Hello. Because Mr Site's servers are being a bit useless at the moment my blog is going to be on livejournal for the time being. It's here. If you have a livejournal too then you can 'friend' me, which means you'll never accidentally miss one of my incredibly important philosophical discussions about shell animals or somesuch rubbish.

On the very boring documentary about continental drift that I’ve been having to watch, on account of being too lazy search for the channel changer, an old lady who used to be in charge of mapping the ocean floor for submarines has just sheepishly pointed to one of her maps and said “We didn’t have any good sonar data for this section, so we covered it up with the information box. The submarines would have to go around that bit.” Stealing pirate gags and doing them sixty years early and in real life. Cow.


Also, I picked up a job lot of old Armada books from an Oxfam and now I can’t decide which to read first. It’s a choice between:


Jill Has Two Ponies

Jill Enjoys Her Ponies

Rosettes For Jill

Jill And The Perfect Pony

Pony Jobs For Jill


They’re not numbered or anything, so I’ve no clue what order they might go in. I’m sure there’s a carefully worked out psychological build-up running through the series, like in The Sopranos, and I don’t want to ruin it. Stupid Armada, with their “gay jackets adding colour to any bookshelf”.

Yes, look impressed: Galactus, eater of planets, has visited my website. I know this because the bit that tells you what search terms people have used to find a page shows somebody came looking for a ‘Galactus hat’. And who could want a Galactus hat except Galactus? It wouldn’t fit anybody else for a start, what with Galactus’s head being about a hundred foot wide, and besides, he’s the only one who can carry off those big Jack Kirby fins without looking like a w#nker. But it’s worrying, because he must have gone away annoyed that and presumably hatless. And if he doesn’t wear his hat all the time his boundless cosmic powers will explode and he’ll turn into a star! I don’t fancy being about when that kicks off. Anyway, I think I should probably take advantage of my position as number one hit on google when you type in ‘galactus hat’ and set myself up as a gentleman outfitter to world devourers. I’m going to call my new business ‘Gid’s Gigantic Hats’ until I think up something better.

A robot must not, through inaction, miss these low low prices!

The Sinners/Winners man (for anybody who doesn’t live in London: famous nutbag with a megaphone who stands outside Oxford Circus tube all day shouting about Baby Jesus) has changed from his usual brilliant, though slightly tired, “you are a sinner or you are a winner” rhyme and is now accusing us all of being SHOPAHOLIC ROBOTS. I don’t really know what he means as far as saving my soul goes, but I do know that by nicking his idea and mixing together the previously un-mixable genres of chick-lit and sci-fi I’m going to make a fortune! In your face, Sophie Kinsella!



Cousin Chloe smuggled me into the Nikelodeon studios this afternoon because lovely cheek-boned Betty Boo was turning up to perform that Wigwam thing with scruffy Alex James. The studios are tiny and it’s impossible to be more than a couple of foot away from anybody so I had to promise in advance that I wouldn’t try to touch Betty’s face. I also wasn’t allowed to bring along the motivational poster I’ve had hung above my desk for the last couple of years (it’s a picture of Betty wearing a nice blue hat onto which I’ve added a speech bubble that says ‘Do some work and I will be your girlfriend!’. Unfortunately I don’t think writing pirate books really counts as ‘doing some work’, which means she wasn’t technically obliged to put out.)


Anyhow, I had a whole scheme in place, whereby first I would tell her about my poster (because there’s nothing girls find more attractive than knowing you’ve built a creepy little shrine to them) then maybe we’d go for drinks, I’d talk about how much I’ve been influenced by Salt n’ Pepa and how if I was stuck on a desert island and could only take one thing it would be my four track (her actual answers from a 1990's smash Hits interview, so I’d be cleverly showing our common interests, you see) and after that I’d pretend to remember that she’d left her lyric file on my shelf, so perhaps she ought to come back to mine to collect it.


But, in the most appalling example of could-do-better that I’ve seen in ages her husband was there, with a big rectangular head and a rubbish scarf, so all my careful planning was for nought. And I've already used up all my tissues* on this most serious of issues, I'm that cut up about it. 

Oh, drag your minds out of the gutter, you people.


Sometime between the start and end of today’s episode of Neighbours I must have made myself a little necklace out of bits of cheestring and Beef monster munch, but I have no recollection of even going as far as the fridge. This isn’t a fantastic indicator of mental health, is it?


