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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It's always nice to stagger out of bed at five to seven (Lisa let me have a lie in this morning), turn on GMTV, and hear Andrew Castle say "Rachel Harrison is outside the hospital judged to be the worst in Britain", before crossing to their reporter standing 200 yards from my front door.

That's the bad news. The good news is that the report they're talking about only looked at healthcare services for children, so it doesn't affect me. The fact that my local NHS trust is in the bottom 10% nationally, and consists of a couple of nurses, some Calpol and half a bottle of Tixylix, is neither here nor there. Although Lisa's nephew turns eight on Friday, so we'd better hope we don't drop him when we give him the bumps.

But anyhoo, here are the latest photos of me and Lisa...


That's me on the left. I've grown my hair a bit.

Well ok, it's not. It's actually Paul Walker from 'The Fast and the Furious', but according to the celebrity face recognition software at, he and I are like two peas in a pod. Although I think his ears are bigger.

As for Lisa, she's apparently the spitting image of Tata Young, a Thai popstar who appears to be named after a potato. Funnily enough I can see the likeness there. I think it's the red devil horns which do it.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I do enjoy the little chats I have with Lisa before the sun comes up. Lying in bed this morning, I successfully managed to convince her that Sarah Kennedy (of Radio 2 fame) is the niece of JFK, and that Bernard Cribbins sang 'Right Said Fred' in 'The Railway Children'.

That'll teach her to wake me up at 6am.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Liberate LuluIf there's one thing I like to do in life, weather permitting, it's to send off a job application on a Saturday morning, and then take a walk along the seafront twenty-four hours later and find my future place of work being barricaded by militant animal rights protesters. It's what they call job satisfaction. Today's demo consisted of a few people with long hair and even longer banners campaigning to 'LIBERATE LULU'. Apparently she's been kidnapped by a group of music-loving dolphins who are fed up with hearing 'Shout'.

Well ok, that's not strictly true. Lulu is actually a 26-stone Green Turtle who's been in captivity since the end of World War II (making her the first female prisoner of war), having been brought to Britain as a baby to star in a soap commercial. I'm not making this up. Although possibly the BBC are. Anyhoo, Brighton Animal Action, who are just back from a 'Save the Pigeons' demo in Trafalgar Square (seriously), feel that despite being cuddled by students, and doing all she can to help rescue her Greek cousins, Lulu's not native to these shores, and should therefore go back to where she came from. Unfortunately she came from a small tank at Blackpool Tower, so that's not going to help. I've spent a week in Blackpool, and I'm telling you now, it's no life for an animal.

But that's not going to stop Brighton Animal Action. They're committed activists hell-bent on fighting for justice for all God's creatures, who will stop at nothing to see Lulu liberated. Although after half an hour it started raining, so they went home.

Anyhoo, that wasn't actually my main reason for going out today. What I really went to see was this...

Word had reached me (via Lisa's sister, who was finding it hard to stop laughing) that our good buddy Steve, who's currently squatting in Lisa's bedroom, but is moving to Margate in March, is spending the intervening weeks in the window of Oxfam. Apparently he only popped in to buy a book, but having agreed to put on a red nose and say cheese in the name of charity, he unexpectedly found himself on public display.

I won't reveal which one he is, but suffice it to say, the only one in less of a Comic Relief mood is top row, second from the left.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I've been staring at the computer screen for so long I'm now seeing starfish, but the good news is I've completed my application for the job at Brighton Sea Life Centre. Its success hinges largely on my ability to convince them that this...

The Freshwater Friends
... demonstrates a proven ability to work with underwater creatures. I may not have drawn the pictures, but I was in charge of writing the episode where they met The Poddington Peas. It was like the summit between Reagan and Gorbachev, but with more fish. Of course that was back in the days when I worked for Jim Henson. He was dead at the time, so wasn't aware of it, but I'm sure he'd have approved. I still have my notes for the episode featuring a mind-altering chemical spillage in Poddle Pond. Strange how it never got made.

Personally I thought this idea (from April 1992) was a goer too...

Suck on a Fisherman's Friend
... but apparently not. I don't think I'd fully thought through the implications of underwater travel for vegetables. My handwriting hasn't improved in the last fifteen years either, but fortunately for my chances of employment, my CV is typed.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ok, now this is getting slightly ridiculous. On Monday we had 'Richard Thomas: The Transcript'. Today I can go one better. The Old Bakery is officially old news, so this time I give you...

