28 January, 2006

Sorry, Wrong Number

Now, here's an odd one, from Friday, 9 July, 1999, inspired by a post from David Bailey, who was working on the official Star Wars mag at the time:

Gary Russell once told me about his first week at "Inside Soap" magazine. We all think that fandom is full of spods, but their rwaders are MUCH scarier. Gary took a call from someone calling the magazine saying "I want to speak to Sally".
When Gary told the caller there was no such person there, she continued: "But I *have* to speak to her - she needs to know what Kevin's doing behind her back!!" Then Gary realised that the caller was referring to Sally Webster, ex-wife of Kevin Webster, residents of Coronation Street!

I'm sure David's never had to take a call from someone wanting to speak to Jar-Jar Binks (though who, in their right mind, would want to?). Though it's possible Gary might have taken calls from someone wanting to speak to "Doctor Who". F*ckin' looneys.

Whereas I often take calls from people wanting to speak to "Ahkmet in ward 12". I tell them "He's not here," and they start crying in the mistaken belief that their relative died overnight. I have to explain that this is Sony and they've called 0171 instead of the hospital which is 0181. Sheesh.

What's odd about this is, only last night I told someone about poor Ahkmet, but said that happened to a friend. So for once I didn't appropriate someone else's anecdote as one of my own.

What's also odd is I now live in a different flat and work in a different company, but I still get wrong numbers for the hospital - this time it's 0208 instead of 0203 for the hospital.

I Heart Steps!

Monday, July 5, 1999:

Having unilaterally boycotted both Pride and Mardi Gras last year on the grounds that the previous ones just made me miserable I had to be coerced into going this year. Okay, officially I begrudge paying thirteen pounds to sit on grass for two hours, but I *did* enjoy myself. I went on the fairground - okay I went on the biggest wimp-out piss-poor ride and nearly died of fright (two years and a stone in weight have made me a fairground wuss). I also saw the following acts "live": Precious (piss-poor Eurovision failures who proved to us why they only came 14th), Westlife (another boyband), Human League (Euw - tone deaf or what!? Sorry, they're great 'n' all, but those bints cannot sing!) and Steps (who were the best thing EVER!!!!). Shame I had to leave just as Gary Barlow came on. Actually, know, it isn't 'cos I hate Gary Barlow. Every time I see Robbie Williams on the telly I have this mental image of Gary Barlow seething. And foaming at the mouth.

"Course, they all foam at the mouth when I've finished with them." [sorry for that]

I love Steps. I've finally decided it *is* love I feel for them. Especially Claire, who looks like she keeps them all in line. I wish there was a TV show of Steps and I'd watch it every day. It'd be great - Faye Steps gets her hair caught in a revolving door, threatening the group from getting to a live p.a. on time, "H" tries to think of a way out of it and while he strains himself, Claire organises things, persuating Lee to dive in (doing his best Ben Affleck impression) and rescue Faye while Lisa sorts things out with the venue organiser (played by Christopher Biggins).

I've given this far more thought than it deserves.

In fact, I'm currently rewriting "Robots of Death" for Steps.

Claire: "I heard a cry!"
"H" [in a Welsh accent]: "That was meeee!"

[repeat above, but with dance moves and a key change 2 minutes in]

So, WHAT I HAVE LEARNED from this.

Firstly, there is a horrific typo in there - 'know' instead of 'no'. Hateful.

Next - that I felt the need to explain who Westlife were seems just ridiculous now.

And thirdly - of course I was experiencing transference. It wasn't Steps I loved but who I was with that day. Even as I consider what to write next, I've just triple-corrected myself as to what was also happening on that day. I'll just say that, six-and-a-half years on, I clearly still have issues.

What I didn't mention in that posting to the group was that after the Mardi Gras thing I went to a party in West Hampstead, where Gareth R was living at the time. I'd completely forgotten that party until now. Nothing memorable happened, but it was a fun party nonetheless.

So, what happened in the last six years to make be full of nerves and apprehension at parties? Paul's throwing a party here next Saturday for my birthday... and I'm dreading it. Why? WHY?

A Week in Politics

I'm dipping out of the 'past life' and into this one for a bit. Last weekend, a whale swam up the Thames splashed around for a day and then died, largely (I suspect) to piss off those lovely people trying to haul its onto a floating platform to get it out of there (a bit like my friends trying to get me into a cab after a night on the lash). So, then the press begins to speculate why the whale died.

Durrr - it was swimming in the Thames! With the needles and used rubbers and the poo!

Then we had Celebrity Big Brother, where the winner was a non-celebrity who two days in was already more famous than four of the other eleven. He might be cruel, grotesque and merciless, but for my money Pete Burns was an absolute winner. The first evictee ever to *get* that the boos should be encouraged, not feared; who knew that being funny and dramatic made for better television than being 'a nice person' (catch yerself on, Traci Bingham); and who gave us such wonderful phrases as '[Traci's extensions] look like Tina Turner's arse hairs' and '[to Rula Lenska] You're just a dried-up old husk' and '[to pretty much everyone] You get right up the crack of my arse' (meaning 'you're a little annoying today'). Pete, we love ya, and we agree that You Spin Me Round has been done to death. But Lover Come Back to Me and In Too Deep should be rereleased NOW!

