Journey through space to the Planet Fabulous, where the Ruler of the Universe will see you shortly.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Telly Update

It was a quaint revelation in this week’s otherwise-bobbins Alias that raised an eyebrow. It was stated that Marshall, the technology imp, was responsible for Sydney’s disguise. Now, it was never made clear whether this was a one-off, but I’m more inclined to believe that it was the case as the subsequent costume was just awful. A cowboy hat and an old dog blanket? Please - that could have come from a dress up chest that was labelled ‘Offensive Mexican’. Thankfully, she neglected to use the big, comedy moustache that came with it.

No, she has a duo of mary dressers she just pops along to at the end of each briefing, I know it. They flap around her with those little pin cushions on their wrists. “Where you off to this time, love?” they’d say with unusually sibilant voices, and she’d say somewhere hot and exotic, and they’d get out the huge wigs regardless.

Blissfully, they were back in charge by the end of the episode, and Sydney was swanning around in a glorious evening dress and – more importantly – hair extensions.

Yes they were integral to the plot.

Meanwhile, on the other side, we have Season Three of 24, my former love. It is true to say that this too has been complete bobbins until last week, and I really couldn’t put my finger on why that was. Then all of a sudden Kim was in trouble, bound to a chair - and I was on the edge of mine. And the final plot revelation! Oh! It was so stupid that it completely negated the whole reason she was captured!

I think I’m secretly in love with it again. All we need is Sheri Parmer in her Evil Golf Cart and I’ll just spangle the whole lounge floor.

From Oxford Circus With Love

I do hope that whatever you are doing, there are ample biscuits to go around.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Great Mysteries of the World Solved: Part IX

I wasn't quite sure at what point I lost my sunglasses, but we all had our eyes on Cilla Black. She was the only one who didn't look up from the backgammon game when I mentioned they had gone missing, and the fact no-one had been allowed in her room since the blender had disappeared merely cemented it.

Brian Blessed was distraught at this as he couldn’t make his trademark cocktails for us all, and went and sulked in the surrounding woods for a whole day. We let him go: he’s not easy to lose. But then someone found an ancient Mr Frosty in the camp’s shop, and that placated him somewhat – though it did take him three hours to make just one Caipirinha, bless.

Fortunately, the loss of my sunglasses was not vital: the dusk Australian sunlight was more than bearable at this time of the evening, dappling our shaded picnic table with a pleasant umber hue. The heat was receding with the light, and even the more susceptible to the temperature of our band were finally emerging from their darkened bedrooms. From the kitchen came the telling ‘chink!’ of a vodka bottle, and I settled further into my garden chair for what may become a long night ahead.

Cilla slipped into the chair next to mine, carrying two glasses and wearing a pair of shoes that I knew weren’t hers. “Do you know what I worry about, chuck?”

A whole host of things flashed into my mind. Being caught must be pretty high on that list. Though, weirdly, she’d repeatedly mentioned the Kays Catalogue with some sort of fear and awe on the journey down here.

“I’ve just read you’re meant to swallow four spiders in your lifetime, while you’re sleeping. What if you do it down here in Oz?”

“POISONOUS!” yelled Brian, scattering the wildlife. Poor Brian. We’d tried to let him sleep in the same cabin as us, we really had. But Brian doesn’t just talk in his sleep – he shouts, sings and performs cabaret, so we had to hire a second cabin down the road and fished out his ear trumpet from the boot of the car. He didn’t seem to mind - on the surface that is. But we made him a cake and stuck his favorite plastic alligator on it. He was almost moved to tears under that beard of his, bless him.

The crickets had started up their nightly chorus in between our two cabins, the woods suddenly becoming more vocal as the sun set. Judith Hann, doyenne of technology, pulled a blanket around her legs and filled her glass further. I once again couldn’t fail to notice the gaudy watch she was sporting: it was an ancient Casio with a calculator on it, now encrusted with blinking LEDs and soldering. Apparently she could use it to contact Maggie Philbin anywhere in the world. I personally doubted that it would even tell the time correctly.

“It’s a good point,” said Judith in her soothing and informative voice. “I mean, there are some in this country that could kill you in under ten minutes…”

I nodded, and rolled the thought around for a moment. “Well, the Huntsman spider is the size of your hand, I’m sure you’re aware. I doubt there’s much danger of swallowing that.”

“Brian could,” muttered Cilla into her handbag, stabbing for her Smints. She tried to keep her dislike a secret, but we all knew really.

“WHAT?” called Brian. That ear trumpet of his was remarkably good.