Richard Thomas: The MP3

The question is, why are these people not put off by the words "Hi, this is Phil, please leave a message after the tone"?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I'm not racist (I voted for Shilpa on Big Brother) but I do wish my local Somerfield would employ people who speak English. I was forced to have a two minute argument at the checkout yesterday, whilst a growing queue of irate customers stared at me as though it was my fault, because the woman on the till thought that 'excludes' means the same as 'includes'. Actually, now I come to think about it, maybe she wasn't so much foreign as thick.

I had a voucher for 50p off Somerfield's Healthy Choice range, which stated "Excludes Fresh Milk, Chicken Fillets..." and a few other things I wasn't buying. That was enough to prompt the lady in question to inform me (patronisingly, and in broken English) that turkey isn't the same as chicken, and therefore the turkey steaks I was buying aren't covered. I pointed out (even more patronisingly, and in the Queen's English) that I know turkey isn't the same as chicken, and that's why they are covered, which led to a pointless debate in which I swore blind that 'excludes' means you can't use it against those items, she refused to believe me, insisted it must be used against those items, and I thought about hitting her.

In the end she offered to prove it to me by scanning the voucher, the computer accepted it, she went "Oh..." and I got my 50p off.

Anyhoo, having experienced what it's like to work so hard for so little money, I've decided to apply for another job. I may have been rejected by Hitler (that's Newhaven Fort, not Jakki Phillips at the Argus), but I'm not easily put off, so I'm considering a position on the Entertainment Staff at Brighton Sea Life Centre. It basically involves accepting minimum wage to stroke stingrays and talk to small children about fish for forty hours a week. I eat a lot of tuna, so I think I'm well qualified. Although I refuse to dress up as a turtle.

NO PAROLE FOR STOATSThe only downside is that the local Green Party managed to get a decision to bring seals and otters to the centre overturned last summer by holding up banners saying "NO OTTER PRISON IN BRIGHTON", and claiming "They would be living in the middle of a busy traffic hotspot", and might get run over. Or something. Which is a shame - I'd quite like to tell people I work at an Otter Prison.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

_________Britney Spears Shaved______Britney Spears Wig

I'm glad she got the wig. After all, she wouldn't want to go out looking ridiculous.

Monday, February 19, 2007

I do love wrong numbers. I've just had a call from a woman who asked if I'm Richard. I said no, so she said "Richard Thomas?", as though she expected me to say "Oh, hang on, yes I am". Having established that I'm not, and there's no one here by that name, she pressed on regardless and asked "Is that not the old bakery?". I said no. She said "Really?".

Honestly, she sounded so convincing, I started looking around for bread. I can only assume she'd got wind of the amount of hot cross buns Lisa's got in the freezer. Either that or she's a fan of John-Boy from The Waltons.

Big Name AuthorAnyhoo, she's lucky she caught me at home, because I've been out all morning doing some important charity work. I've successfully boosted the funds of Marie Curie Cancer Care by generously donating some money in return for various items of junk from the shop around the corner. Interestingly, having learnt of her existence almost two years ago, I found a book by the fantastically named Lisa Gardner. It was only 50p, which is handy as I wouldn't pay more than a pound for anything written by someone with that surname (a view shared, it would seem, by most of the English speaking world).

But even more exciting is that I found a book worth ten pounds which I ordered from Amazon on January 9th as a present for Lisa. They gave me an estimated delivery time of 4-6 weeks (I think they were going to send it by tortoise), but it still hasn't arrived. So I bought it for a pound from the charity shop, came home and successfully cancelled my order with Amazon before they charged my credit card. I've saved myself a fortune. And I've helped cure cancer. Life doesn't get any better than that.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

It's taken a while, but sand has finally arrived on Brighton beach...

The Sands of Time
And to think that just five months ago it looked like this...

Between Black Rock and a hard place.
When I took the above photo at the end of September, it was just a barren patch of beach with a mechanical digger. But five months on, and thanks to the tireless efforts of building contractors Integra, it's been magically transformed into a barren patch of beach with a mechanical digger and some sand. And a rock-climbing wall. And a small hut. Which isn't finished yet.

