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Thursday, June 30, 2005

The good thing about not being able to sleep at 4 o'clock in the morning is that you come online and discover FANTASTIC e-mails sent to you shortly after midnight. This has brightened me up no end...

"Dear Phil

i am flattered that you feel the need to use my name to sell your website, and that my work has enraged you enough that you feel the need to discredit me, however i work to heal and help people to be positive in life, unlike you. Your thought's about me are untrue, and i thought had been removed me from google and yahoo search's. I see tonight that you have return to using my name in a unture and illegal way to sell your negative thought's about other people. I do not want to have to resort to taking legal action against you, i shall give you one more chance to remove it, i am sure you would have a much happier life if you were less negative and nasty about people and thing's you know nothing about."

Sadly it's not signed, and I'm not sure it's entirely in English either, but the liberal use of apostrophes for no apparent reason can mean only one thing...

It's from SECRET OF LIGHT!!!!!

Although for a while I thought it was Orlaith e-mailing me from inside the Big Brother house.

Anyhoo, it's nice to know that old Secret has been keeping well since our last correspondence. Obviously I'm still struggling to understand what the heck he/she is talking about, but the fact that they've taken the trouble to get in touch again means a lot to me. I'm particularly pleased they don't want to have to take legal action against me. That's a relief. Especially as I'm beginning to wonder if I'm talking to Andrea Foulkes (regression therapist and confirmed charlatan) herself here. She knows Phillip Schofield, and he's not a man you want to get on the wrong side of.

But I think I'll stick to my guns and hold out for a free regression therapy session. It might not change my unhappy life, my negativity, my general nastiness, and my complete ignorance of all things (I think that's an acccurate summing up of the charges), but with a bit of luck it might help me sleep.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

You've got to hand it to that Orlaith on Big Brother. The girl's a star. Obviously she's as dull as ditchwater to actually watch, but she's done this to my Telly Critic stats:

I thought I'd done well to more than double my average hits, with a total of 127 unique visitors on Monday, most of them looking for Orlaith in some state of undress, but that was before the girl stepped into the shower naked on Monday night's show. I happened to have used the word 'shower' a couple of posts previously, which was a stroke of luck - I hit 185 unique visitors yesterday, 90% of them Orlaith shower related.

Although my personal favourite came at 11:35pm, after Tuesday night's show, and was a hit for 'big brother maxwell saskia had sex day 28 bottom'. I think he covered all the bases there. I particularly like the way he added the word 'bottom' as a bit of an afterthought.

Anyway, (he said, making full use of Blogger Images, which he'd previously slagged off, by getting the text to flow neatly around the little picture on the right), if you think that the kind of people who do searches for such lowbrow subjects are sad, inadequate individuals with no brainpower, you would of course be wrong. As you'll discover if you click on said image.

Oh yes, my visitors are public school educated.

In other news, I've had an e-mail from the BBC, officially announcing the winners of the Last Laugh competition. It says, and I quote, "If you didn't make it onto the short list, don't loose heart".

Marvellous. I do love these people who e-mail me to tell me my writing's not good enough, whilst simultaneously littering their own efforts with spelling mistakes. I think I'll ask the BBC for a job writing their rejection letters.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I know it's wrong to laugh at such things, but I came across this advert on the web last night...

Don't touch my wimple

Is it just me, or is there something inherently funny about Google's ads catering specifically to the victims of nun abuse?

Ok, it's just me then.

But I clicked on the ad anyway, and it led me here. Which really is funny. Not the content of the site, obviously, (and I for one stand shoulder to shoulder here with my nun-abused brothers and sisters in an unflinching display of solidarity), (sorry about the insensitive use of the word 'sisters' there), but simply the fact that a website called actually exists.

I realise I'm digging myself into a hole of bad taste here, so I'll stop. But I must say I like the way their logo resembles a nun in the crosshairs of a sniper's rifle. Or maybe that's just my imagination.

Die Nun Die!!!

No... I don't think it is.

I'll go and brace myself for another batch of hate mail...

Monday, June 27, 2005

I spent a lot of time yesterday doing endlessly dull research over at Wordtracker, to try and identify the keywords I should be using to attract people to my various websites. As it turns out, it was a waste of time. I already have the keywords I need...

On Friday night, Kinga, Orlaith and Eugene entered the Big Brother house. I give them a brief mention over at the other place on Saturday morning, and what happens..?

I get eleven hits for 'Orlaith naked', plus the following quality search engine hits, all in the space of 24 hours...

orlaith shower [x3]
big brother 6 orlaith naked [x2]
big brother kinga boobs [x2]
kinga minge
orlaith belfast pictures topless
orlaith nude shower
kinga's boobs
orlaith shower pic
orlaith kinga naked [they're not fussy]
orlaith bb topless pictures
pictures of big brother 6 orlaith topless
big brother orlaith shower
orlaith big brother 6 naked
orlaith nude big brother
kinga secret garden picture of boob
orlaith model shoot
big brother orlaith nude
big brother kinga's tits
kinga's tits big brother
orlaith breasts
big brother 6 naked orlaith
orlaith belfast model
orlaith big brother nude
big brother 6 - kinga's boobs
orlaith photo shower
orlaith shows boobs

... as well as one deeply disturbed individual who searched for 'Lisa I'Anson tits'. But I'm ignoring him.

