Wednesday, 31 December 2008

A Happy Ending

Thank you for reading HotVimto in 2008.
See you all again in 2009

[In] Appropriate Crushes - Kate Jackson

You wouldn't think it to look at her, but...

..she's from Bury St. Edmunds.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas Everybody

I'm going away for a few days. Have a good one, everybody.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Adrian Mitchell 1932 - 2008

Adrian Mitchell died on Saturday. His poem, 'Human Beings' was voted the poem people would most like to see sent into space.

Look at your hands
your beautiful useful hands
you’re not an ape
you’re not a parrot
you’re not a slow loris
or a smart missile
you’re human

not british
not american
not israeli
not palestinian
you’re human

not catholic
not protestant
not muslim
not hindu
you’re human

we all start human
we end up human
human first
human last
we’re human
or we’re nothing
nothing but bombs
and poison gas
nothing but guns
and torturers
nothing but slaves
of Greed and War
if we’re not human

look at your body
with its amazing systems
of nerve-wires and blood canals
think about your mind
which can think about itself
and the whole universe
look at your face
which can freeze into horror
or melt into love
look at all that life
all that beauty
you’re human

they are human
we are human
let’s try to be human

Davey Graham 1940 - 2008

I never knew who Davey Graham was until I was thirty, but I knew his greatest tune 'Anji' from childhood. Paul Simon plays a version of it on The Sounds Of Silence album.

YouTube is full of videos of amateur guitar players massacring Anji - it must be the Smoke On The Water of folk music. The best version I found is by Bert Jansch.

Sunday, 21 December 2008


"It may be normal, darling; but I'd rather be natural."

Solstice of Sexuality

'TIS the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks ;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;
The world's whole sap is sunk ;
The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr'd ; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring ;
For I am every dead thing,
In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness ;
He ruin'd me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death — things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that's good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have ;
I, by Love's limbec, am the grave
Of all, that's nothing. Oft a flood
Have we two wept, and so
Drown'd the whole world, us two ; oft did we grow,
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else ; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death—which word wrongs her—
Of the first nothing the elixir grown ;
Were I a man, that I were one
I needs must know ; I should prefer,
If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means ; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love ; all, all some properties invest.
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light, and body must be here.

But I am none ; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
At this time to the Goat is run
To fetch new lust, and give it you,

Enjoy your summer all,
Since she enjoys her long night's festival.
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year's and the day's deep midnight is.

The Queerness of Everything

I wrote back in August about meeting the universe halfway and my unexpected discovery of the application of Queer Theory to science, technology and innovation.

Since I grew up as the child of someone who was very preoccupied with being normal (whatever that was) and nowadays I try to earn a living encouraging clients to subvert hierarchies, change the rules, and turn (selected bits of) the world upside down (in a responsible manner), this speaks to me on several levels.

It's probably the beginning of an answer to the question "What do you do?" I hate it when people ask me that question, because I find it very difficult to answer honestly.

This morning, somebody by the name of Sarah Dopp showed up in my RSS feed, talking about gender and menus.

There’s a longstanding argument that “male” and “female” are a biologically-defined and relevant way to split our population in half. But if you’ve ever met a feminine man or a masculine woman, you know that these categories are way too rough to mean anything more than a stereotype sometimes.

It goes deeper than that... you may have noticed this in cities and among young people — there’s also a growing presence of folks whose genders you just can’t identify. Some of them, if you ask them respectfully, will tell you they feel like both genders. Or neither gender. Or a gender that needs a new name. They might answer to both “he” and “she,” or they might prefer something different. They’re in-between, and that’s where they belong.

Just for a minute, try to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone who has spent a lifetime feeling just as uncomfortable in the men’s locker room as in the women’s locker room — for whatever reason. Imagine having to dress in clothing that just feels wrong to you, everyday, because you know it means you’ll be treated better than you would if you wore what you like. I

magine walking through the world knowing that everyone’s first assumptions about how you see yourself, who you love, and what feels right for you are completely wrong. Now imagine signing up for a cool website, and then being required to select an option from a drop-down menu that doesn’t include anything that represents you.

If you don't know what this means, don't worry. I don't either. But it's a comforting un-knowing that I'm going to sit with over Christmas.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

[In] Appropriate Crushes - Rock Hudson

"I've tried 'em all... but it's Camels for me!"

I never fancied Rock Hudson.

It's probably just as well, really.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Go! Move! Shift!

