Friday, October 31, 2008

Worshipping at the altar of raging consumerism

As you some of you might know, I love shopping with a passion that would make Carrie Bradshaw spin round on her heels and collapse in an ungainly heap on the floor. So, the fact that the largest inner-city shopping complex in Europe just opened 15 minutes walk away from the office should quite literally rank right up there as one of the best things evah.

What else could I do but go investigate and report my findings to you in a timely fashion?

The Westfield Shepherds Bush White City shopping centre during construction.

First, though, let me give you a little background on the area and my affinity for it. The first time I walked down the Goldhawk Road to Shepherds Bush after work I came to the conclusion that the whole area was a horrific dump and should be bulldozed into oblivion. I was a little rash in formulating that opinion, though, and in the years that followed I've developed quite a fondness for the area. Yes, Shepherds Bush Green is populated by winos and crack addicts trying to sell you a "one-way ticket to South America," but let's not forget that it's also home to the Shepherds Bush Empire, quite possibly my very favourite gig venue, a wonderful little subterranean bar called Ginglik (which is currently fighting for survival - please sign the petition to keep it open HERE), a quality cinema hidden away above Morrisons supermarket, and a variety of diverse and independent little shops (few of which I actually frequent, but I like the idea of them being there). 

The news that a massive new shopping centre was going to be slapped down just behind the green was greeted with mixed emotions by yours truly. Yes, I heart shopping big-time, but I was also worried that, although the project would help rejuvenate and bring jobs to the area, it might also suck the soul out of Shepherds Bush and kill off all the independent businesses scattered down both the Uxbridge and Goldhawk Roads (although as my boss pointed out to me earlier in the week, I don't think the "glittery wig store, dodgy mobile phone sellers, and bong shop" will face much competition from the flagship shopping centre).

So, after what seems like years of watching this massive building rise up from wasteland, Westfield White City (as they insist on calling it despite the fact that it looms over Shepherds Bush like the alien ship over the White House in Independence Day) opened its doors for the first time yesterday. Within are literally hundreds of stores, from familiar high street names and exclusive boutiques (grouped together in an area called The Village), to restaurants and cafes. Next year a gym and a multi-screen cinema will open (which leaves me wondering what will happen to the cinema in the teeny-tiny shopping centre just across the road…).

Anyway, as I've got next week off work I decided to hit-up Westfield this evening after leaving the office rather than waiting until I go back to work the week after next; although I'd like to say I was doing this purely for journalistic reasons and an interesting blog post, what it really comes down to is that fact that I was gagging to hit the shops.

It was actually kind of weird walking down to Shepherds Bush … it was as familiar as always, and yet walking round by the Empire you suddenly see this huge expanse of grey building poking out from behind the regular shopfronts that surround the green. And I'm not kidding - the thing is freakin' massive. Rather than nip in a closer side entrance, I decided to head for the main doors just past the brand new - and very shiny - Shepherds Bush tube station. And again I was knocked for six - it's even more freakin' massive than I realised. Seriously, it's like a futuristic version of The Wizard of Oz - like this massive building just fell out of the sky and landed on a vast portion of Shepherds Bush. Everything else pails in comparison; Bluewater (which is actually bigger) feels smaller … the Bentalls centre in my beloved Kingston is made to look like nothing more than a small shed in someone's back garden.

There's so much there - and everything is bigger. I don't know whether it's because the ceiling is very high and predominantly made of glass, but it just felt open and airy. The walkways are wide, the food court area clean, clear, and open. There's bigger versions of some of my favourite clothes stores, leading me to think that it's actually going to be quite dangerous for my bank balance what with the office being in such close proximity and me having five lunchtimes each week. I picked up a map and I still got lost (although in my defense the map is ludicrously laid-out).

Check out the funky glass roof.

Disappointments? A few. There's only one bookshop - admittedly it's a branch of Foyles, which is a good thing, but its actually a lot smaller than I'd imagined it would be, and no where near being the new favourite hang-out spot I'd hoped it might be (Borders in Kingston is safe in that respect). On the plus side they do have a reasonably good selection of graphic novels, with Fantagraphics and Drawn and Quarterly books taking precedence over DC and Marvel stuff. In fact, a few of the stores I thought would be quite big were actually rather small - yes, Nike and HMV, I'm looking at you. What else? Oh yeah - the guide said there were two branches of Starbucks; I could only find one, which doesn't open until November; the other, according to the guide, is sandwiched somewhere between Boots and M&S, but I'm damned if I could find it; maybe it's magically hidden like Platform 9¾ where the Hogwarts Express departs from in the Harry Potter books?

The lack of Starbucks was annoying, actually, because the whole thing was a little overwhelming and I needed somewhere familiar to sit down and collect my thoughts. A concierge suggested Costa, but not wishing to be a traitor to the 'Bucks I headed instead to Shakeabout, a milkshake stand that blends chocolate bars and sweets into drinks (handy if you have a problem chewing solid food, I suspect). I went for a Cadbury's Shortcake shake, which entailed three chocolate biscuits being blended up with some milk and a massive dollop of ice cream (I watched them do it in front of me). This is undoubtedly not the healthiest beverage you could order, but it was many, many times awesome.

Cool things? Well, the All Saints store has an incredible window display comprised of a load of old Singers (sewing machines, not assorted Bryans, Aretha Franklins, and Diana Rosses).

This is just a small portion of All Saints' window display - it was a truly unique sight.

There's also a pretty cool central stage area that plays host to catwalk shows and musical performances. Everyone's favourite Afghan hound lookalike Leona Lewis sang here yesterday.

The stage area in a moment of peace before another catwalk display kicked off.


An aside:

Spot the difference.


So, the big question is … did I buy? Well … no. I was tempted by a few things - an awesome, faux-fur lined hoody that looked like it would be really warm and was pretty reasonably priced, a couple of books (which I decided against because I'm currently less than halfway through East of Eden), and a few t-shirts. Actually, let's have a bit of audience participation; these are the three tees I liked - vote on which one you think I should buy and I'll get the one with the most votes next time I'm in a branch of Topman.

So, what's my verdict on the Westfield centre? Honestly, I'm actually a little torn. Yes it's a stunning new shopping destination that I can definitely see myself visiting rather too much, but as I left I glanced across the road towards the little shopping centre that's home to the cinema, and it suddenly looked old, run-down, and obsolete. Not too long ago there was a cracking book shop in there with a coffee shop attached to it - then it closed down, and I can't help thinking that it was the first of many to disappear. The area's changing, and part of me thinks the regeneration of Shepherds Bush should've focused on sprucing up the historic buildings that were already there rather than just plonking a massive new shopping centre down.

