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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Brighton CollegeBlimey, I've just met Paxman and Dimbleby. And it's not even lunchtime yet. Honestly, I spend a week loitering around the Lib Dem conference without so much as a sniff of Andrew Neil, only to hit the double whammy of A-list political heavyweights within 100 yards of my flat on a Saturday morning. You couldn't make it up. Despite what the lack of photographic evidence may suggest.

But anyhoo, Lisa and I have spent the morning mingling with the cream of the British establishment by attending an open morning at Brighton College, the grand public school across the road from my one-bedroom hovel. They've had a sign up for the past two weeks saying 'Open Morning - All Welcome', so I naturally felt that included me, and persuaded Lisa to tag along to see what she'd missed out on at the local comprehensive. Of course, having queued at the entrance for two minutes, it soon became apparent that by "all", they meant rich people with a nanny, and weren't quite expecting unmarried couples with nothing but a lottery ticket and a lot of optimism. But having blagged our way past the front desk (Lisa inventing a child called Everard), and proudly attached our name badges, we were given our very own VIth former called Ryan, and embarked on the grand tour.

The tour itself featured a demonstration of a Van de Graaff generator, a student playing the saxophone, a look at their fully-featured dance studio, and a cage full of rats. We were also taken down a corridor lined with signed shirts of former pupils who have gone on to represent England at rugby and cricket. Naturally I hadn't heard of any of them.

After a chat with the head of P.E., who's installed Sky Sports in the classroom, we headed for the Grand Hall where we listened to the headmaster, Richard Cairns, recount some lame anecdotes about his time as an R.E. teacher, talk about compulsory Mandarin, and tell us how proud he is of the school's record on dyslexia. He was followed by the heads of each department, including the head of drama, who insisted he wasn't a loose cannon, whilst sharing the stage with four pupils wearing masks, holding bananas and speaking Italian. The show culminated with a film featuring the Sussex cricket captain who's just joined the teaching staff (presumably not the science department, but who knows), and a dance by four VIth formers dressed as mud.

After that we were supposed to meet Ryan again for the second half of the tour, but having loitered in the foyer with the free orange juice for a while, we somehow failed to spot him. But it mattered not, because as I stood there wondering about helping myself to a sticky bun, who should I spot following us out of the hall but David Dimbleby! I pointed him out to Lisa, who looked around aimlessly for a good minute saying "Where..?", before finally admitting she doesn't know who David Dimbleby is.

She does, however, know who Jeremy Paxman is. And as I stood six feet from the Dimbleby, wondering how embarrassed I'd feel if I tried to take a flash photo at close range, Paxman himself came strolling out of the hall, said a few words to his BBC colleague, then walked right up to me. And may I say, he's a lot more craggy than he looks on the telly. I was tempted to shake his hand, then remembered that we were already there under false pretences, and if I opened my mouth and revealed how common I was, we were likely to be thrown out. So I merely looked as though I was used to sharing floor space with celebrities, and let him pass.

I also managed to get up close and personal with Holly Colvin, the youngest person ever to play test cricket for England, who Lisa already hates for being good at everything. After that, there was just time for the headmaster to say hello to me, for me to thank him for his time, and for Lisa to say "Who was that?". At which point we made a quick getaway through the main gate. I expect Ryan's still looking for us as we speak.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Cumbersome SausagesMmm... sausages. Yes, I know it looks like a bird's nest on top of three severed fingers served with ice cream and chocolate sauce, but it's not. It is, in fact, what I had to eat last night. If only more restaurant websites had photos of all their dishes. It would make blog reports so much easier.

But anyhoo, Lisa had to see a hygienist yesterday. I don't have the highest standards in the world, but having lived in Brighton for three months now, I felt she was overdue for a thorough clean, so I packed her off to Hove in the afternoon for a scrub down. Apparently she needs to start flossing, and as luck would have it, her personal hygienist was able to sell her a pack of dental floss for only £3.50. Which we later found in Asda for £1.98.

But with Lisa all sparkly and clean (and £45 poorer), I decided to treat her to a meal out, partly in honour of her birthday (a month ago), partly in honour of our 28 month anniversary (today), but mainly to get her out of the flat in case her boss rang to ask why she hadn't gone back to work after the dentist.

We ended up at The Plaza, which acccording to their website "has been serving Brighton's more discerning over 30's for 15 years". But despite that, they agreed to let us in. Double BassMainly because they were empty and clearly needed the customers. I insisted on paying for us both, so naturally I ordered from the set menu for £6.95, while Lisa went with the most expensive item they do, before adding a side dish for good measure. And having tried a mouthful of it, I can confirm that her £17 sea bass with veg was indeed very nice. Although I have to say that, otherwise I'll choke on my bank statement.

