Monday, December 31, 2012

Reading list 2012

New Year's Eve! That day of the year noticeable solely for the fact that tradition dictates I don my tweed jacket with the leather elbow patches (which, worryingly over the course of the last few years seem to have come back into fashion) and studiously run through all the books I've read over the course of the last 12 months. In all the years I've been doing this, 2012 marks the year where I read the fewest books - just 26 - but with good reason! I spent a significant portion of the first half of the year reading the Bikram Yoga dialogue both before going on training and while I was in LA. As such, it wasn't until I got back to the UK at the end of June that I really got to throw myself into the mass of books I'd built up on my bedside table. If I was counting the dialogue, I'm pretty sure 2012's tally would number in the thousands, because lord knows I read that thing cover to cover and back to front more times than I can remember.

As usual, I'm grading each book like a college professor would grade his students (A+ EXCELLENT, C or below, AVOID), and providing links to each title which will take you through to an appropriate online store where you can buy your own copy to cherish, clutch adoringly, or lick.

Anyway, let's crack on, yes?

01. The Devil all the Time by Donald Ray Pollock - Stunningly brutal novel that traces the entwined lives of a number of different characters over the course of several years. Pollock's short story collection Knockemstiff remains one of my favourite books; this debut novel confirms my belief that he is a masterful storyteller: A+
02. Pronto by Elmore Leonard - The first Leonard novel to feature Raylan Givens (the focus of the brilliant TV show Justified) sees the U.S. marshall trying to protect a Miami bookmaker who flees to Italy after being targeted by a mob boss. The character of Raylan really shines through in this book, but when he wasn't present I felt something was lacking and actually found this a little bit disappointing: B-
03. The Very Best of Dick Tracy: Bullets, Battles and Bad Guys by Chester Gould - A lovely collection of classic Tracy strips that makes you realise just how groundbreaking and brutal Gould's work was. The book serves as more of an introduction to the strip rather than a genuine best of collection, but it worked in that it left me wanting to read more: A
04. Power Pack Classic Volume 2 by Louise Simonson - The second volume of one of my favourite eighties comic books finds the Power Pack kids continuing to get to grips with their abilities, and includes the beginning of the story arc I have fond memories of as a kid: B+
05. The Complete Peanuts 1975-1976 by Charles Schulz - The first volume of this series that I've read for two years, and every bit as wonderful as I remember. Beautiful art and longer ongoing storylines really draw you into Schulz's classic, life-affirming comic strip: A+
06. Star Trek Volume 1 - Collected edition of the new Star Trek comic that retells episodes of the classic original series in the new JJ Abrams Star Trek movie universe, in this instance 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' and 'The Galileo Seven.' An enjoyable read, but if I'm honest these two tales don't differ significantly enough from the original episodes to make them an essential read - an indication perhaps of just how good those 1960s stories were: B+
07. Driven by James Sallis - gritty sequel to Sallis' novel Drive (the basis for the Ryan Gosling film of the same name) which picks up Driver's story seven years later when his attempt to fade into anonymity is cruelly ripped away from him with with the brutal murder of his girlfriend. It's a quick read - just 147 pages - but a worthy follow up for fans of the earlier book: B+
08. Son of Youth in Revolt by C.D. Payne - Book VII in Payne's ongoing Youth in Revolt saga sees the spotlight fall on Nick Twisp's 15 year-old son, Scott. The protagonist may have changed but the formula - the lust-fuelled adventures of a journal-writing teen - remains the same. However, while it was an amusing read, I felt this latest instalment in the series lacked the deft comic touch that made earlier volumes so memorable: B+
09. John Carter: Movie Novelization/John Carter of Mars - A Princess of Mars by Stuart Moore/Edgar Rice Burroughs - A nice hefty volume containing the novelization of the 2012 John Carter film and ERB's original 1911 story. The novelization is a perfectly good adaptation of the movie, while A Princess of Mars is a wonderful pulpy action adventure story: A
10. Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim - The story of two young men who shared a harrowing experience as children, leading one to believe he had been abducted by aliens, and the other to enter into a life of dangerous sexual encounters: B+
11. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach - Thoroughly enjoyable story of a young man playing college baseball and the lives of those around him. A solid story, well-written characters and a wonderful end, but I must admit I did get a little lost in the parts that were baseball-heavy. Still, worth a read: A-
