Friday, June 29, 2007

A Post That Does Little More Than Tread Water

Hey, at least I'm honest.

Anyway, still not quite free enough to post properly, though hope to do so on Sunday evening.

And by way of proving it's lack of time and not inclination that's led to my radio silence, I can assure you of three things I wish to post soon:

1. A frankly startling picture of a man enjoying an inappropriate relationship with an oversized item of foodstuff, worryingly aimed at a younger audience;

2. Proof - if proof be need be - that I'm ahead of the game when it comes to stating the truth, especially in an offhand and dismissive fashion; and

3. Confirmation of an aspect of my personal life which many of you might already know, but which I've kind of skirted around in online terms

Obviously, I'm keenest to talk about item 3, but let's face it, you really want to see the picture referred to in 1, don't you?

Yep, I thought so.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Gon Out Backson Bisy Backson*

A variety of things are keeping me from posting at the moment, so I'd respectfully point your attention to the list of blog-links at right, where you'll find many amusing and insightful clusters of words to keep you entertained whilst I'm uncharacteristically quiet.

Bus silence isn't necessarily a bad thing, as Debussy, Depeche Mode and Luigi Russolo knew. And as 'Codename V' puts it so memorably in the (original graphic novel version of) 'V for Vendetta':
"...silence is a fragile thing. One loud noise and it's gone. Noise is relative to the silence preceding it. The more absolute the hush, the more shocking the thunderclap".

Granted, saying that kind of builds up the expectation that my next post (probably in a few days' time) will be something arse-kickingly great, but I simply couldn't resist the temptation to post that quote.

*If you don't recognise that phrase, I'd respectfully suggest that you (as Gillian McKeith might homonymically agree) pay a bit more attention to Pooh.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Notes From A Small Gathering

Not much time to post tonight, as I spent my non-working hours at a BBC Writers' Workshop (I know), but I have to note - before it slips my mind - that I was far from the only person there scribbling in a Moleskine notebook.

I've written before about how I like to use a slightly swanky notebook and pen when I'm writing - sympathetic magic, perhaps - and it was interesting to see how I'm not alone in this.

Whether this kind of faith in (or reliance on) little trinkets of writer-ness is in any way justified, I wouldn't want to say, but it's pretty clear that I'm not the only person to have splashed out a bit of cash on stationery in the hope that maybe it can't hurt...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It Wasn't Acceptable In The '80s, And It's Not Acceptable Now

As I may have mentioned before, I used to work in a bookshop when I was a teenager. It was a chain called Sherratt & Hughes, who are now (after several more name and ownership changes) better known as Waterstones. This was all about twenty years ago, which makes it pretty much the time of the publication of Salman Rushdie's novel 'The Satanic Verses'.

The shop was (and indeed still is) in Sheffield, which meant that we were close enough to the book-burning in Bradford for it to feel slightly frightening, and though as a weekend staff member I had far less to do with the whole situation than many of the other staff, it still felt like a serious issue. The stance of the bookshop at the time was that we wouldn't be stocking the book, but if customers wanted to order it, we'd fulfil those orders, though the books would be stored behind the Customer Orders desk, where they were wrapped in carrier bags. The idea was that it wouldn't be seen as immediately inflammatory, and that people who wanted to get the book could do so. As far as I know we didn't have anyone come into the shop and cause a fuss either way, so I guess this was a pretty good approach in practical terms.

For the record, my stance on the issue of the book is pretty straightforward, and probably won't come as a surprise; as far as I'm concerned, Rushdie has a perfect right to write whatever he wants, about Islam or any other subject. The freedom to express oneself is a very fundamental one, and no-one should feel cowed into self-censorship by threats of violence or any other kind of intimidation. This applies just as much to any other religion, or indeed political ideas: as far as I can see, there is no reason - ethical or legal - why anyone should be restrained from saying whatever they want, in verbal or written form. This includes the freedom to cause offence, as far as I'm concerned - because an equal freedom to disagree naturally applies as well. And that's how discussion and debate and learning all work together, as does being civilised and adult about things - as opposed to just shouting and threatening.

