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

Friday, September 30, 2005

Sibling Rivalry

We're a godless bunch now Dame Kylie is currently out of action.

It's all rather like that village in the Indiana Jones film; without our icon, our crops will fail and our water runs muddy. The swivel-headed gays in London's trendy London just don't know who to pray to, and chaos is reigning supreme in the clubs. Crime is on the up, morale is down, and no-one can stuff balloons up their top without feeling some sort of remorse.

Which is why we should be more vigilant to any pretenders to her glittering throne.

Oh, we've seen off Lisa Scott-Lee, and I personally winged Rachel Stevens with a bullet down Tesco car-park, but this week the threat comes from a more insidious source: Dame Kylie's very own sibling, Dannii. Now, we're never one to cast aspersions - but that is because we are gay and couldn't throw if there was a signed key to Liza Minelli's medicine cabinet as a prize. But is it a coincidence that her Lady Macbeth of a sister has suddenly geared up to do some disco tracks of her own while Dame K has to suffer the indignity of headscarves?

Perhaps leading one to believe perhaps Dame K isn't sick at all, and that filthy Dannii merely stapled a pickle onion into the inside of her sister's bra?

Look at her. Look at a still from her latest video. Cast ye eyes over the pretender to the throne. And Take Against Her.

Boo!

Thankfully, the track is rather asinine, so should slip down the back of the DJ booth without a stir. Dame Kylie's place is secure, the gays are happy and all will be merry down Old Compton Street.

Sigh.

Perhaps we're reading a little too much into it. How could the woman we accuse be tending her ill sister and then go on to plan world disco domination? I mean, how silly would you be to try and take her place while she is ill?

She couldn't really be trying to take Kylie's place, could she?

(looks back at video)

Could she?

It's A Snood Off!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Another Bite of the Apple

I think I've made my feelings about Apple products quite clear. While I applaud their notion of a nicely put-together package that looks good and goes with anything, it just never works. A bit like Jude Law.

Although I was thoroughly delighted to get an iPod for my birthday, in an overwhelmingly generous move by one of my favourite people on this world of ours. He got me an American one, which means it plays everything with a slight 'Neuw-Yawk' twang. But I've started to love it as the perfect emissary from that pitch-perfect utopia of Apple.

Well, until I dropped it. And it refused to talk to me, churlishly playing only Lulu for a full hour while it sulked. Which was no bad thing, ultimately

So I decided to bite the bullet and get a protective case for it, going into that very den of plastic iniquity, the Apple Store on Regents Street. Goodness. What a hideous place. They spent over two million pounds on it, and it looks like the inside of a new oven.

And the clientele are just mad. Every single one of them, wandering around with their white iPod earphones in, dazed and meandering through to each piece of equipment, emotionlessly coveting each ergonomic, wipe-clean piece of kit. Every one of them looking like they're receiving instructions from a higher power.

(shudder)

We are the Borg.
 

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Cardiff Calling

Everyone in Wales has a story about Charlotte Church. And mostly centred around the time they've come out of a club at 2am to find the angelic songstress of the Valleys her having a go at some nameless girl who accidentally copped a look at her boyfriend.

Of course, they may be unintentionally mistaken. After all, every girl from the Cardiff area can punch with their left hand while still holding their pint steady with their right, so it is very easy to get mixed up.

The Welsh are a very proud people, and speak of their Charlotte with glowing dignity ("Not like that traitorous Shirley Bassey!" spat one cab driver. I wasn't inclined to get the full story there; he had terrible acne on the back of his neck, and I had to bite my finger and stare out of the window just to remain conscious). No, Charlotte is a good Welsh girl, who's no stranger to Chip Alley, I can tell you.

Oh yes, Chip Alley. A place so famous it even gets a mention on the Wales tourist site. It seems to be the very passage mentioned in the fabled 'right of passage' and you just can't be accepted in Wales unless you've staggered down the rancid path of kebabs and burgers at closing time, clutching the wall and demanding chips in every doorway you pass. It is row upon row of fast food places that heaves (in more than one sense of the word) at closing time. They've apparently done it all up lately, probably as the collected bile over the years had melted the paving slabs. It looks quite nice now. And the residents have taken to calling it La Boulevard de Pomme Frites.

In Welsh, of course.
 

Monday, September 26, 2005

In Which I Return

I'm not sure when the hotel cleaner and I declared war on each other, but it had soon escalated to Def-Con 3.

For my part, I believe my be-dustered adversary took umbrage when I stuffed the complimentary bible in a drawer on my first night. One never sleeps well next to religious texts (I have to be at least fifteen foot from my Fortnam and Mason's catalogue, lest I have fitful nights dreaming about the perfect table layout over and over...) so had slammed it in the drawers of the tall boy and completely forgotten about it.

Until the following day, when I arrived back to find it returned to the side of my bed. And my towels hadn't been refreshed.

Now, I could understand this behaviour in some of your lower-star guest houses I've had the misfortune of frequenting in my youth; rooms that may or may not have been paid for by the hour. But this was different. The BBC had put me up in a four star hostelry, gym and mini-bar inclusive (bless you, unwitting licence payers! Bless you all!) so one expects the towels to be fresh and your pillows to be plumped by a willing bell-hop each morn! And not the shabby attentions of a disgruntled functionary.

So, on the second day, I pointedly left the towels all over the apartment, and turned the thermostat down to the lowest setting - a childish notion, but I thought it would, at the very least, get the petulant creature hoovering a little harder to get warmer.

Upon my return, the bible was back, the towels were still not refreshed, and the thermostat was set to its highest setting. War was, indeed, declared.

Over the following days, things dallied on. I stole some pencils, they didn't replace the shower gel. Tit for tat, until a master stroke from my unnamed nemesis on the night before I was due to leave. I returned to my room to find the bible back in its usual place, yes. But on the carefully arranged magazine stack, a copy of 'Ladies First' had appeared! A rag claiming to offer 'Everything a stylish girl needs to know this summer!' - and gladly left open at the page of the handbags!