12. The Adventures of Venus by Gilbert Hernandez - A slight, quickly read collection of all-ages stories focusing on Beto's Venus character. Not his best work, but charming nonetheless: B
13. Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Los Bros Hernandez - The latest L&R annual sees Beto's return to the fictional town of Palomar, and a new Vivian 'Frog-mouth'-centric story from Jaime. This issue was lacking in Maggie action after Jaime's stellar tales in the previous two volumes, but nevertheless remains a brilliant read: A-
14. The Song of Roland by Michel Rabagliati - The latest entry in Rabagliati's ongoing series of semi-autobiographical Paul graphic novels documents the latest developments in the character's life (moving his family to the suburbs) and the heart-wrenching final months of his father-in-law's life. Wonderful: A+
15. God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls by Jaime Hernandez - Fantastically enjoyable superhero romp filled with the same depth of character and charm as the author's more familiar Locas stories: A
16. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson - An engrossing and insightful, often painfully honest, biography of the founder of Apple. Jobs' had an incredible life and Isaacson has written a fascinating glimpse into his world that does not shy away from revealing every aspect of his complex personality. Well worth a read: A+
17. Riding the Rap by Elmore Leonard - The sequel to Leonard's earlier novel, Pronto, finds U.S. marshall Raylan Givens searching for bookmaker Harry Arno, who's become the unwitting hostage of Palm Beach playboy Chip Ganz. A far more enjoyable and breezy read than Pronto, with some great dialogue, although I found the plot somewhat slight: B
18. Raylan by Elmore Leonard - Leonard's latest novel returns to the character of Raylan Givens following the success of the TV series Justified. While I enjoyed it for the most part, the book seemed to follow a number of plotlines that have already been covered by the show, making this feel more like a lightly padded novelization than an original work: B
19. Star Trek Volume 2 - The second collected edition of comic book stories set in the new movie universe tackles a retelling of the classic episode 'Operation: Annihilate!' and an original work entitled Vulcan's Vengeance. The retelling is a by-the-numbers revision of my favourite Star Trek episode, and suffers by failing to bring anything new to the table save for a little conflict between Kirk and his brother; Vulcan's Vengeance, meanwhile, at least expands upon the storylines and general universe brought into being by the 2009 movie. Two volumes in and as readable as it is, I'm still not entirely sure what the point of this series is: B
20. Batman: Death by Design by Chip Kidd; art by Dave Taylor - Beautifully illustrated, wonderfully written graphic novel that finds Batman investigating a series of architectural disasters in Gotham City. By far the best Batman story I've read in a long time: A
21. The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire - Haunting graphic novel about a young man trying to reconcile the loss of his father 20 years earlier as he faces the imminent arrival of his own son: A
22. I Just Want My Pants Back by David J. Rosen - Enjoyable story about a young guy coming to terms with what it means to be a responsible adult in the wake of losing his favourite trousers after a one-night stand: B+
23. Star Trek: That Which Divides by Dayton Ward - My first Kindle read was a decidedly average Star Trek novel. Maybe it's just me, because this has glowing reviews on Amazon, but I felt the story was overly long and lacking in excitement, there was too much explanation of technology and dry descriptions of locations, and the characters felt like pale imitations of the vibrant originals I'm used to from the TV show. Also, very odd, absolutely pointless hint of romance between Chekov and M'ress from the animated series. Meh: C+
24. Power Pack Classic Volume 3 by Louise Simonson - The third collection of Power Pack comics from the eighties contains the storyline that first got me into this series all those years ago. A fun, nostalgic read: B+
25. Superman: Kryptonite by Darwyn Cooke; art by Tim Sale - Enjoyable graphic novel recounting Superman's first encounter with the one element that can kill him: B+
26. Invincible: The Ultimate Collection Vol. 7 by Robert Kirkman; art by Ryan Ottley - Another fine collected edition of the most enjoyable superhero comic out there. If you want to see alien heads being ripped off left, right and centre in glorious fashion amidst an intergalactic war, this is the book for you: A

There you go then: some awesome books, some not so awesome books, and some decidedly average books. And as is usual for me, I've already got a load sitting on my bedside table just waiting to bung up the first few months of next year's list. 2013 is definitely going to see me getting some more Kindle action too; I can't wait to read some more stuff on my little glowing friend, and with a bit of luck they'll be better than the book I chose to pop my Kindle cherry with.