From there we dropped in on Lisa's nephews, and discovered that Nephew Number Two, who's recently started nursery, apparently has a girl in his class called Minty-Madeline. Not Minty. And not Madeline. But Minty-Madeline. Either that's a traditional name in some culture I'm not familiar with, or the parents are fans of the Peanuts comic strip. Forget Peppermint Patty, here comes Minty Maddy. Either way, she has the name of a cartoon character, and that's no life for a child.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Oooh, I've found another photo of me on Flickr! And no more folded arms this time around - it's a veritable action shot. I think this could be a new hobby for me - attending public events and then looking for photos of myself on the internet. Next stop, the Brighton Breeze on Saturday. And it's only five minutes walk from my flat.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Legs of DeathWell I made it out of Essex alive, which is all the more surprising when you realise that members of my family have taken to travelling about with lethal deathtraps on their feet. Having seen the Zurich Insurance ad on TV a couple of months ago, I responded by increasing my home contents cover, while my brother, who's essentially just a thinner version of me, but with less sense and more money, rushed straight out and invested in some legs of death. As proved by this grainy low-resolution picture (a bit like The Blair Witch Project, only scarier). And as if leaping about a public park in Chelmsford like a cross between Heather Mills and a gazelle isn't enough, he was about to head a football in that picture.

What I don't have photographic evidence of, however, was my sister's attempt at wearing them. Mainly because it took four of us to hold her upright (when I say upright, I mean bent double, doing the splits), leaving no hands free to take a photo.

Needless to say, I didn't have a go. Obviously I wanted to, but I exceed the maximum weight allowance, and for safety reasons had to withdraw from the fun. I'm also the only one without life insurance.

Anyhoo, I had an enjoyable Sunday at my parents', recreating the story of our lives - my brother left home early, my sister soon afterwards, while I padded about in my slippers, ate everything in sight, and stayed much longer than expected. On Monday I ventured into Chelmsford, where I had an argument with a man at the petrol station about overflowing fuel (all my fault apparently - I didn't read their notice warning me that the pumps don't cut out, and you're liable to pump petrol all over the forecourt when you try to buy £20 of unleaded), after which I went to Maplins and had an argument with a man about a dodgy adaptor (also all my fault - apparently I shouldn't listen to people who claim to know what they're talking about).

All of that was enough to make me stay in on Monday afternoon, where I witnessed my Dad getting to grips with a new mobile phone. Having watched him struggling to compose a text message for half an hour, I consoled him by mentioning that I too found predictive text confusing when I first tried it. At which point my Mother jumped in to inform us that my 7-year-old niece mastered it in under two minutes. So it's back to telegrams for him now.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Last Sunday I drove to Gatwick and back just so I could spend the day with my Big Sis. Today I've driven to Chelmsford. Give it a year and I'll be on my way to Australia to see her. But anyhoo, Sis is spending 24 hours at my parents' Essex mansion before flying back to the Bible belt on Tuesday, so it was another early start this morning to get here for a bit of quality family time and some free food.

Unfortunately it's now 12:45pm and she's still in the shower. But hey, at least she's here. My brother and sister-in-law went out at 10am and haven't come back yet. So naturally I'm passing the time by looking at photos of myself on the internet.

Having wasted 35p on a copy of yesterday's Brighton Argus, in the forlorn hope of finding photos of myself looking bored at the Bicycle Ballet, I've turned to Google instead and hit paydirt. Someone's posted a photo of me on Flickr. Well ok, it's not just me, but I am fairly central, so I assume I was the intended target. I'm the dot in the brown jacket looking enigmatically into the distance with his arms folded. Obviously you'll have to take my word for that, because if you click on 'different sizes' and view the original, all you see is a bald, fat bloke looking grumpy, and I'm sure that can't be me.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bicycle BalletWell, I may be putting the Phil into Philistine by admitting this, but I didn't quite get the bicycle ballet yesterday afternoon. I seemed to spend the entire half hour feeling that it must all mean something, but that somehow I couldn't quite work out what. To be honest, I was expecting wheelies, bunny-hops, and maybe a few Evel Knievel type stunts with flaming hoops and rows of double-decker buses. What I got was a lot of walking, pointing, and facial expressions set to music.