But give it another couple of weeks, and this will (apparently) be the UK training base for the 2008 Great Britain Olympic Beach Volleyball Team. That's if anyone replies to the ad in the Jobcentre window. If not, it's back to Eddie the Eagle. Not that I want to dismiss the team's chances of returning with gold, but when their first step on the road to Olympic success is to choose as their training base the only beach in Britain without sand, you do start to wonder who's in charge.

But the sand has finally arrived this week, and has apparently been specially selected for its colour and grain. According to the local news reporter who was tramping all over it on Thursday morning, owners Yellowave now have to send off a sample to the international governing body of Beach Volleyball (or Keith and Tony as they're known) to make sure it meets their exacting standards, and can be kicked successfully into the faces of seven stone weaklings by big men with balls. I'm sure it's just a formality.

Anyhoo, the earlier photo above was taken on September 22nd, the day of the Bicycle Ballet on Brighton seafront, which is slightly spooky as I was browsing YouTube on Friday night and came across a video of it which (brace yourself) features me in the background. I'm only actually spottable by people who know me intimately and are able to recognise my bored expression from a distance, but I am there, and at the very least it gives you a reason to watch the video. Because let's face it, you wouldn't want to watch it for the ballet.

In other news, it's the 2007 Sussex Beacon Half Marathon today. The organisers describe it as "a unique opportunity to run through the streets of Brighton", thus proving they've never been late for a Landscape by Lamplight walk. But as we speak, thousands of people are staggering towards the finish line, which might be 13.1 miles from the start, but is only five minutes walk from my flat. I was going to take part, but I regularly buy clothes in the Sussex Beacon charity shop, so I feel I've done my bit already.

Most interesting of all though, is that the Route Maps available on their website state "Design: Paul Collicutt", which is kinda spooky because, as mentioned here before, the man's a permanent fixture in my living room.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Barley MowI do love the sense of humour of my local pub. Not that I've ever been in it, obviously (I prefer to stay at home with a can of Tizer), but I often walk past the sign outside, which changes on a frequent basis, and regularly makes me laugh. This is my favourite since they advertised their weekly pub quiz with the words "It's got a picture round and everything!".

But changing the subject, if there's one thing guaranteed to make Valentine's Day a little bit special, it's getting a phone call out of the blue at midday from a female admirer asking me out on a hot date that very afternoon while Lisa's busy at work. Naturally I said yes, and within two hours I was suited, booted, and picking up the woman of my dreams in the car of my nightmares (it's been letting in the rain lately, and smells of mildew). Of course, in an ideal world, the lady in question wouldn't have been 73 and Lisa's mother, but on the bright side I got to spend the afternoon at Hove dog track.

I did feel slightly guilty that I was celebrating Valentine's Day with another woman (although she offered to buy me chips, which helped ease the pain), especially when I looked through the racing form and spotted a dog called Lookoutforlisa, but over all, I felt I was doing Lisa a favour by keeping her mother amused and giving her the chance to win a bit of inheritance money. Or, as it turned out, lose her pension. But hey, there's nothing wrong with a bit of poverty.

In other developments, the new issue of The Kemptown Rag is out today (24 hours ahead of schedule, and available to download online - pick up your copy now), and I'm pleased to say they've printed my article. The good news is they've given it prime billing on page 2, and they've spelt my name right. The bad news is they seem to have moved the last three paragraphs to page 7 so they can fit in an advert for The Pro Musica Chamber Choir. Which is a bit of a liberty. If I'm going to have news of Lisa's smear test delivered to 6,000 homes, I want it on the inside cover, dammit.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mobile Quilling EnthusiastIt's Valentine's Day! I know that because with much excitement I've received a card from a secret admirer, declaring her love for me and signing herself enigmatically with a question mark. Unfortunately it was handed to me in bed at 6:45am by Lisa, which takes away some of the mystery. I'm not saying she'd only just written it, but the gum was still wet on the envelope. Obviously I didn't notice her doing it because 6:45am is THE MIDDLE OF THE BLOODY NIGHT and I was still asleep. But needless to say I'm grateful.