So, if Rushdie wants to write a book which could be interpreted as offensive to one religion (and I'll get into that in a moment), he's entitled to do so. If Dan Brown wants to write a book which offends Christians, there's no reason he shouldn't (as I've no doubt said before, I find The Da Vinci Code offensive on literary grounds, but that's another issue - still doesn’t mean I don't think he should be allowed to write or publish, mind). If someone wants to write a book attacking everything I believe, then again, they should be fully entitled to do so, without me shouting at them and threatening to kill them. Because, amazingly enough, I'm actually able to accept that there are people walking around who have different ideas to me.

Speaking of the specifics of The Satanic Verses; I'm able to do that, because I've read the book. I'm not suggesting that you should attempt to read the book before deciding whether you feel Rushdie was right or wrong to have written it - though a lot of people seem to have decided 'he was asking for it' on the basis of what they've been told about the book, which seems questionable to me - but I do think that the people who are so offended by it should make an attempt to read it, rather than simply going on what they've been told by religious leaders. Going back to the start of the fuss surrounding the book, I find it very hard to believe that every religious figure voicing an opinion actually read the entirety of an 500-page hardback book written in a sprawling Magic realism style, with characters and places changing names and aspects from chapter to chapter… which was, as far as I know, only available in English at the time. I suspect a lot of people are going on what they've been told about the content of the book, which is often a mistake, as people tend to lie - especially to exaggerate or minimise the degree of offence involved (and in that I include myself - I have an agenda here, obviously, so I recommend you read the book and decide for yourself).

Just to make this absolutely clear, I believe in unfettered freedom of expression, and the right for people to make their own minds up about what they want to read or see or listen to or whatever. This extends to books on shelves, programmes on TV and radio, art being created, films being made, articles being written, whatever; in fact, I'd go so far as to say that the kind of items which are likely to offend my beliefs and sensibilities are those which I most think deserve to be aired. I'm not so vain as to think I'm right all the time, nor to think that I know best for other people all the time. That's human vanity, which we need to move beyond - and as a species, we certainly need to stop claiming to have some greater power on our sides when it comes to this kind of discussion.

Given that, I think it was very wrong indeed that a fatwa was issued against Rushdie in 1989, and only right that the Iranian government said it no longer supported the fatwa in 1998.

All this, of course, is swirling round my mind as the fuss about Rushdie rears its head once more, as he's been given a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours, for his services to literature. Leaving aside whether you think this is right (and I think, for context, it's worth bearing in mind that June Sarpong was made an MBE in the New Year Honours), a number of people seem to have interpreted the action as a deliberate insult to Islam, and we seem set to rehash the same debate all over again - though this time with the backdrop slightly changed, as Islam and acts of violence have unfortunately become linked in the minds of many people (which is in no way reflective of true Islam, of course - no more than shooting doctors outside abortion clinics is following the teachings of Jesus). And I'm sincerely hoping that we won't start to hear people sounding more iffy about Rushdie's right to write whatever he wants this time round.

I mean, people are utterly free to say whatever they like about the subject (and indeed any other), but in doing so, they have to bear in mind that they're exercising exactly the same right which they're seeking to quash in Salman Rushdie. That's not irony, it's hypocrisy, and we should all be free to point it out.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

You're The Stray Thoughts That I Want

  1. Much to my amusement, I remember this from comics I read when I was younger. At the time, I wanted to send off for the whole thing, but now... well, not so much.
  2. What's that you say? Aside from startlingly regular updates to my blog, what am I writing at the moment? Well, I appreciate your interest, and since you asked, I'm currently working on a radio play, my second novel (slowly, granted), a one-off TV update of my favourite play (clue: big nose), and a 'spec script' for Frasier which is nothing of the sort given that the show's been off the air for years, but is designed to show me using other people's characters. And I have a couple of ideas for one-off film type things, which will probably have to wait until I can get people sufficiently interested in my ideas that they want to throw money my way. I mean, come on, I've got to be realistic here...
  3. You may have seen Ricky Gervais advertising his new tour on TV. Obviously expensive to buy prime time advert slots, which goes some way to explaining why the script appears to have had minimal attention paid to it. Woefully unfunny, in my opinion, and several months too late to be at all topical, but they do have the taste of the end drawing nigh, to my mind. Gervais, like everyone else, was terrific in The Office, but if you look at that show in the sequence of his career (The 11 O'Clock Show, his chat show, THEN The Office and Extras), then it looks more and more like an aberration, that the stuff since then is a return to his natural form, and that the limited material in that seam has been all but mined. He has the look of a man who's painfully aware that his best work may well be behind him - which must be a terrible thing to suspect, but he does seem too content to hide behind irony whilst effectively trotting out the same old jokes at the expense of minorities and the disabled and the like. Still, with Bernard Manning now dead, Gervais has a clear run. Run, Ricky, Run!
  4. I've booked to have laser surgery on my eyes in a month or so, and no doubt that will have two side-effects; firstly, that I may go quiet for a few days while my eyes recover, and secondly, that I'll probably go on and on and on about it, almost as much as I did about the Marathon. Consider this fair warning.
  5. Joss Whedon, like Alan Ball, Aaron Sorkin and a number of other folks, knows about writing. And when he wants to, he can write more than just quippy plots - see here for an example. All good points, I think.
  6. Concluding this linkfrenzy of a post, look at the Bat-Pod!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Saturday Night's All Right For Watching

