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Friday, August 25, 2006

And all because the lady loves milk tray. Without the milk.I presented Lisa with a breakfast tray this morning, consisting of carefully arranged toast with candle, expensive birthday card, and the world's smallest box of chocolates, all in the hope of distracting her from the fact that I haven't yet bought her a present. It seemed to go down quite well. Apart from the crusts, which she never eats.

All I need to do now is buy a cake ready for her triumphant return from work. As it happens, I live within walking distance of ChoccyWoccyDoodah, the shop which made a cake in the shape of Jordan's breasts for her wedding to Peter Andre. They do "a funky chocolate cake, great for birthdays and tight budgets". It starts at £25. So it's straight down to Asda then.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's Lisa's birthday tomorrow, and I still haven't got her a present. It's not that I haven't thought about it, it's just that I've had a lot of important work to do. Mainly involving a high-level international project called Babala, which is Czech for 'free game you can download and use to procrastinate when you should be out gift-shopping'. I may be empty-handed come birthday morning, but I'm already up to level 39, so three more and I get to keep Mark King.

Personally I blame Lisa's mother. If she hadn't got over-excited at the horse racing thirty-seven years ago, and given birth two months early, Lisa wouldn't have been born on a bank holiday weekend, and I'd be able to book a hotel for her birthday. But no. Despite trawling for two hours yesterday morning, the best I could come up with was £4 off a ticket to Brighton Sea Life Centre. Which right now looks tempting.

Then of course there's Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack, as featured on Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. I peered through the window of their new premises on Tuesday (it's down an alley next to Brighton Town Hall), and decided it would be the perfect place for a birthday meal. Unfortunately, having been condemned by the country's leading chef on national television, Momma Cherri's is naturally booked up solid for the next eight weekends in a row. There's clearly no such thing as bad publicity.

I stole this photo.So instead I resorted to roaming the Undercliff Walk in search of inspiration. It was closed in 2001 due to large chunks of cliff dropping off and landing on passers-by, but after tireless work by men with big hands (which apparently won an award from the Institute of Civil Engineers), the cliff has been declared safe again, and the walkway reopened in honour of my arrival in Brighton. According to, fossils of very old hippos have been found there, so it seemed like the perfect place to think of Lisa, but despite walking up and down for an hour, the only flash of inspiration to hove into view was the sight of the drive-thru McDonalds at the Marina. I think I'll buy her a double cheeseburger and leave it at that.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I realise there's nothing more dull than other people's dreams, but last night I dreamt I was in a helicopter crash with the Queen and six guide dogs for the blind. Explain that.

Hairy HomerAnyhoo, I lead a rich and interesting life, so yesterday I removed all the hair from Lisa's hairbrush, and made a wig for my bendy Homer. Time well spent I think.

After that, Lisa's gay friend 'L' came round with three bottles of wine, dropped tobacco on my carpet, rummaged through my CD collection, challenged me to a game of darts, lost, then got drunk, used the phrase "boring c**t", and walked off with my jacket.

To be honest, I've had better days.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Balconniere. It's French for 'Plastic Trough'Well I may live in a flat with only two windows, but that's not going to stop me getting into horticulture. And it's all thanks to Royal Mail. If they hadn't abused the power of their mail-redirection service by selling my new address to Homebase, I'd never have received a 20%-off 'Welcome to Brighton' voucher for use at my local store, and ended up filling a trolley with flowers. Not that I'm giving in to the pressure of living in the heart of the gay community. I just like botany.

Anyhoo, those may look like windowboxes, but let me assure you they're not. According to the manufacturers (and they should know), they're actually Self-Watering Balconnieres. Oh yes. And they're made of the finest terracotta. Well, terracotta-coloured plastic. In addition to being self-watering, they're also apparently frost-resistant, so when I forget to water them for three months and then leave them out all winter, my plants are guaranteed to survive. Unless I knock them onto the basement flats below. Which I just know I'm going to do.