Born in the middle of the afternoon
On a horse drawn wagon on the old A5
The big twelve wheelers shook my bed
"You can't stop here" the policeman said
"You'd better get born in someplace else"

So, move along, get along,
Move along, get along
Go, move, shift

Born in the tattie hoking time
In a canvas tent near the tattie field
The farmer says "Your work's all done
It's time that you were moving on
You'd better get born in someplace else"

So, move along, get along,
Move along, get along
Go, move, shift

Born on a common near a building site
Where the ground is rutted with the trailor wheels
The local people said to me
"You lower the price of property
You'd better get born in someplace else"

So, move along, get along,
Move along, get along
Go, move, shift

Born at the back of a blackthorn hedge
When the white hoare frost lay all around
No eastern kings came bearing gifts
Instead the order came to shift
You'd better get born in someplace else

So, move along, get along,
Move along, get along
Go, move, shift

The winter sky was hung with stars
And one shone brighter than the rest
The wise men came so stern and strict
And brought the order to evict
You'd better get born in someplace else

So, move along, get along,
Move along, get along
Go, move, shift

Wagon, tent or trailor born
Last month, last year or in far off days
Born here or a thousand miles away
There's always men nearby who say
"You'd better get born in someplace else"

Words and Music by Tommy Makem
Performed by BOILED IN LEAD

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The Discos of Christmas Past - No 3


was one of the great Christmas party seasons. I spent much of it getting obliterated in a strange pub / club / Italian restaurant / knocking shop called Nonno's in Preston, an appropriately nihilistic name.

The original "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was number one (factual answer: Ethiopia is the second oldest Christian state in the world, after Armenia, so yes, I think they probably do) and elsewhere in the Top Ten Prince was threatening to party like it was 1999, Strawberry Switchblade were ripping off one of Sibelius' best riffs, and a (still heterosexual) George Michael was trilling

"Last Christmas,
I gave you my heart
And the very next day
You went off with that tart..."

But this was the tune that made me want to
  • go out and buy a sampler,
  • study Kandinsky and the Italian futurists,
  • forgive Paul Morley his unreadable NME articles, and
  • dance like a drunken idiot.

Close To The Edit

It has one of my favourite basslines ever, naked men by the legendary Victorian photographer Eadweard Muybridge, and some line drawings that look like an influence on the young Homo Escapeons.

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover

Well, can you?

You can't judge an apple by looking at a tree,
You can't judge honey by looking at the bee,
You can't judge a daughter by
looking at the mother,
You can't judge a book by looking at the cover.

Oh can't you see,
Oh you misjudge me,
I look like a farmer,
But I'm a lover,
You can't judge a book by looking at the cover.

Oh come on in closer baby,
Hear what else I gotta say!
You got your radio turned down too low,
Turn it up!

You can't judge sugar by looking at the cane,
You can't judge a woman by looking at her man,
You can't judge a sister by
looking at her brother,
You can't judge a book by looking at the cover.

Oh can't you see,
Oh you misjudge me,
I look like a farmer,
But I'm a Lover,
You can't judge a book by looking at the cover.

You can't judge a fish by lookin' in the pond,
You can't judge right from looking at the wrong,
You can't judge one by looking at the other,
You can't judge a book by looking at the cover.

Oh can't you see,
Oh you misjudge me,
I look like a farmer,
But I'm a lover,
You can't judge a book by looking at the cover.

Words and Music by Wille Dixon

Monday, 15 December 2008

The Discos of Christmas Past - No 2

Not a big disco single, this one, but a big winter favourite for me from Aztec Camera.

Roddy Frame looked so cool in his suede jacket with the tassels down the arms! Now I think he looks thin and young, and a bit nondescript, really. Was his haircut actually fashionable? It makes me think of Bluebottle, off the Goon Show.

The video is a live performance from Pebble Mill at One, a particularly naff daytime TV show that went out at one o'clock in the afternoon.

This song was 3 minutes 11 seconds of jangly musical genius, perfect for walking along side streets and country lanes with my hands stuffed in my pockets, feeling young and in lurve, and thinking about doing something poetic and heroic amid all the Thatcherite bleak midwinter.

We met in the summer
And walked in the fall
And breathless we talked, it was tongues.
Despite what they'll say,
It wasn't youth, we hit the truth

The faces of Strummer
Fell from your wall
And nothing was left were they hung [*]
So sweet and bitter,
They're what we found
So drink them down

Walk out to winter,
I swear I'll be there.
Chill will wake you,
High and dry
You'll wonder why.
Walk out to winter,
I swear I'll be there.
Chance is buried
Just below
The blinding snow.

You burn on the breadline
And ribbons and all
So walk to winter
You won't be late, you always wait
This generation,
That walk to the wall
But I'm not angry,
Get your gear
Get out of here

Walk out to winter,
Swear I'll be there.
Chill will wake you,
High and dry
You'll wonder why.
Walk out to winter,
Swear I'll be there.
You'll find
Snow blind
This is mine
This is mine!

Words and music by Roddy Frame

[*] I love the Blu-Tak reference. It used to happen to my posters all the time in cold weather.