I'm nowhere near the first person to say this, but the last four episodes of Doctor Who have been absolutely cracking television.

The two-parter written by Paul Cornell (from which the image to the left is taken) was very strong indeed, doing some genuinely new things with the character (well, if you haven't read Cornell's original novel version before, that is - you can download it for free here), and the episode 'Blink' is as good as I've come to expect from Steven 'Coupling' Moffat, who's rightly won awards for episodes in the past two series.

Saturday's episode was written by series head writer and general guiding light Russell T Davies, and whilst it wasn't as strong in its premise, the final third featured some plot payoffs from previous episodes and an unexpected return which left us on a terrific cliffhanger (even my beloved, who has previously said that she doesn't care for the programme, said "I want to watch the next episode now!"... though this may be more to do with her feelings for the actor David Tennant than anything else).

I don't know if the final two episodes of this series will hold to this standard (and there were several episodes earlier in the run which were pretty weak, such as the Dalek two-parter), but I had that delightful feeling on Saturday evening of feeling actively excited about what was happening in the programme.

Which is, of course, the trick, and one which isn't necessarily easy to pull off: making the viewer give a damn about things which, by virtue of being fictional, arguably don't matter at all. And it's all the more impressive because it's the character bits which often feel like they matter the most.

Ironically, this is the very thing which too many of the soap operas seem to lose sight of as they ramp up their various 'events' and stunts. Paradoxical that a bit of science fiction should draw its strength from being down to earth, but really, that's as it should be - if we don't care about the people who are at risk in the made-up series of events, the fact their planet's about to explode is hardly going to pass the all-important 'So what?' test, is it ?

Whisky Tango Foxtrot, As They Say

I'll cheerfully admit that I nicked this from the blog of John Finnemore, but I think it needs wider circulation, because... well, I mean, what the hell?

I can't really think of anything witty or mocking or sarcastic to say because the picture says it all, doesn't it? Not so much a thousand words, more all of them.

But, as I say: what the hell?

Take A Guess Who These Chaps Are

No, go on, have a guess.

Any idea? No, I'm not surprised.

But, according to the BBC website, these are the folks who've been cast in a musical telling the story of the split-now-4/5-reformed pop group Take That.

Amazingly, the musical does not have the blessing of members of the group.

I can't imagine why.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Blam! Splat! Comics Aren't Just For Kids!

1992 : Hard Boiled, by the comic art expert (and later designer of the Matrix films), Geof Darrow.

And then, here in 2007, the cover to the new comic by Kyle Baker. Thing is, Baker's a terrifically talented comic writer / artist too.

Actually, I doubt it's a swipe, but I wanted to point out the similarity anyway (chances are there's a Frontline Combat cover from the old EC comics which predates this layout anyway).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"...and that's our show!"

So, then, here are some of the shows which I'll be pitching to heads of TV channels, as soon as I get a meeting booked with them by my agent (and as soon as I get an agent):

"Pimp My Bride"
High Concept: Indecent Proposal meets O.Henry's 'The Gift of the Magi'
Scenario: Two couples compete for the wedding of their dreams in the run-up to the big day, with the groom whoring his bride for a month. The couple who gets the most money from the woman demeaning herself wins, and their big day is paid for by the show.
Possible Host/Star: June Sarpong
Suitable for Channel(s): Five Life, MTV Base
Notes: Possible follow-up show six months after the event to see if they're still married, or even on speaking terms. Could be adapted slightly to cover civil partnerships.