I also found myself getting worked up about the technical specifications of the monsters they have on the back of monster munch nowadays. Handled properly it’s a good innovation (and I do rate the fact that all three monsters list their occupation as ‘monster’) but assuming the whole point is so you can make your crisps have fights it’s useless, because all the Flaming Hot monster’s stats are much better than the Beef monster, who in turn is much better than the Pickled Onion monster. How the f*ck would that kind of dimorphism ever have evolved? The pickled onion monster would have been wiped out years ago. Which would be no bad thing. I don’t like pickled onion monster munch and I’ve only got them because you get four packs in the multipacks, and multipacks are the only way you can get beef monster much. So I have an EU sized mountain of pickled onion monster munch if anybody fancies driving a truck round to Kennington. I’m not that keen on the Flaming Hot ones either, but the bit in the Flaming Hot monster’s brief “My Kind of Day” blurb about how “he gets up around noon and always starts his monstrous day with a bowl of monster munch” makes me feel a sort of affinity for him.

Nobody threw any burning books at my head during the reading/interview effort I did at Huddersfield, and my lovely but filthy-minded editor lied sweetly and told me afterwards that I “read very well”. Mark Gatiss, who was on after us and was staying at the same hotel, turns out to be a really nice man, and we had an important literary discussion about the merits of Terrance Dicks, Ceefax and Deal Or No Deal (Gatiss has the great theory that in the series finale the banker will be revealed as Mr Blobby). Also, I managed not to drunkenly offend anybody, except for a poet, but I secretly think that’s a good thing. The one thing I’m a bit annoyed by is that I didn’t find time to take the hotel manager up on his kind and only slightly desperate sounding offer (made in a letter given to all guests) to “please come and ask me about the origins of Rugby League – I will be happy to share the sport’s fascinating history with you!”. To make up for this I did at least get to hear the entire life story of the old lady sat next me on the train betwen Gratham and Wakefield. Apparently she was not only responsible for giving Bevin the idea for the NHS, but she also broke her fifth metatarsal "the exact same day David Beckham broke his! It's spooky, isn't it!"

Oh, and despite a lot of local boasting that Last of the Summer Wine is filmed just up the hill, I made it through the whole visit without getting mown down by Peter Sallis in a tin bath even once.

I got talked into doing the Huddersfield literary festival at the end of the week, and I’ve already got dirty great butterflies flapping about in my belly, making me feel a bit sick. I’ve only done one festival before, at Folkestone, which went okay, except I got told off by an old dear in the audience for looking too scruffy. Obviously I’m excited by the prospect of seeing the Standedge Tunnel (“the longest, highest and deepest canal in Britain!” – Things To Do In Huddersfield) but the trouble I‘ve got with this kind of thing is I have absolutely no idea why anybody would want to go to a literary festival. I can’t think of a worse way to spend an evening than listening to an author stumble through a reading of something that wasn’t ever meant to be read out loud in the first place. And my stuff might work if Brian Blessed was performing it, but on a Venn diagram of me and Brian Blessed there is exactly no intersection whatsoever, apart from maybe “quite likes mountains”.

Mil Millington, who I’m on with (thank f*ck, because he has actual fans who might turn up) gave me the helpful advice of “read like you’re telling the story to a small child” and the less helpful advice of “twenty minutes before the start snort a kilogram of crystal meth.” Still, two of the League of Gentlemen are on right after us, so I’m guessing everybody there will just be waiting for them anyhow.  I’m banking on the Mark Gatiss factor bringing in the Doctor Who contingent, in which case I’ll read a bit from the Talons of Weng Chiang instead, and then everybody’s happy.

So, after the fantastic job I’ve done there of selling the whole experience, if you’re knocking about Huddersfield Friday evening and for some reason you’re bored of the Standedge Tunnel, then the details are here. I won’t be scruffy this time.

I thought Darwin’s Nightmare on BBC4 was going to be a fun drama about Darwin getting his legs stuck in treacle whilst the Bishop of Oxford chased him with a big axe down a dark country lane. But instead it turned out to be a brilliant/completely depressing documentary about how the introduction of a new fish to Lake Victoria has wiped out all the native creatures, and brought with it a terrible exploitative economy that sees the EU smuggling in weapons and taking out fish fillets, whilst the locals are left eating rotting fish gizzards, snorting glue scraped off packing crates (if they’re tiny kids), or getting brutally murdered (if they’re prostitutes). And they’re all going to be even more screwed soon, because the species of Perch that’s done the damage is so nasty and stupid that it’s now eating all it’s own babies, and consequently is looking to wipe itself out in a few years time. I used to work in a pub in Oxford called The Perch, and there was a really ugly stuffed one hung above the bar. With evil bulgy eyes. And they only paid me three pounds eight pence an hour. Perch are rubbish.