The irony is that I was only saying to Lisa last night that Orlaith does nothing for me and I want her evicted. I've changed my mind. Eugene's got to go, for the simple reason that no one wants to see him naked.

Although on the plus side, he does look like Donna's son...

Sunday, June 26, 2005

I've decided to get into internet dating. I mean, being in a relationship for thirteen months is all very well, but sometimes it's just not enough. So I've joined a dating site. I'm sure Lisa won't mind.

Actually, it was her idea (well that's my story and I'm sticking to it). It so happens that one of Lisa's friends (who shall remain nameless for legal reasons) has recently joined such a site, and has requested help from yours truly (resident love guru and romance writer extraordinaire) to pep up her profile with the aim of attracting a better class of bloke. Preferably one that will actually turn up for a date.

So despite the fact that another of Lisa's friends recently dumped her boyfriend after she discovered he'd been going speed-dating (which sounds unlikely, until I mention that she also knows of someone who had a brain aneurism and forgot he was gay. Frankly I think she's making these things up. But I digress...), Lisa handed me the task of tracking down her friend's profile on said dating site, with the aim of rewriting it for her.

Unfortunately I found that you can't browse the profiles unless you're a member. So I was forced (against my will, obviously) to join. But fear not - in an effort to avoid unwanted attention, I decided not to be absolutely honest about myself. So I said I was under 5ft, considerably overweight, with multi-coloured hair and 4 children.

As an extra precaution, I added that I'm looking for a 6'3" widow with no hair. Although of course if there is a 6'3" widow on the site, she'll be thinking all her Christmases have come at once, and will be shaving her head as we speak.

But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime I successfully located Lisa's friend. She looked quite attractive. So we're going on a date next Friday.

In other news, this blog had one of its most productive days yesterday, with a total of 78 unique visitors. Which I'd like to claim is down to the lure of my writing, but is in fact because Blogwise have had a technical breakdown, resulting in my blog being permanently stuck on their shortlist of 'recently updated blogs' for the past 24 hours. Which is marvellous, coz it means that 78 people got to see it looking completely crap. There's nothing like making a good first impression.

I'll say one thing for sitting up until 2am on a Saturday night - sometimes, just sometimes, it results in the solving of a problem. As well as a headache caused by eyestrain, and the ruination of a Sunday morning you planned to spend writing. But hey, my font's back. And it only took four hours of work.

Scouring Technorati for recent references to this issue, led me to blogs such as this one, which at least identified the problem for me. It seems that as of Friday, Blogger have started inserting 'clear' tags around each individual post which are beyond the reach of your template, thus ruining the blogs of people like myself who have chosen not to go with one of the default Blogger templates, and have created their own instead. Not that I'm suggesting this was the reason behind their actions. Not much, anyway.

Anyhoo, the fix quoted on that site didn't work for me, so I searched on until I came to this one, which said "It's astonishingly stupid of Blogger to force arbitrary formatting commands into a text block that is the basic currency of the page" (something I'd agree with if I hadn't promised Chris I wouldn't slag off his employers any more), and finally led me here, where after a bit of discussion, an alternative workaround was proposed.

Half an hour of experimentation later, and I finally got it to work with my template shortly before 2am.

So I'd just like to say that Blogger officially sucks, I refuse to be bullied into using a dull standard template by such underhand tactics, and... um... I wish I'd kept a copy of my original template, because the moment they decide to change it back, I'm screwed.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Right, now I'm really annoyed. I've just published a new post over at the other place, and now that blog's ruined too.

Not only has it inserted a giant white space underneath the title of the post, but it's removed all my gorgeous formatting - my smooth font, my lovely padded spacing between the lines, my indented paragraphs on each post, everything.

And that blog isn't even hosted on Blogspot, I'm paying for that site, dammit!!!

I think I'll go and have a lie down.

After I've sent Blogger another nasty e-mail...
This is not a logo you want to see at the top of a letter on a Saturday morning...

You're nicked, sunshine!

Especially when it's followed by these words...

You're goin' daaaaaan...

But fortunately they haven't discovered my illegal taping of pop songs off the radio, it's actually...

It wasn't me, guv!

So after 14 years of driving and not a single penalty point on my licence, I can now either accept three of the little blighters and a £60 fine, or go to court and plead mitigating circumstances.

As it happens, there were mitigating circumstances. And not just because Lisa was distracting me at the time by talking about Cambridgeshire Christians. I've driven that stretch of the A14 dozens of times, I know full well that there's a 50mph limit on that stretch, and I always slow down. But they were doing roadworks on the bit of road leading up to that section, and I was busy staring at a million cones and 'free recovery starts here' signs, meaning that the '50mph limit ahead' sign went unnoticed.

Frankly they should be grateful I wasn't doing eighty miles per hour. And thanking me for being the only person at the Ben Folds gig not to have had a drink. So I'm not happy.

And talking of not being happy, I've e-mailed Blogger to complain about the fact that since their triumphant launch of 'Blogger Images' yesterday, the font on my blog has been permanently buggered up, and asking what they're going to do about it.