And then this morning I received a lovely DVD box-set through the post - Doctor Who: The Beginning. 13 episodes of lovely, restored black-and-white clunky TV that kick-started the most important cultural event to have touched my life.

Or to put it another way, we're still trying to work out whether this was the cause of my degree of autism or just a symptom of it.

15 January, 2006

Hey Sucka!

This from 30 June, 1999:

Just listening to one of the new early-80s NOW albums (the originals started in 1983, but they've faked up three others so the series can run from 1980 to 1995 - and they're fab!). While enduring "Wham Rap!" I noticed the many clues to the future "Revelation" about George Michael's sexuality (I say "Revelation" because I have this image of a middle-aged couple in Guilford going "NO! Really?" when the news broke).

The following are excerpts from the song:

"Hey sucker! What the Hell's got into you?" [The first damn line!!]
"Well I haven't seen your face around town awhile / So I greeted you with a *knowing* smile..."
"See me, single and free..."
"A married man? You're out of your head!"
"Death by matrimony" [!!]
"I remember when we had such fun and everything was fine..... tell me that's all in the past and I will gladly walk away."
"There's something 'bout that guy I don't like..." [so speaks Pepsi - or was it
Shirley - pretending to be Andrew Ridgely's wife].
"You're wasting time on some creepy guy" [ditto]

... okay, all this and the fact that the dance moves were camper than Steps ever dreamed of AND the fact that, well, he just looked dead poofy, something that Andrew Ridgely looks really uncomfortable with on Top of the Pops.

Andrew Ridgely's first solo single? "I'm Gonna Shake You". In reality it was more of a mild murmur.

And after all that, Steve Lyons pointed out that it was 'Young Guns' I'd actually been quoting from. Pah!

01 January, 2006

And then...

Okay, now it gets stranger, because here's a post from my friend David:

Date: Sun Jun 6, 1999 5:54pm
Subject: h2g2 bails.d@xxxxxx.xxxx

Dear All,

Someone told me about this site weeks ago, and I apologise if I'm telling any of you anything you already know...

But if you've never seen it, you *have* to check out www.h2g2.com

It's the Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy, but don't worry it's not something horrible and anal and not as desperately funny as it thinks it should be. It's a kind of giant, rambling, usefully useless database of normal people's thoughts, alongside a giant proper database that comprises the guide itself.

Once you've registered, you get your own page, where you can do more or less what you please. So, for anyone who's wanted to set up a website, but can't be bothered to go through all that HTML crap only to find that you've nothing to say - don't worry, someone's done all the crap already, so you can just waltz in and ramble as you see fit.

I think we should hijack the bugger. It's a suspiciously worthwhile thing, but obviously it needs folk of our staggering intellect to spice it up a bit.

It's ever so vaguely exciting. Do go see. (Sorry to froth about it, but it is remarkably interesting.)


This was sent the day before I registered, which means it was almost certainly as a consequence of David's mail. All this time I thought it was Rob Stradling who told me about the site, but it was good old Bails!

First Steps

I made this post on Thu May 20, 1999 10:54am:

Subject: Goodbye Piccadilly...

On the way into work this morning, the following thoughts occurred to me;

1. For a 6-year-old child on his first visit to London, Piccadilly Circus is an enormous disappointment, being entirely unconnected to, say, Billy Smart's Circus. In a similar but altogether more disorientating way, see Oxford Circus with its multiple exits to nowhere.

2. Piccadilly Circus Underground Station has the permanent aroma of "Tramp" - by this I mean sour-milk-and-piss-stained vagrant as opposed to Louise off of TV's Eastenders. This is a smell that lingers in every railway & underground station,
car park, public lift and Gents in the British Isles. While on my recent business trip to L.A. I was surprised to discover that the above sensations are not a universal constant, as the gents and lifts in the L.A. Conference centre smelt merely of bleach and the car park smelt unsurprisingly of gasoline.

Just to keep you all updated, I am still jetlagged.

On 7 July, I signed up to a new website called h2g2, which Douglas Adams had created as a real-life version of the Guide mentioned in his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books. My first entry seems to have been inspired by this post to the group, if the original draft is anything to go by.

That was my first contact with that website - and my last for a long time. Back then, they were still struggling to work out how to cope with submissions and it took them almost exactly a year to publish the Edited version of the entry as part of the Guide. By that time, a few people had managed to get themselves added as credited Researchers - something we probably wouldn't allow now.

My next post to the site was this one, announcing my arrival as a member of the in-house staff. By then, the site had been bought up by the BBC. When I'd mentioned at the interview that I was already a registered researcher who'd contributed an entry to the Guide it took them by surprise, especially as I'd left it until after they'd explained the site to me. But the fact that I'd been there at the very start has helped me in situations where people like to moan about the site being 'not as good as it was in the beginning'. Utter rubbish - I was there and it was no-where near as good. We can get an entry from first submission to final publication in a fortnight now - largely thanks to the network of volunteers who put loads of effort into getting entries as good as they can be. It works so much better than just poor Mark Moxon (the first site editor) being overawed by the volume of work mounting up in his in-tray.