Eh?It started well, with a group of fifty or so cyclists dressed in black and wearing comedy scarves, all cycling down Madeira Drive and coughing in unison, which I took to be a bold statement on traffic pollution. Unfortunately, that was about as much as I could follow. Ten minutes later they rode back laughing. And ten minutes after that, did it again whilst looking over their shoulders. That was the sum of their contribution. They were followed by a man on foot, holding a broken bicycle lock above his head. Like I say, I'm sure it all meant something, I just can't be sure what. If I'd been watching it on TV, I'd have put on the subtitles.

Sarah Alexander & Janine FletcherPictured on the left here are Sarah Alexander (on foot) and Janine Fletcher (on another planet), two of the 'Bicycle Ballet Core Performers'. According to the Bicycle Ballet website, Sarah trained at the Rambert Dance School, making her well qualified to wheel a bike along the seafront for half an hour, while Janine is a 'performer, choreographer and live artist' whose "solo work is a cross-disciplined approach to performance and is characterised by an incessant need to entertain". Sadly, judging on the evidence of yesterday afternoon, Janine's need has not yet been met. Although I did like her hairstyle.

Alex BeechAs for Alex Beech, a graduate of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, she rolled around in the road for a bit, while her colleague lay there with her legs apart, presumably to give Janine somewhere to park her bike. It was all very confusing. Ironically though, despite standing on the kerb for half an hour in a state of constant bemusement, wondering what the heck was going on, I actually quite enjoyed it. I'm well cultured, me.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I missed a golden opportunity on Sunday. Big Sis had asked me to show her the sights of Brighton, so naturally I took her to Pizza Express. But little did I know that while we were down at the marina, happily watching Lisa getting sunburnt over a Quattro Formaggi, the finals of the UK Air Guitar Championships were taking place just five minutes walk from my flat.

I know I claim that everything takes place "five minutes walk from my flat", but that's because... it does. And because I'm a fast walker. So I'm naturally gutted to have missed out on attending a musical event of this calibre, and meeting its host, Disastronaut. Not to mention the chance of entering Lisa into the competition. Although it clearly carries an element of risk - last year's winner is already dead.

Bicycle BalletFortunately though, Madeira Drive (home of the crazy golf, air guitarists, and the UK's first permanent beach sports venue) plays host to another cultural event today - a Bicycle Ballet. And what's more, it's just five minutes walk from my flat. In the words of Lisa, "There are two things which put me off - the bicycles and the ballet", but personally I'm not so easily deterred. Mainly because it's free. So I'll be down there this afternoon with a tutu in one hand and a puncture repair kit in the other.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I know I'm not going to win any friends by repeatedly claiming to have had celebrity encounters without once providing photographic proof, but...

I was walking along the seafront this morning, passing the Hilton Metropole, and watching conference delegates eating liberal amounts of breakfast at 'Bar 106', when who should I see rushing towards me but writer, journalist, and legendary out-er of Peter Mandelson, Matthew Parris. Not that I want to give the impression that everyone at this conference is gay. I thought for a moment he was rushing up to introduce himself, but actually I think he was late for a TV appearance. He hadn't even managed to get his tie on properly, and looked slightly flustered.

Parris in the AutumnAs it happens, I did have my camera with me, but it's strange how you don't think to reach for it when you're suddenly face to face with a celebrity author approaching at high speed. I was going to brush against him as he passed, so that I could say I'd touched the hem of his garment (and possibly received healing), but I knew he'd once been beaten up on Clapham Common, and I didn't want to be accused of a gay-bashing. So I just stared in a slightly intimidating manner, and walked on by.

But in a bizarre twist of fate, as of this afternoon, Mr Parris owes me a large debt of gratitude. I looked up his page on Wikipedia, and was slightly surprised to read that he's apparently just entered into a gay marriage with his partner of eleven years, the Star Wars actor Julian Glover. Which seemed a little odd, as Julian Glover's page says he's still married to Isla Blair. So I did a little research and found that Matthew is actually hitched to a 35-year-old Guardian journalist called Julian Glover, and not the 71-year-old actor of the same name.

I was tempted to leave it and see how long it takes for the error to get into print, but in the end my conscience got the better of me, so I've just edited the Wikipedia entry and corrected the mistake. That man owes me a drink.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Just because I've been beamed live into thirty million homes (potentially, dependent on the number of households tuned in to the Lib Dem Conference at 11:30 on a Monday morning. So in reality then, about six), doesn't mean I'm going to stop buying my clothes from charity shops. So there I was in the Marie Curie shop around the corner yesterday afternoon, when I spotted a nice pair of silver earrings in the window, which I decided to buy for Lisa, in that kind of thoughtful, romantic way one does when you see something for under a fiver.