“Nothing, Brian,” said Judith, over her shoulder.

Apparently it had been Brian’s idea to bring everyone down to visit in Australia, and had corralled and cajoled everyone to coming with him. I was touched – not to say a little shocked - when he phoned to say that he would be landing in Perth in about five hours time, and that he’d bought some friends. Even down the phone line, I could hear him shrugging off my excitement, saying that he’d always wanted to visit Down Under. That much was true: the big lug seemed to really want to get back to nature. The problem being that nature really didn't want to get back to him.

So I'd met most of them in the Arrivals Lounge, with the notable exceptions of Cher - who was flying cargo, and Angela Lansbury - who'd been sneaking champagne out of the First Class cabin and got so drunk she'd been performing show tunes in the galley. Several stewardesses had tried to hold her down, but Dame Aggie's got a kick like a mule, and before she knew it, she was being arrested for air rage.

I spent an afternoon waiting for her in the beigest room imaginable, the air conditioner whining above my head doing little to dispel the closeness. They finally released her after I’d offered them a great deal of my holiday money, and she burst into the room on the chorus of Me And My Gal.

When I finally sat her down, she was typically more worried about her luggage. I refused to let her drive.

The dusk had just rolled over into night as Cher stepped out onto the veranda, and we all shuffled around so she could sit. You wouldn’t think she’d be happy out in an Australian park in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature. But she looked so at ease with it all as she gracefully sat down that she didn’t look a jot out of place. Though I suppose the enormous feathered headdress did make her look like a poreless cockatiel.

“What we talking about?” she asked. There was a squeak as she crossed her legs which I am almost sure came from the chair.

“Spiders,” said I.

“Ah,” she said, as if this explained everything.

“POISONOUS!” reiterated Brian.

Cher brought out a table lamp from that curious bag she takes everywhere with her and the veranda was once again lit up. It was a full hour until we discovered where the power cord was going to. In the interim, we discussed the various flora and fauna of the Australian continent, and as to why most of it could fell an elephant with one bite. Cher, whereas, was watching her lamp, and the creatures that flapped towards it’s light.

“I’ve often wondered what moths do during the day,” she said.

We mulled this over for a moment; Cilla sucked on her teeth - a considerable feat, I’m sure you’ll agree – and ventured forth: “You mean like, do they watch Tricia and do the ironing?”

We all looked at her.

“I mean, moths are fond of light,” pressed Cher.

I gestured for her to go on – I still couldn’t get her point.

“So, do moths come out, look at the sun and go ‘Big fucking light bulb! Charge!’”

I raised an eyebrow, not because of her notion, but this was the first time ever I’d heard her swear. She’d obviously been hanging around with Angela Lansbury too much. In reflection, I kinda missed the old broad – while she was a handful at times, she did know how to party.

Sadly, no-one had seen Dame Aggie since Perth. There had been a 'Grab a Granny' dance in the next hotel's ballroom - unkindly nicknamed the 'Crisco Disco' - and she hadn't been back to her hotel room since Tuesday. Cilla had been bunking with her, and was agog when the Dame had dragged her 'pulling shawl' out of her suitcase and announced her intentions.

"So, chuck, are you sexually active?" asked the wide-eyed Liverpudlian songstress.

"Oh, I just tend to lie there," she cackled, and was off into the night.

That was five nights ago. We’d left a forwarding address with reception, and I quietly kept an eye on the news, but nothing.

“Perhaps it’s the same place that flies go to during winter,” said Judith, forcing me to pay attention. “Like a safe house.”

“’Ere, I’m more concerned what moths flew around before light bulbs,” said Cilla.

I accidentally shot a look at Cher, inviting her to answer, but she thankfully didn’t see me. I covered my fumble by ducking under the table and reaching into Cilla’s handbag to retrieve the other bottle of vodka she’d just slyly lifted off the table.

“The first electric light bulb was invented by Thomas Edison in 1879,” said Judith in perfect presenting tones. “He used a carbon filament in an oxygen-free bulb.”

An odd thought crossed my mind: I love you, Judith Hann. I decided it was time to get some air.

The front of the cabin looked up at a steep hill, the high trees obscuring most of the sky. It was times like this I wished I smoked; coming out her had left me nothing to do but pace idly with my hands in my pockets. I pondered on whether a visit to Brian’s house would be in order - I could hear his version of Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ being belted out over the otherwise still forest. The sound of which completely obscured the revving car engine; I only realized there was a vehicle heading towards me when it crashed through the trees and embedded itself in the garage wall.