It was a very nice card anyway. Nowhere near as big as the one I gave her, but who's measuring. I also drew a picture in mine, but like I say, these things are irrelevant. She did pay more for her card though. I was tempted to get mine from the local Pound Shop, but in the end I decided that would be wrong, and wouldn't send out the right romantic message. And besides, I found one for 98p in Asda.

So all in all, it was a romantic morning (if you can call 6:45 the morning). Which is all the more surprising as we played 'You Say We Pay' again last night (the live TV version with the sound down - that's how sad we are). I'm sure it's already pushing Richard & Judy towards divorce, and they don't have to contend with Lisa's animal descriptions. Hot on the heels of her display of encyclopaedic goat knowledge, she gave me this considered clue last night:

"It curls up on the road."

Naturally I thought of a mobile quilling enthusiast, or possibly me in the back of a car, but no, the answer turned out to be hedgehog. If she'd replaced "curls up" with "gets splatted", she'd have been halfway there.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bang and the dirt is gone.My new glasses arrived yesterday. Well, they didn't so much arrive, as get taken away by the postman, thus forcing me to walk a mile into town to pick them up from the main sorting office. But the bottom line is I got my hands on them. And very nice they are too. When I saw the colour of the case, and then opened it to reveal a bright orange & lime green cleaning cloth, I did kinda wish I'd gone for the sunglasses, but that aside I'm very pleased with them. My only question is why the cloth says "CLEAN ME"? Surely it should say "USE ME TO CLEAN YOUR GLASSES". That's if it needs to say anything at all. Personally I knew pretty much how to use it without the need for printed instructions.

Anyhoo, despite the fact that my main motivation for buying new specs was so that I could look like Clark Kent whilst interviewing celebrities for The Argus - an eventuality which now seems unlikely since they told me to sod off via second class post on Saturday - I don't feel I've wasted my money, because I can still wear them to drive to Asda. And frankly I look so stylishly cool in them, you'd think Ted Baker had designed this pair with me in mind, and personally fashioned them out of the world's finest plastic. I look like Nicky Hambleton-Jones with alopecia. And less lipstick. It's the closest I've ever been to fashionable.

Obviously I could post a photo of me wearing these icons of style, but I'm trying to do a deal with OK! magazine for the exclusive rights, so I don't want to jump the gun. I do have an alternative photo though. It was taken on Saturday night after Lisa requested a picture of me with the one I love, to send to an online friend of hers. It being Valentine's week, I was happy to oblige, but having set up the self-timer and managed to capture this remarkable image in just one take, Lisa refused to accept it. I think we had our wires crossed, and it wasn't quite what she had in mind.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Puppie LoveI was down at the beach today, doing my best to feel springlike whilst being dive-bombed by seagulls and ridden into by cyclists, when I noticed that the crazy golf course near the pier have decided to live up to their name (the crazy bit, not the golf bit) by suddenly erecting a giant Slush Puppie on the roof of their clubhouse. Having taken the photo on the left (which also features a man in the background shaking his fist at a young girl as he chases her into the sea - just another everyday occurrence in Brighton), I looked at the sad, grubby, over-inflated plastic character swaying back and forth in the wind, and somehow it reminded me of something...

Slush PuppieSlush Fund

One's a comedy dog with drooping jowls and a jutting chin who's rarely seen without a drink in his hand... and the other's a Slush Puppie. The question is, which would I rather have representing me on the council?

Friday, February 09, 2007

One Paston PlaceIt's Valentine's Day! Well ok, it's not. But it was on Wednesday. Kind of. Naturally Lisa and I are both hopeless romantics and will do anything to celebrate our love, but we don't like to spend a lot of money or associate with riff-raff, so we held Valentine's Day a week early. It's cheaper, quieter, and has the added bonus that if we break up over the weekend, we've still got our presents. For her gift of romance, Lisa paid for us to have lunch at Brighton's most exclusive and expensive restaurant. In return I gave her a small book from Amazon. Admittedly it's a slightly uneven exchange of gifts - the meal was over in an hour, whereas that book will be with her for life - but I'm trying not to feel too much resentment.

Lunch turned out to be very nice. If you like that sort of thing. We went to One Paston Place (I forget exactly where it is), a restaurant which claims to have "the highest rated Italian chef in the UK". And having tasted the food, I can believe it. Although my experience of eating out doesn't stretch much beyond Pizza Hut, so it's hard to tell.