As we all know, this can be taken as a rather alarming slight at ones sexuality. I'd like to exclaim 'how did they guess?!' but there were more skincare products than Boots in the bathroom, and I'd taken to replacing the bible with a copy of 'Sindy Magazine' each morn.

Well. If they can go around, taking the mickey out of being a Gentleman Who Owns The Golden Girls On DVD like that, it was time to bring out the big guns. So it was by a happy coincidence that I'd happened to have gone for a rather violent curry that very evening. And in the rush to check out in the morning, flushing that ungodly, pebble-dashed bowl completely slipped my mind...



ADDENDUM
Huge thanks to my guest blogger for the fortnight, young Mr Ian Atkins of this parish. A marvellous job all round, I'm sure you'll agree. Thank you, Ian, you marvellous thing.
 

Friday, September 23, 2005

Addendum

Just wanted to say a quick thank you for everyone who put up with this interloper standing in for the wonderful Lee. Mr Binding will be back from holiday on Monday just like Richard and Judy, which presumably means he'll be staggering around flashing his tits at everyone while stealing anything that's not nailed down. Allegedly.

The Adventure of the More-Final-Than-Last-Time Problem

At atmosphere of gloom and foreboding had spread its evil shadow across our Los Angeles lodgings. Worse, much worse, than the after-effects of Holmes entering the LA All-You-Can-Eat Curry Competition, there was a sense of death in the air. Well, actually, not that much worse, frankly there's not much between them, but it was that sort of thing. Oppressive, dangerous, and with a whiff of cardamom.

I had seen little of Holmes this week as my practice kept me busy. I was rehearsing for a small part in Chicago, though my agent felt a understudy role in Alabama was more likely. But it seemed that in my absence, a fatal confrontation had started between Holmes and his downstairs neighbour Miss Jane Austen.

I understand that it began last Monday, when - as happens on occasion - Holmes was consulted by a number of representatives of the LAPD. Seeing so many policemen running up her stairs made Miss Austen think it was a drugs raid and she blocked the building's entire sewage system when flushing the sort of stash that normally requires two fields in Afghanistan, a good hot summer, and a combine-harvester to put together. This being the day after the curry competition meant that this did not sit well with Holmes (well, nothing did that day - he was on a rubber ring all weekend) and he was the most vocal of the Residents' Association in having Miss Austen fined. She in turn was furious that the police presence was to do with Holmes and that she'd flushed away half a tonne of Al Hazzarad's finest wacky weed for no reason.

The next morning, Holmes came back into the kitchen from having fetched the morning paper. He was covered in smoke and dog-poop.

'Good Lord, Holmes!' I ejaculated. I stood, mortified, covered in self-custard, before getting a cloth to mop myself up with. It transpired that Miss Austen had used the old paper-bag-on-fire trick, one of which the Victorian detective was unaware. His tweeds were ruined and he was distinctly furious: 'Of course, you realise Watson, that this means war'. I heard that later that day Miss Austen had sprained her ankle upon falling into a bear-trap baited with a banoffi pie. I assumed that would be an end to the matter. How sadly wrong I was.

And so it was that Holmes returned that night from an exhaustive search through the city for an evil drug dealer - or indeed anyone who had a supply of medicine for what the Master Detective described as "the Madras quickstep" - to discover that his door had been superglued shut. Although there was no evidence to link her to the crime, Holmes used his deductive powers to their full capacity and located a small DIY store who identified our neighbour Miss Austen as the purchaser of eighteen tubes of SuperFix and something called a Mrs Golightly Happy Trembler.

Holmes made a purchase of his own in the shop, and that night we watched Miss Austen present almost an hour of the Emmys on NBC before someone in the Bible Belt spotted that her microphone had been substituted with one of Mrs Golightly's finest and that the woman had effectively felated her way through Best Male, Best Male Performance, and Best Supporting Member of Cast.

We had six hours of the mad woman trying to get into our apartments after that and I wanted to call the police, but Holmes indicated this was a battle he must face on his own. He opened the door, and was at once hit with a flurry of blows. This Jane Austen is a positive dervish when her dander's up. Holmes retaliated by poking Miss Austen up the nose with his violin bow and followed through with a couple of punches that the Master Detective, a studied pugilist, had made his trademark. They would have floored a lesser person not fuelled on vengeance, adrenaline and speedballs. Miss Austen is obviously an exponent of the Three Stooges Combat Discipline as she proceeded to deliver a two-fingered eye poke, a knee in the groin, a swinging fist to the back, and a deft pirouette accompanied with the battle-cry of a "Yuk yuk yuk".

Never before have I seen people fight with such viciousness and hatred - and I speak whereof I know as I was at the First Day Sales at McGringles this year. Punch after punch, kick after kick, all relentlessly delivered. There was of course screeching, scratching and hair-pulling and at times Miss Austen fought quite hard as well. This rolling ball of combat smashed from room to room, hurtling out of the fire escape door and up onto the roof.

I remained in our chambers, rooted to the spot, as the thundering footsteps from above spoke of a climactic battle. And it was then that I heard the scream. It was a high-pitched scream, but that didn't necessarily mean it was Miss Austen, as when there's a spider in his room Holmes can give out a yell that sends bats flying into walls for a three-mile radius.

But then a blur plummeted past the window; the shape of someone undoubtedly falling to their death. There was a thud; the sound of someone undoubtedly falling to their death. And then there was a splat; the sound of someone undoubtedly dropping their cheese on toast on the carpet. Conchita our cleaner would give me merry hell for that when she gets back from her hols.

It was with a numb feeling that I turned to the opening fire escape door.

A shadow fell across the threshold.

It was-

[Cue freezeframe and end titles.]