I looked up from the bushes in which I had landed. I could hear ‘Xanadu’ coming from the car stereo, the slow ‘ping’ of a cooling engine and some rather out-of-place giggling.

Dame Angela Lansbury.

I had my theories that she was drunk when the car was returned. For one, there was a dent on the passenger side and a moose antler lodged in the roof-rack. Secondly, there was the smell of Big Macs on the inside, but whether she'd managed to eat it was another matter: lettuce simply coated the driver's seat. It was like she'd let a deranged rabbit drive. And I could barely see the road through the mayonnaise smeared across the windshield.

I grabbed her hand to pull her up, wincing as her numerous rings bit into my fingers. The thing with Dame Aggie is that she never appears drunk, just slightly less invincible to everyone but her.

“I’m not late, am I?” she asked.

I really didn’t know what to say, instead helped her through to the veranda at the back. It merely took the chorus of surprised ‘hello’s from the others for her to have found a clean glass from somewhere and to have pinched my seat.

“So, where did we get to, dears?” she asked.

“Spiders,” said Cilla.

“Moths,” corrected Cher.

“NOT POISONOUS!” yelled Brian, trying to be helpful. Three bats were so confused by the noise, they thumped into a tree.

Dame Aggie squinted one eye and tried to fix my gaze through her tumbler, as if it were a pair of opera glasses. “You do know where they go during the day, don’t you?” she asked.

We all leant forward.

“Oh, it’s very simple, dear,” she said. “They’re all having a party!”

We leant back again.

“No, it’s true,” she pursued. “Gallant parties, dressed to the nines, waltzing away in the tree bark,” she said.

“Are you sure?” asked Judith. Tonight was a night of firsts – I don’t think Judith, doyenne of technology, had ever asked a question before.

“Quite. They’re called moth balls.”

Later that evening, we suddenly discovered that there was no room in our cabin for Dame Aggie, and that her room had suddenly become both a) locked, and b) a broom cupboard. She was forced to spend the night in Brian’s cabin – something I wouldn’t wish on anyone really. And most certainly not with a hangover, no.

Ah. Happy days.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Dear Deirdre...

...I'm not a huge Stargate fan, but I seem to be watching it now it's on when I get home. Now, they've just offed that Michael Shanks to be a space fairy - as all main characters who leave a sci-fi series before the end must, by law, become - we've got a replacement in the form of Jonas Quinn. Some actor with the nicest arms I've seen.

So, I thought I'd pop on the web and find some pictures of my new found darling, as I do believe stalking to be a normal expression of love. Joy upon joys! He has an official website, and it had a welcome message just for me:

"Come along and together we can dream up the future!"

Hello, thought I. Me luck's changed.

Alas, as I read further ("I began the process of taking on this present physical form in February of 1971...") I have since realized he's an utter loon who is into Scientology.



He does have nice arms, though.

How can I make him love me without having to go into a desert every year and try and raise a buried space craft?

Yours truly,
Confused of Peckham Rye.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Old, Old Joke

Q. What’s got four legs and goes ssssssssssss?

A. Rod Hull’s TV

Monday, March 22, 2004

Glitter For Brains' World Tour! Part VII

Australia as a nation has a great problem with its self-image. As a nation, they are so benign and out-of-the-way that they hardly ever figure in the great global scheme. Despite this, each news item is contrived as a piece to puff out the chests of every Aussie to show their country is. The Columbia Shuttle disaster: never mind a glut of top scientists were wiped out in a super-heated fireball, no - seven Aussie spiders sent up for research also got obliterated. The way the news covered this you'd think these were Nobel Prize-winning arachnids, not a group of spiders found under a bucket somewhere.

One morn, the almost-entirely infomercial Good Morning Australia spent a good hour showing three or four crocodiles to the audience because shag-all else had happened in the news that day. The basic message was, 'Australia - hey. We have scary animals! But not much else going on'.

So, mayhaps it's the heat driving people to be lazy, as there’s nothing much to fuel the news. With no word of a lie, one evening the national news covered British terrorists being released from the US, the monstrous Dubya Bush trying to amend the Constitution to disallow gay marriage, and the one Aussie item being placed as the 'And finally...' bracket. And that was that a cat had got stuck up a ten-foot telephone pole.

I kid you not.

The following day, they devoted huge sections of the morning to declaring the joyous news of a b-list singing star finally making it over the equator. I pointed this out to the Wife over dinner, and he became quite indignant. "Dolly Parton has come to Perth," quoth he. "For two nights, I’ll have you know." Well, I know for a fact that this is untrue: the old girl merely sent over an old wig and a pair of inflatable waterwings and demanded that all opera glasses were removed from the auditorium.