As for the pipe on the left, my Dad fitted that. I think his plumb-line was more of a prune-line, but obviously I'm very grateful.

Anyhoo, the more important news is that my health is now officially taken care of. Yesterday I had my inaugural tooth inspection at a new dentist. He spent about one minute looking in my mouth, and two minutes asking me about Lisa, then having established that he's desperate to meet her (the fool), and made me sign something I wasn't allowed to read, I was handed my x-rays and shoved out the door. I've got to go back in September for two fillings, which was a bit of a shock as I visit my dentist regularly. Exactly once every three years.

With the taste of mouthwash still ringing in my ears (?), I then successfully managed to register with a GP. Which in any other town would be a formality. Unfortunately Brighton is so chock-a-block with hypochondriacs that the first four surgeries I applied to refused to have me on the grounds that they're full. At least that's what they told me. But fortunately I've now found one with more space (or lower standards), and have been taken on by the Ardingly Court Surgery. Here's an artist's impression...

Ardingly Court Surgery
... in real life it's more colourful. But only slightly. And what's more they have a Test-Your-Own-Blood-Pressure machine in the waiting room, which is very exciting. I haven't had so much fun since I got a pregnancy testing kit from the pound shop. Anyhoo, the good news is that my blood pressure is apparently 'optimal'. Well it is in my right arm. God knows what it is in my left. To be honest I'm just glad I tested it after my dentist's appointment and not before.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It's been a difficult week, and I haven't felt like blogging, possibly due to the lack of carbohydrates in my diet, but to summarise the key moments of the past few days...

Monday: Lisa's mother visited my flat for the first time, saw a photo of her own grandson, and said "Oh, I've always wondered what your niece looks like". I think it might be time to consider the Springfield Retirement Castle.

Tuesday: With the Barbara Windsor behemoth now a permanent fixture on the marina roundabout, I decided to walk to Asda instead. Which meant passing the naturist beach. Where I saw a woman who looked like she'd come straight from Glastonbury, striding onto the beach with a small child aged about eight, and immediately taking both their clothes off. I didn't know whether to applaud her liberal approach to parenting, or call the police.

Wednesday: I roasted some chickpeas. I won't be doing it again.

Thursday: I considered buying some 'Organic Viagra' from the greengrocer's down the road. Obviously I don't need it at all (just thought I'd make that clear), but I couldn't help but be intrigued by a box full of what looked like shrivelled up brown bananas, with a sign which simply said "Organic Viagra - 6 for £1". I'm sure you can't get the real thing for that kind of money. After extensive research, I've decided it was probably Safed Musli, which sounds like a suicide bomber, but is in fact a plant from India.

Talking of which, am I the only one who felt slightly puzzled at Heathrow Airport's rule that you can only take baby milk onto the plane if you're willing to drink some in front of the security people? It strikes me that anyone willing to commit mass murder by blowing themselves up at thirty thousand feet, is probably going to be willing to drink a bit of chemical cocktail. Get them to shake it, that's what I say. Anyone left standing clearly has SMA Gold.

Friday: I played Pirates with Lisa's three nephews, during which Nephew Number Two told me that his yellow blanket is soft, cuddly, and "just like a dog". By which he means it has fleas.

Today: I've attempted to support my local community by attending a jumble sale at the church around the corner. I may have got five Alan Partridge and Frazier videos for a pound, but when you find yourself being constantly elbowed in the ribs by hordes of pensioners trying to get to the cake stall, you do begin to wonder if it's worth it. I was more interested in the top-of-the-range sound system they had in the pulpit, but apparently it wasn't for sale. I should've nicked it and asked God to forgive me.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

According to Monday's Brighton Argus, Barbara Windsor really was at the Pride march on Saturday. So it's just possible that when I stood there pointing, laughing, and criticising the accuracy of that lookalike, it was actually her. I really should stop insulting celebrities in public.