They've responded with:

"Thanks for contacting Blogger Support. Since we cannot always respond personally to every message we get, we encourage you to check Blogger Help, where you can find answers to many common questions."

Marvellous. I do love an automated e-mail which in no way answers your question.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The big news story of the day is that sweaty people are apparently calling 999 to complain about the hot weather. Which is ridiculous. They should wait until they're hit by the golfball-sized hailstones we're meant to be getting later today, then they'll really have something to call the emergency services about.

The other exciting news is of course the success of plucky Brit Andy Murray, who's won his second round match at Wimbledon, beating the number 14 seed in straight sets, and fulfilling the potential we all knew he had. So I'd just like to state for the record that I've always had a lot of faith in Andy, I knew he was something special, and I won't hear a word said against him.

Apart from when I'm slagging him off on my blog. But hey, that was nine months ago. I was a different person back then. I didn't know what I was saying. And besides which, I was ill.

So that's that one cleared up. I can go back to my writing now. As it happens, I wrote a five minute comedy sketch yesterday. Unfortunately it was for a competition for three minute comedy sketches, but you can't have everything. I think I'll add a couple of lines and call it a play.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Today I am mostly listening to...

Sorry About Tomorrow

I got it in a Brighton charity shop on Monday. Obviously I'd never heard of Hot Rod Circuit, and I only bought it for the picture on the cover, but the good news is it's actually very good. Although it turns out the girl on the front isn't in the band.

Anyhoo, against my better judgement, I ended up staying in Brighton on Tuesday. Mainly because Frankie Dettori was riding at Brighton racecourse that afternoon. Sadly I didn't get to meet him though. Possibly because I refused to pay the £12 entry fee. But they were selling his pizzas at Asda, so I bought one of those instead.

I eventually arrived home shortly before 2am on Tuesday night. There were no traffic jams on the A12 this time. Oh no. This time they'd closed the whole road. But it meant I got to see the backroads of Colchester from behind a juggernaut at 35mph.

Yesterday I was busy being useless, but in a coincidence of gargantuan proportions, there was a horse running in the 9:05pm race at Epsom last night called 'Depressed'.

It came second. Beaten by a neck. So that did a lot for my mood. And who was riding the suicidal nag? Yup, our Frankie. That man has a lot to answer for.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

After writing my blog yesterday, the evening paper arrived, with the front page headline "GRIDLOCK", a photo of hot people in cars (myself and Lisa sadly not included) and the subtitle "City grinds to a halt as thousands flock to coast".

Apparently at the peak of the jams on Sunday, it was taking people four hours to drive from the outskirts of Brighton to the sea front, and "some visitors vowed never to return to the city after spending hours stuck in traffic". Which is good news - it'll be quieter next time.

But amidst the tales of overheating cars, overheating tempers, and people taking 3 hours to get to the pier from the other end of the road, there is a positive side to this story - ice cream seller Sam Isted says he's never had it so good.

Anyhoo, yesterday evening Lisa and I ventured out onto the streets of Brighton again for a trip to the cinema to see Sin City. Intriguingly, it wasn't our decision to go - we'd actually been asked by Lisa's mother to take her to see it, and despite me questioning whether it was really the kind of movie we should be escorting pensioners to, I was overruled with the words "It's ok, she likes violent films". So I agreed. Mainly because if you find out that you have a possible future mother-in-law who likes violence, you tend to do as she asks.

As it turned out, I quite liked Sin City. Admittedly, everyone in it sounded like they could use a packet of Strepsils, and most of the time you didn't know what was going on, but even so, it was quite entertaining. My favourite moment was about 45 minutes into the movie, when Lisa turned to me and said "It's everything I hate about films, all rolled into one". A couple of slaughter-filled minutes later, her mother added that we should've brought her 6 year old grandson. I think she was joking. But that was before the bit where Bruce Willis rips off a man's penis with his bare hands, so I'm not sure.

On the down side, I couldn't help feeling that Elijah Woods' villain looked like Harry Potter, so the scene in which Mickey Rourke chopped off his arms and legs before feeding his torso to a wolf while he was still alive, lacked resonance for me. I did like Clive Owen's shoes though.

So I give it three and a half hot-dogs out of a possible five. But for an alternative view, you can always click here.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Wimbledon started four hours ago. Are there any British players still in it? Personally I've not yet had a chance to watch any plucky Brits battling their way to failure in straight sets, due to being out in the Brighton sunshine all day.

Yes, that's right, I've been in seven charity shops. But I've only bought one shirt. And it fits me. Probably. I also resisted the obvious temptation to buy a secondhand copy of Michelle McManus's first (and probably only) album. It may have been for charity, but even I have limits.

Oh, have I mentioned that I'm back in Brighton? Lisa and I returned here yesterday afternoon. I'd won another £14.50 on the final day of Royal Ascot, making an overall profit for the week of £80. So the mathematicians amongst you will be able to work out exactly how much I lost on Friday.

Before leaving for the sunny south coast, I spent an enjoyable couple of hours moving heavy bookcases in extreme heat. I'm being forced to clear my hallway so that my landlord can fit new carpets. Not that I don't want new carpets, but where am I supposed to store thirty foot of shelving and books, not to mention a vacuum cleaner with a thick layer of dust, in a flat where it's already difficult to swing a cat. Unless you shave her first. She takes up a lot less room now.

