secret until the series goes out in September / October."

Is it just me, or is that slightly barking? You're supposed to be able to win a big writing contest, film a TV series, meet a load of famous people, and somehow manage not to mention it to anyone.

But on the bright side, it means that if in a few weeks time I don't mention that I've won this competition, you can all assume that I have.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Lorraine texted from Antigua early this morning to check how things are, and to say how much she's missing her babies. Which was very sweet. Sadly we couldn't respond immediately as we were busy panicking that Timmy hadn't been seen since yesterday evening, frantically searching the garden, and reassuring each other that if he'd been hit by a car, it wasn't our fault.

Unless it was my car, in which case we'd just leave before she gets back, and hope she doesn't say anything.

Fortunately, just as Lisa was realising that Lorraine would never speak to her again, Timmy, who'd never strayed more than five minutes from his food bowl before, came sauntering in the front door as though nothing had happened. It was a bit of a relief. Until he settled down to sleep on the kitchen hand-towel. At which point we wished he'd leave again.

But anyhoo, in other non-cat-related news, it appears I've been tagged by Carol. Which is quite exciting. It's the first time I've ever been tagged without a court order, and I'm not 100% sure what's involved, but it seems I have to answer some movie-related questions, and then pass the baton on to others. Who, being British, will immediately drop it and get disqualified.

But for what it's worth, here goes...

1. Total number of films you own on DVD/video.
Well I'm currently 140 miles away from my video collection, so I can't be sure, but it's about 600. I got rid of most of them six years ago.

2. The last film you bought.
'The Exorcist - Special Edition', £2 from a Brighton charity shop.

3. The last film you watched.
Why, that would be the all-singing, all-dancing, laugh-a-minute comedy masterpiece which is Tarnation.

4. Five films that you watch a lot.
Well sadly I don't have much time to watch my 600 films these days, due to being less mentally unbalanced and therefore busy inflicting my pointless thoughts on the worldwide web, but amongst my most worn video tapes are...

Kicking & Screaming
The Immortals
That's Adequate
Mystery Science Theater 3000

Or if you want me to be a bit more original than just naming the first five movies on my Philms page, then... um...

South Park: The Movie
Reservoir Dogs
Six Degrees of Separation
The Jerk

So there you go. Barry Norman eat your heart out.

As per the rules of the game, the five people I would now like to tag (at least until they've done some community service) are...

Jamie Oliver
Boris Johnson

(That last link is particularly scary).

I'll expect to see the answers on your blogs within 48 hours. I'm talking to you there, Boris.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Yesterday Lisa and I made a pilgrimage back to her flat for the afternoon, to put together her new bed which arrived on Wednesday. As we were about to leave, however, Lorraine's parents turned up with some pot plants, which they used as a thinly veiled excuse to gain entry and slag off Timmy for twenty minutes. Lorraine's mother, who doesn't suffer fools gladly, seems to have decided that Timmy needs to be beaten around the head on a regular basis, and was happy to demonstrate the technique for us when the Timster jumped onto the kitchen table within striking distance of Mrs B.

We left with Lorraine's Mum vowing to contact the cat rescue people, and busy trying to form a weapon out of a rolled up newspaper. Needless to say, we weren't expecting Timmy to still be there when we got back.

Over at Lisa's flat, we successfully put together the new bed in about two hours. Lisa felt she could best contribute to the job by banging in a few dowels and then lying down in the other room for an hour and a half, but I knew she was with me in spirit. And I did get a cup of tea half way through.

A bit of electric screwdriving later, and we had a new bed. And here it is...

DIY King

As you can see, Lisa's bedroom is light, spacious and surprisingly tidy, with a south facing sea view which makes it just the kind of property likely to be featured on quality shows such as Location, Location, Location (which is my personal favourite on account of its good looking host).

Well ok, that's not actually Lisa's bedroom, it's a shot from the Argos catalogue. But they're remarkably similar. Really.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Lorraine's mother rang up last night, giving Lisa the perfect opportunity to spend half an hour slagging off Lorraine's cat-parenting skills. Oddly enough, Lorraine's Mum not only agreed with her, but seemed to hate Timmy even more than we do. So I'm finally beginning to understand why it's us doing the cat-sitting, and not Lorraine's parents, who, let's face it, only live five minutes down the road.