I spent the afternoon cleaning them, and presented them to her last night. She was naturally touched by my spontaneous act of love and affection, and having asked where I got them, uttered those heart-melting little words I'd been waiting for...

"They're not going to give me AIDS are they?"

Obviously I was hoping for "I love you", but that one came a close second.

Golf. It's an Adventure.As for today, my parents came down to Brighton for the afternoon, presumably in the hope that they could get on TV too, so I took them down to the seafront and beat them at crazy golf. It was the least I could do. I was hoping to bump into Lembit Opik on the greens, but sadly it didn't happen. I did, however discover that in March 2007 I'll be living 5 minutes walk from "the UK's first permanent beach sports venue". Which is quite exciting. At the moment it's just a flat bit of beach where you can kick a ball around, but with the backing of Brighton & Hove City Council and the South East England Development Agency, in just six months time it will be transformed into a major sporting venue, boasting an international size beach soccer pitch, and six footvolley courts. Or, in other words, a flat bit of beach where you can kick a ball around. I can't wait.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Anyone who was watching BBC2 at 11:30am this morning, and wondering about the identity of the mysterious figure in the red union jack t-shirt, trying very hard to look nonchalant whilst wandering around behind Simon Hughes on Brighton seafront - well, wonder no more. It was me. And I have to say, the President of the Lib Dems is not as tall as he looks on TV.

There was definitely an an air of woolly-minded liberalism about town this morning, possibly because half the people I met on my walk along the seafront and back were carrying hippyish brown hessian bags (that's a sack to you and me) bearing the words 'Lib Dem Bag For Life'. Which I believe started out as a badge worn by Shirley Williams. Although I could be wrong about that. I also managed to get up close and personal with Dr Vincent Cable, who the Lib Dems are describing on their website as the "Shadow Chancellor". Which seems a little optimistic to me. But with a name like Cable, I knew he'd get on TV, so I loitered behind him until Sky worked out who he was and gave him an interview.

Anyhoo, having met on-off homosexual Simon Hughes, and just missed friend of the rent-boys Mark Oaten, I headed back towards the pier and spotted Michael Brown, former MP and cash-for-questions stalwart, who was given the sack (and I don't mean a hessian bag) for holidaying in Barbados with an underage boy. He's a Conservative, not a Lib Dem, but he clearly thought he'd fit in, so came along anyway.

As for yesterday, I successfully collected my Big Sis from Gatwick airport at 9am and drove her to Brighton, where she stood around in a towel for two hours, drank Ribena, talked about men, and knocked a glass of water over my drum machine. After that I forced her out of my flat, and escorted her to the marina, where she, Lisa and I visited Pizza Express and had a reunion with the camp waiter who served us on my birthday. We ate outside, allowing me to get hot, Lisa to get sunburnt, and Sis to sit there in a coat and complain every five minutes that it's too cold.

After that we headed to the beach for a paddle, and posed for a timer-photo of the three of us. Which would have come out better had Lisa not mistaken Sis's camera for a pebble, and looked in entirely the wrong direction. She'd be no good trying to get on TV.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Running 4 WomenHalf an hour before Big Sis's plane touches down, and we've hit a snag. The political correspondent of the BBC has just alerted me (direct from Brighton seafront) to the fact that Sir Menzies Campbell will be flirting with a bunch of women this morning five minutes walk from my flat, in a shameless attempt to drum up a bit of publicity for his conference tomorrow.

The problem is that I've promised to take my Sis to play crazy golf, and the Running 4 Women event (a mystery to me, since I'm more used to running from women) have set up the finish line by the 18th hole, where doddery old Ming will be eying up the talent and reminding everyone he was in the Olympics every five minutes.

Although on the plus side, having completely forgotten to go and wave at Tony Blair when he was here last week, this could be my chance to get on TV. All I need is a wig and a running vest.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

It's interesting the things you learn about yourself when you're getting dressed for the dentist. I had an appointment yesterday for two fillings, and upon choosing my outfit for this occasion, found that I only had two decent t-shirts which weren't in the wash. So I selected my red union jack shirt and put it on. Whereupon I realised that I'm so terrified of being mistaken for a member of the BNP by my Asian dentist, and being given unnecessary root canal surgery with no anaesthetic, that I actually went back and changed.