Anyhow, to borrow internetsdairy’s terminology I give Darwin’s Nightmare five women-sorting-out-fish-guts-and-going-blind-from-ammonia-poisoning-whilst-we-eat-lovely-Tesco’s-finest-range out of five!

uncle pig

If Asterix and the Roman Agent has taught us anything, it's that jealousy will do you no good, and also it will make all your speech bubbles turn green. But I can't help it, I'm so jealous I'm just about crying blood, all because of this email I got from the press officer at my French publishers :
"I had a good weekend since  I went to a small city near Bordeaux and there was the contest of pig-cry-imitation."
Pig cry imitation! I don't know if they have different categories depending on what's meant to be happening to the pig you're imitating (a cry of delight at finding a truffle, a cry of Logan's Run style surprise at finding out that there isn't a disneyland inside that big white building where all the pigs disappear to after their third birthday), but even even if they don't and it's just a general contest without those kind of subtle nuances, it's still the single thing I most want to spend a weekend doing.

plush anthropomorphic pasty problem

Unpacking a box misleadingly labelled “Important Attic Stuff – Do not Throw Away!” I found this:

And straight way I decided I’d show internetsdairy how wrong he was to say I wouldn’t last a week at keeping a blog by filling up at least a month writing all about the adventures a lady pasty would get up to. She would be called Patsy, and the story would begin with her escaping from a pasty factory, and then a feral dog would eat a bit of her, but not an important bit like her pasty guts, just an arm or maybe one of her bows. The pasty and the feral dog would become best friends and pretty soon they’d be getting up to all kinds of exploits. Probably I’d get Cornwall and Somerset confused at some point and they’d visit Cheddar Gorge. Later the pasty would accidentally find herself leading a Cornish Independence march all the way to the houses of parliament. The sad ending would have been when the feral dog ate the rest of the pasty, which would have been the tale’s important moral - the usual one about leopards not changing their spots/nature being red in tooth and claw/you can’t have a feral dog as a best friend if you’re a pasty.

BUT I CAN’T DO ANY OF THAT. Because a quick look at the internet shows that she’s already part of a series of books. Her name isn’t even Patsy, it’s ‘Pixie’. The books don’t look as exciting as my story would have been, but they do help teach kids some Cornish words, so that at least when they grow up they’ll seem even scarier and more like characters out of Straw Dogs.

Pixie/Patsy/whatever the hell she’s called, isn’t the only one to be having adventures without my knowledge. First I discovered that someone has been doing an unofficial Pirate Captain blog on myspace, then, after a bit of poking around on google image search, I find that even the pirate with a scarf has a whole other life I knew nothing about.







You could make an onion cry

I recently found my copy of Daphne & Celeste’s criminally overlooked masterpiece first album ‘I Didn’t Say That!’. It is SIGNED on the front by both Daphne and Celeste. Celeste has even drawn a little love-heart, and Daphne has urged me to ‘Stay Cool!’. My first reaction on finding this again was the same as any right thinking individual - I thought,  ‘I’ve got to show this off to my friends!’. So to that end I held a swanky dinner party last night, with Pringles and olives, like adults have. I carefully put the Daphne and Celeste CD face out on one of my new IKEA shelves, at eye level, right in the hallway where my guests were bound to see it. And did any of them even notice? No! An entire butterflied lamb joint that I could have eaten myself wasted on three myopic wretches (it wasn’t a very big dinner party). The only silver lining was that one of them taught me some ‘Enabling Methods’ to help me cope with a couple of mouldy coffee cups I’ve been putting off dealing with. The Enabling Methods involve a lot of complex questions, but really it just boils down to ‘Is the mould in your favourite Roland Rat mug? No, then just thrown the mug away, because balancing a book on top of it is only a short-term solution, and washing it up obviously isn’t going to happen’. I also have an exciting anecdote to tell about mouldy ham, but I’ll save that for Easter or something.

Hammering time

IKEA didn't have any pigeon feathers, so I bought myself eight bookcases instead. Putting them together has been fun because it involves a lot of hammering. I haven't hammered anything since me and my useless circus midget secret writing partner helped take down a theatre set, when we both spent the day pretending to be Mighty Thor. And laughing at all the actors who were meant to be helping take down the set as well, but who were mainly just having attacks of the vapours/crying about getting a splinter in their hands. Fair enough, I suppose – acting is all in the hand movements, as Brian Blessed points out at least half a dozen times in his brilliant DVD commentary to Flash Gordon. Though this is chump change compared to the number of times he mentions "the purity of Sam Jones' face".


I also got dragged to a drink with some of my cousin’s work colleagues. Normally meeting other people's work colleagues is horrible, because they all just moan on about 'the trouble with the Jenkin’s account' to each other, but because these happened to be kid's TV presenters they moaned on about the quality of gunge that they'd been gunged with, which is much better.