Happy New Year you cheeky little buggers.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012: The year in reviews (sorta)

OK, so it's here at this time of the year that I traditionally write about what books, films, TV shows and music I have enjoyed over the course of the last 12 months. But I'll be honest, 2012 has been a bit of a weird old year for me, specifically because I spent 10 weeks in LA but also because the months since I've been back have been some sort of weird old whirlwind; I genuinely don't feel like it's the end of the year even though I just had a lovely Christmas. More to the point, because the latter half of this year has been a bit odd, I really haven't had the time to catch that many movies or watch that much TV.

That being the case, I'm going to break with tradition and just kind of list the meagre offerings of things I liked rather than doing a top three countdown. That OK with you? Tough if it's not. BOOM!

I started the year with The Devil all the Time, a new novel by Donald Ray Pollock, which I loved, then followed it up with such great books as Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars, some new Love and Rockets, and Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, which is an insightful glimpse into the life of a remarkable man. Perhaps my favourite read of the year, however, was Michel Rabagliati's The Song of Roland, the latest instalment in his series of semi-autobiographical graphic novels featuring the character Paul; it's a heart-wrenching, beautifully written and illustrated book that's deserving of your time.

Along the way were some disappointments: I read three Elmore Leonard novels, none of which really grabbed me, and the latest in C.D. Payne's Youth in Revolt series was a bit of a let-down after the hilarity of earlier volumes.

I know lots of other people hated it, but by far my favourite movie of the year was John Carter; it was, I thought, a wonderfully realised, slightly old-fashioned action adventure film that truly sold me on Edgar Rice Burrough's vision of Mars (or Barsoom, I should say). Well worth a look, in my opinion. Elsewhere, I liked Prometheus, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Dredd 3D, and The Dark Knight Rises, even if I did think it was overly long and lacking the coherent feel and strong antagonist of its predecessor. Oh, and Battleship. Everyone hated that but I thought it was immensely enjoyable.

Movies I didn't like? Not many, really - or at the very least not many I can remember. I seem to recall thinking The Avengers wasn't as great as everyone else thought it was, purely because I felt the first hour spent getting the team together was just a bit slow. Once the action got going it was good fun.

TV Shows!
OK, I've barely watched any television this year. I saw a few episodes of Archer's third season, which was great, and only half a dozen of One Tree Hill's final year. I started watching Friday Night Lights because everyone raves about it but found it a bit boring. Maybe it's just a bit too football heavy for me? Most recently I watched the first season of the original Twilight Zone which is fantastic, and I've got One Tree Hill Season Nine and Supernatural Season Seven to watch, so maybe they'll figure in my year in reviews next year?

I did watch the first season of I Just Want My Pants Back, based on the book of the same name by David J. Rosen, which I found to be a great little show - rather like a slightly more gritty, saucy, and more realistic version of Friends with a nice line in humour and some fun characters. Sadly it was axed in May after just 12 episodes, but don't let that stop you from giving it a whirl.

Saw Panic! At the Disco in concert in February who were as awesome as ever, as were Matchbox Twenty at Shepherds Bush Empire (their new album, North, is worthy of a mention too; bit different from their past records, but really good once I'd listened to it a few times) and Willy Mason who I saw at the Scala. Album-wise? I enjoyed the soundtrack to the Dredd 3D movie - really nice and grungy industrial sound - and there were fantastic expanded editions of the soundtracks to a few of the Star Trek movies. The Rolling Stones - who I didn't get to see live because the ticket prices were EXORBITANT - released a brilliant new song called Doom and Gloom, and Sufjan Stevens made my Christmas by releasing a new festive boxset mixing traditional songs with some utterly brilliant new tracks (the haunting Christmas in the Room and 12 minute long Christmas Unicorn among the most notable).

Other stuff!
Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in LA - perhaps the best thing I've ever done with my life. Wonderful city, wonderful people, and it all led to a wonderful new career at Bikram Yoga Chiswick and Bikram Yoga Surbiton upon my return. I genuinely don't think I've ever been happier, and it's ridiculous that I get to call what I do work; no one should be able to have this much fun and get to call it a job.

Elsewhere: Kindle Paperwhite: love it.

Same time next year? I promise to be more comprehensive then.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mix CD 2012

I don't know what the hell happened, but two seconds ago it was September and now - BOOM! - here I am putting this year's mix CD together.

Unlike last year where I was really rather organised, this year's was slapped together last minute. But before you accuse me of just popping any old shit on a shiny plastic disc, let me tell you this: most of the leg work was actually done for me. How?! Well, before I strutted off to LA to do my Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in April, Big Bro gave me a playlist of LA-themed songs that he thought would work as a lovely soundtrack to my West Coast experience. And by jove he was right.