Candidly, I think they have been running off the fumes of ABBA: The Movie for far too long.

Who Is It

So it is Christopher Eccleston. I have never been very good with double negatives in conversation.

Personally, I can’t stand the charlatan, which lead to an amusing incident outside a more salubrious gentleman’s club at 1am Saturday morning when the text came through. “Christopher fucking Eccleston!” I bellowed to the ensembled mass, alienating myself even further. They didn’t care: they had their swanky nightbusses and their burgers to comfort them.

While I can understand why he’s been employed, I have my resistances. One did rate him in his previous endeavours, until the scales fell from my eyes and I discovered him to be a one-scary-eyed-staring-I’m-mad-me-trick pony. Do calm it down, dear. And do try to be less northern – you can’t defeat the Daleks by nicking their wheels. And the Cybermen are allergic to gold, not that tat from Elizabeth Duke.

Still, I’m willing to give him a go. He was bearable in The Others (he hardly spoke) and I do recall him being quite good, once. Perhaps it will be a renascence for him.

But there are so many actors out there who could have been so wonderful. Why didn’t they go for someone older, mayhaps? There was one name banded around that would have been sublime, and we’ve had the action hero before with Paul McGann (for whom the fans of him are utterly spitting with rage that he’s not been asked back, by the way. It’s almost comical).

Besides. I love old people in action rolls. There’s an extra sense of danger to it all.

Plus, a really old Doctor Who would be fab: neither he, nor the Daleks, would be able to go up stairs.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Suckers!

The one thing I’ve noticed about vampires is they make for poor dinner guests. Trying to get a lighting scheme is almost impossible.

While my experience of the undead is somewhat limited, I can claim it to be better than most. My Evil Best Friend Declan and I made a pact that if we ever got turned, we’d come back for the other one – a deal that over time I’m more inclined to believe he’s welched on.

I did also know a coven of vampires in the next town over while I was living in the wilds of the Fens many years back. Though if you go as far as mentioning that you’ve invited some vampires to banquet whilst you are shopping in the village and all hell erupts. Poor Mrs Clathers got completely the wrong end of the stick (ho ho) whilst in the butchers and started flinging steaks at me, before running off yelling “Unholy! Unholy!” It’s her thing, and on the plus side, I did get some prize beef for dinner. I myself have never had a problem with People Of The Night (and most certainly not the Gentlemen of that ilk) and used to throw open my house annually for drinks and a niblette for the local clan. I do see it as good PR: not all vampires are omni-sexual velvet clad monsters, and some of them prove to be quite lovely. I can state clearly that not all vampires are pallid, drawn individuals that never come out during the daytime. If that were the rule, you drop Van Helsing onto a university campus and he’s going to explode.

Plus the catering is a little easier than one may think. It’s a little misnomer that vampires favour virgin human blood; cattle blood is far fattier, and thus taste sweeter. It’s like liquid sugar to them. Blood group Resus Nougat. The only drawback is that it does stay in the arteries, and bear in mind that a vampire’s metabolism slows down at the bicentennial; you’re going to start stacking on the weight if you’re not careful. Do stand up, Angel.

If you can.

But no, my only problem with vampires per se is that wherever they travel, there always seems to be a gaggle of bats around them, flitting around like Mariah Carey’s entourage - i.e. getting into your hair, right up your nose, and the into the light fittings. Oh, and weirdly turning your guacamole dip into guano. Lord Aramantle, one of my dinner guests, took great umbrage at my swinging a broom at the now-furry chandelier, and bellowed that I should “stop batting the bat!” It took us ten minutes for us to figure out what he was on about. This little social faux pas (a prelude to the greater one to come) did invite conference about the humble vampire bat, and Aramantle was understandably well informed. It seems the little critters don’t drink human blood, instead relying on cattle and horses in the balmy climates they live. Their bite is painless, yet their saliva does not carry any detectable anesthetic, and is proving to be a mystery as to why. “They can also drink up to 80% of their own body weight, and navigate by screeching blindly,” he said, imposing an impressed air.

My witty retort - that this was rather similar to any number of drunken EastEnders cast members favoured by the tabloids - was lost when dear Mama came into the room and proclaimed that it was too dark to see what was going on and threw open the drapes to reveal the dawn.