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Adventure of the Dead Postmen

While Holmes has battled a veritable league of villainy in the past - one could consider Colonel Sebastian Moran, Irene Adler, Magnus Greel, and of course Professor Moriarty and his henchman Mini Moriarty - it seems he has a new foe here in 2005. Initially we believed that the slumped bodies of postmen in our stairwell were the work of our neighbour Miss Austen who has a voracious sexual appetite and - from what we hear through the floorboards - her own dungeon, range of electrical appliances, and a standing account with a petshop.

However it became clear that a more diabolical genius was at work, a criminal so cruel they could pull the wings off a fly, steal from a blind man, or start up a Reality TV show. As the days went on, the dead postmen started to pile up, and Holmes' impressive intelligence was stumped.

'I'm stumped, Watson,' he said this morning. See, I told you.

All the Master Detective could deduce were that these men came from a variety of locations, had a variety of peccadilloes (a South American rodent, I understand, frequently bought in the same pet shop Miss Austen patronises), had differing marriage arrangements and social lives, and that the only thing they had in common was their employment by the Los Angeles Postal Service. Had some overstressed maniac gone on a killing spree targeting only postmen? Oh the irony.

We took a horse-drawn carriage to the central postal office, where they were holding their frequent festivities - presumably you will have heard of the amount of LAPS dances available in Los Angeles? - and demanded to see Mr S. Macintosh McCrotchity, the head of the Los Angeles Post Service. It was only as this wrinkled kilted old man arrived that Holmes got a gleam in his eye and leaned forward like a eagle about to swoop onto its prey. A past-it eagle with a paunch who's let itself go a bit, but an eagle nonetheless.

'Ah, Mr S McCrotchity,' said the Master Detective. 'I hope you can help us.'

'Och aye ma wee laddie, ma friends call me Stereotype.'

'Nonetheless, I hope you can help us. Or else I will be forced to tell Angela D'Bourneville that your fishing trips to Kelly Brook are merely a front to conceal your badger-smuggling operations.'

McCrotchity's face paled alarmingly, and it was clear Holmes' sharp words had found their mark. 'Good Lord, Holmes!' I ejaculated. I stood, spattered like a plasterer's shoes, before going to get something to clean myself up with.

'It is elementary, Watson,' Holmes said. 'Mr McCrotchity is holding his left arm in the manner of someone with an injury which I judge to be consistent with one who frequently hauls badgers from their holes.'

'Och noooo...' said McCrotchity, 'It's simply RSI from too much wanking, ye ken.'

'But... The fishing trips? The smuggling?' I asked in bewilderment.

'Och aye, the noo, he's right about all that.'

We both looked to Holmes in amazement, but the Great Detective was already violating the fire regulations of eight different states by lighting up his pipe. It normally takes eight matches, an arc-welding torch, and a good run-up, but he managed adequately. In between puffs of blue pollution, Holmes interrogated McCrotchity.

'McCrotchity, I am afraid I see no evidence of intellect about you. I believe you are merely a puppet to an evil mastermind who has nothing less than my destruction in his mind. You will give me his name, or I will go hard on you.'

'Or it will go hard for you,' I corrected.

Holmes looked at me under his hooded eyes. 'You do it your way, Watson, and I'll do it mine, thank you very much.'

Either way, the poor man was terrified. 'Och aye the noo laddie, I'll give you the name ye seek, och, the engines cannae takit cap'ain-' At that moment he sat upright with a jerk, and with an exclamation of 'Great Stanley Baxter's Hogmany Special!' he slumped dead. A first class letter from England was embedded between his shoulder blades. We returned to our quarters where we pushed past the ever increasing pile of rubbish sacks outside the building and then slipped quietly over the pressure pads Miss Austen has installed to warn her of our presence so that she can come out and complain incessantly.

Holmes broke open a packet of plain chocolate hob nobs and looked at me. 'If you don't mind, Watson, I wish to cogitate alone.'

'I should think so too, Holmes! I mean, last time I got absolutely covered in-'

'Cogitate, man, cogitate.'

'Oh, sorry, I misheard you.' I went out for a enjoyable evening and returned to find that Holmes had gone, on the trail, no doubt, of this murderous fiend. He didn't reappear until the following morning when I discovered that he had apparently been to a Village People themed party.

Holmes seemed somewhat put out when I voiced my thoughts. 'It's the uniform of a postman, man!' he admonished. I pretended to agree with him, even though I knew that the bushy droopy moustache and the peaked cap were certainly not in the dress code of any postal organisation I was aware of. And frankly he's the first postman I've seen in rubber chaps, but then I never lived in King's Cross, so...

'I have solved the case,' he sighed, slumping into a chair. 'And it is a tale of unimaginable evil and debauchery.'

My blood ran cold. 'You mean you've had to deal with the Abbey National Enquiries Service?!'

'Ah Watson, I see that you have finally read my trifling monograph on Evil Criminal Organisations. Yes, for it was they. It would appear that ever since my disappearance, an Abbey National office located at 221B Baker Street has been accepting male for me.'

'You mean "mail" don't you?' I asked with narrowed eyes. Holmes scowled and wished he worked in radio rather than the written word.

'Yes, that's what I said. In nearly one hundred years they've had to devote eight warehouses and build a new town - Milton Keynes I believe it is called - to house this correspondence. Now that they have learned of my return, they have started to forward this prodigious amount of postage to me, resulting in the tragic deaths of a number of overweight postmen.'

'But how can you possibly put an end to this, Holmes?'

'Ah, my dear Watson, the solution is simplicity itself. I have already informed the US government that an Al Qaeda cell is housed within Milton Keynes. It will be bombed flat by morning.'

'What?! But Holmes! Won't there be thousands and thousand of complaints?'

Holmes broke open another packet of hob nobs. 'Yes, you'd have thought so, wouldn't you?' he mused.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Case of the Long-Missing Case

I came down to breakfast one morning last week to discover the Great Detective with what appeared to be a stick of chalk shoved into his left nostril.