AngeloI knew I was out of my depth the moment we walked in the door and were greeted by the bloke on the right who insisted on taking our coats (it's ok - we got them back at the end) and pulling the chairs out for us. It didn't help that we were the only ones in the entire restaurant, and therefore unable to watch the other diners and find out which fork to use. But Angelo, fresh from his experience as a Brotherhood of Man song, seemed friendly enough. It's just a shame we couldn't understand a word he said.

For our starters, Lisa had Guinea Fowl (she'd looked it up in the dictionary the night before), while I went with the Gnocchi. Which I have to say was the finest dish I've ever tasted. I was tempted to cancel my main course and ask for seconds, but I didn't want to appear over-excited, and besides, we were too busy deciding whether you're meant to eat guinea fowl with a spoon. We were also presented with two small cups of gloop which, having compared notes on Angelo's description, we translated as White Truffle & Mushroom something-or-other. I asked Lisa if I could dip my bread in it, she shrugged, and I went ahead anyway.

At this point I went off to the toilet, got confused, walked into the Ladies, came back out again, found the Gents, realised it was exactly the same as the Ladies, then couldn't work out what to do with the posh hand towel after I'd used it. I was glad to get back to the dining room.

For the main course Lisa had mackerel, while I stuck my neck out and went with the rabbit. I've never had rabbit before (well not outside of a hutch), but it was surprisingly nice. Although I felt the addition of just one potato croquette was a little mean, and the rabbit seemed to have eaten all the salad.

For dessert I went with the Praline Parfait, which was far too nice to share with Lisa, while she retaliated by ordering the coffee ice cream which she knew I wouldn't eat. When it was all over, Angelo offered to call us a taxi, I told him I've been called far worse than that, he helped us on with our coats, and we left. Lisa's determined to go back for her birthday, but I'm not so sure. Admittedly it was the best food I've ever tasted, but it's hard to relax and enjoy yourself when you feel like a commoner at a royal banquet. That's why Fergie got divorced.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I rang the Brighton Argus yesterday and spoke to Jakki Phillips, the Features Editor. It's three weeks since the closing date for the Entertainment Writer job, and I'd heard nothing, despite e-mailing them 12 days ago. Jakki may not answer her e-mails, but fortunately she picks up the phone. She doesn't like to stay on it long though. I asked her about the job and she told me the position's been filled. So I politely asked if she can give me any information as to why my application wasn't successful. She said "No, we don't give personal feedback".

So that's all very helpful. If she ever gets the sack, I'm sure there's a career out there for her in customer services.

The irony is that the Argus could clearly do with a bit of help. Last Friday's issue of The Guide (the weekly pull-out entertainment section I'd applied to work on) featured Ricky Gervais on the cover, by dint of the fact that he was performing at the Brighton Centre this week. The 'Welcome' section on the inside page boasted that "our dapper cover star tells The Guide about his bizarre life in the limelight", and directed readers to the centre pages where Xenia Gregoriadis, their main entertainment writer, had produced a two-page spread on Mr Gervais. The heading stated "his new stand-up show deals with fame and all its trappings, as he tells The Guide", before reproducing a detailed interview with the man himself.

Quite impressive. Well done Xenia. Unfortunately Ricky Gervais hasn't actually told The Guide anything. Heck, he's probably never even heard of The Guide. Because despite claiming she has a direct line to Ricky's thoughts, Xenia has just lifted every quote, word for word, from an interview by James Rampton of The Independent.

Needless to say James doesn't get credited anywhere, but then you can't really credit your source if you're claiming you wrote it yourself.

The job advert for the Entertainment Writer position asked "Could you secure an exclusive interview with The Kooks?". They should have added "Because we clearly can't". The irony is that if they'd asked "Can you sit in front of the internet all day plagiarising other journalists' work, instead of writing anything new?" I probably wouldn't have applied.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Late breaking news from today's Argus...

Don't eagles EAT hamsters?
If you're wondering who underlined the words "eagle-eyed resident", it was Lisa's aunt and uncle, who haven't been able to stop laughing all day due to the fact that the all-seeing saviour of hamsters is none other than Lisa's mother, a woman on the waiting list for an eye operation, who once failed to recognise her own daughter in Safeway, and thinks her grandson looks like my niece. In fact she's so eagle-eyed, she failed to spot that they've spelt the name of her street wrong in the report.