When the dust had literally settled, we were astonished to see my dinner guests had vanished. Frankly, it looked like the time we loaded Aunt Borqia’s ashes into the blunderbuss because she said she wanted to be scattered in her garden, and Cook accidentally nudged my arm while I was loading her up. This, of course, meant her final resting place was our rather disused dayroom. By the end of it, we couldn't tell what was her and what was the maid’s slack housekeeping.

Ah, well. Never mind.

Glitter For Brains' World Tour! Part VI

I have it on good authority that you’re no longer allowed to kill kangaroos. All pretty odd when you’ll often find kangaroo meat on the menu in some of the places that pass for restaurants.

Out of sheer curiosity I ordered it, thinking that, with the imposed hunting ban, it was either going to be ropey and old thanks to a graceful passing of old age, or have a tire mark right down the center of the steak.

What I can confirm was they weren't even slightly amused when I asked for 'Skippy'.

Never mess with a country's icons, I say.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

A Fabulous Letter

Dear Emma Bunton,

Your singing voice sounds like a zoo burning down. Tell us, when are you going to release your next single?

Yours, The Gays. xx

Glitter For Brains' World Tour! Part V

I was sold on the trip to Oz thanks to the tales of the deadly Redback spider. As a nation, Australia is such a barren, inhospitable place that all creatures there are either weirdly so cute so you wouldn't dream of harming it (c.f. quokkas), or poisonous beyond comprehension (c.f. Holly Valance). So while I was planning which fabulous hat to take with me, I was informed that there were indeed poisonous snakes and spiders out there, but you had simply ages to get to the hospital to get yourself drained should they bite. The dear Wife quoted the Redback as an example: should you get bitten, you get a leisurely ten hours to get to your local GP for the anti-venom. Why that's dinner and a movie before just popping along to the local All Saints Hospital (presumably presided over by Sisters Appleton and Appleton) for a little injection to sort yourself out.

All well and good. But it was while I was languishing on the grass in Sydney's glorious park did the Wife mention the Funnel-Web spider. Now this hairy beastie tends to hide in the grass and, if you get too near, they're going to sink their fangs into you. Forget ten hours – you get ten minutes to get an antidote until an untimely, painful death - or, to put it into perspective, a burger and a trailer.

Now, nature and I don’t really mix, what with me being an earth sign and all. My aunt was the same – well, not exactly. She had more a fear of the floor, really. Never got out of bed after the age of twenty-seven. She’d call me over to sit by her, and ask me to peer over the edge to see “whether it was still there...” I’d say yes, and she’d pull her bed jacket around her that little bit tighter.

I asked her why once, and she looked over her copy of the Puzzler sagely: “It’s not the fall that kills you, but the ground at the bottom” like this would explain it all.

But. Spiders. Even the Wife didn’t dare tell me about the White-Tail spider until I was over there: this one doesn’t really have an antidote, and just makes you very, very sick for around two years. Fairs be, you’re thinking – why don’t you just avoid their habitat? Well, yes, you would, until you discover they like hiding clothes, and linen. You’re more likely to find this spider down the end of your bed than in the potting shed. I mean, I’m sure you agree that’s not just malicious, that’s taking the piss.

Surely they don’t need that poison to kill flies, do they? I mean, something that can fell a cow to exterminate a couple of flies for dinner smacks somewhat of overkill. So, in the interests of human-arachnid relations, I propose an amnesty where they give all their excess deadly toxins in they don’t really need – a sort of Good Fly-Day Agreement.

Or we could just squash the bastards, I suppose.


Lord – when did I become a US Repulican?

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

A Fabulous Letter

Dear Sandra Bullock,

What are you doing now? We do miss your kooky yet lovable characters that are perfect for Saturday afternoon matinees.

Love, The Gays. xx

Glitter For Brains' World Tour! Part IV

It appears that it is the job of my dear Wife to elevate me out of the pop culture jungle I am usually swinging around; a month without him and all I could talk about was Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s fab aunts. To which end, it was with glorious keenness that I left LA to see him again, mainly as I couldn’t wait for him to rub off on me once again. Take that as you will.

Well, within twenty-four hours he had enabled me to have twelve hours sleep, we had engaged in some top-notch, um, ‘physical activity’ and had taken in a rather wonderful museum exhibit on Man Ray. Half way around the globe, all was right with the world. I was having great sex in fabulous, expensive-looking locales. My life had finally turned into the porn film I craved.