'Good Lord, Holmes!' I ejaculated. I stood, ashamed, looking like the eye witness of a hand grenade explosion in a mayonnaise factory, before nipping off to mop myself up. Holmes affected to not know what I was talking about, and continued to read the Times while wheezing around the chalk sticking out of his hooter. And so it was that I was given a little mystery of my own to solve, one that I was able to eventually get to the bottom of by using some keen deductions, intelligent insights, and reading the delivery docket I found on the table in the hall.

It seems that Holmes left behind some effects that had only just this morning been delivered from London. The chalk was all that remained of a 95-year old stash of cocaine which he'd left in a test tube and which over the years had effectively fossilised. Holmes had clearly given up on getting it into a vein and so was currently hoping that it would eventually dissolve up his nose. I heard him an hour ago trying it on the cheese grater in the kitchen and I would imagine from the ensuing strange twang and his foul mood that he didn't meet with success; and that I'm going to have to visit the Kitchen Store again tomorrow; and that we won't have cheese on toast for breakfast until I do so.

Another of the items recovered from Holmes' past is another of his accursed violins. This time it is a sleek piece of woodcraft by some designer called Rimbaldi. Frankly this instrument seems to have the devil in it as I've distinctly caught it glowing when the morning sun hits it at a certain angle, and if that wasn't eldritch enough, Holmes can actually get a tune out of it which makes it unique amongst all fiddles. Last night I went to my bed with the sounds of Holmes only halfway through his medley of great show tunes. The sound of the Master Detective slaughtering Hello Dolly is not something to hear on a full stomach, let me assure you.

However, since this violin arrived in the apartment, the place has been the focus of a remarkable amount of attention. Not only have we now made the acquaintance of our neighbour Miss Austen - who came to complain about the noise at four in the morning and was seen off when Holmes sneezed and shot her in the face with the chalk rod - but I keep running into young women in horrendous wigs and near-fetish gear hanging about the place. In recent days I have become sure it is the same woman, who is seemingly under the impression that eight different coloured versions of the same wig turn her into a veritable mistress of disguise. On a few occasions I've seen this woman in the company of a garishly dressed African American who I can only assume is her pimp.

My second-worst encounter with this wig-woman was last Tuesday when I came home from the grocery store, trudging laden up the stairs, only to look up as I was about to enter Holmes' quarters. The wretched woman was there, suspended from the ceiling by some gizmo tomfoolery. She looked at me. I looked at her. She looked at me again. 'Turned out nice again, hasn't it?' she said. 'Get out you harridan,' I replied.

I raised this with Holmes, explaining my suspicions that we were being targeted by some demented streetwalker. Holmes thought about it before speaking: 'Before you curse someone, Watson, you should walk a mile in their shoes.' Pausing only to reflect that walking a mile in that woman's shoes would results in broken ankles all round, I realised that this was simply Holmes indulging his foot fetish again. Another of the items recovered from the past were a pair of Irene Adler's stilettos, and I've caught him on more than one occasion doing things with them that put the 'cobblers' into 'shoes'. Literally.

The worst time with this woman was yesterday morning. I had had a disturbed night and spent much of it tossing fitfully in my bed. The clock had just struck six when I thought I heard a noise in the living room and so I went to investigate. I discovered that an interloper had nobbled Holmes - well, glued a stick to his head from which a pair of Manolo Blahniks dangled on a string causing him to run in tight circles, giggling, unaware of his surroundings. Which meant I was the only one to realise we had visitors: that wretched woman again, playing a tug-of-war with the Rimbaldi violin with two other women. From the curses they hurled at each other, I gathered these others were her mother and great-grandmother. Whatever the family link, they certainly fought like alleycats and ignored my presence utterly. Eventually the oldest figure beat the others to death with the violin and stepped back shrieking, "At last the Rimbaldi Death Machine is mine!" at which point she fell over the fire escape door and straight down eighty feet.

She had dropped the violin, in which I discovered that a secret compartment had been opened which revealed the true usage of this device. It is a form of automatic corkscrew, and I've been using it ever since that moment to get absolutely paralytic on Holmes' collection of 90-year-old fruit vodkas, hoping to drown out the sound of Miss Austen banging on the ceiling below.

Holmes is still running in circles, the precious shoes just out of reach. I'm leaving him like that for the moment, as thanks to the dynamo I attached to his ankles, he's currently powering the DVD player.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Mysterious Affair of the Squirrel in a Cage

Holmes had been at the sales, and come back laden with an antique violin and an ancient old painting; the works, I was told, of Stradivarius and Rembrandt. Unfortunately, Stradivarius was a lousy painter and Rembrandt couldn't make a musical instrument to save his life. Although in the hands of Sherlock Holmes, it's unlikely any violin could be made to produce anything approaching music. Last night he attempted a new playing technique but ended up shooting the cat up the bum with the bow when he over-tensioned the strings.

The music is only played when Holmes is in a foul mood. This one has so far lasted over a week - longer than that time we had a row over what colour to paint the hall and I broke his favourite briarwood pipe when trying to explain that Queen Victoria's massive bust was no longer an appropriate item for the living room, even if you could hang two hats from it. The mood had been brought about by Holmes' run-ins with Los Angeles' CSI department. Three times this week he had been in the process of explaining the elaborate (and frankly unfathomable) logic processes that had led him to various deductions, when a spotty geek from CSI would arrive and arrest someone. In at least one of the cases, it wasn't the person Holmes was about to expose either.

And so it was I came down to breakfast one morning, to discover Holmes putting three squirrels in a cage.

'Good Lord, Holmes!' I ejaculated. I stood, embarrassed in the sudden silence that followed, covered in more white stuff than Kate Moss's dressing table. I went to mop up, and then returned, where Holmes had seemingly abandoned his work: the cage was nowhere to be seen.