Use bits of shaft for legs

Things to do on summer days goes from strength to strength:


"Make a feather picture!


You'll get quite a big collection of feathers if you keep looking on the ground – in the country or in parks, in town streets and gardens, or at the zoo. Gulls' feathers may turn up on the beach, and local shops may have chicken, duck or pigeon feathers to give away."


I'm off to IKEA to see if they’ve got any piles of pigeon feathers going spare, and mark my words, there will be hell to pay if they don’t.

Breezy day things to make

I meant 'Mesa' flakes, not 'Mensa' flakes in that last entry. Mesa flakes have a picture of Monument Valley on them and are what native Americans would have eaten in the oldendays when they weren't being sad about litter. I don’t think Mensa flakes even exist, but if they do they'll be made from flakes of Norris McWhirter's brain, and eating too many of them will get you blown up by the IRA.


I’d definitely be smart enough to eat Mensa flakes because today I have been reading two different books. Two different books, but in the same day! Like Reed Richards! To show how diverse my interests are the books are poles apart. The first book is by Daniel Dennett and it's called Breaking the Spell. Of his other books that I've read I reckon Darwin’s Dangerous Idea is brilliant, Consciousness Explained is quite good, and Freedom Evolves has got good bits but is mostly rubbish (Dennett's pal Conway gave a lecture at Cambridge on the same topic that was also rubbish, because he pretty much tried to prove that we had free will by dropping a pen and then saying 'I chose to drop that, you see!'). But so far Breaking the Spell is great, even though it's been given some bad write ups by idiots in the papers. Their main objection seems to be that he's not going to win any converts by comparing religion to a fluke worm, but to be honest, despite his protestations, I don’t really think he's all that bothered.


Anyway, the best thing I've learnt from the book so far is that in the 50's the UK granted Cephalopods "honorary vertebrate status" in the eyes of the law, which means you’re not allowed to beat them with a rolled up newspaper like you can with slugs and that. I'm guessing there must have been some sort of ceremony, where all the cephalopods were invited to Buckingham Palace and given a little spine in a commemorative box. Did the cephalopods give us anything back, like, say, a detachable swimming penis ? Did they f*ck.


The second book I’ve been reading is Elizabeth Gondrey's less controversial Things to do on Summer Days. Sample entry: "Big round pebbles can be painted with poster-paint, then sprayed with varnish. Next time you have a tea-party, you could paint a friend's initials on each one and put it at his or her place at the table." I hope Dennett employs this simple trick next time he is having the world's religious leaders round for tea, because it's bound to provide a nice talking point and diffuse a potentially awkward social situation. Also, he can throw the pebbles at their heads when they all start banging on with that "Ah, but who’s to say science isn't just a religion too!" rubbish.

I don't like flax

I am honestly not going to just write about ‘mental people I have run into’, because I know that’s the lazy option if you keep a blog and live in London, seeing as how they pretty much come free with your cereal, especially in glamorous Kennington. But the mental person who came and sat down next to me in Borders’ Starbucks struck a chord, because he was the Ghost of Future Me. It was an ill looking man in a bright pink baseball cap. He did a bit of heavy breathing, and then he proceeded to take three plates out from an old Tesco bag. Then he took out three bags of crisps, two cheese and onion and one monster munch. He poured each bag out onto a separate plate, and began to eat. One crisp from each plate, in order. He stopped every six crisps or so and to let out a satisfied sigh and do that rubbing-your-hands-together gesture that means “a job well done”, before starting on his next six crisps.


This is me in ten years time. I already spend too much time sitting around the Borders' coffee shop spilling drinks on the magazines and generally treating it like it’s my living room. Bringing my own dinner service is the next logical step. Also I identify with his obvious sense of pride at eating six crisps in a row. About twelve years ago I was on holiday with a friend, who after a couple of weeks of biting her lip finally threw a yoghurt at my face, because – in her words – “I was the most annoying person in the world”. Mainly on account of how after every meal I apparently puffed out my cheeks and mopped my brow, like theatre actors do in an encore when they’re trying to show how strenuous it’s been to play at make believe for a couple of hours. “You’ve just eaten some rice, it’s not that much of a f*cking achievement!” my friend bellowed. I pointed out that just because she could virtually dislocate her jaw and swallow an entire cake without even noticing, it wasn’t fair to judge me by the same standards, but she was the same friend who complained about me getting sand in a beach hut, so I was never going to win.


This anecdote doesn’t lead anywhere, except to me saying that I’m now very hungry, because for some reason the only food in the flat is, inexplicably, ‘Mensa Flakes’, which proudly boast on the front that they contain ‘flax’. You make ropes out of flax, don’t you? Flax. Flax in Bovril? Will that work?