I'm just sorry the Argus didn't get any direct quotes, as when she told me about her daring animal rescue on the phone last week she came out with a number of gems, including "I'm not keen on hamsters, but I wouldn't put them out with the rubbish". I get the impression she'd be more likely to flush them down the toilet.

Inexplicably, the story didn't make the front page, but fortunately Lisa's aunt was on standby to take matters into her own hands and see that justice was done by doctoring her own copy...

Heroine of the Year
Some kind of community service award is surely only a matter of time.

Anyhoo, Lisa's mother isn't the only one being featured in the local press at the moment. I rewrote yesterday's blog post this morning, removing all references to Lisa's caprine tethering obsession, and submitted it to The Kemptown Rag. The editor got back to me this afternoon, and they're publishing it in the next issue. I may not have saved any hamsters, but at least I can get the words 'sex shop' and 'smear test' into print.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Pavilion Landscape by LamplightWell, I may not have liked 'The History Boys', but I've got to say I loved Landscape by Lamplight last night. It's how history should be done - creeping down alleyways in the dark with a bloke who tells anecdotes about sex shops. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course, that was due in part to my having the foresight to wear gloves, thermal socks and a woolly hat, unlike Lisa, who found it hard to concentrate on the history due to being more concerned that she might be dying from hypothermia. I offered her my hat, but apparently frostbite is preferable to looking stupid.

Anyhoo, if there's one thing history has taught us, it's that Lisa and I are late for everything, so as we trotted up to the Pavilion gates, local historian Geoffrey Mead was already leading the group through them and off in the other direction. So we spent the first ten seconds of the walk running. To be honest though, I didn't mind. When I told Lisa yesterday evening that we'd be meeting Geoffrey, she said "What, from Rainbow?", so I was slightly relieved we missed the introductions. She might have asked him where Bungle is.

The most important piece of information Geoffrey gave us all night was that the Pavilion Gardens Cafe sells "rock cakes to die for". Needless to say I can't take his word for it, so expect a report in the near future. From there we made our way past the Lesbian & Gay AA meeting and into North Street where Geoffrey informed us that a hundred years ago Costa Coffee was a Strict Baptist Church, until the Baptists sold the building to a company who promptly turned it into Brighton's first ever sex shop. Which caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And not just from the sex shop customers.

We also learnt that the oldest building in North Street is Timpsons the shoe-menders. I say cobblers to that. But apparently it dates from 1780.

As we climbed the hill, Geoff told us that the former beadle of Brighton was nicknamed 'Billygoat' because he once shot a goat thinking it was a stray dog. Of course, if that goat had been tethered, the whole sorry incident would never have happened, so maybe Lisa has a point. After that we proved there's safety in numbers by venturing down an alley behind the multi-storey car park and loitering in the shadows for five minutes without getting mugged, before emerging by the stage door of the Theatre Royal which, it was pointed out, is the width of a normal door, but twice as high to enable them to get the scenery in. And possibly the actors' egos.

Geoffrey then gave the tour a personal edge by revealing that his grandfather was Mr Mead of Mead & Co, formerly Brighton's leading antiques dealer, who would be turning in his grave to hear that his old office is now Riki Tik's cocktail bar. Although that's still preferable to the antiques business being sold to a man named Crook. Another ironic conversion turned out to be The Brighton Buddhist Centre, which prior to becoming a focal point for vegetarianism and those who believe in the sanctity of life, was the Co-op butcher's warehouse.

A quick jaunt around North Laine, and we crossed over to Carlton Hill, where a passer-by looked at our ragtag band of two dozen pensioners, three blokes in hats, and a woman with frostbite, and asked "Are you the Jesus Army?". He obviously knew you need a lot of faith to venture up Carlton Hill after dark. But as we proceeded through the violent gangland of Graham Greene's 'Brighton Rock', Lisa added to the atmosphere by spotting a nearby clinic and declaring "Oh, that's where I had my first smear test!". That was one fact Geoffrey didn't know.