But personally I've warmed to Timmy. As I said to Lisa over breakfast this morning, "He just needs someone to love him". She responded with "So do I. But I don't poo everywhere", so I'm not sure she quite shared my compassion.

I'm slightly regretting that Lorraine doesn't have a videophone though, because at the precise moment that Lisa was upstairs telling Lorraine's Mum how difficult it is to keep Timmy off the furniture, the Timster himself was on the living room mantelpiece knocking off a china dog. His timing is impeccable.

But anyhoo, we've all agreed that his behaviour is entirely Lorraine's fault, and we're planning to phone social services when she gets back. So that's that sorted.

I've been busy the past two days doing dull stuff on the computer, but by way of a break I went for a little walk around Portslade village on Friday afternoon, where I came across a big sign which read 'Emmaus Secondhand Superstore'. Which is the kind of thing I get quite excited about. So I followed the sign...

... and found a jumble sale in a church. That's advertising for you.

Friday, May 13, 2005

As I write this, Timmy is wrapped up in the living room curtains, trying to pull down an expensive table lamp by its electrical cord. Fortunately though, I'm past caring. I've already come home from driving Lisa to work this morning to find that he'd thrown up his breakfast all over the living room carpet, so the thought of a large china table lamp falling on Timmy's head is actually quite an appealing one.

I'm also currently nursing an injured Oscar, who was attacked in the garden half an hour ago by an evil black cat (possibly one of Timmy's relatives), and needed rescuing after he was cornered by the clematis. The way he ran indoors and straight up to Lorraine's bedroom the moment I'd chased away the other cat, makes he think he's not quite the macho tiger he makes himself out to be.

But he's currently bleeding from the whiskers. So I'm expecting to find cat blood on my pillow later.

Anyhoo, yesterday was another afternoon of pizza and wine, but this time with a different friend - M (who, like H, would rather die than be identified on someone else's blog). I hadn't met M before, but we got on like a house on fire, particularly after I found she was willing to tell me about all the dodgy perms Lisa's had in the last twenty years. I'm still in negotiations for some photos.

When M left at 3pm to pick up her daughter from a man with a foot fetish, Lisa and I headed into town to meet her sister for some wedding-related clothes shopping. Lisa's nephew turned out to be as big a fan of women's clothes shops as I am, so we snuck off to the Lego store and attempted to build a battle cruiser with three wheels. When Lisa eventually texted saying "Where are you?", we simply ran next door to BHS, crept through to the shopping centre, and pretended we'd been in a bookshop.

It was a plan which couldn't fail. Until my companion asked his Mum for a Lego Star Wars figure like the one he'd just seen.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Oh, and obviously I forgot to say that it's my sister's birthday today, so...

33 Today!

I bought her a card, but I've left it in Shotley Gate, so she won't be getting it.
Today's Timmy tale (are we up to nine yet? I'm desperate to use the pun "cat o' nine tales") involves toilets. And not of the litter tray variety. Having placed all comestibles out of Timmy's reach last night, and generally cat-proofed the kitchen, Lisa made her way into the bathroom at 6:30 this morning to find him perched on the edge of the toilet with his tongue stuck down the bowl. So let's hope she was wrong about him licking her sponge.

I think I'll squirt Domestos around the rim and see what effect that has.

Anyhoo, the good news is that it's Thursday and I've finally managed to get Lisa to work for 8am. Which is just as well, coz she's finishing at 12. Which gives me just enough time to try on the fabulous summery clothes I bought in the charity shops yesterday (which include a Cat in the Hat t-shirt. Oh yes indeed. It'll go well with my Mr Happy one, which I bought mainly for reasons of irony), find they don't fit me, cry, and then go and shave ready to meet Lisa's friend M this afternoon.

Lisa and I are quite happy to entertain when it's not our house. We've even offered to cook. Well, ok, we're sticking a pizza in the oven, but that won't stop us hiding the box and pretending we made it ourselves. So I'd better get cracking...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Ok, this is starting to get ridiculous now. I came downstairs this morning to find that the wholemeal bagel I'd left wrapped in a plastic bag in the kitchen, ready for my lunch today, was now lying on the floor at the far end of the living room, bag ripped to shreds, and with lumps eaten out of the bagel. Cat-sized lumps. Which uncannily matched the dental features of Timmy.