So I set off instead in my NaNoWriMo t-shirt, arrived at the surgery at 11:40am, and met my dentist, who greeted me with a disarmingly casual "Mr G!", and immediately asked what NaNoWriMo meant. He probably thought it was a racist slur. I'm definitely wearing a suit next time.

But dress code aside, I have the fastest dentist in the west, and found myself back outside on the street, armed with two new fillings and the details of his holiday in Morrocco, by 11:58am. Leaving me free to spend the afternoon sucking on a banana and complaining to Lisa that I can't feel my face.

It's Lego Star Wars II! Whatever that is.Fortunately I perked up in time to go and visit Lisa's nephews at 6pm, who were very excited about their imminent purchase of 'Lego Star Wars II'. Lisa immediately made a fool of herself by saying "What's that?", allowing me to tut, sigh, look at her scornfully, and successfully cover up the fact that I had no idea what it was either. I eventually deduced that it's a video game, and is apparently much better than 'Lego Star Wars I'.

So I chatted to Nephew Number One about that, while Lisa tried to explain to Nephew Number Two that having dropped his chocolate lollipop in the toilet, it's probably not a good idea to fish it out and eat it. Advice he failed to fully take on board, choosing instead to cry "I want my chocolate lollipop!" whilst trying to hook it out with a toilet duck. There's just no telling some people.

So that was yesterday. As for today, well I've had an entertaining morning listening to my neighbour trying to hold a conversation through his front door with a bailiff who wants him out by Monday afternoon for non-payment of rent. What the bailiff doesn't know of course is that he's also up in court for not paying his electricity bill, but I didn't like to interrupt with minor details, so I kept quiet and watched through the keyhole, before getting Lisa out of bed to join me ringside.

In addition to learning that my neighbour, despite not paying his rent or any of his bills, is holding down a full-time job at the Department for Work & Pensions, the highlight for me was when the bailiff asked if he had a dog in there. My neighbour immediately replied yes, the bailiff pointed out that he's not allowed dogs under the rules of his tenancy, whereupon my neighbour quickly changed his mind and announced that he didn't have a dog.

Cue loud barking.

But I'm sure it'll all work out fine, and he won't cause a scene. Although obviously I'm staying in on Monday afternoon.

Anyhoo, tomorrow's an exciting day as my Big Sis flies in from Dallas (or the Kill Devil Hills, Appalachian Mountains, Colonial Williamsburg, or any of the other made-up places she claims to have been in the past week), to visit my flat. We haven't seen each other since February, and have a lot to catch up on, so she's naturally keen to make the most of this opportunity and spend as much time with me as possible.

But I don't currently have a shower, so she's refusing to stay overnight.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I've had a reply from My Shotley! (And you thought I was joking when I said I'd e-mail them)...

"Hi Phil

I wondered when you’d notice! I do apologise for removing the link, which I was asked to do long ago, probably over a year. Someone had mentioned to the local policeman at the time that a local website was carrying some less than complimentary comments about a local shop (sorry can’t remember details). Knowing that I edited MyShotley he came and saw me, I found that the link to your site was the source of the displeasure. It was suggested that I stop linking to it!

But as I was a fan of your blog my reluctance to remove you for long meant that you remained in spirit, as a kind of reminder. Hadn’t since got round to reviewing the situation. So... consider yourself reinstated."

I've been the subject of a police report!! YES!!! This is how Nelson Mandela started. Give it twenty years and I'll have the Nobel Peace Prize.

Although if Shotley Gate Village Store were so unhappy with me mentioning that they don't sell skimmed milk, you'd think they might have e-mailed me before contacting the police. Or possibly rung the local dairy and changed their order. But hey, they're a local shop for local people, and I was spending a lot of my time in Brighton. If only I'd been lactose intolerant, none of this would have happened.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I always knew my views were likely to get me blacklisted one day. I just didn't expect it to be my views on Shotley Gate. For the first time in six months, I visited 'My Shotley' last night, the parish council website which I was asked to create/edit back in 2004 (which is the kind of offer you can't refuse. Except that I did), and it turns out they've removed their link to my Shotley Gate page.

However... they haven't removed the mention of it. It's still listed as "Phil Gardner's View of Shotley Gate", but they've slapped a "[link removed]" sign after it, as though I've violated some kind of moral decency code, and whilst they're forced to acknowledge my existence, it wouldn't be appropriate for them to link to me.