Picking our way through the notorious Kingswood Flats and passing the all-night cafe where you can get a Double Gutbuster at 3am, we made our way back to the Pavilion where Geoff informed us that any donations would go towards the building of bat boxes in Hollingbury Woods. I gave £1.50 and asked them to build a bird box for Robin.

All in all it was the best night out I've had in Brighton since I met David Van Day in the frozen food section of Asda. If Geoffrey Mead took over from Simon Schama, I might actually watch some BBC history programmes. He's doing a walk around Hove on March 4th, and needless to say I'll be there. Unlike Lisa, who'll be tucked up in bed with the central heating on.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I've decided I need to get out of the house more. It's a decision I came to at about 8:25pm last night when the couple in the flat above started banging on the ceiling and shouting "Shuuuuut uuup!!!" two minutes into my rendition of 'Hang' by Matchbox 20 on the acoustic guitar. I wouldn't mind, but even Simon Cowell would have let me get to the chorus. So rather than contacting ITV's 'Neighbours From Hell' and reporting them for victimisation, I've chosen instead to defuse the situation by vacating my flat for the evening. And possibly putting a firework through their letterbox.

Geoffrey MeadI'm currently trying to persuade Lisa to join me on a Landscape by Lamplight adventure at 7pm tonight, which involves wandering around the city centre for two hours trying to keep up with the bloke on the right. He may look harmless enough, but he's got a degree in Geography, so it's entirely possible he becomes a crazed killer after dark. Which is why I'm taking Lisa with me.

On the bright side, the whole experience is free. Well, it says "Donation Appreciated". Which means it's free. Although it's organised by the council, so they might expect us to pick up litter and hand out parking tickets as we go around. But if we get bored we can always slip down a sidestreet and go home. Assuming we're not the only ones who turn up. Geoffrey might notice if his only two followers go missing.

The last time Lisa and I went for a walk together, she tried to drag me into a gay sex shop so that she could buy Julian Clary's autobiography. Which is why 7pm on a Sunday is the perfect time to go out. The only things open are lap dancing clubs. As things stand at the moment, Lisa's fully prepared to join me on this two-mile walk, but it's only an hour since she asked me to go to the Co-op for a Sunday paper on the grounds that the 100-yard journey was a bit much for her. So unless I can borrow a Motability scooter, I could be alone tonight.

Friday, February 02, 2007

In my experience, the best preparation for an early morning eye test is to let Lisa set the alarm, leave the switch in the wrong position, and get up 35 minutes later than planned. And I'm pleased to say that's exactly what happened. Strange how when I don't want to get up early, the alarm goes off anyway. You'd almost think it was deliberate. The good news though is that Lisa had agreed to come with me to the optician, so I wasn't alone running up North Street at three minutes to nine, shouting "8:55 was the only appointment they had - if we miss this one I might not see another!". I don't think she got the sight-related pun.

A Sight For Sore EyesBut anyhoo, I'm pleased to say I have twenty-twenty vision. Well, nineteen-nineteen. With the wind in the right direction. Having worn glasses every minute of every day from the age of 16 to 25, I bought the book on the left, threw my specs away, found I couldn't see to read, got them back out of the bin, and started daily eye exercises. Three years later, my eyesight had improved so much the optician told me I could legally drive without glasses, and needn't bother with them any more. I ignored him on the grounds that they make me look more intelligent when I'm behind the wheel, and therefore less likely to get lost.

But four years on, yesterday's eye test has revealed that my sight's improved even further, my left eye is virtually normal, and in the words of the ophthalmic assistant (ie. girl on the desk), "you can see extremely well in the dark". I replied "Maybe I should get a night job!". She stared at me blankly. I gave up. So my vision is verging on the crystal clear and I have no particular need for glasses. But is that going to stop me ordering a pair of expensive designer specs to make me look cool at social gatherings? No, of course not.

Buoyed by my success at the opticians, I then went appointment crazy (or appoint-mental if you prefer) by popping into the dentist on the way home and booking myself in for a check-up. They immediately called my bluff by offering me 9:20 this morning, but I put on a brave face and accepted. I'm now back from the mouthman, and still alive. Mainly due to the fact that according to my dentist, the government have run out of money and he can't afford to take out my dodgy wisdom tooth on the NHS until May. So if we can vote in the Tories by April, I might not have to get it done at all.