I hail from the heart of the Black Country, he is from a tiny place outside Perth. And you would think never the twain could meet. Yet, here we were, traveling by plane from the fabulously metropolitan Sydney to see his folks in the somewhat more compact Perth. As the plane descended over the desolate landscape, I finally got to see where the love of my life grew up; in all honesty, I had never seen such a brown-tinted landscape in the whole of my life. Brown, and various shades thereof, broken by scrubs of vindictive-looking trees. Perth is one of the most isolated cities in the world, and you have to ask yourself whether this was due to locale or choice.

I examined the wasteland with dubious eyes: "This is where you grew up? It's very... spartan."

The Wife lowered his in-flight magazine. As usual, he’d actually managed to find something worthwhile in it, reading a detailed feature on the native land. Every time I opened it, all I could find was the Duty Free jewelry section – and spent all my browsing time pondering 'who do I actually hate enough to buy that for?' Anyway:

"Whatever do you mean?"

"Well. Scrub land. Brown. Manky-looking trees. Your paintings in junior school must have been laugh-a-minute."

He sniffed and looked at me. "And yours were better? 'Now children, here's three pots of gray. Let's paint the Industrial Revolution.'"

Monday, March 15, 2004

The Joys of Being In The Right Place At The Wrong Time

By simply standing near enough jiggling BBC people, I do believe I know who they have cast as the all-new Doctor Who. How very exciting! The actual casting event happened on Friday, and of course the news is leaking out slowly over water-coolers all across the corporation. You want to keep a secret there, tell it to the publicity department.

Well, if it’s who the rumours say it is, how utterly marvellous. At least it won’t be that God-awful short-listed Christopher Eccleston, a gentleman who’s acting style seems to be a singular attempt to stare out the camera. Pish and tish, sir! You wouldn’t have even been allowed in The RADA cafĂ© in my day!

One’s thoughts turn to the companion. According to some Sunday rag, they’re going after Billie Piper, after her surgical removal from some ginger cancer. Declan harrumphed at this: “At least we could call her ‘Chaz Time Rotor’” said he.

Glitter For Brains' World Tour! Part III

It was a simple joy to have Gertie traveling with me for the first leg of my journey, although I was secretly thankful that he was on another plane out to LA. Yes, I’ve seen what he’s like on trains. On a plane, there’s nowhere for the boys to escape to without a parachute, and he’s probably already stolen them all to make some garishly coloured trousers anyway.

In LA, it finally felt where we belonged, sunning ourselves surrounded by boys and sunshine, me eyeing the cocktail menu, he eyeing the cock. But there should have been more drinking, and more dancing than there was. Regular-shaped readers will know insomnia is the bane of my existence, now blending with the jet-lag into an unholy alliance to surpass Sam & Mark (the boils on pop that they are). Gertie was fine – managing to get off each night with ease. Not with men, oddly: by day three he confided that he was backed up so far, Dyna-rod would have to come and relieve him. It was highly amusing to see him openly gape at the topless male go-go dancers at some bar we were in: I’d never seen anyone so utterly titnotized.

By the fifth day in LA, the hours I was keeping were such a mystery that I awoke at 5am, and decided in my dream-like state it would be a wonderful idea to follow the sunrise over Santa Monica Boulevard. A lovely idea hampered to an unfortunate gymnasium injury I received the previous day; my left foot was now a little worse for wear, and I only really noticed the damage after I had been walking for a good seven miles and was now standing next to Angela Lansbury's Broadway star. It looked as tarnished as her reputation, to be frank. Still, this unforeseen exercise had now given me a rather exotic limp that was bound to get the boys flocking.

I returned to the hotel to rouse my travel-mates, eager for breakfast companions. Gertie appeared at his door after many knocks, sheepish and clad in a pair of shorts so loud they were drowning out the excitable yells of the gentlemen taking full advantage of the hotel's 'hourly charge sheet'. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of Gertie's company in one was or another (a number dwindling so fast it must be index-linked to the number of Giant Pandas in captivity) the best way to describe his mannerisms is akin like Hugh Grant's affable bumbling. Just at the point he was arrested sitting next to Divine Brown. Anyway:

"Breakfast," announced I.

"Ah. Er. oh," mumbled he.

"Pancakes. And coffee. Lots thereof. Come on."

"Ah. Mm. Oof," he fluttered, pulling the door to behind himself. "I, er, um, have company."

Eyebrows were raised. "And some balloons," he said, with genuine confusion.

I left him to it. It was revealed that the boy was from Toronto and the result of a 2am bin-scrape at one of the local bars. And it went some way to explain the comment he hissed through the door on my second barrage of knocking: "Bugger off! I'm in Canada!" This I had merely put that down to the dream he was having. I left them to it without further comment; no, the opportunities to make Mountie jokes all day were just too delicious to contemplate.