Despite moving to Brighton, my website still exists, and it's still 'Phil Gardner's view of Shotley Gate', so there's no reason not to link to it... unless they're uncomfortable with the views I express. But hey, isn't that the whole point of having views? That you say what you think, rather than what everyone else thinks? And wasn't it my Shotley Gate page which made them ask me to be their webmaster in the first place? Of course, that was before I started speaking out against the local NIMBYs, and saying that actually building a local shop might not be such a bad thing after all. Which is the kind of opinion you can be shot for in Suffolk.

Anyhoo, it's all very mysterious, so I think I'll e-mail them for clarification. I'm sure they'll be happy to explain. Personally I think it all changed when I slagged off Laurie Mayer. That man has powerful friends.

No snax, less fatz.In other news, I saw the film 'Saw' (I took the title as an instruction) last night, having opted to buy the DVD for £5 at Asda on Tuesday, rather than following Lisa's advice and spending £9.90 on a bottle of 'No Snax' instead. Admittedly 'No Snax' allows you to "spray away the little hunger", but at ten quid a bottle, I just know I'd develop a grand-a-week habit within a fortnight. So I went for the DVD instead. And I have to say it was superb. I'd recommend it to anyone with a strong stomach and a love of intestines. And as for the twist at the end, I think it even beats 'The Game' to the title of 'Phil's Phavourite Philm Phinale'. It was outstanding from start to finish.

Of course, having enjoyed two hours of movie mayhem, I then deeply depressed myself by going on the internet and discovering that it was written and directed by a couple of 26-year-old Australians, one of whom was in Neighbours in 1996, and who wrote this, his first movie script, just so that he could get an acting job. They're now both millionaires and still in their twenties. I think I might as well give up now.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

On September 12th 2003 I started writing Be Worth It, a play which takes place during a live radio phone-in (which may or may not provide answers to the characters' problems), and is essentially about aspiration, compromise, being true to yourself and achieving your goals. Which is, after all, what 'be worth it' means. The Jaffa Cakes are merely a sub-plot.

The following January I sent it to the Royal Court in London, and on 7th May 2004 they replied, describing it as "energetically written with a neat idea". Before telling me to get lost.

The question is, was the idea 'neat' enough for them to steal?

Exactly three years to the day since I started writing 'Be Worth It' (which in itself is spookier than an Yvette Fielding TV show), I went up to Lisa's flat yesterday evening and started opening her post while she was in the other room. Being a culture vulture like me, she'd naturally received the autumn programmes for half the local theatres, and in one I found details of a new play which is due to come to Brighton direct from the Royal Court in London.

93.2FMIt's called '93.2FM', and is a comedy set in a radio station. According to the blurb, "There's a storm brewing and the live phone-ins might not be able to provide all the answers... It's about achieving your goals and what may, or may not be compromised along the way", while 'What's On Stage' describe it as a play about "live radio, aspiration... and staying true to yourself", "taking the action across a live programme".

Admittedly, all the characters in '93.2FM' are black, but hey, I'm no stranger to the ghetto - I went shopping at Lidl yesterday. And I share my birthday with the lead singer of Boyz II Men. I'm totally street. So you wouldn't need to change the dialogue that much.

Interestingly, the Royal Court are the only theatre never to have returned my script, meaning that my play has been sitting around in Sloane Square since early 2004 marked "neat idea", and prime for exploitation. '93.2FM' was apparently "developed over the last two years" by the Royal Court, meaning they started work within six months of reading 'Be Worth It'.

And finally... '93.2FM' is on at the Royal Court until Saturday, after which it goes on tour, before coming to Brighton in October. And just where is it playing in Brighton?

The Gardner Arts Centre.

I rest my case.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The second edition of the Kemptown Rag arrived through my letterbox over the weekend, and the first reviews are in. Barbara Aston of Bristol Street writes:

"Dear Editor,
Well I don't know why you bothered."

Not a great start. She continues...

"It looks like you plan to produce this rubbish once a fortnight - well you can cut me from the distribution list - most of my neighbours felt the same too."

So that's one less street to deliver to. Councillor Warren Morgan, meanwhile, writes to politely point out that his name's not Warren Mitchell, and would they mind getting it right.

But that aside, the first edition was a triumph. They just can't find anyone to say so. Perhaps unsurprisingly however, they're appealing for writers in this issue, so if I'm ever at a loose end and fancy churning out some rubbish (or "rubish" as they spelt it in the first issue) I might apply.

In the meantime, I've walked into town this morning to pay in my cheque and start spending my fortune. First on the list was a new pair of trainers, as my current pair were an 18th birthday present from my brother, and I'd rather replace them before they come of age themselves. Although on the plus side, they're so old I think they might have come back into fashion. So I bought a pair of Karrimor trainers ('The Great British Mountain Company' - made in China), slashed from £59.99 in Sports World to just £17.99. Which I'm sure is a genuine reduction, and not a marketing ploy at all.