Anyhoo, Zoe Ball was also there apparently, so at least that clears up the identity of the person in my last photo. Oh, and the paper also reports a quote from Karen Gill, star of ITV's one-off documentary 'Flash Families', who attended with "her twins Ocean and Unity, four, and daughter Destiny, six". 'Susan' and 'John' have clearly gone out of fashion.

As for the giant sculpture of Babs topless, well that's now been installed on the roundabout outside Asda. Which explains why I nearly crashed my car yesterday morning. You don't expect to swing around a corner and come face to face with a six foot tit. Unless you live with Chris Evans.

But anyhoo, when I'm not mixed up in the world of celebrity, I'm busy snatching food from the mouths of terminally ill AIDS patients. I visited the Sussex Beacon charity shop on Monday, and noticed a stack of ten 'Will & Grace' DVDs in the window, with a sticker on top saying "£15 the set". Being a fan of camp American comedy (and feeling totally secure in that) I naturally snapped them up, but as I paid, the woman on the till said "There were three lots of these DVDs, did you see them all?". I went back and looked, but there weren't any, so she muttered that they must have been sold, and I happily left with my DVDs...

... at which point I looked inside the bag and found that three of my ten DVDs had stickers saying "£15 the set". Meaning that it was supposed to be three separate sets costing £45, and not the ten-for-£15 bargain I thought it was. I was right outside the shop at this point, and could have gone back in, admitted my mistake, and returned six of the DVDs. And to be fair, I did consider it. For about a second. After which I realised that at £45, I'd never have bought any DVDs at all, meaning the AIDS patients would be £15 worse off, and therefore more likely to die a slow lingering death. So I owed it to them to nip straight into Somerfield instead.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Brighton Pride 2006Well I'm not the only gay in Kemp Town Village, come to think of it I'm not a gay at all, but that didn't stop me enjoying Brighton Pride yesterday. Although judging by this photo, I was slightly overdressed. To be honest, I was only trying to take a picture of the Pav Tav, home of the 9 fish fingers in a bap, to prove that it does exist two years after first mentioning it. The mincing men in pants just happened to be passing.

Twin PeaksAnyhoo, the theme of this year's Pride was 'Carry On', hence this giant sculpture of Barbara Windsor, complete with professional lookalike (she's the one in blue) who frankly looked more like Pat Butcher than Peggy Mitchell. I also saw a Kenneth Williams, a Hattie Jacques, and the entire last scene from 'Carry On Up the Khyber' being acted out on the back of a Tesco lorry. It was quite entertaining.

The actual parade left Madeira Drive at 11am, which is a bit of a shame, as Lisa and I didn't get there until ten past. But it meant we were able to run alongside the Gay Camping & Caravan Club, overtake the Southern FM travel reporter dressed as a cowgirl, mingle with a couple of Romans from 'Carry on Cleo', and try to get interviewed by the BBC. Naturally we failed, but for a while we were technically part of the parade. And we were only trying to cross the road.

Carry On Using CondomsHaving made it as far as the pier, seen a couple of blokes in bondage gear, and jumped over some vomit, we cut inland towards the Royal Pavilion and took a position in North Street to view the parade in its entirety. There was a lot of Carry On style wit on display, with numerous references to camping, cruising, and taking it up the Khyber. Amnesty International's float went with "Carry On Loving", the Terence Higgins Trust had "Carry On Using Condoms",Carry On Recycling Bad Puns while Brighton and Hove City Council won the prize for most unimaginative entry by submitting a dustcart bearing the legend "Carry On Recycling". Honestly, some people should be shot for lacking a sense of humour.

In addition to that, we met the first, second and third in Mr Gay Brighton 2006 (frankly the guy in third place was robbed), and the winners of Drag Idol 2006, 'Mercedes Bends & The Benders'. They seemed like nice boys. Which is more than can be said for the bloke who walked back and forth along North Street sticking two fingers up at the floats and complaining about "the faggots". Not meaty enough for him, I expect.

One person we didn't spot however was our fellow pub quiz regular 'L', who despite being a yearly fixture at Brighton Pride, Back Seat Driverdidn't seem to be marching yesterday, and wasn't answering his mobile.