However, in the following week, the newspapers have been full of problems at the Los Angeles CSI. They have suffered a rodent infestation. A laxative was put in their water cooler the same day that every single lavatory was covered in stretched clingfilm. Someone has widdled through their letterbox on no less than four occasions. And on one evening, all the security cameras were turned to the same spot, where a man was recorded mooning them for nearly an hour whilst humming a medley of songs by The Who.

The news reached Holmes this morning, brought by a hand-ringing representative of the Mayor who has turned to Holmes in desperation. 'How positively singular...' he mused, before reaching for his pipe. I glared at him as I've been trying to get him off the tobacco, and so he reached for his substitute. 'This is quite a three packets of chocolate hobnobs problem, Watson. It seems Los Angeles is in the grip of a Napoleon of Naughtiness. A Pope of Prankery. A Machiavelli of Mischief. A Moriarty of Mayhem.'

And at the time of writing Holmes is still there, covered in crumbs, intent on solving this. I personally hold out more faith in the LA CSI coming up with an answer, something they might already have done had not their head of operations been hospitalised when his leg was broken by a bust of Queen Victoria dropped by a mystery man passing overhead on a hang-glider...

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Case of the Left-Handed Apple Tree

As my good friend Sherlock Holmes looked out across a morning darkened by the Los Angeles smog, he smiled and said, 'You know Watson, this very much reminds me of times of old. I see you are still troubled by that Afghanistan war injury.'


'Good Lord, Holmes!' I ejaculated. I apologised and went to get a cloth. Quite how he knew that I was still troubled by the Crabs I'd caught from a young man at an Anti-Taliban protest I'll never know, but he was quite right. Upon my return, he simply waved my questions away with a murmur of, 'Elementary deductions, my old friend, from the clues at hand,' and he sank into a musing silence that lasted the rest of the day as he put his prodigious intellect to work on his latest case for Scotland Yard. Holmes had been in America ever since he'd been asked by the BBC to investigate the kidnapping of the actress Letitia Dean and her substitution with a bloated and unconvincing lookalike. This case successfully solved, he was now working on concerns about an assassination attempt on the celebrity singer Charlotte Church. The concerns were that it wouldn't happen. And so, as his exclusive chronicler, Holmes has asked me to make use of this quiet time to explain to my readers how the famed Victorian detective came to be alive in 2005.

It all began when Holmes was frozen in Carbonite when one of the beehives he tended in his retirement was booby-trapped by a distant relative of the late Professor Moriarty. His frozen form was placed in the Scotland Yard offices because it could be a tribute to crime-solving and because they never had enough tables for their celebrity dinners.

It was at such an event that Holmes was freed, when a celebrity present that evening - an athlete we shall call Miss X? No, hang on, Paula Radcliffe, that was her name - accidentally released him. Due to a roadside incident, Miss Radcliffe had been charged with a prodigious amount of electricity, and while putting some balloons on the wall to the amusement of the Yard's finest, she grounded herself through Holmes. No sooner had Holmes recovered consciousness than he had solved three of the most puzzling mysteries of the day: the location of racehorse Shergar, Jade Goody's unaccountable popularity, and why Miss Radcliffe smelled slightly of stale piss-

(Help me, please. This is the only place I can ask for help, because Holmes cannot bear to read my accounts of him. Please. I don't know how to get myself out of this. I was working as a waiter in a cocktail bar when I met him. He was smoking a pipe - a pipe? it would be more accurate to describe it as a brazier on a stick - and I was sent to ask him to extinguish it. As with most bar staff in LA, I have a script on my person to show to producers and directors. Holmes asked if he could examine my bulging m/s, which clearly has a different meaning in Victorian London slang because eight hours later I woke up in his apartment. When he discovered that my surname is Watson and that I am a writer, he immediately offered me terms to become his companion and biographer. Although I had to talk him up from a shilling a week, soon we were an item, and it was better than occasionally sucking off a producer in order to get a line of dialogue or two in Star Trek. I know my friends hated him, but I swear I thought I could change him, but however it is getting worse and worse. He leaves all the shopping and cleaning to me, ridicules my writing without reading it, and now he's beginning to mould me into the image of his ex- who's been dead for a hundred years! It's got so bad that I even have to do an accursed ejaculation gag in each tale, just because I'm the comedy sidekick to the alleged master detective. "Master Detective?" That's a joke - he showed me a picture of the Giant Rat of Sumatra, and it's clear to me that he shot and shaved a greyhound! Please help me if you read this. Get me away from this man. I can script-edit, have worked under several producers on TV (and on one occasion, with), and even once sat in the same Starbucks as Joss Whedon.

Oh, the case of the Left Handed Apple-Tree? God knows, some B/S about a banker not being able to hang himself because of his overwhelming fear of artichokes and the murderer being captured because one of his pubes had gone grey on a Monday or something. It's the Emperor's New Deductions, frankly).

I nodded as Holmes explained how the murder had occurred, and applauded his genius.

'It is nothing, my dear Watson, but an elementary deduction based upon the facts at hand. And next I propose to investigate that mysterious noise of teeth-grinding I can hear.'

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Disagreeable Episode

I have been having the occasional problem with my upstairs neighbour.

I tend to work at all hours of the day and night, and so have generally evolved a tolerance to outside sound. But the man's music - he is some sort of insomniac violinist - reminds me of the time I lived next to Huntingdon Life Sciences when they got a new delivery of cats. He is - unusually for Los Angeles - a devoted smoker, although the substance he smokes can only be described as tobacco because tar does not come in a vaporous form. An LA SWAT team raided the building last week, in response to what was apparently this man doing target practice, in his apartment, at the walls!

Although he lives alone, he is frequently visited by another man who brings - from what I can see through my door's peephole - groceries, and stays over for extended periods. Now, in my day, Homer-sexuality was a question of gender representation in Greek philosophy. I was unaware of any other context or meaning, although occasionally the older members of our social world might make significant glances whenever someone was brought up in conversation. The person this most brings to mind was one of Evadne Licker's daughters, any mention of whom was always received with a dark, significant scowl by the elders who claimed that the girl "would probably end up making a name for yourself, and you know what that means". Tuppence, I think her name was.