Only time will tell, I guess, but as I headed back towards my car I saw firsthand how some of the residents now living in Westfield's shadow feel about the new development, and there's definitely a part of me that sympathises with them.

(Hammersmith and Fulham Council's tagline is 'putting residents first')

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Not showing at a cinema near you

The James Bond/Desperate Housewives crossover that no one was asking for.

007, you see that thing in your right hand? I suggest you use it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This and that

Sorry - again - for my absence. It's only Wednesday and I've had a rather full and busy week. Thank Jeebus I'm off work next week - with a bit of luck I can put my feet up (because lord knows they need it, as you'll find out) and do bugger all.

In the meantime, in case you were wondering what I've been up to, here's a sequence of somewhat random but nevertheless interconnected events…


Monday. Ah, Monday. A bit of an unusual day, really. I was in two minds as to whether or not I should actually write about this, but I've come to the conclusion that I don't see why I shouldn't because quite frankly it's my choice as to whether or not I want to share it with anyone, and seeing as it didn't hurt anyone I don't see why I shouldn't.

Crumbs, there were a lot of 'shoulds' and 'shouldn'ts' in that sentence, weren't there?

Where were we? Ah yes.

I had a job interview.

Writing that out actually makes it seem very real, which is a tad weird because I clearly remember sitting in a strange room in North London facing two women who were assessing my skills (or lack thereof). Anyway, I hoofed it out of work bang on time on Monday afternoon, swapped my trainers for posh shoes in the car (to add a little more oomph to my already heightened level of smart - which I'd had to deflect attention from throughout the day), and jumped on the tube into town. I'm not going to go into any detail about what the job was, suffice to say that I was genuinely very, very interested in it, and the two ladies thought I was perfect, but I also felt a distinct pang of guilt about going behind the metaphorical back of my current employers, who have been pretty darn good to me over the years.

I was actually invited back later this week - but have declined. Why? Well, to be honest, I was getting rather enthusiastic about it. The more I heard about it, the more I think I would've been sorely tempted to accept it if it was offered to me - and there were a number of negative reasons working against it. The reasons are *counts in head* predominantly two-fold (and not necessarily salary-based); firstly, the job is in central London, which would mean getting the train everyday, which would mean a considerable increase in my travel expenses (by a factor of - gulp - three); secondly, it would also mean a more rigid 9-5 working day, and this - combined with the travel situation - would mean no more popping in to see the family or Sparky Nan on my way home from work, both of which are very important to me. I also imagine that I wouldn't actually be getting home until about seven in the evening, meaning that I wouldn't have as much downtime to myself.

I honestly think it would've been a great opportunity (and there's still a little part of me that thinks I've been a complete doofus in not continuing on with the interview process), but while I think the job itself sounds amazing, the location and travel hassles are definite no-nos, and I really didn't want to waste peoples' time by going through with an interview when I know I'd turn the job down at the end.

If it had only been a few miles closer I think it'd be a totally different story…


So, posh shoes. Not. My. Best. Friends. At the moment. In the space of just a couple of hours wearing them to the interview, they completely and utterly ripped my feet to shreds. Which is bizarre because I've worn them quite a considerable amount around the house and out and about at the weekends over the last few months. The result of this is that I limped into Sparky Towers Monday night to find a gaping, weeping red-raw blister on my left foot, and two smaller, but equally excrutiatingly painful blisters on my right - meaning that I'm currently hobbling around like a heavily-damaged Terminator. 

Which, of course, caused me problems on…


Tuesday. I was looking forward to Tuesday because Yazzle Dazzle and I were going to a gig for the first time in what felt like ages. The gig was The Walkmen, a band which I must admit I was not very familiar with, apart from one song that was on the second soundtrack to The OC (and, in fact, they actually made a guest appearance in an episode). It's these facts, combined with a ridiculously low ticket price of just 17 English pounds and 50 of your finest pence, that Yazzle used to convince me to go to the gig (I've come to the conclusion that I'll pretty much do anything if you can connect it somehow to The OC).

There were, however, a couple of slight worries that loomed into view by Tuesday afternoon:

• Firstly, it was bloody cold, and my iPhone weather report hinted that there might even be snow. I scoffed at this, because there's a difference between 'cold' and 'snowing' (I think you can all see where this is going, can't you?).
• Secondly, the gig was at ULU, a venue in the centre of town, which meant a lot of walking on my manky feet.

Help in resolving the second point came in the unexpected form of lovely boss lady at work. Her solution? Tape a doubled-over section of a plastic bag over the plasters covering the blisters. She assured me that this would help minimise any unwanted friction between wound, plaster, sock, and shoe, as the plastic would make everything glide. My reaction was to scoff in a "yeah, right!" kind of way. 

After watching me hobble around the office in my socks, though, she basically forced me to carry out her orders. And so at about five o'clock I cut up and stuck a portion of a Ryman's plastic carrier bag across the heel of my left foot using plasters and Scotch Magic Tape; my right foot is less painful, so I made do with just a few sparkly plasters stuck over the existing plasters for added padding (because we all know the sparkly plasters have magic healing properties missing from the everyday variety).

And do you know what? It actually kinda worked in a MacGyver-stylee! I could still feel a degree of pain, but not quite as much as I'd felt earlier in the day, which meant that the trip up town was much more bearable than it could've been.

Here's some embarrassing pictures.

Yes, that's a plastic bag taped to my foot.

Sparkly plasters = magic healing properties.

I don't think anyone needs to see any pictures of the gaping wounds on my feet, do you?


With my feet securely strapped up, Yazzle and I headed up town to Russell Square in search of ULU, or the University of London student union as it technically is. Unfortunately, the map I printed out proved to be complete rubbish, and we resorted to stopping people in the street to ask for directions. Embarrassingly, the first person we asked was a tourist who actually did seem to have a better idea of the lay of the land than we did, but still couldn't pinpoint exactly where we needed to go. Fortunately Yazzle struck gold with the second person she asked - a lovely lady who, bless 'er, went massively out of her way to guide us there in person.

The kindness of strangers, huh?