"Whose Sari Now?"
High Concept: Desi Through The Keyhole
Scenario: Stars from the Indian Subcontinent open their homes to a camera crew, and this footage is shown to a panel of celebrities who have to try and divine whose home it is.
Possible Host/Star: Jade Goody (or her mother)
Suitable for Channel(s): BBC Three, Zee TV
Notes: Theme tune should be easy to organise. Concept might be slightly limited due to bad-pun-derived nature of show, so no more than six series should probably be made.

"Caprice and Whimsy"
High Concept: Quantum Leap with Porcelain miniatures and cheesecake
Scenario: 'Model' Caprice is speeding one day when she is stopped by the police. She argues with the arresting officer, not realising he has magic powers, and he shrinks her down to a small size and banishes her to Whimsy on the Why, a town comprised of porcelain miniatures made by Wade Pottery. She has to make amends byrighting wrongs - solving crimes, providing veterinary assistance to the porcelain animals, etc, until such time as the magical policeman decides she can return to normal size. He is, however, a man of changeable mood, thus providing another level of meaning to the show's title. Oh, and when Caprice shrinks, she can no longer find clothes to fit, so spends the majority of the episodes in her underwear.
Possible Host/Star: Caprice Bourret, a green-screen studio
Suitable for Channel(s): ITV4, Men and Motors
Notes: Possible tagline for promo posters - 'Life on Bras'. Low wardrobe budget requirement. Possible hurdle if Wade pottery not co-operative (re-work as 'Hornby and Hornby [Decreased]', with novelist living in train-based setting)? Caprice probably available, though will require services of a driver until 25 August 2007 (expense needs to be factored into series budget).

...I know, I know, I'm the Glen A. Larson of the new millennium. I shall, of course, ensure I get the appropriate on-screen credits.

Earwitness Testimony

As you may well have seen in the news, the top two floors of a building here in London collapsed yesterday afternoon around 4pm. No fatalities, thankfully, and people in nearby buildings - such as myself - were evacuated.

However, despite the various claims being made on interweb news sites about how the shower of debris was preceded by an explosion, I just want to go on record as one who both has a good memory and also heard the event, as saying that there was no sound of an explosion at all, but rather a thunderous sound of bricks or similar falling to earth, which is pretty much what happened.

I don't want to sound unkind, but given that, within minutes of the event, the BBC website featured claims about 'witnesses hearing an explosion', I'd suggest some people need to figure out exactly why they were rewriting events so very quickly to introduce elements which were entirely absent from the actual event.

Building up their parts in the story, I fear, but this is what happens all too often when something unpleasant happens - people seem all too keen to annex themselves to tragedy in some way, even if it is, let's be honest, nothing to do with them.

Do I sound harsh or unkind? Maybe, but it's been suggested that we rewrite memories of past events to fit our current emotional needs, and if that's true, who are these people who need to change their recollection of an event within mere minutes of its occurrence? They're clearly not mentally healthy, and we certainly shouldn't be listening to them.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Eagle-Eye Cherry Has Nothing On Me*

Another in my series of pedantic spottings of things which are probably not worthy of note, but...

Given the precision with which Messrs Fry and Laurie delight in using language, and the fact that P.G. Wodehouse is respected by both those chaps and many millions of other folks the world over (including me) for the skill with which he uses words as well, is it not a little unfortunate that they appear to have pluralised the man before adding the possessive apostrophe on this DVD cover?

Tsk, and indeed, tsk.

*I recall the disappointment with which I noted that this musician, despite his optimistic name, frequently wears glasses.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Um, is it just me, or ...

As you know, I wouldn't normally post at the weekend, but I thought I'd break with tradition to ask: am I the first person to ask if the current advert from PC World features an obscenity?

You can barely make it out in the jpeg here (but see below for a link to a clearer version), but in the top row of the album covers on the screen, fifth one along (just above the Mutya Buena cover) the cover with the orange and purple words seems... well, it seems to be telling the viewer of the ad to go away in no uncertain terms.

It could be me just looking for filth, but are we looking at a prank played by a far-from-gruntled employee here?

I've uploaded a slightly more visible version of the above shot to my webspace - go here to have a look, and let me know what you reckon. Naturally, I like to think I'm the first person to spot this, but of course if I'm just imagining it (it could well be an album cover I'm not familiar with), please let me know... if not, should I give PC World or the Advertising Standards people a call, do you think?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

No Chin-Stroking Here

I don't read Word magazine that frequently, but the latest issue contains a brief article on Michael Chabon, an author who I have a lot of time for (his book The Adventures of Kavalier and Klay won the Pulitzer, and deservedly so; it was very well written indeed), and I found myself smiling and almost wanting to punch the air and shout 'Yes! Yes! Yes!' as I read the following assessment of Chabon and some of his fellow american writers.