I thought this was him for a moment, but sadly no. I do know he was attending a champagne breakfast in the morning though, to celebrate this year's event, so he's probably still lying in a kitchen somewhere surrounded by empty bottles of Moet. There's always next year.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

With much excitement, I had the first ever edition of this shoved through my letterbox yesterday afternoon...

Like a Kemp Town Rag to a Bull
Kemp Town is the area of Brighton I call home, and it now has its own free magazine, which informs me that my neighbourhood was built by Thomas Kemp in an unspecified year for the simple reason that the houses in Brighton weren't grand enough for the elite of the time. Of course that was before they converted each house into sixteen flats and let the drug addicts move in, but even so, I feel quite special.

Page 2 of The Kemp Town Rag reproduces an article from Viz circa 1990 for no apparent reason, while page 5 introduces us to 'Queer Corner'. Which then runs for 8 pages. Of a 16 page magazine. But by far my favourite section has to be the Lonely Hearts page. I've read it and re-read it, and I still can't decide if it's meant to be a joke. But one of them gives out his mobile number, so maybe not. Anyhoo, aside from the "small attractive lesbian" who's looking for a long-term relationship, but specifies "must own flat/house with garden, preferably near the Royal County Hospital" (so less a lesbian, more a nurse looking for digs), the highlight for me is Dan, who starts by saying he'd like a Chinese female, and ends with the words "Any slanty eyed nationality considered". Are you allowed to say things like that?

Talking of Kemp Town residents, I feel I should respond to the lovely Marge from France, who's desperate to know Jimmy Somerville's address. Presumably because she's fed up with Homer. Unfortunately Marge, all I know is that he lives in Crescent Place. I don't know which number. And if I did, I wouldn't give it out for fear that people will write to him and mention me as their source. I don't want to get on the wrong side of the Somerville. He's tougher than he looks.

Carry On PrideBut that said, I'll probably bump into the man this morning, because today is Brighton Pride 2006. Or 'Gaytime' as Lisa's Mum likes to call it. I was supposed to be going round to see Lisa's uncle this morning and do some odd jobs, but he mysteriously cancelled on Thursday giving the excuse that there's cricket on the telly. I suspect the real reason is that he's leading a double life and wants to get out there in his leather hotpants and join the march, but I didn't like to say anything. Anyway, he's almost 80, so he wouldn't have heard me.

So instead of clearing out a pensioner's shed, Lisa and I are off to join the 120,000 people lining the streets to watch Brighton's gay community living it large. I don't like crowds, so I'm hoping it won't be busy.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Wojtek KozakObviously I did go back for the Wojtek Kozak painting. It's actually of St Malo in France, where according to his website, Woj spends the summer months, presumably popping over to the UK every now and then to donate his work to charity shops. It's very nice, but has the obvious drawback of not being worth a thousand pounds. I think I'll put it next to the leatherette presentation shot of my sister.

Anyhoo, I'm under strict instructions here to mention that Lisa beat me at both darts and Fluxx last night. Although her victory at darts involved me having to hit all the numbers plus the bullseye, while she only had to go from 8 to 20. And that was after insisting that women get to stand closer to the board. Anyway, she may have won the game (and the accompanying £1 wager), but more than anything else it was a victory for my decision to put up a bit of hardboard behind the dartboard. I'm not saying Lisa's inaccurate, but by the time you've watched the 20th dart bounce off the wall and stab the carpet, you do start to feel glad you didn't agree to your brother's request to fit laminate flooring.

And as for Fluxx, I'm sure she cheated.

Not that we wasted another evening in pointless activities. We also carried out a raft of psychological tests, mainly (well, solely) because of Big Brother's announcement that Aisleyne is the most Machiavellian housemate. Which caused much consternation, due to the fact that none of them could pronounce it, let alone knew what it meant. I duly informed Lisa that she's more Machiavellian than me, and five minutes later we were online, betting a pound on the Machiavellian Test.