Interestingly though, on the inside of the box it gives important information on the 'last', which is the 3D form on which they model the shoe. It claims that the last used to fashion my footwear, is "based on the norm for British feet", before adding "Continental and American lasts are generally too narrow for British feet".

Is that true? Do we have wider feet than the rest of Europe? And is that because we spend longer queueing? I find it hard to believe that the weight of the average American doesn't spread out their feet a bit, but I could be wrong. I'll ask my Sis to investigate.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Blimey, they agreed to my demands! I'm rich! Rich, I tell you, rich beyond my wildest dreams!

But I'd better walk to the bank, coz it'll cost me more in petrol than I'm getting for this play. Maybe I should have asked for a cut of the interval ice cream sales...

Friday, September 08, 2006

It's always interesting the things you discover on the internet when you're looking for something else entirely. Earlier this week, Lisa informed me that Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski share the same birthday - a fact I refused to believe on account of the fact that she'd got it from Southern FM's Nicky Keig-Shevlin, and by definition, anything which comes out of that woman's mouth is complete rubbish.

So having verified that Tiger Tim's birthday is September 6th, I entered the words 'Greg Rusedski birthday' into Google yesterday, and the third result in the list happened to be, a website where you can apparently "calculate the compatiblity between you and Greg Rusedski". Which is the kind of offer it's hard to ignore. As it turned out, any relationship between myself and Greg would be shaky at best, particularly on an emotional level, so having reported this information to Lisa, she insisted I find her ideal celebrity match instead.

The site claims to work on biorhythms, which naturally I dismissed as rubbish. That is until I entered Lisa's birth date, and it proclaimed her to be 97% compatible with Ralph Fiennes. As mentioned on this blog before, Ralph Fiennes has long been held by Lisa to be her ideal man. Particularly since meeting me. So the fact that he makes her top 5 list of biorhythmically compatible celebrities, out of a choice of thousands, seemed spooky to say the least, and was almost enough to make her jump on the first plane to Hollywood with a ring and a bunch of flowers.

So with a newfound belief in the scientific study of biorhythms, I entered my birth date. And...

Missy RightMissy Elliott. Whatever happened to Joan Bakewell, that's what I'd like to know? Apparently me and the Elliott are 98% compatible. The other 2% being the fact that I hate hip-hop and find her annoying. But I'm sure that won't be a bar to our love.

Anyhoo, Lisa went to bed early last night, so being a bit of a culture vulture with a taste for the finer things in life, I snuck out to the late-night showing of Snakes on a Plane. It's a film I've wanted to see since reading this year-old blog post, partly because I like the idea of 'snakes on a plane' as a zen koan, and partly because it reminds me of that old episode of 'Only Fools and Horses' where Del pitches his idea for a movie called 'There's a Rhino Loose in the City'. It's a case of art imitating art.

Anyway, 'Snakes on a Plane' was indeed a classic of the genre. The genre being 'serious films which are laugh-out-loud funny'. I particularly liked the bit where they tossed the pet dog to the python in first class. It was top quality. So I returned at midnight, full of popcorn, and very tempted to wake Lisa with the words "I have HAD it with these motherf***ing snakes on this motherf***ing plane!"

But I didn't. Some things are best left unsaid.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Two items of breaking Brighton news:

1. Someone was murdered on Sunday night outside Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack, so all things considered, I'm glad I didn't take Lisa there for her birthday meal.

2. The star of this year's Christmas panto at the 200-year-old Theatre Royal, upon whose boards the likes of Sir John Gielgud, Sir Ian McKellen, and Dame Maggie Smith have trodden over the past couple of centuries, is...

... Chico from the X Factor. They obviously couldn't get Jade Goody this year.

But that aside, the summer is drawing to a close, so on Monday afternoon Lisa and I made the most of the September sunshine and went fishing on Brighton Pier.

Something FishyAnd this is what we caught. Well ok, Lisa caught it - I was too busy being robbed of victory by the commentator on the Dolphin Derby continually announcing that I was in the lead, thus getting me flustered, putting me off, and making me miss all the little holes with my set of balls. Allowing Lisa to overtake me right on the line and win a fish. It was a travesty. I spent two quid on that game without so much as a cuddly octopus to show for it.

For anyone unfamiliar with the age-old sport of Dolphin Derbying, here it is being haunted by a ghostly figure in black...