So what was the gig like? Well, bearing in mind my familiarity with The Walkmen was limited to the aforementioned one song, I thought they were bloomin' excellent. The singer has a really distinctive voice that reminded me quite a lot of what I imagine an in-tune Bob Dylan would sound like, and they had a rather cool, mariachi/old saloon bar-type sound going on. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and definitely think I'm going to extend my Walkmen boundaries beyond just the one song. In fact, I already have - I found this wicked website called that invites bands to perform live sessions, then puts the tracks up as free and legal downloads. The Walkmen are on there, as are a number of other favourites of mine such as Phantom Planet, Willy Mason, Patrick Park, and Cold War Kids. I highly recommend you check it out if you're so inclined.

In the meantime, here's one of The Walkmen's videos.


It wasn't all Walkmen-based fun, however; while the second support act were pretty good, the first one sucked massively; the singer barely acknowledged the audience, and instead spent the entire set singing to the guitarist. Seeing as she was ignoring us, Yazzle and I decided to ignore her, and started doing our usual looky-likey spotting in the audience. And among the throngs of students with their eccentric haircuts and unnecessarily tight clothing we made two major finds – a Napolean Dynamite looky-likey (dang, sweet!), and a Bette Midler!

Good times!


Oh, and guess what? Yeah, it totally snowed as we left.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hanging with Colin and Crazy Boris

In my last post I hinted that I was going to be getting up to some shenanigans this week. Well, shenanigans were attempted, but proved to be only partially successful.

Shenanigan the first - and brace yourselves for this one - was inspired by the new series of Strictly Come Dancing, and was to entail me putting down some fresh and sexy moves to a saucy latin soundtrack; yes, I was supposed to go salsa dancin'. Note how I said 'supposed' there. To cut a short story shorter, a combination of bad traffic and some confusion over the actual location of the venue meant that at least one of our party turned up late, and we then spent about 25 minutes walking around Kingston in search of a certain bar. At half past eight, about halfway through when I should've been busting my sexy moves and shaking my hips, we decided that there was no point in continuing to look for the venue, so ended up in a bar where Yazzle Dazzle laid down some fresh pool shark moves the likes of which have not been seen since we last played about two or three years ago.

Salsa is currently being rescheduled; we're waiting to see when Bruno Tonioli has a space in his diary.

Shenanigan the second proved to be far more successful. On Monday morning I got an email from Best Mate Jo telling me that she had free tickets to a screening of a film called Genova at the BFI London Film Festival. I didn't have a clue what the film was about, but I said yes anyway because I haven't seen Jo in a while and a freebie is a freebie. 

So last night I trundled up town ready to meet her in Leicester Square. While I was waiting I happened to walk past the cinema where the film was showing and - oh god lord there was a red carpet and photographers and everything! I began to feel just a tad underdressed in my black-hooded jacket, black jumper, dark jeans, oversized beanie hat, and, um, trainers… If I'd known it was a fancy do I would certainly have worn proper shoes, and maybe even a tie. In hindsight, I was in the middle of Londinium: I could've just walked five minutes in any direction and bought something smarter - like a top hat.

Anyway, so Jo turns up and we sneak in round the side of the cinema to go get the tickets, then sneak back out to go kill some time in a nearby bar (where I was asked to take my hat off, which I was initially a bit disgruntled about before realising that it actually gave me a chance to tidy up my hair ready for my close-ups on the red carpet). 

Forty minutes later we headed back to the cinema, and after waiting beside some barriers guarded by a couple of big scary dudes we were ushered in AND I GOT TO WALK THE RED CARPET WHILE PEOPLE TOOK PHOTOGRAPHS!

OK, so they weren't actually taking pictures of me, because Colin Firth and Willa Holland (formerly Kaitlin 'Mini' Cooper in The OC!) were doing interviews for the press on the red carpet at the time, but I'm pretty certain that I'm going to be in the background of at least a couple of those pictures, and some red carpet footage! Oh, and I actually didn't realise Colin and Willa were there as I walked in as I was totally playing it all cool and blase; Jo told me they were there later.

Fortunately, I totally got to see the stars in the cinema a short time later, just before the film started, when they were introduced on stage. They were actually standing pretty close to our seats while they were waiting to be introduced, and I was quite tempted to go ask Willa Holland if she had Autumn Reeser's number, which is entirely possible seeing as they were in The OC together. I think I must've sent out some kind of weird psychic brain vibe at that point, because Willa actually looked over at me. I smiled, and nearly gave her a cheeky wink, but it was dark and she's only 17 so I didn't want her to think I was being pervy, having an aneurysm, or that I had any intentions other than trying to get the contact details of someone she starred with in a TV show a couple of years back.

Another unexpected bonus came in the form of London's new mayor, Crazy Boris Johnson, who was a guest at the screening. I'm a big fan of Crazy Boris because he's an intelligent, honest, and incredibly funny guy, which are three qualities most politicians don't have going for them. He made an hilarious, somewhat rambling speech which left the woman who introduced him to the stage frowning in apparent disbelief as he berated utility companies for closing London's roads, and managed to convince us that the hero of the film Jaws was not, in fact, the shark, but was rather the mayor of Amity as he managed to keep everything open (including the beach) while the shark caused chaos. He also went on to say that, upon being invited to the screening, he'd searched the internet for nice things to say about Colin Firth, only to find that Colin Firth was vehemently opposed to him becoming mayor of London. He then looked over at Firth, pointed, and shouted "I shall do my utmost to win you over, Mr D'Arcy!"

Crazy Boris works the crowd. 
(Note dude with massive head on right of picture)

Crazy Boris rocked, and the producer of the film obviously agreed - he later called him "the best warm-up act in show business." In contrast, Colin Firth went on to say that the mayor would have to work harder than that in his attempts to "seduce him."

It was all hilariously fruity.

Colin Firth (left) shuns Crazy Boris' advances; Willa Holland (to Firth's left) stands there looking bemused (probably wondering why her married co-star is flirting with a disheveled blonde dude).

Anyway, after all the speeches and introductions the film started, and I'm sorry to say that I found it a tad dull. There were about three separate storylines in it and none of them seemed to have any really satisfying resolution. Good performances, nice locations, dull story. Sorry. But hey, it was free, and we got free chocolate bars too, so that was a bonus. Negative points include the dude with the massive head in front of Jo, which meant that she spent at least two-thirds of the film resting her head on my right shoulder in an attempt to actually see the screen, and the dude next to me who kept scratching his head and shifting around in his seat like he didn't want anyone within a two metre radius of him. 