But, as it turned out, both of us walked with a limp that day.

* * *

Gertie does like to out-do me. Well, equally, I like to out-do him, so it balances. For the three weeks I had been absent, we would have been collating more and more outrageous stories to regale to each other down the pub, in the hope that one or the other would finally drop their packet of Walkers and go “No, you didn’t!” This is how it was, and this is how it will be in eternum.

I was convinced that I held a full hand this time, until I discovered what’s been going on in my absence. The poor love has been in hospital with meningitis; I finally got to see him just after the utterly distressing lumber-puncture. There was still blood on the floor.

Fortunately, he’s not going to die, but I’m sure you’ll all wish him a speedy recovery.

Me? I’m just gutted that the little sod has beaten me once again.

WigWatch Season Three

“…And if you follow me with the umbrella, I’m going to take you through from the kitchen. Now this used to be the lounge of the Peckham Palace, former home of your fabulous ruler, Lee Binding. And here – that’s it, come in close – on the sofa, you can see the place where he literally wet himself with excitement during the first episode of Alias Season Three where Sydney Bristow blew up a car with nothing more than a flare gun and a fab wig…”

Friday, March 12, 2004

Glitter For Brains' World Tour! Part II

Over the last four weeks, I have been in five hotel rooms, one log cabin, and in the spare beds of at least two of the Wife's friends. They do say that travel broadens the mind, but they never warned how many free toothbrushes you will accumulate.

First off was the hotel of this dolly old Doctor Who convention in LA, for which Linda Gray had clearly hijacked the expected delivery of glamour in a drive-by earlier that morning. What there was remaining was plainly taken by the big-haired waitress called Mari-Ellen (yee-haw!) who worked in the gauche Tiki Lounge of a bar; she was one of those that called a spade a spade, had nails like talons, and hair so dangerously large you winced every time she wandered under a ceiling fan.

When I had first checked in, they made great play of the fact I would be getting a spa in my room. But what they didn't say was that the spa was an enormous hot tub that wasn't in the bathroom, but was right next to the bed. And surrounded by oddly-smeared mirrors. Well, I did appreciate the thought, though they were two years and one relationship too late for me to actually use it for what it was clearly intended. Indeed, when you turned the air conditioning off, you could hear the low, ghostly moans of waitresses trying to get a film career.

Oh, and it was filthy. Not just in sheer tacky atmosphere, but in cleanliness. I had a go at filling the blessed thing once only to find the plughole blocked, and there is not enough money in the world to make me find out by what alien matter. Gertie took a scant glance over to it on a visit, and asked me whether I woke and expected to find the cold body of a dead whore in it.

Well, I didn't. But then I did.

Meeting celebs in such hotel surroundings seemed merely a happy side effect after the wonders of the deadly whirlpool. I'd already decided to make star guest Susannah Harker my New Best Friend, and gaily sidled up to her in the Green Room after she'd wandered in enveloped in a jet-lagged fug. I insisted she tried the donuts, and complemented her odd green jacket. She said that she thought it was sufficiently sci-fi (bless her) and wandered off even more befuddled, like she'd just been ravaged by tinsel.

And, later, the oddest thing: I bumped into the slightly batty Janet Fielding (she played the Aussie air hostess companion Tegan Jovanka, dear Not-We). She seems a force of nature that is wise to fear, so I tended to pussyfoot around her until one afternoon when we happened to be in the Green Room together. She stared at me for a full two minutes with narrowed eyes until she announced, "You're the artist, aren't you?"

There was no inflection in her voice at all. I had no idea whether she wanted to hug me or kill me.

I said that I was. And here's the weird thing: we chatted for at least another few minutes, and I have no recollection as to what we discussed. The woman's got powers, I tells ya.

As the convention wound down, Gertie and I made our escape to somewhere a little more up-market (and certainly closer to the areas frequented by Men Who Are Good Listeners). This was certainly a good thing as a) I'd forgot the look of every other colour except brown, and b) I'd actually decided to use the spa, but hadn't filled it up enough, causing the jets to fire a high-powered stream of water at the far wall. Fortunately the room already smelled of damp and sleaze before I had my accident, so we escaped into the night with our lives - and our deposits - intact.

Sunday Night's Alright For Fighting

WARNING! Contains Alias Season Two Spoilers!

I'm sure you all know where I'm going to be upon this Lord's day of rest. Yes, the wigs they based a show around - Alias - will be back on our screens for more high-kicking, silly-plotted action. Last we left Sydney Bristow, she'd woken up in an alley, smelling of piss, and having lost time. And for some reason, in the Alias universe, this is unusual.