But on the bright side, he'd successfully used the litter tray. We were also able to express our displeasure to Lorraine last night, when she rang from Antigua to see how her little darlings (Oscar & Timmy, not Phil & Lisa) are doing. Lisa dispensed with such idle pleasantries as 'hello' or 'how are you', and opened the conversation with the words "Timmy is a very naughty cat". Lorraine responded by asking us to keep him off the kitchen worktops. Ironic advice, seeing as he was on the dishwasher at the time, trampling our bananas en route to the rich tea fingers.

But hey, only another nine days to go.

Yesterday evening Lisa and I relived our combined youths by going to Wimpy (I didn't know they were still in business) for a Brown Derby. After which we dropped in on her aunt and uncle. I've now bonded with Lisa's aunt to such an extent that she told me she considers me to be one of the family (but hopefully not in a Mafia way), and asked when I'm moving down. She also said that Lisa was a very attractive child, though she failed to provide any photographic evidence to back up such an outlandish claim.

But we spent an enjoyable hour chatting about opera, jazz and Eastenders, then I ate a cream cake and made them sit through our holiday photos, before stealing their electric screwdriver and leaving.

This morning I've been back to Lisa's flat to take delivery of a new bed. (No jokes about us wearing out the old one - thanks). Having chatted to the man from Argos about the state of parking in Brighton, I made my way into town via the Kemptown charity shops and met Lisa for lunch, after which I was approached by a youth who asked if I could spare 50p. I lied through my teeth and told him I didn't have any change, whereupon he said "well if I give you nine pounds, can you give me a ten pound note?"

What??? Are Brighton's beggars now carrying a float so they can give out change to people like me??? And more to the point, if you've got nine quid, why do you need to beg? You should be putting it on a horse.

So I told him he had more money than me, and walked off.

Having been reunited with my car, I then drove towards the seafront, only to find myself directly behind Chris Eubank's Hummer (registration number 1 KO) at the traffic lights! Could my life be any more exciting??! (Don't answer that). I attempted to make eye contact with Chris via his rear view mirror, then we made our way down to the pier, wished each other well, and went our separate ways. Well, I wished him well. He just turned left really.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

In a touching coincidence, which proves just how similar we are, Lisa and I awoke this morning to discover we'd both dreamt about famous people. In my dream, I was conducting a serious investigation into the death of Abraham Lincoln, interviewing historians, talking to firearms experts, examining the building where he died, and seeking out witnesses. While Lisa dreamt she was living with Chesney Hawkes.

In the words of Belinda Carlisle, "we dream the same dream, we want the same thing". Although why anyone would want to live with Chesney Hawkes, I've no idea.

Anyhoo, having made it through Monday successfully using his litter tray, Timmy, the naughtiest cat in the world (there's a children's book in this), decided to relieve himself on the kitchen floor last night. And then add insult to injury by leaving via the cat flap. So I got up this morning to find the litter tray unused, a pile of poo eight feet away, and a cat who'd managed to let himself out. It's not going well.

But on the bright side, I've been to some charity shops. I witnessed a stand up fight between the manager of Oxfam and one of her staff members; a woman who asked if she could change into her purchase there and then because she was on her way to a job interview and had accidentally come out in a psychedelic rainbow skirt; a man who picked up the CD I was about to buy when I'd only put it down so I could pick up a shirt, and then went and bought it himself; and a woman in Help the Aged who clearly thought I was old and tried to persuade me to buy a green jumper with a leprechaun on it.

But apart from that, nothing happened.

In other news, following last week's deadline, the BBC have announced that they've received "over 4,000" entries for their Last Laugh competition. With 40 people set to make the shortlist (five for each of the eight sitcoms), it means I'll need to be in the top 1% to progress. In addition, contestants who (like myself) chose to do Annie's People seem to be coming out of the woodwork all of a sudden. A total of nine have appeared on the BBC message board over the weekend. Although that's possibly only because I posted a message on Friday posing as Ian Pattison.

So the competition appears a little fierce. But it could have been worse. The BBC have also announced that they expect "over 10,000" applicants for the next series of The Apprentice. So forget comedy, there are more than twice as many people who want to meet Alan Sugar.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Day three of cat-sitting hell, and Lisa is now accusing Timmy of licking her sponge in the bathroom. Personally I think it's an outrageous allegation. Although he does sleep in the bath and drink out of our cups at any given opportunity.

Not that Oscar's much better. I was forced downstairs for fresh water an hour after going to bed last night, after Lisa awoke to find Oscar drinking from her glass on the dressing table. We wouldn't mind, but I've personally witnessed where else he sticks his tongue, and I'm not sure it's entirely hygienic.