Photo © Paul Russell
Anyhoo, putting aside Lisa's fluke victory in a rigged sideshow, we had a nice time on the pier. I bought overpriced waffles and donuts, before wasting another two quid on the stack-the-boxes game, which frankly I deserved to win. Lisa meanwhile, wandered around with her fish, before putting 10p in a random machine and immediately winning 40p. Which she then used to buy me an ice cream in an act of sheer pity.

We also spent £2.50 at the 'Secrets in Your Signature' stall, which claimed to be able to read your personality from your autograph, using the power of computers. It basically involved signing your name on a bit of paper, which the girl with the vacant expression then placed on a scanner (which I'm not sure was even plugged in), whereupon a printout immediately appeared, revealing your precise character traits. Lisa, who is apparently domineering and brusque, also "enjoys gourmet food & luxurious surroundings". Which she claimed was accurate, before buying a greasy sausage & chips, and heading back to my flat. I think I'll ask for a refund.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I knew this would happen. You spend eight years living in Shotley Gate, casually handing out your scripts to passing farmers, and writing dialogue on cows, without so much as a sniff of interest (even from those who can read); you then move to Brighton and get this e-mail out of the blue...


We're hoping to perform "Ledgers" at The Constable Hall, Gandish Road, East Bergholt on 23rd, 24th, 25th November 2006, hence this email to request costs of performing rights for those dates and printed copies of the script.

Hope to hear from you soon.

David Mitchell (East Bergholt Dramatic Society)"

For those unfamiliar with Constable's Haywain, East Bergholt is about eight miles south of Ipswich, and conveniently situated close to the playwriting capital of East Anglia, Shotley Gate. Unfortunately it's 120 miles from Brighton. But hey, the last time Ledgers was performed it was at a school in Chicago, so we're getting closer.

Anyhoo, they're already listing it under 'Future Plays' on their website, so they clearly haven't received my list of fees yet. When they do, they won't be able to afford a website.

But most significant of all is the fact that the recently-resigned shadow Minister for the Environment, Tim Yeo, lives in East Bergholt, and as MP for the area, really ought to support the community by attending evenings of culture by formerly local playwrights. Although I hope he comes on the 23rd, coz it'll probably close on the opening night. The point is, however, that if I play my cards right, this could be my way in to meeting Boris Johnson. And that, I think you'll find, is worth far more than the forty-foot banners with my picture on, and the plate of Cornish Pasties, which form an integral part of my fee package.

Anyhoo, I've got to dash. We did the Test the Nation IQ Quiz last night, and whilst I've been banned from revealing Lisa's exact score here, suffice it to say that she's now technically special needs, and can't be allowed out on her own. So I need to go and book a minibus to take her to work on Monday.

Friday, September 01, 2006

O Jacket, Where Art Thou?This is me on the Isles of Scilly in August. If it looks like my hairline's making an unexpected comeback, that's because it's August 2003, seven months before I met Lisa, and eight months before my hair turned grey. I'd just bought that jacket, unique amongst my clothing purchases over the last few years, in that I bought it new, rather than generously donating money to a worthwhile charity in return for someone else's cast-offs.

No Jacket RequiredThis is me wearing that same jacket whilst adrift in the Yucatan Channel (which sounds like something I'd watch on Freeview) in February 2006. Over the past three years, that jacket's travelled with me across Britain, through America, and down to Mexico and back, and never suffered so much as a loose thread.

Of course, that was before I lent it to a gay primary school teacher with a drink problem. Since walking off with my lovely jacket two weeks ago, Lisa's friend 'L' has informed her that he was so drunk, he can't actually remember borrowing it. Much as he can't remember the name or address of the one-night-stand at whose house he left it. Fortunately he's promised to reimburse me for my loss, but being a senior school teacher on thirty grand a year, he apparently "has no money", so hasn't actually managed it yet.

But on the bright side, there's a lot more room in my wardrobe now, and the bracing sea air was quite invigorating as I walked along the pier in a t-shirt yesterday afternoon.

Anyhoo, it's two months today since I moved to Brighton, the cumulative effect of which has built up (as cumulative effects often do) and hit me harder than Geoffrey Boycott with a new girlfriend. Resulting in a week of introspection, melancholy, and eating crisps in my pyjamas. Admittedly they're not on the South Beach Diet, but then technically neither am I. Which is probably why I've put back on five of the eleven pounds I'd lost since July. So frankly my jacket wouldn't fit me any more anyway. I don't know what I'm complaining about.