One really must curb one's drinking.

Anyway. Dear old Declan and I were musing on what?s happened in the two years she's been missing. Well, it's obvious: she went to another Project Helix lab, got a make-over into a podgy teenage strumpet called Britney and filmed the music video to 'Toxic'.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Glitter For Brains' World Tour! Part I

The most horrific thing about aeroplanes is not the fear of the wing falling off. Nor is it the mystery worthy of Jonathan Creek where they bring you menus describing delicious pasta and lamb dishes that are somehow stolen in this tight, enclosed box and substituted by brownish gruel in a tiny foil-wrapped bowl. By far worse than this is being squeezed next to indignant old people for fourteen hours.

Meet Martha and George, as I did, on the 14-hour journey from Singapore to London, the coda to my fabulous world trip. They were not travelling together, but had already bonded over the drugs they were taking and the fact that they had both requested the isle seat. That I had also requested and got.

Now, I do enjoy the isle seat. I enjoy the freedom. It’s a statistical fact that there’s a wailing infant somewhere on the plane, so I take the opportunity to travel to first class and prod the tike up there while everyone is asleep. The stewards don’t mind; they are in the galley enjoying a good toke on the top-notch ganja they scored in Japan. I also enjoy the nominal leg room the isle seat offers. Both Martha and George had been through the boil wash that all old people go through and were now a compact five-foot-two apiece. They didn’t need the isle seat, they just like complaining about it, with Martha going the full gamut and ordering ‘special meals’ because she couldn’t be bothered with the inedible slop they were feeding us, instead getting other inedible slop and thinking she’s special.

So. She tutted and fussed, and George made a great show about his leg seizing up simply because he couldn’t put it out in the isle to be run over by the duty free trolley. “You’re a strapping young lad,” said Martha, pointedly, which was the obvious point I was meant to immediately relinquish this possession, scatter some rose petals on the lumpy seat and usher onto her new throne.

“Why thank you very much,” said I. “I do like to work out,” and gave her my best winning smile that would hopefully remind her of her grandson. You know, the one that never married and decorated his whole house himself.

In retrospect, the whole thing was thoroughly ridiculous. It was becoming like an Italian turf war, over something so trivial. But as you’re cramped into this death-defying tube at 30,000 feet, somehow what little space you have becomes frighteningly important. From Martha and George, the resentment came in waves. So I hunkered down, popped on some headphones and listened to some classical music - at which point the war took a dirty turn. Martha did something that I initially thought was below her from the semi-cordial chat we had at the commencement of the flight. She played the incontinence card.

Every thirty minutes, she tapped me brusquely on the shoulder like the pecking sparrow she so resembled, and announced ‘I need to go again’. Be it in the middle of a movie, or – criminally – during meal times, up I had to somehow get to let the old battleaxe past so she could split the whiskers. The finer points of Rowan Atkinson’s over-egged ‘comic’ performance in Love Actually were lost to me as the duration was spent letting Martha get enough space to manoeuvre her squat little frame to the toilet.

And the whole time she’d been there, there had been a very familiar smell emanating from her; a sweet, cloying odour that clung to the back of the throat. I later recognised it on her fifth trippette as a feminine hygiene product - mainly because it had failed completely by this point. And with Martha being completely unable to ‘dab the lettuce’ on her exit from the toilet, she was beginning to smell very ‘little old lady’. Add to this the way she stayed sitting in my chair a lot longer than she had to before shuffling herself along, and the dirty tricks were now in full force. Well, one simply has to fight back, and I called in my last resort. Before I had left, Sue had given me a variation on tamazapan to take in the hope of actually getting some sleep on an airplane. Oh bliss, if I took it, I’d be out like a light for at least two hours. You wouldn’t be able to move me, rouse me or prod me awake.

I just waited until she’d had the fifth cup of tea from her thermos, strapped on my sequined eye-mask and popped it.

I stirred just under an hour and a half later, gradually becoming aware of a pain in my shoulder as if I’d been attacked by a woodpecker. I languishly raised my eye-mask and looked at my watch.

“Oh, thank goodness!” came the sotto voice beside me. “Any longer and I would have had to have used this bottle!”

My eyelids drooped again, with the tazzie swilling around for a second go. A second kick of the warm and fuzzy feeling, and I slowly pulled down my eye-mask once again. Just five more minutes.

Oh, just five more minutes.

“Do You Come From A Land Down Under?”

Well, I’m back. You can start celebrating… now.