But on the plus side, I made it to Sainsburys yesterday and purchased a litter tray scoop. I find it more appealing that panning for gold with the tablespoon Lorraine provided.

This morning I've sucessfully transported Lisa to work. It's a journey of about five miles. So it only took about 40 minutes. That's rush hours for you. We might have to try and leave a bit earlier tomorrow. I think I underestimated how long it would take me to feed two cats and make Lisa's Laughing Cow sandwiches. I also forgot the biscuit with her cup of tea, which threw my schedule off by another minute. I'll have it sorted by the end of the week though.

On my way back along the seafront, I had the pleasure of passing the Pitch & Putt place which I came to know so well last October, and which subsequently became the name of Mirkin's local in chapter three of my (unfinished) novel, after input from one of my stalkers. (Not content with linking to my own archives and novel, I'm now linking to my comments. This is getting ridiculous).

Anyhoo, the owners have obviously since rejected my suggestion to permanently swap both the P's for B's, and have erected a new sign. Which someone has already defaced to read 'Pitch & Putta'. Which is ok I suppose, but for me it lacks the resonance of Bitch & Butt. I think I'll take a marker pen with me tomorrow.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

You know your cat-sitting's going well when you let the cat out on a Sunday morning, and Lisa says "Quick! Lock the door before he comes back!"

I'm not sure they've completely bonded. Possibly it has something to do with Timmy's decision to ignore the litter tray and use the bathroom and living room as his toilet. But on the plus side, Lisa said that clearing it up put her off her sausage and tomato crisps, so she'll be nine and a half stone in no time.

Anyhoo, we've successfully transferred from Brighton to nearby Portslade, after Lorraine left for Antigua on Friday morning, leaving us in sole charge of Oscar (formerly Mr Evil Cat, now everybody's favourite feline, due to his uncanny ability to use a cat flap) and Timmy (whose popularity is rapidly declining).

I drove over here at lunchtime on Friday to feed the ravenous beasts, failed to fit any of my supplies into the freezer, and headed off to Sainsburys for non-frozen food, before rushing back across Brighton (via a 20 minute traffic jam) to pick up Lisa's sister and transport her into town to meet Lisa's nephew from school. I then spent a leisurely three hours being ridden around the living room and having chips thrown at me, before taking said nephew to pick up Lisa from work. She was a little late coming out, so he suggested we leave it and go home, but I held firm and said we'd give her five minutes. Fortunately she made it in time.

An evening trip to Asda for ice cream, and we eventually made it back over to Portslade, where Lisa made herself at home by chucking out half of Lorraine's potatoes.

On Saturday we had an afternoon of pizza and wine with Lisa's friend H. I agreed to sacrifice my horse racing viewing, after I won twenty quid on the first race, and decided it was better to go and eat pizza whilst £20 up, rather than stay in front of the TV all afternoon, and then have to sell the pizza to pay off my gambling debts.

This morning we read the Sunday papers. And then used them to clear up cat mess. We're off to Sainsburys now for some more sausage and tomato crisps. There's only so much Timmy can do in that department.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Having conducted in-depth discussions on the Richard & Judy Forum with a shadowy figure with an inpenetrable pseudonym, and a bloke who looks like a burger, I've now seen the error of my ways. So I'd just like to apologise to King Nicholas for calling him a berk. It wasn't big, it wasn't clever, and most importantly, it didn't increase my web traffic. So in the words of Tony Blair, let's move on...

I was awoken at 6am this morning by Lisa, who kindly informed me that she'd seen the news and the Conservatives had won the election. Which was clearly ridiculous. Not the Conservatives winning the election, but Lisa watching the news. I didn't fall for it for one moment.

Sadly though, my vote for street-dweller Kathy Pollard failed to sweep her to victory. Tim Yeo held on to South Suffolk with a comfortable majority. We had a very high turnout though - 71.8% compared to the national average of 60%, which I put down to the galvanising effect of my 'can-you-spell-peninsula' campaign.

Oh, and the Greens came third in Brighton, so that's ten quid down the drain for Lisa's friend.