Anyhoo, we left Shotley Gate at 3:30pm, dropped in on my parents to deliver a limp Father's Day offering, and made it to the outskirts of Brighton at 6:35pm. Lisa's flat was little more than four miles away. Unfortunately those four miles of Brighton streets were gridlocked due to the London to Brighton bike ride. I know that, because after crawling at less than walking pace for a mile, we finally reached a sign saying "Advance Notice: London to Brighton bike ride, 19th June", which advised us to avoid Brighton for the day. So that was nice.

We eventually made it to Lisa's flat at 8:10pm, so those four miles only took an hour and a half, and the temperature in the car wasn't much over 90 degrees. So I can't complain. It beats a home sauna any day.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Yesterday Lisa and I travelled down to Southend (sorry, I mean Westcliff-on-sea - it's much posher) to visit my brother and his family. Naturally we were half an hour late, but fortunately they're even worse than we are, so they weren't actually in when we got there. It turned out they'd had an important appointment at the cake shop.

We were soon inside though, and being welcomed by my six year old niece, who sarcastically rubbed in the fact that I haven't visited for a while, by asking "Have you been here before?", and then sticking this sticker on me...


... and telling me she'd chosen it especially "because you like wigs, don't you Phil".

So I take it she's seen the photo of me dressed as Elvis.

Lisa was soon kidnapped to look at Disney princesses on the computer, so I ate one of the Barbie apples I'd bought from Tescos, and accepted a gift of sausages from my sister-in-law.

The evening featured a game of 'Fishes', a complicated pastime which essentially involved violently flapping a duvet in the air and attempting to cause serious injury to a 6 year old. But on the plus side I was assured that "Mummy and Daddy don't mind". So that's alright then.

Afterwards we sat around eating take-away pizza and ice cream, while I told my sister-in-law about the diet I'm on, and she gave me the lowdown on her 24 hour detox plan. She's a big fan of Channel 4's 'You Are What You Eat', she told me as she helped herself to more garlic bread.

Meanwhile, my niece demanded to know if Lisa and I are going to get married, before taking Lisa upstairs and asking if she's going to have a baby. Which was quite sweet, until she added "If you do, you won't give it more attention than me, will you?". Personally I just stayed downstairs and tried to persuade my brother to buy me a flat in Brighton. I think I'll use Lisa's baby-sitting services as a bargaining tool.

We eventually made it home at midnight. It didn't take long - there aren't any speed cameras on the A12.

Friday, June 17, 2005

In an outrageous twist of fate, I actually made a loss of £2 on the horse racing yesterday. Which means that certain people did better than me. I'll be asking Kingster for tips this afternoon. But having backed The Geezer for the Derby, I'm tempted to flog a dead horse (almost literally) by tipping him again today in the 3:05. Which I'll probably regret. I also like Simple Exchange in the 4:20, but the price has collapsed from 9-1 this morning, to around 5-1 as we speak, so I'm obviously not the only one keen on that.

Anyhoo, enough horse raing chat. Yesterday Lisa and I made our way over to Cambridge for a Ben Folds gig...

Ben Folds Five (months late)

You may notice that we arrived seven months late, but fortunately we didn't seem to have missed anything. And having already slagged off Mr Folds on this issue once before, I'll say no more about it.

Before hitting the Corn Exchange we dropped in on my pal Helen, who cooked us spaghetti bolognese, showed us a photo of her dressed as a nun, and then drew all over my map of Cambridge city centre. But on the plus side, I bumped into my aunt and learnt that yobbos are ruining Bulgaria for the Saga holidaymakers, and that you need to be immunised before mixing with Asians. I think she'd been at the sherry again. But she did give us a jar of marmalade, so it worth agreeing with her.

As for the Ben Folds gig, it was actually very good. Support came from a guy in a white suit and red baseball cap, who introduced himself as Clem Snide and played a few songs on the guitar, one of which was so good I went straight down to the foyer and bought his CD. At which point I found out his name's Eef Barzelay (Eef???), and Clem Snide's the name of his band. It was quite confusing.

Ben Folds was more straightforward. You've got to hand it to the man - he played for almost two and a half hours with no break, and put more effort into the gig than anyone I've ever seen. Including Steve Brookstein and G4. I felt quite exhausted just watching him. It was worth waiting eleven months for, anyway. The man's a star.

The journey home was brightened up (literally) by a speed camera on the A14 which had the nerve to flash at me purely for breaking the speed limit. It's an outrage, and I wasn't happy. So that's my horse racing profits down the drain. I knew I should've stayed at home.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Day two of Royal Ascot, and a profit of £24. Hurrah! I should be doing this for a living. Especially the way things are going on the writing front. Having been out in Ipswich for most of the day, I discovered late last night that the BBC made this announcement yesterday afternoon about the Last Laugh sitcom-writing competition:

"Right everyone step away from your phones. The short-list has been drawn up and the people have been called. If you haven't received a phone call from us yet then I'm sorry but you haven't made the short-list."

Damn that phone for not ringing. It's another travesty. But on the plus side, I'm sure the word 'shortlist' doesn't have a hyphen, so that's some consolation. The BBC clearly don't know how to write either.