So basically this year's mix CD is an ode to my time in LA, my newfound love of California, and the incredible people I met on training. It's a combination of songs chosen by my bro for me, and a few that came to mean a lot to me while on training (though not, you may be relieved to know, Barry Manilow's Copacobana, which I couldn't get out of my head while we did posture clinics in the hotel's cabanas).

And so without further ado…

01. The Keeper by Chris Cornell
Big Bro has been banging on at me for years to try to get me to listen to Chris Cornell and this lovely acoustic song, which he put on my Going to California playlist, is the one that finally sold me. It's a really lovely, gentle tune, and the first song I listened to upon setting foot on U.S. soil - which was rather fitting as the opening words are "I come from far away, my boots don't know this ground, but they know it's real…" I listened to it a lot while in LA, and I never once tired of it.

02. Going to California by Led Zeppelin
I've always been able to take or leave Led Zep, not quite understanding why everyone raves so much about them, but this song, like The Keeper, just kind of encapsulated how it felt to uproot myself from West London and travel halfway around the world to spend a few months on the West Coast of America. It's got a lovely sunny, understated acoustic vibe about it - very laid back and honest, much like how California felt to me. A couple of lines in this track really stood out for me - "took my chances on a big jet plane" kind of tied in nicely with my need to conquer my fear of flying, and "I wondered how tomorrow could ever follow today" perfectly matched my mood after some of the very best days of my life were spent in LA.

03. Ain't Wastin' Time No More by The Allman Brothers Band
The first time I heard this song the opening piano reminded me of something from an old Peanuts cartoon. But seconds later it explodes into one of the gentlest, most laid-back rock classic rock songs you could ever hope to hear. I remember one day walking down to Westchester Village near the hotel where we did training and this song started playing on my iPhone. I got a little strut going on as I walked down the sunny sidewalk, pondering the lyrics "time goes by like a hurricane" and thinking how right the song was - how we should enjoy what time we have here as best we can.

04. Take it Easy by The Eagles
Nothing says sunny Californian vibes like The Eagles, right? Right. Love this song, and it took on added meaning one evening when Bikram himself said to us "you guys, you've been working hard. Take it eaaaaaasy."

05. Tumbling Dice by The Rolling Stones
I've loved this song for years - it's one of my favourite Stones songs, in fact - and it was a great choice by Big Bro to put on my Going to California playlist. I've got a load of different versions of Tumbling Dice, but the one I'm going with here is off the Rarities: 1971-2003 album. It's an off-cut from the Stones' Stripped acoustic album and how they decided to leave it off I don't know. I love how it starts out all ramshackle-like before exploding into life. And as a bonus, it reminds me off the night I spent on training teaching lovely Aussie trainee Dayna how to dance like Mick Jagger.

06. Say Shava Shava from the soundtrack to the film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
We were made to watch quite a few Bollywood movies while on training. Some were really great fun, some were … not so much. Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham was one of my favourites - it's actually a really entertaining and very funny film. This song - which I genuinely ADORE - became part of the unofficial soundtrack to the whole training experience, and we even took to doing the dance, complete with shoulder wobbles, hip-bobbing and full-on arm movements just like in the video below. We actually got pretty good at it. Long story short: you can't beat a movie with an epic dance sequence slap-bang in the middle of it.

07. You've Got the Love by Florence and the Machine
I've never been a big fan of Florence and the Machine, but that changed during training thanks to a lovely lady called Mari. Around the time we were all really struggling with the gruelling schedule, the late nights and early starts, and all manner of injuries and illness, Mari said something along the lines of "if you're feeling like shit just listen to this song and know there's always someone there to help." She was right, and every time I hear this track now I can't help but think of her and my fellow trainees and remember how we really were all there for one another.

08. A Billion Grains of Sand by The Californian
How could I compile a CD in homage to my time in California and not include a song by one of my favourite bands, The Californian? Simple answer: I couldn't. This track is by far my favourite song off the band's self-titled debut album. It's a short, spunky blast of perfection infused with that inimitable West Coast feel, and I listened to it A LOT while exploring the small part of LA that I came to call home for 10 weeks. My one disappointment about my time in Los Angeles was that I never got to see the band play live; hopefully I'll rectify that some time in the future.