There was a Q&A afterwards, but by then it was running late and I had to get back to Hammersmith, back to my car, and back home. As we left the cinema I saw someone who looked like John Hurt. Turns out, I've just discovered after looking at some photos on the BFI website, that it was actually John Hurt. Damn. If I'd known I would've shown him my Alien chest-burster impression. I bet he would've got a kick out of that!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sustain this!

I've just got back from a trip to Sainsbury's; the cupboards were running bare, y'see, so I decided to go restock them on what, I think, is my only free night of the week (more on that in the next few days - I'm such a tease).

So there I am, driving into Sainsbury's, when I notice a big ol' sign plastered across the wall outside:

(just ask if you need them)

OK, now, I'm all for being green and looking out for the environment where possible, but c'mon - I'm rocking up without any alternative (this may come as a shock but I don't carry a stash of placcy bags in my car). And quite frankly hiding the bags under the counter doesn't really do anything except force me to interact with the person at the till more than I usually would.

Anyway, so I stroll round and pick up a decent amount of shopping; and by decent amount I mean it warranted a trolley. When I'm done I find a reasonably empty till, and start offloading everything onto the conveyor belt. There's some woman in front of me buying enough to feed a small third world country, and asking stupid questions about her Nectar card. Eventually she pisses off and the till girl turns to look at me.

And she sighs, reaches under the till, and hurls a handful of plastic bags at me. I smile and thank her (because I was brought up to be polite), and begin packing. 

After a short while I use all the bags she's given me (five in total), and so I ask for a couple more.

"You should bring your own, you know." She says to me.

"I would have if I had known," I reply.

She rolls her eyes at me, hands me two more bags, and then says "you're supposed to be being green."

She almost got a Cranberry and Raspberry Muller Light yoghurt on her head. 

"It's all very well trying to get us to reuse old plastic bags," I said. "But the fact of the matter is that I was unaware of this new policy, and they're so weak that they fall apart after one use."

"You're supposed to buy the bag for life," she shot back.

"So this is a revenue raising scheme, huh?" I replied.

She giggled coquettishly, and said "I'm winding you up."

There is a fine line between flirtation and irritation. I weighed the Muller Light in my hand once more, then dropped it in the bag.

The fact of the matter is that supermarkets like Sainsbury's are big ones to talk. For years they've doled out plastic bags emblazoned with their logos like the child-catcher hands out sweets, happy for us to wander the streets like little advertising hoardings. We're a society used to them, so no wonder it comes as a bit of a shock when we're suddenly told we're oh-so-naughty for wanting them. Try to make me feel guilty? But hey! What about sustainable alternatives? Is not possible in this day and age to create a paper bag durable enough to survive the weekly shopping trip? One that would be rectangular in shape and thus easier to get more shopping in so that we'd actually require less - one that is, perhaps, a little more convenient than a plastic bag, and would fit better in the boot of a car? One that, when we're done with it it can be folded up and put in our recycling bins or returned to the supermarket where it can be recycled or reused?

Probably… but maybe it's a little too much effort.

So don't talk to me about the environment, Sainsbury's; I walked your aisles tonight, I saw the masses of plastic and cardboard fashioned into wasteful packaging on hundreds of your products. Take a look at yourself before you try to make your customers feel guilty.


A far more pleasant shopping trip took place yesterday when I strolled up to the Apple Store for some new iPhone headphones. Don't worry, I didn't wash the last pair like I did my iPod headphones, but rather after eight months of constant use they'd gotten a little bit tired; that and the fact that some bloke brushed past me in the street the other day and accidently yanked the right headphone out with his pointy elbow - the little track-skipping clicker didn't work quite the same after that incident.

There's also the slightly odd occurrence of the rubber around the outer part of the right-hand headphone degrading and coming away. I was a bit worried that a lump of it might come off and get wedged in my earhole. I don't know why this happened; I can only assume I exude some sort of toxic ear residue. 

Anyway, whatever the reason I decided to buy some new iPhone headphones. And I did. With ease, and without the need for a bag. The Apple Store also email your receipt to you, so I was actually extra green by turning down a plastic bag, and not wasting paper by asking for a printed receipt. It's also quite exhilarating walking out of the shop with a new pair of iPhone headphones concealed in your pocket. It's the nearest I'll ever get to shoplifting, I imagine.


OK, so I've been studiously reading lots of books throughout the year like the rest of the Coven … well, like Dinah and T-Bird, anyway; I believe IDV has stalled on a Meg and Mog book, not only because it bears startling similarities to his own life, but because it's a bit hard-going for him. There's some big words, don't ya know - like 'a' and 'the.'

Anyway, I'm saving my reading list for its traditional end of the year place, but I wanted to give you a heads-up on a book I just finished reading. It's called Knockemstiff and it's by a guy called Donald Ray Pollock. I bought this book back in August (picked up a signed copy don't ya know!) after being attracted to it by it's somewhat unusual packaging and sparse cover. It's a hardback book that's been trimmed down to look like a paperback - so the cover and the pages are all squared off to the same height, rather than the cover extending past the book block. I'm sorry if that sounds like some sort of publishing nerdgasm, but I genuinely appreciate interesting design and packaging.

But that would be all for nought if the book wasn't up to scratch - and by god this book was up to scratch. It's basically a series of interconnected short stories set around the town of Knockemstiff; characters mentioned briefly in one story play a prominent role in another, some of which are set years later. It's a great concept made up of stories that are very well told. Many of the characters aren't exactly the nicest people you could meet, but they're all interesting and often their stories are darkly humourous. Very highly recommended.

Next up? In at the deep end of Steinbeck with East of Eden. All 700-odd pages of it… 

Friday, October 17, 2008

It was bound to happen

My decent into lunacy continues. Two weeks after popping a house plant in the oven, this week I put some iPod headphones on a 30º spin cycle in the washing machine.

OK, OK, I didn't mean to do it, but the fact of the matter is that I did. I only realised when I went to head out for a run last night and I found that they weren't in their usual place in my bedroom. And then there was that awful moment of realisation where I kinda went "well, where on Earth could th- Oh." I then wandered downstairs, grabbed my shorts off the airer where they were drying and unzipped one of the pockets. There they were, all coiled up from when I popped them in there while at running club on Tuesday. On the plus side, though, they were exceedingly shiny. I actually thought they might be OK, so I grabbed my iPod, plugged 'em in and hit play. 

Have you ever heard David Bowie's Ashes to Ashes sound like it's being played underwater?

They pretty quickly went in the bin. Fortunately I have a spare pair. Which I will be Watching. Like. A. Hawk.