So instead of being contacted with multi-million pound comedy contracts, I'm left fielding e-mails like this one, which arrived yesterday:

"Hi there, I'm on the look out for an MB boardgame called 'Spider and Fly', which you review on this site. Do you or your friend have one of these games to sell? Many thanks, Lewis."

Funnily enough, I do have a review of that game on my site. Frankly it's the best thing on there. And anyone who can find it, without resorting to the search facility, wins a major prize. No, really. Your time starts now...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Why is it that whenever I announce my dodgy horse racing selections here, they run like overweight sloths with M.E., but if I keep quiet about the vast fortunes I've staked on moth-eaten old nags, they romp home by six lengths???

Yesterday was day one of Royal Ascot (at York, obviously), but knowing that most people's pain threshold for horse racing chat is dangerously close to zero, I resisted the temptation to discuss the form and the state of the going here (not that it usually stops me, obviously, but you can have too much of a good thing).

So I placed my bets around lunchtime, and Lisa and I headed off for a 4 mile walk around the Shotley countryside. Which had nothing to do with guilt over the chocolate mousse. By the time we got back we'd missed two horse races. And I'd won £40. We watched the next one. I won another fiver. And the last race... a £15 profit. So that's sixty quid. I should stop mentioning horse racing altogether.

But I won't. So get on Royal Prince at 14-1 in the 4:20. You know it makes sense.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I received an e-mail yesterday afternoon from Theatre & Beyond. It reads:

"Dear Writer,

Thank you for your submission to the Playwrights' Slam. Whilst we enjoyed reading your play, I am afraid it has not been selected as one of this year's finalists.

We received over 200 submissions of a high standard and competition for the shortlist was extremely strong. I am sorry to disappoint you on this occasion, but do hope you can join us for the Slams on the 25th August and 1st September at Chichester Festival Theatre."

Yes, there's nothing I like better than paying good money to see a load of plays that knocked mine into a cocked hat (am I using that phrase correctly?). I'll take a bag of tomatoes with me.

But on the bright side, they enjoyed reading my play. You can tell that by the way they began the e-mail with "Dear Writer", and copied it to 49 other people. They didn't bother using the 'blind' option either, so I now have the e-mail addresses of 49 failed playwrights. I think I'll start a support group.

Oh, and we didn't make it to Gnome Magic yesterday. We stayed in and made Baked Chocolate Mousse instead. Have I mentioned that we're both on diets?

Monday, June 13, 2005

No word yet from Secret of Light. I expect they're still down the solicitors. I probably won't hear anything till I get the summons.

In the meantime I've got protection for the next week, in the form of Lisa, who's got a week off work and has decided to spend it holidaying in Shotley Gate. As you do. It's going well so far - last night she attempted to explain to me why she's been in love with Mickey Rourke for the past twenty years, by making me sit through the video of '9 1/2 Weeks'. It certainly felt like 9 1/2 weeks. I think I must have popped to the toilet during the bit that actually contained some plot.

But I'm planning to get my revenge by making her watch 'Dream Lover' tonight, and simpering over my ideal love interest, Madchen Amick. She knocks Mickey Rourke into a cocked hat. (I've no idea what that means, but I heard Vanessa Fatz say it on TV last week, and I like it).

In other news, I've just taken the virtual tour of my sister's holiday cottage in Weymouth, as blatantly plugged in the comments on my last post. I particularly like the introduction, which is an object lesson in choosing your words carefully...

"Seagull cottage is petite [very small] with an appeal of its very own [no one likes it]. Built in the heart of Weymouth's quaint cottages of yester-years [it's old] near the harbour, it offers you a holiday in miniature [no really, it's VERY small]."

But obviously I don't want to put anyone off booking. It's very nice, really. If you're a dwarf.

Talking of little people, I'm trying to persuade Lisa to come with me to Gnome Magic. It's only half an hour's drive away, but she's not keen. I think the word 'gnome' puts her off. But hey, the other word's 'magic', let's not forget that.

My brother and his family went there last year and described it as "disappointing". My sister-in-law even said she'd rather have gone to Shotley Gate. But I drive past the sign to it on the A12 every time I go to Brighton, and after a year of subliminal advertising, I feel I just have to go. And besides, with a name like 'Gnome Magic', just how disappointing can it be?

(Don't answer that).

Sunday, June 12, 2005

It's almost a year to the day since I upset regional weather fans with a damning indictment of Julie Reinger's peach trouser suit. One year on, and I'm at it again. Only this time it's not Look East fans who want to kill me, it's regression therapists. It seems that my mention of daytime TV's biggest charlatan, Andrea Foulkes, on Friday didn't go down too well with the reincarnationists.

Someone arrived here last night after searching for Ms Foulkes' name, and sent me THIS e-mail via the Phil-Mail-o-Matic...

"Hi Phil

I think that seeing as you seem very opinionated in this life you should undertake regression to find out where your very negative attitudes to other people whom you have never met have come from. Regression therapy if you care to know heal's many imbalances in your energy field, and therefore heal's many of physical and mental ailment's.Seeing you have gone to such an effort to build such a big website it's a shame it is not put to use in helping humanity to become less negative,kinder and more caring."

