28.02.2002 - Hose pipe queens, please note...

Reading the news on the BBC's website last night I spotted a story about a Ryanair jet that landed at Stanstead; one engine on fire. It was met by the emergency services that were called to attend the troubled aircraft. All passengers and crew were evacuated safely, the fire was put out and no one was injured. "Not much of a story" I hear you say. Although it must've been traumatic for all those involved, I'd have to agree that it was a bit of a non event. The thing that caught my eye in this (almost) news item was a link to the Essex County Fire And Rescue Service. Their website is wonderfully cheesy and not what you'd expect from your local fire brigade. I mean, you'd think that such a site would be a sober and serious affair - and it does deal with serious issues - it's just that with its Flash intro and background music it's more like a fan site. They've got something for everyone; fire safety advice and a quiz, a screensaver calendar page, pictures from different blazes they've tackled and even downloadable videos of the boys in action. So whether you're interested in how to identify fire hazards around the home or whether you're a fan of fire engines, an arsonist or just into firemen; this site's got something for you.

Perhaps they should introduce a chat room and web cam?
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27.02.2002 - Red Ken strikes again...

So Ken Livingstone is going to introduce a toll for vehicles entering central London. Hoorah! I never thought I'd live to see the day when this was introduced in a British city. As of Monday February 17th 2003 London's mayor announced that it'll cost you £5 per day to drive into the heart of the capital. And all the revenue is to be ploughed back into improving transportation. "Oh yeah!" I hear you say. Why should I believe Ken Livingstone when I would not believe such a pledge from the Government? Well, for a start the Government is run by Phoney Tony (tough on everything and tough on the causes of everything...) but Red Ken has a pedigree of integrity going back years. Before you take into account the policies he's pushed through since becoming Mayor (the Partnerships Register, for example) I can remember when he was leader of the GLC in the early Eighties. I remember the sense he talked then; one of the few voices that could be heard above Maggie's shrill battle cries before she abolished the GLC. I can remember the Gay Pride marches, which he supported, that ended in gatherings at Jubilee Gardens - in the heart of London rather than at some remote park that you have to catch a bus to after the march. And I remember his face on the front of all the tabloids branding him as some crazed communist revolutionary - a dangerous man! I believe Red Ken and I hope that I'm not proved wrong. Let's pray that other British towns and cities follow his lead. And by that let's hope that we can improve inner city public transport and cut congestion and pollution. Come the day of reckoning, Ken Livingstone will be looking down at us and smiling at our foolish ways; looking down at us through a hole in the ozone layer that he helped make a little smaller.

We want Ken... we want Ken...
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26.02.2002 - Have a nice day...

Yesterday I wrote about Levi's and reading it back I notice that it is one of the few companies to retain the possessive apostrophe in its name. Most companies have now dropped it: Boots, Tescos, Woolworths, Barclays, Harrods etc. But this omission is a recent thing; As David Crystal points out in his excellent book, "The English Language", in the 1930's you would've bought "Chambers's Encyclopędia" while in the 1970's you would've bought "Chambers English Dictionary". Counter to this trend, some companies retain the apostrophe; Macy's and Kellog's along with Levi's are some of the few that do. In the US there is far more pressure to retain it (all of the companies mentioned that do are American) - might this be US companies looking for a degree of heritage; perhaps it's an attempt to convey some sort of pedigree? The British seem to favour its omission when it comes to company names - in an attempt to haul ourselves out of the 19th Century and compete with American commercialism perhaps we think that it looks too fussy or that it lacks dynamism. Just look how we've adopted American work practices and management styles; companies that start the day by forcing their staff into morale building, back patting sessions that may work in The States but sit so uncomfortably with the British worker. I suppose it's all part of the creeping americanisation of British culture - some of it good; some of it not so good.

Missin' ya already.
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25.02.2002 - Size matters...

I have a 30" waist.... or is it 32"? I have a 32" inside leg.... or is it 34"? I take size 11 shoes... or do I take size 12? Actually, I think my right foot is 11 and my left 12... whatever! Why is it so difficult to buy clothes that actually fit? I would never buy clothes over the internet since sizes vary wildly depending on the manufacturer. I spent forever yesterday trying on jeans. Levi's are small; 30" waist and and I could just about do up the fly if I lay on the floor and breathed in - not a pretty picture. Gas, on the other hand, were fine in that size. The shoe sizes were weirder still; whether I tried on size 11 or 12 made no difference to my right foot yet my left felt pinched in both sizes. Add to this a shop assistant who insisted on using continental shoe sizes and you can imagine my frustration. Perhaps one side of my body is a different size to the other? And my chest size? Don't even go there - anywhere between 38" and 46"; take your pick. Perhaps Levi's use a shorter inch than the one in general use... or is it Gas using a more generous inch?

Using the Levi's standard, I have a 10" penis.
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24.02.2002 - Seeing stars...