For me, Andrew Harrison absolutely nails it when he says:
"What used to be dismissed as middlebrow - the adventure novel by the 'real' writer, the sci-fi story that wants to win the Booker - is unquestionably becoming the man event in new fiction. Next to it our British fiction staples, all rocky middle-class marriages or west London novelists wrestling with their writer's blocks, look meek and unambitious."

I've been promising myself for a while that I'll post something about writing, and my increasingly-strongly held opinions about that subject, but I think we all know that means a lengthy and meandering post. So, in the meantime, please let the short quote above act as a short taste of things to come, and one which made me feel, to paraphrase the comment attributed to C.S.Lewis in Shadowlands, that I was not alone.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

To Catch A Thief

In the 1999 film Bowfinger, successful comedian Steve Martin wrote the screenplay in which he co-stars with equally successful comedian Eddie Murphy.

In the BBC TV series Hustle (first aired 2004), a group of con artists specialise in carrying out scams on the rich. This usually involves stealing jewels, antiques or cash, but the approach also appears to extend to promotional taglines.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Finishing Line

All right, this is the last time I’ll mention it, and I’ll be removing the widget from the column to the right at the end of the week, but if you haven’t yet sponsored me for the London Marathon (which I did finish, honest), please don’t hold back from doing so.

There’s a link on the Justgiving widget to the right, which takes you to my sponsor page – recently revised to provide a picture of me actually running – where you can sponsor from the comfort of… well, wherever you happen to be at the moment. I hope it’s comfortable, anyway, that’d certainly help you be in the right frame of mind to donate.

Many, many thanks to those of you who’ve sponsored me already – I thank you, and Phoenix House, the charity I did it for, thanks you too. You are on my ‘nice’ list.

Won’t mention this again, I promise (which, for some of you, might be such welcome news you suddenly feel like donating money)…

From Brain to Blog to Page to mp3

Well, those of you with memories might well recall that, back in March of this year, I was jolly pleased to be part of Shaggy Blog Stories, a book for Comic Relief. I haven’t reviewed it here because of the obvious conflict of interests, but I liked it a lot (for the other 99 contributions, I mean, not mine, I’d read that one before).

Anyone, the not-evil genius behind it, Mike of Troubled Diva has gone and convinced 14 of the contributors to turn it into a podcast, and as a shameless self-publicist with access to a recording studio, I’m part of it.

So, the Shaggy Blog Stories Podcast is now available to buy and download here. It’s over an hour long for a mere £2, of which 80% goes to Comic Relief, but if you’re not sure if you want to buy it, then you can listen to a free two-minute preview (again, at this page), which includes mad-out-of-context snippets from the readings, including mine.

Unsurprisingly , I urge you to buy it – the book’s very funny, but if you’re one of these people who has no time for books and prefers to download ringletones onto your Nintendo J-Pod, this will be a way for you to have a laugh, contribute to a worthy cause, and hear my dulcet tones, all at the same time.


Ironically enough, ‘logos’ is a word with many meanings, mostly linked to religion and philosophy

So, that there is the logo (or at least its current incarnation) for the London Olympics. Not too impressive, I feel, and I'm far from the first person to say it.

If you look online and elsewhere, you'll see loads of people commenting on it (and for my money Marie at Struggling Author has probably most succinctly nailed the problems with it), but as a London resident and opinionated swine, could I hold off from spouting forth about it ? No, I could not.

It isn't a very pretty logo at all, and it does look like a bit of graffiti or similar, and I have to say that I think this is the problem with it; the accompanying press releases seem to emphasise the way it's meant to appeal to the young, and once you start talking like that, you almost invariably end up being patronising, or at the least, lacking any sense of conviction or certainty about what you're up to. Decision by committee and all that.

And that logo looks like a rather pointed and cynical attempt to garner some kind of street cred with a faux-edgy design (unfortunately at a time when a lot of pop musicians are almost tilting back towards a smoother, almost big-band sound and look - I'm thinking particularly of Beyonce and Christina's stuff here), and it feels like a teacher or aged relative trying to relate to the kids - if it's done without the intention being clear, it might work, but when you point at something and say 'look kids, we're cool like you are! Well wicked!', it just gets cringeworthy.