Talking of running club, I'm genuinely thinking that they're trying to kill me. There's a road in Richmond - a very steep road, I hasten to add - that runs up Richmond Hill. It's called Nightingale Lane and the mere mention of it is enough to drive fear into the hearts of men. 

For the second time in three weeks we ended up doing hill training in Nightingale Lane. But in contrast to the first time we did it, when we ran it in teams with plenty of rest stops, we had to do it without stopping. Up and down, up and down. Ten times. I thought my thighs were going to explode.

Adding insult to injury, we did our warm-up at the top of Richmond Hill, in clear view of the posh houses and a line of traffic. We must've looked like a speshul cold-weather line-dancing troupe while we did our side-stepping and heel-flicks.


I've spent each lunchtime this week watching episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on my iPhone, having downloaded the second season off iTunes last weekend (note to self: is 'watching TV in Starbucks' the new 'I'm writing in Starbucks to be seen in public, writing'?) I think I have full-on hetero man-love for this show. It's hilarious in a very twisted, 'I can't believe they'd do that' kinda way. Charlie Day is a comedy god. I've tried scouring youtube for some clips to show you how great it is, but out of context of a full episode I think it's difficult to really appreciate it. 

What I did find, though, was this behind the scenes clip which gives an idea of the sort of humour at play in the show … although I recommend caution if you're at all uneasy about DeVito-based nudity…


Whoop-whoop! Nerdgasm imminent! Whoop-whoop! 

So, the first official pictures from the new Star Trek movie came out this week and I thought I'd quickly mention my thoughts on it (on a purely professional basis, you understand).

Well, my first impression, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly's cover image was … well, actually it was "Whoa! Back away from the photoshop – I said: BACK. AWAY. FROM. THE. PHOTOSHOP!" Seriously, someone really went to town on smoothing Zachery Quinto's face out. He looks like he was rendered in CGI. But that's what over-enthusiastic photoshopping can do for ya, and every other image I've seen has given me proper tingles in special places. 

I mean, look at this pic. Just from what I see here I think Chris Pine is going to make a fine Kirk, and from that pose I'd say that Keith Urban has nailed McCoy in a way I'd never have believed possible. From what I can see the bridge looks awesome too; different, yes, but it had to be, didn't it? (note to naysayers: c'mon, did you really think a $165 million movie was going to use a recreation of something from the 1960s? No, of course it wasn't!)

Well over a year ago I wrote about my hopes for this new movie, and I'm pleased to say that everything I've seen so far suggests that JJ Abrams and his team have done a fine job. Which makes it all the more annoying when you read comments from so-called fans saying that they hope the film fails because it's playing hard and fast with the continuity of the Star Trek universe. I find it difficult to understand how people can say these sort of things without actually having seen the movie, and seeing as none of us are going to see it until next May, I'll politely ask anyone who makes such comments to me to shut the f**k up and just be grateful we're getting a new Star Trek film. 

By all means, if, come next May we discover that the movie truly does suck, please feel free to rip it a new one. But I genuinely don't think it will, and I look forward to seeing what I think, on this initial, admittedly very small glimpse of the first new piece of Star Trek in over three years, will be a really rather wonderful movie.

Now, can we have a picture of Leonard Nimoy as Spock please?


Damn me. I've got a … I s'pose you'd call it a little urge. And I fed it by looking at a special website. Which is where I found this.

Anyone who knows me knows that I want a Mini Clubman. And I'd not even planned on considering a used one (or 'cherished' one, as Mini call it). But I was being nosy on the Mini website the other day and I saw this one. And it's oh so pretty in a snarly "I will eat your babies, bitch!"* kinda way. I'm actually in love with those anthracite wheels. Visually it's not anything like what I'd planned on going for when I eventually get round to buying one (I especially didn't want to go for a red one as both my Minis have been red - and viper stripes? Puh-lease), but my interest has been piqued. It's done about 3500 miles, and it's packed out with more toys and gadgets than I'd ever think about speccing on one.

I'm very tempted to go take a looksy…

*New favourite quote from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spiders, Cylons, and wonky-mouth

It's been a while, hasn't it? Sorry - that's my fault. I've been busy, y'see. Enough about me though, how are you? Keeping well? You look well. How's the family? Good? Good. 

Enough with the pleasantries - I s'pose I should do something reasonably entertaining, huh?

Well, you asked for it. You've only got yourself to blame.


I was alarmed yesterday by a story on the London news (which I'm damned if I can find online) about spiders under Kew Bridge. Not any old spiders, though, but rather Johnny Foreigner spiders hitching lifts on bananas and escaping into the wilds after reaching our fair shores. Yes that's right - asylum-seeking spiders. Anyway, seems a load of the little devils have taken up residence under Kew Bridge (which I drive over every day on the way to work), and apparently they can give a rather nasty bite if you poke them or make 'your mum' jokes at them.

I don't know about everyone else, but until the courts see fit to move these buggers along or ASBO them, I'll certainly be dipping my accelerator a bit harder as I zoom over the bridge on the daily commute from now on. Or, y'know, finding another route. Because you know they're going to start trying to squeegee-ing your windscreen or something while you're waiting at the traffic lights at some point.


Anyone who's my Facebook friend might've seen yesterday that I made the amazing discovery that you can buy a full-sized Cylon online. This is amazing, and, I think you'll agree, a bit of a bargain at just over eight and a half thousand dollars. Eight and a half thousand dollars?! That's, what, about four grand in real money? Sign me up! 

Seriously, though, how cool would it be to have a real Cylon? I'm having a little fantasy in my mind about it right now*: I'm thinking of us running through a meadow together. I'm thinking of it cooking me dinner and making me a special pudding**. I'm thinking I could ride it to work like a Segway.

And if it did all those things I would totally be OK with it trying to wipe out humanity.


So, how are we all coping with the credit crunch? I hope you're also managing to keep a smile on your face while vast amounts of your savings go tits-up. Ahem. Anyway, I think I've found a way to help us through these troubled times.

And how, pray-tell, do we do that?

Here's how: Milo Venti-mocha-ccino or whatever the hell he's called. Y'know, ol' wonky mouth from increasingly-unpopular and in-no-way-getting-more-ridiculously-rubbish-with-each-episode tellybox show Heroes. 

I've got this theory, y'see, that anything can be made infinitely more amusing by the addition of … well, a wonky mouth. I started by finding a picture of Milo Double-Americano smiling (which was in itself a tad difficult; you'd think that anyone who has banged both Rory Gilmore and the cheerleader in his time wouldn't be able to stop smiling).