09. California Waiting by Kings of Leon
I kind of went through a phase of loving Kings of Leon a few years back, then got bored of them and have basically ignored them ever since. This song, however, is just brilliant. It's another one of those tracks that I loved to listen to while wandering around LA, soaking in the atmosphere and getting horrifically sunburnt. I adore the simplicity of the lyric "every little thing is going to be just right," which was another of those little things that helped get me through some of the more difficult times at training, and it also helps that it's a song you can dance around to like a loon.

10. We Are Young by Fun.
Another song that became part of our training soundtrack, and I can remember exactly at what point. It was actually after training had finished and a few of us who'd stayed back in LA were in a car driving back from Manhattan Beach to the hotel when this came on the radio. We didn't know who it was but we all sang along to it, because after everything we'd been through, as the song said, we felt young, like we could burn brighter than the sun. Simple as that. As soon as I got back to my room I googled the lyrics, found out it was by Fun. and moments later had downloaded it.

11. Love Is life - Pyar Karo by Bikram Choudhury
Yeah, no kidding - this is a song by the guy who created the yoga I trawled over to LA to learn how to teach. Actually Bikram's got a couple of albums, and at the end each of his classes as we lay on our mats in savasana he would have one of his songs played out to us. Most were ballads, but this one, which I suspect he had kept back for the explosion of utter joy he knew we'd experience at the end of our very last class with him on the final Friday evening, is some sort of utterly phenomenal rave track. I remember like it was yesterday how this song started playing at the end of that class, and how we all jumped up and started dancing around the Radisson's ballroom/yoga room with a combination of relief, excitement and joy that we'd survived 'killing ourselves for nine weeks in Bikram's torture chamber.' This, perhaps more than anything else I've included on this CD, reminds me most of that remarkable time I spent in LA.

Sadly I can't find a link to it anywhere. But trust me, while it may not mean as much to you as it does to me, you NEED to hear this song at least one time.


So there we go: another year, another mix CD. Thanks to Big Bro for his unwitting help in compiling this one; there were so many songs that he included on the playlist he made for me that I came to associate with specific moments from my time in California that it would've been impossible to include them all - he did a grand job. And big love to everyone I met at training who had a special song that meant something to them - HI GUYS! I miss you all each and every day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How I learnt to love ebooks

Against everything I stand for, an incredible thing happened last week: I got a Kindle.

If you know anything about me one thing you'll know for sure is that I'm passionate about books - the way they look, the way they feel, and the way they smell; you can't beat the smell of a good book. Let's not beat around the bush - I'm basically a book pervert. I love them as objects; I love that every shelf in my house is heaving under the weight of gorgeous books.

But I also get the ebook thing. For a long time right up until I left my old company I was constantly banging on about digitising our old books and releasing them as ebooks. I released my own book as a digital version first, a good few months before the print one burst into life (while we're on the subject, here's some shameless whoring: whichever version shivers yer timbers YOU SHOULD TOTALLY BUY IT!). Anyway, I totally got that people wanted the convenience of having a small device that could hold loads of books rather than actually have loads of books. I just didn't necessarily want one myself.

I was basically the beardy dude who still buys vinyl while all the kids are downloading mp3s.

And it wasn't helped by the fact that early Kindles were pretty clunky looking things that looked like they'd fallen off the wall of a bad 1970s sci-fi film. They lacked the simple elegance of, say, my beloved iPad. I've dabbled in ebooks before, of course. I've read two on my iPad.

The danger here, though, is that I'm really easily distracted. With the iPad it's too easy for me to stop reading and start checking my email. And twitter. And Facebook. And, ooo, I'll just have a quick go on Angry Birds.

It took me weeks to read my first ebook, which is shocking because it was Winnie the Pooh and let's face it, that thing's hardly War and Peace in length.

So reading on my iPad was a BAD IDEA and Kindles were ugly. Hooray for real books!

But then all of a sudden kindles became quite nice looking things (dare I say a little bit sexy) and I kind of went 'ooo,' with a little high-pitched upturn at the end. The real turning point came when they announced the Kindle Paperwhite back in October - a touchscreen ereader with a lovely backlight so you can read it in the dark and I came to the realisation that I really quite liked the idea of being snuggled down in bed reading in the dark.

Another factor was that every now and then I like to read a really shitty Star Trek novel. I'm not a massive fan of Star Trek novels these days - I think they're pretty badly written stories by numbers - but who doesn't enjoy a crappy easy to read book once in a while? I reasoned that if I got a kindle I could hide my Trekkie shame away on a digital bookshelf rather than display it for all to see on my already straining real one.