It was sent shortly before 9:30pm, so the author clearly isn't a Big Brother fan. It's probably Lesley from Huddersfield, at a loose end after her eviction. Interestingly, this person with a balanced energy field also seems to have missed the links to my homepage and e-mail address, and had to return to a search engine and enter the words 'Phil Gardner' in order to arrive at my main website and find my contact details. But hey, we can't all be enlightened souls. It's just a good job they didn't find the Telly Critic post where I talk about Andrea's annoying voice, and call Lisa I'Anson a nasty piece of work. Then I'd really be in trouble.

But luckily for me, the sender of this e-mail (who clearly thinks that anything with an 's' needs an apostrophe) had time to pause for reflection, and having mellowed out for ten minutes, sent me this second message:

"I hope you know your legal position on using someone's name to link to your site and making accusation's that are not true. I think that is called slander, and defamation of character.I trust that you, see sense before i take legal advice on the matter on Monday.

Sending much Love and light to your misguided soul."

Hmmm... the legal position on someone doing a search for 'Andrea Foulkes' and clicking on the link that Google provides..? It's a tough one. I could be goin' daaaaaaan.

Fortunately, although my correspondent didn't own up to having a name, he/she did provide an e-mail address, the first part of which is 'secretoflight'. Which I read as 'secret o' flight' (the answer being 'flap your wings really hard'), before realising the error of my ways. So as someone who finds it impossible to ignore a good e-mail, I've just drafted this sensitive response:

"Dear Secret of Light,

I can only apologise. In most of my past lives I was quite open to the idea of regression therapy. It's only in my current incarnation that I think it's a load of rubbish. But I promise I'll try harder in the next one.

Thanks for the love and light,


I can only hope that heal's all the ailment's I've caused.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The last two times I've driven down to Brighton, I've found myself stuck in accident-related traffic jams on the A12. Yesterday should have been third time lucky. Sadly it wasn't. But on the plus side, after 35 minutes of queuing I did get to see a white van lying on its side across two lanes of carriageway, and a car in the grass verge at the side. Although the ambulance trying to drive past through three solid lanes of stationary traffic caused a few problems.

Arriving in Brighton (one hour late), Lisa greeted me dressed in a bin-liner, while her sister stood nearby in a pair of green plastic gloves. I think they were conducting some kind of experiment, but I didn't ask too many questions. I headed off to play Snakes & Ladders with Lisa's nephew instead. I lost, but I'm sure there was a lot of cheating going on, so I'm declaring the result null and void.

Relatives gone, Lisa and I stayed up late talking about food (we're both on diets), and I got to sleep in the early hours. Only to be woken up early by the neighbours, who seem to have found the only builders in the south of England who are willing to start work at the crack of dawn on a Saturday. I'm not happy. I might go back to bed. Lisa can get the train up to Shotley Gate.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The quality search engine hits are continuing to pour in over at the other place. In the past two days I've had:

'Kelly Brook thick' (she is)

'Pete Doherty bisexual' (is he?)

'Saskia ladette burping' (she has been)

'Holiday Showdown chav' (they all are)

'Jayne Middlemiss nipple' (she has two)

'Makosi gives Anthony a blow job' (don't go there)

... and my personal favourite...

'Andrea Foulkes charlatan'

I'm proud to be number one on Google for that. Andrea Foulkes is the 'regression therapist' who reveals the past lives of celebrities on 'Have I Been Here Before?". And obviously she is a complete charlatan.

Anyhoo, back on April 29th, I entered ten minutes of 'Be Worth It' into some two-bit contest or other, partly because I'm a fool to myself, partly because there was no entry fee, but mainly because I thought that if they don't get to read the whole play, they might not immediately reject it.

The winners are supposed to be announced on June 9th. It's now June 10th. And have I heard anything? No, I have not. Well, I did receive a nice letter a couple of weeks ago stating that they'd received my entry, and asking if I'd like to give them some money, but apart from that, nothing.

So it's another rip-roaring success for that darn play. I think I'll head off to Brighton for some sympathy. And besides, I need to get off the internet in case the BBC are trying to get through.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Now, you have to say that's cute. She looks like a snowball. Well, she looks very cold anyway.

I'm off to cut my own hair now.

But I won't be posting photos.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

As it turns out, my trip into Ipswich on Monday was well worth it. Shortly before getting stuck in the first of my two major traffic jams, I went into Pets at Home (which isn't anywhere near my home at all) and invested a frankly ridiculous amount of money in a set of electric cat clippers.

Well ok, they're actually dog clippers, but my cat doesn't know that. I'd previously tried attacking her with a pair of scissors, but it just didn't give the desired effect (despite being quite therapeutic), so I decided it was time to go electric.

It was definitely the right decision. Here she was relaxing yesterday morning on the back of the sofa, blissfully unaware of the frenzied attack she was about to be subjected to...


And after 24 hours of intensive clipping, and one shower with kitten shampoo (her, not me), here she is this afternoon, looking decidedly pleased (and not completely traumatised at all) with her new haircut...


She's now the size of a guinea pig, and I keep coughing up cat hairs, but I think she looks quite stylish. It's the kind of look which says "Look out summer, here I come!". Or alternatively, "Where did my fur go?". But all the same, I'm quite pleased with it. I bet Crash n Donna are sorry they didn't take me up on my offer to cut their daughter's hair now.