Last week's uproar over Ali G's "string of profanities" on Radio 1 has got me thinking. Did we really think that Ali G was going to stick to BBC guidelines? That's the whole point of Ali G; so secure is he in his own culture, language and moral framework, he does not know when he's breaking rules - and therein lies the humour. Anyway what is it with British culture that is so afraid of certain (taboo??) words. I was watching "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" when I was in Denmark last Autumn and the answer to one of the questions was a book title which contained the word "fuck". I cannot, for one moment, envisage that happening on British mainstream TV and at peak family viewing times. Danish radio plays songs through the day that we in Britain choose to censor or not give air time to at all. We'll bleep out the offending word or phrase, dub an alternative over it, air it at some ridiculously late hour or not broadcast it full stop. When us Brits hear "bleep" or read "f**k" in the middle of a sentence does that mean that we've been saved from contemplating the dreaded taboo word? Every time I hear the bleep or see the little stars I'm stopped in my tracks as I try to work out what the censored word is. So, is Denmark a land with few morals because they don't censor as heavily? Is the Danish population uncouth and foul mouthed as a result? No, you have to travel to Britain for such brutish and juvenile behaviour. Perhaps the mark of a civilised society is how few bleeps and **** they use.

Surely, using that as a guide, Britain truly is a 5 star country.
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23.02.2002 - Eurocamp...

As if the Eurovision Song Contest wasn't camp enough, Slovenia's entry this year is Samo Ijubezen (Only Love) sung by Sestre (Sisters), a drag trio. The contest can boast a proud history of camp proven by a huge gay following down the years. Bucks Fizz, Baccara, Olivia Newton-John, Abba, Nana Mouskouri, Plastic Bertrand, Sandie Shaw, Dana International, Celine Dion and Lulu all have a queer fan base of some sort or another - even that testosterone saturated stereotype of red bloodedness himself, Sir Cliff (Lord help us). Do we really need a drag show on top of all that? It won't be safe to turn on the telly on May 25th without corrupting the hearts and minds of European youth. There's even a Eurovision Webring of personal sites to satisfy the strongest Euro lust (no doubt they're all run by homosexuals).

Can't wait to hear what Terry Wogan's got to say.
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22.02.2002 - In search of a new audience...

The English National Opera's production of Verdi's 'A Masked Ball' contains gay rape, transvestitism and fourteen men on the loo. Sounds like a hoot! It'd be interesting to monitor the company's mailing list over the coming months - will there be a surge in new subscriptions and will there be a deluge of the old brigade cancelling their subscriptions? In an age where operas of the soapy variety's fantastic stories reign, I suppose traditional opera companies have to act now to recruit new patrons. Where once they could rely on a highbrow queen's love of the melodramatic and worship of divas like Sutherland and Callas, companies now have to arm themselves for bums on seats warfare in the 21st Century. I commend any company for taking a risk and experimenting. Let's face it, if it weren't for experimentation we'd still be living in trees. Let's hope the grant giving bodies don't penalise them as they've done before when companies dare step out of line. So what if the ENO lose a few of their old guard? They need to invest in the future. An ENO spokesman said, "Those who prefer something more traditional should be warned that there will be some violence and adult themes". What does Dame Kiri think?

Myself, I'm more of a Gilbert and Sullivan fan.
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21.02.2002 - What the world needs now...

Have you seen the Sandals ad? Their prejudice against Lesbian and Gay couples has been discussed before but every time they air that commercial it still really pisses me off. After they refused a booking from a lesbian couple Sandals were forced to display "One male and one female" at the bottom of the screen during the commercial. Would they be allowed to continue running the ad if they had a whites only policy? I think not. And the soundtrack to the ad goes, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No not just for some but for everyone..." Wouldn't it be really unfair if everyone who feels as I do ordered a Sandals brochure and sent it straight back causing Sandals all that unnecessary expense? Not that I'm advocating such action, of course.

"Return to sender, address unknown..."
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20.02.2002 - Are we not drawn onward to new era..?

Today's date is palindromic. And at two minutes past eight this evening the palindrome was extended to 20.02 20.02.2002. The title of today's entry can be extended to, "Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?" That's the problem with Palindromes; the longer they are, the more cumbersome they become. The effort expended in working them out far outweighs their worth. One of the most famous palindromes must be, "A man, a plan, a canal; Panama!" It may not be the longest but at least it makes sense - more than can be said for, "Do good? I? No. Evil anon I deliver. I maim nine more hero-men in Saginaw, sanitary sword a-tuck, Carol, I. Lo! Rack, cut a drowsy rat in Aswan. I gas nine more hero-men in Miami. Reviled, I (Nona) live on. I do, O God." This is merely an exercise in cleverness. The shorter ones are usually more elegant (and memorable) such as, "Gnu dung", "A Toyota" and "Was it Eliot's toilet I saw?" For more palindromes see Neil + Fred's Gigantic List of Palindromes.

Yo! Banana Boy.
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