However, I have attempted to keep myself to myself, and ignore the behaviour of this man. It is, of course, not for me to judge. I understand that the man is some sort of consultant for the police and with my stash currently so large I have to pretend it's one of the sofa cushions, I consider it unwise to invite scrutiny. And so it was only this morning that I finally encountered my neighbour Mr Sherlock Holmes and his "colleague and special friend" Dr Watson, who it seems is very shy around girls.

It would appear that Mr Holmes is some sort of stage magician, as he proceeded to quite perplex me with a number of observations and deductions I considered almost supernatural until they were explained to me:

'I perceive firstly, Miss Austen, that this morning you breakfasted on an iced dairy confectionery, most probably from Mr Benjamin and Mr Gerald's emporium.'
'Why, that is quite correct!' I said in wonder.
'Good Lord, Holmes!' Watson ejaculated. He apologised and went to get a cloth.
Holmes looked at me. 'It is a deduction of little skill,' he said dismissively. 'You still have a little smudge on your cheek.' I wiped it away self-consciously, blushing.
'And your chin. Oh, and your nose. And your eyebrow. And it's in your hair. And I daresay that's some of it on the wall, too.' His hawkish features narrowed as they studied me.
'I also perceive that you masturbate excessively.'
I understood not his turn of phrase. 'I'm sorry?' I asked in bewilderment.
'You pleasure yourself with your fingers, or some form of mechanical oscillating device.'
'No, still not with you I'm afraid.'
'Your house is open to Mrs Palm and her five daughters?'
'No...'
'You're learning to play the pink piano?'
'No, sorry...'
'You frequently traverse the garden path to open the well-oiled gate?'
A blank look met his hard, emotionless face.
'When Jack and Jill went up the hill, you were able to amuse yourself for an hour?'
'Er, Jack...?'
'The front doorbell can summon help twenty-four hours a day?'
'No, sorry Mr Holmes...'
'It is important to be sure that the middle porridge is just right?'
'Sir, I quite believe that you are no longer speaking English!'
'You stir your tea with the index spoon?'
'I regret Mr Holmes that I cannot follow this line of observation.'
'When the Christmas decorations came out last year, you put the fairy on the tree-'
'Mr Holmes!' I exploded. I have never been so outraged. 'For shame!' I slapped the man as hard as I could.
His hooded eyes gleamed with the malignant satisfaction of a correct deduction.
'But how could you possibly know?' I was moved to ask.
'It is elementary, Miss Austen,' said the world's greatest detective. 'My room's directly above yours'. And as I believe the expression goes, you're a bit of a screamer.'

Thursday, September 15, 2005

On Returning From the Dead

I did indeed promise, dear reader, did I not, that I would relate not only the circumstances of my arrival in society, but perhaps also a brief account of my activities in what I believe you would refer to as the modern world.

The circumstances of my arrival were, I believe, first put into the mind of the millionaire Richard Branson upon watching the cinematic production Jurassic Park. I understand it was his reasoning that if dinosaurs could be returned to life then perhaps famous authors of the past could be re-created and formed into an elite crime-fighting organisation based in a revolving penthouse on the top of the Centrepoint Building. Although two days later it was discovered that his house had been filled for months with the fumes from an errant water-heating device, he had already put the initial stage of the plan into action and its subsequent cancellation left me alone in 1995, living on a building site about 200ft in the air near the Dominion Theatre.

As a woman who has always had her wits about her, I quickly found myself a position in the televisual media thanks to my closeness to the Charlotte Street offices of Channel 4 and an eventful half-hour spent shop-lifting in a number of Soho boutiques. Initially all this was very irritating, but I discovered powdered talcum, and then my clothing became a lot more comfortable. I was soon able to buy my first property, which brought home another miracle of modernity: that you can go to the lavatory inside the house! Yes! And you can imagine my delight when three days later I discovered my property actually had a toilet.

As I have already discussed in a previous missive, I worked on a few early shows in the genre of Reality Television. Frankly as a creative soul this genre does not meet with my approval, and when I was asked what should happen to these programmes, I suggested they should "End 'em all". Thus was I responsible for the naming of the premier production company in this genre. It is not something I am proud of, but I'm on a royalties-commission and it pays for a lot of Columbian Waltzing Powder.

And so as any mindful woman might in this accommodating world, I was able to accumulate a fortune. That left merely the affair of finding myself a man. This proved to be a matter of some simplicity, dear reader. I confessed to a circle of friends that I have not had sexual intercourse for nearly 200 years, and suddenly men are beating me off with a stick. No, wait, I've got that the wrong way around... Actually, no, not after last night I haven't. Oh, dear reader, to tell the truth, I'm walking like John Wayne this morning. But I digress (I'm certainly not moving in a straight line at the moment, that's for sure). This is a wonderful age to live in and in my few years here I've achieved the following:

I wrote the Doctor Who TV movie, although they changed my ending, in which the Master emerges from the Eye of Harmony dripping wet with his robes all clinging and tight and? Oooof!

I wrote the pilot for Alias, although there were a few alterations before it got to screen: it was a disappointment where they cut the scene in which Bradley Cooper emerges from his bathtub, soaking wet, his vest all tight and clinging and... Woof woof!

I wrote the treatment for Farscape which only had one small detail amended before being broadcast, in that the hero was no longer the world's only long-white-shirt-and-breeches-wearing shower salesman. I do still have the test footage of Ben Browder though.

I wrote Deep Blue Sea. They didn't change a thing. It was at this point I realised just how very awful Samuel L Jackson looks in a wetsuit.

It appeared I also had some promise as an Athletics reporter, but my audition was ruined when I mistook one competitor's approaching the assembled crowd for a desire for an interview. She pissed on my microphone, giving herself an electric shock in the privates that meant that she had to resign from the race. My career was over before it had begun, and for three months Paula Radcliffe was popular only at parties where she would fix balloons to the wall.