And may I say I'm quite proud to have got all the way to the end of this post without once using the phrase 'shaving my pussy'.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I went into Ipswich yesterday, which is always good for a bit of stress. By the time I got back I was in dire need of some of Crash's diazepam. So in the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (wife of my A-level English tormentor, Robert, or as I preferred to call him, 'gravy'), "How do I stress thee? Let me count the ways..."

1. The queue in the bank stretched halfway around the town centre (it's my blog, I'm allowed to exaggerate), despite it being the middle of the afternoon.

2. I was kept waiting for ages in QD while the woman on the till insisted on wrapping the photo frame I was buying in about six carrier bags, and tying them together to create a handle. She seemed to be treating it like some kind of craft project.

3. I rushed back to the car park to make sure I was within the hour, and had to wait forever at the ticket machine while a couple of pensioners searched for change through every bag they had. Having done so, they decided to request a receipt.

4. I have never seen anyone request a receipt.

5. By the time their receipt had printed and I'd got my ticket into the machine, I'd gone over the hour and had to pay an extra £1.10.

6. I got stuck in a school-related traffic jam on my way to Asda.

7. Asda have reorganised the store, and it took me over an hour to find everything.

8. They had no skimmed milk on display, and I had to wait five minutes for them to go and find some.

9. When I got to the tills, they only had a few open, and all had queues. I selected the shortest one, and was nearing the conveyor belt, when the store manager, who was panicking about the queues and marching up and down the line, flapping his arms and trying to help by being unhelpful, rushed up to me and told me I'd be better off at a till further down. He led me away and placed me in a different queue, which he insisted would be much quicker because the woman in front only had a small trolley. He then rushed off again.

10. The woman in front did indeed have a small trolley. Unfortunately she also had a very large trolley. Yes, she had so much shopping, she'd gone round with two trolleys. I panicked, looked back to my previous queue, and saw that it was now twice as long.

11. After a two minute wait, during which Mrs Slow in front of me did very little, I changed queues to the one next door, which was moving more quickly. Naturally the moment I joined it, the person at the head of the queue had a problem with their credit card, and the queue stopped.

12. I rejoined the queue I'd just left. Which by now had an extra person in it.

13. Ten minutes later, Mrs Slow finished paying for her mammoth shop. Whereupon she realised she had no chance of actually getting it all into her two trolleys and out to her car, meaning we all had to wait while they requested help for her by phone.

14. Meanwhile, the people in the two previous queues of which I'd been a member, were merrily dancing their way out of the store with completed purchases.

15. Mrs Slow eventually left with an escort, and I started loading my shopping onto the conveyor belt. The woman in front of me then tried to buy a birthday card, the card wouldn't scan, and we were left waiting AGAIN while a member of staff ambled off to check the price.

16. The woman finally left (I won't be sending her a card), after which the conveyor belt immediately stopped working, and I had to start passing everything down by hand.

17. All in all, I was in the queue for TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES. I've had friendships which lasted for less time than that.

18. Relieved to escape, I headed straight out of Asda...

19. ... and into a traffic jam on the A14, caused by a broken down lorry.

It wasn't a good day. And I couldn't even make that list a round twenty. But let's cheer ourselves up with a nice picture of Michael Jackson...

The defence breasts

Monday, June 06, 2005

Right, I think it's about time I announced the arrival of a new (and possibly short lived) blog. I'm attempting to take the job of the Sun's Ally Ross, partly to broaden my range, partly to expand my CV, but mainly because I like the idea of making a full-time living from writing one short column a week.

So I've set myself up as a TV critic. It shouldn't be too hard. I can get... oooh, at least four channels on my telly, and I watch a lot of crap, so I might as well put it all to good use.

And what's more, I'm finally ready to go public. After all, what better time to launch a new website than when Dave's without internet access for a week? (Insert smiley face here).

The site's only been listed on Google since yesterday morning, but I've already had hits for...

'Saskia Big Brother breasts'

'Vicki Butler-Henderson breasts'

'Kelly Brook boob job'

... and...

'Liz McClarnon tits'

... so I'm obviously attracting a high class of visitor.

And better still, I'm ranked number one on Google for the phrase "telly critic", beating Garry Bushell into second place. Yesss!!!

Most of it was created whilst cat-sitting in May, and in the five days since I've been back from Brighton, so obviously I'm blatantly lying about the dates on which each post was written. Needless to say that at 10:16am on May 27th I was not blogging about The Farm. I was actually sitting in a traffic jam on the A12. And I didn't get up early the next morning to write about Big Brother either.

But hey, what's a bit of deception between friends. Start as you mean to go on, that's what I say. So without further ado, I give you...

Take a look now, coz I'll probably have given it up by the end of the week.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

I've just been down to Shotley village stores for a copy of the Mail on Sunday. It's not a paper I usually read - I prefer something a little more left wing, like the Fascist Times, but I was reliably informed that today's issue featured a piece on King Nicholas' newly published book, and frankly I needed a good review to boost the resale value on Ebay for after I've read it.

So I headed down to the local shop, swallowed my pride, and handed over my £1.30. Naturally I was a bit embarrassed about buying the Mail on Sunday, so I hid it inside a porn mag. I don't think anyone noticed.