But anyhoo, having already voted by post, I spent yesterday afternoon playing Star Wars with a Tumbling Monkey. I'm not sure I could fully explain the rules, but it essentially involved taking one boxed Tumbling Monkeys game (which is a blatant rip-off of Kerplunk if you ask me), waving the plastic sticks around like light sabres, letting Lisa's 18 month old nephew eat the dice, and then playing out the age-old struggle of good against evil across the sprawling backdrop of Lisa's sofa, using nothing but a plastic monkey and the imagination of a six year old.

But on the bright side (or should that be the dark side?) I was able to use the force to rescue some jam tarts from the fridge. So it wasn't all bad.

The highlight of the day, however, was the masterpiece which is Tarnation. I have to say it was very good. Though of the three words I mentioned yesterday, 'heartbreaking' is definitely the one to go for. It's a cheery tale of child abuse, mental illness, drugs, rape, violence and death. With very few car chases. It's worth seeing for a three minute segment alone, where the 11 year old Jonathan Caouette does a dramatic piece to camera dressed as a woman. The kid could act, there's no doubt about it. It's very impressive.

I have to say though, I thought the film went right off the rails in the last 30 seconds. Having avoided sentimentality for the whole 90 minutes, he went for a completely contrived ending involving angels and septums (septa?), which no doubt will have gone down a storm in America, but completely jarred for me. You can't have everything though, and for the most part it was excellent. I'd recommend it to anyone. If it hadn't just closed.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Forty-eight hours after the King's national exposure on R & J, I thought I'd see what impact it's had on my web traffic. Naturally I've been expecting a flood of visitors to converge on Nick's website on the back of his media whorage, only to be carefully shepherded over here via his links page, resulting in a bumber crop of new Phil Phans. So I've checked my site statistics, and the scores on the doors are...

Zero. I'm still averaging about 70 hits a day for my Brighter than Sunshine page, but so far no refugees from daytime TV. Which is simply not good enough.

So I've attempted to whip up a bit of interest by starting a quality debate on Channel 4's Richard & Judy Forum. So far no one's joining in, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time. I'll give it a couple of hours, then I'll start slagging off Richard Madeley, and see where that gets me.

Anyhoo, today is polling day. Which means Lisa's nephew has the day off school (presumably to go door-knocking for the Lib Dems), so I'm bracing myself for an afternoon of death and mayhem on the Playstation. Obviously I'd rather be watching the horse racing - sorry, I mean doing some serious writing - but it's important to invest a bit of time in the younger generation. And he does seem to enjoy shooting me with rocket launchers.

This evening, Lisa and I are finally going to see the $218 masterpiece which is...


It's been on at the local arts cinema since April 22nd, so naturally we've left it till the final performance of the final day of its run before getting our tickets. So I hope it's not a film which needs a second viewing to fully appreciate it, otherwise we could be in trouble.

But I've prepared myself for the experience by reading the director's blog. Having only spent $218 on the film, you'd think he could've afforded to splash out on a bit more than a free Blogspot template, but never mind. I've read the reviews, and the Boston Globe describes Tarnation as "a heartbreaking work of staggering genius", while the LA Times claims it "literally dazzles".

So if I come back heartbroken, staggered and dazzled, I might not be in a fit state to write a blog post tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

It's marvellous the things you discover when you're heading towards Argos in search of carpet sweepers. A couple of years ago I noticed that Tesco do 'Value' pregnancy testing kits, something I found endlessly amusing. After all, why pay full price for something like that - it's not a matter of life and death. Well actually it is. But anyway...

As it turns out, Value pregnancy tests for a fiver are now entirely unnecessary. Situated a few doors down from the Brighton branch of Argos is that purveyor of quality goods, Poundland...

I don't really need to finish this story, do I.

Well anyway, it's true - Poundland are selling pregnancy testing kits for... oh yes, a pound. It made me laugh so much I had to buy one. I've given it to Lisa as an early anniversary present. So if we ever announce a happy event here, you'll know it's based entirely on the evidence of a cheap dipstick. And the one pound kit he bought at Poundland. So frankly I'd hold back on the champagne til we've been to Tescos for a second opinion.

Anyhoo, while I was out buying medical supplies at the pound shop, Lisa's VCR was successfully recording King Nick's triumphant appearance on Richard & Judy. They'd obviously decided against giving over the whole show to him, and instead managed to condense a day of his life into two and a half minutes. A minute less than they dedicate to 'You Say, We Pay'.