And so I ordered a Kindle Paperwhite 3G.

It turned up last week and against all my ingrained expectations I love it, quite possibly a little too much. It's so refreshingly honest in the fact that it is only an ereader and does not try to be an all singing all dancing device like an iPad. It's light, a brilliant, compact size (I can hold it in one hand while holding a cup of tea in the other), and it's even got a bit of a grain on the screen to make it feel more like paper.

My first purchase was a shitty Star Trek novel, which is living up to expectations by being a bit shitty, but a remarkable thing is happening: the kindle genuinely seems to have reawakened my passion for reading. I'm pretty sure if I was reading the physical copy of the Trek book I would currently be stalled somewhere around page 50; with the Kindles I'm just excited about reading and am over halfway through at the time of writing. And I'm already thinking about what I want to read on it next.

Remarkably, I've also come to the realisation that it's not just shitty Star Trek novels I want to read on it, either. I can genuinely see myself buying a significant proportion of my books on it. Definitely not graphic novels or beautifully designed and packaged books that just demand to be bought as a physical item, but definitely most of the average paperbacks I would otherwise buy.

What's even more exciting is that a lot of old, out of print books are available on Kindle too. Yes, I can finally finish reading William Shatner's Tekwar series. You don't know how exciting I find that prospect.

Basically, I'm sold.

Now, we just need Glade to produce an old book smell plugin air freshener and the future will well and truly have arrived.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The frape incident

Tragic news, my friends: this week I was BRUTALLY FRAPED.

This is how it happened:

I went to the studio early on Tuesday evening to do a bit of teacher timetabling work, and also because I wanted to practice the 6.30pm class before teaching the 8.15. So I got there and I do the scheduling (working so hard, I might add, that the tip of my tongue was poking out the corner of my mouth), which involves keeping an online schedule, an excel spreadsheet, and a wall chart up to date, as well as letting the other members of Team Bikram Yoga Surbiton know what's going on via Facebook.

At some point after finishing the work, however, I leave the office and mill about in reception before heading into class without, it turns out, LOGGING OFF FROM FACEBOOK.

So I practice the 6.30 (which was a lovely class to take part in) and teach the 8.15 (which was a lovely class to teach), meaning that I'm away from any form of contact for well over three hours. After seeing all my students out a little after 10pm I head into the changing rooms, shower, and it's then, as I'm sitting in my pants checking my email on my phone that I realise something is amiss.

Twenty-one emails.

Twenty-one emails - all saying '[whoever] left a comment on your status update.'

That's odd, I thought, as I hadn't updated my status update in a couple of days - why would so many people be commenting on an old status?

And it's then that I saw a comment from one of my teacher training pals that said 'are you coming out love?' that realisation dawned.

I literally threw on my trousers, threw open the door to the men's changing rooms and shouted out our lovely Tuesday night receptionist "WHO FRAPED ME!?"

"I'M NOT ALLOWED TO SAY!" she squeaked back while attempting to hide behind the front desk.

"WHO WAS IT?!" I demanded. "WAS IT-"

And then I realised I only had myself to blame.

Back in the summer our lovely manager Shiv had left her Facebook open and I'd changed her status to say something like 'Tim Leng is my favourite teacher. So masculine, such a strong voice. Sometimes I sit by the studio door with a wistful look on my face just listening to him teach.'

At the time she had vowed revenge, but I assured her it would never happen because I was always so careful about logging off of Facebook. The one time, months later, when I had slipped up and she'd pounced - like a frapey ninja.

'I think it is time to let the real Tim be free. I hope you can all accept it,' she had written.

And while it was a very ambiguous statement, everyone had decided it meant I was coming out.

My favourite comments included:

• 'I am ready for the real Tim.'
• The aforementioned 'Are you coming out love?'
• 'Hi Yogi, I hope this means what I think it does. [Smiley face] Exciting!!! Xoxo
• Be free Timothy! We love you. xx

Rather than be utterly incensed, I actually found the whole thing hilarious, and later congratulated Shiv on what I dubbed The Best Frape Ever. And what's really lovely is that everyone was so supportive of me coming out - but, boys, I'm sorry to say there will be no Timmy love for you other than the platonic kind. And girls? I'm sorry to say I'm still on the prowl looking to ensnare one of your kind as The Future Mrs Leng, however much you might all shudder at the thought.

That said, I was a little bit surprised at how everyone's attitude was all, like, 'oh, you're finally coming out? About time mate.'