September 2004 Archives -

To Hull and back

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

“It’s down the corridor, turn left at the end. Go through the double doors, swing round to your right, and pick the middle corridor. From there, take the third exit, walk to the far end of the room, and open the large door on the left. Room smells of Dettol, if that helps.”
My mission for the last few days was to sort out a customer in Hull. It was my second visit, and like a fine wine it has improved with age. The offices, when I found them, were labyrynthine – several buildings knocked into one to provide a huge, heavily-fortified mess. It took 30 minutes to get past security, and then a further 25 minutes to find the correct room. I was exhausted before I’d even begun.
“Ah, good morning. We’ve lost everything you needed.” This was not good news. The beaming face of a slightly overweight, middle-aged woman started to detail where she last saw the software I needed, and how she had a bit of a hangover and couldn’t quite remember where she’d placed them. “Splendid!” I announced, and didn’t mean it.
I’d been given two days to sort their issues out, a decision that plainly hadn’t factored in the walking and the loss of anything I would need to work with. No matter – they found plenty of other errors for me to fix, and by the end of the first day, my legs were like stumps and it was all I could do to drive to the hotel for a good relax. Staring out of the hotel room window, I could make out an enticing sign for Pizza Hut. My legs suddenly made a remarkable recovery and before long I was full of Pepperoni Feast, regretting not plumping for the smaller sized version. Ah well.
And so it chugged on for the next couple of days. The software we needed for the first day wasn’t available, the couriered replacement managed to turn up 5 hours late on the second day, and all in all it’s a blessing I’m back even now.

Boris goes LIVE!

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

Oh look, Boris Johnson has his own site
Ok, ok, I’m feigning surprise. For the last few weeks, Tim and I have been slaving over a hot computer, making sure that the official Boris Johnson site has all the bells and whistles the great man wanted. I’ll be honest, I’m not too enamoured by the design – I was merely the code monkey that got their design to run.
However, it is outrageously good fortune that a political figure with such a good writing style has signed up to blog about his life as an MP – trust me, you’re in for a treat…!
UPDATE: Track the bloggers discovering Boris’s new site here.

A Secret Trip to Bath

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

The plan was going better than I had hoped. I surged off the M25 slip road and coasted into 6th gear, sweeping past the slow-moving lorry as the rain pattered more and more urgently on the windscreen.
I decided to chance it. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we went away right now for the weekend?” I remarked nonchalantly.
“Yes, it would,” Michelle agreed, looking confusingly at the big navigation screen in front of her, “but we’re going to Paul’s barbeque – he wouldn’t be too happy!”
A mischievous grin spread across my face. “He won’t know.”
“What? Why?”
“Because we’re not going to Paul’s.”
And so it was that for the first time in three and a half years I had managed to put the wind up Michelle, as it were. For the only time in memory, I have been able to keep something a secret from her for a month and a half, and I was proud. As I detailed the lengths I had gone to, and how everyone knew but her, my mind strayed to poor Paul and his girlfriend Liz. Paul and I had planned this event for the last month, only for Paul to have to pull out at the last moment. Never mind – we were off for a lazy weekend hotel stay in Bath, and nothing could stop us.
There is a curious certainty about travelling west of London – that the closer you get to Wales, the more rain you’ll find. This was our 3rd visit to Dorian House in the heart of Bath and my ninth visit to that area of the country – and without exception every trip has been marred by storms, wind and rain. Undaunted, we ploughed on.
We arrived at nine in the evening, and immediately set about ordering a taxi to the nearest Indian. The Eastern Eye, an enormous place in an old Roman banqueting hall, calmed our troubled stomachs and thoughts turned to the next couple of days. Paul, an event manager through and through, had been phoning and emailing regularly over the last few weeks with thoughts on what we should do – a trip to the zoo, and Comedy Walk around Bath, the obligatory visit to the Roman Baths – but without him there was little motivation to move outside our comfort zone. We settled on rising late the next morning, and shopping until the early evening.
And we stuck well to our plan. The exasperated phonecall from the hotel manager at 11am – “we really need to clean your room now, if you wouldn’t mind” – made me think that it was as good a time as any to haul my great carcass out of bed. Feeling energetic, we walked the 1 mile into town, stopping off on route to marvel at new “Japanese-style” apartments overlooking the whole of Bath – “just ?200,000 for a one bedroom home, sir” the saleman informed us, apparently without batting an eyelid. As we landed on familiar High Street territory, The Gadget Shop jumped out at us.
One hour later, having discussed at length with a female assistant the merits of a huge, phallic-shaped vibrating massager – “it gets into all your nooks and crannies” – we emerged with 3 items. One was the massager, and the other two…. well, they’ll be kept secret until the next party. But lunch was looming and after Michelle was attacked by a couple of friendly crows we found the appropriately-named Yum Yum Thai.
By then it was three o’clock and we were waning. Stocking up with edible goodies from Marks and Spencer sounded like a good plan and half an hour later we were at the checkout, about to hail a bus home. The bus came, we clambered aboard with multiple bags, and let the good man drive us up the hill.
And that, pretty much, was that. The hotel was as good as ever, Bath was as enjoyable as ever, and next time, god dammit, Paul and Liz are coming with us. You hear?