And from there we'll just take the mouth. And apply it to a variety of other pictures for comedy effect. Now, do keep up - there'll be an assignment at the end.

Why so serious? 

Hello Kitty!

OK, admittedly this makes it look like he's having an aneurysm or something.

I don't think I need say anything, except this picture barely needs added wonky-ness.

OK, so your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to apply a wonky-mouth to something with HI-larious results. I've put the mouth below, and it's up to you whether you want to print it out and do something with it manually, or slap it onto something digitally. Either post them on your own blog, or email 'em to me and if I get enough (or any) I'll stick 'em up here.

Bonus points for any with boobs in. Have fun my pretties.


* Nothing untoward, you pervert.
**No, really, you're just being dirty now.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

And this is why we're all glad I don't own a kitten

As regular readers may recall, at some point in the last two years I appear to have developed a penchant for small cacti in Mexican-themed earthenware pots (newbies can catch up here and here).

Why this is I don't know. I do know that I like cacti, and I've had a bit of a thing about Mexico ever since I saw the Brad Pitt/Julia Roberts opus The Mexican (it's one of my favourite films). That being the case, I suppose my interest in small cacti in Mexican-themed earthenware pots is a bit of a given.

In my time at Sparky Towers I've owned four small cacti in Mexican-themed earthenware pots. Unfortunately, a tragic series of events means that number slipped to three, and an even more tragic series of events means it's actually currently standing at, um, about 2.5. I lay the blame for this totally at the feet of Homebase, who sell a broad range of small cacti in Mexican-themed earthenware pots; indeed, the reason I once owned four was because, like Pokemon, I decided that I 'gotta have 'em all.' 

Where were we?

Oh yes - Homebase. I've come to the conclusion, y'see, that Homebase stick the same instructions tag in every plant they sell. I've bought a spineless yukka, a dramatic green thingy for my bathroom, and the aforementioned small cacti in Mexican-themed earthenware pots, and they've all had the same care instructions. And while I'll openly admit I'm not Percy Thrower, I really don't think a metre high yukka and a small cactus that barely pokes two centimetres above the rim of its Mexican-themed earthenware pot have much in common when it comes to appropriate care. 

This I learned the hard way, because the instructions told me to "keep well watered during growing/flowering season. Keep moist during winter." And, as I discovered, those instruction apply more to me than to a small cactus.

The first sign that something was amiss came a few months back when one of my cacti went … how shall I say this … squishy. And by squishy I mean that it had the general consistency of a rubber stress toy and made a bit of a funny noise when I poked it – which I did often because a) it was gross and weird, and b) it was a funny. It stopped being funny, however, when the whole thing just deflated and dried out.

One down.

After that incident I took to watering my cacti a hell of a lot less, but once again it seems as if, rather than green fingers, I've got blood on my hands – my favourite small cactus in a Mexican-themed earthenware pot has started to go squishy. 

Needless to say, this has left me a little distraught, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And by 'desperate measures' I actually mean 'ever-so-slightly insane measures.' On Sunday night, y'see, I accidently pulled off one of the little spines on the surface of the cactus while I was prodding it with my finger. This left a hole in the surface. By scientifically poking the cactus further I discovered that it was indeed overly moist (stuff dribbled out the hole when I poked it), so I attempted to rectify this by rolling up bits of tissue paper and bunging them in the hole to soak up any excess liquid. 

Stage two of Operation: Save Cactus came to me in a flash on Monday evening. I was sitting watching Gilmore Girls (Lorelai's just had her opening weekend at the Dragonfly - I'm *so* excited for her) when I got to thinking about the environment in which cacti originate: hot, dry, arid landscapes. Hmmm … maybe if my ailing cactus was exposed to a hot, dry, arid landscape it'd lose its excess moisture and may be able to stage something of a recovery? But where would I find such an environment?

I fired up the oven.

Now before you get all prissy on me, I didn't cook the bastard. And I didn't put it in the microwave (just in case it went all mutated and bonkers). I merely warmed the oven to a medium heat, turned it off, popped the cactus in there, and left the door ajar a bit so the hot air would waft out like a desert wind. And do you know what? I'm a genius. Enough about me though - let's get back to the cactus. Post-oven adventure it actually seems to be doing OK - it certainly hasn't shriveled up and deflated as quickly as the last one did. I'm not getting my hopes up completely, though, and I do have a contingency plan if it does look to be failing on me: I could inflate it using my bicycle pump, or fill it with that expanding loft insulation foam stuff.


And for anyone who accuses me of cruelty to cacti, at least I'm not forcing it to go scuba diving with me.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Choices, choices

Truth be told I'm still on a bit of a karting high from Friday. And yes, that means I'm still suffering from the hardcore alpha-male tendencies that manifested during the race. I just finished watching season one of The OC and was willing Ryan to punch anything that moved.


Friday night was supposed to be a delightful companion piece to my win earlier in the day. Willowc and I had found out about an Empire magazine film quiz being held at Borders in Kingston, and decided that we'd give it a whirl. After all, we both consider ourselves conniseurs of the finest that Hollywood has to offer (providing, of course, that there's some kind of science-fiction/fantasy element about it, and it was made post 1977). Upon arriving at Borders, however, we found a notice on the door saying that the quiz had been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. We both "humphed," and decided to head inside anyway to escape the cold and trawl the bookshelves for exciting things (or, in the case of Willowc, pick up exciting things and put them down randomly elsewhere in the shop).

We eventually headed to Starbucks, caught up properly over coffee, then headed our separate ways.


On Saturday afternoon I decided to head back over to Kingston as Sparky Ma still wanted ideas for my birthday and I'd seen a pair of boots I liked so I thought I better try them on to gauge what size I might need if someone ended up getting them for me. The boots are *ohmygod* amazing, so much so that I seriously thought about buying them on the spot; I ended up putting them back on the shelf and hurrying out of the shop before I snapped, or just started hugging them.

Another reason for my quick jaunt to Kingston was that I needed some new hair … 'product.' I've been using the same stuff for the last couple of years, and usually pick up a new tub when I get my hair cut. For some reason, though, I decided to have a bit of a change (maybe because I don't plan on getting my haircut till the end of the month). I headed to Boots and ended up staring at the men's hair care range like a speshul. There's a bewildering array of choice these days - do I want cream, gel, putty, paste, mud, clay, or wax? I must've stood there for about five minutes randomly picking up different pots. 