But it's quality that counts, not quantity, and it was a fine piece of film. I particularly enjoyed the moment where Nick met the lovely David and Janet outside Felbrigg Hall, announced "I'm King Nicholas the First", and received the enthusiastic reply "Oh right, yeah..." You could see them mentally dialling social services as they shook his hand. It's a look I've come to recognise.

Other highlights included the lack of an apostrophe at Roy Boys truckstop, the bored soundman ruining the suit-fitting scene by wandering in front of the mirror at Beryl's house, and the Copeman flag, which had clearly been cut from an outdoor chess board.

I must say I was impressed by the idyllic setting of Roy's burger bar though. I'd always pictured it as an oasis of concrete, but I was pleasantly surprised by the number of trees. It saves having to install men's toilets.

So ten out of ten to Channel 4. With royal coverage like that, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before Attenborough and Dench are no longer the only Sir Richard and Dame Judy in the country.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I'm seriously considering making another complaint to the ASA, this time about that new Marks & Spencers advert. It's just too darn tempting. Every time I hear the words "This is not just a chicken..." I find myself heading to the fridge for a Turkey Twizzler and a chocolate mini roll. They should show more consideration for the weak willed and easily led.

Talking of food, Lisa branched out into Hell's Kitchen territory on Sunday by cooking me a Gary Rhodes original - Italian Beef Casserole. It looked more like spaghetti bolognese to me, and on the sole previous time she'd cooked it, apparently everyone refused to eat it and opted for fish fingers instead. But I didn't let that put me off (mainly because I've tried Lisa's fish fingers). It was actually very nice, and well worth the twenty minutes I spent driving around the Asda car park trying to find a space so we could buy the ingredients.

Yesterday we headed over to Portslade for a pre-cat-sitting pep talk from Lorraine. We officially take charge of her felines on Friday for two weeks while she suns herself in Antigua, so it was important she prepared us for the experience by talking about the smell from the litter tray, and Timmy's habit of stealing bacon from next door's breakfast table. We promised to do our best to keep her cats alive, wished her bon voyage, and then left without taking the house key.

A sharp u-turn later and we headed home where we spent an enjoyable evening removing Italian Beef Casserole from the kitchen sink with a plunger.

Anyhoo, I probably shouldn't mention this again for fear of tempting fate, but for those interested, King Nick's show-stealing appearance on Richard & Judy, which was cruelly cancelled last week, has apparently been rescheduled for today. Personally I won't be here - I'll be in town buying a carpet sweeper for Lisa's mother. She hasn't asked for one, it's just my way of hinting that her place needs cleaning.*

So I'm relying on Lisa's Videoplus skills. Which I'm sure will be fine. And won't result in ten minutes of Ready Steady Cook and a bit of Paul O'Grady.

*just kidding. Her life revolves around carpet sweepers.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Having 'enjoyed' the horse racing yesterday afternoon (that was worth waiting four months for), Lisa and I spent the evening at the home of her friend 'L' (not to be confused with Lorraine, who actually complains if I don't mention her by name on this blog). I haven't seen L since December, when he asked me if I was writing anything at the time, and I attempted to explain my novel to him. He looked at me as if I was insane. Obviously I am insane, but that's no excuse.

So I was bracing myself for an in-depth discussion about penguins last night, but fortunately L seems to have learned his lesson, and kept the conversation well away from my writing all evening.

Lisa and I had promised to be there at 8pm, so we arrived promptly at 8:30, putting to shame the other invited guest (whose name also begins with L - this could get confusing) who was booked for 8 and turned up at 10. Even Lisa and I wouldn't go that far. We draw the line at about 90 minutes late.

But we had an enjoyable evening, during which our host informed us that not only has he taken up Morris Dancing, but he's also put a bet on the Green Party winning the general election. He was particularly pleased, because he has a contact in the business who'd been able to get him odds of 25-1. Obviously I was far too polite to point out that the chances of the Greens forming the next government would be closer to 25 billion to one, and even then I wouldn't put a bet on it, so I just smiled and nodded, with a kind of 'and you thought I was insane' look on my face.

As it turned out, he was only talking about the Brighton Pavilion constituency, where apparently the Green Party recorded their highest ever UK vote at the last election. They came 4th (wiping the floor with Marie Paragallo of the ProLife Party), receiving 9.3% of the total vote. Which apparently makes them a good bet to overturn Labour's 10,000 vote majority and 48.7% share of the poll this time around, and gain their first ever MP.

He said his Mum had a poster in the window anyway. So I'm sure he can't lose.