Belle de Jour signs off

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

Belle de Jour, prostitute, blogger and nearly a published author, is hanging up her mouse, presumably for contractual reasons. Either that, or she feels her job is done. For as long as she’s been blogging, I’ve been reading, and I’ll miss her well-turned phrases and lough-out-loud observations. As she eloquently put it, “All things pass. For instance: Harts the Grocer, I am saddened to note, are now Tesco Metro. But that is the way of things.” And she ends with a word of advice. “Don’t ever turn down pleasure because you were afraid of what other people might say.”
But a nagging thought plays on my mind – how will we ever know if she’s real now?

In The Worst Possible Taste

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

Bright yellow trousers? Check.
Outrageous rainbow tanktop? Check.
Outsize afro wig? Check.
Dad’s brown corduroy jacket? Check.
Large kipper tie? Hell yes.
Suitable attired in this spectacular get-up (three layers thick, hence the enormousness of me in the photos), Michelle and I pottered off to Jac, Alex and Tony’s Watford farmhouse last night for what was billed as a Bad Taste barbeque party. The theme was inspired by the September 11th date and the host, never one to shy away from a challenge, managed to outclass us all with the most politically incorrect costume to date. As we arrived, the weather took a hold, and the customary barbeque rain started pattering down on the grass. We grouped in Jac’s room, surveying each other’s attire with amusement.
And so it was that myself (“Badly Dressed Man”), Michelle (“Blood-covered Surgeon”) and Jac’s brother Ben and wife Carole (both wearing t-shirts sporting a photo of a distinctly naked Jac) kicked off a splendid night’s entertainment. Ben took command of the cooking, tossing burgers and rolling sausages with all the experience of a professional griller, while around 25 others set about demolishing the beer and food mountain that had been laid lavishly before us. Highlights include:
– Jac losing his beer at least seven times, only to find that Ben and I had simply moved them all to a secret location throughout the night. The cries of “WHERE’S MY BEER?” every few minutes, followed by frantic searching around the house set me chortling for a wee while, the uncontrollable laughter almost giving me a mild hernia.
– Jac finding his suicidal teddy bear, “Rory”, hanging by a cord from the overhanging light. You have NO idea how much this 25 year old man loves his teddy bear.
– The karaoke machine. For a full 2 hours, we belted out hits from Bon Jovi (Michelle), Meatloaf (Me), Matchbox Twenty (Jac and I), Alice Cooper (Me), and so many more the haze of alcohol has rendered immemorable. I managed to clear the room on a regular basis while Jac, true to form, managed to find a spelling mistake on the karaoke lyrics mid-song.
As the night drew to a close, Jac strummed away on his guitar, giving us his trademark renditions of singalong songs (including “The Only Gay Eskimo” and “Postman Pat”), before we all staggered off to bed, all agreeing that it was a cracking night of frolics.
What’s that you say? What was Jac’s outfit? Well, as Kenny Everett said, it was all in the worst possible taste. He came as… a Russian schoolboy. Complete with bullet wounds.


Posted by | Uncategorized | One Comment

It’s not often I write a post about something other than me. In fact, truth be told, it’s not often I write a post at all at present. But this evening I thought I’d come over all musical on you and plug a band which really should have had more success. And while I know the naming of them on is not even going to send a ripple through their fanbase membership figures, I thought I’d do my bit. It’s the least I can do for all the pleasure their CDs have given me. Who are they? Easyworld.
I was introduced to them in one of those long dark nights in December 2002, at a farewell gig for the now departed Toploader. We didn’t realise it was a farewell gig, of course – just as we didn’t realise that one of their support bands would completely outshine them. Up stepped Dav Ford, Easyworld’s frontman and musical genius, and gave us song after song that belied their appearance. It was rocky, it was indie, it was all sorts of wierd and wonderful things – and from that day on, I’ve been a firm fan. Dav, I’ve been reliably informed, can play the guitar, piano and sing at the same time. You’ve probably never heard of them, so pop over to and have a gawp. I’m just pluggin’ is all…
UPDATE: Oh. Thay’ve split up. Was it something I said?