I almost went for one brand because I liked the design of their tubs, but ended up going for another because it was a bigger pot, and was cheaper because it was on specshul. I mean special. The idea of putting mud in my hair was intriguing, too. As I was taught by Sparky Ma many moons ago I put the first one I picked up back on the shelf and reached for one from further back. I then paid for it, and went home. And do you know what? When I got home I opened it to find that some little shit's already stuck their finger in and taken out a big dollop.


I freaked myself out a little bit on Saturday night. I'd had a bit of a weird dream earlier in the week and thought it would make a cracking little horror story, so I decided to write it out in script format as Grum had hinted to me recently that he wanted something new to illustrate. I started about midday, stopped, obviously, while I headed out to Kingston, and began writing it again at about nine p.m. 

I wanted to write the whole thing pretty quickly while it was still fresh in my mind; plus I've got other things that I want to start writing, and I didn't want it to drag on. That being the case I finished it at about … half 12? And then, for some reason, I decided to check in on the Phantom Planet website in the hope that maybe they might've announced some UK tour dates. Tour dates? No. Freakiest blog update ever? Yes.

I read that, freaked out a bit, and went straight to bed.


Saw one of the funniest moments in Gilmore Girls so far the other day, and for some reason it made me think of T-Bird (in a nice way).

I love the look on those cats' faces.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Team building: I'm doin it rite!

When it comes to work my general rule is you go in, do your hours (ensuring the work is completed to a consistently high standard, I should add), then go home. I'm not the sort of person to socialise with my workmates, and I once shocked Scanner to his core by telling him that I "don't go to work to make friends, I go there to do what I'm paid to do."

(Fortunately, I have actually made some wonderful friends in the workplace over the years)

That being the case I very rarely take part in our company events - I've been to two parties in the last nine years, skipped every Christmas lunch, and managed to wangle my way out of various other social events. In a similar vein, the words 'team-building exercise' send shivers down my spine. I mean, seriously, what does a paint-balling game really do? Highlights each individual's popularity within the office based on the number of times they're shot, that's what. And when all is said and done there are only so many times you can shoot the same person repeatedly in the head until they can't see out of their goggles anymore. 

Anyway, a few weeks back it was suggested that we should all head out to do go-karting. As you can imagine, I immediately began coming up with excuses as to how to get out of it: "I'm too busy," "it's not my thing," "I hate motorsport," "I'll be rubbish," etc. 

Eventually, though, I just gave up and realised that there was no way I'd be able to get out of it.

Today we went go-karting.

Things went a bit pear-shaped from the get-go as I'd decided to drive myself there bearing in mind that the track isn't too far from home and I figured I'd just head straight off home afterwards rather than go back to the office. Fair enough, but what actually happened was that me and my colleague in all things Star Trek actually made a few wrong turns and almost didn't get there in time. Thank god for Google Maps on iPhone…

Anyway, once we arrived at Surbiton Raceway we pulled on race suits, grabbed helmets, gloves, and a manky balaclava, and waited to be divided up into teams of two ready for a one-hour endurance race. Oh, dear reader, it was like first year P.E. all over again: at the end I found myself standing alone while everyone else buddied up to their partner. 

"You'll have to drive alone," said the track boss.

"Great!" I said, finally getting into the spirit of things and raising two thumbs aloft.

"Enjoy that while it lasts," boss-man said, nodding at my raised arms. "You probably won't be able to move them after an hour in a kart."

"Oh," I replied.

So off we toddled to the track. A consequence of me flying solo was that whereas everyone else would be pitting-in to swap drivers at various stages throughout the race, I had no one to swap with. Bonus, I thought, figuring that it would give me the chance to get a higher number of laps in (the race was an endurance, so the winner is the person who does the most laps of the track). Unfortunately, the track crew had a contingency plan for such an eventuality: four times throughout the race I would have to pit-in, get out of the kart, run around it, get back in, then drive off again. Great - not only was I flying solo but I'd look like an absolute idiot in the process.

Now, let me say here that my Big Bro is a very keen, very good go-karter - he has trophies and everything. In contrast, I've only done it twice, and both those times were silly little kiddy karts that don't do more than about 12 mph. I was not expecting to do very well at all. And the practice lap we did seemed to confirm this; I was reluctant to pick up too much speed, and I thought my kart was broken because the steering was really heavy. Turns out that karts just have really heavy steering.

A few minutes later we lined up on the grid. I was in sixth, not because I'd earned it or anything - that was just the next available space when I pulled up. Then the dude waved his flag and we were off…

…And something happened to me. I don't know whether I was picking up strange psychic-brain vibes from Big Bro or what, but I suddenly transformed - some sort of bizarre alpha male region in my mind kicked into action and I could not think of anything but how to get the best racing line, how to pass the kart in front, and how could everyone else be driving SO SLOWLY?! Seriously, I actually wondered at one point if my kart had a horn so I could beep everyone else and get them to move out of the way. But then it wasn't needed because with my newfound skills and smooth on-track moves I was passing people with ease. I could see other colleagues waiting to take their turn marveling at me from the observation area. I was on fire (not literally). At one point I even shouted "C'MON!" although it all got a bit muffled by the manky balaclava and helmet.

As the race progressed I ensured that I made my four obligatory pit-stops - the last of which was captured on camera (as I jogged round my kart I made a point of holding up four fingers to prove that I'd done all four) - and actually started getting a bit cocky; I waved at my boss as I passed him on the straight. He later retaliated, however, by banging into me and spinning me off the track twice.

Before I knew it, though, the hour was up and the chequered flag was being waved. I pulled my kart into the pit lane for the last time, clambered out (didn't bother running round it this time), and walked up to the observation area. And that's when something else strange started happening. Everyone started looking at me and making comments like "you blasted the rest of us off the track," and "you were moving some!" I laughed it off, and thought that maybe I might've finished in a reasonable mid-field position. 

After a few post-karting photos we moved into the clubhouse bit where the track boss started to read, in reverse order, the results. Out of the seven teams, I was pleased to hear that I wasn't last. And then he kept reading… and by the time he got to the fourth-placed team he was handing out little trophy-thingies. Ooo, I thought, it's a dead cert that I'll get one of those - Big Bro will be pleased with me. 

Then he announced third place … and it wasn't me.

I nervously looked across at the only other team left, realising then that I really, REALLY, wanted to be first. Not 'first of the losers,' but first.

And do you know what? I GOT IT!!!!!!