Combined with all this ill-judged and ultimately flawed stuff about aiming to appeal to the kids, though, is a bunch of nonsense about branding and the like - here's a sample from Seb Coe:

"This is the vision at the very heart of our brand. It will define the venues we build and the Games we hold…"

Sounds almost impressive, doesn't it ? Well, if you think that brandspeak means anything, maybe. As it is, what he says means nothing at all, and doesn't even make sense - so the logo is the vision at the heart of the brand, is it ? And that means that the core of the vision is … um, quite ugly? Or what? I don't know. And heaven forbid that this vision should define the venues that are built - I live in London, and I'd rather we didn't have a spate of ill-considered, angular and primary-coloured venues being built. And god knows what he means about it informing the Games that take place - maybe shot putt and javelin will be put aside in favour of the Women's Marathon Stickle-Brick Championships or something? I have no idea.

And that's my point: the language being used is nonsensical adspeak, the kind of marketing waffle which is used to hide the fact that there's not really been a lot of thought or effort been put in to the end result. Rather like a lot of modern art, it's said with the implied assertion that if you don't get it, you're somehow at fault, which isn't really the case, as the thing about branding is that a lot of it works backwards, seeming to believe that if you design a nice logo or whatever, people will automatically feel some affection for the item in question. Not so. The reason why logos for Coke, Disney, Apple or whoever have some kind of resonance for the viewer is because they've already got a body of work or popularity behind them, and the logo is the front-end or public face of that. I'm not well-versed in the art of semiotics and the like, but I understand that there's a distinction which is drawn between the signifier (here, the logo) and the signified (the item it symbolises).For the Chaos Magicians amongst you, that's a sigil.

This is where symbols come from - people wear crosses or Stars of David or Crescent Moons and Stars on chains because it's a shorthand for a series of ideas which have meaning for them. These symbols - and they're invariably wordless like the Nike Swoosh or the Apple apple (hmm) - are a shorthand for something people have some kind of like for. You can't just design a logo and think it's going to make people like the product if it doesn't work or entertain or whatever. Which is the mistake in the notion of 'building brands' - the people who actually make the computers or the clothes or the films or whatever are the ones who build something, the marketers just flog stuff. They're glorified barrow boys, no matter how much they try (like an untalented or unimaginative artist) to hide it under a barrage of fancy-sounding (though ultimately hollow) terms.

I semi-digress, but to summarise: the 2012 Olympic logo and its accompanying video (which looks positively migrainous to me) hardly appear like £400,000 worth of effort (the cost, apparently - I'd love to see that bill broken down into its component parts), the talk about attracting the young people strikes me as patronising (so god only knows what the yoof of today will make of it), and the brand-speak is vapid and meaningless. Oh, and despite what MPs and the like keep saying, I won't be fooled and call it a brand - it's a logo, and an ugly one at that.

Though I do like the hubristic way they've put a little 'TM' to the right of it all, to ensure we know it's a Trademark. Don't worry, 2012 Olympic folks, I don't think anyone's going to try to pass off that logo as their own work. Thinking about it, though, if I ever decide to give solitude and celibacy a try I might bootleg the logo and put it on a t-shirt, to be sure of repelling people.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Introducing The Clothes Line According To...

Debenhams on Jasper Conran there.

Their Ironymeter needs its batteries replaced, I fear.

Far-from-Reality TV

So, unless I misread it, the situation is this: following the furore over racism in Celebrity Big Brother earlier this year (when three women were accused of racist bullying towards another woman), the producers have decided it would be wise to have an all-female array of contestants in the civilian version of the show (at least initially), to avoid that kind of conflict happening again.

Makes perfect sense to me. But then again, me am from Bizarro world.

Is he in Heaven? Is He in Hell?

No, but I'm back now.

I seem to recall it's a curse/blessing to 'live in interesting times'. I am doing just that, and thus the complete and utter breakdown in my all-too-recently avowed intention to post in line with the number of working days in the week

Don't complain, though, am back now, and will post repeatedly this week, if not today.

In the meantime, why not hop over to The Writing Factory? M'colleague has redecorated and is updating with interesting stuff like a man repossessed. The link is in the column to the right...