As it turned out, I scored 56 to Lisa's 54, losing me yet more money, and leading to an argument about statement number 16: "It is possible to be good in all respects". I claimed that it is, and put myself forward as an obvious example, leading Lisa to argue vehemently that it's not, and point out that I always want people to lose on 'Deal Or No Deal', and only ever watched Cilla's 'Moment of Truth' to see the look on the children's faces when their parents failed to win them a Playstation.

To be honest, she has a point. The Machiavellian so-and-so.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Well I don't want to make a mountain out of a chicken mole hill, but it was actually very nice. I must admit I did feel slightly dubious adding two tablespoons of cocoa powder to the tinned tomatoes, and Lisa couldn't have been more reluctant to try some if I'd cooked up an actual mole, but ultimately it was her loss, because despite looking like a few bits of stewing steak in a chocolate fondue, it was quite tasty, and went very well with the mashed cauliflower. Which Lisa also refused to eat.

On the subject of cauliflower, I'm rapidly going off the idea of supporting local traders. I'd already paid £4 at my local hardware store for a bottle of Brasso which I subsequently found for £1.34 at Asda, but yesterday I popped around the corner to my local greengrocer for a cauliflower. They're 69p each at Asda (which is about 69p too much for someone like Lisa), but my local greengrocer has no qualms about selling them for £1.20. And they're smaller too. It's daylight robbery, but they also sell sugar-free peanut butter, so I didn't like to complain.

One local trader I can rely on however, is the Marie Curie charity shop 100 yards from my front door. Having already bought valuable artwork there before, I dropped by yesterday afternoon and found this pair of dusty old oil paintings...

Haydn Cornner
Naturally I'd never have bought them in a million years, but it's funny how art seems more attractive when you know it could be worth something. Having popped home and looked up the artist on the internet, I found them to be works by Haydn Cornner, who sounds like a yoghurt dessert, but is in fact a surrealist from Hastings. The link there is to the Portal Gallery in London, where he exhibits, and the price for a painting the same size as these is £1,500. So I'm sitting on three grand's worth of art here. Probably. So naturally I ran straight back down the road and bought them for £3.49 each, and they're currently on my wall. If not on Ebay.

Returning to the Marie Curie art emporium, I also found an original watercolour by Wojtek Kozak, a Polish artist now working in Canada (possibly as a plumber) whose illustrations apparently "convey a spectrum ranging from the human condition on the very edge of total collapse, where the niceties of social relations never get a chance to reinforce anyone's self identity, to a sensibility that sees a touch of whimsy in all humanity". Although the picture I found is just a building in the country.

It was quite pretty, but at £4.99 quite pricey too, and according to his website, old Wojtek will paint you a picture for $75, so I hesitate to buy it. I prefer my art to be worth thousands. But hey, it's all for charity, so I might go back this afternoon.

In other news, Lisa and I wasted spent the whole of yesterday evening playing Fluxx, possibly the finest game ever to fit into the palm of your hand. Unless you own a Nintendo DS. We started off playing best of three, which soon became best of five, and then best of seven. By the time I was leading 6-0, Lisa suggested we play one more game to cancel out the last six and officially crown the champion of champions. When I won that, she insisted we play again on the grounds that it was only just gone midnight, and she'd got the hang of it now.

So anyway, 8-0. Today we're playing for money.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Actually, it's not so bad being on a diet. I was flicking through my South Beach Diet Cookbook yesterday afternoon, and came across a recipe for 'Chicken Mole'. It's chicken with the clean, fresh taste of mole. But what really intrigued me was the description underneath the title, which states...

"This delicious, spicy chicken will be perfect for you chocolate lovers out there."

Eh? Personally I prefer to save the chocolate for dessert, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. So I've been down to Asda for chicken breasts, onions and cocoa powder, and I'll be cooking up a mole this afternoon. It'll give me something to do while Lisa's polishing off my birthday cake.