Oh, and I'm Belle de Jour.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Warning to the Curious

A word to any of my male readers who burn a candle for the delightful Miss Cat Deeley:

The first employment I had upon my return to society was as a script consultant on a new Channel 4 programme going into production in 1996. It was a long-term project, in which a male transexual would infiltrate an unsuspecting media world, and see how far he'd get. I was brought in to put words into this young cuckoo's mouth: they wanted me to bring zip, spice, thrills and tang to the show... Or that may have been the campaign I was overseeing for Kentucky Fried Chicken at the time, I confuse the two... But still, I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, and when I left the project for pasteurs anew (a PR role at a disinfecting plant in Bradford) the show's star - who I am definitely not naming - had just got a place hosting a Saturday morning televisual programme.

But anyway, not wishing to blow the surprise in advance of the Boxing Day broadcast, I recommend any square-jawed heterosexuals might want one last (ahem) flick through their back issues of FHM and give this cat some cream before it's too late.

And their smug American equivalents can wipe the smile off their faces: Channel 4 sold the format almost instantly, and isn't it funny how well Gwen Steffani's been doing ever since that? I'm saying nothing, but...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

An Excursion

Dear reader,

As one looks out across another Los Angeles sunset, one must confess that one misses the friends and companionship of 1796 (the year I 'came out' in society - but then with these low dresses, that sort of thing is bound to happen from time to time), the elaborate dinners, the opulent dances, and even the secretive espying on the men in the smoking room as they played that new game with Mr McVities' recent invention the digestive biscuit. But one has found some compensations, and at this present time, the address book is groaning under the weight of calling cards from people eager to make one's acquaintance.

My newest friend is the delightful Miss Keira Knightly, who professes a love of my works, and who has recently filmed a role in a cinematic version of my novel Pride and Prejudice. Keira and I went shopping this morning, and enjoyed a veritable exhibition of finery in the city's most excellent boutiques. However, I began to become suspicious when Keira asked me to look after three flowery tops, a pair of designer jeans, two hats and an umbrella by concealing them about my person, while she stuffed a Stella McCartney original up her jumper.

It was at this point, dear diary, that I realised just how much Keira Knightly looks like Wynona Rider.

Fortunately my lawyer believes so too, and believes he can get me off with a warning. I told him I've had offers like that before, but we'll see if he can deliver.

Yours in faith,

Jane

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Missive From America

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Hollywood film-maker in possession of a good fortune must be in need of a script doctor."

Hello everyone. Yes, it's me, Jane Austen here, back from the dead and living out here in Los Angeles for this moment in time while I labour like a veritable workhouse urchin in the sweatshops of a variety of film studios. At this very instant I'm putting the finishing touches to the re-make of something called The Omen, but this is merely the latest in a slew of intended re-imaginings which I have piled beside my steam-powered reticulated counting machine. Or my Apple Mac, as I believe it is called.

Now the secret to a re-working of the past is to take the essentials of a classic and write them large. One is frequently warned by those in the know (journalists, agents, PR people) to ignore elements that lesser minds might consider the classic, and to remain focused on the essence of the story. The Omen is a wonderful case in point. The essential horror is of someone suspecting that they have been infiltrated (and goodness, that has not happened to me in 192 years) by the damned or the horrific. But the Son of the Devil is a bit passe now, so we've set the film in a middle-class British household, where the father begins to suspect that an evil influence is inherent in his son. So far, so goose-pimply, don't you think (though again, it's been years since I've been either goosed or pimpled)? There are Eldritch omens (you see, as in the title, oh yes, it is all clever stuff) such as the father looking out of his semi-detached home to see that a heron's had his goldfish, that a particularly randy Miniature Pinschera has danced the fifth-leg cha-cha-cha with his bird bath, and that a family of benefit-scroungers has moved next door.

It all pays off when the father is investigating his son's wardrobe, and discovers, to his utter horror, a hooded-top hidden away under a bag of skank and some eye-wateringly pornographic material. His child is indeed an uncontrollable agent of destruction, about to bring forth the end of the world. Cue - I am assured - much terror in the cinema interiors across middle-England, and fainting and palpitations and trembling fits. It would be my advice to you, dear reader, to invest in the finacial area of smelling salt manufacturers before next summer.

Of course, I have had to remove sequences which lesser intellects would have considered essential. In my draft, nobody gets a huge rod shoved through them. Well, it's not happened to me in 200 years (not since that New Year Ball at Lady Minterly's) so why should anyone else get any? And as we've had to go for a PG-13 rating, this time the photographer actually gets a nasty shaving nick which really, really stings when he puts on his Old Spice aftershave while listening to Carmina Burana on his I-Pod musical replaying machine. Believe me, it may not have so much impact on paper, but when the cinematographer sobers up and gets to work on it, it becomes the film's set piece, and I'm assured will be $18.4m well spent.

Anyway, my dears, the dawn has just begun to turn the dark sapphire of the eastern skies into a rich golden hue, and so I?m reminded that not only must I start work anew, but that I've still got half a catering tub of Ben and Jerrys' in the refrigeration machine. So I will bid a fond goodbye, dear reader, and look forward to our next meeting, when I will tell all about the scientific miracles which brought me to your time, and why it's thrilling that you can use words like "jizzbucket" and not cause the Duchess of Wessex to swoon into the punch.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Of Spain And The Spice Girls

Of course my life is fabulous. You wouldn't be here otherwise.

But yes, every now and again, it just veers into Surreally Fabulous. Like the time I shagged a gentleman who lived above a plastic surgeon specialising in breast implants. And the hilarity ensuing when he kicked me out in the morning, only to find one of the Spice Girls at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for the surgery to open and flicking through a magazine.

She didn't look up.

* * *

Other times its just accident prone.