[In] Appropriate Crushes - Erin McKean

Erin McKean, Chief Consulting Editor for American Dictionaries at Oxford University Press. Youngest ever editor of a major international English language dictionary.

She edits dictionaries. For a living. And she blogs about frocks.

Geek-o-meter way over in the red. (She says so herself.)

Simply awesome. Swoon, swoon.

Unbepissed In Apricity

Thanks to the magic of the Oxford English Dictionary (and people who write about dictionaries) I know that I am experiencing apricity this morning.

Apricity means winter sunlight, and it is streaming through my window, warming me (I'm writing in a tee-shirt) and making it hard to see the computer screen. What a very useful word to know.

Another, far less useful, word in the OED is unbepissed. It means 'not being urinated on'. It describes me accurately. But I'm not sure why anybody needed to invent a word for it.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Cheese and Crackers

"It says here that my son was cavorting on a beach in Ibiza with someone called Helena Christensen . . . Why is that in the newspaper?"

"She's a well-known supermodel, William."

"Oh really . . . so it's a good thing?"

This is, apparently, a true story from the life of William O'Malley Armstrong, whose son is Rollo (of Faithless) and whose daughter is Dido. (What would we do for embarrassment, eh. if we didn't have parents?)

Helena is pretty hot, and you know what turns her on?

"Whenever my head is like a maze, I turn to the easy things in life, the things that mean the most to me: Sex and cheese. These things are connected.

"There've been times when I've bought a whole pound of cheese and walked down the street and eaten it in one go... I think it's incredibly sensual."

"Actually I've seriously thought about getting a cheese tattoo. A nice Edam on my shoulder, maybe."

Once again, I find myself going for the mad chick. This is, after all,

a woman who dated Michael Hutchence and Heath Ledger. Do I really want to join that club? Would I ever be able to satisfy this woman, except at great cost to myself?

Except maybe she's onto something. Cheese is sex. Maybe cheese is the new drug of choice for the guys who want to get the girl.

Anybody got any cheese porn I can borrow?

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Not Tonight... I'm Blogging

46% of women would rather go without sex for two weeks than go without access to the Internet for that long, according to the Wall Street Journal.

That includes 49% of women aged 18-34 (oh dear...), and 52% of women aged 35-44 (yikes!)

I know I would find life difficult without broadband, but since I don't currently spend 8-10 hours a day having sex, I don't feel I can make a valid comparison.

The Discos of Christmas Past - No 1

This song used to be the definitive 'slow dance' at school dances in the seventies. If you were lucky, the DJ played this, if not, he played 'Nights In White Satin' which was nothing like as cool and involved Justin Hayward bellowing "I love you" which was totally uncool.

After the track ended, the lights would come up and we would all traipse out into the freezing cold, casting furtive sidelong glances to see who had copped off with whom, and whether they wanted anyone else to notice.

I've never seen this video before - thanks to Mitzi Szereto for bigging it up on Facebook. The band's clothes are wonderful, and the way they stand still with their arms folded reminds me of Madness, but slowed down. I never knew what the band looked like. Gary Brooker (the singer) looks like Peter Cook.

Whiter Shade of Pale
Procul Harum

About 2:35 into the video, when he sings the line about the vestal virgins, the scene switches from a churchyard to Trafalgar Square, and the camera follows a woman's bottom in a peachy pink dress. This probably means nothing, but I can't help but wonder...

By following the links from YouTube, I found the lyrics on, including two extra verses that aren't on the record, (but apparently are sung in concert) that reveal the woman in the song as a mermaid. We live, and learn...

We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
but the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
as the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
the waiter brought a tray

And so it was that later
as the miller told his tale
that her face, at first just ghostly,
turned a whiter shade of pale.

She said, 'There is no reason
and the truth is plain to see.'
But I wandered through my playing cards
and would not let her be
one of sixteen vestal virgins
who were leaving for the coast
and although my eyes were open
they might have just as well've been closed

She said, 'I'm home on shore leave,'
though in truth we were at sea
so I took her by the looking glass
and forced her to agree
saying, 'You must be the mermaid
who took Neptune for a ride.'
But she smiled at me so sadly
that my anger straightway died

If music be the food of love
then laughter is its queen
and likewise if behind is in front
then dirt in truth is clean
My mouth by then like cardboard
seemed to slip straight through my head
So we crash-dived straightway quickly
and attacked the ocean bed.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Gordie Is A Dirty Old Man

Nothing says 'Dirty Old Man' quite like a good hacking, wheezing cough. Today, I am in good humour, and sounding like Wilfred Brambell, the actor who played Albert Steptoe in Steptoe and Son.

In real life, Mr. Brambell was actually rather posh, and gay in a time when you weren't allowed to be.

American readers may recognise him from A Hard Day's Night, where he played Paul McCartney's granddad. There was a running joke all through the film that they kept referring to him as 'a very clean old man'.