Back home, I headed straight for the Review section, and... nothing. I thought I'd come to it when I reached the book section and saw the headline "Evil's Friendly Face", but it turned out to be a new biography of Chairman Mao, and wasn't about Nick at all. Honestly, this is just not good enough. I paid £1.30 in good faith. I didn't even get any cash inside my Millionaire's Lucky Wallet. And the article about 'Deep Throat' wasn't what I thought it was either.

I think I've been duped. Though I did quite enjoy the bit about Hillary Clinton being a lesbian.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

So like I said, Motivator will win, with Walk in the Park second, and Dubawi third. Don't bother reading that last post.
I made pear muffins yesterday. Just thought I'd share that. Which is more than I'll be doing with the muffins.

Anyhoo, today's Derby day, and I know how much people enjoy watching me make a fool of myself, so it's time for another attempt at high quality tipstering.

I actually think it's a very open Derby this year (he says, covering himself), but having drawn up a shortlist which included over half the field, I've finally narrowed it down to two...

Gypsy King Gypsy King, who I've backed at 7-2, and...

The Geezer The Geezer, who's carrying the Gardner millions at 14-1.

In theory The Geezer can't win as he finished second in the Dante, and the last 89 horses to attempt to win the Derby after being beaten in the Dante, have all failed. But I'm not letting that put me off. Though needless to say, I've backed him each way. I'm not that stupid.

Gypsy King on the other hand is joint favourite, and runs like an out of control toddler with a Ritalin deficiency, but he's one of the few horses who's certain to get the trip, and he should improve in leaps and bounds (literally), so he's got to be worth a flutter.

Kong is also interesting at 25-1. He'll like the ground, like the course, and stay the trip. Unfortunately he won't be good enough to win, but still. I might have been tempted to back him anyway, were it not for the fact that Lisa texted me this morning to say that she'd selected him for the race. Though I think her choice had less to do with form, and more to do with just liking the name.

Which is surprising, coz she's never liked monkeys.

Friday, June 03, 2005

I bought my cat some special eco-friendly tuna on Tuesday, which claims to have been "fished by pole and line" (presumably meaning caught on a rod, rather than by someone from Poland). It's the ultimate in environmentally responsible Skipjack tuna fish (or as the Americans call it, "chicken of the sea").

And will she eat it???

No she will not. So I've just had a tuna sandwich for lunch, and it's back to the dolphin-catching trawler boat for Chloe. Sometimes I don't know why I bother.

Talking of cats, I've just received word that Lorraine has stated her intention to catch up on my blog in the near future. So I'd just like to say that looking after Timmy last month was a constant joy, and I've never met a more lovable and well-behaved cat. I was also more than willing to go and look for him when he went missing, and it was Lisa who said she hoped he wouldn't come back.

I'm off now to delete a few blog posts from the May archive...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I'm not proud of it, but I've just sat and watched an entire edition of Look East. Which is not something I do very often, due to the obvious risk of catching Julie Reinger.

(The way I've just phrased that makes her sound like a disease. But hey, if the cap fits...)

It's a risk I'm not usually prepared to take, but today was different, thanks to the promise of a special appearance from our very own King Nicholas, who recently informed me that he plays the drums. It came as something of a surprise, as I'd previously thought the only drummers to come out of Norfolk were small, greasy, and made from turkey.

But hey, two out of three ain't bad.

Anyhoo, Nick did indeed appear on tonight's show, though not quite when I expected. I started the video rolling the moment Stewart White introduced an item with the words "Eighteen years ago Look East reported on a young couple from Norfolk, and their struggle to bring up a son with severe physical problems...", fully expecting the next line to be "That son is now King Nicholas the First". It turned out to be a bit of a false dawn.

But having sat through twenty minutes of Mr Smug & the Sour Faced Scarecrow...

Stewart White Amelia Reynolds

... (which really ought to be the title of my next novel)...

... Nick did indeed turn up with a feature filmed at Copeman Palace. Now, I'm not saying it was a slow news day, but they also had a brick expert on. And a hedge expert. And a man with a CBE for services to mining, who checks his barometer six times a day. So in that kind of company, Nick actually came across as quite normal. Especially once Julie Reinger took to the stage.

But it was another quality public appearance, although the bit where Nick spelled out my website address for the watching millions presumably got edited out at the last moment. I wish I hadn't bought his book now. I wonder if Amazon will let me cancel my order? I could've bought the new Hanson album instead.

Anyhoo, I'm off now to slag him off on the BBC Norfolk Messageboard under an assumed name.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Well I did indeed go to Asda at Brighton Marina yesterday afternoon, but it turned out to be a far more exciting trip than anticipated, when I unexpectedly met Peter Andre in the cereals aisle...


He was a bargain at £1.84. I wish I'd bought two now.

But anyhoo, today's the first of June, so having successfully managed to see Lisa every day during the month of May, I cut my losses and returned home this morning to wait by the phone for a call from the BBC.

After another 140 miles today, I'm now sick of the sight of Britain's motorways, and more than a little tired. I also haven't had a bath for five weeks, which is the longest I've gone since losing enough weight to be able to fit into one again three years ago. So forgive me if I cut this blog post a little short...