Last night I had a job interview. I think it went well enough. But a note for my future self: when going to a party after an interview, buy your booze after you are seen. This will save you opening your portfolio and a bottle of vodka rolling under the desk of any future employee.

* * *

I'm going away for a fortnight.

You won't notice a thing.

No, I promise. I've got a guest writer coming in who's just brilliant. Far funnier than me, much to my chagrin. Check back on Monday to see what they're doing.

Me? I'm going to places Surreally Fabulous. And I mean that. Next week, I'm going to be in Wales working on TV's Doctor Who. Well, when I say 'working', I mean bunking off as much as possible to go and get my picture taken as Rose Tyler in the control room set.

The week after my loony mother is taking me to her second home: Spain. And no doubt encouraging me to dance on speaker cabinets while scoffing handfuls of what she calls 'ecstatic tablets'. The woman's got hollow legs when it comes to drink, as well.

Back soon. And - all of you - be fabulous.
 

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Story of V

Smoke curled around his teeth, before being expelled with a sharp blast out of the side of his mouth.
"Now," he said. "Your blog." Another drag on his cigarette. "How come I've never got a mention?"
"I'm sure I -" I started, before trailing off. I was genuinely surprised to have never mentioned the immortal Paul Vyse over the years. He was, after all, the man who taught me to drink - and drink well, at that. He'd also taught me several rope tricks, and how to scam old ladies in a Cromer guest house with little more than a wire coat-hanger and a piece of tin foil. Oh, we never had to pay for a meal that whole weekend.
I thought on as the Bar-Functionary returned with our change, presented on a little silver tray to invite you to leave a tip. Paul pointedly picked up each coin separately, right under the nose of the Functionary. "Oh look. He's brought us a free tray too," he declared loudly as the coins emptied. The Functionary grunted, swivelling away on his too-gay heels, off to serve someone else. I had a feeling we'd be having difficulty getting drinks later.
The name 'Paul' always seemed such a small tag to fit his whole personality in. Most people had taken to calling him 'The Very Lady Vyse'. And his reaction to the Bar Functionary was pretty standard: I was there when he's ordered a Four Seasons pizza and practically shouted the restaurant down when some limp bit of dough with a smattering of vegetables was placed before him.
"What on earth is this?" he'd said, jabbing at it with a fork.
"Four Seasons, sir," uttered the disinterested waiter.
"Four Seasons? Four Seasons?!" he spluttered. "Its barely Spring!"

I looked down at my glass, which had somehow refilled by itself. There's a rumour that the very air around Lady Vyse is 90% proof, hence why you tended to come away from any meeting with him literally too drunk to breathe. His lunches were legendary: some times he'd get so carried away that he'd simply forget to go back to work for the afternoon. His liver was last seen cowering under a bed in Ibiza, refusing to come home.
"Are you sure I've never mentioned you? I mean, we've known each other a very long time..."
And that was true. We'd met ten years before, completely by chance. I'd been, well - let's just call it 'back-packing' through Turkey, and I'd crawled into a coffee house to escape the midday sun. I could hear a laugh like a machine gun coming from behind a beaded curtain, and this drink-addled voice screeching "...and that Elisabeth Sladen? Completely wooden teeth, I tell you. No, completely. She re-does them with bath enamel before every convention. No, no! It's true!"
I pushed the curtain aside to find a gentleman reclining among several young Turks, hookah in one hand, glass of wine in the other that seemed mostly for gesticulating with. His eyes narrowed at me as I clung to the doorway.
"Ooh, 'ello," he said, suspiciously.
"Er, hi. Mind if I pull up a teenager?" I said, motioning to the pile of boys. "I'm fair parched."
"Don't pad your part," he said.
And we were firm friends since.

"I am utterly sure," he said. Same gesture: glass waved, encompassing an audience that he didn't care was there or not. "Utterly sure you haven't mentioned me. At all."
Odd. Hadn't I talked about the time we'd hi-jacked a piano bar just so the Lady V could sit there, tinkering the incidental music to the Doctor Who episode City of Death to the amassed and bemused crowd? Or, after six bottles of wine, stealing the huge wrought iron plant stand because we thought it would look much better in our hotel room than the bar? Or when we put a likeness of Angela Lansbury on the top of the Christmas tree one year? Or the time we invented the Vodka Pistol?

"Perhaps there are no stories to tell," I said.
His eyes narrowed. Points of ice in a suddenly hard face.
"Well. Clearly," he said with an air of finality, and blew a smoke ring my way.
 

Monday, September 05, 2005

Lost - Solved!

 
Baazz! Bazz!

(With thanks to the brilliant Tim Leng, who came up with the idea)
 

A Memo To The Gay Council

Dear Cher and co,

Girls! Delightful occurrence in the States. Found the most marvellous thing! Board game called 'Pretty Pretty Princess'!

Allow me to read from the back of the box:

'Play dress-up with your friends as you collect fancy jewellery from the jewellery box. Collect your own matching colour necklace, bracelet, ring and earrings. (!) But beware the Black Ring! (!!) If you get it, you must get rid of it before you can win. (!!!) When you have all of your jewellery plus the tiara, you win the game. Then you'll be as pretty as a princess - the Pretty Pretty Princess!'

I move to have this included in the Gay Starter Pack, as given out when we recruit a new member.

Currently, said Starter Pack comes with the following items:

1 x Hello Dolly (DVD)
1 x Xanadu (DVD)
2 x disco top (showing midrift)
1 x apron (kitchen type; embroidered)
1 x subscription to Wallpaper/Heat magazine (delete as applicable)
2 x shoes too fashionable to be comfortable
1 x Barbara Striesand album you claim never to know how it got in your collection as you surreptitiously scratch of the price tag
1 x waffle iron.

I suggest we throw out the waffle iron to include Pretty Pretty Princess. No-one doing carbs anymore.

Hope you're all well and pool party went well!

Love and kisses,
Lee.