I'd like to thank the Academy, my friends and family… Seriously though, I was well chuffed with this. I immediately took a photo of it and sent it to Big Bro - my first time in a proper kart and I nailed it!! Woo-hoo!

After that we all headed across the road for a slap-up pub lunch, where I was probably immensely insufferable as I gloated about my win.

Now drench me in champagne and get me a gaggle of supermodels to bang!


Some stats!

• I did 1o6 laps - two more than the second-placed team.
• I took the fastest lap of our group at a smidgeon over 27.5 seconds (.4 of a second faster than the next fastest person, and just two seconds off the all-time track record).
• My fastest lap was done on my 101st lap, just five before the race ended.
• I had the highest average speed over the course of the race.
• My buns looked fantastic in a racing suit.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

When boys shop

I met up with Marcosy this evening for a quick look around the shops in Londinium. The main reason for this, though, was that whenever we go shopping he always goads me into buying something but doesn't spend any money himself and I thought it was about time the tables were turned.

The last time we went shopping in Londinium he saw a shirt he liked but refused to buy it. Pretty much every time I've spoken to him since then I've asked him when he's going to buy the shirt - kind of like a kid asking "are we there yet?" to his parents during a long road trip. Finally this week he caved - ha!

So we met up and headed straight for the Cult store in Covent Garden. In addition to forcing a good friend to spend money against his will I also had a reason for going to this shop; Sparky Ma recently asked me if I knew what I wanted for my birthday, and I'd seen a Superdry jacket that I'd taken a bit of a fancy to and thought I'd better try it on to gauge what size I might need. This would be lovely for several reasons, one being the fact that Marcosy and I actually both have identical jackets at the moment, meaning that when we meet up we look a bit like a) twins (I call dibs on the Schwarzenegger role - he can be the DeVito genetic splashback), or b) some sort of all-male Howard and Hilda.

The Cult store is rammed full of clothes to the point that there's very little room for customers to actually get in, but we eventually managed to squeeze in and Marcosy headed straight for the shirts. After a couple of minutes looking through the racks he turned to me and threw my usual excuse - "they don't have my size…" - at me. I humphed, resisted the temptation to slap him, and walked off in search of the jackets. 

The jackets were located just across from the shirts, and I quickly grabbed the one that I like and tried it on. It felt good, and perfect for the any cold weather we might get; it has a high woolen collar (which reminded me of the coat Kirk wears in Star Trek II), and woolen thumbies to keep my hands toastie. It also has three - count'em, three - zips up the front, which might sound excessive but looks quite cool. And by 'looks quite cool' I actually mean 'a little bit confusing in practice.' Because I zipped the wrong bit of one zip with the other bit of another zip and it all got a bit messy. 

I genuinely thought I was going to be trapped in the jacket forever.

Marcosy, of course, found the whole thing HI-larious, so I told him to just shut up and buy a bloody shirt before storming off to look at myself trapped in a jacket in a mirror, meaning that not only did we look a bit like specially-dressed twins/all-male Howard and Hilda, but now we looked like specially-dressed twins/all-male Howard and Hilda having a barney in a clothes shop. By this point as well, Marcosy was holding both my jacket and his own, and I was convinced he was going to do the old switcheroo in an effort to get his mits on my iPhone, which was nestled safely in an inside pocket. Shit, that just reminded me - I didn't check out interior pocket availability on the Superdry jacket. Poo.

Anyway, finding a mirror actually wasn't as easy as it seemed because there's not much free wall space in the Cult store and at one point I was looking at myself in an open doorframe and wondering where my reflection had gone. I eventually found one (a mirror, not another doorframe), and waited a couple of minutes while some gangly emo tried on a plaid overshirt. Eventually he tired of sighing and flicking his hair and moved away, and I began admiring myself in a manly fashion from a variety of different angles straight from a catalogue photoshoot and deciding that, yes, the jacket was awesome. 

"You'd have to leave about half an hour spare in the morning to make sure you had time to do it up properly," said Marcosy, who'd scurried after me. I scowled, then spent five minutes struggling to undo the jacket without arousing the suspicion of the shop staff who might think I was up to no good. I eventually got it off, hung it back up, retrieved my own jacket, checked that my iPhone was still in the pocket, and told Marcosy to buy a shirt - any shirt, WHATEVER.

And he did. Job done.
We then headed to a little cafe bit outside the Superdry store where I suggested that his purchase was just part of some elaborate scheme intended to fool me into thinking that he'd bought the shirt to appease my demands, when in fact he was probably going to take it back tomorrow. He laughed nervously, then told me how the guy at the till had spoken to him in street lingo and called him "brother." I asked if he'd tried to do a street-style knuckle-bang greeting.

"What?" said Marcosy.

"Y'know," I replied. "Did he fist you across the counter?" Only realising just a moment too late how inappropriate, rude, and downright wrong it was to refer to a form of greeting in that way.



Big news people! I'm up for a blogging award!! I know it probably goes against all that's good and honest to encourage everyone - whether you're a regular or a newbie - to go vote for me, but seriously: GO VOTE FOR ME!

And massive thanks to Oddthomas for nominating me!!

Good grief - can you imagine if I win? I'll be even more insufferable than usual! Should I think about writing a speech? Renting a tux?! 


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Choose your own adventure: Bringing HI-larity back

Bitches, you know the drill…


I was up stupidly early this morning watching another [1] before jumping in the car and heading to work. I had a good half an hour or so in the office on my own before others started filtering in, at which point I jammed my [2] in my ears to block out any and all disturbances. At about half twelve I walked down to Secret Starbucks where I quietly read my book while enjoying my regular [3]. I narrowly avoided getting [4] on the walk back to the office, and later in the afternoon I danced along to the M.I.A. song 'Paper Planes' while waving my [5] around (bang, bang, bang, bang!).

I've had a relatively chilled out evening since getting home. I watched [6] while eating dinner, then checked out the first two episodes of the new season of Heroes. I do think there were a few inconsistencies in the plotting, but I'm most intrigued by the realisation that a slicked-back hairstyle signifies you as being either a) from the future (Wonky mouth), or b) evil (Sylar). On the whole it was OK, but it didn't blow my [7]. And I keep thinking of Wonky mouth as being Jess in Gilmore Girls now, rather than powered-up Wonky mouthed Peter; he basically plays exactly the same character, except one worries about saving the planet, while the other just [8] off (wonkily) at Luke.

And now? Now I'm off to bed to [9] a couple of [10].