His character was also supposed to be a member of the IRA, and kept ranting about how much he hated the British, which makes me think that people didn't take the IRA very seriously in 1964.

with subtitles for the hard of hearing

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The Holidays Are Coming

"I met her in a club down in old Soho
Where they drink champagne
And it tastes just like Coca-Cola
C-o-l-a cola"

"The holidays are coming,
The holidays are coming,
Go into a bar and
Pick up a tranny..."

This holiday season, please
consume in moderation,
and enjoy responsibly.

Gordie Is Calling In Gay

I'm "calling in gay" today, because I support civil marriages for same-sex partnerships.

Not just because I want everyone to experience true love that lasts for ever. (That might take a little longer than equality.) I also believe in mortgages and tax and insurance, and saying who your next of kin is.

I also believe in freedom of religion, so I'm not asking anyone to stop condemning people to hell if that's where they truly belong. Just let's go down the Town Hall first, ok?

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

On Having No Head

Since I'm having problems with my head this morning, I've been reminded of Douglas Harding, the philosopher who wrote 'On Having No Head'.

Harding may have been inspired by this drawing, by Ernst Mach, the physicist. It's Mach's representation of a subjective, first person point of view on the world.

"What actually happened was something absurdly simple and unspectacular: I stopped thinking. A peculiar quiet, an odd kind of alert limpness or numbness, came over me. Reason and imagination and all mental chatter died down. For once, words really failed me. Past and future dropped away. I forgot who and what I was, my name, manhood, animalhood, all that could be called mine. It was as if I had been born that instant, brand new, mindless, innocent of all memories. There existed only the Now, that present moment and what was clearly given in it. To look was enough. And what I found was khaki trouserlegs terminating downwards in a pair of brown shoes, khaki sleeves terminating sideways in a pair of pink hands, and a khaki shirtfront terminating upwards in—absolutely nothing whatever! Certainly not in a head.

It took me no time at all to notice that this nothing, this hole where a head should have been was no ordinary vacancy, no mere nothing. On the contrary, it was very much occupied. It was a vast emptiness vastly filled, a nothing that found room for everything—room for grass, trees, shadowy distant hills, and far above them snowpeaks like a row of angular clouds riding the blue sky. I had lost a head and gained a world.

It was all, quite literally, breathtaking. I seemed to stop breathing altogether, absorbed in the Given. Here it was, this superb scene, brightly shining in the clear air, alone and unsupported, mysteriously suspended in the void, and (and this was the real miracle, the wonder and delight) utterly free of "me", unstained by any observer. Its total presence was my total absence, body and soul. Lighter than air, clearer than glass, altogether released from myself, I was nowhere around."

I think threre's a lot to be said for not having a head.

Here is a video of Douglas Harding talking about having no head. He's a lovely, grandfatherly, very British man, talking about consciousness and identity.

Problems With My Head

I woke up this morning with a splitting headache.

It took me an hour and twenty minutes to get around to taking some pain killers.

This tells you a lot about my inability to focus my attention, doesn't it?

Monday, 8 December 2008

Proposition 8: The Musical

You know what really pushes my homophobia button?
(Apart from Catholic priests with halitosis, I mean...)



Broadway musicals have to be the least sexual musical genre ever invented, and yet gay men simply adore them... (rolls eyes)

So it was a real test of my commitment to equality and diversity that I sat through "Proposition 8: The Musical". And you know what? It's bloody funny.

What would Jesus do? Support gay marriage? Or give up shrimp cocktail? You'll have to watch the movie if you want to find out.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Health and Happiness

I have a chest cold, dear readers. And do you what's great about that? I feel fine. For once, I'm ill and I can just accept it; I'm not hating myself, nor wishing someone would punch me in the face.

To celebrate this entirely atypical experience, here is a clip of Kinky Friedman singing 'Old Ben Lucas (Had A Lot of Mucus)' (Warning: contains Seventies cultural references.)

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Floreat Escapeons!

Today I ask you to join me in celebrating Donn Coppens of Whatevepeg, MB (that presumably stands for Mad Bastard). Donnnnnnnnnn chose to celebrate his birthday this year by having his genitalia surgically enhanced to please the ladies.

Well isn't he the optimist?

In honour of the great and anomalous Escapeons and his enduring efforts to drag Canada back to the Age of Enlightment, I am posting a video by top pop combo Ladytron, which is an ode to male sexual performance, which reaches its peak at the age of seventeen (biologically, if not culturally).

They only want you when you're seventeen
When you're twenty-one
You're no fun
They take a polaroid and let you go
Say they'll let you know
So come on

(*repeat 7 times*)

We only want you when you're seventeen
When you're twenty-one
You're no fun


* I assume "repeat 7 times" was meant to be witty.